<i>Infamous</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Infamous: Exclusive Excerpt Jenny Holiday "Hunter is all Jesse can think about..." <i>Courtly Pleasures</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Courtly Pleasures: Exclusive Excerpt Erin Kane Spock "Can they create a second chance at love before it’s too late?" <i>Roomies</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Roomies: Exclusive Excerpt Christina Lauren "Will Holland and Calvin to realize that they both stopped pretending a long time ago?" <i>A Duke in Shining Armor</i>: Exclusive Excerpt A Duke in Shining Armor: Exclusive Excerpt Loretta Chase "So why does Olympia have to make it so deliciously difficult for him...?"
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Showing posts by: Robin Bradford click to see Robin Bradford's profile
Jun 15 2014 2:00pm

First Look: Alexis Hall’s Shadows and Dreams (June 16, 2014)

Shadows and Dreams by Alexis HallAlexis Hall
Shadows and Dreams (Kate Kane #2)
Riptide / June 16, 2014 / $16.99, print

My name's Kate Kane. And right now, I don't know which is more dangerous: my job, or my girlfriend. My job makes me the go-to girl for every supernatural mystery in London. My girlfriend's an eight-hundred-year-old vampire prince. Honestly, I think it's probably a tie.

A few weeks ago, I was hired for a simple missing person case. Next thing I know, I'm being arrested for murder, a vampire army is tearing up London, and even my dreams are out to get me. Something ancient, evil, and scary as hell is on the loose and looking for payback. The vampires are in chaos, the werewolves are culling everything, and the Witch Queen can't protect everyone.
Which means it's down to me. And all I've got to hold back the shadows is a stiff drink, a quirky sidekick, my creepy ex-boyfriend, and the woman who left me for a tech startup. It's going to be another interesting day.

Shadows and Dreams is the second book in Alexis Hall's Kate Kane, paranormal investigator, series. Kate has, as you may know, a love life that is more complicated than a Gordian knot, but she manages to keep the entire ordeal spinning, as she tries to keep London from ruin and different supernatural factions from getting killed and/or killing each other.

[Pretty hard to balance all that...]

May 20 2014 12:00pm

Keeping Secrets and Falling in Love in Brenda Jackson’s Secret Love

Secret Love by Brenda JacksonSecret Love, by Brenda Jackson, is almost two books in one. It starts off with Jacob Madaris getting a phone call in the middle of the night from his best friend, Sterling, who tells him he is sending his wife home to him on the private jet because she had just been attacked in her home. But, before you can get to the bottom of that mystery, Jackson takes the reader back to the beginning to let the Jacob and Diamond saga unfold. It’s an interesting trick that I haven’t seen many books pull off successfully, but this one does…almost. The only problem is trying to tell two stories means one gets a little shortchanged.

In this instance, when Jackson comes back to the current story, many of the plot points are underdeveloped, and big leaps are made to get everything all tied up at the end of the book. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Jacob Madaris is in charge of the family ranch and is doing a damn good job of making it run. He’s divorced, his wife having been completely incompatible with his lifestyle, and determined not to make that mistake again. He and his friend Sterling have a friendly wager, which Jacob loses. To pay off the debt, he has to agree to let Sterling’s actress friend, Diamond Swain, enjoy three weeks of rest and relaxation on the ranch. Jacob, of course, is reluctant. The last thing he needs is some starlet causing a ruckus on the ranch.

[Except that's not her at all...]

May 6 2014 10:00am

Claiming the Bachelor in Brenda Jackson’s Bachelor Unclaimed

Bachelor Unclaimed by Brenda JacksonWhat do you get when you cross an ex-journalist, and failed politician with a marine biologist? A heck of an entertaining book! In Bachelor Unclaimed, by Brenda Jackson, Ainsley St. James was off on one of South Carolina’s islands, licking her wounds after being defeated for mayor of a New Jersey town her ancestor had founded. She was a native daughter, knew everyone, a great candidate…she’d thought she had it in the bag! So much so that she’d quit her job at the New York Times because she was that sure she was going to win the election. And then, she didn’t win the election.

Lies and dirty politics sealed her fate, and she finds herself at loose ends. She meets Winston Coletrane in a bar, they share a dance—and a bed—and then she runs away the next morning while he’s in the shower. As she is attempting to get her job back, her ex-boss gives her a damn near impossible assignment: get an interview with the elusive scientist who has developed a new drug on the cusp of being a breakout product. The scientist doesn’t give interviews. Ever. As luck (bad or good, depending on your perspective) would have it, the scientist she’s chasing happens to be her one-night stand.

[Wouldn't have it any other way...]

Apr 30 2014 10:00am

First Look: Julie Ann Walker’s Hell for Leather (May 6, 2014)

Hell for Leather by Julie Ann WalkerJulie Ann Walker
Hell for Leather (Black Knights Inc.)
Sourcebooks Casablanca / May 6, 2014 / $7.99 print & digital

Only a crisis could persuade Delilah Fairchild to abandon her beloved biker bar, let alone ask Black Knights Inc. operator Bryan “Mac” McMillan for help. But her uncle has vanished into thin air, and sexy, surly Mac has the connections to help her find him. What the big, blue-eyed Texan has against her is a mystery... but when the bullets start to fly, Mac becomes her only hope of survival, and her only chance of finding her uncle alive.

Mac knows a thing or two about beautiful women- mainly that they can't be trusted. Throw in a ticking clock, a deadly homegrown terrorist, and some missing nuclear weapons, and a man just might find himself on the wrong end of the gun. But facing down danger with Delilah is one passion-filled thrill ride...

It's hard to be believe it’s been almost a year and a half since I reviewed the first book in this series, Hell on Wheels, for H&H. While I have liked all the books in the series, none of them have been overtake the love I had (and still have) for that first book. Hell for Leather, the sixth book in Julie Ann Walker's Black Knights Inc. series, comes the closest so far of capturing the first book's magic.

[Hell yes!...]

Feb 12 2014 2:15pm

Two Halves of a Whole: M. Pierce’s Night Owl

“I lied to Hannah about the picture. I lied to her about a lot of things.”

With this warning, M. Pierce lures you into the story of Matt and Hannah. To be honest, both characters had moments, long moments, where they were very unappealing to me as a reader; Matt, at the beginning, and then Hannah, later on in the story. And, while we’re going for full disclosure, Matt’s situation at the beginning of the book (one of his many lies) will turn off a certain percentage of readers. Not every story is for every person. There are some things characters do that readers can’t overlook. Yes, I had my problems with the book. But, even with these two big caveats, the characters and the story grew on me.

This book was really a tale of two halves. The first half is a whirlwind of a romance. Matt and Hannah start off as writing collaborators, and turn quickly into a long distance email and phone flirtation. In the world of online dating, this probably won’t be an uncommon scenario to many readers. The jump from long distance to same town is so fast you’d think there was a warp drive or a tardis helping things along. Instead, it is one of those coincidences that you just have to set aside if you’re going to keep reading. If you’re used to books with a long, slow buildup, this will be quite a new experience. The first hookup is in the car, in front of her parent’s house. And, to be honest, it is hot. Very, very hot.

[And we do like it hot...]

Aug 6 2013 3:30pm

First Look: Stacia Kane’s Wrong Ways Down (August 6, 2013)

Wrong Ways Down by Stacia KaneStacia Kane
Wrong Ways Down
4/13 Publishing / August 6, 2013 / $3.99 digital

It’s a thin line between right and wrong. It’s an even thinner one between wrong and dead…

Terrible has always been on the wrong side of the law, living up to the only name anyone ever gave him. As the chief enforcer for Downside’s most powerful criminal, it’s his job to collect debts and protection money by any means necessary. And he’s very good at his job.

But part of that job is also to keep Bump’s various employees safe. So when a street dealer is found dead and a prostitute is brutally attacked, Terrible immediately starts using his fists to hunt down the ones responsible.

He’s determined to find and destroy them. They’re determined to use his desire for the woman he secretly loves to break him.

Whenever I pick up a Stacia Kane book, I know, without a doubt, that the atmosphere of the book will come off the page.  So, when I heard she was writing a novella, I wondered if she would be able to pack Downside into fewer pages. I needn’t have worried.  If anything, the darkness and desperation of Downside were more concentrated in the limited number of pages.

“A dame stepped forward, her skin as pale as Slick’s from cold and lack of sun. Terrible ain’t felt the cold much neither—and even if he did he wouldn’t have showed it—but he couldn’t imagine how that dame weren’t shivering so hard she could barely stand. Barely dressed at all, she was, just wrapped inna dirty blanket scrap with holes for her arms, tied around her waist with a blue ribbon. Bright blue, only barely smudged with dirt. Like she tried keeping it clean and nice, tried making herself pretty the only way she could. Something about it made sadness echo in his chest.”

[More Terrible, please!...]

Mar 28 2013 11:00am

First Look: Julie Ann Walker’s Thrill Ride (April 2, 2013)

Thrill Ride by Julie Ann WalkerJulie Ann Walker
Thrill Ride
Sourcebooks Casablanca / April 2, 2013 / $7.99 print, $6.59 digital

Ex-navy SEAL Rock Babineaux is as Cajun as they come—spicy, sexy, and more than a bit wicked. But would he actually betray his country? Even his best friends on the special-ops Black Knights team aren't sure they can trust him. Now the target of a massive manhunt, Rock knows the only way to protect the team—especially his partner, Vanessa—is to run...

Rock might think he can outmaneuver them all, but he hasn't counted on how stubborn Vanessa Cordero can be. And she refuses to cut him loose. Sure, her partner has his secrets, but there's no one in the world she'd rather have by her side in a tight spot. Which is good because she and Rock are about to get very tight...

Julie Ann Walker’s Black Knights, Inc. series keeps its foot on the accelerator from the first book's opening pages, all the way through the end of Thrill Ride, the latest in the series. Just when you think you know the cast, you know the issues, and you can guess the outcome, the landscape tilts.

[Changing things up on you!...]

Dec 3 2012 2:00pm

Hell is Not For Children: Julie Ann Walker’s Hell On Wheels

Hell on Wheels by Julie Ann WalkerSo, two things happened when I read the prologue to Julie Ann Walker’s Hell on Wheels. First, I guessed the secret that was tormenting Nate—our stoic hero. Walker telegraphed that punch pretty strongly. Second, I learned that telegraphed punches take nothing away from general enjoyment of a book.  Those 10 pages were enough to get me hooked. The rest of the pages were enough to get me hooked on Walker's entire series. 

Hell on Wheels starts with Nate Weller making the death notification to the parents and baby sister of his best friend. He’s always had a thing for Ali, baby sister, but you know how that goes, right? Your best friend threatens to rip your arms off and beat you to death with them if you touch his sister…..sounds like a pretty important warning to heed, right? Nate keeps his distance. But, when it turns out she is being stalked, she runs to him for help, and finds out about the secret life he and her brother had been living. Ali is interested, definitely, but Nate has some pretty dark demons working on him. It’s a romance, so you know the ending will be satisfying. 

[Satisfaction guaranteed...]

May 30 2012 1:00pm

Nothing Personal: Adding Books to a Library Collection

The New York Public Library lion by Dave Newman newmanchuWe asked H&H blogger Robin Bradford to share secrets from her day job as a librarian, where she’s the one deciding what books are bought for her library.

When asked to do a column on how I decide what books to add to the library collection, the task seemed both easy (I do this 40 hours a week) and impossible. There are collection development policies, and patron requests, choice of formats and item availability. There are differing philosophies: classic collection vs. contemporary and fresh; fewer individual titles but lots of copies of popular books, vs. a deep collection with fewer copies of the same book; hardcover titles only vs. trade paper vs. mass market (regular or premium tall edition). Did I forget to mention audiobooks? (Digital or CD or MP3 or Playaway?) And if you’re at all interested in libraries, you know the ebook battle that’s been going on the past few years has been epic, with no signs of settling any time soon. When faced with trying to describe all of that in a blog post, I nearly cried. So, here is a basic overview of things I consider when deciding what to add to our collection.

[Something tells me it may boil down to...]

Feb 3 2012 3:00pm

Dying to Love You: Bad Boys in Romantic Suspense

Flashpoint by Suzanne BrockmannI like bad boys. I know lots of people say that, and it can mean many different things. The term “bad boy” is almost used so much as to make the boys in question more ordinary than bad. I’ve talked about my ultimate bad boy prototype, Christopher Whitman (or Donatti, if you prefer) in this post over at Criminal Element. For me, the bad boy can’t get any better, or worse, than that.

But, there are few others who come close to meeting the requirement.

Bad Boys in books are usually damaged in some way. There is a big difference, though, between the naughty prankster who just needs a hug from a good woman, and a man who, often, does the wrong thing. On purpose. Repeatedly.

Jimmy Nash – The Bad Boy of Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooters, Inc series. Jimmy Nash is an assassin. No, wait, he performed “deletions” for The Agency. He’s hot, an expert flirt, so good at his job that he takes unreasonable chances just to make it more challenging. These chances often result in him getting dings, some of which require stitches and/or hospital stays. He never knew his father and his juvenile record culminates with him refusing to rat out a mob boss. Brockman has him describe himself, in the beginning of the book as “first cousin to the devil.” As usual, when you’re trying to make a suitable hero, Nash isn’t as bad as he makes himself out to be. That doesn’t mean he’s good, though. He has some heroic tendencies, some soft spots for widows and children, but that doesn’t stop him from sleeping with a woman he knows his partner is interested in.

[Nice guys finish last...]

Jun 3 2011 9:30am

Robbing the Romance Cradle: Why Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments Isn’t Your Typical YA Series

Lily Collins and Jamie Bower Campbell will play Clary and JaceI’m not Team Edward or Team Jacob, but I have a really hard time deciding between Teams Jem, Will, Jace, Alec, Simon, and now Kyle. Or heck, why not Team Isabelle or Clary?

I was never really a fan of YA lit. Or Teen lit, as we call it in our library, or whatever designation you choose to give it. I’m not a huge fan of teens in real life, so why would I want to spend any time reading about the 13-19 set? Little by little, though, suggestions started coming in for books that were REALLY GOOD despite the character age group. When someone suggested City of Bones, it was impossible to resist. It had everything I normally love in a book with the great worldbuilding, supernatural elements, secret societies, non-humans, super humans and, of course, action and, of course, love. Was I really going to let a little thing like teenagerism stand in the way? Of course not. But even though I expected to like it given what I’d heard, I had no idea I would find it consuming. These were books, at least in the case of City of Ashes and City of Glass, that I literally could not put down. I finished both of them over the course of a weekend.

(Editor’s Note: And as the film adaptation of The Mortal Instruments currently in the works proves, Robin’s far from the only adult hooked on this series. As with The Hunger Games movie, casting alone for The Mortal Instruments has already generated a lot of buzz (the two leads, it was recently announced will be Lily Collins of The Blind Side and Jamie Campbell Bower of the Twilight saga and television’s Camelot).

[What gives?...]

May 26 2011 9:30am

No Longer a Guilty Pleasure: Why I Don’t Read Laurell K. Hamilton

Narcissus in Chains by Laurell K. Hamilton“In fact, so much of the description is repeated, I think she has a macro for a lot of stuff. Like hit F3 every time you say 'Nathaniel' and 'violet eyes floor length auburn hair dancer only wearing shorts' just appears.“

Ahhhh, Laurell K. Hamilton. I remember when I first picked up Guilty Pleasures, which was my senior year of college. I read the first three books back to back;  I hadn’t seen anything like it, and I loved everything about it. I loved the urban Midwestern landscape, the kick-ass heroine, the sexy and mysterious (yet strangely settled in the Midwest?) vampire, it was all good.  For me, it was all good until around October 2001, which was when Narcissus in Chains came out.

[What went wrong?...]

May 12 2011 4:06pm

Blast Off: Delving into the Nora Roberts Canon

Midnight Bayou by Nora RobertsHave you read every book by Nora Roberts? (A quick Google query of “how many books has Nora Roberts written?” returns with more than 200...and obviously counting!). If you have read them all, my hat is off to you, because that is seriously impressive.

I, for one, have just barely scraped the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Nora Roberts books. And while I've enjoyed nearly all the Roberts books that I’ve read, there are some that draw me back for repeated enjoyment.

Midnight Bayou

Who doesn’t love a good ghost story? Quite honestly, the first time I read this book, parts of it scared the heck out of me. Not that the book is particularly scary, but sometimes my imagination doesn’t need much to be led down frightening paths: Murdered wives, cursed and/or haunted houses, ghosts with an agenda? Yeah, that can freak me out. I could just imagine being in that house, alone, with rooms I was too afraid to enter. Doors opening and closing, water running, and the “cold chill” factor only increase the likelihood that I wouldn’t have made it past the first night. For me, the ghost story was the star of this show, even though I did enjoy the romance between Declan and Lena. There were times when she got on my very last nerve with her stubbornness.  I never really felt like she had a reason for behaving the way she did. But the rest of the book was so compelling, however, it overcame my usual heroine problem. As a person who has only been a visitor to New Orleans, I can’t say if Roberts truly captured the feel of someone living in the place. It felt like what I saw there as a visitor, though. One of my favorites.

[Don't get too comfy in the Big Easy—Roberts takes you all over...]

Apr 16 2011 2:00pm

The Women in Game of Thrones: Arya and Sansa Stark









Like Winter, spoilers are coming...!

'So if you hate, Arya, hate those who would truly do us harm. Septa Mordane is a good woman, and Sansa…Sansa is your sister. You may be as different as the sun and the moon, but the same blood flows through both your hearts. You need her, as she needs you…and I need both of you, gods help me.'

[We're all friendlies, so let's just...be friendly!...]

Apr 14 2011 5:00pm

The Women in Game of Thrones: Cersei Lannister

Cersei LannisterBeware: This post has as many spoilers as Cersei has men thinking she's gorgeous...

Cersei Lannister from George R.R. Martin's A Game Of Thrones is a strong, beautiful, powerful woman who will do anything to—well, she'll do anything.

This Sunday, HBO premieres its Game Of Thrones miniseries, and Cersei's actions and motivations inspire much of the plot. Her diabolicalness is legend (for readers of the books, at least), and it's not until the fourth book in the series, A Feast For Crows, that we actually get events told from her point of view.

His lord father had come first, escorting the queen. She was as beautiful as men said. A jeweled tiara gleamed amidst her long golden hair, its emeralds a perfect match for her eyes. His father helped her up the steps to the dais and led her to her seat, but the queen never so much as looked at him. Even at fourteen, Jon could see through her smile.

[Clearly you don't want to get on her bad side...]

Apr 9 2011 11:00am

Going Back for Seconds: Exes in Romance

Red Wine and Her Sexy Ex by Kate HardyTropes. Archetypes. Recurring plots. Whatever you call them, they are embedded in our culture. 

Genre fiction, as a whole, is criticized for using and re-using these patterns, but they are found in literary fiction as well. They are definitely found in TV and movies, and even in the dominant and minor chords that run through music. They’re in the blurbs on the backs of books and sometimes even reflected in the title and the covers. All of that is designed to let readers know that their favorite, heavily worn, storyline is back.

[Now it's the Same. Old. Song. But with a different meaning since you've been gone...]

Apr 7 2011 12:00pm

The Women in Game of Thrones: Daenerys Stormborn Targaryen

Daenerys TargaryenWhy would romance readers be interested in George R.R. Martin's fantasy saga A Song of Ice and Fire? Because George R.R. Martin's series is full of relationships, and there's nothing romance readers like better than that, is there? The loyalty or treachery associated with each of myriad relationships propels every action occuring within the pages—and will soon do the same on the small screen (for an in-depth read of the books themselves, visit our sister site, Tor.com, for their Game of Thrones series). HBO debuts its miniseries version of George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones on April 17th, and so we point the H&H spotlight on Daenerys Stormborn Targaryen, the woman who considers herself the rightful ruler of Westeros.

(The following post contains spoilers for Book 1, A Game of Thrones.)

'You are the one who forgets himself,' Dany said to [Viserys]. 'Didn’t you learn anything that day in the grass? Leave me now, before I summon khas to drag you out. And pray that Khal Drogo does not hear of this, or he will cut open your belly and feed you your own entrails.'

Daenerys Stormborn Targaryen is, in many ways, a traditional heroine whose story has been told many different times. A young woman, from a difficult family situation, who finds herself married to an older stranger. Many a historical romance has started out in similar fashion.

[I sense a “but” looming...]

Apr 4 2011 9:00am

The Women in Game of Thrones: Catelyn Stark

Catelyn Stark in Game of ThronesNo, Game Of Thrones is not a romance. Not in the traditional sense, certainly. But hear me out: George R.R. Martin's series is full of relationships, and the loyalty or treachery associated with each of them propels each and every action occuring within the pages—and will soon do the same on the small screen (for an in-depth read of the books themselves, visit our sister site, Tor.com, for their Game of Thrones series). HBO debuts its miniseries version of George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones on April 17th (and they showed a 15-minute preview last night!), and this seemed like the perfect time to take a look at the women behind the Thrones, so to speak, starting with the driving matriarch of the series, Catelyn Stark.

[Winter is coming...]

Feb 28 2011 5:00pm

Fated to Be Mated: Then, What’s The Point?

Fate as the unseen, driving force bringing two people together is not an idea that is unique to the romance genre. In fact, you’re just as, if not more, likely to find it in fantasy writing. Whenever there is a “quest” and/or a “prophecy” there is likely to be some sort of fated pairing. It’s an archetype that can be endlessly molded, formed . . . massaged even, to fit the circumstances of the story. Yes, it can also be a huge concrete wall as well. After all, if a character is meant to be only with one certain person, and it was preordained, and if it doesn’t happen the world will end—well, you don’t have much wiggle room in that, do you?

[I'll dare the fickle finger of Fate . . . ]

Feb 21 2011 2:00pm

She Ain’t Heavy, She’s My Wife: Overweight Heroines in Romance Novels

She Ain’t Heavy, She’s My Wife

 homage to my hips

by Lucille Clifton

these hips are big hips
they need space to
move around in.
they don't fit into little
petty places. these hips
are free hips.
they don't like to be held back.
these hips have never been enslaved,
they go where they want to go
they do what they want to do.
these hips are mighty hips.
these hips are magic hips.
i have known them
to put a spell on a man and
spin him like a top!

The controversy about the TV show Mike and Molly gave me cause to go back and reread two of my favorite books, which happen to both feature heroines who are anything but svelte.  The Los Angeles Times ran an article in March 2009 about “Fashion’s Invisible Woman" that describes the average U.S. woman as a size 14. In fashion, this means you are invisible, but the invisibility doesn’t just end there; on TV, in music videos, and also in fiction, you are there, but not there. You can be the friend of a beautiful person, the sibling (always jealous) of a beautiful person, but not the main attraction. As usual, before the tide started to turn on TV, it had already shifted in books.

[Romances rock 'cause they celebrate the large woman! . . .]