Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Coming Attractions for July

July is going to sizzle here at The Romance Dish! You will not want to miss a minute of it!!!!

On July 2, Andrea provides us with a complete list of the new releases for July. I know there are a lot of books I am looking forward to reading.

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Patricia Rice guest blogs with us on July 6. I bet she will give us a glimpse into her newest novel, The Wicked Wyckerly.

Debut author (and Romance Bandit) Susan Sey joins us on July 7 to dish about her debut novel, Money Honey.

On July 8, Andrea will give us a sneak peak at new releases for August in her Make Your Reservations monthly blog.

Join us on July 9 as we interview romantic suspense author Loucinda McGary. Loucinda’s latest release is The Wild Irish Sea.

On July 10, Trish Milburn/Tricia Mills dishes about the latest in YA novels in her Teen Menu blog.

Are you heading on vacation and need to pick up a few books to take on your trip? Be sure to check out our Beach Bag Reviews on July 12. These quick reviews are a great way to stock up on vacation reading material!!

On July 13, we interview contemporary romance author Marie Force. Maybe she will talk about her latest work, Fatal Affair.

And we sure can’t have a sizzling month without an equally sizzlin’ Hot Dish! The alarm will sound loudly on July 15 when Buffie announces this month’s Hot Dish.

On July 19, New York Times best seller Eloisa James spends the day with us. Eloisa’s newest novel, A Kiss at Midnight, looks like another winner!

Anna Campbell regales the joy of her latest read in her Second Helpings blog. It is always a treat to see what Anna is reading.

As most everyone knows, the Romance Writers of America National Conference will be held in Orlando, Florida, during the last week in July and all four of us Dishes will be there!! We will be cheering on all the authors nominated for the coveted Rita Award. And we want to share the experience with you . . . so from July 27 through July 31 we will be blogging LIVE from the conference. Be sure to stop by that week to read what we are seeing, hearing and thinking. It is going to be a grand time!

Of course, in addition to all the wonderful guest blogs we have going on this month, there will be a variety of reviews and blogs from the four of us.

Hope to see you several times during July!

~ Buffie

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Today's Special -- Dee Davis

Romance author Dee Davis has sold over twenty books and two novellas since her debut release, Everything In Its Time. Dee's most latest work is the A-Tac series. This series follows the members of the A-Tac team, an elite team of covert operators who are tenured professors with expertise in both academia and espionage. Dark Deceptions (Book 1) was released April 1, 2010. Dangerous Desires (Book 2) and Desperate Deeds (Book 3) will be released July 1 and August 2, respectively.

Please give Dee a warm welcome as she discusses how to . . .

Slay Your Demons

You know how a song can instantly transport you to a certain time or a certain place? Just three notes and you’re back in college on the ratty old sofa in your boyfriend’s apartment. (Well, okay so we won’t go there.) But you know what I mean. It’s sort of an instant time travel device?

Well for me, my things are like that. Knowing where my things belong, where they fit, is important. See, I’ve moved all off my life. Every two years. My dad turned down a commission in the army because my mom didn’t want to move so much. So we think he went out immediately and found a job that meant moving more than the army. I definitely get my passive aggressive tendencies from my father. (But like the sofa, that’s another story.)

What I’m talking about here is demons. Or more specifically slaying them. And my demon is and always will be starting over. In any capacity. Thanks to all those years on the go, I’m a sucker for permanence. And so when I found out recently that we had to move apartments, yet again, suffice it to say that I went ballistic. My poor husband can attest to the fact, and it wasn’t even his fault we had to move. No, this one landed squarely at the foot of our now ex-landlord -- the company who called and wanted to raise our already choke- on-your-dinner-when-you-say-it rent even higher into the realm of heart-stopping-you’ve-got –to-be-kidding rent.

But I digress.

It wasn’t the sudden nature of the move that got to me, it wasn’t even the fact that I’d moved just seven years earlier, half way across the country and the Mason/Dixon line, from a four bedroom house on land with a pool, to a two bedroom apartment with a kitchen the size of a closet and closets the size of a shoebox. (I’m told real New Yorkers store shoes in their ovens and other things in their shoe boxes.) What scared me was the idea that I was going to have to go out there and find another apartment. And not just any apartment – I had to find the apartment – again. Talk about demons.

To be honest we still hadn’t recovered from our last move. I’d just located the Christmas stockings (six months and one Christmas after they were needed, but hey, I’d found them). I couldn’t move. I absolutely under no circumstances could move. And I announced that in the overly dramatic, I’ll-slit-my-wrists-if-you-don’t-agree-to-my-demands way that I’ve perfected over the last fifty years and which no one – including sainted husband – ever listens to. Which meant we now had less than a month to find an apartment and move.

On some level this is probably not a frightening thing. I mean there are most likely people out there who would have thrown up their hands, shrugged philosophically and laughed about how they really needed to clean house anyway.

I am not one of those people.

I make lists. And then I make lists of my lists. I plan. And so I prepared for my apartment hunt as if it were the latest campaign in a lifelong war. I take the idea of slaying demons quite literally. It’s them or me, I figure. And I didn’t watch all those John Wayne movies growing up, for nothing.

But nothing is easy in New York City. Nothing. You’d think that in a city with literally hundreds of apartments on every block it wouldn’t be that hard to find one. Unfortunately you’d be wrong. You see there are always mitigating factors.

In our case, he weighs 45 pounds, resembles a sausage with big ears and barks. His name is Max. At least half of the buildings in New York don’t accept tenants with dogs. Cats, yes. Dogs, no. And then another third, I’d say, of the remaining buildings don’t take dogs that weigh over thirty pounds. I should put Max on a diet – really I should – but no way is he going to lose fifteen pounds. Not going to happen.

Then once you whittle those apartments away, we narrow it further by requiring an elevator and a doorman. I mean a girl has to have standards, right? Now add in a high-school aged child – who needs to be close to her friends (her mother already moved her twice) and her school, and we’ve narrowed the field yet again.

Enter the broker, who shows you things that are too small, too expensive, too -- shudder – dirty, too ornate (you should have seen the French Rocco one), things you don’t want, things you can’t have (because someone rents it five minutes before you’ve seen it), things that are missing major parts – like kitchens or closets… well you get the idea.

And then, after three weeks of looking, you finally find it. An admittedly low floor unit, that despite its height impairment is huge, with – wait for it – a terrace. It’s everything you’ve ever dreamed an apartment in New York City should be. A great building. A dining room (hey I downsized, remember – and I’m southern. I need a dining room). And closets, EIGHT OF THEM.

Okay, I’m hyperventilating trying to get my hand to hold still long enough to sign the lease, and thinking to myself that maybe this moving thing was for the best after all. Only then, because after all this is a cruel city, our broker (yes, you have to have a broker just to rent an apartment – and more credit checks than I ever had buying a house) -- anyway, our broker walks in with a disappointed shake of his head and informs us that the building is going condo.


Okay it’s definitely a plot. I’m not a happy camper. After my husband peels me off the floor, gets me home and sedated, we decide to be really brave and hit the pavement on our own. There are maybe six buildings that meet our criteria in our part of the city that are no fee buildings (read you can do it the old fashioned way – yourself).

Well, I’m incapable of doing much of anything at this point except lift my arm to drain the martini glass. But my husband, bless his little heart, manages to find not one but three options for us. All of which are really great. And so after a couple of days of mulling over the choices (and sobering up from the martinis) I finally make my decision and we go to the building to sign the papers.

Except that, oops, in my sobering up time, the apartment has been rented. Much cursing and unprintable stuff goes on next. Said demon is winning – big time. So I go home and pull out my floor plans and furniture cut-outs (I told you I was anal) and start trying to cram our furniture into one of the other two apartments.

And after much teeth gnashing and a couple of broken pencil tips, I manage to get all the little pieces of paper furniture on the graph paper sized version of the apartment. We call the apartment people again – and set the appointment. This time when I arrive, it’s to the news that the original apartment (the bigger one) is available again. Seems the guy backed out at the last moment (probably buying my condo).

So the moral to the story – and I’m not even going to go into what happened with the actual move – is that perseverance wins the day and vanquishes the demons. I think inertia is the worst thing we can do in times of crisis. Just getting out there and doing something – anything -- seems to be the best offense.

And in my case that’s the only way I managed to be sitting here on my new terrace looking at the most beautiful sunset in Manhattan, surrounded by all my things, each of which reminds me of some moment or time in my life when I was happy, and of course the most important lesson of all – as long as my family is with me – anywhere is home. And based on life so far in New York – there’s no telling where exactly that will be next. But for the time being, we’re here. Living in the moment. Demons vanquished – at least for the time being!

What about you? What are your demons and how do you vanquish them?

---when not collapsed on her terrace bemoaning her latest move, award winning author Dee Davis is at the computer writing. Check out her newest romantic suspense, Desperate Deeds, book three in the A-Tac series. Available now.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Today's Special -- Maya Rodale

Historical romance author Maya Rodale began reading romance novels in college at her mother’s insistence and it wasn’t long before she was writing her own. Maya is now the author of multiple Regency historical romances, including her latest, A Groom of One's Own, out tomorrow! She lives in New York City with her darling dog and a rogue of her own. Please help us welcome Maya to The Romance Dish as she talks about...

Weddings, weddings everywhere!

There are a lot of blog worthy topics in my new book, A Groom Of One’s Own: love quandrangles, dukes, female newspaper writers in Regency London, foreign princes, great schemes, big scandals….but today I wanted to chat about wedding planning.

First of all, that’s Groom as in bride and groom, not a stable boy (as one of my friends thought--I find the confusion funny). Planning the grand “Wedding of the Year” between the Duke of Hamilton and Brandon (our hero) and the daughter of the Duke of Richmond (the lovely and likeable female foil) forms the backdrop of the story. It’s also the subject of The London Weekly’s column, Miss Harlow’s Marriage in High Life, written by our heroine, Miss Sophie Harlow.

Wedding planning—smile with glee or cringe? I had no first hand experience with it when I was writing the book—I knew there was dress fittings and cake tasting involved, but that was about it. I did my research (thanks to my cousin, Shelbi!) but nothing compares to the real experience.

Speaking of A Groom Of One’s Own, my now-fiance proposed after I handed the book in. So now I’m knee deep in planning my own wedding and have an appreciation for the complexity of it—the guest list is fraught with opportunities to offend, the etiquette of invitations is outrageously intricate, and dress shopping loses its appeal after the 20th or so dress.

None of these things made it into the book—instead I focused on the romance between a betrothed duke and the scandalous young woman who writes for a newspaper. Or the romance between said duke’s fiancé and a dashing foreign prince. Or the Big Secret that complicates everything. Oh, and then you would not believe what actually happens at the Wedding of the Year.

But back to wedding planning and weddings—my fiancé and I are enjoying everyone else’s wedding stories and advice, as well as videos and tales about when things go wrong at weddings. Got any to share? Any favorite wedding scenes from romance novels?


Miss Harlow's Marriage In High Life
London, 1823

A handsome duke. His beautiful soon-to-be duchess. A whirlwind courtship. It is this author's privilege to report on the event all of London is talking about: the upcoming wedding of the Duke of Hamilton and Brandon to the only daughter of the Duke of Richmond. Every details of the "Wedding of the Year" will be reported in these pages as a London Weekly exclusive.

But I, Miss Sophie Harlow, must confess to a secret infatuation with this "double duke" that can only lead to trouble. It is impossible that this notoriously upstanding gentleman would ever jilt his bride for a scandalous female newspaper writer. And yet...the arrival of a foreign prince, the discovery of a shocking secret, and one passionate kiss could change everything. Will this perfect duke risk the scandal of the year to marry the woman his heart desires?

There are only just three more weeks until the wedding...

For more information about Maya and her books, please visit her at:

Friday, June 25, 2010

Battling the Blahs

For the past couple of weeks, I have been battling the dreaded blahs. You know what I am talking about, right? That dispirited mood where nothing seems to make you smile and you just feel tired or run down all the time.

For some strange reason people assume that I am a peppy kind of person just because of my name. While I am not always peppy, I do tend to be in a good mood the majority of the time. So I really don’t like having a case of the blahs. And believe me, my family doesn’t like it either!

I am not sure if my crazy work schedule has finally taken its toll on me. Andrea, PJ and Gannon have heard me complain about it for a year now (see I’m a part-time employee who has been working full-time plus overtime for A YEAR and counting).

Or maybe the blahs arrived after the start of summer vacation for my two children. The chaos summer brings is just unreal. I’m a structured kind of person, but there is no structure in summer! And the kids are ALWAYS bored!! Given my hectic work schedule, there is no time for visits to the park or play dates with friends.

I don’t know what triggered the onslaught of the blahs, but a few days ago I decided to take the bull by the horn, or rather the blahs by the horn. It was past time to throw the blahs out of my life.

How did I do it?

Well, with a good ole shopping trip. Yes, you heard me correctly – SHOPPING!

First let me explain something to you. See, I’m not like most women. I’m not a clothes whore. I’m not a bag whore. I’m not a shoe whore. In fact, my husband probably has more shoes and clothes than I do. I only buy what I need. Usually, I only go to the store if my kids need something. And that has always been fine.

Until now.

Until the blahs took up residence.

So during a recent stop at a local store to get my son some new shoes (see my kid needed something), I wandered over to the purse section of the store just to see what was out and found . . . THIS.

Isn’t she pretty??

And you know what else? She was on clearance. Oh yes, clearance bay-bee!!! Seventy percent off of the original price.

Now she’s beautiful, right? I sure thought so.

So I picked her up, took her picture with my phone and sent it to my sister. She immediately called and said, “You better buy her for yourself!” See, my sister knows I am a practical person. And a pretty pink purse is not practical. At least not for me.

But she is beautiful!

And she has SUPERPOWERS!!

She vanquished the blahs with a single swipe of my debit card.

I was grinning from ear to ear when I got home with her. My husband rolled his eyes as I presented her ala Vanna White style. But he noticed the smile on my face, the twinkle in my eyes and the pick-up in my step.

Mission accomplished.

Now you might think I’m insane, but I am almost daring the blahs to come back.

See, my pretty pink purse has a sister. She’s apple green and I believe she has superpowers too ;-)

So what do you do to wave bye-bye to the blahs?

~ Buffie

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Blissful Book!

by Anna Campbell

As anyone who looks at the 'what we're reading right now' slide show on this site knows, I get a craze on Harlequins every so often. Usually just one line. I get my fix then I wander back to single titles for a while until the next time. Lately I've been reading some fantastic SuperRomances.

A confession - I used to avoid SuperRomances because of the covers, in spite of the fact that people kept telling me they were great. The stories looked too wholesome for me with all those smiling people and babies. There's lots of babies on Super covers (not on this one, you'll notice - instead we get a tattoo!). But my first year judging the RITA, I got one and loved it so they've become regular reading for me since. A few favorite writers in the line are Kathleen O'Reilly, Sarah Mayberry and Beth Andrews.

Now to that list, I'm adding New Zealander Karina Bliss.

Karina Bliss and I were on the contest circuit here about the same time so I knew her name. And she's won an Australian Romantic Book of the Year Award. But it took me until now to pick up one of her books. Now I want all the others.

There's something really intriguing about a librarian story, isn't there? It makes me think of Marian the Librarian in The Music Man. You just know you're going to get an outwardly starchy stick-in-the-mud loosened up by her encounter with passion in the form of a gorgeous guy. That nerd to siren story arc gets me every time (actually the book I'm writing now has a similar theme!). There's something magical in the transformation and also in the fact that the big bad wolf discerns the promise beneath our heroine's buttoned-up exterior. We love it when big bad wolf falls for the wallflower and shows her she's not such a wallflower after all. Yum! Also delicious is watching big bad wolf cope with the fact that he's falling for the last woman he ever imagined would attract him. Fun on so many levels! And in a good librarian story, both hero and heroine emerge at the end with a richer view of life. It's never a one-way street.

WHAT THE LIBRARIAN DID is set in Auckland and features librarian Rachel Robinson who lives very much in a world of books and learning. Rachel has a BIG secret which propels a lot of the plot and adds a heart-wrenching depth to this story. Into Rachel's safe little world bursts ex-rockstar Devin Freedman. After his band breaks up, he seeks a purpose in life. He's s doing a business degree at the university where Rachel works.

There are some hugely enjoyable scenes as the worlds of these two very different people smash into each other. Rachel is one of the few people in the world who has no idea who Devin is. Devin, understandably, is a fairly cocky guy so it's wonderful watching his bewilderment when this dowdy librarian (or dowdy in rockstar terms!) treats him like just one more borrower! Both Devin and Rachel are vulnerable and there's such poignancy in watching them edge towards love, making so many mistakes along the way.

There are a stack of classic romance themes weaving together in this book. Cinderella, certainly. The rake reformed. Secret baby. Fish out of water. Opposites attract. Karina juggles these various elements with immense skill. There's great humor and there's great pathos. I found myself tearing up at a few points in the story and laughing out loud in others.

The characterization is so rich, not just Rachel, with her businesslike distance from life and her yearning heart, and Devin, with his baggage and wariness and sexy swagger. One of the things I appreciate about Supers is that because they're longer than many category books, you can play with things like subplots and secondary characters. There's Mark, Devin's unlikely friend at the uni. There's Trixie, Rachel's goth offsider in the library. There's Devin's mother who is a lovely character. There's even a wonderful clash of cultures when people from the music business invade the quiet island where Devin is living.

I hope you pick up this book. As you can gather, it's a real treat. Definitely worthy of Dewey classification on your keeper shelves!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Make Your Reservations winner!

The winner of an advanced galley of Maya Rodale's A Groom of One's Own is:


Congratulations, chelleyreads! Please send your full name and address to theromancedishATgmailDOTcom with "MYR winner" as the subject, we'll forward your info on to Avon. Again, we thank Avon for the gracious offer and to everyone who commented!

Review -- Barely A Lady

Barely A Lady
Book One: Drake's Rakes Series
By Eileen Dreyer
Publisher: Grand Central
Release Date: June 29, 2010

Olivia Grace has every reason to despise Jack Wyndham, Earl of Gracechurch, who scandalously married and then divorced her, ruining her completely. Yet when she finds an injured Jack on a battlefield wearing the enemy's uniform, she can't resist saving him. He might have broken her heart, but can he truly be a traitor?


When Jack awakes he is shocked to discover that he has lost Olivia's love---and much of his memory. Did he really destroy their marriage? And what do his dreams of blood-soaked French uniforms and revenge mean? As the noose of danger tightens around them, Jack and Olivia must determine which is most frightening: the threat of the hangman, their own tempestuous history, or the passion that flares between them once again.

Bestselling romantic suspense author Eileen Dreyer brings her talent to historical romance with her first book in her Drake's Rakes Series. Brimming with sensuality, intrigue and luscious prose, Barely A Lady will leave readers sighing with satisfaction and breathless with anticipation for the next book.

Olivia is in Brussels, acting a chaperone for a perfectly odious family. But since her divorce left her persona non grata as far as the ton is concerned, she must make due no matter how disagreeable the circumstances may be. Lucky for her---though she does not think so at the time---her employers leave her behind, and Olivia is taken in by the lovely (and slightly scandalous) Lady Kate, Dowager Duchess of Murther and her companions, Lady Bea and Grace Fairchild. Fearing that Lady Kate will find out her true identity and put her out, Olivia is torn between keeping the secret or revealing the truth and accepting the consequences. But when she finds her ex-husband wounded on the battlefields of Waterloo wearing a French uniform, she fears that things have gone from bad to worse. But when Jack awakens with no memory of the past five years, Olivia has no idea how to handle the situation.

Jack has no idea why he is injured, but when he sees Olivia he is overjoyed. In his mind, they have only been apart a short while---a cooling off period after a spat---but he is overcome with love and desire for his 'Livvie.' Olivia can't help but respond to his passion, but she pulls away as memories of the pain she has endured over the past five years overwhelms her. Jack doesn't understand her behavior, and Olivia can't tell him what has happened; the doctor has diagnosed Jack with amnesia and cautions everyone not to tell him about events he doesn't remember for fear it may kill him. Jack must remember it all on his own. While he struggles with his memory, his love and desire for Olivia remain constant and he continues to woo her. Olivia remembers why she fell in love with Jack, even as she struggles with the pain of his betrayal.

She missed him. Sweet God, she missed him, and she hadn't allowed herself to admit that for years. She shouldn't allow it now, because it would make it so much harder later when he left again. But it was as if her body had been waiting for his hands to waken it. For his mouth to bless it. For his body to meet it.

The reason behind Olivia and Jack's divorce is not made known immediately, so while I felt sorry for all Olivia had endured, I was moved by Jack and his amnesia, enjoying watching them rediscover one another. But when Jack finally recovers his memory and becomes righteous with indignant anger toward Olivia, I wanted to jump through the pages and throttle him!! His cousin, Gervaise, is in the thick of it, and he continues to feed the fire of Jack's anger. Jack has some serious making up to do in order to redeem himself for Olivia (and me!). And he most certainly does, in such a way that my eyes welled with tears at the love and trust that finally shone through.

Jack turned to Livvie then and, smiling, gently closed her gaping mouth with a finger beneath her chin. "I know, my love. You have no reason to believe me. But I've remembered some lessons I learned in the last years. One was that you were, indeed, as Sergeant Harper said, the truest lass I've ever known. I'm just sad I didn't remember that lesson sooner. The other is that trust is based on faith. Not evidence. And, oh, Livvie, how could I ever have mislaid my faith in you?"

Barely A Lady is a gem of a book that will have readers cheering for the hero and heroine, booing the villain, and smiling through tears as they reach the end. I now have a new favorite on my keeper shelves! And I suspect that Book 2, Never A Gentleman, will be joining it when it's released. Brava, Ms. Dreyer!

~ Gannon

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Review -- Seven Secrets of Seduction

Seven Secrets of Seduction
By Anne Mallory
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: May 25, 2010


This is the word that kept going through my mind while reading Anne Mallory’s latest masterpiece and also long after I closed the last page. This book, which is now my favorite of 2010, is so brilliantly written that I hope I can do it justice in my review.

Shopgirl Miranda Chase is absorbed in the latest Gothic novel while covering for a sick coworker when a handsome stranger enters her uncle’s bookstore. The usually steadfast Miranda is immediately thrown off balance as they exchange quips filled with innuendo pertaining to the newest book that is all the rage in London, The Seven Secrets of Seduction by the author Eleutherios. He believes the book is silly and about nothing but sex, while she thinks it’s lovely and shows that beauty can be found even in the most ordinary things.

“You think a book on seduction is lovely?”

“It is a lovely, burgeoning tome that when dissected contains a wealth of personal realization and self-enlightenment.” The words, nearly rehearsed at this point from the number of times she had found herself defending them to crotchety men and scandalized matrons, fell from her lips.

The strange smile he had first sported reappeared, as if he found her odd and vastly entertaining. “‘A burgeoning tome?’ Is that a kind way to say bloated?”

“Not bloated.” Her hip bumped the counter, as her body tried to express its agitation without her consent. “It

“I didn’t realize that burgeoning was something a book did. Do kittens pop from its covers when it gets too full?” He looked at the stand as if a full-grown cat might spring from the pages and catch him unawares.

She drummed her fingers on the freshly printed Gothic. “You are not amusing.”

“I daresay you are though.”

The infuriating, yet captivating stranger returns the next day to pick up his order of books. It isn’t until after their second tête-à-tête that Miranda’s friend Georgette tells her that the man is none other than the notorious Maximilian Landry, Viscount Downing, the same man whom they read about daily in the Society pages. Later, she realizes he “accidentally” took the wrong parcel when her uncle instructs her to go to the viscount’s home the next day to exchange the packages. When she arrives, Downing asks her to organize and catalog his library and says he will pay her well to do it. Because he flusters her, Miranda tries to refuse, only to have him explain that he has already secured her uncle’s permission. The next day, while at her new “job”, Downing issues Miranda a challenge—she can use The Seven Secrets of Seduction to try to show him all of the strange and wonderful things in a new light, while he will use it to seduce her. He offers her a prize that is too good to pass up, so which of them will win?

Seven Secrets of Seduction is a phenomenal book. I was riveted from page one and didn’t want to put it down. Ms. Mallory has created a sensual tale in which each encounter between Max and Miranda sizzled with sexual tension, not just the love scenes. These two had perfect chemistry. Miranda is a smart, practical girl with no lofty aspirations, though she does have dreams of visiting the Continent, especially Paris, one day. Both she and Max are clever and very perceptive which only intensifies their game of “cat and mouse”. The first part of the book is told almost exclusively in Miranda’s point of view, so Max is sort of a mystery to her and the reader. And with good reason. Then Ms. Mallory slowly peels away the layers and we learn more about the elusive man. He’s cunning, confident, and always follows through.

She didn’t dare breathe because of the short distance between them. “I think you are a tease, my lord.”

“No, a tease is someone who only promises without following through.” His fingers interlocked, and one thumb slowly traced a pattern around the edges of the other. “I guarantee you that I am a man who follows through.”

There is a reason he wants Miranda and I thoroughly enjoyed watching it all unfold at just the right pace. One of the things I love about Anne Mallory’s books is that she treats her readers as intelligent individuals. She doesn’t spell out everything—she allows the reader to discover things themselves and I found myself savoring this story so I could catch every little clue.

If you’re looking for an extremely well-written historical filled with surprising plot twists and characters who avoid clichéd actions, don’t miss this gem. My copy has permanent residence on my keeper shelves, along with Anne Mallory’s other books. I highly recommend Seven Secrets of Seduction!


Monday, June 21, 2010

Interview - - Pamela Palmer

Our special guest today is the multi-talented paranormal and historical romance author, Pamela Palmer.  The daughter of an Air Force pilot, Pamela's childhood was filled with adventure but, when she wasn't riding elephants or riding out earthquakes, she could usually be found in her room where, according to her website, she spent hours "reading, watching Star Trek or imagining other worlds filled with magic, strange creatures and dashing space pirates."  It's no surprise that, nowadays, she's the award-winning author creating those other worlds in her books.  Please help me welcome Pamela to The Romance Dish!

Good Morning, Pamela!  Thank you for visiting with us today.  Congratulations on the upcoming June 29th release of RAPTURE UNTAMED, the fourth book in your paranormal Feral Warriors series. Please tell us a bit about this series and Jag and Olivia’s story.

Thanks so much for having me! The premise behind the Feral Warriors series is that only nine shape-shifters exist in the world, each one able to shift into a different animal. Once there were thousands, but millennia ago the shifter race, the Therians, mortgaged most of their power to defeat the Daemons. Now only nine are left and the Daemons are rising again. Not good. RAPTURE UNTAMED is the fourth book in the series. In this one, three non-thinking wraith Daemons have escaped into the world and are on a killing spree. With the Feral Warriors fighting battles on several fronts, their leader, Lyon, requests the assistance of several non-shifting Therian fighters, led by Olivia.

Jag, the hero of RAPTURE UNTAMED, is the bad boy of the Feral bunch. He delights in making others mad and he’s great at it. When he gets paired with Olivia, he turns to heckling her, even as he’s massively attracted to her. Sparks fly, but Jag soon realizes Olivia’s not quite what she seems and that she’s a match for him in ways neither of them could have imagined.

That sounds terrific!  I can see I'll be adding four more books to my massive tbr stash.  Should the books in the Feral Warriors series be read in order or do they each stand on their own?

I try very hard to set up each book so that someone jumping in mid-stream won’t get lost. But this is very much a continuing-plot series. It’s best to start at the beginning with DESIRE UNTAMED.

I have to say, the covers on these books certainly put me in the mood for a Feral Warrior of my own. Do you have any input into the cover art for your books?

The covers are…inspiring…aren’t they? The Avon art department has done a fabulous job, IMO. As for me having input, the answer is yes. And no. I give them the pertinent facts, basically a description of the hero and the animal he shifts into. The art department does the rest. A couple of things I’ve even changed to match the covers – writer following artist. For example, I originally envisioned the Feral armbands as silver. If anyone read one of the ARCs of DESIRE UNTAMED, you’ll notice the armbands were silver. But the covers for those first books all had gold armbands and I liked the way they looked, so changed it in the books.

Pamela, you wrote for many years before finally selling. What advice would you give to unpublished writers?

Two things: keep writing and never give up. The element of luck in this business is huge. It’s all about finding the right person at the right time with the right project. When you hear about an author who sold her first book, it all seems so easy, but for every author who does that, there are dozens who didn’t.

Speaking of selling books, we love call stories here at The Romance Dish.  How did you get the news of your first sale? Did you do anything special to celebrate?

That first sale call was wonderful…and confusing! The book that sold first (the fourth I’d completed), THE DARK GATE, was published in April 2007 by Silhouette Nocturne. I had entered it in the 2006 Golden Heart contest and it finaled. The final round is judged by acquiring editors, but they never reveal who. May 31, 2006, I got a call from Ann Leslie Tuttle with Silhouette books telling me she wanted to buy my book for Nocturne. Which was wonderful, but I’d never submitted it to Silhouette. And I’d never heard of Nocturne. (The first Nocturnes wouldn’t hit shelves for another four months.) After telling me she wanted the book she had to explain what the Nocturne line was. Of course, I knew she must have been one of my Golden Heart judges and she later admitted as much. My celebration consisted of calling everyone I knew. It was an amazing moment.

You also write Scottish time travel romances (a personal favorite of mine) under the name of Pamela Montgomerie. Would you tell us a bit about your recent time travel release, AMETHYST DESTINY?

AMETHYST DESTINY, the sequel to SAPPHIRE DREAM (which came out last summer), is set in 17th century Scotland. The blurb: Julia Brodie ignores her Scottish cousin’s orders not to touch the antique-looking necklace until she gets back to New York and finds herself yanked back to seventeenth-century Scotland. Talon thinks his own magic ring delivered the petite beauty to him to help him succeed in his latest mission. But when his mission puts her in mortal danger, he begins to realize love is the greatest magic of all.

What authors do you enjoy reading when you have time to get lost in a fictional world other than those of your making?

I have a number of favorites, depending on my mood. I’m totally engrossed in Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series. I also love Nalini Singh, JR Ward, Anna Campbell, Larissa Ione, and Sarah MacLean.

I understand your childhood dream was to become an astronaut. What four fictional characters would you take with you on a flight to the stars?

Oh, great question! Since my dream was ‘to explore strange new worlds’ (yes, I was a Star Trek fanatic), I’d want the strongest, most powerful, as my companions. Easy on the eye wouldn’t be a hardship, either. So I’m choosing four Feral Warriors, definitely. Which four, though, would be the question.

Hmmm, I'm sensing there might be a few stowaways on that spaceship!  What’s next from the creative imagination of Pamela Palmer/Pamela Montgomerie?

The fifth book in the Feral Warriors series, HUNGER UNTAMED, comes out next February. And I’m currently working on book six. I also have two more Esri books coming out from Harlequin at some point, though I’m still waiting on release dates.

Love that title!  I'll be eager to see what cover Avon comes up with for that one!  Pamela, thank you so much for visiting with us today.  Before I head off to order the Feral Warriors books, is there a question you’d like to ask our blog visitors?

I love the flight to the stars question, so I’ll turn it back to you guys. If you could take between one and four fictional characters with you on a flight to the stars (or to be stranded with you on a desert isle), who would it be?

I’ll choose one poster to receive a signed copy of DESIRE UNTAMED, the first book in my Feral Warriors series.

Thanks for having me!

~PJ and Pamela 

The Feral Warriors books, in order, are:

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Review - - Grace Under Pressure

Grace Under Pressure
Manor House Mysteries, Book 1
By Julie Hyzy
Publisher:  Berkley
Release Date: June 1, 2010

Meet Grace Wheaton, lover of history and mystery - both of which can be found in her hometown's palatial Marshfield Manor...

Grace Wheaton was happy in New York City but when she comes home to nurse her terminally ill mother she remembers how much she loves her hometown, especially Marshfield Manor.  Her late grandmother once worked there and Grace has always had a special affinity for the place, having visited many times during her childhood.  Her plans to return to New York following her mother's death dissolve when her fiance runs off with another woman and Grace inherits the family home, one of the town's Victorian "Painted Ladies."  She stays, acquires two roommates (Bruce and Scott), proprietors of the local wine shop and fulfills her lifelong dream of working at Marshfield Manor when she's hired as Assistant Curator.  She hopes to one day step into her boss's shoes but she never expects it to be so soon...or the result of the man being murdered!

Murders rarely occur in the small town of Emberstowne so, when the Head Curator of Marshfield Manor is shot to death in the private quarters of Bennett Marshfield, the manor's reclusive, millionaire owner, the police are left scratching their heads and the Manor's staff are set adrift without their Captain.  It's up to Grace to step in and take charge of the Manor which is a bit of a challenge considering she's the newcomer nobody trusts.  Not only that but she's also thrown into the middle of the murder investigation when she discovers that Bennett has not only been receiving threatening letters but on the day of the murder, had testified against a former friend accused of engineering a Ponzi scheme in which many people lost their life savings.  She's sure the police are in over their heads and sets out to solve the murder mystery herself.  Will she be the hero of the day or the murderer's next victim?

I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  It's a delightful cozy mystery with plenty of action, a well-paced story, a mystery with numerous twists and turns that kept me guessing for most of the book, family secrets, a few unexpected surprises and a budding romance that I hope will be continued through the rest of the books in this series.  There are some wonderfully drawn secondary characters, especially Grace's inherited assistant and her roommates.  I hope we'll see more of them in the coming books too! 

Julie Hyzy is an author who is new to me but not new to publication.  The three books in her White House Chef Mysteries series have all been well received.  I'll be checking them out while I wait for book #2 in the Manor House Mystery series to be published.

If you're looking for a good whodunit with a great cast of characters this summer, I highly recommend Grace Under Pressure.



Saturday, June 19, 2010

Kim Castillo Winner

      Many thanks to everyone who stopped by the blog yesterday for Conference tips from Kim Castillo.  We had a great time and gathered lots of terrific advice to help us have a fun and successful RWA National Conference experience next month in Orlando.  Thank you to Kim and to the many posters who shared their own conference-tested tips!  We had two prize winners yesterday.

Penfield is the winner of a signed book from Kim's prize stash for knowing that Kim's conference breakfast buddy is Kristan Higgins.  Congratulations, Penfield!

Congratulations to the randomly selected "grand prize" winner from Kim's blog:


Please email your name and mailing address to to claim your prize.

Friday, June 18, 2010


You’ve registered for your first RWA National Conference, scheduled vacation time from work, confirmed your travel reservations and you’re ready to…well…you’re not really quite sure what you’re ready to do next.

PJ: What clothes will I need to take? And how many clothes? Is the dress casual, business or dressy?

Andrea: What about shoes? Are sneakers okay? (I’ve heard there’s a lot of walking!) Should I take heels?

Buffie: What’s the etiquette for approaching favorite authors in the hotel lobby or bar? Is it okay to just walk up and say hello?

Gannon: What about workshops? There are so many! How will I know which one(s) to attend?

Dishes: What if someone asks for my phone number…email…website? Should I carry a pen and paper with me at all times? Should I have business cards made? (Actually, that's one we already figured out and we can't wait to show off our brand spankin' new Romance Dish business cards!)

These are only a small sampling of the thoughts that were swirling in Gannon's and PJ's heads when they started planning for their first National conference last summer in Washington, DC and currently have Buffie and Andrea spinning in circles as they prepare for their first National next month in Orlando! Not wanting anyone to step off on the wrong foot, we turned to our friend, Kim Castillo for expert guidance. As a conference veteran and assistant to many published authors, we knew she would have the advice we will all need to enjoy a successful conference experience. Please help us welcome Kim to The Romance Dish!


Thank you so much to PJ, Andrea, Gannon and Buffie. They're such wonderful women and advocates for romance authors. I just adore each of them. Thanks for inviting me to the dish, ladies! (We adore you too, Kim!)

Kim & Eloisa James
Today we're going to chat about going to big conferences. The biggest thing to remember about conference is that it's overwhelming, especially if it's your first con. When I went to the Dallas con, it was the first time I'd flown, the first time I'd stayed in a hotel by myself and the first time I'd met so many authors. I was like a kid in a candy store, my head couldn't whip around fast enough, trying to take in all the sites and not miss anyone I wanted to meet. It doesn't matter if it's your first or tenth con, you're not going to be able to see or do everything you want to do. It's just not humanly possible. Make a detailed schedule. (PJ popping in to say I made an Excel spreadsheet last year and it was my lifeline!) Most cons put up their event calendar ahead of time. Put the events you want to attend in your schedule and prioritize them. Is it a "MUST DO" or a "Want to"? If there are people you know you want to spend time with, email them ahead of time and set up a time.

Anna  Campbell
The Literacy Signing: Every conference has a large mass book signing. The literacy signing at RWA is INSANE. It's always packed to the rafters, hot, loud and lines everywhere. The best way to deal with this is to make a list. Again, most events will list the authors signing at their mass signing. Orlando Signing Author List Go through and make a list of all the authors you'd like to meet, get a picture taken with and buy a book from. Again, it's like being a kid in a candy store. You WILL be overwhelmed and distracted. Stick to the list and then you can browse around.

Let's talk about what to pack a little bit. Comfortable clothes and shoes! You're going to be in one hot, over crowded room after another. You need to be as comfortable as possible. You're also going to be walking everywhere. These hotels are HUGE and the conference will be spread out. Forget those cute shoes-wear what's comfortable. It's not the time to break in new shoes either.

Harlequin Party

Take at least two evening/cocktail outfits. You never know who'll be willing to sneak you into the Harlequin party or invite you out for drinks!

Ready for the RITA Awards!

This is going to sound silly, but pants with pockets. It makes it so easy if you can just stick your room key, debit card and cell phone in a pocket and go. Plus you're not lugging around a purse that feels like cement.

A large, sturdy tote bag for the book signings.

Minimal make up-you're going to sweat it all off anyway.

Santa, J Perry and Kim

Your camera! You definitely want memories!

Print out your room reservation confirmation email. Trust me on this one. If there is any confusion with your reservation you're going to need this. Keep it with your airline tickets and other important travel documents.

My biggest tool for conference is my large Vera Bradley purse. It has several pockets and holds so much it can be used as an overnight bag. I use mine as a traveling office. Things that I have to have at a con: 2 black pens, Sharpie marker, tape, hand sanitizer and wet wipes. Trust me on the sanitizer and wipes. You're going to want those. A mini can of Febreeze or Lysol comes in handy too ;)

One of my favorite things about con, other than seeing all my friends and favorite authors, is of course, THE BOOKS! You're going to want to take home loads of books. This has become somewhat of an issue the past couple of years because of those horrible airlines and their baggage charges. One way around this is to plan ahead! If your suitcase is large enough grab one or two (I recommend two!) large flat rate boxes from your local post office. While you're there buy $14.95 in stamps for each box. The box should fold in half to fit fairly easy in a suitcase. Put the stamps in your wallet. Once you've gotten all your books together you want to take home, use the flat rate boxes to mail yourself as many books as possible. Don't forget to bring a small roll of packing tape ($1 at the Dollar Tree!). After you've got the box all packed up and addressed to yourself, affix the postage, take the box down to the front desk and ask if they can mail the box for you. You can even call ahead, after you've made your reservation to ask if this is a service they offer. Most hotels will have a business center but the shipping can get pretty expensive that way.

Kristan Higgins

My biggest piece of advice is-RELAX and HAVE FUN! This is conference! Don't be shy! Be out there, introduce yourself to people. I met one of my dearest friends this way. At my first con, we were always in line together. Then, my last day, we were both at breakfast together. Instead of sitting alone, we sat together and chatted. Every year Kristan Higgins is still my breakfast buddy!

Are you attending RWA in Orlando in July? Do you regularly attend conferences? If so, what's your best piece of advice for attendees?

Make sure to check the comments! I'll be sharing lots more tips, answering all of the Dishes' questions and maybe sharing a story or two in the comments ;)

Also, one lucky commenter will win some stash from my office! (PJ popping in again to say that Kim has some really good stash in her office!)

Kim, thanks for all that terrific advice! I'll be checking back throughout the day for more tips and those stories you promised!


Kim Castillo really is the Author's Best Friend. A life-long bookworm, she started out with the Boxcar Children and Nancy Drew, and then turned her love of great fiction to the romance genre. Now alpha heroes and happily ever afters are a pre-requisite for her bookshelves. Kim was rescued from the drudgery of a 9-to-5 job when she discovered a passion and knack for marketing. Soon her marketing and organizational skills found a niche in the romance novel industry she loves so much. As a freelance personal assistant, Kim spends her days working with the crème de la crème of best-selling and award winning authors. The work she does for authors – everything from bookseller outreach to managing websites to handling fan interactions and contests – makes her authors’ lives easier, giving them more time to write and be with their families.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Beach Bag Reviews!

Sunscreen.  Check!  Swimsuit.  Check!  Beach towel.  Check!  Books.  Ooh...books!  

Yes, it's that time of year when, here in the Northern Hemisphere, the temperatures soar and we humans come out of our winter hibernation and head for the beach, the pool or maybe the back yard - wherever we can find a space to soak up some rays of sunshine.  Of course, no respectable sunbather would be caught without a good book to escape into as they soak their toes in the gently lapping surf, the cool neighborhood pool or a bucket of water on the back deck.  Hey, sometimes you have to take what you can get!  The Dishes got together recently to talk about some books we've read that we think would be perfect summer reading material.  Here's a brief Beach Bag Review of each of our picks.

Home Is Where The Bark Is
By Kandy Shepherd
Publisher:  Berkley Sensation
Release Date:  July 6, 2010

When undercover investigator, Nick Whalen walks into Serena Oakley's upscale doggy day care and spa carrying a tiny Yorki-poo, Serena's suspicion antennae start to quiver.  Not only does the tall, muscular man look ridiculous carrying the tiny dog but he doesn't seem to know anything about being a pampered pet owner.  Serena doesn't trust him, even though she's instantly attracted to him.  That's okay, because even though Nick thinks Serena is gorgeous and incredibly sexy, he also believes that she's the cold-hearted mastermind behind a series of identity thefts that have been traced back to her business.  But the more time Nick and Serena spend together, the more they fall for one another and, when Serena is threatened, it will take trust between them, plus some loyal canine friends, to bring the real culprit to justice.

Kandy Shepherd's Home Is Where The Bark Is is another fun, fast-paced story with a likeable hero and heroine, a mystery that kept me guessing for most of the book and a canine cast of secondary characters that will steal your heart (and almost steal the story!) - especially Mack, an abandoned dog with a deep devotion to Big Macs and a heart full of love to share with the lucky person who takes him home.  Pick up a copy of Home Is Where The Bark Is to take home with you!



Death Echo
By Elizabeth Lowell
Publisher:  William Morrow 
Release Date:  June 8, 2010

Emma Cross, former CIA agent and current employee of St. Kilda's security consulting firm has seven days to find a missing yacht and prevent the destruction of a major U.S. city. Mac Durand, former special ops sniper, was the only survivor of his team's last mission in Afghanistan and now steers clear of danger, preferring to spend his time sailing luxury yachts to their new owners, but his last job has put him smack-dab in the middle of an international power struggle with millions of innocent lives at risk. Recruited by St. Kilda's and paired with Emma, the two are thrust into a race against the clock, the CIA, the FBI and unknown Russian terrorists to find and neutralize the missing yacht and the devastating weapon she holds.

In this fifth St. Kilda thriller, Lowell takes us to the rugged northwest coast, from Seattle up into Canada, in a suspense story that will keep you on the edge of your seat and glued to the pages of the book. While suspense is the primary focus of the story, romance is also front and center with the deepening relationship between Emma and Mac and sexual tension that is explosive. With each of the seven days, as new players are introduced and power shifts among the adversaries, the stakes get higher, tension mounts and it becomes more and more apparent that, in order to save the targeted city, Emma and Mac may be required to make the ultimate sacrifice. Death Echo is a perfect book to take with you to the pool or beach but don't be surprised if you get so engrossed in the story that when you finally look up, the sun is setting and you're the only one still there!



The Devil She Knows
By Diane Whiteside
Publisher: Kensington/Brava
Release Date: June 1, 2010

Portia Townsend has had a crush on Gareth Lowell from the time they were adolescents. She dreams of a future together, but Gareth feels he’s not good enough for her. Portia eventually bows to her father’s wishes and marries a member of the British aristocracy, the earl of St. Arles. What should be a fairy tale marriage turns into a five-year long abuse-filled nightmare for Portia. She agrees to the divorce that St. Arles wants even though it means she admits to infidelity, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Just when Portia thinks she is free from St. Arles, he blackmails her into taking a trunk to Constantinople, which will aid him and a group of revolutionaries in overthrowing the sultan of the Ottoman Empire.

Gareth works overseas for Portia’s uncle, so he comes to her aid in Constantinople. She is more beautiful than ever, but Gareth still feels she is too good for him. Portia, on the other hand, can never imagine another man more perfect for her than Gareth. They must join together to stop her villainous ex-husband, and along the way they will discover that there is nothing worth fighting for more than love. From the deserts of Arizona to the exotic palaces of Constantinople, Diane Whiteside takes readers on an epic adventure. Perfect summer reading!



When Marrying a Scoundrel
By Kathryn Smith
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: May 25, 2010

Jack Friday and Sadie Moon met and fell in love at a very young age. Jack came from a prominent family and Sadie did not, so naturally his relatives didn’t approve of her. Jack defied his family and married Sadie anyway—and was promptly cut off, though he didn’t care. Despite their financial struggles, they were blissfully happy for two years. Then Jack left to make a better life for them and promised to return. After two long years of waiting, Sadie was resolved that Jack wasn’t coming back and left. When Jack did return, he found his wife gone. Both felt deserted by the other. Ten years later, they meet again when Sadie is attempting to open her own shop (she reads tea leaves) and the now wealthy Jack is one of her landlords. Can they learn to trust each other again and work together in harmony? Or will they allow past resentments to get in the way?

When Marrying a Scoundrel is a terrific reunion story and now one of my favorites by Smith. This story of love lost and found again is full of passion and drama, with the underlying theme of forgiveness set in Victorian England. After their initial and understandably heated first meetings, Jack (loved him!) and Sadie deal with their relationship with maturity and discover that each never really stopped loving the other. Both have secrets that could rock the boat all over again and even those are handled sensibly. The love scenes are steamy and the secondary characters are extremely likable. When Marrying a Scoundrel is another winner from Smith!



Seducing the Highlander
by Emma Wildes
Publisher: Signet
Release Date: May 4, 2010

What could possibly be better than one hunky highlander? Not much, right! But how about three hunky highlanders? Yes, you heard me. Three. Hunky. Highlanders. Do I really need to elaborate? LOL! Seducing the Highlander is a compilation of three interconnected novellas.

In "Seducing Ian," Ian McCray kidnaps the bride-to-be of the English man who has capture and imprisoned Ian’s uncle. With only retribution on his mind, Ian soon finds himself a prisoner to the ways of beautiful Lady Leanna Arlington.

In "Seducing Robbie," Robbie McCray is visited by the lovely Julia Cameron, daughter to Laird Cameron, in the middle of night. Shocked by Julia’s proposal of marriage in exchange for funds, a near penniless Robbie if forced to agree. Robbie soon learns loving Julia makes his life richer than any money could.

In "Seducing Adain," Adain Cameron stumbles upon a carriage robbery in the dead of night. Fighting off the robbers, Adain saves Lady Gillian Lorin only to learn she is pledged to marry the evil Earl of Kleiss. When Lady Gillian steals Adain’s heart, Adain swears the only hands to touch Lady Gillian will be his own.

Seducing the Highlander would be the perfect beach companion. Three quick stories chocked full of love, romance, and sexy highlanders!



Crush on You
by Christie Ridgway
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: June 1, 2010

After losing her fiancé to cancer just mere minutes before saying “I do”, Alessandra Baci has become known as the Nun of Napa. Even five years after Tommy’s death, everyone in the small town still sees her as Tommy’s girl. Determined to keep the family winery afloat with a new idea of weddings at the winery, Alessandra and her two sisters have attempted to restore and renovate portions of the winery. But when Penn Bennett, the handsome star to the hottest primetime home renovation show, appears in the valley and shows a marked interest in Alessandra, it stirs a myriad of emotions in Alessandra, including the thought that she doesn’t want to be Tommy’s girl any more. Before long Alessandra realizes Penn can fix quite a few things around the winery . . . including her heart!

Crush on You is the first in the new Three Kisses trilogy. I can’t wait to see what Christie has in store for Alessandra’s sisters, Stephania and Guiliana!



Tell us about the books that will be in your beach bag this summer!