Monday, March 29, 2010

Hey, Peeps! RBTB's On Spring Staycation! Win!

In the spring, a romance lover's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of young men.

Michelle here, and let me tell you, this chick's ready for some sunshine, flowers and naughty goins on among the characters of the great new romances lined up on my to-be-read piles. I've got them neatly stashed where folks touring our on-the-market home can't see them! Oh, not because I'm ashamed of them. But in "staging" my home, I'm attempting to give the impression my house regularly is neither unkempt nor decorated with anything but artfully displayed hard-bound novels, sans dust jackets. Makes me feel a little like those silly aristocrats in historicals who buy books by the pound to fill their libraries.

For the next week, those of us here in the pink'll be spending time relaxing, doing a little business gettin' ready for the next phase of RBTB -- register for the quickie newsletter here, please, to stay utd on deets -- reading a lot of great new romance and trying to catch those first signs that spring is here to stay. In the meantime, you can check in to say hi and WIN, 'cause one randomly chosen commenter wins a Jenny Crusie 3-Pack: Hot new reissues of "Tell Me Lies" and "Crazy for You," plus her new wild read w/ wild-man Bob Mayer, "Wild Ride."
You know the drill; have email available in comment or blogger profile to enter, please. Non-US resident w/in BookDepository delivery area chosen wins up to $10 book from BD.

Spring Housekeeping: Winner of "To Sin w/A Scoundrel" from Cara Elliott: deb. Winners of Lydia Dare books tba/notified soon. If you're waiting for another prize, please write michelle @

What says "springtime" to you like nothing else? What types of romances get you in a springtime mood? What spring releases can't you do without?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Cara Elliott GuestBlog: Those Who Can Teach, Learn

CONTEST TODAY!!! One randomly chosen commenter wins a copy of Cara Elliott's marvelous debut "To Sin With A Scoundrel!" Pls have your email address available in your comment or blogger profile to enter.

From Cara: Elliott here, feeling absolutely delighted that Michelle invited me to stop by to chat with the Bellas about books! As some of you may know, I’ve been doing a lot of talking about romance novels this spring, as fellow author Lauren Willig and I have been teaching a undergrad seminar at Yale on the Regency Historicals. (You all heard about it here first from Michelle in December)!

Well, in addition to talking, I’ve also been doing a lot of thinking, and lot of listening. To prepare for each class, Lauren and I draft up a worksheet or the book assigned, with detailed questions about characterization, plot. POV (Point of View) and style, designed to provoke student discussion. It’s been such a fascinating learning process for me to re-read books I’ve enjoyed just for “fun,” for now I have to step back and look at them from a different perspective. Analyzing the elements of a story, as well as the historical trajectory of the genre as a whole, has made me see so many new nuances of voice and style.

But even more fun has been listening to eighteen college students discuss romance novels. For two hours, they engage in a spirited debate about the elements that create a compelling book, talking about such things as what makes a great hero or heroine, how does an author ignites emotional “chemistry”, and all the ways in which love is portrayed. As you can imagine, the opinions are . . . inspiring, especially for an author like me. They are fresh, funny, original -- and sometimes unexpected. The energy and enthusiasm just lights up the room! (BTW, we meet in a wonderful wood-paneled seminar room, with fabulous stained glass windows—here’s one of them, left). I come out of class smiling, feeling that I’ve learned as much as my students.

So what about you, Bellas? What do you like about sitting around with fellow romance readers and discussing what works and doesn’t work for you in a story? In our class, we’ve had the most fun in talking about the characters. Do you like Alphas or Beta heroes? Or a mix of the two? How about heroines -- do you prefer a hellion hoyden or a lady who keeps her talents under wraps?
Make sure you jump on board the RBTB NEWs so you don't miss out on any of the upcoming new stuff happening. You'll only get the advance deets if you take part. So please join here, won't you?!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Feature Review: "His Darkest Hunger," By Juliana Stone

By Gannon Carr and PJ Ausdenmore, RBTB Correspondents

Have you ever seen a man who moves with the predatory grace of a sleek jungle cat? We’ve never been fortunate enough to see such a sight in person, but Jaxon Castille is just such a man...and a jaguar shifter to boot. PJ and I were lucky to have read a gripping debut novel this month, “His Darkest Hunger” by Juliana Stone. Jaxon has been plotting his revenge against his former lover, Libby Jamieson for three long years. When the time comes for him to pull the trigger, he realizes he can't do it without confronting her first. But when he comes face to face with Libby, he finds that she’s not the same woman he once knew.

PJ: Stone had me hooked from the first few pages of this book. I was stunned when I realized that Jaxon’s target, the person who had betrayed their anti-terrorist team and caused the death of his cousin, was his former lover. I could understand his pain and rage, his need for revenge, but my heart about stopped when he raised the gun and I realized that he was going to kill Libby...and then started again when he changed his mind -- the first time he had ever disobeyed a direct order. As you said, Gannon, Libby has changed dramatically. She’s no longer the strong, vital woman Jaxon once knew. Even more shocking is the fact that she has no idea who Jaxon is -- or who she was -- but she’s about to find out more than she could have imagined when someone tries to kill both her and Jaxon!

Gannon: Talk about starting a story off with a bang! Instead of getting rid of Libby himself, Jaxon protects her from a sniper’s bullet and realizes he’s become a target himself. Suddenly, the hunter has become the hunted. Despite the fact that Libby doesn’t remember anything about her past and she’s sick and emaciated, Jaxon is not letting her off the hook for her role in his cousin’s murder. But now they’re literally running for their lives, and the safest place for them to go is Jaxon’s compound, where he and his fellow team members can discover the identity of his attacker. But his biggest fight is controlling the attraction he still feels for Libby. And, boy, does that piss him off!

PJ: Does it ever! By this point in the story, the sexual intensity and his internal battle between hatred and desire are spiraling out of control. Add in the bad guys, who are determined to kill them all, and the action escalates to a boiling point. But that’s nothing compared to what happens when Libby begins to regain her memory!

Gannon: You said it, PJ! Once Libby’s memory kicks in, she goes from frail and damaged to kick-butt with a vengeance. If you want to know who the bad guy is -- and he’s very, very bad -- and if Libby and Jaxon get their HEA, you’ll have to --

Buy the book!

If you thought that someone you loved had betrayed you, what would make you willing to give them a second chance?
Make sure you jump on board the RBTB NEWs so you don't miss out on any of the upcoming new stuff happening. You'll only get the advance deets if you take part. So please join here, won't you?!
Tomorrow: Cara Elliott -- debut author and half of the classy Yale romance class teachin' team you read about here first -- visits RBTB to chat! Make sure to check out her "To Sin With A Scoundrel!" It's getting lots of great praise!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Feature Review: "The Officer's Girl," by Leigh Duncan

By Becke Davis, RBTB Contributing Editor

“Taken by Storm”

When my daughter moved to Orlando, I insisted she buy a camping lantern and keep plenty of bottled water on hand – not to mention duct tape to criss-cross the window glass – in preparation for all the hurricanes I felt sure she’d have to endure. Orlando is pretty far inland, and hurricanes have only come close twice in the five years she’s lived there. At nearby Cocoa Beach, her favorite spot to get sunburned, it’s a different story.

Like my daughter, Stephanie Bryant, the heroine of Leigh Duncan’s sweet-and-sultry upcoming release, “The Officer’s Girl,” is an Ohio native transplanted to Florida. Her realtor, eager for a sale, has slightly exaggerated the safety of living on a barrier island, so Stephanie mistakenly thinks she is safe when storm clouds roll in. She worked hard for the promotion that brought her to Cocoa Beach, and endured a makeover to give her a look of authority. No way is she going to let a little wind and rain make her late for her first day at her new job.

Officer Brett Lincoln is doing a final pass through town to make sure no clueless tourists try to ride out the fast-approaching hurricane when he spots a pint-sized dynamo blithely stacking moving boxes outside her ocean-front house. He insists she must evacuate, but the expensively dressed “me-me” type – who reminds him of his self-centered ex-girlfriend – cops an attitude. What choice does he have but to slap on the cuffs? The woman is hot as blazes, but the last thing Brett wants is to connect with another woman whose whole focus is her career.

Leigh Duncan gives the term “beach read” a whole new meaning when she shows us Cocoa Beach as a cozy small town and not just a spring break destination. She makes you feel the sultry Florida heat, but the story – true to the Harlequin American Romance style – is heartwarming, sexy and sweet rather than steamy and graphically erotic. Whether you read this at the beach or in your living room . . .

Buy the Book!

Watch for “The Officer’s Girl,” winner of the 2007 Golden Rose Contest for Short Contemporary Fiction, in early April, 2010. In the meantime, let’s talk cops and cuffs – why are they so hot? Are you a fan of romances where the hero wears a badge and a gun?


Make sure you jump on board the RBTB NEWs so you don't miss out on any of the upcoming new stuff happening. You'll only get the advance deets if you take part. So please join here, won't you?!


Thursday: PJ Ausdenmore and Gannon Carr invite you to join them here as these darlings from show us the mysterious, sexy side of "His Darkest Hunger," byJuliana Stone.

Friday: Cara Elliott -- debut author and half of the classy Yale romance class teachin' team you read about here first -- visits RBTB to chat! Her "To Sin With A Scoundrel" is getting lots of great praise! I've just started it, and I can see why...

Friday, March 19, 2010

Feature Review: "If You Were My Man," By Francis Ray

By Tracy Montoya, RBTB Contributing Editor

When beloved author Francis Ray first approached me to request a feature review, it was for her 2009 release, “And Mistress Makes Three.” I have to confess, her e-mail was so adorable, it kind of cracked me up. She wrote, “[The book] might have a risqué title, but the main characters are good, moral people, as are all my main characters in my romances.”

Sadly, I was in the middle of a cross-country move, and by the time I was ready to open that book, Ray had another romance ready to hit the shelves. So I ended up reading “If You Were My Man” instead, leaving my curiosity about the mistress as yet unsated. But I definitely can’t say I was disappointed – “If You Were My Man” is a beautifully written, emotion-driven page-turner, featuring a hero and heroine who feel like your best friends.

Police hostage negotiator Rafael Dunlap has a reputation among his colleagues as a ladies’ man. And true to form, when a group of officers decides to relax together at the upscale seafood restaurant Fontaine, Rafael’s wandering eye zeroes in on its elegant, accomplished owner, Nathalyia Fontaine.

Obviously relying on his devastatingly handsome looks, Rafael tries a line on her that’s just a slight improvement on, “Hey, baby, what’s your sign?” (The scene where Nathalyia takes his considerable ego down a notch had me doing a little cheer in my seat. Which happened to be on an airplane -- always embarrassing). Widowed three years earlier, Nathalyia has her hands full ensuring the continuing success of her late husband’s restaurant, and she simply doesn’t have time to waste on a Casanova-type.

But underneath that touch of swagger, Rafael is pure gentleman -- the kind who stands when a woman enters the room, plans swoon-worthy dates worthy of an episode of “The Bachelor,” and has a heroic selflessness that makes him exactly who you’d want serving and protecting you. He’s also persistent, thankfully, so Nathalyia gets to learn this firsthand. When she watches the aftermath of one of his hostage negotiations on TV, she realizes that life is too short not to take a chance on such a good man.

But Rafael has his flaws, and one threatens to derail their promising relationship. His job is dangerous, and thanks to some family-related emotional baggage, he’s determined never to put someone in the position of loving him and losing him to violence. In one of his more boneheaded moments, (sorry, guys, you know you have them), he tells Nathalyia outright that their time together isn’t forever.

Although Nathalyia decides at first that a little time with Rafael is better than none at all, she soon shifts gears after receiving a life-changing shock. Though it’s even more painful than losing her first husband, she chooses to walk away, aided by her manipulative sister, who’s always tried to sabotage Nathalyia’s happiness out of jealousy.

The question of whether these two stubborn souls will overcome their very real flaws and have their happily-ever-after kept me reading into the wee hours -- and given the guaranteed upbeat ending in romance, that’s an accomplishment indeed. I’d be hard-pressed to think of a contemporary romance author I’d pit against the divine Francis Ray.

Oh, in case you’re wondering, while Ray’s characters may be “good, moral people,” that doesn’t make them annoyingly perfect or repressed. I love that theme in Ray’s work -- steamy love scenes included – which conveys you can be a person of good character and still fully embrace your sexuality.

One thing I didn’t have room to mention was the charming subplot/secondary romance between a Fontaine waitress and bartender. Have you read a romance lately with a really good subplot? And what turns you off when it comes to subplots?
Make sure you jump on board the RBTB NEWs so you don't miss out on any of the upcoming new stuff happening. You'll only get the advance deets if you take part. So please join here, won't you?!
Monday: Becke Davis brings you the delish deets on Leigh Duncan's "The Officer's Girl." Yes. Apparently handcuffs are involved.
Thursday: PJ Ausdenmore and Gannon Carr invite you to join them here as these darlings from show us the mysterious, sexy side of "His Darkest Hunger," by Juliana Stone.
Friday: Cara Elliott -- debut author and half of the classy Yale romance class teachin' team you read about here first -- visits RBTB to chat! Her "To Sin With A Scoundrel" is getting lots of great praise! I've just started it, and I can see why...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Lydia Dare GuestBlog: 2 For 1 -- Or -- My Shocking Secret Revealed Here First!

CONTEST TODAY!!! 10 randomly chosen commenters win copies of Lydia’s “A Certain Wolfish Charm!” Pls have email in comment or avail in blogger accnt to enter.

From Lydia: Psst! Have we got a secret for you! That’s right, we said we. Allow us to introduce ourselves. I’m Lydia Dare, and well…she’s Lydia Dare too. There are two of us that make of the writing team of Lydia Dare – Jodie and Tammy or Tammy and Jodie.* (We’d hate for one of us to get top billing over the other).

Our first book, "A Certain Wolfish Charm," hits shelves April 6th. It’s set in a world that combines the elegance and refinement of Regency England with that of mysterious and secretive Lycans -- Or werewolves for you non-paranormal readers. At first glance these two worlds are vastly different, which was why it took two of us. Neither of us could have created this world without the other one.

You see, Jodie pretty much lives in the nineteenth century and can quote more truths about the Regency Era than an encyclopedia. And Tammy lives in a world where alpha-beast howl at the moon or bite their lady-love, in the most pleasurable and hottest ways of course.

But together, well, together we can combine our strengths and create something that is truly magical. At least it is for us when we write together, and we hope it’s magical for readers as well. The two of us have been friends for a few years and when we decided to embark on this quest together, neither of us was quite sure it was going to be successful. But we had nothing lose and a lot to gain.

It has been quite the journey. There is something special in having a partner to share this wonderful experience – from The Call, to the editorial notes, to the line edits, to the… ok, most of this is wonderful and some a little painful. But even in that, it’s reassuring to know that when you want to pull your hair out and cry, your writing partner is right there beside you, experiencing the same things.

Honestly, that’s about all we have in common, however. We are vastly different people with very different lives. How we are able to make this work is as much a mystery to us as it is to everyone who knows us. Yet it does somehow work. A "Certain Wolfish Charm" is only the first in our back-to-back-to-back trilogy chronicling The Westfield Wolves. And we are currently working on four more books that start up where the Westfield brothers leave off.

How about you? Have you ever thought of pairing up with a friend to create something, a bit out of each of your comfort zones? And if so, was it magical? Or a mess?

*Jodie Pearson and Tammy Falkner
Make sure you jump on board the RBTB NEWs so you don't miss out on any of the upcoming new stuff happening. You'll only get the advance deets if you take part. So please join here, won't you?!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Art Of The Sale

TODAY, Monday, March 15, I’m visiting to teach Media Kits 101!

Even if you’re not a romance author, please join us to learn about collecting/creating stuff for a media kit that helps you sell your product, whatever that might be. And I’ll give you a little perspective on how and when to use your digital- or hard-copy media kit.

The rest of the week is really wild fun! Wednesday, meet Lydia Dare, author of a wild new back2back series that begins with "A Certain Wolfish Charm." Lydia's got a double-secret-insiders-only bit of scoopy dish for you!

Friday, RBTB Contributing Editor Tracy Montoya's got another great read to start your weekend right!

In addition to this fun, I'll be enjoying more tedious hours of packing and "staging" as we put our house on the market in a little over a week. Yikers.

Now, if you've ever sold a home, you know the experience runs the gamut from ridiculously tedious to majorly frustrating. This being the third time we've in six years, we should really know the drill. But in this market, who knows what's gonna do the trick of moving a home.

Some folks say we should bury a statue of St Joseph in the yard, because it always miraculously speeds up the sale process. But nobody can quite agree the orientation at interment. Head up. Definitely. No, rather he's supposed to be buried near the For Sale sign, feet to the sky. Or is that feet facing the front door...

At least it's not like the old, old days, when folks buried a cat under the threshold for good luck. Although that would solve the problem of what to do with the ornery, 16-pound Sophia when potential buyers walk through.

One of the hardest parts about moving is culling and packing books. It seems that after a couple years, the "keepers" I thought two years earlier I needed so I could read them into my dotage, aren't as alluring. And that's sad; I want to box em' all. But that's not possible.

So I'm wondering, when you've moved, how did you decide which books to pack, and which to hand off to others? And what's your take on the St. Joe orientation? What other tricks have you heard are sure to sell a home?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Dead. Sexy.

Recently I read an historical romance* in which the still-feisty, aged heroine is telling her spirited, dear-to-her granddaughters of the adventurous life she lived, regaling them with tales from her childhood and adolescence, as well as the tumultuous story of the merry chase she led the gorgeous man who would be her forever love. And a few pages in my heart literally stuttered because I realized the author’d broken romance convention; the heroine’s a widow, and the hero of this “reminiscence” romance now is dead!

We must assume the poor guy lived a long, happy, lusty life with the lovely old gal, for she’s still full of mischief ‘n vinegar. Yet the reality is, he’s toes up when we begin the book. How do I know this? I did the unthinkable: I flipped to the end of the novel.

Now, I really liked this book. And it’s not like we watch the hero die on the page; we simply understand from the grande dame’s later comments. Yet as I mentioned, I was saddened a little that I was going to have to face in black and white what I like to avoid by reading romances.

The device of foreshadowing death of a prominent character isn’t new, it’s simply one not used all that often in romance. It’s a snazzy trick, however, and one of my favorite fiction reads, “Slammerkin,” by Emma Donoghue, uses it as well. My coronary palpitation at the realization I’d be losing a leading protag in that one added to the sense of desperation and hopelessness conveyed in the novel. Still, the burgeoning HEA addict within me – I read it before I’d begun reading romance – was really stirred.

I remember thinking at the time that using foreshadowing in that novel – as well as other devices that add to that kind of maudlin, bleak feel I absorb from a lot of popular women’s fiction – is kind of a cheap way to tug at women’s empathy genes. Pretty condescending when one considers the same criticism sometimes is lobbed at romance-fiction writing.

Some say that the death of any major lovable character in a romance breaks the reader/author HEA contract. Yet I’ve read an old-school novel in which a secondary heroine sort of euthanized her lover when he fell in battle, then killed herself, as well as a romance in which a female warrior-heroine from another novel was reported as having died with honor while in combat. I remember feeling really sad and teary, yet accepted the storytelling “as is.”

Maybe 30 years ago we didn’t need the strict HEA as much as we do today. I know I’ve been more than happy to avoid harsh life’s realities with marvelous romance during the last year’s economic craziness. Yet I’ve got to say that, while it shook me a little, I enjoyed the rattle and roll our matriarch heroine provided in the book I first told you about today.

Maybe we’re ready for a little peek at what comes after “Happily Ever”.

What novels have you read which jolted your HEA comfort zone, yet you found still worked for you? Why do you think older romances might have allowed for a little more tragedy?

*NO SPOILER ALERT: I’m not going to tell you which book I’m discussing because it’s new and I don’t want to spoil plot points. If you think you know which it is, thanks for giving the author the same consideration by not spillin'.
Make sure you jump on board the RBTB NEWs so you don't miss out on any of the upcoming new stuff happening. You'll only get the advance deets if you take part. So please join here, won't you?!

Monday, March 08, 2010

Goddess In The Machine

There are times in life to be humble, and others when one wants all the credit due one. This is one of the latter. For I think I deserve a heaping helping of, “Oh, you’re brilliant!” for having the foresight to lure Becke Davis and her extraordinary talent and incomparable enthusiasm over to the Pink Side last year.

For by association today, we at RBTB can bask in Becke’s glory since Becke this weekend was chosen as a contender for top prize in round three of NPR’s Three-Minute Fiction Contest! NPR offers listeners/viewers a photographic prompt, then asks them to submit a 600-word max short story. NPR’s book critic chooses the contenders and winners.

Becke’s story, “Deus Ex Machina” was chosen from more than 3,000 entries, and when you read it you’ll see that Jonathan Railey of the prestigious Iowa Writers’ Workshop had this to say about it

“Becke Davis' voice-driven 'Deus Ex Machina' is fun and meta-fictive. It's the literary equivalent of a basket of late night fried mozzarella cheese sticks.”

Now, we all know what cheese sticks are, and, since we’ve read Becke here awhile, you know how tasty her entertaining pieces can be. But are you goin, “Huh? Meta-whative?”

Well, just keep in mind as you read Becke’s short story, that within it her character refers to a literary device called “deus ex machina,” which is – simplistically put -- a kind of cheesy way an author ties up a sticky plot problem with an “out of the blue” character or solution. Because she uses the device later, her story then becomes a work of fiction that refers to a fiction device. That’s the “metafiction,” part, again, put really unsophisticated-like. Becke’s kind of poking fun at the idea of deus ex machina, then herself for using it.

Becke says she loves writing to prompts like the photo in this NPR contest, and recalls an 8th-grade teacher who inspired her love of this style of creative motivation. "It's like the event awhile back where the Romance Bandits wrote vignettes on," she says, "and asked people to complete them." She won that contest! And, believe it or not, Becke jammed out "Deus Ex Machina" in under an hour, thinking she was just limboing in under the deadline pole.

Becke's kind of a "Goddess in the Machine" 'round here, dropping into RBTB from out the cyberblue and helping to make things more fun along with the new RBTB team. We couldn’t be more proud of her, and are kind of bracing ourselves for when we lose her to her full-time writing career. In the meantime, we’ll look forward to more of her exceptional RBTB posts, short stories like her exclusive for RBTB, “Silver and Gold,” and to her dynamic presence here and elsewhere online.

Did I mention I discovered her?

Chat about Becke's NPR story here! Why do you love/not love the deus ex machina device? Is it ever ok to use? Like, you know, when the parish priest shows up and proves the hero's not a groom, but a duke, and the heroine's first-marriage lines weren't legal and...

Friday, March 05, 2010

Feature Review: "Before I Let You Go," By Angie Daniels

By Tracy Montoya, RBTB Contributing Editor

Get your free 2010 Kimani Hotties Calandar! 12 months of super-sexy, sensual and soulful heroes at your fingertips. Deets below.*

When it comes to books, I’m often drawn to superficialities. I’ve resisted reading romances that my friends have gone gaga over, simply because the hero on the cover has a Russian-figure-skater mullet or the heroine is the grown-up version of the class bully from my elementary school. My book club still hasn’t forgiven me for forcing them to slog their way through an interminable, 500-page funeral dirge of a novel, because when it was my turn I’d chosen a book based solely on its elegantly embossed cover art.

And when I got an envelope full of Kimani Romances this month, it was Angie Daniels’ "Before I Let You Go" that rose to the top of my to-be-reviewed pile. Why? Just LOOK at that man on the cover. Helllooooo, gorgeous.

Fortunately, Daniels is a terrific writer -- once my head cleared, I realized I actually knew this, having read her stuff before -- and the story more than lived up to the “Kimani Hottie” in the picture.

When devoted schoolteacher Kellis Saunders spends a rare night out at Wilmington, Delaware’s hottest new nightclub, Ja’Net, she’s drawn to a handsome stranger she spots walking among the crowd -- so drawn, she barely glances at the NFL football player her sister-in-law points out on the dance floor.

When the man approaches their table, Kellis is stunned to discover he’s actually her old high-school crush, Diamere Redmond, now the owner of Ja’Net. Her sister-in-law has set her up.

While “crush” might seem like a superficial word, there was nothing superficial about the way Kellis felt about Diamere. In high school, he’d been good friends with her brother, Mark, and she’d pined away for the older boy in silence for years, even after they’d all graduated and Mark had joined the military.

But Diamere had never noticed her -- until one night when Mark came home for the holidays and invited him to a family gathering. The way Diamere had looked at and flirted with her had seemed like so much more than friendship. But just a few days later, he’d announced that his girlfriend was pregnant with twins, and they were getting married. With that, Kellis firmly shut the door on her hopes for the two of them.

But now, Kellis learns that Diamere has been divorced for a year. And that fact forces her to confront old feelings that apparently have refused to die. While part of her wants desperately to prove to him that they’re meant to be, the other part is scared to death. Though he starts flirting up a storm the minute he lays eyes on her, he’s quick to point out that he doesn’t want “the emotional attachment that comes with relationships.”

Looking at his nightclub-manager lifestyle -- down to the Hooters-style uniforms on the waitresses -- Kellis has no reason to disbelieve him. He already broke her heart once -- does she really want to give him the opportunity to do it again?

Daniels has an array of strengths in her writers’ arsenal, among them her signature snappy voice, an emotion-driven conflict that sucks the reader in and love scenes so smoking, they’ll scorch your fingers as you turn the pages. If you have a pair of oven mitts handy, then stop admiring the cover and …

Buy the book.

People seem to have strong feelings about reunion romances, either loving or, in the case of a small-but-vocal minority, loathing them. How do you feel about them? I love them! And when choosing a book to read, have you ever let a great cover steer you way, way wrong?
*To score a pdf of the smokin' 2010 Kimani Hotties calendar, shoot your email addy to Toss KIMANI HOTTIES in the subject line, please.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Feature Review: "Charming the Devil," By Lois Grieman

By Amy Kennedy, RBTB Contributing Editor

My dad would often say, “Be brave and love each other.” Those words comforted me over the years, yet, today they take on a different meaning, and I wonder if he also meant, be brave enough to love each other.

Well, bravery is exactly what the hero and heroine need to find love in Lois Greiman’s warm, witty and sensual historical paranormal, “Charming the Devil,” third in her Witches of Mayfair trilogy. Rogan McBain, a former soldier and a mountain of a man, faces any danger as a natural protector, but a woman’s deception has him unsure with the fairer sex. Faye Nettles was abused by a father-figure and threatened by his giant henchman. Now she’s happy to hide in the safety of Lavender House, home of Les Chausettes, a coven of government witches.

Faye longs to be a full member of Les Chausettes, proving she can use her gift of sensing lies for good. So, when she’s asked to attend a ball to question McBain about the murder of a nobleman, she accepts the challenge. If only the thought of speaking to men didn’t paralyze her.

McBain never expects the faery-like beauty he defends from the unwanted advances of a “gentleman” to bash him in the face with a flower pot, nor to find her on his doorstep near dawn apologizing to him. While he doesn’t care she gave him a black eye, he does care that Faye’s come to him, and, wanting to see her again, he clumsily invites her to...a fox hunt.

Physically their differences are extreme, which makes it such a surprise that their personalities are alike. Now that Faye’s talking to McBain and not running from him, she hears truth rumbling from his lips, and sees the actions of a gentle, sensitive soul. McBain sees Faye’s bravery in her sticking up for those in need.

At another party, Faye’s accosted in a darkened library. As Faye tells herself it couldn’t have been McBain, she can’t stop herself from confronting him in the middle of the night. Even as she accuses him, she’s nearly undone by the sight of him in nothing but a plaid. Faye’s not sure if she’s overwhelmed or mesmerized by his size. Shaken by her appearance in his bedroom, McBain offers her only the truth: he would never harm her. But, now he’s determined to find out who did.

As their relationship deepens, and the investigation continues, each thinks the other has possibly killed. Yet neither gives a damn, at least not enough for it to stop them from falling in love, all the while knowing they can’t live a happily ever after together…if one of them is hanged for murder.

In “Charming the Devil,” Greiman wraps the reader in lush language as she makes us care deeply for Faye and McBain, then surprises us with laugh-out-loud moments. Greiman’s Witches of Mayfair series is enjoyed by historical and paranormal romance fans alike, but you won’t enjoy this love story unless you –

Buy the book.

Faye and Rogan had to overcome some deep-seated fears in order to love each other. What fears in your life were you willing to face in order to get what you wanted?

Monday, March 01, 2010

Kaki Warner GuestBlog: Best Westerns

CONTEST!!! Win a copy of "Pieces of Sky" by Kaki Warner -- check out the stellar Feature Review here -- and get contest deets below!*

From Kaki Warner: Greetings from the Northwest, Bellas! And Michelle, thanks for inviting me to visit. The topic I’d like to address today is Writing With an Accent.

How many times have you heard someone say, “I don’t read western romances.”?
Me, too. And for a long time I didn’t read them either.

Then one day --we had just moved from the sunny Southwest to the rainy Northwest -- after reading a gawd-awful western romance replete with “colorful” dialogue that was so ludicrous I almost horked up my coffee, I decided to write my own damn book and people it with characters that didn’t sound quite so stooo-pid. It wasn’t the accent that got me. It was the way the author translated the spoken word into the written word. As in, “Now whar’d thet dang cow git off’en to?”

Maybe I’d seen too many “Aw, shucks” western movies in my youth. Or maybe, being newly arrived in the Land-of-No-Sun-for-Months-at-a-Time, I was tired of being looked at with condescension and told, “you talk funny” which meant “you sound highly ignorant and possibly unrefined, and what is that thing? An umbrella?” This from a guy who stood bare-headed in forty degree drizzle wearing scruffy jeans, socks with sandals, and a T-shirt under a down vest. Where I come from, even a pig gets out of the rain, but I said nothing, not wanting to add “rude” to the list of my shortcomings. Not then, anyway.

Admit it. If you read a back cover blurb where the hero rolls a sodden toothpick from one side of his mouth to the other, grins and says, “Ah’d sure like to strap a saddle on you, purty lady,” what would you expect to see on the front cover? Forrest Gump in a Stetson, that’s what. Or even worse, Larry the Cable Guy in a lip-lock with some hapless female (hopefully not his sister).

Luckily nowadays many western romance writers have changed how they portray their characters’ dialogue. So if you’ve shied away from the genre for the same reason I did all those years ago, then it’s time to come back. There are a lot of great authors out there -- Linda Lael Miller, Jodi Thomas, La Vyrle Spencer, Catherine Anderson, etc., and I’m about to be a nearly almost semi-famous author, myself. Give us another try. You might be surprised!

What are some other characteristics of western romances that you like or dislike?
*Today's 20th new RBTB NEWs subscriber scores a copy of Kaki's stand-out debut "Pieces of Sky!" Click here to enter, and to keep up-to-date on romance-fiction fun -- and the exciting upcoming phase of RBTB.