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Showing posts by: Dolly Sickles click to see Dolly Sickles's profile
Feb 28 2012 4:30pm

When a Scot Loves a Lady by Katharine AsheKatharine Ashe
When a Scot Loves a Lady
Avon/Feb. 28, 2012/$7.99 pb; $4.99 digital

After years as an agent of the secret Falcon Club, Lord Leam Blackwood knows it’s time to return home to Scotland. One temptation threatens his plans—Kitty Savege, who warms his blood like a dram of fine whiskey. But a dangerous enemy stands in the way of desire, and to beat this foe Leam needs Kitty’s help . . .

Kitty never wanted to spend her holidays in a wretched country village! With snow up to the windows, escape is nowhere in sight. A roguish Scottish lord, however, is. His rough brogue sends heat from Kitty’s frigid toes to her chilled nose, but she’s confident she can withstand that. What she cannot control is the reaction of her guarded heart when she discovers this beast is no beast at all . . .

Katharine Ashe had me with the opening line of the story:

“A lady endowed with grace of person and elevation of mind ought not to stare.”

In high school I worked at a frozen yogurt shop, and this man used to come in every couple of weeks to get a cone. The first time he stepped up to the counter, my friend and I just stood there staring dumbly. I can remember it like it was yesterday; he blushed awkwardly, and looked away from us because our regard was so...invasive. But we were helpless. And surely such a good-looking guy was used to people reacting to him like that—right?

[Is it rude to stare if you’re just admiring the view?...]

Feb 7 2012 10:30am

Dangerous Games by Lora LeighMy best friend’s married to a military intelligence officer in the Army, and one thing the Major told me years ago when he was still ferrying war criminals to the Hague Tribunals as a pilot, was that anytime the Special Forces soldiers climbed aboard, everyone else puckered up.

That held true no matter where he was—those Special Forces men had an intensity and a presence that commanded respect. Now, that little truth flashes in my head with every news story that hits the wire and through every romance I read. And it makes my heart race. Talk about a temptation.

I love Lora Leigh’s Tempting SEALs series, which can roughly be broken down into a group of active duty SEALs, and a group of retired (but SO not tired) SEALs, fighting a badass formidable foe—an old-school drug cartel villain named Diego Fuentes. Let’s start with the active duty fellas.


Jan 31 2012 4:00pm

My Wicked Little Lies by Victoria AlexanderVictoria Alexander

My Wicked Little Lies

Zebra, $7.99/$4.96 digital, Jan. 31, 2012

Evelyn Hadley-Attwater has it all — a genteel Victorian life replete with loving husband, ball gowns and elegant parties. No one, including the man she married, suspects that she was once “Eve,” a spy for England’s most enigmatic intelligence agency. Summoned for one final assignment, the excitement of her former life and memories of her mysterious, flirtatious boss “Sir” prove too tempting... Adrian Hadley-Attwater is a respectable, dignified gentleman. But even the most proper gentlemen have secrets of their own. Secrets from the rest of the world, from their families, from their wives. Secrets that have a price. Now, as a veil of secrecy frays, a tantalizing game of cat and mouse will test the bounds of unfailing love...

As an old-fashioned letter writer, I appreciate a good epistolary relationship. One of my favorites, just for the sheer ingenuity and uniqueness of it, was Nick Bantock’s illustrated novel, Griffin and Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence. And though Victoria Alexander’s new English Victorian romance, My Wicked Little Lies, is different in its execution, I found myself drawn to the similarly cultivated relationship.

[How so?...]

Dec 26 2011 5:45pm

Sizzle by Julie GarwoodAs many a bibliophile can understand, it’s a big decision to begin incorporating digital books into your library. On the one hand, a book is a book, is a book. But on the other, it’s an acknowledgement that the literary industry is, indeed, evolving and in order to adapt, you’ve got to keep up.

(The first e-book I bought when I got a Kindle for Christmas 2009 was Julie Garwood’s Sizzle. We turned on the device, plugged it in, and BAM! there it was. Now I’m hooked.)

E-books come in every genre imaginable. You can download the first chapter for free to see if you want to try something new, which is nice. My husband is an expert first chapter dude; I think he spends his days stopping at the phrase “Chapter Two,” and wondering how stories end. But in the romance industry, there’s been a surge in erotic literature. It’s much easier to read the juicier stuff when you’re not having to hide the book covers from the prying eyes of your children and strangers on public transportation. And e-books are a wonderful way to discover new authors. I read so quickly that I can work my way through an entire backlist in a matter of weeks. And then where am I?

[Where do you go from here?...]

Dec 15 2011 10:30am

Homemade doughnuts image by D’Arcy Norman via FlickrDieting is never easy. It has the tendency to make you a little bitchy, gives you a wicked headache, and leaves you hungry and willing to cruise through the Dairy Queen just to smell the waffle cones baking because who knows—maybe you could get some contact calories to help you make it through the day.

With Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series, the concept of dieting can also leave you delirious with visions of sugar Plums dancing in your head. Are you a donut diva, like Stephanie? Maybe you’re a trendy dieter like Lula, or even better, a health nut like Ranger? Or (gasp!), maybe you’re a nibbler like Rex. Thanks to the power of fat-free literature, you can live vicariously through your favorite perennial characters.

Stephanie Plum is famous for her donut binges, bucket-filled runs to the Cluck-In-A-Bucket, Tastykake fixation, Pop Tart addiction, and frozen waffle affinity. But since I’ve got the whole Plum library and we don’t have time to write out daily menus of Plum-awesomeness, I grabbed three off the shelf to find some (anti-)diet tips and menu items.

[Nothing beats eating vicariously through Stephanie Plum...]

Dec 1 2011 4:00pm

Any self-respecting romance reader will tell you that power is sexy.

The TrumpsHarlequin has a whole executive line of stories about the powerful, wealthy, influential chief executive officer and his mistress/secretary/secret baby. They’re tried and true motif’s that are always scandalous and shocking, and fun to read. And then there’s the mainstream media:

<< Need I say more?

But I want to talk about another kind of power today, on this 30th anniversary of World AIDS Day: knowledge is power. And that power is sexy, too.

[Powering through!...]

Nov 22 2011 10:40am

To Wed a Wild Lord by Sabrina JeffreisSabrina Jeffries
To Wed A Wild Lord
Pocket, $7.99, Nov. 22, 2011

Drowning in guilt over his best friend’s death seven years ago, Lord Gabriel Sharpe, the Angel of Death, knows his only hope at redemption is a race against a shocking opponent.

Shrouded in darkness for the past seven years, the infamous racer Lord Gabriel Sharpe is known to accept every challenge to race thrown at him. When his next challenge comes in the form of his late best friend’s sister, Virginia Waverly, Gabe is shocked. Yet she presents just the opportunity Gabe needs—marriage to fulfill his grandmother’s ultimatum and ensure his inheritance. What he didn’t count on was needing her love.

[Ultimatum-fulfilling and inheritance-getting!...]

Nov 5 2011 3:00pm

A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude DeverauxThe very first romance I ever read was Jude Deveraux’s A Knight in Shining Armor. It was the summer between my freshman and sophomore years in college (1992), and I was staying with a friend for a few days of R&R. My mother had read romances all my life, old-school styling with Fabio on the front and sweeping vistas of pirate ships and dangerous seas. I was more discerning than that. But Jude Deveraux grabbed me by the gut and held on until I got to the very end and...hated it.

Oh, my God, I have never felt such despair at the end of a book than when Nicholas had to remain in 1500s England and Douglass had to return to the present. It’s one of the few books I have ever actually cried while reading, and wound up in such a maudlin, depressing mood for days afterward. Just writing it now makes my throat close up. Because until the crappy ending, I loved it.

Talk about an indelible impression: I haven’t willingly picked up a book that I knew beforehand was about time travel in 19 years. But there are always those rope-a-dope titles that are popular and “you-have-to-read.” Two more come to mind: Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander, and The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. And you can forget me including passages from any of these books; I’m in a good mood today and intend to stay that way.

[Beware of getting sucked in...]

Nov 1 2011 11:30am

Men Out of Uniform by Maya Banks, Karin Tabke, and Sylvia DayI just read a new Maya Banks erotic novella called Soul Possession, which is part of the Men Out of Uniform anthology. Talk about a scorcher; the last Banks romance I read was part of the sexy, suspenseful Kelly Series, and her latest Highlander book was just released. Both of those are sexy, but they’re not nearly as highly-charged and erotic as this novella.

One thing I’ve discovered over the years is that sometimes I’m in the mood for something…more. Sort of like when my husband and I watch NCIS with our son during the week, but catch up on Dexter by ourselves on the weekend. I’m intrigued by the imagination of an author who can spin a good yarn, yet cast it with such a wide array of intensity. Sometimes, I like a little erotic fantasy in my romance.

And I’m pretty certain I’m not alone. Let’s look at three of Ms. Banks’s other erotic stories.

[Yes, please!...]

Sep 14 2011 10:30am

1968 Camaro from Musclecross.comI’ve got a great relationship with my car, a Nissan Altima I call Mrs. Gladys. Her zippy 2.5 liter, 5-speed manual transmission gets me where I need to be, and fast. And while I comfort myself with the fact she’s efficient, she’s no sleek Porsche Cayman. But don’t tell her that.

My best friend in high school had a brother four years older than us, and she, her brother and her father used to restore old hot rods. The ’68 Camaro was my favorite, and I loved the sensation of unleashed power that flowed through my veins when I was invited to tag along in those hot machines. Tied up in those memories is her brother, with his long, heavy metal wild blonde hair that made him look like Roger Daltrey (in the Tommy years). Wow. That memory is probably why I had such a visceral reaction to Tara Janzen’s first title in her Steele Street series, Crazy Hot.

Everything about the book made me breathless, from the hot desert weather, to the hot classic cars, to the hot alpha males plaguing the McKinney sisters. The setup is classic romance suspense: Regan McKinney’s grandfather is missing, so she seeks out the one man who is sure to be able to find him— Quinn Younger. But there’s much more than a formula.

[“Like, does he have a car?”...]

Aug 18 2011 10:30am

Kiss and Tell by Cherry AdairI can remember the exact second I fell in love with romantic adventure: My mom and I were at the movie theatre watching Romancing the Stone. In one of the first scenes, Joan Wilder was standing on a cliff in the Columbian jungle when the cliff loses its battle in the deluge of rain and crumbles, sending her toppling down the mountainside. Oh, man, what an exhilarating feeling … watching Joan slide along in that awful puffy winter coat and landing with an inglorious thud! in a mud puddle. And to my eleven year old self, seeing Jack T. Colton sliding along after her, Pete Rose-style, landing face first between her thighs. Scandalous! I had no idea … (Oh, my) That clinched it for me.

Fortunately, age and experience are good for the, uh, libido and I wouldn’t be so scandalized nowadays. But my love for adventure has grown exponentially, and the first books I gravitate toward are romantic adventure. We all need a little Jack T. Colton in our lives, right?

One of my favorite romantic adventure authors is Cherry Adair. She’s got a whole slew of adventures, but the five linked titles about the Wright siblings in the T-FLAC series: Kiss and Tell (2000); Hide and Seek (2001); In Too Deep (2002); Out of Sight (2003); and On Thin Ice (2004) are exceptional.

[Allow me to elaborate...]