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

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Coming Attractions


 
 
Well, we say good-bye to February and welcome March with open arms! March typically indicates the beginning of spring (at least here in the U.S.), and at the Romance Dish we are “blooming” with an exciting list of coming attractions! Please help us celebrate March by stopping by often. We have a lot of wonderful guest authors lined up along with some smashing reviews, regular monthly blogs, and, as always, many prizes up for grabs!

 

 

Grab a pen and paper to jot down your favorite March books from Andrea’s New Releases list on Friday, March 1st!

 
 
 

Drop by on Monday, March 4th, as we welcome back sexy, historical author Maggie Robinson to the blog! Maggie’s latest, Captain Durant’s Countess, released February 21st and was reviewed by PJ here!

 

 
 
Make Your Reservations on Thursday, March 7th, as we let you know which books we are most looking forward to in April.

 
 
 

Stop by on Friday, March 8th, when Andrea does a Q&A with New York Times and USA Today bestselling historical author Elizabeth Hoyt! Elizabeth’s latest in her Maiden Lane series, Lord of Darkness, released on February 26th and you can read Andrea’s 5 star review here!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
The lovely and talented Trish Milburn will catch us up with all the wonderful things happening in YA in her Teen Menu on Sunday, March 10th.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Monday, March 11th, we welcome contemporary author TinaLeonard to the Romance Dish! Hotter than Texas is the first in Tina’s new Pecan Creek series and releases March 19th.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Historical fiction author Donna Thorland dishes with us on Tuesday, March 12th! Her debut novel, The Turncoat: Renegades of the Revolution, hits shelves March 5th.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Please join us on Friday, March 15th, when we welcome back historical author Regan Walker! Against the Wind, the second book in Regan’s Agents of the Crown series, releases in March.

 










 
We always have fun when sweet and sassy author Tawny Weber stops by! The author of some of the sexiest SEALs in romance fiction will be here on Tuesday, March 19th.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Sunday, March 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.

 





Avon historical author Anna Randol is interviewed by PJ on Monday, March 25th! Anna’s latest, Sins of a Ruthless Rogue, the second in her Sinners Trio series hits shelves the next day, March 26th.

 






Photo courtesy of rwa.org

Photo courtesy of rwa.org


 
 
On Tuesday, March 26th, PJ will be celebrating the RITA and Golden Heart nominations as they are announced! Join us to dish on the books that are nominated, which ones you think will win, and which books you think deserve to be nominated!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Today's Special - - Jillian Hunter


I am so pleased to introduce New York Times, USA Today and Publishers Weekly bestselling author Jillian Hunter.  As the author of more than twenty published novels, Jillian is well known among romance fiction enthusiasts.  What you may not know about Jillian is that she has a personal family history that reads like a bestselling novel as well. Check out the Bio on her website for the whole story.  You can also connect with Jillian at her Facebook page.  

Jillian was kind enough to answer some questions for us recently about  herself and her books, including her upcoming March 5th release, The Mistress Memoirs: A Boscastle Affairs Novel.  




Welcome, Jillian!  Thanks for hanging out with us today.
Thank you for having me! I appreciate your time and I am happy to visit!

Congratulations on the upcoming release of The Mistress Memoirs, the thirteenth book in your popular Boscastle series. Please tell our readers a bit about the Boscastles and what we can expect from this book.

The Boscastle series started out as a trilogy about a family of Regency lords and ladies who are forced to rally forces upon the death of the tyrannical father who kept their mayhem under a semblance of control. The trouble is that their new patriarch, the heir and eldest son, Grayson, the fifth Marquess of Sedgecroft, isn’t convinced that he’s the man to inflict moral responsibilities on his siblings when he has no intention of settling down himself. But once Grayson meets a young lady who outsmarts him at his own game, he realizes he has found a woman devious and delightful enough to share his duty. The original tagline for the series was Scandal … Seduction … Secrets … Savoir faire! It’s all business as usual in the family were love conquers all -- one at a time. The Mistress Memoirs is a continuation of the series about one of the Boscastle cousins who grew up close to the original family. 

Does The Mistress Memoirs stand alone or would it be better to read other Boscastle books first?

I think this book stands alone because Colin has been pretty much a solitary player most of his life. In the scenes when he is reintroduced to his brothers, I try to keep the character count to a minimum. However, I did include a few cameos to please readers who write to ask me what is happening with a character they haven’t heard from in a while. It might be more fun to read the other books first, but it isn’t necessary.

I agree.  Reading the book as a stand-alone worked fine for me.  It has, however, made me want to pick up the other books and read those stories too! 

I was fascinated by the dynamic among the three main characters: Kate, Colin and Georgette. What do you want readers to understand about these three?

I grew up, as you noted, in a family of resilient men and women. Although Kate has been victimized, I wanted to show that her bad experience does not define her, and that desperation can make us become diamonds. I hope the reader understands that Georgette had an element of choice in her life and that she and Kate became deep friends because they refuse to judge each other. Colin really has to grow as a character to accept their strengths and their weaknesses and to realize that life has changed since he’s been gone.

Without giving away spoilers, what is the one scene you would never cut from this book?

I wouldn't cut the scene where Colin eavesdrops in the hedge and has to face the undeserved wrath of the household for hurting Kate. 

We all have our favorite comfort reads around here. What book (or author) do you turn to when you feel the need for some fictional comfort? 

Maeve Binchy is a comfort read for me.

What one thing would readers be surprised to learn about you?

I'm rather like a spider who likes to spin webs. I’d be very happy living in the corner of a library.

You have an amazing family history. Have you ever considered writing a book about your grandmother or using her and your parents as inspiration for a WWII romance?

It's funny.  I talk about certain things to my oldest friends and relatives and we rarely tell anyone about the past because we figure no one would believe us. My mother, uncle, and grandmother served in SwanseaWales during what was called the Three Night Blitz when the Nazi Luftwaffe bombed the Welsh port. After the war my grandmother divorced one of the five husbands she would outlive and moved with my mother and uncle to Edinburgh. It’s a running joke in our family that my beautiful mother refused to date Sean Connery only to end up marrying a real international man of mystery. But that’s another story. I am incredibly blessed to have been born into a family that taught me so much about life. I wouldn’t fictionalize their lives.

Will you be attending any conferences this year where readers will have the opportunity to meet you?

Not this year.  I’m going to write and spend time with my family at the beach. I’ll miss everyone, though!

While we'll miss you, I have to say that beach time with the family sounds lovely! 

What's next?

I'm writing Damien Boscastle’s story next, and one day I hope to clean my office.

Good luck with the office.  I've finally come to terms with the fact that mine will never be completely clean.

Would you like to ask our readers a question?

Do you read mainly print or e-books? What are you looking for in an ideal read?

Thanks again for graciously answering all of my questions, Jillian.  We wish you all the best with The Mistress Memoirs.   


Readers, Jillian is giving one copy of  The Duchess Diaries to two randomly selected people leaving a comment today.  (open internationally)




***************************************

The Mistress Memoirs
March 5, 2013


Disgraced by her past employer, young governess Kate Walcott owes her loyalty to the only woman willing to hire her—the sought-after courtesan Mrs. Georgette Lawson. Georgette entrusts Kate with the care of her unruly children—and the writing of her shocking memoirs, which detail her affairs with famous gentlemen, including the rakehell who promised to marry her, then ruined her.

Sir Colin Boscastle intended to keep his promise to Georgette—until his father was murdered. Thirteen years of chasing vengeance pass before he returns to find Georgette sleeping in his enemy’s bed. Revenge has destroyed their romance, but the two former lovers agree to set a trap to restore Colin’s honor.

Caught in this deadly game, Kate struggles to resist Colin’s virile charm. She knows he is a born heartbreaker and unreliable rogue. Should she believe him when he whispers that, for her, he will change his sinful ways?


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Review -- Lord of Darkness

Lord of Darkness
Maiden Lane—Book 5
By Elizabeth Hoyt
Publisher: Grand Central
Release Date: February 26, 2013
 




Warning—this review contains spoilers for those who haven’t read the Maiden Lane series. 

Lord of Darkness begins two years after Thief of Shadows ends. Two years after Godric St. John was blackmailed into marrying Lady Margaret Reading.  In fact, the books starts off with Godric seeing Megs for the first time since they married...and she’s holding a gun to his head. Though, she has no idea she has her husband in her sights. Megs only sees the Ghost of St. Giles, whom she believes killed Roger, the only man she ever loved. 

Megs comes to London for one reason: to seduce her husband and conceive a child. She hasn’t seen Godric since their wedding day, but holds no ill will toward him because she knows he did her a great favor by marrying her. But now she desperately wants a baby. She doesn’t expect to see the Ghost so quickly upon her arrival, but decides it is the perfect time to exact her revenge. When the Ghost ends up saving her life, Megs begins to see him in a somewhat different light...which of course causes her to feel slightly uncomfortable and confused. 

Godric returns to Saint House just before his wife’s arrival. He doesn’t expect her to stay too long since his house is in no way fit for company. Because of his nighttime activities as the Ghost of St. Giles, protector of the weak, he prefers his privacy above all else. So imagine his shock when his wife tells him why she’s there! But Megs isn’t the only person who has felt loss. Godric lost the love of his life to a slow, debilitating disease only years before. At first he rejects Megs’s plea as he feels it would be a betrayal to his beloved Clara. Later, he tries to appease her in the hopes that she’ll leave, but by then he is already falling for her charms. When Megs discovers her husband’s secret, they make a pact to find out the truth behind Roger’s murder. But they must be careful as there are others who want the Ghost dead... 

What can I say about Elizabeth Hoyt’s books that I haven’t already said in my other reviews? With each new book she releases, she always delivers the goods. I don’t think she could write a bad book if she tried. Lord of Darkness features two previous secondary characters who are brought together by a marriage of convenience. But even then, they aren’t “together”. Megs enjoys her life at Laurelwood Manor but soon longs for a baby and decides to throw caution to the wind and seduce her husband. I love Megs’s reaction when she first encounters Godric sleeping in an old, ancient armchair wearing ragged slippers and half-moon spectacles, and she deems him to be just as ancient. Ha! Of course, he’s not that old—that’s just what he wants her to believe. That’s what he wants everyone to believe, that he’s boring and stodgy. When she finds out he’s the Ghost, she knows that she and everyone else had him pegged wrong.
 

She threw her head back, her dark eyes shining, her hair already beginning to struggle out of its confines as she started pacing in front of his fireplace. “Until yesterday evening I thought I knew you. I thought you were a staid, elderly scholar who lived by himself in a much too dusty mansion and once in a while for a bit of excitement went out to coffeehouses. And then”—she spun at the far end of the room, waving her hands as if battling birds attacking her head—“and then I find out that you’re a notorious madman who runs about in a ridiculous mask and gets into fights with footpads in St. Giles, and, Godric, I really, truly don’t think I know you at all now.” 

She stopped dead and glared at him, her breast heaving. Dear God, she was magnificent when she was in a rage. 

He cleared his throat. “Elderly?” 

Elderly?” She mimicked him in a horribly high voice, which he privately thought was a bit unfair—he didn’t sound like that at all. “That’s all you can say?...”
 

Godric has been alone for so long that when Megs hugs him for the first time it is a shock to his body and mind. Both have felt the keen effects of losing someone they loved with all their hearts and certainly never expected to find that kind of love again. Their relationship slowly evolves from passing acquaintances to a deep understanding of one another and they sincerely appreciate what the other means to them.
 

“He may help people in St. Giles, but I think he does it at the expense of himself.”... “It can’t be good for a man such as Godric—a sensitive, moral man—to deal with violence so often. It’s as if he’s chipping away at his own soul.”

  
****

 
He could spend hours thus, simply watching the constant flicker of changing emotions across her face. She was so vibrant, his Megs, so alive with hope and love and happiness. If she left him—when she left him—he didn’t know how he would return to his old life. 

It would be like living without sunlight.
 

Lord of Darkness is another outstanding, emotionally-charged historical romance from Hoyt. It is the fifth in her popular Maiden Lane series, and while you certainly don’t need to have read the other books in the series to enjoy this one, I would recommend that you do in order to gain a greater understanding of the characters and their actions. Plus, they’re all terrific books! Those of you who have read the series will relish seeing some familiar faces and getting updates on previous couples. Once again, Hoyt has produced another gem for my keeper shelves and, once again, she has penned another book that I highly recommend. She continues to keep me enthralled with the folks of Maiden Lane and if the snippet from her next one is any indication, I will be enthralled again come November.  

 
~Andrea

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Sweet Talking Susan Mallery

by Anna Campbell

Do you have people you turn to for book recommendations?

I certainly do and among them is my lovely Romance Bandits friend Anna Sugden who seems to have very similar taste to me.

One of her favorite authors is Susan Mallery. But silly me, I didn't pick up on this recommendation until I was trawling through the to-be-read pile and came across these two books.

Well, what a discovery! I can see why Susan Mallery's so popular with readers. Wonderful contemporary romance.

Sadly, one of the books I found had been in the TBR pile since 2001 (gives you an idea of the scale of the TBR pile) and is now out of print. But if you happen to see MARRIED FOR A MONTH around the place, grab it. It's a fun read with a reunion/secret baby plot about two psychologists determined to prove that their theory for lasting love is the right one. A particular treat in MARRIED FOR A MONTH is a geek/sexpot romance that is hugely enjoyable - that's a theme I really enjoy. Susan Elizabeth Phillips often features awkward, nerdy, but smart and sweet guy with much more worldly woman and those stories are always great.

I picked up the book you can still buy, SWEET TALK, at the 2010 Romance Writers of America conference in Orlando. It's the first of a trilogy featuring the three Keyes sisters who own a bakery in Seattle. The other two books are SWEET SPOT and SWEET TROUBLE.

I said above I always enjoy the geek and the love goddess plot. In SWEET TALK, the geek is actually the heroine, concert pianist Claire Keyes (wonder if that's a case of nominative determinism!). Claire is a former child prodigy who has devoted her life to music. This has cost her many things, including her relationship with her family and a chance at a relationship with a man.

When her youngest sister Jesse calls out of the blue asking her to go back to Seattle to look after her twin sister Nicole who has undergone surgery, Claire leaps at the chance to re-connect with the family who have given her the cold shoulder for so many years. She knows it's not going to be easy - her twin Nicole harbors bitter hostility toward her and blames her for the death of their mother in a car accident. 

Claire's right. It's not easy. But she hangs in there, through thick and thin, determined to re-establish her closeness with her twin. Jesse is even more problematic - she and Nicole have fallen out which is why Jesse can't look after Nicole in her hour of need.

Through the miserable, difficult weeks, Claire gradually finds compensations for coming back to Seattle. There's her growing self-confidence as she undertakes a whole range of 'normal' activities outside her rarefied world like driving a car and working in the bakery. There's also handsome building contractor Wyatt Knight (White Knight? More nominative determinism?) and his lovely Deaf daughter Amy. Wyatt is at first suspicious of Claire and her motives, thanks to Nicole's stories about her sister. But he can't deny their immediate attraction and it's so enjoyable watching him slowly falling in love with the last person he ever thought he'd want in his life.

This story definitely falls into the 'sweet' category - that title is no mistake. The characters are nice people who you'd happily spend time with (even Nicole who is very prickly at the start warms up as the book progresses). There are some lovely scenes of reconciliation and forgiveness. Claire, as you've probably gathered, never gives up which puts you very much on her side and it's lovely watching her stretch her wings while still remaining true to herself. Wyatt is a great hero, smart and perceptive but still a real guy. The secondary characters like Amy and the people in the bakery give this story great texture.

I think for me the best part of the book is Claire. Susan Mallery does a beautiful job of conveying quite how at sea Claire is in the normal world, however much of a genius she is in front of a piano. There are touching scenes of Claire's vulnerability and uncertainty as she struggles to deal with the challenges of her sister's hostility and everyday living. There are also some great funny bits - a couple of the scenes in the bakery will have you laughing out loud.

So all round, this was a fun, touching read about family and finding love where you least expect it. Just perfect for the Holidays. Although it's not set at Christmas, there's a Christmas feel of hope renewed and love rediscovered here that will leave you with a smile on your face.

So have you read Susan Mallery? Any recommendations? I've got a lot of catching up to do! Do you have a favorite contemporary romance writer? I must say I can never go past Susan Elizabeth Phillips. I think she's just phenomenal. What about you?

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Regan Walker Winner



The winner of an electronic copy of The Shamrock & the Rose by Regan Walker is

Erin

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


Friday, February 22, 2013

Review - - Captain Durant's Countess

Captain Durant's Countess
By Maggie Robinson
Publisher:  eKensington 
Release Date:  February 21, 2013




Maris, Countess of Kelby loves her husband.  As the daughter of his secretary and best friend of the earl's daughter, Maris grew up on the earl's country estate and has admired him from a young age, sharing his scholarly passion for the archaeological treasures uncovered by him as well as the previous Earls of Kelby. Ten years ago, following her father's death, the earl married Maris to protect her. Though they do not have a physical relationship, they have a genuine affection between them and Maris would do anything to make her elderly, dying husband's dearest wish come true.  Which is how the sheltered and very proper countess comes to be standing in London's notorious Reining Monarchs Society, a private club where people can act out their sexual fantasies in private,  facing a very naked and uncooperative Captain Durant, and determined to stay until she has convinced him to carry out the task for which he took her husband's money.

Coming home after leaving the military to find his beloved younger sister in serious health,  Reynold (Reyn) Durant knows he needs a sizable sum of money to move his sister out of London and give her damaged lungs a chance to heal.  It could be her only hope of survival.  A vaguely worded advertisement in the London List gives him the means to help his sister but, after taking the money, Reyn's conscience intervenes and he decides he can't sleep with another man's wife for money..no matter how desperately that man needs an heir to save his estate - and his life's work - from his villainous nephew.  That's before he meets Lady Kelby; a prim, proper, starchy and surprisingly innocent thirty-four year old woman to whom the worldly Reyn is inexplicably drawn.

This storyline usually doesn't appeal to me but in Maggie Robinson's talented hands, it works.  She brings together a buttoned-up woman who has never known passion in her life and a charming, passionate rogue who shows surprising gentleness and vulnerability.  Then she throws them into a situation where a happy ending seems impossible but, as this is a romance, we know somewhere down the line a happy ending awaits.  I like that Robinson takes her time with these characters, allowing them to gradually come to know one another and us to know them.  I also appreciate the fact that she keeps their emotions tied to reality; showing the pleasure Maris experiences as she slowly opens her mind and heart to a physical connection with a man while at the same time dealing with the guilt in knowing that these wondrous feelings are a result of betraying her husband - not so much physically, but emotionally - even though he's been more of a father to her than a true husband.  Then there's Reyn; a surprisingly gentle and vulnerable man who finds himself developing genuine feelings for this woman who is beyond his reach, because she is married but also because of her station, her education and the fact that she is five years his senior.

There's plenty of sizzle in this book but it was ultimately the complexity of the characters, the emotional depth and tenderness that kept me immersed in the story.  The secondary cast of characters is richly drawn, especially Reyn's sister.  The villain of the story is dealt with in an interesting, and humorously fitting, manner though I felt he got off a bit too easy considering his crimes.  But, in the end, I was not as concerned about his fate as that of Reyn and Maris.  

Don't let the premise of this book or the fact that neither the hero nor the heroine is very likable in the beginning put you off.  Stick with the story and you will be rewarded with a hero and heroine who reveal themselves to be worthy characters with genuinely good hearts who deserve the tender, heartwarming and thoroughly satisfying romance that Maggie Robinson has given them.

~PJ

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Guest Review - - Back to You


Back to You
By Robin Kaye
Publisher: Signet
Release Date: December 31, 2012



Storm Decker is coming home to Red Hook, the Brooklyn neighborhood he left behind him eleven years ago to make his mark in a larger world. He has succeeded beyond his expectations, finding his place in Auckland, where he owns his own company. Designing boats for the rich and famous, winning yacht races, and making more money than a poor kid from Brooklyn could imagine allow Storm to take pride in the life he has built. Returning to Red Hook was not part of his plan, but he owes a lot to his foster father, an ex-cop and bar owner, who took Storm in when his biological father almost killed him. Pete gave Storm a home, a family, and a space to grow his dreams. Storm will make whatever sacrifices he must to be there for Pete while he’s recovering from a quadruple bypass. As long as his Pop needs him, he’ll be in Red Hook.

Breanna Collins owes a lot to Pete as well. When her own police officer father was killed on duty, Pete, her dad’s partner and life-long friend, stepped in, becoming a substitute father for Bree. He gave her a place of safety and sanity and a chance to lead a normal life when her mother’s obsessive drive to protect her almost smothered Bree. She and Storm grew up together, but she never thought of Storm as a brother. She was seventeen when they almost became lovers, but Storm ran away, leaving her devastated. In the eleven years that Storm has been gone, Bree has finished college and taken over most of the responsibility for the Crow’s Nest, Pete’s bar, transforming it into something more than just another smoky neighborhood bar in the process. She’s also a leader in the movement to revitalize Red Hook, something she does in tribute to her father who loved the community.  Her work, her friends, and her love for ten-year-old Nikki, the most recent of Pete’s kids fill her life.

Bree knows she needs help with a recovering Pete, a bar to manage, and a ten-year-old to care for, but Logan Blaise is the foster son she contacted. She’s not prepared for an encounter with Storm. In fact, at first she thinks he’s a burglar and attacks him with a frying pan. Once she recognizes him she realizes that the chemistry between them has just grown stronger in the years they have been apart. But Bree is determined that history will not repeat itself. Convinced that Storm, who “probably had Peter Pan tattooed on his ass,” has not disposed of his running shoes, Bree decides to indulge her lust and protect her heart. Storm is just as eager as Bree to finish what they started all those years ago, but he refuses to become just a bed partner. He’s confused about what he feels for Bree, for Nickki, and for Red Hook, but he knows that Bree is too important to him to settle for a relationship that ends with the physical. But first Breanna has to trust him with her heart and with the secrets she’s keeping from him, and that’s a battle he may not win.

I love reunion stories, and this is a terrific one with layers of complications. Bree and Storm both have their share of baggage, and they have to learn to trust themselves as well as one another. There’s an interesting bit of role reversal going on. Not only is Bree the character who insists on sex without emotional engagement, but she also demonstrates repeatedly an insensitivity to Storm’s feelings and a determination to believe the worst of him. Storm is the one who recognizes early on that he needs commitment, and he is openly vulnerable to Bree’s assaults on his integrity. He takes pride in her and what she has accomplished and even takes care to see that she is protected after her lack of trust convinces him there is no hope for the two of them.

The story includes a strong cast of secondary characters. Pete is an endearing grump who leads with his heart. Nikki is a fierce, wounded, smart, and funny kid who stole my heart in the first few pages. I also loved the friendship that connects Bree and her girlfriends Rocki and Patrice. They have her back, but they can practice tough love when it’s needed.

Red Hook is as much a presence in the story as any character. It’s also a welcome urban addition to a contemporary romance landscape that seems to have become almost the exclusive property of small-town settings in recent years. I was particularly pleased that the reclamation of the community is not regentrification fueled by outsiders but revitalization led by the residents.

I read Kaye’s Romeo, Romeo when it was getting a lot of buzz several years ago and really enjoyed it, but I haven’t read anything by her since. I liked Back to You so well that I downloaded “Hometown Girl,” the novella that introduced the Red Hook series, and I have You’re the One, the second Bad Boys of Red Hook novel, on my book calendar. It’s Logan’s story, and it releases June 4. I’ll be checking out Kaye’s backlist too. If you like contemporary romance with a nice sizzle balanced by a compelling story about characters who will charm and captivate you, with the addition of a rich sense of place, I definitely recommend Back to You.

~Janga
http://justjanga.blogspot.com


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Today's Special - - Regan Walker

I love discovering new-to-me writers and then sharing them with my fellow readers.  Today, I'm pleased to introduce historical romance author Regan Walker.  A lawyer who has also worked in high levels of government, Regan gained a wealth of knowledge from her work and travels (she's visited more than 40 countries) that she has put to good use since leaving her government career and turning her focus to writing.  You can find more information about Regan and her books at her website and connect with her at Facebook and Twitter.    







Welcome, Regan!  It’s a pleasure to have you visit with us today.  You have a new short story out this month.  Please tell our readers what they can expect from The Shamrock and the Rose.

The story is set in London in 1818, and is the second that features the Dowager Countess of Claremont’s matchmaking efforts. This one tells of Rose Collingwood, daughter of a baron, who wanted to play Portia in The Merchant of Venice. To accept the part at the Theatre-Royal at Haymarket, however, the very proper young lady must assume the disguise of Miss Lily Underwood, the actress. Soon all of London is at her feet sending her love notes. One such Valentine goes awry only to be found by the dashing Irish barrister, Morgan O'Connell. Though he would have seduced the actress, Morgan must court the lady. Given three choices, much like Portia's suitors, can she resist the handsome Irish rogue?

Does this story stand on its own or is it part of a series?

Neither really but it’s related to all of them. Though my two short stories can be enjoyed on their own, The Shamrock & The Rose and my Christmas one The Holly & The Thistle are loosely related to each other and include characters from my Agents of the Crown trilogy. The first in the trilogy, Racing With The Wind, was released last July and the second, Against the Wind, is coming out in March. I’m writing the third, Wind Raven, now. All are Regencies set between 1816-1818.

I enjoyed the matchmaking countess.  Will we see her again in future stories?

I love Muriel, too! Yes, she is in my other short story, The Holly & The Thistle, and she makes a cameo appearance in Against the Wind when she encounters Sir Martin Powell, the handsome spy for the Crown upon his return to London. Indeed, she is quite taken with the dashing, blue-eyed Sir Martin.

What can we expect from Racing with the Wind and the Agents of the Crown trilogy?

Racing With The Wind begins in 1811 as a mysterious figure steals plans for Napoleon’s invasion of Russia from a French general’s chateau in Paris in the dead of night. The thief is a legend known as the Nighthawk. Years later, we meet Lady Mary Campbell in London, a young hoyden who rides a black stallion astride and has postponed her first Season as long as she can. Succumbing to her mother’s demands that she attend a ball, she goes only to see a dark stranger staring at her from across the room. Hugh Redgrave, the Marquess of Ormond and heir to a dukedom, is not your average member of the nobility. He has a secret. When next Lady Mary encounters him she thinks him quite arrogant. But when her statesman uncle returns to Paris to the court of King Louis XVIII, Lady Mary will go with him—and so will the mysterious Lord Ormond. And oh what adventure awaits them there!

The next two in the trilogy involve two brothers, Sir Martin Powell, the spy we met in Racing With the Wind, and his older brother Jean Nicholas Powell, an English sea captain you’ll meet in Against the Wind, both on special assignments for the Crown. 



According to your bio, your previous jobs have taken you to more than 40 countries.  Might we expect more non-traditional locations for future books?

I do hope so. Against the Wind is set in the Midlands of England, which is not terribly exotic, but Wind Raven takes place on a schooner and in the Caribbean (with pirates, of course!). And the prequel I have yet to start will be on the high seas and in France.

Let’s talk a bit about you. 

What do you enjoy reading when you’re not busy creating your own stories?

When it comes to recreational reading, my passion is historical romance and was before I began writing. I am an avid reader of the genre and a reviewer with my own blog (Regan’s Romance Reviews: http://reganromancereview.blogspot.com). I have over 500 reviews on Amazon with a 90% helpful rating and 10 best lists. So, I guess you could say I’m always in the deep past. I’ve just been reading to update my Best Pirate and Privateer Romances list and for St. Patrick’s Day, I’ll be updating my Best Irish Historical Romances list. I like reading to a theme as it allows me to compare books. There are so many good authors out there! When I’m not reading romance, I’m reading background research for my books. I read The Bachelor Duke by James Lees-Milne and enjoyed it thoroughly (the Duke is a character in my upcoming novel, Against the Wind).

You’re a very busy lady!  What are your favorite ways to step away and de-stress from all of your responsibilities?

You’ll laugh when I tell you but I still play the lawyer and still give legal advice. I like solving problems and enjoy helping others to succeed. In my true off hours I am a fan of PBS, especially Garrow’s Law and Downton Abbey and any period mystery when accompanied by popcorn. And I love to have dinner with a small group of friends. I also cook; did I mention that? Baking can be very therapeutic. 

Will readers have the opportunity to meet you at any conferences or book signings this year?

Oooo, funny you should ask. Last year I went to RWA, Romantic Times and the Emerald City conferences, but this year I think I’m staying home. Look for me in 2014!

You’ve been all over the world.  Is there a county you haven’t been to yet that you have a burning desire to visit?  Why?

Yes! I’d love to go to Morocco. I nearly went on business twice, but alas, I still have yet to go. It was a country beloved by Winston Churchill, a leader I greatly admire (I named my son after him!). It’s exotic and echoes an interesting past, yet it is also modern. They like America there (or did) because George Washington was the first leader to recognize their independence. And, their women are more encouraged to have active careers than in other Arab countries.

What’s next?

Well, I’m deep into research of the workings of a schooner and Irish mythology in the process of writing the third in my trilogy, Wind Raven. It’s the story of an English sea captain and an American girl sent to live with her aunt, a dowager baroness, to become a young lady. Of course, she is having none of it and when she has the chance to return home to Baltimore, she takes the first ship out. It would have to be the ship captained by Jean Nicholas Powell—brother to the spy, Sir Martin, and grandson of the French pirate Jean Donet. Nick is on secret assignment for the Prince Regent involving pirates!
After that there is the prequel for the trilogy, tentatively titled On Fair Winds; and a Christmas reunion of the Agents of the Crown in Scotland hinted at in The Holly & The Thistle.

And dare I mention that I have a half done medieval, The Red Wolf’s Prize? I set it aside to finish my trilogy but I have not forgotten it! I love the period when William the Conqueror stormed England and his knights divvied up parts of the country claiming Saxon brides as they did. The Wolf is a very sexy hero, I promise!

Thank you, Regan!  Do you have a question for our readers today?

I would love to know what they’d like to see in my novels. When I learned that many of my readers are cat lovers, I decided to include some cats in my novels. (You will see cats in Against the Wind and a very intelligent cat in Wind Raven.) So, you see, I listen!

One randomly chosen person leaving a comment today will receive an electronic copy of The Shamrock & The Rose.  


Links:


Amazon link for The Shamrock & The Rose: http://www.amazon.com/The-Shamrock-Rose-ebook/dp/B00BA2DUVS
Author website URL: http://www.reganwalkerauthor.com/
Regan’s Romance Reviews blog: http://reganromancereview.blogspot.com/
Twitter: @RegansReview (https://twitter.com/RegansReview)






Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Máire Claremont winner!



The winner of a copy of The Dark Lady by Máire Claremont is:
 
Sharlene
 
Congratulations, Sharlene! Please send your full name and address to theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com with "The Dark Lady winner" as the subject and I'll forward your info to Máire. Thanks to everyone who stopped by to welcome Máire during her debut blog tour!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Today's Special - - Jennifer McQuiston

I am so happy to introduce you to debut author, Jennifer McQuiston.  I first met Jennifer at the RWA National Conference in New York City when a mutual friend asked me to join a group of writers from Atlanta for dinner.  I was awed by her professional accomplishments (she's a veterinarian and infectious disease specialist) and charmed by her warmth and humor.  That humor is clearly evident in her debut romance novel, WHAT HAPPENS IN SCOTLAND.  I've now read it twice and both times it had me grinning from beginning to end.  Jennifer joins us today to blog about an object that has a very important role in her book.  Take it away, Jennifer!  








One of my most prized possessions is a chamber pot.

There. I wrote it. Out loud. On the Internet.

Think I am strange, if you must. But the chamber pot in question came from my great-great grandmother on my father’s side, and I like to imagine it carries inside it the stories of my hard-scrabble mountain relatives (if not residual traces of their DNA).

I have used it as a raffle bowl, a place to toss my keys when I walk through the door, and of course, a conversation piece. This morning it is being used as one half of a book-end, holding up my Complete Works of Charlotte Bronte. It is always proudly and prominently displayed in my house, but most folks have no idea what it is because it’s so darn pretty: delicate white porcelain, with scalloped edges and a floral and wheat design. I like to imagine I could have willingly done my business in such an imaginative vessel, once upon a time, but nope.

I think I would rather serve soup in it.

Or chocolate truffles. I admit my sick sense of humor has made me consider just such a scenario.




It has also served as one of my most important muses. You see, it’s prominently featured in the opening pages of my new book, What Happens in Scotland. In fact, a chamber pot that looks exactly like this one is the hero’s first clue that something untoward has happened the night before—not that he can remember any of it.

An excerpt from What Happens in Scotland:

“Can you hear me, you sodding fool?”
            Though better sense bade him not to, James MacKenzie opened his eyes. His brother William loomed over him, his face strung with a smirk and his fingers curved around shards of white pottery.     
“Bugger off,” James moaned, his head a mass of mangled thoughts and pain. “Can you not see I am sick?”
William hefted the ruined bit of china and dangled it above James’s nose. “I confess that was my first thought, but by the looks of things here, it seems you have put the chamber pot to a different use.” He frowned a moment, the motion looking more like a grimace. “Injured, is more like it. Did you get in a fight with your piss pot, then?”
James squinted up at his brother, absorbing his words like water into sand. His evening had consisted of dinner and several draughts of ale in the local pub house. Now he felt as if he had been hauled in from the knackers.
What had any of that to do with a ruined chamber pot?
“You don’t know what you are talking about.” James started to shake his head and then decided better of it. Life seemed so much better when his brain wasn’t bouncing around his skull.
“Oh that’s rich, coming from a man who doesn’t know where his boots are.” William  tossed a pair of battered footwear onto the bed. “Tis a bonny nap you’ve had, nigh on two hours since dawn. But the innkeeper insists on your removal now, I am afraid.”
“Innkeeper?” James sat up and waited until his chest stopped heaving and the walls stopped bending toward corners. “Is that where I am?”
He swung his bare legs off the edge of the mattress. The floorboards crunched under his feet, and the sharp, sweet odor in the air gave him pause. Christ, had he smashed a bottle of brandy on the floor last night? He peered around the room, took in the ruined wardrobe, the upturned washbasin. Feathers floated in the air and stuck to the walls. A woman’s corset hung from the drapery rod, something plain and demure but oddly beautiful for its lack of adornment. There was no denying the room looked as if a bloody good party had taken place.
“I hope she was worth it, you daft fool,” William snorted.
“Who was worth it?” James muttered, grabbing his shirt from the floor.
“The woman you brought up here last night.”
James stiffened against the slide of fabric across his chest. The shirt seemed different. It smelled of brandy, and an exotic fragrance that he could not quite name. “What woman?” he managed, starting in on his buttons. “And where in the bloody hell am I?”
“The Blue Gander,” his brother chuckled. “And the woman you married last night.”

What Happens in Scotland is my debut novel, and I am so excited that the publication date (February 26th) is almost here! I have been writing for several years, but apparently my previous efforts were lacking the vital elements of a ruined chamber pot and a naked Scotsman with amnesia, because the moment I put those down on a page, my life changed forever. What Happens in Scotland was ridiculous fun to write, and I hope you find it an enjoyable read. It is a total romp—those of you expecting a dark, twisting Victorian tragedy might want to back away slowly.  But those of you wanting to know more about my naked amnestic Scotsman (and the woman he apparently married last night) should trot on over to Amazon or Barnes and Noble, where it is available for pre-order.

While we are waiting for February 26th (because honestly, does anything move more slowly than the week before a debut author’s release?), I can offer this as a consolation prize! I will choose one lucky commenter at random to receive this fun bag of Haggis-flavored potato crisps, imported directly from Mackie’s of Scotland.




‘Cause you know… nothing goes better with a yummy Scotsman (did I mention he was naked?) than Haggis. Except maybe chocolate. And brandy.

OK, I’ll throw in some of these amazing little brandy chocolates too! No, not the whole box, you greedy things. These things are potent.

And I’d hate for you to lose your memory and wake up in bed with James MacKenzie.




(Giveaway restricted to U.S. addresses only.)  


Discover more information about Jennifer (and some breathtaking photos of Scotland) at her website and connect with her at Facebook and Twitter.  You can also find Jennifer at the multi-author Dashing Duchesses Romance Blog. 


Jennifer will be going on a book signing tour next week along with historical romance authors
Sophia Nash and Liz Carlyle.


Thursday, February 28 ~ 7:00pm
Eagle Eye Books
2076 North Decatur Rd.
Decatur, GA 30033

Friday, March 1 ~ 12:30 to 2:30pm
Fountain Books
1312 E Cary St.
Richmond, VA 23219
Saturday, March 2 ~ 7:00pm

Saturday, March 2 ~ 7:00pm
Malaprops
55 Haywood St.
Asheville, NC 28801