Wednesday, February 27, 2019

On the Road with Anna Campbell: 2019 - Episode 1

Hi Everyone! PJ, here. Are you ready for an adventure? Our favorite romance author / world traveler is on the go again and taking all of us along. Anna Campbell will be joining us at the end of February, March, April, and May to share her journey through France, Italy, Ireland, Scotland and England. I hope you're as excited as I am. Welcome back, Anna!

Hi PJ! Hi Romance Dish girls!

Lovely to be back here talking travel again. I had such a good time last year when I talked about my travels around Europe. I’m away for four months in total—a lot of that is writing time, but writing time still leaves space for sightseeing. This trip, I’m doing Paris, Venice, Ireland, Scotland and England. No exotic Balkan destinations like Slovenia or Croatia this time around! But I’ll still have lots of photos to show you and lots of places to tell you about.

As I write this, it’s midday and I’m sitting in my apartment in a very cold and foggy Venice. It’s 3 degrees C outside (37F). I haven’t yet ventured out, although I will later. The plan while I’m here is to edit The Highlander’s Lost Lady (The Lairds Most Likely Book 3) which is out at the end of April. It’s a nice excuse to stay home in the warm!

I left Australia two weeks ago to fly into Paris, where I had a lovely week mainly pottering around the Louvre Museum and getting over my jetlag – oh, and eating lots of croissants! I’ve learned with big art galleries like the Louvre, the best way to do them is to arrive with no expectations of covering a lot of ground, take my time, and concentrate on small bites.

Mary Magdalene by Quentin Metsys, The Annunciation by Rogier Van Der Weyden (detail), The Adoration of the Magi by Ulrich Apt the Elder

As you can probably tell from the pictures here, I mainly hung around 15th, 16th and 17th century Northern European paintings. There are worse places to go to get over a flight from Australia!
I also went to the ballet twice. The weather outside was frightful and Palais Garnier, the elaborate 19th century opera house near where I was staying, was delightful! Get a load of that Chagall ceiling! The dance works were all cutting edge modern, which I enjoyed, although there’s something about that setting that cries out for tutus and blokes in tights.

After a week in Paris, I moved on to 19 days in Venice. I’ve been to Venice twice before, in 1985 and in 1995, so it’s nearly 25 years since my last drinks on the Rialto. Too long when I love it so much. I don’t drive, so there’s something particularly friendly to me about a place where nobody else does either, unless it’s a motorboat or a gondola.

Something I’d forgotten about Venice is how beautiful and clear the light is. I hadn’t forgotten how ridiculously photogenic it is. So far, the main change I’ve noticed is how many people are around. It’s Carnevale here, and I got caught up in huge crowds on Sunday when I went out. People were dressed up in all sorts of costumes, mainly 18th century, but there were quite a few aliens in the mix. Lots of beautiful masks, too.

I’m a week into my stay and so far, I’ve done a lot of editing and a lot of walking around, particularly in the quieter parts of town. I’m finding it’s difficult to take a bad photo here – there’s something about water and old buildings and that high clear, blue sky that makes for a great composition.

I’ll finish on a lovely, although sad romantic legend. On one of my walks around the area I’m staying, Canareggio, I saw this intriguing sculpture of a camel and a young handler in Turkish costume on the side of a rather run-down palazzo (run-down palazzos aren’t exactly thin on the ground here!). I went back to my apartment and looked the house up on Google. It turns out it’s unofficially called the House of the Camel and the legend is that it was built by an exiled Moorish merchant who told his lady love that when she made it to Venice, just ask for the House of the Camel and she’d find him. Sadly, she never turned up. Sob.

That’s the trouble with legends! No guaranteed happy endings. Believe me, if I was in charge, that Camel House would have seen a wedding before it was done!

My next post will be about Ireland where I haven’t been since 1986! I’m definitely travelling down memory lane this trip. See you in March!

And just to confuse things further, how about a Scottish book as a giveaway? Someone who leaves a comment here goes into the draw to win a download of the first of my Lairds Most Likely books, The Laird’s Willful Lass. No geographical restrictions. Just tell me what legend or fairy story you think is the most romantic and why. Good luck!

Deadline for comments to be entered into the giveaway is 11:00 PM, March 2.

For more photos from Anna's travels, visit her on Facebook

For more information about her books, visit Anna's website

Monday, February 25, 2019

Review - - The Scoundrel In Her Bed

The Scoundrel In Her Bed
by Lorraine Heath
Sins for all Seasons - Book 3
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: February 26, 2019
Reviewed by PJ

The bastard son of a nobleman, Finn Trewlove was a shameful secret raised by a stranger. As Finn came of age, he had secrets, too—the clandestine nights spent with an earl’s daughter. But her promise of forever ended in betrayal.
Driven by a past that haunts her, Lady Lavinia Kent seeks redemption in London’s underworld, engaged in a daring cause inspired by the young man to whom she gave her innocence, and who then proved himself a scoundrel by abandoning her.
When their paths cross again, they can’t deny the yearning and desire that still burns. As they discover the truth behind the deceptions that tore them apart, Finn and Lavinia must fight to reclaim what they’ve lost, no matter how dangerous—because love is worth the risk . . .

My thoughts:

Angst, betrayal, redemption, sacrifice, gut-wrenching emotion, and a cross-class, soul-stirring love that will rip your heart to shreds then slowly, carefully, completely, mend it back together, stronger than ever. They all take center stage in this beautifully written novel by Lorraine Heath. 

I usually enjoy Lorraine Heath's books but this one takes a special place among my Heath keepers. I was hooked from the opening pages and remained immersed in the story until the very end, not just reading about these characters but experiencing their journey with them. Heath filled me with just about every emotion possible with this tale. Keep the tissues handy. You're going to need them. 

I'm not usually fond of flashbacks but they worked for me in this case. By using them in the first part of this book, Heath gives us an intimate look into a young, tender, and forbidden first love between Finn and his Vivi...before everything goes to hell, both believing they've been betrayed by the other. The price each pays is devastating and life-altering. When next they meet, several years later, each has undergone a transformation, making a reconciliation nearly impossible. Yet, the deep love they once shared still lurks beneath the pain and bitterness that has festered over the years. What follows is a deeply emotional opportunity to begin again, right the wrongs, and recapture the happiness that was stolen from them.

My heart absolutely broke for these two. What they went through was so heart-wrenching and what was done to them, absolutely despicable. The phrase, "forged in fire" seems appropriate for what they are forced to endure before finally finding happiness together. I fell hard for Finn. He has such a tender heart. And Lavinia. She's been through hell, dealing with it in the only way she feels she can, and faced with decisions no one should have to make. I wanted to wrap my arms around both of them and make everything better, make those decisions they are forced to make less devastating. 

When characters still linger in my mind weeks after reading their story, when what was done to them still elicits tears of outrage and sorrow, when their hard-won love soothes the pain of their journey and leaves me confident in their happiness, that is a book that's deserving of my highest recommendation and a place on my Best of 2019 list. Keep your tissues handy - it's going to be a roller-coaster ride of emotions - but do not miss The Scoundrel In Her Bed by Lorraine Heath. 

Are you reading this series?

Do you enjoy romances that take you on an emotional roller-coaster ride?

What's your favorite Lorraine Heath novel?


Winner - - Devil's Daughter

The randomly chosen winner of a print copy of

Devil's Daughter by Lisa Kleypas is:



To claim your book, please send your full name and 

street address no later than February 28 to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

Friday, February 22, 2019

Avon Tour Review & Giveaway - - Devil's Daughter

Devil's Daughter
by Lisa Kleypas
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: February 19, 2019
Reviewed by PJ

Although beautiful young widow Phoebe, Lady Clare, has never met West Ravenel, she knows one thing for certain: he’s a mean, rotten bully. Back in boarding school, he made her late husband’s life a misery, and she’ll never forgive him for it. But when Phoebe attends a family wedding, she encounters a dashing and impossibly charming stranger who sends a fire-and-ice jolt of attraction through her. And then he introduces none other than West Ravenel.
West is a man with a tarnished past. No apologies, no excuses. However, from the moment he meets Phoebe, West is consumed by irresistible desire...not to mention the bitter awareness that a woman like her is far out of his reach. What West doesn’t bargain on is that Phoebe is no straitlaced aristocratic lady. She’s the daughter of a strong-willed wallflower who long ago eloped with Sebastian, Lord St. Vincent—the most devilishly wicked rake in England.
Before long, Phoebe sets out to seduce the man who has awakened her fiery nature and shown her unimaginable pleasure. Will their overwhelming passion be enough to overcome the obstacles of the past?
Only the devil’s daughter knows…

My thoughts:

Halfway through the first book in this series, I was already begging for West to have his own story. By the time his book went up for pre-order and I discovered his heroine would be Phoebe, Evie and Sebastian's widowed daughter, I was over the moon with anticipation. I am happy to report that Devil's Daughter met all of my expectations...and then some. 

I've always had a soft spot for reformed rakes and Kleypas creates some of the best with Derek Craven, Sebastian (St. Vincent), and West Ravenel all near the top of my list. I wanted to hug young West and tell him everything would be okay and hug grown-up West and tell him how proud I was of how he'd turned his life around. I fell hard for his humor, his heart, his respect for those working his brother's estate, and his willingness to roll up his sleeves and work alongside them. I loved his playful side, evidenced in his relationship with Phoebe's two young sons, his sexy side, when his desire for Phoebe was given full reign, and his heartfelt apology for the actions of his youth. His vulnerability made me ache for him and want to jump into the pages of the book so I could fix everything. Luckily, for West, he had another reformed rake in his corner to help put things on the right path and wasn't that delicious. I do love it when one of my favorite heroes meddles in the life of another!

Phoebe is a wonderful blend of her parents and just what West needs in his life, as West is exactly what she needs in hers. I loved her hands-on relationship with her young sons and the lively interactions with her siblings. I enjoyed her humor and her stubborn determination and I appreciated her ability to forgive. It was fun watching her evolve from a grieving widow with uninspired sexual experience and little knowledge of her son's inheritance into a self-assured woman eager to explore her own sensuality and ready to take charge of her world. She's a great character on her own but I adored her with West. They have "meant to be" written all over them. 

Of course, a bonus of Phoebe being the heroine of this novel is that Kleypas gifts readers with plenty of delicious page time with Evie and Sebastian. Especially, Sebastian. No complaints here. I'll happily take all I can get!

Are you reading this series?

Do you enjoy revisiting characters from a previous series in new books?

Who is your favorite Lisa Kleypas hero?

One person who leaves a comment on this post before 11:00 PM, February 24, 2019 will receive a print copy of Devil's Daughter. (U.S. only)

Connect with Lisa Kleypas
Facebook: @LisaKleypas
Twitter: @LisaKleypas
Instagram: @LisaKleypas

Buy links for DEVIL’S DAUGHTER:

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Crashing Into Her

Crashing Into Her: Love on Cue
by Mia Sosa
Publisher: Avon Impulse
Release Date: February 19, 2019
Reviewed by PJ

Relationships are a thing of the past for Eva Montgomery. Her current motto? You can’t spell “manipulative” without man. But Eva has needs, and a one-night-stand at her best friend’s wedding is the perfect way to kick off her new approach to singledom. Then a job opportunity puts her in the same city with the guy she can’t forget . . .
Anthony Castillo is a perpetual bachelor—no strings, just flings—a status he maintains by being honest about his intentions and never looking back. So why is he still thinking about the firecracker of a woman who rocked his world at his cousin’s wedding? It’s a question he refuses to answer, until she comes crashing back into his life, taking his emotional walls down with her.
When her father doubts her ability to make it in LA, Eva vows to go big and prove him wrong. With her athletic background, she’s an ideal candidate for stunt work. But first she’ll need training, and the instructor is none other than her former hookup, Anthony Castillo. Except he’s not as cocky as she remembers and he’s definitely still sexy as sin. The only problem is . . . Anthony doesn’t want her anywhere near his stunt school—or his heart.

My thoughts:

Warning: You may not want to read this book in public if you're reluctant to share raucous laughter, heartfelt emotion, and lusty sighs with strangers. On the other hand, Crashing Into Her can be an effective tool for making new friends, as I discovered while reading the book at the beach the other day. Total strangers were putting down their own books and asking the title of the one obviously bringing me so much enjoyment. :) 

I'm not sure why I haven't read Mia Sosa before now. You can be sure I won't make that mistake again. There's a binge ahead! Crashing Into Her is fun, flirty, a little dirty, and oh, so sensual. Her characters are so real and vividly portrayed. They pulled me into their world from the get-go, taking me on a fast-paced ride that had me swiping pages with excitement while, at the same time, wanting to savor each delicious scene. 

Eva and Anthony are both so darn likable and so very deserving of their HEA, even if neither believes they want a relationship. The banter between them is fun and flawless, and their chemistry could spark an inferno. Talk about sizzle! Their physical relationship is scorching but there's also a sweetness about them that captured my heart. 

Sosa places Anthony's Puerto Rican culture front and center in this story with plenty of music - I have a new appreciation for Reggaeton - and detailed descriptions of food that had me wiping the drool from my Kindle...and searching Yelp for local PR restaurants. She should write a cookbook. I'd buy it. 

Secondary characters - and couples from the first two books - seamlessly weave in and out of the story, adding richness and flavor without detracting from the main couple. I especially enjoyed Anthony's father and Eva's best friend (also Anthony's cousin), Tori (Book 1 - Acting on Impulse). I can't wait to read Tori's story! 

With sweet sighs, laugh-out-loud humor, and sensual scenes that left my heart racing, Crashing Into Her has vaulted Mia Sosa onto my author auto-buy list and earned my enthusiastic recommendation...and a few new friends.   

Have you read Mia Sosa's books yet?

Do you have a favorite?

Do you find yourself wanting to search out the food featured in the books you read?

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Review - - The Eulogist

by Terry Gamble
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: January 22, 2019
Reviewed by Hellie

THE EULOGIST is a historical fiction novel set in pre-Civil War America, following Irish immigrants who live in the Ohio River Valley area. Told in the first person of Olivia Givens, who relays the twisted histories of her brothers, James and Erasmus, and her own trials as a woman who is more spinster than wife, who has odd ideas about religion as well as unpopular ones about slavery and women.

The writing showcases a unique and compelling author’s voice, and Olivia’s voice shows a woman who is both hilarious and gritty as she tells the truth as she sees it; however as the story continues and the years pass, there is little humor and triumph, but the grit remains to pursue social justice for those kept in slavery. In the end, there is probably a truthful sort of happy ending, one in which a slave was rescued and Olivia shares what happens to all the family members because she ends up being the one who outlives them all. To her surprise, she becomes the eulogist of the family.

Most of the story is set from the 1820s to the 1840s, so it weaves many historical components competently and naturally in an interesting way. In addition to slavery and abolition, there are interesting insights about the Irish immigrant experience, the rise of evangelism in early America, and the Industrial Revolution in all its glory, with the rise of the middle class and interest in science and medicine as well as reason. There was also the tragedy of the outbreaks of cholera, slave catchers who succeed, and constant fevers that could take anyone at any time--and do. Much of the humor spins around the evangelism side of history as well as the complicated love triangles that seem to crop up. I laughed a lot while reading and admired the author’s writing style and vocabulary.

Basically the story is thus: after their parents die on the journey west, the Givens children, James, Erasmus, and Olivia must learn to fend for themselves. James marries into a prosperous family and builds a thriving business and social standing in Cincinnati. Erasmus, who is plagued by wanderlust, becomes an itinerant preacher, loving and losing the love of his life as he makes his way up and down the river. Olivia--the least marriage minded of the group--surprises even herself when she marries Silas Orpheus, a doctor who is as odd as she is and admires the fact she is not conventional. When Olivia’s husband dies suddenly, she travels to his family’s home in Kentucky and encounters the horrors of slavery firsthand. She is able to help one slave escape to freedom, but her attempt to free a young woman named Tilly results in disaster. Despite this, the family continues to take risks to fight to end slavery, actions that causes ripple effects throughout the rest of their lives.

If you like to read historical fiction outside of a regular historical romance novel, I think this is an excellent choice: compelling, beautifully written, interesting. But there is little romance in it, of any nature, either of love or the good old days. What it lacks in romance though, it makes up for in grittiness and humor as well as a history lesson in the very things Americans still struggle with acknowledging even now. It’s not enough to say slavery and racism is wrong. This is a story about heroes who chose to take action to right those wrongs, which makes it very much a story worth reading.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Review - - Ten Kisses to Scandal

Ten Kisses to Scandal
by Vivienne Lorret
Misadventures in Matchmaking - Book 2
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: December 24, 2019
Reviewed by Santa

Ten Kisses to Scandal by Vivienne Lorret is the second book in her Misadventures in Matchmaking series and it is definitely a five star winner for me. Briar Bourne is the youngest of the three sisters who, along with their uncle, run the agency. Briar feels her role is an insignificant one compared to her sisters. She meets and greets prospective clients with delicious tea and mouthwatering scones before her sisters come in and set up the clients with potential suitors. Briar feels that her romantic heart and instincts make her the better matchmaker. A fact her sisters fail to take note of. So, donning her lucky slippers, Briar sets out to take on the most eligible bachelor in England as a client and, quite literally, steps right into quite a mess.

An innocent from the countryside, she thinks nothing of sneaking out of her home in the pre-dawn hours to go to see this gentleman at his home. The only people out and about are despots, rakes, rogues and whatever bit of baggage they have with them. Enter one Nicholas Blacklowe, Earl of Edgemont. And, no, he is not THE most eligible bachelor...not even close. Briar comes upon him occupied and endeavors to take his hack so she can continue her quest. He’s having none of it. He shares the carriage and takes her back to her home. She stubbornly hangs onto her right to pursue her mission. He thinks she’s daft and has no idea how dangerous it is for her to be out and about.

He can see she doesn’t know the first thing about how to read people. Briar's romantic notions cloud her vision. Nicholas is no romantic. He had a disastrous marriage and, despite his good intentions, made a misery out of his own cousin’s life. He is drawn to Briar and feels protective of her and attracted to her at the same time. And so they strike a bargain. He will give her ten lessons on ‘reading’ people and for every lesson he gets a kiss.  He also engages her to find his cousin a match. She agrees because she wants to prove she can match people to their soul mates and, besides, who would say no to ten kisses from a rogue?

I really loved the banter between Briar and Nick. Nick, despite his reputation, really cares for others as is evidenced by his closeness to his cousins who are more like siblings to him. I enjoyed watching him fall in love with Briar. And Briar is able to begin to see herself as an asset to her family - with quite a few hilarious hiccups along the way that show her value and potential. It was hard to see their struggles as they fall in love especially when people who are malicious and petty try to bring them misery. And nothing tugs at my heart strings more than a hero who knows how to tug at his heroine's heart strings. Nick does this in spades.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Winner - - Old Dog New Tricks

The randomly chosen winner of a Kindle copy of

Old Dog New Tricks by Roxanne St. Claire is:

Pamela Devereux


Please send your email address to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

Friday, February 15, 2019

Review - - Old Dog New Tricks

Old Dog New Tricks
by Roxanne St. Claire
The Dogfather - Book 9
Release Date: February 15, 2019
Reviewed by PJ

Daniel Kilcannon, the veterinarian known as the Dogfather, has been widowed for four years. He's spent the time running the largest canine rescue and training facility in North Carolina and pulling some strings to make sure each of his six grown children find a love like the one he lost when his beloved Annie died. 

But as the years slip by, Daniel's vow to never love again is starting to make him restless. When a woman who was pivotal to his past arrives in Bitter Bark, he wonders if her appearance is coincidence or the guiding hand of his dearly departed wife...but the truth is neither. She's about to change his life again in ways he could never have imagined. And Daniel isn't sure if his heart -- or his family -- will ever recover from the impact.

My thoughts:

Get ready for a beautifully written, deeply emotional, often humorous, and always heartwarming story of two characters who, after devastating loss, relearn the joy of opening hearts to life, to love, and to the possibility of a second happily ever after. 

I adored this book. I devoured it in one sitting then returned to the beginning for a slower read, savoring all its delicious nuances. After coming to know Daniel over the course of this series, I was fully invested in his journey back from the depths of life-shattering grief. It was never a secret that Daniel would eventually find love again but St. Claire kept readers guessing as to the identity of the woman who would bring that love back into his life. She couldn't have created a better heroine or a better story for these two. The writing is flawless, the story realistic and deeply emotional, and the ending had my heart, and tear ducts, overflowing with joy. In my opinion, it's some of St. Claire's best work. 

Old Dog New Tricks is a heart-tugging, life-affirming, deeply romantic journey between two characters who may have snow on the roof, but still hold plenty of fire in their souls. I can't imagine anyone reading it and not falling in love with Daniel, Katie, and the entire Kilcannon family, including the four-legged members. Old Dog New Tricks also gives readers another look at the Kilcannons' Mahoney cousins (firefighters!) and introduces the Santorini kids, all single and ripe for matchmaking. St. Claire has announced that she has  stories planned for all of them. I can't wait! 

As with the other books in the series, the cover of Old Dog New Tricks was shot at Alaqua Animal Refuge in Florida using rescue dogs and local men (not models). A portion of the book's sales will be donated to Alaqua to help save animals and place them in forever homes. 

Are you reading this series?

Who did you think would be Daniel's second-chance heroine?

Do you enjoy romance heroes/heroines with some life experience? 

I'm giving a Kindle copy of OLD DOG NEW TRICKS TO one randomly chosen person leaving a comment before 11:00 PM, February 16. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Tour Review & Giveaway - - In The Dog House


In The Dog House
by Traci Hall
An Appletree Cove Romance
Publisher: Entangled:Bliss
Release Date: February 11, 2019
Reviewed by PJ

Ten years ago, Jackson Hardy joined the Marines, leaving behind a woman he still dreams about. When he's called home to care for his ten-year-old nephew, no one is more shocked than he to run into Emma again. Or to still have those same feelings. But Jackson isn't looking for love, and neither is Emma, especially not with him. His precocious nephew, though, and a retriever named Bandit, are about to change that.

So what if Emma Mercer is an overachiever? She has plans to get her doctorate in psychology and create a no-kill shelter for the EST dogs she trains. Which leaves absolutely no time for romance. She's fine with a furry family—dogs don't teach you to love and then rip your heart to shreds. But young Matty's situation tugs at her heartstrings and there's no way she can't help him…and Jackson.

She may have hotter-than-ever chemistry with the soldier, but forgetting the past isn't easy.

My thoughts:

This was my first book by Traci Hall. It won't be my last. I was charmed by this heartwarming tale of second chances. The characters are well developed and realistic and the dogs are adorable. I liked Emma from the get-go, admiring her devotion to the rescue dogs she trains and her determination to find them the right homes where they can use their emotional support skills for good. I understood her reluctance to open herself to Jackson again and admired her determination to help him and his nephew, even if it meant putting her heart at risk. 

My heart ached for what Matty was going through. He's such an awesome kid. It took Jackson a bit longer to win me over but, of course, he did in the end. I really felt for him as he struggled with his PTSD, his sister's precarious health, and caring for his nephew while dealing with guilt for being on emergency leave and not with his military unit. 

And then there's Emma's Aunt Pepita, a free spirit with sage advice who I absolutely adored. All in all, a well-rounded (two and four) legged cast that kept me entertained, touched my heart, and left me confident in and satisfied by the well-earned happily ever after. 

Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | AppleBooks | Kobo

Add to Goodreads

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Meet the Author:

My name is Traci Hall and I love to write...sounds like the beginning step of a program!However, I am not sorry that I love to write, so I guess I'm in it for the long haul. Finger cramps, slumped back and numb feet from sitting all day aside, there is nothing I would rather do than tell stories. Hearing back from readers makes it all worthwhile.

Connect: Site | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads