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

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Coming Attractions




March is one of my favorite times of the year. Not only is it the month when my favorite flower (daffodil) is usually in bloom, but it is also the month full of birthdays in my family. My mother, my brother and I all share March as our birthday month. And fellow Dish Gannon does too! March is going to be a fabulous month here at The Romance Dish. We have a lot in store and hope to see you throughout the month. ~ Buffie



We kick off the month with New York Times bestselling author Kat Martin on March 1. Kat’s newest romantic suspense novel, Against the Night, was released on February 28.


March 2 is the day you need to show up with a pen and paper because that is when Andrea gives us the list of New Releases for March. There are quite a few fabulous books coming out this month.




Debut historical author Leigh LaValle stops by on March 6, the day her novel The Runaway Countess releases.


Ready for a sneak peak of books coming out in April? On March 8, Andrea provides that with her Make Your Reservation blog.


On March 10, Trish Milburn/Tricia Mills shares the latest news in YA publications and movies. The Hunger Games movie will be out on March 23 … anyone else planning to see it?


I am already in full blown *ahem* research mode for March 15 when I share my latest Hot Dish pick. So many options ….


Looking for several book reviews in one single day? Well, we have got you covered! Our Stock Up Saturday Reviews will be posted on March 17.



On March 20, multi-published author Lois Greiman visits with us.




Debut romantic suspense author Joan Swan blogs with us on March 21. Her debut novel, Fever, was released on February 28. I have read this book and it is a fantastic debut!! My review will be posted this month too.




On March 24, Anna Campbell returns with her monthly review blog. Wonder what Anna has been reading lately….




All of this AND reviews and giveaways throughout the month. I think March is going to be another great month at The Romance Dish.

~ Buffie

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Today's Special -- Q&A with Sarah MacLean



I am thrilled to welcome back New York Times and USA Today best-selling author Sarah MacLean to the blog today. As many of you know, Sarah burst onto the historical romance scene with her debut, Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake, the first in her Love by Numbers series. Now, she delights readers again with the first in her Rules of Scoundrels series, A Rogue by Any Other Name (sure to be another best-seller). So, without further ado...





Hi, Sarah, and welcome back to the Romance Dish! It is an absolute pleasure to have you dishing with us today. :)

So happy to join you today! You know I love hanging out here at the Dish.

Congratulations on your latest release, A Rogue by Any Other Name, which comes out TODAY! It received a starred review from Library Journal, was named an RT Top Pick!, and received five stars here at the Romance Dish (scroll down to see my review or click here). Can you tell our readers a little about the story?

Anyone who has read Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke’s Heart knows that I just couldn’t leave Penelope to a life of sad boredom once she was jilted by Simon. She deserved better. She deserved to be the heroine of the first book of my new series! And here’s the best part—she deserved a hero who was going to love her desperately—much more desperately than Simon could have.

So, I gave her Bourne, the coldest, cruelest, quietest of the heroes in the Rules of Scoundrels series. Nine years ago, Bourne lost everything that wasn’t entailed in a single turn of the cards. He’s spent the decade since rebuilding his fortune, and preparing for his revenge. When he gets a shot at it, he takes it...even though it comes with a bit of baggage—namely a wife. Enter Penelope!

A Rogue by Any Other Name is the first in your new Rules of Scoundrels series. How are the books connected? And where did the idea for the series come from?

I’ve always been drawn to two things about 19th Century London:

First, I love society. I’m fascinated by the way that people were either born into favor, or had to claw their way there, and the way that—no matter how favored you were—everyone was one bad idea or clandestine moment from falling from grace. Second, I love the underworld. The sketchy, dark corners of this young, growing city, filled with prostitution and thievery and gambling. I suppose it was only a matter of time before I wrote a book merging the two.

The Rules of Scoundrels series is my homage to those two sides of pre-Victorian London. The books are born from the idea that society and the underworld are not so far from each other, and not so different after all. The premise is simple—four one-time aristocrats, royalty in society, each having fallen in some way or another, come together to found a casino—The Fallen Angel—and become royalty of a different sort.

I think readers are going to love how you merged the two worlds together. Penelope is a secondary character from Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke’s Heart and I am so glad you gave her a happy ending. As you mentioned, she truly deserved it! Did you always know she would be a future heroine?

I didn’t know she’d be a future heroine when I started writing Eleven Scandals, but the moment I wrote the scene at the betrothal ball, when Juliana (the heroine of Eleven) meets Penelope in the ladies’ salon and watches her wash her hands, I knew I couldn’t leave her jilted. She was too special. I like to think that if I hadn’t given her her happily-ever-after, Juliana would have stepped in and done it herself.

LOL! That sounds exactly like something Juliana would have done! Rogue takes place in 1831 and many scenes occur in a gaming hell in London. How much research did you have to do and what is the most interesting fact you discovered?

I knew I wanted the series to have a sense of time and place in a way that my other books haven’t. I wanted the hell to feel like it was its own character, like it breathed and had a life and secrets of its own. To do that, I had to learn everything I could about gaming hells. Once I was down the rabbit hole of research, I discovered a fascinating character, William Crockford, the grandfather of the modern casino.

The history on the man himself is hazy, and he’s more myth than fact these days, but its generally accepted that he grew up the son of a fishmonger in Temple Bar and pulled himself up by his bootstraps, first running dice games in the slums of London, then his own small hell, and finally trading up for an enormous casino at 50 St. James’s, just across the street from White’s. Where White’s offered a civilized place for men, Crockford’s offered vice and sin and fun...and the aristocracy ate it up.

There are dozens of great stories that I’ve uncovered about Crockford and his eponymous hell—and many of them will end up in the series, I’m sure. But one of my favorites is this: Crockford wanted the best of everything...and when he decided he wanted something, he went out to get it. On one particular occasion, he decided that he wanted to have the best chef in the world working for him—so he went and stole him. Right out from under Napoleon himself.

Wow! That is really fascinating. I enjoy learning little known facts. Sarah, I have to tell you that I absolutely adore the letters that are included within A Rogue by Any Other Name. They are tender and sweet and absolutely perfect. Did you write them before, during, or after writing the book?

Thank you! They’re my favorite part of the book, too, and I have to confess that they almost didn’t happen. I’d had the idea to include some kind of chapter header from the beginning, and for a long time, I thought it would be Penelope’s diary. But there came a point while I was in revisions when I realized that Michael and she had exchanged letters...and they were written all at once, in one day, 24 hours before the book was turned in for copy-editing. Now, I cringe at the idea of the book without those letters! Talk about down to the wire!

Oh my goodness, I couldn’t imagine the book without those letters, too! They really help to illustrate how close Penelope and Michael once were.


Inside the Fallen Angel is a huge stained-glass mural of Lucifer that is described as “beautiful and grotesque—the perfect backdrop for this den of vice”. Is it based on a real picture?

It is! While I was building the Angel, I knew I wanted it to be largely based on the idea that Lucifer was more than pure evil. The idea—the concept of sympathy for the devil—has artistic and literary legacy, and I was reading anything I could find to inspire the architecture (concrete and theoretical) for the club. After all, I was planning to tell four stories of the redemptive power of love—could there be a devil worthy of that redemption?

While looking, I found a stunning statue, Le Genie du Mal, by Belgian artist Guillaume Geefs, and this piece is unbelievably beautiful. It depicts Lucifer, but he’s young and handsome and a remarkable specimen of divinity. He looks like an angel should look. And it’s only when you get close to the statue that you see his perversions—horns, talons, a chain wrapped around one ankle—and his tears.

Here was the Lucifer I was looking for! The statue became my stained glass window.

It is an absolutely beautiful statue! And it certainly helps me to “see” what the mural inside the Fallen Angel looks like. Okay, let’s talk about Bourne. He is a total bad boy hero and is now right up there with my all-time favorite, Saint from Suzanne Enoch’s London’s Perfect Scoundrel. Who are some of your favorite bad boy heroes?

Wow! That Bourne is in the same sentence as Saint is high praise indeed! Thank you! We all love the bad boy, don’t we? I’ve always been a sucker for them...since I was far too young to know what I was getting into. My earliest bad boys were in black and white: Marlon Brando as Stanley Kowalski and smoking, drinking James Dean. As I aged and started reading romance, I came to love pirates. James Mallory from Lindsey’s Gentle Rogue, Vashon from Meagan McKinney’s Til Dawn Tames the Night, Lazar di Fiori from Gaelen Foley’s The Pirate Prince...the list goes on...

LOL! Ah, yes, we love our bad boys. *g* I know that you’ve been to London many times (lucky girl!). What is your favorite part of London today? What former building/landmark do you wish was still there to see?

I adore London and have since I was a child and we would spend summers visiting with my British grandparents. Every time I go, I spend the first day doing the exact same thing: A wander through Hyde Park to Green Park, then up St. James’s (have to see White’s, after all), over to Bond and then zigzagging through the little mews and alleys of Mayfair. It’s hard to pick a favorite place in the city, but as a romance reader, it’s hard not to love Mayfair!

As for wishing I could see something that is no longer there, these days I’m longing for Northumberland House, which was an enormous estate (held by the Duke of Northumberland) that actually sat on the Thames and had a huge piece of land that stretched down to the river. It’s hard to imagine such an estate in the central London of 2012, but it was there in the 1830s (demolished by the height of the Victorian era), and it’s the model for Dolby House, the London home of the Marquess of Needham and Dolby, Penelope’s father.

Out of all of your heroines (including the one you’re currently writing), which of them is most like you and why?

Oh, that’s so hard! There’s some of me in all of them. I would say that Callie has my self-doubt, Isabel has my fear of failure, Juliana my impulsiveness, Penelope my game face, and Pippa (my current heroine)...well, she’s odd.

My sister read and loved your YA book, The Season. She would like to know—are you going to write more YA books?

Yay! I’m so happy she enjoyed it! I’m absolutely getting back to YA. Just as soon as I figure out how to manage the deadlines for the next books in the Rules of Scoundrels series. I miss YA a lot...the community is wonderful and collegial, and nothing beats getting emails from young readers.

Many readers (including me!) fell for a previous secondary character, Benedick, Earl of Allendale (Callie’s brother from Nine Rules). You know that I have to ask—do you ever plan to write a story for him?

Ahh...the Benedick question.

When I start a book, I have no idea which secondary characters will appear, or how important they will become. And in the case of people like Benedick, I really have no idea of who readers will love.

But what I can tell you is that it’s not as easy as sitting down and saying, “Today, I’m going to write Benedick’s story.” In this particular case, Benedick’s heroine hasn’t shown up. I’m hoping that someday she will, because he’s just as real to me as he is to you, and I’d like to see him have his happily-ever-after!

We’ll keep our fingers crossed that his heroine will show up soon! I know that much of your time is taken up with writing (which so many of us are positively grateful for!), but what do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Right now, I’m on deadline, so it feels like the answer to this question is “Sleep.” But here are the things that I’m dreaming of: getting back into my kitchen—I have a crazy recipe for merengue that I’m dying to try; taking my dog for longer walks...he deserves them and I need them; wandering around New York City to “fill the well.” I’m due for a trip to the Met.

When I read the epilogue for A Rogue by Any Other Name I literally squealed and thought YES! *g* Can you share with our readers what is up next for you?

Sure thing! This winter, look for One Good Earl Deserves a Lover...the story of the second partner in The Angel—the math genius—Cross, and the woman who runs him in circles.

I’m also working on a new YA project, which hopefully will make for good news in the next few months!

Yay! I’ll add One Good Earl Deserves a Lover to my TBB list!


Okay, it’s Quick Six time!

Coffee or tea? Coffee just out of bed, tea just before it.

Alpha or beta? Alpha in fiction, beta in reality.

Heels or flats? Shoes. The more the merrier.

Early bird or night owl? Night owl. But I long to be an early bird.

Comedy or drama? Comedy. Life has too much drama to begin with!

Chocolate or vanilla? Vanilla.


Love the shoe answer. *wink* Thank you so much for answering all my questions, Sarah. Now, it’s your turn—is there anything you would like to ask our readers?

I confessed some of my favorite rogues above, and this month on my blog some of my favorite writers have joined me to tell me about their favorite rogues—I’ve had Shana Galen on Han Solo, Sophie Jordan on David Beckham and Lorraine Heath on Lord Dain from Lord of Scoundrels—your turn! Who is your favorite rogue?

Avon has graciously offered to give away a copy of A Rogue by Any Other Name to one lucky commenter (living in the United States; no P.O. Box, please).
Since I loved this book, I will also give one copy away to one lucky commenter (open to anywhere Book Depository ships).

Please state in your comment if you live in the USA or abroad. Thanks!

~Andrea

Monday, February 27, 2012

Review -- A Rogue by Any Other Name

A Rogue by Any Other Name
Rules of Scoundrels--Book 1
By Sarah MacLean
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: February 28, 2012





I have been looking forward to this story since I closed the last page of Sarah MacLean’s previous book. Those of you who have read it know why. We have longed for poor Penelope’s book. Well, let me say that she is poor Penelope no more. She has certainly come into her own at the talented hands and creative mind of Ms. MacLean.

Eight years ago, Lady Penelope Marbury suffered a massive scandal when her fiancé, the Duke of Leighton, broke off their engagement and married another. Penelope held no ill will toward the duke and his love match. In fact, she wanted that, too, and has used their love as an example of what she hoped and continues to hope to have one day. Though, the prospects are slim now that she is twenty-eight. When her childhood friend, Tommy, proposes, Penelope can’t give him an answer right away because she has never felt...that way toward him and feels he’s offering out of pity. Later, her father tells her he has added Falconwell, the neighboring estate, to her dowry and has spread it around London in the hopes that it will finally get his oldest daughter married off. The sprawling estate once belonged to her other childhood friend Michael, Marquess of Bourne. When Penelope sees Michael again after so many years, he is a completely different man from the boy she knew and she longs to know what happened to him.

Michael Lawler, Marquess of Bourne lost everything he held dear with the flick of one card nine years before. Since that fateful night, he has plotted revenge against the man who at one time took care of Bourne after his parents’ deaths only to create the opportunity to take it all away. In the meantime, Bourne has risen up and more than earned back the money he lost by becoming a partner in one of London’s most famous gaming hells, but even that can’t give him back his beloved Falconwell. To do that, he must marry Lady Penelope...and he intends to accomplish that by any means possible. But if he thinks she’s just going to hand it over with no strings attached, he is gravely mistaken. Bourne knows that nothing can come of their marriage because he has ruined everything of value he’d ever held so he tries to protect Penelope by staying away. But, of course, that is easier said than done.

I love this book! Right after I finished it, I immediately went back and reread all the parts I marked with post-it tabs. And I used many post-it tabs. *g*

Penelope is a kind, thoughtful, and selfless heroine that I could see myself being friends with. My heart broke for her when she was jilted at the end of Eleven Scandals. She feels like that scandal caused her twin sisters to “settle” in their marriages and she doesn’t want the same for her youngest sisters...or for herself. She truly fears rejection.

He stared at her then, for long moments, until she couldn’t bear watching him anymore for the fear that he might reject her. For it was rejection that she was most used to when it came to his sex. Rejection and refusal and disinterest. And she didn’t think she could bear those things now. From him. Tonight.

Dealing with the cold and cynical Michael gives Penelope the courage she needs to get what she wants. I admire her for not giving up on him no matter how much of a jerk he is. And yes, he is a jerk at times, but it absolutely fits his bad boy persona. I love bad boys and Bourne is one of the best. He isn’t a “bad boy with a heart of gold”, but rather a bad boy who buried his heart and never had need of it until Penelope comes back into his life. She helps him find it again. She helps him use it again. Plus, it’s hard to resist a man who says things like: “I’m going to corrupt you.” and “You make my mouth water.”, or this exchange between the two:

She exhaled audibly, and he turned his head toward her, giving her a view of one perfectly curled ear.

She’d never noticed anyone’s ears before.

“What is it?” he said, his voice a low gravel.

“‘It’?” she asked.

He rolled to his back again, jostling the blanket and baring one of her arms to the cold air in the room. When he replied, it was to the ceiling. “I know enough about women to know that sighs are never simply sighs. They indicate one of two things. That particular sigh represents feminine displeasure.”

“I’m not surprised that you recognize the sound.” Penelope could not resist. “What does the other indicate?”

He pinned her with his beautiful hazel gaze. “Feminine pleasure.”

Heat flared on her cheeks. She supposed he would easily recognize that, too. “Oh.”


This is just one of my favorite parts. I also simply adored the letters between Penelope and Michael scattered throughout the story. Honestly, I could go on and on, but will allow you to read it and choose your own favorite parts.

I am totally invested in this series and am dying to learn more about Bourne’s partners...especially after reading the epilogue. All I can say is YES! A Rogue by Any Other Name is a must-read for fans of historical romance. It made me smile, laugh, sigh, and cry. Sarah MacLean is a gifted writer and if you haven’t read her books yet, you are really missing out. I highly recommend them all!

~Andrea

Sunday, February 26, 2012

It's Time to Indulge!



Don’t Miss the “Indulge in Our Favorite Authors” Epic Book Giveaway Contest!

If you haven’t already heard, five romance authors are holding an epic book giveaway contest of *their* five favorite romance authors’ books. But they’re not just giving away a few books—they’re giving away complete, SIGNED backlists of the following authors:

Julia Quinn (sponsored by Shana Galen)
Lisa Kleypas (sponsored by Elise Rome)
Julie Garwood (sponsored by Heather Snow)
Elizabeth Hoyt (sponsored by Lila DiPasqua)
Cynthia Eden (sponsored by Vanessa Kelly)

Yes, it’s an epic contest, and it’s being held on Facebook right now. All you have to do is visit the Facebook pages of Shana Galen, Lila DiPasqua, Vanessa Kelly, Heather Snow, and Elise Rome, and enter the favorite book (the hint is given on the contest tab) for each of these authors.

At the end of February the contest will be over—so hurry!—and five lucky winners will win a backlist of one of the amazing authors mentioned above.

Elise has said that Lisa is even signing her books after the winner is chosen for her backlist, so if you win Lisa Kleypas’ books, they’ll be personally made out to you.

Also, the five authors are giving away books of their own, too.

Good luck to everyone who enters, and don’t forget to tell your friends!


~ Buffie

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Last Call




Last call for one of our winners from Elizabeth Bevarly's visit.  

FELICIA

Please send your full name and address to theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com no later than midnight Sunday, February 26th to claim your books.  After that time we will draw a new winner.

Friday, February 24, 2012

They Seek Him Here, They Seek Him There...

by Anna Campbell

I must admit to a huge fondness for the Scarlet Pimpernel character. Sir Percy Blakeney for president, as far as I'm concerned. Sink me! There's something breathtakingly appealing about a man who is willing to sacrifice everything, including the love of the wife he adores, to save innocents from death and torture. He's clever and he's witty and he's suffering (because of said wife). Who can resist him?

Baroness Emmuska Orczy penned this swashbuckler in 1905 and it's been a hit ever since. It's a rare writer who can create a fictional character who becomes part of the culture. You really have to capture people's imaginations for one of your creations to achieve such immortality.

Actually the weird thing about doing this review is that right now I'm writing a vaguely Pimpernellish hero. Secret identity? Tick. Snappy dresser? Tick. Sharp and clever tongue (no comments from the peanut gallery)? Tick. Self-sacrificing heroism? Well, maybe he has to work on that, but he gets the idea by the end of the story, thank goodness. And when he gets the idea, he gets the girl. This particular hero of mine has been germinating in my mind for months but it never occurred to me until a good friend, Denise Rossetti, recently suggested THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL as a future review for the Romance Dish that it was time to re-visit the original model.

Ha! Sometimes things are more obvious than the nose on your face and you still don't see them!

I read this book many years ago (if I tell you how many, I'll have to kill you). I remember getting it out of the school library in grade eight after I saw the 1934 British film late one night. That movie stands up surprisingly well for something that old - Leslie Howard makes a very dashing Pimpernel and Raymond Massey is a great baddie. I never really warm to Merle Oberon but you don't really watch this movie for the gals. The version of THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL that I absolutely adore is the 1982 one with an incredibly handsome Anthony Andrews who conveys a tormented heart in a most picturesque fashion. Again, I'm not crazy about the Marguerite in this version either. Jane Seymour is an icy beauty, a bit like Merle Oberon. But I dare your heart not to flutter when AA stares longingly at the wife he thinks is a French spy. Sigh.

So when I picked up the book for this review, I think it's fair to say that my principal recollection of the story was via the screen. So my re-read offered a couple of surprises. The first is that the book is almost completely told from Marguerite's point of view.

Just a quick precis of the plot for anyone who hasn't read/seen it. During the French Revolution's Reign of Terror, a mysterious Englishman called the Scarlet Pimpernel and his band of brave lieutenants spirit large numbers of aristocrats out of France to safety in England. Nobody knows who the Pimpernel is but the French government would dearly like to know so they can catch him and send him to the guillotine. He's a master of disguise and fiendishly clever and he's making fools of the French authorities. A French agent, Chauvelin (boo, hiss), is sent to London to ferret out the Pimpernel's identity. Chauvelin blackmails beautiful Frenchwoman and former actress for the Comedie Francaise, Marguerite Blakeney, to discover the Pimpernel's identity. If she doesn't cooperate, her brother will go to the guillotine.

Marguerite marries foppish Sir Percy Blakeney after a whirlwind courtship. On the day of their wedding, Percy learns that Marguerite betrayed an aristocratic family to their deaths and things have been pretty sour in the marital home since then. Marguerite has come to despise her husband, who minces around the court wearing fancy clothes and making bad witticisms (except they're kinda cute, but then I like a good/groanish pun). Secretly, she's more than half in love with the dashing SP but agrees to unmask him when Chauvelin threatens her brother's life. Much intrigue and derring-do follow until Marguerite discovers that Percy is the Pimpernel and Percy discovers that the woman he adores is worthy of his love after all. All this with foiling the bad guy and rescuing another bunch of aristos? Bonus!

Cheers all round! Huzzah!

Anyway, getting back to the book. I was surprised at how little Percy is present in the story compared to the dominant role he takes in the movie versions. Much of the book, in between the intrigue, details Marguerite's unhappiness and disappointment in her marriage. Having said that, the story absolutely gallops along. If you think something written in 1905 is going to be slow and staid and stuffy, think again.

One disappointment for me - and this probably has something to do with literary fashion in 1905 - is that the Baroness gets shy at the end when Marguerite and Percy have finally discovered each other and they're in love and you know, mush, mush, mush. Here, there isn't much mush and I WANT MY MUSH! My fingers itched to take up my pen and write the scene where they each declare their love and how silly they've been to doubt one another. You know, the last chapter of your standard romance novel. But still, I suppose you can't have everything and there's plenty to enjoy in THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL.

This book definitely qualifies as a romance classic. It's interesting to re-visit the books that established romance as such a popular genre and the character archetypes who still appear in modern stories.

So have you read THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL? Have you seen any of the screen versions? Do you have a favorite? Why do you think Percy Blakeney/SP has enjoyed such enduring popularity?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Heather Snow Winner

The winner of a signed copy of SWEET ENEMY from Heather Snow is

fsbuchler

Congratulations!  Please send your full name and mailing address to us at theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com with "Heather Snow Winner" in the subject line.



Guest Review - - Blame It On Bath


Blame It on Bath
By Caroline Linden
Publisher: Avon
February 28, 2012
  




Blame It on Bath is the second book in Linden's The Truth About the Duke series.  The events in the book run mostly parallel to the events in Book One, One Night in London.

Gerard de Lacey is the youngest of the three de Lacey brothers who will lose their position within aristocratic circles if they can’t prove false the claim that their father’s marriage to their mother was a bigamous union. As the third son, Gerard has always expected to make his own way, albeit cushioned by his status as the son of a duke and personal gifts of good looks and charm. With a successful military career behind him, he expects to marry wealth. Since that expectation now has a greater likelihood of being fulfilled if he finds a bride before the scandal concerning his possible illegitimacy spreads beyond London, he is prepared to find a wife soon. But he is not prepared for the mysterious woman who approaches him and proposes he marry her.

Katherine Howe, the plain daughter of an acknowledged beauty, is determined that her second marriage not be as miserable as her first. Her first husband, a profligate who wasted her dowry and borrowed large sums from her father, was neglectful and at times abusive. Her father stipulated as a condition of the loans that they be repaid in the event of Katherine’s widowhood. Her husband’s heir, who knows that repaying the loans will bankrupt his estate, is pressuring Katherine to marry him. Her mother, who doubts her graceless daughter can do better, adds to the pressure. When Katherine hears the rumors of the de Lacey illegitimacy, she remembers a young man who was once kind to her and conceives her outrageous plan, a plan that will free her from another boring, repressive marriage and give Gerard de Lacey the fortune he needs.

Once Gerard accepts Katherine’s proposal, he takes charge. He confronts the heir and Katherine’s mother with a fait accompli. The heir is furious, but Mother is delighted with the connection to the Duke of Durham. Clearly she’s untroubled by the rumors. Gerard has planned to go to Bath in search of the person who blackmailed his father, and the only change his marriage makes is that Katherine, whom he insists on calling Kate, will now accompany him. The mystery thread continues, but the heart of the book is the making of a marriage between charismatic Gerard and contained Kate.

The two discover shared pleasure in bed, but physical intimacy does not translate to emotional intimacy. The test of the marriage is whether Gerard can allow Kate inside his private world before he loses her.

I’m a fan of marriage of convenience stories, and this is a good one. Kate is one of my favorite kinds of heroine, the woman who begins as quiet and unassuming who develops confidence and an awareness of her worth. I loved Katherine become Kate, watching her discover the difference the right clothes made in her looks and in her feelings about herself. The novel is as much about Kate’s self-discovery as it is about her and Gerard falling in love.

But all the growth that takes place is not Kate’s. Gerard transforms from a carelessly kind charmer into a man who can see beyond the surface and recognizes that a “quiet glow” is more valuable that attention-grabbing sparkle. I found the changes in both more credible because they take place gradually, sometimes accompanied by regression into former attitudes. And I cannot say how happy I was that what could have been a Big Misunderstanding instead results in these two people talking to one another. Would that we saw that more frequently in romance!

Fans of the first book who are eager to see the mystery of the blackmailer solved may be disappointed that so little progress is made on that front. But I’m sure all will be revealed in The Way to a Duke’s Heart, scheduled for release on August 28. I am eagerly awaiting the solution to the mystery and even more eagerly anticipating seeing Charlie fall in love.

~Janga

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Today's Special - - Heather Snow


We love hosting debut authors here at TRD and it's especially fun when said author's debut book has blown me away.  That's exactly what happened with Heather Snow's SWEET ENEMY.  It's fresh, emotional and fast paced, with engaging characters and an underlying mystery that kept me guessing through most of the book.  When I turned the last page, my first thought was, "How long do I have to wait for the next book from this wonderful new author?"


Please give Heather a warm welcome!


I am thrilled to be here at The Romance Dish today!  Thank you, ladies, for having me.  It’s hard to believe SWEET ENEMY came out two weeks ago, today.  It’s a bit strange knowing that my words are out there in the world, and it’s been wonderfully surreal, hearing from readers who have loved Liliana and Geoffrey’s story.

But unlike many authors, I haven’t been waiting my whole life for this moment.  I didn’t set out to be a writer at all.  In fact, my degree is in Chemistry.  So today I thought it might be fun to talk about how, a left-brained chemistry major like me went about creating a formula for love on the page…

First, inspiration struck.  I went to an exhibit at a science and technology museum (I know…it doesn’t sound romantic, but truly, it is what inspired me to write romance!).  The exhibit introduced me to a scientific event that happened in the Regency period that I’d never heard of before, and while perusing the fascinating display, a “What if?” mystery formed in my mind involving a scientist from that day and age.  I couldn’t get it out of my head over the next few weeks.  But while I love a good mystery, I love a good romance even more.  I knew if I were going to write a story, it would have to be a romance…so I decided to tackle a novel that had both.

I knew nothing about writing, though.  So what would any good scientist do?  I went about it methodically—that’s my natural way of approaching anything first.  I pulled my six favorite books of all time and evaluated them from all angles.  I wrote my own synopsis of the stories, boiled them down chapter by chapter, character by character as I would if I were trying to analyze an unknown substance in the lab.

Oh, you can laugh.  I laugh at myself now, too, though I do think that process helped me get my head around what I was trying to do.  I thought a lot about how I could make my book stand out…how could I twist things to make it fresh and yet still deliver a great story?  That’s when I decided to make my heroine the scientist.  In most books I’d read, if anyone got to be a scientist-type, it was always the hero.  And blast it all, why should the men always get to be the interesting ones? ;)

So Liliana, my Regency-era lady chemist was born.  As I settled on the idea, I liked it more and more—as a woman with a chemistry degree myself, I felt I could lend a unique perspective to her character.  I got to create a woman who went against the mold, and even better?  I got to design the perfect hero for her—a man who was strong and self-assured enough to let her be who she would.

And then, I experimented.  A lot.  I learned that writing romance and chemistry were more alike than I’d imagined!  There are rules to follow, and some you can break when you want to experiment.  Historical romance, like science, requires careful research.  Most chemical reactions require a catalyst to drive them, just like characters require motivation to drive the story forward.  And finally, both chemistry and writing, if done well, involve a precise mixture of elements and careful manipulation to achieve that perfect reaction that makes you want to sigh with satisfaction.

I hope you find Liliana and Geoffrey’s story quite sigh-worthy. 

I’d love to know what elements of a great romance make YOU sigh with satisfaction?  One commenter will receive a signed copy of SWEET ENEMY. 

Sweet Enemy...
A Veiled Seduction Novel ~ Book One

"Historical intrigue and heart-pounding passion make Sweet Enemy a great read.  Romance fans will love it." ~#1NYT Bestselling Author JULIE GARWOOD


Geoffrey Wentworth, a war hero and rising political star, never wanted to be the Earl, but when his brother dies, he knows his duty—take up the responsibility for his family’s estates.  His mother’s definition of duty differs from his, however, and can be summed up in one word—heirs.  When Geoffrey rushes home to answer her urgent summons, he finds himself host to a house full of women, all vying to become the next Countess of Stratford.  But his love is Parliament, where he wields his influence and reputation to better the lives of ex-soldiers, until a tempting houseguest and a secret from his past threaten his freedom…and his heart. 

Liliana Claremont, a brilliant chemist, doesn’t want to be any man’s wife, much less a countess.  If she had tuppence for every time she’d been told her place was filling the nursery, not experimenting in the laboratory, she could buy the Tower Bridge.  However, when she receives a coveted invitation to the Earl’s house party, she trades in her beakers for ball gowns and gladly takes on the guise of husband hunter—for the chance to uncover what the Earl had to do with the murder of her father.
Liliana believes the best way to get the answers she needs is to keep her enemy close, though romance is not part of her formula.  But it only takes one kiss to start a reaction she can't control...

If you’d like to read the Prologue and first Chapter of Sweet Enemy, you can find it here.


~



Heather Snow is a historical romance author with a degree in Chemistry who discovered she much preferred creating chemistry on the page, rather than in the lab.  She is forever trying to wrangle her left and right brain to work together (some days with more success than others!), but if her two sides had to duke it out, left would win every time—which can be a creative challenge.  Luckily, she loves challenges…she just goes about solving them analytically. 

Heather lives in the Midwest with her husband, two rambunctious boys and one very put upon cat.  She sincerely hopes you find her stories have just the right chemistry…

Please visit her at www.HeatherSnowBooks.com, on Facebook www.facebook.com/authorheathersnow or on Twitter www.twitter.com/HeatherSnowRW
Sweet Enemy is available wherever books are sold and at these fine retailers.

 Rainy Day Books (Heather’s local Indie)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Are You Pinning?

I have a new love.  No, let's call it what it is.  I have a new obsession...and it's all Trish Milburn's fault!  (read her recent blog at Romance Bandits here)  I had heard of Pinterest though I wasn't exactly sure what it was.  Several friends had recommended I give it a try but I resisted.  Frankly, I have a hard enough time already fitting everything I need to do into my daily schedule.  The last thing I needed was to add something new - something that looked like it had the potential to become a huge consumer of my precious time.  But then I read Trish's blog and my intrigue level ratcheted up a few notches.  I decided to ask my facebook friends who were already "pinning" what they thought of Pinterest.  The responses came fast and furious:

"It's fun!" 
                                                                 "Like window shopping.  You see some fabulous things." 

"It's addicting!" (I was a little fearful of this one)

"It's a great place to find recipes!" (This last one from a long-time friend who knows me well.  It was the one that tipped me over the edge.)

So, with enthusiastic recommendations - and an invitation from a friend - in hand, off I went to explore the wonderful world of Pinterest.  The first pages I visited had fewer than five boards on them and a mere smattering of photo "pins."  This reinforced my conviction that I could control the time spent on this new venture.  Then I visited Buffie's (she with the mad scrapbooking skills) page...and the aforementioned conviction was blown to smithereens.  Clearly, I had not thought this through.  Not only did this new online neighborhood have the potential to absorb countless hours of my time but just surfing Buffie's gloriously populated boards would fill an entire day on its own.  The crafts!  The food!  The photos!  The food!  Donuts and cookies and cupcakes, oh my!  Not to mention Cherry Stuffed Pork Chops, Quick Apple Dumplings, Balsamic Bruschetta Chicken and Miniature Monte Criscos.  Forget the time!  Clearly, this was someplace I needed to be.

I have now been an official Pinterest member for two whole days and, in that time, I've discovered that, yes, it can consume your time...if you let it.  But I've discovered a flip side.  It can also save time!  No more searching through closets and drawers looking for that elusive recipe I wrote on the back of an envelope.  I just pin it to my Food board and it's right there waiting for me anytime I'm in the mood to make that particular dish.  It's a great place to house all those interesting photos I see on the internet (so many cute dogs!) that I might want to use in a blog someday (but can never find again when I need them).  I'm redecorating my bedroom and looking at oodles of curtains, comforters, rugs and other accessories.  How convenient to have photos of all of them on my Home board to help me make decisions!

Of course, I've also set up boards on my page for those all-important books we love to read.  I have one for books I've reviewed, one for books I recommend and another for books I want to read (like the Paris memoir from Eloisa James on the left).  I'll slowly be adding more titles to those boards as well as the other boards I've started.

All in all, I think I like this new neighborhood.  The residents seem friendly, it's easy to find my way around and exploring the diverse and fascinating boards makes me happy.  Click here to see my page, but remember, it's still a work in progress! :)

Are you on Pinterest?  What boards do you have (or would you put) on your page?  I have a "Books Worth Reading" board on my page.  If you had one of those, what books would you put on it?   




Let's dish about "Pinning" on Pinterest.  I have a book from my prize stash for one random person who leaves a comment on today's blog!

~PJ

Sunday, February 19, 2012

J.L. Saint Winners

The winners from J.L. Saint's visit are

Katie

and

Monica M.

Congratulations, ladies!  Please send your email address to us at theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com.


Saturday, February 18, 2012

New Kellie Kamryn winner!



We have drawn a NEW WINNER of a copy of Eloisa James's When Beauty Tamed the Beast from Kellie Kamryn's visit!

deerdoe69 (aka Donna)

Congrats, Donna! Please send your full name and address to theromancedishATgmailDOTcom with "Kellie's winner" as the subject and I'll forward your info. Thank you!

Stock Up Saturday



A Town Called Valentine
Valentine Valley—Book 1
By Emma Cane
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: January 31, 2012


After a bitter and painful divorce, Emily Murphy returns to Valentine, her mother’s hometown in the Colorado Rockies, to try and pick up the pieces of her life. Her plans are to sell the store her family owned there and use the money to go back to school—UC Berkley—in the fall. Her plans didn’t include sharing a heated embrace with a sexy cowboy immediately after arriving in town. Emily is embarrassed afterward and doubly so when she has to ask the handsome Nate for a ride when her car won’t start. Nate takes her to the store and Emily discovers that the former tenants left the place in shambles, including the apartment above where Emily intended to stay. Nate offers to take her to his grandmother’s boarding house and Emily agrees, but only until she can fix the store up. Because of a lack of money, Emily plans to do the repairs herself. Soon she learns that in a small town, nothing is kept secret and others are more than willing to lend a helping hand.

Nate Thalberg was born and raised in Valentine Valley and assists with running his family’s ranch. He lives a quiet, peaceful life and dates occasionally, but never anything permanent. When it comes to the lovely Emily, however, Nate can’t seem to help himself. She is determined to fix the place up herself and he is just as determined to help her do it. They’ve agreed to put their heated embrace behind them, but after working together day after day, forgetting that night becomes increasingly difficult. When Emily gets some shocking news about her paternity, Nate insists on helping her find out the truth...and hopes Emily will ultimately decide to stay in Valentine.

A Town Called Valentine is the first book in the Valentine Valley series by Emma Cane, also known as historical author Gayle Callen. If this delightful book is any indication, this promises to be a wonderful series. Nate and Emily are well-rounded, believable characters that captured my heart. The secondary characters—from Nate’s brother and sister to the friendly townsfolk to the nosy widows at the boarding house—add depth and flair and I look forward to seeing more of them in future books. A Town Called Valentine is a charming contemporary romance that I recommend!

~Andrea


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Not Wicked Enough
Seducing the Scoundrels, Book 1
By Carolyn Jewel
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Release Date: February 7, 2012

Lily Wellstone travels to Bitterward to comfort her friend Ginny, who is still grieving over the death of her husband. On her way there, she encounters a Gypsy king, who gives her a medallion in thanks for saving his dog. He tells her the medallion will unite her with the man she happiest with in love. Since Lily has already lost the man she considers her one true love, she does not believe in this bit of magic. Still, she never takes it off. When she meets Ginny’s brother, the Duke of Mountjoy, she is overwhelmed by her instant attraction to him. Is it the medallion or just the magnetism of this man?
Mountjoy was expecting to be mesmerized by is sister’s beautiful and charming friend, but Lily captivates him as no other woman ever has. Everyone expects him to marry one of the local ladies, Miss Jane Kirk---and Mountjoy intends to ask her soon, but Lily sparkles and shines so much that he has trouble focusing on anyone but her. During late night talks and strolls outside, Mountjoy and Lily discover more about each other’s past, and soon become lovers. Will their passion for each other turn to love or will duty prevail?
Not Wicked Enough, is the first in Carolyn Jewel’s Seducing the Scoundrels series, and it’s a grand beginning. Lily is an engaging, likeable heroine---one I would love to have as a friend---and Mountjoy is a hero I could, and did, fall for. He was not born to be a duke----he was raised as a gentleman farmer---so he’s more down to earth, without any dandified ways. I love a man who’s not afraid to get his hands dirty. Together, these two raise the heat to scorching levels! It’s a good thing it’s winter, and a little extra heat is always welcome. Amusing, intriguing, and sexy, Not Wicked Enough is a must read for lovers of historical romance.
~ Gannon

Elizabeth Bevarly Winners

The winners from Elizabeth Bevarly's blog are

Pat L
The House on Butterfly Way

Rebekah E.
A pair of Elizabeth's Harlequin Desire books

Felicia
Elizabeth's Kentucky Derby trilogy

Congratulations to you all!  Please send your full name and mailing address to us at theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com to claim your books.   Please put "E. Bevarly Winner" in the subject line of your email.



Friday, February 17, 2012

Today's Special - - J.L. Saint

It's our pleasure to welcome J.L. Saint (who also writes as Jennifer St. Giles and Jennifer Saints) back to The Romance Dish.  Jennifer's next book, Tactical Deception, an ebook that will be released March 13th by Samhain Publishing,  is the second book in her terrific Silent Warrior military romantic suspense series. (Read PJ's review of the first book in the series, Collateral Damage here.)  When not busy writing new books, Jennifer's days - and nights - are filled with her responsibilities as a mother, nurse, event planner and vice-president of a charitable foundation that helps women's and children's causes.  One wonders when she sleeps!  







First let me thank the gracious ladies of the Romance Dish for inviting me back to share my upcoming book, Tactical Deception.  It is the second book in my Silent Warrior Series, and takes up just shortly after Collateral Damage left off.  The world is still reeling from recent events and the men from Delta are all fighting to pull their lives together after tragedy.  They are flawed and vulnerable and make mistakes, but my Silent Warriors have the courage to walk through fire when it comes to protecting their country and loved ones.   My inspiration for writing these books is the many men and women who have put their lives on the line for our country.  There aren’t enough thanks that can cover the debt, but I can share stories about heroes and heroines like them, so others may be inspired to express their thanks.

I also write romance because I believe that love is the greatest thing.  Love is the the greatest gift we can give to another and the greatest need every heart has.  So I invite you to read my stories about love and heroes and heroines who discover love as they put their life and hearts on the line.  From gothic historical to paranormal to contemporary romance to thrillers, you can catch excerpts of them all at Jenniferstgiles.com.


I'd love for you to share your story with me.  Who is the silent hero or heroine in your life?  I’d love to hear about them.

I will be giving away one ebook copy of Collateral Damage and one ebook copy of Tactical Deception to two lucky winners.
 




Tactical Deception, Silent Warrior Series, Book 2

One tormented soldier. One woman. Eight snipers. Someone’s going down…
The fallout from the team’s failed mission to Lebanon is still tearing Lt. Col. Roger Weston apart. God help them all if the media gets wind of the real story. Worse, guilt is eating him alive over a decision that left a fallen warrior’s wife without a husband…and exposed to danger from her radical family.

No matter what, Mari Dalton’s safety and wellbeing—and that of her unborn child—come first.

Mari is certain God is punishing her. She loved the man who rescued her from a windowless cell in Afghanistan, and never betrayed their marriage. But she has never been able to forget her body’s reaction to Roger. Now she is the target of terrorists bent on destroying the heart of America. As Roger lays his life on the line to protect her, they uncover a plot already in motion to assassinate the President. As the world teeters on the edge of chaos, any hope for a future rests in Roger’s already blood-stained hands…and the quietly faithful woman who holds his heart.


Excerpt from Tactical Deception.

Before the guilt of Neil’s death could get another strangling hold on him, Roger marched to his bedroom door. He couldn’t effectively take care of Mari if she hid herself from him. Something had to change. He knocked on the door.
No answer.
He knocked harder.
Still no answer. Worried now, he opened the door. “Mari?”
Light from the bathroom highlighted her figure at the window. She stood minus her
abaya and hijab—her black gown and head scarf. She wore a long tunic over slim pants, a vision of cream-colored silk and ebony hair that fell well below her waist. Gold leaves embroidered the collar, sleeves and hems of her outfit. The effect was delicate, exotic, almost ethereal.
Tears streamed down her cheeks and she had her hands pressed to her abdomen, to the child growing within her.
“Are you hurting? Is it the baby? Do you need to go to the hospital?”
“No. The baby is fine. No pain.”
Relief had his blood rushing with dizzying force, leaving him almost light-headed and his chest tightened into a knot. Emotion, pain, and desire sucker punched him in the gut and below. What kind of low-bellied dick was he?
The lowest he decided. He couldn’t stop his heated arousal in response to her beauty, but he damn well could ignore it and remember with every shred of decency he had in him that if it wasn’t for him, Neil would be with Mari right now and none of the shit that had happened to her lately would have occurred.
She stood frozen a moment then turned, reaching for her black gown.
“Don’t. Please don’t hide from me.” His voice escaped in a harsh rasp.
She paused, looking at him, her hand resting on her heavy gown. Her golden eyes were wide with…fear?
He covered the distance between them.
“Are you afraid of me?” Their gazes met and she lowered hers.
He knew before he slid his thumb under her chin how soft her skin was. Just weeks ago, he’d lost his restraint and kissed her tear-dampened cheeks after Dugar had taken a shot at her outside the hospital. That night he’d held her bandaged hand as she’d restlessly slept between nightmares. And until helping her up from the street today, it was the last time he’d touched her.
He clasped her hand resting on her gown and brought it to his chest, placing her palm firmly over his racing heart. Her gaze reconnected with his and he asked her again. “Are you afraid of me?”
“No,” she whispered before shutting her eyes and pulling her hand away.
She said no, but he swore he saw fear swirling in her conflicted expression.
“Why then? Why didn’t you tell me how bad things were for you? I could have helped or gotten you help. And why didn’t you tell me about the shooting lessons? I would have arranged for them. Made sure you were safe.”
“You would have?” She blinked at him with surprise. “But you were adamant about me not leaving the post for any reason. Not even to go with Holly to the store in Fayetteville.”
“Going to a shoe sale in a crowded mall is different than going to a gun range. Besides, learning to protect yourself is more important than buying shoes.” Roger raked his fingers through his hair. He remembered the conversation they’d had a few weeks back. And yeah, he’d been pretty strong in his objections about them going to the mall. But then, someone had been calling in bomb threats at that time too. It had been three weeks after Dugar’s attempts to kill her and Roger would have bet money Dugar was behind the threats. He hadn’t told Mari about any of it though. He hadn’t wanted her to worry. Only to heal.
She frowned at him as if he’d grown horns. “What?” he asked. Had he said something wrong?
“So what does that mean? I am not supposed to do something, but if it’s something you approve of then it is all right to do it?”
Hell. She made him sound as if he were a bipolar prison guard. He counted to ten, hoping to ease his frustration, but it didn’t work. “No. Well, sometimes, maybe, yes. I mean—” Tension knotted his brow. What did he mean? Couldn’t she see the difference between the two outings? “We can discuss the details later. I just need to know why you couldn’t tell me about the anxiety you’re having and that you wanted to learn self-defense.”
“I didn’t want you to worry.”
Roger opened his mouth then shut it. He’d kept things from her for the same reason, but this was different. She’d put herself in both physical and mental jeopardy. Then again, hadn’t he set himself as her prison guard as opposed to a bodyguard? Had he done anything personal to put her at ease enough to be able to share her anxiety with him? No, he’d let his guilt and his need to avoid his attraction to her keep her at a cold, formal distance. He had to change. “You can’t do that anymore. From now on, no matter what you want to do, just tell me and whether I like it or not, I will help you do it, okay? It is the only way I can assure your safety.”
“That’s it? If I want to go buy shoes then you’ll take me?”
He exhaled. “Yes. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to voice my opinion on whether it’s a smart thing to do or not. And if I really think something is too dangerous then I expect you to respect my serious concerns. This isn’t a forever state of affairs. It’s just until Dugar is caught, then you’ll be your own woman, okay?”
Her own woman? Did she even know who she was? Mari looked up at Roger, her heart racing so fast she could barely think.  A few moments ago, she’d been staring out at the purple-red sunset, wondering how she could face Roger.  She’d done exactly what he’d told her not to do and it had turned out so badly.  She’d been sickened over how miserably she’d failed in establishing any shred of independence.  Her worst fears about herself had come true. She’d had a total panicked meltdown. She’d been thrust back into the darkness of what had happened in Afghanistan. She’d hit the bottom and was surprised that she’d survived it all. Her pride was bruised, but she was okay.
Now she was not only facing Roger but… she stood alone with him, in his bedroom, wearing only her tunic and pants and she wasn’t embarrassed or shamed.  She wanted this familiarity between them.
He wasn’t as mad as she thought he would be either.
It wasn’t as if her choosing to leave the post didn’t matter. She could see that he was clearly upset and worried about her. But it wasn’t how she’d thought it would be. Her father would have—
Roger wasn’t her father. Never would be. But he wasn’t the easygoing teddy bear Neil had been either. In some ways Roger was like a fierce warrior. Dangerous and remote. She’d seen the deadly anger in his eyes when it came to Dugar. She had no doubt that Roger would kill Dugar with his bare hands if he had to. She’d also seen a haunted darkness in him too. Roger had deep secrets that she instinctively knew he’d never let another person near.
Neil had been different. There wasn’t a part of him he didn’t openly share with her. It wasn’t that he didn’t keep information from her. There were things about his job he couldn’t tell her and things she would never ask him. But his soul and heart had wrapped warmly around her as accepting and loving as a puppy. He’d never said anything to curtail what she did, but then, she’d never ventured beyond the strictures of her upbringing. It was two years before he could talk her into going to the store alone.
It wasn’t until she met Holly that Mari started thinking about doing things outside of the rules, about getting an education, a job, learning to shoot a gun, and yes, one of those things was standing without her abaya before a man who wasn’t her husband, her brother or her father. A man who said she could be her own woman? What did that mean?
“Okay?” Roger angled his head to look into her eyes as he set his hands on her shoulders.
She nodded. Her tongue was tied in the gratefulness clogging her throat and in the fire burning through her senses at his heated touch. He’d made this whole big problem and the fiasco of the day all so simple. So easy to let go of and move forward. At least she thought he had. Currently her mind reeled, making coherent thought debatable. His nearness and intensity had her blood racing places her mind couldn’t go yet.
He released her and stepped back. “Hungry?”
“Yes.” She drew in a much-needed breath of air. She thought about grabbing her abaya and putting it on now. Considering the way he made her feel, it would be safer.
“What do you want to eat for dinner?” He started walking out of the bedroom, but his gaze fell on the rumpled bed and she cringed. It looked as if a tornado had struck it; she’d tossed and turned so much.
She rushed over to straighten the bedcovers. “Whatever you want will be fine.”
She didn’t dare look at him. What he must think. He’d loaned her his bed and she couldn’t even leave it neat. Leaning forward with her knees against the mattress, she fixed the blanket and threw the pillows back up to the headboard. She stood back quickly and hit a hard, hot body—an unmistakably aroused, hard, hot, male body. His arm wrapped around her when she teetered with surprise and a visceral shock wave of want hit her hard.





Thursday, February 16, 2012

Today's Special - - Elizabeth Bevarly

I first discovered Elizabeth Bevarly in 1990 when I picked up a copy of her Silhouette Special Edition book, Donovan's Chance.  I've since followed this prolific writer (according to her website, she's working on her 60th novel!) through a variety of formats and publishers from those first categories to single title contemporaries to her wonderful new women's fiction novel from Berkley Trade, The House on Butterfly Way.  She's smart, savvy, a bundle of fun and a walking, talking encyclopedia of some of the best, and most eclectic, music around.  Please give her a warm welcome to The Romance Dish!



The Best Laid Plans of…
Revealed at Last! The Reason Why…

Dammit, Why Do Books Never Come Out the Way You Think They Will?

            Probably the most common question asked of novelists is, “Where do you get your ideas?” Fortunately, that’s an easy one to answer. We get our ideas everywhere—personal experience, song lyrics, overheard dialogue, magazine articles, you name it. A more difficult one to answer is one we—also fortunately—never hear from readers, but is one we often ask ourselves. Namely: “What do I do with all the stuff I thought was going to be in the book but never left the synopsis?” For that one, I never have an answer, even though I always have a lot of such material.

            The idea for The House on Butterfly Way was spawned when my family and I looked at a house that was for sale here in Louisville. What made the episode so memorable was that the house in question was in a horrible state of disrepair in a very upscale neighborhood where houses were normally showplaces. As we wandered through the house seeing room after room filled with peeling wallpaper, crumbling plaster, filthy carpeting and blackening mold, the writer voice in my head kept asking, “How did such a gorgeous estate home in such an expensive neighborhood come to this? Who lived here? Why didn’t they take care of the house? Why didn’t someone take care of them?” More to the point, I asked, “Hey, house, what’s your story?”

            Although the house never told me its story, I left fully confident that I would write about it. For weeks, my mind percolated, until I had a boatload of information about the story I would tell. By the time I sat down to write, I knew without question that the following aspects would all be integral to my story:

1. The house would be French. (Even though the house we looked at was a Tudor.)

2. It would be purchased by a brother and sister, both recently single, who were assuming the care of their aging mother and combining their families for both personal and economic reasons.

3. The previous owner was a French war bride, brought to this country by her WWII veteran husband, and her figurative—not literal—ghost would still pervade the house. My protagonist would spend a good deal of the story learning about the woman from the remnants of her home.

4.  The neighborhood surrounding the house would be filled with quirky characters who would add color and humor.  (In fact, the synopsis detailed six such neighbors.)





5.  The family cat, named Havoc, would, in almost every chapter, bring home something from one of the neighboring houses that would identify said neighbor in some way and further the story along.











6.  There would be a block watch group who made their own "superhero" type uniforms, all of whom already had names/identities in my head. 

7.  The book would be the first in a series, all set in this fictional neighborhood, a la Jan Karon's Mitford or Janet Evanovich's The Burg.  

         





So how many of these tidbits, all of which I was positive would be in the book and were in the original synopsis, do you think actually made it into the book? The answer? Only numbers one and two, which were the least detailed and, to me, most uninteresting. The rest all fell by the wayside, to be replaced by other characters and other themes that developed as I wrote. Havoc the cat didn’t even appear as window dressing. And the book isn’t the first of a series. It’s a complete stand-alone.

             That’s not to say, of course, that all these things won’t appear in future works. I’m sure they will. But why did they all come to me at one time for a story in which none of them appeared? Was I trying too hard? Was my brain on creative overload? Was my diet at the time inundated with exotic spices? Was I not getting enough sleep? Who knows? There are a lot of things about the creative mind that even those of us with creative minds can’t understand. So we’ve learned not to ask too many questions. Or, at least, we’ve learned not to expect too many answers.

            So how about you? What are your best laid plans that went awry? What was an event or experience you imagined materializing right down to the last detail that ended up being nothing like you thought it would be? And, just for fun, if you were a member of a superhero block watch, what would your identity/costume be? :o)


Elizabeth has brought three great giveaways with her today!  She'll be giving away a copy of The House on Butterfly Way, her Kentucky Derby Trilogy and a set of her two most recent Harlequin Desires.  The three winners will be randomly chosen from all comments left on the blog.  



Once upon a time, in Manitou Hills, there was a home so radiant and vivacious it was christened with its own name: Fleurissant. Now it's in ruins, forgotten and neglected-except by a woman who sees her own life reflected in the broken windows of that house on Butterfly Way...

As a child, from afar, Eugenie Dashner loved Fleurissant and the elegant, youthful fantasies it provided. Now, with a failed marriage behind her, a troubled son at her side, and a contentious and bitter mother to care for, Eugenie returns to the Louisville neighborhood of Manitou Hills to fulfill a dream: buy and renovate the house that once meant so much to her, and maybe, in the process, rebuild her own life.

Day by day, as the house reveals more and more of its forgotten beauty, Eugenie sees her dream come to fruition-especially when the attentions of two men help to reawaken in her feelings of romance and passion she thought were gone forever. As she navigates her rediscovered emotions, Eugenie comes to realize that there is no such thing as irreparable damage-not in herself, not in the house on Butterfly Way, and not in the family who now calls it home...