Fresh FIction Box Not To Miss
Candace Havens | Cole’s Top Five New Television Show Recommendations
Author Guest / September 26, 2016

The new television season is upon us, and we’d thought it’s be fun to ask Cole Keller from Branded what new network shows he might be watching in between all that hard work he’s doing on the ranch. Not that he has that much free time any more. Not with heiress Callie Lewellyn all up in his business. But even a hard-working man like Cole needs a break now and then. He loves to read, but he also doesn’t mind kicking back with a beer or two and watching his favorite shows. Here are Cole’s top five new shows he’ll be watching: The Exorcist (Fox): My girl Callie likes a good scary movie, but she almost always ends up in my lap. That happening once a week is just fine by me. And that trailer for the show is creepy as hell. Pitch (Fox): Baseball. Enough said. And a female pitcher who gives as good as she gets, good for her. I think it would have been better if they picked my team, The Texas Rangers, instead of the Padres for her to play on. But I’ll give this a go. Notorious (ABC): I’ve had a thing for Piper Perabo…

A Spicy Honeymoon with a Brew
Cozy Corner / September 26, 2016

Fall is almost here, but it certainly doesn’t feel like it! The summer heat has dug in its heels and driven me to a cozy air-conditioned corner with a cold brew, a little spice and a honeymoon to boot—all of them, of course, fictional. I enjoyed all three of this week’s feature mysteries that took me on a tour from Monticello, to Seattle, to Pittsburgh, PA. And all three authors included recipes you don’t want to miss! Put them on your reading list, you won’t be disappointed. KILLING THYME by Leslie Budewitz Spice Shop #3 In Seattle’s Pike Place Market, Spice Shop owner Pepper Reece is savoring her business success, but soon finds her plans disrupted by a killer in the latest from the national bestselling author of Guilty as Cinnamon. Pepper Reece’s to-do list is longer than the shopping list for a five-course dinner, as she conjures up spice blends bursting with seasonal flavor, soothes nervous brides fretting over the gift registry, and crosses her fingers for a rave review from a sharp-tongued food critic. Add to the mix a welcome visit from her mother, Lena, and she’s got the perfect recipe for a busy summer garnished with a…

Jenna Jaxon | The Characteristics of the Lady’s Maid
Author Guest / September 22, 2016

All ladies of the Regency, if they could at all afford one, had a lady’s maid, a personal servant who attended her every day. Characteristics of a good lady’s maid included “great neatness, skill, and taste, as well as discretion and cleverness.” Many such maids “received special training so as to enable them to acquire a certain level of knowledge before entering the unique field of caring for a mistress.” Her main duties were to see to her mistress’s clothes, help her choose outfits, fix her hair, keep all clothing laundered, shoes cleaned and all items in good repair, know how to sew and mend, and bring her mistress early breakfast in her bedroom if she desired. Her focus was always on her mistress to assure that when she went out into Society, she presented a flawless appearance. Other important duties of the lady’s maid, according to Geri Walton, were “medical tasks, hair brushing, and money matters.” She might be called upon to change bandages or apply leeches. In addition to creating her mistresses’ coiffures, she was in charge of brushing her hair each night to keep it healthy and in good order. A lady’s maid also made sure that…

History ReFreshed | Sheiks And Harems
History / September 22, 2016

With the PBS series “Indian Summers” now running, this month we’ll stay with the exotic and look at a genre of books that has proven perennially popular, both with romance readers (there seem to be new Sheik books out every month, contemporary or historical) and historical fiction fans—novels set in the mysterious and titillating world of the seraglio. We begin the journey with a two-book series by Zia Wesley fictionalizing the life of a real woman, Aimée Dubucq de Rivery. Born on the island of Martinique, young Aimée and her cousin have their fortunes told by an old woman, who prophesies that both will become queens. The cousin becomes Josephine, Napoleon’s first Empress. In an even more unbelievable turn of events, Aimée becomes the favorite of a Sultan. In the first book, THE STOLEN GIRL (THE VEIL AND THE CROWN BOOK 1) we see Aimée’s early life, from her childhood in Martinque through the journey to Paris, where she attempts, without any luck, to marry into the Parisian elite. Resigned to spinsterhood, she decides to become a nun, but before entering the convent, takes ship to Martinique to visit her family one last time. On the voyage back, her ship…

Mika Jolie | Nassau Hall, a centerpiece of Princeton University campus, a national landmark
Author Guest / September 21, 2016

When I started writing the Poison & Wine series, I thought about creating a fictional town around Princeton, New Jersey. I even considered choosing a neighborhood small town as the location for the series, but something was missing. Much like the Martha’s Way series in which the island Martha’s Vineyard became a character in itself, I wanted to capture that same indispensable quality in the Poison & Wine series. After a lot of back and forth with myself and my supporting group, I decided to go with my heart. The medium-size vibrant town is family friendly, centrally located between Philadelphia and New York. It holds the record for having the most ice cream parlors in Mercer County, which include The Bent Spoon, Halo Pub, Thomas Sweet and Ricky’s…needless to say we eat a lot of ice cream. Princeton is also home to Princeton University, Colbie Bennington’s alma mater. The University is mentioned several times in the novel as Colbie is one of the two protagonists in SOMEWHERE TO BEGIN. Excerpt from SOMEWHERE TO BEGIN It had been almost five years since she waved goodbye to her alma mater. Yet standing across the street, staring at the oldest construction at Princeton…

My Heroines: The Power of Intelligence and Wit in Historical Heroines
Author Guest / September 21, 2016

I’ve never been a reader who enjoys the helpless, spineless, petty wiles of a senseless heroine—so, it is only natural that when I started crafting my own books I knew only an intelligent and cunning heroine would do. A woman who loves adventure and can go toe to toe with any alpha hero brings a story to life. My A Lady Forsaken Series features women of varying intellect and education, but all possess the wit to thrive and secure themselves a promising future complete with love and laughter. Each has their own struggles to wade through and wounds to heal, but with their cunning nature—and strong men by their side—they overcome all odds to find happiness. SCORNED EVER MORE, A Lady Forsaken (Book Three), details the life of a French spy, Lady Lorelei de La Valette, pushed into a form of servitude by country and family. She’s sent to England to infiltrate society and gain the hand of Lord Chastain, a man deemed valuable to Napoleon—love was never meant to happen, especially a love for the Marquis of Drake, Chastain’s best friend. Lorelei is faced with two options, deny her heart and fulfill her mission or allow love to take…

Alice Gaines | What’s so wrong about a happy ending?
Author Guest / September 21, 2016

Romance gets put down for a lot of things. The supposedly purple prose, the heaving bosoms, the heroines who stamp their dainty feet and flounce from the room. I don’t think I’ve encountered any of those things recently in a romance novel, if ever. Frankly, I believe romance is most often rejected as “serious literature” because it’s largely written and read by women. Worse…there’s often detailed anatomically correct sex in the books. Women liking sex? Horrors. What will they want next…the vote? But what irks me the most is the assertion that any story with a happy ending is automatically disqualified from being good. Let me state for the record. I like happy endings. I can endure the worst trials and tribulations for the characters in a book if I know they’ll be headed toward a beautiful future by the end. In fact, the worse the torment they must endure to be together, the sweeter the reward at the finish. Honestly, if I want misery, all I have to do is turn on the news. It’s on 24/7 these days so your entire life can be filled with bleakness if you want. Natural disasters, murders, torture, and kidnapping of innocents….

MK Meredith | There’s Nothing Sexier than that First Kiss…Unless You’re Me
Author Guest / September 21, 2016

One of my very favorite parts of romances, whether from movies or a great book, is the build-up and realization of that first kiss. The one that gives you that sexy punch to the gut and makes your mouth water. Unfortunately for me, I learned I’m more of a just please punch me in the face and let the world swallow me whole to save me from myself kind of girl. You see, the story of the first kiss between my husband and me is not the breathless anticipation we crave from a great romance novel or the sweet, yearning build-up we can experience in a romantic comedy. Instead, it was a debacle of immense proportions. I was out of practice and nervous and playing way out of my league. He was so handsome and cool, and I was the world’s biggest cheeseball ever created. Something I never managed to outgrow. After an amazing sushi dinner and conversation that went well into the night, he dropped me off at the apartment I shared with a couple girlfriends. Like a gentleman, he opened the door for me of his red Camaro with the white fuzzy dice hanging from the review mirror—I…

Nina Bocci | What is ROMAN CRAZY?
Author Guest / September 19, 2016

When people ask Alice and I what ROMAN CRAZY is about, we tell them it’s a two-fold Second Chance Romance. What exactly is that, is usually the follow up question. . . Second-chance love stories are some of my absolute favorites to read, and to write. Yes, this is a story about Avery Bardot and Marcello Bianchi re-connecting after years apart. It is 100% a testament to their relationship as young adults and how as adults they’re working through what they had, and recognizing what they could have again but, it’s also about Avery finding herself again after putting someone else first for almost a decade. For us, making sure that Avery was happy with all of the changes in her life was so important. We wanted her to grow as a woman, as a lover and as a friend to Daisy, Marcello and this new life she’s uncovered. We wanted those friends and family surrounding her to watch and champion her decisions because they knew as well that it was necessary for her to accept everything she’s been given. I’m a firm believer in things happening for a reason and for Avery, what happens is a chance at a…

Shannon Greenland | Five things I’d tell the teen me
Author Guest / September 19, 2016

Travel! I spent two years between high school and college seeing the world. I helped bathe orphans in Mexico, saw the wall come down in Germany, rode a bike in snowy Denmark, slept in too many airports to count, sang on a stage in Poland, and so much more. Since then I’ve sailed to the Bahamas, climbed a light house in Bermuda, hiked the Na Pali coast in Hawaii, canoed in Venezuela, zip-lined a forest, and the list goes on… Travel! It’ll open your mind and soul to this incredible earth we live on. Be open to change. When your heart and gut tell you to take a less comforting choice, consider listening. Nine times out of ten your heart and gut are right. Learn a language. Be it Spanish, French, Farsi, or whatever, dig in and learn it. Be willing to travel to a country that speaks your chosen 2nd language and do total immersion. Be willing to take more classes than are required for a high school diploma. Knowing a second language is an irreplaceable skill. It’s okay to break up with a boyfriend. What’s not okay to do is choose boys over friends. Boys will come and…