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#IWSG Drawing the Line

Join us HERE, the brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh.

Thank you to this month’s co-hosts: Jemima Pitt, J Lenni Dorner, Cathrina Constantine, Ronel Janse van Vuuren, and Mary Aalgaard!

Hope your October is off to a great start, writers! Warm weather has continued in Ohio, allowing me to sneak in some outdoor swims late in the season. Friends and I swam in a local quarry last week, and the 72-degree water temperature was brisk but invigorating.

Sadly, I had to cancel a swim vacation in Baja, Mexico. We planned to glamp and swim 2-4 miles a day in the Pacific, but international travel didn’t seem wise in the throes of the never-ending pandemic. But maybe I’ll fulfill my dream of swimming in Spain next year instead.

This month’s question: In your writing, where do you draw the line, with either topics or language?

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay 

I rely on my reading preferences to draw the line in my writing. I enjoy reading creative curse words and healing from horrific traumas. Therefore, my characters sometimes swear like sailors, and I embrace the challenge of delving into the aftermath of sexual trauma or criminal violence in my sport romance and romantic suspense novels.

Though romance is my favorite genre, I don’t enjoy reading plentiful, graphic sex scenes. It’s no surprise that I avoid writing erotica.

I also value free speech. While I don’t want to offend readers, I hope to stay true to myself without worrying about political correctness.


Review: Hard Time by Cara McKenna

Hard TimeHard Time by Cara McKenna
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hot for Prisoner

Since Shawshank Redemption and the time I met hero Michael Scofield from the TV show Prison Break, I’ve been fascinated by prison stories. While this novel captured some of the thrill of a forbidden prison romance, Eric Collier is no Michael Scofield.

Annie Goodhouse is woman in her mid-twenties who recently moved from her hometown of Charleston to a town near Detroit. There are two reasons for her move: 1) a new job as a librarian in Michigan and 2) an ex-boyfriend who abused her in South Carolina.

“I’d needed a change of scenery. A place with snowy winters, where the men spoke in honest, sharp-edged Northern accents, incapable of glazing their empty promises in sweet Southern honey.”

One day a week, librarian Annie teaches and mentors at a local prison. There she meets tall, handsome, and quiet inmate Eric. When she helps him with his learning disability, he practices how to write better by penning her the most beautiful love letters, like:

“I like to watch your mouth when you read from that book. I can’t tell you what the story’s even about but I’ve got your lips memorized. I shut my eyes sometimes and just listen to how you talk. I’ve never been with a southern girl but it’s like every word you say comes out rolled in sugar. I think about kissing you. Real deep and slow with our eyes closed. Maybe feel your hands on my chest or my back. As I hold your face or your hair. As I got to see if you taste like sugar to match how you sound.”

Isn’t that so sweet and sexy?

This book had a fantastic beginning. I felt Annie’s fear and excitement about helping the inmates, and I swooned over Eric’s letters. But the rest of the story didn’t enthrall me as much. The author did a great job with the authentic characterization of Eric, a simple man from an impoverished, dysfunctional background, but I just didn’t find him very appealing. Perhaps I need a more intellectual hero to turn me on. The sex scenes seemed almost crude at points. This is all a very personal reaction to one character, and some readers may fall for Eric head over handcuffs.

I definitely did enjoy the growth of both Annie and Eric over the course of the story. And the writing was excellent, like this passage:

“His hand closed around mine, strong and possessive. The hand that’d done unspeakable things in the name of brotherly love. A hand capable of the tenderest acts of intimacy and affection. The hand that had penned the most breathtaking letters, for my eyes alone.
View all my reviews

Questions for Romance Readers

1. How much does your individual preference affect your enjoyment of the story?
2. How much erotica do you like in a story?
3. How much “dirty talk” do you like in romance novels?