<i>One Night More</i>: Exclusive Excerpt One Night More: Exclusive Excerpt Mandy Baxter "She realized her lips had parted as though in anticipation of a kiss..." <i>Take Down</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Take Down: Exclusive Excerpt Mallery Malone "Little does Karina Armistead know, but Gabriel has decided that she will be his." <i>Lord Savage</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Lord Savage: Exclusive Excerpt Mia Gabriel "I instantly forgot everything except how he’d kissed me last night..." <i>Dark Blood</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Dark Blood: Exclusive Excerpt Christine Feehan "You can’t go around saying things like that to me when we have company."
From The Blog
August 29, 2014
Friday Beefcake: Back to School Edition 2014
Team H & H
August 29, 2014
You Down with OTP?
Sandy Hall
August 28, 2014
Alcoholic and Addicted Heroes
Willa aka willaful
August 27, 2014
Second Chances in Lori Foster’s No Limits
Tori Benson
August 27, 2014
The August 2014 Women’s Fiction Roundup
Leigh Davis
Showing posts by: Leigh Davis click to see Leigh Davis's profile
Mon
Sep 1 2014 4:00pm

First Look: Deborah Blake’s Wickedly Dangerous (September 2, 2014)

Wickedly Dangerous by Deborah BlakeDeborah Blake
Wickedly Dangerous
Berkley / September 2, 2014 / $7.99 print & digital

Known as the wicked witch of Russian fairy tales, Baba Yaga is not one woman, but rather a title carried by a chosen few. They keep the balance of nature and guard the borders of our world, but don’t make the mistake of crossing one of them…

Older than she looks and powerful beyond measure, Barbara Yager no longer has much in common with the mortal life she left behind long ago. Posing as an herbalist and researcher, she travels the country with her faithful (mostly) dragon-turned-dog in an enchanted Airstream, fulfilling her duties as a Baba Yaga and avoiding any possibility of human attachment.

But when she is summoned to find a missing child, Barbara suddenly finds herself caught up in a web of deceit and an unexpected attraction to the charming but frustrating Sheriff Liam McClellan.

Now, as Barbara fights both human enemies and Otherworld creatures to save the lives of three innocent children, she discovers that her most difficult battle may be with her own heart…

Wickedly Dangerous, the first book in a new series by Deborah Blake, is a new paranormal series with a different flair, based on a Russian fairytale.

Russian tales state that Baba Yaga, a wicked witch with a curved-chin, beaky-nose, iron teeth, and giant chicken legs flies through the air on an enchanted mortar and pestle, to search out naughty children. And when she finds them she doesn’t discipline them, she eats them. That would keep me out of the forests and woods!

[Dangerous, indeed!...]

Sun
Aug 31 2014 10:00am

First Look: Joanne Rock’s Promises Under the Peach Tree (September 1, 2014)

Joanne Rock
Promises Under the Peach Tree
Harlequin / September 1, 2014 / $6.75 print, $4.99 digital

The trouble with Heartache

Nina Spencer swore she was done with Heartache, Tennessee, when she left the town—and her sexy ex, Mack—in her rearview mirror. But when her bakery business is rocked by scandal, she needs a place to regroup. What she doesn't need is Mack Finley reminding her of peach-flavored kisses and the hold he still has on her.

Mack never forgot Nina—not that he didn't try. Yet between caring for his family and organizing the annual Harvest Fest, he's overwhelmed and he needs Nina's help. They can work together without getting swept up in memories and the rush of brand-new passion, …right?

With my almost Pavlovian response to story arcs with reunited lovers, it is no surprise Joanne Rock’s Promises Under the Peach Tree caught my eye. Along with this favorite trope, I discovered realistic conflicts about lovers’ expectations and divided loyalties.

[Reunited and it feels so—?...]

Fri
Aug 29 2014 3:00pm

First Look: Barbara Davis’s The Wishing Tide (September 2, 2014)

The Wishing Tide by Barbara DavisBarbara Davis
The Wishing Tide
NAL / September 2, 2014 / $15.00 print, $9.99 digital

Five years ago, Lane Kramer moved to Starry Point, North Carolina, certain the quaint island village was the place to start anew. Now the owner of a charming seaside inn, she’s set aside her dreams of being a novelist and of finding love again. When English professor Michael Forrester appears on Lane’s doorstep in the middle of a storm, he claims he’s only seeking a quiet place to write his book. Yet he seems eerily familiar with the island, leaving Lane wondering if he is quite what he appears.

Meanwhile, Mary Quinn has become a common sight, appearing each morning on the dunes behind the inn, to stare wistfully out to sea. Lane is surprised to find a friendship developing with the older woman, who possesses a unique brand of wisdom, despite her tenuous grip on reality.

As Lane slowly unravels Mary’s story and a fragile relationship between Lane and Michael blooms, Lane realizes the three share a common bond. But when a decades-old secret suddenly casts its shadow over them, Lane must choose between protecting her heart and fighting for the life—and the love—she wants.

With some books, it is difficult to pick just “one thing” to highlight. The Wishing Tide by Barbara Davis is one of those books. The characterization, the plot, and the setting all synergistically complement each other, resulting in a beguiling, romantic, dark, and comedic story.

[In other words, you can't look away...]

Wed
Aug 27 2014 9:30am

Beginning Anew in the August 2014 Women’s Fiction Roundup

Small Blessings by Martha WoodroofAugust women’s fiction releases cover all the bases, from a thrilling mystery set in Australia to humorous romances set in and around the English countryside. Several books have a Southern setting, in a not so distant past, and you have small town settings on the west coast, and a quiet college town. A common theme runs through all of them—of new beginnings, and the need for change, courage and resolve.

Small Blessing by Martha Woodroof

…an inspiring tale of a small-town college professor, a remarkable new woman at the bookshop, and the ten-year old son he never knew he had.

Tom Putnam has resigned himself to a quiet and half-fulfilled life. An English professor in a sleepy college town, he spends his days browsing the Shakespeare shelves at the campus bookstore, managing the oddball faculty in his department and caring, alongside his formidable mother-in-law, for his wife Marjory, a fragile shut-in with unrelenting neuroses, a condition exacerbated by her discovery of Tom’s brief and misguided affair with a visiting poetess a decade earlier.

Then, one evening at the bookstore, Tom and Marjory meet Rose Callahan, the shop's charming new hire, and Marjory invites Rose to their home for dinner, out of the blue, her first social interaction since her breakdown. Tom wonders if it’s a sign that change is on the horizon, a feeling confirmed upon his return home, where he opens a letter from his former paramour, informing him he'd fathered a son who is heading Tom's way on a train. His mind races at the possibility of having a family after so many years of loneliness…

A heartwarming story with a charmingly imperfect cast of characters to cheer for, Small Blessings's wonderfully optimistic heart that reminds us that sometimes, when it feels like life has veered irrevocably off track, the track shifts in ways we never can have imagined.

Strengths: Unconventional characters; unique plot; warm, inspiring message, surrogate family bonds; charming
Measure of Love: Tablespoon
Introspective Level: Medium

[What else is on the dockett?]

Tue
Aug 26 2014 4:30pm

First Look: Susan Elizabeth Phillips’s Heroes Are My Weakness (August 26, 2014)

Heroes Are My Weakness by Susan Elizabeth PhillipsSusan Elizabeth Phillips
Heroes Are My Weakness
William Morrow / August 26, 2014 / $26.99 print / $15.99 digital

Deepest winter.
An isolated island off the coast of Maine.
A man. A woman.
Puppets. (Yes, puppets . . .)
And . . .
A mysterious house looming over the sea . . .
He's a reclusive writer whose imagination creates chilling horror novels. She's a down-on-her-luck actress reduced to staging kids' puppet shows. He knows a dozen ways to kill his characters with his bare hands. She knows a dozen ways to kill an audience with laughs. But she's not laughing now.

Annie Hewitt has arrived on Peregrine Island in the middle of a snowstorm and at the end of her resources. She's broke, dispirited, but not quite ready to give up. Her red suitcases hold the puppets she uses to make her living: sensible Dilly, spunky Scamp, and Leo, the baddest of bad guys. Her puppets, the romantic novels she loves, and a little bit of courage are all she has left.

Annie couldn't be more ill prepared for what she finds when she reaches Moonraker Cottage or for the man who dwells in Harp House, the mysterious mansion that hovers above the cottage. When she was a teenager, he betrayed her in a way she can never forget or forgive. Now they're trapped together on a frozen island along with a lonely widow, a mute little girl, and townspeople who don't know how to mind their own business.

Is he the villain she remembers, or has he changed? Her head says no. Her heart says yes.

It's going to be a long, hot winter.

Fans of Susan Elizabeth Phillips never know what to expect from one book to the next. From football, to computers, to matchmaking to the English nobility, she has done it all. My favorite book in terms of originality is Natural Born Charmer—it is not often that a hero meets his love interest while she is wearing a beaver costume.

[DAM, she's good!]

Tue
Aug 26 2014 9:30am

First Look: Sandy Hall’s A Little Something Different (August 26, 2014)

A Little Something Different by Sandy HallSandy Hall
A Little Something Different
Swoon Reads / August 26, 2014 / $9.99 print, $7.12 digital

Lea and Gabe are in the same creative writing class. They get the same pop culture references, order the same Chinese food, and hang out in the same places. Unfortunately, Lea is reserved, Gabe has issues, and despite their initial mutual crush, it looks like they are never going to work things out.

But somehow even when nothing is going on, something is happening between them, and everyone can see it. 

You have heard the saying that it takes a village to raise a child—well, in this new playful release, A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall, it takes a village to get two crazy-for-each-other university students together.

Some of you might have never been shy or self-conscious in seeking out the object of your infatuation—you see someone you like, you strike up a conversation and if nothing comes of it, well, there are plenty of fish out there. But for those of you who've agonized over every sighting, explored every nuances of a simple one word conversation, like “hi,” be prepared to be thrown back to your youth with Hall’s amusing and tender story of two people finding their way to each other.

[Ahhhh, first love...]

Sun
Aug 24 2014 2:00pm

First Look: Rachel Gibson’s What I Love About You (August 26, 2014)

What I Love About You by Rachel GibsonRachel Gibson
What I Love About You (Truly, Idaho)
Avon / August 26, 2014 / $7.99 print / $6.99 digital

GIMMEE A B-R-E-A-K!

Ex-high school cheerleader Natalie Cooper could once shake her pom-poms with the best of them. But she's paid for all that popularity—her husband's run off with what's left of their money and a twenty-year-old bimbo named Tiffany. Leaving Natalie to manage a photo store and having to see some pictures she, well, really shouldn't.

GIMMEE A S-H-O-T!

Then she comes toe-to-manly chest with Blake Junger. Exiled to a remote cabin in Truly, Idaho, Blake wants nothing to do with anyone. Instead, he's determined to struggle with his demons and win—all on his own. But the last thing he needs is Natalie distracting him with her luscious curves and breaking down the barriers of his heart.

GIMMEE YOUR H-E-A-R-T!

I fell in love with Rachel Gibson’s storytelling with her very first book, Simply Irresistible. Gibson has a talent for creating hardheaded men who think they know everything about life and living—until they meet the women who show them what is truly important in life. This job is not for the weak, and really smart women should know to stay far, far away. Because men like Blake Junger are not civilized, polite, kind-to-children type men. In fact, they sometimes are the exact opposite:

[Hard to love?...]

Sat
Aug 23 2014 11:00am

First Look: Laura Drake’s Sweet On You (August 26, 2014)

Sweet on You by Laura DrakeLaura Drake
Sweet on You (Sweet on a Cowboy)
Grand Central / August 26, 2014 / $8.00 print, $7.99 digital

A Love as Bold as a Texas Sunset...

Ex-army medic Katya Smith has always healed other people's pain. Now she has to deal with her own. Taking a job as an athletic trainer on the Pro Bull Riding circuit seems like the perfect escape from her grief-except Katya doesn't know anything about bulls, and even less about the tough men who ride them. She doesn't expect to fall for the sport, or for one tantalizing cowboy who tumbles her defenses.

For rodeo champion Cam Cahill, fifteen years of bucking bulls have taken their toll on his body. Before he retires, he wants a final chance at the world title-and he doesn't need some New Age gypsy telling him how to do his job. But when the stunning trainer with the magical hands repairs more than his worn muscles, everything changes. Soon Cam finds himself trying to persuade Katya to forgive her past so she can build a future...with him.

Hearing that Laura Drake’s The Sweet Spot won the 2014 Romance Writers of America RITA award for Best First Book intrigued my interest in her work. Although I know little to nothing about rodeos, or bull riding, the heroine’s profession in Sweet on You appealed to me. After reading the book, it's clear that Drake is an author that unhurriedly and thoroughly builds a strong emotional bond first, and I appreciate that.

[A strong foundation for love!...]

Thu
Aug 21 2014 9:30am

First Look: Robyn Carr’s The Homecoming (August 26, 2014)

The Homecoming by Robyn CarrRobyn Carr The Homecoming (Thunder Point #6)
Harlequin MIRA / August 26, 2014 / $7.99 print & digital

At the age of nineteen, Seth Sileski had everything. A superb athlete and scholar, handsome and popular, he was the pride of Thunder Point. Destined for greatness, he lost it all in a terrible accident that put an end to his professional football career when it had barely begun. The people in his hometown have never forgotten what might have been.

Seth has come to terms with the turns his life has taken. But now he's been presented with an opportunity to return home and show his father—and the people of Thunder Point—he's become a better, humbler version of his former self.

Winning over his father isn't the only challenge. Seth must also find a way to convince his childhood neighbor and best friend, Iris McKinley, to forgive him for breaking her heart. With his homecoming, will Seth be able to convince the town, his family and especially Iris that he's finally ready to be the man who will make them all proud?

I disagree with so many platitudes, but the one I can wholeheartedly embrace is “when life gives you lemons, made lemonade. Part of Robyn Carr’s appeal is she knows how to cleverly incorporate truism like this within her story. And of course the other is that she creates such pleasing, admirable characters. In book six of the Thunder Point series, The Homecoming, both Seth and Iris have learned to make lemonade as you’ll find out over the course of the book. But their appealing nature is clear from the first moment you meet them.

[We can't wait to get introduced!...]

Sat
Aug 16 2014 11:00am

First Look: D.D. Ayres’s Irresistible Force (August 26, 2014)

Irresistible Force by D.D. AyresD.D. Ayres
Irresistible Force
St. Martin's Press / August 26, 2014 / $7.99 print & digital

For Shay Appleton, it’s love at first sight when a gorgeous stray dog is brought into the animal shelter where she works. She just knows he’ll make a terrific watch dog—and with an abusive ex who won’t let go, she needs all the protection she can get. But Shay never suspected that her new pet is actually a trained police K-9 named Bogart—until Bogart’s even more gorgeous, human partner shows up on her doorstep.

Officer James Cannon is one tall, strong alpha male who’s convinced that Shay stole his dog. But once he gets closer to the suspect, he realizes that this stubborn, independent woman not only needs a guard dog, she needs James as well. It seems that someone from her past is stalking her, and threatening her life. When danger meets desire, will James risk his career and his best friend…to protect the woman who’s stolen his heart?

You don’t have to be a dog lover to enjoy D.D. Ayres’s new series because she has all the bases covered with menacing antagonists, sizzling chemistry, and flawed, appealing characters.

The threat to the characters is real, and the way that plays out is intriguing, but even more than that, I enjoyed the flawed characters. Characters who have made mistakes—like getting involved with the wrong people. In Shay’s case, she put off doing something because of fear of the past repeating itself— even backing down when she should have stood her ground. But she has good reasons for the way she acts.

[Irresistible reasons?...]

Thu
Aug 14 2014 2:15pm

Drinking to Numb the Pain: Addicted Heroines in Romance

Before the Storm by Diane ChamberlainIncorporating addiction into a story can be very challenging for an author. Most of us have been around family and friends who've lost control of their life to either drugs or alcohol. And some of us have watched these individuals quit, going months or years without using their drug of choice, only to relapse, or fall off the wagon. We know that there is no cure and that many times addiction goes hand in hand with some type of mental disorder like depression or trauma, like PTSD. We know that people use alcohol and drugs to self-medicate; to feel good, to smother pain, and to escape untenable situations.

By incorporating addiction into a storyline, not only does the author have to convince us that there is a happy-ever-after in the hero’s or heroine’s future, but the author also has to create a relatable flawed character and explain why the character is acting in a non-heroic way. Most authors do this by writing situational addiction—the loss of a child, the trauma of war, the pain from childhood, etc. Many authors show the addiction in the past, making the character immediately worthy of readers’ regard.

While both hero and heroines deal with addiction, it seems to me that the majority are male. Maybe it’s a throwback to the Victorians' beliefs that women are paragons of perfection and purity, or maybe as female readers we would much rather identify with the person doing the saving rather than the person whose life has spiraled out of control. What do you think—is there a readers’ partiality for tortured heroes over heroines?

[What say you?...]

Tue
Aug 12 2014 9:30am

First Look: Catherine Bybee’s Taken by Tuesday (August 12, 2014)

Taken by Tuesday by Catherine BybeeCatherine Bybee
Taken by Tuesday (Weekday Brides)
Montlake / August 12, 2014 / $4.99 digital

He’ll do anything to keep her safe…for the rest of their lives.

Judy Gardner: College graduate Judy stands ready to conquer the world…if she can get a job. Hoping to transition from aspiring architect to famous architect as quickly as possible, the dark-haired beauty moves to LA, staying in the home of her celebrity brother, Michael Wolfe. But it’s hard for Judy to focus on work when the sexy bodyguard she fell for last summer keeps showing up in her life and leaving her breathless.

Rick Evans: With his hard body, green eyes, and easy smile, Rick could have any woman he wants. But the Marine-turned- bodyguard only has eyes for Judy and her spitfire attitude. When a faceless villain attacks Judy, Rick will stop at nothing to protect the woman who opened his heart from the monster hunting her.

Nothing is better than a bit of fantasy to take you away from the mundane. Catherine Bybee’s Weekday Bride series not only has the whimsical premise of Alliance, an elite match matching firm for the über rich—the books are also filled with appealing characters, warm family connections, and unique conflicts. Taken by Tuesday, the newest release, is an enlivening tale of romance and danger with an emphasis on the danger.

[What's love without a little risk?...]

Wed
Aug 6 2014 4:30pm

Dog Daze: Working Dogs in Romance Novels from Ayres, Kantra, and More!

The Search by Nora RobertsI am no stranger to perusing books because of dogs on the cover, or because canines are mentioned in the blurb. I discussed it in an H&H post, Must Love Dogs (and Cats): Animals in Romance Novels.  It doesn’t matter if the dog is there for comic relief, like Pooh in It Had to Be You by Susan Elizabeth Phillips; a woman’s best friend, like Buttercup from Kristan Higgins’s One of the Guys; or a working dog like Peck from Nora RobertsThe Search.  I love them all. But lately, I’ve noticed that animals in books are taking a more multifaceted role, becoming an intrinsic part of the plot and even anthropomorphized as characters.

Of course that’s not such a big jump, since over 90 percent of pet owners consider their pet a member of their family, meaning they let their animals sleep with them, take them on vacation, buy them Christmas presents and celebrate their birthday (ah—guilty). But it is more than that; perhaps there has been a sort of meeting of the minds between people who consider animals pets, and people who consider animals as having a job to do. Each type now seem to have a new appreciation of the ways animals enrich our lives—in both work and play.  

And our romance books reflect that. More and more, the animals in our stories have a specific job to do, maybe as a member of a K-9 police or military unit, or a therapy dog or search and rescue dog.

I have already mentioned Roberts’ The Search. How can you not love a dog who saves a boy’s life?

[Trick question, 'cause it's impossible...]

Sun
Aug 3 2014 10:00am

First Look: Beth Harbison’s Driving with the Top Down (August 5, 2014)

Driving with the Top Down by Beth Harbison

Beth Harbison
Driving with the Top Down
St. Martin's Press / August 5, 2014 / $$26.99, print / $12.99, digital

Three women, two weeks, one convertible: sometimes life doesn't take you in the direction you expect...

Colleen Bradley is married with a teenage son, a modest business repurposing and reselling antiques, and longtime fear that she was not her husband’s first choice. When she decides to take a road trip down the east coast to check out antique auctions for her business, she also has a secret ulterior motive. Her one-woman mission for peace of mind is thrown slightly off course when sixteen year old Tamara becomes her co-pilot. The daughter of Colleen’s brother-in-law, Tamara is aware that when people see her as a screw-up, but she knows in her heart that she’s so much more. She just wishes her father could see it, too.

The already bumpy trip takes another unexpected turn when they stop at the diner that served as Colleen’s college hangout and run into her old friend, Bitty Nolan Camalier. Clearly distressed, Bitty gives them a story full of holes: angry with her husband, she took off on her own, only to have her car stolen. Both Colleen and Tamara sense that there’s more that Bitty isn’t sharing, but Colleen offers to give Bitty a ride to Florida.

So one becomes two becomes three as Colleen, Tamara, and Bitty make their way together down the coast. It’s a road trip fraught with tension as Tamara’s poor choices come back to haunt her and Bitty’s secrets reach a boiling point. With no one to turn to but each other, these three women might just discover that you can get lost in life but somehow, true friends provide a roadmap to finding what you’re really looking for.

Reading about soul mates finding each other is magnificent. But in its own way, reading female buddy books can be just as inspiring. Both type of stories are based on the fact that we all need someone to care.

And that need – for someone to “just give a damn” — is at the heart of Beth Harbison’s new book, Driving with the Top Down.

Colleen Bradley is being left behind as her husband and teenage son go off together to do some male bonding—no females allowed. And she is fine with that because this will give her a chance to get her act together – to shrug off the feeling that she is second best in her business, and lacking as a mother and a wife.

[She'll learn a lot on this upcoming trip...]

Fri
Aug 1 2014 11:00am

First Look: Susan Donovan’s The Sweetest Summer (August 5, 2014)

The Sweetest Summer by Susan DonovanSusan Donovan
The Sweetest Summer (Bayberry Island #2)
Signet Select / August 5, 2014 / $7.99 print, digital

A mermaid statue could be the cause of heartbreak or everlasting romance for a practical-minded police chief and his first love—in the second of the delicious Bayberry Island trilogy by New York Times bestselling author Susan Donovan...

Every instinct told Police Chief Clancy Flynn that his island’s claim to fame was nothing but a silly tourist attraction. But now and then, he couldn’t help but wonder if his lifetime of bad romances—starting with the pretty tourist who broke his fourteen-year-old heart—could be traced back to a childhood prank involving that very statue....

Then one day the pretty tourist comes barreling back into Bayberry—all grown-up and on the run with her niece. Though Evelyn McGuinness is wanted for kidnapping, she tries to persuade Clancy that there’s more to the story. Now the by-the-book police chief must make the toughest decision of his life: to take Evelyn into custody—or into his arms....

There is just something about first love, isn’t there? If this is one of your favorite story arcs, then you will find plenty to enjoy in Susan Donovan’s The Sweetest Summer—along with a pretty unique backdrop—the magic of mermaids.

[And of love...]

Tue
Jul 29 2014 5:00pm

First Look: Shannon Stacey’s Falling for Max (July 29, 2014)

Falling for Max by Shannon StaceyShannon Stacey
Falling for Max
Carina / July 29, 2014 / $4.99, digital / $7.99, print

Max Crawford has reached the point in life where he's starting to think about settling down. Unfortunately, he's always been a little awkward when it comes to social interactions, and working from home doesn't help. He spends so much time alone, painting beautiful, historically accurate model trains that half of Whitford has begun to joke that he may be a serial killer. Not exactly prime husband material.

Tori Burns has found happiness in Maine, thanks in large part to her shifts at the Trailside Diner. She likes the work, and she loves the local gossip. When shy, geeky Max Crawford becomes a regular, she's intrigued. When she finds out he's in the market for a wife, she's fascinated…and determined to help.
Molding Max into every woman's dream turns out to be much easier than expected. But has Tori's plan worked a little too well? As she turns his comfortable life all sorts of upside down, she'll have to find a way to show just how she's fallen for him…the real him.

It is not uncommon to read a book about shy, socially awkward heroines. We love watching them blossom under the attention of the right person. Heroes for the most part are a different breed. Their vulnerabilities are hidden layers deep beneath assertive, high-handed alpha characteristics and bits of swagger. Over the book the heroine has to slowly peel back the layers, coaxing the hero into letting his guard down and admit to any type of weakness. While it is fascinating to watch this, there is a sense of uniqueness when a hero is candid and open up front. Max in Shannon Stacey's Falling for Max is one such hero.

[We wish we had more like him in real life...]

Tue
Jul 29 2014 9:20am

First Look: Pamela Morsi’s Mr. Right Goes Wrong (July 29, 2014)

Mr. Right Goes Wrong by Pamela MorsiPamela Morsi
Mr. Right Goes Wrong
Harlequin MIRA / July 29, 2014 / $7.99, print & digital

No More Mr. Nice Guy

Like a bad-choice-making boomerang, Mazy Gulliver has returned to her mom's tiny house in Brandt Mountain. But this time, she's got her teenage son, Tru, in tow and no intention of messing up ever again. Mazy’s so determined to rebuild her life she hardly minds being the new loan collector, or even working for Tad, her ex. She's not here to make friends—or fall in love.

Sweet, dependable Eli Latham has loved Mazy since they got pretend married in second grade. But after being burned by Mazy for two decades, Eli's got a new strategy. Mazy likes bad boys, so a bad boy is what he'll be. How hard can it be to act like a jerk?

Not for the first time, men are making Mazy crazy, though she's determined to do what's right for her and Tru.  But breaking old habits is hard, and if she really wants things to change she'll have to face her biggest adversary: herself.

Looking for a different type of heroine, perhaps one who is imperfect?  The heroine of Pamela Morsi's Mr. Right Goes Wrong just can’t seem to quit making the same mistake over and over again—getting involved with losers.

When Mazy was in high school she got intentionally pregnant by Tad Driscoll. Tall, dark, handsome, rich—captain of the basketball team and class president—Tad is every girl’s dream guy, except he is a first class jerk, as Mazy soon discovers. After she told him she was pregnant, he denied that the baby was his, and Mazy was left to raise her son, Tru, alone. But that one experience didn’t faze her as she bounced from one bad relationship to another.  The only time she found solace with a nice guy was when she rebounded—not once, but twice into the arms of Eli Latham.  And while she never intentionally wanted to hurt her son, her choices have done exactly that: 

[Not really anything to be proud of, until Tru...]

Tue
Jul 22 2014 4:30pm

First Look: Lauren Layne’s Only with You (July 29, 2014)

Only with You by Lauren LayneLauren Layne
Only with You (The Best Mistake)
Forever / July 29, 2014 / $6.00 print / $2.99 digital

Cocktail waitress Sophie Dalton doesn't exactly have a life plan. She's perfectly happy being everyone's favorite party girl. But when a Las Vegas bachelorette party goes awry and an uptight businessman mistakes Sophie for a prostitute . . . well, Sophie wonders if it's time to reevaluate her priorities. Swearing off her thigh-high boots for good, Sophie slinks back home with damaged pride-and a jackpot of a hangover.

Yet what happens in Vegas doesn't always stay there. On a trip to Seattle to open a new office, Grayson Wyatt meets his latest employee—who turns out to be the same woman he recently called a hooker. Wealthy and gorgeous, Gray is a man used to getting what he wants. And it doesn't take long to figure out that smart, sassy, sexy Sophie is everything he's been looking for. As their late nights at the office turn into hot morning-afters, they realize their Vegas misunderstanding may lead to the real thing . . .

One of the more critical scenes in a book is how the hero and heroine meet. Authors have free range on devising this meeting, and readers reap the benefit of authors’ fertile imagination, especially when the hero and heroine form the wrong impression. Lauren Layne definitely has a bountiful imagination:

Sophie Dalton is in Las Vegas for her cousin’s bachelorette party. Her cousin is certainly not a favorite relative, but since Sophie’s sister is in the wedding, she is obligated to attend, so when the bride-to-be declares:

I want my bachelorette party to be hella shanky and memorable. If you’re going to be on your period that weekend, fix it.

[Sounds like the beginning to an...interesting...weekend...]

Thu
Jul 17 2014 4:30pm

Travel the World Without Leaving Your Chair: Non-American Authors

I Can Read with My Eyes Shut by Dr. Seuss

“The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.”
- Dr. Seuss, “I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!”

Each month, I scrutinize the list of new releases, searching for something novel and innovative. We romance readers can be a difficult group to please—we want more of the same, but with variation. If you are fan of shape-shifters, then you want more shape-shifters books. If you love Regency historicals, then you are looking for more books in that time period. If you are a fan of erotica—ditto, you want more of the same. Of course each author has her own voice, so even if she was writing the same plot and characterization as another author there would be differences, but most of us don’t want to settle for just that.

So what is a poor author to do? One way to make a book distinctive is the setting—to leave behind the tried and true. Another is the ethnicity or culture of the hero and heroine.

I first started reading romance in my tweens and early teens. One author who quickly became a favorite was Mary Stewart. Each and every book had a new locale, such as the South of France, or Scottish Isle of Sky, or Greece, and even Lebanon and Vienna. Opening up a book by Mary Stewart was like traveling across the world. In her books, romance and exotic locales just seemed to go together like Godiva and chocolate.

[Chocolate and travel sounds like the perfect combination...]

Wed
Jul 16 2014 9:30am

First Look: Julie Garwood’s Fast Track (July 29, 2014)

Fast Track by Julie Garwood

Julie Garwood
Fast Track
Dutton Adult / July 29, 2014 / $26.95 print / $12.99 digital

Cordelia Kane has always been a daddy’s girl—her father raised her alone after her mother died in a car crash when Cordelia was just two years old. So when he has a serious heart attack, Cordelia is devastated, and the emotion is only intensified by the confusion she feels when he reveals the shocking truth about her mother.

Cordelia can’t suppress her curiosity about the woman who gave birth to her, and when she discovers the answers to her questions lie in Sydney, Australia, she travels there to get them.

Hotel magnate Aiden Madison is Cordelia’s best friend’s older brother. He’s oblivious to the fact that she’s had a crush on him for years. When he gets railroaded into taking her along to Sydney on his company jet, he’s unwittingly drawn into a volatile family drama.

Aiden wants to help Cordelia get answers about her mother, but threats from her wealthy, high-powered family are quickly becoming dangerous. Sparks are flying between Cordelia and Aiden, but after multiple attempts are made on Cordelia’s life, Aiden realizes he must put a stop to the madness before he loses the thing he values most.

Do you remember your first Julie Garwood book? I do. It was Lion’s Lady. I was captivated by the way the heroine thoroughly confused and bewildered, and just turned the hero upside down and inside out with her feistiness, independence, honesty and honor. Lion’s Lady was released in 1988, but Garwood is still charming readers with her high-handed heroes and her spirited heroines.

[A perfect combination!]