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Friday, March 27, 2015

Review - - It Started with a Scandal

It Started with a Scandal
By Julie Anne Long
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: March 31, 2015

Philippe Lavay, Prince of the House of Bourbon, barely escaped with his life when he was attacked by a gang of six cutthroats determined to end his work for the English Crown. He has come to Pennyroyal Green, home of his close friends the Earl of Ardmay and his countess, the former Violet Redmond (I Kissed an Earl), to recover from his wounds and to consider options for his future. Since his uncertain temper encourages brief tenures for the servants he hires, he is in dire need of a housekeeper to restore order to his chaotic household and not incidentally to make Lavay’s recuperation somewhat more bearable.

Enter Elise Fountain. Elise, the unmarried mother of a six-year-old son, lost both her home and her livelihood when the vindictiveness of a student’s sister forced Miss Endicott of Miss Endicott’s School for Girls to fire Elise, albeit reluctantly. Favors were called in and Redmond influence secured Elise an interview for the position of Lavay’s housekeeper. She refuses to be intimidated—at least visibly--by her own lack of experience or by the surly nobleman with a reputation for throwing objects at his housekeepers. When Lavay questions her about her qualifications, she responds,

“I’ve taught classrooms full of unruly children possessed of a variety of natures, and I know how to make them listen and learn and like it. I understand the concerns and politics of household staff and am prepared to address and manage them. I have experienced a number of, shall we say, economic conditions, and can adjust to any of them. I am scrupulously organized. All in all I have a very good brain. And I am afraid of nothing.”

Of course she does have fears, and one of them is the fear of not securing the position she needs desperately.

Despite her calm façade, Lavay recognizes her desperation. He also recognizes her breeding and her pride. He offers her the housekeeper’s job on a two-week trial. In the weeks that follow, Elise transforms Lavay’s home and his life. Untrimmed candles, inadequate fires, and layers of dust have been the norm as lazy servants neglected their responsibilities and waited for the temporary tenant to leave. Elise organizes the servants, challenges them, appeals to their pride and soon has them working diligently, except for the fierce, thieving cook whom Elise fires but not before rescuing the treasures the cook has stolen from Lavay. He cannot ignore the newly industrious servants, the clean and shining house, or the plentiful apple tarts that are Elise’s specialty. Neither can he ignore Elise. In fact, his awareness of her increases with every contact, and he cannot resist ringing the bell that ensures their contacts are frequent. Elise is no less aware of him. “"Why make me a woman, why make him a man, why make him charming, why make it such a pleasure to touch him, why must it feel as though I'm touching flame, why must I be tempted like this?” she questions.

This unlikely pair is surprisingly similar. Both have lost their homes and family members, and both are unalterably committed to protecting their surviving family. But the gap between a French aristocrat and his housekeeper is huge, and class difference is not the only obstacle between them. Lavay has devoted his life to restoring the property his family lost in the French Revolution so that his grandfather and his younger sister can live the life to which their birth entitles them, and he must act quickly to secure the family estate before it is sold to the highest bidder. Such action requires an immediate and sizeable infusion of funds. Since his injuries make returning to the dangerous work that almost killed him a foolish risk, he is left with the option of marriage to an old friend who is willing to exchange her family’s wealth for his family’s status. Elise, having been abandoned by her son’s father and disowned by her parents, is wary of relationships and ever conscious of her responsibility to avoid anything that would make her son’s life more difficult. Passion and love, powerful as they are, cannot erase these barriers.

I admit to being a Julie Anne Long fan from her debut book on and to waiting impatiently for the next Pennyroyal Green book since I read the first one in the series. But It Started with a Scandal exceeded even my high expectations. It is an extraordinary book. Lavay in this book, wounded in body and spirit, is a more complex and substantive character than a reader encountering him as a handsome charmer with a dangerous edge in I Kissed an Earl would have guessed. Elise is the kind of strong heroine I most admire, one whose strength stems from her growth, her tenacity, and her ability to prevail against the odds. Long has a gift for capturing her reader’s interest in a few words that offer a compelling invitation to discover more about the characters, and she uses that gift to its full potential in this book.  Lavay is “not so much rough-hewn as sleek and hard as a rock polished over and over by wave after wave of time and experience.” Elise’s life as housekeeper and mother is “stitched together by an intricate network of barters and favors of time and skill and knowledge, of baked goods and canned goods, unused bolts of cloth and hand-me-downs, and herbs and cheeses and books and advice and tutoring.” If Lavay and Elise are fascinating as individuals, they are even more so as a couple. This book could serve as a textbook for aspiring romance writers who need to study how to maintain sexual tension. The pages almost smoke although consummation scenes are few.

Secondary characters are also vividly drawn. Young Jack is an engaging mix of energy, imagination, curiosity, vulnerability, and love. Some of my favorite scenes are those between him and his “Giant” as he claims his own place in Lavay’s heart. Seamus Duggan, whom some readers will remember as the heroine’s brother in A Notorious Countess Confesses, is an Irish rogue with a good heart and a touch of melancholy. And Everseas and Redmonds make brief appearances and are alluded to in scattered references that range from Jack’s affection for “The Ballad of Colin Eversea” to an act by Lavay that sets up The Legend of Lyon Redmond, the eleventh book that will be released September 29, 2015.

I give It Started with a Scandal my highest recommendation. It is one of the best books in one of the best series in historical romance fiction. If you enjoy historical romance with characters who jump off the page and into your mind and heart and story lines that demand your investment, you owe it to yourself to read this book. I plan to reread it just as soon as I add it to my short list of the Best of 2015.


Thursday, March 26, 2015

And The Finalists Are...

For romance authors and those of us who love reading their books, today is the day!  Today, Romance Writers of America® (RWA) will announce the finalists for the best books and best unpublished manuscripts of 2014. Authors hover anxiously over their phones while readers excitedly surf websites and social media to discover which books make the finals...and which don't.  We'll be following the announcements here at TRD and dishing about our favorite books published last year.  And, because today is all about favorite romance books, we'll be giving away some books too.  We hope you'll stop by frequently throughout the day!

We'll fill in the finalists for each of the categories below as they are announced but I'm sure we all have our own thoughts about what books published in 2014 should be in those slots. 

Tell us about your favorite books published in 2014 and which of them you'd like to see listed below. 

Tell us about the books you think will be listed below. 

Share your thoughts about the books that are announced today as finalists.  Which ones do you think are favorites to win? 

The more comments you leave, the more chances you have to win!  

Three randomly chosen people who leave a comment will receive a package of books. (US only)

One randomly chosen person who leaves a comment will receive a book of our choice from bookdepository.com. (International)



Category descriptions are from the RWA RITA® guidelines.

Novels that are set from 1950 to the present that focus primarily on the romantic relationship and that are between 56,000 and 84,000 words in length.

Her Kind of Trouble by Sarah Mayberry
Starting With June by Emilie Rose
Carolina Man by Virginia Kantra
Reforming the Playboy by Inara Scott
Love with a Perfect Cowboy by Lori Wilde
Her Cowboy Hero by Tanya Michaels
Worth the Fall by Catie Quinn
Once a Family by Tara Taylor Quinn
Her Temporary Hero by Jennifer Apodaca
One in a Million by Jill Shalvis

Novels that are set from 1950 to the present that focus primarily on the romantic relationship and that are between 40,000 and 56,000 words in length.

Enemies With Benefits by Louisa George
Her Unforgettable Royal Lover by Merline Lovelace
The Bachelor Doctor's Bride by Caro Carson
A Texas Rescue Christmas by Caro Carson
What the Greek Can't Resist by Maya Blake
Yours Forever by Farrah Rochon
Bad Girl by Julie Miller
Blueprint for a Kiss by Nancy Warren
The Headmaster by Tiffany Reisz
A Bride for the Blacksheep Brother by Emily McKay


Baby, It's You by Jane Graves
The Best Medicine by Tracy Brogan
Fever Pitch by Heidi Cullinan
The Vixen and the Vet by Kate Regnery
Somebody Like You by Beth Vogt
Slow Tango with a Prince by Nicole Burnham
The Place I Belong by Nancy Herkness
The Sweetest September by Liz Talley
It's in His Kiss by Jill Shalvis 
To Scotland With Love by Patience Griffin

Novels in which strong, often explicit, sexual interaction is an inherent part of the story, character growth, and relationship development and could not be removed without damaging the storyline. These novels may contain elements of other romance subgenres (such as paranormal, historical, etc.).

Wanted by J. Kenner
Purely Professional by Elia Winters
Call Me Saffron by Talia Surova
Bonds of Denial by Lynda Aicher
The Saint by Tiffany Reisz

Novels that are set prior to 1950 and that are longer than 89,000 words

A Place Called Harmony by Jodi Thomas
Douglas: Lord of Heartache by Grace Burrowes
Worth: Lord of Reckoning by Grace Burrowes
Where the Horses Run by Kaki Warner
Fool Me Twice by Meredith Duran

Novels that are set prior to 1950 and that are between 40,000 and 89,000 words.

Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare
Darling Beast by Elizabeth Hoyt
The Gentleman Rogue by Margaret McPhee
The Bells of Times Square by Amy Lane
The Cowboy's Reluctant Bride by Debra Cowan
In Bed with a Rogue by Samantha Grace 

Novels in which religious or spiritual beliefs (in the context of any religious or spiritual belief system) are an integral part of the plot.

The Widow's Suitor by Rose Ross Zediker
Deceived by Irene Hannon
Hope at Dawn by Stacy Henrie
Huckleberry Summer by Jennifer Beckstrand
For Such a Time by Kate Breslin

Novels in which the future, a fantasy world, or paranormal elements are an integral part of the plot.

Forged by Desire by Bec McMaster
The Darkest Touch by Gena Showalter
Evernight by Kristen Callihan
My Lady, My Lord by Katharine Ashe
Be Careful What You Kiss For by Jane Lynne Daniels
Bitter Spirits by Jenn Bennett
Burn for Me by Cynthia Eden
Mind Sweeper by AE Jones

Novellas that focus primarily on the romantic relationship.

"A Yorkshire Christmas" by Kate Hewitt in ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS
Pushing the Line by Kimberly Kincaid
Kiss and Tell by Grace Burrowes
"A Love Letter to the Editor" by Robin Lee Hatcher in Four Weddings & a Kiss
"Will You Be My Wi-Fi?" by Caroline Linden in At the Billionaire's Wedding
Ten Rules to Sex Up a Blind Date by Heidi Rice
"A Game of Brides" by Megan Crane in Love Me True
His Road Home by Anna Richland
The Last Wicked Scoundrel by Lorraine Heath
Her Best Laid Plans by Cara McKenna

Novels in which suspense, mystery, or thriller elements constitute an integral part of the plot.

Concealed in Death by J.D. Robb
You're Not Safe by Mary Burton
Into the Shadows by Carolyn Crane
Midnight Action by Elle Kennedy
Honor Reclaimed by Tonya Burrows
Forged in Ash by Trish McCallan
Grave Danger by Katy Lee
Lock and Load by Kimberley Troutte

Novels in which young adult life is an integral part of the plot.

Boys Like You by Juliana Stone
Plus One by Elizabeth Fama
Run to You by Clara Kensie
Some Boys by Patty Blount

A Novel entered in another contest category. To be eligible, the author (or authors in the case of a writing team) shall not have had any other novel or novella previously published in any format.

The Smuggler Wore Silk by Alyssa Alexander
A Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev
Purely Professional by Elia Winters
Mind Sweeper by AE Jones
Run to You by Clara Kensie
To Scotland With Love by Patience Griffin

The Dress Thief by Natalie Meg Evans
Fake by Beck Nicholas
For Such a Time by Kate Breslin



"Sorting out the Kinks" by Elle Mason
"Indulge My Fantasy" by Caroline Bradley
"A Deal for Love" by Michele  Arris


"The Reunion" by Sara Leyton
"A Proper Scandal" by Laurie Benson
"Sawyer's Rose" by Kim Turner
"A Question of Loyalty" by Ellen Lindseth
"A Dangerous Chemistry" by Marnee Blake
"A Convenient Engagement" by Kimberly Bell
"Never Dare a Wicked Earl" by Renee Ann Miller
"Rescuing Mr. Gracey" by E K Barnes


"Better Dead" by Pamela Kopfler
"Undercover Enchanter" by Melanie McCarthy
"Howlin Hearts" by Kristal Hollis
"The Magical Librarian of Tulsa, Oklahoma" by Nancy Coiner
"Demons Don't" by Jeanne Oates Estridge
"Magic City" by Heather Leonard
"Mapping Fate" by Kimberly MacCarron
"Coyote Walks" by Maria Powers
"Stone Hunter" by Tara Sheets


"Deception Island" by Bronwyn McEvoy
"Murder, Curlers, and Cream" by Arlene McFarlane
"Scandal" by Jessica Darago
"A Shot Worth Taking" by Tracy Poole
"Every Unworthy Thing" by Sharon Wray
"Hope Craves an Execution" by Sharon Wray


"Call Me Mrs. Whitlock" by Kimberly Buckner
"Chasing Crazy" by Kelly Siskind "Port Fairlight Summer" by Jen Gilroy
"Puppy Love" by Kelly Farmer
"Mace, Men and Margaritas" by Jennifer Brodie
"The House of D'Innocenzi" by Susan J. Bickford
"His Perfect Partner" by Priscilla Kissinger
"Good Girl's Guide to Talking Dirty" by Alice Faris
"Homecoming" by Jo Anne Banker
"Caught on Film" by Arianna James


"At Her Service" by Mia Sosa
"A Night at the Rosemont" by Mary Oldham
"Winning Her Over" by Alexa Rowan
"Waiting for Meggie" by Debra Moser
"Welcome Home, Katie Gallagher" by Seana Kelly


"Our Souls to Keep" by Stephanie Winkelhake
"When I Wake" by Stephanie Winkelhake
"Mind Traveler" by Diana Munoz Stewart
"The Culloden Immortals"  by TL Sumner
"The Jade Quest" by Mary Sullivan
"Sharing Hunter" by Julie Glover

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Flirting with Fire Winner

The randomly chosen winner of a copy of

Flirting with Fire by Kate Meader is:

Debbie Oxier

Congratulations, Debbie!

Please send your full name and mailing address to us at:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

Review - - Flirting with Fire

Flirting with Fire
By Kate Meader
Hot in Chicago - Book 1
Publisher: Pocket
Release Date: March 24, 2015

California girl, Kinsey Taylor has "temporary" written all over her. After uprooting her life and moving to Chicago to marry her boyfriend of ten years, she finds herself dumped three weeks before the wedding. She's living in a corporate apartment, working in the mayor's PR department and has no interest in jumping into a new relationship anytime soon. But then she's assigned to fix the PR nightmare caused when a bar fight between firefighter Luke Almeida and a police officer hits YouTube and goes viral. She's not expecting to be attracted to a gorgeous man who she surmises has anger management issues. She's especially not expecting to like him, understand his reasons for slugging the cop or discover that he's so much more than what she first anticipated.

For Luke Almeida, family is everything. The protection of his Dempsey foster siblings is his first priority which is why he now finds himself at the mercy of the mayor's PR guru. Kinsey Taylor is a take-no-prisoners PR hot shot who turns his life upside down with calendar shoots that make him the laughing stock of the fire department and community events that force him to play nice with the cop who betrayed him and started the whole mess. He goes along with her plans in order to save his job and keep his firefighting family together but gradually his reasons for working with her turn personal. Desire flares, he starts to like her, respect her and, amazingly, thoughts of forever start whispering in his mind...and heart. But he's been burned before and so has she. They may be burning up the sheets but will either of them have the courage to lay their hearts on the line?

Kate Meader captured my interest with the hot, sexy cover of Flirting with Fire then reeled me in with her fast-paced story, sizzling chemistry and wonderfully complex characters. The Dempsey fosters are related not by blood but by heart and choice and, many times, those bonds are the strongest. In this first book we're also introduced to siblings, Wyatt (the quiet, introspective one) Alexandra "Alex" (the woman fighting for her place in a man's profession) and Gage (young, golden and openly gay) and given glimpses into their lives, personalities and future stories.  The fourth living sibling, Beck makes an appearance near the end of the book. Beck's story is told in Meader's novella, "Rekindle the Flame," part of the Baby, It's Cold Outside anthology released in October 2014.

Along with the heat and heart, there's also a fair amount of humor in this book. I love a story that touches all of my emotions and characters who carve out their own special place in my reader's heart. The Dempseys are well on their way to doing just that. I'm looking forward to Alex's story, Playing with Fire, scheduled for release September 29, 2015 and can't wait to find out if my suspicions about Wyatt's heroine turn out to be true.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Review - - Last One Home

Last One Home
By Debbie Macomber
Publisher: Ballantine
Release Date: March 10, 2015

Cassie Carter grew up in a middle-class home with parents who loved one another and their three daughters and with an older and younger sister with whom she shared close ties despite sibling rivalry fueled by Cassie’s status as her father’s favorite. But at eighteen, with college on a four-year scholarship the next step in her life, a pregnant Cassie ran away to marry a man her father had forbidden her to see. Her husband insisted his job opportunities were better in Florida, about as far from her family’s home in Spokane, Washington as one could get. Instead of the happily-ever-after life of which she had dreamed, Cassie found herself trapped in a nightmare. Estranged from her family and isolated from her new community, she was left with no support system when her husband became physically abusive. Her daughter Amiee was seven when Cassie realized that her very life was at stake. Escaping with Amiee through the window of a locked bedroom, she found sanctuary in a shelter for women.

After testifying against her husband and seeing him sentenced to prison, Cassie began to build a new life for herself and her child. Rejected by her family who knew nothing of all she had endured, she depended upon food stamps and government housing while she earned a certificate in cosmetology. Five years later, she has created a home for her and Amiee in a modest apartment in Seattle where Cassie works as a hairstylist and volunteers as a victim advocate at a local shelter. She still struggles to make ends meet, but she dreams of going to college and getting a degree in social work.

Cassie’s life takes a turn for the better when she is approved for a Habitat for Humanity home and her older sister Karen contacts her. Although Karen is far from effusive when the sisters talk, Cassie is overjoyed with even a tenuous connection. Except for news of her parents’ deaths, Cassie has had almost no contact with her family since she left home more than a dozen years ago. Missing them has been a constant ache, and the possibility of providing her daughter not only with a new home but also the family Amiee hungers for seems to Cassie almost too good to be true.

Reestablishing a relationship with her sisters is not easy. Old resentments and guilt linger. Cassie, who thinks her sisters have near perfect lives, has told them nothing about the reasons for her split from her husband, but they too are struggling with problems. Karen, happily married with two children, discovers that her husband has lost his job but is too ashamed to tell her, and Nichole, mother of a toddler, finds out that her husband is following the example of his chronically unfaithful father. Cassie is also forced to admit that her first impression of Steve Brody, a successful contractor who is her supervisor as she puts in her sweat equity for the Habitat for Humanity program, is wrong. Rather than the judgmental jerk he seems to be initially, he is a still grieving widower who proves himself a friend when Cassie needs one. Steve is interested in becoming more than Cassie’s friend, but even though the attraction is strong and Amiee approves of the match, Cassie’s past has left her fearful and determined to protect her independence.

Last One Home is a rare standalone from Debbie Macomber whose popular series have made her a perennial on bestseller lists, but Ms. Macomber’s fans will find this story just as rewarding as her more usual fare. Cassie is a compelling character, and although the abused wife as heroine is a staple in romance and women’s fiction, Cassie’s lack of family and friends as well as her socio-economic status make her an exception.

She stayed because she didn’t feel it was an option to leave. She had no job, no money, no friends, no connections. She was completely dependent on Duke, and for more than her and Amiee’s physical well-being. Emotionally she was tied to Duke, but those ties were like barbed-wire fencing, ties that brought her nothing but pain. Still, she hadn’t been able to find the courage to leave, not until it became a life-or-death situation.

Her hard work, her love for her daughter, and her refusal to be defeated by her own bad choices in the past make Cassie an easy character to admire.  Although her relationship with Steve gives the novel a strong romantic thread, Cassie’s struggle to give her daughter a safe and happy life and the renewal of sisterly bonds lie at the center of this story.  Amiee with her eagerness to know more about her aunts and cousins, her enthusiasm for KFC, and her chatter about her BFF is an endearing and believable character, and the confining and defining family roles of childhood that complicate the reunion of Cassie and her sisters as much as their years of separation also has the ring of truth.

If you are a Macomber fan, you will be happy with this book. Readers who like women’s fiction stories that focus on the triumph of a female protagonist over obstacles that would have defeated a lesser spirit will enjoy Cassie’s story. Last One Home is likely to add another title to Debbie’s Macomber’s long list of beloved books.


Monday, March 23, 2015

Review - - Four Nights with the Duke

Four Nights with the Duke
By Eloisa James
Desperate Duchesses by the Numbers, Book 2
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: March 31, 2015

I have been a big fan of Eloisa James ever since I first heard of her and started reading her books.  In fact, I joined the Bulletin Board she started with Julia Quinn, and had a wonderful time there chatting and interacting with Eloisa, JQ, and all of the other wonderful ladies who posted there. In fact, I owe Eloisa a big thank you for all of the friendships I established as part of being on the BB-including Andrea and PJ here at The Romance Dish!  My favorite Eloisa books would no doubt be her Desperate Duchesses series. I was so happy that she revisited that world with Three Weeks with Lady X last year. With her latest book, Four Nights with the Duke, Eloisa deftly shows once again why she’s considered one of the biggest stars in the romance genre.

Four Nights with the Duke  is the story of Evander “Vander” Septimus Brody, the Duke of Pindar, and Miss Emilia “Mia” Carrington.  Right off the bat, we see that Vander and Mia have a complicated and tumultuous history. Mia’s father and Vander’s mother had been carrying on a long sordid affaire for years that made them scandalous in the eyes of the ton, a fact which Vander bitterly resents. Making matters worse, at the start of the book, Mia essentially blackmails Vander into marrying her.  One can only wonder how Mia and Vander could possibly overcome all of these obstacles and end up happily together.

Mia has been in love with Vander since she was fifteen years old. However a horrible incident left Mia completely humiliated and determined to never have anything to do with him ever again. But desperate circumstances force Mia to confront Vander and compel him to marry her, by whatever means necessary.  While the idea of blackmailing someone into marriage is no doubt distasteful, Mia has a good reason. According to her brother’s will, she must be married in order to keep guardianship of her beloved nephew, Charles Wallace.  I really loved Mia as a heroine, despite the inauspicious start to her and Vander’s marriage. I loved how devoted she was to Charles Wallace, her strength and determination, her willingness to accept her share of blame and responsibility for the state of her marriage, and her refusal to settle for a marriage between the sheets, no matter how irresistible she and Vander find each other. I cheered for her when she demands Vander not just lust after her, but respect and trust her too.

We first met Vander in Three Weeks with Lady X. Even then, it was obvious that Vander had some deep inner demons he was wrestling with.  At first, I totally sympathized with Vander’s anger and resentment at being manipulated and blackmailed by Mia, but in true Eloisa fashion, we see how she chips away at that wall and has Vander come to see and embrace that Mia is his once in a lifetime love. His gesture to Mia at the end was heartwarming and endearing.  I absolutely fell in love with him for many reasons, but especially because of how great he was with Charles Wallace.

One of my favorite aspects of the book is how Eloisa expertly weaves in elements of their history, their parents’ history , and how that affected how Mia and Vander think and act today.  What I loved most about this book is that Eloisa deals with real obstacles that all couples confront, and not so over the top contrived scenarios that push a reader’s suspension of disbelief. Mia and Vander struggle with communication, trust, respect, and understanding each other.   These are issues that are at the core of every relationship, and things everyone can relate to. Vander and Mia often misinterpret the other’s meanings and motives.

There are so many great secondary characters in this book. Charles Wallace definitely stole my heart, and as always, it was great to see cameos from the hero and heroines from previous novels. I loved seeing Villiers in particular, though naturally he dominated and stole every scene he was in.

I  definitely recommend Four Nights with the Duke for anyone who enjoys a wonderfully written romance with complex realistic characters who will win your heart. I am looking forward to seeing what comes next from Eloisa. I have a feeling that Edward Reeves may be the hero of her next book!


Saturday, March 21, 2015

Joan Kayse Winner

The winner of a copy of

Ruarc:Bound by Stone is:


Congratulations, Glenda! 

Please send us an email with the following information:

Choice of Kindle, Nook or print copy of the book and the appropriate

e-mail or snail mail address.

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

Wendy LaCapra Winners

The randomly chosen winners of a Kindle copy of 

LADY VICE by Wendy LaCapra are:



MsAwesome (JoannaM)


Please send your email address to us at:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Today's Special - - Spotlight on Kate Meader

Today we're shining the spotlight on contemporary romance author Kate Meader.  Originally from Ireland, Kate cut her romance reader teeth on Maeve Binchy and Jilly Cooper novels, with some Mills & Boon thrown in for variety. Give her tales about brooding mill owners, oversexed equestrians, and men who can rock an apron or a fire hose, and she's there. Now based in Chicago, she writes sexy contemporary romance with alpha heroes and strong heroines who can match their men quip for quip. Visit her at KateMeader.com.

In Kate Meader's first trilogy her characters were heating things up in the kitchen. This time around, she's bringing us the Dempsey's, a family of firefighting foster siblings in her Hot in Chicago series. Check out the excerpt from the first book in the series, FLIRTING WITH FIRE, below. But first, Kate chats about her favorite book boyfriends. So who makes your list, Kate?

My Favorite Book Boyfriends

So many fictional boyfriends, so little time. Here are a few of my favorites, in no particular order (okay, I’d cut you to get with Hardy Cates):

1.  Rowdy Yates from Getting Rowdy by Lori Foster.

With his sketchy past, and his penchant for hitting first and asking questions later, Rowdy is a great protective alpha. And the cover for this book is perfection.

2.   Flynn from Willing Victim by Cara McKenna.

Construction worker-boxer with a taste for rough role-playing, and while we never get inside his head, McKenna lays it all out there. A Boston bruiser I wouldn’t mind meeting in a dark alley. 

3.   Hardy Cates from Blue Eyed Devil by Lisa Kleypas.

Rich, Texan, from the wrong side of the tracks, and so caring of the heroine. LK writes the caretaker alpha so well, and Hardy is my favorite of her heroes.

4.  Joey Miller from Collision Course by K.A. Mitchell.

This is an M/M romance and while some people probably prefer the brooding Aaron of this pairing, I love, love, love the manipulative, puppy-eyed, totally grounded Joey. A surfing social worker, he’s the perfect match for a guy who’s been screwed over by the social services system.

5.  Lord Vere from His at Night by Sherry Thomas.

He’s a secret agent posing as a society idiot! What’s not to love?


FLIRTING WITH FIRE (Pocket Books; On-sale: March 24, 2015is the first book in Kate Meader's new contemporary romance series, Hot in Chicago.  The series features a group of firefighting foster siblings and their blazing hot love interests. Here's the back cover blurb:

Savvy PR guru Kinsey Taylor has always defined herself by her career, not her gender. That is, until she moved from San Francisco to Chicago to be with her fiancé who thought she wasn’t taking her “job” of supporting him in his high-powered career seriously enough—and promptly dumped her for a more supportive and “feminine” nurse. Now, as the new assistant press secretary to Chicago’s dynamic mayor, she’s determined to keep her eye on the prize: no time to feel inferior because she’s a strong, kick-ass woman, and certainly no time for men.

But that all changes when she meets Luke Almeida, a firefighter as searingly sexy as he is quick-tempered. He’s also the second oldest of the Firefightin’ Dempseys, a family of foster siblings who have committed their lives to the service—if Luke’s antics don’t get him fired first. When Luke goes one step too far and gets into a bar brawl with the Chicago Police Department, Kinsey marches into Luke’s firehouse and lays down the law on orders from the mayor. But at Engine Co. 6, Luke Almeida is the law. And he’s not about to let Kinsey make the rules.


Excerpt #3

Stunned senseless, she plowed aimlessly over the hot sand, its burn on her feet a match to the scorch marks over her heart. She flexed the hand she had used to strike her gutless ex. It hurt—all of it. Her head, her chest, her knuckles, which looked as raw as she felt. Her throat was thick with unshed tears, which she desperately staved off by making each step more deliberately forceful than the last. Walk it off, Taylor.
Walk. It. Off.
“Hey, watch it,” an aggrieved voice called out. She might have trod on the voice’s towel. Or his sand castle. Or his stupid face.
Fury fueled her off-kilter pivot. She refused to let one more man walk all over her today. “Watch what, asshole?”
Any forthcoming answer was lost on the lake breeze as a strong arm circled her waist and gathered her to a solid chest.
The comfort she took in his body was more shocking than the events that had led to this moment. For too long, she had been starved of a man’s affectionate touch. For too long, she had relied on her own resources. It felt so good to rely on someone else for a little while.
Stiffness in every part of her gradually gave way to Luke’s strength, a muscularity that was as much mental as it was physical. It must have taken sincere mental strength not to want to comment on the scene he had just witnessed. Make her feel better with murmured platitudes. Fill the gnawing silence. Instead, he was just there for her, his hold tight and sure and a touch rougher than she was used to.
It was perfect.
Peeking up from where her head was burrowed into his left pec, she found those lake-blue eyes holding her prisoner. While the competitor in her was tempted to see how long this stare down could last, the woman in her needed something else. Something only this man could give.
“I’ve got you,” he whispered.
With strong hands on her butt, he raised her body, her lips to his, and the resulting union streaked through her like fire. Their mouths might be made for sniping, but mostly they were made for this. Better they should be used for this. A perfect melding of lips and tongues, the tangle so sweet, the chemistry so right.
I’ve got you. For the first time in what seemed like forever, someone had her.

Readers, who are your favorite book boyfriends? Do you love firefighter heroes as much as I do? Have you read Kate's books yet? 

We have a copy of FLIRTING WITH FIRE for one randomly chosen person who leaves a comment on today's post. (U.S. only)