Friday, July 31, 2009

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

CONTEST!!! One LCB scores a copy of "Goddess of the Hunt" and goodies, all courtesy of Tessa!

From Michelle: While, sadly, we never can offer you a trainwreck here at RBTB, today I encourage you to hop on board the Tessa Dare Express, the lightning-speed making of a stellar career that's happening right before our eyes. Then, when everyone else's riding on the bandwagon, you can say, "Oh, I've been reading Tessa forever..." Tessa begins a "Back2Back" GuestBlog series here at RBTB that coincides w/the releases of her Back2Backs, beginning with her spectacular debut, "Goddess of the Hunt." Please offer Tessa your warmest, "Can't I choose more than one Bachelor?" Bella buongiorno...
From Tessa: Michelle, thank you so much for inviting me back to talk about "Goddess of the Hunt!"

From the titles, to covers, to admittedly even the plots, my historical romance trilogy is fairly heroine-centered. But I am quite proud of my heroes, too. And I’m so glad to have a chance to come share each of them with the Bellas here at RBTB! Over the next few months (this is a back-to-back trilogy!) I’ll come by to give a short introduction to each hero and share an exclusive excerpt.

Today, I’m dishing about the hero of "Goddess of the Hunt":

Regency Bachelor #1: Jeremy Trescott, the Earl of Kendall.

Age: 29

Appearance: Tall, athletic and strong. Black hair, heavy brow, strong jaw, and intense, ice-blue eyes. Think Clive Owen.

Okay, now stop thinking of Clive Owen and come back to me.
I know, I know. It’s difficult.

Occupation: English lord.

Attire: Typical Regency gentleman’s sporting attire: breeches, shirt, cravat, waistcoat, topcoat or greatcoat, knee-high boots (Hessians). However, in the course of the book, Jeremy often ends up sans cravat and coat, and soaking wet. *grin*

Personality: Intelligent, jaded, aristocratic and autocratic, brooding, intense. Haunted by a childhood tragedy, but never whiny.

And Jeremy’s an alpha, through and through. "Goddess of the Hunt" takes place during an annual hunting party amongst four old friends. Jeremy’s the group’s undisputed leader. As “the responsible one”, it’s fallen to him to keep their host’s young sister, Lucy Waltham, out of trouble.

You see, Lucy’s had a crush on Toby for years, and Toby’s about to marry another girl. As she
indicates in the first scene of the book (which you can read on my website, Lucy naively plans to seduce Toby so he’ll have to marry her instead. Jeremy’s task is to keep her from carrying out her plan…but matters get complicated when he develops a serious attraction to Lucy himself. His inability to tame the headstrong hoyden has him frustrated and driven wild with lust:

Exclusive Excerpt: He tried to believe he had better, nobler reasons for keeping Lucy out of Toby’s bedchamber. Perhaps he did, somewhere, in some forgotten recess of his mind, filed under Gentleman. But a wild, savage, lust-crazed Beast was currently prowling the earth in his skin, and the idea of Lucy in any man’s bedchamber—other than his own—incited the Beast to violence.

Jeremy raised his gun to his shoulder, took aim at a distant tree stump, and fired. Chips of rotten wood exploded into the air. Henry, Toby, and Felix stopped in their tracks and stared at him as though he had burst into song. “There was a pheasant,” he said.

Three heads swiveled in unison to regard the cratered tree stump, then turned back to face him. Henry opened his mouth to speak, but Jeremy silenced him with a look.

The Look.

There were few aspects of his father’s demeanor Jeremy found worth imitating, but The
Look was one of those few. Like it or not, he had inherited his father’s ice-blue eyes and heavy brow. With a bit of practice, giving someone The Look came as easily as flexing a muscle.

The Look meant different things at different times, depending on the recipient and the
occasion. It could mean, “Hold your tongue.” It could mean, “Lift your skirts.” On one particularly memorable occasion, it had meant, “Put down the damned candlestick before you embarrass us both.”

But whatever The Look meant, it conveyed authority. The Look said, without equivocation,
I lead, and you follow. There was only one person in Jeremy’s acquaintance who remained utterly impervious to The Look. And damn, if she wasn’t leading him around by a satin ribbon.*

So that’s Jeremy, or at least the surface of him. Bellas. Have you ever been on the receiving end of The Look? And if it was the sexy kind -- and came from a pal of one of your older brothers whom you just happened to be crushing on, perhaps -- do dish the story of that flirtation! And who are your favorite alpha heroes?

Join Tessa at RBTB August 28 to meet Regency Bachelor #2 w/a shot at scoring a copy of her August release, "Surrender of a Siren!" Oh, he's hawt, lemmee tell ya...

*From "Goddess of the Hunt." Copyright Tessa Dare 2009.
What if our fave romance novel couples' love didn't make it past HEA?
Head to H2H to write a Relationship Obit...Shocking!
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.

Monday: Red Sage Secrets authors visit; Tuesday: Amy's Take; Wednesday: Amanda Grange; Thursday: Becke's Take; Friday: hmmm...

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Laura's and Santa's Best CyberPals' Mini Book Club: "Ain't She Sweet" & "Taming Of The Duke"

CONTEST!!! One LCB - or you and a cyberpal who i.d. ea other in comments -- win your choice of one of the featured book club books!

From Michelle:
LauraT won today's GuestBlog by being high bidder for it in the Brenda Novak Online Auction for Diabetes Research! Below, she and her best cyberpal, Santa (folks I've been honored to call cyberfriend) share their story -- not unlike many of our cyberfriendships -- plus hostess a mini book club for their 2 fave books of all time! Look for visits from Eloisa James and perhaps SEP who says she's dying to visit, but is going to be away from a computer today because of a story wayyy too long to go into. She wants you to know that she's got a great fondness for Sugar Beth, too. Please offer Laura and Santa your warmest, "That's what (cyber) friends are for" Bella buongiorno...
From Santa: Laura and I have known each other for about six or seven years now. We ‘met’ on the Avon board and migrated over to Squawk Radio which included, in no particular order, Eloisa James, Lisa Kleypas, Christina Dodd, Connie Brockway, Teresa Medeiros and Elizabeth Bevarly. I was going to say it was during their hay day but, truth be told, the whole experience and the friendships that were forged there was one big hay day. Laura and I quickly connected via our common interest in historical romances by some of our favorite authors Loretta Chase, Julia Quinn, Karen Hawkins - just to name a few. We migrated over to Eloisa James’ BB where we found even more friends, known as Bon Bons, who also shared a love for the romance genre. I have made so many friends via the internet community of romance readers and writers. I’ve met quite a number of them including my critique partner, J Perry Stone, and our reader friend extraordinaire, Manuelita.

The thing is Laura and I have never met. I’ve met just about everyone else from Squawk Radio and from the other blogs I frequent. We tried to get together when she came down to NYC to see Eloisa James, but it never came to be. Then she called me up out of the blue and asked if I would guest blog with her on Michelle Buonfiglio’s site and talk about the books we love.

Great, I thought. I love to talk about romance novels with people of like minds and where better to do that than Michelle’s site. We decided to chat about them in true cyberspace style while on Facebook’s Chat area. We ‘talked’ for about an hour that way sharing when we first began reading romances. Laura in 1995 while in high school and I in 2002 following the birth of my youngest. We won’t explore the whole age difference here or the fact that I was already married for nine years while Laura was in high school, lol. Choosing which books to blog about was easy for us.

Ain’t She Sweet,’ by Susan Elizabeth Phillips (SEP) is a story of redemption and reconciliation. Sugar Beth, former belle of the ball, returns to her hometown at the lowest point in her life. All she wants to do is reclaim what is rightfully hers in the form a painting. The money she would get from selling this painting would go a long way in helping someone very near and dear to her. The problem is that her high school teacher – the one she got fired -now owns her old house. Her nemesis in high school is now the center of attention of Sugar Beth’s former circle of friends. Things are not going to go easy for Sugar Beth but she’s used to that now; they haven’t gone well since she left.

However, as I said, this is a story of redemption and Sugar Beth finds that and so much more with the very people she maligned all those years ago. It’s not an easy road for her. Colin Byrne (gotta love the name) is the first one to crash through her defenses. And they forge a love that is fiery and passionate...

From Laura: It has been so great getting back in touch with Santa, and I am so excited to be here talking about romance novels with the readers who love them. I am so happy that I could pick right up with her, and jump in with a bang. Here we are all these years later blogging together on THE Michelle Bounfiglio’s site with THE Bellas! Talk about THE place for community and friendship forged from a love of reading romance novels!

"The Taming of the Duke," by Eloisa James holds a special place for Santa and I on our bookshelves. Mine even happens to have a "post it" on the title page from Eloisa that reads, “No telling the plot to the Squawkers online!!!:)” Here is what I think about her book:

By page 3 I was laughing. By page 384 I was crying. In the middle I was cheering for both Imogen and Rafe. They change and evolve so much in this book. They bring out the best in each other. What amazes me is Imogen's acceptance of who she is and what she's capable of. In Rafe I see a transformation from addict into someone who knows what he has to offer the world. When the two come together and realized what they can be together, it is perfect.

"The Taming of the Duke" has so many twists and turns, lies and loves. But the one thing that is clear from the beginning is the emphasis on relationships: friendships, siblings, lovers, haters. Every moment between the characters is spellbinding. Even the character Cristobel is worthy of having her own novel, albeit she's only in one scene—one amazing scene. That's why I love this book so much. The relationships form, matter, and make a difference. Imogen's and Rafe's friendship is so strong that the romance flows gently over them, making it unbreakable and beautiful.

This is what I can share with any reader who has ever read a romance novel that has made them drop the book and give an author a standing ovation, laughed out loud in the subway, sobbed out loud while their DH is trying to sleep, and bought a book four times because it was borrowed forever, read too much, dropped in the tub, or two copies are better than one.

***SPOILER ALERT: Spoilers Okey Dokey, just type ***SPOILERS*** at the top of your post, please!

What did you think of Sugar Beth’s and Imogen’s transformation? How important do you think the relationships made and broken are in making them into the best heroines they can be? How important are your relationships with your romance reading friends and your bulletin boards where groups like the Bellas, SEPPIES, and Bon Bons have a second and welcoming home?
Make sure to keep up on the latest in RBTB NEWs...
join the quickie newsletter in the sidebar!
Check out more hot romance from Michelle at "Heart to Heart!"

Put Your Money Where Your Duke Is

How many times have I heard you say, "Well, that Sugar Beth from Susan Elizabeth Phillips' 'Ain't She Sweet' is just the greatest heroine ever written!"? Time to put- o' shut up 'bout your embarrassingly acute store of "Ain't She Sweet" details tomorrow, July 29 during

BlogStars Laura's and Santa's Best CyberPals' Mini Book Club!

You may know Laura and Santa from romance land online. Tomorrow, the two cyberfriends talk online pals and their fave romances as they hold a mini book club.

Also being discussed? Santa's favorite, "Taming of the Duke," by FOB Eloisa James. Laura won this guest spot in the Brenda Novak Online Auction for Diabetes.

A randomly chosen commenter wins choice of either book. If you've brought a cyberpal and you're chosen (ID ea other in your comments), you each win a copy!

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Boy (Toys) of Summer

A few months ago, I rented "Bull Durham " to see if its Big 80s allure held up over time. And by allure I mean, was the chemistry between Costner and Sarandon as keen as I'd thought back in the day -- and were those Bulls really as charmingly randy as we as a nation were coming to believe was the average pro-baseball team.

I'm happy to report the image of Tim Robbins in naught but panties remains peachy keen. Yet for some women... READ ON and Chime In at H2H...

(Sign in at and Book Clubs to comment)
Bust out your copies of "Taming of the Duke" and "Ain't She Sweet" and study up -- and gather up your best blogfriends -- cause
Wednesday, July 29 is

BlogStars Laura's and Santa's Best CyberPals' Mini Book Club!

Laura won this BlogStar spot as high bidder in the Novak Auction and asked to share the spotlight with best cyberpal, Santa. You know them from your fave romance blogs...join them here for a day of chat about their 2 fave romances! A randomly chosen commenter wins choice of either book. If you've brought a cyberpal and you're chosen, you each win a copy!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Brits Call Quits On Naughty Bits

If you don't care about erotic genre fiction, then probably you won't care that yesterday marked for many of us the end of the New British Invasion. Which is to say... Read More

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Janet Mullany GuestBlog: (Wo)Men (Gladly) Behaving Badly

CONTEST TODAY!!! One randomly chosen commenter wins a copy of "A Most Lamentable Comedy" courtesy of Janet!
From Michelle:
Janet Mullany writes a kind of blended genre work: a little bit romance, a teensy bit historical fiction -- what she calls "Regency Chicklit." And she gets to call it as she sees it, 'specially after the success of her "Rules of Gentility." Today she talks about a female protagonist close to the hearts of many reader chicks. Please offer Janet your warmest "We don't need them, exactly, but men sure are perty" Bella buongiorno...
From Janet: In bocca al lupa, bellas!

Literally, it’s “into the mouth of the wolf,” the operatic (and therefore Italian) equivalent of “break a leg,” and I’m saying it because today is the day "A Most Lamentable Comedy" goes on sale. I’m thrilled to be here to celebrate with everyone (and I’m also at my usual Thursday gigs at Risky Regencies and History Hoydens). The book doesn’t have US distribution but you can buy it with free shipping worldwide from the fabulous

This book is, sort of, a sequel to "The Rules of Gentility." Sort of, because I didn’t plan a sequel, but when I realized I might have to come up with another Regency chicklit, I hastily changed the name of a bad girl in "Rules" from Mary to Caroline, a name fraught with all sorts of bad behavior, thanks to Lady Caroline Lamb (mad, bad, and dangerous to know).

Caroline first appeared in a compromising situation with the hero of "Rules," and after a bookful of Philomena’s breathless goofy innocence I felt I needed a bit of a change. Just as I made Philomena a woman of her times, so Caroline is a woman of hers. She enjoys drinking, gambling, and sex—all fine by our standards, but which makes her a Bad Girl by 1822 standards.

But she’s also blatantly on the lookout for a man to support her, something completely acceptable for 1822 but not a goal that would make a modern woman sympathetic to her. And I feel it’s very important to make a flawed heroine sympathetic. She does consider the possibilities of employment—as a governess (but her own education is patchy) or making decorative items. The trouble is that her clientele would be of the ton and she’s been ostracized for bad behavior. She’s already let one lover pay her rent. She’s on a downward spiral.

Historically, many Bad Girls ended up, well, badly. The society that glorified courtesans like Harriet Wilson or Mary Robinson turned against them as they aged and Regency laissez-faire morphed into Victorian respectability.

What Caroline needs, although she doesn’t realize it immediately, is not a husband or lover so much as a community, and that’s something she finds, and the method in which she redeems herself, in the book.

Do you like Bad Girl heroines? Who are your favorites?
Check out RWA National recap and more romance
from Michelle at Heart to Heart (H2H) @!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Get Yer'self In Hand, Man!

Hot. Wet. Men. And, oh, so very clean. How do you like your romance water play? Tell us today at H2H.

(Cole, McCarty, Canham, Lewis Thompson and Davis featured).


Janet Mullany GuestBlogs tomorrow, July 23!
I bow before no woman...but perhaps before one woman's purse. I still lust for Keira Soleore's gawjus bag, but the thing I love most bout this pic is the woman in the rear who literally rolled her eyes at me w/ disgust or something when she saw me do this in the middle of a crowded venue @ RWA National. Yes, I have my pride, but I'm a roundheel for a great sack.
Emily Bryan, you've won the copy of "Don't Tempt Me" from Loretta Chase! Please write me w/your snail mail @

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Loretta Chase GuestBlog: The Thighs Have It

CONTEST TODAY!!! One randomly chosen LCB wins a copy of "Don't Tempt Me" courtesy of Loretta!

From Michelle: A few years ago, I asked fave-of-readers-and-writers Loretta Chase why chicks dig Regencies and the peerage so much. I was certain it'd have to do w/ Americans' senses of inferiority to British class system, even tho' we spanked 'em back in the 18th C. Nope. Says Ms Chase: It's all about the breeches. Today, as Loretta takes a break from her wicked-busy schedule to visit, please offer her your warmest, "It's kinda hawt when they keep their Hessians on" Bella buongiorno...
From Loretta: Ciao, Bellas. I’m so happy to be back among you again.

Here’s my story:

In April, my good friend, historical fiction author Susan Holloway Scott and I spent a few days time-traveling in Colonial Williamsburg. One night we attended an 18th Century dance performance. A lone flute and several couples performing what looked like very calm square dancing. Lady Gaga it’s not. But Susan & I sat entranced by the candlelit room, the sound of dancing footsteps, the swish of silk, the sensual bounce of hooped petticoats, and . . . men’s legs.

Don’t know about you but I grew up thinking of our Founding Fathers as old men in wigs and weird clothes. I didn’t think deeply about what a young man might look like, up close and personal, in 18th C clothes, until I needed to do a court presentation scene for "Don’t Tempt Me." My book’s setting is the early 19th C, when hooped petticoats are horribly out of date (Grandma’s clothes!), but 18th C style is what you wear to court, like it or not.

My heroine Zoe, who’s lived in another culture, recognizes, as I did, the seductive power of the hoop. I also knew, intellectually, that a girl had to feel a charge when she saw a stunning man like the Duke of Marchmont in snug breeches and white stockings that showcased his long, muscled legs. Still, I had no idea what a tingly charge it could be until I experienced it firsthand.

So back to the dance. One interpreter, demonstrating the art of bowing, explained that the man begins by putting one leg forward--“his good leg”--IOW, the handsomer of his lower limbs. (Yes, that’s where “put your best foot forward” originated).

Suddenly, I became extremely conscious of the masculine leg in its elegant white stocking and . . . ooh, the images my mind conjured.

Madam, I show you my very handsome leg. Sir, I make alluring eyes over my fan, and sink into a curtsey, layers of hoops and petticoats and silk and satin, rustling, like whispers in the dark.

I had no trouble understanding why this was so sexy once upon a time, because it still is. Later in the trip I saw a couple of 18th C-dressed men on horseback. I nearly swooned. I swear I could see the testosterone shimmering in the air.

I’d entered another world, where men in velvet and satin and silk and lace were incredibly virile, where a bow and a curtsey before dancing could seem like a delicious invitation. Dangerous Liaisons, indeed. I’ll never look at white stockings the same way again.

What say you, Bellas? Is it delicious to you? Do you think some settings--and the attire that goes with them--are just more romantic than others? When you’re choosing what to read, what time and setting most appeal to you and why do you think that is?
Encore! "Don't Tempt Me" is featured here at "Unabashedly Bookish!"
Encore due!
Check out Loretta's "Lord of Scoundrels" reissue GuestBlog

Monday, July 20, 2009

Make Romance Today, For Tomorrow We "Chase" HEA


Buongiorno, Bellas! It's great to be back in the pink after being gone last week for RWA National in DC. Catch up on National in review here at "Heart to Heart!" Click each photo to get a story behind each pic. While it was wicked fun seeing so many of our fave romance authors and saying hi to so many FOBs, it also was really good to get back to home, fam, ungrateful cat -- and last night's 14 hours of sleep.

But before I share some doins from National, I want to let you know my take on MPG's GuestBlog last Friday, "Chamber of Love." He asked whether his proposing to me in the Altoona, PA Chamber of Commerce board room where we'd met two years before was romantic. He'd brought roses, a ring and the actual video shot for the TV news the night we'd met when he'd interviewed me for the local news.

My verdict? Like you suggested, I thought it romantic enough for me to say yes. With our senses of humor, it was completely quirky and funny, and the first thing I thought was: I love that the story of our engagement always will sound like the punchline of a joke. Plus, I liked the ring. And I loved him.

I was glad MPG offered to GuestBlog while I was at RWA National, cause it ended up being even more work than even I originally thought, but fun nonetheless. The highlight for me was this year's Bella Breakfast, an informal little gathering at the hotel restaurant. The coolest part was when everyone introduced herself, told how she came to RBTB, then shared her dream for her life or career.

Here are a few more pics from RWA. If you were there, tell us 'bout the fun stuff. If you weren't, are there some questions we might be able to
answer for you?
Encore! Want the story of Kilt Man? Click on his pic below! Click on each photo in this post to get a story behind the pic!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Exclusive Excerpt: "When Alex Was Bad," By Jo Davis

Click the pic to read this wicked-hot, adults-only excerpt from Jo Davis' upcoming erotic romance, "When Alex Was Bad!" Excerpt contains sexually explicit content that may not appeal to all viewers. Enjoy!

Read TONS of Firefighters of Station 5 (FS5) EXCLUSIVE news here!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Male Perspective Guy GuestBlog: Chamber Of Love

Buongiorno, Bellas!

The other night, as Michelle was getting ready for her annual RWA excursion, I offered to write a blog in her absence, not really knowing what I might write about. Then we remembered a conversation we had had a couple nights before, and the blog immediately took shape.

So, here it goes: I’m going to tell you how I proposed to Michelle, and then I have a really important question to ask you.

It was 1991, and Michelle and I had been dating for two years, but I knew what every guy figures out at some point along the way in his “final” relationship. She was the one, and I wanted to ask her to marry me. And so, I went about trying to figure out how to do that.

The first thing I did, and perhaps the best thing I did through this experience, was to buy the largest diamond I could afford. I had it set, and so it was time to figure exactly what I was going to say, how I was going to say it, and where.

I remember thinking a lot about the question of where. That seemed important. I thought about various venues, but in the end, it seemed most meaningful to ask her to marry me in the place where we first met. This particular place would be available, private, free of charge and climate controlled, all good things. And it would be meaningful for a number of reasons, not only because we had met there.

You see, when Michelle and I met, it was actually videotaped and broadcast on the local news that night. That’s because we met when she was Miss Pennsylvania and I was a TV news reporter working for the local station. The afternoon of our meeting, a call came into the news room where I worked. The Miss PA organization was conducting a mock interview to get the state pageant winner ready for the Miss America Pageant just a couple months away. I was a young, single guy at the time, so I raised my hand and said, “I think I can do that.”

So, I headed to the place where the mock interview would take place, also considered the de facto headquarters of the Miss Pennsylvania Pageant. It was the main conference room at the Blair County Chamber of Commerce, Altoona, PA. Now understand that lined up on the walls around that room are huge portraits of a decade’s worth of Miss PAs. Including a larger-than-life portrait of Michelle. That night, I was part of a panel asking Michelle questions as practice for the interview portion of Miss America. The TV station actually sent a news crew out to the mock interview to videotape it and report on it during the late news.

So that’s where we met and two years later, that’s where I decided to ask Michelle to marry me. Fancy restaurant? Nope. On a sail boat at sun set? Nah. In a conference room at a chamber of commerce. Yup. I had the office personnel keep the place open so we could just walk in. I even played a copy of the video tape that was shot that first night. I had some flowers for her. And I had some non-alcoholic champagne ready if she said yes. She did. We got married Thanksgiving weekend, November 28, 1992.

I look back on the proposal now and realize that I was very focused on making the event meaningful and connected to our lives as a couple. But I still wonder whether something might have been missing. So, here’s the question to which I need an HONEST response:

Do you consider my marriage proposal to Michelle “romantic?” And further more, how would you want to be proposed to? And if you are married, how do you feel about the way your husband proposed to you?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Suz Newz: Exclusive!

You so do not want to miss this exclusive news Suz just hooked me up with at RWA... Click the pic!
Male Perspective Guy GuestBlogs tomorrow, Friday, July 17! He's got a dilemma only you can solve...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Feature Review: "The Fire King," By Marjorie M. Liu

By Amy Kennedy RBTB Contributing Editor

Remember the movie Jerry Maguire? Of course you do. Renee Zellweger says to Tom Cruise, “Shut up, just shut up. You had me at ‘hello’…”

I remember thinking
wait a second you need to make him work at this. But did she? No. Because as the bigger stuff falls away, all we really want is someone to talk to. Someone who understands us.

Well, the heroine of Marjorie M. Liu’s dark, exciting, and sensually tender “The Fire King” - ninth in Liu’s Dirk & Steele series - is that sort of “someone.”

Soria knows languages - all languages – even ones she’s never heard. She’s in seclusion since the violent loss of her right arm, and the tiny fact that she’s killed someone, but the Dirk & Steele agency – a collection of paranormal private investigators - needs her mad skills. Soria agrees to communicate with our hero, Karr, because no one else can; his language hasn’t been heard in three thousand years.

Back in the day – 3000 years ago – Karr leads the chimera, mixed offspring of differing shape-shifters able to shift between combinations of each parent’s animal shape. Lots of regular shape-shifters feel threatened by the mixed breeds and war ensues. Karr tries to keep safe as many of his people as he can, and to search for those he knows are in hiding he places himself in a powerful trance. He wakes to find he’s a murderer, with no memory of the crime. Still, he must pay, asks his friend to kill him, and is left to bleed to death in his tomb.

An earthquake hits present day China, opening up part of Karr’s ancient tomb where archeologists find his so not-mummified body. A very-much-alive Karr’s captured and imprisoned. His captors? Shape-shifters. Now Karr is a stranger in a strange land and he’s pissed, until Soria has him at “hello,” and helps him escape.

Soria sees Karr’s true nature: a chimera, the son of dragon and lion shifters, yes, but also a beautiful man, whole and powerful but dependent on her ability with language. She is not a whole woman and knows someone so magnificent would never want her. On the run, Karr sees Soria as fearless. He is drawn to her, but worries about his own violent and unstable nature, and knows he should still be dead to pay for his sins.

As they seek answers – do any of his people still exist, who is behind Karr’s resurrection and who wants him dead again? They see the “whole” in the other but not themselves. Can they believe they are more than their perceived handicaps and find redemption and love?

Marjorie Liu’s deft talent allows her to write about subjects usually thought too dark for romance - prejudice, war and torture - with grace and subtlety. She weaves an adventurous, tragic tale and an achingly tender romance as her hero and heroine fall into that deep gorgeous chasm of love. You may just fall in along with them after you --

Buy the book.

Karr and Soria bring a lot of ‘baggage’ to their love: He’s a 3,000 year old possible murderer, she’s got “issues” about her missing arm… What’s the most ‘baggage’ you’d put up w/before you’d bail on a relationship? And, which two animals would you be if you were a chimera and why?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

SCOOP! Amy Kennedy Joins RBTB Team!

Read it here NOW -- Across the RWA Digital Divide: An Important Report on the Rights of Digitally Pubbed RWA Authors
and the State of My RITA Ensemble

Over the coming months, you'll be seeing some bright, cheery new faces 'round these parts as you meet RBTB's new contributing editorial staff. But today's cheery face is one who's been hangin' since RBTB was at, et al, when RBTB community hung out at closely monitored message boards. We've come a long way -- and are on to an even more exciting phase of RBTB. Yes, I know you're hoping it's the one where the new contributing editors write daily instead of me. I get it, already. Today, Bellas and Bellos, won't you please give a warm Bella buongiorno to...

Amy Kennedy, RBTB Contributing Editor, Paranormal/Blended Genre

Amy Kennedy is a library technician who spends most of her days thinking she’s a kick-butt heroine from one of her favorite books -- with a hunky slab of an alpha hero by her side. Then she remembers she’s never taken even one Taekwon Do class. So instead she combs the romance, fantasy and mystery shelves for her next favorite author. She’s spent years working with library patrons, listening to their likes and dislikes and observing preferences and trends.

Amy fell in love with romance reading Kathleen E. Woodiwiss' "The Flame and the Flower." She adores paranormal romance and can barely breathe when she sees how her favorite genres -- paranormal, mystery and historical -- are blending to form new, vibrant, hybrid romantic reads.

Amy loves telling people about great new novels, and now she’s almost verklempt to be able to share her passion at RBTB where she’s been part of the community – and Michelle’s professional assistant – since 2006. Amy’s a member of Romance Writers of America and currently is working on her first contemporary romance.

You can check out Amy's Feature Review of Marjorie M. Liu's "The Fire King," tomorrow at RBTB. It's the 9th in FOB Marjorie's Dirk and Steele series. Go ahead, giggle, cause D&S sure does sound like a team of heroes from an 80s porn flick.

What paranormal and blended-genre romances do you think Amy should 'keep an eye out' for? Who are your fave authors and books in those sub-genres? And what kind of relationship do you have w/your librarian/s -- do they get you the romance fixes you crave?
"Heart to Heart" (H2H) --'s new all-romance blog -- goes live tomorrow from
RWA national in DC! Check in to see what's news!

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Week In (P)Review

No plans to go to Romance Writers of America national conference in DC this week? That's the thing you're hearing everyone refer to as either "RWA" or "national" everywhere you go online.

Anywayz, if you're hanging in the comfort of your own home - rather than paying way too much for everything you wear, eat or sleep on so you can learn about what's hot n' now in romance -- or get your newest manuscript published -- you can come here to RBTB every day to get RWA news -- plus, TOMORROW, meet a new RBTB Contributing Editor, Wednesday, grab her take on a hot new read! Thrs I'll check in and Friday, Male Perspective Guy (MPG) GuestBlogs!

Of course, I want you to join me every day at "Heart to Heart" (H2H) at all day Wed-Sat for 3-times daily updates on RWA fun. Bookmark this URL, cause it goes LIVE Wednesday afternoon.

If you're doing RWA, be sure to check out "Online Promotion: B(u)y the Book," Friday, 11am - 12 pm in Washington 5. That's my workshop w/ Bella faves LORI FOSTER, JENNA PETERSEN and Sourcebooks' publicity dynamo DANIELLE JACKSON. ANNA CAMPBELL moderates this laid-back get-together in which we each share the simple truths about getting you and your book known to folks who do digital. GOODIES: Each of us will have fun stuff for randomly chosen folks attending.

I'm moderating Hank Phillippi Ryan's workshop, "THE SCOOP!," 3.15 - 4.15pm, Saturday, 7.18. Hank'll teach you how to use investigative reporting techniques to write the novel you've always wanted. I’ll be moderating the event, and can’t wait to see you there! GOODIES 4 AUTHORS!: Hank's offering up 2 Critiques of 50-pages of manuscript! Any genre, and you'll have detailed info and suggestions and thoughts and advice back in two weeks from this tough-but-fair editor!

The most anticipated event of national is "RWA Readers for Life” Literacy Book Signing with more than 500 participating authors, Wed 7.15, 5.30-7.30pm! The event’s raised more than $600K for literacy charities since begun in 1991. Brava, RWA! Buy books there – please, bring only 1 or 2 of your own for 'graphing – or make a donation to the event.

Check out lots of other folks blogging daily from RWA in DC at Blogging National!

Goin' to national? What are you looking forward to?
Staying home? What are you looking forward to this week?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

New All-Romance Blog To Rock!

Well, you've done it now. You're so supportive of my new romance columns at "Unabashedly Bookish," that Barnes & Noble's asked me to step out and create with them a new, ALL-ROMANCE blog! I'm absolutely honored and thrilled -- and probably will need a regularly scheduled staycation, since I'll be here at RBTB daily, too, cause I can't live w/out you.

"Heart to Heart" (H2H) debuts Wednesday, July 15, "Live" from the 2009 Romance Writers of America national conference in DC! I'll be writing 3 H2H RWA posts daily w/scoopy news, photos of goins on and whatever drive-by bits and pieces might grab the flavor of an RWA experience. Write me @ with any RWA scoops you'd like me to try to cover!

Once RWA is over, "Heart to Heart" is an everyday affair at with my regular posts, "Romantic Reads" boards moderator, Melanie, checking in weekly to let us know what's comin' up there, plus whatever fun stuff we can cook up.

I hope you'll add "Heart to Heart" (H2H) to your blogroll and help me build the community there. I've written about romance many places, but Barnes & Noble understands readers and authors and books -- and they have a great, fun attitude that's infectious. I know you'll love it -- and I know they'll love you -- as much as I do.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Saturday Morning Halestorm -- Or -- Fantasy Pole Dancer League Theme Song

Where to begin. One could point out Lizzy Hale is the hottest female voice in rock. Or that Halestorm is the best thing to come out of PA since their 1989 Miss America contestant. Oh, behave. But I prefer to think of this band and song as the inspirations for my new job-I'd-never-on-my-best-day-20-years-ago-qualified-for fantasy.

When I was young, we called em "Go-Go Dancers," and they weren't exactly respected. Now, we kinda get that in lots of cases -- certainly not all -- there's much power to be had in learning how to strip for money w/out the hassle of marriage. More power, in fact, and I'm guessing, again in some cases, a lot more fun. Least in my new favorite fantasy.

I'm reading more and more romances w/ pole-dancin' heroines. Read any? Got any faves? What's your take?
Click here to check out deets 'bout "Heart to Heart" (H2H) the new all-romance blog I'll be kicking off July 15 at RWA nationals for!
Happy World Population Day! Think a little today about the "overpopulation equation" and check out the merits of eco-condoms here.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Celeste O. Norfleet GuestBlog: T.G.I.(Still Believe)F.

From Michelle: Celeste O. Norfleet doesn't just write sexy, heartfelt romances like "Sultry Storm," (how can u not love a series called Mother Nature Matchmaker?) and September's "When It Feels So Right." She also pens down-to-earth young adult novels for Kimani's TRU line that sell like hotcakes. Please welcome Celeste this morning with your warmest "TGI (still believe in HEA) F" Bella buongiorno...
From Celeste: Hello Bellas! I’m thrilled to be here today, thanks so much for the invite. Michelle, you’re the BEST!

One upon a time there lived a young girl who listened each night as her mother read her fairy tales from around the world. She sat snuggly in her pajamas, eyes wide in wonder listening as each story unfurled. There were kings and castles, queens and fairy godmothers, princesses and of course princes. Fraught with evil and debauchery, the stories would send her on a wondrous journey to make believe lands far, far away, to places where anything was possible.

That young girl was me many, many years ago. I loved stories with happy ends. They were comforting and reassured me that everything would always be alright. Later, as a teen and young adult, I learned otherwise. Life didn’t have the happily ever after endings I loved so much. So, I put away the childhood fantasies for what I thought was the reality of life. After all, there was no such thing as happily ever after and my childhood stories were all just that, stories. College, employment, mortgage, they all impacted my take on maturity and adulthood. In other words, I grew up.

A few years later, while at home with my two young children, I picked up a romance novel and my love of happily ever after was renewed. I realized that it was never really gone. It just sort of fell asleep for a while. Later, I started writing my own happily ever after stories, but with my own touch of reality. The characters reflect the people I see and the places I’ve

Now, thanks to romance, I'm back to being that hopeful person I once was. I’m older and wiser, but still filled with the childlike dream of happily ever after. Does it really exist? I don’t know. I
do know that we each get the opportunity to find our own happily ever after. Mine was in the eyes of my Prince Charming, Charles, then later in the eyes of my children. They are my …"and she lived happily ever after."

So Bellas, here’s my question, are you ever too old for happily ever after? Have you found your …and they lived happily ever after?

Click here to check out deets 'bout "Heart to Heart" (H2H) the new all-romance blog I'll be kicking off July 15 at RWA nationals for!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Feature Review: "Prime Time," By Hank Phillippi Ryan

By BECKE DAVIS, RBTB Contributing Editor

Don’t talk to investigative reporter Charlie McNally about the prime of her life – not when her forty-something face is pulled off-camera in favor of a voice-over! It was never like this for Brenda Starr. . .

Who hasn’t wished that time would stand still, or that crow’s feet, wrinkles and sagging . . . everything, would magically disappear? When your career depends on looking young, and your savings aren’t for a rainy day – they’re for future plastic surgery – you’ve entered The Television Zone.

Television’s ode to youth is as familiar to the heroine of Hank Phillipi Ryan's "Prime Time," Charlie McNally, as the nose on Charlie's perfectly made-up face. She’s married to her job at Channel 3 and worried about being replaced by a younger woman – she’s forty-six, for God’s sake, and in television, every year is another nail in the coffin. With her job on the line and no life to speak of, Charlie stumbles upon a story that could revitalize her sagging career – if it doesn’t kill her first. Course they don’t teach in Journalism school: age and spidey-sense trump youth and shiny lip gloss every time.

In this taut, Agatha Award-winning series opener, Phillippi Ryan, an investigative reporter for Boston’s NBC affiliate, writes with the voice of experience, baiting the hook with whispers of a whistle-blowing scandal, just in time for the November sweeps. Aided by her trusty assistant, Franklin, Charlie McNally delves into a case of accidental death that may be murder, and possibly much more.

Following a lead, Charlie finds herself exchanging Shakespearean quotes with a hot – think young Gregory Peck – professor, Josh Gelston, who may be a little too eager to help. For a woman who still Googles her ex-husband in weak moments, the temptation to put her trust in a sexy man who doesn’t hide his interest – even if he is a potential suspect – is too strong to resist.

Phillippi Ryan reels us in with snappy dialogue, a memorable cast and a mystery packed with satisfying twists. Can’t get enough of Charlie? The intrepid reporter and her cleverly-named cat, Botox, will be back in “Face Time” in August, and in “Air Time,” which debuts in September. If you’re looking for something to read at the beach –

Buy the book!

What do you love about this quirky style of heroine/protagonist, and romantic suspense series? Have you entered a kind of "Television Zone" in your own life or job? How do you counteract it?
Friday: Celeste O. Norfleet GuestBlogs! Meet n greet the delightful author behind "Sultry Storms" from Kimani's hot Mother Nature Matchmaker series. She's also a talented and prolific author of young adult novels for Kimani TRU. Celeste is wondering whether romance HEAs deliver a little more than we can, well, deliver in real life? Please join us!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

SCOOP! Becke Davis Joins RBTB Team!

Over the coming months, you'll be seeing some bright, cheery new faces 'round these parts as you meet RBTB's new contributing editorial staff in various romance sub-genres. I've carefully chosen these folks not just cause they're talented, and after a while you're going to be begging them to write daily instead of me, but also because you can count on them to keep up the tone you've set at RBTB while they work both online and offline throughout the romance community. Today, Bellas and Bellos, please give a warm Bella buongiorno to...

Becke Davis, RBTB Contributing Editor Contemporaries/Romantic Suspense!

"She liked imaginary men the best”Becke Davis says that while this might be true, her love for romance novels is probably the reason she’s still happily married after nearly 40 years. She has read about a book a day for more years than she likes to think about – if it’s a mystery or romance novel, there’s a good chance she’s read it. If not, it’s in her Dangerous To-Be-Read Pile, which has spread from a couple of stacks into something out of a horror movie – it’s the kudzu of TBR piles.

Becke’s love of books led her to Barnes & Noble, where she currently moderates both Mystery and Garden book clubs at; today also marks the debut of her columns in's new Garden Variety blog! Under her real name, Becke writes garden books, articles and blogs; she has been a member of Garden Writers of America since 1994. You can view a complete list of Becke's books here.

Her alter ego is Becke Martin, a struggling writer of contemporary romance, and a member of the Ohio Valley chapter of RWA. You can follow Becke on MySpace and Facebook under this name; she’s on twitter both as Becke_Martin and Becke_Davis. (And she finds this as confusing as you do.) Her website is:

Read Becke's inaugural Feature Review tomorrow, July 8, here at RBTB! What style!

What upcoming contemporaries and romantic suspenses do you think Becke should 'keep an eye out' for? Who are your fave contemp/rom susp authors? And, how big is your TBR?