Friday, October 14, 2011

Where in the World is the Bandit Lair?

The Golden Rooster crept cautiously up to the Lair's back door. Odd, how the lights were all off. The place was totally dark.

He tried the door. Locked. What? The lock was supposed to recognize his wingtip. Scowling as best he could with a beak instead of a mouth, he drew his lockpicks from beneath his cape. In a matter of moments, the door swung open.

There. He'd have a word with that smug gladiator, Demetrius, about this. That oughta snarl his sandal strings, making a mistake like locking the famous GR out of the Lair.

He pranced into the kitchen and flipped the light switch by the door. Nothing.

He flipped it again. Again, nothing. Good thing he had a flashlight. He turned it on and swept the kitchen. The place was almost too clean--no cookie jar or knife block on the counter. No bread box by the refrigerator. Come to think of it, the place was way too quiet. Sven and his crew were always bustling around trying to look important.

He crept to the stairs that led to Ermingarde's lair. No sound came up them. He sniffed and couldn't smell dragon.

Had some dastardly villain broken out of some bandita's book and slain them all? If only he'd been here to help! He even would've saved the gladiators.


Was his property intact? His stash of Tim Tams?

He rushed into his suite off the parlor. The lights here didn't work either. His flashlight beam swept over an empty room. Empty?!

No, not quite. On the floor by the door lay a note:

Bird--The Lair has moved to larger and nicer accommodations. When you can stop gallivanting long enough to check it out, you can thank us for moving your things.


PS--You can find us all here, at, where the banditas are kicking off Trick or Treat with many, many fabulous prizes between now and October 31, when we give away the best prizes of all during when Duchesse's biggest Halloween Bash ever.

The Golden Rooster glared at the paper. So that was the big secret, a new Lair and a party. He'd better hurry over there, or the whole thing would fall flat without his dashing presence!

We hope you'll hurry over, too, and join the fun! Because we really, truly are outta here. This is our last Blogger post. Please come join the party at!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

I'm So Excited!!

By Kate

Since we Romance Bandits are on the verge of making our BIG ANNOUNCEMENT (it happens TOMORROW! Be sure to be here!), I’m leading off with that news:

We're kicking off Trick or Treat in the Lair with a BIG announcement tomorrow, October 14! We’ll be giving away Tricks and Treats every day, leading up to a special fun (BIG!) TREAT on Halloween. Everyone's getting excited! The Cabana Boys are concocting fabulous drinks for everyone, Sven is exercising his magic massage fingers, Ermingarde the Dragon is blowing smoke (he does that when he’s confused), and that wily Golden Rooster is up in arms—er, wings—because nobody tells him nothing!

But all will be revealed TOMORROW! Don’t miss out on all the BIG FUN in the LAIR!

Okay, I got that out of the way. Now back to your regularly scheduled news of the day. Believe me, I had something extremely serious and pithy to talk about today, but since I’m over-the-top excited about tomorrow’s announcement, I'm struggling to remember what that serious topic was. Darn. I'm sorry, but I don't think I can get pithy with you.

That being the case, I’ll simply have to amuse and entertain you with some blatant self-promotion. Wheee!!

I have a new cover to show you! It’s my December Desire, AN INNOCENT IN PARADISE. Isn’t it beautiful? And the story is so much fun. Here’s a little preview:

She knows everything … but desire

Grace Farrell is a genius scientist first, a woman a distant second—until she meets Logan Sutherland. The self-made millionaire is wickedly sexy, and with him, Grace learns a new lesson—how it feels to
want a man.

Logan has his roving eye on Grace from the moment she steps on his tropical island. But when he discovers she’s there under false pretenses, he orders her to leave. Faced with her refusal, the cynical bachelor works it all to his advantage. He’ll let her stay—in his bed! But will one night be enough?

I hope you’re intrigued! And there’s even more intrigue to come. My Harlequin Desire pal, Maureen Child, also has a tropical island Desire coming out in December, so the two of us are getting together to give away a fabulous Christmas in the Tropics goodie bag stuffed with tons of cool prizes. We'll get the contest started next month and you won’t want to miss it!

Whew, blatant self-promotion is exhausting! :-)

So … let's talk! Even though it’s warm and sunny in my neck of the woods today, I can still detect a hint of Autumn in the air. I love this time of year, with the changes in the light at the end of the day and all the spicy new scents wafting in the breeze. That's my favorite part about the changing of the seasons.

Oh, who am I kidding? I want fall fashions! That’s what I really love about Autumn. Clothes! I want to go shopping for cozy new sweaters and wooly plaid scarves to wear.

What about you? What’s your favorite aspect of Autumn? What makes you happy this time of year? Tell me all about it! I'm giving away two Harlequin Desires to a random commenter today - one from my Duke Brothers trilogy and one from Maureen Child's popular Kings of California series!

P.S. Did I mention that TOMORROW in the Lair we make our BIG announcement? See you here!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Welcome BARBARA VEY!!!!

By Jeanne Adams and Cassondra Murray


Please welcome, the one, the only

Cassondra: Jeanne, you're going to scare her off.

Jeanne: Barbara? No way. That woman has nerves of steel. She took on Publisher's Weekly, after all. And has now become the personality behind one of the top reviewer sites on the 'net. Barbara's Beyond Her Book Blog is the "go to" spot for information about the top books in Romance today. She's always got positive reviews. She's always going to a conference or event and sending back pictures and live streaming video and interviews to keep everyone "in the know" about the latest in romance, in books, and in what's up in our industry.

Cassondra: Yes, Barbara ROCKS. However, didja really think we needed a trumpet fanfare?

Jeanne, looking abashed: Well, maybe that was overkill. But I do so love a good trumpet volley. Figured if I was going to dust off the trumpets, and trumpeteers, then we might as well have a good blaring welcome blast, don't you know.

Cassondra shakes her head and turns to our guest: WELCOME to the Lair, Barbara! Jeanne and I have met up with you all over the country, at RWA events, Thriller events and more, but this is the first time the two of us, together as a team, have had you join us in the Lair. We're so glad you could make it.

Barbara: Thanks, Cassondra and Jeanne. And thank you to all Romance Bandits and friends.

Cassondra: So how did you get started doing what you do, Barbara?

Barbara, laughing: That's the very first question I always get asked is, “How did you get this amazing job?” I guess the easiest answer is by being an avid reader. Because I was reading a book a day (at that time) I kept noticing an ad at the back of the books called “Get Caught Reading at Sea.” Turns out there was going to be an author/reader cruise with about 30 authors and all I could think was that I would be on a ship for seven days with authors who had no where else to go.

Jeanne: Oh, noeeesss! No escape! Haha! Actually, I'm teasing. As an author, I think that would be fabulous to be on a ship with dozens, if not hundreds of avid readers. Not only would I get my extrovert fix, but I'd get to enjoy being both a writer and a reader too! I take it you went on the cruise?

Barbara: Oh, yes! I made my reservation and immediately started reading a book by every author. Then I emailed the author to say I enjoyed their book and looked forward to meeting them on the cruise.

Cassondra: That was courteous. And how like you, Barbara.

Barbara: Thank you! Once on the ship, I got to meet every author and one morning, while breakfasting with Marjorie Liu, I saw a woman all alone and asked her to join us. She turned out to be Karen Holt, Deputy Editor of Publishers Weekly.

Now, being a reader, I thought Publishers Weekly was a publisher, so I told Karen to sit down and I would tell her everything that was wrong with publishing from a readers point of view.

Jeanne: Good heavens! That's awesome! What did she do?

Barbara: Well, she took notes and wrote a story about me in Publishers Weekly that included my picture. A few months later, Karen contacted me and said PW was starting an online magazine and thought I would be perfect to write a blog from a readers point of view. I declined and told her to send books instead.

Cassondra: More books to feed the habit, right? But if you declined....

Barbara: Exactly, I loved the books. As to the blog, thankfully, Karen kept calling and after my son showed me a blog and explained that I should write it like I was talking to a friend, I accepted for a 3 month trial. Well, it’s been over 4 years and I’m still at it.

Jeanne: OMGosh, I had forgotten that you didn't, at the time, even know what a blog WAS, much less how to write one. You're such a natural at it, it doesn't seem possible. But you absolutely write it as if you are talking to a friend - me! - and that warmth and fun come through in every posting of Beyond Her Book.

Barbara: Thank you, Jeanne. It was an experience! I’ve learned many things along the way. Remember, being a reader I had no clue to how publishing worked. I now know so much more! Here are some key things I learned that I think most people don't know:

There's a difference between an editor and an agent.

An author doesn’t pick their own cover.

There are many imprints under one giant publisher.

An author isn’t necessarily responsible for all the editing mistakes in a book.

Publishers have certain criteria that writers have to follow. (I just thought they could write whatever they wanted.)

Writers actually have to work hard at writing a book. (I thought they sat around in sweats eating junk food and the stories just magically came to them.)

There’s a lot more to publishing a book than any reader ever wanted to know.

Cassondra: Amen to that, Barbara! The sheer number of steps in the process boggles the mind. What else has happened for you since you became the woman behind Beyond Her Book?

Barbara: I’ve been blessed to meet my favorite authors and discover many new ones in all my travels and traveling is one of my favorite parts of what I do. I get to go all over the United States and talk to amazing people and then write about it. How cool is that?

Jeanne: Have to say, that is TOTALLY cool! What's been the most exciting thing you've done so far?

Barbara: My first Comic Con in San Diego was overwhelming, but when I was invited to interview some movie and tv stars, I thought I was dreaming. I went to press junkets where you sit in a room and the stars and director of a movie come in and go table to table to talk to the press and all of a sudden I found myself one of the press.

Not knowing the rules, I asked for pictures and hugs from Dakota Fanning, Chris Evans, Richard Dean Anderson (and the rest of the cast of Stargate), Joss Whedon, Stan Lee, the entire casts of Burn Notice, Fringe, White Collar and Psych. I had lunch with Stephen Collins at the Hard Rock Cafe and talked about 7th Heaven and First Wives Club.

I met Bruce Campbell and had my picture taken. My son posted it on Facebook and declared me the “coolest mom ever.”

Cassondra: This is amazing, Barbara! I'd agree with your son. And kudos to him for helping you find the confidence to take that first step to blog, and big kudos to him for recognizing that his mom is an outstanding part of our Reader/Writer world!

Jeanne: Well said, Cassondra! So, what's coming up for you next, Barbara?

Barbara: I'm very excited to tell you about that. Next year I’ll be hosting my first Barbara Vey Reader Appreciation Luncheon in the Milwaukee area. This has been a dream of mine for years. Thirty-eight authors have agreed to come in to meet, greet, eat with and sign books for almost 300 readers. This is a real coup for the midwest.

I don’t know what else is in store for me, but I look forward to each new adventure.

Jeanne and Cassondra: Barbara, thank you SO much for being with us today!

So Banditas and Bandita Buddies, have you ever done something wild and crazy, like jump into a new career? What was that like for you?

Barbara has an outstanding blog in Beyond Her Book, what questions do you have for her about the blog and how she got started?

Would you have had the courage to hug Joss Whedon? What about the guy from Burn Notice? Grins.

As a reader, which authors would you love to sit down to lunch with, like at Barbara's upcoming luncheon, and chat about books?

Don't forget to check back for a big announcement on October 14 as we kick off Trick or Treat. The best treat of all will be awarded during the Duchesse's Halloween party on October 31. If you're not in the know after the 14th, you might miss the treat.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Perfect Present Winner!

Thanks to everyone for a great day of blogging yesterday. The winner of their choice from my backlist is:


Congratulations, Eli! Please email me on anna @ (no spaces) with your choice from my backlist (if you prefer something in Turkish, I have MY RECKLESS SURRENDER, UNTOUCHED and CAPTIVE OF SIN in translation) and your snail mail details.

Winner of Trinity Faegan's book

Congratulations to Sheree! You are the winner of Trinity Faegan's The Memphisto Covenant. Please e-mail me at trishmilburn AT yahoo DOT com with your mailing information, and I'll forward it to Trinity.

Filling the Well

by Christina Brooke/Christine Wells

I haven't been around the lair for a while and boy, have I missed you all! Especially the cabana boys and my dahling Sven of the Magical Hands. This latest deadline really whipped my hide and I had to retreat from the cyber world for a while to focus.

Writers often talk about the creative well--that there's a finite amount of creativity any of us have at one stretch. Once we've drained the well dry, we need to refill it by experiencing the world beyond our writing spaces and more specifically, other forms of artistic endeavour. I find amazing joy and inspiration in the product of other people's creativity.

At the moment, this is how I'm refilling my well:

The Russian ballet: I am not a ballet afficionado but I was transfixed by the beauty and athleticism of the dancers. And while I'm being highbrow about it, I'm also going to a performance of the opera Tosca this weekend, a birthday present from Husband. The piercing beauty of human voices gets me every time.

Interior Design: I'm in the process of renovating my house so I find a lot of inspiration in magazines and especially in blogs on the internet. I can spend hours at a time lost in Anna Spiro's Absolutely Beautiful Things, Ella and Baba and Driftwood Interiors. There's something very energizing about design and visual art, particularly when the designers use colour, textures and shapes in interesting ways.

My 4 year old son's art. Yes, I know, I am utterly biased but I find this talent truly extraordinary, not least because no one else in the family has the smallest amount of skill in this area. Regardless of talent, it's his obsessive passion for drawing that really enchants me. I hope he never loses it.

Cooking: With spring in the air, I'm trying to build up a repertoire of healthy, tasty recipes full of summer goodness. Baking is my weakness and my recreation. I love to do it but unfortunately I also love to eat what I bake!

Children's books: My agent sent me a set of Ursula Vernon's Dragonbreath books and I'm having a ball reading them to my sons. The vocabulary is quite advanced and yet the stories are so gripping, my 4 year old begs to go to bed early just so we can read the next chapter. I'm in awe of writers who can capture children's interest so thoroughly.

Fiction: You know I'm busy when I say I haven't had time to sit down and read! For me, that's pretty much unheard of. Luckily there is a solution--audiobooks! I am currently glomming Lisa Gardner. Man, the books are even scarier when they're read to you. I have also learned from experience not to listen to them when I'm eating. I know Lisa would be glad to hear me say that and think it a job well done.

Classic movies: As inspiration for the next romance, what could be better than watching An Affair to Remember for the zillionth time or snuggling down to watch every possible version of Pride & Prejudice?

Music: Yes, I admit, I'm an 80s/90s tragic. I load up the iPod and go walking or listen in the car and let my mind wander.

How do you re-energize after a particularly gruelling or emotionally draining time?

Do you use creative pursuits as therapy? What's your favorite Lisa Gardner book?

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Perfect Present!

by Anna Campbell

I LOVE getting presents!

Yeah, I guess that makes me really unusual.

But I also love buying people presents. I love matching up the perfect gift with the right person.

Recently I was in Brisbane, which counts as the big smoke for me now I've moved to the Sunshine Coast, and I had a stack of birthday presents to buy. I was happy as a pig in mud. And even if I do say so myself, I think I picked up some beautiful, completely apt gifts for my friends.

Friends, even if you don't agree, don't tell me!

As many of you know, this year also marked a significant birthday for me (oh, thirty is such a lovely age, snork!). I collected a swag of lovely presents including some beautiful bouquets. Actually for me, flowers are a perfect present. I always love them.

One of my absolute favorites is the subject of today's blog. Recently I had wonderful Bandita Anna Sugden and her delightful husband to stay at my place in Australia. I've had a Bandita drought this year because I didn't make it to America for RWA Nationals so it was such a thrill to host our English Bandita and feed her to the koalas at Australia Zoo (Steve Irwin's place) which isn't far away.

By the way, no koalas were harmed in the devouring of my English visitors!

Actually, given koalas are herbivores, no English visitors were harmed either. I only put that in for a bit of dramatic tension. And speaking of dramatic tension, how shocking is this picture of Anna and me fighting off a vicious, blood-sucking kangaroo in the jungles of south-east Queensland? Scary, huh? I bet you have nightmares tonight!

Anna and Keith arrived bearing gifts, including one of the loveliest presents I've ever received. It's a commemorative teacup from Queen Victoria's 60th jubilee in 1897 - hey, how cool they did royal souvenirs back then! For a history geek like me, they couldn't have come up with anything nicer!

The teacup is really pretty - transfer printed with the British coat of arms of the lion and the unicorn and lovely roses, thistles and clover to symbolize England, Scotland and Ireland as the United Kingdom. Isn't it lovely?

Something that blows my mind is that this fragile piece of china is 114 years old and it's in perfect condition. I suspect it's been sitting in someone's granny's china cabinet as a treasured object since it was made.

Right now it lives in my bedroom and it never fails to make me smile. Think of how the world has changed since 1897 and yet this little piece of beauty is as fresh as the day it was made. That's one of the reasons I love old things - they give you such a window on the past.

Thank you, Anna Bandita and her lovely husband. You couldn't have come up with a better present! I hope you realized when you gave it to me quite how much I adored the cup and saucer.

So when was the last time someone gave you the perfect present? Or you gave someone else the perfect present?

Seeing we're in a gift-giving mood, I'm awarding one lucky commenter their choice from my backlist today. If you need help choosing a book, check out the books page on my website: Good luck!


Don't forget we're kicking off Trick or Treat in the Lair with a BIG announcement on October 14, with a special treat to follow on Halloween.
The Golden Rooster is poking into the corners to find out what's going on. He even asked Ermingarde the Dragon what was coming(from a safe distance, of course). But Ermingarde doesn't know, either.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Trinity Faegan Enters the YA World with Edgy Debut

I'm thrilled to host debut Young Adult author Trinity Faegan today, not only because I had the privilege of reading her YA work while it was still in manuscript form but also because she's a dear friend.

Your first YA novel, The Mephisto Covenant, just released. Tell us a bit about the book and the main characters.

A descendant of the daughter of Eve, born before Original Sin, Sasha falls in love with Jax, a son of the dark angel, Mephistopheles, then discovers she alone can save him from Hell, but only if she gives up mortality and her birthright of certain Heaven to join him and his brothers in a brutal war to save mankind’s free will.

How did the idea for this book, and the rest of the series, come to you?

I was going through a difficult period after someone close to me was sexually assaulted. I sort of obsessed about evil – why does it exist? Is there really a devil, or Hell? One night, I dreamed of kick-ass guys who could destroy evil. It was hazy and weird, like all dreams, but when I woke up, they were fully formed in my head. As I created the story, I wanted a girl who could be with them only because she was unique in some way. I came full circle to where I’d begun, thinking about original sin. According to the Bible, original sin began when Eve ate the apple and tempted Adam to eat it, too. It’s like they doomed each of us to constant temptation, and only by rising above it can we reach Heaven. At least, that’s what so many religious doctrines teach. I imagined what a human would be like if they weren’t around when Lucifer visited Eden and offered the apple to Eve. So I invented Aurora, born before the fall, who wandered away and was lost. It kind of went from there.

Did you have any moments during the writing of the book when you went, "This is freaking awesome!"? Any when you wanted to pull your hair out?

Writing the first draft was awesome. Revising based on feedback from agents was not so awesome. Throwing the whole thing out and starting over was back to awesome. No, really. Revisions from my editor were…difficult. I’m not sure if that’s because of what he wanted, or that I was going through a major health crisis and surgery during first and second round revisions.

You previously wrote for Harlequin's Bombshell line before it closed. How is writing YA different from writing those earlier books? How is it similar?

I wrote the Bombshell books in first person, and they were funny. The heroine was a divorced down-on-her luck CPA. Her entire worldview was more mature and jaded than Sasha in Mephisto, which I wrote in third. The Pink books were light, even though they dealt with a serious subject, but Mephisto is very dark. I was more conscious of my audience with Mephisto, although I didn’t pull any punches.

Are you a big fan of reading YA? If so, what are some of the best YA books you've read this year?

Huge fan of YA. I haven’t read much since June, when I got serious with writing book 2 in this series. Before that, I read OyMG by Amy Dominy, about a Jewish girl at a Christian camp, and I loved it. As soon as life slows down, I’m excited to read Simone Elkeles’s third Fuentes brother book, Chain Reaction. I’m a total fangurl! Also really excited to read Heather Brewer’s first book in her new Slayer Chronicles series.

If The Mephisto Covenant was made into a movie, who would you love to see cast as the leads?
I never think about this. Really. Never.

Tell us about what you're working on now?

Getting some sleep after turning in book 2 of the Mephisto series, which right now is only two books. Here’s hoping there’ll be more!

If you could ask the Banditas and our Bandita Buddies one thing, what would it be?

How do you guys stay so fun, fresh and on top of things? And where can I buy some? LOL!
Trinity will be giving away a copy of The Mephisto Covenant today to one lucky commenter. Tell us, are you a fan of YA fiction? If so, what are some of the best YA books you've read this year? What are your all-time favorites?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Bandit Booty

It's that time again! The winner of Theresa Romain's book, Season for Temptation is:


Congratulations, Gayle! Please send me your address so I can forward it on to Theresa. Send it to: christie @ christiekelley . com

Juggling for Writers

posted by Nancy

Barbara Monajem returns to chat with us about juggling two very different types of stories at the same time. Welcome, Barbara!

You're writing two very different kinds of stories at the moment, historicals for Harlequin Undone and the Bayou Gavotte paranormals for Dorchester. How do you stay in the right mindset for each?

People often ask me this question, and the answer is, I really don’t know. I just do it. When writing a contemporary paranormal, I’m in the modern world, thinking in present-day slang with a 21st century mindset. When I’m writing a Regency historical, I’m in an entirely different mental environment, with a different vocabulary and different values. It’s almost as if I flip a switch in my brain... and suddenly I’m someplace else.

The greatest difficulties have to do with the worlds themselves. In the contemporary novels, I have to think about stuff like which phone can I give my heroine that won’t be outdated in a year, while in the historicals, there’s a constant challenge to make my heroine appealing to modern women while keeping her believable in a historical context.

Tell us a bit about your current projects.

Right now I’m working on a full-length Regency for Harlequin. It’s the third in a series about the Carling siblings, James, Simon, and Sally. James’s story comes first in my recent novella, The Wanton Governess. The second novella is Simon’s story. I don’t have a title yet, but it’s scheduled to be released in January. Simon is a rake and was a hoot to write.

Recently, I handed the third Bayou Gavotte paranormal in to my editor. It’s about the rock star, Constantine Dufray, who was a secondary character in the first two novels. I’ve written his story several times over the years –- it was really the first I wrote about Bayou Gavotte, but his character deepened as I wrote the others -– and I’m quite jubilant that finally it’s finished! Also, I’ve just begun the fourth paranormal, a murder mystery. The heroine is a vampire, and the hero, Gill, is a secondary character from Tastes of Love & Evil. He’s possessed – but I still haven’t figured out by what! Hopefully that will be solved, as well as the murder, by the end of the book.

What's Pompeia and James's biggest problem in The Wanton Governess?

To grab their second chance at first love and run with it!! Here is a blurb that makes the problem clear:

In exchange for a few days’ shelter, dismissed governess Pompeia Grant pretends to be the wife of a man who spurned her years earlier. James Carling, the man in question, is in America, so he’ll never know. And it’s only for a couple of days. And she’s helping a friend, so she’s doing a good deed… But the next day, James comes home.

Would you like to share an excerpt?


Sussex, 1801

"What in hell's name were you thinking?"

At this furious bellow all the ladies froze, then gaped. "Who was that?" Clarabelle faltered.

Pompeia rose in horror. She would know that enraged shout anywhere. She had heard it only once before, and she would never forget it.

But this time it was surely directed at her.

Footsteps hammered on the staircase, and her heart abandoned itself to terror. She had to run. She had to flee.

No! She had to do something.

"James, wait!" That was Sally's voice from the corridor. "Please, just let me --"

"James wasn't supposed to be home yet," Clarabelle moaned, and meanwhile the footsteps pounded down the passage.

Think, think! There must be some way to avert disaster. Not to Pompeia herself -- that was impossible -- but to Sally, to whom the vouchers for Almack's meant so much. But there wasn't time, because it would mean convincing Sir James to talk to her privately before exposing the deception. It would mean making him want to. Inexorably, the footsteps approached the drawing-room doorway.

I know how to make a man want to, said the Wanton Within.

Not that! Pompeia's rational mind screamed. Not now! But after a second's furious pause, she realized that for once the Wanton might be right. She got her feet moving and went straight for the door.

Too late.

He came into the room like a thunderstorm. It was James indeed, older, broader, and even more beautiful than four years ago, from his dark, wavy hair and grey eyes to his well-worn leathers. The Wanton Within applauded, but mostly, Pompeia cringed. She closed her eyes, desperate to compose herself. A babble of voices roiled around her, but she was poised only for his, for the fatal words exposing her as a fraud, commanding her to leave.

Open your eyes, said the Wanton. Look at him.

She did. He stared back, the anger slowly draining from his features, surprise taking its place.

That's a good start, the Wanton said. Now, let your eyes do the talking. But Pompeia had done that once before to Sir James -- accompanied by words that permitted no misunderstanding -- and received a stinging refusal.

That was then; this is now, the Wanton insisted. Smile, for pity's sake!

Pompeia felt her lips tremble into a travesty of a welcome.

Sir James's mouth quirked the tiniest bit in response. "Pompeia," he said.

She forced her tongue into motion. "J-James."

"Unbelievable." Slowly, he shook his head. "Oh, Pompeia." His eyes rested on her, warmly approving. No, wickedly so.

This was astonishingly different from the last time they'd met, when the chill in those eyes had made even the Wanton cower. No, particularly the Wanton, who had gone into hiding for quite a while after that.

What had happened to change things?

Ah. James did know of Pompeia's disgrace, just as she'd assumed. And, in the way of all men, he anticipated that she would willingly be just as disgraceful with him.

Yes! Do let's! Just this once! the Wanton said.

Wow, what a place to leave us hanging! Meanwhile, in your other subgenre, what's the issue between Rose and Jack?

Rose saves Jack’s life…but Jack loathes vampires. Forced to work together to rescue a runaway, they combine her allure and his talent for vanishing into thin air to tackle a vamp-gone-bad and unearth the secrets of the most dangerous club in Bayou Gavotte.

What's next for you?

When I finish the two books I’m working on now, I’ll probably write another historical novella just for fun, or maybe a full-length based on a secondary character in the one I’m writing now. I’ll decide when the time comes!

You write great blurbs on your website. How do you approach creating these short summaries?

With a lot of groaning and moaning and hopefully some help from my editors. :)

For more about Barbara and her books, visit her website.

Barbara is giving away one copy of Tastes of Love and Evil (paperback or Kindle e-book) and one copy of The Wanton Governess (Kindle e-book only).

So tell us about the last time you had to juggle projects. What were they, and how did you manage? Or tell us whether you read (or write) more than one subgenre at a time, and why.

And let us know, please, whether you're able to read Kindle books.

Don't forget we're kicking off Trick or Treat in the Lair on with a BIG announcement on October 14, with a special treat to follow on Halloween.

The Golden Rooster is poking into the corners to find out what's going on. He even asked Ermingarde the Dragon what was coming(from a safe distance, of course). But Ermingarde doesn't know, either.

All will be revealed on the 14th!

Friday, October 7, 2011

3 Easy Steps to Getting into the (Halloween) Holiday Spirit

By Kate

I want to welcome my fabulous friend Regan Hastings to the Lair today! Regan is the dark alter ego of my equally fabulous friend Maureen Child. As Regan, she writes The Awakening, a series of sexy paranormal romances, in which a coven of reincarnated witches must atone for their actions 800 years ago, when their thirst for power led them to open the gates of Hell. VISIONS OF SKYFIRE, the second book of The Awakening is available now.

And now here’s Maur – I mean, Regan Hastings…

Christmas is taking over the calendar, and I resent it. Santa Claus must have a good press agent. Don’t get me wrong. I love Christmas. I just want it to stay in December, where it belongs. I’m okay with a slight encroachment into November. The Christmas season has my permission to begin the day after Thanksgiving.

But in my opinion, Halloween should have exclusive rights to October. Unless Santa is dressed in a zombie costume, I don’t want to see him.

Let’s band together and take the fat boy down! Let’s reclaim October. This month, the “holiday” in “holiday spirit” shall be Halloweeeeeeeeeeeen!

3 Easy Steps to Getting into the (Halloween) Holiday Spirit

1. Eat candy. Buy a huge bag of miniature candy bars in early October. Brand name candy bars, the ones that kids really like. You want those tiny goblins to tell their little friends to be sure to go to your house. Test one, just to be sure they’re okay, then put the bag in the freezer. Out of sight, out of mind. It won’t hurt if you sample one every now and then throughout the month, though, right? On Halloween, check your supply, realize that there are only two bite-sized candy bars remaining, and they’re unlikely to procreate. (Even if one does have nuts, and the other doesn’t.) Rush to the store to buy whatever meager pickings are available at the last minute, hoping desperately that they’re good enough to keep kids from toilet-papering your trees.

2. Decorate your yard. In October, you can always tell where the really cool people live by the number of tombstones in front of the house. Freak out your neighbors even more by putting their names on the tombstones. Add a zombie arm clawing its way out of the ground, and you’re Halloween gold, baby.

3. Read a book filled with witchy goodness. I was thrilled when I learned that VISIONS OF SKYFIRE would be released in October, because I knew that diving into the dark paranormal world of the Awakening would help put readers in the Halloween spirit. (Take that, Santa Claus!)

As VISIONS OF SKYFIRE begins, Teresa Santiago can feel that her powers are on the verge of Awakening. Since she was young, her abuela has told her that she’s destined to become one of the most powerful witches who has ever lived. If the Bureau of Witchcraft gets its way, she won’t live for long. In this modern day world, witches are hunted and killed. The instant her powers Awaken, the BOW will detect her magic… and they’ll come for her with every weapon in their arsenal.

Her only hope is that her Eternal warrior-protector will get to her first. Rune was forged from the sun to be her mate. With him by her side, she’ll find her piece of the artifact that will save an ungrateful humanity from the demons of Hell… or die trying.

Click here to read a free excerpt: VISIONS OF SKYFIRE

How do you get into the Halloween spirit? Do you decorate your house? Do you dress in costume? Do a lot of trick-or-treaters come to your house? What is your favorite kind of Halloween candy? If you’re from another country, how does your Halloween tradition differ from what we do in the U.S?

Kate here again! Another great thing about October? Well, I can't tell you. It's a secret. But it's good, and you'll love it, and... okay, I better stop now before I spill the beans. All will be revealed later this month!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Accidental Courtesan in the Lair!

Hosted by Donna MacMeans

Today we're welcoming the return of Cheryl Ann Smith to tell us about her new release, The Accidental Courtesan (Don't you love that cover?) Romantic Times gives a thumbs up to the book's "dash of humor, plenty of sensuality and a fast pace." Without further ado, here's Cheryl Ann -

Thanks so much to Romance Bandits and Donna for having me here! I had so much fun on my last visit that I’m thrilled to come back to talk about courtesans and to give away prizes!

Several years ago, I decided to write a book about a courtesan school. My heroine would rescue courtesans from that life and match them with suitors. In order to make the storyline realistic, I needed to find out if courtesans actually did marry. Thankfully, it was quite common, giving my story credibility.

Many of the women who became courtesans did so to escape poverty. Some turned to the profession to gain power, and some just enjoyed the notoriety it afforded them. Oddly, it appears that men did not find a woman’s scandalous past (or in some cases, present and future) as a mistress or courtesan a deterrent to marriage. Some husbands used their wives' extra-marital relationships with nobility to gain favor in court.

Jeanne Becu was the illegitimate daughter of a seamstress. She became a prostitute in her teens, though she had several professions, including milliner’s assistant. At the time, only titled women could be a royal mistress and she seemed to like the idea of becoming one. So, she married Comte Guillaume du Barry and was soon a mistress to Louis XV. Sadly, some years after Louis XV died, she was accused of treason the beheaded. France sure liked their guillotine!

Virginia Oldoini wasn’t born poor. She married at 17 and became the Countess of Castiglione. A cousin involved her in politics, where she met, and became the mistress of, Napoleon III. This (surprisingly) upset her husband and they separated. But she did not slip into obscurity. Instead, her beauty captured the attention of photographers, Mayer and Pierson. They documented her life in photographs, earning her a legacy that carried on long after her death.

Marie-Louis O’Murphy posed for a nude painting as a young teen. It came to the attention of Louis XV. She became one of his mistresses

and bore him a child. When she attempted to replace Madame de Pompadour as his favored mistress, she was booted from favor and married off. She went on to live an interesting life, including marrying and divorcing a second husband (the first died) who was twenty-eight years her junior.

Needless to say, the research into this topic was very interesting! Though my books have yet to feature an actual courtesan heroine, I wondered if readers would accept a fallen woman as a heroine, or would her past be too hard to overcome?

The Accidental Courtesan has been released this week (Oct 4th), the same week as my birthday (Oct 7th), so I’m having a party! Berkley is giving away a two book set of my books to a Romance Bandits commenter today. Just give me your opinion of a fallen woman as a heroine.

Donna here - Speaking of prizes, I just wanted to remind everyone of the mad party of tricks and treats and prizes beginning on October 14th in the lair. Later this month a BIG Bandita Surprise will be announced with even more prizes, but you MUST be here on the 14th for details!

Cheryl's Birthday Bash continues on at her blog and she's giving the gifts! For details about a chance at a birthday kindle, visit

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Clash of Exes

Gina Robinson returns to the Lair with the debut of her new Agent Ex spy series. She'll also chat with us about what we think marriage to a spy would be like.

Welcome, Gina!

Like most writers, I read voraciously and broadly. I've always loved a good spy thriller, whether it be in novel or movie form. As for spy heroes--James Bond, Jason Bourne, Jack Ryan, Jack Bauer, James Clayton--they have a sexy mystique about them. They're handsome, athletic, intelligent, witty, good with a gun, great with their hands, alpha males. What's not to love?

Hmmmm . . . good question. The more I thought about it, the more I realized spies might make great lovers, but do they make great soul mates, partners, and husbands? There are a lot of potential downsides to marrying a spy. Spies are always gone. Always in danger, which can translate to putting those they love in harm's way, too. They're professional liars and they hang out with beautiful fellow female agents as well as femme fatale enemy spies. You never know where they are. They seldom make it home for dinner and when they do, they're often disheveled. They drive like maniacs. And they're always looking over their shoulder.

Thinking what it would be like being married to a spy like Bond sparked the idea for my new Agent Ex series from St. Martin's Press. But because I love Agent 86 Maxwell Smart as well as Bond, I put a lot of humor and lighthearted fun into the books, and poked a little bit of fun at the spy thriller genre.

And while most spy thrillers are written by men for men, I decided it was high time to gear a spy book toward female readers, which means focusing on the romance and the personal relationships of the spies and their love interests.

The books in the Agent Ex series are all reunion books. The "Ex" refers to spouses who are well on their way to being ex spouses. The first book in the series, The Spy Who Left Me, November 2011, takes place in Hawaii. Here's the back cover blurb:


If there’s one thing that can ruin a vacation, it’s running into your ex. Just ask Treflee Miller. If she’d only known that her husband Ty would be here in Hawaii—muscular, sun-bronzed, and infuriatingly gorgeous—she would have brought the divorce papers for him to sign. But life is full of surprises when you’re married to a world-class spy…


Ty Miller can understand why his wife is tired of playing Mrs. James Bond. He’s never home, he’s always on a mission, and he’s usually surrounded by exotic informants. He has to admit that the perfect spy makes a pretty lousy husband. But for the sake of Ty’s security and Treflee’s safety, they can’t blow his cover. Not here. Not now. Not when his longing is so strong, her lips so tempting—and his enemies so close…


There are two things a girl would really rather not experience on her Hawaiian vacation—the monthly curse and a run-in with her soon-to-be ex. For the first time since puberty, Treflee Miller had managed to dodge the first. She was staring at all six-foot-two well-muscled, lying, spying, ran-out-on-her inches of the second as he hefted her cousin Carrie’s bags up the steps of the Big Auau Sugar Plantation’s lanai.

He’d bleached his brown hair to a sun-streaked blond and grown a goatee, but it was him. The corner of his mouth curled into that sexy half grin of his and his eyes danced with flirtation as he stared at Carrie, not seeing Treflee.

Treflee flushed, feeling an unexpected jolt of jealousy. Whether she wanted him or not, he was still her man. Her mouth fell open into what was surely an unflattering gape. What was he doing here on her vacation? Shouldn’t he be playing spy boy, not bellhop, on something other than U.S. soil?

Damn! She didn’t have the divorce papers on her. Technically, he wasn’t legally her ex-husband. Yet. He’d run off on another top-secret mission without signing the final paperwork. If only she had them with her, she’d make short work of her still-married status.


Here's the trailer:

The Spy Who Left Me from Visual Quill on Vimeo.

For more information on Gina and her books, check out her website.

What about you? What do you think it would really be like being married to a world-class secret agent? What upsides and downsides can you imagine? One winner today will receive either Spy Games or Spy Candy (winner's choice) from Gina's backlist.


Don't forget we kick off Trick or Treat in the Lair with a BIG announcement on October 14. Be sure to join us on this special red letter day and learn the secret the GR is doing his best to uncover. Trick or Treat culminates on October 31 with a special treat--but you'll miss the beginning unless you're here on the 14th!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Welcome Theresa Romain

by Christie Kelley

Today the lair is welcoming debut author Theresa Romain. Her first book, Season for Temptation, is out now. Welcome again, Theresa.

Can you tell us a little about the story?

Hi, Christie—thanks so much for inviting me here to blog with the Romance Bandits! Season for Temptation is a Regency-set historical romance featuring a love triangle, a hungry parrot, disastrous costumes, several unwanted proposals, and one much-wanted one.

The back cover copy reads:

TWO SISTERS… Julia Herington is overjoyed when her stepsister, Louisa, becomes engaged—to a viscount, no less. Louisa’s only hesitation is living a life under the ton’s critical gaze. But with his wry wit and unconventional ideas, Julia feels James is perfect for Louisa. She can only hope to find a man like him for herself. Exactly like him, in fact…

ONE CHOICE… As the new Viscount Matheson, James wished to marry quickly and secure his title. Kind, intelligent Louisa seemed a suitable bride… Until he met her stepsister. Julia is impetuous—and irresistible. Pledged to one sister, yet captivated by another, what is he to do? As Christmas and the whirl of the London season approach, James may be caught in a most scandalous conundrum, one that only true love, a bit of spiritous punch—and a twist of fate—will solve…

Season for Temptation is a Regency historical. What got you into writing historical romance?

I’ve always loved history, and I’ve always loved reading. I started reading historical romance in college, and I think the possibility of writing one was always in the back of my mind. First, though, I had to finish grad school (in history!), and then I focused on nonfiction writing for quite a while. Once I was ready to switch to fiction, it took a while to retrain my writing voice. The first draft of Season for Temptation sounded as formal as a scientific article! But it was even more fun than I’d thought it would be to make up stories and tinker with dialogue and character, so I kept revising over time. And, of course, reading every fantastic historical romance I could get my hands on.

The plot has a love triangle. How hard was writing that aspect of the story? Did you find it difficult to keep you hero and heroine sympathetic in that situation?

Absolutely, it was a difficult balance to keep everyone sympathetic. But I thought it was very important to the story. I’ve seen love triangles with “other women,” but I wanted to write all three characters as good people who are in a really difficult situation. Both James and Louisa enter into their engagement for noble reasons: they want to help their families. Both James and Julia fight their attraction because they have great respect for Louisa—in fact, Julia considers Louisa her closest friend as well as her stepsister. So I had to balance the growth of love and desire with perfectly proper behavior. Every time James or Julia stepped over the line, they had to pull back, since (in my opinion) there’s nothing romantic about betrayal. The story is about how people with the best intentions can be led astray by emotions—and then how they make things right.

We love call stories in the lair! Can you tell us yours?

Certainly! Mine is kind of backwards. My call story began with the Northwest Houston RWA’s Lone Star writing contest in spring 2009. I entered the first few chapters of my first novel in the Historical category. And then my house flooded – TWICE – and I forgot about the contest. I stopped querying, I stopped writing, I stopped doing anything except dealing with contractors and oh yeah working and oh maybe even sleeping but not much because there was always something else that needed to be fixed. That went on for about five months.

At the end of that five months, things were reasonably normal again, and I missed writing so much by then. I opened up my manuscript files and looked everything over. I had fresh eyes for the work by this point, and I started tweaking and fixing and clipping and expanding. A few weeks later, the Lone Star contest coordinator told me that I’d made the contest final. And shortly after that, the judging editor emailed me to ask for the full. Whee!! She had my shiny newly edited manuscript in her inbox before the day was out. A few weeks later, the editor called me to make an offer for it.

So that was the literal “call” in my “call story,” and I actually missed it because I was at work. But she left a message. I know I didn’t imagine it, because I made my husband listen to it and tell me it was real. And I did get back to the editor the next day, and she promised it was real. And now Season for Temptation is also real!

What's next for you?

I’m working on a few other Regency-set projects, including a follow-up to Season for Temptation. When I have definite details, I will shout them to the world! And just for fun...what's your favorite dessert? Um, all of them? I have a world-class sweet tooth, and dessert always sounds good to me. I like to watch competitions on the Food Network, and whenever a judge says, “This is too sweet,” I think, “Whatever. There’s no such thing.”

I do have a particular love for anything with coconut (which I realize is a controversial opinion). Coconut cake is my favorite make-it-every-birthday treat. I also really like Jelly Bellys, but I don’t get them very often since I gobble them down whenever they’re in the house.
You can Theresa at

Christie and Bandits, thanks again for hosting me! And now I have a question for you readers. Did you ever have a dinner that surprised you—whether the food or the company? Tell us about it! I’ll give away a copy of Season for Temptation to one random commenter.