Thursday, March 21, 2013


Hi, Melissa. Welcome to the Flower and Thorns blog today.

It's so great to have you here.

You want to write about our "guilty pleasures." Girl, I'm right with you with the guilty pleasures, and I bet many of the readers and authors enjoy the same ones.

Romance novels seem to be most people’s guilty pleasure. I used to disdain them until I got hooked on them. Then I started writing them. Granted, a romance novel would probably never be construed as the great American novel, but they definitely have their place. They can be sweeping, stirring, historical, fantasy-fulfilling and fun.

I do not like to write the same story twice. No sequels or series for me. With some authors, you know pretty much exactly what you’re going to get when you pick up their new book. Not true for me (at least, I hope not!). I don’t consciously work to vary my style with each book, but it just seems to work out that each book, each set of characters, demands a slightly different style, and I celebrate that. For that reason, my five romance novels are all very different from each other.

My first romance (and my first book) is The Rare Breed, a historical (western) romance. It was published as Love’s Savage Destiny by Dorchester Publishing in New York in 1984 and underwent several subsequent printings. When they had had their runs with it and allowed the rights to revert back to me, I hunted around for a way to publish it myself just to keep it in print and found iUniverse. These days there are more direct ways of self-publishing, but at the time, this was one of the few options. I did some minor revisions and used my original title, having never been very fond of the “Love’s Savage Whatever” titles.


I like to think of my books as a thinking person’s romances. Although I have varying degrees of titillation in my books, the most important aspect of the story is the growth and evolution of the protagonist. In The Rare Breed, Catherine Lance is a beautiful young half-breed, raised in the white world, who leaves wealthy civilization behind to search the Kansas plains for her Cheyenne father.  In this time of Western expansion and Indian wars, being a half-breed is dangerous; she is susceptible to denigration at the least, physical harm or even death at the worst. In order to carry out her quest, Catherine must be secretive and hide her true identity, all the while searching Leavenworth, Kansas, for information about her Cheyenne band. What jeopardizes that search is the amorous attention of two men, one a rough trapper, the other an educated lawyer. While trying to stay single-minded in her quest, Catherine finds herself getting sidetracked by the emotions evoked by the two men, at least until a sudden breakthrough gives her the access to her Cheyenne band that she had been seeking.

It’s here that the book switches gears as Catherine, known as Gray Feather, attempts to sink back into the Cheyenne home and tradition from which she was torn at an early age. Complicating this process is the presence of the man to whom she was once betrothednow marriedyet eager to welcome her into his lodge as his second wife. Catherine struggles not only with her place in the unusual relationship but with her place in the culture as a whole. Her early years as an Indian made her assimilation into the white word impossible; now her years in the white world make it difficult for her to fit into her original home, as well. Like all strong women, it’s only with some deep soul-searching that she finally discovers the path her life must take, and the one man who can share that path with her.


My second western romance, Superstition Gold, is decidedly different. Similar in process to the first, this book was originally published by Dorchester in 1987 under the title Love’s Savage Embrace. As before, once their interest waned, I republished the book with my original title. There the similarities end.


Superstition Gold is written with a lighter hand and, while serious, has more humorous overtones to it. The protagonist, Leigh Banning, is a young widow who travels to the wilds of Arizona to find the deceased father she never knew, a prospector who lived among the Apache Indians. To that end, she is thrown into the disturbing and fascinating company of an Army major and his Indian scout. As the trio penetrates deep into the Superstition Mountains of Arizona, Leigh finds herself out of her depth, both physically and emotionally, in the harsh land and with the two rugged men. Her snobbish overconfidence leaves her completely unprepared for the primitive way of life and it is only after several gaffes and confrontations with her protectors that she finally begins to understand the alien culture and the strong, western men.

 Just as she begins to sort out her battered emotions, false murder charges linked to the storied gold of the Lost Dutchman Mine put her on the run. While Major Ryan attempts to clear her name, she and the Indian scout Walking Bear are captured by Apache raiders led by Leigh’s rival for the major’s affections. It is only by working with the Apaches to safeguard the mine and fully understanding her own true nature that Leigh comes to honor her father and the new love she bears.

 About this time, I switched gears completely. My next romance was the antithesis of the earlier books, a screaming satire of all romance novels. The Pits of Passion by Amber Flame skewers every clich√© every written and takes all the most familiar elements of historical romance to the nth degree. It is bawdy, brazen, x-rated and completely over the top. If you’ve ever been embarrassed down to your toenails by Playboy or Penthouse magazine, do not buy this book! If you’ve ever been shocked by x-rated movies, do not buy this book! If you love Harlequin romance novels and their sacred, unchanging formulas, do not buy this book! But if you’re up for a slapstick, laugh-out-loud romp through the pirate and bodice-ripping world of romance, this might be for you. I actually never thought anyone would publish this, since it lampoons every aspect of a beloved genre, but New Concepts Publishing put it out as an e-book several years ago. Since then I have self-published it as a paperback. It’s a great change of pace, and like nothing else you’ve ever read. I promise you that. You can see a video book trailer for it here:

My next book, Remember Me, is again a completely different animal. This is a contemporary romance, more a deep character study than a sweeping action tale. When Elly Cole wakes up in a hospital with amnesia, she has no memory of how she was injured or of the huge, hateful man to whom she is married. During the painful process of stitching her life back together, she must battle not only terrifying nightmares, her husband’s certainty that she is a lying cheat and conflicting visions of her past, but her own doubts about her unborn child’s paternity and the future of her marriage. This is a subtle, delicate story of very human nature, of conflict and fear, doubt and conviction, strength of spirit and the power of love. It was published in 2004 by Draumr Publishing.


My most recent romance, Lightning Strikes, is different yet again. This is another contemporary story yet almost diametrically opposed to Remember Me. In this slim volume, Jessie Evans is a freelance journalist doing a story on the Hopi Indians of Northern Arizona. When she encounters the half-Hopi architect Lucas Shay, sparks fly immediately, and not the good kind. Taking an instant dislike to each other, they can still not escape the fact that they are intensely attracted to each other, and soon their conflicted emotions start a fire neither can control. While their sexual attraction is too powerful and honest to be denied, their emotional coupling is fraught with doubts, misconceptions and suspicion. Both have to find their way through the labyrinth of their pride and fear to realize and grab hold of their complete and committed love. I self-published this book in 2009.

 I suppose the point of all this is that romance, as a genre, is not a set or narrow field. It can be pretty much whatever the reader and writer want it to be. It can be hopeful, painful, inspiring, maddening, funny, heartbreaking, satiric and moving. The overarching commonality is simply the basic human need to connect and create relationships, to give and receive love in its most honest and satisfying form. And how following that thread to real love very often leads us to our own best, true selves.

Melissa Bowersock is an eclectic writer who turns her hand to any kind of story that moves her: contemporary, western, fantasy, romance, action/adventure, spiritual. She thrives in the Sonoran desert of Southern Arizona with her husband and an Airedale terrier. She is also a certified hypnotherapist. For more information about these books and Melissa Bowersock, go to or see her blog at

Wow, that's quite a collection, Melissa. Everyone of them look like great reads for our "guilty pleasures."  I'm sure going to indulge in mine with these books.

We love comments. Won't you please leave yours for Melissa?



  1. Hi Melissa. I'm really excited to have you here today. So many yummy books out. Ooh, talk about 'guilty pleasers' lol. That's me. Escapism, fun, and a darn good read. Guilty as charged.

  2. Lorrie, thanks so much! It was fun to lay out all the choices for your readers; hope there's something there for everyone! We all know that romance is one of the most popular genres around, and for good reason.

  3. Your books sound wonderful, Melissa, I'm going to check them out.

  4. Thanks so much; hope you enjoy them!

  5. I agree, they all sound good. HA! You made me laugh out loud telling us NOT TO BUY THIS BOOK. (The Pits of Passion by Amber Flame) haha Made me want to buy the book. Reverse psychology? LOL
    I'll have to put these ones in the TBB list. And since I love humor, I will efinately check them out.

  6. I'm with you, Melissa. I am not a series writer either. I tell the story, and then I'm done. But who knows? I may re-visit characters once I've written my other stories swirling around in my head. Enjoyed the article and your round up of your work. Best wishes.

  7. Darla, that's part of it, but I actually have had people get the book and think they were buying a regular romance and they were shocked by what they got. This book lampoons every well-loved cliche (even the bad guy has "alabaster thighs"), so I just don't want readers to be surprised.
    Thanks all for your good wishes!