Saturday, November 28, 2015

Aloha to Kandy Shepherd and GIFT WRAPPED IN THE WEDDING DRESS - Book Review


The billionaire's Christmas proposal … 

Billionaire Dominic Hunt's Christmas ball is a chance for hard-working party planner Andie Newman to make her name. She's intent on convincing gorgeous Dominic that decking the halls is the way to transform his brooding reputation, but he has an alternative idea—a festive proposal!

After Dominic unexpectedly helps Andie with her own emergency, she says yes! The engagement is meant to be just for show, but as Dominic and Andie are surrounded by the magic of Christmas, they find their fake feelings are becoming all too real.

You can give without loving, but you can never love without giving. ~ Author Unknown

Magazine editor turned party planner Andie Newman enters the lair of the lion, cut throat billionaire businessman Dominic Hunt, for the chance to coordinate his annual charity ball. Although she is impressed by the impeccable house (and home owner), she glimpses a vulnerable crack in Dominic's facade.

Dominic reluctantly opens his home for a charity ball to overcome his scrooge image.  After interviewing several planners with bland ideas, he is taken back by Andie's fresh perspective and lovely legs.  Dominic carries emotional baggage from his childhood ... but Andie's optimism inspires him to let go.  

Aussie author Kandy Shepherd gives readers a flirty romance laced with holiday cheer.  GIFT WRAPPED IN HER WEDDING DRESS is an ultimate escape from the pressure cooker which often accompanies the Christmas season.   Shepherd reminds readers to have fun, be kind, and take a chance of love in this sweet romance from Down Under.

I received a print copy of GIFT WRAPPED IN HER WEDDING DRESS from the author for an honest review.

I met Kandy Shepherd at the RWA Annual Conference in NYC this past summer ... so it is only fitting to giveaway RWA swag to one randomly selected commenter.  To enter the giveaway,

1.  Do you enjoy wrapping gifts ... or using gift bags?  I often volunteered for gift wrapping fundraisers at the base exchange. I enjoyed adding a special touch with bows, especially for men giving gifts to their wives, daughters, and mothers.

2.  Comments are open through Saturday, December 5, 10 pm in Baltimore.

3.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, December 6.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Learn more about Kandy and her books at

Kandy and I share a drink before the Rita awards in NYC!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Aloha to Eileen Richards and AN HONORABLE WISH

The Virgin Hero

By Eileen Richards

In book two of the series, A Lady’s Wish, I wanted my hero, Tony Matthews to be a virgin. No one knows for certain how sexually active men were in the Regency. The Georgian era was known for its promiscuity, but that didn’t mean it was natural for all men to be promiscuous.

In Tony’s case, I wanted the example to be from his memory of his parents. His father was a frequent visitor to London’s brothels. His mother died from the pox. It was the loss of his mother that drives home to Tony this need to remain a virgin.

In Historical Romances it is more common than you think to find a virgin hero. I read Untouched by Anna Campbell, The Naked Duke by Sally MacKenzie, Once Upon a Tower by Eloisa James, and Thief of Shadows by Elizabeth Hoyt.

I also read a great book by Mia Sheridan called Archer’s Voice. This was a new-to-me New Adult that was amazing.

Having both the hero and the heroine be virgins makes writing the first time together really difficult. Let’s face it sex is complicated. It’s messy and awkward, especially when neither party knows what they are doing. Add uncertainty of the other’s feelings and conflict and it makes for an interesting scene.

I love the scene in Outlander where Jamie and Claire make love for the first time. He assumed it happened like horses. The awkwardness of the whole thing was well done. He eventually gets it right, but that first time and the emotions it stirs is great to watch.

In AN HONORABLE WISH, the scene between the two virgins happens after they become engaged. This is Regency England and it wouldn’t do to have our heroine allow such liberties prior to at least being engaged.

In this excerpt from AN HONORABLE WISH, Tony is going to Juliet to finally make love to her. He’s nervous, very nervous.

Deuces, so much was hanging on this! If he ruined this, it would color his and Juliet’s whole life together. Tony took some deep breaths and cracked his neck. He felt as if he was going into the ring with Gentlemen Jackson, not about to spend precious moments with the woman who would be his wife. He looked at the naughty book on his bedside. He picked it up and tucked it into the pocket of his dressing gown.

Perhaps he’d just get her to pick something from the book. He didn’t want to guess what Juliet wanted; Tony wanted her actively involved.

He’d never been more nervous in his entire life. He blew out the candle in his room and then opened the door silently, checking to make sure that the halls were clear. The last thing he wanted was to be caught sneaking into Juliet’s room.

Tony squashed the nagging voice in his head that cautioned him to wait. He was tired of waiting. He was tired of being in pain from wanting her so badly. He was sick of having to stand behind chairs to disguise his want.

He needed Juliet.

He made his way to the other side of the house and scratched on her door, then opened it and stepped inside. The room was lit only by firelight. Juliet was in her bed. She sat up and clutched the quilt to her chest, then pushed her spectacles back onto her nose. An open book lay on the bed beside her. She must have fallen asleep reading.

Tony locked the door behind him and moved into the room. He removed his dressing gown and threw it onto the chair by the fireplace. He could hear the book drop to the floor with a thunk.

Books were everywhere — on shelves, in stacks on the floor by the chair. She wasn’t jesting about her love of reading. Tony would need to establish a proper library for Juliet in their new home.

“Tony?” she whispered. “What are you doing here?”

“I told you I would come.” He sat on the side of the bed. “You fell asleep reading?”

Juliet laughed softly. “I usually do.”

She looked so young, her braided hair hung over her shoulder, a dark rope against her white gown. Her thin nightgown had slipped off one shoulder, revealing creamy skin. Tony didn’t know where to start. “Is it all right that I am here?”

Juliet nodded, though her eyes were wide.

Have you read a great story with a virgin hero?


Tony Matthews spends his time in London’s most notorious gambling dens, frittering away his fortune. But when his latest victory leaves a man ruined, Tony knows he’s reached his lowest point. Determined to make amends, he returns home to his family’s country estate with plans to settle down and marry at last. And he hopes the lovely Juliet Townsend will help him—if only he can keep his disgrace a secret.

Juliet’s secret wish has always been for Tony to love her. The only bright spot in her dreadful London season was dancing with him—before he disappeared to the card rooms. Now, he’s returned, but has he truly changed? Or will gambling always be his mistress, even if she becomes his wife? And does Juliet dare risk her heart by finding out?

Find Eileen Richards’ latest book, AN HONORABLE WISH at these fine retailers:


Eileen Richards has been writing for most of her life. Poetry, totally inappropriate answers to essay questions in school, and interesting error codes during her 30 year IT career has prepared her for the manic world of publishing.

She writes sassy regency romps set in the small villages of England where the rules are bent a bit and gossip rules the day.

Eileen resides with her husband and their diva of a greyhound in North Carolina.

Aloha to BURNING BRIGHT - Four Chanukah Love Stories from Megan Hart, KK Hendin, Stacey Agdern, and Jennifer Gracen

This December, take a break from dreidel spinning, gelt winning, and latke eating to experience the joy of Chanukah. When you fall in love during the Festival of Lights, the world burns a whole lot brighter.

It’s definitely not love at first sight for Amanda and her cute but mysterious new neighbor, Ben. Can a Chanukah miracle show them that getting off on the wrong foot doesn’t mean they can’t walk the same road?

Lawyers in love, Shari Cohen and Evan Sonntag are happy together. But in a moment of doubt, he pushes her away-then soon realizes he made a huge mistake. To win her back, it might take something like a Chanukah miracle.

When impulsive interior designer Molly Baker-Stein barges into Jon Adelman’s apartment and his life intent on planning the best Chanukah party their building has ever seen, neither expects that together, they just might discover a Home for Hannukah.

All Tamar Jacobs expected from her Israel vacation was time to hang out with one of her besties and to act like a tourist, cheesy t-shirt and all, in her two favorite cities. She definitely was not expecting to fall for Avi Levinson, a handsome soldier who’s more than she ever dreamed.

Amazon | B & N | Google PlayiTunes | Kobo

Megan Hart is a New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of more than thirty novels, novellas and short stories. Her work has been published in almost every genre, including contemporary women’s fiction, historical romance, paranormal and erotica.

Website | FacebookTwitter | GoodReads

Jennifer Gracen hails from Long Island, New York, where she lives with her two young sons. After spending her youth writing in private and singing in public, she now only sings in her car and has fully embraced her lifelong passion for writing. She loves to write contemporary romance and romantic women’s fiction for readers who yearn for better days, authentic characters, and satisfying endings. When she isn’t taking care of her kids, doing freelance copy editing/proofreading, reading, or talking to friends on Twitter and Facebook, Jennifer writes. She’s shocked her family hasn’t yet staged an intervention for her addiction to social media. But the concerts she gives in her car and the dance parties she has in her kitchen are rumored to be fabulous.

KK Hendin writes books where people flirt awkwardly, make out, dish out a whole lot of sass and ridiculousness, and live happily ever after. She’s the author of many books, including the TWELVE BEATS IN A BAR series and the upcoming UNDERCOVER series. She also writes books as K. Hendin, where people aren’t as nice and Happily Ever After isn’t a guarantee. KK is currently writing way too many books, and is still waiting for the subway to run on a regular schedule. When she’s not playing book Tetris in an attempt to fit everything onto the bookshelves in her tiny NYC apartment, she’s probably wandering her neighborhood with her camera or drinking yet another cup of coffee.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads

Stacey Agdern is an award winning former bookseller who has reviewed romance novels in multiple formats and given talks about various aspects of the romance genre. She also a romance writer. You can find her on twitter at @nystacey. She’s a proud member of both LIRW and RWA NYC. She lives in New York, not far from her favorite hockey team’s practice facility.

Chanukah Fun with Stacey Agdern

Favorite Chanukah Memory, or tradition:

My brother holds a pretty big Chanukah party every year (he calls it Laktepalooza). It’s filled with family and friends, gingerbread houses, music and it’s centerpiece : my brother at the stove frying latkes. I’m not always able to attend, but when I do, it fills my heart with joy, even when it ends up being in March ;)

Favorite Chanukah Dish/Dessert:

Latkes of course :)

My family recipe involves applesauce (as a dipping sauce)
-6 potatoes
-3 onions (or one big one )
-2 eggs
-breadcrumbs, matzah meal (or gf alternative) to bind.
-Olive oil

Wash, cut and grate the potatoes (you can use a food processor if you have one ). The goal is thin strips that will crisp up in the oil).

Use a paper towel and get as much water out of the potatoes as possible. Squeeze ;) Then put in a bowl.

Peel and cut the onions, put them in the food processor (or grater). You want them finely chopped. Add them to the potatoes.

Break the eggs into the bowl with the potatoes and the onions. Mix.

Add the breadcrumbs or your substitute into the bowl, just enough to sop up the water that’s being released from the potatoes and the onions.

Oil in the pan; make sure the oil is on the hotter side. Test the oil with a small piece of the potato. When it sizzles, you know it’s ready.

A tablespoon of batter is usually enough.

When the oil sizzles through the latke, it’s time to turn it over. As long as the latkes are crispy on both sides, you’re good.

Recipe Transcribed from Jane Agdern 

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Thursday, November 26, 2015

Aloha to Elizabeth Hoyt and SWEETEST SCOUNDREL - Book Review



Prim, proper, and thrifty, Eve Dinwoody is all business when it comes to protecting her brother's investment. But when she agrees to control the purse strings of London's premier pleasure garden, Harte's Folly, she finds herself butting heads with an infuriating scoundrel who can't be controlled.


Bawdy and bold, Asa Makepeace doesn't have time for a penny-pinching prude like Eve. As the garden's larger-than-life owner, he's already dealing with self-centered sopranos and temperamental tenors. He's not about to let an aristocratic woman boss him around . . . no matter how enticing she is.


In spite of her lack of theatrical experience—and her fiery clashes with Asa—Eve is determined to turn Harte's Folly into a smashing success. But the harder she tries to manage the stubborn rake, the harder it is to ignore his seductive charm and raw magnetism. There's no denying the smoldering fire between them—and trying to put it out would be the greatest folly of all.

Procession of Characters from Shakespeare's Plays by an unknown artist
Public Domain (link)

No great scoundrel is ever uninteresting. - Murray Kempton

Asa Makepeace is anything but uninteresting.  He is loud and proud of Harte's Folly - a pleasure garden, theater, and opera all in one for Georgian London to enjoy.  Asa's love of theater earned him the wrath of his father and distanced him from his siblings.  Although Harte's Folly burned down (presumably in a previous book in the series), Asa has a new sponsor (and fellow scoundrel) to help rebuild - the Duke of Montgomery.

The Duke tasks his half sister, Eve Dinwoody, to manage his financial investment in Harte's Folly. Asa is aghast to be audited ... and Eve is aghast to find Asa in bed with the opera singer.  Yet Eve takes her job seriously to please her brother, the only person who cares about the mousy bastard of his father.  She is soon drawn into the theater world, taking an interest in the dancers' welfare, participating in the rehearsals, and even rescuing a mangy dog despite her fear of dogs.  Along the way, Eve appreciates Asa's passion for the arts.  She blooms into a confident woman who realizes she wants more from life than simply relying upon her brother.   
Likewise, Asa allows Eve into his cynical heart.  She inspires him to reconnect with his family (characters in previous books) and see that he can have a life other than the theater.  

SWEETEST SCOUNDREL is my first entry into the Maiden Lane series.  Somehow, I missed the previous eight books.  Still, I was able to read SWEETEST SCOUNDREL as a stand alone book - the focus is on Asa Makepeace and Eve Dinwoody.  Hoyt creates two unique characters who give readers a different perspective of the Georgian Era; its not all about the London Ton.  Asa reminds of me of Joseph Fiennes in Shakespeake in Love - his quest for theatrical perfection intersects with his growing love for Eve.  Does he have enough passion for both? Is Eve willing to share Asa with the theater world?

Hoyt adds extra drama and humor to the story with the colorful cast and tidbits about theater.  Hoyt sets SWEETEST SCOUNDREL apart from other historical romances with steamy scenes in which Asa teaches Eve about pleasure. Finally, Hoyt introduces each chapter with an excerpt from a fairy tale which symbolizes the upcoming action in SWEETEST SCOUNDREL.   This added bonus reminds me of the fairy tales Hoyt included in her debut, THE RAVEN PRINCE.   Since then, Hoyt has written 15 full length historicals.  It was a pleasure to read SWEETEST SCOUNDREL to see how Hoyt has matured as a writer and even have confidence to take a chance on extraordinary characters.

I received an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) from Forever Romance.

The Globe Theater
Public Domain (link)

Forever Romance is giving away a copy of SWEETEST SCOUNDREL to one randomly selected commenter.  To enter the giveaway,

1.  Leave a comment about the theater - do you have a favorite play, musical, or opera?

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

3.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, November 29.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Forever Romance is also hosting a tour wide giveaway at this link.

Shakespeare's Skum (link)
at the Maryland Renaissance Festival 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving with Cathy Maxwell and THE MATCH OF THE CENTURY


In New York Times bestselling author Cathy Maxwell’s glittering new series, wedding bells are ringing… until the return of a rake throws a bride’s plans— and heart—into a tailspin.

Every debutante aspires to snag a duke. Elin Morris just happens to have had one reserved since birth. But postponements of her marriage to London’s most powerful peer give Elin time to wonder how she will marry Gavin Baynton when she cannot forget his brother, Benedict.

Already exasperated at being yanked from the military to meet “family obligations,” now Ben must suffer watching his arrogant sibling squire the only woman he has ever loved. Joining the army saved Ben from sinking into bitterness, but seeing Elin again takes him back to the day they surrendered to their intoxicating desire.

As the wedding draws near, Elin tries to push Ben far from her thoughts. When danger brings them together, there is no denying their feelings. But can Elin choose love over duty…?

Amazon | B & N | Google PlayiTunes | Kobo

Check out my review of THE MATCH OF THE CENTURY at this link.

Check out Cathy's guest post about gratitude for Fox News at this link ... perfect reminder for Thanksgiving Day.

New York Times Bestselling Author Cathy Maxwell spends hours in front of her computer pondering the question, “Why do people fall in love?” It remains for her the great mystery of life and the secret to happiness. She lives in beautiful Virginia with children, horses, dogs, and cats.

Website | Facebook | TwitterGoodReads

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Avon Romance offers an excerpt from THE MATCH OF THE CENTURY ...

All of London, even down to the riffraff, already knew what the ball’s special announcement would be. There was no mystery, although the dowager Duchess of Baynton’s guests would feign surprise when the moment for the announcement arrived.

They called it the Match of the Century.

Her son, the duke of Baynton, London’s richest and unarguably most handsome gentleman, would announce his betrothal to the Miss Elin Morris, also known as Morris Heiress, thereby uniting two great fortunes and two magnificent adjoining country estates in Leicestershire along the River Trent.

And the reason everyone anticipated the “announcement” was because it was a well-known fact that Elin had been promised to the duke almost since the day of her birth. Yes, she had been presented at Court and had gone through the motions of a First Season but it had all been just a formality, a “show.” The duke was hers. She had Baynton, the epitome of a lordly lord, the Nonpareil.

“And I am not worthy of him,” Elin whispered, stopping the furious pacing she’d been at for the last ten minutes in an attempt to settle anxious nerves and a confused mind.

Her bedroom in her parent’s London house was fit for a princess. The India carpet in hues of blue was thick and soft beneath her stockinged feet. Her furniture was gilded in the opulent manner her parents preferred.

Back in Heartwood, the Morris family estate, which adjoined the Baynton’s family seat, the furniture in her room was simple and to her tastes. Here, her parents ruled. They were London creatures, darlings of society.

And Elin? Well, their only child preferred the quieter life at Heartwood. Of course, all that would change when she became Baynton’s duchess. He was too important to have his wife rusticate in the country.

She caught a glimpse of herself in her dressing table mirror, a lone figure in finely woven petticoats, her face pale beneath a mop of over-curly brown hair. Her dark eyes reflected her agitation. They threatened to swallow her face.

“It’s not that I don’t want Baynton,” she attempted to explain to her image. “It is that I shouldn’t have him. Not without telling him--”

The prequel ...

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Aloha to Lisa A. Olech and WITHIN A CAPTAIN'S HOLD


BY Lisa A. Olech

This week I am thrilled to be celebrating the release of my new novel, Within A Captain’s Hold! I’ve been hopping about through various blogs over the last few days talking about everything pirates. From women pirates to pirate movies, to what they might eat for Thanksgiving. I’ve been remiss, however. There is one topic I’ve yet to cover. RUM! Pirates were huge drinkers and rum was a definite favorite.

Life aboard ship was brutal. Sailors went hungry much of the time, and clean, drinkable water was hard to come by on long voyages. No surprise, they carried more wine and rum than water. Disease was as big a threat as the iron gibbons and the noose. Scurvy topped the list. So the men were given grog, a blend of sugar water, lime juice,… and rum.

While we think of a pirate’s treasure being gold, silver and precious jewels, one of the most popular things to plunder was liquor. Pirates were much happier and fought more fearlessly if they were ‘three-sheets to the wind.’ In fact, letting the crew sober up was a good way to start a mutiny. It was a bad day for every pirate captain when the rum ran out.

Evidently, every hour aboard a pirate ship was happy hour! But all that drunken fun did lead to some poor decision making. After a few barrels of rum, crews were known to launch full attacks on uninhabited islands. Ships were grounded on sand bars and had their hulls torn open on coral reefs. They never even considered a designated driver!

Once a crew got so angry with one of their members during a night of drinking, they tossed him overboard to drown. Unfortunately, he was the only crewmember who knew how to use a sexton. The ship sailed in circles for weeks.

While days and nights of endless drinking and carousing doesn’t appeal to me personally, in honor of the release of my debut book in the Captains of the Scarlet Night Series, I will pour myself a nice finger or two of some nice spiced rum. (You know, the one with the pirate on the label!) Maybe I’ll pretend for just a moment that I’m behind the wheel of my own pirate sloop with the sun on my face and the wind at my back. I’ll raise my glass and quote Captain Jack Sparrow, “Now…pour the rum and show me that horizon.” 

Pirate flag from Indonesia's tall ship (link)

Captain Jaxon Steele is a tall, sun-bronzed, fierce-fighting Pirate King. He and the notorious crew of the Scarlet Night are both feared and respected for their ruthless reputation. The Captain’s only love is the open sea and the ship he calls home. When it comes to women, he has three rules: never sleep with another’s wife, don’t take virgins into bed, and most importantly, never bring a woman aboard—that brings the worst luck of all.

Annalise Gatherone has to leave London—tonight! Usually her only concern is the color of her latest gown, but now she’s choosing between life and death. Desperate to escape the clutches of an evil Duke, she stows away aboard the Scarlet Night, hoping she’s bound for Port St. Maria. Winning Captain Jaxon’s affections, she just might sneak by unharmed. But when her plans are altered in ways she never imagined, she must batten down the hatches for a journey into unknown waters…

Barnes and Noble 

Lisa is an artist/writer living in her dream house nestled among the lakes in New England. She loves getting lost in a steamy book, finding the perfect pair of sexy shoes, and hearing the laughter of her men. Being an estrogen island in a sea of testosterone makes her queen. She believes in ghosts, silver linings, the power of a man in a tuxedo, and happy endings.

Author’s photo courtesy of Jenny Sinclair Photography.


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Monday, November 23, 2015

Aloha to Mingmei Yip and THE WITCH'S MARKET


Escape to the Canary Islands with a Chinese-American assistant professor who seeks the scholarly study of magic ...

From the author of Secret of a Thousand Beauties and Peach Blossom Pavilion comes a beautifully written novel of self-discovery and intrigue.

Chinese-American assistant professor Eileen Chen specializes in folk religion at her San Francisco college. Though her grandmother made her living as a shamaness, Eileen publicly dismisses witchcraft as mere superstition. Yet privately, the subject intrigues her.

When a research project takes her to the Canary Islands—long rumored to be home to real witches—Eileen is struck by the lush beauty of Tenerife and its blend of Spanish and Moroccan culture. A stranger invites her to a local market where women sell amulets, charms, and love spells. Gradually Eileen immerses herself in her exotic surroundings, finding romance with a handsome young furniture maker. But as she learns more about the lives of these self-proclaimed witches, Eileen must choose how much trust to place in this new and seductive world, where love, greed, and vengeance can be as powerful, or as destructive, as any magic. 

Mingmei Yip is a polymath (Greek for having learned much),

Mingmei Yip was born in China, received her Ph.D. from the University of Paris, Sorbonne, and held faculty appointments at the Chinese University and Baptist University in Hong Kong. She's published five books in Chinese, written several columns for seven major Hong Kong newspapers, and has appeared on over forty TV and radio programs in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Mainland China, and the U.S. She immigrated to the United States in 1992, where she now lives in New York City.

Learn more about Mingmei and her books at

San Cristóbal de La Laguna in 1880 (Tenerife)
Public Domain (link)

I chatted with Mingmei at the RWA National Convention in NYC this past summer ... so I am giving away RWA swag to one randomly selected commenter.  To enter the giveaway,

1.  Leave a comment about your favorite market - flea market, farmer's market, etc.  Of course mine is the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet (link).
2.  Comments are open through Saturday, November 28, 10 pm in Baltimore.

3.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, November 29.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Aloha Stadium Swap Meet