Category Archives: Manda Collins

Book Lists and Lena Diaz’s Tennessee Takedown

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Thank you for helping us build our 2014 TBR lists! We came up with some wonderful suggestions that will keep us busy all year.

These are some of titles on our list so far  (in no particular order):

Do or Die, Suzanne Brockmann  February 4, 2014

Hell for Leather, Julie Ann Walker, May 6, 2014

Dash of Peril (Love Undercover), Lori Foster, March 25, 2014

When Day Breaks, Maya Banks, June 24, 2014

Elle Kennedy, Midnight Pursuits, April 1 2014

The King, JR Ward, April 1, 2014

Dark Wolf, Christine Feehan, January 7, 2014

Styxx, Sherrilyn Kenyon, September 2013

Divergent by Veronica Roth

The Fault in Our Stars  by John Green

Tenessee Takedown, Lena Diaz, February 1, 2014

The Bodyguard, Lena Diaz, April 15, 2014

Take the Key and Lock Her Up, Lena Diaz, July 22, 2014

Confession, Carey BaldwinMarch 11th, 2014

Labyrinth, Carey Baldwin, Sept 16th, 2014

Why Earls Fall in Love, Manda Collins , January 28, 2014

Why Lords Fall in Love, Manda Collins, July 28, 2014

Withholding Evidence, Rachel Grant, February 2014

Incriminating Evidence, Rachel Grant, Late 2014

Thankless in Death, J.D. Robb, September 17, 2013

The Spellman Files series by Lisa Lutz

It Happens in the Dark, Carol O’Connell, August 2013

Lost in a  Royal Kiss, Vanessa Kelly, November 26, 2013

The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt, October 22, 2013

The Interestings, Meg Wolitzer, April 9, 2013

Life After Life, Kate Atkinson, April 2, 2013

Far Gone, Laura Griffin, April 15, 2014

Romancing the Duke, Tessa Dare, January 28, 2014

Sweet Talk Me, Kieran Kramer, March 15, 2014

Lena Diaz

And please join us next week when our very own Carey Baldwin interviews our very own Lena Diaz!

We can’t wait to hear about her upcoming release Tennessee Takedown from Harlequin!

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New Year, New Romantic Suspense (and others) TBR Pile

IMG_1677It’s a new year, filled with reviews of 2013’s goal lists and resolutions to do so much more in 2014. But I am neither obsessed about where I fell short nor worried about the year ahead because I have always measured my life by my TBR pile. It could have something to do with the fact I am both a librarian and a writer. Every January I diligently review the list of books I’ve read and make a new list for the new year. But as of January 14, 2014 I only have 110 books on my list. So I’ve decided to share just some of the books that fall into the romantic suspense/thriller/mystery category with a few YA’s and a 2013 holdover included just for fun.  IMG_1729

So grab a latte or hot chocolate and please join me in building the list. Last year I read over 250 titles so I could use a few more suggestions!

51XOGF8HHyL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ Do or Die, Suzanne Brockmann  February 4, 2014

Book description from back cover:   Navy SEAL Ian Dunn went rogue in a big way when he turned his talents to a lawless life of jewel heists and con jobs. Or so the world has been led to believe. In reality, the former Special Ops warrior is still fighting for good, leading a small band of freelance covert operatives who take care of high-stakes business in highly unofficial ways. That makes Ian the hands-down choice when the U.S. government must breach a heavily guarded embassy and rescue a pair of children kidnapped by their own father, a sinister foreign national willing to turn his kids into casualties. Shockingly, Ian passes on the mission for reasons he will not—or cannot—reveal. But saying no is not an option. Especially not for Phoebe Kruger, Ian’s beautiful and unexpectedly brash new attorney.

Determined to see the abducted children set free, Phoebe not only gets Ian on board but insists on riding shotgun on his Mission: Impossible–style operation, whether he likes it or not. Though Phoebe has a valuable knack for getting out of tight spots, there’s no denying the intensely intimate feelings growing between Ian and Phoebe as the team gears up for combat. But these are feelings they both must fight to control as they face an array of cold-blooded adversaries, including a vindictive mob boss who’s got Ian at the top of his hit list and a wealthy psychopath who loves murder as much as he loves money. As they dodge death squads and play lethal games of deception, Ian and Phoebe will do whatever it takes to save the innocent and vanquish the guilty—or die trying. 51zMbzUGktL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

Hell for Leather, Julie Ann Walker, May 6, 2014

Blurb from Amazon:  Only the most urgent crisis could force Delilah Fairchild to abandon her beloved biker bar and ask the surly Bryan “Mac” McMillan for help. What the ex-FBI agent has against her is a mystery…but when the bullets start to fly, Mac is her only chance for finding her uncle alive. Mac knows that beautiful women can’t be trusted, but he has to put his natural wariness of Delilah aside to help her. With the clock ticking, Mac and Delilah find themselves holding on to each other in the wildest adventure of their lives.

51nrr4qRmzL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ Dash of Peril (Love Undercover), Lori Foster, March 25, 2014

Book blurb from Amazon: To bring down a sleazy abduction ring, Lieutenant Margaret “Margo” Peterson has set herself up as bait. But recruiting Dashiel Riske as her unofficial partner is a whole other kind of danger. Dash is six feet four inches of laid-back masculine charm, a man who loves life—and women—to the limit. Until Margo is threatened, and he reveals a dark side that may just match her own…. Beneath Margo’s tough facade is a slow-burning sexiness that drives Dash crazy. The only way to finish this case is to work together side by side…skin to skin. And as their mission takes a lethal turn, he’ll have to prove he’s all the man she needs—in all the ways that matter…. 51dm0mRre-L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

When Day Breaks, Maya Banks, June 24, 2014

Book blurb from Amazon:   Eden is said to be one of the most beautiful women in the world. Her face has graced countless magazines and her body has sold millions of dollars of clothing. But her fame and beauty has earned her more than she ever imagined. Evil is stalking her, determined to extinguish the ethereal beauty forever. Swanson or “Swanny” as his teammates call him is always up for the next mission. He came back from Afghanistan wounded and scarred. Hardly the kind of man who even belongs in the same room with Eden. And yet there’s something about the quiet beauty that stirs his blood and makes him dream of the impossible. Because Beauty loving the Beast only happens in fairy tales and KGI doesn’t deal in fairy tales. Ever. 51qqXaGt9xL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

Elle Kennedy, Midnight Pursuits, April 1 2014

Book blurb from Amazon:  Soldier-for-hire Ethan Hayes is the youngest member of an elite mercenary team. While he may be affectionately nicknamed the rookie, the skills Ethan honed as a Marine make him seriously dangerous. But when a sudden distress call puts him in close quarters with a rival, he finds more than his field skills being put to the test. Juliet Mason stands out as the master thief in a covert group of assassins and spies. Her latest mission is personal—and it’s gone horribly wrong. Juliet may prefer to work alone, but when the rookie comes to her aid in snowy Eastern Europe, she can’t deny they make a good team. But even up against a powerful enemy, their most challenging task yet may be fighting the passion between them…. 516h27EJgUL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

The King, JR Ward, April 1, 2014  (Okay. Not RS. But I don’t care. I’ve been waiting for this book for YEARS and it’s going on the list. :))

Book blurb from Amazon:  After turning his back on the throne for centuries, Wrath, son of Wrath, finally assumed his father’s mantle–with the help of his beloved mate. But the crown sets heavily on his head. As the war with the Lessening Society rages on, and the threat from the Band of Bastards truly hits home, he is forced to make choices that put everything–and everyone–at risk. Beth Randall thought she knew what she was getting into when she mated the last pure blooded vampire on the planet: An easy ride was not it. But when she decides she wants a child, she’s unprepared for Wrath’s response–or the distance it creates between them. The question is, will true love win out… or tortured legacy take over? 91x0cuCZ4VL._SL1500_

Dark Wolf, Christine Feehan, January 7, 2014 ( I just got this book!!! And it’s on the list and will be read by the weekend!!!)

Book blurb from Amazon:  Skyler Daratrazanoff always recognized the miracle that was Dimitri Tirunul, a man beyond any dream that had ever engaged her nights. But she was human. Vulnerable. He was Carpathian. Nearly immortal. She was nineteen. He was an ancient. Yet she held half his soul, the light to his darkness. Without her, he would not survive. Caught between the two warring species, Dimitri has spent centuries hunting the undead to keep his people free, and humans safe. He had survived honorably when others had chosen to give up their souls. But now, marked for extermination by the Lycans, Dimitri found himself alone, and fearing for his life. But salvation was coming… No Lycan would ever suspect someone like Skyler to dare mount a secret rescue operation. A teenage girl. A human of untested abilities. But she had something no one else had. She was predestined for Dimitri—as he was for her. And there was nothing stronger for Skyler than her desire to see her life-dream come true. Whatever the risk.

51cw9VJsXeLStyxx, Sherrilyn Kenyon, September 2013 (This is my one holdover book from last year. This book is long (848 pages) but in October and I got caught up in re-reading The Mists of Avalon, also over 800 pages. So I got behind. But this is a book I’ve waited for for a long time.)

Book blurb from Amazon: Just when you thought doomsday was over . . .  Centuries ago Acheron saved the human race by imprisoning an ancient evil bent on absolute destruction. Now that evil has been unleashed and it is out for revenge. As the twin to Acheron, Styxx hasn’t always been on his brother’s side. They’ve spent more centuries going at each other’s throats than protecting their backs. Now Styxx has a chance to prove his loyalty to his brother, but only if he’s willing to trade his life and future for Acheron’s. The Atlantean goddess of Wrath and Misery, Bethany was born to right wrongs. But it was never a task she relished. Until now. She owes Acheron a debt that she vows to repay, no matter what it takes. He will join their fellow gods in hell and nothing is going to stop her. But things are never what they seem, and Acheron is no longer the last of his line. Styxx and Acheron must put aside their past and learn to trust each other or more will suffer. Yet it’s hard to risk your own life for someone who once tried to take yours, even when it’s your own twin, and when loyalties are skewed and no one can be trusted, not even yourself, how do you find a way back from the darkness that wants to consume the entire world? One that wants to start by devouring your very soul?

81kauFPTdLL._SL1500_Since I promised my teenage daughter we’d go see these movies, I’m adding these YAs, Divergent by Veronica Roth and The Fault in Our Stars  by John Green, to the list as well.

Now for my favorite part of my annual list! As a writer, I am blessed to have so many friends who are successful authors who also (sometimes–hint, hint) offer me advanced copies. So here is a preview of my TBR books from my K&T sisters. I cannot wait to read these!!!

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Lena Diaz: Tenessee Takedown, February 1, 2014,

It can’t be a coincidence that in the past twenty-four hours, three different thugs have tried to kill or abduct Ashley Parrish. Sexy SWAT team leader Dillon Gray saved her, but now he wonders why someone would want to murder the beautiful accountant…and why he finds her so infuriatingly attractive.  Then the FBI comes after Ashley for embezzlement, and Dillon knows he must protect her from a killer and prove she’s being framed. Taking her on a hair-raising run through dangerous terrain barely fazes him. But wanting her for more than just one night scares the hell out of him.

51wjBAS5WeL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_The Bodyguard, April 15, 2014.

SHE HAD NO ONE TO FIGHT FOR HER—UNTIL ONE POWERFUL BODYGUARD REFUSED TO LEAVE HER SIDE 
Her perfect marriage was a sham and Caroline Ashton had the physical and emotional wounds to prove it. With nothing left to lose, Caroline is ready to walk away—and hires Luke Dawson as her personal bodyguard. But before he can do more than secure her a safe house, Caroline stumbles upon the body of the man she’d fought day and night to escape. Now, confronted with fears beyond anything she ever imagined, Luke is the only man she can trust. Putting her life in someone else’s hands isn’t easy, but Caroline knows survival never is. Besides, Luke’s proven himself to be a worthy protector—one who’ll stop at nothing to see she never suffers again….

Take the Key and Lock Her Up, July 22, 2014 from Avon Impulse is the next thriller Lena’s Nursery Rhyme Series.

51ZuS8rgUwL._AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-52,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_Carey Baldwin: CONFESSION, March 11th, 2014.

For fans of Allison Brennan and Karen Rose comes Carey Baldwin, a daring new name in suspense, with the story of a serial killer out for blood—and the only woman who can stop his reign of terror.

They say the Santa Fe Saint comes to save your soul—by taking your life. Newly minted psychiatrist Faith Clancy gets the shock of her life when her first patient confesses to the grisly Saint murders. By law Faith’s compelled to notify the authorities, but is her patient really the Saint? Or will she contribute to more death by turning the wrong man over to the police?

Faith is going to need all her wits and the help of a powerful adversary, Luke Jericho, if she’s to unravel the truth. But she doesn’t realize she’s about to become an unwitting pawn in a serial killer’s diabolical game. For once he’s finished with Faith, she’ll become his next victim

And LABYRINTH featuring FBI profiler Atticus (Spense) Spenser and Dr. Caitlin Cassidy – whom you’ll meet in CONFESSION– releases Sept 16th, 2014. 

81reRpIwXpL._SL1500_Manda Collins: WHY EARLS FALL IN LOVE, January 28, 2014

Society often makes strange bedfellows—and even more surprising betrothals… Young widowed Georgina Mowbray is settling into her role as Lady Russell’s companion quite well—until the lady’s nephew Dominic, the Earl of Coniston, arrives in Bath for a visit. Georgie’s always found him shallow and too smooth, and trusts him as much as she trusts most men…which is to say, not at all. But Con turns out to be more intriguing than she remembers—and completely irresistible…

WHY LORDS FALL IN LOVE comes out on July 28, 2014!

BoE_72dpiFinally, but not at all the least, Rachel Grant has two releases coming this year.

WITHHOLDING EVIDENCE, a short novel in the Evidence series, will be out in late February or early March…

Military historian Trina Sorensen has a nearly impossible task before her: try to get recalcitrant and tempting former Navy SEAL Keith Hatcher to reveal what happened during a top secret Somalia op five years ago. Recent history isn’t usually her forte, but the navy wants an historian’s perspective and has given her the high security clearance to get the job done.

Keith Hatcher isn’t just refusing to tell Trina about the op, he’s protecting a national secret that could destroy the lives of those he cares about the most. But not wanting to talk about a covert mission doesn’t mean he isn’t interested in spending time with the sexy historian, and the first time they kiss it’s explosive. 

When the past comes pounding on Keith’s door, he’ll do anything to keep Trina safe… Anything, that is, except tell her about Somalia. But with the one thing he must hide at all costs being the key to their survival, Keith must decide who he can trust, and which secrets are worth dying for.

And Rachel’s next full-length Evidence story INCRIMINATING EVIDENCE will be out later in the year. 

So what other titles are you desperately waiting for? What other books can you recommend? I’d love to know!

Downton Abbey Meets Sherlock Holmes

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“Your Grace,” Lady Isabella Wharton coaxed, from the other side of the Ormonde library, “really, you must put the knife down. Whatever will your grandmamma think?”

But the Duke of Ormonde, accustomed to ignoring his family’s dictates, didn’t lower the knife at his wife’s throat.

As Amazon would say: If you like PBS’s Downton Abbey and Sherlock Holmes you’ll love the Wicked Widow Series by Manda Collins.

In the first of the trilogy, Why Dukes Say I Do, Manda artfully mixes murder, blackmail, sabotage and a who-done-it mystery with genteel life on a country estate.

The hero, Trevor is a newly titled Duke who wants nothing to do with the responsibility the title holds, especially since it means leaving his land and tenants for the chaos of London. The heroine, Isabella is blackmailed by her godmother (the hero’s grandmother) into forcing Trevor to do exactly that.Neither can afford to lose, which makes for a lovely clash of wills. As Isabella experiences the drama of ‘laid back life’ on Trevor’s country estate it struck me that this was deliciously similar to my favorite show Downton Abbey.
So I asked Manda about it:

Would you describe your heroine’s personality traits more like a Mary, Edith or Sybil?

Hmm. I’d say she’s a Mary from probably the second or third season. Once she’s softened up a bit and acknowledged that human frailty exists and is okay. Not the First Season “hellish beyotch” Mary.

If you had to cast your Dowager Duchess of Ormonde for a Hollywood movie, who would you choose?

I think Judi Dench could pull it off quite well. Or maybe Gemma Jones (the mother in Sense & Sensibility). But definitely the Dowager Duchess of Ormonde shares some traits with the DD of Grantham!

Robert Crawley is a laid-back Earl, who rarely capitalizes on his title. I would even call him a reluctant Earl, more interested in country-life at Downton Abbey and keeping his tenants happy than dealing with the politics and social mayhem of London society. As an audience, we generally gravitate towards mayhem for entertainment, yet both you and Julian Fellowes make this trait seem heroic and keep us enthralled. How did you do this and why do you think we are fascinated by the slower pace of life on a country estate?

 I think there is something enthralling and noble about a high-ranking person choosing to devote themselves to actually tending to their responsibilities. We’ve seen time and time again the hellraising Rake or politically active peer spending all their time in London carousing or trying to get some legislation to pass the Lords. Not to say that politics don’t have their place. But that gentleman who really cares about his tenants satisfies–at least for me–a need to see someone doing the right thing.

As to how I did this? I have no idea! I’m totally an organic writer. I might tinker with the prose or make changes my editor suggests, but I don’t consciously think–oh, he needs to look more sympathetic here…I wish it were that easy!

In both the TV series and your novel there is a ‘confidant’ relationship between the main characters and their servants. In your research do you believe this was so in the Regency period/early 20th Century? (Like we have with our hairdressers/bartenders today?)

Manda Collins

Manda Collins

I do. As much as we’d like to think that all people in the upper echelons of society saw their servants as furniture, I just can’t believe all of them were so callous to the people around them that they didn’t share some part of themselves with their closest servants like maids and valets and the like. Do I think that it was all jolly and Mary Poppins and happiness all the time between them? Of course not! But I do think, in some cases there were confidant relationships between them. And the servant would then use that reputation for discretion if they needed to get another position. It was as great a commodity as a letter of reference!

The murder, sabotage and blackmail is right out of a Sherlock Holmes plot and not usually seen in historical romances.  What made you blend genres (tricky at best) and are you finding a captive audience?

Well, thank you for the compliment, but I certainly do not see myself as the second coming of Conan Doyle (though wouldn’t that be awesome?) Like most writers I write what I like to read. And what I like to read most are Regency Historicals and Mysteries. So what I’m trying to do is blend together some combination of the two.

Sometimes I think it works better than others. I do know that my mystery plots aren’t always as complex or difficult to figure out as a true mystery–I think that’s because I sacrifice a bit of the mystery to the romance. After all, it’s not much of a romance if your hero and heroine never talk about anything but the mystery they’re trying to solve. And also there MUST be some sexy times! I insist upon it! So you get what I like to think of as Nancy Drew meets Jane Austen–or maybe Georgette Heyer if you want to be more precise.

As far as captive audiences, I don’t know! The number of positive reviews outnumber the negatives. But of course it’s the negatives I remember. And let me tell you, there is at least one person who DOES NOT like to have mystery mixed in with her romance! But that just means my books aren’t for her. Which is absolutely okay! There are enough books out there for everyone to find something they enjoy!

Can you give us a hint about the next novel in the series?

The next novel in the Wicked Widows Series is called WHY EARLS FALL IN LOVE Why-Earls-Fall-In-Love-by-Manda-Collins300x490and it is the story of Isabella’s friend Georgie, who also suffered a not so great marriage. The hero is the Earl of Coniston. He’s mentioned briefly in WDSID but is never onstage. The action of this one takes place in Bath and let us just say that our blackmailer is back in full force! Lots of adventures all over the spa-town!  It will be released the last week of January 2014.

OOOO! Scanty cover…Looking forward to another great read, Manda!

K&T Audience: to read an excerpt of Why Dukes Say I Do please click herehttp://www.mandacollins.com/why-dukes-say-i-do/#read-an-excerpt
For more information on Manda please visit www.MandaCollins.com or www.facebook.com/mandacollinsauthor

One lucky commenter will win a digital or paperback copy of Why Dukes Say I Do. Question: Who is your favorite Downton Abbey character and why? Check back on Thursday to see if we picked your name. (Paperback only available to mail in the continental states.)

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Join us tomorrow for Diana Belchase’s video interview of Allison Leotta and a preview of Allison’s latest book!
Allison Leotta

Allison Leotta

Coming Soon: Why Dukes Say I Do Plus Thursday’s Winner!!!

WDSID

Even in London society–where everyone knows what you did last season–you never know who’s next in line to walk down the aisle…

TRUE LOVE IS OFTEN FOUND
With her whirlwind social life in London, Lady Isabella Wharton has little interest in the customs of the country. But when her godmother asks her to pay a visit to her bachelor grandson in Yorkshire, Isabella can’t refuse. It behooves her to please the old dowager, since she harbors one of Isabella’s most scandalous secrets. So off she goes to see the newly-titled–and notoriously rustic–Duke of Ormond…

WHERE YOU LEAST EXPECT IT
Trevor Carey doesn’t care about what goes on behind ballroom doors. He is content with the simple life–and isn’t ashamed to admit it to a society flirt like Lady Isabella. But the country air brings out a different side of Isabella–one full of longing and passion. Can her sophistication be hiding a desire for love? When a blackmailer from the city arrives to threaten Isabella, Trevor will shield her from harm–even travel to London. Can the duke tackle the ton on Isabella’s behalf …and manage to keep her all to himself?  

WHY DUKES SAY I DO is coming to a bookstore near you on July 30th!!

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AND THE K&T THURSDAY WINNER IS: JANE!!!

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Congratulations, Jane! You’ve won a copy of CONCRETE EVIDENCE! Be sure to contact us with your email address and your ebook preference–kindle or nook–within 10 days.

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Next Tuesday, Montlake author Juliette Sobanet visits to tell us about MIDNIGHT TRAIN TO PARIS, her newest mystery set in 1930’s France.


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What’s in your beach bag? Summer reading with K&T…

Fourth of July week kicks off one of my favorite annual rituals: summer reading. There’s something about the hot days and slower pace that has me eagerly sliding books off my TBR pile and into my oversized beach bag along with the towels and swimsuits. This summer I’ll be reading the first book of a mystery series that’s been on my TBR pile forever, re-reading an old classic, and trying something completely different.

Here’s a peek at what’s in my bag:

Krista's Pool Bag

Baltimore Blues (The First Tess Monaghan Novel) by Laura Lippman

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

The Book of Rhymes: The Poetics of Hip Hop by Adam Bradley

But that’s not nearly enough for the whole summer so I asked my K&T blogmates to help me out by sharing their summer reading plans. To get a more complete picture, I also wanted to know about their favorite summer reading spots. Hope you have a pencil and paper handy to jot down these great suggestions 🙂

SARAH ANDRE

Criminal by Karin Slaughter

Fifth Grave Past the Light by Darynda Jones

When Lightning Strikes by Brenda Novak

Sarah’s fav reading spot: on the back porch in the morning (before it gets too hot) or sofa after dinner instead of TV.

RACHEL GRANT

Hush by Carey Baldwin

Ghost Planet by Sharon Lynn Fisher

Rush by Joan Swan

Rachel’s fav reading spot: usually in bed, but I’m looking forward to trying out the hammock my husband thinks I bought for him.

SHARON WRAY

The White Princess by Philippa Gregory (July 2013)

Shadow of the Crown by Patricia Bracewell

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

Bringing Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel

Sharon’s fav reading spot: any place where I can be alone, and during the summer that means in the car waiting for kids to finish their activities. But when I was a teenager, I lived on a lake and had a sunfish sailboat which I would take out in the morning, anchor in the middle of lake, and read for hours by myself. It was Heaven!

MANDA COLLINS

Unseen by Karin Slaughter

The Ninth Girl by Tami Hoag

Lost by S.J. Bolton

Manda’s fav reading spot: piled up in bed with my cats and dog!

GWEN HERNANDEZ

Unlawful Contact by Pamela Clare

Aftershock by Jill Sorenson

Moonshell Beach by JoAnn Ross

And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

Gwen’s fav reading place:  under a tree by the water on a mild, sunny day.  Usual reading spot: either standing at the kitchen table during my lunch, or–when I can grab a few minutes–sitting in my favorite chair in the extra room at the front of the house that no one else uses but me.

LENA DIAZ

Grave Danger by Rachel Grant

The Cursed by Alyssa Day

The Kill Room by Jeffery Deaver

Games People Play by Shelby Reed

Lena’s fav reading spot: on the couch with a pillow, a blanket, and a glass of ice-cold Diet Dr. Pepper.

CAREY BALDWIN

The Heiress Effect by Courtney Milan (July 15, 2013)

 Six Years by Harlan Coben

 Ashes, Ashes They All Fall Dead by Lena Diaz (September 2013)

 Why Dukes Say I Do by Manda Collins (July 30, 2013)

Carey’s fav reading spot: on the treadmill, with my ears. I’m turned on to audiobooks now and I can’t go back. 

DIANA BELCHASE recommends….

(Check out DianaBelchase.com for reviews)

Under His Nose by Candice Gilmer

Hush by Carey Baldwin

Last Refuge by Marcia Talley

All the books by K&T authors (check out the book covers on the right)

Diana’s fav reading spot: on the swing that hangs from the giant sycamore in my front yard.

Still looking for more titles? Check out the RITA Award nominees for best romantic suspense of the year: 2013 RITA Nominees

BTW, my fav reading spot: sprawled on the wicker couch on my screened porch with the fan blowing full blast, the cicadas kicking up a ruckus, and an ice cold popsicle in my hand.

What book is in your beach bag? And where’s your fav reading spot?

whitehouse 119Happy summer reading!!

The Perks of Being A Beauty . . . and Manda Collins!

Manda Collins

It’s a very special time here at Kiss and Thrill because it’s release day for our very own Manda Collins and her Regency romance novella The Perks of Being A Beauty.

Perks of Beign a Beauty

Not sure why a blog devoted to suspense readers is gushing over Regency romances? Just check out this amazing review from Romantic Times for Manda’s next release Why Dukes Say I Do (release date July 30, 2013).

“Witty and smart, Collins’ prose flows smoothly as she merges a charming, compassionate love story with gothic suspense. Collins again brings modern-day issues into the Regency period, compelling readers to identify with her three-dimensional characters. Add strong pacing and depth of emotion, and there’s no doubt this is a winner. Four and a half stars, Top Pick!”

Why Dukes Say I Do (5)

Not to be outdone,  The Perks of Being a Beauty is a lovely story of an unusual heroine seeking both forgiveness and redemption. It’s a story I just adored.

The beautiful Miss Amelia Snow is not accustomed to being snubbed by the gentlemen of the ton. But when her mother dies unexpectedly, forcing Amelia to take employment as companion to a wealthy cit’s daughter, she quickly learns to play down her looks or risk losing her position. When her employers, the Smithsons, decide to throw a country house party, she is determined to fade into the background. But how can she when the Smithson’s guest of honor is Lord Quentin Fortescue, the childhood friend who stole her heart?

Younger son, Lord Quentin Fortescue, is far more interested in his host’s cotton mills in the north than he is in courting the man’s dim-witted daughter. But it’s the girl’s companion who makes him look twice. Years ago, Miss Amelia Snowe rejected his proposal without a backward glance. Quentin has molded himself into just the sort of man she’d have wanted back then, but is Amelia still the smug beauty who broke his heart? And can either of them risk their newfound positions to indulge the fiery attraction that burns between them?

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And because we love Manda and her books so much, we’ve  intertwined her interview with a virtual blue bouquet in honor of her “blue” book. (Okay, maybe there’s a touch of purple and yellow!)

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SW: Manda, I am so thrilled about the acclaim your books have been getting. How much harder was it to write a novella versus a single-title book?

MC: I find novellas a great deal easier to write. Yes, you have to choose your words carefully because of word count limitations, but it’s much easier to hold all the details of a novella in my head than it is to do with a novel. I really like the compactness of a novella, the way you can look at issues much more closely than you can in a novel, when you have to keep up the pace and not dwell on any one thing. I’d love to write three or four novellas a year. They recharge my batteries before I dive into a longer project.

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SW: It’s never easy redeeming a difficult character from other stories, yet you do a splendid job with Amelia. Were you worried about what your readers would think about her redemption? Especially considering her awful behavior in the Ugly Duckling books?

MC: Thank you! But, I’m STILL worried! For whatever reason, readers seem to be more forgiving of heroes with flaws than of heroines. And even though I feel like Amelia has grown and changed (as heroines do in their own novels) I know that all readers aren’t going to take her redemption seriously. Which is okay. They aren’t required to. But I am relieved that a number of readers are going along with Amelia on her journey toward becoming a better person.

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SW: Your redemption of Amelia was witty and believable. What, specifically, did you do in this story to make her more sympathetic?

MC: I looked at the things she was doing that were so awful in the earlier books and tried to imagine what might have brought her to that point. What made her into the kind of person who would sneer and scoff and generally make life miserable for her peers? And I discovered that she’d been influenced by her mother and as many of us do when we “grow up” she realized that her mother’s way of doing things was perhaps not the right way. And so, she began to unthaw and make amends for her past wrongs. Seeing her make amends is important to helping readers believe she can become a better person.

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SW: I love the fact Amelia wears glasses (and that Quentin makes her wear them). How common was it for women of the Ton to wear them in public?

MC: You know, I’m not all that sure. I confess to using my own feelings about being a “girl who wears glasses” and Marilyn Monroe’s character from How to Marry a Millionaire for those bits. And I think Amelia without her spectacles was sort of a disguise in reverse. When she’s wearing her glasses, she’s acknowledging her true self. But when she’s not, she’s denying it. So by making her wear them, Quentin is at once accepting her for who she is, and making her do so as well.

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SW: When you’re writing, do you connect more intensely with the hero or the heroine?

MC: It depends on the book. One of the things I like about writing romance is that I get to focus on two protagonists instead of one. So I can explore life from two different perspectives and life experiences. Of course, in every book there’s going to more of a focus on one or the other, and with me, which one depends on which character has the most to overcome. Or alternately, which character needs to change the most. I tend to write the first draft with the heroine in mind and the second draft with the hero.

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SW: You write description and dialogue beautifully, but which do you prefer to write?

MC: Oh, dialogue without a doubt. There’s just something intoxicating about carrying on dialogue with imaginary characters. Especially when YOU are playing both parts. Maybe it assuages my inner actress? Whatever the reason, I love writing banter. Always have. 🙂

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SW: How long did it take you to get published? How did you find your agent?

MC: From the time I finished my first novel to actual publication it took four years. I finished my first book, a Victorian historical called Portrait of a Nightingale, in 2008 and started querying in late 2008/early 2009. I got my agent, Holly Root, from a cold email query I sent to her in October of ’08. I sent her my partial, she asked for the full, and I heard back from her in March of the next year asking me to make some revisions before she could offer representation. I was recovering from open heart surgery at the time, so I had to ask for a little time.

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She was understanding and told me to take my time. (Which was HARD, let me tell you.) And when I sent her the revisions, she got back to me in a month and I signed with her in October. So the process took around a year. Though Portrait got a lot of editorial interest, it was a little too outside the box and didn’t sell. So the next year, I decided to go back to my roots and write a Regency. How to Dance with a Duke sold after four months on submission.

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SW: Do you think being a librarian had an effect (good or bad) on your decision to become an author?

MC: Not really. I love books of course—always have—but to me librarianship is only minimally about the contents of the items we collect and organize. It’s more about being able to boil them down to their essence and describe them for others to find. Let’s be honest: there’s no possible way that librarians can read and understand every book they catalog or recommend! And I wanted to be a writer long before I decided to become a librarian. It does give me extra opportunities to squee, though. Seeing my books in Worldcat for the first time was a real high that I don’t think anyone who isn’t a librarian would appreciate.

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SW: What is the one thing you wish you’d known before you got “The Call”?

MC: I wish I’d known that “The Call” doesn’t spell an end to your days of fretting over what people think of your book. Yes, it does mean that you’ve finally moved onto the next rung of the ladder. But there’s just more chances to be judged waiting for you on every rung of the ladder. First it’s whether you get into WalMart or Target, then it’s what the big review journals think of it, then it’s what reviewers think of it, then it’s what readers think of it. Then the process starts all over again with your next book. It’s literally never ending. And what’s really crazy-making is that it even continues for authors who are New York Times bestsellers. Because as soon as one book hits it, then it becomes about hitting higher than your last book. And if you don’t there’s teeth-gnashing about why and what you can do next time.

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Not to say that I don’t LOVE this business. I do. But you’ve got to come into it with the knowledge that people are always judging you. And to keep your sanity, you’ve got to be able to step away from all that and focus on the writing. If you can’t, then you’ll be miserable. And worse, you’ll find it impossible to concentrate and your work will suffer.

My advice? Just let go of what you can’t control and concentrate on what you can. Be zen about it.

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SW: Great advice, Manda. And as a special treat, Manda is debuting her new trailer for The Perks of Being A Beauty right here on Kiss and Thrill.

SW: Thank you, Manda, for sharing your release day with us. And because Manda is as sweet as she is talented, she is giving away three e-copies of The Perks of Being A Beauty to three lucky commenters. Now, we’d love to know . . . how do you feel about the redemption of difficult heroines? (we will not use the “b” word, but you get what we mean :))

How-to-Romance-a-RakeManda Collins is the author of the Ugly Ducklings Trilogy, a series of historical romance novels. Manda spent her teen years wishing she’d been born a couple of centuries earlier, preferably in the English countryside. An affinity for books led to a graduate degree in English, followed by another in librarianship. By day, she works as an academic librarian at a small liberal arts college, where she teaches college students how to navigate the tangled world of academic research. A native of coastal Alabama, Manda lives in the house her mother grew up in.

You can find Manda on her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

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!

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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. www.MandaCollins.com

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!

 

 

Join us Tuesday to Celebrate our Anniversary!

The nine authors of Kiss and Thrill are celebrating our ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY on Tuesday! Please join us for an exciting post written by our very own Gwen Hernandez as she asks each K&T lady what their favorite post or memory is from our K&T blog in the past year.