Saturday, March 31, 2007

Feels Like Family

Well, this is it - The third and final installment of The Sweet Magnolias. I'm a little sad, truth be told. I did so enjoy my time with Maddie, Dana Sue, and Helen. But, like all good things, it has to come to an end. I feel pretty lucky, this book wasn't supposed to be released until April, but I found it while shopping out of town with my sis, and grabbed this baby up! So, just to refresh, if you haven't read the other two books, you can check out my dish here, and then go buy these books and read them in order. The good thing is, if you buy one, there is a coupon in the back for a dollar off the purchase of your next Sweet Magnolia book. I didn't use mine, that would mean cutting something out of a book, and I just could not do that. I know - NERD! And now, without further ado...

FEELS LIKE FAMILY by Sherryl Woods

Life can be full of surprises...

Helen Decatur spent a lifetime setting goals - getting through college and law school, opening her own practice, becoming financially secure and establishing herself as one of the most highly respected matrimonial attorneys in the state of South Carolina. Achieving those goals was a breeze compared to the one she's faced with now.

The most driven - and cynical - of the Sweet Magnolias, Helen is forty-two, single and suddenly ready for the family she's put on the back burner for all these years. Unfortunately, having a child at her age comes with lots of complications, not the least of which is the absence of a serious relationship in her life.

But Helen's not the type of woman to wait around for fate to step in. Taking charge of her own destiny puts her at odds with her two best friends, sets sparks flying with a man who doesn't want a family, and leads her straight into the most unexpected complication of

I actually liked this BCC, but it is a bit misleading, if only in a small way. The only thing I can argue with is the "puts her at odds with her two best friends" part. They do have a tiff, but not really like this makes it sound. That isn't something that would sell the book for me anyway, but perhaps they thought making it sound more serious would entice readers. I don't know, but honestly, the beef I have with this one is so small it's inconsequential.

Helen Decatur has always been focused on being the best divorce attorney she could be. After a less than secure childhood, Helen swore she would never lack for anything, and when the time was right, neither would her children. Unfortunately, Helen was so focused on her career and being the best, she never got around to the children part. At forty-two, Helen's biological clock has started ticking, and it if the noise it's making is any indication, it has a bomb on the other end.

Never the type to jump into something blind, Helen has been reading books, seeing high risk obstetricians, and weighing the options of how to have the baby. But Helen doesn't want her child to be born from some impersonal injection, and when her friends start to question if Helen really wants to have a baby, she starts to question herself.

But when Karen, a single mom with two kids and a deadbeat dad who works for Dana Sue, shows up in Helen's office asking for help, Helen steps in. In order to help Karen save her job and her mind, Helen takes on Karen's two kids as she gets the help she needs to get her life back on track.

Erik Whitney went to culinary school after his wife and unborn child died, and as an EMT he had been helpless to save them. When Dana Sue Sullivan hired him right out of school to be her pastry chef at Sullivan's in small town Serenity, Erik finally felt like he had found a place to forget the pain. Erik and Helen have always had a spark, but coming from opposite ends of the attitude scale, they both knew they would never be more than friends. So why the heck did he kiss her? And why the heck can't he get her off his mind? And now that Helen is taking care of Karen's kids, Erik seems to be spending more and more time with the uptight woman. Only she doesn't seem so uptight anymore, and Erik isn't sure how much longer they can put off the inevitable of ending up in bed.

When Karen is strong enough to have her kids back, Helen is devastated until she realizes that without a doubt she wants a baby. She even has a perfect plan to accomplish just that.

So when an angry and crazy ex-husband of one of Helen's clients goes off the deep-end and decides that Helen must pay for the settlement she got his ex-wife, Erik steps in to protect Helen and she moves into his house for a while. And when opportunity knocks, Helen has never been one to ignore it. If she can just avoid her very astute friends, and protect her heart, she'll have a baby in no time.

What Helen didn't expect was how hard it would be to let Erik go, and how very much he had lost and why his feelings were the way they are. Helen may eventually get what she wants, but it may be just the thing that can turn her entire life into turmoil.

When I first started reading FLF, I wasn't sure I liked how Woods had Helen keeping Karen's kids. I wasn't sure how it would all play out and it seemed really - I don't know - off. But it wasn't long and I was sucked into the story just as I was the other two, and forgot all about my first misgivings. Helen has always been my favorite of the Magnolia's, strong and confident, loves her friends fiercely and would do anything for them. Helen is just the kind of woman that you want on your side, but Lord knows she needs taken down a notch. It was really nice to see the woman that sees nothing good in marriage after so many years in divorce court, find love.

Feels Like Family, was the perfect way to end the trip to Serenity, I would have liked to see Maddie and Dana Sue a little more at the first of the book (it isn't until Chapter 5 we even see Maddie) but eventually they show up and bring the guacamole and margaritas, with a side of tough but unconditional love.

I enjoyed the contrast that Karen's situation had with Helen's, but I also liked that deep down, Karen and Helen both needed the same thing - Love - and watching them tackle their personal demons was wonderful.

Erik was the type of Hero every woman wants. The man can cook, has a protective streak a mile wide, and is good looking. He's flawed and that too, made me really love him more. Erik wasn't the only one with demons to fight, and with The Sweet Magnolias, Erik found himself, too.

So, I'll say it again, READ THESE BOOKS! Grab your best girlfriends, guacamole, and margaritas, and enjoy life with The Sweet Magnolias. Laughter, love, family and friendship can get us through anything in life, and Woods serves it all up in this wonderful trilogy.

Take Care

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Just real quick... Books are involved

I want to thank Chari-Dee, for keeping things on track the past few weeks. I've had a bit of a rough ride, and she's been a rock. I'm sorry for letting so many things slip, you deserve better, but I've set aside some time this week to get things back on track.

To that end, I need your help.

If you've won books from a contest that I've run and haven't received them yet, PLEASE - send me an e-mail at deeanddeedish AT sbcglobal DOT net . Remind me what contest you won and remind me of your address. I know I should already have this stuff, but honestly, my head has been in such a fog lately, that it will be a tremendous help to me if you just send the e-mail and remind me. It will be easier than me sorting through scads of e-mails that I just can't even make sense of right now.

I know I owe some of you some books, because they are still sitting here in a pile, all ready to mail out. I haven't forgotten, I've just been otherwise occupied. I'm sorry, I really am. So just remind me. Put "dee, you owe me books" in the subject line, so I can go straight to those e-mails and get your books sent out to you this week. And again, please accept my most sincere apologies. This is not how I normally do things, and there really is no excuse, except that I've been dealing with some stuff that has taken my time and focus away from here.

I'm trying to get back here though. Because I have some really cool things planned for the next few weeks.

I'm still going to do the "Hometown Hero Week", very soon. So get your hometown story ready for me. I'll be giving away signed books for that one. (Sneak peek - books by Elaine Fox and Hope Tarr!)

I've also got my FAB Pick for April lined up, and I'm so excited about it I can hardly stop from sloshing wine all over myself! (Have you guys figured out who it is yet? First one to comment with the correct name will win a book, or something!)

So, to sum up - if you've won, zap me an e-mail to remind me, and please include your address. And check back here often, because I promise to get back here and kick off some great theme weeks. And THANKS, Dee. You're the greatest. But I already knew that. :)

Keep turning those pages!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Hell's Belles - Jackie Kessler

Hey there, Lovelies. I hope your week-end was FABulous, I had a great one, the weather held and we spent lots of time outside with the kiddos, barbecued dinner, and just flat out had a good time. Real quick, I want to shout out, "HAPPY BIRTHDAY" to my niece who turned 5 yesterday and "HAPPY ANNIVERSARY" to that wonderful man I call The Hubs, eight years ago today he made me the happiest woman alive. Amazing how fast time flies. And now without further ado...

HELL'S BELLES by Jackie Kessler


Once upon a time, Jezebel was a powerful succubus, capable of seducing men and sucking out their souls. But that was before Hell put a bounty on her head. Now her only chance to escape a fate far worse than death is to live as a mortal, losing herself in a sea of unfamiliar humanity, in a place where sinners walk hand-in-hand with saints - a place like Belle's strip club in New York City.

Working as an exotic dancer is a piece of cake for a former demon who once specialized in sex. Taking money from men? Please. It's like leading lawyers to the Lake of Fire. Plus the lingerie is great. But she hadn't counted on meeting sexy Paul Hamilton, a man haunted by his past. Good-bye, succubus; hello, lovestruck. Learning all about how complicated - and pleasurable - love can be, Jezebel thinks she's turned her back on Hell.

But Hell hasn't stopped looking for her. The secrets Jezebel holds are the most dangerous of all, the kind every demon in the Underworld would do their worst to protect. Demons are closing in, which is enough to make Jezebel shiver in her G-string. But it's her love for Paul that's going to have deadly consequences...

Yowzah! That's a long BCC. I'm also not so sure it didn't spoil part of the book for me. It had me right up to the end...

Jezebel is a fifth level demon that works as a succubus. Her job in Hell is to seduce men, have sex with them, suck their souls out and deliver them straight to Hell. But when the ruler of Hell makes an announcement, life as Jezebel knows it is turned upside down. Unable to handle the new rules, Jezebel leaves Hell behind. Only Hell doesn't want to be left, and soon a bounty is placed on Jezebel's head high enough to bring out some of the baddest in Hell.

With the help of a witch from Massachusetts, Jezebel trades life as a demon for that of a mortal, and as long as she doesn't use her powers, the spell will hold and she will be human. Leaving Massachussets for New York, Jezebel meets Paul Hamilton on the train and the sparks fly. When Paul shows up at Belles things really start to heat up. Paul and Jezebel really start to connect, but what does a former demon know of love? Lust? Oh yeah, she has that covered, but love?

And it's true that there is no rest for the wicked, Hell is hot on Jezebel's heels and as a human, she must now learn to deal with emotions she's never had and that pesky little voice we all have known as a conciseness.

I have conflicting emotions about this book. While I enjoyed it overall, I didn't really realize I enjoyed it until it was over. Sounds silly I know, but I spent a rather large portion of the book lost. Each chapter is titled with a location, and the time frame is not always the present. The book starts in the here and now, then goes back a few hours (?) days, I'm still not quite clear on that, and shows events that lead up to the Announcement that rocked Jezebel so badly that she left. You don't find out what the big Announcement is until the end, and that really bothered me. If it was so gosh dern important to why Jezebel is running, perhaps we should have found out sooner. Once again, the time frame thing, we find out near the end, but only after something major happens in the present. I honestly wanted to go through and rearrange the chapters to make for easier reading.

There are some very amusing moments in BELLES, but a few of them were riffs that played through the book, and got old very fast. Two for instances - Jezebel says "Bless Me" a lot. At first, I found this endearing, but after what felt like the hundredth time, I had grown tired. Also, Jezebel does a lot of mental note taking. Once again, at first it was OK, but as time wore on, I wanted to scream, for pity sake, get a pen and write it down!

My FAB pick this month was SUCCUBUS BLUES, and I did enjoy the contrast in the worlds. Aside from both being succubi, Georgie and Jezebel are nothing alike, nor are their worlds. And I did like that, Kessler had a different spin on Hell and it's purpose and I enjoyed that bit of mythology.

All in all, HB was worth my time to read, I'll definitely give her next book a shot, I think now that I know what to expect from Kessler's writing, I won't be so easily confused this next go round. Like I said, I enjoyed the book, I just didn't realize until I finished it and could put all the pieces in an order I could understand.

Take Care

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Almost Like Being In Love - Christina Dodd

Hello Lovelies! Today's dish is book two of a trilogy I discovered earlier this month. I know these aren't new release books, but I haven't read them yet, so they are new to me and I want to dish them. For a refresher on the dish I did about the first book, JUST THE WAY YOU ARE you can click here. And now, without further ado...


As the middle child, Pepper Prescott's rebellious nature helper her survive when her parents disappeared and she and her siblings were sent to different foster homes around the country, Now an independent young woman, Pepper finds herself on he run after witnessing a shooting. Fearing for her life, Pepper flees to the only place she ever considered home and is shocked to find her old lover, Dan Graham, living on the remote mountain ranch, A battle-hardened ex-Special Forces soldier, Dan no longer strikes Pepper as a man she can trust with her secrets, her life, and her love. Bit as long-simmering desires flare into a deep, sensual passion, Pepper realizes the only way she can reclaim her life is to ally herself with the enigmatic warrior who's willing to help fight for her future by solving he mysteries of her past - and making her his wife today.

To tell you the truth - I'm not sure how I feel about that BCC. It sounds OK, but then I think about it and realize that no, it's not quite right. That fine line that some of these BCC's walk, well this one has one foot firmly planted on both sides. I think I like that even less than the ones that out and out lie to me. Hmmmmmm. I must think on this new type of BCC wrongness.

As an eight year old, Pepper Prescott often got in trouble, even with a strong will and ornery nature, Pepper always felt safe with her family, knowing they would love her no matter how she acted out. But when her parents died and she was ripped away from everything she knew, Pepper used those same traits to keep people at a safe distance and her heart safe. Angry at her parents for dying and her older sister Hope for not keeping the family together, Pepper went from foster home to foster home never feeling loved. Then, when she was 16, Pepper went to live with Mrs. Driess, a widowed woman in her sixties, that loved to garden and loved Pepper just as much. Pepper started to love her back and the small town but realized she would never really belong. Losing her virginity to Dan Graham, the most popular good looking guy in school, left Pepper scared of things to come, so before he could hurt her, Pepper ran that very night. But she could never run far enough or long enough to forget Dan Graham.

Dan Graham has lead a dangerous life since Pepper ran out of his life nine years ago. Working in Special Forces, Dan has seen more than his share of death, caused it too. When he kills the son of one of the nastiest terrorist out there (and almost loses his in the process) that terrorist wants revenge, and nothing but Dan's life will do. Dan wants this man dead as well, so heading back to his hometown, Dan sets up a trap while staying at the deceased Mrs. Driess' ranch. He's been trying to find Pepper, the one woman who haunts his memory as much as anything else he's ever seen, he needs to let her know that she has inherited the Driess Ranch, but he needs to finish his mission first.

General Jennifer Napier has been an inspiration to Jackie Porter, aka Pepper Prescott. Reading about the General and how she pulled herself out of self-destructive behavior, Pepper has followed her books and advice to become a very strong and successful businesswoman. But when going back to a signing to get the General's latest book signed for Mrs. Driess, Jackie hears the General being confronted about selling information to the terrorists. When the General kills the man, Jackie drops her signed books and takes off running for her life. How will she ever escape one of the most powerful women in the military, especially since that woman will now want to use her as the scapegoat for the murder.

Saying Good Bye to her Jackie Porter image, Pepper takes off running for mountain ranch and the safety and wisdom of Mrs. Driess. Only once there, it isn't Mrs. Driess she finds, but Dan Graham. And when Pepper learns the truth of Mrs. Driess, she's not sure what to do next. She's never forgotten Dan, never been able to be with any other man. But Dan isn't the same boy she left nine years ago, he very well could now be working for the same woman that wants her dead.

Dan hasn't forgotten Pepper, either. And the effect she has on him is every bit as strong now as it was when he was a teenager. But Pepper has a secret, and Dan can't stand secrets. Is she working for the enemy? Or can he take the ultimate step and trust her? Can he find her family this time around and convince her to stay with him?

I had really enjoyed the first book in this trilogy, so I had very high hopes for this one. And while I enjoyed it, I'm not sure it lived up to the expectations I had. Pepper isn't longing to be reunited with her family as Hope is, and Pepper and Dan already know each other and have quite the past. I think, for me, I was disappointed that it wasn't a book about Pepper finding her family like Hope's story had been.

I wasn't very fond of Dan Graham either. He used sex to manipulate Pepper, and she let him. There were times, she would say NO and he kept pushing her until it happened. I noticed that Dodd had done this in one of her historicals that I read, and while I didn't much like it then, it didn't put me off as much as it did with this one. I felt that Pepper allowing Dan and sex to have that much control of her mind, made her weak and that underscored everything Dodd was trying to get across about Pepper, for me anyway.

Also, the reunion with her family at the end felt - well, just wrong. The language they used would have been more at home in a Dodd historical than it was in this contemporary and something Pepper didn't even work for during the course of the book, so it just felt off and like it didn't really fit with the first book.

I did like that we had a few scenes from Hope's world. I like to see recurring characters in trilogies, and I like to see what is going on in their lives NOW, instead of just getting a short re-cap. The action of the book was also well written, if out of place in my mind.

All in all, I'm glad I read it, because I want to know what happened with their parents, I wish we would have gotten more hints, though. We really learn nothing new on the great mystery that surrounds her parents death and the small Texas town that is trying to cover it up, and that did bother me some. I'll definitely have to read the last book, if nothing more than to find out what happened with the parents. I sincerely hope that it is just as entertaining as the first and this second installment was simply a miss with me because of my mood when I read it.

Since this isn't a newly released book, if anyone has read it, I would love to know how you felt about it, and if you've read the third and final book, I'd LOVE to have some thoughts on that as well!

Take Care

Monday, March 19, 2007

Stealing Home and A Slice of Heaven - Sherryl Woods

Hey there Lovelies. Before I begin I just want to remind everyone that if you have pets, check the food they are eating and make sure it isn't one of the ones that are on recall. We lost our cat this week-end and he eats the food that was on recall. I don't want anyone else to go through that, we had no idea the food was on recall and it happened so fast! And now on to business, I'm doing something a bit different with today's dish. I read STEALING HOME last month, and just finished A SLICE OF HEAVEN today, and since I haven't dished on SH yet, and these books are part of The Sweet Magnolia Trilogy, I thought I'd dish them together so if you haven't had a chance to read them yet, you'll be ready to gobble them up in time for when the third and final Sweet Magnolia has her book out next month. So without further ado...

STEALING HOME by Sherryl Woods

There's nothing like a little serenity . . .

Maddie Townsend might live in a town called Serenity, but there's been nothing calm or peaceful about her life since her marriage broke up. This stay-at-home mom has no job skills, an out-of-control sixteen-year-old son, a talkative fourteen-year-old who's suddenly gone silent, a six-year-old daughter whose heart is broken, an ex-husband whose younger girlfriend is expecting their baby and two best friends who think she's somehow qualified to help them open a fitness spa for women.

But if Maddie is a tad on edge with all that on her plate, it's nothing compared to the chaos that ensues when she discovers that her son's baseball coach has feelings for her and the whole town disapproves. Maddie's faced a lot of challenges lately with strength and resolve, but Cal Maddox may turn out to be more than she can handle.

Then again, he could just be the one man in all of South Carolina who can help her find serenity.


The perfect recipe for beginnings . . .

Dana Sue might run the best little restaurant in Serenity, but when you're feeding a small town of neighbors, busybodies and best friends, things can get a bit hot in the kitchen. Never mind that she's putting on too many pounds (an occasional occupational hazard for a chef)—she's worried about her too-skinny teenage daughter, Annie, who has been slowly starving herself since the loud, suitcase-tossing, name-calling fit on her front lawn that left Dana Sue minus one cheating husband.

But sometimes life picks strange ways to mend fences. When Annie lands in the hospital, Dana Sue reaches out to the man she loves to hate: Ron, the husband who took her heart when she tossed him out. Ron is still Annie's white knight, even if she's decidedly more tarnished in Dana Sue's eyes. But he still looks good enough to eat, and maybe, just maybe, to forgive. Once, Ron made the mistake of letting go without a proper fight. But now Dana Sue is about to get another taste of sweet devotion from a man tired of feeling like a fool, hungry for that slice of heaven he found with her . . .

The Sweet Magnolias, aka - Maddie Townsend, Dana Sue Sullivan, and Helen Decatur have been friends living in small town Serenity for as long as they can remember. In the first book, STEALING HOME, Maddie finds herself with a cheating pediatrician husband, who leaves her for his new young nurse that is pregnant. Although Helen, Maddie's friend and divorce lawyer, has assured that Maddie will receive a good sum in child support and alimony (I know, it isn't called that anymore, maintenance, spousal support, whatever) Maddie still knows she needs to get a job to help support herself and the kids. The problem is, Maddie has spent the last 20 years married to Bill Townsend, raising their children and helping Bill get his practice off the ground and thriving. What does she possibly have that any future employer would want in an employee?

So when Helen and Dana Sue tell her that they want to open up a new spa and health club for women in small Serenity, and they want Maddie to be their partner and run the place, Maddie is suspicious. She doesn't want her friends opening something just so she has a job, especially something as risky as a new business in such a small town. And she finds it hard to believe they only want to do it because they both need to get control of their health (Helen for her blood pressure and Dana Sue so she won't get diabetes like her mother). Telling her friends that she'll run some numbers, continue to see what else was in the market, and get back to them, thinking that she just doesn't have the skill and know-how to do what they expect. Disappointing her friends with letting their business fail just doesn't sound like something Maddie can deal with on top of everything else.

When Ty, Maddie's oldest son, starts to act out against his father, he doesn't just do it at home. Once the star on the school baseball team, Ty has been playing poorly, skipping school, his grades are slipping, and he's being disrespectful to his teachers, his coach and his teammates. And even though Maddie sees some of it, she is still surprised to get the call from Cal Maddox, Ty's ball coach asking for a meeting to discuss Ty's behavior.

When Maddie walks into Cal's office, he is once again amazed at how beautiful she is. And once he discovers what's been going on at the Townsend home, he is even more amazed at how strong Maddie is. Deciding to be there for Ty and help Maddie as a friend, Cal soon falls in love with Maddie. So what if she's 10 years his senior? She's beautiful. A great mother. A wonderful friend. And hopefully she'll soon be his.

As Maddie and Cal's relationship starts to deepen, and she agrees to go into business with her friends, the small town of Serenity decides they don't like the fact that their baseball coach and teacher is falling for a mother of one of his students, let alone one who isn't even officially divorced. With the entire town against them, Cal's job is threatened and the Spa may never even have a chance to get off the ground. Can Cal and Maddie find a way to save Cal's job, help her oldest son come to grips with his anger, her middle son find his sense of humor again, and her daughter stop crying for the man who left them all? Maddie just doesn't know. Especially when Bill (Maddie's soon-to-be ex) announces that he and his girlfriend will be getting married as soon as the divorce is final. It all just seems too much. But with the Sweet Magnolia's and Cal in her corner, Maddie soon finds out just how powerful good friendships and true love can be.

In the second book, A SLICE OF HEAVEN, Magnolia Dana Sue Sullivan gets her turn. When Ronnie Sullivan cheated on Dana Sue two years ago, she kicked him out with such a loud display of clothes throwing and cussin', the whole town of Serenity knew about it within seconds. Consoling herself with food, keeping busy raising her daughter and opening a new restaurant, that soon becomes the hottest place to eat in the area, Dana Sue knows her health is suffering. Her mother died of diabetes, but it's so hard to take care of herself when she's so busy owning a thriving restaurant and taking care of her daughter Annie.

As Dana Sue watches, she sees her once lively, beautiful and happy daughter Annie start to literally wither away. Worried she may be anorexic, but wishing it not to be true, Dana Sue tries her best to make sure Annie has healthy meals and eats them. But when during a planned sleep over the Magnolia's helped her organize so she could see if Annie is eating, Annie collapses and is rushed to the hospital unable to breathe on her own.

With Maddie's encouragement, Dana Sue does what she knows she must, calls her ex-husband about their daughter. Although she doesn't want to because he left and didn't come back, if he were still there, he would know what was going on. What's more, Dana Sue's not so sure her heart and mind are on the same page as far as that man is concerned.

When Ronnie Sullivan made the mistake of his life by cheating on his wife with a one night stand, he let Helen Decatur convince him it was the best thing to do, in that not nice I will eat you for dinner way she has. But he's tired of working every construction job he can get, and his daughter is just now starting to talk to him again. He wants to go home to Serenity and find a way back into the best thing that ever happened to him - Dana Sue and Annie. If fate doesn't step in soon, Ronnie's going back anyway, he just can't live without them any more. But fate does step in, only Ronnie wasn't expecting Fate to be so cruel. How did his once vibrant daughter get to this point? He isn't leaving Serenity ever again, and he doesn't care how Dana Sue feels about that. Though, he hopes that with a little work, she'll be every bit as happy about it as he is.

While STEALING HOME is a wonderful book and I immediately fell in love with the Sweet Magnolias and Serenity, A SLICE OF HEAVEN made me love them even more. I'm not sure if that reason is because I got to know the Magnolias even better or because Woods tackles some heavy issues with wit, humor and warmth, and I'm not sure I even care, I just know that as excited as I am to read Helen's story, I'm going to miss not having any more books from Serenity.

In ASOH, Dana Sue's daughter, Annie has anorexia, and I can't tell you what a scary thing for a mother to contemplate. Woods wrote such powerfully real scenes, made the characters so flawed they were actually human to me. I knew these women and men, I knew this child and her friends. We see Annie's POV, Dana Sue's POV, and Ronnie's POV, in Heaven, and they worked together so well to understand each character and what they were dealing with.

I'll admit, there were times I really disliked Dana Sue, but as I read I realized I was disliking her because she was making mistakes that any mother ,including myself, would make. No one wants to believe that their daughter has a life threatening disorder. No one wants to believe that their own issues have caused their child pain and suffering. And forgiving and forgetting are not traits that I posses easily either. When I realized this, I wanted to hug Dana Sue, because if I ever had to deal with what she does, I honestly don't think I could be as strong.

So, when your done reading this dish, grab your girlfriends, some chips and guacamole and margaritas, and these two books. Get ready to laugh, cry, cheer, love and triumph with the Sweet Magnolias, you'll never take for granted the true power of friendship again. Woods has managed to capture the true feelings of the South, small towns, friendship and women's health and merge them together in a great new series, that will have you begging to be a Magnolia. And once you've finished these two, look for Helen's story next month. I'll dish all about it as soon as I have my hot little hands on it.

Take Care

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Kisses To Go - Irene Peterson

Before I start today's dish, I'd like to send my deepest sympathies to dee and her family who lost a dear friend today. If you have time, please head over to her blog and give her some love. And then when your done, please grab up your love ones and give them all the hugs and kisses you can. And now, without further ado...

KISSES TO GO by Irene Peterson

She's Always Losing Her Heart...
If the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, why is chef Abby Porter still sleeping alone? Yes, she likes getting paid to whip up goodies in a well-equipped kitchen, but she would love to get into a good relationship with a well-equipped guy who won't break her heart. Hang on...who's the tall, sexy man with the accent?

He's Never Misplaced His...
A newly minted earl like Ian Wincott has more important things to do than get overly acquainted with a mere cook. And Abby Porter is from...New Jersey. That alone make his blue blood run cold, although he will admit that Abby is pretty. And amusing. Which must be why she attracts so much attention. How terribly American of her to enjoy it. Could it be that he is jealous? Or in love?

You know I have an obsession with BCC's right? Well, what you probably don't know is it all started with this authors first book, GLORY DAYS, exactly one year ago this month. I really liked the book. Then read the BCC and couldn't believe how far from the actual book the BCC was. I couldn't believe I had actually read the same book they were touting on the back. Unfortunately, this second book by Peterson is no different. That BCC up there? So far from the book it's stupid. I'm not sure if whoever wrote it even read the book. It is not the fun, feel-good book promised with that BCC. In fact, KTG had me saying WTH most of the way through.

Abby Porter catches her live-in boyfriend, Lance, doing the deed with another woman on her prep table in their loft. Getting out before he even knows she caught him, Abby heads straight to the airport to take off for the England vacation that was going to be a surprise romantic get-a-way with Lance. Since all of her belongings are in the loft with Lance and the harpie, Abby hits the airport with only the clothes on her back and a plastic grocery bag containing one little black dress and a pair of dress sandals. When the airline informs her they cannot refund the cost of her extra ticket, Abby accepts the upgrade to First Class much to the annoyance of the man she will be sitting next to.

Earl of Bowness, Ian Wincott, is less than pleased when the attendant tells him he'll have to move his papers to accommodate a last minute passenger. He is, after all, very important and always has an empty seat next to him. To make it even worse, Ian's new neighbor is a crass American with a penchant for crying.

Once in England, Abby is too exhausted to do much more than appreciate the chauffeured ride to her destination, Bowness Hall. Once there Abby does her best to remember the rules she read on proper etiquette, and enjoy the time she has to vacation before heading home in two weeks to start a new job. Although she enjoys her hostess (Tish the earl's sister), and the Duxbury's (the butler and his wife the cook), it soon becomes clear that things are not going to go like they are supposed to. Mrs. Duxbury soon takes a fall that puts her out of commission and Abby finds herself cooking not only for herself but the owners of Bowness. What's worse, when the Lord of the Manor, the earl himself comes home, it's clear he had no idea what his sister and the help had done by renting a room to Abby, and what's worse, he's the same stodgy man that sat next to her on the plane.

Ian Wincott is not the least bit happy to see he has an American house guest, or should he say renter. He has enough problems without adding to them. What's worse, Abby wants half her fee back ($5,000) since her companion did not make the trip with her, and Ian does not have it to give her. He's having money problems already as he tries to get funding for a new project (he's an architect), and no one seems to be willing to loan it to him. With relatives that hate Americans, and possible investors that seem to feel strongly that a man should have a wife, Ian's troubles seem to be growing by the second. At least Abby can cook, and even though they don't even like each other, perhaps she could pretend to be his fiance, just long enough for the American investor to hand over some money so he can complete his project and pay Abby the money he owes her. But while the charade seems like a good idea, will Abby and Ian be able to remember that they don't really love each other, and it's all just play?

I really was looking forward to this book. Like I said, I had really enjoyed Peterson's debut novel Glory Days, and just knew I would like whatever she put out next. I'm not sure if I'm just learning more about craft, or what, but KTG has got to be the most disappointing book I've read in a long time.

There are numerous problems with head-hopping, the author switches from Third Limited to Third Om only to go back to Limited. There are scene breaks where there shouldn't be, and no scene break where there should be.

The pacing of the book is snail. Numerous pages are spent on irrelevant information, with many plot points being introduced and then dropped until much later. There was mention of Abby feeling weird around some of the old structures, but the idea that it was magic didn't come about until later, and it seemed so forced, I found myself laughing at the absurdity of it all. There is even a King Arthur sub-plot that was so ridiculous even I almost put down the book unread.

Ian and Abby are just flat out unlikable. Ian is quite frankly a jerk, and Abby seems too much of flake half the time. Going from anger to compliance far too easily - Abby isn't the strong female I like to see in my Romances, she was a push-over with no spine. The Romance isn't shown to us, simply implied, with Ian and Abby having hardly any civil conversations until the end when they decide the love each other. I found myself rolling my eyes at the fact they didn't even like each other five pages ago and now they are in love.

While the book had promise, and character development could have been stellar, Peterson disappointed me, and I'm sad to say I won't be looking for her books again. In truth though, I had first read GD before I really started learning craft and if I read it again, could quite possibly find myself wondering what I ever saw in it. With slow to crawling pacing, loose POV's, and unlikable characters, KISSES TO GO is one I most definitely have to advise you to stay away from.

Take Care

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Strangeling - Saskia Walker - ADULT REVIEW

Hello, Lovelies! before I start dishing on this book, I want to offer a big CONGRATS! to the winners of this months FAB contests. I'm searching high and low for next months FAB pick and I'm sure dee is doing the same. In the meantime, stay tuned for some great dish and dee's "Hometown Hero Week" coming up shortly. And now, without further ado...

THE STRANGELING by Saskia Walker

One woman alone holds the power... undo the hundred-year-old curse of a deathless army. Maerose, a beautiful and resilient maiden, must repel this evil horde by mating with a man of faith - on Samhain Eve, at the gates of hell. Unleashed, the girl's dormant magic can save the world. But a demonic madman hungry for power threatens to doom them all...

This is the kind of BCC I like. Short and to the point. This kind of BCC leaves little room to misguide the reader to what the pages within contain, and I like that. As I've said before, if more publishers would adopt the less is more approach with the BCC's, I'd have less fodder, but readers would be happier.

When two fierce armies battle it out for the Strangeling (a mystical forest) they destroy each other, but as they lay dying, they agree they would have been much stronger fighting together than against. With that agreement, a curse was set. In one hundred years, the armies would rise again as demons, and rule the world. As their battle draws to an end, one of the elders of Western Tor, Amelia, sees what is to come, and that a maiden, who will come of age when the curse is to come to pass, will have the power to stop it from happening. "She is the heart of the Strangeling,...The daughter of Beltane." "She carries the spirit of summer in her every footstep...and she has the power to undo the curse..." And basically, she has to mate with a man of faith to break the curse.

All of the above information is given to us in the form of a Prologue, and really, you know how I feel about those. I did enjoy reading the prologue, but it was unnecessary. Everything we learn there is told in bits and pieces throughout the book. So while I did enjoy reading it, I think the pacing of the book would have been better without it.

When Maerose is kidnapped from the river while bathing, she finds herself held captive by a madman, Veldor. Initially thinking him an elder, she is doubly confused as to why he is being so cruel. After chaining her to the wall, Veldor makes sure that Maerose understands that he will make her his, and he will use her for his own gain of power.

When Bron senses that Maerose has been taken from Riversbend, he knows right away who is to blame - his once good friend Veldor. Both Bron and Veldor were raised by the elders at Western Tor, both taught how to use the magic that nature provides. They both studied the scrolls that told of the battle at the Strangeling. And they both knew either one of them could be the man of faith that would mate with Maerose on Samhain Eve.

Reaching deep into his magic, Bron rescues Maerose, and explains her destiny as written by the scrolls. But as Maerose and Bron get to know one another and Bron teaches her about his magic and the magic locked inside of her, Veldor also plans. Will Maerose and Bron be able to get to the Strangeling safely and overcome the evil below the earth as well as the evil that is Veldor's heart and desire for power? Will love and faith win? Or will all be be lost to a curse that was never meant to be broken?

I'll admit - I was surprised by how much I enjoyed STRANGELING. It isn't an OMG I cannot put this down kind of book but it is a very entertaining read. Walker creates a very believable world of magic and love. A world where magic is real but used by few. Walker made Maerose a very strong woman, yet at the same time very naive, and it was impressive how she could be both but not make me want to scream.

I also have erotica on my labels and I did so because the sex scenes in this book are very explicit. HOT, but very explicit. Very well written, but once again very explicit. And here is where I tell you that I am an absolute nerd. I'm reading these scenes (and there are a'plenty) and when the POV is Maerose, although the context was far from funny, I found myself giggling. I really did feel like a child at times. And this is NOT the author's fault. With the time frame of the book, the words used had me feeling like a kid caught reading momma's steamy Harlequins. Here's an example of what I mean, "Your teats are full with passion. Touch them for me."

But, STRANGELING is so much more than erotica or magic. At it's heart, STRANGELING shows how believing in ourselves and taking a chance really can pay off. There were also some very quotable moments in the book, and I just wanted to share one of those with you. "The best a couple can do is be strong for each other, if one of them is weak. Each one of us lives life like the ebb and flow of the tides, sometimes waning, sometimes fierce. Ultimately, though, one person cannot be strong all the time; in a couple, or a chain, they will always be strong." Even if the rest of the book would have been a stinker (which is definitely was not), the poetic way Walker weaved those words was enough to make the book a good read.

If you are looking for a straight Romance, you'll be very disappointed in THE STRANGELING. However, if you want a very well written, Erotic Fantasy, this books for you. I know I sure enjoyed it, and hope you will too.

Take Care

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


FAB - The Many Faces of Romance Week has come to an end. That's a bummer, I know. Frankly, it's been such a great week for us, having two FABulous authors hanging out, answering questions, and just dishing with us. Alyssa and Lani really made this week fun, didn't they?

But you want to hear about the winners, right? Well, I can do that. The following people are FAB winners:
The winner of the celebrity couple name of Lani and Fish (LASH) contest for a signed copy of The Fortune Quilt is... KAREN.
The winner of the tell your favorite Atlantis memory and all about your favorite quilt contest for a signed copy of The Fortune Quilt and a mystery prize is... MAUREEN.
The winner of the "BIG CONTEST" for 4 signed copies of Lani's books, plus cool prizes from Alyssa is... MICHELLE.

As these authors are totally on the ball and already asking where to send the prizes, I need you three ladies to contact me ASAP at with your snail mail address. That way, we can get that info to these FABulous authors and they can get your goodies in the mail to you.

If you didn't win anything during this FAB week, don't give up on us. I've got another special week coming up, called "Hometown Hero week". I'm going to review some books set right here in my own hometown. As a special sneak peek at winning the contest, start thinking up either A) your favorite book set in your hometown, or B) why your hometown should (or should NOT) be featured in a book.

Make sure you get to your local bookstore today and pick up The Fortune Quilt and Atlantis Rising. My copy of AR is finally in at the store, and I'm going to pick it up in the morning. I can hardly wait. Have you ordered yours yet? What about TFQ? I've already read it 4 times, and loved it more each time. I'm pretty sure you'll enjoy it as well!

And remember to thank both Lani and Alyssa for dropping in all week. They were both just FABulous!

Keep turning those pages!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

FAB Interview - Alyssa Day

I just love FAB weeks here at dee & Dee. I mean, we get to dish on some amazing books and dish with the amazing authors. My FAB pick this month, Alyssa Day, has absolutely had a FAB Release WEEK with her debut novel ATLANTIS RISING. It hit the BookScan bestsellers list a week before its release and next week, AR will be EIGHT on the Borders' mass market fiction bestsellers list. Absolutely amazing. I cannot think of a better book to be getting such attention, because ATLANTIS RISING is truly an amazing start to a promising new series. Congratulations, Alyssa!

Before I post my interview with Alyssa, I want to point you in the direction of some other (far better than mine) interviews done with Alyssa. Christine Feehan interviewed Alyssa here. Laura Florand posted an interview here. And PNR posted an interview here. So, once you've had a chance to read through my short interview, check out those other amazing interviews!

Chari-Dee - How did you come up with the idea for the Atlantis series? I can only imagine the amount of research that went into it, can you give some of your favorite sources for the information?

Alyssa - I’m an addict, I admit it. A mythological history junkie. If there are facts or archaeological evidence to be found that might possibly tie in with my preferred view of the universe – Atlantis really exists, Helen of Troy was real, vampires and shapeshifters are lurking at the edges of darkness – well, I’m all over it. I have been studying history and especially mythology, including lost civilizations, since I was a little girl. I have an entire bookshelf of reference books on the subject. And of course, with Atlantis, it all starts with Plato.

Chari-Dee - Can you explain Atlantis Rising in five sentences or less?

Alyssa - At its heart, ATLANTIS RISING is a love story wrapped in an epic quest. Prince Conlan’s love for Riley may force him to abdicate the throne – except that such an action may bring a second Cataclysm. Riley’s love for Conlan will drive her to sacrifice what she holds most dear in her life. Vengeful and capricious gods and goddesses have no regard for the desires of humans – but the Warriors of Poseidon will fulfill their duty to protect mankind. No matter the stakes -- no matter the cost.

Chari-Dee - How many books in the series will there be? Will each warrior have a book?

Alyssa - As many as readers want to read! I'm having so much fun with this series.

Chari-Dee - Can you tell us a bit about the next book?

Alyssa - Yes, Book Two of the Warriors of Poseidon series is actually a novella in the anthology WILD THING, coming out in May. (So not long to wait!) Bastien gets his story in Wild Hearts in Atlantis. Then in November, High Prince Conlan's brother Ven, who serves as the King's Vengeance, gets his story in ATLANTIS AWAKENING.

Chari-Dee - There has been much debate lately about the Paranormal Romance genre, and as a reader, I've noticed that the label does get tossed around fairly loosely. AR, is one of the few books that I have read that balances the two so well. There are so very many paranormal elements in AR (Atlantaen warriors, empaths, vampires, and were's) and the world building is solid, yet, the Romance is equally as solid and believable. Did you find yourself having to struggle with this balance while writing?

Alyssa - First, THANK YOU!! I'm so glad I achieved the balance, because yes, it was a struggle. I realized as I wrote ATLANTIS RISING that I had enough of the epic quest plot going on to write five books! And the romance was getting lost. So I ripped it apart and dove back in, focusing on the truly emotional love story between Conlan and Riley. And I am thrilled with how it turned out!

Chari-Dee - You also write non-paranormal under a pen-name, why not use the same name for this series as well?

Alyssa - The books I write as Alesia Holliday are very light and funny; my paranormal romance as Alyssa Day is very dark and twisty and sexy. I really wanted to distinguish the two. Incidentally, I wrote a couple of books for teens and used a different name for those, too. I didn't want a child to search out my romance novels.

Chari-Dee - As a new author in the PR genre ( a genre that is very popular right now), can you see a difference in the way you need to promote? Do you think the popularity of the genre helps or hinders, since there are so many new paranormals hitting shelves?

Alyssa - I believe the paranormal readers are extremely web-savvy as a group, so I'm focusing on viral marketing through the internet to try to get my name out there. I have a new MySpace page at, for example, and a rocking movie-style book trailer up at my website, I also have a discussion group listserv that is already starting to fill up! I love paranormal readers - they're so intelligent and well-read and totally fun to chat with!

And then Caffey in the comments asked - Alyssa, how many you plan for the series or is it now planned for just ongoing?

Alyssa - I'm planning to write the story for as long as the stories are fascinating to me and to the readers! Bastien and Ven are up next, then Denal and Lord Justice. But I have already planned out Alexios, Christophe, Reisen, Jack the weretiger (who meets a very fascinating Atlantean warrior maiden), and of course Alaric, who is literally haunting my dreams and demanding I write his story. Thank you for asking!!

I want to thank Alyssa again, for being such a FAB author and hanging out with us this week. I'm looking forward to many more books to come set in the world of Atlantis.

Take Care

Saturday, March 10, 2007

FAB - The Many Faces of Romance - Meet LANI!

As some of you know, I got the chance to actually sit down with Lani last week and spend some time with her. It was so much more fun that I ever thought it would be. She was gracious, and funny, and honest, and she opened up about her writing, and publishing, her Firth love, and of course, wine. So read on to learn more about Lani Diane Rich, author of my FAB Pick for March, The Fortune Quilt. And don't forget to check out Lani's podcast with Samantha Graves, Will Write For Wine. It airs tonight for the first time, and I can hardly wait to hear it. I've already got my wine picked out for this evening. I'm going with a cheap red Lambrusco. How about you guys?

dee: what's up with your name? Is it pronounced Lay-nee, or Lawn-nee (like from WKRP fame) or what? I'm only asking because I've heard people refer to you both ways.

Lani: Heh heh! Actually, my name is Hawaiian, despite the fact that no one in my family has ever so much as been there. I have no idea what my mother was thinking. I think it might have been a result of the drugs from the cesaerean. But, to put you out of your misery, it’s pronounced LAH-nee. Like Bonnie. Or Connie. Or Ronnie. Or Donnie. Or... well. You get the picture.

dee: What in the world made you decide to start writing? Was it something you've always wanted to do, or did you have to figure out a way to get the voices in your head to be silent?

Lani: I’ve enjoyed writing ever since I was a kid, it’s always kind of been a default activity for me, so when I thought about writing professionally, it was kind of like finding out you could get paid for breathing. “You can do that? Wow.” But then, I knew how hard it was to really make it as a professional writer, and I was married with kids by the age of 28, so I needed a real job. It wasn’t until I quit my job to stay home when I had my second baby that I had the freedom to really pursue the writing, and I haven’t looked back since!

dee: How much does your family support your writing career? Have there been times when you wished that they were more (or less) supportive? How do they choose to show their support? Do your children ever refer to you as an award winning author to impress their friends or teachers or soccer coaches? Would you ever insist that they do so?

Lani: My husband has always been wildly supportive. I think it’s hard on him because the work takes me away so much – it’s a full-time job, and between that and taking care of the kids and doing the websites and now the podcast, he’s feeling a little neglected, I think. Poor guy. Whenever I’m under deadline, he tends to get this look in his eye whenever he sees me, that “Don’t I know you from somewhere?” look. But he puts up with it, mostly because he’s hoping I’ll become a bestseller someday and, as he likes to say, “support me in the manner to which I hope to become accustomed.”

As for the kids, well, they’re kids. They’re 5 and 7 and they don’t really care what I do as long as I keep the fruit snacks coming. I do spend a lot of time in the back room on my laptop, shooing them away to go ask Daddy if they need something, but they handle it pretty well. They both write little books all the time and bring them to me, and we read them together, which warms the little cockles of my heart. (Cockles? Is that right? That doesn’t sound right. That sounds dirty. Maybe I’ve been writing romances too long...) Then they ask if they can read my books, and I say, “NO!” My kids are gonna learn about sex and cursing on the school bus, the way God intended. When they’re old enough to know better, I’m going to hide all the books and tell them I’m a dental hygienist.

dee: Are any of your characters modelled after people in your own life? If so, which ones? Which character was the most fun for you to write? Which one is most like you? Like your husband?

Lani: Well, I stole the opening scene in TIME OFF FOR GOOD BEHAVIOR from my friend Wanda’s life. (Also stole her name!) She’d actually been blown up in a gas explosion (no serious injuries, thankfully) and had a defense lawyer get in her face telling her she wanted to get blown up, and she got in his face right back. I love that story. At the point where my Wanda takes a swing at the lawyer (the real Wanda didn’t do that) the novel becomes all my own fabrication.

Aside from that, though, I don’t know if I’ve ever based a character on a real person. There are bits and pieces of me in my characters – I’ve got Wanda’s smart mouth, Portia’s (EX AND THE SINGLE GIRL) obsession with Pride and Prejudice, and I used to do the very job Carly has in THE FORTUNE QUILT, although I did it in Alaska . A lot of my characters share some of my background – many of them attended Syracuse University , as did I. My husband likes to look for qualities in the heroes that come from him, but he always finds the negatives and says, “That’s me, right? When he’s being a jerk. That’s me?” And it’s really not. All my heroes share three basic characteristics with my husband; they’re funny, sweet, and they love their girls. Awwwww.

As far as which character is the most fun to write – I have to say, as a whole, it’s the crazy mothers. I write a lot of crazy mothers. I used to worry about myself. I thought maybe I had some kind of serious issues with my mother that I was denying, but she is nothing like these women. She’s calm and soothing and likes to drink tea. My crazy mothers are... crazy. Then I realized that it’s just that I like writing older heroines who remain vibrant and alive past the age of fifty. In much of the mainstream fictional world, like television and movies, women tend to lose their vitality once they either a) have children or b) their breasts start responding to gravity. Women over fifty are usually baking pies or serving their husbands or kids. My crazy moms are their own women, with their own lives and desires and quirks, and I adore them all. I’ve got one I’m writing at the moment, an ex-child star named Lilly Lorraine, who is probably the craziest – and my current favorite. I just love her.

dee: What kinds of writing groups do you belong to? How important is their feedback in your writing process? Do the Literary Chicks get to read your stuff before it's published? How close are the six of you REALLY?”

Lani: I belong to Romance Writers of America, and the local Central New York chapter. I don’t share my writing with any one group in particular, though. When you’re just starting out, I think it’s important to get a good critique group going with a large number of people, but as you go, that number dwindles, which is necessary for a lot of different reasons. Right now I have one crititque partner, Samantha Graves, who I co-host a podcast with, and she and I go through every step of our WIPs together. She’s freaking brilliant; I’m so lucky to have her. I have a set of beta-readers who read the book for me after the first draft is done and give me impressions; that group is made up of both readers and writers. The Literary Chicks are very close, but we don’t critique each other’s work, typically; we’re more a personal support group, going through the landmines of the business together and holding hands. We have our own private mail loop, and we chat all the time, and blog together – I think any more togetherness and we’d probably be ready to kill each other! The balance is perfect as we have it, and we’re looking forward to having all six of us in the same place at the same time someday soon!

dee: Did you know that we have something in common? Unknown to all but a very select group of people (including, unfortunately, my husband!) I am ALSO in love with Mr. Darcy. How did you come to realize that your love for him was real and pure? Are you in love with any other fictional characters? Did the portrayal of Darcy by Colin Firth live up to your imagination?

Lani: I first fell in love with Darcy in high school, when I read PRIDE AND PREJUDICE for the first time. It was, however, a fleeting affair, as I read EMMA soon after and fell in love with Knightley, and then JANE EYRE and fell in love with Rochester . It wasn’t until a few years back, when suddenly everyone was talking about Colin Firth in the BBC version that I took another look. I saw that movie, and that was it. I was hooked. So now Darcy smolders in my heart, in the visage of Colin Firth, much to the distress of my husband, who likes to refer to them interchangeably as “that poncy British poofter.”

dee: You've got some incredibly quotable lines in your books. One that I am incredibly fond of (and hear quite often) involves something along the lines of 'not being crazy, jus a different level of interesting'. How do you come up with lines like that? Do you struggle over them, or are they just so much more dialogue to you?

Lani: Wow, thanks! Yeah, the line as I remember it is, “There’s no such thing as crazy, just various degrees of interesting.” Vera said it in EX AND THE SINGLE GIRL, and I stand by it. Although, I think after a certain point... there is such thing as crazy. Vera’s a much more generous soul than I.

I don’t think of a line as quotable or not when I write it. The words just come. There‘s something writers always say, and it sounds like a load of hooey to everyone but other writers, but it’s really true – a lot of writing is like taking dictation. These characters spring up in my mind, and start talking and doing stuff, and I just kind of guide them into a story structure. That sounds like it’s not a lot of work; it is, trust me. It’s exhausting wrangling these people into a novel form. But still... there is a mystical element to the process which allows for a certain level of detachment from my ego. So when Vera said this, I had the same reaction as many of my readers; I laughed and said, “Right on, baby!” And many times, when people quote me to me, I’m like, “Who wrote that? That’s good!” Honestly, in my head, I didn’t write it, so it’s as much fun for me as it is you guys. (See? Told you there was a certain point where crazy is just flat-out crazy!)

dee: You've been very frank and earnest over on the Literary Chicks site about your battles with food, most notably a certain bird at a certain time of the year. Have you ever considered enrolling in a culinary institute to prepare you for battle this year?

Lani: I think the battle you’re talking about is my battle with cooking? My battle with food is mostly about wine and Cheetos, and I think that’s another question. But, yes. I’m a terrible, terrible cook. The turkey completely kicked my ass this year. (Can I say ‘ass’ on your site? I’m sorry, I should have warned you. I tend to bring down the property value.) I won’t enroll in a class because it takes time and money, and I have neither, so I’m just gonna keep getting up, dusting myself off, rolling up my sleeves, and going after that bad boy. Eventually, I will prevail, if through nothing more than sheer determination. Or idiotic stubbornness. Potato, po-tah-to.

dee: If you could have written any book in the world, what would it be? What grabs you about that particular book?

Lani: The Harry Potter series. What grabs me is the scads and scads of merry cash. I’m no fool.
J No, kidding, kidding... although I would have loved to have written that series, really. What I love about it is the way that Rowling isn’t afraid to go where the story takes her. The themes in those stories are so deep and resonant; there’s a reason why it’s a huge bestseller. There’s a certain amount of bestsellerdom that happens by chance, but maintaining your audience and being true to story rather than marketing is a sign of absolute talent. I’m sorry to see the series end this year, but I’m excited to see what else Rowling might have up her sleeve. Although I really think the poor girl deserves a bit of a break.

dee: What's next on your horizon? Any new books coming out soon, besides The Fortune Quilt?

Lani: Well, in October I’ve got another romantic comedy coming out from Warner called CRAZY IN LOVE. It’s a story about a woman who inherits a posh, historic inn... and with it the ghost of her dead aunt, a murder mystery, and a bartender. Not a bad deal though; the bartender’s way cute. After that, about this time next year, will be the book I’m working on now, tentatively called NOBODY’S ANGEL, in which a misanthropic woman gets “adopted” by a woman who thinks she’s an angel, and ends up kidnapping my heroine to force her to go to her estranged mother’s eighth wedding. It’s really fun, and features crazy Lilly Lorraine, who I talked about earlier in the interview. Ah, I love Lilly.

I can hardly wait for those next books! That's all for the interview. Wasn't it worth it? Be sure to pick up your copy of The Fortune Quilt, available in bookstores everywhere, and online, and at all of the really cool people's houses. Seriously. It would be at MY house right now, if I hadn't sent it to Dee! Also, check out Lani's podcast, first one is tonight! Lani is over at The Literary Chicks all the time as well, so check her out over there. And finally, she'll be out in Cincy this October for Cherry Con II. For more details, check out the Cherry Forums.

Thanks so much for being here all week, Lani. I've said it before, but it bears repeating...
You are FABulous!!

Keep turning those pages!


Friday, March 9, 2007

FAB Week: Because We Firmly Believe That RIFFE! Last Chance Contest!

Do you remember that? RIFFE? Back in the day, the schools did RIFFE: Reading Is Fun For Everyone. I loved RIFFE. Every student got a free book, and we did reading challenges for other fun prizes, and it really did make reading fun. Because really, reading should be fun. Now, the schools do RIF: Reading Is Fundamental. And sure, reading is, but kids don't want to hear that, fundamentals are boring, they want fun! I don't think that changes as we get older, either. We still want to read because it's fun, not necessary. On the upside, kids now get a free book three times a year instead of just one, but still.

So in the spirit of the old school RIFFE, I offer you the final contest in this months FAB week. If your entry is drawn, you will win a signed copy of THE FORTUNE QUILT and just like back in the day, a fun prize to go along with it! All you have to do, is take a walk down memory lane, and tell us two things. 1 - An Atlantis story, maybe you played Atlantis when you were younger? Have you read about Atlantis? Seen a movie? What sparked your imagination about it? 2 - Tell us about your favorite quilt and why it's your favorite quilt. Is it one you made? One some one gave you? Why is it so special?

And since I believe in playing fair, I'll tell you my responses to the two. The Atlantis one takes me back to my childhood. When we were growing up, we always had a pool. Summers were spent playing and laughing with friends and family. And this is where I tell you we were nerds. Big Time. My sisters, cousins, and I would spends days on end in the pool, inventing new games, and one of them was "Discover Atlantis", we had these goggles that covered our whole faces, and we would go on Deep Sea Missions (quite a feat, since the pool was only 5 ft deep) and search for the riches of the Lost City, and one person was always IT (The Guardian of Atlantis), and whenever we got close to the treasure, the explorer and the Guardian, would have a flip off. Meaning, we would put on our full-face goggles, and see who could do the most flips in a row without coming up for air. If the Guardian won, the treasure stayed lost, if the explorer won they were rich, meaning, they made the rules for the next game. Like I said, we were nerds, but man was it a fun game and we laughed for hours because of it. As for the quilt? My favorite one is one I don't even have yet. In fact, I don't have any quilts, but my best friend A is making me one, and knowing her it will be the perfect quilt. But more than anything, it will be my favorite, because she lives so very far away, and when I finally have it, and wrap it around me, it will be like having her with me at all times.

See now, easy peasey. If you'd like, you can blog your entry, just leave the link to it in the comments section of this post, so we can get it in. And don't forget, you still have time to enter the MEGA contest, just click here for details. This week-end, dee and I both have interviews with Lani and Alyssa to post, and on Monday, winners will be announced!

Take Care

Thursday, March 8, 2007

FAB - The Many Faces of Romance - MAYBE BABY

The Many Faces of Romance week continues here at Dee and dee, and today I'm going to be doing a review of one of my favorite books by Lani Diane Rich, Maybe Baby. Truth be told though, saying it's one of my favorite books by Lani is kinda like saying that truffles are one of my favorite chocolates. Yes, it's true that I love truffles. But really? Yeah, chocolate is excellent, and I love it all. Is that an easy enough analogy to explain that I really love ALL of Lani's books? Hope so, cuz it's all I've got right now. Unless you want to talk about wine. Which reminds me... Lani likes to talk about wine on her podcast, so be sure to check that out, ok?

As for this book... mmmm, it's good. It's full of all sorts of fun stuff, like Boris and Natasha-type kidnappers, a wacky mom, a sexy almost husband, a sidekick with a soft spot and honest eyes, an almost wife with marriage issues, and a "fat, ugly, smelly, obnoxious green chicken" of a bird. Sound interesting? It is, I promise.

Dana Wiley has a moment of clarity one afternoon while saying her vows for the second time in a week. While gazing into the face of the laundry guy, she realizes she should have actually married the man she loved six years ago, instead of running the wrong way down the aisle. She's got more things on her mind than just her missed opportunities at matrimony though. With her failing winery as incentive, Dana decides to hang up her wedding dress again and ask her estranged mom, Babs, to co-sign a loan. She doesn't count on running into anyone else in Manhattan. Especially Nick.

Nick Maybe's torch for Dana never went all the way out, even though the breeze from her wedding dress as she ran from the altar really should have been enough to extinguish it for good. Doing odd jobs, and let me stress the odd, for Babs has kept him on the outskirts of Dana's life. But a woman with the Mark of the Beast offered him a chance to save Dana's winery. Since there's nothing Nick wouldn't do for Dana, even after six years without her, he takes a job in California and hopes for the best. He doesn't count on ever seeing Dana again though. Especially not sitting on the couch at Bab's place.

From the moment their eyes lock, sparks fly. But these two have a lot to get straightened out before they even think of starting over. They'll have to rescue Babs from kidnappers, rescue a bird from a bird thief, and maybe even rescue their own hearts - from each other.

Written in 3rd Limited, with just about everyone having a voice, this was actually a very fun read. Lani has a way of letting you inside the heads of some interesting characters, seeing the way their minds work, feeling their hearts beating, and wanting exactly what they want even when they aren't sure what that might be.

The story is tight, the writing is flawless, and the dialogue is brilliant. I was cheering for Dana and Nick from their very first scene together. They have such a great story. They love each other, that much is obvious. However, love isn't always enough, is it? She watched her parents marriage crumble, and she's terrified of the same thing happening to her. He wants her to trust him, but he doesn't really listen when she tries to express her fears. This book isn't about falling in love, it's about learning if the love you already share is enough. It's about having the courage to say "I'm sorry" and the strength to say "It's ok" and the guts to say "Let's try this again".

Passion? Yeah, it's here:

He kissed her, although not to shut her up. He kissed her because all the forces in God's green earth couldn't have stopped him, he wanted her so bad.

Profound thoughts? Yep. See:

Maybe the secret to being married was choosing someone who loved you enough to kick your ass if necessary.

See what I mean? It's just that good. The sexual tension is thick, the comedy is snort-worthy, and the honesty in this book just makes me want to weep. Plus, it's in the Lani-love basket for the winner of the BIG CONTEST. So make sure to enter. Or better yet, just pick this book up for yourself. This is one time that, if you ask me "Will I like it?" my answer will NOT be "Maybe baby". It's YES. Truly and unequivocally - yes, you will like this book.

Keep turning those pages!

PS - Don't forget to pick up Lani's newest book, The Fortune Quilt, already in bookstores. It's a great story. FABulous, really. I know you'll enjoy it as much as I did!! Also, for a chance to win a signed copy of The Fortune Quilt, tell me what celebrity couple name Lani has decided to use for her and hubby Fish. Here's a hint... you can find the answer over on the Literary Chicks website. Be warned though, unless you're a regular over there, you could spend hours reading through all of the old posts. That place is a riot! Leave your answers in the comments here and I'll pick one at random later in the week. Or, you can make up your own. Either way works for me. Just go buy The Fortune Quilt. Today!