Friday, November 29, 2013

Coming Attractions

With Thanksgiving in the rear view mirror, we're looking ahead with joy and anticipation to my favorite month of the year:  December!  Chock full of holiday fun, December is the month that never fails to tap into my inner child.  Along with good friends and good food (my baking has already begun), we also have great books and interesting guests to look forward to.  Here's what's coming to the Romance Dish in December.

The Vanessa Kelly Blog Tour makes a stop on Monday, December 2nd. Vanessa's e-novella, Lost in a Royal Kiss kicks off her new Renegade Royals series.

On Tuesday, December 3rd, we turn the spotlight on Katharine Ashe's charming novella, "Kisses, She Wrote: A Christmas Romance."  Fans of Ashe's The Prince Catchers series won't want to miss this one.

Wednesday, December 4th brings a return visit from military romance author, Heather Ashby.  Who doesn't love a sexy hero in uniform, like Navy Seahawk pilot, Brian "Skylark" Crawford, the hero in Ashby's December 3rd release, Forget Me Not.

Thursday, December 5th, Tracy Solheim's Blog Tour comes to the Dish.  Tracy's new contemporary, Foolish Games launches on December 3rd.

While you're making your list for Santa, don't forget to check out Andrea's list of New Releases for December on Friday, December 6th.

Monday, December 9th brings contemporary author Lisa Van Allen to our cozy corner of the world.  If you like sisters, knitters and a bit of magic, you'll want to be sure to check out Lisa's book, The Wishing Thread.

Vanessa Kelly re-joins us on Wednesday, December 11th for an interview with Sir Anthony Tait, the hero of Lost in a Royal Kiss.

Debut author, Erica Monroe joins us for an interview on Friday, December 13th.  Erica's book, A Dangerous Invitation, hits the streets December 14th.

On Wednesday, December 18th,  Maggie Robinson and Elyssa Patrick join PJ for an interview.  Maggie and Elyssa have a holiday duet, Holiday for Two, coming out this month.

Anna Campbell joins us on Tuesday, December 24th with another Second Helping review.

Monday, December 30th brings debut author Alison DeLaine to the Dish.  Alison's book, A Gentleman 'Til Midnight, sets sail for the high seas with a ship's captain heroine and the hero she rescues.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

PJ and I are spending today with family and friends (and some really good food!) and want to wish everyone a safe, blessed, and happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Guest Review -- No Good Duke Goes Unpunished

No Good Duke Goes Unpunished
Rules of Scoundrels Series, Book 3
By Sarah MacLean
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: November 26, 2013

I first heard about Sarah MacLean when I was at Lady Jane’s Salon the spring of 2010, when she read from her romance debut, Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake. Just from the title alone, how can you not love it?!  I loved the premise of the book, and the humor, and by the time she finished reading, I was sold. I grabbed and bought a copy of Nine Rules right on the spot. I’ve been a Sarah MacLean fan ever since. I loved her Love By Numbers series, and her Rules of Scoundrels series is just as good. But her latest, No Good Duke Goes Unpunished, may be my favorite book by her to date and arguably, Sarah’s best book to date. 

The Rules of Scoundrels focuses on the four owners of The Fallen Angel, a Regency gaming hell/casino, and each book opens with an owner’s fall from grace. In the prologue to No Good Duke, we find out how William Harrow (aka Temple), the Duke of Lamont, came to have the moniker of “The Killer Duke”.  Accused of killing Mara Lowe, his father’s bride, on her wedding day, Temple is shocked, angry, and bewildered when Mara shows up in the flesh, very much alive. Needless to say, Temple demands answers, and isn’t in a forgiving or generous frame of mind when Mara asks him for help. Temple is determined to clear his name, restore his reputation, and she’s going to help him do it, come hell or high water.  But throughout the course of the book, his desire for revenge and vengeance against Mara begins to change and he comes to like, respect, admire, and love the woman who’d turned his life inside out and upside down. 

I absolutely loved Temple. Despite his harsh physical exterior, Sarah expertly paints a picture of what a toll Mara’s supposed murder took on him. It caused him to doubt himself, and that doubt has eaten away at him for years. Temple turned to bare-knuckle fighting because he was big and strong, and it gave him a way to channel his emotions and tame the demons inside, even if temporarily.  Temple understandably harbors a lot of anger and resentment over what Mara’s deception cost him, but he gradually makes peace with the past and starts looking forward to the future. For so long, Temple has suffered under the weight of being seen only as the “Killer Duke” –a novelty whose brute strength and body is a mere object of lust, fear, and fascination for London society. At long last, in Mara, he has someone who loves, trusts, and believes in him and sees him as he truly is. Through Mara, Temple regains his life because he reclaimed his humanity and decency for himself. We come to see that he is a caring, loyal, honorable, kind, and charming man who is protective of those he cares about.  The scenes with Temple, the boys, and Lavender perfectly exemplify what I mean, and they warmed my heart, as well as made me laugh. 

Desperate circumstances have forced Mara Lowe to come out of hiding and come face to face with the man accused of her murder. At first glance, it’s easy to make Mara unlikeable. After all, one could consider what she did cowardly and unforgiveable. But Sarah shows us that Mara had her reasons, she feels true remorse and guilt for what happened to Temple, and indeed, she didn’t escape the past twelve years unscathed. I liked that Mara held her own with Temple and the other owners of the Angel, and wanted to make things right.  I admired her resilient spirit and determination.  Sarah has said that she deliberately made the heroines of this series the ones to come to the hero’s rescue, not the other way around and I loved the scene when Mara rises to the challenge, and steps up to protect and rescue Temple. 

The relationship between Temple and Mara was great. Sarah paced the story very well so that their emotional journey felt realistic. Given the darker and more angsty tone of the book and series, Temple and Mara had a lot of scars and demons to overcome and Sarah deals with it all deftly. The romance was wonderful too-the chemistry between them was intense and combustible with the constant push and pull Temple and Mara engage in. Sarah did a great job of building the sexual tension and attraction between Mara and Temple layer by layer where they both fight and give in to their feelings every step of the way. But my favorite part was how Sarah used their growing feelings for each other as a way for Temple and Mara to lower their guard and be open and vulnerable with each other. Their path towards the truth mirrored their path to true love, and I enjoyed the parallels. 

I can’t recommend No Good Duke highly enough. It is a wonderful story of love, redemption, forgiveness, trust, and starting new. I absolutely can’t wait for the last book in the series and to find out what Sarah has in store for Chase. 


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Today's Special -- An Interview with Alexandra Hawkins

It is my pleasure to welcome Alexandra Hawkins back to the hot seat! Alexandra is the USA Today bestselling author of the sexy Lords of Vice series for St. Martin’s Press and also writes under the name Barbara Pierce. You can check out her website for more information on her books and her other nom de plume. Plus, you can check out my review of her latest book, Twilight with the Infamous Earl, here! Alexandra was gracious enough to answer my nosy questions, so without further ado… 


Thanks for joining us today, Alexandra! Congratulations on your latest release, Twilight with the Infamous Earl—out TODAY! Can you share a little bit about this story with our readers? 

Thanks for inviting me to drop by today!  Twilight with the Infamous Earl focuses on everyone’s favorite Lord of Vice—Frost—and he is troubled.  For the first time in his life, Frost realizes that cannot count on his friends.  He and the other Lords of Vice cannot even agree on how to handle some problems that have developed at Nox.  As a result, there’s been some discussion of shutting the club down.  Frost is vehemently opposed to this decision, and feels marriage has softened his friends.  It is at this low point that Emily Cavell enters his life. 

Because Twilight with the Infamous Earl is the last book in a seven-book series, readers have had to wait for Frost’s story. Did you know from the beginning what the plot of his story would be? 

I had developed a bare bones outline of his story when I pitched the entire series to my editor.  I didn’t sit down and fill in the details until I had finished book three. 

Very interesting! As you know, I loved this story but am sad to see the series end! How easy or difficult was it to plan and write a seven-book series? And as its writer and creator, was it sad to say good-bye? 

Yes, it was bittersweet finishing the draft for Frost’s book.  These wonderful men and their ladies have been part of my life for five years.  I’m thrilled that I was given the opportunity to write the entire series, and I’m content to let the series end on a high note.  Even so, I’m going to miss the Lords of Vice. 

Is planning a new series difficult?  Since I’ve been working on developing a new one—Yes!  It’s exciting, too.  It takes time to research and world build.  I’m a plotter so I like to have many of the details worked out in advance before I sit down to write the proposal. 

I’m so glad you were able to finish the series, too. J I love bad boys and Frost is definitely a bad boy. I really enjoyed the banter between him and Emily. What is it about her that finally brings Frost around to consider the almighty M-word (marriage)? 

In the beginning of the book, Frost is feeling disconnected from his friends.  All of them had married and started families, and he just didn’t see himself playing an active role in their lives.  Although it was convenient to blame them, his feelings had nothing to do with his friends, but they were a sign of his growing discontentment with his life.  Meeting Emily changed the status quo.  She challenged and infuriated him.  She seemed immune to his charm, and it bemused him that a smile and a kind word from her meant more to him than seducing a dozen women.  When he finally falls in love, he holds nothing back.  He wants to bind her to him in all ways—and that includes marriage. 

Perfectly said!  

Thanks to my son, I have become somewhat of a history buff in recent years (though mostly U.S. History) and have found much of it absolutely fascinating. What kind of research did you have to do for the Lords of Vice series? What was the most interesting fact you found? 

After sixteen books, I try to find something unique to research for each book so I’m always learning new about the Regency period.  Sometimes, it’s something really mundane like wallpaper, silver, and door knobs, or I might spend my time researching a specific building like the British Museum or a locale like Gretna Green.  I love going off on research tangents, but it’s not very helpful when I’m on deadline. 

LOL! If you could go back in time to when the Lords of Vice roamed London, what one item would you insist on taking with you? 

Just one?  Okay, I’ll go with the first thing that popped in my head.  A good toothbrush. 

That is a great choice. I would probably pick the same thing! 

Previously published under
her Barbara Pierce name
You recently revealed that you previously wrote books under the name Barbara Pierce. Why did you change names? How hard was it to keep your new identity secret for so long? 

I changed my name at my publisher’s request.  At the time, I had written nine books and while my books had won awards and garnered great reviews, I had yet to hit the bestseller lists.  My publisher thought repackaging my “brand” would help, and he was right.  Many of my Lords of Vice books hit the USA Today bestseller list. 

Was it difficult keeping my identity a secret?  At times.  I continued to receive email from my Barbara Pierce fans so I felt guilty that I couldn’t go into any detail about my current “project”.  On the other side, I had Alexandra Hawkins fans who wanted to know if I had written other books.  So it’s been cathartic to finally share my secret with everyone. 

What’s up next for you? 

Now that I’ve finished the Lords of Vice books, I’m up for contract.  I’ve been putting together a proposal for a new series and I hope to be working on book one soon. 

I can’t wait!!! Thank you so much for your time, Alexandra! Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers? 

I loved your question about the one item I’d bring, so let’s ask readers—If you could go back in time to Regency London, what item would you insist on taking with you?

Oh, I can’t wait to hear what others would take with them! TWO lucky commenters who answer the question will win their pick of one of the Lords of Vice books by Alexandra Hawkins! The contest is open to all!


Monday, November 25, 2013

Jennifer Saints Winners

The winners of a free e-book from Jennifer Saints are



Laurie G

Congratulations, ladies!  Please send your email address to us at
theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Jane Scores Very Highly Indeed!

by Anna Campbell

Are you a fan of sports romances? When I started writing romance, I targeted Harlequin and the wisdom back then (the 1980s and 1990s) was that sports romances don't sell.

Hmm, not sure if that's the case anymore. I've noticed that it's a growing genre!

It's weird that I'm so fond of these stories. I'm not a huge sports fan, but I love a good romance set in the world of elite athletes and the women who tame them. Football definitely isn't my thing, for example, but I'd crawl on hands and knees over broken glass to get the latest Susan Elizabeth Phillips Chicago Stars book.

I'm particularly looking forward to my Bandita Buddy Anna Sugden's debut with Harlequin SuperRomance, A PERFECT DISTRACTION set around Anna's beloved hockey players. I'm writing this review a bit ahead of time so I still have a couple of months to wait for Anna's first book! 

So while I'm waiting, I picked up Rachel Gibson's SEE JANE SCORE, book 2 of her Seattle Chinooks series (book 1 is SIMPLY IRRESISTIBLE which has now joined my TBR pile after I had such fun with Jane).

This was a really fun read and it had a few nice surprises along the way. Jane Alcott (brings to mind pictures of LITTLE WOMEN and JANE EYRE!) is an outwardly staid 30-year-old journalist who moonlights as Honey Pie, an erotic diarist for a men's magazine. When the book opens, life in Seattle really isn't taking her anywhere. Romance is disappointing. Her career is pottering along without hitting the heights. Until she gets the opportunity to travel with the Chinooks as a sports reporter. Jane, who is a pretty gutsy girl, jumps at the chance.

Unfortunately, the team doesn't want her along. They go out of their way to isolate her, stymie her reporting efforts, and make her feel uncomfortable - there are a couple of very funny scenes when Jane forces her way into the locker room after a game. Jane's particular bugbear is highly paid French Canadian goalie Luc Martineau. As far as Jane's concerned, Luc's good looks are only skin deep. Which is a pity when she develops a Mount Rainier size crush on him, despite her poor opinion of his behavior and his principles.

Luc is a man on a mission. He's on the comeback trail after injury and a pain medication addiction. He knows that as he's now in his thirties, his place with the Chinooks is his last chance to make it big in hockey. Not only that, he's struggling to make a home for a much younger sister who treats him as a hostile stranger. With all this going on, the last thing he wants or needs is a smart-mouthed, prickly, repressed (he has no idea she writes erotica!) woman who rubs him up the wrong way but who he can't get out of his head.

Yep, you got it. This is an attraction of opposites romance. I always enjoy those. I love it when people who outwardly have nothing in common end up making huge beneficial changes in the other person's life. I love watching the hero and heroine fall in love, usually gradually and always against their will with the last person they ever thought they'd want. I love the way this particular trope lends itself to clever, snarky dialogue. SEE JANE SCORE definitely 'scores' in the dialogue department. You'll find yourself laughing out loud as Jane and Luc battle desperately to put the other person in their place - which as far as each of them is concerned is on the next continent. 

I mentioned a few surprises along the way. I won't spoil the story by listing them, but one of the many things I really liked is that, unlike the pattern of many sports stories, Luc is pretty together, it's Jane who needs to undergo the biggest life lessons. Often in these books, the males are the wild cards, but in this case, Luc's already undergone his baptism of fire with all he went through before joining the Chinooks. He's refreshingly sensible for a romance hero!

As you can probably gather, Jane scored a hit for me. I suspect she would for you too!

So are you a fan of sports stories? Any favorites? Any theories as to why they're flavor of the month now, whereas ten or so years ago, they were a hard sell?

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Review - - Somewhere to Dream

Somewhere to Dream
By Genevieve Graham
Publisher:  Berkley
Release Date: November 5, 2013

1740's South Carolina

They call her Shadow Girl.  Rescuing Adelaide from certain death, the Cherokee have accepted her as a cherished member of their tribe, accepting as a gift her ability to foretell the future in her dreams. But what the Cherokee consider a blessing, Adelaide views as a curse.  She's haunted by events of the past and fears her dreams, forcing herself to awaken before they reach their conclusion. When the warrior to whom she has been betrothed is killed, Adelaide grieves her friend along with the rest of the tribe.  But not long after, the warrior's brother returns to the village with a captive, a white man whom the Cherokee warrior believes carries the spirit of his dead brother...a man Adelaide has "seen" before.

It was difficult to look away.  I'd never met the man before, but I knew those eyes so well they might have been with me all my life.  After he'd been cleaned a bit, I knew his hair would be golden, his body sleek and strong as a mountain cat's.  I had spent my life running from my dreams.  This man lying bleeding on the ground, blinking through the eyes that had haunted those dreams...he was as real as could be.

Life for Jesse Black has been filled with pain and humiliation.  Verbally and physically abused by his father, Jesse's only friend is the eccentric physician living in his town; a man who protected the child, taught him to read and convinced him that he could be a better man than his father.  Some lessons go deep however and, in Jesse's case, his father's hatred of Indians also lives in the son. So when Jesse is captured by the Cherokee, he does not go easily.  Expecting a short life at the hands of savages, Jesse is stunned to be told the spirit of the dead brother of the warrior who captured him lives in Jesse and, therefore, Jesse is now his brother and will become a Cherokee warrior.  And if that isn't enough, he discovers that he is now the betrothed of the quiet white girl who willingly lives in the Cherokee village.

Jesse plans to escape the Cherokee at the first opportunity.  Adelaide considers them her family, feels safe in their village and fears ever living among white men again.  Jesse fears becoming the kind of man his father is, the kind of man who changed a young Adelaide's life forever.  The two young people are drawn to one another, forming a tentative friendship that gradually deepens into something more profound, more lasting. But Jesse and Adelaide both have demons to confront and fears to overcome for the love that's gradually growing between them to have any hope of surviving.  They must learn to accept the people they are and are meant to be.  And they must learn to open themselves to what they can learn from others, even from those whom they have been taught to view as the enemy.

At a point in history when white settlers were moving into Native American territory and claiming (many would say stealing) the land that had been held by the Cherokee for generations, peace between the two was tenuous at best.  Graham captures the emotions of that time with exquisite skill.  As she has in her previous books, Graham has the ability to create a realistic sense of time and place that puts the reader in the minds of the people and midst of events that took place more than 200 years ago. This story is set in the Keowee Valley, an area in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains that is situated in the northwest corner of what is now South Carolina.  I know this area, and its history, well.  I've lived there for the better part of the past twenty years.  Graham has never been there and yet her words evoke the unique beauty and spirit of that area and its people, in particular the Cherokee who still call it home.

If you've never read a book by Genevieve Graham, I recommend picking one up today.  If you're a fan of Last of the Mohicans, I strongly suggest you begin with Somewhere to Dream.


Friday, November 22, 2013

Today's Special - - Jennifer Saints

It's a pleasure to welcome Jennifer Saints today.  Jennifer is a woman of many talents; writing books under three names in a variety of sub-genres.  She's here today to talk about her new book, Cocktail Cove, first in her new Frankly, My Dear contemporary series.  Set in Georgia, Cocktail Cove is sassy, humorous and heartwarming with plenty sizzle and a touch of suspense.  I enjoyed my 'visit' there and am already looking forward to another!

For more information about Jennifer, please visit her website.  

Take it away, Jennifer!

Every place has its own specialness, one derived from its culture and its people.  Some places are similar and other places stand out as uniquely different.  The South is one place that has no equal when it comes to simple charm, grace, and humor.  Like an exquisite wine or a beautiful perfume that has taken centuries to develop, the South is magical and I love writing books set here.
My Southern Steam novels began with the Weldon Brothers, a mixture of devilish bad boys who know how to seduce their fearless heroines.  With Savannah as a backdrop, Wild Irish Ride, Smooth Irish Seduction, and Hard Irish Luck set the stage for hot romances with a touch of suspense and humor.  And while there is much more to come from the Weldons ( A Weldon Family Christmas Novella in 12/13 and Hot Irish Lass in 2014) I wanted to share a story set a little closer to home with an unconventional heroine and an irresistible hero who was cut from the cloth of a true Southern gentleman.  In Cocktail Cove (Frankly, My Dear Series Book 1), Nikita Derringer and Ben Harding show us what love is like when life shakes you up and pours you over the rocks.
They both have hit rock bottom in their lives and they are both searching to escape.  She’s burying her marriage six feet under and he’s turned his back on his former life.  Neither of them have any intention of falling in love, but fate has something very delicious in mind for them.  James Weldon, who will have his story in Hot Irish Lass, makes an appearance in Cocktail Cove and paves the way for some interesting events in the future.  The story celebrates a few Southern traditions and has more than its share of Southernisms—old sayings that hold a grain of truth with a bushel full of humor.
So today, I hope you will share your favorite Southern tradition or Southernism.  I will give out free ebooks to a few lucky posters who come up with the most interesting Southern tradition and who make with laugh with a good old Southernism.
To give you an idea.  In Cocktail Cove Ben goes to confront his sisters, aunts, and grandmother about an important matter, but the estrogen troops walk all over him during the discussion and then rush out the door before he has his say.  He shouts at their departing car a Southernism that perfectly expresses his situation at that moment, “Just butter my butt and call me a biscuit.”
I hope you get the chance to enjoy my Southern Steam Novels (The Weldon Brothers Series and The Frankly, My Dear Series) and delve into the magical flavor of the South.
You can email me on my website at or send me a tweet @jenniferstgiles. I love hearing from readers. Your encouragement makes the long, lonely struggle of writing a book worth it.
Happy Reading and remember every day to dream, believe, create, inspire, love, heal, succeed and prosper.
    Love Jennifer Saints, aka Jennifer St. Giles, aka JL Saint.

Cocktail Cove
Frankly, My Dear (Book 1)
By Jennifer Saints
Novels Alive Publishing, LLC
Release Date:  November 10, 2013

When life shakes you up and pours you over the rocks…

Socialite Nikita Derringer is hiding from the mob because of a deal her ex made with the devil. That she accidentally did her ex in with her designer heels, is… beside the point.

Guilt ridden developer Ben Harding walked away from his lucrative big city job and is searching for redemption in the quiet solitude of his grandfather’s sacred fishing cove. But fate has something else in mind for them at cocktail cove. 

Throw in sex therapy for the masses, a bear of a dog and the deep end of passion and you’ve got a potent mix guaranteed to ignite your senses and fill your heart with love and laughter.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

More Than Words Winner

The winner of a copy of Harlequin's More Than Words, Volume 7 is:


Congratulations!  Please send your full name and mailing address to us at
theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

Forever e-Book Winner

The winner of the package of e-books from Forever is:

Kathleen O.

Congratulations, Kathleen!  Please send your email to us at
theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

New Releases winner!

The winner of a random book from my prize stash is:
Helen L.
Congratulations, Helen! Please send your full name and address to theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com with "Andrea's Winner" as the subject and I'll get your book in the mail. Thanks to everyone who stopped by!

Review -- Twilight with the Infamous Earl

Twilight with the Infamous Earl
Lords of Vice—Book 7
By Alexandra Hawkins
Publisher: St. Martin’s
Release Date: November 26, 2013


From the moment I started reading All Night with a Rogue by Alexandra Hawkins, I was hooked on this addictive series featuring seven decadent heroes who surrender to love one by one. As the series progressed, I enjoyed watching them fall and have been eagerly anticipating the story of icy, bad boy Frost. Twilight with the Infamous Earl is his story. 

Vincent Bishop, Lord Chillingsworth, or Frost to his friends, is the last unmarried owner of one of London’s most exclusive gambling hells, Nox. Frost is well-known for being a hard-hearted, wicked rake and doesn’t hide it. When young Emily Cavell launches a verbal rebellion against a few establishments of ill repute, Nox especially, Frost doesn’t take too kindly to it—especially because people are actually listening to her. He sets out to determine why. 

Emily has her reasons for her condemnation of Nox—its proprietor, Frost, ruined her sister years ago and she wants revenge. When she first meets Lord Chillingsworth, he helps her out in a tough situation. She later learns that Lord Chillingsworth is Frost and, naturally, has trouble equating the man who helped her with the terrible scoundrel she has heard about. As Emily gets to know the man inside, she finds it increasingly difficult to continue her retribution and begins falling for the very last man she ever expected to fall in love with. 

I really enjoyed Twilight with the Infamous Earl. Fans of the series know how sarcastic and acrimonious Frost can be and that the only woman to hold his heart is his sister—and she ended up marrying one of his fellow Lords of Vice. At the beginning of this book, we see just how alienated Frost feels after his friends found love in the previous books: 


As the children sobbed, and the adults tried to calm them, Frost watched, realizing that he was the one who did not fit the quaint family gathering. Somewhere along the way, his friends had moved on without him when they had married and started their families. 

He was part of their lives, but no longer one of them. 


I just wanted to hug him after I read that part! It makes the meeting of (and falling for) his perfect match all the sweeter. Frost needed someone who could stand up to him and with him. Emily is a strong young woman with a soft heart that isn’t afraid to go toe-to-toe with him. I loved this scene where Frost and Emily are discussing Nox: 


“Come now, Emily,” he said silkily. “You must have a notion about what takes place in such an establishment. After all, rumor has it that if you had your way you would rid London of all its corruption and vices.” 

She grew still at his revelation. People had been gossiping about her? The notion was absurd. “Who told you that?” 

“It isn’t important,” he said dismissively. “What concerns me is your interest in Nox. While your little moral crusade amuses me, it is also very dangerous.” 

“Are you threatening me, Lord Cilllingsworth?” she asked in hushed tones. A small part of her was hopeful that he was, since it would settle her internal debate about his character. 

“And confirm your worst suspicions about me or Nox?” He grunted. “Hardly. No, little innocent, Nox is nothing to concern yourself with.” 

“What about you?” 

“Oh, you should worry about me, Emily.” 


Twilight with the Infamous Earl is a fine conclusion to the Lords of Vice series. It is bittersweet because we finally get Frost’s story, but it also marks the end. Thankfully, we get to check in with the previous couples and see how their lives are going and it was like visiting old friends. Ms. Hawkins leaves the door open a crack and I hope that perhaps one day we will get to see the sexy Lords of Vice again. I would love to see them as secondary characters! For now, I will just have to be content with visiting them when I reread each of their wonderful stories.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Guest Review - - The Luckiest Lady in London

The Luckiest Lady in London
By Sherry Thomas
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: November 5, 2013


Felix Rivendale, Marquess of Wrenworth, is the perfect gentleman to the finest detail, but he is not real. He is all image, carefully constructed by a young man scarred by a loveless childhood and determined to maintain emotional distance even as he wins the affection and admiration of London’s elite. When he finds himself orphaned at seventeen, he makes his plans accordingly.

He planned to eclipse her in both acclaim and influence – a fitting tribute from the son for whom she had so little regard.

As for his father, Felix’s tribute to him would be to never repeat the man’s great mistake of loving with all his heart and soul. Friendship he would permit, and perhaps some mild affection. Love, however, was out of the question.

Love made one powerless. And he had had enough powerlessness to last ten lifetimes. In this new life of his, he would always hold all the power.

Every move Wrenworth makes is planned to elicit exactly the response he desires, and he glories in the fact that everyone is ignorant of the cold, manipulative mind at work behind the fa├žade of perfection. But he also becomes bored with the perfection of his pretense and a bit disappointed that no one has the wit to penetrate his disguise. Then he meets Louisa Cantwell.

Louisa Cantwell lacks beauty, wealth, and family connections, but she is intelligent, pragmatic, and highly motivated to find a wealthy husband. She has always known that her mother’s small income will cease at her death, and Louisa and her sisters will be dependent upon their own resources, which essentially are non-existent. Louisa accepts quite stoically that she must marry well in order to provide for her sisters. She has no illusions about her situation, and she plans competently and sets realistic goals. She studies the social world like a textbook, and she learns to make the most of what she has. Her teeth are crooked, so she learns to smile without showing them. She is small bosomed, but bust enhancements can work wonders. She learns to create the impression of beauty without being beautiful. She is struck by the uncommon good looks of Wrenworth and recognizes her instinctive response to his appeal, but she knows he is far above her touch. She is also almost instantly aware that he sees through the front she has so painstakingly created.

Wrenworth, in his turn, is reluctantly fascinated by this woman who clearly is attracted to him but who is able to control the attraction.

She wasn't so good an actor that he couldn't see through her pretense at fifty paces. She was, however, good enough that he'd been slightly surprised at the transparency of her infatuation. When their gaze had met for the first time, he had almost heard the wedding bells ringing in her ears.
Then it dissipated into thin air - not just the look, but the infatuation itself. And that had firmly caught his attention.

At first, he plans to make her his mistress until his fascination exhausts itself. When she rejects him, he does something he never expected to do: he asks her to become his wife. Even though Wrenworth is far wealthier than the men Louisa had chosen as potential husbands, she knows he is dangerous to her, a man she can never truly trust or fully know.  Despite reservations on both their parts, they marry. Then things get really interesting.

I start anticipating the next Sherry Thomas book as soon as I turn the last page on the current one, but my anticipation ratcheted up tremendously when I read the following paragraph on Thomas’s blog:

The Luckiest Lady owes its genesis to The Lord of Scoundrels.  I read the book late in the previous century and thought to myself, Hmm, what if, after a pretty horrendous childhood, instead of turning into Lord of Scoundrels, a man turned into The Ideal Gentleman instead?  Two sides of the same coin, right?

Lord of Scoundrels is high on my list of all-time favorite romance novels, and I adore Dain. I’m also a believer in the wonder of stories that begin with what ifs. So I was incredibly eager to read this book. But my first reaction was disappointment. I understood the hero’s motivation, I found the hero fascinating, but I didn’t like him very much until I was well into the book. No doubt my response was due in part to the enthusiasm with which I embraced Thomas’s Fitzhugh trilogy. If I say that I’ve read it three times already and fully expect to read it again, you will have some idea of how much I love that series. It was a tough act to follow. But when I reread The Luckiest Lady in London, I discovered that my response to Wrenworth in a sense mirrored Louisa’s, and maybe I was reacting just as Thomas planned for her readers to react.

At any rate, by the second reading, I was able to appreciate Wrenworth more fully as a character who is a maelstrom of emotions that he devotes his considerable will to controlling. His fascination with Louisa renders him vulnerable to her and threatens his control. Small wonder that his fear of her is equal to his desire for her. It is rare to see a hero and heroine who mirror one another’s complexities to the degree that Wrenworth and Louisa do. She is as intelligent and self-controlled as he is, and she recognizes and accepts her passionate nature. And by “passionate” here, certainly I include her desire for Wrenworth, but I also include other things that matter to her. The scenes between these two are sometimes witty and amusing and sometimes darkly sensual, but they are always credible and riveting because Thomas makes the reader believe in these two characters and who they are separately and together.

Another thing at which Thomas excels is her ability to capture the power of that first moment of attraction so that the reader experiences it on an almost visceral level. These are Louisa’s thoughts on meeting Wrenworth:

It was difficult to draw breath. Her heart palpitated in both pleasure and panic. And she flushed furiously, too much heat pulsing through her veins for her to control or disguise.

A heartbeat later, however, she was cold. She could not say how she knew it, Lord Wrenworth having been nothing but flawlessly courteous. All the same, she was suddenly dead certain that on the inside, he found her patently ridiculous, perhaps even laughable.

I hope the quotations I have included are sufficient to show you Thomas’s masterful command of prose. Her ability to use words that have the depth and flavor and richness of a glass of truly excellent wine is always one of the joys of reading—and rereading—her books. If you too value beautiful prose, intelligent and complex characters, and a story that will engage your heart and your mind, I highly recommend The Luckiest Lady in London. And if this should be your first Sherry Thomas book, I envy you the delight of a backlist that stands with the best in the romance genre.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Get Swept Away with Trish Milburn

Trish is here!  Trish Milburn is one of my favorite people as well as being one of my favorite authors.  She's been a huge supporter of the Romance Dish from the day we first decided to embark upon this blogging journey and her visits are always a pleasure.  Trish joins us today to talk about a new venture of her own:  a Christmas anthology that takes holiday romance to the sunny, sandy beaches of southern Alabama.  Who needs snow when the balmy breezes and hunky heroes of Starfish Shores await?  

An award-winning author, Trish is multi-published in romance, young adult and women's fiction.  Visit Trish's website for more information about her books and for links to the many places where you can connect with her online.  

Please give Trish a warm welcome!

Welcome back, Trish!  Thanks for stopping by today to talk about your new Christmas anthology, Swept Away for Christmas.  Who are the other authors joining with you in this anthology?

Thanks for having me back, PJ! You gals are always so awesomely supportive. My fellow authors in this anthology are two of my best friends, MJ Fredrick and Tanya Michaels. MJ is a multiple Golden Heart finalist and EPIC award winner, and Tanya is a multiple RITA finalist and also one of my fellow authors at Harlequin American Romance.

I really enjoyed your story, “Crusin’ for a Kiss.”  (Love that title!)  What would you like readers
to know about your hero and heroine? 

Thanks. I’m so glad you enjoyed it. When Avery Phillips loses her magazine job right before Christmas, she heads back home to Starfish Shores to spend the holidays with the grandparents who raised her. The plan is to hit the job search hard so that she has a new position when the New Year arrives. What isn’t part of the plan is heading up a remodeling effort at her family’s beach motel or falling for the man helping to save the business into which her grandparents put a lifetime of work. As Christmas draws closer, will Avery stick to the original plan to leave town again or take a chance with Luke Taylor and a new life she never expected?

I love friends-to-lovers stories, so this one was a lot of fun to write.

I love friends-to-lovers stories too.  This one was my favorite of the three stories in the anthology. While your three stories aren’t exactly ‘connected’, they are set in the same small town and have some overlapping people and places.  How did you all stay on the same page?  Did you meet to hammer out the details (I imagine the three of you dipping your toes in the Gulf while sipping fruity drinks and discussing plotlines) or accomplish the process in a different manner?

We actually all met at a condo we’d rented in Orange Beach, Alabama, this past June to do site research and hammer out the main details of how we wanted to approach the collection, characters, the setting, etc., as well as a basic framework for four different collections set in our fictional town of Starfish Shores. After we all came home to our three different states, we communicated online whenever we ran into something that needed to be brainstormed with the other two authors. Having the stories only loosely connected made it easier for us to write our stories independently, but having some characters make brief appearances in the other stories and using some of the same landmarks made the collection feel connected.

I’m a big fan of anthologies, especially at this busy time of year.  Do you foresee doing more collaborations of this type?  Do any of you have plans to return to Starfish Shores for future stories?

Yes, we are planning three more seasonal collections set in Starfish Shores. We’re in the early stages of brainstorming our spring break collection that will be out sometime in the spring.

This makes me a very happy reader!

Swept Away for Christmas is an e-book.  Will it be available in print format at any time? 


Your characters spend their holiday on the beautiful Gulf beaches of Alabama.  Where’s your favorite place to be swept away for Christmas?

I’d have to say the same place, pretty much anywhere along the Gulf of Mexico. While I appreciate the beauty of a white Christmas, I hate being cold and get cold very easily. So I would love to eventually winter on the Gulf. I could so get used to decorating a palm tree for Christmas. J

What else are you working on these days?

Right now I’m writing the next book in my Blue Falls, Texas, series for Harlequin American Romance. This will be the fourth full-length book in this series but the eighth story set in my fictional Hill Country town of Blue Falls, Texas. The town was introduced in my Teagues of Texas trilogy, and it continued in the series with the town name on the books’ covers. I have a special e-novella out now in the series, A Cowboy in Her Stocking, and the third book, Marrying the Cowboy, comes out in January. The book I’m working on now has a working title of The Doctor’s Cowboy Prescription.

I've loved meeting the people of Blue Falls, Texas.  A Cowboy in her Stocking is a wonderful holiday story and I'm already counting down the days until Elissa's story in January.  

Thanks so much for visiting with us today, Trish.  Do you have anything you’d like to ask our readers?

Thanks to you, PJ! And I liked the question you asked me about where I’d like to be swept away for Christmas. So, I’d like to know where everyone would like to go for a special Christmas trip if money were no option.

Christmas isn’t always snow-covered with a frosty chill in the air. Sometimes it’s sandy beaches with balmy breezes.
And sometimes we find love in the most unexpected places, a place like Starfish Shores.
Here Comes McBride by Tanya Michaels
Shelby James has only truly loved one man — but Finn McBride broke her heart when emotional baggage from his past came between them. Now, Shelby is serving as maid of honor at a beach wedding where Finn is the best man. Will reuniting with Finn be a Christmas miracle, or the worst mistake she’s ever made?
Two Hearts a Leaping by MJ Fredrick
After a break-up with her high school sweetheart, Harley Blume retreats to her brother’s home in Starfish Shores to lick her wounds and figure out what she’s doing next. But her brother is in the Coast Guard reserves and heading out of town, leaving her in the care of Liam Channing, his best friend since they played college football together. She’s never been able to keep her tongue in her mouth when good-looking, easy-going Liam is around. How is she going to find her way if she can’t keep her balance?
Crusin’ for a Kiss by Trish Milburn
When Avery Phillips loses her magazine job right before Christmas, she heads back home to Starfish Shores to spend the holidays with the grandparents who raised her. The plan is to hit the job search hard so that she has a new position when the New Year arrives. What isn’t part of the plan is heading up a remodeling effort at her family’s beach motel or falling for the man helping to save the business into which her grandparents put a lifetime of work. As Christmas draws closer, will Avery stick to the original plan to leave town again or take a chance with Luke Taylor and a new life she never expected?