Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Today's Special - - Manda Collins

We love hosting debut authors and when that author is someone whose writing journey we have followed for years that makes the visit all the more special.  It's our great pleasure to welcome St. Martin's Press historical romance author, Manda Collins to The Romance Dish. We're excited to help her celebrate today's publication of HOW TO DANCE WITH A DUKE (read PJ's review here), the first of what we're sure will be many successful book release days.  Welcome, Manda!  

On Objects and Affection 
by Manda Collins

One of those questions that comes up again and again in author interviews is the old favorite “Where do you get your ideas?” In some cases, for me, the answer is: “I just kind of thought really hard and came up with it.” Or other times the answer is: “I was reading an article in The New Yorker Entertainment Weekly and I wondered how that would work in the Regency.” But for one particular object in How to Dance with a Duke, inspiration came from across my living room.

When I was a little girl, I spent a lot of time at my grandparents’ house. (In fact, it’s the house I live in now.) And one of my very favorite objects d’art or, what we in the South call knickknacks, was this tall blue ceramic cat.

As a child I had no idea where the cat, which stood in prominence in my grandparents’ living room, came from. All I knew was that it was blue and it was a cat, two of my favorite things. Despite residing in a house with six children and an ever-growing number of grandchildren coming in and out, the cat has only suffered one blemish over the years. When he was around three years old, my cousin Heath (now 21) picked up the blue cat, and . . .well, dropped him, causing the cat a broken off ear. Which I then lovingly repaired with Krazy Glue. (Only the best for my ceramic injuries!)

When my grandmother asked us, years later, to pick out something we’d like to have after she dies, I only wanted one thing: the blue cat. Fortunately, my grandmother is still around, and when she moved house a few years ago, she left the cat behind for me as a sort of housewarming gift. He sits in prominence on a side table in my living room, and goes quite well with my own décor.

Anyway, back to ideas. So fast forward to 2009 when I was working on what would become How to Dance with a Duke. I knew there had to be some kind of object which would contain a clue. But what? It should probably be something Egyptian, and something easily mass produced. I was staring off into space—in this case, across the room toward a side table—when it hit me! Or rather, my eye hit it. It had to be a blue cat. I hopped on the internet and checked to ensure that there were indeed sarcophagi for cats, and that they were often decorated with paint, which could be blue. The rest, is, as they say, history.

Specific  objects have a long history in romance novels, of course. Who can forget Sarah’s spectacles, so lovingly kept by Derek Craven in Lisa Kleypas’ Dreaming of You, or the gorgeous peacock colored fan in Laura Lee Guhrke’s And Then He Kissed Her? I don’t suggest that the blue cat will hold a place in those ranks. It’s more Maltese Falcon than love token. But being able to write something associated with so many wonderful childhood memories was one of the highlights of writing this book for me. I hope you’ll have as much fun reading it as I had writing it!

In the next book in the Ugly Ducklings trilogy, there are no cats, blue or otherwise. But there is plenty of romance as Cecily’s cousin, Lady Madeline Essex, is forced to come out of her shell a bit and finds herself the object of one of London’s most eligible bachelors. And the cover is a gorgeous bright blue. Though my eyes go straight to the man candy at the top of the picture. There’s an object to remember!

So, gentle reader, can you think of a particular object that has played a key role in one of your favorite books? Tell us about it! Inquiring minds want to know! One commenter will win a copy of How to Dance with a Duke.

For more information about Manda, visit her website, "like" her on Facebook, friend her at Goodreads and follow her on Twitter.  

Monday, January 30, 2012

Coming Attractions!

February is upon us. The month of Valentine's Day---chocolate, flowers, and romance. *sigh* A favorite time of year for all of us romance lovers, but anytime is the perfect time for romance. We have another fun filled month here at The Romance Dish with guest authors, giveaways reviews, and of course, Buffie's Hot Dish to heat things up.

Join us on Wednesday, February 1st when Shana Galen will be our guest. Her newest book, The Rogue Pirate's Bride will be released February 7th.

It's time to get your paper and pens ready on Friday, February 3rd when Andrea tells us all about the New Releases for February.

Harlequin Blaze author Tawny Weber will be blogging with us Monday, February 6th, when she'll, no doubt, tell us all about her latest book, Sex, Lies and Valentines (released January 24th).

PJ will be interviewing New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Francis Ray on Tuesday, February 7th.

It's time to Make Your Reservations on Thursday, February 9th for the books we are looking
forward to in March.

Our own Trish Milburn will be here on Friday, February 10th to give us the scoop on the latest YA books and movies with her Teen Menu.

Stop by on Monday, February 13th for Andrea's interview with New York Times bestselling author Jillian Hunter. There will surely be talk of Jillian's latest release, The Duchess Diaries, which will be released on February 7th.

Are you needing a little warming up during the cold winter weather? Stop by on Wednesday, February 15th and check out who Buffie has chosen for this month's Hot Dish.

Elizabeth Bevarly will be blogging with us on Thursday, February 16th and chatting about her new book, The House on Butterfly Way, which will be released on February 7th.

Our friend, J.L. Saint, aka Jennifer St. Giles, will be our guest on Friday, February 17th.

We are crazy about debut authors, so we are thrilled to have Heather Snow blogging with us on Tuesday, February 21st. Her debut historical romance, Sweet Enemy, will be released on February 7th.

And no month would be complete without a Second Helping from Anna Campbell. Join us on Friday, February 24th to see what Anna is recommending for us to add to our TBR stack.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Flora's Royalty of Romance Winner

The winner of a signed copy of CHRISTMAS EVE AT FRIDAY HARBOR by Lisa Kleypas is


Congratulations, Maria!  Please send your full name and mailing address to us at theromancedish (AT) gmail (DOT) com to claim your book.

Review - - How to Dance With a Duke

How to Dance With a Duke
The Ugly Ducklings - Book 1
By Manda Collins
Publisher:  St. Martin's
Release Date:  January 31, 2012

Miss Cecily Hurston wants answers and the only place she can get them is inside the Egyptian Explorer’s Club. But, as an unmarried female, she is barred from entrance because of a rule put in place by her father, the man she is now desperate to help. Her father returned from his last trip to Egypt seriously ill, unable to speak and missing his secretary amidst rumors of a nasty falling out and possible murder. To clear him of suspicion and find out what really happened on the trip, Cecily must gain access to her father’s journals even if that means she has to allow her beautiful step-mama to transform her appearance from a bluestocking ugly duckling into a swan in order to do it. Cecily has no interest in love – she’s been burned badly before – but if she has to marry a dull and boring member of the Egyptian Explorer’s Club to get her father’s journals, that’s what she’ll do!

A soldier and war hero, Lucas Dalton, Duke of Winterson is the season’s prime matrimonial target though he has thus far shown no marked interest in any one girl. All of his efforts are focused on finding out what happened to his younger brother, William who disappeared while on Lord Hurston’s latest Egyptian exploration but he’s been thwarted at every turn. Fate finally smiles upon him when he observes a young lady being unceremoniously tossed from the doorway of the club, a lady who turns out to be the daughter of the man who has the answers Lucas needs. Not handling their first encounter very well, Lucas determines to be more congenial the next time they meet, which happens at a ball later that evening, but he is stunned by the transformation of the drab little bird who accosted the door of the Egyptian Club that same afternoon into the beauty before him and asks her about it.

     “I will tell you my reasons,” she whispered conspiratorially, “but you must keep this between the two of us.” 
     The duke leaned forward as well, eyebrows raised in expectation. 
     “I did it…” she hissed, “because I mean to marry a member of the Egyptian Club.” 
     “The devil you will,” Lucas said, resisting the urge to take Miss Hurston by the shoulders and shake some sense into her. 
     The idea of her marrying some prosy scholar with more hair than wit was ridiculous. Not only because she deserved better, but because there had to be a better way for her to get her hands on her father’s journals. It had nothing at all to do with the way she looked in the moonlight and the way his eyes kept straying to her mouth. 

Lucas offers to help Cecily weed out the undesirables among her marriage candidates, knowing full well that this intelligent, clever, vibrant young woman, who doesn't seem to realize how very special she is, would never be happy with any of them.

     "They have simply taken me up as their newest fashion.because they saw me dancing with a couple of smart, young gentlemen at the Bewle ball," she explained.  "I believe they see me as something out of the common way and are diverted by the novelty of conversing with a sensible creature for a change. They certainly are not doing so because they find me attractive. I am an Ugly Duckling after all."
     "I beg your pardon, Miss Hurston," he replied, shaking his head as if in sorrow for what he was about to say.  "But as a gentleman...as a man," he corrected himself, "let me be the first to inform you that you are utterly, splendidly wrong."


The more time they spend together, the closer they become.  The hotter the attraction between them sizzles, the more Lucas begins to wonder if he might not be Cecily's perfect marriage candidate. But first, they must solve the mystery of his brother’s disappearance and the deeper they dig the more it becomes apparent that there is someone who will stop at nothing, even murder, to prevent them from discovering the truth.

This is Manda Collins' debut and the first book in a trilogy about three cousins - Cecily, Madeline and Juliet - known throughout the ton as the Ugly Ducklings.  I loved it!  It has everything I enjoy in an historical romance.  With witty banter and a sizzling attraction between the hero and heroine, a strong, supportive and intelligent relationship among the three cousins,  a fast moving plot, interesting secondary characters, a "mean girl" adversary, and a satisfying mystery, it kept me firmly glued to the pages from beginning to end.  And when I reached the end I wanted to immediately return to the beginning and start all over again!

In the interest of full disclosure, I have known Manda Collins for several years, meeting online and in person and following her writing journey since Avon Fan Lit several years ago.  I knew she had talent but I did not realize how much until I read How to Dance With a Duke.  I came away from reading this book with the same thought I had after reading Tessa Dare's debut and that is "This woman is going to be a star!"

Written with intelligence, wit and compassion, How to Dance With a Duke is a book that should put Manda Collins on the radar of historical romance readers everywhere.  I highly recommend it!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Leslie Tentler winner!

The random winner of a copy of Edge of Midnight by Leslie Tentler is:


Congrats, Trish! Please send an email to theromancedishATgmailDOTcom with "Leslie's winner" as the subject. If you are a US resident, please specify if you'd like a print or e-copy of the book. If you choose a print copy, please include your US mailing address in the email. If you prefer an e-copy or are an International resident, please include the email address you'd like the e-copy sent to in the email. Thank you!

Kellie Kamryn winners!

The random winner of a book from Kellie Kamryn's backlist and a copy of A Kiss at Midnight by Eloisa James is:


Congrats, Na! Please send your full name, address, and choice of Kellie's backlist to theromancedishATgmailDOTcom with "Kellie's winner" as the subject and I'll forward your info to Kellie.

The random winner of a copy of When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James is:

Andrea I

Congrats, Andrea! Please send your full name and address to theromancedishATgmailDOTcom with "Kellie's winner" as the subject and I'll forward your info, too.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by to celebrate with Kellie!

Guest Review - - A Promise of Safekeeping

A Promise of Safekeeping
By Lisa Dale
Publisher: Berkley Trade
Release Date: January 3, 2012

As a young prosecutor, Lauren Matthews made a name for herself by winning a conviction in Arlen Fieldstone’s murder trial in Albany, New York. Nine years later, she is a successful jury consultant on the verge of becoming a partner in a prestigious firm when Arlen Fieldstone is exonerated and released from prison. Although Lauren was only one part of the system that convicted an innocent man, she is the target of indignation over the miscarriage of justice—public outrage, Arlen’s consuming anger, and Lauren’s own sense of failure. She feels that someone owes Arlen an apology, and she seems to be self-elected. She travels to Arlen’s hometown, Richmond, Virginia, to deliver her apology personally.

Will Farris, a dealer in antiques and Arlen’s best friend since childhood, has always believed in Arlen’s innocence. He was there when Arlen was released, and he has offered his friend sanctuary while Arlen reorients himself to freedom. Arlen rarely leaves the apartment over Will’s antique shop, and he never leaves the shop. Lauren can make contact with Arlen only through Will, and Will doesn’t trust the woman on whom he has focused his anger since the days of Arlen’s trial.

But Lauren is persistent. She refuses to leave Richmond until she sees Arlen. An attraction sparks between this unlikely pair, and it grows as Lauren becomes Will’s “picking” partner as they search out finds for his shop. Time with Will is causing Lauren to question the life she has created for herself, and Will has secrets of his own that he fears revealing to Lauren. Meanwhile, Arlen slowly emerges into the world he fears, and in another part of Richmond Eula, his former wife, questions the choices she made.

The relationship between Lauren and Will is a significant element in this story, but it is more the story of three, perhaps four, journeys of people who must find the keys to unlock their self-imposed prisons than it is a romance. Dale shows us flawed people who long to do good in the world and want to find a way to create personal happiness as they do so. Lauren has lost herself in her drive to please her father and achieve the goals she has set for herself. For Will, something that began as a way out of poverty for himself and his family has become an obsession that limits his life. Arlen struggles to become more than the man prison has made him, but his anger over all he has lost keeps him trapped. Eula is frozen in-between her past and her future, unable to leave the one behind or to seize the other. Each of them has lessons to learn about forgiveness.

A Promise for Safekeeping is a deceptively simple story on one level, an extension of a story readers might have glimpsed in a newspaper headline or half-heard in a newscast teaser. On another level, it is as complicated as the human psyche. The structure is not a straight narrative line, but a convoluted thread that twists and turns in unexpected ways to the very end. Lisa Dale’s prose does justice to the tale. She is particularly effective at revealing a great deal about her characters in a few words. For example, Lauren’s need to ask for Arlen’s forgiveness may seem like an extreme reaction out of character for a professional with her reputation, but Dale takes the reader inside Lauren’s head:

She had to get Arlen’s forgiveness. Closure was not merely an amenity that would allow her to look herself in the mirror again; it was necessary. Before Arlen’s retrial, she’d felt untouchable. A monarch ruling her own life—to the awe and amazement of everyone who saw how young she was and how much she’d accomplished.

Eula is a secondary character, and as a wife who doubted her husband’s innocence with little reason and divorced him while he was in prison, a not altogether sympathetic one. But I found it impossible not to sympathize with her after reading the following paragraph:

The life they’d wanted had been snatched away from both of them by a court system gone wrong. Everybody felt bad for Arlen, wanted to help Arlen. But Eula? She was nothing more than the wife who hadn’t believed in him enough. Who hadn’t believed in her heart that he was fundamentally good. The guilty verdict had ruined both their lives—but Arlen had been cleared of blame. 

Lauren is a gifted people-reader, an expert in body language and an author of books on the subject. “Lessons” in reading body language introduce each chapter, and I found them as fascinating as the story. This was a book I found satisfying emotionally, intellectually, and aesthetically. I highly recommend this book for romance readers who have a taste for romance plus. This is also one I recommend for my non-romance reading friends.

Oh yes, you can attribute the .5 star deduction to the moment that would have turned this excellent read into a wallbanger had I not read the ending first. :)


Friday, January 27, 2012

Review -- The Rogue Pirate's Bride

The Rogue Pirate’s Bride
The Sons of the Revolution, Book 3
By Shana Galen
Release Date: February 7, 2012
Publisher: Sourcebooks

In the end, he supposed it was he who learned a lesson, not to judge by appearances. An annoying boy could turn out to be a beautiful woman – a beautiful woman intent on killing him. And what was he going to do about that?

Raeven Russell is a woman on a mission. She is hell bend on confronting the man who killed her fiancé during a battle on the seas. Raeven is the only child of a British Admiral and since her mother’s death just days after Raeven’s birth, Raeven’s lifestyle has revolved around the ship and the sea. While most little girls are taught sewing and etiquette skills, Raeven’s skill set includes sword fighting, military strategic maneuvers and management of a crew. She is not your average English rose.

Rumors have swirled around Captain Bastien Cutlass for years. Some say he is a pirate. Others say he a disposed aristocrat who lost his family in the French Revolution. But Raeven calls him a murderer. A perfect opportunity for confrontation arises when both are in the same port. So Raeven disguises herself as a sailor and tracks Bastien down in a seaside tavern. While conducting business, Bastien is shocked when a boy pulls a blade and informs Bastien that he is there to kill Bastien. Seeing the boy as merely a child, Bastien doesn’t take the bait and instead tries to calm the situation. This only inflames Raeven and she directly challenges Bastien to a sword match only to find out that her skills, though impressive for a woman, are not on the level of this man. As Bastien takes Raeven’s sword as the prize for the challenge, Raeven’s hat falls off and he discovers he has just battled with a beautiful woman. Bastien is not sure what he is going to do with this woman, but one thing he does know … whatever he decides to do, it is going to happen on his ship.

I-I’m not going to take off my clothes.”

Since she didn’t appear likely to take it, he set her wine on the desk. “No? Then why are you here? And don’t tell me it’s simply to retrieve your sword.”

She clamped her mouth closed.

“You could have had another sword made.”

She cocked her head to the side. “Why do you think I’m here then?”

He shrugged, drank some wine. “Me.” He looked pointedly at the large berth.

She laughed. “Oh, really? You have a rather high opinion of yourself.”

He sat down behind the desk, lifted his glass to examine the red wine in the candlelight. “You went to a lot of trouble to see me again. Perhaps my arrogance isn’t entirely misplaced.”

As Raeven and Bastien are forced to spend more time together on the seas, similarities come to light. Bastien learns that Raeven lost her mother at a very early age and understands the lost of family. Raeven discovers that just like her, Bastien is looking for the captain of a ship who killed his mentor several years ago. She also discovers Bastien lost his family during the terror of the French Revolution. While Raeven has always had a physical reaction to Bastien, these discoveries begin to soften her heart towards him. As the layers of their lives are slowly revealed and the truth surrounding Raeven’s fiance’s death is brought to the surface, emotions of love begin to ripple through their relationship. But when happily ever after is close at hand, the opportunity for revenge finally appears and shocking family secrets are revealed. This could change everything. Will Bastien and Raeven choose revenge or each other?

I truly enjoyed reading this book. Both Bastien and Raeven are very strong, independent characters, but are so very likable. I was immediately cheering them on. I love that Raeven stands up for everything she believes in and is not afraid to tell Bastien exactly what she thinks. The chemistry between the two is smokin’ hot, but as always, the emotion connection is what gets me every time and that is what had me turning the pages as fast as I could.

If you are looking for a book that is not your normal English historical romance, then this is the book for you. Ms. Galen takes you on a whirlwind adventure on the high seas and exotic locales. Filled with humor, betrayal, intrigue, revenge and definite chemistry, this novel is one to be enjoyed by all.

This novel is the 3rd book in The Sons of the Revolution series. While I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book as a stand alone, I would recommend reading the series. I’m already tracking down copies of The Making of a Duchess and The Making of a Gentleman and I can't wait to read them.

~ Buffie


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Today's Special -- Leslie Tentler

Today we welcome romantic suspense author Leslie Tentler to the Romance Dish! Leslie is the author of the critically acclaimed Chasing Evil trilogy from MIRA Books (Midnight Caller, Midnight Fear, and Edge of Midnight). To celebrate the release of the third book in the series – Edge of Midnight – she’s giving away a free copy. Comment below to enter for a chance to win! Welcome, Leslie!

When Money Isn’t Enough
By Leslie Tentler

Have you ever fantasized about winning the lottery? You know, finding out the ticket you bought at a convenience store is worth...bazillions of dollars? What things would you buy or what exotic places would you travel to? Would you share the wealth with family or chosen charities?

Would you quit your job?

We’ve all heard stories on the news about lottery winners who plan to keep working despite the windfall they’ve just received. For some, money isn’t everything. They feel the drive to work or to follow the call of their chosen profession.

That’s also the case for special agent Eric Macfarlane in Edge of Midnight. He works for the Violent Crimes Unit of the FBI, where he handles grim cases on a daily basis. The pressure within the unit is huge. It demands an inordinate amount of time and takes all of what he has, professionally as well as emotionally.

I’ll also tell you a secret about Eric: He’s one of those people who works not because he has to, but because he feels the calling. He’s from a prominent, affluent family and could just as easily be living a playboy lifestyle. But law enforcement runs deep in his veins. He believes in justice and the motto of “to serve and protect.” It’s all he’s ever wanted to do.

But now his need to work goes beyond a professional responsibility. You see, a serial killer took someone very special to Eric before disappearing into thin air. That was nearly three years ago. And now, a new killer has surfaced in Jacksonville, Fla., with a very similar M.O. He’s working the beaches, abducting women and killing them. Eric believes it’s the same person and he wants to be on that case, despite his very personal involvement. And – to hell with FBI protocol or what the SAC has dictated – he has the connections within the Department of Justice to get there.

The one thing Eric doesn’t count on, however, is a new emotional entanglement. For the first time, there’s a survivor of the killer. She escaped, and the psychopath known as “The Collector” wants her back in the worst way...

I’d like to think that if I won the lottery, I’d keep working, keep writing and keep telling stories. It’s a creative outlet and it gives me pleasure to write a story that entertains or thrills, or touches readers’ hearts. I’d also like to think that instead of buying myself an island somewhere or having a different sports car for every day of the week, I’d share my good fortune with the people and the causes that matter most to me. But I would buy a house somewhere on the water’s edge. That’s one thing I’ve always wanted.

What about you? If you came into a truckload of cash, what would you do? Leave a comment below for a chance to win a copy of Edge of Midnight.


The writer becomes the story when crime reporter Mia Hale is discovered on a Jacksonville beach – bloodied and disoriented, but alive. She remembers nothing, but her wounds bear the signature of a sadistic serial killer. After years lying dormant, The Collector has resumed his grim hobby: abducting women and taking gruesome souvenirs before dumping their bodies. But none of his victims has ever escaped – and he wants Mia back, more than he ever wanted any of the others.

FBI agent Eric Macfarlane has pursued The Collector for a long time. The case runs deep in his veins, bordering on obsession...and Mia holds the key. She’ll risk everything to recover her memory and bring the madman to justice, and Eric swears to protect this fierce, fragile survivor. But The Collector will not be denied. In his mind, he knows just how their story ends.

What RT Book Reviews Says About EDGE OF MIDNIGHT


“A compelling plot, thick suspense, a cunning villain, a shattered cop and a victim who wants answers at any cost place Tentler in the same category as bestselling authors Lisa Jackson and Beverly Barton.”


Leslie Tentler worked in PR as a writer and editor for nearly two decades before pursuing her love of writing fiction. She is the author of the Chasing Evil trilogy of romantic thrillers from MIRA Books, which includes Midnight Caller, Midnight Fear and Edge of Midnight. She lives in Atlanta.

Website: http://www.leslietentler.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/leslietentler
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/leslie_tentler

Midnight Caller at Amazon
Midnight Fear at Amazon
Edge of Midnight at Amazon


Comment to win one (1) copy of Edge of Midnight. Winner’s choice of e-book or print book. **Print option open only to U.S. residents.**

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Today's Special -- Kellie Kamryn

I had the pleasure of meeting contemporary author Kellie Kamryn at the 2011 Moonlight & Magnolias conference in Atlanta. She immediately struck me as a sweet and fun gal and I enjoyed the time that we all spent together and hope we can repeat it soon! Kellie's newest contemporary romance, Rebound (which released January 16), contains two things she loves--gymnastics and writing. Please help me welcome Kellie to the Romance Dish!


One Small Decision

People always ask authors how they got started. I think anything always starts with one small decision. First, I decided that if I was ever going to write a book, it should be now. I mean, the days go by, the intention is there, but it takes guts to put it into action and follow through. I’d never had the confidence growing up to do it even though I’d always loved writing. I figured I should at least give it a shot because I’m one of those people who would hate to get to a point in their lives where it’s too late and have regrets about not doing something. So, I wrote a couple of bad novels, hired an editor to teach me some stuff, and then thought I was ready to go.

Turns out – not so much. I had no contacts, I didn’t know how to write a query, was very bad at synopsis writing, and figured that an agent or editor would just take one look at my story, see the potential and that would be it. (Insert raucous laughter here. *g*) So, I had the confidence to write a story, but not the confidence or know-how to sell it. So, what do you do when you don’t know what to do next?

I joined the Writer’s Guild where I lived but it didn’t seem to be the place for me. (Too much turmoil and no one else wrote romance.) Disheartened, I took my kids to the library (what better place to be than surrounded by books) where I happened to pick up a book penned by the uber-talented Eloisa James. The book? An Affair at Christmas. Never forget.

After reading it, I ended up buying all of the books in her Desperate Duchess series. But still, my own work sat on my computer, and after a few more rejections, I was at nearly at the point of giving up. A conversation with my sister sparked a new idea. We thought - what if I emailed a few of my favourite authors and asked for some advice? I didn’t want them to read my work, I just wanted to know how they got started. I figured I had nothing to lose. Either they’d answer or they wouldn’t. Eloisa was one of the author’s I emailed. I remember nervously composing that email to make sure I sounded respectful, and re-reading it a zillion times because I wanted to give the right impression. To my delight and surprise, she emailed back, thanking me for reading her books as well as pointing me in the direction of the Romance Writers of America, their contests, and their conferences.

And that led to other small decisions; like joining Eloisa’s Bulletin Board she used to share with Julia Quinn, where I met on-line the ladies of The Romance Dish and other women who have now become my very dear friends. I also became a member of the Romance Writers of America and soaked up the information they had to offer. I attended that year’s National Conference in Orlando, Florida, where I roomed with a friend I’d met on-line through the BB. I met Gannon and PJ, I took classes on pitching, synopsis writing, and attended publisher/agent forums. I learned a lot, after which I went home and put it all into action.

Since then, I’ve written three erotic shorts that were published last fall, in addition to Rebound, Book 1 in the Love and Balance series which I’ll tell you about in a moment. As a side note, I never thought I’d write erotica, even though my books are always heavy on the romance if you know what I mean. *wink* Through more networking, I met other authors and read their work which blurred the line between contemporary and erotic romance. I developed my own style and write the stories of my heart, letting the characters take me where they will. And here I am today – published author with the intention to write more and publish more. So, I hope you see how one small decision can lead you down an amazing path!

My current novel combines two of my passions: gymnastics and writing. As a former elite gymnast and coach, this story came to me and begged to be told. It’s been through a couple of re-writes before I finally submitted it, but I never gave up on it. Secret Cravings Publishing took a chance on it, and I’m very pleased they will be publishing Book 2, The Perfect Score soon as well.

Time to tell you a little about it...

An award-winning choreographer must face the only man she's ever loved then lost when they are teamed up to work together at a gymnastics camp for Olympic hopefuls.

Claire LeMay is at the top of her game - she's head of a prominent gymnastics facility with her gymnasts winning awards for her outstanding choreography. Now her biggest challenge is to coach alongside the man she's avoided for three years after he demanded she live in his shadow instead of forging her own path.

After sinking every penny of his inheritance into his state-of-the-art gymnastics facility, Justin Black has achieved his dream. Oblivious as to why Claire walked out on him three years ago, he attempts to call a truce. As their old passion tumbles out faster than a gymnast sprinting down the vault runway, they realize they are in the same impossible position as they were three years ago. Are they destined to repeat the same old routine or will they be able to choreograph a new one?


“You want the truth?”

Exasperated, he said, “Yes!”

“Fine.” She pinned him with a determined look. “You demanded I move here and work for you, assuming I’d jump at the chance. You never considered I had a life outside of you, or that there were things I might want to do with my career apart from yours. That’s what happened, Justin.”

He scrunched his eyebrows in confusion. “I never said that.”

“Yes you did!”


Her eyes bugged out at him. “You don’t remember the argument?”

“I remember you leaving.”

“Unbelievable,” she muttered.

He held his hands palms up. “So, why didn’t you ever tell me?”

Her shoulders sagged. “I—I was angry at the time. Why didn’t you ever ask?”

He blinked at her. “Touché.”

“Well, I wanted to establish myself as a coach before I moved here to be with you. I wanted to do it on my terms, not because you told me to. I thought we had our whole lives.” Her voice trailed away, and she looked down into her lap.

Hope blossomed in his chest. “So, you did want to come here?”

She returned her gaze to his face, reaching over and brushing her fingertips down his cheek.

“Of course I did. But not at your command.” She withdrew her hand and fiddled with the zipper on her coat.

He stilled her fingers by covering them with his own. “I never meant to make demands of you. I was just caught up in everything going on. My dream was coming true, and I wanted you to be a part of it.”

She gave him a rueful smile. “I was always a part of it. You just didn’t see it that way.”

He cupped her face in his hands. “I’m sorry,” he said, drawing her closer to him. “I never meant to hurt you.”

Tears filled her eyes, and she licked her lips. He wanted to kiss away all her hurts. Oh, how he wanted to feel her luscious lips against his. Just one taste wouldn’t hurt, would it?

He leaned toward her, but just when his lips were an inch from hers, she jerked her face out of his hands, folding her arms over her chest. She looked a lot like a pissed-off woman, and he eyed her warily.

“Not so fast. Why didn’t you ever call?” she demanded. “You let me walk out of your life without a word of protest.”

He blew a breath upward. “Takes two to tango, honey. You know how to use a phone.” She wasn’t going to make this all his fault.

“So, I was supposed to come crawling back to you?”

Her tone of voice told him the safest answer was none at all. However, she didn’t like that any better.

“Well, that would’ve been a cold day in h—”

“—hell,” he finished for her. “And that’s what the last three years have been.”

Buy Link: Secret Cravings Store

Hope that little excerpt intrigues you enough to check it out!

Thank you to PJ, Gannon, Buffie and Andrea for having me here today. It’s so exciting to be celebrating on The Romance Dish! As a thank you for checking out my post today, I’m giving away a copy of a book from my backlist, and a signed copy of Eloisa James’ A KISS AT MIDNIGHT to one commenter. As an added bonus, when Eloisa found out I was giving away a copy of her book, she was sweet to offer a signed copy of WHEN BEAUTY TAMED THE BEAST to another commenter. So, there will be two winners! What an exciting day! Thanks to everyone who stopped by :) And if you want to ask me anything, please do and I’ll be checking in throughout the day to answer.
Xo Kellie

Readers can find me at: www.kelliekamryn.com, http://www.kelliekamryn.blogspot.com/ , www.facebook.com/KellieKamryn, and on twitter @KellieKamryn

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Harlequin Round-up! Yee-ha!

by Anna Campbell

Hello, everyone! It's been quite a while since I've done a Harlequin roundup (checked and seems to be way back in June last year). So I thought I'd do a quick swing around some short contemporaries that I've recently really enjoyed, and either share some favorites of yours or introduce you to some new authors and lines you may not have previously considered. All of these books are still available from online retailers and as e-books so they shouldn't be too hard to find.

So buckle your seatbelts!

First up is one of the best Harlequins I can remember reading for ages. I grew up reading the equivalent of Harlequin Presents. Oh, how my heart would beat faster at the thought of a new Anne Mather or Violet Winspear. Sarah Morgan's books have that same classic feeling of alpha male meeting his match in the strong, clever woman he falls in love with. In DOUKAKIS'S APPRENTICE, mega-millionaire and all round bossy boots, Damon Doukakis, thinks he's inherited an absolute airhead assistant in Polly Prince with her new age ideas of staff creativity and plants and pets in the office. But Polly is a woman of hidden depths and Damon finds himself completely at sea with this brilliant, unconventional dynamo who teaches him a breathtaking lesson in love. Seriously, even if you generally don't like Harlequin Presents because of the occasionally overbearing heroes, you'll love this book. It's a real hoot and the chemistry between Damon and Polly sizzles like a goldfish in a frypan. I can't recommend this one highly enough!

While I'm on the subject of Presents, have you read Annie West's books? Annie and I work together as critique partners, but when a book's as good as GIRL IN THE BEDOUIN TENT (isn't that a gorgeous cover?), I don't feel I'm doing any special pleading for a friend. Innocent Australian traveler Cassie Denison and dashing Prince Amir find themselves trapped in dangerous proximity in the wild desert. Annie does some of the best Sheikh books around and this is one of my favorites of hers. There's the thrill of forbidden love about the relationship between these two proud, wary people, and the sexual tension when they're trapped in a tent together with no escape on the horizon is heart-stopping. Really great stuff! GIRL IN THE BEDOUIN TENT is out in America in March.

While I'm on the subject of great Aussie writers, do you know Bronwyn Jameson's work? A couple of years ago, three of Bronwyn's exquisitely crafted Silhouette Desires were up together for the RITA. Now that's some serious kudos. Bronwyn writes so beautifully, I find myself just stopping to re-read her sentences and glory in her prose. And nobody does that delicate advance and retreat of sexual tension better than she does. It's wonderful watching her characters fall in love, usually against their better judgment. But they just can't help it! In MAGNATE'S MAKE-BELIEVE MISTRESS, Isabelle Brown works as a freelance housekeeper to the rich and famous, but finds herself entangled in a dangerous game of mistaken identities when she takes a job for intriguing, sexy Argentinean playboy Cristo Veron. You'll have great fun with this one. Cristo and Isabelle are great characters who will linger in your mind.

Sarah Mayberry is one of my favorite authors and her latest SuperRomance ALL THEY NEED is one of her best, I think. There's such depth of emotion in this story. Melanie Porter was once a vivid, vibrant woman but years with a bullying husband have sapped her spirit. She decides to abandon the high society where she's never felt at home and set up a bed and breakfast on the beautiful Mornington Peninsula near Melbourne. Rich boy Flynn Randall belongs to that luxurious world Melanie has fought so hard to escape and his arrival in her life threatens all her dreams of independence and finding herself again. Or does it? Perhaps Flynn is deeper and more worthy than she believes. Perhaps he offers Melanie the chance of personal fulfilment that she came so close to losing. A beautiful story of two people who have to take dangerous emotional risks to achieve their happiness.

Liz Fielding is another of my favorite authors and she's never let me down yet. But even a favorite author occasionally writes a book that slams that ball out of the park and into the next suburb. TEMPTED BY TROUBLE is longer than most Harlequin Romances as it was originally written to launch the new Riva line in the U.K. There's a definite Cinderella touch to this story of Elle Amery who has put her life on hold to raise her sisters. But what's nice about this story is that it never quite goes where you think it's going to - for example, Elle's sisters really aren't ugly either inside or out, and in fact emerge as wonderful characters in their own right. Into Elle's life rides Prince Charming Sean McElroy. And seriously, girls, he is CHARMING with a capital 'ch'! One of the nicest heroes I've ever read - I wish he lived next door to me! Sean's gallant steed isn't a white charger but a pink ice-cream van called Rosie who also becomes a character in her own right. This book is such a charmer. You won't be able to resist it! It's as delicious as Rosie's ice-cream!

I don't read a lot of Mills and Boon Medical Romances and I know they can be difficult to find in America, but there are a couple of authors who are auto-buys for me. Strangely they're all Aussies! Don't know what it is about Australians and sexy doctors!

Sharon Archer writes heartfelt romances set in Australian country towns. A large part of the pleasure of reading one of her books is getting to know the bush community where the story is set. One of my favorites of hers is BACHELOR DAD, GIRL NEXT DOOR which is a story about second chances and forgiveness and finding your place in the world. After his wife's death, Dr. Luke Daniels brings his young daughter back to the beautiful seaside town of Port Cavil while he wonders how to rebuild his life. He doesn't count on meeting the girl who enchanted him as a young man. Even more troubling, he finds himself still attracted to her. Terri Mitchell is now an A&E doctor and she's far from sure she wants to risk her heart again with her teenage crush, Luke. Especially as it's perfectly clear that Luke never wants to fall in love again after losing his wife so tragically. You'll close this one with a happy sigh and a smile.

Amy Andrews, another Aussie, is a practicing nurse who writes dramatic and very sexy books that buck the stereotype of Medicals being all sweetness and light. So please don't be fooled by the rather corny title of this book (seriously, Harlequin, this has to be one of the WORST titles ever!). ALESSANDRO AND THE CHEERY NANNY is the first in a two-parter with VALENTINO'S PREGNANCY BOMBSHELL (which isn't much better as a title, frankly!). It's another story about a father bringing up his child, in this case a four-year-old son, after the death of his wife. When brooding Italian A&E doctor Alessandro Lombardi encounters vibrant nurse Natalie Davies, he doesn't realize just how profoundly Nat will change his life and that of his withdrawn son Julian. Another one you'll close with a smile and a sigh of pleasure.

So do you read Harlequins? What are your favorite lines? Why? Have you read any good category romances lately?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Brunch and Tea with the Royalty of Romance

Earlier this month, one of our regulars, fsbuchler, had the opportunity to spend an afternoon with five terrific authors and has graciously agreed to share her experience with all of us.  Thank you, Flora! 

by fsbuchler

Last month I stumbled upon an announcement on Eloisa James’ Facebook Fan Page.
An Affair to Remember: An Afternoon of Romance
“Meet Eloisa and Friends!”
Tea and conversation with bestselling romance authors.
Sunday, January 8, 2012
1:00--4:00 PM
University Book Store
Bellevue, Washington
Meeting Eloisa James would have been enough for me.  Meeting her and her friends took the event into a whole new dimension because Eloisa’s “friends” turned out to be:
Connie Brockway, Christina Dodd, Lisa Kleypas and Julia Quinn

The Royalty of Romance! The Fabulous Five together in one place for three hours!! The magic ticket cost five dollars which would be applied to the purchase of any book and then you could have it autographed as well; could it get any better?This was an event not to be missed!
Only one tiny problem, I live in Southern California .
Did I mention that I have a Darling of a husband?  His name is George and we’ve been married almost 34 years. I think he still loves me a little because He Made It Happen!  Plane tickets, hotel accommodations, restaurant reservations; he even convinced our only child, William, age 24, to come along. I normally celebrate my birthday in March; this year we had my party a little earlier and in Bellevue, Washington ! 


We had met Eloisa, Connie, and PJ previously at the RWA 2011 Conference in New York last summer; another thoughtful gift from my husband. All of them kindly accepted invitations to join us for breakfast while we were in town. I didn’t think that this kind of luck could strike twice, but I gave it a try anyway.  I emailed Eloisa and Connie to see if we could meet with them again and even asked them to include their “Friends” in our invitation for brunch on the morning of the event.  I was speechless when I found out that they had ALL accepted the invitation!  It’s going to be very difficult to have a birthday as good as this one next year.
We met at a small bistro just around the corner from The University Book Store to make it convenient for everyone.  There were hugs and introductions all around with Connie and Eloisa making sure everyone knew everybody. Christina Dodd’s lovely daughter, Arwen, was able to join us for the day; she and William are responsible for taking most of the pictures in this blog.  Also attending was Franzeca Drouin who is one of Eloisa’s wonderful assistants.

From 10:30 AM to 12:30PM the time flew by in a laughter filled opportunity to get to know each other. Since there were ten of us, Eloisa started an informal game of “Musical Authors” with everyone changing seats from time to time so that we all had a chance to speak with one another.  It was a brilliant idea!
The Author’s Tea began at 1:00 PM; the manager of the University Book Store, Becky, (and Amy) had the room beautifully prepared for the event with a circular seating area so that every one there could have a good view.  They also had traditional English Tea and goodies like finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, chocolate truffles arranged beautifully around the circle. Yum! 
Eloisa and Julia Quinn were the first to arrive at the sold out event. The seating area was packed.  However, there was no sight of Connie, Christina or Lisa for the first twenty minutes.  They had gone to the wrong University Book Store!  Eloisa and Julia just took charge and started speaking and taking questions until the others arrived to cheers and laughter from the audience. 
The latecomers didn’t miss a beat in joining the discussion.  They all took turns speaking about their writing careers, favorite books and characters, how and why they came to write Romance, what their husbands think of them writing and many other fascinating topics.  One thing they all agreed on was their children’s and husband’s concerns about being cast as characters in their novels. The Husband Concerns were generally about the love scenes in those books.  Eloisa said that her spouse was especially concerned with the fact that in her first book “Potent Pleasures” the Hero is named Alexander (her husband’s name is Alessandro) and he, the hero, is assumed to be impotent!  If you have read the book you know that Alexander is not impotent and Eloisa assured us that neither is Alessandro!
Each author spoke a little about their current or upcoming releases.  Christina Dodd talked about her and her husband’s mutual interest and love of fine wines, which was the inspiration for her current “Bella Terra” series.  The first two books in the series are already out and the third, “Betrayal,” will be released in April.
Connie Brockway discussed her decision to write eBooks and the evolution from there to her association with Amazon’s Montlake Romance. She is their Launch Author with the eBook “The Other Guy’s Bride," which is now also available in print.  I had the pleasure of meeting two of her Montlake representatives, Jessica and Kelli.   They are taking very good care of her and she deserves it!
Julia Quinn and I found a connection through her uncle who lives close to my home in California. Small World isn’t it?  She brought beautiful Cover flats from her newest book, “A Night Like This.”  It’s the second book in the Smythe-Smith series and will be released on May 29th.   
Lisa Kleypas is an unbelievably beautiful woman, inside and out!  She was incredibly sweet to us.  I am a member of her “Lisa’s Divas” group and when she heard that, she had to have a picture of us posed back to back like the Beauty Queen she is!  Lisa has a new book, “ Rainshadow Road ” coming out on February 28th.  (Read PJ's review here)  It is the first book of a new contemporary trilogy. However she also reassured the audience that she will continue to write Historical Romance!
Eloisa James is one of the most amazing women I know.  I have no idea how she teaches Shakespeare and English Literature full time at Fordham University , is a wife and mother of two and a remarkable writer all in one!  Just last month she released the novella “Winning the Wallflower” and the latest in her take on classic fairy tales, “The Duke is Mine.” She has also just finished the next book in the series, “The Ugly Duchess,” and her memoir “ Paris in Love” is due for early release on April 3rd.  April in Paris ; what could be lovelier!
Eloisa, Connie, Christina, Julia, Lisa, and my family, there are not enough words to express my thanks for this wonderful day!


Thanks, Flora for taking us along on your wonderful afternoon.  Readers, if you had the opportunity to spend an afternoon with five authors, who would you choose and why?  Flora is giving away a signed copy of Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor by Lisa Kleypas to one randomly chosen person who leaves a comment on today's blog!