Thursday, December 14, 2017

Exclusive Sneak Peek: The Wake Up by Catherine Ryan Hyde + Giveaway (US only)

The Wake Up
Catherine Ryan Hyde
from Lake Union // Amazon

From New York Times-bestselling author Catherine Ryan Hyde comes a hauntingly emotional novel of how one man’s life changes forever when he rediscovers his ability to feel the pain of others.

Something has been asleep in forty-year-old cattle rancher Aiden Delacorte for a long time. It all comes back in a rush during a hunting trip, when he’s suddenly attuned to the animals around him, feeling their pain and fear as if it were his own. But the newfound sensitivity of Aiden’s “wake up” has its price. He can no longer sleepwalk through life, holding everyone at arm’s length. As he struggles to cope with a trait he’s buried since childhood, Aiden falls in love with Gwen, a single mother whose young son bears a burden of his own.

Sullen and broken from his experiences with an abusive father, Milo has turned to acting out in violent and rebellious ways. Aiden can feel the boy’s pain, as well as that of his victims. Now he and Milo must sift through their pasts to find empathy with the innocent as well as the guilty, to come to terms with their deepest fears, and to finally discover the compassionate heart of a family.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Interview with Maggie McConnon, Author of Bel, Book, and Scandal + Giveaway (US/Can)

I'd like to welcome Maggie McConnon to the blog today to celebrate the exciting release of Bel, Book, and Scandal from St. Martin's Press!

Welcome to Books à la Mode, Maggie! Let's get this interview started.

Will you please share a brief introduction with us?

Maggie McConnon grew up in New York immersed in Irish culture and tradition. A former Irish stepdancer, she was surrounded by a family of Irish musicians who still play at family gatherings. She credits her Irish grandparents with providing the stories of their homeland and their extended families as the basis for the stories she tells in her Belfast McGrath novels.

It's amazing to get to feature you today! Readers, here's a bit about the book, which just hit shelves last week:

Maggie McConnon rings in Christmas in Bel, Book, and Scandal, the third adventure for everybody’s favorite Irish-American culinary artist turned amateur sleuth.

Bel McGrath tries her best to keep herself on the straight and narrow but she just has a taste for trouble. This time danger arrives in the form of a newspaper left behind by visitors to Shamrock Manor—and a photograph that jolts Bel out of the present and back into a dark chapter from her past. The person in the photo is Bel’s best friend Amy Mitchell, long gone from Foster’s Landing, at a commune in upstate New York shortly after her disappearance. The picture, and Bel’s burning desire to find out what happened to Amy—and whether she may still be alive—is the catalyst for a story in which old secrets are revealed, little by little…and certain characters are shown to not be as genuine as Bel once thought.

As a huge fan of first lines, I’d love to hear the first line of Bel, Book, and Scandal. Could you give us a brief commentary on it?
I was wet, cold, and tired, but despite the fact that she was ready to kill me with her bare hands for staying out all night, my mother addressed all three of my immediate needs before saying anything else.
This book starts with a flashback to a time when Bel was a teenager; it is the night her best friend disappeared from Foster’s Landing and was never seen again. The two other books in this series start as flashbacks as well; I wanted the reader to understand Bel’s motives as an adult, what shaped her thoughts and actions in present day. In Bel, Book, and Scandal, we pick up with Bel sitting in the local police department, awaiting word on Amy, not realizing that no one knows where Amy is and that she will be questioned as to her last moments with her best friend.

Tell us about your road to publication, such as how you first queried, unexpected challenges, and things you picked up along the way.

I used various web sites to track down agents, see how a query letter was written, and to research the process in general. I queried about twenty or so agents until I received word that my current agent wanted to represent me. That process took about a year. It was another year or so until we found a publisher. Not being a patient person, I found the process protracted and stressful but now that I have been doing this for a dozen or more years, I understand the timing better. I tell writers to be patient, keep at it, and never give up. The road to publication is long and bumpy—reading rejection letters isn’t for the faint of heart!—but if you keep working at it, you’ll reach your goal.

Are the characters from your book based off anyone you know in real life? How much else of your actual life gets written into your fiction?

There are no true McGraths in my real life. However, having grown up Irish in the New York area, there are definitely aspects of my childhood that come through: the Irish music, the storytelling, the big family dinners. I have always loved weddings so putting Bel back into the family business allows me to imagine the worst “bridezilla,” the most cold-footed groom. And being able to write about food makes my heart sing. If anything comes from real life into the Bel series, it’s the experimentation in the kitchen and the joy of researching a new, complicated recipe.

Out of all the fantastic books out there, what makes Bel, Book, and Scandal stand out from the rest?

I would have to say the characters. I think that the McGrath family (Bel’s brothers, her parents) are what round out the story and give it a bit of heart. I also think that anyone who grew up with siblings will recognize at least one person they know in one of Bel’s brothers, be it the responsible one or the one who continually gets into trouble, even as an adult.

Blog babes, click "Read more" to find out Maggie's best personal and professional advice. We're also hosting a giveaway for a finished copy of Bel, Book, and Scandal, so you don't want to miss that either!

Friday, December 8, 2017

Interview with Sandra Hill, Author of Cajun Crazy + Giveaway (US/Can)

I'd like to welcome Sandra Hill to the blog today to celebrate the exciting release of Cajun Crazy from Avon, a HarperCollins imprint!

Welcome to Books à la Mode, Sandra! Let's get this interview started.

Will you please share a brief introduction with us?

Sandra Hill is a graduate of Penn State and worked for more than 10 years as a features writer and education editor for publications in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Writing about serious issues taught her the merits of seeking the lighter side of even the darkest stories.

She is the wife of a stockbroker and the mother of four sons.

It's amazing to get to feature you today! Readers, here's a bit about the book, which just hit shelves last month:

Welcome back to New York Times bestseller Sandra Hill’s Cajun country, where love heats up the Louisiana bayou...

Former Chicago cop Simone LeDeux is back home in the bayou, sharing a double wide in the Pearly Gates trailer park to help her mama recover from surgery. Her one rule: no Cajun men. Loved and left by too many double-crossing Cajuns, Simone puts bad experience to good use by opening Legal Belles: an agency that uncovers cheating spouses.

Suddenly she’s confronting a two-timer about to swindle his wife out of millions and antagonizing New Orleans bigwigs over an illegal sex club. Adam Lanier learns of the dangerous game Simone is playing... and the sexy single dad comes to her aid. Known as a rogue in the courtroom and a player in the bedroom, the ragin’ Cajun has Simone triply on guard.

With their crazy chemistry, danger on their trail, and infamous LeDeux relative Tante Lulu working her magical matchmaking, the bayou has never been this steamy.

As a huge fan of first lines, I’d love to hear the first line of Cajun Crazy. Could you give us a brief commentary on it?

I'm usually a sucker for catchy first lines, too, but in the case of Cajun Crazy I prefer to quote the voicemail that my heroine, Simone LeDeux, gets from her mother in the opening scene:
"Hi, honey. I haven't heard from you since las' week. Did ya kick that no-good Jack Landry out on his cheatin' Cajun be-hind, lak I told you to?"
This excerpt is an important clue to what the book is about. Simone is a cop who decides to open a Cheaters-type detective agency. And she's decided, no more Cajun men in her life.

Tell us about your road to publication, such as how you first queried, unexpected challenges, and things you picked up along the way.

I like to say that I sold my first book by not winning a contest. One of the judges in a writing contest I entered was so appalled at my not winning or placing that she put me in touch with her agent who in turn sold my first book, The Reluctant Viking, as part of a three-book deal. Oddly, I started out writing straight historical romances, but about that time Constance O'Day Flannery wrote one of her first time-travels, and I thought, "I can do this!" Before that, I had no idea I had a voice for humor.

Are the characters from your book based off anyone you know in real life? How much else of your actual life gets written into your fiction?

Suffice it to say, someone asked me at a cocktail party one time (and, yes, people do ask questions like this), "Do you have the kind of sex life you describe in your books?"

My answer, "I wish!" Seriously, I don't know any humans who have that kind of sex life. Maybe some super virile Vikings, or Cajuns.

I do get many of the humor ideas from my husband and four sons who can be incredibly funny. In fact, I can't tell you how many times one of my sons has said or done something and then told me, "That better not end up in one of your books." My heroines are probably the kind of women I wish I could be; I would never dare do half of what they do. Stunt woman. Female Navy SEAL. Lawyer at Angola Prison. Treasure hunter. Enough said!

Out of all the fantastic books out there, what makes Cajun Crazy stand out from the rest?

It's one of the funniest books I've written, in my opinion. A heroine who's been married and divorced three times, who vows to stay clear of any more tempting Cajun men, but then runs into a rogue lawyer, who is the ultimate player in the courtroom as well as the bedroom and happens to be Cajun. Add to that a wacky mother who's discovered her inner Kardashian and a fondness for Spanx. Not to mention the outrageous Tante Lulu.

Blog babes, click "Read more" to find out Sandra's best personal and professional advice. We're also hosting a giveaway for a finished copy of Cajun Crazy, so you don't want to miss that either!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Exclusive Sneak Peek: The Lady Travelers Guide to Larceny with a Dashing Stranger by Victoria Alexander + Giveaway (US

The Lady Travelers Guide to Larceny with a Dashing Stranger (The Lady Travelers Society #2)
Victoria Alexander
from Harlequin

Join the Lady Travelers Society in their latest romantic misadventure, from #1 New York Times bestselling author Victoria Alexander

She must secure her future

A lady should never be obliged to think of matters financial! But when Lady Wilhelmina Bascombe’s carefree, extravagant lifestyle vanishes with the demise of her husband, her only hope lies in retrieving a family treasure—a Renaissance masterpiece currently in the hands of a cunning art collector in Venice. Thankfully, the Lady Travelers Society has orchestrated a clever plan to get Willie to Europe, leading a tour of mothers and daughters…and one curiously attentive man.

He must reclaim his heritage

Dante Augustus Montague’s one passion has long been his family’s art collection. He’s finally tracked a long-lost painting to the enchanting Lady Bascombe. Convinced that the canvas had been stolen, he will use any means to reclaim his birthright—including deception. But how long before pretend infatuation gives way to genuine desire?

Now they’re rivals for a prize that will change everything

Willie and Dante know they’re playing with fire in the magical moonlit city. Their common quest could compromise them both... or lead them to happily-ever-after.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Exclusive Sneak Peek: Close Contact by Lori Foster + Body Armor Series Giveaway (US/Can)

Close Contact (Body Armor #3)
Lori Foster
from Harlequin

There’s no resisting a desire like this...

MMA fighter Miles Dartman’s casual arrangement with personal shopper Maxi Nevar would be many men’s fantasy. She seeks him out, they have mindblowing sex, she leaves. Rinse, repeat. Yet lately, Miles wants more. And when Maxi requests his services via the Body Armor security agency, he’s ready to finally break through her defenses—and protect her day and night.

Receiving a large inheritance has brought chaos and uncertainty into Maxi’s life. Her ex has resurfaced, along with lots of former “friends,” and someone is making mysterious threats. Then there’s Miles, who doesn’t ask for anything…except her trust. Pleasure is easy. Now Maxi has to give her heart as well as her body…or risk losing a man who could be everything she needs.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Top 5 Fun Facts About Christmastime Cowboy by Maisey Yates + Giveaway (US/Can)

Christmastime Cowboy (Copper Ridge #10)
Maisey Yates
from HQN Books // Harlequin

It's Christmas in Copper Ridge, and love is waiting to be unwrapped...

Falling for a bad boy once is forgivable. Twice would just be foolish. When Sabrina Leighton first offered her teenage innocence to gorgeous, tattooed Liam Donnelly, he humiliated her, then left town. The hurt still lingers. But so does that crazy spark. And if they have to work together to set up her family winery's new tasting room by Christmas, why not work him out of her system with a sizzling affair?

Thirteen years ago, Liam's boss at the winery offered him a bribe—leave his teenage daughter alone and get a full ride at college. Convinced he wasn't good enough for Sabrina, Liam took it. Now he's back, as wealthy as sin and with a heart as cold as the Oregon snow. Or so he keeps telling himself. Because the girl he vowed to stay away from has become the only woman he needs, and this Christmas could be just the beginning of a lifetime together...

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Top 10 Secrets About Little Broken Things by Nicole Baart + Giveaway (US only)

Little Broken Things
Nicole Baart
from Atria Books (Simon & Schuster)

An engrossing and suspenseful novel for fans of Liane Moriarty and Amy Hatvany about an affluent suburban family whose carefully constructed facade starts to come apart with the unexpected arrival of an endangered young girl.

I have something for you. When Quinn Cruz receives that cryptic text message from her older sister Nora, she doesn’t think much of it. They haven’t seen each other in nearly a year and thanks to Nora’s fierce aloofness, their relationship consists mostly of infrequent phone calls and an occasional email or text. But when a haunted Nora shows up at the lake near Quinn's house just hours later, a chain reaction is set into motion that will change both of their lives forever.

Nora’s “something” is more shocking than Quinn could have ever imagined: a little girl, cowering, wide-eyed, and tight-lipped. Nora hands her over to Quinn with instructions to keep her safe, and not to utter a word about the child to anyone, especially not their buttoned-up mother who seems determined to pretend everything is perfect. But before Quinn can ask even one of the million questions swirling around her head, Nora disappears, and Quinn finds herself the unlikely caretaker of a girl introduced simply as Lucy.

While Quinn struggles to honor her sister’s desperate request and care for the lost, scared Lucy, she fears that Nora may have gotten involved in something way over her head—something that will threaten them all. But Quinn’s worries are nothing compared to the firestorm that Nora is facing. It’s a matter of life and death, of family and freedom, and ultimately, about the lengths a woman will go to protect the ones she loves.