<i>Flaming Hot</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Flaming Hot: Exclusive Excerpt Lynn LaFleur "He tilted his head the other direction and kissed her again..." <i>Slow Hand</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Slow Hand: Exclusive Excerpt Victoria Vane "Nikki closed her eyes and parted her lips on a sigh of surrender..." <i>Maybe This Christmas</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Maybe This Christmas: Exclusive Excerpt Sarah Morgan "She tried to walk past him but lost her balance and fell against his chest..." <i>Treasure on Lilac Lane</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Treasure on Lilac Lane: Exclusive Excerpt Donna Alward "It had been her first kiss, and she’d looked at him with stars in her eyes..."
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Showing posts by: Aspasia Bissas click to see Aspasia Bissas's profile
Fri
Jan 6 2012 2:00pm

Free Love: Free Romance Books for Your E-Readers!

E-readerYou survived the holidays, making it to the other side only slightly scathed and clutching a brand-new e-reader. Well done!

So…now what?

First congratulate yourself on having friends and family with fine taste in gifts. Second, register your device so your store of choice (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple, et al.) knows where to send the goodies you buy. Last, get to filling that e-reader with e-books. But where to start? You can browse the store’s categories searching randomly for interesting books. That can be fun…if you have a lot of time on your hands. You can also search for specific books and authors you’ve been meaning to read. Also fun, but it can get pricey.

Luckily, stores are awash with free e-books and short stories—and most of them are surprisingly decent. In fact, more than a few are really good. And if you happen to come across a crappy one, well, all you’ve wasted is a few minutes’s reading time (and the seconds it takes to delete). Pretty sweet.

[They do say free is four-letter word for fun...]

Fri
Nov 25 2011 12:00pm

Tasty Recommendations for the Foodie Reader

Better Than Chocolate by Susan Waggoner“All I really need is love, but a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” —Lucy Van Pelt, “Peanuts”

Books and food have always had an association. Good books can be described as juicy, meaty, a feast, and even delicious. So how much better are they when food is actually involved?

Getting ensconced in a warm kitchen, a cozy bakery, or a decadent chocolate shop somehow makes the story more real, more vivid, more welcoming. I can imagine myself there with a coffee and a pastry watching events unfold. And even when the book isn’t so great, there’s still something satisfying to savor. If you’re craving foodie fare, here are a few suggestions.

Better Than Chocolate by Susan Waggoner
Fat-free, calorie-free, carb-free chocolate that tastes, smells, and melts just as well as the real thing would be a dream come true for most people, but it’s like winning the lottery for Annie Wilkins. After her husband invents Better Than Chocolate (BTC), they get money, a mansion, and glamorous jobs promoting the product. Of course that’s when things start falling apart. Even though this is a fairly predictable morality tale, it’s so well-written you won’t notice (or at least you won’t mind). I don’t usually get anxious for things to work out for a character, but this one practically had me biting my nails. I’m not sure I’d eat BTC if it did exist (technically it’s not even food) but it’s fun to think of the possibility.

[Ah, the possibilities...]

Wed
Nov 2 2011 4:00pm

Chemistry 301: Top 10 Onscreen Breakups, with Buffy, Doctor Who, Sookie, and More!

Sarah Michelle Gellar in Buffy the Vampire SlayerThis is the third post on offbeat onscreen moments; previous posts have covered Chemistry 101: Top 10 Romantic Moments and Chemistry 201: Top Sexy Onscreen Moments, sharing favorite scenes from TV and movies. Some might say the next logical list would be about proposals.

But me, I’d rather go right to the breakups. Let’s face it—proposals are basically all the same. Sure, there are variations on the theme, but is one really any different than another (not to mention the inherent sap factor)?

Breakups, on the other hand, are emotional, painful, passionate—and they lend themselves to major creativity. Best of all breakups clear the way for new relationships and then (lucky us) the list-making can start all over again.

[Guard your heart...]

Thu
Oct 13 2011 3:00pm

Chemistry 201: Top 10 Sexy Onscreen Moments

Buffy and Angel in Buffy the Vampire SlayerA while back you might have seen my post “Chemistry 101: Top 10 Romantic Onscreen Moments” in which I wax rhapsodic on some of the best mushy moments in my favorite offbeat shows and movies.

It seemed only fitting that I up the ante and follow with a post on the Top 10 Sexy Moments. Whether you like it hot, sweet, silly, or all of the above, there’s a scene here for you. By the way, I think it goes without saying but just in case: quite a few of these video clips are not safe for work (not that any of you would be checking out H&H at work, of course!)

1. Buffy and Angel
Since Buffy and vampire Angel started off the last list, it seems only fitting that they also begin this Top 10, especially since this particular scene is one of the sexiest of any show—and they don’t even take their clothes off. After being shot up with a mystical poison Angel’s on the path to permanently dead. But wait—it turns out the cure is Slayer blood. Buffy is all too willing to make rogue Slayer Faith the unwilling donor (you know Buffy means business when she dons the leather pants), but when that doesn’t work out, she antagonizes Angel until the vampire inside takes over and sinks its fangs into her instead. This one is definitely for the vampire fans. They fall together onto the floor where there are rippling muscles, arching backs, ecstatic grimaces and moans, hands grasping (and crushing) nearby objects, and “morning-after” regret when Angel finally comes back to his senses. This scene is worth watching at least a couple of times.

[They’re bringing sexy back...]

Sat
Aug 13 2011 8:45pm

Love at First Bite, or How to Have a Bloody Good Time in the Kitchen

Love at First Bite: The Complete Vampire Lover’s Cookbook by Michelle Roy Kelly and Andrea Norville

If the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, does the same hold true if the man happens to be a bloodsucking fiend? Maybe not if you’re trying to get to his heart with a stake. On the other hand, if your weapon of choice is a steak, you stand a far better chance by taking the gastric route. And if you’re going to do that you might as well come prepared.

Love at First Bite: The Complete Vampire Lover’s Cookbook by Michelle Roy Kelly and Andrea Norville is a fun, if somewhat scattered, tome. Besides recipes, it also offers vampire trivia and lore (“Tasty Tidbits”), suggestions for party themes, and a list of fangtastic (yes, I just said that) movies. The recipes themselves are a bit of a grab-bag ranging from thematically appropriate (Gran Stackhouse’s Pecan Pie) to wacky (Blacula’s Borscht) to just plain confusing (Corpulent Canape). While the vamps represented are pretty wide ranging, though leaning heavily toward Dracula, Twilight, and Anne Rice, the book’s claim of being the “complete” vampire lover’s cookbook is something of a misnomer. Really, if you’re going to include Bunnicula, Boris Karloff, and fruit bats (seriously?) there should at least be some acknowledgment of fanged hotties like Mick St. John (Moonlight), John Mitchell (Being Human UK), and The Vampire Diaries’s Salvatore brothers. Much as Count Duckula amused me as a kid he’s hardly a vampire icon (or the stuff of fantasies). The recipe associations are also frequently uninspired, an example being Spike’s Sweet Potato Fries. Shouldn’t Spicy Buffalo Wings or Blooming Onion have been the obvious choices seeing as how Blondie Bear himself specifically mentions them in Buffy as favored snacks? Swing and a miss.

[Bad puns aside, how’s the food?...]

Tue
Aug 9 2011 3:00pm

Not Another Gosh-Darn Melon-Farming Euphemism!: Sex Talk, Translated

Watermelon image by PinkMoose via FlickrGenerally speaking, writers are not a conservative bunch. They’ll try anything, say anything and write about it all in (occasionally excruciating) detail. So why the bizarre shyness that seems to overcome even the best romance authors? One minute it’s all probing tongues and throbbing groins and then suddenly his “member” is getting cozy inside her “center” and they’re “making love” until something or other spasms (often her womb, which, quite frankly, sounds unpleasant).

Okay, sometimes you need a euphemism or two just for the sake of variety. That’s when standards like nub, folds, shaft, bud(s), core, and length come into play. And using only anatomically correct terminology would definitely get too clinical, not to mention dull. But is there really any excuse—other than to make readers snicker and roll their eyes—for the egregious examples that follow?

[Click for a few more gems...]

Wed
Jun 8 2011 3:22pm

Chemistry 101: Top 10 Romantic Onscreen Moments

Westley and Buttercup in The Princess BrideI hate to admit it, but underneath this cynical, no-nonsense shell lies a sappy marshmallow core. This confession is going to put a serious dent in my street cred. Okay, maybe not. But just as I’m reluctant to let on that it bothers me to break a nail, I’d also rather not go public with the knowledge that I swoon a little when Westley comes back from the dead to rescue Buttercup from slimy Prince Humperdinck. I already have to contend with friends and loved ones thinking I’m overly emotional because of my Greek communication style (I’m not yelling—that’s just how we talk!)

Now that they know I get all mushy when things work out for Julia and Robbie in The Wedding Singer they’ll start asking me if I’m okay every time I witness an onscreen kiss. But for the sake of my fellow romantics I had to come out with it. How else could I share some of my favorite onscreen romantic moments? Just cut me some slack, okay? The sniffling really is because of allergies. Usually.

[Favorite couples, favorite moments...]

Sun
May 8 2011 11:00am

Not Your Normal Mother’s Day Reads

Latte and book by nerissa’s ring via FlickrAnyone who’s lost their mom has probably noticed that in the aftermath it suddenly seems as though moms are everywhere. We can’t turn on the TV, watch a movie, pick up a magazine, or read a book without being inundated by moms and daughters (or sons) bonding, bickering, pulling together, and generally being there for each other.

Meanwhile, here we are with nothing but memories and old photos. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels that Mother’s Day has officially become the worst day of the year. It might just be a greeting card holiday, but it’s almost impossible not to feel a stabbing in the heart every time you’re exhorted to show Mom you care, buy her flowers, take her out to brunch…hell, even contests and game shows around this time of year are geared to mother-child teams. You can’t even win a coffeemaker unless you’ve got your mom backing you up.

The problem with grief is that if you try to ignore it, it just bides its time before rising up again when you least expect it and biting you on the ass. Unpleasant as grief is, it’s better to just do whatever you have to in order to deal with it right away. I’m guessing it goes without saying that anyone reading this already understands the therapeutic value of books. For me, my therapy comes in the form of “guilty pleasure” novels: solid—if not too serious—writing and plots with satisfying endings (there’s a reason most don’t turn to the literary section of the bookstore when they’re depressed), heroines I can relate to, heroes I want to bring home, baddies who are easy to hate (or have potential for redemption), and preferably some sort of paranormal element to spark my imagination. And nothing anywhere about the special love shared between mothers and daughters.

[The right words...]

Tue
Apr 19 2011 6:00pm

Aurora vs. Sookie: Charlaine Harris’s Heroines

A Bone to Pick by Charlaine HarrisThey inhabit separate universes, live disparate lives, and are completely different people. Or are they?

As I was reading Charlaine Harris’s latest, A Bone to Pick (the second in the Aurora Teagarden Mystery series, and the first one I’ve read), I kept noticing similarities between librarian/amateur sleuth Aurora Teagarden and waitress/amateur sleuth Sookie Stackhouse (heroine of the paranormal Sookie Stackhouse novels). I couldn’t resist comparing the two, and it didn’t take long to see that they have more in common than their mystery-solving abilities. (Page references are from A Bone to Pick; Sookie info has been gleaned from the entire series of Sookie Stackhouse novels.)

[Methinks this calls for a chart!...]