Monday, November 30, 2009

Coming Attractions for December

This month we’re continuing our grand opening celebration and winding down 2009 with a great mix of guest authors, prizes, reviews, recipes, and more at The Romance Dish! Check out the coming attractions on the menu for December.

Historical and urban fantasy author Kathryn Smith is spending the day with us on Tuesday, December 1. She has two recent releases: When Seducing a Duke, the first of her new Victorian series, and Dark Side of Dawn, the second book in her Nightmare Chronicles.

If you like romantic suspense, join us on Thursday, December 3 when Berkley Sensation author Kylie Brant, talks about her Mindhunters series and latest release, Waking the Dead.

Be sure to stop by on Friday, December 4, for Andrea’s list of New Releases for December. There are so many good books out this month!

Like romantic comedy? Author Kandy Shepherd joins us on Monday, December 7, to dish about her debut, Love is a Four-Legged Word, and why she loves animals.

Kensington historical writer Jane Goodger, author of A Christmas Scandal, guest blogs with us on Tuesday, December 8.

On Wednesday, December 9, New York Times best selling author Christina Dodd will drop by and asks What kind of Christmas shopper are you? just in time for the Christmas season!

Trish Milburn is on tap for her second Teen Menu on the 10th of December. She’ll share what’s new in YA/Teen books and movies.

Harlequin Historical author Diane Gaston, is spending Friday, December 11 with us and talking about her latest release, Gallant Officer, Forbidden Lady.

Join us on Monday, December 14 as Emily Bryan stops by to chat about her books and her novella, My Lady Below Stairs, in the recently released anthology, A Christmas Ball.

Buffie brings us another Hot Dish on December 15th. I’m not sure how she’ll top last month’s Hot Dish, but if anyone can do it, she can.

Bunco babe Maria Geraci guest blogs with us on Wednesday, December 16, to dish about her latest, Bunco Babes Gone Wild.

On Thursday, December 17, Harlequin Historical author, Deb Marlowe joins us to dish about her latest release, Her Cinderella Season.

Blackmailed Bride, Inexperienced Wife is the latest release of author Annie West and she’ll be here with us on Friday, December 18.

Stop by on Tuesday, December 22, when Andrea interviews Kensington author Carrie Lofty, author of the upcoming A Scoundrel’s Kiss.

Multi-published author Caridad Piñeiro joins us on Wednesday, December 23. Her latest is the suspenseful Sins of the Flesh.

On Thursday, December 24, Anna Campbell will bring us her latest Second Helping of a book you may have missed!

Historical author Donna Fletcher, author of the upcoming The Highlander’s Forbidden Bride, joins us on Monday, December 28.

Debut author Courtney Milan is dishing with us on Tuesday, December 29. Be sure to stop by as Courtney will surely be chatting about her upcoming Proof by Seduction.

And to round out the year on a high note, paranormal romance author Annette McCleave visits with us on Wednesday, December 30 to talk about her Soul Gatherer series and newest release, Drawn into Darkness.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Black Friday Frenzy Winners!

Congrats to the winners of our Black Friday Frenzy!!

JANE -- winner of Just the Sexiest Man Alive and Practice Makes Perfect by Julie James.

CYNDI -- winner of Her One Desire and Highland Dragon by Kimberly Killion.

DIANNA -- winner of Lone Star Courtship by Mae Nunn and Goddess of the Hunt by Tessa Dare.

JEDISAKORA -- winner of Raintree Sanctuary by Beverly Barton and Veil of Midnight by Lara Adrian.

Please email your full name and address to me at theromancedishATgmailDOTcom to claim your prize.

Review - RION

The Pendragon Legacy - Book 2
By Susan Kearney
Publisher: Forever (Grand Central Publishing)
Release Date: November 24, 2009

In the second book of Susan Kearney's Pendragon Legacy trilogy, the people of Chivalri face extinction at the hands of their cruel captors, the Unari, and the brutal Unari torture device, the Tyrannizer. Chivalri's only hope of survival resides with Rion Jaqard, a native son who escaped the Unari and is now living on Earth, on the other side of the galaxy. 

Blessed, or cursed, with visions of the future, Rion knows that time is running out for the people of Chivalri.  He must act now if he has any hope of saving the people of his country but to launch a successful rescue he needs the help of Marisa Rourke, the telepathic twin of his friend and fellow space explorer, Lucan.   Marisa has the unique telepathic skills that enable her to communicate with dragonshapers, a skill that is essential to Rion's plans, but with her commitment to Earth's new population of dragonshapers it's a certainty she won't agree to travel with him to his home planet.  What's an alpha hero to do?  Why, use their mutual attraction to seduce and kidnap her, of course! 

In RION, Kearney once again takes the reader on an action-packed roller coaster ride to a far off planet.  She builds new worlds with vivid descriptions and intricate details that make them come alive in my mind though there were times, for me, when all the details and explanations became a bit overwhelming and began to detract from the story.

With Marisa and Rion, the author has created two strong, sexual people who set the pages on fire with their passion.  Their romance is not an easy journey, as they battle evil enemies, internal conflicts and life-long expectations along the way.  They are two people who deeply love their respective planets and have strong emotional ties to them.  A happy ending for them will require compromise and sacrifice...and is not a foregone conclusion. 

I enjoyed Rion and Marisa's story.  Their quest to save Rion's planet is compelling and the sex between them is sizzling but I missed the deep emotional connection between the hero and heroine that existed in LUCAN, the first book in this trilogy.  I kept looking for it and waiting for it but it just never happened for me.  While that missing emotional intensity kept this from being a great read for me, I still enjoyed it and am looking forward to the March 2010 release of JORDAN, the final book in the Pendragon Legacy trilogy. 


Friday, November 27, 2009

A Special Black Friday Treat

Yesterday, you slaved in the kitchen creating a Thanksgiving feast for your family.  This morning, many of you awoke before dawn to be first in line to buy that perfect Christmas gift at your local store.   Now it's your turn.  Send the hubby and the kids to the movies, pour a glass of wine and relax with a free e-book novella by historical romance author, Caroline Linden. Harper Collins (Avon) is offering Deeper Than Desire, a free companion e-book to Linden's December print release, For Your Arms Only 

I won one of Caroline Linden's books last year.  I've since read everything she's published but it only took that one book to put her on my auto-buy list.  If you haven't discovered her wonderful stories yet, now's the perfect opportunity to try one for free!

Free Caroline Linden e-book

Black Friday Frenzy

In the United States, the Friday after Thanksgiving Day is called "Black Friday." Why? Well, it is pretty simple: Black Friday is the beginning of the traditional holiday shopping season. The term "Black Friday" can be traced back to around 1966 when it originated in Philadelphia by the police department in reference to the heavy traffic on the Friday after Thanksgiving. However, a few years later retailers and media began using the term to refer to the beginning of the period in which retailers go from being red to black in their financial records.

Black Friday is the busiest shopping day of the year. Have you seen all the store ads telling you the sales begin at 4 a.m. or 5 a.m.? I have seen where Old Navy will be open at 3 a.m. and Toys R Us will be open at midnight!! Crazy I tell you. See, I'm a person who loves to sleep. Yes, I love my bed and my warm, cozy covers. You will not find me in line at some store at 4 a.m. to buy anything!! LOL! I have to admit, the hubby and I did go out on Black Friday one year (prior to children). We got a few deals, had a little fun, and were totally exhausted when we got home!

If I were to venture out this year, I would be in line at 5 a.m. at Walmart to get the Cricut Expression. It is a wonderful diecutting machine that I dream of having for my scrapbooking and cardmaking. I have the smaller Cricut, but bigger is always better. Walmart is having a great sale on it and it is never, ever on sale. But, I will be curled up in my bed fast asleep. Remember, I said I do love to sleep.

Are you joining the madness and going shopping on Black Friday?How early are you going?
What is on your must-get list?
Or will you be like me asleep in your bed?

To help ease the stress of the first shopping day of the holiday season, we will be giving away several books today (to U.S. residents only). Why should all the presents be for other people? You deserve a prize too, especially if you ventured out on Black Friday to shop!! So be sure to leave a comment, you just might win!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing you and yours a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday from the ladies of The Romance Dish!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


I woke up this morning with an overwhelming feeling of happiness. Why? I have absolutely no idea, but I'm really enjoying it! Just the same, it made me stop and think of what brought this on, and I began to list all of the things I'm grateful for.

Sarah Ban Breathnach, author of Simple Abundance, and a frequent guest on Oprah, suggests that people keep a "gratitude journal." Just list five things each day that you're grateful for. Big or small, simple or profound, it's up to you. Now, I must confess that I don't always write mine down, but at some point during my day I think of all that I am thankful for. Because no matter how crappy your day is, there is always something to be thankful for. And when you focus on those blessings, you feel better.

Here's an example of five things I'm grateful for:

1. My first cup of coffee in the morning.
2. The beauty of the brilliant fall foliage.
3. My family--having a husband and three children who are all healthy and happy.
4. The friends I have met online, especially my fellow "Romance Dishers".
5. My pets who never fail to make me laugh and give me unconditional love, and an houseful of hair!

Not to sound too Pollyannaish, but positive tho
ughts do become positive actions. Have you ever been around someone (or been that someone) who is all woe-is-me-doom and gloom-black-cloud-over-my-head-just-call-me-Eeyore? The longer they go on about the negative things in their life, the worse you feel, and no doubt they do, too. We all have bad days and are entitled to host our own pity party. Just don't let that party go on too long.

As we near Thanksgiving, it seems appropriate to focus on our many blessings. At our house during our Thanksgiving feast, everyone says what they are most thankful for. It's my favorite thing about the day.

So friends, what are you thankful for today?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Missy Tippens Winner!

The winner of A FOREVER CHRISTMAS by Missy Tippens is



Please email your full name and address directly

to Missy at missytippensATaolDOTcom.

Be sure to include "The Romance Dish Winner"

in the subject line.


Mr. Collins to the Rescue!

by Anna Campbell


It's my first review with the Dishies! Hiya Gannon, PJ, Buffie and Andrea! Not to mention my Bandita pal Trish Milburn. I'm stoked to be working with you! This site is going to become a phenomenon. You mark my words.

Long live the Romance Dish! Long may its deliciousness pervade my world!

Right, having got that off my chest, I'd better introduce myself.

I'm going to be a regular here reviewing romance classics and books I like, probably, although not necessarily, older books that you might have missed. Kind of what I used to do once a month at RNTV. Occasionally I might throw in something about a research book - I've noticed people find research books pretty interesting!

So please swing by on the 24th of each month for my Second Helping!

I thought I'd start my reviewing career on the Romance Dish at the top. Yep, I'm tackling the book that's often called the most perfect novel in the English language, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE by Jane Austen.

Do I feel presumptuous? Yup! Is it going to stop me? Nup! Am I going to leap on this as an opportunity for some serious eye candy? Is the Pope a Catholic? Do bears sh...

What's that?

Oh, right. Reviewing the glorious and very fastidious Jane, I should remember my manners. I beg your pardon, gentle readers. There will be no further references to bears and their digestive processes in the verdant wildness of the adjacent woodland.

I first read PRIDE AND PREJUDICE when I was about twelve. I remember loving it although it wasn't much like the movie - my mother had a huge crush on Laurence Olivier so I can't tell you how many times I'd watched the Greer Garson/L.O. version with her. I've read the book numerous times since although not for about fifteen years or so now.

And in that 15 years, of course, the world has gone completely Jane Austen mad!

Movies, TV series, sequels, zombies! A poor Jane-o-phile had no idea where to look! Well, I kinda looked at Matthew Macfadyen but that's purely personal taste.

Coming back to reading the book last week, I realized that I was seeing the story through the filter of all the celluloid adaptations. One of the things I immediately noticed is that Jane's humor can be waspish and misanthropic - I'd remembered gently ironic but, no, a lot of this was firmly on the b*tchy side. The adaptations really soften Jane's judgments on her characters, even the awful ones! This time around, my first impression was that Lizzie was self-satisfied and too clever for her own good and Darcy was a humorless stick!

So is this going to be a bad review? How incredibly brave!!!!

Of course, it isn't going to be a bad review! Although I must admit the first chapters were a bit of a struggle - perhaps because I'd expected to dive in and adore the story as I had every other time I'd read it.

Do you know who saved the book for me? That most unlikely of heroes MR. COLLINS! He's such a marvelously written comic character - the scene where he proposes to Lizzie is an absolute corker and he brightens every page he ventures upon. I don't want to marry Darcy. I'm clearly nowhere near good enough for him. I want to marry Mr. Collins and live across the road from Lady Catherine de Bourgh!

Of course, Mr. Collins enters the story about the same point where I think Miss Austen's fondness for her characters starts peeping through and some warmth builds in the story. Lizzie is less all-knowing (she's going through the Wickham debacle at that stage which is definitely a lapse in judgment) and Darcy is starting to show a few cracks in his shell of invulnerable perfection. And the book just gets better and better as it charts their difficult courtship. Actually JA does a top job of proposals - Darcy's rejected proposal is another corker of a scene. And by the time Lizzie catches up with Darcy at Pemberley, I was devouring the book like I devoured the latest Liz Carlyle.

And of course, we get the lovely sigh-worthy ending. Although I'm enough of a romance reader to wish that we'd actually heard Darcy's declarations of being 'violently in love' instead of just being told about them. By the end, we know he's a true hero and man of honor, a man willing to sacrifice his dearest wishes (and his well-developed pride) for the sake of the woman he loves. So he might miss the occasional joke - we'll forgive him that after he saves Lizzie and her family from absolute disaster when Lydia elopes with Wickham.

I'm pretty sure academics would take a different view of the book. But hey, I'm a romance reader at heart! The romance is the bit that works for me the best. And while some people mightn't admit it, I suspect the romance is one of the chief reasons it's stayed in people's hearts so long. There's definitely elements of Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast operating here so PRIDE AND PREJUDICE fits into my definition of classic fairytale romance!

So have you read PRIDE AND PREJUDICE? How do you feel the book stacks up against the adaptations? And (this is always a favorite question!) do you have a favorite adaptation? I've included illustrations to inspire the discussion!

Monday, November 23, 2009


You know that old saying, "an apple a day keeps the doctor away", the premise being that if you eat an apple every day you won't get sick? Some of my earliest memories are of my mom and grandma saying that to me and while I ate lots of apples because I sure didn't want to get sick, I always felt a little sorry for that doctor. In my young mind, I pictured him having to stay away while the rest of us savored the delicious goodies that you can make with apples, like apple dumplings...

caramel apples... and apple crisp.

While I adore many apple dishes, my childhood favorite was my aunt's apple pie squares. Whenever she brought them to a family gathering my brothers and I would descend on her like a swarm of locusts. Her recipe was lost at some point over the years, or maybe it was in her head, but a couple years ago I set about trying to recreate the dessert at the center of some delicious childhood memories. Here it is:

8 medium apples, cored, peeled and thinly sliced (I use Granny Smith)
3/4 cup sugar
2 TBSP all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
dash of nutmeg
2 TBSP butter
2 pie crusts
1/2 TBSP lemon juice
Powdered sugar
Pure vanilla extract

Sprinkle sliced apples lightly with lemon juice. Combine sugar, flour, spices and a dash of salt; toss with sliced apples. Roll one pie crust to a 9x11 rectangle and place it in the bottom of a baking dish of the same size. Fill with the apple mixture then dot with slices of butter. Roll the second pie crust to the same dimensions and place over the top of the apple mixture, sealing the edges. Cut slits in the top crust to allow the steam to escape and lightly sprinkle with sugar. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 400° F. for 50 minutes or until done.

Stir together powdered sugar, milk and a squirt of vanilla to make a glaze. Drizzle over slightly cooled pie and cut into squares. This is great hot or cold, either with ice cream or on its own.

What are your favorite apple recipes? Have you ever tried to recreate a childhood favorite?  Did you feel sorry for the doctor like I did?

~ PJ

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Hank Phillippi Ryan's winners! And one more for Lori Brighton!

Hank picked her winners and they are:

Ann Macela

Congratulations, ladies! Please email Hank through her website--go to
Go to the upper left and after the graphic is resolved, it'll say contact. Click on that. Let Hank know your full name and address and that you are a winner from The Romance Dish!
Thank you!

ALSO -- One of Lori Brighton's winners has graciously declined her copy of WILD HEART since she previously won one, so I have picked another winner:
Congratulations, Christine! Please email Lori at loribrightonATyahooDOTcom with "The Romance Dish winner" in the subject line.
Thanks so much!


Vow of Seduction by Angela Johnson
Publisher: Zebra
Release Date: October 6, 2009

Everyone knows that I adore debut novels. There is just something extra special about opening the cover of an author’s very first published book. I feel the excitement and wonder of the author as I begin to read her work of art. It is like discovering a delightful little bakery on the outskirts of town and sitting down and tasting the first delectable bite of sugary confection.

Here is the first bite from Angela Johnson’s debut novel:

”Lady Katherine of Montclair squeezed her thighs tightly around Hunter’s sleek body and rode him hard. Sunlight speared the oak forest canopy, dappling them with heat. Leaning over Hunter, she whispered loving words into his ear and stroked her hand down the taut length of his neck and powerful shoulders. In response, his flanks flexed beneath her, thrusting harder, faster. Her heart pounded sharply and excitement pulsed in her blood.”

Now THAT is an opening paragraph!!!

Forced to marry Sir Alex de Beaumont at an early age due to her father’s failing health, Lady Katherine is shocked by the passion Sir Alex stirs in her on their wedding night. A passion that is quickly doused the morning after when Lady Katherine awakens in the marriage bed alone, with only a note from her new husband stating he has left with King Edward’s forces to fight in the Crusades. Mad beyond words, Lady Katherine takes her frustration out on the marriage sheet and throws the only evidence of the consummated marriage into the fire.

Six long years have passed and believing her estranged husband is dead, Lady Katherine is set to move on with her life. Standing in St. John’s Chapel at Westminster Palace in front of King Edward and the court, Lady Katherine is poised to speak her wedding vows to Sir Luc de Joinville, a man who desires children and will see to her happiness. But before the ceremony can proceed, the silence of the chapel is disturbed by the crash of the doors opening and the appearance of a disheveled and dirty man. None other than Sir Alex de Beaumont.

After two years fighting in the Crusades and four years being held as a slave in a Saracen prison, Sir Alex has finally set foot on English soil only to discover his wife, Lady Katherine, is about to marry his one-time friend, Sir Luc. Needless to say, Lady Katherine is shocked to see her husband alive. Her shock soon turns to anger as the feelings of abandonment and betrayal fill her heart again. But Sir Alex will not be gainsaid. He will have his wife again and soon. Not having sex for six years tends to make a man very moody, aggressive and more than determined! Striking a marriage bargain agreement with Lady Katherine, Sir Alex is given one month to woo his lady wife back or he agrees to apply for an annulment to the Pope. In addition to winning back the woman he has dreamed about every night for the last six years, Sir Alex is also intent on discovering the identity of the person who oversaw his capture during the Crusades and his harsh, brutal imprisonment.

This is a wonderful story, full of betrayal, intrigue and the up and down journey of two individuals learning to trust and open their hearts to a love full of companionship and passion. I hope that you will give this debut a try!

~ Buffie

Saturday, November 21, 2009


We hope you all had as much fun visiting with the Squawkers as we did.  We'd like to thank them again for all the wonderful books they provided for our giveaways.  Congratulations to all the winners.  If you haven't already done so, please email your full name and snail mail address to us at theromancedish(AT)gmail(DOT)com.   

Prizes from Christina Dodd:
Scent of Darkness - Ms. Hellion
Storm of Visions - LuvEurope1
Some Enchanted Evening - Maureen

Elizabeth Bevarly:
"Male" Trilogy - Dorthy
"Male" Trilogy - Sue Hussein
"Derby" Trilogy - Janga
Double the Heat - JediSakora
Double the Heat - Keri Stevens
Double the Heat - JWZ 1978

Eloisa James:
Essex Sisters quartet - Elyssa Papa

Teresa Medeiros:
Vampire Duet - Jane
Wicked/Wild Duet - hrdwrkdmom a/k/a Dianna

Connie Brockway:
So Enchanting - Deb's Book Nook
So Enchanting - Santa
So Enchanting - Irisheyes

Guest Blog: The Sweet (Potato) Side of Thanksgiving

One of my greatest pleasures is spending time in the kitchen with good friends.  Today, we're delighted to have Jenn Colman join us in our Cozy Kitchen.  Jenn is my niece and long-time kitchen buddy who also happens to be a fabulous cook and baker.  Please join us in welcoming her to The Romance Dish~PJ

Halloween has come and gone and if you have managed to shake off the sugar-induced coma long enough to venture out, you'd be hard pressed to miss the explosion of holiday decorations.  If you live in Florida like I do,  this is the only indication that the holiday season has arrived.  The average temperature here is still in the 80s!

The holidays are my favorite time of year.  Everything seems to slow.  The hustle and bustle of everyday life ebbs (I do my shopping online!), if only briefly, allowing us to focus on the things in life that endure.  For me, this is the love of my family.  There is nothing more important to me, and it's this time of year that really makes me want to not only embrace every second of joy they bring me, but to also show my thanks for their never-ending love and support.  It's my personal belief that there is no better way to do this than through food.

Brings a whole new meaning to love handles!

I was lucky enough to be given a wonderful culinary education from a very young age and most of my most cherished memories happened in a kitchen.  The family recipes I've collected are much like a diary of my life; every one of them has a story on which I look back fondly.  When I make chocolate chip cookies, it's as if my Aunt Patty is in the kitchen with me, helping me work that beautiful culinary magic while trying to keep my fingers out of the cookie dough.  Whenever I felt homesick at college, I would try to recreate my dad's amazing pancakes and remember all the weekend mornings he'd wake up early to make breakfast for all of us.  I can't even look at sugar cookies without thinking of every Christmas holiday during which my grandmother and I spent hours decorating Christmas trees, angels and reindeer.

With only a few days until Thanksgiving, this post is to honor my mom's sweet potato casserole.  After inquiring as to the recipe's origins, she informed me that she really couldn't say, but it was something she adapted from numerous different recipes she came in contact with.  It might not be a recipe that has been in my family for generations, but it has been a feature at every Thanksgiving dinner I can remember, and it always fills me with a sense of warmth and peace.  It is home and family and everything I love.

 And it has streusel.  Who doesn't love streusel?

Mom's Sweet Potato Casserole

4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

1 cup white sugar

2 beaten eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

1/2 stick butter*


2 cups packed brown sugar

1 cup flour

1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 stick melted butter*

1.  Preheat oven to 350°.  Boil sweet potatoes until fork tender.  Drain.
2.  Using electric mixer, mash sweet potatoes.  Gradually add sugar, eggs, vanilla, butter, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Mash until smooth.  Turn mixture into your favorite baking dish.
3.  Combine topping ingredients and mix until crumbly.  Sprinkle evenly over potato mixture and bake for 30 minutes or until topping is crusty and brown.
4.  Throw your scale out the window and have a moment of silence for your waistline.  Elastic waist pants are advised.
5.  Enjoy!
The best thing about this casserole is that it can be used as a side dish or even a dessert!

* My mom always uses salted butter in cooking.  If you prefer to use unsalted butter, I would suggest adding 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of salt to the potato mixture.

Photographic evidence of my lack of self-control.

Tell me about your favorite family recipes!  Are they generations old or something new you developed?  Do they have interesting family stories to go along with them?  What are your quintessential holiday dishes?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Happy House Warming by Missy Tippens

We are so excited to have inspirational romance and southern fiction writer Missy Tippens visiting with us today. Missy is a very busy woman! Not only is she a fabulous author, she is a wife, mother of three, owner of two dogs and a cat, owns a home-based business, and until recently an anatomy and physiology professor at a local college. How she does it all we have no idea! So without further ado, please give Missy a very warm welcome.

Congratulations on the launch of your wonderful new site! I’m excited to be part of the house warming celebration this week. And in honor of that, I thought it would be fun to talk about homey things—things that make a house a home. Especially for this holiday season.

Number one for me is familiar scents. I love the smell of home! And the smell of my parents’ home. And even though it’s been 20 years since she died, I remember the smell of my grandmother’s house. I love the familiar, but I also love to do special holiday fragrances. Pine, candied apple, gingerbread, vanilla, pumpkin… I enjoy setting out candles and essential oil burners. I love to put on a pot of spiced apple cider and have it warming when guests arrive. Yum!

Peace and security are another two biggies for me. I want to know that my home is a place where my children and their friends feel safe. Where we all feel comforted and loved. Sometimes that means turning off the TV (or music or video games or the computer or cell phones—which is not an easy feat with teenagers!) and making sure we all sit down for dinner. Or that we spend some time talking. It means dealing with conflict constructively and peacefully. It means leaving work…well, at work! It sometimes means letting the answering machine pick up during a meal or while doing something special together. It even means telling a teenager he/she can’t text for a while! The world can wear on us and tear us down. Home should be a place to be built up, recharged. A place to feel good being ourselves. I want our home to be a healthy, happy place!

Home is where we can express ourselves. I’m not big on decorating. It’s just not my thing, plus, it can get expensive. But my daughter is getting to the age where she wants to express herself more. And my oldest started doing it long ago with posters and his own art work on the walls. I like those simple things. My refrigerator is covered with the kids’ artwork from way back to pre-school. Family photos spanning several generations fill the shelves of our family room. I love comfortable, casual furniture. Others like beautiful antiques. No matter our style, it’s nice to have a place that fits us and is like sliding into comfy slippers when we come home.

When I think of home, I always think of food. I’m not sure if this is a totally good thing or not! :) But goodness, is there a time for food any bigger than Thanksgiving? My grandmother, and now my mother, always showed love in preparing a huge Thanksgiving feast. Turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, candied sweet potatoes, broccoli casserole, asparagus casserole, homemade rolls, cranberry sauce, cranberry Jell-O salad, pecan pie, pumpkin pie… When I go home to Kentucky for a visit, my parents always want to feed us. My dad plans a menu ahead of time, then he buys all the groceries. Then he and my mom cook the meals we love best, all our favorites. It shows us love. And I hope I do the same for my children. Even someone who’s not a good cook can show love through creating memories, through starting family traditions.

I hope you’ve felt a sense of homeyness today! I tried to create that in my new release from Steeple Hill Love Inspired, A Forever Christmas. Check out Buffie's review here. I just love doing stories about returning home, about reunions with former loves. I’ll be giving away a copy of A Forever Christmas today in a drawing from among those who leave a comment!

Will you share some of the things that make a house a home for you?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Lori Brighton's winners!

And the winners of copies of WILD HEART are:
Carey Baldwin

Congratulations, ladies! Please send your full name and address to Lori at loribrightonATyahooDOTcom. Thank you!!

PRIME TIME for Romance by Hank Phillippi Ryan

While attending this year's Moonlight & Magnolias conference in Atlanta, we met the nicest and most gracious lady. She encouraged us and gave us tips when we talked about starting our own blog/review site. Despite the fact that she is a very busy lady, she offered to help us in any way she could. It seemed only fitting to ask her to blog with us during our Housewarming Party week. And thus, she is with us today. Please help us welcome award-winning mystery author Hank Phillippi Ryan to The Romance Dish!

Where’s the romance in Thanksgiving? Where’s the mystery?

First, the dish on the mystery. It’s the gravy. Why is it after so many years of making Thanksgiving dinner for various numbers of family and friends, every year on Thanksgiving morning I wake up with the burning (ouch) question: How do you make gravy?

Is it easy for you? I’ve been a TV reporter for the past 30 years. Like my mystery heroine, I wire myself with hidden cameras, go undercover into tricky situations, confront corrupt politicians and chase down criminals. But the gravy thing? No can do.

Maybe my relationship with gravy needs to heat up a bit. More easily than making gravy, I could write a scene where our heroine, with an adorable smudge of cornstarch on her cheek and a cute black apron tied over her holiday mini-skirt (well, its fiction) stands, perplexed, at the stove. Before her, a bubbling quantity of liquid, simmering in a gleaming copper pan.

It’s Thanksgiving, of course, and this could be the most important holiday of her life.

It’s F day. As our story goes, her new boyfriend (and potentially the love of her life) has asked her home for Thanksgiving dinner. And she’s meeting his Family. F day. And, with his mother waiting in the living room, our heroine has volunteered to help with dinner. Including the gravy.

Talk about goals. Talk about motivation. Talk about conflict.

Our heroine stands, baffled, in front of the still-soupy mess.
The turkey, fragrant and glistening brown, is finishing in the oven. Our heroine checks the little pop up timer to make sure it hasn’t popped. Gazing at the plastic button, she asks the other persistent Thanksgiving question— do those things work? And if so, how?

Meanwhile, back to the gravy. Our heroine stands and stirs, worrying, and somehow deciding that if the gravy turns out, so will her happily ever after. But there it is, like her future, murky, and watery, and not coming together.

Footsteps behind her. Our hero, in a (fill in your personal preference here) sweater and tight jeans (I decided that one) comes toward her. He uses one finger to swipe the cornstarch smudge from her cheek, and risks a quick kiss, even with The Family in the next room. He smells of lemon and champagne.

“Sweetheart,” he says—

Wait a minute. How did this happen? I was thinking about the certainly-looming moment when I once again realize it’s time to face the gravy, and somehow—and I think it’s your fault—my thoughts veered into a potentially lust-filled scene which winds up with the whipped cream designed for the pumpkin pie being put to other uses.

Where’s the mystery in Thanksgiving? Will our heroine solve the mystery of the gravy...and manage to get the sweet potatoes and the stuffing and the green bean casserole all hot and ready at the same time when she only has one oven?

And where’s the romance in Thanksgiving? Will her hero be all hot and ready when the dinner is over? Okay, maybe I’ve gone too far with this. Maybe not. But it just shows there’s romance wherever you allow it!

There are endless possibilities for a Thanksgiving happily-ever-after. So long as there’s family, and friends…and the possibility of giving thanks for each other.
Happy Thanksgiving to you all…and I’m delighted to dish. (As long as I don’t have to bring the gravy.)

Any Thanksgiving tips? Love to hear about them…leave us a comment, and Hank’s team of accountants (!) will help the Dish divas draw for three winners of ARCs of Hank’s award-wining PRIME TIME!


Award-winning investigative reporter Hank Phillippi Ryan is currently on the air at Boston's NBC affiliate, where she's broken big stories for the past 22 years. Her stories have resulted in new laws, people sent to prison, homes removed from foreclosure, and millions of dollars in refunds and restitution for consumers.

Along with her 26 EMMYs, Hank's won also won dozens of other journalism honors. She's been a legislative aide in the United States Senate (working on the Freedom of Information Act) and at Rolling Stone Magazine (working with Hunter S. Thompson).

Her first romantic-suspense mysteries, PRIME TIME (which won the prestigious Agatha Award for Best First Novel, was a double RITA nominee for Best First Book and Best Romantic Suspense Novel, and a Reviewers' Choice Award Winner) and FACE TIME (Book Sense Notable Book), are current best sellers. The newest in the series is the already-bestselling AIR TIME (MIRA Sept. 2009) (Suzanne Brockmann says: "I love this series!") Watch for DRIVE TIME from MIRA in February 2010.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

In the Beginning...there was Squawk Radio

I remember clearly the day I discovered Squawk Radio. Christina Dodd had sent an announcement to her mailing list and, as I read it, I thought to myself, "How interesting! She's started a blog with five other authors! What's a blog?" Curiosity won the day and I clicked on the link that would introduce me to the wonders of blogging and the phenomenon that was Squawk Radio.

What captured my attention that first visit was the unique dynamic among the six Squawkers. These weren't just authors who had decided to write about various topics in a public venue. These were six women who were generous enough to open a window into their lives and their close friendship and grant all of us a front row seat. The atmosphere they created within their blog encouraged a unique relationship not only between the Squawkers and their readers but also among the readers who were regular visitors. Many close friendships that began and were nourished during the days of Squawk Radio remain strong to this day. They quickly became my favorite internet destination, the first site I visited each morning and my last stop each night. I confess, there were many visits in between too!

With Lisa's beauty tips, Teresa's "Odes to Russell and Donny", Christina's step-by-step house construction (including the hunky landscape crew), Liz's eclectic taste in music, Connie's hysterically funny typos, Eloisa's wonderfully dry wit, Kitty's "hot to trot" antics and an array of talented guests, there was never a dull moment at Squawk Radio. It was, and is, the pinnacle of blogging perfection.

How fortunate we all were to have gone along for the ride.

Though the doors to Squawk Radio closed more than two years ago, the Squawkers have not disappeared from the internet landscape. They can still be found at Facebook, Twitter, their respective websites and bulletin boards as well as guesting at various blogs...when they aren't tucked away in their writer's caves, creating literary magic...or stalking Russell Crowe.

Here's what they've been up to lately:

Lisa Kleypas

Lisa's latest:

Teresa Medeiros

Teresa's latest:

Christina Dodd

Christina's latest:

Connie's latest:

Eloisa James

Eloisa's latest:

Please join us in welcoming the Squawkers to The Romance Dish!

The Squawkers have generously provided books for today's blog giveaway - a lot of books! Thank you, Squawkers! Random winners will be chosen throughout the day.

Were you a Squawk Radio regular? How did you discover Squawk Radio? What are some of your favorite memories of the blog? Do you have any questions for the Squawkers? They will be stopping by throughout the day so ask away.

What qualities bring you back to a blog day after day?