Thursday, March 31, 2022

Review - - With Love from Rose Bend

With Love from Rose Bend
by Naima Simone
Rose Bend - Book 3
Publisher: HQN
Release Date: March 29, 2022
Reviewed by PJ

He came to Rose Bend to hide. But she’ll help him find everything he’s been missing.

Leontyne Dennison is on a love hiatus. And that’s just fine, because perfectionist Leo is hyperfocused on the success of her family’s Berkshires inn. Volunteering for Rose Bend’s annual spring festival is certain to boost business—and provide the perfect distraction from men—until Leo comes face-to-face with Owen Stafford, the hottest one-night stand of her life.

A retired professional football player, Owen came to Rose Bend to escape after a devastating car accident ended his career. Enter the woman he hasn’t forgotten in the year since their sizzling night together. When Owen’s parents arrive, threatening his low profile, Leo helps keep the peace by pretending to be Owen’s girlfriend. Rose Bend was never part of Owen’s long game, but Leo’s increasingly convincing TLC is starting to give Owen every reason to stay.

PJ's Thoughts:

Naima Simone took me on another emotional roller coaster ride with this third book in her Rose Bend series and I am loving it. If you haven't discovered this series yet, now is a great time to jump in. Some characters from earlier books make brief appearances in this third story but you can absolutely start with Owen and Leo's story and not miss a beat.

There are so many things I enjoy about Simone's writing. Her complex characters are at the heart of her plots. The dialogue between Leo and Owen is sharp, witty, and insightful. The chemistry between them is off the charts and, yes, it plays out in some steamy scenes. But the feelings! Oh my gosh, there's so much emotion in this story and not only between the hero and heroine. There are complicated family dynamics at play for both Leo and Owen. I enjoy how Simone digs deep into those family relationships and the impact they have on our main characters. 

I love how the characters in this book are so relatable. Yes, Owen may be a millionaire professional football player but the issues he's dealing with are ones any of us might face. The same holds true for Leo and the secrets she's spent a decade bearing on her own. I felt their fear, their insecurities, and their grief as if it was my own. And I also felt their hope and joy as their burdens were released and their hearts opened. They are my favorite couple of the series and that's saying something considering how much I loved Nessa and Wolf (Leo's brother) in book two, Christmas in Rose Bend

Simone continues to up her game with each book she writes. I've fallen in love with Rose Bend. I've fallen in love with these characters. And, I can't wait to discover what Naima Simone has planned next. 

If you're interested in visiting Rose Bend (and why wouldn't you be), here are the novellas and full-length books published so far in the series:

Slow Dance at Rose Bend - 0.5 / Novella
The Road to Rose Bend - Book 1
A Kiss to Remember - 1.5 / Novella
Christmas in Rose Bend - Book 2
The Love List - 2.5 Novella
With Love from Rose Bend - Book 3

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Tour Review - - Sweet Home Cowboy

Sweet Home Cowboy
by Maisey Yates, Nicole Helm, Jackie Ashenden, & Caitlin Crews
Publisher: HQN
Release Date: March 29, 2022
Reviewed by PJ

The Hathaway sisters might have grown up apart, but when they agree to move to Jasper Creek, Oregon, to revitalize their grandfather’s farm, it seems a straightforward decision. Until they meet their neighborhood cowboys…

Sweet-natured Teddy has never met a man worth taking a risk on, until now. Tomboy Joey has more affinity with farm equipment than men, until a brooding cowboy changes her mind. Prickly baker Georgie can’t resist the temptation of the most forbidden cowboy of all, and sparks fly between ceramicist Elliot and the grumpy single-dad rancher next door.

The sisters’ feelings are anything but simple, but with the love and support of each other, they discover that a cowboy might be the sweetest thing of all about coming home.

PJ's Thoughts: 

I enjoy anthologies, I enjoy western romance, and it's always fun to discover new-to-me authors. This book had my name all over it!

I'm a fan of Maisey Yates and expected an emotional read from her but had no idea what to expect from the three other authors. What I discovered was humor, heart, and well-developed, intriguing characters who engaged both my interest and my emotions. 

The first thing to pull me into the story was the bond among the four half-sisters, all the same age, all with the same father who abandoned them before birth, all raised individually by their respective mothers. The women may have only known one another since the age of thirteen (they are now twenty-five), but their love for one another is strong. I enjoyed the unique quirks (house chickens, anyone?) and talents each brought to the farm, how different they were in many ways while being identical in their determination to not only bring the farm back to life but to also cultivate a new life together, strengthening their sisterhood in the process.

The romances are instant attraction but not without problems as each sister travels a sometimes rocky road to love. My favorite story was Elliot by Caitlin Crews but all four were enjoyable and left me wanting to read more stories by these four talented authors. The sweet and sentimental epilogue ties them all together with both chuckles and tears (happy ones). 

I recommend adding this anthology to your list of books for spring or summer reading. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Winner - - The Love of My Life


The randomly chosen winner of

The Love of My Life by Rosie Walsh is:



Please send your full name and mailing address to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

Review - - A Wedding on Sunshine Corner

A Wedding on Sunshine Corner
by Phoebe Mills
The Sunshine Corner - Book 2
Publisher: Forever
Release Date: March 29, 2022
Reviewed by PJ

They’ve driven each other crazy for years, but were they fighting each other—or the chemistry between them?

As the youngest in her loving, overprotective family, Savannah Lowe has always gone with the flow instead of going out on a limb…until now. Her new job running a preschool requires her to be all in. If only the father of one of her students wasn’t her brother’s incredibly infuriating, impossibly attractive best friend. Savannah has no clue what she ever did to make him dislike her, and now they’re stuck spending even more time together planning her brother’s wedding. 

Single father Noah Adams has his hands full between his job as a paramedic and caring for his young daughter. The last thing he needs is a complication like Savannah in his life—a girl he remembers being constantly pampered by her family. But the more he gets to know her, the more he sees how kind and compassionate she really is. Now their long-ignored, off-the-charts chemistry has them on a collision course…with each other.  

PJ's Thoughts:

Phoebe Mills checks a lot of my happy reader boxes with this second book in her small-town, Sunshine Corner series. I love the community dynamic of this series, with its core group of friends at the center. She has created a strong, supportive environment with friends and family who stand ready to help while also not being above well-meaning meddling. Savannah's family, in particular, plays a strong role in both Savannah's character as well as her journey with Noah.

Savannah and Noah both come with layers and complications that give them complexities that made them intriguing characters who both held my attention and engaged my emotions. I love a brother's best friend romance trope. Add in enemies to lovers (okay, maybe not enemies in the strictest sense but definitely adversaries), single dad, and childhood friends, and I'm sold. 

It was fun watching Noah and Savannah gradually move beyond the impressions formed in their younger years and begin to see the truth of who each of them is in the present. It was also satisfying to see each of them personally evolve and begin to learn their own strengths while learning to accept their vulnerabilities. I loved the sizzle and deep feelings that gradually grew between them. Noah's four-year-old daughter was a large part of those feelings. The story addresses the very real complications having a young child can cause in a new relationship while also highlighting the additional depth of emotion that child can also bring to that same relationship. I was cheering for a happily ever after for all three of them. 

If you enjoy small-town contemporary romance with plenty of humor, heart, and happy endings, give this one a try. It's the second book of the series and while it can absolutely be enjoyed on its own, reading book one, The House on Sunshine Corner, will introduce you to many of the characters you'll meet in book two including Savannah's best friend and boss, Abby (heroine of book one). 

Monday, March 28, 2022

Winner - - Nancy Northcott


The randomly chosen winner of 

Nancy Northcott's giveaway is:



Please send your full name, mailing address, and choice of

Mage Sentinel or Renegade Mage to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

Review & Giveaway - - How To Be A Wallflower

How To Be A Wallflower
by Eloisa James
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: March 29, 2022
Reviewed by Santa

Miss Cleopatra Lewis is about to be launched in society by her aristocratic grandfather. But since she has no intention of marrying, she visits a costume emporium specifically to order unflattering dresses guaranteed to put off any prospective suitors.

Powerful and charismatic Jacob Astor Addison is in London, acquiring businesses to add to his theatrical holdings in America—as well as buying an emerald for a young lady back in Boston. He’s furious when a she-devil masquerading as an English lady steals Quimby’s Costume Emporium from under his nose.

Jake strikes a devil’s bargain, offering to design her “wallflower wardrobe” and giving Cleo the chance to design his. Cleo can’t resist the fun of clothing the rough-hewn American in feathers and flowers. And somehow in the middle of their lively competition, Jake becomes her closest friend.

It isn’t until Cleo becomes the toast of all society that Jake realizes she’s stolen his fiercely guarded heart. But unlike the noblemen at her feet, he doesn’t belong in her refined and cultured world.

Caught between the demands of honor and desire, Jake would give up everything to be with the woman he loves—if she’ll have him!

Santa Says:

How To Be A Wallflower by Eloisa James is a five star treat. It follows Ms. James’ wildly popular Wilde family series. This first book in her latest series comes out on all cylinders and does not disappoint.  

You’ll find witty banter here between a brash, devilishly handsome American bent on building his own empire and an independent businesswoman equally bent on hiding her light beneath a bushel or, in her case, the puritanical cut of her gowns. I have to say how refreshing it is to have a businesswoman and not an heiress as the heroine. I thought it added another dynamic to the character.  

Jake Astor Addison is a self-made millionaire who comes to England to buy a theatrical dresser’s business and bring her and her entire business to the states to costume his growing number of theaters. I love the connection to theater, not to mention a glimpse into the early days of New York’s own ton. 

Cleo Lewis, aspiring wallflower, is the daughter of a successful businessman who trades in commodes and the intrepid, wild daughter of a viscount. She takes the reins of the business while her estranged grandfather wants to give her a belated season. Cleo wants no part of it as she has no interest in marrying. Her parents’ marriage was not a happy one with her mother’s infidelities that broke both Cleo’s and her father’s hearts. 

Cleo steps in and buys Quimby’s right out from under Jake. He is both incensed and intrigued and he manages to get under her skin, as well. A friendship develops between them as they live in the same hotel. They genuinely like and respect each other as passions develop in a slow burn.  No trip to a happily ever after can run smoothly but they both know what they have is worth the journey. 

There are a few other players in their life that add hilarity and dimension to their story. We see Jake’s dear friend Merry, now the Duchess of Trent. Yes, that Merry from The American Duchess. She adds a bit of mischief here. We also see Cleo’s friends Lady Yasmin and Lord Liliford. Not to mention a wily valet and a would be fiancee with a penchant for all things bovine. 

I loved every page of How To Be A Wallflower. I am excited for this new series and can’t wait for the next book! I am a huge fan of Eloisa James’ writing. Her characters are always bright and engaging. Her books are hard to put down. I have lost a great deal of sleep because I am up late reading her books and this one was no different. If this is your first Eloisa James book - you are in for a treat. If you are a long-time fan - settle in for another great read.

Do you enjoy historical romances that pair an American with a Brit? 

One randomly chosen person who posts a comment before 11:00 PM, March 29 will receive a print copy of How To Be A Wallflower. 

*U.S. only
*Must be 18
*Void where prohibited

Friday, March 25, 2022

Review and Giveaway - - The Love of My Life

The Love of My Life: A Novel
by Rosie Walsh
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
Release Date: March 1, 2022
Reviewed by PJ

I have held you at night for ten years and I didn't even know your name. We have a child together. A dog, a house.

Who are you?

Emma loves her husband Leo and their young daughter Ruby: she’d do anything for them. But almost everything she's told them about herself is a lie.
    And she might just have got away with it, if it weren’t for her husband’s job. Leo is an obituary writer; Emma a well-known marine biologist. When she suffers a serious illness, Leo copes by doing what he knows best – researching and writing about his wife’s life. But as he starts to unravel the truth, he discovers the woman he loves doesn’t really exist. Even her name isn’t real.
    When the very darkest moments of Emma’s past finally emerge, she must somehow prove to Leo that she really is the woman he always thought she was . . .
    But first, she must tell him about the other love of her life.

PJ's Thoughts:

I started reading this book in bed last night. It was a bit slow at first and I figured I'd try to get in a couple chapters before going to sleep. It wasn't long before the author began dropping little bits here and there that snagged my interest. Then a few more bits that gradually drew me deeper into the lives of these characters. Then the first twist that had me thinking, "Whoa! What's going on here?" By that time the first few chapters were in my rearview and I was hooked. There was no way I was going to be putting this book down until I hit the final word. It was a late night. ;-)

The Love of My Life is compelling, poignant, twisty, mysterious, suspenseful, emotional, gripping, and heartachingly real. Brilliantly plotted, with fully-developed characters who tugged at my heart, it's an intricately-woven story that kept me on my toes. Each time I thought I had figured out what was going on, there was another unexpected twist that had me gasping with surprise. It's an immersive experience that pushed my buttons in all the best ways and it never stopped surprising me, right up until the final page. When I say I couldn't put it down, I mean it. I. Could. Not. Put. It. Down. 

The Love of My Life is Rosie Walsh's second published novel. I haven't read her first, Ghosted, yet but you can be sure I'll be giving it a go...along with every book she writes in the future. This is an author to watch.


What's the last book that kept you up reading half the night?

Do you enjoy marriage-in-peril stories?

Do you read suspense thrillers or mysteries? Do you have a favorite author writing in that genre?

One randomly chosen person posting a comment before 11:00 PM, March 27 will receive a print copy of The Love of My Life. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! 

*U.S. only
*Must be 18
*Void where prohibited

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Review - - Big Duke Energy

Big Duke Energy
by Kerrigan Byrne, Christi Caldwell, Amalie Howard, Janna MacGregor, and Stacy Reid
Seasons of Sin Anthology Collection - Book 1
Publisher: Oliver Heber Books
Release Date: March 29, 2022
Reviewed by PJ

THE EARL ON THE TRAIN by Kerrigan Byrne
 Sebastian Moncrieff is a villain, a traitor, and a pirate, who has recently inherited an Earldom he never wanted. As a man who’s committed every sin imaginable, he knows his only chance at redemption is the one woman who ever reached through to his soul of ice. He’s kidnapped Veronica Latimer once before, and was enchanted by everything about her... This time, when he takes her, he’ll have to admit that she’s kept his heart captive since the moment they met. But can he convince her to forgive his past in order to claim a future?

LOVED AND FOUND: Christi Caldwell Lieutenant Thaddeus Phippen has lived a lifetime away from the only love he ever knew, a powerful duke's daughter. He's now returned from fighting Boney's forces, ready to put aside tragic battlefield remembrances and the memory of past heartbreak of love lost. Or that was the plan...until Thaddeus finds himself face-to-face with the one woman he soon finds he can't ever forget... Is the divide between former lovers too great to forge a future together...or can they at last have a love to last a lifetime?

THE WOLF OF WESTMORE by Amalie Howard Lord Wulfric Bane, the Duke of Westmore knows that blood is thicker than water, that duty is more important than personal desire, and that some things, like falling in love, are never meant to be. Cossetted and coddled Lady Jocelyn Capehart has been bred to be the perfect lady. On the outside, she is demure, sweet, and biddable, but on the inside, a vixen longs to break free of her cage. A chance meeting at a sultry club leads to one sinfully explosive night that neither of them can forget.

PUT UP YOUR DUKES by Janna MacGregor Martin "Duke" Richmond bows to no one, including any duke who protests what he publishes in his sensational gossip rag, The Midnight Cryer. However, he is occasionally open to negotiation when it comes to special requests from his wife. Estranged from her husband for five years because of the incendiary gossip he prints, Amelia Richmond finds escape from her lonely existence by volunteering at a foundling home, helping society's most powerful people avoid her husband's rancor gossip, and sleeping with her husband every Wednesday. Not an entirely unwelcome chore. When Martin goes on a rampage against one of the most powerful dukes in the British Isles, Amelia must use her wit and best persuasive techniques to rein him in. When her chance for a happy marriage appears within reach, Amelia finds herself falling for him once again, which is bad...very bad.

DUKE OF EVERY SIN by Stacy Reid Ethan Benedict, Duke of Bainbridge, has been an object of fear, fascination, and salacious gossip for years. To many, his reputation would make him an unlikely savior of a baby left on his doorstep. But Ethan saw the child as perhaps a pathway to redemption. What he did not anticipate was for his jaded heart to soften toward the mysterious young woman who infiltrates his household and secretly cares for the child.

PJ's Thoughts:

I'm a fan of anthologies. They offer readers a wonderful opportunity to read a shorter story from a favorite author, frequently featuring a secondary character from an existing series, while at the same time discovering new author voices without having to commit to a full-length book. Some of my current auto-buy authors have been discovered as part of an anthology I bought because of someone else's story. You really never know what gems await.

Big Duke Energy features five authors. Three are authors whose books I never miss, one is a well-known author I have yet to read, and the final author, Stacy Reid is one with whom I was not familiar.
I've read the stories by Caldwell, Howard, and MacGregor which are each attached to a series I've read, or am currently reading. I'll be reading the other two soon.

In Put Up Your Dukes, MacGregor explores a controversial - somewhat villainous - character from her Cavensham Heiresses series. Martin Richmond has stirred scandal for some of my favorite heroes and heroines without a hint of remorse. I enjoyed the layers MacGregor unveiled in his story, the hidden humanity, and the reformation of his character. The way it played out over the course of the story - with steps forward and back - brought realism to his journey and gave me the authenticity I needed to buy into his "new and improved" character. And I loved his wife!

If you're looking for extra spice with your romance, Amalie Howard's The Wolf of Westmore is a good choice. I adored these two! There's wonderful chemistry between the leads, great banter, and a history that adds layers of complications to their journey. I loved Jocelyn and how she took charge of her future. I was cheering her on so loud. This story is great on its own but if you've read The Beast of Beswick and/or The Rakehell of Roth you'll certainly enjoy catching up with some of the main characters from those books. 

Christi Caldwell is known for writing stories with deep emotional impact and that holds true with this story of second-chance romance. I love friends-to-lovers and this couple brings an additional layer of complexity with a friends-to-lovers-to-enemies-to-lovers dynamic. I was pulled in from the first action-packed scenes and kept eagerly turning pages until the end. This one features brief appearances by characters from Caldwell's It Happened One Winter from her Scandalous Affairs series but you do not have to have read that book to fully enjoy this story.

I'll be back to update the review once I've read the remaining two stories in this anthology but based on the three I have already read, I can enthusiastically recommend it to all of you who love historical romance. 


Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Review - - Incinerated

by Lori Matthews
Coast Guard RECON - Book 2
Publisher: Wild Coyote Press
Release Date: March 15, 2022
Reviewed by PJ

Meet Axel Cantor of the US Coast Guard’s TEAM RECON. As in reconstructed. As in broken and needs fixing.

When a cargo ship gets stuck in the Suez Canal and an American journalist on board ends up dead, Axel is sent in to investigate. He didn’t count on running into Sloan Bishop another reporter and the love of his life. Or maybe the hate of his life. Ever since he ended up in one of her articles.

Sloan is a driven reporter and will get the story at any cost. She’s on board the ship to document the first-ever female pilot to navigate the canal. But it all goes sideways, literally. The female pilot is blamed but Sloan knows there’s more to the story. When her best friend and fellow journalist, Eddie, is murdered, it becomes personal.

As the body count rises on the stuck cargo ship, the Sea Jewel, both Axel and Sloan will have to lower their defenses to work together to figure out what is really going on. There is something much bigger at play here, so big that Axel has to call in reinforcements – his fellow RECON teammates.

PJ's Thoughts:

Matthews continues to bring the action, danger, and romance in this second book of her Coast Guard RECON series. The suspense is intense and intricately woven throughout the book. The romance is second-chance (one of my favorites) though it took a back seat to the suspense for me, likely due to the heroine. While I adored Axel, it took me a long time to warm up to Sloan, mostly due to her "get the story at all costs" attitude. She does finally realize the error of her ways - and they get their happy ending - but it does take a while.

Matthews' research is impeccable and brings the locations in her books to life. In this one, she made me believe I was on a ship grounded in the Suez Canal. The sights, smells, and sensations of being trapped on a boat controlled by mercenaries had me experiencing emotions right along with the characters. Full immersion into a story is one of the facets of writing at which this author excels. 

The suspense/action/danger portion of this book was 5 stars all the way for me, keeping me on the edge of my seat with heart racing pretty much the entire book. The characters were fully developed, engaging my interest and emotions. Where it fell a little bit short for me was in the culmination of the romantic arc (it felt rushed) and a few threads related to the suspense storyline that were left hanging. I don't know if those threads will be picked up later or not but I wanted more closure. Other than those two issues (minor in the grand scheme of things), this was another high octane, glued to the pages, romantic suspense thriller from an author who is quickly becoming one of my favorites. If this type of story is your cup of tea, Lori Matthews is definitely an author you'll want to check out. 

Incinerated can stand on its own but as the members of the RECON team feature prominently in both books I recommend beginning with Diverted (click to read my review) before moving on to Incinerated


Monday, March 21, 2022

Review - - Savvy Sheldon Feels Good as Hell

Savvy Sheldon Feels Good as Hell: A Novel 
by Taj McCoy
Publisher: MIRA
Release Date: March 22, 2022
Reviewed by PJ

Savvy Sheldon spends a lot of time tiptoeing around the cracks in her life: her high-stress and low-thanks job, her clueless boyfriend and the falling-apart kitchen she inherited from her beloved grandma—who taught her how to cook and how to love people by feeding them. But when Savvy’s world starts to crash down around her, she knows it’s time for some renovations.

Starting from the outside in, Savvy tackles her crumbling kitchen, her relationship with her body, her work–life balance (or lack thereof) and, last but not least, her love life. The only thing that doesn’t seem to require effort is her ride-or-die squad of friends. But as any home-reno-show junkie can tell you, something always falls apart during renovations. First, Savvy passes out during hot yoga. Then it turns out that the contractor she hires is the same sexy stranger she unintentionally offended by judging based on appearances. Worst of all, Savvy can’t seem to go anywhere without tripping over her ex and his latest "upgrade." Savvy begins to realize that maybe she should’ve started her renovations the other way around: beginning with how she sees herself before building a love that lasts.

PJ's Thoughts:

Savvy Sheldon is a kind, funny, hardworking woman who has reached a crossroads in her life. After six years together, her self-absorbed boyfriend dumps her for an "upgrade," telling her she's too fat, works too much, and doesn't devote enough of her time to him. Slowly, Savvy begins to realize the toll the relationship has taken on her, both physically and emotionally. She's lost her voice, subsuming her own values and opinions to his. In her career life, she's working more and more hours, taking on projects for multiple people, as well as her own assignments, with little to no thanks. It's slowly becoming apparent that the only person Savvy doesn't make a priority is herself.

I enjoyed this story. The author did a decent job of keeping it flowing and holding my interest. There are parts that lagged a bit, and descriptions of activities that seemed to go on too long, but never to the point where I put the book down and walked away. I loved the relationship between Savvy and her two best girlfriends. We should all have ride-or-die friends who pump us up, have our back, tell it to us straight, and go after a scumbag ex without hesitation. The food in this book (Savvy is a fabulous cook) is drool-worthy. Do not start reading if you're hungry. Trust me, it won't end well. *grin*

My heart ached each time Savvy encountered her ex with another woman and took two steps back in her self-confidence. Gaining the strength to put him firmly in her past was a slow - and realistic - process. But I cheered her on the entire way. Her new love interest, and his dog, both captured my heart. I loved that he noticed her and was intrigued by her long before she began her "self improvement" journey. I was a little put off by that journey in the first chapters of the book, thinking this might be a "I'll get skinny and my ex will come crawling back" story. It may have started that way in Savvy's mind but it turned out to be much more complex. First, she did not get skinny. She got healthy. More importantly, she learned to like herself, to value herself for the person she was rather than trying to turn herself into the person her selfish ex wanted her to be. Readers should be aware, however, that the process takes most of the book and there are diet, workout, and self-blaming issues that occur along the way.

This book is marketed as a romcom. For me, it read more like women's fiction with romantic elements. Yes, there is humor in the story, and there is a romance, and a happy ending, but the primary focus is on Savvy, her growth, and her journey. McCoy's characters are fully developed, relatable, and engaging. I enjoyed the diversity of the characters (Savvy's mother is Thai-American and her father was Black. Her love interest is also black) and the cultural references. This book is McCoy's debut. I don't know what she has planned next but I'll definitely be taking a look. 

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Winner - - In a New York Minute


The randomly chosen winner of 

In a New York Minute by Kate Spencer is:



Please send your full name and mailing address to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

Friday, March 18, 2022

Today's Special - - Nancy Northcott Guest Post & Giveaway

Did you know that Romance Dish Reviewer Nancy is also a published author? Her books range from historical fantasy to contemporary paranormal to romantic spy adventures and even space opera. There's a bit of something for everyone! Today, Nancy joins us to talk about the appeal of tortured heroes and share what's going on with some of her own. Welcome, Nancy! 

The Appeal of the Tortured Hero

by Nancy Northcott


Thanks for having me today, PJ! 

I have a special fondness for stories of tortured heroes. Watching love bring them into the light is one of my favorite romance journeys. We all admire someone who pushes through to do the right thing, even when it’s difficult. Even when—maybe especially when—it’s painful. Or comes at a high personal price. 

Such characters appear in all genres, but they have special appeal in romance. We expect our heroes to do what’s right, but we love them more when it’s difficult for them. Romances with tortured heroes often involve renunciation, the hero giving up the heroine in the (mistaken) belief she’ll be better off without him. The heroine, of course, refuses to accept this. Sometimes she wins the hero back, and sometimes an external force, a friend, an event, or even a surfacing, long-forgotten memory spurs him to reconsider. To understand where he’s coming from and why he’s wrong. 

Reaching the point where he realizes that he not only deserves love but can be a positive factor in someone else’s life, completes the hero’s story arc. There are heroines who walk away for similar reasons, but such sacrifices are more commonly made by heroes. 

Romance is the genre of healing and emotional redemption, after all. It thus offers wide latitude to a heroine trying to soothe a tortured soul with love. 

Sherrilynn Kenyon’s Acheron is probably the ultimate tortured hero. Through centuries of abuse, he has internalized a terrible self-image. His human death unleashed destruction. He now resolves to be alone, protecting mankind and supporting all the other Dark-Hunters. Until one woman insisted on seeing him a different way. 

Pamela Clare’s Zach McBride (Breaking Point) suffers from survivor guilt that keeps him from building a personal life for himself. Despite his feelings for reporter Natalie Benoit, he walks away from her. Until he can’t, because she has become a target. Protecting her forces him to face his feelings and move beyond his guilt and fear. 

Nalini Singh has written a number of tortured heroes in her Psy/Changeling series. One of my favorites is Kaleb Krychek (Heart of Obsidian), a cardinal telepath who sees himself as a monster. He finds and rescues the only friend from his childhood. She doesn’t see him as a monster, and she also bears scars. The rescue is their chance to save each other. 

As a writer, I gravitate toward friends-to-lovers or second-chance-at-love stories, sometimes a hybrid of the two. But I sometimes write a tortured hero. Richard Mainwaring, Lord Hawkstowe, of The Herald of Day is tormented by his family curse and what it means for any children he might have. Lifting the curse seems impossible, so he resolves to have no children, to stop the curse from dooming another generation. Until a tavern maid who nurtures hope crosses his path. 

I also have a tortured hero in my Light Mage Wars paranormal romances, which I’m re-releasing this year. The ones that were traditionally published have new covers, and the entire series has new branding. I’m very excited about it. I love all the heroes (and all the heroines), but I nurture a special fondness for the the guilt-ridden hero of the second book, Renegade Mage. 

Six years ago, grief and anger over betrayal led Griffin Dare to make a fateful mistake. He was the mages’ top cop, and four of his deputies died that day. Other deputies and friends have died since, and he believes that’s his fault. Now he has the top slot of the mages’ Most Wanted Fugitives list. He expects to die an outlaw, but he’ll be satisfied if he can expose the traitor in the mages’ ranks along the way. Even though he and his friends secretly fight the deadly ghouls, the battle isn’t for him. It’s to protect mages and humans. No one, he vows, will ever risk their lives for his sake again.

When his path crosses Valeria Banning’s, she has some insights that surprise him. They’re drawn to each other, but can Griff overcome his guilt and pain to seize this chance at love? 

The other two books currently out don’t have tortured heroes, but I’ll mention them here because they’re all recent re-releases, and while I enjoy tortured heroes, I also enjoy those with a little less angst. 

The first book in the series, Mage Sentinel, is a prequel about Griff’s sister, Caroline Dare, and the man her brother’s secrets bring into her path. Rick Moore is on a quest for justice for his dead father, and exposing the help he believes the Dare family has given Griff is his only hope. Too bad he’s falling in love with Caroline. 

The third of the books currently out, number three in the series, is The Deadly Orb. It’s about wildland firefighters. A current of attraction has long run between helicopter pilot Josh Campbell and firefighter paramedic Edie Lang. But Josh has vowed never to marry a woman in a dangerous job. His mother was killed in the line of duty as a deputy sheriff, and his father disintegrated, leaving young Josh to care for his two sisters. When magic forces him and Edie into proximity, though, he finds that vow hard to sustain. 

So that’s it for me on tortured heroes and new books.  Thanks again for having me today, PJ! I’m giving away winner’s choice of either Mage Sentinel or Renegade Mage to one commenter today. (The Deadly Orb isn’t an option because it contains spoilers for Renegade Mage.) 

For a chance to win, leave a comment telling me who your favorite tortured hero is and why you love his story. Or, if tortured heroes aren’t your thing, tell me who’s your favorite hero and why. Books, TV, and movies all qualify. Giveaway ends at 11:00 PM, March 20.

Thanks for stopping by today!




Book links: 

Mage Sentinel: 


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Renegade Mage:


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The Deadly Orb


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