Sunday, January 31, 2010

Coming Attractions for February

Can you believe that January is practically over? We have another fun-filled month planned here at The Romance Dish with guest blogs, reviews, interviews and giveaways. Check out what's in store for February.

Emmy award winning investigative reporter and best selling mystery author Hank Phillipi Ryan will be with us on Monday, February 1st to talk about her latest Charlotte McNally mystery, Drive Time.

On Tuesday, February 2nd, Jennifer Estep joins us to dish about Spider's Bite, the first book in her new Elemental Assassin series.

New York Times bestselling author Vicki Lewis Thompson will be joining us on Wednesday, February 3rd to tell us all about her brand new Babes on Brooms series and the first book, Blonde With A Wand and the second in the series, Chick With A Charm which will be released in March 2010. No one does witty witches like Vicki!

Don't miss our very own Anna Campbell's interview with the inimitable Laura Kinsale on Thursday, February 4th. Laura's brand new book, Lessons in French has been earning rave reviews.

Erotica author Vonna Harper is blogging with us on Friday, February 5th.

The heat is still on when erotica author Stephanie Julian is our guest on Monday, February 8th.

You don't want to miss Andrea's New Releases on Tuesday, February 9th. She'll have the latest books to add to your ever-growing TBR stacks!

Trish Milburn is back on Wednesday, February 10th with the Teen Menu. She always has great YA books to share.

Futuristic romance author Ann O'Bannon will be talking with us on Thursday, February 11th.

Romance Bandit and New York Times bestselling author Kate Carlisle is hanging with us on Friday, February 12th to give us the scoop on the second book in her Bibliophile Mystery series, If Books Could Kill.

Kensington Aphrodisia erotica author PJ Mellor is our guest on Sunday, February 14th. Looks like it's going to be a hot Valentine's Day!

And speaking of hot, the month wouldn't be complete without checking out Buffie's Hot Dish on Monday, February 15th. Can't wait to see what she has in store for us!

Debut author Brenda Gayle will be with us on Tuesday, February 16th to tell us all about her book, Soldier For Love. Brenda will be donating 25% of all her book royalties (print and e-book) to the Haitian relief effort.

Mark your calendars for Wednesday, February 17th. NYT bestselling author and Squawk Radio babe Teresa Medeiros will be in the house. Get ready for lots of fun and laughter!

Contemporary romance and romantic suspense author Madelle Morgan will be telling us all about her book, Diamond Lust on Friday, February 19th.

Monday, February 22nd will be author Allison Knight's day to dish with us.

Get ready for a Second Helping with Anna Campbell when she shares another fabulous book review with us on Wednesday, February 24th.

We'll wrap up the month with a visit from RITA award winning historical romance author Sophia Nash. She'll join us on Thursday, February 25th to chat about her latest book, Secrets of A Scandalous Bride, book IV in her fantastic Widows Club series.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Review - Blonde With A Wand

Blonde With A Wand
By Vicki Lewis Thompson
Publisher: Signet Eclipse
Release Date: February 2, 2010

Anica Reaves is crazy about Jasper Danes, but she's not so sure he'll feel the same way about her once she tells him she's a witch. After all, the last guy she revealed that secret to ran like a bat out of hell. But Anica insists on honesty with any man she's involved with. But during her dinner date with Jasper, Anica discovers he's been less than honest with her. Unfortunately, her temper gets the best of her and she zaps Jasper with her wand turning him into a cat. Because she uses her magic in a negative way against another, Anica is stripped of her powers. How in the world will she remove the hex now?

Jasper thinks his date with Anica is going perfectly and plans for tonight to be "the night", but when Anica returns from the ladies' room, her demeanor has changed from affection to disdain. Things don't improve as they are walking toward Anica's apartment, and Jasper foolishly thinks he can thaw Anica's iciness with a little seduction and a kiss. The next thing he knows, he's sitting under his pile of clothes, transformed into one very ticked off cat. It gives a whole new meaning to "date from hell!"

Anica wrangles a hissing and spitting Jasper and takes him back to her apartment, anxious to hide her magic faux pas from everyone. She knows if the Wizard Council finds out what she's done, she'll be in deep woo woo. Desperate for help, Anica calls her sister, Lily, hoping that she might be able to help find a way to reverse the spell. Anica has always been the "responsible" sister and Lily's the "wild one", so it irks Anica to have screwed up in such a huge way. Unfortunately, nothing Lily does with a wave of her wand helps Jasper, and Anica can't find any counter-spell in any of her magic tomes. Help comes from Big Knob, Indiana in the form of Dorcas and Ambrose, the magical matchmakers from Thompson's popular Hex Series.

Jasper is counting the minutes until he turns back into a man, and he can get even with Anica. But the longer he spends with her, the more he wants her. Every night he becomes human, but returns to his feline form again in the morning. But those hours as a man only serve to stir up the chemistry between him and Anica, and Jasper thinks that maybe being with this sexy witch isn't such a bad deal after all. He even learns to enjoy the simplicity of his life as a cat:

He was now a champion nap-taker, too, and he had to acknowledge that naps lowered his stress levels. He also had meditation skills to rival the Dalai Lama and the patience of...well, of a saint. As a man he used to sit and drum his fingers on the desk while his computer booted up. Now he simply sat and waited.

....He realized with some surprise that there were things he'd miss about being a cat.

Anica and Jasper are about to be tested in ways they never dreamed, and they will have to decide if they are willing to sacrifice the most precious magic of

Vicki Lewis Thompson has given her readers another fun and whimsical series. If you are a fan of Bewitched and witch Samantha Stevens and the mayhem her magic sometimes caused with her human husband, then you'll love Blonde With A Wand, the first book in Thompson's Babes on Brooms Series. Jasper's close encounter with Anica's nosy neighbor who wants to take him to the vet to be neutered had me laughing out loud.

The second book in the series, Chick With A Charm, will be released in March. It's all about Lily, Anica's sister. No doubt she's going to make Anica's magical slip up look minor in comparison. Treat yourself to a little magic and a lot of laughter and read Blonde With A Wand.

~ Gannon

Friday, January 29, 2010

Guest Author - - Jo Davis

Jo Davis was a public school teacher for sixteen years before leaving to pursue her dream of being a full-time writer. She writes romantic suspense and erotica for NAL, has been a finalist for the Colorado Romance Writers Award of Excellence, has won the HOLT Medallion Award of Merit, and has had one of her books optioned as a major motion picture. Check out her website for more information about Jo and her books.

Welcome to The Romance Dish, Jo!  We’re delighted to have you with us today.  HIDDEN FIRE (*love* that cover!), the third book in your Firefighters of Station Five series was recently released. Will you tell us a bit about the story?

Hello, ladies! I’m thrilled to be here at the Romance Dish! Thanks so much for inviting me. Without further ado…

Station Five’s bad boy, Julian Salvatore, has met his match in cool attorney Grace McKenna. When they first met in TRIAL BY FIRE, Jules fell for her and began his campaign to win her over. Grace, however, is well aware of his rep as a ladies’ man and isn’t willing to become a notch on his bedpost. She also senses that his behavior is a coping mechanism he uses to hide some very heavy baggage, and shies from becoming too involved with a man who needs to be “fixed”. But her heart has little say in the matter when all her preconceived notions about him are shattered one by one, and she gradually learns there’s a heart of gold beating underneath his unrepentant, sexy exterior. Before they can find happiness, however, the ghosts of his past must be put to rest…

Click here to read an excerpt from HIDDEN FIRE.

I fell in love with Jules. What woman doesn’t want to be *the one* to bring love and joy into a tormented romance hero’s life? Do you fall in love with your heroes? Is it hard to leave them behind once you’ve finished writing their stories?

Oh, yes, I definitely fall in love with my heroes! I especially fell for Julian, who had such a long way to go in healing emotionally. Saying goodbye to each one is always tough, which is part of the reason I love to write a series—I get to keep the guys around just a little longer. I hate goodbyes so much, I never type “The End” at the end of my manuscript before I turn it in! In my head I’m thinking, “But it’s not really the end, it’s only the beginning…”

I feel the same way!  I really hate saying goodbye to the characters of a much loved book.  I think that's why I'm such a fan of  the multi-book series. 

The villains in this book are particularly heinous. How difficult is it to write a villain? As the creator, are you able to detach yourself from their crimes or are you thrown into the maelstrom?

I love writing villains, and my friends will tell you that’s because I have a warped, evil mind! I throw myself into the role, really getting into their heads, and it’s sometimes a scary place to be. But I’m fascinated by the psychology of the criminal mind, what makes him or her tick. I don’t just wing it, though. I have research books at my fingertips to consult and make sure the villain I’m creating is exhibiting the appropriate behaviors for his or her type of criminal. My premise for the killers in HIDDEN FIRE began with a question: What if, very early on, one victim escaped the grisly fate intended for him, and never knew it?

While researching for the villains in HIDDEN FIRE, I learned that it’s not uncommon for killers to work in pairs or teams, and I read several case studies that gave me goosebumps. Chilling, huh? Fact is always more stunning than fiction.

Your villains sure gave me goosebumps!

What’s next for the men and women from Station Five?

Tommy Skyler, the station’s youngest firefighter, will get his story, LINE OF FIRE, on May 4!   Ex-football hero Tommy will work hard to win his lady love, Shea Ford, who happens to be Detective Shane Ford’s twin. (And yes, fans of Shane, he has a meaty role and you’ll get to know a more personal side of him!) My readers have also been waiting for Captain Sean Tanner to cause a major train wreck, and in Tommy’s story, lives are changed forever. On the suspense side of things, an old title pops into my head that says it all: Something Wicked This Way Comes. Tommy’s story propels us headlong into Sean’s story, RIDE THE FIRE, which will be released in December. The end of Tommy’s story reveals a shocker that gave my editor the chills, and blows out of the water something readers thought they knew. 

On top of that, the frightening thing is, what is coming to Sugarland can happen in any town, anywhere. Sean will have to put the past behind him once and for all if he hopes to avert evil and win the woman he loves… 

Click here to read an excerpt from LINE OF FIRE. 

Oh man, talk about a teaser!  I can't wait to get my hands on this book!  

Jo, you recently hinted (at Romance Bandits) that we might see a new series down the road starring some secondary characters from the Station Five books. Any news you care to share on that? I can’t be the only one who wants to know more about Tonio and Shane!

I don’t have any real news yet and can’t say too much about it, but I’m working on a new romantic suspense series proposal that will make my readers very happy should it be accepted by my publisher. The new series will be more gritty, while featuring those melt-your-panties heroes we love! All I can say is I very much hope to be able to give Detective Shane Ford’s and Anthony (Tonio) Salvatore’s stories to my readers.

We're hoping for the same thing!  

You also write erotic suspense thrillers. Your new SHADO Agency series premiers February 2, 2010 with I SPY A WICKED SIN which received 4 ½ stars from RT Magazine. Congratulations! What can we expect from the men of SHADO?

Thanks so much! I was thrilled with the RT review, and other early feedback I’ve received. The SHADO Agency series was created on this premise: James Bond meets Bourne Identity and goes erotic. I wanted to write a scorching erotic romantic suspense series involving sexy spies who encounter a host of dangerous and titillating situations, and who always get their man! Or woman. It’s a three-book series with an arch-villain who’s a major player throughout the three books, yet there’s a happily-ever-after at the end of each.

I SPY A WICKED SIN features hero Jude St. Laurent, who’s blind and suffering from huge holes in his memory. Worse, he has no clue he’s a former assassin who’s been blamed for the theft of a stolen weapon of mass destruction and is marked for death. And our heroine, fellow agent Lily Vale, has been sent to eliminate him… I hope my readers enjoy Jude’s story!  

Click here to read an excerpt from I SPY A WICKED SIN.

You certainly have been blessed with some lovely covers, Jo. *grin*  I'm looking forward to reading I SPY A WICKED SIN.  It sounds fascinating. 

Thanks so much for visiting with us today.  I'm sure our readers have questions for you but is there anything you'd like to ask them?

I’m curious to know if there’s a series out there that readers would love to devour, but isn’t being done right now. Answer this: I’d LOVE to read a series about _____, featuring heroes that are _____. Let your imagination run wild!

Jo has generously offered to send copies of HIDDEN FIRE and  I SPY A WICKED SIN to two lucky commenters, chosen at random.  Each of the winners will receive both books.


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Review -- Bunco Babes Gone Wild

Bunco Babes Gone Wild
By Maria Geraci
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: October 27, 2009

What happens when you combine twelve women, a handful of dice, some gossip, and lots of frozen drinks? A rip-roaring good time!

Georgia Meyer arrives in Whispering Bay, Florida, to visit her sister, Frida, and in desperate need of some time to think. She is currently the CFO of a major electronics company in Birmingham, Alabama, and is dating the company boss, Spencer Moody. For their five year anniversary dinner, Georgia is expecting a proposal and a ring. Understandable after five years together. Instead, she receives a calculator. An expensive calculator, but still. So Georgia drives down intending to stay only a couple of days reflecting on what to do and ends up getting roped into playing Bunco with Frida and her friends, the Bunco Babes. After several (or more) drinks, the gals start to get a bit rowdy and one of the Bunco Babes gets asked to show off her new boob job. She flashes them and then another gal flashes hers and then as Georgia describes it:

After that, all hell broke loose. Everyone was flashing. It was a blur of nipples and pale-colored flesh. There were big boobs, little boobs, somewhere-in-the-middle boobs. Sort of like an R-rated version of Dr. Seuss.

At this point, I was laughing out loud! And then, of course, who would walk in while Georgia was flashing hers but the gorgeous guy she had a slight run-in with earlier, Dave Hernandez. And by the look on his face, he likes what he sees. They’re both in Whispering Bay “temporarily”, but Georgia’s frequent interactions and growing attraction to the sexy construction worker make her really question whether Spencer is the one. Or could what she feels for Dave be the real thing?

This book was so much fun that I gobbled it up! I enjoy playing Bunco and you can tell Ms. Geraci does, too. Not only does she showcase the budding, hot romance between Dave and Georgia, but also the importance of having great girlfriends. These women know everything about each other and always stick together to help when a friend is in need. I wanted to be a Babe! Plus, there are a lot of great recipes included along with short snippets about a few real Bunco groups. If you’re looking for a great book that’s funny and quick to read, pick this one up!


I enjoyed Bunco Babes Gone Wild so much, I'd love to give a copy away to one lucky commenter today!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Review -- The Golden Season

The Golden Season
By Connie Brockway
Publisher: Onyx
Release Date: February 2, 2010

The Golden Season is my very first Connie Brockway book. Yes, you read that correctly. I don’t know why I haven’t read her books before (except to say that I already read a lot of authors), but I am so glad I have now. Her writing is exquisite and the romance is one of the most beautiful I’ve read in a long time.

Lady Lydia Eastlake is quite the celebrity in Regency London. Yes, she is extremely beautiful. Yes, she is insanely wealthy. And yes, she is the epitome of respectability. But it’s the combination of those plus her independence that makes her so popular. Born to parents whose marriage was met with scandal (it was considered taboo by many for a widow to marry her brother-in-law), Lydia enjoyed an extravagant, globe-trotting lifestyle during her childhood. Upon her parents’ sudden death, Lydia came to England to live with a guardian until her godmother, Eleanor, Duchess of Grenville, took her under her wing. From the moment she debuted, Lydia took London by storm and continues to do so. And then one day while meeting with her banker, Lydia finds out that she is bankrupt.

“No,” she said, shaking her head. “I’m sorry. I can’t be poor. Too many people depend on me. Craftsman and merchants, artisans and wine brokers, tradesmen and other such businesses.”

This was doing it a bit brown. “They do have other clients,” he said.

She frowned, more annoyed than offended. “I don’t think you properly appreciate my position, Terwilliger. I am not just another member of the ton. I am”—she cast about for the appropriate word—“I am an industry.”

Was she twitting him? She’d always had an odd sense of humor.

“Terwilliger,” she said with a touch of exasperation, “I dine at an establishment and its reputation is made. I import a certain varietal wine for a dinner party and within a week the vintner has orders for the next five years and the vineyard where the wine comes from is secure for a decade. I wear a perfume and not only is that fragrance’s popularity guaranteed, but the perfumery’s, too. The same can be said of the mill that produces the silk for my gowns, the musician I hire for an afternoon salon, the composer I employ to write a new sonata ...” She trailed off, studying him to gauge whether he understood.

He recognized in surprise that she was right and once again was visited by the uncomfortable notion that behind all her frivolity, Lady Lydia understood very well the world in which she lived. She was an industry. True, the ton was filled with fashion makers, but no one save Beau Brummell had captivated the public imagination like Lady Lydia Eastlake. She drew crowds wherever she went. People stood in line outside the shops she frequented and lined Rotten Row each afternoon hoping to get a glimpse of her riding past in her barouche.

In this passage, Lydia comes across as being a bit vane and a touch spoiled, but I see it more as confidence. Even when she behaves this way, she is still thinking of others. The fact that she is so genuine and knows exactly who she is made me appreciate and like her right from the start. She acts the way she does because that’s what she’s always known and what has always been expected of her. So, Lydia’s choices are pretty clear: either live off of a pittance and keep her beloved independence or marry a wealthy man and live comfortably without that freedom. As expected, Lydia chooses the latter.

Captain Edward “Ned” Lockton, recently retired from His Majesty’s naval service, comes home to Josten Hall to be with his family in the ancestral home he has always loved. Home only a week and Ned is informed by his brother the earl that the family’s fortune is gone and that Ned is to find an heiress and marry her as soon as possible. Ned goes to London, not because he is forced to or shamed into going, but because he sincerely loves his family in spite of their spoiled and self-indulgent ways. He likes to keep the peace. From the moment he first matches wits with Lydia, Ned sets out to win her. Sigh. He is sensible and always composed (he reminded me a bit of Mr. Darcy) and while it takes a little while for Lydia to crack his reserve, the reader is left with no doubt as to how he feels (one thing in particular that he does made me cry!). And the fact that Lydia is enormously wealthy pretty much seals the deal. But how will each take the news that the other does not have what they require in a spouse?

I loved, loved, LOVED this story! It has been a while since I’ve read a historical romance that was so well written and thoroughly blew me away. Seriously, I could not put it down. Everything about it was simply perfect; from the levelheaded, honorable Ned to the self-assured, compassionate Lydia; from the quirky but charming secondary characters to the slow-building romance sprinkled with tension, which when left in Ms. Brockway’s adept hands, unfolded beautifully. This may be my first Brockway book, but it isn’t going to be my last. I’ve already ordered several from her backlist, including so many romance readers’ top ten all-time favorite, All Through the Night. So, if you couldn’t already tell, I highly recommend The Golden Season. You don’t want to miss it!


Review -- All Night With a Rogue

All Night With a Rogue
By Alexandra Hawkins
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release Date: February 2, 2010

Alexius Braverton, Marquess of Sinclair – or Sin to his friends and lovers – is given a simple request by his beloved sister, Belle: seduce Lady Juliana Ivers and then reject her. Evidently, Lady Juliana is threatening Belle’s relationship with a suitor. Sin has no doubt that the task will be easy enough. After all, he and his friends (known as the Lords of Vice) are notorious for their expertise in the art of seduction . . . which is precisely why they formed a private club wherein to carry out those disreputable activities. However, Sin doesn’t realize that Lady Juliana is the same young woman he’d recently become instantly attracted to upon their unusual meeting at a fĂȘte. So naturally the situation turns out to be most convenient for him. Or so he thinks.

Like so many young ladies of the ton, Lady Juliana Ivers comes to London to enjoy the Season with her mother and sisters. Her mother, Lady Duncombe, wants to find husbands for her daughters since the family was left with little money upon her husband’s untimely death years ago. Conversely, Juliana has other plans. She loves music and creates her own compositions, so her sole reason for being in town is to find someone to publish her sonatas. Then the pesky Marquess of Sinclair takes an interest in her and begins to openly court her. She knows that he isn’t marriage material, so why is he constantly everywhere she goes? And why does she start to not mind that he is?

This sexy debut from Alexandra Hawkins begins what promises to be a great series full of sensually decadent heroes. And wow, does this one start off with a bang! The opening scene is one that I’ll not forget anytime soon. Picture the heroine hiding in a tree watching as the hero is being pleasured on a bench below. Yep, certainly got my attention!

Sin and Juliana mix well together – both are passionate, though in entirely different subjects, and both are very clever. Once they become lovers, Juliana is smart enough to have absolutely no illusions that it will lead to marriage because she knows Sin’s reputation. Even after falling in love with him, she harbors no ideas of marriage with him. More than anything, she envies the freedoms and privileges he enjoys as a man, especially since being a woman hinders her from having her music published. Even though Sin is a complete rake, he loves his sister, flaws and all. Yet it’s his relationship with Juliana that makes him want to better himself. Therefore, he is completely torn between the two.

He owed his loyalty and love to one and greatly admired and desired the other. What had begun as a lark had become complicated ever since he allowed his growing affection for Juliana to sway him.

I really enjoyed Sin and Juliana’s journey, despite the fact that at one point they were kept apart a bit too long for my tastes. Ms. Hawkins does make up for it, however. Sin’s grand gesture for winning over the fair Lady Juliana and gaining her forgiveness is nothing short of sigh-worthy. Each of the other future heroes – all with equally delicious nicknames – are introduced in this one and I can’t wait to read the next book in the series, Til Dawn with a Devil, out August 2010. I certainly enjoyed spending All Night with a Rogue and believe you will, too!


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Review -- Promise Me Tonight

Promise Me Tonight
Book 1 - Weston Family Series
By Sara Lindsey
Publisher:  Signet Eclipse
Release Date:  February 2, 2010

At the tender age of six, Isabella Weston announced her intention to marry James Sheffield in a letter to her mother.  At the age of 14, she secured a promise from James to dance with her at her come-out ball and on the night of her ball she declared her love and sent James - the boy next door, her older brother's best friend and the love of her life - fleeing to Ireland.

After the tragic deaths of his parents and infant sister, ten-year-old James Sheffield swore he would never open his heart to the pain of love again. Shipped off to England to live with his grandfather, the cold, heartless Earl of Dunstan, James spent his childhood being told over and over that he was a disappointment and unworthy of being loved.  The only affection he ever received, the only people he considered family were the Westons next door to his grandfather's estate. As close to his best friend, Henry Weston, as a brother, he would never do anything to betray his friendship or his trust - and that includes lusting after Henry's little sister. But a fully grown, exquisitely beautiful, Isabella Weston is a force of nature and when James is called home following his grandfather's death, Isabella takes matters into her own hands.

Promise Me Tonight is the first book in Sara Lindsey's Weston family series, focusing on the lives and loves of the seven irrepressible Weston siblings. The writing is passionate, funny and endearing - evoking laughter, tears, sighs and the desire for many more stories from the talented Ms. Lindsey. Her dialogue is, by turns, sparkling, amusing and heartfelt - as in this passage when 20-year-old James comforts a young Isabella.

The small smile she gave him made James feel like the king of England - utterly grand and slightly mad. As James stared into her watery eyes, for a moment, it seemed as if he saw his soul gazing back at him; the thought terrified him, and he pulled his hands away as if burned.

Or, in this passage when Isabella's mother attempts to delicately question her daughter about whether she and James have done more than kiss.

"Oh!" Izzie's eyes grew wide with sudden comprehension. "You wanted to know if James and I were like Venus and Mars."
"I beg your pardon," her mother said. "Did you say Venus and Mars?"
Isabella nodded. "Yes, like the pictures in the book I found in - well, it's not important where I found it, and I only looked at it because I thought it was so odd to find a religious tract in...the place where I found it. Which is not important," she said again for good measure.
"I am afraid you've lost me. A religious tract?"
"That's just it!" Izzie waved her hands in frustration. "It wasn't religious at all, but the title was so misleading. Godly Love, I think it was called."
"Ah." Lady Weston nodded. "I believe I begin to understand. I can also imagine where you found it or, rather, whose possession it was in. I presume it has moved along with its owner to his bachelor lodgings so as not to corrupt any of my other children. Well, my other children aside from Olivia," she clarified, "since I can't imagine you kept such a find to yourself."
Isabella's blush proclaimed her guilt.
"Now back to the subject at hand - I trust you and James were not like" - Lady Weston swallowed hard - "Venus and Mars."
"Oh no!" Izzie exclaimed with horror.
Her mother breathed a huge sigh of relief. "Thank God!"
"It was more like Juno and Jupiter."
Lady Weston buried her face in her hands and made a choking sound. Isabella couldn't tell if she was laughing or crying. Maybe both.

I adore the Westons!  The feelings I had when I turned the final page of Promise Me Tonight were not unlike those that I felt upon finishing The Duke and I, the first book in Julia Quinn's Bridgerton series:  the pleasure of reading an emotional and heartwarming love story, the excitement of discovering a new and talented author and the anticipation of many years of books, telling the stories of family members that I'm eager to know better.   

With the publication of Promise Me Tonight, Sara Lindsey joins a cadre of 2009-2010 debut authors who have proven, through the quality of their writing, that the future of historical romance fiction is, indeed, in very capable and talented hands.


Review - Spider's Bite

Spider's Book
Elemental Assassin Book #1
By Jennifer Estep
Publisher: Pocket
Release Date: January 26, 2010

" My name is Gin, and I kill people."

After reading that opening line, I was hooked! Gin Blanco is an assassin who goes by the codename, "The Spider". Gin is able to control the elements of Stone and Ice, but when it comes to her "work", she prefers to rely on her silverstone knives. When she's not busy offing people for money, Gin works at The Pork Pit, the best barbecue joint in Ashland--maybe even the entire South, in Gin's opinion. The Pit is owned and run by Fletcher Lane, Gin's handler and father figure, who rescued her from the streets seventeen years ago. He is one of the few people she actually trusts and respects. Fletcher's latest job for Gin is for her to assassinate Gordon Giles, a suspected embezzler at Halo Industries. For Gin, it should be quick and easy--kill Giles while he's attending a night at the orchestra and collect her payment of five million dollars. And then what?

"Do this job, and you can retire.”

Retirement. Something that had been on Fletcher’s mind ever since I’d come back with a broken arm and a bruised spleen from a botched job six months ago in St. Augustine. The old man kept talking about me retiring in a dreamy tone, as if there were a world of options that would magically open up to me the second I put down my knives. Instead of the dull boredom of reality.

“I’m thirty, Fletcher. A highly effective, well-paid, sought-after professional in my area of expertise. I’m good at my job, the blood doesn’t bother me, and the people I kill have it coming. Why would I want to retire?”

More importantly, what would I do with myself? I had a very particular skill set, one that didn’t lend itself to a lot of options.

“Because there’s more to life than killing people and counting money, no matter how much one might enjoy them.” His green eyes locked with mine. “Because you shouldn’t have to look over your shoulder for the rest of your life. Don’t you want to live in the daylight a little, kid?”

Easier said than done. When Gin is setting up her kill shot for Giles, she spies Donovan Caine entering Giles' orchestra box. Donovan is a police detective, honest and by-the-book, unlike most of the Ashland police force. He has investigated many of Gin's "jobs", but her last is the one that has him hot on her trail and out for her blood: she assassinated his partner, Cliff Ingles. Of course, Donovan didn't know about Ingles' predilection for raping and beating up hookers, and even young girls. Gin did, and in her eyes, it justified his death. Normally, a cop would never be her "type", but Gin is more than a little intrigued by Donovan Caine.

I tracked Caine through the scope as he approached Giles. Thirty-two. Six foot one. Cropped black hair. Hazel eyes. Strong chin. Square jaw. Bumpy, crooked nose. Lean body. Bronze skin that showed his Hispanic heritage.

... Caine moved with the loose, easy confidence of a man who knows what he’s doing—and knows he can handle any- thing that comes his way.

Was there anything sexier than confidence and the skill to back it up? I didn’t think so. A hot awareness coursed through my body. My breasts tightened, and a small, pleasant ache settled between my thighs. I wondered if Donovan Caine would be that smooth and sure in bed. Bet he would.

While Gin is musing on Donovan and his sexiness, she hears the click of a gun and feels the coldness of the steel on the back of her skull. The assassin has become the target now; Gin discovers that she has been double crossed by her client. They have ordered her to be eliminated, in addition to Giles, leaving no loose ends dangling. But she's The Spider, and her double crossing client is about to feel the sting of her bite. Gin manages to escape, but Giles is killed and now Gin's face is all over the news as his murderer. As if that isn't bad enough, she arrives at The Pit to discover Fletcher has been tortured and murdered by a powerful Air elemental, and his son Finn has been beaten severely. In order to find who is behind everything, Gin must join forces with Donovan. Can an assassin and a cop work together? Or will Donovan Caine become entangled in The Spider's web?

Jennifer Estep has penned a dark, gritty and action packed urban fantasy. Gin is one tough cookie, but she has a soft heart when it comes to those she loves. And she is incredibly attracted to the tall, dark and equally tough Donovan Caine. I love how they continue to fight their attraction to each other, the tension and passion so palpable you can practically feel the pages heat up. And when they finally give in to their desires--oh, boy!-- it goes from smoke to a raging inferno! Being an urban fantasy, there is no HEA for Gin, but rest assured, she'll get one before the series ends. With a breath stealing cliff hanger, Estep leaves her readers anxious for the next book, Web of Lies, which will be released in June 2010. The third book, Venom, will follow in October 2010.

I enjoyed the roller coaster ride that this book took me on and can't wait to find out what's in store for Gin and Donovan. So if you're in the mood for something dark and dangerous, Spider's Bite will NOT disappoint!

~ Gannon

Monday, January 25, 2010

Anne Hope winner!

The winner of an e-copy of WHERE DREAMS ARE MADE is:


Congratulations, Jessica! Please email Anne at anneATannehopeDOTcom to let her know what format you would prefer. Thanks!

Guest Author -- Monica Burns

Monica Burns is an award-winning author of erotic romance and our special guest today! She penned her first short romance story at the age of nine when she selected the pseudonym she uses today. A workaholic wife and mother, Monica believes it’s possible for the good guy to win if they work hard enough. Her newest release, Kismet, hit shelves on January 5, 2010 and is garnering rave reviews around the net! Please help us welcome Monica to The Romance Dish!

Fate, Destiny, Kismet. Do you believe in it? I confess I do. I’m viewed by a lot of people as being weird. Although someone I met recently, told me I should label myself eccentric. I like that word. It probably is a much better description of me than “weird.” *grin* Now I share that tidbit with you because I firmly believe that everything that happens to me is destiny. That it happens because it’s supposed to. But not everyone holds my belief. Allegra Synnford, my heroine in Kismet, is one of them.

Allegra believes the exact opposite of my philosophy. Shaheen, the hero in Kismet, is a little less adamant about controlling his fate, but he too isn’t persuaded to believe as I do. But unlike Shaheen’s someone skeptical, yet nonchalant, point of view, Allegra is convinced she can control her own destiny. That inflexible conviction is why she does everything she can to regain control of her destiny when people throw obstacles in her way. That part I can understand. I don’t like it when I lose control of something, but with Kismet I did lose control. The initial draft of the book was a quagmire of bad writing, cold characters and a ticking time bomb for old wounds. To say the book was terrible is an understatement. Okay, I’m my harshest critic, but trust me, it was bad. But because I believe in destiny, I’ve come to realize that everything has a place and a purpose in the universe, and the initial draft of Kismet was something I had to put down on paper in order to write the book that was to come after it.

You see, Kismet is more than the book of my heart. It is the book of my soul. There are so many emotions in the book that I closely identify with that it scares me how deep I delved into my inner psyche to write this book. To see those stark emotions placed on the page makes me realize just how vulnerable and exposed I’ve made myself to the world at large. At the same time, it shows my leap of faith that readers will identify with the book’s intense emotions and will fall in love with my characters like I did.

I truly do believe that things happen for a reason and at the time they’re meant to happen. I believe its why, despite the fact that Berkley bought the book AFTER my first contract was signed, that Kismet is coming out first. Accepting that I have no control over anything isn’t always easy, but it does make it a little less painful to swallow harsh reviews, rejections from publishers and the muse’s stubborn inclination to leave me hanging in the wind (a rather stressful thing when one’s got a deadline to meet *grin*). Essentially, I’m giving up control and letting Kismet take the drivers seat as I anxiously await readers’ reaction to the book as they turn the pages toward Allegra and Shaheen’s HEA.

What about you? Do you believe in Kismet? More specifically, do you believe in destiny when it comes to getting that HEA?

Monica is graciously offering a copy of Kismet to one lucky commenter! (Print copy mailed to US residents ONLY – If the winner is outside of the US, they can pre-pay postage via PayPal, and Monica can send outside of the US that way.)

Be sure to check out Buffie's review of Kismet below!

Review -- Kismet

by Monica Burns
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Release Date: January 5, 2010

Allegra Synnford is a woman who controls her own destiny. Forging her own destiny by surviving her circumstances is a lesson Allegra learned at a very young age when her mother sold her to a brothel. Adapting to every situation placed in her path, Allegra is a much sought after courtesan who is known to choose her lovers. Taking a much needed break from the crush of London, Allegra and her maid travel to Morocco to attend the wedding of a good friend. Upon arriving in Morocco, Allegra’s attention is immediately transfixed on a beautiful horse, which soon wreaks havoc on the patrons of the train station as it bucks the holds of its handler. Caught in the middle of the situation and bound to be trampled to death, Allegra is pulled to safety by a mysterious sheikh-like man. Allegra’s reaction to the man is instantaneous.

“A rush of heat warmed her skin at the intensity of the look in his hooded gaze. She was accustomed to being in the presence of powerful men, but never one such as this. This man possessed a raw, savage mystique about him that sent her heart skidding along at breakneck speed.”

Sheikh Shaheen of the Amazigh is a man who has been hiding for years. Betrayed by a woman he believed he loved and devastated by the death of his brother, Viscount Newcastle fled his homeland of England for the deserts of Morocco. After fifteen years in Morocco, Shaheen feels he has finally put his past in the past. That is until kismet intervenes and a beautiful English rose seems to appear everywhere. Trying to get past the feelings churning in his head, his heart, and other areas of his body, Shaheen believes he can gratify his desire for Allegra in one evening and then be done with her. But when his overture is spurned by Allegra, Shaheen’s interest is multiplied ten-fold. Captivated by a woman in control, Shaheen redoubles his efforts to catch Allegra. However, Shaheen does not expect old enemies to rear their ugly heads just as he finds himself fully engulfed in his desires for Allegra.

While I thoroughly enjoy reading novels set in England, I was quite happy with a more exotic setting for a historical romance. It’s nice to see and feel something different. Ms. Burns pulls the reader into the sights, sounds, and smells of Morocco. I felt like I was right there. Seeing everything happen. Smelling all the spices. Hearing the unique sounds of the language. It is wonderful! The assaults on my senses had me reminiscing about my own Middle East travels.

As I have mentioned in previous reviews, I love a strong heroine. I do believe Allegra is the strongest one I have read. She is a woman in control. A woman dependent on no one but herself. A woman not afraid to go toe to toe with any man under any circumstance. A woman who has endured much in her lifetime. Even though she is a force to be reckoned with, she is also a woman who deeply desires to be loved for her inner person and not her courtesan tricks. I thoroughly enjoyed watching her best Shaheen in their confrontations (I laughed so hard at the banana scene – great writing Ms. Burns!). And I absolutely loved the fact that Shaheen enjoys sparing with a smart, formidable woman. But as much as I enjoy all of that, I also enjoy getting to see the softer side of Shaheen and Allegra, to witness the depth of their love and affection for each other.

"The compassion on her face was mixed with another emotion he couldn't name. The sight of it warmed him more than he wanted to admit. Even now, as he struggled to come to grips with the emotions barreling through him, he was moved by her."

All in all, this book is a sweet morsel just waiting for you to devour it. I hope you search it out, read it, and love it. I sure did!

~ Buffie

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sandra Hill Winners

Thanks to everyone who stopped by Saturday to comment on our interview with Sandra Hill.  Using, we have selected three winners from all of the comments.  Congratulations to:


Mary Ann


You've all won a signed copy of Sandra's new book, VIKING IN LOVE.  And.....

Congratulations to


You've also won the bonus prize of a Viking Princess Barbie!

Ladies, please send your full name and snail mail address to to claim your prize.  Please put "Sandra Hill Winner" in the subject line.

The Prince of Romances!

by Anna Campbell

If you're a denizen of Romancelandia, you would know that one of the most beloved authors in the genre, Laura Kinsale, releases a new book in February 2010 called LESSONS IN FRENCH.

If you don't know, clearly you're trapped under a rock with a brutish shapeshifter who won't let you check your favorite blogs on the Internet until you admit your destiny is to help him save the world from Satan's flesh-eating incubi!

It's my great pleasure to interview Laura here on Thursday, 4th February, so I hope you'll all pop over and say hello.

In the meantime, I thought it might be interesting to look at one of Laura's older books in preparation for the Dishies talking about LESSONS IN FRENCH closer to its release date.

In the early 90s, I hadn't read historical romance for quite a while. The genre was quite hard to find in Australia after the boom and bust of the 80s romance market. I'd been reading Harlequins and sex and shopping books and mysteries lots of general fiction and nonfiction. My list of favorite books still included older historical romances, but I'd just lost interest in the genre because I'd been disappointed with the books I COULD buy here. Remember, this is well before the Internet was available to help me discover great books I otherwise wouldn't hear of. I wasn't even writing historical romance at the time - this was back when I was trying to get Harlequin to publish me as a Presents writer!

Then one fateful day I walked into a bookshop in Coolangatta, one of our seaside resorts, and discovered a wall of American historical romances by authors I'd never heard of. I still think the angels were guiding my hand that day. Because I bought two books to while away my holiday afternoon. One was by Loretta Chase and one was THE PRINCE OF MIDNIGHT by Laura Kinsale. Both authors still hit the list of my top three romances. (Just for interest's sake, the other book is A COUNTESS BELOW STAIRS by Eva Ibbotson.)

By the way, this is the cover of the Avon edition I bought (and still own - it's the one I read for this review). Doesn't that take you right back to the days of Fabio and his flowing hair and manly chest?

The moment I started THE PRINCE OF MIDNIGHT, I was hooked. I ended up ordering the rest of Laura's books from the U.S. - and remember, this meant actually writing to the publisher! I knew I'd entered a rich universe with a writer unlike any other.

It's always slightly frightening returning to a book you remember with such love, but the minute I picked up THE PRINCE OF MIDNIGHT this week, I immediately understood why I'd fallen so instantly in love with Laura Kinsale's writing.

Here's the first paragraph:

The lad had the deep, burning eyes of a zealot. S.T. Maitland shifted uncomfortably on his wooden bench and glanced again over his wine across the murky depths of the tavern. It was damnably disconcerting to find that measuring stare still fixed on him, as if he were up for admission to heaven and not particularly likely to get in.

Just in those few words, you get a taste of Laura Kinsale's extraordinary style. The concrete reality of her settings and her characters - you can picture those people and that tavern. The wonderful world-weary tone of the hero, ex-highwayman and would-be painter S.T. Maitland. The slightly ironic edge to the voice. The complexity of the vocabulary and sentence structure. Whenever people start banging on about how banal and pedestrian romance novels are, I always mention Kinsale. 'Banal' and 'pedestrian' are the last adjectives you apply to her work!

The 'lad' is actually Lady Leigh Strachan who seeks the help of the famous Seigneur du Minuit to avenge herself on the truly horrible villain who has killed her family and stolen her home. That's another quality of Kinsale's writing - the stakes are always breathtakingly high and when you talk tortured characters, she wrote the manual. More than that, she describes the consequences of what these people go through in heart-wrenching detail. Nobody gets off with easy, sentimental solutions in a Kinsale!

Leigh travels alone across Europe to find S.T., but when she does, he's not the dashing, invincible figure of legend. Instead, he's a man who's damaged, alone, betrayed, deaf in one ear and suffering from assorted other physical ailments that make him an unlikely avenger.

But S.T. finds salvation in his quest to help Leigh. It's a difficult, erratic salvation, but nonetheless, her refusal to let him get away with his usual charming tricks makes him confront his past and the man he is. Falling in love is no easy journey for him, nor is it for Leigh. It's magical to watch their gradual, rocky rapprochement as the book continues along far from predictable paths.

I dare you not to fall in love with S.T., like every woman he meets in the progress of the novel. Laura Kinsale does a great line in wounded romantics as heroes. Trev in LESSONS IN FRENCH falls into this category (although LIF is much more lighthearted than TPOM) or one of my favorites of hers, Sherry in the brilliant SEIZE THE FIRE. These men are usually gifted beyond normal, but they've learned to mistrust their gifts and even more, their essential charisma. Self-doubt and self-deprecation are strangely appealing qualities in a Laura Kinsale hero!

Not only the ladies find S.T. irresistible. S.T. has a pet wolf called Nemo who's an essential part of the story and some of the most compelling scenes in the book involve S.T. training horses everybody else has given up on. Of course, Leigh is in many ways a wounded creature too when she comes into his orbit. The same patience and kindness he shows his animals helps him to bring her back from a black hell of hatred and revenge.

And the ending? Honestly, the last 40 pages of so of this book are absolutely breathtaking. They break your heart, then leave you smiling at the end. I closed THE PRINCE OF MIDNIGHT with a great, misty sigh of happiness and the urge to re-read every other Laura Kinsale on the bookcase!