Tag: Guest Authors

Blog Tour: Once and For All by Cheryl Etchison

Posted May 24, 2016 by Rowena in Promotions | 1 Comment

Once and For All CoverOnce and For All (American Valor #1) by Cheryl Etchison
Releases on May 24, 2016 by Avon Impulse

From debut author Cheryl Etchison comes the first in a military romance series about the men of the 75th Ranger Regiment’s 1st Battalion.

Rule #1: Military and matrimony don’t mix

But if there’s one person Staff Sergeant Danny MacGregor would break all his rules for, it’s Bree-his first friend, first love, first everything. Maybe he likes playing the hero. Maybe he’s trying to ease ten years of guilt. Either way, he’ll do whatever he can to help her.

Wish #1: A little bit of normal

Bree Dunbar has battled cancer, twice. What she wants most is a fresh start in a new place where people aren’t constantly treating her like she’s sick.

By some miracle her wish is granted, but it comes with one major string attached- the man who broke her heart ten years before.

The rules for this marriage of convenience are simple: when she’s ready to stand on her own two feet, she’ll walk away and he’ll let her go. But if there’s one thing the military has taught Danny, it’s that things don’t always go according to plan…

Order the Book:


Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines… Oh my!–

Undoubtedly, those serving in America’s military forces make for great romance characters in romance whether they’re male or female. And in my opinion, those serving in Special Operations units are even more appealing. SEALs, Special Forces, Marine Recon, PJs, members of each demonstrate bravery, loyalty and a mental toughness most civilians could never comprehend. So why did I choose to feature the men of the 75th Ranger Regiment in the American Valor Series?

Rangers are often the first ones behind enemy lines, hence their motto “Rangers Lead the Way”. Their objectives at the beginning of the Global War on Terrorism included parachuting in behind enemy lines, taking control of hydroelectric dams that powered entire regions, seizing airfields so American military transport trains had a place to land and performing hostage rescues. Most of their missions take place in the dark of night, through the green glow of night vision goggles. But as the war in Afghanistan and Iraq continued, their objectives changed as well and they’ve spent much of the past decade kicking in doors and taking names, literally.

At their core, the men of the 75th Ranger Regiment are known for their bravery, their physical endurance, and do their best work in the dark.

What’s not to love?


Bree Dunbar tugged on her pageboy cap in hopes of hiding the obvious. Having beaten cancer for the second time, she’d woken up feeling stronger, more confident than she had in months. A little rebellious, even. Which is why she’d said goodbye to the wig and hello to her stylish new cap. Only now that she was out in public it didn’t seem like the smartest of moves.

People weren’t just noticing her, but staring. Stopping dead in their tracks with mouths gaping open in an “I’m not even trying to hide the fact that I’m staring at you” kind of way. With her earlier confidence now wavering, she felt more than a little…exposed.

She closed her eyes and took a steadying breath. “Screw it. Doesn’t matter,” she told herself. After all, they didn’t know what she’d been through. What she’d given up. So in her mind, feeling this good was still a milestone worth celebrating. Worthy of cheesecake, even. Who cared it wasn’t even noon.

Bree shoved her cart in the direction of the bakery, where she perused the refrigerated display case. Turtle. Strawberry swirl. Double chocolate.

She sensed someone hovering and her earlier irritation reared its ugly head.

“When a woman is stalking the cheesecake case first thing in the morning it can only mean one thing,” a man whispered in her ear.

Bree spun around, prepared to kick this guy in the nuts and tell him exactly what he could do with his one thing, but her plan of action died the moment she laid eyes on him.

“Oh. My. God.”

It had been years since she’d seen Michael MacGregor, but he looked just the same as he always did with his preppy clothes and dark blond hair cut in a traditional military style.

“Definitely not God,” he said with a hint of Southern twang. “God complex? Maybe.”

With a wink and a smile, Michael extended his arms wide and Bree practically leaped into his waiting embrace, wrapping her arms around his neck. Then, just as he’d done when they were younger, he lifted her feet several inches from the ground and spun her in a tight circle. She laughed as they narrowly avoided a bread rack and towering cupcake display. Then with her feet firmly planted on the ground, he kissed her forehead and released her.

“How you doing, kiddo?”

“I’m good. Really good,” she said with a smile. And for the first time in a very long time, she wasn’t lying. “What on earth are you doing in town?”

“I’m on leave. Came home to visit Dad. Play some golf.”

“In February?”

“Got to play when I can.”

Some things never changed. “You’re still in the army, then?”

Mike scrubbed the palm of his hand over his crew cut. “Still have twenty months left on my contract.”
For as long as she could remember, he was the big brother she’d never had. After Lily MacGregor died, it was Mike’s job to look after his younger brother, Danny, while their father worked. And since she and Danny were inseparable for most of their youth, Mike played mother hen to her, as well.

His smile slipped a bit. Bree braced herself, knowing what was coming.

“You look good. Considering.”

And if that wasn’t a wet blanket on her morning. So much for going an entire day without talking about cancer. Bree did her best to shake off the irritation. If anyone deserved a pass, it was Michael. After all, he was a doctor. And one of her oldest friends. So for him, she’d let it slide. This time.

“Considering?” Bree held on to her smile as best she could and took a playful swipe at his chest. “Thanks so much for qualifying your statement.”

His cheeks and ears tinged pink in response. At least he had the good graces to blush.

“You know what I mean,” he said. “All done with treatments?”

“Last one was nine weeks ago. Just trying to get on with life now.”

“Good girl. That’s the right attitude.” He smiled and patted her shoulder, probably with the same bedside manner he was taught in medical school. Then his gaze drifted from right to left across the back of the store.

“Have you seen Danny? He’s around here somewhere.”

Of course he was.

At the mention of his name, her heart stuttered in her chest. Daniel Patrick MacGregor. The boy she’d loved her entire life. The man she’d hated for a decade. Or at the very least, tried to.

To know he was in such close proximity made her want to jump for joy as much as run screaming for the door.

“There you are,” came a voice from behind her. “I’ve been looking all over for you.”

Bree closed her eyes, knowing exactly who that voice belonged to. And she wasn’t so naive as to think he was talking to her. But now simply turning and walking away was an impossibility.

For ten years she’d prepared herself for this moment, rehearsed what she would say if ever given the chance to confront Danny face-to-face. Only now the time had arrived and she couldn’t remember a damn word of any of it. Out of options, she pasted on a smile and turned to face her demons.

Or more like one devil in particular.

“Hello, Danny.”

If she had any lingering delusions his words were meant for her and not his brother, they quickly disappeared. His gaze shifted to her, then to Michael, and back to her. Confusion gave way to realization then surprise.

“Long time, no see, huh?” She smiled so hard it was a wonder her face didn’t crack. And before she realized what she was doing, she leaned in to give him a quick hug. Although she couldn’t remember the plan, Bree was pretty damn sure this wasn’t part of it. But she recovered quickly and pulled away, giving him a little finishing pat on the arm. The kind of gesture typically reserved for old schoolteachers or distant cousins you haven’t spoken with in a million years. To be honest, he didn’t deserve that much affection, but she was trying to be the bigger person. Let bygones be bygones and all that crap.

Nope, no hard feelings here. No deep-seated resentment that had been festering in her heart for years.

Bree took a deep breath and turned her attention back to Michael. Even heard herself ask a million questions about who knows what and not really hearing the answers. Occasionally, she’d glance in Danny’s direction so as not to appear rude, but she purposely avoided looking at him too long; otherwise he’d realize the effect he still had on her.

She jammed her shaking hands into her pockets. Kept her words clipped and short to hide the tremor in her voice. Although she focused on Michael, her skin prickled under the weight of Danny’s stare. She could practically feel all the questions waiting on the tip of his tongue. Things she didn’t want to talk about with anyone, but especially not with him.

Bree glanced at her wrist only to realize she didn’t wear a watch. Hopefully neither noticed. “I’d love to stay and chat but I’ve got to go. It was nice seeing both of you.”

She smiled and grabbed her cart, ready to make a hasty exit.

“What about your cheesecake?” Mike asked.

“I shouldn’t be eating that anyway.” She waved goodbye as she rushed toward the closest aisle.

As her luck would have it, the bakery was located in the far back corner of the store. She raced toward the front door, blazing her way through the maze of shelves and freezer cases. In the detergent aisle she abandoned her half-full cart due to a temperamental front wheel that only slowed her down. Her eyes burned from unshed tears, and Bree could only hope to make it outside before the inevitable meltdown began. With the front entrance in sight, a sense of relief washed over her.

Right until a hand captured her elbow.

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About the Author

Cheryl Etchison

Cheryl Etchison graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in journalism and news communications and has worked as a newspaper reporter, marketing coordinator and in public relations for a MLB and NHL team. Currently, she lives in Austin, Texas and is a stay at home mom to three girls. ONCE AND FOR ALL is her first novel.

Website: www.CherylEtchison.com
Twitter: www.twitter.com/_CherylEtchison
Facebook: www.facebook.com/CherylEtchisonBooks/
Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/cheryletchison

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Guest Author: Romancing the Oscars with Christy English

Posted January 22, 2016 by Rowena in Promotions | 1 Comment

Academy_Award_trophyI love the Oscars…I love the beautiful men, the beautiful clothes, and I love movies, so watching my favorite actors and actresses get awarded for their stellar performances is a lot of fun. Another of my loves is, of course, romance, so I jumped at the chance to take Romance to the Oscars.

There were so many good films out this year, and so many wonderful actors. That is true every year, and this Oscar season is no exception.

Along with offering my predictions as to who will win in the categories of Best Actor and Best Actress (but I warn you, I am always wrong), I am also going to cast a few actors and actresses as our favorite romance novel character types. This is a lot of fun, because all of these actors and actresses are brilliant, and could really do these beloved characters justice.

Leonardo DiCaprio is one of the best actors of our time, and has played so many different roles that he could easily fit more than one Romantic Hero. The most obvious heroic romantic type is the Alpha Hero, a man who takes charge and does not hesitate to act when action is called for. I think that Mr. DiCaprio is a shoo-in for Best Actor for his portrayal of the Wild West gent from The Revenant.

Jennifer Lawrence is a beauty as well as a gifted actress, and she would be perfect to portray an Ingenue with a Backbone of Steel. Of course, she has played that role more than once in the movies already. While there is little opportunity for a woman to whip out a bow and arrow to slay an enemy in the world of romance novels, a strong female character always makes the readers love her, and Ms. Lawrence brings strength as well as inner beauty to every role she plays.

Cate Blanchett is another Oscar favorite this year. She would be wonderful in a romance novel as the Powerful Matriarch, the kind of woman who keeps her entire family afloat through a hideous historical horror such as the potato famine in Ireland or the war-torn South of 1864. My prediction is that Ms. Blanchett will win the Oscar for Best Actress.

Rooney Mara has a slender, ethereal quality that is shored up by a quiet strength that comes across in every role she plays. She would make a wonderful Waifish Debutante with a Core of Secret Power. In that novel, the heroine discovers her own strength in the midst of harrowing circumstances.

Matt Damon did a wonderful job when he played the stranded astronaut in The Martian. His engaging sense of humor made the movie extremely enjoyable as well as exciting from beginning to end. That said, I would cast Mr. Damon in the role of the Hot Fireman in a contemporary romance novel. He would be able to rescue the heroine from a burning building, or maybe her cat, as any heroine worth her salt should be able to rescue herself.

Michael Fassbender is an amazingly talented actor as well as amazingly hot, so he really could take on the role of any type of Alpha Hero in a romance novel. However, for my purposes today, I am going to name him as our Hot Cowboy, because he could easily play a man who could shoot straight, say little, and win the heroine over with only a smile.

How to Wed a Warrior coverTitle: How to Wed a Warrior
Author: Christy English
Series: Broadswords and Ballrooms, Book 2
ISBN: 9781492612902
Release Date: February 2, 2016
Genre: Historical Romance


He’s the scourge of the Season…

Reasons to quit London:
1. It’s not the Highlands.
2. It will never be the Highlands.
3. It’s full of the bloody English.

When his wild spitfire of a sister makes a scene by drawing a claymore in Hyde Park, Highlander Robert Waters knows something must be done. To forestall the inevitable scandal, he hires widowed Prudence Whittaker to teach his sister how to be a lady—never expecting to find unbridled passion beneath the clever Englishwoman’s prim exterior.

Mrs. Whittaker is a fraud. Born Lady Prudence Farthington, daughter of the ruined earl of Lynwood, she’s never even been married. In order to make her way in the world, she has to rely on her wits and a web of lies…lies a sexy Highlander is all too close to unraveling.

He swears he will possess her; she vows he will do nothing of the sort. Yet as passions heat, Prudence comes to realize the illicit pleasure that can be had in going toe-to-toe with a Scot.

Buy the Book

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How to Seduce a Scot coverTitle: How to Seduce a Scot
Author: Christy English
Series: Broadswords and Ballrooms, Book 1
ISBN: 9781492612872
Release Date: December 1, 2015
Genre: Historical Romance


He’s the terror of the ton…

The plan is simple:
1. Descend from the Highlands to face the aggravation of a London Season;
2. Foist his wild sister off on some gullible English lord;
3. Retreat before the ladies of the scandalized ton can get any ideas.

Determined to see his hellion of a sister wed, Highlander Alexander Waters is willing to face anything—even the English. He just didn’t expect his own rough manners to cause such a riot…or for a blooming English rose to catch his eye.

Gently bred Catherine Middlebrook must find a respectable man to marry or her family will be ruined. She won’t allow herself to be distracted by Highland barbarians…no matter how her body may thrill whenever Alex is near.

Catherine wasn’t part of the plan, but as their battle of wills escalates, Alex comes to realize this “proper” English girl is as wild as the Highlands themselves…and nothing will stop him from having her.

Buy the Book

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1NdIEtm
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1MKz10e
Apple: http://apple.co/1WMKirV
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Indie Bound: http://bit.ly/1O3HVcG


About the Author

Ever since Christy English picked up a fake sword in stage combat class at the age of fourteen, she has lived vicariously through the sword-wielding women of her imagination. A banker by day and a writer by night, she loves to eat chocolate, drink too many soft drinks, and walk the mountain trails of her home in North Carolina.

Connect with Christy English

Website: http://www.christyenglish.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BroadswordsandBallrooms/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ChristyEnglish
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2994919.Christy_English

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Five Books Everyone Should Read: Author Shiloh Walker

Posted December 27, 2015 by Holly in Features | 0 Comments

Five Books Everyone Should Read is a feature we’re running in 2015. We’ve asked some of our favorite authors, readers and bloggers to share five books that touched them or have stayed with them throughout the years.

5 Books Project

Today we have romance author Shiloh Walker here to share her list of Five Books. Shiloh is as well rounded as her list of books. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out her backlist. She offers a little something for everyone.

Naked in Death
1. Naked in Death by J.D. Robb

In a world of danger and deception, she walks the line–between seductive passion and scandalous murder…
Eve Dallas is a New York police lieutenant hunting for a ruthless killer. In over ten years on the force, she’s seen it all–and knows her survival depends on her instincts. And she’s going against every warning telling her not to get involved with Roarke, an Irish billionaire–and a suspect in Eve’s murder investigation. But passion and seduction have rules of their own, and it’s up to Eve to take a chance in the arms of a man she knows nothing about–except the addictive hunger of needing his touch.

It’s the best of a bunch of worlds. Romance, suspense, a bit of futuristic tech. With edgy Eve Dallas and sexy Roarke (no last name), the first book is the series opens the doors to a whole new world.

Endurance by S.L. Viehl
2. Endurance by S.L. Viehl

This third entry in the “StarDoc” series finds Dr. Cherijo Torin the target for capture by the Allied League of Worlds. When captured after his failed attempt to get Cherijo, Colonel Shropana is sold to the brutal Hsktskt slave traders. But just as Cherijo made her escape, the man she once loved stabs her in the back, and hands her over to the same slavers.

This isn’t the first in the series (Stardoc) and these aren’t standalone, so naturally, you need to read the others. (See how I did that?). But Endurance is one of the best books I’ve eer read and my favorite book, period. I loves it.

Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews
3. Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews

Kate Daniels cleans up the paranormal problems no one else wants to deal with-especially if they involve Atlanta’s shapeshifting community.

And now there’s a new player in town-a foe that may be too much for even Kate and Curran, the Lord of the Beasts, to handle. Because this time, Kate will be taking on family.

The Kate Daniels series is one of my favorites. Awesome action and characters that make you laugh. This isn’t the first in the series, but it’s my favorite one.

" 4. Archangel’s Kiss by Nalini Singh

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh returns to her world of angelic rulers, vampiric servants, and the woman thrust into their darkly seductive world…

Vampire hunter Elena Deveraux wakes from a year-long coma to find herself changed—an angel with wings the colors of midnight and dawn—but her fragile body needs time to heal before she can take flight. Her lover, the stunningly dangerous archangel, Raphael, is used to being in control—especially when it comes to the woman he considers his own. But Elena has never done well with authority.

They’ve barely begun to understand each other when Raphael receives an invitation to a ball from the archangel, Lijuan. To refuse would be a sign of fatal weakness, so Raphael must ready Elena for the flight to Beijing—and to the nightmare that awaits them there. Ancient and without conscience, Lijuan holds a power that lies with the dead. And she has organized the most perfect and most vicious of welcomes for Elena.

The Gray Man
5. The Gray Man by Mark Greaney

Court Gentry is known as The Gray Man?a legend in the covert realm, moving silently from job to job, accomplishing the impossible, and then fading away. And he always hits his target. But there are forces more lethal than Gentry in the world. And in their eyes, Gentry has just outlived his usefulness.

Now, he is going to prove that for him, there?s no gray area between killing for a living?and killing to stay alive.]

First in the Gray Man series and the best action/thriller book I’ve ever read. Very heavily character driven and the hero in it is the kind of guy you just can’t help but root for.

About Shiloh:

Shiloh Walker is an award-winning writer…yes, really! She’s also a mom, a wife, a reader and she pretends to be an amateur photographer. She published her first book in 2003. Look for her newest book, Headed for Trouble, due out in January 2016 from St. Martins.

She writes romantic suspense and contemporary romance, and urban fantasy under the name J.C. Daniels.

Find her on the web:

Website | Twitter | Facebook

Check out her upcoming release:

Headed for Trouble

Nine years ago, Neve McKay fled her small Southern town and disapproving family to seek a career in the big city. Now she’s finally coming home-and hoping for a fresh start. But the relationship that shattered her world still haunts her. And even among her nearest and dearest, she doesn’t feel safe. . .

Ian Campbell is a pure Scottish muscle-as hard and handsome as they come. But when Neve walks into his bar, his heart melts. . .and he vows to have this gorgeous and somewhat vulnerable woman in his life-for better or for worse. What is Neve’s tragic secret? And how can Neve expect Ian to protect her, when doing so could put his own life at risk? The only thing Ian knows for sure is that he will do whatever it takes to keep her out of harm’s way-and in his loving arms. . .

Preorder it now:

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Five Books Everyone Should Read: Author Sarah MacLean

Posted December 20, 2015 by Holly in Features | 2 Comments

Five Books Everyone Should Read is a feature we’re running in 2015. We’ve asked some of our favorite authors, readers and bloggers to share five books that touched them or have stayed with them throughout the years.

5 Books Project

Today we have historical romance author and all around awesome person, Sarah MacLean, here to share her list of Five Books.Sarah MacLean

When Holly asked me to do this, I thought for sure the list would be all romance. But when I thought about it, I realized that would be preaching to the choir over here on Book Binge! So, here are five books (only one romance!) that I adore — and the reasons why. Maybe there’s something here you haven’t tried?

The Crimson Petal and the White by Michael Faber
1. The Crimson Petal and the White by Michael Faber

At the heart of this panoramic, multidimensional narrative is the compelling struggle of a young woman to lift her body and soul out of the gutter. Faber leads us back to 1870s London, where Sugar, a nineteen-year-old whore in the brothel of the terrifying Mrs. Castaway, yearns for escape to a better life. Her ascent through the strata of Victorian society offers us intimacy with a host of lovable, maddening, unforgettable characters.

This is a beast of a book, 900 pages and completely riveting. In short, it’s the story of Sugar, a Victorian prostitute and her rise to power from the streets of London, but that barely scratches the surface of it — it’s Dickensian in scope, revealing all the remarkable nooks and crannies (even the disgusting ones) of Victorian London. Sugar is a glorious, complex character, and when she rises to the position of mistress to a wealthy businessman whose wife is her opposite (though equally complex) — a moneyed woman being treated for hysteria. Apparently, Faber researched it for 20 years, which is probably why there’s nothing about this book that I don’t love.

When Women Were Birds by Terry Tempest Williams
2. When Women Were Birds by Terry Tempest Williams

“I am leaving you all my journals, but you must promise me you won’t look at them until after I’m gone.” This is what Terry Tempest Williams’s mother, the matriarch of a large Mormon clan in northern Utah, told her a week before she died. It was a shock to Williams to discover that her mother had kept journals. But not as much of a shock as it was to discover that the three shelves of journals were all blank. In fifty-four short chapters, Williams recounts memories of her mother, ponders her own faith, and contemplates the notion of absence and presence art and in our world. When Women Were Birds is a carefully crafted kaleidoscope that keeps turning around the question: What does it mean to have a voice?

I read this book this year after hearing about it again and again from friends. On its surface, it’s a memoir about a woman who has lost her mother. The author is bequeathed her mother’s 50 journals, only to discover that every journal was empty. Just pages of blankness. Of course, this discovery leaves Tempest Williams thinking about issues of identity and womanhood and voice and purpose. It’s a magnificent, lyric book of 54 short essays about relationships mothers and daughters and women and faith and grief and identity. And it changed my life.

Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas
3. Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas

When shy and secluded author Sara Fielding ventures from her country cottage to research a novel, she inadvertently witnesses a crime in progress—and manages to save the life of the most dangerous man in London.

Derek Craven is a powerful and near-legendary gambling club owner who was born a bastard and raised in the streets. His reputation is unsavory, his scruples nonexistent. But Sara senses that beneath Derek’s cynical exterior, he is capable of a love more passionate than her deepest fantasies.

Aware that he is the last man that an innocent young woman should ever want, Derek is determined to protect Sara from himself, no matter what it takes. But in a world where secrets lurk behind every shadow, he is the only man who can keep her safe. And as Derek and Sara surrender to an attraction too powerful to deny, a peril surfaces from his dark past to threaten their happiness . . . and perhaps even their lives.

Together they will discover if love is enough to make dreams come true.

I mean, I’m still Sarah MacLean, you guys, so there’s no way this list is complete without a romance novel. I know that there’s some disagreement about which Lisa Kleypas novel is the most hero-iffic, but to all the Devil in Winter fans, I say, St. Vincent is fine, but Derek Craven would eat him for breakfast. I think of Dreaming of You as a near-perfect romance, in part because it busted down Ducal doors when it came out — Derek isn’t just untitled, he’s a cockney, up-from-the-gutter, son of a prostitute, rough-and-tumble hero who is the ultimate self-made man. And man, has he self-made. He’s the owner of a tremendous gaming hell, and a king of the dark corners of London.

The heroine? A lady novelist who is interested in those dark corners for research. Of course, she has no idea how to navigate them, and she awakens his gentlemanly side, if it can be called that. It’s a beautiful beautiful book.

The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown
4. The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown

While in Paris on business, Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon receives an urgent late-night phone call: the elderly curator of the Louvre has been murdered inside the museum. Near the body, police have found a baffling cipher. While working to solve the enigmatic riddle, Langdon is stunned to discover it leads to a trail of clues hidden in the works of Da Vinci — clues visible for all to see — yet ingeniously disguised by the painter.

Langdon joins forces with a gifted French cryptologist, Sophie Neveu, and learns the late curator was involved in the Priory of Sion — an actual secret society whose members included Sir Isaac Newton, Botticelli, Victor Hugo, and Da Vinci, among others.

In a breathless race through Paris, London, and beyond, Langdon and Neveu match wits with a faceless powerbroker who seems to anticipate their every move. Unless Langdon and Neveu can decipher the labyrinthine puzzle in time, the Priory’s ancient secret — and an explosive historical truth — will be lost forever.

And now…for something completely different. I love this book. I love it as a reader because it is ridiculously good fun, and it makes me turn pages without a care in the world for how ridiculous it is…and all the cares for what good fun it is. Robert Langdon is outrageous and the plot is bananas and I care not a bit. It’s exactly what commercial fiction should be. And that brings me to why I love it as a writer. Let me repeat. It’s exactly what commercial fiction should be.
Dan Brown knows how to write a book that people will devour. The bones

of this book are so carefully structured…everything about it builds so carefully on itself…and everything is designed so that the reader solves the puzzles about thirty seconds before Langdon himself does.
It makes readers feel clever and smart and keeps them gleefully turning pages. The first time I read it, I was on a boat in the middle of a stunning California lake, and I couldn’t even look up at the beautiful day because I was so thoroughly enjoying my book. Ever since, I’ve strived to write a book like that.

The Collected Poems of Edna St. Vincent Millay
5. The Collected Poems of Edna St. Vincent Millay

The 1956 Collected Poems of Edna St. Vincent Millay finds new life in this beautiful new P.S. edition from Harper Perennial Modern Classics. Alongside Robert Frost, T.S. Eliot, Marianne Moore, and E. E. Cummings, Millay remains among the most celebrated poets of the early twentieth century for her uniquely lyrical explorations of love, individuality, and artistic expression. This invaluable compendium of her work is not only an essential addition to any collection of the world’s most moving and memorable poetry but an unprecedented look into the life of Millay. An extensive P.S. section includes personal letters, never-before-seen photographs, information about Millay’s homestead at Steepletop, and an original essay by leading Millay scholar Holly Peppe.

Full disclosure, I’m not a poetry person. I don’t entirely understand it and I always feel like I’m missing the point. That is, for every poet but Edna St. Vincent Millay, who writes the most beautiful, heartbreaking love poems I’ve ever read. Strike that. She writes the most beautiful, heartbreaking love I’ve ever read. I read her almost exclusively when I’m at the end of a book, writing the black moments.

“Time does not bring relief; you all have lied
Who told me time would ease me of my pain!
I miss him in the weeping of the rain.”

That exclamation point slays me every time.

About Sarah:

New York Times & USA Today bestselling author Sarah MacLean wrote her first romance novel on a dare and never looked back. She is the author of historical romances and a monthly romance review column at The Washington Post, and the recipient of back-to-back RITA Awards for Best Historical Romance. Sarah regularly speaks about the romance genre, its history and its intersection with feminism in both academic and consumer settings. A lifelong romance reader, she is the creator and moderator of the 1500 member strong Old School Romance Bookclub on Facebook. Sarah lives in New York City.

Website | Twitter | Facebook

Check out her upcoming releases:

The Rogue Not Taken

Lady Sophie’s Society Splash

When Sophie, the least interesting of the Talbot sisters, lands her philandering brother-in-law backside-first in a goldfish pond in front of all society, she becomes the target of very public aristocratic scorn. Her only choice is to flee London, vowing to start a new life far from the aristocracy. Unfortunately, the carriage in which she stows away isn’t saving her from ruin . . . it’s filled with it.

Rogue’s Reign of Ravishment!

Kingscote, “King,” the Marquess of Eversley, has never met a woman he couldn’t charm, resulting in a reputation far worse than the truth, a general sense that he’s more pretty face than proper gentleman, and an irate summons home to the Scottish border. When King discovers stowaway Sophie, however, the journey becomes anything but boring.

War? Or More?

He thinks she’s trying to trick him into marriage. She wouldn’t have him if he were the last man on earth. But carriages bring close quarters, dark secrets, and unbearable temptation, making opposites altogether too attractive . . .

Available December 29, 2015. Preorder it now:

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Five Books Everyone Should Read: Reader Willaful

Posted December 13, 2015 by Holly in Features | 7 Comments

Five Books Everyone Should Read is a feature we’re running in 2015. We’ve asked some of our favorite authors, readers and bloggers to share five books that touched them or have stayed with them throughout the years.

5 Books Project

Today we have the insightful Willaful here to discuss her Five Books.Willaful

Georgette Heyer was the romance I read when I didn’t read romance. After a stint of Barbara Cartland and Harlequin Presents addiction as an adolescent, I got very snooty about the whole genre. Then, as a teen, a friend turned me on to Heyer. Though I dabbled with a few other romances for the next 30 years or so, everything I tried seemed like a pale imitation of the Master.

When I joined a Heyer listserv, I discovered something odd. Some of the books most beloved by others were ones I didn’t much care for; conversely, my favorites weren’t always enjoyed that much by others. Although this no doubt has something to do with my age when I read them, I also think those people who were primarily romance readers saw the books through a different lens than I did: I certainly enjoyed the romance in Heyer, but I had no strong expectations about what it should look like. (For example, there some on the listserv who found the name “Waldo” so unromantic it turned them right off his book.) I read for the vibrant characters, the feel-like-you’re-there settings, and perhaps most of all, the humor.

[book title]
1. The Nonesuch by Georgette Heyer


When they learned that Sir Waldo Hawkridge was coming, the village gentry were thrown into a flurry. The famed sportsman himself! Heir to an uncounted fortune, and a leader of London society! The local youths idolized “the Nonesuch”; the fathers disapproved; and the mothers and daughters saw him as the most eligible–and elusive–man in the kingdom.

But one person remained calm. When she became a governess, Ancilla Trent had put away romance, and at first she could only be amused at the fuss over Sir Waldo. But when he ignored the well-born beauties of the district, a shocking question began to form: could the celebrated gentleman be courting her?

The Nonesuch. This is the dreadful “Waldo” book, and I very much enjoy the mature, gentlemanly, but slyly witty Sir Waldo. I also found his heroine rather delightfully shocking: a very well-bred governess, she deals with her insufferable charge through careful manipulation, realizing that there’s no sense appealing to a better nature the impressively narcissistic Tiffany doesn’t possess.

The Unknown Ajax
2. The Unknown Ajax by Georgette Heyer

Making the best of a bad situation, Anthea Darricot was civil to her newly-met cousin Hugh, but only barely. For Anthea, reduced to accepting the charity of irascible Lord Darricot, had been ordered to marry Hugh–the new heir to the Darricot fortune. Grandfather Darricot’s plan seemed perfect, to Grandfather: Hugh, the offspring of Darricot’s son and a common weaver’s daughter, might bring an unsuitable and low-bred wife into the family. To prevent this disaster, Hugh must marry Anthea. Knowing this, Anthea detested Hugh on sight, and Hugh seemed indifferent to her. But no one had consulted Hugh, and he was forming plans of his own….

This is another book that is sometimes considered to fail in the romance department, since the heroine spends most of the book being amused by the hero, who’s pretending to be a total goofball. But he doesn’t just have a wicked sense of humor — he’s great in a crisis, utterly dependable, and best of all, HUGE. I’ve been madly in love with him since I was 15 and was lucky enough to (essentially) marry him.

No Wind of Blame
3. No Wind of Blame by Georgette Heyer

Tragedy befalls the Carter family following an eventful visit from a Russian prince and a scandalous blackmail letter. The murder of Wally Carter is a bewildering mystery — how does one shoot a man crossing a narrow bridge without being near the murder weapon when it is fired? The analytical Inspector Hemingway reveals his unnerving talent for solving a fiendish problem.

Almost every character in this mystery is adorably ridonkulous. My favorite is Vicky, a dramatic young woman whose entire life is composed of putting on different acts, and who speaks in a affected style that is somehow thoroughly beguiling. Even after finding a dead body, she’s in top form: “you can’t start a necking-party now, because it would be too utterly anachronous!” ‘Oh, he looked totally dead!’ (A little before her time, slang-wise?) Considering how well she orchestrates situations to suit herself, it’s a good thing there’s also a warm heart hiding beneath the style.

Friday's Child
4. Friday’s Child by Georgette Heyer

When the incomparable Miss Milbourne spurns the impetuous Lord Sherington’s marriage proposal (she laughs at him-laughs!) he vows to marry the next female he encounters, who happens to be the young, penniless Miss Hero Wantage, who has adored him all her life. Whisking her off to London, Sherry discovers there is no end to the scrapes his young, green bride can get into, and she discovers the excitement and glamorous social scene of the ton. Not until a deep misunderstanding erupts and Sherry almost loses his bride, does he plumb the depths of his own heart, and surprises himself with the love he finds there.

If P.G. Wodehouse ever wrote Regency romances, they might be something like this. The romance itself can be problematic, but the supporting cast of affable but generally clueless young men about town, just educated enough to be confused, really makes the book.

Envious Casa
5. Envious Casa by Georgette Heyer

It is no ordinary Christmas at Lexham Manor. Six holiday guests find themselves the suspects of a murder enquiry when the old Scrooge, Nathaniel Herriad, who owns the substantial estate, is found stabbed in the back. For Inspector Hemingway of Scotland Yard, ‘tis the season to find whodunit but it’s a real conundrum how any of the suspects could have entered the locked room to commit this foul deed in the first place.

If there’s a theme to these picks, it’s over-the-top characters and masquerades. This mystery combines both in a fascinating way. I’ve always been intrigued by the placid, rather despised Maud, who refuses to pay attention to what anyone thinks or expects of her, especially when it comes to reading.

“Mathilda sat beside her, and laughed when she saw the title of the book Maud had been reading. ‘Last time I was here it was the Memoirs of a Lady-in-Waiting,’ she said, teasing Maud.
Mockery slid off the armour of Maud’s self-sufficiency. ‘I like that kind of book,’ she replied simply.”

You go, Maud.

About Willaful:

I have long since gotten over being snooty about romance. Though I’ve never been able to go back to Barbara Cartland, these days I love nothing more than a good Harlequin Presents. I blog at “Heroes and Heartbreakers” and “A Willful Woman.”

Check her out online:

Twitter | Heroes and Heartbreakers | A Willful Woman

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