Welcome! Kick off your shoes, get comfy and join in as we chat about books, romance and the ups and downs of everyday life.

Friday, July 30, 2010

RWA - Day 3

Good Morning!  Wow, what a fabulous time we're all having here at RWA!  Yesterday was jammed packed full of interesting workshops, great meals, glittering parties and meeting lots and lots of wonderful people. 

The day started early with breakfast with the delightful Jenna Petersen.  Jenna has some exciting plans for a new humorous zombie series she'll be writing under the name of Jesse Petersen.  Watch for more news on that!

We checked in at the Goody Room and stocked up on lots of promotional materials for our prize packages then headed different directions for lunch.  Buffie, Gannon and Andrea attended the keynote luncheon where Nora Roberts was the speaker.

Andrea here:  We shared a table with Romance Bandit Joan Kayse and Goddesses Karen Hawkins and Suzanne Enoch. Nora's keynote speech was truly inspirational. It was filled with humor and passion about not giving up on your dreams of writing and that the road to publication is never easy no matter who you are. She stressed the importance of lasting friendships through RWA. One of the highlights of the meal was the delicious dessert of key lime pie. So good! Photos of the pie to come later. *g*

Back to PJ:  I attended Robyn Carr's luncheon.  Every year Robyn hosts a luncheon for her reader group.  We ate at the Big River Grille on the Disney Boardwalk.  As always, everything Robyn does is first class.  We had a delicious meal (I had the cashew chicken salad) followed by a fabulous cheesecake dessert.  It was great seeing some of the friends I met at Robyn's lunch last year in DC and making new friends too!  Robyn have us all a terrific backpack printed with "Follow me to Robyn Carr's Virgin River."  I love it!!!
While at the luncheon, I met the lovely Sarah of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books.  Thanks Sarah, for introducing me to Jill Shavis! 

We have to leave for breakfast with Vicki Lewis Thompson but we'll be back later with more news and some photos too! 

I've added more photos to my facebook page so you can pop over there to check those out.  http://facebook.com/pj.ausdenmore

More later...

Thursday, July 29, 2010

RWA - Day 2

Day two at RWA National dawned bright and beautiful...and early!  The four of us are sharing a room here at the Dolphin.  Four women...and all their "stuff"...in one room with two double (not queen) beds.  Can you say "cozy?"

PJ was up and out of the room early to volunteer at the conference registration desk.  PJ hereIf you're going to conference, I highly recommend volunteering at the registration desk.  It's a lot of fun and a  great place to meet everyone checking in for the conference.  Lots of hugging going on there yesterday morning! 

Gannon was off early to meet her friend, author Geri Krotow for breakfast.  Geri and Gannon's husband were classmates at the U.S. Naval Academy.  Geri's living in Moscow now and flew in for the conference.  Great opportunity to catch up with old friends!

Christine Wells, PJ, Anna Campbell
Lunch yesterday was a rip-roaring good time with two of our favorite Aussies, Anna Campbell and Christine Wells.  Conversation was non-stop and sprinkled liberally uproarious laughter.  It's impossible to be in their company without plenty of smiles and laughter.

After lunch, we met up with two more of our favorite authors, Teresa Medeiros and Eloisa James - two of the nicest women you'll ever meet.  Over sodas and cookies, we chatted about books, kids, pets, Eloisa's year in Paris and what's coming next from both authors.  Eloisa has a new (fabulous) book out this week called A Kiss at Midnight and Teresa's next book, The Devil Wears Plaid will be released August 24th.   

Last night from 5:30 to 7:30 was the Literacy Signing and people started lining up at 3:00!   Lots of great romance authors in the central Florida area!  We made the rounds, bought some books and took lots of photos.  PJ's niece, Jenn (who guest reviews for us) and her sister-in-law, Kitty live in the area and joined us for the book signing.  We all had a wonderful time (though our sore feet are still screaming).  lol

After the signing, we all headed over to the party thrown by the authors of The Goddess Blogs: Karen Hawkins, Claudia Dain, Sabrina Jeffries, Suzanne Enoch, Madeline Hunter, Rachel Gibson, Karen Rose, Lori Handeland and Julia London and Nicole Jordan (hostesses in absentia). There we ran into old freinds and made lots of new ones as we circulated the room sporting our new fashion statement - hot pink tiaras!

After capping off the day with the Epcot fireworks display, visible from our room, we hit the sack for a night of RWA dream. Can't wait to see what tomorrow brings!

We're having trouble uploading photos to the blog (it takes forever) from the hotel connection so please pop over to PJ's facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pj.ausdenmore where she'll be adding pics to her RWA album each day.

More tomorrow!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

RWA - Day 1

We're here! The Dishy Dames have arrived! We pulled into the Swan and Dolphin Resort Hotel at Walt Disney World about 3pm yesterday afternoon.


You would have thought we were staying for a month with all the luggage that poured out of the cars but the hotel employees never blinked an eye. Guess they're used to that!  Expecting long lines at  check-in, we were shocked when we were able to walk right up to the counter but later congratulated ourselves on impeccable timing as by the time we unpacked and came back to the lobby, the lines were much...much longer! Oh, and speaking of unpacking, the hotel had quite the welcome for us.  No sooner had we started to unpack then the alarm sounded and we were instructed to evacuate the building!  Thankfully, the emergency, whatever it was, was quickly taken care of.

Back in the hotel, we ran into some lovely Banditas in the lobby:  Trish Milburn, Joan Kayse, Donna MacMeans. Kate Carlisle (with PJ) and Anna Sugden (not pictured) and one of our favorite bloggers (and people) Keira Soleore.   










Buffie, Gannon, Tawny Weber, Beth Andrews, Andrea
















Joan Kayse, Donna MacMeans, Keira Soleore
















On our way back to the room to change for dinner, we spied Susan Elizabeth Phillips who very graciously posed for a pic in front of the lobby fountain in the Dolphin.















Dinner Tuesday night was with one of our favorite authors, the lovely and always fun Julie James.  Julie brought along fellow Chicago author, Beth Kery who is an absolute delight!  We ate at the Garden Grove restaurant here at the hotel and thoroughly enjoyed their delicious Mediterranean Buffet.  Here's a pic of the dinner group and one of some of the delicious desserts. 



Maggie Robinson




















After dinner we headed for the Blogger Bash coordinated by Wendy, Super Librarian but, on the way, we ran into some of our favorite people:  Tessa Dare, Courtney Milan, Tiffany Clare, Maggie Robinson, JK Coi and Terri Osburn.


We'rehaving trouble uploading photos to the site but you can see all of our pics at PJ's facebook page.  http://facebook.com/pj.ausdenmore

Sunday, July 25, 2010

And We're Off!

It's finally here!  It's the week we've planned for, saved for and anticipated with mounting excitement.  This is the week of the Romance Writers of America (RWA) National Conference!  As many of you have probably heard by now, the conference had to be moved from Nashville to Walt Disney World in Florida due to the terrible floods in Nashville.  We continue to keep the people of that city in our thoughts and prayers and hope the conference will visit them in the future but, for now, our sights are set on the Sunshine State and the excitement of the 30th Annual RWA National Conference!   

The Dishies are busy packing and tending to last minute details before piling into the cars for the caravan south to Orlando.  We have a full conference schedule; packed with workshops, meetings, parties and chats with some of our favorite authors...and we're taking you along for the ride!  Watch the blog for our daily updates accompanied by lots...and lots...of photos!  We'll also be doing updates through our Romance Dish and individual facebook pages and on twitter. 

One of the highlights of the annual RWA conference is the Literacy Booksigning.  This event, which boasts over 500 published authors, will be held Wednesday night from 5:30-7:30 in the Pacific Exhibit Hall at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort and is open, free of charge, to the public.  If you live in the Central Florida area, come on by!   Proceeds of the book sales are donated to literacy charities in the host city.  This year, a portion of the proceeds will also be directed to Nashville.

I've been working on my list of authors that I want to make sure I don't miss at the booksigning and that got me to thinking.  If you were going to attend the booksigning, which authors would be at the top of your "must see" list?  If you had the opportunity to chat with them, what would you ask?  Here's the link to the list of authors who will be signing at this year's literacy booksigning.  If you're planning to attend the literacy booksigning, I hope we'll have the chance to meet.  The Dishies will be wearing black shirts, embroidered with The Romance Dish in hot pink.  If you see us, please say hello!

As anyone who knows me can tell you, my camera rarely leaves my side and you can be sure I'll be busy taking pictures all week.  So tell me.  What would you most like to see photos of?   The hotel?  Booksigning?  Parties?  Workshops?  Random shots of authors?  Any particular authors?  Tell us what you want to see, and what you want to hear about, and your intrepid Dishy reporters will do their best to post it here for you throughout the week. 

Are you going to RWA National?  If so, we hope to see you there.  If not, be sure to check in here daily for news, photos and a few special surprises!

~PJ

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Great Summer Reading

by Anna Campbell

Kathleen O'Reilly
is one of my favorite writers!

There, that about covers the review!

Oh, you'd like some more? Sheesh! Picky!

Kathleen O'Reilly writes great character-driven books for Harlequin Blaze. Hmm, sometimes they're driven to do all sorts of things! ;-)

Actually all jokes aside, I love that Kathleen's stories are based so firmly in emotion. There's a lot of wonderful sensuality in her writing but it's the emotional depth that keeps me coming back for more.

There's been great buzz about Kathleen. Out of curiosity, I bought the first of her trilogy THOSE SEXY O'SULLIVANS when I was at the San Francisco RWA conference.

As many of you know, conference is really full-on and reading time is at a premium and everyone gets so tired, we all just want to sleep when we hit our rooms in the wee smalls (hey, it's all good fun!). I started SHAKEN AND STIRRED late one night. Well, I couldn't put the thing down - so my late night turned out REALLY late. I grabbed and devoured the next two books in the trilogy, SEX, STRAIGHT UP and NIGHTCAP. And since then, I've preordered everything Kathleen's written.

Those books are a great introduction to a lot of the things I adore about Kathleen's writing. The way they touched my emotions - I found myself crying a few times. The humor, which somehow makes the heart-wrenching scenes more heart-wrenching.

Kathleen writes great dialogue - smart, sexy, witty. Her characters absolutely come alive on the page through the way they speak. And these characters all have a touch of real life about them. They tend to have normal jobs and face the sort of life issues that so many of us do in our worlds. What to do when an ageing parent is unable to look after herself any longer, for example, rather than what color Lamborghini to buy. Although I must say, choosing the Lamborghini color keeps me awake most nights!

To go back to the O'Sullivans books (I'm getting to the new one, bear with me!), the stories are based around a bar in New York City. Three Irish brothers own the bar and their love stories form the basis for the trilogy. OK, a guy who runs a bar? Not exactly a Lear jet-owning desert king (although I love desert king books!). The second book, SEX, STRAIGHT UP, features an accountant. An accountant as a romance hero? Whoda thunk it? All the billionaires and secret agents and dukes have turned pale with shock!

And do you know what? That book about the accountant counts as one of my favorite romances ever and until now, it was my favorite Kathleen O'Reilly. Daniel lost his wife in 9/11 and watching him overcome his crippling grief and learn to love again will break your heart.

So SEX, STRAIGHT UP is a brilliant read and I thought it would be hard to match - until I read Kathleen's latest, LONG SUMMER NIGHTS which came out in May. It's still available on Amazon and on the Harlequin site.

LONG SUMMER NIGHTS combines a whole stack of romance themes that I always enjoy. The irresistible force (our heroine) and the immovable object (our hero). The attraction of apparent opposites. Fish out of water. Mr Mysterious. The lone wolf lured back to share the warmth of the tribal fire through the power of love. Hot love scenes (hmm, not sure that counts as a theme!). A dual character arc where both hero and heroine learn essential truths about themselves through the experience of opening up to the other person.

Jennifer Dade is a journalist and dedicated city girl who arrives at the upstate New York town of Harmony Springs to cover the summer festival. Her career is on the skids - this is probably her last assignment for the paper she works for - and to add insult to injury, a scheming co-worker has booked her into a rundown cabin in an isolated campsite which has only one other resident.

Aaron Barksdale, the one other resident, is a reclusive writer living under an alias, think J.D. Salinger as a really hot 30-something guy. Automatically, there's the conflict that if Jennifer discovers this attractive, mysterious man is really an award-winning author who disappeared years ago, she can use that story to reinstate herself at her paper.

From the moment, she and Aaron meet, sparks fly (there are some luscious scenes when they're out stargazing!) both of the sensual and conversational variety. Jennifer, who is refreshingly self-aware, quickly realizes she's falling for this completely unsuitable man. But she's in Harmony Springs only for two weeks, he's a man who has rejected the world, there's the whole secret identity plot, and Aaron has been bruised by life and isn't exactly rushing to believe in love and happiness.

One of the many things I love about this book is that the ethics versus career plot doesn't take over. There are so many rich layers here and the most heart-wrenching one is watching Jennifer coax a wary, prickly, difficult Aaron into admitting he loves her. Your heart aches for Jennifer when she thinks she's reached a certain level of emotional intimacy and Aaron turns away from her in self-protection. A very snakes and ladders story and one I absolutely loved to read.

You'll love both these characters - Aaron has that compelling quality that makes you love him and suffer for him even when he's acting like a complete idiot. Jennifer is such a great heroine - warm, loving, generous and aware of what's important in life. You'll adore watching these two edge towards their happy ending.

And that ending? Oh, man, I sighed for a week after I read it. It's truly lovely!

Seriously, if you haven't read this book, grab it! It's one of the best contemporary romances, long or short, I've read in a long, long while.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Review -- A Kiss At Midnight

A Kiss At Midnight
By Eloisa James
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: July 27, 2010










A handsome prince, a nasty stepmother, a fabulous and unique godmother, a one-of-a-kind slipper and a mistreated young lady longing for something better: all of the necessary elements for the classic Cinderella fairy tale. Eloisa James has taken the familiar Cinderella story and given it fresh new twist. Her readers will gobble it up like a decadent dessert. But it's even better because you get all of the satisfaction and none of the calories. *g*

Kate Daltry lives with her odious stepmother, Mariana and her frivolous, but not-at-all-evil stepsister, Victoria. She spends her days managing the estate, the tenants and most of the time, feeling like a servant instead of the daughter of the house. And quite frankly, it ticks her off! Nothing she says to Mariana about the running of the estate seems to sink in.


Talking to her stepmother, to Kate's mind, was like peeing in a coal-black outhouse. You had no idea what might come back up, but you knew you wouldn't like it.


Kate has been informed by Mariana that she must accompany Victoria's fiance, Algernon (Algie) Bennett, Lord Dimsdale, to visit his cousin, the prince. Victoria has been bitten on the lip by one of her little dogs, and Mariana doesn't want her to appear before royalty in her disfigured state. Kate thinks the whole scheme has disaster written all over it, but Mariana feels the resemblance between the two girls is close enough to fool people. Plus, it is imperative that Dimsdale's cousin, Prince Gabriel, give his official approval for the marriage of Victoria and Algie. So against her better judgment, Kate travels with Algie to Prince Gabriel's castle, "disguised" as Victoria, complete with wigs and her silly little pack of dogs.

Prince Gabriel Augustus-Frederick William von Aschenberg of Warl-Marburg-Baalsfeld is preparing for his betrothal ball and waiting for his intended, Princess Tatiana of Russia, and her entourage to arrive. Although he would rather be on an archaeological dig in Tunis, he must do his duty and marry the princess---he needs her fortune to support his castle, estates and family. Gabriel is not your typical Prince Charming, as Kate discovers when she first see him.


A man who had to be the prince was seated on a great chestnut steed, and for a moment she could see only his dark silhouette against the sun. She had the confused impression of his motion and power, easily controlled: an aggressive body, with big shoulders and muscled thighs.

She raised her hand to her eyes to shade the sun just as he leaped from his horse. Dark hair swirled around his shoulders as if he were one of the actors who came through the village to play King Richard or Macbeth.

Her eyes adjusted and she changed that idea. He was no Macbeth...more the king of the fairies, Oberon himself, eyes at a slight wicked tilt, with just a hint of the exotic.



Kate finds Gabriel incredibly rude and conceited, but in time her opinion of him changes. With each moment spent together, Kate and Gabriel's attraction leads them down a path that, however rocky it may be, is filled with passion, love and the hope that they just might live happily ever after.


He took the word from her lips. Their kiss was untamed as the garden they stood in. It was the kind of kiss that skirted the edge of propriety even though his hands stayed at her back, and hers around his neck.

It skirted propriety because they both knew the kiss was like making love, that there was an exchange, a possession and a submission, a giving and a taking, a forbidden intimacy.


Kate has fallen for her prince, and maybe with the help of her delightfully unconventional godmother, she may find her happily ever after. But no matter what happens she is strong and capable of standing on her own. Gabriel is the one who must prove himself and his willingness to sacrifice all for love.


He closed his eyes for a moment, and the color of his eyelashes was like the color of regret. With a kind of piercing sorrow, she knew that she would never forget this prince.


A Kiss At Midnight is a light, frothy, irresistible grown-up fairy tale. I spent many moments laughing out loud at Kate and Gabriel's antics and the charming, often quirky cast of secondary characters. This is most definitely going on my keeper shelf and has become my favorite Eloisa James novel. Treat yourself to a fairy tale that will keep you enchanted from "once upon a time" till "they lived happily ever after."


~ Gannon







Thursday, July 22, 2010

Eloisa James Winners

Thank you to all of the posters who helped make our visit with Eloisa James so enjoyable.  Our hearts were touched by your wonderful "Once Upon a  Time" stories.  Congratulations to the five winning posters selected by random.org.  You've each won a copy of Pleasure for Pleasure, the story of one of Eloisa's most beloved couples, Josie and Mayne!  The winners are:

Penfield

Monica

JulieJustJulie

Caffey

Lisa

Please send your full name and mailing address, with "Eloisa Winner" in the subject line, to theromancedish@gmail.com to claim your prize.

 

Review - - Three Nights with a Scoundrel

Three Nights with a Scoundrel
The Stud Club – Book #3
By Tessa Dare
Publisher: Ballantine
Release Date: July 27, 2010







About halfway through Tessa Dare’s first book, Goddess of the Hunt, I thought to myself, “This woman is going to be a Star in the world of Romance Fiction.” Apparently others agreed because her second book, Surrender of a Siren (my favorite of the first trilogy) is a finalist for the coveted RITA® award at next week’s RWA National Conference. By the time I had finished the first two books in Dare’s new, and exquisitely written, Stud Club trilogy, I knew two things: the Star had arrived… and I didn’t like Julian Bellamy…at all. After devouring five of Dare’s books like a bag of Peanut M&M’s after a three-month diet, I found myself dreading Three Nights with a Scoundrel. I knew with absolute certainty that the writing would be lush and lyrical, the story sensual and compelling, the heroine likeable and the hero, sadly, would be the first of Dare’s with whom I would not fall in love.

I was wrong.



Born a bastard and reared in filth and poverty, Julian Bellamy now sets the standard of fashion for well-to-do young bucks of London. Arrogant, colorful and, seemingly, uncaring of what anyone else thinks, he systematically seduces his way through the wives of the rich and powerful men of London…or at least he did, until 5 months ago when his best friend, Leo Chatwick, Marquess of Harcliffe and founder of the exclusive Stud Club, was murdered. Convinced that he was the real target that night because of his secret, sordid past, Julian becomes obsessed with two things: finding, and dispatching the culprits, and protecting Leo’s twin sister, Lily, the woman for whom he has always felt much more than friendship but who can never be his.

Independent and pragmatic, Lily Chatwick has never let her loss of hearing from an illness determine the course of her life. An expert lip-reader, she's been able to navigate the waters of the ton with her brother's help though she’s always been happiest at home, with close friends and with her ledgers and accounts.  She's always counted Julian Bellamy among her friends though lately he’s been driving her crazy with his obsession of finding Leo’s killers and trying to marry her off, for her protection, but when an injured Julian is unceremoniously dumped upon her doorstep, Lily determines to put a stop to his reckless behavior before she’s forced to deal with his death too. She agrees to consider suitors among the gentlemen of the ton but only if Julian promises to assist her as her escort for three nights of her choosing, during which time she hopes to reclaim her friend and save him from his self-destructive ways.  But the rules change when Julian comes face to face with his jealousy over Lily’s appeal to other gentlemen and Lily's eyes are finally opened to the reason for the intensity between them. 

     So prescient of her parents, giving her that name. L-sounds were among the easiest to lip-read. The trouble was, the shape of her name always looked a bit silly to her. Especially with her honorific attached: “Lady Lily.” Two ls were bad enough, but three were ridiculous. All that tongue-flapping made her want to giggle.
     But when Julian spoke her name, it never looked like a joke to her. No, it looked vaguely…naughty. Sensual, not silly. She’d always loved watching her name on his lips.
     Always.
The word seeped down into her bones, into her soul, where it simply…fell into place. Like the moment of triumph she felt after scouring a ledger a dozen times and finally finding the six shillings unaccounted for, in the column where she’d mistaken a seven for a one. At last, it all made sense – all the quarreling and worrying and strange tingling that resulted from his touch. This explained why he’d grown so inordinately protective of her, and why the sight of his blood on her fingertips had thrown her into absolute panic. Because he’d always wanted her this way. And deep down – so far deep down she hadn’t even been fully aware of it until this moment – she’d always desired him, too.

Dare is superbly talented at drawing vivid pictures with her writing, as shown in the excerpt above and throughout the book, such as the scene in the piano room (one I won't be forgetting anytime soon).  With a few well-chosen words, she places me into Lily's mind and heart - what she feels, I feel - but she saves her best work for Julian.  It's through his deep, heartfelt, sometimes incredibly poignant thoughts and actions that I fell in love with the man I had deemed least likely to win my heart.  That's not to say he isn't a bad boy.  He most definitely is and he certainly has some lessons to learn but, when the plumage is stripped away and the attitude checked at the door, if he can finally allow himself to trust Lily, trust her strength and their love for one another, enough to let her see the man he really is, then he'll become a man who is worthy of a great love...one that doesn't come easily or without cost but one that, once won, will last a lifetime.

While Julian and Lily's story is the primary focus of  Three Nights with a Scoundrel, there are important secondary stories that are resolved in the book.  We catch up with the couples from the previous two books (I loved the scenes with Spencer, Rhys and Julian and the evolving dynamic of the trio), learn the outcome of Claudia's "situation" (shameless begging for her to get a book of her own!) and finally learn who killed Leo and why...in a heartbreaking twist that I didn't see coming at all, written by Dare with an incredible depth of realism and compassion.    

I highly recommend all three of the books in the Stud Club trilogy but it's Three Nights with a Scoundrel that stole my heart and I won't be one bit surprised if it steals yours too.

The Stud Club books, in order, are:  One Dance with a Duke, Twice Tempted by a Rogue and Three Nights with a Scoundrel.

~PJ


  


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Review -- Hot Finish

Hot Finish
Fast Track - Book 3
By Erin McCarthy
Pubisher: Berkley Sensation
Release Date: August 3, 2010






Two years ago, Suzanne and Ryder Jefferson’s marriage fell apart and the couple divorced after four years of marriage. The two have since remained on friendly terms as they have so many mutual friends in the race car industry. After realizing she is flat broke, Suzanne gives up her beloved charity work to return to the wedding planning business. Luckily, she is immediately offered the chance to plan a prestigious wedding, which includes a hefty advance. The only drawbacks being that the bride is a brainless twit and the best man is Suzanne’s ex-husband. Except she and Ryder discover that they’re not really divorced! Apparently, Ryder missed a long ago court appearance, so they are still legally married. Suzanne did not need this on top of the stress of planning a wedding that will take place the following month—right before Christmas.

Ryder doesn’t take the news that he and Suzanne are still married as hard as she does. After all, he still has a thing for her and always has. From the moment he first met her six years before, he knew she was the one for him and even though they constantly bickered, he enjoyed being married to her. Now all he has to do is convince her of that. Knowing how stubborn and proud Suzanne is, Ryder is aware that it won’t be an easy task. Given that they never argued in the bedroom, he decides to start there and hopes that she will realize just how good they are together—both in bed and out.

Hot Finish is the latest installment in Erin McCarthy’s Fast Track series—one that I am a huge admirer of. Other fans of the series know just how thick the tension has been between Ryder and Suzanne from the very start. In this one, readers learn exactly why. Ryder and Suzanne come from different backgrounds—she grew up poor and was raised by her grandparents, he grew up in a happy family with parents who indulged his every whim. Therefore, Suzanne always felt like she was never good enough for Ryder. But of course, he never cared about her personal history and loved her in spite of it. Their marriage fell apart because neither was good at communicating with the other (she hid her emotions with sarcasm and he retreated behind a shield of bravado and mockery), so it was nice to watch them work hard to overcome their weaknesses. And speaking of Suzanne’s sarcasm, I loved all of her many hilarious metaphors—especially the ones in reference to Nikki, the Bridezilla. They kept me in stitches!

If you’re looking for great contemporary romances that are on the spicy side with characters that you totally root for, look no further than Erin McCarthy’s Fast Track series: Flat-Out Sexy, Hard and Fast, and Hot Finish. Needless to say, I love this series and am eagerly anticipating the next book!

~Andrea



Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Review -- Bonds of Justice

Bonds of Justice
Psy-Changeling Series, Book # 8
by Nalini Singh
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: July 6, 2010







“He took up more space than he should, the heat of his body inescapable in the confines of the vehicle. She’d felt as if he was touching her with each wave of that starkly masculine heat – and for a woman who hadn’t been touched in years, it had been an experience that left her scrambling for escape.”








The latest offering in the highly acclaimed Psy-Changeling series by Nalini Singh is Bonds of Justice. Some may believe the eighth book in a series might leave a reader less than satisfied, but not in this case. Ms. Singh is truly in a league all her own. Her writing once again leaves this reader wanting more from the series and anticipating the next installment. Now THAT is the sign of a brilliant writer . . . she leaves you desperate for the next book.

Having experienced a less than stellar childhood (never knowing his father and dealing with a mother who showed no love), Max Shannon has learned to rely only on himself and listen to his keen sense of intuition. Combined with a natural shield to protect his mind against Psy mental invasions, Max is known as one of the best Human cops in New York Enforcement. His latest case is that of sociopathic serial killer Gerard Bonner. Determined to find every one of Bonner’s murdered victims, a J Psy is brought in to retrieve memories from Bonner’s mind.

Sophia Russo is a J Psy – a Justice Psy. Born with the ability to retrieve memories from the minds of any individual, Sophia is used to working on the most heinous criminal cases and the Gerard Bonner case is no different. However, Sophia cannot handle too much contact with Bonner as her Psy mental shields are deteriorating from the years of memories she has extracted from others. The liability for being a J Psy is the eventual collapse of one’s mental shields and thus comprehensive rehabilitation, which will effectively eliminate memory and personality.

Chosen to work together by Councilor Nikita Duncan to investigate the mysterious deaths of several of her top advisors, Max and Sophia are thrown into each other’s company. Intrigued by the prime and proper Sophia, Max soon discovers the fragile state of Sophia’s mind and his protective instincts kick into overdrive. As he slowly pulls away the layers of Sophia’s stern exterior, Max unearths a Psy like no other Psy. One who is ready to feel. With every stroke of Max’s finger, Sophia is shocked by the myriad of sensations confronting her. As the treat of comprehensive rehabilitation lurks closer, Sophia is anxious to form a bond with Max, someone who will remember her before her mind is wiped clean.

“We fit, you and I,” he whispered looking into that haunting gaze. “Two broken pieces making a whole.” It wasn’t the most romantic of statements, but it was torn from his soul. “I am not losing you.”

As I said before, this is one fantastic book! Max and Sophia are damage and incomplete as individuals, both in need of someone to care about them. It was a joy watching them stumble through emotions and eventually find love, passion and their very own happily ever after. This novel continues the secondary theme of the continuing story arc and gives the reader a glimpse of what is to come in the Psy-Changeling world. I love a well planned arc and Ms. Singh provides just enough information to leave the reader questioning the future of the Psy, Changeling and Human races. I have no idea how all the pieces are going to come together, but I can’t wait to find out what Ms. Singh has in store for us readers. If you love this series, then you are bound to love Bonds of Justice!

If you have never read this series, I would highly recommend that you start at the beginning with Slave to Sensation. Each book builds the Psy-Changeling world and to experience the full flavor of every book you need the back information.


~ Buffie

Monday, July 19, 2010

Today's Special -- Eloisa James



We are delighted to have New York Times bestselling author and former Squawker chick Eloisa James join us today at The Romance Dish! When she's not writing the many delicious novels that her readers devour, Eloisa is a Shakespeare professor at Fordham University, a busy wife and mother. For the past year, she and her family have been living in Paris, and she has allowed her Facebook friends to live vicariously through her adventures. Her newest novel, A Kiss At Midnight, will be released on July 27th. Stay tuned for Gannon's review on July 23rd---she loved it!! Please give a warm welcome to our friend, Eloisa.


These days the economy and media seem to be competing to make us feel dreary. In fact, all this bad news has done a good job of making each of us, no matter how financially secure, feel a bit like a Cinders-girl, hiding out in the kitchen in a precarious job with little prospects.

A year ago, I decided that a dose of Cinderella was what we all needed—a joyful tale of transformation, true love and great shoes. I had such fun shaping the story of Kate and Gabriel in A Kiss at Midnight!

Sometimes I found myself laughing at my desk, delighted at my characters’ antics (wait til you meet my fairy godmother). I think my pleasure shows in the novel; Romantic Times wrote that this “delightful tale is as smart, sassy and sexy as any of her other novels, but here James displays her deliciously wicked sense of humor.”

So I’ve got a challenge for you, and five randomly chosen commenters will each win one of my books, so do give it a shot! Here’s my question. What would follow “Once upon a time” in YOUR life? We all need a touch of Cinderella, so finish that sentence to win a book!



A Kiss at Midnight by Eloisa James

Miss Kate Daltry doesn't believe in fairy tales . . . or happily ever after.

Forced by her stepmother to attend a ball, Kate meets a prince . . . and decides he's anything but charming. A clash of wits and wills ensues, but they both know their irresistible attraction will lead nowhere. For Gabriel is promised to another woman—a princess whose hand in marriage will fulfill his ruthless ambitions.

Gabriel likes his fiancée, which is a welcome turn of events, but he doesn't love her. Obviously, he should be wooing his bride-to-be, not the witty, impoverished beauty who refuses to fawn over him.

Godmothers and glass slippers notwithstanding, this is one fairy tale in which destiny conspires to destroy any chance that Kate and Gabriel might have a happily ever after.

Unless a prince throws away everything that makes him noble . . .

Unless a dowry of an unruly heart trumps a fortune . . .

Unless one kiss at the stroke of midnight changes everything.


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Review - - Chains of Ice

Chains of Ice
The Chosen Ones – Book #3
By Christina Dodd
Publisher: Signet Select
Release Date: July 6, 2010







I’ve said this before but it bears repeating. Christina Dodd was born to write paranormal romance. In the books of The Chosen Ones, she has created a fascinating world where good versus evil, betrayal lurks around every corner, love, when it appears, is intense, steamy and will leave you breathless and where the future of the world rests upon the shoulders of seven unlikely individuals known as The Chosen Ones.

Once a vital member of  The Chosen Ones, John Powell turned his back on duty and escaped to the rugged Ural Mountains of Russia where he lives a solitary life, tormented by the guilt and grief of a mission gone tragically wrong. He’s vowed to never return to New York City, to The Chosen Ones, and to never use his Chosen gift, the gift that failed him and his team, again. But he doesn't know he's about to meet the one woman who will change everything.

     Like a bear fleeing a swarm of mosquitoes, he shook his head and fled into the woods. But for the first time he couldn’t escape his thoughts.
     What was he going to do when the Gypsy Travel Agency sent a representative to demand his return?
     What was he going to do if Genny’s golden eyes mirrored her soul; if she was truly a dreamer, bright and idealistic?
     He didn’t know either answer.
     He wanted her. He wanted to slide his hands through her dark hair, kiss her warm, tanned skin, ravish her, worship her, teach her how a man who had abandoned civilization made love.
     Yet if she was real, if the warmth in her eyes thawed the ice in his veins…then he would have to leave her alone.
     Because he would destroy her…just like he’d destroyed all the rest.

When she was fifteen, Genny Valente’s world collapsed. Her father was fired for stealing priceless antiquities from his employer, The Gypsy Travel Agency, the company that funds and protects The Chosen Ones, her mother walked out and Genny was left at the mercy of a cold, bitter, vindictive father who, no longer in control of his own life, turned his focus to controlling her – his second chance at success.  Forced to study pre-law and business and accept a position with a company of her father’s choosing instead of becoming the veterinarian specializing in wildlife rescue that has always been her dream, Genny is shocked when, at graduation, her father’s gift is a trip to Russia to study the rare Ural Lynx but, of course, there’s a catch - a catch by the name of John Powell. In exchange for the “gift”, Genny must find this man who lives like a Yeti in the wilds of Russia and convince him to return to New York but when she arrives in Russia – when her soul is touched by the mysteries of the man and his surroundings – will she do as instructed or will she have the courage to finally break free of her father’s control?

     Never in her life had she imagined she’d have the guts to hang up on her father. Ever since Kevin Valente had lost his job, he’d dominated her life, her thoughts, her ambitions. She’d been afraid of him, afraid he’d walk away as her mother had walked away.
     But since she’d arrived in Russia, her soul had blossomed. She sensed the forest; she became a part of its darkness. She had seen the eagles and flown on the wings on wind. She had been sister to the father and mother lynx, guardian to the babies. She had found John; she’d tasted his torment, his desire, his being.
     She thought – she hoped – she could make a difference to him. With him.
     Maybe this place was magic. Maybe the crossroads did exist here.

Dodd takes John and Genny on a breathtaking, heart-stopping adventure where the wrong turn could bring deadly consequences, their love is put to the ultimate test and the future of the world hangs in the balance. The rest of The Chosen Ones play vital roles in the story, one suffers a serious injury and could be lost forever and a former Chosen One from John’s past returns to lead the team. But is he fighting for good? Or evil?

I read this book in one night then, the next day, I read it again. Dodd has created another compelling tale that engaged my senses, captured my mind and heart, and refused to let go. With intrigue, action, sensuous and steamy love scenes and the ultimate battle of good vs. evil, Chains of Ice is a book that I highly recommend.

Chains of Ice can be read as a stand-alone but, for a richer and more complete reading experience, I strongly suggest reading the books in this series in order: Storm of Visions, Storm of Shadows and Chains of Ice. The next book in the series, Chains of Fire, will be released September 7th.  I can't wait to find out what Dodd has in store for Samuel and Isabelle! 

~PJ

Friday, July 16, 2010

Interview with Jaime Rush

Jaime Rush is a small-town girl who clearly has her priorities in order.  As she says at her websiteI've lived in the same southwest Florida town my whole life. I have a wonderful family, fabulous friends, and consider myself blessed beyond reason. I swim, work out, meditate, read, and spend time with the aforementioned friends and family. I try to find joy in the little things in life and to find the lessons in the hard times. Life is truly what we make it, and I choose to make mine fantastic.  That sounds like someone I'd like to know better so I was delighted when Jaime agreed to an interview for her visit with us here at The Romance Dish.  I hope you all enjoy getting to know a little more about Jaime and her wonderful books.  

~PJ

 



Welcome to The Romance Dish, Jaime! Congratulations on the release of TOUCHING DARKNESS, the third book in your Offspring series. Will you tell us a bit about the series and TOUCHING DARKNESS in particular?

The series is about a group of twenty-somethings who live ordinary lives but possess extraordinary psychic abilities. They are the Offspring of parents involved in a mysterious experiment gone awry. Sexy…dangerous…outcasts… They are being hunted by the government and others like them. Together they must find the truth and fight an enemy out to destroy them.

In TOUCHING DARKNESS, Nicholas Braden, a psychic spy in a covert government program, suspects he's a pawn in a mad man's quest for justice. His boss's stunning assistant is too loyal to give him answers, but Olivia's secret, wild side bends his mind and fires his body. As they edge closer to the darkest truth, good and evil blur, threatening their very survival.

That sounds fascinating!  Should the Offspring books be read in order?

As with all series, I think readers get more by starting at the beginning. That said, I've written my series with new readers in mind, so they're caught up pretty quickly but without a big info dump. My goal has always been to wrap up the initial arc within three or four books, with the rest being more standalone. TOUCHING DARKNESS wraps up one part of the arc and BURNING DARKNESS (Feb 2011) wraps up the government arc completely, answering the question about where the Offspring got their abilities from. And now, with book 5, the plot isn't related to that arc but merely springs off from it. So it's nice for new readers coming in, because they don't have to digest a lot of backstory.

What's the most important thing we should know about Nicholas and Olivia before reading their story? 

Nicholas is a hero who embraces peace, so it's the hardest for him to realize he's in the middle of a war in which he has to choose sides—and fight. Plus neither side is black or white. And it's tough for him to realize the woman he's in love with is on the wrong side! As for Olivia, she thinks it's Nicholas who's on the wrong side, and facing the truth means losing something very important to her.


Sounds like lots of delicious conflict!  




How many books are planned for this series?

I'm contracted for six books, and I've just finished the first draft of book 5. I could go on for a while, I think, but that will depend on sales and demand. With this last book in my contract, though, I could easily write any one of three more people's stories!





I’ve seen the Offspring books described as paranormal, romantic suspense and urban fantasy. How would you describe them?

Yeah, that about sums it up . I am guilty of calling them all of those. I think romantic urban fantasy describes them best.

Whatever you call them, they sound fascinating!


Many authors find they write better with background music. Do you? If so, what songs inspired you in the creation of TOUCHING DARKNESS?

I create playlists for each character on iTunes. I then separate the songs into categories, such as the songs that capture the character, intense emotional music, and sexy music. That's a fun part of creating the story, because the music speaks to the character. Whenever I'm writing a particular scene, I go to the point of view character's playlist and find the right songs. I have a small portion of the list posted on my Myspace page: Myspace: www.myspace.com/jaimerush. Some of the songs:

I Don't Want To Be In Love—Good Charlotte
Rainy Monday—Shiny Toy Guns
Dice—Finley Quaye
All Over You—Spill Canvas


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

When I want something fun, I read Janet Evanovich's Plum series. I read, of course, urban fantasy and romantic suspense, and I read spiritual growth books as well. I just finished The Tao of Pooh.




I'm a huge fan of the Plum books too and I agree, they certainly are fun!  I hadn't heard of The Tao of Pooh so I checked it out.  What a wonderful book!


Jaime, you’ve also had a successful career writing under the name of Tina Wainscott. Will you continue to write under that name as well as Jaime Rush?

For now I'm pretty busy writing my Jaime books. As Tina, I ended up writing psychological suspense, but I'm really enjoying going back to my paranormal roots. I have always straddled the line of paranormal/not so weird, writing about things that could be true (psychic abilities, near death experiences, etc.). I find myself expanding into bigger paranormal elements with my ideas, and future Offspring books will reflect this as well. For instance, one character, Cheveyo, surprised me by shapeshifting. I hadn't planned to write creatures. But I went with it!


I'll be more than happy to see shapeshifters in your future Offspring books!


Jaime, you live in one of my favorite places (I sure do miss those SW Florida sunsets!). How do you “stop and smell the roses” when the writing is done?

I try to "stop" throughout the day, just taking a moment here and there to look outside or even walk outside (though the humidity is a killer). I believe life is about those moments when we clear our mind and connect with nature/God/whatever fulfills you. But honestly, it's hard to take time off. For instance, I finished my first draft of book 5 last night, and I'm already plotting a new story. I've got to force myself to take time and read and chill out between books.

The RWA National Conference is coming up in a couple weeks. Will you be attending? One of the highlights of the conference for readers is the literacy book signing. For what authors would you stand in line to have a book signed?

Unfortunately, when they had to change from Tennessee to Orlando, that put it out of the picture for me. I know, you'd think being in Florida would be the opposite, but I summer in North Carolina now. Those 9-month humid summers … ugh! Authors I love to talk with … well, I always go over and say hello to Heather Graham during group signings, and a handful of my other author friends. I don't feel a need to get a book signed; it's the talking that I enjoy.

I know what you mean about the Florida summers.  I remember them well and am happy to now be living in the Carolinas. 


What are you working on now, Jaime?

Aside from the aforementioned "forced" downtime, I am already thinking about the next Offspring book. I'm also playing with some single-title ideas just to keep things fresh.

Thank you so much for patiently answering my questions.  Is there a question you’d like to ask our visitors?

I love hearing about what kind of hero turns readers on. I'm getting that paranormal romance readers love dark, dangerous heroes. What are you thoughts about them, and what are you tired of?

Okay, readers, now it's your turn.  Leave a comment and you could win one of EIGHT copies of Jaime's new book, TOUCHING DARKNESS, generously donated by Avon Books.  Restricted to U.S. and Canadian mailing addresses only.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Hot Dish for July




Welcome to another edition of the Hot Dish!

Summer is in full swing here in the United States, and down here in the South things are sizzling. Not to be outdone by another woman (you know, Mother Nature is pretty powerful), I have chosen a pretty hot fella for you to check out this month. First, let me tell you how I found him. And no, I wasn't stalking!!!

Actually, I was watching television while doing some work and happened to catch a glimpse of an ad for a show on HBO. The title of the show had me giggling. The name -- HUNG. Yes, it really is HUNG! *giggle* You know where my mind went. I'm giggling while I type! LOL! Sorry, it doesn't take much for me :-)

Needless to say I had to do a little research and find out about this show. The show is about a good looking divorced dad who is having financial problems and struggling to provide for his children, so he obtains a second job using his BEST asset. *giggling again*

May I introduce you to the leading man on HUNG, actor Thomas Jane.

Not much else to say . . .








I'm trying to think of some type of question to ask, but I just keep giggling about the show's name. LOL! Sorry!

Let me know what you think of this month's Hot Dish.


~ Buffie