Thursday, July 2, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Historical Romance Edition

Thank you to Shabby Blogs ( for the free frame!

Happy Thursday, everyone! And welcome to a new feature on Buried Under Romance and Love Saves the World.

What is Throwback Thursday?
Traditionally, Throwback Thursday celebrates nostalgia, asking participants to post a personal photo or an image from their past -- usually from 5 to 10 years ago. There are a lot of book blogs that also do a book-related Throwback Thursday.

The Historical Romance Edition:
Since Mary of Buried Under Romance and I are unapologetic lovers of historical romances, we've decided to focus on our beloved genre.

Here are our rules:
1. It must be posted on a Thursday.
2. It must be a historical romance novel published before October 3, 2008.

In this lush and seductive novel, exciting new author Tessa Dare takes desire to brazen heights.

Ever the bold adventuress, Lucy Waltham has decided to go hunting for a husband. But first she needs some target practice. So she turns to her brother’s best friend, Jeremy Trescott, the Earl of Kendall, to hone her seductive wiles on him before setting her sights on another man. But her practice kisses spark a smoldering passion -- one that could send all her plans up in smoke.

Jeremy has an influential title, a vast fortune, and a painful past full of long-buried secrets. He keeps a safe distance from his own emotions, but to distract Lucy from her reckless scheming, he must give his passions free rein. Their sensual battle of wills is as maddening as it is delicious, but the longer he succeeds in managing the headstrong temptress, the closer Jeremy comes to losing control. When scandal breaks, can he bring himself to abandon Lucy to her ruin? Or will he risk his heart and claim her for his own?

To find out more about Tessa Dare and her books, click below:


Head over to Mary @ Buried Under Romance and Ki Pha of Doing Some Reading for their picks for Throwback Thursday.^_^

Fellow historical romance readers are welcome to join us. Enter your link below so we can visit your TBT: HR Edition post for the week! (Then go here to copy the Link code to your blogs.)

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Spotlight on: Do Not Forsake Me by Rosanne Bittner (Release Date: July 7, 2015) (Excerpt + Giveaway)

Title: Do Not Forsake Me
Author: Rosanne Bittner
Series: Outlaw Hearts, #2
Pubdate: July 7th 2015
ISBN: 9781492612810

Fate brought them together. His past may tear them apart.

Miranda Hayes’ life was changed the day she faced down infamous gunslinger Jake Harkner ... and walked away with his heart. Their fates have been intertwined ever since. Hunted by the law, fleeing across a savage land, their desperate love flourished despite countless sorrows. Now, twenty-six years later, their family has finally found some measure of peace ... balanced on the knife’s edge of danger.

Jake has spent his years as a U.S. Marshal atoning for sins, bringing law to the land he once terrorized. But no matter how hard he fights the demons of his brutal past, the old darkness still threatens to consume him. Only Miranda keeps the shadows at bay. But when outlaws looking for revenge strike a fatal blow, Jake risks losing the one woman who saw past his hard exterior and to the man inside.

He always knew there’d be the devil to pay. He just never realized he might not be the one to bear the ultimate price.

USA Today bestseller and award-winning novelist Rosanne Bittner is known as the “Queen of Western Historical Romance” for her thrilling love stories and historical authenticity. Her epic romances span the West -- and are often based on Rosanne’s personal visits to each setting. She lives in Coloma, Michigan, with her husband and two sons.

This July marks the release of Do Not Forsake Me, Rosanne Bittner’s long-awaited sequel to her beloved title Outlaw Hearts. To celebrate, we’re pleased to welcome father and son Jake and Lloyd Harkner, who have agreed to sit down with us today to answer a view questions about their relationship and the impact it has on this latest release.
What is the hardest part about being a parent?
JAKE: Knowing that bearing my name can mean constant problems for my children.
LLOYD: Nothing yet. My son is still young. Hardest part is finding enough

An Excerpt:

In this excerpt Jake has been gravely wounded and Randy has been through the hell of thinking she was losing him. She is talking with a reporter who wants to write about Jake.

“Ma’am, if I may ask ... how do you do it?” Jeff asks.

“You’re a mother, a grandmother, and wife to a man who has to be difficult to live with.”

Randy glanced at Jake’s guns lying on the table.

“No one understands my husband the way I do, Jeff. No one. I know every detail about his life, including when he was a little boy. I know how he thinks and what his needs are. I know how he suffers silently on the inside. That’s how I do it.” She wiped at her eyes.

“Jake has a good heart. He treats me with total devotion and respect, so no, he’s not difficult to live with. We’ve had some really bad times, a couple of them a big test of our marriage, but deep down I’ve always known how much Jake Harkner loves and needs me.”

She seemed to be in another world for the moment. “And years ago, not long after we’d met and then gone our separate ways, thinking it was best because he was a wanted man, Jake rode out of my life and I headed west to find my brother. The people I traveled with left me at a trading post when they thought I was dying from a snakebite, and the men at the trading post were ... awful. I was in terrible pain, sure I was dying ... and one day I heard Jake’s voice, felt him lift me into his arms and promise me he’d never let me out of his sight again. He’d tracked me down and come back for me. I remember how gentle he was when nursing me back from death, bathing me, feeding me, keeping me warm ... and never once did he take advantage or touch me wrongly. I knew then all I needed to know about him. I fell totally, deeply, madly in love with the real Jake Harkner.”

Buy Links:

Find Rosanne Bittner at:

* * *


To celebrate the release of Do Not Forsake Me, Rosanne Bittner is giving away 5 copies of Outlaw Hearts, the first book in her Outlaw Hearts series.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: Never Just Friends by Mina V. Esguerra (New Adult Contemporary)

Click here to buy the book on Amazon
Click here to buy the paperback at The Book Depository

For readers in the Philippines, Mina V. Esguerra's books are available for ordering online at National Bookstore

If Lindsey and Jake's love story were ever a headline for those Facebook posts, it's definitely a link people with click: Lindsey works for an environmental protection agency, and Jake is a famous TV star. They are long-time friends who met in university and are secretly in love with each other. They finally have a chance to reconnect and see if sparks will fly.

The fun part? It's Jake who makes the first move. It's Jake who wants to commit, and it's Lindsey who is hesitant about giving their relationship a chance.

"You love me, don't you?"

"Yes," she said quickly. "That's not the problem at all."
-p. 83

I've been reflecting on these 2 lines since I read it, because I think it perfectly highlights the challenges faced by couples in a contemporary romance: love is no longer the end goal, but is only part of the journey because commitment (and marriage) isn't automatic.

Since I read mostly historical romances, I couldn't help but compare the two genres. I kept trying to see differences between contemporary and historical romance issues -- but, found how some exchanges are startlingly similar: there are issues of trust and truth, of me versus we, etc.

At the heart of their problem are two things:
#1 After years of being friends, Jake dropped out of Lindsey's life with no explanation. Leaving Lindsey to wonder about it.
#2 They're both casually seeing other people.

I thought the second issue was a bit tricky to tackle, but Mina Esguerra really did a good job of untangling it. The author recognized it was messy, and allowed her characters to experience the repercussions. I thought she handled it in a realistic way, especially with the awkward confrontation. (Read pp. 94-96)

I could see the depth of friendship between our main characters, and it made me realise just how risky this new stage is for them -- and how much they would lose if it didn't work out. But Jake is determined, and Lindsey loves him. I thought half the battle had been won already.

The other issue is about truth and trust -- something happened in Jake's life that Lindsey didn't know about. It's a scary position for a friend to be in -- to be kept out of the dark of something, and then be left to imagine the worst possible situations. It's even more scary when you are actually in love with said friend. I understand how betrayed Lindsey felt, and why she is hesitant to trust Jake completely. Jake has a history of leaving whenever the situation got too overwhelming (college finals, etc) -- and Lindsey doesn't want to be the one left behind again.

Lindsay and Jake are working on an environmental issue, and, as seen in the author's acknowledgement page, she had done her research very well, having thanked a number of resource persons. And it amazed me how well Esguerra was able to translate such complicated concepts and made them accessible and easy to understand. It is also a testament to how precise her writing and vision is -- one can sense the intent to shine the spotlight on the problems facing environmental advocates, especially when it comes to raising awareness and funds. But Mina Esguerra is able to give enough detail to make one curious, but not too much that it would overshadow the primary focus of this story -- which is Jake and Lindsey. There really is a wonderful balance to her story.

While there is a happy ending to this story, one also gets a sense that it isn't happily-ever-after -- which is not a bad thing, really. You know that this is a couple who will continue to work and negotiate and talk in order to make their relationship work. So, yes, there's an ending -- but it really isn't the end. (Such a post-modern thing. ^_^)

The one very, very small aspect of the story that continues to bug me is this: isn't there a rule about mixing romance and work? Lindsey and Jake seem to be breaking this particular rule, and none of their friends (or Lindsey's family) or their boss seem to mind.

Never Just Friends is part of Mina Esguerra's Spotlight New Adult series. To find out more about Mina Esguerra and her books, click below:

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Blogger Report: Tessa Dare in the Philippines #tessadareinph

Poster of the event. Taken from the Powerbooks Facebook Page.
When one of your favorite authors travels from across the oceans and has scheduled a talk and book signing, you meet her halfway -- granted, it was Tessa Dare who went the greater distance (with her 14-hour flight vs my 55-minute one).

They had all of Tessa's books out.  I registered at 11ish and was already #15 in the book signing queue.
I know many romance authors have done tours and attended conferences in Australia, but this was the first time an author was visiting my country, so I considered this a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Small token ready, flight and hotel booked, and fan-girl heart switched to "on", I brought my husband with me to the event.

PowerBooks and National Bookstore did a good job of organizing the book signing. They gave each one of us a queue number, that indicated the number of books they were having signed. Seats and venue were set up early and everything looked so beautiful -- and surreal. On Twitter, Tessa Dare jokingly compared it to an Oprah set.

For me, this was something I had only seen in photos online from fellow bloggers in the U.S. It sunk in ... Really sunk in, that Tessa Dare was here ... And I would finally get to hear her talk. And I would finally get to talk to her.

As early as 11, when registration started, some of Tessa's fans had already staked out seats. I was so, so excited! I took my seat at around 2:30 and could see fellow readers with stacks of her books beside them. I sat beside this lovely lady who was actually reading Tessa's book while waiting for the event to start (book 3 of The Stud Club Trilogy, I think).

The talk was facilitated by Mina V. Esguerra and the following topics were covered:
- Tessa Dare's journey to being a writer
- where she gets her ideas
- Tacloban/Leyte and Typhoon Yolanda (Tessa Dare lived and worked there in her early 20s, and she has a very personal connection to the province.)
- historical accuracy vs. individual voice
- the research into detail and language
- how she develops characters, character pairings, and Youtubing blacksmiths
- readers reaction to her books and who fans loved from the Spindle Cove series (Minerva and Colin)

More topics were covered, but it took me a while before I recovered from my starstruckness and started taking notes.

Thank you, @70616f6c6f for this photo

I loved when Tessa Dare talked about Romancing the Duke. Tessa Dare cited 2 trending hashtags in the Philippines: #mayforever (there's a forever) to describe Izzy and #walangforever (there's no forever) to describe Ransom. She also talked about her upcoming book, When a Scot Ties a Knot, which comes out this August, and I could sense the excitement and anticipation of my fellow fans as Tessa went on to narrate the really fun premise of the third book in her Castles Ever After series.

Fans were able to ask Tessa some questions as well:
- how did she pick her pseudonym? (Fun Fact #1: She was almost Tessa Darcy)
- the idea of Regency LARPing, and how people during that period actually did have mock battles and large-scale role playing
- how does she stay faithful to the period, but still have a more contemporary feel?
- personal quirks: writing rituals, favorite pens, music she listens to while writing, etc. (Fun Fact #2: Tessa loves blue ink, doesn't like spiral notebooks because she is left-handed, and sometimes writes in longhand before transferring them to her computer.)
- does she have a say on cover design?

There were three moments during the talk that left a deep impression on me:
1. When Tessa said, "There are as many love stories as there are couples in the world."

I have read several times on the blogosphere that the romance novel is dead. That a sub-genre of romance is dead (paranormal, historical, etc) -- that there isn't anything new. That everything reads and sounds the same. I loved how certain and confident Tessa Dare sounded, and how true it is -- as a long-time reader, I am amazed by the creativity and insight and freshness that each new story offers. I've often said that romance is a tricky genre to write because there are fixed parameters (hero + heroine + obstacle + happy ending) -- but our beloved romance writers have proven time and time again the boundlessness of the genre.

2. "My goal is to make the reader laugh, cry, sigh and blush."

3. As I was lining up to have my book signed, I was able to chat with a few people ahead of me -- and the first thing we all said was, "I didn't know there were so many Tessa Dare fans here." --

It's this last one that really made my heart "sigh" (to borrow Tessa's words) -- just by being here, Tessa has made us realise that we aren't solitary in our love for romance novels. That we are many, and as diverse (and as quirky) as the characters she has created in her beautiful stories.

Thank you, Tessa Dare (and her wonderful family) for taking the time to meet and talk to all of us. Thank you National Bookstore and Powerbooks for believing in the genre, and for trusting the fans.

It's been a few days, but, every time someone asks me how the event went, I really break out in a giggle and can't stop gushing. =^_^=

Final fun fact: More than 40 people turned out for the event and Tessa signed more than a hundred books. (Some people bought the entire series that were on display and had them signed. I saw some get multiple copies and had planned to give them to friends. All in all, as a fan and advocate of historical romances, this was a wonderful, wonderful thing to see.)

Almost my turn.  Not sure if I was going to pass out or cry, or do both.
And then she hugged me, and all was right in the world.

* * *

What I gave Tessa --

Last summer, I attended an introductory workshop on Letter Art and our facilitator was the very young, and very talented Denise Silva. I asked her to copy out the letter that Izzy received informing her of the castle she inherited.

When Denise showed me the work, I got so excited! It turned out sooooo beautifully, don't you think?

Find Denise (and her works) on:
Friday, June 26, 2015

ARC Review: The Beautiful One by Emily Greenwood

Click here to pre-order the book on Amazon, release date: June 2, 2015
Click here to pre-order the paperback at The Book Depository

Anna Black has had her image stolen from her, and the villain wants more. Her trust and privacy betrayed, Anna is now hiding under a different name and identity, hoping to shake off the men who are pursuing her. The Beautiful One is a painting of Anna, that she had neither willingly posed for or known about -- until it was presented to her by the Marquess of Henshaw, who plans to showcase the painting and reveal Anna's identity during his annual ball. But the painting is not complete, and Henshaw wants Anna back. Anna has hidden herself safely at Rosewood, a finishing school and she'd been content with her life -- until she was tasked to accompany a student back to her guardian.

Anna had hoped to deliver the student and then quickly return to Rosewood, but the situation proves to be more complicated: the Viscount Grandville is still grieving over the death of his wife, and wants to be left alone. Lizzie is his late wife's niece, and the daughter of Will's best friend. He had thought he could keep the girl at arms length by sending her away to school and paying for her bills, but Lizzy has a different plan for herself. Unhappy with Rosewood, she planned a rendezvous with a gentleman, knowing that she would be caught and then expelled. She had hoped her uncle would allow her to stay with him -- but his response wasn't what she had expected.

Anna has to serve as mediator between uncle and niece, and finds herself getting slowly and more deeply involved with both her ward, and her ward's guardian. With the unveiling of The Beautiful One drawing ever closer, Anna realises just how much she stands to lose if she doesn't act quickly.

My favourite aspect of this book is that Emily Greenwood decided to take a different approach to her heroine's problem -- indirectly. Like the Sword of Damocles, the threat of Anna's identity revealed (and ruined) loomed menacingly over her, Instead of focusing on the pursuit/chase and the thwarting of the villain, the author decided to show that Anna had other problems (and the other aspects of her life) to consider as well -- making the threat a shadow that followed Anna. I think it added to the suspensefulness of the story: When would Will discover Anna's true identity? When would The Beautiful One be unveiled? What will happen next?

In the meantime, life went on. Emily Greenwood weaves a complex domestic drama:

Lizzie is Will's niece by marriage. It's difficult for Will to have Lizzie in his house, a constant reminder of his beloved wife. Will can't help his attraction and fascination for Anna, and vice versa. Anna tries to maintain a respectful distance between her and Will, because of her secret and out of respect for Will's late wife, who is portrayed as a paragon. Then Will's stepmother, Judith, and Will's brother, Tommy, enter the picture.

I thought the author was planning to pursue a secondary love story between Tommy and Lizzie, because their initial meeting had sparks -- but it doesn't seem to be the case. Which leads me to one of the few problems in the story:

***** SPOILER ALERT *****
***** SPOILER ALERT *****
***** SPOILER ALERT *****
***** SPOILER ALERT *****
***** SPOILER ALERT *****

Lizzie overhears a conversation between Will and his brother, and it devastates her. This scene scream for a confrontation between Lizzie and Tommy, but it never happens. There is a resolution to this particular issue, but it seemed vague -- I'm not sure if there was an apology, but I'm certain there was no forgiveness. I don't know if this is something the author plans to develop in future stories, but this felt a bit lacking in this particular story.

Lizzie confused me, actually. And I think I'm meant to be confused. She is 17, and an orphan. Her closest living relative is a man who doesn't want her, so I understand her outrageous behaviour, but there doesn't seem to be anything consistent about her. (Except her desire to go back to Malta.) Does she have hidden depths, and only pretending to be vapid and shallow? What is it that she truly wishes to happen? I ask these questions because I wondered about her behaviour in some chapters of the book. (When she dressed and acted seductively. When, in anger, she broke that part of one of Will's statues. Etc. We know there's brokenness within her, but I'm trying to figure out what is her motivation.)

With the generous allowance she began receiving from her uncle, she'd buried her grief under mounds of pretty clothes, the kinds of things a poor churchman's daughter would never have owned. And she'd set herself learning every bit of the reviled deportment. The girls at Rosewood didn't laugh at her anymore, but by then she hadn't wanted their shallow friendship. Gentlemen were better.
- loc 403

***** END OF SPOILER *****

I was also a bit concerned about how the love story between Will and Anna was developing. I loved, loved, loved their initial meeting and was expecting the sort of sparky chemistry you see when grumpy meets sassy. I started wondering about Will during their second encounter -- Will isn't really a hero I could sympathise with. I was very surprised when he propositioned Anna (and believed she could be "bought" if the price was right.) I could not shake the feeling that he never saw Anna as anything more than ...

"Not for my ward," he said, wanting to stop himself from saying one more wicked word even as he gave in to the despair that told him nothing mattered anymore. "For me."

A pause as realisation dawned and color flooded her face. "I cannot believe you would propose such a thing."

Her breathing had quickened, and a distant part of his mind was shouting that he was a devil and he'd shocked her horribly. But he was unmoored from that man now. He reached up and put his palm against her cheek. Dear God, the soft warmth of a woman's skin, the give of her smooth flesh.

He read mutiny in her eyes as she pushed his hand away. "How dare you!"

"I'm willing to make it worth your while. You have the look of someone who would put a hundred pounds to good use."

His answer was a forceful slap that left his cheek burning, as alive to sensation now as the hand that had touched her.
- loc 288

On the other hand, I really appreciated how he saw through Anna's drabness and found Anna's beauty. I have to say that one aspect of Will that I really appreciated was his sense of responsibility to his family. He maintained a good relationship with his brother and their cousins, which is a contrast to Anna's own relationship with her father.

It's interesting to see how Anna never saw herself as beautiful -- her father was more interested in Anna's brain than her physical appearance, and Anna never had to worry or fuss about herself. I loved how she slowly came to the realisation of her full value -- not just her mind (her father). Not just her face and body (the Marquess of Henshaw). But her full being. Will is partly responsible for this, but I think Will's stepmother, Judith, and Lizzy also contributed to her awakening.

Her gown really did look like boiled dust. And for the first time, she cared.
- loc 1841

I'm trying to think of how to conclude this review. Did I like the book? Yes. While it wasn't without flaws, I could see the author's intentions and the story was resolved well. Anna, especially, was an interesting heroine and, perhaps, the greatest asset of this story. Of all the characters, hers was the most fully formed and most understandable.

The Beautiful One is book 1 of Emily Greenwood's new The Scandalous Sisters series, and releases on July 2, 2015. To find out more about Emily Greenwood and her books, click below:

Disclosure: I received this ARC through Netgalley. Thank you to Sourcebooks Casablanca and Emily Greenwood for the opportunity. Yes, this is an honest review.


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