Monday, May 31, 2010

Coming Attractions for June!

Summer is upon us and things are most definitely heating up here at The Romance Dish! We have a month filled with fantastic guest authors, blogs, reviews and our regular monthly lineup. Come join us daily---you won't want to miss a minute of the fun!

Join us on June 1st when PJ interviews our very own Anna Campbell about her fabulous books, including her latest release My Reckless Surrender.

You will definitely want to be with us on June 2nd when RITA award winning author Joanna Bourne joins us to dish about her latest book, The Forbidden Rose. Fans will be delighted to read Maggie and Doyle's story!

On June 3rd our guest will be Elizabeth Amber. She will be telling us all about her hot Lords of Satyr series. That is certainly one hot looking cover!!

Get ready to make your TBB list on June 4th when Andrea tells us about all of the June New Releases we can't live without!

Carrie Lofty will be back at The Dish on June 8th to tell us all about her gorgeous new book, Song of Seduction.

Urban fantasy author Jennifer Estep will be spending the day with us on June 9th to talk about her latest, Web of Lies.

On June 10th our own Trish Milburn will tell us about the latest YA releases with her Teen Menu.

We are delighted to have RITA award nominee Tessa Dare dishing with us on June 11th about her Stud Club Trilogy.

If you think it's hot now, just wait until June 15th when Buffie shares her latest Hot Dish! She always provides the best eye candy. *g*

Be here on June 16th to Make Your Reservations when Andrea shares the books we are most looking forward to in July.

We have a special treat on June 17th when we bring you our very first Beach Bag Reviews. We'll be sharing several reviews of the perfect summer reads.

Anna will be sharing her Second Helping on June 24th. She always gives us another wonderful book to add to our ever-growing TBR stacks!

You won't want to miss June 28th when historical romance author Maya Rodale joins us to chat about her newest book, A Groom of One's Own.

Dee Davis will help us wrap up the month on June 29th. She'll be telling us all about the second book in her A-Tac series, Dangerous Desires.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Review -- The Forbidden Rose

The Forbidden Rose
By Joanna Bourne
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: June 1, 2010

When I first started reading The Forbidden Rose I couldn't decide if I should devour it in one sitting, like a decadent chocolate truffle or savor each word like a rich, luscious creme brulee. Well, the creme brulee method won out, and I was rewarded by an incredible story that's a veritable gourmet banquet for the senses!

Caught up in the horror of the French Revolution and the bloody Reign of Terror, aristocrat Marguerite de Fleurignac is hiding out in her family's burned out chateau. Disguised as a governess named Maggie Duncan, she is part of La Fleche, an underground network that smuggles French citizens across the channel to England. As an aristocrat, Maggie is in constant danger, but if her participation in La Fleche is ever discovered, she would be headed to the guillotine for certain.

William Doyle, one of England's best spies, is working undercover as Guillaume LeBreton, a peddler who is traveling with his servant boy, Adrian Hawker. He is really in France to find Maggie's father, who is possession of a list of English men who may be targeted for assassination. When Doyle and Adrian arrive at the chateau, they discover Maggie hiding in the stables. Doyle's goal is to earn Maggie's trust in the hope that she will lead him to her father... and his list. Although Maggie is wary of Doyle, she realizes that if she travels with him and Adrian, she will have a better chance of reaching Paris safely. But she never thought she'd have to guard her heart, which she is in danger of losing to Doyle.

She did not say that she had begun to ache for him at the threshold of her body, between her legs. That he was simple bread to someone who had been hungry for a long time. That he was the shelter of trees to a traveler lost in the freezing rain. She could only give him one small part of the huge truth. "I become one of my stories when I touch you."

Maggie, Doyle and Adrian must travel the perilous roads to Paris, hiding their true identities from those who watch them and wish them harm. Amidst the terror and intrigue of the Revolution, Doyle and Maggie succumb to the passion that overtakes them. Passion quickly turns to love, but can they trust one another or will their fledgling relationship end in betrayal?

I have been looking forward to Maggie and Doyle's story since they first graced the pages of The Spymaster's Lady---one of the best books I have ever read!---and Ms. Bourne brought them both so vividly to life that I could practically see and hear them. She can say more in one sentence than most people can convey in an entire page. When I review a book, I mark passages that "speak to me". I lost count of the number of markers I had. Just when I thought I had read a line that took my breath away with its eloquence, I would quickly find another.

One cannot put the fruit back on the tree. One cannot unbreak the egg. She could not, not ever again for all of eternity, unknow what she knew of his body. Someday, when she was old, she would take this knowledge out as if it were a letter she had treasured. By then, the pain would be thin and crackly, like old paper.

She would be changed as well. She was quite certain old women did not feel this sort of pain. As if the air were knives that cut, going in and out of the throat.

The Forbidden Rose is a prequel of sorts to The Spymaster's Lady, and fans of Ms. Bourne will delight in every page of this historical romance gem. And for those who have been waiting for Adrian's story, it will be up next. We get a glimpse of his heroine in The Forbidden Rose, and is she ever going to give Adrian a run for his money! Joanna Bourne is a gifted wordsmith whose talent knows no bounds. I highly recommend The Forbidden Rose---it's destined for a coveted spot on my keeper shelf....and hopefully yours, too.

~ Gannon

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Review - - I Love This Bar

I Love This Bar
By Carolyn Brown
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Release Date: June 1, 2010

Daisy O’Dell has her hands full with hotheads and thirsty ranchers until the day one damn fine cowboy walks in and throws her whole life into turmoil…

She’s just what he needs, if only he can convince her to come out from behind that bar, and come home with him…

Leaving a bad relationship behind in Arkansas, former veterinarian technician, Daisy O’Dell now owns the Honky Tonk beer joint in tiny Mingus, Texas. When she’s not tending bar, she’s caring for the animals of the area, both large and small, even though she keeps telling people she’s not really a vet. There’s just no time in her life for a man, even if she was interested…which she’s not…until the night Jarod McElroy walks into the bar.

He could have played the resident bad boy in an old movie: maybe James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause. She remembered watching the movie with her grandmother back before Granny died. From that day forward, Daisy O’Dell had been attracted to bad boys, and that had been her downfall.

A successful rancher in his own right, Jarod is in town to help his ailing uncle on his ranch but his uncle, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s and getting worse by the day, isn’t making it easy on him. Escaping into town for an evening of beer and music, he’s stunned to find himself bowled over, literally, by a sexy, sassy woman who has all his fires burning…until he discovers she’s the bartender. Seems he doesn’t think much of women bartenders (could have something to do with one of those three ex-fiances who left him in their dust) but that doesn’t stop him from wanting her something fierce. Both Jarod and Daisy try to fight the attraction, for their own reasons. But, then Jarod’s uncle gets it into his head that Jarod and Daisy are married and nothing will pacify him except for Daisy to move to the ranch and be a “proper” wife. That’s when the fun really begins!

The first book in Brown’s new contemporary Honky Tonk trilogy, I Love This Bar is an entertaining story with a distinct “country” feel. The characters are colorful and the language is “salty”, with plenty of country sayings, curse words and stereotypical poor grammar sprinkled throughout. I admit that the poor grammar is a pet peeve of mine that distracted me from the story. I probably would have enjoyed the book more had it not been so pervasive.  It also took me longer than usual to warm up to the hero, primarily because of his condescending attitude toward the heroine's profession. (He does come around in the end.)

This is the first book that I’ve read by Brown and, while there are other contemporary westerns I've liked better, I enjoyed this one enough to give the next book in the trilogy a try.  That book, Hell, Yeah, will be released August 3rd.


Friday, May 28, 2010

Guest Author -- Monica Burns

An award-winning author of erotic romance, Monica Burns penned her first short romance story at the age of nine when she selected the pseudonym she uses today. From the days when she hid her stories from her sisters to her first completed full-length manuscript, she always believed in her dream despite rejections and setbacks. A workaholic wife and mother, Monica believes it’s possible for the good guy to win if they work hard enough. Her latest release, Assassin's Honor, is the first in an exciting new series (check out Andrea's review here) and releases June 1st! Please welcome Monica back to The Romance Dish!

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve had reviewers comment on the fact that Assassin’s Honor is unusual in that its characters aren’t immortal. This observation has thrown me for a loop in some respects because it never occurred to me to make my characters immortal.

When I developed my Order of the Sicari series, I fell back on what I know, history, telekinesis, psychic abilities, past lives, my family heritage, and my love of different types of sci-fi, martial arts (read swords), and action adventure in films, TV and books. All of these different influences played a major role in my creation of the Sicari and their enemy the Praetorians. Interestingly enough all of these influences have mortal beings facing difficult situations that put them at risk in the overall scheme of things. Thus, when I was creating my heroes/heroines and villains, it just never occurred to me that they should be anything other than mortals with abilities that are firmly rooted in our psyches.

Truth be told, I just wanted to write a good story. I’m a story teller first and foremost. I like to make my books romantic, sexy, fun, exciting, and risky. Maybe that’s why reviewers have commented on Assassin’s Honor and the mortality risk of the characters. I’d not thought of it that way. In fact, I wanted the characters to be as realistic as possible with just the primary difference being they had a special ability, much in the way that everyone has a special ability.

Whether someone is a gifted musician, writer, artist, politician, teacher or whatever career you name, each individual has a talent that sets them apart from other people. That’s what I wanted for my Sicari. No one Sicari is the same, their level of ability varies from person to the next. Even the Sicari Lords who are introduced in the Sept release, Assassin’s Heart, have variances in their abilities and life span. I don’t know about other authors, but I often find myself stumbling my way through a book or now a series.

Essentially, I’m a fly by the seat of my pants writer. Like my readers, I discover new things about my characters and their world as I write. It’s not all planned out. I have a vision, but not a firm, cut and dried plan. It makes it scary and yet exciting in the same breath. Of course, the sex isn’t bad either. LOL

When I think about the mortality of my characters, I know something others will learn in the second book, Assassin’s Heart. Everyone is actually immortal. That’s a belief structure of mine that found its way into the books. In fact, there are a number of beliefs that are the underlying foundation of the series. It’s what I love the most about this series. It’s not just the universal theme of romance, empowerment, and love conquers all.

The series has a broader scope to it. It’s about men and women striving to overcome persecution, protecting the innocent and fighting for what’s good. It’s about good and evil, and the battle that accompanies those two polar opposites. And I’m not sure I could have shown that dynamic if I hadn’t made my characters mortal. Maybe people are right. Maybe the fact that the characters are mortals with special abilities raises the stakes more. That’s something I’ll have to think on a little more as I start the next book in the next few days.

So what do you think about mortals in a paranormal series? Does it raise the stakes? What if a secondary character you like gets killed off? One lucky commenter will win a copy of Assassin's Honor!

Drawing Rules: Drawing is open to residents in US and other countries. Void where prohibited. Shipping/handling fees for shipment of book outside the US is responsibility of winner. International winners may pay the required postage via PayPal. To ensure as many readers as possible have a chance to win a copy of the book, Monica awards only one book per reader, per household.


Assassin's Honor by Monica Burns

Archeologist Emma Zale sees the past when she touches ancient relics. It’s how she uncovered evidence of an ancient order of assassins—the Sicari. When a sinfully dark stranger shows up on her Chicago doorstep demanding an ancient artifact she doesn’t have, he drags her into a world where telekinesis and empaths are the norm. Now someone wants her dead, and her only hope of survival is an assassin who’s every bit as dangerous to her body as he is to her heart.

Ares DeLuca comes from an ancient Roman bloodline of telekinetic assassins. A Sicari, he’s honor bound to kill only in the name of justice. But when the woman he loved was murdered, Ares broke the Sicari code and used his sword for revenge. Love cost him dearly once before, and he’s not willing to pay the price again. At least not until hot, sweet, delectable Emma walked into his life. Not only does she hold the key to a valuable Sicari relic, she might just hold the key to his heart.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Karin Harlow Winner

The winner of a custom L.O.S.T. latte mug is:


Congratulations, Librarypat!!

Please email your full name and address to

theromancedishATgmailDOTcom with

"Karin Harlow Winner" in the subject line.

Review - - Open Country

Open Country
Blood Rose Trilogy – Book #2
By Kaki Warner
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Release Date: June 1, 2010

Molly McFarlane is as desperate as a woman can get – even one alone on the frontier. Forced to flee with her late sister’s children, she must provide for her wards while outrunning the relentless trackers their vicious stepfather has set on her trail. To secure their future, she marries a badly injured man, assuming that when he dies his insurance settlement will provide all they need. But there is one small problem.

The man doesn’t die.

Since she was thirteen years old, Molly McFarlane has been assisting her famous surgeon father in the care of Civil War soldiers and taking care of herself. She’s never had a social life, never been courted by a young man and now, at twenty-six, she finds herself on the run with two young children. Far from their Georgia home, they are lucky to escape serious injury when the train on which they’re riding derails in Texas. Desperate for money to keep the children safe, when Molly hears that the train company will pay the families of the dead $300, she pretends to be the fiancé of a fellow train passenger who is seriously injured and not expected to survive and, when they won’t pay a fiancé, she convinces the local minister to marry them, even though the groom is unconscious. But, when she realizes that there’s a chance the man might live, and the only doctor in town is a drunk who’s convinced he’ll die, her conscience and her many years of nursing won’t let her walk away.

Hank Wilkins is a complex, quiet man. He’s content to run the family ranch with his brother, Brady and visit the local brothel when he needs “attention.” Having his heart smashed to pieces by a fickle woman has destroyed his trust and he has no interest in giving love, or marriage, a second chance. Following the train crash in which he is almost killed, Hank awakens with amnesia, his only memory the sweet, southern voice of a woman who says she’s his wife.

A figure moved closer. A woman. She bent close and spoke in a calm, soothing voice. “You’re safe, Henry. Stay calm. I’m here to help you.” 

Who the hell was Henry?

Her voice was familiar, but her face was only a blue. He tried to remember, but the effort sent him sliding back toward the void. Terror thundered through him. “Don’t go,” he choked out as blackness pressed against the edges of his vision.

“I won’t. I’m here.”

He felt her hand on his cheek, her palm cool and soft against his skin.

“You’re safe, Henry. You’re all right. I won’t leave you, I promise.”

Her touch was his lifeline, her voice his beacon. In desperation, he clung to it with all of his mind as the smothering darkness sucked him under.

Feeling guilty for what she’s done, Molly tells Hank’s brother, Brady, that she will have her marriage to Hank annulled but while Brady doesn’t trust Molly, he quickly realizes that she’s his brother’s best chance of survival. Not only that, but he’s terrified that his pregnant wife will have complications as she did with her last pregnancy so he convinces (blackmails) Molly to travel with them to their remote family ranch and stay until Hank is healed and Jessica has safely delivered their baby. Grasping the opportunity to keep the children safe, Molly accepts, never expecting to fall in love, not only with Hank but with his entire family.

While Hank and Molly have plenty of life experience, when it comes to love and romance, they are both as awkward as newborn chicks, as is evidenced in the following two internal monologues as they each contemplate the rituals of courting.

     It was starting to sound less fun by the minute. He didn’t like courting. He didn’t know how to act or what to say, and the one time he’d tried it – other than with Molly, apparently – he’d felt big and awkward and clumsy. So much easier if he could just say, “We’re married. Take off your clothes.” Neat and simple.

He glanced at her, wondering if he should give it a try.

Her expression said not.

Just as well. He wasn’t feeling that perky.

     Courting. What did that mean, exactly? What was she supposed to do? Did she even have the proper clothes? It was ludicrous, really, that at the spinsterish age of twenty-six all those adolescent yearnings and doubts should grip her so strongly.

Would he recite poetry? Tell her she was beautiful?

The notion almost made her laugh. Romantic words from the man who had wrestled her over a chamber pot? Not likely.

As time passes and Molly and Hank grow closer, they both learn to open themselves to the possibility of love and trust between them. Molly yearns to truly belong to this man…this family…this beautiful but unforgiving land. But with the secret of their sham marriage, the knowledge that Hank’s memory could return at any moment and a madman closing in for the kill, the question becomes not whether Hank will forgive her and love and accept her as his wife but if any of them will live long enough to see tomorrow.

I loved this story! Kaki Warner grabbed me from the opening of the book and never let me go. Even now, days after turning the final page, I’m still thinking about the characters from this intensely emotional and realistic frontier story. Not just Molly and Hank, but the whole family. I came to care about all of them and hope to see them again in the next book in this series. The secondary characters in Open Country are a colorful cast and very important to the story, especially Molly’s niece and nephew. The scenes between six-year-old Penny and “papa-Hank” are some of the best in the book and had me laughing uproariously in some and wiping away tears in others. Fans of Warner’s first book, Pieces of Sky will be delighted to discover that Brady, Jessica and their children are featured prominently in Open Country.

Several friends recommended that I read Kaki Warner’s debut novel, Pieces of Sky, when it was released in January. I haven’t found the time to read it yet but, now that I’ve finished her second book, Open Country, I’ll be correcting that oversight as soon as possible. Warner is a fresh new voice in historical romance who, through her vivid descriptions, compelling characters and smoothly flowing prose, brings the American Western frontier, with all its harshness and beauty, to life. I highly recommend Open Country!


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Review -- Assassin's Honor

Assassin's Honor
Order of the Sicari - Book 1
By Monica Burns
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: June 1, 2010

After her parents were brutally murdered five years before, archeologist Emma Zale devoted herself fully to her work. She has the ability to see the past when she touches ancient artifacts and considers it to be both a blessing and a curse. While searching Ptolemy’s tomb in Cairo, she discovers a symbol that proves her parents were correct about the existence of the Sicari, an ancient order of assassins and descendants of Ptolemy’s personal guard. When Emma goes out to tell her friend and mentor what she unearthed, she finds him dead—and in the same manner her parents were killed. This leads to her being brought to the police station for questioning, but eventually she is let go. Upon returning to Chicago, Emma attends her friend’s funeral and goes through some personal items he left behind. One such item is an old Sicari coin. She sets it down to rummage through some papers at her desk (formerly her father’s desk) and finds a hidden piece of paper containing a cipher written in hieroglyphs from her father. Emma is used to solving her father’s coded messages, but this newly discovered one is extremely complicated. When a sexy stranger enters her home demanding she tell him where the Tyet of Isis (a powerful antiquity) is, Emma is about at her wit’s end—until she is almost killed and the sexy stranger saves her life and takes her into hiding amongst his people. It appears that someone else believes she knows where the artifact is, as well.

Sicari lord Ares DeLuca believes that Emma has or knows where the Tyet of Isis is. It’s important that Ares find it because if the relic fell into the wrong hands, it could spell disaster for his people. The Sicari were part of Ptolemy’s personal guard and later part of Rome’s Praetorian Guard, the personal bodyguards to Caesar. During Constantine’s rule, a power struggle split the guard in two (the Sicari and the Praetorians), the result of which led to the persecution of the Sicari and their families. The ones who escaped became assassins to survive. So naturally, the Sicari keep themselves hidden to ensure survival and will kill only to protect those who don’t have the ability to protect themselves. Someone like Emma. When one of Ares’s men is viciously murdered by the Praetorians, he and his guild (the Sicari Order’s Chicago guild) bring the man’s body back to his family in Michigan for the funeral. While there, Emma and Ares grow closer and Emma learns something about her father that she didn’t know. And at the same time, the Praetorians are still after Emma for information.

With Assassin’s Honor, Monica Burns has created a unique world in combining paranormal and historical elements in a contemporary setting. I must say that I really enjoyed it! Ares is an awesome hero that possesses so many qualities I love in my heroes—he’s sexy, compassionate, protective, selfless, and honorable. He takes care of those he loves at all costs. Sigh. I liked Emma, but I didn’t love her as I did Ares. She’s clever and bright and has a bit of an attitude (which are all traits I like in a heroine), but there were a couple times when I wanted to yell at her, what are you thinking? or get over it! I will say that it did create some delicious tension between the two. The mystery of the Tyet of Isis isn’t solved by the end of this book (though it's named in Emma's cipher), so I’m assuming that thread will continue into the next one. And luckily, we don’t have long to wait as Assassin’s Heart releases in September! It features Ares’s sister and his second in command, both of whom were valuable secondary characters in this book. Assassin’s Honor is a great start to what promises to be a terrific series by Monica Burns!


Review -- Desire Me

Desire Me
The Legend Hunters - Book 2
By Robyn DeHart
Publisher: Forever (Grand Central)
Release Date: June 1, 2010

“The seven rings of Atlantis will fall by fire and steel, opening the path for the army of one. Empires will crumble and crowns will melt. The three will lose their blood unless the dove can bring salvation.”

Maxwell Barrett, Marquess of Lindberg, knows the saying well. It is the ancient prophecy woven through a map’s illustrations that predicted the destruction of a great land. But it’s not just any map or just any land—it’s the lost continent of Atlantis. After two years of searching, Max found the map at the age of seventeen and risked his life to retrieve it. It’s his discovery and devotion that prompted an invitation to Solomon’s, an exclusive club for legend hunters. Fifteen years later, he still has the map but hasn’t had any luck on finding the lost land, although not without trying. Then one evening, while playing cards, Max is faced with a beautiful woman asking him to add his map to the bid. He wins the hand, but is curious as to why the woman wants it . . . and is determined to find out.

Sabine Tobias has a very good reason for her interest in Max’s map of Atlantis—she is a descendant of the lost land and needs it to translate the prophecy. She and her aunts believe it tells of someone who is after the three guardians (Seeker, Sage, and Healer) for their powerful elixirs. Atlantis had once been poised to rule the world until the three guardians fled and took their elixir with them causing the Atlantean military to suffer and become defeated. After being warned by the Seer, Sabine and her aunts, one of which is the Healer, go to London to sell Tobias Miracle Crème. In each jar of face crème, they have added a drop of elixir to distribute it amongst London society and thereby throwing off the scent, if you will, of whoever is searching for it. Sabine is disappointed when she is unable to win the marquess’s map and is even more troubled when he comes to her shop the next morning demanding answers. When London’s top military generals are being killed off one by one, Sabine and Max realize that the Chosen One is not only after the guardians, he is also attempting to fulfill the prophecy. Can they trust each other and work together to stop the killer before he succeeds?

Desire Me is the second entry in Robyn DeHart’s Legend Hunters series—a series that has quickly become a favorite of mine. I really like how Ms. DeHart has taken famous legends and built her stories around them. The first book, Seduce Me, featured Pandora’s Box while this one is about Atlantis. I’m super curious which legend Ms. DeHart will tackle next! Everyone knows how I love a good adventure romance and this book fits the bill quite nicely. In this one, she pairs a sexy, determined man and a strong-minded, beautiful woman, both of whom are used to having things “their way”. This of course added just the right amount of tension to their exciting journey and kept me turning the pages wondering what would happen next. Add in Sabine’s charming aunts, Max’s supportive friends, and a crazy villain and you’ve got the makings for a delightful story!


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Last Chance - - Hannah's List Winners

Two of the prizes from our Hannah's List Giveaway are still unclaimed.  The following posters have won a copy of Hannah's List by Debbie Macomber. 


Emily N.

Please email your full name and snail mail address to no later than Midnight (EST) on Thursday, May 27th to claim your prize. If we don't hear from you, we will draw new winners on Friday.

Guest Author - - Hannah Howell

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Hannah Howell is our special guest today! Hannah has had a long and rewarding career as a writer. Her first novel, Amber Flame, was published in 1988 and she has since penned over 40 books, many of which are set in beautiful Scotland. Her Highland series and Murray clan series are among many readers' favorites. Her latest series is set in Late-Georgian England and features 2 connected families. The first two, If He's Wicked and If He's Sinful, released in June and December of 2009, respectively. Her newest, If He's Wild, hits shelves today! Please help us welcome Hannah Howell to The Romance Dish!

The Hero’s Not In a Kilt?

No, and probably never will be and it was a little scary to step out of my ‘comfort zone’ with this trilogy. Why mess with a good thing?, my brain kept asking. Unfortunately, my brain also kept giving me these ideas that really did not work in medieval Scotland. I have put the hint of a psychic talent in several of my Highlander novels, the Murray clan being strongly blessed with ‘gifts’. Yet, due to the time period those tales are set in, it was difficult to make such gifts too big a part of the story. It was lethal to be seen as too different in those times. The urge to make psychic talents a bigger part of my story kept growing and I knew I had to come forward in time if I was to do that. That brought me to England and the late Georgian period, a time known for its scientific research, a more modern time yet not so modern that superstitions and fear of the ‘different’ had faded.

And so the Wherlockes and Vaughns were born – English, settled happily in late-Georgian London or at their country homes, and gifted with psychic talents that never fail to lead them into trouble. They are a reclusive family, the dangers of the past having made them secretive, but they know they must use their gifts for good when the need arises and do so unflinchingly.

IF HE’S WILD is the third in a trilogy concerning cousins of this extraordinary family. Alethea Vaughn Channing has visions, can even have them if she touches certain objects. If that is not burden enough, she has seen the same man in visions since she was a child. Now, she sees him cruelly murdered and wonders if this was the reason she has been glimpsing parts of his life for so long, if it all led to this warning she had to act upon. She packs up her household and heads to London to warn Hartley Greville, Lord Redgrave, of the danger he faces.

Lord Redgrave is stunned, suspicious, and disbelieving when the pretty Alethea and her uncle tell him she has ‘seen’ his death. His two compatriots are more open-minded but it doesn’t take too long for Hartley to become a believer, too. He also finds himself strongly attracted to Alethea as they work together to fight his enemies and find his missing niece and nephew. But how can a man of science and logic find happiness with a woman of visions and dreams?

In IF HE’S WICKED, the first of the trilogy, the heroine has dreams of what is to come. In IF HE’S SINFUL,the second book, the heroine can see ghosts. In all three books – which can be read separately with no trouble as the connection is only familial – they fight disbelief and their own fear of dangerous superstition and rejection. They also all find themselves knee-deep in trouble that makes them use their gifts to the fullest. Other unusually gifted members of the clan weave in and out of each tale and I do have plans for them. I haven’t given up on the Murrays but I am excited to have yet another family to write about. I hope you will give the Wherlockes and their cousins the Vaughns a chance. Good reading!

Dear Readers, have you ever stepped outside your "comfort zone"? Have you ever taken a chance and read a book outside your "comfort zone"? What were the results?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Heaven Is a New C.S. Harris!

by Anna Campbell

Oh, I do love a good tortured hero!

Yeah, I know, BIG surprise in that announcement.

One of the best tortured heroes around is C.S. Harris's gorgeous, difficult, brilliant, compelling, passionate (uh-oh, adjective overload approaching.... must.......stop......) Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, who stars in a series of mysteries set in Regency England.

In 1812, Sebastian has returned from soldiering against Napoleon in the Iberian Peninsula and now occupies his time accepting commissions to solve murders that threaten scandal for those in power. He's a vivid mixture of the man of action and the man of intellect. Not only that, but he's gifted with preternaturally good hearing and sight, especially in the dark so there's a slightly other-worldly quality to him.

And as you've probably gathered, he's tortured. Man, how he's tortured.

This is the fifth book in the series (I'd strongly advise reading the books in order - C.S. Harris does a marvelous job of timing her revelations for maximum impact). Through the first four books, WHAT ANGELS FEAR, WHEN GODS DIE, WHY MERMAIDS SING and WHERE SERPENTS SLEEP (which I think might be my favorite so far although they're all wonderful), we've watched Sebastian battle with the dark legacies of war, requited but forbidden love for Irish actress Kat Boleyn, a prickly relationship with his father, the mysterious disappearance of his mother, a growing but difficult association with bluestocking Hero Jarvis, daughter of the man Sebastian considers an enemy. And there's more! This is a man who got in first in the line that said 'trouble'!

With every book, complications build on past difficulties until you just want to offer poor old Sebastian a cup of tea and a nice lie-down. But of course, he's a heroic type so he never DOES lie down. He just keeps fighting for justice, often against the most powerful elements in a society with very little concern for people like fallen women or lower-class orphans. Sebastian's immediate, clear-eyed empathy with people from all walks of life is among his most attractive qualities. Actually he's a man overflowing with attractive qualities. I love to read about a hero who is almost super-humanly intelligent but I also love his bravery and his stoicism and his dogged determination to see right done, no matter what it costs him. He's complex, he's principled, he's daring, he's passionate, he's unorthodox. Not only that, he possesses a dry wit that enlivens the stories and adds a glimmer of light to what is sometimes a very dark landscape indeed.

The books are rich in beautifully drawn secondary characters. Among my favorites are Tom, the orphaned, smart-mouthed guttersnipe who Sebastian employs as his tiger and Paul Gibson, the one-legged war veteran who can discern a dead body's secrets with his arcane medical knowledge. Readers have strong allegiances to the two women in Sebastian's life too - you're either in Team Hero or Team Kat.

I know I've spent an age raving about Sebastian (mostly because I have a big crush on him, LOL!). Partly that's because if you haven't read the earlier books, I don't want to spoil the surprises in this story - and believe me, it's as rife with revelations and switches and betrayals and suspense and mysteries as all the other books. When the Bishop of London, a man touted as the next Archbishop of Canterbury, is discovered murdered in a crypt and next to him is another body, murdered a generation before, the current archbishop calls Sebastian in to investigate. This strange event sets off a chain of violent, dramatic and dangerous events that culminate in a breathtaking climax. I sat up all night reading this book. I suspect you will too!

If you've read the other St. Cyr books, you've probably already got this one so I'm preaching to the converted. If you haven't, I'd recommend reading WHAT ANGELS FEAR, the first one, and then I bet you devour the rest of the series. This book ends on a cliffhanger in Sebastian's private life - I can't wait to get my hot little hands on the next installment!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Guest Review - - The True Love Quilting Club

The True Love Quilting Club
By Lori Wilde
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: April 13, 2010

Actress Emma Parks thinks she’s hit rock bottom when she becomes scandal bait, her roommates kick her out of their New York apartment, and $250 is all that stands between her and destitution. Then she’s arrested and booked on assault charges brought by the lecherous Broadway producer whom she hits where it hurts most. To her surprise, she’s released and offered a job that takes her back to Twilight, Texas, the only place that ever felt like home. Emma spent her fourteenth year in the little town back when she was Trixie Lynn Parks, and her memories of the town and Sam Cheek, her first love, are warm and vivid even after sixteen years.

She’s not the only one who remembers. Sam Cheek is now Twilight’s veterinarian, a widower with a troubled young son and a Border Collie named Patches, but Trixie Lynn and the year they shared as best friends and sweethearts remain a part of him.

Add Emma and Sam’s history to Twilight’s history, its Sweetheart Tree, and Sam’s matchmaking aunt and other members of Twilight’s quilting club, and the conclusion of this story cannot be in doubt. But the journey to the HEA, like the proverbial path to true love, is anything but smooth. Old wounds require healing, and separate dreams must be reconciled. With Twilight and its endearing cast of characters in supporting roles, The True Love Quilting Club is a story with a great deal of sweetness and some surprising sizzle.

Wilde’s first Twilight, Texas novel, The Sweetheart’s Knitting Club, won a host of fans. Not only do many of the characters from the first novel make an appearance in the second book, but the centrality of the town to the story and the reunion and second-chance-at-love themes also link the two books. Fans of the first book and other readers who like small-town stories, quirky characters, and reunited lovers will likely be charmed by this book.

I enjoyed the book. I found Sam with his beta steadiness an appealing hero. I also liked the blend of humor rooted in reality, such as Emma/Trixie Lynn’s fear of dogs, with the genuinely poignant moments, such as those with Charlie, Sam’s son. I would have liked for the story to have been less predictable, and I was bothered by Wilde’s occasional lapse into prose that in my eyes at least shaded into purple. For these reasons, I awarded it three and a half stars.


Guest Review - - My Reckless Surrender

My Reckless Surrender
By Anna Campbell
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: May 25, 2010

Tarquin Vale, Earl of Ashcroft, has the reputation of being a man who can’t say no to the women, from aristocrats to courtesans, who are eager to share his bed. Diana Carrick counts on that reputation when she approaches him and boldly declares she wants him as her lover. His initial refusal is just the first of a series of surprises as Diana discovers that Vale, reformist politician, collector of antiquities, and wounded soul, is immeasurably more complicated than the debauched lord she thought him to be.

Vale, sated with his self-indulgent life, finds himself reluctantly fascinated with the beauty and mystery of Diana. As the relationship develops and his feelings for Diana deepen, he reveals more and more of the man he is. But Diana guards her secrets more and more desperately. Tarquin may hold her heart, but even at her most naked and vulnerable, she never completely discards her veil. This is an Anna Campbell book. Of course, the pages steam with the heat generated in love scenes detailed in erotic richness and emotional complexity.

I’ll be candid and admit up front that I’m an Anna Campbell fan. I delayed reading Claiming the Courtesan because all the buzz about it told me that it was darker and hotter than most of the books I read, but once I read it, AC went on my auto-buy list. Her books are dark, but they are not lightless; they are hot, but she never forgets that her characters have minds, hearts, and souls as well as bodies. There is angst and anguish a plenty in My Reckless Surrender, but there are also some delightfully playful exchanges between Vale and Diana. The following is one of my favorite bits from the book:

Laughter bubbled up like a pure stream. Strangely, when this was over, she’d miss the laughter as much as the passion.

Then she remembered the taste of his mouth. The hot saltiness of his tongue. The deep thrust of his body.

Maybe not quite as much.

Vale may be my favorite of Campbell’s heroes, and that’s saying a great deal because I have loved every one of her heroes. But Vale has all the essential qualities I want in my romance heroes: intelligence, humor, integrity, and a great capacity for both tenderness and passion. I’m less enthusiastic about Diana. I felt sympathy for her, especially toward the end of the book, but her motive for choosing to do something that fills her with shame even before she falls in love with Vale never seems fully adequate to me. That quality and a feeling that the denouement is rushed account for the half star deduction. But the strengths of MRS far outweigh these flaws. The lush prose, the multi-dimensional characters, the conviction that the H/H belong together for a lifetime—these are the qualities that made My Reckless Surrender eminently readable, memorable, and satisfying. I’m left with another keeper and a question: How long do I have to wait for Anna Campbell’s next Regency noir?