<i>The Billionaire Cowboy</i>: Exclusive Excerpt The Billionaire Cowboy: Exclusive Excerpt Mandy Baxter "For months, he’d thought of nothing but kissing her..." <i>Christmas at Seashell Cottage</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Christmas at Seashell Cottage: Exclusive Excerpt Donna Alward "His persistence sent a wave of warmth through her..." <i>Her Perfect Game</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Her Perfect Game: Exclusive Excerpt Shannyn Schroeder "His hand reached up and cradled the back of her head, and she wanted more." Read & Win: Nina Croft's <i>Break Out</i>! Read & Win: Nina Croft's Break Out! Nina Croft Get a taste of Break Out, then enter for a chance to win a copy!
From The Blog
September 29, 2014
Best Reads of September 2014
Team H & H
September 26, 2014
Friday Beefcake: Falling for Ginger Guys
Team H & H
September 20, 2014
Immortal/Mortal Love in The Shadowhunters Series
Willa aka willaful
September 19, 2014
Friday Beefcake: Foxy Flannel
Team H & H
September 19, 2014
H&H Debriefing: Give a 'Ship
Team H & H
Sep 30 2014 9:30am

First Look: Larissa Ione’s Chained By Night (September 30, 2014)

Chained by Night by Larissa IoneLarissa Ione
Chained by Night
Pocket / September 30, 2014 / $7.99 print / digital

Leader of the vampire clan MoonBound, Hunter will do what he must to save his people from extinction—or worse, a torturous eternity as vampire slaves and subjects of human experimentation.To keep his enemies at bay, he has agreed to mate a rival clan leader’s daughter in return for peace between the clans and an ally in the looming war with the humans.

But survival comes at a price. First, Hunter must break an ancient curse by successfully negotiating three deadly tests. Then he must resist the searing passions of the gorgeous vampire warrior he despises but is bound to mate. Will Hunter stay true to his word? Or will he risk everything for the woman he really loves: the vampire seductress’s identical twin sister?

Vampires and humans being at odds isn’t a new storyline in paranormal romance (PNR). You can easily swing a stick in a bookstore and hit a multitude of books with that exact storyline at any given time. But what makes Larissa Ione’s take on the storyline both unique and engaging is her character dynamics; while the arc is invigorating and written to maximise the story’s ability to branch off in a multitude of directions, giving us the security it won't be ending soon, it’s her characters who make this series what it is.

[Bound to be awesome!]

Sep 30 2014 8:14am

Outlander Thoughts and Predictions?

Now that you've digested the first half of Outlander's season, what do you think of the series? Are you on-board for the second half of the season? What were your favorite parts? What were your least favorite parts?

What do you want to see when Outlander resumes in April?


Gif from Outlander-Starz

Sep 29 2014 4:30pm

H&H Bloggers Recommend: Best Reads of September 2014

Always to Remember by Lorraine HeathEach month, we ask our bloggers to share the best thing they’ve read (or things, plural, if our bloggers declare a tie ’cause they just can’t choose). It doesn’t have to be a new book, as evidenced below; just something that made the month sparkle a bit more.

Without further ado, here’s the installment for September 2014 (and if you’ve missed any, be sure to check out past recs via the Related Posts section at the bottom of the post):

Willa aka Willaful

I finally read Lorraine Heath's classic historical Always to Remember and
have been kicking myself ever since for waiting so long. The hero is one of a kind, a deeply committed conscientious objector who's been suffering the scorn of his town and family after refusing to kill during the Civil War. In a twist on the usual cruel hero, the war widow heroine misjudges him and seeks revenge. Then she starts to see how much courage it required for the supposed town coward to stand up for his beliefs. Thought-provoking and a tearjerker!

[We'll get the Kleenex...]

Sep 29 2014 2:00pm

First Look: Lisa Henry’s Sweetwater (September 29, 2014)

Sweetwater by Lisa Henry

Lisa Henry
Riptide / September 29, 2014 / $6.99, digital / $16.99, print

Elijah Carter is afflicted. Most of the townsfolk of South Pass City treat him as a simpleton because he’s deaf, but that’s not his only problem. Something in Elijah runs contrary to nature and to God. Something that Elijah desperately tries to keep hidden.

Harlan Crane, owner of the Empire saloon, knows Elijah for what he is—and for all the ungodly things he wants. But Crane isn’t the only one. Grady Mullins desires Elijah too, but unlike Crane, he refuses to push the kid.

When violence shatters Elijah’s world, he is caught between two very different men and two devastating urges: revenge, and despair. In a boomtown teetering on the edge of a bust, Elijah must face what it means to be a man in control of his own destiny, and choose a course that might end his life . . . or truly begin it for the very first time.

It's Wyoming, 1870 in Lisa Henry's Sweetwater. Elijah, the adopted son of the town doctor, is seen as mentally handicapped by most people who know him—and they don't even know about his shameful, terrifying feelings. Today he'd be called gay and sexually submissive, but he lives in a time which has no good words for either of those things. And Elijah doesn't trust words anyway. Partially deaf from the scarlet fever that killed his entire family, words for him are a source of struggle to be understood, a tool for others to torment him, and a symbol of a world he can't join.

[There are no safe words]

Sep 29 2014 1:00pm

Downton Abbey Series 5 (Season 5), Episode 2 Recap: Uncertain Futures

Mary and Gillingham in Downton Abbey 5x02Welcome back to Downton Abbey and what's sure to be another year of delicious upstairs/downstairs drama. Come, let's see what Series 5 has in store for our beloved Crawley family, shall we?

Note for U.S. Viewers: Downton Abbey returns to PBS for Season 5 on January 4, 2015. We'll be repromoting Naz's recaps then, so feel free to wait to read them until that time to remain unspoiled.

Note: This post contains SPOILERS for all aired episodes of Downton Abbey, including last night's Series 5 premiere. Enjoy!

This week’s episode starts with the staff cleaning up Edith’s burnt-out room. As Mrs. Hughes and Anna go through the singed items, Anna finds a picture of a baby under Edith’s pillow, which she promptly hands over to Mrs. Hughes. Oh oh. We all know both these ladies are pretty smart, so they’re going to figure it out.

Jimmy in Downton Abbey 5x02Jimmy leaves (after a heartfelt, friendly farewell scene with Thomas) and the downstairs staff bemoans the lack of a “bonny lad” in their ranks. Molesley is happy about being the first footman, until Mr. Carson reminds him that since he is the only footman, there really isn’t much of a distinction.

Luncheon is a rather tense affair with Mary accusing Edith of behaving like an  idiot for setting her room on fire, and Robert berating the revolution in Russia for displacing so many people who have to establish new communities in order to preserve their culture. He directs his comments to Tom, who of course, immediately responds that he feels bad for anyone who has been exiled from his country! Meanwhile, Charles Blake is going to stop by for a visit (yay!) with an art historian friend of his to look at a della Francesca painting. Mary reminds the family that she’s going to be off with her friend Annabelle for a rambling-through-the-countryside holiday, but of course WE know that she’s going away with Gillingham. When Isobel mentions the addition of a wireless at the hospital, Rose hints at getting one installed at the Abbey to which Robert responds with an emphatic “No.”

[But it's the future!...]

Sep 29 2014 12:00pm

The Billionaire Cowboy: Exclusive Excerpt

Mandy Baxter

The Billionaire Cowboy by Mandy Baxter

Billionaire Ryder Blackwell has got it all under control. The wealthiest cattle baron this side of the Mississippi, he’s built an empire for himself in hopes of getting distance from a tortured past. But when a stunningly sexy—and strong-willed—new vet comes to town just in time for Christmas, Ryder knows he’s met the one spirit he just can’t tame…

Lara Montgomery doesn’t want to be involved with any man, least of all the rich, infuriating, and unbearably sexy Ryder Blackwell. She vows never to tangle with the charming rancher, but when he offers her the ultimate deal—one weekend at his ranch in exchange for a near-priceless horse—Lara cannot refuse. And as the nights get colder and their attraction gets hotter, Lara’s about to get all she’s ever wanted for Christmas…

Get a sneak peek at Mandy Baxter's The Billionaire Cowboy (available October 7, 2014) with an exclusive excerpt of Chapter 1.

Chapter 1

“You’re about to have one pissed-off female on your hands, brother.”

Ryder Blackwell looked askance at his younger brother before turning his attention back to the plume of dust rising in a rooster tail behind the Chevy pickup barreling down the road toward his ranch.

“You’re probably right,” he agreed. And that was the point. To get her out here. “She looked pretty pissed at the auction, didn’t she?”

Jason snorted. “She looked like she wanted to take your head off. And while I like a violent streak in a woman, I don’t think you’re prepared for the heat she’s gonna bring. You’ll be lucky if she doesn’t run you over with her truck.”

A smile curved Ryder’s lips as he considered the possibilities. The Chevy rounded the last turn on the ranch road and the back tires drifted to the left before correcting. “You’re a faithless son of a bitch, Jase, betting against your brother like that. I can handle anything she dishes out.”

Jason gave his brother a not-so-gentle nudge, connecting his fist with Ryder’s shoulder. “You keep telling yourself that, big brother. As much as I’d like to stick around and watch you get your ass handed to you, I’ve got to get back to Dallas. The postseason is kicking my ass and I’m not giving Coach McNealy any reason not to start me.”

It was Jase’s third season with the Cowboys and Ryder knew that his brother protected his spot on the team with a ferocity that made a hornet look cuddly. He worked twice as hard as anyone else on the team and never gave anyone—including those asshole ESPN commentators who accused him of buying his way onto the team—any reason to cut him down. “Later, brother. Try to keep your fool head on your shoulders, all right?”

“Please.” Jase sounded almost offended as he climbed into his Maserati. “Ain’t no one gonna catch me.”

The engine of the sports car roared to life and gravel sprayed out from under the tires as Jase took off down the road. When he passed the Chevy, Jase honked his horn a couple of times in a playful rhythm. Ryder snorted. No doubt that’d do a lot to cool Lara’s jets.

As the Chevy skidded to a stop not three feet from where Ryder stood, a burst of adrenaline shot through his veins. There was something about her anger that got his blood up. And didn’t that make him a sick son of a bitch?

“You bastard!” Lara Montgomery propelled herself from the truck like the little rocket she was and rounded on Ryder with the force of a tornado. “You knew I wanted her. I saved up for a year for that horse and you bought her out from under me!”

Something caught in Ryder’s chest as he took in every detail of the woman standing before him: her face flushed with rage, her crystalline blue eyes full of fire. Her dark chestnut hair was wild and wind-tossed, framing her face with loose curls that he longed to smooth away from her cheeks. Goddamn, she was beautiful. And since the day he met her, she was an itch he’d been dying to scratch.

“You were at the auction to buy October Sky?” he asked, jerking his chin toward the corral where the thoroughbred mare cantered and tossed her head. “I had no idea.”

When her eyes widened in disbelief and she blew out an aggravated breath, Ryder had to dig the heels of his boots into the driveway to keep from grabbing her and kissing those full lips of hers until she was breathless and begging for more. For months, he’d thought of nothing but kissing her. Touching and tasting her. He wanted to undress her slowly, like he was unwrapping one of the presents under his Christmas tree, fondle and fuck her until she screamed his name. Pissing her off might have been an unconventional way to get what he wanted, but Ryder liked to be unconventional when the occasion called for it.

“That’s bullshit and you know it.”

The words were spoken with a low edge that made Ryder yearn to have her say his name in the same way right at the moment she came. He was used to getting any woman he fancied. The fact that he couldn’t have Lara Montgomery made him want her that much more and he planned on making sure that by the end of the weekend, she wanted him too.

Lara brushed past him, giving Ryder a nice view of her ass as she marched toward the corral. The sway of her hips was hypnotic, her jeans hugging every curve. And when she bent over to squeeze between the slats in the fence, giving him an even better view of that pert, round ass and the juncture between her thighs, his heart damn near stopped in his chest.

“You’re still pissed off over the last time I was out here, aren’t you?” Lara’s bright blue eyes settled on him and Ryder bit back a smile. Her voice changed as she turned away from him and cooed soft comforting words to the mare, hand outstretched. The mare stomped a foot onto the ground and let out a nervous chuff of breath, but Lara didn’t shy away. She laid her left hand on the mare’s neck, her touch mesmerizing as she worked her right palm up and down her muzzle. Her strokes were gentle, yet full of purpose and the mare stilled, then leaned into Lara’s touch. Never in all his life had Ryder been so damned envious of a horse.

“Ryder Blackwell, billionaire big shot rancher got schooled by the local vet and so he’s gonna make her pay by throwing his money around, is that it?” Lara asked without turning to look at him.

Of course she’d make that assumption. Ever since the day Lara Montgomery tore him a new one over a calf that’d gotten stuck in a barbed wire fence on the back forty, Ryder couldn’t stop thinking about her. No one ever dared to get up in his face about anything, yet that sassy little veterinarian went nose to nose with him without even thinking twice about it. But his plans had nothing to do with showing her up or throwing his weight around. In fact, ever since that day, he’d done everything in his power to convince her to go out to dinner with him. So far, she’d turned him down every single time without even so much as an explanation why.

A month ago, he’d hosted a fund-raiser for the local chapter of the Daughters of the Pioneers. Lara had been there, of course. With a date. Ryder had never been jealous of another man or what he had until that night. It drove him damned near crazy to see Lara in a tight black dress with a neckline that was tauntingly low. His eyes had been glued to her the entire night, the sight of the jutting points of her nipples pressing against the light fabric a cruel tease to his imagination. Thinking about the way she looked that night made his cock swell and throb against the fly of his jeans. What in the hell did that other guy have that he didn’t? Seducing Lara became Ryder’s single-minded obsession after that night. He wanted her so badly it hurt.

“I don’t need to throw my money around,” Ryder replied. “When I want something, I get it. It’s as plain as that.”

“Bullshit. You don’t raise thoroughbreds. What you did is plain ol’ mean.”

Mean was standing there in a pair of tight jeans and tight v-neck top that showed off the swell of her breasts. Mean was shooting him down yet again after he’d asked her out for the tenth time after the fund-raiser. Mean was the sight of her tongue darting out to lick her full pink lips. Mean was making him come up with excuse after excuse to see her. Damn, it took all of his willpower not to close the distance between them and trace her full bottom lip with his tongue. “What can I say, Lara? Maybe I’m looking to expand from the cattle business.”

“Well, sorry, but that explanation isn’t going to fly with me, buddy.”

Her cheeks flushed with anger and her chest rose and fell with quickened breaths. This was the closest he’d been to her in weeks. She was like a tumbler of expensive whiskey: heady, smooth, and she went straight to his head. He’d planned everything to the last detail and he’d be damned if he didn’t bury himself in her slick heat by the end of the weekend. When he wanted something, he got it. And he wanted Lara Montgomery.

Lara spoke up and he gave his head a little shake to clear it. “Ryder, I want this mare and you’re going to sell her to me.”

He tilted his Stetson off his forehead and folded his arms across his chest. “No.”

Lara whipped around to face him and the one word was enough to set her eyes ablaze. The more worked up she got, the more he wanted to get her good and naked and if he didn’t slow down, Ryder wouldn’t be able to hide the evidence of his arousal in his tight jeans. If she was this much of a challenge outside of the bedroom, he could only imagine what she’d be like between the sheets.

“No?” Lara repeated, incredulous.

He’d wanted her for far too long, his thoughts distracted by her too often to count. He needed to get his head on straight and flush her out of his system once and for all. Now. This weekend. Finally he had something she wanted. And he wondered how far she’d go to get it back.

“I might be willing to give up the mare,” he drawled, “if you spend the rest of the weekend with me.”


Lara stared at Ryder Blackwell, her jaw slack. Of all the low-down, arrogant, manipulative … Ryder Blackwell is so low, he’d have to look up to see hell! If he thought she’d simply hop in his bed and spread her legs in order to get the mare, he had another think coming.

Ryder strolled up to the fence, his rolling gait graceful and full of purpose like a wolf on the hunt. His gaze settled on her mouth and Lara kicked at the ground, because the way he was looking at her was doing nothing to help maintain her indignation over his ridiculous offer. His brown eyes smoldered, the heat stealing the breath from her lungs as it tingled across her skin. The man was sex personified, every hard muscular plane that defined him begging to be touched. She’d tried to keep her distance from him for weeks and kept up the pretense that she couldn’t be bothered to give him the time of day because of the incident with the calf. But truth be told, she didn’t trust herself around him. The attraction was too intense, the way his eyes devoured her like she was a slow-smoked brisket set every nerve ending on fire. Even now, her fingers itched to reach out and touch him, to see if the definition of muscle visible beneath his shirt was as iron-hard as it looked. And holy hell, his jeans were so tight she couldn’t keep her eyes from the bulge of his fly. She licked her lips as she contemplated the outcome of releasing the button of his jeans and easing his zipper down, tooth by tooth. But Lara wasn’t interested in a one-night stand with Wham, Bam, Thank You Ma’am Blackwell. Even if his skills in the bedroom were legendary. She was trying to build a reputation in town and a one-night stand with the area’s most infamous bachelor wasn’t going to help her out a single bit.

“I don’t know what you’ve heard about me, Mr. Blackwell, but I’m not the sort of girl who sleeps with a man to get what she wants.”

He studied her for a quiet moment, his face shaded by his Stetson, and Lara averted her gaze. Looking at her dusty boots was better than meeting the intense stare that promised all sorts of inappropriate things. “And I don’t know what you’ve heard, Miss Montgomery, but I’m not the sort of man who has to pay a woman to sleep with him.”

Lara bit the inside of her cheek so her amusement wouldn’t show. Rich, drop-dead gorgeous, and not to mention charming in that self-assured sort of way, there was no doubt that Ryder had women throwing themselves at him daily. But she’d be damned if she was one of them, no matter how tempting he might be.

“So, if you’re not suggesting I sleep with you in exchange for October, then what do you want?”

He flashed her a confident smile and his leather-brown eyes gleamed with a mischievous light. “The way I see it, you talk a good game, schooling me on how I ought to run my ranch and all. But can you back those words up? You think you can do a better job than me?”

So, they were back to the business with that damned calf? Lara didn’t know the first thing about running a cattle ranch. And she’d only told him off because his flirtations made her realize that if she didn’t put some distance between them, she’d wind up in his bed. Still, she’d rather die than admit to him that she couldn’t run his ranch better than he could. “I know I can,” she said, infusing every word with bravado. “At least under my watch, there won’t be any calves left unattended.”

Ryder’s answering laughter sent a pleasant shiver down her spine. “Wanna bet?”

A challenge? Bring it on! “What are the terms?”

Ryder hopped up on the top rung of the fence and swung one long leg and then the other over, landing with a hop. She couldn’t tear her eyes away from him as he walked up to her, his powerful thighs, confident stride, and that same hungry, predatory gaze causing her toes to curl in her boots. Sin incarnate. He stepped up beside her, so close that she had to look up to meet his face. He reached up to pet the mare and as his fingers brushed hers, Lara’s pulse raced in her veins while her breath hitched in her chest.

“You stay here for the weekend,” he said, his voice low and inviting, “and work my ranch. You do what I say, when I say it. If you last ’til Sunday, I’ll give you the mare. End of story.”

Lara cocked a brow as she reminded herself to take a breath. His proximity made her entire body come alive. A pleasant warmth radiated between her thighs; sweet Jesus, he could make her wet with nothing more than a glance. She prayed he wouldn’t notice how her nipples puckered beneath the flimsy cotton fabric of her top, practically aching for his touch. Lara’s gaze locked on his mouth, and all she could think about was taking his lip between her teeth. “And if I don’t last?” she asked, a little too breathy.

Ryder gave her a lopsided grin that turned her bones soft. “If you can’t hack it, you agree to work for me. And only me. As the exclusive vet to my ranch. Do we have a deal?”

Lara turned away and stroked October’s neck. She couldn’t think straight with those piercing brown eyes focused on her. Part of her wanted to scream, “Hell, yes!” at the prospect of being cooped up with Ryder Blackwell for an entire weekend. But logic stepped in and put the brakes on any wild imaginings of being at Ryder’s mercy for almost forty-eight hours. The way he devoured her with his eyes made her realize that stepping up to the plate with him might be more than she could handle. It would be so easy to submit to her own silly crush and throw herself at the gorgeous cowboy and put those rurs about his sexual prowess to the test, though. Maybe a wild weekend with Ryder Blackwell was what she needed to finally get over her crush so she could focus on business. But no matter how much she wanted him, she couldn’t risk what any sort of relationship with him would do to her reputation.

She passed her palm over October’s silky soft, dappled-gray coat. The first time she saw the mare at the breeding stables, Lara was determined to own her. A single broodmare wasn’t enough to build a successful stable of her own, but it was a start and that mare was the key to redeeming her family name. Even the most successful stables had to start somewhere, and October was Lara’s somewhere.

“You’ll be loading her up in a trailer for me by Sunday,” Lara said with a smirk. “Because you’ve got yourself a deal.”


Copyright © 2014 by Mandy Baxter.
Learn more about or order a copy of The Billionaire Cowboy by Mandy Baxter, available October 7, 2014:

Buy at Amazon

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Mandy Baxter lives in rural Idaho. She’s a part-time pet wrangler, a full-time sun worshipper, and only goes out into the cold when coerced. She loves black clothes, pink appliances and thinks junk food should be a recognized food group. In the summer, she can be found sitting by the lake, enjoying the view from her dock.

Sep 29 2014 10:20am

Outlander Season 1, Episode 8 Recap: Is it Always Like This?

Claire hugs Jamie in Outlander 1x08Claire Randall's adventure continues in the first season of what is sure to be a long-running series on Starz based on the beloved historical fiction/fantasy/romance series by Diana Gabaldon, and we are so ready to recap and then discuss every single moment of it.

This post contains SPOILERS for all aired episodes of Outlander, including Saturday night's Season 1, Episode 8, “Both Sides Now.” Enjoy!

Six weeks after Claire’s disappearance, Frank finds that disappointment is not the word for his feelings about the efforts of the local constabulary.

With no body and no sign of a struggle, Claire probably wasn’t taken against her will. Since Frank himself caught a man staring up at Claire’s window, the prevailing theory is that Claire has run off with her lover. Frank insists Claire would never leave him for another man.

[Well...she didn't mean to. If she just hadn't fallen through time...]

Sep 29 2014 8:29am

Is Edwardian the New Regency?

We've been featuring Not-Your-Usual-Historicals for awhile now, but it seems as though more readers are finding new and different time periods to read in. One of the biggest gains in historical romance is Edwardian-set romance, with recent examples by authors such as Maggie Robinson, Mia Gabriel, and Connie Brockway.

There could be a few explanations for this surge; first and most obvious would be the ripple effect of Downton Abbey's popularity. Second could be because that period is now more than one hundred years from us, and seems more 'historical.' 

While we're not saying the Regency is out-of-fashion, we think Edwardian might be coming more into vogue. If you're a historical reader, have you noticed more Edwardian-set romances?

Sep 28 2014 2:00pm

Shipping Sunday: Castle’s Castle/Beckett

Castle Season 6 official posterCastle and Beckett's romances has to be one of the most successful on TV. They survived near-death experiences, Beckett being Castle's muse, Castle's many ex-wives and -girlfriends, and the dreaded Moonlighting Effect (which to our minds, they never encountered). However, Season 6's finale left us on a cliff-hanger (literally and figuratively), and with the premiere of Season 7 right around the corner, we're ready to make sure Castle and Beckett get their well-deserved Happily Ever After!

[+ enjoy more Caskett perfection, on the house...]

Sep 28 2014 10:00am

Christmas at Seashell Cottage: Exclusive Excerpt

Donna Alward

Christmas at Seashell Cottage by Donna Alward

It's Christmas in Jewell Cove...

And local doctor Charlie Yang finds her quiet, steady life disrupted by both an abandoned baby in the nativity manger, and a real-life mystery man. Sure, she's always wanted a family of her own, but she didn't imagine it coming from a baby that wasn't hers and a man who was more interested in living day by day than making long-term plans.

Ex-SEAL Dave Ricker hadn't planned on making Jewell Cove his forever home, but the talented and tender-hearted Charlie has him reconsidering his position on settling down. Can a beautiful woman, adorable baby and a small-town full of holiday spirit change his mind for good?

Fall in love with Donna Alward's holiday romance, Christmas at Seashell Cottage, exclusively in e-book. And look for the other books in the Jewell Cove series. “Oh, my silly heart be still. This is a wonderful romance, packed with family drama, a sexy hero, an incredible old house. You'll fall in love from the very first page.”—Debbie Macomber, #1 New York Times bestselling author on The House on Blackberry Hill

Get a sneak peek of Donna Alward's Christmas at Seashell Cottage (available October 7, 2014) with an exclusive excerpt of Chapter 1&2.

Chapter 1

Charlie Yang had never considered herself much of a joiner. So it went without saying that she was surprised to find herself in the middle of setting up a nativity scene in front of the Jewell Cove church, stuffing scratchy straw into a crudely constructed manger. They’d had an early snow, and the layer of white covering the ground and the branches of trees and shrubbery added to the feeling of holiday spirit that had taken over since Thanksgiving.

Like a well-oiled machine, Gloria Henderson and her army of church ladies had taken charge of the volunteers and had assigned jobs to everyone. The men were tasked with anything requiring a ladder and heavy lifting—including lugging three wise men, Mary and Joseph, the shepherds and sheep, and every last bit of the nativity to the front yard. Right now Bill—Charlie had forgotten his last name—from the service station was positioning the figures in the proper places, which were the exact same spots they occupied each and every year, apparently. Charlie gave a dry chuckle. You could always count on small towns, and Jewell Cove, Maine, was no different. It was practically steeped in saltwater traditions.

[Log in or register to read the full excerpt of Christmas at Seashell Cottage...]

Sep 27 2014 2:00pm

First Look: Sugar Jamison’s Gentlemen Prefer Curves (September 30, 2014)

Gentlemen Prefer Curves by Sugar JamisonSugar Jamison
Gentlemen Prefer Curves
St. Martin's Press / September 30, 2014 / $7.99 print / digital

Belinda Gordon thought she had it all—a great job, wonderful friends, a home of her own. She’s even come to love her voluptuous body. But she still can’t shake the feeling that something is missing. And then Carter Lancaster, aka Her Biggest Mistake, shows up in town, as irresistible as ever, and shakes up her entire world.

Carter never expected to find Belinda in town, looking as delicious as the day he married her five years ago—before she walked out on him after six weeks and a painful misunderstanding that included his baby daughter, Ruby. A quick divorce is the sensible option—but Carter can’t let Belinda go now, not when he can see the family they could be. Love may be a curveball, but this time he’s going to prove to Belinda that he can hit it out of the park… Gentlemen Prefer Curves is the third book in the Perfect Fit series

Each time I open a Sugar Jamison book, I love it more. That’s no different in Jamison’s latest Perfect Fit novel, Gentlemen Prefer Curves. I have been waiting for this book ever since the cover was revealed back in February, especially since there was talk of a secret husband!

[That's the kind of secret that should be revealed!]

Sep 27 2014 10:00am

Trope of the Month: Mistresses and Courtesans!

More than a Mistress, No Man's Mistress by Mary BaloghAcademically put, tropes are “common or overused theme[s] or device[s]," which makes them sound like cliches, which makes them seem like a bad thing.

But they’re totally not! Romance novel fans all have their favorite—not to mention least favorite—tropes, from friends to lovers, chick in pants, secret baby, marriage of convenience, opposites attract, May-December, boss-assistant...the list goes on.

Each month, we’ll be picking a romance novel trope and ask you to offer recommendations falling under the trope rubric (again with the academic talk!).

This month, we want your recommendations on books where the heroine is a mistress or courtesan. Love is complicated, but when you're paying for that companionship, it gets even more so! Here are some of the titles we've thought of:

Do you like this trope? What other books can you think of that features heroines who start out as mistresses or courtesans? Can you think of more contemporary or erotic titles that feature mistresses or

Sep 26 2014 4:30pm

Friday Beefcake: Falling for Ginger Guys from Heughan, White, and More!

Sam HeughanIt's officially fall! And with fall comes changing leaves, which, of course makes us think of men (but really, what doesn't). In particular, it makes us think of ginger men—or redheads for those not familiar with the UK term. We polled our Twitter Followers (it was very scientific), and asked who some of their favorite redheads were.

The man who landed on top? None other than Outlander's Sam Heughan (aka Jamie Fraser). Others included Olympic athlete Shaun White, actor Simon Wood, and many more! We tried to include as many of your picks as possible, but part of the joy of beefcake is introducing you to new eye candy! Share your favorite redheaded beefcake pics in the comments. And if you're still looking for more redheaded beefcake (Michael Fassbender, Kevin McKidd, and many more), head to our previous Ginger Beefcake post.

For those with a particular ginger love, photographer Thomas Knight has a photobook and calendar called Red Hot, which focuses solely on hot gingers, and provided us with one of our pics!

[Gingers unite...]

Sep 26 2014 3:00pm

First Look: Shiloh Walker’s Sweeter than Sin (September 30, 2014)

Shiloh Walker
Sweeter than Sin (Secrets and Shadows)
St. Martin's Press / September 30, 2014 / $7.99 print / digital

It took years for Adam to stop drowning his regrets in alcohol, and running the local bar doesn’t make it any easier—especially not when everyone he knows gathers there to discuss the shocking allegations that have shattered his hometown. When another murder rocks sleepy Madison to its core, it becomes chillingly clear that even more vicious wounds are waiting to be exposed.

Nothing is sacred anymore, and no one is safe, least of all the mystery woman who shows up in town out of the blue, looking like every fantasy Adam’s ever had. She may have her own dangerous secrets, but she can’t ignore the urgent heat between them any more than he can. As a killer’s quest for vengeance explodes into violence, Adam is tempted to lose himself in the delicious promise of her body—until he realizes he’ll risk anything if she’ll give him her heart…

The second installment of Shiloh Walker’s Secrets and Shadows series, Sweeter than Sin, makes you ponder if the choices we make as teenagers—the experiences we have as a child—carve the paths of our lives.

[Where does the path lead?]

Sep 26 2014 12:00pm

Her Perfect Game: Exclusive Excerpt

Shannyn Schroeder

Her Perfect Game by Shannyn Schroeder

Spring break is supposed to be a week of fun in the sun for three childhood friends about to graduate from college. But one of them is ready to get her game on somewhere else…

Charlie Castle is an expert archer and a fierce warrior—in her favorite video game, anyway. But college life was a program she couldn't quite master. To land a cybertech job without a degree, she's entering a “hackfest” over spring break—where she also hopes to meet the sweet gamer who's been flirting with her online. Instead, she runs into the hot guy who walked away years ago, and can't fight the desire that comes rushing back.

Jonah Best has never gotten over Charlie, whose kisses were always as deliciously creative as her coding. But now that they're face to face again, he doesn't know how to admit that her online admirer is really him—or how to convince her that he's offering her a job for her incredible skills, not her sex appeal. Can Jonah cut through their communication glitches and persuade Charlie that the next level up for them should be forever?

Get a sneak peek of Shannyn Schroeder's Her Perfect Game (available October 27, 2014) with an exclusive excerpt of a selected scene.

Charlie stared at the screen. What the fuck just happened? She looked at her character lying on the dirty floor of the house. Her hand hovered over the keyboard, shaking. She didn’t know what to do.


She didn’t even know why she called to him. She’d watched him disappear almost as quickly as Kraven had. The burst of magic from Win had been surreal. She’d never witnessed anything like it, and she’d hung out with a lot of mages over the course of the last two years. None of them wielded that kind of power.

[Log in or register to read the full excerpt of Her Perfect Game...]

Sep 26 2014 1:00pm

Scandal Season 4 Episode 1: Liv’s Back, Gladiators!

Can't get enough Scandal? Join the club—really. Tune into H&H for weekly recaps from Kwana Minatee-Jackson and Nicole Leapheart. Need to catch up? Don't miss our previous recaps and posts on Scandal. And now, let's dive into H&H's recap of Season 4, episode 1, “Randy, Red, Superfreak, and Julia.”

NOTE: This post may contain spoilers for all aired episodes of Scandal. Enjoy!

And we’re back, Gladiators! We made it through the summer and fall is finally here. When last we left Olivia Pope and Associates, shoes were dropping, fans were being hit, first sons were being assassinated, Presidents were crumbling, and Liv, well, Liv was jetting off to parts unknown with creepy (but hey, still dreamy and hot) Jake because you know…Liv. 

[Crazy, sexy, cool?]

Sep 26 2014 9:30am

We Laugh Because We Love: Top 10 Romance Parodies

Photo courtesy of 50 Shades, The Musical! websiteObviously, we all love Romance as a genre. None of us would be here if we didn’t. (Here, as in at this site obviously, not here as in alive and in the world.) But loving something does not mean we cannot mock it, or enjoy it when others do so for us. In fact, if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then parody must surely be the sincerest form of affection; to spoof anything really well you must know it inside and out, and such thorough acquaintance with the minutia of anything can only either lead to—or, more likely, be born out of— a deep and profound fondness.

Here then, the Top 10 romance parodies that are funniest when you know enough—and love enough—to really get the joke…

10. 50 Shades! The Musical (2013)
Parody of Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James

This stage parody promising live BDSM (“Best Damn Songs and Music”) was a hit in Chicago before making its way to Manhattan, the New York Post reporting that “the opening scene centers on a middle-aged ladies’ book group, then plunges, like a cougar’s neckline, into sketches making fun of the erotic, best-selling novel.” Conceived by musical improv comedy troupe Baby Wants Candy, the show features songs like “Red Room” with lyrics such as “How much can you take/How much can you handle?/Clamps upon your nipples?/Hot wax with a burning candle?” Rarely, if ever, has soft-core erotica been so jaunty.

[We like a little laughter with our bondage...]

Sep 26 2014 8:30am

How Do You Feel About First Person Point-of-View?

Toby Stephens and Ruth Wilson in Jane Eyre

In the past, some romance readers said they were turned off by a book if it was told in the first person (“Reader, I married him”). But as New Adult and gothics are coming more into the mainstream of romance, it seems as though first person isn't still the hurdle it used to be.

How do you feel about first person point-of-view?

Sep 25 2014 4:30pm

First Look: Katie Porter’s Snap (September 30, 2014)

Snap by Katie PorterKatie Porter
Snap (Command Force Alpha)
Samhain / September 30, 2014 / $5.50 digital

Captain Laurence Madigan is an anomaly—a levelheaded risk taker who learned the dark side of life in Manchester’s slums. He needed those skills to survive fourteen months as a prisoner of Firebird, a shadowy Russian cartel.

When rescued, he receives less than a hero’s welcome. He’s considered a wild card—or even a double agent. After enduring agony and degradation for Command Force Alpha, he’s determined to clear his name and bring Firebird down…even if it means escaping CFA’s London facility with a very personal hostage.

Oxford-educated psychologist Gemma Calloway should fight her abductor tooth and claw, but loyalty to her old friend wins out. Isolated in a rustic hideaway, she tends his wounds and can’t help staring at his scars and prison tattoos.

Their impromptu safe house becomes a haven of uneasy trust and potent, gathering desires. As they sort present dangers from past affection, Gemma realizes she’s in over her head…and up to her heart with longing for a good man whose last reason for living could be revenge.

My husband has always warned against buying a bottle of wine because the label is pretty, and I’ve learned the hard way to apply that same logic to romance novels—quite often, the story does not match the sexy man on the cover. Katie Porter’s Snap, is the textbook example of not judging the book by its cover. The sexy red stilettos with handcuffs clipped to the heel fall short at the robust military romance inside. It’s like renting a little Vespa, driving into a tunnel, and coming out on a roaring beast of a Harley Davidson and leaving the Sons of Anarchy in your dust.

[You're revving us up!]

Sep 25 2014 2:50pm

Outlander’s Midseason Premiere Date Set—When Will Jamie and Claire Return?

Jamie and Claire on their weddingBefore Outlander was a TV show, we all loved Jamie Fraser. However, after last Saturday's episode, “The Wedding,” we might love him even more. This coming Saturday marks the final episode of the first half of season one, but never fear, the second half is not far behind. According to Variety, Outlander will return to Starz viewers on April 4, 2015.

How will you spend your waiting period? Perhaps re-watching the wedding night...fifteen times...in slow-mo?

The Outlander party never stops at H&H—visit our official collection for Diana Gabaldon's Outlander to read a Beginner's GuideWhat to Read After OutlanderIn Defense of Laoghaire5 Things the TV Series Shouldn't Change, all the latest news, and so much more.