<i>Foster Justice</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Foster Justice: Exclusive Excerpt Colleen Shannon "His mind might find her repulsive but his body sure as heck didn’t." Now Win This!: <i>Fifty Shades</i> Poster Now Win This!: Fifty Shades Poster Team H & H You've seen the poster, now here's a chance to have your own! <i>Marked</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Marked: Exclusive Excerpt Rebecca Zanetti "Heat pooled at the apex of her legs, stunning her with need..." Quiz: Who Is Your Ideal Romance Hero? Quiz: Who Is Your Ideal Romance Hero? Team H & H Forget cocoa and eggnog, we want a hero for Christmas!
From The Blog
December 20, 2014
3 Harlequin Presents Authors Who Get it Right
John Jacobson
December 19, 2014
Friday Beefcake: Silver Bells Foxes
Team H & H
December 18, 2014
I Dream of Genies in Romance Novels
Sahara Hoshi
December 18, 2014
Happy Parental Pairs in Historical Romance
Janga
December 18, 2014
Saying Goodbye to The Hobbit
Christopher Morgan
Showing posts by: Janet Webb click to see Janet Webb's profile
Tue
Dec 16 2014 4:30pm

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 1:45pm

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 9:30am

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 9:30am

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 1:15pm

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 8:30am

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 8:30am

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 8:30am

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 8:30am

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 11:00am

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 12:30pm

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!]

Tue
Jul 8 2014 8:30am

First Look: Kristen Ashley’s The Promise (July 8, 2014)

The Promise by Kristen AshleyKristen Ashley
The Promise (The 'Burg #5)
Kristen Ashley / July 8, 2014 / $3.99 digital

Since his brother’s death, Benny Bianchi has been nursing his grudge against the woman he thinks led to his brother’s downfall. He does this to bury the feelings he has for Francesca Concetti, his brother’s girl. But when Frankie takes a bullet while on the run with Benny’s cousin’s woman, Benny has to face those feelings.

The problem is Frankie has decided she’s paid her penance. Penance she didn’t deserve to pay. She’s done with Benny and the Bianchi family. She’s starting a new life away from Chicago and her heartbreaking history.

Benny has decided differently.

But Frankie has more demons she’s battling. Demons Benny wants to help her face. But life has landed so many hard knocks on Frankie she’s terrified of believing in the promise of Benny Bianchi and the good life he’s offering.

Frankie’s new life leads her to The ‘Burg, where Benny has ties, and she finds she not only hasn’t succeeded in getting away, she’s doesn’t want to.

The Promise opens with our heroine in the hospital, recovering from a GSW (gunshot wound for the uninitiated). Ashley takes us right into Frankie’s head, which is teeming with memories, self-censure, longings, and a lot of common-sense sass. We learn,

So, although I used to sleep on my back all the time, I trained myself to sleep on my stomach or side so I wouldn’t snore.

Yes, I did this, even though I hadn’t had a man in my bed in seven years.

Seven years is a long time to have no man beside you in bed but Frankie’s drought is over. The Bianchi family, with Benny leading the way, is in the hospital waiting room; they’re pestering the nurses, and they’re not letting another moment go by in their zeal to make amends to Frankie. The phrase resistance is futile comes to mind. Certainly Benny sees right through Frankie’s pretense at falling asleep whenever a Bianchi is in the vicinity of her hospital bed.

[Get ready, there's cuteness ahead...]

Mon
Jun 30 2014 12:00pm

First Look: Mary Balogh’s The Escape (July 1, 2014)

The Escape by Mary Balogh

Mary Balogh
The Escape (Survivors' Club)
Dell / July 1, 2014 / $7.99 print / digital

After surviving the Napoleonic Wars, Sir Benedict Harper is struggling to move on, his body and spirit in need of a healing touch. Never does Ben imagine that hope will come in the form of a beautiful woman who has seen her own share of suffering. After the lingering death of her husband, Samantha McKay is at the mercy of her oppressive in-laws—until she plots an escape to distant Wales to claim a house she has inherited. Being a gentleman, Ben insists that he escort her on the fateful journey.

Ben wants Samantha as much as she wants him, but he is cautious. What can a wounded soul offer any woman? Samantha is ready to go where fate takes her, to leave behind polite society and even propriety in her desire for this handsome, honorable soldier. But dare she offer her bruised heart as well as her body? The answers to both their questions may be found in an unlikely place: in each other’s arms.

The catalyst of Mary Balogh’s Survivor’s Club series is the belief that by helping each other, a band of brothers (and one sister) can survive the vicissitudes and the aftermath of war. In the third book of the Survivor’s Club, The Escape, Balogh’s characters transcend survival and aspire to thrive. Freud’s definition of happiness, “to work and to love,” seems apt, since it moves the goalposts beyond simply enduring mental and physical trauma. For Sir Benedict Harper and Samantha McKay, happiness means living a life of self-worth and independence, with a partner to love being the potential icing on the cake.

[The cake is much better with icing, after all]

Mon
Jun 23 2014 10:00am

First Look: Miranda Neville’s Lady Windermere’s Lover (June 24, 2014)

Lady Windermere's Lover by Miranda NevilleMiranda Neville
Lady Windermere's Lover (Wild Quartet)
Avon / June 24, 2014 / $7.99 print, $4.99 digital

Damian, Earl of Windermere, rues the day he drunkenly gambled away his family's estate and was forced into marriage to reclaim it. Now, after hiding out from his new bride for a year, Damian is finally called home, only to discover that his modest bride has become an alluring beauty—and rumor has it that she's taken a lover. Damian vows to keep his wife from straying again, but to do so he must seduce her—and protect his heart from falling for the wife he never knew he wanted.

Lady Cynthia never aspired to be the subject of scandal. But with her husband off gallivanting across Persia, what was a lady to do? Flirting shamelessly with his former best friend seemed like the perfect revenge . . . except no matter how little Damian deserves her loyalty, Cynthia can't bring herself to be unfaithful. But now that the scoundrel has returned home, Cynthia isn't about to forgive his absence so easily—even if his presence stirs something in her she'd long thought dead and buried. He might win her heart . . . if he can earn her forgiveness!

Miranda Neville weaves a deft narrative that gradually reveals the dreadful mistakes of the past with this couple’s tentative bid for a happy future. In one of the early scenes, Neville uses the brilliant set piece of a night at the theater to reunite the Earl of Windermere and his Countess, after a year apart, each of them in a box, each of them with a partner who is not their spouse.

[Scandalous!...]

Wed
Jun 18 2014 1:15pm

First Look: Maisey Yates’s Rekindled (June 18, 2014)

Rekindled by Maisey Yates

Maisey Yates
Rekindled (A Silver Creek Romance)
InterMix / June 18, 2014 / $2.99 digital

Lucy Ryan got everything she thought she wanted, going from high school queen to Manhattan trophy wife. But none of it was worth staying in a loveless marriage. So now she’s back in Silver Creek—with no money and no place to stay, applying for a job cleaning someone else’s house. And her potential employer is the last person she ever expected to see again.

Mac Denton can’t believe the mean girl who once tormented him in high school is now his housekeeper. He looks forward to making her squirm for a few days before she runs back to her rich husband. But Lucy has changed, and he is surprised to find himself attracted to the beautiful, courageous woman she has become.

Lucy is finally ready to go after what she really wants from life. And what she wants more than anything is Mac. But is Mac ready to truly forget the past and embrace the future?

Thomas Wolfe’s memorable line “you can’t go home again” conjures up nostalgia, memories, and feelings of what-might-have-been. One interpretation is that once a country mouse leaves small-town roots behind and embraces a sophisticated city mouse lifestyle, neither the mouse nor the home are ever the same. Furthermore, any attempt to recapture, reframe or re-address youthful foibles is doomed to failure. Romance novels, however, do not embrace this approach.

[So you CAN go home again?...]

Fri
Jun 6 2014 2:00pm

The Louisiana Lust of Make You Mine (Dumont Bachelors #1) by Macy Beckett

Make You Mine by Macy BeckettIn Macy Beckett's Make You Mine, the first book in her Dumont Bachelors series, Allie Mauvais is a baker and a psychic. A vendor of voodoo, if you will. But Allie doesn’t believe she has any real psychic powers.

She could see all kinds of things—like facial expressions and body language. The kinds of things anyone could see if they paid attention. She could hear, too—the subtle changes of inflection or tone that often contradicted the spoken word. People didn’t need voodoo heritage to understand each other. They just had to turn off their iPhones and take their heads out of their asses every once in a while.

Allie has been dispensing advice and voodoo charms for years, operating on a do-no-harm basis and using her excellent powers of observation to help her clients get on the right path. No surprise that the vast majority of charms are “needed” for problems of the heart.

But what about Allie’s heart? She’s had her share of romantic relationships but she’s never forgotten Marc Dumont, the one who got away, or rather didn’t call after the prom and an earth-shattering kiss. How was Allie to know that when Marc woke up the morning after the kiss-but-otherwise-chaste prom his Johnson was at half-mast and sporting a dangerously virulent looking rash?

[How romantic...?]

Fri
May 23 2014 1:00pm

First Look: Jeffe Kennedy’s The Mark of the Tala: The Twelve Kingdoms (May 27, 2014)

Jeffe Kennedy
The Twelve Kingdoms: The Mark of the Tala
Kensington / May 27, 2014 / $15.00 print, $12.99 digital

The tales tell of three sisters, daughters of the high king. The eldest, a valiant warrior-woman, heir to the kingdom. The youngest, the sweet beauty with her Prince Charming. No one says much about the middle princess, Andromeda. Andi, the other one.

Andi doesn’t mind being invisible. She enjoys the company of her horse more than court, and she has a way of blending into the shadows. Until the day she meets a strange man riding, who keeps company with wolves and ravens, who rules a land of shapeshifters and demons. A country she’d thought was no more than legend–until he claims her as its queen.

In a moment everything changes: Her father, the wise king, becomes a warlord, suspicious and strategic. Whispers call her dead mother a traitor and a witch. Andi doesn’t know if her own instincts can be trusted, as visions appear to her and her body begins to rebel.

For Andi, the time to learn her true nature has come. . .

The fairytales we are told as children live on in our memories and in our collective unconscious. One of the most enduring themes is that of sisterhood, be it Snow White and Red Rose, or, the adult incarnation, King Lear. The Mark of the Tala, the first book of The Twelve Kingdoms trilogy, reframes an intertwined story of three royal sisters for a new audience.

[Does each sister get a handsome Prince?]

Fri
May 9 2014 12:00pm

These Mothers Will Go Down in History: Moms in Historical Romances by Roberts, Balogh, Heyer and More!

Rebellion and In from the Cold by Nora RobertsWhether married or widowed, rich or poor, mothers in historical novels are an interesting lot. Most of them wield influence within their family circle but they do not have the external power of a father or guardian. During the 19th century, mothers—even if they were widowed—did not typically have sole legal custody of their children. If they were heiresses, they usually did not control the money they brought to the marriage. Money or the lack thereof was a significant impediment to a mother’s ability to carve out a happy, safe childhood for her children, and to pave the way to a fruitful, satisfying adulthood. There are as many differences in historical motherhood as there are similarities. Here are some of the most memorable mothers in historical romance.

In from the Cold by Nora Roberts

Aristocratic Serena Langston is a strategic fighter, forcing her family to confront and achieve their deepest desires. Lady Serena prods, pokes, plots, and manipulates those she loves to swallow their pride, admit defeat, and fight for love. She is a take-no-prisoner, mother-knows-best kind of mother. Serena is an emotional tactician, extracting information that even Ian might not know is troubling him. It’s a joy to watch her at work.

[Love ya, Mom...]

Sat
May 3 2014 10:00am

First Look: Gemma Brocato’s Hearts in Harmony (May 5, 2014)

Hearts in Harmony by Gemma BrocatoGemma Brocato
Hearts in Harmony (Five Senses)
Lyrical Press / May 5, 2014 / $3.99 digital

Sometimes life’s most simple melodies become songs of love.

Pippa Sanders’ life is filled with songs of leaving, longing and loneliness. Since the death of her husband, her children have been her world. She’ll do anything to protect them, including encasing her heart in ice until they’re college age. She’s made a practice of shying away from any relationship that could break her heart when it ends. And it’s worked so far.

Clay Mathers has made a temporary move to Granite Pointe, Massachusetts to help with his mother’s Christmas tree farm while she recovers from a stroke. Although his long-range plans don’t include staying in the small town, a little female companionship during his short residency would be welcome. While on duty as sentry against protestors at a military funeral, he finds Pippa visiting her husband’s grave, and begins a campaign to make her into a friend–with benefits.

What starts as a simple affair evolves to something more, something that changes the soundtracks of both their lives…the beating of two hearts in harmony.

Reading Gemma Brocato's Hearts in Harmony made me think of the lyrics to “Wishing and Hoping”; the song has great advice for a single woman but not, perhaps, for a widow with twins. Pippa Sanders is a woman alone. She has two delightful children, a protective family, loving friends, and a challenging, meaningful job, but there hasn’t been a man in her heart since her soldier husband died. It’s complicated.

[She's wishing and hoping?...]

Thu
May 1 2014 2:00pm

Said Discreetly, Heard Everywhere: Eavesdropping in Romance Novels

Pride and Prejudice by Jane AustenOne of the most disconcerting events that can happen to a romance hero or heroine is to overhear someone say something mean about them. Five examples, from books published between 1813 and 2013, demonstrate the potential damage. Are these characters eavesdroppers or are they simply in the wrong place at the wrong time? To clarify, here’s the Wikipedia entry for eavesdropping: “Eavesdropping is the act of secretly listening to the private conversation of others without their consent, as defined by Black's Law Dictionary. This is commonly thought to be unethical and there is an old adage that “eavesdroppers seldom hear anything good of themselves...eavesdroppers always try to listen to matters that concern them.”

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, 1813. Is this the most famous put-down in literature? After dancing with Jane, the beautiful eldest daughter of the Bennet family, Mr. Bingley asks his friend Mr. Darcy if he would like an introduction to Miss Elizabeth Bennet.

But there is one of her sisters sitting down just behind you, who is very pretty, and I dare say very agreeable. Do let me ask my partner to introduce you.
‘Which do you mean?’ and turning around, he looked for a moment at Elizabeth, till catching her eye, he withdrew his own and coldly said, ‘She is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me; and I am in no humour at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men. You had better return to your partner and enjoy her smiles, for you are wasting your time with me.’

Mr Bingley followed his advice. Mr Darcy walked off; and Elizabeth remained with no very cordial feelings towards him.

[Way to go, you smooth-talker, you...]