Monthly Archives: January 2013


Manda Collins-How to Entice an Earl Thank you to ALL the commenters who stopped by on Tuesday to share their own Ugly Duckling story! A copy of Manda Collins’ newest release HOW TO ENTICE AN EARL goes to…


Congratulations, lsureader! Please click on the Contact Us tab and let us know where we can send it.

Join us next week for 3 author interviews! Yes, you read it right.

Cover-The Marshal's Witness - Lena Diaz Tuesday is Dueling U.S. Marshal stories.Morgan-DangerousMemories-Cover

Featuring Harlequin Intrigue authors Angi Morgan and K&T’s own Lena Diaz.

Find out how tense and romantic the WitSec program can be from an author’s eye!

Killing Time by Cindy GerardNext Friday, Feb 8th, Carey Baldwin hosts one of our favorite repeat (and bestselling) authors CINDY GERARD! Cindy will be dishing about the her new release, Killing Time, which happens to be the first in her brand new series, One Eyed Jacks! 

HOT and COMPELLING; Manda Collins

Yeah, Manda Collins-How to Entice an EarlI’m talking the sex scenes, readers! Add to that sizzling sexual tension, razor-sharp chemistry and gripping suspense. Manda Collins pulls out all the stops in HOW TO ENTICE AN EARL, the third novel in her ‘Ugly Ducklings’ series.

See for yourself…

At the Harbaugh Ball

        With his extra height, Winterson craned his neck over the crowd pressing forward. His soft curse sent a frisson of dread down Christian’s spine. “What is it?” he asked.

        “You’re not going to like it,” Winterson said with a scowl. “I’m pretty sure I don’t like it either.”

        “Is it Cecily?” Deveril asked, his blond brows drawing together.

        “No,” Winterson said, as the crowd performed a maneuver much like Christian thought the Red Sea must have done, and parted right down the middle to reveal the figure standing boldly in the entrance to the Harbaugh ballroom. “It’s not Cecily.”

        No, it certainly wasn’t. The air in the room seemed to evaporate and Christian felt the need to run a finger under his suddenly too tight neck cloth. Standing at the head of the room, wearing a blue gown that was far more revealing than any debutante had the right to wear, her hair arranged in a fashion that seemed to invoke the bedchamber, was Lady Madeline Essex, flanked by her cousins.

        “What the hell is she thinking?” he muttered, stepping forward, unsure if he was going to read her a thunderous scold or kiss her senseless.

Excerpt from HOW TO ENTICE AND EARL by Manda Collins

What a treat for me to interview my friend (and Kiss & Thrill colleague) Manda about her latest historical romantic suspense!

Manda Collins

Manda Collins

So, Manda? We’ve read all 3 novels, now you tell us: Cecily, Juliet or Maddie…Which story was your favorite and why?

Oh wow! That’s a tough one. I tend to prefer whichever one I’m working on at the moment. And each of them hold a special place in my heart. How to Dance with a Duke because it was first. How to Romance a Rake because the subject-matter was so close to my heart. And How to Entice an Earl because I just loved Maddie and Christian together

If you had an epilogue for secondary characters how would villainous Amelia Snow end up?

Well…I’m working on a novella for her even as we speak (type?) so I can’t tell you exactly what happens. But let me suffice it to say that Miss Amelia Snowe finds redemption with a gentleman from her past…

Was there really a Citizen’s Liberation Society (CLS) group? And an attempted assassination on the prime minister?

Nope! I totally made it up. Though there were, as after any war is lost, a contingent of people who had been loyal to Bonapart and just could not accept that he lost the war (twice!)

So I just extrapolated from there and created my own faction. (I learned this trick from a friend who writes contemporary romantic suspense and who makes up her own military or paramilitary groups so as to avoid ticking off folks who are experts on the real ones.)

There was an actual assassination of a Prime Minister—Spencer Percival—in 1812, but his assassin was just one man with a grievance against the government acting alone.

What is your favorite English word from that period?

Great question! And there are so many to choose from. Some of my favorites are from sporting cant—like “breadbasket” for stomach, or “brainbox” for head.

Of course ladies aren’t supposed to use cant, so I try to reserve those for the gentlemen. But I suppose my very favorites are the ones used to describe young women, like “hoyden” and “chit” and my all time favorite: “gel.” Not sure why, but “gel” makes me giggle every time.

🙂 Aside from your blistering sex scenes (I’m not kidding, readers)…Bromances! You do this so well! How do you get that authentic, witty repartee and camaraderie to come out so smoothly?

Thank you so much! I do actually have a passel of male cousins who are continually nipping at each other in that affectionate one-upsmanship that just seems to come to men naturally.

I have to admit, I find the whole thing fascinating since if women were to speak to one another that way I can only imagine the drama that would ensue.

Plus, I watch a lot of television with bromance elements: Friends, Supernatural, How I Met Your Mother. I don’t do it word for word, or situation by situation, but I take some of that witty banter and sort of transplant it to the Regency. Like most writing it starts with what if

Digressing to the topic: None of Your Business

Favorite food?

Right now it’s crème brulee. But like everything else it’s subject to change…

Mmm, yummy! Favorite holiday?

Well, as a native of Mobile, the TRUE originator of Mardi Gras in the United States (that’s right, New Orleans, I said it) I have to put in a plug for my hometown tradition. One of my earliest memories is picnicking down at FortConde on Fat Tuesday between parades. And there’s just something magical about a whole city gathering to watch brightly colored floats parade through the streets.

Er…I think we may get a lot of comments from New Orleans today…What novel are you presently reading?

I just finished Miranda Neville’s wonderful new release The Importance of Being Wicked. That lady writes wonderful stories. And I love how she incorporates her knowledge of the period and the art world of the era into this new series. She makes me so jealous!

Well. Since I’m secretly jealous of you, ‘what comes around, goes around.’ 🙂 You recently signed another 3-book trilogy. Tell us a bit about this series.

Loosely (and I mean loose-ly) based on I Know What You Did Last Summer, this new trilogy centers on three widowed friends who were all present at the death of one of their husbands. 

Somehow, someone finds out that his death wasn’t all it seemed, and begins, one by one, to blackmail them. This thread will run through all three books in the trilogy. Why_Dukes_Say_I_Do_(1)

I’m working on the edits for the first, Why Dukes Say I Do right now. It’s the story of the beautiful Lady Isabella Wharton, who is sent by her godmother, the dowager Duchess of Ormonde, to the country to convince Trevor Carey, the new Duke of Ormonde, to stop playing the role of gentleman farmer and get to London to accept his role as head of the family.

Isabella cannot imagine why anyone would wish to live in the deadly dull country. And Trevor cannot imagine why anyone would wish to live in the filthy, over-crowded city. Hilarity (mixed with some suspense and some sexy times) ensues.

Sounds terrific! Now for the question that will undoubtedly get you on a famous Comedy Channel show:

HOW did you end up with a cat named Stephen Colbert? And does the real Stephen Colbert know? (‘Cuz you know how he likes to brag about stuff like this on his show…)

Manda Collins Cat Stephen Colbert

Manda Collins Cat Stephen Colbert

Well, I am a big fan of Mr. Colbert, and when a tuxedo cat who was fond of expressing his opinions started hanging around my house, Stephen Colbert was the first name that popped into my head.

I mean, they’re so much alike. Stephen “the cat” Colbert wears a tuxedo, Stephen “the person” Colbert wears a suit. Stephen “the cat” Colbert has strongly held opinions on the subject of bears. Stephen “the person” Colbert has strongly held opinions on the subject of bears.

I could go on and on…I did briefly think about alerting Stephen “the person” Colbert about the existence of Stephen “the cat” Colbert, but I figure he’s probably got a ton of other followers in the nation who contact him about this kind of thing all the time.  He has important work to do!

Mm hmm. So readers: which one of us is going to Tweet the real Stephen Colbert? 🙂   Just kidding.   No I’m not.

New Year’s Resolution? (And it’s the 29th, so how’s that going?)

Well, I had some vague hope that I’d completely re-invent my life and finally get everything into shipshape order. But so far, no luck.

New Years Resolutions are a double-edged sword for me too, since my birthday is only a week or so after the first of the year so I end up getting overwhelmed by age milestones and year milestones at the same time. Not good.

So instead, I just decided to do the best I can with getting my daily word count done and so far that seems to be working.

Thank you so much for your grace and humor Manda! Best of luck on sales.

READERS: Were you an ugly duckling?

One commenter receives a free copy of Manda’s HOW TO ENTICE AN EARL. Check back on Thursday!

RT Book Reviews: “A charming love story with a liberal dose of suspense.”


freefireworksThe winner of The Fifth Assassin, autographed by Brad Meltzer is Rosemary Barone! Click on Contact Us above and let us know where to send it!

Congratulations, Rosemary!



Brad Meltzer & The Fifth Assassin

Bestselling author, Brad Meltzer, sat down with Diana Belchase on the night his newest novel, The Fifth Assassin released at Politics and Prose bookstore in Washington, DC.  Find out how Brad came up with the idea for a Presidential serial assassin, the scoop on his TV show, Decoded, and how he ended up consulting for the Department of Homeland Defense.

Share with us your favorite President and why, and you’ll be entered to win a signed copy of Brad’s new book, The Fifth Assassin!  Just leave a comment below.  Check back at the end of Manda Collin’s interview on Tuesday to see who won!

For a look at the Everybody Hates Brad Meltzer funny video The Fifth Assassinstarring his grandmother, her friends and his kids’ Little League team click here.  Buy the Fifth Assassin everywhere, preferably at your favorite independent bookstore.  And to see a truly heartwarming surprise Brad received at Politics and Prose Bookstore last week in another video I shot, please click here:  Brad Meltzer’s USO Surprise.  I guarantee there won’t be a dry eye when you’re done.


Be sure to join us next Tuesday when Sarah Andre interviews our very own Manda Collins about the third and final novel in her Ugly Ducklings trilogy, HOW TO ENTICE AN EARL.

When Maddie’s brother becomes prime suspect in a friend’s murder, she’ll do whatever it takes to find the real killer. Even work alongside the newly elevated, Christian Monteith, Earl of Gresham, who poses a real danger…to her heart.

Jane Aiken Hodge’s Gothic Romances: More Than Just A Girl And Her Castle

In 1971, Time Magazine Arts Editor Martha Duffy made an observation about the increasing sales of romantic fiction. “What sells is the author’s name on the jacket and that illustration showing a girl and a castle.”  

images-2The key part about the above paragraph is the date. 1971

n187091As I read that quote, a flood of memories rushed through me, transporting me back to middle school. It’s there, in between braces, scoliosis checks, and Latin declensions, that I discovered Mary Stewart, Eleanor Hibbert (aka Victoria Holt, Jean Plaidy, and Philippa Carr), Anya Seton, and Phyllis Whitney. Like my daughter who devours YA paranormal romances and dystopian stories, I was once addicted to romantic suspense and gothic romances.


It’s possible my honestly-acquired addiction to suspense and gothics came from reading Daphne Du Maurier and the Bronte sisters at too young an age, but by the time I was fourteen I had gone through all of the books these women had written up until then and I was desperate.

Unfortunately, in the late seventies and early eighties most of the romance novels were too adult for my tastes. I had no interest in the man actually doing anything with the heroine. I was happy if the hero stayed in the creepy castle, acting broody and threatening.


As my daughter says, “The heroine can think about the boy, see the boy infrequently, and yearn for the boy. She can even talk about the boy with her girlfriends while trying on shoes. But the boy must STAY in the castle in the woods.”

And at that age, not only was I desperate for something to read, I had the same need to keep the boy in the woods.

So bodice-rippers were out.

One day, after another not-so-great math test, I hid in the library. The librarian, who knew me by name, came over. After a few minutes of moaning about stupid math and nothing to read, she took my test and wrote down four names on the back.

  Jane Aiken Hodge

Jill Tattersall

Dorothy Eden

Barbara Michaels

I went on to read every book these women wrote and fell in love with romantic suspense all over again. One of these prolific romantic suspense authors is Jane Aiken Hodge.

UnknownThe daughter of the poet Conrad Aiken and sister to the children’s novelist Joan Aiken, Jane Aiken was born in the U.S., raised in the U.K, read English at Oxford and received a master’s degree from Radcliffe College, Harvard University. She went on to marry twice, but it was her second husband, the poet and journalist Alan Hodge, who encouraged her to write novels.

images-1In 1948, as a young mother, she read film scripts for Warner Brothers and started writing romances. But it wasn’t until her two children were in school that she began seeking publication. After years of rejections, she published her first novel Camilla in 1961 in Ladie’s Home Journal in installments. That serialized story late eventually became the novel Marry in Haste. In 1963, she published her first book Maulever Hall. Maulever Hall is a testament to her admiration of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer.

images-8Known for her historical and contemporary romantic suspense stories, contemporary thrillers, and non-fiction work, Jane Aiken Hodge wrote over 40 books between 1961 and 2003. Her novels bore her trademarked pacing and unique mixture of suspense, mystery, and gothic elements. Throughout her career, she wrote books set in what she called the borderland–that line between mystery and romance novel. In her last novels, her mysteries became thrillers. This invisible line–this borderland–made her “gothic romantic suspense” voice unique. Even though she died in 2008 at the age of 92, her contemporaries, historicals, and non-fiction works are still available.

images-6But the two things which made Ms. Hodge stand out in the realm of romance fiction were her heroines and where she set her stories.

In an age of weak, retiring beauties, her heroines took charge of the their situation and tried to change it. Although our standards for kick-butt women have changed, almost impossibly so, fans considered Jane Aiken Hodge a “feminist writer” for her time.

51eb1XGkz-L._SL500_SS500_Her settings were also different. Instead of castles in Cornwall, she wrote about Savannah, GA during the Revolutionary War (Judas Flowering, Savannah Purchase), Russia during the Napoleonic Era (The Adventurers), and modern-day Portugal (The Winding Stair).

imagesJane Aiken Hodge is also known for her three highly-acclaimed non-fiction books about Jane Austen (Only a Novel: The Double Life of Jane Austen), Georgette Heyer (The Private World of Georgette Heyer), and the plight of the Regency Woman (Passion and Principle: Loves and Lives of Regency Women). All three are still in print and if you have any interest in Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, or the Regency, I highly recommend them.

But as teenagers grow, so do their tastes. And by the time I was in high school, my love affair with sweet gothics ended. Why is this, you ask? Because when I was sixteen my Aunt Eileen gave me a book for my birthday. Shanna. By Kathleen Woodiwiss. From that moment, the boy came out of the woods and I never looked back.

Now I’d love to know–do you (or did you) read gothic romances? What were your favorites?

Rita Herron Giveaway Winner…

Thank you again, Rita Herron, for visiting with us this week. And thank you so much to all the Kiss and Thrill readers who stopped by to say hello.


And now (drumroll please)…the winner of either a print or Kindle copy of Rita’s book DYING TO TELL is…

Charlotte Abel (@Charlotte_Abel) January 15th 5:00 pm)

Congratulations! To claim your prize, please email us your U.S. mailing address or email address for your Kindle gift certificate within 10 days.

Stop by next Tuesday for a very special treat. Kiss and Thrill’s very own, Sharon Wray, has a fascinating post that takes you back in romance novel time to celebrate the gothic novel!

Sharon Wray

Sharon Wray

Rita Herron is DYING TO TELL you about her new Release!

Please give a big Kiss and Thrill welcome to author Rita Herron!

Rita Herron

Rita Herron

It might surprise you that award-winning, romantic suspense author Rita Herron began her adult life as a kindergarten teacher. (I’m sure she was careful not to scare her young students with her spine-tingling suspenseful tales!) But for the past decade she has turned her story-telling abilities to writing over SIXTY books, including sexy romantic comedies as well as dark, gritty, spicy suspense stories. Currently she writes both for Harlequin Intrigue and Amazon Montlake.

She has won numerous awards, including three Maggie Awards of Excellence, a Reader’s Choice Award for Best Romantic Suspense, two Cataromance Reviewer’s Choice awards and was awarded a Career Achievement Award for category romantic suspense from RT.

Lena: Rita, welcome to Kiss and Thrill. Can you please tell us about your latest release, DYING TO TELL?


Rita: DYING TO TELL is the first in a series and is set in the small town of Slaughter Creek in the mountains of Tennessee. In this book, Sadie Nettleton, a forensic interviewer and children’s advocate, must return home to the town – and the man – she left behind to find out if her sister, who suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder, killed her grandfather.

Sheriff Jake Blackwood is determined to uncover the truth, but he must protect his heart from Sadie, the only woman he ever loved, the woman who left him when he needed her most.

There’s mystery, suspense, long lost love, secrets and betrayal, all surrounding the local mental hospital.

Book two, HER DYING BREATH (June 2013) follows when Jake’s brother Nick, now an FBI agent, joins forces with Jake to solve a serial killer case. Nick is a hardened man with no time for romance or relationships. His only goal is to find a murderer.

But Brenda Banks, the local reporter, and the woman he lusted after years ago, is dogging him for information. For some reason, the killer has connected with her, and he’s forced to let her assist him.

Still, he refuses to let her into his heart. Only Brenda has a way of getting what she wants. And she wants this case – and Nick. Then the killer targets Brenda, and Nick has no choice – he must protect her…

Lena: Sounds like an awesome series! And it’s with Montlake Romance, a publishing arm of Amazon. Why did you decide to publish with Amazon instead of a traditional publisher?

Rita: I had been working on this story, making notes, writing, letting it percolate for a while. My agent and I discussed the project, and at the time the NY publishers weren’t interested in romantic suspense. But Amazon seemed to be doing well with them and was interested so we submitted it. I also think they do a great job of marketing!

Lena: Good to know, and also a good reminder to all of us authors to keep our options open, especially when there’s a tight market like now for romantic suspense. Rita, you’ve written over sixty books!!! How do you keep your writing fresh with each new story?

Rita: Good question. There are a few ways. First, I think of a storyline, crime, setting, situation or a character that interests me. If I’m excited about that storyline or character or setting, then it’s fun to write.

Second, I try to put a different spin or twist in a story, use different details in the crime, or tag the character with a trait that stands out. For instance, in DYING TO TELL, Sadie’s sister has multiple personalities, a topic that has always intrigued me. Since I was intrigued by it, I hope readers will be.

Third, my critique partner and I have a saying – give the reader what they want. I try to remember that and make my characters lovable or put them in a situation that the reader can relate to. Romance readers want to watch the characters fall in love so that has to be part of the story.

Lena: Even with your answers above, I’m astonished at your productivity. You regularly release three or more Harlequin Intrigues each year. You released 5 books in 2011 by Beachside Reads. In 2010 you published books with HQN and Harlequin American and Grand Central, and even published some paranormals. You also have some non-fiction books on your resume, and even a cookbook! You’re obviously an amazingly versatile, talented author who is incredibly prolific. How do you do produce so many different kinds of books and keep them all straight?

Rita: I’ve always had an overactive imagination and loved to read as a child. At age twelve, I wrote my first mystery! Being able to do what I love, get paid for it and make readers happy makes every day fun and special.

My biggest problem is deciding which story to write next! There’s just not enough time and my idea folders are overflowing.

Lena: So, with everything that you do, what is your favorite genre to write?

Rita: Hmm, I always wanted to write big, dark romantic suspense novels like Tami Hoag (Cry Wolf is still my favorite!) The dark creepy story lines just pop in my head and haunt me until I put them on paper. So being able to publish DYING TO TELL and write more books like this is a dream come true.

Lena: If you could sit down with ‘new author you’ in the beginning of your career and give yourself advice, what would you say?

Rita: Write in one genre! LOL!  At one point, my agent and I had a discussion about career building, and I knew that writing in one genre was the best way to build a following. After that, I focused more on the Harlequin Intrigues and darker suspense.

I’d also say – never give up. Unfortunately rejection is a part of the process and rejection hurts. You have to believe in yourself or no one else will.

Lena: Sounds like great advice. What is your favorite part about being an author?

Rita: Other than making up stuff all day and working in my pjs? LOL.  Seriously, I like not fighting traffic and working by the fire on a cold day. I also enjoy being able to set my own schedule. And I’ve met some fantastic authors who continue to be friends and inspire me.

Lena: Readers love a peek into the exciting, glamorous lives of their favorite authors. So, what do you do in your down time for fun?

Rita: Down time? What’s that?

I love taking long walks, especially on the beach! I enjoy shopping, reading and also crafts. At one time, I was avid into designing quilts (my mother is a quilter).

And now that I have three grandkids and another on the way, I enjoy playing with them!

Lena: Ah, congrats on the grandkids. Switching gears a bit, what kinds of research have you done for your romantic suspense novels?

Rita: Probably the most interesting thing I did was to tour a morgue. I went with a group of authors at Christmas time and we called it the Holly Jolly Morgue tour!

I also took a local police course and did a ride along with a police officer which was eye opening.

I’ve also interviewed, emailed and spoken with professionals, attended workshops featuring FBI agents, forensic specialists, and others, and I do a lot of research on line.

Lena: Sounds awesome! Is there something about you that your readers might be surprised to know?

Rita: LOL. I was born in a mental hospital! It’s true and one thing that sparked my interest in writing this story. I’m also an identical twin. For years my sister and I made up stories about how we came to be born in the Milledgeville State Hospital (once known as the State Asylum). My mother explained that my father worked there, but our stories were much more fun and interesting!

Lena: Yikes. Moving on…What can your readers expect from you in the future?

Rita: At this point, I have at least one more story planned in the Slaughter Creek series, tentatively called WORTH DYING FOR. I also have a romantic suspense series set in New Orleans that I want to write but haven’t sold yet. Fingers crossed.

As far as Harlequin Intrigue, this year I’m writing two stories about Cold Cases, pub dates to be announced.

With my lighter self published Beachside Reads, I hope to work in a new series but we’ll see. I need to clone myself.

But overall, I plan to focus on my big romantic suspense stories.

Lena: Thanks so much for joining us today, Rita. It’s been great learning more about you and your books.

Rita: Thanks for letting me share my work with you! Happy Reading!

For more information on Rita and her titles, visit her at You can also follow her on facebook/ and twitter @ritaherron.

Rita is rewarding one commenter with either a print or Kindle copy of her book, DYING TO TELL.  (Snail mail address must be in the US or Canada to qualify for the prize.) Check back on Thursday to see if you are the winner!

Our Thrilling Pets!

Kitty Kitty Bang Bang CoverOkay, I can’t resist.  Sparkle Abbey got me so excited, I just had to share some photos of the great pets we girls keep talking about behind the scenes.  Hope you enjoy them as much as we have.  Don’t forget to Scroll to the end to find out which three readers won copies of Sparkle Abbey books!


Diana Belchase

Make sure you join us on Tuesday as our own Lena Diaz interviews the thrilling Rita Herron!  And now the Winners of a Sparkle Abbey book each are:  Effie’s dad; Helen Rabin; and Morgan K. Wyatt!  Please make sure you contact us within the next ten days with your information.

Get Fluffy - screen


Kitty Kitty Bang Bang Cover

The Sparkle Abbey Writing Team

We all love our pets, but how many of us are willing to name ourselves after them?  Find out where the writing team of Sparkle Abbey got their names and how their pets fit in to their mystery series.  Plenty of laughs and interesting facts about cats and dogs that paint, plastic surgeon transvestites, and beauty queens who fight over inheritances and men.

I know you’ll enjoy!

And if you leave a comment telling us about why your own pet (or your neighbor’s pet, or your imaginary pet) should be included in it’s own book, THREE lucky commenters will win a copy of one of the books below!

DesperateHousedogsCover Get Fluffy - screen Kitty Kitty Bang Bang Cover

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