Author Speed Dating – Katharine Ashe

I love discovering new authors, so I wanted my blog to be a place where readers and my author pals could come together. Only we like to do this Speed-Dating style. Check out a new author and her work here every Wednesday, and if the spark is there, you’ll have a match.

This week’s guest: Katharine Ashe




16 Questions

1. If you celebrate, name a holiday food you would eat your weight in if you could do it guilt-free.

Homemade ginger bread (with hot chocolate on the side!).

2. Give the title of the first manuscript you ever wrote. How many years ago did you pen this masterpiece, and whatever happened to it?

Teen Girl Lusts After Hot Landscaping Guy Who Turns Out to Be Heir to a Fortune. Seriously! I don’t remember the actual title, but that was the gist of it. Eventually I started writing historical romance, but I still write hot heroes with secret identities.

3. If you could keep only the possessions that would fit in one suitcase, and you were limited to two books – one you wrote and one by someone else – which titles would you tuck inside your bag? Explain your choices.

I CAN’T!!! I love too many books to choose one, so here’s my latest favorite, which I found doing research for my next novel: THE LOVE OF STRANGERS: WHAT SIX MUSLIMS STUDENTS LEARNED IN JANE AUSTEN’S LONDON by Nile Green. It’s a look at English Regency-era history that most of us lovers of historical romance have never seen, and it’s all about friendship and love. I adored it. Among my novels, I would tuck THE EARL  in the suitcase. Enemies from childhood, the hero and heroine are fleeing together through the Scottish countryside from an angry mob, and they have turn to each other for survival. I adored writing how the scales fell from their eyes as they learned and grew and fell in love. And it makes me laugh.

4. In the winter, would you rather be zipping through powdery snow on skis or a snowmobile or escaping to a sandy beach? Now how do you really spend most of your winter?

Always the beach! But I love snow too. 🙂 My fave winter treat is curling up on the couch before a crackling fire and reading or writing.

5. Which character in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is your favorite, and what does that say about you?

Rudolph! I’ve never really fit in. That said, I have yet to pull a sleigh — but, you know, I’m hopeful someday… 😉

6. In which genres and sub-genres are you published, and which others do you plan to add to the list in the next two years?

I mostly write big, epic, emotional love stories set in the early nineteenth-century British Empire. I’ve written a time-travel novella, a Regency ghost novel, and a contemporary novella too, and I have a series set in the Regency period with a special fantasy twist to each novel.

7. If you could visit the studio and hang out with any visual artist, past or present, whose creative space would you be invading? Why?

Oh oh oh, please!!! Sir Thomas Lawrence, the brilliant British portrait artist. The hero I’m writing now (in THE PRINCE) is a portraitist, and I’ve modeled his style on Lawrence’s.

8. Do you listen to music when you’re writing? If so, name some of the artists whose work you use to get you creative juices flowing.

Not usually while I’m writing. But for each book I do make a playlist—my own personal soundtracks that inspire characters and scenes, and that I play when I’m driving, walking the dog, running, or doing errands. Depending on the novel, the music runs the gamut from Taylor Swift and Avril Lavigne to The Heyday and Breaking Benjamin. The soundtrack for my latest novel, THE DUKE, includes a lot of Scottish traditional music and epic movie soundtracks.

9. What are you reading now, and what is the best book you’ve read in a long time?

Today I read two fascinating history articles: one on Mary Shelley’s revolutionary novels and the other on medieval smugglers between Spain and North Africa—and both of them gave me ten different ideas for novels! I love history. It’s full of fantastic story ideas. 🙂 For best book, see #3 above. And I also just read Kate Claybourn’s debut contemporary romance BEGINNER’S LUCK, which was pure adorable small town pleasure.

10. What is your strategy for writing over the holidays?

Revise revise revise! I have a January 2nd book deadline. 🙂

11. Name three things that are in your purse or pockets right now.

A Sharpie pen (for signing books), a little notebook bound in Black Watch tartan, and a tiny Advent daily prayer book.

12. Do you write a synopsis before you write a book, and, if so, does your finished product look anything like that road map?

I don’t write a synopsis. I usually plot on a big whiteboard (using Alexandra Sokoloff’s totally brilliant system). Sometimes the novel even comes out looking like what’s on the whiteboard! 🙂

13. Are you a fan of reality TV, or could the current Bachelor marry every contestant on Cake Boss and then sing his lungs out on The Voice for all you care?

Binge watcher here. I tend to like historical mysteries, love stories, light modern comedy, and Superhero® shows. So, not a reality TV fan, but I never say never. 🙂

14. What is your biggest dream for your writing career? The New York Times bestseller list? A movie deal? Your own island in the Caribbean? All of the above?

Honestly, to make enough money each year to be able to keep doing this for a living. I simply adore writing love stories and sharing them. That’s my dream. (Although, you know, an amazing sports car and a neat little flat in—say—Verona, Italy, would be swell too.)

15. What is your biggest hope for a reader when she opens one of your books?

That she will laugh and sigh and cry and fall in love and read the final page with a big happy smile of pure joy and satisfaction.

16. Are you more a Times Square-ringing-in-the-New Year-type on New Year’s Eve, or will we find you at home, tucked into bed by nine o’clock?

Tucked in bed (after eating every flaky pastry appetizer available in my grocery store freezer section, natch).




The Duke

By Katharine Ashe


“You do not frighten me.” She snipped the syllables to hide the quaver.

His gaze that was black in the dim light scanned her face—her cheeks and hair and lips and chin.

“Then you are unique among women,” he rumbled. “Now remove that key from your bodice and open the door.”

“Why won’t you speak with me?” This was frankly terrifying. She had not anticipated this or planned for any scenario like this. She had imagined that when she finally cornered him he would act like a regular person and converse. Unwisely, she realized belatedly. He had never been anything like a regular person, after all.

“Five and a half years, yet not even a little small talk?” she said. “Come now. Let us give it a try. I will start. I hear you have become a duke. And an abductor of innocent maidens. And possibly a practitioner of the dark arts. How do you find all of that?”

“Lass.” The word was a warning shift of tectonic plates. “Open the door now or I’ll be taking that key.”

“You cannot deter me, Urisk.” Now her words quivered quite obviously. “Either you will sit down here now and answer my questions until I have asked them all, or you will in fact be obliged to take the key from me.”

In the darkness, the gleam in his eyes was like a knife’s blade.

“As you wish,” he said as though he whispered in her ear.

Her heart slammed into her lungs.

His hand surrounded her hip.

She gasped.

He was not smiling. Large and strong, his five fingers and broad palm took complete possession of her flesh.

“The key now,” he said very deeply. His fingers moved on her. Not painfully. Rather, stroking, kneading as though she were bread dough.

She swallowed over the shock clogging her throat.

“No,” she croaked.

He bent his head and in the murky silence in which the gay music of the ball was only a distant echo, she could hear his breathing, each inhale and exhale a perfectly controlled statement of composure.

“You are certain?” he said as calmly as though he were asking if she preferred tea to coffee.


His hand slid up her side and wrapped around her waist.

“What are you doing?” she rasped.

His thumb stroked along the ridge of her lowest rib and a cascade of pleasure descended.

“Getting closer to that key,” he said.


THE DUKE, a Devil’s Duke novel and a September 2017 release from Avon Romance, may be purchased from these and other retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million.


About Katharine

Katharine Ashe is the USA Today bestselling author of historical romances that reviewers call “intensely lush” and “sensationally intelligent,” including her latest novel, THE DUKE, which won starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and Kirkus, and an RT Book Reviews Top Pick!, and is on Amazon’s list of the Best Romances of 2017. Katharine lives in the wonderfully warm Southeast with her beloved husband, son, dog, and a garden she likes to call romantic rather than unkempt. A professor of history, she writes romance because she thinks modern readers deserve grand adventures and breathtaking sensuality too. For more about Katharine’s books, please visit

Katharine is also Dr. Katharine Brophy Dubois, Lecturing Fellow in the departments of History and Religious Studies at Duke University where she teaches courses on history and popular culture, and organizes the UNSUITABLE Speakers Series about women, fiction and popular culture.


A Note From Katharine

Thanks for inviting me to speed date, Dana! Happy New Year’s, everybody! xoxo

Author Speed Dating – Lenora Bell

I love discovering new authors, so I wanted my blog to be a place where readers and my author pals could come together. Only we like to do this Speed-Dating style. Check out a new author and her work here every Wednesday, and if the spark is there, you’ll have a match. 

This week’s guest: Lenora Bell



15 Questions

1. If you had the chance for front-row tickets AND backstage passes with any band, past or present, which one would you be jamming with? Explain your choice.

Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings – I’m an alt-country girl at heart and their music is so hauntingly poetic and heartfelt.

2. What is the one thing you wish someone else had told you before you published your first book?

Don’t sweat the Goodreads reviews. Seriously – I stopped reading them because my mood would swing with the good and the bad opinions. So I just stopped. I have enough critical voices in my own head.

3. Keith Urban or Adam Levine?

I steer more country than pop, though I do like a man with lots of tattoos, and I’ve been known to have the moves like Jagger while I’m vacuuming.

4. What are your go-to meals for the final week before deadline?

Um, meals? More like grabbing fistfuls of chips and chocolate and washing it all down with wine.

5. Give the title of the first manuscript (published or unpublished) you ever wrote. What was the story about?

I honestly can’t remember the title of my first manuscript, but here’s the elevator pitch: A bad boy opium trader falls for a missionary’s daughter in Victorian-era Shanghai.

6. Books by George Orwell or Kristin Hannah?

I’m going with Orwell. Very relevant for the uncertain times we live in.

7. At which time of day are you more productive as a writer, mornings or nights, and is caffeine a friend or foe?

I’m a night owl and my favorite time to write is after 10pm. Coffee is my BFF, the stronger the better.

8. Which WIZARD OF OZ character were you most like during your junior high years?

I’m going to have to go with Dorothy since I played her in a grade school production of the Wizard of Oz. My family dog, a miniature schnauzer named Pepper, portrayed Toto, to great critical acclaim.

9.  In addition to writing, what are your other outlets for your creativity?

My husband and I are musicians and we like to sing and play instruments together. We’re always hunting for country/rock/jazz/blues on vinyl, and our record collection is getting out of control.

10. What type of shopper are you: mall rat, online shopper, bargain sleuth, or none of the above?

I navigate every city I visit by the location of the thrift and vintage stores because I love hunting for treasures.

11. Have you ever experienced misgivings as an author, and, if so, what are some of the ways you’ve tried to keep those feelings at bay?

I experienced the dreaded second book syndrome. I felt like the book would never get written, would never be good enough, and I’d have to give up writing. I dedicated the book “To all the girls who doubt themselves” because that’s exactly what I was doing. What helped me get through that dark time was the advice of fellow authors who had been through it themselves, and the book BIG MAGIC by Elizabeth Gilbert.

12. Scandal or Pawn Stars?

Marvel’s The Defenders.

13. How many books have you published, and how many are still tucked in a drawer somewhere?

I’ve published a three-book series, and I have at least four half-finished books and two novellas languishing on my hard drive.

14. What was the most challenging revision you ever had to make in a manuscript?

Book two of my debut series was challenging all around. I had to completely rewrite it twice. Thank heavens my editor, Amanda Bergeron, was so very patient and brilliant. I never would have made it through without her.

15. Sure, it’s like picking a favorite child, but which one or two of your titles do you secretly love just a little more?

My debut novel featured a strong heroine who knew jujitsu and had a tattoo. Not your garden variety Regency heroine, and probably always my favorite.


Blame It on the Duke

By Lenora Bell



“What are you thinking about, Miss Tombs?” Lord Hatherly asked in a deep, sonorous voice that harbored a rumble of amusement.

Alice startled, blushing even harder. “Nothing. Nothing at all.” She struggled to calm her rapid breathing.

Regain your composure this instant, Alice Perpetua Felicity Tombs, she admonished sternly. You don’t want to bed him, you want to bedevil him. Inspire him to leave and never come back.

She was immune to his particular type of decadence. Well, wasn’t she? She risked a sideways glance. No one should have a jaw so chiseled or eyes so silver. It made her almost angry how handsome he was.

His appearance is the only agreeable thing about him, and he can’t take credit for what God gave him. Be rid of him quickly and thoroughly.

She must marshal her thoughts to order. Lead the charge. Hunt the hunter.

“Now then, Dimples,” he said. “Why don’t you tell me the real reason you don’t wish to marry.”

Had he just called her Dimples?

He was definitely going down in flames.



BLAME IT ON THE DUKE, Book #3 in the Disgraceful Dukes series and an April 2017 release from Avon Books, may be purchased through these and other retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million and Harper Collins.


About Lenora

Lenora Bell grew up in a small Alaskan town by the ocean that still has no traffic lights or fast food. An English teacher with an MFA in Creative Writing, she travels the globe using music to bring smiles to classrooms. She currently lives in the Midwest with her carpenter husband and two naughty tiger-striped kitties. In 2014, she won the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart Award for Best Historical, and her first Regency romance was published by Avon Books in 2016. Stay in touch with Lenora through her website,, or through these social-media channels: Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
















Author Speed Dating – Shelly Bell

Author Speed Dating(1)

I love discovering new authors, so I wanted my blog to be a place where readers and my author pals could come together. Only we like to do this Speed-Dating style. Check out a new author and her work here every Wednesday, and if the spark is there, you’ll have a match.

This week’s guest: Shelly Bell


Shelly Bell Author Photo







15 Questions

1. Which of the Peanuts girls – Lucy, Sally, Peppermint Patty or Marcie – would be your best friend if you were added as a character on the comic strip?

Growing up, I was definitely the Marci to the Peppermint Patty. But now that I’m older, I’d want Sally as my best friend. She’s optimistic, sweet, and a romantic.

2. Name a genre or sub-genre have you never written in but would like to.

I’d been planning on writing a straight suspense novel, but it has two romances running through it, so now, I’m not sure what it’s going to be. All I know is I’ve never written anything like it before.

3. When did you first decide you were a writer, and when was your first book published?

My first book was published in 2012, but I’m not sure I’ve accepted that I’m a writer yet. No matter how many books I write, I still feel like a fraud.

4. Jeopardy or Real Housewives of Orange County?

I haven’t watched Jeopardy in years, but I’ve never even seen any of the Real Housewives. These days, I don’t get a lot of time to watch television.

5. Do you write the synopsis before or after you write the manuscript?

I always write a full chapter by chapter synopsis before I write a manuscript. Then it changes as I write. But I need a road map, especially for my erotic-suspense novels.

6. Sam Elliot or Robert Downey, Jr.?

I do love Sam Elliott, but I’ve got a huge crush on Tony Stark. Who doesn’t love a billionaire techie superhero?

7. Describe a character from one of your books who is most like or most radically different from your significant other.

Um…I’d have to say all of the heroes from my Benediction series. My husband is a beta all the way.

8. “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” or “The Great Gatsby”? Book or movie version, your choice.

The Great Gatsby, both book and movie (the original). Robert Redford as Gatsby? Sigh. I still have a crush on Redford today because of that movie and “The Way We Were”.

9. What has been your proudest moment as an author?

Finding out that I had two offers for my upcoming Forbidden Lovers series and having to choose between them. It was also one of the most difficult decisions I’ve made as an author.

10. How important is social media to you in your writing career?

I wouldn’t have a career without it. Not that I’m great about posting. But it’s been a great way to connect with readers.

11. What kind of snacker are you? Potato chips and ice cream or kale chips and edamame?

I’m an iced coffee with almond milk and popcorn kind of snacker. Kale and edamame does not belong in the snack category.

12. What are the hardest and easiest part for you as you write a book?

The hardest? The words. The easiest? Writing “The End.” Every part of it is difficult. But worth it.

13. Adele or The Rolling Stones?

The Rolling Stones. Hands down. I find myself singing “Jumping Jack Flash” and “Honkey Tonk Woman” at random times. Love them.

14. What is the best piece of advice you can offer to a new writer, particularly one you wish someone gave to you when you were getting started?

Don’t be in a rush to publish. Know both the market and craft before you query or hit publish.

15. If you could travel anywhere in the world, free of charge, where would you be booking your next vacation?

I would go to England, Ireland, and Scotland. My friend lives in England, and ever since reading Nora Roberts’ Irish Born Trilogy, I’ve wanted to visit Ireland. Now I just need several thousand dollars and time.


red handed high res






Red Handed

By Shelly Bell



It had been years since she’d heard that voice, and despite it belonging to her dangerous adversary, her body reacted exactly the same. As if he’d placed his hands on her skin and caressed her naked flesh, not sparing an inch.

Adrian motioned with a wave of his arm for her to enter first. Somehow, she managed to put one foot in front of the other until she stood inside Cole DeMarco’s lair. Its chocolate walls, the walnut furniture, and the flickering flames coming from the fireplace gave the first impression of a homey, comfortable room similar to her father’s before the FBI had raided it and cleaned it bare.

Her gaze fell on the man who’d haunted her in dreams and tormented her in nightmares. He didn’t get up to greet her. Didn’t welcome her with a smile.

From behind his desk, he sat tall in his chair, his muscular, tattooed arms folded in front of him. His brown eyes narrowed, and he scowled at her.

Her swallow caught in her throat. What could she possibly have done to anger him? She’d only just arrived. Besides, she never elicited a strong reaction out of anyone. She usually faded into the shadows.

His simple black T-shirt stretched tight over a broad chest, each inhalation giving her a glimpse of the muscles underneath. He’d shaved his head clean and grown a short goatee, hiding the dimple in his chin she’d adored from afar as a teenager. He looked even better than she’d remembered and every bit as dangerous.


RED HANDED,  a Benediction Novel from Avon Red Impulse, may be purchased from these retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million and iBooks.


About Shelly

A sucker for a happy ending, Shelly Bell writes sensual romance often with a bit of kink and action-filled erotic thrillers with high-emotional stakes for her alpha heroes and kick-ass heroines. She began writing upon the insistence of her husband, who dragged her to the store and bought her a laptop. When she’s not working her day job, taking care of her family or writing, you’ll find her reading the latest smutty romance.

Connect with Shelly through her website, email or these social media channels: her Amazon Author Page, Facebook Author Page and Twitter.