Archive for May, 2012

There’s a place where the ocean meets the shore, where kicking off your shoes and baring some skin is as natural as sneaking under the boardwalk for an ice cream cone and stollen kisses.

But life isn’t all beach for Shaye Cates, even if her idea of an office is a shady umbrella at the water’s edge, equipped with cell phone and lap top.

Trace Saunders is her upstanding, button-down albeit handsome nemesis. He thinks only of business.

A century-old feud has separated their families. Yet a volleyball tournament and kids’ baseball games draw them together. Beneath the twinkling lights of the ferris wheel, the magic of sea and sand soon sweep away their rivalry.

Suddenly it’s summertime…and the lovin’ is easy.



I appreciate the opportunity to blog today. May 1st was the release of Sweet Spot, the final book in the Richmond Rogues’ Baseball Series. May 29th is the publication date for the first book in my new Barefoot William Series. It’s bittersweet. Out with the old and in with the new.


I think an author should end a series on a high note. Over the past five years the Rogues became ‘my team’. The guys had a great run. I loved the players and did my best to find each one a worthy heroine. Psycho McMillan was my favorite character. He was a wild man and very vivid in my mind. The team became as real to me as the Cubs, Yankees or Red Sox. I may do a novella down the road, but I’ve no immediate plans for a second generation of ballplayers.


Now I move on to No Tan Lines. First you had the Capulets and Montagues, then the Hatfields and McCoys, and now there’s the Cates and Saunders of Barefoot William, a fictitious beachside town in Florida. The Cates and Saunders live at the opposite ends of a boardwalk in cold disdain over a hundred year old feud.


Shaye Cates is a natural beauty, happiest in shorts and flip-flops. She runs her family’s faltering business from under an umbrella on the beach. Trace Saunders is rarely seen without a suit as he manages a dignified and profitable real estate empire in a traditional office.


A volleyball tournament that straddles both sides of the beach forces them to work together, and instant sizzle leads to eventual romance, despite the disapproval of both families.


I’d like to give away a $25.00 Amazon digital gift card in a random drawing. Fatin will notify me as to the winner.  Happy Summer Reading, Everyone!


To find out more about Kate Angell and her books, visit www.kateangell.com. And just leave a comment below to be entered in the giveaway. Good luck! 😀

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This summer is going to be very busy here at Novel Thoughts! First up is the Digital First Read-A-Thon. Here is a message from the DFRT host, The Book Binge, with all the fun details.



Starting June 1st, Book Binge will be hosting a Digital First Read-a-Thon with Tracy’s Place, The Book Reading Gals and Novel Thoughts. We’re super thrilled to be cross-promoting all things digital first with some fabulous book bloggers.
For the entire month of June, we challenge each and every single reader out there to read as many digital first e-books as you can. There isn’t a set number of books you have to read. There isn’t a set list of authors that you must read. For that part of the challenge, you set the rules. The only rule we have is that the books read for this challenge have to have been published as an e-book FIRST.
We’re not talking about the e-books that are being re-released right now that were apart of print anthologies back in the day. We’re talking about books like Slow Summer Kisses by Shannon Stacey, Crazy on You by Rachel Gibson or Room for Love by Sophie Pembroke. All books that were released to the public as e-books first.
There will be heaps of guest authors stopping by all four blogs involved with the Digital First Read-a-Thon so really, stop by and visit us. We’ll have giveaways, excerpts and a whole bunch of other goodies so it should be a good time. Load up those e-readers everybody, we’re going to have loads of fun come June 1st.
Happy reading!

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Lydia Slaughter understands the games men play—both in and out of the bedroom. Not afraid to bend the rules to suit her needs, she fleeces Will Blackshear outright. The Waterloo hero had his own daring agenda for the gaming tables of London’s gentlemen’s clubs. But now he antes up for a wager of wits and desire with Lydia, the streetwise temptress who keeps him at arm’s length.

A kept woman in desperate straits, Lydia has a sharp mind with a head for numbers. She gambles on the sly, hoping to win enough to claim her independence. An alliance with Will at the tables may be a winning proposition for them both. But the arrangement involves dicey odds with rising stakes, sweetened with unspoken promise of fleshly delights. And any sleight of hand could find their hearts betting on something neither can afford to risk: love.


Thanks so much to Fatin for hosting me on the release day of my new Regency-set historical romance, A Gentleman Undone,and for allowing me to confess right here, before all the world, that…

I happen to like nice men.

No, seriously. I’m not just saying “I recognize that a bad-boy rake wouldn’t make a good real-life husband, fun though he may be on the page.” I’m saying decency is sexy. Small kindnesses melt me. And a guy who strives to do the right thing, particularly in a temptation-ridden setting like Regency London society, is a guy I’m pulling for right from page one.

Now, I’ve got nothing against a good scoundrel. That kind of hero tends to make for a lively story with lots of built-in conflict, whether he’s plucking at the corset-strings of the strait-laced heroine, or going toe-to-toe with a lady who can match him for mischief every step of the way.

But let’s face it: the bad-boy hero doesn’t need any PR help from me. Scoundrels, rogues, and rakes get plenty of love already, as anyone even slightly familiar with historical-romance titles can attest.

While their better-behaved brothers… well, when’s the last time you saw a title featuring one of them? Pleasures of a Perfect Gentleman? To Marry a Mensch? Seducing the Stand-up Guy?

Will Blackshear, the hero of A Gentleman Undone, is a man who cares deeply about things like moral integrity and the weight of one’s word. He takes responsibility for his actions, he steps in when he sees people mistreated, and he knows how to resist temptation when there’s a good reason to resist. (Up to a point, anyway.)

In other words, he’s a good guy. And his journey, as he tangles with my slightly-less-good heroine Lydia and walks a tightrope between desire and decency, is part of a proud good-guy tradition.

So just for today, I’d like to usher the bad boys offstage and shine the spotlight on good men, as we’ve known them from books, movies, tv shows, even real life. What’s your favorite kind of good guy? One who’s gutsy enough to wear his heart on his sleeve? (Lloyd Dobler, anyone?) One who sticks to his principles at great personal cost? (Jimmy Stewart in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” e.g.) One who’s polite and pleasant to the heroine right from the beginning? (Henry Tilney, my favorite Austen hero!)

Leave a comment, and you’ll be entered for a chance to win a copy of A Gentleman Undone.


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The Book

The Tease

To all the gamer chicks out there: Let’s show the boys how it’s done.

Cyn tossed the wig in the backseat of Julian’s car and sighed. She’d agreed to let him take her home, but only that. The man had barely reached first base, and she had every intention of keeping him there for a while, no matter how good his hands felt. After all, they hadn’t been dating long enough for second yet.

“God, my feet hurt.”

“So does my shin.”

She grinned. That should teach him to keep his hands where she could see them. Besides, he was adorable when he pouted.

“Going to invite me in?”

That deep, dark tone always sent a shiver down her spine, but Cyn stiffened it. She wasn’t going to give in to him that easily. Julian would have to work to earn the right to bite her. “Nope.”

“Damn.” His hand drifted to her thigh. “Have I mentioned I like your costume?”

“Maybe.” She pushed his hand down to her knee. She wasn’t opposed to him touching her. In fact, she’d love to do more than touch, but Cyn wasn’t easy. It was going to take Julian more than a date or three to get her boy shorts off.

That wicked gleam was back in his eye, and she just knew something outrageous was going to pop out of his mouth. “How do you feel about role-playing?”

Cyn bit her cheek to keep from laughing. Role-playing, huh? “Well, Rolemaster was a bitch to learn because of all the Companion books, plus you needed a physics calculator just to figure out your stats.” The car swerved as Julian jerked, his expression shocked. “Some versions of Dungeons and Dragons weren’t too bad, but Star Wars seriously sucked unless you were a Jedi.” She tapped her fingernail against her lips. “Wait, did you mean pen and paper or online RPG’s, because—”

His expression had gone completely blank. “Oh, my god. You’re a geek!”

“Yup.” She waited for the usual explosion she got when she revealed her secret life as a (gasp!) nerd. Most of the guys she dated either laughed their asses off at her, thus ending any chance they had of getting into her boy shorts, or simply stopped calling. What self-respecting man wanted to date a tattooed geek? If anything was capable of scaring Julian off, this would be it.

“That is so fucking hot.” His gaze had turned reverent, those brown eyes sparkling with laughter.

Apparently one freaky Bear did. Cyn’s jaw dropped. “I’m sorry. What did you just say?”

He grinned at her and pulled to the curb before turning in his seat to face her. “What online game do you play?”

She blinked. He couldn’t be serious. Could he? “Which one do you think?”

“I’d say DDO, but I’m betting it’s World of Warcraft. Eve Online would be too boring for you. Not enough action.”

She nodded before she could stop herself. “Wait. You play?”



“Yes.” He was looking confused.

Good, because so was she. “Mr. Shits-in-the-Woods.”

“Hey! I only do that when I’m fuzzy. And I have high speed Internet in my cave, thank you very much. Why, recently, I installed a dorm fridge right next to my sleeping furs.” He crossed his arms and glared at her.

“Fine. Yes, WoW, and I play a paladin.”

He blinked, then grinned. “I play a warlock.”

“Pfft. Of course. It all makes sense now. You’re a spell-caster.” Cyn sneered at him good-naturedly.

“Oh yeah. Because it takes serious brains to beat the bad guys with a huge metal stick.” Julian rolled his eyes in disgust.

Cyn studied her nails. “Oh look, I’m a big, bad warlock. I think I’ll give myself a mani-pedi while my summoned pet does all the work.”

“Yup. I named my pet Paladin.”

They glared at each other across the console. “Hmph.” Cyn relented first. “Maybe we could group sometime.”

“Oh, baby. I am so turned on right now.” Julian leaned forward and tried to steal a kiss.

Cyn added another bruise to his leg. She was really beginning to like these shoes.

“You’re mean.” Julian pouted as he put the car in gear and turned down her street.

“Yes. You have a problem with that?” She was fighting off a laugh. God, the man was such a goof! And he liked the same stuff she did, crazy though it was.

She was in such deep shit.

“Nope.” He pulled into her driveway and cut the engine. “I like it.”

She shivered. His deep voice had turned sultry, sexy as hell. She had goose bumps running down her arms. How the hell was she supposed to resist him when he spoke like that?

He leaned over the console and cupped the back of her head. She had learned to crave his taste in the short time they’d been dating. Cyn wasn’t one to give in to cravings just for the hell of it, but she was learning that Julian’s kiss was more than a craving. It was rapidly becoming an addiction.

Her heart beat faster as his lips drew near. She wanted his kiss more than anything, even more than she’d wanted Living Art. God, what was she supposed to do? Two weeks of dating and the man had her melted into a puddle of mindless goo.

His mouth came down on hers, gentle and patient, his tongue stroking her lips until she parted for him and allowed him inside. His taste hit her, made her shiver. Her nipples beaded beneath her padded bra, a new addition to her wardrobe thanks to a certain sexy Bear. It wouldn’t do to let him know that they went hard whenever he touched her. He kept it slow, languid, seducing her with his kiss, his hands staying exactly where he’d put them.

He was adhering to the rules she’d set down, and she’d never been more sorry in her life.

The Blurb

To save the woman he loves, he must push his gifts to the brink.

Halle Shifters, Book 2

Julian DuCharme, a rare Spirit Bear with legendary healing powers, is finally free from the threat of death, finally free to claim his mate—but she’s not having it. While his Bear screams it’s time to mate, the love of his life wants to date.

Holding his Bear in check while convincing her he’s not out to control her won’t be easy. She’s stubborn and a closeted geek—in other words, perfect for him.

Cynthia “Cyn” Reyes, owner of Living Art Tattoos, thinks Julian is the hottest thing on two legs. That doesn’t mean she’s going to roll over for his masculine charm. She watched her mother flounder when her father passed away, and she’s determined to never lose herself to someone else. Not even a man who would jump the moon for her, if she asked that of him.

When the women of Living Art are targeted by a killer, Julian doesn’t think twice about pouring out his last drop of power to keep Cyn safe. But it’s Cyn who’ll give up everything—her independence, even her humanity—to keep a terrifying vision from coming true.

One of his death.

Product Warnings

This novel contains explicit sex, graphic language, a tattooed heroine and the Bear who loves her. Maybe he’ll finally convince her to tattoo him with “Property of Cyn”.

Available June 19, 2012





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This week’s new releases! Clicking on the covers will take you to the book’s Amazon page. Happy shopping!








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What, exactly, is a romance novel?

I remember that section in the English Lit text book in high school that was called “The Romantic Period.” Romantic novels, the text books said, were associated with wild nature, free thinking, resistance to rationalism.

I have to confess that even back then, that’s not what I thought a romance novel was. I can still remember how surprised I was that Edgar Allen Poe was considered a writer of romantic novels. A romance novel to me was a love story and it had the classic formula of boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy and girl reconcile and live happily ever after.

I know, I know, there’s more to it than that. If it was that easy, everyone would be doing it, right?

My newest novel, Sins of the Empress, certainly doesn’t follow that formula, but it is, nevertheless, what I consider a very romantic novel. It’s the fictionalized story of Catherine the Great of Russia. It is set in the lavish courts and stark battlefields of eighteenth century Russia and Germany, full of political intrigue, love, and betrayal. Of course there’s sex, after all that’s the first thing many people associate with Catherine, but, like my original perception of romance novels, there was more to her than that. The story is based on exhaustive research not only of Catherine, but of Russia, the books she read, and the people with whom she associated.

In the novel, you’ll see her growth from a very naïve German girl to the most powerful woman in Europe. She had to learn to think for herself, break some rules, and learn to play a man’s game along the way.

Here’s the way Catherine perceives it in an excerpt from the book:


I was on my way to depose Peter on the eighteenth anniversary of the day I was officially betrothed to him.  Once again I remembered the young girl I had been, the one who was so eager to understand him and to please him, so eager to be Russian.  I had to acknowledge that girl was gone forever.  I didn’t mourn her passing.  Somehow I had always known that she was destined to become what I had become.  Now that the moment had arrived, however, I couldn’t help but be saddened by what the journey had entailed, what it had inevitably done to Peter.  No, I didn’t mourn her passing, but I did miss her innocence.


Peter III, the heir to the Russian throne and the man Catherine was chosen to marry made life difficult for her. He was both emotionally and physically immature. Modern researchers now say that was probably caused by the fact that he began heavy consumption of alcohol at approximately the age of nine. Here’s another excerpt and an example of their interaction. Peter is a grown young man, and Catherine is approximately sixteen and being pressured to produce an heir.


“Why do you not take me as your wife?” I asked.


“What a silly thing to say,” he said without looking up from playing with his toy soldiers which he’d brought with him to bed. “I took you as my wife months ago at that long ceremony in the cathedral.”


“I am speaking of the physical sense of things.”


He gave me a puzzled look.


“We should join our bodies and produce a child. Do you understand what I’m saying?”


His expression changed from puzzlement to terror.


I reached under the covers and took his small, withered penis into my hand. “I want you to put this inside me here,” I said pointing to my vagina. 

“When you do that and release your seed, that is what produces a baby.”


He hastily pulled himself away from me and got out of bed. “You are disgusting!” He left my bedchamber without noticing that he had knocked several of his toy soldiers to the floor.


Catherine took many lovers after that, not only because she was pressured to produce an heir but because she was seeking love and affection. She found it in more than one of her lovers. The people of Russia were less shocked by her romantic exploits, however, than they were by the fact that she started schools to educate women, that she had intellectual discourses with the likes of Voltaire, that she espoused doing away with serfdom, that she took it upon herself to rewrite all the laws of Russia to bring it into the modern era of eighteenth century Europe.

Sins of the Empress is the story of a woman of passion who wasn’t afraid to go after what she wanted. That’s what I call a romance novel.



To find out more about Paula Paul and her books, visit www.paulapaul.net. And for a chance to win Sins of The Empress, just leave a comment below. Giveaway open to U.S/Canada only.


*Giveaway sponsored by the author

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Growing up, Ellen Carlisle was a Christian: She went to Jesus camp, downed stale Nilla Wafers at Sunday school, and never, ever played with Ouija boards. Now, years later, when infertility prevents her from giving her ambitious attorney husband a family, she finds herself on the brink of divorce, unemployed, and living with her right-wing, born-again Christian parents in her suburban New Jersey hometown. There the schools are private, the past is public, and blessings come in lump sums.

Then Ellen meets a man to whom she believes she can open her heart, and she begins to think that maybe it’s true that everything happens for a reason—until all that was going well starts going very badly and Ellen is finally forced to dig deep to find her own brand of faith.



For a chance to win Can I Get An Amen by Sarah Healy, just leave a comment below. The winner will be drawn on Sunday.

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Felicia M. Ciaudelli

wins Darkest Highlander by Donna Grant


Soph S.

wins Lucky In Love by Jill Shalvis


June M.

wins Lethal Rider by Larissa Ione



wins Endless Heart by Emma Lang


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

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The Best Books You’re Not Reading is a new feature at Novels Thoughts. Long ago, TV Guide had The Best Shows You’re Not Watching, where they would highlight great shows that weren’t high in the ratings. We wanted to do something similar. We’ll be spotlighting books that we love but haven’t seen a lot of buzz about in Romance Land.

Our first spotlight is on The Edge of Courage (Red Team, Book 1) by Elaine Levine.

I read this book this week and it absolutely blew me away. Rocco Silas has spent the last 7 years undercover in Afghanistan. An explosion sent him back home a shattered man with memory loss and PTSD. When the book starts, he is in a homeless shelter after being discharge from Walter Reed. His nightmares and hallucinations make it impossible for him to stay around that many people and he ends up living in his truck until his best friend and Red Team handler Kit calls him and asks Rocco to help his little sister Mandy at her therapeutic riding center. Strange things are happening there and she is currently without a handyman.

Rocco broke my heart. He is so incredibly broken and his flashbacks are so realistically written that it hurt to read them. He is determined to beat the PTSD so he can go back to Afghanistan to find his son, whom everyone else believes died in the explosion. Mandy is unaware of his plans but is determined to help him heal. As Rocco and Mandy grow closer, the trust he places in her is beautiful. He is terrified of touch, but allows hers. When he has a hallucination, if Mandy doesn’t see what he sees, then he can logically know it’s not real and fight to find his way out of it. And when danger shows up at her riding center, he makes it clear that they will have to go through him to get to the woman that has become his everything.

The suspense plot was good but that wasn’t what made this such an amazing read for me. The romance was front and center, with emotion practically dripping from the page. I haven’t enjoyed a romantic suspense this much in a long time and I can’t wait for the next book in the series.

As a bonus, it is only 99 cents right now. Less than a buck for a book I would have happily paid hardcover price for. It really was that good 😀

Author’s website:


Barnes & Noble

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The Blurb

Cath Talarico knows a mistake when she makes it, and God knows she’s made her share. So many, in fact, that this Chicago girl knows London is her last, best shot at starting over. But bad habits are hard to break, and soon Cath finds herself back where she has vowed never to go . . . in the bed of a man who is all kinds of wrong: too rich, too classy, too uptight for a free-spirited troublemaker like her.

Nev Chamberlain feels trapped and miserable in his family’s banking empire. But beneath his pinstripes is an artist and bohemian struggling to break free and lose control. Mary Catherine — even her name turns him on — with her tattoos, her secrets, and her gamine, sex-starved body, unleashes all kinds of fantasies.

When blue blood mixes with bad blood, can a couple that is definitely wrong for each other ever be perfectly right? And with a little luck and a lot of love, can they make last night last a lifetime?

The Review

About Last Night started out a little slow for me and, at the beginning, I didn’t see how it was different than any other dozen contemporary romances available. Career-oriented heroine has an almost one night stand with uptight sexy hero, big regrets, she pushes him away, blah, blah, blah. Within a few chapters, I realized that wasn’t the case.

Cath has made some major mistakes in her life and she owns them. They aren’t brushed aside as youthful indiscretions, they are handled with respect for the serious consequences these decisions have left behind. Cath not only doesn’t trust those around her, she doesn’t trust herself. As a result, she tries to keep her relationship with Nev just physical while he tries to tear down every wall she puts between them.

I loved the balance between the smoking hot scenes and the darker emotional moments. I was fully invested in Cath and Nev and was holding my breath, waiting for the moment when all would be revealed. And when all was revealed, it was just as intense as the build up led me to hope for. The ending has one of the best hero grovels I’ve ever read, all without the hero speaking a word. Totally sigh-worthy.

Favorite Quote:

“I promise you, whatever we are together, it’s not a mistake. It’s too good to be a mistake.”

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: June 11th, 2012
Format: digital

Barnes & Noble

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