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

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Last Chance Winners





The following people have not claimed their box of books from our RITA post:

Amy Cook in Wisconsin

Sharon A

Please send your full name and mailing address to us no later than Tuesday, April 2 or we will need to choose new names.  All boxes must be mailed out no later than April 8.  Thanks!

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com


Coming Attractions


April may be the month of showers but here at The Romance Dish, it's the month of awesome authors! We have a terrific line-up for the coming month and hope you will all join us for interviews, author blogs, reviews, lots of giveaways and, as always, plenty of fun!  







We kick things off Thursday, April 4th when PJ interviews one of her favorite new historical romance authors, Heather Snow.  The third book in Heather's Veiled Seduction series, Sweet Madness, will be released April 2nd.  PJ says this is a book you do not want to miss!







On Friday, April 5th, Andrea brings us her list of new book releases for April.  





Join us Monday, April 8th when we have an interview with historical romance author, Kate Noble. Kate's an auto-buy for both PJ and Andrea.  Her newest book, Let it Be Me will be out April 2nd and looks to be another winner from this talented author.  (Isn't that a gorgeous cover?)











Trish Milburn is back on Wednesday, April 10th for another edition of Teen Menu.  You won't want to miss her updates on what new in the world of Young Adult books, movies and television!







On Thursday, May 11th, drop by to find out what May books Andrea and PJ are most anticipating in our monthly Make Your Reservations.  






Friday, April 12th brings Linda Joyce to the blog for her first visit.  Linda writes contemporary romance with a Southern flavor.  The first book in her Fleur de Lis series, Bayou Born was released in February 2013.  










Historical romance author, Julianne MacLean joins us on Thursday, April 18th.  Julianne is a long-time favorite of both PJ and Andrea.  Julianne has two books out this spring:  The Prince's Bride (Book 3 in the Royal Trilogy) will be released April 30th while March 31st brings us Seduced at Sunset, the much anticipated conclusion of MacLean's Pembroke Palace series. 










If you've fallen in love with the residents of Destiny, Ohio (like PJ has), then you won't want to miss her interview with the author of this sexy and heartwarming contemporary series, Toni Blake on Tuesday, April 23rd.    Half Moon Hill, the sixth book in the series, will be out April 30th.  (PJ has already read an advanced copy of the book and highly recommends it! ) 









Anna Campbell returns with another insightful and entertaining review in her monthly Second Helping column on Wednesday, April 24th.  







Friday, April 26th brings historical author, Regan Walker back for a return visit.  Regan's new book, Against the Wind, second in her Agents of the Crown series was released March 19th.  










We close out the month on Monday, April 29th with a blog from Kat Martin.  Kat's new romantic suspense novel, Against the Edge will be released April 30th.  





What are you looking forward to in April?  I have nine more boxes of books to give away so leave a comment and you may be one of the randomly chosen people to receive a box of books.  (U.S. addresses only)  

** Note:  These boxes must be mailed out no later than April 8th.  I'll post the winners tomorrow night.  Please check the blog and send us your name and address if you're one of the winners.  Thank you!  

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Robyn Carr Winner




The winner of a copy of The Wanderer by Robyn Carr is

Cheryl C

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


Friday, March 29, 2013

Guest Review - - Sand Castle Bay


Sand Castle Bay
By Sherryl Woods
Publisher: Harlequin Mira
Release Date: March 26, 2013



Emily Castle and her sisters, Gabi and Samantha, spent the summers of their childhood with their grandparents who lived in Sand Castle Bay, a small town in coastal North Carolina. It was there that fourteen-year-old Emily fell in love with Boone Dorsett, the neglected son of wealthy parents and an aspiring bad boy until his relationship with Emily made him part of the extended Castle clan. But Emily had big dreams that didn’t include settling down in Sand Castle Bay. Ten years ago she left to pursue those dreams, and Boone became the man in her past. She has achieved career success as an interior designer to celebrities and other wealthy clients, but her personal life has been on hold. Now, in the aftermath of a hurricane that damaged Castle’s by the Sea, her grandmother needs her, and Emily is on her way back to Sand Castle Bay where Boone has gone on with the life she refused to share.

Boone Dorsett owes Cora Jane Castle a lot. Her love and belief in him led him from a disastrous path when he was a teenager, and she has made him feel like family ever since. He understands that Cora Jane needs her granddaughters' help getting her restaurant running again and needs them even more as emotional support, but he is wary of Emily’s return upsetting the precarious balance of his life. After Emily dumped him, he married sweet Jenny Farmer who wanted nothing more than to be Boone’s wife and the mother of his son. A year after Jenny’s death, Boone is dealing with guilt because he never loved Jenny as much as she loved him. His top priorities are his eight-year-old son B. J. and his three restaurants. He doesn’t need Emily Castle making him remember feelings best forgotten.

It doesn’t take long for Emily and Boone to recognize that the fire that once burned so brightly has been banked rather than doused. Added to the mix is the bond that develops quickly between Emily and B. J. But Boone’s life is rooted in Sand Castle Bay, and Emily is even more invested in her career when she is offered an opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of women and children more than a thousand miles from North Carolina. Then, there are Boone’s former in-laws who are making noises about suing for custody of B. J. Are some obstacles too great for even love to overcome?

Sand Castle Bay introduces a new series from Sherryl Woods, who, with more than a dozen series to her credit, has ample practice in creating likeable characters who interact in a warm and friendly community. The Ocean Breeze trilogy promises more of the same. The conflict between Emily and Boone can be resolved with communication and compromise. The custody battle that concerns Boone is a toothless threat. Secondary characters include the workaholic father whose children feel deprived of his attention, the family matriarch with a penchant for interfering in the lives of those she loves, the lovable, inquisitive kid, and interesting heroines and hunky heroes-in waiting. These are all standard characters for Woods, and they all have a part to play in Sand Castle Bay.

Although Sand Castle Bay suffers in comparison to the best of Woods’s Sweet Magnolia and Chesapeake Shores books, fans of Woods who like the comfort of the familiar will probably enjoy the book. Readers who prefer their romances less predictable, more challenging, and with at least a sprinkle of spice may want to look elsewhere.

~Janga
http://justjanga.blogspot.com

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Today's Special - - Robyn Carr

Robyn Carr is one of my favorite authors.  Her Virgin River books all sit on my keeper shelf and I enjoy revisiting Mel, Jack and the rest of the residents who have become "friends" over the past several years.  

Yesterday, Carr launched her new Thunder Point series with the release of The Wanderer.  I look forward to reading it!  Robyn's schedule won't allow her to join us today but she's shared a prepared Q&A with us and is graciously giving a copy of The Wanderer to one randomly chosen person who leaves a comment.  

For more information about Robyn and her books, visit her website, connect with her on facebook and follow her on twitter.   





Q: Millions of readers visit Virgin River, the setting of your last series, every year. What made you decide to venture away from Virgin River in your new Thunder Point series?

A:  It was time for something fresh and new for a lot of reasons—to keep me fresh and new, for one thing.  But also, twenty books in a series is a lot for new readers to even comprehend, and no matter how many times they’re told they can jump in any time, many will be intimidated by the sheer number.  I call this the Grey’s Anatomy Syndrome—I’ve never seen an episode because when it started, I chose another show to commit to.  I know, I know—I could rent or download the early episodes and watch 147 straight hours of TV to catch up (ugh!), and I’m not likely to do that.  So, we’ll at least take a break, move to a new location with a new cast and new theme.  That doesn’t mean I’ll never go back to Virgin River.

Also—the town is getting large; the population is growing.  My readers love it when I bring characters back together; they want to check on their people and make sure they’re doing all right.  And as the list of characters grows, it becomes more of a challenge to bring them all together.  And if I bring only a few back, my readers want to know where the others are! 

There are certain things my readers love that will always be present, whether I’m writing about a small town, a long-running series or even a standalone women’s fiction—there is always a strong sense of community and commitment; there is always intense friendship.  You can count on me for strong women and heroes dedicated to loving them loyally and keeping them safe—and safe is a relative term.  It can be safe from danger or safe from loneliness or betrayal or fear.  There will always be women’s issues, large or not so large.  There will always be solutions to difficult situations that I hope are entertaining, intelligent and completely feasible, something that I intend to give my readers hope as they face their own problems. 

Q: What was it like to start writing about an entirely new place after being in Virgin River for 20 books? Did it take you longer to write The Wanderer than it usually does to write a new novel since you were creating a whole new setting?

A:  I will admit—it was terrifying!  I was so comfortable in Virgin River; I knew the town and the people so well after 20 books.  The very thought of creating an entirely new community from scratch was very intimidating.  I thought about this place and the original cast for a year before writing the first book.  I was afraid it wouldn’t measure up.  But then I began, and I fell in love all over again and found the process so exciting, so invigorating.  The men stole my heart over and over, the women became dear to me, and the teenagers—I’ve always had a teen or two or three in almost every book—really spoke to me.  I think this town will easily be as beloved as Virgin River and Grace Valley have been. 

Q: What made you choose the Oregon Coast as the setting for your new trilogy? Did you travel to the area to do research before you starting writing The Wanderer? What about the landscape really stood out for you?

A:  At first the location was purely logical.  This is my third series.  The first —Grace Valley, was a valley town in the mountains.  The second was a mountain town—Virgin River.  It only made sense to head for the ocean.  Also, Thunder Point isn’t terribly far from Northern California, with many of the same issues but plenty of new ones.  I understand that part of the world.  And yes, I went there.  I spent a good deal of time with the local Coast Guard, conducted interviews, took pictures.  Mainly, I stood on the high, rocky coast and let it soak into my skin, my head, my heart.  I pictured people there, conducting their day-to-day lives, falling in love, rubbing up against crisis, relying on each other. 

Readers, have you read Robyn's books?  Do you have a favorite?  Are you a fan of small-town contemporary romances?  What qualities draw you to these books?  Robyn is giving a copy of The Wanderer to one randomly chosen person who leaves a comment on today's Q&A.  




Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Winners!





We have a lot of winners to announce today!  First up, our three winners from
 PJ's With this Kiss review are:


Connie
Kim
Hellion



The winner of a copy of Sins of a Ruthless Rogue by Anna Randol is:



Quilt Lady


The winners of PJ's Rita/Golden Heart box of books giveaway are:

Amy Cook in Wisconsin
Jeanne M
Sharon A
Kellianne
Pat L
regencygirl01

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






Tuesday, March 26, 2013

And The Nominees Are...

For romance authors and those of us who love reading their books, today is the day!  Today, Romance Writers of America® (RWA) will officially announce the finalists for best books of 2012 and best unpublished manuscripts for 2012.  Writers sit anxiously by their phones, ready to pop the champagne if they're one of the fortunate ones to receive a call telling them their book is a finalist while readers celebrate their favorites that make the list and hotly debate those they feel should have made the cut...but didn't.  We'll be following the announcements here at The Romance Dish, talking about all the great books of 2012 and, all day today, we'll be giving away books.  Lots and lots of books!  So come on in, choose a comfy chair, grab a drink and some snacks and let's talk books!

We'll fill in the finalists for each of the categories below as they are announced but I'm sure we all have our own thoughts about what books published in 2012 should be in those slots.  Tell me about your favorite books of 2012 and which of them you'd like to see listed below.  I'm celebrating romance by giving away boxes of books to randomly chosen people leaving comments today!  (U.S. addresses only)




RITA® FINALISTS

CONTEMPORARY SINGLE TITLE ROMANCE
Zoe's Muster by Barbara Hannay
About Last Night by Ruthie Knox
Barefoot in the Sand by Roxanne St. Claire
Sugar Springs by Kim Law
Lucky in Love by Jill Shalvis
Forever and a Day by Jill Shalvis
The Way Back Home by Barbara Freethy
Melt into You by Roni Loren


HISTORICAL ROMANCE
Beauty and the Bounty Hunter by Lori Austin
Bride by Mistake by Anne Gracie
Wedded in Sin by Jade Lee
A Rogue by Any Other Name by Sarah MacLean
Defiant by Pamela Clare
The Recruit by Monica McCarty
Too Dangerous to Desire by Cara Elliott
A Lady Never Surrenders by Sabrina Jeffries

INSPIRATIONAL ROMANCE
Naomi's Christmas by Marta Perry
The Soldier's Wife by Cheryl Reavis
A House Full of Hope by Missy Tippens
An Heiress at Heart by Jennifer Delamere
Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden
Betrayal by Robin Lee Hatcher
My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade
The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck


LONG CONTEMPORARY SERIES ROMANCE
Out of the Depths by Pamela Hearon
A Life Rebuilt by Jean Brashear
No Ordinary Joe by Michelle Celmer
A Texas Chance by Jean Brashear
A Gift for All Seasons by Karen Templeton
A Cold Creek Noel by RaeAnne Thayne

NOVEL WITH STRONG ROMANTIC ELEMENTS
A Girl Like You by Maria Geraci
Time's Echo by Pamela Hartshorne
Before and Ever Since by Sharla Lovelace
The Welcome Committee of Butternut Creek by Jane Myers Perrine
The Anatomist's Wife by Anna Lee Huber
The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James
Bridge of Scarlet Leaves by Kristina McMorris


PARANORMAL ROMANCE
Angel in Chains by Cynthia Eden
Immortally Yours by Angie Fox
Mark of the Witch by Maggie Shayne
Rogue Rider by Larissa Ione
Moonglow by Kristen Callihan
Lothaire by Kresley Cole
Shadow's Claim by Kresley Cole
Edge of Oblivion by J.T. Geissinger

ROMANCE NOVELLA
"Sleeping With a Beauty" by Leslie Kelly in Once Upon a Valentine
"The Valentine's Curse" by Jodi Thomas in Be My Texas Valentine
"The Duchess of Love" by Sally MacKenzie in Bedding Lord Ned
Breathless by Sophie Jordan
Seduced by a Pirate by Eloisa James
"Room at the Inn" by Ruthie Knox in Naughty & Nice

ROMANTIC SUSPENSE
Dead Heat by Bronwyn Parry
Celebrity in Death by J.D. Robb
Scorched by Laura Griffin
Twisted by Laura Griffin
Last Man Standing by Cindy Gerard
Don't Cry for Me by Sharon Sala
Forged in Fire by Trish McCallan
Vortex by Cherry Adair


SHORT CONTEMPORARY SERIES ROMANCE
The Tycoon's Secret Daughter by Susan Meier
A Marriage Worth Fighting For by Lilian Darcy
We'll Always Have Paris by Jessica Hart
Becoming Dante by Day Leclaire
Cowboy in the Crossfire by Robin Perini
A Night of No Return by Sarah Morgan
The Last Single Maverick by Christine Rimmer
Surgeon Sheik's Rescue by Loreth Anne White


YOUNG ADULT ROMANCE
The Farm by Emily McKay
Bound by Erica O'Rourke
Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

BEST FIRST BOOK
Crazy Little Thing by Tracy Brogan
The Anatomist's Wife by Anna Lee Huber
The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James
Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry
Ghost Planet by Sharon Lynn Fisher
Forged in Fire by Trish McCallan
Firelight by Kristen Callahan
My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

GOLDEN HEART® FINALISTS

CONTEMPORARY SERIES ROMANCE
"Baby on Board - Help!" by Miranda Liasson
"The Billionaire's Hypnotized Mistress" by Greta MacEachern
"Confessions of the World's Oldest Shotgun Bride" by Gail Hart
"Jayhawk Down" by Sharon Calvin
"Southern Comforts" by Nan Dixon
"Her Soldier Returns" by Kristin Noel Fischer

CONTEMPORARY SINGLE TITLE ROMANCE
"What's Yours is Mine" by Tamar Bihari writing as Talia Quinn Daniel
"Between Love and Lies" by Jacqui Nelson
"The Bollywood Bad Boy" by Sonali Thatte
"Climb to Freedom" by Sheila Athens
"Everybody Knows..." by Jacqueline Floyd
"Clean Sweep" by Nan Dixon
"Hijacked" by Leslie Lynch
"Objection Overruled" by Jane O'Hanlon


HISTORICAL ROMANCE
"Drawn to the Earl" by Joanna Schupe
"The Last Light of Dusk" by Joanne Lockyer
"Come to Me" by Oberon Wonch
"A Champion's Heart" by Piper Huguley
"The Rake's Handbook" by Sally Orr

INSPIRATIONAL ROMANCE

PARANORMAL ROMANCE
"Mind Sweeper" by Amy Jones
"Dark Secret" by Mariah Ankenman
"Demon's Bane" by India Powers
"Sea Panther" by Dawn Wolzein
"Shadows in the Deep" by Lark Howard
"Unbroken" by Lea Ann Schafer
"Jinn & Tonic" by Kay Hudson
"Guardian" by Tara Sheets


ROMANTIC SUSPENSE
"Crazy for Her" by Sandra Owens
"The Shadow Hour" by Jacqui Nelson
"The Predator" by Chris Taylor
"Spies, Lies and Debutantes" by Miranda Liasson
"Rogue's Redemption" by Sharon Wray
"Broken Places" by Krista Hall Reynolds
"Juliet's Rogue" by Sharon Wray


YOUNG ADULT ROMANCE
"Miranda Perry's Imported Prom Date" by Sheri Adkins
"Sticks and Stones" by Kimberly MacCarron
"Summer of Supernova" by Darcy Woods
"Camp Awakening" by Bonnie Staring
"Leath'Dhia/Birthright" by Kari Miller
"Ten" by Holly Bodger
"Hidden Deep" by Amy DeLuca

Congratulations in advance to all the authors whose books and manuscripts make the RITA® and Golden Heart® finals, respectively.  Winners will be announced at the RWA National Conference in Atlanta this July.  



Monday, March 25, 2013

Today's Special - - Anna Randol


I'm so excited to welcome Anna Randol to The Romance Dish today.  I fell in love with Anna's writing, and especially her "out of the norm" characters when I read her wonderful Sins of a Virgin (first book in her Sinners Trio) last fall.  I've been waiting since then for the release of the second book in the trio, Sins of a Ruthless Rogue and, let me tell you, it was well worth the wait.  I snuggled up on the couch with Clayton and Olivia and read their story in one delicious gulp.   Anna was kind enough to recently answer some questions for me about herself and her Sinners Trio.  Please give her a warm welcome!  ~PJ



Welcome, Anna!  Congratulations on the release of the second book in your Sinners Trio. Please tell our readers about this series and what they can expect from Sins of a Ruthless Rogue.


My first novel, A Secret in Her Kiss, involved a beautiful British spy in the heart of Ottoman Empire. While I was writing that story, I began to wonder who my fictional British government would’ve sent on all the truly dangerous, heinous missions. The idea for the Sinners Trio was born. It follows a trio of former criminals (some guilty, some not) who are promised a pardon in exchange for honing their particular skills on behalf of the Crown. Once the war is over, they’re let go with little more than a pat on the back. Now, they have to decide which side of the law they really want to be on…

The idea for the characters of the Trio came to me much as they appear in the series, as a unified group, certain of who they are and what they want. Often, ideas for stories will come to me in the form of bits of scenes, but in this case, these three spies waltzed in as a group and demanded they all have happily-ever-afters.

Sins of a Ruthless Rogue is the second book in the series (although they all stand-alone). It follows the darker, more enigmatic spy, Clayton Campbell, also known as Chipher.

Here's a quick description: When Olivia Swift betrayed Clayton Campbell a decade ago, she never thought she’d see him again. Now working together to translate a cypher and uncover the mysterious exploits of a long-forgotten Russian spy ring, Clayton finds himself in grave danger. While his attraction to Olivia is undeniable, can he truly trust her with his life?


I really enjoyed Clayton and Olivia.  What one thing do you want readers to understand about these two? 

Clayton and Olivia don’t have an easy relationship in the beginning of this book, but that’s because they have real issues to overcome. They are both very damaged, and yet very in need of love. As a reader, it would always drive me crazy to see a plot where the problem could be solved with a simple conversation, so these two really have to work hard and dig deep to make the changes needed to recapture the love they had as children.  But once they do, it is a wonderful and unshakable thing!

I enjoy romances set in unusual locations.  What inspired you to set this story in Russia?

When I was in college, I had to chance to travel in Russia (In summer, unlike my poor hero and heroine). I fell in love with it. First, I was in Moscow, which is an incredible, beautiful city steeped in history and blood. Perhaps it is the remaining Soviet architecture, but there is definitely a somber tone to the city. Then I traveled to St. Petersburg which is much more European in feel. With its canals and arches, it sparkles in a way Moscow never could. And yet it is a city that endured just as much as Moscow. The differences and dichotomies between them continue to fascinate me. The country can be hard and forgiving and yet beautiful at the same time (which made it the perfect setting for this book).

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

There is a moment when Clayton and Olivia have just survived and attack, and they end up in a Russian sauna. At the end of the scene, there is a moment when Olivia rests her head on Clayton’s shoulder in a moment of shared comfort and exhaustion. For me this was the moment when I feel them fully become one as a couple. They still have plenty of issues left to resolve, but for the first time both of them truly wish to find a way to make things work.

This book has a rich cast of secondary characters.   One of my favorites is Princess Kate.  Any chance we’ll get a book for her and her missing husband?  Their story is one I really want to read!

I hope so. Kate definitely has a trip to Wales in her future and a husband who has some explaining to do… She might have a novella in the works, but we will cross our fingers and see!

Fingers crossed!

You write some wonderful heroines.  If you could step into the life of any romance heroine, who would you choose and why? 

I think I would pick Jessica Trent from Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase. She is strong, feisty and beautiful. (And I would love the chance to help poor, tortured Dain do a little healing…)

Jessica Trent is a favorite around here and I'm sure many of our readers would be happy to join you in helping Dain heal. ::grin::

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?

Strangely, I have never been one to re-read novels often. (Except Lord of Scoundrels which I already mentioned and The Admiral’s Bride by Suzanne Brockman.) For me, the most comforting thing is to dive into a new book.

Recently, I have been loving the books from some of my fellow authors over at The Dashing Duchesses blog (seriously, these ladies are a hoot on and off the page). I especially love Jennifer McQuinston’s What Happens in Scotland and The Dark Lady by Marie Claremont.

I adored What Happens in Scotland and Andrea has had great things to say about The Dark Lady.

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

I love to get pedicures. It is my one guilty, girly habit. And I have to have flowers or little jewels on them, too, so everyone knows I got my toes done… J

Right there with you, although I haven't gone the flowers and jewels route yet.  

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

I will be at the Literary Orange Conference in Irvine on April 6th as well as the RWA National Convention in Atlanta, Georgia in July.

Andrea and I will both be at RWA National in Atlanta.  We'll look forward to seeing you there! 

What’s next?

The final book in the series, Sins of a Wicked Princess, will be released in November. I am so excited about this one. Our favorite thief turned spy, Ian Maddox, more than meets his match when he climbs into the bedroom window of a deposed princess with plans of her own. Ian and Juliana were just so much fun to write, and my readers finally get to find out a bit more about the butler, Canterbury and his role in Ian’s past.

I am so looking forward to this one!  Thank you for answering my questions, Anna.  Do you have a question for our readers today?

What is your one guilty indulgence?

Readers, Avon has provided us with a copy of Sins of a Ruthless Rogue to give away to a randomly selected person who leaves a comment.  

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Liz Carlyle's Fabulous Debut

by Anna Campbell

Liz Carlyle is one of my favorite historical romance writers. I was very late coming to her, but I've devoured nearly all her books since discovering her a couple of years ago with the marvelous THE DEVIL TO PAY.

With one exception. For quite a while, I've had Liz's debut romance MY FALSE HEART sitting on my bookcase. And for some reason whenever I reached for the next book to read, this one wasn't picked up. I wonder if it's the black cover!

Anyway, last Christmas, I had a little historical binge, including the first two of Liz's St. James Society series, ONE TOUCH OF SCANDAL and THE BRIDE WORE SCARLET. And of course, having read two great books by one great author, I looked around for another one and remembered (d'uh!) that I had MY FALSE HEART on the office bookcase.

Wow, what a fantastic story. MY FALSE HEART was published in November, 1999. It's long, closer in feeling to a Laura Kinsale like FLOWERS FROM THE STORM than to the quicker reads in style these days. Small print. No white space at the end of chapters. Over 450 pages. Definitely a feast of hearty roast beef and gravy rather than a quickly gobbled souffle.

Most of Liz's books are linked through the complicated extended family and social connections of the Marquis of Rannoch who makes an appearance in many of the later instalments, usually as an all-powerful eminence grise. While you get a bit of backstory in later books, it was nice to be in on the ground floor, so to speak, and see the marquis fall in love in the story that launched a thousand sequels (well, lots anyway!).

After a wanton coquette breaks Elliot Armstrong's heart when he's a naive young Scottish lord, fresh on the London marriage market, he sets out in a fury to make himself the worst of the worst. And he succeeds to a point where the world considers him ready to commit any and all sins.

Ten years later, he's on his way to break with his latest mistress when he becomes lost in the Essex fog and stumbles upon a house that seems to promise all the warmth and love and redemption that he has come to believe forever denied to him. And inside this house is a woman who lures him as no other ever has. Under false pretenses, he inveigles his way into talented artist Evangeline Stone's life and finds a place in her family and in her heart.

But what happens when she finds out that kind Mr. Roberts is really the notoriously dissolute Marquis of Rannoch? Not to mention that Evangeline has secrets of her own that place her and her loved ones in jeopardy. An entanglement with the most infamous man in England means danger and scandal for this innocent, yet strong woman. She's no pushover; she's smart and independent and she's used to managing her life. Rannoch needs to work hard to get his happy ending, especially once the cat is out of the bag about his identity. 

The plot gallops along with twists and turns worthy of Dickens. There are murders and disappearances and duels. Not to mention a marriage of convenience, one of my favorite plot devices. And all the time, our libertine of a marquis is dragged kicking and screaming toward becoming a genuine hero. Loving Evangeline gives him his one chance at redemption, but he doesn't turn into an honorable man willingly.

One of the lovely things about a big feast of a book like this is that you have plenty of room for vivid secondary characters, many of whom go on to play major roles in later Liz Carlyle stories. One of my favorite ongoing characters is Rannoch's acerbic and very worldly wise valet Kemble. And we get glimpses of a whole batch of future heroes and heroines including Zoe, Rannoch's illegitimate daughter who has a wonderful romance later in WICKED ALL DAY (reviewed here: http://www.theromancedish.com/2010/03/wickedly-wonderful.html).

Another lovely thing about this book is that the descriptions of setting are so vivid, you really feel like you're wandering the foggy Essex marshes or the dark and dangerous streets of London. Again, the use of atmosphere to build the story is worthy of Dickens.

And of course there's Liz's wonderful trademark crescendo of sexual tension between the hero and heroine. She writes the complex dance of falling in love beautifully and you'll be entranced watching the wary, heartless marquis fall helplessly under the spell of a good woman. The love scenes are incendiary, hot and emotional and full of subtle character revelations.

OK, enough raving. You've probably gathered that I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I was really glad I had a free day when I could just wallow in its wonders. This is a big satisfying banquet for the historical romance lover.

So are you a Liz Carlyle fan? Do you have a favorite? Do you have any authors whose debut books really made you sit up and pay attention?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Tawny Weber Winner



Not only did she give us the best example of romantic klutziness but random.org chose her as our winner.  
Congratulations to

MAGGIE J

You've won an autographed copy of A SEAL's Surrender!  
Please send your full name and
mailing address to
theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com


Second Chance Winner - Tina Leonard



Tina's giveaway was not claimed so we have chosen another name.  The new winner is:

deerdoe69

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


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Guest Review - - Currant Creek Valley

Currant Creek Valley
By RaeAnne Thayne
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Release Date: March 26, 2013




Spring has arrived in Hope’s Crossing, Colorado, and Alexandra “Alex” McKnight should be happy. The town’s historic old firehouse has been transformed by renowned architect Jackson Lange, Alex’s brother-in-law, into the newest jewel in Brodie Thorne’s chain of restaurants, and, after years as sous chef in someone else’s kitchen, Alex’s dream of being executive chef is about to come true. She refuses to admit even to herself that this dream job might not be enough to fill the emptiness in her life, an emptiness that persists even though she enjoys close ties with her family and a host of friends. Denver contractor Sam Delgado, hired by Brodie to complete Brazen’s kitchen in time for the restaurant’s late May opening, might be just what she needs. He meets all her criteria for a relationship: he’s gorgeous, he’s sexy, and he’s in Hope’s Crossing for only a few weeks.

Sam’s business in Denver has tanked after his former father-in-law was sentenced to prison for illegal business practices, thanks to evidence provided by Sam’s whistle-blowing. Ex-Army Ranger Sam is looking for a new start, and Hope’s Crossing promises just the kind of safe haven he wants for himself and his young son. Alex McKnight might raise his temperature, but he does not need the complication she will bring. He needs to concentrate on building his business in his new town and on finding a home where he and almost-seven-year-old Ethan can sink roots and fully heal from the loss of his wife to cancer.

The chemistry that sizzles between Alex and Sam tests their resolutions to keep things light, and the fact that they genuinely like one another makes resistance tougher. When her feelings for Sam threaten her closely guarded heart, the fear and guilt Alex has hidden for years are powerful enough to send her running from Hope’s Crossing and the happiness she longs for but cannot believe she deserves.

Currant Creek Valley is the fourth book in Thayne’s Hope’s Crossing series, and it is as emotionally satisfying as the earlier books. Alex is introduced as the BFF of Claire Bradford and the youngest of Riley McKnight’s five sisters in Blackberry Summer, the first book in the series. Her light-hearted approach to life has hidden some painful secrets even from the closely knit McKnight clan. Readers familiar with the series will likely already have developed an affection for Alex, and the newly vulnerable Alex in this book is even more sympathetic. Sam is the best kind of hero—sexy, strong, and honorable with a great sense of humor and a heart totally committed to his son. Add a super smart, needy kid and a lovable stray Lab named for Alex’s favorite chocolate, and you have an irresistible story. Appearances by characters from other books and the culmination of a senior romance between Alex’s mother and the town’s “angel of hope” are the proverbial icing on a delectable cake.

I’m a long-time Thayne reader, and I think the Hope’s Crossing series is her best work. If you like small-town romances, I predict you’ll fall in love with Hope’s Crossing and its citizens. I’ve happily made my reservations for a return ticket in July for Willowleaf Lane and in October for Snowflake Canyon.

~Janga
http://justjanga.blogspot.com

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Today's Special - - Tawny Weber


It's always fun to welcome Tawny Weber to the blog!  Tawny is here today to talk about her newest book from Harlequin Blaze, A SEAL's Surrender.  I have to say, I am really loving these SEAL books.  The first one, A SEAL's Seduction was terrific and this new book looks to be even better.  (I'm currently reading it and, let me tell you, this one sizzles!)  

Tawny has been writing sassy, sexy romances since her first Harlequin Blaze hit the shelves in 2007.  A fan of Johnny Depp, cupcakes and color coordination, she spends a lot of her time shopping for cute shoes, scrapbooking and hanging out on Facebook. 

Readers can check out Tawny’s books at her website or join her Red Hot Readers Club for goodies like free reads, first chapter excerpts, recipes, insider story info and much more.  And for a limited time, she has a few open spots on her Street Team

Welcome, Tawny!





Ooops, She Did It Again


            I am a klutz.  Certifiably clumsy, with the casts and scars to prove it.  I’ve fallen down flights of stairs (numerous times).  I’ve flipped over the handlebars of a bike into a brick wall-face first.  I’ve broken my foot walking out my front door.  I’m regularly sporting a bruise or two thanks to desks and tables and walls, all that jump out at the most inopportune moment.   
            So it was VERY easy for me to create a heroine who is a klutz.   Eden Gillespie, in A SEAL’s Surrender, has a reputation for clumsiness.  But while she’s somewhat resigned to her reputation, she’s also just a little thrilled with the fact that she’s most often rescued from her latest mishap by her very own hero, Cade Sullivan.  SEAL, sexy town golden guy and all-round sweetheart, she’s wanted Cade for her own for, well, almost ever. 

Here’s a peek at the first rescue Cade performs in A SEAL’s Surrender, resulting in Eden finally getting up the nerve to ask him out for a thank you drink...

    Eden waited until her friend and the cat were safely inside the car, treats and water dispensed, before she lowered herself to the next branch.
There.  She smiled her relief.  Almost down.
It was the smile that did it, she figured.
Because she went from an easy descent to suddenly trapped in the space of a heartbeat.  Like an anchor, something held tight, so she couldn’t move.
Breathless, Eden twisted to see what was wrong. 
And hissed when she saw that the strap of her high heel was caught on a branch.  Eden tugged.  The shoe stuck.  She tried to slip it off, but the branch was too rough, scratching painfully against the soft flesh of her instep. 
A minute later she added cussing to the mix.  
“Haven’t we been here before?” a husky voice asked.
Oh hell.  Eden froze.  She hadn’t even heard a car.  Please, oh please, let him be talking to someone else. 
“That is Eden up there, right?” the voice asked. 
Double hell. 
She shook her head, hoping the move would shift the curtain of hair from blocking her view.
Her heart, already pounding like a freight train, sped up.  What little was left of her breath escaped her lungs in a rush. 
She twisted her torso, angling herself sideways to make sure the face matched the voice. 
Gorgeous green eyes, a tanned complexion over sculpted cheekbones and a strong jawline.  Wide, full lips stretched in a smile that bordered on laughter.  And the sexiest man-dimple she’d ever seen. 
Her eyes widened and she gave a long, lusty sigh.
Didn’t it just figure?  At least she’d tucked her skirt in so she wasn’t flashing him.  Sure, she might have a few dozen fantasies about sharing her undies with this particular man.  But this position wasn’t featured in a single one. 
So she did what she always did when caught in an uncomfortable situation. 
She smiled and made the best of it. 
“Hi Cade.” 
***
“Do you do these things just to keep me in practice?” Cade asked, grinning at his favorite perpetual-victim, her silky brown hair a dark curtain over a face he knew would be sliding into a sheepish smile.
Eden Gillespie always looked sheepish when she had to be rescued.  Something, if he’d ever considered it, he’d have figured she’d outgrow.  He eyed her legs, smooth and bare all the way to the top of her hot pink panties thanks to the way her dress was hanging.  Her arms were wrapped around the tree limb and one foot dangled while the other was caught in a snarl of branches and leaves.  Clearly he’d have figured wrong. 
“Consider it my welcome home,” she muttered, blowing a puff of air so her hair cleared enough that he could see the resigned amusement in her big brown eyes.
That was one of the things that he’d always admired about Eden.  She could laugh at herself.  So many of the girls he’d grown up with, and the women he’d dated for that matter, took themselves and life way too seriously.  They were so worried about controlling the impression they made, they didn’t let themselves just live.
Without thinking, his eyes shifted back to Eden’s legs.  Long and sleek, they wrapped around that big, hard branch.  He frowned at the scrapes and faint reddening of her tender flesh, for the first time ever, tempted to kiss away a boo-boo.  All the way up to her panties.  Practical cotton, he noted, his mouth going dry, but in a fun sassy color.  Since she was face down on the branch, the curve of her butt was perfectly highlighted in that pink fabric.  His fingers itched to touch, to see if her curves were as firm as they looked.
Whoa.  Not cool, he lectured himself.  Lusting after the sweet girl next door was walking an awfully close line to planning to settle down.  Nothing wrong with it in the big picture, but in his personal rulebook?  Totally out of the question.

So here’s my question to you... Are you accident prone or naturally graceful?

One randomly chosen person leaving a comment will receive an autographed copy of A SEAL's Surrender!  



 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Review - - With This Kiss - Part One

With This Kiss
A Serial Romance - Part One
By Eloisa James
Publisher:  Avon Impulse
Release Date:  March 12, 2013




Lady Grace Ryburn has known Colin Barry her entire life.  Their parents are good friends; their fathers, cousins and former pirate partners. Grace, a quiet, intelligent and kind girl, has always held Colin in esteem but as an older brother or good family friend.  Until the summer twenty-year-old Colin returns from two years at sea:

The year Grace turned fourteen, Colin walked through the door in a uniform, and her heart gave one big thump and never beat exactly the same way again.

Colin Barry has always known he would need to earn his way in the world.  Adopted by Griffin and Phoebe Barry, Colin is not his father's heir but has always dreamed of following in Griffin's footsteps with a career at sea.  Four years in the Navy have taught Colin that while he loves the ocean, he has neither the heart nor the stomach for the fighting.  Grace determines to ease his time at sea by writing him letters filled with stories from home, many featuring Lily, Grace's two-years younger sister.  Where Grace prefers to be on the sidelines, Lily is the type of girl who loves being the center of attention, with a sparkling personality that draws people to her like bees to honey.  Her antics provide excellent stories to ease a young man's weary heart, especially when told by Grace, a young woman with a gift for writing and a special talent for drawing the sketches she includes with her letters.

By the time Colin returns home in 1836, Grace, at nineteen, knows exactly how she feels and what she wants.  She's fallen deeply in love with Colin and has convinced herself that he feels the same. While Lily has taken the ton by storm, Grace, quiet and uncomfortable with the whole process, chooses to observe on the fringes, out of the spotlight.  She waits for Colin and is certain that this trip home will change everything.  It does, but not in the way she thinks.

He had been changed by the war, by the deaths he'd seen and the deaths he'd caused.  There was no going back, not when rivers of blood ran through a man's dreams.

Colin's soul is filled with darkness and Grace alone knows the anguish he endures.  When he arrives at the ball the Ryburns are attending, Grace waits in her most attractive dress but when he enters, it's the brightness, the gaiety, the sparkle of Lily that lights the darkness inside him and draws him to her like a moth to a flame.  This time, when Colin returns to sea, he unknowingly, in the way of clueless males everywhere,  leaves behind a heartbroken Grace.  He eventually realizes his stupidity as well as his true feelings for Grace but by that time, Colin is far at sea.  Grace has waited for him all these years and he hopes - prays - that she will continue to do so and that he will continue to remain injury-free to return home to her.  But Grace, whose love for Colin is deep and pure enough to want his happiness above her own, makes a heart-wrenching decision, stepping aside, giving her blessing for what she believes he most wants, and finally moving on.  She meets a Scottish lord who courts her, appreciates her for all her wonderful qualities and who never, ever gives her sister, Lily a second glance...to be continued.

From the very beginning, Eloisa James captivated me with this story.  The characters, Grace in particular, are so richly drawn that I felt as though I was right there at the Barry's summer home and, later, in London, living it with them.  The relationships are complex, with twists and turns that keep the reader engaged and the cliffhanger will have you counting the hours until Part Two is released next week.  I say this almost every time I read an Eloisa James book but it bears repeating.  Ms. James has a command of the English language that flows across the page like the notes of a beautiful song.  I don't so much read her words as feel them, such as in the following excerpt where Colin awakens to the difference between Lily and Grace:

It wasn't Lily's fault that she wasn't as intelligent as her sister.  Nor as witty and kind.  That wasn't fair:  Lily was kind.  But she was shallow compared to Grace.

She was a waltz, and Grace was a hymn.

Will Colin make it home in time to convince Grace she belongs with him?  Will Grace be happier with her Scottish lord?  What will happen with Lily?  We'll find out in Part Two!

With This Kiss is a serial romance, published in three weekly increments beginning March 12 and continuing with Part Two on March 19 and Part Three on March 26.  Each part can be purchased in digital format or readers may wait and purchase a print version of the entire story (all three parts) on March 26.

What do you think of the serial format?  Will you be giving it a try or waiting for the complete story in a print version?  Have you read Part One of With This Kiss?  What do you think will happen next?  I'm giving away three copies of With This Kiss, Part One to random commenters.  (If you already have Part One, I'll substitute Part Two when it releases on March 19.)

~PJ

Review copy received from Avon via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Elizabeth Hoyt winner!

 
 
The random winner of the complete set (first five books) of the Maiden Lane series by Elizabeth Hoyt is:
 
librarypat
 
Congratulations, librarypat! Please send your full name and address to theromancedish (at)gmail (dot) com with "Hoyt winner" as the subject and I will forward your info. Thanks to everyone who stopped by to comment!