<i>The Last True Vampire</i>: Exclusive Excerpt The Last True Vampire: Exclusive Excerpt Kate Baxter "He had nothing with which to keep the frenzy in check." <i>Then He Kissed Me</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Then He Kissed Me: Exclusive Excerpt Maria Geraci "It was a toe-curling ass-kicking kiss that nearly made Lauren swoon." <i>Eighth Grave After Dark</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Eighth Grave After Dark: Exclusive Excerpt Darynda Jones "He covered my mouth with his, his tongue hot as it dived inside me..." Read & Win: <i>Born of Defiance</i> Read & Win: Born of Defiance Team H & H Read an excerpt from Sherrilyn Kenyon's Born of Defiance, and enter for a chance to win your own copy!
From The Blog
May 21, 2015
Futuristic Breeder Romances
Heather Massey
May 20, 2015
Jenn Bennett’s Roaring Twenties Series
May 19, 2015
Top 7 Ballsy Women in Movies, TV, and Novels
Winter Austin
May 19, 2015
Highland Knits for Outlander Fans
Kate Nagy
May 16, 2015
Love, History, and Family in Tiffany Girl
Maggie Boyd
May 21 2015 5:00pm

First Look: Shannon Stacey’s Under the Lights (May 26, 2015)

Under the Lights by Shannon Stacey

Shannon Stacey
Under the Lights (Boys of Fall #1)
Jove / May 26, 2015 / $7.99 print & digital

They were the golden boys of fall: Stewart Mills High School’s legendary championship winning football team. Fourteen years later, they’re back to relive their glory, save the team—and find themselves again…

Chase Sanders’s life has taken a lot of crazy turns lately. But returning to his hometown to help his old coach keep his high school football team afloat might be the craziest thing to happen to him yet. That is, until he starts falling for the last person he should—Coach’s gorgeous daughter…

Kelly McDonnell learned the hard way that cocky, charming men are nothing but trouble, so she knows Chase is bad news. Still, she can’t resist his smile—or the rest of him. But when his loyalty to her father conflicts with their growing attraction, any hope for a relationship might be blocked before it can even begin…

Shannon Stacey adds a new twist to the sports romance with her Boys of Fall series in which the heroes are not professional athletes or even college stars (current or former), but rather former members of a high school football team that won the first championship for tiny Stewart Mills, New Hampshire. Fourteen years later, the town is suffering from the economic downturn, and one result is a tight education budget that means cutting the football team. Kelly McDonnell, daughter of the town’s beloved football coach, and her friends Jen Cooper and Gretchen Walker spearhead a fundraising effort to save the team with a festival that includes an exhibition game between the current team and members of that first championship team. Although the romance between Kelly and Chase Sanders, running back on that famous team, is the heart of Under the Lights, the novel is also a portrait of football and its role in small-town America.

[A little football and small town romance goes a long way...]

May 21 2015 4:26pm

Romance News Roundup: Shelly Laurenston & Cynthia Eden Deal and More!

Welcome to H&H's daily news roundup! Grab a mug of tea and a scone and let's gossip about what's hot in the romance world right now.

Howl for It by Shelly Laurenston and Cynthia Eden—Deal Alert #2: Looking for a paranormal fix? Shelly Laurenston and Cynthia Eden's Howl for It duology is on sale for $2.99 in e-book at e-tailers such as Barnes & NobleAmazon, and iBookstore.* See what our reviewer had to say about it in our First Look!

—The Harry Potter movie franchise's Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis) is all grown up and posing for pretty impressive shirtless photoshoots, if you're into that sort of thing (we are, and wow, wow, wow)... Lewis and J.K. Rowling's Twitter exchange is icing on the cake!

—Deal Alert #1: Philippa Gregory's historical novel The White Queen, Book 1 in the Cousins' War and the basis for a TV miniseries by the same name, is currently on sale for $1.99 in e-book at e-tailers including Barnes & Noble, iBookstore, and Amazon.* Want to know more? Read our recaps of the show here.

*We don't know how long deals will last, so grab 'em while you can!

May 21 2015 1:30pm

Exclusive Edie Harris Cover Reveal + Snippet from Crazed!

Today we're thrilled to have Edie Harris on Hereos and Heartbreakers! Edie is the author of the much-loved Blood Money series, a thrilling romantic suspense series featuring heroes and heroines who flirt with the dark side—in all the best ways! We're so excited to be revealing the covers for books four and book five, Thrilled and Locked. Edie also gave us a first look at book three in the series, Crazed (available October 19, 2015) with an exclusive snippet. See below for the full covers and to get reading!

[Keep going to see both covers and read a snippet from Crazed...]

May 21 2015 12:30pm

Futuristic Breeder Romances in Sci-Fi Erotica and Erotic Sci-Fi Romance

Breeder by Cara Bristol

(Trigger Warning: This post involves references to rape and non-consensual sexual acts in SF erotica and erotic sci-fi romance.)

Breeder erotica is alive and well and has been around for many years. It's particularly a staple of SF/horror erotica. It also makes regular appearances in erotic sci-fi romance. A cursory check of Listopias on Goodreads will turn up packed-to-the-gills lists of “Mars Needs Women” and “impregnation” stories.

Breeder SFRs typically involve heroines who are captured for often non-consensual, forced impregnation (or at least that's the initial intention). These stories typically include graphic sex, dark content, and some romance. One of the more popular premises is that an alien species has lost all or most of its childbearing women and so require a fertile, compatible species in order to survive.

In a science fiction/SF erotica tale, it's a pretty horrific situation since women (usually from Earth) are kidnapped, raped, imprisoned, and forced to bear children. To what extent does adding a romance change or transform such stories?

Cara Bristol's Breeder is pretty transparent about its dark content. The society is one in which patriarchy runs amok. Men rule the world and they view women as subhuman.

[Men ruling the world, again?]

May 21 2015 11:00am

Is This the Real Life... Male/Male Best Bets for May 2015

Shotgun by Marie Sexton

If you like contemporary romance and/or fantasy, this is your month. Sadly, I didn't run into anything in the way of frock coats or sword canes (though some of the fantasies do get into armor.)

Shotgun (Coda #7) by Marie Sexton

As a young man, Dominic Jacobsen already suspects he’s gay, and he gets all the confirmation he needs when a rich boy from out of town climbs into the back seat of Dominic’s GTO. One night with Lamar Franklin is all it takes to convince Dominic he’s found the man of his dreams. Unfortunately, that one night is all he'll get before Lamar returns to Tucson.

Fifteen years later Lamar returns to Coda, Colorado, after ending the latest in a string of bad relationships. He’s alone, depressed, and plagued by late-night phone calls from an unidentified caller. Lamar's ready to give up when he comes face-to-face with his past.

Since he was seventeen, Dominic has dreamed of a reunion with Lamar, but that doesn't mean he’s ready for it now. Facing small-town rumors and big-family drama is bad enough, but Dominic won’t risk losing custody of his teenage daughter, Naomi. The only solution is to make sure he and Lamar remain friends and nothing more. Clothes stay on, no matter what.

It seems simple enough. But for better or worse, Lamar has other ideas.

After 9 novels and short stories about the same three couples, it's interesting to see this small town series branching out. Some previous Coda favorites make an appearance, but this can be read as a stand alone. (Although considering the series contains Promises and Strawberries for Dessert, why would you want to?)

[More Male/Male Best Bests for May 2015...]

May 21 2015 9:30am

First Look: Caroline Linden’s Love in the Time of Scandal (May 26, 2015)

Caroline Linden
Love in the Time of Scandal (Scandalous Series #3)
Avon / May 26, 2015 / $6.99 digital, $7.99 print

Penelope Weston does not like Benedict Lennox, Lord Atherton. He may be the suave and charming heir to an earl, as well as the most handsome man on earth, but she can't forget how he abandoned a friend in need— nor how he once courted her sister, Abigail. He's the last man she would ever marry. If only she didn't feel so attracted to the arrogant scoundrel . . .

Once upon a time, Benedict thought he and Penelope got along rather well. Though he needs a wealthy bride to escape his cruel father's control, spirited Penelope just doesn't suit his plans for a model marriage—until a good deed goes awry, and scandalous rumors link his name to Penelope's. She might not be the quiet, sensible wife he thought he wanted, but she is beautiful . . . beguiling . . . and far more passionate than he ever imagined. Can a marriage begun in scandal become a love match, too?

In Caroline Linden's Love in the Time of Scandal, Penelope Weston doesn't much like Benedict Lennox. He'd courted her older sister and was rejected and now seems bent on marrying Penelope's young naïve friend in her first Season. Not on her watch! Passionate Penelope will save her friend from the machinations of the Loathsome Lennox, and though she's vastly annoying, Benedict cannot help but admire Penelope.

At her best, Penelope was exuberant and amusing, with a sparkling wit; she was loyal and fearless in her devotion to those dear to her. With her hair tousled and her color high, she was a smoldering temptress, and all her words in praise of passion ran through his mind in sinful suggestion.

[Weston is dying to get married and Penelope is standing in his way...]

May 21 2015 8:11am

Throwback Thursday: Who Was Your First Knight?

The Wolf and the Dove by Kathleen E WoodiwissThere was a time when knights, squires, and medieval lords graced the pages of many romances. The shining armor, the sword fights, the derring do! There's a lot to love about medieval romances. But who was your first knight? What was your first medieval romance? Do you read them still?

May 20 2015 4:30pm

First Look: Jennifer Probst’s Searching for Beautiful (May 26, 2015)

Jennifer Probst
Searching for Beautiful (Searching for... #3)
Gallery / May 26, 2015 / $16.00 print, $7.99 digital

Genevieve MacKenzie has her life completely under control. About to wed the charming Chief doctor at the local hospital, she’s an up-and-coming surgeon with everything she could ever want. Until an escape through the church window on the day of her wedding sends her life into a tailspin…and flings her right into her best friend’s arms.

When Wolfe catches his best friend falling out a window on her wedding day, he doesn’t ask questions. He whisks her away, determined to watch over her and discover the truth behind her desperate escape. But when his feelings turn more than platonic, he realizes he may risk his most important relationship in order to protect his damaged heart, and the woman he loves.

Can Genevieve and Wolfe’s friendship turn into something deeper—or is it already too late for true love?

I have a confession to make: I jumped on the Jennifer Probst train a bit late; it was well after Searching for Someday had been released, and just a couple of weeks before the release of Searching for Perfect. It kept popping up in my recommendations, and I kept debating whether or not to download it. One weekend I was looking for a new book to read since I’d blown through my virtual TBR pile and downloaded Searching for Someday on a whim.

I couldn’t put it down, and it killed me to have to wait a few weeks for Searching for Perfect to come out. Once it was released, I plowed through it. Then, needing a fix, I totally binged on Probst’s Marriage to a Billionaire series.

[Bestfriends turned lovers has a nice ring...]

May 20 2015 3:12pm

Romance News Roundup: Damon Suede Deal, Rainbow Rowell on Fandom, and More!

Welcome to H&H's daily news roundup! Grab a mug of tea and a scone and let's gossip about what's hot in the romance world right now.

Hot Head by Damon Suede—Deal Alert: Damon Suede's Hot Head is currently $1.00 in e-book at Amazon.* You may recall this novel made it onto our list of 10 Must-Read Male/Male Romances...

—Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl spinoff novel, Carry On (which can be read as a standalone), isn't out until October, but BuzzFeed is already bringing us some great coverage. They sat down with Rowell to discuss the impact fandom and fan fiction have had on her own life and her writing as well as why she thinks “we've been using fiction and story to sort out our lives since always,” which I think many of us can relate to. Want more? Read Rowell's H&H guest post on the most satisfying love stories ever.

—Gearing up for Stephanie Laurens's next Cynster novel, A Match for Marcus Cynster? Bibliophilia, Please has an excerpt to further whet your appetite. Laurens's Cynster romances regularly end up on H&H lists on topics like Top Historical Sex Scenes and the 10 Regency Romances You Should Read. For all Cynsters all the time, read this take on the best books in the series.

Game of Thrones is on notice with many of us right now (read our recap for more on why we're upset about Sansa's storyline), but I can never resist Peter Dinklage, who for Red Nose Day performed Game of Thrones: The Musical in tribute to all the characters who've died in the show so far. Only the teaser has been released for now, but it's a good one!

May 20 2015 2:00pm

From Merchant Heiress to Countess: Cross-Class Romance in Mary Balogh’s Traditional Regencies, Part 2

A Christmas Promise by Mary Balogh

This post is Part 2 of a two-part series exploring the cross-class romances featured in many of Mary Balogh's traditional Regency romances. For the other types of cross-class romances Balogh has written, see here for Part 1.

The Middle-Class Protagonist

In Mary Balogh's three novels with middle-class protagonists, she presents families from the merchant class as warm, loving boisterous clans whose open-hearted affection for one another is contrasted with the formal and sometimes cold family life of their social superiors. The hero of A Christmas Promise (1992), Randolph Pierce, the new Earl of Falloden, has inherited heavy debts along with his title. Joseph Transome, an immensely wealthy coal merchant, wants to see his daughter and heiress, safely married before his death. Transome purchases all of Falloden’s debts and offers to cancel them and to settle half of his fortune on Falloden if the earl agrees to marry Transome’s nineteen-year-old daughter. If Falloden refuses to marry Eleanor within the month, Transome will call in the debts, and Falloden will go to debtor’s prison. Reluctantly, Falloden agrees to marry Eleanor immediately, to bed her within a week of the marriage, and to live in the same house with her for at least the first year of the marriage.

Eleanor is no more eager for the marriage than is Falloden. Each is in love with a member of his/her own class, and each has firm class prejudices. The earl expects Ellie to be a “loud and vulgar creature,” insensitive and incapable of entering the “the ranks of his class.” She may be a beauty, but he is convinced she will be the very antithesis of the “delicate and delectable Dorothea” with whom he has been in love for the past year. Ellie concedes that Falloden is handsome, but she also believes him to be a “harsh and a proud man . . . the sort of man who lived an idle life . . . a spendthrift and probably a gamer.” She is persuaded he will be nothing like the hardworking cousin whom she had hoped to marry.

[Class, wealth, love and more of Mary Balogh's cross-class romances...]

May 20 2015 12:00pm

The Last True Vampire: Exclusive Excerpt

Kate Baxter

The Last True Vampire by Kate Baxter

Soul Survivor

He is the last of his race. The one true king of the vampires. Michael Aristov roams the nightclubs of L.A. after dark, haunted by his past and driven by his hunger. The last of the Ancient Ones, he alone has survived the destruction of his race at the hands of the slayers. Now he is forced to hunt and feed like a common vampire, a creature of lust. Nothing in this world can fulfill his needs…until he meets a woman who's everything he's ever wanted. And more.

Sweet Salvation

Her name is Claire Thompson. Her blood is so sweet, so intoxicating—the smell alone draws Michael to her like a moth to the flame. Sly, sexy, and seductive, Claire seems to be the only mortal who can satisfy his craving and seal his fate…forever. Can she be trusted? From their very first kiss, the last true vampire sweeps Claire into a world in which darkness rules desire—and where falling in love is the greatest danger of all…

Get a sneak peek at  Kate Baxter's The Last True Vampire (available June 2, 2015) with an exclusive excerpt of a selected scene.


The vampire knew of no one on the face of the earth that he despised as fervently as the Sortiari. Mikhail wondered if his torture somehow assuaged their guilt as the self-proclaimed influencers of Fate? Perhaps it justified the murders they'd tasked their lapdogs to commit? Because as far as Mikhail was concerned, the only thing the slayer had accomplished was to further enrage an already-rabid beast. Careful in his technique, the false priest took great care as he made a show of purifying Mikhail's flesh. A torch burned bright in the dark dungeon, the fire casting inhuman shadows as though revealing the slayer's true face. He touched the flame to Mikhail's skin again and again as he absolved the vampire of sin in preparation for the killing blow.

[Log in or register to read the full excerpt...]

May 20 2015 11:00am

Turning the Tables on Paranormal Romance: Jenn Bennett’s Roaring Twenties Series

Grave Phantoms by Jenn Bennett

When you hear the term “paranormal romance” what are the first words that pop into your mind? For the most part I think it’s safe to say that vampires and werewolves would be at the top of almost everyone’s lists. Vampires have become so prevalent that this writer’s block soap “smells like regurgitated ideas and probably a vampire.” Ouch. For the record, I still very much enjoy vampires. Throw in demons, witches, shapeshifters, Valkyries, and Olympians and you’ve covered a healthy portion of the genre. (See H&H’s posts on all-things supernatural creatures here and here.)

The last thing that comes to mind for me is the human element.  Most paranormal series are built around a common supernatural creature or mythology. Jenn Bennett’s Roaring Twenties series breaks that mold. The three-book series centers around a family. A human family. And each book has a different paranormal element.

A member of the Magnusson family is featured in each of the books. Winter is the head of the family and the family business of bootlegging. The series is set in Prohibition-era San Francisco, so bootlegging is a lucrative business and the Magnussons have the biggest house in the best neighborhood to prove it. Lowe Magnusson is an archaeologist and con man, but mostly rakish con man. And Astrid is the kid sister who’s heading off to college soon. The Magnusson name opens doors in San Francisco but they’re begrudgingly accepted into San Francisco’s high society— new money and wealth gained from illegal activity gets the occasional raised eyebrow or nose in the air. Those hang-ups tend to disappear for San Francisco’s finest when it’s time to throw a party.

[Socialites, black magic, and spirits make the Magnusson family unique...]

May 20 2015 9:30am

First Look: Kit Rocha’s Beyond Innocence (May 20, 2015)

Beyond Innocence by Kit Rocha

Kit Rocha
Beyond Innocence (Beyond #6)
Kit Rocha / May 20, 2015 / $4.99 digital

For years, Jared has existed on the fringes of both Eden society and Dallas O'Kane's Sector Four gang. He travels between these worlds, protected by his money and power—money he earned selling his body, and power that comes from knowing secrets. He's untouchable—until he starts a new life gathering intelligence for the O'Kanes.

Lili Fleming walked out of Sector Five with a gun, the bloodstained clothes on her back, and an icy determination to survive. She finds herself in a world where people live hard and love harder, and nothing's more terrifying than how much the O'Kanes wake her up, make her feel—especially Jared.

Emotion is a risk he can't afford, and a complication she doesn't need. But neither can resist the lust simmering between them, and the sparks that could either melt the ice around both their hearts...or get them killed. Because the only thing more dangerous than loving an O'Kane is loving a spy.

With each new book in Kit Rocha’s post-apocalyptic erotic romance Beyond series, I fall more in love with Sector Four. I’ve loved seeing the way couples come together over time in this world, and that the timing always feels right. Beyond Innocence is no exception there.

Like the other full-length novels in this series, the ongoing arc is expanded and the big relationships get deeper. Before Kit Rocha's Beyond Innocence, we mostly saw Jared through Ace’s eyes. They are unofficial brothers. Jared continued servicing the bored women of Eden when Ace quit prostitution. We’ve seen them drinking before, and Ace’s continued pleas to get Jared to join the O’Kanes. It isn’t that simple for Jared.

We’ve also seen some sexual chemistry between these two before Ace finally found his soulmates in Rachel and Cruz. There’s still a sizzle there—more on that in a bit—but Jared is finally unraveled by Lili.

[He meets someone just like him, but she's innocent...]

May 20 2015 8:19am

What Secrets to Success Do You Think Real-Life Couples Could Learn from Romance?

The Right Wife by Beverly Barton

Many times, we as romance readers are told that we are fostering unrealistic expectations of relationships due to our reading. However, I think it's safe to say that there are a few things that real life couples can learn from romance!

A recent study showed that there are two keys to happiness with your spouse: kindness and generosity! As one person noted, “So a happy wife really means a happy life?” This got me thinking about the tips we could learn from romance to influence our relationships in the real world. What would be your suggestions? What books or authors have unleashed a wealth of good advice?

Let us know in the comments!

May 19 2015 5:00pm

Top 7 Ballsy Women in Movies, TV, and Novels (and Why We Need More!)

Atonement by Winter Austin

Today we're thrilled to have Winter Austin on Heroes and Heartbreakers. Winter writes ballsy women—Nic, the heroine of her upcoming book, Atonement, which came out yesterday, is a former marine sniper suffering from PTSD. Nic doesn't want to accept anyone's help and is reluctant to do so when a string of suspicious suicides strike her small town. Winter is here today to talk about other ballsy women in fiction and why we need more of them! Thanks, Winter!

In Hollywood and in fiction, the “Strong Female Character” is finally having her heyday and it’s about time. The world of movies, television shows, and novels are now rife with women who take center stage and take care of business after years of only being sidelined as the love interest or the damsel in distress.

But when executed poorly, this kind of characterization can result in women who are written to behave like men. It’s still somewhat rare to find a great story that offers us a fully realized, complex kickass lady who isn’t emotionless or one-dimensional.

So here are seven favorite strong-willed, independent-minded and tough-as-nails fictional ladies who aren’t afraid to get in touch with their feminine side open up and be vulnerable and caring when it counts. They might have balls but they also have heart, and that’s something we definitely need more of in our movies, TV and books.

[Meet the Ballsy Women of Movies, TV, and Novels...]

May 19 2015 4:10pm

Romance News Roundup: Poldark, Jessica Clare Deal, and More!

Welcome to H&H's daily news roundup! Grab a mug of tea and a scone and let's gossip about what's hot in the romance world right now.

Ross and Demelza in Poldark—We have a premiere date for Poldark in the U.S.! The British miniseries will air in the U.S. on Sunday nights this summer (June 21-August 2) on PBS. Shirtless Aidan Turner and shipping potential are just two reasons we'll be watching!

—Deal Alert #1: Jessica Clare's Playing Games is currently $.99 in e-book at e-tailers such as Amazon, iBookstore, and Barnes & Noble.*

—Deal Alert #2: Mary Jo Putney's Silk and Shadows is $2.99 right now in e-book at Amazon.*

—Alish Rai has shared the cover for and an excerpt from the second book in her Pleasure series, Serving Pleasure. Want more? Visit our Alisha Rai tag here.

—Deal Alert #3: Jill Sanders' Last Resort is currently $.99 in e-book at e-tailers such as Barnes & Noble, iBookstore, and Amazon.*

*We don't know how long deals will last, so get 'em while you can!

May 19 2015 2:00pm

Cover Tuesday: Piper J. Drake, Jackie Ashenden, and Claudia Connor!

Today we're thrilled to reveal the covers for books from Piper J. Drake, Claudia Connor, and Jackie Ashenden.  These ladies are bringing the feels with their tough and brooding heroes (and heroines)! First up is Piper J. Drake's romantic suspense novel, Extreme Honor. Then, Jackie Ashenden makes her heroine pick between passion with a biker or duty to her new family in Hold Me Down. Finally, a man and a woman find strength—and love—with each other in Claudia Connor's Worth It All. 

[Take a Peek Inside for the Covers...]

May 19 2015 1:35pm

First Look: Jeffe Kennedy’s The Talon of the Hawk (May 26, 2015)

The Talon of the Hawk by Jeffe Kennedy

Jeffe Kennedy
The Talon of the Hawk
Kensington / May 26, 2015 / $15.00 print, $13.50 digital

Three daughters were born to High King Uorsin, in place of the son he wanted. The youngest, lovely and sweet. The middle, pretty and subtle, with an air of magic. And the eldest, the Heir. A girl grudgingly honed to leadership, not beauty, to bear the sword and honor of the king.

Ursula’s loyalty is as ingrained as her straight warrior’s spine. She protects the peace of the Twelve Kingdoms with sweat and blood, her sisters from threats far and near. And she protects her father to prove her worth. But she never imagined her loyalty would become an open question on palace grounds. That her father would receive her with a foreign witch at one side and a hireling captain at the other―that soldiers would look on her as a woman, not as a warrior. She also never expected to decide the destiny of her sisters, of her people, of the Twelve Kingdoms and the Thirteenth. Not with her father still on the throne and war in the air. But the choice is before her. And the Heir must lead…

The third installment of Jeffe Kennedy's Twelve Kingdoms fantasy series tears sharply and deeply into the books' mythology as well as into the heart of its core family. The Talon of the Hawk, Ursula's story, doesn't hesitate to draw blood and, in the process, proves also to be incredibly healing.  

All three sisters' stories have dealt with unlocking the true potential of who you are, and Ursula's journey is perhaps the most heightened and the most emotionally intense, because so much of her identity is tied up in being the dutiful heir to a tyrant king. She doesn't take chances like Andi does and she's not beautiful like Amelia, so who is she? Just a cipher, an extension of Uorsin, or a fully realized woman and person with her own worth? Yes, it is a man―Dasnarian mercenary captain Harlan―who sees that woman and that person and makes her aware of herself as an individual, but it's not as simple as lust or love fixing her issues. Harlan may be the catalyst for her self-awareness, but it's Ursula who has to painstakingly evolve ― and Kennedy makes sure the reader feels every beat and step of that process. Even before Harlan starts to seep into Ursula's consciousness, she chooses to don the Heir's Circlet and her mother's jewels as a message to her father. The seeds of growth are there. It's just that they need to be tended and encouraged.

[Ursula will have to fight her issues to have a shot at happiness...]

May 19 2015 11:00am

Keeping Warm on a Cold Scottish Night: Highland Knits for Outlander Fans

Claire from Outlander in her knits

Fans of the Starz network’s ongoing adaptation of Diana Gabaldon’s wildly popular Outlander saga – and they are legion – tend to wax rhapsodic over three particular aspects of the show. First, the sizzling chemistry between series leads Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan as time-traveling Claire and her strapping Scottish protector-turned husband Jamie. Second, the cinematography, which superbly depicts the beauty and wonder of the Scottish Highlands. And third, the absolutely delicious knitwear flaunted by many of the major (and not-so-major) characters.

So popular have these gorgeous designs become that entire blogs, Pinterest boards, and Facebook pages have sprung up to honor the costumes themselves and their indefatigable designer, Terry Dresbach (who, it is said, had less than two months to develop and create all the costumes for the show). And while purists may sniff that many of these knits are seriously anachronistic – evidently, eighteenth-century Scotswomen favored neither capelets nor shrugs – many if not most fans who knit merely shrug their shoulders and say “Whatever. Where can I find the pattern?”

…Many places, as it turns out. A number of knitwear designers have produced patterns or collections that were directly inspired by Outlander; others have published patterns that evoke Scotland or the turbulent era in which Jamie and Claire have their adventures. Here are some of the best.

[Find your favorite knits from the TV show Outlander...]

May 19 2015 9:30am

First Look: Melissa Cutler’s Game Changer (May 19, 2015)

Game Changer by Melissa Cutler

Melissa Cutler
Game Changer (Bomb Squad #3)
Penguin Intermix / May 19, 2015 / $4.99 digital

Welcome to Destiny Falls, New York, home of Bomb Squad—an ice hockey team full of rugged military heroes. An once-in-a-lifetime opportunity has the team captain packing his bags for greener pastures, but saying good-bye to the woman who’d captured his heart is easier said than done…

After being wounded in combat, Brandon Theroux lives every day like it’s his last. He never could have imagined that the sleek mechanics of his prosthetic leg would open so many doors, including minor celebrity status as a fitness model and a well-earned reputation as a rakish playboy. The only door it hasn’t opened is the one to Harper Johnson’s bedroom.

Harper has too much self-respect to join the ranks of Brandon’s “carpe diem” conquests, but when she needs someone to keep the peace in the tavern she owns, Brandon offers his help—as long as she agrees to a very tempting trade. It isn’t long before the two realize that a deal struck between friends who can’t keep their hands off each other has the potential to be a whole lot hotter than either of them is prepared to handle.

Sometimes when I read that a wounded warrior is the hero, I mutter, another day, another hero. I wonder what will be different about this one. Is there a fresh perspective possible? Without giving anything away, YES, Melissa Cutler's Game Changer really is a game changer because both Brandon and Harper are wounded inside and out, but they heal from within first and then lovingly, sexily, create a sensual space for each other that is different than anything I’ve ever read.

Dancing with the Stars has given the world sexy, agile, muscular former military men who have come to terms with their injuries. For Brandon it almost seems like his disability is a door-to-the-bedroom opener. His forever friend (and not with benefits), Harper, is a gun-toting, bar-owning, take-charge heroine! She’s older than the hero but that’s simply stated, not agonized over or examined exhaustively. Back to the gun-toting – we meet Harper as she defends her bar from some miscreants, thinking,

It might be a man’s world, but that was only because not enough women were properly armed. She loaded the rifle as she walked, then unlocked the front door and threw it open.

[Bars, guns, sex in the backseat and this is Upstate New York...]