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

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Coming Attractions For October


There's a chill in the air, the leaves are putting on their best fall colors, and it's time to snuggle up by the first fire of the season with a sigh-inducing romance. Can you tell autumn is my favorite season? Well, October is shaping up to be another fun-filled month at The Romance Dish, and you will want to stop by often so you don't miss a thing!




We are starting the month off right with Andrea's New Releases blog on October 1st. Break out your notebook (and your checkbook), so you can add some delightful new releases to your TBR list.



October 4th is the day for everyone to stop by for a guest blog by the wonderful Miranda Neville. Her latest historical romance, The Dangerous Viscount, is on shelves now.













Romantic suspense author Dana Marton will be our guest on October 5th. Her newest book, The Spy Who Saved Christmas, is an October release from Harlequin Intrigue.











Jennifer Estep, urban fantasy author extraordinaire, will be blogging with us on October 6th about scary movies (getting prepared for Halloween). Do you like those scary flicks or do they have you pulling the covers over your head?









It's time to Make Your Reservations on October 7th. Come see what November releases the Dishies are looking forward to!


Trish Milburn will tell us all about the latest and greatest YA releases in her Teen Menu on October 10th.


Historical romance author and Romance Bandit, Christie Kelley will be dishing with us on October 11th. Christie's latest gem, Scandal of The Season, will be released on October 5th.









With the chill in the air it's time to turn up the heat. What better way to do that than Buffie's Hot Dish on October 15th! I always look forward to seeing which hottie Buffie will serve up each month.


Just in case your TBR pile isn't big enough, we Dishies have loads of books to tell you about in our Stock Up Saturdays reviews on October 16th.



Lori Brighton is going to blog with us on October 17th. Her latest book is The Ghost Hunter. Don't you just love that cover? Mmmmm.









PJ and Gannon will be interviewing paranormal author Juliana Stone on October 18th. Juliana's debut His Darkest Hunger was a favorite of both PJ and Gannon, and they can hardly wait for the release of His Darkest Embrace on October 26th!









We are happy to have debut author Ashley March as our guest on October 19th. Her historical romance, Seducing The Duchess, is garnering fantastic reviews.










NY Times and USA Today bestselling author Jodi Thomas will be in the house on October 21st. Jodi's Texas romances are a favorite around here. The second book in her Harmony, Texas series, Somewhere Along The Way, will be released November 2nd.








Tune in on October 24th to read another great review from our own Anna Campbell in her monthly Second Helping blog.


Looks like another stellar lineup, and in addition to all of that we will be bringing you reviews of the latest books we've been reading and a giveaway or two!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Review -- A Season of Seduction

A Season of Seduction
By Jennifer Haymore
Publisher: Forever
Release Date: September 28, 2010







Lady Rebecca Fisk’s disastrous marriage came to an abrupt end four years ago when her husband, William, was killed. Becky wasn’t distraught, but relieved when it happened as her husband had manipulated and deceived her and had ulterior motives (her money) for wanting to wed her. Ever since, Becky has had no desire whatsoever to marry again, but that doesn’t mean she does not want to experience a man’s touch. When she meets and gets to know the rugged Jack Fulton, she believes she is ready to take that small leap. While taking that compromising leap, they are discovered by her overly protective brother, the Duke of Calton, and the only option is for them to wed. Except, Becky refuses Jack’s offer citing that she’s been down that road before (entering marriage impulsively) and has no wish to go down it again. However, Jack is persistent and begins to court her in the hopes that she’ll change her mind.

After twelve years away at sea, Jack Fulton returns to his homeland, the place he has missed immensely after being exiled by his family due to an egregious scandal. Upon his arrival home, his past is thrust back in his face in the form of blackmail by a childhood friend. Jack must pay him fifteen thousand pounds before Christmas or he will reveal the truth of what happened that fateful night over a dozen years before. The only way Jack can come up with that kind of money is to marry an heiress. He feels an instant kinship of sorts when he meets the Lady Rebecca. He observed her at the British Museum and saw something in her that reminded him of himself. Something solitary and isolated. What starts off as nothing more than a means to an end turns into something much more as Jack falls hard for the enchanting Becky. But will she forgive him and look beyond his past when the truth comes out?

A Season of Seduction picks up years after the previous books, A Hint of Wicked and A Touch of Scandal, and is the story readers have been anticipating featuring Garrett’s younger sister Becky. After her husband died, Becky devoted herself to her family and reading books and has become quite the bluestocking since last we saw her. Yes, she bears a wounded heart, thanks to her despicable husband, and even though she knows that Jack isn’t cruel like William was, she is still hesitant to marry so quickly. Totally understandable. And naturally, Jack feels horrible that he is deceiving Becky as William did. Though unlike William, Jack actually has strong feelings for Becky.

She’d been beaten down by her husband, and that made her tentative and hesitant, fearful of setting herself free, of opening her heart. She believed she couldn’t survive being hurt again. Jack understood completely. He’d been in that same place for many years after Anne’s death.

Jack wanted her to stop hurting. He wanted to protect her, cosset and spoil her, until she was confident enough to set herself free. Until she was confident enough to allow herself to be happy.

He wouldn’t let anyone hurt her. Never again.


They are splendid together and their romance is very sweet despite Jack’s secret looming in the background. A Season of Seduction is a nice, solid romance and a great addition to Jennifer Haymore’s repertoire. And it’s one that I recommend!

~Andrea



Review -- Simply Irresistible

Simply Irresistible
Lucky Harbor - Book 1
By Jill Shalvis
Publisher: Forever
Release Date: September 28, 2010







After dumping her abusive boyfriend and then getting fired from her job, Maddie Moore leaves the chaos of Los Angeles to join her two estranged half sisters at the place left to them by their late mother, Lucky Harbor Resort, located in the small coastal town of Lucky Harbor, Washington. Maddie wants a brand new start and believes that a new place and a new job, running the inn with her sisters, will do just that. Except that when she gets there, her hopes are dashed after her sisters inform her that they have no intention of staying, especially after seeing how rundown the inn is. Maddie calls a contractor to get an estimate for repairs and he just so happens to be the same Hot Biker that 1) Maddie almost ran off the road upon arriving to Lucky Harbor and 2) whose motorcycle she knocked over at the town’s bar later that night. As someone who has sworn off men and is totally clumsy, Maddie wonders why the sexy Jax has any interest in her.

Jax Cullen left his career as a successful Seattle attorney five years ago because he wasn’t happy and began to not like himself anymore. He felt like the job had sucked his very soul right out of him. So, he returned to his hometown of Lucky Harbor to do what he loves: building and working with his hands. When he meets the quirky Maddie, she touches something deep inside him. Something he hasn’t felt in a very long time.

But he was still working on recovering his soul.

Just being back in Lucky Harbor helped. It was a slower, simpler lifestyle, one he’d chosen purposely. He’d gone back to his first love, rebuilding and restoration, while trying to help people instead of acquit them.

Until yesterday anyway, when for the first time in far too long, he’d actually felt something real. He’d felt it with shocking depth for a curly-haired, endearingly adorable klutz, a woman with unconscious warmth and an innate sexiness, and a set of sweet, haunted eyes.

Devastating combo.


Will Maddie allow herself to abandon her oath on giving up men and give Jax a chance to show her how good life can be in Lucky Harbor?

Books like Simply Irresistible are the reason why I love contemporary romance! Ms. Shalvis creates real people who aren’t perfect and carry plenty of emotional baggage that readers will love because of their flaws, not in spite of them. I absolutely adore both Maddie and Jax. I felt an instant connection with Maddie as I’m just as clumsy as she is (really, ask anyone) and like Maddie, I do not like my food to touch on my plate. As the middle sister, Maddie is the peacemaker and works really hard at cultivating a relationship with her sisters, who, by the way, are all completely different. And of course, there’s Jax. I love him. Seriously. He is an amazing hero and encompasses my very favorite qualities: he’s sexy, honorable, protective, and intelligent, with a wicked sense of humor.

“I, um—You have a streak of dirt,” she said.

“A streak of dirt.”

“Yes.” She pointed to his left perfectly muscled butt cheek. “There.”

He was quiet for a single, stunned beat. She couldn’t blame him, given that they were both covered in dirt from the filthy attic. “Thanks,” he finally said. “It’s important to know where the dirt streaks are.”

“It is,” she agreed, nodding like a bobble head. “Probably you should stain-stick it right away. I have some in my purse.”

“Are you offering to rub it on my ass?” She felt the heat flood her face, and he grinned. “You’re a paradox, Maddie Moore. I like that about you.”

“Is it because I said nothing was happening between us, and then I . . .”

“. . . Wanted to touch my ass.” He finished for her. “You can, by the way. Anytime.”

She squeaked in embarrassment and covered her cheeks.

“See? Paradox.”


He’s patient with Maddie as she struggles with her feelings and he respects her space. The exchanges between Maddie and Jax heat up the pages and the love scenes sizzle. A small town setting complete with small town gossip, along with the characters of Maddie’s sisters and Jax’s friends (who look as if they’ll be paired up in the future books) add to the wonderfulness that is this book. I felt such a sense of satisfaction after finishing it that Simply Irresistible completely lives up to its name. And it left me wanting the next book. Now. So, I’d say Ms. Shalvis did her job well. Very well, indeed.

~Andrea





Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Louisa Edwards Winner

The winner of the prize package from Louisa Edwards' blog is

LSU READER

Congratulations!  To claim your prize, please send your full name and mailing address, with "Louisa Edwards Winner" in the subject line, to theromancedish AT gmail DOT com.

Today's Special - - Courtney Milan

Photo ©Jovanka Novakovic | bauwerks.com
Courtney Milan is a woman of many talents. An attorney, computer programmer and dog trainer, she can now add multi-published author and 2010 RITA® finalist to that list as well.    Her newest single-title historical romance, TRIAL BY DESIRE (which releases today!) is already garnering rave reviews, including a 4 1/2 star "TOP PICK!" from RT Book Reviews magazine.  Please welcome Courtney to The Romance Dish as she celebrates the release of TRIAL BY DESIRE and blogs about "taking alpha back."




Taking Alpha Back

These days, when you hear that a hero in a romance is "alpha," there are a number of things that spring to mind. He's rich. He's rude. He's dismissive of others' concerns. And he probably jumps to a lot of unwarranted conclusions, usually about the heroine.

I'm not sure why this is. The word "alpha" comes from the notion of dominant wolves. (These notions, by the way, were formed based on animals studied in captivity, and these studies have since been discredited--here is a great YouTube interview with one of the scientists who popularized the term, who now explains why it doesn't work.) But whatever we think of wolf pack hierarchies, certainly, we have all met people who are natural leaders. People we look up to. People we think of as in charge.



 Make a list of the people around you who you count as natural leaders--those bosses that really command attention, who bring out the best work in those around them. People who can organize others. People who can get things done. Those people, to the extent that we call them anything, are "alpha." They are "dominant."

Now make a list of all the people in your life who are jerks--dismissive, rude, and unwilling to listen to what others have to say.

How many people do you see on both of those lists? There might be one person, perhaps two. But if your lists look anything like mine, the leaders on your list--the dominants you know--probably share a number of characteristics.

1. They make people feel more comfortable, not less.
2. They make people feel as if they are capable. When you're around them, your self-esteem goes up.
3. They get things done. They don't make a big deal out of everything they do, demanding that someone pay attention to them every hour of the day. They just figure out what needs to be done and they do it.
4. They give credit where credit is due. If you do something awesome, they reward you. They tell people. They pat your back.
5. When something goes wrong, they concentrate on fixing the problem, not pointing fingers. There may be a postmortem, but it's usually about troubleshooting, and not about finding a scapegoat.

I could go on and on. You could, too.

So when people tell me that Ned, the hero of TRIAL BY DESIRE, is not an alpha... well, I will agree that he's not a bully. But bullies aren't dominant--in fact, they're usually quite insecure. They're so insecure that they have to shove others around to hide how vulnerable they truly are.

If we were fighting a war, I would spot you any jerk-off of your choice. In return, I'll take Ned. Because I'd rather have the guy who doesn't anger everyone around him. I want the dude who's okay with leading quietly, letting everyone around him feel good about themselves, instead of claiming all the glory for himself. I'm going for the one who gets things done--he's in charge, and you don't need to kowtow to his unbearable ego to be sure that he won't let anything bad happen to you.



Want to see what I mean? I'm giving away a copy of TRIAL BY DESIRE to one commenter, picked at random. And to get the comments going, tell me this: name your favorite book with an unconventional alpha, and tell me what made this person work as an alpha.

Learn more about Courtney and her books by visiting her Website, her Blog, her facebook page and following her at Twitter.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Trial by Desire
by Courtney Milan 
Publisher: HQN Books
Release date: September 28, 2010




She cannot forget the fire he ignited...

In the three years since her husband left her, Lady Kathleen Carhart has managed to forge a fulfilling life for herself. But when Ned Carhart unexpectedly returns, she finds her tranquility uprooted--and her deepest secrets threatened. Though she has no intention of falling for Ned's charms, Kate can no longer deny the desire that still burns in her heart.

Or the promise of his love...

Ned is determined to regain his wife's trust by using unbridled seduction. But just as Kate surrenders to Ned's passion, her carefully guarded past threatens to destroy her. Now Kate must place her faith in the only man she's ever loved, and the only one who has ever betrayed her...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Review - Venom

Venom
Elemental Assassin, Book 3
By Jennifer Estep
Publisher: Pocket
Release Date: September 28, 2010








What kind of assassin works pro bono?

It’s hard to be a badass assassin when a giant is beating the crap out of you. Luckily, I never let pride get in the way of my work. My current mission is personal: annihilate Mab Monroe, the Fire elemental who murdered my family. Which means protecting my identity, even if I have to conceal my powerful Stone and Ice magic when I need it most. To the public, I’m Gin Blanco, owner of Ashland’s best barbecue joint. To my friends, I’m the Spider, retired assassin. I still do favors on the side. Like ridding a vampire friend of her oversized stalker—Mab’s right-hand goon who almost got me dead with his massive fists. At least irresistible Owen Grayson is on my side. The man knows too much about me, but I’ll take my chances. Then there’s Detective Bria Coolidge, one of Ashland’s finest. Until recently, I thought my baby sister was dead. She probably thinks the same about me. Little does she know, I’m a cold-blooded killer . . . who is about to save her life.



Gin Blanco is just a couple of months into her retirement from the assassin business, when she is called upon to do a favor for a friend, vampire Roslyn Phillips. Roslyn has a little problem that needs to be cleared up. Make that a big problem: Elliot Slater, giant and head henchman for Mab Monroe, the Fire elemental who controls the city of Ashland. Gin is only too glad to help, especially since Slater and his giant minions beat the crap out of her only recently. If she can rid Ashland of scum like Slater it will make her day and put her one step closer to her goal: killing Mab Monroe, the bitch who murdered Gin's mother and older sister. Yes, indeed, retirement is just a little too dull for the Spider!

Bria Coolidge is a new detective in the Ashland police department, and she's also Gin's long lost baby sister, the one she thought had died seventeen years ago along with their mother and older sister. While Gin is shocked (and secretly thrilled) to see her sister, Bria has no idea that Gin is her sister, Genevieve. Will the by-the-book-cop approve and accept her assassin sister? Gin will cross that bridge when she comes to it, but for now they both have a common goal: Elliot Slater. Then again, Gin doubts that Bria plans on carving up Slater like she does. Oh well, to each his own.

Gin is by all appearances tough and cold-hearted, but when it comes to those she loves ---her foster brother Finnegan "Finn" Lane, the Deveraux sisters, Jo-Jo and Sophia, and her sister Bria---her heart is as deep and wide as the mighty Mississippi. That hard edged exterior hides a gentle, caring soul. And new love interest, Owen Grayson knows that better than anyone else. They have a past connection that Gin does not remember, but Owen has never forgotten. When Owen tells her about it (I won't mention it here, reader, because it's too poignant to spoil), Gin is uncomfortable with his gratitude. Ever since detective Donovan Caine (Gin's love interest in books 1 and 2) turned his back on her because her could not accept her as the Spider, Gin is hesitant to open up to another man.


"I don't judge you for what you've done, Gin. Why are you judging me for another man's mistakes? Because Donovan Caine did make a mistake," Owen said in a soft voice. "Letting someone like you go."

"Someone like me?"


Owen got to his feet and moved until he was standing in front of me. "Someone strong and tough and smart and sassy and sexy as hell. That's why I'm interested, Gin. Because you're all of those things and more. Not because of a small kindness that you showed to me in the part of my past I'd like to forget."


Owen's words made my heart ache. Because these---these were the words that I'd longed to hear from Donovan Caine. I'd wanted the detective to understand me, to accept my actions and be able to look past them toward the future we could have together. But Donovan was gone, and he wasn't ever coming back. Instead, Owen Grayson stood before me, a silent but clear offering burning in his violet eyes.


As sexy as I found Donovan Caine in the first two books of this series, I have to say I am really loving Owen. Who doesn't want a man who accepts every part of them, the good and the bad? Lucky Gin! Jennifer Estep continues to raise the stakes in this gritty, fascinating urban fantasy series. Gin is completely kickass, but she has a heart of gold. The secondary characters are equally fascinating, and with each book readers are given a little bit more of their backgrounds. For the full experience, I recommend reading this series in order: Spider's Bite, Web of Lies, and Venom. Book 4, Tangled Threads will be released in May 2011 and book 5 (yet untitled) will follow in October 2011. I am thrilled that Ms. Estep is continuing this compelling series and giving her readers more of the Spider and her show down with the evil Mab Monroe.


~ Gannon

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Tiffany Clare Winners




Thanks to everyone who stopped by to chat with Tiffany Clare on Wednesday!  The randomizer has chosen our three winners and they are:

ANTONIA

MONICA M

Congratulations!  You've both won a signed copy of Tiffany's debut book, The Surrender of a Lady!

SHEREE

Congratulations, Sheree!  You've won a copy of Juliana Stone's debut book, His Darkest Hunger.

To claim your prizes, please send your full name and mailing address to tiffanyATtiffanyclareDOTcom.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Hot Dish Winner




Thanks to everyone who stopped by and commented on my September Hot Dish blog.

The winner of a prize package from my RWA stash is:



Tory M!!!!



Congratulations, Tory M!


Please email your snail mail address to


theromancedishATgmailDOTcom with "Hot Dish Winner" in the subject line.

Review -- My Lord Scandal

My Lord Scandal
by Emma Wildes
Publisher: Signet
Release Date: September 7, 2010




My Lord Scandal is the first installment of Ms. Wildes’ latest trilogy, called Notorious Bachelors, and it is a delightful read from the first page.

The novel begins with Lord Alexander St. James and Michael Hepburn, Marquess of Longhaven, breaking into the home of a fellow peer in search of an item Alexander’s grandmother determinedly believes belongs to the St. James family. During their search of the home, the gentleman are shocked to discovered that one member of the family has returned home earlier than expected. Alex just barely makes it to a bedroom balcony when the door to the bedroom opens and Lord Hathaway’s daughter enters the room. Hiding in the shadows on the balcony, Alex thoughts turn immediately to the beautiful woman in the room, not to his escape.

“There was something innately sensual about watching a woman undress, though usually when it was done in his presence it was a prelude to one of his favorite pastimes. Slim fingers worked the fastenings of her gown and in a whisper of silk, it slid off her pale shoulders. She stepped free of the pooled fabric, wearing only a thin, lacy chemise, all gold and ivory in the flickering illumination.”

Relieved to be home, away from the evening’s entertainment and her father’s matchmaking maneuvers, Lady Amelia Patton undresses in the quietness of her bedroom. Opening the doors to her balcony, Amelia relishes the cool evening breeze after the stuffy atmosphere of the evening’s ball, which did not help her breathing problems. Slowly inhaling the refreshing air, Amelia is shocked when a tall figure looms over her and asks about her welfare. While her inner voice suggests she should scream, Amelia is too dazed by the handsome man to do so. Instead, Alex and Amelia engage in a small conversation which leads to Alex stealing a kiss.

“Her breath fluttered in her throat and it had nothing to do with her affliction. She might be an ingénue, but she understood in an instant the power of that devastating, entirely masculine, husky tone. Like a bird stunned by smoke, she didn’t move, even when he leaned down and his long fingers caught her chin, tipping her face up just a fraction. He lowered his head, brushed his mouth against hers for a moment, a mere tantalizing touch of his lips. Then, instead of kissing her, his hand slid into her hair and he gently licked the hollow of her throat. Through her dazed astonishment at his audacity, the feel of his warm lips and the teasing caress caused an odd sensation in the pit of her stomach.”

Thus begins the relationship between Alex and Amelia, and what a relationship it is!!!!

As Alex continues to search for the family heirloom his grandmother desperately wants returned to the family, a devastating secret involving both families a generation back is revealed to Alex and Amelia. Even though both of their fathers oppose any relationship between Alex and Amelia, the couple is determined that love will conquer all.

My Lord Scandal provides the reader with an entertaining love story sprinkled with a little mystery and a good dash of sensuality. Ms. Wildes had me cheering on this endearing couple as they fight for their happily ever after. Now, I am looking forward to reading the next two books in the trilogy – Our Wicked Mistake and His Sinful Secret – which will be released October 5, 2010, and November 2, 2010 respectively.

So if you are looking for a new series to enjoy, I would highly recommend you start with this book!



~ Buffie


Friday, September 24, 2010

Good Girls Gone Bad!

by Anna Campbell

Hmm, perhaps I should start this review by admitting I've gone to Blazes.

Harlequin Blazes, that is!

I'm a fairly recent convert to this particular line in Harlequin. I read a few of the first ones out - hey, it's a hot, sensual line of romances, of COURSE I tried them! But sadly, they weren't really me.

Then a couple of years ago, I met wonderful Bandita Tawny Weber and fell in love with her writing. Then a good friend (Sharon Archer, an Aussie Medical Romance writer who's great!) recommended Sarah Mayberry's books to me. Add Kathleen O'Reilly to that mix (my Second Helping review of her wonderful LONG SUMMER NIGHTS is here) and you've basically got three of my favorite contemporary authors. And they all write for Blaze!

Recentlly I handed a book in and as my reward, I pulled Tawny and Sarah's latest off the tottering TBR pile. And found to my surprise that the two books shared a common theme, one I always love in a romance - the nerdy Plain Jane who discovers her inner siren under the influence of the passion she finds in the arms of a gorgeous stranger. Who almost always ends up being more than the sexy drifter he appears on the outside.

I think there's a couple of themes most of us find irresistible. One is the bad guy who falls for the 'good' girl and in the process finds redemption (think of all those Regency rake heroes!). Another is the 'good' girl who casts away her inhibitions and finds a completely new side of herself when she surrenders to the wild boy.

One of the lovely parts of the 'good girl' romance is that often it becomes clear that the guy she falls in loves with learns to love her in all her nerdy glory too. There's a deeper connection than suddenly wearing a skimpy bikini or drinking too much and dancing on the tables would immediately suggest.

In HOT ISLAND NIGHTS, Sarah Mayberry's latest, repressed upper-crust English girl (she's not a maiden but she may as well be!) Elizabeth Morgan suddenly discovers the existence of a father she never knew she had and she abandons her restricted life in search of him. This means cancelling her wedding to her boring fiance and flying across the world to Phillip Island in Australia. Actually I had to giggle here! HOT ISLAND NIGHTS conjures up the image of the Barrier Reef or somewhere equally tropical. Phillip Island is south of Melbourne and is so cold, penguins nest there!

However, in spite of this adverse weather report, Elizabeth's island nights become very hot indeed when she starts a reluctant flirtation with handsome drifter Nathan Jones while she waits for her father to get back from preparing for a major yacht race in Sydney. It's not long before she sees beneath Nathan's sham facade of casual, easygoing layabout who is interested in nothing but surfing. And then the real trouble starts!

This book lures you in with its tale of a woman learning to let herself go and you're enmeshed by the time it delves the depths of human emotion. I found myself laughing a few times but at other times, I found myself with tears in my eyes, especially as we discover more about Nathan's past. I'm in awe that Sarah manages to pack such a profound variety of human experience into 215 pages. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Tawny's book RIDING THE WAVES also starts with our nerdy heroine deciding to take a holiday, this time to Mexico. Where you guessed it, she meets a guy she assumes is a toyboy interested purely in sex and surfing (surfing seems to be the new black!). Believing that what happens in Mexico stays in Mexico, she embarks on a wild fling that she intends to leave behind when she returns to her real life.

But what happens when her fling follows her home and turns out to be her new colleague?

As you can imagine, sparks fly!

Drucilla is an astronomer (great career for a romance heroine!) who has submerged her sexuality in her career. Her relationships with nerdy fellow scientists never go anywhere and the only place she sees stars is when she's looking through a telescope. All that changes when she meets the gorgeous Alex in Mexico. Little does she know the man she's selected for an unforgettable week of passion followed by a final good-bye is A.A. Maddow, hotshot darling of the astronomy set.

When Alex and Dru meet up again in her lab, he's eager to pursue the relationship. He's glimpsed more than just physical passion in his interactions with Dru. So has she and she's terrified out of her brain! So we're set up for a delicious push-pull between these two smart-mouthed characters. In the process, both Alex and Dru will discover they each have much more to offer than they've ever believed possible.

Like Sarah's, Tawny's books have a surface glitter of wit and humor and sexy fun, but they deal with questions deeply important to all of us. How can we be our best? Can we let go of the past to trust love? How much fun can we have in bed? Yeah, I know, but honestly, they're Blazes after all!

Again, RIDING THE WAVES is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

So do you have a favorite good girl gone bad romance? Is it a theme you enjoy?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Today's Special - - Louisa Edwards


Like many of us, Louisa Edwards discovered romance at a young age.  In her case, by sneaking Harlequins out of her visiting grandmother's suitcase!  A cum laude graduate of Bryn Mawr, she never outgrew her love of romance and, following college, landed a job as an editorial assistant with Penguin Group (USA) in New York City.  After marriage to her journalist husband, Louisa left the bright lights of the big city behind and settled into life in Ohio.  While there, she began reviewing books, took a job with the Culinary Vegetable Institute and started cooking her way through Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. It's our good fortune that she decided to marry her interests by writing culinary romance novels of her own.  Her current release, Just One Taste, is the third book in her Recipe for Love series and will have you ready to cook up a little romance with your favorite hero!  Please give Louisa a warm welcome as she blogs about "The Unbearable Hotness of Chefs."



The Unbearable Hotness of Chefs
By Louisa Edwards

When I first decided to write a culinary romance, it was mostly out of a desire to explore the fascinating, secret world behind the restaurant scenes. Not because I love food, although I do, or because I find cooking endlessly interesting, although that’s true, too.

No. The real inspiration behind the Recipe for Love series is my undying attraction to professional chefs. Guys like Eric Ripert, Anthony Bourdain, Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay, Curtis Stone, Todd English . . . men from all over the world, all different walks of life, who cook many and varied styles of food. So what do they all have in common? What makes them such perfect romantic heroes?

Let’s break it down. A restaurant chef is indisputably the master of his domain. He’s the definition of “alpha”—everything in the kitchen happens under his watchful eye. His subordinates might love him or hate him, but either way, they respect him.

But a chef is also a craftsman. Cooking is a craft, more creative than business or accounting, but not so free-flowing as pure art. There are techniques to master; there is training to complete. Chefs are professionals, but the best of them are also imaginative, intuitive, and a little playful.

And one thing every chef has in common is passion for his work. To be a chef, you have to love what you do, because if you don’t, the crazy hours and back-breaking physicality of the job will do you in.

My chef heroes are all alpha males, who demand and deserve the respect of their peers. To varying degrees, they all possess active imaginations, which they use in the kitchen—and in the bedroom! And each and every one of them is passionate, both in his work, and with his heroine.

Wes Murphy, the hero of Just One Taste, is no exception! Still working his way up the restaurant ladder, he’s ambitious, determined to be the best in his field, and unwilling to be sidetracked by anything—except his lovely food chemistry professor, Dr. Rosemary Wilkins. When a seductive experiment with aphrodisiacs sparks real chemistry between them, however, Wes has to make a choice between his passion for cooking, and his desire for Rosemary . . .





So tell me—who’s your favorite chef? Could be a celebrity with his own show, could be the 85-year-old guy with the beard down at your corner Italian joint, could be your husband rustling up breakfast! But whose passion for food and ability to imagine new flavor combinations makes your mouth water? One of you who takes the time to comment will receive a signature Recipe for Love collection of goodies!

Okay, readers!  Let's hear all about your favorite chef.  One of you lucky commenters will be ready to cook up a little romance in your own kitchen with Louisa's terrific Recipe for Love prize package of two champagne flutes, two spatulas and a "Can't Stand the Heat" apron!

To learn more about Louisa and her books, please visit her website, join her facebook fan page and follow her at twitter.  

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Last Call for Tawny Weber Winners

We haven't heard anything from the randomly chosen winners from Tawny Weber's blog.  This is your last call.  

D. D. Scott
and
Suebooks

Please contact us at theromancedish@gmail.com by Monday, September 27th or we will draw new names from those who commented on Tawny's blog.

Thanks!

PJ's Birthday Winners

I had so much fun on my birthday, I decided to choose two winners!  Congratulations to:

ThroutheHaze

and

Suzy Q

Please send your full name and mailing address to me at theromancedish@gmail.com with 
"PJ Winner" in the subject line.  
Thanks so much to everyone who stopped by Monday to celebrate with me!

Jeanne Adams Winner

The winner of the Dark and Deadly Prize Package from Jeanne Adams is

SiNn

Congratulations!  Please send your full name and mailing address, with Jeanne Adams in the subject line, to theromancedish@gmail.com to claim your prize.

Today's Special - - Interview with Tiffany Clare

Interview with PJ



I am so thrilled to welcome debut author, Tiffany Clare to the Romance Dish today!  Tiffany's first published book, a historical titled THE SURRENDER OF A LADY (check out my "5 Star" review here) will be released September 28th.  This rising star of romance hails from Canada where she lives with her husband and children. You can find more information about Tiffany and her books at her website, www.tiffanyclare.com and friend/follow her at facebook, twitter and goodreads.  You can also catch up with her at the Vauxhall Vixens blog.







Welcome, Tiffany!  Congratulations on the upcoming release of your debut novel, THE SURRENDER OF A LADY! Please tell us a bit about the book.

Thank you!


THE SURRENDER OF A LADY is about a woman’s determination to survive the worst that can possibly be thrown at her. She’s removed (forcibly) from everything she knows and is told to embrace a new lifestyle (living in a harem where her favors will be sold) all in the name of protecting her son. Rothburn is a man with a past that haunts him daily. Temptation isn’t something he can resist easily, especially when he finds the only woman he’s ever loved all his life in the greedy clutches of an Ottoman Prince. Desperation takes a new turn when he risks everything to save her.

Back cover blurb:

THE PRICE OF PASSION…
Sold. With one word, Lady Elena Ravenscliffe’s destiny changes forever. Forced into Constantinople’s slave market to pay off her late husband’s debts and save her son, Elena reinvents herself as Jinan—a harem girl adored by the rich lords who bid on her favors. But one man instantly sees through her façade.


…IS COMPLETE SURRENDER
Griffin Summerfield, Marquess of Rothburn, let Elena slip through his fingers years ago. When he recognizes her on the auction block, he pays an outrageous sum to possess her even if it is for a short period of time. But when his deadline looms, Griffin will risk all in a desperate bid to make her his—and his alone…

This is not your typical romance. Did you set out to write something exotic and different or did Jinan and her story come to you fully formed?

No, I didn’t set out to write something different. My imagination took me there and scared the bejesus out of me in doing so. For a long time I wasn’t sure I was even writing a romance (thank God my crit partners talked some sense into me). I didn’t even know the hero until I’d hit the halfway mark in the book because I was so focused on Elena’s growth and transformation into Jinan. Her story didn’t come to me fully formed, either. I just had an image of a slave woman who was in love and dancing (yet saying good-bye) to the man she loved. That was it. I wrote the scene down (now chapter 10) and went from there.

What would you like readers to know about Jinan and Griff before reading their story?

That true love knows no boundaries and that the heart remains true despite doing things that may be momentarily horrific. I’m still rather disturbed by the way Rothburn steals his princess away  But it’s done with his heart in the right place. And he is such a bad boy!

Is THE SURRENDER OF A LADY a stand-alone or will we meet characters from this story in future Tiffany Clare books?

Yes, the book is a stand-alone. However, you will meet Rothburn’s friend, Asbury, in this book. He is the hero of THE SEDUCTION OF HIS WIFE (Feb 1, 2011, St. Martin’s Press).

This book has been receiving some terrific reviews (including mine). I’m sure there are many unpublished writers who would love to be in your position. What’s the best writing advice you’ve received and what advice would you give to writers still working toward publication?

I was lucky to have this unusual and emotionally wrought book that readers have a hard time putting down whether they love or hate the premise. 

It’s tough to break into publishing, but once you do don’t ever stop pushing yourself because you can always be a better, stronger writer. It never gets easier. The writing path is very different for everyone. I’m no expert (and still learning) but if you really, really want something, you’ll find a way to get it and keep it.

I love discovering new-to-me authors and recommending them to my friends. What authors have you recently discovered who you would recommend?

One new to me author would be Juliana Stone. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed her jaguar shifters and have even talked her into giving me sneak peaks of her upcoming books. They are not to be missed. I know! I’m such a tease!

Yes, you are a tease!  I love Juliana's shapeshifters!  

We love call stories! How did you get the news that your book had sold? Did you do anything special to celebrate? Are you planning anything special to celebrate the release of THE SURRENDER OF A LADY?

My call story is kind of a dream come true. I got an email from my agent letting me know we had an offer (we had yet to receive any rejections) and that we had to stay hush hush because she was going to be her awesome self and drum up the interest with the other editors. So there was lots of silent squeeing as we waited. Another house was interested, and Jinan’s book went into bidding between two houses. Two weeks later I shouted it out to the world that St. Martin’s had bought my trilogy!

I can't imagine how difficult it must have been to keep all that excitement bottled up inside!  

Let’s talk fantasies! Many readers imagine themselves in the lives of the heroines they read about and I’m sure more than a few have fantasized about being forced into a harem like Jinan, stolen away to sea by a pirate, or, perhaps, carried off to a shapeshifter’s lair. Tell us about your favorite fantasy and, just for fun, who would star as the villain and the hero…or maybe they’re one and the same? 

I never pictured myself as a harem fantasy kinda gal. Okay, that’s a lie. LOL I thought I’d try it out. Uh, what’s not sexy about the exotic, lush setting? About a man who loves you so much that you are his WHOLE world! 

Now if we are talking complete fantasyland, I do love me some shapeshifters. I’d take any (or all) of Lora Leigh’s shifters any day, any time. Not sure who the stars of that show would be, though that lovely picture off to the side is what I envisioned Rothburn looked like. How could he not star in anyone’s fantasies? Fiction is sometimes so much more fun than reality. LOL!





I'd be more than happy to let him star in a few of my fantasies! :)

Okay, time for Quick Six!

City or country? City.
Early Bird or Night Owl? Early Birdy.
Bad Boys or gentlemen? Somewhere in between. I want the best of both worlds.
Sweet or spicy? Both.
Car or plane? Neither.
Main course or dessert? Dessert.

What’s next from Tiffany Clare? 

THE SEDUCTION OF HIS WIFE (Feb 1, 2011) 

AN INCONVENIENT SCANDAL


Emma Hallaway has not seen her husband in twelve years—and that’s fine with her. As a young girl, she’d agreed to a simple marriage of convenience, allowing her to pursue her private passion for painting. And though unknown to the rest of polite society, Emma is now one of the most daring and sought-after artists in London. However, when her secret is threatened to be exposed, Emma is forced to open her heart—and her home—to a total stranger: her husband…


AN UNEXPECTED SURPRISE


Richard Mansfield, Earl of Asbury, is all too familiar with danger. As a matter of fact, it is hard on his heels when he returns to England. Still, even he is shocked to learn of his wife’s scandalous double life as an artist. But once he sees the vibrant grown woman she has become—so passionate, so strong, and so alluring—his undeniable attraction to Emma stuns him. Suddenly Richard is determined to turn their sham of a marriage into a true and lasting love. But how exactly does a gentleman seduce his own wife?

THE SECRET DESIRES OF A GOVERNESS (May 24, 2011).

Gorgeous covers!  I can't wait to read the stories that go along with them!

Tiffany, thank you so much for being with us today.  Congratulations again on the upcoming release of THE SURRENDER OF A LADY! 

Would you like to ask our readers a question?

Do you have a harem fantasy? Would you want the love of your life to steal you away all for himself? What if he committed a grave mistake in doing so, would you forgive him?

Also, I’d like to give a signed copy of THE SURRENDER OF A LADY away to two lucky commenters. (I will mail the books as soon as I have my author copies or the day the book releases, whichever comes first).  

And, as a bonus, I'm also giving away one copy of Juliana Stone's first book, HIS DARKEST HUNGER.  (PJ here, popping to say that Gannon and I both loved HIS DARKEST HUNGER and are looking forward to Ms. Stone's next book, HIS DARKEST EMBRACE, due out October 26th!)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Guest Review - - The Countess and the King

The Countess and the King: A Novel of the Countess of Dorchester and King James II
By Susan Holloway Scott
Publisher: NAL
Release Date: September 7, 2010








The Countess and the King is Susan Holloway Scott’s fifth book set in Restoration England with its dissolute court and its political and religious intrigues. This book, like the others, takes a woman who is a minor note in historians’ accounts of the period and brings her to life in vivid detail, enabling the reader to understand the experiences that shaped her, the choices she made, and the strengths and weaknesses that defined her.

By any account, Katherine Sedley was a fascinating woman. She was the daughter of Sir Charles Sedley, a wealthy rake, sometime playwright, and member of the “Merry Gang,” a group as famous for their debauchery as for their wit. Her mother, also Katherine and the daughter of an earl, suffered from delusions, imagining herself the Queen of England and insisting that she be addresses as “Her Majesty.” Scott’s choice of a first person narrator gives the story immediacy and power. The book opens with the young Katherine, not yet ten, leaving her home and mad mother, who was soon after taken to a Catholic convent in Ghent, and entering the libertine world of her father.

Scott reveals the strong bond between Charles Sedley and his daughter, his beloved “Kattypillar,” but the baronet is alternately a cautious and careless father. The child who is not quite ready to part with her favorite doll soon becomes part of a “giddy world of pleasure and amusement and debauchery.” Plain even as a child, she distinguishes herself from the beginning by her wit and her willingness to speak what others would leave unsaid. After three years with her father, she describes herself in terms that struck this reader as poignant:

It is said that the habits established in youth are the hardest to break as the years pass, and certainly that was the case with me. My father’s indulgence gave me much freedom and little guidance, and like the fledgling bird that tries to fly too soon to flutter unformed wings, my first attempts to act beyond my tender years were often not sweet. I told unseemly jests, I swore when I lost at cards, I laughed too loudly, and my ever-sharpening wit was much more suited to one of Father’s libertine friends than a brash, ungainly girl of thirteen.

Katherine’s “five golden years” with her father end when he takes Ann Ayscough as his common law wife, a relationship that angers his daughter on her mother’s behalf as well as her own. Not surprisingly, the libertine’s daughter and the newly fashioned Lady Sedley, who desires to reform her husband’s profligate ways, have a stormy relationship. Thus, when an unexpected meeting with the Duke of York leads to a call from Charles II that Katherine join the court as a friend to the Duke’s bride, she welcomes this new stage of life.

Her years at court lead to heartbreak, scandal, and power. She survives an unhappy love affair, an aborted engagement, and the stratagem of enemies and eventually becomes the mistress of the Duke of York. Shortly after he is crowned James II, he creates Katherine, Baroness of Darlington and Countess of Dorchester. Scott’s portrayal of Katherine’s years at court captures the flamboyance, the machinations, the alliances, and the betrayals of the second Stuart court. By allowing Katherine to tell her own story, Scott gains the reader’s sympathy and admiration for this woman who refuses to conform to the limits her world would have forced upon her, a woman, the antithesis of all her world considers beautiful, whose wit and will enthrall a royal, whom she views first as a conquest but comes to love and understand as a man and as a monarch.

The Countess and the King is historical fiction rather than historical romance, but it offers conflict and romance aplenty to satisfy historical romance aficionados. It lacks a conventional happy ending, but Scott provides an afterward that assures the reader that Katherine found happiness and that she remained a spirited original throughout her life. If you ever sat through a history class that left you yawning, I recommend this book as the perfect antidote. It will show you history as exciting and alive and human. As for me, I’m not sure what Scott has in store for her readers next, but I am sure that I will be journeying with her back into 17th century England or whatever other slice of history she chooses to mine for her fiction.

~Janga