<i>A Lady's Guide to Ruin</i>: Exclusive Excerpt A Lady's Guide to Ruin: Exclusive Excerpt Kathleen Kimmel "We should not be here, alone in the dark." <i>Target Engaged</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Target Engaged: Exclusive Excerpt M.L. Buchman "She shouldn’t be attached, but she was…" <i>For Love or Magic</i>: Exclusive Excerpt For Love or Magic: Exclusive Excerpt Lucy March "Has her heart fallen under some sort of spell?" <i>Forever His Texas Bride</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Forever His Texas Bride: Exclusive Excerpt Linda Broday "With a low moan, she slid her hand around his neck, drawing him closer."
From The Blog
November 30, 2015
Best Reads of November 2015
Team H & H
November 21, 2015
Gothic Romance Movie Night: 3 Classics
Lauren Smith
November 20, 2015
Love for Bibliophiles in Whispers in the Reading Room
Maggie Boyd
November 19, 2015
A Ranking of the Lunar Chronicles Series Couples
November 18, 2015
Victoria Dahl Plays Your Heartstrings Harlot
Rebekah Weatherspoon
Showing posts by: Dolly Sickles click to see Dolly Sickles's profile
Feb 20 2014 11:00am

Seducing, One Punch at a Time: Gina L. Maxwell’s Fighting for Love Series

Seducing Cinderella by Gina MaxwellI was born to have a boy.

When I was pregnant sixteen years ago I thought, “I hope I have a girl,” because I’d been a girl for 25 years. How did I know what to do with a boy? But when our son was born, I looked into his sweet little face and fell head-over-heels in love with him. And knew, with the clarity of a lightning bolt to the head, that I was born to have a boy. Over the years I’ve watched our friends with daughters and secretly sighed for the relatively drama-free, gonad-toting child of mine. Some might say it’s an abomination of my feminist outlook; I say it’s divine providence.

Perhaps that’s why I connect with romantic heroes a little easier than heroines on occasion. Take, for example, Gina Maxwell’s Fighting for Love series. It’s a rare series that is connected by the lives of the men AND the women, but here we’ve got two sets of siblings and three MMA fighters to keep it all in the family.

In the majority of romance, it’s the heroes who are flawed. I don’t know if it’s because romance is predominately written and read by women, or if men are inherently less complex in their emotions and more transparent to write, but the men are usually the half of the couple unwilling (or unable) to commit. But Maxwell has written a series that has, so far, managed to have remarkably flawed women. It’s a little hard to read, these whiny, guarded, high-maintenance, neurotic women. I like strong personalities—in men and women—that shoot from the hip, in life and in fiction, so I found myself siding with Maxwell’s guys. That’s the sign of a great writer, I think!

I read the first story in the series, Seducing Cinderella, last fall. But it wasn’t until I read all three back-to-back when I realized that Maxwell writes a fabulous alpha hero. These men are far from meat-headed fighting lugs; they are lush, layered, compelling, men brave enough to stick with women who attract them like fireflies to flame. Who knows if they’re just gluttons for punishment, or just remarkable enough to let the surface gruffness mellow over time; these men are worth your time. They love the women in their lives with abandon, and are happy to take the first step toward a happy future. Don’t you just love this genre?

[What's not to love...]

Feb 7 2014 3:43pm

First Look: Elle Kennedy’s As Hot As It Gets (February 11, 2014)

As Hot As It Gets by Elle KennedyElle Kennedy
As Hot As It Gets (Out of Uniform)
Samhain / February 11, 2014 / $5.50 digital

After watching his teammates settle down one by one, Navy SEAL Jackson Ramsey is ready to say goodbye to the single life. He’s even met a woman who intrigues him, challenges him, and turns him right on—Mia Weldrick, the funny and beautiful gardener he can’t wait to get to know better.

Except Mia isn’t interested in dating him, which means it’s time for Jackson to unleash his Texas charm and do some serious wooing.

With a teenage brother to raise, two jobs, and, frankly, a complete disinterest in sex, Mia has no room in her busy life for a six-foot-five SEAL with a naughty streak a mile wide. But one hot kiss from Jackson has her imagining all the dirty ways she could fit him in.

It isn’t long before their no-string fling transforms into something more. As desire unearths emotions and deeply buried secrets, Mia has to decide whether to give love a chance to grow, or let it slip it away.

Aside from a few years when my mom and I lived in Germany while my dad fought in the final vestiges of the Vietnam War, I’ve lived in the South, and I can attest to the hotness of our fellas. Could be it’s one of the reasons I really enjoyed Elle Kennedy’s latest installation of her Out of Uniform series, As Hot As It Gets.

[Bring on the hotness...]

Feb 6 2014 11:49am

Long Flowing Hair, Big Hands, Leather Pants: The Science of Sleepy Hollow

Tom Mison as Ichabod Crane in Sleepy HollowIf you ever watched the television show Numbers, then you’re familiar with the notion that everything has a mathematical explanation or formula. If you read romance, then you know that relationships between characters can be boiled down to chemistr ... r science. Television shows, literature, bad pick up lines, interstate traffic flow, taxes: they’re all based on formulas.

My husband can calculate complex algorithms in his head, but he can’t grasp the simple chemistry between two characters that make romance stories so compelling to me. On the contrary, I’d rather pull out my eyeteeth than spend the afternoon decrypting a Caesar cypher, which holds him enthrall like a new Linda Howard book does for me. But guess what: at the end of the day, we both benefit from science…in the chemistry that holds us together like Forrest and Ginnay…like peas and carrots.

Over the holidays, my husband noticed a formula with the show Sleepy Hollow, drawing a correlation to the old Beauty and the Beast series that starred Linda Hamilton and Ron Perlman—a sappier, more hairy version of Ron Perlman that we both prefer in the Sons of Anarchy. But that’s for another conversation. The mister speculated that the same type of viewer who watched Beauty and the Beast most likely LOVES Sleepy Hollow. The dark sets, brooding heroes, strong damsels in distress—it's like catnip for the romance group, the steampunk group the X-Files group, and the like. Who knew … Sleepy Hollow seems to bridge together a wide swath of viewers.

[The ties that bind...]

Dec 15 2013 1:00pm

First Look: Jaime Rush’s Dragon Awakened (December 17, 2013)

Dragon Awakened by Jaime RushJaime Rush
Dragon Awakened
Forever / December 17, 2013 / $6.00 print, $5.69 digital

They are the Hidden.
Not quite human. Far from normal.
And never, ever safe . . .

Ruby Salazaar wants answers . . . and revenge. Her uncle has just been murdered before her eyes and the name he utters with his final breath - Cyntag - leads Ruby into a world beyond her wildest imaginings. She soon learns that the dark, sexy Cyntag Valeron knows more about her than she does herself.

Ruby changed Cyn's life before she even knew who he was. Now she charges into his life, a beautiful woman full of fire and questions. Cyn knew this day would come, yet he couldn't foresee the danger - and desires - Ruby would bring with her. He can teach her how to harness her newly awakened powers. But there is one force neither of them can control . . .

Until I read Jaime Rush’s Dragon Awakened, the only dragons I could recall from pop culture were Smaug and the mindless animals in Reign of Fire (granted, the main draw for Reign of Fire is dirty, scruffy Gerard Butler and Christian Bale—but there are also dragons).

[And then this book happened...]

Nov 28 2013 12:00pm

Three’s Company, Too: Manageable Ménage a Trois

Strange Attractions by Emma HollyI’ve always been an impatient, slightly hyperactive person. Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) wasn’t even on the public radar when I was a kid, so who knew if I would’ve been diagnosed then or if I developed a keen sense of multi-tasking years ago while working in marketing and having to actively manage two dozen projects at the same time…all at different phases. I think a little ADD goes a long way; it certainly helps you get a lot of things done at once.

But one area I’m certain, for me, is better left to one at a time is men. Despite my superior ability to mentally complete a thousand tasks, I only want one pair of arms to give me comfort at night. It’s also how I prefer my romances—except, on occasion, I do find myself skipping down the road less traveled: ménage a trois. And anytime I read them, I always wonder how in the hell the third partner resists the urge to go on a violent bender when the other two are having their turn.

Admittedly, most of my menages are of the Bordeaux blends, but on occasion I do like a little saucy reading. The bulk of ménage a trois in the romance genre tend to focus on multiple partners in a succession of steamy vignettes, rather than the traditional French translation of “household of three.” Sometimes a ménage a trois is considered a love triangle, sometimes a threesome. I think the love triangle is a little easier to read because there’s more of an emotional connection than “insert Tab A into Slot B…and Slot C.” But you’ll have to decide for yourself what’s good, and what’s good.

[Which reads would you recommend?...]

Sep 23 2013 8:15am

Shannon McKenna’s Hot Mess Heroes

“You don’t apologize much, do you?”
His eyebrow twitched. “Is it so obvious? I’m just being honest. When I’ve got you in bed, I don’t care about what’s polite. I go straight for the prize.”

I read Detective Jon Amendola’s scintillating rebuttal a couple of years ago on a flight to Toronto, and I can remember wanting to stand up and wave my hand, frantically, yelling “I’m a prize! I’m a prize!” But since my husband has always known that, and the fella who sat across the aisle would’ve likely called the flight attendant over to administer sleeping aids, I kept my cool.

That passage, along with the detective, is from one of Shannon McKenna’s novellas called Anytime, Anywhere, and epitomizes one of the elements I love about her stories: a hot mess hero. Yes, indeed, Detective Jon Amendola of the North Portland PD is a “tough, cynical, foul-mouthed, funny, and flat-out, drop dead gorgeous” dude. By now, “hot mess” is part of the mainstream colloquial, but in case you’re iffy on its meaning, Urban Dictionary defines it as “when ones thoughts or appearance are in a state of disarray but they maintain an undeniable attractiveness or beauty.”

Speaking as a card-carrying feminist and assertive gal, there’s no way in hell I would ever consider one of McKenna’s hot messes as a viable mate—be it for an hour, a hot affair, or a lifetime commitment. But my reader-self would challenge Gloria Steinem to read these men as anything other than captivating … scorching … and as addictive as crack.

[Gotta keep reading, just one more page...]

Nov 29 2012 2:30pm

The Ups and Downs of Elevator Sex from Authors Sara Fawkes, E.L. James, and More!

Anything He Wants: Dominated by the Billionaire by Sara FawkesWhen I worked as a writer and producer for a television station's website, I was great friends with the managing editor. We kept a file of crazy news stories that we called our “re-enactment files,” which we’d break out on slow or sad news days when we needed a good laugh. Nothing soothes the spirit better than bad office theatre. But this story crossed the wire about Boy George being arrested for keeping some guy as a sort of sex slave, and we were torn. On the one hand, it was disturbing to think about Boy George keeping someone cuffed to the bed, but in the end, we added it to the file.

It opened a whole new topic of conversation for us, though, because the craziness was partly discovered because of a hidden camera. We both agreed that while there days when being single sounded fun, ultimately we’d always have to look over our shoulders for the hidden camera in the bookshelf. But for some folks, the thrill of discovery can be quite titillating. Take, for example, sex in an elevator.

Quickies are not a new thing, nor is voyeurism, but there have been a string of steamy romances with couples getting a rise out of their lifts.

Anything He Wants by Sara Fawkes
I was pleasantly surprised by the scintillating story of temp worker Lucy Delacourt’s evolution at Hamilton Industries. Much like the movie Indecent Proposal, Lucy finds herself in an uncompromising, yet very sexy, position with the mystery businessman who rides the elevator with her every morning. She’s always aware of him, but takes precautions lest he notice her staring. One morning, though, the cobra snares her, crowding her against the door when the rest of the elevator clears out.

[Then the real fun begins...]

Nov 20 2012 11:15am

First Look: Sara Fawkes’s Anything He Wants (November 27, 2012)

Anything He Wants: Dominated by the Billionaire by Sara FawkesSara Fawkes
Anything He Wants
St. Martin's Griffin / November 27, 2012 / $14.99 print, $9.99 digital

Lucy Delacourt's temp position isn't quite her dream job but it pays the bills. The highlight of her day is riding the elevator in the mornings with a handsome stranger. Tall, dark, and sexy as hell, Lucy knows he's way out of her league, but a girl can look, right? 

Everything changes the day the stranger seduces her. Completely out of character, she yields without a fight, but she has no idea her wanton acts with a man whose name she doesn't know will change her life forever. Because the sexy stranger is none other than Jeremiah Hamilton, billionaire CEO of Hamilton Industries, and one taste isn't nearly enough to satisfy his need.  As the billionaire pulls Lucy deeper into his world of high stakes business deals and ruthless takeovers, he demands nothing less than her complete surrender. But even as enemies seek deadly revenge against him, she’ll discover that her greatest threat is falling for her fiercely guarded boss…and yielding to her own darkest needs.

Releasing novels in serial form is not a new concept. It started in the 17th century, but was really at its height in the 19th century in England. Robert Louis Stevenson, Thomas Hardy, and Charles Dickens serialized novels during the Victorian period, as did Stephen King with The Green Mile in the 1990s. But I’m an immediate satisfaction kind of gal, so I find the serial novel to be very anxiety-inducing.

Thankfully, by the time I discovered new-to-me author Sara Fawkes and her serial erotic romance, Anything He Wants, the fifth (and final) installation was releasing so I didn’t have to wait.

[And now the full story's out in paperback for our glomming pleasure...]

Oct 23 2012 1:30pm

Short and Sweet (and Hot!): Novellas from Lori Foster, Shannon McKenna, and More!

SEAL of My Dreams AnthologyI didn’t really begin reading romances until after I’d been out of college for a few years. With my literature degree in writing and editing, I’d read my share of novels, but there’s a point during the curriculum where reading changes from pleasure to pressure. And then I discovered novellas.

In the span of my crazy, busy life, novellas gave me the passion-filled, hopeful stories I craved on my multi-tasking-addled advertising brain. When I had more time, I invested in full-length novels; but during the week when there was only time for quickies, I voraciously consumed novellas. They were a great way to introduce me to a ton of new authors.

In the years since, I’ve cultivated and expanded my tastes, and have a great method for finding new authors and titles. But I still love novellas. My favorite books to purchase for my e-reading are novellas, because the faster-paced story is the perfect match for readers on the go. Here are some great stories and authors to get you started … I’m starting with some newer authors and following it up with some oldies but goodies.

[Novella recommendations? Don't mind if I do...]

Oct 21 2012 9:30am

It’s Those Same Agents Again!: Catherine Coulter’s (Too?) Long-Running FBI Series

The Cove by Catherine CoulterIt’s a good thing there are so many subgenres of romance, because the industry certainly tailors to the notion of having something for everyone. Like many of us, I read voraciously and am in constant search of new authors. I’ve read myself out of my local library, and have to walk a fine line with my soul mate on how many books I buy each month (digitally and in print) so it won’t “put us in the poor house.” And because I read so much, I find that I really like a different storyline each time. A series is a real emotional investment that I don’t always have time to give. Short series appeal to me, and I much prefer series tie-ins that make allusion to previous characters rather than focusing so heavily on involving them, again, in another book. A great example of this tangent-style series is Avery Flynn’s Layton Family series. Love her wit and voice, and love her sparingly off-handed mentions of characters past. But Flynn’s tangent style is not necessarily the norm.

I was new to romantic suspense when I read Catherine Coulter’s The Cove, and I scooped the next book in the series, The Maze when it came out. We’re introduced to FBI agent Dillon Savich in The Cove, but he really begins to shine in the follow-up. He also bucks the system and falls in love with one of his agents, Lacey Sherlock. I can remember thinking, at the time, “Way to go, Savich… standing up for love like that.”

[Savich is the MAN...]

Sep 28 2012 3:00pm

“As You Wish”: Great Lines in Movies and Romance Novels

Jerry MaguireWhen I was a kid, my mother and I had the regular habit of going to Sunday matinees after church. Then when I was in college, I worked at a video store during summer and holiday breaks, as did my husband. Between the three of us, we can quote thousands of movie lines. My favorites are comedies from the '80s and '90s.

I can watch a good movie over and over, just as I can read a good book over and over. My paperback books are well-worn, and well loved. I’ve even had to buy second copies of some of my favorites, specifically Julie Garwood’s The Prize, Peter Mayle’s Anything Considered, and Linda Howard’s Mr. Perfect. It's money well spent.

But if you’re like me, you can identify great books from a couple lines of text—or, at the very least, a couple great lines are enough to whet your appetite for more. Let’s test out that theory with a couple of movies first.

[What's in a line?...]

Aug 19 2012 12:00pm

An Author By Any Other Name: Exploring Nina Bruhns and Nikita Black’s Writing

Red Heat by Nina BruhnsBefore I became a romance and children’s book novelist, I had a long and interesting career in the arts, public relations, and as a journalist. For five of them, I was a volunteer Senior Docent at the North Carolina Museum of Art. One of my favorite galleries was the African gallery, steeped in rich history and tradition. But I was also an art patron, and at a fundraiser for the African gallery about ten years ago, I won a Pende mask. It hangs in my dining room, and serves as a reminder to me that when you don a mask, you can be anything—or anyone—you want to be.

Many authors practice the same theory, that of donning another identity—but we call them pseudonyms. Nora Roberts writes slightly futuristic tales under the pseudonym J.D. Robb; Sherrilyn Kenyon writes historic romances as Kinley MacGregor; and one of my favorite contemporary romantic suspense authors, Nina Bruhns, writes erotic romance as Nikita Black. Putting on a new name gives an author the freedom to write something totally different in genre and subject…but the underlying intelligence and sentence structure is there. A great writer and storyteller is still a great writer and storyteller regardless of which mask they don. You know what they say: an author by any other name is…well, still the same person.

[And their writing is still as good...]

May 29 2012 4:00pm

First Look: Erin Knightley’s More Than A Stranger (June 5, 2012)

More Than a Stranger by Erin KnightleyErin Knightley
More Than a Stranger
Penguin / June 5, 2012 / $7.99

When his family abandoned him at Eton, Benedict Hastings found an unexpected ally in his best friend’s sister. Her letters kept him going—until the day he had to leave everything behind. Years later, Benedict has seen his share of betrayal, but when treachery hits close to home, he turns to his old friend for safe haven….

After five torturous years on the marriage circuit, Lady Evelyn Moore is finally free to live her life as she wishes. So when her brother shows up with a dashing stranger, she finds herself torn between her dreams...and newfound desires. Despite his determination to keep Evie at a distance, Benedict cannot deny the attraction that began with a secret correspondence. Yet as they begin to discover one another, the dangers of Benedict’s world find them, threatening their lives, their love, and everything they thought they could never have…

A recent report on Mashable.com noted that, “More than 66% of adults are connected to one or more social media platforms.” On the one hand, it certainly makes maintaining a missive extremely quick and easy. On the other, it’s streamlining the process of correspondence so much that the art of letter writing is being lost.

Erin Knightley’s debut historical romance, More Than A Stranger, poses a most intriguing question that would likely be lost in our modern era of social media: If two people fell in love without ever having met, would they know each other when they finally came face to face?

[Since this is a romance, I’m guessing the answer is “yes”?...]

May 22 2012 2:00pm

First Look: Cherry Adair’s Vortex (May 22, 2012)

Vortex by Cherry AdairCherry Adair
St. Martin’s Press / May 22, 2012 / $7.99 print, $7.99 digital


Searching for a sunken ship off the coast of Peru, treasure hunter Logan Cutter manages to pull a very different kind of prize from the sea—beautiful gallery owner Daniela Rosada. Dani claims she was thrown overboard by ruthless pirates and begs for his protection. But Logan is no stranger to a woman’s lies, and something about her story doesn’t add up.


With her knowledge of Peruvian artifacts, Dani offers to help Logan translate an ancient map that will lead them to a shipwrecked treasure—and into a carefully laid trap. But the closer they get, the deeper she falls for him, not realizing that Logan is hiding a secret of his own. By the time she learns the truth about his boat, his brothers—and his blood feud with pirates—it’s too late. By falling in love, they’ve set a course for disaster…

Cherry Adair’s at it again with sexy suspense and high-seas adventure in the third installment of her Cutter Cay series, Vortex. And I must say this is my favorite!

[Obviously we must know why...]

May 5 2012 11:00am

Authors Linda Howard and Susan Andersen Write the Upside of Abusive Stalkers

Mr. Perfect by Linda HowardIt’s strange to think there may be an upside to having an abusive stalker, but if you’re a heroine in a romance novel, you can count on it as fact. And two of the best bright-side-of-stalking stories are by two of my favorite authors: Linda Howard, and Susan Andersen.

In Mr. Perfect, Linda Howard introduces us to Jaine Bright and her three best friends. In a moment of frustration during after-work cocktails, and in the crowd-pleasing tradition of Weird Science, they create a list that defines the perfect man: Mr. Perfect.

• He’s faithful. Doesn’t cheat or lie
• Nice
• Dependable
• Steady job
• Sense of humor
• Money
• Good to look at
• Great in bed, with stamina, and “leftovers”

[Seems perfectly reasonable to me...]

Apr 28 2012 3:00pm

Catherine Coulter’s Romantic Suspense...with a Twist!

The Edge by Catherine CoulterDid you ever see Quentin Tarantino’s action movie, From Dusk to Dawn? It was Tarantino’s next movie after Pulp Fiction, and still being fairly new to Tarantino, we rented it with no knowledge of the story. Halfway through, while minding my own business, vampires shot out of their rendezvous strip joint.

That’s right, I said vampires. What does that have to do with Pulp Fiction? Absolutely nothing. Which is what makes it so awesome! I love an unexpected twist. That’s why I’ve been a fan of Catherine Coulter’s for such a long time—the suspenseful twists and turns in her stories that call to me like a Siren.

The Edge (2000) has quite the surprise twist. You might recognize Ford MacDougal from The Maze; he was (Lacey) Sherlock’s FBI partner until she met and fell in love with her alliterative husband (Dillon) Savich. When Ford’s sister, Jilly, is gravely injured after driving her Porsche off an Oregon cliff, he experiences the whole episode with her from his hospital recovery bed—in Maryland at Bethesda Naval Hospital. And since Coulter writes the story in first person through Ford’s eyes, we get to experience all the anguish and confusion and fear bombarding him throughout the whole ordeal. When he’s well enough to travel, he heads for the West Coast. But hours after Jilly comes out of her coma, she’s kidnapped. And now Ford’s on the chase.

[What a good brother...]

Mar 20 2012 4:00pm

Fresh Meat: Deb Marlowe’s Tall, Dark and Disreputable (April 1, 2012)

Tall, Dark and Disreputable by Deb MarloweDeb Marlowe
Tall, Dark and Disreputable
Harlequin/April 1, 2012/$6.25 print, $4.79 digital

Portia Tofton has always yearned for brooding Mateo Cardea. His dark good looks filled her girlish dreams—dreams that were cruelly shattered when Mateo rejected her hand in marriage.

Now Portia’s home has been gambled away, and Mateo is the only man she can turn to. This time, however, she has in her possession something he wants—and she finds herself striking a deal with the devil himself!

Danger is all around—but Portia has no choice but to trust this man who once betrayed her….

Ever wanted something (or someone) so bad that you made a deal with the devil? A couple years ago we were visiting some friends in Arizona, and they scheduled a sunset horseback ride in the Sonoran Desert’s serene Tanque Verde Valley, followed by dinner at a restaurant at the top of a mountain (with what felt like a 90 degree climb). Since I’d made it a purposeful 35 years without riding a horse, I was a nervous wreck. I chattered constantly with my horse, and dealt deals with the Devil, Fate, Krusty the Klown…just about anybody who I thought would be listening. I did NOT want to get bucked off that horse and fall into a cactus and die in the Arizona desert. Hell, no.

[Oh, geez! So what happened?...]

Mar 5 2012 2:15pm

Fresh Meat: Aimee Laine’s Hide and Seek (March 5, 2012)

Hide & Seek by Aimee LaineAimee Laine
Hide and Seek
J. Taylor/March 5, 2012/pb $14.99, digital $5.99

Lie, cheat or steal, no one can catch Tripp Fox. Except one woman.

Lexi Shepherd’s knack for finding whatever is asked of her isn’t sheer luck. It’s a gift from the Greek god Zeus.

That Lexi doesn’t use her ability to search for “Mr. Right” comes from one of many personal rules she has set for herself. Number one is not to let fate dictate her future.

Falling in love with Tripp breaks all the others....

I have always been fascinated with Greek mythology. I can trace my fascination back to childhood and reading about Atalanta in Free To Be You and Me (I had the LP, too). My fascination continued to my years as a senior docent with the North Carolina Museum of Art, and my specialty in ancient Greek and Roman civilizations. And is precisely why I love Aimee Laine’s Hide and Seek.

[So...it’s not all Greek to you?...]

Feb 28 2012 3:30pm

Fresh Meat: Katharine Ashe’s When a Scot Loves a Lady (Feb. 28, 2012)

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 9:30am

Dangerous, Hidden, and Killer: Lora Leigh’s Tempting SEALs Series

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.