Friday, July 29, 2016

Review/Excerpt/Giveaway of Why Do Dukes Fall in Love? (Dukes Behaving Badly #4) by Megan Frampton



Why Do Dukes Fall in Love? 
by Megan Frampton

In Megan Frampton’s captivating new Dukes Behaving Badly novel, we learn the answer to the question:

Why do dukes fall in love?

Michael, the Duke of Hadlow, has the liberty of enjoying an indiscretion . . . or several. But when it comes time for him to take a proper bride, he ultimately realizes he wants only one woman: Edwina Cheltam. He’d hired her as his secretary, only to quickly discover she was sensuous and intelligent.
They embark on a passionate affair, and when she breaks it off, he accepts her decision as the logical one . . . but only at first. Then he decides to pursue her.

Michael is brilliant, single-minded, and utterly indifferent to being the talk of the ton. It’s even said his only true friend is his dog. Edwina had begged him to marry someone appropriate–—someone aristocratic . . . someone high-born . . . someone else. But the only thing more persuasive than a duke intent on seduction is one who has fallen irrevocably in love.

Read an Excerpt from Why Do Dukes Fall in Love?

Chapter 1
1844
The Quality Employment Agency, London

“He left you with nothing?”

Edwina glanced to the side of the room, a tactic she knew full well wouldn’t disguise the moisture in her eyes, especially not from Carolyn, her oldest and dearest friend. They’d met when Edwina’s late husband had wanted to find a respectable, but inexpensive, maidservant, and Carolyn’s agency had found the perfect person. And Edwina had finally found a friend she could actually talk to.

The room was as familiar to her as her own lodgings—and definitely more welcoming. A kettle was heating up water on the small stove, the tea things—the chipped blue cup for Carolyn, the cup with the handle that was always too hot for her—waiting until the water boiled.

Cozy, comfortable, and everything else she was not.

“No.” She spoke plainly, unable and unwilling to disguise the truth of it.

Eight years of marriage to one of the most boring men of her acquaintance, and he didn’t even have the decency to leave her financially comfortable when he died.

“I can help you, you know,” Carolyn said in a soft voice. She got up as the kettle began to whistle and started preparing the tea.

Edwina’s throat tightened. “I won’t take your money.” Fine words for a pauper—they both knew that if the choice came between accepting charity and letting her daughter starve, Edwina would take the money. Gertrude sat on the floor, playing with her dolls. Was she already getting thinner? Edwina’s heart hurt at the thought, and she had to bite the inside of her cheek not to start fretting aloud. That would do nothing but worry her daughter, who wasn’t old enough to understand.

Edwina wasn’t entirely certain she was old enough to understand, either.

“I wasn’t offering to give you any money,” Carolyn replied in a dry tone of voice, glancing over her shoulder as she spoke.

Edwina’s gaze met Carolyn’s.

“Well, what then?” she asked in an unsteady voice.

“Employment,” Carolyn replied, returning to her task.

“Employment?” Edwina echoed, an uneasy feeling settling somewhere in her gut. The gut that was remarkably close to her stomach, which hadn’t eaten today, and had only had some porridge and some hard cheese yesterday.

So the uneasy feeling would have to ease.

“You do know I run an employment agency.” Carolyn gestured to the room they sat in. “Since you have used my services.”

“Yes, back when I could afford them,” Edwina replied in a tone that was both wry and pained.
She took a deep breath, and looked around her. It was undeniably pleasant, if modest. The cozy, comfortable room of the Quality Employment Agency, filled with books, papers, mismatched chairs, and an enormous battered desk, where Carolyn normally sat, welcomed her, made her feel safe in a way her new lodgings did not.

“Yes, but—” and then Edwina felt both foolish and snobby, since the answer was obvious, and yet had not occurred to her because of who she was. Who she had been.

“But what?” Carolyn picked up the teacups, wincing as she felt the heat from the offending handle. She brought them over to where Edwina was seated, placing them on the desk and sitting back down in her usual spot. “You need a job, Edwina. No matter who you are. Even ladies—especially ladies, judging from my experience—need to have enough money to eat and to live. Even if their husbands were so disappointing as to leave them bereft of anything but their good name.”

“And even that was sullied, thanks to George’s entrusting of the accounts to his brother as soon as it seemed the businesses were getting profitable, and worthy of notice,” Edwina remarked in a bitter tone. She kept her tone low, so her daughter couldn’t hear. “I told him I could handle them, that I had gotten them to the state they were in, not to mention I told him how untrustworthy his brother was—and yet he said he’d never ‘let a female deal with important things,’ ” she said in an imitation of her late husband.

“More fool he,” Carolyn remarked. “If he had allowed you to continue to oversee the finances you wouldn’t be in this situation now, would you?”

It was a well-worn discussion, but one that still made Edwina angry. George had been so blind to her attributes he hadn’t seen she was skilled at maths, far better than anyone in his own family, especially his debt-beleaguered younger brother. He had been fine when she oversaw the accounts when they weren’t important—but ironically, as soon as her skill had yielded results, he took them away from her and handed them to a man. Simply because he was a man, and his brother, and not a woman, and his wife.

And now she and little Gertrude were being made to suffer for it. George’s brother hadn’t done more than shrug when Edwina had told him how George had left her. He already had a wife, he said, and he couldn’t afford to take her in, although he had offered a place to his niece. 

But Edwina couldn’t bear the thought of being separated from her daughter; she was the only thing keeping Edwina from stepping in front of an oxcart one day. That she and Gertrude might starve to death was not something she wanted to contemplate—what reasonable person would?—even though she had to.

Which brought her back to why she was currently sitting with her closest friend in said closest friend’s employment agency, realizing that perhaps she had to consider employment herself. 

“What can I do?” she said at last, hating how pathetic and needy she sounded. Better pathetic and needy than dead, a voice said inside her head.

Carolyn chuckled, taking a sip of her tea. “What can’t you do? You can balance accounts, drive hard bargains with tradesmen, oversee skittish maids, sort out the temperamental discord among upper-class servants, and keep an older husband relatively comfortable in illness. Not to mention you are extremely well-read—there are benefits to having a neglectful husband—and your parents ensured you had all the education you’d need to be an adept wife, whether you married a politician, a solicitor, or even a lord.”

“Or a businessman with lofty pretensions,” Edwina added. “They thought they had taken care of me. I wish they were still here.” She shook her head. “I do not wish to be married again, if that is the employment you are suggesting.” Once was enough, and she would have said never would have been enough if it weren’t for Gertrude. And it is not as though she had any other family to resort to; her parents had both been only children, and she had no relatives that she knew of.

“I am not in a husband acquisition business, Edwina,” Carolyn replied in a mocking tone. “If
I were, don’t you think I could afford a better office?”

They both glanced around at the tidy but shabby room. “Excellent point,” Edwina replied with a grin, picking up the cup with the still-hot handle and taking a welcome sip of tea. “So what do you have in mind?”

About the author:

Megan Frampton

Megan Frampton writes historical romance under her own name and romantic women’s fiction as Megan Caldwell. She likes the color black, gin, dark-haired British men, and huge earrings, not in that order. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and son. You can visit her website at www.meganframpton.com. She tweets as @meganf, and is at facebook.com/meganframptonbooks.

A few words from Megan Frampton on writing the Dukes Behaving Badly Series

Writing duke heroes over the course of four books, as I have in the Dukes Behaving Badly series, is hard. Not because the heroes aren’t all distinctive in their own way; they are, from Matthew’s confused bemusement about inheriting the title, to Nicholas’s arrogance he should always get his own way, to Lash’s refusal to step across any line, to Why Do Dukes Fall in Love?’s hero Michael, perhaps the most dukely of all my dukes.

It’s hard writing dukes because dukes are like CEOs. It’d be like constantly writing billionaires who remain in charge and in command over companies that support thousands of people. That takes a certain amount of sameness if you are always writing such a powerful person. In my duke view, there’s no possibility of a duke dashing off to become a spy; a duke has too many responsibilities to be that feckless. Dukes are second only to the royal family, only dukes, unlike princes, aren’t waiting around for someone to die so they can assume full command of their position. Dukes are at the pinnacle of their own possibility, and with that possibility comes an enormous amount of responsibility.

At one point during Why Do Dukes Fall in Love?, the heroine Edwina is pondering the vast mystery that is Michael, the ducal hero. 

She didn’t think many men would have all that power and still be committed to doing something more with it. Most would be content to settle, to do what they had to, or what they thought they had to, but nothing more.

But not him. It was as though there was a force inside him, propelling him forward, into action beyond what most men would do.

What I like about Michael is that he understands what a duke should do, and he knows he is smart enough to do more than that. He feels compelled to do more because he thinks it is a waste of humanity to just be and accept the position that was given to him. 

I always want my dukes to bring more than just their utter dukeliness to the table, and I love writing such powerful and ultimately responsible heroes.

Q & A with Megan Frampton

Tell us about yourself.

I live in Brooklyn, NY, with my husband and 17 year-old son. I never tan, I love to dance, and I have close to twenty maxi dresses.

What three things about you might surprise your readers?

I secretly prefer 2005's Pride and Prejudice to the iconic 1995 one (because Matthew MacFadyen, yo).
I do my best writing when I enter what I call "the fugue state," where I barely know what I'm typing.
I actually think in circularities like so many of my heroines.

Is there a genre(s) that you think “I might like to write one of those.”?

All of them? Actually, I don't know that I'd be any good at contemporary, but I love all romance genres. 


Tell us about WHY DO DUKES FALL IN LOVE?

It's the story of an extremely intelligent duke matching wits with his extremely intelligent female secretary.

Where did the idea for the storyline come from?

I wanted to write about a widow, since I've done so many virginal heroines. I thought about the freedom a widow would have, and what it would be like for a poor widow out on her own with a child to support. And then I thought about a duke who would give my heroine a chance at survival without having to sell herself.

What do you think readers will like/love about Michael and Edwina?

Their respective keen intelligence, and how she doesn't let him get away with any s**t.

What was your favorite scene from the book?

The one at the railroad exhibit, where Michael and Gertrude, Edwina's six year-old daughter, share a geeking out moment over train engines.

Who are some of your book boyfriends?  What draws you to them?

SO MANY! I love dominant, ruthless heroes such as Moning's Barrons, Balogh's Wulfric, and KJ Charles's Mason. I also love damaged heroes, men who know they are vulnerable and work desperately to hide that--until the heroine unpeels the layers of pain.

If you had to pick a favorite cocktail of choice, what would it be?  (It can be non-alcoholic too)

A Negroni, heavy on the Campari.

What’s next for you?

A new series! Loosely (very loosely) based on Pride and Prejudice and with a nearsighted heroine and a very tall hero.


The Review


Title: Why Do Dukes Fall in Love?: A Dukes Behaving Badly Novel
Classification: Adult Fiction (Erotic)
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Dukes Behaving Badly (Book 4)
Format: Mass Market Paperback; 400 pages
Publisher: Avon (July 26, 2016)
ISBN-10: 0062412825
ISBN-13: 978-0062412829
Author's Website: http://meganframpton.com/
Notes: Received an eARC loan from the publisher for reviewing purposes. Be forewarned, F-bombs and other words notorious for popping up in erotic reads are used.

He needs a secretary
She needs a job
What either of them realized was that they needed each other...in more ways than one.
This was such a fun read. I usually don't go for erotic romances, but this one just overstepped the boundary a bit by using a few, shall we say, "choice" words *cough*like f-bombs*cough*. Never the less,  I absolutely loved this one.

Michael, the Duke of Hadlow, is too smart for his own good. You would think being smart would be an asset, which it is, but when it comes to getting along with other people it gets in the way. He can't tolerate people who don't think like him and very few do. He can't understand why others don't think like he does. What is obvious to him is not to other people. He reminded me a little of the character Sherlock Holmes from the TV series Sherlock. As you can imagine, Michael's best friend is a dog. I absolutely adored seeing how Michael interacted with Gertrude, Edwina's young daughter. It seemed so out of character and yet not.

When our heroine, Edwina Cheltam, comes upon him he has rejected a numerous amount of applicants for the job of being his secretary. He decides, against propriety, to give her a chance. Edwina is by all means Michael's intellectual equal, but being a woman, she has seldom gotten a chance to prove it. She is in dire straights thanks to her late husband taking control away from her of their family business when it showed signs of profit and then handing it over to his brother. By the time of her husband's untimely demise, her brother-in-law, through mismanagement, had pretty much bankrupted it leaving Edwina and her eight year old daughter in a very bad position.

I couldn't help but give this one 5 out 5 roses. It was engaging, funny, lighthearted, and reminded me just how far woman have come as a whole. I laughed, I smiled, and snorted (Yes. I know, very unladylike of me and I can't recall ever doing that before while reading a book. lol). Make sure you check out the page before each chapter. I loved all the reasons listed as to why a duke falls in love. They are, incidentally, what made me snort. Thank goodness there were no witnesses--my reputation is safe. *grin* I HIGHLY recommend this book, and now need to read the rest of the series. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned a SHOWER rating--a cold shower is necessary (need I say more?). Some books should come with a warning - make sure your significant other is handy or your shower is in working order. lol Yep, a lot of chemistry going on with this one.





WHY DO DUKES FALL IN LOVE? is now on out. You can buy your copy at one of the following retailers:

Avon: http://avonromance.com/book/9780062412836/why-do-dukes-fall-in-love-2/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B017H7DEL0/ref=cm_sw_su_dp?tag=avonromancehc-20#navbar

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/why-do-dukes-fall-in-love-megan-frampton/1123598115;jsessionid=28048A99EBB5215A4F8ADA3B4E4CF896.prodny_store02-atgap05?ean=9780062412836&st=AFF&2sid=HarperCollins%20Publishers%20LLC_7229674_NA&sourceId=AFFHarperCollins%20Publishers%20LLCM000023

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/search?q=9780062412836+&c=books

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/why-do-dukes-fall-in-love/id1054899069?mt=11&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

The Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Shanna by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss

Title: Shanna
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Historical Romance
Format: Paperback; 688 pages
Publisher: Avon; Reprint edition (May 31, 2016)
ISBN-10: 0380385880
ISBN-13: 978-0380385881
Notes: Received an eARC loan from the publisher for review purposes.




"You have a year to settle your fancies," he roared. "Your period of grace ceases on your first-and-twentieth year, the day marking your birth. If you have not wed into a family of the aristocracy by then, I'll name the next ready swain still young enough to get you with child as your husband. And if I must drag you to the altar in chains, you will obey!"

Shanna is a smart, rich, beautiful. and unwed young woman. The last being a problem for her father who wants grandchildren. While most would see her predicament as ideal, she sees it as a curse. How is she to know if a man loves her for herself or for the money her dowry will bring? So she devises a plan to outwit her father and his unreasonable demand. Little does she know her plan will backfire...

For those of you who don't know, Kathleen E. Woodiwiss is credited with having created the historical romance genre in 1972 with her novel, 'The Flame and the Flower'--an instant New York Times bestseller.'Shanna' is another wonderful read from this "mother" of romance novels, and along with 'The Flame and the Flower' should be included on the must read shelves of anyone who sees themselves as a romance connoisseur.

This was a fun story that reminded me a touch of Gone with the Wind--not so much in the story line, but in the character of Shanna. With statements like, "Why can't I be free of you? Is there no end to your persistence?" and "You're a devil." she half sobbed. "A spawn of Satan sent to torture me!", she reminded me of Scarlett O'Hara in personality--the kind of woman who practically needs to be conked on the head before she sees what's been in front of her all along. In Scarlett's case it was Rhett Butler, in Shanna's it's Ruark Beauchamp. Ruark is everything Shanna desires but doesn't know she wants. He's loyal to a fault, handsome as a devil, smart as all get out, and downright patient with Shanna. He proves himself to her time and time again and still the stubborn woman resists giving in to what is happening between them.I kept finding myself shaking my head at her and smiling at him.

Some of my favorite quotes:
-    "You are the one whom I fear to meet each day, and yet I cannot wait until I do. I know the pain will come. I know the choking in my throat of the words that are never spoken. I know your beauty and seek it out, though the slightest taste will leave me weak and mindless. I have no other world but you. Your smile is my sun. Your eyes, my stars. Your face, my moon. Your touch and warm caress. my earth and food. Yes, this is Shanna," he whispered, "as I have never said before to anyone."

-   "Madam, you have the wiles of a vixen," he lightly teased, "Now say the truth, are you seducer or seduced, ravisher or ravished, witch or bewitched?"
    "Why all of course." Shanna rolled away from him. laughing. "What would you have be me, sir? The seduced?" Lazily she stretched, arching her back.

I gave this one 4 1/2 out of 5 roses. The book packs a bit of a punch with a lot of emotional scenes and drama. It contains a bit more content than your standard, run of the mill romance somewhat similar to what one would find in such books like 'Gone with the Wind' and 'Outlander'. In other words, it doesn't have the cookie cutter feel that many romances these days do, and you get your money's worth and then some. There is suspense, danger, pirates, and, of course, romance. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned a.FAN rating--the temperature in the room seems to have suddenly gone up a couple of degrees and a fan would be nice.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Don't Tempt Me by Lori Foster

Title:Don't Tempt Me
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Format: Hardcover; 336 pages
Publisher: HQN Books (July 26, 2016)
ISBN-10: 0373802854
ISBN-13: 978-0373802852
Author's Website: http://lorifoster.com/
Notes: I received an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of the book at BEA (Book Expo America)


'As they neared the house, three men stepped out from the garage next door. They'd obviously been working. One held a motor of some sort while the other gestured toward it. The tallest nodded as he cleaned his hands on a towel.

"Oh, hey," Lexie perked up. "What's this?" Man candy? Very sexy man candy." She rounded on Honor. "You've been holding out."

Repeatedly glancing at them, Honor shook her head. Nope, no holding out. This was the first time she'd laid eyes on the men. Fact--because if she'd seen them, she sure as heck would have remembered.'

Honor Brown has spent the past two years looking after her grandfather as his health deteriorated. She just bought her first house and when she meets her new neighbors she knows she's in trouble with a capital 'T'. With her busy complicated life, the distraction of a man is definitely not what she needs--or so she thinks. Her best friend Lexie, thinks that is exactly what Honor needs.

This was a fun, sexy, and downright delicious read. Honor is a smart, beautiful, and fiercely loyal young woman who doesn't know what effect she has on the male gender. The lyrics from the song "What Makes You Beautiful" by One Direction comes to mind...
"You're insecure,
Don't know what for,
You're turning heads when you walk through the door,
Don't need make-up, to cover up,
Being the way that you are is enough"
(...)
"But when you smile at the ground it ain't hard to tell,
You don't know, oh oh,
You don't know you're beautiful"
Honor is also fiercely independent and tries to not rely on anyone, but after years of looking after her grandfather, she's long over due for someone to look out for her.

Jason Guthrie has seen two sides to relationships and he's not looking to venture into anything serious. While his parents had a good solid loving relationship till the day his mother died, his brother was betrayed by his wife. Hogan came away from the experience changed and a touch reckless. He lost everything but his son and the two have moved in with Jason until Hogan can get back on his feet. Everyone was surprised by Hogan's wife's betrayal, and it makes Jason speculate how you truly know someone. Honor, however, brings out his protective side and makes him wonder if maybe he should rethink things and give love a try.

The neighborhood Honor moves in to is in the midst of revitalizing which is a nice mechanism to bond everyone in the neighborhood together. It also brings out more than one hunky man's protective nature, especially where their newest neighbor, Honor, is concerned. Yes, the place is swimming with handsome men which made the lyrics of a second song start dancing in my head *chuckle*, "It's Raining Men" by The Weather Girls...
"It's Raining Men! Hallelujah! - It's Raining Men! Amen!
I'm gonna go out to run and let myself get
Absolutely soaking wet!
It's Raining Men! Hallelujah!
It's Raining Men! Every Specimen!
Tall, blonde, dark and lean
Rough and tough and strong...."

Overall, I gave this one 4 out of 5 roses. It was a sweet, sexy, and fun romance with a touch of drama thrown in. Additionally,.there was a second, simultaneous romance going on between Honor's best friend, Lexie, and another gorgeous neighbor, Sullivan. It was sort of like getting icing on your cake. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one received a STEAM rating--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed. I thoroughly enjoyed it.


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Release Day Review and Excerpt of His Scandalous Kiss (Secrets at Thorncliff Manor #3) by Sophie Barnes


His Scandalous Kiss
by Sophie Barnes

Thorncliff Manor is the perfect setting for a masquerade ball . . . where the heart’s secret desires are about to be uncovered in this scintillating Regency romance from Sophie Barnes

Richard Heartly has exiled himself from society since the war, plotting his revenge for a terrible betrayal. A masked ball at Thorncliff Manor is intended to be a brief diversion. Instead, he encounters a fascinating young woman as entranced by the music as he is. He can’t reveal his identity to Lady Mary. But her siren song keeps drawing him back, and their clandestine meetings could be hazardous to his plan—and to her virtue . . .

Avoiding an unwanted marriage was easy when Lady Mary was ignored by the ton. Thanks to her dazzling appearance at the masquerade, she’s a wallflower no longer. Eligible suitors abound, yet the only man she wants is the brooding, seductive companion who keeps his face hidden. A man who tempts her to disclose her own shocking secret, one that could divide them forever . . .


~ Read an Excerpt ~

Forcing back all thought of potentially kissing his way down the side of her neck and over the smooth skin of her shoulder, Richard struggled to gain control. “Perhaps it is the atmosphere,” he suggested. “Masquerades do have a tendency to encourage more carefree behavior.”

“I suppose it must be because of the anonymity. Hidden behind masks, people have the opportunity to do things they would not otherwise dare to consider.”

“Such as?”

She pursed her lips, which made her look adorably cheeky. “A shy gentleman might suddenly feel emboldened, allowing him the courage he needs to ask a lady to dance.” 

“I hope you are not suggesting that I might be shy, for I can assure you that I am anything but.” Not entirely true, though he preferred apprehensive.

“And yet I have no clue about your identity. In truth, you could be anyone, perhaps even a groomsman who happened to chance upon some quality clothing.”

“I see your point. But if I were a groomsman, would I be as well-read as you know me to be?” Emboldened by their light repartee, the magical touch that the evening provided, and the reminder that nobody knew who he was, Richard moved his hands to her waist and lifted her right off the ground. He heard her suck in her breath while several onlookers gasped in confounded shock. Heedless of it all, he proceeded to swing Lady Eleanor around while spinning in a wide circle. 

“That was far too daring,” she chastised as soon as he set her back on her feet and resumed their previous pace.

“Tell me you did not enjoy every second of it.”

Setting her mouth in a firm line, she looked away from him. “Everyone is watching,” she eventually said, not answering his question. “My aunt does not look the least bit pleased.”

“Then it is fortunate that I care more about your opinion than I do about your aunt’s.”

The corner of her mouth twitched. “You are intolerable. What if you had dropped me?”

“A gentleman never drops a lady.” Twirling her around, he led her between two other couples.

“Perhaps not, but then again, we have not yet established that you are in fact a gentleman. For all I know, you could be a scoundrel.”

“I can assure you that I am no such thing.” Dipping his head, he whispered close to her ear. “In time, you will learn that I value honesty and dependability. That I consider a man’s honor to be paramount to his character. So I would be much obliged if you would refrain from suggesting otherwise, even if you only meant to do so in jest.

Briefly closing her eyes, she gave a little nod. “Forgive me,” she whispered, regret marring her features. “I did not mean to insult you in any way.

“I know.” The music gradually faded and their movements slowed until they came to a gliding halt. Stepping back, Richard offered Lady Eleanor a bow while she curtseyed in return. He didn’t like the tone he’d just taken with her, but it was too late for that now. “Will you join me for a walk in the garden?” he asked, stiffly offering her his arm. He was suddenly desperate to smooth away the tight expression that he’d caused.

“As lovely as that sounds, I am not so sure that it is going to be possible,” she said, her eyes fixed on a spot directly behind his left shoulder.

Turning, Richard winced as he spotted an older woman bearing down on him with Lady Duncaster in pursuit. “Your aunt, I presume?”

“Yes. With Mama and Papa abroad, I am presently under her protection.” She looked up at him with calmness in her eyes. “No need to worry. She is not as fierce as she looks. Just be polite.”

Squaring his shoulders, Richard stood his ground as Lady Eleanor’s aunt came to a halt before him. She was a slim woman with delicate features, possessing a chin that was sharper than most. Her dark brown hair was streaked with random lines of silver, and in front of her eyes, she held a lorgnette surrounded by a vast array of colorful feathers.

“Signor Antonio,” Lady Duncaster said, coming up alongside her, “May I present my dear friend, Lady Foxworth?”

“It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Countess.” Reaching for her tiny hand, Richard bowed over it while hoping that his gallantry would win him her favor. “Thank you,” she said as she peered up at him from behind her lorgnette. “You clearly have me at a disadvantage. Will you please tell me who you are? I should also like to know why you presumed to have the right to dance with my niece in such a scandalous manner.”

Every muscle in Richard’s body grew taught. Was it just his imagination, or was his cravat more restrictive now than it had been earlier? With rigidity, he met Lady Foxworth’s assessing gaze. “I must apologize for allowing myself to get carried away during the dance. It was not my intention to offend anyone. As to my name . . . I am afraid that Signor Antonio will have to suffice.”

Lady Foxworth pressed her lips together in a firm line of disapproval. Beside him, Richard sensed Lady Eleanor’s surprise. Like her aunt, she’d probably expected him to reveal himself when asked to do so.

“Unfortunately that is not good enough,” Lady Foxworth said. “Not when I am responsible for my niece’s reputation.”
“I can vouch for his character,” Lady Duncaster said with a hasty look in Richard’s direction. “Signor Antonio comes from a very respectable family—a family with whom an association would be a coup.”
Raising her chin a notch, Lady Foxworth was silent for a moment and Richard realized that he was holding his breath in anticipation of what she might say next. “I have always trusted your judgment,”
Lady Foxworth eventually told Lady Duncaster, “but I am afraid that my conscience will not allow me to do so in this instance. Unless I am made aware of Signor Antonio’s exact identity, then I am afraid that I cannot allow him to continue socializing with my niece.”

Closing his eyes on the finality of her words, Richard expelled the breath he’d been holding. Silently, he cursed the fear that kept him from living and the hatred that fueled his vendetta. Because in spite of what Lady Eleanor had told him—that she had no desire to marry—the way in which she responded to him suggested that he might be able to change her mind if he was allowed the chance to do so.

“What if he confides in me?” Lady Eleanor asked, cultivating this idea.

Lady Foxworth regarded him shrewdly. “I do not believe that he is prepared to do so. Are you, Signor?”

Heart hammering in his chest, Richard forced himself not to look at Lady Eleanor. He didn’t want to see the hope brimming in her eyes or the disappointment that would take its place when he said what had to be said. “Not yet.”

As soon as the words were out, he felt as though a cavern had been carved into the ground, separating him from the woman who stood by his side. Tonight, for the first time in years, he’d felt a sliver of hope that the happy future he’d always dreamed of might one day be his—if he could only win Lady Eleanor’s affection. Unwilling to give up completely, he said, “Perhaps in time—”

“No,” Lady Foxworth said, her hand slicing the air between them. “You have every right to keep your secrets, Signor, but until I am made aware of what they are and have been reassured that they pose no threat to my niece’s reputation or happiness, then you will stay away from her. Is that clear?”

The ultimatum was not to Richard’s liking even though he understood Lady Foxworth’s reasoning completely. Had he been in her shoes, he would have made the same demand. “Yes.” He spoke the word with difficulty.

Lady Foxworth finally allowed a faint smile. “Thank you. I appreciate your understanding.”
Clenching his jaw, Richard nodded. “If you will excuse me,” he said with a curt bow directed at Lady Foxworth and Lady Duncaster. Turning toward Lady Eleanor, his heart ached at the sight of her pained expression. “It has been a pleasure.”

She gave him a bleak little nod, but said nothing in response. Turning his back on her, Richard walked away without a backward glance, his pace brisk as he strode toward the French doors leading into the house. Rushing through the well-lit hallway, he marched toward the stairs, climbing them quickly in his haste to return to his bedchamber and the darkness that beckoned within.

~ About the Author ~

Sophie Barnes
Visit her website at www.sophiebarnes.com
Follow her on Twitter  @BarnesSophie
'Like' her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AuthorSophieBarnes
Follow her on Goodreads at: www.goodreads.com/author/show/5400052.Sophie_Barnes


Born in Denmark, Sophie Barnes spent her youth traveling with her parents to wonderful places all around the world. She's lived in five different countries, on three different continents, and speaks Danish, English, French, Spanish, and Romanian. But, most impressive of all, she's been married to the same man three times—in three different countries and in three different dresses.

When she's not busy dreaming up her next romance novel, Sophie enjoys spending time with her family, swimming, cooking, gardening, watching romantic comedies and, of course, reading.

~ The Review ~

Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Secrets at Thorncliff Manor
Format: Paperback; 384 pages
Publisher: Avon (July 26, 2016)
ISBN-10: 006235891X
ISBN-13: 978-0062358912
Notes: I received an eARC loan from the publisher for review purposes.


One enchanted evening a chance encounter happened at a masquerade ball,,,

"Who are you?" he asked.

Her lips curved to form a partial smile. "I thought the whole idea behind a masquerade  was to remain anonymous."

"Fair enough."

A simple question...

"The mask...do you wear it because you do not want me to know your identity, or because you do not want me to see your face?"

"Both"

But one conversation led to another and another and eventually to one scandalous kiss..

"Have you ever been kissed before? Properly, that is? By a man who desires you?'

She shook her head."No."

But more than one thing stands in the way of true love and a secret, once revealed, may cost them everything...

"Secrets generally have a way of surfacing, Richard. Just be sure that if you choose to keep this one to yourself, that Lady Mary will not think less of you for it, or worse, be hurt by it if she happens to find out what it is. In my experience, people do eventually discover the things that you would most like to keep from them."
This was wonderful romance which was inspired just a touch by the Phantom of the Opera. Richard Heartly fought in the battle of Waterloo where he became a prison of war. He was tortured and his face bares the scars of his torment. He's spent the last five years hiding from society trying to come to terms with it all. At the encouragement of a friend, he decides to join the living again during one of Lady Duncaster's notorious masquerade balls. A time when he can conceal his disfigured face.

Lady Mary is smarter than your average debutante. She also is independently wealthy. While she'd like to someday have a family of her own, she's not sure the trade-off is something she's willing to give up. After talking with Richard, however, she's starting to have second thoughts. He doesn't seem to be like other men. 

Overall, I gave this one 4 out of 5 roses. There were plenty of twists, turns, secrets, drama and suspense all nicely wrapped in a happy ending. There was even the beginning of a secondary romancing just starting to bloom. Perhaps Ms. Barnes will go a little deeper into that one in a later book? We'll have to wait and see. Luckily no, one goes mad in this story, and the horror associated with The Phantom of the Opera is nowhere to be found. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one scored a STEAM rating--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed. I thoroughly enjoyed it. 
Order of the series:

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Early Review of The Secrets She Kept (Fairham Island, #2) by Brenda Novak


Title: The Secrets She Kept
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Format: Paperback; 400 pages
Publisher: MIRA (July 26, 2016)
ISBN-10: 0778319067
ISBN-13: 978-0778319061
Author's Website: http://brendanovak.com/
Notes: Received this one at BEA (Book Expo America) from the publisher.



Josephine Lazarow is rich, beautiful, dynamic, and dead. While the police are ready to call her death a suicide, her son doesn't believe it for one minute. Josephine had an ego the size of a small planet and dying naked in a bathtub just wasn't her style. Appearance to her was everything. Plus, the woman wasn't a coward and would never take the easy way out. It soon becomes clear, however, Josephine Lazarow had secrets and they're about to be revealed, but were they enough for her to kill herself?
Josephine Lazarow was a wrecking ball. Anything or anyone who got in her way she considered collateral damage. The world was her oyster and she did as she pleased no matter who got hurt. To see the beautiful woman, one would never realize just how ugly she was on the inside. She kept up a beautiful facade until it suited her otherwise, and then it was too late for whoever she chose to unleash her fury on. Did she have enemies? Too many to count. The pertinent question being who did she enrage enough to want her dead?

This was a suspenseful story that reminded me a little of the board game Clue where you try to figure out who dunnit before anyone else can. There were so many possibilities that one had to wonder why someone hadn't offed this horrible woman sooner. I liked how what seemed like a hopeless case was solved as more and more clues were uncovered as how Josephine spent her last day is slowly uncovered.

Besides the suspenseful murder mystery, we get a side of romance. Keith, Josephine's son, pursues an old flame  Nancy<whom he did wrong, but never forgot. At the time of his departure, he hadn't been in a good place and still isn't sure where, if anywhere, he wants the relationship to go. He just knows he can't seem to stop thinking about her. 

Overall, I enjoyed the story and gave this one 4 our of 5 roses. I found the characters easy to relate to and sympathize with (well, all except for Josephine). The author managed to keep me on the edge of my seat wondering who did the dastardly deed. There were a lot of twists and turns, and suspects were seemingly coming out of the woodwork. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one scored a STEAM rating--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Early Review of Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

Title: Truly Madly Guilty
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Format: Hardcover; 432 pages
Publisher: Flatiron Books (July 26, 2016)
ISBN-10: 1250069793
ISBN-13: 978-1250069795
Author's Website: http://lianemoriarty.com.au/
Notes: I received this book at BEA from the person behind me while we were waiting in line for another book--Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. I was acting as a placeholder for my daughter when I noticed the lady behind me was reading Truly Madly Guilty. I made a comment that I liked the author and didn't know her book was being given away. She finished the book before she had my daughter reached the end and gave it to her to give to me. So a great big THANK YOU to the person whose name I don't know.
*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

One moment, if it's the right or wrong moment, can change your perspective, your outlook, or your opinion of yourself, your life, or the world. One moment happened to three families who got together for a seemingly ordinary barbecue, but it ended up being anything but...
This was a novel that touches upon some of today's most common fears, and how different people handle different situations. Liane Moriarty has this uncanny knack for capturing human emotions on paper, and if anyone else had written this story, I'd probably been bored and a touch disappointed. She however, like a gifted composer, intertwines the melody "emotions" of the instruments "people" and creates something which captivates her audience.

I confess, this one drove me a little crazy at the beginning because we don't find out exactly what happened at the barbecue until the last quarter of the book. The book alternates between the present and the past. The past is slowly revealed through the alternating chapters letting us know what transpired for all three families on the day of the barbecue. The chapters dealing with the present let us know how each person is coping with the aftermath of what happened. To me, the actual event was minimal compared to the reactions it inspired. From the slowly divulged snippets we were given, I initially thought something quite different had occurred. When the actual "incident" was disclosed, I felt perhaps Ms. Moriarty should have taken the full plunge and made the "incident" more tragic or at least stretched out the (Forgive me for I'm struggling with how do I say this without revealing what happened.) length of time it took before the full extent of consequences were exposed. I just felt it would have been a better fit to the reactions we observe. That being said, I loved the way Ms. Moriarty brought everything together at the end.

Overall, I gave this one 4 out of 5 roses. While I thought the reactions were a bit too dramatic for what took place, I enjoyed the story. The twists that are revealed, and the way the ending clicks the final puzzle pieces of that evening into place was nicely done. There was a nice congruency between what happened in the past to someone else and what happened at the barbecue. It gave us a peek of how things could have played out if things had ended differently. Likewise, I enjoyed another incident that happens toward the end which showed one character just how quickly things can transpire, and helps him come to terms with what happened. I felt the parallelism of the three events was well done.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The 2016 RITA® Award Winners


This past Saturday night, July 16th,  at the RWA's (Romance Writer's of America) annual convention, the RITA awards were presented. For those of you who have never been, I would liken the RITAs to to Oscars, complete with golden statues, which hold a book and golden quill. The authors and guests get dolled up in beautiful gowns and evening attire. So without further ado, here is the list of winners and their books....

Winner for Romance Novella


Roni Loren

Roni wrote her first romance novel at age fifteen when she discovered writing about boys was way easier than actually talking to them. Since then, her flirting skills haven’t improved, but she likes to think her storytelling ability has. After earning a master’s degree in social work from LSU, she worked in a mental health hospital, counseled birthmothers as an adoption coordinator, and did management recruiting in her PJs. But she always returned to writing.

Though she’ll forever be a New Orleans girl at heart, she now lives in Dallas with her husband and son. If she’s not working on her latest sexy story, you can find her cooking, watching reality television, or picking up another hobby she doesn't need--in other words, procrastinating like a boss. She is a three-time RITA award nominee and is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author.

For her novella:


 Nice Girls Don't Ride  
by Roni Loren

Natalie Bourne thinks she has the perfect night planned for her twenty-first birthday. But when her car breaks down and her boyfriend bails on her, she’s left stranded in an auto shop dealing with a way too cocky, way too hot mechanic, who seems to be intent on pushing every button she has.

Monroe Hawkins knows he shouldn’t be messing with a girl from the uppity private college. Especially when he can tell she sees him as the help. But he’s having trouble resisting the redhead with the smart mouth and the killer legs. So when Natalie’s night goes from bad to worse, there’s no way he’s letting her spend her birthday alone. He makes her a deal—he’ll take her home but not until the sun comes up.

Ten hours, one motorcycle, and the city of Austin at their fingertips…things are about to take a major detour. And soon, there may be no U-turn in sight.

Winner for long contemporary romance:

Maisey Yates


New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Maisey Yates lives in rural Oregon with her three children and her husband, whose chiseled jaw and arresting features continue to make her swoon. She feels the epic trek she takes several times a day from her office to her coffee maker is a true example of her pioneer spirit.

In 2009, at the age of twenty-three Maisey sold her first book. Since then it’s been a whirlwind of sexy alpha males and happily ever afters, and she wouldn’t have it any other way. Maisey divides her writing time between dark, passionate category romances set just about everywhere on earth and light sexy contemporary romances set practically in her back yard. She believes that she clearly has the best job in the world.

For her book:


Brokedown Cowboy 
by Maisey Yates

There are lines best friends shouldn't cross, but in Copper Ridge, Oregon, the temptation might be too much… 

If practice makes perfect, Connor Garrett should be world champion of being alone. Since losing his wife he's concentrated exclusively on his family's ranch. Until his dear friend Felicity Foster needs a place to stay and Connor invites her to move in temporarily. That's what friends do—and Liss is his rock. What friends don't do? Suddenly start fantasizing about each other in their underwear. Or out of it…

Since high school, Liss has kept her raging crush in check. Another few weeks should be a breeze. But helping Connor rebuild his life only reinforces how much she longs to be a part of it. One explosive encounter, and she'll discover that getting what you always wanted can feel better than you ever dreamed…

Winner in the category Young Adult Romance:


Jenn Bennett, 
©Heidi Darbo

Jenn Bennett is an award-winning author of the Arcadia Bell urban fantasy series (Kindling the Moon), the Roaring Twenties romance series (Bitter Spirits), the young adult contemporary romance The Anatomical Shape of a Heart (aka Night Owls in the U.K.), as well as the upcoming Alex, Approximately. Her books have earned starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist, won two Reviewers’ Choice awards from RT Book Reviews and were awarded their Seal of Excellence, been nominated for two RITA® awards, and been included on Publishers Weekly Best Books annual list. She lives near Atlanta with one husband and two pugs.

For her book:


The Anatomical Shape of a Heart 
by Jenn Bennett


A mysterious graffiti artist, an anatomy-obsessed artist, and a night bus that will bring the two together.

Beatrix Adams knows exactly how she’s spending the summer before her senior year. Determined to follow in Leonardo da Vinci’s footsteps, she’s ready to tackle the one thing that will give her an advantage in a museum-sponsored scholarship contest: drawing actual cadavers. But when she tries to sneak her way into the hospital’s Willed Body program and misses the last metro train home, she meets a boy who turns her summer plans upside down.

Jack is charming, wildly attractive . . . and one of San Francisco’s most notorious graffiti artists. On midnight buses and city rooftops, Beatrix begins to see who Jack really is—and tries to uncover what he’s hiding that leaves him so wounded. But will these secrets come back to haunt him? Or will the skeletons in Beatrix’s own family’s closet tear them apart?

Winner of Long Historical Romance:


Deeanne Gist

With almost a million copies of her books sold, international bestselling, award-winning author Deeanne Gist has rocketed up bestseller lists and captured readers everywhere with her original, captivating historicals. Her latest release, Tiffany Girl, was touted as a “Must Year of the Year!” by USA Today and one of the Top 10 Most Anticipated Books of 2015 by Huffington Post.

Published by Simon & Schuster, Deeanne’s awards include National Readers’ Choice, Best Historical of the Year (by RT Reviewers), Librarians’ Choice, Book Buyers’ Best, Golden Quill, Books*A*Million Pick of the Month, Seal of Excellent and Award of Excellence.

Her most recent series takes readers into the heart of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, where USA Today says …

“The historical details are absorbing, never intrusive and always eye-opening ... The characterization is rich and authentic ... The narrative is a treat, the tempo impeccable.”

Deeanne earned her B.S. in Elementary Education from Texas A&M and taught for five years, then became a freelance journalist with credits including People Magazine, Parents and Parenting. Her entertaining and informative presentations have been featured on the front page of the Wall Street Journal.

Deeanne lives in South Carolina with her husband. When not writing, she enjoys keeping up with her readers via www.IWantHerBook.com and her very active online community on her blog, on Facebook, Pinterest, and on her YouTube channel.

For her book:


Tiffany Girl 
by Deeanne Gist

As preparations for the 1893 World’s Fair set Chicago and the nation on fire, Louis Tiffany—heir to the exclusive Fifth Avenue jewelry empire—seizes the opportunity to unveil his state-of-the-art, stained glass, mosaic chapel, the likes of which the world has never seen.

But when Louis’s dream is threatened by a glassworkers’ strike months before the Fair opens, he turns to an unforeseen source for help: the female students at the New York School of Applied Design. Eager for adventure, the young women pick up their skirts, move to boarding houses, take up steel cutters, and assume new identities as the “Tiffany Girls.”

Tiffany Girl is the heartwarming story of the impetuous Flossie Jayne, a beautiful, budding artist handpicked by Louis to help complete the Tiffany chapel. Though excited to be an independent "New Woman" when most of the fair sex stayed home, she quickly finds the world less welcoming than anticipated. From a Casanova male, to an unconventional married couple, and a condescending singing master, she takes on a colorful cast of characters to transform the boarding house into a home while racing to complete the Tiffany chapel and make a name for herself in the art world.

As challenges mount, her ambitions become threatened from an unexpected quarter: her own heart.

Who will claim victory? Her dreams or the captivating boarder next door?

Winner of Romantic Suspense


Dana Marton

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Dana Marton has thrilled and entertained millions of readers around the globe with her fast-paced stories about strong women and honorable men who fight side by side for justice and survival.

Kirkus Reviews calls her writing "compelling and honest." RT Book Review Magazine said, "Marton knows what makes a hero...her characters are sure to become reader favorites." Her writing has been acclaimed by critics, called, "gripping," "intense and chilling," "full of action," "a thrilling adventure," and wholeheartedly recommended to readers. Dana is the winner of the Daphne du Maurier Award of Excellence, the Readers' Choice Award, and Best Intrigue, among other awards. Her book, TALL, DARK, AND LETHAL was nominated for the prestigious Rita Award. DEATHSCAPE reached the 
#1 spot on Amazon's Romantic Suspense Bestseller list.

Dana has a Master's degree in Writing Popular Fiction, and is continuously studying the art and craft of writing, attending several workshops, seminars and conferences each year. Her number one goal is to bring the best books she possibly can to her readers.

Keeping in touch with readers is Dana's favorite part of being an author. Please connect with her via her web site (www.danamarton.com) or her Facebook page ( www.facebook.com/danamarton).
Having lived around the world, Dana currently creates her compelling stories in a small and lovely little town in Pennsylvania. The fictional town of her bestselling Broslin Creek series is based on her real life home where she fights her addictions to reading, garage sales, coffee and chocolate. If you know a good twelve-step program to help her with any of that, she'd be interested in hearing about it!

For her book:


Flash Fire 
by Dana Marton

A brand new, gripping novel of romantic suspense from New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Dana Marton.

When an American teenager disappears abroad, Clara Roberts, a by-the-book investigator on a secret mission, joins forces with Light Walker, an ex-SEAL turned lawless mercenary, to save her. The sparks they generate—and the trouble they stir up—threaten to set the jungle ablaze.

Nothing is what it seems in this fast-paced romantic thriller. As attraction grows into love, looming danger turns into all-out war, and the whole region explodes around them. Clara and Walker must hold on to each other and race against time to survive.

Winner of Paranormal Romance:


Angela Quarles

Angela Quarles is a RWA RITA® Finalist and USA Today bestselling author of time travel and steampunk romance. Library Journal named her steampunk, Steam Me Up, Rawley, Best Self-Published Romance of 2015. Her time travel romance Must Love Chainmail is a Romance Writer’s of America RITA finalist. She has published three books and one novelette, and her latest novel, Must Love Kilts, is due out in mid-2016.

Readers have enjoyed the geeky slants to her tales. Whether it’s fan girling over Ada Lovelace by having her as a secondary character in Must Love Breeches, or outright geek references with geek types in her romantic comedy with paranormal elements, Beer and Groping in Las Vegas, or going all Southern steampunk in Steam Me Up, Rawley, Angela likes to have fun with her romances and hopes her readers do too. In addition, she loves history, folklore, and family history and combines it with her active imagination to write stories of romance and adventure.

Angela works at an independent bookstore and lives in an historic house in the beautiful and quirky town of Mobile, Alabama. When she’s not writing, she enjoys the usual stuff like gardening, reading, hanging out, eating, drinking, chasing squirrels out of the walls and creating the occasional knitted scarf. She’s had a varied career, including website programming and directing a small local history museum, and has discovered that writing allows her to explore all her interests.

For her book:


Must Love Chainmail
by Angela Quarles

Trapped in the wrong time, she needs a knight in shining armor, but this damsel in distress might be the real savior.

A damsel in distress...

With a day planner attached to her hip, the last thing Katy Tolson wants is a romance that threatens her well-ordered life. She's set to marry the safe--but bland--guy, but something's not quite...right. A careless wish thrusts her through time into medieval Wales and into the arms of...

A knight in somewhat shining armor...

Sir Robert Beucol, half-Norman and half-Welsh, lives with the shame of his father's treason and vows to reclaim his family's holdings and thereby his honor. To prove himself to his king, he must be more Norman than a full-blooded Norman. What better way to show loyalty than to fight his mother's people? He has no desire to be sidetracked by the mysterious wench with pink toenails, peculiar habits, and passion smoldering behind her cool, collected exterior.

A rebellion that challenges both...

The Welsh uprising fits perfectly into Robert’s plans. Katy’s on the other hand? That’s a no. As they embark on a perilous journey through the heart of Wales, each passionate encounter pulls them closer together, but farther from their goals. When everything they value is at stake, can they save each other and their love?

Winner of Erotic Romance


Alexis Hall

Alexis Hall was born in the early 1980s and still thinks the 21st century is the future. To this day, he feels cheated that he lived through a fin de siècle but inexplicably failed to drink a single glass of absinthe, dance with a single courtesan, or stay in a single garret. He did the Oxbridge thing sometime in the 2000s and failed to learn anything of substance. He has had many jobs, including ice cream maker, fortune teller, lab technician, and professional gambler. He was fired from most of them.

He can neither cook nor sing, but he can handle a 17th century smallsword, punts from the proper end, and knows how to hotwire a car.

He lives in southeast England, with no cats and no children, and fully intends to keep it that way.

For his book:



For Real: A Spires Story 
by Alexis Hall

Laurence Dalziel is worn down and washed up, and for him, the BDSM scene is all played out. Six years on from his last relationship, he’s pushing forty and tired of going through the motions of submission.

Then he meets Toby Finch. Nineteen years old. Fearless, fierce, and vulnerable. Everything Laurie can’t remember being.

Toby doesn’t know who he wants to be or what he wants to do. But he knows, with all the certainty of youth, that he wants Laurie. He wants him on his knees. He wants to make him hurt, he wants to make him beg, he wants to make him fall in love.

The problem is, while Laurie will surrender his body, he won’t surrender his heart. Because Toby is too young, too intense, too easy to hurt. And what they have—no matter how right it feels—can’t last. It can’t mean anything.

It can’t be real.

Winner of Short Historical Romance

Julie Anne Long
photo by Candice Hern

Julie Anne Long originally set out to be a rock star when she grew up, and she has the guitars and the questionable wardrobe stuffed in the back of her closet t prove it. When playing to indifferent crowds at midnight in dank clubs lost its, ahem, charm, she realized she could incorporate all of the best things about being in a band—namely, drama, passion and men with unruly hair—into novels, while at the same time indulging her love of history and research. So she made the move from guitar to keyboard (the computer variety) and embarked on a considerably more civilized, if not much more peaceful, career as a novelist.

Julie lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with a fat orange cat. (Little known fact: they issue you a cat the minute you become a romance novelist.)

For her book:



It Started With a Scandal 

by Julie Anne Long

Lord Philippe Lavay once took to the high seas armed with charm as lethal as his sword, and a stone-cold conviction: he'll restore his family's fortune and honor, no matter the cost. Victory is at last within reach—when a brutal attack snatches it from his grasp and lands him in Pennyroyal Green.


An afternoon of bliss brings a cascade of consequences for Elise Fountain. She is shunned by her family and ousted from a job she loves, and her survival means a plummet down the social ladder to a position no woman has yet been able to keep: housekeeper to a frighteningly formidable prince.


The bold and gentle Elise sees past his battered body into Philippe's barricaded heart . . . and her innate sensuality ignites his blood. Now a man who thought he could never love and a woman who thought she would never again trust must fight an incendiary passion that could be the ruin of them both!

Winner of Inspirational Romance


Kristi Ann Hunter

Kristi Ann Hunter graduated from Georgia Tech with a degree in Computer Science but always knew she wanted to write. Kristi is an RWA Golden Heart contest winner, an ACFW Genesis contest winner, and a Georgia Romance Writers Maggie Award for Excellence winner. She lives with her husband and three children in Georgia. Find her online at www.kristiannhunter.com.

For her book:

A Noble Masquerade 
by Kristi Ann Hunter

Lady Miranda Hawthorne acts every inch the lady, but inside she longs to be bold and carefree. Entering her fourth Season and approaching spinsterhood in the eyes of society, she pours her innermost feelings out not in a diary but in letters to her brother's old school friend, a duke--with no intention of ever sending these private thoughts to a man she's heard stories about but never met. Meanwhile, she also finds herself intrigued by Marcus, her brother's new valet, and although she may wish to break free of the strictures that bind her, falling in love with a servant is more of a rebellion than she planned.

When Marcus accidentally discovers and mails one of the letters to her unwitting confidant, Miranda is beyond mortified. And even more shocked when the duke returns her note with one of his own that initiates a courtship-by-mail. Insecurity about her lack of suitors shifts into confusion at her growing feelings for two men--one she's never met but whose words deeply resonate with her heart, and one she has come to depend on but whose behavior is more and more suspicious. When it becomes apparent state secrets are at risk and Marcus is right in the thick of the conflict, one thing is certain: Miranda's heart is far from all that's at risk for the Hawthornes and those they love. 

Winner of Short Contemporary Romance


Sarah M. Anderson

Award-winning author Sarah M. Anderson may live east of the Mississippi River, but her heart lies out west on the Great Plains. With a lifelong love of horses and two history teachers for parents, she had plenty of encouragement to learn everything she could about the tribes of the Great Plains.

When she started writing, it wasn’t long before her characters found themselves out in South Dakota among the Lakota Sioux. She loves to put people from two different worlds into new situations and to see how their backgrounds and cultures take them someplace they never thought they’d go. Sarah writes for both Harlequin Desire and Samhain Publishing.

Sarah won the RT Reviewer’s Choice Best Desire of 2012 for A Man of Privilege and accepted the award in person in Kansas City at the RT Convention on May 3, 2013.

Combining snarky humor with shirtless cowboys on horseback, Sarah strives to raise awareness of the realities of life on Lakota Indian reservations. She uses proper Lakota translations when her characters speak their native language.

Sarah lives in Illinois with her husband, son, and rescue dogs. She is a writer and editor at Mark Twain Media, Inc., an educational publishing company. When not chasing her son around or writing, she attempts to read, knit, and complete home improvement projects on her historical 1895 Queen Anne house.



The Nanny Plan
by Sarah M. Anderson

This billionaire bachelor has a baby challenge…

Being a father to his orphaned infant niece is out of this tech billionaire’s comfort zone. Lucky for Nate Longmire, Trish Hunter is a natural at motherhood, and she’s agreed to be his temporary nanny. But long glances, slow kisses and not-so-innocent touches are strictly off-limits…

Trish’s goal is to help Nate in exchange for a big donation to her charity for Lakota kids. Falling for her bachelor boss—and his adorable baby girl—is not part of the plan. But when the month is up, will she be able to walk away?

Winner of Mid-Length Contemporary Romance


Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy

Sarina Bowen is a USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance. She lives in Vermont's Green Mountains with her family, six chickens and too much ski gear and hockey equipment.

Elle Kennedy is a New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author who grew up in the suburbs of Toronto, Ontario, and holds a B.A. in English from York University. From an early age, she knew she wanted to be a writer, and actively began pursuing that dream when she was a teenager.

Elle currently writes for various publishers. She loves strong heroines and sexy alpha heroes, and just enough heat and danger to keep things interesting!

For their book:


Him 
by Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy

They don’t play for the same team. Or do they?

Jamie Canning has never been able to figure out how he lost his closest friend. Four years ago, his tattooed, wise-cracking, rule-breaking roommate cut him off without an explanation. So what if things got a little weird on the last night of hockey camp the summer they were eighteen? It was just a little drunken foolishness. Nobody died.

Ryan Wesley’s biggest regret is coaxing his very straight friend into a bet that pushed the boundaries of their relationship. Now, with their college teams set to face off at the national championship, he’ll finally get a chance to apologize. But all it takes is one look at his longtime crush, and the ache is stronger than ever.

Jamie has waited a long time for answers, but walks away with only more questions—can one night of sex ruin a friendship? If not, how about six more weeks of it? When Wesley turns up to coach alongside Jamie for one more hot summer at camp, Jamie has a few things to discover about his old friend...and a big one to learn about himself.

Warning: contains sexual situations, skinnydipping, shenanigans in an SUV and proof that coming out to your family on social media is a dicey proposition.

Winner of Best First Book


Pintip Dunn

Pintip Dunn's first-grade teacher asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up, she replied, “An author.” Although she has pursued other interests over the years, her dream of becoming an author has never wavered.

She graduated from Harvard University, magna cum laude, with an A.B. in English Literature and Language. She received her J.D. at Yale Law School, where she was an editor of the YALE LAW JOURNAL. She published an article in the YALE LAW JOURNAL, entitled, “How Judges Overrule: Speech Act Theory and the Doctrine of Stare Decisis,” and received the Barry S. Kaplan Prize for best paper in Law and Literature.

For her book:


Forget Tomorrow 
by Pintip Dunn

Imagine a world where your destiny has already been decided...
by your future self. 

It's Callie’s seventeenth birthday and, like everyone else, she's eagerly awaiting her vision―a memory sent back in time to sculpt each citizen into the person they're meant to be. A world-class swimmer. A renowned scientist. 

Or in Callie's case, a criminal. 

In her vision, she sees herself murdering her gifted younger sister. Before she can process what it means, Callie is arrested and placed in Limbo―a hellish prison for those destined to break the law. With the help of her childhood crush, Logan, a boy she hasn’t spoken to in five years, she escapes. 

But on the run from her future, as well as the government, Callie sets in motion a chain of events that she hopes will change her fate. If not, she must figure out how to protect her sister from the biggest threat of all—Callie, herself. 
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To all the winners and nominees.
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