Monday, January 31, 2011

Bella and the Merciless Sheikh - Sarah Morgan

Sarah Morgan has yet again provided this reader with a most magnificent read. In fact I personally enjoyed it so much, I read it twice!

Bella Balfour intrigued me as she hid so many hurts. As we've learned in previous The Balfour Legacy series, their father Oscar holds a charity ball every year and it seems each one has some sort of press coverage of a new family scandal. Behind the scenes, Bella who is known for her beauty and being a party girl and her Olivia were locked in a battle over a shocking discovery and it was revealed concerning their sister Zoe. So their father like he has done in the past sent Bella away to a quite retreat in the desert to think about her behavior and how she could turn her life around.

Feisty Bella had noticed the stables across from the retreat and slipped away. She found a lovely mare and as she in her youth was an experienced horsewoman, she decided to take the mare to go into the city because she was going crazy at the retreat with no cell phone, Internet, etc. Once there she would leave the mare. However, she got lost and thought she would die in desert alone.

Sheikh Zafiq was an amazing man and head of his country, Al-Rafid. He was a strong and proud ruler, loved his country and his journey once a year to find peace and meditation. He was devoted to his siblings and had raised them He at times, felt the burden of raising them plus the burden of his country so he was looking forward to his five days alone in the desert, with no one, not even his guards. You can well imagine when he found his prize mare and a beautiful young Bella lost, dehydrated and sunburned in the desert, he was furious.

Bella and Zafiq's time in the desert began on a extremely rocky note and then after he nursed her back to health, the sparing began and then the sexual tension. They have five days to get to know each other and their time and romancing you absolutely will not want to miss. Their attraction was as intense as the hot desert sun and Bella fell in love. Zafiq, well let's just say duty came first. He was determined not to be like his father and be weak and fall in love with a beautiful, spoilt and pampered woman. Bella shared with him so much of her life in England and her family and he knew he was duty bound to his country to find respectable wife and mother for his heir so he needed to say goodbye upon their return to Al-Rafid and send her home to England.

Bella didn't want to go home because she felt two things; 1) her sisters were still angry with her and 2) every time her father looked at her she reminded him of her mother's betrayal.

She also new the mare she had stolen, his prized mare was the prize in an upcoming race. Zafiq's marvelous horse favored to win. However, if he did not, then the sheikh stood to loose his mare. She begged him to stay and promised if he gave her a chance, she would work in his stables, anything not to have to go home and face her family. I so admired how Bella handled herself with the grooms and horses. How hard and long she worked and because of her love for this proud man she was willing to sacrifice her safety. It was brilliantly written and so many lessons for all reading Bella's Disgrace.

Oscar Balfour had many family rules and I think Bella learned a few under the desert sun which were dignity, courage, loyalty and commitment traits any man could love. However, she most importantly learned about sacrifice because that was what she was willing to do for the man she loved even if it meant sacrificing herself or injury.

Behind the Book:

"When I was first invited to contribute to the Balfour Bride series, I was thrilled. As I waited nervously for the brief to arrive, I hoped that my Balfour sister would be someone ‘real’ – someone whose journey would be absorbing and emotional. Right from the first moment I read Bella’s story I was excited, and that excitement stayed with me all the way through the writing of the manuscript. Bella was definitely flawed. She was also complex and sometimes spoiled, but I sensed immediately how vulnerable she was underneath all that attitude and how much of her ‘image’ had been developed as a defence mechanism.  Spoiled Bella became humble Bella and then bold, brave Bella.  I loved her (Go Bella!), and I hope you love her too'.....Sarah's post at I(Heart)Presents

Sarah's post at Tote Bags n' Blogs

Back Blurb:

Sheikh Zafiq Al-Rashid is furious when his week of solitude is interrupted by Bella Balfour, lost in the desert! While his fierce honor demands he rescue her, the willful heiress is a little less grateful than he'd expected. Zafiq is tempted to leave the spoiled socialite wandering the wilderness…but where would be the challenge in that?

He's powerful enough to tame the rebellious beauty. However, when they depart from the seclusion of the oasis, will Zafiq leave the memory of the fiery passion behind or announce to his kingdom that he is taking a queen?


Amnesiac Ex, Unforgettable Vows by Robyn Grady was a very moving love story with two extremely likeable characters, Bishop and Laura.

Their courtship with swift and fast and they both fell head over heels in love with each other. As Grace, Laura’s sister said had they taken more time and not rushed into their marriage maybe things would have turned out differently. Had Bishop been able to understand that Laura’s heart condition didn’t diminish her need to have a child and not adopt one. Had they both been able to talk after the baby they conceived resulted in a miscarriage. It was all so easy to walk away from each other ending their marriage with a divorce.

Now Bishop was back in Laura’s life because she had an accidental fall and was suffering from amnesia. As her sister told him, maybe they would get a second chance and love one another again. It was such a touching story line and it was one of those love stories that at times was hard to read. As for Laura, she didn’t remember loosing the baby and she thought they had only been married a few months. For Samuel Bishop, it was shear torment because his feelings for Laura were both physical and personal. It was obvious he still desired and loved her after the weeks tending to her needs and moving back into the home he built for her. It was like walking on egg shells, wondering when she would remember, trying to turn away her touches and kisses, trying so hard not to make love to her; it drove him crazy.

After days of resisting his ex’s flirtations plus the tension of trying to decide if he should sell his business, he finally gave in and took some time off to spend with Laura. All she could talk about was creating a baby together, wanting her own child and not to adopt one and couldn’t understand Bishop’s resistance. And then, finally Bishop gave in, he couldn’t resist anymore and no matter what the consequences, he realized he wanted that child and Laura. He realized he loved her! Of course she knew he was worried something could or might happen to her and/or the baby. But she didn’t understand his behaviour until after a couple of weeks later part of her memory returned.

I wondered if they could get their second chance, clear the air, talk out why their marriage ended the first time. It had to workout because they both loved each other. But would it be enough? Because no matter how well they suited each other, there would always be the past between them.

Amnesiac Ex, Unforgettable Vows took place in Australia with the final scene taking place on New Years Eve, with the opera house, bridge and fireworks in the background. But those weren’t the only fireworks because after Bishop’s friend encouraged him to talk to Laura again, make her understand how much she meant to him, they had a lot to celebrate in the end. They got their happy ending and so much more thanks to the very talented Robyn Grady.

Back Blurb:

The last woman Samuel Bishop expected to have in his arms was his ex-wife. Left with amnesia from an accident, Laura had no memory of their bitter divorce. In her mind, she and the business tycoon were still newlyweds. With her ready to pick up where she thought their scorching-hot marriage had left off, he couldn't turn her down.

But soon Bishop realized he was playing with fire. He wanted to reclaim the wedded bliss this Laura had shown him, but what would happen when her memory returned?

And what would happen if it didn't?

Saturday, January 29, 2011

THE BRIDE THIEF - Jennie Lucas

The Bride Thief was a powerfully written and extremely emotional romance. Their journey was a difficult one but in the end so worth all of the pain they went through to get their happy ending.

In Sensible Housekeeper, Scandalously Pregnant one was introduced to another ruthless billionaire from Argentina, Rafael Cruz and he went after what he wanted and that was his virgin housekeeper. At Rafael's birthday party, another ruthless billionaire was in attendance, Greek billionaire Xerxes Novros who also owned many properties and several private islands. In fact, he let Rafael and his mistress stay on one of them for awhile.

The Bride Thief was Xerxes and Rose’s story and oh what a ruthless and determined man this Greek alpha was and a man with a plan and agenda. He was determined to rescue a young, Laetitia, a woman from his past who was believed to be in a coma and she was married to Baron Lars Vaxborg from Sweden who actually wanted her dead so he could have Rose. Lars met Rose Linden in San Francisco and was determined to marry her; so much so, he rushed her to make a decision to marry and flew her entire family, siblings and all to his castle for the wedding. Now Rose was married and scared because she wondered if she’d made a mistake. She wandered outside, was kidnapped by the Greek billionaire Xerxes and taken to his private island in Greece.

Talk about being scared because Rose didn’t understand the situation and Xerxes believed her to be in on the fake marriage to Lars. It took a few days to determine that she had no idea about Laetitia. On top of that he was angry with himself because after touching her, kissing her, trying to torment her, he was angry with himself. Why? Because she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen, he wanted and desired her. On top of that, he had made the call to Lars to make a trade…..Rose for Laetitia. He was a man of his word and he would definitely not go back on his word. However, they moved from the private island to three other destinations because his security team had sightings of Laetitia. Rose thought they were moving due to Xerxes business but that was not the truth. It all became so complicated for both of them…..the attraction, the emotions and being a man of his word, Rose would have to ask him to kiss her because he promised her back in Greece he would only do so if she asked. However, there was one thing for sure, Rose knew from what he told her, he needed no one, didn’t do relationships and would never love nor marry.

Xerxes knew one thing for sure…….she made him feel at home and she was such a generous person, always doing things for others, especially her family. As she once told him “a life without faith, , without being brave enough to risk loving someone and be loved in return, was no life at all.” While reading this incredible love story I could feel Xerxes soften, knew he had a past and secrets because he would not tell Rose whom or why Laetitia was important to him. Quite honestly, his secrets were shocking and I wondered and then understood why this proud Greek shielded his heart.

The ending of The Bridal Thief was quite shocking; from the trading of Rose for Laetitia due to the fact Lars divorced his first wife so he could have her back in his life. Then the brutal kidnapping of Rose by Lars, to Xerxes revealing his and Laetitia’s past……it was quite moving. This stubborn and honorable man had a lot of things to overcome before he could give them their happy ever after but he did so with such flourish and style giving this couple hope, love and making their dreams come true.

I love connected stories and Sensible Housekeeper, Scandalously Pregnant and The Bride Thief were such amazing and sensual reads. I just knew Xerxes had to have a story like his ruthless billionaire rival and it was so worth waiting for and then some. Plus the fact that both of the heroines were such accepting, understanding and patient women.

Book Description::

If anyone here present knows of a reason why this marriage may not lawfully take place, please declare it now...

Xerxes Novros is about to do more than just voice his reasons why Rose's marriage should be stopped... He's going to steal this beautiful wife-to-be and whisk her away to his private Greek island!

Now the kidnapped virgin bride has a choice... or does she? Xerxes certainly knows what he wants – he's determined to give Rose the wedding night she's been denied...

Behind the book:

Jennie's post at I(Heart)Presents

Jennie Lucas website

For two chances to win a copy of The Bride Thief tell me about someone you know who would go to the lengths to savc a family memberlike Xerxes did and/or in Rose's case a family business.
Don't for get to leave your email address.  Winners will be announced March 1st.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Book Blogger Hop January 28 thru 31, 2011

This week's question comes from Aliyah who blogs at Des Absurdités:\

"What book are you most looking forward to seeing published in 2011? Why are you anticipating that book?"

To Win a $10 Amazon card, all you have to do is answer the above question and leave your email address.

I can't just mention one because I'm so loving Susan Mallery's Fools Gold series.  So coming in 2011 are three new books in the series.  Only Mine (Aug 2011), Only Yours (Sept 2011) and Only His (Oct 2011).

For more on the Fools Gold Series

Monday, January 24, 2011

Brenda Novak's Jr. Diabetes Auction

Brenda and her son Tad

Brenda Novak's Jr. Diabetes Auction is in May.  Great auction items, books, trips, art and on and on.

I met Brenda in Seattle years ago and she told me about her son having Jr. Diabetes and I immediately volunteered to bet the buzz out, donated items and for the past couple of years, I've been be a team captain (Pacific Northwest Authors section and The Pink Heart Society section).

Authors if you have autographed books, want to give a critique?  Book bloggers.....offer an interview or review.  Readers of romance, donate an item?  If so, please contact Brenda's assistant Anna with your items.

About the Jr. Diabetes Auction

Donate an item

About diabetes

Go straight to the auction

2011 Auction Author spotlight

Bloggiesta Ole - Marilyn's Romance Reviews

I found this am while trying to contact some of the winners on my other blogs that some emails are bouncing.  Hopefully, I can reach all of you.  Just in case, my email is  If you receive an email or see your name posted here please do the following.  Identify yourself and your email, the prize I've said you've won, your name, address, etc.  If you've won an Amazon card, I will need your home phone as well.  Thanks to all who commented and/or followed this blog.

Susan Mallery's Cooking Blog - Barnes and Noble Card - Linda Henderson

The Pink Heart Society - Amazon card - Lois

Debbie Macomber Book - Linda Henderson

Lori Foster Post - Amazon card - Leagh, you're the winner.  Besides your address, I'll need your phone #

Susan Wiggs post - Starbuck's card - Modokker, you're the winner!

Linda Ford - Dakot's Child - Laney and Linda......the winners!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Thanks for Attending Bloggiesta Ole

Thanks to all of you who stopped by this weekend and commented, I so appreciated all of your support.  This was my first blog challenge and I enjoyed it so much.  Don't forget to check back tomorrow in the afternoon, to see if you are a winner.

ProLiteracy recognizes Nora Roberts’ support for its adult literacy programs - National Nora Roberts

Nora Roberts, along with real estate agent and investor Bonnie Pfeifer Evans and the Romance Writers of America, were singled out for special praise on ProLiteracy’s website this week. ProLiteracy, which focuses on teaching adults to read, write, compute and become computer literate, has long been a major recipient of funds from the Nora Roberts Foundation.

“Through her foundation, Nora is a major ProLiteracy supporter, helping us transform lives and communities through adult literacy,” the organization acknowledged. ProLiteracy also noted Roberts’ recent designation by The Giving Back Fund as the second most generous celebrity donor to charities.

ProLiteracy also lauded the Romance Writers of America (RWA), a professional society with which Roberts is associated. According to ProLiteracy, the RWA has donated $670,000 since 1990 through its annual Readers for Life Literacy Autographing, a key feature of each annual RWA conference.

ProLiteracy acknowledged the contributions of Bonnie Pfeifer Evans as well. Evans, who was profiled in the Nov. 9, 2010 issue of the Wall Street Journal, set up ProLiteracy’s Charles Evans Book Fund to provide literacy and other educational programs to homeless adults and families.

David C. Harvey, ProLiteracy President and CEO remarked, "We are privileged that Ms. Pfeifer Evans and Ms. Roberts have taken such a strong interest in adult literacy and are happy to see their work and philanthropy recognized in this way. We are also pleased to read about Romance Writers of America in the New York Times. This organization has been a wonderful ProLiteracy supporter and literacy advocate, and many RWA authors are literacy volunteers in programs across the country."

Continue reading on ProLiteracy recognizes Nora Roberts’ support for its adult literacy programs - National Nora Roberts


New York Times Best Selling Author Susan Mallery and her "Foodie" Blog

Romance and New York Times Best Selling author Susan Mallery has a "foodie blog" Susan Mallery Cooks.  One of my favorite shrimp dishes came from her blog.  Check out the glass; isn't that a fun way to serve this.  How about for Cinco de Mayo?
Shrimp Margaritas 1 lb shrimp Tequila-lime marinade (recipe below) 2 T honey ¼ C crushed tortilla chips 4 C shredded lettuce 2 T fresh cilantro, minced 1 carrot, shredded 2 green onions, sliced 2 oz pepper jack cheese, cut into ¼-inch chunks 1 avocado, chopped Salsa, store bought or homemade Marinate the shrimp in the refrigerator for 2-4 hours. Drizzle the honey into a circle the size of the rim of four large margarita glasses. Swoosh the glass around in the honey, then swoosh it around in the crushed tortilla chips. Set aside. Preheat the oven to broiling (500 degrees). Toss the lettuce, cilantro, and carrots and divide equally into the four glasses. Top with onions, cheese, and avocado. Drain the shrimp and place on the rack of a broiling pan. Broil for 2 minutes on each side. Divide the shrimp equally into the four margarita glasses. Top with salsa and serve. Tequila-Lime Marinade ½ C tequila Juice of one lime 1 T honey 1 T water 2 T fresh cilantro, minced 1 t Kosher salt ½ t chili powder Mix all ingredients until salt and honey have dissolved.
About Susan: Susan Mallery is the New York Times bestselling author of over one hundred romances and women’s fiction novels, and she has yet to run out of ideas! Her funny and sexy family stories consistently appear on the USA Today bestseller list and have landed as high as #5 on the New York Times list. She has won many awards, including the prestigious National Reader’s Choice Award. Her books have been named to the Top 10 Romance Novels lists of 2007, 2008, and 2009 by Book list, a publication of the American Library Association, and she was the only author on the list all three years. Because her degree in Accounting wasn't very helpful in the writing department, Susan earned a Masters in Writing Popular Fiction. Susan makes her home in the Pacific Northwest where, rumor has it, all that rain helps with creativity. Susan is married to a fabulous hero-like husband and has a six pound toy poodle...who is possibly the cutest dog on the planet. Susan's website Susan Mallery on Facebook Susan Mallery on Twitter Susan's Membership Lounge
International Contest - To win a $10.00 gift card at Barnes and Noble, two things required.......follow Susan Mallery Cooks blog and sign up for her membership page; come back and post a comment and leave an email address.  If you follow both, follow Susan on Facebook and Twitter.  Thanks for your comments and your time spent here!  Happy Bloggiesta Ole!

The Pink Heart Society - Bloggiesta Ole!

I spend a lot of time writing reviews for the Pink Heart Society as well as reading author and editor posts. 

For readers and writers of Category Romance novels! Find out about great books, hear from your favourite authors, stop by for some fun!

The Pink Heart Society on Facebook.

If you're not a part of a book club, there is one there for you to participate in monthly.  Pink Heart Society editor and Author Donna Allward each month chooses a selection.  Here's a recent pick.

Did you make any resolutions about your reading habits?  If you did, I hope you'll share them with us.  I've decided to try some YA, Historicals, Medicals and possibly paranormal.  Any suggestions?

How about reading reviews, do they influence your book purchases?  If they are negative, how do you feel about that?  Personally, for me as long as they are constructive and not "nasty", that's ok.  However, I always try to remember the time the author spent writing the book and how the the negative must hurt.

International win a $10.00 Amazon card, follow The Pink Heart Society Reviews and The Pink Heart Society Blog.  Come back here, post a comment and please leave your Email address.  Happy Bloggiesta Ole!

Valentines Day International Contest - Ends February 7th -

This contest will be International and to win this package please share how you'll spend Valentines Day, decoration ideas or a favorite recipe.

THE LOST VALENTINEEXPERIENCE THE LOVE STORY AMERICA IS TAKING TO HEART with The Lost Valentine—now the basis for a Hallmark Hall of Fame television movie!

News reporter Susan Allison is looking for the perfect story about true love, though she doubts where such a thing really exists. Neil Thomas, Jr. wants the world to know about his parents’ bittersweet love story: On February 14, 1944, Caroline Thomas said good-bye to her beloved husband, a Navy pilot sent to the Pacific. For fifty years, she waited for him—until a miracle happened, and she received his lost valentine… In the present day, when Susan and Neil meet, can the story of Neil’s parents bring them together in a love as powerful as she dreams of and he remembers?

“Get out your box of tissues, and rid yourself of all distractions because once you pick up this book, you will not put it down...Fans of The Notebook will enjoy.”—Booklist (starred review)

 About the Author

James Michael Pratt is the author of several other books, including the bestselling novels Paradise Bay, Ticket Home, and The Lighthouse Keeper. He lives along the Wasatch mountain range in Utah. Visit to learn more.

Also included the DVD Sleepless in Seattle, a "heart" themed tea towl, chocolate, small "heart" themed notebook and mini Kleenex to take along when you view your next romance movie.

The director and stars of 1998's You've Got Mail scoreda breakthrough hit with this hugely popular romantic comedy from 1993, about a recently engaged woman (Meg Ryan) who hears the sad story of a grieving widower (Tom Hanks) on the radio and believes that they're destined to be together. She's single in New York, he lives in Seattle with a young son, but the cross-country attraction proves irresistible, and pretty soon Meg's on a westbound flight. What happens from there is ... well, you must have been living in a cave to have let this sweet-hearted comedy slip below your pop-cultural radar. There's little complexity or depth to writer-director Nora Ephron's cheesy tale of a romantic fait accompli, and more than a little contrivance to the subplots that threaten to keep Hanks and Ryan from actually meeting. But the purity of star chemistry here is hard to deny, and this may be the first film to indicate the more serious and sympathetic side of Hanks that is revealed in later roles. With its clever jokes about "chick movies" and repeated homage to the classic weeper An Affair to Remember, this may not be everybody's brand of amorous entertainment, but it's got an old-Hollywood charm that appeals to many a movie fan --Jeff Shannon
 Don't forget to leave your email address.

Celebrated Florida Author Unveils Eighth Novel In Harlequin Romance Showcase

Celebrated Florida author Yahrah St. John wraps up the holiday season with a New Year’s Day unveiling of Two to Tango, her eighth Harlequin/Kimani Press romance novel. This final book of the Orpan Series is being heralded as one that delivers a well packaged story of passion, romance, and excitement. Two to Tango is available on bookshelves nationwide at Barnes and Noble, Borders, Walmart, Target, and many other retailers. It can also be purchased at

In Two to Tango, the sky’s the limit for Dante Moore. Thanks to a rave review from a top food critic, the New York restaurateur is poised to become the city’s next big celebrity chef. Then he finds out who the reviewer is. Adrianna Wright, the beautiful, loving woman who shared his bed and made him believe in happy endings…right before she vanished from his life. Adrianna believed her passionate romance with Dante would last forever—that she’d finally found her soul mate. Her heart broke when her scandalous secret forced her to leave the man she loved. Now, with things heating up between them once again, Adrianna isn’t ready to sit this one out. It’s time to show Dante that business and pleasure can mix, and that passion’s even hotter the second time around. “I think my fans who share a love of cooking and good food will enjoy the ‘juicy’ angle I’ve added to the storyline,” states St. John.

Internationally beloved for bringing a captivating appeal to romantic fiction, St. John was a featured author during the Romance Writers of America 30th Annual Conference in Orlando. She has generated media attention through television news broadcasts, newspapers across the state, and talk show interviews. The author has been awarded 4 and 5 stars from book reviewers including: Romantic Times BOOKReviews, Rawsistaz Reviewers, Romance in Color, and various book clubs. St. John’s readers will be able to get an autographed copy of Two to Tango during her next book signing January 22, 2011, 2:00-4:00 p.m., at Borders, 600 North Orlando Avenue, Orlando, Florida 32789.


Yahrah St. John, a native of Chicago, Illinois, is a graduate of Hyde Park Career Academy and received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English from Northwestern University. She currently lives in Orlando, Florida where she is employed as a property manager for a commercial real estate company. St. John developed a passion for writing at age 12 and has written more than twenty short stories and plays. She first published with Harlequin in 2004. Her publications can be purchased through

Her next novel, Need You Now, will begin a new series chronicling the escapades of the president of a cosmetics dynasty and her struggle to maintain the family business. Need You Now is scheduled to be released December 1, 2011. St. John is available for book club presentations, book signings, media interviews, and speaking engagements. She can be contacted at . To learn more about her complete compilation of novels, visit

Article Source:  PR Log Press Release

Topics Women Desire When Reading a Romance

From the author of The House on Black Lake

I have compiled a list of 50 topics from the Romance Community at of topics women desire to read about. Asterisks are placed next to topics touched upon in “The House on Black Lake”.

Book Clubs may want to use list as beginning of discussion, or have members write their own and create an extended list that can be forwarded along to others. Knowledgable readers may add title examples for each topic to create a resource for individuals to find books that appeal to them. It is also helpful to the writers of romance novels to be aware of what their readers desire to experience. This is especially true if topics considered taboo are broached. Reading offers a great opportunity to release fear and repressed desires, and explore various aspects of ourselves and our life journey through the experiences of others.

The list is in no particular order, latest topic first.

l. A broken heart. The greatest reading choice for this seems to be "Stormfire.*

2. Man uses woman for revenge, kidnapped, seduced, etc. "Stormfire" again, this must be a great read.*

3. Good sex scenes, either explicit or implicit.*

4. Heroine nearly dies, hero is terrified, realizes how much he loves her. Even better, is when hero is directly, or indirectly responsible for putting heroine in jeopardy...*

5. Second chance ex-spouses.

6. Cheating hero.* This one is very popular. But, some want him to realize he loves his wife and family and wants them back.

7. Less than perfect heroes/heroines – scarred or disabled.

8. Rugged cowboy-types.*

9. Hero helps deliver his baby.

10. Heroine saves or rescues hero from harm.

11. Bad Boys.*

12. Pent up sexual frustration – repression.*

13. Great grovel scenes – where rugged hero breaks down.* This is very popular, and an ideal topic for discussion.

14. Hero disappears and reappears years later.

15. Steamy AND emotional scenes between lovers.”*

16. Romance – candlelit dinners, walks in the park. Etc.*

17. Obsessed or deeply in lust.*

18. Villain in love with heroine.*

19. Dominant, alpha males.*

20. Romance and thriller.*

21. Widowed hero grieving over first wife.

22. Vampire and paranormal love.

23. Vikings!.

24. Smutty historical romance.

25. H/H in historical garb.

26. Men with long (preferably dark) flowing hair*.

27. Alpha female who isn’t borderline abusive*

28. Hero bribes heroine to be with him.

29. Heroine playing hard to get.*

30. Drunken sex.*

31. Bad boy falls for nice girl.*

32 Virginal or repressed heroine who falls apart at the touch of the RIGHT man.*

33. Forced mate scenario in paranormal.

34. Jealous bad boy.*

35. Ménage romance.*


37. Two men competing for woman.*

38. Forced sex where h/h have strong connection.*

39. Sheik books and big hunky H’s and the feisty heroine.

40. Bad boy who bosses H around until they fall in love.*

41. Spanking/forced sex scenes.*

42. Love triangles.*

43. Bisexual love.*

44. Older women/younger men.*

45. Rugged/outdoorsy men.*

46. Heroine enjoys sex.*

47. Haunted places/ghosts.*

48. Tattoos, piercings, branding, etc.*

49. Beauty and the beast themes.*

50. Time travel – men in kilts, on island, or anywhere ancient.*

Well, that’s a beginning. The list says a lot about what women really want, and discussing these topics is a great exercise in female empowerment.

Source: The House on Black Lake

Smutty historical romance.

25. H/H in historical garb.

26. Men with long (preferably dark) flowing hair*.

27. Alpha female who isn’t borderline abusive*

28. Hero bribes heroine to be with him.

29. Heroine playing hard to get.*

30. Drunken sex.*

31. Bad boy falls for nice girl.*

32 Virginal or repressed heroine who falls apart at the touch of the RIGHT man.*

33. Forced mate scenario in paranormal.

34. Jealous bad boy.*

35. Ménage romance.*


37. Two men competing for woman.*

38. Forced sex where h/h have strong connection.*

39. Sheik books and big hunky H’s and the feisty heroine.

40. Bad boy who bosses H around until they fall in love.*

41. Spanking/forced sex scenes.*

42. Love triangles.*

43. Bisexual love.*

44. Older women/younger men.*

45. Rugged/outdoorsy men.*

46. Heroine enjoys sex.*

47. Haunted places/ghosts.*

48. Tattoos, piercings, branding, etc.*

49. Beauty and the beast themes.*

50. Time travel – men in kilts, on island, or anywhere ancient.*

Well, that’s a beginning. The list says a lot about what women really want, and discussing these topics is a great exercise in female empowerment.  Source: The House on Black Lake
So what do you look for in a good romance?  Personally, I love a tortured hero, a man with a past and of course the happy ending!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A Male Only Book Club Turns to Nora Roberts

Lying on a catamaran under the stars, I rolled onto my side, steeled my nerve and popped the question. She was on the edge of sleep, so the element of surprise was firmly in my corner. She shrieked. She teared up. She said yes.

It was about a month before the anxiety hit. It wasn’t about my decision to propose. My best friend – brilliant, funny and a stone-cold fox to boot – was without a doubt the woman I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. Rather, I was anxious about becoming a husband, and every time I heard about another divorce, separation or infidelity, my anxiety swelled. How could I make her happy and keep our love strong forever? How could I thwart my male-pattern blockheadedness and understand her needs and wants? How could I be the ideal husband?

When I crawled into bed that night, my fiancée had her nose buried in the latest chick-lit novel.

And it hit me.

If the perfect man exists, he resides in chick lit, where the demands of serious fiction, with its flawed protagonists and messy verisimilitude, don’t apply. By entering that mythical world where men are sculpted from bronze and forged in the fires of perfection, I could finally answer that age-old question: What do women really want?

And so it was set: My groomsmen and I would read and dissect the very book my fiancée was reading. At the time, that was Happy Ever After, the fourth in the Bride Quartet by Nora Roberts, a No. 1 New York Times bestselling author and a member of the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame.

The guys, to my surprise, were up to the challenge. Felicitously, they represented a broad array of skill sets and relationship stages.

“The Professor,” a PhD student at the University of Toronto, was well read and well spoken and had been married for just shy of five years.

“The Jock” worked for a professional sports league, was single and social and switched women as often as Brett Favre does teams.

“The Executive,” my brother and best man, wore multiple BlackBerrys on his belt, rode a motorcycle and lived in a condo with his fiancée.

“The Hippie” was a banjo virtuoso who played Frisbee, read Sartre and was living with his girlfriend of three years near Toronto’s hip Queen Street West.

“The Photographer” was a foodie with a minor fear of marriage. He was raised in a house of women (mom, divorced, and two sisters) and was living with his girlfriend of six years.

It was The Jock who got our discussion rolling.

“I’m not a big reader,” he said. “I’d rather listen to a book on tape. But this is an easy read. I can get why girls read this. It’s easy to slip into the fantasy and the ridiculous sex scenes and the girls being girls. You can see why it sells like hotcakes.”

Indeed, untold millions have read books in the Bride Quartet series, which centres on Parker Brown, a high-society Connecticut wedding planner who falls madly, if reluctantly, in love with rough-edged stuntman-turned-mechanic Malcolm Kavanaugh.

So what qualities did Kavanaugh possess that we would do well to borrow?

“He’s a total grease monkey, but he knows his cab from his Chianti,” The Photographer said. “He can slide into life with the Brown mansion. There isn’t this class consciousness about him.”

“And he’s very sexual but respectful at the same time,” The Hippie added.

Sexual, certainly. But we were divided over whether Kavanaugh was really all that respectful. He shows his affection for Brown by repeatedly backing her up against a wall and assailing her with aggressive kisses despite her half-hearted protestations. So do women want that kind of sexual forthrightness?

“I tried that this weekend. It didn’t work. I got slapped,” The Jock said “Spontaneity, I think it’s a big thing,” The Executive said. “Malcolm’s always doing things like grabbing her breasts, fixing bikes, punching guys’ faces.”

It seemed we were onto something. I scribbled “spontaneity” on my notepad, and we dug deeper. We read some sex scenes aloud. The Jock reached for carrots and dip.

“I’m a nervous eater,” he said.

The Photographer jumped in next. “I was struck by how all of her metaphors were of a great power or a force of nature she couldn’t control. ‘Storm,’ ‘wave of lust,’ ‘plunge off a cliff,’ ‘a pitched battle,’ ‘whiplash of lust.’ It’s this power you can try to fight, but you’re helpless. I guess this is the equivalent of watching porn for guys. Guys are very visual, and this is sort of emotional,” he said.

The Professor brought everyone’s minds out of the gutter.

“It’s also the opposite of who Parker Brown is, right? She’s organized, always in control. With sex, she loses that control. It’s an escape for her.”

“But in a way [these sex scenes] don’t help determine what the ideal husband is because it’s about their first few sexual exploits. The challenge is to maintain that level of excitement,” the Photographer said.

That seemed right, and we all nodded. I scribbled another note: “Maintain sexual passion.”

The Hippie reached into his bag of philosophical tricks and pulled out some old-school truths.

“He seems to pay a lot of attention to her. And obviously when you’re courting someone, you’re obsessed with her and you’re thinking about her, where now I think about fantasy basketball,” he said. “So did I learn anything from this character? He’s very enthusiastic and intent on being with her. As a guy or a girl, I want someone who is very intent on being with me.”

The Executive put down his hand-held and addressed us like he would a board of directors. “Right. It’s that infatuation stage that women want to prolong forever.”

More nodding. Our list was growing: Keys to an ideal husband were spontaneity, sustained sexual passion and an enduring infatuation in one’s partner.

But there was an even more fundamental element to be discovered. In the book, it’s not until Kavanaugh opens up about the physical abuse he suffered at the hands of his uncle and the trauma of a motorcycle crash that Brown begins to view him as marriage material.

“Let’s go to page 250,” The Photographer said. He quoted Brown: “I can’t deal with someone who can’t talk to me, who can’t be intimate with me except physically.” The Photographer closed the book. “That may have been the closest to real life for me. I do find that my girlfriend wants to discuss everything and talk it out, and I’m more inclined to keep things in, and that’s a constant friction.”

“I would agree with you,” The Professor said. “I find that gender dynamic to be pretty constant. When [my wife] gets home from work, she talks about her entire day for 45 minutes. And she’s like, ‘How was your day?’ and I’m like, ‘Oh, it was fine.’ I don’t feel the need to get into details about my day.”

“Yeah, I’m a big proponent of that. I think these really deep conversations bring people closer together. I think girls especially are big advocates of that,” The Executive said.

I got into bed that night a new man: I was now spontaneous, ready for a lifetime of sexual passion, totally infatuated with my fiancée and vulnerable at the same time.

She was immersed in a new book.

“Hey, that book you were reading,” I began. “What did you think about it?”

She answered without looking up. “Nora Roberts? I thought it was terrible.”  Source: The Globe and Mail

Harlequin Presents Has a New Blog

I think it's obvious if you've spent any time at this blog, how much I adore the Presents line.   Through out the years of reading and reviewing Presents, I've made so many friendships with the authors I review for.......honestly, they are family.  When my husband passed away a few years ago, some of these incredible women were the first to rally and I could feel their love from all over the world.

So if you haven't read a Presents, I hope this inspire you to purchase one.

Harlequin Blog

EHarlequin, a place to purchase your Presents romance

I(Heart)Presents, a blog where Presents talk about romance and/or their latest release

Harlequin Presents authors

Pink Heart Society Reviews.......a review site for category romance and Harlequin Presents

Suspense Author Mary Burton Shares her Valentine Brownie

"Love at First Bite" - Author Mary Burton shares with her fans, an incredible brownie sure to win your lovers heart.

Brownie Batter
 ½ cup (1 stick) of butter
1 cup of cocoa
1 teaspoon of brandy
2 cups of sugar
½ teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1 egg yolk

 1/3 cup of peanut butter
1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon brandy

 8 oz of melting chocolate

Melt butter and pour over cocoa in a mixing bowl.  Add in brandy, sugar and salt.  Mix in eggs and yolk.   Set batter aside and mix together peanut butter and confectioner’s sugar.  Form into balls.  Evenly spread half the batter in a baking pan.  Arrange peanut butter balls on batter.   Cover with remaining batter.  Bake for 35 minutes.  When the brownies have cooled pour melted chocolate over them and let set.  Slice and enjoy!

For a chance to win Mary's latest relase, check out her interview posted here at Romance Author Buzz, read the contest rules, leave your email address.  Contest ends January 31st.  Winner will be posted Feburary 1.

Debbie Macomber's Blossom Street Series - Giveaway Summer on Blossom Street (autographed)

This past summer on the way to our cabin on Hood Canal, my mother and I stopped at Debbie Macomber's Tea Room and Gift Ship for lunch.  I purchased an autographed copy of Summer on Blossom Street, an autographed copy.  I would like to give it away to one lucy US reader.

About the series:

I joke that with my yarn stash, I could knit garments to clothe a third world country. So it was inevitable that eventually I’d write books that center around a yarn store.

Welcome to A Good Yarn,that fictional little shop on Blossom Street in Seattle, where knitters go for yarn, supplies and patterns, and where they form lasting friendships in Lydia Hoffman's knitting classes. Other businesses have sprung up there, including the French Café, Susannah’s Garden and Blossom Street Books.  Debbie
Link to the series

About author Debbie Macomber

With more than 130 million copies of her books in print, Debbie Macomber is one of the world’s most popular authors.

The #1 New York Times bestselling author is best known for her ability to create compelling characters and bring their stories to life in her books. Drawing on her own experiences and observations, Debbie writes heartwarming tales about small-town life, home and family, enduring friendships and women who knit. Every book features the delightful sense of humor for which readers clamor. Not bad for a woman who is dyslexic and didn’t learn to read until she was in the fifth grade.

Her dyslexia did not deter the young mother of four from pursuing a lifelong dream of becoming published. She celebrated her first sale in 1982 when Silhouette Books acquired her manuscript, Heartsong. The book became the first category romance ever to be reviewed by Publishers Weekly. She was soon featured in Newsweek—and demand for her books quickly exceeded her wildest dreams. Now Debbie maintains a list of more than 130,000 readers, with whom she regularly corresponds.

Debbie is a regular resident on the bestseller lists. Two of her novels have scored the #1 slot on the New York Times, USA Today and Publishers Weekly lists the first week on sale. She is the first-ever recipient of the“readers’ choice” Quill Award for Romance Fiction for 44 Cranberry Point, the fourth book in her highly popular Cedar Cove series. Debbie has also been honored with a RITA® for her 2005 holiday hardcover, The Christmas Basket; an RT Book Reviews Career Achievement Award and is a multiple winner of both the Holt Medallion and the B. Dalton Award. In July 2010, the Romance Writers of America presented Debbie with its prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award. Last year Debbie saw her first cookbook, first children’s book and second non-fiction inspirational book published. Her earlier novel Mrs. Miracle was broadcast in 2009 as a made-for-TV movie by Hallmark Channel. Starring Doris Roberts, Debbie

Macomber’s Mrs. Miracle was Hallmark Channel’s top-watched movie of the year. Debbie’s hometown also celebrated its first-ever, five-day Cedar Cove Days festival, welcoming readers from 42 states and seven foreign countries to the town that inspired the bestselling series.

Debbie’s 2010 novels for MIRA Books include Hannah’s List, the story of a man who learns his late wife left him a list of women to consider marrying; the 10th book in her Cedar Cove series, 1022 Evergreen Place, and Call Me Mrs. Miracle, which will be broadcast November 27 by Hallmark Channel as her second made-for-TV movie. Her third non-fiction book, God’s Guest List, will be published by Howard Books in November.

In addition to her bestselling novels, “Debbie’s world” includes knitting pattern booklets and knitting notions from Leisure Arts and her own yarn store in Port Orchard, Washington. That store, A Good Yarn, was named after Debbie’s first “knitting book” in her popular Blossom Street Series. Universal Yarn launched a Debbie Macomber yarn line in August 2010. It is designed to complement her Blossom Street series. She serves on the national board and actively supports Guideposts Knit for Kids and World Vision. She and her husband, Wayne, are also members of the Guideposts National Advisory Cabinet.

In July 2007 Debbie threw out the first pitch in a Seattle Mariners game at Safeco Field. The prolific author lives in Washington state and winters in Florida with her husband. When not writing, she enjoys knitting, traveling with Wayne and putting on Grandma Camps for her grandchildren, for whom she has built a four-star tree house behind her home in Port Orchard.
Giveaway USA Residents Only - Summer On Blossom Street (Autographed)

Summer on Blossom Street:

Knitting and life. They’re both about beginnings — and endings. That’s why it makes sense for Lydia Goetz, owner of A Good Yarn on Seattle’s Blossom Street, to offer a class called Knit to Quit. It’s for people who want to quit something — or someone! — and start a new phase of their lives.

First to join is Phoebe Rylander. She recently ended her engagement to a man who doesn’t know the meaning of faithful, and she’s trying to get over him. Then there’s Alix Turner. She and her husband, Jordan, want a baby, which means she has to quit smoking. And Bryan Hutchinson joins the class because he needs a way to deal with the stress of running his family’s business — not to mention the lawsuit brought against him by an unscrupulous lawyer.

Life can be as complicated as a knitting pattern. Just ask Anne Marie Roche. She and her adopted daughter, Ellen, finally have the happiness they wished for. And then a stranger comes to her bookstore asking questions.

Or ask Lydia herself. Not only is she coping with her increasingly frail mother, but she and Brad have unexpectedly become foster parents to an angry, defiant twelve-year-old.

But as Lydia already knows, when life gets difficult and your stitches are snarled, your friends can always help!

To win a copy of this book, follow this blog or check out Debbie's Website and tell me which of the books you've read of hers and why you liked them.

My Guest Interview at The Writing Playground

The Playground is excited to have one of our biggest fans in the Sandbox this month. Marilyn Shoemaker is well-known for her review blogs. We’ve ended up on a few email loops together and one of us ends up being the “other” Marilyn. She’s a huge champion of the romance genre so please make her welcome.

Playground Monitor: How did you go about becoming a reviewer and blogger?

Marilyn Shoemaker: Hi Marilyn, thanks for inviting me to the Sandbox.

While working at a major cruise line I was introduced to the romance genre by a couple of co-workers. During our lunch hour we would discuss what we were reading, share books and we eventually started a small library in the Princess Cruises lunch room.

I loved the books so much that I emailed a few of the authors and attended some local book signings. It was through that contact with some of those authors that I was asked to consider posting my reviews on Amazon and Barnes and Noble or posting comments on romance forums. Now seven years later, I review for Pink Heart Society Reviews and have started my own review blog as well as a blog sharing industry news on Romance Author Buzz. As my reviewing progressed, I also joined my local RWA Seattle Chapter where I’ve met so many talented authors.

PM: How do you decide what books to review?

MS: At first I chose Harlequin Presents, Silhouette Desire and Special Edition because they were quick reads and I had a career and children still at home. Then as the years went on, authors started contacting me and/or sending books and the rest is history. In fact two of your authors here at The Writing Playground….Lynn Raye Harris and Kimberly Lang gave me the great honor of reviewing their debut books.

PM: Do you ever compare your reviews to other reviews of the same book?

MS: I compose and post my reviews first so I’m not influenced by others. My writing style is very simple and my reviews sincerely come from my heart. Then, if I get a chance, I do look at other bloggers reviews especially those reviews of my favorite authors.

PM: Why romance? Do you have a favorite sub-genre within romance?

MS: The sheikh genre. A friend introduced me to Susan Mallery’s Desert Rogue series. I enjoyed them so much and started posting reviews to a website dedicated to the genre. The site had interesting articles, a forum where people posted reviews, listed authors and titles for the genre. Then the site went down due to spam. I had invested a lot of internet time posting reviews on that particular site, so that’s how my blog Romancing the Desert -- Sheikh Books was born.

I’ve also found I enjoy women’s fiction which at one time was known as “chick lit”. Two Harlequin authors I had already been reading, Roxanne St. Claire and Jane Porter introduced me to their books. Once I read St. Claire’s Hit Reply and Porter’s The Frog Prince I was hooked.

PM: Covers and titles. Do they ever influence whether you even buy a book much less read it?

MS: What influences my personal purchases are the book description, the author, the subject, reviews and I usually go on line to see if there is a “behind the book” story. I find that sometimes the covers or titles to not reflect the story.

If you’re an author reading this blog, I sincerely pay attention to the dedications; I think they reveal so much about the author and the book.

PM: Who are your favorite authors? What are some of your favorite books? What is/are the book(s) you read again and again?

MS: That’s a hard question. I’m such a Harlequin Presents fan first and foremost and I’ve read 90% of the authors who write for the line.

Susan Mallery who writes for HQN. I adore her family themed stories i.e. The Lone Star Sisters, Marcelli Sisters and The Buchanan’s. Believe it or not, her sheikh books which were part of her The Desert Rogues are some of my favorites due to her sense of humor, the passion between her characters and there is always a lesson to be learned. Her heroines are always strong and intelligent women and give as good as they get.

And then Marilyn, I enjoy reading our mutual friend Roxanne St. Claire who writes romance/suspense and her brilliant Bullet Catcher series. What makes this series amazing for me are the hot heroes and her secondary characters. In each of her books she always has that one special scene that takes your breath away. You’re also a fan so you know what I mean.

PM: Tell us about what you do when you’re not reading romance, blogging and reviewing books. Job? Hobbies?

MS: For 22 years I worked in the travel industry so I enjoy traveling or cruising. When I’m not reading or working at my part time job, I enjoy spending my time with my family and friends, dining out, going to movies, of course shopping or attending a Broadway show being performed here in Seattle.

During the summer months, I spend a lot of time at my family summer home on the water at Hood Canal, swimming, gardening and of course, I’m always reading.

PM: Now just for fun. :) Coffee, tea or hot chocolate?

MS: All of the above. Hot chocolate for special moments.

PM: Chocolate or vanilla?

MS: Chocolate of course!

PM: Crispy or original recipe? Or would you prefer steak?

MS: Steak, medium rare. And seafood as I’m so lucky to live in a city known for its fine dining and seafood restaurants.

PM: Dream vacation spot?

MS: I’ve seen a lot of the world via cruise ships. I think Australia, due to my reading by some of the Presents authors like Annie West, Trish Morey, Robyn Grady and many more. These authors have intrigued me with their descriptions of the Australian country side, beaches and Australian major cities.

I would also like to see more of Italy and visit the UK.

PM: Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

MS: The romance community and the friendships I’ve made through blogs like this one I would have never believed possible. I’ve witnessed others in this romance community, who have never met, reach out to help others in time of need which I find truly remarkable.
About Marilyn Shoemaker:

Marilyn has lived in Seattle, Washington and worked in the travel industry for over 22 years. At present, she’s working part time at a nationwide clothing store, Chico’s.

She has two incredible children. Her son Chris recently graduated from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Seattle and desires to work in fine dining. Her daughter Keri lives and works in Washington DC and is the director of her DC PR firm. They have been the joy of Marilyn’s life. She was married to a Seattle firefighter who after retirement went to work in sales at Holland America Cruise Line. Married for over 30 years, they enjoyed their children, travel and spending time at their summer home on Hood Canal. Ron passed away three years ago. He was Marilyn’s best friend and like the romances she adores, it was love at first sight.

Reading romance is her passion and sharing it with others gives her great pleasure. There’s nothing better than receiving an author’s email saying thanks for “getting my book” or a reader’s comment ”because of your review, I’m going to buy the book.” She is looking forward in 2010 to stepping out of the box and reading new authors and genres.

Her Review Sites:

Marilyn’s Romance Reviews:
Romance: Author Buzz:

Sheikh Books:

Pink Heart Society:

EHarlequin: Posting reviews as “Reading in Seattle”

Lori Foster and Her Authors Friends.....The Promise of Love

Meet Lori Foster

Lori Foster first published with Harlequin in January 1996. Her second book launched Temptation Blaze and her 25th book launched Temptation Heat. Since those early days, Lori has routinely had 6 to 10 releases a year. She's a Waldenbooks, USA Today, Publisher's Weekly and New York Times bestselling author with over 50 titles published through a variety of houses, including Berkley/Jove, Kensington, St. Martins, Harlequin and Silhouette.

Lori Foster is not only an incredible author, she organizes with other authors books where the proceeds to to charatites. This particular one will benefit One Way Farm. I encourage you to consider purchasing this book.

Lori and her friends also organize an author/reader conference each year. I wish I could go and every year I think I will but unfortunately it’s not in the cards for me again, this year. Here are the details

The Promise of Love

Never Before Published!
6 Original Stories by...

Lori Foster
Erin McCarthy
Sylvia Day
Jamie Denton
Kate Douglas
Kathy Love

Six award-winning and bestselling authors present a never-before-published anthology touching upon the obstacles people confront in their lives-and those who help heal their hearts.

No one is free of wounds from their personal history-yet some go deeper than others. Though stronger for it, everyone needs some support to overcome their stormy pasts. And nothing helps more than two big, strong arms pulling one tightly in to an even bigger heart; a man who knows how to respect and protect. These stories feature women who are survivors of bitter pasts, and the good men who have become stronger for understanding them. Together they can overcome anything, with a love born of compassion.

The authors are donating all of their proceeds from The Promise of Love to One Way Farm, a charitable organization.

In honor of the work these incredible authors provide, I’m offering a $10.00 Amazon card. This contest is International. All I ask, is that you friend Lori on Facebook and tell her how much you enjoyed about reading about The Promise of Love at Marilyn’s Romance Reviews. Come back here, post a comment and your email address. Winner will be announced January 24th.

Friday, January 21, 2011

New York Times Best Seller and Daughter Elizabeth Mass Co-Author a Book

Welcome to Bloggiesta Ole!

Susan Wiggs New York Times Best Seller author and her daughter Elizabeth Mass have co-authored a book.  I have followed Elizabeth's wedding last year via Susan's Blog.  It took place in my home town, Seattle and I thought it was innovative.  Personally my daughter Keri and I have planned so many events from proms, tolos, showers and weddings; it hard work and mother and daughter did an amazing job.

Bestselling author Susan Wiggs literally wrote the book on happily-ever-after love. But orchestrating her daughter Elizabeth's real-world wedding turned into a different story altogether, and one that takes two to tell—the mother and the bride.

Here is the all-too-true tale of a mother and daughter collaborating on life's ultimate celebration—a dream wedding. Often poignant, sometimes irreverent and always hilarious, this charming book is also packed with useful advice from both ends of the cupcake-tasting table. Join mother and daughter as they wade through the trenches of flowers and favors, grueling gown decisions…and the cold, cruel realities of a budget. With luck, love and loads of patience, they come out on the other side, bloodied but unbowed, replete with life lessons—and closer than ever before.

After the wedding came….the book with the real story behind the wedding, which will be in stores January. Here Susan and Elizabeth share some humorous behind-the-scenes stories and lively banter about the wedding, the book deal and writing together.  Thank you Bookreporter for this great interview!

What made you decide to write together?

Elizabeth: My mom is my best friend --- so the idea of sharing a project with her sounded awesome. Of course, this was before our epic battles over my wedding occurred. Still, even when we were duking it out over cupcakes, writing the book together was always a treat. She brought out the best in my writing, and I like to think my stunning good looks inspired her as well.

Susan: HOW I PLANNED YOUR WEDDING: The All-True Story of a Mother and Daughter Surviving the Best Day of Their Lives is the book I needed to read when I went looking for information on planning your daughter's wedding. The books I found were so terribly complicated and serious! This is a real-world glimpse of what really went on, and I know a lot of women will related, because over the course of the book, we gathered a lot of stories. Many universal emotions and situations arise in this process. We tackled each one, gloves off!

Can you each share a story about one of the books you wrote together?

Elizabeth: The official announcement of the book deal came as a surprise to me. I was visiting my parents one afternoon and my mom asked me to remove a particularly crude joke I’d written on my blog. I indignantly put on my uppity pants, reminded her of the engorged love scenes she’s published, and told her that if she wanted me to get rid of the joke she would have to give me 20 bucks. Real mature. She wiggled her eyebrows at me and said, “I’ve got something WAY better than 20 bucks to give you.”

I didn’t believe her but curiosity got the best of me, so I cleaned up my blog. As I was monkeying around with that, my dad sneaked into the room holding a camera --- and that’s when my mom told me. The resulting slide show is pretty hilarious. In the matter of about 10 frames, I move from incredulous disbelief, to wary acceptance, to utter glee. I still feel that glee every time I realize how lucky I am to be able to co-author a book with my talented mom.

My only regret is I didn’t make my parents wait to tell me until I’d put on some makeup. My cheeks are begging for a touch of bronzer in those photos.

Susan: She won't thank me for giving you this link, but I think it's adorable. In fact, our agent sent them to the publisher to let them know we were accepting the offer, so they had a glimpse of their newest author.

How do you share your writing responsibilities?

Elizabeth: For the first draft of the HOW I PLANNED YOUR WEDDING, we created the manuscript in Google Documents. This allowed us to edit the book simultaneously --- as my mom made changes, I could see exactly what she was doing. We had a couple of Vulcan mind-link moments where she would begin to rework the same sentence as me at the exact same moment. And it was pretty fun to leave a couple of surprises for her. If I saw her updating a specific section, I would scroll to the end of the page and write POOP in really big font for her to find when she got there.

The responsibilities were easy to share with this book because we weren’t trying to contribute to the same narrative. Each chapter features a section by me, then one by her, and so on, so readers know whose voice they’re hearing. And, as the apprentice, I was in charge of the more mundane work like formatting, chapter titles, the appendix, etc.

Do you outline, or do you write as the story unfolds?

Elizabeth: The very first step in writing HOW I PLANNED YOUR WEDDING was coming up with a list of chapters and a bit of detail about what would go into each one. That served as the frame on which we built the book. After the first draft, we read back through the manuscript and identified missing pieces that still needed to be written – for instance, I completely forgot to write about the wedding reception (you know, the five-hour party that I spent over a year planning? Yeah. I neglected to mention it a single time in the first draft.)

Susan: We had really great input from our editor, Deborah Brody, and editorial director, Margaret O'Neill Marbury, and also our agents Meg Ruley and Annelise Robey at the Jane Rotrosen Agency. In a marathon conference call, we brainstormed topics. Then Elizabeth--ever the "A" student --- created what we called the "book map"--an organized list of topics that would become our chapters. Much more than fiction, a project like this demanded organization and outlining. Thanks to the pre-writing work, the actual writing went fairly quickly. It was great writing about the experience as we were experiencing it. Promotes honesty.

Who has final say? Does “Mom always rule,” or how do you handle writing conflicts?

Elizabeth: Weee-elllll….Mommy does get the final say. At least, that’s what she thinks. I mentioned before that I’m in charge of formatting the manuscript, which is the last thing we do before sending it to our publisher. That’s when I go back and add more controversial stuff, or delete the part she wrote about how my only friend growing up was a stuffed doll named Baby Bobby.

Susan: Elizabeth grew up around a writer, and she always thought it was the worst job in the world. You sit in a room alone all day, no one comes to see you and you don't even get to wear pretty clothes or take the ferry to work. However, there was a moment when I knew she would be a writer, and that was when she was in junior high, writing a paper about the poet, Edward Lear. She asked me to help her edit her piece, and her way of accepting corrections (or not) and editorial input (or not) told me she had the judgment to be a writer. She's always been very sensible about that. So much of writing in commercial publishing is listening to others, because it's all about the reader.

What do each of you bring to the table?

Elizabeth: I bring my dazzling beauty, razor-sharp wit, and an intimidatingly high I.Q.

Tee hee. Aside from being the bride --- which is kind of a vital ingredient for a mother-daughter wedding book --- I try to be as frank as I can in my writing. I want HOW I PLANNED YOUR WEDDING to provide a dose of sanity to brides afloat on a sea of diamond-studded aisle runners and glittering Italian-imported chiffon. There are simply times during a gal’s engagement when she will want to rip her hair out (or her mother’s), but there aren’t many bridal resources that acknowledge the rough-and-tumble parts of wedding planning. Reality shows featuring crazed brides and their harpy mothers are overly dramatized, and the average person can’t really relate. I’ve tried to be very blunt about some of the conflicts I experienced planning my wedding --- the tiffs my mom and I had were very normal, but at the time I was heartbroken because I thought most brides floated through their engagements on clouds of happiness and love. And, yeah, there was a cloud of happiness and love. But I also think it’s important to be candid about the fact that planning the Big Day is a challenge, and a bride doesn’t need to doubt her relationship with her fiancé or her mother if she hits some bumps in the road.

My mom, on the other hand, managed to keep a 10,000 foot view of the wedding. In the book, and in the actual planning process, she could always see the bigger picture. When I was fretting over the color of the bobby pins in my hair trials, Mommy was reminding me that my groom wouldn’t be thinking about my hair as he said “I do” to me.

Susan: I like to think I bring the long view of things. With 25 years as a published writer and 30 as a married lady, I have a different perspective, and I think our differing places in life add contrast and interest to the text. I also have a lot of loyal readers, so we're hoping that bit of name recognition will draw attention to the book.

What’s your favorite snack food/drink when you are writing?

Elizabeth: Simple: Diet Dr. Pepper with five ice cubes and air-popped popcorn sprinkled with fake cheese powder. Is that disgusting? My kidneys just shriveled a little as I typed that. But I am single-handedly keeping the Kernel Seasonings company in business.

Susan: Did I raise this child? Growing up, she never had a whiff of Dr. Pepper or cheese powder! While writing, I favor M&Ms and Lady Grey tea. That's much more upmarket, don't you think?

Do you have advice for anyone who would like to write a book with their mother or daughter?

Elizabeth: Trust your mother. She really does know best. On a more concrete level, it’s important to figure out a good way of collaborating. For my mom and me, it was Google Documents.

Susan: Respect each other and --- on the page, at least --- don't shrink from conflict and drama. That's what people like to read about. A conflict, and a positive approach to resolving it. Also, be hilarious if you can, but try not to sound forced. Real life situations are inherently funny, if you look at them the right way. And let your natural voices come through. One of the charms of collaboration is the chance to hear a story in different voices.

HOW I PLANNED YOUR WEDDING: The All-True Story of a Mother and Daughter Surviving the Best Day of Their Lives by Susan Wiggs and Elizabeth Wiggs Maas is due in stores January 2011
Source of article:

Wedding Photos
Wedding Video
On the Harlequin Blog:
MIRA Books. How I Planned Your Wedding: The All-True Story of a Mother and Daughter Surviving the Best Day of Their Lives is part guidebook, part memoir, and wholly entertaining. It’s the (sometimes painfully) true story of a mother and daughter collaborating on life’s ultimate celebration–a dream wedding. Our story is honest and real, with lots of nod-along moments. Readers will laugh and cry through this wild ride, filled with funny anecdotes, touching memories, practical tips and moments of friggin’ emotional truth. In alternating and distinctive voices, Elizabeth and I have created something fresh, saucy, tender, hilarious, and wholly original.
  Entire article here

I for one am going to purchased this book for future reference.  However, Jan 21-23 I'm offering a contest which will be International.  A $10.00 gift certificate to Starbucks since the authors and myself live in Seattle.  Plus I have a $2.00 coupon if you're interested in purchasing the book.

To win, comment on your wedding, how you would feel about writing a book with your mother or follow this blog.  Also, what would be your dream wedding?  Winners will be announced January 24, 2011.

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