Thursday, January 30, 2014

Guest Review: THE MACGREGOR'S LADY by Grace Burrowes


The MacGregor's Lady by Grace Burrowes

by LSUReader

Scottish nobleman Asher MacGregor and American heiress Hannah Cooper make an oddly interesting couple in The MacGregor's Lady, the third novel in the MacGregor Series by Grace Burrowes.

Asher, recently returned from Canada, is learning his role as the Earl of Balfour. Technically, he has been the earl for some time; but after a long absence, he was assumed dead. His brother Ian (hero of 2012's The Bridegroom Wore Plaid) has been the acting earl. Now that he is back to his family seat and his social duties, Asher agrees to escort Bostonian Hannah Cooper and her aunt through the London season. Additionally, Asher acknowledges he should begin his search for a bride.

Hannah's greedy American step-father expects her to make a good match in England--hopefully one that will allow him to continue to control Hannah's considerable finances. Hannah has other ideas. She is convinced she must return to Boston as soon as she can to protect her grandmother, mother and brothers from her shady step-father. In London, Hannah is just going through the motions. A limp makes her feel physically awkward. Hannah's strong desire to remain single makes her emotionally aloof.

You feel for these characters. They are painfully self-contained. Overwhelmingly, Asher and Hannah want to do the right thing for their families. They deny themselves for what they believe is the greater good. They are selfless and utterly loyal to the people they care about. If ever a hero and heroine deserved an HEA, it's these two. Asher and Hannah do gradually overcome the barriers they've erected, with some help from Asher's considerable Scottish family.

I generally love Grace's books; this one, not as much. The novel features Grace's typical likeable but troubled characters. Her writing voice is lovely, as always. But gaps in this story kept me wondering if I'd missed an earlier read. (I haven't.) I read the earlier two novels and novella in this series, and I was looking forward to fully understanding Asher's story: When and why did he leave and return? How did the MacGregor siblings (three brothers and a sister) accept his return? How have the MacGregor relationships fared with his reappearance? Though each of these is slightly touched upon, I'm left wondering about the full answers to those questions. There also is a peculiar side story about a couple of characters trying to see Asher put into a compromising position and forced to marry Hannah. It seems to be unnecessary to the flow and spirit of the novel.

I do recommend The MacGregor's Lady, with a rating of three out of five stars. It is a good, solid romance story. I just think it could have been more. Actually, most Grace Burrowes books are. 

View of the city of Boston from Dorchester heights
Painted & engraved by Robt. Havell
Library of Congress - Public Domain (link)

Mahalo, LSU, for sharing your thoughts on THE MACGREGOR'S LADY.   It will be available February 4, 2014, from Sourcebooks Casablanca (link).  Check out Grace's website (link) to read an excerpt with links to order.

In honor of Asher and Hannah, I am giving away a special Anglo-American prize package to one randomly selected commenter.  To enter the giveaway,

1.  Leave a comment about Boston - what do you know about it? My first assignment in the Air Force took me to Hanscom AFB in Boston's suburbs.  I loved it for the history, for the lobsters, and for the Scorpion Bowls (drink for two) at the Hong Kong in Harvard Square (link).

2.  This giveaway is open to all readers.  

3.  Comments are open through Saturday, February 1, 10 pm in Baltimore.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, February 2.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Books 1 and 2 in the series ...

Aloha to Laura Drake and NOTHING SWEETER


Laura Drake is celebrating the release of NOTHING SWEETER, Book 2 in her Sweet on a Cowboy series, available now from Forever Romance:

A Love as Wild as the West...

Aubrey Madison is starting over. Leaving Los Angeles and everything behind except the scars of her ruined past, Bree sets out for cowboy country. Now she has a new home, a new job—and a new worry: the ruggedly sexy rancher who makes her long for things she shouldn't...

Rough and tumble cattleman Max Jameson has broken wild stallions and faced angry bulls. Yet the redheaded city cupcake who turned up at the High Heather Ranch might be his undoing. Bree has a plan to rescue the ranch from foreclosure that's just crazy enough to work. But will Max gamble his future on a beautiful stranger?

Book 1

Laura has always been a storyteller. She began on her front porch, telling ghost stories to the neighborhood kids. They ran screaming, but kept coming back for more. If she wasn’t telling a story, she had her nose in one, bumping into students in the halls on her way to classes.

Her settings are Western, but Laura grew up in the suburbs outside Detroit. A tomboy, she’s always loved the outdoors and adventure. In 1980 she and her sister packed everything they owned into their Pintos and moved to California, sight unseen. There Laura met her husband, a motorcycling, bleed-maroon Texas Aggie, and her love affair with the West began.

She rode a hundred thousand miles on the back of her husband’s motorcycle, propping a book on his back and reading on the boring stretches. But you can’t read all day and after awhile, her brain would empty of the day-to-day thoughts and cast about for something new to think about.

Nothing sweeter than a vintage truck ... and a hot cowboy!

I am giving away a print copy of NOTHING SWEETER to one randomly selected commenter.  To enter the giveaway,

1.   Leave a comment about the Wild West - do you have a favorite place that you enjoyed visiting?  Did you engage in any tourist trap?   I traveled to San Antonio for a two week acquisition course for the Air  Force.  During our downtime, a group of us drove to Nuevo Laredo for cheap Kahlua.  Not quite the Western experience.

2.  This giveaway is open to all readers.

3.  Comments are open through Saturday, February 1, 10 pm in Baltimore.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, February 2.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

To learn  more about Laura and her books, check out her website at

Book 3 - Available August 2014

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Keeping Warm with Avon Romance

Good morning!   Another artic blast forced the county schools to open late this morning.   My kids still wake up on time ... so they enjoy unexpected time on the XBox!    That gives me extra time to roam the net.

Yesterday was Super Tuesday for Avon Romance with the release of several fan favorites (link):

Cathy Maxwell and Tessa Dare will be answering Q&As with on Wednesday, January 29, 12 pm at Avon Romance (link).   I've already submitted my question and you can, too, at the link.

Cathy and Tessa discussed rogues in their own Q&A at this link.

Over at The Romance Dish, Cathy shares her thoughts on happiness (link) with giveaweay for THE BRIDE SAYS NO.   The Romance Dish also offers an excerpt from Tessa Dare's ROMANCING THE DUKE (link).

Cathy gives an intimate interview with The Book Obsessed Chicks (link) with giveaway for THE BRIDE SAYS NO.

I save the best post for last .... Cathy investigated the love lives of romance authors for Happily Ever After at this link.  

File:Loch Tay at Kenmore.jpg
Loch Tay, setting for THE BRIDE SAYS NO
Public Domain (link)

Don't forget my own two giveaways for Cathy Maxwell:

Book review of THE BRIDE SAYS NO (link) - leave a comment for a chance to win a copy - winner's choice of format.

Burns Night with Cathy Maxwell (link) - leave a comment for a chance to win a Scottish throw blanket  to keep you warm along with a hot Avon Romance!.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Aloha to Christie Craig and TEXAS HOLD 'EM


My kids often play Texas Hold 'Em with my husband.   Meanwhile, I'd rather indulge in Christie Craig's TEXAS HOLD 'EM, Book 3 in her Hotter in Texas series:

The last thing veterinarian Leah Reece needs is a man in her life. They're nothing but trouble-and not even the fun kind. But when her apartment is broken into and Leah suspects Rafael, her dangerous half-brother, of foul play, she can't deny she could use a little help. She just never expected that help would come with twinkling blue eyes and a sexy smile...

All PI Austin Brook wants is to nail Rafael DeLuna, the man who framed him for murder. He'll do anything for information-even lie about his identity to charm Leah, DeLuna's half-sister. But her sweet dimples and fiery spirit soon make her more than just his only lead. Leah becomes his every desire. As Austin closes in on DeLuna, it's clear he won't go down without a fight. Now the only way Austin can protect Leah is to reveal all of his secrets and risk losing her for good.

Christie Craig, a New York Times Bestseller, is an Alabama native, a multi-published writer, motivational speaker, and writing teacher. Her romance fiction is widely acclaimed for combining witty humor and heart-felt emotions with a suspenseful, sexy tone. She currently hangs her hat in Texas and writes for Grand Central/Forever. Her backlist titles are available wherever e-books are sold. Check out her website and blog at and

In addition, Craig writes romance-flavored non-fiction with Faye Hughes, including The Everything Guide To Writing A Romance Novel and Wild, Wicked and Wanton: 101 Ways to Love Like You Are in a Romance Novel, a humorous self-help relationship book. You can learn more about Christie's books with Faye at

Craig also writes the New York Times and USA Today best-selling young adult paranormal romance series, Shadow Falls, published by St. Martin's Press/Griffin under her pen name C.C. Hunter. You can learn more about C.C.'s books at her website,

I am giving away a print copy of TEXAS HOLD 'EM to one randomly selected commenter.  To enter the giveaway, 

1.  Leave a comment about card games - do you have a favorite? I prefer rummy to poker.

2.  This giveaway is open to all readers.

3.  Comments are open through Saturday, February 1, 10 pm in Baltimore.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, February 2.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City


Monday, January 27, 2014

Aloha to Kimberly Palmer and THE ECONOMY OF YOU


On this day in 1813, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE was first published in the United Kingdom.  It was Jane Austen's second novel.  She wrote from experience as a woman dependent upon male relatives in Regency England.  Yet Austen - and her family - believed in her writing.  Today, she is regarded as a must read for literary study and romantic escapism.

Kimberly Palmer writes about the one thing that defined families from the Regency Era - money.   From Kimberly's bio, 

I write about money as the senior money editor and Alpha Consumer blogger at US News & World Report. I love helping people make smarter money choices, especially when it comes to navigating big life milestones, from college graduation to parenthood to homeownership. 

I live in the Washington, D.C. area with my husband and our two children. When I’m not out hiking or hosting pretend tea parties with them, I frequently talk about money to large groups as well as on television and the radio. I also grew up in the area, but took a few detours to attend Amherst College, work forAsahi Shimbun/International Herald Tribune in Tokyo as a Henry Luce Scholar, and earn a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Chicago.

File:Pickering - Greatbatch - Jane Austen - Pride and Prejudice - She then told him what Mr. Darcy had voluntarily done for Lydia.jpg
A scene from P&P
Public Domain (link)

I am currently reading Kimberly's second book, THE ECONOMY OF YOU:  Discover Your Inner Entrepreneur and Recession-Proof Your Life:

The biggest trend in business is the microbusiness! Handcrafted jewelry, artisanal eats, life coaching, app development, you name it - entrepreneurial side ventures are everywhere. Weary of pink-slip anxiety and the endless money squeeze, millions of people are taking the leap. They're adding to their incomes and creating safety nets in case the ax falls at work. In the process, they're unlocking their creativity and finding a sense of fulfillment they never dreamed possible. Financial columnist Kimberly Palmer illuminates the everyday faces behind this growing movement, starting with her own journey. Recognizing that journalism offers little job security these days - and with a baby to provide for-she decided to develop a series of financial planners. This supplemental business was soon providing a reliable income stream. 

The Economy of You recounts story after story of people who - like Kimberly - are liberating themselves from financial strain. A deli employee who makes custom cakes at night. An instrument repairman who sells voice-overs on his website. A videographer who started a profitable publishing house on the side. Interwoven in the profiles are concrete guidelines for readers looking to launch rewarding businesses of their own, including: tips for figuring out the ideal side gig; ideas for keeping start up costs low; advice on juggling a fledgling enterprise and a full-time job; strategies for finding your "tribe" and building a social network; branding and marketing basics that bring results; when and what to offer for free; and much more. Companies guarantee nothing but today's wages. It's up to you to build stability by becoming a money-making engine. It's empowering, gratifying, and easy to do with The Economy of You.

I'd love to be a travel writer ....

If you could turn a hobby into a money making operation, even a new career, what would it be?  One randomly selected commenter wins a print copy of THE ECONOMY OF YOU.  This giveaway is open to US residents only.  Comments are open through Saturday, February 1, 10 pm in Baltimore.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, February 2.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

To learn more about Kimberly and her books, check out her website at


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Aloha to Samantha Grace and ONE ROGUE TOO MANY

Samantha Grace joins me today, National Chocolate Cake Day, to chat about her new series, Rival Rogues, with Book 1, ONE ROGUE TOO MANY.

Historical romance author Samantha Grace discovered the appeal of a great love story when she was just a young girl, thanks to Disney’s “Robin Hood”. She didn’t care that Robin Hood and Maid Marian were cartoon animals. It was her first happily-ever-after experience and she didn’t want the warm fuzzies to end. Now that Samantha is grown, she enjoys creating her own happy-endings for characters that spring from her imagination. Publisher’s Weekly describes her stories as “fresh and romantic” with subtle humor and charm. Samantha describes romance writing as the best job ever.

Part-time hospice social worker, moonlighting author, and Pilates nut, she enjoys a happy and hectic life with her real life hero and two kids in the Midwest. 

Kim:  I am fascinated by the dynamics of group blogs - how do you balance your writing, your own promo, and then your contributions to Lady Scribes (link)?

Samantha: It can become a juggling act at times, but I love everything I do related to writing. It’s my dream job! I structure my writing days very similarly to my day job. I have certain tasks I need to accomplish, and I take a few minutes in the morning to figure out in what order I’m going to do them. I’m a list-maker.

Since you mentioned Lady Scribes, I’d love to tell you what we have coming up in February. We are undergoing a revamp, and we’re excited about the changes. We’ll have more sneak peeks at what we’re writing—look for author video readings too from the BRAVER authors. (We’ll see if I fall in that category. One of my goals for 2014 is to get over my camera shyness.)

We’ll have more giveaways and chances to interact with each other, such as What’s Up Wednesdays where we’ll talk about what everyone is reading/watching/listening to/etc. & High Five Fridays where everyone shares their top 5 of whatever the topic of the day is. And of course, we’ll have more guest bloggers and interviews. Look for a couple of new authors to join us too.

Kim:  I enjoyed your Beau Monde Bachelor series with fun titles! What did you learn about yourself, your writing, and your readers after a four book series plus the blog tours to promote them?

Samantha: Thank you! It’s always a boost to hear someone say they enjoy my books. Keeps me motivated to stay in the chair and keep going.

This is a great question. I think what I learned about myself is I’m happiest when I’m following my instincts and writing for me. There are people with good intentions who will tell an author to change a story this way or that, and in the beginning, I thought maybe I should listen since they had more experience. When I didn’t stay true to my vision and followed someone else’s suggestions, even though they didn’t feel right, I regretted it. Now I’ll consider suggestions, but I trust my gut and have no trouble speaking up for my story.

From the blogging tour, I learned that romance readers are incredibly kind and optimistic. They want a good story, and they want to believe they’ve picked up a good one every time they select a book. I do my best not to disappoint them! I also learned I’m not every reader’s cup of tea, and I’m okay with that.

The best part of the tours, however, has been getting to know some of the readers. I even had a chance to meet a reader I got to know well once we connected on Facebook. My husband and I met her and a friend in Atlanta, and it was such a pleasure. Plus, she provided me with a great description for my writing: humorous stories with heart. I love that!

Kim:  I am looking forward to your new series, Rival Rogues. What inspired it?

Samantha: The idea for a younger sister/brother’s best friend romance came from watching the interactions between my daughter and her older brother’s friend. Sometimes the friend would be nice to her. Then other times he would pull pranks on her.

One day I was very irritated with him for hurting her feelings and I thought, ‘Some day she is going to grow up to be a beauty and you’re going to want her attention, but she won’t care a thing about you.’

Then my imagination took over and created a story about two neighbors who grew up together and fell in love as adults, but their shared past creates a obstacles to trusting one another. I needed more conflict, however, and what better way to do it than to add competition for her heart? I needed another rogue! As readers have pointed out, “Is it really possible to have too many rogues?”

Kim:  Tell us about ONE ROGUE TOO MANY - why should Lady Gabrielle wait for the Earl of Ellis?

Samantha: Here is a summary of the story:

From the betting book at Brooks’s Gentleman’s Club: 

Wager: £2,000 that Lord Ellis will throw the first punch when he discovers Lord Thorne is wooing a certain duke’s sister.

All bets are off when the game is love

Lady Gabrielle is thrilled when she learns Anthony Keaton, Earl of Ellis, wants to ask for her hand in marriage. She’s not so pleased when he then leaves the country and four months pass without a word. Clearly, the scoundrel has changed his mind and is too cowardly to tell her. There’s nothing to do but go back on the marriage mart…

When Anthony returns to Town and finds his ultimate rival has set sights on Gabby, his continual battle of one-upmanship with Sebastian Thorne ceases to be a game. Anthony is determined to win back the woman who holds his heart—but he’s not expecting Gabby herself to up the stakes…

It’s really a second chance at love/friends to lovers/younger sister & brother’s friend story. Three of my favorite tropes mashed together.

Lady Gabrielle should wait for Ellis, because true love is always the best choice. But I understand the reason she has doubts. If love came easily, perhaps we wouldn’t value it as much.

Kim:  What's next for Samantha Grace?

Samantha: I just finished revisions for In Bed with a Rogue, which is the second story in my Rival Rogues series. It’s a love story for the jilted rogue, and I’m very excited to share it, but it won’t be released until September 2nd. In the meantime, I have book coming out in February that I worked on with four other authors—Olivia Kelly, Christi Caldwell, Robin Delany, & Aileen Fish.

We had so much fun collaborating on the plot and creating our characters.

Here’s a little bit about The Heart of a Duke:

Five friends receive a pendant from a gypsy along with a prophecy that whoever wears the pendant will win the heart of a duke. With varying expectations, each girl accepts her turn with the good luck charm and a chance at happily-ever- after—secretly fearing the gypsy’s tale may be nothing more than a plot to sell them a worthless piece of jewelry.

Thank you Kim for hosting me today. It’s great to be here, and I look forward to chatting with everyone. 


Mahalo, Samantha, for making National Chocolate Cake Day that much better with ONE ROGUE TOO MANY

Sourcebooks is giving away a print copy of ONE ROGUE TOO MANY to one randomly selected commenter.  To enter the giveaway,

1.  Leave a comment about your favorite storyline trope.   

2.  This giveaway is open to readers in the US and Canada.

3.  Comments are open through Saturday, February 1, 10 pm in Baltimore.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, February 2.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

To connect with Samantha, find her at:

Samantha Grace Author | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Aloha to Cheryl Bolen and LOVE IN THE LIBRARY

Using Stately Homes for Settings
By Cheryl Bolen

My copyeditor recently questioned a reference in one of my books he was editing. "Can this be?" he asked. "Over 300 rooms in this house?"

Yes, many of the British stately homes run to more than 200 rooms and some to over 300 rooms. And because I write a lot of novels about the English aristocracy (both historical and contemporary), I have made it a point to tour as many of these aristocratic homes as possible on my frequent travels to England.

One of my favorite of these stately homes is Chatsworth House, family seat of the Dukes of Devonshire, nestled in the foothills of Derbyshire's Peak District. The "house" has 297 rooms! (It's the one I use in the banner on my blog, Cheryl's Regency Ramblings,

Knole, in Kent, is home to the Sackvilles, cousins of the first Queen Elizabeth, and was once home to the Dukes of Dorset. This rambling "house" has 356 rooms, 52 sets of stairs, and seven courtyards!
I have toured more than 30 of these homes, and I add new ones each trip my husband and I take to England. They make good fodder for the fictional homes in my 20-plus books. While none of these homes is exactly replicated in any of my novels, I do borrow from different houses I've had the pleasure of touring.

My book which can most be identified with a particular property is probably My Lord Wicked. The abbey in which my not-so-wicked lord lived was somewhat modeled on Hever Castle, the girlhood home of Anne Boleyn. Instead of the drawbridge at Hever, my fictional abbey has a clock tower which was supposedly built to disguise the abbey's former bell tower.

In my newest book, Love in the Library, my heroine lives at Number 17 Royal Crescent in Bath. Here's a picture of me in front of one of the magnificent townhouses on Bath's Royal Cresent in June of 2013. 

If you'd like to see what a Georgian townhouse (of the wealthy) looked like, you can tour Number 1 Royal Crescent in Bath. Or you can see the photos of Number 1 at this link.

File:Knole from Morris's Seats of Noblemen and Gentlemen (1880(.JPG
Illustration of Knole
Morris’s Seats of Noblemen and Gentlemen (1880)
Public Domain (link)

Mahalo, Cheryl, for sharing your travel experience with us!  I toured Knole and loved the it!  I am looking forward to reading your new release, LOVE IN THE LIBRARY, now available:

The popular Brides of Bath (Regency-set historicals) are back!

Certain the "smart" Steffington twin can help her recover her late husband's nearly priceless stolen Chaucer manuscript, Catherine Bexley tearfully persuades the scholar to assist her. A deal is struck. She's particularly pleased this Doctor of Letters is not interested in seducing her because she's finished with men (owing to her late husband's multitude of unfortunate alliances with. . .doxies). Regaining the manuscript and its subsequent sale will give her independence to ensure she never has to marry again,

Once he learns the poor, delicate widow is in danger of losing her heavily mortgaged home if they cannot find the valuable hologram, Dr. Melvin Steffington vows to do everything in his power to restore the rare Canterbury Tales to her. It's obvious the pretty little thing needs a man to help her. Not normally the twin to take note of pretty little things, Melvin can't help but to observe that Mrs. Bexley's physical appearance is much like the beauties so admired by his twin brother.

He hadn’t counted on the fact he would have to pose as her husband as they race against the banker's ticking clock. He hadn’t counted on the mysterious thief attempting to kill him. Most of all, he hadn't counted on how close he would become to the lovely widow or how the kissing of said widow would become the most pleasant experience in his entire seven and twenty years. . .

Read an excerpt from Love in the Library

A former journalist, Cheryl holds a dual degree in English and journalism from the University of Texas, and she earned a master’s degree from the University of Houston. She and her professor husband are the parents of two sons, one who is an attorney, and the other a journalist. Her favorite things to do are watching the Longhorns, reading letters and diaries of Georgian Englishmen, and traveling to England. She invites readers to her website,, or her blog,


Cheryl is giving away an autographed copy of her classic MARRIAGE OF INCONVENIENCE (link).  To enter the giveaway,

1.  Have you visited a stately house?   I visited the only Royal palaces in the US, all located in Hawaii - 'Iolani Palace (link), Hānaiakamalama (link), and Hulihe‘e Palace (link).

2.  This giveaway is open to all readers.

3.  Comments are open through Saturday, February 1, 10 pm in Baltimore.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, February 2.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

'Iolani Palace on King Street
Honolulu, Hawaii

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Aloha to Brenda Hiatt and STARCROSSED

Starcrossed cover

On this day in 1949, the Hale telescope at the Palomar Observatory became the largest aperture optical telescope. Astronomer Edwin Hubble targeted NGC 2261, later known as Hubble's Variable Nebula.   The Hale telescope is still in use by CalTech.

Space.  The final frontier.   Brenda Hiatt, beloved historical author, makes a giant leap into Young Adult science fiction with her Starstruck series, starting with Book 1, STARSTRUCK:

The middle of nowhere just got a lot more interesting!

Nerdy, orphaned astronomy geek Marsha, M to her few friends, dreams of escaping tiny Jewel, Indiana and becoming “somebody”—a distant dream until hot new quarterback Rigel inexplicably befriends her. As Rigel turns his back on fawning cheerleaders to spend time with M, strange things happen: her acne clears up, her terrible eyesight improves, and when they touch, sparks fly—literally! When M digs for a reason, she discovers deep secrets that will change her humdrum life forever and expose her to perils she never dreamed of.

Read the first few chapters here.

Ebook currently available for just 99¢ at Amazon,, KoboSmashwords and Apple iBooks.

Starstruck thumbnail

Brenda is celebrating the release of Book 2, STARCROSSED:

Fate bound them together. Will her destiny tear them apart?

M and Rigel seem to have found their happy ending . . . but things aren’t always as they seem. When a new boy shows up at Jewel High, he brings secrets with him–secrets that may rip apart the perfect bond M has with Rigel. Unless they can find a way to rewrite her destiny?

Ebook available now from Amazon,, iBooks, Smashwords or Kobo!

Print edition available soon!

File:Mauna Kea Summit in Winter.jpg
Mauna Kea - White Mountain
Public Domain (link)

Brenda is giving away an ecopy of STARSTRUCK, Book 1, with a Smashwords coupon.  To enter the giveaway, 

1.  Leave a comment about space - does it interest you?  Have you visited a planetarium? Do you have a favorite constellation?  
Mauna Kea, the tallest peak on the Big Island of Hawaii, is home of several international observatories.  It is also the only place to find snow.  In fact, it means White Mountain in the Hawaiian language.  

2.  This giveaway is open to all readers.

3.  Comments are open through Saturday, February 1, 10 pm in Baltimore.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, February 2.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

To learn more about Brenda and her books, check out her website at

Haleakala, on the Maui, looks like a moonscape.

Weekly Winners

We have winners at SOS Aloha!

- Di wins Byodo In Temple swag


- Cyn wins a print copy


Shawntelle Madison's REPOSSESSED
- BN100 wins a swag pack from Shawntelle

Jennifer Haymore's THE ROGUE'S PROPOSAL
- JMcGaugh wins a print copy


Monica Epstein's WHERE THERE IS WILL
- Carol L. wins a London swag

Winners - please claim your prize by sending your mailing address to


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Friday, January 24, 2014

Aloha to Cathy Maxwell and THE BRIDE SAYS NO - Burns Night Celebration


On this day in 1759, Robert Burns was born in Alloway, Scotland.  He became a pioneer of the Romance Movement and Scotland's National Poet.  His birthday is celebrated across the world with Burns Night - a special supper to honor all things Scottish.   

Back in 2004, when my husband worked for NATO in the Netherlands, we were invited by the UK delegation to Burns Night.  At that time, I was a new reader of the romance genre - I was converted by Cathy Maxwell's THE MARRIAGE CONTRACT, set in Regency Scotland   Still, I knew little about Burns.  

The evening opened my eyes to how Burns' poetry rallied the Scottish people at a time when their national culture was suppressed following the Jacobite Rebellion.   Above, the Master of Ceremonies quotes Burns in praising the Haggis served for supper (I opted for the vegetarian entree). 

Scotland. Alba.  She is enchanting.  She enchanted Blake Stephens, an arrogant Englishman who chased after his Scottish bride in Cathy Maxwell's THE BRIDE SAYS NO:

New York Times bestselling author Cathy Maxwell returns with a delicious new series, The Brides of Wishmore

What happens when a bride says no?

He is the bastard son of a duke, arrogant, handsome, a little bit dangerous, and, of course, one of the most sought-after bachelors in London. He is also about to be publicly jilted by some chit of a girl! Blake Stephens' pride isn't about to let him be humiliated, so he charges after his bride to the wilds of Scotland, determined to bring her to the altar.

What happens when the heart says yes?

He is promised to one woman, but discovers his soul stirred by . . . the chit's sister! Lady Aileen Davidson's reputation was ruined ages ago, which is why she's buried herself in the country, but her fiery spirit and bold beauty threaten to bring Blake to his knees, making him wonder if he has proposed to the wrong lass.

And now he must make a choice: marry for honor . . . or marry for love?

File:Loch Tay at Kenmore.jpg
Loch Tay near Kenmore, Scotland
Released to Public Domain (link)

Lady Aileen opens Blake's eyes to love - love that he sees in many forms among the Scottish villagers. I referenced how Scotland transforms Blake in my review posted on Goodreads (link). THE BRIDE SAYS NO is available Tuesday, January 28, from Avon Romance.

I believe Blake would quote Burns' MY HIGHLAND LASSIE, O:

Nae gentle dames, tho' e'er sae fair,
Shall ever be my muse's care;
Their titles a' are empty show;
Gie me my Highland Lassie, O.
Within the glen sae bushy, O,
Aboon the plain sae rushy, O,
I sit me down wi' right good will,
To sing my Highland Lassie, O.


To celebrate Burns Night, Cathy Maxwell, and Highland lassies, I am giving away a special throw blanket with the Scottish Rampart design.   To enter the giveaway,

1.  Leave a comment about Burns Night - do you have a favorite poem?  Have you attended Burns Supper?  Have you (or would you) eat Haggis?

2.  This giveaway is open to readers with a US mailing address.

3.  Comments are open through Saturday, February 1.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, February 2.   


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Learn more about Cathy and her books from her website at   

Enter the chance to win a copy of THE BRIDE SAYS NO at this link.

Book 2 will be available February 25.