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The Dressmaker’s Duke by Jess Russell

The Dressmaker’s Duke will be on sale for $0.99 from February 20th – March 6th

Jess Russell, the author of The Dressmaker’s Duke, is my special guest today. Take it away Jess!I have always been a creative person. I love make things. Give me a power tool and I am a happy gal. I am also an award winning batik artist.


I am an actress, I stage apartments, I build and tile bathrooms, I made my own wedding dress

 Wedding Dress

You get the idea. :o)

Living in 1810, the year of The Dressmaker’s Duke, there were few opportunities for women other than marriage. And even then a woman was basically the property of her husband with very few rights.

I was drawn to writing about a heroine who is a dressmaker for the obvious creative reasons but also she could be more or less independent. Still, not an easy life; Clients often didn’t pay their bills, materials were expensive, ladies could be difficult to please. The list goes on.

I also wanted my heroine, Olivia Weston, to have lived some. She is 29 and a widow. She has seen some of the world and experienced heartache and loss. She knows what independence means and she will fight for hers. I admire that.

Olivia is also fiercely loyal to her best friend and business partner, Eglantine Wiggins. “Egg” as she is affectionately called, is Olivia’s only family. The women cling together through all their trials. I wanted to write about women who support themselves in spite of it being a “man’s” world.

Olivia chooses dressmaking rather than compromise herself. Of course, being fiction and a romance, there is a “knight in shining armor”, though my Duke is rather more of a gorgeous geek who has his darkness and flaws. Rhys finds Olivia isn’t so easily swept off her feet by his ducal mansion and endless wealth. He must work for this fiercely independent woman. In the Romance genre the Happily Ever After is a foregone conclusion, but how they get there is the fun!



Book Description:

Rhys Merrick, Duke of Roydan, is determined to be the antithesis of his depraved father, repressing his desires so severely he is dubbed “the Monk” by Society.  But when Olivia Weston turns up demanding payment for gowns ordered by his former mistress, Rhys is totally flummoxed and inexplicably smitten.  He pays her just to remove her from his house, and mind.  But logic be damned; he must have this fiercely independent woman.

Olivia’s greatest fear is becoming a kept woman.  She has escaped the role of mistress once and vows never to be owned by any man.  Rather than make money in the boudoir, she chooses to clothe the women who do.  But when a fire nearly kills her friend and business partner, Olivia’s world goes up in smoke and she is forced to barter with the lofty duke.

As their lives weave together, Olivia unravels the man underneath the Monk, while Rhys desires to expose the lady hiding behind the dressmaker. Will his raw passion fan a long-buried ember of hope within her? Can this mismatched pair be the perfect fit?


     “Could you move, please?”

     Was it her imagination, or was his voice higher than usual? Then what he actually said registered.


     “Yes. Could you move across the room? I find to judge a garment, or anything properly, one must see it in motion.” Her face must have been reflecting the horror she felt, for he hastened on, “You would not expect me to buy a horse simply by looking at its lines would you, Mrs. Weston? I would wish to see it run as well. I’m sure you understand.”

     Blast him and his bloody horses. She strode forward, happy to vent some of her anger in movement; however, she realized a split second too late there was nowhere to move. The receiving room was not large and was mostly taken up with the cutting table. The only area with any appreciable room was at the far end of the shop where the huge paneled mirrors stood. He was standing directly in the path that would be her best direction. Consequently, she found herself almost flush up against him.

     She knew he was tall. Any fool could see the man was at least two or more inches over six feet, but from this vantage point—directly beneath him—he was so very tall. She could smell the starch of his shirt mixed with a faint whiff of smoke and possibly brandy? She slid her gaze over the shirt and waistcoat to his cravat—a conservatively tied Oriental—to the firm, slightly cleft chin, moving on to the lips, very swiftly past those, and finally resting on his eyes. Pure molten gold. Yes, exactly like those of the Burmese tiger she had seen at a menagerie in Paris. His bearing was just as predatory.

     “It would appear, sir, in order for me to move, as you require, you will have to bestir yourself as well.”

     She thought she saw one side of his mouth shift ever so slightly upward into what might have been the merest twitch of a smile. She could not be one hundred percent sure because, to do so, she would have to look at his lips. The duke shifted his weight and made a small bow. Her shoulder brushed the superfine of his midnight blue jacket as she hurriedly squeezed past him.

     She strode almost to the mirrors before wheeling around and giving him what she hoped was an accusatory look.

     “Well, Your Grace. I hope you are satisfied”

     “Satisfied, Mrs. Weston?” He raised that infernal eyebrow. “Oh no, madam, I am very far from satisfied. However, I am hopeful I will be, in the not so distant future.” Again his gaze raked over her.  “Yes, I do live in hope.”


Jess Russell, Multi-Award Winning and Best-selling author!

As a girl Jess escaped the world of rigorous ballet class and hideous math homework into the haven of toe wriggling romance novels. She never imagined in her dyslexic brain she would ever come to write one, but one small scene grew into 359 pages, and contest wins, and multiple contract offers. Dreams sometimes do come true, just like the happy ending in the stories she loves.

Jess lives in New York City with her husband and son and disappears to the Catskill Mountains whenever she can. She is a sometime actress, award winning batik artist, and accomplished seamstress. Along with her sewing machine, she loves power tools and, what’s more, she knows how to use them.

Jess is currently working on revamping her Manhattan kitchen as well as writing two other stories, (working titles), Heart of Glass, and Mad for the Marquess. Please check them out in BOOKS.

Jess Russell is a member of RWA, as well as the Beau Monde and the NY chapters of RWA. THE DRESSMAKER’S DUKE came in first in the Fool for Love Contest, Golden Apple Awards’ Secret Craving Contest, the Indiana Golden Opportunity Contest and the Golden Rose Contest (also winning the best of the best). And finaled in the Great Beginnings, Emerald City Opener, and the Lone Star Contests.

Author Links:





Buy Links:


Barnes and Noble


Click the link below for a chance to win an autographed copy of

The Dressmaker’s Duke

Book Club

March Book Club Pick – Hunted by Elizabeth Heiter

I’m so excited to announce my first book club pick. Starting March 1st, I will be featuring Hunted by Elizabeth Heiter in the Paper Dreams Book Club.

Hunted is the first in Ms. Heiter’s Profiler series. The story takes the reader on an exciting ride with FBI criminal profiler, Evelyn Baine, as she tracks down a serial killer. (cue scary music)

Get a jump on reading by going to Amazon and purchase Hunted.

Come back in March when the fun really starts. Look for an interview with Ms. Heiter and an interview with the star of the book, Ms. Evelyn Baine. I will also have a giveaway for a lucky reader.

Follow the blog to make sure you don’t miss out.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoy the book!


Blog Hop – Sun vs Snow

Welcome to the Sun vs. Snow blog hop!

As part of the Sun vs. Snow contest, I am publishing a short pitch and first 250 words of my work in progress, True Horizon.

Side note- Check out my Paper Dreams book club post! Paper Dreams is a totally online book club. A new book each month. No getting out of your pajamas in order to participate!

Title- True Horizon

Genre- Contemporary Romance

Word Count- 73,000

Short Pitch-

Struggling with PTSD, a former soldier never thought he’d find something to live for. Until the woman he rescues from drowning makes it her mission to save him.

First 250 words-

Each loud firework explosion pushed Heath Carter’s cautious self-control closer to the edge. He blocked out the noise and focused on his surroundings. With every deep inhale and exhale, the rapid beat of his heart began to slow, warm air filled his lungs.  Looking down at his hands, he saw they were once again steady.  While he had attained the ability to control his rage, Heath knew it would never go away. It always kept company with the guilt and sorrow that would also rise up without warning.

He was safe, for now, in a cheap hotel room in Galveston….not in Afghanistan. In order to keep the panic from rising up again, Heath hit the volume button on his iPod and Highway to Hell blasted into his ears. “Fifty more,” he said, tucking his bare feet under the ugly floral chair, then laying his back down on a long towel set on the floor. Sweat dripped from his body as he flawlessly executed the sit-ups. “Duty…Honor…Country,” he repeated the chant, his body moving in rhythm with words from another life.

Finishing in an upright, seated position, Heath grabbed the towel thrown over the arm of the chair and wiped his face. The air conditioner unit that stuck precariously out of the wall started humming its death throes. His hotel room must be ninety degrees by now, but that discomfort was nothing compared to what awaited him if he opened the window to let in the cool night breeze.

Book Review


Book Cover - Kindar's Cure

Write from the Heart Review


by Michelle Hauck

Part of the MAKING CONNECTIONS Blog Tour

Don’t forget to click on the link at the end of this post for a chance to win a free copy of Kindar’s Cure!


Princess Kindar of Anost dreams of playing the hero and succeeding to her mother’s throne. But dreams are for fools. Reality involves two healthy sisters and a wasting disease of suffocating cough that’s killing her by inches. When her elder sister is murdered, the blame falls on Kindar, putting her head on the chopping block.

No one who survives eighteen years of choke lung lacks determination. A novice wizard, Maladonis Bin, approaches with a vision—a cure in a barren land of volcanic fumes. As choices go, a charming bootlicker that trips over his own feet isn’t the best option, but beggars can’t be choosers. Kindar escapes with Mal and several longtime attendants only to have her eyes opened that her country faces dark times. 

Her mother’s decision to close the prosperous mines spurs poverty and joblessness, inciting rebellion and opening Anost to foreign invasion. As Mal urges her toward a cure that will prove his visions, suddenly, an ally turns traitor, delivering Kindar to a rebel army, who have their own plans for a sickly princess.

With the killer poised to strike again, the rebels bearing down, and the country falling apart, she must weigh her personal hunt for a cure against saving her people.


*The reviewer was given a free copy of the book for an honest review.

Kindar is a princess, and she’s dying. When a wizard approaches her with a vision for a cure, it’s great news. But there’s a problem…she will have to slip out from under her cruel mother’s thumb and go on a dangerous quest to save her own life.

Kindar suffers from lung choke, a normally fatal disease that she has been fighting her entire life. It makes her appear weak, which in turn makes her feel unworthy. Her mother, the empress, has evil intentions toward her three daughters. These three daughters point to an omen, a promise of a savior, and mommy dearest doesn’t want to share power with any of her offspring. When Kindar’s comfortable palace world starts to unravel and a young wizard promises her a cure, she begins a journey that puts her on the path to becoming the woman her mother feared.

Along the way, Kindar must decide who to trust, whom she must fear, and what truly is most important.

I love a good fantasy story, to get swept away to mythical places and follow along on grand adventures. The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Game of Thrones series are some of my favorite books.

In Kindar’s Cure, I thought Michelle Hauck did an excellent job of bringing the reader into her world of fighting countries, double crossing wizards, magic, and an ancient omen.

.I liked this story. It was easy to get sucked into Kindar’s journey and appreciate the choices she had to make. It reminded me of The Game of Thrones in that it highlighted strong female characters and their struggle to obtain power. Their choices are often marked by deep devotion for their loved ones and the people they serve.

If you’re looking for a well rounded fantasy with strong female leads, definitely read Kindar’s Cure.


Michelle Hauck lives in the bustling metropolis of northern Indiana with her hubby and two teenagers. Besides working with special needs children by day, she writes all sorts of fantasy, giving her imagination free range. She is a co-host of the yearly query contests Query Kombat, Nightmare on Query Street, New Agent, PitchSlam, and Sun versus Snow. Her epic fantasy, Kindar’s Cure, was published by Divertir Publishing. She’s represented by Sarah Negovetich of Corvisiero Literary.


Twitter: @Michelle4Laughs

Blog: Michelle4Laughs: It’s in the Details

Facebook: Michelle Hauck, Author

Goodreads: Kindar’s Cure

Tumblr: Michelle4Laughs


Kindar’s Cure on Amazon Paperback

Kindar’s Cure on Amazon Ebook

Kindar’s Cure on Amazon UK

Kindar’s Cure on Barnes and Noble

Kindar’s Cure at The Book Depository

 Click on the link below for-

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Review – Falling for Leigh by Jennifer Snow


Write from the Heart Review

Falling for Leigh

by Jennifer Snow

All Logan Walters wants to do is finish his book. Is that too much to ask? He finds a nice bed and breakfast in the quiet town of Brookhollow to do just that. But he can’t think straight with the noisy children running up and down the hall and that incessant pounding coming from next door. Not being able to take the distraction, he marches over to ask the offender to cease her hammering.  After a brief conversation with the beautiful woman next door, he saves her from falling off her rickety ladder, then leaves with a broken wrist for his trouble.

Leigh Norris loves kids. So much so that she operates her own daycare. Having tried and failed to have children of her own, she gives love to the children she cares for. When the grumpy author from the B & B next door breaks his wrist while saving her from a fall, she offers to help Logan by typing the rest of his book.

These two have a rocky start. Logan is resentful that he needs help and Leigh has her own tender feelings with an ex-husband and his very pregnant wife. While Logan and Leigh work together, they start becoming more in sync. They both have the same goals…a family, but in order to achieve them, their lives would take them in different directions.

Logan’s needs to gain custody of his daughter or move out to California to live closer to her.  Leigh wants nothing more than to adopt a baby and raise him or her in Brookhollow.  

What I liked best about this story is that Logan and Leigh had to work for their relationship. It was complicated and sometimes messy with life’s problems. They had to make some tough decisions and the happily ever after did not come without some tears.

The infertility story line was especially touching. I really felt for Leigh and her struggle to come to terms with the fact she would not be able to carry a pregnancy to full term. Logan started as a self-absorbed writer but ended up as a swoon worthy hero.

I recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a strong romance with lots of heart!

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Romance Throwdown ARMY vs NAVY


The romance genre has had a long love affair with the military hero. Nothing beats a man in uniform. But who wears it better? And who makes a better Black Ops warrior in a romance story- Navy Seals or Army Special Forces? The various branches of the US military are notoriously competitive. Ask any Sailor, Marine, Airman, or Soldier, and they will insist that their branch is far superior. And when they’re forced to share the same space, like a base in Afghanistan, their competitive nature really is displayed.

When I started researching for my book, Home Field, I looked for first person accounts of military forces deployed to Afghanistan. I became drawn to the stories of Special Forces soldiers.

There were two books that I found extremely helpful in understanding the Special Forces soldier. First was Lions of Kandahar by Major Rusty Bradley. Second was Gentleman Bastards: On The Ground In Afghanistan by Kevin Maurer. Both books I found extremely enlightening. I learned the complex command structure of a SF A-Team, their specialize combat training, their selection process, the different specialties that make up each twelve man ODA, and their motto-DE OPPRESSO LIBER.

Special Forces are called the Quiet Professionals. Most go about their important work, not seeking fame or glory. They are trained to be peacekeepers and work with indigenous peoples to gain there cooperation and support. Instead of blowing things up, they work to hold things together.

Special Forces teams have been involved in the Black Hawk Down incident, the hunt of Saddam Hussein, and many other important missions around the globe.

So, can you see why I chose to represent Special Forces in both my books. Unfortunately, it’s the death of a SF soldier that is the catalyst for the events in Home Field. (Yes, I did feel really bad about killing him off) My second book, True Horizon, follows a SF veteran who is suffering from PTSD.

I know you can pick up hundreds of romance novels staring Navy Seals. The Navy Seals have earned their fierce reputation. It takes incredible courage and fortitude to make it through BUDS training.

But once I learned about what makes the Army SF so special, I wanted my story to highlight those brave men.

What’s your preference…Army or Navy? (or maybe one of each)

Book Club



Calling all who love to read and talk about books. With Paper Dreams Book Club, I hope to gather together a few good books and have some exciting discussions.

On February 15th, I will announce our first selection. Then, the group will have until March 31 to read the book. During the month of March, you may see an interview with the author, a guest host, giveaways and/or a chance for reader questions.

Readers are encouraged to comment, share their opinions, and answer the book club questions.

The next month, we’ll start the process again with the next selection.

What type of books will be featured? The short answer is…a little bit of everything, both fiction and non-fiction

Adult, New Adult, and Young Adult

Romance, Mystery, Crime Thriller, Fantasy, Women’ Lit

No Erotica or anything heavily sexual (think PG13)

The great thing about this book club is…if you don’t like the current month’s book selection, just skip it and join us next month.

Are you in???

If you would like to join me, please sign up to follow my blog or email me directly at


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I love chocolate. No, I really love chocolate. At work, there’s a drawer filled with those cute Dove bite size chocolate candies. Every afternoon, like clockwork, I come downstairs and grab one. It’s a guilt free way to make it through the rest of the work day.

This past summer, I entered my first story in the Harlequin Heartwarming Write from the Heart contest. This was the first time I had sent my work out to be critiqued by an industry professional, and I was nervous. While I was waiting to hear back if my story made it to the second round of the contest, I opened up a Dove chocolate and saw the message in the picture above – Believe in yourself.

Being plagued by self-doubt, this little chocolate inspiration really hit home. I tacked it to the wall of my work desk as a daily reminder. Believing in yourself costs nothing, but the payout can be huge.

Weeks later, I found out I had made it to the second round in the Write from the Heart contest. I ended up not winning, but I did get some valuable feedback from the Harlequin Heartwarming editors. That, in itself, was priceless.

That little piece of foil is still pinned to my desk. Along with various other fun items.

004               006             007

What are the little things you do to help feed the seed of belief in yourself?

In honor of my love of chocolate, I’m sharing a recipe for yummy Turtle Brownies.

  • 1 box German chocolate cake mix
  • 1 can (12oz) of Carnation milk
  • 3/4 cup melted butter
  • 1 pkg. Kraft caramels
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 pkg. (12oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips

In a bowl, combine cake mix, 1/2 cup Carnation milk, and 3/4 cup melted butter. Spread 1/2 mixture in a 9×13 inch greased pan. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes at 350 degrees.

Unwrap caramels and place in microwave safe bowl. Melt in microwave for 60 seconds. Add 1/3 cup of Carnation and mix well. Pour over baked dough, then sprinkle pecans evenly over melted caramels. Sprinkle chocolate chips over pecans. Spread remaining dough over the top and bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes longer.

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I love to read, almost any genre will do-Mystery, Romance, Horror, Young Adult…

And I’m always making up stories in my head, mostly Romance. Guess you could say I’m a daydreamer.

But things changed one morning when I woke up from a dream (PG rated) that featured a very famous pro-football linebacker (who shall remain nameless). I was left with a thread of a story line that wouldn’t go away, no matter how many times I played it over in my head. That dream also left me with a feeling of sadness and longing that I just couldn’t shake.


It’s hard to describe the drive that started to take over my mind. I had to write this romance story, even though I had no experience as a writer. I could barely help my 8th grade daughter with her English homework.

When I finally decided to write, I was afraid and insecure. What if my creation makes people laugh instead of swoon? But I swallowed my  fears and began.

First, I told others what I was going to do. My daughter was the first one to hear my story idea, and thankfully, she was encouraging. After that, I found it easier to talk about it with others.

Next, since part of my story dealt with the military, I needed to do research. I read several non-fiction books on the subjects that I would be dealing with in my story. I scribbled down tons of notes.

Finally, and this was the hardest part, I sat down and started spilling my heart onto a computer screen. I still had no idea where this idea would take me, but it didn’t matter. The journey had begun.

typewriter keys

What idea sparked you to become a writer? Have you ever felt a desire, that came totally out of the blue, to try something new?