Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Feature Review: "Running Scared," By Shannon K. Butcher

By Amy Kennedy, RBTB Contributing Editor

I like tough guys in romances, big strong men who handle any situation or danger. I especially like it when the big guy falls for the heroine, and it undoes him; not so tough now. But I’m thinking I might like best of all a hero who literally can’t live without her. Kind of ups the tension, and as a placeholder, his need gives me a nice sense of power.

In her gutsy, intense and arousing “Running Scared,” Shannon K. Butcher gifts us with Sentinels, a plethora of hard-edged heroes who guard humanity against the Synestryn, monsters who see humans as cattle. Yet these tough guys’ lives hinge on the love of the right woman; each warrior must find a compatible woman in whom the Sentinal can channel his building energy, a force that transforms into his woman’s magic. If a Sentinel fails to find his woman soon enough, his soul dies.

Sentinel warrior Zach’s been chasing after Lexi Jordan for what seems like forever and, when he finally catches her, she feels to him like the beginning of his salvation. Now all he has to do is convince her he’s not a monster and they’re meant to be together. No easy task, considering she was reared by a mother who taught Lexi the Sentinels were the bad guys. Lexi’s been running from them since she was a little girl.

When the Sentinels kidnap her best friend, Lexi needs a plan, and thanks to the Defenders -- a group of humans out to destroy the Sentinels -- she gets one. She tricks Zach into thinking she’s in trouble, knowing he’ll find her and take her to his compound to brainwash her so she’ll stay with him. But once Lexi’s at the compound, she plans to rescue her friend and blow the place to hell with explosives the Defenders gave her.

It’s a perfect plan – except for her nearly uncontrollable desire for Zach, his unconditional kindness and his willingness to protect her against the Synestryn. Lexi sees the good in Zach, and she wonders: If she’s been wrong about him, might she be wrong about all Sentinals? Doubting everything her mother taught her,, Lexi’s on the brink of fully trusting Zach when he finds out about her plan.

In Lexi, Butcher takes a possibly unsympathetic character and gives us a glimpse of how a person might be good while thinking wrong-minded thoughts. And Butcher’s secondary, ongoing story arcs add intrigue; Butcher hints at coming storylines just enough to make us do happy dances while waiting for – and hoping – the next book in the series is about our new favorite couple. Do your own happy dance after you –

Buy the book.

It’s not always easy liking the “before” Lexi, but we know she’ll come around to the side of Zach and the Sentinels. Who’s the character you loved to hate, and then loved for real?
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?!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Sunday Morning Don't-Forget-To-Daydream Video

VH1 TV Shows Music Videos Celebrity Photos News & Gossip

Dianne Castell Winners: chelleyreads; soft fuzzy sweater; lois

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Feature Review: "Hot Southern Nights," By Dianne Castell

By Becke Davis, RBTB Contributing Editor

Dianne's giving 3 lucky, randomly chosen commenters win copies of her sexy, funny new read, "Hot Southern Nights!" Please have your email addy in your comment or blogger profile to enter.

“Mayhem and Magnolias”

Take it from me, it takes more than being born below the Mason-Dixon Line to make you a Southerner. I was born where the local speech is slow as molasses, but I grew up a fast-talking Yank. What I know of the South, I’ve mainly learned from books. Some authors bring the South to life so clearly I can taste the salt spray from the ocean, smell the magnolias and feel the sweat on my brow. After reading a couple of Dianne Castell’s books, like her I find myself wanting to say, “Butter my butt and call me a biscuit," and "Y’all can call me 'Miss Becke,'” too.

In Castell's new "Hot Southern Nights," Librarian Churchill McKenzie is Southern as sweet tea, but she’s no Scarlett O’Hara; she’s a good girl, or she tries to be. Is it her fault things go wrong whenever she tries to do right? Taking on the New Jersey mob was the right thing to do, because it led her back home to Savannah. And it was right to label Cal Davis a thief after she caught him running from the church where thousands of dollars were missing. But sending Cal to prison for three years was all wrong, and she intends to put that right once and for all. If only Cal weren’t so blamed stubborn, insisting she leave it alone now that he’s free.

Ex-con Cal Davis knows he’ll never be good enough for Churchill McKenzie, who’s smart as a whip and Savannah’s sweetheart to boot. It was pure luck he’d had one amazing night with her, burning up the backseat of his ’67 Mustang with their bare behinds. He tries to leave Churchill alone, but the woman is a magnet for trouble – she might have sent him to jail, but now she’s intent on proving his innocence. If she succeeds, she’ll put herself in danger and the three years he served will all be for nothing.

Dianne Castell’s “Hot Summer Nights” will make you crave moon pies and martinis, two olives, as she spins a honeyed tale of a mismatched couple whose road to romance is paved with mystery, mayhem and a mutual attraction that just won’t quit. A secondary romance offers a riotous primer on How to Be Southern and features a bathroom scene that will make you cry – with laughter. She surrounds Cal and Churchill with a cast of lovably quirky friends and family, a sort of Walton’s Mountain-comes-to-Savannah. “Hot Summer Nights” comes out in early May, but you can read Dianne’s “Hot and Irresistible” while you’re waiting for it. I’m not just whistling “Dixie” when I say you should --

Buy the Book!

Just what is it that makes the South sizzle? Is it the heat that makes roses smell so sweet? The slow, sultry way the natives speak? What about you – are you a Southern belle at heart?
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, April 19, 2010

Nutty Buddy

Later this week, learn all 'bout Friend of Bella -- and one of the most lovely, genuine people I know -- Dianne Castell's sexy/zany new read, "Hot Summer Nights." Becke Davis tells why you'll love the unlikely hero.

But in the meantime, I want to remind you that the Lori Foster-Dianne Castell Reader and Author Get Together is just around the corner, June 4 - 6! This is literally THE -- and I rarely write all caps, Bellas -- conference I'd go to if I only could choose one to spend my hard-earned cash on. Plus, proceeds from awesome basket raffles this year benefit One Way Farm home for abused and abandoned children.

Readers, you'll meet tons of top authors, your online cyberpals and make new reader friends in an atmosphere that's fun enough to make it worth the trip away from home -- yet intimate enough that you get to spend serious elbow-rubbin' time with your faves. And authors can set up sit-downs with top agents and editors, as well as meet an incredibly eager and respectful bunch of readers.

Check out cool vid action with readers and authors at last year's Get Together -- and Stella Cameron giving a book pitch to HQN editor Margo Lipschultz! -- here. But below's a little piece with Dianne in which she gives the inside scoop on what it's like to be best pals with Lori Foster. It's exactly the kind of convo you might end up having with her if you attend the Foster/Castell Get Together June. She's kind of a nut. But in a really, really good way.

Finally! The winners of the Lydia Dare "A Certain Wolfish Charm" Contest are: Catherine Gayle; Shoshana;Eva S; Nicole Z; Drew s; Amanda; Carol L; Gladysmp; Jedisakora; DianaO-E ! Congratulazione, Bellas! Thanks for your patience. You're being contacted for your snail mails now.
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?!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Feature Review: "She's the One," By Kate Stockham

By Becke Davis, RBTB Contributing Editor

"Size Matters"

Did you know Alaska is the largest state in the nation – twice the size of Texas? It contains twenty-nine volcanos, 100,000 glaciers, 33,904 miles of coastline and its capital, Juneau, can only be reached by air or sea. Alaska has the tallest peak in North America and has the eastern, western, northern most points in the U.S. Everything about the 49th state, once called “Seward’s Folly,” is larger than life and everyone I know who’s been there talks about its majestic beauty in capital letters and exclamation points.

In Kay Stockham’s lyrical ode to the Alaskan wilderness, “She’s the One,” Alexandra Tulane is far from her Tennessee home – and that’s the way she likes it. Her photography work is a good disguise for her secret life as a travel writer, and she’s well prepared for anything Alaska has to offer. What she’s not prepared for is Dylan Bower, a handsome bush pilot hiding behind a Grizzly Adams-type beard; a guy whose wounds make him distrust everything about her. Sparks fly whenever they’re together, but Dylan won’t leave his solitary home and Alex can’t stay.

Dylan’s heart has been encased in ice until Alex’s warmth begins to thaw him, but he can’t let his feelings guide him. Others rely on Dylan – his father is recovering from a heart attack and his young son, Colt, is fragile and withdrawn. He has his own reasons for escaping from the world, reasons he’s not ready to share, no matter how strongly Alex tempts him.

Kay Stockham will have you grinning before the end of page one, chuckling as her heroine later “pokes the bear,” and by the time you’re halfway through the book you’ll be planning an Alaskan vacation. “She’s the One” is a love affair on two levels – it’s a romance between a self-sufficient heroine with wanderlust and an outdoorsman hero who gives so much he doesn’t know how to take what he wants. But it’s also a love affair with a simple way of life that’s lost to most of us. If you read for escape, you’ll get double your money when you --

Buy the Book!

What is it about those huntin’ and fishin’ outdoorsmen that appeals to us, even though they seem able to survive perfectly well without women in their life? Or is that the attraction – the challenge they offer in both romance and real life?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Miss Information

Oh, it’s lovely to be back from Spring Staycation! And what better way to return after two weeks of frolicking among daffodils and gnawing the heads off tiny marshmallow peeps than to celebrate National Organ/Tissue Donor Awareness Month or, as I and others who cherish every extra moment we live and breathe because someone else had the courage to front us some organ or tissue like to call it:

National Donate Life Month.

A year before the pic on the left of my oldest brother and I was taken at the 1990 Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City, I wasn't thinking swimsuit competitions and scholarship. In Sept '88, Stan and I were seven months out from the day he gave up one of his kidneys so I wouldn't die, so I could live, finish college, fall in love and marry, one day give birth, stumble across romance novels...mostly, so I simply had a chance to survive past my early 20s.

Compared to "the gift of life," the fact that a year after my kidney transplant I ended up winning Miss PA, earning Top 10
honors at Miss A (See video below), scored more than $20,000 in scholarship to finish the degree waylaid by kidney disease, got NY Times praise on my talent-competition aria (photo, right) and wore the crown may seem fairly incidental. That I my year-of-service as Miss PA allowed me to travel the country spreading the gospel of organ donation and transplantation is not.

For in doing that as Miss PA and for the next couple years as a "celebrity professional patient" and motivational speaker, I didn't just encourage tens of thousands of folks to sign organ-donor cards and share with their families their choices as I hope you'll do today here. I cried and sometimes laughed with parents whose children's organs saved lives of other adults so those men and women could live to watch their own kids grow up.
I heard the news that people awaiting transplantation, with kidney disease or on dialysis whom I'd met on my travels had received the organs they'd long awaited. Folks with donor cards proudly waved them at me from audiences, passing cars and at conferences -- and wrote to tell me how mine and my brother's story encouraged them and their families to sign donor cards. And hundreds of transplant recipients and I connected and supported one another in exactly the same ways veterans of wars do.

I'd gladly live through again and again the worst days of pain or illness following my transplant -- when I contracted a funky virus and had weeks of debilitating, high-grade fevers, when I dealt with depression, lost my hair or later have had issues with sepsis, etc. -- simply to be alive today. I've known folks who couldn't get an organ when they needed one or whose transplants failed. Yet here I am, 22 years post transplant with a beautifully functioning kidney, perfect health and excellent prognosis for keeping the organ for a long time to come. Believe me, I never for a second forget my good fortune and blessings; that's why I live and do things the way I do.

So please take a second to think about signing an organ donor card, then tell your loved ones about your choice. If you've got yours already, grazie! Thank you so much! Myths abound about donation and transplantation -- like after surgery you'll automatically grow big hair and crave watching "Little Miss Sunshine" over and over -- but you can check out the facts here.

Why are you glad to be alive on this very day? And, how big was your hair in 1989?