Interview with Loretta Chase – & giveaway!

Loretta ChaseLoretta Chase is one of romance’s best-loved authors. Her sensuous, brilliantly researched historical romance novels have earned her dozens of accolades—including New York Times and USA Today bestselling author and RITA winner. She’s one of my all-time favorite authors and I’m beyond pleased to welcome her here today. Welcome, Loretta!

LC: Thank you! I’m delighted to be here.

1. On your website, you mention that your husband encouraged you to start writing novels. Could you tell us a bit more about what made you switch from writing corporate video scripts to romance novels? Even though they’re both forms of writing, it seems like a big shift and a big risk to take.

LC: I’d always wanted to write a book and had attempted to, but it was like On the Road, in the sense that it spooled on endlessly and should have been written on a big roll of paper, too. This was because, despite all the mountains of books I’d read and courses in English literature I’d taken, I didn’t know how to structure a story.

But a few years’ writing video scripts gave me useful skills, like how to tell a story within given boundaries, how to find the message and stay focused on it, and so on. I had to make boring topics (diamond drill bits, safety-equipment fit testing) interesting. Dialogue I already had a handle on, but video challenged me to pack a lot into a few words. Finally, working for corporate clients gave me a sense of how a company operates, which cured my “I’m an artiste” mind set. In a nutshell, I learned professionalism.

So the dream was always there, but video provided experience and discipline and confidence—and my husband, who had more faith in me than I had in myself, urged me to follow my dream.

Lord of Scoundrels2. That’s so sweet—and I know we’re all glad he did that! In 1995, your novel Lord of Scoundrels was published, and it’s regularly topped lists of best-loved romance novels ever since. It’s one of the books I recommend to people who are curious about romance. Could you tell that it would be a special book as you were writing it? How do you feel about it now?

LC: I knew it was a strong book when I wrote it. Both Dain and Jessica took hold of my imagination with extreme ferocity, and that made it feel as though the story was there—in my brain and my heart—just needing to be written. It was a rare situation, for me, of seeing the movie running in my head, every single day as I sat down to work. Every book is a different experience, and some flow more smoothly or swiftly than others, but that one had an unusually powerful engine. I still think it’s a strong book and I’m proud of it. But I will admit, I never expected it to last so long and continue to be received with so much affection.

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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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Review: Thief of Shadows by Elizabeth Hoyt

Thief of Shadows by Elizabeth Hoyt

My rating: 4.5 stars
Heat: Scorching 

Thief of ShadowsWinter Makepeace is a man with many secrets. The one thing everyone knows is that he’s a serious, somewhat dour manager of the foundling orphanage his late father founded. He works himself ragged taking care of 18th century St. Giles’ most vulnerable residents, children who would be sold or kidnapped into slavery and suffer all manner of unspeakable abuses if Winter didn’t rescue them.

Talk about a hero.

But Winter’s foundling home is funded by a group of well-to-do ladies with more experience of fashion than survival. And when one of them decides that the home needs a more polished manager, the widowed Lady Isabel steps in to educate Winter in manners, so he won’t be removed from his post. Turns out that Winter has a thing or two he can educate Lady Isabel about, too.

I only read my first Elizabeth Hoyt novel last week, and I was immediately drawn in to the Maiden Lane series (of which Thief of Shadows is the fourth book). Since I didn’t have books two and three on my Kindle when I finished book one, I immediately opened my ARC of Thief of Shadows and spent another day in Elizabeth Hoyt’s dark and dangerous St. Giles.

Thief of Shadows contains spoilers that would ruin the first three books of the series, since there’s a mystery that runs though them all, so I’ll be quite vague in what I reveal.

One of the many things I loved about Thief of Shadows is how the class difference between Lady Isabel and Winter Makepeace (son of a brewer, and with many Puritan tendencies) plays out. Winter knows there are more important things in life than ensuring your bow is low enough, but for the most part he doesn’t fault Isabel for the world she comes from. It’s not a world he’s interested in fitting into, and when he falls in love with her he wants her to join his own world.

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Contemporaries to covet in May – and giveaway!

Ahh, May! When Spring finally arrives and so does a boatload of great romance!

You know the drill. Every month I tell you about the contemporary romance novels coming out that I’m most looking forward to. One person who leaves a comment will win a $10 gift certificate for herself AND for the contemporary romance author she mentions. Details are below, but first, here are the books that’re rocking my world this month.

Somebody to Love by Kristan Higgins

Somebody to LoveAfter her father loses the family fortune in an insider-trading scheme, single mom Parker Welles is faced with some hard decisions. First order of business: go to Gideon’s Cove, Maine, to sell the only thing she now owns—a decrepit house in need of some serious flipping. When her father’s wingman, James Cahill, asks to go with her, she’s not thrilled…even if he is fairly gorgeous and knows his way around a toolbox.

Having to fend for herself for the first time in her life, Parker signs on as a florist’s assistant and starts to find out who she really is. Maybe James isn’t the glib lawyer she always thought he was. And maybe the house isn’t the only thing that needs a little TLC…

Read an excerpt

My two cents

This is a bit of a cheat, because Somebody to Love actually came out at the end of April, but I swear that when I downloaded my advance review copy at NetGalley, it said it was coming out on May 1st.

Somebody to Love is one of the best romance novels I’ve ever read. You can read my review – or, even better, go buy the book because it’s absolutely perfect.

Buy it on
Buy it at Barnes & Noble

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My favorite quality in a romance novel

I went to an extremely small high school. There were only 46 students in my graduating class (36 girls and 13 boys – yep, pretty crappy odds for a chubby girl with a feathered mullet).

I babysat for my vice principal and our English teacher acted as a chaperone at one of my friend’s sleepovers.

I tell you this so it won’t seem strange that I remember my class getting into a personal conversation with one of my teachers in which we asked him about the women he’d dated before meeting his wife. And I remember how flabbergasted we all were when he shrugged and admitted, “I probably could’ve been happily married to any one of them.”

Shock horror!

We were incensed that he could believe such a thing. Surely marriage was about finding that one person you couldn’t live without, the one who made your life immeasurably better.

Fifteen years later, I still believe wholeheartedly that romantic love is about finding that one person who fulfills you, understands you, and (to borrow a cliche) completes you like no one else.

No. One. Else.

Strangely, it’s taken me twenty years of reading romance to realize that that’s my favorite quality in a romance novel. I want characters who are incomplete without each other.

And even more strangely, I’ve read a lot of romance novels where I just don’t feel this between the characters. These are the books that leave me feeling ‘meh’. But when an author creates characters who fit together like no one else…

that is a book that I’ll read over and over.

What’s your favorite quality in a romance novel? Do you believe it’s possible in real life to find the one person who fulfills you better than anyone else, or is there more than one possible “love of your life” out there?