Great weekend reads & a giveaway!!

What are you folks reading this weekend?  I’ve got three great books to recommend:  one a historical romance and the other two, romantic suspense.  First up is a luscious historical by the talented Monica Burns.  Monica writes award-winning, sensual romance, often with a bit of a twist.  She has a new book out–Loves Revenge, and you can see at the top of the post that she’s got a gorgeous cover, too!  If you like lush, sensual historical romance, I can heartily recommend Monica’s new book.  Blurbs, info, and buy links are on her website.

I can also recommend Cynthia Eden’s new book, Guardian Ranger, which is the second book in her Harlequin Intrigue series, Shadow Agents.  Cynthia is a master of dark and sexy romantic suspense–I simply love her books!

Check out Cynthia’s website for all the info on Guardian Ranger and her other fab romantic suspense and paranormal romances.

And, finally, I can recommend another great book from Harlequin’s Intrigue line, this one from the talented Lena Diaz.  Lena’s a rising star in romantic suspense, with the emotional thrillers she writes for both Harlequin and Avon.  Her latest book is The Marshall’s Witness, and you can get all the details on her website.

And just for fun, I’m giving away a copy of The Marshall’s Witness.  Just tell me what you’re reading this weekend for a chance to win Lena’s book!

Guest Author: Lena Diaz & Giveaway!

Talented romantic suspense author (and truly wonderful friend) Lena Diaz is visiting with us once more.  She’s going to tell us all about her latest book from Avon.  Take it away, Lena!

Vanessa, thank you so much for hosting me on your awesome blog. As you know, I’m a contemporary romantic suspense author. But like so many romance readers, I love many genres, including – of course – historical romance. Since your blog is focused toward historical romance, I wanted to talk about some of my favorite historical romance novels and authors today.

I just recently read Vanessa’s latest release, My Favorite Countess, and LOVED it. (You can read my review on Amazon.) I’ve got Sex and the Single Earl on my TBR list, and am looking forward to whatever else Vanessa serves up in the future. (Vanessa, here.  I told you that Lena was awesome!)

You might be surprised to hear that I only started reading contemporary romances in the past few years. Before that, I ONLY read historical romance. We’re talking hundreds, probably thousands, of historical romances that I’ve read in my lifetime. The first ones that I can remember were those classic gothic romances by Victoria Holt and Phyllis Whitney. Oh my gosh, talk about atmosphere. I loved the darkness, the creepy castles on desolate cliffs, the danger . . . hey wait, maybe I can see a connection here. Those sound like elements in my romantic suspense novels – minus the castles of course.

Setting is so important in historical romance, and it’s important in my latest novel as well. Simon Says Die is set in Savannah, Georgia, a town I love to visit and that has such incredible atmosphere and history. Naturally my heroine lives in the historic district, in an old house with secret passageways. And I couldn’t resist writing a scene set in one of the old cemeteries as well. Creepy cool!

But I digress.

Back to my favorite historical romances and authors. After Holt and Whitney, I moved on to sexy historicals by Rosemary Rogers. Who can forget Sweet Savage Love? And then I discovered the Queen of Romance, Kathleen Woodiwiss. Oh. My. Gosh. I own every one of her books – in hardback. My favorites include The Flame and the Flower, Shanna, A Rose in Winter, and my all-time favorite historical EVER – Ashes in the Wind. Woodiwiss built the historical romance genre from the ground up. So many authors were able to follow along and develop this amazing genre, only because she paved the way first.

Those purple-prose novels of the eighties gave way to a newer style of writing which was cleaner, leaner, and in many cases – humorous. Even though I love my romantic suspense to be dark and gritty, when I read historicals I often pick up ones with a light, funny bent. Julia Quinn is one of the best authors at making me laugh. I love the way she can turn a phrase, and her dialogue is laugh-out-loud funny. My favorite? How to Marry a Marquis. When I first read that book, I laughed so hard there were tears rolling down my face. I say FIRST read, because I own all of Julia Quinn’s novels and frequently re-read them. Yes, they are THAT good.

Another favorite historical author of mine is Amanda Quick, pseudonym for the amazing Jayne Ann Krentz. The Quick novels include all that delicious historical atmosphere and the settings we love so much, along with a smart, accomplished heroine. Which leads me back to Vanessa Kelly as my newest favorite historical romance author.

When I read My Favorite Countess, it literally blew me away. The dialogue is witty. The characters are complex and intelligent. And the situations in this novel are unique and so real I felt like I was back in the Regency era truly experiencing the ‘real’ life of these lords and ladies.

Kelly doesn’t dress up the gritty reality of how hard life really was back then. She shows it like it is (or was). To me, she’s a maverick in the historical romance genre. Using a turn of phrase from the regency era, Vanessa Kelly is a true original.

So what about you, reader? Do you have some author or book recommendations you can share with me? I’m always looking for a great new romance to read, in any genre.

Thanks again for hosting me Vanessa!

Vanessa, here.  Lena, you are supposed to be talking about your own book, not mine!  Thank you so much for your kind words.  And readers, it’s clearly up to me to tell you how wonderful Lena’s books are.  If you like romantic suspense, you will LOVE her.  Check out the blurb for Simon Says Die below, and also hop over to Lena’s website for her news and excerpts.  

Lena is giving away one e-book copy of Simon Says Die to one of the commenters in a random drawing (via either B&N or Amazon – reader’s choice).  Just tell us what your favorite setting is for a creepy suspense book or movie for a chance to win her book.  Do you like isolated settings like a scary manor house on a windswept coast, or do you go things like gritty urban settings, a la Law and Order?

Here’s the blurb for Simon Says Die.  Readers can read the prologue and first chapter on Lena’s website.

Simon says: I’m watching. Simon says: I’m coming. Simon says: Die.

Madison McKinley knows someone is stalking her. The police tell her she’s imagining things, and they’re too busy trying to find the “Simon Says” killer to investigate. But day by day, hour by hour, Madison’s terror grows stronger, and not even the return of FBI Special Agent Pierce Buchanan into her life can calm her fears. Besides, how can she ask Pierce for his help after the way she ended things between them?

Pierce still wants Madison’s love, and his drive to protect her is more powerful than ever. He believes she’s in danger, even if the cops don’t. Finally, as more people start dying and the evidence mounts, the police turn their attention to Madison—as a suspect. Was Pierce a fool to trust her again, or are they both caught in a complex game that neither will survive?


Guest Author: Katharine Ashe & Giveaway!

I’m so happy to have the fabulous Katharine Ashe on the blog today.  Katharine writes gorgeous, critically acclaimed historical romances full of adventure and sensuality.  Her new book, In the Arms of a Marquess, will be released on August 30.  It’s already getting fantastic buzz and reviews, which doesn’t surprise me one bit!  I’ll turn the blog over to Katharine now, as she tells us about her secret cravings…

Indulging in the Exotic

I am a homebody. I love my cozy family room, my sink-into-it couch with fuzzy pillows (I bought on sale!), sun shining through the leaves of my potted palm, my pups napping on the floor. Sometimes when I write I sit at my kitchen table, coffee mug and a little plate of cookies beside me, or on the back deck where a hummingbird occasionally visits and I can hear boys playing basketball in the park through the woods. I love my quiet little street, my friendly neighborhood, my local café, the grocery store where I know everybody, and the laundromat where I chat each week with Millie about our latest romance reads.

I am a homebody.

But sometimes… I crave the exotic.


I’ve had this craving for years. I haven’t tried to curb it. Instead, I indulge it. In the 70’s, my mother learned from a dieting guru that “humming foods” – foods you crave while dieting – can be the ruination of your diet if you don’t hum back to them, i.e. nibble them occasionally. I like this theory.

But I don’t nibble. I feast.

Usually my feast is a book, a delectable novel about some far-off place I’ve only seen in pictures and dreams… deserts where the heat rises in waves off the sand while caravans of bejeweled camels march along… glittering island seas where the water is so blue it hurts the eye with its perfection… golden pyramids that rise into the heavens… towering pinnacles on sparkling temples… fortress walls that stretch hundreds of miles across windswept mountaintops… the sumptuous sprawl of palaces built entirely for luxury and pleasure. It’s all the better if it’s a historical novel, especially a romance. When I read one of these I can sit in the comfort of my cozy house and, for a handful of hours, live a very different life. A life of fantastic adventure. It’s magical.

Sometimes, though, I answer the “humming” by writing. From the delicious comfort of Regency England, I take a step into the exotic, then another, and another into the vast, magnificent British Empire of the early nineteenth century. I don’t go for long! I adore the flirtations of London ballrooms, the witty banter of drawing rooms, romantic drives in the park and scandalous gossip around the tea table. I never stray far from those. In fact, what I love to do most is bring the exotic home to enjoy.

So that’s what I’ve done in my next book, IN THE ARMS OF A MARQUESS, coming on August 30. Sensible, shockingly honest Miss Octavia Pierce has a taste for the exotic, and the daring to go after it. Dark-eyed and delectably handsome Lord Ben Doreé, a man of mystery—raised like any English nobleman but not fully English, on the edge of society but never fully within it—has secrets Octavia is determined to discover. And he may just let her, but only if she agrees to a shocking proposition…

She had never forgotten him…

Miss Octavia Pierce is witty, well off, and shockingly unwed. Still, she is far too successful in society to remain on the shelf forever, and her family has hopes that Octavia will finally make the perfect match. What they do not know is that years earlier Octavia was scandalously tempted by the one man capable of sweeping her off her feet—the man now known as the Marquess of Doreé.

A third son, never meant to inherit, Lord Ben Doreé has abandoned his past and grown accustomed to his illustrious new position of wealth and power. But he has never forgotten Octavia, and now she desperately needs his help in a most dangerous, clandestine matter. Although she claims she has put the memories of the passion they shared behind her, Ben is determined to once again have her in his arms—and in his bed.

Vanessa, here.  Just for us, Katharine is a giving away a copy of Swept Away by a Kiss, the first book in her critically acclaimed Rogues of the Sea series.

Here’s the question she wants you to answer:  do you ever allow yourself to indulge in the exotic? Whether it’s adding a dash of cinnamon to your morning coffee or haring off on a trip around the world, how do you feed your cravings?  One reader who shares her secret craving (mine is chocolate cupcakes!) will win a copy of this marvelous book.

And don’t forget – as part of its K.I.S.S. and Teal campaign, Avon Romance is donating 25c from the sale of each copy of IN THE ARMS OF A MARQUESS (print or e-book) to support Ovarian Cancer research and support for victims and families.

Katharine Ashe & The K.I.S.S. & Teal Campaign

I’m thrilled to announce that the fabulous Katharine Ashe will be kicking off the blog tour for her latest book, In the Arms of a Marquess, right here on my blog!

She’ll be here all day tomorrow, so please make sure to drop by.  It’s sure to be a lot of fun, but we’ll also be doing something else that’s very important.  Did you notice the white and teal badge on Katharine’s book cover?  That’s the official emblem of Avon Romance’s K.I.S.S. and Teal Campaign, which supports research for Ovarian Cancer and also helps victims and their families.  Avon is donating 25 cents from the sale of each copy (print or digital) of In the Arms of a Marquess to support this campaign.  What an absolutely terrific thing to do!

So stop by tomorrow – we’ll be chatting with Katharine and helping put the boots to this dreaded disease.  Win/win!