Monday, February 29, 2016

Review - - A Girl's Guide to Moving On

A Girl’s Guide to Moving On
By Debbie Macomber
Publisher: Ballantine
Release Date: February 23, 2016

Debbie Macomber returns to the world of New Beginnings to give readers the story of Nichole Patterson, sister of Cassie Carter, heroine of Last One Home (2015), and Leanne Patterson, Nichole’s mother-in-law. When Nichole filed from divorce from her husband Jake after discovering he had been unfaithful and his current paramour was pregnant, Leanne finds the courage to follow suit and divorce her husband of thirty-give years, no longer willing to tolerate his serial cheating. The women take modest apartments across from one another in a Portland complex and begin adjusting to a life very different from their experience as half of a country-club couple.

Realizing how easy it would be to sink in a sea of anger, depression, and self-pity, the two draw up a list of steps to survival in their new world. They call it “A Girl’s Guide to Moving On” and work hard at following the rules. The first “do” on their list requires them to reach out and do something for someone else. Nichole volunteers at Dress for Success where she helps other women who are hoping for a second chance at life. Her work at the shop quickly becomes a meaningful part of her new life. The same is true for Leanne who teaches English as a Second Language classes.

Through a minor automobile accident, Nichole meets Rocco Nyquist, owner of a towing company. Rocco, the single father of a fifteen-year-old daughter, offers Nichole a deal. If she helps his daughter Kaylene find a dress to wear to a dance that Kaylene likes and Rocco is willing to let her be seen wearing, he will tear up the check Nichole wrote for his towing service. Since Nichole is pinching pennies on her new budget, it sounds like a great deal to her. Soon she is dealing with the attraction she and Rocco share and finding her relationship with Kaylene has its own rewards. Rocco touches her heart with his genuine caring for her three-year-old son Owen. Leanne too meets a new friend, one of her students, a Ukrainian baker who courts her with fresh-baked bread. But both Nichole and Leanne discover that old ties can complicate new relationships.

There are many things I liked about this book. Macomber does an excellent job of showing all the difficulties in ending a marriage. Like most women in their situations, Nichole and Leanne must deal with a cut in income, but that is less significant than the emotional pain of crushed dreams, low self-esteem, and connections that cannot be severed by signing a paper. There are also the pragmatic considerations such as learning to take on tasks that the former spouse once did. Nichole’s divorce is even more complicated because Jake drags out the process for two years and because she and Jake must deal with long years of co-parenting.

As with most Macomber novels, I enjoyed her portrayal of women’s relationships. Nichole and Leanne, although former in-laws now, share a touching friendship and a mother-daughter relationship as well. They both have other friends, and then there are Nichole’s sisters. As a big fan of the first book, I loved that Cassie and Steve’s wedding is included in this one.
I didn’t like the implication, perhaps unintended, that working class men make better, more faithful husbands than men who wear suits. Rocco is a great guy, and Jake is a jerk, but I don’t think their character differences are rooted in their educational levels or their occupations. And I could never see Leanne and her baker as soul mates.

If you like sweet stories that blend women’s fiction issues with romance, you should enjoy this book. If you are one of the multitude for whom Debbie Macomber’s name on a novel is enough to make you happy, I can promise the book will leave you smiling.


Sunday, February 28, 2016

Coming Attractions

March? When did that happen? I could swear we were just celebrating New Year's last week! But yes, March will arrive in two days and spring is just around the corner, bringing with it fun guests and amazing new books. Here's what's happening in March at The Romance Dish!

Leading off this month is historical romance author Karyn Gerrard. Karyn joins me Thursday, March 3 for a Q&A about her new sensual romance, The Vicar's Frozen Heart. His heart may be frozen but the rest of him sure isn't! 

Monday, March 7 brings historical romance author Elizabeth Michels back to the Dish. I love her sparkle, both in person and in her books! Michels' newest book, The Infamous Heir, releasing March 1, kicks off her Spare Heirs series and is getting rave reviews, including a TOP PICK from RT Book Reviews.

Tracy Solheim will join us Tuesday, March 8 for a Q&A. Solheim's new book, All They Ever Wanted takes readers back to Chances Inlet, North Carolina for another heartwarming story in her Second Chances contemporary romance series. All They Ever Wanted, out March 1, received a TOP PICK review from RT Book Reviews.

Don't miss Janga's newest On Second Thought review on Tuesday, March 15.  

Will your favorite books of 2015 make the cut? Joins us on Friday, March 25 for the announcement of this year's Romance Writers of America RITA® Awards. It's sure to be an exciting day!

Tuesday, March 29 brings historical romance author Theresa Romain back to the Dish to celebrate the release of Fortune Favors the Wicked (don't you just love that title?), the first of two historical romances about Regency treasure hunters. This book is getting a lot of buzz, including a STARRED review from Booklist

The Jill Shalvis Nobody But You tour stops at the Dish on Thursday, March 31. The third book in her contemporary Cedar Ridge series, Nobody But You releases March 29 and has earned a TOP PICK review from RT Book Reviews

That's what's going on here this month. What are you looking forward to in March? 

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Anna Campbell Winners

Anna had so much fun yesterday she decided to give away two more 

Kindle copies of Tempting Mr. Townsend. The lucky winners are:

Jeanne M
Dotland 101


Please send your email address to Anna at

Stone Cold Cowboy Winner

The randomly chosen winner of a print copy of

Stone Cold Cowboy by Jennifer Ryan is:



Please send your full name and mailing address to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

Lizbeth Selvig Winner

The randomly chosen winner of an e-book copy of 

The Bride Wore Starlight by Lizbeth Selvig is:



Please send your email address to us at:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

PJ's "Not Your Mama's Soap" Winner

The winner of a box of books from my

Not Your Mama's Soap post is:

Trish J

The cleaning has continued and I now have a second box of books so 

congratulations to my bonus winner:


Ladies, please send your full name and mailing address to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

U.S. addresses only

Friday, February 26, 2016

Today's Special - - Anna Campbell

Anna is back! I'm delighted to welcome Anna Campbell back to the Dish today. She always brightens up the place, don't you think? 

Aussie Anna Campbell is a self-confessed bookaholic and is very proud of her shady past as a regular contributor to the Romance Dish. Her historical romances have won numerous awards, including the 2015 Australian Romantic Novella of the Year. Anna’s latest release is Tempting Mr. Townsend (the Dashing Widows Book 2), available from all good e-tailers from 27th February. Her website is

Please join me in giving Anna a very hearty welcome home! 

The Attraction of the Attraction of Opposites

Hiya PJ! Thank you so much for having me back on the Dishes today to talk about my new novella
Tempting Mr. Townsend (Dashing Widows Book 2). I really think that lovely blue cover goes beautifully with the décor here!

Do you like attraction of opposites romances? I do. I love the mayhem at the start of the relationship when these people think, “What on earth am I doing, looking at this person, when they’re so obviously completely wrong for me?”

I love even better the gradual growth of understanding, until the opposites realize they have more in common than they ever thought – and even if they don’t, the other person is so wonderful, they can live with the differences. Always an aww moment for me in a romance.

I love that attraction of opposites stories always end up with the hero and heroine learning that they’re not exactly who they think they are. Self-discovery makes for a wonderful character arc in a story.

When I think of the AoO trope, I think of films like Pretty Woman where cold-blooded corporate raider Richard Gere learns about the joy of life from vivacious streetwalker Julia Roberts, and she learns that she’s more than she ever dreamed she was. Or When Harry Met Sally where freewheeling Harry discovers that he needs love after all, and uptight Sally discovers that letting go can have its own rewards.

Tempting Mr. Townsend is my most overtly AoO story so far and I had huge fun with it. If you read book 1 in the series, last year’s The Seduction of Lord Stone, you’ll remember Fenella Deerham as one of those perfect lady heroines.  She’s blonde, pretty, kind-hearted, and has perfect manners. She’s spent the last five years grieving the loss of her beloved husband Henry at Waterloo – of my three dashing widows, she’s the one who had a happy marriage and who is afraid to rejoin the world because she can’t bear to face losing love again.

So who would be the person most likely to shake up her certainties and drag her back into the hurly-burly of life? What about a brusque, humbly born, self-made magnate who has no experience of ladies, and frankly no interest in them either?

Falling in love with your heroes is an occupational hazard in this game—if you don’t love your hero, it’s highly unlikely your heroine will. But I must say I developed a monster crush on outspoken bear of a man, Anthony Townsend, with his northern accent, his generous spirit, and his habit of cutting straight to the heart of the matter.

So what could bring these two unlikely people together? When Anthony’s ward Carey and Fenella’s son Brandon run away from Eton, Anthony and Fenella join in a desperate alliance to find the boys. The stage is set for a road trip where both will discover first impressions can be mighty misleading. Anthony’s rough manners hide a heart the size of Texas, and Fenella’s air of untouched fragility doesn’t do justice to her enormous strength of character. The sparks fly hotter by the minute as they gallop through the frosty night to Anthony’s estate where the boys are waiting safe and sound—but now temptation lurks around every corner.

I hope you will check out my story about two unlikely lovers and enjoy seeing these opposites come together to find their blissfully happy ending. And watch out for Winning Lord West, Helena’s story which is out at the end of April. 

So do you like stories about opposites attract? Why do you think readers love this clash of the seemingly incompatible? Do you have a favorite example? I can think of so many! Hello, Dolly. Han and Leia in Star Wars. A million good girl/bad boy romances. 

I’ve got three Kindle downloads of Tempting Mr. Townsend (international) to give away to people who comment today. Good luck!

Fenella, Lady Deerham, has rejoined society after five years of mourning her beloved husband’s death at Waterloo. Now she’s fêted as a diamond of the first water and London’s perfect lady. But beneath her exquisite exterior, this delicate blond beauty conceals depths of courage and passion nobody has ever suspected. When her son and his school friend go missing, she vows to find them whatever it takes. Including setting off alone in the middle of the night with high-handed bear of a man, Anthony Townsend. Will this tumultuous journey end in more tragedy? Or will the impetuous quest astonish this dashing widow with a breathtaking new love, and life with the last man she ever imagined?

And the Beast?
When Anthony Townsend bursts into Lady Deerham’s fashionable Mayfair mansion demanding the return of his orphaned nephew, the lovely widow’s beauty and spirit turn his world upside down. But surely such a refined and aristocratic creature will scorn a rough, self-made man’s courtship, even if that man is now one of the richest magnates in England. Especially after he’s made such a woeful first impression by barging into her house and accusing her of conniving with the runaways. But when Fenella insists on sharing the desperate search for the boys, fate offers Anthony a chance to play the hero and change her mind about him. Will reluctant proximity convince Fenella that perhaps Mr. Townsend isn’t so beastly after all? Or now that their charges are safe, will Anthony and Fenella remain forever opposites fighting their attraction?

Buy links:

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Review - - Stone Cold Cowboy

Stone Cold Cowboy:A Montana Men Novel
By Jennifer Ryan
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: February 23, 2016

I discovered Jennifer Ryan about a year ago and she's quickly become one of my favorite contemporary romantic suspense authors. I've enjoyed all of her Montana Men books but Stone Cold Cowboy, the first of the Kendrick brothers' stories, is headed straight for my keeper shelf.

When her mother died, sixteen year old Sadie Higgins put her life on hold to take care of her father, help run the family ranch, and raise her sweet little brother. Several years later, she's still doing the same, working two jobs and trying to keep her drug-addicted, ungrateful brother out of trouble but things are getting worse instead of better. Her father's health is rapidly failing and her brother has signed on with some truly bad dudes. The price of Sadie's loving heart and refusal to give up on her brother just may be her life. Ryan does a superb job of writing the conflict in Sadie's heart. She's more mother than sister to her brother. Sacrifice comes naturally as does the hope and faith that he will come to his senses and finally do the right thing but there may also come the time when she has to let him go. As the oldest of five siblings, I understood in a visceral way, the anguish of the decisions she has to make.

Rory Kendrick is my kind of cowboy - strong, honorable, protective, romantic, and all kinds of sexy. I happily handed him my heart. He has spent years raising his younger brothers with his grandfather's help after his parents' deaths and working himself to the bone keeping their ranch afloat. He's no monk but there hasn't been a lot of time for fun. While he and Sadie have grown up in the same small town they've never met though Rory sure has noticed her. He's always thought he was too old for her (she's six years younger) and even though he carries himself with confidence he hides a vulnerable and wary heart beneath his reserved demeanor.

When a crime on his ranch leads Rory to discover Sadie in unimaginable circumstances it unites the two in a powerful way (and put me firmly in their corner). Her determination to do the right thing leads to more time spent together and gradually, as they come to know one another, their initial connection deepens into a love that will change the course of their lives...if they can manage to stay alive in the face of the deadly group of criminals who have them in their sights.

Suspenseful, emotional, and deeply romantic, Sadie and Rory's journey took me on a roller coaster ride and completely captured my heart. Ryan rounds out the story with a well-formed cast of secondary characters offering comic relief, poignant farewells, a few surprises, and life or death danger. The bad guys are so realistic and fully dimensional that I wanted to indulge in some old fashioned, Wild West justice while Rory's grandfather and brothers, on the other hand, made me want to indulge in some big ole bear hugs. I hope each of the brothers will have his own story because I am not finished with this family!


I have a print copy of Stone Cold Cowboy to give to one randomly chosen person who leaves a comment on today's post. (U.S./Canadian addresses only)

Do you like modern-day cowboy heroes?

Are you a romantic suspense fan?

Have you read Jennifer Ryan's books yet?

Who's your favorite cowboy hero? (books or film - modern or historical)

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Review and Author Q&A - The Bride Wore Starlight

The Bride Wore Starlight
By Lizbeth Selvig
Publisher: Avon Impulse
Release Date: February 9, 2016

A former Miss Wyoming, Joely Crockett Foster spent a sizeable portion of her life in the spotlight being recognized for her beauty. Eight months after the road accident that almost claimed her life, she wants nothing more than to avoid attention, especially the curious and pitying looks that the sight of her scarred face and crippled leg are sure to evoke. But she could not say no when her older sisters, grateful for Joely’s survival and eager to have her share their big day, asked her to serve as matron of honor for both of them at their double wedding. Joely is happy for Harper and Cole Wainwright (The Bride Wore Denim) and for Mia and Gabriel Harrison (The Bride Wore Red Boots), but their happily ever afters just make her more aware of her own failed marriage and her cheating almost-ex, better known as Tim the DoucheWipe. All in all, it is fair to say that her sisters’ wedding day is as much ordeal as celebration for Joely—and that’s before she meets the former rodeo star who makes it his mission to see that Joely does not fade unobtrusively into the background.

Alec Morrissey knows what it is to be in the spotlight. He held three Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association titles before a tour of military duty changed his life forever. He knows all about the depression and self-pity in which beautiful Joely is mired, and he is determined to see her focus on all that she can do. But Alec sees himself and the hold his past still has on him less clearly. His challenges may serve to bring Joely back to a full life, but can he meet the challenge she issues in return to confront his demons and claim the life he and Joely can build together?

The Bride Wore Starlight is the third book in Selvig’s Seven Brides for Seven Cowboys series. I read and enjoyed Selvig’s Rural Gentleman books, but this was my first book in the new series. I had read only a few pages of the third book when I went to amazon and downloaded the first two, knowing that I was hooked on the Crockett sisters and wanted their full story.  I say this not to suggest that The Bride Wore Starlight cannot be read as a standalone. It can be. But the Crockett family is so appealing that I wanted to know more. For those who are interested, I read all three books in one day and loved them all, but the third one is my favorite.

Some may think Joely is a bit too self-pitying early on, but her reactions seemed reasonable to me given all the details. She is a middle child who has been shaped by her father’s attitude that her beauty is all she has to offer. Within a few months, she has been hit with the end of her marriage, the death of her father, and a traumatic accident with life-altering consequences. Her family adores her, but their protective hovering does nothing to move her into the reality of a new life.

Alec too makes a misleading first impression, appearing to be all brashness and flirtatious charm. I’m not often surprised by turns in a book, but Alec’s first revelation to Joely surprised me as much as it did her. It also cast his behavior up to that point in a totally different light. He is exactly what Joely needs, although it takes her a while to appreciate that fact. But this is not a story about a hero who saves the heroine. Despite all that Alec has accomplished and the success story he appears to be, he has vulnerabilities and obstacles as real as Joely’s, if less visible. She saves him too.

This is a deeply emotional read peppered with enough laughter to keep it from being too angsty. The relationship among the sisters and between them and their mother and grandmother is a strong enough thread to give the book the feel of the women’s fiction/romance hybrids I love. I also applaud Selvig’s choice to show Joely acting independently to demonstrate how far she has come. Joely doesn’t need Alec to survive, but his love makes her better and his presence enriches her life. That’s the best kind of romance in my opinion.

If you like romances that involve the lead characters overcoming the stuff life throws at them, I think you will love this book as much as I did. While you are at it, you might also want to grab the first two books.  I promise the three will give you hours of great reading.


Janga: Let’s get the big question answered first. Who is the next bride? And can you tell us who the seventh bride will be? I can think of at least four possibilities, and I know I may be wrong on all counts.

Lizbeth: The next bride will be one of the triplets—Grace. As those who’ve read any of the first three
books know, the triplets were named after their father’s favorite two movie stars:  Grace, Kelly, and Raquel and they own a trendy coffee shop/restaurant in Denver. Kelly is the first of the usually inseparable trio to break away when there’s a falling out over business decisions. She returns to Paradise Ranch with a plan to start her own new restaurant, and she meets a man who believes he has ownership rights that are generations old to the Crockett family ranch. The pair ends up in a little bit of a mystery discovering the true roots of Paradise.

As for the seventh bride, we haven’t met her in the stories yet, although she isn’t officially a secret. A lot of readers have asked me if it’s Skylar from “The Bride Wore Denim,” but it isn’t. (I have other plans for Sky!) The seventh bride is a cousin (genealogically, a cousin once removed) who nobody knows exists. Her name is Camille and she is one-quarter Vietnamese—the daughter of a woman born to a Vietnamese woman and an American soldier named Crockett! Cami is a journalist and I have some fun times planned for her!

Janga: What about Mayberry? Are we going to see more of him?

Lizbeth: We definitely are!  I know he’s a strange, mostly undeveloped character in “The Bride Wore Starlight,” but he served his purpose—stripping away Joely’s starry-eyed view of Paradise Ranch and leaving her with nothing “perfect” left in her life. But Mayberry, aka Trampas, is the great uncle of the hero in the next book. In fact, mentions him in “Starlight”—Ty Garraway. So, yes, Mayberry will be in Book #4!

Janga: You get the complications of sisterhood—that combination of unfaltering love and loyalty, shared memories, and the knowledge of which buttons to push to raise a storm. Is that the voice of experience?

Lizbeth: Thanks so much for the compliment! You’ll laugh, but in reality I don’t have any sisters!  I do have three brothers, however, and they’re all wonderful men—just like our father is—so writing about family is second nature. Annoyances and squabbling definitely happen between the four of us, but there’s also fierce loyalty,  and we’re all close, so of course I drew from our family dynamics for the story and added bits and pieces of anecdotes I’ve heard from friends who do have sisters.

Janga: One of the things I appreciate most about your books is that although they are not inspirationals by any stretch, many of your characters are people of faith. Did you ever feel you were taking a risk by creating these characters?

Lizbeth: I love this question—it goes straight to the heart of my stories. Yes—I do think that putting the little faith elements in my books is risky. It confuses people to mix mentions of a character’s beliefs and values into a romance where the goal of the story has nothing to do with religion. I like making people stop and wonder about that blend. And even though my own faith is important to me, I’ve never been interested in writing inspirational romance. I believe whole-heartedly that people of faith (in any religion) lead “regular” lives:  they have messy adventures, they sometimes swear, and, yes, they even have sex! So I’ve always wanted to write traditional romances that would surprise readers with little touches of faith, like when Grandma Sadie says a quick prayer, or one of my characters wrestles in a given moment with a particular moral code. It’s fascinating to see what elements readers pick up on, and I hope it gives the characters and the story more dimension.

Janga: I’m always interested in writers’ influences. What authors influenced you most significantly?

Lizbeth: The first romance author I fell in love with was LaVyrle Spencer back in the ‘80s. She was the master of lyrical storytelling and intricate plots and wrote some of my first romance hero crushes (Jesse in “Hummingbird” anyone of my generation?!)  Over the years there have been many more influences:  Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Susan Mallery, Robyn Carr, Kristan Higgans to name just a handful. To this day, these amazing women are my role models.  I also want to give a shout out to all the Harlequin/Silhouette authors I read over the years—hundreds of them! Without them I wouldn’t have fallen head over heels in love with romance! 

Janga: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Lizbeth: First of all, a thank you for inviting me to the blog today. These were great questions! I hope readers have fun with the brides in “Seven Brides for Seven Cowboys” series. One of the things that’s fun about a series of this length is that I can play with so many different themes and voices. “The Bride Wore Starlight” is fairly heavy and emotional (with humor!), but Grace’s story will be much lighter and, as I mentioned, have a touch of mystery. Cami’s story at the end of the series will deal with scientific discovery and elements of pure fun. I think we’re on a great journey with the Crockett family.

Readers, do you enjoy a book series set around a family?

Lizbeth mentioned the authors who have influenced her. What authors have influenced your love of romance?

Have you read any of Lizbeth Selvig's books yet? 

One randomly chosen person leaving a comment will receive an e-book copy of The Bride Wore Starlight. 


Monday, February 22, 2016

Not Your Mama's Soap

I remember using three brands of soap during my childhood: Ivory, Dial, and Dove. They were what I'd call "utility" products, manufactured to clean, not to pamper. Although Ivory was designed to be gentle - good for babies - which makes it rather ironic, I suppose, that I'm allergic to Ivory soap. Sold in white, unscented bars and purchased at the grocery or pharmacy, soap wasn't something to get excited about back then. It was simply a product that you used to clean your skin during a quick and efficient bath. At least, that's the way it worked in my house where we had one tub that was shared by four children. My brothers, who swear they spent half their childhood banging on the bathroom door begging me to hurry up, would undoubtedly disagree with the quick and efficient part but that's my story and I'm sticking to it. ;-)

Over the years, we've all grown, evolved, and broadened our horizons. As has soap. Dial introduced a rainbow of colors, Irish Spring sprinkled colored flecks throughout along with a fresh scent, and brilliant minds invented liquid soap and body wash. There were now soaps to moisturize, to invigorate, to relax. When I had time to relax. In my life, childhood had given way to the corporate rat race and showers replaced long, leisurely soaks in the tub. Wet, scrub, rinse and go. That was my daily routine. Soap was necessary but not something I spent a lot of time thinking about. More often than not, the brand that landed in my grocery cart was the one for which I had a coupon.

And now we come to today. I'm retired from the rat race. I live in a condo with both a shower and a tub. I have the time to indulge in the occasional luxury and I consider those luxuries essential to a good life. What does that have to do with soap? Oh, dear friends, let me count the bars...the colors...the aromas...the moisturizers...the natural ingredients....the...the...the. Well, you get the idea.

The other day I visited one of my favorite local shops, Bebe Gallini's (click to check out their facebook page). This wonderfully eclectic boutique, housed in a restored, historic cotton mill offers furniture, artwork, accessories, jewelry, gifts, candles and more but what I was there to browse that day was their newest selections of soap. And, oh, what selections they have. Hand-milled soaps from France. Seaweed soaps from Sweden. Soaps manufactured in the USA. Natural soaps made right here, in my North Carolina back yard. So many wonderful choices!

Want Ginger Orange? They have that. It's one of my favorites; like taking a leisurely stroll through a spicy orange grove.

Tomato-Vine Strawberry? They have that too. It's another favorite - a pure vegetable soap with shea butter and a scent that evokes memories of lazy summer days in my grandparents' strawberry patch.

Tangy ocean scents. Fresh mint. Soothing lavender. The crisp, clean scent of laundry on the line. So many colors. So many choices.

Which soap followed me home from my recent trip? Avocado, rich in antioxidants and vitamins A, D and E, made by Kala Corp. in Cranston, RI - 100% made in the USA. It's wonderfully moisturizing. I've been using it about two weeks now and can already feel a difference in my skin. I've also been back to the store to buy two more bars. I love this soap!

Notice the soap in the upper left of the photo? The box labeled "coffee?" That's right. Coffee scented soap. Perfect for people like me, who can't have caffeine but love the aroma of a freshly brewed cup of coffee. And that's exactly how it smells!

Do you pamper yourself with special soaps or lotions? 

What's your favorite scent?

What's the most unusual scent you've tried?

Do you enjoy a leisurely soak in the tub with scented candles and a good romance novel? 

Do you have a favorite local shop or boutique that offers "Enchantment for Home, Garden and Soul" as Bebe Gallini's does? 

Let's dish! 

I spent today doing some early spring cleaning. One person who leaves a comment on this post will receive a box of romance novels from my stash. (U.S. addresses only)

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Jodi Thomas Winner

The winner of a print copy of

Rustler's Moon by Jodi Thomas is:

Judi Hartman


Please send your full name and mailing address to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

PJ's Barefoot Bay Winner

The randomly chosen winner of a Kindle copy of

Barefoot with a Bodyguard and Barefoot with a Stranger is:



Please send your email address to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

Friday, February 19, 2016

Review and Q&A - - Rustler's Moon

Rustler’s Moon
By Jodi Thomas
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Release Date: January 26, 2016

Angela Harold’s father may have been died from a heart attack during a random mugging, as the police believe, but when she finds an incomplete, hidden note from him warning her to leave Florida and vanish because her life is at risk, she follows his advice. Fortuitously, the position as curator of a tiny museum in a small Texas town that her father had encouraged her to apply for is offered to her. Angela accepts the job and, taking only her cat, the replica of a necklace that is a family antique, the money her father left her, and a few other belongings, Angela heads for Crossroads, Texas, and a new life. In Crossroads, she finds friendship, community, and Wilkes Wagner.

Wilkes returned to Crossroads and the family ranch after four years of college football and three years in the army. For six years, the responsibility for Devil’s Fork Ranch, home to five generations of Wagners, and for his great-uncle Vern have been his. Wilkes likes his life, and he does not share his Uncle Vern’s concern about Wilkes’s lack of a wife and children. Wilkes has been strictly a love-’em-and-leave-’em type since Lexie Davis, his high school girlfriend, sent him a Dear John letter less than three months into his deployment, and he is in no hurry to change his status. Not even Lexie’s return changes his mind, but the new museum curator, the very opposite of his usual long-legged, dark-haired, laughing-eyed flings, has him thinking in terms of words like love and forever.

Yancy Gray’s life is very different from the one he knew before he wound up in Crossroads. The ex-con has a job he enjoys, a truck for which he paid cash, and friends he trusts. But Yancy is disturbed by the hold an abandoned house has on him. He feels a visceral connection to the place even as he senses that it is a site where evil occurred. With the help of his friend Wilkes and the new curator, Yancy hopes to uncover the secrets of the house. In doing so, he will discover that he has a closer connection to Crossroads than he could have imagined.

Lauren Brigman, daughter of the local sheriff, is now a student at Texas Tech, as are Lucas Reyes, Tim O’Grady, and Reid Collins, the others who were involved in the incident at the old Gypsy house in Ransom Canyon, the first book in the series. Lauren is still in love with Lucas and looking forward to having more time with him now that they are in the same place again. But Lucas is so focused on the future that he has no time for the present. Lauren’s roommate, a troubled girl with little sense of self-worth, adds another complication to the mix.

This second novel in Thomas’s Ransom Canyon series showcases this Thomas’s skill in weaving several plot threads into a connected, coherent whole. Angela and Wilkes are the central characters, and Thomas links the secondary plots to their story. The danger Angela faces is real, but facing it helps her to grow. Wilkes, who has been content to live life on the surface, finds himself as he seeks to protect her. For me, the best romances are always those in which love empowers the hero and heroine to become their best selves, and that is what happens with these characters. Other characters, from Uncle Vern to the wounded Polly Pierce, claim the reader’s interest and sympathy as well. Once again Jodi Thomas proves that she is storyteller with a rare gift. I recommend this book, and I expect Lone Heart Pass (an April 26 release), the next Ransom Canyon book, to be equally excellent.


I'm going to borrow a question from the Q&A below. Tell me, readers: If you had to wear a t-shirt with the same saying every day, what would it say? 

MLM is offering a print copy of Rustler's Moon to one randomly chosen person who leaves a comment on today's post. (U.S. addresses only)

Q&A with Jodi Thomas
Author of

1.     This is your second book in the Ransom Canyon series. Tell us about the town.

In RUSTLER’S MOON the town of Crossroads has grown.  After allowing their museum to sit empty for a year, the book opens with a new curator coming.  The museum comes alive and brings the town together as Angela Harold wakes up to life and loving for the first time.  The quiet, shy curator carries a secret that will threaten the whole town and leave rancher Wilkes Wagner fighting for his life as he protects Angela.

2.     We’ve heard you have an inspiration room for your writing. Tell us about the spot.

Ransom Canyon room:  When I began the series, I moved my computer to a little room out back of my house.  We call it the bunkhouse.  It’s not big, mission designed and almost a hundred years old.  I took down all the western art and put up white boards.  Removed all books except those on ranching, horses, Texas, or research I might need. Family histories of characters fill one wall.  Plot lines another.  When I step into the bunkhouse, I step into the world of Ransom Canyon.  One by one my characters come in and sit down to tell me their story.
            I even have pictures of the flowers of Texas taped up in the bathroom and a Jack Sorenson print of horses running into the canyon on the door.

3.     Are there any characters in the series you’d consider for a spin-off?

Yes.  There are characters outlined on one board of my study that may not make it into this series.  Who knows?  Maybe they’ll find their way in the future.

4.     If RUSTLER’S MOON were made into a movie, who would you cast as the lead characters?

Like many of my readers I spent my Christmas holidays snowed in and watching Hallmark movies.  Almost every movie I’d say, “That actor would be perfect as this character.”  I’d love to hear from my readers about who they see as playing Wilkes Wagner in RANSOM CANYON.

5.     What’s up next for the series?

Coming this spring will be LONE HEART PASS.  Another modern day ranching story set in Texas.  It opens with a woman giving up on a career and taking what she thinks is her last chance to survive by coming to a small ranch her grandfather left her.  She hires a cowboy to help who has a pickup full of baggage, a five-year-old daughter and a determination that surprises her.

6.     If you had to wear a t-shirt with the same saying every single day, what would it say?

That is an easy one.  When I started writing I went to a writer’s conference in Oklahoma one year and bought a t-shirt.  Every night when I stepped into my closet sized study, I put on that shirt.  I wore it out, but I wore it until I sold.  It said, NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER, in training.

7.     If you were a punctuation mark, which one best suits your personality?

If I were a punctuation mark I think I’d be a semi-colon.  Half the time I don’t know where
I belong.  No one really understands me.  I think I’m kin to a comma.  Which were left on
earth millions of years ago by aliens just to confuse us so we’d never evolve completely.

8.     If you didn’t live in Texas, where would you most like to call home?

I love traveling.  Wherever I go, I always think I’d love to live there.  I was twenty-one when I first crossed the Mississippi heading east.  I spent so much time pointing out all the trees my new husband stopped the car.  “We’re heading to Fort Mammoth, New Jersey.  There are trees from now on, Jodi, so stop yelling every time you see one.”  The next three years we crossed the USA several times in a 1970 Camaro and everywhere we went I was excited at all there was to see.
But, in truth, when the time comes, bury me in Texas with the open sky and land so flat you can see the curve of the earth.  It’s where I belong.  It’s in my blood.

 9.     If you weren’t a writer, what would you be? 

I’d be a teacher.  Teachers change the landscape of your life.  Mrs. Dickerson in the fourth grade saw that I couldn’t read.  She took the time to learn why and send me to a school for two summers.  She opened the world of fiction for me.  Without her, I would have been fine.  With her, I’ve lived a much richer life.
I’m the writer in residence at West Texas A&M University and the best part of my job is sitting down with students in my office and beginning our journey with, ‘So, you want to be a writer?”

10.  What authors do you most like to read?

I can’t answer that question because the answer changes every day.  I love curling up with an old book and reading it for the second or third time.  I love discovering an author and seeing a new fresh voice.
I have a loose grip on reality.  Give me a good story.  Take me away into another world for a few hours.  Make me laugh.  Make me cry.  Make me fall in love again for the first time.