RITA Finalists: LGBT Spotlight

Hi everyone! Today I am so excited to be hosting the LGBT Spotlight for the 2017 RITA Finalists!

The RITA Award promotes excellence in the romance genre by recognizing outstanding published romance novels and novellas. The award itself is a golden statuette named after RWA’s first president, Rita Clay Estrada, and has become the symbol for excellence in published romance fiction.

I am so excited for Joyfully Jay to spotlight four finalists that feature LGBT characters in their stories:
  • Far From Home by Lorelie Brown (Contemporary Romance, Short)
  • Fast Connection by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell (Contemporary Romance, Midlength)
  • Mr. and Mr. Smith by HelenKay Dimon (Romantic Suspense)
  • Pansies by Alexis Hall (Contemporary Romance, Long)

FAR FROM HOME by Lorelie Brown

Riptide Publishing, Gwen Hayes and Sarah Lyons, editors

Lorelie Brown_Far From HomeMy name is Rachel. I’m straight . . . I think. I also have a mountain of student loans and a smart mouth. I wasn’t serious when I told Pari Sadashiv I’d marry her. It was only party banter! Except Pari needs a green card, and she’s willing to give me a breather from drowning in debt.

My off-the-cuff idea might not be so terrible. We get along as friends. She’s really romantically cautious, which I find heartbreaking. She deserves someone to laugh with. She’s kind. And calm. And gorgeous. A couple of years with her actually sounds pretty good. If some of Pari’s kindness and calm rubs off on me, that’d be a bonus, because I’m a mess—anorexia is not a pretty word—and my little ways of keeping control of myself, of the world, aren’t working anymore.

And if I slip up, Pari will see my cracks. Then I’ll crack. Which means I gotta get out, quick, before I fall in love with my wife.


About Lorelie Brown
Lorelie BrownAfter a semi-nomadic childhood throughout California, Lorelie Brown spent high school in Orange County before joining the US Army. Though she’s traveled the world from South Korea to Italy, she now lives north of Chicago. She writes about romantic trysts that happen in warm places because sleet is a sad, sad concept.

Lorelie has three active sons, two yappy dogs, and a cat who cusses her out for not petting him enough.

In her immense free time (hah!) Lorelie cowrites award-winning contemporary erotic romance under the name Katie Porter. You can find out more about the Vegas Top Guns and Command Force Alpha series at www.KatiePorterBooks.com or @MsKatiePorter. You can also follow Lorelie on Twitter @LorelieBrown if you like knitting, makeup, and people lacking social filters. You can also sign up for her newsletter: http://eepurl.com/VdlAz


Where to Buy:

Check it out on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30306869-far-from-home

FAST CONNECTION by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell


Fast ConnectionAfter a decade of serving in the Army, everyone still expects me to be Dominic ‘Nicky’ Costigan–the skirt-chasing player. They don’t know I’ve been spending my days trying to figure out my post-military life. Including how to pick up guys.

When I meet Luke on a hookup app, he makes it clear it’s for one-night only. That’s fine with me, because I’m down to see what this silver fox can do. But after I arrive at his doorstep, it doesn’t take long to realize we have serious chemistry, and we end up meeting again.

He’s got more walls around his heart than a military base, but I think he’s as addicted to me as I am to him. He can’t resist me for long. I mean, who can? Except Luke’s rules exist for a reason, and when I test his limits, things get complicated. Maybe too complicated.


About Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell

megtinoMegan Erickson is the author of the In Focus series, including Trust the Focus, Focus on Me, and Out of Frame. She worked as a journalist covering real-life dramas before she decided that she liked writing her own endings better and switched to fiction. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, two kids, and two cats.

Santino Hassell writes LGBTQ romance that is heavily influenced by the gritty, urban landscape of New York City, his belief that human relationships are complex and flawed, and his own life experiences.


Where to Buy:

Check it out on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30415154-fast-connection

Check out our Joyfully Jay review

MR. AND MR. SMITH by HelenKay Dimon

Penguin Random House, Loveswept; Shauna Summers, editor

mr and mr smithSecrets and seduction make for an explosive combination in HelenKay Dimon’s edgy, thrilling new series, which kicks off with a novel about two men who can handle any threat—except the one posed by desire.

Fisher Braun knows how to keep a secret. As a covert paramilitary operative, his job—and his life—depends on it. He’s at the top of his game, ready for action and always in control. No enemy has ever brought him to his knees, but one lover has: Zachary Allen, the man currently sharing his bed. The perfect package of brains and brawn, Zach is someone worth coming home to, and Fisher hates keeping him in the dark about what he does. But the lies keep Zach safe. Until the day Fisher loses everything…

Zachary Allen is no innocent civilian. Although he plays the tech geek, in reality he’s deep undercover for the CIA. In a horrible twist of fate, the criminal enterprise he’s infiltrated has set its sights on the man whose touch drives him wild. Zach would do anything for Fisher—except blow his own cover. Now, in order to save him, Zach must betray him first. And he needs Fisher to trust him with all his heart if they want to make it out alive.


About HelenKay Dimon

HelenKay DimonHelenKay Dimon spent the years before becoming a romance author as a divorce attorney—not the usual career transition. Now she writes full-time and she’s much happier. The author of more than thirty novels, novellas, and short stories that have twice been named “Red-Hot Reads” and excerpted in Cosmopolitan, she’s on the board of directors of the Romance Writers of America and teaches fiction writing at UC San Diego and MiraCosta College. You can learn more at her website: www.helenkaydimon.com


Where to Buy:

Check it out on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27876307-mr-and-mr-smith

Check out our Joyfully Jay review

PANSIES by Alexis Hall

Riptide Publishing, Sarah Lyons, editor

PansiesAlfie Bell is . . . fine. He’s got a six-figure salary, a penthouse in Canary Wharf, the car he swore he’d buy when he was eighteen, and a bunch of fancy London friends.

It’s rough, though, going back to South Shields now that they all know he’s a fully paid-up pansy. It’s the last place he’s expecting to pull. But Fen’s gorgeous, with his pink-tipped hair and hipster glasses, full of the sort of courage Alfie’s never had. It should be a one-night thing, but Alfie hasn’t met anyone like Fen before.

Except he has. At school, when Alfie was everything he was supposed to be, and Fen was the stubborn little gay boy who wouldn’t keep his head down. And now it’s a proper mess: Fen might have slept with Alfie, but he’ll probably never forgive him, and Fen’s got all this other stuff going on anyway, with his mam and her flower shop and the life he left down south.

Alfie just wants to make it right. But how can he, when all they’ve got in common is the nowhere town they both ran away from.


About Alexis Hall

Alexis HallAlexis Hall was born in the early 1980s and still thinks the 21st century is the future. To this day, he feels cheated that he lived through a fin de siècle but inexplicably failed to drink a single glass of absinthe, dance with a single courtesan, or stay in a single garret.

He did the Oxbridge thing sometime in the 2000s and failed to learn anything of substance. He has had many jobs, including ice cream maker, fortune teller, lab technician, and professional gambler. He was fired from most of them.

He can neither cook nor sing, but he can handle a 17th century smallsword, punts from the proper end, and knows how to hotwire a car.

He lives in southeast England, with no cats and no children, and fully intends to keep it that way.


Where to Buy:

Check it out on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31195675-pansies

Check out our Joyfully Jay review

You can find a list of all the stops on the RITA blog tour here: bit.ly/RITA17BlogTour. For a full list of RITA finalists, readers can go to: https://www.rwa.org/page/2017-finalists

The RITA Award Ceremony will be held July 27, 7 p.m. at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort during the Romance Writers of America National Conference. Readers can watch a live stream of the ceremony from 7-9 pm at www.rwa.org or follow RWA on the following social media platforms for winner announcements:


  1. Definitely some fine books!

  2. Of course, I have only read one and not interested with the others (due to … reasons). But I’m happy to see them in this year’s RWA. Hopefully at least one of them wins!! *fingers crossed*

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