Drumroll, please…And 2011 RITA finalists are…

RWA (Romance Writers of America) has announced 2011 RITA and Golden Heart Award finalists. The 2011 RITA will honor romance fiction published in 2010. More than 1,100 novels and novellas were judged in 12 categories.

The 2011 Golden Heart Award honors unpublished romance manuscripts in 2010.

Winners of the awards will be announced July 1, 2011 at the RITA and Golden Heart Awards Ceremony to be held at RWA’s 31st Annual National Conference in New York City, New York.

Out of the twelve categories, I’ll be keeping my eye only on three: Best First Book, Historical Romance and Regency Historical Romance. Some of my favorite authors are up for them and they’re competing against each other. I’ll be glad to see any of them win the statue.

2011 RITA Finalists for Best First Book 

  • Enemy Within by Marcella Burnard
  • Firestorm by Kelly Ann Riley
  • I Now Pronounce You Someone Else by Erin McCahan
  • The Iron King by Julie Kagawa
  • Pieces of Sky by Kaki Warner
  • The Summer of Skinny Dipping by Amanda Howells
  • A Tailor-Made Bride by Karen Witemeyer
  • Wanna Get Lucky? by Deborah Coonts
  • When Harry Met Molly by Kieran Kramer

2011 RITA Finalists for Historical Romance 

2011 RITA Finalists for Regency Historical Romance 

  • His Christmas Pleasure by Cathy Maxwell
  • The Mischief of the Mistletoe by Lauren Willig
  • Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean
  • Provocative in Pearls by Madeline Hunter
  • To Surrender to a Rogue by Cara Elliott
  • Twice Tempted by a Rogue by Tessa Dare
  • When Harry Met Molly by Kieran Kramer
  • The Wicked Wyckerly by Patricia Rice

Congrats to all the Finalists and ‘May the Force be with you’!

For a full list of RITA and Golden Heart finalists please go to RWA.org.

My ‘Romance Reader At Heart’ Book Reviews

My evenings have been lonely lately with my DH working evening shift, so I had plenty of time to read. I received about ten books from ‘Romance Reader at Heart’ and it felt like Christmas Morning.

“Awakened by a Kiss” by Lila DiPasqua

“An Unlikely Countess” by Jo Beverley

“Never a Gentleman” by Eileen Dreyer

Emily and the Dark Angel” by Jo Beverley

“What I Did for a Duke” by Julie Anne Long 

“Treasure Me” by Robyn de Heart

“Wicked Seduction” by Jade Lee

Forbidden Magic” by Jo Beverley 

“Pleasure Me” by Monica Burns

“The Devil in Disguise” by Stefanie Sloane

“Captured by a Rogue Lord” by Katharine Ashe

I’ve read all but “Captured by a Rogue Lord” and “The Devil in Disguise”. I started off with “Awakened by a Kiss” and ended with “Forbidden Magic”. Since these reviews have been done for ‘Romance Reader at Heart’ I’d love it if you’d stop by and check them out.

First book I read was “Awakened by a Kiss” by Lila DiPasqua and let me tell you, that’s one book you’ll need to take a cold shower while you’re reading. I’m usually not into reading very explicit (read graphic) books and reading this one, I know why. It tends to be one-dimensional and only about sex. To read my full review of it click here. If you like Erotica, my bet is you’ll not want to miss this one.

Next came “An Unlikely Countess” by Jo Beverley and if you’re JoBev fan, and I am, you’ll love this story. I’ve discovered Jo’s work only recently but this Lady sure can weave a tale! She had me at “An Arranged Marriage” and I’ll never tire reading her books. I recently reread that one only because I missed Nicholas Delaney, Hero of Heroes. If you’ve never read Jo Beverly, you’re missing on some amazing story telling. I also appreciate her little Author Notes at the end of every book, where she gives us a bit of inside info on the story. You’ll find my review of it here.

In last year’s “Barely a Lady” we met Diccan and Grace, the Hero and Heroine of my next RRAH book review, “Never a Gentleman”.  I never expected their story to be so full of angst. I was not disappointed and my hat’s off to Eileen Dreyer. She wrote a very real, very emotional story that will stay with me for a while. This was one of the harder reviews to write, and I hope I’ve managed to convey my feelings for it, so if you’ll like to know exactly what I mean, check it out here.

“Treasure Me” ends The Men of Solomon’s series that I’ll miss as these were such fun to read. All three books will appeal to lovers of mystery as well as romance. I’m a huge fan of Indiana Jones, Mummy and National Treasure movies, so I really liked this Trilogy. My favorite is “Seduce Me” and the mystery of Pandora’s Box. If you’d like to read my thoughts on this book, you can go here.

I’d like to recommend all four books. They’re all worth spending an evening or two with. Especially if your significant other isn’t around.

Right now I’m working on my reviews of the other half of the first batch and as soon as it gets posted on RRAH website I’ll be happy to bring it to you, and ’till then, Happy Reading my Bookworms :)

DWTS…and off they GO!

True to my word, I’m watching yet another season of CTW ( ‘Celebrity Train Wreck’). Last season I was going nuts with Palin ‘chicklet’ and this year is looking even worse than the last. We have a hodge-podge of Celebrity’s I’ve not seen in a long time, and some I hoped never to see. Here’s the list for Season 12:

Emmy and Golden Globe winner Kirstie Alley and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: (YOU GO GIRL!) I just LOVE her and I’ll be watching out for her. She showed guts and some sexy moves with Maks.  They rocked.  She has a real chance to win this thing.

Original Karate Kid Ralph Macchio and Karina Smirnoff: (HEY NOW!) Who knew this ‘kid’ can move? Oh, wait, we did! This cat was in a KARATE KID! Mr. Miyagy had him jump through hoops (or is it wax on and wax off?) sorry just couldn’t help myself. Daniel-son is the one to watch out for.

From E! Kendra Wilkinson and Louis Van Amstel: (SERIOUSLY?) What’s this chick famous for? Oh, yes. She slept with Hugh Hefner! Aren’t her 15 minutes of fame up, like 5 years ago? She has some potential, but I give her ’till the seventh show, no more. I feel she’ll annoy the shit out of me.

Boxing man Sugar Ray Leonard and Anna Trebunskaya: (WHY, BUT OH WHY?) This guy never passes an opportunity no matter how embarrassing! Trust me, he’ll not last long. I give The Champ five rounds, and he’ll go down. Unless his partner throws in the towel in a third round.

Disney dream gal Chelsea Kane and Mark Ballas: (WHO?) I found out that OMG! she K-I-S-S-E-D one of the JONAH BROS! AGGHHHH!!! On the other hand I just LOVE her haircut and can’t wait to grab a good picture of it and take it to my Hair stylist at Great Clips! I do have to admit, though, she’s the best of the bunch, and I won’t be surprised to see her win.

Hip Hop prince, Romeo and Chelsie Hightower: (LITTLE?) This guy’s so full of crap, and himself that if you give him enough room, he’ll crash quickly enough. His dad Mastah P was the guy that could not score higher than TWO! He’s already all over his partner!

Supermodel Petra Nemcova and Dmitry Chaplin: (REALLY?)  Someone , please, please, give this girl a sandwich! She’s thin as a rail! I see a lot of potential, but this could be an accident waiting to happen and I’d not be surprised if she ends up with an injury.

NFL Superbowl Steeler Hines Ward and Kym Johnson: (AGAIN, WHO?) I’m so not into sports, he might as well be a Martian! I give him three strikes, and he’s out. Wait. That’s wrong terminology. Hell, who cares. He’s not staying past the third show.

Loveline co-host Mike Catherwood and Lacey Schwimmer: (WHY?) This guy’s no ADAM CAROLLA even though both have two left feet! He might be tied with Wendy for a First Exit role.

Queen of media Wendy Williams and Tony Dovolani: (WHAT?) I never liked this chick. I feel sorry for Toni. After Kate (the Mom with eight), he gets this chick? What are you people trying to do to this man? He’ll go insane doing this show! She also CANNOT dance, and I’ll be shocked if she’s not the first to go.

WWE Champ Chris Jericho and Cheryl Burke: (WHO?) I never watch WWE, so I’m in the dark with this Dude. I don’t think even Cheryl will be able to help him stay off the ropes.

So there they are! Season Twelve DWTS contenders. Are you watching and if you are, will you vote for your favorite? I’m not quite sure I’ll be watching, but how can I not? It’s like a train wreck, you can’t take your eyes off even though you know how it’ll end!

“Call Me Irresistible” by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

STORY: Lucy Jorik is the daughter of the former President of the United States. Meg Koranda is the offspring of legends. One of them is about to marry Mr. Irresistible—Ted Beaudine—the favorite son of Wynette, Texas. The other is not happy about it and is determined to save her friend from a mess of heartache. RSVP TO THE MOST RIOTOUS WEDDING OF THE YEAR!

But even though Meg knows that breaking up her best friend’s wedding is the right thing to do, no one else seems to agree. Faster than Lucy can say “I don’t,” Meg becomes the most hated woman in town—a town she’s stuck in with a dead car, an empty wallet, and a very angry bridegroom. Broke, stranded, and without her famous parents at her back, Meg is sure she can survive on her own wits. What’s the worst that can happen? Lose her heart to the one and only Mr. Irresistible? Not likely. Not likely at all.

REVIEW: I don’t read contemporary books. I tried the genre MANY years ago with “Lucky” by Jackie Collins, and I just never got into them. The stories to me just didn’t “sing” like Historical Romance genre does. As a LibraryThing.com member I got to read some of Contemporary authors last year, and I’m concluding that my feelings haven’t changed at all on the genre. So, that said, here are my thoughts on this book.

First, this is the only book by this Author that I read and if all her books are paced as this one, then I like her pace. This book wasn’t boring for a very simple reason. It was chock full of smart dialogue and plenty of action and reaction. It kept moving the plot and kept my interest. It was entertaining and would make a good Made for TV movie. Then why did I find it lacking? After two nights of reading it I figured it out.

Ted, our hero was seen mostly through Meg and we got a glimpse of him through some of the secondary players, like his mother and close friends. What a ‘miss’ that was! By the time I got to ‘see’ his point of view, ‘feel’ what he felt, I’m already at the ‘climax’ of the story. That made me ‘unfulfilled’. I yearned to know him better because he turned out to be so much more than the ‘glimpse’ the Author has allowed me to see.  Through that last part, I realized that this man is so complex and beautiful and not just from the outside, but way down inside.

I’m wondering if maybe Author did this for a reason, not getting us into his head, I mean. Did she want me to be one of the women who “loved” Ted but didn’t really know him, his thoughts or his feelings? Was I to follow in the footsteps of all of Wynette’s residents and make assumptions about him just as well? If that was her purpose, only those readers that were familiar with her earlier books could ‘get’ him. As a first time reader of her books, I wasn’t allowed inside that circle until the end. Once I was allowed to ‘meet’ the hero, I mean really meet him, it was bitter-sweet as I wanted more of him.  

What are the chances that she’d rewrite it and this time include his POV? Truly, I would read it if she did.

As for Meg, our Heroine, I must say that I liked her a lot. I think a lot of us, even the ones that didn’t grow up with so much privilege as she did, can identify with her. Not many of us can say we had our shit together by the time we were thirty. Most of us had all kinds of hang ups to deal with before we finally got our act together and grew up. I liked her honesty, her spunk and wit. Here’s the excerpt of their first meeting from Meg’s POV at the beginning of the book:

Those eyes… Golden amber touched with honey and rimmed with flint. Eyes that blazed with intelligence and perception. Eyes that cut to the quick. As she stood before him, she felt Ted Beaudine gazing inside her and taking note of everything she worked so hard to hide—her aimlessness, her inadequacy, her absolute failure to claim a worthy place in the world.

We both know you’re a screw up,” his eyes said, “but I’m sure you’ll grow out of it some day. If not… Well… How much can anyone expect from an overindulged child of Hollywood?

Lucy was introducing them. “…so glad the two of you can finally meet. My best friend and my future husband.”

Meg prided herself on her tough veneer, but she barely managed a perfunctory nod.

“If I could have your attention…” the minister said.

Ted squeezed Lucy’s hand and smiled into his bride’s upturned face, a fond, satisfied smile that never once disturbed the detachment in those tiger quartz eyes. Meg’s alarm grew. Whatever emotions he felt for Lucy, none of them included the fierce passion her best friend deserved.”

Some of my favorite scenes are of Ted wandering the streets of San Francisco and thinking…

Coit Tower wasn’t open yet, so he walked the grounds, gazing out across the city and the bay as the fog begun to lift. He wished he could talk this whole mess over with Lucy, but he could hardly call her up after all this time and tell her that her best friend was an immature, demanding, overly emotional, unreasonable nutcase, and what the hell was he supposed to do about that?

He missed Lucy. Everything had been so easy with her.

He missed her…but he didn’t want to wring her neck like he wanted to wring Meg’s.

He didn’t want to make love with her until her eyes turned to smoke. He didn’t yearn for the sound of her voice, the joy of her laughter.

He didn’t ache for Lucy. Dream about her. Long for her.

He didn’t love her.

With a rustle of leaves and a chilly gust, the wind carried the fog out to sea.”

In reading that I knew that Ted’s heart and brain have aligned. At that moment the ‘fog’ is also lifting in his mind, and he realizes how much he loves this unpredictable, messy, nutty and utterly loveable woman. What a pleasure it was to finally meet him, see and feel through him! A scene where he loses it is priceless, but the one where he admits and accepts his feelings for Meg is great. Not to mention their final confrontation!

The plot weaved through the book was okay, but predictable, yet I didn’t mind it. Towns ‘folk’ were a bit over the top, and our villain was not that bad. As I mentioned before this book would make a ‘cute’ TV movie.

Trough the Author’s notes at the end of the book I found out that this is one of Wynette Series and I’m looking forward to reading all of them if for no other reason but to know Ted better. Lucy’s story will be next, and I hope that SEP’s paying attention to her readers, new and old, and lets us enjoy her books by giving us both POV’s, Hero’s as well as Heroines.

If you want to be entertained and laugh a bit, go ahead and read this book, although I wish to have read the previous books first.

Joined RR@HEART!

I’m doing a happy dance today. I was just welcomed to Romance Reader At Heart website and I have to tell you I’m really very happy about it. I will join Nancy and her little group in reading and reviewing romance novels. NO! I’m not abandoning my ‘baby’ here. I’ll still be posting book reviews here as well, and while some will be of the books I read for RRAH, they will NOT be the same review.

By doing this, I’m expanding my horizons, and meeting new like-minded bookworms all over the country. Not to mention saving a TON of money on buying books, which my DH will greatly appreciate.

I have been really busy lately at work and I haven’t had much time to post anything on, but last night while I waited for my DH to come home (he works 2nd shift), I added some links to the right and I hope you take the time and visit some of my favorite authors and blogs.

I’m actually astounded at the number of people who stopped by in the last four months! I would have loved if all of them left me a note, but alas they must be shy. I was thinking of maybe getting a Guest Book attached to the site, but I have yet to figure out how to do that.

One of these days it will all come together, I know it; it just takes time and patience on my part.

There are two reviews that are coming up and I’ll try to post them sometime this weekend and until then, enjoy some romance from my favorite cover artist Jon Paul. The cover above is for “Desperate Desires” by Terri Wolffe :) It looks like this at the end, and the book sounds very good. I think it’s a Novella and only on Kindle. Crap! I need a Kindle or a Nooke, or any other electronic device…My kids better pay attention. My Birthday’s around the corner guys!

PS: I’m also in a need of a diet that works and an easy exercise regiment that can be implemented at home. I need to get in shape by August 6th for my son’s wedding. I’m so bummed that my treadmill’s broke. And NO I didn’t break it by hanging too many clothes on it OR by stepping on it. The stupid thing’s too old and the stupid belt is braking.

PSS: Is it bad form to wear a black dress to my son’s wedding.? The dress is so cute, and I wore it at another wedding, but now I’m hearing from a lot of people who are telling me it might not be “proper”. I’m going to have to talk to my future daughter in law and see what her thoughts are on this subject.

PSSS: GOT THE WEDDING DRESS! My future DiL is one cute chick. All is set and now we wait….Oh, and to all my friends: I’m wearing my black dress :) I just found out that the girls will be wearing…drum roll….B&W short dresses (for daytime wedding). I feel much better!

“The Heiress” by Lynsey Sands or “The Countess” REDUX!

STORY: Suzette is not like other heiresses; she wants a poor husband, a gentleman who will be so grateful for her dowry that he will allow her access to it so that she can pay off her father’s gambling debts. When this alluring beauty encounters Daniel Woodrow—handsome, titled, single . . . and even more impoverished than she could have hoped for—it seems Suzette’s wildest dreams have come true.

But Daniel has not been truthful. Tired of being accosted by an endless stream of vapid coquettes and their fortune-hunting mothers, Daniel has decided to plead poverty to stop them in their tracks. Yet here is a most refreshing and delectable lady, who claims to be thrilled by his penury. Now all Daniel has to do to find true happiness is to keep a little white lie alive . . . while avoiding a villain who’s determined to prevent this union by any means necessary.

REVIEW: REDUX=It is a Latin word that means “brought back” or “revisited”  and  “The Heiress” is Suzette and Daniel’s story told from their point of view and happening at the same time as “The Countess”. To those who read the first one, the first 210 pages will defenatly feel redundant, and like me, they’ll skim through those pages, especially the dialog. I wasn’t in the mood to read over the same conversations so there was a lot of skimming over. To anyone that decides to read this one first DON’T! It will be a bit confusing, since majority of the scenes that took place in the house with the “pretender’s” dead body are glossed over in this one. Those are important scenes and should be read first.

Now, since the entire first half of this book is REDUX” some will be greatly disappointed, BUT! And this is a very important BUT. I know I shouldn’t ignore the fact that most of this book was a rehash of the first one, BUT I liked Suzette’s character from the first book so I thought her story was quite good, once we left their point of view from “The Countess”. From that point on, Suzette and Daniel come to life as the last third of the book is all fresh.  Suzette was straight forward, frank, very witty and bold.  She had no fear of speaking her mind. Daniel was a very dashing, likable hero, who tried very hard to keep his hands off of her. He appreciated her frankness and liked her from the first time he spoke to her.

Their interaction was a delight to read and their love scenes were passionate as well as funny. I chuckled every time Daniel lost his self-control around Suzette. Naturally, all the other characters from the earlier book are with us still and we meet new ones also, like Daniel’s mother. There are some predictable villains, and the plot isn’t much of a surprise, but all in all a pleasant and fun read.

I think Lisa’s story will be next, and I so hope it will not be a “REDUX” of both.

BTW: If you’d like to read a very good “REDUX” I recommend Julia Quinn’s Two Dukes of Wyndham 1. The Lost Duke of Wyndham (2008) and 2. Mr. Cavendish, I Presume (2008).

I loved the way she revisited and interwoven those two stories. That was much better told than these two, in my humble opinion.