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

Friday, August 31, 2012

Coming Attractions




The weather in the Northern Hemisphere may be starting to cool a bit outside, but things are sure to stay hot here at the blog! We have a great guest schedule set for September and are adding more guest dates daily. So without further ado, here’s what we have in store for you next month at The Romance Dish!

 

 






On Wednesday, September 5th, multi-talented author Carrie Lofty drops by to dish about her latest historical, His Very Own Girl. It is a digital novel from Pocket Star that releases September 4th. Oh, and it’s a WWII romance featuring a female British civilian pilot and the American paratrooper medic who opens her heart.

 




Grab a pen and paper—or your smartphone’s Notes app—to list Andrea’s New Releases for the month of September on Friday, September 7th!

 




The lovely and talented Trish Milburn, aka Tricia Mills, will catch us up with all the wonderful things happening in YA in her Teen Menu on Monday, September 10th.

 





Make Your Reservations on Thursday, September 13th, as we let you know which books we are most looking forward to in October.

 




Drop by on Sunday, September 16th, to read an exclusive sneak peek of Karen Hawkins’s upcoming historical, the first of her new Duchess Diaries series, How to Capture a Countess. It releases September 18th!

 









Let’s party with PJ as she celebrates her birthday on Thursday, September 20th, and gives YOU a chance to win a present!

 








Tuesday, September 24th, is when the always witty and glamorous Anna Campbell will bring us her Second Helping of a book or books that we may have missed the first time around.

 







PJ interviews career soldier and author Jessica Scott on Wednesday, September 26th. Jessica’s next book, Until There Was You, releases October 8th. Isn’t the cover for it gorgeous? Should be a good interview!

 





In addition to these wonderful guest authors and regular columns, we will have a bunch of great reviews and a few giveaways, too! We hope you’ll be able to drop by often!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Today's Special - - Virginia Smith

We're pleased to welcome inspirational author Virginia Smith today!  Virginia is the author of more than twenty inspirational novels, an illustrated children's book and many more articles and short stories.  She's also an inspirational speaker as well as a Certified Lay Speaker for the United Methodist Church.  When she's not busy speaking or writing, she enjoys physical adventures such as snow skiing, scuba diving and motorcycle riding.  You can find more information about Virginia and her books at her website.  Please join us in giving Virginia a warm Romance Dish welcome!  






Thanks, PJ and Andrea, for letting me blog on The Romance Dish today. It’s my first visit, and the menu looks scrumptious!

The road to ‘happily ever after’ is never straight. Sometimes it takes unexpected twists and turns, and you’d better watch out for potholes. As women who are searching for love, that’s not good news. But as readers, it’s the unexpected side trips that we enjoy most of all.

Some girls are lucky enough to grow up next door to Mr. All-American Right, marry him without ever looking at another man (or him looking at another girl), and live in wedded bliss for the rest of their lives. That certainly didn’t happen to me. My next-door neighbors growing up had no kids. Instead, they had a bulldog named Chopper, and he drooled. When I started dating, I went through a series of Mr. Wrongs, and trust me, I stumbled into quite a few potholes along the way. Finally, after a progression of disasters, roadblocks, and detours, I rounded a corner and there he was. My Mr. Right turned up in the last place I thought I’d find him – in an office at work, with his face hidden behind a computer screen.

In A Plain and Simple Heart, which I co-authored with the fabulous Lori Copeland, our heroine Rebecca Switzer finds herself on a similarly rocky road. The setting is Kansas in 1885. Rebecca is Amish, seventeen, and in love with a cowboy she met four years before. She decides to use her rumspringa to strike out on her own across Kansas in search for her true love, her Mr. Right. The first twist in her road comes when she meets up with a group of temperance demonstrators and is swept into the fervor of their cause. Then a roadblock lands her in front of a judge, with her main accuser being the town’s handsome sheriff. From there, matters get quickly, and hilariously, out of hand. She’s stuck in a chug hole up to her Amish prayer cap, her cowboy is nowhere to be found, and she’s beginning to wonder whether the road she’s on leads to ‘happily ever after’ or ‘wild west disaster.’

What about you? If you’ve found your Mr. Right, was he at the end of a smooth road, or a rocky one? And if you haven’t found him yet, what are the road conditions on your journey?

One randomly chosen person leaving a comment on today's blog will receive a copy of A Plain & Simple Heart.  

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Guest Review - - Return to Willow Lake


Return to Willow Lake
By Susan Wiggs
Publisher: Harlequin Mira
Release Date: August 28, 2012



Sonnet Romano has come home to Avalon for the wedding of her best friend and stepsister, Daisy Bellamy, and Julian Gastineaux. As happy as she is for Daisy and Julian and as exciting as the wedding and related festivities have been, Sonnet is left with a feeling of loss and restlessness. A post-wedding boat ride with Zach Alger, her other best friend, leads somewhere Sonnet never intended to go. Jell-O shots, champagne, starlight, and a kiss that shifts a lifetime of friendship end with a yes Sonnet never expected to say.

But her life is no longer in Avalon, and six months later, Sonnet is back in Manhattan where she is a director at UNESCO. Life is good. Her relationship with Orlando Rivera, the Cuban-American director of her father’s senatorial campaign, is turning serious. She’s just been chosen as a recipient of a Hartstone Fellowship that will make her director of a program to aid indigent children at home or abroad, a coup that will fulfill a dream and earn the approval of her distant, goal-oriented father, General Laurence Jeffries. That night with Zach was a mistake she’s trying to forget. Avalon, Willow Lake, and Zach Alger are her past. Orlando and the fellowship are her future.

But when Sonnet learns that her mother, Nina Romano Bellamy, is pregnant, she takes a long weekend to return again to the inn at Willow Lake. Nina was just a teenager when she gave birth to Sonnet, and, although the large, big-hearted Romano clan showered both Nina and Sonnet with love and emotional support, for most of Sonnet’s life, it was she and her mother, a tight unit who depended on one another. Part of Sonnet is thrilled with her mother’s news, but with twenty-seven-year-old Sonnet’s own biological clock ticking away and an unexpected jealousy that this younger sibling will have the two-parent family that she never knew, Sonnet’s reactions are mixed. Then, Zach breaks Nina’s confidence to tell Sonnet that her mother has breast cancer. Sonnet knows that, despite Nina’s objections, the Hartstone Fellowship must be declined. Her place is at Willow Lake while her mother goes through a pregnancy that is complicated by cancer treatment.

The summer that follows is one of heartbreak threatening and heart knowledge acquired, a time when Sonnet discovers some dreams are rooted in shallow soil and some people are not at all what they seem to be. It is the summer Sonnet finally grows up. She comes to terms with her past, redefines her future, and earns an HEA as satisfying and romantic as her friend Daisy’s.

Return to Willow Lake has the emotional punch, complex family dynamics, and old-fashioned love story with a modern edge that have made the Lakeshore Chronicles of Susan Wiggs so popular with readers. As with any long-running series, some stories are more appealing than others, but overall, the series has been remarkably consistent. One of the delights has been watching the characters who were young teens when the series began mature and become the heroes and heroines of their own stories. Wiggs did a superb job in RTWL of balancing threads from earlier novels with new plot threads. Seeing Sonnet accept her father and his limitations and develop a full appreciation of the life her mother and the extended Romano family have given her were as important to me as the romance. I also loved seeing Zach come into his own. Watching Nina and Greg go through another stage in their marriage was also rewarding, and Jezebel is a delightful character, one I’d love to see again.

The Lakeshore Chronicles addicts who have been waiting for this book since they turned the last page of Daisy’s story last year are going to love yet another visit to Willow Lake, but Wiggs includes enough back story for even a new reader to understand the relationships without difficulty. I recommend this book--particularly for readers who appreciate a hybrid tale that combines the mother-daughter focus often found in women’s fiction with a romance between two characters with their fair share of baggage.

~Janga
http://justjanga.blogspot.com



Monday, August 27, 2012

Review - - Sweet Deception

Sweet Deception
Veiled Seduction - Book 2
By Heather Snow
Publisher:  Signet Eclipse
Release Date:  August 7, 2012



After discovering a devastating betrayal that turned his life upside down, Lord Derick Aveline left his family home, swearing never to return, but King and Country have brought him back for one last mission before he gives up the spy game and starts a new life in America. Playing the part of a pampered society fop, he plans to use his childhood connection with Miss Emma Wallingford to gain the trust of the locals in his quest to uncover the identity of a traitor who has been selling secrets to the French.  He doesn't expect to walk into his home and discover Emma ordering his staff and most of the town folk about like an experienced field marshal.  And, he somehow forgot to take into account the fact that Emma would have grown up in the years he's been gone.  The girl next door has evolved into a lovely woman with a brilliant mind, an insatiable curiosity and a few secrets of her own.

Emma Wallingford has been enamored with Derick Aveline since she was a young girl but she is none too pleased to have him back in Derbyshire.  A brilliant mathematician and criminologist, Emma has secretly been the acting magistrate - a position she loves and for which she is eminently qualified - since her older brother's debilitating stroke.  If Derick discovers it is Emma and not her brother who is responsible for investigating a string of murders, everything she has worked hard to achieve could be lost.  But when a maid from Derick's castle is found murdered and Derick insists on inserting himself into the investigation of her death, Emma begins to see glimpses of the Derick she knew and loved as a young girl.  And as they grow closer, Emma stands to lose more than her job if Derick discovers her deception.  Her heart is at serious risk of being lost to a man who has no intention of staying in England.

Heather Snow's debut book, Sweet Enemy was one of my top books of the first half of 2012 and I liked Sweet Deception even better.  Snow's heroines are intelligent, independent and ahead of their time.  With Emma, she brings us a brilliant mathematician and statistician with a logical, literal outlook on life, the adorable habit of mangling metaphors and someone who should be kept far, far away from the kitchen.
Every time Emma got a metaphor wrong, she endeared herself to Derick - and me - more, such as in the following scene where she informs Derick that she knows he's not really who he's pretending to be.

"I'm certain you've worked very hard at affecting the perfect degree of pomposity."
     Well, yes, he had actually.  But he didn't appreciate her pointing it out.  Or noticing that it was an affectation, for that matter.
     "However, if you were the skirt-chasing ne'er--do-well you want me to believe you are, you wouldn't be here," she said.  "You would care naught for finding Molly's killer or for" - she averted her gaze - "watching over me, as you say."  Her eyes returned to him and she pointed a delicate finger directly at him, "You'd still be traipsing around the Continent sowing your wild seeds."
     Something between a choke and a cough closed his throat.  Derick huffed twice to clear it.  "That's oats, Emma," he murmured.  "Wild oats."

Derick has played so many roles during his years as a spy that he's lost track of who he really is.  That, and an unwelcome truth about his parents, have him ready to run as far away from England as he can.   Snow skillfully and gradually, peels back the layers of the man through his growing relationship with Emma but it will take a near tragedy to finally open his eyes to what has become most important in his life.

An intriguing mystery, a heartwarming romance, a touch of humor and a hero and heroine who are meant to be together all wrapped up in a fast-paced, well-written story make Sweet Deception a book you won't want to miss.

~PJ

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sneak Peek Sunday!

Elisabeth Barrett joined the ranks of published authors with her July (digital) Loveswept Contemporary Romance, DEEP AUTUMN HEAT.   On September 10, she brings readers the second book in her Star Harbor series, BLAZE OF WINTER.  Here, courtesy of Sue Grimshaw at Random House Publishing and Romance at Random, is a sneak peek excerpt of Theo Grayson's book, BLAZE OF WINTER.




BLAZE OF WINTER by Elisabeth Barrett

Sneak Peek Sunday!

Janga recently reviewed Nightingale Way by Emily March (read here).  Today, we're happy to bring you the Nightingale Way video trailer and a sneak peek excerpt from the August 28th book, courtesy of Sue Grimshaw at Random House Publishing and Romance at Random.  Come with us to Eternity Springs...




Nightingale Way (An Eternity Springs Novel) by Emily March (Excerpt)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Guest Review - - Where Azaleas Bloom


Where Azaleas Bloom
By Sherryl Woods
Publisher: Harlequin Mira
Release Date: August 28, 2012




Lynn Morrow and her husband Ed are still fighting over custody and support issues, but she has accepted that her marriage is over. What she can’t accept is that he is late with mortgage payments and support checks, and even with her part-time job at Raylene Rollins’s boutique, by the end of the month, she’s struggling to feed her two children. Fourteen-year-old Lexie is growing up too fast and worrying about grown-up problems, and ten-year-old Jeremy doesn’t understand why his favorite after-school snacks are no longer available.

Contractor Mitch Franklin has known Lynn since they were kids. He even had an unrequited crush on her in middle school, but she had eyes for no one but Ed Morrow even then. Mitch is a widower with two college-age sons, and while loved his wife Amy deeply and knows that in a sense he always will, he also realizes that he is ready to move on with his life.

Mitch is building a new family room onto the house of Raylene and Carter Rollins (Honeysuckle Summer), and Lynn and her children live next door to the Rollins family.  Raylene and Carter consider Mitch family and often include him in their dinner plans, and since Raylene suspects Lynn is having financial problems, she invites her and the kids for dinner as frequently as she can without wounding Lynn’s pride. Thus, Lynn and Mitch are thrown into one another’s company.  An observant guy, he soon realizes that Lynn is struggling. He offers his friendship, and when he discovers Lynn needs a second job, he hires her as part-time bookkeeper for his company, a job she can do from home and still be around for Lexie and Jeremy.

It doesn’t take long for Mitch to discover that he wants more than friendship from Lynn. She takes some convincing because she is wary of giving her heart again, but Mitch, who looks great in a pair of jeans and makes her feel cherished and respected, is hard to resist. But just as it looks as if the two have found their way to happiness, complications ensue in the form of an ex-husband, sons who aren’t happy at the idea of their dead mom being replaced, and the kind of gossip at which small towns excel.

Where Azaleas Bloom is the tenth book in Sherryl Woods’s Sweet Magnolias series. The series has suffered from some unevenness, but this one is a heart-warming, believable second chance at love story. In a society where most women experience a 45-73 percent decrease in the quality of life after divorce, Lynn’s economic woes ring true, as does her anger at her estranged husband’s irresponsibility towards his children and her guilt, however unreasonable, over a failed marriage. 

Her determination to protect her children from the things that worry her and to affirm that their father loves them regardless of his actions also seems authentic. Even Lynn’s pride and reluctance to let friends know about her problems are understandable.

It’s easy to fall in love with Mitch. He’s a good guy, compassionate and patient with a keen sense of honor and an instinctive understanding of kids. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that he’s good-looking and a tender, skilled lover. The fact that he was engaged in a happy, faithful marriage for twenty-two years makes his desire to fall in love again and share his life logical. I also found his adult sons’ reactions to their father’s romance realistic.

I suspected the ending of Ed’s story well before it was revealed, although not from the beginning of Lynn’s story. Having lived through a similar experience with a close friend, I had no problem believing this subplot, but I would like to have seen more evidence that he realized the effect of his actions on his children.

As with all the Sweet Magnolia books, friendship is a strong thread in WAB. Lynn is not a Sweet Magnolia, but the women support her and draw her into their circle. The friendship theme encompasses Mitch’s relationship with Raylene and Carter, Lexie’s besties relationship with Carter’s sister Mandy, and even Lynn and Mitch’s friendship that turns to love. Fans of the series will enjoy seeing more of Raylene and Carter and, in smaller roles, other Magnolias and spouses.  Some may even remember Mitch as the contractor who built The Corner Spa in the first Sweet Magnolia book, Stealing Home.

Sweet Magnolias fans won’t want to miss this one. For readers who lost interest with the second generation stories, this one and Chasing Fireflies, Book 9, are both well worth a return to the series, And for those who have never read Sherryl Woods, if you like romance heavily flavored with sweetness and small-town relationships, I think you’ll enjoy this visit to Serenity, South Carolina, and you don’t have to have read the other books to enjoy this one.

~Janga
http://justjanga.blogspot.com

Friday, August 24, 2012

Suzanne Ferrell Winner



The winner of a $10 Amazon e-gift card from Suzanne Ferrell's visit is:

CAREN CRANE

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


PJ's Box of Books Winner



The winner of PJ's box of books is:

JANE

Congratulations, Jane!  Please send your full name and mailing address to us at
theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com


Son of a Gun!

by Anna Campbell

Hey, today's my birthday! Just thought I'd share that enormously exciting fact - and also let you know that I'm open to offers of cake and champagne (and cash - cash is ALWAYS welcome!).

So having made that totally gratuitous announcement, let's get down to the nitty gritty about today's Second Helping book. SON OF THE MORNING by Linda Howard is such an unusual romance novel!

For a start, it treads some of the same territory (and for this reader in a much more interesting way) as THE DA VINCI CODE. You know, Templars and treasures and ancient conspiracies and people racing against time to save the world. Whoo-eeeee! This is a fabulous adventure story. Not to mention romantic suspense, time travel, historical and paranormal. Lots of genres to keep you interested in this one!

When I first read this book (it was published in 1997 when I'd developed a real obsession with Linda Howard's books), it blew me away. I re-read it for this review and it still packs a mega punch. And the last 100 or so pages will leave you absolutely breathless as it races to a very satisfying conclusion.

Ancient language specialist Grace St. John's life explodes into tragedy and danger one night when unknown gunmen murder her husband and brother and leave evidence that Grace was responsible. Only a stroke of good luck saves Grace from being inside the house and among the dead. Instead she's standing outside and sees everything, including who's responsible for the crime, her billionaire employer Parrish Sawyer.

Grace immediately goes on the run, desperate to discover why she's been targeted and why the documents she's working on are important. Grace is a really interesting character (which is a good thing because most of the story is centered on her). She starts off as a gentle, scholarly woman deeply in love with her husband and fascinated by her work translating ancient manuscripts for a scholarly foundation. When she stumbles across a manuscript that contains mysterious snippets of information about the Holy Grail, the medieval order of the Knights Templar in the 14th century, and a compelling historical character called the Guardian, she doesn't realize that she's trespassed upon the foundation's evil purpose to steal the Templars' power and rule the world.

This bit could have been silly but Linda Howard manages to make us believe in Grace's transformation from sweet innocent to hardened renegade. Mostly because we believe in Grace's smarts. She mightn't be street-wise but she's clever and frightened enough to learn how to survive below the radar. All the time, Parrish's men pursue her relentlessly. There are some seriously suspenseful scenes as they edge closer and closer to Grace.

Heartbroken over her husband's death - I really liked that Grace genuinely loved her first husband - the strange other-worldly connection she established with a 14th century Scotsman makes her feel like she's betraying Ford's memory. But her dreams and visions of the man who turns out to be Black Niall, guardian of the Templar treasure, help her survive the tragedy and torments of her current life. Some of these dream scenes are extremely steamy which is a good thing. You've probably gathered by now that the hero and heroine of SON OF THE MORNING don't meet in bodily form until well into the book when Grace time travels back to Niall's era. I told you this was an unusual romance!

When they finally meet, wow, the love scenes are absolutely explosive (no jokes, please, LOL!).

Niall is a compelling hero, ahead of his time but not beyond the realms of what's believable. And who doesn't love a dark, tortured, sexy Scotsman who can wield a claymore and everything else with breathtaking skill? Snicker.

SON OF THE MORNING kept me glued to its pages from beginning to end. It's a genuine rollercoaster ride of action and emotion. I loved the way Grace becomes a different woman through bitter experience, capable of falling in love with the sort of man who has never crossed her path before. At the start of the book, Grace and Niall are no match for each other. By the end, they're perfect equals. The story is exciting, passionate and romantic with all of Linda Howard's trademark sizzling sensuality (even if some of that takes place in dream scenes, which works!).

Highly recommended.


So do you have a favorite Linda Howard romance? Do you have a favorite Scottish hero? Do you think you'd survive on the run from baddies with limitless resources?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Review -- All Afternoon with a Scandalous Marquess

All Afternoon with a Scandalous Marquess
Lords of Vice—Book 5
By Alexandra Hawkins
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: July 31, 2012





As one of London’s infamous Lords of Vice, Simon Jefferes, Marquess of Sainthill, has never had a problem with women. He often keeps a mistress, but never for too long. One evening, he spies the proprietress of the newest high-class brothel, the Golden Pearl. The mysterious Madame Venna intrigues him with her sexy voice and masked face. Saint tries to coax her into his bed, but she eludes him. Naturally, Saint wants what he can’t have. After much persistence, he is finally granted a single glorious night with her...only to be promptly dismissed by her bodyguards the next morning. This, of course, doesn’t sit well with Saint. He asks to speak with her and is denied repeatedly. He is angry and hurt as he is completely infatuated with the courtesan. Because of this incident, he avoids the Golden Pearl and Madame Venna for awhile, but never forgets their one night together. Years later, Saint comes to Madame Venna to ask for her help and all the old feelings resurface. 

Catherine Deverall, known to most as Madame Venna, must keep her true identity a secret in order to protect herself. Years ago, she fled an abusive situation and came to London seeking shelter. She found it in the form of Mrs. Sweete, a brothel madam who took Catherine under her wing and taught her how to survive. Catherine is the bastard daughter of an earl and a married lady. After her birth, she was sold to a couple whose son later took advantage of Catherine. Now she lives two separate lives—that of the fancy, elaborate Madame Venna and also the quiet, reserved Catherine. Trouble starts when Saint encounters both her personas causing it to become difficult for Catherine to keep them separate. When several people from her past show up, Saint vows to do whatever it takes to protect her. 

All Afternoon with a Scandalous Marquess is a solid addition to the Lords of Vice series by Alexandra Hawkins. This one isn’t my favorite of the series, but that may be because I’m not a big fan of the “secret identity” theme in books, especially when it goes on a little too long for my taste. And I know that certain themes that may not be one person’s cup of tea, others will love. J Having said that, I did adore Saint and Catherine. They were engaging characters and I especially enjoyed the scenes between them when Catherine was able to be herself, sans mask. Those parts were sweet and charming and allowed each of them and the reader to get to know their true nature. I felt for Catherine and all she had been through and was happy to see her get a happy ending with a man who loves her. 

I love this series and its decadent heroes and am very much looking forward to the last two books in the series. Next up is Hunter, who has been betrothed since he was a boy, and then it’s the enigmatic Frost’s turn. I can’t wait to find out what kind of woman Ms. Hawkins pens to melt his black heart! Until then, fans of the series will enjoy this offering, especially if you fancy the “secret identity” premise.

 
~Andrea

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Quick Six

We were supposed to have a book review posted today but I've been working a lot of extra hours this week and just flat ran out of time.  So, instead, I'm turning things over to you, dear readers, with apologies as I once again run out the door to work.  Let's play Quick Six!







1.  What are you reading?  Have you discovered any books that I should add to my tbr list?

2.  Did you go anywhere exciting this summer?  Have any trips planned for the fall?

3.  Since fall is right around the corner, what do you most enjoy about that season?

4.  We're gearing up for apple harvest where I live.  What's your favorite way to eat apples?  Have any recipes to share?

5.  I'm a life-long, card-carrying, rabid college football fan.  Are you?  What's your favorite team?

6.  I just bought a smoothie blender.  Do you drink smoothies?  What's your favorite smoothie recipe?

BONUS:  Julia Quinn is the keynote speaker at this year's Moonlight and Magnolias conference in Atlanta, Georgia.  (October 5-7)  Are any of you attending the conference?  Coming to the public booksigning?

I'll go first:

1.  I just finished Sweet Deception by Heather Snow.  (Loved it!)  A review will be coming just as soon as I get a day off.

2.  No exciting trips this summer but I'm looking forward to a long weekend at the beach in September with five of my best girlfriends.

3.  I love the crisp mornings and the clean, fresh smell of fall air.  Love the disappearance of summer haze that once again reveals the beauty of the centuries old Blue Ridge Mountains that surround me.

4.  Apples are one of my favorite fruit.  I eat them raw, in salads, in pies, in cider...just about anyway I can get them. :)

5.  For me, the four seasons of the year are winter, spring, summer and FOOTBALL!  I cheer for Michigan State (my alma mater) and Florida State (where my siblings, niece, nephew and sis-in-law went to school)

6.  Love me some smoothies and can't wait to try out new fruity recipes!

BONUS:  Andrea and I will both be attending the Moonlight & Magnolias conference.  We'd love to meet you in person if you plan to attend either the conference or the booksigning!


One randomly chosen person leaving a comment today (U.S. addresses only) will receive a box of books from my romance stash!  

~PJ

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Guest Review - - Nightingale Way


Nightingale Way
By Emily March
Publisher: Random House
Release Date: August 28, 2012



Catherine Blackburn is an award-winning investigative reporter who has been freelancing and blogging since she was laid off by the Washington newspaper for which she worked. A remark by a neighbor leads her to a dog fighting ring. Shortly after she writes the exposé on her blog, revealing the involvement of politicians, sports stars, and mobsters, her house is firebombed. She survives that threat and hires an ineffectual bodyguard recommended by her hairdresser. The next day she’s kidnapped.

Her kidnapper is Jack Davenport, her ex-husband, whom she hasn’t seen in the four years since their divorce. The threat to Cat may have come from the dogfight ring, but there’s also a chance someone out to get to Cat’s mother, CIA honcho Melinda Blackburn, targeted Cat.  Melinda, who was Jack’s boss when Cat and Jack met, wants her daughter safe, as does Cat’s father. It is he who contacts Jack and asks for his help.

Jack knows that Cat will be safe at Eagle’s Way, the luxurious retreat in the Colorado mountains near Eternity Springs that used to be a safe house but has become the closest thing Jack has to a home. Since Jack knows Cat is unlikely to go with him willingly, he kidnaps her for her own safety. And since Jack and his team have recently become extraction specialists, the go-to guys when people are kidnapped at hotspots around the world, kidnapping Cat is easy. Predictably she is furious.

But even four years apart has not been enough to neutralize the chemistry that sizzles between these two. To quote a song, they “married in a fever” against their own instincts and in the face of her mother’s disapproval. Their marriage, already troubled by Jack’s job and his secrecy and by Cat’s life-long resentment of her mother’s job which in Cat’s view had always taken priority over Melinda’s family, shatters when the two are confronted by a personal tragedy. But proximity proves that despite misunderstandings, wounded hearts, and years of silence, the fire between them has never gone out. The fire of anger can burn as hotly as the fires of desire, and there is still a lot of anger between Cat and Jack. Can the Eternity Springs tradition of healing the broken hold true for these two wounded spirits?

Handsome, wealthy Jack Davenport has been a mysterious and tantalizing presence in several of the Eternity Springs books, beginning with the first one when he befriends Gabe Callahan. Nightingale Way is the fifth book, and Emily March finally gives us Jack’s story. Jack turns out to be very different beneath the surface of gallant savior and audacious flirt that readers have had glimpses of in the earlier books. He is the prototypical alpha hero—strong, courageous, and very much the guy in charge, hiding scars and secrets. Cat is a match for him in strength and courage and in her determination not to disclose her vulnerabilities.

Reunion stories are my favorites, but even I am forced to admit that sometimes it seems as if complex problems are rather effortlessly melted by the heat generated in sexual congress. One of the things I liked best about this book is that March avoids that authorial misstep. The sexual tension between Cat and Jack is high from the beginning, but the first sex scene reveals problems rather than solving them.  After the emotional firestorm which follows that scene, Jack considers their history:

There had been no knock-down, drag-out-air-clearing fight before their divorce. Their marriage had ended quietly, more like the snuff of a candle flame at the end of a bad dinner date than an explosion of temper and pain.

Maybe if they had fought, they’d have found something to salvage.

Cat and Jack’s story is the core of the book, but there are other threads woven into the novel as well. One involves a secret from the past that has hovered for several books. There are also enough interactions with characters from earlier books to keep fans of the series happy without distracting from the central love story. I was especially pleased to catch up with Nic and Gabe and the twins, thrilled to attend Cam and Sarah’s wedding, and delighted with an ending that satisfied both my head and my heart.

Eternity Springs has become one of my favorite places to visit over the past couple of years. I’m already looking forward to a return trip. If you like Susan Mallery’s Fool’s Gold books or Robyn Carr’s Virgin River series, I suggest you add Emily March’s Eternity Springs to your list. You’ll be glad you did.

~Janga
http://justjanga.blogspot.com

Monday, August 20, 2012

Today's Special - - Suzanne Ferrell


I've had the pleasure of meeting Suzanne Ferrell in person at three RWA national conferences.  One of my most vivid memories of those meetings is of her hustling up and down the conference hallways handing out bookmarks and telling readers waiting in lines all about her good (published author) friend's newest book.  She hadn't sold yet when I first saw her doing this but I knew, from being a Romance Bandits regular, that it was her goal.  I told her that one of these days someone would be working those lines telling people about her books.  Here we are, four years later, and I'm tickled pink to welcome published author, Suzanne Ferrell to the Romance Dish so she can tell you all about her newest book, Cantrell's Bride!  Okay, Suz.  Work that line!  



Cantrell’s Bride (Or how it got this title)

One night I had an idea pop into my head of a pregnant woman riding up into the Rocky Mountains to hide from a murderer. I sat and wrote the scene long hand on a legal pad. The words just flowed out, one right after another, until the scene was complete. Wow! I’d never written anything that quickly or that long, (five legal sized pages!)

Problem #1: I couldn’t type. So I had my husband teach me how to use the new Word program on our spanking new PC and with some hunt & peck typing I managed to put it all in the computer. I quickly realized however I couldn’t write a book with this type of typing, so the lovely DH bought me a typing tutorial program. My fingers quickly learned the keys and words flew onto the screen. Wow, pretty soon I had five solid pages of single spaced writing. I was hooked.

Problem #2: The scene was obviously totally out of context. I mean, how did she get pregnant? (Okay, I KNOW how she got pregnant, I’m a labor and delivery nurse after all!) I mean when and by whom? Why is there a murderer on her trail? Who the heck is the hero in the book? Oh wait, that would be Nathan, the man whose little daughter Rachel she dropped off with a neighbor to protect her. Where is he? Why isn’t she going to him for help? AGHHH!! Now I had to write more to find out the answers to these questions and what happens to our intrepid heroine, Laura.

Problem #3: I had no title. At the time I started writing this book, and my entire writing career, my children were in elementary and middle school. When I told them I’d started writing a book they wanted to know the title. Imagine their shock when I said I don’t have one. Their reply? “But Mommy, you can’t write a book without a title!” They were even more shocked when I informed them I’d started in the middle, not at the beginning. Silly kids, seemed they knew more about my writing style than I did. This is the ONLY book I’ve ever started in the middle. All the rest start at the opening and go very linear to the end. But I still had no title.

By the end of the book I realized I’d written a theme into the book. Laura found her physical and emotional refuge with Nathan. So I took the simple approach and titled the book REFUGE.

This worked for many years. Naively I sent it out and actually got long rejection letters telling me that while they loved the story, the writing would need major work and growth to make the story marketable. Not too discouraged, I’d already started a second book, this time from the beginning.

Then something happened. The market for American Historicals and Westerns took a nosedive. Right into publication abyss! Sigh. So I started writing contemporary romances and then some Romantic Suspense books. Those RS books, KIDNAPPED and HUNTED became finalists in the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart Contest. WOW. But no contracts came my way, but I continued writing and honing my craft. Two small-town contemporaries with suspense elements later, I was tired of being unpublished.

So, I tried my hand at an erotica. Not just any erotica, a historical western erotica, complete with two heroes and a heroine. The Surrender of Lacy Morgan started winning contests and getting requests and rejections from publishers.

Frustration was my middle name!

So, I pulled out REFUGE because I loved the characters from this book. I edited and sharpened the story, amazed at how rough my writing was all those years ago. Once I’d really overhauled the writing without changing the story, I decided to do a serial publication of the book on my blogspot. I changed the title to ROCKY MOUNTAIN ROMANCE. Once a week I put a chapter up complete with pictures. I got lots of comments and emails wanting more, more, MORE!

I got side tracked again. See the Lacy Morgan book was contracted by Ellora’s Cave!!! Wow! My first sale! While I was working on a sequel to TSoLM, I thought, “what the heck” and sent REFUGE/Rocky Mountain Romance to my editor. Lovely, intelligent woman that she is, she wanted to contract the book IF I was up to heavy revisions AND was willing to change the title. Of course, I’d love to do both…(ignore rolling of my eyes on this) and AGHHH I had to come up with another title.

Quickly, I began work on the revisions. As I neared the end of the first set, I was in a panic. What the heck was I going to come up with for another title? One night I was mumbling about this at the nurses’ station and some of my lovely coworkers started brainstorming with me. (Never underestimate the power of brainstorming!) And we came up with Cantrell’s Bride. Nathan Cantrell is the hero, and Laura is his mail-order bride.

Works for me!

And luckily, it worked for my editor, so she contracted Cantrell’s Bride for Ellora’s Cave’s BLUSH line. That is their non-erotic romance e-book line. I am so excited to see this book available for everyone to read, especially those of you who like historicals, westerns, suspense and mail-order brides!

Thank you so much for blogging with us today, Suz!  We wish you all the best and look forward to more great books and sexy heroes!    

Readers, what book titles stay with you long after you finish the book?  Leave a comment for a chance to win.  One randomly chosen person will receive a $10 Amazon e-gift card.

Find out more about Suzanne at her website, like her facebook page, follow her on twitter and check out her monthly blogs at the Romance Bandits blog.



Saturday, August 18, 2012

Kat Martin Winner

The winner of a copy of Deep Blue from Kat Martin is

Jane321

Congratulations!  To claim your book, please send your full name and mailing address, with "Kat Martin Winner" in the subject line to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com


Heather Snow Winner



The winner of a copy of Sweet Enemy is:

June M

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

Thanks to everyone who stopped by to visit with Heather!


Friday, August 17, 2012

Maria Geraci winner!



The winner of a copy of A GIRL LIKE YOU by Maria Geraci is:

wendy p

Congrats, Wendy! Please send your full name and address to theromancedishATgmailDOTcom with "Maria's winner" as the subject and I'll forward your info to Maria. Thanks to everyone who stopped by during Maria's visit!

Review -- A Girl Like You

A Girl Like You
By Maria Geraci
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: August 7, 2012





As I mentioned in the introduction of Maria Geraci’s guest blog on Wednesday, she is an author that surprised me—in a GOOD way. When I read the blurb of the first book of hers I read, Bunco Babes Gone Wild, I figured it would be a cute read. I was right, but it was so much more. It was fun, romantic, and an absolute delight! The same can be said of her latest, A Girl Like You. In fact, it is her best book yet and now my favorite! 

Emma Frazier is a journalist for Florida!, a popular Florida magazine. She lives in Tampa, loves her job, gets along well with her coworkers, and has great friends. She’s smart, upbeat, and works hard, but knows that with her average looks and size 12 body, she will never be a runway model. And she’s okay with that. What she isn’t okay with is being referred to as the “ugly friend”. Emma overhears an acquaintance say this to her best friend, Torie, who promptly chews out said acquaintance. Emma pretends like she doesn’t hear it to spare anyone embarrassment, but it does hurt. Especially when that very same acquaintance ends up going home with Emma’s boss, Ben...who Emma has had a crush on for months. 

In an attempt to impress Ben, Emma says that she can get an exclusive interview with famous NASCAR driver Trip Monroe. Emma and Trip grew up in the same small Florida town, Catfish Cove, and graduated high school the same year. Granted, they weren’t the best of friends, but how hard could it be to score an interview with an old classmate? As Emma finds out, it’s a lot harder than she thought. But the determined Emma doesn’t give up. A visit to Catfish Cove stirs up old memories, renewed friendships, and new feelings which eventually lead to a whole lot more. 

I love this book! It is not your typical romance (after all, there are four possible heroes) and that’s what I love about it. I was constantly surprised and it kept me turning the pages. Plus, I love that it is set in Tampa, where I used to live. So many places were familiar to me. J Ms. Geraci’s writing is sharp and her heroines are smart—not just in the “book smart” way, but also in the decisions they make. Emma knows she’s not the prettiest girl out there, but even when dating a good-looking guy, she is intelligent enough to acknowledge when he isn’t her dream. Instead of being/staying with him because he is attractive and isn’t a jerk, she makes the right decision to break it off...and eventually finds her dream. She is one of those congenial characters that so many women can instantly connect with. And I was completely satisfied with who she ended up with. 

Romance, chick lit, women’s fiction... No matter what you call A Girl Like You, one thing is for certain—it will surely please! I highly recommend it!


~Andrea