Cover reveal: This Saccharine Sensation.

Sometimes in life, something momentous happens. An event of such life-altering importance that it shakes our foundations and makes a mockery of everything we believed to be true. For some, it arrives with bells and whistles, sweeping them off their feet when they least expect it. For others, it may pass them by like a sweet summer rain while they are too busy doing something—or someone—else. Later on, they may notice that the ground is wet, or that there’s a faint scent of petrichor lingering in the air, but by then it’s too late. The moment has already passed.

I am, of course, talking about love. Or, perhaps, more specifically about first love. It’s a peculiar condition that comes in many different forms, but they all have one thing in common.

They care little for human desires or machinations. Contrary to popular belief, love does not concern itself with sense or sensibility, and once it has singled you out it doesn’t give you much of a choice. You may embrace it and submit to its whims, or reject it citing some mitigating circumstance. Maybe that you’re otherwise engaged? Or, as is often the case, that it didn’t come in the size or flavour you would have preferred? The latter is what Gianna Ranieri did for the best part of 20 years. She treated love as if it was a particularly vicious strain of the flu, and claimed that she needed a man about as much as a fish needs a bike…

Can We Keep This a Secret?

So, I have a confession to make. If you read the book above, This Saccharine Sensation, you’ll get two more, but that’s not what my confession is all about. No, it’s related to the fact that I am partly responsible for that book. I am 50% of Linn Rhinehart.

We had a round table meeting on Quarterdeck just about a year ago, and our Quartermaster (the other 50% of Mrs Rhinehart) mentioned that he had plans for a Valentine’s story, Or a pair of them, actually, in line with the Japanese White Day tradition. Now, it’s no secret that I’ve never been much of a romance reader. At least not before 2020 when I began a deep dive into the genre to understand it better. Around the table, our writers had different ideas of what first love could mean. What it could be like. And that was the start of the project I nicknamed diabetes because of all the sickly, lovey-dovey sweetness that was pouring out of them.

I suggested we’d turn it into an anthology, and a plan took shape. A plan that backfired spectacularly when said Quartermaster, aka my Sir Bear, said “You too, pet.” I tried to argue that I don’t write romance, but he insisted I could do it. Right, I’d sooner teach a stone to swim than trying to talk him out of something he’s already set his mind to. I kept putting it off, but in the end, I decided to tackle the challenge for NaNoWriMo 2022. I named it “This Saccharine Sensation” as a joke, but pretty soon I had written enough material for a full-length novel about Gianna Ranieri. A disabled woman, closing in on 40, who has spent her entire adult life saying no to love and romance. When love finally singles her out, she has no idea what to do with the saccharine sensation she’s experiencing. She’s not even convinced that she likes it.

Gianna is one of my best friends, but she’s not based on a particular person. I’ve been a spoonie all my life, and those feelings, that fear of trying to build a relationship in the midst of tackling life, work and debilitating disease are very common in our community. If anything, I think I poured a drop of every spoonie I’ve ever met into her character. The end result was a proud, fierce Mediterranean beauty who takes no prisoners. She’s driven and accomplished, but she’s also very lonely. She can’t really see how that could change, though. How do you find a man when the only one you ever speak to is “Joe” from the tech support chat at work? Why would you even want to when all you do is work and sleep? I guess if you want to know the answer, you have to read the book. =)

What was that? The secret? Do you promise not to tell on me? Okay then… I actually enjoyed working on this book. Once the character came to me, writing Gianna’s story was a blast. The follow-up, a full-length novel, is in the pipeline for a 2024 release, but that book is not safe for work. Turns out, writing spicy romance can actually be great fun. Shhh! You promised not to tell anyone!

//Linnea 🖤


a blue ship's door with the sign "LINNEA LUCIFER"
author bio

Linnea Lucifer is the Captain of the imaginary, yet very real, pirate ship Resilience and her merry crew of indie authors and omnivorous readers. But that is not all – amateur liar, weaver of stories, peddler of merch, lifelong spoonie, ancient dragon lady and Maddox Rhinehart’s irreverent pet are a few more words often used to describe the bearer of many names.

The Captain was named after a delicate little flower that grows in mossy, Swedish pine forests, and a certain fiery fallen angel. She spends most of her days daydreaming and writing fantasy, smut and painfully crappy poems. A diva of delight, she takes great pleasure in everything that tickles the senses and adds a sprinkle of magic and spice to our world.

Linnea writes fantasy rooted in Norse mythology and Scandinavian folklore under the pen name Saga Linnea Söderberg. She also writes Sweet’n’Spicy Spoonie romance together with Leto Armitage under their joint pen name Linn Rhinehart.


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