Happy Birthday, Janga! Wishing you sunshine, smiles, and happily ever afters today and always.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Today's Special - - Kat Martin


New York Times bestselling author Kat Martin is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara where she majored in Anthropology and also studied History.   She is married to L.J. Martin, author of western, non-fiction, and suspense novels.

Kat has written more than sixty-five novels.  Sixteen million copies of her books are in print and she has been published in twenty foreign countries, including Japan, France, Germany, Argentina, Greece, China, Russia, and Spain.

Born in Bakersfield, California, Kat currently resides in Missoula, Montana, on a small ranch in the beautiful Sapphire mountains.

Her last 10 books have hit the prestigious New York Times bestseller list.  AGAINST THE WILD, AGAINST THE SKY, AGAINST THE TIDE and INTO THE FURY her latest release, took top ten spots. 

Visit Kat's website at www.katmartin.com

Or look for her on Facebook at Katmartin/author.



Cover--Blessing or Curse

The cover of a novel is one of the most important ingredients in the success or failure of a book. 
If the book is special enough and gets lots of word-of-mouth, even a bad cover can’t stop the novel from being a success.  If the author’s name is well enough known, a bad cover might slow sales down but it won’t be a death knell, which if very well can be.

Most of us fall into the category where a good cover is imperative, the difference between success and failure. 

Take the cover of my new book, INTO THE WHIRLWIND.  At six-foot two and totally ripped, Dirk Reynolds is gorgeous to look at, tough as nails, and sexy as hell.  He’s featured on the cover of the book, which is out May 31.

Personally, I love covers that show bare-chested, hard-muscled men, but it turns out a lot of book buyers don’t like them.  Or perhaps it’s just that there are so many of them out there right now.
I’m hoping the gorgeous cover on INTO THE WHIRLWIND will appeal to readers as much as it appeals to me.  The book is Meg and Dirks’ story, the second in the BOSS, Inc. Trilogy following INTO THE FURY.

When Megan O’Brien's three-year-old son is kidnapped, the former lingerie model goes to the only man she trusts to help her, private investigator, Dirk Reynolds, her former bodyguard, the man who was still owns her heart.  But their breakup had been bad, leaving Meg unsure if Dirk will agree.  Desperate, Meg is willing to risk everything to save little Charlie.

Together, as they follow the clues, Dirk and Meg are pulled into the murky world of high-stakes gambling, international crime, and terrible danger.  I think the picture on the front of the book fits the story perfectly.

Over the years, I’ve had good covers and bad.  One of the prettiest covers I ever had was on an historical I wrote titled MIDNIGHT RIDER.  The problem was the cover was completely white.  The lovely embossed bird on the front didn’t show up until the reader picked up the book. 

Not many did! 

But the cover was chosen by the publisher and no amount of talking could convince them to change it. 

On the other hand, my AGAINST SERIES, all twelve novels had fabulous covers, each with a profile of the hot-looking hero.  Sales reflected how great those covers actually were. 

I hope you like the cover of INTO THE WHIRLWIND.  Even more, I hope you enjoy Meg and Dirks’s high action adventure.

Till then, all best and happy reading, Kat 


Readers, do covers influence your decision to buy a book?

What's your favorite kind of cover?

One randomly chosen person leaving a comment on today's post will receive a copy of INTO THE FURY.
Deadline for comments to be included in the giveaway is 11:00 PM, June 2nd.


EXCERPT from INTO THE WHIRLWIND

*****

     Megan O'Brien parked at the end of the gravel driveway and quietly got out of her compact SUV.  Through the trees, she could hear the roar of a chainsaw, hear see two-by-fours going up to form the sides of the house under construction.
     The garage was already finished, undoubtedly full of Dirk's toys, including a Harley and a custom Dodge Viper.  In the summer, he kept a boat docked on the lake below the house.
     Though two other men were hard at work, her gaze went straight to Dirk.  Hammer in hand, carpenter's belt dangling low on his waist, he was shirtless, though the January air was chill.
     Hard muscle flexed across his back and shoulders as he pounded in a nail with an ease that said how many times he had done it.  Long, sinewy muscles outlined by the soft fabric of his jeans stretched and moved as he worked on his house.
     Meg's gaze went over the familiar dragon tattoo that wound over one shoulder and inched up the side of his neck.  The colored ink seemed right with the sexy, short-cropped, horseshoe mustache that framed his mouth and curved down to his jaw, making him look like the hard, tough man he was.
     Even her terrible fear for her son couldn't block the memories of how it had felt to lie with him.  Couldn't lessen the yearning that burned through her body just at the sight of him.
     On the fashion show tour, Dirk had been her bodyguard, and though every instinct had warned her not to get involved with him, the fierce attraction between them was impossible to resist.
     Once the tour returned home, Meg had ended the affair.  Dirk Reynolds was wild and fierce while she was a single mother with a son to raise.  She had duties, responsibilities.
     She couldn't have Dirk Reynolds.   
     But she had never gotten over Dirk.
     Meg steeled herself and headed along the gravel driveway toward the house he was rebuilding after the fire that had nearly killed him five months ago.  One thing she knew, Dirk Reynolds was a hard man to kill.
     Which was the reason she had swallowed her pride and her heartache and come to him.  She needed him, trusted him as she never had another man.  Her little boy's life depended on gaining this man's help.  This man she had loved and rejected.
     She stepped out of the foliage and started toward him.  With Dirk's usual keen senses, he turned, alert that someone was there, though the buzz of the saw hid the sound of her footsteps.
     For several long moments, he just stared, watching as she approached.  He was six-two, his body lean and sculpted.  Wavy dark brown hair curled at the nape of his neck.  She forced herself to keep walking, even as his jaw locked and a fierce scowl darkened his face.
     Dirk grabbed a faded blue work shirt and shrugged it on, covering most of his amazing chest.  He didn't bother fastening the buttons, just strode toward her, blocking her view of the house.
     He stopped right in front of her.  "What are doing here, Meg?"
     "I need to talk to you.  It's...it's urgent."
     "You're trespassing.  What do you want?"
     She swallowed, fought to stay strong.  He didn't want her there.  She had known he wouldn't.  Known he thought of her only with contempt.  She wished he would hold her the way he used to when she was afraid.  "I...I want to hire you."
     The corner of his mouth edged into a ruthless half smile.  "What for?  Stud service?"
     She wanted to cry.  She wanted to beg his forgiveness.  Tell him she had never forgotten him.  That she never would. She knew it wouldn't matter to Dirk.  Not anymore.
     It didn't matter.  Nothing mattered, but saving the life of her son.
*****

Monday, May 30, 2016

Deception Island Winner






Random.org has chosen the lucky winner of a copy of

DECEPTION ISLAND by Brynn Kelly and that person is:

Manda Collins

Congratulations!

Please send your full name and mailing address to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com


Today's Special - - Deception Island Review Tour


Deception Island
By Brynn Kelly
Publisher: HQN Books
Release Date: May 31, 2016








Rafe Angelito thought he was done with the demons from his past—until his son is kidnapped. Blackmailed into abducting an American heiress, the legionnaire soon finds himself trapped in paradise with a fiery, daring beauty who's nothing he expects…and everything he desires. But when he uncovers her own dark secret, Rafe realizes he's made a critical mistake—one that could cost him everything.
Playing body double for a spoiled socialite was supposed to be Holly Ryan's ticket to freedom. But when she's snatched off her yacht by a tall, dark and dangerous stranger, the not-quite-reformed con artist will make a desperate play to turn her captor from enemy to ally, by any means necessary.
Yet as scorching days melt into sultry nights, Holly is drawn to the mysterious capitaine, with his unexpected sense of honor and his searing touch. When they're double-crossed, they'll have to risk trusting each other in ways they never imagined…because in this deadly game of deception, it's their lives—and hearts—on the line.


Holly and Rafe are not your typical romance hero and heroine. Stolen from his village as a small child, Rafe was forced into the life of a child soldier and did things in his early years that haunt him still. Escaping several years later, he was fortunate to be educated by those who took him in and finally ended up in the French Foreign Legion where he learned to be a soldier of honor, leaving his years as a Lost Boy in the past. Or so he thinks. Holly is an American con artist who has a chance at freedom after a Senator gets her released from prison so she can impersonate his daughter. He's killed more than his share of people. She's conned more than hers. Both have regrets. Both are determined to have their way. Neither has a reason to trust the other. Yet that is exactly what they must do if they have any hope of surviving the perils in their path.

Wow! Wow! Wow! What an incredible debut novel! Deception Island is a dark, unrelenting journey of non-stop action, passion, and suspense from the first page to the final one. Once I began reading, everything else fell by the wayside. All I could focus on was what was happening in the moment and what twist Ms. Kelly was going to throw at her characters next. And, wow, what twists she threw! 

The bad guys in this novel are really bad; wealthy, soulless, and bent on revenge. Not the type you'd want to run into in a dark alley...or a deserted island. Murder, extortion, kidnapping, and human trafficking are only a few of their enterprises. Their world is not a pretty one and Kelly cuts no corners in bringing the reader into that world. My heart raced with fear for those in their sights and broke for those in their grasp. 

Kelly did an outstanding job of creating atmosphere and a sense of place with her words. I could feel the sultry heat of the island on which Rafe and Holly are stranded, the breathless fear and desperation when staring death in the face, the love and caring that slowly, almost reluctantly develops between two unlikely people, and the fragile hope of a seemingly impossible future between a man and a woman who thought they never wanted what they ultimately discover they need most. 

Deception Island is different from anything I've read in a while. I couldn't put it down. I was in this unlikely couple's corner the whole way; gasping at the seemingly insurmountable obstacles they were forced to overcome, sighing at the unexpected, tender moments, delighting in the verbal swordplay, and clueless as to how the author was going to pull off the impossible, happy ending they deserved. It's one heck of a ride from an exceptionally talented writer. I can't wait to see where Brynn Kelly takes us next!

~PJ

Are you a fan of romantic suspense novels?

Do you enjoy books that take you out of your comfort zone?

Who are your romantic suspense favorites?

Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Deception Island in our Memorial Day giveaway. The winner will be chosen at 3:00 PM (EST) this afternoon.  (U.S./Canada only)




It took award-winning journalist Brynn Kelly only two decades to realize that all those stranger-than-fiction news reports (pirates, mercenaries, murders, conspiracies…) provided the perfect training for a new career: as a writer of larger-than-life novels.
She’s delighted that HQN Books, a Harlequin/HarperCollins imprint, is publishing her Golden Heart-nominated debut novel because it gives her an excuse to spend her days in a bubble of delicious words and fiendish plots. Secretly, though, after all those years writing about the real world, she’s terrified someone will realize she’s making it all up.
Brynn has a degree in communications with a journalism major, and has won several prestigious writing awards, including the Valerie Parv Award and the Pacific Hearts Award. She’s the bestselling author of four non-fiction books in her native New Zealand, and the mother of two young boys. In her (guffaw) spare time, she murders Italian arias studies classical singing.
She is working on a follow-up novel to Deception Island, which will also be published by HQN.

Author's website:  http://brynnkelly.com



Sunday, May 29, 2016

Joanna Shupe Winner








The randomly chosen winner of a signed print copy of MAGNATE is:

Di

Congratulations!

Please send your full name and mailing address to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com


Kris Kennedy Winners






The two randomly chosen winners of PJ's Kris Kennedy giveaway are:

Glenda

and

libararypat

Congratulations!

Please send an email with your choice of a Kindle copy of 

Defiant or Claiming Her by Kris Kennedy to

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

Susan Sey Winner






The winner of a (print or Kindle-winner's choice) copy of 

PICTURE ME AND YOU by Susan Sey is:

erin

Congratulations!

Please send an email with your choice of print or Kindle copy of the book and the 

appropriate email/mailing address to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com


Friday, May 27, 2016

Review - - Hot in Hellcat Canyon

Hot in Hellcat Canyon
By Julie Anne Long
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: May 31, 2016
 





Unroll the banners, strike up the band, and profligately fling confetti. Julie Anne Long’s debut as a contemporary romance author is reason enough for romance readers to celebrate. Hot in Hellcat Canyon is funny, sexy, smart, and heart-melting. I added it to my best of 2016 list the minute I completed my first reading.

After her life in Southern California disintegrated, Britt Langley retreated to Hellcat Canyon, a quirky small town in historic Gold Rush country. She works as a waitress at the Misty Cat Saloon and as manager for Gold Nugget Property Management. She enjoys the individuals that make up the Hellcat community while preserving a distance that protects her privacy and her heart.  Her past is past chronologically, but its effects are still very much with Britt. Just the name of her former husband is enough to paralyze her with fear.

John Tennessee McCord, known as J. T., is a forty-year-old actor best known for Blood Brothers, a popular television series in which J. T. played a cop, and as half of a super couple that ruled as media darlings for five years (in the tradition of Bennifer and Brangelina). But Blood Brothers is seen only in reruns nearly a decade after its final episode, the super couple is history, and J. T.’s recent films, although they have won him critical acclaim, have not been commercial successes. He is hopeful that The Rush, the new TV series set in the California Gold Rush in which he is set to star, will be received more warmly. On his way to a friend’s wedding, he decides to check out the site where The Rush will be filmed. His truck breaks down in Hellcat Canyon, and what was meant to be a brief stay becomes an extended one.

Britt and J.T. meet when he stops at the Misty Cat. The scene that introduces J. T. is just one example of the brilliance of Long’s word craft in this book as she evokes the hero of an old-time Western, has Britt draw the comparison, and ends with a simple statement that awards J. T. that heroic stature. The attraction between Britt and J. T. is immediate, but it involves more than physical appeal. They appreciate one another’s intelligence and ready wit from the first, and as they get to know one another better, the attraction encompasses all the dimensions of the persons they are. J. T.’s celebrity world intrudes on their idyll, bringing complications in the guise of a long-time frenemy and J. T.’s glamorous and scheming ex, but it is Britt’s fears that are the biggest obstacle to their HEA.

When Julie Anne Long announced that her next book after the long-awaited Legend of Lyon Redmond would be a contemporary romance, I went into mourning. Her historical romances have been a highlight of my reading year for more than a decade, and while I did not doubt that her contemporary romance would be written with her usual skill and grace, I did question if it could possibly compare to the Pennyroyal Green books. My worries were wasted. Hot in Hellcat Canyon showcases this author’s deft characterization, attention-grabbing plots, and wondrous prose—all the qualities that made me love her historicals.

Words are inadequate to express my delight in watching Britt and J. T. fall in love. First, there is the fact that these are characters who have lived. Their years have developed their characters, and neither is defined by one bad love affair. Even more rewarding is the fact that they are fully dimensional characters, and the progress of their relationship involves all these dimensions. I loved that J. T. is initially intrigued by Britt’s use of “enigmatic” in conversation. The sexual tension is high and the love scenes sizzle, but there is a refreshing absence of the insta-lust that too often prevails in current contemporary romance. When Britt thinks about her first encounter with J. T., her thoughts are anything but generic sexual longing. They are specific to Britt and J. T., and for readers, they touch what Faulkner called the “resonant strings of remembering.”

Because from the moment he’d walked in, it was as if someone had dialed the universe up a notch: all the colors were just a little brighter and everything seemed more distinct and more beautiful, and her very blood seemed to buzz.

And oh, that first kiss. I do love an author who understands how important that scene is. Long had already won a place on my best-first-kiss scenes ever with What I Did for a Duke (2011), but I think this one is even better. To give you just a brief sample . . .

And then her eyes closed, and magically, as if they both knew this was the next step in the dance, they were leaning into each other, and his lips leisurely, softly brushed across hers. It was the kind of caress, he knew from experience, that let all of your other nerve endings know that mind-blowing pleasure was on its way. 

The humor is another delight, and it ranges from subtle wit to physical comedy. I particularly loved J. T.’s reaction to the girly bread-and-breakfast and Britt and friend as inebriated artists. Although Long keeps the focus on the romance, she also shows the reader Hellcat Canyon as a physical place and as a community. It is as if the reader is watching as a gifted painter creates a landscape or a brilliant cinematographer captures the features and the faces. Only the medium this artist uses is words. From the pets to the jerks to the town eccentrics, the secondary and tertiary characters are individuals who have their own stories. With enthusiasm and eagerness, I await whichever of those Hellcat Canyon stories Long chooses to tell in coming months and years. 

I give Hot in Hellcat Canyon my highest recommendation. I’ve read it twice, and writing this review has left me hungry to read it again. If you love contemporary romance, be sure this one is on your TBR list. I have the feeling that it will be showing up on many lists at year’s end.

~Janga



Thursday, May 26, 2016

Today's Special - - Cathy Maxwell

I'm always happy when Cathy Maxwell visits us here at the Romance Dish. Not only does it mean we can look forward to an enjoyable day with one of the nicest and funniest people on the planet but it usually means she has a new book out as well. This time, the book in question is The Fairest of Them All, second in Maxwell's Marrying the Duke trilogy and it's terrific. In fact, I think it's one of the best she's ever written and, based on the early reviews, I'm not the only one of that opinion. 

You can learn more about Cathy and her books at her website and connect with her online at Facebook and Twitter.

Welcome, Cathy!


More Than Looks

              What makes a character heroic? What sets him or her apart from all others?  What makes me, as a reader, fall a little in love as I travel through the story?
              Good questions.  Here are just a few of my must haves:

Courage.  I’ve found it takes great courage to live my life on my terms.  I make mistakes but I am determined to carry on and I expect that in my Romance heroes and heroines as well.  I guess some folks would call it “spunk” or “guts” or “perseverance.”   Whatever the name, characters who refuse to give up, even when everything is going absolutely wrong, make the story for me.

Flaws.  Who wants to be perfect?  Not me.   I’d bore myself.  Plus, I don’t think flaws stop a character from being heroic.  The most interesting stories are the ones where a person rises over her flaws to succeed, especially if she learns something along the way.

Kindness.  Let me also throw in the word “generous” as well.  This one is close to my heart. My late husband was one of the kindest people I have met.  It made him easy to live with. Not only do I look for the quality in every guy I date, but since I expect my Romance novels to be that forever kind of love, well, kindness needs to be present. 



- Humor.  I could not live without laughing.  Life would be so drab.  Plus, I think the best sort of love is where we can laugh at ourselves.  Whether the humor is smart aleck or genteel or slapstick, I must have it in my characters. Otherwise, they are not believable to me.  By the way, some of the best scenes I’ve read are the ones where the characters are being completely caught up in the moment but I laugh because I recognize myself. You know, where they are done in by their own shenanigans (I love that word.)

- Health.  When the heroine has glossy hair and the hero has white straight teeth--or vice versa—what we are really talking about is health.  Healthy people can enjoy life.  I don’t want to read about a character with rotting teeth.  Awck!  Can you imagine the kiss?  (No, please don’t. I apologize for putting the idea in your head. However, I do know a great zombish joke along those lines. So, someone could make it work, right?)





Those are just some of the characteristics I’ve enjoyed being celebrated in Romance literature.  There are many more and because you are a fan of The Romance Dish and a discerning reader, I bet you have a few fave characteristics, too.  So what makes a meaningful hero or heroine for you?  What hooks you into a character?  Care to share? 

And I should tell you, that I used many of these characteristics in my latest THE FAIREST OF THEM ALL.  This is the second book of the “Marrying the Duke” series.  I’m having a great time writing this trilogy.  A DATE AT THE ALTAR will be out the end of October.  Oh, and the first book is THE MATCH OF THE CENTURY. 

Now, let’s yak about what makes characters special.







Thanks, Cathy! I love the characteristics you've mentioned. They are all must haves for me as well. Readers, as I mentioned in my intro above, Cathy's upcoming book, The Fairest of Them All will be released into the wild next Tuesday, May 31st. It's one of my favorite books of the year and one of my all-time favorites by Cathy Maxwell. Because I enjoyed it so much, I'm giving away a Kindle copy of The Fairest of Them All to one randomly chosen person who leaves a comment on today's post. Deadline for comments to be entered is 11:00 PM, Friday, May 27, 2016. 



by Cathy Maxwell 
Publisher: Avon 
Release Date: May 31, 2016
The penniless orphan of a disreputable earl, Lady Charlene Blanchard thrives on the adventure of picking the pockets of unsavory gentlemen to survive. But due to her extraordinary beauty and prized bloodlines, she is hand-chosen as a potential bride for the Duke of Baynton, who is on the hunt for a suitable wife to provide heirs. All Char has to do is act the part she was born to play and charm a duke she’s never laid eyes on into proposing. Except the duke turns out to be the tall, dark and sexy stranger who just caught her red-handed as a thief! 
Or is he? Jack Whitridge is the duke’s twin who had “gone missing” over ten years ago. Now back in England, he knows that the supposed Lady who has his brother’s love is hardly duchess material—except he needs her to save his adopted country from war. He is willing to bargain with her heart, until he finds himself falling for Char . . . 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Third Chance Lenora Bell Winner





I'm having a hard time giving away this terrific prize package from 

Lenora Bell's April visit. Maybe the third time will be the charm.

The third-chance randomly chosen winner is:

catslady

Congratulations! Please send your full name and mailing address to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

The deadline to claim this giveaway is Friday, May 27, 2016.


Spotlight on Kris Kennedy - - Review and Giveaway


I adore romances set during Medieval times and, in my opinion, Kris Kennedy is one of the best authors writing in this period. Earlier this month, Kennedy released her newest book, Claiming Her which went straight to my keeper collection after reading it...twice. I have no doubt I'll be revisiting this story again and again in years to come. Claiming Her is currently only $2.99 in e-book format but is worth its weight in gold. It has my highest recommendation! Five years ago, Kennedy published another book that also has a place of honor on my keeper shelf. Today, she's releasing a revised edition of that story along with a brand new cover. Following is my 2011 review of Defiant by Kris Kennedy. The updated version landed on my Kindle this morning and I can't wait to return to Medieval England for another visit with these unforgettable characters. 

Defiant
By Kris Kennedy
Original Publisher: Pocket Books
Original Release Date: April 26, 2011
Digital Reissue Publisher: Kris Kennedy
Digital Reissue Date: May 25, 2016 

  


1215 England

During the tumultuous reign of King John, when civil unrest brewed and loyalties were constantly called into question, a hard, powerful knight and a beautiful young woman stalk the same quarry…for very different reasons. 

Jamie Lost, chief lieutenant of King John is sent to capture a priest who has returned to England after fleeing ten years earlier when he witnessed events that, should he talk, could mean the end of King John’s reign. Eva also fled the country ten years ago and has spent that time hiding in France, protecting the young boy she rescued and spirited out of England following the murder of his father by King John. She is after the same priest as well but her purpose is to rescue her dear friend, the man who saved her life all those years ago.

Jamie is a hard man; tested by battle, betrayal and years of living on the streets of London as a child. He has no family, only his friend, Ry who travels with him, and banned love and affection from his heart long ago. Worst of all, to Eva’s mind, he is loyal to King John, a man to be avoided at all costs...but must he be so appealing?

Even a feared, ruthless mercenary, a Brabançon, identified himself with someone. Usually the English king. By the look in this one’s eye, ‘twas a simple enough matter to place him there.

But somehow, she couldn’t believe something so…beautiful could be so awful. And he was beautiful indeed, to a hard line, a masculine magnificence, all long, lean contours of hard heat and piercing eyes. A beast in his prime.

A natural-born caretaker, fighting fiercely to protect the people she loves - Father Peter and 15-year-old Roger, the child she rescued all those years ago – the child that is the missing heir to a powerful English title, information that will put his life at risk should it come to the attention of King John or his chief lieutenant, it’s a given that Eva and Jamie would be natural adversaries. Jamie, of course, is a trained warrior but Eva is a warrior at heart, a fact you would never guess by looking at her and one that causes Jamie no small amount of frustration. Totally unexpected, however, is the instant attraction between the two, not that either has the inclination to act upon it…at first. When the barriers are finally lowered though, and a tentative trust begins to develop, will the man who thinks he has no room for love in his heart and the woman whose fondest dream is a cottage by a river and a family to care for discover a love for the ages? Or, will secrets, betrayals and an unstable king slash their hopes and dreams to shreds?

Kris Kennedy has once again written an unique and emotional love story, filled with passion and adventure and rich in historical detail. She has a way of writing that draws me into the story so that, rather than reading about characters and events, I feel as if I’ve been transported back in time and am experiencing their adventures alongside them, such as in this passage when Eva rides through the English countryside for the first time in ten years.

Eva felt as if she were riding through the middle of one of Father Peter's sketches.  The trees all wore billowing green caps and stood proudly in their dark brown tunics as they marched up and down the hills of England.  

Less showy, but more sweet, tiny pricking flowers hurried to the edge of the track.  The hedgerows hosted a profusion of flowering vines and exhuberant birds, flitting their wings and chirping.  Whenever the land opened up, herds of red poppies raced down the hills like ponies, all exhuberance and flicking tails.  

Jamie and Eva are complex, multi-layered characters who Kennedy very skillfully reveals to us, one layer at a time, throughout the book. It's the layers, the flaws and conflicts, not only between them but within each of them, that infuses them with the realism that makes them such fascinating characters. There’s an equally interesting secondary cast (primarily Roger, Ry and Angus, the one-eyed Scotsman) whose contributions to the story move the plot along, inject humorous moments and provide insights into the hearts and minds of our hero and heroine. I have hopes that we might see some of them in a future book, perhaps one with young Roger as the hero. I so want to read the rest of his story!

Defiant has joined Ms. Kennedy's other two medieval romances on my keeper shelf where it will no doubt be revisited from time to time.  Writing as good as this never goes out of style.  

~PJ

Do you enjoy Medieval romance?

Do you have any favorite books set in this period or favorite authors writing in this era?

Have you read any of Kris Kennedy's books yet? Do you have a favorite?

Because I love these books so much, I'm giving away a Kindle copy of Defiant or Claiming Her (winner's choice) to two randomly chosen people who leave a comment on today's post. Deadline for entering the giveaway is 11:00 PM (EST), May 26, 2016.




 CLAIMING HER

NOT WHAT SHE WANTS… 
Lady Katarina has safeguarded the Irish barony of Rardove for the queen of England with audacity and sheer will, bending to no man. But when the worst of the Irish warlords breaches the impenetrable castle walls through trickery, he threatens her personal wall of cool reserve as well. Aodh Mac Con the most formidable man she's ever met, but the deeper danger of this Irish scoundrel is that only Aodh can see—and appreciate—the deepest, most hidden parts of her. Only Aodh can unleash her secret passions. 

Can she stand firm, or will she fall too--straight into his arms? 

NOT WHAT HE EXPECTS… 
Aodh Mac Con, The Hound, is through serving the English Crown and waiting to be granted the barony he sees as his birthright. After taking control of the remote castle with his bold men, he turns his attention on Katarina, intending to conquer the cool, reserved chatelaine as he's done everything else in his life: by making her bend to his irresistible will. 

Can he conquer her in time, before the armies of England come marching, or will the fire that fuels her defiance put everything he's fought for in peril? 



DEFIANT

BOUND TO A KING… 
Jamie Lost is King John's most renowned commander, an audacious knight ordered to kidnap a rebel troublemaker before enemy forces close in. The mission is simple—until he comes up against a beautiful, mysterious woman who first threatens his mission, then his cold, black heart.

BOUND TO OPPOSE HIM... 
Eva is determined to find the 'troublemaker' too, and protect the dangerous secrets he holds, even if it costs her life. Danger lies everywhere, especially in the blue-eyed knight showing far too much interest in her activities. But deep inside, Eva knows the real danger lies not in the weapons crisscrossing Jamie's body, but in the desire he awakens in her body & her heart. 

...BOUND BY A PASSION THAT WILL SEAL THEIR FATES 
When a mysterious band of armed mercenaries upends both their plans and abducts their quarry, Jamie and Eva must form an uneasy alliance. As civil war erupts around them, they embark on an epic journey that betrays the truth about their identities and their unexpected loyalties, and unleashes an explosive passion that will seal their fates—and the fate of England—forever. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Today's Special - - Susan Sey



It's my pleasure to welcome Susan Sey back to the Romance Dish today. If you read any of Susan's posts while she was blogging at the Romance Bandits, then you already know she writes with humor and heart. If you've picked up any of her books, you're also familiar with her quirky characters, out of the norm settings, sweet and sexy romance, and touch of suspense. In Picture Me and You, she also proves herself a master of the dysfunctional unit. Only this time, it's not just a family. It's the whole darn town. As this is the first book in a planned trilogy - and I couldn't put it down - I can hardly wait to see what she brings us next! 

Take it away, Susan! 




I’m deeply in love with HAMILTON these days. 

Surely you’ve heard of it? It’s Lin-Manuel Miranda’s retelling of founding father Alexander Hamilton’s story through a musical mash-up of Broadway and hiphop. Nominated for a record 16 Tonys, it’s infectious, ingenious and educational.  (It isn’t just history, either. At one point, we get into the crucial importance comma placement. Kid you not.) It’s also a master’s class in characterization.

Obviously, Alexander Hamilton is our hero here.  He’s a driven genius, creating everything from the Coast Guard to America’s banking system. He was also an arrogant, social-climbing philanderer, despised by both Thomas Jefferson AND John Adams, who could agree on nothing, it seems, except that Hamilton was a jerk.

Aaron Burr is our villain.  Their lives run along very parallel tracks -- both were brilliant, ambitious, and politically inclined orphans.  But where Burr respects the political machine, plays within its rules and loses, Hamilton breaks every rule, writes his own ticket and wins. He does everything wrong but always manages to win, and by the time these two get down to dueling, you can see exactly why Burr shoots. It breaks your heart, but you get why he does it.  Why you might, too, in his shoes.

By the time Lin-Manuel Miranda is done with us, we know in our bones that Hamilton was no hero and Burr was no villain. They were just two really strong, really different men who were standing in each other’s way and neither one knew how to yield. So who’s the hero? It depends entirely on whose point of view you’re in.

It’s a beautifully written lesson in compassion, yes, but it’s also a lesson to writers everywhere. It’s easy to hate faceless evil-doers, but it’s just as easy to forget them.  You want to write a story that grabs people by the throats, shatters their hearts and leaves them thanking you for the privilege? Write a rich, fully-drawn, well-motivated villain, then a hero who lives up to the challenge.

I’m no Lin-Manuel Miranda, but I try really hard with my villains.  I write dozens of scenes in their points of view, scenes I know I’ll have to cut eventually. But not a word is wasted because each moment I spend inside my villain’s head and heart is time I spend understanding that character, getting to know what drives them, who they are and who they’re desperate to be.  And it only makes my hero that much stronger.

In my new book, PICTURE ME & YOU, the villain does some pretty awful stuff. Borderline unforgivable stuff.  But by the time I’m done with him -- and it’s a trilogy, so be patient -- I’m hoping you’ll understand why.  In fact, I’m hoping you’ll go one better and not only understand but forgive and -- maybe -- fall in love.


So tell me -- who’s the worst villain you ever forgave?  Can you think of a character you initially hated with a grand passion but who eventually turned it around until you loved him?  I desperately love a reformed bad boy, so shout them out!  One lucky commenter will receive a copy of PICTURE ME & YOU, book one of my new Devil’s Kettle trilogy, in either print or for Kindle.  




The perfect wife…
All Addison Davis has ever wanted is a family of her own and a place to call home.  So when the art world’s favorite bad boy paints her as a masterpiece, puts a ring on her finger and tucks her away in the gorgeous little lakeside hometown he made famous, she finally has everything she ever wanted.   Everything except love.
The loyal brother…
Fire chief Jackson Davis knows his brother isn’t in love with the big-eyed waif he married.  Diego might be enchanted with his angelic little muse now but he’s never loved anything more than his addictions.  When those addictions leave Addy a painfully young widow, Jax can only watch while her precious heart shatters.
The secrets they keep…
But Addy inherited more from her late husband than a family, a hometown and the masterpiece she inspired.  She inherited his secrets, too, but secrets don’t keep in Devil’s Kettle.  When all is revealed, what bursts into flame between her and Jax is hot enough to burn down the whole town, forcing Addy to choose — will she protect the life she loves, or risk it all for the man who loves her?
Welcome to Devil’s Kettle.
Learn more about Susan and her books at her website

Connect with her online at Facebook and Twitter.




Monday, May 23, 2016

Jo Beverley - - Farewell to a Romance Icon


Jo Beverley


This evening, the Word Wenches announced today's death of beloved historical romance author, Jo Beverley. As her Word Wenches sister, Mary Jo Putney wrote: 

Jo had quietly been through a very dangerous bout with cancer about five years ago, and had come through with flying colors.  The cancer was discovered to have returned some weeks ago, and it moved very quickly.  We all hoped for another miracle, but it was not to be.  Jo died very peacefully in a lovely care home in Yorkshire that used to be a convent, with her husband and her pal Charlie,  the Cabbage Patch Kid, by her side.  



Jo Beverley, Cara Elliott, Joanna Bourne
I've been reading Jo Beverley's books for more than 20 years. Her Company of Rogues and Mallorens are among my all-time favorite romance series but, truth be told, I enjoyed every story that ever bloomed from her creative imagination. She's one of romance fiction's superstars with five RITA awards and a place in the prestigious Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame. 



Anne Gracie, Jo Beverley, Cara Elliott

Jo Beverley was not only a brilliant writer, she was also a lovely, gracious lady who was unfailingly kind to her readers. I had the pleasure of meeting her at RWA conferences over the years. She always greeted me with a smile, ready to sign a book, pose for a photo or just chat a bit.  





Jo Beverley, Joanna Bourne, PJ


Jo's Word Wenches blogging sisters have shared their memories of her today in a special tribute. Click here to read them and also leave a comment sharing thoughts of your own, if you wish.





Do you have a favorite Jo Beverley book or series?  A favorite memory of one of her characters or of the author herself? 







Today's Special - - Joanna Shupe

Photo by Kathryn Huang Photography

It's my pleasure to welcome Joanna Shupe to the Romance Dish today. I'm so excited about her new The Knickerbocker Club series, set in New York City during the Gilded Age, one of my favorite American historical periods. You can read Janga's reviews of TYCOON (a novella) and MAGNATE (first book in the series) here

Joanna Shupe has always loved history, a fact that is clearly evident in her writing. She was the 2013 winner of RWA's Golden Heart® for Best Historical, her first Regency historical, The Courtesan Duchess was nominated as Best First Historical by RT Book Reviews, and The Lady Hellion was named one of the Washington Post's top five romance novels. Joanna can be found online at: Facebook  Twitter.






The Gilded Age vs. The Regency

Thanks for hosting me on The Romance Dish today! I’m excited to be here today to discuss the Gilded Age, which serves as the setting for my new historical romance, MAGNATE.

In Romancelandia, we know all about the Regency. It’s the beloved time in British history of Jane Austen, Byron, and the Prince Regent. Just say the word and we imagine balls, dukes, fancy gowns, and strict social conventions that heroines love to skirt.

Most romance readers are less familiar with the American Gilded Age, a pocket of extreme wealth
and industrialization at the end of the nineteenth century. You might recognize Boss Tweed, Tammany Hall and trust busting from school, which are, in concept, about as interesting as a root canal. But stay with me, because I’m about to blow your mind (I hope).

All that stuff you love about the Regency era? The Gilded Age has it, too. Let’s break it down…

Fashion

In the Regency, English ladies wore elegant gowns with empire waists and long flowing skirts. The Gilded Age had gowns, too, and wealthy American women had oodles of money to spend on the very best, which usually meant dresses designed by the House of Worth, the originators of haute couture as we know it today.

Just search “House of Worth Gowns” on Pinterest. You. Will. Not. Be. Sorry.

 Balls

The Gilded Age had fancy balls, as well as debutantes. And yes, the balls were just as exclusive as the Regency soirees. You might have heard the term “The Four Hundred,” which originated because Mrs. Astor’s ballroom only held four hundred people. Needless to say, this quickly established a list of who’s who in New York society.

With so much money on hand for the Gilded Age’s elite, the balls were extravagant. Want 10,000 butterflies shipped in from Brazil? What about swans floating in a real pond as a centerpiece? Or party favors of gold pencil cases, jewelry, or cash? All of these actually happened.

High Society


In Regency romance, we adore our dukes. And little wonder: the British aristocracy is an exclusive club not many could join. The high society of New York, however, operated in much the same way. No matter how wealthy you were, if your roots couldn’t be traced all the way back to the Dutch settlers of Manhattan, you were too gauche for this crowd.

This was why many of the nouveau riche in America married their daughters off to English noblemen; they couldn’t buy acceptance in society, so they hoped to gain it through a British title.

There are more similarities—from stately mansions and scandals, to class struggles and social upheaval—but one major difference between the two eras are the industrial advances.





The Technology

The Gilded Age had more modern toys, including railroads, the telegraph, and telephones. Even the automobile comes in at the tail end. Thankfully, there were still carriages and horses for those quick romantic rides across town. Have you watched The Age of Innocence, when Daniel Day-Lewis seduces Michelle Pfeiffer in the carriage? Gilded Age hotness!

If you like historical romance, I hope you will give the Gilded Age a try. It’s a fascinating era, and my very favorite.

What’s your favorite historical movie? Comment below with your answer for the chance to win a signed paperback copy of MAGNATE!

******

New York City’s Gilded Age shimmers with unimaginable wealth and glittering power. The men of the Knickerbocker Club know this more than anyone else. But for one millionaire, the business of love is not what he expected…

Born in the slums of Five Points, Emmett Cavanaugh climbed his way to the top of a booming steel empire and now holds court in an opulent Fifth Avenue mansion. His rise in stations, however, has done little to elevate his taste in women. He loathes the city’s “high society” types, but a rebellious and beautiful blue-blood just might change all that.

Elizabeth Sloane’s mind is filled with more than the latest parlor room gossip. Lizzie can play the Stock Exchange as deftly as New York’s most accomplished brokers—but she needs a man to put her skills to use. Emmett reluctantly agrees when the stunning socialite asks him to back her trades and split the profits. But love and business make strange bedfellows, and as their fragile partnership begins to crack, they’ll discover a passion more frenzied than the trading room floor…