2013 RITA finalists are here!

Congrats[1]

March 26th was a big day for romance authors. On that day some of them got a phone call that rivaled the one big movie stars get right before their big Oscar nomination.  RITA Awards are HUGE in the romance publishing industry and we as readers are always happy when our favorite authors and their books get nominated but especially when they win this prestigious award.

gb dI can’t tell you how thrilled, honored and humbled I was to get a message from one of my favorite authors giving me the news about her book being nominated AND telling me that she thinks I “… deserve to be among the first to post this…” news. ME?! ME?!

And to think I refused to buy her first book because it was all over the blogs with too many five stars to ‘be any good’. I did relent almost a year after ‘The Heir’ came out and thought, if this thing is still getting rave reviews after a year, it possibly is THAT good.

Guess what?! From that point on, Grace Burrowes gained a new fan for ever and ever. I’m thrilled for her, for ‘Darius’ and for the Historical Romance genre [that's mostly what I read], and this year that list is H.U.G.E. and reads as who’s who of Romance Landia!

Check it out!

HISTORICAL ROMANCE

Any Duchess Will Do by Tessa Dare

The Autumn Bride by Anne Gracie

The Chieftain’s Curse by Frances Housden

The Countess Conspiracy by Courtney Milan

Darius by Grace Burrowes

Dark Angel: A Gothic Fairy Tale by T J Bennett

Duke of Midnight by Elizabeth Hoyt

The Lady and the Laird by Nicola Cornick

Love and Other Scandals by Caroline Linden

The Luckiest Lady in London by Sherry Thomas

Never Desire a Duke by Lily Dalton

No Good Duke Goes Unpunished by Sarah MacLean

Plaid Tidings by Mia Marlowe

A Rake’s Midnight Kiss by Anna Campbell

The Rogue’s Proposal by Jennifer Haymore

Sins of a Ruthless Rogue by Anna Randol

Sonata for a Scoundrel by Anthea Lawson

The highlighted books and authors are one of my favorites and keepers all the way [oh and I read all of those too]. It looks like I need to read only four books from this list and I better get on it!

I’d like to take this opportunity on behalf of b2b and congratulate all the finalists and wish them luck at this years RWA’s national conference in San Antonio in July as the winners will be announced then. For all the nominees in all the categories, please go here, you may spot one of your favorites :)

I really, really am glad not to have to choose only ONE of these because every one is deserving of the honor to win this award [or at least the ones I've read already!], so judges, good luck! I so do not envy you this task!

Have you read any of these nominated authors and their titles? Which one and what did you think? Are you rooting for specific one? Which one?

b2b would like to celebrate this wonderful group of amazing authors by giving away a signed copy of ‘DARIUS’ by GRACE BURROWES!

Also, here’s a sneak-peak of TRENTON: Lord of Loss. [out on April 1, 2014 just in time for my Birthday!]

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BOOK BLURB: After a short, troubled marriage Trenton Lindsey, heir to the Wilton earldom, finds himself a widower with three small children. His year of mourning leaves him adrift, until his brother Darius forces him to take a repairing lease in Surrey.

Social conventions require Trent to call on his recently widowed neighbor, Elegy Hampton, Lady Rammel, and as friendship develops, consolation of an intimate sort tempts them both.

Just as Trent acknowledges the joy and pleasure to be shared with Ellie, an unseen enemy threatens him and Ellie, too. Can he reach for the love Ellie offers, when someone else is trying to take his life?

EXCERPT: here.

2011-RWA-GraceBurrowes[1]Grace in her own words: I am the sixth out of seven children and was raised in the rural surrounds of central Pennsylvania. Early in life I spent a lot of time reading romance novels and riding a chubby buckskin gelding named—unimaginatively if eponymously—Buck. I also spent a lot of time practicing the piano. My first career was as a technical writer and editor, a busy profession that nonetheless left enough time to read many, many romance novels.

It also left time to grab a law degree through an evening program, produce Beloved Offspring (only one, but she is a lion), and eventually move to the lovely Maryland countryside.

While reading yet still more romance novels (there is a trend here) I opened my own law practice, acquired a master’s degree in Conflict Management (I had a teenage daughter by then) and started thinking about writing…. romance novels. This aim was realized when Beloved Offspring struck out into the Big World a few years ago. (“Mom, why doesn’t anybody tell you being a grown-up is hard?”)

I eventually got up the courage to start pitching manuscripts to agents and editors. The query letter that resulted in “the call” started out: “I am the buffoon in the bar at the RWA retreat who could not keep her heroines straight, could not look you in the eye, and could not stop blushing—and if that doesn’t narrow down the possibilities, your job is even harder than I thought.” (The dear lady bought the book anyway.)

Please feel free to contact me. I love reader mail!

b2b is Three!

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Someone pinch me! Has it really been THREE years already?! WOW!

Another year just whooshed by me…Personally, it has been another year filled with health issues I just wasn’t ready to deal with, but then when are we, right?!

Through it all I found that my hubby’s love can get me through everything life throws at me and that is a blessing I don’t ever want to take for granted.

As always, I still feel blessed with so many of you that are faithfully stopping by, commenting and making me laugh out loud. Your support is appreciated and always welcome. I’m really humbled by the romance community all over the world!

Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I love you all!

This year saw our Krissie leave us, but we welcomed with opened arms two of our faithful followers with their unique reviews, Connie and Leah. I was seriously considering shutting the blog down when they jumped in and literally saved me. Please help me welcome them with a huge HIP-HIP-HOORAY!

Since last year our one month-long PUSH-A-BOOK celebration was such a great hit with readers and authors alike, we thought why mess with something that ain’t broke?

Clipart Illustration of a Bunch Of Floating Party Balloons With

So get ready, our bookworms as we’re kicking off our ONE month long celebration on November 1st with Vanessa Kelly and ending it with Anna Campbell.

Throughout the month we’ve invited some of the most hard-working, amazingly creative and way too talented people in the romance community to stop by and help us celebrate. Our invitations once more answered with so much enthusiasm that we just might schedule some visits in twos and threes!

Here’s just a few of the authors that will be coming over… Delilah MarvelleVicky DreilingEileen DreyerDanelle HarmonMaureen Driscoll, Anna CampbellGrace BurrowesMia MarloweMarilyn BrantVanessa KellyLouise AllenShana Galen, Elise RomeNicola CornickJillian StoneSaralee EtterPatricia RicePriscilla ShayBethanne Strasser, Valerie Bowman, Bella Love, Monica BurnsElla Quinn, Caroline LindenSandra OwensTerri BrisbinVictoria Vane, Jenn LeBlanc, Norah WilsonAmanda ScottDonna CummingsNicky Wells, Marguerite KayeBarbara MonajemSaralee EtterDeborah Doucette, Lila DiPasqua, C.C. HumphreysTracy Anne Warren…and a few surprise guests too! There will be prizes…books, and books and some more books, a bookworm heaven, right? There will be many surprises and a Grand Prize as well!

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Won’t you help us celebrate with:

1) Telling us which ‘Book’ would you like to ‘Push’ and why…

2) Subscribing to our Blog…

3) ‘LIKE’ -ing us on our Facebook!

All three are required for a TRIPLE chance to win in the Grand Giveaway!

However, if you’re already a follower and our FB buddy, all you need do is…COMMENT on the upcoming posts and you’re all set to go. Are you ready to PARTEY?!

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‘The Lady and the Laird’ by Nicola Cornick

TLATL NCSTORY: An Indecent Proposal!

Lady Lucy MacMorlan may have forsworn men and marriage, but that doesn’t mean she won’t agree to profit from writing love letters for her brother’s friends – letters that become increasingly racy as her fame grows. That is, until she deliberately ruins the betrothal of a notorious laird, Robert, Marquis of Methven.

Past centuries of bloodshed have left the Methven and MacMorlan families bitter enemies and Robert is furious that Lady Lucy’s letters have cost him the bride he needs so urgently to save his ancestral clan lands. Now he makes Lucy a shocking proposal; in return for his silence she must become his wife and provide him with the heir he needs. It is an inconvenient marriage of convenience but can the rugged laird and the bluestocking beauty fight against the power of love?

REVIEW: This is Ms. Cornick’s first novel in Scottish Brides series and it really is a MUST read!

The novel is very funny, entertaining and just too sweet for words!

If you’re familiar with this author, then you already know that her novel’s are populated with strong, complex and always, always witty characters that stay with you a long time, and that’s what you’ll find here as well.

I adored both main characters, but especially Lucy. Her background in regards to her twin sister just took my breath away.

This was a strong woman with some issues that only a strong man could help with. As for Robert, not much was going to stand in this man’s way when it comes to his duty to his Clan.

I also liked the pace of the story. It wasn’t too fast and allowed me to thoroughly immerse into not just the growing relationship between the leads, but also into their respective backgrounds. It’s their lives before they met each other that shaped who they were, and how that would impact their future, if they were to have one.

There are so many, many scenes which made me laugh out loud that I had tears in my eyes…like the scene in which Robert is jilted at the altar and our heroine realizes that he knows this debacle is her fault.

If you’ve never had a chance to read this author, then this is a perfect book to introduce her to you. I promise you’ll find the plot interesting, characters entertaining and the dialogue witty and charming. And let’s not forget those love scenes which will get your blood pumping! Recommending it to all Regency lovers, and especially those who love a man in a kilt!

Melanie for b2b

*Book provided by publisher through NetGalley.

‘Desired’ by Nicola Cornick

BOOK BLURB: Tess Darent’s world is unravelling. Danger threatens her stepchildren and she is about to be unmasked as a radical political cartoonist and thrown into gaol. The only thing that can save her is a respectable marriage. But when it comes to tying the knot Tess requires a very special husband – one who has neither the desire nor the ability to consummate their marriage.

Owen Purchase, Viscount Rothbury cannot resist Tess when she asks for the protection of his name. But he has no intention of making a marriage in name only. Will the handsome sea captain be able to persuade the notorious widow to give her heart as well as her reputation into his safekeeping?

EXCERPT:

“I am at your service,” he murmured. “Whenever you are ready to acquaint me with this business proposition you have.”

Tess’s throat dried. “I wanted…”She groped for the words that had scattered like petals in the breeze. “That is, I thought…”

One dark brow rose quizzically as Rothbury surveyed her confusion.
“I came here-” Gracious, she had lost all her town bronze. This would never do.

“I came here to ask you to marry me,” she finished, with all the finesse of a tongue-tied schoolgirl. “In name only, that is. I wish for a marriage of convenience.”

Mortified, she stood pinned to the spot whilst a burning blush seemed to creep up from her toes to engulf her entire body. It was difficult to see how matters could have gone more painfully awry. She had wanted to be so cool, so composed. She had wanted to be herself, Teresa, Dowager Marchioness of Darent, poised and self-assured. Instead, this man had taken all her confidence and turned it inside out. She should have realised how he would affect her after their encounter earlier. She should have remembered the way in which he had made her nerves sing and her pulse trip. She should have had the sense not to come here with her ridiculous suggestion of marriage. She should have known not to engage in this dangerous game of using Rothbury for his name and his protection because any moment now he would call her bluff, accuse her of sedition and very like have her thrown in the Tower of London.

“An extraordinary suggestion,” he murmured. “A marriage in name only. Why would you wish for that?”

Rothbury took a step away from her and then turned sharply back on his heel.

“It was not a rhetorical question,” he said.

Tess jumped. “Oh!” Her mind was a blank. Why had she not anticipated that Rothbury might ask that question – and a great many more difficult questions besides?  She had hurried off to proposition him without laying the groundwork first. She should have realised that he was not the kind of man, like Darent before him, to accept such an arrangement without debate.

Rothbury was still watching her with one eyebrow raised in an odiously quizzical manner. And her mind was still blanker than a blank canvas.

“No doubt you will share your reasons with me before too long,” he said, still in the same gentle drawl.

“Meanwhile, I have another question. This may seem impertinent, Lady Darent – vulgar even – but I have to ask it.” He smiled. “What exactly is in this for me?”

FEATURED AUTHOR: Nicola Cornick

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*One lucky Commenter will end up with book/eBook. Giveaway INTERNATIONAL!

Won’t you join our celebration by:

1) Telling us which ‘Book’ would you like to ‘Push’ and why…

2) Subscribing to our Blog…

3) ‘LIKE’ -ing us on our Facebook!

All three are required for a TRIPLE chance to win in the Grand Giveaway!

However, if you’re already a follower and our FB buddy, all you need do is…COMMENT on the upcoming posts and you’re all set to go.

*Clicking on the author’s name/pic will give you their contact info, website or bio. 

*Clicking on the cover of the book/s will take you to Amazon.

‘Desired’ by Nicola Cornick

STORY: Tess Darent’s world is unravelling. Danger threatens her stepchildren and she is about to be unmasked as a radical political cartoonist and thrown into gaol. The only thing that can save her is a respectable marriage. But when it comes to tying the knot Tess requires a very special husband – one who has neither the desire nor the ability to consummate their marriage.

Owen Purchase, Viscount Rothbury cannot resist Tess when she asks for the protection of his name. But he has no intention of making a marriage in name only. Will the handsome sea captain be able to persuade the notorious widow to give her heart as well as her reputation into his safekeeping?

REVIEW: This is the fifth book in Nicola Cornick’s Scandalous Women of the Ton series in which she gives two characters from her previous books their HEA.

Teresa, Dowager Marchioness of Darent is a woman on a mission, or two. She is a widow trice over; has a wicked reputation that could put even Rouges to blush and run for the hills; and scandal may as well be her middle name, yet the real woman is somewhat a mystery and a very complex character that not even her family is privy to her most deepest thoughts or feelings.

She is a passionate supporter and contributor to the cause that seeks reforms within the government; she’s a guardian to her two stepchildren, but rarely sees them; she’s also in a need of a fourth husband and not just any man will do. She needs a man who will accept an arrangement of her own specifications.

Owen Purchase, Viscount Rothbury, has a few missions of his own and getting married is not one of them. His number one priority is to find Jupiter, a pseudonym for the cartoonist whose drawings are offensive to the government and seem to be inciting unrest among people.

As he closes in on the person of interest, he gets blindsided with an offer that he just might regret accepting.

This is only a second book by this author that I’ve read so far, and while I couldn’t connect to the hero and heroine in the first book, this author’s prose drew me to reading the second.  May I say that while ‘never judge book by its cover’ applies to many novels I’ve read, in this case ‘never judge an author by only reading one of her books’ totally applies in this case.

What amazing and complex both of these characters were! It was fascinating following the train of thought of both of them. I was filled with awe watching them interact and deal with each other while trying to peel off each others layers and unearth the secrets that would leave them both vulnerable. I just adored the hero, and Teresa just grew on me by every paragraph and page I read. DESIRED moved me, made me laugh and in the end I felt melancholy for leaving them to their HEA.

If you’re in a mood for a truly entertaining, interesting, fascinating and thoroughly sensual romance, this one will fit the bill to a tee!

*To buy this book, click on the cover*

*To learn more about the author, click on her name*

* I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

Nicola Cornick’s ‘Hook-a-Book’ is…’Mariana’!

Thank you to Melanie for inviting me to be part of the bookworm2bookworm anniversary celebrations!

I love the hook a book idea and I was thrilled to be asked to contribute. But then, like many fellow authors I hit the snag of which book to choose. In the end I realised it had to be MARIANA, by Susanna Kearsley, who has been one of my favourite authors for a long time.

In fact I could have chosen any one of Susanna’s books because I am and have always been a massive fan of hers. MARIANA won the Catherine Cookson Prize back in 1993 and Susanna’s books have gone on to huge and well-deserved acclaim. Her book THE WINTER SEA, also known as SOPHIA’S SECRET, was shortlisted for both the UK Romantic Novelists Association Prize and the RWA RITA award.

MARIANA was the first Susanna Kearsley novel that I read and it hooked me on her writing. Books with paranormal elements have always appealed to me, especially time slip or dual time novels. I never seem to be able to find enough of them.

Then I discovered Susanna’s writing and to my great pleasure found that she wrote wonderful books with paranormal elements; time slip, dual time, reincarnation, ghostly themes…All the elements that completely enthrall me.

MARIANA tells the story of Julia Beckett who as a child sees a beautiful old house, Greywethers, and knows that in some way it belongs to her. She’s drawn to the place time and again and when she buys the house she finds herself transported back to the 17th century as Mariana Farr, a young woman embroiled in all manner of danger and romance.

How Julia explores Mariana’s life and her forbidden love, and how she also finds her own future, is all woven together in a story that brilliantly mixes the past and the present.

Susanna Kearsley’s evocation of history is so rich and vivid, her characters so real and her writing so beautiful that I never want her books to end.

Melanie here! Now that’s one awesome ‘hook’ and I’m so happy that Nicola had the time to stop by today.

And now, here’s a bit about Nicola…Originally from the North of England, Nicola now lives with her husband in the Oxfordshire countryside. Genealogy is one of her passions and she has traced her family tree back to the sixteenth century by way of various poets, pirates and a link to the Earldom of Halifax.

Since the publication of her first Regency romance by Harlequin Mills & Boon in 1998, Nicola has become a USA Today, Borders and UK Bookscan bestselling author as well as being shortlisted three times for the US Romance Writers of America RITA Award and twice for the UK Romantic Novelists Association Romance Prize. Nicola now writes for Harlequin HQN Books in the US and MIRA in the UK.

Nicola developed a passion for history at an early age and nurtured it through reading and watching BBC costume dramas with her grandmother. She went to school in the dower house of the stately home Harewood House in Yorkshire where she studied subjects as varied as Anglo Saxon and ballroom dancing. She went on to study Medieval History, graduated from London University with an honours degree and worked for many years in university administration, her final job being as an Assistant Academic Registrar before she gave it all up to be a full time author. Later she returned to college in Oxford to study for a Masters degree at Ruskin College. Her dissertation on heroes and hero myths was awarded a distinction. She was a speaker at the Oxford Literary Festival on the changing face of literary heroes during the 20th century.

Nicola has a “second life” as a guide and historian working for the National Trust at the beautiful seventeenth century hunting lodge, Ashdown House and she is a speaker on the history of Ashdown and the Craven family. She is also a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and a mentor for their New Writers’ Scheme, which critiques manuscripts for aspiring authors. Nicola has run several courses and workshops on creative writing and was Wiltshire Libraries Writer in Residence in 2008. She loves the excitement of historical research and the friendships that the romance writing community has brought her.

When she is not writing Nicola enjoys taking her dog for long walks in the countryside and travelling the globe. She and her husband have driven across Africa, Iceland and Costa Rica and have enjoyed cruises to the Arctic and the Sea of Cortes. Nicola is also a frequent visitor to the US, where she has family. She and her husband support the UK Guide Dogs for the Blind charity and have acted as puppy walkers for guide dogs in training.

Nicola loves to hear from readers, writers and history buffs. Email her or chat with her at the Word Wenches blog, the UK Regency Authors blog, Facebook or on Twitter.

Won’t you join our celebration by:

1) Telling us which ‘Hook-a-Book’ did/would you likely give your friends…

2) Subscribing to our Blog…

3) ‘LIKE’ -ing us on our Facebook!

All three are required for a TRIPLE chance to win in the Giveaway!

RRAH August reviews

Well, now with my son’s wedding behind us, I’m relieved all went with a minor hitch (DJ never showed up, but replacement did from another firm 30 minutes into the wedding reception) and the newlyweds are now back from their Honeymoon to enjoy life together.

I’ve also had some time to turn some of my reviews to Romance Reader At Heart  website and I’ll briefly let you know which books are worth reading and which you just might postpone for later or skip altogether. To read my full review just click on the title, and to find out about the author of the book, please click on their name.

TOO WICKED TO LOVE  by Debra Mullins was a very quick read and I liked it a lot. As soon as I started reading this book, I had a feeling that I should have read the first book of this trilogy. I’m sure that I would have appreciated the story more. It really had all the elements of what a historical romance should—a very handsome and likeable hero and an untrusting heroine. As for the villain, this dude was off the charts! I gave it Four Roses and if you haven’t read it, you should, but do get the first one too. I think you might get the better picture of our hero.

JUST LIKE HEAVEN by Julia Quinn was just that. Heaven. By now if you haven’t read this author GET THEE TO THE BOOKSTORE! Any book you pick by her, you’ll end up a winner! I’ve yet to read one that’s bad. This chick knows her craft and NEVER disappoints. Period. Most of us that are her fans, were hoping sooner or later she’d gift us with this series and now that I’ve got my first story of Smythe-Smith’s sisters, I’m just itching for more. I believe the book stands on its own, but if you want to get the full impact of this family, you should scour the used book stores or get her earlier books from Amazon.

NOTORIOUS by Nicola Cornick was one of those well written books with a wrotten heroine. Boy, oh boy! This woman was some piece of work. I didn’t like her one bit. Talk about a manipulator! I’m not going to give the story away, but I warn you. If you like your heroines meek, sweet and virginal, you’ll not like this one. However if you like them pathetic, manipulative and plain bitchy, then you’ll love her! I gave this book Four Roses ONLY because it engaged my emotions to an umpteenth degree. It also made me want to read WHISPER OF SCANDAL, which is the first book in ‘Scandalous Women of the Ton’ series. I did like the fact that it’s a stand alone regardless of being a fourth book in the series.

THE BED AND THE BACHELOR by Tracy Anne Warren ends her Byrons of Braebourne series. TEMPTED BY HIS KISS was the first one and Cade Byron’s story. Jack Byron’s story was in SEDUCED BY HIS TOUCH, followed by AT THE DUKE’S PLEASURE. All of them were exceptionally good, well written and very interesting.

WICKED DELIGHTS OF A BRIDAL BED was their sister Mallory’s story, and I thought it fell short. I just didn’t think it was as good as it should or could have been. THE BED AND THE BACHELOR, which is Drake’s story, was a let down as well. What the hell happened to Drake?! I liked him better in the earlier book. As for our heroine, once she commits the unthinkable, I lost all compassion for her. There must have been a better way to accomplish her ‘mission’. If you’ve never read this author, don’t start with this book. I fell in love with Ms. Warren’s work through her ‘Trap’ series in which she displayed her awesome sense of humor. I’ve all her ‘Mistress’ trylogy, but they’re still on my TBR. I’m hoping to get to them by the end of the year.

DANCING WITH MR. DARCY actually has twenty authors but has introductions from Sarah Waters and Rebecca Smith, the great-great-great-great-great niece of Jane Austen. This quick and witty read is a must for all Jane Austen fans. You’ll really appreciate the range in talent in this book. All of the stories were fun, well written and just a joy to read. I also urge you to read the biographies of those that have had too much fun in penning their stories. I’m thinking, just for the pure joy and fun, maybe I should penn one?  How cool it would be. Just for mayself, mind you:)

SEVEN YEARS TO SIN by Sylvia Day I saved for last. This was an ARC that I bid on eBay as a donation towards a friend in need. Ms. Day signed it and sent me a bag full of goodies with it, and for that I’m forever grateful to her.

What can I tell you about this book that will convince you to get out there and get it as soon as it hits the bookstores?! It has one of the hottest Prologues I’ve EVER read! I truly couldn’t put it down once I started to read it. Thank God it’s summer and my DH loves BBQ! Everything about this story was perfection. My heart went to both hero and heroine. These two waited a long time for their happily ever after and in Ms. Day’s hands they thrived. She also has a secondary love story that was just as well done as the main. I promise you, without a doubt that you’ll love this book. Worth every penny and more!

So there you have it my bookworms:) That’s it for August from me and RRAH! I would like to remind you all that Jenny Brown, Tiffany Clare, Joanna Bourne and a slew of other authors will be stopping by very soon and you’re welcome to stop by, comment and enter our contests:)