<i>Lailah</i>: Excerpt Lailah: Excerpt Nikki Kelly As if he were sampling a glass of wine, he swirled his tongue, nuzzling at my flesh. <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."
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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.

Sep 25 2014 2:00pm

Longing and Courage: September 2014 Women’s Fiction Roundup

Being Audrey Hepburn by Mitchell KriegmanEmily Dickinson’s words, “The past is not a package one can lay away,” are very much apropos for September’s women’s fiction releases. Many of the characters long for the “way we were”—whether it is for their prestigious life style or the comfort of physical books or even former loves. More than one book nostalgically romanticizes the past’s style of dress, or distinctive sophistication. Another book shows the hardship and courage of the characters as they fight unimaginable evil during World War II. Then there are the characters that just want to put their past behind them, and move forward. More than one character has a surprise in store, as the past finally reveals its hidden secrets. But no matter what their previous lives entailed, they are all heading for new beginnings filled with hope and joy. Happy Reading!

Being Audrey Hepburn by Mitchell Kriegman

Lisbeth comes from a broken home in the land of tube tops, heavy eyeliner, frosted lip-gloss, juiceheads, hoop earrings and “the shore.” She has a circle of friends who have dedicated their teenage lives to relieve the world of all its alcohol one drink at a time.

Obsessed with everything Audrey Hepburn, Lisbeth is transformed when she secretly tries on Audrey’s iconic Givenchy. She becomes who she wants to be by pretending to be somebody she’s not and living among the young and privileged Manhattan elite. Soon she’s faced with choices that she would never imagine making – between who she’s become and who she once was.

In the tradition of The Nanny Diaries and The Devil Wears Prada, this is a coming of age story that all begins with that little black dress…

Strengths: Appealing Characters, Innovative mix of multiple eras, Character growth, Nostalgic elegance, HEA
Measure of Love: Teaspoon
Introspection Level: Medium

[+more awesome new releases...]

Sep 25 2014 11:00am

First Look: Samantha Young’s Echoes of Scotland Street (September 30, 2014)

Echoes of Scotland Street by Samantha YoungSamantha Young
Echoes of Scotland Street
NAL Trade / September 30, 2014 / $15.00 print / $4.99 digital

Shannon MacLeod has always gone for the wrong type of man. After she drifted from one toxic relationship to the next, her last boyfriend gave her a wake-up call in the worst possible way. With her world shattered, she’s sworn off men—especially those of the bad-boy variety.

Cole Walker is exactly the sort that Shannon wants to avoid—gorgeous, tattooed, charming, and cocky. But his rough exterior hides a good man who’s ready to find “the one.” He’s determined to pull Shannon from her self-imposed solitude to win her heart.

As Shannon opens up in the face of Cole’s steady devotion, the passion between them ignites to blazing levels. But when Shannon’s past comes back to haunt her, her fears may destroy the trust Cole has built between them—and tear them apart for good.…

In her latest On Dublin Street novel, Samantha Young gives us the story of Cole Walker. We first fell in love with young Cole in Down London Road when his big sister, Jo, met their neighbor Cam MacCabe. Cole’s mother was an alcoholic who was physically and verbally abusive to young Cole and it was only the love and care of his big sister, Jo, and the guidance received from Cam, his first male role model, that turned Cole into the kind, caring and loving man we first see grown up in Fall from India Place. Cole and Hannah have grown to become best friends, and we know that the care and concern he shows for Hannah will be echoed in the love he will find in his own story.

[He's turned into a hot Cole!]

Sep 25 2014 9:30am

10 Urban Fantasy Series You Should Read (An Opinionated Opinion)

Have you fallen for an urban fantasy series and want more? We’re here to help.

These ten book series epitomize things we love about urban fantasy. They may have influenced the subgenre or they’re the ones every urban fantasy fan has read. These are the books that showcase what we love—and expect—from urban fantasies.

1. Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series by Laurell K. Hamilton

We have to start here. Laurell K. Hamilton was a huge game changer for urban fantasy. She brought us a police procedural—something that is a trope in its own right—with paranormal and fronted the novel with a strong, determined heroine in Anita Blake. The series is on-going, and there’s fervent fan debate regarding the latter books (mostly after Obsidian Butterfly, the ninth novel), but there is no question that these books, starting with Guilty Pleasures, are an urban fantasy must.

2. The Hollows series by Kim Harrison

For the primo example of open world urban fantasy, look no further than Kim Harrison’s The Hollows series. Witches, vampires, demons and faeries are all out in the open, and how does that change society? Engaging characters and stellar world building will hook you into this one.

[We're happy to be on the hook...]

Sep 25 2014 8:16am

Throwback Thursday: Who Was Your First Auto-Buy Author?

Frozen by Meljean BrookAn auto-buy author is one whose books you purchase (or pre-order) as soon as you find out about them, without considering whether or not you'll like it—she's one of your favorite authors, so of course you'll like it!

Which author was the first author on your auto-buy list?

Sep 24 2014 4:30pm

First Look: Desiree Holt’s Finding Julia (September 29, 2014)

Desiree Holt
Finding Julia
Lyrical Press / September 29, 2014 / $3.99 digital

Can a moment of passion outlast years of secrets and misery?

For Julia Patterson, meeting Luke Buchanan awakens within her a passion she’s never dared dream possible. He claims her body and and helps her remember what it means to be a woman. But Fate has a twisted sense of humor. Just when Julia is ready to step over the threshold into a wonderful new life, her almost-ex-husband is diagnosed with a heart condition that puts her divorce on hold. Turning her back on Luke is the most difficult thing she’s ever done. But Julia has a secret, one that Charles discovers and uses against her.

Years later, when Luke walks back into Julia’s life, the passion between them is just as explosive. But Charles is still controlling her from the grave, and the secret Julia has hidden for fourteen years could destroy their dreams forever.

When Julia Patterson met Luke Buchanan in Desiree Holt's Finding Julia, she was on a business trip to pitch a product line for his business. During her presentation, they locked eyes and their attraction was instantaneous. In fact, their chemistry was so strong they moved from the board room to the bedroom and knew this was going to be more than just one night, distance be damned. 

[Not just one night? Refreshing!]

Sep 24 2014 2:00pm

Love and Laughter, Coming this Fall: The Romantic Possibilities of TV’s Upcoming Sitcoms

Black-ishFrom Sam and Diane on Cheers to Ross and Rachel on Friends to last season’s most absorbing comedy couple, Danny and Mindy, sitcoms can surprise and delight with their romantic escapades. Sure, we usually tune in for the candy floss lightness of the rapid fire one liners and the easy superficial silliness (not to mention the bite-sized running times), but very often we are given more – for examples, see Big Love on the Small Screen: Top 10 Current Sitcom Romances.

This Fall TV season brings us a whole bunch of new sitcoms trying to earn our interest and/or obsession, from all the major networks. But will they deliver the ship-worthiness? Let us see…


Series Premiere: Wednesday, Sep 24 at 9:30/8:30c
Starring: Anthony Anderson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laurence Fishburne
From the official website:

Andre 'Dre' Johnson has a great job, a beautiful wife, Rainbow, four kids, and a colonial home in the 'burbs. But has success brought too much assimilation for this black family?”

Thoughts: Anthony Anderson’s can be a frenetic, fractious presence and this exploration of race relations in the suburbs feels like it might be full of uncomfortable stereotype, like Stuff White People Like but without the irony.

[So can we like it, un-ironically?]

Sep 24 2014 11:00am

First Look: Nalini Singh’s Rock Courtship (September 30, 2014)

Rock Courtship by Nalini SinghNalini Singh
Rock Courtship
TKA Distribution / September 30, 2014 / $2.99

A drummer for the hottest rock band on the planet, David has a single, powerful weakness: Thea, the band’s publicist and the woman who steals his breath away with her every move. 

Only problem is, Thea doesn’t date clients—or musicians. Emotionally scarred by a cheating ex, she’s not about to risk her heart with a man who has groupies buzzing around him like flies. Even if his sexy smile ties her up in knots. 

What she doesn’t know is that David is a one-woman man...and he’s madly in love with her. David’s determined to prove he’s worth the risk, and willing to court her, step by exquisite step. Thea’s about to discover just how long and hard this handsome drummer can play.

Is chivalry dead? Not necessarily is the answer in Nalini Singh’s novella, Rock Courtship. Featuring David Riviera, “The Gentleman of Rock,” and Thea, Molly’s sister and Schoolboy Choir’s PR maven, Singh combines her newfound rockstar contemporary success with elements of the relationship building that permates her Psy-Changeling and Guild Hunter novels. I am going to flat out say that Rock Courtship had me swooning at every page. Why? The answer is David.

[Oh, tell us more!]

Sep 24 2014 9:30am

Hitting the Books: Not-Your-Usual Historicals for September 2014

September means back to school time, and what better way to celebrate than with a bit of history that takes you off the beaten Almack’s path. The variety of settings is a welcome sight this month with a list that includes new voices and established veterans.


Night of the Thousand Stars by Deanna Raybourn

On the verge of a stilted life as an aristocrat's wife, Poppy Hammond does the only sensible thing—she flees the chapel in her wedding gown. Assisted by the handsome curate who calls himself Sebastian Cantrip, she spirits away to her estranged father's quiet country village, pursued by the family she left in uproar. But when the dust of her broken engagement settles and Sebastian disappears under mysterious circumstances, Poppy discovers there is more to her hero than it seems.

With only her feisty lady's maid for company, Poppy secures employment and travels incognita—east across the seas, chasing a hunch and the whisper of clues. Danger abounds beneath the canopies of the silken city, and Poppy finds herself in the perilous sights of those who will stop at nothing to recover a fabled ancient treasure. Torn between allegiance to her kindly employer and a dashing, shadowy figure, Poppy will risk it all as she attempts to unravel a much larger plan—one that stretches to the very heart of the British government, and one that could endanger everything, and everyone, that she holds dear.

According to early review coverage, Raybourn brings in past characters to neatly tie this story to previous releases.

[Like sitting down with old friends...]

Sep 24 2014 8:03am

The Freedom to Read: Celebrating Banned Books Week

Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. JamesWe're midway through Banned Books Week, “an annual event celebrating the freedom to read...Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community—librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types—in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.”

The 10 most challenged titles of 2013 were:

Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group, violence

The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group

Fifty Shades of Grey, by E.L. James
Reasons: Nudity, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group

The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
Reasons: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group

A Bad Boy Can Be Good for A Girl, by Tanya Lee Stone
Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit

Looking for Alaska, by John Green
Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group

The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group

Bless Me Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
Reasons: Occult/Satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit

Bone (series), by Jeff Smith
Reasons: Political viewpoint, racism, violence

How are you celebrating this week? 

Sep 23 2014 4:30pm

I Want To Sex You Up: Erotic Recommendations For September 2014

In need of some sexy reading material to fill your e-reader? I’m here for you. Each month I will bring you an assortment of erotic pleasure reads to tempt your palate—and your credit card....

As lovers embark upon new and exciting paths towards sexual and emotional fulfillment, issues of control and submission lend new meaning to the term “letting go.”

Bombshell by Jody Gehrman

Copywriter Ruby Sugars is in a rut. Her life consists of the following: long hours, boring neutral colors and regular fat-shaming from her stick insect-looking boss. But Ruby isn't really a Bland Betty—she's a complete Bettie Page hottie, with an enviable collection of vintage couture and very naughty vixen lingerie. Now if only she could channel that girl into her real life….

Cue Ruby's best friend, whose recent fixation is “fantasy matchmaking.” She's decided that all Ruby needs is one night with a sexy, delectable man—one with a serious thing for curvy pinup girls. And “Lancer” is hot enough to make any girl's fantasy come true.

For one night, it's pure, X-rated hotness. But come the next morning, this brand-spankin'-new bombshell will get the shock of her life when the man she vowed to see only once shows up again…as her new boss.

A one night stand turns into something more when a single night of exquisite no holds barred  passion spills over into the light of day.

[Do we need to call a special meeting about that?]

Sep 23 2014 3:00pm

First Look: Jaci Burton’s Hope Burns (September 30, 2014)

Hope Burns by Jaci BurtonJaci Burton
Hope Burns
Jove / September 30, 2014 / $7.99 print / digital

Molly Burnett dreads returning to her hometown of Hope for her sister’s wedding, especially knowing she’ll have to endure a weekend with the one man she never wants to see again. It’s only a couple of days, so Molly will try to forget her painful past with high school sweetheart Carter Richards. Because despite the bitter memories, she still can’t forget what they once meant to each other.

But when Molly is forced to extend her stay, Carter sees this as his second chance to do things right, to start over again with the only woman he’s ever loved. This time, he isn’t going to let Molly run. Together they’re going to confront the past and put it behind them, and hope for a future as bright as the flame that still burns hot between them.

Family comes first in Jaci Burton’s novels, and Hope Burns, the third book in this series, is no exception. I was eagerly anticipating the unraveling of the mystery of Molly and Carter. The small town is brimming with happiness over the marriage of Emma and Luke, the H/H of the first book, and that event has forced the prodigal daughter, Molly, to return.

[Who is she burning to see again?]

Sep 23 2014 1:30pm

Cover Tuesday: Exclusive Reveals from Valerie Bowman, Jennifer Chance, Elisabeth Barrett, and Candis Terry

Today we're thrilled to reveal the covers from some great authors! Are you looking to celebrate Christmas with a cowboy or maybe split a bottle of wine on New Year's with a winemaker? Or maybe you're looking for a bluestocking or a con artist to round out your posse, either way these books will fit the bill!

Read on for a special first look at the covers for Sweet Cowboy Christmas by Candis Terry, The Unlikely Lady by Valerie Bowman, Risk It by Jennifer Chance, and New Year's in Napa by Elisabeth Barrett. Enjoy!

[Learn more about the books and see the sexy covers...]

Sep 23 2014 12:00pm

Read & Win: Nina Croft’s Break Out!

Nina Croft

Break Out by Nina CroftGet a sneak peek of Nina Croft’s Break Out (available September 30, 2014), with an excerpt of Chapter 1!

Click here to enter for a chance to win the sweepstakes.*

The year is 3048, Earth is no longer habitable, and man has fled to the stars where they’ve discovered the secret of immortality—Meridian. Unfortunately, the radioactive mineral is exorbitantly expensive and only available to a select few. A new class comprised of the super rich and immortal soon evolves. The Collective, as they’re called, rule the universe.

Two-thousand-year-old Ricardo Sanchez, vampire and rogue pilot of the space cruiser, El Cazador, can’t resist two things: gorgeous women and impossible jobs. When beautiful Skylar Rossaria approaches him to break a prisoner out of the Collective’s maximum security prison on Trakis One, Rico jumps at the chance. Being hunted by the Collective has never been so dangerous–or so fun!

*NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. A PURCHASE DOES NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING. You must be 18 or older and a legal resident of the 50 United States or D.C., or non-Quebec Terriroties of Canada to enter. Promotion begins September 23, 2014 at 12 pm ET, and ends September 30, 2014, 11:59 am ET. Void in Puerto Rico and wherever prohibited by law. Click here for details and official rules.

[Continue on to get a taste of Break Out...]

Sep 23 2014 10:45am

First Look: Carolyn Jewel’s A Notorious Ruin (September 23, 2014)

A Notorious Ruin by Carolyn JewelCarolyn Jewel
A Notorious Ruin (Sinclair Sisters #2)
cJewel Books / September 23, 2014 / $5.99 digital

All the widowed Lucy Sinclair Wilcott wants is to save enough money to move to a cottage of her own and keep her younger sister safe from the consequences of their father’s poor judgment. No one is more aware than she how thoroughly her first marriage ruined her. She could not remarry if she wanted to. Then the Marquess of Thrale comes to visit and long-absent feelings of desire surge back.

Everything Lord Thrale believes about the beautiful Mrs. Wilcott is wrong. The very last woman he thought he was interested in proves to be a brilliant, amusing, arousing woman of deep honor who is everything he wants in a lover, for the rest of his life. If only he can convince her of that.

In A Notorious Ruin, the long-awaited second book in Carolyn Jewel's Sinclair Sisters series, the widowed Lucy Wilcott becomes better acquainted with Lord Thrale, whom she met the previous season,   during a house party at her father's home . Thrale, and indeed everyone, believes Lucy to be a frivolous featherbrain and is stunned—and then intrigued—to find that may not be the case.

[Hiding in plain sight?]

Sep 23 2014 9:30am

The "And you? Will he forgive you?” Scene in Bec McMaster’s Forged by Desire

Forged by Desire by Bec McMaster**Note: This post contains minor spoilers for the book Forged by Desire by Bec McMaster. Read with caution! **

Bec McMaster knows how to write angst. When your world is built fundamentally on everyone dying because of a blood sickness (the craving virus), it’s hard not to get buried in angst—in the best way possible! However, in McMaster’s latest book in her London Steampunk series, Forged by Desire, the angst doesn’t come from the hero (who is faced with death by the craving virus when his levels spike), but from our heroine, Perry.

It is revealed through the course of the book that Perry is not who we have been lead to believe. In fact, she’s quite the opposite. Perry feels like she’s been backed into a corner by the events in the book (which I’ll endeavor not to divulge), however, she’s in a rare position of power when she elects to go back to her old life to save the people of the Night Watch, and her lover/commander Garret.

Up to this point, Garret and Perry have fought every battle, survived Perry going missing, accepted the knowledge that Garret’s craving virus levels have sky-rocketed and have vowed to stay together and find a way to make it work. However, once Perry is backed into a corner, she thinks the only way solve everything is to sacrifice herself to a madman.

[Sacrifices for love...]