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From The Blog
November 25, 2014
The Busybodies of Romance
Marina Adair
November 25, 2014
Gifts for Your Singular Reading Tastes
Team H & H
November 23, 2014
Mockingjay: Part 1 Belongs to Team Gale
Maggie Boyd
November 21, 2014
Friday Beefcake: NaNoWriMo Reward
Team H & H
November 21, 2014
Best Reads of November 2014
Team H & H
Showing posts by: Anna Bowling click to see Anna Bowling's profile
Tue
Nov 25 2014 5:30pm

Sleepy Hollow 2x10 Ichabbie Heart-to-Heart: Knowledge Is Power

Ichabod Crane and Abbie Miss in Sleepy Hollow Season 2 episode 10Show/Episode: Sleepy Hollow Season 2, Episode 10, “Magnum Opus”
Ships: Ichabod/Abbie (Ichabbie), Crane/Katrina/Abraham, Katrina/Abraham (Katless)

**Reader Beware: This post contains spoilers of all aired episodes of Sleepy Hollow, including last night's 2x10, “Magnum Opus.”**

Ichabbie Captain's Log for Sleepy Hollow 2x10We start off with some good old Ichabbie banter as a game of liar’s poker played on their phones should jumpstart Abbie and Crane’s problem solving abilities, but then (of course) Katrina summons Crane via magic mirror. If their demon spawn, Henry, finds out mommy is talking to daddy, there will be hell to pay, but Katrina had to take the chance. In two days, Moloch could take over the world. She’s a powerful witch again, how, exactly? Eh, no matter. Crane knows of a weapon that could solve everything, the sword of Methuselah, but he’ll need Katrina’s insights…except that she has to go. Big help there, Katrina. Never fear, Abbie will help Crane crack the code in Grace’s journal, and witty banter ensues. These true partners smolder in wordplay and work together like a well oiled machine.

[We ship it like FedEx...]

Thu
Nov 20 2014 9:30am

First Look: Eileen Dreyer’s Twice Tempted (November 25, 2014)

Twice Tempted by Eileen DreyerEileen Dreyer
Twice Tempted (Drake's Rakes)
Forever / November 25, 2014 / $8.00 print, $7.99 digital

It feels like a lifetime ago that Alex Knight saved Fiona from certain doom . . . and stole a soul-shattering kiss for good measure. Wanting nothing more than to keep her safe, he left her in the care of her grandfather, the Marquess of Dourne.

But Fiona was hardly safe. As soon as he could, the marquess cast her and her sister out on the streets with only her wits to keep them alive.

Alex has never forgotten that long-ago kiss. Now the dashing spy is desperate to make up for failing his duty once before. This time he will protect Fiona once and for all, from a deadly foe bent on taking revenge on the Ferguson line-and anyone who stands in the way . . .

One of the keys to a successful historical romance series is the sense of family, be that family formed by blood or by choice. Eileen Dreyer's Twice Tempted, the latest installment in the Drake’s Rakes series, brings the love on multiple levels, surrounding Alex and Fiona’s love story with friends, family and a cunning mystery that will keep readers captivated.

[Tempt me once twice!]

Mon
Nov 17 2014 4:30pm

The Walking Dead 5x06 Carol/Daryl (Caryl) Heart-to-Heart: Consumed by Chemistry

Carol and Daryl in The Walking Dead Season 7x06Show/Episode: The Walking Dead, Season 5, Episode 6, “Consumed.”
Ships: Carol/Daryl (Caryl)

**Note: This post contains spoilers on all aired episodes of The Walking Dead. Read on only if you're caught up!**

Okay, Walking Dead, how do you do it? This episode has no kissing, no romantic or sexual touching, and yet…and yet… this ship is in full sail. I know, I know,  no kissy stuff, but the thing is, it didn’t need it. The sheer chemistry we saw in “Consumed” says it all without showing it all, and that, my friends, is the sign of a ship that is unstoppable. Well, okay, nothing is ever guaranteed in the world of The Walking Dead, but let’s take a look at what went down.

When we last saw Carol, she was being wheeled through the halls of Beth’s creeptastic hospital on a stretcher, and this episode tells us how she got there.  Hang on, because it’s a bumpy ride.  We see Carol’s journey in bits and pieces, both solo and with Daryl, and that’s where the chemistry leaps off the screen, into our living rooms and sticks us right in the heart like a crossbow in a walker’s skull.

[Ah, l'amore!...]

Fri
Nov 7 2014 12:15pm

The Big Bang Theory 8x08 Heart-to-Heart: Sheldon Loves Amy

Show/Episode: The Big Bang Theory Season 8, Episode 8, “The Prom Equivalency”
Ship(s): Sheldon/Amy

When Penny’s closet cleanout unearths her prom dress, Bernadette and Amy are keen to have a prom do-over so that they can share a magical night with their own true loves. Penny’s not so sure, but Leonard’s on board, so she can’t back out. While it’s a safe bet that the betrothed Leonard and Penny will have a magical evening—and indeed they do—and married Howard and Bernadette know who they’re going home with at prom’s end, the real stars of the night are Sheldon and Amy.

It’s an evening to remember for sure, though not how they expect at first. Sheldon balks at the sight of Amy in her prom finery and can’t go through with the date. Cue Amy’s disappointment, but our gal will rally, never fear. Sheldon runs to his room and seeks solace on the internet, learning he’s having a panic attack. Classic Sheldon, though savvy viewers will suspect there’s more to this story, and there is. Ever the caring girlfriend, Amy checks up on him, which is when things really get interesting.

[They certainly do!]

Fri
Oct 10 2014 11:15am

The Walking Dead Season 5 Shipping Appreciation

Glenn and Maggie in The Walking DeadIn trailers for The Walking Dead’s fifth season, Rick urges his group to never let their guard down, but whose guarded heart is, or could be, ripe for the taking? Let’s take a look at the likely suspects and do some speculating.

Maggie and Glenn: These twentysomethings may be young to be the established couple of the group, but age is nothing but a number when the dead walk the earth. Maggie and Glenn’s devotion to one another has only grown from their first emotionally charged meeting, the intimacy of Maggie’s presence when Glenn prayed for the very first time, and the sweet heat of their first encounter in an empty drugstore. They’ve weathered the loss of Maggie’s dad, Herschel, survived the Governor’s interrogation, and fought their way through a tunnel full of walkers to find each other again, so what challenges await the newlyweds now that they’re together in Terminus? Fans of the graphic novel know that prospective parenthood, both adoptive and biological, becomes a hot topic for these two, and that could be interesting to see carry over onto the screen.

[We'd like to see that play out...]

Mon
Sep 29 2014 9:20am

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 22 2014 10:35am

Outlander Season 1, Episode 7 Recap: Was it Good for You?

Claire 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 7, “The Wedding.” Enjoy!

Claire’s second marriage begins with memories of her first. A younger Claire, hand in hand with Frank, stops outside a registry office, where Frank surprises Claire with a proposal. Claire answers with a kiss, which fades into her kissing Jamie at their wedding.

Soon enough, it’s the wedding night, and the newlyweds are charmingly awkward. A few drinks calm bridal nerves for both, and Jamie assures Claire he’s not going to force himself on her. Claire never thought he would, but she does have some questions, which strikes Jamie as fair. Why did Jamie agree to marry her?

Jamie allows that he married Claire to keep her safe. To protect Claire, the letter of the law must be fulfilled. The marriage would need to be consummated right away, with witnesses swearing they were in the building, if not the room. Jamie gives Claire his name, his clan and his family. If necessary, the protection of his body as well. Pause now for the entire female viewership to swoon, but Jamie is only getting started.

Claire joins him on the bed, hands entwinde, there’s leaning in for a kiss. Claire stalls. She wants to know about Jamie’s family. Jamie asks Claire how many generations back she wants him to go, and, well, ask a Scotsman a story, and the answer will not be brief. Hours pass as the newlyweds swap family stories, until would-be witnesses burst in to see how things are going. Jamie ushers their guests out, and Claire suggests she and Jamie go to bed. 

[Can we join, too?]

Fri
Sep 19 2014 2:15pm

Ahoy, Maties: Top 10 Pirate Romances from Hoyt, Lindsey, London and More!

Pirate in Her Arms by Danelle HarmonTalk Like A Pirate Day is today, and what better way to observe the holiday than talking pirate romance? From Cape Cod to the Barbary Coast, Elizabethan times to Victorian era Brazil, these seafaring romances are ready to board your keeper shelves.

Pirate in my Arms by Danelle Harmon

Let’s start out this list with a story based on the real deal. Danelle Harmon spent three years working with the crew that recovered the sunken ship, Whydah, belonging to actual pirate Black Sam Bellamy, and it shows in her attention to detail. Prepare to be swept back in time with this unforgettable tale of an adventurous English rogue who finds his greatest treasure in gentle Maria Hallet of Cape Cod, and a love that will not be denied.

by Marsha Canham

Marsha Canham could probably fill this list all by herself, but if pressed to pick only one of her nearly flawless pirate romances, the first in the Elizabethan-set Pirate Wolf series would have to be the one. Isabeau (Beau) Spence, herself the daughter of a notorious sea dog, is definitely daddy’s girl. A skilled navigator who demands respect, she rescues Simon Dante from a doomed ship, and the battle of wits between them begins. Rapier-sharp wits, passionate hearts and thrilling adventure make their happily-ever after one for the history books.

[And our TBR piles...]

Mon
Sep 15 2014 10:04am

Outlander Season 1, Episode 6: Black Jack’s Black Soul

Claire and Jamie in OutlanderClaire 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 6, “The Garrison Commander.” Enjoy!

When last we left Claire, she had a big question to answer; was she with the MacKenzies of her own free will? This week, she tells Lieutenant Foster she is a guest of the Clan MacKenzie. All well and good, but Brigadier General Lord Thomas wants to speak with her anyway. If Claire goes, Dougal goes, so it’s off to see the wizard…er, general.

Even though the Redcoats are the enemies of the Highlanders, they’re still the British army Claire served with, and it’s good to be looked on with sympathy rather than suspicion. For Dougal, it’s the other way around. They may still be on MacKenzie land, but with the occupying Redcoats, he’s in enemy territory, and he is the outlander here.

[Uh oh...]

Mon
Sep 8 2014 9:30am

Outlander Season 1, Episode 5: You MUST Pay the Rent!

Dougal and Claire in Outlander 1x05Claire 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 5, “Rent.” Enjoy!

Claire looks out across the wide water and quotes from John Donne’s “Present in Absence.” Surprise, surprise, Ned Gowan, the lawyer who’ll be helping them collect the rents, knows it, too.

Ned details what exactly counts as rent; livestock of various sorts, even a handkerchief last year, but no more live pigs. Ned’s cough troubles Claire, who suspects asthma and stuffs his pipe with thorn apple.

Dougal hurries them on their way.

[On your way...]

Thu
Sep 4 2014 1:00pm

Book Boyfriend: John Wesley Hawkins from Susan Wiggs’s The Maiden of Ireland

The Maiden of Ireland by Susan Wiggs

The executioner wondered why so many women had come to watch the priest die.

With those words, Susan Wiggs sweeps us back to 1658, and the infamous gallows at Tyburn and into the life of John Wesley Hawkins, failed priest, reluctant Roundhead supporter and devoted father to a young daughter whom Oliver Cromwell holds prisoner. In short, a book boyfriend if ever there was one, a man of faith and reason, with a strong moral compass, a belief in love, and a willingness to do whatever it takes to protect those he considers his own.

She had cast a spell for her lover and had conjured a renegade Englishman. Caitlin McBride, de facto (and later official) leader of her sept, proud Irishwoman and protector of all that is hers, cannot deny that her clever brain and iron will exist alongside a heart that yearns for love. With a touch of Irish magic, Caitlin plucks a rose and makes a wish, pining for the dashing Spaniard who claimed her heart for years ago. It’s not her beloved Alonso who appears, but the infuriating, enigmatic Wesley.

[You get what you need...]

Sun
Aug 31 2014 4:00pm

Outlander Season 1, Episode 4 Recap: Party Like It’s 1743

Jamie and Claire in Outlander Season 1 episode 4Claire 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 4, “The Gathering.” Enjoy!

Claire races through the forest on a misty morning. Sharpshooters on lookout towers take aim. Nope, no escape this time. Claire is running from a fierce horde of children. She takes a tumble and looks up into a kilt, worn the traditional way. Not Jamie, though. Boo. Her guards don’t want to miss the festivities of the gathering, so Claire and the kids will have to explore some other time. The hunting game was more than a pleasant diversion. It let Claire scope out two possible escape routes. Clever girl.

[Can you really escape destiny?...]

Mon
Aug 25 2014 10:46am

Outlander Season 1, Episode 3 Recap: Years Apart and Minutes Away

Jamie and Claire in Outlander Season 1 episode 3Claire 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 3, “The Way Out.” Enjoy!

Claire and Frank traverse a crowded train station, both in uniform. Frank insists what they’re doing is backwards, and it should be her seeing him off to the front lines. “Welcome to the twentieth century,” she answers without missing a beat. Frank elicits Claire’s promise to return to him, and next thing Claire knows, she’s dashed over the head with a bucket of cold water, as Mrs. Fitz helps her bathe.

[Even Claire's doing the #ALSIceBucketChallenge!...]

Mon
Aug 18 2014 9:30am

Outlander Season 1, Episode 2 Recap: Detained!

Is this real life?! More than two years after it was announced that Outlander just might be headed for the small screen, the day we've been waiting no-so-patiently for is finally (finally!) here. Though Starz has hosted screenings and even released the pilot episode on demand last week, tonight is the officially official series premiere of Outlander, and to celebrate, we present Anna Bowling's recap in the hopes that this week—and every week the show airs—you will read and enjoy and join us to discuss every tiny delicious detail of Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser's epic journey (and, okay, yes, we'll especially be obsessing over every single scene featuring her beloved Scot, one James “Jamie” Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser). And now, let's get this show on the road...

This post contains SPOILERS for all aired episodes of Outlander, including last night's Season 1, episode 2, “Castle Leoch.” Enjoy!

Now that Claire knows she’s not in the twentieth century anymore, what is she going to do about that? The journey she, Jamie and the others have taken ends at Castle Leoch, familiar to them, and to Claire, but for different reasons. Claire is a stranger to all that’s familiar to her companions, and of course she sticks out like the proverbial sore thumb. She’s with Jamie, though, so it can’t be all bad, can it?

[Not even a little bad...]

Sat
Aug 9 2014 10:00am

Outlander Season 1, Episode 1 Recap: Back to the Future

Outlander Season 1 official posterIs this real life?! More than two years after it was announced that Outlander just might be headed for the small screen, the day we've been waiting no-so-patiently for is finally (finally!) here. Though Starz has hosted screenings and even released the pilot episode on demand last week, tonight is the officially official series premiere of Outlander, and to celebrate, we present Anna Bowling's recap in the hopes that this week—and every week the show airs—you will read and enjoy and join us to discuss every tiny delicious detail of Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser's epic journey (and, okay, yes, we'll especially be obsessing over every single scene featuring her beloved Scot, one James “Jamie” Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser). And now, let's get this show on the road...

This post contains SPOILERS for all aired episodes of Outlander, including the series premiere, “Sassenach.” Enjoy!

There’s a certain risk in bringing a beloved book to new life on the small screen, and in the case of Diana Gabaldon’s iconic Outlander, the risk in the romance community is astronomically high. How can any mere mortal actors and production team come close to what’s already come to vivid life in readers’ heads? If we’re talking the new series from Starz, pretty darned close. 

Right from the start, we get breathtaking scenery, bagpipes, Claire’s voiceover, and this viewer is quite happily lost. The same attention to detail as in the books is here, as we learn how important it is that Claire Randall never owned a vase, but can’t stop staring at one in a shop window, the image giving way to that of an earlier Claire assisting in surgery during wartime. Her job completed, she walks out of surgery in an apron stained with arterial spray, and into a jubilant celebration of V-E Day. Claire swigs from a bottle of wine, but merely watches the festivities rather than taking part. She’s a rare one, our Claire, and that’s going to be something to remember.

[And so begins one wild tale...]

Mon
Jul 21 2014 2:14pm

She’s So Unusual: Sandra Schwab’s Historical Romances

Castle of the Wolf by Sandra SchwabWhat comes to mind at the phrase, “Black Forest?” A dessert rich with dark chocolate, cherries and cream? Old World forests where maidens and orphans might as easily find danger as well as an unlikely love? Ornate castles filled with antique treasures? If you’ve read the novels of German romance author Sandra Schwab, you’re not far off.

Schwab combines her love of romance with a scholar’s attention to historical detail, and with good reason. Besides writing unforgettable historical romance novels, she also teaches English literature at the college level and studies folk and popular literature, the Victorian novel and British society and culture in her academic life. If you’re looking for historical romance rich in heart and smarts, look no further. You’ve found it.

“Nobody ever counts the gargoyles” may not be what springs to mind when thinking of a perfect first (or last) line of a historical romance novel, but in Schwab’s classic Castle of the Wolf, this chilling phrase leads the reader deep into Germany’s Black Forest and a story as rich and delicious as the cake that shares its name.

[Go on, take a big bite...]

Wed
Jul 9 2014 8:30am

Top 10 Scottish Historicals: A Verra Opinionated Opinion

Outlander by Diana GabaldonIs it really true that if you’ve read one Scottish romance, you’ve read them all? Not even close. Within this hugely popular subgenre, there is an amazing amount of variety. History can be a major player in the romance itself, or a backdrop to it, and time periods are wide open. What’s your pleasure, Highlanders, lowlanders, border lords (or ladies?) Medieval, Victorian, or somewhere in between? Soldiers, rebels, courtiers, highwaymen? All of the above and then some? Why not? When it comes to Scottish romance, there can’t be only one.

Try a few of these on for size:

1) Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Step into the standing stones along with Claire Randall and let this classic tale whisk you back through time from the twentieth century to the eighteenth, into the arms of Jamie Fraser, brawny Scotsman, ginger, virgin alpha male, and many readers’ choice for favorite romance hero of all time. There’s also the wee matter of the TV adaptation that’s only a month away, so why wait?

2&3)  The Pride of Lions and Blood of Roses by Marsha Canham
Set against the tumultuous Jacobite Rebellion, English Catherine finds herself married by haste to a man who is not what he seems. Though she’s determined at first to end their marriage and return to her comfortable life in England, Catherine, through her love of Alexander, his home and his people, chooses to stand by his side and fight for her adopted homeland. Readers will be eager to see Alexander and Catherine as supporting characters in the third book in the trilogy, Midnight Honor, featuring Colonel Anne Moy. Yes, you read it right. Colonel Anne.

[Well, hello Colonel Anne...]

Thu
Jun 5 2014 2:15pm

Brothers (and Sister) in Love: Courtney Milan’s Brothers Sinister Series

The Governess Affair by Courtney MilanShe’s a crafty one, that Courtney Milan, with her Brothers Sinister series. Gives readers a dose of history along with the tried and true format of a romance series centering around a group of siblings. Makes them think, she does, about facets other authors might not weight so heavily. Makes them care, too, slipping the parents of future heroes in under the guise of a prequel, The Governess Affair. Oh yes, she’ll give us a fine romance, and we’ll love her for it, but best be warned, she’ll pull back a veil or two, and certain aspects of the nineteenth century may never look the same.

In The Governess Affair, Milan begins as she means to go on, introducing us to Serena Barton, recently unemployed and unwilling to take that lying down. Which, as we soon learn, is part of why she is currently unemployed. Unemployment is never easy, but in an age where women’s rights were still in question, and sexual harassment was meant to be borne rather than fought, Serena’s insistence on reparations makes her a force to be reckoned with, and not by the man who did her wrong. That task falls instead to Hugo Marshall, who knows all too well the struggle to make a place for oneself in a world where privilege holds sway. Hugo may have a job to do, but he has a conscience as well, and it goes against his duty. Together, Hugo and Serena learn that true nobility comes from spirit rather than blood, and that love, as well as blood, can make a family strong.

[Blood is thicker than water, but it's not everything...]

Mon
May 19 2014 10:09am

Is She Flying Away?: Thoughts on Jane/Lisbon in The Mentalist 6x22

Simon Baker and Robin Tunney as Patrick Jane and Teresa Lisbon in The Mentalist Season 6, episode 22This post contains SPOILERS for all aired episodes of The Mentalist, including last night’s Season 6 finale, 6x22, “Blue Bird.” Enjoy!

Despite all signs, the brilliant Patrick Jane doesn’t believe Agent Lisbon will actually transfer to the DC office. Cho has bad news for Jane; Lisbon has already put in her paperwork, and will be leaving in ten days. Even though Cho breaks this news at a crime scene, Jane’s questions are all about Lisbon, and he insists it’s not a done deal.

Two days before Lisbon’s departure, she confronts Jane about his distant behavior. Is he angry at her? Jane responds that he feels slighted because he was the last to know Lisbon is leaving. Lisbon asserts he knows why she couldn't tell him. It's hard. They've worked together a long time. Jane asks her to stay, and not break up the team, but before she can respond, adds that he's kidding. She deserves this. She deserves Pike, who is a good man.

[Is that really why you want her to stay, Jane?...]

Fri
May 9 2014 11:00am

The Big Bang Theory 7x23: Will You _____ _____ ?

The movies mean romantic complications for Raj, Leonard and Penny, in two very different ways. Raj faces a bout of uncertainty when he spies Emily, his current crush, at the movies with another man, while Penny’s career takes yet another downward turn on the set of her killer gorilla movie.

Penny and co-star Wil Wheaton are giving this low-budget film their all as they enact a scene where Penny’s character, a bisexual go-go dancer, is turning into a gorilla. Wil Wheaton plays the scientist who loves her. An enraptured Leonard watches from the sidelines, but the director isn’t watching at all. He’s playing on his phone. The movie is garbage, he tells Penny when she wants to reshoot the scene, and nobody cares.

Leonard sticks up for Penny, Penny sticks up for Leonard, Wil Wheaton insists that if Penny goes, he goes, and the camera cuts to a shot of all three of them nursing beers in a dimly lit bar.

[It starts out on unsteady ground, but will it end with a bang?...]