Hidden Gems: Wilde Thing by Janelle Denison

Friday, April 30



My Hidden Gems of Romance pick for April is Wilde Thing by Janelle Denison.  I first discovered Janelle's books during my Brava book binge.  It was the same time I discovered Lori Foster, Shannon McKenna and Jill Shalvis, all because of those Bad Boy anthologies that I still love to this day.  Ahhh, the glory days of Brava....

Anyways, I know Ms. Denison has written many Harlequin romances, but whenever I hear or read her name I immediately think of her Wilde series...aptly named I might add.  My favorite book in this series, hands down is Wilde Thing.  Wilde Thing's hero is Steve, a private investigator who looks every inch the bad boy and has the motorcycle to prove it.  (by the way, this book started my love of motorcycle riding heroes which was only solidified and indulged further in Jaci Burton's Wild Riders series).  Liz is the struggling  and reliable Coffee Shop owner, who feels responsible for her irresponsible cousin.  When her cousin goes missing she turns to the best PI in town to help her find her "missing" cousin, while also doing a little investigating of her own by going undercover as a  phone sex operator at the company her cousin works for.

I'm not gonna lie, this is one hot read.  But it's also a story about family, friends, a little bit of mystery that doesn't overshadow the love story...and a whole lotta lovin'. A whole lot of hot and sensual love scenes involving phone sex, as well as intimate one on one encounters.  They each had their own personal problems to overcome, and while the mystery of her cousin's disappearance drove them together, the book is really about them and their journey to finding love with each other, and dealing with past hurts.  I loved Steve, and Liz, and I loved them together.  I pretty much loved everything about the story. 

It has been several years since Janelle Denison has had a new book out and I was beginning to fear that she was no longer writing.  However, she just recently announced a brand new series, with a new publisher.  I can't wait, in the meantime I think I will indulge and read Wilde Thing again....trust me it's no hardship :)  If you've not had the pleasure of reading Wilde Thing I highly recommend it, and even though it is part of a series it's not one that you will need to read in order, in order to fully appreciate it.



SHE CAN'T STOP THINKING OF HIM

Serious bad boy. That's what Liz Adams thinks when she catches sight of dark, gorgeous Steve Wilde sitting at a table in her coffee house, giving her a look of bold, satisfying appraisal that has nothing to do with her espresso skills. Still, the man is the best P.I. in town, and the only person who might be able to help Liz track down her irresponsible, free-spirited cousin . . . if she can manage to spend more than two minutes in his company without surrendering to the wild fantasies dancing in her head.

HE CAN'T STOP WANTING HER

Oh, baby. That's exactly how Steve Wilde feels every time he comes into Liz's cafe and catches sight of her sexy figure behind the counter. But a man can only pretend to be interested in the pastries for so long. Now that Liz has opened the door to him, Steve intends to storm right through it, along with her defenses, and show the aloof beauty what she's been missing . . . and what he intends to do about it, slowly, deliberately, deliciously . . .

THERE'S NO STOPPING EITHER OF THEM

Now, in a cat-and-mouse game where the thrill of the forbidden is never quite enough, a business arrangement is about to yield to pleasure . . . and the temptations that can only be found when hearts run wild . . .




What's your Hidden Gem of Romance pick for April?


Hidden Gems meme is hosted by Seductive Musings on the last Friday of every month (barring any special events). Anyone passionate about romance novels can participate. Just do the following:
  • Share a hidden gem that you've read and feel has been overlooked, or deserves to be brought to the attention of romance readers (please don't include books currently on blog tours). 
  • The book can be a new release, a current release, or an older novel. As long as it is in print, it is available for purchase, and is classified as a romance then it qualifies (historical romance, contemporary romance, paranormal romance, romantic suspense, erotic romance...). 
  • Reveal your hidden gem on the last Friday of the month on your blog using the Hidden Gem icon and following the participation rules. Tell us why you feel so passionately about this novel, then link your gem back to the current Seductive Musings Hidden Gem post. You can include excerpt links, teasers, back cover blurbs, book trailers, interviews, giveaways...whatever you like. 
  • The following Monday I will compile a list of the Hidden Gems posted and I'll have a poll where you can vote for your favorite hidden gems. At the end of the year I will compile the top hidden gem for each month and you can vote for the top 5 Hidden Gems of the year. Once the brightest gems are revealed I will invite the authors to guest at Seductive Musings to talk about their books, and upcoming releases.

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*I am an Amazon affiliate and receive a small (and I mean very small) referral fee for purchases made using a link on this blog. I don't use Amazon to earn money, I use it because the widgets are cool, easy to use, and serve my purposes to showcase books & such with minimal effort, but most importantly they have great prices and offer both new and used items. As a book addict I love that I can find just about anything I want in one place. If you are going to purchase a featured book anyway, and you know you won't pay more by using the links on this blog than you would by visiting Amazon on your own, I will be eternally grateful for supporting this blog by using the links, and don't forget that the referral fees from your purchases will sponsor the "Reader Rewards" giveaways :)

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DIK Challenge Review: The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley

Title: The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie*

Author:  Jennifer Ashley
Series: Highland Pleasures book #1
Genre:  Historical Romance
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Format: mass market paperback
Date/Year: May 2009

*This book is from my own personal collection and is being reviewed for my participation in the DIK Reading Challenge

Summary from the publisher:

The year is 1881. Meet the Mackenzie family--rich, powerful, dangerous, eccentric. A lady couldn't be seen with them without ruin. Rumors surround them--of tragic violence, of their mistresses, of their dark appetites, of scandals that set England and Scotland abuzz.

The youngest brother, Ian, known as the Mad Mackenzie, spent most of his young life in an asylum, and everyone agrees he is decidedly odd. He's also hard and handsome and has a penchant for Ming pottery and beautiful women.

Beth Ackerley, widow, has recently come into a fortune. She has decided that she wants no more drama in her life. She was raised in drama--an alcoholic father who drove them into the workhouse, a frail mother she had to nurse until her death, a fussy old lady she became constant companion to. No, she wants to take her money and find peace, to travel, to learn art, to sit back and fondly remember her brief but happy marriage to her late husband.

And then Ian Mackenzie decides he wants her.

 
My Musings:

This is another book that I had been wanting to read for a while, but it had been buried in the TBR, so I was excited to find it on the DIK Challenge reading list which prompted me to dig it out and finally read it.  I had heard SO MANY good things about the book, and have seen Ian come up in blog comments often as a favorite romance hero.  I had high expectations which is why I think I felt a little disappointed in him as a hero after finishing the book.  

Ian, is an unusual hero in that he has Asperger's syndrome and has been misunderstood and mistreated pretty much his entire life.  He abide scorn and beatings from his father, which finally resulted in his "incarceration" in an insane asylum where he endured tortuously painful shock therapy treatments as well as other Victorian methods to try and cure him of his atypical behavior for years.   He is incapable of expressing or feeling love, and is locked in a world that he has had to learn to adapt to, but remains distanced from everyone including his family.

He is haunted by memories and dreams of a mysterious murder, not knowing if he, or his brother murdered a woman in a house of pleasure that his brother owned.  Thus ensues a plot to try and uncover who murdered two women Ian knew.  Ian has struggled with doubts for years, and now that another woman has been found murdered an Inspector who has a vendetta against Ian and the Mackenzies sets out to prove that Ian is the murderer and belongs back in the asylum, while Beth does her own sleuthing to uncover the murder mysteries and prove that Ian is innocent.

There are many things to love about this book, but one of the things that bothered me the most was that it took Beth's intervention for everyone to believe that Ian was incapable of murder.  Even his brother, the Duke, believed that he had killed the prostitutes.  She was his savior in more ways than one, including teaching him the meaning of what it is to love.  She was responsible for revealing the truth behind the murders and endangering herself in the process.  And while I love a heroine who is capable and not in need of rescue I'm not quite sure how I feel about the heroine rescuing the hero.  I'm conflicted about this aspect of the story.

I loved the moments when it was just Ian and Beth learning to communicate, understand, and love each other.  And while the murder mystery drove the plot of the book I wanted more of just Ian and Beth.  Since so much was made of Ian as a hero I imagined that most of the book would deal with his form of Autism and how he and Beth learned to love each other despite his emotional handicaps.  I wanted to learn more about how Beth learned to deal with his "affliction" and didn't feel that the story adequately explored this aspect of their relationship.  I also thought that the additional mystery solved by Beth involving the Inspector that was revealed at the end of the book was superfluous and unnecessary.

In the end I enjoyed The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie, but as a hero Ian didn't quite live up to my expectations, which was disappointing. I know I am in the minority here, but what can I say?  That being said The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie was an engaging read, and the secondary characters (his family) were incredibly intriguing.  I can't wait for the next book, Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage, due out in July.  Isabella and Mac's story promises to be even better than Ian and Beth's romance.


Ratings: 

Stars: 4.0 stars
Sensuality level: 3.0 (pretty much your standard "modern" historical romance fare)

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*I am an Amazon affiliate and receive a small (and I mean very small) referral fee for purchases made using a link on this blog. I don't use Amazon to earn money, I use it because the widgets are cool, easy to use, and serve my purposes to showcase books & such with minimal effort, but most importantly they have great prices and offer both new and used items. As a book addict I love that I can find just about anything I want in one place. If you are going to purchase a featured book anyway, and you know you won't pay more by using the links on this blog than you would by visiting Amazon on your own, I will be eternally grateful for supporting this blog by using the links, and don't forget that the referral fees from your purchases will sponsor the "Reader Rewards" giveaways :)

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Guest Author & Giveaway: Paula Quinn featuring Ravished by a Highlander

Thursday, April 29


***This giveaway has ended, but you should still read the post...it's worth your time:)  Thanks for joining the fun!***

It's been a while since I've featured a highland romance at Seductive Musings.  A few years ago I read Paula Quinn's Laird of the Mist and enjoyed it, so when I discovered that she had written a new series, Children of the Mist, based on the children of the hero and heroine from Laird of the Mist I knew I had to find out more.  Join me, and let's be "ravished" by Paula's highlanders together...


Welcome to Seductive Musings Paula! I am so glad to have you as my guest today. For you, what makes a romance novel a great love story, and who are some of your favorite authors to read? Who's your new favorite find? 

Thanks, it's so nice to be here. I appreciate you having me :) 

I think there are a few things that must go into a romance novel to make it a great love story, one being likable characters. You might not think this is a vital ingredient but we root for characters we like. They don't have to be perfect.  In fact, they shouldn't be. Real people aren't. (Being hot helps though) We need to relate to them on some level in order to care about what happens to them.  

A great love story should have a believable conflict. We want to see the hero and heroine push through obstacles that would keep them apart, and understand why they want to do so. Nothing worth its weight is handed to us. The struggle to attain it is what makes it precious. Today, so many so called “romance novels” are really soft core porn. We barely get to know the hero and heroin before they're in bed. No struggle, no emotion, no depth. I'm a true romantic at heart. I want my heroes to woo and work for the ladies they want to win. I want my heroines to be strong but not cold, a prize worth fighting for. We should feel them falling in love, go on the journey with them and catch our breath when their fingers touch for the first time. We should sigh at their kisses and anticipate the moment when their love is consummated. That done, whether they have hot, dirty sex or make tender, passionate love, it's all good. No, it's better. Sex is always better with someone you love. I married my high school sweetheart. Trust me on this. 

The last thing needed to make a great love story is, of course, is a happily ever after. We should smile when we close the book, even if we hate to see it end. Julie Garwood and Lynn Kurland are masters at writing great love stories. That's why they're two of my favorite romance authors. My favorite new find is Anna Campbell. I just started reading her last year and I love her work.

Ravished by a Highlander is the first book in your new series, Children of the Mist. Can you tell us a little bit about the series, how it originated, and how many books you have planned? 

The Children of the Mist series was born out of my love for Callum MacGregor, the hero in Laird of the Mist, and the clan MacGregor. I knew the children born of this proud, mighty clan would make interesting heroes and heroines. Also, I was dying to know how Callum and Kate's life continued. 

The series covers the four unique paths taken by the Laird of the Mist's children. One that will cast his oldest son on a road to hellfire to rescue a lass crafted of stardust and secrets. Secrets that could cost him and everyone he loves their lives. Another of forbidden love that will spark an old feud between the MacGregors and the Fergussons, and force the laird’s second, rogue son to choose between love and honor. The path set for Callum and Kate's only daughter is paved with danger and childhood love gone sour. A path that will put to the test everything her heart truly desires, and lead a king to battle. The final path of that fateful journey to England will lure Callum’s youngest son into a life of duplicity as a Jacobite spy who infiltrates the English courts of his enemy, and falls in love with his enemy’s wife. 

Four books are planned: Ravished By A Highlander due May 2010. Seduced By A Highlander due September 2010. Tamed By A Highlander due November 2011 and Conquered By A Highlander, no date yet.

Many of your heroes are Scottish Highlanders, what do you think is the appeal? 

It's association by terrain. Scotland is a land of rugged, timeless beauty, resilient against centuries of subjugation. When we think of the Scottish Highlands, we think of wind-swept moors and mist covered mountains where men are born proud, stubborn, and fearless. A Highland hero is the ultimate alpha male, confident in his own power and appreciative of the strength in his woman.

Tell us about your hero, Rob MacGregor? What do you think will make readers, much like his heroine Davina, fall in love with him? And can you tell us a little bit about their story in Ravished by a Highlander? 

Honestly, I didn't think I would ever love any hero as much as I loved Callum, but Rob proved me wrong. I think he appeals to a woman's most basic nature. Sure he's gorgeous (his father is fashioned after Gerard Butler, after all) but a hero must be more than that. Rob is responsible, loyal, and protective toward what belongs to him. He's a man of honor and quiet strength. The kind of guy who will never let you down...and his kiss is hot enough to curl a lass's skirts.

When he comes upon a burning abbey and a regiment of the king's army dead in its courtyard, he knows this is not a fight he wants any part in. But when he pulls Davina Montgomery from the flames he sets himself and his kin on a path for destruction. Davina is no ordinary novice of the order. She is the crown's most closely guarded secret, but the secret's out. Rather than leave her to her own defenses, which are nil, he vows to protect her. He knows she's forbidden, but that doesn't stop him from wanting her, and ultimately, from loving her. But what will it cost him, and is giving the woman he adores back her dreams worth it?

What's your favorite scene or moment from Ravished by a Highlander, and why? Can you describe it (or provide a short excerpt) for us without giving too much away? 

One of my favorite scenes takes place between Rob and Davina in Courlochcraig abbey. It's when the first seeds of their love become palpable in Rob's tenderness and Davina's maturity.
Before he could stop himself, he reached out and swept his fingers along her wrist. A forbidden touch, and more so here in her betrothed’s house. 

She moved closer as if he had pulled her to him. “What do you pray for, Robert MacGregor?”  

“My clan,” he told her and then, because he’d never had time to consider the woman he would choose to spend the rest of his days with until he met the one he could never have, he folded his hands behind his back and looked away. “And ye.” 

“You have my thanks for that,” she continued to muddle his good senses when she laid her palm on his arm. “But even God does not expect you to remain here, forgetting your duties to your family.” 

She was right, of course. He should leave her and return to his kin, where he belonged. “I have no’ fergotten my duties.” He returned his gaze to hers and marveled at the innocence in her eyes after all she had seen, and the strength in them to send away her only protection. “I am torn by them.” 

“All the more reason to go,” she said, moving away to return to where he had found her. 

What’s next for you, what are some of your upcoming releases, or new projects you are working on? 

Next up is Tristan MacGregor's story, Seduced By A Highlander, September 2010. Tristan is Rob's younger brother. He's the prodigal son, a reckless, golden-tongued rogue who, with the help of his clan's worst enemy, Isobel Fergusson, discovers a knight in shining armor beneath all his swagger.

If you could ask readers to finish a sentence what would it be? 

It didn't matter how many years had passed between them, seeing her again...

Finally, just for fun…if you could write the “fortune” in a fortune cookie what would it be? 

It would be a fantastic quote I read just yesterday. "Be a voice, not an echo."



FORBIDDEN LOVE

Davina Montgomery is no ordinary English lady. For her own protection, she's been locked away from society, her true identity the Crown's most closely guarded secret. Until a shocking betrayal--and a bold rescue--land her in the arms of a fierce Highlander, a powerful warrior whose searing gaze and tantalizing touch awaken her body and soul.

UNDENIABLE DESIRE

As the firstborn son of a powerful Scottish laird, Robert MacGregor has no loyalty to the English throne, but he's not the kind of man to leave a woman in distress, even if she is English. He vows to deliver Davina to safety, unharmed and untouched. Yet one stolen kiss leaves them both smoldering with desire...and desperate for more. With Davina's secret threatening to destroy his clan, Rob must choose between everything he holds dear and the one woman he can't live without.

RAVISHED BY A HIGHLANDER

(amazon widget)

Big thanks to Paula Quinn for being my guest today!  If you'd like to find out more about Paula and her books you can find her on her website www.paulaquinn.com, which has all sorts of goodies and extras pertaining to her books (like inspirational photos, music...).  You can also find her on Twitter, Facebook and Myspace.

To celebrate the release of RAVISHED BY A HIGHLANDER I have five copies to giveaway courtesy of Forever Romance.  Here's how you can enter to win a copy...

Ways to earn entries:
  • MandatoryFinish the sentence Paula posed to readers in the interview. (good for 1 entry) 
  • Mandatory:  You MUST be a Google Friend Connect (GFC) follower in order to be eligible to win (unfortunately an email subscriber, or subscription in Google reader, and a follower are not the same thing so make sure you are signed up as a follower if you'd like to win this book)
  • Blog about this author's giveaway on your blog and leave a link with your comment (good for 15 entries)
  • If you don't have a blog, don't worry you can earn extra entries by telling your friends. If they leave a comment on this post and mention that you sent them you can each earn extra entries (good for 5 entries for the referrer and the commenter for each friend) 
  • Purchase any item from the Seductive Musings Amazon store by using this link, or the Amazon widget contained within this post and email a copy of your purchase receipt to me no later than the deadline to enter (email available in sidebar). Sorry purchases made prior to this date do not apply, and link contained in this post must be used. No faxes or snail mail copies are allowed. No purchases are necessary to win. (good for 25 entries, or 50 entries if a purchase is made from the featured author's available titles)
How to enter:
  • You can choose to enter as many different ways that you want, but please place all of your entries in ONE comment
Rules and disclaimers: 
  • This contest is open to US and Canada addresses only.  No PO Boxes.
  • The contest will end on May 8th at 11:59 pm EST and winner will be posted after they have been selected
  • Winners will be selected using Random.org
  • The winners will have THREE days from the date they are posted to provide a mailing address. If you do not contact me within three days a replacement winner will be selected. NO EXCEPTIONS
  • The book(s) will be mailed directly from the publisher or author and no substitutions are allowed
  • Seductive Musings is not responsible for prizes that are not honored, distributed in a timely manner, lost, stolen, or damaged during transit 
  • All giveaways are subject to change/cancellation without prior written notice 


Good Luck!

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*I am an Amazon affiliate and receive a small (and I mean very small) referral fee for purchases made using a link on this blog. I don't use Amazon to earn money, I use it because the widgets are cool, easy to use, and serve my purposes to showcase books & such with minimal effort, but most importantly they have great prices and offer both new and used items. As a book addict I love that I can find just about anything I want in one place. If you are going to purchase a featured book anyway, and you know you won't pay more by using the links on this blog than you would by visiting Amazon on your own, I will be eternally grateful for supporting this blog by using the links, and don't forget that the referral fees from your purchases will sponsor the "Reader Rewards" giveaways :)

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Seductive Museum: My favorite cover of April 2010



My Seductive Museum Gallery of Fine Cover Art pick for the month of April is....Sinful by Charlotte Featherstone.



I think this is my favorite cover so far this year. I love naked chest covers so prominent  right now in romance covers as much as the next gal, but seeing the hero's back instead of front not only epitomizes the aloofness of the hero Matthew, Lord Wallingford,  I think it is absolutely striking in it's uniqueness and simplicity.  Not to mention the cover model has a beautiful back, and don't get me started on his buns in the period trousers :)

Much like the love story, the cover is all about the hero and his struggle with his past and his personal demons.  His stance is aggressive with clenched fists, his face is in shadow concealing who he is...much like his efforts to forget his past through debauchery and absinthe conceal who he is.  The green swirling smoke is supposed to represent absinthe, a liqueur known as the "green fairy", which Wallingford occasionally uses to manage his troubled emotions, but I think it also lends a bit of mystery to his character as well.  Our hero must come to terms with his past and who he is before he can accept the love, and be in love with his heroine Jane.  Is he literally turning his back to the love that is offered?

I also love the font they used for the title, very simple but distinct. Flowers in the story hold special meaning, so the rose within the title also has significance.  While the flower in the story is not a rose, but a blossom (maybe an orange blossom? I don't really remember) our hero has a flower tattooed on his body to symbolize his undying love to his heroine.  I think the placement of the title on his torso almost appears as if the rose is tattooed on his back.

Everything on this cover is deliberate and has meaning to the story, yet it is relatively simple.  It's uncomplicated which makes it all the more powerful, memorable, and stunningly beautiful...especially when it seems like most covers these days are an amalgamation of several images to represent the feeling and meaning of the book.  It's definitely a cover that would grab my attention browsing books online, or perusing  the latest novels in my local bookstore.

I have to say that I think the art department at Harlequin Spice is absolutely brilliant.  They created my favorite cover from last year with Deeper by Megan Hart, and Sinful by Charlotte Featherstone is going to be hard to beat, although I do really love the cover for Amanda McIntyre's The Master and the Muses too...I'm going to have some tough decisions to make at the end of the year :)  Big congrats to Charlotte Featherstone who wrote the book and who's hero inspired the cover as well as whoever was responsible at Harlequin for creating the cover of Sinful, my Seductive Museums-Gallery of Fine Cover Art pick for the month of April 2010!


What's your Cover Art pick this month?


Seductive Museum-Gallery of Fine Cover Art monthly meme is hosted by Seductive Museums the last Thursday of every month. Want to participate? Here's how:
  • Share your favorite romance novel cover from any of the romance novels you’ve read this month, and remember this has nothing to do with the actual content of the book…just the cover.
  • The romance novel can be a new release, a current release, or an older book. As long as it is in print, it is available for purchase (no preorders), and is classified as a romance then it qualifies (historical romance, contemporary romance, paranormal romance, romantic suspense, erotic romance...).
  • Present your book cover art on the last Thursday of the month (barring any special events) on your blog using the Seductive Museums icon and following these participation rules. Tell us what you love about the cover, and then link your choice to the current Seductive Museum Gallery.
  • The following week I will compile a list of the submitted book covers and I'll have a poll where you can vote for your favorites. At the end of the year I will list the top book covers for each month and you can vote for the top 5 covers of the year. Once the masterpiece of the year has been chosen we will honor the author and the cover artist with an award.

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*I am an Amazon affiliate and receive a small (and I mean very small) referral fee for purchases made using a link on this blog. I don't use Amazon to earn money, I use it because the widgets are cool, easy to use, and serve my purposes to showcase books & such with minimal effort, but most importantly they have great prices and offer both new and used items. As a book addict I love that I can find just about anything I want in one place. If you are going to purchase a featured book anyway, and you know you won't pay more by using the links on this blog than you would by visiting Amazon on your own, I will be eternally grateful for supporting this blog by using the links, and don't forget that the referral fees from your purchases will sponsor the "Reader Rewards" giveaways :)

Read more...

Guest Author & Giveaway: Meredith Duran featuring Wicked Becomes You

Tuesday, April 27

***This giveaway has ended, but you should still read the post...it's worth your time:)  Thanks for joining the fun!***

I'm very excited today to have Meredith Duran as my guest today.  I first started hearing about her books last year, but for some reason never got around to reading one of her books.  In fact she was the reason why I added a widget in the sidebar listing the authors I wanted to try this year, so that I wouldn't forget and miss out on a potential new favorite find.

She has a brand new historical romance out today, titled WICKED BECOMES YOU.  I couldn't wait to become "wicked" with the heroine Gwen, and I hope you will too!


Welcome to Seductive Musings Meredith! I am so pleased to have you as my guest today because I am very excited about your new historical romance WICKED BECOMES YOU. For you, what makes a romance novel a great love story, and who are some of your favorite authors to read? Who's your new "favorite find"?

The historicals on my keeper shelf have three things in common: great writing, rich historical detail, and complex, weighty emotional drama. 

My all-time favorites include the Wyckerley trilogy by Patricia Gaffney, everything by Judith Ivory and Sherry Thomas, Connie Brockway’s darker historicals (although I also have a major soft spot for As You Desire), and Mary Jo Putney’s Silk trilogy. 

As far as new discoveries go, I’ve been in India for the last eight months, so I’ve not had a chance to try out many new releases; they’re quite difficult to get here!  My last major discovery amongst historical romances was Julie Anne Long -- Like No Other Lover blew me away. 

Oh!  Also: at the Delhi World Book Fair, I found a book by Larissa Ione, Desire Unchained.  Absolutely loved it.  I’m such a fan of paranormal romance.

If you had to describe WICKED BECOMES YOU and grab the attention of a potential reader in a two sentence teaser what would it be?

Push a nice girl one too many times, and she may just snap.  But it’s hard to try out being naughty when London’s most notorious blackguard is inexplicably determined to protect you from your own experiments with wickedness...

I was reading on your website that you went through sixteen different beginnings for this book.  That's amazing! I am in complete awe of the writing process.  What was it about some of the earlier versions you wrote that didn't quite work for the introduction into Gwen and Alex's love story in WICKED BECOMES YOU?  And what was it about the final version that ended up in the book that made it "the one"?

Most of those sixteen scenes were written from Gwen’s point of view – I was having a great deal of fun figuring out what she thought of Alex before she gave up goodness and decided to go for broke as an Independent Woman.  These scenes gave me some great opportunities to showcase Alex’s wicked streak, which is why I think I had such a hard time abandoning them. 

However, I finally realized that these scenes were the groundwork for a different sort of story, in which a rake provokes and attempts to corrupt a prim and proper young lady. I do love historicals that feature dissolute heroes and upright (and uptight) heroines; I wrote a variation of this narrative in Bound by Your Touch, and I’ll certainly write more of them in the future, because they really are so entertaining.  But that isn’t what Wicked Becomes You is about.  Gwen decides to be wicked of her own accord, albeit with great provocation, and the moment she snaps is when the story really starts. 

Once I realized this, I knew that the first scene needed to take place in that pivotal moment when she says, “The deuces with being nice!”  Namely, I needed to start the book in the church, as she’s preparing to start down the aisle toward the altar.

Tell us about your hero, Alex Ramsey. What do you think will make readers, much like his heroine Gwen, fall in love with him? And can you tell us a little bit about their story in WICKED BECOMES YOU?

At first glance, Alex seems like your standard lone wolf.  But deep down, he’s a profoundly honorable guy.  Despite his best efforts, he loves his family and can’t bring himself to walk away from them.  At the beginning of the book, he’d probably identify this as a very regrettable weakness of character. But falling for Gwen really forces him to reevaluate everything he believes about himself.  Is there anything more romantic than a man who struggles to come to terms with his own better nature—because he knows that the woman he loves deserves no less than the best?

Of course, there’s a fly in the ointment: Gwen doesn’t think she wants the best of Alex.  Done with being a moral exemplar, what she wants of Alex is his wickedest and most dissolute side.  Meanwhile, for her sake, he’s trying his best to become the man who deserves her…

Gwen is such a strong and resilient heroine despite her tragic and scandalous past.   She always seems to be the epitome of propriety and politeness, so what drives her to try wickedness for a change?

So, the simplest answer—the answer that Gwen would give at the beginning of the book—is that being the sweetest, most mannerly girl in London is a social strategy that she has used to overcome and atone for her family’s working-class background.  When a series of misfortunes definitively prove that this strategy isn’t working, she decides to try a new strategy: she’ll live only for herself.

However, what she gradually comes to terms with is the fact that her former routine – her role as a purveyor of sweetness and light – was flawed not because it failed to achieve her goals, but because it required her to ignore her own true feelings and desires.  Gwen really is genuinely nice – she cares for other people’s feelings, and that never changes.  What does change is that Gwen comes to respect her own feelings – and also to acknowledge and confront the fears that led her to ignore those feelings for so long.

What's your favorite scene or moment from Wicked Becomes You, and why? Can you describe it (or provide a short excerpt) for us without giving too much away?

A few passages stand out for various reasons.  First, after a night out at the Moulin Rouge, Alex and Gwen go for a dawn stroll by the banks of the Seine – this is the scene that yielded the title of the book. By now, Alex is rather alarmed at how seriously Gwen is pursuing her own agenda; when she reminds him that she has vowed to be wicked, he replies, uneasily, “Wicked becomes you a bit too well.”  It was a great moment, rereading that scene and suddenly realizing I’d come up with the title without even trying!

Another of my favorites is the first lengthy love scene between them.  I had great fun working in a transitional passage that made use of some research I’d done that turned up a very bizarre corset that was being sold around that time under the name “The Pretty Housemaid.”  But I also just love how the scene begins:

He had the compartment directly next to hers, and the door was not locked. It swung open beneath her hand soundlessly, revealing a direct and immediate view of his bed. He was lying flat on his back, one arm thrown over his head. A clothed arm, by the look of it.

For some reason she had imagined he would be naked.

She crept forward to the bed. Nearby sat a single chair, atop which lay a magazine—The Board of Trade Journal, great ghosts, how awful—and, more intriguingly, something that glinted. She bent down, squinting, and discovered that the glint came from a pair of wire-rimmed spectacles.

Spectacles! She glanced up at him, lips parting in amazement. She also required them to read comfortably. But like him, she never wore them in public.

So we are both a little bit vain. The thought made her smile. It was becoming something of an obsession, uncovering these small things that they had in common. His loyalty to his family. His love for her brother. His disregard for the opinions of idiots and shriveled snobs.

He made a soft noise. She froze. In the moonlight, in slumber, his face looked boyish, almost innocent. He would need to shave on the morrow; she wished she dared to touch the shadow on his chin, to stroke it simply for the pleasure of the texture beneath her fingertips. But as she reached out, her fingers curled into her palm. Some superstitious conviction came over her: if she woke him the wrong way, everything would go wrong. Fairy tales often emphasized this point. There was only one right way to stir a sleeping person if one wanted them to fall in love.

But I do not want him to fall in love with me, she reminded herself. I am not here because I am dreaming of a future with him.

What would a future with him even look like? He had no interest in the country, no taste for England, no care for settling down.

If he fell in love, he would still want to chase the wind. His beloved would simply have to race alongside him.

It did not seem a very restful life.

Some strand of discontent was threading through her resolve now. Of course he would not fall in love. Not with anybody. No need to feel so ill-tempered toward this faceless woman able to race with him when she would never, in fact, exist. Alex was the most determined bachelor known to her.

The thought gave her courage. It was one thing to deny a woman in public. But to find her in his bedroom, at night? Any man would take such an invitation.

Emboldened, she leaned down to inhale the scent of him. Cognac fumes still clung to him, but beneath that was something else—the smell of his bare skin? She pulled in a deeper breath. Yes, that was it. The scent of a warm, healthy, muscular man in his prime. The scent of Alex.

His eyes opened.

She froze.

He studied her for a moment with sleepy, heavy-lidded eyes.

Her heart gave a painful jolt.

The next moment, he came awake. She saw it happen. Saw his expression focus and narrow.

The only sound was the thumping of the wheels over the ties.

Or, no: the breath rasping in her throat seemed embarrassingly loud, too.

“How wicked do you want to be, then?” he murmured.

What’s next for you, what are some of your upcoming releases, or new projects you are working on?

I have another historical from Pocket hitting the shelves next year! Right now, it’s quite angsty, but I’m keeping mum on the story until I’ve passed the crucial hundred-page threshold; until then, anything can change.

If you could ask readers to finish a sentence what would it be?

Oh, this is interesting.  Okay, I’ll ask readers to finish this sentence: “So long as the writing is good and the romance is gripping, I’ll even read a romance with a hero who…”

Finally, just for fun…if you could write the “fortune” in a fortune cookie what would it be?

Being happy is not an opportunity you deserve, earn, or wait for; rather, it is a choice to be made every day, despite numberless reasons to choose otherwise.

(It’s a big fortune cookie, I guess!)



She’s been burned not once but twice by London’s so-call ed gentlemen . . . 

Gwen Maudsley is pretty enough to be popular, and plenty wealthy, too. But what she’s best known and loved for is being so very, very nice. When a cad jilts her at the altar—again—the scandal has her outraged friends calling for blood. Only Gwen has a different plan. If nice no longer works for her, then it’s time to learn to be naughty. Happily, she knows the perfect tutor—Alexander Ramsey, her late brother’s best friend and a notorious rogue. 

So why won’t a confirmed scoundrel let her be as bad as she wants to be? 

Unbeknownst to Gwen, Alex’s aloof demeanor veils his deepest unspoken desire. He has no wish to see her change, nor to tempt himself with her presence when his own secrets make any future between them impossible. But on a wild romp from Paris to the Riviera, their friendship gives way to something hotter, darker, and altogether more dangerous. With Alex’s past and Gwen’s newly unleashed wildness on a collision course, Gwen must convince Alex that his wickedest intentions are exactly what she needs.

(amazon widget)

My many thanks to Meredith Duran for being my guest today and sharing insight into WICKED BECOMES YOU.  You can find out more about Meredith and her books on her website www.meredithduran.com.  She has a "stories behind the story" section for each book on her site that I found fascinating, as well as her research sources, excerpts, and reviews...not to mention her top ten favorite reads.  I couldn't resist taking a peek.

She also shares a blog, Plotters and Manipulators United, with fellow author Sherry Thomas where they are having a giveaway to celebrate Meredith's new book.  Head on over to their blog to check it out (we're talking Godiva and other goodies) before April 30th to enter to win.

But that's not all...to celebrate the today's release of WICKED BECOMES YOU I have two copies of this new historical romance by Meredith Duran to giveaway courtesy of Pocket Books.  Here's how you can enter to win:

Ways to earn entries:
  • MandatoryAnswer the question Meredith posed to readers during the interview (good for 1 entry) 
  • Mandatory:  You MUST be a Google Friend Connect (GFC) follower in order to be eligible to win (unfortunately an email subscriber, or subscription in Google reader, and a follower are not the same thing so make sure you are signed up as a follower if you'd like to win this book)
  • Blog about this author's giveaway on your blog and leave a link with your comment (good for 15 entries)
  • If you don't have a blog, don't worry you can earn extra entries by telling your friends. If they leave a comment on this post and mention that you sent them you can each earn extra entries (good for 5 entries for the referrer and the commenter for each friend) 
  • Purchase any item from the Seductive Musings Amazon store by using this link, or the Amazon widget contained within this post and email a copy of your purchase receipt to me no later than the deadline to enter (email available in sidebar). Sorry purchases made prior to this date do not apply, and link contained in this post must be used. No faxes or snail mail copies are allowed. No purchases are necessary to win. (good for 25 entries, or 50 entries if a purchase is made from the featured author's available titles)
How to enter:
  • You can choose to enter as many different ways that you want, but please place all of your entries in ONE comment
Rules and disclaimers: 
  • This contest is open to US addresses only. (apologies to my international readers)
  • The contest will end on May 1st at 11:59 pm EST and winner will be posted after they have been selected
  • Winners will be selected using Random.org
  • The winners will have THREE days from the date they are posted to provide a mailing address. If you do not contact me within three days a replacement winner will be selected. NO EXCEPTIONS
  • The book(s) will be mailed directly from the publisher or author and no substitutions are allowed
  • Seductive Musings is not responsible for prizes that are not honored, distributed in a timely manner, lost, stolen, or damaged during transit 
  • All giveaways are subject to change/cancellation without prior written notice 
Good Luck!

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*I am an Amazon affiliate and receive a small (and I mean very small) referral fee for purchases made using a link on this blog. I don't use Amazon to earn money, I use it because the widgets are cool, easy to use, and serve my purposes to showcase books & such with minimal effort, but most importantly they have great prices and offer both new and used items. As a book addict I love that I can find just about anything I want in one place. If you are going to purchase a featured book anyway, and you know you won't pay more by using the links on this blog than you would by visiting Amazon on your own, I will be eternally grateful for supporting this blog by using the links, and don't forget that the referral fees from your purchases will sponsor the "Reader Rewards" giveaways :)

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My FREE Kindle Quest

I've wanted a Kindle for what seems like forever, but haven't been able to afford it (and that's saying something since I can justify the cost of just about ANYTHING that I really want). I've tried winning one in one of the many giveaways that have taken place over the couple of years, but with no luck :( So I've decided to take matters in hand so to speak :) I've now decided that I am going to accumulate enough Swagbucks from my Swabucks searches to buy one...so in essence my new Kindle will be FREE...funded entirely by my internet searches done on Swagbucks. I'll keep you informed of the Great Kindle Quest below (in case you're interested....if not feel free to just skip over this part, but really who wouldn't be interested in a FREE Kindle?)
Goal: $119
Current Swagbucks Amazon Gift Card balance: $90.00
If you'd like to learn how you can earn Swagbucks and earn your own Amazon Gift Cards to buy books, a Kindle or other merchandise sold at Amazon contact me and I would be more than happy to tell you how I plan to go about it. (just so you know you can earn both Amazon.com and Amazon.ca gift cards on this rewards site)
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