<i>In the Fast Lane</i>: Exclusive Excerpt In the Fast Lane: Exclusive Excerpt Audra North "He could hear that strong feminine voice in his mind." <i>Do Not Forsake Me</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Do Not Forsake Me: Exclusive Excerpt Rosanne Bittner "He always knew there’d be the devil to pay." <i>The Perfect Bargain</i>: Exclusive Excerpt The Perfect Bargain: Exclusive Excerpt Jessa McAdams "He was right—she was too prim for that." <i>The Devil Wears Spurs</i>: Exclusive Excerpt The Devil Wears Spurs: Exclusive Excerpt Soraya Lane "She swallowed, hard, trying to think of something witty to say."
From The Blog
July 2, 2015
Listening to Tessa Bailey's Officer Off Limits
PhoebeChase
July 2, 2015
5 Heroines Who Don't Care About Scandal!
Julie LeMense
July 2, 2015
Alexis Hall's Compelling Couple in For Real
Janet Webb
July 1, 2015
The Role of Family in Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy
Sharon Ashwood
July 1, 2015
Romance News: Reisz, Roberts, and Ward!
Heather Waters
Showing posts by: Maggie Boyd click to see Maggie Boyd's profile
Sun
Jun 28 2015 10:30am

First Look: Shona Patel’s Flame Tree Road (June 30, 2015)

Flame Tree Road by Shona Patel

Shona Patel,
Flame Tree Road
Mira / June 30, 2015 / $14.95 print, $8.99 digital

From the acclaimed author of Teatime for the Firefly comes the story of a man with dreams of changing the world, who finds himself changed by love

1870s India. In a tiny village where society is ruled by a caste system and women are defined solely by marriage, young Biren Roy dreams of forging a new destiny. When his mother suffers the fate of widowhood—shunned by her loved ones and forced to live in solitary penance—Biren devotes his life to effecting change.

Biren's passionate spirit blossoms as wildly as the blazing flame trees of his homeland. With a law degree, he goes to work for the government to pioneer academic equality for girls. But in a place governed by age-old conventions, progress comes at a price, and soon Biren becomes a stranger among his own countrymen.

Just when his vision for the future begins to look hopeless, he meets Maya, the independent-minded daughter of a local educator, and his soul is reignited. It is in her love that Biren finally finds his home, and in her heart that he finds the hope for a new world. 1870s India. In a tiny village where society is ruled by a caste system and women are defined solely by marriage, young Biren Roy dreams of forging a new destiny. When his mother suffers the fate of widowhood—shunned by her loved ones and forced to live in solitary penance—Biren devotes his life to effecting change.

Epic romances such as Colleen McCullough’s The Thorn Birds or Belva Plain’s Evergreen no longer enjoy the popularity they once did but Shona Patel makes a strong effort in bringing them back with her latest novel about colonial India, Flame Tree Road.  In this story which crosses countries and centuries, we meet Biren Roy and the three amazing women who change his life.

[It's a love that stretches across two continents...]

Sun
Jun 14 2015 10:30am

First Look: Melanie Dobson’s Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor (June 16, 2015)

Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor by Melanie Dobson

Melanie Dobson,
Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor
Howard Books / June 16, 2015 / $14.99 print, $10.99 digital

When Heather Toulson returns to her parents’ cottage in the English countryside, she uncovers long-hidden secrets about her family history and stumbles onto the truth about a sixty-year-old murder.

Libby, a free spirit who can’t be tamed by her parents, finds solace with her neighbor Oliver, the son of Lord Croft of Ladenbrooke Manor. Libby finds herself pregnant and alone when her father kicks her out and Oliver mysteriously drowns in a nearby river. Though theories spread across the English countryside, no one is ever held responsible for Oliver’s death.

Sixty years later, Heather Toulson, returning to her family’s cottage in the shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor, is filled with mixed emotions. She’s mourning her father’s passing but can’t let go of the anger and resentment over their strained relationship. Adding to her confusion, Heather has an uneasy reunion with her first love, all while sorting through her family’s belongings left behind in the cottage. What she uncovers will change everything she thought she knew about her family’s history.

Award-winning author Melanie Dobson seamlessly weaves the past and present together, fluidly unraveling the decades-old mystery and reveals how the characters are connected in shocking ways.

Set in a charming world of thatched cottages, lush gardens, and lovely summer evenings, this romantic and historical mystery brings to light the secrets and heartaches that have divided a family for generations.

Sometimes life really does give you a second chance. In Melanie Dobson’s Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor we watch as two women get love wrong, then right.  

[A past and present unite and it's love...]

Fri
Jun 5 2015 9:30am

Love and Outlaws: Karen Witemeyer’s A Worthy Pursuit

A Worthy Pursuit by Karen Witemeyer

I love books where respect between the hero and heroine plays a key role in the relationship. That is the case in Karen Witemeyer’s A Worthy Pursuit where two characters who start on the opposite side of an issue find themselves trusting—and then loving—their opponent.

Headmistress of Sullivan's Academy for Exceptional Youths, Charlotte Atherton is the very picture of law abiding citizen, a model of proper behavior. But when her boss makes a deal to sell out the children of the school, Charlotte finds herself fleeing with three of the most vulnerable students in the dead of night. Just like that she has gone from paragon of propriety to woman on the run.

Stone Hammond is hired by one of the children’s grandfathers to find the missing kids and their kidnapper. He spends his days dealing with outlaws so he’s not too worried about having to apprehend one spinster schoolmarm on the lam. His only concern is making sure the children in her care haven’t suffered any harm. He gets more than he bargained for though when he receives a rifle blow to the head while scouting her location. He hadn’t expected to first meet the lady in question trussed up like a turkey at gunpoint! He’d rather hoped their positions would be reversed. His initial impression of her has him wondering if he truly understands the situation he’s gotten himself into:

Most people were quick to justify their questionable actions by placing the blame on another. Charlotte Atherton was tempted. He could read the conflict in the way her lips parted ever so slightly, as if the words pressing from the inside had breached the first level of defense. Until she swallowed them.

Respect for her swelled in him.

[He also couldn't resist wanting more...]

Sat
May 16 2015 2:00pm

Love, History, and Family in Deeanne Gist’s Tiffany Girl

Tiffany Girl by Deeanne Gist

Deeanne Gist delivers a novel that is rich in both love and history in her latest book Tiffany Girl. Flossie Jayne’s story is one that highlights the difficulties that women once faced in regards to independence. When our story begins she is working as an assistant to her mother, a very successful dress maker who names the elite of New York among her clients. Flossie doesn’t really enjoy sewing and does it only so that money can be earned for her to attend the School of Applied Design. It is Flossie’s dream to be a painter and she is certain that the studying she is doing at the school will lead to her success.  Then her mother drops a bombshell.

Your father has decided to withdraw you from the School of Applied Design.

Flossie’s argument is immediate and vehement. She and her mother do all the work, why on Earth should she not have the joy of spending some of the money? Her mother’s response is simple and infuriating to Flossie.

You and I don’t have any money. It’s all his.

Flossie wants to go on strike until her father agrees to allow them to take part in the financial decision making but her mother refuses to go along. Just when Flossie is resigned to leaving art school Louis Tiffany comes to the facility looking for glass workers. While this is not Flossie’s area of expertise she and Mr. Tiffany get along so well that he offers her a position. Her parents are livid – young ladies of her class do not do menial labor for money. Flossie, determined to have the money needed for art school, leaves home and heads to Klausemeyer’s boarding house and begins her life as a New Woman.

[Flossie has to shake off the hate and follow her destiny...]

Wed
Apr 29 2015 4:30pm

Little (Old) Women: The Women of Rosamunde Pilcher Multi-Generational Stories

September by Rosamunde Pilcher

One afternoon after reading Glamour magazine a friend called to tell me about a book that was being recommended and that she felt I simply must buy. That book was September and it was my introduction to Rosamunde Pilcher. My friend was right to recommend the book—I absolutely loved it and subsequently glommed all of Pilcher’s previous works. As a writer she has the unique ability to infuse her novels with a warmth and wit you will rarely come across on the printed page. She creates absolutely memorable characters and fascinating romances and offers interesting insight into the female heart. Needless to say I was very excited when I learned that her work was being re-released and a whole new generation of readers would get a chance to read it. 

While Pilcher writes what is generally termed women’s fiction, most of her books contain at least one HEA. Her romances tend to be sweeping, heartfelt and take many, many pages to reach a conclusion. They contain all the ups and downs of a real life relationship. And they often have a helping hand.

The author loves to do multi-generational stories which show the beauty of different age groups interacting together and learning from each other. The backbone of this circle of family and friends tends to be one of Pilcher’s signature characters- the grand old lady. In the author’s novels the grand old lady serves as a matriarchal figure that dispenses wisdom and makes sure true love finds its way in the lives of the younger folk. The grand old lady is a staple of romance novels such as Phoebe from Jeffe Kennedy’s Mark of the Tala, Drucilla Fleetwood from Amanda Quick’s Dangerous, or Aunt Mari from Slightly Married by Mary Balogh. She is a strong woman and full of character. A great example of this character, captured in just a few lines is Elfrida, from Winter Solstice:

[Bring the wisdom...]

Sat
Apr 25 2015 11:30am

First Look: Mary Burton’s Be Afraid (April 28, 2015)

Be Afraid by Mary BurtonMary Burton
Be Afraid (Morgan Family #2)
Zebra, April 28, 2015, $7.99 print, $5.84 digital

The Fear Is Terrifying

When police rescue five-year-old Jenna Thompson from the dark closet where she's been held captive for days, they tell her she's a lucky girl. Compared to the rest of her family, it's true. But even with their killer dead of an overdose, Jenna is still trying to find peace twenty-five years later.

But The Truth

On leave from her forensic artist job, Jenna returns to Nashville, the city where she lost so much. Instead of closure, she finds a new horror. Detective Rick Morgan needs Jenna's expertise in identifying the skeletal remains of a young child. The case jogs hazy half-buried memories—and a nagging dread that Jenna's ordeal hasn't ended.

Is Even Worse

Now other women are dying. And as the links between these brutal killings and Jenna's past becomes clear, she knows this time, a madman will leave no survivors. . .

Mary Burton gives us another chilling, thrilling romantic suspense novel in Be Afraid, her second book detailing the lives and loves of the Morgan family. In this latest release, Detective Rick Morgan meets feisty Jenna Thompson and while the middle of a murder investigation might seem like a strange time to start a romance, for these two damaged souls, love is the perfect antidote to all the darkness they are dealing with.

[Let love—and light—in...]

Mon
Feb 2 2015 2:00pm

Find a Nice Boy: 5 Heroines Deal with the Pressure to Marry

Together Tea by Marjan KamaliThe age old question of, “So when are you getting married?” is one that most single women can relate to – with sympathy. Those who live in what Ami Bera calls “hyphenated America” are no exception to this rule. Many times, for those from more traditional cultures, the pressure to marry is even greater. Modern romance authors play this for laughs while looking at the serious subject of what happens when a modern American girl meets up with her family’s traditional values.

Mina Rezayi, the heroine of Marjan Kamali’s Together Tea, wonders just what is wrong with her mother.

Darya loved to calculate the statistics of available Persian bachelors, factoring in their attributes, family histories, education, the probability for divorce. She had her very own system of assigning numbers to certain qualities. Five for good teeth. Minus 10 for having only a bachelors and no graduate degree. Plus 20 if it could be proved that they were kind to their mothers. Plus 7 if they didn’t hold their forks like shovels.

When Mina explains that she’s not interested in marriage, her mother starts talking to the bedspread.

[Mom's gone round the bend!]

Sat
Jan 31 2015 3:00pm

First Look: Liz Tolsma’s Remember the Lilies (February 3, 2015)

Remember the Lilies by Liz TolsmaLiz Tolsma
Remember the Lilies
Thomas Nelson / February 3, 2015 / $15.99 print, $9.99 digital

Interred by the Japanese, missionary Irene Reynolds comes across a mysterious note while working at the censor’s office. She memorizes the parts she must black out and delivers it to wealthy nightclub owner Rand Sterling. Before she knows what’s happening, she’s drawn into a web of secrets and danger.

Rand Sterling wants nothing more than to reopen his nightclubs once the war ends. But slimy Frank Covey wants his hand in the till—and has news that could threaten Rand’s reputation if it became public. More importantly, beautiful and intriguing Irene Reynolds cannot discover this information if he expects to persuade her to become his wife.

When Irene is attacked by a sinister Japanese guard and their secrets are exposed, they must learn the true meaning of forgiveness—if they can stave off starvation until the American troops bring freedom.

The glamour of the 1930s Champagne Crowd collides with the 1940s realities of war to create an intriguing read in Liz Tolsma’s Remember the Lilies. Hero Rand Sterling is the backbone of the Champagne Crowd in his part of the Orient. He worked hard and saw his dream become a reality, and now owns two highly successful nightclubs in the Philippines.

[Remember when?...]

Thu
Jan 29 2015 6:15pm

Matchmakers of Unusual Kinds from Macomber, Evanovich, and More!

Daddy's Little Matchmakers by Kathleen Y'BarboMost of us have heard the song “Matchmaker” from Fiddler on the Roof: Matchmaker, matchmaker make me a match/Find me a find/Catch me a catch. In this heartfelt ditty, a young woman is asking for help from a professional.

Romance novels have their fair share of matchmakers—people who aren’t necessarily professionals, but who are determined to find an HEA for a loved one at whatever the cost.  Some of these matchmakers stand out from the crowd. They aren’t just an interfering mama or a buttinsky grandma but ghosts, pets and children like to get involved in playing Cupid too. And some of them use unorthodox methods.  

Such as Ella, Hailey and Brooke Wilson from Kathleen Y’Barbo’s Daddy’s Little Matchmakers.  While child matchmakers certainly abound in romance, these three bring a unique twist. They may be in elementary school, but they know a desperate case of someone in need of romance when they see it and their dad certainly fits the bill. So they take out a classified ad:

[Spunky little things, aren't they?]

Wed
Jan 21 2015 10:30am

Love, Loss, Sisterhood, and Motherhood in Kristin Hannah’s Novels

Home Front by Kristin HannahStephen King once said, “Life turns on a dime. Sometimes towards us, but more often it spins away, flirting and flashing as it goes: so long, honey, it was good while it lasted, wasn’t it?” Kristin Hannah seems to have placed this philosophy at the heart of her novels, showing us how love and loss are often two sides of the same coin. In her intense, emotional tales she focuses on strong women facing multiple challenges and realizing that the only way through their travails is to move forward and embrace love.

Such is the case for Jolene Zarkades of Hannah’s Home Front. Jolene grew up fast and hard. The daughter of two alcoholics, she was surprised at how sad it made her when a drunk driving accident took them both from her forever. She is proud that she has been able to provide a far different life for her girls than the one she had. Her husband, Michael, an attorney is a kind, if sometimes absentee, father.

She is a pilot for the National Guard, a job she is able to share with her best friend, Tami. Tami was the sister Jolene had never had. They’d been teenagers when they met—a pair of eighteen-year-old girls who had joined the army because they didn’t know what else to do with their lives. Both had qualified for the high-school-to-flight-school helicopter-pilot training program.

[Not too shabby, ladies...]

Wed
Jan 7 2015 4:00pm

Proud to be an American—With a Hyphen: Heroes and Heroines Torn Between Two Cultures from Martin, Sorenson, and More!

Ami Bera once said, “Our nation is built upon a history of immigration, dating back to our first pioneers, the Pilgrims. For more than three centuries, we have welcomed generations of immigrants to our melting pot of hyphenated America: Italian-Americans; Irish-Americans; Jewish-Americans; Mexican-Americans; Chinese-Americans; Indian-Americans.”

Unfortunately, romance bookshelves traditionally have been woefully short of characters that fit this criterion. That is changing though and these days’ romance heroes and heroines come from many different kinds of backgrounds. 

But as those characters have discovered, life on the hyphen can be anything but easy. Many times, you feel torn between two cultures, the culture you grew up in (America) and the one that your parents or grandparents remember. Finding love can be even tougher as you battle traditional styles of courtship, such as arranged marriages, in order to find true love on your own terms. Making courtship and romance even harder is the question of whether or not you must marry within your culture to find someone who understands you or if love can truly build a bridge that overcomes cultural differences.

Heroine Lindsey Owyang from Kim Wong Keltner’s funny and thought provoking The Dim Sum of All Things would love to be off the hyphen. A large part of Lindsey’s character has been built by her learning to straddle the line that keeps her from either being fully Chinese or fully American. An even larger part of it has been defined by how she responds to how it feels to be an outsider in the place where you were born and raised just because your physical ancestry makes you different.

[More than skin deep...]

Thu
Jan 1 2015 7:00pm

First Look: Robin Kaye’s A Little On the Wild Side (January 6, 2015)

A Little on the Wild Side by Robin KayeRobin Kaye
A Little on the Wild Side
Sourcebooks Casablanca / January 6, 2015 / $7.99 print & digital

A woman who gets what she wants…

Bianca Ferrari-ex-supermodel turned successful business woman-seems to have it all: beauty, brains and a career she loves. And she did it all by herself...through sheer force of will and ruthless determination. So when her life is suddenly turned upside down, it's hard for her to admit that going it alone may not be an option...

A man who knows what she needs...

Sexy, rugged and down-to-earth, Trapper Kincaid has a knack for attracting all kinds of women-mostly the wrong kind. When he finds out that the exhaustingly independent and drop-dead gorgeous Bianca is in serious need of help, he knows he's the man for the job. But Bianca isn't going to make it easy...

How long does it take to fall in love? For Trapper Kincaid and Bianca Ferrari of Robin Kaye’s A Little on the Wild Side, the key number is 72 hours.

Trapper runs his relationships on a strict series of rules:

1. Never have sex with a smart woman.
2. Never have anything but casual sex.
3. Never spend more than seventy-two hours with a woman.
4. Never see the same woman twice.
5. Never talk about family.
6. Never give a woman your number
7. Never lead a woman on.
8. Never promise more than you can deliver.
9. Never discuss anything that can be misconstrued.
10. Always wear a condom.

[Some rules are made to be broken...]

Thu
Dec 18 2014 10:30am

First Look: Elizabeth Camden’s Beyond All Dreams (December 30, 2014)

Beyond All Dreams by Elizabeth CamdenElizabeth Camden
Beyond All Dreams
Bethany House / December 30, 2014 / $14.99 print, digital

Anna O'Brien leads a predictable and quiet life as a map librarian at the illustrious Library of Congress until she stumbles across a baffling mystery of a ship disappeared at sea. She is thwarted in her attempts to uncover information, but her determination outweighs her shyness and she turns to a dashing congressman for help.

Luke Callahan was one of the nation's most powerful congressmen until his promising career became shadowed in scandal. Eager to share in a new cause and intrigued by the winsome librarian, he joins forces with Anna to solve the mystery of the lost ship.

Opposites in every way, Anna and Luke are unexpectedly drawn to each other despite the strict rules forbidding Anna from any romantic entanglement with a member of Congress.

From the gilded halls of the Capitol, where powerful men shape the future of the nation, to the scholarly archives of the nation's finest library, Anna and Luke are soon embroiled in secrets much bigger and more perilous than they ever imagined. Is bringing the truth to light worth risking all they've ever dreamed for themselves?

We’ve all heard before that opposites attract. That is certainly the case for Luke and Anna from Elizabeth Camden’s Beyond All Dreams. On the surface, there is nothing that should draw them together. But just beneath the surface they find that the other is everything they need in a partner.

[Dream big!]

Sun
Dec 14 2014 12:00pm

First Look: Annie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner’s This Shattered World (December 23, 2014)

This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan SpoonerAmie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
This Shattered World (Starbound #2)
Disney Hyperion / December 23, 2014 / $17.99 print, $9.99 digital

Jubilee Chase and Flynn Cormac should never have met.

Lee is captain of the forces sent to Avon to crush the terraformed planet's rebellious colonists, but she has her own reasons for hating the insurgents.

Rebellion is in Flynn's blood. His sister died in the original uprising against the powerful corporate conglomerate that rules Avon with an iron fist. These corporations make their fortune by terraforming uninhabitable planets across the universe and recruiting colonists to make the planets livable, with the promise of a better life for their children. But they never fulfilled their promise on Avon, and decades later, Flynn is leading the rebellion.

Desperate for any advantage against the military occupying his home, Flynn does the only thing that makes sense when he and Lee cross paths: he returns to base with her as his prisoner. But as his fellow rebels prepare to execute this tough-talking girl with nerves of steel, Flynn makes another choice that will change him forever. He and Lee escape base together, caught between two sides in a senseless war.

Johnse Hatfield and Roseanna McCoy. Romeo and Juliet. Tony and Maria from West Side Story. Rose and Jack from Titanic. Writers have adored the star-crossed lovers trope since, well, since we’ve been telling tales. Evidence of this motif goes back as far as A.D. 8, when Ovid’s Metamorphoses was published, including the fable of Pyramus and Thisbe, lovers forbidden to wed because of their parents’ rivalry. Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner revise this popular theme in their latest novel, the second book in their Starbound series.

[Oooh, let's get started then...]

Thu
Dec 11 2014 10:30am

First Look: Kayla Perrin’s Flames of Passion (December 16, 2014)

Flames of Passion by Kayla PerrinKayla Perrin
Flames of Passion (Love on Fire)
Harlequin Kimani / December 16, 2014 / $6.50 print, $5.99 digital

Their spark is burning hot…

Betrayed by love in the past, Nya Lowe has vowed to steer clear of future heartbreak. But when she sees her deceitful ex at a party, she does something totally out of character and puts the moves on sexy San Diego firefighter Tyler Johansen. Her payback plan backfires when her counterfeit “boyfriend” starts breaking down her defenses…kiss by sizzling kiss.

Tyler risks his life every day, but he isn't ready to gamble with his heart again. Yet ever since the sultry photographer kissed him, all he wants is to keep Nya in his arms. As they stoke the flames of a dangerous desire, a suspicious fire and near-fatal collision raise the stakes for them. Will they both be burned again? Or can they trust each other enough to turn their pretend romance into a forever love?

They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. For Nya Lowe, the heroine of Kayla Perrin’s Flames of Passion, good intentions lead her to the path of lasting love.

[Spark it up!]

Mon
Dec 1 2014 10:30am

First Look: Shiloh Walker’s Razed (December 2, 2014)

Razed by Shiloh WalkerShiloh Walker
Razed
Berkley / December 2, 2014 / $7.99 print, digital

Keelie doesn’t believe in the “perfect man.” But the men who are worth the trouble are usually taken—like her business partner Zach Barnes. After a string of bad luck and the lost chance with Zach, Keelie decides that maybe flying solo—and living with suppressed desires—is the key to happiness.

As a photographer, Zane Barnes has an eye for the human form, and his eyes can’t get enough of Keelie’s curves. Unfortunately, Keelie is like most women—always fawning over his little brother, Zach. Zane is about ready to give up, but then a few stolen moments at his brother's wedding have him thinking maybe there's a chance there after all. Now he just has to prove that the perfect man does exist...for her.

The Shoop Shoop song tells us, “If you want to know if he loves you so/It’s in his kiss/That’s where it is.” The heroine of Shiloh Walker’s Razed believes firmly in that advice and puts it into action by planting a big one on her tattoo parlor business partner/co-owner Zach Barnes. She’s had a crush on him forever and is determined to ignite the fire between them. 

[And then what?...]

Sun
Nov 23 2014 1:05pm

6 Reasons Why Mockingjay: Part 1 Belongs to Team Gale

This post contains SPOILERS for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1. Enjoy!

This is the darkest of the Hunger Games films yet, which is saying something when you consider this is a series based on teens fighting to the death.  In this film the Capitol and the Districts are at war and Katniss and company are integral parts of the battle. There are no moments devoted to mind boggling fashions, few seconds are played for laughs. However, there is a tender romantic thread that runs almost from start to finish. Fans of Gale Hawthorne, played by the wonderful Liam Hemsworth, finally get to see their boy take center stage in the Peeta/Katniss/Gale triangle. It was worth the wait. Here are the six moments I thought most memorable:

1. The Fight Sequence: Early in the film Katniss goes to District 8 to visit a hospital and see firsthand the destruction done in the area by the Capitol’s bombers. When the Capitol catches a glimpse of her through their spy cams, they send bombers into the area to target the hospital and punish those supporting the Mockingjay. Katniss, unwilling to cower with her camera crew in a bunker, rushes out to confront the ships armed with her quiver full of exploding arrows. Gale is with her every step of the way, physically shielding her from shrapnel when a bomb explodes the building in front of them and firing arrows beside her as the ships bear down on them. Their movements are so perfectly in sync, the two working marvelously together, that you can see the long years of their hunting relationship bearing fruit in this moment.

[Awww, yes!...]

Fri
Nov 21 2014 2:00pm

First Look: Julie Klassen’s The Secret of Pembrooke Park (November 25, 2014)

Julie Klassen
The Secret of Pembrooke Park
Bethany House / November 25, 2014 / $14.99 print, $14.99 digital

Abigail Foster is the practical daughter. She fears she will end up a spinster, especially as she has little dowry, and the one man she thought might marry her seems to have fallen for her younger, prettier sister.

Facing financial ruin, Abigail and her father search for more affordable lodgings, until a strange solicitor arrives with an astounding offer: the use of a distant manor house abandoned for eighteen years. The Foster’s journey to imposing Pembrooke Park and are startled to find it entombed as it was abruptly left: tea cups encrusted with dry tea, moth-eaten clothes in wardrobes, a doll's house left mid-play...

The handsome local curate welcomes them, but though he and his family seem acquainted with the manor's past, the only information they offer is a stern warning: Beware trespassers drawn by rumors that Pembrooke Park contains a secret room filled with treasure.

This catches Abigail's attention. Hoping to restore her family's finances—and her dowry—Abigail looks for this supposed treasure. But eerie sounds at night and footprints in the dust reveal she isn't the only one secretly searching the house.

Then Abigail begins receiving anonymous letters, containing clues about the hidden room and startling discoveries about the past.

As old friends and new foes come calling at Pembrooke Park, secrets come to light. Will Abigail find the treasure and love she seeks...or very real danger?

One of my favorite characters in a Gothic romance novel is the house. While we typically don’t think of settings as characters, an exception must be made in the case of a Gothic romance. It is most often the house that adds the eerie ambience to the tone of the novel, the house that dictates the actions of the other players on stage, the house that most often serves as both catalyst and solution. It is at Manderley that the story of Rebecca must be told, for it is Manderley that keeps the secret. So it is with Pembrooke Park, a home shrouded in mystery in Julie Klassen's The Secret of Pembrooke Hall.

[And every mystery needs a mystery man, right?]

Fri
Nov 14 2014 10:30am

First Look: Jeffe Kennedy’s The Tears of the Rose (November 25, 2014)

The Tears of the Rose by Jeffe KennedyJeffe Kennedy
Tears of the Rose (The Twelve Kingdoms #2)
Kensington / November 25, 2014 / $15.00 print, $13.50 digital

Three sisters. Motherless daughters of the high king. The eldest is the warrior-woman heir;the middle child is shy and full of witchy intuition;and the youngest, Princess Amelia, she is as beautiful as the sun and just as generous.

Ami met her Prince Charming and went away to his castle on the stormy sea-cliffs—and that should have been her happily ever after. Instead, her husband lies dead and a war rages. Her middle sister has been taken into a demon land, turned into a stranger. The priests and her father are revealing secrets and telling lies. And a power is rising in Ami, too, a power she hardly recognizes, to wield her beauty as a weapon, and her charm as a tool to deceive…

Amelia has never had to be anything but good and sweet and kind and lovely. But the chess game for the Twelve Kingdoms has swept her up in it, and she must make a gambit of her own. Can the prettiest princess become a pawn—or a queen?

And they lived happily ever after is supposed to be the end of a fairy tale romance. Jeffe Kennedy turns that convention on its head in her latest fantasy romance novel, Tears of the Rose. This adult retelling of Beauty and the Beast shows that true love can occur more than once in an enchanted life time.

In the first novel in this series, Mark of the Tala, heroine Ami met the handsome Prince Hugh when he came to court her elder sister. The two were drawn to each other instantly and although she was the baby of the family, Ami was allowed to marry her sister’s suitor with great pomp and ceremony. Her eldest sister Ursula and older sister Andi both wished her well as she rode off to her new kingdom by the sea. Her beauty combined with his good looks and wealth had her convinced she was stepping into her happily ever after. She just knew everything would be absolutely wonderful from here on out.

[Famous last words...]

Wed
Nov 5 2014 5:45pm

Burning Love: 5 Reasons to Love Firefighters from Carr, Bernard, Shalvis, and More!

The Fireman Who Loved Me by Jennifer BernardOne of the highlights of my TV season this year is Chicago Fire. It follows the lives and loves of the sexy men and women who man Engine 51, Truck 81, Squad 3, Ambulance 61 and Battalion 25. It shows all the guts and glory involved in putting your life on the line for others every day, bringing your a-game to every event and being the kind of person who runs toward danger rather than away from it.

For those, like me, who feel an hour a week is nowhere near enough time to spend with these heroes there are some wonderful firefighter romances out there. If you’re not a fan, let me give you five reasons to become one.

They’re Comely

Looks aren’t everything—but they sure don’t hurt. The men of Jennifer Bernard’s Bachelor Firemen series don’t just put out fires for a living; they start them in the libidos of the women of San Gabriel. In The Fireman Who Loved Meheroine Melissa McGuire learns firsthand just how hot the boys in tan and yellow can be when she attends an event titled “Hot Men for a Great Cause: The San Gabriel County Firefighter and Law Enforcement Officer Fourth Annual Bachelor Auction.“ Initially, she’s opposed to the whole thing.

“Bidding on a man like some prize bull at a cattle auction? It’s ridiculous.”

Then she saw what it had to offer:

The beefcake parade of Southern California’s finest continued. All those powerful arms, those firm, flexing buttocks, those rock-hard stomachs. What about Vince from LA County Fire and Rescue, six feet seven inches of glorious sinewy coiled strength? Or Jose from Moorpark PD, with his laughing eyes and dance moves straight out of a strip show?. . . . .Number Five was perfect. And he knew it.

[We might know it too...]