Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Spotlight on The Art of Inheriting Secrets

The Art of Inheriting Secrets
By Barbara O'Neal
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Release Date: July 17, 2018

When Olivia Shaw’s mother dies, the sophisticated food editor is astonished to learn she’s inherited a centuries-old English estate—and a title to go with it. Raw with grief and reeling from the knowledge that her reserved mother hid something so momentous, Olivia leaves San Francisco and crosses the pond to unravel the mystery of a lifetime.
One glance at the breathtaking Rosemere Priory and Olivia understands why the manor, magnificent even in disrepair, was the subject of her mother’s exquisite paintings. What she doesn’t understand is why her mother never mentioned it to her. As Olivia begins digging into her mother’s past, she discovers that the peeling wallpaper, debris-laden halls, and ceiling-high Elizabethan windows covered in lush green vines hide unimaginable secrets.
Although personal problems and her life back home beckon, Olivia finds herself falling for the charming English village and its residents. But before she can decide what Rosemere’s and her own future hold, Olivia must first untangle the secrets of her past.

Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

Connect with Barbara

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Barbara Samuel (O'Neal) is a seven-time winner of the Romance Writers of America RITA® award and a member of the RWA Hall of Fame. She's written 10+ women's fiction novels, about dogs, families, food, and second chances. A resident of Colorado Springs, she enjoys gardening, travel, teaching, hiking, and, of course, good food. Learn more about Barbara and her books at her website


Monday, July 30, 2018

In Memory of Janga

It breaks my heart to have to tell you that this morning, my dear friend and blogging partner, Janga Rholetter lost her battle with cancer. Some of you only knew her through her insightful and flawlessly written reviews here at the Dish. Others may have met her years ago at Squawk Radio or on the Eloisa James bulletin board or, perhaps, more recently on Facebook or Twitter.

Janga was an admired and respected voice in the Romance community and a valued friend to many. I had hoped we would have more time to giggle together on the phone like schoolgirls; swooning over romance heroes like Parth in Born to Be Wilde, tomorrow's release from Eloisa James, or admiring the beautiful prose and laughing over the hilarious humor in Julie Anne Long's Hellcat Canyon books or lamenting the fact that more readers don't know about the brilliance of Anne Gracie and her wonderful historical romances. But God had another plan and our loss is Heaven's gain. Janga's faith was deep and she was at peace with the knowledge that her next adventure was on the horizon.

Janga loved the English language and was a staunch advocate of the written word. For those of you who only knew her through the blog, you may not be aware that she also loved introducing young minds to written works that touch our hearts, challenge us to think, and turn stereotypes on end. For 37 years, she shared her love of literature of all kinds - but especially Southern literature - as a teacher at a local high school and then at Auburn University. Last week, I was on the phone ordering birthday flowers for Janga from one of the florists in her hometown. The woman taking my order suddenly asked, "Is this for the same Ms. Rholetter who taught at Troup High?" I replied that it was. She said, "She was my teacher! My brother's too. I loved her class! I learned so much from her. She was my favorite teacher." I can think of no better tribute to a woman who held education and the written word in such high regard. I loved her class. She was my favorite. I learned so much

I treasure the years of friendship with which Janga and I were blessed. I also learned much from her, I admired her, I loved her, and I will miss her deeply. 

Rest in Peace, dear Janga. You may be gone from this life but your footprints will never fade. 

Tomorrow is a big romance release day and those days were among Janga's favorites. The best way I know to honor my friend is to support a hardworking author by buying one of the books releasing tomorrow, getting comfy, and losing myself in a world of hope, a world of love, a world of happy endings. I hope you'll do the same.

Janga's obituary

And because Janga so enjoyed sharing her love of romance novels with everyone here at the Dish, I'm gifting three of you with your choice of one of the following three books, by authors whose stories she treasured: 

Born to be Wilde by Eloisa James


First Time at Firelight Falls by Julie Anne Long

or Marry in Scandal by Anne Gracie. 
(Open Internationally)

Winner - - RWA 2018 / Part Two

The randomly chosen winner of a package of

books and swag from RWA 2018 is:



Please send your full name and mailing address 
(U.S. addresses only)

with RWA Part Two Winner in the subject line to:

theromancedish(at) gmail (dot) com

Winners - - RWA2018 / Part One

The two randomly chosen winners of a book and swag from

this year's RWA conference are:





Please send your full name and mailing address 
(U.S. addresses only)

with RWA Part One Winner in the subject line to:


Winner - Sweden / Part One

The randomly chosen winner of a book from 

my conference stash and

a souvenir from my trip to Sweden is:



Please send your full name and mailing address 

(U.S. addresses only) with

Sweden Winner in the subject line to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

Spotlight on When We Found Home

When We Found Home
By Susan Mallery
Publisher: HQN
Release Date: July 10, 2018

Life is meant to be savored, but that's not easy with no family, limited prospects and a past you'd rather not talk about.

Callie Smith doesn't know how to feel when she discovers she has a brother and a sister - Malcolm, who grew up with affection, wealth and privilege, and Keira, a streetwise twelve-year-old. Despite her trepidation, she moves into the grand family home with her siblings and grandfather on the shores of Lake Washington, hoping just maybe this will be the start of a whole new life. 

But starting over can be messy. Callie and Keira fit in with each other, but not with their posh new lifestyle, leaving Malcolm feeling like the odd man out in his own home. Becoming a family will take patience, humor, a little bit of wine and a whole lot of love. But love isn't Malcolm's strong suit...until he learns that an open heart, like the family table, can always make room for more.   

Excerpt from When We Found Home

chapter one

AS DELANEY HOLBROOK WATCHED THE MAN IN THE SUIT approach, she did her best to remind herself she’d given up on men in suits—in fact all men and most suits, when it came to that. She was a different person, with new and improved goals, although she could still admire excellent tailoring. And nice blue eyes. And a firm jaw. And his walk. He had a very purposeful walk that was incredibly appealing. She sighed. So much for giving up on men in suits.
She waited until he was directly in front of her before giving in to temptation and saying, “It’s been six weeks and this is getting pretty serious. Don’t you think I should know your name?”
She had no idea how he was going to respond. She half expected him to give her an icy stare and turn away, because this particular man in a suit had an impressive icy stare. She’d seen it more than once, albeit directed at others. But he didn’t glare. Instead he smiled. No, that was wrong. He didn’t just smile, he gave her a slow, sexy grin that kicked her in the gut and left her feeling all fluttery and stupid and just a little hopeful.
Talk about opening Pandora’s box.
“I’m Malcolm.”
His voice was low and masculine, with just enough gravel to give her a happy shiver along her spine.
“Good morning, Malcolm.” She pointed at her name tag. “Delaney, although you already knew that.”
“I did.”
“Your usual?”
Malcolm was a double shot, extra hot, large latte. Although he arrived every morning at exactly seven forty, he bypassed the busy coffee stand in the middle of the building’s lobby, instead making his way to the special bank of elevators that required a cardkey or a security escort to reach their lofty levels. But sometime midmorning, he would wander down for a morning latte.
Her shift ended at ten and more than once she’d found herself lingering, oh so foolishly, so she could take his order. A ridiculous truth that should have embarrassed her, but didn’t. Instead of telling herself that at twenty-nine she was too old to be crushing on a handsome stranger, she went with a kinder, gentler message. Time did heal and as she’d suspected, she was more than ready to return to normal life…whatever that turned out to be.
“My usual,” he confirmed as he handed over a reloadable gift card to pay for his coffee, along with a tall white mug. She ran the card through the cash register, then walked over to start his drink.
Luzia, her teammate, untied her apron. “I’m going to go to the storeroom for more supplies,” she said. “You going to be okay by yourself?”
“I will.”
Luzia smiled politely at Malcolm before stepping out from behind the counter and walking across the lobby.
Alone at last, Delaney thought, careful not to laugh. No way she wanted to explain what was so funny.
Malcolm slid the coffee card back into his wallet, then returned his attention to her. “You’re new.”
“Relatively. I’ve been here nearly two months.” She tipped the small metal pitcher of milk so she could insert the steamer. The familiar hissing, gurgling sound began. She poured four shots of espresso into the mug he’d brought.
“You’re with Alberto’s Alfresco.” She nodded at the logo on his mug. “Your company owns the building and our little coffee stand is a renter. Hmm, does that make you my boss?”
He grinned. “Don’t go there.”
“Why not? I suspect you like being a boss.”
“Not all the time.”
“Most of the time,” she teased. “Your suit is too nice for that not to be true.”
“What is your experience with people in suits?”
“I used to be one.”
“Unexpected.” One eyebrow rose. “Not anymore?”
“No. I’ve decided to go in a different direction.” She poured the steamed milk into his mug. “I know what you’re wondering, so to answer the question, it was my choice.”
In a manner of speaking, she thought. The decision to change careers had been hers—the circumstances leading to that decision had not.
“What direction is that?” he asked.
“I’m going to be a naturopath.” She waited for the look of confusion before adding, “It’s a—”
“I know what naturopathic medicine is. It emphasizes using the body’s own systems for healing through a combination of Western medicine and natural cures.” One corner of his mouth turned up. “My grandfather’s housekeeper has a niece who graduated from Bastyr University with a degree in acupuncture or something like that. Are you a student there?”
She ignored the bit about his grandfather having a housekeeper—the suit already implied money, so she shouldn’t be surprised. “That’s my plan. I have to meet certain prerequisites in science and math but my business degree didn’t require them so I’m going back to college to make them up.” She shook her head. “It’s been a while since I’ve had to go to class and study. My brain is still unamused and crabby about the whole thing.”
He sipped his coffee. “What classes did you start with?”
“Biology and algebra.”
He winced. “Good luck with that.”
“Thanks. At first I had to read every chapter three or four times to remember anything. Now I’m down to only having to read it twice. The lab work has been interesting, though. In three weeks, we have to dissect things. I’m dreading that.”
“There shouldn’t be blood. Whatever it is has been dead awhile.”
“Still. Knives, cutting, organs.” She shuddered.
His blue eyes brightened with amusement. “Is this where I remind you that you’re basically studying to be a doctor?”
“Yeah, I get the irony. I try not to think about it, but I get it.”
They looked at each other. She felt…something. Tension maybe, or awareness. Whatever it was, she appreciated the confirmation that she was alive, relatively healthy and moving on with her life. The world kept turning and dragging her along with it.
“I need to get back to work,” Malcolm told her.
She wanted to believe there was a hint of reluctance in his voice, but she couldn’t be sure. Still, it was nice to think about.
“Me, too.” She glanced at her watch. “Or rather, head home and study for a few hours before class. Enjoy the rest of your day, Malcolm.”
“You, too, Delaney.”
He hesitated a second before turning toward the elevators. She watched him walk away and let herself imagine that he would spin back and ask her to lunch. Or dinner. Yes, dinner on his yacht. Or maybe they could helicopter to somewhere nice, although she wasn’t sure where a helicopter ride from Seattle would get them. Portland? Vancouver. Oooh, an international destination!
Regardless, he would ask her to dinner and they would…
She laughed as she rinsed out the milk pitcher and made sure everything was in order for Luzia and the next shift. She and Malcolm would what? Go to dinner? Kiss? Fall in love?
Hardly. They had nothing in common. Years ago, maybe, when she’d been on the fast track in finance. Only then she’d been engaged to Tim. She wouldn’t have noticed Malcolm at all.
“It doesn’t matter,” she told herself as she slipped off her apron. She had plans and dreams and hopes for the future. Not anything she would have imagined, but now, after everything she’d been through, they felt right. She would learn to heal others and if she got through that, she might have the chance to heal herself, as well.

Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

#1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery writes heartwarming and humorous novels about the relationships that define women's lives—family, friendship, romance. She's best known for putting nuanced characters into emotionally complex, real-life situations with twists that surprise readers to laughter. Because Susan is passionate about animal welfare, pets play a big role in her books. Beloved by millions of readers worldwide, her books have been translated into 28 languages.
Susan lives in Washington state with her husband, two ragdoll cats, and a small poodle with delusions of grandeur. Visit her online at SusanMallery.com.

Have you read Susan Mallery's books?

Do you have a favorite Mallery book or series?

Have you read When We Found Home? What did you think?

Do you read Women's Fiction? What do you enjoy most about it?

The Taste of Seattle Gift Bag includes:
  • An “I [Heart] Happy Books” tote bag
  • Starbucks Pike’s Place ground coffee
  • Seattle Chocolates gift set (3 truffle jars)
  • Cucina Fresca marinara sauce
  • Sahale Snacks (6 packs)
  • Maury Island Farms jam (2 jars)

This is a tour-wide giveaway. There will only be one winner.

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Friday, July 27, 2018

RWA 2018 - Westward Bound (Part Three)

This year's RWA national conference kicked off on Wednesday, raced through a series of workshops, parties, random meet-ups, meals with friends, book signings, awards ceremonies, Blogger Day, warm reconnections with old friends, introductions to new friends, and wrapped up with the Readers for Life Literacy Autographing Saturday afternoon. It's a whirlwind ride but one I happily jump on every year and intend to repeat for as long as I'm able. Here are a few final highlights.

This seemed to be the year of flat shoes but I managed to catch a few people wearing heels. 

I was excited to discover that this rich, gooey, chocolate cake at the Librarians Day/Blogger Day luncheon was flourless. Which meant I could eat it! 

Joanna Shupe

Have you discovered Joanna Shupe's Gilded Age historical romances? I love them!

Katie Ruggle

You've heard me rave about Katie Ruggle's romantic suspense novels over the past couple years so you can imagine how excited I was to finally meet her in person..and come home with ARCs of her October release, Rocky Mountain Cowboy Christmas!

Author Victoria Vane led a fascinating workshop on ladies fashion through the centuries. In case you're wondering, yes, she made all of those fashions herself! Fashion models are authors (left to right) Madeline Martin, Eliza Knight, Julie Johnstone, Laura Kaye, Collette Cameron, and Victoria Vane. 

Valerie Bowman

Valerie Bowman pens some of my favorite historical romances and is one of the nicest people you'll meet in the world of romance. 

Carey Baldwin

I was so excited for Carey Baldwin. Her book, STOLEN: A Cassidy & Spenser Thriller, won the Booksellers Best Award for Single Title Romance. Her books keep me reading late into the night and she never fails to toss in a twist that catches me completely by surprise. I love that!

Miranda Liasson

Miranda Liasson is as warm and friendly in person as she appears in her photo. I just discovered her books about a year ago and have enjoyed catching up with her backlist. (My review of Then There Was You.)

Maisey Yates

I've fallen in love with Maisey Yates' western-set contemporary romances. I thoroughly enjoyed the first two books in her new Gold Valley series but the one I'm really looking forward to is Good Time Cowboy (due out 8/21). It's an enemies to lovers story and sparks have already been flying between these two characters in the first two books. I can't wait!

JoAnn Ross

I've been reading JoAnn Ross books for years but this was the first time I've met her in person. What a gracious lady!

More shoes!

PJ & Kristan Higgins

Celebrating Kristan Higgins' RITA® win for Now That You Mention It!

PJ & McIrish

And in the interest of equal time, here I am with Kristan Higgins' fabulous, firefighting husband, known affectionately online as McIrish. 

Sarah MacLean

Sarah MacLean was looking stunning at the RITA® awards! Her book, The Day of the Duchess was a Finalist for Best Historical Romance: Long. 

Nancy Haddock

It was such fun to catch up with Nancy Haddock, an author I hadn't seen in years. If you like cozy mysteries, give her books a try!

PJ & HelenKay Dimon

With 2018 RITA® winner, HelenKay Dimon, enjoying the Avon Romance and Rosé book party at the Tattered Cover Book Store in Denver. What a fun night! Winner of Best Romantic Suspense: The Fixer

PJ & Avril Tremayne

RITA® finalist, Avril Tremayne traveled all the way from her home in Australia for this year's conference. I so enjoyed visiting with her at this year's Blogger Day reception. The Dating Game: Finalist for Best Contemporary Romance: Long.

Wendy, Fran, Kristan

Enjoying the Librarians Day/Blogger Day luncheon with three of the nicest people around: Kristan Higgins and RWA Cathie Linz Librarians of the Year, Wendy Crutcher (2011) and Fran Cassano (2018) - both worthy recipients of this prestigious award. 

Erica Ridley

Erica Ridley is not only a terrific author but also did a wonderful job of emceeing this year's RITA® ceremony. 

Wendy LaCapra

Wendy LaCapra was a RITA® finalist in the Best Novella category this year with Her Duke at Daybreak (my review). I love to see good things happen to good people and Wendy is one of the best. 

Maria & Tracy

2018 Rita® finalist, Maria Geraci and Western Romance author, Tracy Garrett are two of my favorite people. It was fun to find them side by side at the Literacy Signing! This Can't Be Love: Finalist for Best Contemporary Romance: Mid-Length. 

Kelly Bowen

I'm so happy for Kelly Bowen who won her second consecutive Rita®. If you haven't started reading her historical romances, I highly recommend them. Between the Devil and the Duke: Winner of Best Historical Romance: Long. (my review)

PJ, Bronwyn, May Goldrick

I enjoyed visiting with  Rita® Finalists Bronwyn Scott and husband and wife writing team, May McGoldrick. Finalist for Best Novella: "Dancing with the Duke's Heir" by Bronwyn Scott (in Scandal at the Christmas Ball) and "Sweet Home Highlands" by May McGoldrick (in Christmas in Kilts:a Highland Holiday Box Set)

Nancy Naigle

Watch for a new Hallmark movie based on Nancy Naigle's book, Christmas Joy coming to television for this winter's holiday season! 

Lorraine Heath

Lorraine Heath is so lovely and gracious and I am loving her new historical romance series. Watch for book two, When a Duke Loves a Woman, scheduled for release August 21, 2018. 

Liz, Jeanne, PJ

I had a wonderful time visiting with Liz Fielding and Jeanne M. Dickson, both 2018 RITA® Finalists. Grounded Hearts by Jeanne M. Dickson: Finalist for Best Romance with Religious or Spiritual Elements. The Sheikh's Convenient Princess by Liz Fielding: Finalist for Best Contemporary Romance: Short. 

Beverly Jenkins & PJ

If there's anyone who can spend more than two minutes with Beverly Jenkins without smiling, I've yet to meet them. She was the belle of the Avon Romance and Rosé book party at the Tattered Cover Book Store. 

They're not heels but I thought they were adorable!

PJ & Sophie Jordan

Whether you enjoy historical romance, steamy contemporary romance, or YA, Sophie Jordan has a book for you! 

Kandy Shepherd

Australian Kandy Shepherd is not only an outstanding roommate but she's also a darn good author. I always look forward to a new book from her!

Kianna Alexander

Kianna Alexander with Back to Your Love, the first book in her Southern Gentlemen series. Kristan Higgins calls it "a lush, beautifully written story about the indelible mark of first love. Intelligent, fresh, and utterly lovely."

Jennifer Ryan

If you like emotionally charged romantic suspense set in rugged Montana, I enthusiastically recommend the books of 2018 RITA® Finalist, Jennifer Ryan. I can't put them down! Montana Heat:Escape to You: Finalist for Best Romantic Suspense. 

PJ & Cathy Maxwell

If you enjoy laughing, you'll adore Cathy Maxwell. This smart, kind, funny, generous, and talented author of more than 40 books and novellas lights up a room and her books will light up your keeper shelves.  

PJ & Alyssa Cole

I may have fangirled a bit over Alyssa Cole (okay, so I ambushed her in the hotel lobby while she waited for her room to be ready) but I can't overstate how warm and patient she was with this admirer of her work. She even waited for me to run up to my room to get my two copies of A Princess in Theory which she signed - one for me and a second one to give away here at the blog. 

A final toast to RWA 2018 at a cozy meal with friends. If you're ever in Denver, give the Blue Agave Grill a try.  The service was outstanding, the food (grilled salmon and roasted brussels sprouts), delicious...

...and my drink (a Sangria Swirl), divine!
It was the perfect exclamation point on another successful RWA national conference.

So, tell me... 

Have you ever attended an event where you got to meet favorite authors?

Which author would you most like to meet?

What's your favorite sub-genre of romance? Historical? Contemporary? Romantic Suspense? Paranormal? Something else?

What book are you reading now?

Comment on this post before 11:00 PM (Eastern), July 30, 2018 for a chance to win one of the two packages below.

Package #1: a signed copy of A Princess in Theory, a signed copy of An Affair With a Notorious Heiress by Lorraine Heath, a signed copy of His Cowboy Heart by Jennifer Ryan, an Advance Reader Copy of Rocky Mountain Cowboy by Katie Ruggle (on sale October 2018), an official 2018 RWA conference tote bag, and assorted swag. (U.S. addresses only)

Package #2: a signed copy of Coming Home to Crimson by Michelle Major, a signed copy of Run to Ground by Katie Ruggle, a signed copy of A Daring Arrangement by Joanna Shupe, a signed copy of Herons Landing by JoAnn Ross, an official 2018 RWA conference tote bag, and assorted swag. (U.S. addresses only)

And that's a wrap!