Guest Author: Mary Campisi & Giveaway!

I’m so pleased to have contemporary and historical romance author Mary Campisi visiting with us today.  Mary has been published with Kensington Publishing, Carina Press, The Wild Rose Press, and Jocelyn Hollow Romance. Two years ago, she began digitally self-publishing her front and backlist books. In October, four short months after she offered her contemporary romance, A Family Affair, as a free download on Amazon, Mary had over half a million downloads!

Wow, that’s amazing!  Let’s have a little chat with Mary and find out what else is going on in her world.

You have both contemporary romances and historical romances under your writing belt – do you prefer one genre over the other?  What attracts you to these two different genres?

I began with historicals for the pure joy of falling into romance through a fairytale setting. The beautiful young women, the wealthy men, the titles, the gowns, even the villains are pure fairytale material reminiscent of Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, and Sleeping Beauty. The historical lifts me up and carries me away into happily ever after. And here’s a confession; I watch Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice at least once a month. (The Matthew Macfadyen and Keira Knightley version.) I know many Austen critics say it’s not true to the story, but I can’t help it, the chemistry is there for me. I love the scene in the rain when Mr. Darcy professes his love for Elizabeth and proposes — she rejects him and then there is the ‘almost’ kiss. And when Mr. Darcy hands Ms. Elizabeth into the carriage and squeezes her hand, I can feel that emotion.

Writing contemporary romance comes naturally to me. Most of my contemporary works are hybrids; combination contemporary romance and women’s fiction. I love to explore relationships and how they are affected by things like betrayal, deception, death, or dealing with the aftermath of a difficult decision. I’ll toss these things at the main characters and see how they do or do not deal with these issues. Once they’ve struggled enough, I’ll follow them along on their character growth trail and cheer as they find that second chance at life and love.

Your books have a lot of heart and you don’t dodge the tough stuff.  Why is that?

I guess I write about tough situations because I’ve lived through quite a few of my own. I know what betrayal feels like, and loss—of dreams, hope, a marriage— and I understand the pain, the self-doubt, the not knowing if you’ll ever feel whole again. I use these emotions to create my characters and to explore relationships that are less than perfect – but are real life as I see it. It’s interesting that you should mention this because I’ve recently begun analyzing the recurrent themes in my books and I’m compiling a collection of short stories with a commentary tied to each which addresses the reason behind the story and the novel/s with like themes that grew out of those stories. My biggest and most used theme is second chances. And of course, I often write about that one true love that surpasses time, situation, and circumstance.

What can you tell us about your upcoming release, Simple Riches?

Simple Riches is a contemporary romance set in a small town much like the one in northwestern Pennsylvania where I grew up. Here’s the blurb…

Alexandra Chamberlain is a cosmopolitan woman whose uncle taught her to discard everything but the bottom line on a balance sheet. She’ll do anything to earn his approval and prides herself on excelling at her job, which is selecting small towns to buy up, flatten, and replace with luxury resorts. When Alex decides to investigate Restalline, Pennsylvania as a potential site for the next resort, she enters the town under the guise of a researcher gathering information for a documentary. It should be easy, just like all the others. But this town is different, from Alex’s zany landlord to Nick Androvich, the town doctor with a battered heart who questions Alex’s motives yet can’t deny his attraction to her. As Alex and Nick explore their growing relationship, they must face the truth about each other and themselves as they search for their own Simple Riches.

And now for the fun question:  If you were stranded on a deserted island with the man of your dreams, what two luxury items would you bring along with you?

A razor? Hmmm. A toothbrush and Colgate Total Advanced Clean toothpaste? Oh, no…my very favorite Caribou coffee – decaf and regular, depending on morning or evening. And I’ll need cream. Or are there animals that produce milk on this island? Black coffee bothers my stomach. I guess I can forgo the coffee machine because there won’t be electricity but the man of my dreams is highly intelligent and capable of constructing an apparatus to brew coffee. I suppose I can craft a mug of some sort – I’m quite crafty…Ooops..forgot about soap. I’ll need quite a bit of that. Maybe a tube or two of Bath & Body mentha chapstick and moisturizer…and shampoo. Did I say dental floss? Hmmm. Where will we sleep? And what about pillows? We can share T-shirts but not shorts – I am a bit curvier than the man of my dreams! Do you know what kind of food will be available on this island? Exotic fruits? Veggies? Fish? I bet I’ll have a lot of time to write, so will need several notebooks and pens. I think that’s it. Let me think. Oh, no. What about toilet paper? I bet THAT’s not provided. Well. I’ll have to think about that. I’m not going to ask the man of my dreams if he’ll need anything, because he’ll have me – what else could he possibly need?!

So, I can really only pick two things? Okay. Two suitcases stuffed with all of the above!

Clever, Mary!  I just might let you get away with that.  For my readers today, Mary is giving away a copy of Simple Riches.  For a chance to win, just tell Mary and me what are a few of the simple riches in your life.

Simple Riches – Amazon  B & Ni-Tunes

Paradise FoundAmazon,  i-TunesB&N,   KoboSmashwords





Guest Author: Karen Rose Smith & Giveaway!

We have a very special guest author on the blog today.  It’s Karen Rose Smith, the USA Today bestselling writer of warm and heartfelt contemporary romance.  Unbelievably, Karen has published 75 books since 1991, with publishers like Silhouette, Harlequin, and Kensington.  She’s won several awards, including the Golden Leaf and the Golden Quill, and she’s made the Borders Group Bestseller list for Series Romance and the Amazon Romance Bestseller list.

Whew!  What a career!

Karen loves writing books with a lot of emotion.  She was an only child who dreamed of having lots of brothers and sisters, although she did grow up in a big extended family.  She brings that love of family into her books, with plotlines that include small towns and strong personal and family relationships.  Critics and readers alike love her stories.  Here’s what Romance Reviews Today had to say about her books:

“Karen Rose Smith’s storeyworlds are complete and realistic and lovely places to visit and revisit. She excels at stories that feature couples brought together by infants and children, and she handles her plots and characters with sublime sensitivity.”

Fortunately for her readers, Karen has lots of good stuff out this year.  In August, her Montana Mavericks release, His Country Cinderella, came out from Harlequin Special Edition.

The hero of this book is a country music singer—I love that idea!  Here’s the blurb:

Zane Gunther once entertained fans with his down-home, heartfelt songs. But a tragedy at one of his concerts has turned him into a hermit. The gift of music has left him.

Can a resilient single mom give him back that gift along with her love?

Who doesn’t love a good Cinderella story?

Karen continues the Cinderella theme with her next book, coming out in late September.  This story is part of her Reunion Brides series, set in the fictional town of Miner’s Bluff, Arizona and featuring couples who attend their high school reunion.  Fun!

Here’s the blurb for Once Upon A Groom:

Zack and Jenny fell in love in high school. But Zack intended to escape the Rocky D while Jenny craved the roots she’d found on his parents’ ranch. With resentment and bitterness toward his father, blaming him for his mother’s death, Zack found a life as a movie director with wealth, fame and privilege. Now when he returns to Miners Bluff, his father isn’t the man he once was. And Jenny has a secret she has never divulged.

Old fires reignite as Zack and Jenny fall in love all over again. Will their differences push them apart once more? Or can love truly conquer all?

I love both fairy tale themes and reunion plots, so this book sounds great!  You can check out the details for both Once Upon A Groom and His Country Cinderella on Karen’s website

While you’re there, you might want to check out her short story collections, which also continue her Cinderella theme.  There’s Everyday Prince Charming and Everyday Cinderellas, both of which sound like lovely collections.  She also has some new e-books and number of backlist books re-released in digital format.  You can get all the details on her Dear Reader page.

And Karen has a lovely blog too, called Cats, Roses…And BooksTrust me—you’ll want to stop by and check out her Cranberry-Orange-Pecan scone recipe!

For my readers, Karen has graciously donated a copy of His Country CinderellaLet’s talk contemporary romance.  Do you read contemporary romance?  If so, which authors do you really enjoy?  One person who comments will win a copy of Karen’s book.


Guest Author: Lila Di Pasqua & A Midnight Dance

Today’s guest author is Lila DiPasqua, who writes lush and sexy historical romance with a fairy tale twist.  In fact, she writes “Fiery Tales,” classic fairy tales cleverly reimagined into sensual and sophisticated romances.  The first in her Fiery Tales collection is Awakened by a Kiss, which retells Sleeping Beauty, Puss In Boots, and Little Red Riding Hood.  This debut collection got great reviews, including a 5 star review from The Romance Dish:

“Every now and then a debut author knocks my socks off with her first novel. . . AWAKENED BY A KISS is a magnificent debut!!!! …Purchase it right now!!!” — The Romance Dish

I have to tell you, I love the idea of taking classic fairy tales from our childhood and retelling them as sensual and romantic adult tales.  It’s one of those great high concepts that makes a writer think…damn, I wish I’d thought of that!

Here’s the book trailer for Awakened By A Kiss, which gives you a sense of what these stories are about.


Lila’s second collection of Fiery Tales is The Princess in His Bed, which got phenomenal reviews including this one from Publishers Weekly:   “Ripe with steamy affairs, these lusty stories are hot enough to warm the coldest winter night.”

Wow!  Or steam things up on a hot summer night too, eh?  Romance Junkies gave the collection a coveted 5 ribbon review:

Lila DiPasqua weaves another sumptuous collection. The heroines are ladies in every way, the heroes just rakish enough to be adored… I recommend this to all adult fairytale lovers. – 5 RIBBONS!

For historical romance lovers, what could be more enticing than all those handsome princes from days gone by, coming back to life as sexy romance heroes between the pages of Lila’s books – fun!

Lila has a new book coming out in August. A Midnight Dance is a full-length historical romance, inspired by the tale of Cinderella.

Of all the fairy tales we know, Cinderella is perhaps the most romantic and just perfect for Lila’s unique talents.  Here’s the blurb:

Born into wealth, Sabine Laurent and her twin sister lived a life of luxury, their father’s prestigious theater frequented by royalty and aristocracy alike. And Sabine dreamed of her own prince charming—the devastatingly handsome Jules de Moutier.

That was before the loss of her sister and her family’s fall from grace—a disaster Sabine blames on the Moutier family. Now, with her father’s death, she’s inherited his sizable debt and the responsibility of caring for his spoiled long-time mistress and her two wastrel daughters. But with the help of Sabine’s eccentric friends—the balance of her father’s acting troupe—she plans to get very close to her old infatuation, seduce the rake—and make away with a fortune.

Resisting Jules’s skillful mouth and tantalizing touch is not as easy as Sabine supposed. And soon she must decide whether her desire for vengeance is greater than her desire for her one and only prince…

Doesn’t that sound great?  Jennifer Ashley, the acclaimed New York Times bestselling author of The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie would agree:

“A MIDNIGHT DANCE is a fun, spicy, historical romp that’s sure to delight! A lovely twist on the Cinderella fairy tale, with a deliciously dark hero and a heroine who’s more than a match for him.”— Jennifer Ashley, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author

A Midnight Dance is available for pre-order on Amazon, and at all your favorite booksellers.  You can find more info about the book, including an excerpt, on Lila’s website.  And while you’re on Lila’s website, be sure to check out her amazing contest for her upcoming blog tour and party.  And here’s another one of Lila’s interesting and totally fun twists – the blog party is being hosted by her husband, and will feature interviews with the husbands of romance writers, including mine!  Yes, DH will be appearing on Lila’s blog on July 21.  Mr. DiPasqua will also be hosting the husbands of Sophie Jordan, Kris Kennedy, Kate Noble, and Kieran Kramer, among many others.  The whole thing sounds like a riot, so you’d best get yourself over to Lila’s blog and check out the details.

Lila has very graciously donated a copy of A Midnight Dance, which I will give away to one person who stops by the blog today or tomorrow morning.  Just tell me what’s your favorite fairy tale, either as a child or as an adult.