<i>Hell for Leather</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Hell for Leather: Exclusive Excerpt Julie Ann Walker "Lord almighty, how he wanted to touch her there, needed to touch her there." H&H Reads <i>A Breath of Scandal</i> (5 of 6) H&H Reads A Breath of Scandal (5 of 6) Elizabeth Essex Ready to be reckless? Join us for a read-along of Elizabeth Essex's A Breath of Scandal <i>The House on Blackberry Hill</i>: Excerpt The House on Blackberry Hill: Excerpt Donna Alward "He felt a shiver of anticipation that had...everything to do with the client." <i>The Billionaire Biker</i>: Exclusive Excerpt The Billionaire Biker: Exclusive Excerpt Jackie Ashenden "Her best friend. Her first lover. And the boy who’d left her..."
From The Blog
April 17, 2014
Lessons from J.D. Robb’s In Death Series
Pen Singleton
April 17, 2014
The Appeal of Gritty Romance in Skye Warren's Wanderlust
Cara McKenna
April 16, 2014
Hot Small-Town Contemporaries
Jennifer Proffitt
April 16, 2014
Falling in Love with Paranormal Romance
A. C. Arthur
April 15, 2014
Sacrificing Heroines from Higgins, Carr, and More
Leigh Davis
Showing posts by: Jennifer Proffitt click to see Jennifer Proffitt's profile
Wed
Apr 16 2014 4:30pm

Talk Me Down by Victoria DahlSmall-town contemporaries have been a niche subgenre going on for decades now, but I have never been gladder that they turned up the heat than when I picked up my first Victoria Dahl. Talk Me Down was a reading revelation. Here was a sexually confident, erotic author, who had set her cap at the small-town chief of police of Tumble Creek, Colorado. The book was full of kisses behind closed doors (and in the cab of the cruiser), a little bit of suspense, and a sense of illicitness that only an affair in a small town could create. It’s a book that I have passed down from friend to friend when I want to get them hooked on romance—and it works without fail.

But it wasn’t until recently I realized that while I may have moved to the big city, my heart (or at least my reading preferences) stayed in a small town. I would gladly stay in Tumble Creek for all of my days, but of course all good things come to an end, and eventually I had to move on to another small town, so to Ruthie Knox’s Camelot I went.

[And what did you find there?...]

Sun
Apr 13 2014 2:00pm

Bomb Girls posterAs with all under-appreciated shows, Bomb Girls was short-lived, but while it was on, I loved it fiercely. As with many great shows, I found it while perusing on Netflix and instantly loved it, and you should, too. Here's why:

5. Binge Watch-ability:

Okay, this is an obvious one, but you can sit down and watch the show, which follows in BBC tradition of being short seasons with longer episodes, in one weekend. It was truly a great show and while I was sad to see it go, I was thrilled when a TV Movie aired at the end of March to give me some closure, a service many a fandom does not get.

4. Multi-dimensional Plot:

The beauty of an ensemble cast is that you can follow a variety of storylines. If you don't care for Vera (said no fan of the show, ever), tune into Kate and Betty’s story, or maybe you like the trouble that seemed to follow Gladys. It had love, international intrigue, politics, and history. The show tackles many issues that women faced during this time: gender roles to start with, and ending with physical abuse and sexuality, with a whole host in between.

[+History, beefcake, and shipping potential!...]

Wed
Apr 2 2014 8:15am

Hearts and social media alike imploded on Monday night during the series finale of the nine-year story of How I Met Your Mother. Ted's epic tale to his children of how he met their mother ended with a fizzle and more than a few yells of rage. It brought back to mind how viewers felt after the finale of Lost.

The HIMYM ending had many people swearing off watching the show ever again. Others decided the show was best if you watched everything except the finale. What do you say? Have you ever watched a show or finished a book and not be satisfied with the ending? Can you go back and still appreciate the journey you took before you reached the end?

Thu
Mar 27 2014 2:00pm

The Lady's Tutor by Robin SchoneAcademically put, tropes are “common or overused theme[s] or device[s]," which makes them sound like cliches, which makes them seem like a bad thing.

But they’re totally not! Romance novel fans all have their favorite—not to mention least favorite—tropes, from friends to lovers, chick in pants, secret baby, marriage of convenience, opposites attract, May-December, boss-assistant...the list goes on.

Each month, we’ll be picking a romance novel trope and ask you to offer recommendations falling under the trope rubric (again with the academic talk!).

The virginal or inexperienced heroine isn't exactly a new idea in romance. But what about when the heroine wants to take life by the horns and learn the ways of love, dating, and sex? Well, in romance that's when she turns to a man in her life for lessons! This trope combines some much-loved tropes like friends to lovers. Because what hero can resist a heroine asking for help—especially when seduction is involved!

Here are a few recommendations for this trope:

  • The Lady's Tutor by Robin Schone
  • Beautiful Player by Christina Lauren
  • Before Jamaica Lane by Samantha Young
  • The Wedding Trap by Tracy Anne Warren
  • One Good Earl Deserves a Lover by Sarah MacLean

What books would you suggest for fellow readers looking to enroll in Love 101?

Wed
Mar 26 2014 11:28am

Mindy Kaling as Dr. Mindy Lahiri in The Mindy ProjectDr. Mindy Lahiri bases the success of her love life around how closely it resembles a rom-com. Unfortunately, her dates and her life in general (while hilarious) lend themselves more to a tale of caution than a storybook. To celebrate the return of the charming, hilarious, and romantic TV comedy The Mindy Project in less than a week (April 1), allow us to present 10 lessons the show, via Mindy, has taught us thus far about love and dating.

10. Let go of the fairy tale. We've only gotten a few glimpses of what oral surgeon Tom and Mindy were like as a couple prior to the series, but what we have seen suggests that even before Tom dumped her for a Serbian bagel girl “with more years to share,” Mindy'd been invested in him more as proof that fairytales can come true than 'cause she was ready for an honest-to-goodness long-term relationship. Even the way she describes their meet-cute (“Met in an elevator? My hair came undone? Are you kidding me? I'm basically Sandra Bullock!”) and subsequent accelerated romance (he moved in after a very brief courtship) are evidence that these two were not together for the right reasons. While Mindy's a wreck about Tom's betrayal at first, in the long run she's undoubtedly better off without him and in a more grounded relationship. (I'm Sandra Bullock gif via stuntedadults.com)

[+9 more important lessons...]

Mon
Mar 17 2014 10:00am

What a Reckless Rogue Needs by Vicky Dreiling

Vicky Dreiling
What a Reckless Rogue Needs (The Sinful Scoundrels)
Forever / March 25, 2014 / $8.00 print, $7.99 digital

Colin Brockhurst, Earl of Ravenshire, has no desire to wed, this season or any other. So when his father demands he give up his wild ways and take a wife, Colin refuses. But his father raises the stakes and threatens to sell the ancestral home if Colin doesn't comply. Now Colin has no choice but to find a wife. Unfortunately, the only woman he wants is the one whose heart he broke years ago.

Regardless of the ton's whispers, Lady Angeline Brenham won't settle for anything less than true love. After rejecting more than her share of suitable suitors, spinsterhood looms before her-until the devilishly handsome Colin reappears in her life with a proposition. Angeline vows to keep her feet on the ground and her heart in check. That is, until one searing kiss melts her resolve and reignites a burning desire for more . . .

On the surface, What a Reckless Rogue Needs should just be a simple marriage of convenience trope, with a side of the reformed rake. But just as quietly as the love between Angeline and Colin creeps up on them, so do the subtleties of Vicky Dreiling's latest Sinful Scoundrels novel.

[Conveniently subtle!...]

Mon
Feb 24 2014 5:30pm

Hard As You Can by Laura KayeLaura Kaye
Hard As You Can
Avon / February 25, 2014 / $5.99 print, $4.99 digital

Ever since hard-bodied, drop-dead-charming Shane McCallan strolled into the dance club where Crystal Dean works, he's shown a knack for getting beneath her defenses. For her little sister's sake, Crystal can't get too close. Until her job and Shane's mission intersect, and he reveals talents that go deeper than she could have guessed.

Shane would never turn his back on a friend in need, especially a former Special Forces teammate running a dangerous, off-the-books operation. Nor can he walk away from Crystal. The gorgeous waitress is hiding secrets she doesn't want him to uncover. Too bad. He's exactly the man she needs to protect her sister, her life, and her heart. All he has to do is convince her that when something feels this good, you hold on as hard as you can—and never let go.

Laura Kaye’s Hard Ink series is my new obsession. I was lucky enough to be at an event a few months ago where she did a reading and from that night on I was totally hooked. I bought the first book, Hard As It Gets, that night, and fell head over heels in lust with the hardened men of Hard Ink. Book 2 in the series, Hard As You Can, leaves me with no regrets about the series, and totally hooked to this fast-paced, sexy read.

[No hesitation, just jump in...]

Tue
Feb 18 2014 10:30am

Vampire Most Wanted by Lynsay SandsLynsay Sands
Vampire Most Wanted
Avon / February 18, 2014 / $7.99 print, $6.99 digital

For Basha Argeneau, anything is better than facing her estranged family. Even hiding out in sweltering southern California. But when a sexy immortal in black shows up determined to bring her back to the clan, she'll do anything to keep far, far away from the past she can't outrun.

Marcus Notte isn't here to play games—especially not with someone as crazy as the infamous blonde. Asked by Lucian Argeneau to bring her back for questioning, Marcus is determined to carry out Lucian's request—no matter how the seductive little mind-reading vamp feels about it.

Basha doesn't mind fighting fire with fire, especially with a hot immortal involved. But if he wants to take her away, he'll have to catch her first...

In the 20th book in Lynsay Sands’s much-loved Argeneau series, Sands heads into unique territory as she tackles some of the older Argeneaus with Basha, the niece to the formidable Lucien Argeneau. In typical Sands tradition, Basha’s mate isn’t anyone she would have envisioned for herself—and s

he’s not anyone her mate would pick for himself either. Marcus Notte arrives at the carnival where Basha is working as a fortune teller (and going by the name Divine). The pair has an attraction almost from the beginning, but neither wishes to acknowledge it, if it wasn’t for that pesky “not being able to read one another” thing.

[You can't fight fate...]

Thu
Feb 13 2014 5:30pm

Burn for Me by Cynthia EdenCynthia Eden launches a brand new series with Burn for Me, and trust me, it’s on fire—perfectly setting the tone for the rest of this racy, fun, and sexy series.

Starting from the very first line, Eden slaps us in the face with the new world she plunges us into.

The first time Eve Bradley saw Subject Thirteen, he was in chains.

She froze in front of the glass wall that separated her from him—a wall that, to Subject Thirteen, would look just like a mirror. The two-way mirror let the doctors and observers watch his every move. Not that the guy could do much moving when he was chained to the wall.

This series promises to have a similar setup—and heat level—to Lora Leigh’s Breeds series. But unlike the Breeds, the creatures in this series aren’t genetically altered, they’re born with their supernatural abilities and are “out” to humans. However, it has started to have a negative impact as hundreds of them are being rounded up and experimented on—most without their consent. This setup is just the beginning of the many twists and turns that Eden throws at us through the course of this book, but of course it all has to start with the romance, and man, does she pack it in tight with the sparks that fly between Eve and Subject Thirteen (Cain).

[Tell me more about these sparks...]

Tue
Feb 4 2014 1:00pm

Sinfully Yours by Cara ElliottCara Elliott
Sinfully Yours
Forever / February 4, 2014 / $5.99 digital

After an eventful Season, Anna Sloane longs for some peace and quiet to pursue her writing. Though her plots might be full of harrowing adventure and heated passion, she'd much prefer to leave such exploits on the page rather than experience them in real life. Or so she thinks until she encounters the darkly dissolute-and gorgeously charming-Marquess of Davenport.

Davenport has a reputation as a notorious rake whose only forte is wanton seduction. However the real reason he's a guest at the same remote Scottish castle has nothing to do with Anna . . . until a series of mysterious threats leave him no choice but to turn to her for help in stopping a dangerous conspiracy. As desire erupts between them, Davenport soon learns he's not the only one using a carefully crafted image to hide his true talents. And he's more than ready to show Anna that sometimes reality can be even better than her wildest imaginings...

Nothing gets my little historical romance heart beating quite like a rake in need of reforming and a heroine who writes racy novels. But in order to do either character any justice, there have to be multiple layers that make the rapscallion rake likeable, and the heroine more than a bluestocking. Cara Elliott doesn’t disappoint in her second Hellions of High Streetnovel, Sinfully Yours.

[Peel back some layers...]

Tue
Jan 28 2014 5:30pm

Seeking Her by Cora CarmackCora Carmack
Seeking Her
William Morrow Impulse / January 28, 2014 / $3.99 print, $.99 digital

Jackson Hunt hasn't been out of the military for long, but he needs to get a job and find a sense of normalcy if he is going to keep his demons at bay. The job that falls into his lap, though, is anything but normal.

Becoming bodyguard (and babysitter) to spoiled rich girl Kelsey Summers isn't exactly what he had in mind, but it's a chance to travel, to get away. The catch: Kelsey's father doesn't want her to know she's being followed.

She's vibrant and infuriating, exciting and reckless, mysterious and familiar. When Jackson sees her falling into the same patterns he suffered years ago, he decides it's time to stop watching and help her instead. But getting to know Kelsey is more difficult than he thought, especially because the more he knows her, the more he wants her.

In what seems to have become a great tradition in the world of New Adult, Seeking Her provides readers with the perspective into the mind of Finding It’s hero, Hunt. For those not familiar with Seeking Her, it is the third (and I fear final) book in Cora Carmack’s Losing It series. I loved the first book in the series and have been waiting with baited breath for the story of Bliss’s out-of-control friend, Kelsey.

[How does her story begin?...]

Thu
Jan 23 2014 3:00pm

The Bride Says No by Cathy MaxwellCathy Maxwell
The Bride Says No
Avon / January 28, 2014 / $7.99 print, $6.99 digital

He is the bastard son of a duke, arrogant, handsome, a little bit dangerous, and, of course, one of the most sought-after bachelors in London. He is also about to be publically jilted by some chit of a girl! Blake Stephens' pride isn't about to let him be humiliated, so he charges after his bride to the wilds of Scotland, determined to bring her to the altar.

He is promised to one woman, but discovers his soul stirred by . . . the chit's sister! Lady Aileen Davidson's reputation was ruined ages ago, which is why she's buried herself in the country, but her fiery spirit and bold beauty threaten to bring Blake to his knees, making him wonder if he has proposed to the wrong lass.

One simple word defines a woman’s life in Regency England: Expectations. The expectation to marry for connection not love, to have children, and to obey your husband. Cathy Maxwell addresses all of these expectations and more in her new series, the Brides of Wishmore, with The Bride Says No.

[Expect to be entranced...]

Wed
Jan 15 2014 5:45pm

When the Rogue Returns by Sabrina JeffriesSabrina Jeffries
When the Rogue Returns
Pocket / January 21, 2014 / $7.99 print & digital

Victor Cale never imagined that his sweet, shy bride, Isabella, would use her talent for creating exquisite imitation jewels in a criminal way. But there’s no denying that Isa’s handiwork was used in the brazen heist of the Dutch royal family’s diamonds—after she disappeared into the night.

Ten years later, still reeling from her betrayal and enraged that her duplicitous side was so undetectable, Victor is sent to Edinburgh to investigate a wealthy baron’s mysterious brideto- be. Simple enough—until the “fiancée” proves to be Isa, masquerading as an alluring young widow.

No longer the meek and mild girl he once knew, the bold woman vehemently asserts that it was Victor who abandoned her after he helped steal the royal diamonds! Piecing together the truth of the past reawakens their volatile passion, which burns hotter than ever. But with a decade of secrets between them, Victor and Isa must trust each other in order to bring the real thieves to justice—without getting burned themselves.

In what may be one of Sabrina Jeffries’s strongest books, we are returned to the intriguing world of The Duke’s Men in the second book in the series. If you’re looking for something that is not your usual historical, and is sexy, fun, and complete with complex and likable characters, then go buy When the Rogue Returns. Now. Right now. Don’t worry, I’ll wait!

[Now, let's get this party started...]

Wed
Jan 8 2014 5:30pm

The Switch by Lynsay SandsMy very first experience with The Switch as a plot device was with Tamora Pierce's Song of the Lioness Series. I was all of 12 years old and I absolutely fell in love with the androgynous Alanna who switched places with her brother in order to become a night in Pierce's mythical land. In the course of the series, Alanna became friends with her fellow knight-in-training, the prince. Soon the prince, along with another boy—a thief—found out Alanna’s secret. And just as simple as that, I had my first love triangle. It seemed that shortly after being introduced to the concept of “The Switch,” I was surrounded by it (Lindsay Lohan’s The Parent Trap, for example). What was one of my favorite devices as a child quickly became a favorite once I started reading romance.

The most obvious way to do a switch is with twins. Enter The Switch by Lynsay Sands. Not only does it give us twin sisters who are constantly switching places, it gives us a chick in pants—and a lord who begins to feel quite uncomfortable with the feelings he has toward one small boy.

When they first met Lord Jeremy William Radcliffe, Charlie and her twin sister, Elizabeth, were escaping from their uncle-taking turns acting the young gentleman to avoid detection. But Charlie couldn’t help falling head over heels-and out of a window-for the handsome lord. Of course, that was only the beginning; Lord Radcliffe insisted on showing “him” and her lovely sister to London.

[Naturally he did...]

Tue
Dec 31 2013 11:00am

Three Broken Promises by Monica MurphyMonica Murphy
Three Broken Promises
Random House / December 31, 2013 / $14.00 print, $4.99 digital

Commitment. That’s what I really want from Colin. Ever since my brother, Danny, died in Iraq, Colin’s done so much to help me, including giving me a job at his popular restaurant so I can leave my crappy waitressing job at the strip joint. But lying in bed with him every night to comfort him from his horrible nightmares isn’t enough anymore. I know he feels guilty about Danny’s death, about not going to Iraq, but I can’t keep living this double life.

I love him desperately, but he’s got so many demons, and if he can’t open up to me now, then he’ll never be the real partner I need him to be. I gave him a month, and now I’m out of here. If he truly loves me like he says, he knows where to find me.

Where Monica Murphy's One-Week Girlfriend and Second-Chance Boyfriend focused on the budding, and sometimes complicated, relationship of Fable and Drew, Three Broken Promises now turns towards Fable’s friend, Jen.

Jen and Colin’s relationship is just as tenuous at first as Fable and Drew’s, but in a different way. Jen’s brother died in Iraq and Colin blames himself for that death. He’s taken care of Jen after she leaves her family behind. It’s not your typical “I’ll look after her every so often” situation, either. Colin gave Jen a job and a place to stay when she decided to move.

[It's only natural they'd grow closer, right?...]

Wed
Dec 4 2013 12:00pm

Mindy and Danny have a moment on The Mindy ProjectIt can easily be said that Mindy Kaling's Mindy Lahiri on The Mindy Project is one of the most relatable characters on TV—or at least the most relatable one with all the shenanigans we wish we could do.

In last night's episode, “Christmas Party Sex Trap,” Mindy set up a Christmas party exclusively for the purpose of meeting her building crush, Cliff, and seducing him away from the mildly-crazy Heather. However, it's not the sparks with Cliff that had us gasping this episode, but all that chemistry just waiting to bubble over between Mindy and Danny, of course!

It all started with Danny's lackluster attempts to fulfill the office Secret Santa. Of course, he gave her office supplies...from their own office. Even we would find that unacceptable from someone like Danny. After Step 3 of Mindy's plan to snare Cliff backfires because Cliff leaves to talk to Heather, Mindy sits desolately in her office drinking wine from her bra—lots of shenanigans in planning the party led to this, you'll have to watch the episode to appreciate it!

Danny comes in to check on Mindy...and give her a proper Secret Santa gift. Mindy says “You said you didn't want to spend money on a Secret Santa, I shouldn't have expected a gift.” Danny's reply? Sometimes the best gifts don't cost anything. Then he proceeds to bust a move to the song that “was the first thing about you that ever really annoyed me.” We think that's totally code for the first thing he LOVED about her.

[But, wait, it gets better...]

Mon
Dec 2 2013 10:30am

Big Girls Don't Cry by Cathie LinzIn romance, as in many things, a woman’s appeal is based on her contrasts to her male counterparts. A hero might notice that a heroine’s skin was so soft in comparison to the rough pads of his fingers, or the heroine might revel in the contrast of the hard planes of his chest against the soft swells of her bosom. But how a hero and heroine interact is often changed when those contrasts are lessened. He might be a towering giant to her delicate flower, but some heroes might find these delicate flowers off-putting and require a heroine who would be more his equal. Enter the tall heroine.

The hero finds her striking, where society has often found her graceless and unfashionable. Particularly in historical romance novels, the heroine’s height is noticeable compared to her contemporaries.

It should be noted that I am not a tall person. On a bad day I am even considered short, Hobbit-like, if you will. For me, as with many people, I like to find a heroine who is similar to me—give me a short, plus-sized, shy bluestocking/nerd (depending on the genre) any day! But even I, who searches for my identical literary twin in every book, love a tall heroine. Just practically speaking, it certainly makes kissing seem much less arduous—no weird angles and stooping to get to your heroine’s lips. No, our heroes can go lip-to-lip and nose-to-nose with their tall heroines!

Often, the tall heroine comes as a double-edged sword—both curvy and tall. Cathie Linz’s Big Girls Don’t Cry offers us Leena, who is returning to her dead-end hometown after fizzling in her dead-end plus-size modeling career. While it’s never outright stated that Leena is tall, certain assumptions can be made since she’s a model.

[Tall heroines ftw!...]

Wed
Nov 27 2013 11:00am

No Good Duke Goes Unpunished by Sarah MacLeanOpening up Sarah MacLean's No Good Duke Goes Unpunished, I was fully prepared to dislike the heroine, Mara. After all, she implicates our hero, Temple, in a murder (her own) and ruins his life. More significantly she was relatively unrepentant about the fact. She was a woman who needed to survive and survive, she did, at any cost. But as the book beings, she must re-emerge from her self-inflicted exile to save her brother from certain ruin at the hands of Temple.

This is a romance, so of course the two develop feelings for one another—both against their better judgment. I spent half of the book screaming (in my head, mostly) for the two to just tell the truth. But too many years and too many lies stand between them. When they finally acknowledge their attraction,  what begins as a lustful and hopeful encounter leads to an explosive confrontation:

“Please. Let me explain—“

“No.” He turned to her, hand slashing through the air.

She stopped.

“No,” he repeated. “I am tired of it. Of your lies. Of your games. I am tired of wanting to believe them. No more.

[Oh, the angst!...]

Fri
Nov 15 2013 6:00pm

Mindy and Danny in The Mindy ProjectHere at H&H, we're big TV fans, and we love our potential romances, natch. It's rare, though, when a majority of us not only watch the same show but also agree on a pairing like we do with The Mindy Project, in which case, OBVIOUSLY Mindy/Danny are meant to be together. You know, at some point. No rush. After all, the anticipation is a huge part of what makes 'shipping these guys so much fun.

So, in honor of this momentous occasion of consensus, here are 5 reasons that we—we being Team H&H's Jenn, Heather, and Megan—are having a grand ol' time watching doctors Mindy Lahiri (Mindy Kaling) and Daniel Castellano (Chris Messina) dance around each other until they realize they're TOTALLY PERFECT FOR EACH OTHER OMG.

5. They look good together.

Okay, this one is pretty superficial, but they fit together oh, so perfectly! Literally, people. Like when Danny put his arm around Mindy and she leaned her head in during Tuesday's episode (2.08, “You've Got Sext”), it rested perfectly between his shoulder and neck. It's just one more reason why they're meant to be, are we right? The attraction is simmering, waiting to combust. Danny has noticed Mindy's body since the very beginning when he told her what to wear on a date, and since then there've been several instances where Mindy and Danny have hinted that they find the other good-looking. (And apparently will soon hang out in the nude???)

[+4 more reasons we're crazy about Mindy/Danny...]

Tue
Nov 5 2013 4:00pm

Mine by Katy EvansKaty Evans
Mine
Gallery / November 5, 2013 / $15.00 print, $7.59 digital

In the international bestseller REAL, the unstoppable bad boy of the Underground fighting circuit finally met his match. Hired to keep him in prime condition, Brooke Dumas unleashed a primal desire in Remington “Riptide” Tate as vital as the air he breathes . . . and now he can't live without her.

Brooke never imagined she would end up with the man who is every woman's dream, but not all dreams end happily ever after, and just when they need each other the most, she is torn away from his side. Now with distance and darkness between them, the only thing left is to fight for the love of the man she calls MINE.

The title of a book has never more closely echoed the themes within as Katy Evans’s Mine. Mine opens, unsurprisingly, at a fight. Brooke is back by Remy’s side and equal parts nervous, jealous, and turned on to see him in the ring.

[Jump into the fray...]