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From The Blog
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Showing posts by: Victoria Janssen click to see Victoria Janssen's profile
Tue
Aug 19 2014 4:30pm

Top 5 Things I Learned from Doctor Who

I’ve been a Doctor Who fan since I was in my early teens, and was overjoyed when the series returned to television back in 2005, starring the divine Christopher Eccleston. These days, it’s the only television show I actually keep up with, as opposed to bingeing on DVDs at season’s end (though I do that as well, every Christmas). And though I’m rarely perfectly happy with any single episode—what fan is?—that never stops me from continuing to eagerly anticipate the next story, the next companion, the next Doctor. I also go backwards; as older episodes become available on DVD, I’m beginning to catch up on the series’ earliest history as well, and discovering how much I love the immense variety of the black and white stories, and all those awesome 1960s costumes.

To distract myself from vibrating with excitement for the advent of Peter Capaldi’s Doctor, I put together this list of the top five things I’ve learned from watching this classic, long-running series.

[Don't forget your bow-tie!]

Thu
Aug 14 2014 11:00am

Going Both Ways: Best Bi Short Stories Anthology

Best Bi Short Stories anthology, edited by Sheela LambertFunded via Kickstarter, the Best Bi Short Stories anthology was edited by Sheela Lambert, a civil rights activist and writer discussing bisexual and LGBT issues. Surprisingly, it’s the first book of its kind to deliberately focus on bisexual characters and to foreground their identity rather than leaving it to the reader to figure out from tiny clues.

The anthology contains new stories and also a few that were previously published in a wide variety of venues over the last two decades, including a novel excerpt from Pride/Prejudice: A Novel of Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth Bennet and Their Forbidden Lovers by Ann Herendeen, which explores a relationship between Charles Bingley and Fitzwilliam Darcy and is an intriguing entry in the Austen meta-canon. The most “vintage” story is the moving “Inland Passage” by Jane Rule (author of the classic Desert of the Heart, made into the film Desert Hearts), featuring two widowed older women, both grieving in different ways, who meet on a cruise ship and, after a rocky start, forge a bond with each other.

[Tell us more...]

Fri
Jun 20 2014 3:02pm

First Look: Tiffany Ashley’s Beyond the Velvet Rope (June 24, 2014)

Beyond the Velvet Rope by Tiffany Ashley

Tiffany Ashley
Beyond the Velvet Rope
Harlequin Kimani / June 24, 2014 / $14.95 print, $10.99 digital

Scoring a gig at Miami’s Club Babylon is a fantasy come true for New York promoter Thandie Shaw. The hottest club on the strip is a magnet for major South Beach movers and shakers. And Thandie’s about to meet the biggest player of them all.

Babylon owner Elliot Richards is macho, arrogant, sexist—everything Thandie doesn’t want in a boss or lover. Elliot is also the most erotic man who’s ever wanted to take her to bed. But Thandie’s no fool. Even as he tries to seduce her into a world of intense and shocking passion, she knows it’s too good to last…especially after she uncovers Elliot’s explosive secrets.

Thandie’s going down a dangerous road, and she’s risking a lot more than her career. Torn between doubt and desire, will she have to pay the ultimate price?

Tiffany Ashley’s erotic romance Beyond the Velvet Rope is the story of successful promoter Thandie Shaw’s tumultuous, intense relationship with Miami club owner Elliot Richards, who is devastatingly attractive and unfortunately knows it.

[He's sexy and he knows it?...]

Mon
Jun 9 2014 9:30am

First Look: Summer Rain Anthology (June 9, 2014)

Sarah Frantz, ed.; Ruthie Knox, Molly O’Keefe, Charlotte Stein et al.
Summer Rain
Pink Kayak Press / June 9, 2014 / $10.99 print, $3.99 digital

In this romance anthology, RITA-Award winning author Molly O’Keefe shows us the power of a city thunderstorm from the top of a skyscraper, while Amy Jo Cousins soaks us in a rain in Spain. New York Times bestselling author Ruthie Knox’s heroine is devastated by a winter storm, while a summer thunderstorm grants Alexandra Haughton’s hero and heroine a second chance at love. Rain sparks self-awareness in the robot in Charlotte Stein’s story and allows Mary Ann Rivers’s heroine to fall in love with her hero and her own art. Rain causes romance between the college students in Audra North’s and Shari Slade’s stories, while romance causes rain in Cecilia Tan’s myth-inspired tale of a sacrifice to a demi-god.

The nine romance novelettes in Summer Rain, written to benefit RAINN, engage with some complex and painful situations, though all of the stories end happily. Most involve characters who need to decide what they truly want, as opposed to what society thinks they should be or have; they find love in the face of disapproval from parents, or former partners, or society in general. They learn and grow and survive hardships to find happiness in themselves as well as with a partner.

[A little rain can be a good thing!...]

Tue
Mar 4 2014 10:30am

First Look: Jennifer Chance’s Rock It (March 4, 2014)

Jennifer Chance
Rock It
Loveswept / March 4, 2014 / $2.99 digital

Lacey Dawes is a total pro at the talent agency where she works, and it doesn’t hurt that IMO Worldwide Media represents Dante Falcone. The rock god has starred in her fantasies since she was sixteen—and remains her secret crush to this day. So when Dante picks her to be the interim manager on his Dream It tour, Lacey can’t believe her luck. Handling Dante is sure to be the most exquisite, spine-tingling, nerve-wracking mix of business and pleasure ever.

Although Dante is grateful for the adoring fans who scream for one more of his full-throttle, soul-searing songs, being surrounded by a cadre of corporate types backstage is wearing thin. Then Lacey shows up. Yeah, she’s organized, smart, quick to get him what he wants before he knows he wants it—but Dante senses there’s something else going on with sweet, sexy Lacey. One kiss tells him what that “something” might be . . . and makes him hungry for more.

Jennifer Chance is known for her Elizabethan England-set YA spy series, Maids of Honor. Rock It is her first contemporary romance, and though it’s for adults, the youths of both hero and heroine are important to the story. Lacey Dawes was a teenage fangirl of Dante Falcone, but she’s  grown beyond that now and sees the business of rock and roll as just that, a business in which she’s a junior talent agent with a lot of ambition. At least, she thinks she’s grown beyond it. She still has all of her memorabilia stored away, and makes sure to see as many of Dante’s concerts as she can, collecting a t-shirt for each performance. She still gets a serious thrill from seeing him perform, both emotionally and sexually.

[The thrill is far from gone!]

Mon
Feb 10 2014 10:30am

First Look: JL Merrow’s It’s All Geek to Me (February 10, 2014)

It's All Geek to Me by JL MerrowJL Merrow
It's All Geek to Me
Riptide / February 10, 2014 / $2.99 digital

Jez is on a mission of mercy: to replace a tragically deceased comic book for his injured best mate, Tel. Venturing into the Hidden Asteroid bookstore in London—the temple of geekdom itself—Jez is bowled over by the guy behind the counter.

Rhys is the poster boy for hot geeks: tall, gorgeous, and totally cool. Jez is desperate to impress him, so he bluffs his way through comic book jargon . . . and then dashes back to the hospital to beg Tel to teach him how to speak Geek.

Tel’s happy to oblige, and Jez is over the moon when Rhys asks him out. He’s even more thrilled when they discover a shared love of rugby, something he won’t have to fake for Rhys. The question is, how long can Jez keep up the deception, and what will happen when Rhys realizes he’s going out with a Fake Geek Guy?

If you’d like a quick introduction to JL Merrow’s work, the contemporary male/male romance, It’s All Geek to Me is a good place to start. It’s short and genuinely sweet, though with a touch of hot at the end. The endearing narrator makes it a fun read.

[Short, sweet, AND hot, all right!...]

Sun
Feb 2 2014 11:30am

First Look: Suzanne Brockmann’s Do or Die (February 4, 2014)

Do or Die by Suzanne BrockmannSuzanne Brockmann
Do or Die
Ballantine / February 4, 2014 / $26.00 print, $12.99 digital

Navy SEAL Ian Dunn went rogue in a big way when he turned his talents to a lawless life of jewel heists and con jobs. Or so the world has been led to believe. In reality, the former Special Ops warrior is still fighting for good, leading a small band of freelance covert operatives who take care of high-stakes business in highly unofficial ways. That makes Ian the hands-down choice when the U.S. government must breach a heavily guarded embassy and rescue a pair of children kidnapped by their own father, a sinister foreign national willing to turn his own kids into casualties. Shockingly, Ian passes on the mission... for reasons he will not–or cannot–reveal.

But saying no is not an option. Especially not to Phoebe Kruger, Ian’s bespectacled, beautiful, and unexpectedly brash new attorney. Determined to see the abducted children set free, she not only gets Ian on board but insists on riding shotgun on his Mission: Impossible-style operation, whether he likes it or not.

Though Phoebe has a valuable knack for getting out of tight spots, there’s no denying the intensely intimate feelings growing between Ian and Phoebe as the team gears up for combat. But these are feelings they both must fight to control as they face an array of cold-blooded adversaries, including a vindictive mob boss who’s got Ian at the top of his hit list and a wealthy psychopath who loves murder as much as money. As they dodge death squads and play lethal games of deception, Ian and Phoebe will do whatever it takes to save the innocent and vanquish the guilty.

Fans of Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooters series will enjoy Do or Die, a loosely-related spinoff novel to that series. Judging from the large cast of characters and their developing relationships, Do or Die seems destined for its own series, one with a more outside perspective than Troubleshooters, Inc.(Previous knowledge of that series isn’t at all necessary to understand and enjoy this book.)

[Jump right in...]

Wed
Jan 1 2014 11:30am

First Look: Alison DeLaine’s A Gentleman ’Til Midnight (January 1, 2014)

Alison DeLaine
A Gentleman 'Til Midnight
HQN / January 1, 2014 / $7.99 print & digital

Lady Katherine Kinloch survived captivity once. Now the notorious captain of her own ship, she refuses to let anyone jeopardize her hard-won freedom. But on a voyage to England to fight for her family's endangered estate, Katherine is thrown off course when she unknowingly rescues celebrated naval captain James Warre…a man who stands for everything she despises.

Haunted by regret for his role in her dark past, James is determined to be more than the cold, calculating officer Katherine expects. Her seduction is his obsession, but his pride hangs in the balance if he gives in to temptation. And hiding beneath the scorching attraction between them lies a secret that could force the two apart for good.

A Gentleman 'Til Midnight by Alison DeLaine follows the novella “A Lady By Day,” which was published in a single volume along with Stephanie Laurens’ “The Trouble with Virtue.” DeLaine’s first full-length novel explores the rivalry and romance between Captain James Warre, war-weary and shipwrecked, and the woman he once failed to save from slavers, Captain Katherine Kinloch.

[O Captains! My Captains!...]

Sun
Dec 22 2013 12:49pm

First Look: Robin Constantine’s The Promise of Amazing (December 31, 2013)

The Promise of Amazing by Robin ConstantineRobin Constantine
The Promise of Amazing
Harper Collins / December 31, 2013 / $17.99 print, $9.78 digital

Wren Caswell is average. Ranked in the middle of her class at Sacred Heart, she’s not popular, but not a social misfit. Wren is the quiet, “good” girl who's always done what she's supposed to—only now in her junior year, this passive strategy is backfiring. She wants to change, but doesn’t know how.

Grayson Barrett was the king of St. Gabe’s. Star of the lacrosse team, top of his class, on a fast track to a brilliant future—until he was expelled for being a “term paper pimp.” Now Gray is in a downward spiral and needs to change, but doesn’t know how.

One fateful night their paths cross when Wren, working at her family’s Arthurian-themed catering hall, performs the Heimlich on Gray as he chokes on a cocktail weenie, saving his life literally and figuratively. What follows is the complicated, awkward, hilarious, and tender tale of two teens shedding their pasts, figuring out who they are—and falling in love.

The Promise of Amazing is Robin Constantine's Young Adult debut. Heroine Wren Caswell is recovering from her first real relationship while trying to decide what she wants to do with herself after high school: go to college, or stay home and continue to work at her parents' catering hall, the Camelot? Hero Grayson Barrett, meanwhile, knows he needs to change. He's recently been expelled from his expensive private school for selling term papers, and is trying to free himself from some even more dangerous activities and the friends who encouraged them, while at the same time dealing with the ambiguous relationship he has with his mother and her new husband. Wren and Grayson meet in a fateful encounter in which Wren literally saves Grayson's life. The story is told through their alternating first-person points of view, which gives a deep picture of their flaws and confusions.

[Can't get you outta my head...]

Mon
Nov 18 2013 2:00pm

First Look: Kathryne Kennedy’s Everlasting Enchantment (December 3, 2013)

Everlasting Enchantment by Kathryne KennedyKathryne Kennedy
Everlasting Enchantment
Sourcebooks Casablanca / December 3, 2013 / $7.99 print & digital

Sir Gareth Solimere, knight of King Arthur's Round Table, has been trapped inside Merlin's relic for centuries, cursed until he finds his one true love. When he finally finds her in the unexpected form of a beautiful were-panther named Millicent Pantere, he has to use all of his charms to try to make her love him in return. But if he manages this feat, will he finally be free to live a normal life?

Fourth in the Relics of Merlin series, Everlasting Enchantment by Kathryne Kennedy explores the initially reluctant attraction that were-panther Millicent Pantere feels for Sir Gareth Solimere, a medieval knight trapped within a magical bracelet. If you’re new to the series, as I was, there’s enough background given to follow the story, though I was a bit confused as to how historical it was meant to be; the English aristocracy in this world holds a very different place due to their magical abilities, and seems to keep itself much more separate from the non-magical classes than in our world. For instance, there’s an Underworld that is restricted to magic users. Given the existence there of a historical Merlin, and Sir Gareth’s chivalric behavior, it was clear the series takes place in a secondary world rather than our own, with the King Arthur of literature rather than a historically-based version.

[The legend's always better than the reality...]

Sun
Oct 20 2013 11:00am

First Look: Heidi Belleau’s Wallflower (October 21, 2013)

Wallflower by Heidi BelleauHeidi Belleau
Wallflower
Riptide / October 21, 2013 / $6.99 digital

Art student and MMORPG addict Robert Ng has always been a loner, but he's recently made it his goal to make more (IRL) friends. Which is how he winds up working nights at Rear Entrance Video, shilling sketchy porn and blowup dolls as a favor to his roommate. The longer he works there, though, the more he realizes he’ll never be truly happy until he becomes the person he is online: his female persona, Bobby.

Bobby is cuter and funnier than Rob is, and a thousand times more popular with boys. Becoming Bobby IRL presents its own set of challenges, though . . . especially when you're sitting on the fence between two genders, only one of which has caught the attention of your seriously cute customer/classmate.

Dylan Ford is a six-foot Inuit comic book artist who always says what’s on his mind, and screw anyone who doesn't like it. As rough as he appears, though, Dylan has a soft spot for Rob. But will out-and-proud Dylan still want Rob if he's not all man?

Wallflower by Heidi Belleau is second in the “Rear Entrance Video” series, set in contemporary Vancouver, Canada. Though you do not need to have read the first book, Apple Polisher, to understand this one, characters from it appear in secondary roles. It’s a male/male erotic romance, with the added element of hero Rob Ng coming to terms with his gender identity over the course of the story. Conflicts involve Rob’s own worries about revealing his female persona, Bobby, to his boyfriend, as well as learning to negotiate prejudice and harassment.

[Love conquers all...]

Sun
Oct 6 2013 12:30pm

First Look: Karis Walsh’s Mounting Danger (October 15, 2013)

Mounting Danger by Karis WalshKaris Walsh
Mounting Danger
Bold Strokes / October 15, 2013 / $16.95 print

Sergeant Rachel Bryce’s determination to uphold the rules at any cost has made her a pariah on the Tacoma police force. When she is put in charge of the new mounted division, dissension in the ranks seems to guarantee the program’s failure. Rachel asks an old college acquaintance to help her train the horses and their riders before they make their public debut amid the fireworks and crowds on the Fourth of July.

Callan Lanford doesn’t play by the rules. She invents her own. The scion of a polo-playing dynasty, Cal has been riding since before she could walk, and she scores both on and off the field with equal ease. But she isn’t prepared for the emotional ride she takes as Rachel forces her to confront her achievement-oriented family’s rejection. Cal’s attraction to Rachel grows, but both their future together and the future of the mounted unit are uncertain, plagued by “accidents” and threats.

As Rachel and Cal battle a corrupt politician’s greed in the face of mounting danger, can their love prevail?

Mounting Danger by Karis Walsh combines a fascinatingly different police story with romance between police officer Rachel Bryce and champion polo player Callan Lanford. Rachel, who’s been ostracized from her fellow officers after reporting a cop and having him arrested, is abruptly put in charge of the Tacoma force’s new equestrian unit, just after the former sergeant was killed. She has an almost impossible task before her: getting the unit ready for crowd control in a limited period of time, while trying to figure out why the dead sergeant had secretively hampered the unit’s training at every turn. Her only hope for success with the mounted unit is convincing Callan Lanford, a wealthy, attractive polo player whom Rachel vaguely remembers from her own college polo days, to help out with training the police officers and their horses.

[I think we know where this is headed...]

Wed
Sep 25 2013 5:30pm

First Look: Nico Rosso’s Heavy Metal Heart (September 30, 2013)

Heavy Metal Heart by Nico RossoNico Rosso
Heavy Metal Heart (Demon Rock #1)
Carina Press / September 30, 2013 / $2.99 digital

Rock Star. Front man. Demon. A descendant of satyrs and the lead singer in a band that feeds on the energy of its audience, Trevor Sand is growing weary of the constant need to perform. He needs the legend of the Muse—a woman destined to be a demon’s eternal companion and only source of sustenance—to be true.

Misty Grant has never been bold, but when Trevor singles her out among hundreds at a concert, she takes him up on his explicit offer. During an erotic night in his hotel room, she learns that his touch is as electric as his lyrics. But when Trevor’s demon is aroused, her desire turns to horror and she runs.

Knowing that he’ll die if he loses her, Trevor must find Misty before his enemies do. But even if he can save her, he knows that regaining the trust of his fated Muse will be his greatest challenge.

Heavy Metal Heart is first in the new Demon Rock series by Nico Rosso, a paranormal erotica series dense with heavy metal attitude. Hero Trevor Sand is a demon musician, centuries old, who must feed on the energy of audiences. He and his bandmates have reinvented themselves over time, both physically and in their music, and currently present themselves as a popular metal band. The idea of immortal musicians, and symbiotic relationships with audiences, is hardly new, but Rosso nicely sets up Trevor’s hard rocking persona, one that will be recognizable to anyone who’s ever watched “Behind the Music” or a rock documentary.

[Go behind the demon rock star...]

Tue
Aug 27 2013 9:30am

First Look: Jeannie Lin’s The Lotus Palace (August 27, 2013)

The Lotus Palace by Jeannie LinJeannie Lin
The Lotus Palace
Harlequin HQN / August 27, 2013 / $7.99 print / $6.15 digital

It is a time of celebration in the Pingkang Li, where imperial scholars and bureaucrats mingle with beautiful courtesans. At the center is the Lotus Palace, home of the most exquisite courtesans in China.

Maidservant Yue-ying is not one of those beauties. Street-smart and practical, she's content to live in the shadow of her infamous mistress—until she meets the aristocratic playboy Bai Huang.

Bai Huang lives in a privileged world Yue-ying can barely imagine, yet alone share, but as they are thrown together in an attempt to solve a deadly mystery, they both start to dream of a different life. Yet Bai Huang's position means that all she could ever be to him is his concubine—will she sacrifice her pride to follow her heart?

Jeannie Lin has previously written four romances for Harlequin Historical set in China; The Lotus Palace begins a new series of historical romance-mysteries set during the Tang Dynasty. Lin’s research, skillfully deployed, not only provides an interesting background but sets up various intriguing conflicts for the characters.

[That's what we hope for!...]

Fri
Aug 23 2013 1:30pm

First Look: Alexis Hall’s Glitterland (August 26, 2013)

Glitterland by Alexis HallAlexis Hall
Glitterland
Riptide / August 26, 2013 / $16.99 print

Once the golden boy of the English literary scene, now a clinically depressed writer of pulp crime fiction, Ash Winters has given up on love, hope, happiness, and—most of all—himself. He lives his life between the cycles of his illness, haunted by the ghosts of other people’s expectations.

Then a chance encounter at a stag party throws him into the arms of Essex boy Darian Taylor, an aspiring model who lives in a world of hair gel, fake tans, and fashion shows. By his own admission, Darian isn’t the crispest lettuce in the fridge, but he cooks a mean cottage pie and makes Ash laugh, reminding him of what it’s like to step beyond the boundaries of anxiety.

But Ash has been living in his own shadow for so long that he can’t see past the glitter to the light. Can a man who doesn’t trust himself ever trust in happiness? And how can a man who doesn’t believe in happiness ever fight for his own?

Glitterland is Alexis Hall’s first novel, a male/male romance with hints of literary fiction in its narration, appropriate since the protagonist and first-person narrator, Ash Winters, wrote literary genre fiction before turning to popular mysteries. Ash is at a low point in his life; he’s struggled with addiction and suicide attempts, and though his severe manic depression is supposedly stabilized with medication, he feels trapped and joyless. At the novel’s beginning, he is about to fall back into old, unhealthy patterns because he can’t imagine anything better. Hall has a deft hand with depicting Ash’s state of mind, which helped me to quickly sympathize with the character’s suffering while growing curious about how he would be able to climb out of his pit of despair.

[Is curiosity contagious?...]

Fri
Aug 2 2013 2:00pm

Bottomless Sorrow in Patricia Gaffney’s Forever and Ever

Forever and Ever by Patricia Gaffney**This post contains SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS.**

The final book in Patricia Gaffney’s Victorian-set Wyckerley trilogy, Forever and Ever, brings together a radical from a poor Cornish mining family with a woman who owns a copper mine.  When they first meet, Connor is pretending to be an uneducated miner in order to investigate the working conditions at Sophie’s mine.  Though they are attracted to each other, she is wary of becoming involved with someone of a much lower social status, and aside from that, he is her employee.

Connor persists, and gradually Sophie allows her true desire for him to push aside most of her worries.  They spend idyllic time together in her rose garden, growing steadily more intimate.  Despite his misgivings, Connor maintains his charade all through their budding romance, even after they spend the night together.  Soon after, a draft of Connor’s report is published.  The report is worse than he intended because others have exaggerated the details, to more clearly condemn the mine and its owner.  Sophie feels utterly betrayed, and Connor’s own feelings of guilt and anger about his actions help lead to a vicious argument.

[Bring on the vicousness...and despair!...]

Wed
Jul 17 2013 4:30pm

First Look: Shana Abé’s The Deepest Night (August 13, 2013)

The Deepest Night by Shana AbéShana Abé
The Deepest Night
Random House / August 13, 2013 / $16 digital, $10.99 digital

It’s 1915, and sixteen-year-old Lora Jones is finishing up her first year as a charity student at Iverson, a prestigious, gothic boarding school on England’s southern coast. While she’s always felt different from everyone around her, now she finally knows why: She is a drákon, a rare, enchanted being with astonishing magical abilities.

As war hits Britain’s shores, and Lora reels from an unimaginable loss, she finds that her powers come with grave and dangerous responsibilities. At the request of Armand Louis, the darkly mysterious boy whose father owns Iverson, Lora will spend her summer at his lavish estate. To help the war effort—and to keep Lora by his side—Armand turns his home into a military hospital, where Lora will serve as a nurse. For Armand is inescapably drawn to her—bound to her by heart-deep secrets and a supernatural connection that runs thicker than blood.

Yet while Lora tries to sort out her own feelings toward Armand, fate offers an unexpected surprise. Lora discovers there is another drákon, a prisoner of war being held in Germany. And that only she, with her newly honed Gifts, will be able to rescue him.  With Armand, Lora will cross enemy lines on an incredible mission—one that could bond her to Armand forever, or irrevocably tear them apart.

Second in “The Sweetest Dark” series, The Deepest Night by Shana Abé continues to explore the world of human/dragon shapeshifters during the turbulent years of World War I. In this installment, the teenaged characters travel out of England and engage directly with historical events on a quest to rescue what might be another of their kind. Meanwhile, they struggle with their relationship and the possibility of marriage between them that might be of convenience…or might not.

[Don't kid yourself, guys...]

Sun
Jul 7 2013 10:30am

First Look: Jennifer Echols’s Dirty Little Secret (July 16, 2013)

Dirty Little Secrets by Jennifer EcholsJennifer Echols
Dirty Little Secret
MTV Books / July 16, 2013 / $16.99 print, $8.89 digital

Bailey wasn’t always a wild child and the black sheep of her family. She used to play fiddle and tour the music circuit with her sister, Julie, who sang and played guitar. That ended when country music execs swooped in and signed Julie to a solo deal. Never mind that Julie and Bailey were a duet, or that Bailey was their songwriter. The music scouts wanted only Julie, and their parents were content to sit by and let her fulfill her dreams while Bailey’s were hushed away.

Bailey has tried to numb the pain and disappointment over what could have been. And as Julie’s debut album is set to hit the charts, her parents get fed up with Bailey’s antics and ship her off to granddad’s house in Nashville. Playing fiddle in washed-up tribute groups at the mall, Bailey meets Sam, a handsome and oh-so-persuasive guitarist with his own band. He knows Bailey’s fiddle playing is just the thing his band needs to break into the industry. But this life has broken Bailey’s heart once before. She isn’t sure she’s ready to let Sam take her there again.

Jennifer Echols writes for both adults and young adults, and has recently begun to publish in the new subgenre of New Adult. Her newest novel, Dirty Little Secret, is listed as a young adult book, but the ages of the protagonists, the mild sexual content, and discussion of sex might make it fit into New Adult as well. Regardless, the novel will likely appeal to all of those audiences. Fans of the television show Nashville might be especially intrigued:  it’s set amid the music clubs along Nashville’s Broadway, and both hero and heroine are talented musicians who haven’t yet had their big break.

[Sing it out...]

Thu
Jun 27 2013 5:35pm

First Look: Jude Deveraux’s True Love (July 2, 2013)

True Love by Jude DeverauxJude Deveraux
True Love
Random House / July 9, 2013 / $27.00 print, $12.99 digital

Just as Alix Madsen is finishing up architectural school, Adelaide Kingsley dies and wills her, for one year, the use of a charming nineteenth-century Nantucket house. The elderly woman’s relationship to the Madsen family is a mystery to the spirited Alix—fresh from a romantic breakup—but for reasons of her own Alix accepts the quirky bequest, in part because it gives her time to plan her best friend’s storybook wedding.

But unseen forces move behind the scenes, creaking Kingsley House’s ancient floorboards. It seems that Adelaide Kingsley had a rather specific task for Alix: to solve the strange disappearance of one of the Kingsley women, Valentina, more than two hundred years ago. If that wasn’t troubling enough, Alix must deal with the arrogant (and extremely good-looking) architect Jared Montgomery, who is living in the property’s guesthouse.

Unbeknown to Alix, Jared has been charged with looking after her while she lives on the island—an easy task for him, considering the undeniable chemistry between the two. But Jared harbors secrets of his own, which, if revealed, may drive a wedge between the pair.

With a glorious Nantucket wedding on the horizon, sparks fly, and the ghosts of the past begin to reveal themselves—some of them literally. Finding their lives inextricably entwined with the turbulent fortunes of their ancestors, Alix and Jared discover that only by righting the wrongs of the past can they hope to be together.

Veteran author Jude Deveraux returns with True Love, first in the Nantucket Brides Trilogy. Fans of Deveraux should note the novel contains a new generation of characters from the Montgomery-Taggert family, a staple of nearly two dozen of her books, beginning with her 1980 medieval romance The Black Lyon and continuing today.

[The Montgomery-Taggerts are back!...]

Tue
Jun 25 2013 4:30pm

First Look: Candis Terry’s Anything But Sweet (June 25, 2013)

Anything But Sweet by Candis TerryCandis Terry
Anything But Sweet
Harper Collins / June 25, 2013 / $4.99 digital

If Charlotte Brooks thinks she and her TV makeover show can turn Reno Wilder’s hometown upside down, he’ll be happy to prove her wrong. The ex-Marine has seen too much turmoil and he likes Sweet, Texas, just the way it is. Traditional. Familiar. A little dull. Everything Charli isn’t. But instead of backing off from his scowls like everyone else, Charli digs in her skyscraper heels.

Reno Wilder is a one-man unwelcoming committee, but Charli isn’t budging. It’s clear the gorgeous cowboy needs an overhaul just as much as Sweet. Someone needs to break him out of that gruff shell and show him how fun and rewarding a little change can be.

Candis Terry, also known for her Sugar Shack series, sets her new contemporary romance Anything But Sweet in the small town of Sweet, Texas.  Sweet will seem familiar to anyone who either lives in a small town or enjoys reading about them, but what makes it different is that the town of Sweet is about to undergo a makeover.

[Even towns can use a new look now and then...]