<i>Dark Alpha's Embrace</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Dark Alpha's Embrace: Exclusive Excerpt Donna Grant "Her soft curves blunt the sharp edges of my soul..." <i>Knight Protector</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Knight Protector: Exclusive Excerpt Rue Allyn "Desire raced in his heart, and his head swam." <i>Out of Nowhere</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Out of Nowhere: Exclusive Excerpt Roan Parrish "We kiss so slow it’s like melting together." <i>Follow Me Into Darkness</i>: Excerpt Follow Me Into Darkness: Excerpt Santino Hassell, Roan Parrish, J.R. Gray, J.C. Lillis and Kris Ripper
From The Blog
February 10, 2016
New-to-You Books from Vi Keeland, Meghan Quinn, and More!
Jessica Moro
February 10, 2016
Fantasy Casting Christina Lauren's Wild Seasons Series
Jennifer Proffitt
February 10, 2016
Mary Balogh’s Husbands with Mistresses
Janet Webb
February 9, 2016
Planning Your Perfect Valentine’s Day
Elizabeth Michels
February 8, 2016
Can You Go Home Again in Marilyn Pappano's A Chance of a Lifetime?
Janet Webb
Showing posts by: Janet Webb click to see Janet Webb's profile
Feb 10 2016 9:30am

Mary Balogh’s Husbands with Mistresses: I Now Pronounce You Man and Mistress

A Masked Deception by Mary Balogh

What could be more anathema in a Regency romance than a husband with a mistress? Is it even worth asking “can this marriage be saved?” Boiling in oil is probably too good for these dastardly spouses. But yet, in the hands of immensely talented writers like Mary Balogh and Edith Layton, these couples can be nuanced and redeemed, eventually reaching the promised land of a believable happily ever after. In order to take a good look at these miscreants and their mistresses and wives, naturally, there will be spoilers galore, so be warned.

A Masked Deception, Balogh’s first book, introduces us to Richard Adair’s serene wife Margaret, who seduces her husband, the befuddled Earl of Brampton, wearing a sexy French coquette costume (and he is none the wiser). Richard doesn’t do much except grouse and grizzle (which does not take away from the fact I LOVE all these books!). Admittedly, he’s torn to pieces between his love for his saucy will o’ the wisp French mistress and his gentle wife. He breaks it off with his French angel and retreats to his country estate.

He had arrived at the Brampton Court desperate with unhappiness over the loss of his angel and almost cursing his fate that had held her from him until it was it was too late for them to let their love grow openly. He had found it difficult to accept his wife’s quiet, uncomplaining presence in his life. He had kept his distance from her, in an effort not to inflict his own unhappiness and ill-humor on her...Only in his saner moments did he admit that what had happened was inevitable. There was no other alternative.

But when his mother strings him a line about his Margaret being off *cough cough* with his friend, it finally wakes him up to how he feels.

[Strained marriages and the husband's other woman ...]

Feb 8 2016 5:00pm

Can You Go Home Again in Marilyn Pappano’s A Chance of a Lifetime?

A Chance Of A Lifetime by Marilyn Pappano

A Chance of a Lifetime is firmly embedded in the soil and soul of Oklahoma. Calvin Street grew up there, surrounded by family and friends, particularly his best buddy J’Myel and their childhood friend Benita. Broken, bleeding, beset by the demons of war, Calvin is sent to Fort Murphy to recover from his mental wounds.

Just past the guard shack stood a statue of the post’s namesake, Audie Murphy, the embodiment of two things Oklahomans valued greatly: cowboys and war heroes. Despite being scrawny black kids and not knowing a damn thing about horses, he and J’Myel had wanted to be Audie when they grew up.

At least they’d managed the war hero part, according to the awards they’d been given.

They say you can’t go home again. What about memories, recollections, pivotal days? Calvin’s concerned, caring family persuades him to leave Fort Murphy briefly and come home for a family dinner. Calvin is stricken with grief when he looks at the portraits and candid shots covering the walls, especially one picture.

[It's a throwback...]

Feb 6 2016 4:00pm

Love Has No Rules in Jill Sorenson’s Against the Wall

Against The Wall by Jill Sorenson

The eternal allure of the bad boy, especially a bad boy trying his damnedest to make good, is a trope that never falls out of fashion. Eric Hernandez is coldly analytical about the restrictions imposed on his life after being released from prison. He’s not exactly “free” because of the rules and regulations that govern his choices every day. Where he lives, what he does, with whom he associates … it’s all codified. What isn’t controllable is the feeling he has for the one person that is imbedded in his heart, Meghan Young. When his sister April and her husband Noah throw a welcome-home party after his release, Meghan is on Eric’s mind.

Meghan won’t be happy to see me. The last time I saw her, when she’d visited the jail where I was processed, I said a lot of nasty things to her. I said she was an easy lay, that I’d had better, that I didn’t care for her.


Noah doesn’t seem mad at me for disrespecting his little sister, so I’m assuming she didn’t share the details of our breakup.

Life moved on during the three years Eric was in prison. Meghan has a new boyfriend, rich, handsome, athletic, but he’s also a guy who’s used to having his girlfriends “fall in line,” especially if they’re live-ins.

Our relationship hit the skids as soon as I moved in with him. Then he stopped pursuing me and started trying to control me. It’s almost as if he considers me his property now that I live in his apartment. He seems to want a maid, a cook, and blowjobs on demand. I wouldn’t mind taking care of his needs if he returned the favor.

[Love has no rules and sometimes you need a do-over ...]

Feb 3 2016 2:00pm

Jane Ashford’s Heir to the Duke: No Longer Cinderella

Heir to the Duke by Jane Ashford

Imagine if you will that Cinderella has married her prince and that they have embarked on their life together. Will it be unalloyed bliss? Will the mysteries and miseries of Cinderella’s earlier life eventually demand to be examined? Jane Ashford’s Heir to the Duke examines some of these questions, in a surprisingly poignant and refreshing way.

Expectations can be the very devil: Nathaniel and Violet have certain ideas about married life that turn out to be widely off the mark. It all starts with an unforeseen pre-marriage-ceremony wake-up call. On his wedding day, Nathaniel opens his bleary, disoriented eyes in an unfamiliar bedchamber.

He was stark naked, on a large bed stripped bare of linens, covered only by a moth-eaten gray wolf skin... Then he remembered. He was staying at the Earl of Moreley’s country house, because tomorrow—no, today—he was to marry the earl’s daughter at their local parish church.

Nathaniel glared at the wolf skin, then rubbed his hands over his face. This was what it meant to have five brothers—five younger brothers—on one’s wedding day. Or rather, on one’s wedding eve, a night they’d insisted on marking with bowls of rack punch.

Nathaniel is less than happy to wake up in such a state, although with five younger brothers, he’s not surprised to be pranked. He and Violet had the most sedate, most monitored of courtships, however, so he is shocked by her response to him au natural—after she opens the door to his room (Nathaniel’s brother James told Violet that her bridegroom needs to speak with her “most urgent”).

“Oh!” Her mouth dropped open.

Nathaniel—stark naked, next to a bed sporting only a rumpled wolf skin—braced for a shriek, a shocked retreat, babbled apologies. But Violet just looked at him. Indeed, it seemed as if she couldn’t tear her eyes away. He could almost feel her gaze travelling along his skin, as if it left trails of warmth. He saw something stir in those gray eyes, something he’d never observed before, and his body began to respond to the possibility of much more than he’d expected from his suitable marriage. Respond all too eagerly.

[The tables turn on these newlyweds ...]

Jan 11 2016 4:30pm

First Look: Kristen Ashley’s Sebring (January 11, 2016)

Sebring by Kristen Ashley

Kristen Ashley
Sebring (Unfinished Heroes #5)
Kristen Ashley / January 11, 2016 / $14.99 print, $4.99 digital

Nick Sebring has issues. Born feeling like an outsider in his own family, growing up under the shadow of a brother who could do anything, Nick isn’t that great of a guy. But when this culminates with Nick lashing out to hurt his brother through the woman he loves, Nick turns inward and makes some decisions about the man he intends to be.

And as he does this, he falls in love and truly learns the man that he’s grown to be.

When his love is murdered right before Nick’s eyes, Nick knows he has to avenge her. He knows how he’s going to avenge her. And he has no qualms using Olivia Shade to exact that vengeance.

Olivia Shade has grown up on the outside of her family too. Her problem is that they don’t want her outside. They want her all the way in, right under their thumbs. She pays the price for seeking escape and learns her lesson—she’ll never see a dawn where she wakes up free.

Then she meets Nick Sebring, and even as she fights it, the hope that died years ago starts to blossom. She can find love. She can have a man of her own. She can be happy. She can be free.

Olivia hopes while Nick schemes.

However, as Nick peels back the layers of all that is Olivia Shade, he finds something surprising. He understands its fragility. He falls in love with its beauty. He seeks to protect it.

But he forgets to protect his Livvie from one thing: Nick Sebring.

All good things must come to an end and Sebring marks the end of Kristen Ashley’s Unfinished Hero series. What a run it has been. “Unfinished” is a pale, bloodless word for her five unlikely heroes, men who are rough (even if their exterior is GQ), tortured, sometimes even feral. Creed and last year’s Deacon, left readers fixated on perpetual outsider Nick Sebring—would he ever come in from the cold? An underlying theme in all of Ashley’s stories is that families love and protect their own, even if the person on the receiving end feels deservedly undeserving. This is how Kristen Ashley describes her character.

Nick is Knight Sebring's younger brother.  He's very astute, but a jerk.  When Knight begins, he works in Slade, but his tendency to ignore work, do drugs, and party at Knight's home cause Knight to kick Nick out.  In Creed, he works as confidential informant for FBI on human trafficking operation.

[A story of family and two people find love through the turmoil ...]

Jan 7 2016 9:30am

Despair, Delight, and... A Yellow Dog?: Patricia Gaffney’s To Have and To Hold

To Have To Hold by Patricia Gaffney

Suave, cynical, and too handsome for his own good, Sebastian Verlaine never expects to become a magistrate judging the petty crimes of his tenants and neighbors. Nor can the new Viscount D’Aubrey foresee that, when a fallen woman appears before him, he’ll find himself beguiled against all reason to alter her terrible fate....

Rachel Wade has served time in prison for her husband’s violent death, but she soon discovers that freedom has its own price. For no one will offer her a second chance but a jaded viscount who needs a housekeeper. Scorned by the townspeople of Wyckerley as D’Aubrey’s mistress, tempted beyond her will by the devilish lord, Rachel risks all she had to claim a life of her own...and a love that will last for all time.

This book is one of the more polarizing within the romance community. It’s doubtful if it could be published today—according to an industry insider who agrees with that verdict, it’s a definite no, “unless it was by a heavy hitter and even then reviewers would likely call it out as being too old school.” Gaffney pulls no punches when she introduces readers to the dissolute viscount, Sebastian Verlaine. He says he's looking for a housekeeper—but the mistrustful townspeople think he wants a housekeeper “with benefits” … and who can blame them? Yet little by little, Gaffney transforms both of these characters through many of her trademark agonizingly tender moments.

[Just in need of someone to do some housework ...]

Dec 28 2015 10:00am

H&H Bloggers Recommend: Best Reads of 2015, Part 4

Playing By the Greek’s Rules by Sarah Morgan

Each month, we ask our bloggers to share the best thing they’ve read (or things, plural, if our bloggers declare a tie ’cause they just can’t choose). It doesn’t have to be a new book, as evidenced below; just something that made the month sparkle a bit more.

It's the end of the year now, and so we've asked them for their top three books that made the year in reading so memorable. Without further ado, here's Part 4 (of four parts) of our bloggers best reads of 2015—and don't forget to check out Part 1Part 2, and Part 3:

Miss Bates:

When H&H asked me to pick the best three romances I read in 2014, I agonized. I penned lists. I culled lists. I whittled lists. I wrote long- and short-lists. This year, my top three romances danced in my head like seasonal sugarplums! I knew exactly who they were and why I loved them. Here they are, in no particular order other than the mental sugarplum one.

Sarah Morgan’s Playing By the Greek’s Rules is a brilliant riff on the opposites-attract trope. Lily Rose, former-foster-child, waif-heroine is made of loving, empathetic steel. Her sunny ways and self-soothing personal philosophy break down the walls of Jericho around pragmatic, commitment-phobe hero Nik Zervakis’s heart.

[The final best reads of 2015 ...]

Nov 30 2015 3:00pm

First Look: Edith Layton’s Peaches and the Queen (November 30, 2015)

Peaches and the Queen by Edith Layton

Edith Layton
Peaches and the Queen
Untreed Reads / November 30, 2015 / $0.99 digital

Presenting a never-before-published, holiday short story from Regency author Edith Layton!

Christmas is coming to Victorian London. A poor boy living with his milliner sister in a marginal part of town discovers his cat is missing. His old dog can’t live without the cat, so he searches—and hears that the Queen has kidnapped his cat! Queen Victoria’s favorite moggie strayed, and her minions scooped up the wrong cat—or so the boy and his sister think.

This Christmas novella tells how an earnest young Beefeater, his world-weary superior, and one of the wiliest criminals in London each try to find the right cat without disturbing the old queen, win the boy’s cat back—and woo the pretty sister—before the Queen leaves London for her Christmas holiday.

From the servants at the palace and the Queen’s own chambers, to Billingsgate and the mudlarks’ favorite taverns, the adventures are many among the high- and low-life of Victorian London.

Is there anything more poignantly wonderful than reading an unknown Christmas novella from a favorite Regency novelist , a legendary writer who passed from our ranks far too early? Edith Layton’s Peaches and the Queen is an elegiac, surprising story. There are a number of protagonists, each looking for a very special moggie (that would be cat in British cant), which is unusual because the hallmark of a moggie is a cat that is decidedly ordinary: “a cat, especially one that does not have a pedigree or is otherwise unremarkable.”

[Here's a holiday novella from a legendary writer ...]

Nov 9 2015 4:30pm

First Look: Joanna Wylde’s Reaper’s Fall (November 10, 2015)

Reaper's Fall by Joanna Wylde

Joanna Wylde
Reaper's Fall (Reapers MC #5)
Berkley / November 10, 2015 / $16.00 print, $5.99 digital

He never meant to hurt her.

Levi “Painter” Brooks was nothing before he joined the Reapers motorcycle club. The day he patched in, they became his brothers and his life. All they asked in return was a strong arm and unconditional loyalty—a loyalty that’s tested when he’s caught and sentenced to prison for a crime committed on their behalf.

Melanie Tucker may have had a rough start, but along the way she’s learned to fight for her future. She’s escaped from hell and started a new life, yet every night she dreams of a biker whose touch she can’t forget. It all started out so innocently—just a series of letters to a lonely man in prison. Friendly. Harmless. Safe.

Now Painter Brooks is coming home… and Melanie’s about to learn that there’s no room for innocence in the Reapers MC.

Ordinarily books which open with a pivotal scene that totally grabs my interest and then grrrrr go backward in time are not my thing but Joanna Wylde has a way. A way of making me want everything she has to give about her characters, any way she wants to deliver. A lot of us have been waiting for Melanie and Painter’s story. Here they are!

First, here is Painter in his element:

I love fighting. Not just winning, but the rush of energy, the sweetness of the pain, and the incredible focus that hits when your entire existence narrows to one moment of terrible purpose. It’s primal and beautiful, and it’s never felt better than it did in the instant Melanie’s new boyfriend went down.

In a way, Melanie and Painter’s relationship was always a cliché. The naïve teenager crushing on the hot older bad boy: sound familiar? Melanie was young when she met Painter and he was kind to her in a way that was not easily forgotten. He let her borrow his car when he was in prison, and it was only natural that she wrote to him while he was there. Things get interesting when he’s released.

[The hot older guy is home ...]

Nov 4 2015 5:00pm

First Look: Nicola Cornick’s House of Shadows (November 5, 2015)

House of Shadows by Nicola Cornick

Nicola Cornick
House of Shadows 
MIRA / November 5, 2015 (UK) / £7.99 print, £4.99 digital

London, 1662:

There was something the Winter Queen needed to tell him. She fought for the strength to speak. ‘The crystal mirror is a danger. It must be destroyed – ‘ He replied instantly. ‘It will’.

Ashdown, Oxfordshire, present day: Ben Ansell is researching his family tree when he disappears. As his sister Holly begins a desperate search, she finds herself inexplicably drawn to an ornate antique mirror and to the diary of Lavinia, a 19th century courtesan who was living at Ashdown House when it burned to the ground over 200 years ago.

Intrigued, and determined to find out more about the tragedy at Ashdown, Holly’s only hope is that uncovering the truth about the past will lead her to Ben.

For fans of Barbara Erskine and Kate Morton comes an unforgettable novel about three women and the power one lie can have over history.

Editor's Note: Sorry to our U.S. readers, our Anglophilia continues, House of Shadows is only available to U.K. readers...or those with connections (and Amazon accounts) across the pond! 

A little background before we dive in: House of Shadows crosses three times periods; 17th Century, 19th and the present day. It concerns the lives of three women who are all, in some way, connected to Ashdown House in Oxfordshire (which is now a National Trust Estate where Nicola Cornick volunteers as a guide and local historian). The book investigates the true story of Elizabeth Stuart, the Winter Queen. Part mystery thriller and part historical romance, House of Shadows explores how one lie can impact the course of history. 

[Time can't define love ...]

Oct 16 2015 1:00pm

Count Down to Christmas with The Last Chance Christmas Ball Anthology

The Last Chance Christmas Ball by Mary Jo Putney, Jo Beverley, Joanna Bourn, Patricia Rice, Anne Gracie, Susan King, Cara Elliott, and Nicola Cornick

The Word Wenches, comprised of historical authors Mary Jo Putney, Jo Beverley, Joanna Bourne, Patricia Rice, Anne Gracie, Susan King, Cara Elliott, and Nicola Cornick, invite you to a Christmas Ball at Holbourne Abbey.

Book description: Christmas 1815. Upstairs and downstairs, Holbourne Hall is abuzz with preparations for a grand ball to celebrate the year’s most festive—and romantic—holiday. For at the top of each guest’s wish list is a last chance to find true love before the New Year…

A chance meeting beneath the mistletoe, a stolen glance across the dance floor—amid the sumptuous delicacies, glittering decorations, and swell of the orchestra, every duchess and debutante, lord and lackey has a hopeful heart. There’s the headstrong heiress who must win back her beloved by midnight—or be wed to another….the spinster whose fateful choice to relinquish love may hold one more surprise for her…a widow yearning to glimpse her long-lost love for even one sweet, fleeting interlude …a charming rake who finds far more than he bargained for. And many other dazzling, romantic tales in this star-studded collection that will fill your heart and spice up your holidays…

What is it about the Christmas holidays that set lonely hearts to beating hopefully? Each story in The Last Chance Christmas Ball explores a different aspect of a holiday romance.

[Traditional Christmases aren't all that bad ...]

Sep 28 2015 3:30pm

First Look: Cassie Mae’s Doing It for Love (September 29, 2015)

Doing It For Love by Cassie Mae

Cassie Mae
Doing It for Love (All About Love #1) 
Loveswept / September 29, 2015 / $2.99 digital

Cassie Mae’s charming, sexy new novel, perfect for fans of Emma Chase, puts a steamy twist on modern love as one bride-to-be tries to put the spark back in the bedroom—by any means necessary.

Elizabeth Fanning’s life looks pretty perfect, judging by the diamond ring on her finger. Her fiancé, Landon, is sweet, handsome, and hilarious. The trouble is, before they’ve even tied the knot, their sex life has gone from mind-blowing to “meh”—and Liz isn’t ready to be part of an old married couple. After a cathartic call to her best friend, Liz comes up with a brilliant idea. She and Landon may never be able to re-create the magic of their first time, but how amazing would their wedding night be if everything below the neck was off-limits until then?

Liz thinks it’ll bring them closer together. Landon’s convinced she’ll cave first. So they raise the stakes: Whoever lasts longer gets to pick their honeymoon destination. With her heart set on the Bahamas and Landon fighting for snowbound Utah, Liz simply has to win. But pretty soon, her body is screaming for attention, and Landon’s never seemed so far away. Has Liz’s experiment backfired? Losing their little competition would be frustrating—but the one thing she can’t afford to lose is him.

It isn’t often that I’m surprised when I read a book—really surprised—but Cassie Mae's Doing It for Love pulled out all the stops. Liz and Landon are for real. They’re young, they’re struggling, their friend circle is their companions from childhood and college, they have no money, and they’re in love. Landon’s just pretending to be a struggling film maker: he can tap into his trust fund whenever he wants, right? Same with Liz, she isn’t really working at the Bed, Bath, and Beyond to earn her share of the rent, no, she’s doing it for existential reasons that have yet to be revealed.

[Liz is her own woman who happens to meet Landon ...]

Sep 16 2015 1:00pm

Farewell to The ’Burg: Celebrating Hold On by Kristen Ashley

Hold On by Kristen Ashley

Hold On, the last of Kristen Ashley’s 'Burg series, has everything that readers have come to know, love, expect–and then some–from this classic American heartland series. A quick reminder of the titles of the preceding books: For You #1, At Peace #2, Golden Trail #3, Games of the Heart #4, and The Promise #5. Do the characters from the earlier books appear in Hold On? Of course. Cher Rivers is a bartender at J&J’s Saloon, working for February Owens (For You) and Garrett Merrick’s sister is Raquel Merrick (heroine of Golden Trail). Cher doesn’t just work in a bar where everyone knows your name, and your business, and your past, there are precious few secrets in the whole 'Burg. One secret Cher has managed, she thinks, to keep close to her heart is her passion, crush, whatever you want to call it, for detective Garrett Merrick. Why would she share something that has so many strikes against it? If anyone knows all the good ones are taken, it’s Cher. That what she thinks to herself when Merry drowns his sorrows one night because his ex-wife Mia got herself engaged … it’s the story of Cher’s life.

I was around when every decent man in the 'Burg got nailed down and happily allowed the ball and chain to be clamped around their ankle. And that meant I was around, and Mia Merrick was around, seeing all that and waiting for Merry to make his play to get the wife everyone that that 'Burg said he loved more than anything back in his bed.

Hold On has a couple who are surprising together for very good reasons. What do the sadder-but-wiser bartender and the perpetual partying divorced guy have in common? Other than friendship and an ease in each other’s company? After they cap off an evening of knocking back fifty dollar shots of the finest Scotch in the bar by going to bed, they have a night together on the ledger. It’s the morning after and Cher knows the drill.

We fucked, we did it wild, and we did it for a long, long time.

And now it was morning, I felt like I had twenty seconds of sleep, and he was up before me, quietly dressing.

It had been a while, but I knew the drill. I knew those careful sounds he was making.

He didn’t want to wake me up.

[A one-night stand isn't suppose to leave you longing ...]

Sep 9 2015 12:30pm

All Hail the Queen: British Royalty in Fiction and Romance from Twain to Mulry, and in Between!

Lord of My Heart by Jo Beverley

As of today, Wednesday, September 9, 2015 at approximately 5:30 p.m. local UK time, Queen Elizabeth II will have reigned longer than Queen Victoria. That is, she will surpass Queen Victoria’s 63 years and 217 days on the British throne and bear the new title of longest reigning British monarch. If media interest in this once-in-a-couple-centuries occurrence is any indication, we are fascinated by the British monarchy. This is also true in fiction. Starting with William the Conqueror and culminating with a fictional British royal family, I have culled some books that Anglophiles and those with an interest in the British royals may enjoy. 

William the Conqueror and his wife Matilda have much in common with the lord and lady of Jo Beverley’s Lord of My Heart. Both couples straddle their native and new loyalties in order to build a new Britain. Even if they were resistant to change, the king is all powerful. Aimery de Gaillard is part English, part Norman, and King William’s godson. William knows that Aimery’s loyalties are convoluted; that he will have no part in oppressing native Britons. That tension is clear when the king asks him to kneel.

The king’s open-handed blow rocked him and made his head ring, but it was relief that made him dizzy. This was fatherly discipline, not regal.

William’s underlying message to Aimery is unmistakable.

Step beyond the line and you will be punished, beloved godson or no; punished exactly as your crime deserves.

[Long reign royalty...]

Aug 31 2015 4:30pm

First Look: Mary Balogh’s Only a Kiss (September 1, 2015)

Only A Kiss by Mary Balogh

Mary Balogh
Only a Kiss (The Survivors' Club #6)
Signet / September 1, 2015 / $7.99 print, $5.99 digital

The Survivors’ Club: Six men and one woman, injured in the Napoleonic Wars, their friendships forged in steel and loyalty. But for one, her trials are not over....

Since witnessing the death of her husband during the wars, Imogen, Lady Barclay, has secluded herself in the confines of Hardford Hall, their home in Cornwall. The new owner has failed to take up his inheritance, and Imogen desperately hopes he will never come to disturb her fragile peace.

Percival Hayes, Earl of Hardford, has no interest in the wilds of Cornwall, but when he impulsively decides to pay a visit to his estate there, he is shocked to discover that it is not the ruined heap he had expected. He is equally shocked to find the beautiful widow of his predecessor’s son living there.

Soon Imogen awakens in Percy a passion he has never thought himself capable of feeling. But can he save her from her misery and reawaken her soul? And what will it mean for him if he succeeds?

How many times have we met a couple that hate at first sight? And how many times has that hate jolted a man and a woman out of the placid, predictable half-life they’ve been living? So it is when Imogen, Lady Barclay, sees a man on her doorstep who is “absolutely, knee-weakeningly handsome.” But her second impression is that he is “impatient and insufferably arrogant” and Percy’s first words to Imogen leave no room for doubt.

He turned, looked at her, looked pointedly at the door behind her, which she had shut, and looked back at her with raised, perfectly arched eyebrows.

“And who the devil might you be?” he asked.”

[Second impressions are in order...]

Aug 27 2015 12:00pm

Summertime Is Anthology-time: Regency Anthologies Make Reading Easy!

Dancing in The Duke's Arms: A Regency Romance Anthology by Grace Burrowes, Shana Galen, Carolyn Jewel, and Miranda Neville

Growing up, summer was the time to go to the library and load up on staggering piles of books. I always took as many out as the librarian would allow … and week after week, read my heart out. Sadly, real life has a way of intervening and it’s hard to find the time to read piles of books, even in the summer. But there’s a solution … one that’s made to order for bibliophiles—the vacation anthology.

Regency anthologies are often centered on holiday festivities: I’ve been known to read them in the heat of summer! But Regency short stories with a summer setting are available too—and what a terrific way to get a taste of new authors. Plus summer opens the door to so many activities and pleasures that are worlds away from trimming a tree or having a snowball fight. Regency summers are a time of rowing races, cricket, exploring the woods with children, building sand castles, and catching glimpses of the Prince Regent in his favored playground of Brighton, to name a few diversions.

Four well-known writers (Grace Burrowes, Shana Galen, Carolyn Jewel, and Miranda Neville) recently collaborated on Dancing in The Duke's Arms: A Regency Romance Anthology. The book description asks the question,

Why Do Dukes Fall in Love? Every summer the cream of society gathers at the Dukeries, named for the ducal estates concentrated in one small corner of Nottinghamshire. While the entertainments include parties, balls, and a famous boat race, the ducal hosts and their guests find heartbreak, love and happy endings.

[A win for all 4 ladies...]

Aug 6 2015 10:00am

Small-Town Fairy Godmothers: Fairy Tale Parallels Found in Sara Arden’s Finding Glory

Finding Glory by Sara Arden

Finding Glory is a fairy-tale of a romance, starting with a key element of any self-respecting fairy-tale: the fairy godmothers. Gina’s grandmother Maudine tells her friend, fellow-grandmother, and presiding judge Helga to “sentence” Gina and Reed to marriage rather than have them fight over child support and custody issues, saying,

“I just know what’s best for Gina. That’s why we started the Grandmothers, right? To put our life experience to good use.” Maudine nodded.

Gina and Reed are toast once the Grandmothers decide to micro-manage their reunion. The older ladies, operating from a place of long-sighted concern and they-know-best for the young folks, decide that if Gina and Reed co-parent Amanda Jane as “pretend” newlyweds, love will blossom.

Another tale, Beauty and the Beast, comes to mind. Beast is angry, misunderstood, aggrieved, and he has a massive chip on his massive shoulder. So does Reed. Reed had a rough start in life, he descended into drug addiction but through calculated choices and dint of hard work, he amasses a business empire. What does every billionaire do after he makes his pile? He goes home again. Why. To show off? To resolve old lingering problems? In Reed’s case, it is to meet his unknown-to-him daughter and face a child-support case.

Then under that anger, all the old pain, the old doubt—all the baggage associated with the old Reed—surfaced. He was very much that same kid again who wanted so desperately to be enough.

But something akin to longing vied for top tier when he saw Gina sitting there next to her grandmother. Beautiful, innocent Gina with her ethereal pale skin, her cloud of dark hair and her soft pink lips that always had a smile for him.

[What's life without fairy tales?]

Aug 4 2015 8:30am

First Look: Grace Burrowes’s Tremaine’s True Love (August 4, 2015)

Tremaine's True Love by Grace Burrowes

Grace Burrowes
Tremaine's True Love (True Gentlemen #1)
Sourcebooks Casablance / August 4, 2015 / $7.99 print & digital

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Grace Burrowes introduces a brand new gorgeous Regency Romance series featuring the Haddonfield ladies and their loves.

He's had everything he could ever want...until now
Wealthy wool magnate Tremaine St. Michael is half French, half Scottish, and all business. He prowls the world in search of more profits, rarely settling in one place for long. When he meets practical, reserved Lady Nita Haddonfield, he sees an opportunity to mix business with pleasure by making the lady his own.

Nita Haddonfield has a meaningful life tending to others, though nobody is dedicated to caring for Nita. She insists the limitations of marriage aren't for her, then Tremaine St. Michael arrives-protective, passionate, and very, very determined to win Nita's heart.

The uniquely talented Grace Burrowes’s approaches her story telling with a style that sets her apart. The opening scene of Tremaine’s True Love plunges the reader into the story.

“The greatest plague ever to bedevil mortal man, the greatest threat to his peace, the most fiendish source of undeserved humility is his sister, and spinster sisters are the worst of a bad lot.” In the corridor outside the formal parlor, Nicholas, Earl of Bellefonte, sounded very certain of his point.

...“My lord, you have a visitor.”

Hanford’s pronouncement came off a little desperately but had the effect of silencing his lordship’s lament. Quiet words were exchanged beyond the door, giving Tremaine St. Michael time to step away from the parlor’s cozy fireplace, where he’d been shamelessly warming a personal attribute of his own formerly frozen to the saddle.”

[True love is a journey...]

Jul 26 2015 9:30am

First Look: Emilie Richards’s The Color of Light (July 28, 2015)

The Color of Light by Emilie Richards

Emilie Richards
The Color of Light
Mira / July 28, 2015 / $14.95 print, $7.99 digital

The deeper the darkness, the brighter the light

For more than a decade minister Analiese Wagner has felt privileged to lead her parishioners along a well-lit path. Her commitment has never been seriously tested until the frigid night she encounters a homeless family huddling in the churchyard. Offering them shelter in a vacant parish house apartment and taking teenage Shiloh Fowler—a girl desperate to rescue her parents—under her wing, she tests the loyalty and faith of her congregation.

Isaiah Colburn, the Catholic priest who was her first mentor and the man she secretly longed for, understands her struggles only too well. At a crossroads, he's suddenly reappeared in her life, torn between his priesthood and his growing desire for a future with Analiese.

Divided between love and vows they've taken, both must face the possibilities of living very different lives or continuing to serve their communities. With a defeated family's trust and her own happiness on the line, Analiese must define for herself where darkness ends and light begins.

Emilie Richards' The Color of Light illuminates the journey of three solitary characters, all responsible to and for others, as they come together in a complicated, heartfelt pattern. Analiese ministers to a privileged community, she’s daughter, sister, and servant—but has she ever had to guide her congregation so Biblically before? Shiloh is a homeless teenager, a daughter turned parent. She’s wise, wary, and vulnerable—can she learn to trust again? Isaiah, the priest at the crossroads: how can he create a way forward that allows him to integrate everything he believes in and loves?

[Bankrupt on happiness...]

Jul 2 2015 8:30am

Opposites Attract, For Real: Alexis Hall’s Compelling Couple

For Real by Alexis Hall

Note: Alexis Hall, on top of being a top-notch writer, has also blogged for Heroes and Heartbreakers. 

A new book by Alexis Hall, with characters that move seamlessly between London and Oxford, is something to be celebrated. The description of the plot reads like opposites attract? They’re from different generations and it seems like their life experiences have nothing in common. Really all they share, seemingly, is their sexual preferences—is that how the relationship between Laurie and Toby will play out?

During malaise-filled mental meanderings, Laurie connects his distaste with the Scene to a quote from Anthony Powell,

“The image of Time brought thoughts of mortality: of human beings...moving hand in hand in intricate measure...while partners disappear only to reappear again, once more giving pattern to the spectacle: unable to control the melody, unable, perhaps, to control the steps of the dance.”

And thought: Yes, that. Nothing but a dance to the music of time. As meaningless as it was ultimately unchanging.

At a kinky party, Laurie encounters Toby, a “skinny nineteen-year-old with his adolescence still written on his skin” and this changes the ennui-filled pattern of Laurie’s emotional life dramatically. Toby tells Laurie that he wants him—wants him as a Dom wants a “strong, hot, powerful, man” who submits “because he wants to and because I want him to.” Laurie invites Toby to go home with him but he is concerned enough about the disparities between them to halt the proceedings and talk. It’s a funny rambling conversation and Toby has Laurie, concerned that he’s stepping into cougar territory, dead to rights. Toby wants Laurie, it’s that simple. He’s “amused and exasperated” with Laurie’s quibbles.

[Toby falls for a powerful Dom and he just can't stop falling...]