<i>Girl Underwater</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Girl Underwater: Exclusive Excerpt Claire Kells "This is your captain. Brace for impact." Now Win <i>This</i>: Sherrilyn Kenyon's <i>Instinct</i>! Now Win This: Sherrilyn Kenyon's Instinct! Team H & H Enter for a chance to win the premiere edition of Instinct. <i>Shadow of Doubt</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Shadow of Doubt: Exclusive Excerpt P.A. DePaul "The second his lips met hers she knew he was right." <i>A Desperate Fortune</i>: Excerpt A Desperate Fortune: Excerpt Susanna Kearsley “I am told the men there are the handsomest in all of France, and very gallant.”
From The Blog
March 31, 2015
Girl Underwater: Exclusive Excerpt
Claire Kells
March 30, 2015
Reasons to Love Jill Shalvis's Animal Magnetism Series
AubreyGross
March 29, 2015
Paranormal Romance Best Bets for March 2015
Jane Kriel
March 27, 2015
Best Reads of March 2015
Team H & H
March 26, 2015
Unusual Historicals Best Bets for March 2015
Wendy the Super Librarian
Showing posts by: Janet Webb click to see Janet Webb's profile
Tue
Mar 31 2015 4:30pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Voulez vous coucher avec moi ce soir?]

Mon
Mar 23 2015 5:45pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Of the sexual variety...?]

Tue
Mar 17 2015 4:30pm

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

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

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

[Tell us...]

Fri
Mar 13 2015 4:15pm

Now Leaving Windfall Island: Anna Sullivan’s Secret Harbor

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

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

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

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

[Commencing witty foreplay...]

Wed
Mar 11 2015 4:30pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Do you want to end up in the water?”

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

[Friends will be friends...]

Tue
Mar 10 2015 5:45pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mon
Jan 26 2015 5:30pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[One more time!]

Tue
Jan 6 2015 5:30pm

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

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

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

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

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

[Can we have a side of gumbo?]

Sat
Dec 27 2014 11:00am

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Desired: a good wit]

Tue
Dec 16 2014 5:30pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mon
Dec 1 2014 2:45pm

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

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

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

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

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

[Tick, tock...]

Mon
Nov 24 2014 10:30am

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[It's the simple things...]

Thu
Nov 6 2014 10:30am

Joan Wolf Returns to Form with The American Earl

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

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

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

Tue
Nov 4 2014 2:15pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Are you eavesdropping, Camille?]

Mon
Oct 27 2014 9:30am

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Dishonorable antics ahoy?]

Fri
Oct 3 2014 9:30am

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

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

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

Too bad he’s completely obsessed with her.

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

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

[Everything but the red and white checked tablecloth]

Wed
Sep 17 2014 9:30am

First Look: Kristen Ashley’s Deacon (September 23, 2014)

Deacon by Kristen AshleyKristen Ashley
Deacon (Unfinished Hero #4)
Kristen Ashley / September 23, 2014 / $13.99 print, $3.99 digital

 Deacon has an ugly history, a history that broke him, leaving him a ghost of a man. Out of necessity, he left the normal world to descend into the criminal world and found he fit. So he stayed. Cold as ice and living off the grid, Deacon has no intention to connect, not with anyone.

Then he returns to some remote cabins in the Colorado Mountains and finds they have new owners. One of them is Cassidy Swallow, a young woman willing to work hard to live her quiet dream in a house by a river surrounded by aspen and pine.

Suddenly, Deacon finds he’s at war. Cassidy’s pull for him to connect is strong. He fights it, but he loses, always coming back for more. But when he does, he gives her nothing.

From the first time she sees him, Cassidy knows Deacon is dead inside. She knows he’s the kind of man who could destroy a woman. But one night when Deacon’s control slips, Cassidy takes a chance.

He might break her. He also might be her dream come true.

What’s an “unfinished hero”? Perhaps it’s a hero whose life is missing an essential element—a woman to love, who loves him back. Kristen Ashley’s unfinished heroes are quintessentially American, as well as handsome, taciturn, and mysterious. But her heroines aren’t sitting around waiting for a strong, silent man to make them whole; they have their own lives to live and their own dreams to fulfill. 

[You complete me!...]

Wed
Aug 20 2014 9:30am

First Look: Marilyn Pappano’s A Love to Call Her Own (August 26, 2014)

A Love to Call Her Own by Marilyn PappanoMarilyn Pappano
A Love to Call Her Own (Tallgrass #3)
Grand Central / August 26, 2014 / $8.00 print, $7.99 digital

It's been two years since Jessy Lawrence lost her husband in Afghanistan, and she's never fully recovered. Drowning her sorrows didn't help, and neither did the job she'd hoped would give her a sense of purpose. Now trying to rebuild her life, she finds solace in her best friends, fellow military wives who understand what it's like to love-and lose-a man in uniform . . . and the memory of one stolen night that makes her dream of a second chance at love.

Dalton Smith has known more than his fair share of grief. Since his wife's death, he revels in the solitude of his cattle ranch. But try as he might, he can't stop thinking about the stunning redhead and the reckless, passionate night they shared. He wasn't ready before, but Dalton sees now that Jessy is the only woman who can mend his broken heart. So how will he convince her to take a chance on him?

The initial aftermath of devastation is horrific. Sometimes it takes a while for the aphorism “time heals all wounds” to come true. In Marilyn Pappano's A Love to Call Her Own, Jessy Lawrence and Dalton Smith have grief and uncomfortable memories in common—each has lost a military spouse. Complicating their sorrow is the circumstances surrounding each death. At the time of her husband’s death, Jessy’s marriage was on the skids, and Jessy wondered if her marriage would even survive. How can Jessy talk about this, even with her closest friends, the members of The Fort Murphy Widows’ Club?

[Talk it out!...]

Sun
Jul 27 2014 12:00pm

First Look: Nicola Cornick’s Claimed by the Laird (July 29, 2014)

Nicola Cornick
Claimed by the Laird (Scottish Brides #3)
Harlequin HQN / July 29, 2014 / $7.99, print & digital

He will expose her as the criminal he seeks, or seduce her as the woman he desires…

An old maid—that's all Lady Christina McMorlan, daughter to the Duke of Forres, is to society now that she's past thirty. She hosts her father's parties and cares for her siblings, knowing she'll never have her own home and family. She has no time to pine, however. By night, she's The Lady, head of a notorious whiskey-smuggling gang that supports her impoverished clan. They're always one step ahead of the revenue man—until Lucas Black shows up.

Rejecting his title and the proper society that disparaged his mother, Lucas earns his living running a successful gambling house. He's also a spy, charged with bringing down the Forres Gang. He thinks The Lady's just a bored society spinster. She thinks he's a lost child playing at rebellion. And when the truth comes out, it's not just their love on the line.

What would a spinster daughter-to-a-duke and a smuggler on the edge of society have in common? More than you would think. They are both living in the shadows. Christina’s brother-in-law Jack tells Lucas that she is “easy to overlook.”

“Christina’s self-effacing, the old spinsterish sister. No one notices her.”

Lucas found that hard to believe when both Lucy and her sister Mairi McMorlan, Jack’s wife, were stunningly pretty, diamonds of the first order. He felt an odd, protective pang of pity for the colorless Lady Christina, living in their shadow, the duke’s unmarried daughter.

[She's about to step out of the shadow...]

Tue
Jul 15 2014 1:30pm

First Look: Amy M. Reade’s Secrets of Hallstead House (July 17, 2014)

Amy M. Reade
Secrets of Hallstead House
Kensington / July 17, 2014 / $15.00 print, $3.99 digital

Macy Stoddard had hoped to ease the grief of losing her parents in a fiery car crash by accepting a job as a private nurse to the wealthy and widowed Alexandria Hallstead. But her first sight of Summerplace is of a dark and forbidding home. She quickly finds its winding halls and shadowy rooms filled with secrets and suspicions. Alex seems happy to have Macy’s help, but others on the island, including Alex’s sinister servants and hostile relatives, are far less welcoming. Watching eyes, veiled threats…slowly, surely, the menacing spirit of Hallstead Island closes in around Macy. And she can only wonder if her story will become just one of the many secrets of Hallstead House…

The title, Secrets of Hallstead House, contains clues for the reader. “Secrets” suggests romantic suspense, but “Hallstead House” hints that this is a house book. Lauren Willig wrote about the appeal of the house book at Heroes and Heartbreakers. The phrase in the book description “sinister servants and hostile relatives” reveals the genre.

Welcome to the world of gothic romance.

[Step into my spooky parlor!]