<i>Primal Heat</i> Part 1: Exclusive Excerpt Primal Heat Part 1: Exclusive Excerpt A. C. Arthur "His lips took hers in a hungry connection..." <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."
From The Blog
July 5, 2015
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Scarlettleigh
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
Showing posts by: Wendy the Super Librarian click to see Wendy the Super Librarian's profile
Thu
Jul 2 2015 4:30pm

First Look: Lynne Connolly’s Danger Wears White (July 7, 2015)

Dangers Wears White by Lynne Connolly

Lynne Connolly
Danger Wears White (The Emperors of London #3)
Lyrical Press / July 7, 2015 / $15.00 print, $4.99 digital

Hoping to live down her family’s connections to the traitorous Jacobite cause, Imogen wants nothing more than a quiet life in the country. When she stumbles upon a wounded man, the white cockade in his coat tells her he’s a Jacobite, and a danger to the crown. Yet there’s something about him she can’t resist . . .

In search of a document on behalf of his powerful family, Tony is shot and left for dead. Secreted away to a hidden chamber, he finds himself both a guest and prisoner of a beautiful but mysterious woman. What she wants and who she serves, he cannot know. But what he does understand is the desire burning strongly between them. And that neither of them will be spared until their lust is sated.

When the action moves to London, suddenly it’s Tony who has to act to save Imogen. Forced to become a lady in waiting to Princess Amelia, she is in peril from the Jacobites, who are convinced she is their salvation. Only the strength of Tony and Imogen’s love can save them now.

Full Disclosure: On top of being a writer, Lynne Connolly is a blogger at Heroes & Heartbreakers and has blogged with Wendy the Super Librarian at The Good, The Bad and the Unread.

[A true Georgian historical about a spy and his heroine...]

Wed
Jun 17 2015 2:00pm

Claymores and Cowboys: Not-Your-Usual Historical Romance Best Bets for June 2015

Beauty’s Curse by Tamara Hughes

My monthly endeavor of looking for historical romances that skewer slightly off the beaten path is like a box of chocolates: I never know what I’m going to get.  Sometimes it’s a venerable Whitman’s Sampler of variety and sometimes you get conked over the head with one or two particular themes.  For medieval and western fans, in particular, this is your month.

The High Seas!

Beauty’s Curse by Tamara Hughes

Wherever she goes, catastrophe follows…

England, 1722

Amelia Archer will be the ruin of her family. Her extraordinary bad luck is burden enough, but her sweet, trusting nature often lands her in impossible scrapes. After the last straw, Amelia’s harried father ships his unfortunate daughter off to the Colonies to live with her aunt. But wherever Amelia goes, bad luck is sure to follow…

Pirate David Lamont is taken with the lovely young Englishwoman the moment she’s pulled aboard from her sinking vessel. But sailors are already a superstitious lot and Amelia is unwelcome. In a feat of chivalry, David defends and claims her for himself…

Now their fortunes-for good or ill-are invariably tied. But as much as she longs for him, Amelia cannot allow a romance. For a lady of misfortune can only bring ruin to those she loves…

[More not-your-usual historical Best Bets for June 2015...]

Tue
Jun 2 2015 5:15pm

First Look: Meg Cabot’s Royal Wedding (June 2, 2015)

Royal Wedding by Meg Cabot

Meg Cabot
Royal Wedding (Princess Diaries #11)
William Morrow / June 2, 2015 / $14.99 print, $9.99 digital

For Princess Mia, the past five years since college graduation have been a whirlwind of activity, what with living in New York City, running her new teen community center, being madly in love, and attending royal engagements. And speaking of engagements. Mia’s gorgeous longtime boyfriend Michael managed to clear both their schedules just long enough for an exotic (and very private) Caribbean island interlude where he popped the question! Of course Mia didn’t need to consult her diary to know that her answer was a royal oui.

But now Mia has a scandal of majestic proportions to contend with: Her grandmother’s leaked “fake” wedding plans to the press that could cause even normally calm Michael to become a runaway groom. Worse, a scheming politico is trying to force Mia’s father from the throne, all because of a royal secret that could leave Genovia without a monarch.  Can Mia prove to everyone—especially herself—that she’s not only ready to wed, but ready to rule as well?

Fifteen years ago Meg Cabot launched her wildly successful young adult series, The Princess Diaries.  I was fresh out of college, newly employed in my first professional job and making up for lost time in the reading for leisure category—something I did not do much of while toiling away on my degrees. I had just discovered the romance genre by way of chick lit and, while it’s hard to recall now, that’s probably what drew me to the this series about a gawky New York City teenager who learns one day that she’s heir to the throne of the fictional principality of Genovia. Written in diary format, with Mia Thermopolis leading the way, I fell hook, line and sinker—laughing my fool head off and swooning in satisfaction when Mia got her happy ending in 2009’s Forever Princess.  It was such a great example of how to end a series, with Cabot hitting all the high notes and wrapping up the series in a way that left this fan totally satisfied. So imagine my delight when I heard that she was resurrecting Mia and the gang for the first adult novel in the series! I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this book.

[And neither can we...]

Mon
May 18 2015 4:10pm

Love Is In the Air: Not-Your-Usual Historical Romance Best Bets for May 2015

Tiffany Girl by Deeanne Gist

Spring, when a not-so-young-anymore girl’s fancy turns to…..more historical romance! There’s a nice variety of historical romance this month to help you shake up any impending Regency ruts that may have befallen you, but never fear! There are still some English settings to make even the most hearty Anglophile content.

American-Set!

Tiffany Girl by Deeanne Gist

As preparations for the 1893 World’s Fair set Chicago and the nation on fire, Louis Tiffany—heir to the exclusive Fifth Avenue jewelry empire—seizes the opportunity to unveil his state-of-the-art, stained glass, mosaic chapel, the likes of which the world has never seen.

But when Louis’s dream is threatened by a glassworkers’ strike months before the Fair opens, he turns to an unforeseen source for help: the female students at the Art Students League of New York. Eager for adventure, the young women pick up their skirts, move to boarding houses, take up steel cutters, and assume new identities as the “Tiffany Girls.”

Tiffany Girl is the heartwarming story of the impetuous Flossie Jayne, a beautiful, budding artist who is handpicked by Louis to help complete the Tiffany chapel. Though excited to live in a boarding house when most women stayed home, she quickly finds the world is less welcoming than anticipated. From a Casanova male, to an unconventional married couple, and a condescending singing master, she takes on a colorful cast of characters to transform the boarding house into a home while racing to complete the Tiffany chapel and make a name for herself in the art world.

As challenges mount, her ambitions become threatened from an unexpected quarter: her own heart. Who will claim victory? Her dreams or the captivating boarder next door?

Gist has been slowly moving away from the inspirational subgenre with her last couple of releases taking on a more secular Americana feel.  But fans shouldn’t fear that she’s gone full-blown Fifty Shades on us, she’s still writing some of the strongest sweet romances around.  I liked the Tiffany historical tidbits, and the fact that the characters behaved in an era appropriate manner.  However my favorite parts of this story centered around the boardinghouse that the heroine lives in. 

[More Not-Your-Usual Historical Romance Novels...]

Fri
May 15 2015 9:30am

How to Seduce a Billionaire by Portia Da Costa or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Like Virgins and Billionaires

How to Seduce a Billionaire by Portia Da Costa

If ever a book was created to have me run screaming in the other direction, it was this one.  Twenty-nine year old virgin heroine finds her groove thing with billionaire hero. Typing that last sentence literally gave me an eye twitch.  However, this isn’t your average virgin meets billionaire romance.  No, it’s one written by Portia Da Costa.

This is a concept that non-readers would find absurd, but that all readers, specifically genre readers, will understand.  I trust Portia Da Costa.  I’ve been reading Portia Da Costa for close to fifteen years.  For all intents and purposes, I have built up a relationship with her work and I know that, while I’ve liked some stories more than others, I’ll be in capable hands.  Which means, yes.  I’m going to keep an open mind about the virgin and the billionaire.

Jess Lockhart is an amateur artist with a job as an insurance company drone.  Then said insurance company gets bought out by Ellis McKenna, an eccentric billionaire who pops by the office after the acquisition to ruffle a few feathers.  Instead it’s a whole flurry of hormones that get ruffled, which means the tango between Jess and Ellis begins fast and furiously.

Oh shit. Oh Lord. I want him.  I’ve no practical idea how to do sex, but I want to do it with him, even if I will be the most hopeless lay.

[Her V-card is on the table...]

Tue
May 12 2015 4:30pm

The Magnificent 7: Top Western Historicals Not To Be Missed (An Opinionated Opinion)

Always to Remember Lorraine Heath

After years of speculation that never quite seemed to materialize, Westerns finally seem to be making a comeback in the romance genre. The trend towards small town contemporaries has certainly been a driving force, with more cowboys, ranchers, and farmers showing up in contemporaries. This has begun, somewhat, to translate over into historical Westerns. Authors like Jo Goodman and Katy Madison, who were working in English historicals, have transitioned over to historical Westerns and authors with layoffs, like Rosanne Bittner and Linda Broday, have found new contracts.  I have loved historical Westerns from the moment I clamped eyes on the genre, from gritty and lawless to sweet and tender.  Here are some of my favorites:

Always to Remember by Lorraine Heath

Heath wrote several great westerns, but this one is her masterpiece.  Winning a RITA Award in 1997, start to finish this is possibly the best romance novel I’ve ever read.  The heroine has lost her husband and three brothers in the Civil War and is determined to make the hero, a conscientious objector, pay for his perceived cowardice and betrayal.  It’s the story of a woman and a whole town, twisted by grief, and a man who shows them what it truly means to be brave.  It’s sublime from the first page to the last.

The Horseman by Jillian Hart

Everything that is awful seems to happen to the heroine at the start of this story, but it’s a textbook example of why some of us love the Beta hero. The hero in this story puts the “dream” in McDreamy. A Mr. Nice Guy who feels he’s not good enough for the heroine, but loves her all the same. For her part, the heroine has to find a way to recover from an abusive marriage, a miscarriage that has left her barren, and parents who shun her for ruining their “good” family name. It’s sweet and tender, the type of romance that leaves you with a happy sigh on your lips after you finish the last page.

[More Top Western Historicals to Read...]

Tue
Apr 28 2015 5:00pm

April Showers: Not-Your-Usual Historical Romance Best Bets for April 2015

Starling by Virginia Taylor

April is a time for spring showers to bring us May flowers.  What else does April bring?  Apparently a bumper crop of not-your-usual historicals with bountiful options for different settings, non-titled characters and time periods that take us outside of the Regency era. 

Australia!
Starling by Virginia Taylor

 Let your heart soar…

An aspiring dressmaker, orphaned Starling Smith is accustomed to fighting for her own survival. But when she’s offered a year’s wages to temporarily pose as a wealthy man’s bride, she suspects ulterior motives. She can’t lose the chance to open her own shop, but she won’t be any man’s lover, not even handsome, infuriating Alisdair Seymour’s… 

To prevent his visiting sister from parading potential brides in front of him, Alisdair has decided to present a fake wife. He lost his heart once, and had it broken—he doesn’t intend to do it again. But stubborn, spirited Starling is more alluring than he bargained for, and Alisdair will risk everything he has to prove his love is true… 

Having published two romantic comedies with Random House Australia, Taylor makes her historical debut with Kensington’s Lyrical Press, the first book in a trilogy set in 19th century south Australia.

Ballooning!
When a Rake Falls by Sally Orr

He's racing to win back his reputation

Having hired a balloon to get him to Paris in a daring race, Lord Boyce Parker is simultaneously exhilarated and unnerved by the wonders and dangers of flight, and most of all by the beautiful, stubborn, intelligent lady operating the balloon.

She's curious about the science of love

Eve Mountfloy is in the process of conducting weather experiments when she finds herself spirited away to France by a notorious rake. She's only slightly dismayed-the rake seems to respect her work-but she is frequently distracted by his windblown physical magnificence and buoyant spirits.

What happens when they descend from the clouds?
As risky as aeronautics may be, once their feet touch the ground, Eve and Boyce learn the real danger of a very different type of falling...

The first book nominated for an RT Book Reviews Reviewer’s Choice Award, Orr continues her Regency romp Rake’s Handbook series with this second title.

[More Not-Your-Usual Historical Romances.]

Thu
Mar 26 2015 9:30am

Love Is In the Air: Not-Your-Usual-Historicals Best Bets for March 2015

March is that time of year when we’re all desperate for daffodils and Easter candy, but would happily settle for someone to dig us out of the snow bank where we’ve been imprisoned for months on end.  After the longest, coldest winter that never seems to want to end, what better way to get ready for spring than with a new crop of unusual historicals!  And this spring really has sprung with some Regency era romances featuring twists, a gritty Victorian that set my heart racing, and a plethora of titles launching brand new series.

Artist!

His Wicked Reputation by Madeline Hunter

Gareth Fitzallen is celebrated for four things: his handsome face, his notable charm, his aristocratic connections, and an ability to give the kind of pleasure that has women begging for more. Normally he bestows his talents on experienced, worldly women. But when he heads to Langdon’s End to restore a property he inherited—and to investigate a massive art theft—he lays plans to seduce a most unlikely lady.

Eva Russell lives a spinster’s life of precarious finances and limited dreams while clinging to her family’s old gentry status. She supports herself by copying paintings while she plots to marry her lovely sister to a well-established man. Everyone warns her of Gareth’s reputation, and advises her to lock her sister away. Only it is not her sister Gareth desires. One look, and she knows he is trouble. One kiss, however, proves she is no match for this master of seduction.

A Regency-era romance with a twist, Booklist says, “Hunter’s PhD in art history stands her in good stead in this fascinating, danger-tinged novel, the first in a new trilogy.”

[What else awaits this month?...]

Sat
Mar 7 2015 12:30pm

First Look: Laura Trentham’s Slow and Steady Rush (March 10, 2015)

Slow and Steady Rush by Laura TrenthamLaura Trentham
Slow and Steady Rush (Falcon Football Series #1)
St. Martin’s Press / March 10, 2015 / $3.99 digital

She lives by the book—and is still searching for her happily ever after.

Darcy Wilde has tried hard not to live up to her last name. As a librarian in Atlanta she lives a fine life far away from the football-obsessed town of her childhood. But when her beloved Grandmother needs help, Darcy takes a leave of absence and heads back to the home and past she left behind.

He knows how to play the field—and is in no rush to settle down.

Robbie Dalton knows a thing or two about painful pasts. After bouncing around in foster care and the Army for years he is finally ready to move on and make a home for himself in Falcon, Alabama, as the newest high school football coach. Sparks fly when the sexy new coach and the sharp-tongued librarian meet, but neither of them is looking to make ties.

But when it comes to love, sometimes you’ve gotta throw away the rule book to cross the finish line…

Everything changes when Darcy falls in love, not only with the gruff, protective, and smoking hot man who's sharing her days and nights, but also with the complex tapestry of people who weave Falcon together. Could this be where she belongs—and who she belongs with?

Let me be blunt: I’m not a big fan of cutesy. Too much precious and I start scouring my bookshelves for deep, dark corners to burrow away in.  And to be frank?  The precious pit is very easy trap to fall into when you’re reading a small town contemporary. Cutesy small town denizens. Cutesy small town shenanigans. And somehow everybody knowing everybody’s business is charming and cutesy instead of what it is in real life, painfully annoying to the point where you want to run screaming through the streets to tell everybody and their dead grandmother to mind their own darn business.

Yes, I grew up in a small town. Why do you ask?

This is what makes Laura Trentham’s debut so darn remarkable.

[Tell us more, tell us more...]

Fri
Feb 20 2015 3:00pm

Box of Chocolates: Unusual Historical Best Bets February 2015

Home to Caroline by Adera OrfanelliFebruary may be the shortest month of the calendar, but it’s a wonderful one for a nice variety of not-your-usual historicals. Whether it’s the high seas, America’s wide-open spaces, or some twists on familiar English settings, there’s plenty of intriguing titles vying to be your Valentine.

American-Set!

Home to Caroline by Adera Orfanelli

War couldn’t keep them apart, but their secrets might.

When her husband returns from the Civil War, Caroline has to tell him the truth: their farm is failing and she may be unable to carry a child to term. While he was gone, she struggled to keep the farm going, lost her father and brother to the war and miscarried the child conceived while Travis was home on leave. He returned to the front before Caroline knew she was pregnant.

Travis has a secret of his own. He never learned to farm. She never knew because she had her father and brother to help, but now she has only him and he may not be the man she needs.

Neither is willing to ruin the joy of Travis’s homecoming with bad news, but the truth must come out eventually. Will Travis stay when he finds out Caroline’s shame, and will she want him to when she finds out his?

The author’s backlist consists of erotic scifi romance, and while she loves to read historicals, it took her a while to summon the courage to try her hand at writing one. Home to Caroline is her debut historical romance, as well as her debut with Samhain Publishing.

[+more historicals sure to float your boat...]

Tue
Feb 3 2015 3:00pm

First Look: Marie Ferrarella’s Carrying His Secret (February 3, 2015)

Marie Ferrarella
Carrying His Secret (The Adair Affairs #1)
Harlequin Romantic Suspense / February 3, 2015 / $5.50 print, $3.49 Digital

When Elizabeth Shelton finds her boss murdered, her life is thrown into turmoil. But nothing shocks her more than learning she's pregnant by the man's son. She kept her attraction to mogul Whit Adair hidden for years before their one-night tryst—and now she must keep another secret…

When the killer targets her next, Whit goes from her one-time lover to her full-time bodyguard. Taking her to his ranch for safekeeping, Whit discovers the truth about the baby. He offers his protection, but Elizabeth wants more—his love. For his child and its mother, he'll do anything—even take down a murderer…

In 1982, Marie Ferrarella saw her first published book, Smoldering Embers, released by the now-defunct Berkley category line, Second Chance at Love. Now here we are, 33 years later, and Ms. Ferrarella’s latest book, Carrying His Secret, marks the first book in a new Harlequin Romantic Suspense multi-author continuity series, The Adair Affairs. Oh, and it just so happens to be her 250th published book. What were the rest of us doing with those 33 years? Whatever it was, Ferrarella wins.

[We think we might be doing something wrong with our lives...]

Wed
Jan 14 2015 6:00pm

Resolve to Read: Unusual Historical Romance Best Bets for January 2015

Freedom to Love by Susanna FraserDecember is always a slow month in publishing and that translated into slim pickings for unusual historicals. However, just as I had hoped, 2015 comes roaring in with a January blizzard of options. There are stand-alone novels, continuing series, and the launch titles of a few new series. There’s also a bonafide crop of non-titled characters living in the British Isles. Who says Dukes have all the fun?

American-Set!

Freedom to Love by Susanna Fraser

Louisiana, 1815

Thérèse Bondurant trusted her parents to provide for her and her young half-sister, though they never wed due to laws against mixed-race marriage. But when both die of a fever, Thérèse learns her only inheritance is debt—and her father's promise that somewhere on his plantation lies a buried treasure. To save her own life—as well as that of her sister—she'll need to find it before her white cousins take possession of the land.

British officer Henry Farlow, dazed from a wound received in battle outside New Orleans, stumbles onto Thérèse's property out of necessity. But he stays because he's become captivated by her intelligence and beauty. It's thanks to Thérèse's tender care that he regains his strength just in time to fend off her cousin, inadvertently killing the would-be rapist in the process.

Though he risks being labeled a deserter, it's much more than a sense of duty that compels Henry to see the sisters to safety—far away from the scene of the crime. And Thérèse realizes she has come to rely on Henry for so much more than protection. On their journey to freedom in England, they must navigate a territory that's just as foreign to them both—love.

Set during the aftermath of the Battle of New Orleans, this is Fraser’s first full length novel since 2012’s An Infamous Marriage.

[Oh, that's great!]

Fri
Dec 19 2014 10:30am

Harlequin for the Save: Unusual Historical Romance Best Bets for December 2014

Playing the Rake's Game by Bronwyn Scott It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that December is a bit of a publishing dead zone when it comes to new releases. The hot fall releases have come and gone, the glut of holiday themed reads landed in stores by the end of October, and everybody is looking ahead to the big spring push. Which brings us to this small, merry band of unusual historical offerings for December, most of them courtesy of that “old gray lady” Harlequin. Bless their hearts, they kept me in historical romance during my unfortunate, years long, Regency burn-out, and now they’re here to save the unusual historicals post for this month. Viva la Harlequin!

The Caribbean!

Playing the Rake’s Game by Bronwyn Scott

Emma Ward is in trouble. The devilishly handsome part-owner of her beloved Caribbean sugar plantation has arrived, and clearly he doesn't trust her. But his eyes promise pleasures she can only imagine. Maybe there's a way to get him onside…

Ren Dryden may be fresh off the boat from London, but he knows when a woman is playing him—and when she's as intriguing as the alluring Emma, he's more than happy to play back! But several sultry nights and secrets shared later, Ren realizes just how high the stakes are in this game of seduction!

Scott tends to work in the Regency and early Victorian periods, but has a knack for infusing a little “unusual” into her work. Her Ladies of Impropriety series featured one heroine running the family shipping business and another heroine who was a billiards protégé! This latest release is the first in her Rakes of the Caribbean series and takes place in Barbados.

[We'll catch a tan while we time travel...]

Mon
Nov 17 2014 4:15pm

Bountiful Harvest: Not-Your-Usual Historicals for November 2014

As winter not-so-slowly begins creeping up on many of us, this is typically the time of year that the publishing industry slows down a bit. Most, if not all, the holiday reads were dumped on the shelves in October and we’re all looking ahead to the New Year and the bounty that spring releases always promise. And yet here we are in November with a very intriguing, and diverse, crop of unusual historicals.

1920s!
The Fire of Home by Alexis Harrington

A scandalous homecoming

When Amy Layton’s family learned she planned to steal her sister’s fiancé, Amy left home in disgrace. But in 1922, she returns to Powell Springs to escape the violent man she married. Despite the town’s gossip, Amy is determined to rebuild her shattered life with the boardinghouse she inherited…and little else.

A terrible secret

Deputy sheriff Baxter Duncan senses there’s more to Amy, his new landlady, than the rumors claim. Yet Bax respects her privacy. After all, a painful secret haunts him, too. And now that he’s found a future in Powell Springs, he refuses to let his dark and wretched past destroy everything he’s built.

A redemptive journey

As Amy struggles to make amends with her family, she finds a kindred spirit in Bax. But just as they begin to trust each other, a new visitor arrives in town—and this person knows enough to ruin them both. After so much pain, can Amy and Bax still fight for their dreams…and win?

A fan favorite among many Americana and western readers, Harrington had a bit of a publishing drought in the mid-2000s until Amazon Montlake had the good sense to snap her up with 2010’s Home By Morning. The Fire of Home is the third book in her Powell Springs series.

[We'll get caught up!]

Thu
Oct 23 2014 4:30pm

First Look: RaeAnne Thayne’s Snow Angel Cove (October 28, 2014)

Snow Angel Cove by RaeAnne ThayneRaeAnne Thayne
Snow Angel Cove
HQN / October 28, 2014 / $7.99 print, digital

Nothing short of a miracle can restore Eliza Hayward's Christmas cheer. The job she pinned her dreams on has gone up in smoke—literally—and now she's stuck in an unfamiliar, if breathtaking, small town. Precariously close to being destitute, Eliza needs a hero, but she's not expecting one who almost runs her down with his car!

Rescuing Eliza is pure instinct for tech genius Aidan Caine. At first, putting the renovation of his lakeside guest lodge in Eliza's hands assuages his guilt—until he sees how quickly he could fall for her. Having focused solely on his business for years, he never knew what his life was missing before Eliza, but now he's willing to risk his heart on a yuletide romance that could lead to forever.

It was during my reading of RaeAnne Thayne's Snow Angel Cove that I had an epiphany. I get it. I finally get why small town contemporary romances are such a big deal. I understand now why they are so insanely popular and new small town-set series seem to hit the shelves every other week. It’s the comfort factor. The Calgon-Take-Me-Away feeling that reading stories like this one can induce. You know what reading Snow Angel Cove reminded me of? Those cozy made-for-TV holiday movies that begin to overrun The Hallmark Channel after Thanksgiving.

[No turkeys here!]

Thu
Oct 16 2014 3:00pm

Brain Candy: Not-Your-Usual Historicals for October 2014

Jazz Baby by Tea CooperTrick or treat, new historicals cannot be beat! In between watching the leaves turn, unpacking your warm winter clothes, sipping apple cider, and pilfering all the mini-Snickers bars from your kids’ Halloween candy haul, why not check out some of the new not-your-usual historicals that are hitting retailers this month? Remember, costume and dress come in all sorts of styles, not just empire waist.

1920s!

Jazz Baby by Téa Cooper

Sydney is no place for the fainthearted – five shillings for a twist of snow, a woman for not much more, and a bullet if you look sideways at the wrong person.

Dolly Bowman is ready and willing to take on all the brash, bustling city has to offer. After all it is the 1920s, a time for a girl to become a woman and fulfil her dreams. Turning her back on her childhood, she takes up a position working as a housemaid while she searches for her future.

World War I flying ace Jack Dalton knows he’s luckier than most. He’s survived the war with barely a scratch, a couple of astute business decisions have paid off, and he’s set for the high life.

But a glimpse of a girl that he had forgotten, from a place he’s tried to escape suddenly sets all his plans awry. Try as he might he can’t shake the past, and money isn’t enough to pay the debts he’s incurred.

Cooper writes for Escape Publishing, a digital imprint with Harlequin’s Australia. Known for her historicals set in Australia, she continues to diversify, having set stories in rural locales and this time out, the bustling city of Sydney.

[You lead, we'll follow...]

Thu
Oct 2 2014 9:30am

First Look: Sarah M. Anderson’s Tempted by a Cowboy (October 7, 2014)

Tempted by a Cowboy by Sarah M. AndersonSarah M. Anderson
Tempted by a Cowboy (Beaumont Heirs)
Harlequin Desire / October 7, 2014 / $5.25 print / $4.99 digital

How can she resist the cowboy's smile when it promises so much pleasure?

Phillip Beaumont likes his drinks strong and his women easy. So why is he flirting with his new horse trainer, Jo Spears, who challenges him at every turn? Phillip wants nothing but the chase…until the look in Jo's haunted hazel eyes makes him yearn for more….

Sure, Jo's boss is as jaded and stubborn as Sun, the multimillion-dollar stallion she was hired to train. But it isn't long before she starts spending days and nights with the sexy cowboy. Maybe Sun isn't the only male on the Beaumont ranch worth saving!

Given that I read a lot of it, I’m often asked what makes a good category romance. Oh sure, I could wax poetic for a while, give you a laundry list of do’s and don’ts—but the simple answer? I know it when I read it. Tempted by a Cowboy is the second book in Sarah M. Anderson’s series about a family-owned brewing dynasty (think Anheuser-Busch, right down to the horses) and it’s a “I know it when I read it” kind of story. The kind of story that runs a lot deeper than any back cover copy could hope to convey.

[We're tempted, too!]

Wed
Sep 24 2014 9:30am

Hitting the Books: Not-Your-Usual Historicals for September 2014

September means back to school time, and what better way to celebrate than with a bit of history that takes you off the beaten Almack’s path. The variety of settings is a welcome sight this month with a list that includes new voices and established veterans.

1920s!

Night of the Thousand Stars by Deanna Raybourn

On the verge of a stilted life as an aristocrat's wife, Poppy Hammond does the only sensible thing—she flees the chapel in her wedding gown. Assisted by the handsome curate who calls himself Sebastian Cantrip, she spirits away to her estranged father's quiet country village, pursued by the family she left in uproar. But when the dust of her broken engagement settles and Sebastian disappears under mysterious circumstances, Poppy discovers there is more to her hero than it seems.

With only her feisty lady's maid for company, Poppy secures employment and travels incognita—east across the seas, chasing a hunch and the whisper of clues. Danger abounds beneath the canopies of the silken city, and Poppy finds herself in the perilous sights of those who will stop at nothing to recover a fabled ancient treasure. Torn between allegiance to her kindly employer and a dashing, shadowy figure, Poppy will risk it all as she attempts to unravel a much larger plan—one that stretches to the very heart of the British government, and one that could endanger everything, and everyone, that she holds dear.

According to early review coverage, Raybourn brings in past characters to neatly tie this story to previous releases.

[Like sitting down with old friends...]

Tue
Sep 2 2014 4:30pm

First Look: Rosanne Bittner’s Desperate Hearts (September 2, 2014)

Desperate Hearts by Roseanne BittnerRosanne Bittner
Desperate Hearts
Sourcebooks / September 2, 2014 / $7.99 print & digital

SHE'S A WOMAN WITH A SECRET
Elizabeth Wainwright is on the run. Accused of a murder she didn't commit, she has no choice but to cut ties with her old life and flee West. The last thing she wants is attention, but when her stagecoach is attacked, she suddenly finds herself under the fierce protection of one of Montana's famed vigilantes...whether she likes it or not.
HE'S A MAN WITH A CODE
Lawman Mitch Brady is sworn to uphold justice in the wild lands of 1860's Montana. He's never met a man he's feared, and he's never met a woman more desperately in need of his help. Something's shaken the secretive Elizabeth, but as he gets to know the beautiful city belle, he finds the only thing he wants more than her safety...is her trust.

By this point we’re all aware, and will concede the fact, that small town contemporary romances have been a hot ticket for the last couple of years.  However, what hasn’t been discussed to quite the degree is that the trend has also been heavily influential on the historical western sub-genre.  Cutesy small towns with white picket fences, where the good townsfolk go to church every Sunday, where there are barn raisings, picnics, July 4th celebrations and a hunky town lawman who will inevitably fall in love with the spinster schoolmarm.  Nothing wrong with these sorts of westerns, per se, but God bless Rosanne Bittner for keeping it old school.  Bittner built her career writing lawless westerns.  Westerns set in dissolute areas where the local law consisted of a sturdy tree and a hangman’s noose.  Where the characters would go to church on Sunday assuming there was a church to go to and not six feet of snow outside the front door of their one-room cabin.

[Thank God for cramped quarters though, right?]

Sat
Aug 30 2014 1:30pm

Mad Dogs and Englishmen: Not-Your-Usual Historicals for August 2014

Slave Girl by Lisa CachHere in the States, August is the last month of freedom before the kids go back to school and the parents can celebrate a return to normalcy. It’s also the month where we all try to grab that last gasp of summertime fun before the weather turns cooler and we settle in for what we hope will not be a long, hard winter.

Why not fill your beach bag and/or your favorite digital content device with some tasty not-your-usual historical offerings? While there are a bumper crop of cowboys this month (yeehaw!), there’s still plenty of variety to tickle even the most fickle of fancies.

Ancient Rome!

Slave Girl by Lisa Cach

A sex slave who’s never been touched… National bestselling author Lisa Cach spins an erotic, passionate novel about a young Roman Empire slave who’s intended to become her king’s concubine—until a rugged barbarian prince takes her heart…and more.

Lovely Nimia is a slave to King Sygarius, who’s grooming her to be his consort as soon as she reaches full womanhood. And that time is very close. Nimia is forced to attend shocking lessons in the erotic arts; lessons that leave her body aroused and her mind conflicted. Because while she’s attracted to Sygarius’s power and eroticism, her spirit rebels at being his slave.

Then one of Sygarius’s allies comes to visit. Smart and ambitious, Clovis burns to take over Sygarius’s kingdom—and the beautiful Nimia. And though her virginity is meant for Sygarius, Clovis takes it with her enthusiastic consent.

When Sygarius learns that she is no longer a virgin, Nimia flees for her life. But can she find Clovis before the wrath of Sygarius—and imminent death—finds her first?

[+More new and unusual historicals...]