Sunday, June 30, 2013

Coming Attractions!

The temperature outside is heating up, so take a break, grab a cold drink, and join us at the Romance Dish! We have a lot of terrific guest authors lined up along with some wonderful reviews, regular monthly blogs, and as always, prizes galore!



We start the month off with a BANG! as fan favorite and our friend Anna Campbell dishes with us tomorrow, Monday, July 1st! The best-selling historical author has an e-novella, Days of Rakes and Roses, out Tuesday! It is part of her Sons of Sin series, so you won’t want to miss it!



PJ interviews Romance Bandit and best-selling historical author Christina Brooke on Tuesday, July 2nd. Christina’s upcoming book, London’s Last True Scoundrel, is the first in her exciting new Westruthers series and hits shelves Tuesday!



Grab a pen and paper to jot down your favorite July books from Andrea’s New Releases list on Friday, July 5th!



On Monday, July 8th, we welcome another Romance Bandit to the Dish! Romance author Nancy Northcott is interviewed by PJ and I’m sure she’ll dish about her upcoming book, Guardian, which is part of her Protectors series and releases July 2nd!



New York Times best-selling paranormal author Pamela Palmer has a special treat for readers as she has a cover reveal and excerpt of an exciting new upcoming book on Tuesday, July 9th! What will it be? You’ll have to stop by to see!



The lovely and talented TrishMilburn (another Romance Bandit!) is back this month and will catch us up on all the wonderful things happening in YA in her Teen Menu on Wednesday, July 10th.



Make Your Reservations on Thursday, July 11th, as we let you know which books we are most looking forward to in August.



Romance Writersof America®’s 33rd Annual Conference is at the Atlanta Marriott® Marquis in Atlanta, Georgia from Wednesday, July 17th–Saturday, July 20th! It is right in my hometown! PJ and I will be attending the conference and will arrive on Tuesday, July 16th. We are excited and thrilled to see so many of our reader and author friends! We’ll be sure to take a lot of pictures and get a ton of goodies to give away here at the Romance Dish. If you’re nearby and will be attending/visiting, please let us know! If you’re not attending the conference, but live close enough, please stop by the huge “Readers for Life” Literacy Autographing on Wednesday, July 17th from 5:30-7:30 pm. Over 400 authors will be signing books! The event is open to the public and proceeds from book sales go to literacy organizations.



The always witty and glamorous Anna Campbell (yet another Romance Bandit!) is back again and will bring us her Second Helping of a book or books that we may have missed the first time around on Wednesday, July 24th!



Please join us on Monday, July 29th, when we welcome military romance author Heather Ashby! Her upcoming Forgive & Forget is the start of her Love in the Fleet series and releases July 23rd!




Please stop by often, and as always, thank you!


Saturday, June 29, 2013

Maggie Robinson Winner

The winner of a copy of In the Arms of the Heiress 
by Maggie Robinson 


Congratulations!  Please send your full name and mailing address to us at

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

Friday, June 28, 2013

Review - - Carolina Girl

Carolina Girl
Dare Island - Book 2
By Virginia Kantra
Publisher:  Berkley
Release Date:  June 4, 2013

Meg Fletcher couldn't leave Dare Island fast enough.  Determined to follow her dreams, she headed off to college at Harvard then on to New York City, never looking back at what she'd left behind. At the age of thirty-four, Meg has everything she's always wanted:  an important corporate position, an expensive NYC condo and a relationship with a high-powered, live-in boyfriend that's more corporate merger than love affair.  When her mother is seriously injured in a car accident, Meg flies home to Dare Island for three weeks, confident that her life in NYC will be waiting for her when she returns.   It isn't. She returns to discover her position at the firm has been eliminated and her boyfriend of six years, who is on the transition team at work but didn't fight for her, suggests, with a decided lack of sympathy, that she return to Dare Island to "think things over."

For Sam Grady, the Fletchers have always represented what a family should be. Best friends with Meg's older brother, Matt since they were boys, Sam spent more time at Meg's house than his own. Meg's family represented love, affection and support rather than the succession of increasingly younger step-mothers and a father whom Sam could never please that could be found at his own home.  And then there was Meg, his best friend's younger sister, a girl to whom he was increasingly drawn until one New Year's Eve when Meg and too much drink had Sam giving in to his desires...then running scared.  It's been eighteen years yet Sam is still attracted to her, still has feelings for her, still owes her an apology.

Both Sam and Meg are back on the island to help their respective families.  For Sam, it's his opportunity to finally prove his worth to his demanding father before returning to his company on the mainland.  For Meg, it's a chance to help her family while figuring out the fastest way back to New York.  And, for both of them, it's their time to figure out what's really important, what they really want from life. It's an opportunity to discover reality versus perception; to dig below the surface and discover the person inside, to realize that happiness is there, just beyond their fingertips if only they have the courage to reach for it.

The Fletchers are one of my favorite new fictional families!  I've been anticipating my return visit to Dare Island through the pages of Carolina Girl and I wasn't disappointed.  Virginia Kantra has once again brought us a beautifully written, character-driven story that takes us into the heart of this complex, loving family.  We follow the difficult recovery of Tess, the Fletcher matriarch, the progression of the romance between Matt and Allison (from book one, Carolina Home) and the ongoing battle to retain custody of Taylor, the newly discovered ten-year-old daughter of Meg's brother, Luke, a soldier on assignment in Afghanistan.  We also receive more clues about the secret that causes Taylor's nightmares and a possible peek at Luke's heroine (if my guess is correct).

While the Fletchers and other residents of Dare Island form a rich supporting cast, it's Meg and Sam who hold center stage in this book.  Meg is prickly, opinionated, single-minded and not easy to like at first.  Her goals are seriously skewed, mostly because of her determination to not have a life like her mother's...or what she perceives her mother's life to be.  Sam is charming, sexy and has enough vulnerability lurking below the surface to make me (and probably every woman) fall in love with him.  He's one of the good guys and I couldn't help but want the best for him.  As Meg's eyes are opened to what her life could be as opposed to what it's been, as she softens without losing any of her strength, as she learns what love is supposed to be...well, I couldn't help but cheer for her too.

I highly recommend Carolina Girl as well as the first book in the trilogy, Carolina Home and strongly suggest that the books be read in order.


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Today's Special - - Maggie Robinson

It's always a pleasure to host Maggie Robinson.  I've followed her writing journey since her pre-publication days and am delighted by the success she's achieved.  This time around, Maggie has not one, but two new books to tell us about.  Double the pleasure, double the fun!  

You can find more information about Maggie and her books at her website and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.     

Welcome back, Maggie!

Making Believe

Thanks so much to PJ for having me back at the Romance Dish! I’m here a few days early to talk about my upcoming release. I’ve got two back-to-back books in July—whee!

My parents and grandmother used to get so mad at me. We lived in a house with one bathroom, and I would lock myself in there and “pretend.” How inconvenient, and how they’d yell at me to get out, LOL. But the acoustics were great if I talked or sang aloud, and I liked the way the sunlight diffused through the frosted glass window. I imagined myself older, married, an actress—someone altogether different. Someone glamorous. Mysterious.

Many years later, my “pretending” is now on paper, and I found a way to channel my lonely, only child self in my writing. The heroine of my first mass-market paperback In the Arms of the Heiress is Louisa Stratton, a young woman who also makes up things as she goes along. Her imagination is just much more fun than her reality—she’s a “poor little rich girl” stuck under the thumb of her domineering aunt. When Louisa finally gets access to her fortune, she runs off (or I should say drives off) to the Continent, free at last. But still she’s pestered to come home and marry her awful cousin. What’s an imaginative girl to do but lock herself in her fancy hotel suite and make up a husband? A perfect man…and we all know how rare they are, LOL.

Louisa uses the masterful Evensong Agency to find her a man as close to perfect as they can get to pretend to be her imaginary Maximillian Norwich. At first glance, Charles Cooper does not fit the bill. He’s been wounded in the Boer Wars, is jaded and haunted by things he’d much rather forget. But somehow he winds up being the perfect man for Louisa, and she is the answer to every prayer he had stopped asking.

In the Arms of the Heiress is the first of the Edwardian-set Ladies Unlaced series. I can’t tell you how much fun it’s been to write about the early twentieth century. That same grandmother who yelled at me was a teenager in 1903, and I have lots of memories of her life with her six sisters at the turn of the century. I think they would have liked Louisa!

Did you have an imaginary friend growing up? Did you make up a fantasy world with your dolls and teddy bears? How many bathrooms did YOUR childhood home have, LOL? 

One commenter will get a copy of In the Arms of the Heiress, which comes out July 2!


It’s all fun and games until someone falls in love…

Independent heiress Louisa Stratton is going home to Rosemont for the holidays, and at the family’s request, she’s bringing her new husband—Maximillian Norwich, art connoisseur and artful lover, the man she’s written of so glowingly. There’s one hitch—he doesn’t exist. Louisa needs a fake husband, and fast, to make the proper impression.

Charles Cooper, captain of the Boer War and far from silver spoons or gilded cages, is so hard up that even this crazy scheme appeals to him. It’s only thirty days, not till death do them part. What’s so difficult about impersonating a husband, even if he doesn’t know a Rembrandt from a Rousseau?

The true difficulty is keeping his hands off Louisa once there’s nobody around to see their ruse. And then there’s the small problem of someone at Rosemont trying to kill him. Keeping his wits about him and protecting Louisa brings out the honor he thought he’d left on the battlefield. But when Louisa tries to protect him, Charles knows he’s found a way to face his future—in the arms of his heiress.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Guest Review - - The Favor

The Favor
By Megan Hart
Publisher: Harlequin Mira
Release Date: June 25, 2013

Janelle Decker is returning to St. Mary’s, Pennsylvania. Nan, the paternal grandmother who once cared for Janelle, is terminally ill with an inoperable brain tumor and needs a fulltime caretaker, and Janelle has taken on the task. Leaving California and the life she has built there with few regrets, she packs her ancient Volkswagen Rabbit pickup and with her twelve-year-old son, Bennett, returns to Nan’s house where she spent the summers of her childhood. She also spent her senior year with Nan, deciding a year with her grandmother was preferable to the rehab or reform school options her mother and step-father had given her. It’s been twenty years since Janelle left St. Mary’s, but the town and Nan’s house seem remarkably unchanged.  The house next door is still occupied by the dysfunctional Tierney family, at least by the old man and two of his sons, alienated Gabe and brain-damaged Andy, both of them marked forever by old secrets and the events of one tragic night.

Janelle and Gabe had played together as children, and that senior year, the two angry, wounded rebels with father problems had been drawn together in an intense relationship that ended in a violent rupture when Janelle granted a favor Gabe asked, a favor that changed everything between them and contributed to consequences more terrible than either of them could have imagined, consequences that left them both tormented by guilt. During the year Janelle takes care of her dying grandmother and deals with her son who is having problems adjusting to their move, she recognizes that her feelings for Gabe are no less powerful now than they were two decades earlier and the moody, damaged thirty-eight-year-old Gabe is no easier to love than was the teenage bad boy.

Readers who know Megan Hart through her erotic romance should know that The Favor is neither erotic nor a romance, although it has a strong romantic element. It is general fiction with shifting points of view and numerous flashbacks that remind the reader of the many ways the past intrudes on the present. Reading this novel, I was reminded of a line from one of my favorite Emily Dickinson poems: “Tell all the Truth but tell it slant.” Hart gives the reader this story with all its dark and painful edges from the alternating points of view of Janelle and Gabe, which means that the reader gets pieces of the truth, often indirectly.

Despite the dual points of view, Janelle is clearly the pivotal character in this story. A single mother with a son who knows nothing of his father, an illegitimate daughter with a troubled relationship with her father, a loving granddaughter struggling to accept a reversal in roles, an adult beginning to see her past with clearer vision—Janelle is all of these. And each bit of who she is contributes a thread to the story.

Not only Janelle and Gabe but all the characters in this story are damaged in some way, albeit in different degrees. That the greatest damage was inflicted by those who should have been most committed to loving and protecting makes the horror greater and more threatening to the reader’s comfort. This is a story about human creatures twisted and predatory, selfish and irresponsible, frightened and fearful, flawed and resilient, gallant and giving. It is about forgiving and the unforgiveable and about accepting the necessary wounds in order to move forward to healing and hope.  Janelle says, near the book’s end, “Sometimes, things get broken and you don’t fix them.” She and Gabe gain the hard-earned wisdom that allows them to know what to give up and what to hold on to.

Readers expecting a conventional HEA will be disappointed, but the ending is hopeful, holding the promise of better things to come. If you are a reader who appreciates complexity, indirection, and painfully real characters who end up surviving to fight another day rather than living happily ever after, I highly recommend this book.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Today's Special - - Robyn DeHart

Andrea and I are delighted for the Romance Dish to be a stop on Robin DeHart's blog tour for her new historical romantic suspense novel, THE SECRETS OF MIA DANVERS.

A life-long love of stories and adventure, it was either become a stuntwoman for the movies or live out those adventures from the safety of her PJ's and computer. Award-winning author, Robyn DeHart chose the latter and couldn't be happier for doing so. Known for her unique plotlines and authentic characters, Robyn is a favorite among readers and reviewers. Publishers' Weekly claims her writing to be "comical and sexy" while the Chicago Tribune dubs her "wonderfully entertaining." Robyn is an award-winning author as well as being a four-time RT Bookclub Reviewers' Choice award nominee, and a three-time RomCon Reader's Crown nominee. Robyn lives in Texas with her brainy husband, two precocious little girls and two spoiled cats. You can find Robyn on-line at her website or at one of her group blogs, the Jaunty Quills or Peanut Butter on the Keyboard.

Places to find Robyn:
Jaunty Quills:
Peanut Butter on the Keyboard:


Hi Robyn!  Welcome to the Romance Dish!  Congratulations on the release of THE SECRETS OF MIA DANVERS.  Will you please tell our readers what to expect from this story? 

Thanks so much for having me. I’m absolutely thrilled that The Secrets of Mia Danvers is finally in readers’ hands, this is a story I’ve wanted to tell for a very long time. I think for those readers who’ve read me before, you can expect the same trademark humor (though perhaps a bit less), the same sexy heroes and the same smart heroines – but this book is quite different. First of all, I’d consider it a romantic suspense that just happens to take place in Victorian England. It is still an historical romance, but you can’t write a book about Jack the Ripper and not have the creepy suspense element be a big part of the action of the plot. Basically this book takes place six months after the Whitechapel murders and asks the question…what if Jack the Ripper didn’t stop killing? What if he kept going, but moved himself to the more prestigious Mayfair area and what if there was a witness?

I love a little suspense in my historical romance and this premise has me itching to read the book!  THE SECRETS OF MIA DANVERS launches your new historical romantic suspense series for NAL.  How many books will be in the series?

The series is plotted as a trilogy, but right now the third book hasn’t been purchased. So we’ll see.

The book has been released in digital format.  Will it also be available in print?

There is always a chance for it to go into print, if it does exceptionally well digitally so I guess that’s up to you, readers. J

Mia faces some unique challenges in this book as a sightless person.  How did you go about researching her character?

I mostly tried to put myself in her shoes. I closed my eyes a lot while writing the scenes in her point of view. I tried to tune into my other senses to experience what it might be like to rely only on those. She was incredibly challenging to write, but I’m very proud of how she developed. And so far readers seem to love her.

What one thing do you want readers to understand about Mia?

It was very important to me that Mia not be a victim. I didn’t want her to be bitter and still sitting around blaming everyone for what had happened to her. Granted she certainly has warranted some bitterness, but I wanted to write about a woman who had the strength to rise above that, to become something more than her blindness.

I think that strength is going to make her a favorite among readers.  What one thing do you want readers to understand about our hero, Alex Foster, Eighth Duke of Carrington?

Ah, poor Alex, that fellow never stood a chance. He tries so very hard to do the right thing. He’s plagued by it, really. He wants to do what his father and brother before him could not do, be a good man, a good and decent duke. But the heart wants what the heart wants and he simply has to come to terms with that.

What a beautiful cover this book has!  How much input do you have into your book covers? 

I know! Isn’t it gorgeous?! My editors always ask me for ideas before a cover goes into production. My editor and I had the same basic vision for this one, we wanted Mia to be standing facing away from the reader so we show just her back. The rest the art department did. I’m so pleased with how it came out. And the cover for The Temptations of Anna Jacobs is just as beautiful (you can find it on my website!)   

Oh, wow!  That's another beautiful cover!  Readers, check it out here.  

Let’s switch the focus to you for a few minutes.  What book (or author) was your introduction to romance fiction?

Kathleen E. Woodiwiss’ The Rose in Winter was my first romance. I stole it from my mom’s shelf when I was in high school. Up until that point I knew I wanted to be a writer, but I hadn’t yet decided what I wanted to write. Reading that book, everything clicked into place. I knew immediately the road for me would be historical romance. It was life changing.

I know many readers who credit Woodiwiss for their introduction to romance.  For me, it was Victoria Holt.  

We love to be carried off to faraway places and times through the pages of our beloved books.  If you could visit any place or time, where would you go and why?

I’m much too practical and rely too heavily on modern conveniences to want to do more than visit any of the historical eras. But I write in the Victorian period because it fascinates me. The industrialization, the growth and modern advancements. Did you know that Corn Flakes and Cotton Candy were invented in the Victorian era? Too cool. But if we’re talking book worlds, it would be a toss up between JD Robb’s world and Harry Potter’s world.

I knew about Corn Flakes but not Cotton Candy.  It really is amazing how much I learn from reading historical romance!  

A young lady very dear to me just graduated from high school and is about to embark upon the next chapter of her life.  If you could go back in time and give the newly-graduated Robyn one piece of advice, what would it be?

Don’t be so worried about meeting Mr. Right. I was quite focused on that for a long time as I longed to marry and become a mother. As it turned out, I didn’t meet my Mr. Right until I was 29 and didn’t become a mother until I was 37 so I kinda feel like I wasted a lot of time focusing on all that when I could have been enjoying myself more.

What are you working on now?

I’m finishing up The Temptations of Anna Jacobs.

Can't wait!  

Thank you, Robyn!  We wish you all the best with THE SECRETS OF MIA DANVERS and the Dangerous Liaisons series.  Do you have a question for our readers today?

How do you feel about mixing historical romance with romantic suspense?


The Secrets of Mia Danvers blurb:
A lone witness finds her protector...
Since losing her sight in a childhood accident, Mia Danvers has resided in a small cottage on the vast Carrington estate. Thought to be dead, Mia lives a life of virtual seclusion—until one night, while walking home, she happens upon a horrendous crime.
Alex Foster, Eighth Duke of Carrington, lives according to society’s expectations for him. He’s never met the woman who lives in the cottage at the edge of his property. But when she arrives at his door in the pouring rain terrified and claiming she has witnessed a murder, she seizes his attention.
Mia is determined to help the authorities track down the culprit, even though the only person willing to accept her aid is the handsome, arrogant duke. Working closely together proves difficult as Mia’s beauty and independence tempts Alex to ignore convention and follow his desire. But what neither of them know is that this murderer has struck before in Whitechapel, taunting the British press only to vanish—a ruthless killer who knows that Mia is the only living witness to his crime…

Purchase links:

Giveaway Info:

Robyn DeHart will be giving away winner's choice of the following:
·         Amazon Paperwhite
·         Nook Glow
·         $120 Gift Card for Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Open for US shipping ONLY.

Enter the contest by clicking the link below:

The Secrets of Mia Danvers
Blog Tour Schedule

6/17 - Romancing Rakes For the Love of Romance (Spotlight)

6/18 - Read Your Writes (Spotlight)

6/19 - Ex Libris (Guest Post)

6/19 - Books to Brighten Your Mood (Interview)

6/20 - Bookworm 2 Bookworm (Interview)

6/21 - Stitch-Read-Cook (Spotlight)

6/24 - TBQ's Book Palace (Interview)

6/25 - The Romance Dish (Interview)

6/26 - United By Books (Spotlight)

6/27 - Romantic Crush Junkies (Guest Post)

6/28 - Herding Cats and Burning Soup (Interview)

7/01 - What I'm Reading (Interview)

7/02 - Reading Between The Wines (Guest Post)

7/03 - Cocktails and Books (Spotlight)

7/04 - Ramblings From This Chick (Guest Post)

7/05 - Readaholics Anonymous (Guest Post)

Monday, June 24, 2013

No Maybes About It!

by Anna Campbell

I really need to stop raiding Desire Author Rachel Bailey's bookcases!  She introduced me to the wonderful Three Sisters Island trilogy that formed the subject of last month's Second Helping Review. And now she's given me MAYBE THIS TIME by the fabulous Jennifer Crusie.

I've always had a fondness for ghost stories. If you looked at my bookcase, among all the luscious romances, you'd find a lot of books with titles like CREEPY LONDON GHOST STORIES, THE WORLD'S GREATEST GHOST STORIES, and THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF GHOST ROMANCE.

Hmm, ghosts and romance! Now, you're talking!

I've got such a fondness for ghost stories that I recently wrote one (THESE HAUNTED HEARTS). So that's putting my money where my mouth is!

By the way, MAYBE THIS TIME is a ghost story! ;-)

And a romance!

I'm in heaven. Or wandering lost between two planes of existence...

Andie (Andromeda) Miller is the type of heroine who I think Jenny Crusie does better than pretty much anyone else. She's intelligent, she's strong, she's made the hard choices and she lives with the consequences without whining, and she's got a bodaciously smart mouth. The snarky heroine! A JC specialty!

I like snark when it's not spiteful, and Andie is such fun to spend time with. She greets personal adversity, danger and the supernatural with many a one-liner and because she's brave and funny, you're on her side from the start. She's also got her heart in the right place as well as her head. I was completely charmed! Pun intended.

This story is a modern take on Henry James's famous novella THE TURN OF THE SCREW. I read this in first year uni and haven't read it since, so I have to say my recollection on the details is fairly shaky. But from memory, a young governess goes to an isolated house in England where she discovers two seriously creepy children under the influence of even creepier forces. I'm pretty sure it does not end well!

For me, MAYBE THIS TIME also had elements of JANE EYRE. Governess in creepy circumstances? Yup. And things end up better in MAYBE THIS TIME than they do in THE TURN OF THE SCREW, you'll be pleased to hear. Again, JE rather than TTOTS.

Ten years after her divorce from gorgeous lawyer North Archer, Andie agrees to help with two children to whom North acts as guardian. The children live in a creepy castle in the wilds of Ohio (makes sense in context) and so far any attempts to settle them with a governess have failed. Shades of THE SOUND OF MUSIC. North wants to get the kids to the city where they can lead a normal life including school, but every time anyone tries to remove the children from the castle, awful things happen, including death. He has the feeling that Andie's brand of practical common sense might be just the solution to his problem and he bribes her into accepting the job.

So our intrepid heroine, who has finally decided to move on from her youthful passion for North by getting engaged to writer Will Spenser, ventures into the haunted house. There are lots of fun scenes as she wins over the kids - I like those scenes in THE SOUND OF MUSIC too! There are some suitably creepy old retainers. Can't have a ghost story without a sinister housekeeper or two. And there are plenty of scary moments where the ghosts in the house flex their muscles against the positive force that is Andie.

One of the joys of a Jenny Crusie book is the plotting. She has this wonderful ability to build and build and build and then combine everything together into fireworks at the end. MAYBE THIS TIME is no exception.  There are lots of characters and it's a joy watching them interact to the purpose of comic chaos. In a JC book, there's always at least one great comic setpiece. It starts out quietly but the crescendo goes on and on, with more and more characters getting involved, until everything comes to an uproarious ending. The comic setpiece in this one shows Andie ending up as host over a single evening to psychics, TV reporters, Andie's fiance, ghosts, and the man she's never forgotten. I always catch my breath in awe at the beautiful construction of these scenes. Juggling a crowd of people is a pain when you're writing! And Crusie makes it all look so effortless. There's certainly an element of slapstick but it's really clever slapstick. Love it.

I haven't talked much about the hero of this one. Partly because for much of the book, while North is present in spirit (if not quite in the same way as the ghosts!), he's not on the page. He's again a familiar figure from Crusie's output - the gorgeous frat boy who hides hidden complexity and finds himself drawn to the dark side in the form of the snarky heroine. It's pretty clear from the start that he still loves Andie and it's pretty clear that she still loves him. The end of the journey is never in doubt, but the journey is huge fun, with a few scary moments along the way. Comedy and suspense are a difficult mix to bring off right but MAYBE THIS TIME succeeds in spades!

Are you a Jenny Crusie fan? Do you have a favorite? Do you like a touch of paranormal with your romances outside the full-scale paranormal genre? Do you like a smart-mouthed heroine?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Allie Burton Winner

The winner of an e-copy of Atlantis Riptide by Allie Burton is


Congratulations, Janga!  Please send us an email at

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

Tracy Brogan Winners

The three winners of swag bags from Tracy Brogan are:

Pat L

dotland 101


Congratulations!  Please send your full name and mailing address to us at

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

Suzanne Ferrell Winner

The winner of an e-copy of Kidnapped by Suzanne Ferrell is


Congratulations, Connie!  Please send us an email at

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com 

and let us know if you prefer Kindle or Nook.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Guest Review - - A Woman Entangled

A Woman Entangled
By Cecilia Grant
Publisher: Bantam
Release Date: June 25, 2013

Kate Westbrook knows that she is beautiful, and she intends to use her beauty to see that she marries someone who will give her the life she is entitled to as the granddaughter of an earl. From the time she was thirteen, Kate has been focused on the goal of reclaiming what should be hers. Her father, a younger son, was disowned by his family when he married an actress, whose profession placed her beyond the pale despite her beauty, accomplishments, and virtue. Kate knows that her parents enjoy a happy marriage and that her father, who has found professional success as a barrister, has no regrets about his choices. Her family may be content with their comfortable, middle-class life, but Kate wants more—not just for herself but also for her younger siblings. She even harbors hope that she can be instrumental in reconciling her father and his family and perhaps even see her mother accepted by them.

Nicholas Blackshear, second son of a respectable but untitled gentleman, is also ambitious. He hopes to win a seat in the House of Commons, and he believed he was making progress until a scandal in his family not only made a political career an immensely more difficult goal to attain but also affected his current work as a barrister. Solicitors were reluctant to refer cases to a man whose brother had married a courtesan after a duel with her protector (A Gentleman Undone). His sister, married to her viscount (A Lady Awakened) could ignore society’s strictures and continue her relationship with their unrepentant brother. Nick didn’t have that luxury. He rejects all contact with his brother, but even that is not enough to stop the hemorrhaging of his career.

One of the few bright spots in Nick’s present life is his relationship with the Westbrook family. One of the young barristers Mr. Westbrook befriends and mentors, Nick has been welcomed into the Westbrook home and treated almost as a member of the family. Three years ago, Nick, like many a young man before and after him, was stunned by Kate’s beauty and thought himself in love with her. But when he summoned the courage to tell Kate of his feelings, she made it impossible for him to speak, clearly communicating, without ever directly acknowledging his intentions, that he lacked the qualities she considered essential in her husband. Despite the blow to his pride, Nick accepts his role as family friend and brotherly confidant.

Kate has been working assiduously to win the approbation of Lady Harringdon, wife of her father’s oldest brother and the current earl. When her work finally pays off and she receives an invitation to pay her aunt a call, Kate is elated. Hoping that Lady Harringdon, who has successfully settled her own daughters in appropriate marriages, may be tempted by Kate’s beauty to do the same for her, Kate is dismayed when she learns that her aunt’s idea of help is to find Kate not a husband but work as a lady’s companion.

It is Nick who encourages Kate to turn the balls and card parties she will be attending as part of Lady Harringdon’s training her as a companion into a husband hunt, teasing her that she can surely capture a duke. Kate assures him that she will settle for a duke. Teasing aside, taking Nick’s advice soon brings Kate to the attention of a baron, the same lord who is considering hiring Nick to tutor him in argument and public speaking, a position that could serve as the first step on the political ladder Nick longs to climb. But as Kate’s long cherished plans have their best chance of reaching fruition, she comes to realize her heart is leading her in a different direction.

A Woman Entangled is a quieter, less dramatic book than Grant’s earlier offerings, but it has the same level of complexity, the same layered characterization, and the same rich prose that characterized her first two books. Kate and Nick may be more ordinary than the leads in the other books, but they are complicated, contradictory, flawed characters nonetheless. Kate’s social climbing ambition makes her a less than appealing character at points in the story, but underlying her desire to win acceptance from her father’s family is a conflict addressed by no less than Jane Austen, as Grant indicates with the Austen allusions.

Two passages are central to understanding Kate’s point of view. One comes early in the novel when Kate considers how unalike she and her sister Viola are:

Kate…loved her sister. Indeed she loved her whole family. But was it so unreasonable of her to crave a life in which people valued courtesy, consideration, and etiquette, and recognized that there was more to be thought of, when delivering a letter, than whether the person on the other end could afford to pay the postage? Was it so wrong for her to want to not be nothing to people who shared her name and her blood?
…if she were ever to write a novel, it would be the opposite of a love story. Her hero and heroine would choose duty over their hearts’ desire, that their children need never be taxed for a romantic indulgence that was none of their own.
… A beautiful woman did well to be heartless. And if she hadn’t quite attained the state herself, at least she could make such a show as would convince all the rest of the world.
Kate considers herself a pragmatist. She wants a “good marriage,” one based on sensible, rational choices, rather than a “happy marriage,” one based on feelings. She clearly demonstrates her understanding of the different kinds of marriages in a conversation with Nick.

Kate: “I’ve pinned all my hopes on making a good marriage.”

Nick: “You have stringent ideas of what constitutes a good marriage. Myself I know of no better union than the one to which you owe your existence.”

Kate: “My parents have a happy marriage. That’s not the same.”

If Kate seems shallow, Nick seems hard and unforgiving. He loves his brother Will. He admits that he and the rest of the family lived with fear while Will was risking his life on the battlefield. Yet in self-interest, he cuts Will out of his life in the same way that Westbrook’s family cut him off. But Nick is not a bad man. He is a good man who is forced to make a tough choice and chooses professional and social survival over family feeling. He wounds himself as well as his brother by his choice, and he feels guilty. Both Kate and Nick grow and change as the story moves toward its conclusion, as readers want their heroes and heroines to do. Only imperfect beings are capable of growth.
I would be remiss if I failed to add that Grant uses secondary characters to enrich and expand the world of her novel. The Westbrook family is particularly delightful, especially Viola, a disciple of Mary Wollstonecraft and an aspiring author passionate about her work in progress, an update of Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. Viola deserves her own story. I also had great admiration for Baron Barclay and Louisa Smith, the aristocratic wallflower who befriends Kate. I’d love to see more of them as well.

Romance fiction is filled with tales of aristocrats who marry outside their class and somehow avoid the usual consequences of that choice. I have delighted in many such stories, quite willingly suspending disbelief. Many of these books are cherished keepers. But I think it’s worth taking note of a novel that shows a more realistic view, including the effects on the generations that follow of marriages that may be happy but may not be “good.” I highly recommend this book. It’s a beautifully written novel, a darn good story, and a different slant on an old trope.