Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Christmas in America: Historical Romance Anthology by Holly Bush, Piper Huguley, Joanna Shupe and Donna Thorland

Christmas in America

Release: September 27th, 2016
Romance Subgenre: Historical Romance

The celebration of Christmas is a magical time for love. A new anthology filled with America's rich history and Christmas traditions from four of your favorite historical romance authors.

“Christmas at Mount Holly” by Donna Thorland

The Jerseys, December 23rd, 1776 - The American Revolution is on the brink of total collapse. The Rebels have lost New York, the Continental Army has endured a disastrous retreat through New Jersey, and Washington is about to lose what remains when enlistments expire on New Year’s Eve. The cause needs a miracle, but Christmas is a time for wonders: as Angela Ferrers—the woman known to history as the Widow of Mount Holly—will discover when she sets a honey trap for Hessian Colonel Count Carl Emil Urich von Donop, only to find herself ensnared in mutual attraction.

“Miracle on Ladies’ Mile” by Joanna Shupe

New York, 1895 - After losing his beloved wife, department store owner Alexander Armstrong seems incapable of anything other than work, despite his ache to be a better father to his daughter. When the pair encounters Grace, a charming shop girl designing the store’s Christmas window displays, he struggles to accept that perhaps miracles do happen in the most unlikely of places…

“The Cowboy’s Christmas” by Piper Huguley

Smithson, Oklahoma Territory, 1893 - Postponing her missionary trip to Africa, apprentice teacher Serena Newcomb must travel west to face the unrequited love of her past -- rebel cowboy Baxter Smithson. Banished from his Georgia home for the crime of falling in love with the wrong woman, Baxter is surprised that his Christmas gift is a grown-up Serena, ready to confront him for ignoring his duty and to show him that the true meaning of Christmas is love.

“Into the Evermore” by Holly Bush

Virginia, 1842 - Eleanor McManus, upright daughter of a minister, is rescued from kidnappers somewhere in the deep forest wilderness by a rough and tumble fur trader, Beauregard Gentry. With his help, Eleanor makes her way back to her intended groom who declares her soiled, and she finds herself alone, pressured to make life decisions without benefit of family or others she can trust. Beauregard and Eleanor agree to begin a life together, build their legacy together, and their growing devotion to each other is witnessed one cold, crisp Christmas morning.

Theme Songs
After reading "Christmas in America: Historical Romance Anthology" I couldn't resist picking one song for each novella. I began by choosing historically accurate pieces for each story but I just couldn't get the thought of focusing on our character's motivations and feelings instead. I quickly found a song perfect for Huguley's "The Cowboy's Christmas" and almost everything else fell into place. I couldn't give up my classical piece for Thorland's "Christmas at Mount Holly" though. Admittedly, this playlist is a bit unusual since it's a mix of different styles and genres in relation to historical romance. It is seriously good listening though!

“Into the Evermore” by Holly Bush
More heroes like Beauregard Gentry please! Seriously, what’s not to love about Beau? He was strong, and brave and he fought for Eleanor’s love and honor. And Eleanor, geez girlfriend, you got yourself in a pickle. Good thing Beau is here to save you...actually they kinda saved each other and that made this little Christmas novella all the better.

“I Do" by Holley Maher
Let's chase all our big dreams
Through open fields and over seas
Where you are is where I wanna be
Forever isn't too long

“The Cowboy’s Christmas” by Piper Huguley
I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I was lost for a good part of this novella. Ella what? Milford where? For some reasons the pieces just weren’t coming together for me. That doesn’t mean I didn’t like the novella, it just took me a long time to catch up. In the end I kept reflecting upon "The Cowboy’s Christmas" over and over again. I’m finding new morsels to nibble on and savor still. The gist of my noodling? Serena was just so darn good and sweet that it hurt my heart that Baxter didn’t see her as his own personal angel for most of the story. Their HEA was especially sweet since it brought Serena joy and it, thankfully, got Baxter’s own head out of his a**.

The song I chose for "The Cowboy's Christmas" is based solely on Serena's feelings for Baxter. The lyrics just fit so well that I had to go with this contemporary tune instead of something historically accurate. I decided that all the other theme songs should have a contemporary vibe to match after nailing down this initial song.

“Waiting for you" by Isobel Anderson
But you can't help who you love
And boy it's always been you
So now I'm here all alone waiting for you

“Miracle on Ladies’ Mile” by Joanna Shupe
Shupe’s The Knickerbocker Club books are some of my favorite historicals of 2016. I love the Gilded Age setting and the characters, but most of all I love Shupe’s intense, almost lyrical, writing style. Until Shupe's next The Knickerbocker Club release, "Baron", "Miracle on Ladies’ Mile" held me over. It was the perfect little Christmas novella. If you read this book and don’t fall head over heels in love with Grace, Alex and Sarah I would be supremely shocked. Alex was a particularly interesting character due to his previous loss, his deception and his unavoidable, all-out attraction to Grace.

For Alex and Grace I decided to pick a song in which the lyrics matched Alex’s feelings. My heart hurt for Alex when he described his feelings for his wife, Mary, and yet it was so easy to see that Grace could complete him in a new and different way.

“Waiting for you" by Isobel Anderson
Like a river flows
Surely to the sea
Darling, so it goes
Some things are meant to be
Take my hand,
Take my whole life, too
For I can't help falling in love with you
For I can't help falling in love with you

“Christmas at Mount Holly” by Donna Thorland
Donna Thorland’s Revolutionary War novella had me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end. Donop and Angela just didn’t seem like good bet for most of this novella, but never fear romance fans, "Christmas at Mount Holly" does have a HEA. Our heroine, Angela, was so unexpected that I found it hard not to root for her both in love and in her mission. I haven’t read a lot of Revolutionary War romance but I think I’ll add Thorland’s Renegades of the Revolution series to my TBR list for the future.

The song I chose for “Christmas at Mount Holly” is a bit different from the other songs on this playlist since Thorland gave me such great inspiration. In the novella it’s mentioned that Angela plays the harpsichord and in once scene she even plays one of Donop’s favorite tunes, Handels’ Sarabande. I mean, how could I pass up the chance to have Handel on the playlist? I chose a souped-up rendition of the classic for this playlist, but there are so many great versions out there.

“Sarabande" by George Frideric Handel and Escala

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Author Guest Post: A Kiss at Christmastide by Christina McKnight

A Kiss at Christmastide by Christina McKnight
Release: September 27th, 2016
Romance Subgenre: Historical Romance, Holiday

Lady Pippa Godfrey has suffered the most ruinous London Season. She escapes to her Somerset estate for a quiet Christmastide holiday with her family, away from society’s prying eyes. But before her parents can join her, a storm crashes down on Somerset to destroy any hope of Pippa’s white Christmas dream. The roads have flooded and travel is impossible, leaving her stranded and alone. But a muddied, angry and devilishly handsome lord appears at her door demanding shelter.

Lucas Hartfeld, the Earl of Maddox, has been summoned by his parents, the Marquis and Marchioness of Bowmont, to attend a holiday party in the wilds of the country, far from his London townhouse. He suspects they command his attendance for far different reasons than a simple country party. When a storm strands his carriage, he’s forced to seek shelter at the only home for miles around, a local manor called Helton House.

When Lady Pippa is reluctant to admit him, he does what he’s been raised to do—demand she provide him and his servants with shelter until the storm passes. But the beautiful woman draws his interest far more than he’s willing to admit. Can Lucas find a way out of the predicament his parents are planning?

As Lady Pippa scrutinizes another arrogant, demanding lord, she is bombarded with memories of betrayals in her past. Can she forget those difficult life lessons to claim a Christmastide kiss from a perfect stranger?

Author Guest Post
I'm excited to have author Christina McKnight on the blog today to discuss her Regency Christmas novella, A Kiss At Christmastide. Thanks for sharing, Christina!

I love the thought of putting together a list of songs to accompany my book. When I sat down to write A Kiss At Christmastide it was the beginning of August—and it was 110 degrees here in California. I was listening to the kids in the backyard swimming and throwing water balloons at each other. Certainly not the ideal mood and setting for writing a Christmas story.

When in doubt, I always call my mom. Her advice always helps solve my problems. What was her advice? Watch WHITE CHRISTMAS with Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney. My mom will watch this movie in February, July, September, and December. Well, I didn’t have the movie nor any idea if I could buy it in August. She had three copies, one being a VHS if I wanted to drive to her house and borrow it. I needed inspiration and I needed it right then and there—so I turned to and the White Christmas soundtrack released by Delta Music in 1992 that featured all of Bing Crosby’s songs.

The first song to play was I’ll Be Home For Christmas. Now this song hit home. I knew I wanted a story set in the English countryside, far from London and society. And so I had the beginnings of a story starting. Lady Pippa is awaiting her family at their country manor in Somerset, unfortunately a storm rages outside, delaying their arrival to spend the holiday with her. Next song I played was, Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow. Yes, Lady Pippa wanted her Christmastide season to be like all the rest, her family lands covered in a beautiful blanket of snow, however, the storm only brought torrential rains, making the local road impassable. When a knock sounds at her door, Pippa is filled with joy knowing her parents have arrived. They must have braved the unsafe conditions to be with her.

When Pippa throws her front door wide to allow her parent’s entrance from the storm, she comes face to face with a drenched and angry, yet devilishly handsome, man. As a proper woman with the manners befitting her status, she offers Lucas, the Earl of Maddox, and his servants shelter until the storm passes and they can repair their carriage, damaged by the storm. Pippa continues her duties, preparing for her family’s traditional holiday feast by decorating the halls and making the sweet treats her local villages love. Deck The Halls fits this scene perfectly as Lucas steps in to help Pippa decorate her family home—and their affection for one another blossoms!

Finally the storm passes and the temperatures drop as snow begins to fall, blanketing her estate with a white snowflakes. White Christmas captures Pippa’s emotions as she awaits her parents’ arrival but also knows she must say good bye to Lucas as he travels on to the Holiday party he is expected to attend.

You’ll have to read A Kiss At Christmastide to find out the song that inspired the final scene from the book, but I’ll give you a hint…Bells!

I hope you enjoy listening to the White Christmas soundtrack as much as you love A Kiss At Christmastide.

About Christina McKnight

Christina McKnight is a book lover turned writer. From a young age, her mother encouraged her to tell her own stories. She’s been writing ever since.

Christina enjoys a quiet life in Northern California with her family, her wine, and lots of coffee. Oh, and her books…don’t forget her books! Most days she can be found writing, reading, or traveling the great state of California.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

A Better Man (Sunshine Creek Vineyard #1) by Candis Terry

A Better Man by Candis Terry

Release: March 29th, 2016
Romance Subgenre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Sunshine Creek Vineyard #1

Meet the Kincade brothers: they’ll do what it takes to protect their legacy—but what happens when love gets in the way?

Hockey star Jordan Kincade wasted no time ditching Sunshine Valley and everyone who mattered for a career in the NHL—a truth Jordan confronts when his parents’ deaths bring him home. Now he’s back to make amends, which begins with keeping his younger sister from flunking out of school. It’s just his luck that the one person who can help is the girl whose heart he broke years ago.

Lucy Diamond has racked up a number of monumental mistakes in her life, the first involving a certain blue-eyed charmer. She has no intention of falling for Jordan Kincade again, but when he shows up asking her to help one of her students, Lucy just can’t say no. Worse, the longer he’s back, the more she sees how much he’s changed. And so when a blistering kiss turns to more, she can’t help but wonder if her heart will be crushed again . . . or if she’ll discover true love with a better man

Curated Soundtrack
Awhile back I heard a delightful interview Sarah Wendell did with author Candis Terry on the Smart Podcast, Trashy Books podcast (you can find the link to that interview here). Well, after listening to Terry talk about her books I just knew I had to read the first book in her new Sunshine Creek Vineyard series, A Better Man. However, life got in the way and this book kinda fell off my radar. Luckily for me I was searching my library's website for a new ebook to read and I restumbled upon A Better Man. I jumped on the waiting list right away and waited my turn patiently (aka not-so-patiently). The waiting list was like 10 people long; I waited awhile for this one!

After finishing this book I won't forget Candis Terry and the Sunshine Creek Vineyard series again! It's SO SO SO good. Jordan is a hockey player who returns to his hometown after his parents die tragically. He has not only has lost touch with his brothers but he also barely knows his younger, teenage, sister. Lucy is a high school teacher with past she'd rather forget entirely. Lucy loves her life now but she's not sure she'll ever be able to forget the past enough to move on with a new relationship. When Jordan reappears in her life after quite a few years have gone by she's sure he won't remember her or how he broke her heart years. But Lucy's wrong, Jordan not only remembers her but he sets out to win her heart once and for all. Ahhhhh! Doesn't that sound like some much romancelandia catnip? Did I mention Jordan's family also owns a vineyard!?!

One of my favorite scenes of A Better Man is when Jordan goes to sign up for a local gym membership and he finds his sweet, studious teacher kicking some serious boxing a**. I just love the idea of Lucy taking no prisoners, doing something good for herself and focusing on her own personal power. Also, she has pink boxing gloves! How awesome is that? So for the A Better Man playlist I pulled together the two songs Terry mentioned in A Better Man for Lucy's workout along with some of my own personal favorite workout songs.

What did you think of A Better Man?
Are there any songs that remind you of Jordan, Lucy and their HEA?

About Candis Terry

Growing up in Southern California, I was too busy reading books, hanging out at the beach, or finding ways to have a good time that wouldn’t land me on restriction to even consider writing a book. Oddly enough, a college drama teacher (who politely discouraged my inept acting abilities) encouraged me to develop the A+ character bio I’d created into a complete story. Right. Years later, in the midst of a bleary-eyed all-nighter (rocking my newborn, that is), I picked up a romance novel and fell in love with more than just the infant in my arms.

The diversities in my life have enhanced (or twisted) my worldview. From working in a Hollywood recording studio to a graphic designer in marketing; from schmoozing with the likes of Charleton Heston and Motley Crüe to giving up my beach bum ways and making the move to an Idaho farm. I’ve designed costumes for 80’s heavy metal videos and scooped up road apples left on the parade route by my daughter’s rodeo queening horse.

Only one thing has remained constant: my passion for writing stories about relationships, the push and pull in the search for love, and the security one finds in their own happily ever after. Though my stories are set in small towns, my wish is to give each of my characters a great big memorable love story rich with quirky characters, tons of fun, and a happy ending.

I’m married to a wonderful man who takes out the trash without being asked and who puts up with all my crazy ideas. To find inspiration, my family and I often grab our trailer and ATV and venture out to discover the off-road splendor of the Idaho wilderness. And when I need a fun dose of reality, I call upon my daughter and her little Mini-Me or one of our 3 furry troublemakers.

Life is good down on the farm!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Author Guest Post: The Southern Gentleman by Sweden Reese

The Southern Gentleman by Sweden Reese
Release: September 13, 2016
Romance Subgenre: Erotic Romance, Romantic Suspense
Book One: Protective Instinct
Book Two: True Consequences

Erotic romantic suspense series for mature audiences.

This is Book 2 in a steamy, suspenseful 2-book story. Book 1 ends in a scandalous cliffhanger, Book 2 delivers the HEA.


Sex. Politics. Scandal.

When a shadowy group intent on stealing the U.S. presidential election targets a leading candidate’s daughter, jaded professional fixer Nolan Jackson is hired to safely escort her across the country to a star-studded Election Eve event. There's only one problem: She’s ditched the campaign and disappeared… A southern gentleman who likes fast cars, deadly weapons and total control, Nolan is used to winning at all costs. Except in love. Yet, he’ll soon find himself irresistibly drawn to the candidate’s beautiful, naïve daughter.

Sheltered heiress Lola Randall has always played it safe. Now she’s gone rogue. After escaping the media spotlight and her overbearing parents, the last thing she needs in her life is an alpha male.But when Nolan shows her how good it can feel to relinquish control, she begins to secretly crave his domination. Now, she must choose between her independence and falling in love. Because Nolan is determined to win her heart and nail the bad guys before the opposition finds a way to steal the White House.
Buy Protective Instinct On Amazon


Putting the “o” in politics.

Smooth-talking Washington insider Nolan Jackson is becoming consumed with possessing Lola Randall, America’s favorite political daughter. Escorting her across the United States gives Dominant Nolan the perfect opportunity to seduce the beautiful heiress into becoming his girlfriend…and his submissive.

Newly independent Lola doesn’t need an alpha male taking over her life. But she is secretly intrigued by Nolan’s domination. Now she must choose between the future she imagined for herself, and the one Nolan is offering. Except that time is running out…

With hired guns at their backs and a shadowy group of billionaires targeting Lola, even jaded Nolan never believed politics could get this dirty. He needs a plan to take down the bad guys and conquer Lola’s heart before criminals find a way to steal the White House. Good thing Nolan always has a plan…

Author Guest Post

I'm excited to have author Sweden Reese on the blog today to discuss her The Southern Gentlemen series. Thanks for sharing, Sweden!

Sexy American Road Trip Playlist
By Sweden Reese

There’s nothing more sensual than blasting tunes with the car windows down, wind in your hair, and a roaring engine between you and the open road…

Nolan Jackson would agree. He’s the smooth-talking charmer who holds the title role in my debut novels, The Southern Gentleman Books 1 & 2. Nolan is a dirty-talking Dominant who likes fast cars, deadly weapons and total control.

He had been a driving enthusiast since the age of fourteen, and lately had found any excuse to hit the open road…Driving was his zen time, his mindless time, when he could forget that this country—his country—had betrayed him, and instead appreciate its sheer, raw beauty…

Hail to the King, Avenged Sevenfold

Nolan is a jaded Washington fixer who gets hired to track down the daughter of a U.S. presidential candidate after she ditches the campaign and disappears. What begins as a routine job turns into the drive of Nolan’s life.

How You Like Me Now, The Heavy

He escorts Lola Randall, America’s favorite political daughter, across the U.S., dodging sleazy paparazzi and thugs hired by the opposing campaign, all while trying to resist his uncontrollable attraction to the off-limits heiress.

Butterfly, Crazy Town

Newly independent Lola needs nothing less than an alpha male trying to take over her life…but she finds herself intrigued and aroused by Nolan’s commanding ways.

“I want something from you, Lola Randall,” he said. “Total honesty. Can you give me that?”

It seemed like a big question, and she wasn’t prepared to answer in her semi-dazed state. “I can try,” she stammered, glancing over her shoulder and catching the predatory look in his eyes.

She counted ten heartbeats, waiting for him to speak.

His voice came low and hoarse. “What would it take to make you give up control?”

In Your Eyes, Kylie Minogue

He’s brilliant, bossy and likes to be in charge. She’s smart, headstrong and wants her independence. It’s only a matter of time before the chemistry between these two combusts. They’re drawn to each other, but can two opposites make a relationship work?

One Heart, Leftover Cuties

Nolan and Lola’s road trip across America takes them places neither of them ever imagined, from a hipster party in San Francisco to a swank Los Angeles art gallery, from a smoky pool hall in rural Mississippi to the stage at a celebrity studded benefit concert before 80,000 cheering fans. But most important is the inner journey, the things they learn about themselves as they fall irretrievably in love.

Fancy Things, The Weepies

We romance book addicts know the course of true love never runs smoothly. With hired guns at their backs and an Election Eve deadline looming, can Nolan keep Lola safe, conquer her heart and nail the bad guys before the opposition finds a way to steal the White House?

There were serious bad guys to catch, with enough money and power to do very bad things. Nolan would see them beg and plead for mercy before he was done with them. No one fucked with his girl and got away with it.

No Diggity, Blackstreet

FULL DISCLOSURE: My husband, the smooth-talking alpha charmer Mr. Reese, created this playlist. His taste is very eclectic…I hope you’ve enjoyed!

Are you fabulous? Come hang out with me at And if you like a dominant alpha male with loads of charm, twitchy palms, and a closet full of sex toys, go read The Southern Gentleman Book 1.

About Sweden Reese

SWEDEN REESE writes sexy books for smart readers from her home in Washington, DC. Before becoming a novelist, she was a public relations executive, an experience that inspires the stories she writes. She lives in the US capital with her mad genius/reformed bad boy/foreign born husband and their thinker/dreamer/adventurer/sweet toddler girl. Reese’s debut novels, The Southern Gentleman Books 1 & 2, kick off the Dominant Heroes Collection, a sexy, glam new romantic suspense series.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

My Fair Princess (The Improper Princesses #1) by Vanessa Kelly

My Fair Princess by Vanessa Kelly

Release: August 30th, 2016
Romance Subgenre: Historical Romance
Series: The Improper Princesses #1

First, Vanessa Kelly brought readers The Renegade Royals. Now, in a delightfully witty new series, she introduces The Improper Princesses—three young women descended from royalty, each bound for her own thrilling adventure . . .

Despite being the illegitimate daughter of a prince, Gillian Dryden is happily ignorant of all social graces. After growing up wild in Italy, Gillian has been ordered home to England to find a suitable husband. And Charles Valentine Penley, the excessively proper, distractingly handsome Duke of Leverton, has agreed to help transform her from a willful tomboy to a blushing debutante.

Powerful and sophisticated, Charles can make or break reputations with a well-placed word. But his new protégée, with her habit of hunting bandits and punching earls, is a walking scandal. The ton is aghast . . . but Charles is thoroughly intrigued. Tasked with taking the hoyden in hand, he longs to take her in his arms instead. Can such an outrageous attraction possibly lead to a fairytale ending?

Theme Song
Hello music loving romance readers! Welcome to September/Pumpkin Spice Season/Fall! Now that the craziness that is late August is over at my day job (higher ed professionals what what) I’m looking forward to reading more and more books between now and the end of the year.

The one book I did manage to squeeze into my late August reading calendar was My Fair Princess by Vanessa Kelly. I gotta be honest, there isn’t much to dislike about this book. My Fair Princess is truly lovely. Cranky hero, check. Witty/sassy heroine, check. Sexual tension, check. Opposites attract, HUGE CHECK. For a good chunk of the beginning of this book I kept thinking that Charles and Gillian couldn’t possibly be our hero and heroine. They just seemed so far apart in what they wanted, and in their motivations that my brain couldn’t wrap around them together. Of course that just made their HEA even better and more satisfying. I highly recommend this book for historical romance readers. It’s so good y’all!

When thinking about a playlist for these two I just kept coming back to the waltz. Charles and Gillian dance the waltz together in a few scenes and the image of them dancing together really help me captive while I was trying to put this book to music. The waltz was quite new in Regency ballrooms and was almost scandalous since the two dancers needed to “embrace” each other to complete the movements. Although the waltz arrived in England around 1810 it wasn’t commonplace or socially acceptable for quite a few years. In 1816 (when My Fair Princess takes place) the waltz was certainly beginning to be allowable but a debate about its morality did continue still. Charles and Gillian waltzing together would have certainly created gossip and rumors. Since I just love the scandalous side of Charles I chose a Mozart waltz for My Fair Princess’ theme song.

“Michael Turner's Waltz” by Mozart from the Far from the Madding Crown Soundtrack

What did you think of My Fair Princess?
Are there any songs that remind you of Charles, Gillian and their HEA?

About Vanessa Kelly

Vanessa Kelly is an award-winning author who was named by Booklist, the review journal of the American Library Association, as one of the “New Stars of Historical Romance.” Her Regency-set historical romances have been nominated for awards in a number of contests, and her second book, Sex and The Single Earl, won the prestigious Maggie Medallion for Best Historical Romance. Her third book, My Favorite Countess, was nominated for an RT Reviewers’ Choice Award for Best Regency Historical Romance.

Her current series, The Renegade Royals, is a national bestseller.

Vanessa spends most of the year in Ottawa, Ontario with her husband, but she’s lucky enough to spend some of the winter near lovely Amelia Island, Florida. When she’s not dreaming of plots for her next Regency novel, she’s writing USA Today Bestselling contemporary romances with her husband, under the pen name of V.K. Sykes.