Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Coming Attractions

We may be on the downward slope of summer but things are just starting to heat up here on the blog.  Don't miss a day of the fun August is bringing to The Romance Dish!

Thursday, August 1st brings a new book reviewer to the Dish!  We're delighted to welcome J. Perry Stone to our team of guest reviewers.  Her first review, Any Duchess Will Do by Tessa Dare will post on August 1st.  We hope you'll stop by and give her a warm welcome.

You'll want to be here on Friday, August 2nd when Andrea brings us another comprehensive list of the new book releases for the coming month.  There are some awesome books coming out and you won't want to miss your favorites!

On Wednesday, August 7th, we'll be making our reservations for our most anticipated new books of September.  Yes, that's right.  September!  Already!  

Join us Thursday, August 8th as we spotlight contemporary author, Jenny Colgan.  Jenny's newest book, Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe, was released on July 2nd.

Marilyn Baron blogs with us on Friday, August 9th.  Marilyn's April release, Under the Moon Gate, has been getting rave reviews.

Trish Milburn returns on Saturday, August 10th with a new column on Young Adult fiction.  Don't miss what Trish has to say about this fast growing sub-genre of romance! 

On Tuesday, August 20th, we welcome historical romance author Kieran Kramer!  We'll have an interview with Kieran and share information about her upcoming book, Say Yes to the Duke.

Catherine Bybee will be here Wednesday, August 21st as part of her FiancĂ© by Friday blog tour. We hope you'll be here too!  

Saturday, August 24th brings Anna Campbell back to The Romance Dish with her monthly Second Helping reviews.  Can't wait to see what she's dishing about this time!

Anna returns for a guest author visit on Monday, August 26th to celebrate the release of her next book, A Rake's Midnight Kiss

Kat Martin rounds out the month when she blogs with us on Wednesday, August 28th.  Kat's next book, Against the Mark, hits the stores on August 27th.

Join us for these events and more throughout the month of August!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Guest Review - - The Devil of Clan Sinclair

The Devil of Clan Sinclair
By Karen Ranney
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: July 30, 2013

Virginia Anderson is the only child of a wealthy American industrialist. She grew up at Cliff House, the family home in the state of New York. Her mother died giving birth to Virginia, and her father was a distant, rarely seen figure throughout her childhood. Virginia’s life was largely interior and isolated except for her governesses from whom she often hid. When she reached marriageable age, her father insisted on taking her to England to find her a title. His first choice was a duke, but he had to settle for an earl—Lawrence Taylor, Earl of Barrett. What mattered was that his son-in-law held a title. It didn’t matter at all that Virginia had fallen in love with a Scotsman, a man with whom she could talk and laugh, a man who made her feel beautiful.

Macrath Sinclair is a self-made man, an inventor and newspaper owner who has amassed a fortune he is bent on increasing. Having grown up poor, Macrath is determined to build an empire so great that he and his family will never again do without the things they need and want. The fierce and fearless Macrath, known as the Devil of Drumvagen in the tiny Scottish village where he makes his home is an unlikely match for the shy, diffident Virginia, but they bring out the best in one another. But Macrath is forced to give up on bringing Virginia to Drumvagen when he receives a note saying Virginia has chosen a title over what he could offer her.

Virginia lacks the means and the courage to defy her father when he announces that he has arranged her marriage to Lawrence Traylor, Earl of Barrett. The exchange of title and money brings no happiness to either party. The earl loathes his bride so much that he can’t bear to touch her, and the only thing that keeps Virginia from total despair is the affection in which she holds her two young sisters-in-law. Virginia has been a wife scarcely a year when the sickly Lawrence dies and makes her a widow, an impoverished widow at that since Lawrence wills all the money he has not spent to a “male heir of his body.” With no male heir, all the money Virginia brought to the marriage and all she inherited at her father’s death and all the houses and land Lawrence purchased with those funds will go to his nearest male relative, a man with seven children, an unpleasant wife, and no inclination to support the Traylor women.   Her mother-in-law persuades Virginia that their only hope of survival is for Virginia to find a man to impregnate her and hope for a son they can pass off as Lawrence’s. Virginia can think of only Macrath. With her mother-in-law’s help, Virginia travels to Scotland. After a rapturous reunion that allows Macrath to believe that will be wed at last, she leaves him and returns to England.

Even then an angry and betrayed Macrath can’t forget Virginia. He tries to, but after months in Australia, he arrives in England determined to see her. Instead, he learns that Virginia is seriously ill, having barely survived smallpox, and that she has a child. Macrath knows the child is his, and he kidnaps his son, taking him, the child’s wet nurse, and nursery maid back to Scotland. Motherhood has given Virginia a backbone, and she follows them to Scotland. No one is going to separate her from her child, who is the Earl of Barrett in the eyes of the world. The battle ensues, as Virginia and Macrath fight one another, their own emotions, and a common enemy before arriving at their HEA.
Did you ever read a book and know that you are just not the audience for it? That was my position with this book. I don’t share the passion may of my friends have for Scottish romances, I like strong heroines, I prefer understated drama to the spectacular, and I’m a tough sale for the impregnated-by-another-man plot. The Devil of Clan Sinclair is a well-written book, overflowing with high drama and passion and a truly creepy villain. I have no doubt that some readers will love it. I didn’t.

I struggled to suspend disbelief at a dozen points, including the convenient-for-the-plot death of Virginia’s father, the conviction that the child would be a boy, and Virginia’s two trips to Scotland. I can imagine some readers screaming about Virginia’s spinelessness for the first half of the book, but, given her nature, her upbringing, and the realities of women’s legal position in the 1860s, I could accept her lack of open defiance. But I hated that even within herself, she is passive until she becomes the mother bear.

For me, Macrath is the redeeming factor. I have a fondness for self-made heroes, and I loved his intelligence, his loyalty, and his stubborn love for Virginia. His reaction to his devil title is delightful, and his scenes with his son are definitely aww moments. He is a great hero. The best thing about Virginia is that she’s smart enough to fall for him.

So, my recommendation on this one is that if you love Scottish romances with lots of angst and drama, you may find this a rewarding read. If, like me, you prefer imagination’s tune to have a few more notes of reality, and you prefer subtlety to spectacle, this one probably won't be a book you want to rush to read.


Monday, July 29, 2013

Today's Special - - Heather Ashby

It's our pleasure to welcome debut author, Heather Ashby to the Romance Dish today!  Heather is a Navy veteran whose mother was one of the original WAVES in World War II. After leaving the service, Heather taught school and raised a family while accompanying her Navy husband around the United States, Japan, and the Middle East. In gratitude for her son’s safe return from Afghanistan and Iraq, she now writes military romance novels, donating half her royalties to Fisher House Foundation – Helping Military Families. She lives in Atlantic Beach, Florida with her retired Naval Engineer husband. Contact Heather at

Please give Heather a warm welcome!

Today was the day I knew I had succeeded as an author.
It had nothing to do with awards or sales or rankings or number of reviews. It came in an email from a reader. It came in a photograph of a woman in desert camouflage reading my book in the middle of the barren landscape of Afghanistan.

It came in the following words: “Thank you for writing Forgive & Forget.


This woman is a Lieutenant Commander in the United States Navy, a general surgeon in the Medical Corps, deployed with our Marines in Afghanistan. She writes, “We are on call all the time, but thankfully have not been that busy.” Reading between those lines gives me shivers thinking of the horrors this woman might face on a daily basis. She mentions in her email: “Reading romance novels keeps me sane.”

I understand her sentiment. My son joined the Army pre-9/11, so he did not expect to spend his twentieth birthday searching caves for Taliban or his twenty-first taking Baghdad. A military veteran myself, I read military romance novels during his deployments, because I knew no matter what happened, there would be a happy ending. I devoured Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooter series, along with books by Catherine Mann, Lindsay McKenna, and Merline Lovelace. I swore I would thank those authors someday for helping me through those scary years. I have since thanked all of them.

My son not only returned safe and whole from both tours of combat, but he came home a mature respectful, and responsible man. I looked for ways to show my gratitude for these blessings and was led to write military romance novels. Being a Navy veteran, I chose to pen stories to entertain our women in the fleet. Hence my “Love in the Fleet” series was born. Forgive & Forget launched last week and Forget Me Not releases in December, with two more to follow in 2014.

My original vision was to write books that I thought young women would want to read on board a ship when they climbed into their “racks”—their thirty cubic foot sleeping spaces. Something that would “take them away” for a few hours. And here is a Naval officer—a surgeon whose job it is to put our Marines back together—taking a respite from the drudgery, hazards, challenges, and sadness of war, sitting on rocks, enclosed by a barbed-wired perimeter, reading my book. And telling me, “Thank you?”

She’s thanking me?

I had planned to write this blog explaining how my stories differ from most military romances. I write love stories about ordinary people. The Navy just happens to be the setting. My civilian readers say, “I was delightfully surprised. I expected a shoot-em-up with Navy SEALs, weapons, and violence.” But these readers weren’t looking for that. They were looking for a solid love story with just enough conflict and suspense to keep the hero and heroine apart. And they found it on my fictional aircraft carrier, the USS Blanchard. They said, “I felt like I’d vicariously joined the Navy and I learned so much!”

PJ was expecting 400-600 words on that topic today.

But instead, after receiving an email from a Navy doctor who impacted my writing career and my life so much today, I wrote about it instead. Thank you, readers for letting me share this defining moment—that regardless of my ratings or sales figures or number of reviews—I know I have succeeded as a writer.

~Heather Ashby

PJ jumping in to say, "Who cares about 400-600 words on why your books are different?"  You've told us why they're important!  Many thanks to you, Heather and to your reader for sharing today's story with us. And thank you to you, your son, your reader, all members of the military and their families for all you give to our country.  Your service is appreciated more than I can say.

Readers, tell us about a circumstance when romance novels kept you sane.  

Do you have friends or family serving in the military?  

Do you enjoy reading books set within the military world?  

Heather has graciously offered a copy of her book, Forgive & Forget to one randomly chosen person leaving a comment today.  (U.S., APO and FPO addresses only please)  Heather will also send another free copy to a service member designated by the winner.  Don't know a service member?  No problem. Heather can recommend several!   


When Navy journalist Hallie McCabe meets Philip Johnston at a picnic, she is drawn to his integrity. He is a gentleman—and an officer. From her ship. Aware of the code against fraternization between officers and enlisted, Hallie conceals her Navy status, hopeful she and her secret will stay hidden on their aircraft carrier until she can figure out a way for them to sail off into the sunset together.
Caught in an emotional firestorm, Hallie faces a future without the man she loves, a career-shattering secret from the past, and the burden of being the one person who can prevent a terrorist attack on the ship she has sworn to protect with her life. Prepare to set sail for the Persian Gulf with a crew of 4,999 sailors and officers—and one terrorist in search of his own kind of Paradise.

Sunday, July 28, 2013


Signed copy of True Love by Jude Deveraux - Marnee Bailey


Package of books and swag from Finally Friday post - catslady


Package of books and swag from our RITA post - Jane


Signed books and swag from Avon Party post - Savannah
Signed books and swag from Avon Party post - Trish J
Signed books and swag from Avon Party post - Cheryl C


The Hunter by Monica McCarty - Anita H
The Hunter by Monica McCarty - Laurie G
Signed copy of The Hunter by Monica McCarty - Ms Hellion


"Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch" blog winners are:


Winners from "Authors and Readers and Books...Oh, My"

Pat L

Our "The Party's Over" winner is:


Congratulations to all our winners!  Thanks again for hanging out with us during our journey through
RWA 2013!

To claim your prizes, please send your full name and mailing address to us at
theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Party's Over But The Memories Linger On...

Today marks the end of our RWA 2013 National Conference blogs. We hope you've enjoyed taking this journey with us. We're wrapping things up with some overall highlights of the conference, including one of our favorite parts:  RWA Glam! Sit back, enjoy and be sure to leave a comment to be in the running for today's RWA prize!

PJ:  It's always a thrill to share first-time book signings with friends but this year was special in that I had five good friends signing their books at RWA National for the very first time. Congratulations to Manda Collins, Terri Osburn (both pictured in yesterday's blog), Nancy Northcott, Joan Kayse and Suzanne Ferrell.  It was such a pleasure to share this experience with you!

Nancy Northcott
Joan Kayse

Suzanne Ferrell

Andrea here! This year’s RWA conference was an absolutely wonderful experience for me. I have so many highlights; I don’t know where to start! I’ll just jump right in and try not to be too longwinded. J

Tuesday’s highlight – My first highlight of the conference came before I had even reached the Marriott Marquis Hotel. Because I live so close, my husband and I had planned that he would drop me off at the hotel to save on parking fees. When I found out that Lisa and Marni, my and PJ’s roomies, were flying in around the time we’d plan to arrive, I told them we’d pick them up on the way. What a thrill to finally meet Lisa Lin after knowing her online for years! She is just as sweet as her online persona. And I knew right away that Marni Bates was going to be a fun gal! PJ got there right before we did and we all checked in together—perfect timing!

PJ:  One of my favorite experiences at last week's conference was sharing an elevator with an unpublished writer who was practicing her book pitch for an upcoming appointment with an editor. I offered to let her practice on me.  By the time we reached my floor, I was giddy with excitement about her book (What can I say?  I ♥ hockey!).  We exited the elevator together, she going right and me turning left toward my room.  A few minutes later, I was trying to figure out why my key card wasn't opening the door.  I quick look at the room number gave me the answer.  I was so excited about her book pitch, I got off on the wrong floor! I got an email from her this week letting me know the editor had been excited too.  She was asked to submit a full manuscript. Best wishes to PJ Ryley! Maybe some of that kismet that put two PJs on the elevator together will rub off on your manuscript.  Here's hoping I'll get to read that book one of these days!

Andrea:  Wednesday’s highlights – Hands down, the Literacy Autographing was a high point (as we blogged about yesterday), but before the signing I was introduced to an author I have known online for many years and had yet to meet…until now. Cathy Maxwell is just as funny and bubbly in person as she is on the Internet. I just adore her! I got to chat with her a little more at the Avon publisher signing and at the Avon party.

Andrea, PJ and Cathy Maxwell

Andrea's Thursday’s highlights – Thursday was chock full of highlights! It was another day in which I met online friends in person for the first time! PJ and I had lunch at the historic Mary Mac’s Tea Room with our online friends Sharlene Moore, Flora Buchler, Ruth Atkinson, and Hope Stern. The food was delicious and the company was even better. And I even got to meet Flora’s husband, George, and Ruth’s husband, Harry! Later that evening, PJ and I attended Forever Romance's 10 year anniversary party—more good food and company—and then headed over to the Margaret Mitchell House for a special panel discussion with Avon authors Rachel Gibson, Sarah MacLean, Eloisa James, Cathy Maxwell, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, and Kerrelyn Sparks. What a fun night!

PJ and Andrea at Forever party.

PJ:  Like many readers these days, I not only read books in print but also enjoy many on my e-reader.  It's fun to have my favorite books signed by the authors who write them and those titles hold a special place in my home.  But what to do about all those keeper books sitting on my e-reader?  Wouldn't it be great if I could have those signed by the authors too? Well, wish no more! At this year's conference, I joined other excited readers as Avon Books and Autography LLC fulfilled our wishes as detailed in a July 24th press release: 

On Saturday July 20, at 10:45 am, Avon Books and Autography LLC made publishing history, hosting the first 20-author digital signing, the first such signing of this magnitude, at the Romance Writers of America Conference in Atlanta.  According to Garry Martin, CMO and Managing Partner of Autography, more than 575 signed e-books were distributed to romance readers in the span of the 45-minute promotional event.

Here's how it worked.  Each of the twenty authors had an iPad or other digital tablet with an Autography application.  I was asked to key in my email address.  Using a stylus, the author then signed the tablet screen, exactly as she would have signed a print book with a pen.  Hitting "enter" sent me an email which was received within seconds.  Upon opening the email, I was asked to select the type of format I wanted (mobi or epub) then the book was downloaded.  Voila! Signed copy of  my favorite books on my PC, Kindle, Nook...whichever device I selected.

Here's a photo of Tessa Dare signing a digital copy of her novella, "Beauty and the Blacksmith" for me.

And here's a photo of the autographed page on my Kindle.

How awesome is that?  Thank you, Avon Book and Autography, LLC!

Andrea, back again with Friday’s highlights – For me, the top spot for Friday was the Awards Luncheon speech by Kristan Higgins. One minute we were laughing, the next we were shedding tears. What an amazing woman whose books I adore! If you haven’t read her books, you are missing out! That night, PJ and I met Kim, Flora, George, Flora’s and George’s son Will, Vanessa Kelly and her husband Randy, and Debbie Mazzuca (aka Debbie Mason) at an Italian restaurant—more fun and good food! (Are you sensing a theme, here? lol) After dinner, PJ, Kim, and I took a cab to the Avon party. Avon always throws a GREAT party and this year they had a fun photo booth!

Andrea and Jill Shalvis

Elizabeth Hoyt and Andrea

Saturday’s highlights – The day started with more informative workshops and crazy-fun publisher signings and I was tickled to see Elizabeth Hoyt, Jill Shalvis, and catch up with historical author Alexandra Hawkins and steampunk author Kate Cross (aka Kathryn Smith)! But the ultimate high point was the RITA and Golden Heart ceremony on Saturday evening. What a thrill it was to be there to see Eloisa James win a long-awaited and much-deserved RITA award! She won for her novella, Seduced by a Pirate. And an added bonus was seeing Sarah MacLean win the RITA in the Historical Romance category for A Rogue by Any Other Name, which I loved and reviewed here at the Romance Dish!

Alexandra Hawkins and Andrea

Kate Cross (Kathryn Smith) and Andrea

If you couldn't tell, I had a marvelous time at this year's conference and look forward to doing it all over again soon!  ~ Andrea


It's time for RWA GLAM!  It's a highlight I look forward to at every conference.  The shoes!  The dresses! I could go on and on...but, instead, let's just take a peek at some of the high style of RWA 13.

That's it, Dishies!  Thanks for going along with us on another fantastic RWA National Conference experience.  If you'd like to see more of PJ's conference photos, check out her facebook page, RWA Conference 2013 album.

If you could go to any conference, which one would you choose?  RWA?  Romantic Times? DragonCon? RWA Australia, ComiCon?  Something related to education or a hobby, like knitting?  Let's say time and money are unlimited.  Where would you go?  

One randomly chosen person will receive a package of books and swag from our conference stash.  (U.S. and Canadian addresses only)