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, March 31, 2011

Lecia Cornwall Winners

The winners of a copy of Lecia Cornwall's historical debut, SECRETS OF A PROPER COUNTESS, are

gamistress 66

and

librarypat

Congratulations, ladies!  Please send your full name and mailing address, with "Lecia Cornwall Winner" in the subject line to theromancedish (AT) gmail (DOT) com.

Coming Attractions for April




Here's a sneak peek of what we have in store for the month of April here at The Romance Dish. We hope you all will drop by often!




We’ll start the month out by helping you put a dent in your wallet with Andrea’s list of New Releases tomorrow, April 1st. It looks to be another good month for romance! No foolin'!





Make Your Reservations on Thursday, April 7th, as we let you know which books we are looking forward to in May. Here’s a sneak peek...






Trish Milburn, also known as Tricia Mills, brings us all the latest and greatest in the world of Young Adult in her Teen Menu on Sunday, April 10th.








On Tuesday, April 12, the multi-talented Colleen Gleason visits to dish about her latest release, The Vampire Voss, which is the first in a new back-to-back series called the Regency Draculia. Super hot vampires in 19th century London...what’s not to love?






Grab a fan before you visit on Friday, April 15th, because I’m sure that Buffie’s latest Hot Dish will make it feel like the middle of summer!







Kris Kennedy, author of sexy medievals featuring dangerous alpha heroes, stops by on Wednesday, April 20th to chat about her upcoming release, Defiant, which hits shelves on April 26th.








The Shadow Guard is historical and paranormal author Diane Whiteside’s first paranormal mystery. She stops by on Thursday, April 21st to give us the scoop!








On Sunday, April 24th, Anna Campbell brings us her Second Helping of a book that you may have missed the first time around. I’ve gotten a sneak peek and I promise that you don’t want to miss this one!







We all get a double dose of Anna Campbell (yay!) this month as she’ll be back in the guest author hot seat on Thursday, April 28th. This time she’ll be dishing about her latest masterpiece, Midnight’s Wild Passion. Isn’t that cover gorgeous??








Urban fantasy and paranormal author Jennifer Estep drops by on Friday, April 29th, to talk about the latest in her Elemental Assassin series, Tangled Threads, out April 26th.







In addition to all this romantic goodness, we’ll have a bunch of great reviews and a few giveaways, too! April is sure to be a good month here at The Romance Dish!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Jodi Thomas winners!

The two random winners of a copy of Jodi Thomas's Texas Blue are:

Joni

and

Carol L

Congratulations, Joni and Carol! Please send your full name and address to theromancedishATgmailDOTcom with "Jodi Thomas winner" as the subject and we'll get your book in the mail. Thanks to all who stopped by!

Review -- The Sweetest Thing

The Sweetest Thing
Lucky Harbor -- Book 2
By Jill Shalvis
Publisher: Forever--Grand Central
Release Date: March 29, 2011







Many of you who visit the blog know how much I loved Simply Irresistible, the first book in Jill Shalvis’s Lucky Harbor series. I was instantly captivated by the three estranged sisters (Maddie, the mouse; Tara, the steel magnolia; and Chloe, the wild child) who were brought together after inheriting a ramshackle inn located in Lucky Harbor, Washington, from their mother when she died. Maddie found her HEA with Jax in Simply Irresistible and in The Sweetest Thing, Tara gets a second chance at love with the very sexy Ford Walker.

Seventeen years ago, 17 year old Tara Daniels came to Lucky Harbor to visit her mother for the summer and promptly fell for a guy who gave her the attention she desperately craved. The only problem was she ended up pregnant. After giving the baby up for adoption in nearby Seattle, Tara returned home to Texas. She was determined to get things right in her life and later married NASCAR star Logan Perrish. Tara was the perfect wife to Logan and gave him her all...which ended up being too much and she lost herself in the process. They eventually divorced and she recently returned to Lucky Harbor after her mother died. At first, she was going to stay only as long as she had to, but she ending up getting sucked into helping her sisters renovate the inn—which made her even more determined to get something right in her life. Working at the local diner to help make ends meet, Tara begins to see Ford around more often. She tries to ignore him and the feelings he evokes in her, but some things are too hard to resist.

Ford Walker has come a long way since that long ago summer spent with Tara. He grew up poor but in time made something of himself when he became a world famous and Olympic gold medalist sailor. He still loves to sail, but now he’s happy running the Love Shack, the town bar, with his pal, Jax. Ford is knocked off his feet when Tara returns to Lucky Harbor and they discover the old feelings are very much still there.

“How is it that we still feel the pull?”

Ford stepped into her, letting her feel
exactly how much he still felt it.

“I mean, it shouldn’t still be here,” Tara whispered against his throat as his arms came around her. “I shouldn’t...”


Ache for you.

“Some things just are,” he said softly against her hair. “Day turns to night. The ocean tide drifts in and out. And I want you, Tara. Damn you, but I do. I always have.”

Then, her ex-husband comes to Lucky Harbor with the single-minded purpose of winning Tara back. And if that wasn’t bad enough, someone else comes to Lucky Harbor to meet and get answers from the people who gave her up at birth.

I love this book! I just can’t say enough, how much I do. Maddie, Tara, and Chloe are nothing alike, yet each have characteristics that I share. Tara is the oldest (like me) and likes to be in control. She wants things done her way and I am that way with certain things in my life. Many people think she’s uptight, but Ford knows differently:

He wasn’t much into being bossed around, even by an incredibly beautiful woman who was anal retentive and a bit of a control freak.

Well, unless they were in bed. He didn’t mind then, not as long as he got to return the favor.

But there was something about Tara that drew him in spite of himself, that snagged him by the throat and held tight. Maybe it was the tough-girl exterior, which he knew barely covered a bruised and tender heart. He’d seen that heart once...


Like any relationship, Tara and Ford’s takes work. They each have to deal with their own shortcomings in order to be together. Ford let her go the first time because he felt that she was made for better things than being stuck with him. And Tara felt like Ford wasn’t the type to stick around for the long haul. I love both characters and enjoyed watching them reconnect and deal with their problems in a completely mature way.

This book had me laughing out loud—from Ford and Logan trying to show each other up, to Tara and Chloe’s sisterly bickering, to the townsfolk creating a Facebook page to see who Tara would end up with. It also made me tear up when Ford and Tara’s daughter, Mia, had heart-to-heart talks with each of her parents. And of course, it had me sighing during the deliciously sexy scenes between Tara and Ford.

I adore this series and Ms. Shalvis’s writing—I just can’t get enough of her books. As you can guess, I am very much looking forward to Chloe’s story, Head Over Heels, which comes out in December. In the meantime, I’ll reread my copy of The Sweetest Thing because it really is the sweetest thing.

~Andrea


You can order your copy of The Sweetest Thing here:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Book Depository (Free worldwide shipping)
Books-A-Million
Borders

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Today's Special - - Lecia Cornwall

I love discovering new authors and sharing them with my romance-reading friends so I'm doubly delighted to introduce you today to Lecia Cornwall, a new author who is making a very big splash in the world of historical romance.  Secrets of a Proper Countess, Lecia's debut novel from Avon, releases today and it's a very special treat - one that I read in one delicious gulp.  If you haven't heard of Lecia or her book yet, you will very soon.  Secrets of a Proper Countess is getting rave reviews!  

Lecia says she longs for the elegance, grace and adventures of the past and has been writing historical stories since fourth grade.  A former direct marketing copywriter, she now lives in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies and writes full-time while taking care of her family of "four cats,  two teenagers, a crazy chocolate lab and one very patient husband."  You can learn more about Lecia at her website, "like" her on facebook and follow her on twitter.  Please give Lecia a warm Romance Dish welcome as she shares the real details of a day in the life of a romance writer. 


Ah, the glamorous life of a romance author! Do you picture your favorite author penning her next novel in a feather boa, wearing pink chiffon like Dame Barbara Cartland?

You’d be surprised to know the truth!

I don’t have a feather boa. One of my cats would pounce on it and eat it. There’s no pink chiffon, either, just jeans and a comfortable sweater, because I have to run to the grocery store, walk the dog, and pick up my daughter from jazz rehearsal. When I come to work in the morning, I sit down in my sensible office chair at my IKEA desk and turn on my laptop.

And then the magic happens.

This morning, my latest heroine barely escaped with her life. She was whisked out of harm’s way in the nick of time by her hero. Of course, if she hadn’t had courage and quick wits of her own, the story might have ended right there. But the next chapter will find her in the candlelit glow of an elegant ballroom, the air filled with the sibilant swish of silk gowns, the trill of a lady’s laughter as a gentleman dares to flirt, and the fragrance of flowers…

But in this world it’s time to let the dog out. Or the cat in.

Once that’s done, it’s back to write the breathtaking moment in the story when the masks come off, and the hero and heroine really see each other for the first time. No more masks, no more secrets. They recognize their perfect mate, flaws and all, and love…




has to wait for a panicked e-mail from my son, who’s away at university. Can I e-mail him that recipe for making ginger beer in the bathroom using only ginger, a lemon and an empty pop bottle? Sure. What are mothers for?



What about my villain? Is he believably evil? No spy movie bad guys need apply, thank you—the type who hold the hero at gunpoint while they drone on and on, proudly revealing their plans to blow up the world. To be a satisfying character, the villain has to be as brilliantly crafted as the hero. He thinks he’ll win, and for a moment or two, the hero and the reader must believe he just might. If not for the heroine’s timely….


The phone is ringing. Can I make eight dozen cookies for a bake sale in support of a worthy cause? Of course I can. The worthy cause is something near and dear to my heart, just like…



the need to get the hero out of danger (did I really agree to eight dozen?! Now the hero isn’t the only one in jeopardy!). As a writer, it’s my job to make the impossible not only possible, but believable. I hate being able to guess the ending of a book. Of course there’s always a happy ending in a romance, but it’s the twists and plot turns along the way that ensure the heroine is worthy of her hero and the story is worth reading. I love a happy ending …

Kipper 

But it’s time to walk the dog. Far from being an interruption, this is my time for thinking, planning and working out story problems. Kipper and I take a quiet path down by the Bow River. There are wild geese, deer, and a pair of bald eagles that keep watch from the same tree every day. Kipper chases his ball, and I think. It’s a very peaceful part of the day.

Then it’s time for errands, school pick-up, dinner, pet care, homework, laundry, and baking eight dozen cookies.

In bed, I read someone else’s book or I work on my own, planning what I’ll write tomorrow. I plot a difficult chapter by looking at the possibilities. If the heroine makes a particular choice, I list how it might play out within the story. If she does the opposite, then there will be other consequences. I choose the path that works best, and plan the rest of the chapter.

Am I lucky to be doing this for a living? Yes! I’ve dreamed of being a writer all my life. In the long process of learning how to write a book and getting published at last, I’ve come to believe that things happen when they do for a reason. With two kids with hectic school schedules, in multiple school bands and a dozen other activities, I couldn’t have managed a writing career and a busy family a few years ago.

Now my eldest is in university, and my youngest is in her last years of high school, and I have time to devote to my career. Part of my desire to be published stems from wanting to make my children proud, to show them dreams can come true if you do the work, keep learning, and don’t give up. That’s the real secret to luck.

When I wake up tomorrow, I’ll step back into the past again, maybe into a rose garden as the lovers share a passionate, unforgettable kiss. And if my luck holds, I can keep coming back to the magical world of proper countesses and improper rogues every single day.

Everyone has a favorite scene from a romance novel that stays in our hearts forever. What’s your most memorable scene?


Lecia has generously offered to give a copy of Secrets of a Proper Countess to two randomly chosen people who leave a comment on today's blog. 



Secrets of a Proper Countess
by Lecia Cornwall
Publisher:  Avon
Release Date:  March 29, 2011

There are secrets we take to the grave...
and some we just take to bed.

Cinderella meets the Scarlet Pimpernel...

If Lady Isobel Maitland is caught even speaking to an incorrigible rogue like the Marquess of Blackwood, she stands to lose everything she holds dear. Strict rules in her husband's will ensure that if she remarries or even forms friendships her mother-in-law does not approve of, then she will never see her young son again. But one night, in a dark garden at a masquerade ball, Isobel gives in to temptation, and lets an innocent flirtation turn into seduction.

Phineas Archer, the notorious Marquess of Blackwood, may hold the reputation as the worst rake in London, but as a spy for the crown, he merely plays the role of a fool to learn the most closely guarded secrets of the ton.

As a new threat to England's success in the war against Napoleon emerges, Phineas must foil a plot to kidnap the exiled Bourbon heir to the French crown. Every clue seems to lead to his mysterious lover, but while Phineas can spot trouble a mile off, and see through the cleverest of disguises, he cannot find any trace of his elusive femme fatale. No man alive would imagine the prim widow Maitland could be his dream lover. But behind the mask and the secrets, Isobel is everything Phineas has ever desired....


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Monday, March 28, 2011

Review -- Never A Gentleman

Never A Gentleman
The Drake's Rakes Series, Book 2
By Eileen Dreyer
Publisher: Forever
Release Date: March 29, 2011






Grace Fairchild has spent her entire life painfully aware of her shortcomings. Plain of face, incredibly tall and thin, and walks with a limp due to a bad leg. Not exactly attributes that have suitors lining up outside her door. A soldier's daughter, Grace is practical above all, but that doesn't stop her from dreaming and longing to be loved by the man of dreams. She thinks she is in the midst of a very sensual dream one night when she awakens to find herself naked and in bed with an equally naked man. And not just any man, but the ton's most dashing rogue!

Diccan Hilliard has no idea how one of his enemies managed to drug him, strip him and place him in Miss Grace Fairchild's bed. But he knows what his next step must be; they must be married without delay, for neither he nor Grace can afford a scandal. Even though Diccan has always liked Grace---he'd nicknamed her Boadicea once upon a time---he had absolutely no desire to spend the rest of his life with her. And Grace didn't want to be married out of duty and obligation. But marry they do, and Diccan is surprised that he desires Grace, and the feeling is very mutual. Their passion for one another continues to grow, but Diccan is up to his neck in secrets and intrigue. Can their fragile relationship survive his lies just as they realize how much they need each other? And will they have the future they both deserve before an enemy from the past takes their lives?

I completely adored Barely A Lady, the first book in the Drake's Rakes series, but I do believe I loved Never A Gentleman even more. Grace and Diccan captured my attention when they first appeared in Barely A Lady---there was so much more that I wanted to know about them---so I'm thrilled that Eileen Dreyer gave them their own story. The marriage of convenience is one of my favorite tropes, and Grace and Diccan's marriage certainly qualifies. Diccan is charming, the darling of the ton, but many times he is more like a bumbling fool when it comes to dealing with his growing feelings for Grace. Is there anything better than watching a man brought to his knees by the woman he loves?


He'd once nicknamed her Boadicea. He'd been more right than he knew. She was magnificent. A goddess; a warrior queen clad in a tattered old scarlet Guards' jacket, sensuous as summer. And he wasn't the only one who saw it. Men smiled. Ladies straightened in saddles, unwilling to be shown up. He felt himself swell with unfamiliar pride. He had always respected Grace. For the first time since he'd run from her bed, he thought he understood why she had so thoroughly aroused him.


Grace is a heroine I could completely picture being friends with. She's loyal, intelligent and witty. She's been told all of her life how unattractive she is, and while she longs for a man to love her, she never thinks it will happen. She is reluctant to marry Diccan under the circumstances they find themselves in, but she knows that this may be her only chance to have a husband, maybe have children someday, and show him that she can make him happy....in bed and out. Diccan shows Grace her sensual side and she revels in it. But she wants more than desire; she wants Diccan's love.


But worse was to come, for after such primal, explosive lovemaking, Diccan untied her, tossed away the blindfold and carried her to the luxurious four-poster bed where he made thorough love to her again, this time with gentleness and tenderness and a smile that could capture the heart of a stone.

It captured her, the bits that hadn't already succumbed. And when she fell asleep, still in his arms, she knew she had made a grave error. She had wanted him too much to protect her heart. She had pretended it didn't matter that only one of them had meant the love they shared.


Because this is a romance, we know that Grace and Diccan will get their happily-ever-after, but getting there is a long and often painful process. Diccan betrays Grace in many ways---it's for his job and duty to his country, but that doesn't make it less painful---and when Grace discovers this, I could almost feel her shock and pain like a blow to the solar plexus. I ached for her, cried for both her and Diccan, and felt my heart break much like hers. By the end of the story, Grace's heart was mended by the love she and Diccan shared, and my heart was also put back together piece by piece with every page I turned.

Never A Gentleman will have readers experiencing the entire gamut of emotions and turning the last page with a sigh of satisfaction. While this book can stand alone, I recommend reading Barely A Lady first, so you can learn more about Grace and Diccan, as well as the rest of the stellar cast of secondary characters, including Lady Kate---Diccan's cousin and Grace's dearest friend---whose story is next. Ms. Dreyer has written another winner. Fans of historical romance won't want to miss this one. Never A Gentleman is now on my keeper shelf next to Barely A Lady, and I'm saving a spot for Always A Temptress which will be released this summer. Those Drake's Rakes know how to sweep a lady off her feet, so start reading this series and get swept away.

~ Gannon

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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Operation Auction



You've got a friend in me
You've got a friend in me

You've got troubles, well I've got 'em too
There isn't anything I wouldn't do for you
We stick together and we see it through
You've got a friend in me
You've got a friend in me


While this song may bring back memories of the move Toy Story, I felt these lyrics were perfect for today’s blog.

One of the many things I love and admire about the romance community is how it supports all the members of the community in a positive, loving way. And starting today, you can support one of our fellow romance enthusiasts. See we, the romance community, have a friend in need.

Many of you may know Fatin, the wonderful lady who runs the RR&H Novel Thoughts blog. I “met” Fatin (or Mad as many of us know her) years ago when I first began visiting romance novel forums on the internet. The forum at Romance Reader At Heart was one of the first forums I felt truly comfortable discussing the books I read. The group of women there were so welcoming to a newbie like me. Nancy, Julie, Kristal, Fatin and so many others welcomed me with open arms and encouraged my love of romance novels. Fatin was forever suggesting new authors to me, many of which turned out to be my favorite authors. As the organizer of the Secret Santa book exchanged every year, she made sure everyone had a blast and man was it fun! Ever since the first year I participated in the exchange, I have received a beautiful handcrafted card from Fatin during the holiday season. From one crafter to another, I understand the time and love she puts into making every card. Fatin is just so sweet to remember me (and I am sure many others). She has such a sweet and gentle spirit!

Fatin not only runs the RR@H Novel Thoughts blog, but she is also an administrator of the WriteMinded loop, an author assistant and a tireless advocate for romance novels. In addition to her love for all things romance, Fatin is the proud mother of four very beautiful daughters.

On March 8, 2011, Fatin’s life changed forever. Her beloved husband was shot and killed while working at the convenience store the family owns. Sammy was known throughout the community as a man who would put a smile on your face and help anyone in need. This sad and senseless violent act has left four girls without a father and Fatin without the love of her life.

Since learning of this terrible incident, love and support has poured in from every corner of the romance community. And starting today you can show your love and support also. Operation Auction, a benefit auction for Fatin and her lovely girls, will be held today through Tuesday, March 29, 2011.

You can visit Operation Auction here.

To find out information about Operation Auction or to simply make a donation, please click here.

There are so many wonderful things up for auction, including but in no way limited to critiques by published authors and editors, gift cards, Nooks, autographed books. You name it and its probably there.

And of course The Romance Dish will be contributing a wonderful basket to Operation Auction. Here’s a brief description of our basket: Huge gift pack including $40 gift card to Amazon or Barnes & Noble (winner’s choice), an assortment of handcrafted chocolates, goodies, and 20 books signed by authors. All titles will be listed at auction.

So take some time over the next three days and please check out the auction. While you will be indulging in your love of romance, you will also be helping out a wonderful friend and sister of the romance community.

In addition to Operation Auction, an education fund has been established for Fatin’s four daughters. Checks can be mailed to the following address. Be sure to include all lines when address the envelope.

Soufan Family Fund
RBC Bank
2340 Sunset Avenue
Rocky Mount, NC 27804
M-C 000-005-0100


We hope that you will support Fatin and her girls!


~ Buffie

Saturday, March 26, 2011

And the Finalists Are...

They're a bundle of nerves, confident in their skills but hardly daring to hope...waiting for the phone to ring with the news. Will this be the year? Will their hard work, dedication, sweat and tears be rewarded by their peers? Will they have to join the gym, go on a diet and scour the internet for that perfect dress? That's right, friends. It's that time of year again. Time to announce the finalists for the coveted 2011 Romance Writers of America RITA®, the award that honors the year's outstanding published novels and novellas in 13 categories. The calls went out yesterday and by now, the finalists have most likely exhausted their supply of bubbly and have moved on to those critical stages previously mentioned; namely diet, exercise and that all-important dress. For, you see, while the RITA® awards may not have a red carpet or TV coverage, they are no less glamorous and when you gather 1000+ women for a formal event, believe me, we all want to look our best! Following is a list of this year's RITA® finalists. The award winners will be announced Friday, July 1st at the RWA National Conference in New York City. Our congratulations and sincere best wishes to all!

Note: Many of the nominated books have been reviewed here at The Romance Dish. Click on the highlighted titles to read our reviews.

YOUNG ADULT ROMANCE
Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles
Clockwork Angel
by Cassandra Clare
Chasing Brooklyn by Lisa Schroeder
The Clearing by Heather Davis
I Now Pronounce You Someone Else by Erin McCahan
The Iron King by Julie Kagawa
The Summer of Skinny Dipping by Amanda Howells

INSPIRATIONAL ROMANCE
A Convenient Wife by Anna Schmidt
Doctor in Petticoats by Mary Connealy
Finding Her Way Home by Linda Goodnight
Maid to Match by Deanne Gist
Shades of Morning by Marlo M. Schalesky
The Wedding Garden by Linda Goodnight
Whisper on the Wind by Maureen Lang
Within My Heart by Tamera Alexander
In Harm's Way by Irene Hannon

NOVEL WITH STRONG ROMANTIC ELEMENTS
The Dead Travel Fast
by Deanna Raybourn
Blood Vines
by Erica Spindler
Killbox
by Ann Aguirre
The Search
by Nora Roberts
Stormwalker
by Allyson James
On Folly Beach
by Karen White
Wanna Get Lucky?
by Deborah Coonts
Welcome to Harmony
by Jodi Thomas

ROMANCE NOVELLA
"Blame It on the Blizzard" by Jennifer Greene in Baby, It's Cold Outside
"Mountain Rose" by Cheryl St. John in To Be a Mother
"Love Me to Death" by Maggie Shayne in Heart of Darkness
"The Wrong Brother" by Maureen Child in Under the Millionaire's Mistletoe
"A Dundee Christmas" by Brenda Novak in That Christmas Feeling
"Friendly Fire" by Jill Shalvis in Born on the 4th of July
"Mistletoe Magic" by Sandra Hyatt in Under the Millionaire's Mistletoe
"Shifting Sea" by Virginia Kantra in Burning Up

CONTEMPORARY SERIES ROMANCE
Christmas Magic on the Mountain by Melissa McClone
Christmas With Her Boss by Marion Lennox
Dare She Date the Dreamy Doc? by Sarah Morgan
Red-Hot Renegade by Kelly Hunter
An Unexpected Father by Lisa Ruff
Zoe and the Tormented Tycoon by Kate Hewitt
Breaking the Sheikh's Rules in the Summer Sheikhs anthology by Abby Green
Welcome Home, Cowboy by Karen Templeton

CONTEMPORARY SERIES ROMANCE: SUSPENSE/ADVENTURE
A Cop in Her Stocking by Ann Voss Peterson
Perfect Partners? by C.J. Carmichael
Renegade Angel by Kendra Leigh Castle
The Baby's Guardian by Delores Fossen
Case File: Canyon Creek, Wyoming by Paula Graves
Meltdown by Gail Barrett
The Moon That Night by Helen Brenna
To Catch a Killer by Kimberly Van Meter

HISTORICAL ROMANCE
Countess of Scandal by Laurel McKee
Last Night's Scandal by Loretta Chase
One Wicked Sin by Nicola Cornick
His at Night by Sherry Thomas
A Kiss at Midnight by Eloisa James
Open Country by Kaki Warner
A Little Bit Wild by Victoria Dahl
The Forbidden Rose by Joanna Bourne

REGENCY HISTORICAL ROMANCE
To Surrender to a Rogue by Cara Elliott
His Christmas Pleasure by Cathy Maxwell
When Harry Met Molly by Kieran Kramer
Provocative in Pearls by Madeline Hunter
Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean
The Mischief of the Mistletoe by Lauren Willig
Twice Tempted by a Rogue by Tessa Dare
The Wicked Wyckerly by Patricia Rice

PARANORMAL ROMANCE
A Highlander's Homecoming by Melissa Mayhue
Enemy Within by Marcella Burnard
Marked by the Moon by Lori Handeland
Sins of the Heart by Eve Silver
Immortal Sea by Virginia Kantra
Water Bound by Christine Feehan
Rebel by Zoe Archer
Unchained: the Dark Forgotten by Sharon Ashwood

ROMANTIC SUSPENSE
Edge of Sight by Roxanne St. Claire
The Darkest Hour by Maya Banks
Silent Scream by Karen Rose
Deadly Fear by Cynthia Eden
Indulgence in Death by J.D. Robb
Kill Me Again by Maggie Shayne
Love Me to Death by Allison Brennan
Two Lethal Lies by Annie Solomon


FIRST BOOK
Enemy Within by Marcella Burnard
Firestorm by Kelly Ann Riley
When Harry Met Molly by Kieran Kramer
A Tailor-Made Bride by Karen Witemeyer
The Iron King by Julie Kagawa
I Now Pronounce You Someone Else by Erin McCahan
Pieces of Sky by Kaki Warner
The Summer of Skinny Dipping by Amanda Howells
Wanna Get Lucky? by Deborah Coonts

CONTEMPORARY SINGLE TITLE ROMANCE
And One Last Thing by Molly Harper
Happy Ever After by Nora Roberts
Lead Me On by Victoria Dahl
Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis
Not That Kind of Girl by Susan Donovan
Nothing But Trouble by Rachel Gibson
One Fine Cowboy by Joanne Kennedy
Still the One by Robin Wells

We're also sending out Congrats to all the finalists for the Golden Heart, RWA's award for excellence in unpublished manuscripts, especially to Romance Bandit buddies Anna Sugden and Nancy Northcott!

How many of the books listed above have you read? Do you have any favorites to win the
RITA®? Any books that didn't make this year's finals that you think should be there? Will you be in NYC this summer for the awards ceremony? Let's dish!

~PJ

Friday, March 25, 2011

Review -- A Song For My Mother

A Song For My Mother
by Kat Martin
Publisher: Vanguard Press
Release Date: April 5, 2011





I wrote a song for my mother, but I never played the notes. It spoke of the love I felt for her, my gratitude for all she had done. It told her how much I owed her for the years of her life she gave me.

I wrote a song for my mother, but I never sang the words.

Now she is going and the song is only a fading memory, a soft ache that reminds me of the unsung melody locked away in my heart.



This is such a beautiful love story! But not in the way you are thinking. Though there is a romantic interest in this story, the main focus is on the love and relationship between a mother and a daughter, forgiving the past and forging a new future.

Dropping out of high school and running away with the town’s resident bad boy was Marly Hanson’s way of dealing with a difficult childhood. Vowing never to return to her childhood home and watch her father abuse her mother again, Marly cannot believe she is here, back in the little town of Dreyerville staring at the door of her parents’ home while the butterflies in her stomach dance in chaos and the emotions of the past swirl in her heart. The one and only thing that could ever bring Marly back to Dreyerville is the love she feels for her 10-year old daughter Katie.

Marly is a very strong woman. After her loser husband split town for good, Marly worked her way through college while raising a fabulous little girl. But watching her sweet Katie battle cancer and all of its treatments was something no mother should ever experience. Watching a child in pain is heartbreaking and devastating for a parent. So when Katie pleads and pleads and pleads to finally meet the woman who is her Grandmother, Marly quickly agrees … if for nothing else but to see the smile on her little girl’s face.

While Marly is disconcerted about visiting her mother, Winnie Maddox is thrilled beyond words, or as my own Grandmother would say … her cup runneth over. Winnie cannot wait to hold her only child in her arms again. A dozen years is just way too long. Not only that, but she finally gets to meet her only grandchild, Katie. Sadden by the disease that has attacked the little girl’s body, Winnie is thankful for the opportunity to meet and love this little miracle.

Three generations of women, all anxious about their time together but all hopeful for a happy ending. It does take Marly a while to warm up to Winnie, but as the conversations slowly begin Marly starts to realize Winnie is still the woman she loved as a child. As the past is dealt with bit by bit, the future begins to look brighter and when Marly is introduced to Winnie’s next door neighbor, handsome sheriff Reed Bennett, Marly begins to think a future in Dreyerville might be a possibility. A very strong possibility. Reed is like no man Marly has ever met. He is not some loser like her ex-husband, instead he stands by his word, loves his son and seems to enjoy life even after losing his wife in a car accident a few years ago.

“Mothers did the best they could. They didn’t always make the right choices, but they did their very best.

Just as she had done with Katie. Just as Emily had done with little Tommy.

Just as her mother had done with her.

Marly’s throat closed up and tears burned behind her eyes. So many years had passed. So many wasted years. Maybe it was time for that to change.”


I will say it again, this is such a beautiful love story!! I enjoyed watching the journey of Marly, Winnie and even little Katie. The joy of motherhood and the all-encompassing love between mother and child are felt throughout this book. There were many times I wiped away tears from my eyes as I read. Kat Martin has a special touch when writing about mothers and their children. There was such sweetness, love and deep-abiding affection throughout the book. I have to say that my heart was touched by this book. If you are looking for a great afternoon read, one that will have you reaching for the phone to call your mother or child, then this is definitely the book for you.

Today we will be giving away one copy of A Song For My Mother to a random commenter. So tell me, dear reader, one of your favorite memories of your mother.


~ Buffie

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Brande-ing Yourself as a Writer

by Anna Campbell

Today's review is something of an experiment! Watch out - if you don't wear protective clothing, you'll turn bright orange!

Well, maybe not...

When the lovely Dishes and I talked about doing a monthly review, we thought it might be fun to shake up the romance mix with the occasional research/nonfiction book.

So I thought today I might talk about my favorite how-to book. I know this is primarily a readers' site but we get a lot of aspiring writers here too - and I've found readers are often interested in how writers put the books together.

Are you ready, Igor, my strangely handsome lab assistant?

They'd sold out of ugly evil minions when I went to the Frankenstein's Helper shop and so I was left choosing between Igor Boreanaz, Igor Armitage and a discounted Igor Day-Lewis (this model dates from his Last of the Mohicans days - he was a remainder, you know the LAST, which is why he was so cheap). Because I always keep the Dish budget in mind, I took the IDL but he keeps losing things and shouting "I WILL FIND YOU" which is a tad distracting when I'm working on major scientific research in the lab, especially as he turns the shower on full-tilt every time he yells. And he keeps shooting the lab rats - sheesh!).

Oh, enough idle persiflage! Dorothea would NOT approve!

Wonderful Aussie historical romance writer Anne Gracie put me onto BECOMING A WRITER by Dorothea Brande. And I'm so glad she did. The book was originally published in 1934 and I think the fact that it's still available speaks for itself.

Dorothea Brande was an editor and writing tutor when she wrote BAW in response to what she saw as a need for a book that addressed the deeper issues writers face, beyond writing techniques. As she said, a lot of problems for writers are psychological and nothing to do with whether they can put a plot together or handle deft changes of point of view. Over and over, you need to know how to focus your mind and get over a writing slump and keep your writing fresh.

The book is short (my edition is 186 pages including an eight-page introduction by John Gardner and an index and the print is HUGE! I read it in a couple of hours) and concise and contains practical exercises for getting your mind on track for writing. Dorothea addresses herself to the beginner writer but I've been writing for many years and I still found her advice invaluable. Some of the exercises have since become familiar - like morning pages and making an appointment with your muse so you sit down to write at a specific time every day. Training muses can be almost as hard as training Igors! She also has wonderful advice about getting away from words now and again. As Dorothea says, we're continually surrounded by words in speech, in the media, in books. We need to do something non-verbal to refresh alternate parts of our brains so when we sit to write we're fresh and we can hear our own words in contrast to someone else's.

I've read hundreds of writing how-tos (well, I would, wouldn't I?). This one stands out as a book that really has helped me to write. I suspect if you're engaged in any sort of creative endeavor, this book offers pertinent advice.

So do you have a special technique for focusing your mind on a task you must do and you WANT to do but somehow you can't find the discipline to sit down and complete? More importantly, any hints for managing an out-of-control Igor?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Review -- The Vampire Voss

The Vampire Voss
Book of the Regency Draculia, Book 1
By Colleen Gleason
Publisher: Mira
Release Date: March 22, 2011








Regency London – a dizzying whirl of balls and young ladies pursued by charming men.
But the Woodmore sisters are hunted by a more sinister breed: Lucifer's own.
Voss, also known as Viscount Dewhurst, relishes the sensual pleasures immortality affords. A member the Dracule – a cabal of powerful, secretive noblemen marked with a talisman that reveals their bartered souls – the mercenary Voss has remained carefully neutral ... until Angelica.
Angelica Woodmore possess the Sight, an ability invaluable to both sides of a looming war among the Dracule. Her very scent envelops Voss in a scarlet fog of hunger – for her body and her blood. But he is utterly unprepared for the new desire that overcomes him – to protect her.
Now Voss must battle his very nature to be with Angelica ... but this vampire never backs down from a fight.

Voss Arden, Viscount Dewhurst is a rake, a cad, a profligate scoundrel...and a vampire. One of the Dracule, Lucifer's chosen, he is concerned only about his own pleasure and indulging it in every way, be it sex, blood or both. Voss has now returned to England with news that fellow vampire---and enemy---Cezar Moldavi is searching for Chas Woodmore, the vampire hunter who has abducted (or possibly eloped with) Cezar's sister, Narcise. Voss happens to be on a hunt of his own--- for the Woodmore sisters who are said to have the Sight. He plans to use the sisters for his own selfish reasons, but he must get around Dimitiri, Earl of Corvindale, another Dracule, who has been made the Woodmore sisters' temporary guardian while their brother Chas is missing. Voss's immortal world is turned upside down when he meets Angelica Woodmore at a ball. Her beauty and her blood call to him, but he also has an overwhelming need to protect her from Moldavi and his ilk.

Angelica Woodmore has had the Sight for as long as she can remember, the ability to touch an item belonging to another and "seeing" their death. As upsetting as such things can be, she has made peace with her gift. One evening while attending a ball, she spies a man across the room---someone she has seen in her dreams....falling to his death from a bridge. Ignoring propriety, Angelica rushes up to him, telling him what she has foreseen. Little does she know, she's speaking to a vampire who cannot die from a mere fall. Voss is standing next to his friend, Brickbank---the man from Angelica's dream---and he is thrilled that Angelica is one of the Woodhouse sisters. Each moment that passes with Angelica near him, Voss becomes more enthralled with her, and she finds him equally fascinating. But when Angelica discovers that he is one of the creatures her brother hunts will her fascination to fear and revulsion?

Voss and Angelica are thrust together time and again; Voss saves her from attacks by Moldavi, but when she discovers that he is a vampire, Angelica sees it as a huge betrayal and wants nothing more to do with Voss. But the heart often overrules the head. If Voss wants to save their relationship, he will have to look deep into the heart he's not sure he has and be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice.

Colleen Gleason begins her newest vampire trilogy with this tale of lust, betrayal, and the healing power of love. The world of the Dracule is dark, dangerous, unpredictable, and never-a-dull-moment entertaining. Gleason is the master of the Regency vampire world and fans of her Gardella Vampire Chronicles will devour this new series beginning with The Vampire Voss. And readers won't have to wait long for the next two books; The Vampire Dimitri will be released April 19th, and The Vampire Narcise will be released May 24th. Plenty of great reading to "sink" your teeth into. Bon appetit!

~ Gannon

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Today's Special -- Jodi Thomas

We are so happy to welcome back one of the most beloved authors who "takes you to the heart of Texas", Jodi Thomas! Her novels have garnered many awards (including the coveted RITA) and continue to hit the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists. Her latest gem is the fifth in her popular Whispering Mountain series and releases April 5, 2011. Please welcome Jodi back to The Romance Dish!



TEXAS BLUE, my 31st book, will be out in April and I had a great time with this adventure across Texas. First, I opened in 1875, with two friends parting ways one stormy night in Austin. Duncan, a Texas Ranger, is off to fight at the border and Lewt, a gambler, plans to find a wife while his friend is away.



Duncan, called Duck when he was a boy in earlier books, is wild and fearless. Lewt has never done anything brave and never plans to.

Lewt decides to join a group of men Duncan hand selected to travel to Whispering Mountain and meet his three female cousins. Though Lewt knows his friend would never introduce a gambler to his rich relatives, he wants a chance for more than just a life in saloons.

The reader steps into two stories running at once. Duncan fighting, being hurt in the fight, being held captive and Lewt learning how to act around women he doesn’t have to buy a drink to talk to. Both learn and grow as they discover what is important in life.

Ride along with me and I promise I’ll take you through Texas from a ranch big enough to be its own kingdom to a fight in Texas history that became a legend the Texas Rangers still repeat.



TEXAS BLUE is a story that has been in my head since I wrote TEXAS RAIN four years ago. I knew the little boy that Travis McMurray finds tied to a rope at an outlaw camp would have to grow up and become a great Texas Ranger. I also fell in love with a shy little girl who loved horses in TALL DARK AND TEXAN and wanted to see her as a woman strong enough to run the ranch.

So, writing TEXAS BLUE was like coming home to characters I already loved.


I know my readers are going to love this story as much as I loved writing it. For those of you who would like more about what was happening at the ranch before Lewt arrives, check my website http://www.jodithomas.com/ and read two chapters that had to be cut from early in the book. Remember, they haven’t been edited so jump over the misspellings.

Thanks for reading and I’d love to hear from you.

Jodi Thomas



Do you like revisiting characters from previous books? Is it like coming home for you? Who are some of your favorite characters that appeared in books before their own happily ever after was told? Two lucky commenters will each win a copy of Texas Blue!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Bronwen Evans Winners



The random winners of a copy of Invitation to Ruin are:


Penfield

kmannrn

Regina Jeffers



Congratulations to all of you! Please send your full name and e-mail address to Bronwen Evans at
romance(AT)bronwenevans(DOT)com

Review - - Shiver of Fear

Shiver of Fear
By Roxanne St. Claire
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing - Forever
Release Date: March 29, 2011






When I pick up a Roxanne St. Claire book I know I’m about to embark upon a roller coaster ride filled with thrills and chills, romance and intrigue and enough twists and turns to keep me on the edge of my seat far into the night. Shiver of Fear, St. Claire’s newest book and the second installment in her Guardian Angelinos series, more than fulfills that promise.

Adopted by a wealthy Boston family, Devyn Sterling has lived the life of a privileged socialite and although she’s been curious about her roots she never could have imagined the true facts of her birth or how many lives would be put in danger by learning those facts.



I’m sorry, Dr. Greenberg. I know you don’t want to meet me, and I really planned to respect that wish, but I told my husband your name and I don’t know if he told anyone else before he was murdered. Just in case he did, I thought it only proper that I be the one to screw up your life…And while I’m here, can we talk about why you gave me up?

Devyn tracks down her birth mother, Dr. Sharon Greenberg, and finding photos of herself from birth to present day in her home, knows that the woman who gave birth to her has never forgotten her. But then she discovers that the renowned scientist is missing in Northern Ireland and in danger. Feeling an undeniable bond with the mother she has never known but who has followed her life so closely, Devyn crosses the ocean to find her and bring her home to safety. 

Former FBI agent, Marc Rossi misses the excitement of field work and is more than happy to accept the Guardian Angelinos’ newest “unofficial” FBI assignment; finding Devyn Sterling in Northern Ireland and convincing her to come home – without letting her know who he is or who he’s working for. Should be a piece of cake for someone with Marc’s experience, but things that should be easy rarely are. It quickly becomes clear that more people than the FBI want Devyn out of Ireland and that she and Marc have  stumbled into the middle of something that could have a devastating world-wide impact.

Then there’s the impact Marc and Devyn have on one another. Marc knows better than to get involved with someone on a job, he’s been there before with devastating consequences, but Devyn is nothing like what he expected. She’s warm, intelligent, funny and sexy and the two of them set off enough fireworks to light up the sky. But with both the bad guys and the good guys after them, and time running out on their search for Devyn’s mother, will they even be able to stay alive long enough to explore the feelings growing between them? And, after being betrayed by her late husband, when Devyn discovers that Marc has been lying to her will she forgive him or will his betrayal send her straight into the arms of her deadliest enemy?

Once again, St. Claire has brought to life a gripping story that kept me reading late into the night.  The action is fast-paced; close enough to real life world events to keep me riveted to the pages, with twists and turns that left me gasping with shock and heartbreaking moments, poignant in their simplicity, that brought tears to my eyes and an ache to my heart.  While the bulk of the story is set in Ireland, the final chapter and epilogue return to Boston to bring together the familiar members of the Angelino-Rossi clan that I've grown to love and help set the stage for the next book in the series (Vivi's story).

I highly recommend Shiver of Fear and Roxanne St. Claire's suspenseful, thrilling and deeply emotional Guardian Angelinos series. 

Note:  While this book stands on its own just fine, for maximum enjoyment (and a clear understanding of the back story) I would strongly encourage you to read the first Guardian Angelinos book, Edge of  Sight, before reading Shiver of Fear

~PJ

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