<i>Stupid Love</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Stupid Love: Exclusive Excerpt Cindy Miles "Before my feet even hit the ground his mouth was on mine..." <i>Obsession Falls</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Obsession Falls: Exclusive Excerpt Christina Dodd "She's being hunted, but it's time to turn the tables...." Quiz: What Small Town Do You Belong In? Quiz: What Small Town Do You Belong In? Candis Terry Are you a perfect match for Texas, Oregon, Alaska, or even Ireland? Find out! <i>The Highwayman</i>: Exclusive Excerpt The Highwayman: Exclusive Excerpt Kerrigan Byrne "Lowering his head to kiss her on the mouth once more..."
From The Blog
September 4, 2015
Tattoos and Their Symbolism in Romance Novels
Sahara Hoshi
September 4, 2015
The Appeal of the Comfort Read
Scarlettleigh
September 3, 2015
The Younger Man of Shannon Stacey's Heat Exchange
Jane Kriel
September 2, 2015
4 Medieval Romances with Ladies of Power
Rue Allyn
September 2, 2015
Opposites Attract in Rachel Lacey's Ever After
Scarlettleigh
Showing posts by: Janet Webb click to see Janet Webb's profile
Mon
Aug 31 2015 5:30pm

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

Only A Kiss by Mary Balogh

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Second impressions are in order...]

Thu
Aug 27 2015 1:00pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

[A win for all 4 ladies...]

Thu
Aug 6 2015 11:00am

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

Finding Glory by Sara Arden

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

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

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

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

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

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

[What's life without fairy tales?]

Tue
Aug 4 2015 9:30am

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

Tremaine's True Love by Grace Burrowes

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

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

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

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

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

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

...“My lord, you have a visitor.”

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

[True love is a journey...]

Sun
Jul 26 2015 10:30am

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

The Color of Light by Emilie Richards

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

The deeper the darkness, the brighter the light

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

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

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

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

[Bankrupt on happiness...]

Thu
Jul 2 2015 9:30am

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

For Real by Alexis Hall

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mon
Jun 29 2015 1:00pm

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

Summer at the Shore by V.K. Sykes

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

JUST A SUMMER FLING?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thu
Jun 25 2015 5:15pm

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

Redemption Bay by RaeAnne Thayne

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thu
Jun 18 2015 2:15pm

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

E.L. James's Grey spoiler thread banner

Grey by E.L. James

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

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

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

MAJOR SPOILERS BELOW THE JUMP.

SPOILERS SO MAJOR THEY WILL RUIN THE BOOK FOR YOU IF YOU HAVEN’T READ IT.

YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

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

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

Wed
Jun 10 2015 4:30pm

Go with the Flow: Mary Balogh’s Passive Heroes

Snow Angel by Mary Balogh

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

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

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

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

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

Sun
May 24 2015 2:00pm

First Look: Lauren Dane’s Back to You (May 26, 2015)

Back to You by Lauren Dane

Lauren Dane
Back to You (Hurley Brothers #3)
Harlequin / May 26, 2015) / $7.99 print & digital

Former model Kelly Hurley has finally put the ashes of the past behind her. After a passionate but turbulent marriage to rock star Vaughan Hurley that ended in heartbreak and divorce, Kelly rebuilt her life in Portland, where she settled so their two young daughters could be close to their father. Just not so close Kelly couldn’t truly make her own way without interference from the man who shattered her heart. Now Kelly’s finally ready to move on, and she’s planning to marry another man.

But not if Vaughan has anything to say about it.

Vaughan knows he was a fool all those years ago. A young, selfish—and prideful—fool. Even as he buried himself in the fast, decadent rock star lifestyle, he could never drown out the memory of Kelly’s beauty and love. Or the sweet, searing heat whenever they touched. For years, he’s had to deal with the pain of seeing her only because of their daughters, but it was never enough. Now Vaughan must prove that he’s the only man Kelly needs, before he loses her for good. And there’s only one way to do it….

Back to You by Lauren Dane made me think of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Not very romantic, you might be thinking, but a long-divorced couple who try to find their way back to each other is not going to have an easy time of it. Their path to happiness needs to be strewn with truth, paving the way to trust, finally culminating in an HEA that is all about the sweet rewards of reconciliation.

Kelly has accepted a proposal of marriage from her boyfriend Ross. Even she knows she’s lying to herself when she examines her reasons for saying yes. His tepid proposal didn’t help.

Only less romantically, it was more of a we’ve been sleeping over at one another’s houses for a year now. We should just get married because it’s good for everyone and it would be more cost-efficient, don’t you think?

What else could she do but say yes?

[She said yes, but did she mean maybe?]

Fri
May 22 2015 11:00am

If You Love Outlander, You’ll Love Nora Roberts’ MacGregors

Rebellion by Nora Roberts

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon and Rebellion*, In from the Cold, and For Now, Forever by Nora Roberts have so much in common. The stories are anchored in Scottish history, with Rebellion and Outlander beginning in the years leading up to the fateful Battle of Culloden in April 1746. Jamie Fraser and Serena MacGregor (the heroine of Rebellion) are Scottish patriots to the core. Each falls in love with a Sassenach, respectively Claire Beauchamp Randall and Brigham Langston, the English Earl of Ashburn. According to Yahoo answers, “Sassenach is a word used chiefly by the Scots to designate an Englishman. It derives from the Gaelic Sasunnach…” Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary states that the word is “used, often disparagingly, by the Gaelic inhabitants of the British Isles.”

Nora Roberts tells the story of the MacGregor clan, spanning the centuries from war-torn Scotland in the seventeen hundreds to modern-day Boston. Here’s a description of Rebellion:

“Scotland, 1745. Against the bloody background of the Battle of Culloden, another war was waged and won–the price was honor, the victory, love.” Scottish beauty Serena MacGregor’s hatred of all English began as a child when she watched as a band of Englishmen attacked her mother. Her brother’s friend Brigham Langston was no exception to Serena’s loathing–despite his supposed loyalty to the Scottish cause…and his good looks.

Although Brigham eventually proves himself worthy of the MacGregor family’s respect, Serena is still reluctant to abandon her hatred for him and his heritage. But Brigham has other plans. Serena has captivated him with her beauty, her passion for life and commitment to her beliefs–and he refuses to let her antagonistic attitude keep him from winning her. And Serena must learn to open her mind–as Brigham opens his heart–to see the true love awaiting her.

*Note: Heroes and Heartbreakers has a special audio clip at the bottom of the post for readers who are either new to the MacGregors or want to hear it acted out. Enjoy!

[Historical romance filled with so much passion...]

Tue
May 19 2015 9:30am

First Look: Melissa Cutler’s Game Changer (May 19, 2015)

Game Changer by Melissa Cutler

Melissa Cutler
Game Changer (Bomb Squad #3)
Penguin Intermix / May 19, 2015 / $4.99 digital

Welcome to Destiny Falls, New York, home of Bomb Squad—an ice hockey team full of rugged military heroes. An once-in-a-lifetime opportunity has the team captain packing his bags for greener pastures, but saying good-bye to the woman who’d captured his heart is easier said than done…

After being wounded in combat, Brandon Theroux lives every day like it’s his last. He never could have imagined that the sleek mechanics of his prosthetic leg would open so many doors, including minor celebrity status as a fitness model and a well-earned reputation as a rakish playboy. The only door it hasn’t opened is the one to Harper Johnson’s bedroom.

Harper has too much self-respect to join the ranks of Brandon’s “carpe diem” conquests, but when she needs someone to keep the peace in the tavern she owns, Brandon offers his help—as long as she agrees to a very tempting trade. It isn’t long before the two realize that a deal struck between friends who can’t keep their hands off each other has the potential to be a whole lot hotter than either of them is prepared to handle.

Sometimes when I read that a wounded warrior is the hero, I mutter, another day, another hero. I wonder what will be different about this one. Is there a fresh perspective possible? Without giving anything away, YES, Melissa Cutler's Game Changer really is a game changer because both Brandon and Harper are wounded inside and out, but they heal from within first and then lovingly, sexily, create a sensual space for each other that is different than anything I’ve ever read.

Dancing with the Stars has given the world sexy, agile, muscular former military men who have come to terms with their injuries. For Brandon it almost seems like his disability is a door-to-the-bedroom opener. His forever friend (and not with benefits), Harper, is a gun-toting, bar-owning, take-charge heroine! She’s older than the hero but that’s simply stated, not agonized over or examined exhaustively. Back to the gun-toting – we meet Harper as she defends her bar from some miscreants, thinking,

It might be a man’s world, but that was only because not enough women were properly armed. She loaded the rifle as she walked, then unlocked the front door and threw it open.

[Bars, guns, sex in the backseat and this is Upstate New York...]

Tue
Apr 7 2015 4:30pm

First Look: Jo Beverley’s Too Dangerous for a Lady (April 7, 2015)

Jo Beverley
Too Dangerous For a Lady (Company of Rogues #16)
 

Penguin / April 7, 2015 / $7.99 print & digital

Lady Hermione Merryhew, daughter of an impoverished marquess, already has her share of problems. The last thing she needs is an intruder in her bedroom, especially not a fugitive thief. She should scream, but the shabby rascal is a man from her past.

Six years ago, at her first ball, dashing Lieutenant Mark Thayne failed to steal a kiss, but succeeded in stealing a little of her heart. She's older and wiser now. She can't toss him to the wolves. Besides, she wants that kiss.

Now Viscount Faringay, Mark has never forgotten Lady Hermione, but he mustn't involve her in his dangerous life. He's infiltrated the Crimson Band, violent revolutionaries who plan a bloodbath in London, and if he survives the night he will be able to destroy them. Hermione is involved, however, and only he can protect her.

A scenario that never fails to terrify is a woman alone in a bedroom who is accosted by a man—even if he is not what he seems. Think of Mary Balogh’s Simply Scandalous or Grace Kelly in To Catch a Thief. It’s heart-in-the-throat scary in Jo Beverley's Too Dangerous for a Lady.

Even from where she sat, Hermione heard rapid footsteps in the corridor and urgent voices. She stayed fixed in place, hoping the intruder would leave before noticing that she was there.

[Don't leave us hanging...]

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...]