<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." <i>Make Me Stay</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Make Me Stay: Exclusive Excerpt Jaci Burton "She wants a real, permanent, forever kind of love." <i>Midnight Wrangler</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Midnight Wrangler: Exclusive Excerpt Cat Johnson "He thought about doing more than kissing her." <i>For His Pleasure</i>: Exclusive Excerpt For His Pleasure: Exclusive Excerpt Suzanne Rock “Stop worrying and enjoy the moment.”
From The Blog
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
November 18, 2015
Romantic Suspense to Get Your Heart Racing
Dolly Sickles
Showing posts by: Janet Webb click to see Janet Webb's profile
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...]

Jun 29 2015 12:00pm

First Look: V.K. Sykes’s Summer at the Shore (June 30, 2015)

Summer at the Shore by V.K. Sykes

V.K. Sykes 
Summer at the Shore (Seashell Bay #2)
Forever / June 30, 2015 / $6.00 print, $5.99 digital


Morgan Merrifield sacrificed her teaching career to try to save her family's bed-and-breakfast and care for her younger sister. She can't let herself get distracted by Ryan Butler. After all, the rugged ex-Special Forces soldier is only in Seashell Bay for the summer. But her longtime crush soon flares into real desire—and with one irresistible kiss, she's swept away.

Ryan values his freedom. As much as he wants Morgan, he's not ready to settle down with anyone, much less in sleepy Seashell Bay. But his code of honor doesn't allow him to leave a woman in distress—and she's in desperate need of help to fix the inn. It only takes one day working under the same roof and Ryan is already hoping for a lifetime of hot summer nights...

Or is he? It’s clear that Ryan is hoping for at least a couple months of hot summer nights and Morgan is partially on the same page, but...it’s the eternal conflict: Ryan and Morgan are wrestling with “can you go home again?” versus “there’s no place like home.” It looks like an either/or proposition and that’s not what either one wants. Morgan loves teaching off island, Ryan secretly hopes to train Special Forces warriors: how does that mesh with happily ever after on a Maine island? Morgan is about to find out. The bed and breakfast she and her sister Sabrina inherited from their dad needs a lot more than tender, loving care and Ryan steps up to offer an in-house handyman’s skills. Does Morgan have the fortitude to resist Ryan’s charms?

Ryan was almost a James Bond or Jason Bourne type of guy, a crazy-hot mystery man who did wild, top secret stuff he never talked about. He acted like a normal guy when he was home, except for the sky-high emotional walls he’d erected around himself. Ryan never talked about himself or his life. If that didn’t spell danger, she didn’t know what did.

And now she’d flat-out invited Mr. Sexy Mystery Man into her life. Into her home.

[A summer near water is always sexy...]

Jun 25 2015 4:15pm

First Look: RaeAnne Thayne’s Redemption Bay (June 30, 2015)

Redemption Bay by RaeAnne Thayne

RaeAnne Thayne
Redemption Bay (Haven Point #2)
Harlequin / June 30, 2015 / $7.99 print, $6.49 digital

New York Times bestselling author RaeAnne Thayne brings you back to Haven Point—a place made for second chances…

McKenzie Shaw would do anything for her beloved hometown of Haven Point. It may be small and struggling, but it's never let her down…unlike gorgeous, infuriating Ben Kilpatrick. He was her childhood hero until he closed his family's factory, leaving the town's economy in shambles. Now he's back—his tech firm is considering opening a local facility. For Haven Point's sake, McKenzie has to grit her teeth and play nice.

What could a town filled with painful memories ever offer Ben? He left Haven Point behind years ago, for good reason. Yet seeing the town through the eyes of McKenzie—its fiery young mayor—he suddenly has his answer. If only he can resolve the animosity crackling between them, Ben may have found the place where he can build ties and find healing…a place where love arrives when it's least expected.

Redemption Bay by RaeAnne Thayne is not a friends to lovers story, it’s a “school days crush turned into crushing hate and now he’s back in town” story. Here’s Haven Point’s mayor McKenzie’s reaction when her sister tells her that Ben Kilpatrick is back.

Ben Kilpatrick. The only person on earth she could honestly say she despised. She picked up the knife and stabbed it through the lemon, wishing it was his cold, black heart.

[Ben is back and instantly the attraction begins...]

Jun 18 2015 1:15pm

E.L. James’s Grey Discussion Thread (MAJOR SPOILERS)

E.L. James's Grey spoiler thread banner

Grey by E.L. James

Only two and a half weeks after learning that E.L. James would be publishing Grey, Christian's perspective of the events in Fifty Shades of Grey, here we are with the book in our hands/e-readers and ready to discuss!

With that in mind, allow us to present, as a conversation-starter, H&H blogger Janet Webb's spoilerrific impressions of the newly released book. We hope you'll share your own observations in the comments!

Note: This post is made up ENTIRELY of SPOILERS and is intended only as a place for fans to gather and discuss the book AFTER reading it, so if you have yet to finish, steer clear of anything after the jump. Go finish the book, then come back. (There’s a non-spoiler-y roundtable speculating on Grey here to whet your appetite, not to mention all our Fifty Shades content. And if you just want to talk the Fifty Shades of Grey movie, we have a reaction post here.)




***LAST CHANCE: Seriously, leave this post now if you haven’t finished GreyThis is a post to discuss the entire book.***

[You've been warned. Read on for SPOILERS for Grey by E. L. James...]

Jun 10 2015 3:30pm

Go with the Flow: Mary Balogh’s Passive Heroes

Snow Angel by Mary Balogh

Before launching into a discussion of Balogh’s passive heroes, I’d like to showcase the opposite. There are many examples of Mary Balogh’s pro-active heroes—Edmund of The Notorious Rake, Gerald, the consummate beta hero of A Precious Jewel and Wulfric, the unforgettable duke of Slightly Dangerous—but not every Mary Balogh hero falls into this category.  

A perceptive reviewer I follow on Goodreads, Ilze, noted recently that Mary Balogh also writes about a different sort of hero: a passive hero. She kindly gave me permission to share her impressions. After a re-read of Balogh’s Snow Angel, when she lowered her rating from 5 stars to 4, Ilze said:

The love story is good, but I now realize that the main characters of the story, Justin and Rosamund, the ones who meet up and fall in love while spending a couple of days snowbound in a cozy hunting lodge, are not actually the hero and heroine of the story. 

The hero and heroine of the story, in the sense that they are the ones who make the final HEA ending possible, are Annabelle, who is Justin's almost-betrothed and Rosamund's niece, and Josh, a friend of Justin and a relative of Annabelle and Rosamund, who was wounded in the battle of Waterloo. Without the actions of Josh and Annabelle, Justin would have gone ahead with his engagement to Annabelle, even though he realizes that Rosamund is the “second half” of his soul, and lived to regret it bitterly for the rest of his life. Justin is strangely passive in all the events that take place during the house party where the betrothal is supposed to be announced, so I can't really call him the “hero” of this story.”

[Meet more of Mary Balogh's passive heroes...]

May 24 2015 1:00pm

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?]

May 22 2015 10:00am

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...]

May 19 2015 8:30am

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...]

Apr 7 2015 3:30pm

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...]