Saturday, October 30, 2021

Coming Attractions


Who's ready for November? I'm reveling in the cool, crisp mornings, beautiful fall colors, college football and, of course, great books. The trees in my neighborhood are gorgeous!


December holidays are just around the corner and I have lots of stories to put you in a festive mood. Here's what's on the schedule for November.

Kicking off the month on Tuesday, November 2 will be my review of Dinner on Primrose Hill by Jodi Thomas. This heartwarming western contemporary is the third book in Thomas's heartwarming Honey Creek series.

Stop by Wednesday, November 3 for my review of Holiday Ever After by Jill Shalvis. This anthology features three previously published holiday novellas by Shalvis: One Snowy Night, Holiday Wishes, and Mistletoe in Paradise. 

Join me on Thursday, November 4 for a review of A Wanton for All Seasons. This historical romance is the third book in Christi Caldwell's emotional Wantons of Waverton series. 

Friday, November 5 brings a review of a new historical romance by Amalie HowardRules for Heiresses. This standalone is garnering rave reviews.

Kat Martin joins us on Monday, November 8 with a guest post. Martin's novel, The Last Goodnight launches her newest romantic suspense series. Click here to read my review. 

I'll be sharing my thoughts about Never Fall For Your Fiancée by Virginia Heath when the book's blog tour stops at the Dish on Tuesday, November 9.

Wednesday, November 10 brings my review of An Heiress's Guide to Deception and Desire by Manda Collins. I loved book one in this series and have been eagerly anticipating the follow-up. 


Nancy will be here Friday, November 12 with her review of Nalini Singh's eagerly anticipated novel: Archangel's Light

If you love the dust bunnies of Jayne Castle's (a/k/a Jayne Ann Krentz) future world (and who doesn't?), stop by Tuesday, November 16 for my review of Guild Boss, the newest novel in Castle's popular Harmony series. 

Filled with humor, heart, matchmaking grannies, and adorable dogs, the annual Christmas books in Roxanne St. Claire's Dogfather and Dogmother series are always on my must-buy list. Visit me Wednesday, November 17 for my review of this year's story: Peppermint Bark

If you enjoy spice in your holidays, stop by Friday, November 19 for my review of The Babe from Toyland by Daphne Chase. This steamy contemporary romance is sure to heat up your holidays. 

The Christmas Wedding Guest by Susan Mallery is destined to be an annual holiday re-read for me. I adored this women's fiction (with strong romantic elements) story about two sisters, a town that goes all out for the holidays, and unexpected love. Check out my review on Monday, November 22

Keep Me Warm at Christmas by Brenda Novak is another engaging, heart-tugging tale in her Silver Springs contemporary romance series. Stop by on Tuesday, November 23 for my review.

A novel titled The Christmas Bookshop and set in Edinburgh is sure to find its way into my shopping cart. Find out why on Wednesday, November 24 when I review this new holiday novel by Jenny Colgan

On Friday, November 26, we're "traveling" to Alaska with Finding Paradise, the second book in Barbara Dunlop's Paradise, Alaska contemporary romance series. Take a break from your Black Friday shopping to stop in and read my review.

I've already read an advance copy of After Dark with the Duke by Julie Anne Long twice and have no doubt I'll revisit it many times again in the coming weeks, months, and years. It's one of my favorite books of 2021 and, in my opinion, one of the best Long has ever written. Check out my review on Monday, November 29.

Closing out the month on Tuesday, November 30 will be a review of Once Upon a Cabin by Patience Griffin. I'm looking forward to this second book in Griffin's heart-tugging Sweet Home, Alaska contemporary romance series. 

That's what I have planned for November here at The Romance Dish. What's on your schedule this month? Must-read books? Thanksgiving plans? Travel?

One person who posts a comment before 11:00 PM, November 1 will receive a package of books from my home collection.

*Must be 18

*U.S. only

*Void where prohibited

Friday, October 29, 2021

Today's Special - - Coastal Christmas Excerpt and Giveaway


By Lori Hayes

Iron Stream Media BLING! Romance October 19, 2021 trade paperback and eBook

ISBN-10: ‎ 1645263487

ISBN-13: ‎ 978-1645263487


eBook ISBN: 978-1-64526-349-4

$14.99 trade paperback

$3.99 Kindle


When Christmas magic fills a house, the charm of falling in love becomes possible―especially in this heartfelt holiday story from award-winning author Lori Hayes.

Local legend predicts that whoever moves into an old farmhouse on a salt marsh will fall in love and be married by Christmas. Terri McMillan scoffs at the lore and sets out to buy the charming house in small-town North Carolina. However, the owner, Matt Baker, insists on one final Christmas in his grandparents’ home before he bids farewell to the past. In turn, he’ll help Terri renovate the old place, where she hopes to foster troubled teens.

Terri and Matt find letters and a diary from the Vietnam War era in the attic. Reading them together, they learn the truth behind the Christmas legend. Now they wonder…could love like this be in store for them?



At the end of the day we left the party exhausted but Sophie talked nonstop about what a blast she had.

Once we returned home, Sophie disappeared into the cottage to change clothes. At some point soon, I needed to move her into the big house. One thing at a time, I reminded myself.

I unlocked the back door, but before I made it too far inside my kitchen, Matt pulled me into a hug. We stayed melted into each other’s arms for a long moment before he leaned down, our mouths so close, yet not close enough.

“I’m curious,” I said as I pulled back slightly to challenge him. “What are we doing here, Matt?”

“What do you mean?”

“We hug each other, spend time together outside of fixing up the house.” I raised my hand to include us and the kitchen. “Go to dinner together.”

He shrugged. “So if I told you I’m attracted to you, would you be okay with that?”

I swear my heart smiled. “I’m out of practice with this whole attraction thing.”

He leaned closer and stared into my eyes. “You’re beautiful. I find it hard to believe you don’t date much.”

I felt my cheeks grow warm. “Thank you.” I didn’t want to appear as a complete reject when it came to relationships. “I mean, I had a couple of serious relationships but for one reason or another they faltered. I don’t think I was ready emotionally.”

He leaned closer. “I’m glad I met you now then.”

I stared at him, my mouth suddenly parched. I really needed a drink of sweet tea but didn’t move.

“Just a couple of relationships?”

I glanced away. “I dated here and there, but after a couple of months I learned we either had nothing in common, or we had serious communication issues. My crazy work schedule didn’t help.” In all truth, I had given up on meeting the right man and had pretty much stopped dating altogether. I enjoyed my own company, doing my own thing without someone giving me grief. I didn’t need the aggravation in my life, although I wished things were different.

“Well, your ex-boyfriends were crazy to let you go.”

My cheeks burned hot as I studied him. “What’s your story?” I wanted to know everything about him.

“I pretty much dated one girl throughout high school but we broke things off when we went to college. When I came back home, we got back together for a bit but things didn’t work out.”

“Was it serious?”

He nodded. “It was serious for me but she wasn’t ready to take it to the next level.”

I figured there was more to the story but sensed he was through with the topic.

Poor timing because the back door opened. With reluctance, I moved away from Matt and noticed Sophie was still wearing the same outfit except she held an armful of clothes.

“I thought you were going to change?” I asked out of curiosity while trying to keep the disappointment from the almost intimate embrace out of my voice.

She stared at the two of us as if curious about catching us so close together.

“I wanted to take a shower to get the fire smell off me.”

“Help yourself then,” I said as I stepped toward the pantry to preoccupy myself. “Are you all hungry for homemade chicken potpie?” It had been a couple of hours since we ate the oysters, and we had stayed at the party longer to listen to the music. I knew Sophie’s answer, as she made a dramatic gesture of pretending to wipe drool from the sides of her mouth. Matt nodded with enthusiasm and I laughed at their responses. “It won’t take long to make.”

“Sounds amazing,” Matt said.

“Are you kidding?” Sophie asked. “Homemade?”

“Of course.” This was one of the simple but impressive meals I made from scratch whenever possible. I prided myself in preparing a few easy but healthy meals instead of eating processed food. Besides, when I became a foster parent, I wanted to cook decent meals for the kids.

Sophie scooted off upstairs to shower and Matt busied himself with a project in the living room.

An easy dinner was necessary tonight, but even though I was tired, I still looked forward to reading the diary and letters. I thought about them often and knew Matt did too.

I tossed the few ingredients together, mostly consisting of large-cut vegetables, canned when in a hurry like tonight, creamed chicken soup, and two boneless chicken breasts I sautéed in a pan. Simple really. I mixed everything together in a bowl and spread out a premade pie crust. I scooped the ingredients into it, and then covered the top with another layer of dough.

Sophie reappeared in the kitchen, hair still wet from the shower, and I offered her a butter knife. “Here, this is so you can cut holes into the crust so it can breathe. It’s fun to make designs if you want.”

Sophie lit up. She bit her lower lip and got to work carving an outline of a pumpkin. When she finished, I stuck it in the oven for forty-five minutes.

“I’ll be back in a bit,” Sophie said, setting the knife in the sink, and then left the house. I saw a light turn on inside the cottage.

I approached Matt, who was busy removing a corner of the ugly wallpaper in the hallway. I knew I had won the battle about painting the walls instead of leaving the paper. Without thinking, I closed the distance between us and he looked up. His unwavering gaze made my heart beat faster.

As we gazed into each other’s eyes there was an understanding between us of what was coming next … our first kiss. And no sooner had I thought about it than Matt placed his mouth gently on mine.

Our mouths melded together, his breath warm, his scent intoxicating. His hands moved to my arms, holding me close, his right hand sliding down to my waist to the small of my back, making me quiver in its wake. Matt was gentle in his approach but took what he wanted, giving me everything in return.

No one had ever kissed me like that.

So hungrily …

So eagerly …

So deliciously.

He pulled away and raised his eyebrows as if to gauge my response. To reassure him, I leaned forward and our lips met again. This kiss was longer, more passionate and loving. Our arms wrapped around each other in a tender embrace.

When he pulled away, I noticed a wide smile on his face.

“Want to read the diary and letters before dinner?” he whispered.

Unable to speak, I nodded. We moved to the couch, but instead of sitting on opposite ends, we cuddled into each other. I leaned forward and handed him the letters and pulled the diary onto my lap.


Nana’s Diary: July 1, 1968 

I won’t lie, the past two weeks have been difficult for me and I haven’t felt well. The last couple of days I have vomited several times. I tried to trace back what I ate but all I could think of was I had chicken salad at my friend Dorothy’s house. I know chicken is one of those tricky foods that go bad fast. I can’t imagine my reaction has to do with that though. And it’s difficult dealing with a wild boy running around while I’m not feeling well, but by the grace of God, I am getting by.


Nana’s Diary: July 4, 1968 

This Fourth of July hardly feels like a celebration with my husband at war. I wonder if the American people appreciate the sacrifices our soldiers are making, the lives lost, and the price we pay for freedom. The holiday is more than shooting off fireworks into the sky.

A bunch of my family members—cousins, kids, parents—planned to sit on the beach tonight to watch the fireworks display. I’m not sure I want to go. For one, I will be thinking about Robert. For two, I’m still sick to my stomach. If I don’t start feeling better soon, I will make a doctor’s appointment. I am not a person who likes to visit the doctor unless I have to. It’s been at least a year since I’ve been to his office.

Anyway, I made pasta salad for our picnic on the beach just in case I decide to show up. Maybe I will, maybe I won’t. I know Daniel wants to go. Before I do anything else today, I want to write Robert a long letter.


June 25, 1968 

My lovely Shirley, 

I got two of your letters today. You must have sent them before I asked for your delicious cookies. I guess I have to be patient. I know you have your hands full at home while working and raising Daniel.

I thought it was hot here earlier but now I feel like I’m baking in the heat. The mosquitos are bad and will practically carry you away alive. I’m looking forward to getting a shower tonight, if you can call it that. Shower day is one of my favorites although it doesn’t take long to sweat again and stink.

Yesterday we went into a small village and drank. Don’t worry, I never drink much because I like to stay aware of my surroundings. Some of the men get rowdy with the women but I think that’s just plain crazy. Anyway, it was good to get away for a bit and have some fun with the guys. A person can’t work all the time without releasing some tension. I have to go. I am needed.

I love you and say hi to Daniel for me. 


Your Robert



July 4, 1968 

My lovely Shirley, 

I’m feeling patriotic in a new way. Even though I want to be home with you, the war goes on and it’s the 4th of July. We are experiencing our own set of fireworks here, but I would’ve preferred to be watching them on the beach with you. The heat continues and the mosquitos are bad. I can’t wait until the heat breaks and we get a good rain.

Tell Daniel I said I love him, and of course, know I love you more than anything. You keep me going. And I’m still looking forward to more cookies. 


Your Robert


Every once in a while we stopped reading to discuss our thoughts. I didn’t enjoy history in general but found it enthralling to read the intimate perspective from real people experiencing the war firsthand.

When the timer on the stove went off, Matt followed me into the kitchen. I opened the oven door and glanced at my creation. A light golden hue covered the top crust, the aroma of a baked pie filling the air.

“Wow, that smells delicious.” Matt licked his lips.

I smiled at him before I pulled the pot pie out and set it on top of the stove to settle for a few minutes. As if led by some unprecedented intuition that dinner was ready, Sophie opened the door and entered the kitchen.

“Mmmm,” she said, smacking her lips several times.

As usual, Sophie acted as though she hadn’t eaten a hot meal in months, although I knew she had because I cooked for her. Nevertheless, her interest in my culinary skills made me feel appreciated. Matt also commented on the idea of a home-cooked meal. As a bachelor, I assumed he didn’t cook much for himself.

I had to admit, I was becoming quite the homebody.

We ate mostly in silence because everyone was hungry and too busy shoving food into their mouths. After we finished washing dishes, Sophie excused herself and returned to the cottage. “I think I’ll suggest to her tomorrow to bring all of her things inside. I’ll set up one of the bedrooms for her.”

“What a wonderful idea.”

I glanced at Matt as I hung the dish towel on the oven door. “I’d like to add one more item to our remodeling list.”

“What’s that?” Matt asked without looking up from wiping off the table. He excelled at domestic chores and did them without complaint. I was sure my mother would say he was a keeper.

“I’d like to add a dishwasher to the list. Once I become a foster parent, I suspect I’ll have lots of dishes.”

He grinned. “I hope you have plenty of young ladies to fill up your house.” He tossed the wet paper towel into the trash can. “Just remember, their living here should consist of helping with chores. They need to learn to manage a household to some extent to benefit their future selves.”

He was right, and I looked forward to helping the girls to the best of my ability.

Matt and I sat together well into the evening. The more I read, the more I felt as though I knew Shirley and Robert Baker personally. She was almost a celebrity to me now. I knew Shirley watched over my house, protecting the home and even me in her grandmotherly way. I admired her strength as a mother and a loyal wife, the love for her husband apparent. I wished I had met her in real life. She was brave, strong, independent.

After Matt left for the night, I curled up in bed thinking about our goodbye kiss. I never thought it was possible to have intimate feelings to this degree. I always saw a policeman as a rugged hero, not a man I could be attracted to. Boy, was I wrong. It was endearing to see his caring side as he read the letters from his grandfather, his own hero.

Matt was deep and caring, someone I could likely spend my life with.



Coastal Christmas is set on the coast of North Carolina. If money were no object, where would you choose to spend Christmas?

Two randomly chosen people who post a comment before 11:00 PM, October 30 will each receive a print copy of Coastal Christmas. 

*Must be 18

*U.S. Only

*Void where prohibited

Lori writes contemporary romance and romantic women's fiction. She promises to deliver a happy ending in exchange for your much-appreciated time reading her novels.


She lives with her family in North Carolina, and while she hopes to someday say she lives near the beach, right now she is a short drive from the ocean. She thinks it's important to focus on what you have and to appreciate the small things around you, like the tang of salt in the air. For then it becomes possible for your dreams to come true, like her dream of writing and to be published.


She thanks her mother for her career. One day her mom planted the seed for Lori to be a writer, and it took hold. And as her grandfather always said, stop talking about it and do something. So she did. While her son took afternoon naps, she sat down and started her first novel.


Quickly she learned it wasn't so easy. She bought every book possible about writing, and to this day she's still buying books to study. She believes life is one lesson made up of many shorter ones. Tell the story of your own life, and it will come to fruition. She's living proof.


Learn more about Lori on,  and check her out on:









Thursday, October 28, 2021

Review - - The Last Goodnight

The Last Goodnight
by Kat Martin
Blood Ties, The Logans - Book 1
Publisher: Kensington
Release Date: October 26, 2021
Reviewed by PJ

When Kade Logan said goodbye to his estranged wife eight years ago, he never thought it would be the last time he saw her alive. Now her car has been hauled out of a nearby lake and Kade is determined to track down the man who murdered her. Enter Eleanor Bowman, a talented private investigator who’s about to stir up a hornet’s nest on his Colorado ranch.   

With old scandals still buzzing about his late wife’s many affairs and new violence erupting, Kade is faced with the discovery of another beautiful woman’s body. Are the two killings linked? Who is the man who seduced, then murdered both victims? Ellie believes they are dangerously close to the truth.

From corporate Denver high-rises to posh Vail mansions, Kade and Ellie sense the killer is closing in again, and this time Ellie is the target. Kade must risk everything to save the woman he’s coming to love—before she becomes the next one to die . . .

PJ's Thoughts:

Kat Martin has delivered another intense, tightly-woven romantic suspense story to launch her new series. This one kept me on the edge of my seat, eagerly flipping pages, and still trying to figure out all the answers right up until the big reveal. I'm pretty good at figuring out mysteries but there were so many (feasible) red herrings in this one that I just wasn't sure who the villain was. I love it when an author accomplishes that!

Kade and Ellie were both complex, well-developed characters who had immediate chemistry but also matched one another well in strength, determination, a love of the land, and pure grit. There were some red flags from Kade in the early stages of their relationship:  jealousy, and some uber-alpha tendencies that felt a bit old school. They gave me pause but by the end of the book those issues had been addressed and I felt confident in Ellie's and Kade's future. 

If you enjoy tightly-crafted, western romantic suspense that will have you on the edge of your seat, bring plenty of action, and keep you guessing until the end, check out The Last Goodnight. I read it in one sitting and am now eager to find out what Kat Martin has planned for Kade's brothers. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Review - - Christmas in Rose Bend

Christmas in Rose Bend
by Naima Simone
Rose Bend - Book 2
Publisher: HQN
Release Date: October 26, 2021
Reviewed by PJ

The holidays have never been her thing. But Christmas in Rose Bend has more than one surprise in store…

Grieving ER nurse Nessa Hunt is on a road trip with her sullen teen half sister, Ivy, and still reeling from her mother’s deathbed confession: Nessa’s dad wasn’t really her dad. Seeking answers, they arrive in Rose Bend to find a small town teeming with the kind of Christmas cheer Nessa usually avoids. But then she meets the innkeeper’s ruggedly sexy son, Wolfgang Dennison.

Wolf’s big, boisterous family is like a picture-perfect holiday card. Nessa has too much weighing on her to feel like she fits—even though the heat between her and Wolf is undeniable. And the merriment bringing an overdue smile to Ivy’s face is almost enough to make Nessa believe in the Christmas spirit. But with all her parental baggage, including lingering questions about her birth father, is there room in Nessa’s life for happy holidays and happily-ever-after?

PJ's Thoughts:

This book, y’all. I’m immersed in Simone’s fictional community, emotionally tethered to these complex, fully-developed characters, and, oh my gosh, I’m feeling the feels. All. The. Feels. Simone gutted me with this story, took me on a ride that encompassed the full range of emotions, broke my heart but never let me lose hope, and then stitched it back together stronger than before.

Nessa and Wolf are such wonderfully complex characters. I loved them together. Their chemistry is off the charts (love those steamy scenes) but they also have moments of such tenderness. One of the things I most enjoyed about their journey was how well they communicated, even - maybe especially - when it came to the hard stuff. And there is plenty of hard stuff to overcome. Simone has surrounded them with a secondary cast of characters who all bring something to the table. Ivy, Nessa's moody, 12-year-old half-sister, is a pivotal character who is especially important to the overall story. I very much enjoyed her evolving relationship with both Wolf and Nessa. 

While it was fun to catch up with characters from book one, The Road to Rose Bend, and novellas Slow Dance at Rose Bend and A Kiss to Remember (and I enthusiastically recommend all of those stories), readers can absolutely enjoy Christmas in Rose Bend as a standalone.

I highly recommend adding Christmas in Rose Bend to your reading schedule. The steamy romance, snappy banter, heart-tugging emotion, grieving heroine who’s just about reached the end of her rope, and hero many of us would like to find under our Christmas tree this year, all wrapped up in a big red emotional bow courtesy of Naima Simone's exquisite writing, make this one a keeper.

CW: Death of parents - Death of best friend - Military death - Panic attacks


Monday, October 25, 2021

Review - - The Christmas Escape

The Christmas Escape
by Sarah Morgan
Publisher: HQN
Release Date: October 26, 2021
Reviewed by PJ

It was supposed to be Christy Sullivan’s perfect Christmas getaway—a trip to Lapland with her family and best friend, Alix. But facing a make-or-break marriage crisis, Christy desperately needs time alone with her husband. Her solution? Alix can take Christy’s little daughter to Lapland, and they will reunite there for Christmas Day. It’s a big ask, but what else are friends for?

There’s nothing Alix won’t do for Christy. But Christy’s request to save Christmas is giving Alix sleepless nights. She knows something is wrong, but for the first time ever, Christy isn’t talking. And even the Arctic temperatures in Lapland aren’t enough to dampen the seriously inconvenient sizzle Alix is developing for Zac, a fellow guest and nemesis from her past.

As secrets unravel and unexpected romance shines under the northern lights, can Christy and Alix’s Christmas escape give them the courage to fight for the relationships they really want, and save the precious gift of each other’s friendship?

PJ's Thoughts:

The Christmas Escape by Sarah Morgan is one of those books that is destined to become an instant Christmas classic, at least in my house. Emotionally complex, thought-provoking, uplifting, and flawless in its execution, it spoke to me in a myriad of ways. I found the characters, and their circumstances, to be realistic and relatable. The depth of emotion tugged at my heartstrings (and evoked more than a few tears) but I was also delighted by the sprinkling of humor throughout. Little four-year-old Holly was a delight and - speaking from experience - very realistically depicted. 

Morgan's skill for creating immersive settings in her books is also on display here. By the time I turned the final page of the book, I was ready to immediately book a trip to Lapland. I don't know if she's actually been there but she brought this region to life as clearly and vibrantly as the Aurora Borealis that graces its winter sky. 

This book is women's fiction and while the journeys of the three lead women are the primary focus, romance readers should be aware that there are also strong romantic threads with happy endings.


Friday, October 22, 2021

Second Chance Winner - - Tracy Solheim


The Second-Chance Winner of

Tracy Solheim's giveaway package is:

Laurie G


Please send your full name and mailing address to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com