Thursday, May 23, 2019

Book Lovers Con 2019 - Part 2

I flew into New Orleans a day early so I'd have time to explore the city a bit. I've been there once before but it was a very long time ago (I was 18) and I was with my family so last week's experience was a bit different. I set out with different groups of friends throughout the week for food, shopping, food, touring, exploring, and, of course, food. Here are a few of the sights and sounds we discovered.

One of the beautiful mansions in the Garden District. 

Chargrilled oysters at Acme Oyster House. I don't care for raw oysters but these babies were delicious!

Found this cool light fixture in a shoe shop.

And shoes. We also found cool shoes. 

I indulged my love of fresh seafood whenever I could. These beauties were my lunch as the Market Cafe in the French Quarter. Lunch in their open-air seating area was accompanied by live jazz, as meals in New Orleans often are.

A little music for our dining pleasure. 

Hey, look! I have my own coffee! 

So much fascinating architecture in this city. 

Beignets and cafe au lait at Cafe Du Monde in the French Quarter is a must. We made several visits. (with friends Rebekah, Monique, and Linda)

The beautiful chandelier over our table at the Cellar Door where we ate dinner Tuesday night. It looks like it could have graced the entry hall of a brothel (which the restaurant used to be), am I right? 

The view from our hotel room. The Mercedes Benz Superdome was like our very own spaceship sized nightlight. With a different color every night!

Even the horses are sparkly! 

More French Quarter architecture. I love the flower-lined balconies. 

Statuary is something else you see a lot of in New Orleans.

After all the walking, one needs sustenance. This flourless chocolate cake with blueberries and ice cream was fabulous!

Jackson Square by night. So lovely and so much history. This is the site where the Louisiana Purchase was signed in 1803.

One of the many above-ground cemeteries in the city.

Another Garden District mansion. 

Commander's Palace, a colorful addition to the Garden District and one of the most renowned restaurants in the city.

A really cool cornstalk fence surrounding one of the Garden District mansions. The 9800 sq. ft. home was build in 1860. The owner commissioned the fence to help his Iowa born wife feel more at home. 

In New Orleans, they celebrate wall art. And don't call it graffiti.

Another Garden District mansion. I sure would have loved seeing the inside of one!

Loretta's in the French Market. Best pralines in the city (in my opinion) and darn good beignets too, according to my friends. 

Moonlight on the Mississipi. What a beautiful way to bring my stay in New Orleans to an end.

One of the best cocktails I've ever had. Tanqueray No. Ten gin, simple syrup, mint leaves, and fresh lemon juice. I only had one but I wanted more! Of course, then my friends would have had to carry me back to the room and we'd have videos of a different sort. ;-)

We saw three separate wedding parties dancing through the streets of the French Quarter Saturday night. So. Much. Fun.

What's your favorite dessert? Favorite drink?

Would you be up for dancing through the streets following a wedding? 

Have you ever eaten in a restaurant with a scandalous history? 

Two randomly chosen people who leave a comment before 11:00 PM, May 24 will each receive a package of books and swag from my conference stash. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Today's Special - - A Torch in his Heart

It's my pleasure to welcome the Anna Belfrage blog tour to The Romance Dish today. Anna is here to talk about A Torch in his Heart, the first book of her The Wanderers contemporary romance/time slip series.   

Had Anna been allowed to choose, she'd have become a professional time-traveller. As such a profession does not exist, she settled for second best and became a financial professional with two absorbing interests, namely history and writing. These days, Anna combines an exciting day-job with a large family and her writing endeavours. Plus she always finds the time to try out new recipes, chase down obscure rose bushes and initiate a home renovation scheme or two.

Her most recent release, A Torch in His Heart, is a step out of her comfort zone. Having previously published historical fiction & historical romance, with this first book about Jason and Helle Anna offers a dark and titillating contemporary romance, complete with a time-slip angle and hot & steamy scenes. 

Her first series, The Graham Saga, is set in 17th century Scotland and Virginia/Maryland. It tells the story of Matthew and Alex, two people who should never have met - not when she was born three hundred years after him. With this heady blend of time-travel, romance, adventure, high drama and historical accuracy, Anna hopes to entertain and captivate, and is more than thrilled when readers tell her just how much they love her books and her characters. There are nine books in the series so far, but Anna is considering adding one or two more...

Her second series is set in the 1320s and features Adam de Guirande, his wife Kit, and their adventures and misfortunes in connection with Roger Mortimer's rise to power. The King's Greatest Enemy is a series where passion and drama play out against a complex political situation, where today's traitor may be tomorrow's hero, and the Wheel of Fortune never stops rolling. 

Connect with Anna at the links below:

Website | Facebook | Twitter

There is something fascinating about the concept of reincarnation. Other than making death somewhat less final, it also seems to offer the opportunity to do better next time round—assuming, of course, that you want to do better. 
In some religions, reincarnation is a fundamental tenet of faith—like in Hinduism. The purpose with each life is to better yourself, strive upwards spiritually. If you don’t, you may end up reborn as a lowly dog in the next life, i.e. you’ve been thrown several steps backwards in your pursuit of Nirvana and eternal bliss.
In other religions, reincarnation is a major no-no. Such is the case for Christians, Muslims and Jews. All these religions say we have one life—only one—in which to determine how our souls will spend eternity. These religions all differ in how they depict the hereafter, but on the matter of multiple lives they speak with one voice: IMPOSSIBLE.
Me, I don’t know. I’m not so sure I’d like to be a reincarnated soul—and especially not if I remembered my preceding lives—but I am not about to dismiss it out of hand as impossible.
“Good to know,” Jason Morris says drily. Well, he would, seeing as my protagonist in A Torch in His Heart is a multi-reincarnated man who has spent over fifty lives looking for the woman he loved and lost first time round. “It would be terrible if you considered me an impossibility,” he adds.
Seeing as he doesn’t really exist outside my head (and between the pages of my book) I’m not sure it matters if he’s an impossibility—but I don’t tell him that. Protagonists tend to be sensitive souls that bruise easily—especially true of Jason, whom I lumbered with all those lives and memories of all of them. Frankly, how he holds on to his sanity is a bit of a mystery.
That, I think, would be the huge, huge downside of multiple lives: remembering it all, not going crazy when trying to sort out which memories are relevant to the present lives, which are not. Our poor brains aren’t made to accommodate memories from more than one life—which, I suppose, supports those saying reincarnation is impossible.
“Unless the slate is wiped clean every time,” Helle Madsen says. I give my female protagonist a warm smile. I like this young woman who has absolutely zero memories of any prior lives until the day she ends up face to face with Jason, a shadow who has figured frequently in her dreams but whom she has never, ever met before. She thinks. Maybe. Because seriously, she must have met him at some point seeing as she recognises him, right?
Helle does not believe in mumbo-jumbo stuff like reincarnation, so it is something of a wake-up call to suddenly stand face to face with a man who professes to be the reincarnation of her lover from 3 000 years ago. In fact, Helle worries Jason might be crazy but the way he looks at her, the way he makes her feel, all those butterflies that soar through her belly when he smiles at her, the heat he generates in her, the memories he seems to awaken in her…
Helle gulps. “Memories?” She gives me a panicky look.
I pat my heroine on the head and nod. “Memories, Helle.”
“Shit.” She collapses to sit. “So what Jason is telling me is true? We’ve been around for like eons?”
“Yup.” I choose not to tell her that while everything Jason is telling her is true, it does not follow that Jason is telling her everything. There are some things he desperately hopes she will never, ever remember from that first life of theirs. Unfortunately, once the barriers to her ancient memories have been broken, Helle starts remembering. A lot.  What can I say? Jason is about to realise that just because he has found Helle again that doesn’t mean there’s a fail-safe Happily Ever After waiting down the line…
“no!” Jason scowls at me. “no way! You’ve put me through hell, you’be had me live and die, live and die, over and over again, and now you tell me it has all been for nothing?” His amber-coloured eyes flash with anger, and he drags his hand repeatedly through his heavy fall of mahogany-coloured hair.
“I didn’t say that,” I tell him. I pat his hand. “But just because you feel entitled to closure with Helle, it doesn’t follow she feels the same way. After all, she doesn’t remember, right?”
“Lucky her,” he mutters, glancing at the woman he has followed through time, at present busy working out in a patch of sunlight. His face softens. “Lucky me, for finding her again.”
“Yeah.” I pat his hand again. No need to tell him a HEA is more or less guaranteed for my protagonists – but that doesn’t mean I don’t make it very, very hard to get there!


A Torch in his Heart 
by Anna Belfrage

Publisher: Troubador Publishing
Release Date: September 1, 2018

In the long lost ancient past, two men fought over the girl with eyes like the Bosporus under a summer sky. It ended badly. She died. They died. 
Since then, they have all tumbled through time, reborn over and over again. Now they are all here, in the same place, the same time and what began so long ago must finally come to an end.

Ask Helle Madsen what she thinks about reincarnation and she’ll laugh in your face. Besides, Helle has other stuff to handle, what with her new, exciting job in London and her drop-dead but seriously sinister boss, Sam Woolf. And then one day Jason Morris walks into her life and despite never having clapped eyes on him before, she recognises him immediately. Very weird. Even more weird is the fact that Sam and Jason clearly hate each other’s guts. Helle’s life is about to become extremely complicated and far too exciting.

What say you, fellow readers? Are you as fascinated by the possibility of reincarnation as I am? 

Have you read any books that deal with this topic? 

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Winner - - Wendy LaCapra

The randomly chosen winner of a signed, print copy of

Heart's Desire by Wendy LaCapra is:

Natasha Persaud


Please send your full name and mailing address to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

Book Lovers Con 2019: Part One

Hi All! I'm back from the first Book Lovers Con, in New Orleans, Louisiana, completely exhausted but filled with lots of wonderful memories. Here's some of the photographic evidence that what happens at BLC doesn't stay there. No, we book lovers like to share our fun far and wide!

Our first night in town I ventured out to dinner at a local restaurant situated in a historic building which for many years was a well-known brothel. So much fun! The food was delicious, the atmosphere threw us back in time, and the company couldn't have been better. If you're in New Orleans, I highly recommend trying The Cellar Door.  L to R: PJ, Alanna Lucas, Cathy Maxwell, Lorraine Heath, and Linda Watson. Linda and Alanna were my wonderful roommates. You'll probably see Linda in the front of many of my photos. That's because she's the widely-acknowledged selfie queen. Seriously, the woman knows how to take fabulous selfies! Alanna, Cathy, and Lorraine are all historical romance authors. 

Everyone staying at the hotel knew romance readers were in town! 

With historical romance author Sabrina York who gave me the most beautiful crown pin! 

Enjoying the first night's Jazz Fest with food trucks and good friends. Back: Alanna Lucas, (historical author) Deb Marlowe, PJ, (historical author) Collette Cameron. Front: Linda Watson, (historical author) Amy Jarecki

Two of my favorite authors and favorite people: RaeAnne Thayne and Emily March. They both have new books out (or on the horizon): RaeAnne's The Cliff House (3/26/19) and Emily's Jackson:Eternity Springs:The McBrides of Texas (6/25/19)

Sabrina Jeffries gives the best hugs! Project Duchess launches her new Duke Dynasty series on June 25. 

With the always delightful Nancy Naigle. Have you watched any of the Hallmark movies based on her books? 

It's impossible to be in the presence of Sheila Roberts without smiling. She has such a happy, positive spirit. And I was surprised to run into 2018 RWA Cathie Linz Librarian of the Year, Fran Cassano. I had no idea she would be there. I love surprises like that! 

Sonali Dev is a triple threat: beautiful, hilarious, and wicked smart. Oh yeah, and an incredible author. Check out her newest release: Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors

The Fiction from the Heart authors hosted a fun sash-making session called Project Runway:Bridesmaids Edition to celebrate their upcoming anthology: Once Upon a Wedding:A Fiction from the Heart Second-Chances Anthology. More on that when Liz Talley visits the Dish on June 17. Check out their fun reader group on Facebook.

Photo booth fun with Fiction from the Heart authors Liz Talley, Donna Kauffman, and Sally Kilpatrick!

Ready for the Faery and Fantasy Gathering! Sonali Dev and Vanessa North

Priscilla Oliveras is ready to save the world!

Blue Saffire wore my favorite costume at the Faery and Fantasy Gathering. Isn't she gorgeous? 

Sabrina Jeffries brings part one to a close with a wish for fluffy pillows and sweet dreams. Not quite ready for bed yet, Sabrina was headed off to the Regency Bedtime Bingo affair! 

That's it for Part One! More to come later this week. 

How would you dress for the faery and fantasy gathering? Or are nightcaps and long nightgowns more your speed? 

What would your bridesmaid sash say? I chose "Sweetness" for all the chocolate I gave away. Sonali is holding a bag of it in the photo. 

One person leaving a comment before 11:00 PM, May 22 will receive a goody package from BLC19 including a book bag, books, and assorted swag. (U.S. only)

A second person leaving a comment before 11:00 PM, May 22 will also receive a book bag, books, and assorted swag. (U.S. only)

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Flying the Book Lovers Con!

Morning, everyone! I'm flying the nest again. This time, I'm headed to New Orleans and Book Lovers Con, a five-day conference for romance authors and readers. I have no doubt it will be buckets of fun. And exhausting. Very, very exhausting. But worth it! 

It will be quiet here at the blog while I'm gone but there should be lots of activity on my social media channels. Follow The Romance Dish on Instagram for photos and updates throughout the conference. And, of course, visit me here at the blog after I return for a conference wrap-up post, photos, and giveaways. 

Have any of you ever visited New Orleans? Any restaurants or sights I shouldn't miss?

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Review - - The Bride Test

by Helen Hoang
Publisher: Berkley 
Release Date: May 7, 2019
Reviewed by Hellie

Summary: GO BUY THIS BOOK NOW. Now, now, now. Why are you still here? This is the most readable, funny, heartfelt, amazing romance you’re going to read this summer. And if you haven’t read the other book, THE KISS QUOTIENT yet, buy it too. Immediately. You may recall my feelings for THE KISS QUOTIENT (read Hellie's review)--basically the book was a unicorn, a beautiful magical unicorn. This book is the unicorn’s magical beautiful baby.

This is the book blurb, which I’m going to quote entirely: “Khai Diep has no feelings. Well,not big, important feelings like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better--that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.

“As a mixed-girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Her lessons in love work...but only on herself.

“With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love.”

I cannot decide which character I love more. I really cannot. Khai, who is a little damaged but a lot whole, who loves his family--though he’d never call it that--and who performs acts of service for those he cares for. He’s a little rough around the edges; he likes what he likes as he likes them (who doesn’t?). Esme is the ultimate heroine to root for: she’s brave, she’s smart, she’s willing to do what it takes to succeed and have the best life for herself and her family. All through this story I was rooting for Khai to figure out he loved Esme so he could save her, keep her in America, and have a happily ever after--but the author did so much better than that. I would say more--I would say everything--but I want you to read it and love it yourself. This book is everything that is right about romance novels and how they empower women and how they show the different ways we love--and how all those ways are valid and perfect.

Already--this book is barely out--I am looking forward to Helen Hoang’s next book. I hope it’s Khai’s brother, Quan. He’s a riot and he’s smart. But I will read whatever Helen puts out next: her writing bursts off the page and keeps you engaged until the end. I received this book in February--and I had other books that needed to be reviewed first--and I read this one first, in one day, and wanted to read it again. I think you’re going to do the same.