Kellie & Derek-poetry in motion!

Season 16 WinnersSeason 16 of Dancing With the Stars promised to be a bore with some of the celebrities that were slated to appear on it [I’m not going to even name them, sorry], but my all time favorite pro, ‘little’ man Derek Hough, was still on it, and I only tuned in to watch him and his new partner, Kellie Pickler.

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From week one, she took off like a rocket! I loved watching them and they made this season worth watching. They kicked off Week 1 with a cha-cha; Week 2 was a jazz routine; Week 3 was a prom-themed night; Week 4 Rumba; Week 5 foxtrot; Week 6 Stevie Wonder-themed quickstep; Week 7 Latin night samba; Week 8 trio paso doble with Tristan MacManus was amazing and one of the most controversial dances of the season (I could have fallen off my couch when Len had a major meltdown over its content and rated it a 7!);  Week 9 had them do Argentine tango and it was to die for; Week 9 arrived and semi-finals had them do flamenco; and  finally the Finals came and nothing, NOTHING prepared me for their free-style. Their Week 10 free-style overshadowed everything the other finalists have done. While they went all out with the ‘production’ of the free-style, Derek choreographed an amazing dance. It made you jump out and take notice. There was not a dry eye in the house.

Free Style DK

I think they deserved the trophy and then some! Both did the best to entertain their audience from day one and I sure appreciate their efforts. Just an aside, did you know why she cut her beautiful long locks?  Her pixie haircut had people talking and a lot of chicks will now want her hair cut! Apparently, she shaved her head to support cancer awareness and support a friend who was battling the disease. Such a sweetheart!

Fan or no of DWTS, please take a minute to watch their free-style. Everything worked in it, from the music [just listen to the words!] to the choreography, to the raw emotions of the dancers! WOW!

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Are you a fan of the show? Have you watched it this season? Who was your favorite couple on it?

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‘Love’s Promise’ by Cheryl Holt

LP CHSTORY: With the death of his older brother, Michael Wainwright, Viscount Henley, has become heir to his father, Duke of Clarendon. The Wainwright men are renowned cads, and as his brother’s will is read, it’s discovered that he sired an illegitimate son and has left the eight-year-old boy his entire fortune. Michael decides to bring the boy to London so he can be showered with all the wealth and status guaranteed by his inheritance. But first, he has to gain custody from the boy’s aunt, who is determined to keep her nephew away from Michael’s dissolute family.

Frances “Fanny” Carrington has always lived in a small village in the country. As a newborn, she was left in a basket on the church steps and raised by the vicar and his wife. But they’ve died, and Fanny is in dire straits, struggling to raise her nephew, to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads. When she begins to receive correspondence from Michael, asking for custody, she can’t help but be suspicious. For years, the Wainwrights have refused to claim her nephew or provide financial assistance to him. She’s alarmed by their sudden interest. What can it mean?

As Michael finally meets Fanny, their attraction is swift, blatant, and dangerous. He can’t fight the need to have her at any cost, and gradually, he lures her into his decadent life of affluence and privilege. But she’s never possessed the callous nature required to thrive in the cut-throat world of the aristocracy, so she could never understand the peril she faces from those who would do anything to keep them apart…

REVIEW: ‘Love’s Promise’ is one of those stories that can easily turn you off by having the hero’s character filled with many human flaws that even when he redeems himself, you still may not believe him.

The blurb is sufficient, so I’m just going to tell you my feelings on it.

I actually liked it. I liked that Ms. Holt takes the chance with her characters by giving them flaws and then slowly has them grow into decent human beings.

Michael is such a man. He’s not your regular every day hero. He’s someone that despises his father, yet knows his duty to that parent and does things even though he doesn’t like it. He’s been raised as a spare, and no matter what the duty comes first. I enjoyed his slow but sure awakening as he reached his full potential.

Frances as Thomas’ aunt was such a great heroine. Her dedication to her family was a wonder to read. But what I liked best about her was her strength as she goes from one calamity to the next. Never EVER does she lose hope and I just wanted to hug her!

Another thing I liked was the secondary love story of Anne, Michael’s spinster sister, and his best friend, Phillip. I loved them both so much I wished they were more developed and had their own book. Phillip was besotted with Anne for the longest time, but as a bastard born could never have her. Anne was naïve despite her ‘advanced’ age of ‘five and twenty’ and oblivious of the workings of the outside world.

And then there’s Charles Sinclair, Earl of Trent, and Phillips father who can’t keep his pant’s on and has populated half of England with bastards, which Phillip is trying to find so that his father can acknowledge them. His wife Susan hates Phillip’s meddling and is always testing the boundaries of her husband’s love and loyalty.

I even enjoyed reading the villains of this piece!
Camilla, Thomas’ mother, was a bitch and a half, and I anxiously awaited her downfall! Talk about ‘Mommy Dearest’!

The Duke of Clarendon, Michael’s father, was a douche and a half!  Not one warm bone in this manipulative and bitter man to be found!

Rebecca, an heiress who was John’s fiancée, is now hoping and plotting with the Duke, to force Michael to offer for her. What a piece of work she was! She’ll do anything to, eventually, become Duchess. Could not stand her! I couldn’t decide which one I hated more, Rebecca or Camilla!

All in all, a great love story populated with many flawed characters, some redeemable and some not so much. Highly recommend it.

ARC supplied by the Author.

Spotlight on Anna Cowen and…

UNTAMED!

U ACBOOK BLURB: Outspoken and opinionated, Katherine Sutherland is ill at ease amongst the fine ladies of Regency London. She is more familiar with farmers and her blunt opinions and rough manners offend polite society. Yet when she hears the scandalous rumours involving her sister and the seductive Duke of Darlington, the fiercely loyal Katherine vows to save her sister’s marriage – whatever the cost.

Intrigued by Katherine’s interference in his affairs, the manipulative Duke is soon fascinated. He engages in a daring deception and follows her back to her country home. Here, their intense connection shocks them both. But the Duke’s games have dangerous consequences, and the potential to throw both their lives into chaos…

EXCERPT: 

The Duke of Darlington was sitting in the bow window at Whites, when the Earl of BenRuin entered. The man was huge – almost ugly with it.

‘We’ll need another pot of coffee, after last night,’ Darlington said to Jewellyn, who sat beside him comparing three silk handkerchiefs.

‘Mother says the daffodil yellow makes me look consumptive, but the pale is just so joyless.’

‘Your mother knows best, darling.’ He took another sip of coffee, and didn’t look around. But he felt BenRuin’s eyes on him. He heard a hush follow the Earl through the room as he made his way over.

‘Darlington.’ BenRuin spat his name with a thick Scottish R.

He looked up and smiled sunnily. ‘What ho, old boy!’

BenRuin looked as though he wanted to crush Darlington’s throat and stop him from ever speaking again. Something woke, and shivered through Darlington, and he despaired because it was not fear.

He brushed a speck of lint from his cuff. ‘Coffee?’

BenRuin stared at him. ‘I am going to kill you,’ he said slowly, every word clear. Men looked up from their papers, frowning. BenRuin gripped the back of an empty chair, his hand a powerful, blunt instrument.

Darlington lowered his cup and wondered that his hands didn’t shake at all. He had been waiting so long for this. A month ago he had been given an old iron key that unlocked his father’s private papers with his father’s things. The key might as well have unlocked this sick, loose delight in him. It had brought him to this moment.

He screwed up his brow, and turned to Crispin, who sat at his feet on an ottoman. ‘Was I supposed to meet this man in a duel today?’

The boy looked back at Darlington with perfect trust, undiminished by the slight confusion on his face.

‘I don’t think so. No one’s come to see me about being your second. Unless—’ Crispin flushed and turned to Hopwell, across the table. ‘Hopwell, you rotter, you’ve not been approached, have you?’

Hopwell drew himself up. ‘And if I had? Are you the only one who could possibly represent him?’

‘But you know that I—’

BenRuin’s face clearly spoke his frustration – his disbelief that these boys, these butterflies would ignore him. His huge frame bunched and he threw the chair at the wall so hard it broke. Muted conversations broke off, and a footman’s half-sobbed apologies limped alone into the silence. Men rose from their seats, but left a wary space around BenRuin. Darlington couldn’t look away from BenRuin’s pale eyes.

He smiled as if his patience was wearing out. ‘Why do you suppose you want to kill me, old boy?’

‘You.’ BenRuin forced a couple of heavy breaths through his nose, like speaking the words was a feat of strength. ‘And my wife.’

‘Ah.’ Darlington let understanding dawn in his voice and spread his manicured hands out before him. At last. At last they had come to it. All this violence was his for the taking. ‘Look, she told me it was one of those marriages, you know. That you both found pleasure where you could.’

For a moment BenRuin couldn’t speak, like Darlington had cut his tongue out of his mouth. Then, ‘Stop talking,’ he said.

‘But I’m sure she…wait, so you’re back from your trip to South America, then? Did you collect any interesting new specimens?’

‘Stop talking,’ BenRuin said. ‘Stop.’

Crispin leapt up, relief clear in his smile, his voice. ‘You’re thinking of Lady Drysdale, Your Grace!’

‘Of course!’ The Duke placed slim fingers against his brow and made an apologetic face at BenRuin. At last. ‘All a misunderstanding, old boy!’

‘Call me old boy one more time,’ BenRuin said, his brogue making him almost unintelligible, ‘and I won’t wait to hear your explanation.’

‘Explanation?’ He had begun to shake with a kind of excitement. ‘Lady Drysdale and I had an understanding, and I don’t see that it’s any of your concern!’

‘And your carriage – in my driveway?’

He had forced a proud man to say this in front of other men. It was despicable. He would do it again in a heartbeat for what he wanted – needed.

‘Which driveway would that be, old – er.’ Darlington leaned down to Crispin and said, ‘Do you know who he is? I’m not sure what name to address him by.’

And then it came. So fast that for a moment his whole body felt the shock of not being ready. Of needing a moment to think.

BenRuin came at him, all muscle and murderous intent, his eyes fixed on Darlington’s face.

And Darlington was greedy, his whole being a gruesome invitation. Everything he normally hid flared to life within him.

BenRuin saw it. He faltered.

The men who had leapt into action had their arms about BenRuin, their hands gripping him wherever they found purchase. BenRuin’s knife never reached Darlington’s throat.

Darlington felt so bereft that for a moment he couldn’t breathe.

A man was hurrying through the room. Perhaps someone had sent a boy to find him, because he spoke in BenRuin’s ear and BenRuin listened. Tension leeched out of BenRuin’s huge body, and he began to shake, like a horse after a hard race.

He pointed a finger at Darlington. ‘I’ll not hang for the sake of seeing your pretty blood,’ he ground out. ‘This time. But the next time you trespass against me, you will know what I mean to do.’

BenRuin left, and Darlington fluttered his hands about his throat, and went into mild hysterics and allowed Crispin to fuss over him.

REVIEW: You’re either going to love it or hate it. I don’t think there’s a middle of the road for this novel. I more than loved it! I adored the hero, heroine, plot…oh and the prose is so good that it borders on poetic. It brings to mind Julie Anne Long’s and Grace Burrowes’ writing.

As soon as I was done with it, I had to Tweet the author. My Tweet was “I am in awe of it. It’s intriguing, clever & exciting; romantic & sensual; breathtakingly delightful!”

This was one of those stories that made you unknowingly hold your breath, and then slowly exhale as you go from page to page. At the end of it, it brought to mind two movies I am such a fan of: “Pretty Woman” and “An Interview with a Vampire”.

“Pretty Woman” because of its ending as the heroine ‘rescues’ the ‘hero’, and “An Interview with a Vampire” because for some reason the Duke reminded me of Lestat [no he wasn’t a Vampire, just the characterization].

Let me also say that if you’re a stickler for historical detail, you might have to suspend your disbelief and ignore a couple of things in it [notably reform of the Corn Laws and Parliament’s involvement in the divorce] to enjoy the rest of the story. I had no problem with it.

Story’s prose and especially characterization of the hero and heroine, was what engaged me emotionally.

It really was a breath of fresh air. For a change we have an author that gave us a cross-dressing hero instead of a heroine, and the result was entertaining, intriguing and engaging.

It was a risk, but I think it paid off big time!

I recommend it whole heartedly!

ARC courtesy of NetGalley.

You can buy Untamed at Amazon | Kobo | iTunes | Google | txtr | JB HiFi | Sainsbury’s | Destiny Romance (ePub)

Anna CowenAUTHOR IN HER OWN WORDS: I started writing when I was eight and my heroine thought the likeliest place to buy a horse was the pet shop.

I stopped writing when I was fifteen and my teen angst was too much, even for me. Also, boys.

Now I’m An Adult, and I’ve never wanted to work so hard at anything.

I live in a beautiful flat in the middle of Melbourne with special k – husband / coffee mogul / love of my life. We’ve started having weekly managers meetings where he says things like, “This is work, so there are no feelings, okay?” and I quake in my writerly boots. I couldn’t have done any of this without him.

This blog is where I think out loud about writing. I break down the things I watch and read – I try to figure out how they work, or don’t work. It tends to centre around love, romance, gender, feminism and writing.

I hope you enjoy the conversation!

You can catch Anna on: Tweeter / Website

Why Soren Kierkegaard is a Romance Junkie by Cecily White

PG CW

I’ve been thinking about Soren Kierkegaard. I know, I know… why would anyone waste time thinking about Soren Kierkegaard. Anyway, he’s been on my mind, so I’m going to tell you his story. And brace yourself, because it’s possibly the worst love story ever.

Soren’s tale begins with his father, whose wife was dying a tragic, ugly, loooong, drawn-out death. Obviously, he couldn’t care for the kids and house alone, so he hired a maid. Fast forward a few months, the maid is pregnant, the wife is not yet dead, and here comes baby Soren, the newest and most hated Soren Kierkegaardmember of the family. (I know. SOOOO Jerry Springer, right?)

Our hero passed a miserable childhood and adolescence, constantly wallowing in self-pity and religious turmoil. He never allowed himself to love – partly because he felt this would be cheating on his passionate love of God (groan), but also because he was uber-unattractive and had horrible posture. (Yes, your mother was right. Stand up straight and you won’t die a horrible, soul-crushing death.) The one comfort poor Soren took lay in the knowledge that his pain-riddled thoughts and observations were Pure and Important. In fact, he became so attached to his suffering he once noted that Depression was his most faithful mistress, thus, it was no wonder he returned her affection. (That quote TOTALLY reminds me of my college boyfriend, by the way.)

Pathetic? Yes.

Diagnosable? Absolutely.

(We’re still talking about Soren, here.)

Everything changed when our dear hero moved to a new city and encountered a girl (Get out! A girl? Soren likes a girl?!?!). Her name was Regine Olsen, and she captivated him. He’d not spoken to her, however, he found himself wanting to be close to her. So, poor Soren did what any desperate, socially stunted guy would do.

He stalked her.

He talked to her friends.

He figured out what she read, where she went to lunch, what kind of music she listened to, where she bought her undergarments.

Once he had all the deets sorted, it was time to make his move.

Soren: “Hello.”

Regine: “Hello.”

Soren: “That’s a lovely pink underfrock you’re wearing. May I buy you a cup of warm asses’ milk?”

Regine (laughing): “Oh, wait, you’re serious?”

Despite the rocky start, Soren had found love. And not just the kind of humdrum, run-of-the-mill love where the best part is when you file joint taxes. No, this was a passionate love. A love that defied reason and made people wonder whether Regine perhaps needed eyeglasses.

A happy ending, you say?

But no, that would be too easy for poor Soren. After a few months of bliss, he began to realize that his writing had lost its spark. No longer could he wallow in the doldrums, crucifying humanity for its many faults and exalting God’s impossible perfection. No longer could he wrestle with the dark plight of humanity. Regrettably, Soren was plagued with an illness more paralyzing than any plague.

He was… HAPPY.

Horribly, miserably, catastrophically happy!

He had to make a choice. Stay with Regine, and live his life in blissful mediocrity. Or leave her, and return to his lonely, anguished excellence and philosophical superiority.

Well, Soren being a man (and thus an idiot) made the only choice he could.

Soren: “I’m leaving you.”

Regine: “Excuse me?”

Soren: “I’m too happy. It’s not working out.”

Regine: “Is this because of the asses’ milk thing?”

Fast forward a few years, and Soren is living in an apartment (read: ManCave), writing book after book about why he left Regine and how true happiness without her is futile, etc, etc, wondering why she hasn’t come running back to him. Eventually, he goes to tell her he made a mistake, only to find that she’s married someone else, one of Soren’s fellow philosophers. (Awk-ward.)

At this point, Soren is so heartbroken, he can barely make it back to his dad’s house, let alone stop for a cup of asses’ milk. His father, of course, reminds him that if he would just stand up straight once in a while, maybe Regine would come back and it would all be okay. Soren shows his father what he thinks of this advice by promptly dying of a broken heart.

The moral of the story is summed up beautifully by some of the last words Soren Kierkegaard wrote in his private journal:

To live without love is a mistake for which there is no reparation, either in this life or any other.

So there you have it, my fellow romance writers and readers:

If Soren Kierkegaard were alive today, he would be the biggest romance junkie on the planet. He would be camped out with the Twi-hards, poring over Google, saying prayers for Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez to rekindle. (Even though Justin is gay and Selena is clearly his beard… Don’t lie, you’ve all thought it.) So if you ever doubt that romance novels have substance, just think of Soren Kierkegaard. Writer. Philosopher. Lover. Because he knows what we all suspect and what the Fab Four sang so long ago: Love is all you need

…and maybe a cup of warm asses’ milk.

 

Buy links: Amazon / B-A-M / Barnes & Noble / GoodReads.com / IndieBound / Kobo / Powell’s Books
Cecily WhiteAUTHOR BIO: Cecily Cornelius-White, Psy.D. makes a habit of avoiding boredom whenever possible. She has enjoyed careers as a hand model, GAP salesgirl, movie projectionist, psychotherapist, yoga instructor, university professor, artist, dance choreographer, eating disorders specialist, psych diagnostician, book reviewer and copy editor. None of which are as much fun as writing novels.

She currently lives in Springfield, MO with two FABULOUS kids, and a schizophrenic yet well-mannered cat. She can swear in Klingon, take down an alien aggressor using only her mind (or a pair of chopsticks), and kill giant spiders without getting schmutz on her shirt. When not singing to herself, she spends time creating new worlds and thinking up ways to make this one better…

Where you can find her: Website / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads

Spotlight on Karen Erickson and…

Tempting Cameron/LONE PINE LAKE #2

TC KEBOOK BLURB: For Cameron McKenzie, Chloe Dawson has always just been his younger sister Jane’s best friend—a pesky annoyance who followed him around and acted like he hung the moon. It isn’t until Jane’s wedding to her firefighter beau Chris that Chloe reappears in his life…and she isn’t pesky or annoying anymore. In fact, the beautiful Chloe tempts him beyond reason. But Cam knows he’s damaged goods—not nearly good enough for Lone Pine Lake’s resident good girl.

Chloe’s always dreamed of a future with the dark, brooding Cam, and after they share an explosive kiss, she wonders if her dream could be coming true. Cam’s never stuck around his hometown for long, though, so she makes him an offer: one sweet summer romance with no strings attached. This good girl’s ready for an adventure…one that just might end up lasting a lifetime.

EXCERPT:

She started to walk away but he stopped her, curled his hand around the crook of her elbow. Her skin was soft, silky. His knuckles brushed against her chest, sent a shockwave through him that rendered him completely still.

“You’re not boring,” he murmured. “Everyone moves at a different pace. Everyone has a different purpose. I think you might’ve already found yours.”

She swallowed hard. He saw the delicate movement of her throat. Without thought, he drew his thumb across the inside of her upper arm, swore he felt her shiver from his touch. Electricity crackled and sparked between them, heady and fluid, and he drew her closer. Closer…

“I should go inside,” she repeated, her voice shaky. “I sound like such a baby, complaining when one of my dearest friends just got married. Your sister. God, you must think I’m completely selfish…”

He cut her off with his lips, rendering her completely silent. She did talk too much. Way too damn much…but she also seemed sad. A little lost.

And he could relate. Despite her thinking he had it together, he didn’t. He was as lost as she, maybe even more so.

MINI REVIEW: I love Karen Erickson’s steamy Historical novels, but lately I’ve been checking her Contemporary ones and I like them. A lot!

‘Tempting Cameron’ comes on the heels of ‘Jane’s Gift’ which I read and reviewed for Christmas, and is the second book in the Lone Pine Lake series. Don’t fret if you haven’t read the first as they’re stand alone, but you’ll be missing a great intro into McKenzie family and Lone Pine Lake residents.

Both characters are likable and just so very real and their happily ever after worth the read.

Karen Erickson has a knack for creating characters that are filled with humanity, for the lack of a better word. These people she populates her stories are just too real, and they just jump off the pages to grab you and pull you deep into their problems, their troubles that you can easily forget your own.

What may surprise you, as it did me, is that this author can write erotic, sensual, steamy and waaaay too hot romance as well as the sweet, touching and STILL sensual without that scorching hot factor, and you won’t even notice ‘till you’re at the end of the story. Oh and the endings of her stories will leave you with this feeling of utter awe and satisfaction…peace and contentment…and a wide smile!

Highly recommend and not to be missed if you’re into contemporary genre.

Karen EricksonAUTHOR BIO: I’ve always loved the written word. From being one of the best readers in my kindergarten class to penning romantic stories that never ended about my favorite band members (Duran Duran!) in high school, I always had a feeling I wanted to write. It just took me a while to seriously pursue it.

With the birth of my third child came a realization – it’s one thing to talk about writing a book, another thing entirely to do so. So I decided to go for it and in 2005 I began my pursuit in writing toward publication. After completing a few clunkers that should never see the light of day, I was first published in 2006. I currently write for Samhain Publishing (sexy, glamorous contemporary romance), Entangled Publishing’s Bliss Imprint (sweet, small town contemporary romance), Avon Impulse/Harper Collins (historical romance) and Carina Press (historical romance).

On a personal note, I’m a native Californian who lives in the foothills below Yosemite with my husband and three children, the dog and way too many cats.