Tuesday, July 7, 2015

A Look Back - - RWA 2011

Bright Lights Big Stories was the theme of the 2011 RWA National Conference in New York City and, boy howdy, did they ever come through. Our hotel was smack dab in the middle of Times Square (my room overlooked the Good Morning America studios) which brought the bright lights and the terrific line-up of authors entertained and inspired with their stories. It will be fun to return to NYC later this month for RWA 2015. So many wonderful things to do...not nearly enough time!

Karina Bliss and Colleen Gleason were all smiles and rockin' gorgeous fascinators in the hotel bar.

Sabrina Jeffries, all dressed up for RITA® night. Sabrina kicks off a new series on July 21st with a familiar hero (from her previous series). American artist, Jeremy Keane will have his hands full with his English heroine in The Art of Sinning. It's so good!

Rachel Gibson's books always make me smile. Her See Jane Score (Chinooks Hockey Team - Book 2) is one of my all-time favorites.

Roxanne St. Claire is one of my favorite authors. She's also kind, generous and so appreciative of her readers. She recently released Barefoot With a Bodyguard, the first book in her new Barefoot Bay Undercover trilogy. Fans of her Guardian Angelinos will be thrilled to know that the elusive Gabe Rossi appears in the first two books of the trilogy and the third will be his story!

If you're a fan of Robyn Carr's Virgin River or Thunder Point books, you'd probably expect her to be warm, welcoming and fun to be around. You'd be right. Another author who truly appreciates her readers, Carr is a gem. Her newest book, A New Hope was released June 30th and is another winner in her Thunder Point series.

Jodi Thomas let me hold her RITA®! I had a wonderful time chatting with her and was so happy for her win. She's a lovely, down-to-earth, lady and such a good writer.

You might think the twinkle in the eyes of Anne Gracie, Jo Beverley and Cara Elliott denotes mischief and merriment. You'd be right. This delightful trio had me grinning from ear to ear and their books have places of honor on my keeper shelves!

All my reader friends know I love my highlanders and Paula Quinn writes some of the best around. Her MacGregors are all keepers!

Position yourself in the lobby of a conference hotel and you never know who you'll run into. Maybe you'll hit the jackpot and have a cozy chat with Connie Brockway and Eloisa James!

Have you ever been to New York City?

What are your must-see attractions in the city?

What city (cities) would you most like to visit?

Do you enjoy dressing up?

Any particular authors you'd like me to try to get photos of at the upcoming conference?

A package of books is going out to one person who leaves a comment on today's post. (US addresses only)

Monday, July 6, 2015

Janga's Most Anticipated Historical Romance Reads of 2015: July - December

The first half of 2015 has certainly added some memorable keepers to my bookshelves, wooden and digital, with three historicals—Four Nights with a Duke by Eloisa James, It Started with a Scandal by Julie Anne Long, and The Spring Bride by Anne Gracie--at the top of the list. But the next six months offer a cornucopia of promising books for romance readers, some of which I expect to end up joining the books by James, Long, and Gracie on my Best of 2015 list. July through December, each month brings at least one historical romance novel that has me practically hyperventilating with anticipation.

July 7 is one of those Super Tuesdays with so many romance releases that a reader hardly knows where to begin, but I await none with greater eagerness than Kaki Warner’s Home by Morning, the third book in her Heroes of Heartbreak Creek series.  Warner introduced two unforgettable mixed–race characters, Pru Lincoln and Thomas Redstone, back in 2011 in Heartbreak Creek, the first of her Runaway Brides trilogy. Fans have been waiting for their story ever since. Finally, four years and six books later, on July 7, their story will be available. I expect to stay up through the wee hours on July 6-7 so that I can start reading this one as soon as it downloads to my Kindle. If possible, PJ’s recommendation left me even more eager for Home by Morning.

Just shy of a month later, on August 4, The Lure of the Moonflower, the concluding book in Lauren Willig’s popular Pink Carnation series will be released.  I have loved this series from the first book, and thus view the release of this twelfth and final book with mixed emotions. Of course, I am desperate to read this tale that pairs the Pink Carnation (Jane Wooliston) and the former French, now British, agent, the Moonflower (Jack Reid) in another of Willig’s superb blends of spy novel, romance, and comedy during the Napoleonic Wars within the frame of Eloise and Colin’s contemporary romance. Since 2004, the new book in this series has been a highlight of my reading year. I am sad to see the series end, but as I read the final pages of the final book, I shall take comfort in the fact that Willig has not ruled out future spinoffs.

The last Tuesday in August brings the release of Mary Jo Putney’s Not Always a Saint, another book that concludes a series. The hero, Daniel Herbert, was introduced in Not Quite a Wife, the sixth of MJP’s Lost Lords books. I found him fascinating as a secondary character and have looked forward to seeing him as a protagonist ever since. How often do we see a hero who is an ordained Anglican priest, a trained doctor, and a reluctant lord? And his heroine is a wicked widow! An irresistible combination from one of my favorite authors, this one definitely belongs on my most anticipated list. Putney’s next series will begin with some spinoff characters from the Lost Lords books, so perhaps readers will catch a glimpse or two of favorites from the Lost Lords in the new series.

September brings a new book from Connie Brockway, always a reason for me to celebrate. Highlander Undone, a September 15 release, offers a hero who is a captain of Her Majesty’s Cormack Highlanders, a wounded, artist heroine, and a plot that includes traitors and slave traders. Obviously, Brockway is following last year’s delightful romantic comedy, The Songbird’s Seduction, with a darker story, but whether she chooses light or dark tones, Brockway’s books are always among those I look forward to with high expectations.

The end of September brings my most anticipated book of the year, Julie Anne Long’s The Legend of Lyon Redmond (September 29). I haven’t dared read the excerpts because I’m afraid doing so would heighten the anticipation to an unbearable point. The end of It Started with a Scandal left me pining for Lyon and Olivia’s story, hoping for a touch of Lochinvar, and keeping my fingers crossed that there will be some promise of happiness for Landsdowne too. And since Long’s comments suggest this series will end with this eleventh book, I also am really hyped to know the full story of the Redmond and Eversea parents. However, Long admits that she is reluctant to say this book marks a full end to the series. Perhaps some threads will remain loose until the author can take time from writing her first contemporary series (set in the California Gold Country and due for release in 2016) to complete some of the Pennyroyal Green novellas that are dancing in her head. Regardless, there are many reasons for me to be hungry for this book!

Most Romance Dish regulars know that Manda Collins has been a friend of mine (and of PJ’s) since we were all part of the Squawk Radio and Eloisa James bulletin board communities years ago. But I would be a fan of her blend of historical suspense and romance even if Manda Collins were only the author’s name on the books.  I thought the first book of her Lords of Anarchy series was superb. I finished A Good Rake Is Hard to Find primed for Lady Hermione Upperton’s story. A heroine whose driving skills make her the equal of the most notable whipsters of the day—sort of the historical equivalent of Diane Crump, the first female jockey to ride in the Derby—thrills my feminist heart. Learning that as the heroine of Good Earl Gone Bad (Lords of Anarchy #2), an October 6 release, Lady Hermione is also a murder suspect and partner in a forced marriage just adds to my eagerness to read this book.

October 27 is a starred date on the calendar of many a historical romance reader, myself among them, because it is the release date of Cold-Hearted Rake, the first new historical from Lisa Kleypas since Love in the Afternoon more than five years ago. As much as I love Kleypas’s contemporary romances, I have missed her historicals. The cover copy describes the hero as “London's most wickedly charming rake” and promises the heroine is “a beautiful young widow whose sharp wit and determination are a match” for him. Then there’s that reference to “erotic seduction.”  And it’s Kleypas! Only 124 days (as I write this) until I will be reading this one.

Kate Noble’s The Game and the Governess was one of my top reads of 2014. I turned the last page of that book already impatient for the story of John Turner, friend and secretary to Ned Granville, Earl of Ashby, who had played the earl in their game of deception. The Lie and the Lady, a November 24 release, is that story. Mere Mr. Turner again, John must win the heart and hand of the countess with whom he fell in love while disguised as a lord. The premise is exactly what I hoped, and I am increasingly impatient to read it.

I love Christmas, and I have an extra reason for loving it this year. One of my Christmas presents to myself will be an already pre-ordered copy of Loretta Chase’s Dukes Prefer Blondes (Dressmakers #4), a December 29 release. Lady Clara Fairfax was the Duke of Clevedon’s intended bride in Silk Is for Seduction (2011), the first book in the Dressmakers (Noirot Sisters) series. I sighed happily when Marcelline Noirot married the duke and then I waited for Lady Clara to find her true love. I waited through Scandal in Satin (2012) and Vixen in Velvet (2014). Finally, just as 2015 ends, I will be reading Lady Clara’s story. I am intrigued by her hero, a “tall, dark, and annoying barrister” who “unexpectedly [finds] himself in line to inherit a dukedom,” and I am beyond eager to follow their journey from first meeting through inconvenient marriage to HEA.

Another much anticipated year-end release is the first book in Sarah MacLean’s Scandal and Scoundrel series. The Rogue Not Taken, also a December 29 release, is MacLean’s first book post-Rules for Scoundrels, a series that made Chase’s identity one of the most discussed topics in the romance community. (PJ and I had our own discussion and developed a theory which subsequent books proved valid. Yay us!) That’s a tough act to follow, plus this is also MacLean’s first book after her open craniotomy.  But a book that features a roguish marquess as hero and a stowaway heroine who knocked her faithless brother-in-law into a goldfish pond on a road trip to the Scottish border sounds like a MacLean-style winner to me.  It’s reassuring to know that neither success nor surgery keep MacLean from giving her readers the kind of books that have made readers fall in love with her characters. I can’t wait for this one!

The final titles on my list are not novels. The Last Chance Christmas Ball, a September 29 release, is an anthology with eight novellas set at an 1815 Christmas Ball held at Holbourne Hall. Each story features characters who have “a last chance to find true love before the New Year.” Mary Jo Putney, Jo Beverley, Joanna Bourne, Nicola Cornick, Anne Gracie, Patricia Rice, Cara Elliott, Susan King, who blog as the Word Wenches, each contributed a novella to the anthology. This is the second Word Wench holiday anthology. The first, Mischief and Mistletoe (2012), was a keeper for me, and I expect this one to join it. A sure sign of how eager I am to read this book is that I pre-ordered it the day it first became available. How can I lose with Christmas stories by proven authors, including several auto-buy authors?

Jennifer Ashley’s A Mackenzie Clan Gathering is a novella that will be released on November 17. I count Ashley’s Mackenzie books among my favorite historical series and look forward to each new book, but Ian has remained my favorite Mackenzie. He and Beth are featured in this book, and that alone ensures this title a place on my list. The fact that the cover copy promises that readers can “catch up on the brothers and friends, their children, and their lives” just adds to my anticipation.

Then there are the contemporaries, but that’s another post.


What historical romances are you most anticipating? 

Saturday, July 4, 2015

RWA 2010 Winner

The randomly chosen winner of a package of books from 
Look Back at RWA 2010 is:


Congratulations, Connie!

Please send your full name and mailing address to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

Patience Griffin Winner

Congratulations to 


You're the randomly chosen winner of a print copy of

Some Like it Scottish by Patience Griffin.

Please send your full name and mailing address to us at

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

(U.S. addresses only)

Friday, July 3, 2015

A Look Back - - RWA 2010

The 2010 RWA National Conference was supposed to be held in Nashville, Tennessee. I was excited about exploring a city I'd only driven through before but torrential rains that led to catastrophic flooding had the folks at RWA scrambling to make a last minute change (the conference hotel was under water). They came through like champs and soon we were on the road, heading south to Orlando, Florida and Walt Disney World. 

Tessa Dare turned that 2009 "sold out" frown upside down with a RITA® nomination in 2010!

Eloisa James sure looks excited and with good reason. Those are two awesome EJ books she's

PJ with the lovely Emily March/Geralyn Dawson at the Harlequin party...which was fabulous! Are you reading Emily's Eternity Springs series?

Chatting with one of my favorite authors, Monica McCarty. She's been an autobuy for me since the publication of her debut book. Love her highlanders!

The lovely and always gracious Debbie Macomber. There are probably a hundred things I'd like to say to her. Unfortunately, about all I could do was smile and think, "OMG! It's Debbie Macomber!"

Catching up with Courtney Milan, Anna Campbell, Lila diPasqua and Delilah Marvelle. What an awesome foursome!

The Avon party was held at the Living Seas Aquarium in Epcot. What a beautiful venue! Enjoying the party are Jeanne Adams, Terri Garey and Sarah MacLean.

Here I am with my favorite Brit, Anna Sugden. Have you checked out Anna's hockey hunks yet?

You may think Anna Campbell and I spend a lot of time hugging and laughing at conferences. You'd be right! lol

Besides being one of my all-time favorite authors, Lisa Kleypas is also one of the sweetest, most genuine people I have ever met. And gorgeous. The woman is gorgeous. Only 38 more days until the release of Brown-Eyed Girl!

Have you ever visited Disney World? What was your favorite attraction?

Are you a hugger? You've probably guessed from the photos that I am so be prepared if we ever meet in person. ;-)

What would you ask your favorite author if you had the chance to meet in person?

I have a package of books looking for a home. One randomly chosen person who leaves a comment will win! (U.S. only)

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Today's Special - - Patience Griffin

I am delighted to welcome Patience Griffin back to the Romance Dish today. As many of you know, I fell head over heels for Patience's 2014 debut novel, To Scotland With Love, the book that ended up on both Janga's and my "Best of 2014" lists; the same book that is a double finalist for this year's Romance Writers of America RITA® award. The second book in her Kilts and Quilts series, Meet Me in Scotland was released earlier this year and the third book, Some Like it Scottish comes out July 7th. I've read an advanced copy and it's terrific. It's lighter in tone than the first two without losing any of the emotion that I so enjoyed in Griffin's previous books and I'm not ashamed to admit that I fell head over heels for the hero, Ramsay. Falling head over heels seems to be something I do often with Griffin's books! 

If you haven't discovered Patience Griffin's books yet, be sure to visit her website for all the pertinent information and catch up with her online at the links below. 

Patience at Pinterest 

The Power of Pictures

Adult coloring books are all the craze right now, and rightly so. Coloring is a great stress reliever. But I say, let’s not underestimate the power of looking at pictures.
When I was a girl, my dad brought home two huge bags from Waldenbooks. This was nothing new for my dad, but included in those bags this time were two art photography books that changed my world. The tomes contained pictures of ordinary people, doing ordinary things, but something about those pictures, while I turned the pages, mesmerized me, opening up a whole new world. I was like Dorothy stepping into Oz, going from black and white into a Technicolor world in two seconds flat.
Through those pictures, my world expanded. I’m from a small town. When I say small, I mean one-four-way-stop-sign-and-600-people small. Think Mayberry RFD small. Our area was so rural that all the surrounding little towns were bussed out to a country school. It was the best place in the world to grow up, seriously, the best! But what I saw in those photography books, made me grow in my perspective and made my imagination spin with new ideas. As I poured over the photographs, I began to make up stories about the people in the pictures and what their lives were like. I wonder now if that wasn’t the beginning of me becoming a storyteller.

The first thing I do when I start a new manuscript is pull out a stack of magazines along with a pair of scissors. I cut out anything that causes a spark and catches my fancy. I don’t think about the story I’m going to write, I’m only looking for pictures that I love. Before I can even glue them on the poster board, I start hearing snippets of dialogue …aye, in Scottish accents, of course. I have a lot of fun making my storyboards, but I usually quit before they are complete, because I’m so full of ideas that I’m antsy to start writing the story.

My love of gazing at pictures isn’t limited to my writing life. When my quilting magazines and quilt catalogues arrive in the mail, I get almost giddy. I love to sit down late in the evening when my brain is fried and flip through the pages, letting my creative-self pretend I have time to make all those beautiful quilts. And to me, each quilt tells a story. I have used fabric many times to tell the story of gratitude, like when my eldest son was a teen and developed a heart condition. To thank the cardiologists, I made a wall hanging, expressing our family’s gratitude for taking care of him. 

Sometimes, I’ve told the story through quilt blocks like when I made my daughter’s graduation quilt—her life in fabric.

Other times, like my September 11th quilt, I told the story of the day. As far as I’m concerned, quilt blocks are simply pictures projected through a different medium.

Finally, book covers, another kind of picture, catches the flavor of a story, giving us a preview of the emotion we’re going to feel when reading the book. Deborah Chabrian, the artist who has painted the covers for the Kilts and Quilts series, has done a brilliant job of conveying what I hope readers get out of my books…that feeling of home, heart, and community.
And for those of you who have a picture addiction as I do, then beware of Pinterest. OMG! Once I get started, I can’t stop browsing. There is a reason I don’t spend much time on Pinterest these days…I have books to write.

What gets your creative juices flowing? Coloring? Listening to music? Taking a walk? Doing the dishes? (Just kidding on that last one!)

My grandfather had a subscription to National Geographic when I was a kid. I used to love sitting down with his latest one. Do you have a favorite magazine that you love to browse through for pictures?

One person who leaves a comment on today's post will receive a print copy of Some Like it Scottish. (U.S. only)

Kit Woodhouse’s matchmaking business is such a success, she’s expanding to the Highlands of Scotland where the hot, prosperous, and kilted are anxious to connect. Now, looking to fill her stable with eligible bachelors, Kit’s arrived in Gandiegow to recruit potential Real Men of Scotland. It’s not until she meets her tour guide that she discovers just how real they can be.

With his sexy grin, jeans, and black wellies, Ramsay Armstrong is an unpolished hulk of a Scottish fisherman—and a skeptic when it comes to romance. Not exactly a man of “pairing attributes” when talking marriageable matches, but he does make Kit’s heart beat a little faster. Maybe it’s the scent of the sea in his hair. Maybe it’s the challenge. Maybe it’s the thrill of the unexpected. Then again, maybe it’s love.

Quilt Giveaway Rafflecopter code:

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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Review - - Redemption Bay

Redemption Bay
By RaeAnne Thayne
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Release Date: June 30, 2015

Between her flower and gift shop and her responsibilities as mayor of Haven Point, Idaho, McKenzie Shaw leads a busy life. Even though she enjoys her work and is committed to seeing her town prosper, she loves her time at the home she bought two years ago. She has worked to make it her place, a sanctuary for her and her favorite companion, her poodle Paprika, better known as “Rika.” McKenzie is most unhappy when her sister phones with the news that Ben Kilpatrick is back in Haven Point. She is even more unhappy when she finds that her sanctuary is threatened by the presence of Ben, the man she holds largely responsible for the economic decline her beloved town has gone through. He has rented the house next door. Rika may be delighted to welcome Hondo, Ben’s German shepherd, but McKenzie can’t even manage basic civilities when it comes to Hondo’s master.

Ben is in Haven Point under duress. His memories of growing up in the town are not pleasant. When he left after making the tough decision to close his family’s boat building business, he did not expect to return. He believed that he had cut his last ties to the town and his dark memories when he sold all the Kilpatrick properties to Aidan Caine. But Aidan has personal reasons for hoping Haven Point will prove suitable for an expansion Caine Tech is planning, a facility that would employ three hundred people, more than the number that lost their jobs with the closing of Kilpatrick Boatworks. As Chief Operating Officer of Caine Tech and Aidan Caine’s right-hand man, Ben has been given the task of conducting a feasibility study to see if Haven Point will serve the company’s purpose.

McKenzie immediately sees the proposed facility as the salvation of her dying town. She is determined to prove to Ben that Haven Point is the obvious choice. Ben’s logical mind, as well as his desire to escape the town, tells him to reject Haven Point as a site. However, he is impressed with McKenzie’s loyalty and determination. In fact, the more Ben sees of McKenzie, the more he likes what he sees, and he can’t forget her kindness to his younger sister when Lily was dying of Cystic Fibrosis. McKenzie’s memories are stirring too, and she remembers all too well the crush she once had on Ben. But shared moments and an attraction growing stronger with each meeting are not enough to resolve the conflict over the town. It takes a crisis to help Ben see the heart of Haven Point and for Ben and McKenzie to let down barriers and open their hearts to each other.

This second book in Thayne’s Haven Point series offers readers complex characters in a charming but credible setting and an emotionally satisfying story. Ben and McKenzie both have complicated histories, and Thayne allows the reader to see how those histories have shaped them into the multi-layered characters they are. They are stubborn, independent, and reluctant to examine too closely the scars they bear. I was particularly interested in the fact that their similarities as well as their opposing views of the town are part of what they have to overcome in order to reach their HEA. A big part of the appeal of Thayne’s novels is that her characters possess a high degree of verisimilitude, and that certainly holds true for the characters in this book.

Ben and McKenzie’s story develops against the backdrop of community and is interwoven with threads from the stories of family and friends. The mix makes for a rich reading experience. The redemption theme that was introduced in Snow Angel Cove is even stronger in this book, as the title suggests. I’m interested in seeing if it runs through the series. The Haven Point series has not yet reached the favored favorite status that belongs to Thayne’s Hope’s Crossing series, but it is headed in that direction. I am already looking forward to another visit to the town in late September when Evergreen Springs, the story of Devin Shaw, McKenzie’s sister, is released. That it is a Christmas story makes me anticipate it all the more. If you are a fan of small-town romances with a large cast of characters who leave you wanting more, you should add the Haven Point series to your TBR list. If you start now, you can read Snow Angel Cove and Redemption Bay and be ready for Devin’s story on September 29.


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Coming Attractions

Okay, raise your hands if you can't believe 2015 is already half over. How can this be possible? I still have too many January - June books to read! Ah well, no matter how hard I try to slow down time, the calendar pages keep flipping and here we are welcoming the month of July. Here's what's on the Romance Dish schedule.

Thursday, July 2 brings RITA® nominee Patience Griffin back to the Dish. Griffin's debut, To Scotland with Love is a double finalist for Best First Book and Best Contemporary Romance:Long. Her newest book, Some Like it Scottish is the third book in her Kilts and Quilts series and hits the shelves July 7.

On Friday, July 3, I'll be sharing photo memories of the 2010 RWA National Conference at Disney World. There be prizes. :)

On Monday, July 6, Janga will share her most anticipated historical romances being published from July - December, 2015. I can feel my bank account draining already!

I go back to New York City and the 2011 RWA National Conference on Wednesday, July 8 with this week's stroll down a pictorial memory lane.

The Jill Shalvis Second Chance Summer tour rolls into town on Thursday, July 9. This contemporary romance about second chances kicks off Shalvis' new Cedar Ridge series.

Janga returns Wednesday, July 15 with a review of a reissued romance in her July On Second Thought column.

Don't miss my Q&A with RITA® finalist, Nancy Herkness on Thursday, July 16. Herkness is a finalist in the Contemporary Romance:Long category with her novel, The Place I Belong. She'll be joining us on the 16th to talk about her new book, The CEO Buys In which kicks off a new series on July 21.

Vanessa Kelly stops by on Friday, July 17 to talk about the newest addition to her Renegade Royals series, How to Marry a Royal Highlander. The book hits stores today!

On Saturday, July 18, I wrap up my look back at RWA National with photo highlights of the 2013 conference in Atlanta.

The week of July 20th I'll be in New York City for the 2015 RWA National Conference. Be sure to follow me during the conference at the Romance Dish Facebook page and stop by the last week of the month for my conference recap.

Kick back, grab a cold drink, a good book, and let's have a great month of July!