Category Archives: Guest Writer

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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Filed under Authors, Blogging, Book News, Books, characters, Contemporary, Event, Fiction, Guest Writer, Interview, Readers, Romance, Women's Fiction, Writers, Writing

A Character Interview with Dylan from LYRICAL EMBRACE plus a conversation with author Amber Daulton!

Today, we’re doing something a little different. If you remember, we interviewed Annabelle Anders’ character last week, and it was so fun that I thought we may as well make an occasional habit of it. I had the pleasure of meeting Amber Daulton, the author of Lyrical Embrace, on my author journey and I asked if I could borrow a character, Dylan Haynes, from the book. We’ll get a chance to talk to Amber in a bit, but now we have on the stage…Dylan!

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

Character Dylan Haynes:  Thank you for the invite, Marie.

Marie:  It’s my pleasure!

We’re going to start out with some simple questions, all right?

Dylan:  Sure.

Marie:  So, what is your occupation? Are you any good at it? Do you like it?

Dylan:  I’m an ex-professional drummer for an indie rock band, and now I’m a teacher at my parents’ music school, Haynes Music Academy, in Willow Springs, Vermont. I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but I’m an excellent drummer. I love teaching kids how to play instruments, and I feel pride in their success.

I’m also a volunteer fireman. After so many years of partying and having fun, I wanted to do something good and give back to the community where I’d come from. Being a fireman and EMT helps me accomplish that goal.

Marie:  Nice! 😀

So, tell us…what is your family like?

Dylan:  My parents are great, as are my older brother and sister. I’m the baby in the family, but they’ve all learned that I’ve grown up and I expect to be treated like an adult. I’ve made some mistakes, true, but they’re supportive and always in my corner.

Marie:  Great!

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

Dylan:  My parents had bought and renovated a rundown two-story Victorian house, founded the school, and lived upstairs. For most of my childhood, I grew up in the apartment above the music school. I loved it since I was able to play the drums and other instruments whenever I wanted. After my grandparents died, we moved across town to their house and rented out the apartment. I hated that at first, but I eventually got used to having my own room away from Birley, my brother.

Marie:  All right.

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

Dylan:  As I said before, I’m a helluva drummer, but I also play several other instruments. Playing any kind of instrument is a great way to relax and let off some steam. Besides that, I like to hike in the Green Mountain National Forest. Erica and I sometimes do that together. I also fish with my dad and brother.

Marie:  Okay.

So, what is your greatest dream?

Dylan:  I’d always wanted to become a famous musician, but my dreams changed when I was on that path of making it come true. I didn’t like the person I was turning into when I was touring and performing with Fortune’s Glory, my band. The drugs, alcohol, and groupies distracted me from the music, so I quit before I ever got close to reaching stardom.

My greatest dream now is simple, and I already have it. I have a good, clean job and a loving woman at my side. Life couldn’t be better.

Marie:  I see…

Okay, I’m going to throw another random question at you now. 

Who was your first love?

Dylan:  Erica. She’s everything to me. Yeah, I had some girlfriends in high school and I slept with the groupies I met in clubs, but I never fell hard for any of them. None of them ever knew the real me, who I was inside. Erica was different. She called me out on my bullshit and drew me in. I’m lucky I found her.

Marie: (Sighs.) I love romance…♥

So…not to be a downer, but I do have a pretty deep question next.

What’s the most terrible thing that ever happened to you?

Dylan:  One of my former band mates, Jackie, was heavy into drugs. I tried to convince him to get help, but he refused and always got so pissed at me when I mentioned it. After I quit Fortune’s Glory, which contributed to the band’s later breakup, Jackie overdosed on heroin and died. My band mates blamed me for his death since I left the band. I know I’m not at fault for Jackie’s actions, but I wish I had done more to help him. It’s one of my biggest regrets.

Marie:  😥 Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that about your friend. That’s rough…

Let’s move on to something a bit lighter now, shall we?

[Dylan nods.]

So, who is your role model, Dylan?

Dylan:  Don’t have one. There are lots of bands and musicians I like and respect, but I don’t strive to be like any of them, not anymore.

Marie:  Okay.

Now, you’ll probably think I’m digging for dirt on the next question. 

Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?

Dylan:  No, not really. I teach a great group of kids at the academy, and the men and women I work with at the fire department are brave, levelheaded people.

Marie:  Awesome!

Let’s try another question.

What is your deepest desire?

Dylan:  To protect Erica. She’s been through some physical and emotional abuse at the hands of her ex-boyfriend, and I want to make sure nothing like that ever happens to her again.

Marie: Oh, no…how awful! 😥 

And your greatest fear?

Dylan:  Erica’s ex is now serving time behind bars, but I worry he’ll come after her when or if he gets out of prison. He already tried to kidnap her, and I’m afraid he’ll succeed next time around. No matter what happens in the future, I’m going to be with Erica and will do what I can to keep her safe.

Marie: It’s understandable for you to feel that way.

I’m glad you were comfortable enough to tell me everything.

Well, it looks like we’re out of time. Thank you for visiting us today, Dylan. It was so interesting getting to know you!  🙂

(Waves goodbye to her guest.)

Now, let’s shift over and get the author’s perspective. We have author Amber Daulton on the stage today. It’s such a pleasure to have you here! Hello, Amber!

Author Amber Daulton:  Hi, Marie! Thank you for taking the time to interview me.

Marie: Of course! I love to have authors on ILRB. 😀

So, we just got to talk to a male character from your story, Dylan Haynes. Quite an interesting character. Can you tell us about him?

Amber:  Dylan is a fun guy. He’s down-to-earth, levelheaded, and genuine. He’s made some mistakes, sure, but who hasn’t? Unlike a lot of people, he’s learned from those mistakes and wants to live a better life.

Marie:  Nice!

What are your character’s greatest strengths?

Amber:  His ability to care about someone. Dylan volunteers as a firefighter because he wants to help people. It doesn’t matter to him if you’re a friend or a stranger. If you’re in trouble, he’ll be there.

Marie:  How admirable!

And your character’s greatest weakness?

Amber:  Erica. He’s a sucker for her.

Marie:  Lovely to hear… ♥

Let’s try something fun, shall we?

What are some of Dylan’s favorite foods?

Amber:  He loves his mom’s creamy vegetarian penne casserole, and he made sure I added the recipe to the end of his book.

Marie:  Yummy! 🙂

How about another question?

Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?

Amber:  Dylan felt like an object when he was drinking and partying with the band, but he feels more human back in the real world. I think readers will be able to sympathize with that. His job, his dream really, had changed him, and he became what other people wanted him to be. It took a lot of courage for him to break out of that dangerous cycle. A lot of readers have probably experienced something like that in their own lives, so hopefully they’ll like and understand Dylan.

Marie:  I’m sure they will!

Now that we have a real taste of Dylan, we have a few questions for you as well as the author.

What first gave you the idea for Lyrical Embrace?

Amber:  I love small town romances, especially ones with an edge and a little bit of danger weaved in. When plotting this story, I first pictured a young woman running away from the big city to escape her abusive boyfriend. I mostly write contemporary and romantic suspense, so this idea worked.

I also love stories about music and rock stars, but I don’t like the cheating and drugs that go along with the lifestyle. I haven’t published a story featuring a musician yet, so I figured I should get on the ball and do it.

Despite the dark undertones, this story is fun, uplifting, and hot. The characters are real and flawed. I really enjoyed writing it, and I hope readers will love it.

Marie:  Isn’t it fascinating how the muse works? 😀

Let’s try something else.

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

Amber:  I always plot out each chapter and scene before I start writing, but sometimes the characters take over and derail my plan. When that happens, I usually go with the flow and let it take me wherever, but eventually I have to whip the characters back into gear and force them to follow the plot I’ve established.

Marie:  (Laughs.) Aww…what’s the fun in that? I think sometimes the characters know best. 😉

How about another question?

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

Amber:  Lyrical Embrace is book four in the Deerbourne Inn series, a multi-author collaboration of stories from The Wild Rose Press. The biggest challenge in writing this story was hammering out the details with the series coordinators and with the other authors writing for the series. Everyone has their own ideas, so we had to work together and tweak descriptions or names to make sure everything flows from one story to the next. The only thing I would do differently next time is be more direct when asking questions in the series forum.

Marie:  Sounds like a plan!

Congrats on your latest release! ♥

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 Lyrical Embrace appears to be.

Readers, you will just have to pick up a copy of this romantic suspense by Amber Daulton, a very talented author! :)

Here is the blurb for Lyrical Embrace, book four of the Deerbourne Inn Series:

Out-of-work violinist Erica Timberly decides enough is enough. She leaves her abusive boyfriend and flees the big city, but then her car breaks down in the middle of the night. Though wary of men, she accepts help from Dylan Haynes, a stranger driving by on the road, and soon recognizes him as the sexy former drummer of her favorite indie rock band. Maybe, just maybe, her run of bad luck is finally turning around.

Music teacher Dylan Haynes knows Erica is in trouble, and her black eye is only the first clue. The stubborn yet vulnerable woman needs a friend, but he’s determined to give her everything she deserves.

Will Erica listen to the music in her heart and trust Dylan, or will her past always threaten her future?

Amber is also offering us a little excerpt from the book!

Dylan deepened the kiss and lightly tugged on her bottom lip. Tears streaked his flushed cheeks as he smiled at her. “I’m so grateful I found you, baby. I heard you screaming. When I saw that bastard press a gun to your head, my heart nearly exploded. I thought I might lose you. I promise you, Erica, I will never control you as Phil did. You will always have the ability to choose. I just want to make you happy.”

She gripped his hand and brushed her lips across his calloused knuckles. “I know. You do make me happy. You took a bullet for me.” A sob constricted her throat, but she pushed it down.

A blast of noise rent the air. Fireworks filled the sky, visible in the alley from the narrow stretch of space between the buildings.

Erica loved the bright colors and designs, but hardly cared about watching the spectacle. She dropped her gaze back to Dylan.

A grin spread across his face. “It’s been one wild Fourth of July. Why don’t we do something more low-key next year? How about no guns and crazy exes? Just us, the creek, and a bottle of wine. Clothing optional.”

She laughed softly, amazed he could make light of the situation. “That sounds perfect. Absolutely perfect.”

And a teaser!

Ohh! ♥♥♥ Love it! Can’t wait to read this book and find out what happens…🙂

Purchase Links:

Universal Reader link:  https://books2read.com/u/m2xRlj

Publisher:  https://catalog.thewildrosepress.com/all-titles/6484-lyrical-embrace.html

Add it to your Goodreads bookshelf:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43225610-lyrical-embrace

Link to the series on Amazon:  https://amzn.to/2NEtkdS

What are people saying about Lady Saves the Duke?

I REALLY LOVED LYRICAL EMBRACE. I AM A BIG FAN OF SMALL TOWN STORIES. THEY FEEL MORE REAL AND BELIEVABLE AND I LOVE HOW THE TOWNSPEOPLE LOOK OUT FOR ONE ANOTHER. LYRICAL EMBRACE WAS SUCH AN EMOTIONAL AND SWEET ROMANTIC READ. AMBER DID AN EXCELLENT JOB SHOWING WHAT AN ABUSED WOMAN GOES THROUGH AND FEELS. I LOVE THE CONNECTION THAT ERICA AND DYLAN HAVE. IT WAS INSTANT CHEMISTRY AND ATTRACTION.” – Victoria Zumbrum, Amazon

Ms. Daulton has crafted a well thought out story of two people who need one another to heal the hurts of their pasts. Physical and emotional abuse isn’t something often tackled in light contemporary romance stories, but Daulton has done an excellent job of showing the power of love to heal wounds and scars that often in time don’t heal. I highly recommend this book. It’s a wonderful addition to the series.” – Margaret-Mary Jaeger, Amazon

Heartwarming, touching and brilliantly crafted! Lyrical Embrace is an absorbing, character-driven novel that immerses you in a beautifully written tale about letting go of the past, forgiving one’s self, surviving, taking chances and moving on.
The writing is vivid and eloquent. The characters are flawed, supportive, lovable and real. And the story is the perfect mix of hope, heart, drama and steamy hot moments.
Overall, I found this to be an engrossing story that reminds us that life is often a messy journey complete with pain, tears, smiles and happiness.
” – Meredith W., Amazon

 

We’ll be sure to get a copy of this small town romantic suspense! ♥

About Amber Daulton

Amber Daulton is the author of the romantic suspense series Arresting Onyx and several standalone novellas. Her books are published through The Wild Rose Press and Books to Go Now, and are available in ebook, print on demand, audio, and foreign language formats.

Amber lives in North Carolina with her husband and four demanding cats. Feel free to visit her at http://www.amberdaultonauthor.blogspot.com.

And, if you want to know how to connect with the amazing Amber Daulton, here are some author links:

Blog/Website:  http://www.amberdaultonauthor.blogspot.com

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/amber.daulton.author

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/AmberDaulton1

Pinterest:  http://pinterest.com/amberdaulton5/

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

Amazon Author Page:  http://amzn.to/14JoZff

Goodreads:  www.goodreads.com/author/show/6624921.Amber_Daulton

BookBub:  https://www.bookbub.com/profile/amber-daulton

Smashwords:  https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/amberdaulton

LinkedIn:  www.linkedin.com/pub/amber-daulton/87/538/368

Book Gorilla:  https://www.bookgorilla.com/author/B00ALQITWY/amber-daulton/kcc

Publisher:  https://catalog.thewildrosepress.com/2362_amber-daulton

 

Once again, I want to thank both of our guests, Dylan, a male character from Lyrical Embrace, and Amber Daulton, the brilliant author of the book, for stopping by! It was a pleasure to have you here! 😀

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Filed under Authors, Book News, Book Release, Books, Character Interview, characters, Contemporary, Event, Fiction, Guest Writer, Interview, music, new release, Readers, rockstar, Romance, Romantic Suspense, small town, Writers, Writing

Exclusive Interview with author Scarlett Holloway, plus a look at MC romantic suspense, POLICY OF TRUTH!

Hi, readers! I am pleased to announce a very special post today on ILRB. We’re doing something a little different. This is our sixth 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 Scarlett Holloway to ILRB! 🙂

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

Author Scarlett Holloway:  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…

Scarlett:  I am a superhero by day. No, really. I swear. At least that is what my clients tell me. I am a massage therapist that specializes in aromatherapy and Eastern Chinese Medicine. I also focus on prenatal massages. I love it and honestly wouldn’t change my career for anything. And I like to pretend that I am an author at night. LOL.

Marie:  (Chuckles.) So, tell us…what is your family like?

Scarlett:  Crazy. LOL.  Am I allowed to say that? 😛 Honestly, I have an amazing family. My husband is my Superman. He’s a stay at home Dad that helps me with my massage business and pushes me to write, while maintaining the home life, and let me tell you, he can cook some mean bacon!

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?

Scarlett:  Which one? I moved around A LOT. My father was in the military, so we didn’t stay in one place for very long. When we did stop for a bit, I lived with my grandmother. It was a quaint house with a HUGE backyard that my twin and I played in with my cousins.

Marie:  Okay.

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

Scarlett:  Sad to say, I really don’t. I mean, I make my own bath salts, scrubs, et cetera. That is kind of a hobby, even if it directly relates to work. I race my car when I get in the mood to compete. Otherwise, I’m pretty boring. I write, massage, watch Maury & Jerry and movies. LOL.

Marie:  Doesn’t sound all that boring to me!

So…what is your greatest dream?

Scarlett:  I want to be a NYTBS author and I would love to see one of my works on the silver screen. That, to me, is the biggest dream/goal that I could ever achieve.

Marie:  I’m with you there! ♥ Having a film based on one of my books would be awesome. I think that’s pretty normal for a writer, though. We imagine these scenes in our heads, and would like to see them come to life. 😉

Let’s try another question.

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

Scarlett:  I am happy with who I am. I’m a mom, a healer, an author, a friend, wife…I couldn’t ask for anything more.

Marie:  Great!

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

Scarlett:  It’d be a toss-up between Shaun Cassidy or Donny Osmond. I grew up in the 70’s and I had so many posters and records of them, it was crazy.

Marie:  All right.

Let’s try something else now.

What’s the most terrible thing that ever happened to you?

Scarlett:  I had a massive heart attack at 42 years young and died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. I was in emergency surgery a week later and woke up in the middle of it. I was a paramedic for 20 years, so seeing my heart on the monitor freaked me out at first, but when I woke back up, it was interesting in a medical sense.

Marie:  Yikes! 😥 I’m so sorry you went through all of that. But I am glad you survived it.

Let’s move on to something a bit lighter now, shall we?

[Scarlett nods.]

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?

Scarlett:  I have not yet achieved it. Ever since I was little, I’ve always wanted to write for Harlequin Romance. My grandmother’s nose was ALWAYS stuck in one of their books and it made me want to be a part of that world. Then she gave me her old books, which I literally swallowed whole, and solidified that dream even more. I don’t write in the right genre to be a part of the HQR world, but one day, you never know.

Marie: True! 😀

(Sighs.) Like you, I just love romance… ♥

So, who is your role model, Scarlett?

Scarlett:  Hmm…good question, really. It would have to be someone like Lynda Carter, Elizabeth Taylor, and Lucille Ball. Very classy women who struggled in life until they became great and remained so humble and sweet.

Marie:  Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?

Scarlett:  I think there is a person in everyone’s life that we end up feeling that way about. Sometimes it is just better to keep our mouths shut and smile for the better of it all.

Marie:  Good point…

Let’s try another question.

What is your deepest desire?

Scarlett:  There are a lot of things that I’d love to have, but being an author, desire has an almost evil connotation. People will do almost anything for what they desire and it can cause damage, so I tend to try and stay away from that.

Marie:  Understandable.

Tell me something, Scarlett. What is your greatest fear?

Scarlett:  Failure. It’s not an option. I cannot handle the thought of failure; it will put me into a deep depression and even near an anxiety level.

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

So, I want to try something different next… 

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

Scarlett:  Music would be one. I cannot live without that. Coffee, it’s a must have for me to survive. My laptop with a solar battery because I’ll get bored and need to write. A tent and bedding. I CANNOT stand getting wet or cold. A stuffie to talk to and have keep me company.

(Laughs.) I would need to write too!  😀

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, Tamra ‘Durty’ Simons. Quite an interesting character. Can you tell us a little about her?

Scarlett:  Durty is from a very prominent family in Shadow Falls, California. Her grandfather founded the town with another gentleman, so she is held at a higher expectation with her father. She fails to meet that, and is all but disowned from the family. She ends up in a relationship that is abusive and murderous. Lace, the president of an all-female motorcycle club, saves her and sets her back on her feet.

Marie:  Wow! 😥 What a rough journey…

What are your character’s greatest strengths?

Scarlett: She is very organized and can be diplomatic, when she wants to be. She tends to be careful with things she does, unless she is pushed too far.

Marie:  All right.

And what are her greatest weaknesses?

Scarlett:  She won’t let go of past mistakes. She has a temper and it can bite her in the butt.

Marie:  Okay…

Let’s try something fun, shall we?

What are some of her favorite foods?

Scarlett:  She likes meat and potatoes. She might be upper classed, but has down home tastes.

Marie:  Can’t blame her there! 😉

How about another question?

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

Scarlett:  Quick thinking. Even if it is right or wrong, she is quick to think on her feet.

Marie:  Cool!

Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?

Scarlett:  They will love her, and it’s because of the things she must overcome and endure to do it.

Marie:  Great!

Now that we have a real taste of Durty, 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 Policy of Truth?

Scarlett:  I wanted a book that showcased beautiful, real and strong women. There aren’t enough books out there that give this quality to REAL women. Every character is someone I know, so it will showcase them in a positive manner.

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?

Scarlett:  I have a very raw writing style. I write like we talk, if that makes sense. I HAVE to plot. I cannot sit at a computer with no idea what I am doing. I give props to pantsers.

Marie:  I know, right?

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

Scarlett:  I walked away from Policy for over a year. I couldn’t feel it, didn’t want to touch it. IF someone does not feel a book, step away from it, write something else, but remain productive. When it is time, walk back to it. You don’t want to force a story because the readers will be able to tell. You won’t regret it, trust me.

Marie:  True enough!

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 Policy of Truth appears to be. Congratulations on your latest release… ♥

Here is the blurb:

Five years ago, Tamra “Durty” Simon’s life was falling apart, and she had a one-way ticket to six-feet under. And if it hadn’t been for the Death’s Angels Motorcycle Club swooping in, dusting her off, and transforming her into the badass biker she is today, she’d be taking a dirt nap. Now, she has everything she ever wanted–or so she thought.

Brett “Sting” Jackson is on a mission, and nothing is going to stop him–not even the sexy, enticing female biker who makes him hard with a single look. Too bad he’s lying and keeping secrets from her. But the alternative could get her killed, and that’s not a risk he’s willing to take.

It took Sting crashing into her life to make Durty realize there’s something else in this world she wants to ride as hard as her bike–too bad fate has other plans for them. When a rival club makes a move against the Angels, all hell breaks loose. Lives will be lost, secrets will be revealed, and lies will be exposed. Because in the motorcycle world, lies may get you hurt, but the truth can get you killed.

Scarlett is also offering us a teaser from the book!

“Choke-a-hoe.”

“You into strangling prostitutes now, Viper?” Lace glanced sidelong at the female sitting next to her, the corner of her lip curling enough to mimic a slight smile.

“No,  smartass. I’m about to create a new Navajo Tribe if this bitch doesn’t get here soon,” Viper said.

Lace turned to look at Viper, her black brow cocked as she gazed out from under her pink and purple bangs. The two had known each other for several years,  so it was easy to see the irritation growing in her friend. That’d be a new one for the history books. Lace chuckled inwardly. Chokahoe. Good Lord. “She’ll be here. No strangling today, Boston.”

“Boston?” Viper crinkled up her nose in confusion.

“Yeah, the Boston Stran—nevermind.”

Viper blew a strand of copper hair out of her two-toned eyes, sticking out her tongue as she turned her head to bat her lashes at Lace.

“It’s too fucking hot to be sitting in this damn Jeep, waiting for what?” Flames sucked down more of her slushie, the slurp reverberating through the space.

Movement caught Lace’s attention from outside the vehicle, forcing her to look up. “There she is.” She pointed with the uplift of her chin as she fumbled with the door handle.

The girl making her way toward them wasn’t what Lace expected. She’d done her research into Tamra Simons of Simons Realty, and her picture did no justice. Tamra was five foot five inches—five foot eight in her heels.

Medium length, wispy auburn hair with dark red highlights, hid the round face from view, as did the aviators covering her eyes. She wasn’t too skinny, but healthy and had an infectious glow about her. A pale pink suit skirt showed off short, shapely legs, and a white silken blouse with a light cotton blazer completed the ensemble.

“Tamra?” Lace leaned her jean clad hip against the hood of the Jeep, crossing her arms over her chest.

“That’d be me, Ms. Beck.” Tamra stuck out her hand.

“Lace, please.” She shook the realtor’s hand and motioned toward the building. “I’m ready if you are.”

Viper swung open the passenger door, almost falling as she rolled out of the cab. “Oh my god. It’s about damn time. We were about to roast in there.”

Flames followed, hopping out of the back, smoothing down the front of her shorts. “You ought to know by now, chica, wear shorts when you know we’re going somewhere with Lace.”

Lace glanced over her shoulder at the two, rolling her eyes. “Suck it up, ladies. We have a building to look at.”

Following Tamra to the warehouse, Lace studied her silently. There was something off about her.

“This location is about ten thousand square feet.” Tamra glanced at the trio, and then unlocked one of the splintered wooden doors, swinging it open as it groaned loudly in protest, and motioned them inside. “It’ll work out perfectly for a quaint little bistro.”

Lace chuckled as she stepped past the realtor, cringing as her boots crunched on broken glass when she passed through the doorway, the sound echoing through the empty building. She waved a hand in front of her face as a foul, dank smell assaulted her nose. “This won’t be a quaint bistro.”

Viper snickered as she hip bumped Lace, placing a Blow-Pop into her mouth. “This is a fucking dump. We really had to drive over thirty minutes and wait an hour in the blistering heat, when there were plenty of abandoned shit holes closer to town? I mean, seriously?”

Leave it to Viper not to beat around the bush.

The inside of the building looked like it was ransacked by a group of ferocious rioters that belonged to the spray paint club of the year—or like it was gang banged by a box of crayons. Tables were broken—some looking as if someone was pile-drived into the middle of them; mirrors shattered, the tattered pieces strewn about the warped floorboards, which appeared to have taken on the Biblical flood. The bar looked like it’d been lit on fire, charred and split apart in several places. The trailer park paneled walls were scrawled on with various obscenities and the roof needed help as well.

Lace thought it was perfect.

Flames groaned.

Clicking her tongue ring against her teeth, Lace settled her hands on her hips as a slow smirk formed on her lips. She had no clue what Flames was groaning about, this place was abso-fucking-lutely perfect, and no, it wasn’t quaint—at all.

“Shit.” Flames nudged Viper. “She’s doing that clicking thing. We’re fucked.”

Viper snorted and tossed her hair over her shoulder, raising a single brow to Lace. “Yup. I can see the wheels turning. We’re screwed worse than an altar boy at confession.”

Lace came close to bursting out in laughter when Tamra’s jaw dropped. Sighing, she frowned, turning toward Tamra. “You answer a question truthfully, and I’ll buy this place.”

“Ex-excuse me?” Tamra said. Clearly, she wasn’t used to dealing with clients like Lace. “We haven’t even discussed a price. Or what you want to do with the place. I thought you wanted a bistro.”

Lace waved her hand dismissively. “Something like tha—”

“Money isn’t shit when it’s something Lace wants,” Viper said. “So, answer the question already. Oh, shit! I think I just saw a fucking roach wielding a machete.”

“Deal?” Lace stared expectantly at the realtor.

Tamra nodded, rolling her bottom lip between her teeth.

She hadn’t taken off her sunglasses but even without eye contact, Lace could read the woman’s face. “So, how long has he been hitting you?”

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

Purchase Links:

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

We’ll be sure to get a copy of this MC romantic suspense! ♥♥♥

About Scarlett Holloway

Growing up on the Central Coast, Scarlett Holloway always dreamed of seeing her name on the cover of a book and on the New York Times Best Seller List. What better way than to bring part of her past onto the pages of a novel, as well as writing about issues that women face on a daily basis? When she is not in her bunny hole writing, she is a massage therapist, trying to help people through therapeutic healing. Scarlett is hopelessly devoted to her husband, who she lovingly calls her plot bunny, and is active in her teenage son’s life.

Books:

Coming Soon:

Available Now:

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

 

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

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A Character Interview with Abigail from LADY SAVES THE DUKE plus a conversation with author Annabelle Anders!

Today, we’re doing something a little different. If you remember, we interviewed David Russell’s character last week, and it was so fun that I thought we may as well make an occasional habit of it. I had the pleasure of meeting Annabelle Anders, the author of Lady Saves the Duke, on my author journey and I asked if I could borrow a character, Abigail Wright, from the book. We’ll get a chance to talk to Annabelle in a bit, but now we have on the stage…Abigail!

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

Character Miss Abigail Wright:  Thank you for allowing me to visit, Marie.

Marie:  It’s my pleasure!

We’re going to start out with some simple questions, all right?

Abigail:  Of course.

Marie:  So, what is your occupation? Are you any good at it? Do you like it?

Abigail:  I’m taking care of my parents in their home. Am I good at it? I hope so. I’ve disappointed them greatly. Do I like taking care of them? Some aspects, yes. Others, not so much. I wish they appreciated me a little more, but I won’t fall into self-pity over it. I’ve been a trial for them.

Marie:  Okay.

Tell us…what is your family like?

Abigail:  My mother takes to her bed often enough and my father drinks. I’m an only child but I have a wonderful cousin, Penelope! She is also my best friend.

Marie:  😦 That must be tough to handle, but I’m glad you have your cousin.

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

Abigail:  Not a large estate, by any means. It’s been in my father’s family for years. Since he failed to produce a son, however, it will pass to a distant relative eventually.

Marie:  All right.

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

Abigail:  I love to sew. What do I enjoy doing? Singing in the church choir. Visiting neighbors. Assisting those in need.

Marie: Nice!

So, what is your greatest dream?

Abigail:  To see my children again. (Spoiler alert!)

Marie:  I see…

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

Abigail:  A good mother. A good daughter. What is stopping me? My own gracelessness. And bad luck. I seem to have an abundance of that.

Marie: Aww. Surely not…

Okay, I’m going to throw another random question at you now. 

Who was your first love?

Abigail:  Alex, of course.

Marie: (Sighs.) I love romance…♥

So…not to be a downer, but I do have a pretty deep question next.

What’s the most terrible thing that ever happened to you?

Abigail:  I cannot say. It is not something one ever speaks of.

Marie:  😥 All right…I’m sure there’s a story here, but I won’t push.

Let’s move on to something a bit lighter now, shall we?

[Abigail nods.]

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?

Abigail:  To be a mother, a wife. Have a loving family. Did I achieve that dream? Of course! This is a romance, isn’t it? 😉

It was better than I could have hoped for. Unfortunately, it was also worse than I ever imagined.

Marie:  Intriguing…

So, who is your role model, Abigail?

Abigail:  Ah…perhaps Penelope? But, mostly any person who lives an upstanding life and is happy and loved.

Marie:  Sounds good to me!

Now, you’ll probably think I’m digging for dirt on the next question. 

Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?

Abigail:  No. I like everybody.

Marie:  Let’s try another question.

What is your deepest desire?

Abigail:  To hold my children.

Marie: And your greatest fear?

Abigail:  Being alone and unloved.

Marie: That’s understandable. I think a lot of people feel that way.

I’m glad you were comfortable enough to tell me everything.

Well, it looks like we’re out of time. Thank you for visiting us today, Abigail. It was so interesting getting to know you!  🙂

(Waves goodbye to her guest.)

Now, let’s shift over and get the author’s perspective. We have author Annabelle Anders on the stage today. It’s such a pleasure to have you here! Hello, Annabelle!

Author Annabelle Anders:  Hi, Marie! Thank you for taking the time to interview me.

Marie: Of course! I love to have authors on ILRB. 😀

So, we just got to talk to a female character from your story, Abigail Wright. Quite an interesting character. Can you tell us about her?

Annabelle:  Abigail always tries to do what is best. She doesn’t expect much for herself.

Marie:  Okay.

So, what are your character’s greatest strengths?

Annabelle:  Unfailing optimism.

Marie:  Nice!

And what are your character’s greatest weaknesses?

Annabelle:  The same. Her optimism.

Marie:  Oh, I see… 😦

Let’s try something fun, shall we?

What are some of Abigail’s favorite foods?

Annabelle:  Abigail likes sweets. As a spinster she doesn’t deny herself when they are offered. She doesn’t see the point.

Marie:  Sounds delicious!

How about another question?

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

Annabelle:  Strength of character. The ability to always see the best in people.

Marie:  All right.

Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?

Annabelle:  I think everybody likes Abigail. Because even though she seems like a goodie two shoes, she’s not afraid to grab hold of a chance a happiness when it’s offered her.

Marie:  Awesome! 😀

Now that we have a real taste of Abigail, we have a few questions for you as well as the author.

What first gave you the idea for Lady Saves the Duke?

Annabelle:  It picks up from a scene in A Lady’s Prerogative. My mind filled in parts of that scene and the book was born.

Marie:  Isn’t it fascinating how the muse works? 😉

Let’s try something else.

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

Annabelle:  Keeping the story moving. Am I a pantster or a plotter? Pantser.

Marie:  How about another question?

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

Annabelle:  Everything went pretty well. I’m finally getting this figured out. LOL.

Marie:  Well, I’m glad! There are definitely some confusing parts of the publishing journey!

Congrats on your latest release! ♥

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 Lady Saves the Duke appears to be.

Readers, you will just have to pick up a copy of this historical romance by Annabelle Anders, a very talented author! :)

Here is the blurb for Lady Saves the Duke, book three of the Lord Love A Lady Series:

The duke must decide.  Should he make this mouse a respectable offer?  She’s harmless, really. Marrying her shouldn’t upend his life…  

Miss Abigail Wright, disillusioned spinster, hides her secret pain behind encouraging smiles and optimistic laughter. Self-pity, she believes, is for the truly wretched. So when her mother insists she attend a house party–uninvited–she determines to simply make the best of it…until an unfortunate wardrobe malfunction.

Alex Cross, the “Duke of Ice,” has more than earned the nickname given him by the ton. He’s given up on happiness but will not reject sensual pleasure. After all, a man has needs.

The week ought to have been pleasantly uneventful for both of them, with nature walks, parlor games, and afternoon teas on the terrace…but for some inferior stitchery on poor Abigail’s bodice.

And now the duke is faced with a choice. Should he make this mouse a respectable offer and then abandon her to his country estate? She’s rather pathetic and harmless, really. Oughtn’t to upset his life whatsoever.

His heart, however, is another matter…

Annabelle is also offering us a little excerpt from the book!

“I am going to count to three, very slowly. You must take your leave while you have the chance, Your Grace, for if you are still here by the time I have finished counting, I warn you that I shall accept your proposal and you will leave here an engaged man. I only have so much self-discipline, you see, and part of me sees you as quite the answer to all of my problems.

“I am warning you…

“One…

“Two…

“Two and a half…” Oh, lord, he still had not moved.

Abigail dropped her hands. “Three,” she said.

Ohh! ♥♥♥ Love it! Can’t wait to read this book and find out what happens next…🙂

Purchase Links:

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

Add it to your Goodreads bookshelf:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43557465-lady-saves-the-duke

Link to the series on Amazon:  https://amzn.to/2VOlZvi

What are people saying about Lady Saves the Duke?

“I want to praise Annabelle for writing a curvy heroine with stretch marks and all. We need more like this.” – from the Sassy Book Lover Review Blog

 

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

About Annabelle Anders

Married to the same man for over 25 years, I am a mother to three children and two Miniature Wiener dogs. After owning a business and experiencing considerable success, my husband and I got caught in the financial crisis and lost everything; our business, our home, even our car.

At this point, I put my B.A. in Poly Sci to use and took work as a waitress and bartender.
Unwilling to give up on a professional life, I simultaneously went back to college and obtained a degree in Energy Management.
And then the energy market dropped off.
And then my dog died.
I can only be grateful for this series of unfortunate events, for, with nothing to lose and completely demoralized, I sat down and began to write the romance novels which had until then, existed only in my imagination.
I am happy to have found my place in life.
Finally.

And, if you want to know how to connect with the amazing Annabelle Anders, here are some author links:

Blog/Website:  http://www.annabelleanders.com/

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

https://www.facebook.com/groups/AnnabellesReaderGroup/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/AnnabellReadLuv/
Amazon Author Page:  https://www.amazon.com/Annabelle-Anders/e/B073ZLRB3F/

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16889537.Annabelle_Anders   

BookBub:  https://www.bookbub.com/profile/annabelle-anders

 

Once again, I want to thank both of our guests, Abigail, a female character from Lady Saves the Duke, and Annabelle Anders, the brilliant author of the novel, for stopping by! It was a pleasure to have you here! 😀

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Filed under Authors, Book News, Book Release, Books, Character Interview, characters, Event, Fiction, Guest Writer, Historical, Historical Romance, Interview, new release, Readers, Romance, Writers, Writing

Heroes & Heroines Special Feature: Character Erica Timberly from LYRICAL EMBRACE by Amber Daulton

Hi, readers! I am beyond pleased to announce a very special post today on ILRB. Recently, I asked authors to come to the blog with a little background into their characters. Exactly what is it about them that keeps a writer up at night, composing those romance novels we love? I wanted to dig deep into each of these characters. Today is the next post in this series.

So, without further ado, let’s turn the mic over to author Amber Daulton, who has some things to say about her character.

Hi, Amber! Describe one of your main characters and why he or she impacts the story.

 

I love small town romance books, especially ones with an edge and a little bit of danger weaved in. When plotting this story, I first pictured a young woman running away from the big city to escape her abusive boyfriend. I mostly write contemporary and romantic suspense, so this idea worked. I think a lot of readers can sympathize with such a situation, especially those who have experienced neglect.

Erica Timberly is a compelling character because she’s a normal, everyday woman. She could be any one of us, just passing us by on the sidewalk. Countless women, and men too, are involved in toxic relationships with people claiming to love and care for them. They often feel trapped or believe they don’t deserve anything better in their lives. I wrote this story because abuse is a fact of life for so many people, and I hope, if they read it, they will find some hope and encouragement.

For Erica, her mother died when she was a teenager, so she had to live with her father and his new family. She still harbored resentment toward him for ruining her parents’ marriage, so she never felt as though she belonged in his household, surrounded by his new wife and kids.

After she left home for college and found a job, she met a man and fell in love with him. Little did she know, he was all show and no substance, and she soon found herself stuck in a bad relationship. Despite the hitting and name-calling, Erica still possessed an inner fire, but it was growing weaker day by day. Believing her boyfriend would eventually snap and kill her, she broke free before it was too late. It took courage to just pack up her car and hit the road, not knowing where she was going and with no one to turn to. Desperate for a fresh start, she wound up stranded in the little town of Willow Springs, Vermont. Luckily for her, the townsfolk welcomed her with open arms, and she finally found a man worthy of her.

Everyone deserves a happy ending and a chance to heal, whether that means breaking a dangerous cycle of wrong choices, reuniting with loved ones, or moving on from past hurts. You may have a bumpy road ahead, but all you can do is try.

Too right, Amber! I was once in a nightmare relationship, so I know the hell of trying to climb out of it. 😥
Well, let’s learn more about the novella, shall we, readers?
Here is the blurb for Lyrical Embrace, book four of the Deerbourne Inn Series.

Out-of-work violinist Erica Timberly decides enough is enough. She leaves her abusive boyfriend and flees the big city, but then her car breaks down in the middle of the night. Though wary of men, she accepts help from Dylan Haynes, a stranger driving by on the road, and soon recognizes him as the sexy former drummer of her favorite indie rock band. Maybe, just maybe, her run of bad luck is finally turning around.

Music teacher Dylan Haynes knows Erica is in trouble, and her black eye is only the first clue. The stubborn yet vulnerable woman needs a friend, but he’s determined to give her everything she deserves.

Will Erica listen to the music in her heart and trust Dylan, or will her past always threaten her future?

And Amber is giving us a peek at her novel!

Dylan deepened the kiss and lightly tugged on her bottom lip. Tears streaked his flushed cheeks as he smiled at her. “I’m so grateful I found you, baby. I heard you screaming. When I saw that bastard press a gun to your head, my heart nearly exploded. I thought I might lose you. I promise you, Erica, I will never control you as Phil did. You will always have the ability to choose. I just want to make you happy.”

She gripped his hand and brushed her lips across his calloused knuckles. “I know. You do make me happy. You took a bullet for me.” A sob constricted her throat, but she pushed it down.

A blast of noise rent the air. Fireworks filled the sky, visible in the alley from the narrow stretch of space between the buildings.

Erica loved the bright colors and designs, but hardly cared about watching the spectacle. She dropped her gaze back to Dylan.

A grin spread across his face. “It’s been one wild Fourth of July. Why don’t we do something more low-key next year? How about no guns and crazy exes? Just us, the creek, and a bottle of wine. Clothing optional.”

She laughed softly, amazed he could make light of the situation. “That sounds perfect. Absolutely perfect.”

Purchase Links:
Universal Reader link:  https://books2read.com/u/m2xRlj
The Deerbourne Inn Series:  https://amzn.to/2NEtkdS

 

Wow! I definitely want to know what else happens in this book! ♥♥♥

How fun to learn about your romantic suspense, Amber! I know I can’t wait to read it! 🙂

Pick up your copy of Lyrical Embrace today! Or add it to your Goodreads bookshelf, readers!

Thank you for stopping by with your fascinating guest post, Amber! Lovely to have you here! ♥
 
Guest Bio

Amber Daulton is the author of the romantic-suspense series Arresting Onyx and several standalone novellas. Her books are published through The Wild Rose Press and Books to Go Now, and are available in ebook, print on demand, audio, and foreign language formats.

Amber lives in North Carolina with her husband and four demanding cats. Feel free to visit her at her website.

Author Links

Website/Blog:  http://www.amberdaultonauthor.blogspot.com

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/amber.daulton.author

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/AmberDaulton1

Amazon Author Page:  http://amzn.to/14JoZff

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6624921.Amber_Daulton

Google+:  https://plus.google.com/u/0/+AmberDaulton

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

Pinterest:  http://pinterest.com/amberdaulton5/

BookBub:  https://www.bookbub.com/profile/amber-daulton

Smashwords:  https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/amberdaulton

LinkedIn:  www.linkedin.com/pub/amber-daulton/87/538/368

Book Gorilla:  https://www.bookgorilla.com/author/B00ALQITWY/amber-daulton/kcc

Publisher:  https://catalog.thewildrosepress.com/2362_amber-daulton

 

Thanks again, Amber, for giving us a peek into the world of your character. Intriguing! 😀

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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Filed under Authors, Blogging, Books, characters, Contemporary, Event, Fiction, Guest Writer, Message, music, Readers, rockstar, Romance, Romantic Suspense, small town, Writers, Writing

A Character Interview with Selene from SELF’S BLOSSOM plus a conversation with author David Russell!

Today, we’re doing something a little different. If you remember, we interviewed Kat Schuessler’s character last week, and it was so fun that I thought we may as well make an occasional habit of it. I had the pleasure of meeting David Russell, the author of Self’s Blossom, on my author journey and I asked if I could borrow a character, Selene, from the book. We’ll get a chance to talk to David in a bit, but now we have on the stage…Selene!

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

Character Selene:  Thank you for having me, Marie.

Marie:  Of course! It’s my pleasure!

We’re going to start out with some simple questions, all right?

Selene:  Sure.

Marie:  So, what is your occupation? Are you any good at it? Do you like it?

Selene:  I’m an upmarket journalist, and I feel I have proved myself by my brainpower and tenacity.

Marie:  Okay.

 

So, tell us…what is your family like?

Selene:  Rather stern, authoritarian and self-righteous, but with a strong sense of justice.

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

Selene:  Very spick and span; they always made me tidy up my chaos.

Marie:  I see.

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

Selene:  Lots of sports, writing, music.

Marie:  Nice!

So, what is your greatest dream?

Selene:  To be free from material care, to have the run of a palace, to have a tryst with an intellectual, body beautiful.

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

Selene:  I would like to be warmer, more outgoing, and more spontaneous.

Marie:  I hear ya there! In real life, I have my introverted moments…

Okay, I’m going to throw another random question at you now. 

Who was your first love?

Selene:  Someone I knew at university, with whom I was rapidly disillusioned.

Marie:  Oh, I’ve been through that kind of thing. 😦

So…not to be a downer, but I do have a pretty deep question next.

What’s the most terrible thing that ever happened to you?

Selene:  An abortion.

Marie:  Oh, no! 😥 Sorry to hear you experienced that…

Let’s move on to something a bit lighter now, shall we?

[Selene nods.]

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?

Selene:  I guess I wanted to be a tycoon or a megastar. I didn’t get that far, but I feel I’ve made a fair success of my life.

Marie:  All right.

So, who is your role model, Selene?

Selene:  I have several – Eva Peron, Hilary Clinton, Kate Winslet, Madonna, Virginia Woolf.

Marie:  Okay.

Now, you’ll probably think I’m digging for dirt. 

Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?

Selene:  I have had associates and rivals in my working life whom I have had to admire, but whose vicious side is very apparent.

Marie:  Yikes! :/ That’s unfortunate…

Let’s try another question.

What is your deepest desire?

Selene:  For all humanity to hold me in loving memory.

Marie:  And what is your greatest fear?

Selene:  A crippling injury.

Marie:  Okay.

I’m glad you were comfortable enough to tell me everything.

Well, it looks like we’re out of time. Thank you for visiting us today, Selene. It was so interesting getting to know you!  🙂

(Waves goodbye to her guest.)

Now, let’s shift over and get the author’s perspective. We have author David Russell on the stage today. It’s such a pleasure to have you here! Hello, David!

Author David Russell:  Hi, Marie! Thank you for taking the time to interview me.

Marie: Of course! I love to have authors on ILRB. 😀

So, we just got to talk to a male character from your story, Selene. Quite an intriguing character. Can you tell us about her?

David:  She is the sort of woman who has always fascinated me – aloof, mysterious, reflective, inhibited.

Marie:  Okay.

So, what are your character’s greatest strengths?

David:  A cool, clear, analytical mind, a sense of circumspection.

Marie:  And your character’s greatest weaknesses?

David:  She is sometimes unable to act spontaneously.

Marie:  Let’s try something fun, shall we?

What are some of Selene’s favorite foods?

David:  Avocados and pasta dishes.

Marie:  Great!

How about another question?

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

David:  Psychic vision.

Marie:  Wow, love it! 😉

Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?

David:  Some readers have expressed the deepest admiration for her courage and determination; others have expressed a dislike for her apparent coldness and cynicism. Some have said they were fascinated by her fictional role, but would not like to meet her in real life.

Marie:  (Chuckles.) She sounds complicated!

Now that we have a real taste of Selene, we have a few questions for you as well as the author.

What first gave you the idea for Self’s Blossom?

David:  A female writer friend of mine wrote a sizzling romance which inspired me. The title was evoked by the idea of a beautiful experience, through which a character could blossom forth.

Marie:  Cool.

Let’s try something else.

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

David:  Definitely a pantster.

Marie:  How about another question?

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

David:  This work had several editions. The first was as a limited edition (50 copies) paperback. When that publisher folded, I still had the Word doc file, and had a succession of e-book publishers. The last of these went out of business, so I regained the copyright. All my titles are now online under my name.

Marie:  Glad it’s working out now! ♥

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 Self’s Blossom appears to be.

Readers, you will just have to pick up a copy of this erotic romance by David Russell, a very talented author! :)

Here is the blurb for Self’s Blossom.

A romantic, erotic tale of a vivid portrayal of the quest for the inner truth, empowerment and sexual liberation of Selene, a woman searching for primeval abandon and reckless adventure. Intelligent, a university graduate and a successful careerist, Selene became emotionally scarred by unhappy relationships. Riled and taunted through the years by her former college roommate Janice, Selene gave in to the long-term desire to ‘get one back’ at Janice by having a passionate holiday encounter. Immediately drawn to the sea and enthralled by its brutal yet sensual waves, Selene seduces a young boy on a deserted beach. Once she comes to meet the mature and powerful Hudson, Selene finally begins to claim her sensual destiny. Through a slow process, accentuated by Selene’s shyness, introspection and circumspection, she embarks on a long and elaborate interplay of leading on and rejection. The volcanic passion builds until there is a blazing row. A possible drowning, the final ritual undressing at long last, leads to the ultimate flowering of the woman Selene was meant to be. Included in Self’s Blossom are: Blossom Reburgeoning Selene, a little older but still well-preserved, decides to retrace the steps of her holiday. Up-to-date in spirit, she procures a companion through the internet, and in the key scenes, she opts for alternatives to the choices she made on her first expedition. She feels enriched by her experience, and her sense of satisfaction removed her inhibitions from expressing her bisexuality. Spatial Dimensions Selene becomes so fascinated by the Moon Goddess that bears her name, that she imagines and wills herself into becoming a goddess, to go on an ethereal quest, embracing space and time travel, with concomitant ecstatic fulfillment. Sci-fi embraces ancient mythology!

David is also offering us a great excerpt from the book!

Healthy fatigue, laced with a dash of depression, clouded over her. Maybe that first encounter with the ocean had been premature. Now, in sharp contrast to it, the “synthetic” warmth of the “artificially” fresh shower was really welcome. After changing into a pale-blue diaphanous negligee, she washed out and rinsed her daytime clothes. There were ample towel rails to hang them in the bathroom; they would soon dry in this heat. There was a sun ray lamp near the bed―somewhat gratuitous, she thought. But it certainly showed that they provided all mod cons here. Lying on the bed, she flipped through a few pages of her guidebook before partly dozing off.

Half asleep, she pondered on the aura she projected. She knew how good her body was, toned up by lots of squash and swimming at her health club. Yes, she should have worked in a bit of time at the solarium too. But the gadgetry was right there in her room to speed up the healthy, natural processes. Over the years, she had gone so far towards creating a magnetic but practically unassailable image. It had grown easy for her to deter any undesired approaches from civilized men while sustaining their admiration and their cooperation as safe escorts. And for those not so civilized, her implicit, ever-latent venom and a ready supply of other admirers to play off against the troublesome had always proved satisfactory. On this holiday, she was convinced that she would not be so safely and comfortably outnumbered. Strangely enough, this thought heartened her. It was essential for her to have some comparables, some implicit rivals around―women of beauty, grace and vitality―so that she could get a fair, clear sense of her own measure. That foursome had given her a taste of what she wanted. All fantasies should be put to the test with scrupulous honesty.

As the sky turned a deep purple, seared by the moon’s beaming clarity, Selene’s room expanded. The walls pulled back, the ceiling rose, and the floor lowered to make a gigantic suite, richly carpeted and curtained in the deep, late twilight. There were lots of tables and cupboards but plenty of room to maneuver. With a flourish of the deep-green curtains, her young, slim, tanned lover tiptoed in through the balcony window, wearing khaki shorts and a white singlet. Selene unbuckled the shorts and pulled them down, stripping him down to black bathing trunks so that he, in style, could help her off with her rustling, glistening, shimmering ball gown. With gentle, knowing hands, he undid her back zip and then turned to face her. He unclasped the waist to part the airy dress until gravity drew it down to caress the carpet as a parabola, a floral parachute. Two-way unrobing, active and passive interlocked by two pairs of deft hands, while in the background, in reverie, water lapped, linking dream and wakefulness. Dreams can be worked out and realized, she thought. If things are well prepared and drawn out, the most could be made of them. The way could be paved for every touch. Grateful for her full wardrobe, Selene could hold herself in reserve until the time was ripe. She knew how to take her time with what she did and what she showed, control it all completely. Full-dress, half-dress, undressall the garments she had she could use to draw, to thrust, and to parry. Let nobody approach her who was not adequate, nor let anyone fail to respond to her or cool his response in a way she did not care for.

All these thoughts invigorated Selene, and a full-length mirror called her to practice her postures. The negligee fell aside. On went her dark-blue, lacy underwear, a pale-blue slip, and over it, her evening dress. She moved around gently, making the dress rustle, then swirled on her left foot. The skirts rose high; her shapely limbs feasted her eyes at three angles. After the rise and fall, she undid it with ease, stepped over it to avoid crushing and picked it up and returned it to its hanger. The underwear was laid neat and flat on the bedside chair. Irons and airing cupboards could singe and scald if turned up too high, but within their limits, they formed a prelude and a backdrop to the finest caresses.

As the neon-looking sun ray lamp played with her skin, thoughts of him wafted again into Selene’s mind. Whoever it was, she sensed that she had seen him already without fully registering him. At this very moment, he must be surveying himself in an identical mirror―slender, muscular and lovely, proud and supple in his new trunks, making ready for the hotel pool or for the private beach, to meet for their first tense introduction in undress. A telepathic answer must be given to that gesture. Selene snapped off the lightnot wishing then and there to see herself fully nude in the mirror. She dived into the drawer, reaching for her mauve, one-piece bathing costume. This she pulled on, feeling an exhilarating double sense of revelation and concealment. On went the light again. Now she would be the adjudication panel of her own beauty contest. The costume smoothed the curves and magnetized what it covered. Her exercising had paid off. Her beauty was near completion in her own eyes. Tomorrow, maybe, the real process would begin. She changed back into her negligee, accepting its allure and functional comfort. Tomorrow she would appraise the selection. There were, perhaps, different standards of men fitted for affairs of briefer or longer durationa sliding scale of transitory compatibility.

And some teasers!

Sizzling! ♥♥♥ Can’t wait to read this book…🙂

Purchase Links:

Universal Reader link:  https://books2read.com/u/m0MKzy

Add it to your Goodreads bookshelf:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7844461-self-s-blossom

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

About David Russell

b. 1940. Resident in the UK. Writer of poetry, literary criticism, speculative fiction and romance. Main poetry collection Prickling Counterpoints (1998); poems published in online International Times. Eco poetry collection, An Ever River, published by The Palewell Press, 2018. Main speculative works High Wired On (2002); Rock Bottom (2005). Translation of Spanish epic La Araucana, Amazon 2013. Romances: Dreamtime Sensuality I & II: Explorations; Further Explorations; Pearlman, Self’s Blossom – all available on Amazon. Self-published collection of erotic poetry and artwork, Sensual Rhapsody, 2015. Singer-songwriter/guitarist. Main CD albums Bacteria Shrapnel and Kaleidoscope Concentrate. Many tracks on You Tube, under ‘Dave Russell’. Editor of online magazine Poetry Express Newsletter, produced by Survivors Poetry and Music.

And, if you want to know how to connect with the amazing David Russell, here are some author links:

Website/Blog:  http://davidrussell-author.blogspot.com/p/blog-page.html

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/david.russell.777158

Amazon Author Page:  https://www.amazon.com/David-Russell/e/B0043NEBI2/

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7182827.David_Russell

 

Once again, I want to thank both of our guests, Selene, a female character from Self’s Blossom, and David Russell, the brilliant author of the novel, for stopping by! It was a pleasure to have you here! 😀

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Filed under Authors, Blogging, Book News, Books, Character Interview, characters, Contemporary, Erotica, Event, Fiction, Guest Writer, Interview, Readers, Romance, Writers, Writing

A Character Interview with Josh from THINK OF ME plus a conversation with author Kat Schuessler!

Today, we’re doing something a little different. I know it’s been a while since we did one of these. If you remember, we interviewed Maggie Blackbird’s character back on November 1st in 2018, and it was so fun that I thought we may as well make an occasional habit of it. I had the pleasure of meeting Kat Schuessler, the author of Think of Me, on my author journey and I asked if I could borrow a character, Josh Hartnell, from the book. We’ll get a chance to talk to Kat in a bit, but now we have on the stage…Josh!

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

Character Josh Hartnell:  Thank you for having me, Marie.

Marie:  Of course! It’s my pleasure!

We’re going to start out with some simple questions, all right?

Josh:  Sure.

Marie:  So, what is your occupation? Are you any good at it? Do you like it?

Josh:  I am a police officer on the Cuyahoga Falls police force. I like to think I’m good at it, and I’m learning more every day because my partner is a sergeant. And to answer the last question, I love my job.

Marie:  Great!

So, tell us…what is your family like?

Josh:  I have no siblings but my parents are the best in the world. I also have a four year old daughter, Sammy.

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

Josh:  It was pretty normal. Three bedroom, two story house, crocheted blankets on every couch and chair, swing set in the yard. We also had a piano in the living room because my mom plays. She tried to teach me but I lack any sense of rhythm, so that lasted about a week.

Marie:  (Chuckles.)

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

Josh:  I love to listen to music and watch movies. I have an entire wall of shelves filled with movies. I especially love classic movies with powerhouse women in them. I admire their strength and their ability to move on after horrible things happen to them.

Marie: Nice!

So, what is your greatest dream?

Josh:  My greatest dream isn’t really about me; it’s that Sammy is able to grow up and succeed in whatever she wants to do.

Marie:  (Nods.) I see…

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

Josh:  I’m actually very happy with who I am right now. I lived through something terrible and managed to keep my sanity. Hell, I saved my daughter’s life. That makes me proud to be who I am.

Marie: Admirable!

Okay, I’m going to throw another random question at you now. 

Who was your first love?

Josh:  My first love was Vivien Leigh. Her portrayal of Scarlett O’Hara made me fall hard when I was nine years old. Oh, you meant someone who I’ve actually met? I guess that would be my freshman girlfriend, Julie Hammond. We dated for a few years but things just didn’t work out.

Marie: All right.

So…not to be a downer, but I do have a pretty deep question next.

What’s the most terrible thing that ever happened to you?

Josh:  My ex-wife attacked Sammy and myself when Sammy was two. I won’t go deep into details, you’ll get those when you read the book, but basically she thought I was cheating and lost her fucking mind.

Marie:  Yikes! :/ Sorry to hear that…

Let’s move on to something a bit lighter now, shall we?

[Josh nods.]

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?

Josh:  My dream was always to be in the criminal justice system, either as a cop or a lawyer, but mostly as a cop. Obviously, I achieved that dream, and it’s not at all like I thought it would be. As a kid, I guess I thought cops were allowed to do whatever they wanted, which is clearly not true, but it’s not like I want to do a lot of illegal stuff so I’m okay with the limitations.

Marie:  (Chuckles.) So, who is your role model, Josh?

Josh:  My role model is my partner and lieutenant, Jason James. He has been there for me relentlessly for years and has dealt with his own heartbreak over the years.

Marie: Okay.

Now, you’ll probably think I’m digging for dirt on the next question. 

Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?

Josh:  Besides a couple of my mom’s annoying friends, not really. I’m fairly accepting of most people so unless they’re a complete ass, I don’t have a problem.

Marie:  Let’s try another question.

What is your deepest desire?

Josh:  My deepest desire is to have a normal, risk-free life – well, as risk-free as a cop’s life can be. I just don’t want my family’s lives to be in danger ever again. I also want things with Rita to go further than it is.

Marie:  Hmm…I wondered if there was a new love interest. 😉

(Sighs.) I love romance. ♥

So, tell me something, Josh. What is your greatest fear?

Josh:  My greatest fear is Sammy’s life ever being endangered again. I know that if I lose her, I’ll lose everything. Even thinking about it panics me.

Marie: That’s understandable.

I’m glad you were comfortable enough to tell me everything.

Well, it looks like we’re out of time. Thank you for visiting us today, Josh. It was so interesting getting to know you!  🙂

(Waves goodbye to her guest.)

Now, let’s shift over and get the author’s perspective. We have author Kat Schuessler on the stage today. It’s such a pleasure to have you here! Hello, Kat!

Author Kat Schuessler:  Hi, Marie! Thank you for taking the time to interview me.

Marie: Of course! I love to have authors on ILRB. 😀

So, we just got to talk to a male character from your story, Josh Hartnell. Quite an interesting character. Can you tell us about him?

Kat:  Josh is a sexy police officer who has had to live with the memory of his ex-wife’s attack. He still has PTSD from the incident, but he’s working through it.

Marie:  Okay.

So, what are your character’s greatest strengths?

Kat:  His greatest strength is his resilience. He has powered through the hardest times of his life without letting it affect Sammy, which is basically a miracle. He’s also an amazing dad who will do anything for his daughter, including risking his own life.

Marie:  Lovely!

And what are your character’s greatest weaknesses?

Kat:  His greatest weakness isn’t even really a weakness, just a symptom of his past. He suffers from severe PTSD and tends to panic whenever Sammy spends more than a few hours away from him. I can’t even imagine what will happen when she goes to school, but hopefully Rita will be able to help him get through it.

Marie:  True enough!

Let’s try something fun, shall we?

What are some of Josh’s favorite foods?

Kat:  He loves pretty much any international food; Italian, Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, et cetera. The only exception is Mexican food. He also likes burgers.

Marie:  Sounds delicious!

How about another question?

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

Kat:  Though he’s been told by many people, he doesn’t see how charming and gentlemanly he is. He thinks he’s just being polite, but his charm attracts a lot of women and a fair amount of men.

Marie:  (Laughs.) All right.

Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?

Kat:  I hope they’ll like him. I think they will because of his charm and willingness to put his life on the line for the people he cares about. Not to mention the fact that he’s a total hottie.

Marie: (Fans herself.) He’s got my vote! 😀

Now that we have a real taste of Josh, we have a few questions for you as well as the author.

What first gave you the idea for Think of Me?

Kat:  I was actually reading On Writing by Stephen King, and a writing exercise that was in the book was vaguely similar to part of the plot. I originally started it as a short story, which then grew into a novel.

Marie:  Awesome! Isn’t it fascinating how the muse works? 😉

Let’s try something else.

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

Kat:  I am a pantser, absolutely. I try to keep a timeline and do character outlines, but as for the minor details I basically let the book write itself.

Marie:  Me too!

How about another question?

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

Kat:  Well, the biggest challenge was the fact that my original publishing company went out of business as soon as Think of Me was ready to go to them. I obviously looked for another publisher, but I was rejected by all of the companies I reached out to. That led to several years of writer’s block, because I felt like there was no point in writing if I couldn’t find a publisher. Finally, I reached out to my contacts from my old publisher and they helped me learn how to self-publish without spending all of my money. I should’ve reached out sooner, but once the writer’s block set in it was hard to get out of that rut.

Marie:  Can’t blame you! There are definitely some discouraging parts of the publishing journey!

Congrats on your new release! ♥

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 Think of Me appears to be.

Readers, you will just have to pick up a copy of this erotic romantic suspense by Kat Schuessler, a very talented author! :)

Here is the blurb for Think of Me, book one of the Point of No Return Series:

When Detective Josh Hartnell’s wife had a psychotic break, he needed to figure out how to raise their daughter on his own. Two years later, when his friend and partner decides to set him up with a woman, he doubts that anything will come of it.

Rita Morgan is a law student at Kent State University. After her disappointing relationship with a professor ends, her friends insist on setting her up with a single dad. Although Josh is sweet and incredibly sexy, he comes with some baggage — in the shape of a little girl.

When Rita’s life is unexpectedly put at risk and her heart on the line, she needs to decide if their relationship is worth the risk, or if they should end it before the price gets too high.

Kat is also offering us a great excerpt from the book!

Rita was enjoying this bantering between them, and when she casually glanced down at their hands, she noticed that Josh had gotten slightly closer to her. When she subtly moved her hand closer to his on the banister, he covered it with his own. Rita felt a rush of heat at the contact, and when she looked up at him, he was already gazing at her, his eyes practically shining with desire. Her face flushed from his gaze, and she found herself staring at his lips, wanting to taste them.  She told herself it was too soon to be thinking this way, but her sudden spike of lust shut her up – she wanted to kiss him as she ran her hands up his arms, feeling the muscles there.

Her eyes met his again and she swore she could see into his mind, and what she saw was the same desire she had. As if they shared one mind, they simultaneously angled their heads toward each other and kissed. There was no tentative brushing of lips or shy pecks, but crazed kissing and languid sweeping of tongues as they pressed their bodies together. Josh reached up and took her hair out of the bun, and it flowed past her shoulders in waves. He groaned and plunged his hands into it, kissing her more furiously. Rita took this opportunity to touch the muscles in his arms and across his chest, feeling them ripple under her fingertips. When she felt his erection pressing against her, she moaned and lost herself in his kiss.

Sizzling! ♥♥♥ Can’t wait to read this book…🙂

Purchase Links:

Universal Reader link:  https://books2read.com/u/38xM1V

http://bit.ly/TOMbook

Add it to your Goodreads bookshelf:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43798777-think-of-me

Link to book one:  http://bit.ly/NoBackwardGlances

We’ll be sure to get a copy of this hot romantic suspense! ♥

About Kat Schuessler

When I was eight years old, I read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and ten years old when I decided I wanted to be an author.

From that moment on, I wrote all the time – short stories, poems, essays, and news articles for my high school paper. I tried writing horror, fantasy, and sci-fi, but I couldn’t get my footing in any of those genres. They just didn’t call to me.

Then I read A Hunger Like No Other, a paranormal romance by Kresley Cole.

I realized that I never tried to write romance. I sat down to write an erotic short story, and the words just flowed out of me. Suddenly, everything clicked. I immediately started working on No Backward Glances, convinced that this would be my first published book. I was determined to finish this novel and to see it on Amazon one day.

Seven years later, here I am; still writing, a mother to a beautiful daughter, a contestant on Food Network’s “Worst Cooks in America,” and just doing my best to get more books on the shelves.

And, if you want to know how to connect with the amazing Kat Schuessler, here are some author links:

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

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/zanystarr

Amazon Author Page:  https://www.amazon.com/Kat-Schuessler/e/B00WTCQPZQ/

Goodreads:  https://www.amazon.com/Kat-Schuessler/e/B00WTCQPZQ/

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

 

Once again, I want to thank both of our guests, Josh, a male character from Think of Me, and Kat Schuessler, the brilliant author of the novel, for stopping by! It was a pleasure to have you here! 😀

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Filed under Authors, Book News, Book Release, Books, Character Interview, characters, Contemporary, Erotica, Event, Fiction, Guest Writer, Interview, new release, Readers, Romance, Romantic Suspense, steamy, Writers, Writing

Exclusive Interview with author Faye Hall, plus a look at historical romance, WRATH & MERCY!

Hi, readers! I am pleased to announce a very special post today on ILRB. We’re doing something a little different. This is our fifth 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 historical romance novels. Please join me in welcoming Faye Hall to ILRB! 🙂

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

Author Faye Hall:  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…

Faye:  I’m an Australian Historical Romance author and I love it!  I get to set stories in my hometown and bring a part of mostly unknown history to my readers. I’d never claim to be good at it, but I just hope my readers enjoy what they read.

Marie:  I think that’s about all we can do as writers! 😉 So, tell us…what is your family like?

Faye:  Usually a madhouse, ha ha. Hubby and I have 9 children between us, 5 of those are still at home and going to school.  Life is very busy, as you can imagine.

Marie:  (Chuckles.) Yes, so many! I have enough trouble with a couple fur-babies at home.

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?

Faye:  I grew up on a several acre farm in a simple, little house. I loved it out there and never tired of the peace and tranquility.

Marie:  Nice!

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

Faye:  I enjoy gardening. Hubby and I try to grow a lot of our own food, as well as some flowers to help bring the bees in. I also enjoy cooking and do quite a bit of it, considering the size of our family.

Marie:  Okay. So…what is your greatest dream?

Faye:  To live a peaceful life and write a best seller.

Marie:  I’m with you there! ♥

Let’s try another question.

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

Faye:  To be honest, the last few years I have finally found myself being the person I always wished to be.  I spent 17 years in an abusive relationship, and I think surviving that and finally escaping that with my children made me into the determined, strong woman I am today.

Marie:  I understand. Those type of scars may mark us, but they do shape us into a stronger force to be reckoned with.

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

Faye:  You’ll think it funny, but James Dean. Up until about the age of 12, I simply adored him.

Marie:  All right.

Let’s try something else now.

What’s the most terrible thing that ever happened to you?

Faye:  As I mentioned before, I used to be in an abusive relationship so I’ve had full beer cans thrown at my head whilst nursing a child; I’ve been told I’d be stabbed in the throat if I didn’t shut up; but I guess the worst was holding my 5 year old and being threatened with a sledge hammer, and told my head would get smashed in if he ever caught me.  That was the day I called the police.

Marie:  Yikes! 😥 I’m so sorry you went through all of that. But I am glad you got out of the situation. I also went through a similarly abusive relationship, and every day I think about how lucky I am to have walked away. Not everyone can…

Let’s move on to something a bit lighter now, shall we?

[Faye nods.]

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?

Faye:  My dream growing up was to be a writer and live in France with the love of my life. I still don’t live in France, more because of family commitments and money. The rest I managed to achieve. My love life is beyond wonderful. As for writing – it can be harder than I thought sometimes, especially when it comes to appealing to the readers.

Marie: I know, right? 😉 I am so glad that you found the love of your life. 😀

(Sighs.) I love romance. ♥

So, who is your role model, Faye?

Faye:  My parents. They’ve been married over 50 years and have been through so much, yet can still smile about something.

Marie:  That’s great! 

Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?

Faye:  Not really. I’m not very good at pretending.

Marie:  I know what you mean…

Let’s try another question.

What is your deepest desire?

Faye:  To give my children a happy, peaceful life and to live long enough to see them create their dreams.

Marie:  Sounds like a plan!

Tell me something, Faye. What is your greatest fear?

Faye:  Losing my family.

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

So, I want to try something different next… 

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

Faye:  Face cream. Wine. Pen and Paper to write. Hair ties – because I usually always lose a few.

(Laughs.) I would need pen and paper too!

It’s funny, since one of my cats tends to steal my hair ties. 😉

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, Finley Helmer. Quite an interesting character. Can you tell us a little about him?

Faye:  Finley is an honest, hardworking man who is very protective of his family and the woman he loves. He has blondish hair, green eyes and usually dresses in jeans and a buttoned work shirt.

Marie:  What are your character’s greatest strengths?

Faye:  His desire to do what is right, even after he becomes involved in smuggling. He also can’t bear to see any harm come to the woman he loves, and will risk his life to protect her from harm.

Marie:  Admirable!

And what are his greatest weaknesses?

Faye:  He’s broke, so he’s being forced to do things he doesn’t like to earn enough money to survive.

Marie:  Okay…

Let’s try something fun, shall we?

What are some of his favorite foods?

Faye:  Mutton of pork.

Marie:  How about another question?

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

Faye:  His loyalty.

Marie:  Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?

Faye:  Readers will love him and his undying love for the woman in his life, and his constant need to rescue her from the life she finds herself involved in upon arriving in Australia.

Marie:  Great!

Now that we have a real taste of Finley, 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 Wrath & Mercy?

Faye:  It’s the fifth book in the Sins of the Virtuous series, and deals with the seven deadly sin of wrath. I got the idea to use smuggling as an underlying story to the romance after reading about the hushed up local history about smuggling.

Marie:  Interesting how the muse works, huh? 😉

Let’s try something else.

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

Faye:  I’m usually a bit of both. I like to have some kind of a plan written/typed out to work from but more often than not, as I start to write, the plot goes in a completely different direction.

Marie:  All right.

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

Faye:  The biggest challenge was trying to use drug and opal smuggling. It took some research on my part whilst I was writing. I probably wouldn’t do much different next time, other than organize my research first before I start writing.

Marie:  Sounds like a plan!

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 Wrath & Mercy appears to be. Congratulations on your latest release… ♥

Here is the blurb:

Would you show mercy to the lover who deserted you?

Finley Helmer thought he had it all when Elina Clemence invited him into her bed. When circumstances forced them apart, he vowed to return to her as quickly as possible. He never imagined it would be years before he would be reunited with the woman he loves, and in the process he would be thrown into a world of smuggling black opals, drugs, and aboriginal slaves.

Elina was ripped away from her home and the man she loved when her father took her to Australia to start a new life. He promised her beauty and opportunity. Instead, she found herself forced into a marriage with a cruel and abusive man, who has a grown daughter who’s determined to destroy her.

When her husband dies, leaving Elina his fortune, constant accidents follow her, threatening her life. Elina is a profitable shipping tycoon, with control over most of the town’s supply. But despite her powerful position, her heart still aches for the man she once loved who disappeared from her life without a trace.

Finding themselves passionately reunited, Finley and Elina discover the cruelty that tore them from each other. As they search for answers, they uncover the unrelenting wrath and vengeance of an opium addict who will stop at nothing until she has possession of the black opals she thinks they are hiding.

Can Finley and Elina escape the horror that seems to be following them, or will they fall victim to the greed of an addict? And can they find the courage to once again trust each other with their hearts?

Content Warning: contains sex, strong language, and some violence

Faye is also offering us a teaser from the book!

Elina went quiet, watching Fin’s attention return to the papers on the desk. She knew now wasn’t the best time to bring up her own concerns. Still, he needed to know.

“My father told me we leave for Australia as soon as he has our affairs in order.”

Fin looked up at Elina. “He told me before the funeral that he thought it best to take you as far away from here as possible. He believes what is being said about Ewan, and he doesn’t want those he dealt with finding their way back to you.”

Elina lowered her gaze to her lap. “Will you be coming with us?”

Silence surrounded them. Lifting her gaze to him and seeing his stern expression, she felt her heart sink.

“Archie has instructed me to stay here in England a while longer to finalize the last few shipments. It will be at least a few months before I can get my own passage to Australia.”

His words stabbed at her heart. “I don’t want to leave you,” she uttered, her voice laced with tears.

Getting up from his seat, he walked around the desk. His hands going to her, he helped her to stand. “I’ll join you as soon as I’m able. I promise.”

Her gaze held his as fear filled her. What if this was the last time she’d ever see him? The mere thought pained her.

“This isn’t goodbye,” he told her, his hand going to her face, his fingers stroking her cheek. “I won’t allow it to be.”

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

Purchase Links:

Universal Reader link:  https://books2read.com/u/mlYWB7

Publisher link:  http://beachwalkpress.com/wrath-and-mercy/

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

About Faye Hall

Faye Hall spent her early years listening to stories about the families – including her own – who settled townships in and around her hometown in North Queensland, Australia.  The local townspeople, including her own parents, told her stories of corruption and slavery, along with family secrets and forbidden love.

Desperate to remember what she’d been told, along with her already growing love of writing, Faye began to write about the history of her local area.  Never could she have imagined the history of her small home town in Australia would become a growing list of published books.

Faye’s passionate stories combine controversial subjects and provocative encounters as her characters struggle to survive the lifestyle in early rural townships throughout Australia.  She explores slavery and abortion, drug addiction and murder, as well as forbidden love and passionate affairs of the heart.

When she’s not writing, Faye enjoys sharing a bottle of wine with her husband in their ever-growing garden, and encouraging the varied interests of their combined family of nine children.

Explore the world of Faye Hall, Australian Historical Romance Author at her website.

Books:

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

 

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

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Exclusive Interview with author Lisa Doughty, plus a look at historical romance, ELLA AND THE EXPERIMENT!

Hi, readers! I am beyond pleased to announce a very special post today on ILRB. We’re doing something a little different. This is our fourth 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 historical romance novels. Please join me in welcoming Lisa Doughty to ILRB! 🙂

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

Author Lisa Doughty:  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…

Lisa:  Originally my chosen occupation was in the music industry. I have a degree in Master Engineering – Making records specifically, vinyl records. That probably gives you an indication of how long ago that was. Now they are collector items! In any case, it didn’t matter how good I was at it, there was no money in it. When I met my husband and got married, I was forced to grow up and get a real job. We started our own business together and out of the need to feed myself and a growing family, I settled into the role of CFO. But I never lost my interest in show business. During the years in a job of necessity, I kept one toe in the industry by stage managing at the CMT theatre downtown San Jose and associate produced two indie films “X to Y” directed by Matt Sobel, which won best film at the San Jose film festival, and “Mayra Darnell” starring Lena Olin, which premiered at the SWSX 2017 film festival to great reviews and did well in Europe.

It seemed a natural progression into writing once my kids grew and did not need me anymore. Now partially retired, I can focus on this new career and my new artistic outlet of writing.

Marie:  Great! So, tell us…what is your family like?

Lisa:  I have a wonderful and supportive family. My husband of thirty-two years is encouraging and motivating in this new adventure. He has always gone along with every crazy creative outlet I’ve have indulged in over the course of our marriage with a large amount of enthusiasm. He is especially excited about my writing. He has read my books and feels I have something new to offer. My children think I’m crazy…again, no surprise there. But I love that they see that you should never be scared to follow your dreams, no matter what they morph into over the years.

Marie:  Good point!

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?

Lisa:  Hmm, a strange question that I’m not sure how you want answered. Do you mean physically or psychologically? Since I’m sure this is not a psych test, I assume you mean physically.

Imagine your typical 1960’s two story suburban track home – and there you have it.

Marie:  Okay.

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

Lisa:  I love everything and anything artistic. Writing, painting, creating with every possible medium. It’s an OCD thing, can’t settle for just one…

Marie:  Can’t blame you there! The creative monster needs to be feed, right?

So…what is your greatest dream?

Lisa:  To get back into film and theater on the writer/ producer side this time. I am currently working on a series for TV and am halfway through my first play. I’m hoping to produce one of them by the end of 2019.

Marie:  Nice! ♥

Let’s try another question.

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

Lisa:  Okay, now this is really starting to feel like a psych test…

Marie:  (Laughs.) Not a psych test at all. But I know that most readers want to get know authors as people too. 😉

Lisa:  Well, I can tell you honestly that nothing has ever held me back from pursuing what I wished to be. Wherever the wind has taken me over the years, I have boldly jumped in with both feet. Additionally, I am lucky enough to have a great support system to encourage me. They cannot wait to see what I’m going to do next! I am their biggest source of entertainment. In turn, I encourage my children to try everything. To not to be afraid to fail at something.

That is a lesson in itself; we all need to know what we’re not good at so we can find what we are! The true failure is being afraid to try.

Marie:  So true…

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

Lisa:  Gary Kibbie, age 7…fell in love with his blonde curls. Broke my heart when he wouldn’t play truth or dare with me. Never forgave him, but married a tall, blond Swedish man that I’m sure is my way of getting over him. Neener, neener!

Marie:  (Chuckles.) Well, I am so glad you got your happily ever after. 😀 (Sighs.) I love romance. ♥

Let’s try something else now.

What’s the most terrible thing that ever happened to you?

Lisa:  Hands down, my father’s death. I’ll leave it at that.

Marie:  Oh, no! 😥 I’m so sorry you went through that.

Let’s move on to something a bit lighter now, shall we?

[Lisa nods.]

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?

Lisa:  I had too many to mention. In a nutshell I wanted to try everything, and although the list is long, I have been slowly been working my way through. Some of them weren’t as fun as others so I dropped those. I’m not done, so I would never say I haven’t achieved one, I’d rather say I haven’t focused on trying that one yet.

Marie: All right.

So, who is your role model, Lisa?

Lisa:  No role models to speak of. I never understood why people have one, actually? Why would you want to be like someone else and not forge your own path? They’ve already forged theirs. Why repeat it? Boring!

Marie:  Okay. 

Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?

Lisa:  Same answer!

Marie:  Gotcha! Your approach is refreshing. 😀

Let’s try another question.

What is your deepest desire?

Lisa:  To live my life to the fullest, eradicate complacency.

Marie:  Sounds like a plan!

Tell me something, Lisa. What is your greatest fear?

Lisa:  Not to try everything I wanted to. To look back at my life and wish I had put myself out there because I was afraid of what might happen if I did.

Marie:  It would be hard to live with that regret.

So, I want to try something different next, Lisa… 

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

Lisa:  Probing question! I need a big island please, preferably in the Caribbean (I hate being cold), because I’m bringing my entire family, a fully stocked Costco, a complete Home Depot including the garden section, my bed, and my laptop.

Oh, I hate cold weather too! Add a long-life battery and magical Wi-Fi to that list, please… (Winks.) I think I would still need a way to do research for my books.

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, Lady Cordelia Cromwell, Countess of Middleton Park. Quite an interesting character. Can you tell us a little about her?

 

Lisa:  Cordelia is a survivor. Scarred by her father’s abandonment and abused by her first husband, she remains resilient. Even though trapped in circumstances out of her control, she finds a way to make her life her own. Unfortunately, that requires that she build a wall of defenses around herself that threaten to hold her back from a truly fulfilling life. She is frightened to let anyone one in that can hurt her again.

Marie:  I guess I can’t blame her there! I found it hard to trust again too after the debacles with my two exes.

So, what are your character’s greatest strengths?

Lisa:  Resiliency and charm. Cordelia learns quickly how to use what tools she has left to rebuild her life. After the death of her husband, she is left with mounting debt and a dilapidated estate. Cordelia uses the only things of value her late husband left behind. Her position and her connections. Coupled with her charm and beauty, she becomes a matchmaker to the elite. Her uncanny ability to match couples soon becomes legendary, and she is sought after for her services from the highest ranked members of nobility.

Marie:  Resourceful!

And what are her greatest weaknesses?

Lisa:  Cordia is afraid of love for herself. Vowing never to be property of a man again, she pushes everyone away because of her fear. This soon becomes her biggest weakness as The Marquess of Roth, Lord Rhys Drayson starts to break through her defenses. As she falls for the charismatic rake, she realizes how lonely her life really is without someone to love and to love her in return. This starts to crack the foundation she has built and threatens to destroy the world she has built for herself.

Marie:  Okay…

Let’s try something fun, shall we?

What are some of her favorite foods?

Lisa:  Cordelia loves cognac. Usually deemed a gentleman’s drink, she loves that no man can prohibit her from drinking it and loves the sweet, yet strong taste.

Marie:  (Chuckles.) Nice!

How about another question?

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

Lisa:  Confidence. Cordelia is unaware that her confidence matched with her beauty makes men off balance around her. She is often unaware of the effect she has on men. As she concentrates on keeping them at a distance, she often misses the effect it has. Instead of repelling them, which is her goal, it makes her mysterious, a challenge and gives her an unobtainable air that makes her even more attractive.

Marie:  Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?

Lisa:  I hope they will like her! I want them to identify with her fight for independence, her role as a survivor and respect her for it. Although Cordelia is a fighter, she is also scarred. She deserves happiness, yet is afraid it doesn’t exist for her. I want the reader to understand her fears and wish for her to push through them, rally behind her and want the best for her.

Marie:  Works for me!

Now that we have a real taste of Cordelia, 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 The Countess?

Lisa:  The Countess is my eleventh book, The Matchmaker Series my fourth series. I have always loved putting unlikely characters together in a love story. After all, romance is about the journey. But with The Matchmaker Series, I wanted to try a completely different approach. Instead of writing their story toggling back and forth between both of the main character’s point of views, I decided to dedicate the first book The Countessbook one to hers and the second The Marquess-book two to his. This way I could go into much more detail about the characters, and give the readers a much deeper understanding of them. It also was a way to show how differently they perceived the situations they shared and their reactions to them. After all, we, especially men versus women, perceive the exact same event differently. It was fun to show this difference and how it shaped the outcome of their story as a whole.

Marie:  Oh, I love how unique your series is! I look forward to reading it sometime. 😉

Interesting how the muse works, huh?

Let’s try something else.

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

Lisa:  I design my books specifically to be an easy read. No overly flowery sentences, or need to use a dictionary for every other word. Some may call this rudimentary, but I like and want my readers to be lost in the story, an escape from reality while they read. Not feel like they received a history lesson or a lecture on Literary English. I also try to stay away from too many mundane descriptions of landscapes or the surroundings. To me, endless pages describing buffet tables and furniture settings are tedious to read and often stall the story. I try to give just enough so the reader can get a picture of the setting, but still be lost in the character’s story. I am somewhat of a comedian too, can’t help it, but hope I pull a tear or two at times when the story calls for it.

Mostly, I want you as a reader not want to put it down. Feel anticipation of what might happen at their next encounter and be shocked when it didn’t turn out as you predicted. I used to call these red light reads – books you read at every red light when you are forced to deal with real life but you cannot put the book down.

Marie:  Sounds good!

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 The Countess appears to be. Congratulations on your upcoming release…

Readers, you will just have to pick up a copy of this historical romance by Lisa Doughty, once it comes out! :)

Here is the initial blurb for The Countess:

Lady Cordelia began life abandoned by her father, the Earl of Swanstone, to the Fountain Abbey School for girls after her mother died in childbirth. Cold, detached and heartless, her father never visited his daughter until she became of age, then arranged her marriage, or rather sold her to the Earl of Middleton Park, a man 30 years her senior, infected with the French disease, who was practically destitute thanks to the escapades of his former and now deceased wife. To make matters worse, the earl had very disturbing sexual proclivities. Cordelia, being innocent yet sharp, was forced to endure her circumstances and find a way to survive. However, the encounters with the earl leave her scarred for life, distrusting all men and their treatment of her. When the earl finally succumbs to his illness, she becomes the tenth Countess of Middleton Park at the tender age of twenty-two and vows never to wed or belong to a man ever again.

Left in debt and with a crumbling estate, Cordelia uses the only thing of value left to her by the late earl, her position and her connections. She begins a matchmaking service that caters to nobility, far and near. Clever and shrewd, she joins forces with London’s most sought-after designer Rodrigo, who creates the most exquisite and unique fashions for the debutantes in her service. The transformation of her clients is unbelievable and soon becomes her calling card. That, paired with her uncanny ability to match her clients to the members of the exclusive Ton, soon makes her a lucrative commodity. For the young, beautiful, yet unobtainable Countess this means independence and freedom, and she finally feels as if her life is her own. When she encounters a certain Lord Rhys Drayson, Marquess of Roth, she is taken aback by his handsome face and undeniable charisma. Lord Roth has a well-publicized reputation of being a rake and a womanizer, so Cordelia quickly decides to rid herself of the arrogant lord, who solicits her services at the insistence of his sister Lady Esme Drayson. Unable to escape the Marquess and the undeniable attraction between them, Cordelia soon starts to buckle under the rake’s attentions. As her defenses fall, so does her resolve to never give her heart to a man, until his past follows him to her doorstep and threatens to shatter her heart into a million pieces, despite the undeniable love between them.

Lisa is giving us an exclusive peek at the book! ♥

“Lady Cromwell, Lord Roth, and Lady Drayson,” the butler announced.

Roddy stepped forward immediately. “May I be the first to welcome you, my lord, my lady. I am Rodrigo,” he announced with a flamboyant bow. “And this is Lady Cromwell.”

Cordelia peeked at the couple from behind the brim of her hat.

The lady was lovely indeed, with raven hair and bright green eyes. Lady Drayson was smiling in anticipation, eager to meet her. Cordelia could not see the gentleman’s face. His broad chest and tall stature obscured her view. In a practiced motion, she kept her eyes downcast, watching where she stepped, adjusting her skirt as she turned, and looked at him through her lashes first. Good Lord, Roddy might be right about this one. First, she saw his Hessian boots. No high heels for this one. His black trousers ended inside his boots at the knee, and his muscular thighs strained the material above them. His jacket tails brushed his calves. This gentleman was no dandy, at least not in fashion. When she raised her eyes, they immediately locked with his. Handsome did not describe this man. For the first time her in her life, her heart skipped a beat. He was the male version of his lovely sister, but, where she was soft and feminine, he was rugged and masculine. His green eyes stared in hers with such intensity, it rattled her.

She forced herself to look at his sister and curtsied, bowing her head slightly so the rim of her hat hid her face. She took a shallow breath to compose herself. Roddy was looking at the Marquess longingly. He hadn’t noticed her reaction to the man, thank the Lord! If he had, she would have never lived it down! When she rose, she addressed Lady Drayson directly and did not look at either of the men. Her hat partially obstructed their view, which gave her confidence to speak.

“Lady Drayson, welcome to Middleton Park.”

“Thank you, Lady Cromwell. I have been looking forward to this pleasure for a long time.” Lady Drayson curtsied. “May I present my brother Lord Rhys Drayson, the Marquess of Roth.”

Cordelia smiled demurely and kept her eyes downcast as she curtsied but looked at him as she rose. She had better control of herself this time. She had the same reaction to him, Lord above, this man rattled her nerves. She tried not to stare, although she wanted to. Everything about this man radiated masculinity. His long black hair curled around his collar and forehead. His angular features and strong chin gave him his rugged appearance. But it was his intense green eyes that made her feel naked under his gaze. A thousand needles pricked her skin as he studied her. His eyes drifted to her lips when she spoke.

“My lord, welcome. Thank you for making the trip from London to escort your sister to Middleton Park. It must have been a major inconvenience.”

He stared at her for what seemed like an eternity without answering, his face expressionless. This man was disconcerting. He needed to leave. Luckily, she had already decided not to take Lady Drayson on as a client. Cordelia prayed that once she turned them down in person that they would return to London directly.

“Not at all,” he finally answered. His baritone voice matched his appearance. Cordelia suppressed a shiver as vibrations rolled down her spine. It would be best to get them on their way quickly. As fast as possible!

“Shall we retire to my office and discuss what you require of me?”

“That would be wonderful, wouldn’t it, Rhys?” Lady Drayson bumped her brother with her elbow, since he was still glaring at her.

“Of course,” he said, with a wave and a bow. “Lead the way.”

“Will Rodrigo be joining us?” Lady Drayson asked hopefully.

Cordelia had not noticed that Roddy had excused himself. “If we conclude our business today, you can meet with him first thing tomorrow,” she replied, not willing to dash the lady’s excitement in front of her guests or her brother until they were alone. Let her have a meeting with Roddy. He seemed eager enough to have her as a client. Then she could send them on their way, satisfied.

“You are behind the rest of the guests. They have been here for a few days and are well acquainted with each other already. And, if Rodrigo wishes to change your look, there is not much time for him to do it before the ball.” She chuckled, to take the worry out of her statement, but further planted the seed for refusal. Cordelia threaded her arm through Lady Drayson’s, and started toward the house, giving Lord Drayson no choice but to fall in step behind them.

Intriguing!

Additionally, let’s have a look at Ella and The Experiment, book one of the Ladies of Kent Series.

Here is the blurb:

Lady Ella McHenry is a genius like her father. Following her father’s death, she steps into his role at the University as a problem solver and tutor. Now alone, she must contemplate marriage in order to keep the fortune her father left her as well as her independence. Her Aunt urges her to add physical attraction to her list of logical and intellectual attributes she wants in a husband. Not seeing the point, she decides to test her aunt’s theory by conducting an experiment on the subject. When the handsome rake Lord Dexter St Johns comes to her for help on his artillery project, she makes a bargain with him. She will help him with his project if he will conduct an experiment with her. Little did the analytical Lady Ella know how much of her heart would become entangled in her conclusion and how important attraction can be.

Lord St Johns was in a race to be the first to complete a smaller more efficient weapon against his nemesis Lord Vanderguard. Desperate to keep such a weapon out of the warmonger hands, he is forced to enlist help from the most unlikely source, Lady Ella McHenry. At first glance he didn’t believe the petite and rather severe looking young woman could help his cause. Taking a leap of faith, he hands the top secret plans over for her analysis. To his surprise, she turns out to be the one person to solve his issues. When she asks for a favor in return he could not refuse her and blindly agrees to whatever she needs. To his shock, she wants to conduct an experiment that is beyond scandalous and even more exciting than he could imagine. As Lady Ella knocks him off balance and steals his heart, his project and her involvement in it puts her in mortal danger. Now he must not only save her, but his heart as well.

Lisa is also offering us a teaser from the book!

“There she is!”

“Where?”

“There!”

“Don’t point!” Dex hissed as he pushed Devin’s finger down. “Bloody hell, keep your voice down!” he shushed in a harsh whisper. “We are in a library, after all.”

Dex spied Lady Ella McHenry sitting by the window in a blue wing back chair. It fairly engulfed her, she was so tiny. She was much younger than he had expected. In fact, she looked like a child. If her hair wasn’t piled atop of her head in a mature hairstyle, and wearing a prim and proper dress, he would have thought her one. The glasses perched on her nose should have made her look older, but they didn’t. This couldn’t be the genius that Devin had been going on about.

She was engrossed in a book, her brows furrowed as she read. Then, to his surprise, she turned the book sideways, examining it curiously at the awkward angle. What was she reading?

“That cannot be her, Devin. That is a child.”

“It’s her, I swear. She is small, but I assure you, she is fully grown and a genius, just like her father. My dad thinks her intelligence may even surpass her father’s.”

“If this is some kind of joke, my fist is going to find your nose!”

Devin held his hands up in surrender. “I wouldn’t do that to you, Dex. I know how important this is to you. Besides, I like my nose just the way it is, thank you very much.”

Despite his friend’s assurance, he narrowed his eyes at him in warning. He was not in the mood to be trifled with. “Introduce me then. I have no choice but to trust you at this point,” he said, resigned.

****

Ella’s was actually reading book hidden within a book. She couldn’t very well read the Kama Sutra out in the open, after all, so she had hidden it inside a book on mathematics that she had memorized. From the outside, it looked as though she were studying. If anyone asked her a question about it, she could easily answer without hesitation. She thought the illustrations would have made her blush but, to her surprise, she wasn’t embarrassed at all. The cartoon-like drawings were graphic and anatomically detailed, but they didn’t make her uncomfortable at all, as her friend Gerard had predicted.

Ella was beyond determined to learn about sex and understand what all the fuss was about. She was sick and tired of her aunt and uncle asking if she were attracted to her choice of suitor. She could see no logic in picking a husband purely on the basis of attraction. The choice should be made for practical reasons. He should be intelligent, levelheaded and have a mind for business. Her future husband would be responsible for father’s fortune now that it was hers. That had to be priority number one.

Besides, she would not disillusion herself. She was not a classic English beauty that could attract a handsome lord. She was much too petite and plain to be noticed by that sort of noble gentleman. Small like her mother, with her father’s nondescript chestnut hair and brown eyes, there wasn’t much to catch a man’s eye. That had become evident after her one and only season she had had at her aunt’s insistence. The only suitor who had called on her ran for the hills once he found out she intended to participate in all decisions regarding her fortune. When she tested his business knowledge, he failed miserably. She could see no reason to continue the courtship since he would not agree to her terms. He married another heiress within a month. Good riddance.

Since then she decided to pick her candidates using logic. In the year since her failed season, she had tripled her fortune. In fact, her uncle had come to rely on her expertise about his own investments. It was just mathematics after all, simple percentages, profits and losses. It was not as difficult as all that. What she really needed was a business partner, not a husband. Of course, they would have to have an heir to secure the estate, but besides that, she needed a keen business man.

“Ella, I understand you are protective of your fortune,” her aunt patronized. “But you do have to procreate with the gentleman. Surely, an attraction to each other would be desirable, if not necessary. After all, it isn’t a chore that needs to be done. With the right partner, the act of procreation can be quite enjoyable.”

Ha! Attraction? The only men she was attracted to wouldn’t give her the time of day, no matter how large her fortune might be.

“Excuse us, Lady McHenry. May we have a word?”

When she looked up, there were two gentlemen standing in front of her. It was as if her thoughts had manifested into reality. Two of the Ton’s most handsome lords had materialized right in front of her, Lord Devin Armstrong and Lord Dexter St. Johns. Her mouth fell open. She closed it quickly and snapped her book shut to hide its contents. Shocked, she sucked in her breath and accidentally sucked some spittle down her windpipe in the process. Instantly, she started to choke. Embarrassed, she tried not to cough, but she couldn’t breathe.

“Is she choking?” Dex asked, as he watched her struggle for breath. “She is! She’s turning red!”

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

Purchase Links:

Universal Reader link:  https://books2read.com/u/3nnv8B

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

About Lisa Doughty

Lisa Doughty has worked in theater and is also a film producer of X to Y and Maya Dardel starring Lena Olin has always had a knack for creative endeavors and storytelling. As an avid romance novel enthusiastic, she eventually became unsatisfied with the plots consistently having women as the damsel in distress. With her frustration of repetition she began writing. Her inspiration stems from the women who break through society’s suppression and stand out in their era, and that is how her incredibly successful book, The Black Star, was born.

Books:

Coming Soon:

 

Available Now:

And, if you want to know how to connect with the fascinating Lisa Doughty, here are some author links:

Website/Blog:  https://www.lisadoughty.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/lisa.doughty.180

Amazon Author Page:  https://www.amazon.com/Lisa-Doughty/e/B07KWS261Z/

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16788681.Lisa_Doughty

Once again, I want to thank Lisa Doughty, the brilliant author of these historical romances, for stopping by!  It was a pleasure to have you here! Readers, check out her work! ♥

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Filed under Authors, Blogging, Book News, Books, characters, coming soon, Event, Fiction, Guest Writer, Historical, Historical Romance, Interview, Readers, Romance, Writers, Writing

Unique and Romantic Date Ideas for those Crispy Winter Days: a guest post by Dating Connections

Unique and Romantic Date Ideas for Those Crispy Winter Days

 

Whether you and your beau have been going out for a long time or you’ve recently met through a BBW dating site, you should take the time to plan your dates and spend quality time together to deepen your intimacy and strengthen your bond. You might learn new things about each other, have fun in unexpected ways, and warm up together under a blanket when you get home from a night on the town.

Created by Freepik

Sure, you can skip the night on the town and go straight under the covers, but if you’d rather leave the house you’ll find our top winter date ideas guaranteed to offer you fun, silliness, and adventure.

Siyuanhua, Flickr

#1: Go Ice Skating

A winter-only activity, ice skating can be incredibly romantic because you can sort of dress up for the occasion and wear a pair of white or predominantly white wool mittens, a white pom-pom beanie hat, and huge scarf and a pair of skinny jeans in which your legs will look longer and leaner thanks to your skates!

Created by Freepic.diller – Freepik.com

You’ll look like a snow angel, your partner will be absolutely smitten with you, and you’ll finish the date off with a cup of warm tea or hot chocolate sprinkled with cinnamon – the most romantic winter spice ever!

Mint Owl, Unsplash

#2: A $20-Dollar Gift Challenge

You’ll probably have a few gift challenges this winter, such as Secret Santa at work or with your nieces, but how about you do a $20-dollar-gift challenge with your partner and exchange the gifts over a romantic dinner or when you get home from the ice skating rink? Either make him a present or think long and hard what kind of a funny, sweet or useful gift you could get him for less than 20 bucks, tax included.

Kari Shea, Unsplash

#3: See a Live Show

Another date idea usually associated with the holiday season and Christmas time, catching a live show can be relaxing and entertaining with just a touch of posh.

Peter Lewicki, Unsplash

See a musical that’s on all year long and has exceptional reviews, a famous Christmas ballet, like The Nutcracker, or head to Cirque du Soleil and have dinner or desserts afterward at a café nearby. You can even go Christmas shopping before the show, but try not to look like a bag lady at the theater when you walk in with 5+ shopping bags.

Created by Freepik

#4:  Check Out the Holiday Lights Together

Brave the cold together and go for a walk through the downtown area to check out all the holiday lights or cruise around in a warm car if it’s insanely cold outside. This is your fall walk-in-the-park-to-enjoy-the-colors equivalent that doesn’t have to take all evening but it can still warm your hearts before you head home to have a few cups of eggnog in front of the fireplace.

Rawpixel, Unsplash

#5: Date Plus Hot After-party

Let him plan your date for next weekend even if he’s not particularly good at it and can’t make it past a dinner and a movie, and you plan the after-party. Book a room at a posh downtown hotel, check in at the appropriate time, and come back to the room following your date, especially if the hotel hot tub is open until the wee hours!

Created by Freepik

#6: Book a Trip Somewhere South

You don’t ever get to appreciate the Dominican like you do in January or February, especially if you live in those areas where you don’t see +1 in the weather forecast for weeks on end. Swap your heavy parkas for bathing suits, dry winter indoor air for a summer breeze, and instead of driving through town actually step outside and take a long walk on the beach at sunset.

Syd Sujuaan, Unsplash

#7: Hit an Escape Room

Created by Rawpixel.com – Freepik.com

Do you and your beau work well as a team? Test your teamwork skills at a local escape room, and see how the two of you get out of a hairy situation together. You can make it even more interesting and hit that hot tub later but only if you make it out in time!

Sounds like quite a bit for us to do during the winter months!

Inna Lesyk, pexels.com

Created by Bristekjegor – Freepik.com

Thank you, Dating Connections, for such great tips! ♥♥♥

Guest Blogger Bio

Dating Connections is a site that offers the opportunity for you to explore a variety of dating tips, previous relationship experiences and interact with other people!

Links

Website:  http://datingconnections.org/

Blog:  http://datingconnections.org/category/blog/

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

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/BoyanUlv

Google+:  https://plus.google.com/u/0/101423157749445118069

 

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

As always, happy reading, everyone! 😉 Have a great week!

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Filed under Blogging, Contemporary, Dating Tips, Event, Guest Writer, Holiday, Love, Message, Readers, Relationships, Romance, romantic ideas, travel