Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Cover Reveal - - Marriage with a Proper Stranger

Karyn Gerrard has been a regular here at The Romance Dish since we opened the doors back in 2009. It's been fun to watch her journey over the years from enthusiastic romance reader to published romance author. Today, I'm excited to reveal the beautiful cover of Karyn's next book, Marriage with a Proper Stranger, the first in her new Men of Wollstonecraft Hall historical romance series! 

I'm a fan of the marriage of convenience trope so, of course, I'm looking forward to this book.

I'm also intrigued by the prospect of a beta, schoolmaster hero. I don't believe I've read one before. Have you?

by Karyn Gerrard
(Men of Wollstonecraft Hall #1) 
Kensington Publishing/Lyrical Press Feb 6, 2018

“Build a wall about your heart.”

Riordan Wollstonecraft labors under the heavy burden of his forebears. For generations, a curse has followed the dashing young men of his family, guaranteeing the women they love an untimely death.  The youngest grandson of the Earl of Wollstonecraft Hall, charismatic Riordan is quietly resigned to his fate, an educator who devotes his life to good works, and ignores any longing for something more . . .

Widowed and penniless, Lady Sabrina Lakeside is desperate to avoid a second forced betrothal—this time to an aged marquess. Her chance encounter with Riordan leads her to an impulsive offer: a temporary marriage of convenience that could benefit them both. His agreement is as surprising as it is welcome. Before long, Riordan’s keen intellect and kind words have Sabrina rethinking her plans of a union in name only. But her new husband is holding something back. Will giving in to their tantalizing passion lead her only to further heartache . . . or could it be the first step toward healing them both?

✔︎Sexy beta hero
✔︎Grandson to an earl
✔︎Schoolmaster with a progressive soul
✔︎Loves children and kittens
✔︎Knight in shining armour

“What have we here?” Mr. Black asked, his blue eyes twinkling with amusement.
“Luncheon. Please. Open it and help yourself.”
Mr. Black got to his feet, picked up a nearby chair, and carried it to the front of his desk. “Have a seat, my lady.”
As she made herself comfortable, Mr. Black unpacked the lunch. “Cold salmon sandwiches. A rare treat. Cheese, biscuits, sliced strawberries.” He held up a jar. “And lemonade. Shall I serve?”
Sabrina nodded, and Mr. Black quickly loaded food onto the stoneware plates, passing one to her along with a paper napkin. He took his seat, bit into the sandwich and smiled. “Very tasty.”
“I believe Mrs. Kempson adds dill weed to the salmon mixture. There are four dozen ginger biscuits for the children. For teatime this afternoon.”
“No teatime, I’m afraid. The children work until five.” Mr. Black finished his sandwich and reached for another wedge. Goodness, she should have brought more food.
“There should be a break, at least in my opinion, to rest or play for ten minutes. Or have a biscuit. Or an apple.” Sabrina pointed to the basket of fruit by his desk. “Do you provide them yourself or does this board you spoke of?”
“I paid for this, but am hoping it will become part of the budget. Many of the children have little enough to eat, and an apple can provide many needed nutrients.” He poured them glasses of lemonade. “I must say I like your idea of a break. Ten minutes. It would be a recess from learning, to allow for play or quiet time or to eat a ginger biscuit. Thank you for bringing them.”
His words were cordially spoken and despite her determination not to react to this man, her cheeks flushed. “Now that we’re settled in, what do you wish to discuss with me?” he asked.
Lord, where to begin? Finishing her sandwich, she dabbed the corners of her mouth and laid the napkin on the plate. “I recently came out of mourning. My late husband, the earl, did not provide for me in his will. His heir and nephew tossed me out and I had no choice but to return to my father.”
Mr. Black frowned. “I am sorry this happened to you. It’s a travesty women do not have any rights whether inside of marriage or out.”
“No, we do not. None at all. My hateful father no longer wishes to provide for me as he has his own plans to remarry. To paraphrase, he does not wish his widowed, ancient daughter lurking about the house.”
Mr. Black’s mouth quirked with amusement. “You’re hardly doddering, my lady.”
“According to Society, I am. I’m thirty years of age. My father believes I’m only fit for old men. Pepperdon was more than thirty-five years older. I will not be forced into such a union again.” Sabrina exhaled. She had come this far. Might as well lay it all out. “The baron has given me an ultimatum. Marry another prehistoric peer or I will be left to find my own way in the world.”
Mr. Black’s friendly smile turned into a frown. “Damn. Pardon, my lady. I am sorry to hear this.”
“Good. Then you can aid me by marrying me. Right away.”

MARRIAGE WITH A PROPER STRANGER (Men of Wollstonecraft Hall #1) Kensington Publishing/Lyrical Press Feb 6, 2018
SCANDAL WITH A SINFUL SCOT (Men of Wollstonecraft Hall #2) Kensington Publishing/Lyrical Press June 5, 2018
LOVE WITH A NOTORIOUS RAKE (Men of Wollstonecraft Hall #3) Kensington Publishing/Lyrical Press Dec 2018

Reserve your copy now!


(Men of Wollstonecraft Hall #2) 
Publisher: Kensington/Lyrical Press  
Release Date: June 5th, 2018 

“You must lock away your heart at all costs.”

Falling in love was the darkest moment of Garrett Wollstonecraft’s privileged youth, even as he and Abigail Hughes shared a blissful summer of passionate promise. Sworn to keep Abigail safe from the curse plaguing generations of Wollstonecraft men, Garrett sacrificed his future happiness. Now, fourteen years after he lost his heart, Abigail reenters his life. But the woman who arrives unannounced at his ancestral manor is very different from the sheltered girl Garrett once knew.

The widow of a country doctor, Abigail can’t forgive Garrett for his cruel rejection. Yet she can no longer keep the truth from him—a secret that could have resulted in her ruin. But as the embers of desire reignite, and Abigail and Garrett slowly rebuild trust, a malicious enemy plots against them. Is their love strong enough to break free from the sins of the past—and to end the tragic cycle that consigns Garrett to a life of loneliness?

Cover coming soon!


Karyn Gerrard, born and raised in the Maritime Provinces of Eastern Canada, now makes her home in a small town in Northwestern Ontario. When she’s not cheering on the Red Sox or travelling in the summer with her teacher husband, she writes, reads romance, and drinks copious amounts of Earl Grey tea. 

 Even at a young age Karyn’s storytelling skills were apparent, thrilling her fellow Girl Guides with off-the-cuff horror stories around the campfire. A multi-published author, she loves to write sensual historical and contemporaries. Tortured heroes are an absolute must. 

 As long as she can avoid being hit by a runaway moose in her wilderness paradise she assumes everything is golden. Karyn’s been happily married for a long time to her own hero. His encouragement and loving support keeps her moving forward.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Review - - Wanted: A Mom for Christmas

Wanted: A Mom for Christmas
By Lee Kilraine
Publisher: Kensington / Lyrical Press
Release Date: November 7, 2017
Reviewed by Janga

Hawk Savage has been a single father since the death of his wife Holly seven years earlier. He is devoted to his two children, ten-year-old Heather and eight-year-old Henry Lee, better known as “HL.” Fatherhood was less difficult when they were younger, but with shy, sensitive Heather approaching puberty and insisting that she cannot be the only girl in fourth grade not wearing a bra and livewire HL declaring he is too old for Pok√©mon cards and footed pajamas but not too old to ask Santa for a mommy, Hawk is stressed. It doesn’t help that he has a headache that could mean he is coming down with the flu that is raging through Climax, NC.

Nora Joy, Olympic silver medalist in beach volleyball and two-time Sports Illustrated cover star, is looking forward to going for the gold when she is sidelined by a rotator cuff injury that could be career-ending. To add a storm of insults to her injury, she finds her boyfriend and best friend/partner in bed together, discovers that her mother/manager has spent all the endorsement money Nora thought was safely invested, and learns that said mother is resigning as Nora’s manager to manage the betraying partner. An eviction notice sets Nora applying for jobs in sixteen states, but things seem hopeless until Rent-A-Mom sends her to Climax, NC, to a motherless family in need of help. Nora is sadly lacking in Mom skills, but she seizes the opportunity anyway.

Climax is Nora’s hometown, and the family she is sent to help is that of her former boyfriend and first lover, Jackson “Hawk” Savage. Fourteen years earlier Nora and Hawk were quite an item, but Hawk has no room for a former love in his life. He never heard of Rent-A-Mom, and he is ready to send Nora packing just as soon as he recovers from the flu and then just as soon as the rest of his fellow cops recover so he can stop working double shifts and then . . .

HL is convinced that Nora is the mommy Santa has in mind for him. Heather is a bit slower to warm up to Nora, but soon the two are bonding over girl stuff. Hawk is falling for her again, body and soul. As for Nora, all three Savages are winning her heart. But Nora can’t believe that she is mother material. It will take a common enemy, Reindeer Games, and love too strong to resist to persuade Nora that she is an essential part of Team Savage now and forever.

This is another funny, sweet Christmas romance that seems designed to be turned into a Hallmark movie. It was also my first book by this author. It is the fifth book in the Cates Brothers series, but I had no problem reading it as a standalone. Nora and Hawk and his children are all appealing characters. Their story often made me laugh and left me misty-eyed a few times. The humor is character-driven, and the interactions among the key characters had a lot of charm. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. If you are looking for another sentimental, seasonal contemporary romance to add to your TBR stack, this one may be the perfect early Christmas indulgence.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Review - - A Family for Christmas

A Family for Christmas
By Tara Taylor Quinn
Publisher: Harlequin / Superromance
Release Date: November 1, 2017
Reviewed by Janga
Quinn gives fans another story centered around The Lemonade Stand, a women’s shelter in Santa Raquel, California. This thirteenth novel in the long-running series focuses on two love stories, connected but taking place many miles apart.

Dr. Simon Walsh, a top pediatric thoracic surgeon in Los Angeles, suffered damage to an optic nerve in a vicious attack. His doctors have told him that it will be six months to a year before the full extent of the damage is clear. He chooses to leave LA and retreat to an isolated cabin in Prospector, Nevada, while he waits to learn if his injury will mean the end of his career. When he stumbles across the body of a badly beaten woman, he feels compelled to help her, but she will accept his help only if he agrees not to report her injuries.

The woman, who identifies herself only as Cara, is not certain she wants to survive. Abused physically and emotionally by her husband for years, she has endured out of love for her daughter. Now she believes her daughter is dead, and life has lost its purpose. Slowly, under Simon’s care, Cara’s physical wounds heal, and Simon’s gentleness and generosity begin the healing process for her battered spirit as well. When news comes that Joy is alive, Cara dares to hope for a new life.

Meanwhile, in Santa Raquel, Edward Mantle struggles to connect with seven-year-old Joy, the traumatized granddaughter he has only recently met. At the same time, he is monitoring the search for his estranged daughter Cara who is missing. Authorities fear she has been killed by her husband Shawn Amos, who has been charged with beating his sister to death. Edward finds strength in his friendship with Lila McDaniels, managing director of The Lemonade Stand. Lila yearns to help Edward, but she cannot allow her feelings for him to move beyond friendship. She is convinced that an event in her past makes her unworthy of love.

Christmas is a season for forgiveness, reconciliation, and miracles wrought by love. Will it be the season that all these troubled souls find wholeness and family again?

This story is closely connected to For Joy’s Sake, the book that immediately precedes it. Although A Family for Christmas can be read as a standalone, readers whose hearts were wrenched by Joy’s plight in the earlier book will be particularly interested in this one. It is a dark book filled with deeply wounded characters. The darkness is somehow deeper because the wounds were inflicted, some deliberately and some through misunderstanding, by those who should have been sources of love and support. It is easy to feel liking and sympathy for these characters, but some readers may find it a stretch to believe that all their problems can be so simply resolved. Others will accept that in a romance—and a Christmas romance, at that—the unbelievable can happen.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Cover Reveal and Giveaway - - A Reckless Redemption

I'm a huge fan of Laura Trentham's Cottonbloom and Falcon Football contemporary romance series but I haven't yet read her historical romances. This seems like the perfect time to dive in with the upcoming December 5th release of A Reckless Redemption, the third book in Trentham's Spies and Lovers series. 

A Reckless Redemption
by Laura Trentham
Series: Spies and Lovers, #3
Genre: Historical Romance
Release Date: December 5, 2017

Can a single night’s deception lead to a lifelong love?

On the eve of her wedding to a man she detests, Brynmore McCann can think of only one way to escape—by ruining herself—but the local lads leave her wholly uninspired. Just as she’s ready to accept her fate, she spots Maxwell Drake, home after nearly a decade. Even though he had loved her sister when they were young, Bryn has always considered him hers and she can’t think of anyone she’d rather have bed her for the first time. Only she never intends for him to find out who she is.

Upon returning home, Maxwell is stunned by the news that his father may have left him an inheritance. As the unacknowledged by-blow of a local nobleman, Maxwell struggles with resentment over the way he and his mother were treated by his father and the village. To add to his troubles, he discovers the lass he spent an incredibly satisfying night with was not the village whore, but the high-born sister of his first love. He insists Brynmore travel with him to Edinburgh until they determine if she is with child. Because if she is, she’ll marry him whether she wants to or not.

Along the road to Edinburgh, they are attacked by persons unknown. As the list of suspects who want them dead grows longer and his worries deepen, Maxwell prepares for an even more personal battle—how to keep from surrendering his heart to Brynmore.

Warning: Contains a broody Scotsman, a fiery-haired lass, and a night of passion that changes everything. Readers are encouraged to bring a fan.

A man’s murmur rose through the occasional nicker and whinny. For a long moment, Bryn stood still, letting the cadence soothe her like a wild pony. The deep, rich voice mesmerized her, and she found herself under its spell, moving inexorably closer to the open stall. She peered around the door to see a man rubbing down his horse with sweeping, graceful strokes of a blanket.

He exchanged blanket with brush and methodically groomed the horse’s flanks, all the while talking nonsense to his besotted mount. The low timbre of his voice lilted with a Scot’s brogue. The horse nuzzled the man during his ministrations. A greatcoat and brimmed hat kept his identity a secret.

The edge of his coat and boots were muddy and road-worn but of excellent quality. How had such a fine gentleman ended up in such an out of the way village as Cragian? For her wedding? Why then wasn’t he at the house with all the other kowtowers?

He circled to the horse’s opposite flank, and she caught sight of the lower half of his face. Weakness crawled into her knees, and her stomach took a fearless leap. She knew him.

Dark stubble covered a strong, square jaw. In juxtaposition, his mouth was sensuous, the bottom lip full and curled up in a smile as if caring for his horse was a pleasure and not a chore. Something deep inside of her, something she hadn’t even known was lying dormant, stirred to life after almost ten years.

It would be this man or no one. The man who’d once loved her sister. The man she’d loved from afar for too many years. Maxwell Drake. The Fates had made her decision.

Book 1: An Indecent Invitation

Book 2: A Brazen Bargain

An award-winning author, Laura Trentham was born and raised in a small town in Tennessee. Although, she loved English and reading in high school, she was convinced an English degree equated to starvation. She chose the next most logical major—Chemical Engineering—and worked in a hard hat and steel toed boots for several years.

She writes sexy, small town contemporaries and smoking hot Regency historicals. KISS ME THAT WAY, Cottonbloom Book 1, won the Stiletto Contest for Best Long Contemporary and finaled in the National Readers Choice Award. THEN HE KISSED ME, Cottonbloom Book 2, was named an Amazon Best Romance of 2016 and was a finalist for the National Excellence for Romance Fiction. TILL I KISSED YOU, Cottonbloom Book 3, is a finalist in the Maggie contest. LEAVE THE NIGHT ON, the latest Cottonbloom book, was named an iBooks Best Book of the Month and a Recommended Read from NPR.

When not lost in a cozy Southern town or Regency England, she's shuttling kids to soccer, helping with homework, and avoiding the Mt. Everest-sized pile of laundry that is almost as big as the to-be-read pile of books on her nightstand.

Visit her at www.LauraTrentham.com or connect on Twitter at @LauraTrentham or on Facebook (www.facebook.com/LauraTrenthamAuthor) or Pinterest (https://www.pinterest.com/lauratrentham/)

Email:  laura@lauratrentham.com

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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

On Second Thought - - Paradise

By Judith McNaught
Publisher: Pocket Books
Release Date: November 1, 2016
(Originally released July 1991)
Reviewed by Janga

I know people who count historical romances by Judith McNaught among the books that made them romance readers, but there was always something in those books that kept me from embracing them fully. However, two of her contemporaries—Paradise and Perfect—are on my all-time top one hundred list. The former particularly is one of a select group of novels that I consider as close to flawless as a book can come. A quarter of a century after I first read Paradise and after countless rereads, I can still read it and lose myself in the world of the book.

When the book opens, Meredith Bancroft, the only daughter of Philip Bancroft, an immensely wealthy man whose family owns an upscale Chicago department store, is young, not yet fourteen. Awkward physically and socially, she is a misfit among her peers and among her working-class classmates at the Catholic school her father chooses for her. She has one friend in each group: Parker Reynolds III, an eighteen-year-old golden boy with a kind heart, whose father is the Bancroft banker; and Lisa Pontini, the bright, assertive daughter of a pipe-fitter, whose large, lively Italian family Meredith envies.

These friendships thrive, but by the time she graduates from high school, the ugly duckling has become a swan who is less of an outsider. Meredith loves her controlling, emotionally distant father, and she tries to please him. But it becomes clear that far from allowing her to choose the college she wants to attend or allowing her to prepare to become the next generation to head Bancroft’s, her father’s plans are for her to be “finished” at an institution that will ensure she has the social skills to lead the kind of life his very proper mother and grandmother led. Meredith finally stands up to him. The resulting argument explodes, and her father attacks her with ugly accusations and name calling.  That night she meets Matt Farrell.

Matt has big dreams too, but his upbringing has been worlds removed from Meredith’s. He grew up in a working-class family, working in a steel mill to support his family after his mother’s death and to pay off her medical bills while his father found solace for his grief in a bottle. He also worked his way through college. With an MBA in hand, he plans to work on an oil rig in Venezuela for two years. The bonus money will fund his plan for achieving his dream of wealth and power. Meeting Meredith Bancroft is not part of his plan. Neither is marrying an eighteen-year-old who is pregnant with his child, but he likes Meredith, and, despite their differences, he believes they can make their marriage work. But Meredith’s father, furious about her marriage to a nobody, takes interference to the level of fine art, masterminding a misunderstanding that leaves Meredith and Matt estranged. Each holds the other responsible for a failure that actually rests on Philip Bancroft. They divorce, and they both go on with their lives as if their brief marriage had never taken place.

After more than a decade, they meet again. Matt is CEO of Intercorp, an LA-based conglomerate that is buying a multi-billion-dollar electronics company in Chicago. Meredith has become a vice-president at Bancroft’s where she is battling the board about her plans to expand the store to other states. Both are involved with new people, and the wounds they inflicted on each other have not fully healed. Emotionally and—to their great surprise--legally, the bond that connects them is not severed. But the obstacles that separated them when they were younger have not disappeared. Indeed, they are more complicated than they were eleven years earlier.

This is a big book, literally and metaphorically. McNaught takes seven hundred and twenty pages to tell Meredith and Matt’s story. She has the space to show them as young people caught up in their own struggles before they meet. The reader is invested in the characters before the Big Misunderstanding occurs. Caring about the characters and believing in their inexperience and vulnerability makes accepting the misunderstanding easier. Their wealth and good looks could make them little more that pretty images who “glitter when they walk,” but McNaught makes Meredith and Matt likable, sympathetic, genuine human beings. The secondary characters add to the novel’s appeal. I especially enjoy Meredith and Lisa’s friendship. Their personalities balance each other, and their loyalty to each other runs deeper than any bumps in the friendship. Another benefit of the book’s length is an ending that ties up every loose end in a blissful HEA gift to the reader.

The first time I read this book in the closing decade of the twentieth century, I cried, I laughed, I sighed, and I said to myself, “Oh, I want to read this one again.” Rereading it in the second decade of the twenty-first century, my reaction is unchanged. I highly recommend this golden oldie as a first read—or as a reread.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Blog Tour Review - - Lilac Lane

Lilac Lane
By Sherryl Woods
Publisher: Harlequin / Mira
Release Date: October 17, 2017
Reviewed by Janga

After her husband decided he preferred the bottle to his family and left her with two pre-school sons and an infant daughter to rear, Kiera Malone gave up on romance and focused on supporting her children. It was not until those children were adults that Kiera allowed herself to be wooed by Peter McDonough with his gentleness and his humor. But Peter is dead of a heart attack just hours after they became engaged, and Keira is shoring up her defenses to protect her heart. At the urging of her father and her daughter, both of whom are happily married to O’Briens of Chesapeake Shores, Maryland (The Summer Garden), Kiera leaves Dublin, at least temporarily, to spend time with her family, to help care for her granddaughter Kate, and to serve as a cultural consultant for her son-in-law’s Irish pub.

Kiera adores young Kate, is grateful to establish a closer relationship with Moira, and enjoys time with her father from whom she was estranged for years after her marriage. She is surprised at how quickly she makes friends among the O’Brien women, especially Megan O’Brien, wife of Mick, the designer and builder of the idyllic coastal town, and mentor to Moira. Life in Chesapeake Shores would be wonderful if it were not for Bryan Laramie, chef at O’Brien’s Pub. Kiera and Bryan clash at every turn. In fact, the only thing they agree on is the need to ignore the sparks of attraction between them.

Chef Laramie’s life has not turned out the way he imagined it. As a young man, he was driven by ambition, certain that he would one day own his own restaurant and win renown for his culinary creations. Then, he lost what he loved most, and he has spent the years since in a fruitless search to recover his treasure. Despite having reached the point of accepting that his search may be hopeless, he has found a measure of contentment and pride in his work at O’Brien’s and a staunch friend in Nell O’Brien O’Malley. He does not need a fiery-tempered redhead challenging him in his kitchen or elsewhere.

The O’Briens are all in favor of keeping Kiera in Chesapeake Shores, and if Nell thinks matchmaking will increase the odds of doing so, they are all prepared to do their parts. One step is to ensure that Kiera moves into the cottage next door to Bryan’s home, trusting that the sparks they have observed plus propinquity will lead to romance. The attraction is real, and Kiera and Bryan discover they actually like each other as well. But they are both wary of risking their hearts. Will the matchmakers win their bets, or will Kiera and Bryan’s old wounds and strong defenses prove stronger than love?

Lilac Lane is the fourteenth story in Woods’s popular Chesapeake Shores series, which is also now a Hallmark television series. I like the O’Briens, and I have followed this series from the beginning. One of its strengths has been the evidence that romance is not only for the young. Mick and Megan’s reconciliation was much anticipated in the early books, and the widowed matriarch Nell’s sweet reunion with the love of her youth, Dillon O’Malley, arced over two books—An O’Brien Family Christmas, #8, and The Summer Garden, #9. The renewed focus on romance between mature characters was a welcome one. Kiera and Bryan are interesting characters who have earned their HEA. Most of the large O’Brien family shows up in minor roles, with Luke and Moira, Mick and Megan, and Nell and Dillon playing more substantial roles. Fans of the series will doubtless be pleased to see them all. Woods once again proves her skill at creating these sweet, family-centered tales.

If you are a fan of small-town romance with extended family heavily engaged in one another’s lives and not shy about taking an active role that some would label blatant interference, you will likely enjoy this one. I confess that I did, even if I could not quite silence the skeptic in me that questioned if this book and, based on the frequent references to Kiera’s wild Irish sons, probably more books to follow as a bit too obviously providing more material for the television series. I suspect the cost of the book, considerably more than the earlier books, may also reflect the television connection.