I Need a Hero by @JoanReeves #mgtab

Gorgeous male model in wet t-shirtDo you know that song, “Holding Our for a Hero,” sung by Bonnie Tyler? When Tyler sings, “I need a hero,” that’s exactly what romance authors think as we breathe life into the character our heroine will fall for.

Readers are looking for a hero to thrill them too.

As a romance author, I spend a lot of time thinking about heroes and how to make a story’s hero be perfect for the heroine.

What Is a Hero?

Is he the guy in the wet t-shirt? He’s got brooding good looks and toned body. Does that make him a hero? People lay claim to football players, rock stars, actors, and other famous types as heroes, but is that really what a hero is? Do extreme success and likability make someone a hero?

Not in my opinion. Popularity, personality, and skill in a demanding field just makes an interesting man. Maybe it makes someone a potential hero, but it takes more thran a pretty face, good body, and charm to be a hero—in a romance novel or in real life.

Soldier surrounded by children.Real Heroes Give

A real hero gives unselfishly to help others. Most people don’t think about the heroes in their own family, but I think you should look no farther than your own father, grandfather, brother, or other male family members to find heroes.

Think of the men in your family who work hard to give their children a better life. They’re heroes. Far better to idolize them than some hip hop artist or bad boy football star.

Real heroes—whether male or female, on a personal level or the world’s arena—give. They sacrifice, often for strangers. Sometimes that sacrifice is the ultimate one that claims the hero’s life. Real heroes are the Fire Fighters, Police Officers, and other first responders. They are the soldiers who put their lives on the line for us.

They are the doctors and nurses who volunteer for Doctors Without Borders, the emergency room medical staff, the volunteers in free clinics, and the dentists who spend their vacation in third world country villages, providing care for the poorest of people who have little access to any care.

They are the volunteers who dig water wells in poor villages where people don’t have the basic necessities we take for granted like clean water. So many heroes, and they’re everywhere.

Novel Hero Versus Real Life Hero

Is a romance novel hero vastly different from a real life hero? Maybe the romance hero is a little better looking and has six-pack abs rather than love handles, but the qualities of protectiveness, unselfishness, and caring exist in both the romance novel hero and the real life hero.

This desire to protect and serve is why so many romance heroes are soldiers and cops. In my romantic comedy, CinCa Blue, I have a cop hero and a cop heroine. I did a bit of a flip-flop with what the reader might expect. In most stories involving a cop hero, the cop avoids commitment at all costs.

In Cinderella Blue,, Detective Bruce Benton, first introduced in Nobody’s Cinderella, is commitment phobic, but so is Detective Andrea Luft, his new partner who he realizes is perfect for him. He’s the first in their growing relationship to want commitment.

I had fun solving Andie’s problems stemming from her emotional baggage. Here’s a short excerpt to show you these two cops in action.Cover of Cinderella Blue by Joan Reeves

Excerpt, Cinderella Blue

Heat shimmered in waves above the pavement. Across the street, Bruce Benton saw a cluster of shops that created one-stop shopping for women looking to drop a few grand on a pretentious wedding. He crossed the street and headed to the flower shop.

As he passed the glass storefront of a photographer’s studio, he saw a woman inside. A nano second later, he stopped abruptly. The heat must be frying his brain. He retraced his steps, casually glancing in again. The woman wore a wedding dress, but instead of a bridal bouquet, she held a handgun.

Bruce drew his Glock and eased the door open. A bell over the door jingled. He cringed as he slipped inside. Maybe she was deaf.

The woman whirled. Nope. Not deaf. She held her gun in the same shooter’s stance as he. “Take it easy, lady. Maybe the photographer took some lousy pictures of you. That’s no reason to shoot him.”

“That’Cover of Cinderella Blue by Joan Reevess funny.” The blonde suddenly grinned, but her gun never wavered. “You’re cute. Anyone ever tell you that you look kind of like Karl Urban?”

“Let’s not talk about some Aussie actor. Let’s talk about you. Why would a sweet thing like you have a gun?”

“Sweet thing?” Irritation replaced her grin. “Lower your gun. Lay it on the floor.”

“I’m afraid I can’t do that. You see I’m a–”

Everything happened at once. A man rushed from behind her, slammed into her, and sent her flying into Bruce. They went down in a tangle of arms, legs, and miles of white satin. She came up snarling.
Bruce leaped up, gun in hand. “Freeze!”Cover of Cinderella Blue by Joan Reeves with Cityscape background.

He grinned and pulled out his handcuffs. “I always wanted to say that. Just like a TV cop. You lost your gun, sweet thing.”

He stepped toward her. With a snarl, she whirled. He saw a white blur and felt agony in his hand. A roundhouse kick to his solar plexus cut off his gasp of pain. He hit the floor. Wheezing, he tried to rise, but the blonde stood over him with her gun–and his–pointed at him.

She smiled. “Uh uh, sweet thing. You stay right where you are.”

Bruce groaned. Not from pain so much as humiliation. Crap. He’d never live this down.

Your Thoughts

What kind of a hero do you like best in romance novels? Does your ideal hero reflect the qualities you admire in your real life heroes?

Gingerbread Cake Means Christmas by @JoanReeves #mgtab

In our home, it’s not officially Christmas until I make Old-Fashioned Gingerbread.

Everyone talks about gingerbread men and gingerbread houses during the holidays, and both of those items are really cute. But, to me, they look better than they taste.

I don’t like crisp, hard-baked gingerbread cookies. Maybe it’s because my mom never made gingerbread people or houses. She made gingerbread cake and served it warm from the oven with a dollop of cream cheese frosting sprinkled with lemon zest on top. From scratch.

Oh, my goodness, the smell of the gingerbread baking made salivary glands go into overdrive. And the taste? Amazing.

Many people think it takes too long to make a cake from scratch so they buy a cake mix. I’m sure the cake mix is probably a good product, and you may want to try it.

However, I’d like to share my recipe for homemade gingerbread with you. It’s darker in appearance than the picture shown on the box. That’s probably because my recipe calls for molasses. That’s what gives it the darker color, rich aroma, and depth of flavor.

Old-Fashioned Gingerbread

  • 1/2 cup sugar, white or brown
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 1 cup hot water (hot from the tap, not boiling)
  1. Butter a 9x9x2 inch baking pan and set aside. Turn your oven on and set it for 350 degrees F.
  2. Sift flour into a small bowl along with the ginger, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl, and add the egg. Beat well.
  4. Add the molasses to the butter mixture and beat well.
  5. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the butter mixture a little at a time. Mix well after each addition until all is incorporated.
  6. Carefully stir in the hot water and mix well.
  7. Pour the batter into the baking pan and place in the preheated oven.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 40-45 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  9. Serve warm plain or with a dollop of whipped cream or cream cheese frosting.

I made Gingerbread this past weekend so, for me, it’s officially Christmas!

Be sure and enter our Rafflecopter on our Home Page and check out all the wonderful Holiday Romances—books and box sets galore—you’ll find from the very talented authors of The Authors’ Billboard.

Holiday Romances by Joan Reeves

Above are a few of my Christmas Romances for your consideration. I invite you to sign up for my Newsletter which has new release information and giveaways too.

I wish you a Merry Christmas and a very Happy, Healthy, Prosperous New Year!

Better Late Than Never? by @JoanReeves #mgtab

I think the phrase “better late than never” came from someone who was simply overwhelmed with life and had too much to do in too little time.

Take today for instance. I had my day planner marked to post to this blog on the 23rd. However, I was so busy playing catch-up in other areas and meeting appointments that I completely forgot to check my day planner yesterday.

I hate missing something I’d scheduled. So, this post is “better late than never” I guess. Saying that once again made me investigate the origin of this expression which I’ve been using far too often of late.

According to what I found, the origin of “better late than never” can be found in classic literature. Attributed to Geoffrey Chaucer—yes, that far back—the phrase was first seen in 1386 in The Yeoman’s Tale, found in The Canterbury Tales, to wit: “For better than never is late; never to succeed would be too long a period.”

Rather than preen about quoting something that is vaguely intellectual, I think I’d rather promise myself to be better at prioritizing and always check my day planner at the end of the day.

I think I need to take a day off and do something fun like this sign says. Keep calm and read a book.

I have just the thing in mind too. Well, it’s not actually a book but a collection of short stories by my friends and me.

I’m talking about CHRISTMAS SHORTS, only 99cents on Amazon. My story in the collection is STUCK ON THE NAUGHTY LIST. I’ve been wanting to read the other stories in the set. Today, the weather in Houston is sunny and mild. I think I’ll take my Kindle outside to the patio and read.

CHRISTMAS SHORTS is a #1 Best Seller. some stories are sweet; some are spicy and deliciously naughty. In other words, there’s  something for everyone.

Grab a copy and see why everyone loves this box set.

Personally, I love short stories because they allow me to read and finish something in the fragments of time that somehow describe my days. Like many, I’m so busy that I find myself gravitating to short stories that satisfy my desire to read.

Be sure and enter the Authors Billboard November Giveaway and check out all the featured books on the Home Page. We have published many Box Sets so visit our Books Page and browse the wonderful bestselling collections we’ve created.

Enjoy this Season of Giving Thanks and the calm before the storm of holiday shopping!

Ghost Towns of Texas by @JoanReeves #mgtab

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Well, it does if you’re a writer who began plotting and writing Christmas romances a few months ago.

You’re going to be delighted with CHRISTMAS SHORTS, the new holiday romance collection we’ve created just for you. I’m taking the opportunity today to do a cover reveal for my story in the box set, Stuck on the Naughty List, a romance about a girl who left the man she loved so he could live the life he’d been groomed for since birth.

Now, you may wonder what that has to do with Ghost Towns of Texas, one of my hobbies one might say.

Stuck on the Naughty List is set in Capitola, Texas, a town that no longer exists. Like many of the more than 1,000 ghost towns, Capitola, located in Mason County which is part of the Texas Hill Country,boomed briefly and then faded away.

This was the 3rd book I’ve set in a town that was once a real town and is now just a memory.

Capitola intrigued me from the moment I read about it because it was founded by a woman—and not just any woman, but an avid reader.

Sarah E. Jenkins, the postmistress, founded the community was founded in 1894. She loved to read and named the town after the heroine in a popular novel of that era: The Hidden Hand, or, Capitola the Madcap by American author E.D.E.N. Southworth. (That’s Emma Dorothy Eliza Nevitte Southworth.)

The little community failed to thrive, and the post office closed its doors a dozen years later. Then the route of the main road was altered, and the town faded away. However, it was the perfect inspiration for me to create a series with a western swing dance hall, the Capitola Palace Dance Hall, as the center of the social life in the town and surrounding counties.

In case you don’t know, American Western Swing music is a genre that’s entirely Texan. It came out of the Great Depression with Bob Wills as one of the co-founders of the genre.

The song by Waylon Jennings, “Bob Wills Is Still the King,” is a tribute to Wills and Western Swing music which is played in Austin and by popular bands like Asleep at the Wheel. (Check YouTube!)

I loved “meeting” Cassie and Ben and will feature them in the second book as they join forces with a couple of newcomers to save the Capitola Palace Dance Hall from destruction.

While you’re waiting for CHRISTMAS SHORTS, be sure and check out all the other wonderful holiday collections and other box sets we’ve produced. Remember to enter our Giveaway.

Enjoy autumn! It’s delightful here in Texas.