Monday, August 31, 2009

Blythe Gifford GuestBlog: When Harlots Have Relations

CONTEST TODAY!!! 1 rndmly chsn cmmntr wins choice of Blythe's "Harlot's Daughter" or "In the Master's Bed!" Email mst be in cmmnt or blggr profile to enter.

From Blythe: Ciao Bellas! I’m thrilled to be visiting with you today. I’m a virgin FOB (friend of the Bellas!) so be kind. And thanks to Michelle for inviting me to play and for the lovely shout out at BN.com's Unabashedly Bookish.

I consider myself another kind of virgin as well. No, not that kind! With my September medieval romance from Harlequin Historical, "In the Master's Bed," I’ve written my first “series.” The heroine of this book is the sister of "The Harlot's Daughter." The harlot’s other daughter, so to speak. (And yes, you can enjoy it even if you haven’t read the first one).

I’ve always resisted the idea of writing books with connected characters. It seemed like such a commitment somehow. The next bright and shiny book idea looks really appealing after months of drafts, rewrites, revisions, and copy edits. I love my characters, but by the end, I’m ready to move on.

A related book was not part of the original plan, but when Jane popped up, I was intrigued. She was the family misfit, the tomboy who helped her brother-in-law sort his Latin documents and climbed trees dressed like a boy. Her family, knowing she was different, protected and spoiled her. How was she going to grow up and find a happy ending?

Well, she began her story by running away from home, disguised as a lad! Heading for Cambridge University, she met a man on the road. Now Duncan did not have an easy life and he had very little sympathy for “John,” yet something about the boy touched him and so, he decided to help…

Well, it IS a romance!

Funny thing, though. After I finished the book, I realized that this is not my first connected story, but only my latest. You see, my three books to date, and the one coming up next year, all feature fourteenth century royal bastards. That means all my characters are connected to King Edward III, one of the most admired monarchs in English history. He is the father of both the harlot’s daughters, who were inspired by real people, the illegitimate daughters of Edward and his notorious mistress, Alice Perrers.

Edward reigned a good long time, fifty years, and he had uncles, aunts, siblings, and children. This has allowed me lots of leeway to invent royal bastards spanning the entire 14th century. Renard, the hero of "Innocence Unveiled" was Edward’s cousin, and the hero of next year’s book, is Edward’s nephew.

So it seems that despite my resistance, I’ve been writing related books all along!

How about you, Bellas? How do you feel about related books? Love ‘em? Loath ‘em? Do you keep early volumes and reread to catch up? Or do you find you forget the story between releases? And what are your favorites?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Tessa Dare's Regency Dating Game PLUS Exclusive SIREN Excerpt!

CONTEST TODAY!!! One RCC wins a copy of "Surrender of a Siren"courtesy of Tessa! Have email addy avlb in comment or blggr profile to enter, pls.

Buongiorno, Michelle and Bellas! Last month, you were good enough to invite me over to talk about Jeremy, the hero of "Goddess of the Hunt." Today, I’m here to dish about the hero of book two in the trilogy, Regency Bachelor #2, the deliciously devilish Gray from "Surrender of a Siren." And of course, share an exclusive excerpt!

Name: Benedict “Gray” Grayson
Age:
32

Appearance:
A study in contradictions. He’s described as having “a laborer’s body, the
clothes of a gentleman, and the wide, sensuous mouth of a scoundrel.” He has auburn hair—dark brown, with reddish undertones—and eyes that vary from green to blue to gray, depending. A thin scar slants from his chin to his mouth, and its origin is the subject of much speculation on the part of Sophia, the heroine. For most of the book, he’s scruffy and unshaven, which adds to his rugged, roguish appeal.
Occupation: Former privateer, now shipping financier. And he’s the head of a patched-together family that includes one half-brother, one half-sister, and a young nephew.
Personality:
Good-humored, charismatic, cocky, sexy, and fiercely loyal when it counts. He dislikes violence, but isn’t above it. A lifelong libertine and a natural leader, he’s more than a bit dangerous—to his enemies, as well as to the ladies.
In short, he’s a bad boy with good intentions, sharing close quarters with temptation personified. And this makes for one very frustrated man.

Here’s part of a conversation Gray has with his brother Joss, who is the captain of the Aphrodite. You see, Gray has impulsively allowed a winsome little governess (Sophia, in disguise) to set sail with them on their voyage to the West Indies. And despite his best intentions to leave debauchery behind and turn over a new leaf as a respectable businessman, Gray’s having trouble keeping his hands off the goods…and for surprisingly sentimental reasons. Joss is not amused.


Exclusive Excerpt: “Stay away from the girl, Gray.”

Gray sighed. “We’re on the same ship. I can’t help but be near her. I’ll not promise to refrain from touching her either, because the girl seems to lose her footing whenever I’m around. But I give you my word I’ll not kiss her again. Satisfied?”


Joss shook his head. “Give me your word you won’t bed her.”


“What a legend you’re making me! Insinuating I could bed her without even kissing her first.” Gray worried the edge of his thumbnail as he considered. “That might prove an amusing challenge, now that you suggest it.”

Joss shot him an incredulous look. “With some other lady, on some other ship.”

Gray raised his hands in a defensive gesture. “I’ll not bed her. You have my word. And don’t think that’s not a great sacrifice, because it is. I’d have her in two, three days at the most, I tell you.”


“Once again—not amusing.”


“For God’s sake, Joss, it’s a joke. What do you want, an apology? I’m sorry for kissing Miss Turner’s hand, all right?”


Joss shook his head and flipped open the logbook. “No, you’re not.”

“Yes, I am.” The odd thing of it was, Gray was telling the truth. He knew he was being an ass, but the joking was easier than honesty. For all his teasing, he hadn’t kissed her hand with the intent to seduce, or to judge if she tasted as sweet as he’d dreamed. He’d kissed her fingers for one reason only. Because they were trembling, and he’d wanted them to stop. It was wholly unlike him, that kiss. It was not a gesture he thought it wise to repeat. The girl did something strange to him.

Bellas, who are your favorite “bad boy” or scoundrel heroes? Two that always come immediately to mind for me are Dain from Loretta Chase's "Lord of Scoundrels" and Derek Craven from Lisa Kleypas' "Dreaming of You."
***
Oct 2nd: Meet Regency Bachelor #3 w/Tessa + Exclsve Excerpt + Contest!
***
NEXT WEEK: Monday: Blythe Gifford; Wed: Heidi Betts AuthorView; Thrs: Heidi Betts Feature Review.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Feature Review: "Servant: The Kindred," By LL Foster

By Amy Kennedy, RBTB Contributing Editor

Sometimes comparisons bother me. Like movie pitches: It’s Rocky meets Buffy, only set in the Renaissance!

Why can’t it be something completely different?


Yet sometimes comparisons are comforting: Try it, it tastes like chicken. And sometimes we're not talking so much a comparison as recognition – a hint or suggestion of something else.

When I first started reading L.L. Foster’s Servant series, I kept trying to think of whom I was reminded of by the heroine, Gabrielle Cody. Finally, with the third book in the series, I’ve had my revelation…

Like a punk-rock Joan of Arc, Gabrielle Cody, from L.L. Foster’s urban-edged, passionate romance, “Servant: The Kindred,” follows her calling – a wicked calling – to do battle against evil. If she doesn’t heed it, it hurts like hell, literally. And the pain lasts until she finds either victim or victimizer.

Gaby is reminiscent of Joan of Arc, maybe not in reality, for one thing, Gaby doesn’t plan on remaining a virgin, but absolutely in the idea of Joan – warrior maidens, both acting as God’s Paladins. Of course, Joan had an army at her back – Gaby, only a knife.

But lately Gaby’s had Detective Luther Cross at her back (and her front), an alpha protector whose faith is in the system, and, in Gaby. He doesn’t understand her “gift,” but he understands she has one, and doesn’t question how she gets her knowledge.

Now, Gaby and Luther are after someone who’s got a taste for blood. So far they’ve been too late to save any of the victims. The bad guy, Fabian, and his followers are pseudo vampires who drink their victims’ blood, thinking it makes them powerful.

Gaby senses who Fabian is, but with Luther at her side, she needs actual proof. What’s confounding her is this weird sense of recognition, she somehow knows Fabian, and it scares her.

As the chase heats-up so, too, does Gaby’s and Luther’s relationship. And when she and Luther finally do hook-up, (thank you) it’s just like you’d expect: hard, fast and up against a wall. But because Gaby sees herself as one of the monsters she hunts, she wonders when Luther will recognize this, and, inevitably, hate her for it. How can she drag the people she cares about – especially Luther – into this nightmare world of visions, pain, and callings? Luther is determined to convince her he not only wants her, but needs her too.

L.L. Foster has created a couple you can’t help but want to read more about, just to see what they’ll do next; a heroine made up of opposites: harsh and innocent, naïve and sensual; and a hero who might give-up his gun, but never his top-dog manliness. They are a reader’s dream couple. So, be like Gaby: Heed the calling, and --

Buy the book.

What are your feelings on long relationship arcs – having to wait a few books for the couple’s HEA, so to speak? And who’s your favorite fictional couple in books, tv, or movies?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Jenny Gardiner GuestBlog: Parrots, Kids And Other Albatrosses

CONTEST TODAY: One randomly chsn commenter wins a copy of "Sleeping w/Ward Cleaver" courtesy of Jenny!

From Michelle:
Whether or not you have kids, today Jenny Gardiner reminds us why the end of summer always brings mixed emotions -- and memories of that back-to-school daze we all go/went through. Jenny's a funny lady w/ a cheeky writing style, and her first rom com, "Sleeping w/Ward Cleaver" won rave reviews. Please welcome her w/your warmest "I've brought you an apple, Teech!" Bella buongiorno...

From Jenny: Ciao, Bellas--sending you Italian cheek-kisses from hazy, hot and humid Virginia! Grazie mille for letting me join you today. I think I'll have another cappuccino while I write this, in your honor!

Just as my languid, sleep-in-and-worry-about-responsibilities-later summer kicked into full-on school-year frenzy, my lovely editor sent me my edits for my upcoming memoir, “Winging It: A Memoir of Caring for a Vengeful Parrot Who’s Determined to Kill Me” (think Jen Lancaster meets “Marley and Me” with a deadly beak), with precisely one week in which to turn them in.

And so the week during which I should be focusing exclusively on my revisions, I have instead dealt with the following "It's School Again!" schedule (including a few additional challenges): help to pack/drive son back to college (a full day+); drive 15-y/o daughter to haircut, doctor, dentist & physical therapy (soccer injury) appointments, two soccer practices and a scrimmage; attend senior picture shoot for 17-y/o daughter (at her behest); devote much time to soothing same teary-eyed child whose boyfriend departed for college, far, far away; wrangle major last-minute overhaul of her school schedule (over which I am still being machine-gunned with complaining text messages from her as I write this); host empty-nester dinner party for all teary friends whose kids also left for college; drive to Pittsburgh and back in one day for funeral (13 hours in car); oh, and help my husband prepare to open a retail store next week, which I will be running, and still haven't staffed.

This schedule, besides nearly paralyzing me with things-to-do anxiety, has reminded me that I like summer. Wait, make that love summer. And I really enjoy having my kids home, without the pressing demands of the school year, though sometimes I welcome summer vacation with a little too much amnesiac-like zeal, only to wonder "What the hell was I thinking?!" Because come late July, when the kids are bored, the bickering ratchets up, the dirty dishes are piled eye-high on the counter, and the mere presence of the kids underfoot can become overbearing.

And then, well then, sure, I fantasize a bit about their return to school, knowing as I do that school was invented for a very good reason. But as I wish summer away, I’m dope-slapped into the truth: Fall brings with it managerial stresses that might not be quite worth the hassles. Give me a leisurely pool day with the kids any time over a crazy schedule that has me racing from 5:30 a.m. till 8:30 p.m. While there’s an element of needed regimentation and conversely some freedom that comes with kids returning to school, there is also an element of, um, the doo-doo hitting the fan.

So instead of actually cheering the kids' return to school, I will wave a fond farewell to carefree summertime, and look back wistfully on our days at the beach playing in the waves, or sprawled on the couch, reading books, or plugged into “Chopped” or “Ace of Cakes” on the Food Network.

Now, back to my edits.

So, how about you? How will you celebrate—our mourn—the start of school/end of summer?
***
DARE to play the Regency Dating Game Friday at RBTB!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Susan Holloway Scott GuestBlog: History, Romance & The Books In Between

CONTEST TODAY!!! One randomly chosen commenter scores choice of Susan's new "The French Mistress" hisorical novel or one of her Miranda Jarrett historical romances!

From Susan: First I must offer the warmest of Monday morning buongiornos to the Bellas! It’s a rare honor to share your divine company again so soon. Many thanks, too, for helping Loretta Chase and me launch our new blog last week, and if any of you missed the festivities, then I hope you’ll visit us now at TwoNerdyHistoryGirls.com.

Bellissima Michelle has asked me to talk a bit about what makes one book a historical romance, and the next a historical novel. Since I’ve written both (historical romances as Miranda Jarrett, and historical novels as Susan Holloway Scott), this should be easy, but it’s not. There are a few obvious things: historical novels tend to be much longer, with no clinches or naked guys on the covers. But the Bellas are Very Clever, and surely have observed this for themselves.

It’s what’s inside those covers that makes this even more confusing. A historical novel can have a hero and heroine who fall in love, marry, and remain happily together. A historical romance can have a heroine who’s a courtesan and a hero who’s less than heroic, and they don’t even have to end the book married. Both can have characters who are based on real people, or characters entirely invented. Both can include excruciating details about the past, or gloss over anything with an ick-factor.

So what’s the real difference? IMHO, it’s how the history’s used. If the historical facts take a back seat to the characters, then it’s probably a historical romance. If the history dictates the plot and how the characters behave, then it’s probably historical fiction. In my book “The French Mistress,” my heroine Louise de Keroualle is a beautiful French virgin in love with a handsome, charming, older hero who loves her above all others: true romantic elements. But that hero is the English king, Charles II, married to his queen, which isn’t romance territory at all, and the complicated political intrigues that keep Louise in danger until the non-traditional HEA are pure historical fiction. Read an excerpt here.

But perhaps the well-read Bellas can answer this question better than I. What book would you recommend as the ultimate historical romance? And which would you name as a perfect example of a historical novel?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Feature Review: "Again," By Sharon Cullars

By Tracy Montoya, RBTB Contributing Editor

I don’t keep many books anymore. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve become an increasingly jaded reader as I’ve gotten older, or because I have a serious book-buying addiction and am genuinely afraid that one day, my TBR pile will pseudopod around my entire house and my family and I will never be seen again. But once I’ve read something, I generally donate it, resell it, or give it away to make room for the next bag o’ books I’ll lug home from a store or conference.

Back in the ’90s, news broke that Demi Moore bought an entire house just to store her doll collection! If I had scads of money, that would be me, but with books. Unfortunately, since I don’t have scads of money, I’m just approaching a potential guest spot on HGTV’s Clean Sweep.

Last year, Sharon Cullars foiled my (feeble) instinct for order, and I have all three of her books to date in my permanent collection. Since this is my first column as RBTB’s contributing editor in multicultural romance, I thought I’d start out by sharing one of my favorite romance novels, Cullars’ “Again.”

In all her books, Cullars focuses on what I call “realistic paranormal.” In lieu of vampires, shapeshifters, and dragons, she uses paranormal elements that plenty of people claim to have experienced for real -- ghosts, past-life memories, psychic phenomena and so on. “Again” is reincarnation romance at its best and most poignant.

In 1879, Caucasian aristocrat Joseph Luce and widowed African-American schoolteacher Rachel Chase began a doomed love affair. It wasn’t a time when interracial relationships were remotely tolerated, and Luce and Chase know that public discovery would ruin them. As Rachel is keenly aware, she’s the one with the most to lose from their liaison: her reputation, her livelihood, and even her family. But when she tries to end it, Joseph -- young, deeply in love, and all too used to getting his way -- refuses to let her go.

Fast-forward to 2006: While architect David Carvelli sleeps, erotic visions of a woman he doesn’t know play out in his mind. When he meets journalist Tyne Jensen at a friend’s wedding, he knows that she’s the woman of his dreams—perhaps literally.

Tyne has also been having supercharged dreams about a stranger (with really great hands)—though hers are often marred by a nightmarish undercurrent of violence. When she meets David, she feels the same inevitable attraction that he’s experiencing, but her subconscious is screaming that he’s trouble.

David’s mother, a gifted psychic, is the only one who truly understands that David and Tyne have met before. As their modern-day relationship plays out, Carmen Carvelli starts to realize that Rachel and Joseph’s affair ended tragically, possibly at the hand of Joseph himself. And she knows she has to figure out what exactly happened to the couple, before the tragic events of the past play out in David’s and Tyne’s present—Again.

Cullars blends gorgeous prose with edge-of-your-seat plotting and heart-wrenching emotion. Oh, and the love scenes aren’t too shabby, either; this is a Brava, after all.

The past and present politics of interracial relationships make “Again” a unique, emotionally gripping powerhouse of a read, with the added bonus of having plenty of steam heat. If you belong to a book club that can handle some spice, there’s enough in here to keep the conversation going for hours.

Buy the book.

Hypothetically speaking, if you had had a past life, what would it have been? What times periods and places seem to have an almost supernatural draw for you? And do any of you have suggestions on how to cope with my book-hoarding disease, so my friends don't write to Oprah asking her to help me clear the book clutter?
***
Next week at RBTB: Mon. Susan Holloway Scott Historical Romance v Historical Fiction SmackDown; Wed. Jenny Gardiner TGTB2S (Thank God They're Back 2 School); Fri. Tessa Dare's Regency Dating Game Pt II.
***
Winners Round-up: TNHG -- Well, you who guessed Michelle's fave TwoNerdyHistoryGirls.com post to date was the one about the tight breeches were spot on! The randomly chosen commenter who'll rec've Loretta Chase's and Susan Holloway Scott's newest titles is: PrincessBumblebee. Anna DeStefano GuestBlog -- winner of "Dark Legacy," Lisa F.; XoXo wallet, Patricia. Winners, please write Michelle at mbuonfiglio@rbthebook.com w/your snail mail! Congrats!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Scoop! Tracy Montoya Joins RBTB Team!

Over the coming months, you'll be seeing some bright, cheery new faces 'round here as you meet RBTB's new contributing editorial and associate staff -- and get ready for the next cool phase of RBTB, now in the works. Today's cheery face is a published author joining us not to critique her fellow scribes, but to strengthen RBTB's ties and comittment to multicultural romance and authors. And, no, I can't promise she'll write daily instead of me, even though she's very funny. :) You'll definitely want to check out her remarkable in-depth report, "Romance in Color: Is It Time to Move Away from 'Multicultural' Book Marketing?" from Romance Writers Report. In the meantime, won't you please give a warm Bella buongiorno to...

Tracy Montoya, RBTB Contributing Editor, Multicultural Romance

Tracy Montoya used to crack herself up by referring to herself as an “award-losing Harlequin Intrigue author,” but then she had to go and win a few, including the Daphne du Maurier award for category romantic suspense. She’s a nonprofit magazine editor for her day job, although she frequently has to forcibly keep herself from chucking it all to switch over to whatever career she’s currently researching for her Intrigue manuscript du jour. It was a dark day in her household when she turned 37 and could no longer apply for the CIA unless she suddenly acquired the ability to speak in flawlessly accented Farsi or Northern Mesopotamian Spoken Arabic.

Honduran on her mother’s side, Tracy writes a lot of Latinas into her books. She’s passionate about bringing more visibility to the great books available written by romance writers of color—and she’s not above pelting people with copies until they agree to read them.

Visit Tracy online at TracyMontoya.com, or under the name TracyMontoya on Twitter, MySpace, and Facebook.

Please join us for Tracy's inaugural post tomorrow, as she shares w/us a twist on the RBTB Feature Review...

What multicultural titles and authors would you like Tracy to know about? What issues concerning multicultural romance would you like her to explore and tell us more about?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Exclusive: Bright 'N Nerdy -- Chase/Holloway Scott Launch Funky Blog

Best pals and bestsellers Loretta Chase and Susan Holloway Scott invite you to join them TODAY at the launch of their fresh n’ funky new blog, TwoNerdyHistoryGirls.com (TNHG)!

CONTEST TODAY!!! Head over to check out TNHG, then pop back to tell me which post you think is my fave so far…a copy of Loretta’s “Don’t Tempt Me,” and Susan’s “The French Mistress” go to one randomly chosen commenter!

TwoNerdyHistoryGirls.com is a lot about history, sure, but it’s more about cool facts and the foolishness that happens when we hook up w/our best girlfriends. Yes, according to Lorretta and Susan, talk about shoes will ensue.

But more than that, TNHG’s cool. Because especially in the historical romance and hist fict communities, it’s hip to be square. Says Scott, “Is it cool? We're so nerdy we don't really know if it's cool or not.”

Well, ch’ya! Have you been to a romance- or historical- writers conference? Those chicks love clothes and shoes and great bags, as well as being in the know about pop culture. They just want the “know” to be “in” the vicinity of at least 100 years ago, give/take.

Says Chase, “While we research our books, we always find lots of cool history stuff that we can't find places for in our stories. Not everything gets used, but we can't bear to part with it, so we made a blog. Consider the TNHG as the illustrated, annotated version of our books.”

Yeah, but what’s so different about TNHG from other history blogs? “Well, it's Susan and Loretta,” they say, “and we're different enough.” But more than that, says Chase, “We just like finding out interesting stuff and wondering about it (and making fun of it) and we think there are at least three readers out there who’ll think it’s fun to talk about how much those tight stockinette breeches actually stretched, and how you keep a smooth line in tight pants when your shirt comes down to your knees.”

Count me in, nerdy girls! But the question I most want answered is, Are you chicks the new History Police? ‘Cause readin’ and/or writin’ nerdy history girls can be really tough on one another ‘bout that pesky “accuracy” thang.

Chase and Holloway say you can think of TNHG as “a gossip column about history.” “We want to be informative and entertaining,” Scott states. “We might shatter some cherished myths along the way, but we’re not trying to teach history or police it. For one thing, we’re too shallow. For another, that’s no fun.”

“I like historical accuracy,” says Chase. “I make myself insane trying to get details right, but I’m writing romance, not history, and romance is a fantasy. Isn’t the sex usually better or easier than in real life? Aren’t the guys more . . . um . . . romantic? More articulate and understanding? Well, some of them. So why can’t I let them have great teeth? And no venereal disease?”

And Scott, who writes historical fiction and has published 30+ historical romances as Miranda Jarrett, says that points out the one of the biggest differences between her current novels and historical romance. “Because my historical novels are based on the lives of real people, I have to be accurate. I believe it's part of my obligation to those long-dead folk,” she says. “As much as I might long to play God and change history -- and sometimes I really, really want to -- I just can't justify giving Charles II a legitimate male heir to inherit his crown, or making the Earl of Rochester trot off to anachronistic rehab so he survives to see his thirty-fifth birthday.

”This is also what's making the TNHG blog so...alluring to me. NO ONE will die badly from the pox in any of our blogs, and a good thing it will be, too.”

Holloway and Chase say they’re procrastinators under deadline who aim to have fresh posts up several times a week about “whatever captures our shallow and easily distracted yet historically accurate little minds.”

And they want you to know one more thing. “The picture in this post, the one Michelle demanded? we took it in Colonial Williamsburg, shortly before the colonial gaoler told us to move along.

See, now, that’s one of the things you’ll giggle over at TNHG if you’re a NHG, too; why not just jailer? Because for NHGs like Susan and Loretta and you and me, the gaol house – and a hot new way old school girlfriends blog -- just, well, rocks.
***
Susan Holloway Scott visits RBTB Monday to talk why historical fiction for chicks is a whole lot like romance, and then some.
***
Check out this take on history:
Mozart, pretty derrieres in footmen's pants and Highlanders here!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Hey, Figaro! Nice Pants.

What's this got to do with romance? Watch it, nay savor it, then click here to find out! And remember,

Tomorrow, LORETTA CHASE and pal, SUSAN HOLLOWAY SCOTT
visit with big, fat dish!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Anna DeStefano GuestBlog: Thrill Me, Bellas, One More Time

CONTEST TODAY!!! One randomly chosen commenter wins a copy of "Dark Legacy," and another Anna's 'signature' XOXO butterfly wallet that matches the purse she's giving away this month at her site. Anna does love her purses... Have your email avail. 4 chnc 2 win.

From Michelle: Bella fave Anna DeStefano
returns! And not only to kick off her newest blog tour, but also to start the cybergig for her first foray into a bright n shiny part of her career. Please welcome her back w/your warmest "Ooo, dreammmmy" Bella buongiorno...
From Anna: Chow, Bellas!!! It's always fun to hang with you fab ladies. And what a treat—coming back from RWA Nationals in DC and Michelle's cozy breakfast for the group, knowing I'd get to hang on the blog for a bit once things settled down. Well, at least as settled as my world gets at the moment, with my paranormal romantic suspense debut DUE ON THE SHELVES ANY MINUTE NOW!!!

Eh-hem. Did someone hear shrieking? I could have sworn I heard shrieking... Then again, my "Dark Legacy" (Aug 25) is about a woman who hears things other people don't. Day dreams. Nightmares actually. Except the hallucinations have moved on from torturing Dr. Maddie Temple while she sleeps, to messing with her mind during the day. And it's not so much that no one else can hear the scary voices or see Maddie's terrifying visions/premonitions, as Maddie's starting to think someone's sending the dark dreams to her. A very specific someone—her psychic twin, who's been in a coma for the last ten years.

So maybe the uncalled-for, incomprehensible shrieking I heard just now was merely an echo of whatever drives a person to write a dark, angsty love story like "Dark Legacy." Bwahahahaha! But, seriously, I’m fine. Really. Feeling much better now. Except, I've started working the sequel, and, well, the voices don't seem to want to leave me alone... ;o)
Aren't psychological thrillers fun? I mean romantic suspense. I mean paranormal romance. I mean urban fantasy. I mean, well, turns out Dark Legacy is different things to different readers. EXACTLY what I'd hoped for.

I've never been more thrilled to see a book come to print! Those of you who've heard me talk about my Harlequin releases know I love all my books—it's a blast to take real-world conflicts and realistic characters, throw in a little creativity and imagination, shake liberally, and stand back to watch the adventure and emotional roller coaster come to life. And once I
brought paranormal world building to the party (in this case, a contemporary world where dreams can be projected and mapped by psychics and manipulated for nefarious purposes), THAT was when the suspenseful type of story that I like to tell, about family drama and heart-tugging romance and redemption, leapt to an even more exciting place.

Watching the next few weeks unfold and talking with fun folks like you Bellas feels like Christmas morning every day. Thanks so much to Michelle, for inviting me back to your fabulous word. And to say thank you, I've sent a tension-filled excerpt along to share. Click here to read it! I can't wait to hear what you think. Here's a little set up for the scene:

Maddie Temple and her sexy psychiatrist hero, Jarred, are fighting to save her sanity. Meanwhile bad guys are tracking the Temple twins and messing with their minds, determined to create an untraceable psychic weapon. And, well, things aren't going so great—except that Maddie and Jarred are growing closer by the second. You know, the kind of "closer" you'd hope to feel if you found a hunky man willing to put his life, and sanity, on the line for you over and over again. Except, wait a minute! Is Jarred starting to be able to read Maddie's mind, too??? Surely not...

An active dream world is said to be healthy. It's said to feed your creativity and satisfaction in your waking life. Dreams are our mind's way of storing and retrieving our most important memories. Maddie Temple's experience aside, our dreams are almost never literal reflections of our lives. Or dangerous, no matter how threatening they can sometimes feel. And the more we understand our dream patterns, the more our sleeping minds can actually help us.

Tell us what you think—do you dream and remember your dreams, or does your dream work slip away as soon as you wake? Can you feel the power of your dreams touch your conscious world sometimes? I've been able to since I was a child. No wonder I'm exploring dreams in my first foray into paranormal romance...
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NEWS!!!: If you love historical romance, don't miss LORETTA CHASE and SUSAN HOLLOWAY SCOTT this Wednesday's extra-special GuestBlog and their RBTB-Exclusive announcement!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Boy Got Issues



They call it repurposing when you plagiarize yourself, right?

Cool. Cause it's always nice when somebody does your work for you w/out your asking 'em. Like when Melanie Murray...


READ ON, BELLAS

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

P.T.S.D.(esire)




Romance novels about heroes returning from war damaged and in need of soul repair are a dime a dozen. And


READ MORE...

Monday, August 10, 2009

A.C. Arthur GuestBlog: Make-A-Point, Take-A-Stand Men We Can’t Forget

From Michelle: A.C. Arthur’s Donovan family series is the one everybody’s talking about – and “Full House Seduction” is the hawt-n’-steamy-off-the-press installment readers have been clamoring for. If you can’t find it in your local bookstore, do yourself a fave and grab it online or at eharlequin.com. And please welcome A.C. today w/ your warmest “Oh! I loved him, too!” Bella buongiorno…
From A.C.: First, I’d like to give a sincere thanks to Michelle for inviting me to Romance Buy The Book and the Bellas for having me!

Like every young girl I contrived an idea of a hero very early in life, but as time went on that ideal changed. From Todd Wilkins in Sweet Valley High’s “Double Love” to LL Cool J who just had something special going on with his lips (and this was before I knew what exactly). :) It was like a world in my own head where I had all these choices of the mate that was just right for me.

Through countless books and more movies than was probably healthy for a business education student I began to take traits from all the heroes I’d ever fallen in love with to build the one that would be perfect for me—well, for my first story.

It wasn’t hard to find the best traits: he had to be ultra cool like John Travolta’s portrayal of Danny Zuko in the renowned hit “Grease”; super sexy and charismatic like Billy Dee Williams as Louis McKay in “Lady Sings The Blues”; and loyal and just a tad arrogant like Josh Templeton in Nora Roberts’ “Daring To Dream.”

Of course, later on down the road, I began to lean more towards the boyishly, handsome charm of Tom Hanks in Splash and “Sleepless In Seattle.” I adored the rugged, borderline bad guys like Harrison Ford in “Star Wars” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and Michael Fury in Nora Roberts’ “Finding The Dream” (okay, so you probably guessed by now that my favorite author and trilogy is The Dream series by Nora Roberts, lol).

Anyway, all of these men, these movies, these books set the stage for my very first hero: Jordan Blake in “Object of His Desire,” my first published romance novel in 2003. They also spawned the idea for my alluring hero-based Donovans series, with a great new guy, Brock Remington making his debut in “Full House Seduction” from Kimani Press which releases this month. I’m still on a mission to create wonderfully romantic and sinfully sexy heroes because I believe they truly make the book.

Sure, I love a strong, sassy heroine with a great emotional issue that must be resolved before her life can go on. But at the end of the day it’s gotta be the man. The heroine may not actually need him to save the day, but he’s there and he’s determined to make a point, to take a stand in her life.

So for you, Bellas, what’s your hero criteria, what are their traits (and who did you first see them in—movie star, book character, etc.) that just make your knees melt?

Friday, August 07, 2009

How To Win New BFFs


If I wrote romance books, it might be extra fun to have the ear of Tommy Dreiling, Barnes & Noble's romance buyer. Since I don't write 'em, it was just wicked cool to hook up with this most excellent guy a couple days ago in NYC at the corporate digs and talk trends and... Read On, Bellas
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Winnners Round Up! Secrets "Untamed Pleasures": LisaK; Amanda Grange "Mr. Darcy, Vampyre": Shawna, Susan, Lois. Please shoot me an email w/ your snail mail addy @ mbuonfiglio@rbthebook.com!
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Monday: Meet AC Arthur as she GuestBlogs here at RBTB! AC's the author behind The Donovans, sinfully attractive men-about-Sin City -- and stars of the hot Kimani series everyone loves to follow. "Full House" is on shelves now, and AC Athur's an author you don't wanna miss!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Feature Review: "The Mighty Quinns: Teague," By Kate Hoffman

By Becke Davis, RBTB Contributing Editor


“There’s a Heat Wave Down Under!”

There’s something about those Aussies – are they all as steaming hot as Russell Crowe in "The Gladiator," as Mel Gibson in "Mad Max," as Hugh Jackman in, well, anything? After meeting so many lovely Australian authors at RWA National a few weeks ago, I was drawn to Kate Hoffmann’s mouthwatering trio of novels about the quixotic Quinns. Well, okay, they’re not quixotic – they’re just really hot -- but there aren’t any synonyms for sexy that start with “qui!”

Anyway, usually I can’t get Hugh Jackman completely out of my mind – I mean, seriously, who can? – but now I’ve added the The Mighty Quinns to my lineup of sizzling Aussies. Things are heating up in Queensland, Australia . . .


The very first time Teague Quinn met Hayley Fraser, he knew he was going to marry her. He hadn’t counted on her running off while he was away at college, leaving him without a word of explanation. When she comes back home, he has only one objective – to persuade her to stay. The heat they always generated sizzles from his first sight of her, and Teague isn’t too proud to use that mutual attraction to win Hayley over.

Hayley couldn’t avoid Teague if she wanted to – she needs his expertise as an equine vet when her horse becomes ill due to her grandfather’s neglect of the family farm. She dubs him “Dr. Feelgood” – okay, Dr. Feelamazinglygood – but she’s happy to be friends with benefits. Teague isn’t complaining about the benefits, but he makes it clear he wants more. He wants forever, and he wants it to happen on Walleroo Station – the very last place Hayley wants to stay.

Teague’s story, part of Kate Hoffmann’s The Mighty Quinns trilogy from Harlequin Blaze, is a second-chance-at-love story that’s hot enough to fry eggs! Read one of the Quinn stories and you’ll want to read them all – these dudes from down-under make Crocodile Dundee seem tame. Brody’s story came out in June, Teague’s in July and Callum’s story will be published this month. Buy one or buy them all, but get yourself a fan and. . .

Buy the book!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Amanda Grange GuestBlog: Letting Go Of Pride And Prejudice

CONTEST TODAY!!! 3 randomly chosen commenters each wins a copy of "Mr. D, V" courtesy of Sourcebooks! Please have email addy available if you enter.

From Michelle:
I’ll admit it: I’ll take a gander at any incarnation of an Austen classic. But when I heard about Amanda Grange's “Mr. Darcy, Vampyre," I totally knew we had to meet the author. And, look at her pic: She seems like such a nice woman, despite the fact that she’s gone and found a funky dark-n'-sexy way to make Darcy even hotter. Check out Amy Kennedy’s Take on MD,V here. But first, please offer Amanda your warmest, “I vant to dlink his blahd” Bella buongiorno…
From Amanda: Thanks for inviting me, Michelle, it’s wonderful to be here, and a big hello from England to all the Bellas!

It’s a real pleasure for me to be chatting to you all today because ever since I was a little girl I’ve always loved everything about books. I love talking about them and thinking about them and blogging about them! I love the way they look, the way they feel and even the way they smell. I like to read everywhere, in the garden, or curled up by the fire or in bed. In fact, when I was a child I was often in trouble for reading under the covers when I was meant to be asleep. I just couldn’t bear to leave the interesting people and exciting places I found in each new book.

As I grew older, my favourite reading became romances and I couldn’t tear myself away from the pages until I knew that everything would work out between the hero and the heroine. Then I usually put the book away, satisfied. But some books left me wanting more. One of them was "Pride and Prejudice" and that’s why, back in 2005, I wrote "Mr Darcy’s Diary," because I wanted to spend more time with my favourite hero. There’s just something about that blend of arrogant outer surface and warm human being beneath that makes me melt.

But even that wasn’t enough. I found I was curious about what happened next, so I wrote a sequel to "Pride and Prejudice." Because I was reading a lot of Regency Gothic novels at the time, my sequel became a paranormal called "Mr Darcy, Vampyre." It starts where "Pride and Prejudice" leaves off, but when Lizzy and Darcy they go on their honeymoon, Lizzy discovers that Darcy has a secret!

So my question to you, Bellas, is this: Which romantic hero do you find it hard to let go? What is there about him that makes you long for more? And what kind of future would you like to imagine for him?

For a thrilling excerpt from "Mr. D, V," click here. Please check out Amanda's Vampyre devoted blog here, and follow Mr. Darcy, Vampyre on twitter!
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Check out a new "Heart to Heart" post today!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Feature Review: "Mr. Darcy, Vampyre," By Amanda Grange

By Amy Kennedy, RBTB Contributing Editor

Darcy, Darcy, Darcy! It’s always Darcy!

Lately,
I’ve been thinking about Austen's most famous hero, too. How could I not when everywhere I turn there’s another book related to, based on, or continuing the story of ‘Pride and Prejudice.”

I’m not complaining – hardly that – I love “Pride and Prejudice,” and all its characters. But the real truth is the one universally acknowledged by many readers: We can’t get our fill of Darcy.

Mr. Darcy, Vampyre” -- a thought provoking and seductively gothic tale written by Amanda Grange -- helps fill our Darcy void and makes us want to slap our foreheads and say, Yes, of course he was a vampire; that explains so much of all that brooding.

The novel begins as Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy marry. But it’s not exactly Elizabeth’s dream come true. After the ceremony Darcy receives messages, presumably from well-wishers, and as he reads them on the way to the wedding breakfast, Elizabeth sees Darcy evince a look of pure love one moment followed by one of abject torment the next.

Then, practically mid-carriage ride, Darcy changes their plans from traveling to the Lake District, to traveling to France, on to his uncle, The Count’s castle (cue the darkly melodious music), and finally to Italy. He says he needs to discuss a familial situation.

During the tour Elizabeth tries to be excited, she really does, but she’s growing concerned; Darcy hasn’t made her his wife “in truth.” Is he fearful for her well-being, or is it something more ominous? Because omens do follow them. Elizabeth fears several unexplained events really are portents: A bat beats at her bedroom window, an angry mob storms the castle, and a mysterious stranger enters her dark dreams, dreams which suddenly feel too real.

In Italy, Elizabeth has had enough. She concludes Darcy must think he’s made a mistake in marrying her. With outside urging she finally takes matters into her own hands, causing a series of incidences that either will lead to wedded bliss -- or the death of her Darcy.

Grange has continued a beloved story and added a darkly clever twist. She doesn’t let the reader down as she draws us deeper into the mystery that is Darcy. Grange makes us wonder what other classics we might have been wrong about.

I'd say, any reader in possession of a great imagination will want to
--

Buy the book.


How do you feel about adding revised story lines to your classics: Could you not care less, or are you thrilled? And which character from a classic is begging to be re-imagined?
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Amanda Grange GuestBlogs at RBTB Tomorrow, Wed Aug 5!
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For more paranormal fun, head to "Heart to Heart" for Michelle's exclusive, first-look Sherrilyn Kenyon interview and "Dark Moon Rising" dish! DMR drops today!

Monday, August 03, 2009

Secrets Untamed Pleasures Authors: I'll Show You Mine, If...

CONTEST TODAY!!! One randomly chosen commenter wins a copy of “Untamed Pleasures” plus a limited-edition Secrets Society pin courtesy of today’s guests! Have email addy accessible 4 chance 2 win, please.

From Michelle:
Two years ago, author Leigh Court GuestBlogged @ RBTB to talk bondage and anthologies. Today, Leigh and her fellow Red Sage Secrets Vol 27: Untamed Pleasures give you the scoop on the chicks behind the secrets that’ll have you wishing you were their IRL girlfriends. The Secrets anthologies are marvelous collections of erotic romance shorts written by some of your fave authors – and many up-and-comers. Please offer these Secrets authors your warmest, “Well, there was this one time…” Bella buongiorno…
From the Women of Untamed Pleasures: Hi Bellas! Big thanks to Michelle for letting us visit with you today! Secrets Volume 27: Untamed Pleasures is the newest erotic anthology from Red Sage Publishing, and Michelle (naughty Bella that she is) convinced us to reveal some of our own "secrets," instead of just giving you blurbs of our stories.

Believe me -- you're getting a rare glimpse into our private lives here!


Leigh Court’s Victorian romance "The Bet" is about a man who wagers he can satisfy a woman using just his mouth -- meaning his words. Leigh’s secret? She’s an ex-TV news reporter who knows how powerful words can be, and the potent effect words can have on our largest sex organ – the brain. Another secret? Her English husband is an expert in Victorian history (and he’s handy for, um, researching the sexy bits of her story, too). www.leighcourt.com


Hannah Murray’s "The Boy Next Door" is about a woman looking for Mr. Tie Me Up and Do Me Right – who turns out to live right next door! Hannah's story features some sexy bondage, and she ought to know - she's been a professional bondage model! She posed for a photography student whose bondage photos were part of a senior project, and for a how-to video for a friend who makes bondage rope. Both projects were tons of fun, and she’d love to do more. www.hannahmurray.net



Nicole North has a kilt addiction. Oh, wait, that isn't a secret. She loves traveling to Scotland, and attends Highland Games where brawny kilted men toss cabers around. The secret perhaps is that her husband refuses to put on a kilt so she can experience firsthand what's really worn underneath. Researching her "Devil In A Kilt," she had to rely on her imagination and some naughty pictures she found online. But if a gorgeous man in a kilt happened to offer himself up for research purposes, she’s sure her husband would run out and buy a kilt instantly. www.nicolenorth.com


Liane Gentry Skye has a secret most of us would love to have! While working in a cocktail lounge in Kentucky, she sucked face with none other than Sly Dog, the local lounge singer who (after a lot of pretty dental work) became Billy Ray Cyrus! But Liane’s first love is the sea – as a girl, she even wanted to be a mermaid. Her story "Heart Storm" features a mermaid who finds her true-love merman, which Liane did in real life when she married her very own Navy SEAL. www.lianegentryskye.com


We hope you’ll enjoy Secrets, Volume 27: Untamed Pleasures (available in bookstores and www.eredsage.com). Do you have a secret to share? Dish it, cause we won't tell! How good are you at keeping secrets?
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More Winners! Janet Mullany GB: Mitzi ; Tessa Dare GB: Lindsey. Write Michelle @ mbuonfiglio@rbthebook.com w/your snail mail, please! Congratulazione!
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Do you know the secret of "Mr. Darcy, Vampyre?" Tuesday, check out Amy's Take on this hot neo-gothic romance sensation from across the pond, and Wednesday, meet MDV author Amanda Grange(Mr Darcy's Diary), GuestBlogging from England.

Tuesday: Amy's Take; Wednesday: Amanda Grange; Thursday: Becke's Take; Friday: hmmm...Maybe I'll tell you about my upcoming trip to Barnes&Noble HQ in NYC...