Saturday, February 28, 2015

Aloha to the Library of Congress - What is Love? Romance Fiction in the Digital Age (part 3)

Library of Congress - Main Reading Room (link)

Continuing my recap of the romance conference hosted by the Center for the Book (link), I was eager to hear Panel 3: Community and the Romance Genre:

Moderator:  Mary Bly/Eloisa James, Professor of English, Fordham University, and romance author

Panelists:  Robyn Carr (romance author), Brenda Jackson (romance author), Kim Castillo (author assistant), Anne Jamison (Associate Professor of English, University of Utah), Kathleen Seidel (romance author and WRW member), and Sarah Wendell (book blogger)

Here are snippets from the conversation (paraphrase) about "community":

Romance is less about sex and more about hope

Robyn:  romance community is a place to comfornt vulnerable emotions in a safe place

Brenda:  garner relationships with readers

Kim:  "pay it forward", reading romance is life affirming, it becomes personal to reader

Sarah:  reading fiction makes us more empathetic

Sarah also asked Robyn how many virgins swam in the river (as her series is called Virgin River).   Sarah is a born entertainer and enthusiastic reader.   

The audience was comprised of romance readers, romance writers, and nonfiction writers curious about the genre.   The panel demonstrated that the romance community is alive, well, and welcoming.

What are your thoughts on the romance community? Comments are open through Saturday, March 7, 10 pm in Baltimore.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, March 8.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Lucky enjoys the romance community ...

Friday, February 27, 2015

Aloha to Carla Neggers and ECHO LAKE


In snowy Swift River Valley, unexpected romance is just around the corner… 

Heather Sloan has landed her dream job—the renovation of Vic Scarlatti's stately 1912 country home overlooking the icy waters of Echo Lake in Knights Bridge, Massachusetts. It's the perfect project for the family business, but for once, Heather is in charge.

Diplomatic Security Service agent Brody Hancock left Knights Bridge at eighteen, a few steps ahead of arrest and the wrath of Heather's older brothers. Though Brody had never planned to return, Vic, a retired diplomat and friend, needs his help.

Staying at Vic's guest house makes it impossible to avoid running into a Sloan at every turn—especially Heather. Seeing her again has affected Brody more than he wants to admit. But Heather is wary of Brody's sudden interest in her, and she suspects there's more to his homecoming than he's letting on…

Set against the scenic backdrop of a New England winter, Echo Lake is a captivating tale of family, friends and the possibility of new love.

Echo Lake (Colorado)
Released to Public Domain (link)

I am giving away a print copy of ECHO LAKE to on randomly selected commenter.  To enter the giveaway,

1.  Leave a comment about lakes - do you have a favorite body of water near you?

2.  Comments are open through Saturday, March 7, 10 pm in Baltimore.

3.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, March 8.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Learn more about Carla and her books at


Aloha to V.K. Sykes and MEET ME AT THE BEACH

Yes, let's ditch the snow and meet at the beach with V.K. Sykes:

V. K. Sykes is a wife/husband writing team-Vanessa Kelly and Randall Sykes-who write romantic suspense and single title contemporary romance. One of the great things they appreciate about being writers is that they can work anywhere so Vanessa and Randy split their time between Ontario, Canada, in the summer and Florida in the winter. Both locations have shores just as beautiful as the imaginary Seashell Bay.

Kim:  Amelia Island - what is your favorite sight, sound, and smell of coastal Florida?

V.K.: Definitely the ocean. There’s nothing as soul-restoring as walking along the beach, listening to the crashing of the waves and smelling the crisp salt air!

Kim:  What's the hardest element of cowriting a book with someone who you see 24x7?

V.K.: There’s no escaping each other when you have a disagreement about something with the book! Which is probably not a bad thing, since it means we have to deal with the problem rather than ignoring it.

Kim:  If readers were to meet you at the beach, what would they find in your beach bag?

V.K.: Books, of course, and maybe even a mini-iPad. Also, water, snacks (heavy on the chocolate), suntan lotion, hand sanitizer (for after petting all the dogs on the beach), tissues, sunglasses, and an extra ball cap.

When Lily Doyle spots her high school crush Aiden Flynn on the inbound ferry, she knows trouble is about to dock in Seashell Bay. And not just because he's more handsome than ever. If Aiden's in town, the rumors must be true about his family's plan to sell their coastal land to the highest bidder. But Lily will do whatever it takes to convince the hottest guy on the beach to protect their idyllic island home.

Gorgeous Lily Doyle was the only thing Aiden missed after he escaped from his hometown to play pro baseball. Now all Aiden wants is to wrap up the business deal and get back to his life, not relive a past that still haunts him. But as memories rush in about the night of passion he and Lily shared long ago, everything else washes right out to sea-everything except the desire that still burns between them.

Amazon: link
B&N: link
iTunes: link
Kobo: link
Goodreads: link

Forever is hosting a special giveaway at this link.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Sunset Beach on Oahu's North Shore

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Aloha to Susanna Ives and WICKED MY LOVE

Today we are pleased to welcome Susanna Ives for a round of Marry, Kiss or Kill!  For this stop, we asked her to choose between Alex O'Loughlin/Steve McGarrett from Hawaii Five O, Johnny Lee Miller/Sherlock Holmes from Elementary, and Allen Leech/Tom Branson from Downton Abbey:

My children commandeer the television. All I’m allowed to watch is Mythbusters. Repeatedly. So I had to call a friend on this one. Here’s what we came up with:

Kiss Steve McGarrett because he has luscious lips. But he won’t be around to marry because he is always off catching the waves or the bad guys. Kissing is the best we can do.

This obnoxious incarnation of Sherlock Holmes would arrive early one morning, well before I’ve stumbled out of bed and consumed the required amount caffeine to keep my homicidal tendencies at bay. For a lark, he would slip something I fear more than anything else in the world under my sheets: a spider. And then, well, I can’t be accountable for the carnage I reap.

I’ll marry Tom Branson because he’s fiery, loyal, and a good daddy. Good daddies are super hot. The Irish accent only adds to the allure.

I met Alex at my son's school ...

Mahalo, Susanna and your friend, for sharing your thoughts on TV's leading men.   Now that Alex is married, I'd like to play Kiss with your new leading man from WICKED, MY LOVE:

A smooth-talking rogue and a dowdy financial genius

Handsome, silver-tongued politician Lord Randall doesn’t get along with his bank partner, the financially brilliant but hopelessly frumpish Isabella St. Vincent. Ever since she was his childhood nemesis, he’s tried—and failed—to get the better of her.

Make a perfectly wicked combination

When both Randall’s political career and their mutual bank interests are threatened by scandal, he has to admit he needs Isabella’s help. They set off on a madcap scheme to set matters right. With her wits and his charm, what could possibly go wrong? Only a volatile mutual attraction that’s catching them completely off guard…


Susanna Ives started writing when she left her job as a multimedia training developer to stay home with her family. Now she keeps busy driving her children to various classes, writing books, and maintaining websites. She often follows her husband on business trips around Europe and blogs about the misadventures of touring with children. She lives in Atlanta.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Susanna offers an excerpt from WICKED, MY LOVE:

She stationed herself by the window and scowled as if to say to the people looking in her window for vacant seats, Don’t get in this carriage. It’s occupied by a dangerous, sleep-deprived, hysterical woman who wants to be left alone. Stay away. Stay away. When the conductor’s whistle blew and the train started to rumble underneath her feet, she released her held breath and rested her head against the back of the seat.

Wham! The carriage door flew open and a brown leather bag went flying past her, hitting the opposite wall. Randall leaped in just as the train lurched forward.“Good morning, love.”

“W-what are you doing?” she cried, the great plan that she’d spent the night weaving suddenly torn to shreds. “You’re supposed to be getting your black heart shackled to some beautiful nincompoop.”

“You didn’t really think I was going to let you go alone?”

“No, of course not,” she stammered, feeling stupid. Why was she so terrible at understanding subtle meanings? She took everyone at their literal word. She should have known better from that slippery snake of a man. After all, he was a politician, and a good one, in a profession not renowned for its honesty and forthrightness.

He sat himself down beside her, his woodsy scent clogging her nose and setting her nerves alight. She switched to the opposite seat. “And don’t sit next to me. I don’t want people to think we’re lovers.”

“We’re lovers?” He shot her a sly glance. “Did you get me foxed out of my poor wits, take advantage of me in my defenseless state, and then not have the courtesy to tell me? Did I enjoy it?”

She refused to dignify that bit of lunacy with a direct answer. “Your mother, Judith, everyone thinks that I l-love you. Oh, my throat hurts for uttering such moronic nonsense.”

He extended his legs, cupped his hands behind his head, and let a charming smile laze on his lips. His blue coat molded to his lean, flat belly and the contour of his sex bulged in his brown trousers. “Naturally they think that,” he said. “What’s not to love?”

She averted her eyes, determined not to look at his male part. However, the generous, manly swell in the fabric was now emblazoned on her brain. “I really don’t have the time to discuss all the things that I don’t love about you. The list is quite long, and I’m a bit upset. I didn’t get any sleep, and now you are here to complicate everything. I just…just want to read.” She unfurled her journal and bowed her head, hoping he would take that as a cue to be quiet.

She gently rocked in her seat, as if it were a comforting cradle, trying to keep her curious eyes from roving back to his lap as she read and reread the first paragraph in an article about interest rates in the banks of Holland. She had almost made it to the second paragraph when she felt his shoulder rub against hers.

“Just relax,” he said, settling next to her. “We’re not lovers. I detest you as much as you detest me.”

“I don’t detest you,” she corrected. “I just don’t like you some—well, most of the time.”

“I certainly despise you, no question about that. Now that we have our mutual dislike for each other clarified, I think we should play a little game.”

She looked at him askew. “The our bank fails, we lose all our money, and our names and reputations are ruined game? I hear that it’s great fun until they cart us off to the poorhouse.”

“No, it’s the let’s-invent-false-identities-so-as-not-to-cast-suspicion game.”

“Oh.” It made sense. She hated when Randall made sense.

Also from Susanna 

Aloha to Sara Humphreys and VAMPIRES NEVER CRY WOLF


Vampires are nothing but trouble…

As far as beautiful vampire Sadie Pemberton is concerned, werewolves shouldn’t be sticking their noses into New York’s supernatural politics. They don’t know jack about running a city—not even that hot-as-sin new vampire-werewolf liaison who’s just arrived in town.

Werewolves are too sexy for their own good…

The last thing Killian Bane wanted was to end up in New York City playing nice with vampires. Unfortunately, he’s on a mission, and when he encounters the sexiest, most stubborn female vamp he’s ever met, he’s going to have to turn on a little of that wolfish charm…and Sadie’s going to learn a thing or two about what it means to have a wild side…

Goodreads link

Amazon: link
Barnes and Noble: link
iBooks: link

Sara Humphreys has been attracted to the fantasies of science fiction, paranormal, and romance since her adolescence when she had a mad crush on Captain Kirk. An actress and public speaker, Sara lives in Bronxville, New York with her husband, who is very considerate of her double life, and four amazing boys.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sara offers an excerpt from VAMPIRES NEVER CRY WOLF ... 

Sadie forced herself to look Killian in the face, and the instant she did, she knew it was a colossal mistake. His eyes looked like pools of liquid gold, and she could swear he saw straight through to her very soul. A growl rumbled in his chest and Sadie gasped. His eyes flickered and shifted into the glowing amber eyes of his wolf. The sudden and instinctive change was a glaring reminder of who he was…who they both were.

In a remarkably steady voice, Sadie whispered, “Last night should never have happened.”

“The only thing about last night that shouldn’t have happened was the way it ended,” Killian rasped.

Sadie stilled when his large hand cradled her cheek. Despite her best efforts to resist him, her body quivered uncontrollably as he surrounded her in every way a person could be surrounded. When the heat of his palm seared against her skin, a needy moan escaped her lips. She sagged against the stack of boxes. Desire curled inside her like smoke, and regardless of the litany of warnings that ran through her head, Sadie’s hands found their way to the front of Killian’s shirt. She grasped the fabric, still warm from the heat of his body, and pulled him closer. The evidence of his desire pressed against her hip, and images of him in all his naked glory came roaring back into her mind. Sweet Jesus, the man had a body that looked like it had been hand carved by the gods themselves.

“Is that so?” Sadie pulled his shirt loose from his jeans and slipped her fingers underneath before trailing them along the hard planes of his stomach. Arching one eyebrow, she held his heavy-lidded gaze and unsheathed her fangs. “How do you suppose it should have ended?”

“The same way it should end every night from now on,” he growled. Killian slid both hands into her long hair. Sadie shivered when his fingertips grazed her scalp. He pressed his hips against her before slipping his thigh between her legs. Sadie gasped with pleasure as he put pressure on just the right spot, and when a moan escaped her parted lips, a cocky grin emerged on his. Killian tightened his grip on her hair and leaned in so his mouth was just a breath away. “Every single night should end with me buried deep inside you.”


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Aloha to Ruth A. Casie and THE DRUID KNIGHT TALES

Ruth A. Casie is one of my favorite people in the Romance Industry ... she is generous to all.  Plus she is the author of THE DRUID KNIGHT TALES -  A Short Story:

She would give her last breath for him. He would give up everything to guard her well and love her more.

Maximilian, the druid Grand Master, was given a year to find his soul mate. On the final day, the sacred mistletoe has shriveled and died—proclaiming his failure. He must do what no other Grand Master has done before and journey to meet with the Ancestors formally relinquish his title.

Ellyn of Brodgar has the gift of healing. But each use of her magick, through a kiss, depletes her energy and brings her closer to death. Time is running out as she searches for a way to continue saving lives—especially her own.

Max and Ellyn are tossed into the Otherworld together—a place filled with magick and wonder, it’s also fraught with danger, traps, and death. They have only until the third sunset to find the Ancestors, or be lost to the world forever. The domineering druid must work with the stubborn healer, not only for survival, but for the promise of the future—a future together.

Pre-Order the eBook


Titles in The Druid Knight Series

Knight of Runes – Available Now!
Knight of Rapture – Coming March 30, 2015
Knight of Redemption – Coming Fall, 2015

Ruth A Casie is a seasoned professional with over twenty-five years of writing experience but not necessarily writing romances. No, she’s been writing communication and marketing documents for a large corporation. Over the past years, encouraged by her friends and family, she gave way to her inner muse, let her creative juices flow, and began writing a series of historical time travel romance novels.

When not writing you can find her home in Teaneck, New Jersey, reading, cooking, doing Sudoku and counted cross stitch. Together with her husband Paul, they enjoy ballroom dancing and, with New York City close by, going to the theater. Ruth and Paul have three grown children and two grandchildren. They all thrive on spending time together. It’s certainly a lively dinner table and they wouldn’t change it for the world.

Ruth is a Trustee and on the Executive Board of Shelter Our Sister (SOS) in New Jersey. SOS is Bergen County’s only shelter for victims of domestic violence. She frequently speaks at various functions around Bergen County on behalf of the Shelter.

For more information visit Ruth A. Casie’s website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Sign up for Ruth A. Casie’s newsletter.

Ruth is hosting a giveaway at this link ...

... and offers an excerpt for THE DRUID KNIGHT TALES:

Penetrating blue-gray eyes stared out from the cocoon of dark wool that enrobed the woman. The cheeks on her porcelain-white face appeared tinged with a splash of pink. Her natural berry-red lips were turned up in a welcoming smile. “Grand Master.” She dipped a well-executed curtsy.

Fendrel’s healer was much different than the old crone he had anticipated. This woman was regal and beautiful. The gleam in her eyes was calm and comforting. He had a strange sensation, which made no sense at all, that he had known her for a long time. At ease with her, he allowed himself to relax and returned her open smile with one of his own.

“This is Ellyn of Brodgar,” said Fendrel. “She has been our healer for the last year. Our situation was grave. It was her healing skills that kept us alive. I would like you to accept her into our clan.”

The knuckles on Ellyn’s hand turned white from grasping her staff firmly. Her head whipped around at Fendrel.

Max observed, fascinated the elder was oblivious to the daggers the woman’s eyes flung at him. So, Fendrel hadn’t told her of his plan and if Max wasn’t mistaken, she wasn’t pleased.

“Thank you, Fendrel,” said Ellyn. “Your request is a great honor. I will be your healer for as long as I am with you.” She turned to Max, her face serene. Her iron grip on the staff relaxed.

Fendrel sputtered.

“You are welcome into Fendrel’s clan for as long as you see fit to stay with us,” said Max. He was certain he saved Fendrel from getting his head bashed with the staff the woman carried. “Brodgar is in the Orkneys. You are far from home.”

“I go where I am needed.” Her voice was soft—her tone evasive.

Max gave her a benign smile. She was tall and graceful. Loose tendrils of curls softened her face. Dark lashes swept down against her cheekbone. She gazed at him with bright, intelligent eyes. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up. He sensed her trying to press in on his mind and blocked her attempt so fast she winced in pain. He’d made his point. She would not try that again.

“If you will excuse me.” She turned to leave. “I would like to look in on Dimia and the baby to make certain they’re settled in for the night,” she said to the new father.

“Of course, Ellyn. I will see you back to camp.” Fendrel approached the two men. “Thank you, Grand Master. Doward. We will see you tomorrow.” He and Ellyn went back down the small rise.

“Interesting girl,” remarked Doward after they were gone. “You didn’t have to be rough on her. She was only curious.”

Doward chuckled.
Max stared after her.

She wasn’t at all what she seemed.

Wednesday's Warrior - A Tribute to Bertice and George Small

Last night Kathryn Falk announced the passing of Bertrice Small on Facebook.  Above is a portrait of Bertrice and her beloved husband, George, first published in the RT Magazine. George passed several years ago and now they are together.


I have shared the story of how I discovered romance ... I was living in the Netherlands and cleaning out the American Spouses' thrift shop.   I was drawn to a historical romance cover ... and the rest is history.  After devouring the romances in the thrift shop and even at the library, I wondered into the Stars and Stripes Bookstore, asking the manager if she carried Romances.  She shared her own favorite author - Bertrice Small.


Three years later, in 2008, I met Bertrice and George Small at the RT Booklovers' Convention in Pittsburgh.  George came to the convention to attend the SOS America Military Tribute. He was so dashing in his original WWII uniform, below, to the left.

Actually, I used George's WWII picture, taken outside Reims, France, as a promotion for the tribute, "Come Meet Mr. Romance 1945".   To this day, I remember Bertrice sighing at this picture, claiming he was the inspiration of her books.

Last year, the Romance Writers of America (RWA) honored Bertrice with the Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award. Although Bertrice could not be in San Antonio to accept the award, she spoke to the audience in a video.   She looked frail then ... but her poor health could not detract from all that she has accomplished in the romance industry.  From her bio (link),

She is the author of 54 novels, with one in production and another almost finished. They will be published in May and October of 2013. 42 of these novels are Historical Romance, 6 are Fantasy Romance, and 6 are Erotic Contemporary. She has also written 4 erotic novellas. Her novels include THE KADIN (pronounced Kah-deen), and the beloved series "The O'Malley Saga" and "Skye's Legacy". A New York Times bestselling author, she has also appeared on other best-seller lists includingPublishers Weekly, USA Today, and the L.A. Times. She is the recipient of numerous awards including Career Achievement for Historical Romance; Best Historical Romance; Outstanding Historical Romance Series; Career Achievement for Historical Fantasy from RT Book Reviews; a Golden Leaf from the New Jersey Romance Writers chapter of Romance Writers of America; an Author of the Year (2006) and Big Apple Award from the New York City Romance Writers chapter of RWA, and several Reviewers Choice awards from RT Book Reviews. She has a "Silver Pen" from Affair De Coeur, and an Honorable Mention from The West Coast Review of Books. In 2004 Bertrice Small was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by RT Book Reviews magazine for her contributions to the Historical Romance genre. And in 2008 she was named by RT Book Reviews along with her friends Jennifer Blake, Roberta Gellis and Janelle Taylor, a Pioneer of Romance.

No doubt that Romanceland will post tributes to Bertrice as a trailblazer in this genre.  But I will always remember her as the blushing bride of a proud veteran.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Bertrice and Fabio from her website

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Aloah to Katharine Ashe and I LOVED A ROGUE - Book Review


In the third in Katharine Ashe's Prince Catchers series, the eldest of three very different sisters must fulfill a prophecy to discover their birthright. But if Eleanor is destined to marry a prince, why can't she resist the scoundrel who seduced her?

She can pour tea, manage a household, and sew a modest gown. In short, Eleanor Caulfield is the perfect vicar's daughter. Yet there was a time when she'd risked everything for a black-eyed gypsy who left her brokenhearted. Now he stands before her—dark, virile, and ready to escort her on a journey to find the truth about her heritage.

Leaving eleven years ago should have given Taliesin freedom. Instead he's returned to Eleanor, determined to have her all to himself, tempting her with kisses and promising her a passion she's so long denied herself. But if he was infatuated before, he's utterly unprepared for what will happen when Eleanor decides to abandon convention—and truly live.

Cornish cost near Tintagel Castle
English Heritage (link)

All, everything that I understand, I only understand because I love. — Leo Tolstoy

I LOVED A ROGUE is the last book in the series but the first book I have read. Perhaps this gave me the opportunity to focus on Eleanor and Taliesin who are probably the "quieter" of the characters in the series. Previous characters (Eleanor's family) make a guest appearance at the start and end of the story, but I LOVED A ROGUE is all about Eleanor and Taliesin.  Eleanor and her sisters were adopted by their father, a parish vicar, when they washed ashore from a shipwreck off Cornwall.  Taliesin was part of a gypsy family who annually migrated to St. Petroc to sell their wares.  Eleanor and Taliesin became friends as children.  Their friendship was tested as they both grew into teens, forcing Taliesin abandon St. Petroc ... and Eleanor.  

Eleven years later, Taliesin attends the vicar's wedding to a local widow.  His reappearance disrupts Eleanor's plans to make her own way as she believes she must leave her home for her father's new wife.  Taliesin reignites feelings within Eleanor but she holds onto her resentment that he abandoned her.  As Eleanor struggles with these feelings, her sister Arabella tasks Eleanor to continue the search for more information about the shipwreck.  Arabella then asks Taliesin serve as Eleanor's guide since he is familiar with the Cornish coast.  Thus begins a wild adventure for the fated lovers with a pinch of Jane Austen and a dash of Daphne Du Maurier.  

At first, Ashe employs internal dialogue to create the emotional conflict between Eleanor and Taliesin.   Once they depart St. Petroc, their external dialogue further drives them apart as they cannot see that they compliment each other. Their search is akin to National Treasure - a clue leads to another clue that leads to another clue.   This romance laced with mystery kept my attention to read straight through the story.   The added bonus is the history Ashe shares about Cornwall and its connection to the Caribbean.   Recommended read for Regency fans seeking something outside the London Ballroom.

I received a print copy from Harper Collins for an honest review.

St Petroc's Church, Bodmin
Cornwall Guide (link)

I am giving away a print copy of I LOVED A ROGUE to one randomly selected commenter.  To enter the giveaway,

1.  Leave a comment about the Caribbean - have you visited any of the islands?  I have not despite growing up in Florida.   I would like to visit Puerto Rico for its colonial history.

2.  Comments are open through Saturday, February 28, 10 pm in Baltimore.

3.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, March 1.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Learn more about Katharine and her books at

Speaking of the Caribbean, check out my weekly column, State of Romance, for USA Today's HEA Blog - today we visit the US Virgin Islands and other Caribbean islands at this link.

17331373I Adored a Lord (The Prince Catchers, #2)

Monday, February 23, 2015


Time and distance have changed them both…

Quiet and obliging, Mary Fleming and John Bexley marry to please their families and John immediately leaves on a two-year diplomatic mission. Now John is back, and everything they thought they knew about each other was wrong…

It’s disconcerting, irritating—and somehow all very exciting…


Today we are pleased to have a cozy chat with John and Mary Bexley, the protagonists from Jane Ashford’s Married to a Perfect Stranger (March 2015). From February 23rd through March 20th the Bexleys will be answering questions about their relationship at each stop in their tour!

Complete this sentence: I knew I had found the love of my life when she/he ______.

Mary: Wanted to punch Fordyce for being rude to me. But didn’t do so.

John: Ignored the spilled peas and shattered tarts and re-introduced herself to me.

Mary: You did not know so soon!

John: Oh, I think I did.

Jane Ashford discovered Georgette Heyer in junior high school and was captivated by the glittering world and witty language of Regency England. Her romances have been published all over the world. Jane has been nominated for a Career Achievement Award by RT Book Reviews. She lives in Los Angeles, California.

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Jane offers an excerpt from MARRIED TO A PERFECT STRANGER

John Bexley reined in his hired horse on a slight rise and gazed down at the red brick manor, somnolent under the August sun. Eager as he was to get to London, he’d felt he must detour west into Somerset to fetch Mary. Her family’s decision to put her under the care of a great-aunt while he was away just showed he was right to fear that such a shy, quiet girl couldn’t arrange a journey on her own. And now that he was here, the sight of this place soothed him; it looked the very essence of English country comfort and peace.

John’s knock was answered by an aged butler. He gave his name, stepped in, and inhaled the familiar scents of beeswax polish and potpourri. The place reminded him of his own home farther north. Golden light pooled on the wooden floor and gleamed on the stair rail. In the rooms on either side of the entry, the furnishings were classic and inviting. Mary had certainly had a beautiful and serene spot in which to wait for him. “Mary’s husband,” he added when it seemed as if the old man didn’t know what to do with him. “I believe I am expected.”

“Yes, si…”

A filthy, hysterical chicken shot through the rear door of the dining parlor on his left, skidded in a turn around the table, and raced past him, neck extended, screeching, flapping its mottled wings. A little boy slathered with mud came racing after it, careened off the doorjamb, and staggered across the entryway, leaving streaks and globs of dirt in his wake. The old butler stiffened in horror.

The bird hopped across a flowered sofa in the front parlor, stitching it with muddy tracks, circled the delicate carpet, and looped back toward John. The boy in pursuit slipped, fell, jumped up, and turned to follow. He flapped muddy hands at the fowl in an inept attempt to trap it.

What seemed like a herd of adults jostled into the dining parlor, then surged forward. “Arthur!” snapped a young woman, her voice crackling with authority.

“It isn’t my fault,” the boy shouted over the wild squawking. “I pulled her from the mire. Fox was after her. I never shot her or nothing.”

As the crazed chicken surged past him, John bent, reached, and snatched hold of its legs. When he straightened, he held the muddy bird upside down, at arm’s length, well away from his clothing. It flapped and protested; flakes of dirt dropped to the floor.

“Good!” said the managing female, striding from the dining room into the hall. “Take it from him, Alice, and put it outside at once.”

The middle-aged maid jumped to obey like a subaltern responding to a commanding general. The butler relaxed. The boy stood to attention. “It wasn’t me, I swear,” he repeated. “I rescued ’er. I killed three rats as well. Would have been four, but I…”

“Very well, Arthur,” the woman replied. “Go now and get cleaned up.”

The boy finally noticed the mud sliding from his clothes to the polished floor. His face shifted from defensive to horrified, and he slunk out. In the same moment, John realized that the woman with a voice like a sergeant major was his meek little sparrow of a wife.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Aloha to Samantha Grace and RETURN TO YOU


She will never forget their past...

He can't stop thinking about their future...

James Montgomery has achieved everything he'd hoped for in life...except marrying the girl of his dreams. After a terrible accident, Selena Ainsley left ten years ago. She took his heart with her and she's never coming back. But it's becoming harder and harder for him to forget their precious time together, and James can't help but wonder what he would do if they could ever meet again.

Amazon: link
Barnes and Noble: link
Kobo: link
IndieBound: link

New York Times and USA Today Bestseller/contemporary romance writer Samantha Chase released her debut novel, Jordan's Return, in November 2011. Although she waited until she was in her 40's to publish for the first time, writing has been a lifelong passion. Her motivation to take that step was her students: teaching creative writing to elementary age students all the way up through high school and encouraging those students to follow their writing dreams gave Samantha the confidence to take that step as well.

When she's not working on a new story, she spends her time reading contemporary romances, playing way too many games of Scrabble or Solitaire on Facebook and spending time with her husband of 25 years and their two sons in North Carolina.

Website: link
Facebook: link
Twitter: link
Goodreads: link

Samantha is hosting a giveaway at this link ...

... and an excerpt from RETURN TO YOU:

It was near midnight and Selena’s eyes felt heavy. With her head resting on James’s shoulder, she tried to focus on the ending of The Philadelphia Story. Back when they were dating, they used to enjoy watching classic movies, and finding one on the television seemed like the perfect way for them to relax after such an emotional evening.

James looked over at Selena and smiled to himself. If he could freeze this moment in time, he would. For years he had wondered if he’d ever find a woman he could come home to, with whom he could sit like this and simply relax. The woman half-asleep beside him was the only woman he wanted to fit that bill. The credits were beginning to roll, and he gently nudged her with his shoulder. “Hey,” he said softly, “are you still awake?”

“Mmm…barely,” she whispered and then yawned. As much as Selena knew that the bed would be a far more comfortable place to sleep, she didn’t want to leave the security of James’s side. She jumped when he shifted beside her to stand up. A wave of panic hit her as she prayed that he wasn’t getting up to leave. Before she could even voice her concern, James turned off the television and then scooped her up into his arms. “Oh!”

“Don’t get me wrong. I was completely enjoying being curled up with you on the sofa, but I had a feeling your neck was going to kill you tomorrow.” He walked through to the bedroom and carefully held her close as he pulled back the comforter and gently placed Selena down. Without a word, he walked back out to the living room and locked the door and turned out the lights before returning to her.

He didn’t ask permission.

She didn’t extend an invitation.

Neither seemed necessary.

Aloha to the Library of Congress - What is Love? Romance in the Digital Age (part 2)

Library of Congress in 1898
Public Domain (link)

Continuing my recap of the romance conference at the Library of Conference, Panel 2 featured What to the Science and History of Love Reveal?   But I skipped it to view the documentary Love Between the Covers (link)

Romance fiction is a female-powered engine of commerce, a multi-billion dollar business, and a tech-savvy global sisterhood. Women who write and think about relationships turn out to be amazing community builders. In Love Between the Covers, we enter one of the few places where women are always center stage, where female characters always win, where justice prevails in every book, and where the broad spectrum of desires of women from all backgrounds are not feared, but explored unapologetically.

For three years, we follow the lives of five published romance authors and one unpublished newbie as they build their businesses, find and lose loved ones, cope with a tsunami of change in publishing, and earn a living doing what they love—while empowering others to do the same.

Authors include Eloisa James, Len Barot, Beverly Jenkins, Joanne Lockyer, and writing team Susan Donovan and Celeste Bradley.  The documentary also interviewed other writers, academics, and fans ... here are my notes from the interviews:

Romance books offer readers a fantasy; Arnold is never killed at the end of his movies yet romance books are criticized for their HEA.

Romance is not solitary.

Love conquered all; hero and heroine made the journey together.

Jane Austen dominated early romance, challenging the norm of the time that gentry did not marry for love.

Romance demonstrates "nothing that happens between us can be wrong". 

What is your cup of tea?  Some one (in romance) is serving what you like.

The documentary also filmed during the RWA National Conference in Anaheim in 2012 - I recognized the hotel.  The film captured several "aspiring" authors describing their pitches.  One such author was a perky blond and an impeccable dresser.   She has since published three historical novels in her series, Trick of the Ton, with Sourcebooks.  The author is Elizabeth Michels!

The documentary is worth a look at this link.

If you were filmed for this documentary, how you would answer why you read romance?  One randomly selected commenter wins a book choice from my convention stash. Comments are open through Saturday, February 28, 10 pm in Baltimore.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, March 1.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City 

Check out Sarah Wendell's storified tweets from the conference at this link.

Books from the RWA Conference in 2012

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Weekly Winners

How about beach scenes from Hawaii to warm us?  We have winners at SOS Aloha ... 


BE MY TEXAS VALENTINE with Jodi Thomas, Linda Broday, Phyliss Miranda, and DeWanna Pace
- Janice H. wins a print copy from me.


Sarah Title's SNOWED IN
- Patoct wins a digital copy from Sarah.

WHILE TIME STANDS STILL - Military Family Documentary
- Library Pat wins a book choice from my convention stash.

- BN100 wins a print copy from me.

Tessa McFionn's SPIRIT FALL
- Sara wins a digital copy from me.

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


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Friday, February 20, 2015

Aloha to the Library of Congress - What Is Love? Romance in the Digital Age (Part 1)

File:LoC Barse Romance.jpg
Barse's Romance in the Library of Congress
Public Domain (link)

On Wednesday, February 11, I rode the Metro into Washington, DC for a special one day conference at the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress - What is Love?  Romance in the Digital Age (link):

"This two-day gathering will unite authors, scholars and fans to explore the changing dynamics of the genre, its relevance in popular culture and how digital technology is shaping the future of romance fiction," said John Y. Cole, director of the Center for the Book.

"Our conference will include business and social interests and influences, romance literature scholarship and public engagement with people who love the genre," he said.

The conference kicked off with Panel 1 - What Belongs in the Romance Canon:

Pam Regis, Professor of Englis, McDonald College and President, International Assocation for the Study of Popular Romance

Len Barot/Radclyffe, President/Author, Bold Strokes books

Beverly Jenkins, Author, Avon Books

Nicole Peeler, Associatoin Professor of English, Seton Hall University

Eric Selinger, Professor of English, DePaul University

Susan Ostrov Weisser, Professor of English, Adelphi University

I borrowed a pen from the lovely lady next to me - a fan of Beverly Jenkins - so I could take notes.  I uncapped the pen just in time to hear Beverlydiscuss that African American romance has been absent from romance canon.  She added that it took Terry McMillan's WAITING TO EXHALE to hit the best seller for the publishing industry to realize black women actually read books (Beverly was very funny in her delivery).


The panel referred to E.D.E.N. Southworth's THE HIDDEN HAND as one of the first books written by a woman for women. From Goodreads (link),

E.D.E.N. Southworth was one of the most popular and prolific writers of the nineteenth century and her Capitola Black, or Black Cap - a cross-dressing, adventure-seeking girl-woman - was so well-loved that the book was serialized three times between 1859 and 1888 and was dramatized in forty different versions. When we first meet sharp and witty Capitola she is living among beggars and street urchins, and dressed as a boy because a boy can get work and be safe, whereas a girl is left to starve for want of "proper" employment. Unknown to her, Capitola has a very rich elderly guardian who finds her at a providential moment and takes her back to his palatial mansion where she finds herself "decomposing above ground for want of having my blood stirred." But not to fear. There are bandits, true-loves, evil men, long-lost mothers, and sweet women friends in Capitola's future - not to mention thunder storms, kidnap attempts, and duels. The pace is fast, the action wonderfully unbelievable. This is escape literature at its nineteenth-century best, with a woman at its center who makes you feel strong, daring, and reckless.


The panel agreed that canon is not like the Highlander - there cannot only be one.  

Sarah Wendell from Smart Bitches tweeted her musings from the conference and storied them at this link.   She took better notes via her tweets than my chicken scratch on the program.

Let's chat about canon.  From,

a fundamental principle or general rule

a standard; criterion

any officially recognized set of sacred books

Many "academics" refer to Loretta Chase's LORD OF SCOUNDRELS and Jennifer Crusie's BET ME as must haves in romance canon.  What would be in your canon?   Mine would include the first romance book I read ... Cathy Maxwell's THE MARRIAGE CONTRACT.  It has a Highlander!

One randomly selected commenter wins a book choice from my convention stash.  Comments are open through Saturday, February 28, 10 pm in Baltimore.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, March 1.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City