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Bloggers

 

Jane Austen Does The Bachelorette?

Imperfect BlissEssence Contributing Editor Susan Fales-Hill takes on Pride and Prejudice and the result is a delightful summer read called Imperfect Bliss. The Harcourt family of Chevy Chase, Maryland is at the heart of this story. They are a respectable middle-class family featuring a social-climbing Jamaican mother named Forsythia, an inattentive English father, and their four unmarried daughters. Forsythia has big dreams for her girls and even named each after a Windsor royal family member hoping for titled sons-in-law. But love and marriage are the last things on the mind of their second eldest, Elizabeth (Bliss), who finds herself living back home with her special-needs daughter following a messy divorce.

   

When younger sister Diana is picked as the star of “The Virgin,” a reality television dating show, all the Harcourts' lives change significantly. Their home turns into a set and the crew becomes part of their family. While Bliss tries to keep her daughter and herself out of camera range, the show’s attractive host, Wyatt and handsome producer, Dario, are persistent in their pursuit of her. Meanwhile, her other sisters, Victoria and Charlotte are dealing with issues of their own and the whole family must come to grips with their own reality. The humorous hijinks of the television show and the quirky characters comprising this family combine to create an engaging comedy of manners tinged with satire. 

 

Imperfect Bliss is a wickedly funny spin on the pitfalls of modern love and courtship.  This funny romantic comedy is a perfect beach bag book with its homage to Jane Austen and soft pokes at reality television.

Maureen

 
 

Fifteen Minutes of Fame

Fifteen Minutes of Fame

posted by:
August 6, 2012 - 8:30am

Just Say YesWallflower in BloomLove and reality television collide in two new breezy summer offerings from proven favorites in the world of chick lit. Be sure to pack these fun novels with the sunscreen and hat when heading to the beach or poolside!

 

Phillipa Ashley introduces us to Lucy Gibson in Just Say Yes. Lucy’s dates with Nick Laurentis have been mostly limited to the bedroom because the majority of his free time is spent as a competitor on a British reality television show. After his victory on the show, he proposes to Lucy in front of the 10 million people watching the drama unfold. Lucy is overwhelmed and rejects the proposal.  Instantly, she is public enemy number one and paparazzi prey. Lucy heads to the seaside and a friend’s cabin in an effort to escape the media firestorm. Here she meets handsome Josh, owner of nearby cabins. Josh is unaware of Lucy’s true identify and the two are instantly attracted to each other. But what about Josh’s girlfriend? And what will Josh do when he finds out who she really is?  

 

Claire Cook’s heroine Deirdre Griffin also travels to the world of reality television in Wallflower in Bloom. Deirdre has always been the unnoticed member of her family and until now she has settled for that role.  But when her brother/boss demands more of her time, she finally quits as his personal assistant.  Unfortunately, Deirdre also finds out that her boyfriend has a pregnant girlfriend on the side, and he plans to put a ring on that woman’s finger instead of Deirdre’s. What’s a wallflower to do?  Why compete on Dancing with the Stars of course!  Following Deirdre’s days in the spotlight and her humorous journey toward self-discovery is a perfect way to spend a summer day.

 

 

Maureen

 
 

Regency Fun with Two Nerdy History Girls

Scandal Wears SatinWhen You Wish Upon a DukeRomance writing legend Loretta Chase brings readers Scandal Wears Satin, the second novel in her Dressmakers series. Sophy Noirot’s family’s dressmaking business is suffering. Her sister recently caused a scandal by marrying a duke, and the mother of his former flame has decided to take her revenge by having the elite of society boycott Maison Noirot. Sophy, the family’s born salesperson/shark, must find a way to use the scandal to her advantage and bring the business back from the brink of disaster. Always resourceful, Sophy devises a plan that hinges on Lady Clara, her best customer, marrying well. When Clara runs away, Sophy steps in to help the girl’s brother the Earl of Longmore, a rake who Sophy has always considered dimwitted, find her. Sophy and Longmore fight their attraction while trying to rescue Clara. Chase has a legion of fans for a reason. Her steamy romance and excellent storytelling make her a must-read for historical romance fans.

 

Isabella Bradford, a pseudonym of historical fiction author Susan Holloway Scott, has created a new series follows the three unruly Wylder sisters who were raised in the country but are now joining London society. The series begins with When You Wish upon a Duke. Lady Charlotte Wylder is betrothed to the Duke of Marchbourne. When they finally meet, there is an instant attraction between them. Charlotte is not what March expected, and the two of them struggle as they fall in love and find their places in their marriage. When You Wish upon a Duke will leave readers anxiously awaiting the rest of the series!

 

When they are not writing fiction, both of these authors share their love of history on Two Nerdy History Girls, a blog that features all things Regency. Readers who want to know more about the historical details of the places, clothing, and society of Regency England will be delighted by their well-researched posts.

 

 

Beth

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Love is in the Air

Love is in the Air

posted by:
July 30, 2012 - 8:05am

In the BagTake two single parents, two teenagers, add a European vacation, and some misplaced luggage and you have a delightfully dreamy story: In the Bag by Kate Klise.

 

Daisy is a successful chef who just quit another restaurant. She travels to Paris to clear her head and brings along her daughter, Coco, who is getting ready to graduate from high school. Andrew is on the same flight in order to get to Madrid to oversee the installation of an art exhibit. His teenage son Webb joins him on the trip. Andrew spots Daisy on the flight and is instantly attracted to her. He slips a flirty note in her purse, gives her his email, and asks for a date. Daisy is distinctly unimpressed and fires off a scathing email rejecting Andrew’s offer.

 

Meanwhile, Webb and Coco pick up each other’s bag at the end of the flight. They find each other’s contact information and start an email dalliance. This digital friendship progresses so much that the two arrange for Webb to travel to Paris to pick up his bag and meet Coco in person. Andrew and Daisy are also set to meet the same evening when Daisy is called in as a last-minute caterer for the grand opening of Andrew’s exhibit.   

 

The story unfolds from the unique viewpoints of the four main characters and readers see just how differently men, women, parents, and children think. While working for People magazine, Klise herself was the recipient of a secret admirer note in her carry-on which gave her the spark for this fun trading places story. As a bestselling children and teen author, Klise’s adult debut is a fast-paced, humorous, and romantic gem which will leave readers waiting for a follow-up. 

 

Maureen

 
 

Arrangements Made

Arrangements Made

posted by:
July 27, 2012 - 8:00am

ArrangedBestselling Canadian author Catherine McKenzie’s second novel, Arranged, is now available in the US, and it’s one that chick lit readers will not want to miss.

Anne Shirley Blythe is named after the character from Anne of Green Gables because her mother is obsessed with the series. Anne reasons that because she is named after a romantic heroine, it’s only natural that she would want her own happily ever after. She has a lot of great things going for her. She has good friends and a loving family. She’s a successful writer who is about to have her first book published. Unfortunately, Anne has a history of disastrous relationships. She keeps getting involved with the wrong men, and she begins to see that they are a lot alike. 

 

After another failed relationship, Anne finds a business card for Blythe & Company, which she thinks is a dating service. The card simply says “arrangements made.” When her best friend gets engaged, Anne makes a momentous decision and calls the number on the card. That’s when she learns that Blythe & Company is not a dating service as she had imagined. It’s an arranged marriage service. Anne finds herself going through the process and is soon on her way to a resort in Mexico to marry a man named Jack who she will meet the day before their wedding. That’s just the beginning of the story, though. 

 

What follows is a story about learning the difference between what you think you want and what you truly need. McKenzie has a real talent for creating characters with depth. Arranged is by turns funny, honest, and heartbreaking. Just when you think you know where the story is going, a plot twist changes everything!

 

Beth

 
 

Love, Lovett, and a Hot Pink Bridesmaid Dress

Rescue MeRachel Gibson has built a reputation for writing hilarious, steamy romances. Her newest novel, Rescue Me, is no exception. 

 

Retired Navy SEAL Vince Haven is in Lovett, Texas, visiting his Aunt Luraleen. She wants to sell him the Gas and Go, the town’s convenience store/gas station, so that she can retire. Vince isn’t a guy who wants to put down roots, though. Sadie Hollowell left Lovett fifteen years ago, but she is back to be a bridesmaid in her cousin’s wedding. As if the Bubble Yum-pink bridesmaids dress isn’t bad enough, Sadie is ten years older than the rest of the bridal party, and she doesn’t have a date to the wedding. Sadie meets Vince when his truck breaks down near her father’s ranch. On a whim, she asks him to be her date to the wedding. He refuses, but he later decides to go to the wedding to even the score between them.

 

Vince and Sadie begin what they both believe will be a temporary relationship. Sadie’s elderly father is injured in an accident, and she stays in Lovett to help him get back on his feet. Vince begins work on the Gas and Go with plans to sell it, and he continues to deal with PTSD from his time in Afghanistan. As Sadie and Vince spend more time together, the boundaries of their relationship change, and they find that their temporary arrangement may not be long enough.

 

Gibson’s writing, humor, and small-town cast of characters will remind readers of Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Rescue Me is charming and laugh-out-loud funny. It makes you want to stop in to Lovett, Texas, and have a glass of sweet tea with the locals. Bless your heart!

 

Beth

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Love in a Small Town

Love in a Small Town

posted by:
July 6, 2012 - 8:30am

Sunrise PointAngel's RestCrush on YouRomances set in small towns have been a hot trend in romance publishing over the past few years. Robyn Carr’s Virgin River series has really struck a chord with readers. Her new novel, Sunrise Point, follows former Marine Tom Cavanaugh who returns to Virgin River to run his family’s orchard. He meets and befriends Nora Crane, a struggling single mother who will do whatever it takes to care for her young daughters. Tom and Nora’s friendship deepens and eventually develops into a sweet romance. Carr’s writing makes readers want to revisit the cast of characters in Virgin River again and again. With 19 books already available in the series, they can! 

 

Readers who enjoy the Virgin River series should also visit Emily March’s close-knit community of Eternity Springs. In Angel’s Rest, Nic Sullivan has built a life for herself without a man in it because she has been let down too many times in the past. Gabe Callahan retreats to an isolated home in the Colorado Rockies to grieve after a tragedy. When Gabe is at his lowest, fate intervenes, and Gabe meets a goofy brindle boxer named Clarence who quickly claims Gabe as his own. Clarence is injured, and Gabe takes him to see Nic who is the town vet. Nic begins to help Gabe move on from his loss and embrace his future.

 

Christie Ridgway’s Three Kisses trilogy also has a great small town feel. It follows the three Baci sisters who are trying to save Tanti Baci, the family’s vineyard. In Crush on You, Alessandra Baci needs TV star Penn Bennett’s help to promote the vineyard as a wedding venue in hopes that the added income will save the business. Alessandra, nicknamed the Nun of Napa, hasn’t dated since her own tragic failed trip to the altar. The chemistry between Penn and Alessandra heats up quickly, and they both have to come to terms with their pasts. The small town atmosphere is as much a character as any of the people in this sexy, funny romance. 

 

Beth

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Renovating Home and Hearts

Renovating Home and Hearts

posted by:
July 2, 2012 - 8:15am

My Stubborn HeartDebut author Becky Wade bursts onto into the world of contemporary inspirational romance with My Stubborn Heart, the love story of Kate and Matt. Kate Donovan is burned out by her job as a social worker and recent successive dating failures. Matt Jarreau is a former National Hockey League player who quit the sport when his wife died.

 

Kate’s grandmother asks for her help in renovating the old family home in Redbud, Pennsylvania. Kate doesn’t think twice and the two hit the road. Once in Redbud, they realize that this is more than a two-woman job and hire a contractor – Matt. Matt is content with his solitary existence and avoids his employers’ attempts at friendship. But he doesn’t count on the persistent nature of these women. Eventually, he yields to their dinner invitations, poker nights, and even starts sharing more of himself with Kate. Kate is drawn to his good looks and intrigued by his quiet manner and guarded demeanor.  When Kate leaves for a weekend trip, Matt realizes that he is attracted to her and actually misses her. Readers will fall in love with these two and will be rooting for them to find happiness in spite of real life obstacles.    

 

Wade surrounds the main couple with a boisterous group of seniors and places them in a charming small town setting. This tale of humor, friendship, and true love is a fresh and exciting debut. Those who enjoyed My Stubborn Heart should check out Melody Carson’s books while patiently waiting for a new Becky Wade!    

Maureen

 
 

Welcome to Spindle Cove

Welcome to Spindle Cove

posted by:
June 26, 2012 - 8:30am

A Night to SurrenderA Week to be WickedRomance author Tessa Dare is one of the most popular up-and-coming Regency romance writers today. Her feisty, educated heroines and witty banter have quickly made her a fan favorite. Dare says that her new Spindle Cove series was inspired by the militia coming to Meryton in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Spindle Cove is a fictional seaside town where rich families send their daughters who don’t fit into society for one reason or another. Life changes for everyone when a militia is raised to defend Spindle Cove.

 

The first novel in the series, A Night to Surrender, is a finalist for the 2012 RITA Award for Regency Historical Romance. Victor Bramwell, the Earl of Rycliff, is injured in battle and sent to Spindle Cove (a.k.a. Spinster Cove) to raise a militia to defend the coast. Bram wants to be anywhere else, preferably in the field of battle, but he will follow his orders here in Spindle Cove.  Susanna Finch wants to keep Spindle Cove a safe haven for intelligent, unusual women, and Bram’s militia may ruin everything. Susanna and Bram are immediately attracted to each other, but battle lines are quickly drawn as each of these two characters has so much to lose.

 

The second Spindle Cove book, A Week to Be Wicked, was recently released. Bluestocking Minerva Highwood has a proposition for Bram’s good-for- nothing cousin Colin Sandhurst, Lord Payne. The two of them will pretend to elope to Scotland, but in reality they will travel to Edinburgh to present Minerva’s fossil findings at a geological conference. When Minerva’s presentation wins the prize, Colin will receive Minerva’s winnings. The two of them end up on a crazy road-trip that changes them both forever. This novel is a hilarious, sexy romp through the countryside that will delight readers. 

 

Beth

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On Love and Fate

On Love and Fate

posted by:
June 8, 2012 - 2:01am

OverseasOverseas, the sweeping debut novel by Beatriz Williams, begins in France in 1916 where a young woman named Kate is desperately trying to contact a British soldier named Julian Ashford to warn him not to take his patrol. The novel then picks up in New York City in 2007 where Kate Wilson, a financial analyst working on Wall Street, meets Julian Laurence, a legendary young hedge fund billionaire. Their attraction is instant. As Kate falls for Julian, she begins to feel that there is more to him than meets the eye. What follows is a genre-bending novel that smoothly brings history, suspense, and time travel together in a charming love story.

 

Williams says that the story for Overseas was born when the image of a British WWI officer transported to modern Manhattan took root in her mind. How would this man deal with the modern world? How would he handle a relationship with a modern woman? In Overseas, Williams explores the answers to those questions. Fans of Susanna Kearsley and Diana Gabaldon will want to try this exciting debut.

 

Williams has had a life-long interest WWI-era British history. She says that she was fascinated by the time period long before Downton Abbey brought it to the rest of the world’s attention. She read and fell in love with Vera Brittain’s classic war memoir Testament of Youth while she was in college. Williams was intrigued by this Brittain’s experiences as a nurse and her descriptions of the harsh reality of WWI. Read more about how historical facts informed this novel here.    

Beth

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