Friday, February 28, 2020

Review - - Sinful Scot

Sinful Scot
by Julie Johnstone and Cecilia Mecca
Highlanders Through Time - Book 1
Publisher: Darbyshire Publishing, LLC
Release Date: February 28, 2020
Reviewed by PJ

In a time he doesn’t belong, in an alliance she shouldn’t have made, they’ll fall dangerously, hopelessly in love.

New Orleans, 2020. Billionaire Rhys McCaim doesn’t believe for one second that his missing mother is a time traveler. Still, his father insists that she didn’t leave them willingly but was pulled through time to her true home in medieval Scotland. But when he and his three brothers test out an ancient time-traveling spell to appease their dying father and Rhys is catapulted to thirteenth-century Scotland, he can’t exactly deny it anymore. Suddenly he’s a Highlander in a land on the verge of war. He needs to get back to his time before all hell breaks loose, but first he must find his mother. Luckily, fate drops the perfect guide in his path. She’s brilliant, beautiful and bold, and he’s drawn to her in a way he’s never been drawn to anyone or anything before. But he can’t afford to be distracted from his mission or lower his carefully constructed guard.

Scotland, 1286. Maggie Irvine is betrothed to a vicious man who cares only of wealth and power. Marrying him will restore her family’s reputation, however, saving her siblings from lives of misery. She has resigned herself to her fate, but when a mysterious, handsome stranger magically appears before her out of thin air, her plan—and the stranger’s life—are in jeopardy. And the only way to save him is to risk everything. As she comes to learn the shocking truth of what he hides, Maggie discovers what happens when duty collides with desire and long-abandoned dreams rise to the surface.

Bound by secrets and lies, Maggie and Rhys are entangled in the brewing battle for the Scottish throne. With his knowledge of the future, Rhys possesses the powerful ability to alter history. Yet, to do so successfully, he must let Maggie past the defenses he’s spent a lifetime building. Now, an alliance that began in desperation becomes a need that will leave them both torn between what they should do and what love demands.

PJ's Thoughts:

I love this book! Julie Johnstone is one of my favorite authors writing in the Medieval period so I was excited when I heard she planned to join forces with fellow author Cecilia Mecca to create a new time travel series. The end result of their efforts is a first book that I simply could not put down. From the very beginning, I was thrust into the lives of McCaim brothers of New Orleans and fascinated by the events surrounding their ailing father, his outlandish assertions, and the mystery of their mother's five-year disappearance. Then, when Rhys finds himself hurtled back in time to 13th century Scotland, things really get interesting.

Sinful Scot is fast-paced and action-packed, with snappy dialog, sizzling chemistry, intrigue, suspense, high stakes, and heart-tugging romance. The sense of time and place is so accurately described that I could visualize it in my mind. The characters, and their emotions, so vividly depicted that while reading their story, it felt as though I was with them each step of their journey, sharing their hopes, their fears, their love. 

The second book in the series, Sexy Scot, sends McCaim brother Greyson back in time. Will he and Rhys find one another? Will they both reunite with their mother? Will they ever find their way back to 2020 New Orleans? Will they want to? I don't know the answers but you can bet I'll be eager to find out when Greyson's book, as well as those of the other two brothers, are released. Johnstone and Mecca have snagged me, hook, line, and sinker. 

Sexy Scot will be released March 31, 2020. 

Do you enjoy time travel romance?

Have you read either Julie Johnstone or Cecilia Mecca?

If you had the ability to time travel, where would you want to go?

One person who comments before 11:00 PM, March 1, 2020 will receive an e-book copy of Sinful Scot

Blog Tour Review - - Lady Edith's Lonely Heart

Lady Edith's Lonely Heart
by Audrey Harrison
Lonely Hearts Series - Book 1
Publisher: Audrey Harrison
Release Date: February 23, 2020
Reviewed by PJ

She is under pressure to find a husband she doesn't want.

He keeps to the fringes of society because of family constraints.

Will the written word be enough to bring two lost souls together?

Lady Edith Longdon is an heiress, in danger of being classed a spinster, and disillusioned with the fops, dandies, and fortune hunters surrounding her in society. Deciding it’s time to take her future into her own hands, she devises a foolproof way of finding someone she can love. She's convinced nothing could go wrong…

Lord Ralph Pensby, overwhelmed by a sense of obligation, and with no one he can turn to, is adrift from those around him…

Two people drawn together, both on a journey which will affect them in ways they could never have foreseen. Secret correspondence, mistrust and confusion, not to mention cads of the highest order, make this novel a fast-paced, heart-warming story, with appealing characters and a strong sense of time and place. 

PJ's Thoughts:

I was intrigued by the premise of this book and eager to give it - and the new-to-me author - a try. I appreciated the fact that Lady Edith is a bit older (23) and knows her own mind. I understood her frustration with her place in life but there were more than a few times when I lost patience with her. Then there's the hero. I've never been a fan of a mama's boy and, even though Ralph has good reason to be concerned about his mother, the author paints a picture of their relationship that would have me running in the opposite direction...though I did like his mother. And he does come around in the end. Don't even get me started on Lady Edith's mother, though. What an awful person.  

This book has a good story line, with plenty of potential, but I wanted more, especially as pertains to the characters. I needed more development, less tell and more show. I wanted to feel their emotions rather than be told what they were feeling. I needed to engage with them but I struggled to feel the connection...except within the letters the hero and heroine exchange. Within those missives, the author does a good job of exploring beneath the surface of the characters and showing the motivation for their actions but those letters comprise a very small part of the book.  

If you enjoy regency romance with traditional roles, formal dialog and limited physical chemistry (a few kisses), this might be a good book for you. I was left wanting more depth, but that's just me. 


Audrey was born about two hundred years too late. She wants to belong to a time when men were men and women were dressed in gowns and could float, simper and sigh.

In the real world she has always longed to write, writing a full manuscript when she was fourteen years old. Work, marriage and children got in the way as they do and it was only when an event at work landed her in hospital that she decided to take stock. One Voluntary Redundancy later, she found that the words and characters came to the forefront and the writing began in earnest.

So, although at home more these days, the housework is still neglected and meals are still late on the table, but she has an understanding family, who usually shake their heads at her and sigh. That is a sign of understanding, isn't it?

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Thursday, February 27, 2020

Guest Post, Review, and Giveaway - - His Secret Mistress

Back in February, 2008, I gathered my courage, stepped out of my comfort zone, and made the decision to attend a small romance author-reader event a couple hours from my home. The first person I met that weekend was Cathy Maxwell and by the end of the event, I felt that I had not only discovered a new author to read but had also made a new friend. Twelve years later, I still eagerly anticipate each new book Cathy writes and am happy to say our friendship continues to flourish. Her newest book, His Secret Mistress, launches her A Logical Man's Guide to Dangerous Women series. Logical men? Dangerous women? You have to know I'm all over that!

Please give Cathy a warm welcome to The Romance Dish.


Okay, Romance Dish readers, you and I can talk.  We read loads of historical and contemporary romances. We celebrate every aspect of the genre.  We’ve watched it expand and change over the decades.  We get that paranormals are never about vampires and shape-shifters  but celebrate the outsider--the people who don’t fit in, who have cut themselves off from anything resembling love or trust in the world.
               The high-minded duke is just another name for the person whose position creates a barrier between the real, the honest, the accepting. There isn’t a small town contemporary that doesn’t celebrate second chances, or a new adult that isn’t rooted in the importance of finding one’s self.
And that corporate raider?  Well, he or she needs a wake-up call to realize that a meaningful relationship is the only true currency of value, something you and I already know. We get it.
Recently, a friend asked for a copy of one of my books to read. She is not a romance reader. She is also highly intelligent, a progressive in all matters, and values her feminist credentials.
I think she asked for one of my books to read because, perhaps, I was not what she expected a romance writer to be? I don’t own a feather boa. I rarely talk about my books. I believe I seem sensible to her.  However, I do like bonbons.
Of course, I gave her a book. I gave her TREASURED VOWS, one of many I’ve written where the female protagonist isn’t afraid to face the challenge of living the life of her dreams.  Isn’t that what we all want?
I also included IF EVER I SHOULD LOVE YOU about a woman struggling with the mistakes of her past.  Are they like other historical romances? Yes, yes, and yes.  The tales I write are about characters stepping it up in their lives. They have goals, desires, and love is important . . . because you and I know that how well we love and how well we are loved in return is the only true measure of a fully lived life. 
Of course, my hope is that my friend enjoys the books. My dream is that she joins the legions of us who once looked down our noses at romance novels. We believed books should be critical, challenging, mind puzzles that can be sometimes dismal in their pessimism.
And then we discovered reading should also be fun.  We learned that a happy ending is not a pat on the head but what we dearly wish for in all of our relationships. Most of all, we learned that the pursuit of love is always fascinating and worth the time..


Woodard Photography Studio

Cathy Maxwell has been in publishing for over twenty-five years. Yes, that makes her a war horse, i.e. she has seen a lot of stuff.  Over the course of that quarter of a century, Cathy has written over thirty-five historical romances, hit the New York Times and USA Today lists, been nominated for or won some nice awards, made dynamite writing friends, and has had the time of her life. Her upcoming book has the old school title of HIS SECRET MISTRESS and will be out February 25, 2020. You can find out more about her at Or, if you wish to stalk her, She usually yaks back.


His Secret Mistress
by Cathy Maxwell
A Logical Man's Guide to Dangerous Women - Book 1
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: February 25, 2020

At the Logical Men’s Society—an exclusive bachelor’s club—brandy flows like water, bawdy stories abound, and a gentleman tempted to marry is always persuaded to reconsider . . .
Brandon Balfour made the mistake of trusting his heart to the exquisite, strong-willed actress, Kate Addison, with whom he shared one intimate night before fate intervened. Now a decade later, Brandon is a leading member of the Logical Men’s Society—for no woman since Kate has managed to captivate him.
To Kate, the memory of that night still burns strongly, because it was followed by a stunning betrayal. A chance encounter may have brought Brandon back into her life, but that doesn’t mean Kate will ever forgive him. She’s vowed to make him pay—even as she realizes the promises of the young love they once shared are still etched upon her heart . . .
Loving her exiled him.
Trusting him ruined her.
And now, a clash of passions threatens everything each of them ever desired.

PJ's Thoughts:

I thoroughly enjoyed this story of two characters who are given a second opportunity to capture a happy ending that eluded them fifteen years earlier. But, not without facing a whole lot of baggage from their earlier relationship, including each one's misunderstanding of the events of the past, of perceived betrayals. Their journey is filled with humor, snappy banter, heartache, sizzle, forgiveness, and love.

I enjoy characters with life experience behind them. It gives them depth. Kate and Brandon in their younger years wouldn't have been nearly as complex or interesting, while introducing us to them in their mid-thirties brings more of a richness to them, more layers to be unveiled. I felt a connection with them, especially with Kate, and a greater investment in the outcome of their relationship.

Characterization is something at which Maxwell excels and in this book, she gifts readers not only with a complex main couple but with an entire community of fascinating folks. I look forward to discovering more about them in future books and am especially curious to find out if my suspicions about a potential future couple prove true. In the meantime, if you're looking for a fast-paced, smooth-flowing, historical romance that will elicit both laughter and tears, I recommend you give His Secret Mistress a try. 

Have you read Cathy Maxwell's books?

Do you have a favorite?

Do you consider yourself a "dangerous woman?"

One randomly chosen person who comments before 11:00 PM, February 28, will receive a signed copy of His Secret Mistress that I brought home from Coastal Magic.

Must be 18 or older.
U.S. addresses only.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Coastal Magic - - Back from the Beach!

I'm back from my first Coastal Magic Convention and my thought upon leaving Sunday was, "When can we do this again?" If you're looking for a small (250-300) author-reader event where you can mingle with fellow romance readers, chat with favorite authors, discover new-to-you authors, and enjoy Florida in February, look no further than Coastal Magic. It's casual, warm, welcoming, and fun!

Here are a few highlights from the weekend. 

The weekend kicked off with a Roaring Twenties welcome mingle. Here's reader Amy with author Maggie Mae Gallagher. If you missed my review of The Fixer Upper, the first book in her Echo Springs series, check out my review here and download it to your Kindle today for only $1.99. 

Hildie McQueen writes sweet Western romances and Highland historicals. Check her out!

Jeanne Adams writes stories for a variety of readers, including romantic suspense, time-slip, paranormal, space opera, and more. And, as you can see, she also has a wonderful sense of humor. 

JD Monroe and her adorable dragon were a hit at the Roaring Twenties meet and mingle. 

Author Tigris Eden made jars of Bathtub Gin a/k/a Eucalyptus-Lavender bath salts and they smell so good! 

With the wonderful Nancy Naigle. Have you seen her new Hallmark Movie, The Secret Ingredient yet? 

With two of my favorite authors...and people: Cathy Maxwell and Amalie Howard.
Don't let the sunshine fool you. It was cold and very windy out there! 

Flapper extraordinaire, Elicia Hyder. I've yet to meet the reader who doesn't love her...and her books! 

I met so many new-to-me authors at this event whose books I'm looking forward to reading. One of those was Shana Gray. She came all the way from Canada! 

With the multi-talented Xio Axelrod. Her newest book, Frankie and Johnny: Let the Music Play, is waiting on my Kindle and I can't wait to dive in. 

April Alieda writes salty-sweet contemporary romance with magical elements. And has the best hair! 

Again with the fabulous hair! Seressia Glass (who also writes as Mallery Malone) is the author of  contemporary romance, paranormal romance, and urban fantasy.  And has the sweetest smile. 

Here's mischief waiting to happen! Ashlyn Chase, Cynthia D'Alba, and Eve Langlais are ready to party at the Roaring Twenties meet and mingle. 

Hailey Edwards and Avery Flynn ready to greet readers at Saturday's book signing. 

I was delighted to discover upcoming debut author, Yaffa S. Santos was one of the readers sitting at my lunch table Saturday. Her first book, A Taste of Sage, will be released May 19. 

It's always fun to catch up with YA Paranormal author, Shaila Patel. Not only one of the nicest people around but also a terrific, award-winning, author. 

A few of the wonderful featured authors who were in attendance at this year's Coastal Magic. 

Rene Folsom and Jeaniene Frost sharing some book love with readers at Saturday's signing. 

This one had me laughing all weekend. I adore Cynthia D'Alba and her books! 

Cathy Maxwell, earning her Coastal Magic wings!

Kait Ballenger brought her cowboy wolf shifters out to play. 

Bru Baker is not only a talented author but also an accomplished artist. 

And, when all was said and done, it was time to relax with good friends, yummy nachos... 


...and $3 margaritas.

Until next year!

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Winners - - A Few Good Questions

Thanks to everyone who suggested questions for 

my panels at Coastal Magic. 

They were an enormous help! 

The randomly chosen winners of a package of books are:





Please send your full name and mailing address to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

Monday, February 24, 2020

Review - - Never Kiss a Duke

Never Kiss a Duke
by Megan Frampton
Hazards of Dukes - Book 1
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: January 28, 2020
Reviewed by Santa

Everything he had ever known was a lie…
Sebastian, Duke of Hasford, has a title, wealth, privilege, and plenty of rakish charm. Until he discovers the only thing that truly belongs to him is his charm. An accident of birth has turned him into plain Mr. de Silva. Now, Sebastian is flummoxed as to what to do with his life—until he stumbles into a gambling den owned by Miss Ivy, a most fascinating young lady, who hires him on the spot. Working with a boss has never seemed so enticing.
Everything tells her he’s a risk she has to take…
Two years ago, Ivy gambled everything that was precious to her—and won. Now the owner of London’s most intriguing gambling house, Ivy is competent, assured, and measured. Until she meets Mr. de Silva, who stirs feelings she didn’t realize she had. Can she keep her composure around her newest employee?
They vow to keep their partnership strictly business, but just one kiss makes them realize that with each passing day—and night—there’s nothing as tempting as what is forbidden…

Santa says: 

Never Kiss A Duke by Megan Frampton is the first book of what promises to be another great series coined the Hazards of Dukes. I would give this one four stars. The Hazards of Dukes follows three dukes - strike that - two dukes and a duke reduced, by circumstances beyond his control, to a mere mister without means. That is what happened to Sebastian, Duke of Hasford who woke up one morning to find he was just a Mister de Silva - a bastard born of his father the Duke and his mother the Duchess. His father had a daughter named Ana Maria from his first wife, and thought he was marrying his dead wife’s cousin when, in fact, he married her sister. No one knew of this until her death which revealed all and made Sebastian a bastard.

What’s a duke to do when he’s no longer a duke? How can he go on as a mere, and let us not forget, pockets-to-let Mister? What skills does he have beyond his charm? What skills can he bring to the real world that he employed as a Duke. His good friends, nee’ brothers, Nash and Thadeus are dukes in their own rights. As a matter of fact Thadeus, as Sebastian’s cousin, took over the dukedom when Sebastian’s own illegitimacy is revealed. They try to help him out with Thad offering him money and an offer to stay on and Nash offering a night of drinking and gambling and a place to crash at the end of it all.

That is how they arrive at Miss Ivy’s Gambling Hell. This is no ordinary gaming hell and Ivy is no ordinary Miss. She welcomes both men and women of any class but one can only lose as much as they came in with. There will be no vowels or extension of credit. Gambling on money readily given by his friend Nash for Sebastian to burn off his ire, Sebastian begins to go from table to table and begins to form ideas about how to draw in more business. He inadvertently causes trouble which Miss Ivy can not allow to happen. Somehow Sebastian’s charm comes to some use. They sit down and as some of Sebastian’s ideas make sense and could work.

He comes to work for Ivy and since he has no where else to stay he takes one of the employee rooms there. Here we see him grow up in a sense. We also see Ivy start to let her guards down regarding men - especially those in the aristocracy. Because of men she lost all she held dear. Actually, her father took care of that when he gambled all they had away - including Ivy’s hand in marriage to a much, much older man. Ivy is made of very stern stuff and challenged the old man for her hand back. With the money she won she was able to leave all she ever had and go to London to ironically become a game hall owner. It was the only way she saw that she could keep her younger sister Octavia safe until they made enough money to get away from it all forever.

I enjoyed how Sebastian and Ivy grew closer, clashed, grew more attracted to one another. They were on fire! Their crash was heart wrenching but, fear not, there is a great HEA at the end. Sigh worthy indeed. I can’t wait to read the other two books in the series, as well.