Wednesday, January 31, 2007

So Shoe Me - Or - A Great Month Of GuestBloggers

This works out great cause I'm buried and can't think of a fab topic worthy of my Bellas. But I thought you'd like to know that we've got a great month of GuestBloggers coming up!

MaryJanice Davidson

GuestBlogs Monday, February 5

to celebrate the launch of
Romance: B(u)y the Book at

where I'll feature MJD's "Doing it Right."

Plus, Wed, Jan 7, Susan Elizabeth Phillips is here! You'll be able to read an excerpt from "Natural Born Charmer," plus my NBCharmer feature.

February GuestBloggers:

2 The TiVo DiVa
5 MaryJanice Davidson -- Doing it Right
7 Susan Elizabeth Phillips -- Natural Born Charmer

8 Samara O'Shea -- For the Love of Letters
9 Kris Waldherr -- The Lover's Path
12 Lori Foster -- Causing Havod
13 Marianne Mancusi -- A Hoboken Hipster In Sherwood Forest
14 Anna DeStefano -- The Perfect Daughter
16 Karen Hawkins -- How to Abduct a Highland Lord

21 Ann Christopher -- Risk
26 Helen Brenna -- Treasure
28 Megan Hart -- Dirty

How much do you love a great pair of shoes? How do you feel about shoe/accessory references in romances? Any of these GuestBloggers your faves?
What are you dying to talk to the TiVo DiVa about?

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Straight, With Cream, Please

Grazie, grazie Bethany True, for a great time yesterday! You can read Bethany's feature and AuthorView at Romance: B(u)y the Book!

orianna, you've won Bethany's contest, so email me your snail mail address at, Bella.

So, Sunday morning we do the family thing and head to Starbucks after mass for some coffee and sweets and stuff. And there's this "literacy project" bookcase next to our table, a kind of take one/leave on proposition.

The thing's, like, 2/3 full of romance novels! And I'm surprised, cause I rarely meet folks in my community who, ahem, "read romance."

Could it be that romance readers are coming from other communities to read anonymously in Starbucks, while they sip ridiculously expensive cups of java with complicated combination names?

As I'm drinking my 1/2 decaf double espresso, I notice a Teresa Medeiros novel I've not read, "Nobody's Darling." So I take it, and my son gets nervous cause I'm not leaving a book. I figure I can go back with about 40 the next time I'm there (to promote literacy among the suburban folks who "don't read romance.")

Becks has "Got Milk" in this ad, and he fairly makes me wanna give up drinking my espresso straight.
I thought we should have a little tribute to Becks. God, doesn't he look great in clothes? Manages still to look a little dirty.
He reminds me of this photo of Sting I used to have tacked over my bed in college -- all pissed off, but sexy for it. Then, there's the photo MK sent me of Becks as Prince Phillip in Disney's new ads shot by the inimitable Annie Liebowitz.
"Nobody's Darling" is a late 19th century "cowboy/wild west" historical. Do you like em? What are some of your favorites? What's your favorite c/ww scenario?

Monday, January 29, 2007

Bethany True GuestBlog: Brains Are The New Boobs

Contest! Bethany's giving one lucky commenting Bella a signed copy of "Remember the Alimony!" Check back tomorrow to see if you've won.

I began reading Bethany True's debut romance, "Remember the Alimony" (Dorchester 1/30) and thought: there is no way in America this chick never walked a stage in a swimsuit. I mean, in "Remember the Alimony," she makes the uninitiated understand what it would be like to be a gorgeous blonde, blue-eyed Miss Texas, that most famed and fairy-tale-like of all Miss America contestants, a woman who will forever in her state be revered as having accomplished something akin to winning a Nobel Peace Prize, but while wearing better shoes.

"Remember the Alimony" isn't about pageants, per se. It's about about a woman trying to move forward after her billionaire husband trades her in for a newer model. From there, it's fun, mystery, and hawt romance. I know you'll enjoy Bethany as much as I do, so
please, offer her a warm Bella buongiorno...

I was raised with the media reinforcing the stereotype that guys don’t make passes at girls who wear glasses. Beauty and intelligence were seemingly fairly independent. Why? When discussing the brains-beauty correlation, people overwhelmingly assume that women who are classically beautiful glide through life using their physical assets instead of burying their beautiful noses in a book while women who are not work harder at being smarter to get ahead. Whether that is universally true can be argued until the apocalypse. The bigger issue, for me, is breaking down the stereotype on both sides.

Somewhere along the puberty path, women are divided into two categories – the beauty queen and the brain. We are expected to choose one and then cattily criticize the members of the other. Pretty girls are empowered b
y their sexuality, smart girls are empowered by their intellect and both are rather weak.

Women, especially our romance heroines, are finally starting to learn what men have known all along – that it’s okay to use a balance of brains and beauty to get the things you need to have a rich and fulfilling life. Making the choice to be a contestant in a pageant to win thousands of dollars in scholarship money isn’t demeaning, it’s smart. Spend two hours in the library reading sonnets about the loveliness of the female form and tell me you don’t feel sexier than after spending two hours in a beauty salon ogling “perfect” women in glamour magazines.

Beyond rejecting the idea that we have to be one or the other, women need to transcend convention’s definition of both. We are willing to accept the spectrum of sexiness in men from the absentminded lab geek to the Hollywood heartthrob. In a world where females are truly equal we are willing to accept the same range for ourselves. Sexy doesn’t only come
in a size six and a smart girl isn’t dumb just because she enjoys a trashy novel more than she does a Tolstoy.

She can be the beauty queen…with a brain.

When I tell people I write "Women's Fiction" I inevitably get the "But you're so smart…" response. Nothing makes my blood boil hotter. Romance as a genre doesn't have the best reputation with literary types – most willing to discount the genre as a whole.

Readers, writers and fans of romance – how do you answer the elitists? What, if anything, can be done to break down the stereotype that intelligent people don't enjoy well written romance novels?

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Here She Is...

Miss America 2007 will be chosen Monday night, live from Las Vegas, and presented over CMT, Country Music Television.

And former Miss America Scholarhip preliminary contestant,

Bethany True, Newbie author of "Remember the Alimony,"
GuestBlogs tomorrow, Mon Jan 29

to chat about women, brains, and beauty.

Believe you me, it'll be an important, and really fun day you won't wanna miss.

And, not to scare you or anything, but the photo below was my "official" headshot during my "year of service as Miss PA 1989/Top Ten Miss A finalist. A journalist who once spent a week as a Miss America contestant for a pro-scholarship pageant story remarked that the contestants are smart, competent, and -- all wear so much makeup they look about forty years old.

Which is one of many reasons I cringe when I see this headshot. I mean, I'm not sure I could have worn more makeup, or had bigger hair. Shortly thereafter, Miss A started the "more natural" edict for contestants. My bouffant may have been responsible.

Yet the Miss A experience was a great one for me: I won more than $20 k in scholarship, clothes, use of a cool car for a year, plus traveled throughout the US promoting organ donation and gaining invaluable business/marketing savvy. Oh, and I got to complete the college degree I thought I'd never I'd be able to.

More important, the crown for some reason encouraged people to become friendy, and I was blessed to meet and be welcomed in friendship by all kinds of people. You can't buy that, and I sure as heck respect and appreciate the experience.

Are you gonna watch Miss America Monday Night? How do you feel about Miss A? Is "the largest scholarship organization for women" a front for a t/a fest? Have you competed in pageants?

Think about this statistic: Your son has a better chance of playing in the Super Bowl than your daughter has of becoming Miss America. I guess that means the Miss A competition's a little more refined than one might think...
Grazie mille, PlotMonkeys, for an ab fab week. We loved talking 'Kings of the Jungle,' and you managed to woo us with a man each of us would love to love. Can't wait to see you here again!
katie, you've won Carly's prize for Friday's blog! Send me your snail mail addy at Congratulazion, katie, and thanks to all you Bellas who came out to swing with the chicks from !

Friday, January 26, 2007

Carly Phillips PlotMonkeysBlog: The King Of The Jungle According To Carly

Contest!!! Carly's offering one lucky commenting Bella "Bella's Choice" of an autographed Hot Zone novel!

PlotMonkeys winners thus far: wed/canadacole; thrs/shannon

What's up with these women totally obsessing on hunky sports figures? I'd never go all gaga over some athlete just because he's handsome, has a lithe, strong body, and poses for nearly-nude photos with a fine sheen of sweat coating his abs.
Ok, I would and have (ciao, Fabio Cannavaro)! And apparently Carly Phillips feels the same, because she's here to top off 'King of the Jungle' Week with a tribute to a kinda new class of hero which just might surprize you. So, Bellas, please welcome back our girl, Carly, with warm almost-to-the-weekend buongiorno...

My king of the jungle varies depending on which book I am writing so for today’s king of the jungle, let me introduce you to a hero quite unlike any I’ve done before. John Roper, star of HOT PROPERTY, (aka Hot Zone book # 4) is, was, and always will my metrosexual hero. What do I mean by that?

I’m going to explain but bear with me. My interest in the concept of metrosexual athletes began with my obsession with Mike Piazza when he was with the NY Mets. Last time I visited the Bellas I posted a picture of my favorite hottie but I’m nice so I’m going to share it again. Back to my hero. I recalled the Daily News or the NY Post I can’t remember which doing an article about Mike’s habits and discussing designer haircuts versus the barber around the corner, back waxing for men, manicures, and a love of clothing and expensive things. Not a big deal. Who can fault a man for enjoying the nicer things in life, especially if he’s a star athlete?

When I started the Hot Zone books, Micki the youngest sister and star of Hot Number, needed a best friend and John Roper was born. A connoisseur of fine wine and of course finer women, Roper was just calling out to be tamed and he will be in HOT PROPERTY (7/08). Roper is a challenge to write because he isn’t the guy’s guy I typically create. Hair gel is essential to this man and so are silk sheets but that doesn’t mean he’s soft. Oh, no. He’s hard and male (take that any way you want!). And to tide you over, I’ve included some metrosexual men to drool over.

Who’s your favorite star metro? Or do you have a metro man in your life you want to share with us? My hubby’s somewhat in between but mostly a guy’s guy. Unsure what I mean? Check out the Sports Illustrated Quiz from
Espn Nation (2003) before answering!

Hope you had fun today. Whoever posts is eligible to win their choice of a signed Hot Zone book (Hot Stuff, Hot Number, or Hot Item).

Visit Carly at , and hang with her and the Queens of the Jungle at !
Encore! Carly's "Simply Sexy" is out now from Hqn.
Encore due! May I just say I can't wait for John Roper's story?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Leslie Kelly PlotMonkeyBlog: My King Of The Jungle

Contest!!! One lucky commenting Bella wins 3 heroes from Leslie! Read her GuestBlog to find out more!

PlotMonkeys Week winners to date: Tues/elisa; Wed/canadacole. Please send me your snail mail ads at !

Leslie Kelly's got some of the hottest covers around -- including one on her website she calls "John Boy with Pecs!" So it just makes sense that she joins us for day three of "King of the Jungle' Week to talk about another fave of we RBtheBloggers. Please offer the very talented Miss Kelly a cheerful buongiorno as she divulges which King of the Jungle could get coconut shell crumbs on her 700-count egyptians anytime...

Hey, thanks for sticking around for more Jungle talk with the Plotmonkeys! And what a great subject to talk about…men.

I have to start by saying my husband really is my hero. He’s the undisputed king of my jungle.

Now, Janelle and Julie have covered some fabulous hero types, and I know Carly will, too. I’ve written their kinds of heroes, too, except, I think, for the Chief. But overall, there’s one type of guy I always end up going back to, the one who make my heart sing and my pages fly, and deep in the heart of even my most conservative professor hero, there’s an element of the one I love the most: the charming rogue.

He’s not the same as a bad boy. The rogue’s badness is primarily related to women and it isn’t bad at all, it’s just…naughty. Wicked. Playful.


I love playboy/rogue heroes. I love their self-confidence and the way they can work their way around any woman’s defenses. I love that they’d rather charm their way into a woman’s good graces than battle their way to her heart. I love that they don’t need to bluster or bully. They smile, they wink, they can captivate a woman’s imagination with a word or a suggestive glance. The rogue loves women--all women--and he loves to be loved by women. BUT…he will fall hard when he finds his perfect match..

Rogues. Yeah.

I’ve written a lot of them. Probably my favorite was Mick Winchester, the real estate agent hero of my first single title novel KILLING TIME. He was such a player, he had a Big Bad Wolf tattoo across his lower back. Yet at the end, he was a confident enough guy that he didn’t think twice about heading off to California to move into the heroine’s world, never thinking about asking her to give up her life for his.

I can definitely think of some rogue heroes I’ve loved in television and movies. Anyone who knows me knows I had a crush on Hugh Jackman a few years ago. I loved him as Eddie in Someone Like You. He was an ultimate playboy, unrepentant, sexy, a womanizer but so charming.

A lot of people call Rhett Butler from Gone With The Wind an Alpha hero, but I don’t see him that way. He didn’t feel the burning alpha need to go off to war to prove something. He never let Scarlett get the best of him. He flirted, he smiled, he charmed. He was a cad, a rogue. And we adored him.

As for TV, my favorite character in the show LOST is not Jack. It’s Sawyer--the con man, the flirt, the dog. He might be wicked, but he has his own code and he adheres to it. (I was shocked that Kate held out until season three to jump on him!)

I’ve recently found myself writing three more serious, intense heroes in a row and I am so ready to find myself falling in love with a rogue. Fortunately, I’m about to embark on an interesting project, writing a “Take 5” book for Blaze, in which I’ll be writing five separate, yet connected, romances in one book. I know at least one of the heroes will be a vampire and another will be a cop. But beyond that, you can bet there will be at least one more of those heartbreaking playboys in the mix.

After all, I need my fix.

Want to win three books starring some of my favorite rogue heroes? Just post a comment and I’ll pick a random winner who will get to know: Mick from KILLING TIME, Max from HERE COMES TROUBLE and Troy from WICKED & WILLING.

Visit Leslie at, and with her cheeky monkey pals at !

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Janelle Denison PlotMonkeyBlog: Protect Me, Wilde Man!

Contest!!! Janelle's offering one lucky commenting Bella a totally Wilde gift package! It'll all be clear once you've read her GuestBlog!

If you've not read any of her Wilde romances, you're missing out, cause Janelle Denison knows how to write a hero. And we loves us some heroes, don't we, Bellas?

For the second day of 'King of the Jungle' Week, Janelle's talking with us about a favorite of many a romance fiction fan, so let's have right at it! But before I forget my manners, Buongiorno, Janelle, and welcome to RBtheBlog...

First off, I wanted to issue a great big THANK YOU to Michelle for inviting the Plotmonkeys to play here at Romance: By the Blog! It's great to be here!

Though I've written many types of heroes over the years, lately the "King of the Jungle" in my novels have been leaning more toward "the protector". The protector is a man who is loyal, honest, and believes strongly in defending his family, close friends, and his lover. Whether he is an executive, blue-collar worker, cop, or an ex-Marine, these are traits that my male characters are very likely to possess. To me, there is nothing sexier than a man who puts the heroine's safety before his own. A man who will lay down his life for the one woman who holds his heart.

Another appealing aspect of The Protector is his body, of course. In order to be a strong, formidable kind of guy, he needs to be in shape physically. He's got rock hard abs, muscular arms, and a solid chest. Take a look (and a second look, if you'd like) at the guys posted on today's blog, and you'll get my drift!

In my upcoming Wilde story, BORN TO BE WILDE (Sept. Berkely), my hero, Joel, is the ultimate protector and guardian. He's also a warrior, an ex-Marine who has seen his share of death and destruction in a hellacious war that honed every one of those protective instincts. Now, years after leaving the military, he's making good use of those skills working as a security specialist. Except he never, ever, expects to fall for a woman he's sworn to protect, and his feelings for Lora Marshall end up messing with his head, his emotions, and his ability to keep her safe. Oh, yeah, and his libido, too!

What I find so appealing about writing a "protector" is the fact that there usually needs to be some kind of close proximity between the hero and heroine for a good part of the story. The hero's goal is to keep the heroine safe, and that requires plenty of close contact . . . which usually leads to the kind of hot sexual tension that makes the pages sizzle! Now that's my kind of book!

So, what kind of hero is your favorite kind of protector? A cop? Bodyguard? Fireman? What kind of hero would you like protecting your body?

FUN GIVEAWAY: Whoever posts on today's blog will be eligible to win an autographed copy of Janelle's book, TOO WILDE TO TAME, and other Wilde goodies (or another book, if you already have that one!).

Visit Janelle at, and with her jungle cohorts at .

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Julie Leto PlotMonkeyBlog: The King Of My Jungle

Contest!!! One lucky commenting Bella wins copies of "Up to No Good," "I'll Be Home for Christmas," and "Private Lessons," courtesy of Julie!

Welcome to 'King of the Jungle' Week! For the next quartet of days, the cheeky PlotMonkeys are here to entertain with tales from the jungle, most likely some that would leave ol' Tarzan blushing down to his, um, loincloth.

The very first moment I met our first PlotMonkey, Julie Leto, she put a plate in my hand and started feeding me. Clearly, I liked her immediately. Julie did what we try to do here with newcomers, Bellas, she made me feel not only welcome, but as if she were happy to meet me. I'm very happy you're getting to meet her today, and I know you'll wish her your warmest buongiorno, 'specially once you check out her topic.

I guess it’s appropriate that I kick off this week of guest blogs by the Plotmonkeys! Thanks, Michelle, for letting us hang around your jungle for a while. It’s also appropriate that the kind of guy I’m going to kick off our discussion with is best compared to the King of the Jungle (okay, savannah...let’s not get technical!) He’s a lion in the boardroom and the bedroom. He’s the master of his domain (snickers to Seinfeld!) and his beauty is unsurpassed. He’s better know in archetypal parlance as the Chief.
You know him--wealthy, keenly intelligent, powerful. He’s the CEO of the Fortune 500 company. He’s the self-made man. He’s the bossy boss. It’s hard to turn this guy into a lovable lover, but when the combination works, he can be irresistible because he’s a man who knows what he wants.

Coming up with examples from TV and film wasn’t as easy as I’d thought I’d be, but here are a few of my favorites--Harrison Ford in Sabrina. John Forsyth on Dynasty. Nathan Petrelli on Heroes (my new favorite show.) Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko in Wall Street--evil in this case, but sexy. Jasper Jax on General Hospital (or even Sonny Corinthos, for those of you who are big GH fans!)

He’s the guy who immediately takes over the room when he walks in, knows what he wants and goes after it. Many romance readers associate this character with the male protagonists from series books like Harlequin Presents and they are not wrong, but I’ve found that softening those guys a bit with some vulnerability makes them work better for me. Well, making them WRONG works best for me, an
d who better than a strong heroine to bring the lion to his knees?

In my Marisela series (Dirty Little Secrets and Dirty Little Lies, both published by Pocket), Ian Blake, Marisela’s boss, is a classic “chief” hero, even if he’s not the undisputed hero of the series. He’s ruthless and clever, but looks mighty hot in his tailored tuxedo or arriving at crime scenes in a sleek limousine. I also embraced this character type in my 2004 Blaze, Up to No Good. Se
bastian Stone (who was inspired by the Stefan Cassadine character on General Hospital, another hottie Presents-potential hero) had more money than God, flew from Paris to Prague in a night just to get a good shot of vodka and entertained high society women in his posh penthouse suites. Took a street girl like Micki Carmichael to tame him, and oooh, what fun that was!

My first Chief hero was Grant Riordan, an uptight investment ban
ker in my second book, Private Lessons, which is being re-released by Harlequin this month with a cute new cover. The woman who tames him is Harley, a woman who’s hit rock bottom and turns to stripping to up her personal ante. When she’s knocked unconscious in Grant’s livingroom, well, let’s just say let the taming begin!

I think I like this character type so much because I love to write strong women and the wom
en I write need to have met their match. Right now, I’m working on the first book in a paranormal series I’m writing for NAL/Signet. The hero, Damon Forsyth (yes, that’s on purpose) is the epitome of the Chief. The book is a contemporary, but Damon lived and died, sort of, in 1747. I get to pit his old world arrogance, intelligence and passion against a heroine who not only runs her own hotel conglomerate, but who isn’t a shrinking violet in the bedroom, either. Chief vs. Chief.

What a rush!

Can you think of any other hot, powerful heroes out there in film and books and television? What is appealing about them to you?
Visit Julie Leto at and with the rest of her cheeky monkey pals at!
Encore! Julie forgot to mention one of her hottest Chiefs, Simon (shiver) of "Meltdown," from "I'll Be Home for Christmas." (Pocket) I, of course, haven't forgotten him yet.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Hey, Hey, It's PlotMonkey Week!

Oh, how could I have forgotten? Thursday, I'm interviewing La Nora about her Lifetime Television novels-to-movies! What do you think I should ask her?

He's the King of the Jungle, and they ain't talkin' Elvis in a loincloth.

Nope, this week the cheeky monkeys from -- Carly Phillips, Julie Leto, Leslie Kelly, and Janelle Denison -- are here

Tues. Jan 23 -- Fri. Jan 26

and they're talkin' Heroes, those Kings of the Jungle of Romance!

Julie Leto, Tues 23

Janelle Denison, Wed 24

Leslie Kelly, Thrs 25

Carly Phillips, Fri 26

I've met only Carly and Julie, but Janelle and Leslie are warm and welcoming as anything over at, this group's group blog, where they talk about family, life, writing, and eating lots of chocolate. And they give away lots of chocolate, too. Know your audience, I say.

So join us this week as the PlotMonkeys teach us the Law of the (Romance) Jungle!

How much do you love chocolate? Read any romances with chocolate-y good themes? Howza bout some romances with chocolate-y good love scenes?

Friday, January 19, 2007

Viva BlogVegas: Hunka Hunka

Tuesday nite, Dave and I renewed our vows with Elvis, and it couldn't have been more fun.

I mean, we expected a good time, but the folks at Graceland Chapel take weddings seriously. And Elvis aka Jeff Stanulis? Totally nice man who, I think, looks at his job the same way we do romance: a little tongue-in-cheek, all in good fun, but with an eye toward the fact that what he does means a lot to a lot of folks.

It was perfect. And since I think I promised, you can see the ceremony by clicking on our photo with Elvis and entering the following info into the boxes in this order w/out slashes: Buonfiglio/ David/ Buonfiglio/ Michelle/ 01/ 16/ 2007

Our son's been telling everyone we got "remarried."
What are some good romances in which the h/hn get remarried, or are a married couple who get back together after years of separation?

Grazie mille Erin McCarthy for visiting along with your friends from Vegas. We're looking forward to Brittany and Corbin's story. Please come back soon!
Encore! Erin sent me this lovely pic of the boy with the pretty grey eyes, but I couldn't download it yesterday. So, happy Friday! And I tossed in this shot I found of a hot, wet Alessandro G-eye Candy for your TGIediFication.
Encore due! PamK, you've won a copy of Erin's "Bit the Jackpot!" Send me your snail mail addy at, Bella. Congratulazione!