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From The Blog
May 22, 2015
If You Love Outlander, You’ll Love Nora Roberts’ MacGregors
Janet Webb
May 21, 2015
Futuristic Breeder Romances
Heather Massey
May 20, 2015
Jenn Bennett’s Roaring Twenties Series
PhoebeChase
May 19, 2015
Top 7 Ballsy Women in Movies, TV, and Novels
Winter Austin
May 19, 2015
Highland Knits for Outlander Fans
Kate Nagy
Showing posts by: Janet Webb click to see Janet Webb's profile
Sun
May 24 2015 2:00pm

First Look: Lauren Dane’s Back to You (May 26, 2015)

Back to You by Lauren Dane

Lauren Dane
Back to You (Hurley Brothers #3)
Harlequin / May 26, 2015) / $7.99 print & digital

Former model Kelly Hurley has finally put the ashes of the past behind her. After a passionate but turbulent marriage to rock star Vaughan Hurley that ended in heartbreak and divorce, Kelly rebuilt her life in Portland, where she settled so their two young daughters could be close to their father. Just not so close Kelly couldn’t truly make her own way without interference from the man who shattered her heart. Now Kelly’s finally ready to move on, and she’s planning to marry another man.

But not if Vaughan has anything to say about it.

Vaughan knows he was a fool all those years ago. A young, selfish—and prideful—fool. Even as he buried himself in the fast, decadent rock star lifestyle, he could never drown out the memory of Kelly’s beauty and love. Or the sweet, searing heat whenever they touched. For years, he’s had to deal with the pain of seeing her only because of their daughters, but it was never enough. Now Vaughan must prove that he’s the only man Kelly needs, before he loses her for good. And there’s only one way to do it….

Back to You by Lauren Dane made me think of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Not very romantic, you might be thinking, but a long-divorced couple who try to find their way back to each other is not going to have an easy time of it. Their path to happiness needs to be strewn with truth, paving the way to trust, finally culminating in an HEA that is all about the sweet rewards of reconciliation.

Kelly has accepted a proposal of marriage from her boyfriend Ross. Even she knows she’s lying to herself when she examines her reasons for saying yes. His tepid proposal didn’t help.

Only less romantically, it was more of a we’ve been sleeping over at one another’s houses for a year now. We should just get married because it’s good for everyone and it would be more cost-efficient, don’t you think?

What else could she do but say yes?

[She said yes, but did she mean maybe?]

Fri
May 22 2015 11:00am

If You Love Outlander, You’ll Love Nora Roberts’ MacGregors

Rebellion by Nora Roberts

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon and Rebellion*, In from the Cold, and For Now, Forever by Nora Roberts have so much in common. The stories are anchored in Scottish history, with Rebellion and Outlander beginning in the years leading up to the fateful Battle of Culloden in April 1746. Jamie Fraser and Serena MacGregor (the heroine of Rebellion) are Scottish patriots to the core. Each falls in love with a Sassenach, respectively Claire Beauchamp Randall and Brigham Langston, the English Earl of Ashburn. According to Yahoo answers, “Sassenach is a word used chiefly by the Scots to designate an Englishman. It derives from the Gaelic Sasunnach…” Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary states that the word is “used, often disparagingly, by the Gaelic inhabitants of the British Isles.”

Nora Roberts tells the story of the MacGregor clan, spanning the centuries from war-torn Scotland in the seventeen hundreds to modern-day Boston. Here’s a description of Rebellion:

“Scotland, 1745. Against the bloody background of the Battle of Culloden, another war was waged and won–the price was honor, the victory, love.” Scottish beauty Serena MacGregor’s hatred of all English began as a child when she watched as a band of Englishmen attacked her mother. Her brother’s friend Brigham Langston was no exception to Serena’s loathing–despite his supposed loyalty to the Scottish cause…and his good looks.

Although Brigham eventually proves himself worthy of the MacGregor family’s respect, Serena is still reluctant to abandon her hatred for him and his heritage. But Brigham has other plans. Serena has captivated him with her beauty, her passion for life and commitment to her beliefs–and he refuses to let her antagonistic attitude keep him from winning her. And Serena must learn to open her mind–as Brigham opens his heart–to see the true love awaiting her.

*Note: Heroes and Heartbreakers has a special audio clip at the bottom of the post for readers who are either new to the MacGregors or want to hear it acted out. Enjoy!

[Historical romance filled with so much passion...]

Tue
May 19 2015 9:30am

First Look: Melissa Cutler’s Game Changer (May 19, 2015)

Game Changer by Melissa Cutler

Melissa Cutler
Game Changer (Bomb Squad #3)
Penguin Intermix / May 19, 2015 / $4.99 digital

Welcome to Destiny Falls, New York, home of Bomb Squad—an ice hockey team full of rugged military heroes. An once-in-a-lifetime opportunity has the team captain packing his bags for greener pastures, but saying good-bye to the woman who’d captured his heart is easier said than done…

After being wounded in combat, Brandon Theroux lives every day like it’s his last. He never could have imagined that the sleek mechanics of his prosthetic leg would open so many doors, including minor celebrity status as a fitness model and a well-earned reputation as a rakish playboy. The only door it hasn’t opened is the one to Harper Johnson’s bedroom.

Harper has too much self-respect to join the ranks of Brandon’s “carpe diem” conquests, but when she needs someone to keep the peace in the tavern she owns, Brandon offers his help—as long as she agrees to a very tempting trade. It isn’t long before the two realize that a deal struck between friends who can’t keep their hands off each other has the potential to be a whole lot hotter than either of them is prepared to handle.

Sometimes when I read that a wounded warrior is the hero, I mutter, another day, another hero. I wonder what will be different about this one. Is there a fresh perspective possible? Without giving anything away, YES, Melissa Cutler's Game Changer really is a game changer because both Brandon and Harper are wounded inside and out, but they heal from within first and then lovingly, sexily, create a sensual space for each other that is different than anything I’ve ever read.

Dancing with the Stars has given the world sexy, agile, muscular former military men who have come to terms with their injuries. For Brandon it almost seems like his disability is a door-to-the-bedroom opener. His forever friend (and not with benefits), Harper, is a gun-toting, bar-owning, take-charge heroine! She’s older than the hero but that’s simply stated, not agonized over or examined exhaustively. Back to the gun-toting – we meet Harper as she defends her bar from some miscreants, thinking,

It might be a man’s world, but that was only because not enough women were properly armed. She loaded the rifle as she walked, then unlocked the front door and threw it open.

[Bars, guns, sex in the backseat and this is Upstate New York...]

Tue
Apr 7 2015 4:30pm

First Look: Jo Beverley’s Too Dangerous for a Lady (April 7, 2015)

Jo Beverley
Too Dangerous For a Lady (Company of Rogues #16)
 

Penguin / April 7, 2015 / $7.99 print & digital

Lady Hermione Merryhew, daughter of an impoverished marquess, already has her share of problems. The last thing she needs is an intruder in her bedroom, especially not a fugitive thief. She should scream, but the shabby rascal is a man from her past.

Six years ago, at her first ball, dashing Lieutenant Mark Thayne failed to steal a kiss, but succeeded in stealing a little of her heart. She's older and wiser now. She can't toss him to the wolves. Besides, she wants that kiss.

Now Viscount Faringay, Mark has never forgotten Lady Hermione, but he mustn't involve her in his dangerous life. He's infiltrated the Crimson Band, violent revolutionaries who plan a bloodbath in London, and if he survives the night he will be able to destroy them. Hermione is involved, however, and only he can protect her.

A scenario that never fails to terrify is a woman alone in a bedroom who is accosted by a man—even if he is not what he seems. Think of Mary Balogh’s Simply Scandalous or Grace Kelly in To Catch a Thief. It’s heart-in-the-throat scary in Jo Beverley's Too Dangerous for a Lady.

Even from where she sat, Hermione heard rapid footsteps in the corridor and urgent voices. She stayed fixed in place, hoping the intruder would leave before noticing that she was there.

[Don't leave us hanging...]

Tue
Mar 31 2015 4:30pm

First Look: Bonnie Dee and Summer Devon’s The Bohemian and the Banker (March 31, 2015)

The Bohemian and the Banker by Bonnie Dee and Summer DevonBonnie Dee & Summer Devon
The Bohemian and the Banker
Samhain / March 31, 2015 / $14.00 print, $3.99 digital

“A night lost in Paris finds two hearts changed forever.”

Sent to Paris on business, Nigel Warren doesn’t quite understand why his colleagues’ eyes twinkle as they tell him to meet them at a local night spot.

When he discovers it’s a drag cabaret and his acquaintances aren’t there, he realizes he’s the butt of a joke. Yet he finds himself quite undone by a singer dressed in an elegant gown, crooning a spellbinding ballad.

It’s not unusual for Jay, a former Londoner, to bring a new “friend” home from the cabaret, but he’s never had a guest quite like Nigel, whose straitlaced manner hides an unexpected passionate streak.

One romantic night on a rooftop under starry skies, followed by an afternoon enjoying the excitement of the 1901 Paris Exposition, bonds these opposites in a way neither can forget—even after they part.

Their spark reignites when Jay comes to London, but he’s not sure he can go back to hiding his true self, not even for the sake of love…unless Nigel is willing to shed his cloak of staid respectability and take a leap of faith.

Warning: Contains a virgin who doesn’t speak French but is fluent in numbers, and a drag performer who is trilingual in English, French and Love. Not responsible for extra pounds brought on by the urge to dine on croissants au deux.

Sometimes when reading historicals, it’s necessary to suspend one’s disbelief. How likely is it that a young lady would flit around the darker byways of a London night with a stranger? Contrast that to a staid banker in Paris on business combining his work with a little pleasure.

The Parisian setting of Bonnie Dee and Summer Devon's The Bohemian and the Banker is as transformative as the romance itself—surely everything is possible in the City of Lights. Take buttoned-down banker Nigel, transfixed by drag singer Jean Michel:

[Voulez vous coucher avec moi ce soir?]

Mon
Mar 23 2015 5:45pm

First Look: Julianna Keyes’s Time Served (March 23, 2015)

Time Served by Julianna KeyesJulianna Keyes
Time Served
Carina Press / March 23, 2015 / $3.99 digital

Dean Barclay had nothing to do with my decision to flee my old life, but he is 100 percent of the reason I vowed to never look back.

I've never forgotten how it felt to follow Dean—dangerous, daring, determined—away from the crowd and climb into his beat-up old Trans Am. I was sixteen and gloriously alive for the first time. When I felt his hand cover my leg and move upward, it was over. I was his. Forever.

Until I left. Him, my mom, and the trailer park. Without so much as a goodbye.

Now Dean's back, crashing uninvited into my carefully cultivated, neat little lawyerly life. Eight years behind bars have turned him rougher and bigger—and more sexually demanding than any man I've ever met. I can't deny him anything…and that just might end up costing me everything.

Men returning from prison—and the women who love them—is one of the most compelling tropes out there. In addition to the hero’s hard time, Julianna Keyes brilliantly shows how the heroine’s working world can seem like hard time of its own. Poet Richard Lovelace’s words: “Stone walls do not a prison make, nor iron bars a cage,” come to mind and attorney Rachel Moser is hitting the glass ceiling hard. Like lawyer Cara Adams in Dorien Kelly’s Do-Over, Rachel struggles while other more ambitiously deft colleagues climb higher and faster up the ladder of success. When Rachel becomes reacquainted with her high school boyfriend, Dean Barclay, an ex-con, it turns out their personal lives have a lot in common: conflict and competition have made both of their lives fraught with tension. 

[Of the sexual variety...?]

Tue
Mar 17 2015 4:30pm

Self-Esteem and Sexy Alphas in Kristen Ashley’s Soaring

Soaring by Kristen AshleyA new Kristen Ashley book is an invitation to the complete female fantasy: a dead sexy hero, a heroine who is in need of a makeover—be it internal or external—and often, a house that needs to be transformed into a home. So turn off HGTV, log out of your social media and surrender to Ashley.  Soaring is the second in Ashley’s Magdalene trilogy, set in a picturesque town on the Maine coast. Maine is definitely the trilogy flavor of early 2015 (tip of the hat to Sarah Morgan’s First Time in Forever and Anna Sullivan’s Secret Harbor). The attraction of coastal Maine is understandable, since rugged individualism keeps pace with everyone-knows-your-name neighborliness, all played out before a stunning backdrop of ocean and cliff.

Something else that’s stunning in Ashley’s latest is Mickey Donovan, the blue-eyed fireman who lives across the street from newcomer Amelia Hathaway. Mickey “persuades” Amelia’s loudly antagonistic ex-husband Conrad to leave the premises. Mickey makes eye contact, checking to make sure Amelia is all right. She thinks:

[Tell us...]

Fri
Mar 13 2015 4:15pm

Now Leaving Windfall Island: Anna Sullivan’s Secret Harbor

Secret Harbor by Anna SullivanThe tag line of Secret Harbor is “Scandalous secrets lead to deadly desire.” A clever way to sum up the third of Anna Sullivan’s Windfall Island trilogy: a revelation of secrets still lurking after Temptation Bay (book 1) and Hideaway Cove (book 2) as well as an exposé of the deadly intent behind the island mysteries. It plays out in the persons of disgraced islander, actress Paige Walker, and enigmatic Boston lawyer, Alec Barclay.

Was it just being busy that kept Paige away for ten years? Why did it take a scandalous sex tape to send her running for cover?

But she’d been silly and stupid in the early days, and then it had become a habit to keep her private life private, not to mention good sense in a place where reality and truth were just concepts to be interpreted and presented to the world. She’d become a commodity.

Not everyone appreciates Paige’s brand. An attractive man carrying plumbing tools laughs at the ringtone on her cottage’s doorbell—the “Somewhere My Love” theme of her award winning movie December Sunshine. This charismatic stranger labels her signature work a “sappy melodramatic romance.” Let the witty foreplay commence!

[Commencing witty foreplay...]

Wed
Mar 11 2015 4:30pm

“The Start of a Beautiful Relationship”: Sarah Morgan’s First Time in Forever

First Time in Forever by Sarah MorganIt’s a cause for celebration when Sarah Morgan embarks on a new trilogy. Puffin Island, off the Maine coast, is the geographical ballast of friendship for Emily, Skylar, and Brittany, pals since college. Morgan has a knack for celebrating friendship over time and the changes that careers and geographical distance present.

The element of continuity in First Time in Forever is a Puffin Island cottage. Inherited by Brittany from her grandmother, it’s a refuge, the place where the college roommates cement their bond over the years.

Where there are three female friends, bros can’t be far behind, and Morgan assembles a tempting lot. Ryan Cooper, a sexy yacht-club owner with a past, is friends with Alec, a writer and historian who has become an internet sensation through his show the Shipwreck Hunter. As one local fan informs Alec—with Ryan looking on with glee—

“The crazy thing is, history was my least favorite subject in school, but you actually manage to make it sexy. Loads of us follow you on Twitter, not that you’d notice us because I know you have, like, one hundred thousand followers.”

Alec answered politely, and when they finally walked away, Ryan slapped him on the shoulder.

“Hey, that should be your tag line. I make history sexy.”

“Do you want to end up in the water?”

“Do you seriously have a hundred thousand followers? I guess that’s what happens when you kayak half naked through the Amazon jungle. Someone saw your anaconda.”

[Friends will be friends...]

Tue
Mar 10 2015 5:45pm

First Look: Debbie Macomber’s Last One Home (March 10, 2015)

Last One Home by Debbie MacomberDebbie Macomber
Last One Home
Random House / March 10, 2015 / $26.00 print, $12.99 digital

Debbie Macomber, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Blossom Street and Cedar Cove series, will win readers’ hearts with her utterly fresh and poignant new stand-alone novel.

In Last One Home, three sisters who couldn’t be more different try to repair old wounds—and discover that, through all the ups and downs of life, they remain family and can depend on one another.

Three sisters repairing old wounds—is this Debbie Macomber’s version of Nora Roberts’s  Montana Sky? Yes and no. Last One Home takes pride of place with stories that celebrate brave, isolated women who courageously escape from horrific circumstances and start life again. It sidles up beside Roberts’s Dance Upon the Air (Three Sisters Island) and Virginia Kantra’s Mad Dog and Annie. It’s a second act story where the main character’s emotional healing arc is integral to her ability to love again.

Meet Cassie, a single mother who works in a hairdressing salon. She is short on time, money, and hope. When her daughter Aimee was seven, Cassie ran away from her abusive husband Duke. Early in their relationship, Duke had persuaded Cassie to leave Spokane, telling her that there was a great job awaiting him in Florida.

[So let's take a break and go to Florida too...]

Mon
Jan 26 2015 5:30pm

First Look: Katie Rose’s Too Hot to Handle (January 27, 2015)

Too Hot to Handle by Katie RoseKatie Rose
Too Hot to Handle (The Boys of Summer #2)
Loveswept / January 27, 2015 / $2.99 digital

Nikki Case is no fan of baseball. Her ex gambled away a fortune on the sport, and now her PR firm has tasked her with cleaning up the league’s most notorious bad boys. The New Jersey Sonics are known for wild womanizing and booze-fueled brawls, so Nikki expects the worst. Her first stop in the battle to win hearts and minds is star hitter Jake Baldwin—a legendary ladies man so smokin’ he threatens to melt her tough-girl armor.

Although his teammates prank her without mercy, Jake admires the way Nikki gives as good as she gets. She may be the queen of frost, but there’s kindling beneath those sultry curves—and he’s just the man to ignite it. But when a PR nightmare lands the Sonics in headlines across the country, Nikki is ready to walk. Only then does Jake realize how important she is to the Sonics’ success—and that winning the love of a good woman is no game.

Baseball has always been more than a game to me. Going to a ballgame as an adult unlocks memories of a simpler time when the only thing that mattered was whether your team won that day. Is there anyone who can’t recite these famous lyrics?

Take me out to the ball game/Take me out with the crowd.

Buy me some peanuts and crackerjacks/I don't care if I never get back.

Let me root, root, root for the home team/If they don't win it's a shame.

Aahh…For it's one, two, three strikes you're out, at the old ball game!

[One more time!]

Tue
Jan 6 2015 5:30pm

First Look: Marilyn Pappano’s Bayou Hero (January 6, 2015)

Bayou Hero by Marilyn PappanoMarilyn Pappano
Bayou Hero
Harlequin / January 6, 2015 / $5.50 print, $4.99 digital

Even for an experienced NCIS agent like Alia Kingsley, the murder scene is particularly gruesome. Someone killed in a fit of rage. Being the long-estranged son of the deceased, Landry Jackson quickly becomes a person of interest. But does Landry loathe his father as much as the feds suspect? 

It's clear to Alia that Landry Jackson has secrets, but his hatred for his father isn't one of them. Alia feels sure Landry isn't the killer, but once more family members start dying, she's forced to question herself. What if the fierce attraction between her and Landry has compromised Alia's instincts?

What’s in a title? If “Bayou” is part of the package, what’s going to be unwrapped? Marilyn Pappano serves up romantic suspense in the midst of charming New Orleans with Bourbon Street music and partying, and the serenity of the Garden District taking center stage. N’awlins is definitely in Bayou Hero’s cast of characters.

[Can we have a side of gumbo?]

Sat
Dec 27 2014 11:00am

First Look: Miranda Neville’s the Duke of Dark Desires (December 30, 2014)

The Duke of Dark desires by Miranda NevilleMiranda Neville
The Duke of Dark Desires (The Wild Quartet #4)
Avon / December 30, 2014 / $7.99 print, $4.99 digital

Rebellious Julian Fortescue never expected to inherit a dukedom, nor to find himself guardian to three young half-sisters. Now in the market for a governess, he lays eyes on Jane Grey and knows immediately she is qualified—to become his mistress. Yet the alluring woman appears impervious to him. Somehow Julian must find a way to make her succumb to temptation . . . without losing his heart and revealing the haunting mistakes of his past.

Lady Jeanne de Falleron didn't seek a position as a governess simply to fall into bed with the Duke of Denford. Under the alias of Jane Grey, she must learn which of the duke's relatives is responsible for the death of her family—and take her revenge. She certainly can't afford the distraction of her darkly irresistible employer, or the smoldering desire he ignites within her.

But as Jane discovers more clues about the villain she seeks, she's faced with a possibility more disturbing than her growing feelings for Julian: What will she do if the man she loves is also the man she's sworn to kill?

With a book that serves as the culmination of a beloved series and satisfies on so many levels—characters, plot, emotional punch—it might seem incongruous to celebrate it for its sheer wit, but such is the case with Miranda Neville’s The Duke of Dark Desires. Julian Fortescue, the ill equipped Duke of Denford, and Jane Grey, formerly Lady Jeanne de Falleron, once the cherished daughter of an aristocratic French family, have much in common. Specifically, their darkly humorous, often ironic way of looking at life, for life has been cruel to both of them and banter is their best defense.

[Desired: a good wit]

Tue
Dec 16 2014 5:30pm

First Look: Sophia James’s Marriage Made in Money (December 16, 2014)

Sophia James
Marriage Made in Money (Penniless Lords)
Harlequin / December 16, 2014 / $6.50 print, $5.99 digital

After her first disastrous marriage, wealthy heiress Amethyst Cameron swore she'd never take a husband again. Yet her beloved father's deepest wish is for her to wed an aristocrat to protect her life and reputation. 

Lord Montcliffe must marry into money to save his debt-ridden estate, but he doesn't have to like it—or his bewitching future bride. So he's stunned by the feelings stirred up by one scorching kiss! But when Daniel uncovers the truth, can he accept the real Amethyst and help to banish the ghost of her past forever?

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a noble earl in possession of a crumbling patrimony is in need of a wealthy heiress...so step right up, ladies! No worries if you’re from the made-a-fortune-in-trade side of the street because needs must when the devil drives. Apologies to Jane Austen and William Shakespeare for parodying their famous words but they very neatly sum up the premise of Sophia James’s new Penniless Lords series. 

It’s impossible to not think of Mary Balogh’s unforgettable A Christmas Promise while reading Marriage Made in Money; there are many similarities. The heroine’s father is in trade and he trades his money, apparently, to gain his daughter entrée into the aristocratic world. The penniless earl inherited rather than created his onerous debts.

[In romance, that's usually the preferred way of debt...]

Mon
Dec 1 2014 2:45pm

First Look: Lacy Williams’s A Cowboy for Christmas (December 2, 2014)

A Cowboy for Christmas by Lacy WilliamsLacy Williams
A Cowboy for Christmas (Wyoming Legacy)
Harlequin / December 2, 2014 / $5.99 print, $4.99 digital

After an accident leaves her injured, Daisy Richards stays secluded at her family's Wyoming ranch to avoid the town's gawking stares. Yet handsome cowboy newcomer Ricky White insists she can do anything she dreams—ride a horse, decorate a Christmas tree…even steal a man's heart. 

Once a reckless cad, Ricky is to blame for what happened to Daisy. Now reformed, he wants to make amends by setting things right for his boss's beautiful daughter in time for the holidays. But Daisy doesn't know Ricky's responsible for her predicament. When the truth is revealed, will he lose the greatest gift he's ever received—her trust? 

A wedding reception is ordinarily a festive occasion, but Daisy is a reluctant participant. Why is she hiding at the party celebrating her father’s remarriage? What doesn’t red-haired Daisy want young men to see? Daisy is terribly self-conscious, and it feels as though time has stopped for her.

[Tick, tock...]

Mon
Nov 24 2014 10:30am

First Look: Megan Frampton’s The Duke’s Guide to Correct Behavior (November 25, 2014)

The Duke's Guide to Correct Behavior by Megan FramptonMegan Frampton
The Duke’s Guide to Correct Behavior (Dukes Behaving Badly)
Avon / November 25, 2014 / $5.99 print & digital

All of London knows the Duke of Rutherford has position and wealth. They also whisper that he’s dissolute, devilish, and determinedly unwed. So why, everyone is asking, has he hired a governess?
When Miss Lily Russell crosses the threshold of the Duke of Rutherford’s stylish townhouse, she knows she has come face to face with sensual danger. For this is no doting papa. Rather, his behavior is scandalous, and his reputation rightly earned. And his pursuit of her is nearly irresistible—but resist she must for the sake of her pupil.

As for the duke himself, it was bad enough when his unknown child landed on his doorstep. Now Lily, with her unassuming beauty, has aroused his most wicked fantasies—and, shockingly, his desire to change his wanton ways. He’s determined to become worthy of her, and so he asks for her help in correcting his behavior.

But Lily has a secret, one that, if it becomes known, could change everything.

Full Disclosure: Megan Frampton is the community manager for Heroes and Heartbreakers.

There’s no easy way to transition from being an ordinary man to becoming a duke, or so it seems to Marcus, the new Duke of Rutherford in Megan Frampton's The Duke's Guide to Correct Behavior. When Marcus’s new friend Smithfield asks him, in the face of Marcus’s bellyaching about his new ducal status, “…what did you do six months ago, before you inherited? Or better yet, what would you rather be doing?” Marcus, relaxed after imbibing brandy, has a ready answer.

Disappearing. Leaving. Being free of all responsibilities and cares. Never having to answer to anyone. “I used to walk a lot, just walk. That made me almost happy.”

[It's the simple things...]

Thu
Nov 6 2014 10:30am

Joan Wolf Returns to Form with The American Earl

The American Earl by Joan WolfConnoisseurs of traditional Regency romances have long adored the spare, unforgettable stories of Joan Wolf (check out our Delicious Despair post on Wolf's His Lordship's Mistress). Precise evocative prose is her hallmark. Her heroines, regardless of their rank or fortune, are independent thinkers and care more for their horses and those who depend upon them (not necessarily in that order) than how they are regarded by the arbiters of English society. They are often passionate about paintings, poetry, and plays. Longing for a London season, enjoying being flattered and courted by noblemen, gathering a bevy of women around them in giddy friendship—these are not on the bucket list of any Wolf heroine. She is more likely to be capturing her artistic vision on canvas, or galloping on a horse barely restrained, than pass muster in a London ballroom. Forthright to a fault, intensely loyal to her small circle, unaware of her beauty, and plucky to the core, a Wolf heroine is not easily forgotten.

Joan Wolf’s extensive author’s note at the end of The American Earl puts her new Regency in the context of her long and varied writing career:

[She's got quite a resume...]

Tue
Nov 4 2014 2:15pm

First Look: Joanna Bourne’s Rogue Spy (November 4, 2014)

Rogue Spy by Joanna BourneJoanna Bourne
Rogue Spy (Spymaster)
Berkley / November 4, 2014 / $7.99 print & digital

Ten years ago he was a boy, given the name Thomas Paxton and sent by Revolutionary France to infiltrate the British Intelligence Service. Now his sense of honor brings him back to London, alone and unarmed, to confess. But instead of facing the gallows, he’s given one last impossible assignment to prove his loyalty.

Lovely, lying, former French spy Camille Leyland is dragged from her safe rural obscurity by threats and blackmail. Dusting off her spy skills, she sets out to track down a ruthless French fanatic and rescue the innocent victim he’s holding—only to find an old colleague already on the case. Pax.

Old friendship turns to new love, and as Pax and Camille’s dark secrets loom up from the past, Pax is left with a choice—go rogue from the Service or lose Camille forever…

At the crux of every Joanna Bourne book is the tension between love and loyalty, a tension that can sweep into a character’s life on an instant. The ancillary benefits of reading Bourne are almost as precious as being caught up in a compelling romance. Like the language—or should I say the languages? French, German, Latin, Greek…to name a few. Jostling for preeminence in Rogue Spy are the sayings of the Baldonis, the family of origin of the heroine—who goes by Sara, Vérité, or Cami at different points in the story—and the pithy pronouncements of Camille Leyland’s “aunts.” Cami overhears,

[Are you eavesdropping, Camille?]

Mon
Oct 27 2014 9:30am

First Look: Elizabeth Boyce’s Honor Among Thieves (October 27, 2014)

Honor Among Thieves by Elizabeth BoyceElizabeth Boyce
Honor Among Thieves
Crimson / October 27, 2014 / $4.99 digital

Grave robbing ain't no job for a lady . . .

To pay off her recently deceased brother’s debts, however, Lorna Robbins must take drastic measures. When she happens upon a resurrectionist gang stealing his corpse, she does the unthinkable and joins the criminal outfit to save her family estate and her younger sibling. For the first time in her lonely, duty-driven life, Lorna finds herself leading a treacherous and exciting double existence. By day, she becomes a popular lady of the ton, relying on society gossip to help her body-snatching gang. By night, she becomes the grave robber known only as the Blackbird. 

Surgeon and anatomy teacher Brandon Dewhurst relies on resurrectionists to bring him the specimens he needs to further his research on pregnancy. When his usual suppliers become unreliable, and then downright sinister, he’s reluctantly drawn further into the black market. As Lorna and Brandon both target the same body—a pregnant woman who is still very much alive—they find themselves powerfully drawn together time and again while trying to maintain their own respectable facades. But this daring duo is courting danger, and romance is a complication neither can afford.

Hallowe’en is the time when readers yearn for the macabre and the other-worldly. Is there a romance that might satisfy that need? Look no further than Elizabeth Boyce's Honor Among Thieves, where impoverished gentlewoman Lorna Robbins and surgeon/medical researcher Brandon Dewhurst meet repeatedly, in the back alleys of London’s East End and also in the sophisticated drawing rooms of the Ton.

[Dishonorable antics ahoy?]

Fri
Oct 3 2014 9:30am

First Look: Joanna Wylde’s Reaper’s Stand (October 7, 2014)

Reaper's Stand by Joanna WyldeJoanna Wylde
Reaper’s Stand (Reapers MC #4)
Berkley / October 7, 2014 / $15.00 print / $5.99 digital

As Reapers Motorcycle Club president, Reese “Picnic” Hayes has given his entire life to the club. After losing his wife, he knew he’d never love another woman. And with two daughters to raise and a club to manage, that was just fine with him. These days, Reese keeps his relationships free and easy—he definitely doesn’t want to waste his time on a glorified cleaning lady like London Armstrong.

Too bad he’s completely obsessed with her.

Besides running her own business, London’s got her junkie cousin’s daughter to look after—a more reckless than average eighteen-year-old. Sure she’s attracted to the Reapers’ president, but she’s not stupid. Reese Hayes is a criminal and a thug. But when her young cousin gets caught up with a ruthless drug cartel, Reese might be the only man who can help her. Now London has to make the hardest decision of her life—how far will she go to save her family?

What a challenge to pull together my thoughts for this First Look! Here’s what I knew about Reese, aka Picnic, from the three previous books in Joanna Wylde’s Reapers MC series: he’s the president of his MC, a widower, hotter than hawt, and living the SOA life. Most of the women he sleeps with (okay, he doesn’t sleep) are younger than his two daughters. Every morning after in Reese’s kitchen has the potential to be a mini-high-school reunion for his guest and his daughters. Lovely.

[Everything but the red and white checked tablecloth]