<i>Her Lone Wolf</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Her Lone Wolf: Exclusive Excerpt Paige Tyler "It was all he could do not to bury his nose in the curve of her neck..." <i>His Wicked Seduction</i>: Exclusive Excerpt His Wicked Seduction: Exclusive Excerpt Lauren Smith "Lucien slid his hand down over her bottom, catching her in his grasp..." <i>The Billion Dollar Player</i>: Exclusive Excerpt The Billion Dollar Player: Exclusive Excerpt Mandy Baxter "Ultimately, she was doing them both a favor by turning him down..." <i>The Accidental Countess</i>: Exclusive Excerpt The Accidental Countess: Exclusive Excerpt Valerie Bowman "(She'd) wish him and Pen well on their nuptials and try her best not to think of him again..."
From The Blog
October 30, 2014
Best Reads of October 2014
Team H & H
October 28, 2014
Captain Marvel Movie in the Works!
Heather Waters (redline_)
October 28, 2014
Real-Life Rats and Creepy Villains
shelley coriell
October 24, 2014
Friday Beefcake: Basketball Picks!
Team H & H
October 24, 2014
Best Paranormal Romance Date Movies
Elizabeth Hunter
Showing posts by: Kate Nagy click to see Kate Nagy's profile
Sat
Oct 25 2014 2:00pm

First Look: Alexis Hall’s Prosperity (October 27, 2014)

Prosperity by Alexis HallAlexis Hall
Prosperity
Riptide / October 27, 2014 / $16.99 print, $6.99 digital

A breathtaking tale of passion and adventure in the untamed skies!

Prosperity, 1863: a lawless skytown where varlets, chancers, and ne’er-do-wells risk everything to chase a fortune in the clouds, and where a Gaslight guttersnipe named Piccadilly is about to cheat the wrong man. This mistake will endanger his life . . . and his heart. Thrill! As our hero battles dreadful kraken above Prosperity. Gasp! As the miracles of clockwork engineering allow a dead man to wreak his vengeance upon the living. Marvel! At the aerial escapades of the aethership, Shadowless.

Beware! The licentious and unchristian example set by the opium-addled navigatress, Miss Grey. Disapprove Strongly! Of the utter moral iniquity of the dastardly crime prince, Milord. Swoon! At the dashing skycaptain, Byron Kae. Swoon Again! At the tormented clergyman, Ruben Crowe. This volume (available in print, and for the first time on mechanical book-reading devices) contains the complete original text of Piccadilly’s memoirs as first serialised in All the Year Round. Some passages may prove unsettling to unmarried gentlemen of a sensitive disposition.

The above book description, which I will forever deeply regret not being the one to have written, gives you a pretty good idea what to expect from Alexis Hall’s wildly entertaining new novel Prosperity. When the marketing team behind Prosperity’s promotional activities informs us that “some passages may prove unsettling to [whatever] of a sensitive disposition,” well, you can consider that fair warning. Part heart-pounding adventure story, part coming-of-age tale, and part unconventional romance, Prosperity is what the loquacious narrator, Piccadilly (aka Dil), might call a “ripping good yarn.” In other words, you really need to read this.

[Tell us more!]

Sat
Sep 13 2014 12:00pm

Outlander: Unpacking a Controversial Scene

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon**Spoiler Alert! If you have yet to read Outlander or are new to the show, do NOT read ahead. This post is unpacking a very controversial scene from the book. Reader beware!**

When I first picked Outlander up, nearly fifteen years ago, my love for it was immediate, overwhelming, and complete. I devoured every page—the plot, the setting, and above all the unconventional romance between Jamie and Claire, whose love story would go on to form the backbone of so many sequels. I was certain that this remarkable book was destined for a spot in my all-time Top Five…

…and then I got to the part where Jamie beats Claire.

Hello, needle-on-a-record-album screeching sound!

Now, in fairness, it’s possible that I would react to That Scene a little bit differently were I to encounter it for the first time today, when everyone has safe words and fur-lined handcuffs, while unassuming suburban split-levels are being outfitted with their very own Red Rooms of Pain. It’s possible…but it’s not likely. What Jamie does to Claire is not done in a fun, consensual, Fifty-Shades-of-Tartan kind of way. It’s done out of anger, frustration, desperation, and even in a sense necessity, as Jamie is in danger of losing the respect of his men for “allowing” Claire to behave in such an erratic and potentially dangerous manner:

[She might need to be put in her place...but this way?]

Thu
Aug 28 2014 3:00pm

First Look: Grace Burrowes’s The Laird (September 2, 2014)

The Laird by Grace BurrowesGrace Burrowes
The Laird (Captive Hearts)
Sourcebooks Casablanca
/ September 2, 2014 / $7.99 print and digital

He left his bride to go to war...
After years of soldiering, Michael Brodie returns to his Highland estate to find that the bride he left behind has become a stranger. Brenna is self-sufficient, competent, confident-and furious about Michael's prolonged absence.

Now his most important battle will be for her heart
Brenna is also hurt, bewildered, and tired of fighting for the respect of those around her. Michael left her when she needed him most, and then stayed away even after the war ended. Nonetheless, the young man who abandoned her has come home a wiser, more patient and honorable husband. But if she trusts Michael with the truths she's been guarding, he'll have to choose between his wife and everything else he holds dear.

In her most recent novel, The Traitor, Grace Burrowes accomplished the difficult challenge of rehabilitating Sebastian St. Clair, formerly a professional torturer in Napoleon’s employ.  The Laird is a book for anyone who found The Traitor too-light-hearted. The story of Sebastian’s boon companion Michael Brodie and Michael’s long-estranged wife Brenna, The Laird details sensitively yet frankly with a very dark topic indeed: the sexual abuse of a child. Although Burrowes is not gratuitous in her handling of this topic, neither does she pull any punches. This has been your trigger warning.

[We are warned...]

Fri
Aug 22 2014 2:00pm

First Look: Kristen Callihan’s Evernight (August 26, 2014)

Evernight by Kristen CallihanKristen Callihan
Evernight (Darkest London #5)
Forever / August 26, 2014 / $6.00 print, $5.99 digital

Once the night comes . . .

Will Thorne is living a nightmare, his sanity slowly being drained away by a force he can't control. His talents have made him the perfect assassin for hire. But as he loses his grip on reality, there is no calming him-until he finds his next target: the mysterious Holly Evernight.

Love must cast aside the shadows

Holly cannot fathom who would put a contract on her life, yet the moment she touches Will, the connection between them is elemental, undeniable-and she's the only one who can tame his bouts of madness. But other assassins are coming for Holly. Will must transform from killer to protector and find the man who wants Holly dead . . . or his only chance for redemption will be lost.

Ever since she burst on to the scene with the inventive and powerfully romantic Firelight back in 2012, Kristen Callihan has been turning out unique and gripping tales that put the steam in steampunk. Even beyond her dense plots and compelling love stories, she’s a master at world-building. Each of her novels is a magnificent edifice in which Victorian London, with its bustle and damp and grime and energy, forms the foundation; the supernatural, including werewolves, ghosts, and an array of other creatures, forms the walls, and the whole is topped off with clever mechanical innovation. Dirigibles float serenely across Callihan’s London sky, while on the ground ghosts with hearts that tick like clocks move with ease among the unaware populace, mingling with werewolves, fae, angels, and vampires.

[Ever-inventive!...]

Thu
Aug 7 2014 4:30pm

Dear Old Mum Taught You Better Than That: Outlander and Gender Politics

Outlander by Diana GabaldonAs pretty much everyone knows by now, Vanity Fair recently ran a short piece by one Joanna Robinson about Starz’s upcoming Outlander series. The piece was rather unwisely entitled “Does the New Outlander Series Have What It Takes to Be More than Just a Bodice-Ripper?” Ms. Robinson’s conclusion (as far as I can tell; this wasn’t VF’s finest hour by any stretch) was no, because based on a couple of clips she saw at ComiCon, it was obvious to her that the show was made for and marketed toward (gasp!) wimminz, which would perforce prevent it from being a bona fide hit.

The response was swift and merciless, even here. Last week, Megan Frampton offered up a furious but measured response; commenters were even more, let us say, passionate in their remarks. “Another idiot trying to validate her superiority by 'differentiating' herself from ‘those other females’ and putting down anything liked or valued by ‘them women,’” opined our own Bungluna. Over at Vanity Fair, responses trended positively savage: “Your sloppy, uninformed article can suck a duck,” said one. “I hope you can get a refund from whatever University doled out your degree, along with the free keychain,” said another. “How unfortunate that Vanity Fair allowed a two-penny hack to write this review.” “Too bad that Joanna Robinson was taught to string words together without actually learning to read.” “You are living proof that a horse’s arse has teeth.”

[Wee bit harsh...]

Mon
Aug 4 2014 2:00pm

Delicious Despair: A Talent for Agony in Kristen Callihan’s Shadowdance

Alert: The Spoiler Express, bound for Spoilertown, is now boarding! Seriously, I’m about to give away a pretty significant plot twist. Read on at your own risk.

In Kristen Callihan’s spooky steampunk Darkest London series, no two characters have darker histories than Jack Talent and Mary Chase. Jack may strut around town as a powerful shape-shifter and member in good standing of the Society for the Suppression of Supernaturals (SOS), an organization dedicating to keeping Queen Victoria’s loyal subjects safe from the various demons and their ilk that swirl about the Sceptered Isle. But his swagger conceals a long history of physical and emotional mistreatment, most recently at the hands of a bevy of malignant demons who abused him in every possible manner until (to his complete relief and humiliation) Mary came to his rescue.

Mary, for her part, may look like a prim Victorian miss, but she’s actually a GIM – a Ghost in the Machine, a reanimated body powered by a mechanical heart, and also in the employ of the SOS. Some years back, Mary was assaulted by a group of rowdies in an alley. Afterwards, confused and distraught, she ran into the street, where she was immediately run down by a gin wagon. At the moment of her death, she was offered second life as a GIM. She eventually became the intimate friend of an enigmatic wastrel named Lucien and allowed everyone, including her SOS colleagues, to believe that she was Lucien’s doxy.

[In Mary's case, the whole is definitely greater than the sum of its parts...]

Thu
Jul 31 2014 4:30pm

First Look: Grace Burrowes’s The Traitor (August 5, 2014)

Grace Burrowes
The Traitor
Sourcebooks Casablanca / August 5, 2014 / $7.99 print & digital

The past will overtake him...

Abandoned in France since boyhood, despite being heir to an English barony, Sebastian St. Clair makes impossible choices to survive a tour of duty in the French Army. He returns to England hoping for the peaceful life of a country gentleman, though old enemies insist on challenging him on the field of honor, one after another.

But this time, he will not fight alone...

Millicent Danforth desperately needs her position as companion to the Traitor Baron's aunt, but grieves to learn that Sebastian must continually fight a war long over. As Sebastian and Milly explore their growing passion, they uncover a plot that will cost Sebastian his life and his honor, unless he does battle once more-this time in the name of love.

I tend to think of Grace Burrowes as one of the sunniest of writers, but she actually goes to some pretty dark places in her books. After all, her assorted heroes and heroines have survived penury to various degrees, bereavement, childbirth out of wedlock (and the attendant social consequences), abusive childhoods and abusive marriages, post-traumatic stress, physical disability, and the crushing weight of parental expectations. That everything usually turns out just fine in the end proves that her books are surely optimistic, if not exactly a non-stop laugh riot.

[I'll take a happy ending, but hold the fluff...]

Thu
Jul 17 2014 9:30am

First Look: M.D. Waters’s Prototype (July 24, 2014)

Prototype by M.D. WatersM.D. Waters
Prototype (sequel to Archetype)
Dutton Adult / July 24, 2014 / $26.95 print, $12.99 digital

Emma looks forward to the day when she can let go of her past—both of them. After more than a year on the run, with clues to her parents’ whereabouts within her grasp, she may finally find a place to settle down. Start a new life. Maybe even create new memories with a new family. But the past rises to haunt her and to make sure there’s nowhere on the planet she can hide. Declan Burke wants his wife back, and with a little manipulation and a lot of reward money, he’s got the entire world on his side. Except for the one man she dreads confronting the most: Noah Tucker. Emma returns to face what she’s done but finds that the past isn’t the problem. It’s the present—and the future it represents. Noah has moved on and another woman is raising their daughter. In the shocking conclusion to M.D. Waters’s spectacular debut, Emma battles for her life and her freedom, tearing down walls and ripping off masks to reveal the truth. She’s decided to play their game and prove she isn’t the woman they thought she was. Even if it means she winds up dead. Or worse, reborn.

WARNING: M.D. WatersArchetype (the first book in this duology) is well and truly spoiled in the very first sentence of this review! If you haven’t read Archetype yet, we strongly suggest that you turn back now.

[All-righty then! Proceed at your own risk!...]

Wed
Jul 16 2014 12:00pm

Anticipating Starz’s Outlander: 5 Things the Series Shouldn’t Change

Caitriona Balfe as Claire Randall in OutlanderIn just a few short weeks, the long-awaited televised version of Diana Gabaldon’s genre classic Outlander will finally, finally reach the screen. Although at this writing Starz Network has selfishly held all sneak peeks and preview episodes entirely too close for our liking, early signs are encouraging: As acerbic time-traveler Claire and braw Scots outlaw Jamie, Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan certainly look their respective parts, and the first teaser trailers are appropriately action-packed and atmospheric. Starz has my attention, at any rate.

Outlander and its various sequels are scrupulously researched, densely plotted, and lushly written; to read one for the first time is to be lost in another world, probably for several days. It’s inevitable that some aspects of the novel will be lost in translation from page to screen. In some cases, that’s fine—I, for one, would be perfectly content if the showrunners were to tone the violence (especially the sexual violence) way, way down and conveniently forget about Jamie’s unfortunate tendency to address any woman with whom he finds himself in disagreement as “Whore.” But there are some things that simply must remain the same. Here are five.

[We love lists, let's begin...]

Sat
Jul 5 2014 10:00am

Falling in Love with Leslie O’Grady’s The Artist’s Daughter

The Artist's Daughter by Leslie O'GradyThe Artist’s Daughter may not have been the first romance novel I ever read, but it’s the first one I remember reading. Published when I was a wide-eyed fifth grader in 1979, this engrossing tale of a plucky Victorian-era writer whose flight from an abusive marriage plunges her into a world of danger, intrigue, and passion launched Leslie O’Grady’s career, which stretched through the '80s and '90s. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, O’Grady’s spirited heroine and brooding yet kindly hero would be characters against whom I would measure all such others, however unconsciously, over the next several decades. Many romantic heroes and heroines would fall short over the years. Many still do.

But how does the book itself hold up, some 35 years after its publication?

Our story begins in 1863 when Nora Woburn, author of scandalous novels and titular artist’s daughter, discovers that her estranged husband, Oliver, has been helping himself to the contents of her bank account and has every intention of continuing to do so. Nora’s condescending solicitor informs her that Oliver’s actions are entirely legal, and that her choices by way of response include returning to her husband or becoming a “fancy lady” on the London streets. Requesting aid from her father, a painter of some repute who mingles with the likes of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and William Morris, is out of the question; the two have not spoken since Nora defied him to marry Oliver five or six years back.

[I mean, we wouldn't approve of Oliver either!]

Thu
Jul 3 2014 9:30am

First Look: Rainbow Rowell’s Landline (July 8, 2014)

Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Rainbow Rowell
Landline
St. Martin’s Press / July 8, 2014 / $24.99 print / $11.99 digital

Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. That it’s been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply—but that almost seems beside the point now.

Maybe that was always beside the point.

Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her—Neal is always a little upset with Georgie—but she doesn’t expect to him to pack up the kids and go without her.

When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.

That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts.

Is that what she’s supposed to do?

Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?

Most of romance novels I’ve been reading lately deal with—let us say—outsized problems. Dark secrets, family feuds, and supernatural complications abound as larger-than-life heroes and heroines battle tortured pasts, evil siblings, or (occasionally) Satan’s minions en route to their HEA. These are usually emotionally compelling and highly entertaining books, but I sometimes have a hard time placing myself precisely in the heroine’s shoes, if you know what I mean.

[If the shoe fits, by all means, put it on!]

Thu
Apr 17 2014 9:30am

First Look: L.G. O’Connor’s Trinity Stones (April 22, 2014)

Trinity Stones by L.G. O'ConnorL.G. O'Connor
Trinity Stones
She Writes Press / April 22, 2014 (U.S.) / $18.95 print, $4.95 digital

Between a hostile work environment and an impossible romantic situation with her longtime friend and first love, Dr. Kai Solomon, anxiety-ridden New York investment banker Cara Collins has little to smile about on her 27th birthday. But before the day ends, she learns she has inherited $50 million—a windfall that she must keep secret if she wishes to keep the lives of those close to her safe.

As Cara unravels the truth surrounding her inheritance, she makes a startling discovery: angels walk among the living, and they're getting ready to engage in a battle that will determine the future of the human race. In the midst of these revelations, she meets mysterious and sophisticated Simon Young, who offers her the promise of romance for the first time since Kai.

When Kai and his daughter are kidnapped by dark forces, Cara must choose: accept her place in a 2,000-year-old prophecy foretold in the Trinity Stones as the First of the Twelve who will lead the final battle between good and evil . . . or risk losing everything she holds dear. In doing so, she realizes that not only her heart but also her destiny is entwined with the two men in her life.

Angels! Vampires, succubi, demon kings, and other bad boys of the supernatural realm get a lot of press, but where’s the love for our winged protectors from on high? Oh, we have J.R. Ward’s irreverent Fallen Angels, who somehow manage to find themselves in a lot of decidedly wicked situations, as well as Sharon Shinn’s more PG-rated Angels of Samaria. I’m sure there are others I have missed. But for whatever reason – I suspect that many authors prefer to steer clear of the explicit religiosity implied in the term – angels have tended to get somewhat short shrift in romantic fiction.

Now, however, fans of things angelic will sing a hearty “Gloria!” to learn that Trinity Stones, the first installment in L.G. O’Connor’s Angelorum Twelve Chronicles, has arrived. O’Connor has created a complex and fascinating world full of passion, intrigue, and bravery in the eternal battle between good and evil. Fans of the “angel” subgenre will want to check it out.

[Be an angel and keep reading, won't you?...]

Wed
Feb 5 2014 5:30pm

First Look: Patience Bloom’s Romance is My Day Job (February 6, 2014)

Romance Is My Day Job by Patience BloomPatience Bloom
Romance Is My Day Job
Dutton / February 6, 2014 / $26.95 print, $10.99 digital

At some point, we’ve all wished romance could be more like fiction. Patience Bloom certainly did, many times over. As a teen she fell in love with Harlequin novels and imagined her life would turn out just like the heroines’ on the page: That shy guy she had a crush on wouldn’t just take her out—he’d sweep her off her feet with witty banter, quiet charm, and a secret life as a rock star. Not exactly her reality, but Bloom kept reading books that fed her reveries.

Years later she moved to New York and found her dream job, editing romances for Harlequin. Every day, her romantic fantasies came true—on paper. Bloom became an expert when it came to fictional love stories, editing amazing books and learning everything she could about the romance business. But her dating life remained uninspired. She nearly gave up on love.

Then one day a real-life chance at romance made her wonder if what she’d been writing and editing all those years might be true. A Facebook message from a high school friend, Sam, sparked a relationship with more promise than she’d had in years. But Sam lived thousands of miles away—they hadn’t seen each other in more than twenty years. Was it worth the risk?

Finally, Bloom learned: Love and romance can conquer all.

At some point, we’ve all wished romance could be more like fiction. Truer words were never spoken.

Patience Bloom and I are of an age, and we have a lot in common. Understand: Unlike Patience, I did not attend boarding school, matriculate at an expensive private liberal-arts college, or escape one of my more disastrous romantic relationships by removing to Paris. But emotionally? Yeah, I believed with all my heart that what I read in romance novels was absolutely true. Love would blindside me when I least expected it (and therefore, in deliberately not expecting it, I was always looking for it, if you know what I mean); sex would be transcendent—always; and I would marry the first boy I kissed, whereupon we would fade into a vaguely-defined but sure to be perfect Happily Ever After.

Then, as they say, Life Happened.

[Why you gotta be so intrusive, reality?...]

Sat
Feb 1 2014 4:00pm

First Look: M.D. Waters’s Archetype (February 6, 2014)

Archetype by M.D. WatersM.D. Waters
Archetype
Dutton / February 6, 2014 / $26.95 print, $12.99 digital

Emma wakes in a hospital, with no memory of what came before. Her husband, Declan, a powerful, seductive man, provides her with new memories, but her dreams contradict his stories, showing her a past life she can’t believe possible: memories of war, of a camp where girls are trained to be wives, of love for another man. Something inside her tells her not to speak of this, but she does not know why. She only knows she is at war with herself.

Suppressing those dreams during daylight hours, Emma lets Declan mold her into a happily married woman and begins to fall in love with him. But the day Noah stands before her, the line between her reality and dreams shatters.

In a future where women are a rare commodity, Emma fights for freedom but is held captive by the love of two men—one her husband, the other her worst enemy. If only she could remember which is which…

Hoo boy. I am at a loss. Don’t get me wrong—I enjoyed the heck out of Archetype, M.D. Waters’s twisty, imaginative debut novel. But that’s just the thing—it’s so twisty and so imaginative that I don’t want to give any of its secrets away. I can say this, though: Get your hands on a copy, clear your calendar, turn off your phone, and inform your loved ones that you’ll be taking a few hours to yourself. Once you get started, you will not want to put this book down.

[Intrigued? Read on...]

Thu
Jan 30 2014 5:30pm

First Look: Grace Burrowes’s The MacGregor’s Lady (February 4, 2014)

The MacGregor's Lady by Grace BurrowesGrace Burrowes
The MacGregor’s Lady
Sourcebooks Casablanca / February 4, 2014 / $7.99 print & digital

The last thing Asher MacGregor, newly titled Earl of Balfour, wants is a society wife, though he has agreed to squire Boston heiress Hannah Cooper about the London ballrooms. When he's met that obligation, he'll return to the Highlands, and resume the myriad responsibilities awaiting him there.

At her step-father's insistence, Hannah Cooper must endure a London season, though she has no intention of surrendering her inheritance to a fortune hunter. When she's done her duty, she'll return to Boston and the siblings who depend upon her for their safety... or will she? The taciturn Scottish earl suits her purposes admirably-until genuine liking and unexpected passion bring Asher and Hannah close. For if the Scottish earl and the American heiress fall in love, an ocean of differences threatens to keep them apart.

Torture. Torment. Delicious despair. Those words pretty much sum up The MacGregor’s Lady, the new installment in Grace Burrowes’ Victorian-set MacGregor Series. Burrowes throws obstacle after obstacle at Asher and Hannah, the long-suffering lovers at the heart of this story, until the whole thing turns into a regular old sob-fest near the end. However—without spoiling anything—I’d like to remind potentially hesitant readers that it’s always darkest just before dawn. Reading this book is ultimately a rewarding, if cathartic, experience.

[Hurts so good...]

Tue
Dec 17 2013 1:30pm

Why We Actually Love Love Actually So Much

Love Actually posterFor a lot of us, it’s not really Christmas until we’ve performed that most important of rituals: the annual viewing of Love Actually. It’s hard to believe, but it has been ten years since Richard Curtis’s ambitious movie exploded off the screen and into the hearts of millions of viewers. With its star-studded cast, multiple interconnected plot lines, and iconic scenes—Hugh Grant dancing around No. 10 Downing Street to the exuberant strains of the Pointer Sisters’ “Jump” comes to mind—the film became an instant, if controversial, classic.

Controversial? Oh, yes. For every person who actually loves Love Actually and can recite the dialogue from memory, there’s another who absolutely reviles it. I myself live in such a House Divided, as I adore the movie beyond reason while my husband rolls his eyes, observes “It should be called Love Impulsively,” and makes himself scarce for the film’s entire two-hour-and-fifteen-minute runtime whenever it’s on.

[Why DO we love it so much?...]

Tue
Nov 19 2013 10:30am

Smelling the Flowers in Debbie Macomber’s Washington-Set The Shop on Blossom Street

The Shop on Blossom Street by Debbie MacomberWe’re reading our way across America…one romance at a time.

Washington: The Shop on Blossom Street by Debbie Macomber

The jewel in the crown of the Upper Northwest is undoubtedly Seattle, Washington, aka the Emerald City. Now, if the very name of the place evokes endless, dreary, rainy days and skinny, lank-haired hipsters in flannel shirts singing minimalist dirges about how bored they are, it shouldn’t. Seattle is a place of oceans and rainbows, a city where people can look to Mount Rainier in the south and observe “The mountain is out today.” The city is also full of landmarks, from the iconic (the Space Needle) to the whimsical (the Fremont Troll). Also, the weather isn’t that bad.

Seattle is also, of course, the setting for many of the 150+ novels of Washington-based author Debbie Macomber. In particular, it’s where she has set her enormously popular Blossom Street series, and it is to the first installment of that series, The Shop on Blossom Street, that we turn today.

[Here's hoping the story's still fresh as a daisy...]

Thu
Nov 14 2013 5:30pm

First Look: Hope Ramsay’s Last Chance Knit & Stitch (November 19, 2013)

Last Chance Knit & Stitch by Hope RamsayHope Ramsay
Last Chance Knit & Stitch
Forever / November 19, 2013  / $8.00 print, $7.99 digital

Molly Canaday wishes she could repair her life as easily as she fixes cars. She was all set to open her own body shop in Last Chance when her mother ran off and left her to manage the family yarn shop instead. Now guided by the unsolicited-though well-intended-advice of the weekly knitting club, Molly works to untangle this mess. But her plan unravels when the new landlord turns out to be difficult-as well as tall, dark, and handsome.

Simon Wolfe returns to quickly settle his father's estate and then leave Last Chance for good. Still wounded by a broken heart, Simon is surprised when the town's charming streets and gentle spirit bring back good memories. Soon the beautiful, strong-willed Molly sparks a powerful attraction that tempts him to break his iron-clad no-commitment rule. Can Simon and Molly find a way to share work space-and build a future together in Last Chance?

Hope Ramsay's Last Chance Knit & Stitch shoots out of the starting gate when the fiercely independent Molly Canaday discovers that her mother has all-caps HAD.ENOUGH. THANK.YOU. Frustrated by years of benign neglect at the hands of her husband, the much revered Coach Canaday—the anniversary gift of a brand-new washing machine and clothes dryer is only the final straw—Mrs. Pat Canaday waits until Coach is out of town on his annual two-week fishing vacation, then clandestinely books herself a long vacation to see the world. She leaves a note indicating that Molly is now in charge of the family home—“You’re going to have to learn how to cook,” she advises—and that Molly is also expected to keep her thriving yarn store, the Knit & Stitch, going.

[The journey starts here...]

Fri
Nov 8 2013 4:00pm

More Knits for Crafty Readers

The Unofficial Harry Potter KnitsIt’s finally autumn, the season of chilly breezes, changing leaves, crackling fires, and hot apple cider. It’s also prime knitting season, as any crafter can attest. “Heroines who knit” is a popular trope in romance, and if you’re a knitter with romantic temperament (or a devoted romance reader who’s into the fiber arts), you’re probably familiar with the work of knit-happy writers such as Debbie Macomber, Barbara Bretton, and Kate Jacobs. In fact, you may be planning to listen to one of these authors’ audiobooks this fall as you sit cozily next to your fireplace, sipping your beverage of choice and casting on your next project. And the project you’re planning to work on may be one of these.

The Unofficial Harry Potter Knits 2013

There’s some controversy over whether Harry Potter books can be considered romances. My feeling? It’s true that the books aren’t romance novels as the term is generally understood, but boy howdy, a lot of folks have paired off by the end of the series. Plus, you’ve got Snape, who Tragically Did It All For Love. (If you don’t yet know what Snape Tragically Did…read the books, already.) So for our purposes today…they count.

[Onto the knitting patterns!...]

Tue
Oct 15 2013 2:30pm

Maine-ly Delightful: Van Reid’s Moosepath League Novels

Cordelia Underwood, or the Marvelous Beginnings of the Moosepath League by Van Reid

There’s no better time than autumn to kick it like Miss Josephine March in her garret and curl up with a basket of crunchy apples and a favorite book. And there’s no better time than autumn to—again, like Miss Josephine March—be in New England. If a trip to the North Country isn’t in the cards for you this year, however, we can recommend the next best thing: the cozy, charming Moosepath League novels of Maine author Van Reid.

Set in Maine in the 1890s, this unforgettable series relates the many wild and wonderful adventures of the eponymous Moosepath League, which consists of big-hearted, benevolent leader Tobias Walton, his “gentleman’s gentleman” Sundry Moss, and the hapless trio of Ephram, Eagleton, and Thump. These last three may not be the brightest bulbs in the chandelier (except where the time, the weather, and the tides are concerned), but they’re stout-hearted to a fault and game for just about anything. Proudly embodying the League motto of “Tolerance, Curiosity, Humor,” the League visits various points of interest around the Pine Tree State, righting wrongs, solving mysteries, rescuing damsels in distress (and the occasional mysterious child), and entangling themselves with a parade of characters even more eccentric than they are. These aren’t romance novels in the traditional sense of the word, but there’s a strong romantic element to each, and any reader craving a leisurely afternoon lost in a distant time and place is sure to come away satisfied.

[If you're not already convinced, keep reading...]