Archive for December, 2011

YOURS TO KEEP by Shannon Stacey

This past summer, it seemed that everyone was talking about this book. Early reviews were coming in and all were positive. I’ve never seen so many people with such varied reading taste agree on a book. I read it myself and understood why. It’s just that damn good. Heart-warming, sexy, and tons of LOL moments makes this the most flat-out fun book I read in 2011.


Friends have been telling me for over a year that I needed to read Dangerous Passion and I finally gave in a few months ago. I am SO happy I did! Our hero, Drake, is a criminal and isn’t apologetic about it. I loved how different this was compared to most books I read.

TURN IT UP by Vivian Arend

Geeky hero!! That’s why I loved this book. I mean, I could tell you about the preggo heroine, which is an auto-buy for me. Or all the sexy times. Or zany family members who kept me giggling. Or the sigh-worthy ending. It even has one of my favorite book quotes…

Max smoothed his hand down her back, rubbing and caressing. It was the most frighting thing to hold his heart in his arms like that.

But really, this is all about the hunky, geeky hero for me 😀

DRAGON BOUND by Thea Harrison

Top-notch world building, humor, a growly hero and a tough heroine has made Dragon Bound a comfort read for me. I loved everything about it.

ANYTHING BUT MINE by Linda Winfree

I was looking for a small town romance and this series was recommended to me. That person didn’t warn me that Anything But Mine would rip my heart out and make me replace the tissue box with a roll of paper towels. No exaggeration, I sobbed through at least a quarter of the book. It wasn’t an easy book to read and doubt I’ll be reading it again anytime soon but I’m so grateful I took a chance on it.


My biggest book wish for 2012 is more urban fantasy from Lauren Dane. I need to know more about ass-kicking Rowan, her hot vamp honey Clive, and her evil but awesome foster father. I rarely love a UF on the first book but this one had the perfect balance of romance that just works for me.

IMMORTAL RIDER by Larissa Ione

Love it. Love it, love it, love it. A tough but vulnerable heroine, a hero that literally goes to hell for her, and a cast of secondary characters that I love and some that I love to hate.  I can’t wait for the next book!

CIPHER by Moira Rogers

I’ve been waiting not-so-patiently for Kat and Andrew’s story since the series started and it was worth every second of the wait.  Starting off with one of the powerful prologues I’ve ever read, it was a roll coaster of emotion. Southern Arcana is one of my favorite series in romance and Cipher is the perfect example as why.


I don’t read many historicals but this was Maya Banks and I know I can’t go wrong with her books. I loved the first book in her new historical trilogy and this one was even better. I giggled, I sighed, I cried like a baby. It was fantastic.

TAKEN BY FIRE by Sydney Croft

I’ve been reading the ACRO series since the beginning, before I’d ever heard of Larissa Ione and her demons or Stephanie Tyler and her SEALs. The series has been such a wonderful mix of PNR, erotic romance, with a touch of urban fantasy thrown in for good measure. I’ve followed this series and, while a few surprises have been thrown in along the way, I thought I knew what to expect from the book ending the series. I never saw Taken by Fire coming. Yes, it had the sexiness and action I’ve come to expect from a Croft novel but I never expected it to break my heart. I watched a couple I’ve loved for years fall apart, be put back together, then shatter. I saw a heroine fight like hell to overcome darkness only to fall short. I cried until I had to set the Kindle aside because I couldn’t see the screen. Then I came back to see one of the best HEA I’ve ever read. And that’s why Taken By Fire is my favorite read of 2011.

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Allie Parker knows her best friend’s death was no accident, and her quest to find the truth soon puts her in the wrong place–at the worst possible time…


An unwilling passenger on a boat carrying deadly cargo and dangerous men, her only ally is mysterious Jake Dawson, who warns her that she must play the role of his reluctant bedmate…if she wants to stay alive.


Before long, the heat rising between Allie and Jake has drawn them into the heart of the steamy Carribean–and into something deeper than they ever imagined. Now as Allie places her trust–and herself–in the hands of a total stranger, she wonders if this desperate gamble will be her last…



Back when I was first dating, men and women talked, went to dinner, went to a show.  We took our time getting to know each other.  Then the trend began to change and the whole objective of dating became for the guy to get the woman in bed.

Conquest was everything.  And sometimes women played the same game.  Romance seemed to be fading, the chance to know someone’s inner thoughts and dreams before hoping into bed was drifting away.

Today the dating scene has changed again and oddly enough, computer dating may actually be the salvation of romance.  People meet on-line, chat on line, text on their cell phones.  Sometimes they “date” for months without actually meeting.

There are pros and cons to this new way of meeting people, but personally, I think getting to know someone slowly, savoring those little secrets you discover about each other over the weeks and months, can lead to a far more lasting relationship.  The percentage of people meeting through on-line dating is growing and so is the number of marriages between people who have met via the computer.

So even though I’m a strong supporter of old-fashioned romance, I think there’s a place for on-line dating.  The most important thing is finding out what the person is really like, developing a trust that is enduring.

Still, drinking champagne together, dancing till dawn, walking hand-in-hand on the beach, those things are the fun, heart-fluttering part of dating.  Of course, there may also be the chance meeting that leads to falling in love.

In HOT RAIN, one of my favorites, just being re-issued in January, Allie Parker is abducted by drug smugglers, who hold her prison aboard their yacht headed for Mexico.  Fortunately for Allie, gorgeous and sexy Jake Dawson is also aboard, and Jake is one of the good guys–an undercover ATF agent.  The problem is Allie doesn’t know it and Jake can’t break his cover or both of them are likely to wind up dead.

It’s a fun book with plenty of action and romance–none of which takes place behind a computer!  If you haven’t read HOT RAIN, I hope you’ll give it a try and that you enjoy.

Warmest wishes, Kat




To find out more about Kat Martin, visit www.katbooks.com. And for a chance to win a digital copy of Hot Rain, leave a comment below. Good luck!

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Newly widowed and desperate to protect her estate—and housemaids—from a predatory brother-in-law, Martha Russell conceives a daring plan. Or rather, a daring plan to conceive. After all, if she has an heir on the way, her future will be secured. Forsaking all she knows of propriety, Martha approaches her neighbor, a London exile with a wicked reputation, and offers a strictly business proposition: a month of illicit interludes… for a fee.

Theophilus Mirkwood ought to be insulted. Should be appalled. But how can he resist this siren in widow’s weeds, whose offer is simply too outrageously tempting to decline? Determined she’ll get her money’s worth, Theo endeavors to awaken this shamefully neglected beauty to the pleasures of the flesh—only to find her dead set against taking any enjoyment in the scandalous bargain. Surely she can’t resist him forever. But could a lady’s sweet surrender open their hearts to the most unexpected arrival of all… love?



Some years back I read an interview with the actor Patrick Dempsey. He was two or three years into his role on Grey’s Anatomy, and the interviewer wanted to know if his character and the show’s title character, Dr. Grey, were finally going to get past the various issues that had been keeping them apart, and be a happy couple.

And may Mr. Dempsey forgive me for the paraphrase, but his answer was something to the effect of, “I’m actually not sure that would be a good idea.  Because what viewers are responding  to in that relationship is the yearning, and once you get the characters together, the yearning’s gone.”

I love that quote, because it takes what could be a touchy, vaguely derisive observation – “Oh, you fickle romance-happy viewers; you’re all so keen to get Maddy and David/Sam and Diane/Jim and Pam together, and then when we do it, you say we’ve jumped the shark” – and frames it instead as a simple problem of storytelling.

Characters in fiction need to want things in order to propel the story along. Characters in the emotionally heightened world of romance need to want especially hard. They need to hunger, and what’s more, they need to face up to their hunger; to acknowledge the long odds against getting that hunger met; to admit that their lives will be lesser without the hungered-for thing.

Like Dr. McDreamy said: they need to yearn.

The great thing about the romance-novel form is that it ends when the yearning arc ends. As a writer, you’re not left scrambling to find some other way to make the characters interesting now that their vital, forward-propelling passion has been resolved.

But the most compelling romances, I find, are the ones where the characters do yearn for other things besides romantic fulfillment – especially when those other things are things that come into direct conflict with the romance.

Martha Russell, the heroine of A Lady Awakened, hungers for purpose, for a sense of effectuality, for some grand sacrifice through which she can prove her mettle. When she learns that her late husband’s estate is set to pass to a brother-in-law with a history of preying on housemaids, it’s a crisis – but it’s also the occasion to which she’s been waiting to rise all her life.

After striking her desperate bargain with only-too-willing neighbor Theo Mirkwood, Martha gathers the female servants, apprises them of the threat, and promises to do “everything in my power” to keep them safe. She doesn’t, of course, tell them exactly what she’ll be doing. But it’s vivid in her thoughts:

If only everything in my power could have taken some grander shape! If she could face down Mr. James Russell with a sword in her hand and an army at her back, for instance. Or lead every last one of these women to safety through smoke and flames. She ventured a smile round their ranks – they were all watching her as though she were some wild-eyed stranger come to impersonate the mistress – and reached for her nettle-brew again.

She would do what she must. Lie still and bear the breaching of her body by a stranger, and then hope the stranger’s seed bore fruit. Sacrifice came in different shapes, for a woman, and if it brought about the proper result, that would have to be grandeur enough.

What she neglects to consider is whether Mr. Mirkwood has any wish to be the altar on which she sacrifices herself. Or whether there might come a day when her relations with him won’t feel so much like a sacrifice.

Or whether one or both of them might develop new yearnings, inconvenient yearnings, that will force her to rethink her whole plan.

Readers: Do you like your heroes and heroines to have longings independent of the romantic relationship, or do you prefer your romances to be all romance, all the time? What are some memorable stories of yearning you’ve read?


To find out more about Cecilia Grant, please visit www.ceciliagrant.com. And for a chance to win a signed copy of A Lady Awakened, leave a comment answering Cecilia’s question. Giveaway open to U.S. and Canada. Good luck!

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wins ONE PERFECT NIGHT by Rachel Johns


June M.

wins LADY SEDUCTRESS’S BALL by Eliza Knight


Maria D

wins SEX, LIES AND MIDNIGHT by Tawny Weber


Congrats! To claim your prize, please email Fatin at mad @ romancereaderatheart.com (without the spaces) You have 48 hours to email before a new name is chosen.

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Oooh, the joy and desperation of a looming deadline.  Writers face these at least a few times a year, that date circled in red on the calendar indication that the manuscript is due.  Not only due, but expected to be polished and solid.  Kind of like the holidays, right?  There is a hard and fast date on the calendar, usually highlighted with red and green ink.  At that point, the shopping, baking, decorating, wrapping and partying are expected to be done.


And if you’re like me, you start every run-up to a deadline with good intentions.  I always plan to have my story outlined, plotted and the characters solidly fleshed out before I turn in the previous book.  I intend to be at least 50 pages ahead when I turn in the partial (usually a month before the full is due), and I intend to have a smooth, solid writing flow going so I’m not scrambling frantically the last two weeks to finish the story on time and still have room for a final once-over polish.  And the holidays?  Oh those, I intend to have my gift lists ready by the end of summer, shopping all completed by Thanksgiving and a baking list ready to go by the 1st of December.  I intend to spend the entire month of December reveling in the holiday glow, driving around to see the lights, bake and decorate cookies with the kids, make fun new crafty projects and spend a lot of time sitting by the tree basking in the season.


Yeah.  I don’t seem to manage that quite as often as I’d like, either.  Maybe every third year (and every third book deadline.  Hmm, I see a pattern here.)


So this year, I’ll just have to do a little extra rushing.  I’m telling myself it’ll add some zing to the holiday fun.  I’m good at telling myself things to get through the craziness *g* How about you?  Are you all set for the holidays?  Are you good at meeting deadlines or do you tend to run a little (or a lot) behind?  Share with me and I’ll draw one name to win a copy of my January Blaze-book two in the Undercover Operatives series: SEX, LIES AND MIDNIGHT.  Here’s a little peek. 




He’s lying. She’s lying.

And before long, they’re lying.

Together. In bed…


Born into a con artist family, Maya Black abandoned the grifting life to live on the straight and narrow (and somewhat dull) years ago. But when her family is threatened—and the swindlers are on the verge of becoming the swindled— Maya swings into action. All she needs is a stand-in boyfriend, and the charming, tasty-as-sin Simon Barton will do quite nicely, thanks.


But Simon has a little lie of his own. He’s FBI, and Maya is his inside track to her less-savory relations. It’s a mutual using, which quickly turns into a scorching mutual attraction. In fact, their naughty little sexcapades are the only thing they aren’t faking!


Undercover Operatives


“I need to get this out of the way,” he said quietly.  “It’s got nothing to do with the deal, and everything to do with how I’m feeling.”

She shook her head, looking like she wanted to protest.  But instead her fingers dug into his shoulders.

Hips brushing a tempting invitation against hers, his hands smoothed down the tiny curve of her waist to the sweet roundness of her hips.  Her breath shuddered, just a little.  Simon almost groaned aloud.  She was so delicious.  Was the reality of her as tasty as the promise?

Totally forgetting his plan—hell, his own name—Simon pulled her closer, so their bodies were close.  So close, but not quite touching.  Her warm scent wrapped around him like its own caress, making his mouth water, his dick harden.

Crazy, he thought, as he leaned down to take her mouth with his.

Their lips brushed, soft and sweet.  Just this side of innocent.  Safe, he told himself.  A Happy Holidays kind of kiss.  Totally acceptable.

Then she made this tiny sound.  Somewhere between a purr and a growl, deep in her throat.

And he lost it.

His mouth took hers.  His tongue slipped between her full lips, taking hers in a dance as old as time.  He coaxed, he battled, he challenged.  And damned if she didn’t do exactly the same.

Simon’s body screamed in pleasure.  Passion, way out of line for such a simple kiss, demanded release.  His muscles tensed as he forced himself to not grab her and find a dark corner to explore just how good this could get.

Having to grab control before he went over the edge, he pulled his mouth from hers.  Her eyes were closed, thick dark lashes curving over the tops of her cheeks.  She took a deep breath and slowly lifted those lashes.

Absolutely crazy.  Breathless, Simon stared into her deep, golden eyes and wondered if she was the answer to his prayers.  Or the curse that would finally take him down.




Tawny Weber has been writing sassy, sexy stories for Harlequin Blaze since her first book hit the shelves in 2007.  When not obsessing over deadlines, she’s shopping for cute shoes, scrapbooking or hanging out on Facebook and Twitter.  Come by and visit her on the web at www.tawnyweber.com


In December of 2011 Tawny launched her Undercover Ops series with SEX, LIES AND MISTLETOE.  The second book in the series, SEX, LIES & MIDNIGHT is on shelves in January 2012, quickly followed in February by SEX, LIES & VALENTINES.  You can read the first chapter of SEX, LIES & MIDNIGHT on her website, too – all you have to do is join the Reader LoveFest! Be sure to follow Tawny on her Holiday Survival Tour as she celebrates these three books with tons of fun and a chance for readers to win a $100 giftcard! 


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Invitation to Pleasure

As the wife of the elderly Earl of March, Olivia Covington has never known the intimacies of the bedroom. Though her curiosity is piqued by the shocking whispers of society ladies, she is too wary of causing scandal to indulge in an affair. But Tristan Knightley, Earl of Newcastle, tempts her to throw off propriety.

Tristan wants Olivia for his own, and has sworn off all others until he can rid himself of the obsession. He is sure once he has a taste, he will tire of her, and can return to his rakish existence. Unable to wait to have her in his bed, he invites her for a tryst at Lady Seductress’s Ball…



Happy Holidays everyone! I wish you all a fantastic 2012!

I’m excited to be here today at Novel Thoughts talking about my first Carina Press release, LADY SEDUCTRESS’S BALL, a Regency erotic romance.

The Regency era has always fascinated me. One of the things I love most about this era is there were so many rules and everyone was always in everybody else’s business to see if they were following those rules. I like to break those rules! I like to watch my characters fight against the staunch aristocratic way of life and find something deeper, more meaningful. To discover themselves and love, and enjoy life.

LADY SEDUCTRESS’S BALL is about throwing off those society norms, doing something risqué and enjoying it. What better way to do that then with a masquerade ball? You can hide who you are on the outside, but reveal you inner self to everyone. But this isn’t just any masquerade ball. This is Lady Seductress’ Ball… Clothing not required.

For a woman who has been hungering to find herself sexually, to feel the power of love-making, a risqué masque is the perfect place. She’ll get to fulfill her deepest desires, find love and discover who she truly is.

Have you ever enacted on a secret desire? Is it sad that my secret desire right now is to curl up in front of a roaring fire, watch countless movies and eat ungodly amounts of chocolate? Leave a comment to win a copy of LADY SEDUCTRESS’S BALL.

Click here to read an excerpt

Available now at…

Carina Press


Barnes and Noble


Eliza Knight is the multi-published author of sizzling historical romance and erotic romance. While not reading, writing or researching for her latest book, she chases after her three children. In her spare time (if there is such a thing…) she likes daydreaming, wine-tasting, traveling, hiking, staring at the stars, watching movies, shopping and visiting with family and friends. She lives atop a small mountain, and enjoys cold winter nights when she can curl up in front of a roaring fire with her own knight in shining armor. Visit Eliza at http://www.elizaknight.com or her historical blog, History Undressed, which was recently mentioned in a feature article in The Wall Street Journal. http://www.historyundressed.blogspot.com

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Peppa Grant’s fellow employees may call their new CEO Mr. McSexy, but she’s also heard that he’s aloof and distant. Cameron McCormac certainly seems cold toward Christmas when she meets him at the company’s annual party…but he’s also the sexiest man Peppa has ever seen. And when he offers to forgive the damage she accidentally caused to his expensive car in exchange for accompanying him to his family’s holiday get-together, she agrees.


Cameron needs a date to the family party to get his matchmaking relatives off his back. Their chemistry is instant and undeniable, leading to an incredible one-night stand. But Peppa wants love and family, while Cameron’s only interested in temporary pleasure. When their relationship takes an unexpectedly serious turn, will he run the other way—or will he give love a second chance?



Thanks for having me on the fabulous Novel Thoughts. My debut romance ONE PERFECT NIGHT is out today and I’m a wee bit excited. I’d written about six or seven full length novels before ONE PERFECT NIGHT (I’m a slow learner) and I recently got to wondering what was the thing that made this one different from the rest. What made the editors sit up and notice this book? What made them believe it was worthy of revisions and then a sale where the ones that went before had failed to make the cut?

Now, I’m sure the answer lies in the things I’ve learnt about writing throughout my LONG apprenticeship. It’s probably got something to do with developing my voice, creating three-dimensional characters that actually have dreams and goals and even more importantly massive road blocks to these things. There also might have been an element of luck. They say writing a book is 98% Hard Work and 2% Luck. I think this LUCK is probably bigger than this because I know of some awesome writers with brilliant books that are still not sold. But I’m getting off track…

The OTHER element I realised was that this was the first book where I’d been unable to think of a heroine’s name off the top of my head and so I asked my husband to choose it. I can still recall sitting in bed with my laptop and him sitting next to me with his (yes, we are sad) and I said, “Give me a heroine name!”

Without any thought at all, he said “PEPPA.” Well, I had NEVER heard of anyone called Peppa, so I had some questions.

“Is it short for something?”

“Penelope, of course!”

Hmm… I thought about that. “I thought Penny was short for Penelope.”

He shrugged, more interested in his game to be honest J But he’d got me thinking. I wanted a fiery heroine who was passionate about her work, her life, her family and her loves. Maybe Peppa was perfect? Perhaps she got Peppa when she was a child and threw massive tantrums. So, Peppa stuck… and it actually helped me create her character.

Here’s a short extract from ONE PERFECT NIGHT when hero Cameron asks Peppa about her name.

He blamed it on the power cut. “So, tell me more about Penelope Grant.”

She let out a half laugh. “Well, for a start, you’re the only person aside from my dad who calls me Penelope.”

“Really? How’d you get Peppa?”

“My mum started calling me Peppa when I was two years old and apparently threw world-class tantrums. It kinda stuck and grew. I’m known for my temper.”

He couldn’t help it, his hands delved lower as she spoke. “Is that right? I’ll try and remember not to get on the wrong side of you.”

“The side you’re on right now is perfect.” They shared another intoxicating kiss. Strangely the bath water seemed to be getting hotter.

“So what things are you known to get hot-headed over?” he asked when they finally came up for air.

“Hmm.” She pursed her lips, then gushed, “People who drive too slowly. Waiters who don’t know anything about the food they’re serving. Men who say they don’t like cats just because they think it’s cool. Please tell me you’re not one of those?”

“Actually, I quite like cats.” He cleared his throat. “I feed the little old lady’s cats next door whenever she goes to visit her daughter in New York.”

“Really?” The pleasant surprise shone through.

“Really,” he echoed. “So, what else?”

“People who don’t recycle because they can’t be bothered. Women who don’t eat or play sports in front of the men they’re attracted to.”

“Speaking of food, I’m famished. How about you?”

“Now that you mention it…”


So, there’s a wee glimpse of my Peppa, named so because of my gorgeous hubby. I’d love to give away a copy of ONE PERFECT NIGHT to a commenter. But I have a question for those who want to enter. If you’re a writer, what is the most different name you’ve ever used for a character? And if you’re a reader, what is the most unique character name you’ve ever read?

Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/RachaelJohns @RachaelJohns

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Rachael-Johns/260103224001776

Website: www.rachaeljohns.com

Blog: www.rachaeljohns.blogspot.com

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Megan Burton, Melissa, and Judi Legacy

wins 10 Ways to Steal Your Lover by Dee Tenorio (kindle or nook copies)


Congrats! To claim your prize, please email me at lillie80 @ gmail.com (without the spaces) You have 48 hours to email before a new name is chosen.

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His best friend’s wedding just turned into the craziest hangover ever…

Kane Wilkensen’s buddy was about to marry the girl of Kane’s dreams. Which would have been fine—heartbreaking but fine—if Kane hadn’t woken up in a Las Vegas honeymoon suite with her, a giant sack of money and a great big blank spot in both their memories first.

He’d always thought a good man would never steal his best friend’s lover, but one crazy night may be just the chance Kane needs to show his “wife” that she’s with the right husband after all…


I love a romance where the hero knows from the very start that he loves the heroine and 10 Ways to Steal Your Lover by Dee Tenorio is the perfect example of why. I read this last week and it was such a fun, sexy, and sweet story that I want to share it with you, too.

This will be a quick giveaway. We are giving away three digital copies (Kindle or Nook, winner’s choice) of 10 Ways To Steal Your Lover. To be entered, all you need to do is leave a comment and check back on Sunday to see if you won. Good luck! 😀

To read an excerpt, visit www.deetenorio.com.

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Amy Kathryn

is the new winner of a $20 gift card (Amazon or B&N) from Karen Erickson

Congrats! To claim your prize, please email Fatin at mad @ romancereaderatheart.com (without the spaces) You have 48 hours to email before a new name is chosen.

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