Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Coming Attractions for December

It has been a great year here at the Romance Dish and we are closing out 2010 in a BIG way! We have some great guest authors visiting, a plethora of romance reviews, and several Christmas-themed blogs on tap for next month.

Our first guest of the month is historical author Kathryn Caskie who dishes with us on Thursday, December 2nd. Her new release, The Duke’s Night of Sin, is the latest in her Seven Deadly Sins series, out this month!

Grab a pen and paper as Andrea brings you a list of December books in her New Releases blog on Friday, December 3rd.

Fun, contemporary author Maria Geraci joins us on Tuesday, December 7th to talk about her latest book, The Boyfriend of the Month Club, which releases the same day!

On Wednesday, December 10th, historical author Kathryn Johnson, who penned The Gentleman Poet: A novel of love, danger, and Shakespeare’s The Tempest, will be visiting with us.

See what upcoming January books we’re looking forward to in our Make Your Reservations post on Thursday, December 9th.

Trish Milburn brings us the latest and greatest YA and Teen news in this month’s Teen Menu on Friday, December 10th. I have a sneaky feeling that she might spotlight a certain recently released movie.

Do stop by on Wednesday, December 15th as Buffie brings us her latest Hot Dish. Let’s see if she can top November’s Hot Dish!

On Saturday, December 18th, we bring you some books to curl up with this winter in our monthly Stock Up Saturday reviews.

J.L. Saint, author of the military romantic suspense thriller, Collateral Damage, the first in her Silent Warrior series from Samhain in December, dishes with us on Sunday, December 19th.

For those of you who refuse to wait until Christmas Eve (Friday, December 24th) to do your shopping, stop by for Anna Campbell’s Second Helping of a book you may have missed.

Kensington historical romance author and The Season owner, Beverley Kendall, swings by on Thursday, December 30th, to fill us in on her upcoming January 4th release, A Taste of Desire. Isn’t that a beautiful cover??

Monday, November 29, 2010

Holiday Treasures - Tried and True

As promised, I'm back today to talk about a few of my tried and true Christmas romances.  Some have been around for many years while others are recent additions but they are all treasured friends that I look forward to visiting every year.  I wish I could list all of my favorites but I fear that I'd max out our space limit long before reaching the end of my list!  Here's a small sampling of the many Christmas stories that have, and continue to, make me smile, make me laugh, make me cry and fill my heart with joy.

A Christmas To Remember
By Kay Stockham
Publisher:  Harlequin SuperRomance
Release Date:  November 6, 2007

Marley Pierce has spent the last five years putting her life back together after it was torn to pieces by Beau Buchanan, a cocky bad boy she met while visiting her grandmother.  In two short weeks, Beau seduced and abandoned the sheltered, naive Marley, leaving her to return home to her small town to face pregnancy, disgrace and tragic consequences for both her and her family.  She's older now, wiser, and has worked hard to build her landscape design business and rebuild her good reputation, yet her relationship with her parents, especially her mother, still suffers.  She's shocked and furious when Beau shows up in her small town to work at a housing development where she's doing the landscaping, especially when he doesn't even remember who she is.  She vows to have nothing to do with him but can't help but be drawn to him once again, especially when she learns where he's been and what happened to him.  And, the more she's around him, the more she likes him.  He seems so different than before: kinder, more thoughtful, more genuine.  But she's torn between wanting to spend time with him and needing to send him away because he tore her life apart once and she's terrified he'll do it again.

Regaining consciousness in a military hospital in Germany, Beau Buchanan has no memories of the bomb that injured him, no memories of the man sitting by his bedside waiting to take him home and no memories of Beau Buchanan.  His mind is a terrifyingly clean slate.  When he encounters Marley while working at a job site with his father, he's immediately drawn to her and shocked that she seems to hate him.  He still remembers nothing of his past and struggles to come to terms with the terrible things that she says he did to her while, at the same time, struggling to heal and to remember.  He wants a second chance with her, a chance to prove that he's a changed man and would never treat her badly.  But, as the two grow closer, Beau begins to have flashes of memories, memories that make no sense, until he begins to question if he's really a changed man...or a different man.

A Christmas To Remember was my introduction to the writing of Kay Stockham and vaulted her straight to my auto-buy list.  Her books are deeply emotional and thought provoking, frequently centered around complex family dynamics and always, always touch my heart.  Like a well choreographed dance, they never miss a beat.

This is the sequel to an earlier book of Stockham's but stands well on its own.  If you're like me though, you'll be intrigued by an important secondary character named Joe who keeps appearing in the memory flashes and will want to read his story in Man With a Past:Going Back, Harlequin SuperRomance #1347 (May 9, 2006).


"A Christmas Spirit"
By Cindy Miles
A Highlander Christmas (Anthology)
Publisher:  NAL Trade
Release Date:  November 3, 2009

Determined to not spend another Christmas alone, Paige MacDonald is on her way to Inverness, Scotland when her car breaks down in a snowstorm, depositing her on the doorstep of the seemingly deserted Gorloch B&B where she is greeted by a gorgeous, but decidedly inhospitable, Gabriel Munro. Gabriel reluctantly agrees to let her stay but refuses to help her with anything, making her get her own room key, carry her luggage and even fix her own meals. The reason for his rudeness becomes clear when Paige trips and falls...right through the man standing in front of her! Unless the storm clears, it appears that, this year, Paige will be spending Christmas with the ghostly spirit of a centuries-old Highland warrior. Miles has done a superb job of creating a life-like man with the limitations of a spirit in this finely crafted love story. The romantic scenes in particular were simmering with sensuality while, at the same time, very poignant. "A Christmas Spirit" is, by turns, a humorous, heartbreaking and heartwarming gift not to be missed.

This is the review of  "A Christmas Spirit" that I wrote last year when I fell in love with Ms. Miles' writing and characters, especially Gabriel.  I recently re-read Gabriel and Paige's story and was just as enchanted the second time around.  Click here if you'd like to read my reviews of the other two stories in the anthology.


"The Unexpected Guest"
By Deborah Simmons
The Brides of Christmas (Anthology)
Publisher:  Harlequin
Release Date:  November 1, 2005

The widowed father of seven grown sons, Fawke de Burgh, Earl of Campion, is still a young, strong and virile man.  With his sons beginning to marry and leave his home, he's also becoming a lonely man but, even so, a woman to share his life is the furthest thing from his mind.  Campion has already buried two wives that he loved and isn't looking for a third.  But sometimes fate knows what we need, even if we don't.

Caught in a terrible snowstorm on Christmas Eve, Joy Thorncombe, Lady Warwick and her small party of servants and guards take refuge at Campion's home.  A widow who was forced, at age sixteen, to marry a thirteen-year-old boy who died a year later, Joy is a self-sufficient, intelligent woman who has worked hard over the years to manage her home, care for it's people and avoid re-marriage.  Left untouched by her child groom, she's never understood sexual desire and has never wanted another man in her life...until she meets Campion.  Suddenly, she's filled with the urge to explore kisses, caresses and more but only on her terms:  a mutually satisfying romp in the Earl's bed before she continues on her way.  While her mind has the plan clearly formulated though, her heart has other ideas...as does the Earl. 

The de Burgh's are one of my favorite medieval romance families.  The sons' books all have places on my keeper shelf and I was delighted when I first learned of their father's story in this Christmas anthology.  You don't have to have read the other books to obtain the full enjoyment of "The Unexpected Guest" though it may have you searching them out once you finish Campion and Joy's story. 


"The Wise Virgin"
By Jo Beverley
The Brides of Christmas
Publisher: Harlequin
Release Date: November 1, 2005

"They've stolen the Blessed Virgin Mary!"

When Joan of Hawes agrees to switch places with her cousin, Nicolette de Montelan and assume the role of the Virgin Mary in the Christmastide play, the last thing she expects is to be kidnapped by a de Graves, especially not Edmund de Graves, the famous Golden Lion! But, if Joan is surprised, that's nothing compared to Edmund's shock when he discovers he's risked his life to steal away not his brother's lover but her spirited, opinionated, too-smart-for-her-own-good, though innocent, cousin.

The de Graves and de Montelan families have been feuding for generations and all over a piece of cloth that was carried into Jerusalem during the Crusades. When Nicolette de Montelan falls in love with Gerald de Graves and becomes pregnant, the pair hope to bring an end to the feud by marrying but, instead, Joan is "rescued" instead of Nicolette, Gerald is captured by Nicolette's father and thrown into the dungeon and Edmund and Joan find themselves fighting an attraction that quickly deepens into emotions that will be impossible for them to act upon...unless they can find some way to end the feud and bring peace between the families.

This is a wonderful, fast-paced novella with engaging characters, emotional twists and delightful banter, all skillfully woven together by Beverley. I've been reading it every year since 2005 and still enjoy it today as much as I did the first time.

Those are a few of my tried and true favorites from years past.  What Christmas romances do you bring out year after year to help you get into the holiday spirit?  

Don't forget to check out my reviews of some terrific new Christmas romances in yesterday's blog


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Kate Carlisle Winner

Thanks to everyone who stopped by on November 12th to help Kate Carlisle celebrate the release of her newest NYT Bestseller, THE LIES THAT BIND.  Random.org has chosen the lucky winner of Kate's new book and that person is...

Lindsay Kiernan

Congratulations, Lindsay!  Please send your full name and address, with "Kate Carlisle Winner" in the subject line, to theromancedishATgmailDOTcom.

Holiday Treasures

It’s that time of year again. Carols are sung, lights are strung and a colorful new assortment of holiday romances hits the shelves. It’s my happy time, my heart filling with joy and anticipation as I turn the first page and begin a heartfelt journey with new friends. Yet, as much as I enjoy the new journeys, I also look forward to quiet moments in front of the tree; with a cozy blanket, some hot chocolate and a few favorites from years gone by – stories that return each year to wrap themselves around me like a warm hug from a treasured friend. Here are a few of this year's offerings.  Tomorrow, I'll tell you about three of my favorites from years gone by. 


"A Babe in Toyland"
By Tawny Weber
It Must Have Been the Mistletoe... (Anthology)
Publisher:  Harlequin Blaze
Release Date: December 1, 2010

Of all the bars in the city, bad boy Tyler Ramsey, her secret high school crush, had to walk into hers.  For the first time in six years, Rita Mae Cole is going home for Christmas and this time she's determined to not be the black-sheep disappointment of the Cole family.  She's found the perfect gift for her parents and only has to fend off drunks for two more days to earn enough money to make the final payment.  Then Tyler shows up, one impulsive kiss turns into a barroom brawl and Rita finds herself with no job, no money and no ride home.

Rita Mae Cole has fueled Tyler Ramsey's fantasies for the past ten years and he's had enough.  He had a secret crush on Rita in high school but she was way too young for him so he asked her oldest sister out instead but that didn't turn out so well.  In fact, it was a disaster of epic proportions that left him mistrustful of any and all Cole females.  So when he encounters Rita several years later, wearing a skimpy outfit, exuding sex appeal and about to embark on a fourteen hour ride home with his naive friend, Tyler figures she's taking advantage of the poor guy and decides to teach her a lesson...but it looks like Tyler's the one who's going to be going to school.  His friend bails and now Tyler has to give Rita a ride home for the holidays - fourteen long hours in the close confines of his truck with a simmering attraction between them threatening to burst into flames with a single touch.  Will they give in to the scorching heat of their passion?  And more importantly, will they finally take the time to look beneath the surface of the package each presents to the world to the real person under the wrapping? 

Tawny Weber once again gifts us with a sexy, sizzling romance filled with heat, humor and heart.   I thoroughly enjoyed "A Babe in Toyland!"

Rita isn't the only Cole sister to get her happy-ever-after for Christmas.  Don't miss Alison and Layla Cole's journeys to love in the other two stories in It Must Have Been the Mistletoe:  "When She Was Naughty" by Kate Hoffman and "Cole for Christmas" by Rhonda Nelson.


"Not Quite a Courtesan"
By Maggie Robinson
Lords of Passion (Anthology)
Publisher: Kensington Brava
Release Date: November 30, 2010

World traveler and treasure hunter, Darius Shaw returns home to England with one last collection of sensual artifacts that, hopefully, will garner enough money to forever close the doors of Shaw Antiquities, the company he inherited from his father, allowing Darius to leave the family business behind and settle down in the country, as his heart desires.  But, upon his arrival, he's met with the news that his scapegrace younger brother, Cyrus has eloped with an eighteen-year-old heiress, his uncle Algernon has died, leaving the two brothers his love nest on Courtesan Court, complete with aging mistress, and neither his new sister-in-law nor her guardian "dragon" of a cousin are thrilled with the news.  Long used to rescuing his brother from his many escapades, Darius heads to Courtesan Court to pay off his uncle's mistress and save his brother's new marriage.

Prudence Thorne has been responsible for her younger cousin since she was born and she's not about to turn her back on that responsibility just because some handsome man managed to sweet-talk Sophy into marriage while Pru was tending her dying mother.  Pru knows all about men who stray.  After all, her late husband was killed trying to escape his lover's bed just weeks after marrying Pru.  After paying off the woman she thinks is her new brother-in-law's mistress, Pru waits at the Courtesan Court home for Cyrus, to give him a piece of her mind and send him back to his young wife.  But the man who arrives is not young Cyrus and this man is more handsome, more appealing and more dangerous to Pru's well-ordered life than she could ever have imagined. 

Like the unique artifacts for which Darius searches the world, Robinson's "Not Quite a Courtesan" is a  treasure.  Well written, this story flows smoothly, with humor and a satisfying depth of emotion.  Intelligent, practical, take-charge Pru is the perfect foil for Darius's sensual, teasing nature and the banter between them is an absolute delight.  From beginning to end, their journey is romantic, sensual, and thoroughly enjoyable.  I admit, I hated to say goodbye.

Lords of Passion also includes two other historical novellas:  "Beauty and the Brute" by Virginia Henley and "How to Seduce a Wife" by Kate Pearce.  


Holiday Affair
By Lisa Plumley
Publisher: Zebra
Release Date: October 1, 2010

Life has not treated Karina Barrett well lately.  Her (now ex) husband dumped her for a college-age beach bunny, her children are unhappy and confused and, with Christmas looming around the corner, things aren't looking very merry for the California mom.  All she wants is the chance to give her kids a "nice, old-fashioned Christmas - one that was free of turmoil and blissfully free of unreliable men."  So when her sister asks Karina to take her place as an undercover guest to evaluate a B&B in Michigan that specializes in Christmas getaways, Karina jumps at the opportunity to give her kids a magical holiday...never expecting to find a little magic of her own.

Adventure guide, Reid Sullivan and his two daughters lead a carefree life traveling around the world, exploring new countries and continents with each new job he accepts.  But that life comes to a screeching halt with a distress call from Reid's grandparents in Michigan.  Racing home expecting to find them at death's door, he's shocked to discover his hale and hearty grandparents, bags packed and ready to leave for retirement fun in sunny Arizona, with just one request.  They're selling the B&B that they've owned forever but are afraid they'll get sentimental and back out of the sale (they do this every year) so this time they're leaving their scrooge grandson in charge.  They know he won't get sucked into the seasonal sentimentality of the sing-a-longs around the tree or the sleigh rides through the snow.  He's the perfect person to make sure the sale goes through...except things don't go exactly according to plan...and a certain sexy mom bubbling over with holiday spirit just may have Reid second-guessing his life plan!

I fell in love with this charming, delightful story.  From the setting in my home state of Michigan (which really is a magical winter wonderland) to Reid, a sexy hero and loving dad, to Karina, a woman I'd enjoy having as a friend, to the mischievous kids and all the secondary characters, Holiday Affair is a book that made me smile and reminded me of the simple joys and heartfelt magic of Christmas.

What new Christmas romances have you discovered this year?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

The ladies of The Romance Dish are spending today with family and friends (and some really good food!) and want to wish everyone a safe and Happy Thanksgiving Day!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Liz is the Biz!

by Anna Campbell

First of all, do Americans use that phrase that something is 'the business'? Meaning it's the bee's knees, the cat's miaow, the cream in my cawfee, the salt in my stew? Anyway, just in case you're wondering, it's an expression of the highest approval!

Liz Fielding is one of the best writers in romance today. Two RITA Awards don't lie!

Liz is a British writer who, as far as I know, has written exclusively for Harlequin Mills and Boon's Sweet/Romance line. But if you're not familiar with her books, don't be fooled that there's anything sugary about these stories, nor that they're anything less than passionate. I find the sexual tension in a Liz Fielding keeps me turning the pages with the best.

I first discovered Liz's work in 2004 when I went to the Romance Novelists Association conference in Leicester (it's the British equivalent of RWA Nationals - lots more tea involved!). A couple of people recommended her books and when I came home after my lovely four months of wandering around the U.K., I took their advice.


Liz has since become one of my favorite writers. There's a stack of stuff I love about her books. They're absolutely perfectly pitched when it comes to the emotion (and there's LOTS of emotion in a Liz Fielding, I regularly shed several tears, sometimes more, she just gets it so right!). They're intelligent and they feature intelligent, realistic characters. You absolutely fall in love with the people in a Liz Fielding. They're flawed and they're real and usually they really have to struggle to get their happy ending - by which stage, you've stopped crying (well, mostly) and you're cheering.

I find myself in awe of what Liz can pack into a measly 180 pages. She gives you a whole world of love and desire and romance and closes with a sigh-worthy finish.

My most recent Liz Fielding read is probably my favorite. It's called A WEDDING AT LEOPARD TREE LODGE. On the surface, it's a terrifically simple story. Wedding planner Josie Fowler hides her vulnerability and the scars of her difficult past under a cocky attitude and thick punk makeup. When she finds herself responsible for the society wedding of the year at the luxurious Leopard Tree Lodge in Botswana, she expects problems. What she doesn't expect is that she'll fall in love with the owner of the resort, Gideon McGrath. Gideon has tragedy of his own to overcome and it's heart-wrenching to watch these two wounded souls edge towards trust and love. It's a bit like trying to coax a leopard to eat from your hand, if you'll pardon the obvious simile!

There's a couple of scenes in this that are just so perfectly written and so deeply true to the emotions, I dare you not to get misty eyed. And the ending just takes my breath away, it's so beautiful.

As you can gather, this month's second helping is highly recommended! I haven't read a book of Liz's that I haven't liked, but this is one of the best romances I've ever read. Just gorgeous.

So do you like a book that brings a tear to the eye (even if the characters get their happy ending!)? What was the last book you read that made you cry?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Review -- Vow of Deception

Vow of Deception
by Angela Johnson
Publisher: Zebra
Release Date: November 1, 2010

After the death of her demented and abusive husband, Rose Harcourt, Lady Ayleston, vows never to allow another man control over her life. Determined to provide her young son with a loving environment sans an overbearing man, Rose decides to take a vow of chastity. Her plans are quickly ruined when Sir Rand Montague, a knight for King Edward, arrives at Ayleston Castle with orders from the King for Rose to appear at Westminster Palace posthaste. Nervous about the King’s plans, Rose’s mind and heart quickly turns to the man sent to escort her. Rand is not some random knight sent on the King’s errand. Oh no! Rand is the man she turned to for a night of passion . . . while she was still married to her barbarian husband.

The images of the deaths of his mother and sister still haunt Sir Rand Montague. Vowing never to love another person and lose them in tragedy, Rand is surprised when King Edward informs Rand he must escort Lady Ayleston to court. Warm memories of a loving night have Rand eager to see Rose again, until he learns of the King’s plans to marry Rose to Sir Golan de Coucy, a man Rand does not trust for good reason.

Once Rose discovers the King’s plans for her future, she is beside herself with worry and anxiety. Those emotions are only magnified when Rose is attacked by her betrothed, Sir Golan. Ever the heroic knight, Rand arrives “just in time” and saves Rose from the vile attentions of Sir Golan. Determined to give Rose and her son a safe environment, Rand proposes marriage, which Rose agrees to with the stipulation their marriage will be in name only. The King orders a jousting match between Sir Rand and Sir Golan with the winner taking Rose in marriage. Rand is victorious in the match, and he and Rose are married quickly. But that is not where the story ends. No, it is just the beginning of this wild ride. With more than a few twists and turns, Rand and Rose have quite a bumpy ride to happily ever after.

Vow of Deception is Angela Johnson’s second book and one to be proud of. Not only is the emotional tie between Rand and Rose strong, but the sexual tension between the two is thicker than London fog. Rand is a man afraid to love for the fear of eventual loss. Rose is a woman who has been beaten and battered (physically and mentally) and wonders if there are any good men in the world. As these two slowly break down their own walls of grief and mistrust, the rays of love, trust and hope begin to shine in their hearts. It is a beautiful journey to witness!

As a side note, I must say that I fell in love with Rose’s son Jason from the very first scene. Maybe it is because of my own two little ones, but this little boy stole my heart. My maternal, protective instincts immediately went on alert anytime this little boy appeared in a scene.

If you adore medievals as much as I do and enjoy a story full of betrayal, suspense, shock, love and passion, then I would highly recommend you purchase Vow of Deception.

~ Buffie

Monday, November 22, 2010

Review - The Duke's Night of Sin

The Duke's Night of Sin
Seven Deadly Sins, Book 3
By Kathryn Caskie
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: November 30, 2010

The "Seven Deadly Sins" lived for scandal and delighted in disgrace, but now they must repent—in marriage!

Lady Siusan Sinclair and her brothers and sisters are known as the Seven Deadly Sins, creating gossip wherever they go. Siusan embodies the sin of sloth, relishing the fact that, as the daughter of a duke, she doesn't have to work for her money. But ever since her father issued an ultimatum to all of the Sinclair siblings to make something of themselves or be completely cut off, Siusan's life hasn't been as carefree. On the first anniversary of her fiance's death, Siusan is attending a ball to introduce the Duke of Exeter. Still grieving, she wants nothing more than to escape the crush of society and allow her tears to flow in private. Siusan manages to sneak away from the noise and heat of the crowd, closing herself in the dark and blessedly quiet library. But her solitude is soon interrupted when a stranger enters.

Sebastian Beaufort, the Duke of Exeter, never wanted to be duke, but his brother's untimely death thrust him into a position of responsibility and notoriety he could barely tolerate. He knew it was up to him to redeem his family's tarnished name, but tonight he sought to numb himself with brandy....and time with a highpriced whore. Sebastian opens the door of the library and in the shaft of moonlight sees the woman he thinks he has paid for. Sebastian has what he considers the most passionate encounter of his life with a woman whose face he cannot see, but whose body he cannot forget.

Siusan sought solace in the arms of this stranger, figuring that this one night of sin won't hurt anyone, because she will never tell. Her plan goes awry, however, when she discovers that her mystery lover is none other than the Duke of Exeter! Siusan flees the library before he can see her face clearly, and she and her siblings quickly exit the ball. Knowing her father will disown her if he ever discovers this scandal, Siusan leaves London for Bath, becoming a teacher---known as Miss Bonnet--- at Mrs. Huddleston's School of Virtues. Never having worked a day in her life, Siusan doesn't know the first thing about being a teacher, but she does know how to act like a proper lady. So she decides to instruct her charges in how to be a proper lady. She finds it hard to maintain her proper demeanor when the handsome guardian of one of her students begins spending an inordinate amount of time at school. When Siusan discovers he is the Duke of Exeter, she wonders how long she can keep her identity a secret.

Siusan and Sebastian have a long road on the way to their happily-ever-after, and it is filled with countless twists and turns and even a few potholes. But it makes their happy ending that much more satisfying and well-deserved at the end. Sebastian is a reluctant duke, believing his family is full of flaws and at times, maybe even cursed. Siusan has lost much in her life: her mother, her fiance, and the respect and approval of her father. Is it any wonder she feels unworthy of love?

She had tasted true love, and yet because of her past, because of her sinful ways, she could never live the life her heart begged of her.

She had ruined everything. She wrapped her arms around herself and began to rock.

She was too flawed, not worthy of being loved by anyone. She had proved this again and again to herself and to all of Society. And soon, Sebastian would realize it, too.

Siusan finds love with Sebastian, but she also finds purpose and fulfillment as a teacher, and I found that so satisfying. Who doesn't want to find love with the man of their dreams and also find their purpose in life? The Duke's Night of Sin is another winner in Ms. Caskie's Seven Deadly Sins series. The Sinclairs are entertaining in the extreme, and there is never a dull moment when they're around! This is the third book, but if you have never read the first two, you will not be lost if you start with this one. Once you meet the Sinclair siblings, though, I'm sure you'll want to start from the beginning. There are plenty of "sins" to go around. Enjoy!

~ Gannon

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Review -- A Duke's Temptation

A Duke's Temptation
Bridal Pleasures -- Book 1
By Jillian Hunter
Publisher: Signet Select
Release Date: November 2, 2010

Miss Lily Boscastle is soon to be married to her long-time friend, Captain Jonathan Grace. While Lily holds great affection for Jonathan, she does not feel an all-consuming love for him. She, Jonathan, and her cousin, Chloe, a viscountess, attend a literary masquerade where the gardens have been made to look like scenes from famous fictional works, such as Romeo and Juliet, Gulliver’s Travels, and the latest craze, The Wickbury Tales by Lord Anonymous. Lily is anxious to view The Wickbury Tales scene as she’s become engrossed with the gothic novels featuring the noble Lord Wickbury, the wicked Sir Renwick Hexworthy, and the fair Juliette who comes between them. When Jonathan goes off to play cards, Lily subtly flirts with a man disguised as Don Quixote. She is introduced to him a little while later and learns he is the unconventional Duke of Gravenhurst.

Samuel St. Aldwyn, Duke of Gravenhurst, is at the masquerade because it is hosted by his partner/publisher. Plus, he knows that his presence will guarantee that everyone is entertained since he is known by his peers as a radical and supporter of unpopular causes and does nothing to hide it. He is instantly intrigued by the lovely Lily . . . especially after they share a deep discussion about The Wickbury Tales and share a breathtaking kiss. Samuel is pleased because he is the mysterious Lord Anonymous, though very few people know it. Samuel is so taken with Lily that he has a marriage contract drawn up as soon as he returns home from the masquerade. Unfortunately, he finds out the next morning that Lily’s betrothal was announced after he had left.

Two weeks before the wedding, Lily, Jonathan and a couple of friends attend a play and on the way home Lily witnesses Jonathan and his friend murder a man. When she confronts them, they deny it, and because there is no body or any evidence no one believes her. Everyone, including her family, thinks she has gone mad, thus causing a scandal. Jonathan still wants to wed her, but Lily refuses to marry a murderer, so she seeks employment as a housekeeper away from London. She secures a position and is surprised to learn that she will be working for Gravenhurst. But while there, she discovers that there is so much more to him that what society believes—and that he holds many secrets.

This is my first Jillian Hunter book and I thoroughly enjoyed it! Samuel was such a breath of fresh air. Yes, he is eccentric, but he is so much more than the clich├ęd “eccentric hero”. He generates false scandals about himself in order to further his secret career and to divert attention from his private life. Lily isn’t the type of woman that usually attracts Samuel and he’s smart enough to know that that was his problem—he’d been associating with the wrong kind of women. When she comes to his home, he immediately notices that she is not the same vibrant young woman he met at the masquerade. She’s been hurt and all he wants to do is return the light to her eyes and take care of her. I just love a protective hero! Lily is a straightforward, resilient heroine who takes a stand for what is right. She is accepting of and even embraces Samuel and his many quirks—and there are many. Samuel’s servants are wonderful secondary characters who are just as protective of him as he is of them. All of this combined with brilliant writing make A Duke’s Temptation a terrific historical romance that I highly recommend!


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Kylie Brant Winner

Thanks to everyone who came by to visit with Kylie Brant earlier this week.  Random.org has made its selection and the winner of Kylie's book is:


Congratulations, Lisa!  Please send your full name and mailing address to us at theromancedishATgmailDOTcom to claim your prize.  Remember to put "Kylie Brant Winner" in the subject line. 

Dee Tenorio Winner

Thanks to everyone who stopped by to visit with Dee.  The randomly chosen winner from Dee's blog is

Hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna

Congratulations, Dianna!  Please send your full name and address to us at theromancedishATgmailDOTcom
with "Dee Tenorio Winner" in the subject line to claim your prize.

Stock-Up Saturday Reviews

The First Love Cookie Club
By Lori Wilde
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: October 26, 2010

“On Christmas Eve, if you sleep with kismet cookies under your pillow and dream of your one true love, he will be your destiny.”

That’s the legend in Twilight, Texas, and it’s one that fifteen-year-old Sarah Collier believes with all her heart. She knows that handsome Travis Walker is her destiny, so when she discovers he’s getting married on Christmas Day, she runs to the church---wearing reindeer antlers and jingle bell sweater---and interrupts the wedding, telling Travis he’s her destiny. Humiliated and heart-broken, Sarah vows to never believe in legends and true love again. Nine years later, Sarah is slim, best selling children’s author Sadie Cool, but inside she’s still that chubby, insecure teenager.

When Sarah receives a letter from a very sick little girl named Jazzy---and one of her biggest fans---asking to meet her, she is deeply touched. But then she finds out that Jazzy lives in Twilight, and the mayor wants Sarah to be a part of their annual Christmas festival. Sarah hasn’t been back to Twilight since her humiliating incident at Travis’ wedding, and the thought of going back makes her break out in a cold sweat. But she reminds herself, this is about granting a little girl’s wish, so she bites the bullet and goes to Twilight, hoping everyone will have forgotten all about what she did. When Sarah discovers that Travis is Jazzy’s father, she is stunned. Travis is still as gorgeous as ever and apparently a single father. He cannot believe “Sadie Cool” is Sarah Collier all grown up----maybe a little time with her under the mistletoe is in order. Travis doesn’t believe in happily-ever-after anymore than Sarah does, but with a little help from the ladies of The First Love Cookie Club, they may discover the power of true love.

I’m a fan of Christmas stories, and I have a shelf full of keepers that I like to re-read. The First Love Cookie Club will now have a space on that shelf. It’s a delightful read that reaffirms the beauty of true love and the wonder of the Christmas season. Take a trip to Twilight, Texas for a small town holiday celebration and prepare to be charmed.

Thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins/Avon for providing an advanced copy of The First Love Cookie Club for review.

~ Gannon


Mad About the Duke
(The Bachelor Chronicles)
By Elizabeth Boyle
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: September 28, 2010

Widowed Elinor, Lady Standon, needs to find a husband, and not just any husband will do. She needs a distinguished and powerful one that can protect her and her younger sister, Tia, from their vile stepfather, Lord Lewis. Years before, he married Elinor off for profit and now he’s threatening to do the same with Tia since she’s soon to be of age. She and Tia currently live in the home that the Duchess of Hollindrake “banished” Elinor and the other Standon dowagers to after their years of constant bickering over settlements, houses, and such. Elinor spies a man (a very handsome man) standing just inside the front door and she automatically assumes he is the solicitor that was summoned by one of the other Standon widows. She decides to hire Mr. St. Maur to help her to find a husband—a duke, preferably. He accepts, but little does she know that the man is actually the Duke of Parkerton.

James Tremont, 9th Duke of Parkerton, is used to and appreciates his upstanding, well-ordered life. In fact, he is often referred to as dull and staid, and as his bother, Jack, puts it: He is more predictable than a mail coach. So it goes against James’s very nature when he doesn’t correct Lady Standon’s error and then agrees to help in her search for a husband. There is something about the beautiful woman that fascinates him. Intrigues him. Thus, he goes along with the charade. When she presents him with a list of eligible dukes, he is shocked that his own name is not on the list! Naturally, that only fuels James to get his name on the list . . . or win the lady’s heart as a mere mister.

Mad About the Duke starts minutes after the previous book, How I Met My Countess, ends and is the story of James, the older brother of Mad Jack Tremont from This Rake of Mine. James and Elinor are a delightful couple and I enjoyed watching her bring him out of his shell. We get to catch up with Jack and Miranda and James’s meddling servants round out the story perfectly. Mad About the Duke contains Ms. Boyle’s trademark wit and humor and is an utterly delightful addition to the series!



Montana Glory
The McCords – Book 3
By R.C. Ryan
Publisher: Forever (Grand Central)
Release Date: October 26, 2010

They’re the McCords...three rugged, sexy cowboy cousins who’ll inherit the family ranch—if they seek the treasure hidden on it. But even more precious are the women who can tame their wild hearts...

Zane McCord, the youngest of the McCord cousins, came back home to the family ranch after his grandfather, Coot, passed away. Of course, if it had been up to him, he never would have left in the first place. When he was twelve, he and his parents moved away from the ranch because his mother hated living in such isolated surroundings. So, they relocated to the bright lights of Hollywood . . . where his parents eventually divorced. Combining his experience in the film industry and his love of horses, Zane is able to live out his dream of trailing a herd of wild mustangs to film a documentary soon after coming home. When Zane meets the ranch’s new accountant, Riley, he sees a woman much like his wild mustangs: skittish, timid, and infinitely beautiful. He longs to tame her, but faces an uphill battle in earning her trust.

Riley Mason arrives at the ranch looking for a fresh start for her and her daughter, Summer. She holds a dangerous secret and the McCord spread is the perfect place for them to stay safe and out of sight. But the more Riley gets to know the family and Zane in particular, the harder it becomes to keep her walls up. And when it becomes evident that her past is finally catching up to her and could potentially harm the McCord family in the process, she is forced to place her complete trust in the man who has slowly stolen her heart.

Montana Glory is the final book in the McCord family trilogy and my personal favorite of the three. I simply adored Zane and Riley. Zane is considered a bit of a playboy, but don’t let that fool you because he has the heart of a gentleman. I love how protective he is of Riley and Summer. Riley is a strong woman who just wants the best for her daughter and as a mother, I admired her for that. The secondary characters (especially Summer) add flavor to the story as they are a huge part of it. Readers of the series get to revisit Zane’s cousins and their wives (the previous two couples), find out what happens between Aunt Cora and Cal, and finally discover if there really is a lost treasure. Montana Glory is a great contemporary that I recommend!


Friday, November 19, 2010


Thanks to everyone who joined us during Lila DiPasqua's visit.

Random.org has chosen the winner. And she is . . . .


Congratulations Helen! You have one your choice of Lila's books

Awakened by a Kiss or The Princess in His Bed.

Please email your choice along with her snail mail address to

theromancedishATgmailDOTcom with "Lila DiPasqua Winner".


And thanks to all who stopped by and commented on Angela Johnson's blog.

Random.org has chosen the winners. And they are . . .



Please email your snail mail address to theromancedishATgmailDOTcome

with "Angela Johnson Winner" in the subject line.

You have each one an authographed copy of Angela's Vow of Deception.

~ Buffie

Guest Review - - Living Nightmare

Living Nightmare
The Sentinel Wars Book #4
By Shannon K. Butcher
Publisher:  Signet
Release date: November 2, 2010

Time is running out.

If I had to pick a theme for Living Nightmare, Shannon K. Butcher’s fourth installment of The Sentinel Wars series, that would be it. Coincidentally enough, one of my favorite songs, “Time is Running Out” by Muse, played with uncommon frequency on my playlist shuffle while I was devouring this book, and I have to say that the song fit the book perfectly. Maybe it wasn’t such a coincidence after all.

The tension between Nika and Madoc has been brewing since the Finding the Lost, the second book of the series. Living Nightmare is best summed up as darkly intense. Both characters have already been introduced to the readers, and the basis of their relationship and the plot points have already, to an extent, been established. This really offers the opportunity to delve headfirst into action. Consequently, it’s not a book that you could read without reading the first three. There are multiple subplots with other characters that would leave you totally lost without the knowledge of earlier books.

When Nika was only a child, an attack by the Synestryn left her broken. Her mind shattered and inextricably linked to the Synestryn that consumed her blood. Every day is a struggle to remain in control, but with every day she gains strength. Strength she needs to find her sister, Tori, who was taken during the attack. Unfortunately for Nika, everyone believes Tori to be long dead and considers Nika crazy for insisting she’s alive. But even with her mind broken, Nika still has a psychic link to her sister. One that fades with each passing day. Time is running out to save Tori, and Nika will stop at nothing to find her.

Madoc is nearly lost. Lost to the same fate of many of the Sentinel warriors. His soul is hanging by a thread, the last leaf of his lifemark ready to fall and leave him a cruel shell of a man. He has no choice but to leave Dabyr, the Sentinel stronghold. If he stays, he risks being discovered and sentenced to death. Rightly so, as once his soul dies, he will be a danger to everyone. Especially Nika. It is safer for everyone, including himself, to stay as far away from them as possible.

Nika is the one woman he thought could save him. Madoc is the only male who can touch her without leaving excruciatingly painful marks on her body. Because of this, he briefly allowed himself the luxury of hope, but no matter how many times he touched her, his luceria remained void of any sign that they were a match. Only a compatible woman can tap into the power building within him. Power that's quickly dragging him into depths of madness.

Now there was no more hope, and even if he couldn’t be her mate, he would save her mind. While he still had some measure of honor and sanity left, he’d buy enough time to take out all the Synestryn that consumed Nika’s blood and finally release her from the years of pain and suffering she endured. After her safety is assured, he would go out in flames of glory and take the biggest nest of snarlies he could find out with him.

Of course, all his plans are tossed out the window when Nika escapes Dabyr in an attempt to prove Tori is still alive. With her life in immediate danger, Maddoc finds himself unable to stay away. Despite his constant death wish and whatever remains of his good sense, he can’t allow her to endanger herself.

Despite it all, Madoc and Nika need each other, not only to defeat their personal demons, but to save the lives of everyone they love from the increasing Synestryn threat. The question is, can Nika prove to Madoc that she’s not the fragile child he remembers and can Madoc face the true reality in front of him before time runs out?


Thursday, November 18, 2010

New Releases Winner!

The random winner of a book I picked up from RWA is:


Congratulations, Monica! Please send your full name and address to theromancedishATgmailDOTcom with "New Releases Winner" as the subject and I'll get your book in the mail!

And as always, thank to everyone who stopped by to comment!

Review - - The Taming of the Wolf

The Taming of the Wolf
By Lydia Dare
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Release Date: November 1, 2010

I’ve never read Lydia Dare’s books and wasn’t sure what to expect when I started The Taming of the Wolf. I’ve since learned that the first thing I should expect is no sleep! I started this book last night and, if I’d been able to keep my eyes open, probably would have finished it somewhere around 3am. I tried. I really did. I did not want to stop reading! Instead, I finished the book this morning, immediately ordered the three previous books in the series and marked my calendar for the next trilogy, which will be published in 2011.

Dashiel Thorpe, Earl of Brimsworth has been told since birth that he’s a monster, an aberration. The truth is he’s Lycan, a man who turns into a werewolf on the night of the full moon – a fact that terrifies him. He’s never known that there are others like him, never had someone to guide him, teach him how to accept the wolf within. But there are others like him and that’s how Dash ends up at the home of the Duke of Blackmoore on the night of the full moon…the same night he encounters a feisty lass from Scotland, Caitrin Macleod…the same night he can’t resist a passionate kiss…and a bite on her neck (he’s never done that before!)…a bite that, unknowingly, claims her as his mate.

It’s true that Cait Macleod has no great fondness for Lycans, even if her best friend and fellow (good) witch is married to one. Not only does she not want any part of the Lycan who is intent on pursuing her but her reaction to the handsome Sassenach frightens her. He makes her feel things. He also is the first person she’s never been able to “see.” As a seer, Cait is bombarded by peoples’ thoughts and is able to foretell their futures, which is why she avoids crowds and prefers the quiet of her Scotland home. She’s confused by the fact that she can’t “see” Dash. Not only that, but when he’s close, there’s silence. For some reason, he blocks the sounds of others from her mind. Does that mean she should run from him? Or is he the one person the universe has chosen to be by her side for a lifetime?

I enjoyed Cait and Dash so much. Their banter was a delight! They really challenge each other and bring out the best in each other. Dash broke my heart. A villain in previous books of the series, we learn the reasons for his bad behavior in this book and witness his very satisfying redemption, brought about by his love for Cait and her love for him. The reconciliation that she engineers toward the end of the story had me reaching for the tissues.

I highly recommend The Taming of the Wolf and can’t wait to read the rest of the books in this series.