Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Coming Attractions for April!

It's a new month and a new season . . . Spring is here! And so is another great month at The Romance Dish! We have some wonderful guest authors lined up along with a lot of great reviews and our usual monthly blogs of Andrea's New Releases, Trish's Teen Menu, Buffie's Hot Dish and Anna's Second Helping. You don't want to miss it!

Join us on Thursday, April 1st, as Andrea interviews #1 New York Times bestselling author Victoria Alexander! Her newest release, Desires of a Perfect Lady, released yesterday, March 30th. You can check out Andrea’s review here.

Get paper and pen ready! Friday, April 2nd brings Andrea’s list of New Releases for April.

New York Times bestselling author Karen Hawkins stops by to visit with us on Tuesday, April 6th. I’m sure she’ll fill us in on all the gossip in Glory, the fictional town in her contemporary series. The latest in the series, Lois Lane Tells All, hit shelves March 30.

Make Your Reservations for May with a few sneak peeks on Wednesday, April 7th.

Award-winning author Jessica Andersen dishes with us on Thursday, April 8th about the newest release in her Novels of the Final Prophecy, Demonkeepers.

As always, Trish Milburn brings us the latest scoop in YA releases in her monthly Teen Menu column on Saturday, April 10th.

Bummed about taxes? Don’t be! Come by the site to check out Buffie’s Hot Dish on Thursday, April 15th! Believe me, you don’t want to miss it.

On Friday, April 23rd, Buffie interviews Avon historical author Margo Maguire whose latest book, The Rogue Prince, releases April 27th.

Don’t forget to stop by on Saturday, April 24th for Anna Campbell’s Second Helping of a book you may have missed.

PJ interviews debut historical author Maggie Robinson on Wednesday, April 28th. Maggie’s debut, Mistress by Mistake, releases April 27th!

And don't miss when New York Times bestselling author Brenda Novak visits on Thursday, April 29th, to give us all the scoop about her upcoming annual Online Auction for Diabetes Research!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Guest Author -- Claudia Dain

Historical author Claudia Dain began her writing career in seventh grade and instantly fell in love...with descriptive essays. She continued writing them and eventually attended the University of Southern California as an English major. She was first published in 2000, is a two-time RITA finalist, and a USA Today Bestselling author of over a dozen books. Her latest is the mass market release of THE COURTESAN'S WAGER, out April 6. She is also one of the ten lovely Goddesses over at The Goddess Blogs. Please help us welcome Goddess Claudia Dain to The Romance Dish!

I don't know if this is a secret or not, but some books are easier to write than others. You never know when you start if a book is going to fly out of you, laughing and carefree, or make you suffer the agony of death with every word choice. (You may think I'm exaggerating. I'm not.)

You also don't know if a book is going to stay easy just because it starts easy. Some books lull you into a sense of confidence only to turn on you like a snarling wolf at page 127. Suddenly, they turn hard, and you sweat to get the words on the page.

Books are tricky, tricky things.

What I've noticed is that you can't tell later on, once the blood has been spilt and bleached away, once the book is on the shelves, once the ink has long dried out and the pages faded. You can't tell which books were easy and which were hard. You can't tell which scenes flowed out in a magical torrent of words that you didn't even have to think about, and which scenes took forever to write.

I've had scenes that took me 30 minutes to write and others that took me 30 days. And you can't tell. One doesn't read strained and the other smooth. I'm convinced of that. I may be kidding myself, so you be the judge. There are two snippets of scenes below from The Courtesan's Wager, available April 1. One was easy, the other hard. I can remember which was which because I =never= forget agony in any form, but can you tell?

I'll mail an autographed copy of The Courtesan's Wager to one commenter (continental US only), whether you guessed right or not, because I really don't think you'll be able to tell, and what kind of rigged contest would that be?

Excerpt 1:
She was trapped within roses, could she not see that? She couldn't get away now, not even if he allowed it. Even so, he could not resist. He never could. He never had.

He raised his arms out toward her, and with his fingertips, he pushed against her shoulders. She stumbled back slightly, more fully wedged in rose petals, the thorns grabbing at the muslin, holding her fast, holding her deep within their embrace.

Embrace, yes, that was the word.

He moved forward, lifted her chin with a fingertip, gazed once more into her luminous eyes, and for what had to be the last time, what must be the last time, kissed her on the mouth. She opened beneath his lips like, yes, like a flower. Warm and moist and ready. And the kiss deepened and lengthened far beyond what he had intended, though he had intended none of this, and he fought the urge to pull her against him, but he kissed her still.

Kissed her amidst the roses.

Kissed her in the dark quiet of the conservatory.

Kissed her, knowing he would never be the man she wanted.

Excerpt 2:
Everyone stopped, turned, and stared at her. She couldn't have been happier. She was so very tired of everyone ignoring her at the first opportunity. Everyone except Cranleigh. If being slightly scandalous and forward was what was required to keep a man's interest, well then, that's what it required. There was little point in bemoaning the fact. She had suspected long ago, long before Cranleigh's first kiss, that men were little better than ravaging beasts. After Cranleigh's first kiss, and indeed upon all his subsequent kisses, she had known it for a fact.

Iveston looked down at her from his very compelling height, his brow furrowed in surprise. He glanced around the room almost negligently, smiled slightly at her, and said softly, "Perhaps the conservatory?"

Amelia swallowed firmly and answered, "Why not?"

The Courtesan's Wager by Claudia Dain

Lady Amelia is the daughter of a duke and, unlike her cousin Louisa, is not at all distracted by a rakish wit or a pair of seductive blue eyes. She is going to be a duchess, which means that she must marry a duke. In the three years that she's been out in Society, she has, to her complete dismay, not found a single duke who appears even slightly interested in her. Being a sharp girl of a very determined nature, Amelia cannot ignore that both Caroline and Louisa made very quick and very happy marriages. It was beyond obvious that Sophia Dalby had a firm hand in each match. Swallowing her considerable anxiety about approaching a former courtesan, Amelia asks Sophia for help in snagging a duke.

Sophia is delighted to help. But, as is becoming obvious to even the most casual observer, Amelia gets more than she anticipated from her alliance with Sophia. Will Amelia marry a duke, after all?

For more about Claudia and her books, please visit her website:

Monday, March 29, 2010

Guest Author -- Christie Kelley

Christie Kelley was born and raised in upstate New York. As a child, she always had a vivid imagination and the bad dreams that go along with it, or perhaps the dreams were caused by the five brothers and three sisters she lived with. After seventeen years working for financial institutions in software development, she took a leap of faith and started her first book. Seven years later, EVERY NIGHT I’M YOURS was bought by Zebra books. The third book in Christie's popular historical Spinster Club series, SOMETHING SCANDALOUS, will be released April 6th.  Please give Christie a warm Romance Dish welcome!

I’m thrilled to be here today with my friends, Andrea, Gannon, PJ and Buffie! I love this blog and am so happy about its success. Thank you all so much for having me today.

Have you ever discovered something about your parents that shocked or surprised you? I can honestly say I really haven’t. The biggest thing I discovered when I was young was that my parents had another son between two of my older brothers and the boy only lived two days. It wasn’t that they kept it a secret they just didn’t talk about it. I guess when you have 9 other kids, there are bigger priorities.

But what if you did discover something scandalous about your parents?

That was the premise I started out with for my April release, Something Scandalous. My poor heroine, Elizabeth discovers her father, the duke, isn’t really her father. To say she is shocked is an understatement. After all, her mother was the perfect duchess.

Or maybe she wasn’t.

Going into this story I didn’t want the basic story of a mother who had a short love affair with another man because her husband was unkind. I wanted to write a story about a woman whose daughter thought she was the perfect mother and wife. A woman who taught her daughter to always do the right thing and be a perfect lady in society. A woman whose marriage was completely scandalous but Elizabeth knew nothing about that side of her.

So when she discovers the truth about her parentage, Elizabeth is stunned and determined to find out who her father might be. She has no desire to confront the man. She just wants to know who he is. She is certain the secret must be in a hidden diary her mother kept but Elizabeth can’t find it. Time is of the essence when the new duke arrives and decides to sell everything he can and return to the United States.

And if I tell you any more about it, I’ll give too much away! Except to say, what Elizabeth discovers in that diary will change her life forever.

As I wrote this story, I couldn’t help but wonder how I would have reacted if I discovered my mother was the complete opposite of what she’d portrayed to me. Many of us grow up believing our parents are perfect. Then adolescence hits and we realize our parents know nothing and can’t be perfect. Hopefully, as we reach adulthood, we can then move on to adult relationship with them.

What do you think? Have any of you discovered a secret your parents kept from you? You don’t have to tell us what the secret was just how it changed your life and perception of them. One random commenter will winy a copy of SOMETHING SCANDALOUS!

Raised as the youngest daughter of the Duke of Kendal, Elizabeth learns a devastating truth on his deathbed: he wasn’t her father at all. And because the Duke had no sons, his title and fortune must go to his only male heir: a distant cousin who left England for America long ago. Anticipating the man’s imminent occupation of her home, Elizabeth anxiously searches for her mother’s diary, and the secret of her paternity...

Arriving in London with his seven siblings, William Atherton intends to sell everything and return to his beloved Virginia farm, and his fiancée, as quickly as possible. But as Elizabeth shows William an England he never knew, and graciously introduces his siblings to London society, it becomes clear the two are meant for each other. Soon, Elizabeth finds herself determined to seduce the man who can save not only her family name, but her heart...

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Review - Forbidden Passion

Forbidden Passion
By Rita Herron
Publisher: Grand Central
Release Date: March 30, 2010


Fueled by her family's murder years ago, Dr. Marlena Bender has devoted her life to understanding violent criminals. But when a serial killer in this small Southern town starts taking the lives of women in diabolical ways--leaving trophies of his kills on Marlena's doorstep--it all hits too close to home. Terrified, Marlena turns to the only man she can trust...the man who saved her life.


Sheriff Dante Valtrez would move heaven and earth to keep Marlena safe, but he's not the savior she thinks he is. A dark legacy runs through his blood and a dangerous secret lies within him. Now a fierce, hot, ruthless desire draws Dante and Marlena together--as a demonic force from his past threatens to rip them apart, destroying everything they hold dear.

When Marlena returns to her hometown of Mysteria, Tennessee, she's hoping to finally come to terms with the violent murder of her mother and sister. When she was just a young girl, they were torn apart by "monsters"...or at least Marlena thinks they were only monsters she imagined. But she is about to discover that the demons from her nightmares are all too real. The only other person who was there, the one who saved her from the same fate as her family, is the sheriff in town, and she hopes he can help her piece together the events of that horrible night. But she may not like the answer she finds.

Dante is half demon, and when he was thirteen years old he was ordered to kill a young Marlena as part of his final initiation. But he couldn't bring himself to end the innocent girl's life as she watched the murder of her family. So Dante swept Marlena up in his arms and took her to the only safe place he knew, a church. And by doing so, he becomes hunted by the demons who were his "family." But Dante no longer wants to be evil, so he makes a choice to try to make amends for the evil he has done. Twenty years later he returns to Mysteria to protect its citizens from the demons, from those he once knew.

A serial killer begins to stake and burn his victims, sending "souvenirs" to Marlena, making her fear for her life. Dante senses a demonic presence when he investigates the murders, and fears that his past has caught up with him, and the demons are after Marlena...and him. And this time, they won't fail. But Dante's real fear is whether the woman he has come to love will still see him as her savior when she learns who he really is. Dante need only know that love truly conquers all.

"You know part of me will always have that pull toward evil. But I couldn't kill you that day when you were a child." He pressed a kiss to her neck. "I couldn't..."

"I know, you saved me," she whispered.

"No." He traced a finger along her cheek. "You saved me that day, Marlena. You gave me back my soul."

Forbidden Passion is filled with action and suspense and will have you turning pages long into the night. After all of the angst and suffering that Marlena and Dante have gone through, they so deserve their HEA. You won't want to miss a minute of their journey.

~ Gannon

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Review -- A Touch of Scandal

A Touch of Scandal
By Jennifer Haymore
Publisher: Forever (Grand Central)
Release Date: March 30, 2010

Garrett James, Duke of Calton, seeks revenge against the man he once thought was his friend. The man responsible for ruining his life—William Fisk. In the previous book, A Hint of Wicked, readers learned that after Waterloo and the death of his twin, Fisk caused Garrett to lose his memory and hid him in Belgium, away from his wife and child, for eight years. Now, back in England and still reeling from his recent scandalous divorce, Garrett only has vengeance on his mind. While hunting Fisk, Garrett meets a charming servant girl who captures his interest and incites a feeling he thought had died with his divorce. He finds out the hard way (literally!) that the lovely Kate is Fisk’s sister and immediately feels betrayed. Again.

Kate is confused as she is torn between her loyalty to her family and the strong attraction she feels toward Garrett. She has always felt completely lacking when it comes to her family because her mother has always preferred Kate’s older brothers to her. Despite that, Kate’s kept their secrets and loves them as they are all she has ever had. When the strong, handsome Garrett pays attention to her, she is at first surprised. No one has ever really paid her any mind before and she doesn’t know what to think. She goes with her gut and knows she’s made the right decision, regardless of the tragedy that follows. And just when she and Garrett believe they might be happy, something happens that could ultimately tear them apart.

Kate and Garrett were wonderful characters who constantly tugged at my heartstrings. Here is a girl who is treated poorly by her own flesh and blood and forced to keep their dirty secrets because she has nowhere to go and no one to turn to. She was lonely and craved a little attention, so naturally when Garrett showed an interest in her, she ate it up. And Garrett was a kindred spirit as he feels utterly alone since all he held dear was taken away. Their journey was quite the emotional roller coaster ride and I found myself rooting for them the whole way through. And just when you think all’s well, Ms. Haymore blindsides you with a shocking revelation. It certainly kept me turning the pages! All in all, I really enjoyed A Touch of Scandal, though I do believe I may have enjoyed it a bit more if I had read the previous book, A Hint of Wicked, just to get the full effect of all that happened to Garrett. If you like historical romances that engage your emotions and contain characters you cheer for, this is the book for you.


Review -- Desires of a Perfect Lady

Desires of a Perfect Lady
By Victoria Alexander
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: March 30, 2010

A secret list of the desires of Lady Olivia Rathbourne:

~ Disregard convention
~ Follow my heart
~ Bed the Earl of Wyldewood....

Lady Olivia Rathbourne’s secret list of desires has sustained her through ten long years of a lonely, cruel and loveless marriage. Throughout, Olivia remained composed and reserved, the perfect lady, just biding her time. When her antiquities collecting husband is found murdered, Olivia isn’t the least bit saddened. In fact, she feels as if she’s been set free. To finally do all the things she’s wanted to do. To breathe. That is until Lord Rathbourne’s will is read. Even in death, he haunts her and keeps her under his thumb. His will stipulates that in order for Olivia to inherit, she must complete three of his unfinished collections. Not an easy task considering the first would take her to Egypt to barter with a man her husband unsuccessfully dealt with for years. She needs assistance with recovering the items and help comes in the most unlikely of places—her former love, Sterling Harrington, Earl of Wyldewood.

Sterling feels like he owes Olivia for what happened between them in the past and has offered his services, especially after her father reveals the real reasons behind her hasty marriage to another man years before. But he draws the line at traveling to Egypt. Ever the responsible earl, he leaves the traveling and treasure hunting to his brothers. Sterling eventually gives in because he knows that Olivia will go whether he does or not. After learning how she was treated in her marriage, he understands her reasons for needing to go—so she can completely rid herself of her late husband. Considering their close proximity during their journey, the old feelings they once had for each other return. And Sterling is bound and determined not to make the same mistake twice.

Desires of a Perfect Lady is the second in Victoria Alexander’s latest series and picks up right after the previous book, The Virgin’s Secret, ends. We learned in the first book that Sterling and Olivia shared a past and I, for one, was dying to learn what happened and why. Fear not, all the answers are revealed in this one. Sterling and Olivia are the kind of characters that grabbed hold of my heart and didn’t let go. I was completely entranced watching them slowly open up to one another again after all that had happened and so many years apart. Over time they had become hard and detached, but during their adventure they became more like their former selves—relaxed, carefree, and most of all, happy.

Desires of a Perfect Lady is a story of love lost (though never forgotten) and found again. Ms. Alexander brings readers a light-hearted historical romance filled with witty dialogue and tender, passionate moments. Fans of adventure romance rejoice and hang on for the ride!


Friday, March 26, 2010

The Envelope Please...

Congratulations to the finalists announced yesterday for the 2010 RWA (Romance Writers of America) RITA and Golden Heart awards!  The RITA awards are given annually to the books selected by a panel of judges as best in each of 12 published romance fiction categories for the previous year.  The Golden Heart award is given annually to the unpublished manuscripts judged as best in each of 10 categories.  The winners will be announced at a formal ceremony during the RWA National Conference in Nashville, TN this July.  Best wishes to all the finalists!

(as published at the RWA Website)

Best First Book:

One Scream Away by Kate Brady
He Calls Her Doc by Mary Brady
The Gladiator by Carla Capshaw
Angel Vindicated by Viola Estrella
The Better Part of Darkness by Kelly Gay
Stolen Fury by Elisabeth Naughton
Nothing Like You by Lauren Strasnick
The Last Will of Moira Leahy by Therese Walsh

Contemporary Series Romance:

A Not-So-Perfect Past by Beth Andrews
From the Outside by Helen Brenna
The Snow-Kissed Bride by Linda Goodnight
Single Mom Seeks... by Teresa Hill
Revealed: A Prince and a Pregnancy by Kelly Hunter
The Christmas Love-Child by Jennie Lucas
One-Night Mistress...Convenient Wife by Anne McAllister
Duty, Desire and the Desert King by Jane Porter
I Still Do by Christie Ridgway

Contemporary Series Romance - Suspense/Adventure

Mountain Investigation by Jessica Andersen
The Christmas Stranger by Beth Cornelison
The Soldier's Secret Daughter by Cindy Dees
In Care of Sam Beaudry by Kathleen Eagle
Silent Watch by Elle Kennedy
Cold Case Affair by Loreth Anne White
The Christmas Present by Tracy Wolff

Contemporary Single Title Romance

Talk Me Down by Victoria Dahl
True Love and Other Disasters by Rachel Gibson
For the Love of Pete by Julia Harper
Too Good to Be True by Kristan Higgins
A Little Light Magic by Joy Nash
Dirty Sexy Knitting by Christie Ridgway
Instant Attraction by Jill Shalvis
Fireside by Susan Wiggs

Historical Romance

Wicked All Day by Liz Carlyle
With Seduction in Mind by Laura Lee Guhrke
To Beguile a Beast by Elizabeth Hoyt
Make Me Yours by Betina Krahn
Knight of Pleasure by Margaret Mallory
The Lone Texan by Jodi Thomas
Not Quite a Husband by Sherry Thomas
Taming Her Irish Warrior by Michelle Willingham

Inspirational Romance

The Inheritance by Tamera Alexander
A Lady like Sarah by Margaret Brownley
The Gladiator by Carla Capshaw
Entertaining Angels by Judy Duarte
An Eye for an Eye by Irene Hannon
The Silent Governess by Julie Klassen
Breach of Trust by Diann Mills
The Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper by Kathleen Y'Barbo

Novel with Strong Romantic Elements

The Better Part of Darkness by Kelly Gay
Scandal Sheet by Gemma Halliday
Red's Hot Honky Tonk Bar by Pamela Morsi
The Lost Recipe for Happiness by Barbara O'Neal
Silent on the Moor by Deanna Raybourn
The Accidental Best Seller by Wendy Wax
The Virgin's Daughters: In the Court of Elizabeth by Jeane Westin
Lakeshore Christmas by Susan Wiggs

Paranormal Romance
What Would Jane Austen Do? by Laurie Brown
Untouchable in Deep Kiss of Winter by Kresley Cole
Kiss of a Demon King by Kresley Cole
My Forbidden Desire by Carolyn Jewel
The Fire King by Marjorie M. Liu
For the Earl's Pleasure by Anne Mallory
Darkness Unknown by Alexis Morgan
Covet by J.R. Ward
Mortal Sins by Eileen Wilks

Regency Historical

Surrender of a Siren by Tessa Dare
Scandal by Carolyn Jewel
Tempting Fate by Alissa Johnson
A View to a Kiss by Caroline Linden
Revealed by Kate Noble
What Happens in London by Julia Quinn
Lord Braybrook's Penniless Bride by Elizabeth Rolls

Romance Novella
"A Little Night Magic" by Allyson James in Hot for the Holidays
"The Robber's Bride" by Marjorie M. Liu in Huntress
"Annalise and the Scandalous Rake" by Deb Marlowe in The Diamonds of Welbourne Manor
"Charlotte and the Wicked Lord" by Amanda McCabe in The Diamonds of Welbourne Manor
"This Wicked Gift" by Courtney Milan in The Heart of Christmas
"On a Snowy Christmas" by Brenda Novak in The Night Before Christmas
"The Christmas Eve Promise" by Molly O'Keefe in The Night Before Christmas

Romantic Suspense

One Scream Away by Kate Brady
Waking the Dead by Kylie Brant
A Dark Love by Margaret Carroll
Whisper of Warning by Laura Griffin
Stolen Fury by Elisabeth Naughton
Dark Country by Bronwyn Parry
Promises in Death by J.D. Robb
Kill for Me by Karen Rose

Young Adult

Fairy Tale by Cyn Balog
Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover by Ally Carter
Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles
Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols
The ABC's of Kissing Boys by Tina Ferraro
Nothing Like You by Lauren Strasnick

You can access a complete list of the Golden Heart finalists here.  A special "Hip, Hip, Hooray!" to the following Romance dish pals for being 2010 Golden Heart finalists:

Romance Bandit, K.J. Howe for Breathless
Gillian Layne for To Seduce a Proper Rogue
Vanessa Barneveld for Ghost-Ridden

How many of this year's RITA nominated books have you read?  Do you have a favorite to win any of the categories?  Do you have any favorite books from 2009 that you think should have been on the list? 

Will you be in Nashville this summer to cheer on the finalists?  (Don't worry if you can't be there.  All of the Dishes will be at the conference, bringing you the latest news right here at The Romance Dish!)

Review -- Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake

Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake
by Sarah MacLean
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: March 30, 2010

“What if she could live a life other than the staid, boring mockery of one that she currently lived? What if she could do all the things that she would never dream of doing? What was to keep her from taking such a leap?

At twenty-eight, no one much thought about her. Her reputation had been impeccable for years – for all the years that it had mattered that she retain such an untarnished name. It wasn’t as if she were about to traipse off and completely destroy that reputation, anyway. She wasn’t going to do anything that a well-respected male member of the ton wouldn’t do on any given day without a second thought. And if they could, why shouldn’t she?”

During her first season, young Lady Calpurnia Hartwell quickly comes to the conclusion that she will never be the belle of the ball. No, she is not the type to sparkle amidst a sea of beautiful ladies of the ton. While she exudes grace and elegance, acknowledged by the entire ton, everyone knows she is not a beauty by their standards. Disheartened by her prospects of impoverished, aged, and deadly dull male companions, Callie escapes the crush of a ball for the cooler air of a garden and stumbles upon the Marquess of Ralston, who in turn gives Callie a pep talk that includes complimenting her on her unusual name. Starry-eyed by a secluded conversation with a renowned rake, Callie returns to the ball with her head held high.

Ten years later, Callie is still a single woman. Bored with the staid, confined life of a spinster woman, Callie laments to her brother, the Earl of Allendale, about the double standard of the ton. Single men have much more freedom than single woman and it is just not fair! Her brother proves to be very supportive and encourages Callie to enjoy some lively activities that will not cause much of a ripple in the waters of the ton. Later, as Callie ponders her conversation with her brother, she burns her lace cap (ala the bra burnings of the women’s lib movement in 1960s) and composes a list of nine things she would love to do if she had the courage and more so the opportunity.

Kiss someone – passionately
Smoke cheroot and drink scotch
Ride astride
Attend a duel
Fire a pistol
Gamble (at a gentleman’s club)
Dance every dance at a ball
Be considered beautiful. Just once.

Determined to mark the first item off of her wish list, Callie journeys in the dead of night to Ralston House, the home of the Marquess of Ralston, the man she has loved from afar for ten years, and quite meekly requests a kiss from him.

Amused by the quiet, wallflower standing in his bedchamber in the middle of night requesting a kiss, Gabriel St. John, The Marquess of Ralston, quickly analyzes the situation and proposes a trade of sorts. In exchange for a passionate kiss, Callie will serve as Gabriel’s newly discovered half-sister’s proper sponsor for entry into society. With Callie’s impeccable reputation, Gabriel feels certain his new half-sister will have an easier time adjusting to life among the ton. Callie agrees to this unique transaction with an amendment of an additional favor of her choosing in the future. Sealing their deal with a small kiss, Callie informs Gabriel that she is quite satisfied with the peck, to which Gabriel responds:

“His lips curved at her ear as he spoke, his harsh breathing making the words more a caress than a sound, “Kisses should not leave you satisfied.”

He returned his lips to her, claiming her mouth again, robbing her of all thought with a rich, heady caress. All she wanted was to be closer to him, to be held more firmly. And, as though he could read her thoughts, he gathered her closer, deepening the kiss. His heat consumed her; his soft, teasing lips seemed to know all of her secrets.

When he lifted his mouth from hers, she had lost all strength. His next words pierced through her sensual haze.

“They should leave you wanting.”

And let me tell you this is just one of many scenes that leave you wanting more!!! The dynamic yin and yang relationship between Callie and Gabriel is superbly written. Ms. MacLean had me cheering for Callie from the very beginning of the book. While it speaks well of Callie for following the rules of society and I totally understand her reasons for doing so, I was elated to see her throw caution to the wind and enjoy life to the fullest.

Gabriel is an incredible hero, who shows his heroine that life needs to be a rewarding, delightful experience every single day. I loved how he encourages Callie to do things on her list, even extracting a promise from her that she only tries those things while in his presence. A rake has to feel like he is always in control. LOL! But as Gabriel falls for Callie, he realizes he has lost all control when it comes to her and nothing and no one will come between him and his woman.

“I’ve tried to forget that kiss . . . and the carriage ride . . . and the fencing club . . . but you seem to have taken up residence . . . in my memory.”


I just can’t say enough about this novel. I am so excited to have found another author who has exceeded my expectations, and I do predict that Ms. MacLean will have a very long and fruitful future in the romance novel industry. Hopefully, Ms. MacLean's next books will be for Gabriel’s twin brother, Nick, and his newly discovered half sister, Juliana, both of whom truly deserve their own story.

Be sure to put this book at the VERY TOP of your TBR pile because it deserves that coveted spot!

~ Buffie

And look, even the stepback is scrumptious!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Review - - Lord of the Isles

By Debbie Mazzuca
Publisher: Kensington Zebra
Release Date: April 6, 2010

I was excited when I heard about the upcoming release of Lord of the Isles by debut author Debbie Mazzuca. Containing three elements that always draw me to a story - time travel, fairy magic and Scottish highlanders – I couldn’t wait to start reading. I’m happy to say that Ms. Mazzuca’s story more than met my expectations.

Traveling to Scotland on business, Dr. Aileanna (Ali) Graham is mistakenly taken to Dunvegan Castle instead of Dunvegan Hotel. Stunned by Ali’s resemblance to the portrait of Brianna MacLeod, wife of a sixteenth century laird of Dunvegan, Rory MacLeod, the castle’s caretaker offers her a tour of the castle and a chance to rest a bit in the laird’s bedchamber. Exhausted from travel, Ali gratefully accepts and drifts to sleep dreaming of the handsome sixteenth century laird from the portrait gallery. The last thing she expects is to awaken in that very man’s arms!

Suffering from severe battlefield wounds and still grieving the death of his wife two years earlier, Rory MacLeod thinks he’s dreaming when he awakens to find a beautiful woman in his bed. He soon realizes that it’s not his beloved Bree, but a woman he’s never seen before although one to whom he is powerfully attracted. He has no idea that his well-meaning brother, housekeeper and good friend have used the MacLeod’s magic fairy flag to call her from the future to save his life.

     It was too much, and Ali didn’t plan on listening to any more of it, not without defending herself. With a closed fist, she whacked at the men’s feet. “Get out of my way,” she said, dragging herself from under the bed.
     Two men dressed in old-fashioned attire – fitted suede pants tucked into their boots and white linen shirts – backed away from her with their mouths agape. The older one was tall and had a powerful build, his dark red hair threaded with silver, his brown eyes wide as he stared at her. The other man was much younger, his hair a golden brown, almost as handsome as the man from her dreams. He opened and closed his mouth, his gaze swiveling from Ali to his companion.
     Hands on her hips, she turned to confront the man in the bed. “I didn’t try to kill you…you big jerk, and what the hell were you doing in my bed in the…”
     The rest of the question died on her lips. It was him – Rory MacLeod – the man in the portrait. She rubbed her eyes, but nothing changed. He was still there, in all his glorious perfection – except he was bleeding. A circle of crimson spread over the thick white linens pressed to his side.
     “You’re hurt,” she gasped.

Unfortunately, the fairy flag can only be used three times and it’s already been used twice so, understandably, the three well-meaning conspirators are not willing to defy their laird by using the final wish to send Ali back to where she came from. In fact, the longer she’s there the more they’re convinced that the fairies didn’t just send her to save Rory’s life, but that she was sent back in time for Rory. Now all they have to do is convince a man who isn’t willing to risk heartbreak a second time and a woman who is determined to return to the 21st century that they’re meant for each other, for all time.

I thoroughly enjoyed this entertaining “fish out of water” tale. The story moves along quickly, with delightful dialogue written in an authentic sounding Scottish brogue and snappy banter between Rory and Ali.

     His laugh was low and husky. “That brings back a memory of the first time you were in my bed, mo chridhe.”
     Irritation penetrated the passion-filled haze that engulfed her. When she glared at him, he laughed harder. “If you were any kind of gentleman, Rory MacLeod, you wouldn’t remind me of that night, especially since you now know how it came about.”
     “Aileanna, have I no’ told you I’m no gentleman when it comes to you. And I’m thinkin’ I should thank the fairies fer deliverin’ you to me naked.”

With an engaging cast of characters, this book has a likeable hero and heroine I could cheer for and secondary characters that add humor and emotion while keeping the story moving forward. I especially enjoyed the housekeeper, Mrs. Mac, who fits nicely into the role of determined fairy godmother, guiding her Cinderella (Ali) into the arms of her Scottish warrior "Prince Charming" and Alisdair MacDonald, Brianna's father, who plays an unexpected role in bringing Ali and Rory together.   His introduction to Ali is just one of the twists and turns that kept surprising me throughout the book.

If you like strong, sexy highlanders and feisty heroines in a fast-paced medieval adventure that holds your attention from cover to cover, curl up with a copy of Debbie Mazzuca’s delightful debut, Lord of the Isles.