Tuesday, July 27, 2010

'That Perfect Someone' by Johanna Lindsey -Review-

   This one was a nice novel to curl up with on a rainy day and get swept away. It was as action-packed and full of twists and turns as any novel we can expect from Lindsey, and I really liked it. 'That Perfect Someone' wasn't as affecting as some of the other Mallory novels in the series, but it still holds solid merit.
   Julia Miller is shocked to find the battered up face of her elusive fiancee' staring back at her after he left England and disappeared without a trace all those years ago.
   Richard Allen is dangerously in love with the wife of a formidable English nobleman (the beloved James Mallory, see 'Gentle Rogue') and can't help himself when an opportunity to clap eyes on James' wife again comes about.
   He fled England 9 years ago to escape the controlling manipulations of his father, the Earl of Manford, and is now dismayed when his precarious foray back to London puts him face to face with the one woman he detests the most; his fiancee'.

   For 9 long years, Julia Miller and her fortune were held firmly on the shelf. Betrothed practically from infancy, Julia held no illusions as to why her presumable husband-to-be left England and never came back. They threatened each other with consequences of death multiple times, and Julia even managed to draw blood from Richard on more than one occasion when their tempers couldn't be reigned in. Finally determined to put the past behind her and take the reigns of her future, Julia begins to contemplate the best way to rid herself of her troublesome marriage contract to Richard Allen and start her life anew. She hopes for the chance to engage all of society as a woman in search of a husband of her choosing, but fate had other plans.
   At the masquerade ball being thrown in honor of Georgina Mallory's birthday, friends and family from near and far all come together to celebrate. Little do they know, amidst the crush of party-goers, the 'Frenchmen sailor' moving among them is not only a party crasher, but the missing son of an Earl. Richard Allen left home 9 years ago, determined to make it on his own, fell into piracy and came out on the other side of things with the help of his loyal friends. Richard was the second son of the Earl of Manford and once his eldest brother married well-socially-,  it was up to him to marry well-financially-. His father never showed him any semblance of love or affection and tried to control every aspect of Richard's life until one day, he had enough and took matters into his own hands. 
   Back in London for a short visit, Richard tries to avoid detection by both those from his former life and the husband of the woman he is dangerously infatuated with. Suffice to say, nothing goes according to plan and he comes face to fist with James Mallory and face to face with the woman he left behind.
   Julia is in a rage once she discovers Richard is back and she tries to settle the matter of their betrothal before he get the chance to takes off again. When Richard is also discovered by his father, he is given an ultimatum: either marry Julia or be 'taught a lesson' and transported to Australia as a 'convict'. The latter is forced on him when he refuses to marry just to fill his father's pockets, and it is Julia (with the help of a reluctant James Mallory & friends) who saves him from his horrid fate.
   Once Richard is safely off the transport ship, he and Julia come to a 'truce' of sorts and put their differences aside so that they may devise a plan to steal the marriage contract which has ruled their lives thus far and destroy it. The plan was simple: pretend to be in love to gain entry into the Earl's home, search for the contract and dispose of it, and FINALLY move on with their lives. But, as their feelings for each other start to grow more intense, their plan backfired and they now have to face the consequences together. The hero and heroine are both stubborn as mules, but eventually they learn to be honest with themselves and each other and soon realize that they are with their 'Perfect Someone'.

Rating: 3 1/2 Red Roses
My Favorite Part of the Book: Is when Richard is saved from being transported to Australia, and at first has no knowledge that it is Julia who helped put the rescue party together. He says something mean to her and then she gets upset and runs off. The others in the cabin who witness this call him out on his stupidity and he goes after her to try and make things right. In the heat of his apology, some old feelings are stirred up and as Richard comforts Julia, they begin to feel some undeniable sexual tension. The whole sequence of scenes were sweet, sensual and full of emotion and I loved them!
   Overall, you're guaranteed to find something to love about this book. Like the main character's struggle to remember exactly why they hated each other all those years ago, the side plot of Richard's true paternity, or the wonderful cameos by some Mallory series favorites. Towards the end of the novel, it feels as though the story is being prolonged. Once Julia and Richard decide to be honest about their feelings, the whole point of the second ship voyage to the Caribbean is misleading and pointless. I thought something more dramatic was going to happen. The book tried to do a little too much, and some elements weren't developed pace-wise to their full potential, which threw the book off a little, but you'll still find plenty of reasons to finish the book with a smile on your face.

*Why not try one of the earlier novels in the Mallory/Anderson Series, 'Gentle Rogue', Georgina and James' Story!
*And if pirates tales are your poison, try one of Johanna Lindsey's!:'A Pirate's Love'!

My Interview over at BusyMomsWhoLoveToRead book blog!

   Lol yep, that's right! Yours truly was actually the interviewee for a change and did an interview (interrogation-style) over at Busy Moms Who Love To Read (No, I am not a teen mom, sorry MTV. But lovers of books will find something to love on this site whether they change diapers or not). I had the pleasure of meeting the wonderful Pam a.k.a OutnumberedMama during the GotBooks? events (which I hope to be apart of next year) that recently took place in the blog-universe. A few days ago, she contacted me with an email that had a subject bar that read: "I want to interrogate you"...how could I resist?! She asked me all about my love for books, reviewing and all that other good stuff, so make sure you stop by and see what I had to say. (and please comment; I'll subscribe to the post so that way I'll see what YOU thought).

Click 'here' for a link to the Interview: here

*Thanks once again Pam for the exciting opportunity to play VIP and answer your questions!

Just a short shameless plug moment: I have recently added Goodreads to my long list of social networking site I have accounts on. Hopefully you have noticed that I have widgets to the blog's Facebook FanPage, Twitter feeds AND a convenient 'Like' button scattered about on here as well. I will add a goodreads widget soon! I hope YOU will find the time to add, follow, friend, ect me on any/all of these social platforms. I put different content on different sites, so stay fully connected with the blog and the blog's cooky owner (that's me) by adding me on all these sites!!! (and please remember to GFC (Google Friend Connect) follow on the actual Blog right here).:

 -My Goodreads
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The Blog's Facebook FanPage (please 'like')
There's a 'Like' button on the right sidebar under the Twitter widget (just click it !!!!!)
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M.Y.C Day Releases: July 2010 ... One single day, SO many books!

   As all of you know, on the 1st of every month, I come out with a list of anticipated upcoming releases you should definitely add to your bookshelves. A pretty common occurrence I noticed was, that for each month, there always seems to be one day where the number of great new releases are all bundled up. I have taken to calling such days with these occurrences M.Y.C Days. M.Y.C stands for Mark Your Calendar, and should you be hoping to kill multiple birds with one stone, the M.Y.C day is that time to do it.
   In July, the M.Y.C day is Tuesday, July 27th 2010 (TODAY). That day is upon us now, so hire your hackney and mosey on down to ye ole Barnes&Noble to get your copy of the following titles (as featured in the Coming Soon: Anticipated Releases for July 2010):

1.)'Last Night's Scandal' by Loretta Chase
2.)'A Kiss At Midnight' by Eloisa James
 3.)'Three Nights With A Scoundrel' by Tessa Dare
4.)'Swept Away By A Kiss' by Katharine Ashe
5.)'A Highland Duchess' by Karen Ranney

As stated, the titles listed above are ALL being released today! Have fun lugging home your arm full of new releases ;)!

Until Next Post<3...

Monday, July 26, 2010

'At The Duke's Pleasure' by Tracy Anne Warren -Review-

   What an engaging novel! The beginning had me hooked and the ending solidified this author in my ever-growing list of 'author's to look-out for'. I enjoyed the zany plots by the heroine to get out of a marriage she thinks will break her, and the hero slowly letting go of his 'ducal mask' so that he can embrace his love before it's too late.
   Claire Marsden was scarcely out of the womb before her father and the previous Duke of Clybourne came to an 'understanding' concerning their eldest children. They were to be married, and all Claire's life, she had been brought up and prepared for her future life as a duchess. It isn't until she realizes her fiancee' has no intention of trying to make a love match from the union that she decides if she can't have his heart, she doesn't want his last name.
   Claire has to pull out all the stops if she wants to end this damnable marriage, but Edward Byron won't let her out of it that easy. He tries to be lenient with her as she acts out, but can't understand her maddening resistances to the marriage; or how she suddenly became the most important thing in his life.

[Read an excerpt: here]

   The duke's son was a pragmatic and mature youngster for all his age of 10 years old. The Byron family make the trip to Nottinghamshire to visit with their good friends, the Marsdens, and little Edward Byron is about to meet the newest addition to the Marsden family. A squirming, red-faced, screaming baby is laid in Edward's arms and a few seconds later, he is informed that he is holding his future wife. Shocked and dismayed, Edward already sees Claire Marsden as an 'obligation' and is set in his ways to do what is expected of him and leave it at that.
   Claire on the other hand, had different ideas when it came to what kind of marriage she wanted. She didn't just want to be wedded one day and carted off to the country to be forgotten the next. At the age of 16, during one of her rare visits with her betrothed, Claire overhears him talking about her (speaking of her as if she were a child 'barley out of leading strings' and his having no intention of falling in love with her) and her fairy tale romance is quickly spun into a horrid nightmare.
   At 33, Edward finally decides he is ready to follow up on his duty to marry Claire. He visits her at her home, is pleasantly surprised by her transformation into a full-grown and attractive woman, and equally stunned by her adamant desire not to be wed. He believes Clarie is upset about having to miss out on all the society functions because she was already promised to a duke and her father saw no reason to 'waste' money on a come-out. He speaks to Claire's father and volunteers to finance her trip to London. She will soon find herself in the whirlwind of the season and in a boat load of scandalous ploys aimed at extricating herself from an inevitably loveless marriage.
   Through Claire's numerous and notorious escapades during the season, Edward indulges her and is patient and lenient when most men would have buckled under the embarrassment and freed her from the marriage contract. Somewhere down the road, he finds himself falling in love with the woman he is to wed and isn't pleased about it. Like most men in historicals, Edward has some unconvincing 'reason' for wanting to keep love separate from marriage, but fate had other things in mind. His secret work for the crown as a spy soon puts his curious Claire in mortal danger, and he will have to find a way to face his feelings and allow happiness back into his life before it's too late.

Rating: 3 1/2 Red Roses
My Favorite Part of the Book: Is the beginning, where Edward and his family are visiting the Marsdens and he is given the newborn Claire to hold. You can sense the tension in the scene like something major is about to happen. Baby Claire was wailing and squirming and acting like any baby would, and Edward had some pretty funny commentary about that. Once the baby is settled in his arms, however, she quiets up and Edward beings to see the more charming qualities babies possess. It is all ruin though, when Edward is inform that the infant he is holding is his fiancee'. I couldn't stop laughing and marveling in the brilliance of this particular scene. And it happened right at the start, so the book had me hooked from page 1!
   Overall, this was an excellent read. I couldn't get over how marvelous it was in the beginning, and how fast I became a Tracy Anne Warren fan. Her writing style is superb and easy to follow. It had a flow to it that made each page turn itself. Some con's to this novel would have to be the annoying traits of some of the characters. Flaws are an important part to any novel's characters, but I found myself rolling my eyes at Claire's back and forth between whiny young miss and level-headed maverick. Her character was great at some points, a bit trying at others, and Edward's reason for staving off love wasn't overwhelmingly compelling, but at the end of the book, I was in love. I also enjoyed the ending as well. So many authors would have gone the other direction just to avoid cliche' and predictability, but the story was all the better for Warren's biting the bullet (kind of literally) and it was one of the high points in the story for me (a reason I may just have to re-read).

*And also check out the next book in the series, 'Wicked Delights In A Bridal Bed', Mallory's story! My Review can be found: here
-And check out my Interview with Tracy Anne Warren where she talks all about WDOABB and more!: here

 *Or give one of the other novels from  The Byrons of Braebourne Series a read!:
'Four Dukes And A Devil' (Novella)
'Tempted by His Kiss'
'Seduced By His Touch'

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Recommendation of the Week: 07/25/10 - 08/01/10

'Knight Of Desire' by Margaret Mallory
His surcoat still bloody from battle, William FitzAlan comes to claim the strategic borderlands granted to him by the king. One last prize awaits him at the castle gates: the lovely Lady Catherine Rayburn.
Catherine risked everything to spy for the crown. Her reward? Her lands are declared forfeit and she is given this choice: marry FitzAlan or be taken to the Tower. Catherine agrees to give her handsome new husband her body, but she’s keeping secrets and dares not give him her heart. As passion ignites and danger closes in, Catherine and William must learn to trust in each other to save their marriage, their land, and their very lives." Source
[Read an excerpt: here]

-I enjoyed this novel immensley! Margaret Mallory made an instant fan out of me with this one! An excellent debut novel by an author I am sure you will hear a lot from in the coming years! My review is coming soon (for all three novels in the series so far)! Do yourself a favor and read this one!

-Read a review by A Journey Of Books: here
-Read a review by The Book Queen's Palace: here

This is your Recommendation for the week of July 25th, 2010 thru August 1st, 2010

Until Next Post<3...

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Making of Rita's Harem: Manservant #001-Barry Pepper

   As many of us readers of romance, historicals in particular, know, a fondly and widely used element in our beloved love stories is 'The Harem'. For those of you who don't know, a harem is a secluded section in a house (usually in the palace of some foreign ruler) used to harbor women. These enclosures are usually forbidden to all men (except eunuchs) and the 'master'. Pretty much, it's a place where men of means stow away their sex slaves.
   Wikipedia defines it as: 
"Harem (Turkish, from Arabic حرم ḥaram 'forbidden place; sacrosanct, sanctum', related to حريم ḥarīm 'a sacred inviolable place; female members of the family' and حرام ḥarām, 'forbidden; sacred') refers to the sphere of women in a usually polygynous household and their quarters which is enclosed and forbidden to men. It originated in the Near East and came to the Western world via the Ottoman"
   While us ladies may take exception to this outright form of objectification and oppression, we can't resist swooning when the handsome hero-savior swoops in and saves the heroine from such a damnable fate.
    But politics aside, a place where I could 'store' sexy men and have my way with them sounds decidedly alluring! Since there are probably several laws and an amendment or two in the Constitution prohibiting the ACTUAL retention of human beings against their will for ones personal use, it's time to step into Rita's land of make believe ;)

Here's Manservant #001 from Rita's Harem ;) !
Barry Pepper 
Barry has one of the most intoxicating bone structures I've ever seen!
Competition only to maybe Daniel Craig (another manservant to be added to the Harem).
I personally find his perpetual scowl and arrogant confidence a major turn on,
but when he smiles, it just transforms his faces and robs me of breath!

He is especially gorgeous in military and war movies. I first fell in love with him
while watching 'Saving Private Ryan' and I will never forget the shock I felt my first
time watching it and seeing Barry's charcter get blown up =(.
He oozes masculinity and war movies are the
perfect places to see it in all its exuberance.

I added this picture because you can really see his overwhelming manliness!
Look at him not giving a 'hoot'.
He reminds me of the quintessential devil-may-care rake hell! Just look at him! *sigh*
And finally, we can't forget those piercing blue eyes! I imagine
Sebastian St.Vincent from 'Devil In Winter'
may have had eyes similar to these.

Barry has a unique physicality. His strong features only work in certain instances. If he losses to much weight or grows his hair out, he is decidedly less-appealing (in my opinion), but overall, I can't resist this sexy war hero ;)

Send me your suggestions for sexy men and maybe I'll find a way
to steal them and add them to Barry's ranks!

*Acknowledgments to Kate(babs) from Babbling about Books and More with her recent twitter status and Gaelen Foley with her recent 'men as gifts' event on Avon Romance Blog for giving me the incentive and push to follow through on this long ago idea. Even I worry about going to far sometimes with my spotlight posts, but this is all in good fun and in the name of pleasant sights for the eyes, so enjoy!

Monday, July 19, 2010

5 Memorable Quotes

"You seem to think you have a choice," Cam said "But you have it backwards. Love chooses you. The shadow moves as the sun commands."-Married By Morning' by Lisa Kleypas, pg.119

"Please" she said. "Let us begin as we mean to go on. Let us always be honest with each other."- One little Sin by:Liz Carlyla; pg.IDk

"....and wintry ice-blue eyes, and a mouth made for kisses and lies"- Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas

"A kiss, I am learning, is a weak palliative when one's heart is breaking..."- To catch an heiress by Julia Quinn pg.186
"No matter how clever or sophisticated a man may appear, he is merely clay waiting to be shaped by the hand of a superior woman. It is, however, best not to let him know this."- Love With A Proper Husband by Victoria Alexander, pg.141

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Recommendation of the Week: 7/18/10 - 7/25/10

'Taming Her Irish Warrior' by Michelle Willingham
"When did Ewan MacEgan grow to be so overwhelmingly strong and disarmingly sexy? He intends to wed Honora St. Leger's demure sister--but why should that matter to her? Honora would rather wield a sword than a mending needle and, as a widow, she knows there is little pleasure in the marriage bed....

Ewan MacEgan has set his sights on a wealthy bride but, tantalizingly, he finds himself drawn to the forbidden Honora! One touch and he is longing to awaken her sensuality, for he suspects she will be as passionate in bed as she is on the battlefield!
[Read an excerpt: here]
Read a review by The Romance Reader: here
Read a review by Medieval Book Reviews: here

This is your Recommendation for the Week of July 18th, 2010 thur July 25th, 2010

Until Next Post<3...

Friday, July 16, 2010

Coffee Shop Conversations: Q&A with Author Gina Holmes

Hello all you fabulous Dames, and welcome to Coffee Shop Conversations!
On this segment of the blog I will be conducting interviews with Authors, Bloggers and anyone else relative to the literary world willing to answer my questions. Coffee Shops are great places to just relax, let the hair down and talk about life, love and good books! So without further adieu, let's get to chatting with my special guest:

Author Gina Holmes

In 1998, Gina Holmes began her career penning articles and short stories. In 2005 she founded the influential literary blog, Novel Journey. She holds degrees in science and nursing and currently resides with her husband and children in Southern Virginia. Her debut novel, Crossing Oceans released April/May 2010 with Tyndale House Publishers. To learn more about her, visit: www.ginaholmes.com or www.noveljourney.blogspot.com

 Gina Holmes on the web: Facebook | Twitter | Website | Blog: Novel Journey 

Gina's Latest Release:
'Crossing Oceans'

(released May 2010)

Sometimes love demands the impossible
   "Nothing deepens a stream like a good rain . . . or makes it harder to cross.Jenny Lucas swore she’d never go home again. But life has a way of upending even the best-laid plans. Now, years after she left, she and her five-year-old daughter must return to her sleepy North Carolina town to face the ghosts she left behind. They welcome her in the form of her oxygen tank-toting grandmother, her stoic and distant father, and David, Isabella’s dad . . . who doesn’t yet know he has a daughter.
   As Jenny navigates the rough and unknown waters of her new reality, the unforgettable story that unfolds is a testament to the power of love to change everything—to heal old hurts, to bring new beginnings . . . even to overcome the impossible.

-Read an excerpt: here
-My Review of 'Crossing Oceans' can be found: here
Get Your Copy Today:

RJ: Hey Gina! I am so glad you could stop by and chat. First off, congratulations! Your new book, 'Crossing Oceans', just debuted in May 2010. What have the past few months been like; with the post release promotion and all the feedback you've received (Lots of praise and acclaim from what I read)? What have you experienced emotionally as well as professionally with this book?
GH:Thanks so much, Rita. It's been quite a roller-coaster ride, that's for sure. One day I'm getting a letter from a reader that my novel was the most beautiful book they'd ever written and it changed her life, the next reading a review from someone that said it was sappy and they hated it. A few days ago it looked like my Amazon sales were dropping off and the next I see I've made it on the CBA best sellers list. Good thing I have a strong stomach with all of these ups and downs. It is, of course, the nature of the business.
RJ: Why don't you tell me and the readers a little about your journey to being published. You've been writing for over a decade, how did it all start for you and how did you get here?
GH:You can read the longer version if you go to www.ginaholmes.com and click the "press" tab. There's a link there to how it all went, but the short story is:
A 17 year old at my church was talking about writing her 2nd novel and I thought if she could do it, so could I. I read somewhere that if you wrote one page a day, at the end of a year, you'd have a novel. I wasn't sure if I had it in me to write a novel, but one page a day I could do. It wouldn't take me that long though. At the end of 6 weeks I had a rough draft of my first novel. It was terrible of course but at least it gave me the confidence to know it could be done. I joined critique groups, read every how to book I could get my hands on, went to writer's conferences, read and wrote.
Five novels later, I had my first contract which was for Crossing Oceans.
RJ: You run the successful blog Novel Journey, what significance does it hold to you?
GH:Novel Journey started as a way to build a platform back in 2005. While it seemed my writing wasn't being blessed with great success, the website was. We were named twice as one of Writer's Digests best sites for writers. I figured as long as God was blessing that website, it was the least I could do to keep it going. The site is to me a way to get the word out about great books and authors, and to educate people who may know nothing about Christian fiction about the genre. It's not what it used to be. There are authors every bit as excellent as some of the best secular authors and you can find novels that tackle every subject from incest to murder, divorce to infidelity. If you haven't checked out Christian fiction in awhile, you may be surprised to find it's not all Amish and prairie romance, though we certainly do still have a large number of those. There's something for every taste now.
RJ: Why don't you tell us a little bit about your debut novel, 'Crossing Oceans'?
GH:Everyone's telling me it's a tear-jerker, and that's no surprise to me. I cried every time I had to edit certain chapters. The basic premise is that it's about a young woman who has to return home, face the ghosts of her past and tell the man she left behind that he's about to inherit a daughter he didn't know he had.
RJ: The presences of spirituality is strong in this novel. How has your faith played into this book and your other books?
GH:I'm a Christian. Not a perfect one. I'm a sinner and I've messed up and fallen again and again. Because my faith is so much a part of who I am, it seeps out into everything I do-what I wear, what I listen to and watch, etc, it is only natural that it leaks into my work. I don't think you have to be a Christian to enjoy what I write because it's not preachy and there are no pat answers or characters. I struggle with questions within my faith and my characters are as imperfect as I am. I love God and I would hate it if you couldn't tell that from what I write.
RJ: What challenges or difficulties did you face with the writing of this particular novel?
GH:When I started it, my husband had filed for divorce. I believe it was that pain and worry for my children and myself that I was working out in writing it. Because I wasn't in the best of places emotionally, and because of the difficult subject matter, I cried a lot while writing it. I struggled with the blues but ultimately hope in my own life and in the character's won out. It's a very hopeful book despite the tough subject matter.
RJ: Where did the inspirations for the plot, characters and setting come from?
GH:The divorce I think was part of the inspiration, though I didn't realize it until after it was written. The characters are a mixture of people I know and my own imagination. Each has a little of me, both good qualities and bad. Mama Peg was based loosely on my own grandmother. She had died recently and I missed her terribly. Writing Mama Peg helped me bring her back for the time it took to write Crossing Oceans.
RJ: The writing process differs from author to author. Some are planners, others just jump right in. Some consider themselves night writers, while others need daylight and a park bench or a coffee shop (wink) to set the mood for creativity; whats your writing process like?
GH:I have 5 children and a day job, so I have to be flexible. I can write almost anywhere, though I'm definitely more creative during the morning hours. I'm part planner and part seat of the pants. I start with a premise of the story, start asking what it..., anything to make it as hard for the character as possible, then I start thinking of who the characters are, I write a few chapters, then very loosely outline a few more. Sometimes I can plot the book start to finish, mostly I have to do it as I go.
RJ: Romance has transcended many different sectors of pop culture. I think the Beatles said it best, "All you need is love". This being a Romance Blog, I've got to ask: what are some of your favorite pop culture romance picks for the following: Favorite Love Song? Favorite Scent on a man? Favorite Romantic Comedy? and of course, Favorite Romance Novel?
GH:My favorite love song would be Five for Fightings "If God Made You He's in Love With Me." It's mine and my husband's song. I remarried June 09 to the love of my life. My favorite scent on a man is my husband's natural smell. I don't know if it's pheromones or what but I can't get enough of his scent. Favorite romantic comedy... the one that comes to mind right off is Overboard with Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell. More recently I liked The Proposal with Sandra Bullock. My favorite romance novel, no contest is Jane Eyre.
RJ: What's coming up next for you? (Book-wise or otherwise)
GH:Dry as Rain should be releasing spring 11. It's the story of a married couple who lets misunderstandings and unkind words fall like dominos until the only thing left standing is their pride. There's a good deal of humor in it as well.
RJ:Final Questions: Name something shocking or interesting about yourself that the readers may not know.
GH:I don't know how shocking it is, but I'm a bit of a thrill seekers. I bungee jumped and loved it. Next in line is to sky dive.
A special thanks to Gina Holmes for stopping by! To all the readers, be sure to make use of those links above to better acquaint yourself with this fabulous author! It has been great and I hope all of you have enjoyed this edition of:

Monday, July 12, 2010

'My Lord Jack' by Hope Tarr -Review-

   A well-written and enjoyable Scottish-themed tale with Scot and French fusion. This story is a bit different from the cut-and-dry historicals we are all use to. 'Lord Jack' is an executioner; not some Duke or Viscount with limitless family coffers. And the heroine, Claudia,  is a feisty french women who is far from being the epitome of virginal chastity.  
   Claudia Valemont was the daughter of a courtesan and had became a courtesan herself. When both her mother and protector are beheaded and she next on the guillotine list, she flees for England to search for her father. She is dismayed when her search has her braving the unfamiliar Scottish terrain and is further delayed by a broken wheel on the mail coach she booked passage on for her journey to Linlithgow. It is Jack Campbell- Lord High Executioner for the Crown- whom saves her multiple times from dangerous situations and soon commits a crime of his own. Stealing her heart...

Read an excerpt: here

    Ever since he witnessed  his mothers brutal murder and then watching those responsible receive their due and be executed, Jack Campbell knew that he would become an executioner himself one day. He studied for years and became renowned as one of the best in the land. He has a reputation of dealing swift and effective executions, saving his 'clients' from as much agony as possible. He is appointed the position of Lord High Executioner for the Crown-an honor- even if he seldom encounters anyone who isn't a BIT leery of his profession.
   One day at an Inn, he is approached by a lovely Frenchwoman who mistakes him for a blacksmith and pleads with him to fix the wheel on the mail carriage which brought her thus far and was suppose to take her to Linlithgow. He can't help her with that problem but becomes almost-mezmirized by the stunning foreigner. And when he catches sight of his despicable half-brother, Callum, attacking her, he reacts instinctively and saves the damsel.
    Claudia Valemont has no where left to turn. Both her mother and lover, Philippe where beheaded as a result of the French Revolution and fearing she would be next, she flees to England in search of her father. She was left alone, unprotected and with very little left to her name, so the undertaking is a difficult one. Her frustrations peak as she learns her father, the seventh earl of Aberdaire, is not in London as she previously believed, but in Linlithgow, Scotland. She is further pushed to aggravation when the mail coach transporting her to Linlithgow breaks a wheel and is forced to stop at a coaching inn for the night in some bordering county in Scotland.
   With no money left rent a room at the inn,  Claudia's attempts to spin her fortunes and get the coach on it's way is met with unsuccessful results. As she moves about the coaching inn searching for another solution, she is 'set upon' by some drunk n'er do wells. A man named Callum McBride tries to accost her, but she is saved by Jack.
   Jack's help to a complete stranger can only span so wide, and when he refuses to take her to Linlithgow, she tries to steal a horse and gets caught. Facing the prospect of the hangman's noose, she is again saved by Jack when he speaks up for her and convinces the judge to spare her the hanging. This time around, however, the rescuing has some long-term effects when Claudia is put in Jack's custody for 6 months.
   She resigns to her fate with the devilishly handsome Scotsman, tries to make the best of the situation (even if he frustrates her heedlessly) and begins to develop feelings for him. Jack isn't immune to Claudia's allure either, despite his insistence on chastity,  and as their connection deepen and the treat against her life at the hands of his half-brother increases, Jack will find himself in the throes of love and passion and will do anything to protect his Claudia.

 Rating: 3 1/2 "Smooches"
My Favorite Part of the Book: Is in the beginning when Claudia first begins staying with Jack. He tries to resist her and keep his carnal thoughts to himself, but one night, Claudia has a nightmare and starts to have a fit. Jack gave up his bed to her when she first started staying in his home and prefers to sleep on the floor; so when she starts to call out in distress, he has to get up and calm her down. After she's had time to compose herself, she asks Jack to stay with her. You start to see Jack's resistance crack as he obliges her. Claudia trustingly curls up besides Jack and I believe this is just the cutest scene!
   This story was fun, exciting and heartfelt. Jack, our unlikely hero, is such a unique character. He has compassion for all forms of life, despite the duties of his job, and it's his carefully masked tender side that will make readers fall in love. Even though the beginning reminded me of a RPG chat room (the damsel in distress in some strange coaching inn), I still liked the plot. The characters can't help but fall in love and with the add hints of danger and a delicious forbidden quality, 'My Lord Jack' is an excellent read for any rainy day and beyond!

[*re-released in ebook format by Carina Press]

[a special thanks to Hope Tarr for sending the EPUB file for review]
*Also check out Tarr's next Carina Press re-release, 'A Rogue's Pleasure'

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Recommendation of the Week: 07/11/10 - 07/18/10

A Most Sinful Proposal by Sara Bennett
"A most wicked education...
Marissa Rotherhild has always behaved exactly as a proper lady should, and it has done absolutely nothing for her. So now she has made a most sinful proposal. She wants to live only for pleasure, and she wants Lord Valentine Kent to instruct her in the ways of love and lust. Caring not for scandal or the whispers of society, she craves his every wanton touch.
It is every rake’s fantasy.
Lord Valentine Kent has never before been so tempted. Though he is every bit the gentleman, from the moment Marissa arrives at his country estate he can think of nothing but her wild, dark curls and luscious curves. But submitting to passion must wait until he completes the search for an ancestral treasure.
It is a most honorable endeavor.
But Kent and Marissa will soon discover that even the best of intentions is no match for a desire as desperate as theirs . . ."Source
[Read an excerpt: here]
This is your Recommendation for the week of July 11, 2010 thru July 18th, 2010
Until Next Post<3...

Wiiner Announcement: Jennifer Ashley back list title Giveaway

Congratulations to:


Upon commenting and entering into the Jennifer Ashley back list book Giveaway, all those who entered were given specific slot numbers (if you followed the instructions to get extra entries, your extra slots were added and given numbers as well). JenM's number was randomly selected by random.org, so that makes her our winner!

The winner has been sent an email to the address listed in their entry. Please follow the instructions and send the necessary information to claim your prize. If the current winner fails to respond by July 16th 2010, a re-drawing will take place and another entry will be selected.

Again, thanks to all of you who participated!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

'Crossing Oceans' by Gina Holmes -Review-

   A singularly incredible book! 'Crossing Oceans' was a deeply affecting and moving story about limitless and unconditional love. This debut novel by author Gina Holmes is a must-read. There was a ball in my throat for the majority of this book, and once I finished it, I couldn't believe the degree of emotions I experienced.
   Genevieve Lucas thought she left behind her troubled past and dysfunctional relationships in North Carolina for good. But when circumstances beyond her control forces her to return home and settle some things, almost nothing goes according to plan. Terminally ill, with just a few months left to live and her 'father-less' 5 year-old  daughter's future to secure, Jenny will have to reluctantly rely on her none-to-perfect family.
   The past threatens the future, an unlikely relationship will form, and lessons in forgiveness and letting go will take center stage. But when it comes down to it, all you need to know is that a mother's love is ever-lasting; even from across the ocean.

Read an excerpt: here

Book Trailer:

   Nearly six years ago, Jenny Lucas had her heart broken by her ex-boyfriend David Preston. He said it just wouldn't work out for them, but little did he know, she was carrying his child. Sooner or later SOMETHING would have to work between them, but as determined as Jenny was to keep David out of little Isabella's life, circumstances would ultimately force her hand on the matter.
   She left behind all that hurt, both David's rejection and  her father's emotional neglect, and re-established her life elsewhere. But now, six years later, she has to go back to the place that harbors so many unpleasant memories.
   The fact of the matter is that Jenny was dying. Diagnosed with metastatic melanoma, a form of cancer that had already begun to spread throughout her body, Jenny knew she would soon face the same fate as her own mother had. She hadn't told anyone besides her 'Mama Peg' about her illness and didn't know how she would go about informing her father. She knew Jack Lucas hadn't been the same man he was once he lost his beloved wife to cancer, his stoic and guarded demeanor driving a wedge between father and daughter ever since, but unless she wanted to tell David of the child she had bared and hidden from him for all these years, her father was her only choice.
   Initial cynical of his daughter's sudden reappearance, and curious about the granddaughter he didn't get the chance to know before they both left,  Jack probes for answers and eventually storms out of the family home in a temper. He knows David would be the only logical guess for being Isabella's father, and having blamed David's father for misdiagnosing his wife and causing her death, he was not happy about the revelation whatsoever. When he returns home hours later all battered-up and it's discovered that he had went to speak with David's father about Isabella, Jenny knows that it is only a matter of time before David finds out. She sets out to find him so she can tell him the truth before his father can reach him, but the meeting doesn't bode well. She briefly encounters David with his wife at their home, has a nasty argument with him, and leaves before she has a chance to tell him about Isabella. Eventually, David starts to seek out Jenny and learn more about the daughter he never knew he had.
   Even with all that drama going on, the persistent, yet soothing presences of Jenny's old high school friend starts to take a turn toward something more than a renewed friendship. Craig Allen, now living in the saddle barn on her father's property, has always had a crush on Jenny. Even though he knows she's dying, he can't help but be attracted to her and want to be with her. The relationship is hard on Jenny, because she wants him just as badly, but knows she will never have him. While Craig tries to coax Jenny into living the last few months of her life to the fullest, David proves to be a huge distraction, as he fights for visitation and soon custody of his daughter.
   The final months of Jenny Lucas' life are filled with trials and acceptance, new experiences and harsh realities, and when given the chance to do one last thing to ease Isabella's transition into her new life without her mommy, Jenny makes the ultimate sacrifice and then we all will understand the real meaning of love.

-Rating- 5 Smooches -Rating-
My Favorite Part of the Book: (not my favorite because its so sad, but most memorable) Is when Jenny is explaining that she will die soon to her daughter. Isabella's  innocence and confusion just make the difficult talk almost unbearable. The analogy and purpose for the title 'Crossing Oceans' comes into play here as well. It was beautifully done and emotionally jarring to read through.
   This is a romance blog, and you should be use to my recounting of sexy tales filled with sensual bliss. But the main reason why we read romances is because, at the end of the day, through all of the grouping and caressing, the Hero LOVES the heroine and it's beautiful in it's genuineness. This book brought us through many forms of love, most specifically that of a mother for her daughter. Jenny and Craig's relationship was short lived but poignant, and Jenny's love for her daughter was the catalyst of the story that will bring tears to your eyes. 'Crossing Oceans' was more than just a book; it was a lesson on life. After reading this novel, I wanted to be a better person. Only great novels can evoke that feeling in a reader. Whether the lessons from this book stay with me forever or not is an indeterminable question, but its importance is indisputable. It was inspiring and tear-jerking and amazingly liberating. This book will make you reevaluate the priorities in your life and appreciate the blessings you have today. Do yourself a favor and read this book!

[special thanks to Gina Holmes for sending a review copy]

*More from Gina Holmes will be coming in Spring 2011! 'Dry As Rain'

Friday, July 9, 2010

Guilty Pleasures: #0001

Gluttony is one of the seven deadly sins... But, as us readers of romance know, sinning feels SO damn good. Most of my guilty pleasures are creamy, chocolaty, and calorie-filled. I will attempt to name 1000 guilty pleasures of mine and yours throughout the next year or so (maybe longer) in this new segment of the blog: Guilty Pleasures. I encourage you all to share yours with me as well and if they are really good, I may spotlight your pick! Just send an email!

Guilty Pleasure: #0001
Strawberry Coolatta (from Dunkin Donuts)
Firstly, I can't go more than a week without this delicious monstrosity of strawberry goodness. And of course, I order mine with whipped cream (why do you persist in ask me cashier lady,  yes I want whipped cream in my coolatta.......just like I want icing on my cakes and gas in my car..Jeez). It's sweet & tart and just slides over your taste buds.

Strawberry Fruit Bar (Popsicles)
I <3 fruit bars! Original, I never touched the stuff, but then my mother bought one from a local corner store and it was hot.....and I was hungry & desprate and........well , suffice to say my mother didn't get a chance to eat her fruit bar and I got hooked on the stuff. There are delicious chunks of real, fresh strawberries littering the bar and the syrup-like juice that drips from it as it melts is HEAVENLY! My mouth is watering right now!

Strawberry Fruit Snacks
Fruit snacks aren't just for the kiddies. I keep either Welch's fruit snacks or lifesaver gummies in my purse at all times. I munch and munch on these little strawberry poppers and next thing you know I get 'the gummy guts' (gummy guts- when you eat too much fruity, gummy candies). I can never resist!

Crush Strawberry Soda
I can never get enough of this drink! There is one made by C&C soda as well, but Crush is the best!

Plain ole' Strawberries
The almighty strawberry. I'll take it dipped in chocolate, whipped cream, dirt, salt (okay, maybe not dirt or salt). But I like it best when it is plain. I admit to a fair amount of dislike for the fruit at an early age. To be honest, I never understood how someone could eat it plain or stand it's tartness or the millions upon millions of seeds on the outside. I thought the same way about tomatoes, too. How could someone eat these things just raw, I would think to myself. But I acquired a taste for strawberries and one day, when I picked up a strawberry from the package left open on the kitchen table, I bit into it and loved it. My Advice: Don't knock it till you try it!

I hope you enjoyed reading about my vices today =) I encourage you to email me yours for future posts!

Until Next Post<3...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

'Seducing An Angel' by Mary Balogh -Review-

   A tumultuous and tender love story. As is with Mary Balogh, there was that classic refined quality to this piece of work that just enhanced the story. You could feel the eloquence of each paragraph as it oozed historical-goodness (admittedly, that sentence lacked a bit of eloquence itself). Cassandra was near-destitute with 4 hangers-on (including Roger, the faithful dog) to look out for. All were doomed to face unrelenting poverty if she couldn't find a way to provide for them. After the marriage from hell abruptly ended after 9 years, and Cassandra saw accusations of being an Axe-murder laid at her door, she knew only one line of work would be open to her. That of a mistress. With nowhere left to go and little money to meet next week's rent, Cassandra devises a plan to crash a ton ball and meet a wealthy protector, little does she know, an angel in need of seducing is what she'll get.

Read an excerpt: here

   Alice had been Cassandra's governess turned companion for a very long time now. At the age of 42, employment for the 'old' woman who was more of a mother than Cassandra has ever known or could ever part with was an unrealistic option. Mary was the unmarried cook, housekeeper, and maid for Cassandra, and Mary's 4 year old daughter, Belinda, was a bright light in a dark place. No one would hire Mary as long as she insisted on keeping her daughter with her. And finally, Roger, who so valiantly defended Cassandra (the details of which will be revealed towards the end of the book) and was carried away badly maimed and so close to the doorstep of death, would probably never find another owner to love and cherish him as Cassandra did.
   They all loved her, and she loved them, and Cassandra knew she was the only one who could save them. 9 years in an abusive marriage nearly tore Cassandra apart, and in reality, the mask of indifferent cynicism she wore could directly be attributed to those years of abuse.
   When her husband is found dead in their library with no witness nor evidence to conclusively incriminate anyone, let alone her, Cassandra will still face unyielding public censure as she tried to embrace her independence. Fanciful retellings of rumors with no substantial bases will brand Cassandra an Axe-murder, and when her husband's heir and eldest son from his first marriage threatens to have charges brought up against Cassandra if she tries to collect on her much needed settlement, destitution is not far off into the distance.
   Determined to provide for herself and those whom depend on her, Cassandra is convinced that she must become some wealthy aristocrat's mistress. She crashes Lady Sheringford's ball to scout for potential protectors, and is surprised to find that the hostess herself and her family are good-natured people who forgo treating her with disdain and try to make her feel welcome (even if it's just to do damage control). The brother of her hostess, Stephen Huxtable, the Earl of Merton, caught her eye the previous day while she walked in the park, now he was at the ball and Cassandra made her choice to pursue this 'angel' of a man.
   Stephen is initially leery of Cassandra's forthright declaration of trying to seduce him. They dance, enjoy supper, and she volunteers his services to escort her home. It is very clear that she wants to have sex with him, but the morning after they share some delicious intimacies, she's ready to talk business and Stephen is not sure what he wants to do. Some unknown forces make him relent to Cassandra's wishes and he agrees to the arrangement.
   Cassandra's unceremonious offering of herself and speaking so blatantly about the use of her body , which Stephen's "paying well enough for", induces him to cut the arrangement short (just after the second night) and re-strategize a way to help Cassandra get back into society.
   The path to healing proves to be a dubious one, but our fair angel Stephen can't help but try and help Cassandra. He brings JOY into her life with their few outings and soon the attraction takes a deeper route and solidifies a mutual love. Truths are revealed, a sweet but public kiss results in a hurried proclamation of engagement, Cassandra fights her feelings for Stephen (and for her freedom), but she'll soon find out that love is the ultimate liberation.

-Rating- 4 1/2 Smooches -Rating-
My Favorite Part of the Book: Is when Cassandra and Stephen get caught up in the moment and share a kiss on a terrace during a ball, in visible sight. Quick thinking has Stephen blurting out that Cassandra accepted his proposal of marriage so he lost his head for a second with joy and that's why he kissed her. Cassandra, once out of the public eye, stays steadfast in her desire to never marry again, but she must keep up pretenses for the time being to avoid more scandal. In all of the romances I have read where a kiss is witness and marriage must follow after, I've never seen it done like this before and I thought it was really genius.
   This book was lovely! There were deep emotions and heavy themes which threaten to weigh the plot down in darkness, but Balogh cleverly inserted an ever-present current of hope and strength which succeeds in endearing this book to the reader. I enjoy a good pregnancy in a story, even if most readers feel most authors just throw it in just to throw it in. Cassandra's revelation towards the end of the book was a twist I literally didn't see coming. She had suffered multiple miscarriages in the past at the hands of her abusive husband, and the fear and joy felt with this scenario just tugged at my heart strings. In this novel, the heroine was 28 and the hero was 25, and I thought that would put a damper on the book somewhat for me. But it was well done and 'Seducing An Angel' is an excellent read!

*Also check out the first novel in The Huxtable Series and where we first encounter a 17 year old Stephen, 'First Comes Marriage', Vanessa and Elliot's story!
Read an excerpt for 'First Comes Marriage': here

*Also by Mary Balogh, a consummate classic and one of my favorite novels, 'Slightly Married'
Read an excerpt for 'Slightly Married': here

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Coffee Shop Conversations: Q&A and a Giveaway with author Jennifer Ashley

Hello all you fabulous dames, and welcome to Coffee Shop Conversations!
Under this segment of the blog, I will be conducting interviews with Authors, Bloggers and anyone else relative to the literary world willing to answer my questions. The coffee shop is symbolic in the literary world as being the place where a lot of the magic happens. We write, converse and even (dare I mention it) eat/drink in these crowded, noisy, but strangely cozy, watering-holes. Coffee Shops are great places to just relax, let the hair down and talk about life, love and good books! So without further adieu, let's get to chatting with my special guest:

Author Jennifer Ashley

USA Today Bestselling author Jennifer Ashley has lived and traveled all over the world, and now lives in the Southwest. She writes historical, paranormal, and contemporary romance, historical mystery, and historical mainstream fiction. She writes as Jennifer Ashley and also under the pen names Ashley Gardner (mysteries) and Allyson James (paranormal romance).
Jennifer's novels have won RWA's RITA for Best Novel with Romantic Elements (A Lady Raised High), the Golden Quill, RT Reviewer's Choice awards, the Prism award, among others. Jennifer's novels have been also been translated into several European and Asian languages.
Jennifer enjoys writing and reading above all else, but her hobbies include cooking, hiking, playing flute and guitar, painting, and building miniature rooms and dollhouses.Source

Jennifer Ashley on the web: Facebook | Twitter | Blog | Goodreads

Jennifer's Latest Release
'Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage'
(in stores TODAY) 
"Six years ago, eighteen-year-old Lady Isabella Scranton scandalized all of London by eloping the night of her come-out ball with the notorious rake, Lord Mac Mackenzie. After three turbulent years of marriage, she scandalized London once again--this time by leaving him.

Now the reformed Mac has returned, and he wants one thing: Isabella back in his life, his house, his bed. He'll do anything he has to, play any game, as long as he gets her back
Read an excerpt: here
 Get Your Copy Today:
RJ:Hey Jennifer! Thanks so much for stopping by for a little chat. Firstly, congratulations on your new book, 'Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage', in stores as of today! What have the past few months been like; with anticipating the release and the feedback you've received thus far? What have you experienced emotionally as well as professionally with the completion of this new book?
JA:First, thanks for interviewing me! I love being interviewed. :-)
To answer your question: Release day is a bit like the opening night of a play. All the hard work you’ve done for the last year, all the time you’ve gone without vacation or seeing much of your family or doing anything “normal”—everything is suddenly going to pay off. Or will it? Until the book hits the shelves, you never know if a) anyone will actually buy it; b) anyone will actually read it; c) anyone will actually like it. So, it’s like standing in the wings waiting for the curtain to go up, not knowing how your audience will react, or whether there will be an audience at all!

On release day, I always feel a mixture of excitement and accomplishment mixed with the bubbling bile of anxiety. :-)

Every novel release is a debut. You never know what will happen.
RJ:Why don't you tell me and the readers a little bit about your book, 'Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage', from the author's point of view? This isn't your first book; how does it differ from your previous novels?  What were you trying to accomplish with this book and do you feel like it's 'mission accomplished'?
JA:Lady Isabella’s Scandalous Marriage is the second book in the Mackenzie series. It’s the story of Mac and Isabella, who eloped the night they met, but their turbulent marriage failed after only a few years. They didn’t divorce—they had a separation, which was similar to divorce today, except that neither party could remarry. (Divorce carried a stigma of ruin for both parties; separation was much more socially acceptable.)

Mac was devastated when Isabella left him, but in his heart, he didn’t blame her. He sobered up and tried to reform, but he discovered that his talent for painting had dried up when he gave up alcohol. When his brother Ian tells Mac he’s not trying hard enough to win back Isabella, Mac decides to change that (seeing Ian so happy inspires Mac too). He follows Isabella to London and sets out to get her back into his life—whatever it takes.

What I wanted to accomplish in this book was to show two people struggling to make a bad marriage work and winning through in the end. They love each other so much, yet they have some tough problems (alcohol, fights, Mac disappearing whenever he felt like it). I wanted to show that when Mac and Isabella both were willing to let love lead the way, they could save their marriage and find happiness.

I did not want this book to be “about” alcoholism, although that was part of the problem, and I did not want their break-up to be due to jealousy (too easy!). When I read through the proofs, I was pleased. Mac and Isabella are a strong couple. Apart they’re weak; together, they’re wonderful.

This book differs from my others in that I’ve not done a “reunited” story before (though I did a similar theme in “The Decidedly Devilish Duke” by Allyson James in Private Places anthology). Also, this is the first time I’ve made a hero an artist, which was fun—I taught myself to oil paint to learn about color and technique.

Also, the Mackenzie series is the first I’ve done that is straightforward historical romance—no paranormal elements, no shape shifters, no pirates! But I love the Mackenzies and hope to write more even when I’m finished with the four brothers. (There’s still Daniel, plus all the children the heroes are starting to have!)
RJ:What challenges or difficulties did you face with the writing of this particular novel?
JA:One difficulty I faced with this book was that I changed publishers in the middle of the series. The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie (book 1) was published by Dorchester, then I left them right after publication and sold Lady Isabella to Berkley. I’m very, very happy with what Berkley has done for it so far, but I had the added pressure of pleasing my editor, who took the chance of signing me. I’ve worked with her before (Kate Seaver, who actually bought my very first novel at Dorchester, before she moved to Berkley), but still, Berkley is a different place. They’re a subsidiary of Penguin, which is a gigantic corporation, and I feel like a tiny cog in a giant machine!

It was also difficult to write this book after Madness was so well received. If knew that if I wrote a book too close to Ian’s, I’d be heavily criticized; but if I wrote a book that was too different, I’d be heavily criticized. So I just said “Screw it,” and wrote the story I wanted to! (I planned out all four books a long time ago anyway.)

Happily, my editor loved it, Berkley gave it a terrific cover, and it was picked up by Rhapsody Book Club, which will put out a hardcover edition the week after the paperback comes out. Romantic Times gave Lady Isabella’s a fabulous “Top Pick” review and voted Mac one of the best heroes of the month. I’m very happy with all that!
RJ:Where did the inspirations for your plot, characters and setting come from?
JA:Good question! I have no idea. I’ve been mulling over the Mackenzie series for years (I think the idea came to me in about 2003). I wanted to write about a family of four decadent, dysfunctional brothers who loved each other and helped each other, but clashed at the same time. I wanted them ultra-rich, with bad reputations, and many problems to overcome. I have been calling it my “historical soap-opera” (as opposed to Pride Mates, which is my paranormal soap-opera). 

I couldn’t write the books right away, because I had other contractual obligations (a big one being the Immortals series), but once I had the chance to pitch the series, I slid it in. I think it was a good thing I didn’t sell it right away, because it had time to grow richer as it gestated in my brain. Now I’m thrilled I get to write the books that have been part of me for such a long time.
RJ:This book is a part of the Mackenzie series. The first book in the series, 'The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie', received some serious praise. The other brother's books are highly anticipated. Who ARE the Mackenzies and why do you think reader have fallen in love?
JA:If readers have fallen in love with the Mackenzie brothers, I think it’s because I fell hard in love with them myself. When they first came into my head, I couldn’t stop thinking about them. I couldn’t think about anything but them! I figured, if I can’t stop thinking about these guys, maybe readers won’t either.

The four Mackenzies are the sons of the Duke of Kilmorgan, who was a brutal, abusive man. (The family tree is included on the Mackenzies’ page on my website, dating back to the first duke in the 1300s.) Hart, the oldest, becomes duke upon his father’s death. Hart is an interesting guy, having dark sexual appetites and the need to control…everything.

Cameron is the next oldest. He loves horses and women, and nothing else. He had a horrible marriage, ending with his wife’s suicide (some people say he killed her), leaving him with an infant son to raise. He’s turned his life to training the best horses, bedding the most beautiful women, and becoming a hedonist. He loves his son but knows he’s a rotten father. He doesn’t trust women, with good reason, and always ends his affairs before they go too far. And then he meets Ainsley Douglas…

Mac, the wild rakehell artist, you meet in Lady Isabella’s Scandalous Marriage. He “crashes” Isabella’s debut ball on a bet that he can get into the party and kiss the young debutante (Isabella). Mac is so entranced with the lovely and spirited Isabella that he convinces her to elope with him that night.

And then Ian, the youngest, is “mad.” He has Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of high-functioning autism, which gives him difficulties relating to other people, even his own family. He believes he is unable to love or fall in love. Misunderstood, he spent time in an asylum, until Hart let him out at their father’s death. His brothers protect him, even though they too believe he’s a little crazy. Then Beth Ackerley enters his life and teaches Ian what love truly is.
RJ:The first 3 adjectives that come to mind when describing your Hero and Heroine, Mac & Isabella, are?
JA:Let’s see: Passionate, stubborn (*g*), and struggling
RJ:The writing process differs from author to author. Some are planners while others just jump right in. Some consider themselves night writers, while others need daylight and a park bench or a coffee shop (wink) to set the mood for creativity. What's your writing process and atmosphere like?
JA:I write every morning at a bakery. (I limit myself to one bagel, even though they have pastries to die for!) I find that I am very productive at that time, maybe because I’m not truly awake? I then write at various times throughout the day and in various places—my living room sofa, a coffee house, the patio. Never at a desk! I also seem to do best in the morning and late afternoon on into night. In the heart of the afternoon, I’m not very motivated, so not much gets done (cat brushing, maybe).
RJ:When did you first start writing, and what inspired you to pick up a pen in the first place?
JA:I started writing when I was eight years old. I loved to read (had been reading full-length novels since age five), and I realized that novels were make-believe written down. I made up stuff all the time, had tons of imaginary friends and knew their lives in great detail. I started writing it all down and realized that this made me an author. :-) I thought there couldn’t be anything cooler than walking into a bookstore or library and seeing a book with my name on it on the shelves. And I was right!
RJ:You write under two other pen names,Ashley Gardner and Allyson James, for mysteries and paranormal romance, respectively. What is it about those genres that intrigue you? And out of all three genres, which is your favorite to write for and your favorite to read?
JA:Another good question! I like all three genres for different reasons. I love romance, because I enjoy reading about interesting relationships and people ending up together in a satisfying way. Not to mention hot guys. Hot, caring, loving, intense men. Rowr.

I like mysteries because I like intriguing puzzles, and I enjoy the variety of characters you find in mystery stories. I grew up on Agatha Christie (read everything she ever wrote, including all her short stories), and I’m still an avid mystery fan. My favorite author right now is Donna Leon, plus I’m all over the PBS Mystery! series. Foyle’s War and Wallander in particular are wonderful.

My liking for paranormal romance stems from growing up reading fantasy (alongside the mysteries). I read David Eddings, Terry Brooks, Barbara Hambly, and many others, and now I love Terry Pratchett. Paranormal romance combines two of my favorite genres—romance and fantasy—perfect for me! With urban fantasy, my current favorite genre, combines all three! Love it! Writing urban fantasy (the Stormwalker series I write as Allyson James) is a dream come true.
RJ:You spend some of your free time constructing miniature rooms and dollhouses. Admirably, especially because I haven't the attention span or patience for such a meticulous type of project. Why do you enjoy doing them?
JA:I have figured out that I do miniatures the for the same reason I write books: to create a world that didn’t exist before. I love to dream up a miniature room or setting and try to make it look as real as possible. It’s kind of like set design, I think.

I like making my own stuff, but I’m equally happy buying things from talented artisans, and I’m equally happy looking at other people’s dollhouses and miniatures. My subscription to my favorite miniatures magazine is one I never, ever let lapse. Looking at mini worlds is a window to other people’s creativity—their sense of fun or attention to detail or portrayal of beauty.

It’s the kind of hobby, though, that you either love or you don’t! When people encounter their first dollhouse or miniatures, they either yawn in two minutes or become sucked in for life!
RJ:Romances has transcended many different sectors of pop culture. I think the Beatles said it best, "all you need is love". So, what are some of your favorite pop culture romance picks?: Favorite Love Song?, Favorite Scent?, Favorite Romantic Comedy? and of course, Favorite Romance Novel? 
JA:Love Song: “Crash” by Dave Matthews (that song is soooo sexy!)

Scent: I’m not much of a perfume wearer, and I really don’t like cologne/aftershave on men. My favorite “scent” is that of a man who’s fresh from the shower—all clean and smelling of soap (and damp and naked…)

Romantic Comedy: Hard choice! The following movies have been the most romantic to me (I
finish them with a big smile on my face and a good feeling in my heart): Love, Actually; Sweet Home Alabama; My Big Fat Greek Wedding; Shakespeare in Love; Chocolade.

Favorite romance novel: Far, far too difficult to choose just one! The three books that made me take the plunge into writing romance were The Stolen Bride, by Jo Beverley; The Rake and the Reformer (later reissued as The Rake) by Mary Jo Putney; and Deception, by Amanda Quick, from which I learned that humor can be used very effectively in romance!
RJ:What's coming up next for you (book-wise or otherwise)?
JA:Too many things! I write four-five books a year, so I’m always writing something. I’m currently working on The Many Sins of Lord Cameron (Chapter 1 is in the back of Lady Isabella) , another Shifter novel (book 3 of the series), and more on the Stormwalker series by Allyson James. The second Stormwalker book (Firewalker) will be out in November, so I’m preparing for that release (proofreading/marketing/etc). I’m also writing a novella that will be in an anthology called Hexed, with one of my favorite UF authors, Ilona Andrews. Exciting!
RJ:Do you have anything that you would like to address to your fans and the readers? 
JA:I update my websites (http://www.jennifersromances.com and http://www.allysonjames.com) every few weeks to make sure I have the most current information possible--when books will be available, where you can get them, excerpts, etc. So check there for info often. Or feel free to post a question to me on Facebook or via direct email (all contact links can be found on my website).

To those who say I write too slow :-) I really do write these books quickly—I have three sitting at my publisher right now waiting to be released. It takes a while for publishers’ wheels to grind, and for all authors to have a fair chance of getting their books on the shelves. I keep trying for back-to-back releases, but no one has let me do that so far (publishers set the schedules; authors don’t). Hopefully things will change and my books will start coming out closer together (they already are, believe it or not).
RJ:Final Question: Name something shocking or interesting about yourself that the readers may not know. 
JA:I can’t think of a thing. I consider myself a completely boring person, which is why I write novels! I’ve done interesting things like traveled all over the world, but I’m mostly an onlooker wherever I go, watching other people do things. And that suits me just fine! Having an exciting life would be uncomfortable, I think. I’ll let my characters do all the hard stuff while I sit back and relax.

Maybe the only shocking thing about me is that I don’t like coffee. Loathe the stuff. I love the smell, hate the taste--go figure.

-A special thanks again goes to my special guest, Jennifer Ashley! Thanks for being so forthright and telling me all about your new book!  
~*~ Giveaway Details ~*~
Jennifer Ashley has generously offered to giveaway a copy of one of her back-list titles (books older than six months) to one (1) lucky commenter. Check her website in the books section, and if you are the winner, you will be contacted and asked to choose the book you would like to receive. Follow the guidelines below and comment to be entered for a chance to win. The giveaway will run until Saturday, July 10th 2010, 11:59:00PM. The winner will be announced on Sunday, July 11th 2010.

Giveaway Guidelines:
To be entered in the giveaway all you have to do is comment! Make sure to included your email (no email= invalid entry)!

to get extra entries (just commenting gets you the initial entry. Do one or more of the following for some extra shots at winning):

+1 Go to Jennifer Ashley's website and check out some of her miniature rooms and dollhouses. In your comment, tell me which one is your favorite (clearly state it).

+2 Become a follower of this blog/tell me if you already are a follower in your comment.

To all the readers, be sure to make use of those links above to better acquaint yourself with this fabulous author! It has been great, good luck to all of the giveaway contestants and I hope all of you have enjoyed this edition of:


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