Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Coming Attractions


It's hard to believe but this crazy year is already half over. My travel plans have all been cancelled and I'm pretty much living my life as a hermit these days but, at least, there have been some amazing books to keep me company while I isolate. And, the rest of the summer looks to be filled with more great titles. Here's what's on the schedule for July here at The Romance Dish.

Wednesday, July 1
kicks off the month with a tour review of Virginia Heath's The Scoundrel's Bartered Bride. This Harlequin Historical romance is a cross-class tale of redemption and second chances. 


Thursday, July 2 brings a review of The Footman and I by Valerie Bowman. This historical romance launches Bowman's new The Footman's Club series. 


Stop by Friday, July 3 to read my review of Christina Britton's newest historical romance, A Good Duke is Hard to Find. This book launches Britton's Isle of Synne series.


On Monday, July 6, I'll be sharing my thoughts about Rough Creek by Kaki Warner. This book marks Warner's transition to contemporary western romance and launches her Brides of Rough Creek Texas series. 

Tuesday, July 7
brings a review of Daring and the Duke, the stunning third and final book in Sarah MacLean's Bareknuckle Bastards trilogy. 


The charming The Best Man Plan launches Jaci Burton's Boots and Bouquets contemporary romance series and is the subject of my WednesdayJuly 8 review. 

Stop by Thursday, July 9 for the cover reveal of The Marriage Pass by Briana Cole. This African American women's fiction thriller is scheduled to be released February 23, 2021.

Tuesday, July 14
, drop by for my review of Just Make Believe and a Q&A with its author, Maggie Robinson. I'm excited to read this third installment in Robinson's madcap, 1920's, murder-mystery series. 


Friday, July 17, I'll be sharing my thoughts about Paris is Always a Good Idea. This contemporary women's fiction novel by Jenn McKinlay is scheduled for a July 21 release. 

Stop by to read my review of Sunshine on Silver Lake on Monday, July 20. This heartwarming fifth book in Annie Rains' Sweetwater Springs series will be released July 21. 


Thursday, July 23 brings an excerpt of Duke Looks Like a Groomsman by Valerie Bowman. This is the second book in Bowman's new The Footmen's Club, historical romance series about three titled gentlemen posing as servants and finding love in the process. 

On Monday, July 27, I'll be sharing an excerpt of The Ultimate Betrayal. This third novel in Kat Martin's Maximum Security, romantic suspense series will be released on July 28. 

That's what's on the schedule here at The Romance Dish this month. What are you looking forward to in July?

Four randomly chosen people who comment before 11:00 PM, July 3 will each receive a package of books.

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

Review & Giveaway - - Wild Wedding Hookup

Wild Wedding Hookup
by Jamie K. Schmidt
Publisher: Harlequin Dare
Release Date: July 1, 2020
Reviewed by PJ 

Concierge Mikelina Presley works for a luxurious resort club in sunny South Beach, Florida. She’s thrilled to land a two-week booking for a bachelor party at one of the resort’s most expensive villas—not least because the fiery chemistry between her and best man Bastian Ainsworth is deliciously tempting.

When the groom-to-be suddenly disappears, Mikelina and Bastian team up to find him, bringing them closer together. Their irresistible desire for each other is dangerously distracting, but the stakes are high for both of them: if they don’t bring back the runaway bachelor, Bastian’s little sister will have her heart broken. And Mikelina’s resort stands to lose out on the group’s lucrative booking—which would be devastating for her career.

As the search takes them all over South Beach’s sexiest hideaways, their racy fling becomes something much deeper and Mikelina finds herself falling for Bastian. But she hasn’t told him everything about her past, and a shameful secret weighs heavy on her mind… Can their passionate affair survive the truth?

PJ's Thoughts:

Thoroughly enjoyed this fun, sexy, and surprisingly sweet romp. The sexual chemistry is off the charts (so hot!) but I also enjoyed the emotional connection that quickly develops between Mikelina and Bastian. Both characters are interesting and I found myself quickly immersed in their relationship and invested in their happiness. The story flows well with plenty of humor, sexy times, and a great South Florida vibe. My first book by this author won't be my last!


Have you read Jamie K. Schmidt's books before? Do you have a favorite?

This book took me back to the South Florida vacations of my college days. Are there any particular romance books that evoke fun memories for you?

One person who comments before 11:00 PM, July 1, will receive an e-copy of HEAT, the USA Today bestselling first book in Jamie K. Schmidt's Club Interno series. 

Friday, June 26, 2020

Harlequin Mega E-Book Sale

Do you read category romances? There have been some great stories lately, in a variety of sub-genres, with diverse characters, from authors both old and new. For me, it's been especially enjoyable to discover newly published authors of color and other authors from a variety of backgrounds who I hadn't previously read. I've also been enjoying some spicy stories from Harlequin Desire (a line I hadn't read for a few years) and Harlequin Dare. As the summer temperatures heat up, so are some of my new favorite romances.  

From June 24 - June 30, Harlequin is offering 250 Harlequin Series e-books at the deeply discounted price of $1.99 each. Have you been meaning to give a particular Harlequin line a try? Is there a new author you've been hearing about? Maybe there's an established author you've been meaning to read. Or, perhaps, you're ready to step out of your comfort zone and try something totally new to you. At $1.99 per book, now is the perfect time to fill your e-reader with a summer's worth of great stories. Here are just a few of the titles currently on sale.

  • TEMPORARY WIFE TEMPTATION by Jayci Lee (Harlequin Desire, February 2020)
  • BLAME IT ON THE BILLIONAIRE by Naima Simone (Harlequin Desire, February 2020)
  • WITNESS PROTECTION WIDOW by Debra Webb (Harlequin Intrigue, February 2020)
  • HER HOMECOMING WISH by Jo McNally (Harlequin Special Edition, February 2020)
  • THE AMISH TEACHER’S DILEMMA by Patricia Davids (Love Inspired, March 2020)
  • COPYCAT KILLER by Laura Scott (Love Inspired Suspense, April 2020)
  • THE FLAPPER’S FAKE FIANCÉ by Lauri Robinson (Harlequin Historical, April 2020)
  • SEDUCED BY A STEELE by Brenda Jackson (Harlequin Desire, April 2020)

 View the entire list at Harlequin.com and Amazon.com (scroll down to view $1.99 titles).

Review - - A Shot Worth Taking

A Shot Worth Taking
by Tracy Brody
Bad Karma Special Ops - Book 3
Publisher: Tracy Brody Books
Release Date: June 30. 2020
Reviewed by PJ


FBI Linguist Angela Hoffman’s expertise and previous experience send her undercover on a critical operation. Only when her mission converges with the target of the Bad Karma Special Ops team, she is recognized by Tony Vincenti. A joint task force is formed to track a dangerous terrorist, and, as they work together again, Angela’s prior attraction to Tony escalates. Only her past work and betrayals eliminate any chance of her having a serious romantic relationship--even with the enigmatic soldier who makes her long for the kind of family she never had.


Undercover operations are Sergeant First Class Tony Vincenti’s specialty. He previously played Angela’s lover. This time, he’s hoping after they wrap this mission to see what can happen between them for real. However, when they learn of a potential attack, all hopes for a romantic interlude are put on hold while they race to find the target of a dirty bomb.


Tony is certain Angela is everything he wants in a woman, but first he has to earn her trust and convince her that, despite her past, they can have a future. When Angela’s fears become reality and she’s targeted by a deadly threat, she has to trust him with her secrets so he can protect her life. But will that trust run deep enough to convince her once and for all he’s a shot worth taking?

PJ's Thoughts:

Military romantic suspense is one of my favorite romance categories and Tracy Brody is a new author I'm enjoying. Brody combines well-developed characters with sizzling romance, edge-of-your-seat danger, snappy banter, and realistic suspense, then wraps it all up within a well-researched military unit. It's clear she's taken the time to do this sub-genre justice.

I enjoyed Tony and Angela's romance. These are two well-matched individuals with a whole lot of sexual chemistry. But, more than that, they like one another, respect each other's abilities, and are good teammates, on and off the job. Still, I sure did love that chemistry. Brody is very good at building sexual tension.

Brody is also good at building other types of tension and there's plenty to go around in this book. From terrorist bombs, to an attempt on Angela's life, to secret missions abroad, there was plenty of danger and potential chaos to keep me flipping pages. 

If you enjoy military romantic suspense with interesting characters and life or death consequences, give A Shot Worth Taking a try. It's the third story in the Bad Karma Special Ops series but stands well on its own. You will, however, meet several characters from the first two books and I recommend those stories as well. Desperate Choices (a 128-page extended length novella), introduces the series and tells Bad Karma leader, Ray Lundgren's story while the first full-length novel, Deadly Aim, introduces the entire team and tells the story of Spec Ops sniper, Mack Hanlon and Black Hawk pilot, Kristie Donovan. That one kept me reading way into the night. 

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Cover Reveal - - Never Let Me Go

I've been looking forward to this book for two years, ever since I turned the final page of Couldn't Ask for More, the story of Maxwell's younger sister, Alexis and his best friend, Bryan. Now it's Maxwell's turn to find love and we only have two more months to wait. Is that not a gorgeous cover? 

Never Let Me Go
by Kianna Alexander
The Southern Gentlemen - Book 3
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
E-book Release Date: September 1, 2020

Tender, emotional contemporary romance—you’ll fall in love with this band-of-brothers and the strong women they’re determined to win.

Architect Maxwell Devers is laser-focused on winning the contract to build a new cultural arts center--his biggest project yet. But as a single dad of a beautiful baby girl, he has to find some help if he’s going to stay on track.

Yvonne Markham is thrilled to get her first nanny assignment. She knows the high-paying job will speed her progress toward owning a child care center of her own. Maxwell’s daughter is a delight, and she quickly comes to love the bouncing baby girl. Falling for her handsome new boss, however, was not part of the plan…

Hang on to your heartstrings: This multicultural romance features a single father, a sweet baby daughter, and the nanny who falls in love with them both.


Enter to win first two books in the Southern Gentlemen series: https://bit.ly/2YbwtYp

Like any good Southern belle, Kianna Alexander wears many hats: loving wife, doting mama, advice-dispensing sister, and gabbing girlfriend. She's a voracious reader, an amateur seamstress and occasional painter in oils. Chocolate, American history, sweet tea and Idris Elba are a few of her favorite things. A native of the TarHeel state, Kianna still lives there with her husband, two kids, and a collection of well-loved vintage 80's Barbie dolls. For more about Kianna and her books, visit her website at: http://authorkiannaalexander.com/

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Review - - The Tourist Attraction

The Tourist Attraction
by Sarah Morgenthaler
Moose Springs, Alaska - Book 1
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Release Date: May 5, 2020
Reviewed by PJ

Curl up with a quirky small-town Alaskan rom-com that'll leave you laughing over:

  • grumpy local and the sunny tourist who turns his world upside down
  • rogue moose who threatens to steal every scene
  • vacation you'll never forget
  • And a sweet romance that doesn't need to scald the pages to burn its way into your heart

He had a strict "no tourists" policy...until she broke all of his rules.
When Graham Barnett named his diner The Tourist Trap, he meant it as a joke. Now he's stuck slinging reindeer dogs to an endless parade of resort visitors who couldn't interest him less. Not even the sweet, enthusiastic tourist in the corner who blushes every time he looks her way...

Two weeks in Alaska isn't just the top item on Zoey Caldwell's bucket list. It's the whole bucket. One look at the mountain town of Moose Springs and she's smitten. But when an act of kindness brings Zoey into Graham's world, she may just find there's more to the grumpy local than meets the eye...and more to love in Moose Springs than just the Alaskan wilderness.

PJ's Thoughts:

I loved this book so much! It's fresh, original, charming, heart-felt, and an utter delight from beginning to end. I adored grumpy local, Graham and endearing outsider, Zoey, cheering them on to an inevitable, but seemingly impossible, happy ending. They're fully developed characters I couldn't get enough of. Here's hoping we'll see a lot more of them in the next two books. The author surrounds them with an interesting cast of secondary characters, both human and animal (the lovesick moose steals every single scene he's in), amidst a changing landscape not eagerly embraced by locals. It sets up great conflict that makes the unexpected relationships forming that much more interesting. And I am here for all of them.

There are two more books to come and I can't wait to once again visit Sarah Morgenthaler's Moose Springs, hang out with the quirky locals, explore all the natural beauty Alaska offers, and lose myself in another laugh-inducing, heart-tugging romance. Watch for book two: Mistletoe and Mr. Right (10/6/2020) and book three: Enjoy the View (1/19/2021). 

Winner - - Dance Away With Me

The winner of a hardcover copy of

Dance Away with Me by Susan Elizabeth Phillips is:



Please send your full name and mailing address to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Review - - An Heiress to Remember

An Heiress to Remember: The Gilded Age Girls Club
by Maya Rodale
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: March 31, 2020
Reviewed by Hellie 

Can a scandalized heiress…

Beatrice Goodwin left Manhattan a duchess and has returned a divorcée, ready to seize control of her fate and the family business. Goodwin’s Department Store, once the pinnacle of fashion, has fallen from favor thanks to Dalton’s, its glamorous competitor across the street. But this rivalry has a distinctly personal edge…

And a self-made tycoon…

For Wes Dalton, Beatrice has always been the one—the one who broke his young heart by marrying a duke, and now, the one whose cherished store he plans to buy, just so he can destroy it. It’s the perfect revenge against a family who believed he’d never be good enough for their daughter—until Beatrice’s return complicates everything…

Find happily ever after at last?

While Goodwin’s and Dalton’s duel to be the finest store in Gilded Age Manhattan, Beatrice and Wes succumb to a desire that has only deepened with time. Adversaries by day, lovers by night, both will soon have to decide which is sweeter: winning the battle or thoroughly losing their hearts…


Hellie’s Heeds 

This book is AMAZEBALLS. You guys, the Gilded Age Girls’ Club series is a brilliant series; and I think Maya’s best series. But this series has it all: the era of women coming into their own and taking their power, the start (or so it feels) of all the best stuff women love being loved and appreciated, and happily ever afters.  

And yet there is something subversive about this particular story (and perhaps the whole series). Mind you, romance novels are already subversive in that they are books written by women for women for their pleasure and enrichment. (It’s why romance novels tend to be so maligned.) But Maya takes it a step further. Generally in a romance novel, the hero, as all rabid romance readers know (and I do, I’m a rabid reader), the hero is always someone rich, powerful, preferably titled so the heroine can be safe/truly loved. After all, you can’t believe in a happily ever after if you’re poor as church mice. Or can you?  

Wes Dalton--the love Beatrice, the heroine, left behind--is now the rich, powerful, most important man in New York City. He is clearly now Romance Novel Hero material, which he wasn’t sixteen years ago. Beatrice has just returned from England in a scandal because she just divorced a rich, powerful DUKE (the epitome of Romance Novel Hero material) to come back home. All Beatrice wants is to run her father’s store, to bring it back to its glory again. Wes wants to ruin the business of the family that destroyed the one wish he ever really had: to marry Beatrice. Revenge is always a delicious plot conflict device, yes?  

Yet it soon becomes clear that even though Wes is now worthy Romance Novel Hero material, it is not enough to win fair Beatrice. Why? Because as it is revealed in a humble few paragraphs right before Beatrice chooses love, a modern romance heroine needs to own her heart and mind, to know her heart and mind; and above all, she needs to be able to leave at any time and support herself respectfully because only then can she know she is choosing to stay because of Love and not anything else.  

Dude. Maya Rodale is my new romance author hero. I grant you the more modern romance novels from my favorite authors have given me similar themes and words of wisdom, but this particular story spoke to me. I could relate to Beatrice’s hesitancy to leap into another marriage, even for love, out of fear of losing herself. Women do it everyday. We’re even expected to, I believe; and we even expect it of ourselves. But this book...WOW. And in the end, Dalton becomes a modern day feminist in the best way. He truly is Romance Novel Hero material, all while trying to give all his wealth away. SUBVERSIVE. Well played, Maya, well played.  

And if you’re not like me and don’t want to write a master’s thesis particular to this series about feminism and the romance novel, you can totally enjoy this story on its own merits of being a story. There are complex loveable characters, plot points keeping people apart in a valid way (and when you realize why her mother doesn’t like Dalton--WOW! Just, wow!), and sexual tension and love galore. I hope Maya writes more stories in this era and location because I think there should be more romances about the New Woman, a reminder of how far we’ve come and how far we have yet to go, all while finding our Happily Ever After. 


Monday, June 22, 2020

Review - - The Last Train to Key West

The Last Train to Key West
by Chanel Cleeton
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: June 16, 2020
Reviewed by PJ

In 1935 three women are forever changed when one of the most powerful hurricanes in history barrels toward the Florida Keys.

For the tourists traveling on Henry Flagler’s legendary Overseas Railroad, Labor Day weekend is an opportunity to forget the economic depression gripping the nation. But one person’s paradise can be another’s prison, and Key West-native Helen Berner yearns to escape.
After the Cuban Revolution of 1933 leaves Mirta Perez’s family in a precarious position, she agrees to an arranged marriage with a notorious American. Following her wedding in HavanaMirta arrives in the Keys on her honeymoon. While she can’t deny the growing attraction to her new husband, his illicit business interests may threaten not only her relationship, but her life.
Elizabeth Preston's trip to Key West is a chance to save her once-wealthy family from their troubles after the Wall Street crash. Her quest takes her to the camps occupied by veterans of the Great War and pairs her with an unlikely ally on a treacherous hunt of his own.
Over the course of the holiday weekend, the women’s paths cross unexpectedly, and the danger swirling around them is matched only by the terrifying force of the deadly storm threatening the Keys.

PJ's Thoughts:

This was my first book by Chanel Cleeton. Let's blame that on too many books, too little time. I've heard of her, of course. Seen her books on lists, been intrigued by the covers, blurbs, and reviews. But, until now, I've not yet taken the time to read one. And that was a mistake. The only thing that would have made the experience of reading The Last Train to Key West more pleasurable is if I had been actually sitting on the beach instead of imagining it while losing myself in this compelling and richly detailed story.

Cleeton's characters are well-developed and relatable, their circumstances eliciting my interest immediately. I found myself invested in them, eagerly following their compelling individual, and connected, journeys, often with my heart in my throat. They are so vividly depicted that I quickly began thinking of them as real people which, of course, raised the emotional stakes they faced even higher. I enjoyed how Cleeton told each woman's individual story while seamlessly interweaving them into and out of each other's lives, and flawlessly, and in some cases, surprisingly, interconnecting them all as they eventually face a common danger greater than any of them can possibly imagine. 

Cleeton has a gift for creating a sense of time and place that immersed me in the Florida Keys of 1935. Her historical detail is rich, and well researched, enabling me to experience, through her words, the beauty of the undeveloped area, the post-Depression hopelessness, and the sinister undertones of those who would take advantage. Then, for even more compelling danger, she places her characters in the path of  the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane, one of the strongest, and deadliest, Atlantic hurricanes to ever make landfall. I don't know if this author has ever experienced a hurricane first-hand but her descriptive writing had my heart racing as fast as if I'd been right there with her terrified characters, waiting for death while praying for life. 

If you haven't discovered Chanel Cleeton's novels yet, I highly recommend beginning with The Last Train to Key West. I couldn't put it down. 

For the romance lovers among you, while this novel is historical fiction, there are romantic threads for Helen, Mirta, and Elizabeth and a satisfying conclusion for this reader. 

Friday, June 19, 2020

Review & Giveaway - - Dance Away with Me

Dance Away with Me
by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: June 9, 2020
Reviewed by PJ

Run, run, as fast as you can!

When life throws her one setback too many, midwife and young widow Tess Hartsong takes off for Runaway Mountain. In this small town high in the Tennessee mountains, surrounded by nature, she hopes to outrun her heartbreak and find the solace she needs to heal. 

But instead of peace and quiet, she encounters an enigmatic artist with a craving for solitude, a fairy-tale sprite with too many secrets, a helpless infant, a passel of curious teens, and a town suspicious of outsiders, especially one as headstrong as Tess. Just as headstrong is Ian North, a difficult, gifted man with a tortured soul—a man who makes Tess question everything. 

In running away to this new life, Tess wonders— Has she lost herself . . . or has she found her future? 

PJ's Thoughts:

I loved this book. It's filled with everything that I enjoy and appreciate about a Susan Elizabeth Phillips novel. Phillips is one of those authors who has the ability to create characters who are so realistically human that you forget they are the figment of someone's imagination. They have flaws, struggles, and battered dreams. They don't always make the best decisions. And, sometimes, as is the case with Tess, the best they can do is run away to a small mountain town and confront their grief the only way they can - with angry, heartbroken, dancing in the rain. Phillips imbues Tess with so many layers then sets her on a journey that tests her at almost every turn. She's not always likeable, doesn't always make the best decision, but aren't we all like that at times? Ian is. Like Tess, he also is on a journey, both personally and with his career. Phillips delves deep into his character, his history, his loyalty, and his innate kindness. He nestled right into my heart and refused to leave.

At face value, Tess and Ian seem an unlikely pair and, for a time, are adversaries. But when tragedy forces them to work together as a team, they slowly transition to a tentative friendship then, eventually, both they and the reader are awakened to the fact that these two really are a perfect match. But, of course, that awakening follows a journey filled with emotional ups and downs, plus sprinkles of Phillip's wonderfully wry humor and sarcasm, that kept me glued to the pages of this book from beginning to end. 

One of the facets of Phillips' books that I most enjoy are the communities she creates within them. In Dance Away with Me, she brings us a small, rural, mountain town, filled with interesting, quirky characters who are used to their own ways and wary of outsiders. The interactions between opinionated Tess and the townspeople, as well as among the townspeople themselves, are filled with sarcasm, wit, humor, and poignant moments that nurture not only Tess's evolution but that of some secondary characters as well. 

While difficult, potentially triggering, topics are touched upon in this book - miscarriage, death in childbirth, grief - the overall tone is hopeful, rather than dark. Phillips' never minimizes the impact of unexpected tragedy nor the depth of her characters' grief but allows them to work through it with the full range of human emotions, including anger, but also humor, bringing them through to the other side where hope, happiness, and new love awaits. 


Have you read Susan Elizabeth Phillips? Do you have a favorite book of hers?

Have you ever danced in the rain? After reading this book, and especially the wonderful Epilogue, that's exactly what I wanted to do. 

Are there any other women's fiction novels on your must-read list this summer?

One randomly chosen person who comments on this post before 11:00 PM, June 21, will receive a hardback copy of Dance Away with Me.

*Must be 18 or older

*U.S. addresses only