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April 28, 2014

Suped Up Feature: Just One Look by Virginia Kelly + Racy Reads & Giveaway

Just One Look
Virginia Kelly
April 11, 2014
Romantic Suspense
Sometimes that's all it takes…

FBI Special Agent Drew Davenport, still recovering from a life-threatening wound after a disastrous shootout, doesn’t have time to be serious about any woman. But Mia Alvarez, with her down-to-earth warmth, leaves him blind-sided.

A painful experience crushed Mia’s belief in love. The last thing she needs is an entanglement with Drew, whose sister is marrying her brother. And certainly not when she’s keeping a major secret. Despite her misgivings, forced proximity and overwhelming attraction lead to passion.

When Mia's secret shows up in the form of a stalker, Drew’s determined to protect her. Can he overcome his fear of failing again when emotions get in the way? And while Mia trusts Drew with her safety, can she trust in love when it happens with just one look?

Just One Look is a stand-alone companion novel to Against the Wind




That’s when Drew saw her.
The knock-out, fiddling with the younger sister’s hair. Who could that be? He’d met everyone, hadn’t he? Both sisters, the endless cousins and assorted relatives. Who the hell was she?
She turned, and he knew instantly who she was.
The older sister. The prickly one with thick glasses. Mia, she’d said as she’d shaken his hand with ice-cold fingers and a businessman’s grip. Only she wasn’t wearing the thick glasses she’d worn at the rehearsal dinner, nor the prim business suit. She stood next to the younger sister... Izzy, that was it. Dizzy Izzy, he’d thought last night. She stood next to Izzy as calm and serene as a queen in a knee-length cream-colored dress that enhanced everything the business suit had hidden.
She wasn’t tall or blond, what he’d always considered his type. Prepared to dismiss her since he’d been fooled too many times by good looks, he nearly turned away. Then she smiled at something the flower girl, daughter of one of the cousins, said, and squatted to be eye level with the little girl.
And all the prim, all the regal, disappeared.
She was simply breathtaking.
He remembered watching one of the old Godfather movies and ridiculing how, based on a single look, the youngest Corleone son had gone bat-shit crazy over a girl.
His rational self argued that this sort of thing didn’t happen.
Still, he watched as she totally disregarded formality, hair, clothes, and hugged the flower girl. No cold fingers or businessman’s grip about her.
Warm and vital and gorgeous and classy…and so damn sexy.
Jesus. He’d counted on a few days of sun, sand and water. He hadn’t counted on her.
It felt like getting shot in the gut again.




Ask the Reader: Is it too “Racy?”


The Motion Picture Association of America rates movies according to language, violence and sexuality. They go from G, for general audiences, to NC-17 (what I think of as X). The “slippery” ground, to me, is the difference between PG13 and R.


One of my books, In the Arms of a Stranger, received one review that said it was PG13, another said it was R. I would have said R, certainly not NC-17. I was surprised that anyone would think it was PG13 material. I wouldn’t want my thirteen year old and younger reading that book, not because of violenceor language, but because of sexuality. I believe it’s an R:“Contains some adult material. Parents are urged to learn more about the film before taking their young children with them.”(MPAA).

These reviews reinforced my view that while tastes and expectations have changed over the years, opinions are unique to each reader. Especially when it comes to romance novels.What’s considered “racy” really depends on the individual.

Back in 1972, George Carlin claimed there were “Seven Dirty Words You Can Never Say on Television.” I’m almost 100%sure we’ve heard every one of them on television in the past few years. Novels reflect this change. While “Gosh, darn!” might have worked in the days of our parents and grandparents, can we realistically expect our rough and tumble special ops hero to keep his language that mild when a dangerous situation goes south?

It’s not just expectations of language that have changed, butthose about sexuality have changed, too. We can now pick ourromance novel heat level. Mild, medium or hot (like our choices for salsa). On either end, there are the sweet G’s and the eroticNC-17’s.

What about my books? I’d give them all a medium R rating, with the newer ones leaning more toward the higher end of R than the first one published ten years ago. I’m not too concerned about those words that couldn’t be said on television way back when (although I’ve never used them all, and probably never will). When things go drastically, dangerously wrong, I’m comfortable using words my heroes would use in the real world. Same goes with my heroines.

And the sexuality? I don’t write erotic romance. I strive for sexual tension, that push/pull that keeps the couple together yet apart. There are love scenes, but my goal is to write a good lovestory with an edge of danger. The characters, their conflicts—their STORY—dictates their actions. My latest, Just One Look, is another R—to me.

So, back to that question of PG13 vs R. It depends on the reader.

It’s really the golden age for readers because we can find that perfect read. And where years ago, reading a book with a “racy” cover in a public place might have made us hide the book behind something, we can now load our ereaders with as many books as we want covering as many tastes as we may have. Or just go ahead and open that print book and read wherever we are, without a care about what others might think.

So, what about you? Have you been able to find that perfect style—just the right sweetness or spiciness—in the romance novels you read? Have ebooks made it easier for you to read an R, or an NC-17 book, or one with a racy cover?



Virginia’s first story involved a mouse that hitched a ride with Paul Revere. She was eleven. A bit later and bit more organized, dreams of romance (with a happily ever after), adventure, and danger came together to produce To the Limit, her RWA Golden Heart nominated novel. She writes about dangerous heroes (sexy, gorgeous ones, of course!) and the adventurous women willing to take a chance on them. An academic librarian, Virginia is a native of Peru and lives in Florida with her family.


Follow Virginia!









42 comments:

  1. I'm definitely of the very hot, as racy as it might get persuasion. Throw in some swearing too, if it's what that character's voice demands. Run with it, because unless we're part of a medieval fresco or something, we do swear & do racy stuff in real life. Why should the drug of my choice ie reading try to pain life as anything but what it is, right? :) I might not want to have kids talk the way characters do, but then again it's not the book's job to be kid-friendly unless it's actually meant for kids.
    But then again, I'm totally in awe of the whole "clean romance" idea, so maybe I've got a way 'dirty' mind, lol. Whatever about life is "clean" anyway, that authentic stories should follow the example of? Meh :)
    I'm entirely with Virginia Kelley's opinion.

    Ebooks have made it easier to have pretty much immediate access to more of the things I like, so I'm a big, big fan!

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    1. Great comment, Livia. I agree--immediate access is wonderful. And I too think "clean romance" is great.

      Thanks for commenting.

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    2. I'm with you and it really depends on the story. Sometimes it could be awkward to insert crudeness when it doesn't mesh with the story well.

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  2. The rating can sometimes also depend on the country. I live in a very liberal province, so a lot of things that are rated R in Ontario are actually PG13 in Quebec. It's kinda funny... and confusing. I like when authors specify what type of content readers can expect in their book with a warning because that way it takes some of the guess work out.

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    1. Interesting, Carmel. I hadn't considered that. I live in a very conservative part of the US. Yes, we authors should state what to expect.

      Thanks for commenting.

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    2. That's true too! I grew up in the Philippines and I promise, the shows on HBO would be considered porn there.

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  3. Rating, eh, dunno, but I do like them sweet, so I guess heart I am pg13

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    1. Hi Blodeuedd. I like sweet, too, and have read what I thought would be PG13 only to classify it as a lower level R. Ratings, are, I believe, in the "eys of the beholder." :-)

      Thanks for stopping by.

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  4. I don't know ratings are so subjective for some people. I think they are a good guideline and I would like to see them on YA books because so many YA books are way beyond the PG13 and your target audience is usually not ready for the explicit stuff. Yet, how do accurately determine a proper rating?

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    1. When it comes to YA, I think that would fall on the discretion of the parent and in some ways one could relate it to banned books too! Like I would encourage my kid to read Harry Potter, very PG, but I know some parents wouldn't want their kids reading that not for sex but because of the witchcraft. Different strokes

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  5. Exactly, Heidi. I have no idea how to accurately determine the proper rating. I just know my opinion based on being a parent. As an author, I've seen check lists of what's in a book as an attempt to determine violence, sexuality and language, but not really as a reader.

    Thanks for the comment.

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  6. This is a great topic and one I've thought about a lot lately. For some of my tours I've let people know what sort of content it has and some tend to comment that it was practically erotica and others say that it's a 'clean romance'. There's a MAJOR difference there. So yeah, it's hard to really communicate how extreme the content is.

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    1. Back to the "eye of the beholder." Wasn't there a supreme court justice who said he couldn't define porn, but if he saw it, he'd recognize it? I'm WAY loosely paraphrasing here :-)

      Thanks for commenting. I'm glad I'm not alone.

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    2. I feel you, I've read books that are "erotica" but compared to the erotica I've read, it's "normal". Lines are blurred definitely

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  7. Great post! I get into moods...sometimes I want something light and sweet and then others I'm in the mood for something a lot more erotic. For the most part, the books I read are right in the middle (what you classified as the R Rating). There's violence, language, and sexuality...romance with some bite :)

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    1. I really like that: "romance with some bite." I agree, our moods dictate what we want to read.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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    2. I'm a mood reader too! Honestly, I'm tired of the explicit sex, I want books that leaves a little to the imagination.

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  8. It's true about how everyone has differing opinions on raciness. Personally, I'm good with all 'temps' of racy and sometimes I forget to distinguish the level when I review.

    I love romantic suspense so I'm game to give these books a try!

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    1. I sometimes wonder if our opinions are generational, but I suspect there's more to it than that.

      Hope you enjoy these if you read them. I have to plug my latest bit of news. Just today I learned that IN THE ARMS OF A STRANGER (the book that received the PG13 and the R) is a finalist in the National Readers Choice Awards. Racy or not, depending on your taste, I'm happy :-)

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    2. I agree with you Virginia, it can be generational to an extent... congrats in your NRCA nom!

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  9. I'm gonna pick up this series, Braine. You know I'm in need of something different and the romantic suspense genre sounds great! I love the excerpt...especially The Godfather reference. :) And thanks for sharing the guest post. I totally agree that books have kept up with the times - and that everyone has differing opinions on what constitutes which rating. Where kids are concerned, I'm more cautious and I believe that just because you can read it doesn't mean you should read it. But I don't mind violence, language or sexuality in my books (or movies, when I see them) as long as it's not gratuitous. And *ha* yes, ereaders have made it easier for me to read racier titles because my kids can't see the covers. :)

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    1. Oh, I agree, cautious is the word with kids. I still remember when one of my boys saw bits of Alien on TV and asked me to check his closet and under the bed when was ready to go to sleep. That had to do with suspense and violence. That young man is now grown--but I'm not sure I want him to read my books and judge whether they're PG 13 or R. I think I'm blushing just thinking about it. :-)

      Thanks for the comments. Hope you enjoy the series if you pick them up.

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    2. Yup, ebooks changed the game in so many ways and the media as a whole are moving in the same direction, pushing the envelop all the time

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  10. Oh definitely my kindle has allowed me to "spice" up my reading ;) LOL.. waaaaay back in the day I'd make book covers out of paper bags to disguise what I was reading. I almost miss those. But I don't miss having to hide the more risque covers from my mother! I'm open to trying just about anything. The only thing that I look for is a good story and for any "spiciness" to flow well within that story. Buuut... I do worry about some of the more racier erotica being too available. I don't think there should be any censoring but I think a lot of that material is way unsuitable for under 18. I remember sneaking Julie Garwoods when I was a teenager but they were sweet. Some of the stuff today could be damaging if there wasn't any education or experience prior.

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    1. Paper bag covers! I love it! Hiding books from my mother, I do, remember that. I agree that the spiciness should flow from the story and that erotica should be clearly marked. Of course if we were hiding what was considered racy then those I consider too young probably are too. Lots to think about.
      Thanks for stopping by.

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    2. Hahaha that's funny! Thank god for ereaders!

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  11. Ratings are hard, and while general things such as sex, violence and language certainly help define PG13 and R it gets sticky when you get down to the nitty gritty..like implied sex or sexuality. I think we need basic guidelines but every reader/parent needs to determine what works for them. I know when my kids were teens ...everything they read I read. It allowed for conversation. Great post. Romantic suspense is one of my favorite genres and I look forward to reading this.

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    1. It's getting harder and harder IMO. The books written for the teen audience is waaay different to what I was reading back then.

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  12. Reading what our children read is a great idea. I bet you had some great conversations.
    Thanks for commenting!

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  13. This is really a subjective subject, isn't it? What bothers a lot of readers doesn't bother me at all, sometimes, and vice versa. Thanks for the great guest post. I like the excerpt, too!

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    1. Glad you liked the excerpt, Andrea. Yes, this is a VERY subjective subject. I'm more bothered by violence. With sexuality, if it's gratuitous--if the only reason for including it is to make the book "racy," then I stop reading. If it fits the characters, then no problem. But I'm an adult :-)

      Thanks for posting.

      Thanks for stopping by.

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    2. It is subjective and I'm with you. Others can tolerate torture, rape, brutality, etc., I can't.

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  14. What a great discussion post Virginia! I find some teenagers read really racy books and their parents let them no problem, whereas I wouldn't want my own to be reading them. I guess it's all subjective and depends on the parents!

    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence

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    1. Absolutely depends on the parents. I work with young adults--college age. I'm all for having them read anything. But, they're adults, not pre-teens or teens.
      Thanks for stopping by.

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    2. My parents gave me free reign reading harlequins & historical romances when I was a very young teen. It sure made me curious... I'll leave it at that... so I have to agree with you about parental guidance and censorship LOL

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  15. I think pretty much anything goes on TV & in books now. It's a different world to 1972.

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    1. Very true! I think my mom would blush if she read the erotica books I've read, she'd most likely call it porn LOL

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  16. Incredibly different from 1972, I totally agree. Even different, IMO, from 2002.

    Thanks for stopping by.

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