Monday, March 19, 2018

Review - - A Princess in Theory

A Princess in Theory
By Alyssa Cole
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: February 27, 2018
Reviewed by Hellie

So if you know me at all, you know I'm a little Royal-Mad, as in when Will and Kate got married, I stayed home and watched, even though my family hasn't been a member of the crown since 1776. I have a special place for the commoner who marries the prince. Some fan-readers are die hard secret baby people, but I'm all about the royalty. Imagine my complete fan-girling glee then when I found a book (who knew those Facebook sponsored ads were actually working?) that had all the things I loved: a strong, smart, sarcastic heroine; a hot and articulate prince; and a hilarious case of mistaken identity.

The first page is an email sent to our heroine, which reads like the most cliched of chain letter scam emails from a Nigerian prince who needs a million dollars, and I was hooked. And then there's our original world with Naledi Smith, who is a grad student working to be a scientist to cure infectious diseases, and her interaction with a coworker is a textbook example of the #MeToo movement and
Lean In. It would be hilarious if it weren't just so, so real. I bought the book immediately so I could keep reading. I was so glad I did.

When Naledi finally does respond to that string of scammer Nigerian-esque prince emails with a succinct "Fuck. Off.," her prince in waiting laughs and insists on meeting her in person. Prince Thabiso of Thesolo confronts Naledi, his childhood betrothed who has been missing for twenty years, and is mistaken for a commoner--the new hired staff at the restaurant where Naledi works when she isn't studying. Instead of correcting her, he is intrigued about the possibility of getting to know his absentee bride without the trappings his royal prestige affords him. How will he know for sure if she likes him if she's only fawning over him because he's rich and powerful?

Not to worry. Naledi doesn't like him at all. Oh, she's inexplicable attracted him, which she doesn't have time to think about and is causing her a bit of worry because this. never. happens. It much be his accent. (I hear you, Naledi.) But Jamal--as she knows Prince Thabiso-- is just a fuckboy who is here to screw with her and frankly she doesn't have that kind of time. But Jamal isn't easy to get rid of, not even when she fired him for being the worst server ever. No, no, somehow he manages to be in her life and is worming his way into her heart like some sort of parasite. In fact, she might start to admit she does like him, even as he keeps hemming and hawing that he has something to tell her. Something important.

When Naledi does finally learn Jamal is actually Prince Thabiso; and that she is actually Thabiso's fianceé and a long lost child of Thesolo, not just an orphaned, unwanted, foster kid of New York, she is livid. She already had trust issues; Thabiso did not help his case. When Naledi is convinced to travel back to Thesolo in order to do research on a new mysterious disease that is harming many of the people, she will be able to do her job without letting her heart get involved with the one man who can hurt her above anyone else? And will Thabiso be able to atone for his deception and convince Naledi she is the only woman for him? 

You guys, this book has become my measuring stick for contemporary romances, and here's some of the reasons why:

1) Consent is sexy. He asks for consent. He doesn't assume. Mind  you, I usually enjoy romances where the hero is kissing without asking, but Cole makes me question why I think that's sexy. This was romantic and sexy without feeling weak.

2) Smart is sexy. Granted, not every heroine can be a scientist, but there is something to be said for having your characters passionate for something that they know a lot about. So much so that their identity is wrapped up in it and their speech, mannerisms, et al, conveys it. Naledi thinks science. When she metaphors, it's in science metaphors. When she jokes, it's science jokes. Her essence speaks in science and it's powerful to read a character so dimensionally drawn on the page. The same is true for Thabiso. He's grown up a prince of Africa, so many of this thoughts, words, references are about the place he grew up. The contrast of the experiences between these characters is so well defined, it should be a textbook example for writing.

3) Safe sex is never tampered with. Cole should get an award for this alone. Even though Naledi makes mention of having backup birth control, both she and Thabiso make sure to use condoms. Because it is the RESPONSIBLE thing to do in this day and age. It's not a big deal in the book; and there is even a brief sentence of disposing of the condom after. Again, not a big deal...and yet in many contemporaries I read, condoms are skipped with a side line that she is on the pill or something. That is not the only thing condoms are for, just saying.

4) Equality and respect are sexy. Even though he was a future ruler of an entire country, he never treated Naledi as if she were second to him. She was a partner in every way; her intelligence and fierceness were the things he loved most about her. Granted many romance novels have heroes that show this, but at no point in this book did he throw her under the bus to save himself or make her look bad. He always defended her and upheld her attributes.

5) Learning from each other is sexy. The flaws in these characters were the kind that are "too much of a good thing"--where at the surface you don't see them as flaws until you see what it's preventing the characters from doing or being. Naledi won't let anyone close, won't let anyone help her. She's self-sufficient, self-reliant, and it's only when working with Thabiso as he says, "You don't delegate enough" that she begins to question if part of the reason people take advantage of her is because they assume she'll do it all. Again, I just wanted to reread just to figure out how to do this in my writing.  

I kept reading parts of the book to my coworker: "Listen omg, this is hilarious!"--this along would make me recommend the book. So if you're looking for a good book to read, it definitely meets that mark. If you write or want to write, I recommend reading this book to pull apart to see what good writing and character development is. I cannot wait until the next book comes out, about Naledi's friend Portia, although I hope in the future, we get to hear of a happily ever after for Prince Thabiso's assistant, Likotsi.

I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Winner - - Twins for the Rancher

The randomly chosen winner of a print copy of

Twins for the Rancher by Trish Milburn is:



Please send your full name and mailing address to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

Winner - - We Own the Sky

The randomly chosen winner of a print copy of

We Own the Sky by Luke Allnutt is:



Please send your full name and mailing address to

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

Winner - - Surrender My Heart

The randomly chosen winner of a digital copy of

Surrender My Heart by L.G. O'Connor is:

Pamela Devereux


Please send your email address and choice of format to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

Friday, March 16, 2018

Today's Special - - Review, Q&A, and Giveaway: The Companion's Secret

The Companion's Secret
By Susanna Craig
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Release Date: April 3, 2018
Reviewed by PJ

They call him Lord Ash, for his desires burn hot and leave devastation in their wake. But Gabriel Finch, Marquess of Ashborough, knows the fortune he’s made at the card table won’t be enough to save his family estate. For that he needs a bride with a sterling reputation to distract from his tarnished past, a woman who’ll be proof against the fires of his dark passion. Fate deals him the perfect lady. So why can’t Gabriel keep his eyes from wandering to her outspoken, infuriatingly independent Irish cousin?
Camellia Burke came to London as her aunt’s companion, and she’s brought a secret with her: she’s written a scandalous novel. Now, her publisher demands that she make her fictional villain more realistic. Who better than the notorious Lord Ash as a model? Duty-bound to prevent her cousin from making a disastrous match, Cami never meant to gamble her own heart away. But when she’s called home, Ash follows. And though they’re surrounded by the flames of Rebellion, the sparks between them may be the most dangerous of all…

I enjoy a good plot-driven romance in the books I read but what really pulls me in and holds me are the characters. Give me complex characters who engage my interest and my emotions and I'll keep coming back for more. That's a key reason why I've been a fan of Susanna Craig's stories since reading her debut, To Kiss a Thief, two years ago. In The Companion's Secret, Craig has crafted a hero and heroine in Gabriel and Camellia who captured my interest immediately and held it throughout their story. There's depth and honor in both of them even though circumstances throughout the years have caused Gabriel to bury his goodness deep inside and let society see what they expect from him. Gabriel's best friend, Christopher Fox and Camellia's cousin, Lady Felicity are well-rounded secondary characters who add an extra layer of complexity to the story. I especially enjoyed the ways in which Felicity moves the story forward, both for herself as well as Gabriel and Camellia. All of the main characters in this book - both good and bad - are brought to life on the pages, creating a strong emotional response from this reader.  

Of course, it's not only about her realistic and relatable characters. Craig also has the ability to craft engaging, Georgian-era stories with well-researched historical - and geographical - accuracy that keep me reading late into the night. When I begin one of her books, I can count on characters that speak to my heart, a story that engages my emotions, and a history lesson that doesn't feel like one. It is any wonder that I eagerly anticipate each new book from this talented author?

I thoroughly enjoyed The Companion's Secret and am already looking forward to Camellia's siblings' stories in the next two books of Susanna Craig's Rogues and Rebels series.

If you have not yet read Craig's first trilogy, all three books are currently on sale at reduced prices for digital format. Check the blog's right side-bar for purchase links. 


Welcome to The Romance Dish, Susanna!

It’s great to be here, PJ! Thanks for having me.

The Companion’s Secret launches your new Rogues and Rebels series (I've already read it twice and loved it). What should readers expect from this series? What can you share about future books in the series and when do you expect them to be published?

The Rogues and Rebels series follows the adventures of the Dublin-born Burke siblings. Love is the last thing they’re looking for—particularly not with someone who’s English—so of course, that’s exactly what they find! I’ve just finished the second book, The Duke’s Suspicion, in which younger sister Erica Burke, a botanist, finds herself trapped by a storm with Major Tristan Laurens, the unexpected heir to a dukedom, who mistakes her for a spy. That story will be out in December 2018. The third book, eldest brother Paris’s story, will be available in 2019; I’m still in search of the perfect title.

Oh, good! I was so hoping Paris would have a story and the sneak peek at Erica's story (at the end of The Companion's Secret) already has me excited for book two! 

This book is set in England and Ireland during the late Georgian era. What is it about this period of history that compelled you to set your story there?

I like to think of the 1790s as a “rough around the edges” version of
the Regency, a slight twist on a period that’s familiar to a lot of historical romance readers. It’s the decade in which Austen wrote (and set) Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice and Northanger Abbey. And when I think about what’s happening in her early books—war and riots and social upheaval are always at the margins, characters’ emotions and passions run high, Gothic novels are wildly popular—I see a lot of possibilities for the stories I want to tell. The Rogues and Rebels series takes place during the years surrounding the 1798 Rebellion in Ireland, which leads directly to the 1800 Act of Union, joining Ireland to Great Britain to form the United Kingdom. Believe it or not, contemporaries described it as a “marriage,” although if it was, I’d say it was definitely an enemies-to-lovers romance!

The dogs in this book were some of my favorite secondary characters. Do you share your life with any four-legged family members? Were any of them used as inspiration for the canine characters in your book?

Right now my only four-legged companion is a ridiculously fluffy torti cat named Nutmeg who resents every moment I spend at the computer. But I grew up around dogs on our family farm and I’m sure they have influenced the dogs that inhabit my stories. Pets are such an important part of many of our lives today that it seems only natural to make them part of my characters’ lives too.

I loved the scenes where Camellia reads her novel to Gabriel. What were the challenges in writing a novel written by your heroine within the novel written by you? 

Those scenes were a lot of fun to write! I wanted Cami’s writing “voice” to be different from my own, so I thought a lot about the style of novels actually written in the late eighteenth century—as an English professor with a specialty in the literature of the British Romantic period (1780-1830), I have plenty of experience with such books! In particular, I used the work of Sydney Owenson and Maria Edgeworth, two Irish novelists of that period, as models for the kind of book I imagined her writing.

There’s a strong Irish connection in The Companion’s Secret and St. Patrick’s Day is almost upon us. How do you celebrate the holiday? Do you have Irish ancestry? Do you love corned beef and cabbage as much as I do? 😉

Though I do not have Irish ancestry, I claim honorary status because I was born on St. Patrick’s Day! So it’s always a dual celebration at our house, and this year we’re also having my daughter’s 8th birthday party on that day, so you know it’ll be the craic! Though it’s not necessarily traditional St. Patrick’s Day fare, my favorite Irish meal is stew and soda bread.

What was your favorite scene to write in this book? What was the most difficult?

The banter between Cami and Gabriel was so much fun—they’re both quick-witted characters who speak their minds. Have you ever experienced the agony of thinking of the perfect thing to say 10 minutes too late? One of the best parts about being a writer is that your characters never have to suffer through that! They always come up with the perfect line at the perfect time. (Never mind how long the writer had to struggle…) Sometimes, however, a character’s sharp retorts and sardonic smiles hide something painful in his past. The most difficult scene to write in this book was definitely when Gabriel tells Cami about his childhood.

I loved the banter between these two! The scene where Gabriel reveals the secrets of his childhood had me in tears. It may have been your most difficult to write but you certainly did it justice. 

Spring Break is almost upon us. If money and time were no issue, where in the world would you choose to spend your break and what would you most want to see/do while there?

Good question! Right now I think my ideal vacation, wherever it took place, would involve lots of peace and quiet and naps! And when I was fully rested, who knows? My daughter is lobbying for Harry Potter World and I have to say that sounds like fun!

Thank you for answering my questions, Susanna. Do you have anything else to add? Would you like to ask our readers a question?

Thanks again for having me! Since you mentioned St. Patrick’s Day, which is tomorrow, I was hoping readers would share their favorite “minor” holiday and tell us how they celebrate.

Giveaway: Your choice of a signed copy of The Companion’s Secret (US only) or the entire Runaway Desires series AND The Companion’s Secret in e-book. Winner will be randomly chosen from all comments posted before 11:00 PM (Eastern), March 18.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

On Second Thought - - Wicked Wyckerly

Wicked Wyckerly
By Patricia Rice
Publisher: Signet
Release Date: July 6, 2010
Reviewed by Janga

John Fitzhugh Wyckerly is the younger son of a drunken, irresponsible earl who has mostly ignored his spare. Fitz, a mathematical genius with an interest in insects, has used math skills to support himself through gambling and stayed out of the orbit of his father and older brother since he left home at seventeen. But when his brother breaks his neck in a drunken fall shortly after inheriting the title, Fitz finds himself the seventh Earl of Danecroft, heir to a crumbling estate, overwhelming debt, and creditors eager to see someone suffer for their losses. Fitz’s sole resource is a stallion he won in a bet. On his way to collect that resource, he also collects his six-year-old illegitimate daughter, Penelope, whose unruly behavior gets them tossed off the stagecoach. Fitz is in desperate need of an heiress to wed.

Abigail Meriweather, daughter of a magistrate, owns the small farm that had been part of her mother’s dowry. After the deaths of her stepmother and father, she had been content to run the small holding and care for her four half-siblings: Tommy, 10; Jennie, 6; and twins Cissy and Jeremy, 3. But her father’s solicitor decided the children needed male guidance and had them sent away to a childless couple who would act as their guardians. Abby has vainly petitioned a distant relative, a marquess, for help, but in the face of his silence, she has decided that her only hope of reclaiming custody of her young siblings is to find a wealthy, influential husband.

When Fitz and his daughter are dumped almost on Abby’s doorstep, she offers them shelter despite her misgivings. Young Penny quickly wins her heart, and Abby and Fitz, both determined to ignore the attraction between them, are beginning to become friends. That budding friendship is tested when the widow of the silent marquess shows up and Abby learns that Fitz is an earl. The marchioness plans to dower Abby and take her to London to find a husband, thus enabling her to insist on the return of her siblings. Fitz and Penny follow them to London where Fitz finds fault with all the candidates for Abby’s hand. Practicality and the marchioness say Abby and Fitz are all wrong for each other, but their hearts carry a different message.

This first book in Rice’s Rebellious Sons series was named one of Booklist’s Top Ten romances of 2010 and included in an impressive field of Rita finalists for Best Regency Historical in 2011. It is one of my all-time favorite Regency-set historicals. Abby is a delight with a strong will and a tender heart, but it is Fitz who makes the book for me. He has none of the arrogance so often found in romance heroes.  In fact, he has quite an humble view of himself. He also has some memorable lines about heroic expectations.

“We are not all of us born heroes, I fear. Women expect us to be wealthy and well-mannered and sophisticated. To be witty and thoughtful and honest. To be tender to children, loving to spouses and parents, and tough to bullies. Veritable saints, but...” He slanted her a look. “Pardon my bluntness, but women also expect us to be exciting, mysterious devils in the bedroom. Perhaps a contradiction?”

The children are mischievous, vulnerable, and endearing. The financial problems Fitz faces are real, and Rice does not trivialize them. The relationship between Fitz and Penny and between Abby and her siblings and the relationship Abby develops with Penny and Fitz with the young Meriweathers are important and believable. Another of the best things about the book is that there is no fairy tale solution to the burden that Fitz inherited. There is hope, but the resolution falls within the bounds of reason. Best of all, the reader is left with the happy conviction that Abby, Fitz, Tommy, Jennie, Penny, Cissy, and Jeremy will live and love together in familial harmony that will doubtless gain from new additions over the next few years.

I sound one note of caution. If you are a reader who dislikes children in romance novels, you will want to give Wicked Wyckerly a pass. But if you like romance that is humorous and substantive, romantic and real, I highly recommend this book. I just read it for the fourth time, and this time I am following the reread with rereads of the other three books in the series: The Devilish Montague, Notorious Atherton, Formidable Lord Quentin. All are good, but The Wicked Wyckerly is the best.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Today's Special - - We Own the Sky Excerpt & Giveaway

We Own the Sky
By Luke Allnutt
Publisher: Park Row / Harlequin
Release Date: April 3, 2018

Rob Coates feels like he’s won the lottery of life. There is Anna, his incredible wife, their London town house and, most precious of all, Jack, their son, who makes every day an extraordinary adventure. But when a devastating illness befalls his family, Rob’s world begins to unravel. Suddenly finding himself alone, Rob seeks solace in photographing the skyscrapers and clifftops he and his son Jack used to visit. And just when it seems that all hope is lost, Rob embarks on the most unforgettable of journeys to find his way back to life, and forgiveness. 

We Own the Sky is a tender, heartrending, but ultimately life-affirming novel that will resonate deeply with anyone who has suffered loss or experienced great love. With stunning eloquence and acumen, Luke Allnutt has penned a soaring debut and a true testament to the power of love, showing how even the most thoroughly broken heart can learn to beat again.

We Own the Sky

“You okay?”
“What? Yes, fine,” I say, taking a sip of my pint.
“You were miles away.”
“Oh, sorry.”
She doesn’t say anything and drinks half of her rum and Coke and shakes the ice around in the glass.
“It’s all right, Tintagel,” she says to nobody in particular. “I work in the village, at one of the gift shops. My friend works here.” She points at the barmaid, the one with the kind face.
“It’s a nice pub.”
“It’s okay,” she says. “Better on the weekend, and there’s ka­raoke on Tuesdays.”
“Do you sing?”
She snorts a little. “Only once, never again.”
“Shame, I’d like to see that,” I say smiling, holding her gaze.
She laughs and smiles back, then coyly looks away.
“Same again?” I ask. “I’m having another.”
“Not having something from that, then?” She reaches over and pats my jacket pocket, feeling for my hip flask.
I am annoyed that she has seen me and just as I’m thinking what to say, she gently touches my arm.
“You’re not exactly subtle about it, mate.” She looks at her watch and then realizes she is not wearing one, so instead checks the time on her phone.
“Go on then. Last one,” she says, chuckling to herself, strug­gling to get off her stool in her tight skirt. I watch her walk to the bathroom—a journey she chastely announces—and I can see the outline of her underwear beneath her skirt, the imprint of the bar stool on her thighs.
She smells of perfume when she comes back, and she has fixed her makeup and tied back her hair. We order some shots, and we are talking and drinking and swigging together from my hip flask, and then she is showing me videos of dogs on YouTube, because her family breeds Rhodesian Ridgebacks, and then clips of people fighting, people getting knocked out on the street on CCTV, because one of her mates from Cam­borne was a kickboxer but he was in prison now, assault.
Then I look up and it is all a blur, a skipping CD, the lights are on, and I can hear the harsh whine of a vacuum cleaner. I wonder if I have fallen asleep, passed out, but Charlie is still there next to me and I see we are now drinking vodka and Red Bull. I look at her and she smiles with wet, drunken eyes and she starts laughing again, pointing to her friend, the bar­maid, who is scowling and pushing the vacuum cleaner around the carpet.
And then we leave, via a brief little farce where she said she thought she should go home, and then we are walking arm in arm along the deserted High Street, giggling and shushing and falling up the stairs to the little flat she has above the gift shop where she works. When we get to the top of the stairs, she looks at me, her mouth shaped like a heart and I feel a rush of boozy lust, so I pull her close to me and we start kissing, my hand reaching under her skirt.

After we finish, we lie on her small single mattress on the floor, without making eye contact, our heads buried into each other’s necks. When we have held each other for what seems like an acceptable amount of time, I walk along the hall look­ing for the bathroom. I fumble for a light switch, but it is not the bathroom, it is a child’s bedroom. While Charlie’s room was sparse, unfurnished, the bedroom looks like a showroom in a department store. A light shaped like an airplane, mir­rored by a giant stencil on the wall. Neatly stacked boxes full of toys. A desk with colored pencils and stacks of paper. And then, pinned to a board, certificates and awards, for football and judo and being a superstar in school.
Next to the bed there is a night-light, and I cannot stop my­self from turning it on. I watch as it casts pale-blue moons and stars onto the ceiling. I walk toward the window, breathing in the faint smell of fabric conditioner and children’s shampoo. In the corner, I see a little yellow flashlight, just like one Jack once had, and take it in my hands, feeling the tough plastic, the durable rubber, the big buttons made for young, unskill­ful fingers.
“Hello,” Charlie says, and it startles me and I jump. Her tone is nearly but not quite a question.
“Sorry,” I stammer, suddenly feeling very sober, my hands beginning to shake. “I was looking for the bathroom.”
She looks down at my hands, and I realize I am still hold­ing the flashlight.
“My little boy,” she says, a moon from the night-light danc­ing across her face. “He’s staying with my sister tonight, that’s why I’m out getting drunk.” She straightens out some paper and crayons, making them symmetrical with the edge of the desk. “I’ve just had the room done,” she says, putting some­thing in the drawer of the bedside table. “Had to sell a lot of my stuff to pay for it, but it looks nice, don’t it?”
“It’s lovely,” I say, because it really was, and she smiles and we stand like that for a while, watching the planets and stars dance around the room.
I know Charlie wants to ask me something: if I have kids, if I like kids, but I don’t want to answer so I kiss her, and I can still taste the vodka and cigarettes. I don’t think she is comfort­able kissing me here, in her son’s room, so she pulls away, takes the flashlight out of my hand and puts it carefully back on the shelf. She turns out the night-light and leads me out the door.
Back on the single mattress, she pecks me sweetly on the neck, as you would kiss a child good-night, and then turns away from me and falls asleep without saying a word. Her naked flank is exposed and the room is cold, so I reach over and tuck the cover under her and it reminds me of Jack. Snug as a bug, snug as a bug in a rug. I drink the remainder of my hip flask and lie awake in the pale amber light, listening to her breathe.


We Own the Sky has been compared to novels by Jacquelyn Mitchard, Jodi Picoult, and John Green. To what authors do you turn when you want an intensely emotional story?

One person who leaves a comment before 11:00 PM, March 16 will receive a copy of We Own the Sky. (U.S. only) 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Review - - Surrender My Heart

Surrender My Heart
By LG O'Connor
Caught Up in Love - Book 3
Publisher: Collins-Young Publishing
Release Date: February 13, 2018
Reviewed by PJ

Kitty and John have spent a lifetime loving one another...but not together. High school sweethearts, they were certain of what the future held but life, critical decisions, and secrets sent them in different directions. The past thirty-five years have brought significant changes to both of their lives. A police detective, John has been divorced for many years while Kitty, a CPA, is married with an adult daughter. Each time they see one another, it's apparent that their feelings still run deep but John is too honorable to act upon them and Kitty, unknown to those around her, is holding herself together by a thread. Allowing herself to lean on John, the man she has always known was her kryptonite, would likely shatter the tight control onto which she is barely holding. When Kitty's marriage implodes due to her husband's unexpected actions, it leaves her mired in self-doubt and depression, a state from which her daughter, Jenny (book 2 - Shelter My Heart) and her younger sister, Jillian (book 1 - Caught Up in Raine) are determined to free her. The adult Kitty they both know is vastly different from the person she was as a young woman. That person, nicknamed Kat by John, was vibrant, bold, and sure of her place in life and in John's arms. But that person ceased to exist when decisions were made that could not be undone. The Kitty of today is an overweight, less confident, paler version of Kat, a woman suffering beneath the guilt of too many secrets.

Readers have come to know both Kitty and John through the first two books in this series but there is much more to these two individuals and their journey than the author has let us see up to this point. In Surrender My Heart, we finally uncover their past and discover the events that have led them to this point in their lives. Writing in first person with chapters in alternating points of view, and transitioning chapters from present to past, O'Connor offers readers a poignant, deeply emotional, and sometimes heartbreaking story of the joy of young love, the devastation of loss, and the suffocating guilt that can result from, as Kitty says, making "the best of the worst choices for all of us." Once again, this author has woven a complex and compelling story that kept me up half the night. With a deep sigh, and a few tears, I turned the final page at 3:00 am this morning after savoring every word. 

I've been in John's corner since first meeting these characters in Caught Up in Raine. His care and concern for Jillian, Raine, and Jenny won my heart and his obvious yearning for "his Kat" made me ache for him. As Kitty's story unfolds, we come to see a woman who has been deeply affected by secrets and actions over the years, both her own and those of people around her. I cheered for her as she slowly begins to take control of her life, her health, and her happiness. As their shared past is slowly revealed from each of their perspectives, my heart ached for both Kitty and John and the anguish caused by secrets and pride. What happened to them was not due to one decision, or one person. It's only through the acknowledgement of their own roles in the events that have brought them to this point, and forgiveness, of themselves and one another, that they have any hope of moving forward and creating a happy future...together.

If you're looking for a contemporary romance/women's fiction hybrid featuring mature characters, a compelling story, a poignant second chance, and affirmation that a man and woman in their fifties can still create sizzle, look no further than Surrender My Heart. I highly recommend it. 

Do you enjoy romances with more mature characters?

Have you read any of the books in this series yet?

One randomly chosen person posting a comment before 11:00 PM, March 15 will receive a digital copy of Surrender My Heart

Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

Connect with L.G. O’Connor

Website | Twitter | Facebook

L.G. O’Connor’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, March 5thReading Reality
Wednesday, March 7thFrom the TBR Pile
Monday, March 12thWhat is That Book About – author Q&A
Tuesday, March 13thThe Romance Dish
Wednesday, March 14thWritten Love Reviews author Q&A
Thursday, March 15thSultry Sirens Book Blog
Monday, March 19thBooks & Bindings
Tuesday, March 20thMama Reads Blog and @mamareadsblog
Wednesday, March 21stWritten Love Reviews
Thursday, March 22nd@girlandherbooks 
Monday, March 26th@book_hangover88
Tuesday, March 27thThe Sketchy Reader
Wednesday, March 28thRun Wright
Friday, March 30thMoonlight Rendezvous

Monday, March 12, 2018

Today's Special - - Catherine Bybee's Not Quite Crazy

Not Quite Crazy
By Catherine Bybee
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Release Date: March 6, 2018
Reviewed by PJ

Message From the Author

In Not Quite Crazy, California transplant, Rachel Price, doesn’t understand the ramifications of driving into Manhattan from Connecticut every day; in every type of weather…especially snow. When she runs the charming Jason Fairchild off the road, sparks fly. Too bad Jason is her new boss and dating him is out of the question. Everyone knows it’s occupational suicide to date your boss.

Determined to keep her distance romantically, the two dive into a friendship. It isn’t long before those sparks ignite and neither one of them can deny their attraction. Throw in a teenage ward that Rachel has taken on after the death of her best friend, and biological grandparents that seek custody; and this heart warming love story is bound to whisk you away.

While I was writing Not Quite Crazy I took an impromptu trip to Manhattan last March. I purposely chose a winter month where I might be able to absorb what it felt like to be in the city when snow covered the ground. That might sound silly for those of you who live in the city, but for me, a woman who has lived in Southern California since she was eighteen years old, I had no idea just how snow impacts day to day life.

On the drive in from the airport, I was immediately struck by the bikes chained to posts and buried by snow. I observed a man digging his car out and effectively covering his neighbor’s car in the process. The plows did a great job of clearing the path for those cars actually moving, but did an equally fantastic job of making sure some vehicles couldn’t move for days. Trash piled up on the sidewalks would have to wait to be picked up until the thaw. It was astonishing to see. But the best experience for me, and one that made it into the pages of Not Quite Crazy, came when I took my first ride on the subway. You see, I was on my way uptown, from downtown to meet with my agent. Keep in mind, Manhattan is only five miles long. But it was St. Patrick’s Day and I completely forgot about the parade. I ordered an Uber, as one does, and sat bumper to bumper for nearly two hours. After arriving extremely late to my lunch, my wise and savvy agent gave me the instructions I needed to ride the subway back to my downtown hotel. I’m a grown woman, riding a subway shouldn’t intimidate me… but if I were honest, it did. So, with my purse strapped to my shoulder and zipped on the inside of my jacket, and my eyes wide open, I crowded into the underground train along with just about everyone else in the city.  Street performers jumped onto the car and started singing for change. Tourists chatted enthusiastically while locals looked bored with the whole process.

Rachel, my heroine in Not Quite Crazy is an extension of everyone I know that has lived in California. Here on the west coast we all have cars. We’re in them all the time. Public transportation is a joke when the distance between downtown LA and Orange County is so far away. The concept of always relying on public transportation to get to work every single day isn’t something most Southern Californian’s do. So when Rachel showed up on the page, I made sure she personified my own stubbornness about independently driving to and from wherever she needed to go. Even if it takes her two hours more than it should.

I hope you all enjoy this final chapter in the Not Quite Series and find room on your keeper shelf for Not Quite Crazy.


PJ's thoughts

Catherine Bybee is one of my auto-buy contemporary romance authors. Her books usually have plenty of sizzle, emotion, humor, and, in some cases, suspense. Not Quite Crazy, the sixth and final book in her Not Quite series more than lives up to what I've come to expect from a Bybee book. 

I really liked both Rachel and Jason individually and as a couple. They have terrific banter, sizzling chemistry, and enough conflict to challenge a happy ending and keep me interested. I loved how much fun they had together, how much they liked, and valued, each other, and especially how much they supported one another when the going got tough. I was cheering for them the whole way. The fact that Jason owns the company where Rachel is the new marketing whiz adds an extra dimension to their story (they only exchange first names when they meet during the blizzard and don't realize the work connection until Jason walks into a meeting where Rachel is the presenter) as does the fact that Rachel has guardianship of Owen, the grieving teenage son of her late best friend. Rachel and Owen have a tight bond and prove that sometimes family is forged in the heart, not through biological ties. I loved how they supported one another, defended one another, and protected one another. I cheered for Jason, Rachel, and Owen as a unit but also really enjoyed the separate dynamic between Jason and Owen, a young man who has never had a paternal influence in his life and who is understandably protective of Rachel. A secondary storyline involving Owen's wealthy, biological paternal grandparents and the biological father who, up until now, has been absent (by choice) from his life brings added tension and a bit of suspense. It also reinforces the deep bond between Rachel and Owen and strengthens the growing feelings between Rachel and Jason. 

Jason's brothers and their wives as well as other couples from previous books make appearances in this final book which is fun for fans of the series but is written in such a way that shouldn't be confusing for readers new to this world. 

If you're looking for smart contemporary romance that brings sweetness, sizzle, laughter, and a few tears, look no further than Catherine Bybee's Not Quite Crazy

Have you read any of the books in Catherine Bybee's Not Quite series? Do you have a favorite book or couple?

Are you a public transportation or I'll-drive-myself-thank-you kind of person?

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Rachel found the stack of mail on the dining room table. She fingered through a few bills and tossed the junk to the side to add to the recycle bin. The box Owen had spoken of didn’t have a mailing label. In fact, all that was written on the plain brown box was her name, her first name. 

She peeled away the tape, not knowing what to expect. Once she folded the lid back, she saw a handwritten envelope on top of a white canvas bag. It took a little effort to lift the noisy bag from the box—the sound of metal hitting metal struck her as odd.


Chains for the tires on her car. 


She opened the note and a second paper fell out. 


Thank you for braving this stranger in a storm and keeping me from frostbite. Welcome to Connecticut. 


Below his name was a phone number

Something inside her stomach flipped, the buzz a teenage girl feels when she notices a popular boy watching her from the other side of the classroom. Or maybe she was reading into it. Maybe this was just a thank-you, a friendly gesture from a grateful, stranded traveler. 

Her cheeks warmed. 

Assuming he gave her a mobile number, Rachel decided to send a text.  

Hello Jason. I received your gift. They were incredibly thoughtful. Thank you. 

She read her note over, twice, then pressed “Send.” Off it went, in wherever notes went as they traveled faster than Superman in cyberspace. 

The phone in her hand buzzed, reminding her she was holding it. 

Is this Rachel? 

She grinned. 

Do you leave gifts on everyone’s doorstep in town? 

Dot. Dot. Dot. It is nearly Christmas. 

Was he flirting? It had been some time since she’d sent a text to anyone outside of the friend zone, so she couldn’t tell. 

So you double as Connecticut’s Santa Claus?

Shhh. Don’t tell anyone. It’s a secret. 

Well, he wasn’t not flirting. 

I’ll keep my mouth closed on one condition. 

Oh? What’s that? 

I want to meet Vixen. She’s always been my favorite. 

I thought Vixen was a he. 

She giggled. 

A boy named Vixen. That’s just cruel. Good point. I’ll see what I can do. The team is on a strict curfew until after the holiday. 

Rachel found a rolling eye emoji. 


When Catherine Bybee fell in love with the first romance novel she ever read, she promised herself she would one day become a published author. Now she’s written twenty-seven books that have collectively sold more than four million copies and have been translated into more than eighteen languages. Along with her popular Not Quite series, she has also penned the Weekday Brides series, the Most Likely To series, and the First Wives series.

Raised in Washington State, Bybee moved to Southern California in hopes of becoming a movie star. After growing bored with waiting tables, she returned to school and became a registered nurse, spending most of her career in urban emergency rooms. Catherine now writes full-time. Fans can learn more at

Social Media Links