Contemporaries to covet in August – & giveaway!

Those of you who’ve been following this blog for a while know that every month I tell you which contemporary romance novels I’m looking forward to, and I ask which new releases you can’t wait to read.

I’ll randomly choose one commenter to win a $10 gift certificate for herself AND for the contemporary romance author she recommends. More details on that below.

Ready, Freddy? Here are the August contemporary releases I can’t wait to read!

Close Enough to Touch by Victoria Dahl

Can a city girl make it in the wild, wild West?

Close Enough to TouchFor makeup artist Grace Barrett, Hollywood isn’t the land of golden opportunity. It’s the land of difficult divas, cheating boyfriends and unemployment. So when her great-aunt offers her a free place to stay in Jackson, Grace thinks she’ll spend a little time in the sticks to figure out her life, and then move somewhere exciting to live out her dreams. But it turns out that there are a few more thrills in this small town than Grace was expecting….

Cole Rawlins is a rugged Wyoming cowboy born and bred. Yet he can’t help but be drawn to the fascinating big-city girl who moves in across from him. He wants to get close enough to Grace to see past her tough facade, but if he does, she might see the real Cole. The one with a Hollywood history gone bad. As they discover a sizzling attraction, it becomes harder for him to keep his demons at bay-and those fires from long ago may burn them both.

They’ll need more than scorching-hot passion to make this opposites-attract affair work. But if they can learn to trust one another enough to reveal their secrets, they just might have a chance at forever.

My two cents

Victoria Dahl’s got a new series out! Victoria Dahl’s got a new series out! AAAAHHH!!!

In case it’s not clear, I LOVE Victoria Dahl. Her contemporary romance is just the right mix of funny and hot. Close Enough to Touch is the start of a new contemporary series set in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and I can’t wait to read it.

Release date: August 28, 2012

Read an excerpt of Close Enough to Touch
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Interview with Laura Kaye – & giveaway!

Laura KayeI’ve followed Laura Kaye on Twitter for a long time, and when her first contemporary romance novel HER FORBIDDEN HERO came out I snapped it up! I loved the story of a soldier who returns from war a changed man, and the woman who helps him feel like a hero again.

Laura’s a bestselling and prolific writer, and I’m so happy to have her here today. Welcome, Laura!

Thanks! I’m really glad to be here!

1. I love hearing newish authors’ success stories. Can you tell us the story of how you got published?

Forever FreedI’ve been a writer my whole life, of non-fiction, but it wasn’t until four years ago, as I healed from a head injury and felt a new creative streak, that I decided to try my hand at fiction writing. I wrote my first book in three months, but had no idea what I was doing, really.

So, it took me a year of revising, usually after a round of unsuccessful queries to agents (I would get a lot of requests, but no takers). And then I decided to query e-publishers, and the first one said yes! That’s the publication story of my vampire romance, Forever Freed.

Within two months, I’d written and sold my second book to the same publisher, my contemporary novella, Hearts in Darkness.

2. It’s incredible that you started writing because you were recovering from a head injury. Did you write to help you deal with the recovery process, or was it more a feeling that you wanted to grasp opportunities and fulfill your dreams?

Hearts in DarknessNeither, really. The neurologist described it this way: when you have a brain injury, the brain re-routes neural networks around the injured tissue, and when that happens, sometimes previously unused/underused portions of the brain are “activated,” which is why traumatic brain juries can result in personality changes, liking foods you previously hated, and new talents/interests.

That was the case with me. I had a distinct urge to be creative—I bought a guitar and started taking lessons, and I started writing. And now it’s just a part of me.

I will say, though, that I had a feeling of wanting to live life to its fullest, to do and try everything, so that was a part of it, too.

3. Aside from contemporary romance, you also write paranormal, fantasy and erotic romance. If you had to describe your style in each of these genres to someone who’s never read your work before, what three words would you choose?

Hot, heartfelt, character-driven would apply to all – while I write in different romantic sub-genres, I believe there’s a lot that ties my writing together despite which one a particular book falls under.

West of Want4. Your muse seems to span all of the romance genres other than historical – ironic, since you’re a historian. If you were going to write a historical, which time and place would you set it in and why?

LOL I am writing a historical – straight historical fiction, not historical romance. Actually, I’m co-authoring it, and we’re writing in my area of expertise – early America. This particular story, which I’m not quite ready to talk about yet, is set in late 18th/early 19th century America and France.

5. Her Forbidden Hero features a woman who’s been in love with her big brother’s best friend for years. When will her big brother Brady get his own story, and can you tell us anything about it?

I can! I’m writing Brady’s story right now! It’s tentatively slated for an early fall release! I’m so excited about that, too! And you’ll get more Marco and Alyssa in Brady’s book…

Giveaway!

Laura’s giving away an ebook of Her Forbidden Hero to one lucky commenter. I’ll randomly choose a winner on Tuesday July 31st. Good luck!

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Triple review: Lucky in Love / At Last / Forever and a Day by Jill Shalvis

The tagline on Jill Shalvis’s website currently says: “Spend the summer in Lucky Harbor.”

I couldn’t draw out the pleasure that long. I had to devour all three of her latest Lucky Harbor novels in one week.

And now I’m jonesing for another hit. Bad. C’mon, Jill Shalvis! Gimme another Lucky Harbor novel, STAT!

So instead of posting a review a week over the next three weeks, I thought I’d give all three reviews to you at once. Because I obviously have self-control issues when it comes to Jill Shalvis’s books.

Lucky in Love

Lucky in LoveE.R. nurse Mallory Quinn has a terminal case of goodgirl-itis. She grew up in Lucky Harbor, in a family so chaotic that she thought she had to be perfect in order to keep everyone together. But that means she’s always played it safe, and now has a reputation for being selfless that she can’t shake.

Bad boy Ty Garrison is recovering from an injury that derailed his career, and from the loss of his closest friends when he was a Navy SEAL medic. He couldn’t save them, and now he thinks of himself as someone who can’t be relied on in a crisis. But he’s drawn to Mallory Quinn like a moth to a flame, and as much as he tries to protect her from falling in love with him, he can’t keep his own heart from taking a tumble.

I’ve been looking forward to Lucky in Love since I read an excerpt nearly a year ago, and the novel was everything I’d hoped it would be and then some. Of the three heroines, Mallory is the one I could relate to the most. She’s spent her life putting other people’s wishes first and trying not to let people down. When she finally realizes that she’s letting herself down, she tries to have a casual relationship with Ty – but soon figures out she can’t divorce her heart from her body.

Jill Shalvis is a master at creating characters with instant, undeniable attraction. Ty and Mallory completely burn up the pages as they fall in love.

Lucky in Love introduces the reader to all six of the characters who couple-up over these three novels. The three heroines – Mallory, Amy and Grace – bond during a moment of crisis and continue to support each other through life’s heartaches and joys. Their friendship throughout the series is just as addictive as their love stories and the chocolate they devour whenever they meet.

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Contemporaries to covet in July – & giveaway!

Hands up if you can’t believe it’s July already. *raises hand*

June seemed to speed by in the blink of an eye. Very soon it’ll be time to go to RWA Nationals in Anaheim – anyone else going to be there?

Those of you who’ve been following this blog for a while know that every month I tell you which contemporary romance novels I’m looking forward to, and I ask which new releases you can’t wait to read.

I’ll randomly choose one commenter to win a $10 gift certificate for herself AND for the contemporary romance author she recommends. More details on that below.

Ready? Here are the July releases I’m loving!

Forever and a Day by Jill Shalvis

LOVE CAN HAPPEN IN A HEARTBEAT

Forever and a DayGrace never thought she’d be starting her life over from scratch. Losing everything has landed her in Lucky Harbor, working as a dog walker for overwhelmed ER doctor Josh Scott. But the day his nanny fails to show up, Grace goes from caring for Josh’s lovable mutt to caring for his rambunctious son. Soon Grace is playing house with the sexy single dad…

With so many people depending on him, Josh has no time for anything outside of his clinic and family-until Grace arrives in town. Now this brainy blonde is turning his life inside out and giving a whole new meaning to the phrase “good bedside manner.” Josh and Grace don’t know if what they have can last. But in a town like Lucky Harbor, a lifetime of love starts with just one day…

My two cents

I had a truly wonderful week reading all three of Jill Shalvis’s latest Lucky Harbor novels, including an advance copy of Forever and a Day from NetGalley. I’ll post my review of all three on Thursday, but I can tell you now that all three books are contenders for my personal Best Contemporary Romance of the Year. Forever and a Day is funny, gripping, and poignant. I couldn’t put it down.

Release date: July 31, 2012

Read an excerpt of Forever and a Day
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Review: Her Forbidden Hero by Laura Kaye

Her Forbidden Hero by Laura Kaye

Rating: 4.5 stars

Her Forbidden HeroAlyssa Scott returns home from college with only a car and a couple of pennies to her name. With her brother serving in the Special Forces abroad God knows where, and her abusive alcoholic father not someone she can turn to, she decides to apply for a job at a local bar/live music joint. It helps that Marco Vieri – her brother’s best friend and the man she’s had a crush on since childhood – is a bartender there.

Marco Vieri is former Army Special Forces – former because he was injured in Afghanistan in ways that go beyond physical damage. He’s completely changed, and when all-grown-up Alyssa gets a job working in his bar, he’s terrified. He no longer trusts his ability to take care of anyone the way he used to protect Alyssa from her father, and he doesn’t trust himself not to make a move on his best friend’s little sister.

Her Forbidden Hero is the first Laura Kaye novel I’ve read. In fact, it’s the first novel I’ve read by Entangled Publishing, and I thought it was fantastic.

The characters and the story are very realistic. The story never veers into melodrama, instead focusing on building trust between Alyssa and Marco through their sacrifices for each other – which start out small and build into bigger moments requiring them to lean heavily on each other.

There are so many poignant moments, but this was one of my favorites, when Marco realizes he wants to pursue a relationship with Alyssa but he’s hurt her too many times for her to believe it:
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