<i>Tangled</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Tangled: Exclusive Excerpt Kate Douglas "The need was so primal, so visceral, it left her shaken..." <i>The Girl from Summer Hill</i>: Exclusive Excerpt The Girl from Summer Hill: Exclusive Excerpt Jude Deveraux "He stood there staring at her, saying nothing..." <i>Wicked Heart</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Wicked Heart: Exclusive Excerpt Leisa Rayven "I think if I kissed you right now, we’d barely make it through..." <i>Much Ado About Highlanders</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Much Ado About Highlanders: Exclusive Excerpt May McGoldrick "Violet-blue eyes stared at him with disbelief that quickly..."
From The Blog
April 29, 2016
Captain America vs. Iron Man: Which Side Are You On?
Pen Singleton and Sahara Hoshi
April 28, 2016
At Home: Julian Fellowes’ Belgravia, Episode 4
Naz Keynejad
April 28, 2016
Why Prince Songs Make a Perfect Soundtrack for Romance Novels
Abigail Strom
April 28, 2016
Best Reads of April 2016
Team H & H
April 25, 2016
Love, Lies, and Spies: Teen Regency Done Right
Carol Malcolm
Showing posts by: Janet Webb click to see Janet Webb's profile
Tue
Apr 26 2016 5:00pm

First Look: Susan Mallery’s Best of My Love (April 26, 2016)

Best of My Love by Susan Mallery

Susan Mallery
Best of My Love (Fool’s Gold #20) 
HQN Books / April 26, 2016 / $8.99 print, $6.99 digital

Can a man and a woman just be friends? And that doesn’t mean “friends with benefits.” Aiden and Shelby have every reason to get off the dating treadmill: Aiden because he’s been accurately labeled as the town hound dog, and more importantly, he’s learned that his carefree approach to dating transient tourists has caused pain to more than his reputation. An old flame returned to see him and Aiden couldn’t remember her name. As he tells Shelby,

“I didn’t like what I saw in her face. I’m sorry I hurt her. I’m sorry I’ve become that kind of guy. I want to do better. I have to change. I never meant to hurt anybody. That was the point. No one was supposed to get hurt.”

Shelby doesn’t trust men. She has horrific memories of her brutal father which have left her unable to lower her guard with men who might be romantic partners for her. Given that she wants to get married some day and have children, she has to conquer her fear of men before dating again.

Aiden and Shelby are two of the most organized protagonists ever. Aiden runs a year-round outdoor adventure program that caters to novices and outdoor experts alike. It may seem relaxed and spontaneous to participants, but Aiden is a careful, cautious, hands-on CEO. Likewise baker Shelby lives on a tight schedule, getting up early every day to produce delicious treats for her appreciative fans in town.

[Can two type-A personalities make it work? ...]

Mon
Apr 25 2016 4:45pm

First Look: Stephanie Laurens’ A Buccaneer at Heart (April 26, 2016)

A Buccaneer at Heart by Stephanie Laurens

Stephanie Laurens 
A Buccaneer at Heart (The Adventurers Quartet #2)
Mira / April 26, 2016 / $7.99 print, $6.49 digital

After a decade leading diplomatic voyages and covert missions for the Crown, Captain Robert Frobisher decides that establishing a home—with hearth and wife—should be his next challenge. But when an urgent summons arrives, Robert puts his wishes aside and agrees to set sail immediately. His goal is clear: get to Freetown, determine the location of a slavers' camp and return to London with the information.

In Freetown, Miss Aileen Hopkins is determined to find her brother Will, a naval lieutenant who has mysteriously disappeared, and she will not allow anyone to turn her from her path. But all too quickly, that path grows dark and dangerous. And then Robert Frobisher appears and attempts to divert her in more ways than one.

Joining forces with Aileen, Robert vows to complete his mission and secure the woman he wants as his wife. Compelled to protect the innocent and bring retribution to a heartless enemy, they plunge into the jungle with only each other to rely on, and with the courage of their hearts as their guide.

Imagine you’re playing Stephanie Laurens’ BINGO. A guaranteed cover for a BINGO square is the entrance on the page of a duke. A duke’s pervasive, persuasive influence and implicit power, almost always presages a request (from the duke) and acquiescence (from whomever the duke is inveigling). So it is no wonder that when Captain Robert Frobisher, newly returned to London and taking his ease in Piccadilly, spots a black carriage, “premonition swept cool fingers across his nape.” The gentleman who steps out of his carriage “with languid grace” is His Grace, the Duke of Wolverstone. Wolverstone, a.k.a. Dalziel, and Viscount Melville, First Lord of the Admiralty, waylay Frobisher in order to ask him to assist the government with a troublesome situation in Africa. Says Melville,

[Says what... says what?!]

Mon
Apr 11 2016 1:30pm

First Look: Nora Roberts’s The Obsession (April 12, 2016)

The Obsession by Nora Roberts

Nora Roberts
The Obsession 
Berkley / April 12, 2016 / $28.00 print, $14.99 digital

Naomi Bowes lost her innocence the night she followed her father into the woods. In freeing the girl trapped in the root cellar, Naomi revealed the horrible extent of her father’s crimes and made him infamous.

Now a successful photographer living under the name Naomi Carson, she has found a place that calls to her, thousands of miles away from everything she’s ever known. Naomi wants to embrace the solitude, but the residents of Sunrise Cove keep forcing her to open up—especially the determined Xander Keaton.

Naomi can feel her defenses failing, and knows that the connection her new life offers is something she’s always secretly craved. But as she’s learned time and again, her past is never more than a nightmare away.

If there’s a quality shared by romance readers from every side, it’s an obsession with prolific doyenne of romance, Nora Roberts. If she were English, it’s a guarantee we’d be tipping our hats or curtseying to Dame Nora, so, without further ado, I give you The Obsession by La Nora.

[Let's obsess over this new Roberts ...]

Tue
Apr 5 2016 4:30pm

First Look: Maggie McGinnis’s Heart Like Mine (April 5, 2016)

Heart Like Mine by Maggie McGinnis

Maggie McGinnis
Heart Like Mine (Echo Lake #2)
St. Martin's Press / April 5, 2016 / $7.99 print & digital

Delaney Blair loves her job at Echo Lake's Mercy Hospital, where she's developed a reputation for being smart, fair, and driven. When she's assigned to cut funding, she has to temporarily relocate her office, put on borrowed scrubs, and go toe-to-toe with Dr. Joshua Mackenzie, the interim head of the pediatrics department. His killer smile and rock-star body are distractions Delaney could do without, but she's determined to stay focused while she brings his budget into line. It's not working.

Beloved by his colleagues and patients alike, Josh is too busy caring for sick kids to talk numbers with the sexy, stiletto-clad Delaney. Every time they talk business, tensions run high…but so does a powerful attraction neither of them can ignore. When an emergency brings Mercy to its knees, Delaney and Josh must work together to save lives. But can they also find a way into each other's hearts?

A Heart Like Mine by Maggie McGinnis has a bedrock realism that permeates its pages. Perhaps it’s the rural Vermont setting, or maybe the undeniable difficulties small town hospitals are experiencing these days. UST (unresolved sexual tension) is present from the first moment financial executive Delaney Blair meets with Dr. Joshua Mackenzie but so is the elephant in the room: the proposed budget cuts to the Mercy hospital pediatrics department Delaney is asked to develop. This was never going to be easy.

Such was the fate of small-town hospitals everywhere, but in rural Vermont, it was even more pronounced. With Boston—and its corral of high-powered hospitals—sitting mere hours away, wealthier, well-insured patients could chose to drive the extra hours for care. That left smaller hospitals like Mercy picking up emergencies and fighting for dollars from a rural population that struggled to make ends meet.

[Let's roll around with these numbers ...]

Sun
Apr 3 2016 1:30pm

First Look: Joan Wolf’s The Reluctant Earl (April 5, 2016)

The Reluctant Earl by Joan Wolf

Joan Wolf
The Reluctant Earl
Ten Talents Press / April 5, 2016 / $3.99 digital

The Reluctant Earl is the story of Claire and Simon, who desperately want to get married despite all the obstacles that stand in their way. Their biggest hurdle is the fact that Simon is the son and heir of the Earl of Welbourne, while Claire is the daughter of the earl’s Irish horse trainer. The youngsters are keenly aware that their parents would violently oppose such an unequal union—which is precisely why they never confide in those parents.

Then there is Simon’s father, who, for reasons Simon has never understood, clearly hates his son. Then there is the mystery of Simon’s mother’s death, and the fact that he has never met a single member of her family. Then a miracle happens - Simon learns about a trust fund left to him in his mother’s marriage settlement.

Once the money is in his pocket, Simon and Claire decide to elope; and the simmering pot that is Welbourne Abbey and its inhabitants explodes.

A new Regency story by Joan Wolf is always a cause for celebration—how much more so when the plot mirrors one of Wolf’s most beloved stories, A London Season, published in 1981. It has been 35 years since Lady Jane Fitzmaurice fell in love with her childhood friend David Chance. Like Claire’s father Liam O’Rourke, David is a gifted horse trainer. In both The Reluctant Earl and A London Season, childhood friends and horse-mad companions naturally, seamlessly fall in love, totally focused on each other and their future.

Here are Claire and Simon as adolescents, viewed through Liam O’Rourke’s eyes.

[Joan Wolf is back with a childhood love story ...]

Thu
Mar 31 2016 2:30pm

First Look: Jo Beverley’s The Viscount Needs a Wife (April 5, 2016)

The Viscount Needs a Wife by Jo Beverley

Jo Beverley
The Viscount Needs a Wife (Company of Rogues #17)
Signet / April 5, 2016 / $7.99 print & digital

Since being widowed two years ago, Kitty Cateril has been trapped in her late husband's home, where she is expected to mourn forever. Desperate to escape, Kitty will consider any option—even a hasty marriage to a stranger with no intention of abandoning his bachelor ways.

London life suits Beau Braydon, especially his work keeping Britain safe. So when he inherits the title of Viscount Dauntry, he has no intention of resettling on a rural estate. He can’t resist the opportunity to marry a sensible widow who can manage Beauchamp Abbey for him—until he realizes Kitty is more than he bargained for...

Before Kitty and Dauntry can adjust to each other, a threat to the royal family takes them to London. Soon someone is determined to prevent Dauntry from exposing the villain, and secrets in Kitty's past threaten their growing love...

It is a testament to Jo Beverley’s maturity as a writer—perhaps bolstered by the certitude that her appreciative readership will follow where she leads—that her characters move in and around the aristocracy without necessarily aspiring to be a part of it. Beverley’s Rogue World has always included gentlemen whose names ends with esquire, even if they mostly have antecedents in the Upper Ten Thousand. Her Rogues run the gamut of horse-mad squires on bucolic estates to high-flying urbanites on the London scene.

[The return of the Rogue ...]

Sun
Feb 21 2016 1:00pm

Love Like the Movies in Cassie Mae’s No Interest in Love

No Interest in Love by Cassie Mae

If there’s a sure-fire romantic comedy trope, it’s the road trip. It comes complete with shared skuzzy bedrooms in flea-trap motels, money difficulties, hard-fast deadlines that have to be met, and, most importantly, a seemingly incompatible couple thrown together and forced to make the best of it. No Interest in Love, the second in Cassie Mae’s All About Love series, references movies and television shows, particularly Neil Patrick Harris’s How I Met Your Mother. The fast paced story, which unfolds during a grueling cross-country marathon from LA to Alabama, highlights Mae’s deft use of modern slang and social mores to underpin her characters’ inner dialog and concerns.

No Interest in Love is Jace’s story, and the reader follows and comes to understand the world through his POV. High school is a trial for most people, but it is almost unendurable for a dyslexic teenager. When Jace overhears Sonya, the object of his fifteen-year-old desires, and the person who reads out loud to him, put him down to her friends, he crafts an original, impenetrable blueprint for life.

I turned on to How I Met Your Mother, and the particular episode playing, “The Playbook,” became the foundation to my life’s goals.

See, I was a scrawny teenager who couldn’t read and so I was an asshole to everyone because they couldn’t possibly understand. After seeing that episode, I started jotting down my own Playbook—a list of “characters” I can choose to be whenever the hell I want. I was the smart nerd one day, a football player the next, the mysterious artistic dude or the obnoxious clown. My life became a movie, and everyone in it became actors in a script with constant plot twists. Instead of Mr. Scrawny Extra, I became Mr. Kickass Lead.

[A sexy book with the perfect pair ...]

Wed
Feb 10 2016 10:30am

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 ...]

Mon
Feb 8 2016 6:00pm

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...]

Sat
Feb 6 2016 5:00pm

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.

Lies.

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 ...]

Wed
Feb 3 2016 3:00pm

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 ...]

Mon
Jan 11 2016 5:30pm

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 ...]

Thu
Jan 7 2016 10:30am

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 ...]

Mon
Dec 28 2015 11:00am

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 ...]

Mon
Nov 30 2015 4:00pm

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 ...]

Mon
Nov 9 2015 5:30pm

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 ...]

Wed
Nov 4 2015 6:00pm

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 ...]

Fri
Oct 16 2015 2:00pm

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 ...]

Mon
Sep 28 2015 4:30pm

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 ...]

Wed
Sep 16 2015 2:00pm

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 ...]