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Jan 28 2015 2:00pm

First Look: Karina Bliss’s Rise (January 28, 2015)

Rise by Karina BlissKarina Bliss
Rise (Rock Solid)
Karina Bliss / January 28, 2015 / $9.95 print, $3.99 digital

Even rock stars deserve redemption...

Acclaimed literary biographer Elizabeth Winston writes about long-dead heroes.

So bad-boy rock icon Zander Freedman couldn’t possibly tempt her to write his memoir.

Except the man is a mass of fascinating contradictions–manipulative, honest, gifted, charismatic and morally ambiguous.
In short, everything she seeks in a biography subject.

When in her life will she get another chance to work with a living legend? But saying yes to one temptation soon leads to another.

Suddenly she’s having heated fantasies about her subject, fantasies this blue-eyed devil is only too willing to stoke.

She thought self-control was in her DNA; after all, she grew up a minister’s daughter.

She thought wrong.

Rock star Zander Freedman has been an outlier–many would say an outcast–for most of his life.

But there’s no disaster he can’t overcome, from the breakup of his band to the inevitable damage to his reputation.

His Resurrection Tour is shaping up to be his greatest triumph–if his golden voice holds out.

Contracting a respected biographer is simply about creating more buzz. Elizabeth’s integrity is the key to consolidating his legacy as one of rock’s greats.

All the damn woman has to do is write down what he tells her. Not force him to think.

Or encourage the good guy struggling to get out.

And certainly not make him fall in love for the first time in his life.

Turns out he is scared of something: being known.

Rise is a self-published sequel to Karina Bliss’s 2010 Superromance What the Librarian Did, although this is a stand-alone, and you don't need to have read the first book. The hero, Zander Freedman, could be viewed as the villain of What the Librarian Did, but after finishing that one, I wanted to know what happened to Zander, and if he could be redeemed. I wanted him to have his own happy ending. It’s been a long time coming, but it was so worth the wait.

[Don't keep US in suspense!]

Dec 8 2014 1:00pm

First Look: AJ Pine’s What If (December 8, 2014)

What If by AJ PineAJ Pine
What If (If Only)
Entangled / December 8, 2014 / $0.99 digital

Sometimes it takes letting go of the past to find out who you want to be.

During his semester abroad, Griffin Reed almost gave his heart to a girl who loved someone else. Lesson learned. Now he’s home, where following in his father’s footsteps may not be what he wants, but it’s what his parents expect. It might be taking the easy road, but he doesn’t see a way out.

Something that could have killed Maggie Kendall took away the person she used to be instead. Her condition makes her dependent on sticky notes, photos, and medication just to get through each day. The last thing she needs is a distraction—or someone new to disappoint.

What they refuse to see is they are perfect for each other. Maggie makes Griffin want to be a better man, and he makes her believe a future is possible. But these two have to find a way to share the secrets ripping them apart, if they’re ever going to have a chance at happiness.

In the first book in A.J. Pine’s If Only series, Griffin is part of a love triangle that ended badly. For him. A couple years later, his former love is still happily dating his rival and Griffin no longer believes in happy endings. Which in true Romancelandia style, he hides by being the 21st century version of a rake. The broken and broken-hearted bad boy falling in love is one of my favorite tropes and Griffin does not disappoint on that front.

[What if he changes his ways when he meets the right girl?]

Oct 27 2014 3:30pm

First Look: Valerie Bowman’s The Accidental Countess (October 28, 2014)

The Accidental Countess by Valerie BowmanValerie Bowman
The Accidental Countess
St. Martin's Press / October 28, 2014 / $7.99 print, digital

For seven long years, Lady Cassandra Monroe has waited for the man of her dreams to return from the war. Unfortunately, he happens to be engaged to her flighty cousin. What Cass wouldn’t give to take her cousin’s place! When he mistakes Cass for Patience Bunbury, a fictitious friend her cousin has invented to escape social obligations…even with her future husband, Cass thinks this is her chance.

After defeating Napoleon at Waterloo, Captain Julian Swift is not quite ready to settle down and enter into his unwanted arranged marriage—especially when the real object of his affection turns out to be a beguiling beauty he meets at a party. Patience Bunbury is witty, independent, passionate…and, unbeknownst to him, the cousin of his current fiancée. When the truth about Cass comes out—and Julian  discovers that their courtship is anything but accidental—will he surrender his heart to a woman who really is too good to be true.

There is nothing quite like a Regency romp. The silliness and witty banter and house parties and the absolute certainty that, no matter how bad things are looking, they really, truly will work out in the end. Valerie Bowman's The Accidental Countess is a gender-swap take on Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, with all the love and faux rivals. There is even an imaginary Bunbury.

[We're Wilde about this story!]

Aug 2 2014 1:00pm

First Look: Lia Riley’s Upside Down (August 5, 2014)

Upside Down by Lia RileyLia Riley
Upside Down
Grand Central / August 5, 2014 / $3.99 digital

Twenty-one-year-old Natalia Stolfi is saying goodbye to painful memories—and turning her life upside down with a trip to the land down under. For the next six months, she’ll pretend to be a carefree exchange student. Everything is going to plan until she meets a surly surfer with hypnotic green eyes, and the troubling ability to see straight through her act.

Bran Lockhart is having the worst year on record. After the girl of his dreams turned into a nightmare, he slunk back to Melbourne to piece his life together. Yet no amount of disappointment could blind him to the pretty California girl who gets past all his defenses. He’s never wanted anyone the way he wants Talia. A single semester abroad won’t cover something this serious. But when Bran gets a stark reminder of why he stopped believing in love, he and Talia must decide if what they have is once in a lifetime . . . or if they were meant to live a world apart.

Talia’s trip down under is an escape, pure and simple. What makes her a likeable heroine is that she knows just what she's doing. Her entire life is a mess; her family, her love life, her studies, all of it has spiraled out of her control. She might be lying to everyone in her life about just how bad things have gotten, but she doesn’t lie to herself.

[You can tell us the truth, too!]

Apr 30 2014 3:45pm

First Look: Jamie Brenner’s Ruin Me (May 6, 2014)

Ruin Me by Jamie BrennerJamie Brenner
Ruin Me
St. Martin's Griffin / May 6, 2014 / $3.99 digital

Lulu Sterling thinks she has it all figured out: with one more year left at NYU, she’s spending her summer interning at her mother’s iconic art gallery, determined to overcome the long shadow of her father’s suicide and prove herself to her critical mother. With her boyfriend, rising artist Brandt Penn, Lulu also hopes she will finally experience the love and desire that have always eluded her. But passion comes where she least expects it in the form of a brilliant, reclusive street artist known only by the tag GoST, and Lulu must decide how much she is willing to risk – and how far she is willing to go — to claim it.

I grew up in Manhattan in the '80s when Keith Haring and his compatriots were raising graffiti to an art form. But despite the high end galleries selling such work, the city’s buildings were covered with spray paint. Maybe this street art was working its way into the mainstream, but it still was very much something I could spot in the wild—on a billboard or on the side of a bus stop. The art felt vital, important. Not some untouchable canvas on the wall of the Met to be contemplated in silence, but something urgent. Something worth getting arrested for, maybe worth dying for.

[Sounds intense!...]

Apr 23 2014 8:30am

Family, Dogs, and Love: Jennifer Crusie’s Various Temptations

Welcome to Temptation by Jennifer CrusieJennifer Crusie has never been an especially prolific author and that’s even more true now. But each of her books sticks with me. I love the crazy plots, the zingy one-liners, the madcap escapades. Each of her books sits on my keeper shelf, waiting for me to pick them up and revisit those characters I know and love as well as old friends. And like old friends, Crusie’s books have taught me things, life lessons that I carry with me out into the real world.

Family Makes You Crazy

All of Crusie’s books are filled with family, which makes sense because family shapes us and makes us who we are, for better or worse. Family gives you your start in life and if you’re a Crusie character, they drive you up a wall. Min in Bet Me even goes so far as to give up butter to appease her mother. Rest assured, the book makes it clear what a horrible tragedy that is. In Welcome to Temptation, Sophie ties herself into knots to get her movie made while also trying to keep both her brother and sister from getting themselves arrested. She lies, cheats, steals, even risks the love of her life to protect her siblings. There is nothing that threatens your sanity like the people you love most in the world.

And then there is my own favorite Crusie, Faking It. Every single character in that book is bent, twisted somehow. Secret persona, criminal history, or simply scary needlepoint, they are all a bit, or a whole lot, left of center and I love every single one of them.

[“Sanity” is a relative term...]

Apr 10 2014 8:30am

Simple, Honest, Relevant: The Romance Novels of Betty Neels

The Daughter of the Manor by Betty NeelsSome older romance novels don’t hold up well to the passage of time. The changes in fashion make the clothes seem dated; the changes in tech make the situations seem absurd; the changes in male-female relations make the romance seem stilted. It’s amazing what we thought was charming, romantic, or hot twenty or thirty years ago. The heroine of lots of those books seem insipid. The heroes of many of those books are hard to take in large doses without setting fire to the book.

A Betty Neels book is a different breed. The books are dated, but the characters are so strong it doesn’t matter in the least. Her heroes are usually doctors and whether they are a country doctor in a small village or a highly sought after specialist, they are all used to getting their own way. They are alpha, through and through, but underneath there is a gentleness. One of my favorite scenes is in Daughter of the Manor. The heroine Leonora is running herself into the ground caring for the great, old manor of the title and for her sick relatives. To help her out, the hero arranges for dinner to be brought to her. But, knowing her pride wouldn’t permit her to accept charity, he passes it off as a gift from a neighbor. The really amazing thing is the way the hero James talks about Leonora. He doesn’t fault her for her pride or think it silly or useless. It’s a part of her personality and he just accepts it and works around it to try and make her life easier without causing her any embarrassment.

[That's all anyone really wants...]

Apr 8 2014 1:00pm

First Look: Tessa Bailey’s Unfixable (April 14, 2014)

Unfixable by Tessa BaileyTessa Bailey
Entangled Embrace / April 14, 2014 / $2.99 digital

Willa Peet isn’t interested in love. She’s been there, done that, and has the shattered heart to prove it. Ready to shake the breakup, she heads to Dublin, Ireland. But there’s a problem. A dark-haired, blue-eyed problem with a bad attitude that rivals her own. And he’s not doling out friendly Irish welcomes.

Shane Claymore just wants to race. The death of his father forced him off the Formula One circuit, but he’s only staying in Dublin long enough to sell the Claymore Inn and get things in order for his mother and younger sister. He never expected the sarcastic American girl staying at the inn to make him question everything.

But even as Willa and Shane’s fiery natures draw them together, their pasts threaten to rip them apart. Can Shane give up racing to be with the woman he loves, or will Willa’s quest to resurrect the tough-talking, no-shit-taking girl she used to be destroy any hope of a future together?

Unfixable is a New Adult title, but also a sequel to Tessa Bailey’s popular Line of Duty series. Our heroine Willa is the younger sister of the heroine from Protecting What’s His. Although Ginger and her HEA play a part in Willa’s book, it never felt gratuitous (although I will be forced to go back and read her story!) or unwelcome. “Love few, love hard” is the Peet family motto and Ginger and her husband are two of the few people Willa loves. Willa’s past and how she views herself because of that past play a big part in the conflict of Unfixable.

[Don't look back...]

Feb 16 2014 10:36am

First Look: Karen Booth’s Back Forever (February 17, 2014)

Karen Booth
Back Forever
Turquoise Morning Press / February 17, 2014 / $3.99 digital 

The breakup that rocked Christopher Penman and Claire Abby’s romance was a painful test of their love. Now back together, they’re eager to embrace their future. Christopher’s band is making a run at it after a long hiatus. Claire lands a magazine job she never dreamed she could get. Only a ring on Claire’s finger and a baby on the way could make their new life more complete, and Chris is determined they’ll have everything they ever wanted.

But when Claire’s dad starts behaving strangely and her teenage daughter feels left out, Chris and Claire’s picture-perfect plans begin to unravel. Career demands, family strife, and a piece of devastating news send Claire into a downward spiral. Chris must help Claire find the good in all they’ve been through–they will have it all as long as they have each other, forever.

When I realized Karen Booth's Back Forever wasn’t just a connected book, but a sequel to Bring Me Back, I got a copy and read that first and I’m really glad I did. It can be read as a stand-alone novel, but the dedication reads “To every reader who fell in love with Chris and wished to be Claire.” Back Forever is a love letter to fans of Chris and Claire.

[Fall for them again...]

Feb 5 2014 3:30pm

First Look: Suleikha Snyder’s Bollywood and the Beast (February 11, 2014)

Suleikha Snyder
Bollywood and the Beast
Samhain / February 11, 2014 / $4.50 digital

American-born ingénue Rakhee “Rocky” Varma knows a career in Bollywood is no fairy tale, but that truth hits home when her outspoken nature lands her in hot water with the media.

Banished to her leading man’s crumbling mansion on the outskirts of Delhi until things cool down, she is wholly unprepared to meet her costar’s reclusive brother, Taj Ali Khan. Taj, a former action hero until a stunt gone horribly wrong ended his career, wears a cape of scars and a crown of rudeness.

As his cynicism collides with her determination to stick it out in Bollywood no matter what, sparks fly. But little do they know that demons not of their making may turn their fiery, fragile connection to ash. And it will take more than sheer grit to face down the most frightening monsters of all—the ones inside themselves.

Bollywood is the perfect setting for a romance with its glamour and emphasis on appearances, as demonstrated by Suleikha Snyder's Bollywood and the Beast. Bollywood's a fantasy world where reality and illusion coexist and then when heroine Rocky goes to stay in the Beast’s castle, the whole story takes on a magical feel, one that allows anything to happen.

[Expect the unexpected...]

Jan 17 2014 12:00pm

First Look: Mary Ann Rivers’s Live (January 21, 2014)

Mary Ann Rivers
Loveswept / January 21, 2014 / $2.99 digital

If there’s an upside to unemployment, Destiny Burnside may have found it. Job searching at her local library in Lakefield, Ohio, gives her plenty of time to ogle the hottest man she has ever laid eyes on: the sexy wood-carver who’s restoring the building. But as the rejection letters pile up, Destiny finds an unexpected shoulder to cry on. With his rich Welsh accent, Hefin Thomas stirs Destiny so completely that, even though he’s leaving soon, she lets herself believe the memory of his scorching kisses will be enough.

Hefin can’t help but notice the slender, confident woman with ginger hair who returns each day, so hopeful and determined. So when the tears start to fall, his silence—penance for a failed marriage—finally cracks. Once he’s touched her, what Hefin wants is to take her back to Wales and hold her forever. But Destiny’s roots run too deep. What they both need is each other—to learn how to live and love again.

Mary Ann Rivers's debut full-length, Live, will make you curl up with your box of tissues and cry until you’re not even sure whether they count as happy or sad tears. Rivers's world and characters feel so real, their emotions so raw, that I need the almost poetic beauty of the words to bear so much truth.

[Hurts so good...]

Dec 20 2013 4:00pm

H&H Bloggers Recommend: Best of 2013, Day 2

Written in Red by Anne BishopMay old friends be forgot? We don't think so! We're celebrating our favorite reads with four days of the Best of 2013. We asked our bloggers for their favorite books of 2013, with one stipulation, they had to be new to them and not necessarily new to 2013. We know we got a few recommendations to add to our to be read piles and it's a great way to feed those readers you hopefully get for Christmas!

Check back every other weekday between now and Christmas for all of the blogger recommendations! See the recommendations for Day 1Day 3, and Day 4.

Sahara Hoshi:

Anne Bishop's Written in Red
Cranky wolf shifter meets fun and adorable magically gifted heroine, what's not to love?

Nalini Singh's Heart of Obsidian
The heroine has an amazing name and the hero isn't too shabby either.

Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl
For every time you squeed or sighed over something and nobody understood you, finally there's a book for it.

[Who's next!]

Nov 17 2013 11:45am

CE, POV, Stet: Decoding the Author

Quill and inkMore and more, authors are engaging with readers online. It’s great to be able to tell a favorite author how much I love her work. Just as fun as the peek behind the scenes as an author is researching the next book—pinning pictures of the hero or the location and tweeting little plot points that make me want to gobble the book up.

While following along, sometimes the lingo gets a bit hard to follow along. Most of the time Google comes to my rescue quite nicely but some of the terms were a bit hard to ferret out. If I can’t guess from the context or find it with a quick search, I’ve even interrupted a conversation to ask before, because I’m needy like that. So that you don’t have to do that, here’s a glossary of some of the more common words I see floating around on Facebook and Twitter.

Copy Editor or CE: The copy editor doesn’t concern herself with the content of the story. That part is settled at this point. She is the one who checks not just the spelling and grammar of the manuscript but keeps track of the continuity. She’s the reason that the heroine doesn’t sit down twice and that the hero isn’t both brown eyed and later blue eyed.

[What else've ya got?...]

Nov 11 2013 4:30pm

First Look: Elisabeth Barrett’s Christmas in Tahoe (November 11, 2013)

Christmas in Tahoe by Elisabeth BarrettElisabeth Barrett
Christmas in Tahoe
Elisabeth Barrett / November 11, 2013 / $2.99 digital

Silicon Valley actuary Ann Smith is an expert at calculating probabilities, but lately the odds haven’t been in her favor. Two years ago her fiancé died a week before their planned Christmas wedding, leaving Ann heartbroken and alone. When a friend suggests heading up to Lake Tahoe for a long Christmas weekend of skiing, wine, and relaxation, Ann thinks it might be just the thing to help get her life back on track. But Ann’s plans go awry when her friend cancels at the last minute, and Ann ends up driving to Tahoe with Chase Deckert, a sexy snowboarder who pushes all her buttons.

Chase Deckert is a man who lives by his own rules. A few years ago his business partner betrayed him by selling out their biomedical research for a quick profit. Chase left science far behind, and now spends his days snowboarding in Tahoe, wanting nothing to do with the dog-eat-dog world of Silicon Valley. Chase has closed his mind and his heart and only believes in one thing: fate. But fate seems to be in a giving mood, because joining him for Christmas is a brave, beautiful woman who shows him the true meaning of the season and helps him rediscover a part of himself he’d long forgotten.

Fueled by the mountain scenery, the season, and their unbelievable chemistry, Ann and Chase end up learning more about each other—and themselves—than they ever imagined possible. Can one long, steamy Christmas help them realize they’re meant to be together? Or when the holiday is over will they be right back where they started?

Elisabeth Barrett's Christmas in Tahoe takes a number of the romance genre’s expectations and tweaks them just a bit. Our heroine Ann Smith is still struggling with being an “almost widow” two years after her fiancé’s sudden death. She’s been barely holding on, burying herself in the welcome oblivion of a busy career.

One of the first things that caught my eye about this book was the heroine’s occupation. She’s an actuary. Now that’s an occupation that stands out in a sea of cupcake decorators and B&B owners. Even better, Ann Smith loves her job, loves making sense of the world around her. It’s not every heroine who can own a profession that is stereotyped as so dull and uninteresting and bring love and passion to it. Her work for an insurance company is a way to help people. Her passion for compiling facts numbers extends to carrying a GPS on her road trip, so she’ll always know where she’s going and where she’s been.

[Gotta love love a well-drawn heroine...]

Oct 31 2013 12:30pm

Ruthie Knox’s Truly Is Truly Wonderful

Truly by Ruthie KnoxRuthie Knox’s latest book is available for free for a limited time on Wattpad. The book has been serialized over the last two months, each week bringing another chunk of the story. Knox’s emotional stories are a good fit for a serial; at no point do the chapter endings feel like forced cliffhanger endings designed to drive readers back the following week, but it was still hard to wait even overnight for the latest installment.

Truly has been a wonderful read. It’s so very close to the end now that even if you don’t like the serialized format, you should jump in and read: the next and last installment will post Monday, November 4. But hurry! Not long after that Knox’s publisher will pull the Wattpad book in anticipation of traditionally publishing the book in the summer of 2014.

Wattpad itself is really way more fun to use than I expected. It’s a book and Pinterest and Facebook all rolled into one, turning reading into a social media experience. Each chapter of Truly has a picture with it, a bit of inspiration or scenery related to the chapter and there’s space for comments and conversation at the bottom. It made reading the book feel at once intimate and really public, just like one of my favorite things in life: Twitter!

[The joys of social reading...]

Oct 8 2013 9:24am

Initial Approval for Emma Approved

Emma Woodhouse in Emma ApprovedYesterday saw the debut of the new webseries, Emma Approved, from the team responsible for The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. The new show is the team's adaptation of Austen’s Emma. While I loved The LBD, I never quite warmed up to Welcome to Sanditon in the same way. I think part of that was the fact that I wasn’t as familiar with the source material. I, like many romance readers, have read and reread Pride and Prejudice and watched every adaptation and even read most of the derivative works. I enjoyed seeing how The LBD brought their own spin on the characters I loved as much as I liked watching the story unfold. I love Emma nearly as much as P&P, so I’m looking forward to see how all these characters and their situations translate to the modern world.

The Emma Woodhouse of the novel runs her friends’ lives with more enthusiasm than skill or understanding and they tolerate her because of her goodness and their affection for her. It’s a fine line. It’s easy for Emma to seem unsympathetic and selfish instead of a little spoiled and oblivious and over-confident. I think this Emma is going to walk the right side of the line for me.

[What Would Jane Austen Do?...]

Oct 7 2013 2:00pm

Build Me Up, Buttercup: The Princess Bride’s Heroine as Romance Type

Princess Buttercup in The Princess BrideSeveral months back, Shelley Ann Clark wrote a post on The Princess Bride at Wonkomance about all the different kinds of love in the relationships in that movie. It was a lovely post reminding me why I love that movie so much. After I was done, I thought more about Buttercup and how she is so often maligned as a weak heroine. And it’s true, she is weak. She isn’t the smartest or strongest character; she has no magical or martial skills. She isn’t the equal of any of the men in the movie. But I think she is still the heroine.

Despite her deficits, Buttercup jumps off the boat to flee Vizzini, fights off the Dread Pirate Robert and refuses to be cowed by Prince Humperdink. She never gets very far with her efforts, but it’s not for want of trying.  She simply doesn’t have the power to accomplish more.

While I love my kickass PNR heroines, I also like a relationship where the heroine seems completely outclassed, yet somehow ends up winning the hero’s heart. One of my favorite books is Carolyn Jewel’s Lord Ruin for this reason (and many others). Anne isn’t popular or talented or beautiful, which of course is of such great importance for a woman at that time.  She is forced to marry a duke who is titled, rich, handsome, powerful and pursued by women. Their relationship should feel unbalanced, but she never fails to do her best to take what control she can of circumstance and her own heart.

[Never let anyone make you feel unworthy...]

Oct 4 2013 8:30am

Can’t Help Falling in Love with Bella Andre

I Only Have Eyes for You by Bella AndreBella Andre is widely read, and her books are well-loved. It’s easy to see why; the standard pieces from a romance are rearranged, like she spun a kaleidoscope, and all the colors fall together in a new pattern.

The Sullivan series, all her books really, are a wonderful blend of the traditional romance that many of us grew up reading and something more modern. I Only Have Eyes for You is a best friend’s little sister book. The bad boy hero has the expected qualms about getting involved with good girl Sophie. When her sister catches them post-first-kiss, instead of lying or retreating or letting her fella take care of it, Sophie wades right in.

“He kissed me,” Sophie told her sister, her expression stubborn as she faced her. “Now you don’t have to talk about it. Let’s go.” She grabbed her sister’s hand and made sure they walked together past the shed.

In Can’t Help Falling in Love, fire fighter Gabe rescues Megan from the fire that destroys her home and everything she owns. She visits him in the hospital to thank him, but they don’t become involved until months later when Megan is back on her feet again. She doesn’t need Gabe to save her twice. In one heated love scene it’s the heroine who rips off the hero’s shirt. In high school artsy Vicki saves jock Ryan by shoving him out of the path of an oncoming car which is the start of their lifelong friendship. All those surprises keep me turning the pages.

[You can't stop there...]

Aug 28 2013 3:30pm

Growing Up, New Adult Style: Elyssa Patrick’s Stay with Me

When the New Adult genre first took off I was adamant that it wasn’t for me. I mean, my kids are nearly that age and I don’t like to think of them and their friends while I’m reading a great romance. But bit by bit, book by book, I’ve been won over and Elyssa Patrick's Stay With Me is an excellent example of why.

Hailey Bloom is a child star turned rock star, one who has dropped out of the business, left all the glitz and glamour behind, to attend a small college in Vermont. The first person narration makes for a great vehicle to show how difficult that level of fame is to tolerate and how impossible it is to completely leave behind.

“Unfortunately, everyone knows me. Or rather, they think they do.

As soon as I walked into the party earlier tonight, people bombarded me. They wanted to take a picture and get my autograph, and some even tried to get me to sing.”

Hailey has to fight hard to have a normal life and to even understand what one is. It costs her her relationship her mother and most of her Hollywood friends as well. When the book opens, Hailey is struggling to fit in and filled with insecurities. She’s at the moment of early adulthood when anything and everything seems possible and the choices are nearly overwhelming. I think this is what I found compelling in Old Skool romances with their sheltered, virgin heroines. Hailey is the polar opposite. She is far from sheltered and is refreshingly comfortable with her sexual history.

[No slut shaming here!...]

Aug 7 2013 8:30am

First Look: Elisabeth Barrett’s Slow Summer Burn (August 12, 2013)

Slow Summer Burn by Elisabeth BarrettElisabeth Barrett
Slow Summer Burn
Loveswept / August 12, 2013 / $2.99 digital

Cameron Stahl has everything, so why does she feel like her life is incomplete? A beautiful Boston socialite and a successful entrepreneur, she’s just opened her second boutique in Star Harbor and business is booming. But one searing look from Val Grayson sends fire through her body and shows her exactly what’s missing from her life: a real man who doesn’t play games and who makes her feel like the most desired woman on earth.

DEA agent Val Grayson has always looked after his brothers. Now it’s his turn to find love—though Cam is the last sort of woman he ever dreamed he’d fall for. When courageous Cam realizes she has the insider connections to help Val take down a major drug player within Boston’s political elite, he can’t stop her from putting herself in danger. But as the drug bust of his career looms, all Val cares about is saving the woman he loves before it’s too late.

Elisabeth Barrett’s Slow Summer Burn is the fourth book in her popular Star Harbor series. If only Star Harbor were a real place; the town is charming and Barrett perfectly captures that New England beach town feel (her bio says she grew up spending summers on Cape Cod). Since I now live far from the Massachusetts coast, after reading this book I watched The Vineyard, a new “reality” show based on Martha’s Vineyard. I think I should stick with the more entertaining and personable people of Star Harbor.

[Pull up a chair and let's dish...]