Monday, September 29, 2008

Tuesday News

Hello, blog buddies! Since I’ve taken a new job, and it’s taking every available brain cell I have, Tuesday News will be every other week. But there are some great books out there- namely, Rowena Cherry’s KNIGHT’S FORK, releasing Oct. 8.

“I’m at your service in this, Ma’am. I’ve never refused a fight.”

The Queen Consort of the Volnoth needs a sperm donor, and only one green-eyed god has the right stuff. Little does she know she has pinned all her hopes on the crown jewels of the fabled Royal Saurian Djinn. Not only is he the son of her greatest enemy, but he has taken a vow of chastity.
The Saurian Knight is caught between a problem father who has all the moral integrity of a Mafia Don, and a married Princess who would stop at nothing to have his seed in her belly. No matter which way he turns, he’s “forked.”

Taking the wrong lover…in the wrong place, at the wrong time…is dangerous. And when the High and Mighty intervene, it can be fatal. Can true love and a pure White Knight’s virtue triumph, when society loves a right royal scandal?

Our very own Kimber Chin, who reviews here as K, told me about Claire Delacroix (aka Deborah Cooke), who had a new release last Tuesday, FALLEN. She got a great quote from Linnea Sinclair and you know how we love Linnea around here!

"The Eyes of the Republic are Everywhere.

When her estranged husband's mysterious death is declared an accident, Lilia Desjardins knows that it is a lie. She leaves all she knows to risk the dark heart of the Republic - only to find that she herself has been targeted by forces unknown.

Adam Montgomery will do anything to complete his earthly mission, even if he had to tangle with the enigmatic Lilia Desjardins. But when his contact is murdered and he must rely on Lilia's silence to save him from the slave dens, Montgomery knows that his wings were only the first sacrifice demanded of him.

As danger and intrigue surround them, Lilia and Montgomery realize that they must work together - body, mind and soul - in order to save the world."

They both sound like ripping good stories to me. Happy reading!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Science Fiction Romance... at

THE IDEAL WIFE by Mary Balogh

“If you could set before me the plainest, dullest, most ordinary female in London,” Miles Ripley, Earl of Severn, said, “or in England, for that matter, I would make her an offer without further ado.”

I love openings like that. You just know he’s going to get what he wants, but not quite the way he planned. Miles wants an ordinary woman who won’t put many demands on him; who will be happy rusticating in the country with his heirs while he lives in London. He feels that beautiful women are invariably vain, and think men were created to fetch and carry for them. So a plain, dull lady would be satisfied with a title and an estate and leave him alone. He could then get out from under the schemes of his mother and sisters, who have plans for him to wed one of the creatures he so fears.

Enter one Miss Abigail Gardiner, a strong, witty lady who is a companion to an older woman prone the vapors. Her best friend, governess in the house, was being molested by the woman’s lecherous husband. Abby stood up for her friend and was summarily dismissed on the pretext of ogling the eldest son. She has a ne’er do well brother and two young sisters to care for, so she plays on a distant family relationship with the Earl of Severn and asks him for a reference.

She dresses and acts unassuming and demure for the interview, though in truth she is neither. Miles, who can feel the matrimonial noose tightening, pictures of him constantly voicing “yes, dear,” and “no, dear,” to a beautiful harridan the rest of his life dancing in his head, offers marriage instead. With precious few options, she accepts.

This regency, from master Mary Balogh, is full of her trademark sharp dialogue, vivid settings, and emotional complexity. She is so gifted in details and descriptions; she can make the very familiar romance regency world seem authentic. THE IDEAL WIFE is highly sensual but very classy, and I loved losing myself in her clever, witty story. Thanks, Mary!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Sly Mongoose - Tobias Buckell

I thought I was supposed to post my first review last Thursday and missed the day due to the tail end of Hurricane Ike whipping through Cincy and taking down power and phone lines for 90% of the city. I didn’t have Internet access back until Friday. I was really steamed about that because I’m really excited to be doing reviews for Enduring Romance and didn’t want to start by missing my first dateline.

I see myself as a Science Fiction reader who also enjoys a Romance novel from time to time, and occasionally reads Fantasy and Mysteries. My favorite form of SF is Space Opera, but lately I’ve been impressed by the growing amount of good Science Fiction Romance that’s being published. SFR is shaking off its “hot Alien babe/dudes” with “exotic nookie in space” reputation and standing up on its own as legitimate and I think it’s adding some much needed new blood to the SF genre. I’m planning to review some Science Fiction Romance and Romantic Science Fiction books in the future but, I’m also looking forward to reviewing some straight SF. There is much more to the genre these days than Bug-eyed-aliens, Little-green-men, phallic rockets and ray guns, cheesy campy characters, and disaster/monster of the week plots. I’m hoping to get some readers who usually read in other areas to look at SF with new eyes.

Given that goal I’m picking a book by a relatively new writer for my first review. Tobias Buckell is a Caribbean born writer now living in Northwest Ohio. After a period of being looked down on by serious writers in the field as old fashion, juvenile, or best left to media tie-in projects, Space Opera is making a comeback and Buckell’s books are part of that resurgence. He has created a new sub-genre: Caribbean Space Oprea. His books are crammed full of cool ideas, fresh new twists on genre cliche's, neat stuff like zeppelins, and just plain fun swashbuckling. In many ways they look back to the time when SF was filled with Planetary Romance stories like Edgar Rice Burroughs Mars sagas, but they also have a modern cyber-nano tech steampunk edge.

Sly Mongoose is the third book Buckell has set in a reality where for reasons of politics and self-defense Earth cut itself off from the rest of the universe. The human colonies left behind in space are peopled by decedents of third world refugees, the only people desperate enough to leave the home planet and set up new lives in a universe unfriendly to humans. For several hundred years they have fought with each other, and their alien neighbors while eking out and existence at the edge of a galactic civilization that sees humans as something between vermin and pets. You don’t have to have read Crystal Rain, or Ragamuffin, the previous two books set in this universe to read Sly Mongoose, since they happen years apart and are not too tightly related. Be warned though, that after reading Sly Mongoose you are going to what to pick up the other books.

The planet Chilo has a run-a-way green house atmosphere, like Venus. The surface with its metal melting heat and intense pressure isn’t ideal for human colonies, but in Chilo’s dense atmosphere breathable air is a lifting gas, so the planet has dozens of floating cities. Most are high tech, think Bespin from Star Wars. These Aeolian cities have an affluent population constantly linked real-time by computer implants that makes today’s Internet look like smoke signals. Every aspect of Aeolian society is voted on by anyone who cares to listen in, sort of government by American Idol. Katrina is a teenage avatar from one of these high tech cities. Wired up with more sensors and cameras than other members of her society she is literally the eyes and ears her people send investigate when mysterious stranger who falls out of the sky and hits the neighboring city of Yatapek.

Yatapek is one of a hand full of poor independent low-tech cities. Its existence depends on teens like Timas who train and starve all their lives to stay slim enough to fit into the undersized pressure armor their Aztecs descended ancestors were unwittingly sold when they fled fighting on their original colony on the culturally Caribbean planet of Nanaganda to start a new life on Chilo. Without kids like Timas to run mining equipment on the planet's surface Yatapek will fail.

The man who fell out of the sly is Pepper, the near immortal soldier-spy-agent provocateur who also shows up in Crystal Rain and Ragamuffin. Pepper is a living remnant of the original human push out into space hundreds of years earlier. He is on a diplomatic ship heading for a peace conference between the few remaining independent human freedom fighters and a growing multi-system totalitarian human government when the ship is attacked by what seem to be zombies. Pepper puts on a space suit and jumps out the airlock over Chilo hoping to escape with a warning.

His arrival causes a crisis in Yatapek. It turns out the zombies are doomsday bio-weapon targeted at Chilo, not the peace conference. They might be linked to the mysterious aliens Timas saw on his last trip to the planet’s supposedly uninhabited surface. The zombies could have been sent by one of the rival human governments, or a previously unknown shadowy alien organization that views humans as a threat to the status quo of the galaxy. The survival of Yatapek, and maybe even all humanity, rests in the shoulders of two mature beyond their years teens and a possibly burned out soldier-spy.

Oh, and just in case that doesn’t get your attention and make you want to read this book there are semi-intelligent winged animal-machines made of canvas and scrap metal, and powered by the wind. Sort of flying descendants of Theo Jansen’s walking beach sculptures. There are also zeppelins, did I mention the zeppelins?

There is no sex to speak of in this book. Although the action-adventure level is high, the sensual heat level is non existent. There is some violence, and a couple of battle scenes with the zombies. People do die and get chopped up, but there is little graphic detail. I’d say the battle scenes are more icky than gory and I have a fairly low creep-out level.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

DARK LIGHT by Jayne Castle

Jayne Castle, aka Jayne Ann Krentz, has a unique approach to world building here. Her futuristic world, Harmony, started as an Earth colony. An energy Curtain opened in the vicinity of Earth, making interstellar travel practical. At first, the colony flourished; but suddenly the Curtain closed, leaving Harmony without a steady stream of supplies from back home. They were thrown back into a more primitive existence, but the Harmony colonists survived. Two hundred years after the Curtain closed, Harmony has a civilization pretty much the same as early 21st century Earth.

There were others there long before the Earthers. These aliens left behind vast catacombs that still throb with energy- and sometimes that energy will manifest as a green cloud, which Harmony’s residents call ghosts. Ghosts are dangerous here, and can only be destroyed by another ghost. Luckily, two centuries on Harmony have led the humans to develop certain paranormal powers. Among them, people who can call up and manipulate ghost energy; they are known as Ghost Hunters.

I like the setting. It’s both familiar and alien- all the mutant powers without the unpronounceable names. This is the fifth book in Harmony, and once again Castle is as caught up in the political intrigue as the action adventure.

John Montana is the new chief of Crystal City’s Ghost Hunter Guild. The Guilds are chock full of Alpha male hunters- mostly clad in khaki and leather, who swagger into seedy bars to the sighs of hopeful women. Many consider the Guilds to be a secret organization, mysterious and ethically limber. Some would call them a paler shade of mafia, but only if they’re feeling brave.

Enter Sierra McIntyre, who writes for a tabloid that routinely pushes stories like “Woman Pregnant with Alien Baby!” But they are the only paper that publishes pieces that are unfavorable to the Guilds, and Sierra has built her reputation on that. While interviewing Montana, she expects smooth-tongued evasion, if not outright threats. What she doesn’t expect is for the new chief to propose marriage.

It seems Sierra has hit a nerve with her stories about the city’s down-and-out hunters disappearing, and their connection to a drug ring. Montana wants to find those men, for the Guild takes care of its own. He also wants to protect Sierra. He needs her contacts to find out what’s going on, and the kingpins of the drug ring won’t wait long before silencing her. He proposes a Marriage of Convenience to Sierra. She’ll have the protection of being a Guild boss’ wife, and have access to some Guild secrets for her exclusive story.

Sierra is no fool. If people are after her, she’ll take all the protection she can get. And exclusive rights to the story of the decade, too.

In the interest of full disclosure, I need to tell you that the MOC is my favorite romance novel plot. Any book with a forced marriage will come away with an automatic star. But Harmony is a little different- MOC’s can be made or broken pretty much at will; a Covenant Marriage is for life. Any MOC that results in a child being born automatically becomes a Covenant Marriage. All kinds of good possibilities there!

Jayne is really good here, with her trademark action and usual-suspects reveal. She can do sensual tension better than anyone, and her sense of humor is intact. I think you’ll like her unusual critters as much as I do. The heroines of Harmony all have companion animals that have six legs, bright blue eyes, and look like a big ball of dryer lint. They’re called dust bunnies. They have a second pair of red eyes and fangs, too; but by the time you see them it’s too late.

Check out Jayne’s site for a complete list of all the Harmony novels. They’re highly sensual, and action filled but not graphically gory. Thank you, Jayne!

Review Update

The review of Jayne Castle's DARK LIGHT will be up this afternoon!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tuesday News

Good morning blog buds! Thinking otherworldly thoughts today, courtesy of my 15 year old son’s positive obsession with Star Wars. The movies are okay, but what he likes are the books. Any opinion of mine is countered with a lengthy diatribe on exactly who is and is not on the Jedi Council, who is and is not a Master, who defeated whom in battle, who is the best swordsman, etc., etc. (Mace Windu, in case you were wondering.)

I’ve thought for a while that I needed to introduce him to some science fiction that doesn’t require a little green man that "smarter than you are, he is." So thank you, Kimber An, for your shiny new blog designed for YA Sci Fi. Love ya!

Rose Fox at Publisher’s Weekly posed this question: Why are there no female space pirates? From her blog post:
“My question is, why aren't there any masked she-pirates in space? A Google search for "female space pirates" turns up very little. Elizabeth Moon, R.M. Meluch, and Lois McMaster Bujold--to name just a few--put women into space opera, but those female characters are all part of reasonably legitimate business or government ventures, and they feel no need to disguise themselves. In fact, despite the popularity of the old-fashioned sort of pirate (thanks in great part to the Pirates of the Caribbean movies and Talk Like a Pirate Day), interstellar piracy as a whole seems to be on the decline. I can't remember the last time I saw a novel about genuine space pirates, as opposed to ex-military con artists or ex-con military operatives. I think the Next Big Thing will be blending the golden age of masked she-pirates with the golden age of science fiction to produce space wenches, who disguise themselves as men--or aliens, or robots, or even ninjas, their dreaded hereditary enemies--and find true love while seeking revenge and plunder among the stars.”

Shoot yes! Until next time, Space Wenches!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sunday Showcase: Murder on Bank Street

I got a note from the author (how cool is that!), Victoria Thompson, letting me know that Murder on Bank Street is now out. AND, that it resolves a major mystery thread that has been carried through the series. I am so excited about that!

Just wanted to pass the news on to all of you Enduring Romance readers after introducing the series a little while ago.

Showcase Sunday: Books I Would Read...

...and Review if I had the time.
Actually, a couple of these may still make it into my stack. My goal as I finish up my current stack is to focus on the greats, although I have a few authors who can send me anything anytime they want and it will get read and reviewed. Still, I only review once a month nowadays. Here's some books I've wanted to read-


SHADOWS IN THE MIST by Brian Moreland. I'd have to break my own rule for this blog to review this bad boy. It falls into the Horror genre! However, it's cover art and blurb is so intriguing I think I may be lured into its clutches yet.


A WILDERNESS COURTSHIP by Valerie Hansen. Hey, I live in the wilderness and a girl needs a nice little romance after reading something like the SHADOWS!


REAP THE WILD WIND by Julie E. Czerneda. This one smacks of the Science Ficiton greats, Anne McGaffrey and Catherine Asaro. She's also been around quite a while and has an extensive backlist. It's definitely on my radar.


EULALIA by Brian Jacques. Can't remember what intrigued me about this one, but must have been the cover art and blurb.


KEEPING THE LOVE YOU FIND by Harville Hendrix, Ph.D. Okay, I did read this one a long, long time ago right before I started dating my husband. It works! I just thought I'd throw it in for my single friends to help you figure out how to get your own 'Happily Ever After.'


CHEAP. FAST. GOOD. by Beverly Mills and Alicia Ross. This is a cookbook. I hate to cook. My husband's the one who goes out to earn the money, so I have to cook. This cookbook is all I need it to be.


SARAH PALIN by Kaylene Johnson. Don't freak out! The fact is I'm an Alaskan. These days, we sit around sharing the silliest things people are saying about our governor who was just nominated to be the first woman vice president and we laugh. Regardless of party affiliation, we Alaskans haven't had this much fun since the last Polar Bear Swim. That's when we strip off all our clothes and jump into a lake in the middle of the winter. Okay, I've never actually done that, but it's fun to watch.
That's it! Happy reading.
P.S. I've started a new blog to help teens who love Science Fiction to find the books they'll love.

Sunday Showcase: Interview with Gwyneth Bolton

Good morning, Blog Buds! Gwyneth Bolton released a new novel this month, MAKE IT HOT, which I reviewed last month. I sent her some questions and she graciously answered them for Showcase Sunday.
Kimber- Did you have MAKE IT HOT in your head while you were still working on PROTECT AND SERVE? When did it show itself in your imagination? What journey did you take to write it?
Gwyneth- I wrote a proposal for the entire four book series after writing the first couple of chapters of PROTECT AND SERVE. So, in a sense, I had all of the books in the series in my head while I was still working on PROTECT AND SERVE. In fact, as I wrote MAKE IT HOT the characters from THE LAW OF DESIRE kept invading my thoughts and dreams. The hero from that book kept tempting me to write his story next. The wonderful thing about having a proposal for the series is it provided a nice road map for me to turn to when ever I felt blocked or needed inspiration.
Kimber- There was a year or so gap between SWEET SENSATION and PROTECT AND SERVE. What was that all about?
Gwyneth- It wasn’t about anything really. Some authors only publish one book a year. So, I figure if I can get at least one book out a year with a full-time job, I’m doing okay.
Kimber- With the experience of PROTECT AND SERVE behind you, was MAKE IT HOT easier or more difficult to write? How so?
Gwyneth- Each book brings its own challenges. PROTECT AND SERVE really just poured out of me. That story and those characters were so easy to write. MAKE IT HOT was a little bit more difficult when it should have been easier. THE LAW OF DESIRE was a snap. Again the characters and the story just leaped from my mind to the computer screen. I think the Hightower cops just like me more, because they were easier to write than the firemen. LOL.
Kimber- Is there anything else you’d like readers to know about MAKE IT HOT or PROTECT AND SERVE?
Gwyneth- If you love men who are honorable, protective and HOT, you’ll love these books. If you like “real life” every day guy kinds of heroes, heroes who might not have millions of dollars and can whisk you away to Europe or a remote island, but can make you feel loved and secure and desired beyond measure, you’ll love Jason and Joel Hightower. If the idea of a man in uniform turns you on in the slightest, then PROTECT AND SERVE and MAKE IT HOT are the books for you. If large families, loads of fun, and some drama thrown in for good measure sounds like a book you’d like to check out, then you’re going to want to pick up one or both of these books today. If you like your heroes alpha with a heart of gold, then Jason and Joel have what you need and then some! But don’t take my word for it… Read the books and see for yourself!
Kimber- Tell us about your next book, THE LAW OF DESIRE.
Gwyneth- Here’s the ultra cool book blurb for THE LAW OF DESIRE (Which I just puffy heart love by the way because it captures the story in a nutshell!)Guilty Pleasures…Decorated police detective Lawrence Hightower's instincts click into high gear when a beautiful but suspicious stranger appears in his stakeout zone. Soon he realizes Minerva Jones is in danger and needs protection. He can't trust her. But he can't get this tough, feisty, stubborn siren out of his head.Desperate to keep a low profile, the last thing Minerva needs is a sexy cop getting too close for comfort. Not that she's guilty of anything, except her own intense attraction to the too fine detective. But she's got a few secrets, and trouble is closing in. Dare she surrender to the promise this sensual hero holds in his strong, protective embrace?
Thanks so much, Gwyneth!

Showcase Sunday: Michelle Moran Interview

Good morning, Blog Buds! Michelle Moran's new Historical novel, HERETIC QUEEN, is in bookstores this month. I'll be reviewing it right here next month.
I sent Michelle a few questions and she graciously answered them.
Kimber- Did you have HERETIC QUEEN in your head while you were still working on NEFERTITI? When did it show itself in your imagination? What journey did you take to write it? And do you consider HERETIC QUEEN a sequel to NEFERTITI?
Michelle- In many ways, The Heretic Queen is a natural progression from my debut novel Nefertiti. The sequel picks up the plot after the brief interceding reign of Tutankhamun. The narrator is orphaned Nefertari, who suffers terribly because of her relationship to the reviled “Heretic Queen”. Despite the Heretic Queen’s death a generation prior, Nefertari is still tainted by her relationship to her aunt, Queen Nefertiti, and when young Ramesses falls in love and wishes to marry her, it is a struggle not just against an angry court, but against the wishes of a rebellious people.
But perhaps I would never have chosen to write on Nefertari at all if I hadn’t taken a trip to Egypt and seen her magnificent tomb. At one time, visiting her tomb was practically free, but today, a trip underground to see one of the most magnificent places on earth can cost upwards of five thousand dollars (yes, you read that right). If you want to share the cost and go with a group, the cost lowers to the bargain-basement price of about three thousand. As a guide told us of the phenomenal price, I looked at my husband, and he looked at me. We had flown more than seven thousand miles, suffered the indignities of having to wear the same clothes for three days because of lost luggage… and really, what were the possibilities of our ever returning to Egypt again? There was only one choice. We paid the outrageous price, and I have never forgotten the experience.
While breathing in some of the most expensive air in the world (I figured it was about $20 a gulp), I saw a tomb that wasn’t just fit for a queen, but a goddess. In fact, Nefertari was only one of two (possibly three) queens ever deified in her lifetime, and as I gazed at the vibrant images on her tomb – jackals and bulls, cobras and gods - I knew that this wasn’t just any woman, but a woman who had been loved fiercely when she was alive. Because I am a sucker for romances, particularly if those romances actually happened, I immediately wanted to know more about Nefertari and Ramesses the Great. So my next stop was the Hall of Mummies at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. There, resting beneath a heavy arc of glass, was the great Pharaoh himself. For a ninety-something year old man, he didn’t look too bad. His short red hair was combed back neatly and his face seemed strangely peaceful in its three thousand year repose. I tried to imagine him as he’d been when he was young – strong, athletic, frighteningly rash and incredibly romantic. Buildings and poetry remain today as testaments to Ramesses’s softer side, and in one of Ramesses’s more famous poems he calls Nefertari “the one for whom the sun shines.” His poetry to her can be found from Luxor to Abu Simbel, and it was my visit to Abu Simbel (where Ramesses built a temple for Nefertari) where I finally decided that I had to tell their story.
Kimber- With the experience of NEFERTITI behind you, was HERETIC QUEEN easier or more difficult to write? How so?
Michelle- Actually, the experience of writing wasn’t any different, but the publication process certainly was. There really is nothing like publishing for the first time. The expectation, the excitement of the unknown, and the wild drive that pushes an author to do anything and everything they can for their very first book doesn’t compare with the experience of publishing successive novels. Since Nefertiti was my first novel, I had no idea what to expect. What would happen on the first day of publication? Or if I made a bestsellers list? Or if I didn’t make one? Should I do signings? What about drive-by signings? Do bookmarks really work? Of course, all of these questions were answered in due time. And now, for The Heretic Queen, I know that bookmarks are useful, that if I make the bestsellers list my editor will call at an ungodly hour on her – gasp – personal phone to congratulate me, and that drive-by signings can be just as effective as signing events. There is an inner peace – at least for me – in publishing the second novel that wasn’t there for the first book when everything was uncertain and new. The nervousness is still there – will people like it? will I let down my publishing house? – but this time I know what to expect.
Kimber- Historically, when and where is HERETIC QUEEN set in relation to NEFERTITI?
Michelle- After Nefertiti’s death, Egypt was ruled by the Pharaohs Tutankhamun, Ay, Horemheb, and Ramesses I. However, I skipped the short reigns of these Pharaohs in order to write about Ramesses the Great. When my publishing house purchased Nefertiti, they did so in a two-book deal. Not knowing how Nefertiti would be received, or whether I have ever get another chance at writing about ancient Egypt, I chose to tell the two most compelling stories I knew: that of Nefertiti and her sister Mutnodjmet, and that of Mutnodjmet’s child Nefertari and her life with Ramesses the Great. It may sound strange that I chose to skip over a pharaoh as well known as Tutankhamun, but the truth is that he had a very short reign. After marrying his half-sister Ankhesenamun, he ruled until he was nineteen years old and then died of a broken leg (probably infection, and possibly a chariot accident). After Tut’s death, his grandfather Ay took the throne for a few short years, followed by the general Horemheb.
I certainly could have written an entire book on Horemheb’s reign, beginning with his marriage to Mutnodjmet, but I like my stories to have some glimmer of hope, some element of romance (there were plenty of romances in history!), and Mutnodjmet’s forced marriage and death in childbirth (unlike many Amarna mummies, hers has been recovered) didn’t seem very cheerful to me. So I chose to focus on her daughter, Nefertari. Of course, it’s unknown if Nefertari really was her daughter, and if not, how exactly they were related. But the historian Manetho provided me with the possibility, and so I took it and wrote what I think is a much more hopeful story. Even though Nefertari would have been the niece of the Heretic Queen Nefertiti, and therefore tainted at court, Ramesses loved her fiercely. Buildings and poetry remain today as testaments to this, and in one of Ramesses’s more famous poems he calls Nefertari “the one for whom the sun shines.” His poetry to her can be found from Luxor to Abu Simbel.
Kimber- Is there anything else you’d like readers to know about HERETIC QUEEN?
Michelle- Truthfully, I just want readers to feel that if a time machine were to suddenly appear and whisk them away to ancient Egypt, they wouldn’t be totally lost. They would recognize the traditions, the gods and goddesses, and know what to expect in Pharaoh Ramesses’s court. I have tried my best to make the writing accessible to a modern audience. That means not dating the dialogue, or using too many long and unwieldy Egyptian names, or overdoing it with ancient Egyptian terms. Hopefully, by doing this, readers will come away with the sense of not only having been there for a little while, but of relating to the Egyptians. Because for all of the technological, medical and philosophical changes the world has undergone in the past three thousand years, people have remained the same. They had the same desires and fears in ancient Egypt that we have today, and I hope that readers can come away with an understanding of that.
Kimber- Tell us about your next book, CLEOPATRA’S DAUGHTER.
Michelle- Cleopatra's Daughter will follow the incredible life of Cleopatra's surviving children with Marc Antony -- twins, named Alexander Helios and Cleopatra Selene, and a younger son named Ptolemy. All three were taken to Rome and paraded through the streets, then sent off to be raised by Octavia (the wife whom Marc Antony left for Cleopatra). Raised in one of the most fascinating courts of all time, Cleopatra's children would have met Ovid, Seneca, Vitruvius (who inspired the Vitruvian man), Agrippa (who built the Pantheon), Herod, his sister Salome, the poets Virgil, Horace, Maecenas and so many others!
Thanks so much, Michelle!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A MOTHER'S WISH by Karen Templeton

This one got bumped to the top of the stack when HERETIC QUEEN by Michelle Moran didn't arrive in time. I'm glad because it's been a hectic last couple of weeks between launching MANIC KNIGHT into queryland and starting the new school year with little darlings. I needed a feel-good, down-home American romance and Karen Templeton never fails to deliver.


Nine years before the story starts, Winnie was a confused and frightened 18 year old, pregnant and with no loving support from the sperm donor, uh, I mean boyfriend or family. Her own parents died when she was a child and her grandmother was not the warm, fuzzy type. Anyway, she made the gut-wrenching decision to place her baby for adoption. A lovely couple more than ready to be parents, Aiden and June, adopted her baby boy. A year before the story starts, June passes away, leaving husband and son grief-stricken. And neither of them are too good at dealing with their grief together.


Winnie's unfuzzy grandmother passes away and the loss makes her want to see her son, just to see him. So, she travels down and finds a place to stay, only to discover the place is owned by Aiden.


Aiden is shocked by Winnie's arrival and terrified she means to take his son, named Robbie, away from him. He hides his terror behind a gruff exterior.


Winnie keeps her word and doesn't tell Robbie she's his birthmother and is glad to finally meet him. It's gut-wrenching to let go again, but she honors her committment and prepares to leave. Providentially, her truck breaks down on the way out and Aiden comes to the rescue.


In a rare departure from the Romance novel formula, not only is there a child involved in this romance, but he also gets his own Point-of-View, which I, the resident Baby Fanatic, enjoyed very much. He misses Mom, of course, and feels like he can't talk about it or cry around Dad. At first, he's annoyed by Winnie's presence, but she's so easy to talk to he warms right up. This terrifies Dad even more, of course.


I thought it was funny when Winnie explains to the housekeeper why she isn't married yet. It's because there aren't enough single guys in her small town. I had this problem too and moved to Alaska. Winnie needs to move too, but moving out of one's comfort zone is too hard for some people to do. With a broken down truck, she doesn't have much choice while Aiden struggles with having her still be there and also being attracted to her. One thing leads to another and I'll leave it there.


The beauty of Karen Templeton's contemporary romance is it always feels so real, like it could happen to you, if it hasn't already, and or to a couple of your best friends. It always *real.* In Real Life, people often fail to make their Happily Ever After work, but in Karen Templeton's novels they always do. The Heat Level is Sensual, very natural, and all that. In case you haven't noticed Karen Templeton is one of those authors who can send me an ARC or a book without even asking or hinting, and I'll be delighted to read and review it.


If you like A MOTHER'S WISH, you should certainly check out Karen Templeton's other books. She's got a lot of 'em. Just pop over to her website. SWEET SENSATION by Gwyneth Bolton is similar to this one, because there's a child involved and she gets her own Point-of-View.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Tuesday News

Good morning, everyone!

Today’s news focuses on Regency releases. I know, I know. Regency is supposed to be dead, and rightly so, correct? Tell that to Candace Camp.

The latest in her matchmaker series, The Wedding Challenge, comes out this month. “Lady Calandra should have suitors beating down her door. But her overprotective brother, the Duke of Rochford, has managed to scare off every suitable gentleman. Every man except the mysterious Earl of Bromwell, that is. Callie finds herself drawn to the enigmatic earl, despite her brother's almost violent protestations.

In defiance of her brother's wishes, Callie devises a plan to see Bromwell again, enlisting the help of matchmaker Francesca Haughston. But when shadowy secrets about the duke and the earl come to light, it may be too late for Callie to see that she's walked straight into a trap.…”

Fresh off her RITA win for The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever, Julia Quinn releases Mr. Cavendish, I Presume this month. “There went the bride... Amelia Willoughby has been engaged to the Duke of Wyndham for as long as she can remember. Literally. A mere six months old when the contracts were signed, she has spent the rest of her life waiting. And waiting. And waiting...for Thomas Cavendish, the oh-so-lofty duke, to finally get around to marrying her. But as she watches him from afar, she has a sneaking suspicion that he never thinks about her at all...

It's true. He doesn't. Thomas rather likes having a fiancée—all the better to keep the husband-hunters at bay—and he does intend to marry her...eventually. But just when he begins to realize that his bride might be something more than convenient, Thomas’s world is rocked by the arrival of his long-lost cousin, who may or may not be the true Duke of Wyndham. And if Thomas is not the duke, then he’s not engaged to Amelia. Which is the cruelest joke of all, because this arrogant and illustrious duke has made the mistake of falling in love...with his own fiancée!”

And my personal favorite Regency author, Mary Balogh, has an anthology coming out in October with an intriguing premise: each novella has the same basic plot. A man and a woman meet for the first time in ten years at an inn, either by chance or design. The action of the story spans no more than twenty-four hours. Ms. Balogh’s story in It Happened One Night, Spellbound, "brings the hero and heroine together at a small village inn on May Day. Both have been stranded there as the result of the collision of a stagecoach and a curricle. They have met before, and the memories are bitter on both sides. But for one day and one night they have to co-exist, and they do so against the background of a village fair and maypole dancing. Will twenty-four hours be sufficient time to erase years of anger and pain?"

As always, if you have news for me, please contact me (Robyn) at the link on the left. Thanks!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Sunday's Oldies but Goodies...

Greetings, Blog Buds!

Today's Oldie but Goodie is...

The Immortal Highlander by Karen Marie Moning.
First released August 2004
Like most women, I thoroughly enjoy a story with a strong male and a strong female as the main characters. Nothing turns my stomach more than a whimpering female that allows the lead male to run roughshod all over her feelings & treat her as if she doesn't have the good sense to use the brain God gave her - and she totally loves him anyway.
Gabrielle O'Callaghan is not that kind of woman. She is a Sidhe Seer, a very rare mortal that can see the Fae as they dwell in our world. Gabrielle has been taught since childhood to act as if she cannot see the Fae, because all in her line have vanished once the truth was out and their abilities exposed. So Gabrielle lives her adult life seeing the astoundingly beautiful creatures around her, but never once acknowledging their presence, because she knows the moment she does she is dead.
Adam Black doesn't like to be ignored.
The last of the D'Jai Princes, he is a Fae unlike any other. Darkly handsome, extremely cunning, he is a favorite of the Fae Queen, until he is cursed by her for going against her orders. Now, not only is he human, but he is still invisible to all except a Sidhe Seer, of which there is believed to be none still living.
Until he runs into Gabrielle.
At first, his interest is one of pure selfishness. He wants to find a way to undo the curse and find a way into Gabrielle's bed. Gabrielle wants nothing to do with the dark fairy, believing when his curse is lifted she will be killed. Fate, as it were, had other plans for both of them. For when Adam and Gabrielle discover a plot to overthrow the Fae queen and take over the Human realm, they must work together to prevent the end of the world as they both know it. Lucky thing they decide they are better together than apart.
The Immortal Highlander was another one of those stories I could not put down. I literally read this story in one sitting. Ms. Moning has a gift for pulling you right into her world. It was amazing to me that I could picture the world she built. Her character development is also top-notch. Before you are done reading this one you will be cheering for Adam and Gabrielle, both to save the Queen and the Earth, and also to finally find their way to each other. And when they do - wow. The heat level is highly sensual, but it is woven into the natural progression of the story.
You can learn more about this author and see a full list of her novels on her website
Happy reading!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

OUT OF THE DARK by JoAnn Smith Ainsworth

Okay, let's get medieval.

Sorry, couldn't resist that joke but seriously, I love medieval romances. They are all about honor and chivalry and duty, traits we should celebrate.

As I'm in between my Margaret Moore fix (my fave medieval romance writer of all time), I was thrilled when Kimber An introduced me to Out Of The Dark.

Lady Lynette is nearly blind, a tough thing for potential suitors to overlook. How is the Saxon beauty going to care for a keep or meals or children? Fortunately, she is also wealthy, the wealth controlled by her domineering mother. Her henpecked father and strong willed mother are shopping for suitors. Literally. Any suitor they find will have to be swayed by wealth. Lynette wishes for love but that is unlikely. Her mom wants a powerful and well connected Saxon son-in-law.

One evening, Lynette loses her way in the King's castle's cellars and overhears a plot to harm the King. She can't see these evil doers, of course, but she makes out their voices. A sensible woman, she contacts London's Sheriff (none of that zany investigate on your own stuff – Lynette is too smart for that). Much to her dismay, Sheriff Basil sounds very much like one of the conspirators. Is he a good guy or a baddie?

Illegitimate and penny-less Basil is all about duty. The Norman is determined to protect the King and those around him. Although he is attracted to and fascinated by the fearless Lynette, he isn't quite sure he can trust her. Plus what is all this talk about her seeing ghosts (yes, an "I see dead people" moment)?

I enjoyed Out Of The Dark. I especially found the relationship between the tough mother and the intellectual father intriguing. At first, it had groaner potential. Yes, yes, yes, we know the mother will turn out bad and the father will sneak around, helping his daughter achieve her dreams. Actually, no. Check your stock characters at the door. The two have a solid (yet different) relationship with mutual respect for each other.

For a medieval, there is surprisingly little violence. There is one love making scene at the end of the novel (tame).

Check out JoAnn Smith Ainsworth's website for more info.

If you like this novel,
you'll like any of Margaret Moore's medievals
('cause she's awesome)
and my cyber buddy Allison Knight's long awaited Heartsong is out.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Tuesday News

Good morning, blog buddies. I thought I'd start today with a hearty congratulations to our moderator, Kimber An, as her girl Alaska governor Sarah Palin becomes John McCain's running mate in the U.S. Presidential election! I'm not discussing politics here; I just think it's neat that a woman I know Kimber admires has a great opportunity. But this blog is about books, right?

So, in the spirit of Northern exposure, I wanted to highlight Alaska author Jackie Ivie. Her latest, A Knight Well Spent (I cannot stop giggling at her titles!) comes out this October. "Scotland 1141. A Norman king's attempt to rule the Highland clans is making his favorite knight's job difficult, indeed--and this is before a woman of mystery lays siege to the warrior's heart..."

I like the idea of the Highlands from the English point of view!

And for titles set in Alaska, try Debbie Macomber's Mail Order Marriages. She always has such fun, sweet, charming reads.

Debbie is also participating in a very cool event- Unleash Your Story. An annual event spearheaded by the authors of Romance Unleashed, Unleash Your Story is a month long write-a-thon for charity that will be fun, help writers set and meet writing goals and encourage both readers and writers to donate as they root for their favorite author or team.

To add to the fun, they decided to invite readers to join for a read-a-thon that will combine their passion for reading with a desire to make a difference.

Debbie is the pacesetting author, with a goal of 30,000 words. Take a look and see if you'd like to get involved. Their goal for 2008 is to raise $10,000 for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.