Friday, January 29, 2010

Feature Review: "Dyad Quest," By Ann Hinnenkamp

By Amy Kennedy, RBTB Contributing Editor

Band-of-brothers romances…there’s something about all those manly men living, loving, and working together to fight against a “big bad” and then felled by the love of a perfect placeholder heroine. It just makes me want to…sigh.

No wonder I delved happily into Ann Hinnenkamp’s sexy, satisfying, and sometimes zany “Dyad Quest,” second in her Dyad series. The Dyad, males, born in pairs and immortal, each choose a human partner to work with to help keep the Earth and its inhabitants safe. A Dyad pair raises their partner’s "Balance," which is like super-energized chi. The human partner runs faster, fights stronger, and lives longer.

Five hundred years ago, the Dyads recruited Aiden Rawlings as a human partner. Mired in the tragedy of losing his wife and child, Aiden joined them, vowing to never care deeply for anyone again. Now Aiden and his Dyad partners are investigating Meir Industries when they find Jude Kapfor bleeding to death on the street. A visceral reaction to the woman has him begging his Dyad to bring her back from the edge of death.

His Dyad agree, on the condition that Aiden watches over her. Suddenly, Aiden, a man of temporary and uncomplicated relationships is responsible for Jude’s safety, and her life. She’s brought to a safe house where other Dyad and their human partners live to continue her healing.

At the ‘almost moment’ of her death, Jude, ironically, wonders where this gorgeous Aiden has been all her life. Once healed -- huge surprise for Jude -- she agrees to work with the Dyad, spying for them at Meir Industries, where she’s a scientist . Jude goes back to the lab with Aiden as her live-in bodyguard, and tries to get used to living with a larger-than-life alpha protector, and an attraction to him that’s immediate, intense, and unexpected.

But snooping at Meir Industries leaves Jude in increasing danger. Aiden knows he has to be vigilant, yet feels he’s too distracted to protect her like he wants. If he’s not thinking about kissing her, he’s imagining about all the ways she can die as he lives on. Aiden’s sure a different partner can protect her better.

There’s no future for them and Jude knows it. She can’t ask Aiden to leave the Dyads – it’s who he is – and she’s a mortal woman destined to age and die. They both think to do the right thing, and let each other go. The only chance for them to be together is if the Dyad intervene.

Ann Hinnenkamp’s “Dyad Quest” is a joy to read, with laugh-out-loud moments, and hot guys fighting for justice -- and our planet; Hennenkamp shows us heroes who care about our environment are cool.

Falling in love with Aiden and the other ‘brothers,’ is easy, ‘cause not only are they sexy and good, they’re full of pranks and laughter. And is there anything sexier than a funny man? Find out when you –

Buy the book.

What’s your favorite thing about Band of Brothers books? What are some of your faves and why? And is there anything sexier than a funny man?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Feature Review: "Sweethearts' Knitting Club," By Lori Wilde

By PJ Ausdenmore and Gannon Carr, RBTB Correspondents

CONTEST TODAY!!! One randomly chosen commenter wins special-edition knitting needles plus "Sweethearts' Knitting Club!" Pls have ur email addy available in comment/blogger accnt.

Gannon and I both love a misunderstood bad boy who loses his heart to the good girl, and Jesse Calloway, the steamy hero of Lori Wilde’s new contemporary romance, “The Sweethearts’ Knitting Club,” sure revs our engines! After spending ten years behind bars for a crime he didn’t commit, Jessie returns to the small town that never trusted him and the one girl who never left his heart only to discover that she has finally accepted a marriage proposal from the town’s sheriff, who just happens to be the man Jesse believes framed him all those years ago.

Gannon: Jesse most definitely gets my motor running! And Flynn MacGregor has never forgotten Jesse and how he made her feel. But she realizes she can’t pine for him forever, so she finally says yes to Beau Trainer after ten years of turning down his proposal. No sooner is Beau’s ring on Flynn’s finger than Jesse strolls back into town. There she is, waiting tables at her family’s restaurant, Froggy’s, carrying a tray of fried catfish, hushpuppies and mashed potatoes, and in walks the bad boy who stole her heart. My heart just fell and I thought, “If she’d just waited a little longer, she could have had her true love.” I love how the line when she first realizes it’s Jesse illustrates that: The bridge of time snapped, butting her past up against her present, the future weighing heavily on her ring finger.

PJ: That pretty much says it all, doesn’t it? Flynn could be the poster child for doing what’s expected of her: caring for her younger sister and twin brothers, as well as their alcoholic father; running the family restaurant; taking her late mother’s place in the Sweethearts’ Knitting Club; even sacrificing her own dream of teaching to fulfill her mother’s dream of opening a yarn shop. Her only rebellion, her entire life, has been that brief period in her teens when she secretly spent time with Jesse. But now her family, the ladies in the knitting club, heck, the entire town expects her to marry the upstanding sheriff, not take up with the “no good ex-con.”

Gannon: Poor Flynn. Always trying to do the right thing, pleasing everyone instead of doing what she really wants. And now Jesse’s there every time she turns around, tempting her with those bad boy looks and passionate kisses. Jesse wants Flynn to break up with Beau and be with him, but he knows she has to make the decision on her own if their relationship is going to last. Will the ongoing animosity between Jesse and Beau drive Flynn away or will she finally do what she wants most and follow her heart?

I can relate to Flynn’s dilemma of being pulled in multiple directions by family obligations. As a lifelong “people pleaser,” it took me a long time to learn to put my happiness first sometimes. We women instinctively put the needs of others before our own, but if the reward was a hot guy like Jesse, putting ourselves first might be a whole lot easier.

PJ and I thoroughly enjoyed this heartwarming story of love, friendship and redemption, and the sweetness of first love. Treat yourself to a touching, curl-up-by-the-fire-with-a-cuppa read and--

Buy the Book!

Do the opinions of family and friends have an influence on the life decisions you make? Have you ever given up on a dream, job or guy because of someone else's expectations?


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Ann Herendeen GuestBlog: Darcy/Bingly Love Affair: A Truth Universally Acknowledged?

From Michelle: Ann Herendeen is delightful and intelligent and loves to talk about sexy stuff, especially the hotness that is boy-on-boy. Her groundbreaking "Phyllida and the Brotherhood of Philander" redefined for us the term Regency Alpha/Corinthian. Ann's new riff on the iconic Austen Classic is as erotic and brash as a romance that includes hot guys acting out our naughtiest English-class fantasies should be -- and the writing'll knock your socks off.Please offer Ann your warmest "And what of Knightly?" Bella buongiorno...

From Ann: Good morning, Michelle, Bellas and Bellos! It's a pleasure to be back here, chatting about my new novel, "Pride/Prejudice."

As Michelle has mentioned, many of us have long suspected that Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley were more than just good friends. When Mr. Bingley says that “if Darcy were not such a great tall fellow, in comparison with myself, I should not pay him half so much deference;” and when Mr. Darcy goes to such lengths to prevent Mr. Bingley from marrying, you have to wonder if there might be the teensiest hint of jealousy or possessiveness in their relationship.

Well, I decided the answer to all that speculation was a resounding Yes! And I wanted to see what this relationship would be like if we could read about it explicitly, not just between the lines. My first novel, "Phyllida and the Brotherhood of Philander," was a bisexual m/m/f ménage, so writing P/P came very naturally to me.

Still, I know not everybody will be as excited as I am. In the interest of sparing the sensibilities of the fans of Colin Firth and his perfect tall, dark and handsome Mr. Darcy, I imagined my bisexual Darcy as tall, handsome and—“fair.” Jane Austen didn't go in for description; all we know of Mr. Darcy's appearance is “his fine, tall person, handsome features and noble mien.” Why shouldn't he have, as I've written him, dark blond or light brown hair, gray eyes, a muscular build and a very large...intellect? Think Russell Crowe or a more sophisticated Albert Finney in Tom Jones. He's still clever and proud, still looking for that one person, man or woman, who can satisfy his greatest desire: intelligent conversation.

I see Darcy and Bingley as “married” to each other, while having passionate affairs—with their wives. These men complement each other, one dominant, one submissive, and they're comfortable together, like longtime domestic partners. But the women they eventually marry—spirited, witty Elizabeth and sweet, gentle Jane—are too much like their husbands for comfort. Like most of us, these men want both, passion and comfort. Once they've worked out their petty jealousies, I think they'll live, all four of them, as Austen implies, in an unusual, but very happy ever after.

My idea for Pride/Prejudice was to expand Austen's novel, not change it. Do you think portraying the main characters as bisexual changes the story, or, as I thought of it, simply shows us previously hidden aspects of the characters?

In the story of P/P, Jane Bennet tells Elizabeth that Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy believe that "loving" each other is different from "being in love with" a woman (their wives)--and that this allows the men to go on loving each other after marriage. Do you think this kind of distinction is or can be valid in some cases?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Feature Review: "Kismet," By Monica Burns

By Melanie Murray, RBTB Correspondent

Historicals are my romance sub-genre of choice. Big revelation, huh? I also enjoy a strong-minded heroine. This can present a bit of a challenge in my reading. If a book’s true to history, then its female characters, by virtue of when the story takes place, aren’t always in the driver’s seat of their own lives.

Nowhere is this truer than in the bedroom. And often, in romance fiction, this creates much of the conflict between the hero and heroine. How can an experienced man keep from harming an inexperienced woman?

Wouldn’t it just tickle you to read about a woman who fits the time period but is in charge when it comes to the boudoir?

That’s exactly what you get in Monica Burns’ alluring and steamy “Kismet.” Set in turn-of-the-twentieth-century Middle East, Burns’ romance pits a determined, self-sufficient lady against a man so resolute and confident and sexy that he melts her resolve. It’s great fun watching her confront the one thing she’s not used to – a challenge – and some of their scenes will linger in your memory long after you’ve closed the book.

One of the most sought-after courtesans in all London, Allegra Synnford has accrued wealth, education, and, most important, the power to pick her own lovers. In Marrakech, Morocco, for a friend’s wedding, she catches the eye of a sheikh with hypnotic eyes and a kingly bearing, a man the mere sight of whom excites her. She decides immediately to steer clear of him; if they were to spend even one night together, she knows she would be at the mercy of her own desires.

The sheikh who sets her blood on fire is known as Shaheen. An Englishman by birth, he has escaped the memories of his old life by staying among the Bedouins for fifteen years. Allegra stirs up painful thoughts; he was once burned badly by her kind. Yet he’s determined to seduce her, if only so he can get her out of his head.

The two embark on a sexually-charged game of push and pull, each overwhelmed by their attraction and burdened by their refusal to give in. Allegra is determined to not choose a man who will threaten her independence. Shaheen can’t quite get over his past long enough to contemplate a future. And complicating everything is danger of a different sort. One of Shaheen’s great enemies is ruthless, amoral, and dead-set on having Allegra for his own.

“Kismet” presents us with a classic a battle of wills between two characters unafraid to use sex as a weapon. They fight their temptation and the consequences of falling in love against an exotic, sensual background that’s beguiling and seductive. You’ll wish you were booked on the next plane to Morocco, when you

Buy the Book.

Do you like it when a heroine is as experienced in the bedroom as her male counterpart? What memorable romances can you recommend where this is part of the premise?
Please hang with us here in the pink this week, cause there's big doins with your fave RBTB teamers and authors:

Tomorrow: Ann Herendeen returns with the true story of Darcy/Bingley and "Pride/Prejudice!" Great fun to welcome her back. Feature Rev. of the read here.
Thursday: RBTB correspondents PJ and Gannon call all cyber-pals to gather as they dish Lori Wilde's "Sweetheart's Knitting Club," when you can win a cool knitting/book set.
Friday: RBTB Contrib Ed Amy Kennedy brings you the d.l. on Ann Hinnenkamp's BOB para, "Dyad Quest."

Monday, January 25, 2010

American Ingénueity

I've come up with the only plausible reason we American chicks so adore tales of the lives, lusts and loves of those precocious Peers of the Realm: Spanking. Oh, not all that Monty Pythonesque, slap-me-a-tickle-while-I wear-my-wife’s-knickers foolishness. More like the stuff that brought about the British Invasions -- and a new heroine inspired by everything good and sexy about... READ MORE, BELLAS!
Please hang with us here in the pink this week, cause there's big doin's with your fave RBTB teamers and authors:

Tomorrow: It's "Kismet," RBTB correspondent Melanie Murray sheikhs up the place with her feature of Monica Burns' new read!
Wed: Ann Herendeen returns with the true story of Darcy/Bingley and "Pride/Prejudice!" Great fun to welcome her back. Feature Rev. of the read here.
Thursday: RBTB correspondents PJ and Gannon call all cyber-pals to gather as they dish Lori Wilde's "Sweetheart's Knitting Club," when you can win a cool knitting/book set.
Friday: RBTB Contrib Ed Amy Kennedy brings you the d.l. on Ann Hinnenkamp's BOB para, "Dyad Quest."

Friday, January 22, 2010

Top 10 Reads 4 The Top Of '10

What’s a little more post-holiday debt among friends? Grab some plastic and check this out. For your first-quarter-and-then-some, must-read reading pleasure, I offer you:

Top Ten Reads for the Top o' the New Year!


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Feature Review: "Early Dawn," By Catherine Anderson

By Melanie Murray, RBTB Correspondent

Remember the opening of “Little House on the Prairie?” Laura, Mary and Carrie run carefree through fields of wheat, pigtails flying, brightly colored gingham swirling… This image always gave me a warm feeling inside. Then the show would start, and suddenly you were contending with life-threatening calamities:

Outlaws. Disease. Nellie Oleson.

Catherine Anderson’s “Early Dawn” is much in the vein of “Little House on the Prairie” in that it celebrates the resilience of those who lived in the untamed West. Anderson’s world has gunslingers and cowboys and damsels in distress, but she doesn’t glamorize it. The perils her two main characters face are very real and very deadly, and how they overcome their trials will inspire you and even give you a little burst of American pride.

Eden Paxton is on a train bound for No Name, Colorado, when she’s kidnapped by the ruthless Sebastian Gang. Intending to sell her across the border, they beat her during the day and force humiliations on her at night. After five torturous days her prayers for rescue are answered, but her savior is a mysterious stranger, a man who’s quiet and dirty and as disreputable looking as her previous captors.

Oregonian Matthew Coulter has been tracking the notorious Sebastian Gang since the day they murdered his wife. For three years he’s been alone on the trail, with only his horse and a mule named Herman for companionship. He’s sent one Sebastian brother to meet his Maker, but each time he gets close to the others circumstances get in the way. This time they come in a beautiful, red-haired, blue-eyed package, one who looks at him as if he were a criminal.

But it doesn’t take long before Eden learns how deep still waters can run. As they travel together trying to elude the Sebastians, Matthew’s caring manner and silent strength stir her desires. Though she wants more than friendship from Matthew, she can’t entirely trust a man’s touch so soon after her ordeal.

And while Eden’s spirit, beauty, and honesty begin to shake Matthew from his comfort with solitude, he has sworn to never marry again. He failed to protect his wife, and doesn’t feel worthy of another’s love.

Catherine Anderson creates a pair of characters as tough as the countryside she so lovingly describes. Matthew’s and Eden’s physical journey mirrors the emotional one they take toward each other. Anderson doesn’t whitewash the dangers they encounter, and it’s because of this that their happy ending seems so well-earned. You’ll root hard for good to triumph over evil when you --

Buy the Book.

What are your favorite Western love stories? And why do you think the setting becomes such a big part of these romances?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Things That Make Me Go Baa -or- Winners!

Offered sheepishly -- because it's taken oh, so long to get them to you -- here are the winners of recent contests during wicked fun days here at RBTB, made that way because you came to hang out with us here in the pink:

Liz Maverick’s “Crimson & Steam”
jacabur1; Cris; Bethie; mariska; Spav

Laura Kinsale
2 Grand Prizes
Linz Pickles
Jennifer M (NYC)

5 Nextra Prizes
Scorpio M; Rebekah E; Kara; Mitzi H; Eva Gale

10 Extra Prizes: “Lessons in French” Copies
LuAnn; Beth W; Princess Bumblebee; Carolyn; PG; Nunahboop; Virginia; Helen L; Jane; Amanda

Robin Kaye’s Italian-Spiced Trio
Louisa Cornell ; Pamela Keener

Steph Tyler’s “Hard to Hold”: Pat L

Michelle’s Love Day
$75 Nordstrom Card: DiamondM
$50 Nordstrom Card: Playground Monitor
$25 BN Card: Pat Cochran
$15 BN Card: Rekaya Gibson

Winter Staycation $25 BN Card: suehussein

Congratulazione to all! We'll be contacting you soon! And we're looking forward to lots more RBTB fun with you like:

TOMORROW: RBTB Correspondent Melanie Murray brings you a big scoop of fan-fave Catherine Anderson's "Early Dawn!" -- and -- Look for Ann Herendeen ("Pride/Prejudice") Jan 27, and PJ's and Gannon's chicks' take column, Jan 28!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Reading the Story of Haiti

I’ve wondered whether to a Haitian, the loss of a manuscript or collection of novels or children’s primers means anything next to losing one’s home, kids, lover or parents. Yet when I saw a photo this morning of a young girl reading amidst the rubble, it occurred to me that I’m probably naïve in assuming a reader wouldn’t think about escaping into a book during the most dramatic, horrific experience of her life. READ MORE...

Please click on article for news of writers in Haiti and list of vetted aid organizations.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Steph Tyler GuestBlog: 2 Good (Not) 2 B True

CONTEST!!! One LCB (Lucky Commenting Bella) wins a copy of "Hard to Hold," book one in Steph's hot new Navy SEALs back2back trilogy! Pls have your email avlbl in comment/blogger profile to enter. Winner randmly chsn.

From Michelle: Happy to have Stephanie Tyler back in the pink, not just because we loves her, but because her books -- including her alter ego Sydney Croft's hotties -- are just marv. Her new Navy SEAL rom susp trilogy is not 2B missed. "Too Hot to Hold" is out now." Please welcome Steph w/your fondest, "He exists if I say so" Bella buongiorno...
From Steph: Hello, Michelle, and thank you for having me today at RBTB! And a special shout out to the Bellas!

Today, I’m talking characters. I fall for mine all the time – I have to or else I can’t write about them. I fall for other writer’s characters too (can we say Sam from Brockmann’s Troubleshooters? Hello, the man had me from the first curse word he uttered! And although he scares me a little, Tig from Sons of Anarchy is another character I adore.)

My Navy SEAL trilogy, Hard to Hold, Too Hot to Hold, and Hold on Tight, centers around three brothers by adoption and the close-knit bonds formed over years of friendship and tough pasts. One of the heroes, Chris Waldron, begins his story in book 2 and it continues in book 3, which comes out Jan 26th.

I love all of my heroes, but man, Chris was just a blast to write about. The man sings whenever he can – loudly – and he delivers babies. And he’s a sniper. And he’s psychic. I mean really, he’s just damned fun, you know? And I’ve been talking about all the brothers on my blog for a while now, explaining how they’d come visit and tell me their stories, so readers got to know them long before they began to read their books.

Anyway, in the space of two months, three different women emailed me to ask if I had any information on Chris Waldron – where could I find him, did I have his phone number?

Um, well, he’s real to me, but he kind of only exists inside my mind, I told them.

They all wrote back and told me a similar story – they’d all met Chris Waldron – he was Cajun, from Louisiana, was in the Navy. He was superstitious. They even mentioned his height and his different colored eyes. They’d all dated him.

And they all wanted him back. Badly. They didn’t believe me when I told them I didn’t have any way to get in touch with him.

I mean, I could get in touch with him, but not exactly in the way they wanted. But with my trilogy, now the wait is over. All of you can have your own little piece of Chris Waldron.

So when I tell people that I feel like I channel characters rather than creating them, I often tell them this story. This usually think I’m a little crazy anyway, which is okay, because it’s the good kind of crazy that makes my job a whole lot of fun.

So tell me – what makes a memorable character for you? Is he tortured and angsty? Is he just a little bit crazy? Any character instantly spring to mind?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Publishing 2010: The Hard-Core Facts

Thousands of publishing industry jobs were lost in 2009. In 2010, CEOs to mail-room workers worry how e-publishing and declining sales will affect their employment. Yet pub-industry workers seem to be overlooking the simple solution to reducing bottom-line stress, and I’ve got the no-brainer solution to the problem. READ MORE, BELLAS!

TOMORROW: Steph Tyler GuestBlogs to dish heroes w/character -- and her characters that readers won't accept aren't really "real!" Drop by for a shot at a copy of "Hard to Hold," book 1 in her new Navy Seals back2back. "Too Hot to Hold" is great, and out now!

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Bi, Bi, Mr. Darcy. Hullo, Pride/Prejudice!

It is a truth universally acknowledged that an erotic romance reader in possession of a Jane Austen passion must be in want of a riff on Austen’s most popular novel that a) doesn’t include characters succumbing to putrefaction; b) doesn’t make them think of treacly pop-music movie soundtracks; and c) spins out the rest of the sexually fluid story they already suspected – with delight – is behind the seemingly enmeshed relationship between Misters Darcy and Bingley.

How did I miss this?! I mean, I like to fantasize about romance heroes kissing as much as the next girl. But as a student of literature, I... READ MORE, BELLAS ...of the FIRST LOOK at our friend, Ann Herendeen's "authentically voiced, delightfully genteel and fabulously dirty/brash" take on the P&P she promised us back in '06!

Friday, January 08, 2010

Robin Kaye GuestBlog: The Nice Italian (Bad) Boy's Guide To Breakfast In Bed

CONTEST!!! Molto Bene! 2 randomly chosen lucky commenting Bellas (LCBs) each win a set of Robin’s Italian-spiced trio "Romeo, Romeo," "Too Hot to Handle" and "Breakfast in Bed! Pls have your email in comment or blogger profile to enter. Grazie!

From Michelle: If you've spent any time round this joint, you know the place has a little Italian flavor to it, and in 2008, RWA Golden Heart winner Robin Kaye's "Romeo, Romeo" won the first Year's Best Contemporary ItRom (ITalian-themed ROMance). Today, Robin introduces us to a nice Italian (bad) boy who can sweet-talk his way into just about any woman's -- kitchen? Please offer Robin your warmest "TGIFlippin-hot Italian Hero Day" Bella buongiorno...
From Robin: Ciao, Bellas! Buon anno! Or as my Grandfather would say in broken English “Hoppin-you-ass!” (You have to say it fast to get the full effect.)

As you can probably guess, I’m Italian. All my books, "Romeo, Romeo," "Too Hot to Handle," and my latest release, "Breakfast in Bed" take place in Brooklyn, New York, and a majority of my characters are Italian. I took the old adage "write what you know" literally.

Believe me when I say I know Italian men like my hero in Breakfast in Bed, Rich Ronaldi. Growing up Italian for him meant that while his sisters were busy learning to cook and clean, Rich was treated like the second coming, or was getting into trouble. Over the years, he’s cleaned up his act—in a matter of speaking. He stopped getting arrested and now has three post-secondary degrees and is a psychology professor at an Ivy League college; too bad he’s still a Domestic Dud.

Rich is pressured by his boss to settle down and then dumped by his girlfriend for not being marriage material on the same day. He decides it’s time he learns the fine art of becoming a Domestic God to win back his girlfriend and secure his job. After all, a man can only expect his mother to do his laundry, clean his apartment, and cook his meals for only so long.

So how does a man go from Domestic Dud to Domestic Stud? He enlists the help or blackmails (depending upon how you look at it) his sister's best friend Becca Larsen to be his coach.

What would you do if you were Becca Larsen and due to no fault of your own, found yourself stuck living with a man you don't like? Sure Rich looks like the Italian version of a Greek God, but he comes complete with cocky attitude, a killer smile, and absolutely no idea how to do anything but teach psychology and charm the panties off women. The answer is simple; you have fun watching the show while he learns the ins and outs of cleaning and housework. The best part is you don't have to do any of it yourself. You get to supervise.

And tell me ladies, what is sexier than a man scrubbing the bathroom? If that man looks like Rich Ronaldi—not much.

So if you were training your very own Domestic God,
what would you put on his to do list?
This week's contest winners w/be announced Monday! Thanks for your patience. :)

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Laura Kinsale GuestBlog: Revenge Of The Non-Kick-Ass Heroine

CONTEST TODAY!!! Begin your "Lessons in French" (LIF)with a shot at 17 Extraordinary Prizes from Sourcebooks!: 2 Grands of LIF + Laura's Current Sourcebook Library + ARC of her May re-issue + Godiva chocolates! 5 Nextra prizes: Laura's Sourcebooks 'brary: "Lessons in French," "Seize the Fire," "Midsummer Moon," "Prince of Midnight"; 10 Extra Prizes: Copy of "Lessons in French!" Pls. have your email addy in your comment to enter.

***Please check out Michelle's EXCLUSIVE pre-release feature on "Lessons in French" here! You won't find one anywhere else!***

From Michelle: Out of the many special moments and delightful times we've shared here in the pink, it's one of my greatest honors to join you in offering Laura Kinsale our warmest, most welcoming "What's a nice heroine like you doing in a place like this?" Bella buongiornos...

From Laura:

It was the zombies that alerted me.

Female cops, spies, witches, vampires, werewolves, demons, demi-gods…they’re as common lately as dukes in the Regency. But if we’ve come to Lizzie Bennet hurling nunchucks, which it seems that we have, I’m forced to issue a strong warning regarding my upcoming historical romance, "Lessons in French":

Do Not Open This Book Unprepared.

The heroine is not kick-ass.

You won’t be whirled into a battle for your life in the first three paragraphs. Callie is shy. She’d far prefer to feed a bottle to an orphan calf than make conversation with a gentleman. (Gentlemen and the undead would be pretty much equally menacing in Callie’s view.) She is plain. She has no special hidden powers. She’s been jilted three times, and she took it deeply to heart. What's more, she doesn't open her own business in response, or decide to make herself the most notorious female in London. Her greatest desire is to win the silver cup at the agricultural fair with her prize bull, Hubert. She’s sure of success there, at least—until her cousin gambles away Hubert just before the fair.

All the ass-kicking in "Lessons in French" is provided by the elegant Trevelyan d’Augustin, son of aristocratic but impoverished French émigrés. It only gets him in trouble, but he’s very much in the mood for trouble when he returns from a mysterious nine-year absence to find his beloved mother dying and Callie being courted by a cad. Trev just might be to blame for this situation himself, but that doesn’t stop him from doing everything in his power to protect Callie, even if his methods are as illicit and unconventional as they ever were. When Callie finds the constable pounding on the door and her bull stuck in the kitchen, she can be reasonably sure who’s responsible.

Callie may not be fierce, but she’s reliable. When you can't depend on your ninja skills or your corporate power plays, you have to find another sort of courage, the kind that comes from the heart. Sometimes carrots work when nunchucks and plastic explosives are useless. Callie is kind. She has a sense of humor. She cares for her animals and her village and her sister. Trev not only loves her--he actually likes her.

This sort of heroine seems to be an endangered species lately. Maybe the zombies got them. But there’s one alive and well in "Lessons in French," and she saves the hero’s neck in the end without a sword drawn or a kick boxed.

So what’s the Revenge of the Non-Kick-Ass Heroine? That she’ll make you giggle, and experience that little warm glow, that inner smile when you close a book—you’ll feel a bit better about the world, and the people in it...and maybe even yourself.


PS - I do enjoy a good barbaric heroine myself, mind you. My favorite swordswoman, the first red-haired she-devil in swimsuit armor, mother of all to come, was created in 1934 smack-dab in the male dominion of sword and sorcery by an author with the initials C.L. Moore. If you think she’s Red Sonja, think again!

Non-kick-ass heroine fans: Why do you like them? What are the ways you think heroines can be strong? What kinds of heroines do you prefer to read about -- or would you most like to be like in real life?

"Lessons in French" is available in stores Jan. 26!
Join RBTB News in the sidebar for quickie bits on what's hot in romance -- and don't-wanna'-miss features, columns and interviews from the RBTB team!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

4th Annual Show Michelle The Love Day (For Swank Swag)

It occurs to me that, what with all the talk about great romances and sex and pretty young boys here in the pink, there simply never is enough time to remind ourselves of all the wonders that is me.

So once I year to celebrate my birthday, I like to take a break from my continued and meteoric rise to mediocrity and give you a chance to reflect on all the things you love about Michelle Buonfiglio. Hence, I welcome you to our 4th Annual Love Day, in which I encourage you simply to offer in the comment boxes below flattering comments to me and about me in exchange for a shot at prizes.

Feel free to praise me in any form: poem, haiku, limerick, romance plot involving my life story, etc… And remember our motto: All praise welcome, the more outrageous the better, and feel free force it, feign it or create it from fantastic whole cloth.

Since our first Love Day, I’ve tried to offer you prizes of my favorite things. This year, I’d like to share with you love that includes some from my most special place: Nordstrom.

Grand Prize: $75 Nordstrom Card
1st Prize: $50 Nordstrom Card

2nd Prize: $25 Barnes & Noble Card

3rd Prize: $15 Barnes & Noble Card
(Non-US residents may rec've alternate prizes)

Please make sure your email addy’s available in your comment box or profile to enter the contest!

Let the Love begin! And please, don’t thank me. Just go forth filled with all the beauty of having been touched by my life for one day.
TOMMOROW: LAURA KINSALE GuestBlogs at RBTB, kicking off her "Lessons in French" cyber tour! Guaranteed you will not expect what she has to reveal about her eagerly awaited new novel or the current state of romance!

Monday, January 04, 2010

Liz Maverick GuestBlog: Once In A Blue Moon

CONTEST TODAY!!! 5 Randomly chosen commenters each win a copy of "Crimson & Steam!" Please have your email addy available in comment or blogger accnt. And Please Join Michelle Tomorrow!*

From Michelle:
Have we ever got a ab fab kick-off 4 2010! Liz Maverick's here today because she generously "won" a high bid in the 2009 Brenda Novak Online Auction for Diabetes Research. But Liz would have ended up here in the pink anyway, since I can't seem to keep quiet about her wicked hip and hot new romance, "Crimson & Steam." There's just no reason not to place scoring it at the top of your To Do in '10 list. So please offer Liz your lustiest "Ring in the New" Bella buongiorno...

From Liz: Happy New Year, Bellas! Resolutions tend to be rather specific things like a promise to lose weight, a pledge to go out more and finally meet that someone or a vow to be a better person in some specific way. As I wrote in my newsletter earlier this week, I used to make plenty of resolutions. Then it dawned on me that I was not actually getting progressively richer or skinnier—nor was I becoming imbued with a greater sense of inner peace as planned.

I still make a few token resolutions just to make sure I clean my apartment, floss and ingest enough Omega-3s during the year. But I now prefer to think of New Years as a reminder to take a really deep breath. The clicking sound coming from one of those old analog clocks with the black-on-white numbers as it flips at midnight is a sweet sound, indeed. It’s as if the whole world agrees on something for a second in time—fresh start, anything is possible,
something good is going to happen and we’ve turned the corner. That sometimes life is hard—maybe this last year was particularly hard for a lot of people—but we still have optimism in our hearts, and we still believe that good things are ahead of us.

If you think about it, New Years sort of like Thanksgiving crossed with a tarot card reading about the future, but with fancier cocktails and the potential for making out with a really hot guy. And if Thanksgiving is about appreciating what is already right in front of you, New Years is about opening your eyes to what you can set into motion and bring to the front.

I’m a big believer in reinvention, grand adventures and giving oneself permission to do out of the ordinary things, and this happens to be a Blue Moon New Year. The phrase “once in a blue moon” suggests a rare event. So more than ever, this is the time to do something extraordinary and step out of your comfort zone—whether it takes a phone call, a couple of steps outside your door or a long plane ride.

"Crimson & Steam" is actually the result of just such a reinvention. It’s a hybrid book, an “out-of-the-box” book, as they call it. It combines romance, paranormal, futuristic, and steampunk historical elements. In short, it’s not normal. None of the books in the Crimson
City series are normal, LOL. And at the time that I conceived the idea for the series, it felt exciting, of course, but risky and scary too. Fast forward several years, and it was the best decision I could have made. I truly love writing hybrid books. It allows me to experiment with all kinds of subgenres, and I think my writing is better for it.

"Crimson & Steam" ties up the series nicely—but also establishes an amazing new path I could take to continue the series. It’s funny to look back now and remember that Crimson City was way out of my comfort zone and a huge risk. It reminds me how important it is to take that big breath—and then take that big chance, because it so often leads to wonderful things

I hope this is a true Blue Moon year for all of you. Happy New Year!

Did this New Years feel different to you from years before? Did you make resolutions? Did you breathe a sigh of relief that we could put the 00’s to bed or were you sorry to see the year end?
*TOMORROW: Swap flattery for swag during the
4th Annual Show Michelle the Love Day!
All forms of praise -- faint, forced and flat-out fictional -- get you a shot at prizes, and help you celebrate Michelle's birthday.

WEDNESDAY: Michelle shows YOU the love by bringing you
Laura Kinsale in the kick off to Laura's "Lessons in French" cyber tour! Meet Laura. Worship Laura. Check out her hot-button topic!