Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Review - - His Cowboy Heart

His Cowboy Heart
By Jennifer Ryan
A Montana Men Novel
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: February 21, 2017
Reviewed by PJ

Ford Kendrick has often dreamed of the day that Jamie Keller would come home to Montana. After high school, she needed to leave—and he, duty-bound to rescue his family’s ranch, pushed her to go. The Army made Jamie a hero, but Ford still sees the gorgeous, loving woman who lit up his whole world.
Every day since she left, Jamie has longed for Ford. One glimpse confirms it: the sexy, dangerous-looking cowboy left a hole in her heart that nothing else can fill. Yet the battle scars she bears—inside and out—won’t let her trust anyone enough to get close.
Ford wants to bring Jamie back to the life they dreamed of building. But locked somewhere in her memories is a dark truth that threatens her safety. It’s a battle Ford won’t let her fight alone, not when he’s determined to keep her by his side, now and always…

Since discovering Jennifer Ryan's books two years ago, she has become one of my favorite western contemporary romance authors. Her deeply emotional stories with strong family themes and well-woven threads of suspense never fail to engage my interest and my emotions. 

His Cowboy Heart is the third book in a strong trilogy and, as with the others, these characters burrowed their way into my heart and refused to let go. Ford and Jamie's story is not only a second chance romance; it's also a story of desolation, danger, tentative hope, unconditional love, and one of the most moving, heart-wrenching, and realistic depictions of PTSD that I've read in a romance novel. And, don't worry, there's also a sigh-worthy HEA!

Ford and Jamie are both worthy characters who have more than earned their happy ending. There's so much I could say about them as well as their individual, and joint, journeys but that is a story that's best unveiled page by page - with an open heart and tissues close at hand. I highly recommend His Cowboy Heart along with the first two books in the trilogy, Stone Cold Cowboy (read my review) and Her Renegade Rancher

I'm already counting down the weeks until Ryan introduces her new Montana Heat series featuring, in the first two stories, DEA Special Agents Caden and Beck "Trigger" Cooke whom readers met in Stone Cold Cowboy. Caden's story, Her Dangerous Protector: A Montana Heat Novella will be available June 20 while Beck's story, Escape to You: A Montana Heat Novel will be released August 29. You can bet I'll be getting both!

Have you read any romances with a PTSD storyline? What did you think?

Have you discovered Jennifer Ryan's contemporary western romances yet? Do you have a favorite?

One randomly chosen person who leaves a comment before 11:00 PM (EST), April 28, 2017 will receive a print copy of Her Renegade Rancher and His Cowboy Heart
(U.S. only)

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Today's Special - - Roxanne St. Claire

Hi, everyone! PJ here. I'm delighted to welcome one of my favorite authors, Roxanne "Rocki" St. Claire, to the blog today for a Q&A about her new series and the first book, Sit...Stay...Beg

Anyone who spends time with me quickly learns of my love of rescue dogs, big families, and heartwarming romance. Combine those three into a series of books set in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina and you can count me one very happy reader. After reading Sit...Stay...Beg, I'm all in with The Dogfather (patriarch Daniel Kilcannon) and his goal of seeing each of his children find the kind of love he shared with their mother, his recently deceased wife. Centered around the family's dog rescue and world class training facility, this story brings all the feels. I fell head over heels in love with this family. Once I started reading, I couldn't put the book down and when I finished I wanted to start at the beginning and read it all over again. The canine characters are just as vital to the stories as the human ones with Lola, an Aussie-Border Collie mix, and Garrett and Jessie (the hero and heroine of this book) all capturing my heart with their first joint appearance on the page. How people interact with dogs tells a lot about the type of people they are. Jessie and Garrett are good people, a great match, and worthy of their eventual happy ending. I cheered for them - and Lola - the entire way. If you enjoy a well-crafted, family-centric romance that will tug at your heartstrings and leave you smiling then I highly recommend you pick up a copy of Roxanne St. Claire's Sit...Stay...Beg. I've already marked my calendar for book two, New Leash on Life, scheduled for release May 22. 

Thanks for joining me today, Rocki. I’m so excited about your upcoming The Dogfather series and the first book, Sit…Stay…Beg.

Thank you for inviting me, PJ! You know I’m a fan of the site and so excited to be here to share the news about the series and book!

I’ve seen the covers for the first four books in this series and they feature some very inspiring hero material but I understand these guys aren’t your typical professional cover models. Please tell us about the men who grace your Dogfather covers.

No, these are not professional models – they are just regular guys who posed for a calendar to help raise money for the Alaqua Animal Refuge near Pensacola, Florida. ( On the cover of SIT…STAY…BEG is a man named Louis Petit, and he’s the owner of a wonderful restaurant in Santa Rosa, Florida, called Louis Louis. Don’t ya kind of want to eat there tonight? And that’s Flush, an Aussie-Border Collie mix who was adopted through Alaqua’s amazing rescue program.  That gorgeous creature (the dog, not the guy) is exactly the dog featured in the story, named Lola. And the hero’s hat plays a role, too. That’s his “doggone hat” (as his mother used to call it) and he ONLY wears it on the days he’s delivering a rescue, because the dog has gone to a forever home!

I loved that hat in the book and what it stood for. 

You mentioned above that the men and dogs on your covers came to you via the Alaqua Animal Refuge. Please tell us a bit about the work they do. How will they benefit from the publication of these books?

Yes! I knew I wanted something very different for the covers. Not just a couple with a photo shopped dog, but something that really captured the essence of how rescues and romance come together.  One of my friends said to me, “Rock – hot guys and cute dogs. What else do you need?” I started looking for images and found some from a fund-raising calendar that had been done for Alaqua. Excited that the refuge was in Florida, I contacted the photographer to talk about purchase of the photos for covers. She told me about Alaqua and the work they do there and I instantly knew I wanted to support the facility with donations. A portion of the preorders and first month sales for every book in the series will be donated to Alaqua. It takes almost $80,000 a MONTH to run that facility, which is massive and home to many, many animals. The owner is a doll, and, of course, this is a no-kill shelter. They love animals! And I’m headed up there this summer to shoot more covers for the 2018 books!

That would be a fun road trip! *Grin*

What inspired you to create a series centered around dog rescue?

I love dogs! The whole idea was born out of a T-shirt I bought for my husband that says “The Dogfather” on it because of how he nurtures our furbabies. A friend of mine joked that I should write a series called that so I could put dogs in every book. The idea just blossomed as I thought more and more about it. I have long wanted to write a big family with lots of siblings and cousins, but needed something special to tie them all together. Not just a shared past or a small town (though the series has an adorable fictional setting), I wanted all the characters to work together. That keeps the whole family frequently on the page and I know readers love that. The idea of an elite rescue and training center came to me and then Waterford Farm, the Kilcannon family, the town of Bitter Bark, North Carolina, and a whole new series was born.

The Dogfather is an actual character in the series, Daniel Kilcannon. He’s known as "The Dogfather" for a reason. It's not just his renowned skills as a veterinarian, his tremendous love of dogs, or the fact that he has turned his homestead in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains into a world class dog training and rescue facility. Ask any of his six grown children who run Waterford Farm for him, and they'll tell you that their father's nickname is due to his uncanny ability to pull a few strings to get what he wants. And what he wants is for his four sons and two daughters to find the kind of life-changing love he had with his dearly departed wife, Annie. This old dog has a few new tricks...and he'll use them all to see his pack all settled into their happily ever afters!

How many books will there be in The Dogfather series? Do you have a release schedule for this year?

There will be seven for sure – four this year and three in 2018. After that, we’ll see! The Kilcannon kids have the Mahoney cousins! The tentative release schedule is:

SIT STAY BEG (available now!)
LEADER OF THE PACK (Summer 2017 – exact date TBD)
BAD TO THE BONE (Fall 2017 – exact date TBD)
DOUBLE DOG DARE (Spring 2018)
OLD DOG NEW TRICKS (Summer 2018)

Please tell us about the four-legged family members who share your life. How do they inspire you?

Ginger and Pepper!!! They own my heart and rule my roost! Ginger is a little white and mushroom Shih Tzu, four years old, and such a love. She picks her favorites and, if you’re one of them, she’ll attach to you. She spends most of her days on my office floor, sleeping to the sound of my keyboard.  Pepper is the dog who made a dog lover out of me. Before Pepper, I was a little afraid of dogs and very wary of even touching one. I’d never had a dog growing up (my mother was a tad germophobic, so we had no animals) and I never thought I’d own a dog. Then I had kids and they wanted one. More than that, I could see my son developing my same tendencies toward dogs, like avoiding friends who had big dogs. I didn’t want him to go through life that way, so we got Pepper, an Australian Terrier who looks like a Yorkie on steroids.  And within one day, I was changed by how much I adored that dog. We’ve had Pepper almost twelve years and I love her more than I can express. 

All of the Dogfather books will be dedicated to great dogs I’ve known…and Pepper gets book one.

I can't wait to meet them all!

Congratulations on your 2017 RITA nomination for Barefoot at Midnight. Will you be attending the RWA national conference in Orlando this July?

Thank you! I was over the moon to get that call and thrilled to see one of my “silver fox” heroes nominated for a RITA! You bet I’ll be there – Orlando is an hour from home. It’s a cliché to say, but so true: it is an honor to be nominated for this award. The competition in contemporary romance is fierce and there are so many, many great books published. To have one singled out and nominated is just the most wonderful feeling.

Have we seen the last of your Barefoot Bay characters or is there a chance we’ll see them again down the road?

I doubt I could stay away from Barefoot Bay for too long. But, I wrote 18 titles set on that island and I actually needed a break from the beach. (Who says that, right?) I have planted at least four more silver fox heroes as part of the Barefoot Bay Timeless mini-series and I fully intend to write their stories. And, of course, there are more than 50 books set in Barefoot Bay that are not written by me but are part of the Barefoot Bay Kindle World program. Romance readers never have to leave those sun-drenched sands!

Would you like to add anything else?

Just that I love to connect with readers! You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and, of course, at my web site:  See you there!

Thank you for visiting with us today, Rocki. Would you like to ask our readers a question?

Yes…tell me about your favorite dog! I love getting ideas for great doggie characters and names!

One person who leaves a comment before 11:00 PM, April 26, 2017 will receive a copy of Sit...Stay...Beg from Rocki.

And, because I loved this book so much, a second person will receive a Kindle copy of Sit...Stay...Beg from me! 

The Dogfather Series
Daniel Kilcannon is known as "The Dogfather" for a reason. It's not just his renowned skills as a veterinarian, his tremendous love of dogs, or the fact that he has turned his homestead in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains into a world class dog training and rescue facility. Ask his six grown children who run Waterford Farm for him, and they'll tell you that their father's nickname is due to his uncanny ability to pull a few strings to get what he wants. And what he wantsis for his four sons and two daughters to find the kind of life-changing love he had with his dearly departed wife, Annie. This old dog has a few new tricks...and he'll use them all to see his pack all settled into their happily ever afters!

SIT...STAY...BEG - Book One 

Garrett Kilcannon, a former dot com super-success who now devotes his life to rescuing dogs and finding them homes,prefers to keep his secrets buried as deep as a dog hides his bone. So when Garrett's father pressures him to be interviewed for an in-depth profile, he doesn't care that the journalist is a childhood friend or drop dead gorgeous.He has zero tolerance for the media...until he sees a different side of Jessie Curtis. She manages to breaks through the walls of a rescue dog who has refused to eat. Unwillingly charmed and undeniably attracted, Garrett agrees to the interview that could break down a few of his emotional walls, too.

Garrett might not want to share the story of his colorful former life, but Jessie has the skills to peel back the layers of this sexy, complicated,caring man. In the process, she not only discovers his secrets, she finds herself falling for a man who touches her heart in a way she never thought possible. Jessie's entire career is riding on this one explosive interview, but can she bear to repay Garrett's trust by selling his secrets? Or can a woman who gave up on happiness a long time ago learn to believe that all it takes to rescue a lost heart is the love of a good man? (And a great dog!)

Roxanne St. Claire is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than forty novels of suspense and romance, including the popular Barefoot Bay series, plus multiple stand alone books.
In addition to being an eight-time nominee and one-time winner of the RITA ™ Award, Roxanne’s novels have won the National Reader’s Choice Award for best romantic suspense four times, as well as the Daphne du Maurier Award, the HOLT Medallion, the Maggie, Booksellers Best, Book Buyers Best, the Award of Excellence, and many others. Her books have been translated into dozens of languages and one has been optioned for film.
Roxanne lives in Florida with her husband and two mostly adorable dogs, and still tries to run the lives of her college-aged daughter and 20-something son.  She can be reached via her website, or on her Facebook Reader page, and on Twitter at

Monday, April 24, 2017

Tour Review - - Hard-Hearted Highlander

Hard-Hearted Highlander
By Julia London
Publisher: HQN 
Release Date: April 25, 2017
Reviewed by PJ

An ill-fated elopement cost English-born governess Bernadette Holly her reputation, her unsuitable lover and any chance of a future match. She has nothing left to fear—not even the bitter, dangerously handsome Scot due to marry her young charge. Naive wallflower Avaline is terrified to wed Rabbie Mackenzie, but if he sends her home, she will be ruined. Bernadette's solution: convince Rabbie to get Avaline to cry off…while ignoring her own traitorous attraction to him. 
A forced engagement to an Englishwoman is a hard pill for any Scot to swallow. It's even worse when the fiancée in question is a delicate, foolish young miss—unlike her spirited, quick-witted governess. Sparring with Bernadette brings passion and light back to Rabbie's life after the failed Jacobite uprising. His clan's future depends upon his match to another, but how can any Highlander forsake a love that stirs his heart and soul?

Julia London returns to the Highlands of Scotland and the Mackenzie clan for this third book in her The Highland Grooms series. This book is set during a dark period in Scotland's history when highlanders are grieving their losses from Culloden, Englishmen are grabbing up land and making their presence felt, and clans are struggling to survive. Hard-Hearted Highlander reflects all that with a whole lot of angst.  

Rabbie and Bernadette have some pretty significant emotional baggage that plays out over the course of the book. I understood Bernadette's bitterness over her father's actions, her loyalty to Aveline and her internal conflict over her attraction to Rabbie. I also understood Rabbie's grief and how that impacted his attitude and actions towards others - even if those actions kept me from liking him as much as I wanted to.

London's writing is strong in this book, with a solid plot, good pacing, and characters brought to life through her words. Secondary characters - both likeable and unlikeable - are vividly drawn and keep the story moving along. I especially enjoyed getting to know the hero's sister and brother better and am hoping both Cat and Aulay will have books of their own eventually.

I liked Hard-Hearted Highlander and wanted to love it as much as I loved Sinful Scottish Laird but I didn't, primarily because of one issue. I don't want to give away spoilers so I'll just say there are flashbacks throughout the book that tempered my buy-in of Rabbie and Bernadette's relationship and had me, halfway through the book, hoping the storyline would take a different direction. This may not be an issue for other readers but, for me, this was a case where "tell, don't show" would have worked much better and improved my overall enjoyment of the book.  


Click below for a list of other stops on the Hard-Hearted Highlander tour:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Review - - Rodeo Father & Rodeo Rancher

Rodeo Father
By Mary Sullivan
Rodeo, Montana - Book 1
Publisher: Harlequin Western Romance
Release Date: January 3, 2017

Travis Read never wanted to settle down anywhere—with anyone. He's in Rodeo, Montana, just long enough to fix up a house for his sister and he'll be on his way. Then he meets Rachel McGuire. Beautiful and kind—and with magnetic whiskey-colored eyes—Rachel is everything that Travis could want. Except that Rachel is also very, very pregnant. 
A struggling widowed mom, Rachel wants to give her family the stability she's never had. Travis dashed those hopes by buying her dream house. Okay, she can start over. But she wasn't counting on such a fierce attraction between them. And this cowboy was never meant to settle down…

Rodeo Rancher
By Mary Sullivan
Rodeo, Montana - Book 2
Publisher: Harlequin Western Romance
Release Date: March 1, 2017

Visitors are rare at widower Michael Moreno's Rodeo, Montana, ranch. When Samantha Read and her two sons turn up, seeking shelter in a snowstorm, his kids are ecstatic. Michael is less enthusiastic. Sammy's sophisticated city vibe seems out of place in his country home. But even he can't deny that the bubbly beauty lights up the whole house. 
Though Sammy doesn't know much about ranching, she recognizes an aching heart when she sees one. Michael and his kids could use some cheer, and she's determined to make the most of their time together. But as the heat between Sammy and Michael threatens to melt the snow, Sammy wonders if Michael's heart could be thawing, as well... 

I've been a fan of Harlequin romances for years but didn't discover Mary Sullivan until last spring. It only took that one book (Cody's Come Home - Harlequin Superromance) to move her from unknown author to Harlequin auto-buy. This year, Sullivan moves to the Harlequin Western Romance line with her new Rodeo, Montana series, a collection of stories about the hardworking people in a small Montana town that will tug at your heartstrings and leave you smiling. Each of the first two books can stand on its own but, as part of Samantha's story is told by Travis in Rodeo Father and the ramifications play out in Samantha's book, Rodeo Rancher, I think readers will have a clearer understanding of events and a richer appreciation of Samantha's story if they read the books in order. 

In Rodeo Father, Sullivan pairs a kind, caring man who, because of his childhood, doesn't believe he's cut out to be a family man, with a struggling widow who has an adorable three-year-old daughter and another baby on the way. I loved these characters. Neither Rachel nor Travis has had an easy life but neither is wallowing in self-pity. This is especially true for Rachel who, because of her circumstances, certainly would be justified in a good melt-down. Both are good, caring people who put others before themselves. Their actions speak louder than words and show their true character. Though Travis could have easily become the knight-in-shining-armor rescuer of the story, Sullivan keeps these two on an even keel with "rescuing" on both sides which it made it all the more enjoyable and satisfying in the end. It should be noted that I'm a pushover for adorable kids and Rachel's daughter is one of the best. She plays a vital role in this story, capturing many hearts, mine included. 

Samantha "Sammy" Read, the heroine of Rodeo Rancher and sister of Travis Read (Rodeo Father) has a zest for life and a penchant for landing in trouble. After blowing the whistle on her crooked boss who swore retribution, Samantha and her sons left Las Vegas and are on their way to the home her brother bought for them in Montana. Sammy's showgirl looks may give people the wrong first impression but this whip-smart woman has a caring heart, a quirky sense of humor, and will do anything to keep her sons' safe and happy. When she sweeps into Michael's home in the middle of a blizzard, the poor man doesn't stand a chance.

Michael Moreno is a hard-working rancher struggling to move forward after the death of his beloved wife. He's a loving father whose children mean the world to him but the joy left his life - and consequently, his children's lives - when his wife died. Sammy is like a breath of spring air, bringing light and laughter to a colorless existence. Sullivan does an outstanding job of showing the push and pull of a man frozen in grief and a woman hesitant to hand her heart over after having it broken then spices it up with four realistically crafted, steal-your-heart children who bring their own issues to the table. Sammy breathes life, hope, and fun into the hearts of Michael and his children but he returns the favor by by bringing love and stability to Sammy and her sons and helping them heal the hurts of the past. I cheered for this couple and this family every step of the way. These are people who deserve love and happiness. I appreciate the gradual hand Sullivan took with their relationship. It's realistic, with steps forward and back, and, just like Sammy, left me singing a happy tune at the end. 

Mary Sullivan's next book, Rodeo Baby publishes on July 1. I already have it on pre-order and am looking forward to my next visit to Rodeo, Montana! 

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Review - - Into the Fire

Into the Fire
By Jeaniene Frost
Publisher: Avon Books
Release Date: February 28, 2017
Reviewed by Nancy Northcott

Into The Fire is the fourth and final novel in Jeaniene Frost’s Night Prince series.  While the book can be read standing alone, the emotional conflicts will have more resonance after reading the earlier books.  This review is written with deliberate avoidance of spoilers for the earlier books.

The series hero is Vlad Tepesch, the vampire who inspired the Dracula legend and really, really hates to have that mentioned.  He has similar abilities to the vampires in Frost’s Night Huntress series, with a bonus.  Vlad can wield fire as a weapon. 

Leila, the series heroine, has paranormal abilities.  She can channel electricity, which isn’t always a plus because she has electrical current building in her system all the time and must release it periodically.  In addition, she can read anyone’s deepest secret at a touch and can pull psychic impressions from objects. 

Leila and Vlad meet in the first book, Once Burned, after vampires kidnap her and force her to use her psychic abilities to locate Vlad by touching objects.  Leila succeeds, but an unexpected mental connection forms between her and Vlad.  He then comes to rescue her.

At the beginning of Into the Fire, enemies of Vlad have realized that Leila is psychically linked to his stepson, Mircea.  Anything that happens to him happens to her, and vice-versa.  When his captors carve a blackmail demand into Mircea’s flesh, identical wounds appear on Leila, a demand for Vlad to do their bidding.

The rest of the book revolves around the hunt for Mircea and his captors.  Mircea is a necromancer.  Finding him requires moving among the magically gifted, people against whom Leila’s and Vlad’s abilities are of little use.  Their guide in this world is Ian, a flirty vampire with magical gifts he keeps secret because magic is forbidden to vampires.

The quest to find Mircea involves a lot of action and firepower, but its emotional heart is Leila and Vlad’s shared fear of losing each other.  Leila also fears what Vlad may have to do to save her, especially when she learns that Mircea’s captors are demanding that Vlad kill someone very close to them both and to Ian.

Horrified by the way Vlad responds to this demand, Ian makes a terrible bargain with a demon named Dagon, who has sought Ian’s soul for a very long time. This costly bargain, however, does nothing to locate Mircea.

The key to finding him and his captors lies in learning the truth about Leila’s heritage, which has been a bit of a mystery through the series.  Why did coming in contact with a power line give her these abilities? What other abilities does she have?  The answers aren’t always pretty.

Nothing comes easily in the Night Prince world, and everything has a cost.  That’s one reason the books are so gripping.  If no one were ever in true danger, the suspense for the reader would be minimal at best.

The book ends by wrapping up some other issues that have persisted through the series.  It closes with Vlad and Leila in a scene that provides a very satisfying farewell to this fictional world.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Winner - - Tracy Brogan

The randomly chosen winner of a set of

Tracy Brogan's Bell Harbor books is:

Lisa W


Please send your full name and mailing address to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

U.S. addresses only

Winner - - Lenora Bell

The randomly chosen winner of 

Lenora Bell's Disgraceful Dukes books 
and a chocolate treat is:



Please send your full name and mailing address to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

Winner: Susan Mallery Tulips

The randomly chosen winner of a beautiful 

bouquet of tulips from Susan Mallery is:



Please send the following information to
 theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com:

Your full name and phone number

The name and mailing address of 
the person you want to receive the tulips

Today's Special - - Nancy Herkness

It's my pleasure to welcome Nancy Herkness back to The Romance Dish! Nancy is the author of the award-winning Wager of Hearts and Whisper Horse series, published by Montlake Romance, as well as several other contemporary romance novels.  She is a two-time nominee for the Romance Writers of America’s RITA® award.

Nancy is a member of Romance Writers of America, New Jersey Romance Writers, and Novelists, Inc. She has received many honors for her work, including the Book Buyers Best Top Pick, the New England Readers’ Choice award, and the National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award.  She graduated from Princeton University with a degree in English literature and creative writing.

A native of West Virginia, Nancy now lives in suburban New Jersey with her husband, two mismatched dogs, and an elderly cat. 

For more information about Nancy and her books, visit Visit with her online at: 

Welcome back, Nancy! It’s always a pleasure to host you. I have thoroughly enjoyed each of the stories in your Wager of Hearts trilogy. Please share with our readers what they should expect from these three books.

PJ, it’s ever and always a delight to be your guest on the Romance Dish. You ask the best questions.

I love my Wager of Hearts billionaires, so it makes me sad that The VIP Doubles Down is the last book in the series. Of course, my next series is set in New York and also features ultra-wealthy heroes which means there’s a good chance that some cameo appearances will occur.

What to expect? My three self-made billionaires—a CEO, a quarterback, and a bestselling author--meet in the bar of an exclusive New York club and discover a common problem: money gets in the way of love. So they make a bet on finding the women who can love them for themselves and not all the trappings of their wealth. Each book traces one man’s journey of the heart. I take readers into the world of the hyper rich: mansions, penthouses, private jets, glamorous parties, designer clothes, and fast cars. All these things could easily dazzle my working girl heroines, but they are well-grounded, fiercely independent women who see past the sparkly package to the men who need their love and understanding to be whole.

The third book, The VIP Doubles Down was released April 18
and I have to say, Gavin’s story was well worth the wait. What would you like readers to understand about this brooding author hero?

I am delighted to hear that you enjoyed The VIP Doubles Down. It’s a book of my heart.

Gavin covers his pain with his biting wit. The truth is that he’s quite sensitive underneath all the snark. He has a lot of issues from his past that could have turned him into a bitter man; instead he has channeled his desire to escape into a hugely successful career as a writer of spy novels. But it’s lonely at the top and he needs the warmth and healing of Allie, his new physical therapist.

As with the previous two heroines in this series, Allie’s life is so far removed from Gavin’s billionaire lifestyle, they may as well be from different planets. What qualities does she possess that convinced you she would be the right heroine for Gavin?

Gavin has many wounds and Allie is a healer by nature. She’s also warm, generous, and without pretension. His former fiancée, the actress Irene Bartram, was none of those things, so Allie makes a wonderful antidote to the poison Irene poured over Gavin’s heart. But Allie is no pushover; she calls on her country-girl strength to stand up to Gavin’s strong personality when he tries to walk over her. As a result, sparks often fly between them.

Pundits often advise people to “write what you know.” I’m curious. As an author, were there any unique challenges in creating a fictional author as the hero of this book?

Quite the opposite. I understood Gavin’s problems so well that the book just flew from my madly typing fingertips. I love the way he uses words to mask his wounds and vulnerabilities. In Luke’s book, The All-Star Antes Up, when I revealed that Gavin is a romantic at heart, some readers were surprised, but I knew it all along, of course. For some reason, the third books in my trilogies seem to gravitate toward darker heroes and deeper emotional issues, and Gavin is no exception. But I love my tortured heroes the most because they make me cry, first with sadness and then with joy when they find the soulmate who will heal them.

Readers of your Whisper Horse series will no doubt enjoy the crossover characters in The VIP Doubles Down while others, like me, who haven’t read those books yet will likely be intrigued and want to know more about Sanctuary, West Virginia and the fictional characters who live there.  What should readers new to the Whisper Horse series expect from those stories? Do you plan more crossover characters for future books?

I’ve become addicted to crossover characters. Even in my earlier standalone books, I have the main characters from A Bridge to Love show up for cameo appearances in Shower of Stars and Music of the Night. When I fall in love with characters, I just can’t let them go. In fact, I’m working on the first full-length novel in my new Second Glances series, and I’ve already written a scene between the hero and Nathan Trainor from The CEO Buys In. It even takes place at the Bellwether Club. I didn’t plan for it; it just popped into my writer’s brain.

The Whisper Horse novels spring from a different part of my life: my childhood in a small town in the mountains of West Virginia. During those years, my pony, Papoose, was my best friend and confidante, giving me the idea of every person needing a special “whisper horse” who helps share the burden of their problems. I would whisper my teenage angst into Papoose’s ear and feel better for doing it.

Tim and Claire, who make the brief appearance in The VIP Doubles Down, are from the first Whisper Horse book, Take Me Home. The Whisper Horse novels are titled with phrases from Almost Heaven, the famous John Denver song about my mountain state, because the setting is integral to the stories.

Allie may be meeting Gavin for the first time when she accepts a position as his physical therapist but she’s no stranger to his dashing fictional hero, Julian Best. In fact, Julian has starred in many of her dreams and fantasies. Have you ever had a book boyfriend? What made him stand out above all the others?

True confession: I’m a bit fickle in my book boyfriends. I’ve had many. The first was Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre. I melted over his dark, brooding edge of mystery. Then Mr. Darcy. No explanation necessary. I adore Lord Damerel and the Marquis of Vidal in Georgette Heyer’s Regency romances. Both are untamed rakes with that delicious hint of dissipation. There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing the heroine bring them to their knees. Damerel and Venetia trade literary quotations which utterly delights me. The Marquis of Vidal is a very bad boy, who still makes me sigh. For more modern heroes, I’m still madly in love with Dan Calebow in Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ It Had to Be You. He might have fed into my creation of Luke Archer in The All-Star Antes Up. There’s something about the drive and discipline required to be an elite-level athlete that makes my pulses race. Not to mention their perfectly honed bodies. Sad to say, I could go on, but I’ve proved my point: I love the one I’m with.

Allie’s pet cat in this story is inspired by a very special real-life feline who shares your life. Please tell us about Pie.

Ah, Pie, the cat who came for Christmas…and stayed. Let me preface this story by saying that I already had two dogs. I did not need a cat. Pie, however, had other ideas.

My daughter, Rebecca (who is now a veterinary student at Iowa State), worked at a homeless cat shelter in Pittsburgh where she found Pie, the little gray cat whom no one would adopt because she had multiple health issues and didn’t get along with other cats. She had nearly been euthanized because of that.

Pie was no dummy. She curried my daughter’s favor by greeting her with loud, enthusiastic meows, purring every time she was touched, and showing a decided preference for her company. Pretty soon Pie had moved into Rebecca’s apartment as a foster until someone was found to give her a permanent home.

When my daughter came home for Christmas, of necessity, Pie came with her…only for the holidays. When Rebecca returned to Pittsburgh after the holidays, Pie somehow remained behind. And thus their goal was achieved: Pie found a forever home.

Pie is the perfect illustration of a profound truth: Sometimes we don’t know what’s missing from our lives until the universe sends it our way. She has brought unexpected joy and love and comfort into my life. Since Gavin in The VIP Doubles Down is a writer like me, I decided he needed a cat too, even though he didn’t know it. So Pie found her way into his story.

The sad news is that Pie was recently diagnosed with a very aggressive form of breast cancer. She’s an elderly lady and has been through three surgeries in the last year. Our vet says that another surgery would kill her, so the cancer will win this time. Right now Pie is doing fine, and I treasure my time with her, whether petting her or having her curled up on my lap or basking in the spring sunshine on our back patio.

I loved the concept of the Barefoot Ball that all three couples attend in The VIP Doubles Down. Was this a product of your imagination or fashioned after an actual event? What’s the most unique event you’ve attended?  

The Barefoot Ball is entirely imaginary. I love the feel of cool, soft sand on my bare feet, so it popped into my head to require all these fancy folks in their ball gowns and tuxedos to go barefoot on the beach in the middle of winter. Of course, there are giant heaters but the sand will still be chilled and delicious on their soles.

As for a very fancy real event, I once attended a private party at the Metropolitan Museum of Art when the Edgar Degas exhibit was there (which dates me, alas). When I walked into the grand entrance of the museum, the first sight that met my eyes were actual ballerinas dressed in costumes from the Degas paintings posing on the grand staircase to the music of a live orchestra. I was escorted to the Temple of Dendur for hors d’oeuvres, proceeded to the American Wing for dinner, and then toured the exhibit with only the party guests, no public crowds. As I departed, I received a goody bag containing gourmet chocolates and notecards printed with Degas’ paintings. That was an evening to remember!

Gavin’s bestselling books have been made into enormously successful movies. Which of your books would you most like to see on the big screen? Any thoughts on which actors you would want to portray the leads?

I think all of my books would make great movies, of course. However, I understand that movies need less internalization and more action, so I would choose Shower of Stars (one of my standalone novels) or The Place I Belong (the third Whisper Horse novel) for a movie script. Both offer plenty of external events to hang the visuals on, but they also offer strong emotional scenes for a really good actor to sink his teeth into.

I love casting the heroes of my books; I seem to be less picky about the heroines. I see Colin Farrell as Jack Lanett in Shower of Stars; he has that edge of danger that Jack projects, as well as a dark brooding presence. We’d have to change his accent from Irish to Deep South but I’m sure Colin could manage that.

For Adam Bosch, the world-class chef and restaurateur in The Place I Belong, I would cast Hugh Jackman. He has that smooth, charming façade, but there are depths to plumb there. Adam could even be turned into an Aussie for the movie because I love Hugh’s accent. And a few other things about him.

What’s next?

I’m just proofreading the kick-off story for my new Second Glances series, a novella titled Second to None. The new series combines billionaires, New York City, children, dogs, and second chance love stories…all  my favorite things!  Second to None will be released September 12th. It’s set at Christmas time, too. Below is the story summary…and your readers are the first ones to see this!

Billionaire chemist Max Varela is selling his company and leaving New York for good when Emily Wade bursts into his office, desperate for his help in funding her program for disadvantaged kids and shelter dogs. Seven years ago, he fell in love with her when she was married to another man. To fight the unbidden attraction, he cut off all contact but he’s never forgotten her.

Ever since her husband died, Emily has poured her heart and soul into the after-school care center. Seeing Max reawakens the pain of her loss, but it also brings unexpected hope for the future. As emotions thought long gone resurface, they begin a passionate affair that seems destined for a fairytale ending.

Until Max reveals that he’s moving to Chicago in a matter of weeks and wants Emily to uproot her daughter and her life to come with him. If a second chance at love is possible, someone’s got to give.

Thank you for sharing us! I'm off to mark the date!

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

I will be at RWA’s “Readers for Life” Literacy Autographing on July 29th from 3:00 – 5:00 at Disney’s Swan and Dolphin Resort. I am also the luncheon keynote speaker at the New Jersey Romance Writer’s “Put Your Heart in a Book” conference on October 14th in Iselin, NJ. Hmm, I need to get out more.

Thanks for visiting with us today, Nancy. Would you like to ask our readers a question?

I have so many questions for readers, but today I’ll ask: How much does a book’s cover affect your decision about whether to buy it or not? (I’m asking this because I love, love, love the cover of The VIP Doubles Down.)

Two randomly chosen people who leave a comment before 11:00 PM (EST), April 22, 2017 will each receive an autographed copy of The VIP Doubles Down. (U.S. only) 

Gavin Miller, the billionaire author of a bestselling thriller series, struggles with a grim secret: he hasn’t written a word in more than a year.

Writer’s block is killing his spirit and jeopardizing his contracts with his publisher and his Hollywood producers. Prodded by his agent, Gavin reluctantly agrees to see Allie Nichols, a sassy physical therapist tasked with treating the novelist’s severe neck and shoulder pain—and maybe his writer’s block, too.
The tempestuous Gavin and no-nonsense Allie soon find themselves entangled in a steamy affair that sparks Gavin’s creativity again. But their manipulative ex-lovers and Gavin’s lingering childhood scars threaten their happily ever after. Can Gavin and Allie find their way to love when the stakes are high and the obstacles are overwhelming?