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

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Kat Martin Winner




The winner of a signed copy of Against the Edge by Kat Martin is:

erin

Congratulations, Erin!  Please send your full name and mailing address to us at

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com


Making a Difference Winners





The winner of a More Than Words collection from PJ's Making a Difference blog is

catslady

Congratulations!  Please send your full name and mailing address to us at 

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

and let us know which More Than Words collection you would like.  


Toni Blake Winners



Thanks to everyone who stopped by to check out Toni's Fun Facts about Half Moon Hill.  The winners of a copy of Half Moon Hill are:

LeighAnnR

and

Karen Triolo

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


Coming Attractions



It’s hard to believe that another month has passed! May is here! We’re gearing up for the end of the school year and summer vacation at my house. But at The Romance Dish, we are gearing up for all things romance! Please help us celebrate May by stopping by often. We have a lot of wonderful guest authors lined up along with some terrific reviews, regular monthly blogs, and prizes galore!

 

 

 

 
 
 
PJ interviews award-winning, best-selling author Jo Davis on Thursday, May 2nd. Jo’s upcoming book, Sworn to Protect, is the first in her exciting new Sugarland Blue series!

 

 

 
 
 
Grab a pen and paper to jot down your favorite May books from Andrea’s New Releases list on Friday, May 3rd!

 

 

 
 
 
Monday, May 6th, brings steampunk and paranormal author Karina Cooper to the blog! Her latest, One for the Wicked, is the thrilling finale to her Dark Mission series and releases TODAY!






Join us on Wednesday, May 8th, as fan favorite historical author Cathy Maxwell drops by to visit! We always have a ton of fun when Cathy dishes with us. Her latest, The Devil's Heart, the third and final book in her Chattan Curse series, releases TODAY!

 

 
 


Make Your Reservations on Thursday, May 9th, as we let you know which books we are most looking forward to in June.

 

 

 
 
 
The lovely and talented Trish Milburn is back this month and will catch us up on all the wonderful things happening in YA in her Teen Menu on Friday, May 10th.

 

 

 
 
 
On Monday, May 13th, we have a special treat for you! New York Times best-selling author Jill Shalvis is this year’s spokesperson for Penguin Group (USA)’s 2013 Read Humane® campaign to help fight animal cruelty. Since PJ and I both have rescue dogs, we are thrilled to participate in the blog tour. Please make plans to stop by!

 

 

 
 
 
Please join us on Thursday, May 16th, when we welcome back historical author Regan Walker! Against the Wind, the second book in Regan’s Agents of the Crown series, released in March.

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Wednesday, May 22nd, will be a very special day as we welcome debut author, 2012 Golden Heart finalist, and our good friend Terri Osburn to the blog! Terri’s debut book, Meant to Be, is the first book in her Anchor Island series. If you like small-town contemporary romance, you are sure to love Terri’s debut!

 

 




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 on Friday, May 24th!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Today's Special - - Kat Martin


Today, we're pleased to have Kat Martin back to visit with us.  Kat's newest romantic suspense adventure, AGAINST THE EDGE releases tomorrow, April 30th.  I know fans are anxious to get their hands on this latest installment in her Raines of Wind Canyon series.  Please welcome Kat as she turns her focus today on those strong heroines we love to meet in the pages of her books!







WRITING STRONG HEROINES

I love strong women.  I like meeting them.  I like knowing them.  I like writing about them.  What I particularly like are strong women who maintain their femininity. 

These are the women I like to write about.  In AGAINST THE EDGE, Claire Chastain is a social worker.  She moved to California to escape her over-protective parents, and though she loves them very much, she wants to find her own way. 

It isn’t until Claire meets wildly attractive ladies’  man, former Navy SEAL, Ben Slocum, that her independent nature is tested, along with her courage and strength. 

Ben is a detective at Atlas Security in Houston, where he works with Trace Rawlins, Jake
Cantrell, and Alex Justice. 

I had already written Trace, Jake, and Alex’s stories:  AGAINST THE STORM, AGAINST THE SUN, and AGAINST THE ODDS.  It was Ben’s turn to find the right woman.  Since he’s one of the strongest characters I’ve written, I had to come up with a woman who could handle him.  One tough enough to stand up to him, but who is loving enough to break through the barriers Ben has erected around his heart.

Claire was a fun heroine to write because even she didn’t realize how strong she was until she was tested, first by Ben, then by the adventure they shared as they tracked down the son Ben didn’t know he had.

I’m not sure what the trick is to writing a soft, yet strong woman.  Perhaps just looking inside ourselves.  Life is full of challenges, tough problems women face every day with courage and determination.  As a writer, we learn to use the feelings that carried us through those challenges. 

And of course, Claire had the help of a very strong male--the perfect man for her.  If only Ben is smart enough to figure that out!

Claire was one of my favorite heroines.  I’d love to hear who some of your favorites are?

I hope you’ll watch for Ben and Claire in AGAINST THE EDGE, and at the end of August you’ll look for Ty Brodie and Haley Warren in AGAINST THE MARK.  Till then, all best wishes and happy reading. 
~Kat

Oh, and who are some of your favorite heroines?  

Kat is giving a signed copy of AGAINST THE EDGE to one randomly chosen person who leaves a comment!  



Title: Against the Edge
Author: Kat Martin
Publisher: MIRA
ISBN-10: 077831443X
ISBN-13: 978-0778314431
EAN: 9780778314431
Kindle: B00B0A5XME






A child he’s never met.
A danger he’s never known.

That he’s a father is news former navy SEAL Ben Slocum was not expecting. But once the initial shock wears off for the confirmed bachelor, he takes in the rest of what social worker Claire Chastain tells him: that his son Sam is in the custody of an abusive criminal, that they’ve disappeared . . . and that Ben is now the child’s only hope.

As Ben and Claire band together to track the two down, their concern for the boy draws them closer, each fighting feelings there’s no time to explore. Ben’s got one chance to take back what’s his, and in one gunshot he could lose it all . . .



Saturday, April 27, 2013

Last Call for Julianne MacLean winner!



LAST CALL!! The random winner of a signed advance copy of The Prince's Bride by Julianne MacLean is:
 
dotland101 (comment on 4/18/13 @ 5:44 PM)
 
Congrats, dotland101! Please send your full name and address to theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com with "MacLean winner" as the subject and I'll forward your info to Julianne. You have until Sunday, April 28 at 11:59 PM (EST). If we don't hear from you, we'll choose another winner. Thanks!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Making a Difference



Back in 2010, I wrote about an anthology from Harlequin called More Than Words, Volume 6.  (read the post here) This book, sixth in a series of collections that tell the stories of real-life women making a difference in their communities, is part of Harlequin's philanthropic More Than Words program.  All proceeds from the sale of these books are reinvested into the program which, according to their website, aims to enhance the well-being of women through the following goals:

*  Raise awareness about worthy causes that are of concern to women
*  Provide financial assistance to these important charities
*  Engage employees, authors and readers and the general public in worthy causes and provide opportunities for them to make a difference.








Nominations for the 2014 awards are now open and Harlequin is inviting you, the readers, to tell them about the real-life heroines who inspire you...or tell them about yourself!  Nominations will be open until August 9th and can be submitted by completing this easy online form.  All you need to do is write a few sentences about the person you're nominating, the charity with which she's involved,  what inspires her and how she's inspiring others.  It's a wonderful opportunity for us to honor those women who give tirelessly to others, making a positive impact on the lives of the people in their communities.

After the nomination deadline, Harlequin will select five finalists and, in November, the public will vote for the three winners for 2014.  Those three women will each receive a $15,000 donation from Harlequin to the charity of their choice.  They will also each be paired with a bestselling Harlequin author who will use their story as inspiration for a novella that will be released to the public as a free e-book.  



Check out these free e-books that were inspired by the dedicated women who won the awards in 2012:







- Good Neighbors by Sheila Roberts (inspired by Sally Spencer, who manages a mentoring program that rescues at-risk children)

(Download here)















- Just Joe by Carla Cassidy (inspired by Helen McGovern, who oversees Emergency Food Network, a food bank that serves all county residents, including those with health restrictions)

(Download here)

















- Light This Candle by Cindy Dees (inspired by Mindy Atwood, who runs Patches of Light, a nonprofit organization where anonymous angels pay the rent for parents of desperately ill children)

(Download here)








You can download these (and other free) More Than Words novellas, as well as purchase the More Than Words collections, at http://www.harlequinmorethanwords.com/novellas/.



Tell us about the women you know who are making a difference in their communities.  Or, tell us how you make a difference; how you give back to others.  One person, randomly chosen, will receive a copy of the More Than Words Collection (choose among volumes 4-7) of their choice.

~PJ

PJ's Box of Books Winners



Thanks for all the great moving advice!  I'm starting to settle in and finally see the bottom of my sea of boxes.  Congratulations to the following winners of my box of books giveaway!

librarypat

LSUReader

Trish J

Mickey3214

Please send your full name and mailing address to me at
theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Guest Review - - A Spear of Summer Grass


A Spear of Summer Grass
By Deanna Raybourn
Publisher: Harlequin Mira
Release Date: April 30, 2013



(at times edging toward 4 stars)

Delilah Drummond is her mother’s daughter—an often-married socialite who excels at spending money and flirting with scandal. But when Delilah’s most recent husband commits suicide immediately after receiving divorce papers and Delilah, who has maintained her own name, refuses to surrender the royal jewels that she has inherited from the man who made her his widow before she could make him her ex and refuses to adopt an appropriately remorseful attitude, the resulting scandal reaches international proportions. There are rumors of an investigation being opened, and her maternal grandfather in Louisiana is making noises about cutting off all financial support. Delilah’s mother, her favorite former step-father, and her lawyer and former husband #2 are in agreement that Delilah must leave Paris.

Delilah refuses to consider America where Prohibition is the law of the land, but she has fond memories of the fascination her step-father’s African diary held for her when she read it as a teenager. Thus, when he offers her Fairlight, the home he built on the banks of Lake Wanyama, Delilah agrees to accept exile from Europe. Two weeks later, accompanied by a distant Drummond cousin and poor relation, Dora, or Dodo, Delilah sets sail on a British ship for Mombasa. The dutiful, dull Dodo, whose two interests are God and gardens, will serve as a combination chaperone and personal maid.

From the moment of her arrival in Kenya, Delilah begins to learn just how different Kenya is from the world she has left, and yet, strangely, some things remain the same. The violence and beauty of the country leave her weak-kneed. She is still in the Nairobi train station when she sees a man beaten so severely that his blood splashes on her shoes, and before she arrives at Fairlight, she has her forehead marked with the blood of a buffalo she helped to kill, signifying “first African blood.” But her reputation has preceded her, and the lieutenant governor, concerned that she might become involved in escapades that would reflect badly on Kenya, insists that she cannot linger in Nairobi. She soon finds old friends in the area and joins them in a lifestyle that, despite the setting, is as hedonistic as the one she left in Paris.

Delilah also finds that the nursing skills she acquired for service in World War I are useful in this new environment, and she shocks and angers some by her humane treatment of the Blacks in her employ. Through all of these experiences, there is safari guide J. Ryder White, an arrogant, complex alpha with a core of tenderness, who infuriates her, challenges her, and fascinates her. A part of and yet distinct from the British expatriate community, Ryder proves to be a “stayer,” the kind of man Delilah never expected to encounter again. But Delilah must change before her heart is willing to accept that truth.

Raybourn leaves her popular Lady Julia Gray series to give readers this standalone novel that combines historical fiction with murder mystery and a substantial thread of romance. Set amid the decadence of the wealthy in the1920s and three years after Kenya had been declared a British crown colony, the story includes both the sparkle and the darkness of the period. The racial conflicts between the European colonials, the Africans, and the Indians are growing and shaping the politics of the era, and the lavish lifestyle of the European community is a stark contrast to the injustice and exploitation of colonialism. Raybourn uses all of this history in the story of a woman who embodies its contradictions and complexities.

I had a really difficult time deciding how to “grade” this book. Deanna Raybourn is an amazing writer, and her skills are evident from the opening line to the final one. Her vivid descriptions of Kenya frequently made me feel as if I were watching a movie on a theater screen rather than reading a book. That was the effect of this description:

A tiny herd of elephants looked infinitesimal from our lofty height, and when Ryder stilled the engine, I heard nothing but the long rush of wind up from the valley floor. It carried with it every promise of Africa, that wind. It smelled of green water and red earth and the animals that roamed it. And there was something more, something old as the rocks. It might have been the smell of the Almighty himself, and I knew there were no words for this place. It was sacred, as no place I had ever been before.

Her prose is always beautifully lucid and often lyrical as well. When Delilah arrives at Fairlight expecting to see the place she had imagined when she was a child and finds instead a house falling apart, she expresses her disillusionment:

Of all emotions, disappointment is the most difficult to hide. Rage, hatred, envy—those are easy to mask. But disappointment strikes to the heart of the child within us, resurrecting every unsatisfactory Christmas, every failed wish made on a shooting star.

The poignancy of some passages is powerfully moving, as in this passage when Delilah responds to Dodo's question about whether Delilah ever loved any of the men in her life after her first husband:

You close your eyes and suddenly he’s not there anymore. What you loved, or thought you loved, just isn’t there, and there is a man-shaped hole in your memory of where he used to be. The sad part is when it happens when he’s sitting at the same table or lying in the same bed. You can turn and look at him and not even remember his name because he was just a visitor. He was a man who was only passing through your heart, and you never really made a place for him, so he just keeps passing. My husbands since Johnny have been passing men. Not a stayer among them.

At the other end of the emotional spectrum are tiny details that left me with a delighted smile, details such as Delilah’s car, a lipstick-red Hispano-Suiza with leopard upholstery that seems perfect for her and also evoked images of the Hispano-Suiza in P. G. Wodehouse’s Blandings Castle short stories and novels and the book, Fordyce’s Sermons, which Delilah had to balance on her head when learning to walk like a lady. (Fordyce’s Sermons is the 1767 guidebook to female conduct from which Mr. Collins read to the Bennet sisters in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.)

In the con column is a heroine I could not like. Delilah is at times entertaining, she is more rarely sympathetic, and she is always interesting, but she is also, for much of the book, selfish, shallow, and amoral. She treats her cousin with condescension some times and with careless cruelty at other times. When she spends her last night in Paris with former husband #2, a married man with two young children, she thinks she may even be rendering a service to his wife since he’s jollier after sex with Delilah and the guilt over his infidelity leads him to purchase an expensive present for his wife. The list of her offenses that the lieutenant governor in Nairobi names include “stealing a car outside a Harlem nightclub and driving it into the Hudson” and being “caught in flagrante with a judge’s eighteen-year-old son in Dallas.”  Granted Delilah changes, but by that time, I disliked so many things about her that I could not feel any real connection with her. I’m not a reader who needs to identify with the heroine, but I do, especially with the intimacy between character and reader that comes with a first person point of view, need to like her.

If the vivid evocation of time and place, an atypical heroine and hero, and wonderful prose are sufficient to make you love a book, you may be one of the readers giving A Spear of Summer Grass high marks. If likeable characters are a prime criterion for you, you may, as I did, have mixed reactions to this novel.

~Janga
http://justjanga.blogspot.com

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Persuasion Is Perfection!

by Anna Campbell

Did you know that 2013 is a big year in Romancelandia?

The book that launched a million Regency romances, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, is 200 years old this year. There are events planned to mark this momentous occasion in every corner of the world . I wouldn't be surprised if there's even a Turn Your Yurt into Pemberley day in Outer Mongolia!

There are lots of things happening in Australia to mark this anniversary. I was lucky enough to be invited to take part in the Absolutely Austen! event at Gold Coast Libraries back in February.

I've read PRIDE AND PREJUDICE more times than I can count. I always find something new in it. In fact, my very first review here at the Romance Dish was of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: http://www.theromancedish.com/2009/11/mr-collins-to-rescue.html 

So I knew I could wing it if someone asked me about P&P (especially if the question involved swooning over Mr. Darcy. Always had a crush on Mr. Darcy!), but I haven't read the other Austen books in years. Partly because, don't shoot me, I'm not a huge fan of MANSFIELD PARK, EMMA or SENSE AND SENSIBILITY.

The book I decided to read again was NORTHANGER ABBEY because there's a really lovely BBC version of it that made me want to revisit this story (haven't read it since I was standing in line for theatre tickets in London in 1985). But I couldn't find it. One of the hazards of having so many books lying around the house.

Instead I read a book I've always loved, I've read several times, but I haven't read in ages, PERSUASION.

PERSUASION often seems to be treated a bit like the redheaded child in the Austen canon, which is a pity because it's wonderful. It's much quieter than PRIDE AND PREJUDICE and the heroine has none of Lizzie's flash and sparkle. Captain Frederick Wentworth is a wonderful hero, brave and handsome and passionate, but he's not actually on the page a lot as a character although he plays a large part in the other characters' thoughts.

One of the things we love about Darcy is that he's got a hill to climb before he gets his happy ending. Wentworth on the other hand is pretty much the ideal man from the get-go. Yeah, it takes him a while to get over his huff but honestly, who could blame him? And despite our heroine's obvious qualities, he sets his sights on the wrong girl before he quickly comes to his senses. Yup, pretty much a flat character arc with the ole captain dude.

At the heart of PERSUASION is Anne Elliot. Anne is a sensitive woman of refinement and intelligence and unselfish courage. She's also a bit of a Cinderella in her horrible family. Her father, Sir Walter Elliot, is shallow and vain and a world-class social climber. Her oldest sister is a colder version of the father. Her younger sister Mary is a comic masterpiece, the sort of girl who would complain in heaven and who always feels completely hard done by.

At the age of nineteen, Anne falls passionately in love with a junior naval officer of no fortune but infinite promise (Wentworth, of course!). Because of inexperience and lack of confidence, she allows her godmother to persuade her against accepting his offer of marriage (hence the title of the book). Wentworth leaves in high dudgeon to pursue what becomes a brilliant career. Anne is left to fade into gentle spinsterhood as the family dogsbody.

The story opens when eight years later, Captain Wentworth returns to the district, rich, famous, and in search of a wife befitting his new status in the world. Needless to say, he's still angry at Anne for being so spineless. Through a series of encounters, including the famous visit to the seaside resort of Lyme Regis, Anne and Wentworth gradually find their way back to one another.

Anne is never in doubt of the quality of the man she rejected all those years ago so we feel every ounce of her pain when it's apparent that he hasn't forgiven her. Wentworth is determined not to be hurt again, but slowly he discovers that he can't find a new love when his old love still haunts him. And PERSUASION has one of the most satisfying endings anywhere. I always cry when I read it and I cried again this time. Sigh.

Anne Elliot lies at the center of this subtle story of love found, lost, then found again. There's a depth to her character that is absolutely unforgettable. Her longing and regret will break your heart. One of the joys of PERSUASION is watching Anne blossom into the warm, fulfilled woman she was meant to be.

This was Jane Austen's last completed novel and it packs an enormous emotional punch. You can't help thinking of where her genius would have taken her after this. Charlotte Bronte was always very dismissive of Austen, calling her books 'commonplace' and bloodless. CB never read PERSUASION. I wonder if the heartfelt emotions in this book would have converted her into an Austenite!

Have you read PERSUASION? How do you think it stacks up against its flashier and more popular sister PRIDE AND PREJUDICE? Wentworth or Darcy? What's your favorite Jane Austen story?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

What You Didn't Know About Half Moon Hill



I love visiting Destiny, Ohio, the fictional location of Toni Blake's sexy and heartwarming small-town contemporary romance series.  The sixth book in the series, Half Moon Hill will be released April 30th and features two fascinating main characters:  Anna Romo, a woman kidnapped at the age of five who has recently discovered her real family and Duke Dawson, ex-biker and best friend of Anna's biological older brother, who is dealing with the emotional aftermath of a tragic accident. Here are a few interesting facts from the author about Half Moon Hill.
~PJ








TONI BLAKE'S FUN FACTS ABOUT 
HALF MOON HILL:



Tessa's brother, Jeremy, was originally supposed to be the hero.  I started planning that as early as Destiny Book 3,  Whisper Falls.  But as the time to write it grew closer, something about it didn't feel right.  I didn't know Jeremy very well, after all. But I did know Duke.  Readers had started writing to me and asking me to give Duke his own book.  You ask.  I listen.  Duke just seemed like a much better match for Anna in my mind - even if only because I knew instantly how much Anna's brother Mike would dislike this.  I loved fleshing out both Anna and Duke as characters as I wrote this story, and I couldn't be happier with the decision to make Duke her hero.  

I adore the cover of this book!  But the fun act is - on the original version, the title was hot pink.  Rather gorgeous, I must say! But sadly, I noticed in thumbnail version on my computer screen, it was really difficult to read.  

The swing on the cover came before the swing in the story.  I had the cover long before I'd actually written the book, but that gave me the opportunity to add a swing to the story, and I couldn't be more pleased with how that part worked out.  

I'm a big fan of butterflies.  In the summer, I spend quite a bit of time stalking and photographing them.  So when I first saw the butterflies on this cover, I was ecstatic.  Then they decided to add more butterflies.  On the original cover, there were only two or three and now I count upwards of a dozen.  I love having a cover with one of my favorite things on it!

I really, truly am very proud of this book.  I love the way both characters developed, I loved revisiting everyone in Destiny and moving their life stories forward as well, and I loved the depth of emotions I got to explore in this story.  

~Toni Blake


Are you a fan of Toni Blake's Destiny series?  Which Destiny couple is your favorite?  Are you looking forward to a story for Duke as much as I am?  Toni is delighted with the butterflies on the cover of Half Moon Hill.  If you were designing a cover, what favorite thing would you want featured on it?  

HarperCollins has graciously offered a copy of Half Moon Hill to two randomly chosen people leaving a comment.  (U.S. addresses only, please)    




You never know what destiny has in store . . .

A rugged loner and ex-biker-gang member, Duke Dawson is looking for some peace and quiet while recovering from an accident. But when Anna Romo comes wandering through his woods and into his cabin, she completely rocks his world. The last thing he expected or wanted was to find himself hungering after a woman whose eyes held hurt even deeper than his own . . .

Running from a troubled past, Anna is building a new life in Destiny. When she first meets Duke, she's terrified—but something about him calls to her very soul. The hard-bodied rebel is soon helping her turn her new home into a bed and breakfast, and close quarters quickly lead them into her bed. Their passion is palpable, but can she convince a man who has turned his back on life to take the biggest leap of faith of all and fall in love?

Monday, April 22, 2013

A Lot Like Love winner!

 
 
The random winner of a copy of A Lot Like Love by Julie James (from Andrea's review of Love Irresistibly) is:
 
Janice Hougland
 
Congrats, Janice! Please send your full name and (U.S.) address to theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com with "ALLL winner" as the subject and I'll get your book in the mail! Thanks to everyone who stopped by!

Julianne MacLean winner!



The random winner of a signed advance copy of The Prince's Bride by Julianne MacLean is:
 
dotland101 (comment on 4/18/13 @ 5:44 PM)
 
Congrats, dotland101! Please send your full name and address to theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com with "MacLean winner" as the subject and I'll forward your info to Julianne. Thank you to everyone who stopped by to comment!!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Review -- Love Irresistibly

Love Irresistibly
FBI/U.S. Attorney – Book 4
By Julie James
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: April 2, 2013
 
 









Ladies and gentleman, Julie James has done it again! Love Irresistibly is another winner and has joined Julie’s other books on my keeper shelves. As I’ve mentioned before in a previous review, I don’t believe Ms. James could write a bad book if she tried. Her storylines are always fresh and well-researched, her characters are bright and extremely likable, and the tension between the leads is smokin’. Her heroes are confident and sexy and her heroines are the kind of gals you could see yourself hanging out with or meeting for coffee…kind of like Julie, herself. J 

Readers met Cade Morgan in the previous book in the series, About That Night, when he was introduced as the Assistant U.S. Attorney who prosecuted and locked up the illustrious Twitter Terrorist. Of course, when Kyle Rhodes—said Twitter Terrorist—helped the U.S. Attorney’s office apprehend a murderer, the situation was a bit awkward for Cade, though he was appreciative of Kyle’s assistance. In Love Irresistibly, Cade is after a dirty politician and other corrupt Chicago jetsetters, and this time he needs the help of Brooke Parker. 

Brooke has worked her butt off to get to the prestigious position of general counsel for Sterling Restaurants. The only drawback is that she works a lot and has little time to date…which explains why her romantic relationships usually last only a few months. But she loves her job and does it extremely well. When Cade Morgan walks into her office asking for her help in order to bug a table at one of Sterling’s upscale restaurants, Brooke is skeptical as she is responsible for protecting Sterling’s interests. She wants details, but there are some that Cade cannot divulge due to the sensitive nature of the case. That’s when some sparks fly.
 

“Hmm.” He stretched out in the chair, looking effortlessly handsome and every inch the successful trial lawyer in his tailored navy pinstripe suit. “Now, normally, this would be the point when I’d have to give you the tough-guy speech about how, if you were to reveal to anyone the confidential nature of the information I’m about to give you, you could be charged with obstruction of justice and face a possible felony conviction and imprisonment.” He flashed her a dashing grin. “Luckily, though, since you’re a lawyer and obviously know that already, we can skip over the tough-guy stuff. Which is nice, because that part of the conversation can get really awkward.” 

 

He’d come her, to her office, to ask for her help. Now he was threatening her with obstruction of justice charges—and most annoyingly, he was doing it with a smile. 

So she returned the favor. “That is nice, Mr. Morgan. Because in response to your tough-guy speech, I, in turn, would’ve had to give you my tough-girl speech, about where, exactly, federal prosecutors who come to my office looking for assistance can stick their obstruction of justice threats.” She smiled ever so charmingly. “So I’m glad we were able to sidestep that whole ugly business. Whew.”
 

Whew is right! Brooke gives as good as she gets, and where that typically drives other men away, Cade is drawn to her and wants to know just what makes her tick. He can relate to her workaholic nature as he is very much the same in regards to his job. He hasn’t had much luck in the dating department either, particularly because he doesn’t allow women to get to know him—the real him, deep down inside. As he tells it: “It’s all right there on the surface. What you see is what you get.”  It was nice to watch him slowly allow not only Brooke in, but also the teenage brother he didn’t know about. Brooke doesn’t keep up with football, so it surprises her when her best friend Ford and his buddies all know who Cade Morgan—Northwestern University’s Rose Bowl star—is. One of my favorite lines from the book comes from the part where her friends meet Cade.
 

Unfortunately, she wasn’t going to get a word in edgewise with him right then, seeing how her friends were fawning over him like twelve-year-old girls who’d scored backstage passes to a Justin Bieber concert.
 

Julie James turns up the heat with the love scenes in this book and my, oh my, they are super sexy. Cade is super sexy. He is one of the hottest heroes I’ve read in a while—completely confident without coming across as arrogant. Absolutely delicious. 

I highly recommend Love Irresistibly to any and all lovers of contemporary romance. It is brilliantly-written book that is a must-read! And if you haven’t yet discovered the talent of Julie James—who is one of my select “go to” contemporary authors—please do yourself a favor and pick up her books! 

Because I love Julie’s books SO much and am in the giving mood, I would love to give away a copy of the second book in the series, A Lot Like Love, which features scrumptious FBI agent Nick McCall. So tell me, who is your favorite contemporary romance hero and what book is he from? Also, have you read Julie’s books? If so, which is your favorite? One random commenter will win a copy of A Lot Like Love by Julie James. (US addresses only, please)
 

 
~Andrea

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Today's Special -- Julianne MacLean



Today, I welcome best-selling historical author Julianne MacLean back to the Romance Dish! I first discovered Julianne's books when I won an ARC of Surrender to a Scoundrel--one of her American Heiresses series books--back in 2006. It remains one of my all-time favorite books to this day. :) Since then, Julianne has gone on to write about the Sinclair family, some sexy Highlanders, and a trilogy centered around royalty. If you haven't read any of Julianne's books, I encourage you to do so! Right now, I'm reading her latest, Seduced at Sunset, and enjoying it immensely. Please welcome Julianne!

~Andrea


Series Conclusions…How Do We Say Goodbye?

By Julianne MacLean

 

Have you ever wanted to weep after finishing a series you have loved from the beginning? Did you feel as if you were grieving for a lost loved one because you were forced to say goodbye to characters who had become such an enjoyable part of your life?

          Imagine the author, who has spent countless hours—and years—living in the story world she created.  I assure you, it’s not always easy for an author to move on and start something new, to envision a whole new world with a different set of characters—characters she knows nothing about.  She can’t help but wonder, will the new series have the same magic?  And what about the secondary characters who were left behind without ever getting stories of their own?

          I find myself in a strange state of mourning these days because I am bidding farewell to not one, but two separate series.  Timing can be cruel sometimes.

         

On April 30, The Prince’s Bride will hit bookstores, and that is the last book in a trilogy I began with St. Martin’s Press. I am a passionate fan of The Tudors series on television, so I took great pleasure in creating a fictional European nation called Petersbourg, modeled after the Tudor Court but set in the Regency period.  It became home to a family of charismatic young royals who were surrounded by romance and court intrigue, and each had to marry and produce heirs to continue their legacy.

         

I must also let go of another series revolving around an aristocratic family in England—the Sinclairs of Pembroke Palace.  This was a series I began at Avon in 2007, but when I changed publishers, I was unable to finish it at that time.  It was three years before I could finally return to Pembroke and give happy endings to the last two siblings, who had been left hanging since 2009.  Seduced at Sunset is finally released, but I find myself wondering if there is a way to continue both of these series.
 

The heroine from the first book in my Royal Trilogy had some sisters…. Perhaps they could be presented at court in Petersbourg.  And all the Sinclair siblings have happy, fruitful marriages.  There is a palace full of grandchildren who will be entering the London marriage mart during the Edwardian period.  Downton Abbey, anyone?

Alas, this is the sort of situation where an author needs to hear from readers.  I read every letter I receive, and when I see the same request over and over for a certain character’s story, I do become inspired to write it—because I respect my readers’ opinions and I like to give you what you want.

So if you ever feel heartbroken that your favorite series has come to an end and would like to see it continue, know that authors are listening.  Most of us are delighted to learn that you want more of something we have written.  We can often be persuaded to find a way to bring a series back to life.
 

So what do you think?  Have you ever written to an author to request the continuation of a series?  What series have you mourned when it reached the end?  Would you love it if the author returned to it, or can a series become stale if the author doesn’t know when to let it go?

All comments will be included in a random draw (open to everyone!) to win an autographed advance reading copy of The Prince’s Bride, my Royal Trilogy conclusion, which hits bookstores April 30.  I will be reading everyone’s comments.  Good luck!