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Big Myths That Should Be Dispelled About Romance Novels: a romance blogger post by multi-genre author Marie Lavender

Big Myths That Should Be Dispelled About Romance Novels

 

If you’re a fan of romance, then you’ve probably heard an insult or two regarding your favorite genre. And for those who don’t often gravitate towards romance for various reasons, now is the time to listen up and take this into consideration. You might be wrong about your assumptions! 😉 So, read on and learn more here…

I’ll list some myths that I’ve heard and read before.

  1. “It’s all smut.”

    freestocks.org, Unsplash

    Uggh…this word can annoy an avid romance reader. Some might think this myth is outdated, but there are people who still believe romance novels are smut, or trashy reads.

Bodice rippers went out of style by the mid-80s. The genre, as well as authors and readers, have evolved considerably. Erotica is a different subject matter entirely. Plus, bodice rippers promote rape culture, and most romance novels nowadays don’t even touch on that topic in a romantic relationship. With good reason, of course. Both sexual partners should be willing.

‘Mommy porn’ is also a derogative term which is used by certain parties in reference to romance books. Come on, not every romance author writes Fifty Shades-esque material, and readers are certainly not just mothers. Some are single, professional women. Romance readers are intelligent, capable people just as they are, and they’re not reading ‘smut’ or even ‘fluff’. It takes a lot of effort and smarts to digest a full romance novel (historical romance is heavy on time period description) – or in the case of fantasy and sci-fi romance, lots of world-building – in one sitting, and keep coming back for more.

Yuri Efremov, Unsplash

And no, we don’t just skip to the good parts! 🙄

  1. “Gross! I’m a guy. Men don’t read or write romance.”

Geez…get with the times! Men like to read romance too. ♥ For God’s sake, my reviewer for this blog is a guy. He adores reading romance books! And yes, he’s also a romance writer. I’ve also met a handful of other male authors who sometimes write in the romance genre.

There’s nothing wrong at all with dudes getting into romance reads, as writers or readers. More power to them! 😀

  1. “These books are so simple. 1+1 = 2, right? It’s not that difficult to understand.”

Actually, romance stories are complicated. It takes a hell of a lot more than just throwing two unique people next to each other, and then expecting fireworks. Life is full of ups and downs, a roller coaster journey, so to speak. Why wouldn’t a romance read have the same drama and tension?

Created by bearfotos- freepik.com

Authenticity is everything. Readers won’t care about characters or a story which isn’t relatable, or read something that couldn’t feasibly occur in reality. Even if the tale has fantastical elements, we have to believe in what’s happening, and see the reason why these characters are compatible.

Carly Rae Hobbins, Unsplash

  1. “Romance books are standard, or boring! Not for me…I need something that holds my attention.”

Really? With the constant evolution of multiple themes and sub-genres of romance, we’re not likely to run out of new ideas, nor are readers liable to call it quits any time soon. It’s one of the most popular book categories for a reason! 🙂

If you like shapeshifters, there’s always paranormal romance. Who doesn’t like vampires, werewolves or witches?

Favor a good spy tale or mystery/thriller? Try romantic suspense or a romantic thriller for some heart-pounding action.

Do you crave stories that are…a tad darker? There’s a type called dark romance, and even unique themes such as mafia romance or MC (biker) romances are available.

Prefer adventure tales? Maybe fantasy romance or romantic adventure is more your style.

You could be a science fiction fan, but might be willing to try something with a romantic storyline. As you know, many of the most popular sci-fi films usually have a romance angle to appeal to audiences. Why not go for science fiction romance, dystopian romance or even a good time travel tale?

 

Maybe you like stories about war veterans. Well, we have military romance

In other words, this genre has sooooo many options! ♥

  1. “I don’t believe in love at first sight. I can’t get into romance novels.”

Even as someone who has read tons of romance novels in some capacity since the age of thirteen, I can’t say I go for love at first sight either. However, I do believe that two people can connect right away. Lust also happens pretty fast too, but that’s beside the point. With these two facts, I know it still takes time to build a good relationship. I’ve read plenty of novels that don’t fall into the trap of the love at first sight ideal. I think it’s why the ‘Happy for Now’ ending works so well; most novelists get that this is more realistic on some level. I think that a lot of writers these days are doing their best to show that it’s not really love at first sight – rather it’s more about chemistry and an instant connection evolving quickly into something substantial. And this isn’t unheard of in real life.

But we don’t have 1,000 pages to explain the whole courtship/dating period; therefore it falls on the writer to try to make it a believable story in a short amount of time.

As a writer of romance as well, with twenty-four published books and 125+ works-in-progress, I usually do my best to avoid the idea of immediate love. Chemistry is easy, though.

Created by yanalya – freepik.com

It’s everything else that complicates the story. Even in my shorter romantic fiction, I try to explain that enough time – even though I don’t always go into the normal life details – has passed for these two people to actually develop feelings.

With The Missing Piece, a story that was part of a holiday romance anthology and was then made into a single ebook (new adult romance), I was careful to simply show the stirrings of romantic interest in such a short time.

For me, I see insta-love as a notion that often works well for supernatural creatures in fiction, simply because their primal, possessive instincts are winning out over logic. This can merge into affection rather quickly because all of their senses are more heightened than usual. Everything is so vivid that it must be love.

  1. “Romance novels are too sexy. I can’t handle all that heat.”

So steam isn’t for you. We totally respect your preferences! If you find that most romance reads are rife with heated or even graphic content, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Try inspirational romance. Have you seen Amish romance in bookstores? Yeah, that’s one type, among so many others.

But let’s say you’re open to looking outside spiritual reads. Also available on the market are clean romance and sweet romance. Plus, cozy mysteries typically lack sexual content, and amid all the other events in the books, there’s sometimes a romance angle.

In any case, the authors of these clean reads subscribe to the notion of a sweet romance, or at least closed door romance. We’re all adults here, right? But at least if sexual content bothers you in any fashion, you can rest assured that with these types of books, it usually won’t go beyond kissing. And even if it does, what happens is implied and never vividly described. Cut to the next scene!

Anyway, if you believe you can’t read romance because it’s just too hot for your taste, that no longer has to be the case.

  1. “Please…romance novels aren’t even real fiction!”

Hmm…ouch. 😥 Still, this myth is just wrong.

Let’s look at the basic formula for fiction.

The character is introduced. There is some action happening, a type of conflict. Something prevents him from getting what he really wants (usually the antagonist, which can be a person, place, thing, or even a concept). By the end of the story, this character must change in some capacity, internally or externally. The tale reaches its conclusion, however satisfying – or unsatisfying – it may be for readers.

These are the principles of fiction, of course. And you have interactions with secondary characters, dialogue and tension that help shape the story and your idea of who this person is. There’s also the climax of the tale, that pivotal movement when things get really tense for the character – the reader too – and he or she is close to losing everything. But I digress.

Every romance meets the requirements of fiction as well. It’s a lot more than two people being brought together like magnets. Chemistry is just a small part of it. The question becomes…how do we realistically connect these individuals? They have to fit somehow.

Created by yanalya – freepik.com

Numerous elements go into making that happen. There’s a specific plot, as well as subplots. The character must want something, have a goal in mind. The story isn’t always just about romance, but also the way characters come to believe new truths about themselves. They’re not only capable of love. Maybe the main character wants a promotion. But to do that, she’ll have to step outside her comfort zone to impress her boss. In any case, an HEA (Happily Ever After) or HFN (Happy for Now) is only possible if the character reaches the proper mindset to have a real romantic relationship. Without that, it’s just attraction – then it becomes erotica alone, which is something else altogether.

For example, being with an emotionally unavailable person is like hitting your head against the wall. In the end, it’s just pointless. For this type of relationship to qualify as a real romance, the characters must change – events might happen in their lives to help adjust their worldview – and they can reach a certain level of happiness. But it’s going to be a hard journey to get there. Romance stories aren’t all hearts, flowers, and butterflies.

Frank McKenna, Unsplash

True fiction is housed in every romance tale. The character still goes through a range of emotions to achieve what he/she wants. As aforementioned, often there is an antagonist preventing the couple from being together, whether it’s a person, a misconceived notion, or another external force that keeps them apart.

Sometimes it’s more than one antagonist. It’s never easy right away. Eventually, the characters must find a way around the barrier. Every relationship in real life takes effort, and these stories are no different.

Oh, wait!

Pixabay, pexels.com

The character wanted something, had a goal in mind. To reach that aspiration, he took action, and then the events that occurred reshaped his way of thinking. But at least he found what he was looking for. And he changed on some level, right? Yep…sounds like fiction to me! 😉

  1. “These books are useless drivel, and they create unrealistic expectations for people.”

To me, that sounds like it’s coming from someone who is afraid of the power of genuine emotion. But, let’s explore the aforesaid theory.

Relationships are hard work, and those in romance novels take just as much effort. If a writer is doing his or her job correctly, this will come out on the page.

Unrealistic? Hmm…if anything, I think the romance reader will see reality for what it is. No, finding happiness is never easy, but it’s worth the journey.

To illustrate this point, I’ll reference the trope often seen in historical romances…Marrying for Convenience versus Marrying for Love.

The truth is that even modern readers understand the benefits of a marriage of convenience. With financial and social stability, it’s a match that makes sense. But more often than not, we’ll root for the opposite outcome.

Why? Are we silly dreamers?

Not at all. It’s just that deep down, we all want to be happy. This is in our nature as human beings. We’re conditioned to know that events should play out a certain way – getting married and having kids is usually expected – but our instincts tell us there’s more to the story. Of course, those eventualities don’t work for every person. Still, why wouldn’t we want happiness for the characters we’ve come to care about?

Inna Lesyk, pexels.com

So, is it unrealistic to crave love? I don’t think so. At least in my opinion, romance novels have the power to teach us what we want in life. And who couldn’t use a little more self-awareness? I know I’d rather be in a relationship that works well, which helps me evolve as a person, rather than one that might look okay on paper, yet will only serve to hurt me in the long run.

Plenty of people are unhappy because they made the wrong choices. Maybe they feel trapped, but in the end, they have to figure a way out on their own. Some will settle, others won’t. That’s the thing about life, though. If you make a mistake, the best you can do is try to repair it. And if that’s not possible, you get creative and find a new route to achieve your goal.

Being logical is one way of thinking. Listening to your heart, really opening yourself up to what will make you happy? That takes courage.

I believe romance novels can teach us a lot about ourselves, and help us to understand the motivations of other people too.

Is this realistic? Probably not. But it can prevent someone from making a rash decision, to use their heart and instincts to discover what they want, and determine the best solution for them. How admirable, right? Outsiders can judge all they want, and it won’t matter as long as that person is satisfied with what they’ve chosen.

At any rate, romance novels are lot more complex than they may seem at first glance. Reading these books can offer many benefits – numerous insights and a source of entertainment, just to name a couple! If you’re interested in learning more, you can view a full list of sub-genres and romance tropes below.

https://marielavender.blogspot.com/2016/03/understanding-romance-genre-by-marie-lavender-plus-giveaway.html

https://www.mindyklasky.com/index.php/for-writers/romance-tropes/

I hope I’ve reaffirmed some aspects for loyal fans, and offered advice worth considering for people who are new to the romance genre. If you know of anyone who still believes these myths are valid, please refer them to this article. 😉

Have a lovely rest of your week, readers! 🙂

Host Blogger Bio

Multi-genre author of Victorian romance, UPON YOUR RETURN, and 23 other books. Reached the Top 10 Authors list on AuthorsDB.com for the last 4 years. Featured interview in the January 2018 issue of Womelle Magazine. The Heiresses in Love Trilogy made the TOP 10 on the Anthology category on the 2018 P&E Readers’ Poll, and BLOOD INSTINCTS reached TOP 10 status in the Romance category. The Heiresses in Love Trilogy and DIRECTIONS OF THE HEART both reached the semi-finalist round in the 2018 AuthorsDB Book Cover Contest. Voted TOP BLOGGER for 2018 on the Romance Lives Forever Blog. TOP 20 Authors of 2018 on Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews blog. DIRECTIONS OF THE HEART was nominated and made it past the first round in the 2018 Author Academy Awards. UPON YOUR LOVE and THE MISSING PIECE placed in the TOP 10 on the 2017 P&E Readers’ Poll. DIRECTIONS OF THE HEART was nominated for the 2017 Reader’s Choice Awards. The I Love Romance Blog became a finalist in StartDating DK’s Romance Blog Awards of 2017. ILRB landed on Feedspot’s 2017 TOP 100 Novel Blogs and TOP 100 Romance Blogs. DIRECTIONS OF THE HEART placed in the TOP 10 Books of 2017 on Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews blog. TOP 20 Authors of 2017 on Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews blog. Mystery Blogger Award for 2017. A to Z Blog Challenge Survivor in 2016. March 2016 Empress of the Universe title – winner of the “Broken Heart” themed contest and the “I Love You” themed contest on Poetry Universe. SECOND CHANCE HEART and A LITTLE MAGICK placed in the TOP 10 on the 2015 P&E Readers’ Poll. Nominated in the TRR Readers’ Choice Awards for Winter 2015. Poetry winner of the 2015 PnPAuthors Contest. The Versatile Blogger Award for 2015. Honorable Mention in the 2014 BTS Red Carpet Book Awards. Finalist and Runner-up in the 2014 MARSocial’s Author of the Year Competition. Honorable mention in the January 2014 Reader’s Choice Award. Liebster Blogger Award for 2013, 2014 and 2016. 2013 and 2014 Amazon Bestseller Ranking for UPON YOUR RETURN. Winner of the Great One Liners Contest on the Directory of Published Authors.

Marie Lavender lives in the Midwest with her family and two cats. She has been writing for a little over twenty-five years. She has more works in progress than she can count on two hands. Since 2010, Marie has published 24 books in the genres of historical romance, contemporary romance, romantic suspense, paranormal romance, dramatic fiction, fantasy, science fiction, mystery/thriller, literary fiction and poetry. She writes adult fiction, as well as occasional stories for children, and has recently started some young adult fiction. She has also contributed to several anthologies. Her current published series are The Heiresses in Love Series, The Eternal Hearts Series, The Magick Series, The Code of Endhivar Series and The Blood at First Sight Series.

Links:

Official Website: http://marielavender.com/

Blogs: https://iloveromanceblog.wordpress.com/
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http://marielavenderbooks.blogspot.com/
Social Media: https://www.facebook.com/marie.lavender.58
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Amazon author page: https://amzn.to/2SMRcRD
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6938764.Marie_Lavender
http://authorsdb.com/authors-directory/1578-marie-lavender

http://marielavender1.allauthor.com/

http://www.pw.org/content/marie_lavender
http://manicreaders.com/marielavender/

Publisher: http://www.solsticeempire.com/products.aspx?categoryid=262

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJu8HjRVYCFOqcIoX6ZxdqQ/videos

Sign up for Marie’s Newsletter: http://bit.ly/1g3wO13

Follow her on BookBub for new release updates: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/marie-lavender

 

Happy reading, everyone! 🙂

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Book Feature: Loving Justice by author Sable Hunter

I am pleased to announce a great book by Sable Hunter, an author I met during my journey! She’s stopping by to tell us about her steamy contemporary western romance, Loving Justice, which released back in 2015!

Woo hoo! It’s always fun to discover romance authors and books. 😀

Sable is allowing us a look at a hot western romance, Loving Justice, today.

Great cover!

This is the blurb for Loving Justice, book two of El Camino Real Series:

Justice King and Charlee Parker are best friends…or they were until the day her feelings changed and she fell madly, hopelessly in love with him.
He didn’t feel the same way. And who could blame him? Justice King was perfect.
He could have any woman he wanted.
And she was just Charlee – a flat-chested tomboy with her heart in her eyes.
But some things are just meant to be.
Some are luckier than most. Soulmates, friends as well as lovers.
When fate begins to weave a thread of hope to bring them together, they go from an ill-fated night of passion to a misunderstanding which separates them for eight long years.
But destiny will not be denied – a calamity at El Camino brings Charlee home and from the moment he sees her, Justice knows he’ll never let her go again.
But Charlee has a secret…a secret she’s afraid to tell Justice. She’s been keeping something from him, something he might not be able to forgive.

**CONTENT WARNING: This book contains adult situations and language and is not intended for an audience under the age of 18**

Release Date: January 21, 2015

Genre: Steamy contemporary romance, western romance

And here is an excerpt to tease you with...

“I can’t believe you drank too much. This isn’t like you.” When he grunted and grumbled under his breath, she retorted, “Yea, I’m fussing a little. Sue me.”

“Just help me upstairs, boss.” His voice held that teasing note she’d heard so often years ago.

“Don’t you want me to fix you something to eat first?”

A groan was her answer to that question. “We’re alone,” he announced. The house was deserted. His parents and the twins, Trace and Trevor, were in Austin with Abby. All the rest of the boys were at school. Apparently, Abby had insisted her injury be downplayed to such an extent that most of the family was going about their normal routine.

“Don’t worry, your virtue is safe with me.” She did some teasing of her own. The second and fifth stair creaked like normal. Charlee didn’t need to be told where Justice’s room was located. She’d snuck up these stairs or shimmed up the drain pipe to his window more times than she could count while growing up. “Let’s get you into bed,” she winced, he was getting heavier by the second.

“Sounds good to me,” Justice murmured. “I’m beat.”

“You’ll feel better soon,” she assured him, checking the thermostat, making sure his room was warm enough for him. He obediently stood next to the big four poster bed, looking to her like a cross between a sexy teddy bear and an Old West desperado. Justice always reminded her of Chris Pine in a cowboy hat.

“You smell good, like a woman.”

Charlee had to laugh. “You are drunk.” At his snort, she added, “At least something about me is womanly.” It sure wasn’t her shape. Charlee’s unfortunate chest was as flat as a board.

“There’s not a damn thing wrong with you.” His voice was low and raspy.

Charlee shivered. “Never mind. Let me get the covers turned back and I’ll help you get your boots off.” This wasn’t the first time she’d helped him to bed. Of course, the other times he’d been hurting with one of those damn headaches he was plagued with.

“I think I need help with the rest of my clothes.”

His whisper sounded a little suggestive and Charlee blushed from her nose to her toes. “I think you need a cold shower.” She made light of his comment. Charlee had seen Justice flirt many times, but she’d never been the recipient. She’d always been relegated to the role of best buddy.

“Will you take one with me?”

“A shower?” She choked back a laugh. Was he tormenting her on purpose? “Not a good idea.” Charlee fluffed the pillows and turned on the bedside lamp, anything to keep her eyes off the handsome hunk who was unbuttoning his shirt and eyeing her like she was a tasty treat. How many times had she dreamed of this moment? The only problem was – the Jose Cuervo was talking, not Justice.

“Come here. I need to hold you.”

The teasing tone had left his voice completely. This sexy Justice was almost more than she could handle. “Hush. Let me help you. You’re making a mess.” She stepped close to him, her whole body quivering at the sight of his gorgeous chest, lightly furred, muscles rippling as he struggled with the shirt which was behind him, still fastened at the cuffs.

While she was so near and he was otherwise occupied, Charlee dared to do something she’d only dreamed about. She placed a small quick kiss over his heart and felt hers jump in her chest.

“That’s good. Now kiss me up here.”

Caught. She lifted her eyes and he was staring at her with unmistakable heat. “Sorry.”

“God, don’t be. I need you.” He tossed the shirt across the room and began tugging at his pants. “Damned buttons.”

“Justice, you don’t want me.” The words slipped from her lips unbidden even as her hands joined his, tugging to get his belt out of the loops.

“Yes, I do. I want you. I need you.” He bent his head and she felt his lips on her neck. “Feel.”

He took her hand and moved it below his waist – and he was right. She could feel him big and hard. For her? Not possible. Unable to rest, she shyly cupped him, marveling at the way he throbbed in her hand. “I’m not your type, you said so. Remember?” Each word tore a little bit of her pride away.

“You’re my friend. A guy isn’t supposed to lust after his friend. But I can’t help it.” His words were still a bit slurred, punctuated by kisses as he licked a path from her cheek to her collarbone. “Don’t think I’ve missed those hot little nipples pressing against your shirt, or that wild flush on your cheeks when we sit close. You want me, Parker.”

“We don’t always get what we want, Justice.” Charlee tried to muster up some fight, some strength to push away his hands. But she couldn’t. She had wanted him forever. By age fifteen, she’d been aware of Justice as a man and by the time she was eighteen, she’d burned for him.

“I do, I’m not afraid to reach out and take what I want when I see it.”

God, he was potent. “All I’ve ever wanted was for you to be happy,” she offered as she tilted her head to give him access. Frissons of excitement covered her skin.

“I want your soft touches, like how you used to caress my forehead when I was sick. Now, I want you to whimper for the pleasure I can give you.”

Right on cue, she moaned for him as he skated his hands up under her shirt. “Justice,” she gasped his name in prayer.

“Your skin is like toffee-colored silk and your hair drives me mad.” He ran his fingers through the long, thick chocolate colored waterfall.

“It does?” Charlee was losing her mind. This was surreal. His hands were now working on her clothes, soon she would be naked in his arms.

“Yea, I love the taste of you. Sugar cookies. You’re sweet on my tongue.” Justice kissed her neck again, this time sucking a bit of soft flesh between his teeth. God, he was so excited, he was seeing stars. “Are you gonna let me love you?”

Did she have a choice? Her mind might be wary but her body was melting at his touch.

Justice slipped an arm around Charlee and lifted her to him, his other hand making quick work of the remainder of their clothes. Wrapping Charlee’s hair around his fist, he pulled her head back and claimed her lips with his own.

Their first kiss.

Purchase Links:

Universal Reader link:  https://books2read.com/u/mvvyaX

Woo! ♥♥♥ Love how sexy this is. (Fans herself.) Seems like a sizzling read!

So, what are readers saying about this novel?

Great read! A second chance at love with your best friend. Doesn’t get much better than that.
Charlee Parker comes from a life that taught her to be strong the hard way, but when things got too much she ran. She left it all behind, especially the love of her life, Justice King.
Justice lost a part of himself when Charlee left town, and worst of all, he didn’t know why she left. But when she returns and he finds out the reason she left, he doubles his efforts to win her back for good…
” – Chrys Anthi, Amazon

“Books by Sable are always amazing! loved this story of Justice and Charlie! They were meant to be together.
There hasn’t been a Sable Hunter book I haven’t liked. You fall in love with the characters.
And her knowledge of the histories of the places they live in is so cool. I love that little history lesson in each of her books.
” – TammyS329, Amazon

“So beautifully written. Words cannot begin to express how much I loved this book. Sable has a way with words like no other. I fell in love with the characters in this book right away. I’m hoping I will get all the King brothers stories. This book is for anyone who loves true romance. ” – Amanda Smith, Amazon

Thank you for telling us about your book, Sable! I know I can’t wait to read this contemporary western romance!

Readers, don’t forget to pick up a copy of this awesome book! 🙂 Or you can add it to Goodreads!

Author Bio

Sable Hunter is a New York Times, USA Today bestselling author of nearly 60 books in 9 series. She writes sexy contemporary stories full of emotion and suspense. Her focus is mainly cowboy and novels set in Louisiana with a hint of the supernatural. Sable writes what she likes to read and enjoys putting her fantasies on paper. Her books are emotional tales in which the heroine is faced with challenges. Her aim is to write a story that will make you laugh, cry and swoon. If she can wring those emotions from a reader, she has done her job. Sable resides in Austin, Texas with her two dogs. Passionate about all animals, she has been known to charm creatures from a one ton bull to a family of raccoons. For fun, Sable haunts cemeteries and battlefields armed with night-vision cameras and digital recorders hunting proof that love survives beyond the grave. Welcome to her world of magic, alpha heroes, sexy cowboys and hot, steamy, to-die-for sex. Step into the shoes of her heroines and escape to places where right prevails, love conquers all and holding out for a hero is not an impossible dream.
Author Links:
Website:  http://www.sablehunter.com/  
Newsletter:  http://eepurl.com/qRvyn
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/authorsablehunter/
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/huntersable
Amazon Author Page:  https://www.amazon.com/Sable-Hunter/e/B007B3KS4M/

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4419823.Sable_Hunter
BookBub:  https://www.bookbub.com/authors/sable-hunter

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sable_hunter/

 

Thanks again, Sable ! We hope to see you back on ILRB sometime. 

Happy reading, everyone!🙂

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New Release Feature: The Impaler’s Wife by author Autumn Bardot

•..•The Impaler’s Wife by Autumn Bardot•..•

Marriage to a man tortured by his past comes with a price…

I am pleased to announce a great book release by Autumn, a talented author I met during my journey! Her new historical fiction novel with a romance angle, The Impaler’s Wife, officially released last week!

Yay! That’s awesome! :) Congrats on your new release!

When a new book comes out, it’s always an exciting time for an author!

Autumn is giving us a look at her gothic romance, The Impaler’s Wife, today.

What an intriguing cover!

This is the blurb for The Impaler’s Wife:

A young woman is swept into a life of intrigue, revenge, passion, and betrayal when she falls for the world’s most notorious prince.

The year is 1464 and young King Matthias controls Hungary, his family, and the fate of the world’s most notorious political prisoner, Prince Vlad Dracula.

Ilona Szilágy, the king’s cousin, is young and ambitious. Dracula is determined to marry into the Hunyadi family. It is love at first sight, but the king has other plans. The Impaler Prince, however, never takes no for an answer.

This begins Ilona’s journey into the treacherous world of court intrigues, family betrayals, and her husband’s dark desires. Eager to become Vlad’s trusted confidante, Ilona soon discovers that marriage to a man tortured by his past comes with a price.

Woven throughout is a peek into the life and times of one of the world’s most enigmatic and maligned rulers…the man before the legend.

With Bardot’s decadent period detail and a cast of gritty, evocative characters, The Impaler’s Wife offers a fierce yet sensuous glimpse into the violent 15th century.

Here is an excerpt to entice you with!

Prince Vlad rests his hand on the small of my back. “Come, Lady Ilona, look at the faces of anarchy and villainy, and see how much they resemble your friends and family.”

“I will not.” I back away from the entrance where moans rise from the bowels of the labyrinth like a demon’s song.

“The choice is yours, of course.” His tone is low and gentle, but in the lamplight his stare is wolf-like.

I shift from foot to foot, look away, only to glance back. Does he hear my heart knocking against my breast? Can he smell my fear as it beads wet on my neck? Do I want to rise to this challenge? Or am I a fool for allowing him to bait me?

My fingers tighten around the lamp’s clay handle. “I will humor you, my lord, but only because Father taught me courage and graciousness.”

“Mihály taught you well.” He holds out his hand. “My lady.”

The lamp divides the darkness like a saber, each foot forward lighting our descent into hell. Ghostly groans from below seep through the rock. I sink into Vlad’s fur-lined coat as though their suffering will soak into my soul.

Vlad pauses before descending the narrow rock steps leading into the labyrinth’s deepest level. “Are you certain?” His eyes glint with challenge. “A weak constitution is nothing to be ashamed of.”

I lift my chin and glare with pretended insult. “I am the daughter of Michael Szilágyi and Margit Báthory. Iron courage flows in my blood.” I push back my cuff and show him the blue-forked veins in my wrist. “I am as brave as Hadak Ura, our ancient pagan warlord.”

“I believe you, my lady. I will not doubt again.”

The clanking chains and eerie moans get louder with each step down, the noises merging into a demonic choir like that of Ördög’s requiem to the Underworld. My legs shake, my neck wet with icy prickles, and my skin tightens around my chest.

I lift the lamp into hell.

The circle of light shines upon a pockmarked man stretching his arm between the bars, his fingers curled like claws. “Bless me, good sister.”

In the cell next to him, a naked wretch spits onto the ground. “Menj a fenébe!”

“I am innocent!” A third prisoner grabs the bars and presses his wild-bearded face against the iron. “Tell His Highness there is a Turkish spy in his court. He is in danger! You must warn him!”

My head swivels toward Prince Vlad.

“There are always spies,” Vlad whispers.

I walk with measured pace and let the lantern reveal each doomed prisoner. Most stare, empty-eyed; the whips, chains, skin shredders, bone crushers, and strappado take away all hope and spirit. Others shout obscenities. One man kneels, hands in prayer, and mutters the Hail Mary.

The weight of their misery crashes down, squeezes my heart, and crushes my breath. This place must be worse than hell’s torments because these wretches yet live, have all their faculties! No one deserves this! It is inhumane! Sadistic and depraved!

My breath comes in shreds and clumps. I cover my nose with Prince Vlad’s cape, the stench of rotting flesh enfolding me in its putrid embrace. My pace quickens. It is time to end this test of my courage.

“You!” A milky-eyed wretch points to Prince Vlad and begins chanting in a foreign tongue.

Prince Vlad guides me away from the cells. “You have thrice over proven your courage tonight.”

“What language was that man speaking?”

“He recites from the Corpus Hermeticum.” Dracula takes the lantern and illuminates the stairwell. “It’s a pagan book of alchemy, astronomy, and metaphysics.”

“It sounded like he cursed us.”

“Pay no attention to a madman’s rants. That particular book is nothing but Egyptian and Greek nonsense.”

I tread upwards, evil’s chill clinging to my limbs. At the top, I try to purge the dungeon’s misery, malice, and madness with a long exhalation. Yet the horror sticks like nettles in my soul.

“This way.” I move past the dark tunnel and enter the lighted one, relieved to put space and distance between the prisoners and me.

The tunnel ends at a large grotto where Prince Vlad pauses to light the ring of torches affixed to the walls. I wait on a stone bench near the baptismal fount, sighing with relief as the golden glow of the church-like arches infuse peace into my troubled soul.

Prince Vlad sits beside me. “We go from hell to heaven.”

I tuck a stray lock behind my ear. “This was Father’s favorite grotto. God’s Buried Cathedral, he called it. His second favorite has a Titan-sized head emerging from the ground—like a god got stuck in molten rock. I was only in that grotto once. It reminded me of an insect trapped in tree sap that ages to amber—the insect forever entombed—never aging, almost alive in its resin grave.”

“Do you find that horrific or beautiful?” His eyes search mine.

“Both, I suppose.” My shoulders move into my sigh. “Caves are dreary places.”

“I rather enjoy them. Tunnels have saved my life several times.” Dracula stands. “I think we are both ready for fresh air.” He offers his hand, its warmth a familiar comfort.

Together we walk through the tunnel lit by small lanterns that flicker like fireflies all the way to the exit.

Prince Vlad gives the stubborn iron-crossed door a hard yank and it groans open. Outside, a sapphire dawn drapes over Buda.

“On no.” My hands fly to my face. “It’s so late it’s early.” Were we in the tunnels that long? If my aunts discover I never returned to my room…I spin about, my voice edged with panic. “I have to go back. Now.”

Vlad’s brows crease with concern. He tugs a handkerchief from his robe and touches it to my lips as though dabbing at a smudge. “There’s something I must do first.” He lays the linen over my lips and sets his mouth on mine.

Even through the thin fabric, his lips sear my own. I part my lips, feel the linen moisten with the breath of our lust. I collapse into him, my body sizzling with desire. I am about to rip away the fabric and taste his lips when he breaks the kiss.

Vlad Dracula steps back, the handkerchief between thumb and forefinger. “If you marry Luigi della Scala, you will still be chaste.” He drags the handkerchief across his mouth. “I will always have this.”

Chaste? Prince Vlad just violated my heart and corrupted my flesh!

Back in my chambers, I touch my lips that still burn with the memory of our kiss—my first kiss—and groan. Vlad Dracula used my virtue, conceit, and fears to study the labyrinth’s secrets. He took advantage of my desire for romantic adventure to learn the escape route.

Purchase Links:

Universal Reader link:  https://books2read.com/u/3ygVlv

Publisher: Flores Publishing

Nice! Great tension. Gotta love this sneak peek. ♥♥♥

Let’s check out an intriguing book trailer!

Awesome!

Thank you for telling us about your new book! It sounds fabulous! 🙂

Readers, don’t forget to pick up a copy of this riveting read! Or add it to your Goodreads bookshelf!

Author Bio

Autumn Bardot writes erotica and historical fiction about sassy women and daring passions.

Her erotica includes Legends of Lust (Cleis Press), and Confessions of a Sheba Queen (Cleis, Jan 2020).  Autumn has a BA in English literature and a MaEd in curriculum and instruction. She’s been teaching writing and literary analysis for fourteen years. Autumn lives in Southern California with her hubby, rescue pooch, and ever-increasing family.  Her favorite things include salty French fries, coffee, swimming, and a great book.

Author Links

Website:  http://www.autumnbardot.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/AutumnBardotAuthor

Club Autumn

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/AutumnBardot

Amazon author page:  https://www.amazon.com/Autumn-Bardot/e/B07DMC7ZB6/

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17725628.Autumn_Bardot

Newsletter Sign-up here (right side of page)

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/autumnbardot/

 

Thanks again, Autumn! We hope to see you back on ILRB sometime. 

Happy reading, everyone!🙂

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Book Review: The Homecoming (Bayou Shifters Book 1) by Tammy Tate

This week’s I Love Romance Blog review selection is The Homecoming by Tammy Tate. Once I started this one, I just kept reading – great beginning to the series!

The book jumps right into the story and I definitely appreciate that. Sometimes you just want the meat and potatoes. Sydney is goin’ on a trip. More specifically, she’s going to stay with her aunt and her pack of wolf shifters at their home on the outskirts of New Orleans. After Sydney’s mother died, her human father knew that he couldn’t help her transition, so she reluctantly agrees to go.

Her dreams have been wreaking havoc, though. It’s the same dream over and over and it always leaves her wanting.

Kyle and his best friend Beau are living the life – working, fishing, and running. But, one of them isn’t sleeping that well either.

In a story full of action, adventure, love, romance, sex, shifters, and yes, vampires – you will definitely be hooked, too.

For all this and so much more that you’ll have to discover when you read it – I give The Homecoming By Tammy Tate 5 HEARTS!

Book Info:

Sydney is half human, half wolf and has fallen in love with Kyle, a full-fledged shifter who for the last six months has been appearing in her dreams. During the next full moon, she will make her first shift from human to wolf. The transformation won’t be easy. It could leave her disfigured. Or, worse. Dead.

Kyle is in Bayou Fontaine. For the sake of the pack, the council has already chosen him a mate. Sydney and Kyle face incredible odds to be together and soon become pawns in a deadly game of survival.

The clock is ticking…

Universal Reader link: https://books2read.com/u/3LGNXM

Here are some teasers!

And the book trailer…

AUTHOR: Tammy Tate

TITLE: The Homecoming (book one of the Bayou Shifters Series)

GENRE: Paranormal Romance – Werewolves, Shifters and Vampires

RELEASE DATE: January 14, 2017

PUBLISHER: Amazon Digital Services LLC

ISBN/ASIN: B01N4OJD6J

OUR RATING: ♥♥♥♥♥

REVIEWED BY: Kevin Ethan

 

Get your copy for only 99 cents here.

Up next week: Choosing the Cowboy by Liz Isaacson

Thanks for reading our weekly book review on ILRB!

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Book Feature: Texas Maverick by authors Sable Hunter & Ryan O’Leary

I am pleased to announce a great book by Sable Hunter and Ryan O’Leary, two authors I met during my journey! They’re stopping by to tell us about their steamy western military romance, Texas Maverick, which released back in 2016!

Woo hoo! It’s always fun to discover romance authors and books. 😀

Sable and Ryan are allowing us a look at a sexy military romance, Texas Maverick, today.

Nice cover!

This is the blurb for Texas Maverick:

Maverick Cross is a Texas hero, not the flashy kind, he’s a war veteran who served his country overseas and now serves it at home as an Austin firefighter. To look at him – and women love to look – he’s a ripped athlete who takes care of himself and has it all together.
Only his next door neighbor knows the truth; Maverick suffers from PTSD.
Everly Winterfell is almost invisible, blending into the crowd is fine by her. She’s a hero too, not the kind who wears a cape, but the kind who isn’t afraid to dig for the truth and expose it for all to see. Everly’s alter ego is Eve Winters, an award winning journalist who doesn’t seek the limelight, she’s content with writing stories that change people’s lives without drawing any attention to herself.
Nothing much escapes Everly, she has a talent for seeing beneath the surface, reading people for who they really are. From her vantage point in Apartment #701, she has learned that the occupant in #702 is lonely. He has a habit of pushing people away before they can get too close, especially women. Maverick can offer a woman great sex, Everly can vouch for that fact. The walls are thin between #701 and #702 and many nights she has lain there wishing she was on the receiving end of his attention. He’s intrigued by his odd little neighbor, who seems to want to be his wingman and he has no idea that her ulterior motive is to be his friend. After some negotiations, they strike a deal – she’ll find him women who know the score, who won’t expect more than he can give, and in return he’ll see if he can advise her on how to attract a man for herself. To facilitate their odd arrangement, they install a chalkboard on the narrow wall separating their front doors, leaving messages about their shared adventures.
The more time they spend together, the less important finding dates for the other becomes. Everly and Maverick discover they share a chemistry that’s off the charts, they can’t keep their hands off one another. There’s only one problem – Maverick has no idea Everly is his secret obsession, Eve Winters. Sometimes what we need is right in front of our face. Sometimes what we’re looking for is right next door…

**CONTENT WARNING: This book contains adult language and sexual situations. It is intended for ages 18+ ONLY**

Release Date: July 15, 2016

Genre: Steamy contemporary romance, western romance, military romance

And here is an excerpt to tease you with...

“Maverick, it’s me. Everly.”

He opened his eyes, expecting to see flashes of gunfire and explosions from IED’s. Instead, he looked into delicate features, eyes warm with concern. “Everly?”

“You were dreaming,” she whispered.

Fuck, he was dreaming now. “What are you doing here?”

She kept her hand on Maverick, seeking to soothe him. “I heard you through the wall.” Rising, she stood next to the bed. “Do you want some water before I go?”

“Did I hurt you?” He grabbed her hand, pulling her back down to sit on the bed.

She twined her fingers with his. “No, of course not.”

“Don’t go.” His hand came up to weave itself in her hair. “Where’s the whale spout, Tink?”

“What are you doing?” she whispered as his other hand skimmed up under her shirt, caressing the soft skin of her back.

“I need you,” he pulled her head down until their lips met.

Now Everly thought she was the one who must be dreaming. Could this be real? His mouth moved on hers, a gentle graze that made it hard to breathe. She wanted to kiss him back so badly she could die.

“Open.”

His demand made every nerve ending in her body spark to life. There was no way on God’s green earth she could resist this man, she wanted him too much. Tentatively, she responded to his strength, his passion. Parting her lips, she touched the tip of her tongue to his and he groaned, pulling her to the bed beside him. Everly’s blood raced through her veins. She craved him – she craved his touch and she craved to touch him. Clutching his shoulders, she began to kiss him back with desperate intensity.

Her surrender seemed to free something within him. Maverick began to devour her lips and she trembled as his big hands roamed all over her body. Never had she been kissed this way. His mouth on hers was the single most wonderful thing that had ever happened to her.

A haze of desire clouded Maverick’s brain. Her body was soft and warm as his mouth blazed a trail across her face and down her throat. When his lips brushed the pulse point that betrayed her excitement, he knew he wanted more.

(this section was edited out for this post because it was too hot for ILRB…LOL!)

Maverick pulled her into his embrace, the act of release seeming to give him peace. Everly held him close, marveling at what had transpired. A small smile played on her lips. Tingles of elation mixed with shivers of remorse. He’d been in the throes of a nightmare when she’d come to his bed, offering him comfort. Oh, he’d taken it all right. The only problem was that Everly wasn’t sure this was something he’d have done in any other circumstance.

Easing out from under him, she made a grab for her shirt, pulling it over her head. When he didn’t move, she felt around in the bed for her panties, but found nothing. “Dang it,” she whispered, then froze when he moved again, his hand running over the covers. Was he looking for her?

No matter, he wouldn’t find her.

Coward that she was, Everly Winterfell backed out of Maverick’s room and retreated to the safety of her own apartment.

The cold light of day would tell the tale. If what they’d done together meant something to him, he’d let her know.

And if it didn’t….

Well, she’d deal with that when the time came.

Purchase Links:

Universal Reader link:  https://books2read.com/u/bPZ7EA

OMG! ♥♥♥ Love how steamy this is. (Fans herself.) Seems like quite a read!

So, what are readers saying about this novel?

These two have an interesting relationship; funny, confusing, no matter what they have each other’s backs, misunderstandings, and lots of making up. It is a very good story and one I would recommend reading.” – Linda Knott, Amazon

While I’ve never been to Austin, I feel like I know the city from reading this latest release in the Texas Heroes series.
Everly is the kind of person we all should want to be – loving, kind, outgoing, artistic, talented, with a heart of pure gold. She and Maverick are next door neighbors but don’t really know each other until she offers to help him with his lady problems. He can’t seem to keep a girl more than one night and she’s sure she can help him with that. But along the way, they develop a deeply honest friendship. Of course there are bumps and bruises along the way, but in true Sable Hunter/Ryan O’Leary fashion, they eventually reach their HEA.
If you’ve never read Sable Hunter, this is an excellent place to start. In my opinion, she never disappoints the reader and always leaves you wanting more.
” – Shirley, Amazon

“Another home run! Sable Hunter and her co-writer Ryan O’Leary are at the top of my auto buy list. With every book, they continue to set the bar higher and higher. This book is well written with a fully developed plot and intriguing characters. In many of Sable’s books the hero and his love ignite sparks from the get go. This book deviates from that a bit in that Maverick and Everly start out as friends and develop deeper feelings as their relationship progresses. Sometimes what you have always wanted and needed is right in front of your face. The heat factor is high as usual, and as an added bonus the authors include very detailed descriptions of the Austin area. I loved this book!!!” – Mamiecj, Amazon

Thank you for telling us about your book, Sable and Ryan! I know I can’t wait to read this sizzling western military romance!

Readers, don’t forget to pick up a copy of this awesome book! 🙂 Or you can add it to Goodreads!

Author Bio

Sable Hunter is a New York Times, USA Today bestselling author of nearly 60 books in 9 series. She writes sexy contemporary stories full of emotion and suspense. Her focus is mainly cowboy and novels set in Louisiana with a hint of the supernatural. Sable writes what she likes to read and enjoys putting her fantasies on paper. Her books are emotional tales in which the heroine is faced with challenges. Her aim is to write a story that will make you laugh, cry and swoon. If she can wring those emotions from a reader, she has done her job. Sable resides in Austin, Texas with her two dogs. Passionate about all animals, she has been known to charm creatures from a one ton bull to a family of raccoons. For fun, Sable haunts cemeteries and battlefields armed with night-vision cameras and digital recorders hunting proof that love survives beyond the grave. Welcome to her world of magic, alpha heroes, sexy cowboys and hot, steamy, to-die-for sex. Step into the shoes of her heroines and escape to places where right prevails, love conquers all and holding out for a hero is not an impossible dream.
Author Links:
Website:  http://www.sablehunter.com/  
Newsletter:  http://eepurl.com/qRvyn
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/authorsablehunter/
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/huntersable
Amazon Author Page:  https://www.amazon.com/Sable-Hunter/e/B007B3KS4M/

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4419823.Sable_Hunter
BookBub:  https://www.bookbub.com/authors/sable-hunter

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sable_hunter/

 

Author Bio

Rarely will you find Ryan O’Leary in a state of rest; if he’s not on the ice or kicking around a soccer ball, he’s plotting his next story or out on the town with friends. His fun and flirty nature makes it possible for him to write the kind of romance that makes the reader both smile and tingle.

Author Links

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/WriterRyanOLeary/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/team_oleary

Amazon author page:  https://www.amazon.com/Ryan-OLeary/e/B00BEJ2NUQ/

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6074123.Ryan_O_Leary

 

Thanks again, Sable and Ryan! We hope to see you back on ILRB sometime. 

Happy reading, everyone!🙂

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Vote for This Cover Please!

Vote for a paranormal romance cover! 😉

Marie Lavender- Multigenre Author

I was just informed that Blood Instincts, my paranormal romance and book two of the Blood at First Sight Series, was nominated for the Cover of the Month Contest on AllAuthor. Yay!

Please, whenever you get a chance, go to the site and cast your vote for this stunning cover designed by SwoonWorthy Book Covers! There are only five days left in this round…

So vote, vote, vote! ♥

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Exclusive Interview with author Kaitlynzq, plus a look at romance audiobook, LEGEND OF SONG DE LIGHT!

Hi, readers! I am pleased to announce a very special post today on ILRB. We’re doing something a little different. This is our eighth official author interview on this romance blog! I know in the past, we did character interviews then switched over to the author’s take on it, but this approach is a bit unusual.

We have a real treat for you, readers. Today we get to speak one-on-one with a talented author. Please join me in welcoming Kaitlynzq to ILRB! 🙂

Marie Lavender:  Hi, Kaitlynzq. Please have a seat.

Author Kaitlynzq:  Hello, Marie.

Marie:  Hey, it’s such a pleasure to have you here!

I’m going to throw in a few standard questions first.

Obviously, we know your occupation as an author, but some writers have other jobs as well. Do you have another occupation? Do you believe you’re any good at it? Do you like what you do?

I know I’m overloading you with questions, but we’re really interested in finding out more about you…

Kaitlynzq:  I’m an author with a focus on adult literary fiction, poetry, and romance. ​To write for me is a need, almost like breathing. Writing is how I feel in rhythm with me, as me.

Marie:  I know what you mean! 😉

Tell us…what is your greatest dream?

Kaitlynzq:  I have many dreams; some centered on my writing, and others on love. These are delicate areas to talk about, and not always easy to discern what to share. For my writing, I have many aspirations for my current books, and for the stories that are evolving within me to write.

Marie:  All right. I know dreams can change.

So, let’s try something else now, okay?

What was your dream growing up? Did you achieve that dream? If so, in what ways was it not what you expected? If you never achieved the dream, why not?

Kaitlynzq:  I have always dreamed of being a writer as long as I can remember. Even as a young girl when I explored other artistic mediums, like being a fashion designer, or dance choreographer, creating time to write fictional stories was always part of how I would design my life’s plan.

Marie:  Me too!

What is your deepest desire, Kaitlynzq?

Kaitlynzq:  As a continuation to your previous questions, one of my deepest desires is to get to spend my life writing, and get to create the stories that are in my imagination.

Marie:  That’s understandable.

Tell me something…what is your greatest fear?

Kaitlynzq:  One of my greatest fears is that my doubts, and internal criticism are true.

Marie:  I think we all fear that on some level…

So, I want to try something different next.

Readers, let’s shift somewhat and get the author’s perspective on one of her characters.  🙂

We’ve heard rumors about the hero of your story, Kessington. Quite an interesting character. Can you tell us a little about him?

Kaitlynzq:  One of the characters within ​Legend of Song de Light audio book that I hold in a special way within my heart is Kessington.

He’s a tender gentleman that feels deeply, and has a natural open heart within all the degrees of emotions.

His birthday is September 18th, and his full name is part of the discovery within ​Legend of Song de Light.

Marie:  Okay.

What are your character’s greatest strengths?

Kaitlynzq:  He is a man with a wonderful curiosity, and an openness to the world.

And, his exquisite way of painting the felt experiences of living moments into a song.

Marie:  Nice!

And what are his greatest weaknesses?

Kaitlynzq:  I find it very hard to find any weaknesses within him.

Marie:  I see.

Let’s try something fun, shall we?

What are some important elements we can find within Kessington’s world?

Kaitlynzq:  He creates model vintage train sets that bring his amazing imagination to visual display that he then streams into soundscape artistry of what his heart hears in his experiences.

Part of his sound world that plays a significant link in his life is a saxophone, and the instrument’s subtleties are shared throughout ​Legend of Song de Light audio book.

His favorite color palette is antique silver and seafoam green, and he has a special fondness for the KEWORA Symphony.

Marie:  Awesome… 🙂

How about another question?

What’s a positive quality that your character is unaware that he or she has?

Kaitlynzq:  He emanates so beautifully a masculine tenderness.

Marie:  Cool! Those characters are usually difficult to come across.

Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?

Kaitlynzq:  I realize that each reader will have their own experience with Kessington’s story.

Recently, I’ve started creating videos that share more about the characters in ​Legend of Song de Light. This particular video for Kessington shares about a very special sound within a soundwave.

I’m looking forward to creating more of these videos.

Marie:  Lovely!

Now that we have a real taste of Kessington, we have a few questions for you as well as the author, about the writing process of your book.

What first gave you the idea for Legend of Song de Light?

Kaitlynzq:  The idea for ​Legend of Song de Light was a continual prompt from my heart. Something told me to begin, and the story revealed itself the more I wrote. One emotion filled layer after another. And, this story continues to reveal more for me now, each time I listen to the audio book, or read the audio play.

Marie:  Great!

Interesting how the muse works, huh? 😉

Let’s try something else.

What is your writing style like? Are you a pantster or a plotter?

Kaitlynzq:  I’m definitely a plotter. I have my notes, notebooks, online documents, and spreadsheets. All trying to stay up with my imagination.

Marie:  I know, right?

I’m throwing this one in for our aspiring writers. Did you come across any specific challenges in writing Legend of Song de Light or publishing it? What would you do differently the next time?

Kaitlynzq:  I think that there are benefits with all of the possibilities in how an author chooses to publish their work. For me, I’ve decided to self-publish all of my books, and created my book boutique to make them available for everyone online.

One challenge for me are my nerves as I proceed into something new, whether that’s within a new element of writing, or all that is involved with self-publishing. So many feelings occur, such as, scared, excited, ‘what if’ doubts, et cetera, and often, all of these feelings at one time. I’m still working on this challenge; however, somehow I know these particular choices I’ve made are right for me.

Marie:  Indie publishing can be quite a challenge…

Well, it was a such a pleasure having you here on the I Love Romance Blog! And how apropos is that, considering what a great story Legend of Song de Light appears to be. Congratulations on your book… ♥

Here is the blurb:

The stories within Legendof Song de Light

connect, unfold, interweave many character’s stories

needs, feelings, desires, dreams

their threads as two crescent moons

connected under the firelights

that layer the chords, and form the lyrics

all of you entered my world as dawn’s awakening sky of soft palette

my garnet heart melted in iridescence to bloom in sun’s rays glow in night’s depth as the stars echo the rhythm of my heart my insides sigh and expand in delight harmonious blend as our lives

circle the melody

Information for the audio book:​  Recorded in Kaitlynzq’s voice with a blend of music like a heart’s wave into downloadable MP3 files.

An audio book which is interwoven in the LovecontuSong de Light Lovecontu series that includes…

Ancient Script of Lovecontu audio poem

Legend of Song de Light audio book

Legend of Song de Light audio play

Lovecontu Song de Light Lovecontu audio set

Hashtag for ​series of interconnected stories: #lovecontusongdelightlovecontu

Vocal Synopsis:​  

Kaitlynzq is also offering us a teaser from the audiobook!

“…I awoke to a sonic dream of rhapsody ensemble, hummingbird wings, and chimes that were the arrangement…”

 

“…Again and again I muted the caution sign, and proceeded with Kamille, but my mind got even more insistent as I thought of telling her…”

 

“…Those chrysanthemums burst a duet of color that are silk to the touch, and bring visions of a certain lady, but I haven’t returned to the garden since that day in May…”

 

“…Dearest Euzy,

Your drum of cashmere footsteps,

harp of silk strings touch,

and velvet flute voice,

Are an ensemble for my heart.

Forever yours,

Edwin…”

 

“…As my imagination worked its magic, I vibrated to a guitar string’s luxurious touch…”

 

“…Dendranthema x grandiflora has layers of petals that caress every fiber of the flower’s center, as my dear Rquhwy’s touch vibrates in my veins to the core of my breath…”

 

“…The room that is partitioned with a fireplace’s heat wave, and holds teardrop flower petals in the corners, flows freely into my heart with each pebble of sand in an hourglass. Wisjvye’s heartbeat radiates…”

 

“…Danseur pulls ballerina into him, their eyes speaking the volumes in their hearts as he lifts her above to hold a cherimey for an eight count. He draws her into him again, and upon her signal, tosses her high in the air for a leatur to land softly in his arms. Danseur reimey, as ballerina performs an intricate ​olor fu de ar, a bea uh li, triple tizpin, turns back to Danseur, and magnifi-gras-se-susay.Danseur catches her right on cue. Joined hand to hand, they geeté,geeté, adream petite into the final trusetluh-es-aglolift, and return encircled with their eyes speaking the volumes in their hearts…”

 

…The developmental process of this collection included the use of a paint brush to add to the photos the undercurrent of feeling within them, and when the four piece panorama is placed side-by-side, a gentle stream is seen that carries this private story…

Intriguing! I’m curious to find out more… 😀

Title:​ Legend​ of Song de Light

Author Name:​​ Kaitlynzq

Genre: Adult​ Literary Fiction, Romance

Purchase Links:

Available to purchase on my Website that is supported by two URL addresses:

https://kaitlynzq.com/

https://kaitlynzq.boutique/

 

Direct Links on my Website to the story:

https://kaitlynzq.com/legend-of-song-de-light-audio-book

https://kaitlynzq.boutique/legend-of-song-de-light-audio-book/

We’ll be sure to get a copy of this adult literary romance! ♥♥♥

About Kaitlynzq

I currently live in Elk Grove, California. My fictional stories are written from the inside view of a character’s interior heart-

that

beautiful, vulnerable, intimate space

feelings, desires, needs, dreams

 

a blend of

 

delicate feather ripples of heart waves

needs, feelings, dreams, desires

quiet, gentle heart strings

tender, continuous

soft, vulnerable air mist

circles, weaves to caress

a sonic sea of heart’s breath

Woven into audio books that are recorded in my voice with a medley of music as a heart’s wave into downloadable MP3 files; audio plays adapted from the audio books, and layered into PDF files like a heart’s song; audio poems that are multiple poems designed to connect to form a story as a heart’s breath; and audio sets that are sets of these interconnected stories with elements from each story that interweave in one another as heart’s wave, heart’s song, heart’s breath.

Works:

And, if you want to know how to connect with the fascinating Kaitlynzq, here are some author links…

 

Here are her video and blog post about this interview…

https://kaitlynzq.com/blog/interviewed-by-marie-with-i-love-romance-blog

 

Once again, I’d like to thank Kaitlynzq, the brilliant author of this romantic audiobook, for stopping by!  It was a pleasure to have you here! Readers, check out her work! ♥

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Filed under audiobook, Authors, Blogging, Book News, Books, Event, Guest Writer, Interview, Literary Fiction, Poetry, Readers, reflections, Romance, Stories, Writing

Blog Tour Feature: Expecting Ty’s Baby by Empi Baryeh

.•*´¨❥¸.•*´¨ NEW RELEASE¸.•*´¨❥¸.•*´¨

Nothing will prevent him from claiming his child or the woman he considers his…

I am pleased to announce a cool book blog tour going on right now, presented by Empi Baryeh, an author I met during my journey! Congratulations on your new multicultural romance! :)

When a new book comes out, it is always an exciting time for authors!

Plus, here at the I Love Romance Blog, we love discovering romance novels!

Let’s hear a little about this great book…

Nice!

This is the blurb for Expecting Ty’s Baby, From Ghana with Love Series, Book 2:

Abandoned by her father at a young age, beauty therapist, Patricia Owusu, has learned the hard way that men can’t be relied on. She’s determined to make it on her own without falling into the cultural trappings of marriage. However, when she finds herself pregnant after a torrid love affair with African-American financial consultant, Ty Webber, she discovers one man’s resolve to stick around.

When Ty discovers Patricia is carrying his baby, he offers marriage; because real men take responsibility for their actions. He isn’t prepared for Patricia’s stubborn determination to make it on her own. But nothing will prevent him from claiming his child or the woman he considers his.

Can Ty convince Patricia to take a chance on him to help provide a loving home for their baby, or will Patricia’s mistrust lead her to miss out on true love and rob her child of the type of father she never had?

Empi is giving us a peek at her hot multicultural romance, Expecting Ty’s Baby, today.

Great cover!

 

Book Info:

Author: Empi Baryeh

Series: From Ghana With Love #2

Publisher: Black Opal Books

Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Multicultural

Heat Level: Sensual

Cover Artist: Kim Killion

Release Date: March 30, 2019

 

Here is an excerpt.

I don’t need taken care of, you know,” Patricia said when they stepped outside. Her voice came out low, a whisper, which nonetheless projected in the still warmth of the night.

After several seconds without a response from him, she turned sideways. He stared ahead, his profile stoic. Finally, she heard his deep intake of breath.

He looked at her, and thunder might as well have struck after the flash of…annoyance? Impatience? Incredulity?

“Are you always on the defensive?”

 Aggravation. Despite the balmy, breezeless air, Patricia shivered. Perhaps she should have been scared, but she wasn’t. Somehow, Ty didn’t strike her as the kind of man whose patience wore thin as easily as wind blew away flakes of cotton. Yet, she also realized she’d pushed a button or two between yesterday and today.

She began to say something, but her response staggered as she realized she didn’t know how to answer his question. She sighed. “It’s always been just me and my mum. I guess I’m simply used to having to stick up for myself.”

His look softened. “Trish, I know you’re a strong woman. Hell, it’s one of the things I admire about you. But did it occur to you I only wanted some alone time with you?”

She couldn’t help it. She giggled. “You could have just said so.”

“In that case, how about this?”

He faced her fully, subjecting her to a powerful blast of his magnetism. Electricity jolted through her, and she realized he’d touched her; warmth infused her body where his hands bracketed her waist.

The next instant, she was plastered against him, her soft abdomen privy to the state of his desire. His heated breath wafted over her face, a mix of him and the whiskey he’d had at dinner. An avalanche of sensations, fierce and unrelenting hit her in the gut.

Then the worst thing happened. The most embarrassing moment of her life.

She threw up.

On him.

For several seconds, she could only stare in horror at her dinner, now a less than palatable concoction splattered on Ty’s clothes and shoes.

He still held her as she doubled over, one hand on her shoulder, the other rubbing her back.

“Trish, what’s going on?” He pushed back a few strands of her braids hanging loose from the confines of her up do.

“I am so sorry,” she said.

“We need to get you to a hospital.”

Crap! Her stomach lurched again, and she figured out what had triggered the emesis. Thankfully, what came out the second time was minimal. She took in a deep breath, exhaling through her mouth. It seemed to help.

Ty held up the bottle of water he’d taken with him from dinner. “Here—”

“Please stop talking,” she gasped, turning away from him. “I need a minute.”

“This could be food poisoning. You need a doctor.”

“I don’t, and it’s not food poisoning. It’s the alcohol.”

“You didn’t drink.”

“No, but you did.”

His features assumed a frown, his confusion absolute. “You’re sick because I drank?”

“I’m not sick. I’m—”

She stopped abruptly, tossing different possible explanations in her head, all of them partial truths. No matter what anyone said, keeping quiet and outright lying were not the same. She wasn’t prepared to do the latter, but she’d spoilt her chances of doing the former.

“I’m…uh.”

His eyes narrowed. “You’re what?”

“I’m…”

Shiiit.

She couldn’t believe she was going to tell him. “I’m pregnant, Ty.”

Purchase Links:

PRAISE FOR EXPECTING TY’S BABY

 Well written, enchanting, and heart-warming, this is one romance fans should love. TAYLOR JONES (Reviewer)

 Poignant, charming, and full of wonderful characters, Expecting Ty’s Baby will warm your heart right down to your toes. A wonderful love story and a worthy addition to the series. – REGAN MURPHY (Reviewer)

OMG! Love all the tension. ♥♥♥

Ooh…what a tale!😉

Empi is giving away a $15 Amazon gift card. The winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter. Please use the link below to enter. Don’t forget you have a chance to enter every day, so be sure to visit all the stops on this tour. You may find those locations here.

Giveaway Link:  https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/537f0b386/

Thank you for telling us about your new multicultural romance, Empi! I know I can’t wait to read this hot novel! 🙂

Readers, don’t forget to pre-order a copy of this awesome book, since it comes out on Saturday! Or add it to your Goodreads list!

And catch book one in the series!

Expecting Ty’s Baby looks great! ♥ We’ll be sure to check it out! Don’t miss the giveaway!

Author Bio

Empi Baryeh is the award-winning author of Most Eligible Bachelor (Book of the year, 2017 Ufere Awards). She writes sweet and sensual African, multicultural and interracial romance, which happens to be her favorite genres of romance to read. Her interest in writing started around the age of thirteen after she stumbled upon a YA story her sister had started and abandoned. The story fascinated her so much that, when she discovered it was unfinished, she knew she had to complete it. Somehow the rest of the story began to take shape in her mind and she’s been writing ever since.

She lives in Accra, Ghana, with her husband and their two lovely kids.

Author Links

Website:  https://www.empibaryeh.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/empibaryeh

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/EmpiBaryeh

Amazon Author Page:  https://www.amazon.com/Empi-Baryeh/e/B007592E12/

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5625111.Empi_Baryeh

BookBub:  https://www.bookbub.com/authors/empi-baryeh

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/empibaryeh/

 

Thank you for telling us about your great book tour! I know readers can’t wait to get ahold of this sizzling romance!

Thanks again to Empi and her blog tour sponsor!

We hope to see you back on ILRB sometime. 

Happy reading, everyone!  ♥♥♥ Have a great week! 😀

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Filed under Authors, Blogging, Book News, Book Release, Books, Contemporary, Event, Fiction, Gifts, giveaway, Multicultural/Interracial, new release, Readers, Romance, Women's Fiction, Writing

Recommended Read: Break My Chains by Nicolina Martin

I know Kevin usually does a review per week, but I couldn’t help jumping in here to talk about the book I just finished last night! ♥ Nicolina Martin’s Break My Chains is so spicy, a little dark, and has enough suspense to keep you going. I just couldn’t put this one down…

I literally stumbled across this novel on Amazon. When I read the sample, it just drew me in and I had to buy it!! ❤

With elements of dark romance, some erotica, and enough suspense to keep the storyline moving, you can’t go wrong with this read. Mia and Martin are such fascinating characters, each tough in their own right. It makes them quite a match, and just adds to the steamy tension. Loved this book…and I don’t hand out five stars easily!
I simply devoured this book! 😀
Book Info:
When nothing is what it seems, who can you trust?

Martin Garrett has sworn to die rather than go back to prison. He’ll stop at nothing to reach freedom, but even he can’t win over the forces of nature. When he gets caught in a violent snowstorm, he has no choice but to seek shelter. He can’t know that the young woman opening the door will change his life forever.

Fleeing her troubled past in Arizona, leaving her loved ones behind, Mia Cassidy has found solace in an isolated cabin in the deep woods of Colorado. She’s hesitant to let the tall, hulking, and oddly attractive stranger into her home, but the storm is lethal. She has no way of knowing this chance encounter will rip her from her cocoon and make her question everything she thought she knew.

Trapped together, their unexpected meeting soon turns into a battle of wills and a fight against the irresistible pull between them. When the fragile trust they’ve built is betrayed, everything comes crashing down. Mia must unravel the secrets and find the truth before it’s too late to save either of them.

Publisher’s Note: This steamy contemporary love story is not your typical wine and chocolates romance. It has a dark edge but if you’re up for the ride there is a guaranteed HEA. It contains elements of mystery, suspense, action, adventure, danger, betrayal, and power exchange.

Universal Reader link: https://books2read.com/u/3LGnwD

Here’s a peek at the book…

Martin Garrett, convicted five years ago almost to the day for committing a heinous series of murders between 2011 and 2013, escaped this morning from Penitentiary Florence High. The details of his escape have not been revealed. Garrett is considered extremely dangerous and caution is recommended. If anyone sees this man…

The whistling from the water kettle drowns out the rest. I’m leaning my elbows on the kitchen counter, staring out the frosted window. A thick layer of snow has covered everything during the night. It’s so white from where I’m standing; I can’t even make out the shapes of the outside world. It’s like someone wrapped a large sheet around my house. I’m not entirely taken by surprise. It’s my second winter here and it gets really cold, and really wintery in Colorado. The difference between Arizona and where I live now couldn’t be greater. Sighing, I move away from the window and take the kettle off the stove. The whistling fades and comes to a stop. They forecasted snow. I don’t think I listened well enough. Pouring the boiling water in the cup, I watch it turn black as the instant coffee dissolves. I stare vacantly at the mug, my thoughts sprawling in every different direction. I need to locate the shovel and find my truck under those masses. I have cans but not a lot of fresh food, so I really need to go into town if I still want bread, milk, eggs, cheese and… I look around me. Fruit. Grimacing, I grab the cup and head off into the living room, which also doubles as office, dining area and hallway. That’d be ‘quadruples as’, I think as I sink down on the chair and set the cup on the table.

As I flip open the lid to my old MacBook it chimes pleasantly, and I realize I forgot to shut it down last night. Again. I yawn, stretch and glance at the clock on the wall. Twenty past nine. The morning passes too quickly and I need to get some work done. I’m helping a local store with some images for marketing, a newspaper ad, some flyers and whatnot. I’ve strayed far, far away from the exhibition at the Etherton Gallery I had when I was twenty-one. When I was young and ‘promising’.

Three years ago.

What happened then was a nightmare I am still trying to wake up from. Pushing the thoughts away, I click on the folder for Farman’s Fishing Lodge. I trekked the woods day in and day out, walking along the river, catching the fine rainbow-colored mist as the water slammed against the rocks in its path downstream. The pictures turned out fantastic. Local flora and fauna, fishermen standing in their yellow pants, the color reflected in the calm surface, sun glittering in tiny ripples. For a few days I was really happy with my choice to move here. The fresh air, the smell of approaching snow, the sometimes near-silence out there.

The tranquility only lasts moments before I return to myself, but I cherish them.

I start sorting the images: by motifs, by colors, by how the sky and the ground harmonize with each other. Choosing a few I intend to show Mr. Waltman, I copy them and begin to toy around with effects.

As I lose myself in work, I don’t register how many hours pass until I notice the corners of the room are darker and that my stomach aches. I study the processed images on the screen. Several of them are everything he asked for, and I hope my client will see it as well. I need the money. Desperately. I stand, straighten my back, and stretch my arms until my hands almost touch the low ceiling, then I close my laptop and head for the kitchen to see if I can find anything that appeals to me.

Armed with canned soup I heated in the microwave, and a bottle of beer, I sink down on the couch and turn the TV back on. I doubt anything interesting has happened in my little corner of the world.

Terrorist attacks in Europe. A gas line leaking in Russia. Price of oil increasing. Some prisoner on the run.

I eat and keep flipping through the channels until I give up and resort to watching a cop show that doesn’t crave my attention. Everything is very dramatic, with shaky camera movements, flashing blue and red lights, men screaming when they’re pushed to the ground, women screaming when their men are pushed to the ground. I study the handiwork of the cameraman. It looks sloppy and haphazard, but he’s really clever in how he switches between objects and with the angles he chooses. I like being surprised by a random TV show.

Dropping the spoon on the table next to the bowl, I lean against the backrest, and stare at the ceiling. It’s made of pine boards, yellowed with age, giving the cabin a dark and moody feel. Then and there I decide to paint it when I get the money from this gig. A soft white should go well with the dark hardwood floor and the cute floral patterns on my couch and armchair. I rub my face and glance out the window. It’s not dark yet and I need to get some of the snow off my porch and make a path to my truck. There’s at least thirty feet to plow to get to the truck, then I have to keep shoveling until I get to where my yard meets the road. I doubt they’ll plow it today, though. Shit. Probably not tomorrow either.

I down the rest of the soup but leave the beer, then I rise. Jack, who’s been sleeping on his rug in the corner, immediately starts panting. He lifts a thick, furry eyebrow and watches me carefully under a heavy, barely open eyelid. Am I going where he thinks I’m going? When I lift a foot to put it in my boot he realizes that yes, I am indeed. Giving off a robust bark, he jumps up with ease, despite his huge body, and trots toward me, his tail wagging eagerly. He puts his snout against the back of my knee and pushes, looking at me pleadingly. I rub him behind an ear as I push my foot into the other boot and tie it.

“Did you think I’d forget you, silly dog?” Grabbing my jacket, I pat my thigh. “Come on!”

Jack doesn’t need to be told twice and lays his paws on the door, reaching up level with my face. He was such a cute little puppy when I took him in, having been abandoned when his former owner died, but Bernese Mountain dogs don’t stay small. He’s my company, my only friend, and my protection. Our long walks every day have healed me somewhat over the year I’ve had him.

As I pull down the handle, he pushes at the door, but is met by resistance. I frown and help him, slowly opening the slit until it is wide enough for us to squeeze through.

With a loud groan I take in the massive cover of snow. It’s gotta be a foot deep. Or more. It’s beautiful. Pure and untouched. But it needs to go.

“Get out there, boy,” I tell Jack and he jumps straight out, giving out a squeal of surprise when the cold white layer hits his belly. I laugh, push the door closed and go in search of the shovel.

After forty minutes there’s a narrow path to the truck, and a visible front window and driver’s door. I’ve had to shove Jack off me over and over, him thinking it’s a game. Panting, and drenched in sweat, I lean on the shovel and study my handiwork, then I lift my gaze to the prematurely darkening sky. The clouds are a heavy dark blue. Menacing. More snow is on the way. Much more. Fuck. I clutch at my burning chest. I’m exhausted, in need of a shower, a good book in front of the fireplace, and then sleep. I pray my hard work won’t be undone come morning.

I call for Jack who is happily jumping around at the edge of the forest and go inside. Pulling the door shut throws us into semi-darkness. Before I head for the bathroom I start a fire. Crumpling pages of old newspapers into little balls, I push them between perfectly dry logs and light them up. Soon orange flames lick the wood, charring it, creating beautiful gleaming serpentines around the edges. I put the cast iron mesh in front of the fireplace, and head for my well-deserved shower.

When I get back out Jack is restless and whining. He paces the room, and starts circling me as soon as he spots me. I have a towel wrapped around my body and dab my hair with another.

“What is it, sweetie?” I crouch in front of him, rub the thick fur on his neck and look around, but nothing seems out of the ordinary. The room has that good, dry warmth that only comes from a lit fireplace. Despite that, a shiver runs through me, and I quickly put on a pair of sweatpants and a flannel shirt. I postpone my own pleasure a little longer and go to give Jack some fresh food. It seems to calm him and soon he guzzles down the canned meat with his usual sloppiness, tail wagging. I give him a pat and, finally, I can sit down again with the intent to do absolutely nothing for the rest of the night. I turn the TV back on and flip through the channels, but then I just mute it and look at the fire instead, drinking my lukewarm beer.

I nearly fly through the roof when Jack suddenly howls, barks, then howls again. He runs to the front door, then back, then in circles. I stand, the hair rising on the back of my neck.

“Jack, boy, what is it?”

He looks at me and whines, crouching, his tail between his legs. Then he jumps up again and runs toward the door, barking.

“Enough!” I go to him and grab the loose skin at his neck, crouching before him as I glance at the silent door. “Shh!”

He’s quiet, but on high alert. I’m quiet too, also on high alert. Holding my breath, I listen intently but hear nothing. I rise and that’s when a loud rap on the door pierces the silence, quickly followed by two more.

Three heavy, ominous knocks.

My heart instantly jumps up in my throat and nearly suffocates me with its wild pounding. No one comes here. Not normally, and most certainly not when the snow is so thick you can’t come unless you are in a tracked vehicle, and they only do that if there’s a medical emergency. If you’re snowed in, you’re snowed in.

Who is out there? I swallow nervously and take a step toward the door when three new loud knocks make me jump. I shake my head at my own suspiciousness. Whoever it is, it must be someone who needs help. Covering the remaining distance, I then press down on the handle and try to push the door open, but it’s jammed again. I manage a couple of inches, then a hand grips the edge and suddenly the door flies wide open.

I stare at the vision before me. It’s a man: tall, wide, covered in snow from top to toe, and with clothes that are way too thin. Even in the faint light I see how blue his lips are. I open my mouth to ask, I don’t know, maybe what he wants, but then I change my mind. Whoever he is, he is clearly in some kind of emergency. Looking out at the wintery night, then back at the yeti before me, I shake my head in disbelief.

“Good God. Come inside!”

He doesn’t need to be told twice and takes a step forward, past the threshold. Towering over me, his hulking appearance dominates the room. I swallow hard and reach past him to close the door. The wind fights me and snowflakes whip in my face. I hadn’t realized it had started snowing again, and blowing. Behind me Jack is letting out a high-pitched noise.

The door slams closed and I turn back to the man. The top of my head reaches to his shoulder. He is gigantic. He has a big, dirty-blond beard, covered in snow. The snow in his eyelashes has started to melt. I have to crane my neck to meet his eyes. He’s frowning, looking down at me with an unreadable expression as he rakes a hand through his hair and shudders.

“Thanks.”

His voice is hoarse, a deep baritone that challenges the sudden silence in the house. I still don’t move, cornered in the narrow space between him and the door. A girl alone letting in a stranger is not a clever move, but what choice did I have? Let him freeze to death?

AUTHOR: Nicolina Martin

TITLE: Break My Chains

GENRE: New Adult Romantic Suspense, Some Erotica, Dark Romance

RELEASE DATE: February 6, 2019

PUBLISHER: Blushing Books Publications

ISBN/ASIN: B07NGQT8LB

OUR RATING: ♥♥♥♥♥

REVIEWED BY: Marie Lavender

Anyway, just wanted to give you my thoughts on this fantastic read! Grab a copy of this new release! 😉

1 Comment

Filed under Blogging, Book Release, book reviews, Books, Contemporary, dark romance, Erotica, Event, New Adult, new release, rating, Readers, Reviews, Romance, Romantic Suspense, steamy, Thriller/Suspense, Writing

Exclusive Interview with author Kimberly Stuart, plus a look at contemporary romance, SUGAR!

Hi, readers! I am pleased to announce a very special post today on ILRB. We’re doing something a little different. This is our seventh official author interview on this romance blog! I know in the past, we did character interviews then switched over to the author’s take on it, but this approach is a bit unusual.

We have a real treat for you, readers. Today we get to speak one-on-one with a talented author of romance novels. Please join me in welcoming Kimberly Stuart to ILRB! 🙂

Marie Lavender:  Hello, Kimberly. Please have a seat.

Author Kimberly Stuart:  Hi, Marie!

Marie:  Hey, it’s such a pleasure to have you here!

I’m going to throw in some standard questions first.

Obviously, we know your occupation as an author, but some writers have other jobs as well. Do you have another occupation? Do you believe you’re any good at it? Do you like what you do?

I know I’m overloading you with questions, but we’re really interested in finding out more about you…

Kimberly:  I am a mom and a writer, most days in that order. I feel very grateful to have both of those jobs and to get the chance to pursue both at once. For the writing gig, I write women’s contemporary fiction, always with sassy humor and a chemistry-driven romance. I like to say that if you like Tom Hanks-Meg Ryan movies, you would like my novels.

Marie:  (Chuckles.) Of course I do! 😉

So, tell us…what is your family like?

Kimberly:  My husband, Marc, is my intrepid and patient co-conspirator. We have been married twenty years. We are parents to two teenagers, one ten-year-old, and the caretakers of a mini Schnauzer who thinks he’s a German shepherd. Our home is a lot of things, but quiet is not one of them.

Marie:  Nice!

Let’s try something else, okay?

If it doesn’t bother you at all, can you let us know what your childhood home looked like?

Kimberly:  I grew up in a brick house at the end of quiet street. My brother, sister, and I had the run of the neighborhood, and we also spent lots of time exploring in a field behind our house. My favorite spot, though, was a white porch swing out front where I could tuck into my pile of library books on summer days. I am a fierce supporter and defender of libraries to this day because libraries let me inhabit all sorts of worlds far beyond that field and that porch swing.

Marie:  Great!

Do you have any hobbies, Kimberly? What do you enjoy doing?

Kimberly:  I still love to read, even though lazy mornings on the porch don’t happen often around here these days. I also love to cook (and eat!), take long bike rides, and I love to force my family to watch 80’s movies. There is simply nothing better than an evening with The Goonies.

Marie:  Sounds like a plan!

So…what is your greatest dream?

Kimberly:  My greatest dream is that my kids would grow up to love God and love others with a ferocious, adventurous, stubborn love. I also dream of a summer spent in Greece and of waking up one day with a phenomenal set of abdominal muscles, but I’m guessing that’s not the root of your question. 🙂

Marie:  (Laughs.) Well, that would be fun! Why not? 😉

Let’s try another question.

What kind of person do you wish you could be? What is stopping you?

Kimberly:  I would like to be the person who can throw open her doors at a moment’s notice and throw lovely, warm, welcoming soirees. What’s stopping me is my need to vacuum.

Marie:  Right? It’s a toss-up between cleaning and writing…writing or blogging usually wins for me.

Not to pry too much, but who was your first love?

Kimberly:  Safe answer: My dad. He’s still my first and most stalwart hero.

Unsafe answer: A boy who was beautiful and kind and lovely, and who broke my heart. He shall remain unnamed because I assume he has access to the internet. 😉

Marie:  (Chuckles.)

All right, let’s try something else now.

What was your dream growing up? Did you achieve that dream? If so, in what ways was it not what you expected? If you never achieved the dream, why not?

Kimberly:  My childhood dream was to become a famous singer. I torched all my sing-alongs to my favorite records in my basement, so I didn’t see why that wouldn’t work out just grand. Turns out, I ended up in a just-as-unlikely career, writing stories for my supper. I do still sing regularly at my church. And in our kitchen.

Marie:  So, who is your role model, Kimberly?

Kimberly:  My grandma. She is strong and gentle, feisty and compassionate. She is 96 years old and who I want to be when I grow up.

Marie:  Lovely!

Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?

Kimberly:  I’m a very poor pretender. The signals are usually pretty spot on, for better or for worse.

Marie:  Me too! I would be terrible at acting.

Let’s try another question.

If you were trapped on a deserted island, what five essentials would you need with you? They don’t have to be practical.

Kimberly:  My husband and four really long books. My husband would be a master survivalist, and we’d be eating grilled fish over a fire within an hour. But he does have one failing: He does not write novels. So I’d have to bring a stash.

(Laughs.) There you go!  😀

Readers, let’s shift somewhat and get the author’s perspective on one of her characters.  🙂

We’ve heard rumors about the heroine of your story, Charlie Garrett. Quite an interesting character. Can you tell us a little about her?

Kimberly:  Charlie is an ambitious, talented pastry chef in a very male-dominated restaurant world. She works insane hours and is unflinchingly focused on her goal of being head pastry chef in a prestigious restaurant.

Marie:  Wow!

What are your character’s greatest strengths?

Kimberly:  She is smart, hard-working, and she’s a born leader.

Marie:  Nice!

And what are her greatest weaknesses?

Kimberly:  She stinks at work-life balance, and she’s too rigid.

Marie:  Okay…

Let’s try something fun, shall we?

What are some of her favorite foods?

Kimberly:  That would be a long list. Charlie loves simple food made well and shared with friends. No white tablecloths, no fancy menu. She gets enough of that at work. Slow roasted pork on corn tortillas, guacamole with big chunks of avocado, and a double layer chocolate cake would be heaven any day of the week.

Marie:  Sounds like the perfect menu! 😉

How about another question?

What’s a positive quality that your character is unaware that he or she has?

Kimberly:  Her tender heart. It’s been ignored a bit since the insanity of culinary school and beyond, but it’s in there. It will just take the right guy to mine it.

Marie:  All right.

Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?

Kimberly:  Mostly like. She’ll make them frustrated at times, but in the end, I think they will be her biggest cheerleaders.

Marie:  Great!

Now that we have a real taste of Charlie, we have a few questions for you as well as the author, about the writing process of your book.

What first gave you the idea for Sugar?

Kimberly:  I am an avid home chef and baker, so I was super curious about Charlie’s life in a high-end commercial kitchen. I spend a lot of months, years even, with my main characters, so it’s important to me that they are interesting enough to hang with them for that long. Turns out, Charlie was a good pick.

Marie:  Nice!

Interesting how the muse works, huh? 😉

Let’s try something else.

What is your writing style like? Are you a pantster or a plotter?

Kimberly:  I started as a pantser, particularly in the years of toddlers, napping, and preschool. There just weren’t a lot of extra moments to plot, and my writing was squeezed out of any time I could find. As I’ve written more, however, I have leaned more heavily into the pre-writing plotting. I like to have a general, skeletal map. I feel like it focuses my writing time and that it enables me to trust the process more fully. Another perk is that I stare less at a blinking cursor, which is always a plus!

Marie:  I know, right?

I’m throwing this one in for our aspiring writers. Did you come across any specific challenges in writing Sugar or publishing it? What would you do differently the next time?

Kimberly:  Oh, boy, yes, there were challenges! Obstacles abounded. It took forever to find a home for Sugar, and that was after I had five published novels under my belt! I thought I’d cleared that hurdle! Not so much. After about eighteen months of my agent shopping it around, I stripped it down to the two main characters and nothing more and started again on page one. It was a great exercise in both humility and tenacity. I learned a lot about why I write and what I want readers to gain from spending time with my stories. I also learned that the hardest-won battles are the sweetest. Sugar found the perfect home, it was picked up by all Target stores nationwide, it has continued to find an audience months after its release, and there is interest from film and TV producers in developing it for one of those media. Its road to publication was messy and circuitous, but I learned so much and I wouldn’t change it if I could.

Marie:  Impressive!

Well, it was a such a pleasure having you here on the I Love Romance Blog! And how apropos is that, considering what a great story Sugar appears to be… ♥

Here is the blurb:

After realizing her coworkers at L’Ombre, a high-profile restaurant in NYC, will never appreciate or respect her, Charlie Garrett allows her ex-boyfriend, Avery Michaels, to convince her to work for him as executive pastry chef at his new Seattle hotspot, Thrill. She’ll have her own kitchen, her own staff—everything she ever wanted professionally.

When she arrives at Thrill, however, she realizes that Avery wanted more than a pastry chef for his restaurant—he wanted a costar for the reality show they’re filming about the restaurant and its staff. Charlie is uncomfortable with the idea at first, but she soon realizes that this is her chance to show the world what women in the kitchen are capable of. She sets some ground rules with the film crew, signs a non-disclosure agreement, and promptly meets the man of her dreams, Kai, off-camera.

The show, and her demanding work schedule as head of the pastry kitchen, makes it nearly impossible for Charlie and Kai to spend time together. Drama on and off the set soon take a toll on Charlie’s well-being, forcing her to choose if life in front of the camera is worth sacrificing life behind the scenes.

Sugar is a contemporary romance, set in the high-pressure commercial kitchens of New York and Seattle. A funny and clever story of how a female chef learns to thrive in the ruthless world of premier restaurants.

Kimberly is also offering us a teaser from the book!

With another shift almost completed, I wondered for the millionth time if the restaurant business attracted a disproportionate number of insane people. I glanced at the oversized clock on the wall and saw the hands reaching for one in the morning—dawn would be creeping into Manhattan in a matter of hours.

Folding a damp towel into a precise square, I took a look around my pastry station. After the scrub job I’d just done, I needed a post intimacy cigarette. I narrowed my eyes and inspected the corners and crevices of the pastry station, looking for any remaining streaks or stains, and then ran my set of scouring toothbrushes under scalding hot water. Satisfied, I turned off the faucet with my elbow and stacked the toothbrushes in rainbow order on a drying rack. Five more minutes and I would be on my way home. The sweat prickling the back of my neck was just starting to cool, and I could practically feel the hot shower that beckoned me from my apartment three subway stops away.

The waitstaff had finished serving the second seating, tidied up, and clocked out. Hours ago, Executive Chef Alain Janvier had abandoned the kitchen of L’Ombre, one of New York’s most prestigious restaurants. Embracing the perks that came with being the boss, he slid home in the comfort of his vintage Corvette. Even many of the line cooks had finished prepping their stations for the following day and had begged off, figuring any loose ends would keep until the next shift. I remained, tottering on exhausted legs and looking like every “before” picture of every TV makeover show, but remaining behind nonetheless. I wouldn’t leave until the job was done. Done and gleaming.

But in one moment, my fantasies of the new body scrub that smelled like pomegranate and jasmine; the promise of a few hours’ sleep in a clean T-shirt that had never seen the inside of a commercial kitchen; the room-darkening shades of my tenth-floor apartment in Soho—all that disappeared. My boss, the talented but unstable pastry chef Felix Bouchard, began yelling his head off. He was on the hunt for blood, and I was unlucky enough to be the first person he saw as he rounded the corner from the storage room.

“Who took my baby?” He spoke with the intoxicating sensitivity of a French serial killer.

Felix Bouchard had graduated with high honors from Le Cordon Bleu, Paris. Before coming to L’Ombre, Felix had worked as pastry chef for a slew of Michelin-starred restaurants in Europe. He had served his famous apple butter crêpes with marsala-laced vanilla sauce to the former president of Yugoslavia. He had been honored twice with a James Beard Award and had been nominated for it many times. Felix was unmarried, had no family to speak of, and hadn’t been to a movie theater in seventeen years. But Felix was not a man without love. In fact, Felix’s love for one particular object was unparalleled.

“Who took my baby?” he said again.

I peered through the metal shelving separating the pastry prep area from the rest of the kitchen. The dishwashers were barely visible in the fog of steam rising from the industrial sinks. Humidity was fierce, and the few of us who remained looked as if we’d survived a tropical Armageddon.

“She is gone,” Felix said. His comb-over had dislodged from under his toque. No amount of Aqua Net could defend against the air of the kitchen.

I snapped shut a container of spindly vanilla beans, marked the container with my trademark yellow painter’s tape, and cleared my throat. “What are you missing, Chef?”

Felix narrowed his eyes at me. In my early days at L’Ombre, before I’d earned the right to boss around a few underlings myself, I’d once saved Felix’s ample arse during a Valentine’s Day disaster by running down the block to Sal’s Grocery to buy a box of sea salt. This was the first in a long line of logistical rescues I had performed on his behalf throughout the many years that followed. His present sneer suggested he had no memory of these events, or of the indentured servitude I offered him every single day.

“Charlie, I am missing my knife. My best knife. My favorite knife. The one gifted to me from the great Jacque Pépin, may God bless his soul!” Felix bowed his head on those last words.

“Did Pépin croak?” Only I heard the muffled voice of Carlo, my favorite and most irreverent of the line cooks as he emerged from the fog over by the dishwashers.

“Chef Bouchard,” I said, “we don’t have your knife. Right, guys?” I turned to the guys on the line. Rudy looked like he wanted his mom. He shook his head of red hair with vigor.

“Not a chance, dude,” Rudy said. “I’m way too scared of you.”

Felix was almost distracted by the compliment. “Thank you. But where is the other line cook? The new one. Blond. Pale. Pimples.”

I turned as Danny came whistling down the hall. He stopped by my side when he saw everyone staring at him.

“Chef Bouchard has lost his knife.”

“I do not lose my knives!” Felix erupted, jowls flushed and quivering. “Someone has stolen my baby. She is six inches long. Nothing is her equal for slicing stone fruits and scoring pâte sucrée!” He started to panic, rummaging around people’s stations, provoking complaints and exhausted tempers.

Danny cussed quietly. He looked shaken. Then he spoke, his voice low and struggling to compete with the noise from Felix’s scavenger hunt. “Chef Janvier asked me to run to the walk-in for butter at the end of the second seating. The carton was sealed . . . and I wanted to get right back to Chef. . . I was in a hurry, so I—”

The kitchen had grown quiet. Felix stepped so close to Danny, he could have hugged him, though that would have violated his personal code of avoiding tender human interaction.

“Why are you whispering?” Felix spoke sotto voce, eyes trained on Danny’s.

Danny pulled a knife from the pocket of his apron and handed it over. “I’m so sorry. I was going to—”

Felix moved too fast for anyone to stop him. His cut was clean and shallow, across the inner, fleshy part of Danny’s forearm.

“Do not touch the baby,” he said, already wiping the knife clean.

A tide of protest enveloped Felix as he ambled back to his corner. The staff was so vocal in their disapproval, no one heard Danny drop to the floor.

****

I scooped the butterfly bandage wrappers into a neat pile and dropped them into the rubbish bin under my counter. Standing over the pastry sink, I scrubbed up again, washing off the smell of the Band-Aids, an objectionable odor that reminded me of the murky depths of public swimming pools. I watched as Danny, still looking pale and squeamish, inspected my handiwork. “The wound is shallow,” I said. I snapped a paper towel off the roll above the sink. “It should heal fine. You don’t need stitches, but I’d still keep it covered, especially when you’re working.”

Danny looked up, his lower lip quivering. “I cannot believe him. What kind of a freak slices open someone’s arm because he wants his toy back?”

I sat on a stool opposite Danny. “The man spends fifteen hours a day crimping and whisking and performing odd rituals, all in the name of pastry perfection. I know it’s no excuse, but conflict management isn’t exactly high on Felix’s list.”

Danny shook his head. “No one in culinary school tells you that the restaurant business can be so . . . so violent!” The poor kid had started at L’Ombre just a few months ago, but already he had developed some sort of heat rash on his neck. Stress, I guessed. I had been out of school for almost a decade, but I might as well have been the kid’s elderly grandmother. Grandmothers had seen it all, and so had I. Right then, I was more impressed with the blister forming underneath one heel of my new chef’s clogs than I was with Danny’s rose-colored view of the world.

Danny inhaled shakily, eyes still on the bandages on his arm. “Psycho. I’m telling Chef Janvier tomorrow.” His eyes sparked with defiance. “I know they’re friends, but he has to see reason. People shouldn’t be able to stab other people at work and get away with it.”

I pondered that statement, my gaze scanning the exposed ceiling pipes above us. “Hypothetically, all of what you say is correct. But unless you can make forty-five covers of sixteen different desserts by tomorrow night, I’m guessing the best you’ll get is a pat on the back and a free pack of cigarettes.”

“You coming, Nurse Garrett?” Carlo called from the back door. “I want to get home before I have to be back in this place.”

“Be right there,” I called back.

Danny frowned as I pulled on my coat. His eyes were somber. “Chef, have you ever been stabbed at work?”

I restrained myself. My first instinct was to laugh at Danny’s question. “No, I have not.” I began buttoning my emerald green wool coat, a recent and indulgent purchase made in an effort to survive the last dregs of this interminable New York winter. “But I have a lovely collection of burns up and down my arms. And once I saw a chef have a nervous breakdown during rush and strip down to a pair of nasty, raggedy red underwear while he sang ‘The Macarena’ to a pot of squid.”

Danny’s eyebrows had lodged up north of his fringe of bangs.

I tugged my bag from my locker and pulled on my mittens. “And, one time during a practicum in culinary school, my favorite pastry prof got so frustrated with a slow student’s pace that he took a ball of kitchen twine and started running circles around her. He had her arms totally pinned before he was discovered by the headmaster and fired on the spot.” I shook my head. “Too bad, because that man made the most exquisite phyllo I’d ever tasted.” When I looked down again, Danny was slumped over my counter, his forehead planted on the stainless steel. I lifted his head with careful hands and slipped a tissue underneath before letting it rest again on my clean countertop. “Go home and get some sleep. Things will look much better tomorrow.”

“It already is tomorrow,” he said, his voice muffled by his arms.

I sighed and felt the arches of my feet object as I walked to the back door where Carlo was waiting. Danny was barely of drinking age and he still had neck acne, but he would learn, just as we all had..

****

Carlo and I forged through the cold edge of early morning, and I was grateful for my warm coat. He was headed to the BM5 bus to Brooklyn, and I was catching the 6 train to my apartment in Soho.

“Poor kid,” I said after walking a block in silence. Carlo grunted. “Hazing. Just part of the game, mamí.”

I nodded from within the cocoon of my woolen scarf. “We have weird jobs.”

Carlo’s laugh sounded more like a bark. He punched me on the shoulder before turning into the wind and walking toward his bus stop. “That is an understatement. Hasta lueguito, amiga.”

“Say hi to Lupe for me,” I called, but I was pretty sure my words were lost in the gust of wind that lifted them away.

****

A scant few hours later, my alarm clock sounded, and I awoke under protest. As I extracted one hand from under my down comforter and reached for the snooze button, I remembered again how much I hated that clock and its Chihuahua-like chime. I shivered and then plunged my hand back under the covers. My eyes felt glued shut, and I was certain I had bags under them. “I’m too young to have bags,” I groaned and turned onto my side. The Chihuahua stared at me with its sleek front piece and cool blue numbers.

“You can’t possibly understand.”

It was time to get up. The day needed a jump start. Wasn’t an active lifestyle supposed to keep a girl alert and stave off senility?

And, I thought as I slipped out from under the covers and slid my feet into my waiting slippers, a date wouldn’t hurt. Half my queen-sized bed remained pristine and untouched after my night’s sleep. I pulled my side taut, tucking the sheets exactly six inches from the headboard and covering that with my favorite Supima cotton blanket, then the down comforter, which had cost me dearly but had retained its shape and gave me four seasons of perfect temperatures. I tugged one of the throw pillows toward the center of the bed and felt the familiar thrill of perfect symmetry. I padded over to my dresser for my first costume change of the day.

I opened the top drawer and scanned through the drawer separators left to right before selecting one item from each section: sports bra, tank, running capris, and socks. My mother’s voice intruded my thoughts as I dressed and laced my shoes.

“You need to worry less about perfection and more about your future. Let’s talk about your eggs, honey,” she’d said on the phone recently. “I’m concerned about your eggs.”

“My eggs? I prefer organic, large, free-range, thanks. And I have at least a week until they expire.”

She’d scoffed. “The eggs in your ovaries, sweetheart. You’re thirty-two, and that is a dangerous age in terms of fertility.”

“Mom,” I tried again, “things are different in New York. I know Amber Murphy just had her fourth—”

“Eight pounds, two ounces. Beautiful baby girl. White-blond hair, just like James.”

“Fantastic, but I don’t live in Minnesota. I live in Manhattan.”

“Well, la-di-da and congratulations,” she said, still completely unimpressed a decade after her daughter had defected from the Midwest to an unknowable and sprawling city with high rent and a rat problem. “I’m just trying to warn you, Charlie, that’s all. I heard a report on Dr. Oz, and I think your eggs are getting crusty.”

I straddled my treadmill and pulled my hair into a pony while waiting for the machine to power up. “Crusty eggs,” I said aloud and then louder, to the Chihuahua, “I have crusty eggs!”

I started running at a faster pace than normal, irritated with the world. I should not have started the day with a pity party. After years of toil and self-denial, my career was finally gaining momentum. Executive Chef Alain had started talking me up to the other cooks. When Chef Andersen from Aqua had visited a week ago, Alain had introduced me as “the formidable and brilliant Charlie Garrett.” Over coffee the previous week, he’d assured me again that Felix was on the cusp of retirement, and that his long-ago promise to me that I would take over as head pastry chef at L’Ombre was just around the bend. Of course, after last night’s debacle with the knife, I might have fallen a notch, but, in general, work was good.

Most days, I could reconcile the fact that I was ticking along in my thirties, nary a man or family in sight, but enjoying the passion and thrill of a job I loved. Of course, there had been sacrifices, I acknowledged as I took a grade 8 hill for a two-minute interval. I gripped the heart rate monitor, noted an excellent anaerobic number, and kept running. One had to sacrifice things like romance and dating and marriage proposals if one was going to go anywhere in the restaurant world.

“It’s totally been worth it,” I panted to the heart monitor, which rewarded me with an increase in beats per minute.

With each stride, I glimpsed the top half of my face in the mirror by the front door as I bobbed up and down. I was going to need a serious Estée Lauder intervention before heading back to the restaurant at noon. Circles under the eyes, sallow complexion, eyebrows in need of disciplinary action—and that was only the top half of my face. I ran faster, watching the numbers on the display pad arch upward and feeling a lovely layer of smugness descend over my foul mood.

“Can a woman with elderly girl parts do this?” I puffed, feeling sweat run between my shoulder blades and down my back. My abs contracted and I felt another swell of victory. Women with supple, baby-making eggs had shitty abs. And they had to work twice as hard for legs that looked good in a miniskirt, right? Of course I was right. I had my abs and my legs, and one day soon I would wear something other than chef’s whites in public and then show off those legs and abs. Maybe I’d put my crusty eggs to work after all.

“Gross,” I said aloud.

I slowed to a jog for a three-minute cooldown and walked on jelly legs to the rug in front of my couch and sat down on my yoga mat. I tucked my feet under the linen fabric of the couch and started crunching. There! See! I exclaimed as I exhaled with each crunch. The couch was one tailored and Scotch-guarded example of what a little sacrifice can garner a girl. While my job at L’Ombre was not about to afford me a house in the Hamptons, I did fairly well. Well enough to be able to buy a linen couch and six accent pillows with real down inserts. I noted all this as I completed my forty-fifth crunch. And, I also had a complementary, but not matchy-matchy, set of armchairs in a midnight blue chevron, thank you very much. Not to mention a spot in a neighborhood that was still up-and-coming. I had shed the woes of my closet-sized studio three years prior, and my linen couch and I were doing very well with the adjustment to spacious clean lines and exposed brick.

One hundred. I lay back on the yoga mat, listening to my heavy breathing. My hands rested on my midsection, and I was pleased to feel how flat things remained after taste-testing fourteen variations of our new éclair a few days prior. I rolled onto my stomach and pushed up into plank, then started in on my push-up regimen. I watched the timer on my iPhone count down as I started my first set of twenty in thirty seconds. I couldn’t imagine this was doing me any favors in the bust department as I glimpsed my schoolgirl offerings flattened by my sports bra. I was deliberating over the relative advantages of having Michelle Obama arms over breasts that would need something more than a training bra when my phone rang. I startled, dropping to the floor and fumbling for the phone. I picked up when I saw the ID.

“Hey,” I said, turning on speakerphone and going back to plank position. “I’m doing push-ups.”

“Dang,” Manda said. “I was hoping you were having sex.”

“I don’t do that anymore. Plus, I would never answer the phone under such conditions, not even for you.” Fifteen, set two, sixteen, set two . . .

“You’re panting. Stop panting and talk to your best friend.”

“No,” I said. “Twenty-four push-ups to go.”

“How about stopping early just this once?” She was quiet while I ignored that ridiculous suggestion. “Okay, then. Well, I won’t keep you, but I thought I’d call before the day ran off its tracks, as it most certainly will. . .” I could hear commotion in the background and then heard Manda again. “Wait—hold on—Zara, no! Rubber cement is toxic. No! . . . Dane, honey, keep your diaper on until Mommy can help you. Clean hands are happy hands. Come on, ruffians, let’s have breakfast.”

I made a face when I considered exactly what was on Dane’s little hands. If the past was any indication, they were things that might eventually start to sprout or mold. I stared at the phone, momentarily worried that such virile germs could pass through a telecommunication system like little, super smart terrorists.

“Wait.” I let myself drop to the mat and glanced at the clock. “Why are you calling me so early? Isn’t it like 5:30 a.m. in Seattle?”

Manda sighed. “Oh, to be young and frivolous with time once again.”

“We’re the same age.”

“But you are single and childless. And frivolous with time. Nevertheless, you have to make time for a very special phone call today.” Her voice had taken on the sing-song quality all humans adopted when getting ready to set up their lonely single friends with other lonely single friends.

“Who is it? Bald? Divorced? Yoga instructor?”

“None of the above, thank you very much.” I heard one of Manda’s three progeny scream bloody murder in the background. “Oops. I have to go. Might be blood. I’ll call you later. He said he’d call you after work tonight. Don’t forget one word! Remember every part of the conversation.”

I used the edge of the couch to do some tricep raises. “Who’s going to call?”

I could hear the smile in Manda’s voice. “Avery Malachowski.”

“Whaaat? Why? How? Where did you see him?”

“He’ll tell you all that.”

I was losing her, I could tell. The duration of an average phone conversation prior to Zara’s birth five years before was two hours, twenty-one minutes. Since the onset of lactation, the average call was down to four minutes, thirty-four seconds. “Bye! Everyone say ‘Bye, Auntie Char!’”

She clicked off in the middle of the kids’ warbling, and I held the phone, still breathing hard from my workout.

I hadn’t thought about Avery Malachowski in nine years, though I’d thought plenty about him in the months leading up to those years. He and I had lost touch after finishing culinary school together—he disappearing into the shiny, happy restaurant scene of southern California and me diving into the shark tank of New York City. We’d toyed with the idea of continuing our relationship, one of us piggybacking on the other’s opportunity and looking for a job on the coast we didn’t want. But we’d parted ways, not too sadly, as I recalled, as we were both fiercely ambitious and primed to conquer the culinary world.

I took a ferocious pull on my water bottle. Avery Malachowski, I thought as the water level dipped. The last I’d heard of Avery, he was working as a sous chef on a cruise ship. I wrinkled my nose, remembering all the news reports of cruise passengers being pummeled with stomach viruses. I untied my laces and walked barefoot into the kitchen to grind some fresh coffee beans. I put the fine grind into the waiting glass carafe, and, as I watched the coffee brew, it occurred to me that Avery might be in town. Maybe he was fishing for a date or a drink when his ship docked or whatever it was that cruise ships did. Did cruise ships even dock in Manhattan? That kind of behavior sounded distinctly New Jerseyish.

My phone vibrated to announce a text. Manda had taken a screen shot of her Facebook exchange with Avery and had typed above, “See! He’s dying to see you! Yearning! I think the word is yearning!”

The Facebook conversation merely showed Avery’s request for my number, nothing about a marriage proposal or running away together. Manda was not getting enough sleep if she seriously thought a few words on social media meant promises of undying love.

I did a double take as I looked at the clock. I cursed as I sprinted to the shower, leaving my French press to over-steep and my dirty socks on the kitchen floor, two transgressions that would bother me throughout my hasty shower.

By the time I had my hair swept into a work chignon and my workbag slung across my winter coat, I had only a second to scoop up my phone and tuck it into my pocket, where it would sit, neglected, until after midnight.

Whoa! I’m curious to find out what happens next… 😀

Purchase Links:

Universal Reader link:  https://books2read.com/u/bo789R

Target:  https://www.target.com/p/sugar-hardcover-kimberly-stuart/-/A-51497805

IndieBound:  https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781510714137

We’ll be sure to get a copy of this contemporary romance! ♥♥♥

About Kimberly Stuart

Kimberly Stuart grew up in Iowa, where she learned to be snobbish about corn on the cob and good storytelling. She is the author of eight novels, many of them set in the Midwest, including her most recent, Heart Land (Howard/Simon & Schuster, 2018). Her books have been featured in Cosmopolitan, Huff Post, and Chicago Sun-Times. Stuart has a passion to write chemistry-driven, smart romance that requires a reader neither to leave her brain at the door nor to visit a confessional after turning the last page. She is a frequent public speaker, a current Iowan but one-time Nebraskan, and is passionate about helping others live and write great stories. She makes her home in Des Moines, where she lives with her brave husband and three wily children.

Books:

And, if you want to know how to connect with the fascinating Kimberly Stuart, here are some author links…

 

Once again, I want to thank Kimberly Stuart, the brilliant author of this contemporary romance, for stopping by!  It was a pleasure to have you here! Readers, check out her work! ♥

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