Sunday, December 31, 2023

Winners - - 2023 Favorites


Thanks for sharing all of your favorite books of 2023. 

I have a great list to explore in the coming year!

The three winners of

a book from my giveaway stash are:


Cherie J

Cheryl C


Please send your full name and mailing address to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

Thursday, December 28, 2023

Favorite Books of 2023 & Giveaway


As we're winding down to the final days of 2023, I thought it would be fun to look back at the books we read this year and list our favorites. I tasked Hellie and Santa with giving me the titles of their five favorite reads then tried to do it myself and - wow - not easy! There were some great books this year that touched me in a variety of ways. But that's a good thing, right? I hope you all had a similar reading experience. 

Here are the books that made us smile during 2023. If a book listed was reviewed here at The Romance Dish, the title will be highlighted. Click on it to read the full review. 


Three Holidays & a Wedding: This one and Much Ado About Nada, same author (Uzma Jalauddin), are probably my favorite-favorites of the books I read this year. The author is just perfection. Lots of laughter and all of the feels.

Much Ado About Nada by Uzma Jalauddin

Read on my own, which features a lot more mysteries than I review on site:


A Sinister Revenge: The Veronica Speedwell series (Deanna Rayborne) is my favorite find of 2022 and the newest episode delivered as much as the rest.

All the Victoria Thompson Gaslight mysteries: so once I ran out of Veronica Speedwell, I floundered in a desert of reading material until I found these—and then I read them (there are like 25+) all too fast. Very depressing reading-wise (back in the desert), but what a wonderful set of stories. LOVE! (I believe the newest one is Murder on Bedford Street, but I read them all this year so I'm counting them as one item.)

All the Victoria Thompson Counterfeit Lady mysteries: I wasn’t sure I’d like these (though I already loved the author) because the heroine is a grifter—and I don’t like my heroines to be too…flawed (if you will). Not a fan of heroes who are cat-thieves either, come to think of it. Anyway…I was wrong. This series is HILARIOUS, filled with lots of historical detail, always a compelling mystery, and possibly even better than the Gaslight mysteries. Newest one is City of Fortune, I think, but again, read all of them this year, but they're a set and you need to read them all.


Here are my favorite books of 2023, They are not in any specific order except for the first one and, surprising no one, most of them are historical!

How To Tame A Wild Rogue by Julie Anne Long. Stellar.

A Kiss In The Moonlight by Cathy Maxwell. She never misses.

Never Seduce A Duke by Viviene Lorett. Banter on point always.

A Spinster's Guide To Danger and Dukes by Manda Collins. Secret societies. Small English village. Come On.

Happy Place by Emily Henry. The woman never misses.


Okay, I tried to narrow it down to five but, I'm sorry, it was impossible. And I had to include some honorable mentions because they were just that good. This was a very good year for books! My favorite book of the year was How to Tame a Wild Rogue by Julie Anne Long. The other titles are listed in no particular order. They were all fabulous. 

How to Tame a Wild Rogue by Julie Anne Long

Julie Anne Long paints pictures with words like no other author I have ever read. Composers create stunning, immersive, soul-stirring masterpieces that send our souls into flight. Long does it with words. They challenge, entice, anger, seduce, empower, excite. They swirl her characters - they swirl me - into an emotional maelstrom then deposit all of us, still, spent, changed, in the gentle swirl of waves lapping the shore in sunset's lambent light. That is the power - and the beauty - of this book.

The Enchanted Hacienda by J.C. Cervantes

This story is, in a word, enchanting. Other words also come to mind: immersive, uplifting, magical, welcoming, all-encompassing, romantic, transformative. I lost myself completely in these characters and their story, especially Harlow. I'm firmly convinced the Hacienda Estrada is in full bloom south of the border. J.C. Cervantes brought it, and her characters, vividly to life with exquisitely detailed descriptions that encouraged layers of visceral feelings within me to the surface. This was not just a reading; it was an experience. 

Forget What You Know by Christina Dodd

An intensely compelling thriller that kept me reading into the wee hours of the night. With intriguing characters, edge-of-the-seat suspense, impeccably placed humor, emotional depth, and more twists than a two-lane mountain road, there was no way I was going to be able to put this one down until I turned the final page. If you enjoy twisty suspense, action, heart-tugging romance, quirky characters, and unexpected laughter, add this book to your reading list. 

Moorewood Family Rules by HelenKay Dimon

I gobbled up this book like a bag of Peanut M&M's after a 40-day fast. Would I want to be part of this dysfunctional (dare I say, murderous?) family of con artists in real life? Absolutely not! But, in the capable hands of HelenKay Dimon, and a fictional story I happily immersed myself in, I couldn't get enough of them. Moorewood Family Rules is quirky, twisty, cringey, laugh-out-loud fun.

Royal Caleva: Gabriel
 by Nancy Herkness

If you enjoy fast-paced books brimming with danger, emotional turmoil, mystery, heart-tugging romance, and complex characters you can't help but root for, do not miss Royal Caleva: Gabriel, book one of a new series by Nancy Herkness. I couldn't put it down and these characters - especially Gabriel - are still lingering in my mind months after I turned the final page. 

Sleep No More by Jayne Ann Krentz 
Sleep No More may be the title of this Jayne Ann Krentz novel but it was also what happened to me once I turned to the first page and began reading. Krentz plunged me straight into the heart of the pulse-pounding action of this story and had me completely hooked before I reached page ten. And then she kept me hooked, guessing how it would all turn out, through unexpected twists and turns right up until the final scene. There would be no sleep for me until all of my questions were answered!

Honorable Mention:
Because they're too good to not be mentioned and I still think about them...

Meet Me in River's Edge by Nan Reinhardt

Knockout by Sarah MacLean

Ana Maria and the Fox by Liana de La Rosa

Change of Plans by Dylan Newton

What were your favorite 2023 reads?

Three randomly chosen people who post a comment by 11:00 PM, December 30 will each receive a print book from my giveaway stash.

*U.S. only
*Must be 18

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Review - - You're the Duke That I Want

You're the Duke That I Want
by Lenora Bell
The Thunderbolt Club - Book 1
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: December 26, 2023
Reviewed by PJ

Raised by an overprotective mother, bookish romantic Sandrine Oliver craves adventure, but nothing exciting ever happens in her sleepy seaside village. Until a handsome, mysterious stranger arrives and sweeps her off her feet…only to leave suddenly with no explanation. 

Lord Dane Walker, brother to the Duke of Rydell, is infamous for racing fast carriages and breaking hearts. But when his brother is mortally injured, Dane inherits the responsibilities of the dukedom—duties that come with a dangerous secret which threatens everyone close to him. 

In London, Sandrine is astonished to learn that the charming, honorable man she met at the beach is really a disreputable rake. And the infuriating nobleman acts as though he barely knows her.

Who needs a wild rake? Certainly not Sandrine! With a little help from her friends, she transforms into a glamorous belle. She’s out to make Dane pay…but can she stop her traitorous heart from longing to surrender only to him? 

PJ's Thoughts:

I can't be the only reader who sang her way through this book. Paying homage to the musical Grease, Bell has penned a story that is lighthearted, fast paced, and just plain fun.

In many ways, this book is a historical retelling of the modern day musical, complete with Dane and Sandrine's "summer love," a pack of London rakes who delight in racing carriages, and even a group of independent society misses known as the "Pink Ladies." But Bell also puts her own spin on it, giving it emotional heft with both Sandrine's and Dane's individual circumstances. I enjoyed watching the growth of both characters. It was especially fun to see Sandrine come into her own after a lifetime under her mother's thumb with the discovery of an unknown family member being an added bonus. And to see Dane finally realize that he was worthy of love touched my heart. There's also blackmail, a mystery to be solved, and complicated family dynamics on both sides. This one is definitely a page turner!

If you're in the mood for a book that will have you grinning with delight (honestly, I don't think I stopped smiling the entire time), give You're the Duke That I Want a try. It's the first in Lenora Bell's new The Thunderbolt Club historical romance series and a treat from start to finish. 


Sunday, December 24, 2023

Merry Christmas!


Wishing you all a safe and happy Christmas holiday.

I'll be back Wednesday, December 27th 

with a review of

You're the Duke That I Want by Lenora Bell.

See you then!

Friday, December 22, 2023

Review - - The Rom Con

The Rom Con
by Devon Daniels
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: November 7, 2023
Reviewed by Hellie

After a particularly brutal breakup, Cassidy Sutton has had it with dating. So when her grandmother gives her a 1950’s dating guide entitled 125 Tips to Hook a Husband, she decides to turn the retro advice into an ironic “What not to do” article for Siren, the popular online women’s publication she writes for. And who better to secretly test the old-fashioned tips on than Jack Bradford, chauvinistic creator of rival men’s site Brawler? She’ll write an article that will entertain female readers everywhere and embarrass their sexist nemesis at the same time. Two birds, one stone. 

But her perfect plan soon proves to be anything but. Those vintage courtship tips Cassidy was so quick to poke fun at? They actually seem to work, calling her most closely-held beliefs into question. Even worse? Jack isn’t falling for any of her tricks—and it’s not long before their ‘fake’ relationship starts to feel like the realest one of her life. As her cat and mouse game starts to spiral out of control, Cassidy has to decide if she’s playing to win, or if she’s willing to lose it all for love.


Hellie’s Heeds 

If you will be convening with people this holiday season (in a variety of settings, possibly long dinners or parties) and need an emergency book in your bag to read when you take an emergency 15 minutes in the bathroom to get away from it all–this is your book. It took me less than ten seconds to be sucked into the story, the writing, the sassy sarcastic monologue of the main character, and just start laughing. A good sign for me when I’m reading a book is how soon I start laughing: which could be because of the humor but could also be because of the set up of what is going to go down…and in this book’s case, both. Once you start, you’ll soon make the connection to How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, but the story also has bits and pieces of other rom-coms you may have watched over the years. 27 Dresses. A bit of You’ve Got Mail. A few cocktails of The Devil Wears Prada. Vintage vibes of Down With Love. Basically any rom-com where the protagonists essentially hate each other at first sight, but in the end, are the very best of lovers. Why is a book about enemies-to-lovers a good pick for the holidays? Because it’s so easy to slip in and out of when you need a few minutes to escape anywhere else–and this book is a delightful escape. I could literally pick up this book and start reading and forget where I was before I even turned the page. It was amazing. 

While the hero and heroine are both very likable (which kudos to the author for pulling this off because the heroine could be construed as being a bit hostile to someone she’s technically never met and that’s a hard thin line to walk to make everyone still very sympathetic), the side characters time and again made me laugh out loud. Gran was far and away my favorite–and still is–and I loved how her story was resolved in the end of the book. Her schooling her granddaughter in the minefield of modern dating was a thing to behold. But I also enjoyed Natalie the roommate and Christina the fiercely protective sister (Cassie’s). Tom, who is Jack’s obnoxious business partner, is even eventually turned into a guy one could reasonably like, even as he fronts a company that publishes articles that serve as clickbait and capitalizes on men acting like frat brothers constantly. These characters all supported our main characters and made them better people–and showed us why the main characters were so worthy of love and support.  

Lastly, if like me, you’re a bit of a rabid feminist who wrestles with the Patriarchy just in principle, this was an interesting book in poking at the things that definitely burn my britches, so to speak, when it comes to relationships, such as how women tend to subsume themselves into their relationships while men seem to get the better end of the stick (without losing their career, et al). Or the fact that a single woman is basically a thing of pity, but a single man is just someone sowing his wild oats and has plenty of time–even now, today, when being a spinster shouldn’t even be a thing. I would turn pages and go, “Yep! Been there and done that!” or “Oh, yes, the character is wrestling with something I totally think about a lot!”--and the secondary character (or even the main character) would confront the issue and look at it from a different way, one I hadn’t really considered, and it was like, “Yes, that is true too. Huh.” You can be feminist…but also soft, and it not be in contradiction. So I always like a book that makes me challenge my assumptions in a good way and come away with a more positive mindset. (This may not be every reader’s experience–but it certainly resonated with me.) 

Basically I laughed a LOT…I would laugh and my husband would say, “What’s so funny?” and I’d tell him and he’d may or may not get it (because you sometimes had to be there, if you know what I mean) and other times he’d go, “Is this a fun book or a review book?” and I’d go, “Both. It’s definitely both.” While enemies to lovers is not my favorite trope, I feel this story hit it out of the park–and it definitely had black moments galore to make you question how this would all turn out. I would highly recommend for your lists to Santa.  

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Winner - - The Gentleman's Gambit


It's a holiday surprise!

Since posting Hellie's review, a second copy of 

The Gentleman's Gambit arrived in the mail.

So, today, we have two winners!

Congratulations to:

Annette N



Please send your full name and mailing address to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

Winner - - Game On


The randomly chosen winner of

a signed print copy of

Game On by Seressia Glass is:



Please send your full name and mailing address to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

Saturday, December 16, 2023

Winner - - Housebroke


The randomly chosen winner of

a print copy of Housebroke by Jaci Burton is:

Susanne Lercher


Please send your full name and mailing address to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

Winner - - Technically Yours


The randomly chosen winner of

a print copy of

Technically Yours is:



Please send your full name and mailing address to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

Winner - - Christmas with a Cowboy


The randomly chosen winner of

a signed print copy of

Christmas with a  Cowboy is:



Please send your full name and mailing address to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

Friday, December 15, 2023

Review & Giveaway - - The Gentleman's Gambit

The Gentleman's Gambit
by Evie Dunmore
A League of Extraordinary Women - Book 4
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: December 5, 2023
Reviewed by Hellie

Deeply introverted Catriona lives for her work at Oxford and her fight for women’s suffrage. She dreams of romance, too, but since all her attempts at love have ended badly, she now keeps her desires firmly locked inside her head—until she climbs out of a Scottish loch after a good swim and finds herself rather exposed to her new colleague. 

Elias Khoury has wheedled his way into Professor Campbell’s circle under false pretenses: he did not come to Oxford to classify ancient artifacts, he is determined to take them back to his homeland in the Middle East. Winning Catriona’s favor could be the key to his success. Unfortunately, seducing the coolly intense lady scholar quickly becomes a mission in itself and his well-laid plans are in danger of derailing... 

Forced into close proximity in Oxford’s hallowed halls, two very different people have to face the fact that they might just be a perfect match. Soon, a risky new game begins that asks Catriona one more time to put her heart and wildest dreams at stake.


Hellie’s Heeds 

The premise of this series always lured me in (I *LOVE* Suffragettes!), but occasionally some of the characters were a little hard for me to like. (Hallmark of a great writer, really, to make a reader forget these are not real people!) However, this book is, I believe, my favorite of the series. Undoubtedly it’s because I could identify so much with the character who is deeply introverted, feels things very deeply, and doesn’t trust herself when it comes to who she falls in love with. The hero himself is a delicious scholarly and sensitive sort (beta in the best way) who has come to befriend her father for rather nefarious reasons: to help steal back some artifacts to their rightful country. 

While the story spins around these two very different people with very different lived experiences who find a connection and risk everything to be together, it is also a story about the relationships of these friends (Hattie, Lucie, Annabelle, and Catriona) and being a modern woman in their time, challenging the status quo while fighting for justice for their sex. I saw plot glimmers that reminded me of Ruth Bader Ginsberg and how she framed her lawsuit to get more rights for women, the constant tug of family and career (“Am I a good mother?”) and the various ways other women have shamed women rather than supported them, and even the pernicious society shaming of “who deserves to wear white on their wedding day?”--we all do, as Bull Durham will tell you. Elias is a very deserving hero–I think my love of the alpha males has gone away and now I’m almost exclusively in love with the kind of men who definitely put consent and kindness before anything else.  

There were also other interesting layers of history for this book that I would never have learned if it wasn’t for this story: some history of the Middle East, Maronites, British colonialism, and women’s rights in the 19th century along with the process of passing laws. There was enough information to make the story feel anchored and authentic without bogging down the pace–which is extremely hard to do–so kudos to the author. I wondered many times how the author managed to come across so many history threads to pull them together into one believable story–I am in awe really. I believe she did this as well for her previous books but being the hero was from the Middle East, the history was more apparent (since I read a lot of England set novels I occasionally take the history for granted as something everyone knows) and interesting. I can only hope to find more books like this in the future.  

This is marked as book 4 of 4, and there was an epilogue that suggests this is the last, so I’m interested to see what this author will be doing next. I’m sure it will be awesome. If you’ve been looking forward to this book, this is the conclusion I believe you wished for; if you haven’t read this series, this is a good time to pick up all the books because in reading this, i wanted to go back and read the others again. Bravo to Ms. Evie Dunmore–this has been a great series!

Thanks, Hellie! You've definitely piqued my interest. 

Readers, have you discovered Evie Dunmore yet? 

Are you surprised by the factual tidbits you absorb through reading historical romance and fiction? I knew a Jeopardy answer the other night and turned to the person next to me, saying smugly, "I learned it in a romance novel." ;-)

One randomly chosen person posting a comment before 11:00 PM, December 17 will receive a print copy of The Gentleman's Gambit.

*U.S. only

*Must be 18

Thursday, December 14, 2023

Coastal Magic Featured Author & Giveaway - - Seressia Glass

Welcome back for this month's Coastal Magic Convention 2024 Featured Author Post. In the spotlight today is Featured Author Seressia Glass. Seressia is known for a variety of writing genres as shown below in her bio. I'm currently reading her new (12/12/23) romcom, GAME ON. Only 28% in and I'm already hooked. Let me tell you, straight up, you do not have to be a gamer (I am so not) to enjoy this book! Scroll below for more information about Seressia, her books, an excerpt from GAME ON, and a giveaway.

Seressia Glass is an award-winning author of more than twenty-five contemporary and paranormal romance and urban fantasy stories. Her paranormal series, (Shadowchasers, Sons of Anubis) are steeped in Egyptian mythology. Her most recent release is THE LOVE CON, a story about a plus-sized nerd in a cosplaying reality show competition. She lives south of Atlanta with her guitar-wielding husband, gamer son, and two attack poodles. When not writing, she’s at her day job as an instructional designer or watching K-dramas.

Seressia has always been a voracious reader and turned to writing at an early age, using her fantastical tales for extra credit in school. Her proudest writing moment remains winning the first Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday “Living the Dream” essay contest as a high school senior and getting to meet Coretta Scott King and read her essay to the King family. Since then, she’s gone on to write a motley crew of characters and creatures including witches, werewolves, djinn, demons, Egyptian deities and jackal shapeshifters with a few humans thrown into the mix. No matter who or what she’s writing about, Seressia weaves in the universal themes of acceptance and being comfortable in one’s own skin. 

by Seressia Glass
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: December 12, 2023

Samara Reynolds has built a large following as a gamer under an anonymous screen name, and uses her skills as a DEIA consultant to advocate for equal representation in video games. When she posted a video critiquing the popular game Legendsfall, she knew she’d get a reaction from her fans, but the video leads to hundreds of female gamers critiquing the game and its company, Artemis Games. The only thing more unexpected than starting an online movement is getting a job offer from the handsome CEO of Artemis.

Aron Galanis has been on a mission to get his company certified to create gaming content for people with disabilities. When he sees Artemis trending online for all the wrong reasons, he’s determined to right his wrongs and offers the originator a mea culpa, as well as a job offer to overhaul the character options in Legendsfall.

Working together turns Aron and Samara from adversaries into allies, allies into friends, and after that—something more. But once their relationship goes public, will Aron and Samara be able to weather the storm and fight for their happy ending, or is it game over?


“Hey, Aron.”

He looked up from the documents he’d spread across the coffee table. “Yes?

Samara grabbed a file folder, then rose. She opened it to read as she walked toward him. “Did you see this report on five-year pro—ah!”

Time slowed. He watched in horror as Samara tripped, then pitched forward, her head on a crash course with the table. Fear rose like bile in his throat as he sprang to his feet to break her fall. He managed to grab her, but her forward momentum sent him falling back. They landed on the couch, bumped foreheads, then lips.

Just a couple of seconds of their lips touching, but it seemed like more as she stared at him in undeniable shock. Then she scrambled backward and shot to her feet, rubbing at her forehead.

He stood too. “Are you okay?”

She put her left hand on her hip while still massaging her forehead with her right. “Other than falling into a rom-com situation, I’m fine.”

What? He scrunched his eyebrows in bewilderment. “A rom-com situation? Is this something that happens often?”

“In a romantic comedy, yes. In real life, no.”

His bewilderment deepened. “So that was supposed to be romantic?”

She dropped her hand. “No . . . well, I did discover that your eyes are even more gorgeous nose to nose, and your lips are damnably soft and kissable.”

“Kissable?” He touched a finger to his mouth, still feeling Samara’s lips against his. Her body against his. “Do you consider that a kiss?”

“Yes, albeit an accidental one, not a good one.”

“I think I’ve just been insulted.” He took a step closer to her with a smile. “I think I need to correct that.”

She sucked in a breath, then spoke, her voice as soft as night. “Correct what?”

“That bad kiss. I can’t leave you with that memory. I need to give you a better one. Is that reckless of me?”

She gazed at him, silently considering. He stared back just as long, longer, an eternity of waiting. Finally, she spoke. “Can it really be called reckless if it’s something we’ve both wanted to do since that night with the dinosaurs?”

She—did she—did he hear her right? He had to make sure. “Can I kiss you right now?”

Her eyes softened. “How about we kiss each other?”

Somehow, he managed to answer her. “I would like that very much.”

Instead of moving forward, she drew her hands up to frame his face. Her thumb brushed beneath his eye, a soft caress that burned him to his core. “I can finally touch you like this.”

“Touch me all you want.” Okay, maybe not all she wanted. He didn’t need to pop off like a firecracker with a short fuse. “Just remember to kiss me.”

“Oh, trust and believe, I won’t forget that.”

The low, husky laugh made his body tighten in ways that had to be obvious to her. Yet she continued to stroke his cheeks as if oblivious as she held his gaze. “I’m sure you’ve had lots of ladies tell you how beautiful your eyes are.”

Maybe, but in that moment he couldn’t recall a single one. “I don’t remember,” he confessed, bringing his hands up to mirror her gesture. “But you can bet that I’ll definitely remember this.”

He stared at her for a long moment, just drinking in the reality of having her with him like this. She’d talked about his eyes, but hers were deep pools of onyx with sparks of amber shooting through. He wanted to dive in headfirst and knew if he did, he’d never want to come back out.

“So much hidden here,” he whispered, grazing his thumbs beneath her eyes. He raised his head, closing the distance between them until their mouths met, meshed. She hadn’t reapplied her lipstick after dinner, and her lips were soft and full and wonderful against his. It was a sweet, exploring kiss that made his muscles tremble with the need to clutch her closer.

She drew back, dark eyes hazy. “Mm-hmm, pizza and cider and kisses. I need more of alla that.”

They came together again, and this time, oh, this time it was game on. He turned, putting her beneath him, so that he could kiss her with all the bottled-up need he possessed. Her hands slid up his shoulders to clasp together around his neck, her mouth hungry against his.

It took a superhuman effort to pull away from her, but he managed. Barely. “I should . . . probably go home now.”

She pushed her hair back, blowing out a breath. “You are home.”

“Oh yeah.” He looked around. “I forgot.”

“So did I.” She touched a fingertip to her lips with a soft smile that produced a shadow of her dimple. “But I do need to go. It’s way later than I thought, and we both have work to do in the morning.”

“I want to date you.”


Readers, have you read any of Seressia's books yet?

Do you enjoy video games? How about cosplay?

One randomly chosen person who posts a comment before 11:00 PM, December 16 will receive a signed copy of GAME ON.

*U.S. only
*Must be 18