Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Jenna Petersen GuestBlog: Fight, Fight, Fight!

CONTEST TODAY!!! One Lucky Commenting Bella wins a copy of Jenna's "Jess Michaels" title, "Something Reckless!"

From Michelle: Jenna Petersen's new "Her Notorious Viscount" may be my fave of all her uniquely engaging romances. It's sexy, 2 b sure, yet her compelling riffs on several never-fail-to-pleasure, gut-punch romance themes make it a sure thing for the die-hard historical maven -- and the 'can't wait to meet the hero's best pal in the next book' aficionado. Please buy the book after you welcome Jenna w/your warmest "The bigger they are, the harder they, um, fall" Bella buongiorno...
From Jenna: Hello Bellas! Gosh, it’s so good to be back here with all of you! This is one of my favorite places to visit just because you’re all so welcoming, so thanks for having me again and I’m looking forward to a nice day here with you all.

Well, maybe not so nice. After all, I’m here to talk about fighting. I think all romance is a little bit about the fight. If the hero or heroine or both don’t have to fight for their love at least once, then I start to wonder about whether or not they can really make it. A fight is about a test, can you survive it? Can you win? I want the answer to be “Yes!!” when it comes to my heroes and heroines and for my readers to walk away thinking that this is really a relationship that can stand all the tests time will bring.

But this time around, with my book that comes out today, I went a little further than that proverbial “fight” for love. In "Her Notorious Viscount," my hero is an honest-to-God, real fighter. A pugilist to be precise, which is a fancy Regency term for a boxer. During the Regency, boxing really started to take hold. Men bet on it, even gentlemen had an eye for it. But do it themselves? Not so much. I mean, how barbaric for a gentleman to get punched in the mouth… for money.

And yet that is exactly what my hero does. Disenfranchised by the trite, boring life he leads as the second son of a Marquis, he makes a complete break from that world and dissolves into the Underground and a life of boxing and women. Only the death of his beloved brother brings him back to the surface and into the limelight as he becomes the heir apparent with a title of his own (Viscount… hence the Notorious Viscount part of the title).

I have to admit, I loved writing a hero who was as much a fighter in the physical sense as he was in the abstract sense. Nicholas is snarly and dangerous. He is accustomed to winning. He’s accustomed to doing whatever the hell he wants. But when it comes to living in the world he abandoned… well, he’s not so good at that. Which is where my heroine comes in. Jane Fenton agrees to “train” him into being a gentleman again if he’ll help her find her own brother, who was lost years ago. In her own way, she’s also a fighter. A woman who won’t give up, a woman willing to face danger in all its forms in order to save someone she loves. That’s my favorite kind of character and my favorite kind of transformation.

Plus, I got to play a little in one of my favorite outside hobbies, which is a great love for Mixed Martial Arts. Yes, I love a real fighter, too. The UFC, the octagon, the physical chess battle that is MMA… I adore it. Ask anyone who knows me well in “real life” and they’ll tell you that I’m a massive fan of the sport. We get just about every pay-per-view fight they offer and I’m pretty good at predicting who is going to win, too.

So what do you think of “the fight” element of romance? Do you want your heroes and heroines to fight for love? And how about those sweaty, sexy figher-men? C’mon… don’t you just want to heal them? Yummy!

I’ll be here all day, so feel free to throw your thoughts into the “ring” and let’s talk! Oh yeah, and I’ll choose one winner from everyone who comments to get a signed copy of my last
Jess Michaels release, "Something Reckless."

Thursday, March 26, 2009

'Brary Guy Says: Books Is Good 4 U*

Well, ok. So I didn't exactly get those recession-busting book recs to you this week like I promised. But, hey, it's not like the market made some ginormous rebound and we're all swimmin' in dough and can't wait another minute to run to the bookstore to blow our windfall on the top 30 picks in our To Be Bought (When Things Are Lookin Brighter) (TBBwtalb) list.

Yeah. That was lame. But we've been getting ready for a family trip and I just didn't get everything done with the kids on spring break. What's with this "We wanna spend time with just us and you, Mom" crap? If I wanted to spend time with kids, I woulda become a Big Sister, not a mother.

Anywayz, we're heading back to freezing-cold Minnesota for a few days and I can't decide what books to bring along to read. I might actually have to buy one at Mall of America when I go there to visit my favorite Nordie girl, Jen.

What book have you read lately that I should get at MOA? What's it about? Or should I just treat myself to a nice new lip gloss at the Bobbie Brown counter? What's your advice?
*Encore! I've been thinking that since we're spending a little more time at the library borrowing romance these days until we've got more of the ready, we might want to front a few bucks to our local 'brary system to thank them for supporting romance authors, as well as literacy. Don't forget, you also can donate your old romances to library book sales. Find out when your local 'brary sale is the next time you go to browse. :)
Encore due! Jenna Petersen GuestBlogs Tuesday, March 31! Her new read, "Her Notorious Viscount" is a really fun, very sexy read with a rough hero and a hero-pal whose story I'm already dyin' for.
Sign up here with a click or in the sidebar for the NEW RBTB newsletter by 3.31 for a chance 2 win a $25 Borders card!
Authors: Wanna be a FOB? Link RBTB from your site/blog and send me your url @ mbuonfiglio@rbthebook.com. I'll link you up on the Friends of Bellas page!

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Boss: Go To The Storytellers*

Like most people, I get my news from Jon Stewart. The only thing that could make his reportage more reliable to me is if it were solely the domain of the Internet. For as you know, if it’s written on online it must be true.

Anyways, couple nights ago while Jon was interviewing the Boss, I found myself as verklempt as I’ve ever been over Bruce Springsteen, only, unlike the usual case, it wasn’t over Bruce’s fine goin-on-60 rocker ayuss.

Nope. Bruce was hawking his new disk, “Working on a Dream,” and talking about how this economy is forcing us to look for heroes. Says Bruce, in times like these, we turn to the storytellers for guidance.

From what you’ve been telling me since back in 2005, so many of you started “looking for heroes” as early as 9/11 or shortly thereafter. I first turned to romance then.

Today, we continue to turn to the storytellers who’ve moved women for decades and helped us work toward hope one happily ever after at a time. Our bank accounts may not tell the story of economic health in the near future. But as a whole, we romance readers continue to use what extra entertainment dollars we can scrounge to buy the books we love. Which, according to Romance Writers of America e-News, is very good news for the health of romance…

”…romance fiction is selling well despite the economic downturn. Harlequin Enterprises reports revenue rose 2.2 percent in 2008 to $379 million U.S., with sales up in both the North American retail and overseas segments. (Publishers Weekly, 26 Feb. 2009) And, the Chicago Sun-Times says sales have increased at Borders for American history, 'romance novels and science fiction and fantasy books.' (Chicago Sun-Times, 28 Feb. 2009) The USA Today best-seller list reflects the success of romance fiction. For the week of March 4, 'one-quarter of the list’s top 50 books are romance novels, and 20 percent of the books new to the list are in that category.' (USA Today, 4 Mar. 2009)"

…and in my op, grand as well for our continued health and well being. For example, who among us wouldn’t give up a couple over-priced cups a’ body-agitatin’ joe to buy a body-reelin’-and-relaxin’ new romance every couple weeks?

Would you? Are you? How have your romance-buying habits changed in this harsh economy? What are you doing to see that you still get all the romance you crave? Are you giving up other luxuries to get your love book fix?

*This week at RBTB, let’s ‘Go to the Storytellers” and see what new and upcoming books I think might be good buys for your hard-earned entertainment dollars.
Sign up here with a click or in the sidebar for the NEW RBTB newsletter by 3.31 for a chance 2 win a $25 Borders card!
Authors: Wanna be a FOB? Link RBTB from your site/blog and send me your url @ mbuonfiglio@rbthebook.com. I'll link you up on the Friends of Bellas page!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Saturday Morning Edge

When he's not inspiring columns about the SI swimsuit edition and sexy string theorists, my son likes to talk to me about video games. A lot.

So to exact revenge, I make him watch vids of my fave songs. "Oh, is this gonn
a be another 'powerful' rock ballad?" he'll ask dripping sarcasm and impatience. The other day, he showed me this vid, the theme from his new fave Xbox game, "Mirror's Edge." How old am I? So old that it amazes me the ME lead is a young woman -- a strong, funky Asian chick -- whose digital skin boy- and guy gamers apparently have no prob slipping into. But then again, I didn't meet a female doctor til I was six.

You a gamer? What're your faves? Or are you a gamer from back in the day? What were your faves? Frogger? Pac Man? Uh, Pong?
Carolyn Jewel WINNER: Virginia! Congratulazione! Please send me your snail mail @ mbuonfiglio@rbthebook.com

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Carolyn Jewel GuestBlog: The Shape Of Swoons To Come

CONTEST TODAY!!! One randomly chosen commenter (LCB) wins an ARC of Carolyn's June paranormal romance, "My Forbidden Desire" which she'll send off as soon as the ARCs arrive!

From Michelle: Carolyn Jewel's "Scandal" is taking romance fans by storm, but Carolyn's no newbie to the scene; her sensuous, beautifully written romances have wowed readers for quite some time -- and this reader is happily gathering Carolyn's 'backlist' for upcoming read-feasts. Today, Carolyn's got a twist on a question we can't seem to answer oft 'nuff round here, so please welcome her with a warm, "Oh, those Italian footballers are hawt" Bella buongiorno...
From Carolyn: Hello everyone, with a heartfelt buongiorno to the Bellas, of course.
I have an Italian connection to this blog, you know. I once submitted a photo of Italian footballer Gianluca Zambrotta to Bella-In-Chief Michelle as an example of a swooningly lovely man in sports. At the time, he played for the Italian team Juventus (and the World Cup champion Italian team). Now he kicks it for A.C. Milan. I was thrilled to bits when my soccer heartthrob submission showed up on this blog.

Now I’m actually GuestBlogging here. Wow. I hope you all realize this puts me on the same website as Gianluca. Is that fate or what? I’m getting all tingly just thinking about it. (Focus, Carolyn! snapping fingers. Oh, Gianluca! Sound of water splashing in Carolyn’s face.)
Right. Thank you Michelle.

Anyway, I thought I’d guest blog about swoon-worthy heroes in the books I love to read. Forexample, I seriously worried I wasn’t going to last until Sherrilyn Kenyon got around to telling Acheron’s story. My favorite Black Dagger brother: Zsadist. (No, wait, it’s Vishous)! There are two more Brothers I’m dying to read about: John Matthew and Torhment. And I’ve developed a fairly serious thing for Michael in Meljean Brook’s Guardian series. She says she’s going to write his story. She better! I drop by her blog every now and then to make sure she’s keeping on track. So far so good. There’s also Lee Child’s Jack Reacher. Not a Romance hero, I know, but come on. He’s swoonie, too.

Now, I’m always looking for a good hero. Who isn’t? I tend to like them a bit bad … like that’s any big secret from the woman who says Zsadist is her favorite Brother. For me, there’s nothing better than a hero in need of redemption. Lord Banallt, the hero of "Scandal," my February historical from Berkley is a hero who used to be bad and has to prove he isn’t. Xia, the hero of "My Forbidden Desire," my June pararnormal from Grand Central, was a very bad boy in "My Wicked Enemy," the book before Xia's story.

Here’s what I want to know. Who’s a swoon-worthy hero for you? Whose story are you looking forward to? And for a possibly trick question: why?

Sign up here with a click or in the sidebar for the NEW RBTB newsletter by 3.31 for a chance 2 win a $25 Borders card!
Authors: Wanna be a FOB? Link RBTB from your site/blog and send me your url @ mbuonfiglio@rbthebook.com. I'll link you up on the Friends of Bellas page!

Monday, March 16, 2009

You Ask; You Gots

You wanted Carolyn Jewel; you gets her. The author of the much-dished-about “Scandal” GuestBlogs for your digital pleasure this Wednesday, March 18 with a quest and a contest just for you.

Now, I’d forgotten Carolyn has a special connection to RBTB, which she reminds us of Wednesday as she's hostessing while I'm off having a little -- can you believe it? -- cataract surgery. It'll be so nice to see clearly again!

Whilst nosing 'round CarolynJewel.com, something struck me. In the area titled “The Love/Hate Section” which, frankly, made me ascared at first, Carolyn’s got a “Novels I Admire and Think Everyone Should Read” heading (followed by the genius “Novels I Despise and Think Everyone Should Read and Agree with Me” which I may steal as the title of some future romance commentary venture).

Anywayz, at the top of Jewel's “Novels I Admire,” is the title of one of my fave novels of all time, and one of the first books I learned to look at critically, “Things Fall Apart,” by Chinua Achebe. It’s a book I think about in snips/snatches or image washes from time to time when something in the everyday sets off a connection. And while romance fiction often does the same for me, literary fiction like this Achebe does so because I get the sense the story is moving me in the same tide with which he's moving/has moved a world view.

Yet a non-romance book doesn't have to be important to us because it moves and shakes. It could be something non-fiction that brings us to a locale we've not visited, or a biography that introduces us to an historical figure we grow to admire.

But enough about my husband's well-documented-at-RBTB obsession with John and Abigail Adams' supposed love story for the ages...What's your favorite non-romance book for the ages? Why do you love it? Is it a "literary" novel? If it's literary, does that make it more important than romance fiction and why?

Miranda Nevill WINNER: Kati! Write mbuonfiglio@rbthebook.com w/your snail mail, pls. Congratulazione!
Sign up in the sidebar for the NEW RBTB newsletter by 3.31 for a chance 2 win a $25 Borders card!
Authors: Wanna be a FOB? Link RBTB from your site/blog and send me your url @ mbuonfiglio@rbthebook.com. I'll link you up on the Friends of Bellas page!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Please Enjoy These Nice Young Men As They, Oh, How Do You Say It? Bang Their Heads. Yes. That's It.

This song always gets me jazzed; hope it gets your Saturday goin. If you're a C+W fan, you may get a kick outta the fact that BSC's drummer's the son and nephew of guys in the Kentucky Headhunters. Meet'cha at Dumas Walker's, y'all.
Carolyn Jewel GuestBlogs Wed., 3.18
Miranda Neville WINNER: Kati! Congrats! Write me at mbuonfiglio@rbthebook.com w/your snail mail!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Miranda Neville GuestBlog: Who'd You Rather?

CONTEST TODAY: One LCB wins a copy of Miranda's must-read debut, "Never Resist Temptation," (NRT) courtesy of Miranda!

From Michelle:
If'n you didn't already know I find Miranda Neville's debut, "Never Resist Temptation" witty and sensual, you do now. Add to that we can only expect more and better (if you can imagine) from whatever she dishes up next. Please buy her book, and welcome Miranda with your warmest "Oh, do I hafta choose?" Bella buongiorno...
From Miranda: Buon giorno, Bellas. I am thrilled to be hanging with you charmers today (and I love pretending I can speak Italian).

My debut historical, "Never Resist Temptation," has been out for two weeks now. It’s the most thrilling and scariest thing that ever happened to me. Thrilling I don’t have to explain.

Instead of using my headshot for this blog I chose the picture my daughter snapped in Borders on release day, insanely waving at my book on the shelf. Scary because finally people are going to read the book I slaved over for so long, and naturally I’m terrified people won’t like it.

Bellissima Michelle wrote a gorgeous feature review for which she wins my undying gratitude. What really struck me in her feature was:

“It's got that fab romance convention, the 'heroine whose virtue is wagered in a card game by her unseemly, scheming uncle’"

I love that plot line too! It sets up that wonderful shivery feeling of “she’s in his power and she’s really mad at him but she fancies him like crazy.”

Another favorite of mine is the bet: he bets he can seduce her and of course she’s going to be furious when she finds out. In fact my next book but one has this plot line, with the twist that it’s the heroine who makes the wager—with the hero’s worst enemy.

So that got me thinking, would I rather be lost in a card game or seduced on a bet? It goes without saying that the bettor/seducer looks more like, say, Hugh Jackman than Rush Limbaugh. If it’s Rush doing it all bets are off (and this is an aesthetic not a political judgment).

And that got me thinking about the hours I used to spend with my sister playing that old game WHO WOULD YOU RATHER? Who would you rather—Sean Connery or Roger Moore? (it was a long time ago and the answer is easy, Sean every time). These days I’m seriously torn between the aforementioned Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig.

Often the most fun was deciding between the really creepy ones. Snape or Lord Voldemort? (Nothing against Alan Rickman or Ralph Fiennes but they don’t look their best in the Harry Potter movies). Rush or Dick Cheney?

So who would you rather? Hugh or Daniel, Rush or Dick? Or any other pair you care to imagine. One comment will win a copy of NRT!
Encore! Congratulazione to our very own Bella Marilyn/Playground Monitor who scored a full-manuscript read from Harlequin Silhouette Special Edition Contest!
Encore due! Visit Bella Amyskf @ RidingWithTheTopDown.blogspot.com today where she’s starring in Follower Friday!
Encore tre! Megan Hart's randomly selected a WINNER: Amyskf! Please write mbuonfiglio@rbthebook.com
Sign up in the sidebar for the NEW RBTB newsletter by 3.31 for a chance 2 win a $25 Borders card!
Authors: Wanna be a FOB? Link RBTB from your site/blog and send me your url @ mbuonfiglio@rbthebook.com. I'll link you up on the Friends of Bellas page!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Bastardly, Dastardly And Big In All Ways

Tom Hanks is not a bastard.

Oh, maybe he could be. I mean, you don’t get that successful in H’wood – and become so brilliant a producer – without the big, em, chutzpah to carry it off. So, Tom is indeed a fine businessman.

But not a bastard. Although he did play one on-screen. You remember “You’ve Got Mail,” right? The Techno 90s, AOL-product placement take on “The Shop Around the Corner?” In it, Tom and America’s Sweetheart, Meg Ryan snip and snipe by day as he – on behalf of his family’s big, bad, back-in-the-day-brick-and-mortar behemoth book chain -- tries buy out her ever-so-important to the community independent book store.

But by night, ah, the digital magic happens as Tom and Meg meet anonymously online, trade email and fall in lerve, neither hip to the fact that the other’s their daytime nemesis.

But Tom’s a complete gentleman throughout, online and on-screen. The bastard.

Cause, really, there aren’t a whole lotta dominant captains of industry who can separate business from pleasure, and usually – at least in the case of the monied-and-powerful romance hero – their manipulative, cold, the world-is-my-oyster-and-you-are-my-bought-and-easily-discarded-w/o-a-second-thought-hoochie-plaything attitude toward the women they have sex with usually ends up bitch slapping em to their knees.

But what if that ‘tude ended up wooing a heroine right into his bed, and kept him there despite the fact he’s fairly misogynistic? What if he can barely keep himself from bitch slapping her, swives vigorously mistresses and whores at the same time he’s having an affaire with his fair heroine and tells her she needn’t use the condoms she’s bought because he’s very “careful?” And – oh yeah – what if at the same time this hero’s trying to ruin her reputation and have her arrested on indecency charges so he can buy her ever-so-important-to-the-community bookshop to build a development and save ₤90,000?

I’ll tell you “what if”: If you have all that, you’ve got Fitz Monkton , Duke of Groveland, hero of Susan Johnson’s unrelentingly erotic new novel, “Gorgeous as Sin.”

Yes; it’s true. Susan Johnson’s written Fitz so hot in bed – and has given him such a magnificently and lovingly described manhood -- that those things alone could allow me overlook his worst qualities. But it’s the fact that he’s so painfully not self-aware of his emotional needs – yet so precisely aware of his abject failings – that makes him my early choice for

2009 Bastardly, Dastardly, Big-In-All-Ways Hero of the Year.

Fitz Monkton is well aware that his strength lies in his sexual prowess, his ability to seduce any woman, and his innate ability not to give a damn about any of it. Perhaps the most powerful duke in England, “no” isn’t a word he hears often from anyone, especially not chits. So when he learns that some woman, the Rosalind St. Claire, won’t sell her bookshop so he can commence building a lucrative development – he realizes it’s time to personally turn on the charm that never fails to woo.

But fail with Rosalind Fitz does. The lovely widow cannot imagine a more repugnant – or arousing – personage as the duke, and digs in her heels. She may be genteel poor and anonymously writing erotica to support her bookshop and community social causes, but that doesn’t mean she’ll fold anytime soon.

But when her best friend suggests that perhaps a modern 1890s woman like Rosalind might take the duke as a lover – and compartmentalize the fact that he’s a bastard to her otherwise – she embarks on a sexually enriching affair that has her examining her notions of empowerment and need for emotional connection with a man with whom she’s sleeping.

Meanwhile, our duke finds his anger at Rosalind is heightening even as he becomes more addicted to their sexual relationship. And when his ire takes an unexpected turn the question becomes not if he’ll be brought to his knees, but whether Rosalind could possible shake off enough dignity to let him execute the genuflection.

It’s possible someone might write a hero more magnificently and mortifyingly uncaring of his woman’s feelings for as much of a book as Johnson has done with Fitz. Yet I’d be surprised if she could do it as successfully or with as much depth of emotion and sensuality or with just the right amount of “believable” redemption; Johnson resists the urge to geld the beastly bastard.

And if you think for one moment that Johnson allows her heroine to be some doormat – or some anachronistic 21st century woman in 19th century garb – you gots another think coming. Johnson slides seamlessly into an exploration of feminism, the suffrage movement, and social mores that is every bit as fascinating as the erotic sensual passages that Johnson is so adept at creating, and which surely earn her a place as one of the best writers of erotic romance.

Susan Johnson's sexy reads include terrific contemporaries -- I love "French Kiss" -- and I recommend you take a gander at all her novels when you head to the bookstore around the corner to grab "Gorgeous as Sin" --

Buy the Book

Got any Susan Johnson faves? Are you a fan of the bastardly hero?
Who are some of your faves?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Megan Hart GuestBlog: Love Leads 2 Love

CONTEST TODAY: One LCB wins a copy of Megan's fab new "Stranger" courtesy of Megs.

From Michelle: Megan Hart is an extraordinary writer. Her erotic novel, "Dirty" (an RBTB Year's Best winner) is on my short list of best eroms evah. Also, it's one of the most memorable novels I've read. Do check out anything MH, especially her newest, "Stranger." Please give Megan your warmest, "Oh, I so know what you mean!" Bella buongiorno...
From Megan: I just got home from one of the best weekends of my life.

I’ve been to the Romantic Times Convention (RT) and do I ever have a great time there. And don’t get me wrong, Iam a fan of other authors! But when I’m at RT, I’m on the other side of the table, so to speak. I’m there to work! So RT’s fun but nothing like my first fan con – Creation Entertainment’s Salute to Supernatural, held this past weekend. I had an amazing, exciting, entirely entertaining time. It was something else, to be immersed in a total “fan” environment, meeting people who’ve been on the show, talking with other fans, hanging out with my friends. I can honestly say I haven’t ever had an experience that even came close to it.

Not unsurprisingly, the moments I found most memorable were not during the q and a’s with the actors or the photo ops, but in the special, unexpected moments when I got to actually speak to these people about what they do – and surprise of surprises, most of them do some sort of writing.


To listen to actor Jim Beaver say “writing is hard” was no light-bulb moment for me. I know that. But to hear someone else say it made me smile and nod. To hear one of my favorite musicians, Jason Manns, say that his songs aren’t ever really “finished” spoke to me as an author who knows the book does have to end, but when? To have the chance to talk with Richard Speight, Jr. about his screenwriting (something I’d like to do) added layers to the weekend that went beyond my fan-girl squeeing over a television show.

It made me love what I do even more.

Being a fan of something – loving something – constantly brings me to new places, provides me with new ideas and inspiration. Being a fan helps me dip deep into my creative well, whether it’s my love of a musician, an author, an actor, or a television show, because what I’ve found is, love leads to love. When I give myself up to something I enjoy, I always find a way to use that emotion in my writing.

Love leads to love.

Tell me what you love! I’ll draw one winner today from all the comments and send you a signed copy of "Stranger," my latest release from Spice. Hopefully, you’ll love it and become a fan!

Thanks to all the Bellas and Michelle for having me here today!

www.meganhart.com -- www.readinbed.net -- www.danehart.com
Miranda Neville ("Never Resist Temptation") GuestBlogs Friday! Contest!
Click the pink 2 check out the RBTB & Friends page & more! Write Michelle @ mbuonfiglio@rbthebook.com to donate items!
Sign up in the sidebar for the NEW RBTB newsletter by 3.31 for a chance 2 win a $25 Borders card!
Authors: Wanna be a FOB? Link RBTB from your site/blog and send me your url @ mbuonfiglio@rbthebook.com. I'll link you up on the Friends of Bellas page!

Monday, March 09, 2009

FS5 911: Big Disappointment

Jo Davis is evil.

You’d think it’d be enough for her that she scribbled “Trial by Fire,” the romance book that introduced us to Howard “Six Pack” Paxton” -- who charmed and hot-tubbed his way onto tons of readers’ All-Time Fave Heroes’ Lists – and scored 2008 RBTB Year’s Best Debut and Contemporary Awards.

But, no. Within “Trial by Fire,” Miz Davis had to go and introduce us to the many big ‘n strappin’ Firefightin’ Mens of Station Five: Tommy Skyler. Sean Tanner. Julian Salvatore.

Did I forget to mention the big-in-all-ways-including-his-IQ-and-Oh-btw-he’s-jez-a’waitin’-on-you-to-slip-into-the-skin-of-the-placeholder-who’ll-initiate-him-into-the-ways-of-amour, beta-with-a-heart-of-alpha Zack Knight?

Yeah. Virgin brainiac. You'd think I'd be jumpin' all "Can I buy you something from Tiffany, Jo?" for that gift. But the real problem with Jo Davis is her new book, "Under Fire" itself, and it's the reason I'm not planning on reading another Firefighters of Station Five book: I can't bear the disappointment.

Cause apparently at the end of every Firefighters of Station Five novel, Miz D plans to tease us with another FS5 boy so hot, he nearly obliterates the hero high we're riding from the book we've just read. And I'm not sure my heart -- or my libido -- can take it. I mean, I barely could stand the wait between "Trial by Fire" and Jo's upcoming FS5 read, the wicked fun and wildly arousing "Under Fire," starring your soon-to-be fave hero of 2009, Zack "Aw, shucks, I'm just a quick learner, is all" Knight, man o' your nerd girl dreams.

At the breaking point from months of feet-to-to-the-fire financial and emotional stress, Zack Knight isn't surprised when the woman whose van he's managed to rear-end on a rain-slicked road turns out to be the exotic dancer of his dreams, and the kind of woman not afraid to say what's on her mind. Basically, that he's an idiot.

She sings a little different tune later that day when her van's forced nearly over the side of a bridge, the vehicle teetering precariously over the icy, rain-swollen-and-rapidly rising river below. Zack and his fellow Station 5 team are called to the scene, and in reaching out to pull her to safety, Zach in effect trades his life for hers.

Sorta. But there begins the delicious, good-ol-fashioned saga of a hero who never met a perilous sitch that didn't batter him to shreds and the heroine whom he literally and figuratively charms the pretty panties off of: Cori, the lap-dancing-her-way-through-nursing-school smarty heroine who's running from a past that just happens to be directly tied to the dangerous man who's seriously threatening Zach's chance at living to see another day, let alone the possibility of his joining the ranks of straight guys over 25 who've actually made love to a woman.

"Under Fire" is a strong, hot and extremely satisfying follow-up to "Trial by Fire." I loved it and, OK, I'm gonna read anything and everything Davis writes, including the hot erom she's got coming out soon, "When Alex Was Bad."

Davis does in "Under Fire" what every great romance writer ought: She gives sexy, fun and sometimes painfully sweet love story that offers one a reason to escape from life for a few luscious hours. More than that, she gives hope. Not just that there are heroes out in the big bad world. But that, given the strength of this second in the FS5 series, the next, "Hidden Fire," is gonna be worth the ridiculous amount of pain she'll inflict making us wait for the damn thing.

So don't say I didn't warn you that you'll still be melting in the Zack afterglow when Jo stealth cold-cocks you with that big ol tease from the story of possibly misunderstood FS5 serial-lover Julian Salvatore. But you're welcome to tell anyone who'll listen -- and if they're wise, they'll listen to every delicious word you'll tell em about "Under Fire" -- that I told you to --

Buy the book.

Read an exclusive 5-Alarm excerpt from "Under Fire" here! Thanks for frontin' the copy, Jo!

What do you love about Jo's FS5 heroes?
What do you love in general about firefighter heroes and heroines?
Encore! Grazie, Jo, for the sneak peek at the hot lid of "Hidden Fire"
Click the pink 2 check out the RBTB & Friends page & more! Write Michelle @ mbuonfiglio@rbthebook.com to donate items!
Sign up in the sidebar for the NEW RBTB newsletter by 3.31 for a chance 2 win a $25 Borders card!
Authors: Wanna be a FOB? Link RBTB from your site/blog and send me your url @ mbuonfiglio@rbthebook.com. I'll link you up on the Friends of Bellas page!

Friday, March 06, 2009

Caroline Linden GuestBlog: Hail to the (Romantic-in-)Chief

From Michelle: We're always thrilled to have Bella Caroline Linden entertain us for a day at RBTB! Her much-anticipated new romance, "A View to A Kiss," is not. to. be. missed. I'm still in love with the master-of-disquise, hot-as-hades hero. I mean, I knew who he was, and I still was taken in by his masquerades for king and country. Buy the book, Bellas. And offer up Caroline your warmest "I SO don't want to think about the Lincolns in that way" Bella buongiorno...

From Caroline: Buongiorno, Bellas! So cool to be back! Since I just finished a book ("For Your Arms Only," coming in December 2009!), I suddenly find myself with free time. Well, except for all the cleaning I have to catch up on, and the books I've been dying to read for fun instead of for research, and a few (hundred) long overdue trips to the gym. But my guilty pleasure of late is definitely following the new President and his wife.

All politics aside, I—as a romance writer—am utterly charmed by the close, affectionate, romantic relationship between the Obamas. The Bushes had an affectionate air about them, but they also had that 'long married couple' look: what a HEA looks like twenty-five years down the road. The Obamas look like they get it on, regularly. (Man, I hope the Secret Service isn't reading this) I love the photo of them on the left. Look at just the left side, and then look at just the right side. He looks like he's whispering sweet nothings in her ear, but she's laughing. Is the President of the United States telling the First Lady naughty jokes?

I think this is a great thing. Why shouldn't the president set a good example for the rest of American men, remembering to buy flowers for his wife on their anniversary and making sure to kiss her frequently? We could use a Romantic-in-Chief. Happily-ever-after isn't just fiction, it's what we should all be aiming for in our relationships, and yeah, it's a darn good thing the President has that part of his life on the right track. He should be thinking about more important things than if he's going to be sleeping on the sofa, you know?

One website had a contest to see who was the hottest freshman congressman (Aaron Shock, Republican of Illinois, was the winner), and now you can vote on the hottest man in the White House. Not that these gentlemen are in the same league as the Italian footballers Michelle likes to post for the bellas, but I am clearly not the only one who is fascinated by political…er… animals.

Who's your favorite political couple, or the most attractive national/international leader? Doesn't even have to be modern--John and Abigail Adams, anyone?

AUTHORS and BELLAS: Donate an item for the high-visibility "RBTB & Friends" page in Brenda Novak's Online Auction for Diabetes! Write Michelle @ mbuonfiglio@rbthebook.com to donate!
Sign up in the sidebar for the NEW RBTB newsletter by 3.31 for a chance 2 win a $25 Borders card!
Authors: Wanna be a FOB? Link RBTB from your site/blog and send me your url @ mbuonfiglio@rbthebook.com. I'll link you up on the Friends of Bellas page!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Emily's and Michelle's D.L. On The C.C.

From Michelle: Strap on your silly sophomoric pun hats, Bellas, cause Emily Bryan's here and we're celebrating her triumph over the CC: Colon Cancer! Yup, just like we said after my last colonoscopy, Em's colon now's so clean, you could eat off of it! And we want yours to be too. So read Emily's d.l. on her c.c. and then ask your doc about testing for colorectal cancer. It's 90% curable, but'll kill more folks this year than AIDS and breast cancer combined. Please give Emily your warmest "Dress in Blue Tomorrow" Bella buongiorno... (then get the test, please)

From Emily: Buon giorno, Bellas! When I heard Michelle was doing a day for colon cancer awareness, I had to drop by. You see I’m one of the statistics. Last November, just before
Thanksgiving, I went in for a colonoscopy. I had NO SYMPTOMS, but my doctor said I “deserved” a screening. (Far be it from me to turn down something I deserve!) Anyway, they found a mass which proved to be malignant.

No one was more surprised than me. Things moved quickly and before Christmas I was in and out of the hospital, minus about a foot of my colon and all that nasty cancer. Because they caught it so early, the cancer didn’t have a chance to pack its little bags and travel, so my oncologist did not recommend chemotherapy. As with all cancers, early detection makes a life-saving difference.

Was it scary? Yes. Waiting to learn how far the cancer had advanced was surreal. The support and prayers from my family, church, friends and readers really helped me keep my attitude up.

Mark Twain said, “Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand.” I figured this included cancer. I learned to make colon jokes (Ever wonder where the saying “This too shall pass . . .” came from?)

But now I’m fully recovered from the surgery, and though I’ll be closely monitored for the next 5 years, I’m on my way to being declared cancer-free. Am I thankful for my outcome? Beyond words.

I’m also worse than a reformed smoker about trying to encourage others to schedule a screening colonoscopy. The test is really no big deal. The prep is the worst of it. For the actual procedure, they give you really good drugs, so you feel no pain and remember very little.

If you are 50 or over (younger if you have a family history of cancer like Michelle whose father died from c.c., whose mom and bro survived it, and whose other bro had most of his colon removed to avoid it) YOU too “deserve” a screening colonoscopy. Please don’t put it off. It just might save your life.

What kind of sense of humor do you and/or your family bring to health issues? How do you make sure you get regular testing like colonoscopy, mamogram, etc. (treats? threats?) Do you think romance blogs should even spend time talking about issues other than good books?

Concerns about the cost of colorectal cancer screening? Emily suggests you visit this site for info about lower-cost screening, screening clinics, etc.
Caroline Linden GuestBlogs tomorrow
with a tribute to love at 1600 PA Ave...
AUTHORS and BELLAS: Donate an item for the high-visibility "RBTB & Friends" page in Brenda Novak's Online Auction for Diabetes! Write Michelle @ mbuonfiglio@rbthebook.com to donate!
Sign up in the sidebar for the NEW RBTB newsletter by 3.31 for a chance 2 win a $25 Borders card!
Authors: Wanna be a FOB? Link RBTB from your site/blog and send me your url @ mbuonfiglio@rbthebook.com. I'll link you up on the Friends of Bellas page!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Lisa Jackson GuestBlog: Freaky Friday...

From Michelle: Lisa Jackson has lots to say, usually as funny, motivational and moving as just about anything you've heard. Today, she's got something that makes you go hmmmm....ew! Cause you just know these people are out there. Um, I mean, well, if you're one of em, then, how nice for you, and didn't your orthodontist do a lovely job on those bicuspid elongations! Please welcome our very special guest with your warmest, "I vant to dlink your...Wednesday morning double mocha latte" Bella buongiorno...

From Lisa: Well, maybe it was earlier in the week, so the Friday part isn’t as true as the freaky part. This past week I read about a guy who calls himself Vlad The Impaler and was facing charges for allegedly threatening a teenager he met on the Internet. According to the reports I read, she initially contacted him. I couldn’t believe it. This same week the paperback edition of "Lost Souls" is on the stands. It’s a book I wrote in 2007 and the bad guy calls himself, you guessed it Vlad The Impaler. Not only that but he finds his victims on the Internet or at the small college where the heroine of my story goes to school.

This is really a case of life imitating art and I find it intriguing because the accused, Jon Sharkey seems to believe he’s the real deal–one of the undead. Just like in the book.

While researching "Lost Souls," I spent a lot of time on the Internet looking up anything I could find about vampires and cults. Of course I knew of the fascination with all things paranormal and that vampires were “hot.” There were tons of books, movies and television shows on the subject. Sometimes the vampires were the bad guys, sometimes the good, sometimes both, but obviously people can’t get enough of them.

Right, Bellas? I’m sure some of you are big vampire fans. Hey, don’t we all love a good vampire story?

Anyway, I figured a lot of the deeper interest (other than just for entertainment) was from young people, who were experimenting and just loving anything dark and sexy and bloody and creepy. But the more I dug into it, the more I found that there were all sorts of places where people were hooking up, claiming to be vampires and really buying into the fantasy; a real way of life. I googled my own small town. Sure enough, I could, if I wanted, meet some of the other vamps in the neighborhood. I didn’t. In truth I never really met anyone claiming to be a vampire, so I didn’t get my interview with . . . you know.

I still believed that for the most part most of the people involved in the whole vampire thing were probably just in it for “the show” or “to be cool” or to have a few laughs. Then I read about Jon Sharkey and his arrest on felony harassment and coercion of a minor . There was also mention of a threat of bodily harm in the media accounts of his arrest.

Not so funny. Not so intriguing. In fact, pretty freaky. Whatever day of the week it is.

So, here’s a discussion question to get the conversation started: Do you believe or have you ever met someone who really believes in vampires?

Lisa's lovely photo -- credit: Sigrid Estrada

Monday, March 02, 2009

Spanky and Our Gang

Crazy cool week here at RBTB with a wicked-special GuestBlogger Wednesday! Lisa Jackson visits to dish about her new novel and some creepy/freaky goings on that make you go hmmm/ew. And Bella Caroline Linden visits Friday instead of today, cause I asked her to.

Now, usually I only mention rear nether regions when chatting bout those cute little dimples 'bove a hero's low-slung Levis. But since Friday's the first Friday in March, that can only mean it's "Dress In Blue Day." I wanna give you a heads up, cause I know "our gang" of Bellas here likes to get involved with good projects. And DIB Day is all about reminding folks about colorectal cancer and how easy it is to get screened.

Now, my dad died of this kind of cancer, my mom, oldest bro and father-in-law survived it, and another bro had most of his colon removed to avoid it. So, you can imagine that, despite wanting to make tons of jokes about it, I love you and want you to think a little about colorectal cancer screening this week.

Thursday, our pal, Bella Emily Ryan, is gonna share a few words with you about her experience surviving colorectal cancer in the past months. And I'm hoping we all wear blue Friday and that you do the super easy test next time you see your doc. Ask if it's not offered.

But it's not gonna be gloom and doom. I mean, even the more advanced test, colonoscopy, doesn't have to be a trial! Just, well, don't expect him to send flowers the next day, or anything.

And, speaking of nether regions, how do you feel about a little hanky spanky? I just finished one of the smartest eroms I've read in ages, Monica Belle's, "The Choice." Bent, breathtaking and razor sharp in wit and edge, the first-person coming-of-age confessional takes place as our heroine enters Oxford, prepping for a career in politics.

Once there, she sets her mind to taking a first and her body to taking the hottest guy on the rowing team -- repeatedly, vigorously and so that she can avoid thinking about the sensual vixen next door.

That little treat's got an older don for a lover and his speciality is whipping lovely streaks on her firm buttocks until she's begging him, "Thank you, Sir, may I have another!"

But the sensuality and emotional connectivity that develops for our fair heroine within an ensuing love triangle is nearly overshadowed -- in a good way -- by the almost painful-to-read emotional interactions she explores with the most arrogant, sexually fluid, brilliant man-about-campus who, unfortunately, also can help her build the political career she's craving.

Not for the faint of heart in oh, so many ways, that is exactly why this novel should be read and savored.

What's your tolerance level for the lovely 'spanking' trend in erom? Why do you think women enjoy the fantasy? Have you any other spanky faves?
Check out Vicki Lewis Thompson (VLT) -- the author who started me on the road to RBTB -- Tuesday 3.3 at www.RomanceVagabonds.com!
AUTHORS (Bellas, are there goods/services/gift certs you/your company might donate?): Donate an item for the high-visibility "RBTB & Friends" page in Brenda Novak's Online Auction for Diabetes! Write Michelle @ mbuonfiglio@rbthebook.com to donate! PLEASE STEP UP TO THE PLATE! Donate: Lunch/dinner w/you in your hometown area or @ RWA/RT etc,; name of character in novel; personalized books; guest blog on your site; crafts/services made/offered by you/your friends; gift cards...
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Authors: Wanna be a FOB? Link RBTB from your site/blog and send me your url @ mbuonfiglio@rbthebook.com. I'll link you up on the Friends of Bellas page!