Monday, April 30, 2012

Coming Attractions!

April showers bring May flowers...and lots of fun times at the Romance Dish!  Here's what the Dishes have in store for you in May.

We kick off the month in style when historical author Cara Elliott blogs with us on Tuesday, May 1.  Cara's April 24th release, Too Tempting to Resist is perfect for this month as it features a delicious hero who knows all about flowers and their secret language.  

PJ is taking a stroll down memory lane on Wednesday, May 2 as she reflects on the music of her youth and a band celebrating their 50th anniversary.

Don't miss Friday, May 4 when Andrea brings you all the great titles being released this month in her May New Releases!  

Join us Wednesday, May 9 when PJ has the opportunity to interview one of her historical romance idols, New York Times bestselling author, Amanda Quick!  Crystal Gardens, the first book in Quick's new Ladies of Lantern Street series was released April 24.  

Trish Milburn returns Thursday, May 10 with news from the world of YA fiction in Teen Menu!

We'll be making our reservations for the June books we're most anticipating on Friday, May 11

Fire up those fans because you know it's going to be hot around here on Tuesday, May 15 when Buffie unveils this month's Hot Dish!

New York Times bestselling author Carly Phillips will be here Thursday, May 17 to blog about Karma, the third book in her contemporary series about those sexy Barron brothers from the small town of Serendipity!  

On Saturday, May 19, we'll share some of the books we've recently enjoyed reading in May's Stock Up Saturday reviews!

Anna Campbell gives a nod to romantic-suspense icon, Mary Stewart in this month's Second Helping on Thursday, May 24.  You won't want to miss this one!  

Of course, we'll also have book reviews, some giveaways and there's always the chance of a surprise or two.  We hope you'll join us for another great month!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Guest Review - - More Like Her

More Like Her
By Liza Palmer
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: April 17, 2012


Frannie Reid, a speech therapist at a prestigious private school in Pasadena, is not looking forward to a new school year. Ryan, her boyfriend of two years around whom she has been constructing happily-ever-after fantasies, has revealed himself as the faithless jerk he is, and since he is head of the history department at the school where Frannie works, there’s no escaping him or the pitying looks of her colleagues. Her best friend Jill, also a speech therapist, tries unsuccessfully to instill more confidence in Frannie, who is convinced that Ryan’s defection means there is something wrong with her. The failure to strike a spark with any of the men with whom the married Jill keeps setting her up increases this idea. New friend Lisa, a science teacher with a direct charge attitude, makes Frannie rethink her own power to choose, but when the connection she feels with Sam, an architect working on a school expansion, becomes more fizzle than flame, the self-doubt takes over again.

Frannie compares herself unfavorably to Emma Dunham, the school’s new head, a beautiful blonde with an enviable fashion sense, a creative husband, and a gorgeous home in addition to her professional accomplishments. A few brief conversations with Emma make Frannie think that behind the perfection might be a woman she would enjoy knowing, but before that possibility can be tested, Emma is dead. Emma’s husband enters the faculty lounge where the staff is celebrating Emma’s birthday and shoots his wife in the head before turning his guns on others. Only the courageous action of Grady, another of the architects, Lisa, and particularly Sam, who kills the killer, saves the lives of Frannie and the other people in the room.

The story grows immensely darker and more complicated in the wake of the tragedy as all the characters must come to terms with their own brush with death and the horror that existed beneath Emma Dunham’s façade of the perfect life. In the immediate aftermath, Frannie and Sam have mind-blowing, life-affirming sex, and then Sam retreats, leaving Frannie angry and confused. Frannie must deal with her own guilty feelings that something she said led indirectly to Emma’s death. She takes care of Emma beloved dog, comforts Emma’s grieving sister, and searches for the truths of Emma’s life. Meanwhile, Sam, who is hailed as a hero, is struggling with his own feelings about having killed a man, feelings complicated by a personal past with a father who equated violence with manhood. Lisa and Grady, who were engaged in a hot but light-hearted affair before the shooting, are planning a wedding. Jill admits the pretenses that are part of her own marriage and deals with an unplanned pregnancy. Even Frannie’s favorite student is traumatized by Emma’s death.

More Like Her is not an easy read. The title suggests a typical chick lit book with self-absorbed characters moaning about flawed lives and failed loves, an impression reinforced by the cover and, to some degree, by the back cover copy. The opening scene, a frantic 911 call, undercuts this impression, but the reader is quickly returned to the internal monologues, female bonding, and relationship analysis synonymous with the genre. If you are a fan of such books, you will likely find the first half of the book more appealing than I did. Even in the first half, it’s clear that this author has a deft hand with characterization. The characters have a solid reality. The detail sharing, the expletive-loaded language, and the affection disguised as insults that pepper the conversations among Frannie and her friends are as familiar from life as from books. Sam with his Southern charm and quick humor is a hero to sigh for but not so faultless that he seems more dream man than potential boyfriend. Even so, the book is not much different from dozens of others.

The second half makes it a different book. The shooting is shocking on one level, but in a culture where senseless violence can invade homes, schools, and churches, a culture where beneath our usual social exchanges and involvement with the minutiae of daily life, we all fear there are no safe places, the shooting is all too credible. It is the possibility that increases the reader’s heart rate and shortens her breath. The reader understands that experiencing such tragedy must change one’s sense of self and approach to life. And after the distance between reader and character becomes heartbreakingly small, Palmer soothes and affirms the goodness of life with an ending to delight a romantic heart. Even Emma is given a kind of triumph. If you like books that move you out of your comfort zone, books that force characters and readers to see beneath the surfaces that shelter the vulnerable, the fearful, and the proud, I recommend you read this book. And if you’re tempted to give it up during the first 147 pages, I recommend you persist. It’s worth it. 


Saturday, April 28, 2012

Today's Special - - Cathy Maxwell

Cathy Maxwell returns today to answer some questions about the books she has coming out this year.  Fans will be happy to know that there are  reissued single titles, an anthology and a terrific new series on the schedule!  

Cathy, thanks for joining us and congratulations on the republication of WHEN DREAMS COME TRUE.

First, when was WHEN DREAMS COME TRUE published?  And why does a publisher “re-release” a book?

WHEN DREAMS COME TRUE was first published in 1998, almost fifteen years ago.  Publishers re-release because the public is interested in the author and want to read those classics.  It’s a wonderful compliment.

The novel is set in the Regency era—your specialty!—but it’s far from the ballrooms of London.  Why did you choose a remote village and estate as a setting? Where is Cornwall, anyway?  

Cornwall is a peninsula located in the most western part of England.  Eden would not be able to hide her past if she was in London, but here, surrounded by kind village people, she can be whomever she wishes.  I also like the dynamic of country life.  It truly is the heart and soul of England, even today.

The village, Hobbles Moor, and Penhollow Hall are a world onto its own, with most of the story taking place there.  What is it about stories set in this sort of microcosm that appeals so much to so many readers?  Is it that it can be so entertaining to read about characters such as villagers, servants and the “local gentry” can be so entertaining to read—as well as a change of pace?

Don’t we all love escaping to another world?  Leaving the bills, the cares, the car pools?  We all have our “villages” in real life.  Our peeps.  And I think recognizing them in literature is grand fun.

There’s a bit of magic in WHEN DREAMS COME TRUE as the villagers cast a spell to bring the Earl of Penhollow a bride.  Do you believe in magic? Is this something you’ve used as a plot device in other books?  Which ones?

I believe that when people come together for one shared purpose, great forces are set to work.  Is that magic?  Do we have the ability to will what we desire?  Or is it Higher Power answering prayers?  I’m open to everything.  That being said, I’ll be using the mysteries of life again in my upcoming The Chattan Curse trilogy.  The first book is LYON’S BRIDE and it will be released this May.

Trained as a courtesan, the beautiful and innocent heroine, Eden, is destined to be part of a harem.  Did her blend of knowledge and innocence make her a difficult character to write?

Eden wasn’t any more difficult than the others.  And perhaps easier.  After all, she had a secret.  She isn’t innocent . . . whereas Pierce was more complex.  He is the character with a decision to make.

Was including the harem a tip of the hat to the breakout romances of the late 70s from authors such as Johanna Lindsey, Rosemary Rogers and Kathleen Woodiwiss?

I wasn’t thinking of them at all.  Actually, I wanted to turn the tables.  Eden is the one with “experience.”  In many ways, Pierce is the innocent and I liked that thought of a “pure” knight.

Which, if any, of your other novels is similar to WHEN DREAMS COME TRUE in terms of being set outside of London and the immediate concerns of the ton?

Many of them—BECAUSE OF YOU, TEMPTATION OF A PROPER GOVERNESS, THE SEDUCTION OF AN ENGLISH LADY, IN THE HIGHLANDER’S BED, FALLING IN LOVE AGAIN . . . titled people for titled people’s sakes are not interesting to me.  I like the dynamic of a society.

It’s been fourteen years since Pierce and Eden got together.  Surely one of their children will be old enough in a few years to have a romance of his or her own.  Do you think you’ll ever return to Penhollow Hall?

I don’t know about revisiting Penhollow Hall, although I suspect I’ll be returning to Cornwall again.  For the research on this book, I read Daphne du Maurier’s Vanishing Cornwall.  Cornwall was the setting for many of her books and her travelogue is wonderful reading for an armchair traveler.

How can readers get in touch with you with questions and comments?  And are you on Facebook?

I have a website at   

Yes, I’m on Facebook.  Isn’t everyone?  Readers can find me at if they want to yak at me.  

To sign up for my mailing list or just post a quick comment, I have a fan page at

What have you got in store for us next?

This is a Maxwell packed spring!  The first of The Chattan Curse books is out in May, LYON’S BRIDE.  Then, in June, Avon Impulse is releasing an e-anthology titled FOR LOVE AND HONOR.  Lynne Hinton and Candis Terry are the book’s other two authors.  We were each given the theme of “a soldier” and turned loose from there.  I adore my contribution The Bookish Miss Nelson.  It is set during the Peninsula Wars in the early 1800’s.  

Then, Pocket Books will be re-e-releasing (did you catch all of that?) a novella I wrote for them a decade ago titled, In a Moonlit Garden. It will be out in July.  Long time fans will know this is from the TEA FOR TWO anthology I did with Liz Carlyle.  

Finally, the second book of The Chattan Curse trilogy, THE SCOTTISH WITCH, will be out in November of this year.  The third book, THE DEVIL’S CURSE, should be out next spring.
I have my nose to the grindstone!

Thanks again, Cathy!  Looks like it's going to be an exciting year!


Friday, April 27, 2012

Gannon's Second Chance Winners

We did not hear from the winners of Gannon's boxes of books giveaway so she has drawn new names.  The new winners are:



Karen H in NC

Congratulations, ladies!  Please send your full name and mailing address to us at 
theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com to claim your books.

Today's Special - - Roxanne St. Claire

I'm a huge fan of Roxanne St. Claire books.  It doesn't matter if they're edge-of-the-seat romantic suspense,  coming-of-age young adult or sizzling, character-driven contemporary.  If she writes them, I'm going to read them!  Roxanne (a/k/a Rocki) recently answered a few questions for me about Barefoot in the Sand, the first book in her new contemporary Barefoot Bay series.  I can't wait to dive into this new creation! ~PJ

Hi Rocki!  Thanks so much for visiting with us today!  Congratulations on the release of your new book, Barefoot in the Sand.  Will you please tell our readers about it?
April 24, 2012
Thank you for inviting me!  I love this blog and am thrilled to be here.  I’ll answer all your questions and if there are any in the comments, I promise to respond.  I’m very excited about Barefoot in the Sand because it marks a huge departure for me after many, many books in the “suspense” genre.  All four books in the “Barefoot Bay” quadrilogy are contemporary romances, with characters and conflicts driving the stories of four women who must let go of the past before they can find love in the future.  Barefoot in the Sand centers on Lacey Armstrong, a single mother who loses everything when a hurricane rips through Barefoot Bay.  In the rubble, she digs for optimism and a second chance by finally following her dream and building the island’s first true resort.  Along comes a hot, sexy, younger architect who can knock down emotional walls with the same skill that he can design physical ones. Their attraction sizzles in the sun and as they overcome multiple obstacles to build something that’s definitely meant to last forever.

Sounds like my kind of story!  How will the Barefoot Bay books differ from your Guardian Angelinos and Bullet Catchers books?

Nobody dies!  No bullets fly, no villains jump out of a dark alley, and not a single heroine is in least, not physically.  Emotionally, there’s heartache, healing, and hope in every book, and that’s why I’m having so much fun writing these stories.  I love the tension of a romantic suspense, and the natural “fast pace” of lovers on the run from bad guys, but I found it extremely exhilarating to write a different kind of story that is entirely focused on the character’s emotional journey.

October 30, 2012
I can see where that slower pace would be appealing after taking your romantic suspense characters on so many wild rides!  Many of your books have a pivotal scene that I'm still thinking about long after I finish the final page. (Shall I tell you how many times I've re-read the shed scene? ::grin::)  What's the one scene that you would never cut from Barefoot in the Sand?  Why?

Oh, the shed scene! It’ll be my epitaph, I fear:  She wrote the shed scene.  Well, in terms of love scenes, there is a pretty sexy one in the Gulf of Mexico at night.  Gotta have one of those, right?  But my favorite scene that I’d never cut is more heart-wrenching than heat-making.  The scene is in a hospital, when the hero has to face down his estranged father and make a choice to forgive and forget...or let the wounds fester.  That scene gets me every time I read it, even now.  The theme of forgiveness is at the heart of this book, and possibly every book in the series. 

Thanks for the heads-up.  I'll be sure to keep tissues handy!  

We all have favorite books on our keeper shelves.  What are some of the titles gracing your keeper shelf?

Of course the usuals:  GONE WITH THE WIND, JANE EYRE, NOBODY’S BABY BUT MINE.  Oh, you laugh (and you would if you read the book - it’s hysterical and wonderful!) but NOBODY’S BABY was the first romance that moved me to the point of opening up a document and writing “Chapter One.”  I simply wanted to make someone else feel as good as Susan Elizabeth Phillips made me feel when I closed that book.  On my keeper shelf, you’ll also find plenty of Kresley Cole (paranormal), Louisa Edwards (contemporary), Kristen Painter (urban fantasy), Rachel Hauck (inspirational), Leigh Duncan (category romance) and Lara Santiago (erotica).  They are all my friends, yes, but also amazing writers who inspire me.

July 10, 2012
Those of us who are fans of your work thank them for their inspiration!  

What are you working on now?

I just finished Barefoot in the Rain, the second book in the series, and am starting Barefoot in the Sun, which will be book three.  This summer, my first young adult novel, Don’t You Wish, will be released and I’m excited to say I have another YA lined up in the queue as well.  I’m very busy and happy for it!

As are we!

Time for Quick Six:

Early Bird or Night Owl?  Early, early, early.  I wrote my first book before the sun came up - two hours every morning from 5 - 7, and that trained me to be an early riser. 

Chocolate or Vanilla? Ha ha ha.  That’s so funny.  The question should be “milk or dark?”

Mountains or Beach? Well, I live in Florida, so I’m a beach girl all the way, but I find the mountains have their own majestic beauty and I wouldn’t mind owning a little place in the Rockies someday. Can’t I have both?

Sneakers or Stilettos?  Like the book says, BAREFOOT.  But, honestly, I never met a pair of shoes I couldn’t love.  Am partial to anything in pink.

Drive or Fly?  You’ve obviously never flown with me.  I’m the person digging fingernail holes into my seatmate’s palm, whispering the Lord’s Prayer, and crouching for the expected crash landing.  Yeah, let’s drive.

Champagne or Beer?  I’m going to surprise you, I bet. I love beer!  I’m really partial to Blue Moon with an orange slice late at night -- it’s my favorite guilty pleasure.

Thanks so much for answering my questions, Rocki!  Do you have a question for our readers?

Yes - it’s summer and time to take a great book to the beach.  If you could go to any beach in the world, where would it be?  

Find Roxanne online:

Buy Barefoot in the Sand at:

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Today's Special - - Genevieve Graham

It's my pleasure to introduce historical author Genevieve Graham to The Romance Dish today.  A graduate of the University of Toronto with a degree in music performance,  Genevieve now lives in Nova Scotia where she splits her time between 18th century characters and her 21st century husband and daughters.  She's here today to blog about her debut novel, Under the Same Sky.  Welcome, Genevieve!

Believe in Dreams

Once upon a time I sent my little princesses off to elementary school on the big yellow carriage, kissed my Prince Charming, and headed into the basement. Fortunately, all the cinders had already been emptied, the mending finished, and the little cartoon birdies had finished singing on my shoulders. So, enjoying a rare moment without chores, I sat at our one and only desktop computer and stared at the screen, waiting for magic.

When it came, spinning from my brain onto the screen in living, breathing, technicolour adventures, I was amazed. “Under the Same Sky” was the first thing I’d ever written, and I’d done it just for fun. In my mind I was introduced to Maggie, and she showed me her life, as miserable and strange as it was. The next day I was thrown into a bloody battle scene in Culloden Moor in 1746. I helped Maggie reach out and bring both hope and strength to the man she’d dreamed of all her life. No shining armour in this story, no castles, no pumpkins. But adventure? Love? Hope? Oh yes.

Since I had so much practice working hard at scrubbing floors and making little outfits for talking mice, I had no trouble working hard on the book, researching, editing, learning what “real” authors did. When I showed the completed book to my family and friends, they seemed to like it (though they’re kind of obliged to at least say that). Why stop there? I started querying agents. That’s when I almost gave up. Everyone else seemed to be going to the ball, getting published, seeing their books in stores. But rejection after rejection kept arriving in my email. Then, just when I feared all was lost, my fairy godfather appeared, in the form of my wonderful agent, Jacques de Spoelberch. With a wave of his magical pen he made the impossible possible: Penguin bought not only my first book, but my second as well.

So it’s only fitting that my book revolves around dreams as well. When I sign books, I add “Believe in dreams” to my name, because sometimes they actually come true.

SERIOUS note: I should probably warn you here: “Under the Same Sky” is not a romance like mine was. Despite the beautiful cover, my story is not what it seems. I can’t write light romances, nor can I write predictable ones. My stories are dark and often difficult, dealing with real life tragedies and experiences people had to survive. Especially back in the 18th century. When you wish upon a star, sometimes Fate will see you though. Sometimes, though, she’s busy with someone else’s miracles and you’ll have to make them happen yourself. “Under the Same Sky” is just a little bit different that way, though. Since the couple can communicate through dreams, they get a little more assistance from each other along the way.

Knowing you might someday pick up my book and read it is my dream. Seeing my own guest blog on this terrific sight is something I never dreamed of. So believe in your dreams. You never know what might come of them. I’m loving my Happily Ever After! 

You can find Genevieve online at the following locations:


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Today's Special -- Lila DiPasqua

I'm thrilled to welcome back to The Romance Dish historical author Lila DiPasqua!!  We always have a wonderful time when Lila visits and today is bound to be no exception.   Lila rewrites classic fairy tales with a fiery twist.   And let me tell you, Lila writes fiery very well indeed!!  Her latest release, UNDONE, is based on the old tale of Rupunzel.   Please join us as Lila tells us about UNDONE and discusses keeping secrets.

Excerpt from UNDONE:

Once upon a time there was a woman who was shut away in a tower.  It was said, she’d been there for years. Rumored to be a prisoner of her own making. No one knew much about the mysterious beauty. Or the secrets she guarded.  It was certain she’d live out her days cloistered.  Yet one day, out of the forest, they say her prince appeared.  One look at the lovely enchantress, and he was enthralled.  Upon hearing her ethereal voice, he was undone . . . What happened next, you ask?  Well, he scaled the tower and rescued the beauty, of course . . . Was that the end?  No, my dearlings, that was only the beginning. 
And what was to follow was stuff of fairy tales. . .

For those who know me, you know I’m a historical romance author who writes scorching retelling of favorite fairy tales.  My latest, UNDONE, is inspired by Rapunzel. 

I have a beauty in a tower – so to speak—with beautiful hair (though not long enough to climb :)  She has a stunning singing voice, too.  You see, Angelica has been hiding from her past in a convent for ten years.  She’s been keeping secrets a very long time.  And she has every intention of maintaining it that way.

But along comes our hero, Simon Boulenger.  Upon seeing her attacked, he does the heroic thing—and rescues her.  But this sexy privateer thinks he’s done her a great service.  He hasn’t. He’s placed her in great danger.  There is one man who can ruin her life, and Simon has inadvertently put her within striking range of this man.

My favorite kind of romance novel is the kind where the heroine brings out the best in the hero–and vice versa. It’s because of Simon that Angelica learns to really experience life.  To let down her hair. It’s because of Angelica that Simon sees himself as more than a commoner.  But it takes time and trust before either can reveal their painful secrets.

And no matter how much Angelica wants to pull away from Simon, the attraction these two characters feel for each other is intense.  Utterly magnetic.  Tall, dark and dangerous, (and a knee-weakening set of sinfully gorgeous light blue eyes), Simon is one carnally-gifted, bad boy historical hero no woman can easily resist. :)

I’ve been told by a number of readers that I made them cry or tear up in this emotional, steamy retelling of Rapunzel.  I hope you’ll enjoy it, too!

So dear reader, what was the last book you read or movie you watched that made you cry?

One random commenter will win a signed copy of A MIDNIGHT DANCE, my spicy, romantic retelling of Cinderella AND a signed copy of Delilah Marvelle’s ONCE UPON A SCANDAL.  (Giveaway open WORLDWIDE.)

~ Buffie

Buy on:  (Coming soon on B&N and in print!)

NOTE: UNDONE is a Rock*it Reads book.
Rock*It Reads is made up of traditionally published authors committed to bringing high standards and professional quality to their self-published works. Whenever readers see the RIR logo, they know the book they are purchasing is held to an excellent standard of quality. We are Authors You Love with Stories that Rock. You can visit our site and check out more great reads at


A Fiery Tale
Lila DiPasqua
April, 2012
Inspired by the tale of Rapunzel, Lila DiPasqua offers a new steamy, emotionally charged historical romance in the acclaimed Fiery Tales Series . . . Rescuing this beauty from the ‘tower’ is only the beginning . . .

Maintaining her ruse as a commoner, and trusting no one has kept Angelica safe. But a chance encounter with a handsome stranger lands her right where danger lies. Now, this sinfully handsome man with arresting blue eyes and a polished manner thinks he’s saved her life, when in fact he’s placed her in great peril. She’s intent on keeping him and everyone else at arm’s length. Yet, the smoldering attraction between them is difficult to deny. And impossible to ignore.

As commander of a number of privateer ships, Simon Boulenger dresses and speaks like an aristocrat, and has obtained wealth. But he is still not a noble. Or an officer in the King’s Navy. His lifelong dream to elevate himself from his station of birth and attain a respectable place in society is dead. Worse, he’s ensnared in a deadly scheme, and must get out. But how is he to stay focused on his dangerous mission when the mysterious beauty has him utterly intrigued? He can’t afford the distraction any more than he can resist the carnal hunger she stirs. Simon soon discovers that she’s not only a passionate soul mate, but a woman born into privilege. A woman he can never have. But they’re in too deep. Their hearts are at risk . . . as well as their lives.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

There Must Be Heyer Love!

by Anna Campbell

Do any 80s tragics like moi get the title pun?

Anyway, back to the Regency!

What is that glorious purr in the universe? Can it be the Ginormous Cat who curls up in the padded armchair at the heart of all happiness?

No, it's not. Although I have to say the megalomaniac who lurks beneath my modest exterior got a kick out of inventing a new mythology! It's me doing another Georgette Heyer fest for this month's review.

We always have wonderful discussions here when it comes to one of the goddess's books - and today I thought I'd talk about two of her works. So on mathematical principles, we should have a discussion that's twice as good!

FARO'S DAUGHTER is a bit like one of those French farces with everybody popping out of doors and out from under beds all over the place. It's VERY funny and definitely a comedy of errors.

Max Ravenscar is one of the richest men in England and a noted sportsman with no desire to marry. This ruthless plutocrat is drawn into a scheme to separate his young cousin, Lord Mablethorpe, from the unsuitable woman he wants to marry, Deb Grantham who works at an upper-crust gaming house. Unfortunately for Max, Deb is just the kind of woman to attract his interest and not at all the kind of woman to let him get away with his usual commanding ways. Spiraling chaos ensues, including a kidnapping, young lovers, elopements, a runaway heiress, several dotty female relatives (G.H. does wonderful dotty female relatives!), plot and counterplot, a carriage race, misunderstandings galore. And all of this in a mere 260 pages! I'm in awe of the goddess's tight grip on events and character so that she can tell a satisfying story with a lovely romance (well, lovely in the sense of combatants tumbling into adoration!) within this space. Definitely worth reading if you're in the mood for madcap sparkle and Regency highjinks.

SYLVESTER: OR THE WICKED UNCLE is another fun read. Sylvester, Duke of Salford, is convinced he's a really good guy; nobody in his world has the guts to point out to him that he's actually insufferably condescending. When he decides to get married, he puts together a list of five incomparables, none of whom QUITE match his high stickler requirements, with one addition, Phoebe Marlow, the daughter of his mother's best friend. Sylvester is marrying partly to please his mother so he sets out to Lord Marlow's house to inspect this chit and see if she makes the grade.

Phoebe has had one unsuccessful season when she danced with Sylvester, not that he deigned to remember this when he saw her the next night at Almack's. Phoebe, whose home life with a bullying stepmother is unhappy, has plans of making a living as a writer and has just had her first manuscript accepted. Unfortunately, the villain of this piece is based on Sylvester who has very distinctive eyebrows. Even more unfortunately, the villain of this piece has a nephew he's tormenting. Unbeknownst to Phoebe, Sylvester is guardian to his own nephew over whom he's conducting a custody battle with his mutton-headed and flighty mother. Society is quick to make the link when Phoebe's book comes out and imagine Sylvester guilty of all the sins of Count Ugolino in the novel.

When Phoebe runs away from home to avoid marriage with a man she considers overbearing and selfish, Sylvester starts to get an inkling that he's not as universally adored as he thought. As his relationship with Phoebe develops, his amour-propre receives so many hits, you almost feel sorry for him in the end. Well, in between laughing at his dire straits. One of my favorite bits is when he's forced to cope alone with a sick and cranky child he's rescued from France.

By the end, Sylvester is a better man and Phoebe is a stronger woman who has come into her own. You just know these two are going to be great together as the Duke and Duchess. Big sigh of happiness from this reader.

So have you read these two? Any preference? Both FARO'S DAUGHTER and SYLVESTER feature heroes who have learned the error of their ways by the end. Love that trope! Any favorite arrogant heroes in romance fiction who get their comeuppance? Let's talk bringing down the uppity hero today!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Today's Special -- Donna Fletcher

It's my pleasure to welcome USA Today bestselling historical author Donna Fletcher back to the Romance Dish! Donna has been lucky enough to visit many of the places she writes about in her books. From her website: "She has walked the fields were battles were fought centuries ago, toured haunted castles, stood where beheading were commonplace, explored the mystic mounds of long ago and collected a plethora of memories and research that will live long in her heart and mind." Doesn't that sound amazing? I'm so jealous. *g* Her newest book, A Warrior's Promise, hits shelves tomorrow, April 24th! It's the third book in her popular Warrior King series. Please welcome Donna as she dishs about one of our favorite topics--heroines!

It’s great to be back at The Romance Dish.Thanks, ladies, for having me.

Some hero and heroines are unforgettable. You just don’t want their story to end. Naturally, all my heroines have lingered in my memory, each having been unique in their own way. Though I have to admit that I had great fun writing about heroines I posed as lads. The very first book I wrote, San Francisco Surrender, the heroine Victoria/Vic posed as a lad who takes to robbing wealthy men in an unconventional way to help her ill sister. Irish Hope was the next book where Hope/Harold wanted an adventure before she was to enter into an arranged marriage and she comes across more than she counted on. And now there’s Charlotte/Charles in A Warrior’s Promise, the third book in my Warrior King series. She’s desperate to save her father who has been taken by soldiers at the king’s command. Feisty, tenacious and petite she manages to get herself into endless situations.

Here’s a peek at Charlotte and the mighty Highlander warrior she drives crazy with her brave antics and along the way steals his heart.        

Charles ran like the devil was after him. His worn boots pounded the dirt, leaving a wake of dust in his trail. He couldn’t let the soldiers get him. He couldn’t His dark eyes darted in panic, desperate to find an avenue of escape. At the last minute he spotted it: big, broad and solid. Surely, he could take shelter beneath it. With all the strength he had left, he dove for the solid mass sliding along the ground and coming to rest on his belly between the two limbs that stood rooted to the earth. Then he hurriedly wrapped his arms around one thick leg and held on for dear life.

A quick tilt of his head had his eyes settling beneath the Highlander’s plaid, and he gulped. Good lord, he was a big one, which meant he was strong and could protect, and the lad needed protecting.

Please. Please, help me,” he begged, peering past the plaid to the giant Highlander, who stared down at him with a look of bewilderment.

“Hand him over,” one of the three soldiers ordered, while almost colliding as they came to an abrupt halt.

The urchin hid a smile, relieved at their reluctance to approach the large man. “And what will you do with him?” The urchin liked the sound of the Highlander’s voice; it confronted and dared all in one breathe. He was not a man to argue with, but one to fear and respect.

“That doesn’t concern you,” the soldier said with trembling bravado.

“Why wouldn’t it?” the Highlander demanded sharply.

“He stole from this woman and must pay the price,” another soldier spoke up, not daring to step from behind the soldier in front.

“What will you take for him?” the Highlander asked.

The woman stared down at the urchin. “He’s worth a good amount.”

The Highlander lurched forward, causing the soldiers and woman to retreat in haste and huddle closer together. While the urchin, having no intention of letting go of the intimidating Highlander’s leg, was dragged along with every step he took.

“Don’t think me a fool, madam,” the Highlander snarled. “He’s a skinny lad not fit for most chores. He isn’t worth a pittance.” And with that said, he tossed a meager trinket at her feet. “Take it and be satisfied.”

The one soldier was quick to pick it up and hand it to the woman. She took it and, with a snort and toss of her head, stomped away.

“We’re done here,” the Highlander said.

Charles heard the tight anger in his tone and as the soldiers turned and walked away, he grinned. That is until the Highlander’s large hand reached down, grabbed him by the back of his shirt, and lifted him clear off the ground to dangle in front of his face.

What type of heroine is your favorite? Leave a comment and take a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card. And when you have time visit me at

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Stock Up Saturday

If I Fall
By Kate Noble
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Release Date: April 3, 2012

If I Fall picks up right where Kate Noble’s previous book, Follow My Lead, leaves off (though you certainly do not have to have read Follow My Lead before reading this one) with Sarah Forrester suffering betrayal and humiliation at the hands of her fiancé, the Duke of Rayne. He fell in love with someone else and Sarah graciously let him go. However, she quickly became known as the “Girl Who Lost a Duke”. In order to save face and protect her heart, Sarah collaborates with Lady Phillippa Worth, the reigning leader of the ton, to create a new persona and soon becomes the Golden Lady—the woman every man wants and every woman wants to be.

Sarah’s childhood friend, Lieutenant Jackson Fletcher has been at sea since he was sixteen. He returns to London to await new orders and is anxious to see the people he has always considered family—the Forresters. However, his dear friend Sarah is nothing like she used to be. Gone is the funny, sweet, endearing girl and in her place is someone cold, snobbish, and condescending. Jack must work hard if he’s to crack through Sarah’s façade. His hard work backfires and thrusts him into a dangerous situation that involves murder, top-secret information, and Sarah.

From the moment I closed the last page of Follow My Lead and witnessed Sarah Forrester’s heartbreak, I wanted her to have her own happily ever after. She certainly deserved it. She was a likable secondary character who became a loveable heroine in her own book. I completely understood why she put up a front and acted the way she did after The Event...why she felt the need to reinvent herself. And I simply adored how persistent Jack was to bring back the “old Sarah”.

Even when she was cold as ice to him, Jack had discovered that there was nothing that made him more awake than the presence of Sarah Forrester.

An uncomfortable realization, that.

During this process, Jack discovers something about himself that he didn’t realize and must come to terms with his own inner struggles. When he’s hit with news that he had dreaded hearing upon his return to London, he turns to the only person who understands him: Sarah. These two are so perfect for each other and I couldn’t have asked for a better hero for Sarah. Their story is filled with lovely prose, tender moments, and a very nice twist at the end. If I Fall is another terrific historical from the talented Kate Noble and if the excerpt in the back is any indication, we will soon be blessed with another. This one joins all of Ms. Noble’s
previous books on my keeper shelves and, like the others, is one I highly recommend!



By Katie Lane
Publisher:  Grand Central
Release Date:  March 27, 2012

For the last nine months, Shirlene Johnson used retail therapy to deal with the death of her husband.   But due to her shopping sprees and lack of financial management, Shirlene finds herself without any funds and evicted from her posh mansion.  Never thinking she would have to live in her childhood home – a dilapidated trailer, Shirlene faces the fact that this tiny trailer is her new home.  The memories of her alcoholic mother and her not-so-fun childhood seem to haunt her as soon as she pulls into the dusty driveway.   Shirlene finds her luck turns from bad to worse when she discovers four runaway children have taken up residence in her childhood home and the town’s biggest redneck jerk is living right next door.   Now, not only does she have to try to set things right with the bank and try to get her home back, but now she finders herself the caretaker of the four children while trying not to succumb to the rippling muscles and sexy smile of her neighbor, Billy “Bubba” Wilkes. 

Billy Wilkes came to Bramble to settle an old family score.  Believing the long ago death of a relative in the dusty streets of Bramble has cast a curse upon his family, Billy and his brothers are determined to cancel the curse once and for all and that begins with the demise of the town.   Befriending the town’s people and acting like the biggest redneck in Texas, Billy has gained the trust of pretty much everyone.   Except his new neighbor Shirlene.  Billy is usually on task and in character all the time, but he finds himself lost in Shirlene’s eyes (and her curvatious body).   Soon he realizes Shirlene has slipped behind his guard and found a spot in his heart.  But will she understand his motives once his secret is out?

Shirlene is a woman down on her luck but determined to do the right thing and to live her life on her terms.   She’s a “go get ‘em” kind of gal and I really like her spunk.  The sarcastic yet flirty repartee between Shirlene and Billy had me giggled frequently.  Billy’s one liners and pet names for Shirlene are just priceless.   While the sarcasm and humor is fabulous, the sweet, soft moments are just as great.

This is my first Katie Lane book, and I must say it won’t be my last.   This book is such a fun, light read.   If you need a giggle or two interspersed with some sizzling sexual tension, then this one is for you!

~ Buffie

Friday, April 20, 2012

Hot Dish Winner

Thanks to everyone who stopped by and commented on my interview

with our latest Hot Dish, Jason Baca.

The random commenter who wins a signed ZED card from Jason is:


Congrats to you Tami!!!!

Please email your full mailing address to


~ Buffie

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Review - - Sweet Enemy

Sweet Enemy: A Veiled Seduction Novel
By Heather Snow
Publisher:  Signet
Release Date:  February 7, 2012

It usually takes reading a few books by a given author before they end up on my auto-buy list but, occasionally, an author hits it out of the park on the first try.  So was the case with debut historical romance author Heather Snow.  Her first book, Sweet Enemy, kept me happily reading late into the night and has me now counting the days until the August 7th release of Sweet Deception, the second book in Snow's Veiled Deception series.

Home from the war, Geoffrey Wentworth, Earl of Stratford is settling into the responsibilities of the earldom he never expected to inherit and focusing all his energy on pushing a bill through Parliament that will help his fellow soldiers; those men who have neither title nor wealth nor homes waiting for them when they return to England.  Geoffrey's mother has other ideas.  Summoned home on the pretext of an emergency, he discovers guests already arriving with invitations in hand for a house party; invitations supposedly issued by Geoffrey for the express purpose of finding a bride.  Needless to say, he is not amused but his clever (and very manipulative) mother has included the daughters of powerful men whose backing Geoffrey needs to see his soldier bill pass.  Unfortunately for Geoffrey's mother, one of the guests has brought along her niece, a most unsuitable candidate for the type of wife he needs but perfect for type of wife he wants.

In her simple satin dancing dress  trimmed with shiny gold piping around the sheer sleeves, hemline and bust, she stood out in stark contrast to the wasted opulence that surrounded her.  He remembered how ill at ease she'd seemed this afternoon surrounded by some of the more frivolous members of society.  Nothing in her mannerisms gave her away tonight, but he got the distinct feeling that she, like him would be more comfortable with soldiers and commoners than with this lot. 

She laughed at something Aveline said, and the husky timbre of her voice vibrated through Geoffrey, his body hardening in reaction.  Just being in her presence affected him, had from the moment he'd broken her fall in the library.  It was as if his very skin hummed with energy, every nerve on edge.  The closest feeling he could compare it to was the invigorating moments just before battle, when he felt more alert and alive than at any other time in his life, ready to take on the world.  

Brilliant chemist and healer, Liliana Claremont has no intention of marrying, much to her aunt's distress.  Liliana has more important life goals and primary at the moment is discovering who lured her father to the meeting that ended with his murder.  Her investigation thus far has led her to the late Earl of Stratford so when her aunt receives an invitation to a house party at the current Earl's home, Liliana jumps at the opportunity to go, not to capture the Earl's attention as a prospective bride but, rather, with the intention of finding out just what part the late Earl may have played in her father's death and what Geoffrey Wentworth, the current Earl knows about it, if anything.  She never expects to be attracted to the handsome Earl and, even worse, like him,

He hadn't taken her to task for stealing his horse.  He hadn't berated her for embarrassing him in public.  He hadn't judged her for her unconventionalities and was now, in fact, conspiring to enable her.  "You are very kind," she said, and realized she spoke the truth.   

How awful.  She didn't want to think of him as kind.  She didn't want to think of him at all, except as a suspect or a relation thereof.  Yet increasingly she was viewing him as something more than an adversary, which only complicated matters.  

Nor does she expect to find a man unimpressed with his position in life who is more concerned about the fate of those far below him in class. And she especially does not expect to find a man impressed with her intelligence, who treats her with respect, understanding and support of her chosen career; a man whose plans to help those less fortunate could go down in flames if he chooses Liliana.

Knowing how much it will hurt Geoffrey if what she suspects is true, will Liliana abandon her search for her father's killer?  How will Geoffrey react when he discovers that the woman he's come to know, trust and love has been lying to him the entire time about her reasons for being in his home?   And will they ever discover just who the murderer is?

Passionate, witty and refreshingly original, with a hero and heroine I fell in love with and a mystery that kept me guessing throughout most of the book, Sweet Enemy is a treat not to be missed.  If you haven't read it yet, I highly recommend picking up a copy today!


Has a debut book knocked your socks off lately?  Tell us about it!