H&H Quickies #5: Desiree Holt Presents... H&H Quickies #5: Desiree Holt Presents... Desiree Holt Read an original Quickie scene from Desiree Holt! <i>Seventh Grave and No Body</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Seventh Grave and No Body: Exclusive Excerpt Darynda Jones "Reyes kissed my neck while she was talking...I kind of tuned her out." Watch & Win: Nicholas Sparks's <i>The Best of Me</i>! Watch & Win: Nicholas Sparks's The Best of Me! Team H & H Enter for a chance to win a copy of The Best of Me! <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.
From The Blog
October 1, 2014
Fish Out of (Historical and Fantasy) Water
Maggie Boyd
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
Mon
Sep 29 2014 12:00pm
Excerpt

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.”

[Log in or register to read the full excerpt of The Billionaire Cowboy...]

Mon
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...]

Mon
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?

Sun
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...]

Sun
Sep 28 2014 10:00am
Excerpt

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...]

Sat
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!]

Sat
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

Fri
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...]

Fri
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?]

Fri
Sep 26 2014 12:00pm
Excerpt

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.

Win?

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...]

Fri
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?]

Fri
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...]

Fri
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?

Thu
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!]

Thu
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.

Thu
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...]

Thu
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!]

Thu
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...]

Thu
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?

Wed
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!]