Genre confusion, a re-release, and a #giveaway

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Today is re-release day for me! My novella, The Christmas Knot, was part of a boxed set that came out earlier this year (Captivated By His Kiss), but now that the set is no longer on sale, I decided to release it on its own.

At which point I had a bit of a genre issue, because it didn’t quite fit anywhere. So I gave it a subtitle: A Slightly Gothic Regency Mystery Romance Novella. If the word ‘Christmas’ hadn’t been in the title, I would have slipped that into the subtitle, too!

To tell you the truth, I have this problem with most of the stories I write. They almost always have some romance in them. Often there’s some mystery, or at least suspense. Frequently there are paranormal elements. Some are sexier than others. Should I have included ‘hotness level sort of medium’ in my subtitle? The cover doesn’t quite convey the heat level, either – it looks like a sweet story, but there’s one short love scene. But I like the cover, because it conveys a feeling of romantic love, and that’s what matters in the end.

I find it difficult if not impossible to to fit everything I write into one genre or another. Do you think a story needs to fit into a particular box? Do you, as a reader, prefer to know exactly what to expect when you start a book? What do you absolutely want to know ahead of time (such as a Happily Ever After) and what are you willing to be surprised by? Please comment for a chance to win the giveaway.

Harlequin has several of my “Undone” novellas (which required a fair degree of hotness) on sale for $1.99 this week. To celebrate this sale, I’ll give away two to lucky commenters (winner’s choice).

Here’s the blurb of The Christmas Knot:

Widowed and destitute, Edwina White takes a position as governess in a remote village in the north of England—in a haunted house. She’s so desperate that she’ll take anything, and besides, she doesn’t believe in ghosts. Little does she know that her new employer is the seducer who lied and deceived her many years ago.

Sir Richard Ballister inherited an estate with a ghost and a curse, and every governess he hires leaves within a week. Finally, a woman desperate enough to stay arrives on his doorstep—but she’s the seductress who dropped him many years earlier for a richer man.

The last thing Richard and Edwina want is to work together, but they have no choice. Can they overcome the bitterness of the past in time to unravel a centuries-old knot and end the Christmas curse?

And here are some buy links:






Follow Barbara Monajem:

Barbara Monajem started writing at eight years old. She has wandered from children’s fantasy through mystery to paranormal and historical romance. She lives near Atlanta, Georgia with an ever-shifting population of relatives, friends, and feline strays.

38 Responses

  1. nmayer2015

    I like to know the degree of heat ( as it is now described) . Paranormal elements are a bit harder to evaluate because I love some authors whose books include esp etc and some like Lady of the Flames which I quite like and have read a couple of times. I tend more towards stories with romantic elements than strict romances lately because the romance seem to have fantastical plots and equate romance with sex.

    • Barbara Monajem

      Nancy, I agree about some of the plots being fantastical. And yes, it’s a pity that so many imply that romance = sex. As a writer, I find it quite difficult to convey an intense sexual attraction while at the same time emphasizing that sexual attraction is only one factor in romance and shouldn’t be the focus.

      Glad you enjoyed Lady of the Flames. 🙂

    • Barbara Monajem

      Hi, Denise. I’m with you — it should be more or less what I’m expecting, such as a happily ever after in a romance. Apart from that, I like to be surprised.

  2. hillenbrandfamily

    I liked your post. Your novella sounds great! I do like knowing the amount of heat, because I’m not into a lot of sex in the story. Otherwise, I love to be surprised regarding books, tv, and movies. I’m not into zombies, but I love most genres, so different elements are great if there. And, sadly, it’s not just romance that uses a lot of sex in the story, it’s other genres as well. Science Fiction, Paranormal, Shifters, Contemporary, etc. Thanks for the giveaway and chance! 🙂

    • Barbara Monajem

      I’m not into zombies either! Just the idea of a zombie gives me the creeps. I do like vampires, though, depending on how they’re depicted. Thanks for stopping by, Ms. Hillenbrand!

  3. Linda

    Romance & HEA. I’m happy to read anything that has that if it’s well written. I don’t care about the heat level. I’ve read loads of books that were so well written that the romance left me sobbing with nary more than kisses.

    • Barbara Monajem

      Me too, Linda. One of the most romantic scenes I read in the past year or two was when the hero got a message from the heroine. They were miles apart at the time without very little hope of getting together, at least in the near future. And some of the most romantic books I’ve read are actually mysteries, with not much time devoted to the romance.

  4. Marci

    I struggle with infertility, so I like to know in advance if there are babies or pregnancies in the stories. I get surprised by other people’s pregnancies on a regular basis in my real life, I don’t need the same emotional jolts in stories.

    • Barbara Monajem

      Marci, that’s totally understandable. I know of readers who prefer books that don’t have children in them at all, although I don’t know if it’s for the same reason.

  5. Barbara Bettis

    Like so many others, I enjoy mixed-genre stories. As for heat level alert–I’m frequently stumped by what constitutes the different levels. It seems sometimes a book marked at one level is one I’d consider at one of the other ‘levels,’ sometimes spicier and sometimes milder. Good luck with the re-release! Perfect timing 🙂

    • Barbara Monajem

      Yep, it’s definitely the right season, Barb. I know what you mean about heat levels. It’s awfully vague and largely a matter of opinion…

  6. Diane Eberly

    Love any kind of romance/mystery/fantasy/paranormal stories. Just love to read. Love the romance. Love the sex mild or hot. Love happy endings but they don’t have to be happy. A Christmas story would be great to read in a few weeks closer to Christmas.

    • Barbara Monajem

      Diane, it sounds like you’re very easy to please. Thank you from authors everywhere. 😉

  7. jessicajefferson

    I think that the ability to blend genres is amazing. It’s like when decorators blend patterns – it keeps it interesting and gives the eye something interesting.

    • Barbara Monajem

      Well, Jessica, in my case it’s pure accident most of the time. It just happens, so I go along with it. (Other people have to do my decorating for me, because my accidents don’t work in that particular sphere.)

  8. Glenda

    I loved this novella in the collection! I don’t need a book to be able to be definitely classified – I really enjoy blending a couple genres historical paranormal is one of my favorites. I try to find out a bit about books before I buy them so I don’t get surprised…

    • Barbara Monajem

      Hi, Glenda. Glad you enjoyed it. 🙂 I’m happy to hear that so many readers are fine with blended genres.

  9. Kathy Davis

    I like to know which genre, and then what part of that genre. I mostly read romance, but I like to know if it’s contemporary or historical, etc. I do like to know the hotness level too. I always want to know if it’s erotica.

    • Barbara Monajem

      I agree re erotica, since I don’t read it often, but that’s about the only hotness level that’s meaningful to me, except sweet, which is the other end of the spectrum. Anything in between is just a guess.

    • Barbara Monajem

      Hi, Joanna. I didn’t used to think I liked ghosts, but they’ve cropped up in a couple of my stories now and I’m beginning to enjoy them. 🙂

  10. Debbie Haston

    I haven’t read anything by you that I didn’t like. I Like everything you have written.

    • Barbara Monajem

      Thanks, Debbie! (I’d better not show you the teenage melodrama I wrote when I was 13. It is truly horrible!)

  11. Joanna M.

    I had the pleasure of reading your story when it came out in the box set and I loved it! I thought the sexiness level was perfect given the story and I’d call it Gothic as well. Good luck with the re-release!

    • Barbara Monajem

      Thank you, Joanna. Quite a few people mentioned that it was somewhat Gothic, which is why I decided to include that in the sub-title.

  12. Barbara Monajem

    And the winners are… Kathy Davis and Ms. Hillenbrand. You each win one of my Undone novellas, your choice–or you can have The Christmas Knot instead. Take your pick! I will email you with details. Also, Joanna Yeoh wins the Christmas Knot, a special prize for her enthusiasm for ghost stories. Thanks, everyone!

  13. Susanne Talley

    I don’t care about the level of hotness as long as it makes sense in the context of the story. I prefer 19th century England, Scotland, Ireland or Wales. Your stories, thankfully, are not following the typical formulas I’ve seen in the types of novels I prefer. Unusual is good, interesting, and surprising. I am hoping for romance, love, an example of real humans trying to live their lives. I want to be inspired, to feel their emotions and do this in the context of interesting events. I enjoy historical fiction because it is interesting to see how people delt with the difficult proprieties of the time. I enjoy most paranormal elements but not shapeshifters or vampires. So if you are an author that cannot fit a common mold in the publishing world, brava for you! I like the fact that you weave so many and varied elements into your stories. Not every writer can successfully do that.

    I do like to know the sort of story a novel represents before I buy it. But I honestly don’t look for the common types. I look for the new and different. I love that there will be an HEA so when the book is done I feel content. I like it when an historical novel can sound like the people did then yet I can understand it. Truly modern language in these novels is jarring and spoils the mood for me. I love to read. Thanks for the stories!