<i>The Shattered Court</i>: Exclusive Excerpt The Shattered Court: Exclusive Excerpt M.J. Scott "She will serve her lord by practicing the tamer magics of the earth..." <i>Broken Juliet</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Broken Juliet: Exclusive Excerpt Leisa Rayven "He touches my hand, then traces down my wrist and over my forearm." <i>Court of Thorns and Roses</i>: Excerpt Court of Thorns and Roses: Excerpt Sarah J. Maas "He said my name like a caress, and his hot breath tickled my ear." <i>The Memory Painter</i>: Excerpt The Memory Painter: Excerpt Gwendolyn Womack "With their bodies pressed together, he couldn’t think, much less talk."
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Showing posts by: Wendy the Super Librarian click to see Wendy the Super Librarian's profile
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.


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?...]

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...]

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.


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...]

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...]

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?


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!]

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...]

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.

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!]

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!]

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.


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...]

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!]

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.


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...]

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

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.
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?]

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...]

Jul 16 2014 4:45pm

With a Bang! Not Your Usual Historicals for July 2014

Erin's Gift by Nancy FraserHere in the States, July means summer vacations, barbeques, July 4th fireworks and soaking up the sun. This month’s crop of not-your-usual historicals certainly gives historical romance fans plenty of options for time traveling while lounging on the beach or by the pool. Whether you want to escape the Regency ballroom in favor of Egypt or India, or fall in love against the backdrop of World War I, July offers a little something for everybody.


Erin’s Gift by Nancy Fraser
Prohibition Era, Chicago

Caught in a raid at an illegal speakeasy, good girl Erin O’Mara loses everything: her job, her home, and her reputation. Handsome and so out of her league attorney Seth Harrison, her best friend’s brother, rescues her not once, but twice. He bails her out of jail and offers her a job as nanny for his son. Seth has no intention of falling in love after the death of his wife. But despite his better judgment, he can’t help being drawn to Erin’s innocence. This Christmas, letting go of the past and embracing the future may be the greatest present of all.

Originally published in last year’s multi-author anthology A Very Scandalous Holiday, Erin’s Gift is now available for purchase as a stand-alone novella. At the time of this posting, it was also free at various digital retail outlets.

[Oh, unusual and cost-effective?]

Jun 30 2014 4:30pm

First Look: Jami Davenport’s Time of Possession (June 30, 2014)

Jami Davenport
Time of Possession (Seattle Lumberjacks)
Boroughs Publishing Group / June 30, 2014

Supposedly undersized for the NFL, Brett Gunnels went off to do a stint in the US Army right out of high school. Returning damaged yet stronger and more determined than ever to prove himself, he was picked last in the draft. Mr. Irrelevant, they called him. The last few years as a backup quarterback have given him no opportunity to compete for the starting job. That’s why he has a chip on his shoulder the size of Puget Sound.

Estelle Harris is engaged to a man she doesn't love, working a job she hates, and fooling everyone including herself in the process. Her love of animals is the only thing that gives her purpose—a love she shares the Lumberjacks’ reclusive quarterback. And then their mutual friendship turns a hot, dark, forbidden corner and there's no going back.

In 1993, fighting for a chance to go to the playoffs, the Buffalo Bills found themselves losing to the Houston Oilers 35-3 at halftime. Not only was star quarterback, Jim Kelly, on the sidelines with an injury, but Buffalo’s star running back and linebacker were also out of the game. Needless to say, the stadium didn’t sell out that day, the game was blacked out locally, and Buffalo’s bid for another bite at the elusive Super Bowl apple seemed doomed. Back-up quarterback, Frank Reich, didn’t get the memo, however, so when the dust settled, Buffalo won the game 41-38, earning their way into the playoffs. Frank Reich is a legend in western New York, and the story of that comeback game is one for the ages. Frank Reich probably hasn’t paid for a meal in Buffalo for the last 20 years and now he’s a romance hero—I’m not sure if Jami Davenport considered this real life game when plotting the romance for Lumberjack’s back-up quarterback, Brett Gunnels, but the similarities are certainly there.

[Is there a tight end involved?]

Jun 11 2014 4:30pm

Colorful Bouquet: Not-Your-Usual Historicals for June 2014

The Right Wife by Beverly BartonI love compiling these lists of unusual historicals every month because I never know exactly what I’m going to find. Some months are slower, and others, like June, seem to offer a little bit of everything. This month covers a gamut, from late-19th-century Alabama to Henry VIII!


The Right Wife by Beverly Barton

1885. All of Margaret Campbell's hopes for the future lie in Tuscumbia, Alabama. Since the death of her sharecropper father, eighteen-year-old Maggie has no resources and few allies, aside from the relatives who've agreed to take her in. With luck, she might yet make an upright gentleman of her brother, and a real lady of her rebellious little sister. And perhaps, once her siblings are settled, she'll find a decent, hardworking man to marry. But those plans are jeopardized the moment she meets Aaron Stone.

Effortlessly charming, Aaron is building an empire in the South. Maggie knows he wants the right kind of wife to overcome the shadows surrounding his birth—someone like the well-connected widow he's been courting. Someone a million miles from a penniless, outspoken sharecropper's daughter. But neither jealousy, family secrets, nor long-held prejudices will keep Maggie from following her heart. . .

[+More new and unusual historicals...]

May 17 2014 12:00pm

May We Interest You in Some Historicals? May 2014 Not-Your-Usual Historicals Recommendations

No Place for an Angel by Gail WhitikerSpring has sprung and as all manner of flowers begin to bloom so do a variety of unusual historicals this merry month of May. Heroines that are actresses, mail-order brides, brothel madams, and World War I nurses provide an interesting bouquet of romantic possibilities!

England, With a Twist!

Actress Heroine!

No Place for an Angel by Gail Whitiker

“I am not an angel: only a fallen woman forced to turn to the stage.”

In the eyes of society, famous actress Catherine Jones is the virginal Angel of London. Her spotless reputation is essential if she's ever to get her son back from his overbearing grandparents. But her secret desire for the dashing Lord Valbourg could threaten to destroy everything she's worked so hard for….

The moment he hears Catherine sing, Valbourg is intoxicated. As guardian for his newly orphaned nephew, a dalliance with an actress is out of the question. With so much at risk, can these two burdened hearts find happiness in each other's arms?

[So, what's the next act...?]

May 15 2014 9:30am

First Look: Amara Royce’s Always a Stranger (May 15, 2014)

Amara Royce
Always a Stranger
eKensington / May 15, 2014 / $15.00 print / $4.99 digital

An international affair, London's Great Exhibition has taken the city by storm. As its newest Royal Commissioner, Lord Skyler Ridgemont must ensure the performers are properly contracted. Among them is the delicate and graceful Hanako Sumaki. Draped in vivid silk robes, Hanako's exotic Japanese fan dance captivates Skyler-and he longs to learn more about her...

But Hanako's enigmatic employer keeps his exquisite charge very close. The consummate artist, she shows the handsome nobleman many faces, but never her true heart, which holds a desperate secret. When Skyler learns the real reason Hanako has been brought to London, he will risk his entire world to win her trust-and save her from losing both body and soul. It's a feat that will require the type of courage only love can give...

All genre fiction, by its very definition, relies on some sort of formula. Killers are caught, quests are accomplished, and couples live happily ever after. What makes genre fiction truly interesting is when an author can take these formulas and spin them around unconventional characters. There is nothing quite like an outsider, a character who does not quite fit in to any niche, breaking free and being the champion in their own story.

[Outsiders make great heroines!]

May 1 2014 9:30am

First Look: Deeanne Gist’s Fair Play (May 6, 2014)

Fair Play by Deeanne GistDeanne Gist
Fair Play
Howard / May 6, 2014 / $15.99 print & $11.99 digital

Saddled with a man’s name, the captivating Billy Jack Tate makes no apologies for taking on a man’s profession. As a doctor at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, she is one step closer to having her very own medical practice—until Hunter Scott asks her to give it all up to become his wife.

Hunter is one of the elite. A Texas Ranger and World’s Fair guard specifically chosen for his height, physique, character, and skill. Hailed as the toughest man west of any place east, he has no patience for big cities and women who think they belong anywhere but home…

Despite their difference of opinion on the role of women, Hunter and Billy find a growing attraction between them—until Hunter discovers an abandoned baby in the corner of a White City exhibit. He and Billy team up to make sure this foundling isn’t left in the slums of Chicago with only the flea-riddled, garbage-infested streets for a playground. As they fight for the underprivileged children in the Nineteenth Ward, an entire Playground Movement is birthed. But when the Fair comes to an end, one of them will have to give up their dream.

Will Billy exchange her doctor’s shingle for the domesticated role of a southern wife, or will Hunter abandon the wide open spaces of home for a life in the “gray city,” a woman who insists on being the wage earner, and a group of ragamuffins who need more than a playground for breathing space?

I like my romance reading to feature all the colors of the sensuality rainbow. I’ve been known to read a sizzling hot erotic romance only to turn around and make my next read be something gentle and sweet, where the hero’s hands do not stray below the heroine’s shoulders. Inspirational romance scratches two itches for me, neither of which have anything to do with God or religion. First, I like reading a gentler story on occasion and two, inspirational historical romance features some dynamite history. Deeanne Gist has written about heroines who are telephone operators, ladies maids, and now with her new novel, Fair Play, she gives us a woman doctor trying to start her own practice, set against the backdrop of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.

[All's Fair in love?...]

Apr 4 2014 9:30am

April Showers: Not-Your-Usual-Historicals for April 2014

It Had to Be You by Delynn RoyerAs the longest, coldest winter in recent memory emits a last gasp, we welcome April with a spring in our step and a song in our hearts. A new crop of not-usual historicals bloom this month, offering readers some interesting variety. A plucky girl reporter, a passion that nearly consumes Salem, Massachusetts, and a bookseller hero to make us swoon are just a few of the intriguing offerings.

The Roaring '20s!

It Had to Be You by Delynn Royer

New York City, 1924

Determined to pursue her dream of becoming a crime reporter, heiress Trixie Frank believes she's off to a running start when she lands a job at the most successful tabloid in Manhattan. Unfortunately, her high hopes fade fast when she's assigned to the rewrite desk.

Sean Costigan is a demoted homicide detective on the commissioner's blacklist. The last thing he needs complicating his life is a perky debutante with delusions of becoming the next great American journalist. Too bad she happens to hold one of the keys to solving his latest case, the Central Park murder of a notorious gangster. The other key? Sean's childhood sweetheart, the victim's widow, who has gone missing.

Sean soon has more trouble with dames than any good man deserves. But that's the least of his worries. When he suspects deadly corruption within his own department, it's not just his and Trixie's careers that depend on finding the killer. It's their lives.

[Outside of the box is where these books live...]