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Friday, April 17, 2015

Review - - Garden of Lies

Garden of Lies
By Amanda Quick
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Release Date: April 21, 2015

Ursula Kern, proprietor of the Kern Secretarial Agency, refuses to accept the official conclusion that the death of her employee and friend Anne Clifton was due to either suicide or natural causes. A note clutched in the dead woman’s hand leads Ursula to believe that her friend was murdered. Since the police won’t investigate, Ursula decides to conduct her own investigation, and the logical place to begin, since Anne, like her employer, was an unmarried woman with no family, is with Anne’s last clients, Lord and Lady Fulbrooke. But first, Ursula must inform her own client, legendary archaeologist Slater Roxton, that another client’s work takes priority over cataloging antiquities for him.

Slater is not pleased with the news. The illegitimate son of actress Lily Lafontaine and wealthy aristocrat Edward Roxton, Slater is a legendary figure who miraculously survived being trapped in an ancient burial chamber and thus became a media sensation. Abandoned by his companions who thought he had been crushed to death beneath the falling stones, he lived for a year on Fever Island, thought to be uninhabited. The island was actually inhabited by a monastery belonging to the Order of the Three Paths, a philosophical rather than a religious order, whose ideas and meditative practices transformed Slater. Despite the fact that his father recognized him, provided him with a gentleman’s education, and even made Slater sole trustee of the Roxton fortune, Slater has never been at home in society. He senses in the heavily veiled Ursula a kindred spirit. Unhappy with Ursula’s decision to play detective and concerned about her safety, he insists on joining her investigation.

Ursula has mixed feelings about Slater’s role as co-investigator. She is aware that his background gives him access to his mother’s theatrical connections and to his father’s upper-crust world, access Ursula lacks. Also, she knows his experience recovering lost and stolen treasures could prove useful. But she is jealous of her independence and fears that he will not see her as an equal. Theirs is at times an uneasy alliance, but each brings something unique to the partnership.

Although superficially different from one another, Ursula and Slater are alike in fundamental ways. They are both proven survivors remade by experience. Ursula recreated herself when a disastrous marriage, a poverty-stricken widowhood, and an epic scandal made her former life impossible. Although Slater did not change his name and he does have some close family ties, he is a very different man from the young archaeologist who chased a myth. As each observes independently of the other, Ursula’s veil and Slater’s glasses serve the same purpose—to limit the view others have of them and to keep the larger world at a distance.

It is Slater who discovers that Lord Fulbrooke is connected to the Olympus Club, a mysterious private club that offers a hallucinogenic drug and the companionship of high-class courtesans to its wealthy members. Ursula uncovers a locked room in Lady Fulbrooke’s conservatory in which the melodramatic poet is growing the plant from which the drug is made. Together Ursula and Slater uncover a web of drug trafficking, blackmail, and murder that stretches from London to New York. Can they find the evidence they need before one of them becomes the next victim? Their courage to complete their quest is unquestioned, but is their courage strong enough to open their lives and their hearts to one another and to move beyond shared passion to commitment and love?

Garden of Lies is vintage Amanda Quick, a winning combination of breath-catching mystery and sigh-worthy romance with an independent, active, intelligent heroine and a hero who is a bit of a misfit with definite quirks. He matches her intelligence and is confident enough of his masculinity to support her independence, with occasional lapses due to his need to protect where he loves. This one is set in Victorian London at a time when advances in the typewriter were opening the world of work to women at an increasing rate. Quick uses this setting in interesting ways.

The early Amanda Quick novels such as Ravished, Mistress, and Dangerous remain some of my all-time favorite historical romances, and although I don’t rate this one quite on par with those classics, I did find it a solid read. Quick (aka Jayne Ann Krentz) can be depended on to give readers smart, unconventional characters, a real sense of period setting, and a balance of mystery and romance in which neither genre overpowers the other. For me, that is a winning combination. If you are a fan of Amanda Quick, I expect you will find Garden of Lies a thoroughly enjoyable read. If it has been a while since you read Quick or if you like historical romantic suspense but have never read Amanda Quick, I recommend you give this book a try. I think you will be glad you did.


Thursday, April 16, 2015

Today's Special - - Heather Ashby and Christopher Bergeron

PJ here. It is with immense pleasure that I welcome Heather Ashby and Christopher Bergeron to The Romance Dish today. Co-authors of the newly released contemporary military romance, UNFORGETTABLE, Ashby and Bergeron have the backgrounds that bring authenticity to their characters and the journeys they travel. If you're looking for intelligent writing, fast-paced stories, edge-of-your-seat action, and deeply emotional relationships all wrapped up in duty, honor and service then look no further than the books of the "Love in the Fleet" series.  I highly recommend them!


Award winning author, Heather Ashby is a Navy veteran who taught school and raised a family while accompanying her Navy husband around the United States, Japan, and the Middle East. In gratitude for their Army son’s safe return from Afghanistan and Iraq, she now writes military romance novels, donating half her royalties to Fisher House Foundation in support of wounded warriors and their families. Her son serves as her cover model, helping to raise money for Fisher Houses around the world. Heather lives in Atlantic Beach, Florida with her retired Navy husband. Unforgettable is the fourth and final book in the “Love in the Fleet” series.


Christopher Bergeron is a retired Major in the United States Marine Corps, with twenty-four years of service. His ten deployments include combat tours in Desert Shield/Desert Storm; Somalia; Kosovo; Haiti; Fallujah, Iraq; and Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Chris’s travels have covered the globe, including more than twenty countries. He lives with his wife and son in Rockford, Michigan, where he is currently a Communications/Marketing student at Grand Valley State University. Unforgettable is his first novel.

On Love – and Broccoli
by Heather Ashby

Thanks for inviting me today, PJ. I always enjoy chatting with your readers. I’d like to share a lesson I learned about ten years ago that has strengthened not only my marriage, but my friendships, as well.

My husband chews loudly. Seriously, you can hear him eat potato chips in the next room. And he sniffs. Instead of finding a tissue or taking a Sudafed, he sniffs. Repeatedly. I've come close to losing my mind during allergy season.

And, he buys too much broccoli.

My retired Navy husband is an awesome man, nicknamed Commander Integrity because he exemplifies an officer and a gentleman. He’s also an awesome husband—when not chewing or sniffling. Since he’s fully retired, he takes care of everything in our house, yard, and lives, so I can teach school by day and write books at night. I try not to complain about anything, yet that’s just what I used to do.

He does the food shopping and all the cooking. My job is to write the weekly menu and put the food away when he returns from the grocery store. Without fail, he buys too much broccoli. I mean, Army sized rations of broccoli. If it’s on the menu for one night that week, he buys enough for three nights. I used to roll my eyes, shake my head, and explain to him how much is in a serving of broccoli for two people. I don’t do that anymore. I simply love him.

One day about ten years ago, I was putting the groceries away—and rolling my eyes at the volume of broccoli—when God hit me with a spiritual two-by-four. It came to me that someday Commander Integrity could be gone from my life. I saw myself wandering the produce aisle of a grocery store and having an emotional meltdown in front of the broccoli. I then chastised myself for obsessing over something so stupid when I should have simply been appreciating having this wonderful man in my life. And the fact that he does the shopping. And the cooking. And all the other wonderful things he does for me.

I sat on the floor in front of the vegetable bin of my refrigerator and had a good cry that day. Then I took a vow that every time my husband does something unimportant that annoys me, I will focus on one of the fabulous things he does for me. Did I mention that he scoops and cleans the cat boxes? And cleans house now that I’m teaching again? How about car maintenance? He takes care of all that to ensure that I’m safe on the road, with exactly the right tire pressure. He not only pays the bills, but pays them with his money. And does all the yard work. (It’s true. I sleep with my yard boy.) And he checks Metric Junkie every morning and evening to track my book sales.

And did I mention that he puts up with me? Commander Integrity is a quiet, left-brained engineer. I am a right-brained, zany, impulsive, talkative, ADHD, creative person who is either doing five things at once or sound asleep when work needs to be done. Just tolerating living with me is a full-time job, I’m sure. And he excels at it.

I decided I did not want to be an elderly widow, standing in the produce section, saying, “Why wasn’t I nicer? Why did I complain over the silly, little things he did that annoyed me. I would give anything for him to be here right now, chewing loudly, sniffing repeatedly, and buying too much broccoli. If only I had the past forty years back so I could focus on all the good things he did for me, instead of complaining.”

Thank you, God, for giving me those forty years to do just that. It’s never too late to make this decision. We all do annoying things. And we all love people who do annoying things. If they are unimportant things, this is a way to tune them out and focus on a person’s good qualities instead.

I have a lovely British reader, award-winning, international author, Carrie King (www.joni-pip.com). She lost her husband unexpectedly in an industrial accident. He sounds like he was the perfect husband—and human being. When help arrived at the scene, he directed medical personnel away from him so they could care for those with more urgent needs. Carrie had kissed her husband good-bye and sent him off to work that day. He never returned. Fortunately, Carrie says she has no regrets, only happy memories. She appreciated all he did for her and their family and told him often. Think about the lives lost on 9/11. More than three thousand people went to work and did not go home at the end of the day. Now is the time to appreciate everything about our loved ones.

Now, when my husband comes home with too much broccoli, I just smile and appreciate that I have him—and remember all the wonderful things he does for me. And I plan another meal or two with broccoli.

What annoying habit does your loved one have? And what positive trait of theirs can you focus on instead when they do that irritating thing? I have a $10 Amazon gift card for one lucky commenter.

The 9/11 spirits aboard USS New York are back! Their mission: help Adam, Gwyn, Mike, and Cate find their happily ever afters—and stay alive. As the only person who can see them, Lieutenant Gwyn Pritchard tries to help the spirits move on to the light. That is, when she’s not helping Gunnery Sergeant Adam Connor heal from his PTSD—or falling madly in love with him.

Captain Cate Hawkins, has run from her unconventional childhood by becoming a Marine Corps pilot. But when a mission in East Africa goes awry, she finds herself in a race for her life. After burying the hatchet with Cate, Navy pilot Mike Nikolopoulos wants nothing more than to rescue his new love. If the spirits help him save her, they’ll finally be free to move on. But can Mike overcome a sudden fear of flying to find his way to Cate before terrorists repeat “Black Hawk Down”—with a female American pilot this time?

Twitter: www.@HAshbyAuthor
Facebook: Heather Ashby Author
Amazon: http://amzn.to/1PAHVCj
Nook: http://bit.ly/1FACsDv

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Review - - The Snow Globe

The Snow Globe
By Judith Kinghorn
Publisher: NAL
Release Date: March 3, 2015

It is December 1926, and all of England is abuzz over the mysterious disappearance of celebrated mystery writer Agatha Christie. Speculation is rife, with some suspecting a publicity stunt, others convinced the novelist has drowned herself in the Silent Pool, a natural spring near where her abandoned car was discovered, and still others pointing to the possibility that she was murdered by her adulterous husband, Archie Christie. Eighteen-year-old Daisy Forbes, youngest of the three daughters of Howard Forbes, a wealthy industrialist, and his wife, Mabel, is among the volunteer searchers. Judith Kinghorn uses the search theme and the image of the unfaithful husband to connect the larger world of post-World War I England with the private world of the Forbes family.

The first part of the novel takes place as the family gathers for Christmas at Eden Hall, the grand home Howard Forbes had built shortly after his marriage. The safe, secure world of the family has already been changed by war. Of the four employees who left for military service, only one returned and he is a different person from the one who left. “The war still hung over them all, young and old. Like an ever-present but reticent guest, it stood alone, lingering in a shadowy corner.” Iris, the eldest Forbes daughter, has embraced the new world, flaunting her independence, declaring that she will never marry, and celebrating her life as the owner of a smart shop and a habitué of equally smart clubs where she and her friends drink and dance. Lily, the newly married middle daughter, clings to the remnants of a vanishing world, and Daisy, unformed and uncertain, is still enough of a child to half-believe in the power of wishes.

One of the Forbes’s Christmas traditions involves the display of a snow globe that belongs to Daisy:

Inside the glass orb were tiny pine trees, a replica of Eden Hall in miniature and hand-painted gold stars—each one studded with a tiny diamond at its center. A present to Daisy from her father when she was no more than five years old, the snow globe was brought out each year and placed in the same spot, its limited appearance making it a veritable treasure of Christmas. And Daisy continued to be mesmerized by it. She imagined them all—herself and her family—inside the miniature house: tiny people with giant souls and infinite love in their hearts, safe and warm beneath the glass, beneath those diamonds and gold stars.

Christmas 1926 will shatter Daisy’s illusions about her family. Overhearing a conversation between two long-time servants, she learns that her father has had a mistress for years. Her faith in her adored father’s integrity shattered, she is filled with sympathy for her mother, only to discover that not only is her mother aware of Howard’s infidelity but she has inexplicably invited his mistress, the actress Margot Vincent, and Margot’s son to Eden Hall for Christmas. As if these revelations were not enough for Daisy to deal with, she is also faced with shifts in her relationship with Stephen Jessop, the son of Eden Hall’s cook and gardener and Daisy’s best friend throughout their childhood. She is also uncertain about her feelings for Benedict Gifford, a young man from her father’s company who is clearly interested in marrying her. The presence of the charming and handsome Valentine Vincent, Margot’s son, adds to Daisy’s confusion. Given his connection with her father’s mistress, Daisy feels she should loathe Val, and yet it is he with whom she shares her first kiss.

The holiday ends with the guests returning to their homes and members of the Forbes family scattering. Mabel leaves with her husband’s spinster sister for an extended stay in Italy and France, Daisy joins Iris in London, and Howard is left to care for Eden Hall and his mother-in-law in Mabel’s absence. Stephen too leaves, ostensibly for New Zealand. Before leaving for London, in a gesture heavy with symbolism, Daisy throws away her snow globe.

The second part of the novel takes place in the summer of 1927 as the Forbes family and most of their guests reunite at Eden Hall to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of Mabel and Howard. Although the novel is classified as historical fiction, the resolutions of the storylines in this section are generally of the sort that will have romance readers sighing happily, despite a brief period of dismay when Daisy, piecing pieces of a puzzle together without all the parts, concludes that Stephen is her half-brother.

Kinghorn shows her readers a world caught up in the changes that followed WW I, most obviously in the characters of Stephen and Iris. The former suggests that the barriers between classes were becoming less rigid, and the latter exemplifies the greater freedom young women enjoyed in the era of bobbed hair, rising hemlines, and the early stages of the sexual revolution. Mabel and Howard’s story holds equal interest because they are tied to the values of an older generation but find their lives shaped by the new world as well. Howard’s business is changed radically by the decline of the British Empire, and only his acumen and his willingness to embrace change save the family from great financial losses. Reared to accept her husband’s behavior without protest and to find her purpose in the domestic realm, Mabel refuses to conform. Early in the book, she is described as a “Henry James heroine, one of those formidable women whose sense of duty left them unable to breathe properly,” but unlike those Henry James heroines, Mabel casts off the duties that had defined her and learns to breathe freely.

I would have rated this book more generously had it been billed as the first of a series with the reader reasonably able to suppose a second book would offer fuller development of Iris’s character and a look at what happens to Valentine. Read as a standalone, I found Iris’s character a confusing mix of compassion, anger, and shallowness. Valentine too, although depth is suggested in spots, comes across as essentially shallow. The combination suggests that those who belong to the emerging world are pleasure-seekers of little substance. I found this bothersome.

Nevertheless, Kinghorn gives readers a fascinating look at one family and those around them, and she does so in lucid prose that sometimes possesses a wonderful lyricism.  The historical setting feels authentic, and Daisy’s youthful vulnerability and growth are endearing. I recommend this one to fans of light historical fiction and to fans of 20th-century historical romance.


Monday, April 13, 2015

Sneak Peek - - His First and Last

Terri Osburn's debut Anchor Island series is one of my favorite contemporary, small-town romance series of the past few years. Now that she's left the island after guiding four couples to their respective HEAs, I've been excited to see where this talented author takes us next. The wait ends on April 21st with the publication of His First and Last, the first book in Osburn's new series set in the small Tennessee town of Ardent Springs. Montlake Romance has offered us a sneak peek excerpt today to tide you over until the full book is available in just eight days as well as a chance to win a copy of your very own!

Although born in the Ohio Valley, Amazon and Wall Street Journal bestselling author Terri Osburn found her true home between the covers of her favorite books. Classics like The Wizard of Oz and Little Women filled her childhood, and the genre of romance beckoned during her teen years. While Osburn went on to gain a degree in business administration, she couldn’t shelve her love of love stories. In 2007, she put pen to paper to write her own. Just five years later, she was named a 2012 finalist for the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart Award. The author of the Anchor Island contemporary romance series, Osburn resides in Virginia with her daughter, an assortment of pets, and her bookshelves full of keepers.

Social Networking Links

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6873792.Terri_Osburn

Exclusive Excerpt from HIS FIRST AND LAST
by Terri Osburn

“Spencer,” she said, cutting him off. “I appreciate what you’re doing, but listen to me. I have to stand up against whatever this town throws my way. How they feel about me is my own fault.”

“That was years ago. You were a kid.”

“A hateful kid with a chip on her shoulder and a burr up her butt.” Spencer couldn’t argue with the description. “I told them where to shove it, and they have every right to tell me the same thing. But if I’m going to be here for a while—not that I’m staying forever,” she added, “I can’t keep cowering behind other people.”

“I’m all for you fighting your own battles,” he said. “And I’m glad to see a little of the old Lorelei coming through.”

She shot him a droll look. “Don’t do that.”

“Do what?” he asked, holding back a smile.

“That,” she said, poking him in the arm. “Yes, I’m saying that you were right earlier. Don’t let it go to your head.”

“I wouldn’t think of it.” Spencer slowed to make the turn into the driveway. “But, Lorelei?”

“What,” she mumbled, shifting from side to side as he rolled through the potholes.

“I’ve got your back.”

Lorelei reached for the door handle as he put the truck in park. “And my front if I’d let you.” Hopping out, she straightened her skirt, tugging it down with little success. “We’re not going there, so you can get the idea right out of your head.”

That wasn’t what he’d meant, and the fact that she dismissed his support as some kind of sexual play ticked him off. Spencer dropped onto the gravel and met her as she rounded the truck. “How do you know what ideas are in my head?”

“You’re awake and you’re breathing,” she said, marching past him without so much as a glance.

Spencer watched her sashay across the yard. If she walked any faster, she’d be running. Then it hit him. She was running. If she didn’t have the same ideas in her head, why as she in such a hurry to get away?

“I see there’s one thing that hasn’t changed,” he said, catching up to her as she reached the bottom step. “You still want me.”

“You’re delusional, Boyd,” she said, picking up the pace.

“Admit it, Lorelei.” They stomped onto the porch at the same time. Spencer knew he was playing with fire, but without a push, she’d never admit the truth. “You still feel it.”

“The only thing I feel right now is annoyed.” She reached for the screen, but he slammed it shut, cornering her against the door. “Spencer don’t do this.”

“Don’t do what?” he asked, lost in the heat coming off her body. Lost in the headiness of being so close to the woman he’d never stopped wanting. “Don’t stand so close? Don’t smell so good?” His voice dropped when she licked her lips. “Don’t kiss you right now?”

She made a noise somewhere between a plea and a purr. Though he was well into her space, she didn’t push him away.

“I’ve missed you, too, Lorelei,” he said before leaning in, turning his head left, then right, leaving nothing but a breath between them. He wanted her to come to him, and she did.


Title: His First and Last
Author: Terri Osburn
Release Date: April 21, 2015
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Genre: Contemporary Romance

At eighteen, Lorelei Pratchett couldn’t wait to get out of her hometown. Twelve years later, her Hollywood dreams have fizzled and she’s back—temporarily, she thinks. Though she throws herself into saving the old theater and starting a baking business, small towns have long memories, and Lorelei’s wild past still haunts her. It doesn’t help that her ex-boyfriend, Spencer Boyd, is even hotter, smarter, and more distracting than before.

The fiery Lorelei that Spencer knew years ago may have become closed off and cautious, but their chemistry hasn’t faded one bit. Losing her a second time is unthinkable to him, yet Lorelei is convinced she doesn’t belong in Ardent Springs. Somehow, Spencer needs to show her that everything she needs is right here: family, friendship, new beginnings…and a man who’s never stopped loving her.

Warm, sexy, and laugh-out-loud funny, His First and Last is an irresistible story of first love and second chances.

Do you enjoy second chance romances?

Have you read Terri Osburn's Anchor Island series?

Do you enjoy stories that make you laugh...and sigh...and sometimes cry?

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Friday, April 10, 2015

Maggie Robinson Winner

The winner of a $10 Amazon gift card from Maggie Robinson is:

Cathy P

Congratulations, Cathy!

To claim your gift card, please send an email to

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Review - - This Heart of Mine

This Heart of Mine
By Brenda Novak
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Release Date: March 31, 2015

Phoenix Fuller is returning to Whiskey Creek after seventeen years in prison for vehicular homicide, a crime of which she was innocent. Growing up as trailer trash in a fatherless household with a reclusive, morbidly obese, hoarding mother, Phoenix was a misfit in high school. She could hardly believe it when popular Riley Stinson asked her out. She was devastated when Riley yielded to parental pressure and broke up with her. Unhappy and pregnant, she resorted to foolish behavior such as phone hang-ups and drive-bys, but it was not Phoenix who aimed a car toward Riley’s new girlfriend. However, when the real culprit lied, all of Whiskey Creek, including Riley, was ready to believe Phoenix guilty. But that is behind her now. She is free and what Phoenix wants above all else is to establish a real relationship with Jacob, her sixteen-year-old son who has been brought up by his father. Since Jacob is in Whiskey Creek and so is her mother toward whom she feels some responsibility, Phoenix is there too, hoping to earn enough from the leather jewelry business she began in prison to support herself and rebuild her life.

Riley Stinson was only eighteen when he became a single father. With some help from his parents, he has reared his son, nurturing him, encouraging him, and limiting his contact with the boy’s mother. Now his son is almost a man, a good kid with a promising future. Riley has protected Jake by ensuring that contacts with his mother were minimal, and he is uneasy with Phoenix’s return and her hope for an increased role in Jake’s life. But when a friend displays the compassion for Phoenix that Riley hasn’t allowed himself to feel, he looks at Phoenix through a different lens and remembers why he fell for her all those years ago. He finds himself wanting to help her even if it means standing against those who want her out of their town. As Riley opens his life to Phoenix, he discovers a woman who has the power to change his world and offer him more than he dreamed--if she dares to risk her heart again.

This Heart of Mine is the eighth book in Brenda Novak’s Whiskey Creek series, and this one just may be the most emotionally riveting in the bunch. From the start, Novak has given readers characters different from those who inhabit most small-town romances, including a hero and heroine from the wrong side of town (When the Snow Falls, #2), a heroine in need of a liver transplant (When Summer Comes, #3), a hero struggling with the revelation that his life-long best friend is gay and in love with him (Home to Whiskey Creek, #4), and a heroine who is a former drug addict (Come Home to Me, #6) along with the more common protagonists such as the celebrity, the rape victim, and the abused wife. Riley has been part of the group of high-school friends who remain close as adults throughout the series, and references to Phoenix in prison have been frequent. I have been eager to see what Novak would do with their story.

What she has done is give readers a compelling, original reunion story. Humble is not a word one often associates with romance heroines, but it is an accurate description of Phoenix as the story opens. She indeed has a low estimate of her importance and worth. Such self-abnegation would ordinarily signal a weak heroine, but Phoenix is not weak. To have survived her childhood and her unjust imprisonment and emerged without bitterness and with the will to work toward her goals required a stubborn strength. Most readers will respond to her with sympathy and will find it rewarding to see her triumph in ways that match her name. Riley too may seem weak to have given in to parental pressure, but he was very young at the time. His insistence on being the parent rather than allowing his parents to assume responsibility for his child demonstrates his strength, and the kind of kid Jake turns out to be—kind, responsible, and independent—is a testament to Riley’s character. And when he does see Phoenix clearly, he fights for her against those who condemn her.

If you are a reader who loves small-town romances but would like to see one that expands what that sub-genre can be, I definitely recommend This Heart of Mine. But don’t be surprised if you find yourself so invested in Whiskey Creek that you seek out the earlier books. I am eagerly awaiting A Winter Wedding (October 27, 2015), the ninth book in the series in which Kyle Houseman, a man who, through his own mistake, lost the woman he loved to his step-brother in When We Touch, the novella that introduced the series, finally gets his HEA.


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Manda Collins Winner

The randomly selected winner of a copy of

A Good Rake is Hard to Find by Manda Collins is:



Please send your full name and mailing address to us at

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Today's Special - - Maggie Robinson

Today, we're happy to host Maggie Robinson. Prior to taking up her pen - or keyboard - to create sizzling historical romance, Maggie took turns as a reporter, teacher and librarian. Lately, she's added world traveler to that resume. Maggie joins us today to tell everyone about her newest venture, Just One Touch. I found it to be an absolute delight! 

Welcome back, Maggie!

I’ve lost track at how many times the lovely ladies at the Romance Dish have allowed me to visit. Thank you so much for the continued support! My latest release, Just One Touch, is very much something new for me —an anthology of 10 never-before-published novellas and short stories that were quietly sleeping on my hard drive. I’m a little nervous; this is my first solo foray into self-publishing and I’m totally the one to blame, LOL.

You’ve heard of “books under the bed.” I have at least three full-length historical novels, never-to-be-ever-read by sentient human beings—these were my “baby steps” when I first started writing over a decade ago. They are pretty much a lost cause, even if I had all the time in the world to try to “fix” them…one might say the best way would be to delete the files forever, LOL. One of the heroines has amnesia and winds up in a bordello. You get the gist.

But I also fiddled around with shorter, non-amnesia, non-bordello stories over the years, testing myself by taking a stab at paranormals and contemporaries. A little magic. Some time travel. Shape-shifting panthers!!! They were so much fun to write, and so different from my usual.

Like all of my characters, they kept bouncing around in my head every now and again, reminding me they were waiting. I think most writers fall in love with their heroes and heroines, and it was a bit sad they had nowhere to play. I loved them and wanted to let them loose. So a few months ago I decided to round up the stories, clean them up, polish them until they sparkled and package them into Just One Taste.

The five novellas: A time-traveling, telekinetic hero must change a small town’s history book or lose the librarian love of his long life. An eighteenth century warlock’s widow finds the spell for true love and un-immortality with the help of a hot twenty-first century skeptic. A novice shape-shifting panther discovers his reluctant life mate on a secluded Maine island. A suburban Connecticut divorcee’s high school nemesis heals her heart. And a dominant viscount finds a remarkably submissive wife in Regency England. This last is a Margaret Rowe novella. She is my darker, dirtier alter ego, and I unleashed her from retirement for this collection! Plus there are five fun historical short stories, four with a Christmas theme. The whole collection is over 114,000 words, which is quite a big chunk!

As you can see, you can take a quick bite, or a longer one. I don’t think anthologies get enough love—sometimes we’re too busy to sit through a whole book. And at 99 cents, Just One Taste is kind of a delicious value! I can’t wait for readers to tell me what they liked best!

So far the reviews have been kind of heavenly. Heroes and Heartbreakers says: “This is a wonderful collection of Robinson’s work, as it shows her evolution and experimentation as an author. Perfect for her loyal fans and those who are looking to discover a new author in the romance genre, as it has something for everyone from a sweet contemporary romance to a dark erotic historical romance.

I’m curious—obviously, we are all romance fanatics, but what’s your favorite genre? Paranormal? Historical? Contemporary? I have a $10 Amazon gift card for one commenter!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Review - - The Second Sister

The Second Sister
By Marie Bostwick
Publisher: Kensington
Release Date: March 31, 2015

Lucy Toomey couldn’t wait to leave her hometown of Nilson’s Bay, a small town in Door County, Wisconsin. She found an absorbing career as a campaign strategist on the staff of Tom Ryland and put in thirteen-hour work days through six campaigns over thirteen years to help Ryland rise from district politics to the Colorado governor’s mansion to a viable candidacy for president of the United States. Her work has also served as her excuse for not returning to Nilson’s Bay, not even for a rare visit. Despite the pleas of her sister Alice, Lucy hasn’t been back to Door County since her parents’ death in an automobile accident eight years ago, and then she returned only for the funeral. Frequent telephone conversations and annual vacations at various points have kept her relationship with Alice close, but with Alice’s impairment, their relationship is hardly that of equals. With her already exhausting schedule picking up speed a week before the November election, Lucy puts Alice off when her older sister calls asking that they spend Christmas in Nilson’s Bay. Less than a week later, Lucy gets word that Alice has been rushed to the hospital. Stuck in an airport on her way to her sister’s side, she receives two pieces of news within minutes of one another: her candidate has won his presidential bid and her sister is dead.

In death, Alice accomplishes what she could not in life. She forces Lucy to come home, not just for the funeral but for eight weeks during the first year after Alice’s death, one of which must be Christmas week. If Lucy refuses to comply with this requirement, an animal rescue organization will become heir to the lakeside cottage Alice called home, a cottage on land worth a half million dollars. Lucy is not comfortable thinking about the cottage where generations of her family lived being bulldozed by developers. Since President-Elect Ryland has insisted that she take at least a month off before she joins him in January in Washington as the newly appointed deputy assistant for intergovernmental affairs, Lucy decides to spend the weeks before then in Nilson’s Bay.

It is not something Lucy anticipates with any happiness. Her childhood was blighted by her father’s undisguised preference for Alice, who was prettier, smarter, and more obedient than the younger Lucy. When a swimming accident left Alice forever arrested mentally and emotionally as the teenager she was when the accident occurred, the Toomey parents focused more than ever on Alice. Lucy had even more reason to want to escape her home. Both Alice and Barney Purcell, Lucy’s apple-farmer cousin, insisted that Lucy was “remembering wrong,” that she had forgotten the good things about life in Door County. As Lucy gets to know three relative newcomers adopted by Alice and known collectively as the FOA (Friends of Alice) and as she reconnects with people she once knew, she discovers her sister and cousin were right. The people of Nilson’s Bay and the place itself have definite charms. The FOA—Daphne Olsen, a Shakespeare-quoting single mother with three daughters; Rinda Charles, an African American evangelical Christian; and Celia Brevard, a middle-school art teacher with a unicorn tattoo—become Lucy’s friends too, teaching her to quilt and sharing their lives and their advice. Peter Swenson, Alice’s lawyer and Lucy’s former crush, becomes more than a friend. Lucy also discovers Alice in a way she never knew her in real life, including a secret Alice had held close for sixteen years. But are all these ties sufficient to make Lucy turn down a West Wing job and plant roots in the hometown she once longed to leave behind forever?

The Second Sister is the story of a woman too busy with a job that substitutes for a life and too determined to leave her past in the past to nurture the tie most important to her or to develop new ones. Although Lucy maintains contact with Alice, she never really listens to her and she knows little of the full life Alice, with all her limitations, has created for herself. Lucy has never formed new relationships either. Her closest friend is a much older lobbyist with whom she shares interests in politics and baseball. Romance has been limited to a series of brief relationships unmourned by either party when they end. Although the relationship between Lucy and Peter adds a strong romantic element to the story, it is essentially a women’s fiction tale of one woman’s journey of growth and self-discovery, much of it connected to sisterhood and female friendships. It is an engaging, emotional novel, one readers of Emilie Richards and the early Kristin Hannah should enjoy.


Saturday, April 4, 2015

Review - - The Diabolical Miss Hyde

The Diabolical Miss Hyde
By Viola Carr
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Release Date: February 10, 2015

The Diabolical Miss Hyde, as one might expect from the title, plays off the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  Dr. Eliza Jekyll, Henry Jekyll’s daughter, works as a consulting detective for London’s Metropolitan Police.  Or, to be more accurate, for the one policeman not too proud to ask for help from a woman.

Carr builds a rich and interesting world in Victorian London. In this society, science rules.  Anything smacking of the paranormal or of magic is ruthlessly suppressed.  To go against scientific orthodoxy is to invite a death sentence, and this British government doesn’t mess around.  Condemned prisoners are burned at the stake in front of St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Like her father, Eliza has an alter ego, Lizzie Hyde. Eliza takes an alchemical serum to control her headaches and, sometimes, to trigger Lizzie’s appearance as the dominant personality.  She also occasionally uses it while investigating cases. Alchemy is a capital crime, so Eliza is always at risk.

Orthodoxy is enforced by officers of the Royal Society.  When one of them, Captain Lafayette, takes an interest in Eliza’s cases, she is sure the Society is onto her and merely seeking proof before ordering her execution.  To her aggravation, attraction sparks between her and the captain, and she gradually realizes he is not what he seems.

Eliza is assisting with the pursuit of a man known as the Chopper because he maims and murders women in the back alleys of London.  As the case develops, she needs Lizzie’s help because her other self is at home in the slums and back alleys as Eliza never can be.  Every time she lets Lizzie out, though, the risk of discovery increases.

This is not the first mass murderer Eliza has helped pursue.  The last one now resides in Bethlem Hospital for the Criminally Insane, better known as Bedlam, and he is strongly attracted to Eliza, who works as a consulting physician there.

The murder case progresses with interesting twists and turns, and the mystery deepens as Eliza makes her rounds at Bedlam.  Everything comes together in a twist that owes something to Victorian literature, but saying how it does would spoil the surprise.  The satisfying conclusion is tense, dangerous, and action-packed.

The one thing about this book some readers may find off-putting is the duality of the Eliza/Lizzie point of view.  When Eliza is dominant, the scenes are written in third person.  Lizzie, on the other hand, speaks in a rough first person narrative.  The shift felt jarring at first but became less noticeable as the story progressed.

This is steampunk science fiction, not romance, though there are romantic bits laced through the story.  The characters are sympathetic, and the story is well constructed without being predictable.

~Nancy Northcott

Friday, April 3, 2015

New Releases winners!

The January winner of a random book from my prize stash is:


The February winner of a random book from my prize stash is:


The March winner of a random book from my prize stash is:

Helen L.

Congrats, Glenda, Bube, and Helen! Please send your full name and address to theromancedish AT gmail DOT com with "Andrea's winner" as the subject and I'll get your book in the mail. Thanks to everyone who stopped by!