Blog Tour + Giveaway: Guest Post by Marie Rutkoski

20 February, 2014 Blog Tours, Giveaways, Guest Spotlight 64 comments


We are so excited to be the final stop on The Winner’s Curse blog tour today. As many already know, Kat and I were lucky enough to read it early last year and were completely blown away. It still remains one of our stand out reads of 2013. If there is one book that you have to get this year, let it be this one.

We asked Marie to talk a little about writing romance and since she’s naturally awesome beyond reason, she went above and beyond. Check out her guest post on her first experiences reading romance–complete with bodice rippers–and the advice she gave herself while writing The Winner’s Curse.


“Writing Romance”

I’ll tell you a secret.

Sometime between when I was in junior high and high school, I noticed that my mom would swap romance novels with both of my grandmothers. One grandmother enjoyed Harlequin romances:

My other grandmother tended to deliver black garbage bags full of fat historical romance novels with lots of “love scenes.”

(How do those flowers stay in her hair? HOW??)

Now, even though a good portion of my Scholastic book fair money was spent, even when I was in grade school, on the ultimate romance novels for tweens (the Sunfire books, with a love triangle in each—except in Caroline. I think she had three guys after her), I had at a pretty early age decided I was Someone Who Loved Books, and this had led to all sorts of assumptions and beliefs, like the time I was twelve and stared at a collection of Shakespeare’s plays in my classroom and thought, “I don’t know who Shakespeare is. But I know that Someone Who Loves Books loves Shakespeare. Therefore: I must read and love Shakespeare. RIGHT NOW”).

Winnerscurse 3

Another (foolish!) assumption I had was that Serious People Who Love Books do not respect romances. So Teenage Me used to nag my mom:

“God, Mom, why do you read that crap?”
“I like it,” she said.
“But you could be reading literature. You could be reading Shakespeare.”

Now, none of what I’ve told you is my secret. Just a portrait of me being insufferable. Here comes the secret, which you might have already guessed:

Although I scolded my mom about those sexy romances my grandmothers brought over, I had in fact been TAKING THEM and READING THEM and HIDING THEM under my bed THE ENTIRE TIME.

Oh, the little hypocrite! The closed-mindedness of it all—to not notice that discussing romance novels were a way for my mom and grandmas to build their friendships. To not face and understand my own attraction to these books. To not appreciate that I was getting a very interesting education.

Well, I was young.
(And maybe I did appreciate that education, after all).

I stopped squirreling away romance novels under my bed—I can’t remember why—and eventually, more than a decade later, became a professor of English literature. But somewhere along the way—when I was crying at the end of Villette, or dying at the choices of Henry James’s Isabel Archer, or holding my breath as I read Jane Eyre—I admitted to myself that I loved to read about love. And why wouldn’t I? Isn’t love the best thing there is? What are the battered books on my shelves? The most worn? Jellicoe Road. Pride and Prejudice. Sunshine. Graceling. The Queen of Attolia. The Hema and Kaushik section of Unaccustomed Earth.

I can’t claim to be an expert on writing romance, but I have been asked to share some thoughts about it, so I’ll give the advice that I urged myself to remember as I wrote The Winner’s Curse.

1. Be precise.
Now, yes, I know that Loretta Chase’s Lord of Scoundrels has some spectacularly sexytimes, but the most delicious moment in the whole book, for me, is when the hero turns up at the ball and seizes the heroine’s fan. She has been writing a name down on each stick, using it as a way to keep track of the dances she’s promised to different men. What does the hero do? He holds up the fan for the entire ballroom to see and snaps each stick of the fan, one by one. That is precise: the sound of each snapped stick.
This is precise, for me:

“I should go,” Arin said, though he didn’t move.
Kestrel looked at his face glowing in the lamplight. She became aware that she was close enough to him that her bare foot rested on the damp edge of carpet where Arin stood, seeping rainwater. A shiver traveled up her skin.
Just a bare foot on a wet carpet. That’s it. That’s all I needed right then.

2. Be imprecise.
Do we really, truly need to know how people kiss or where they put their hands, etc.? Ok, maybe sometimes, but I try my best to make the language sensual, to show the passion of the characters embedded in my writing style, as if the thrum of that energy is taking over the book and me. What I try to do, ultimately, in the most intense romantic moments in my books, is to offer a dance of the precise and imprecise, and to make the writing style stand in for the physicality of what the characters are doing:

Kestrel’s mouth found his. His lips were salted with her tears, and the taste of that, of him, of their deepening kiss, filled her with the feeling of his quiet laugh moments ago. Of a wild softness, a soft wildness. In his hands, running up her thin dress. In his heat, burning through to her skin…and into her, sinking into him.

Although both of my grandmothers are gone, I’m glad to say that my mom and I talk about romances all the time now, and it’s really nice to share such books with her, and to recommend my favorites (Sarah MacLean, Eloisa James, Lisa Kleypas) and hear about hers (she loves Nora Roberts).

On a farewell note:

I had lots of fun looking for romance covers for this post, and have to share this one:

Ladies, those red satin sheets might be super fine—and the height of good taste—but they are not worth a guy named Spider. Trust me.

About Marie Rutkoski

Marie Rutkoski is the author of The Shadow Society and the Kronos Chronicles, which includes The Cabinet of Wonders. She is a professor at Brooklyn College and lives in New York City. Kristin Cashore, the author of Graceling, says about her new book The Winner's Curse, “Every line in The Winner’s Curse is beautifully written. The story is masterfully plotted. The characters’ dilemmas fascinated me and tore at my heart. This book gave me a rare and special reading experience: I never knew what was going to happen next. I loved it. I want more.”

The Winner's CurseThe Winner’s Curse (Winner’s Trilogy #1) by Marie Rutkoski
Published: Not soon enough (March 2014)
Publisher: Our Lords and Masters (MacTeen Books)
Goodreads | IndieBound | B&N | Amazon

Winning what you want may cost you everything you love

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin.

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the Tour!

Sunday, February 9th
My Friends Are Fiction

Monday, February 10
The Midnight Garden

Tuesday, February 11
Mundie Moms

Wednesday, February 12
Supernatural Snark

Thursday, February 13
YA Bibliophile

Friday, February 14
The Book Rat

Saturday, February 15
Good Choice Reading

Sunday, February 16
Jenna Does Books

Monday, February 17
Love is Not a Triangle

Tuesday, February 18
Reading Teen

Wednesday, February 19
Miss Print

Thursday, February 20


This giveaway likely doesn’t come with a curse, but it does come with lots of goodies! Thanks to the publisher and Marie for providing:

The Winner’s Curse


Contest Rules:

  • To enter, please fill out the Raffelcopter form below.
  • We ask that all entrants be at least 13 years or older to enter.
  • The giveaway is open for US and Canada ONLY.
  • When the winners are chosen, it will be announced here and the winners will be emailed.
  • Please enter your email address in the Rafflecopter form and not the comments.
  • Also, please understand that giveaway sponsors reserve the right to disqualify any entries they find gaming the system. Cheaters never prosper.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Kat Kennedy

Kat Kennedy

Co-blogger at Cuddlebuggery
Kat Kennedy is a book reviewer and aspiring author in the Young Adult genre. She reviews critically but humorously and get super excited about great books. Find her on GoodReads.
Kat Kennedy

64 Responses to “Blog Tour + Giveaway: Guest Post by Marie Rutkoski”

  1. Tammy @ Books, Bones & Buffy

    Wow, I loved this post! I feel really old, because when I was an impressionable twelve-year-old, my mother actually had a SUBSCRIPTION to Harlequin romances. She got a box of four new books every month, and I did the same thing you did Marie: I “borrowed” them when she wasn’t looking and read them myself, even though I was probably too young. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve read that Anne Hampson book up there! Ah good times:) I’m pretty darn excited to read The Winner’s Curse, I’ve heard nothing but great things! Thanks for the giveaway.
    Tammy @ Books, Bones & Buffy recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday (89) MOTHERLESS CHILD by Glen HirshbergMy Profile

  2. Cassie B (@CassieopiaB)

    That there is a strong female character. And the beautiful cover also helped peak my interest 🙂

    • Hannah

      Oops, looks like I was supposed to comment on what excites me most about the book for the giveaway. Well, I think the heroine sounds kick-ass and honestly, I love anything to do with Historical Fantasy. March, please arrive sooner.

  3. vennie martinisi

    I love the cover art, and this is something I shamefully admit…I am a cover buyer. But, the book itself sounds very intriguing.

  4. Holly Letson

    What initially draws me in is that pretty cover. Also, sounds like the romance will be good as well.
    When I was a child, my maternal grandmother had a ton of *Harlequin Romance* books as well. I wasn’t really interested in those, and opted to read the comics she also kept around as well.
    Those *Sunfire* romances look like fun. They kind of remind me of some romances that I read as a youngster. Did you also read the *Sweet Dreams* romances as well? Or, maybe, the *Crosswinds* series? Or, the *Keepsake* series? Or, Silhouette’s teen romance series, *First Love from Silhouette*? I loved those…..really showing my age here.
    As for Shakespeare, I went through my *Shakespeare Stage* in 4th grade, reading all his stuff. My teacher disliked me not waiting till High School to read those, and called my parents, complaining about it.

  5. Tammy

    I love the cover so right away I want to read it for the cover alone but all the awesome early reviews makes me excited for a great read.

  6. Jennifer

    I’m really excited about the plot element of political intrigue! Those are my favorite types of books.

  7. Christina (A Reader of Fictions)

    Bahahaha, I also sneakily borrowed my mom’s romance novels and hid them under the bed. I read a lot of Judith McNaught and Jude Deveraux. I thought I was so incredibly sneaky, but she must have known, because she probably would have seen them when she changed the sheets. Oh, younger self, you were silly. I also must read that Caroline one!
    Christina (A Reader of Fictions) recently posted…Review: Ask Again LaterMy Profile

  8. Amanda T

    I am really excited to read this book because many of the reviews are positive and the setting and storyline sound very original. The cover is gorgeous!

  9. Mona

    This book has gotten so much buzz…and with each blog post I know it is very well deserved! Can’t wait to read this book for myself. Plus the cover is to die for.

  10. Wendy Darling

    This post brought back so many memories–I first started reading romances because an aunt came to stay with us one summer, and I never looked back! I cut my teeth on Harlequin Presents and Silhouette Desires, then I started in on historicals. Loved the trip down memory lane–and now I’m about to tweet Marie a photo which she’ll appreciate, too. 😀
    Wendy Darling recently posted…Crown of Midnight: ReviewMy Profile

  11. Angela C.

    The romance 😀 But the cover is gorgeous! And I’ve heard so many good things about this, so I’m really excited for it!

  12. Caitlin

    I’m interested in the fact that Kestrel has “other intentions” — what could they be? 😮

    And I also like the fact that she buys him as a slave. I had that idea floating around in my head (I sort of write stories but I’ve never completed one I’m proud of – yet) before. I’m glad someone’s doing it and I’m interested in seeing what happens.

  13. Natalie M.

    I completely agree with everything up there. I hate the fact that romance is often pictured as cheap in books. It has its own merit as all books do, and when I read, I want to be swept off my feet by the world-building, plot, characters…I don’t want to be constantly struggling to understand ye olde English and being belittled when I claim that I hated The Alchemist.

  14. Kiersti Torok

    Everyone keeps raving about the exceptional worldbuilding throughout The Winner’s Curse–I’m so excited to see for myself! Also, I’m imagining there will be a huge spike in the name “Spider” within the next several months. I mean, come on–leather jackets, silky hair, an uncanny ability to seduce 70s Barbie into some fab satin sheets? The name has immense potential, guys. 🙂

  15. Valeria Andrea

    The love, of course. The painful, confusing, fearful love this book promises. I like my characters to suffer when they are in love, you see. To not know what’s going on.
    Also, in the post’s regard, I read an awfully big number of, er, “love scenes” when I was growing up. I think that explains a lot of things.
    I regret nothing.
    Valeria Andrea recently posted…GrimMy Profile

  16. Allie L

    I’m so excited to read this because of the plot concept. I love reading about star crossed couples. But most of all, its the society and the politics of it that is really intriguing.

  17. Andrea @ Bookish

    Everything. Everything. Everything!

    Every guest post I have read throughout this tour has just made me want to read this book more and more and I am insanely jealous of those who have already gotten the chance. I love the forbidden romance, Kestrel sounds amazing – this book in general sounds amazing. This is definite need to own! 🙂
    Andrea @ Bookish recently posted…Feature Follow: Last Book That Made Me CryMy Profile

  18. Markella

    I’m most interested in seeing how well the slave/ master thing comes across and if it is well done. I feel like that’s a very tricky area, especially for a romance.

  19. Emily

    The premise for this book sounds good, but what interests me most is all the glowing reviews. It sounds like the romance is executed really well. 🙂

  20. January

    Well at first it was just the premise that interested me, but the reviews praising it like crazy started showing up! It just sounds like the perfect book.

  21. Rida

    Eagerly anticipating!!! I think I am intrigued by the political system and the way the society set up is described. can’t wait to read it!!

  22. Irene

    The fact that everyone I’ve come across raves about this book definitely has me interested.

  23. Alaa

    The most thing that interests me in the book is the political aspect, particularly the cruelty of war and slavery. I enjoy reading about problems of our world set in a fantasy setting, it can teach us a lot about overcoming these problems.

    Thanks for the wonderful giveaway!!

  24. Monica

    Books are most interesting when they have lots of good (or bad) surprises! They have to keep you guessing!

  25. Char

    Thanks for the give-a-way opportunity for this book. Really excited about it. First, the cover is gorgeous! The slavery aspect has me very curious as does the political aspect and always the hint at romance. 🙂

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