Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Review - - Brotherhood in Death

Review -- Brotherhood in Death
Brotherhood in Death
By J.D. Robb
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: February 2, 2016

As the In Death series progresses, Eve Dallas’s circle of friends widens, a development that often baffles her.  It’s great for the series, however, because it gives the author more characters to explore.  Brotherhood in Death begins with one of Eve Dallas’s favorite characters in trouble.  Dennis Mira, husband of NYPSD profiler Dr. Charlotte Mira, went to meet his cousin at their grandparents’ house.  He walked into a room, and saw his cousin Edward seated in the desk chair, which was in the center of the room, and bleeding in the instant before someone hit Dennis in the head. When he came to, his cousin was gone, and the chair was back where it belonged.

Eve learns about the case when Charlotte Mira asks her for help.  Eve soon deduces that Edward Mira has been kidnapped. As she digs into his life, she comes to believe that his disappearance is a result of old wrongs back at him.  Other longtime friends of his also become victims, and Eve realizes that the youthful crimes she believed Edward Mira committed were much worse and spread much farther than she first suspected.

One of the pleasures of reading a long-running series is seeing the various characters evolve.  Eve and Roarke have mostly made peace with their pasts and their different views of what’s acceptable in an investigation.  Peabody and McNab found each other.  Brotherhood in Death follows up with Nadine Furst’s reaction to the events of Obsession in Death and marks an important step for Officer Troy Trueheart.

Although Eve has mostly laid the ghosts of her past to rest, aspects of this investigation revive them.  Robb deserves credit for handling that part of the story in a way that shows Eve’s growth and layers texture into her relationships with other characters.

The suspense plot proceeds at a good pace and is lightened by touches of humor.  This is a satisfying installment in this best-selling series.

~Nancy Northcott

What do you enjoy about reading a series?

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Today's Special - Q&A with Kat Martin

New York Times bestselling author Kat Martin is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara where she majored in Anthropology and also studied History.   She is married to L.J. Martin, author of western, non-fiction, and suspense novels. 

Kat has written more than sixty-five novels.  Sixteen million copies of her books are in print and she has been published in twenty foreign countries, including Japan, France, Germany, Argentina, Greece, China, Russia, and Spain.

Born in Bakersfield, California, Kat currently resides in Missoula, Montana, on a small ranch in the beautiful Sapphire mountains. Her last 10 books have hit the prestigious New York Times bestseller list.  AGAINST THE WILD, AGAINST THE SKY, and AGAINST THE TIDE her latest release, took top ten spots.  

Visit Kat's website at

Welcome, Kat! Congratulations on the release of your new book. Please tell readers what they can expect from INTO THE FURY.
When Valentine Hart, one of La Belle lingerie’s top models, receives a death threat, it’s bodyguard Ethan Brodie’s job to protect her.  Throw in murder, mayhem, and copycat killers and you have INTO THE FURY.   It’s a fast-paced, action-packed romantic suspense I’m hoping readers will enjoy. 
What scene was the most fun to write?
There’s a lot of sexual tension between Ethan and Val because they are both trying to behave as professionals, which means no getting involved.   I loved writing the sex scene where the lid to the pressure cooker finally blows off--metaphorically speaking--and they just can’t resist the pull any longer.
What would you like readers to understand about Ethan and Val?
I think they both underestimate each other, initially.  It’s a growing, learning experience as they get to know and respect each other and slowly fall in love.
INTO THE FURY is the first book in your new BOSS, Inc. series.
What was the inspiration for this new series of books?
A question I often get is where do you get your story ideas?  I almost never know.  They  just sort of pop into my head and stick around until I begin to work them into a story.  So the answer is I have no idea!
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not busy writing books?
I write a LOT!  Mostly when I’m not writing I’m traveling, often to conferences and signings for work.  My husband and I try to enjoy the areas we go to.  I love great hotels and gormet meals…sooo it works pretty well.
You appear to enjoy travel. Do you have any fun trips planned for this year?
I’ll be in Belgium and Holland this year.  I’ll be in Wyoming, a great place to visit.  I’ll be in NYC, one of my fav cities, and San Diego for  RWA. 
What’s next?
Dirk Reynolds, Into the Whirlwind, will be out May 31.  I hadn’t planned to give Dirk a book, but he was so upset at the end of Fury I had to fix things for him.  Into the Whirlwind and Luke’s story, Into the Firestorm, turned out to be two of my all-time favorite books.
Thank you for visiting with us. Would you like to ask our readers a questions today?
Always interested to know what readers are reading.  What is your favorite romance genre?  

One randomly chosen person leaving a comment will receive a copy of INTO THE FURY. (U.S. only)


Monday, February 8, 2016

Review - - Keep on Loving You

Keep on Loving You
By Christie Ridgway
Publisher: Harlequin/HQN
Release Date: January 26, 2016

Christie Ridgway returns to Blue Arrow Lake, California, for the conclusion of her Cabin Fever series. All the Walker siblings except Mackenzie, the eldest daughter, have found their true loves and are in the midst of their HEAs. Mac is happy for her siblings, but all their bliss has her feeling lonely and a bit sorry for herself. Her house cleaning business is flourishing, and she enjoys a close relationship with her growing family. She has an established place in the closely knit mountain community where she has always lived, but none of this enough. Three broken engagements offer evidence that despite all Mac’s efforts she has been unable to really move on with her life in the decade since her first love, Zan Elliot, left her and Blue Arrow Lake and headed for a more adventurous life in a larger, bolder world.

After ten years away, much of it with a documentary crew filming in exotic locales, Zan Elliot has returned to Blue Arrow Lake to settle the estate of his wealthy grandfather. Zan is looking forward to reconnecting with the Walkers, the best part of his life after he was sent to live with his grandfather following the deaths of his parents and siblings in a plane crash. He is unprepared for the changes he finds in the small town, especially the cool reception he gets from some of the Walkers. The pessimistic, cautious Mac is certainly not the effervescent optimist with whom he fell in love. But however great the change or however adamant her claim that she is over him, it is clear to Zan that the chemistry between them is still explosive.

Zan’s return is strictly temporary. He plans to leave as soon as he completes all the business related to his grandfather’s estate, but in the meantime he devotes himself to winning Mac’s trust again. However, Mac is determined to guard her heart. The people of Blue Arrow Lake, even some of her own family, may believe in the legend of Mac and Zan as destined lovers, but Mac has not forgotten what it feels like to be the one left behind. And Zan is still the leaving kind.

Christie Ridgway is an author whose contemporary romances I generally enjoy, including the earlier Cabin Fever books, but I struggled with this one because I really disliked the hero. I understand that the losses he suffered at a young age left emotional scars, but heroes who have endured more have learned to be open and vulnerable. Zan never seems to learn this lesson. He also acts selfishly. Even the postcards he sends Mac while he is away seem a way of holding on to her after he has left her. He insists he is leaving soon but demonstrates no real understanding of why Mac is desperate to avoid renewing their relationship in light of his plans.

The reunion trope is my favorite, and so I began this book with high expectations. I did like Mac. She has known her share of heartbreak, but the love and responsibility she feels for her siblings are strong and keep her on track. As an eldest sister, I understood her. I applauded the way she responded to Zan’s return—still attracted to him but angry and wary and determined not to repeat a painful chapter in her life. I loved seeing the in-progress HEAs of the other Walkers, and I found the secondary romance interesting and touching. All of these elements kept the novel from being a total loss for me, but they were not enough to outweigh my dissatisfaction with the hero.

If you are a Ridgway fan who has liked the first three Cabin Fever books (Take My Breath Away, Make Me Lose Control, and Can’t Fight This Feeling), you will probably want to read this fourth book to feel that the series is finished, but if you are new to Ridgway, this is not her best work. I recommend her Christmas/New Year’s duo or her Three Kisses trilogy instead.


Friday, February 5, 2016

Review - - Will's True Wish

Will’s True Wish
By Grace Burrowes
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Release Date: February 2, 2016

Will Dorning may be heir to his elder brother’s earldom, at least for the present, but his primary roles are diligent caretaker and mentor to his brothers and trainer and friend to an array of canine companions. The Dornings are aristocrats, but it is widely known that the family coffers are not overflowing. Will has dreams of a future that will allow him to use his gifts as a dog whisperer to achieve financial stability that will make possible a life of his own, but first he feels bound by affection and duty to see his brothers settled.

Lady Susannah Haddonfield has accompanied her brother and sister-in-law to London for the debut of Della, her youngest sister. Susannah’s memories of her own first season are not happy, and she would prefer to avoid London. But knowing that her sister’s physical dissimilarities to all the other tall, blond Haddonfields may set the gossips buzzing, she sets aside her preferences to be by her sister’s side. One of the few bright memories of Susannah’s earlier time in London is of Will Dorning and his kindness. She has never forgotten that he became her champion when vicious ladies made her life miserable. When said sister is the unintended victim of an episode involving a suitor, a dog, and a young Dorning, Will Dorning reenters Susannah’s life.

The spark that was struck when Susannah and Will were younger reignites upon their renewed friendship, but given Will’s straitened finances and the family duties he insists are his, their future looks dismal. Nevertheless, once Susannah is sure of Will’s love, she remains hopeful. She is convinced that if Will captures the dognappers that are stealing the pets of London’s elite, their problems will be solved. Will is less certain, but he cannot ignore the plight of the poor dogs, some of whom he trained. Danger and dogs and high courage and resourceful family members will all play a part in guaranteeing these two their well-deserved HEA.

I’ve been falling in love with the characters Grace Burrowes creates since I first read The Heir in late 2010. Predictably, I adored both bookish Susannah and dog-loving Will. He may not share her love of Shakespeare, and she may be leery of his canine comrades, but they nevertheless have much in common. At heart, they are the same kind of people, and they both are devoted to their families.  Most readers will find them engaging and root for their happiness.

Another of the delights of reading a Burrowes historical is a fictional world where connections, loose and close, frequently abound. Susannah is the sister not only of Lady Nita Haddonfield (Tremaine’s True Love, True Gentleman 1) and Lady Kirsten Haddonfield (Daniel’s True Desire, True Gentleman 2) but also of Nicholas Haddonfield (Nicholas, Lonely Lords 2), and Will is the brother of Jacaranda, wife of  Worth Kettering (Worth, Lonely Lords 11). Jacaranda and Worth are secondary characters in Will’s True Wish. Burrowes provides a full cast of interesting secondary characters. Will’s relationship to the dogs he befriends is almost as important as his relationship to Susannah, and the dogs have distinctive personalities as well.

If you are looking for a romance filled with humor and charm, large, loving families, and endearing, frankly lusty heroes and heroines, you can’t do better than a Grace Burrowes book. I recommend Will’s True Wish, and don’t worry if you have not read the other books in the series. Despite the connections, this one can easily be read as a standalone.  As for me, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Burrowes is planning a Dorning Brothers series. I’d like to see more of Will’s brothers.


Thursday, February 4, 2016

Today's Special - - Anna Sugden

It may have taken Anna Sugden a while to reach her dream of being a romance writer but I'm so glad she never gave up. After careers in global marketing and teaching, Anna - a Brit - finally turned her total focus to writing when her husband's job took them to New Jersey in 2002. They returned to England in 2008 but Anna kept writing and in 2012 she sold her first book and the New Jersey Ice Cats were born. Anna's love of sports - especially hockey - shines through in her books. She also loves classic films, cross-stitch, good food, wine, penguins and, especially, great shoes! 

Welcome back, Anna! It’s always a treat when you bring us a new Ice Cats love story. Please tell our readers what they should expect from A Perfect Compromise

Thanks so much, PJ. It’s great to be here. I love being able to hang out with you and all the lovely
readers at the Romance Dish.

This is the fourth book in the series and it moves away slightly from the Badolettis and the Jelineks -- although not too much since JB is like an adopted son/brother -- to feature reader favourite Jean Baptiste Larocque.

This is a story about coping with the curveballs that life throws at you (I know, wrong sport ). For both JB and Issy, they have their sights set on certain goals and what should be a fun vacation fling really ends up causing major problems for them both! It’s also about the idea that love takes work and compromise.

J.B. has a lot of growing up to do in this book before he can move from Mr. Right Now to Mr. Right. What was the most difficult part of writing this character? What do you want readers to understand about him?

Getting the balance right. JB is a player, both on and off the ice. He doesn’t like responsibility or commitment and he’s happy with a free and easy life. But, at the same time, he’s not a bad or mean or selfish person. He’s charming, fun, loyal and well-intentioned. A genuine guy, an honest guy, whose heart is in the right place. Unfortunately, as we’ve seen in the other books, he gets caught up in bad situations. So, with all of that, it was important to ensure readers could see both the good and bad of JB.

J.B. and Issy are in two very different places in their lives when they first meet and must overcome some significant obstacles before they have a chance to make a relationship work. What is it about these two that convinced you they were meant to be together?

You know how sometimes you just know when two people will be perfect for each other? That’s what happened when Issy appeared in my head. She kept telling me how much JB couldn’t work for her and yet … J. I think it’s because they’re such different people with such different needs that they work. They bring out the best in each other. JB loosens up Issy and Issy shows JB that ties and commitment don’t have to be a noose around his neck.

J.B. is one hot hockey hero. Did you use a real-life inspiration for his physical characteristics or is he
solely a product of your imagination?

The character was originally inspired by a combination of former Devil, Johnny Oduya, and former Yankee, Derek Jeter. But the actual physical inspiration was Shemar Moore. Whenever I see him on Criminal Minds, I say - ‘There’s JB!’ .

After losing the Stanley Cup at the beginning of the book, J.B. and his teammate, Mad Dog take off for a getaway in Antigua. What location would be your favorite getaway?

Anywhere warm and sunny, with a beach or lake! I was lucky enough to be whisked away to Antigua for my 50th birthday and it was the perfect spot to spend two weeks chilling out with my lovely hubby. If we can’t make it to the Caribbean, we love Italy and have a soft spot for Charleston, SC. Both places have everything we love -- good food, nice people, great weather, a laid-back atmosphere and the occasional fab shoe shop!

In the book, Issy fantasizes about chocolate brownies topped with hummus. What’s the weirdest food combination that makes your taste buds sparkle?

At least Issy can blame her craving on her pregnancy! LOL I don’t think my tastes are that weird. I love peanut butter and cream cheese omelettes. I also love peanut butter and banana. Marmalade and sharp cheddar is another fave. My lovely hubby makes an awesome lime curd which is also yummy with sharp cheddar.

Here's the recipe for another favorite from Issy:

Issy’s No Olive Seven Layer Dip Recipe

2 cups leftover or canned chili (vegetarians can use refried beans, crushed kidney beans or vegetarian chili)
1 cup guacamole
1 cup sour cream
1 cup salsa
1 cup grated sharp cheddar
1 cup corn
1 cup chopped tomatoes, spring onions (scallions)

In a large bowl (clear is better so you can show off the layers), layer the ingredients in the same order as above, starting with the chili. Serve with tortilla chips or strips.

At Issy’s first hockey game, J.B. scores the winning goal and gives her the game-winning puck. What’s your most prized sports memorabilia item?

Oh it’s so hard to choose. You should see my office walls - covered in all kinds of hockey memorabilia. Signed pictures, game-used sticks, pucks and jerseys. All, naturally, from my beloved Devils. J. If I had to pick one, I think it would be Brian Gionta’s game-worn jersey from the night they retired Scott Stevens’ number. It’s signed by both Brian - who scored in the game - and Scotty.

Will there be more Ice Cats books?

Definitely! I’m currently working on book 5, which is tentatively entitled A Perfect Plan. It features recently retired Ice Cats’ captain, Scott ‘Scotty’ Matthews, and Issy’s best friend from A Perfect Compromise, Sapphire Houlihan.

Where can readers find you online?

All the latest news is on my website That is where I post my free short stories, as well, so it’s worth checking out!

I’m on Facebook, and Twitter as @annasugden and I’m also on Pinterest

What’s next?

I’m planning to write more holiday-themed short stories featuring some of the secondary characters from the team. I hope to offer A Perfect Bouquet, a Valentine-themed story on my website in February. And, in response to readers’ requests, I’m hoping to release A Perfect Selection - an anthology of the short stories - for sale in March.

Thanks, Anna! Would you like to ask our readers a question?

For those of you who’ve had children, did you get pregnancy cravings and if so, what were they? For the rest of you, what is your weirdest food combination favourite?

Anna has generously offered several giveaways so start posting those comments!

Giveaways include:
A signed copy of A Perfect Trade
A signed copy of A Perfect Catch
A signed copy of A Perfect Compromise
A signed set of the limited edition print version of the short stories

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Review - - The Spring at Moss Hill

The Spring at Moss Hill
By Carla Neggers
Publisher: Harlequin Mira
Release Date: January 26, 2016

Kylie Shaw wound up in Knight’s Bridge, Massachusetts, because one of her art professors had a country home there that happened to be empty when Kylie needed a quiet spot free of distractions to focus on her work as an illustrator. What was supposed to be a brief stay stretched into many months. When the professor decided to sell her home, Kylie, not ready to leave Knight’s Bridge, became the first occupant of the loft apartments that were part of the Moss Hill complex, a nineteenth-century hat factory renovated by local architect Mark Flanagan.

Kylie found the small town perfect not only to concentrate on her latest project, illustrations for a series of fairy tales, but also to work on the wildly popular children’s books she writes and illustrates as Morwenna Mills. No one, not even her family, knows that Kylie is Morwenna, and since Kylie is unsure of how people will react to her unexpected fame, she is not eager to disclose her dual identity. Learning that a private investigator will be moving into the apartment across from hers disrupts Kylie’s peace. It wouldn’t take much digging for a smart PI to discover Kylie and Morwenna are one and the same. But once she meets Russ Colton, Kylie finds it difficult to dodge his questions and more difficult to ignore the attraction she feels for the hunky investigator.

Russ Colton is not happy about becoming a temporary resident of some small town that he never heard of until his client, Hollywood designer Daphne Stewart, insisted that he check it out before she returns to the place where her design work began (That Night on Thistle Lane, Swift River Valley #2) to conduct a master class in costume design. Daphne is not sure whether the bad vibes she’s getting about her trip are warnings of a real threat or the result of her paranoia about her past. Russ is convinced it is the latter, but almost as soon as he gets into town, he learns that rumors are circulating about the safety of the Moss Hill complex. Then there is his neighbor: Kylie Shaw clearly is hiding something, and neither her evasions nor the probable irrelevance of her secret to Daphne will stop Russ from unlocking the puzzle of the blonde artist who arouses his curiosity and his libido.

This is the sixth book in Neggers’s Swift River Valley series. Like the other books in the series, Knight’s Bridge itself with its history and the entangled threads of the town’s old families is a large part of its appeal. Fans of the series will doubtless be pleased at the updates the author provides on couples from most of the other books. Kylie and Russ are likeable characters who find friends in the welcoming community and the promise of an HEA with each other. Russ’s California ties not only to Daphne but also to his brother Marty add interest to the story.

Despite these strengths, however, the story never quite came together for me. Kylie’s desperation to protect her alternate identity seems incomprehensible given the lack of any threat, physical or psychological. Daphne’s fears are a bit more understandable, but they still seem exaggerated in light of her years and achievements. There is a secondary romance that fizzles, and the “villain” threatening Moss Hill is more pathetic than dangerous.

If you have read and liked the other Swift Valley books, you will likely find enough of interest in this one to make it worth the read. If you are new to the series, I recommend you start at the beginning with Secrets of the Lost Summer and Night on Thistle Lane, foundational books with engaging characters and tight, comprehensible plots.  


Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Coming Attractions

It's time to welcome February, the month of love! Here's what we have going on at The Romance Dish this month.

One of my favorite Harlequin Superromance authors, Anna Sugden joins us for a Q&A on Thursday, February 4. A Perfect Compromise, the newest book in Anna's terrific New Jersey Ice Cats series has plenty of sizzle to warm your cold winter nights!

On Tuesday, Februrary 9, Kat Martin returns for a Q&A about her new romantic suspense novel, Into the Fury. This book kicks off Martin's new BOSS, Inc. trilogy.

Monday, February 15 brings another On Second Thought review from Janga!

Are you in the Richmond, Virginia area?  I'm excited to join authors Cathy Maxwell and Mary Burton (who also writes women's fiction as Mary Ellen Taylor) and NPR book editor Petra Mayer in a panel discussion at the Why We Love Romance Novels event at the Laprade Library (new location) from 7:00 - 8:30 PM, Tuesday, February 16. Admission is free but registration is required. Visit the Chesterfield County Library site for more information.

The Jodi Thomas Rustler's Moon tour stops by Friday, February 19 with a review, Q&A, and giveaway. Rustler's Moon is the third book in Thomas's Ransom Canyon series.

Friday, February 26 brings Dish favorite Anna Campbell to our doorstep! Anna will be here to chat about her newest Dashing Widows novella, Tempting Mr. Townsend, scheduled for publication February 27 but available for pre-order now.

Have you noticed the What's Happening link in the right sidebar of the blog?  Sometimes, we add new blogs or interviews throughout the month. When that happens, I'll keep you updated through the What's Happening link.

Hope everyone has a love-filled, fun-filled, book-filled February!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Review - - A Soldier's Promise

A Soldier’s Promise
By Karen Templeton
Publisher: Harlequin / Special Edition
Release Date: January 19, 2016


Levi Talbot returned to Whispering Pines, New Mexico, after a tour of duty in Afghanistan. His life-long best friend Tomas Lopez did not. Thinking about Tommy’s death cracks Levi’s heart, but it also makes him more determined to keep his promise to his friend. He knows that Tommy’s wife Valerie is not exactly a Levi Talbot fan, but Levi is going to take care of Val and her two daughters regardless. One look at the place Val and the girls are living is enough to let Levi know his help is needed, beginning with the crumbling porch.

Val Lopez was the daughter of a promiscuous and mean-spirited mother learned early that she had to stand on her own. When she and Tomas fell in love, for the first time, she had someone on her side, but Tommy left her, temporarily when he enlisted and permanently when he died. In her head, Val knows Levi is not responsible for Tommy’s choice to enlist or for his death, but in her heart, she needs someone to blame. Blaming Levi, whom Tommy admired, is easier than the other possibilities. Val may recognize—reluctantly—that she needs Levi’s help to renovate her grandmother-in-law’s house so that she and her daughters can live there safely, but she’s not about to grant him friendship status or allow him to become part of her life or the lives of her daughters.

Despite Val’s resolution, Levi earns a place in the lives of the Lopez family. His tenderness and genuine interest in them win the hearts of young Josie and baby Risa, and Val finds herself looking at him in a new way. Levi knows that he wants a life with Val and her children, but Val has to conquer her fears and believe that she deserves happiness before she and Levi can build a life together.

I know when I pick up a Karen Templeton book that I am about to encounter characters who seem as real and genuine as the family next door or the one three blocks over. The problems with which they struggle--family issues, financial concerns, letting go of the past, finding a balance between healthy pride and pride as a keep-out sign—will be similar to the problems with which people I know struggle. I approve of the focus on personal responsibility that is a recurring theme in Templeton’s novels. Levi’s words to Val are not mere dialog; they are important words, words worth pondering: I know I can’t make you happy, Val. Or get rid of the fear for you. Only you can figure out how to do that. But I sure as hell want to be there when you do.”

Templeton’s books are unlike real life only in that I can depend on them to provide a happily-ever-after.  All of these qualities are part of A Soldier’s Promise plus the extra poignancy that comes with the military theme. I like Levi and Val, and I understand them. I like Levi’s family and Val’s in-laws and the imperfect familial love that has a rare authenticity.  The kids too are real people with individual personalities. Some may find Josie overly precocious, but having seen firsthand the speed at which some children mature when forced to cope with traumas such as death and divorce, I found her fully credible.

I know some readers avoid category romance, but if you love small-town, heartwarming stories in which the central romance plays out within rich contexts of family and community, you can’t do better than a Karen Templeton book. I recommend that you check this one out today.


Friday, January 29, 2016

Constance Gillam Winner

The randomly chosen winner of a Kindle copy of

Lakota Dreaming by Constance Gillam is:



Please send your email address to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

My American Duchess Winner

The randomly chosen winner of a print copy of

My American Duchess by Eloisa James is:

Diane D - Florida


Please send your full name and mailing address to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

Madeline Martin Winner

The randomly chosen winner of a signed, print copy of

Possession of a Highlander by Madeline Martin is:



Please send your full name and mailing address (U.S. addresses only) to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Today's Special - - Constance Gillam

Christy Gillam Photography
Constance Gillam is our special guest at the Dish today. Constance hails from Atlanta, Georgia where I've had the pleasure of meeting her at several Georgia Romance Writers' Moonlight and Magnolias conferences. In addition to writing romances, Constance has also tried her hand at genetic counseling, health underwriting, real estate, medical technologist, bank proof operator and phlebotomist. Wow, I'm worn out just writing that! Constance joins us today to chat about her latest book, Lakota Moon Rising

Welcome, Constance! I’m happy you could join us today. You recently released your first historical romance, Lakota Moon Rising. Please share with our readers what they can expect from this book.

Thanks, P.J., for inviting me. Lakota Moon Rising is a historical prequel to my first contemporary mystery, Lakota Dreaming. The reader can expect adventure on the Great Plains, a peek at two different cultures during the 19th century, and a universal love story between two strong willed characters.

What inspired you to write a love story between a Lakota Sioux warrior and a runaway slave?

I enjoy exploring different cultures. The original premise for the series was to see how two different people would overcome their diversity to find love. I found the characters had more in common than they had differences. 

I’ve always been fascinated by the Native American people and their struggles to maintain their culture and their land. At the same time, I’ve been tracing my ancestors.  Since a large part of my heritage is African, tracing my ancestry has involved an up close and personal study of the institution of slavery in the Americas.

Julia and Sunkawakan Iyopeya come from different worlds yet find in one another their heart’s desire. What do you want readers to understand about these two characters?

That underneath the differences in their worlds are two people looking for a common connection, for a life mate who will travel the rough road with them.

Julia is fascinated by the world she discovers away from the plantation where she had spent her life as a slave. What’s the most fascinating place you’ve visited or would like to visit? Why?

I visited China in 2007 and was humbled by the history.  When I walked the Great Wall of China, it sent shivers through me to remember 2,000 years earlier other feet had patrolled this same path.

At your website you write, “Music constantly flows through my mind as do the next scenes in my current manuscript.” Did you play music while writing Lakota Moon Rising? If so, what was your soundtrack for this book?

A very obvious one, Dances with Wolves. The music was lyrical, symbolizing the flowing of the long grasses and the vastness of the Plain. I also revisited scenes in the movie. I found the panoramic cinematography of the Plains inspirational for describing Julia’s awe as she traveled to Sunkawakan Iyopeya’s camp.

Lakota Moon Rising is the prequel to your contemporary romantic suspense novel, Lakota Dreaming. What can we expect from Lakota Dreaming? Should the two stories be read in any particular order?

Lakota Dreaming is a fish out of water story. Zora, a New York City fashion editor, is plagued by what her psychiatrist calls genetic memories. Zora travels to South Dakota, where her ancestor lived, to put an end to these visions so she can get on with her life. She runs afoul of John Iron Hawk, Captain of a small tribal police force.

I would recommend reading Lakota Dreaming first, then Lakota Moon Rising.

What do you enjoy reading when you’re not busy writing your own books?

I read everything except horror. I love Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series, I’m currently reading Wench by Dollen Perkins-Valdez. I recently read The Resurrectionist by Matthew Guinn. I’m listening to A Dark Lure by Loreth Anne White. In my TBR pile is a National Book finalist, The Turner House by Angela Flournoy.

There are many surprises in store for Julia along her journey. What would readers be surprised to learn about you?

No surprises here. I spend hours each day in front of my computer in my sweats. Pretty boring.

Where can readers find you on the internet?

Twitter:    @conniegillam

What’s next from Constance Gillam?

I’m working on a contemporary sequel to Lakota Dreaming, tentatively entitled Hunter’s Moon.

Thank you so much for visiting with us, Constance. Would you like to ask our readers a question today?

What is your favorite fictional or non-fictional romance and why?

One randomly chosen person leaving a comment will receive a Kindle copy of Lakota Dreaming

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Review - - My American Duchess

My American Duchess
By Eloisa James
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: January 26, 2016

Miss Merry Pelford has the unfortunate habit of falling in love. Repeatedly. With the wrong men. Though perhaps it's more accurate to say Merry has a habit of falling in love with love. After breaking two engagements and being sued for breach of promise by the second fiance, Merry's name is on the lips of every gossip in Boston and her matrimonial prospects are slim. Her guardians, her beloved aunt and uncle, have brought her to London - far from wagging tongues - to find a husband. Merry hopes to find a man who wants her for herself, not her fortune, and believes she's found him in the bright and shiny Lord Cedric Allardyce, younger twin of the Duke of Trent.

The Duke of Trent is captivated by the delightful American miss he encounters on a deserted balcony and by the end of their conversation has decided that he has finally met the woman who will become his duchess. And then he discovers she's already engaged. To his brother. Honorable to his core, he steps aside when Merry tells him she's in love with Cedric though the more he's around the couple the less he believes that's the case. And, try as he might, he just can't bring himself to view her as a sister. The desire is too strong, growing by the day and if he isn't mistaken, reciprocated by Merry.

The very night she becomes engaged for the third time, Merry encounters a man to whom she is immediately drawn. It's only later that she discovers he's the Duke of Trent, the man destined to become her brother-in-law. The more time she spends in his company, the more she likes him while her fiance becomes less appealing with each encounter. While one man appreciates her as she is, the other constantly tries to "improve" her by changing her dress, her hair, her speech and by stifling her natural enthusiasm and American ways. Merry can see the light at the end of the tunnel and knows it's a third broken engagement bearing down upon her but then Ms. James throws in a twist...and another...taking the story in a completely unexpected direction. And that's only half-way through the book!

Eloisa James is one of my favorite authors. She has her own keeper shelf in my library yet even within those keepers there are a few books that rise to the top. My American Duchess is one of the risers. It is Eloisa James at her best. After reading the book (the first time) I tried to think of a word to describe my emotions. That word is joy. This story - these characters - filled me with so much joy. Okay, not Cedric. Definitely no joy there though the book's epilogue leads me to believe there may be hope for him down the road. But Trent and Merry? Oh, yes! Let me count the ways. I love the humor (traditional, smitten English duke vs outspoken, effervescent American miss), their intelligence, kindness, passion. Definitely their passion! I want to be their friend. I want to spend a few weeks at their estate, digging in the garden dirt with Merry and playing with George, their adorable puppy. I want to give Trent hugs because with his childhood he deserves all the hugs he can get. I love that both Trent and Merry bring something to their relationship that the other needs and that, together, they are whole. But I also appreciate that it takes them time to realize this. They both have past baggage to unload and choppy waters to navigate and Ms. James steers them through with supreme skill and realism. Their happiness is hard won and all the more satisfying because of it. I have complete confidence that 40 years from now, they will still be deeply in love and slipping away to the estate greenhouse to indulge in a little "afternoon delight."

If you're an Eloisa James fan, you'll want to add My American Duchess to your keeper shelf. If you haven't yet read her books, this standalone is the perfect place to start. It has my highest recommendation. Now, if you'll excuse me, I think I'll pay a visit to Merry and Trent. For the third time.


Have you read any Eloisa James books?

What's your favorite?

Do you enjoy "fish out of water" stories? Merry - our American heroine - certainly isn't swimming in the same pond with English misses - something deeply appreciated by her hero!

Have you read My American Duchess yet? What did you think?

One randomly chosen person leaving a comment will receive a print copy of My American Duchess
(U.S. / Canadian addresses only)