Category Archives: Women’s Fiction

Exclusive Interview with author Barbara Wallace, plus a look at contemporary romance, ONE NIGHT IN PROVENCE!

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

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

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

Author Barbara Wallace:  Hi, Marie!

Marie:  Hey, 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…

Barbara:  I am primarily a writer, but I also work part-time at Barnes & Noble Bookstores. I took a seasonal job there a few years ago and never left.  Not only does it keep me from being isolated in my little office, but it lets me spend time with readers and books. I’ve discovered a lot of new authors through chatting with customers.

Marie:  Nice!

So, tell us…what is your family like?

Barbara:  I like to think of my extended family as a wonderfully diverse and quirky bunch of people representing a variety of religions, nationalities, and sexual orientations. Holidays are always entertaining.

As far as my immediate family, my husband and I live with two spoiled cats and a sailboat. (Seriously, my husband thinks of the thing as a child.)  The two of us spend a great deal of spare time reveling in our empty nest status. Our son is grown. He and his wife live a few hours away.

Marie:  That’s wonderful!

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?

Barbara:  I grew up in the CLEANEST home you’d ever see. My mom was a total neat freak. (I’m sure she’s rolling in grave over the state of my house – especially when I’m on deadline.) Our house was a pretty little Cape Cod with a neatly mowed lawn and an above ground swimming pool in a neighborhood full of pretty little Cape Cod houses with neatly mowed lawns and above ground swimming pools.

Marie:  Lovely! And believe me, I’m just as messy while I am focused on a writing project. 😉

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

Barbara:  When I’m not writing – which seems like always these days – I love to read. I’ve got a stack of books on my end table waiting for me. I wish I could tell you I garden or do some kind of craft, but I kill plants and I’m horribly craft-deficient. Although, I am thinking of taking up crochet this winter.

Marie:  And what is your greatest dream?

Barbara:  Well, my greatest dream used to be to become a published author. Clearly, I checked off that box. Now, I would like to have the freedom to control my own schedule. There are so many things I want to explore in this world, both creatively and literally. My dream is to one day have the freedom to do so without having to answer to a deadline or outside job. To be able to answer only to myself (and my husband, of course).

Marie:  Sounds like a plan! 😀

Let’s try another question.

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

Barbara:  I want to be someone who is comfortable being myself. I spend a lot of time being the person other people want me to be. I want to learn to be authentic, even if that means risking disapproval. Why haven’t I become that person? I’m working on it. It takes a lot of work to shake free of your childhood baggage.

Marie:  I agree. And I’ve noticed we are our own worst critics. I put a lot of pressure on myself to meet certain standards and whenever I don’t reach those goals, it’s a huge disappointment.

But I guess I should go a bit easier on me, huh? 😉

So…who was your first love?

Barbara:  His name was John and he played trumpet in the high school band. I was so in love with him. It broke my heart that he didn’t feel the same.

Marie:  Aww. 😥

In any case, life seems to have worked out well for you! 😀

With the next question, I hope I’m not prying too much, but we are curious…

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

Barbara:  One very early morning, when my son was four months old, I was in the kitchen trying to wrap a blanket around his squirming body when he suddenly squirmed straight out of my arms. We rushed him to the hospital where they said he suffered a minor skull fracture. Thankfully he recovered. Even though it was a complete accident, the guilt from that day still rips my insides to shreds.

Marie:  Yikes! 😕

At least he’s okay. I guess I can’t blame you for feeling that way.

Let’s move on to another topic, shall we?

[Barbara 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?

Barbara:  I wanted to be a writer as a child. So, yeah – I achieved it. Of course, in my mind back then, a writer meant being rich and famous with a mansion like Jackie Collins. Turns out, being a writer is a lot of hard work. No one told me the words didn’t just “pour out” of you and onto the page!

Marie:  Right? I had big expectations too! (Laughs.)

Well, let’s trying something else…

Who is your role model, Barbara?

Barbara:  I don’t know if I have one specific role model. There are a lot of people in my life with qualities that I seek to emulate. For example, my husband is a wonderfully charitable man who is always helping others. My best friend is amazingly diplomatic and a natural leader. Both of these people are people I strive to be more like.

Marie:  Cool!

Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?

Barbara:  I’ll never tell.  🙂

Marie:  (Chuckles.) No worries, I respect your privacy.

Let’s do something different.

What is your deepest desire?

Barbara:  To be really and truly happy.

Marie:  Sounds like a great goal to me! 😉

And what is your greatest fear?

Barbara:  That I passed on my neuroses and tendency for depression to my son.

Marie:  Oh, no! 😥

Let’s switch gears for a second…

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

Barbara:

  1. A Gallon of Bug Spray
  2. A super large journal with a forever sharp pencil
  3. Cookware
  4. A sleeping bag
  5. Coffee

Marie:  Can’t blame you on the bug spray! Yikes! We have so many bugs in Indiana. 🙄

And yes, a never-ending journal! 🙂

All right, readers, let’s get the author’s perspective on one of her characters.

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

Barbara:  Jenna Brown is a nurse in a nursing home on Nantucket Island. She moved there from Cambridge, which is just outside of Boston. Jenna’s practical and guarded. That comes from having watched her mother’s heart get broken over and over by her callous father. But there’s a part of her that’s longing for romance. She wants to be loved; she’s simply afraid to open her heart to the opportunity.

Marie:  That’s understandable…

And what are Jenna’s greatest strengths?

Barbara:  Her compassion. She’s dedicated her life to helping people who are dying and unable to care for themselves.

Marie:  How admirable! 😀

Any weaknesses?

Barbara:  Her stubbornness. She is so determined to protect her heart that she doesn’t see the opportunity that’s right in front of her.

Marie:  I see.

Let’s try something fun, shall we?

What are Jenna’s favorite foods?

Barbara:  Coffee. And fish. She lives in New England, after all.

Marie:  All right.

How about another question?

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

Barbara:  She has an adventurous streak that I don’t think she’s ever tapped into before. She’s always so practical. This book gives her a chance to have a real adventure.

Marie:  Nice!

Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?

Barbara:  Hopefully they will really like her and want her to have a happy ending!

Marie: Of course!

Now that we have a real taste of Jenna, 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 One Night in Provence?

Barbara:  It actually came to me during an editorial meeting. The end of our editorial department said they were looking for ‘author-generated’ series. My bestie, Donna, immediately texted me and said, “We need to work together! We dragged in Nina Singh and the Mills & Boon queen Liz Fielding as well. Someone – I’m betting it was Donna Alward – suggested bucket list vacations. I practically screamed over everyone, “I’m doing a castle in Provence!” Largely because I want to take a vacation in a castle in Provence. LOL.

Marie: (Chuckles.) Awesome!

Oh, yes, I’d love to go to France too.

It’s fascinating how the muse works, huh? 😀

Let’s try something else.

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

Barbara:  I am what you would call a plodder. I plot the book in chunks of three or four chapters. I tend to write mind-numbingly slow as well. I want to make sure the characters drive the plot and that their reactions are in keeping with their personalities. There’s nothing that bothers me more than books that have characters doing things simply to facilitate a plot.

Marie:  Okay.

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

Barbara:  Bear in mind that I was already under a multi-book contract with Harlequin when I wrote this book, so getting it published was a forgone conclusion. The challenge was to write – and then rewrite – a book that was both emotional and uplifting, especially as I was writing this during a very sad period in my life. (There’s a reason Jenna’s a nursing home nurse.)  I ended up taking a lot of what happened and incorporating it into the story.

For aspiring writers – I took 15 years to initially publish. That was, of course, before self-publishing. Nowadays, writers don’t have to battle gatekeepers if they don’t choose to. My advice is simple: if you do want to be published traditionally, don’t ever give up. Keep writing and submitting. The key to success is perseverance.

To my independently published friends…always make sure that you are publishing your best work. Put yourself through the same editing and revision paces that you would experience were you traditionally published.

Marie:  Such sound advice! 😀 Indeed, it is tough to navigate the publishing world.

I look forward to learning about the other books in this series as 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 One Night in Provence appears to be… ♥

Title: One Night in Provence

Series: Destination Brides Book Three

Number in series: Third book in a four-book series, can be read as a standalone.

Genre: Romance

‘Spice’ level: Closed door sex

Publication date: August 1st

Publisher: Harlequin (US) / Mills & Boon (UK)

Here is the blurb:

Can an unexpected affair…

…lead to a lifetime of happiness?

In this Destination Brides story, while on vacation in Provence, homebody Jenna Brown embarks on a no-strings affair with a handsome stranger. But there’s more to wealthy playboy Philippe D’Usay than meets the eye. Scarred by loss, Philippe’s committed to being alone. But after their Provençal adventure ends, and Jenna discovers she’s pregnant, they must decide if their short-term connection could become a life together forever.

Here’s a peek at the story…

“Beatrice used to say stuff like that.”

“The woman who left you the money.”

Her smile softened. “She would have liked you. I remember one night we were watching a documentary about some ancient Greek city known for excessive living…”

“Sybaris,” he interrupted.

She looked at him in surprise. “Yes, that’s the one.”

“A lucky guess. I remember the lecture from university.”

“You have a very good memory.”

“It was a very interesting subject,” he said with a shrug.

“Anyway, when the show ended, Beatrice looked at me and said, ‘Those Greeks had the right idea.’”

“My kind of woman.”

“She must have dozed off during the part where the city was destroyed.”

“Yes, but at least they enjoyed themselves on the way out.” Reaching for the champagne, he filled both their glasses. “Vie amoureuse, as they say.”

“She definitely would have liked you.”

“Of course. I am a very likable person. You do not agree?” he asked at her enigmatic smile.

“Oh, I agree.” He watched while she traced the rim of her glass. “You’re extremely likable.”

“And you find that a problem.” A statement, not a question. He’d begun to notice a pattern with his American. Whenever she began to relax and enjoy herself, the wariness would rear its head to cool the enjoyment off. Such as now. Instead of laughing at his silly joke, she responded seriously.

“You do not trust me.” Again, he presented the words as fact.

“You’re a millionaire,” she countered. “Where I come from, millionaires don’t usually take women like me out to dinner.”

“They don’t believe in dating beautiful women?”

“They don’t pull out all the stops unless they have an agenda.”

Before he could reply, they were interrupted by a service. “Pissaladière,” the man announced before lifting the cover to reveal an onion tart, crust browned to perfection.

“I hope you don’t mind,” he said, “but I took the liberty of selecting the menu. Various Provençal dishes I think you would enjoy.”

“Case in point,” she replied.

“If your point is that I am trying to impress you, then I plead guilty as charged.”

“Impress me with the goal of coming back to my room.”

“Again guilty.” Did she expect him to deny human nature? Most women he knew would be swept off their feet by a moonlight dinner. Half of them would be in his arms before the tart arrived. With her, his efforts brought suspicion, despite his openness. It was almost as if she were afraid to enjoy herself.

He would need to rethink his approach.

“You always have the power to say no,” he reminded her.

“So long as we both realize that.” She smiled as she replied, but her eyes were serious.

Ma chère, I never go anywhere I’m not invited. Although I hope you will save your rejection until after the tart.”

He placed a slice on her plate and waited while she took a bite. When her eyes closed, he knew he’d scored his first point. No one could resist well-done French cuisine.

“Amazing,” she replied.

“And that is only the beginning. By the time tonight is over, you’ll have discovered that most things in Provence are amazing. And irresistible.”

Ooh…love the tension! Can’t wait to find out what happens next. 😀

Purchase Links:

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

BAM:  https://www.booksamillion.com/p/One-Night-Provence/Barbara-Wallace/Q393756081?id=7684037147673

Publisher (US):  https://www.harlequin.com/shop/books/9781488043819_one-night-in-provence.html

Publisher (UK):  https://www.millsandboon.co.uk/products/hqnsingle-07183501

Publisher (Australia):  https://store.millsandboon.com.au/products/one-night-in-provence

Add it to Goodreads or BookBub:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43891484-one-night-in-provence

https://www.bookbub.com/books/one-night-in-provence-by-barbara-wallace

What are people saying about One Night in Provence?

 

 

One Night in Provence by Barbara Wallace is a Hallmark movie wrapped up in book form. Ms. Wallace did such a great job that I could picture everything happening. I felt so bad for these two every time they seemed to make progress then they’d fall back a couple of steps. This book was excellent, and I loved every minute of reading it.” – Karen (Baroness Book Trove), Goodreads and Amazon

I absolutely loved this book the characters were great! The setting was brilliant! I loved how it turn out. I’m looking forward to more in this series.” – Penney Wilfort, Amazon and Goodreads

“Another home run from Barbara Wallace! Two unlikely people from very different worlds who have given up on love and the hope of having a happily ever after come together for one week in Provence, France, a week that will change their lives forever. Perfect, uplifting beach read! You could almost smell the beautiful flowers that go into making perfume from this magnificent region of the world. ” – Valerie DeAngelis, Goodreads

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

About Barbara Wallace

My love affair with writing began the day my best friend, Kim, showed me her “novel”, an illustrated tome about her cat. Impressionable eight-year-old that I was, I decided to write a novel of my own.

Needless to say, that novel, The Adventures of Ginger the Cat, failed to hit the bestseller’s lists. Neither did my second effort, The Tame, Tame East, an all-female version of the Robert Conrad TV series. That didn’t matter. I was hooked. In high school, while other kids played Pac-Man, and checked out the Eagles’ latest, I was in my room pounding out stories on my manual typewriter.

Looking back, I see now that romance played a central role in my stories from the beginning. No matter what genre I wrote (and I wrote all of them), I always inserted a happy ending. Heck, even The Adventures of Ginger featured a wedding. To me, there’s nothing more captivating than the anticipation of seduction, and the rush that comes from finding true love.  However, it wasn’t until a co-worker handed me a romance novel that my writing finally found its true home.

For years I limited my dreams to nights, weekends and commuter train trips while working as a communications specialist, PR freelancer and full-time mom.  But then, after years of knocking on doors, I sold to Harlequin Romance. Today, I’ve sold nearly 1 million books world-wide.  And, I couldn’t have done it without you.

A life-long Yankee, I live in New England with my own true love and two spoiled, rescue cats.  They are currently pouting because they’ve been informed neither of them will have a book written about them. Or because they want more food.  It’s a fifty-fifty shot.

 

Books:

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

 

Once again, I want to thank Barbara Wallace, the brilliant author of this modern 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, vacation romance, Women's Fiction, Writers, Writing, Writing Tips

Cover Reveal Feature: Dopey Women by author Laura Barnard

I am pleased to announce a cover reveal by author Laura Barnard! Dopey Women is a fun romantic comedy that you just can’t miss. Look for the audio book to release soon! 🙂

Cover redesigns are very exciting for both authors and readers because we get to meet lots of new people, and a former book gets a cool makeover! So, check this one out if you can!

Let’s have a look at Laura’s novel today…

Nice cover!

This is the blurb for Dopey Women

From chemo… to cannabis… to chaos…

When Sadie and her colleagues find themselves out of a job and down on their luck, they know desperate times call for desperate measures.

What starts off as a crazy idea to sell marijuana to the ladies at her friend’s chemo sessions quickly spirals into a booming drug empire.

But they didn’t expect a sexy detective on their trail, suspicious neighbors, and drug dealers angry they’re working on their patch.

Can Sadie pull them out of this dangerous world they’ve found themselves in? And can she do it before they end up in prison?

How about an excerpt?

Ooh! Looks intriguing! 😉

Readers, don’t forget to pick up a copy of this awesome tale! Or add it to your Goodreads TBR list…

Laura is also running a cool Facebook giveaway, with the chance to win a signed paperback, just to thank everyone for spreading the word about her cover makeover! ♥♥♥

Purchase Links:

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

Amazon:  mybook.to/DopeyW

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/44102222-dopey-women

Thanks for giving us a sneak peek at this book, Laura! It looks like quite a ride! 😀

Author Bio

Amazon Best Seller Laura Barnard lives in Hertfordshire, UK and writes romantic comedy or ‘chick lit’ as it’s so often described. In her spare time she enjoys drinking her body weight in tea, indulging in cupcakes the size of her face and drooling over hunks like Jamie Dornan, Ryan Gosling and Leo Dicaprio.

She enjoys wearing yoga pants and reading fitness magazines while sitting on the sofa eating chocolate. She’s a real fan of the power nap, loves setting her friends up together and, of course, READING!

She writes not to get rich or famous, but because she LOVES writing. Even if one person tells her they enjoyed her book, this makes the midnight typing worth it!

Author Links

Website:  https://www.laurabarnardbooks.co.uk/

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

Amazon Author Page:  https://www.amazon.com/Laura-Barnard/e/B00E4WTI26/

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3490836.Laura_Barnard

Pinterest:  https://www.pinterest.com/barnardlaura/

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

 

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

Happy reading, everyone!   😉  And have a lovely weekend!

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Filed under Authors, Book News, Books, Contemporary, contest, cover reveal, Event, Fiction, giveaway, Mystery, Readers, Romance, romantic comedy, Women's Fiction

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

.•*´¨❥¸.•*´¨ NEW RELEASE¸.•*´¨❥¸.•*´¨

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

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

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

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

Let’s hear a little about this great book…

Nice!

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

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

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

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

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

Great cover!

 

Book Info:

Author: Empi Baryeh

Series: From Ghana With Love #2

Publisher: Black Opal Books

Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Multicultural

Heat Level: Sensual

Cover Artist: Kim Killion

Release Date: March 30, 2019

 

Here is an excerpt.

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

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

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

“Are you always on the defensive?”

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

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

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

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

“In that case, how about this?”

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

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

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

She threw up.

On him.

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

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

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

“I am so sorry,” she said.

“We need to get you to a hospital.”

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

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

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

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

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

“You didn’t drink.”

“No, but you did.”

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

“I’m not sick. I’m—”

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

“I’m…uh.”

His eyes narrowed. “You’re what?”

“I’m…”

Shiiit.

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

Purchase Links:

PRAISE FOR EXPECTING TY’S BABY

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

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

OMG! Love all the tension. ♥♥♥

Ooh…what a tale!😉

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

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

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

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

And catch book one in the series!

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

Author Bio

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

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

Author Links

Website:  https://www.empibaryeh.com/

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

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/EmpiBaryeh

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

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

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

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

 

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

Thanks again to Empi and her blog tour sponsor!

We hope to see you back on ILRB sometime. 

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

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

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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Winter Love’s A Treat Mega Book Giveaway and 500th Anniversary Post

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Winter Love’s A Treat Mega Book Giveaway

Hi, readers! If you’re visiting the blog today, you are either a loyal follower, or you came across the site because you love “Romance” as much as I do. Both, perhaps? To mark our official 500th post, we’re having a rare, yet awesome event here on ILRB. And it’s just in time for Christmas…yay! 🙂

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Often enough, romance readers want to know…well, which book spurred an author’s interest in the genre. We all have to start somewhere, and a good writer is first a reader. So, I thought it would be cool to get a unique take on the genre straight from the source. Plus, what is more suitable for the blog’s theme – combining tips on romantic relationships with our avid love of romance novels – than a massive giveaway comprised of romance books?

Forty-two authors have banded together this week to not only give a hint of their reading preferences, but also to offer a chance to win some great prizes! These aren’t just holiday romance tales, but rather books you can read year-round, covering various subgenres (for an overview on different romance categories, refer to this post I wrote for Writing in the Modern Age). So exciting, right?

 The Rules

With almost 200 opportunities to win, we have a lot going on here! If you’d like to enter the contest, please comment on the thread below. Be sure to include YOUR NAME AND EMAIL ADDRESS, or we won’t be able to contact you. Though you can, of course, state the book titles or titles which interest you, to be fair to everyone please LIST YOUR PREFERRED ROMANCE SUBGENRES (for example: if erotica offends you, let us know, and also tell us if you already have one of the books in the list). All contest entries will be compiled, and then a randomizer will be used to select winners. The goal here is to make sure every participant wins at least once, if possible, so don’t be shy about telling us what you like or don’t like in your reading preferences; also if you’re open to trying something new. A lot of books are available in ebook format, but some are signed paperbacks. Leave us all your information in a comment below, or IF you prefer anonymity, you can email me at marieannlavender@gmail.com with the subject heading ‘WINTER LOVE GIVEAWAY ENTRY’.

I can’t emphasize enough how much I WILL NEED YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS TO REACH YOU. I can’t traipse all over social media, trying to figure out how to contact you. Some people have similar names, and it’s like searching for an earring in a pile of thumbtacks. Painful, and just plain irritating. LOL. So, definitely tell us (or at least yours truly) how to reach your awesome self. 😉

Without further ado, let’s have a look at the prizes, and learn just what our favorite authors are reading these days…

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The Prizes and Author Q&As

Prize #1

Author: K.C. Sprayberry

Title: At Home Christmas

Genre: Military Romance

Format: Ebook

# of copies: 5

Blurb: Love found and lost in a day.

A heart shattered.

Christmas with the family. An ideal, sweet homecoming… Or the torturous reminder that family can be your worst enemy.

Cat Helmstead suffers a grievous loss while on temporary duty in Spain with the Air Force. Her heart shatters and she sinks into a grief so profound that she’s ready to join the man she loved so much. Until she’s sent home, to spend the holidays with her family and makes several important discoveries that will change her future forever.

Can Cat move on from losing the only guy she’s ever been attracted to?

Universal Reader Link: https://books2read.com/u/3L07d0

Answered Questions

Your Top 5 Romance Books: Highland Velvet, The Velvet Promise, Sweet Liar, A Knight in Shining Armor, Velvet Angel – all by Jude Deveraux.

The Book That Made You Fall in Love with the Genre: Sweet Liar by Jude Deveraux.

What Romance Book You’re Reading Right Now: I’m rereading one of my own, Froliche Weihnachten/Merry Christmas. There may or may not be a sequel in progress…

The Latest 3 Romance Titles on Your TBR List: Blackwater Burning, Where Have All the Cowboys Gone, Josey’s Mountain by Elle Marlow.

 

Prize #2

Author: Vina Arno

Title: Finder Keeper of My Heart

Genre: New Adult Romance

Format: Ebook (via Amazon or Barnes & Noble; provide the retailer you prefer and the appropriate email address for your device.)

# of copies: 2

Blurb: An aspiring Broadway actress believes her soul mate is named Avery, thanks to a message in a bottle. When she gets lost in a Hawaiian jungle, the mysterious Avery Bell saves her. Could he be The One? MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE meets SERENDIPITY.Universal Reader Link: https://books2read.com/u/m2vw6r

Prize #3

Title: In His Corner

Genre: Contemporary, Sports Romance

Format: Ebook (via Amazon or Barnes & Noble; provide the retailer you prefer and the appropriate email address for your device.)

# of copies: 5

Blurb: ER and romance—they don’t go together. That’s what Dr. Siena Carr thinks until an Olympic boxer walks into her ER with a cut that needs stitching and a passion that consumes her.Universal Reader Link: https://books2read.com/u/38raYZ

Answered Questions

The Book That Made You Fall in Love with the Genre AND Your Top 5 Romance Books:

For a long time, I didn’t realize I’m a romance genre lover at heart because the books I like are not categorized as romance novels but as classic literature. These are the classics that I cherish the most. I re-read these books time and again. They inspire me as a writer and reader both.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

A Room with a View by E.M. Forster

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Emma by Jane Austen

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Prize #4

Author: Leslie Hachtel

Title: The Dream Dancer

Genre: Historical Paranormal Romance

Format: Signed Paperback (U.S. only)

# of copies: 1

Blurb: Lady Bryce has a gift.
She can enter dreams and persuade her will onto others.
It has served her well, especially in eliminating unsatisfactory suitors of her father’s choosing.
But when she encounters Lord Rowland she wants him more than anything and decides to visit him in his sleep and make him desire her above all others.
But will their love be able to conquer all once Bryce’s secret is revealed? Universal Reader Link: https://books2read.com/u/bppv6z

Prize #5

Title: Emma’s Dance

Genre: Historical Paranormal Romance

Format: Signed Paperback (U.S. only)

# of copies: 1

Blurb: Headstrong Emma of Ashford is marrying Lord Alan, the man of her dreams, when her wedding is interrupted. A woman claims to be his long lost betrothed. But is she truly the woman thought dead since she was a child?
Emma is visited by a ghost. Is this spirit the long dead Carlyn who has come to help Emma declare the other woman an imposter? Or just another deception?Universal Reader Link: https://books2read.com/u/3G90or

Prize #6

Title: The Jester’s Dance

Genre: Historical Paranormal Romance

Format: Signed Paperback (U.S. only)

# of copies: 1

Blurb: The Lady Margaret, widowed and lonely, seeks adventure and goes to court disguised as a jester. She falls in love with a handsome Scotsman, Seth, who enlists her help to rescue his family. Together they must face danger, intrigue, and enemies determined to pull them apart. Can their love survive? Can they?Universal Reader Link: https://books2read.com/u/4XKpE6

Prize #7

Title: A Dance in Time

Genre: Historical Paranormal Romance

Format: Signed Paperback (U.S. only)

# of copies: 1

Blurb: Lady Grace imagines escaping her cruel husband and miserable life. A portal into the past offers her so much more than she bargained for. Including meeting the man of her dreams whose life is at risk. Can she save him? Can he rescue her?Universal Reader Link: https://books2read.com/u/4NGz7o

Prize #8

Item: $20 Amazon Gift Card

Format: Swag

# of prizes: 1

Answered Question

The Book That Made You Fall in Love with the Genre: The first romance I read was Ashes in the Wind by Kathleen Woodiwiss and I was hooked.

Prize #9

Author: Maggie Blackbird

Title: Blessed (Book 1 of the Matawapit Family Series)

Genre: Multicultural/Inspirational, MM Romance, Contemporary, Erotic Romance

Format: Ebook

# of copies: 1

Blurb: A mixed-blood Catholic seminarian struggles to discern his true calling:  the priesthood or his ex-lover, a proud but damaged Ojibway man.

It’s been ten years since Emery Matawapit sinned, having succumbed to temptation for the one thing in his life that felt right, another man.  In six months he’ll make a life-changing decision that will bar him from sexual relationships for the rest of his life.

Darryl Keejik has a decade-long chip on his shoulder, and he holds Emery’s father, the church deacon, responsible for what he’s suffered:  the loss of his family and a chance at true love with Emery. No longer a powerless kid, Darryl has influence within the community—maybe more than the deacon, and he intends on using his newfound power to destroy Deacon Matawapit and the church.

Hoping to save the church, Emery races home.  But stopping Darryl is harder than expected when their sizzling chemistry threatens to consume Emery. Now he is faced with the toughest decision of his life:  please his devout parents and fulfill his call to the priesthood, or remain true to his heart and marry the man created for him.

An erotic spiritual journey.

Universal Reader Link: https://books2read.com/u/bOAgpA

Answered Question

Your Top 5 Romance Books

The Latest 3 Romance Titles on Your TBR List: The Guarded Trilogy by Addison Carmichael

Prize #10

Author: Debbie De Louise

Title: Cloudy Rainbow

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Format: Ebook

# of copies: 2

Blurb: When you lose a loved one, whether it’s a relative, friend, or precious pet, you wonder where that special soul has gone and if you will ever see him or her again. For Dulcie Mills, Long Island computer programmer, the answer may lie between a virtual world and the real one, between the past and the present, between dreams and reality.

Unable to get over her fiancé’s death and facing the impending loss of her 15-year-old cat, Dulcie escapes to a virtual world. When Dulcie’s best friend accepts a job from a clairvoyant who offers predictions regarding Dulcie’s dead fiancé and Dulcie becomes attracted to an online stranger, history begins to repeat itself in ways that are both promising and terrifying. What Dulcie discovers through a virtual séance may mean the only chance she has left for love or death itself.

Addressing topics of reincarnation and soul transfer in similar ways as Greg Iles’ Sleep No More and Nora Roberts’ Midnight Bayou, Cloudy Rainbow features an interesting mix of technology and the paranormal and will also appeal to cat lovers.Universal Reader Link: mybook.to/CR2

 

Prize #11

Title: When Jack Trumps Ace

Genre: Romantic Comedy

Format: Ebook

# of copies: 2

Blurb: Jackie Riordan’s in trouble . . .

When her jewel-thief father is caught in the middle of a heist, Jackie makes her getaway to his ex-jail pal’s apartment. a man called Ace, who lives in an upscale neighborhood of Chicago. What she doesn’t count on is falling in love with him and becoming his partner in crime. She also doesn’t expect to compete with Ace’s old flame or deal with his cat Roxie who causes her allergy attacks.

All bets are off . . .

After Jackie discovers clues left by her father which lead her to a treasure that Ace may have stolen, she contemplates her next move. Should she trust Ace and believe her father gave him the money, or head home to her mother, a religious hypocrite who would have no qualms about ratting out her own daughter to the cops?

Things that sparkle aren’t always Diamonds . . .

Before Jackie can decide who the good guys really are, she finds herself atop the Willis Tower carrying her father’s ashes in her pocket and aiding Ace in the largest jewelry heist of his life. Things go terribly wrong, and Jackie’s only choice seems to be to walk away from Ace or face imprisonment. Universal Reader Link: mybook.to/Jackebook

Answered Questions

Your Top 5 Romance Books

  1. Me Before You by Jo Jo Moyes
  2. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audry Niffenegger
  3. Time and Again by Jack Finney
  4. Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas by James Patterson
  5. The Gift of a Charm by Melissa Hill

The Book That Made You Fall in Love with the GenreLove Story by Erich Segal

What Romance Book You’re Reading Right Now: The Dinner List by Rebecca Searle

The Latest 3 Romance Titles on Your TBR List:

  1. As You Wish by Jude Deveraux
  2. The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks
  3. Alaskan Holiday by Debbie Macomber

Prize #12

Author: David Russell

Title: Self’s Blossom

Genre: Literary Romance

Format: Ebook

# of copies: 1

Blurb: 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!

Universal Reader Link: https://books2read.com/u/3J8d5J

Answered Question

The Book That Made You Fall in Love with the GenreThe first romance book to grab me was The Girl Beneath the Lion by Andre Pieyre de Mandiargues. What really catalyzed me to write in this genre was The Lamorna Reach by Joy V. Sheridan, written in the 80s and recently published on Amazon.

Prize #13

Author: Bry Ann

Title: Enzio

Genre: Mafia Romance

Format: Ebook

# of copies: 1

Blurb: First things first, let me introduce myself.

My name is supervisory special agent Derek Enzio Johnson.

But many know me as Enzio, Underboss of the Italian-American Mafia.

Yeah.

To say my life is complicated would be the understatement of the century. I live two lives. Criminal by day, agent by night. My job you ask.

Simple.

Get enough intel to arrest three men: Adam Ruston, Frances Capello and Sven Xander. AKA, the mafia boss, Capo and what they believed to be the underboss.

I definitely didn’t plan on meeting such incredible people. One in particular.

Lacey Ruston, the boss’s wife.

As if this all wasn’t hard enough. By far, my hardest undercover job.

So, for the first time in my life, I’m torn between right and wrong. And to add to it, every day I have a role to play where my life hangs in a delicate balance.

I’m barely keeping it together.

And that’s before Iris Jane Shelby.

Trigger Warning: Sexual content. Universal Reader Link: https://books2read.com/u/boZRMv

Prize #14

Title: Saving Her

Genre: New Adult Romance

Format: Ebook

# of copies: 1

Blurb:

SAM:

What is love?
Is it patient?
Is it kind?
Who the hell knows.
I don’t.
I just know I must save the one person I’ve ever opened my cold heart up to.
I don’t care what it takes to save her.
I sell drugs. I sell my soul. I don’t care. She just has to live.
Then enters Logan Prescott.
He makes sure to screw everything up. He makes me care.
He makes me feel…
And that is just not okay.

LOGAN:

Hollywood.
Lies. Sex. Fans. Attention.
Lonely.
I’ve been alone for far too long, caught up in a world I love but is slowly killing me.
The real me. The one behind the lights.
Then there’s her. The smart ass waitress who hates me with a fiery passion.

Trigger Warning: This is not a typical love story. Sam and Logan’s story contains disturbing scenes, drugs, sex and strong language.Universal Reader Link: https://books2read.com/u/3nY0M8

Answered Question

The Book That Made You Fall in Love with the GenreThe first book that made me love romance books was The Dark Light of Day by TM Frazier, and to this day it is still my all-time favorite book.

Prize #15

Authors: Lance and James Morcan

Title: Into the Americas

Genre: Historical Romantic Adventure

Format: Kindle ebook

# of copies: 1

Blurb: INTO THE AMERICAS (A novel based on a true story) is a gritty, real-life adventure based on one of history’s greatest survival stories. It was inspired by the diary entries of young English blacksmith John Jewitt during his time aboard the brigantine The Boston and also during his sojourn at Nootka Sound, on North America’s western seaboard, from 1802 to 1805.

Written by father-and-son writing team Lance & James Morcan (authors of The World Duology and The Orphan Trilogy), INTO THE AMERICAS is a tale of two vastly different cultures – Indigenous North American and European civilization – colliding head on. It is also a Romeo and Juliet story set in the wilderness.

Nineteen year-old blacksmith John Jewitt is one of only two survivors after his crewmates clash with the fierce Mowachaht tribe in the Pacific Northwest. A life of slavery awaits John and his fellow survivor, a belligerent American sailmaker, in a village ruled by the iron fist of Maquina, the all-powerful chief. Desperate to taste freedom again, they make several doomed escape attempts over mountains and sea. Only their value to the tribe and John’s relationship with Maquina prevents their captors from killing them.

As the seasons pass, John ‘goes Indian’ after falling in love with Eu-stochee, a beautiful maiden. This further alienates him from his fellow captive whose defiance leads to violent consequences. In the bloodshed that follows, John discovers another side to himself – a side he never knew existed and a side he detests. His desire to be reunited with the family and friends he left behind returns even stronger than before.

The stakes rise when John learns Eu-stochee is pregnant. When a final opportunity to escape arises, he must choose between returning to civilization or staying with Eu-stochee and their newborn son.

INTO THE AMERICAS has been adapted to a feature film screenplay and is in early development with Morcan Motion Pictures.Universal Reader Link: https://books2read.com/u/bzP5qZ

Answered Question

What Romance Book You’re Reading Right Now: I’m currently reading OUTLANDER by Diane Gabaldon (Fantastic TV series, by the way).

Prize #16

Author: Devika Fernando

Title: Hidden Hopes

Genre: Sweet Contemporary Romance

Format: Ebook

# of copies: 2

Blurb: A movie star hiding from the world – A teacher on vacation in the Rockies – Forbidden attraction that blooms into more

The last thing famous Hollywood actor Colby Williams needs is another personal tragedy splattered all over the media. To lie low and find himself again, the star stays incognito at a cozy bed & breakfast in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. But the solitude is broken by another guest: an intriguing woman who sees beyond his brooding surface and makes him feel alive again. Should he really open his heart and his life to her?

Hope Parker has come to Pleasant View to meet one of her best friends, not to fall in love with a mysterious stranger whose mood changes are infuriating. But something about this man on a quest for a second chance touches her. Can she handle the baggage he comes with?

* * *
This small town romance series features novels that each revolve around a bed & breakfast in a different country. The books are sweet romance, set in countries like England, Canada, and Italy. They can be read separately as stand-alones with a happy ending and are great for fans of Nora Roberts. No cliffhangers, no cheating, but some mild swearing.

Book 1: Tantalizing Temptations (Inn Love 1 – England)
Book 2: Hidden Hopes (Inn Love 2 – Canada)
Book 3: Sweet Surprises (Inn Love 3 – Italy) [releases in 2019]Universal Reader Link: https://books2read.com/u/4NGzN8

Answered Questions

The Book That Made You Fall in Love with the Genre: The first book that made me fall in love with the romance genre was one by Nora Roberts, more than a decade ago. I can’t remember the exact title (and I read it in German those days, as opposed to her English books now). She’s still my favorite romance author.

 

Prize #17

Author: Remy Marie

Title: Jason’s Awakening

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Format: Paperback (U.S. only)

# of copies: 1

Blurb: Is true love fated or based on free will?

Before the attack, Jason Barton had a friends-don’t-date-friends philosophy when it came to being with the person he adored, Trini Davos. Trini, however, shared a different viewpoint and wanted nothing more than to be with the boy next door. For the last five years, the two shared a will-they-or-won’t-they relationship. Always friends, but nothing more.

However a brazen attack by a group of outlawed werewolves changed everything the long-time friends shared. They narrowly escaped death only to discover they became the wild beasts they feared. Transformed into something else, the two go on a journey not only to discover themselves, but to discover the true meaning of love.

Jason’s Awakening offers a fresh take on the paranormal romance genre. Filled with non-stop action, steamy romance, and twists no one will see coming, this book will keep the reader hooked from start to finish.

 “This book was not what I was expecting at all. First off, loved that it didn’t immediately go into the supernatural stuff; there was a lot of character building in the first few chapters and I loved Trini, Jason and Mohinder. (I have such a soft spot of Mo, he was my favorite) Each of the characters is very diverse and they really help to drive the plot. This book plays on the ‘soul mate’ trope in werewolf fiction, which is heavily used and turns this book right on its head. The mythology is brilliant, in-depth and well thought out. 5/5” – Amazon Reader

“I was very excited to read this book as I love all things related to werewolves. This book certainly did not disappoint and I was hooked from the beginning.” – Lost in a Book ReviewUniversal Reader Link: https://books2read.com/u/mqZdO6

Answered Questions

Your Top 5 Romance BooksI have so many, here are a few at the top of my mind. Heroes: Saving Charlie by Aury Willington, Breaking Dragon by Jordan Marie, At Any Price by Brenna Aubrey, Heartbreaker by Logan Chance, Breakaway by Heather Orgeron

The Book That Made You Fall in Love with the GenreHeroes: Saving Charlie by Aury Willington  (My first romance book!)

What Romance Book You’re Reading Right Now: Immersion by L.L Ash

The Latest 3 Romance Titles on Your TBR List: Every Breath by Nicholas Sparks, Stuck by Logan Chance, The Wedding Date by Jamsmine Guillory.

 

Prize #18

Author: Tanya W. Newman

Title: Winter Rain

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Format: Ebook

# of copies: 1

Blurb: Gifted musician and singer Isabel Carson gets an unexpected phone call, asking her to come back for a reunion tour with a band she played for several years ago. Although she has serious reservations, Isabel reluctantly agrees…mainly because she can’t pass up the opportunity to see Spencer Logan, the man she loves, one last time. Six years ago, Isabel’s relationship with Spencer was sabotaged by Thomas, the jealous and possessive lead singer, and both men hurt her badly. However, once the band is reunited, it doesn’t take long for Isabel to realize she’s made a terrible mistake. Some things cannot be forgiven, and she would have been better off to have left the past in the past, where it belongs—especially since Isabel now hides a painful secret, one that, if exposed, could destroy what little peace and happiness she’s managed to achieve.Universal Reader Link: https://books2read.com/u/m2vw07

Prize #19

Title: The Good Thief

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Format: Ebook

# of copies: 1

Blurb: Two days before Christmas, shy bookstore owner Scotlyn Carter survived a traumatic bank robbery and subsequent kidnapping. Now, three months later, she still wakes up hearing the robber’s promise to find her—and kill her.

Then James McIntyre, the high school flame whose easy smile and mysterious eyes she could never forget, walks back into her life. As she falls for him once again, Scotlyn slowly begins to feel safe for the first time in a long time and thinks that maybe her nightmare will not come true, after all.

But James is not all that he seems. He is back in Scotlyn’s life for a reason and has been in contact with the very thieves who kidnapped her. And he’s harboring a dark secret that, if brought to light, could not only destroy their relationship—it could end their very lives.Universal Reader Link: https://books2read.com/u/4DlM0k

Prize #20

Author: Tina Donahue

Title: Adored

Genre: Erotic Contemporary Romance

Format: Ebook

# of copies: 3

Blurb: A shameless fantasy come true…

When tall, dark, and delicious Adam Farrell crosses Danni’s radar at a Vegas trade show, it’s not lust at first sight. He’s starred in her wicked fantasies for a while, pleasuring her with domination and submission that leaves her breathless. Aching for his masterful touch, believing she’ll never have it, she indulges in an intimate public act Adam alone witnesses. What follows is a wild and impassioned night in his powerful arms. It’s only the beginning.

An undisclosed business deal has turned Adam from competitor to Danni’s new boss. His hunger for her is absolute and he’ll make her fantasies seem tame as he takes her in ways she never imagined – whenever he wants, wherever he desires.

Seduced by Adam’s plan to mix exquisite control with adoration, Danni’s swept into a sensual adventure she can’t resist. Until corporate politics intrude and she learns what he’s been hiding to protect her… a secret he’s long feared will tear them apart.

Publisher’s Note: This steamy romance contains elements of power exchange.Universal Reader Link:  https://books2read.com/u/bwYPXO

Answered Questions

Your Top 5 Romance Books

Top of Her Game – Emmy Holly

Seducing the Prince – Patricia Grasso

Wicked Loving Lies – Rosemary Rogers

Shanna – Kathleen Woodiwiss

Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

The Book That Made You Fall in Love with the GenreRebecca (technically a gothic mystery, but I still consider it romance).

What Romance Book You’re Reading Right Now: None. unfortunately – too busy writing my own and working a full-time job.

The Latest 3 Romance Titles on Your TBR List:

Gone with the Wind – never read it, but have wanted to

Fifty Shades of Grey – haven’t had time to read it either

McKettrick’s Choice by Linda Lael Miller

Prize #21

Author: Fiona Tarr

Title: The Jericho Prophecy

Genre: Fantasy Romance

Format: Ebook

# of copies: 3

Blurb: The battle for divine power rages within the Eternal Realm.

As the conflict escalates a prophecy is born that will set god against god amidst the mortal world below.
When the young priestess Rahab saves two foreigners from execution, she sets in motion a sequence of events that could see the death of everyone she knows and loves.

The future of humanity hangs in the balance as two bloodlines converge to battle over the city of Jericho. Now the Goddess Asherah must protect the prophecy and ensure both ancestral lines survive.

If either bloodline dies, the Host of Heaven will continue to battle for eternity…

-Finalist – 2018 – Author Academy and Readers’ Favorite Awards

“Fiona Tarr is a highly entertaining writer with exceptional storytelling skills.” – Eeva Lancaster for Readers’ Favorite

“A truly wonderful read with the plot very skillfully woven throughout the book.” – Claire Simpson

“Great book by a great author!! Definitely a Must Read!!!” – Ellen EngelbrechtUniversal Reader Link: https://books2read.com/u/4NGz0J

Prize #22

Author: Palvi Sharma

Title: A Second Tomorrow

Genre: Young Adult Reincarnation Romance

Format: Ebook

# of copies: 2

Blurb: 1876 – Arianna is living a simple life. Devoted to her family, she is ready to sacrifice her dreams and marry the man her father has decided for her. Then she meets Renaud and she faces a difficult choice: should she choose love over family?

Present day
Mayara isn’t looking forward to graduation because that would mean she would never get to see Kanvar again, a guy she’s had a crush on for two years. She is about to reveal her feelings to him when her younger brother claims that Kanvar has been bullying him.

It is up to Mayara to figure out whether her instincts about Kanvar are true or not.

Two different eras, a love that challenges the beliefs of two young women. Can they balance both their family’s happiness and their own?Universal Reader Link: https://books2read.com/u/49D10w

Answered Questions

Your Top 5 Romance Books

A Girl Named Rose by Betty Neels

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Love Comes Softly by Janette Oke

The Kissing Booth by Beth Reekles

The Book That Made You Fall in Love with the GenreIt would have to be A Girl Named Rose by Betty Neels. I must have read it fifty times!

What Romance Book You’re Reading Right Now: Unfortunately, I haven’t found the time to read because I’m currently working on my new novel. Just a few chapters left before I take a break and get some reading done.

The Latest 3 Romance Titles on Your TBR List:

The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

Every Breath by Nicholas Sparks

From Lukov with Love by Mariana Zapata

Prize #23

Author: Viviana MacKade

Title: His Midnight Sun

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Format: Ebook

# of copies: 1

Blurb: Tormented, fierce, and broken, sculptor Aidan Murphy has judged himself guilty. He yearns for love but pushes everyone away. He longs for acceptance but has lost the key to open his heart. Until he meets Summer Williams. Beautiful and smart, Dr. Williams promises haven for a man who believes he deserves none. All he has to do is let her in and risk his heart and soul.

Summer’s managed to keep her inner light alive, even through tragedy. She’s created a new life for herself and her daughter in Crescent Creek with loving, caring and fun friends–well, except brooding, breathtaking Aidan. She’s used to keeping away from his type, though. All she has to do is ignore the pull of a man who’s turning out to be much more than snarls and storms. Will her compassion and medical instincts let her?

Love can heal a broken soul and shake up a timid heart. Or it can unleash devastation and revenge.

Will Aidan and Summer survive the hurricane?Universal Reader Link: https://books2read.com/u/mYowkw

Answered Questions

Your Top 5 Romance Books

1. Edward Rutherfurd – London and Dublin

Both London and Dublin are cities I loved. I lived very close to London for five years, so I was able to visit and know her quite a bit. And I went to Dublin for the tenth anniversary with my husband, and I fell in love, totally and completely, with the city and Ireland. So those two books are a dream for me. I was able to witness how the cities changed and grew, and it was fantastic.

2. Nora Roberts – anything by her, really.

She’s the reason why I started writing, the one who got me hooked with the genre. Whatever she writes, I’ll read.

3. Marie Force – Fatal Series

The Hero and Heroine of this series are the only ones I love as much as I love Nora. Which is funny, because I’d read a book from Marie Force and hated it. Luckily for me, I have trouble remembering names so when I picked up the first book in the Fatal Series, I didn’t connect the author with the previous book and by the time I did, I was already gone for the series.

4. Emily Bronte – Wuthering Heights

No need to explain this one.

5. Bernard Cornwell – anything and everything

Love the guy. In my mind, he and Nora are an item and reign together in Paradise Book.

Wouldn’t that be simply awesome?

Prize #24

Author: Diane Merrill Wigginton

Title: Angelina’s Secret

Genre: Historical Paranormal Romance

Format: Ebook

# of copies: 1

Prize #25

Format: Paperback (U.S. only)

# of copies: 1

Blurb: If you were asked to keep a secret to save the life of someone you barely knew, would you?

Lady Angelina Stewart is a bold, beautiful, independent woman with a terrible secret to hide. After returning home from a sea voyage, she is touted as a hero for saving her family’s ship and crew from a band of ruthless pirates. But Angelina is a fraud. She allowed that dreadful pirate captain to touch a part of her that no other man has ever been able to touch before, until now; her heart.

Captain Jude Deveraux is leading a double life. He and his band of French privateers steal, rob and plunder unsuspecting ships that have the misfortune of wandering into their domain. Awarded a title by the King of France for bravery during battle, The Duke of Bayonne, A.K.A. Pirate Captain, takes what he wants from the world as he and best friend, Honore live each day as if it were their last. That is until the day Jude discovers that the only thing he truly wants is to capture the untamed heart of fiery tempered, Lady Stewart for his own.

Universal Reader Link: https://books2read.com/u/brGnEz

Prize #26

Title: Isabella’s Heart

Genre: Historical Paranormal Romance

Format: Ebook

# of copies: 1

Prize #27

Format: Paperback (U.S. only)

# of copies: 1

Blurb: If you had a twin, how far would you go to save their life?

It is 1783 England and Isabella Deveraux is an independent, fearless young woman who has hardened her heart to everyone that mattered to her, until the night she experiences a disturbing dream about her twin brother, Charlie. It is the eve of their 19th birthday and Charlie and his two school mates have been abducted by the devil incarnate. Isabella resolves to do whatever it takes to save her beloved twin, even if that means reconciling with her estranged family and placing her life in the hands of an intimidating Irish mercenary Captain by the name of Townsend.

Captain Aiden Townsend is more than willing to save the lives of three privileged schoolboys, for the right price. Jaded by his own devastating loss years before, Aiden has worked hard to keep his distance from the female persuasion. That is until the day he is introduced to Lady Isabella Deveraux. He recognized her as a kindred spirit the moment he looked into her fiery eyes and as he sails his ship from England to Dublin, with the beautiful Lady Deveraux aboard, he formulates a plan to help her. But if his plan is to work, he must break through the walls that surround her heart while tearing down a few of his own.

Universal Reader Link: https://books2read.com/u/bQ9Lk0

Prize #28

Title: Olivia’s Promise

Genre: Historical Paranormal Romance

Format: Ebook

# of copies: 1

Prize #29

Format: Paperback (U.S. only)

# of copies: 1

Blurb: If you had a unique set of skills and could save your best friend from a fate worse than death, would you?

Lady Olivia Sophia Allen Townsend is not only young and beautiful but considered by most in her polite social circle to be far too eccentric for her own good. Olivia’s been able to see and speak to spirits since she was very young, but the years of shunning by her peers caused Olivia to turn her back on those who need her the most; the spirits caught between two worlds. That is until the night her best friend Lilly comes to her asking for help. You see, Lilly can’t remember what happened to her, and finds herself in need of Olivia’s unique gifts to help her figure it out.

Coco, Olivia’s younger sister, is also gifted. She can touch someone and know their deepest, darkest secrets, often the very secrets they would prefer to keep hidden.

Together, the sisters set off on a sea voyage, from Ireland to America, intent on solving the mystery of Lilly’s untimely death.

Brody and Quinton Beaumont are fine-looking, eligible southern gentlemen: heirs to a successful cotton empire. They are also twins hiding a terrible secret. Their mother, Annabelle Beaumont died on the same night as their annual winter ball, eight years earlier, yet she continues to rule over their plantation home with an iron fist.

When these two families come together, secrets will be revealed.

Universal Reader Link: https://books2read.com/u/bWzDk7

Answered Questions

Books That I Have Loved Over the Years and the Books That Made Me Want to Write: anything by Jane Austen, Pride & Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander Series – the first 4 books in the series, Katherine Woodiwiss – A Rose in Winter, Come Love a Stranger.

What Romance Book You’re Reading Right Now: Virgin to Victor by Trisha Hughes, a fascinating history of Royals from Mary of Scots and Bloody Mary, Elizabeth the Virgin Queen and on down. It is riveting the amount of research she has put into this book. Other than that, I am not doing much reading since I have just finished writing a novel, Lara’s Story, and I am working on a 5th novel, Compromising Position. I try not to read too much so that I am not influenced by someone else’s style while I am crafting my books.

The Latest 4 Romance Titles on Your TBR List: Forbidden Highlands – crafted by a group of writers, Highland Spy by Madeline Martin, Word of Honor by Alexa Aston, Everything Forbidden by Kess Michaels

Prize #30

Author: CJ Warrant

Title: Sweet Reunion

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Format: Ebook

# of copies: 1

Blurb: On the brink of losing her bakery, Beth Monroe must accept help from Bryce Landry, the college love who broke her heart, or watch her dream fail.

After a broken engagement, Bryce gave up on the idea of real love until he walks into Beth’s bake shop. He has no clue why she is curt with him. But to get into her good graces, Bryce gives her an offer she can’t refuse, which opens up both their hearts and exposes the love they had for each other.Universal Reader Link: https://books2read.com/u/bMQj8G

Prize #31

Title: Sweet Redemption

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Format: Ebook

# of copies: 1

Blurb: Heading to Chicago for his mother’s funeral, Markus Landry is waylaid by a piece of metal piercing his gas tank. Stuck in the small town of Valentine, Oklahoma, he meets a vivacious spitfire librarian, Charlie White, who quickly gets under his skin. Markus wants more than a taste of her sweet lips and asks her to take a trip back to his hometown.

With just over a month left before Charlie has to close down her beloved Library, meeting Markus is a welcome distraction from her anguish about what she has to do. Even though she barely knows the man, Charlie takes a chance and lets her attraction for Markus take the lead and hope he doesn’t break her heart.

But seeing the brother he betrayed, Markus doubts he’s worth Charlie’s affection and pushes her away. Their chemistry is undeniable, but love may not be enough when you’re looking for redemption.Universal Reader Link: https://books2read.com/u/m0gD8M

Answered Question

Your Top 5 Romance Books

  1. Lucy Lennox- any one of the Forever Wilde series
  2. Sarina Bowen –  Goodbye Paradise
  3. Tillie Cole – Hades Hangman Series
  4. Charlie Cochet – Love in Spades – Four Kings Security series
  5. Ella Frank – Temptation Series

Prize #32

Author: Amber Daulton

Title: Arresting Mason

Genre: Steamy Bad Boy Romantic Suspense

Format: Ebook

# of copies: 2

Blurb: Once you’re in a prison gang, you’re in it for life. That’s what Mason Harding thought until the boss accepted his resignation. After the State releases him on parole, a sexy divorcée behind the wheel of a car almost ends his life quicker than a shank. His chance encounter with Mia Eddison results in a night of passion, but her brother—his parole officer—catches them together and doesn’t approve.

Mia falls hard for the cocky ex-con, but not because of his chiseled body. She vows to break through his walls and discover his secrets, but never expects those secrets to threaten her life.

When members of an organized crime ring kidnap Mia to force Mason’s return to the gang, he goes up against an old friend to save the woman he loves. Will his sacrifice be enough or will everything fall apart in a blaze of gunfire?Universal Reader Link: https://books2read.com/u/bxZLxe

Answered Question

The Book That Made You Fall in Love with the GenreThe first romance book I read was True Blue by Ingrid Weaver when I was twelve years old. After that, I started reading as many romance books as I could find, and I started writing my own books.

Prize #33

Author: Penny Estelle/P.A. Estelle

Title: The Forgotten Ornaments

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Format: Ebook

# of copies: 2

Blurb: Twelve years ago Jim Rustle packed up and left his home in Idaho and hasn’t looked back. He gets quite an awakening when Lisa Parker, whom he hadn’t seen in all those years, breaks into a business meeting and uses some colorful adjectives to tell him just what she thinks of him.
Sparks fly between the two when he decides to follow Lisa home and sees what has happened in his absence. Is the anger stemming from the present or the past?
It’s the Christmas season. Anger, hurt, and misunderstandings have boiled inside Jim and Lisa for so long. Can homemade ornaments, from years past, help heal the betrayals that have festered for years?
The Forgotten Ornaments is a short story with a heat level of two. Universal Reader Link: https://books2read.com/u/47Z9yg

Prize #34

Title: The Unwanted Christmas Guest

Genre: Contemporary Holiday Romance

Format: Ebook

# of copies: 2

Blurb: Elizabeth McMurphy is an up and coming, high powered attorney and is after vengeance, involving one of the richest and most powerful families in Colorado. Steve York is an obnoxious reporter that thinks the ice queen has gone too far and does all he can to get under her skin.

When one of the worst blizzards in history hits Colorado during the Christmas holidays and leaves a hurt Steve York, stranded with Elizabeth in a mountain cabin, her hatred for him starts to thaw. But this attorney has a secret that she will guard, even at the risk of losing her only chance at love.

Universal Reader Link: https://books2read.com/u/bzP5xn

Prize #35

Title: The Christmas Outlaw

Genre: Historical Romance

Format: Ebook

# of copies: 2

Blurb: Christmas Eve is five days away.  This is the day Sheriff Jim Hawkins will marry Charlene Lehman, the woman who will make his life complete and be the mother of his six year old daughter, Sally.

Adam Jacobson, a wanted murderer, is apprehended and it is up to Jim Hawkins to deliver him to Pueblo, Colorado. “I’ll only be gone for two days, Charlene. Nothing in this world will keep me from making you my wife.”

True to his word, Jim makes it home only to find both Charlene and his daughter missing. Heavy snow has covered any tracks to their whereabouts and nobody has seen a thing. All searches have come up empty.

Will the magic of the Christmas season come through or has Jim lost everything he has come to cherish?Universal Reader Link: https://books2read.com/u/mgLQxR

Answered Question

The Book That Made You Fall in Love with the GenreThe book that got me hooked was Rosemary Rogers’ Sweet Savage Love.

Prize #36

Author: Carol Ann Kauffman

Title: Madison’s Christmas

Genre: Holiday Romance

Format: Ebook

# of copies: 1

Blurb: “This is a sweet, short story about a woman who is emotionally fragile during the holiday season. She finds love in the most unexpected way with a man who isn’t afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve. I smiled often as the story developed. It was adorable!”Universal Reader Link: https://books2read.com/u/b5ryGR

Prize #37

Title: Christmas at Star Lake

Genre: Holiday Romance/Mystery

Format: Ebook

# of copies: 1

Blurb: This is the perfect time for a Christmas Murder Mystery! Somebody is killing off Madison’s employees, so she closed down shop, sends everyone home, and heads to a cabin at the lake to think. What could possibly go wrong?Universal Reader Link: https://books2read.com/u/38raNL

Prize #38

Title: I Need Christmas

Genre: Holiday Romance

Format: Ebook

# of copies: 1

Blurb: The story of Betsy Curry, a woman returning home for the holidays with her big, happy family after a crushing divorce.Universal Reader Link: https://books2read.com/u/bppvxk

Prize #39

Title: Bentley Square

Genre: Romantic Adventure

Format: Signed Paperback

# of copies: 1

Blurb: Strangers see each other every day on the train, fantasize about each other, but never speak. Then one day they meet. International intrigue follows.

Universal Reader Link: https://books2read.com/u/4XKp11

Answered Questions

The Book That Made You Fall in Love with the GenreI first fell in love with romantic adventure stories after discovering Jude Deveraux’s wonderful tales of love and longing. Counterfeit Lady, Velvet Lady, The Montgomery Saga. A frontier one with Zeke and Abby…I can’t remember the name, but we all loved it! I was lucky enough to work with a bunch of avid readers. Usually non-fiction. Usually geared toward the education of primary children. But one evening after a teachers meeting, we discovered a little used paperback bookstore and bought everything they had by Jude, then passed them around among us at work. Discussions, late night phone calls, and tears in the teacher’s room ensued. Wonderful experience!

Prize #40

Author: Kenneth Sumerford

Title: Liberty: Romance Out of a Clear Blue Sky, Book 1

Genre: Contemporary Christian Romance

Format: Ebook

# of copies: 30

Blurb: Liberty Adair is recovering from her broken marriage and even has questions about God, science and her future. She is a Christian who unexpectedly meets a college professor who is good-looking, available but an atheist. Sometimes opposites attract. They are worlds apart but both need love and have disturbing questions about science, God and their future romantic relationships.

Dr. Ernest Siegfried is successful until he has a heart attack at age 39. Liberty was divorced from her preacher husband and now wonders if her life has meaning, or is her life without purpose and direction? Liberty has some past hurts from her failed marriage and longs for a good marriage and children. Ernest believes that modern science has replaced beliefs in God. Liberty is researching evolution, intelligent design and questions about the Creator to answer some burning doubts.

At age 28, can she be sure of what is real and what are outdated religious beliefs? How does God interface with humans? Does DNA prove intelligent design by the Creator? Did God create mankind in His image, or did humans create gods and goddesses in their image?

Additional option from Kenneth: I hope you review the book. I have a few paperbacks for free (10) and if you want one, then send me your physical address. Be sure to mention ‘Books Reviews Marie’ in your email. My Email address is bk@Sumerford.comUniversal Reader Link: https://books2read.com/u/3yDAxp

Answered Questions

The Book That Made You Fall in Love with the GenreThe Song of Solomon book in the Bible

What Romance Book You’re Reading Right Now: Buried Secrets by Irene Hannon

Prize #41

Author: McKenna Dean

Title: Ghost of a Chance

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Format: Ebook

# of copies: 1

Blurb: At sixteen, Sarah Atwell walked away from her love of horses and a promising career as a competitive rider after discovering she’d inherited the family curse. Years later, her grandmother stunned everyone by leaving Sarah her horse farm—worth millions—but with conditions Sarah might not be able to meet.

A former Redclaw agent, Casey Barnes retired when a security assignment went bad, killing his partner and leaving him as a partial amputee. His inner wolf is in hiding. He’s been living quietly as a horse trainer, but June Atwell’s death now pits him against her granddaughter for rights to the stable.

With both of them snowed in at the farm, a series of increasingly serious accidents draws Sarah and Casey closer together, but they each harbor secrets that might tear them apart.Universal Reader Link: https://books2read.com/u/4NGzEJ

Answered Questions

Your Top 5 Romance Books

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

The Duchess War by Courtney Milan

Pretty Face by Lucy Parker

To My Muse by Nicola Cameron

Goddess of the Hunt by Tessa Dare

Prize #42

Author: Seelie Kay

Title: Snatching Dianna

Genre: Romantic Suspense, some Erotic Romance

Format: Ebook

# of copies: 2

Blurb: The hours are counting down as investigators try to prove that Dianna Murphy has been snatched. Unfortunately, without witnesses and solid evidence, all the police really know is that she is missing.

When suburban Milwaukee law student Dianna Murphy fails to connect with her roommate, there is no real evidence that she has been snatched. Until Law Professor Janet MacLachlan, a former covert agent, discovers a single clue, one that points to a taking by a slave trafficking cartel. In a race against time, Janet recruits her husband, secret agent Cade Matthews, small-town Police Chief David Manders and his wife, criminal defense attorney Julianna Constant, and other law students to uncover the truth. Can they prove she has been taken, before Dianna disappears without a trace?Universal Reader Link: https://books2read.com/u/mvKgde

Answered Question

What Romance Book You’re Reading Right Now: Betting the Scot by Jennifer Tretheway

Prize #43

Author: Beverly Ovalle

Title: Dragons’ Mate

Genre: Paranormal Romance, Ménage

Format: Ebook

# of copies: 2

Blurb: They had been searching for their mate, but when they find her she is traumatized and scared to be around strange men. They must get her to accept them before they reveal their true natures. Will their love be strong enough to break down her barriers? Could she truly be destined to love two dragons?

Today Annie’s dragons will shift and fulfill her every desire, which means a fiery threesome—and true love.Universal Reader Link: https://books2read.com/u/38r1l7

Prize #44

Title: A Saint’s Salvation

Genre: Contemporary Military Romance

Format: Ebook

# of copies: 2

Blurb: Corporal Nicholas ‘Saint’ Santiago needs to go home to reclaim the man he used to be. To be the man he was before Operation Enduring Freedom slowly hardened his heart. He needs to reconnect to the values and the reasons he is doing what he does. Saint also needs to try to forget the courageous woman he fell in love with.

Petty Officer Angelina Jones’ life changed the moment Saint saved her life. She survived the blast but now has to deal with the fact that she will never be whole. She can’t believe that anyone would want her the way she is now. Digging up her courage, Angelina moves forward hoping against hope that she can live a full life again.

Crossing paths again brings their emotions to a full boil. A coincidence that will have them both reaching for their dreams.Universal Reader Link: https://books2read.com/A-Saints-Salvation

Answered Questions

Your Top 5 Romance Books

Dark Fire by Christine Feehan – My favorite out of all of the series.

Blackwing Defender (Kane’s Mountains Book 1) by T.S. Joyce – really ANY of her books. I’ve read this whole series and all the spinoffs starting with the bears on Damian’s Mountain!

Ice Planet Barbarians: A SciFi Alien Romance by Ruby Dixon. Again, I’ve read this whole series and the spin offs.

Ivan (Her Russian Protector #1) by Roxie Rivera – Loved this whole series.

King by T.M. Frazier – This series grabbed me by the gut. I couldn’t get enough.

The Book That Made You Fall in Love with the GenreI started reading gothic romances in 4th grade so I couldn’t tell you. But I remember the first romance I absolutely fell in love with, The Wolf and the Dove by Kathleen Woodiwiss.

What Romance Book You’re Reading Right Now: I just finished Hacked by Love by Elisa Leigh and am waiting for the next one to come out.

The Latest 3 Romance Titles on Your TBR List: I’m waiting on the next in the Daughters of Beasts series by T.S. Joyce, any of the Barbarians by Ruby Dixon, and the three books in Christine Feehan’s Dark Series I’m behind on. I like to save them up and stay immersed in a world.

Prize #45

Author: Skye McNeill

Title: Appointed by Fate

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Format: Kindle Ebook

# of copies: 3

Blurb: Can second chances really exist for a bad boy mobster and the only woman to ever steal his heart?

One of Iowa’s most prominent criminal attorneys, Joci Dorous is ruthless and devoid of emotion in the courtroom. It’s what makes her the best. Her most recent client allegedly committed murder and, despite a rocky start, Joci is determined to win Cameron Shearer’s case.

Since this is her first homicide, she has the support of a second-chair attorney—her ex who wants her back. To make things more complicated, her hunky cop of a booty call, Cameron’s arresting officer, isn’t quite ready to let her go either. Who knew being surrounded by three hot guys could be so deliciously exhausting?

As the mystery of the case unravels, she soon discovers the true reason behind Cameron’s impromptu visit to Iowa. It’s this knowledge that endangers all those she holds dear. Caught up in confusion, chaos, and criminal law, how will her heart survive the final verdict? Universal Reader Link: https://books2read.com/u/47Z9oE

Prize #46

Title: Hearts Abroad

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Format: Kindle Ebook

# of copies: 1

Blurb: Taking a break from screenwriting in New York City, Londyn Bellerose takes a nannying job in Colorado to get away from the hubbub. A summer to live without regrets is all she wants. While her boss is British, gorgeous, and a millionaire, he has no clue how to have fun. Determined to mend the relationship between father and daughters, Londyn doesn’t expect to fall for the museum curator.

Londyn is American and everything Callum Archer swore to never fall for again. With her carefree spirit and energetic smile, she’s perfect to nanny Callum’s two daughters. The problem is she’s also perfect for him. She’s sassy, musical, and tends to speak her mind more than she means to.

When old history and new dreams threaten her happily ever after, will Londyn and Callum’s love survive?Universal Reader Link: https://books2read.com/u/4jDkn2

Answered Question

Your Top 5 Romance BooksDeep Blue by Kat Martin, The Highlander Series by Maya Banks, Spirited Away by Cindy Miles, Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, and A Little of Chantelle Rose by Cristina Hodgson

Prize #47

Author: Raegyn Perry

Title: Lavender Fields

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Format: Ebook

# of copies: 2

Prize #48

Format: Paperback

# of copies: 2

Blurb: Torrential rain spikes. A scream pierces the dark night.

Greye Fields has immersed herself in her literary work, with no desire to chase the inevitable sting of rejection she knows too well. She won’t allow herself the time or the desire to pursue love.

Until she meets him.

Connor Donovan is perfectly content with his bachelor status. Life is good, teaching middle school English, and being the favorite uncle. He wants for nothing.

Until he meets her.

Shattered glass. A wash of blood.

Is it a nightmare or a memory?

Can Connor and Greye overcome the obstacles to the love of all time, or is tragedy doomed to be repeated?

What if love found the right people in the wrong time?

Universal Reader Link: https://books2read.com/u/bP5PEx

Prize #49

Title: Cypress Groves

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Format: Ebook

# of copies: 2

Prize #50

Format: Paperback

# of copies: 2

Blurb: The journey continues…

Darkness looms.

A horrific event shakes the small, idyllic town of Roy, WA.

Tre Michaels, the new sheriff, has a job to do. He has sworn to serve and protect, with his life if necessary. Though he has no time to pursue the hometown beauty, Angela Donovan, he finds himself gravitating to her.

A supernatural presence is lurking in the shadows of the quiet town.

The once peaceful community is changed forever.

Can Angela and Tre find love, and a happily ever after despite the danger? Or will their fairy tale turn deadly?

The Eternal Journey Series

A journey toward redemption, and truth

A journey toward love.

Be sure to look for the third and final story of the series, Rose Gardens.

Universal Reader Link: https://books2read.com/u/3L07Aw

Prize #51

Item: Holiday Romance Gift Basket (Includes wine, so 21 and over only)

Format: Swag

# of packages: 1

Answered Questions

Your Top 5 Romance Books

  1. Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies-Michael Aiello
  2. Fault in our Stars – John Greene
  3. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
  4. Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas – James Patterson
  5. The Timepiece – Richard Paul Evans

The Book That Made You Fall in Love with the GenreCan’t recall the title now, but I know it was a Nora Roberts!

What Romance Book You’re Reading Right Now: Set in Stone by Aurrora St. James

The Latest 3 Romance Titles on Your TBR List:

  1. Outlander – Diana Gabaldon (love the TV series)
  2. Lucky Harbor Series by Jill Shalvis
  3. The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes

Prize #52

Author: Alice J Miller

Title: The Price to Be Paid

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Format: Ebook

# of copies: 1

Blurb: Kyle Lawson needs a wife, and he needs one now. With his ailing business on the line, the only woman who can rescue him is the stepdaughter of the man who put him in this precarious position in the first place. Can he trust her to come through for him, and save his business?

When given the chance to marry the man of her dreams, while atoning for the sins of her family, Molly Wilson doesn’t hesitate. Propelled into a bogus marriage, she vows to make up for the mistakes of the past, even if it means breaking her own heart.

Can Kyle and Molly put aside their differences and unite, fight for a better future? When their plan is threatened by a secret from Kyle’s past, will it ruin the deal and destroy any hope of a life together?

Amidst the searing heat of Florida, will Molly and Kyle resist their inner desires? Or, despite their troubled past, can love, forgiveness and redemption find a way to shape their future?Universal Reader Link: https://books2read.com/u/b5ry1l

Answered Questions

Your Top 5 Romance Books: Very hard, but I narrowed it down…

Liz Fielding – Anything but Vanilla

Newly Weds of Convenience – Jessica Hart

A Nanny for the New Year – Barbara McMahon

S E Gilchrist – Legend Beyond the Stars

Diane Burton – Switched

The Book That Made You Fall in Love with the GenreWild Justice – Liz Fielding

What Romance Book You’re Reading Right Now: The Lost King – Michael Cuell

It’s set in the days of kings and sword fights, but has romance at the heart of it.

The Latest 3 Romance Titles on Your TBR List:

Kari Lemor – Fatal Evidence (Love on the Line Book 3)

Carrie Nichols – The Sheriff’s Little Matchmaker

Brynn Kelly – Edge of Truth

Prize #53

Author: Jenny Lynn

Title: Captive

Genre: New Adult Romantic Suspense, Dark Romance

Format: Ebook

# of copies: 5

Blurb: In the city of sin, who will be saved?

Beckett Carter is the last of his family; the head of Carter Enterprises and a reclusive billionaire living in a luxurious Las Vegas penthouse. Since his parents’ murder, his obsession with justice has steadily grown stronger, leading him to become the masked vigilante known to criminals as the Phantom. When he’s not out playing the part of a filthy rich playboy he trains his body hard, and in his disguise, he brings the criminal underworld to its knees.

Crime reporter Ella James keeps everyone at arm’s length, throwing herself into her work and her quest to find out what happened to her missing sister. She doesn’t let anyone get close enough to her to see how damaged she really is and afraid to trust anyone fully; she has never let a man touch her. While going undercover she puts her life in danger and discovers the secret identity of the Phantom as he ruthlessly eliminates a room full of criminals. This one night sets off a chain of events neither of them expected.

Faced with the threat of being exposed, Beckett is left with only one choice. He takes Ella captive, keeping her in a secret room until he can complete his mission. In Ella, Beckett finds an opponent unlike any he’s met before – she’s smart, resourceful, and worst of all, innocent. The untouched woman locked away in his penthouse is the greatest temptation he has ever faced.

A tense rivalry between the two grows into something so much more than either could have imagined. When Beckett gives in and shows Ella how dark he can be, can she succeed and show him the light?Universal Reader Link: https://books2read.com/u/3nY0oB

Answered Question

What Romance Book You’re Reading Right Now: I’m currently reading Sin with Me by J.A Huss. I enjoy her writing style; it’s deliciously dark and sensual with quite a few twists and turns. I like a bit of suspense in my romance as a reader and a writer.

Prize #54

Author: Sofie Darling

Title: Three Lessons in Seduction

Genre: Historical Romance

Format: Ebook

# of copies: 1

Blurb: Paris, September 1824 – Lord Nicholas Asquith needs his wife. Too bad he broke her heart ten years ago.

Can he resist a second chance at the love he lost?

When Mariana catches the eye of the man at the center of an assassination plot, Nick puts aside their painful past and enlists her to obtain information by any means necessary, even if it means seducing the enemy agent.

Even if the thought makes his blood boil.

Only by keeping his distance from Mariana these last ten years was he able to pretend indifference to her. With every moment spent with her, he feels his tightly held control slipping…

Can she trust the spy who broke her heart?

Mariana spent the last decade forgetting Nick. Now she has the chance to best him at his own game, an opportunity she can’t resist, even as her view of him begins to shift. Increasingly, she wants nothing more than to seduce her own husband …

It’s only a matter of time before mad passion ignites, a passion never convincingly extinguished. A passion that insists on surrendering to the yearning of the flesh and, quite possibly, of the heart.Universal Reader Link: https://books2read.com/u/bzP5Xq

Prize #55

Title: Tempted by the Viscount

Genre: Historical Romance

Format: Ebook

# of copies: 1

Blurb: London, April 1825

Lord Jakob Radclyffe left his past behind in the Far East. Or so he thinks until a ruthless thief surfaces in London, threatening to ruin his daughter’s reputation. With the clock ticking, Jake needs the scandalous Lady Olivia Montfort’s connections in the art world to protect his daughter’s future.

Olivia, too, has a past she’d like to escape. By purchasing her very own Mayfair townhouse, she’ll be able to start a new life independent from all men. There’s one problem: she needs a powerful man’s name to do so. The Viscount St. Alban is the perfect name.

A bargain is struck.

What Olivia doesn’t anticipate is the temptation of the viscount. The undeniable spark of awareness that races between them undermines her vow to leave love behind. Soon, she has no choice but to rid her system of Jake by surrendering to her craving for a single scorching encounter.

But is once enough? Sometimes once only stokes the flame of desire higher and hotter. And sometimes once is all the heart needs to risk all and follow a mad passion wherever it may lead.

Universal Reader Link: https://books2read.com/u/mgLQqD

Answered Question

The Latest 3 Romance Titles on Your TBR List:

Pride by Ibi Zoboi

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

Too Wilde to Wed by Eloisa James

Prize #56

Author: Carole McKee

Title: Maddie’s Garden

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Format: Ebook

# of copies: 1

Blurb: Growing up in an unstable home, and then being tossed into the home of her estranged father and his new family, Maddie knows how it feels to be unwanted. All she longs for is a normal family where there is love, peace, and harmony. When she finds the twins hiding in her yard, her heart opens up and love spills all over them. They are running away because their widowed father is going to marry a woman they hate, and they claim she hates them, too. Maddie is taken in by the twins, and soon becomes good friends with their father. She steps in and helps out when he asks her, and she is glad to do it. When Adam has set a date for his wedding, he backs away from Maddie, hoping to give his future wife a chance to bond with his children. It is then that Maddie realizes that she is in love with Adam, and her heart breaks. Maddie isn’t the only one who is sad. The twins are devastated and resort to drastic measures to get Maddie back. In spite of their sad little faces, the wedding day arrives, and it is up to Adam to make it right.Universal Reader Link: https://books2read.com/u/bazeQQ

Prize #57

Title: Testosterone Poisoning, Book 1

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Format: Ebook

# of copies: 1

Blurb: After breaking up with Derek, Kyla Stanford meets the man of her dreams. Storm Galloway is the most gorgeous man she has ever seen. They are so right for each other, and they could not be happier. When Derek sees them together he is enraged. Kyla must pay for her lies and infidelity — Derek will see to it. He hatches a plan. Will Storm find her and save her? Will he be on time? And finally, what does ‘testosterone poisoning’ mean? Who is poisoned by testosterone?

This is Book 1 of the series of three.Universal Reader Link: https://books2read.com/u/meAYMY

Prize #58

Title: Missing Memories

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Format: Ebook

# of copies: 1

Blurb: A car accident in the middle of a snowstorm wipes out Miranda’s memory. While she is being treated at a clinic by a pair of doctors, father and son, she begins to fall for the son. The feelings are mutual. But it is soon discovered that she has a family and a fiancé desperately trying to find her. They are complete strangers to her, but it is odd that there is something about Rob, her fiancé, that she does not like. While she doesn’t recognize her family, she feels safe with them. The Christmas wedding had been postponed, but Rob encourages her to set another date. She allows him to talk her into setting a date, but these feelings she has toward Rob won’t go away. Why? If only she could get her memory back. That may be the answer.

Universal Reader Link: https://books2read.com/u/mKKnLZ

Answered Question

What Romance Book You’re Reading Right Now: Right now I am reading Cinderella Moment by Lulu Jones, and so far, it’s delightful.

Prize #59

Author: Bonnie McCune

Title: Never Retreat

Genre: Clean Contemporary Romance

Format: Ebook

# of copies: 3

Blurb: A feisty single mom clashes with an ex-military, macho corporate star at a business retreat in the wild Colorado mountains, where only one can win a huge prize. But when a massive flood imperils their love and survival, they learn the meaning of true partnership.

Years ago, Ramona (‘Raye”) Soto faced harsh reality when a roving con man knocked her up. Now at thirty-something, she’s concentrating on her career in a major telecommunications firm and funding college for her teenaged son. Enter Desmond Emmett—a fast talker and smooth operator. New to the office, the ex-serviceman possesses every negative quality for a guy Raye should avoid.

Thrown together at a corporate retreat in the wilderness, the reluctant duo struggles to complete management’s extreme mental and physical tests for a huge reward. But only one can win the prize, and Des needs the money to underwrite medical treatments for his adored younger sister.

Seesawing between attraction and antagonism, the mismatched couple, Raye and Des, face their biggest challenge: learning the meaning of true partnership. When a massive flash flood sweeps down the rocky canyon and threatens their love and survival, they must put aside their differences to rescue their colleagues — and their future as a couple.Universal Reader Link: https://books2read.com/u/bQ9L5Z

Prize #60

Title: Falling Like a Rock

Genre: Clean Contemporary Romance

Format: Ebook

# of copies: 3

Blurb: Watch out for falling rock! A mountain town and its rugged mayor captivate a woman in search of a new life and love.

Unloved and unemployed. That’s Elaine Svoboda, after she’s sacked, then flees across country to her boyfriend who drops her flat. Teetering on the abyss of disaster, she calls an old friend who invites her to a tiny mountain town with fresh prospects. There she meets rugged, hunky Joe Richter-Leon, mayor of Falling Rock, Colorado.

Sparks fly immediately, but major obstacles make a new life on the ashes of the old appear impossible. She must overcome a few obstacles like a broken ankle, an eating disturbance, his stubbornness, and her own fears. She’s smothering her hopes when a battle with a forest inferno illuminates their true feelings and desire.

Funny and frank, poignant and perceptive, when two people are “Falling Like a Rock,” they learn surrender sometimes means victory.Universal Reader Link: https://books2read.com/u/3krMqG

Answered Questions

The Book That Made You Fall in Love with the GenreRoberta Gellis, Bond of Blood. I discovered she excelled at historic romances which fully utilized her depth of academic expertise and made readers hungry for her accurate, enchanting stories.

What Romance Book You’re Reading Right Now: Just finished Kristin Higgins’ Good Luck with That. In-depth, multi-layered story of three friends, all with weight and psychological problems. But which caused which?

Prize #61

Author: Young (Bernard Foong)

Title: No Distance Between Us

Genre: LGBT Romance/Memoir

Format: Ebook

# of copies: 2

Blurb: No Distance Between Us is a short, coming-of-age romantic story about a gay teenager in an exclusive English boarding school. Universal Reader Link: https://books2read.com/u/mVBEpr

Prize #62

Title: The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up

Genre: LGBT Romance/Memoir

Format: Ebook

# of copies: 2

Blurb: The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up is a short yuletide story about a teenage prankster at a pantomime in an exclusive English boarding school.Universal Reader Link: https://books2read.com/u/mvKglq

Prize #63

Title: The Truth Will Set You Free

Genre: LGBT Romance/Memoir

Format: Ebook

# of copies: 2

Blurb: The Truth Will Set You Free is a mistaken identity short story about a gay teenager at a Valentine’s Day party with a girl who had eyes for him.Universal Reader Link: https://books2read.com/u/bxZLlJ

Answered Question

The Book That Made You Fall in Love with the GenreThe trilogy that made me fall in love with the Romance/Erotica Genre was Anne Rice writing as A. N. ROQUELAURE, Classic Erotic Trilogy of Sleeping Beauty. These books were so beautifully written, I could identify one of the characters as that of myself. I read the entire series within a week in the early 1980s. I have yet to read another Romance/Erotica author’s work that can rival the Erotic Adventures of Sleeping Beauty trilogy. Although Ms. Rice penned a fourth book to the series three decades later, I was disappointed because her erotic romance mojo/emotions had dissipated. What was left was an empty repetitious shell of her glorious trilogy.

Prize #64

Author: Marie Lavender

Title: Blood at First Sight Series

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Format: Ebook

# of copies: 1 ebook set of 2 books

Blurb:

SECOND NATURE

She never expected it…

Desiree Edwards has a problem. She’s been attacked, kidnapped and forced to get along with a vampire of all things. It’s something right out of the story books she reads, or her worst nightmare. But, sometimes he’s not the monster he appears to be. He seems so humanlike that she can’t help it when her emotions betray her, when her body betrays her. To make matters worse, she finds out more about herself than she ever wanted to know.

She was unlike any other…

Alec has a problem. The animal in him wants Desiree. But, so does the man. The more he learns about her, the harder it is to deny what he wants. But, he’s a freak, and she’s just a human. The two species don’t mix that way. Then an old enemy surfaces and Alec is forced to make a choice. His life or hers.

Can Alec’s soul be saved by this unique human? Or will it be far too late?

BLOOD INSTINCTS

Enter the Other World at your own risk…
What if you found out that you weren’t exactly…human?
Myah Sullivan is suddenly living that nightmare. There are Others in the world, dangerous, supernatural creatures that make her mind spin and cause her to question the reality she’s always known.
Oliver King is her savior, a vampire who tries to show her the way. Through her journey she learns far more than she ever thought she would about herself, and about the past. Soon, she discovers that there is so much more to meeting Oliver than mere happenstance.
Can Myah accept her new reality, or will she retreat into that normal, safe world she once thought was her own?Universal Reader Link: http://Author.to/MarieLavender

Prize #65

Title: Blue Vision (book one of the Code of Endhivar Series)

Genre: Sci-fi Romance

Format: Ebook

# of copies: 1

Blurb: Brooke Sanders just wants to get away from her life for a while. A remote cabin in Montana fits the bill. She doesn’t expect to encounter a mysterious stranger with unusual blue eyes, or events that cannot be explained…

Colin Fielding is on a mission – scout a planet and return home to Endhivar. Simple really. What he doesn’t anticipate is that fate has a pretty twisted sense of humor. Suddenly, this human calls to him, every part of him, like the call of a true mate, and he can’t deny the connection as he gets closer to her.

Little do they know, someone is out to do them harm, as well as the world Brooke holds so dear. Can they stop what’s coming before it’s too late? Or will the universe lose a perfect gem?Universal Reader Link: https://books2read.com/u/md0BoX

Prize #66

Title: Heiresses in Love Trilogy

Genre: Historical Romance/Family Saga

Format: Ebook

# of copies: 1 boxed set

Blurb: An unforgettable, sweeping saga of romance, passion and history rooted in tales of maritime suspense…

Three heiresses…three novels like no other.

UPON YOUR RETURN

Fara risks her heart every time she’s with him, but she cannot deny him.

UPON YOUR HONOR

Chloe never imagined that the man she deceived would be the one man she can’t stop loving.

UPON YOUR LOVE

Adrienne must decide whether to succumb to desire or fight for love.

…Will these remarkable women at last find what they’ve always wanted, or lose more than they can bear?Universal Reader Link: http://myBook.to/HeiressesTrilogy

Prize #67

Title: Second Chance Heart (book one of the Eternal Hearts Series)

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Format: Ebook

# of copies: 1

Blurb: After a wild storm forces her to take shelter in a small town inn, Dana Nelson thinks that all she has to worry about is a brief stay before she heads back to the city. She gets far more than she bargained for…

The last thing she expects is to run into an old flame, and even worse, the man who broke her heart twelve years ago. She’s sure that the only thing remaining between them is a strong attraction for another.

She can’t be more wrong…

The more time she spends with Vince Reynolds, the more she begins to believe she can trust him again. But, can she put her faith in the one man who captivates her, body and soul, or are some wounds too deep to heal?

Universal Reader Link: http://books2read.com/u/brozre

Answered Questions

Your Top 5 Romance BooksDark Lover by J.R. Ward, Under Her Skin by Susan Mallery, The Ideal Man by Julie Garwood, Emma’s Home by Maryann Jordan, Dance Upon the Air by Nora Roberts

The Book That Made You Fall in Love with the GenreDevil’s Embrace by Catherine Coulter

What Romance Book You’re Reading Right Now: Wild Things by Chloe Neill

The Latest 3 Romance Titles on Your TBR List:

The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare

The Bad Luck Bride by Janna MacGregor

The Ancient Blood Awakens box set by Angel Black

Prize #68

Author: Cleo Scornavacca

Title: Within Six Months

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Format: Ebook (and bookmark set in the mail)

# of copies: 5

Blurb: Time…escaping his past, struggling with the present, looking towards his future.

Time… a gift, precious, fleeting, ever-changing, moving quickly…too quickly, especially for a man searching for the woman of his dreams.

That’s exactly how photographer Tommy Conte decided he would begin his new life. He left everything he knew behind in search of something special…someone special. His plan was clear. He would move to the beach, renovate an old shore house and find the woman that he would ultimately marry…all within six months.

Was he delusional? Perhaps…yet after everything that had gone on in his life the last few years, he had to take that chance.

Then… as luck would have it, he met Jade Stanton, his new neighbor. Tommy was immediately drawn to her. He wanted and needed to know more.

Perfect right? Wrong…

There was one small problem. Jade wasn’t looking for a long-term relationship like Tommy was. She was done…over it. She swore off anything serious with any man that came her way…until she was backed into a corner and Tommy came to her rescue.

He pretended to be her boyfriend…for just one evening.

It was simple, no strings attached. It was only one night, or so she thought.

Due to circumstances beyond her control, Jade needed Tommy to play his part for a little while longer. She didn’t think it would be a problem. Tommy was fine with it and they both knew it was all just an act. Yet, Jade came to realize the more she pretended, the more she couldn’t deny that she was falling for him. Although she didn’t want Tommy to find out, Tommy knew better; he felt it too.

Tommy realized that the girl he had dreamed of was right there in front of him, and the life he wanted to share with her was finally within his grasp. He decided he couldn’t let her slip away. He wouldn’t leave it up to fate. He had to try, but Tommy also knew it wouldn’t be easy. Actually, it would be the hardest thing he ever had to do…prove to Jade that she could trust him enough to love him, as much as he loved her.Universal Reader Link: https://books2read.com/u/38ra16

Prize #69

Title: Miss Taken Identity Series

Genre: Contemporary Romance, some Dark Romance

Format: Ebook Set (trilogy) with bookmark set in the mail

# of copies: 5

Blurb:

MISS TAKEN

Love… The Ultimate Loss of Control

Rain and Raven Medici are identical twins. Although they come from a loving close-knit family, their childhoods couldn’t have been more different. Raven went to school and was exposed freely to the outside world. Rain, on the other hand, was born with a blood disorder and denied many normal childhood experiences.

Once grown, Raven becomes a lawyer at their dad’s firm Kane & Medici in NYC. Rain along with her only childhood friend Tommy Conte, builds a very successful business as professional photographers. Traveling between Europe and Manhattan, and enjoying a world that was kept from her, Rain vows never to be controlled again.

Dominick Kane is a product of his upbringing. He’s powerful, self-assured and knows he can achieve anything he desires. Nothing gets in his way. There is only one thing he has ever failed at. A relationship with his father Vincent Kane. Upon his father’s death, Dominick vows revenge. The events he sets in motion put him on a collision course he himself will be unable to control.

In a bizarre twist of fate, Dominick kidnaps Raven as part of his plan for revenge. Only to discover afterward, he has taken Rain by mistake. Rain knows she can never survive being confined again. So she strikes a bargain with the devil and agrees to help Dominick get back what he feels rightly belongs to him. His father’s share of Kane & Medici.

Dominick decides to use the strong attraction growing between Rain and himself to control her in every way imaginable. Too bad no one ever taught Dominick you can’t control the heart. Nothing could have prepared him for the effect Rain would have on his.

Will this plan of revenge turn into unconditional love? Or will Dominick and Rain’s need for control ultimately destroy them and any possible chance for a real future together…

IDENTITY

…People aren’t always who you believe them to be.

Dominick Kane and Rain Medici started their relationship with one another in the most unconventional way.

He kidnapped her.

With the kidnapping now behind them, life returns to normal, right?

Not a chance.

The push, the pull and their fights for control that we’ve come to love about Dominick and Rain still exist. And so does their passion.

People aren’t who you think they are. Familiar faces are not so familiar. The past and the present collide, opening up all of those old wounds and struggles once again.

Now, everything you thought you knew, gets blown out of the water.

Can Dominick and Rain finally heal what’s broken? Or will new discoveries push them even further apart.

Will love win out and bring them back together? Or will ghosts of the past ultimately destroy their love once and for all…

THE TIES THAT BIND

When Rain Medici was taken, she never thought in a million years that her captor would be the man of her dreams, but he was.

Dominick Kane kidnapped his enemy’s daughter. He had no idea that his victim would be the one woman to capture his empty heart, but she did.

It’s been one full year since the kidnapping that brought Dominick and Rain together. In that time, they struggled with many emotions and fought constant obstacles. They discovered new identities, faced ghosts from their pasts and attacks against their family, that to this day remain unsolved.

Yet, regardless of the unexpected challenges, some self-inflicted, Dominick and Rain always knew that their undying love for each other had gotten them through everything.

But then… the unimaginable happened.

Dominick was arrested.

The charge?

The apparent kidnapping of his wife, Rain Medici.

Now, the couple faces a whole new set of challenges. Challenges that bring their pasts forward once again and others which force each of them to examine who they really are and what they have become.

Dominick and Rain’s future hangs in the balance. They are in the fight of their lives. Will it make them even stronger than before? Or will the delicate threads that held them together…in the end, ultimately pull them apart?Universal Reader Link: https://www.amazon.com/Cleo-Scornavacca/e/B00FW92ILS/

Answered Question

The Book That Made You Fall in Love with the GenreThe books that made me fall in love with romance…actually, I fell in love with it when I was younger; with books from Jackie Collins, VC Andrews, Debbie Macomber, but I had stopped reading for some time, as many readers do and one day I was at a Flea Market that had many books. I always look for old editions of Charlotte’s Web as it was the book that started my love of reading. Anyway, I found a book with a blue cover and just a flower on the center. It was called Night Gardening by EL Swann. It’s not printed anymore, but you can find it on Amazon in paperback. I loved the story of second chance love and the fact that the characters weren’t twentyish. I loved the caring and the heartache in this story. It was compelling and its one of my go-to re-reads of all time.

Prize #70

Author: Sable Hunter

Title: True Love’s Fire: Hell Yeah!

Genre: Steamy Romance/Women’s Fiction

Format: Ebook (MUST BE kindle copies or .mobi copies direct to kindle address)

# of copies: 2

Blurb: While vacationing at a cabin in the Ozarks, Scott Walker – Austin neurobiologist, gets snowed-in and has to be rescued by local, Lia Houston.
She brings him food, helps him fix his heat and tries to get his car on the road. A monster storm has paralyzed the mountain and as she’s trying to chain his car to her truck, a huge ice-covered limb falls, crushing the front of her pick-up and almost flattening Scott.
If she hadn’t moved fast, he’d be a memory – but the brave action on her part comes with a price, she’s injured and stuck with Mr. Know-It-All until the weather abates.
Scott doesn’t believe in love, much less love at First Sight. So when he meets Lia, he welcomes the attraction, but fights the tenderness with every breath in his body.
Join Sable Hunter as she chronicles their journey from lust to love with a lot of fireworks in between. They meet at the dawn of the New Year, and by Valentine’s Day the fires of True Love are burning bright.Universal Reader Link: https://books2read.com/u/bppvlg

Prize #71

Title: A Breath of Heaven: El Camino Real

Genre: Steamy Western Romance, Holiday Romance

Format: Ebook (MUST BE kindle copies or .mobi copies direct to kindle address)

# of copies: 2

Blurb: Cade and Abby have a history. Years ago they were in love. Undeclared and unrequited, Cade waited until Abby was old enough for him to declare his love. Abby wanted nothing more than she wanted Cade.

But something happened.

Abby pushed Cade away and he never knew why. Since then, sparks fly when they’re together. Antagonizing one another has become their favorite sport. The only problem is… it’s all a front. They bicker because they both want the same thing – each other. A wedding brings them together and Cade is determined to learn Abby’s secret. He’ll do whatever it takes to win her love.

Meet the King Family of El Camino Real – five brothers, one sister and a legacy as big as Texas.

Universal Reader Link: https://books2read.com/u/4XKpGv

Answered Questions

The Book That Made You Fall in Love with the Genre

Slow Hand by Leslie Kelly inspired me to write.

Jude Deveraux made me fall in love with the romance genre. This is one book that I fell in love with. – A Knight in Shining Armor

New York Times bestselling author Jude Deveraux will capture your heart with signature classic novel, a time-travel romance featuring a present-day heroine and a dashing hero from the sixteenth century! Abandoned by a cruel fate, lovely Dougless Montgomery lies weeping upon a cold tombstone in an English church. Suddenly, the most extraordinary man appears. It is Nicholas Stafford, Earl of Thornwyck…and according to his tombstone he died in 1564. Drawn to his side by a bond so sudden and compelling it overshadows reason, Dougless knows that Nicholas is nothing less than a miracle: a man who does not seek to change her, who finds her perfect, fascinating, just as she is. What Dougless never imagined was how strong the chains are that tie them to the past…or the grand adventure that lay before them. Hailed worldwide as one of the most romantic novels of all time, A Knight in Shining Armor is “a glorious love story that spans centuries, worlds, and souls. It is the epitome of every woman’s fantasy” (Chicago Daily Herald).

Prize #72

Author: Virginia Babcock

Title: Hear Me

Genre: Contemporary Romance, Action-Adventure

Format: Paperback (U.S., Canada or U.K.)

# of copies: 1

Blurb: Maddy has always been different, but lately she’s been lonely. Even those who love her avoid her because of her “gift” and the strange things it makes her do. Then one night, a ghostly visitor warns her to go with the handsome stranger who shows up at her door before dawn. Jacob needed a change in his life, so he quit his job. Before he could head out on his next adventure, his brother reached out to him for help. Will he ever know why a haunting dream told him to leave to help his brother now? On his way, he meets the beautiful Maddy. Together Maddy and Jacob help those they are called to help. Through triumph and tragedy, they find their own way and try to blend two varying paths into one.Universal Reader Link: https://books2read.com/u/4NGzP6

Answered Question

The Book That Made You Fall in Love with the GenreI’m a voracious reader. The books that got me started on romance were 1960-1970s Harlequin romances. There’s not a single one I can remember, but the summer I started reading them, I read stacks and piles from my grandmother’s basement and have read romance ever since. I went from The Chronicles of Narnia, A Wrinkle in Time, and the Little House books to Harlequin.

From Harlequin I found Julie Garwood and Nora Roberts. I have a wide swath of Christine Feehan to Lynn Viehl, Lisa Kleypas, and Kathleen Woodiwiss. Lately I’ve found Penny Reid and Irish Winters.

Prize #73

Author: Madison Michael

Title: Moonlight & Moet

Genre: Contemporary Erotic Romance

Format: Ebook

# of copies: 2

Blurb: Can the Hottest Man Around Melt this Ice Queen’s Heart?

When her husband publicly cheats on her, Leigh Dobbs trades her humiliating reputation as an ice queen and a hometown that shuns her for the unknown of rural North Carolina. Taking over a small bed and breakfast, Leigh sets out to restore it, her dignity and her life. Excited at the prospect of adding more rooms and a full-service restaurant, Leigh’s big plans encounter the brick wall that is Caleb Rausch. Sparks fly even as Caleb votes no on the planning commission, crushing Leigh’s dreams.

Handsome powerhouse Caleb Rausch is a man on a mission, expanding his huge corporation without encroaching on the small town where it resides. His commitment to his products, employees and historic preservation are unwavering. What’s lacking is his commitment to one woman. Caleb is the most eligible bachelor in three states, dating celebrities and models, but never settling down. Until now.

Even as Caleb forces Leigh’s expansion plans on hold, the couple moves full-steam-ahead on their relationship, unable to resist the mutual attraction. So why, after a steamy night together, does Caleb disappear for weeks? Has Leigh put her heart out there again, just to be played?

Will the magic of a moonlit night be enough to kindle their love or will Caleb’s constant disappearing act prevent him from melting this ice queen’s heart?Universal Reader Link: https://books2read.com/u/bazeKQ

Answered Questions

Your Top 5 Romance Books

  • Kate Cantebary – Underneath it All – The first in the Walsh Series and the best of the bunch. I love the details, the humor and the chemistry.
  • Kathleen Woodiwiss – The Rose in Winter – A classic tale of true love that I can come back to again and again.
  • CD Reiss – Bombshell – Great writing, clever plots, great storytelling and scorching sex scenes.
  • Tessa Dare – Once Upon a Winter’s Eve – Ms. Dare writes fantastic historical romances that capture the era yet feel relevant, touching and are hard to put down.
  • Jane Austen – Pride and Prejudice – It may be predictable that it is on my list, but I have a leather bound copy that has my mother’s maiden name in the front. That is how long my family has been reading and sharing this book. A classic romance with all the elements I require, a wonderful love story, wit and great writing, a handsome rich hero, and a protagonist I can relate to – not too perfect, not the prettiest, burdened with the family from hell. What more could you want?

The Book That Made You Fall in Love with the GenreThe Ring by Danielle Steele. I loved that story. Before that I read classic romance written by legendary writers or historical romance that felt repetitive. One made me think writing was out of reach and the other that it wasn’t worth the effort.

The Ring was different for me – approachable writing and a great story. Danielle Steele never let me down, then or now.

What Romance Book You’re Reading Right Now: Driven (series) by K. Bromberg. I think the author may have created the perfect hero in Colton Donovan.

The Latest 3 Romance Titles on Your TBR List:

The rest of the “Driven” series is on my list and already on my Kindle.

I just downloaded The Darcy Brothers by Alix Nichols and hope to read it over the holidays.

My Favorite Husband by Pam McCutcheon looks like a really fun read for a wintry Chicago weekend.

One guaranteed to be hot, one guaranteed to be funny and one full of aristocrats. They should make for great winter entertainment.

Prize #74

Author: Vicki-Ann Bush

Title: The Garden of Two

Genre: Historical Romance

Format: Ebook

# of copies: 1

Blurb: Charlie Murphy and Lillie Whitman are surrounded by the innocence of young love, and the guileless early twentieth century. They fall deeper into each other, intertwining their very different worlds to create a bond that no one can break.

Or so they thought.

When the dawn of World War I comes to their Long Island town, and personal tragedies begin to spiral the lovers into an abyss of darkness, they must fight to hold on to their love. Knowing their bond will be the only ties that will get them through. From the horrors of Germany’s front lines to the emotional battle fields fought at home, Charlie and Lillie must find a way to stay strong, and navigate a path, back into each other’s arms. And how a garden, a very special garden, can withstand the coldest of winters and give the ultimate symbol of hope.Universal Reader Link: https://books2read.com/u/mKKnjZ

Answered Question

The Book That Made You Fall in Love with the GenreThe one I first read was Emma. A cliché, I know, but that’s it.

Prize #75

Author: Lisa Doughty

Title: First Two Books of the Ladies of Kent Series

Genre: Historical Romance/Mystery

Format: Paperback Set

# of copies: 1 set of 2 print books

Blurb:

ELLA AND THE EXPERIMENT

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.

LETITIA AND THE LETTERS

Lady Letitia Wentworth is no match for her older sister, Lady Deidra Wentworth, either in beauty or popularity. Refusing to be the companion of her self–absorbed and conceited sister during an event at the family estate in Canterbury, she planned to lock herself in the library the whole week. It’s there that she stumbles across her great aunt Gladys’ letters, which hint at the mystery surrounding her death and the disappearance of the Canterbury jewels fifty years earlier. Engrossed in the mystery, she is irritated when the bold, yet handsome, Lord Devin Armstrong interrupts her, determined to introduce himself. She puts him off, but when he happens upon some of her aunt’s letters, she finally has to meet him. She can’t resist the handsome Earl’s advances as he helps her unravel the mystery. She is also amazed that such a man was interested in her, not her sister. As she loses her heart, she discovers more about the mystery that is herself than she bargained for.

The handsome Lord Dexter Armstrong, Earl of Berkeley, was being relentlessly pursued by every husband-hunting lady in the ton. Irritated by the trappings of nobility, he was beyond angry when his parents forced him to escort his sister to Canterbury for the annual summer event. Dismayed to have to keep company with the vile Lady Deidra Wentworth, who was far and above the most despicable social climber of the ladies, he vowed to keep his distance. When he saw a fiery, bespectacled redheaded beauty stand up to Deidra, his interest is piqued. Determined to meet her, he is surprised to learn that she is Deidra’s sister. The more he finds out about her, the more intriguing she becomes. Offering his help to solve her mystery is just a ruse to get to know her at first, but he quickly discovers that the mystery they work on is dangerous. As the mystery unravels and Devin is losing his heart, he fights to keep Letitia safe and to keep the love they discover along the way.Universal Reader Link: https://books2read.com/u/mYowXP

https://books2read.com/u/brGnnZ

Answered Question

The Book That Made You Fall in Love with the Genre

I’m a cliché, probably the worst of the worst. I picked up my first romance novel because Fabio was on the cover. He was bare-chested and looking adoringly at the woman kneeling next to him grasping his thigh. I can remember how I felt at that moment. Oh, to be looked at in that way by such a man! I wanted to be her. What’s funny is that I cannot remember the name of that book, or the author, or even if I read it in its entirety. It wasn’t until I read A Rose in Winter by Kathleen Woodiwiess, that for the first time her words made me feel that undeniable feeling that only a romance novel can give you. Like the best bite of dessert ever feeling, one you wish you could chew forever and never swallow because you’re afraid it may never come again feeling.  From then on I was addicted. But, like any addiction, it wasn’t enough. I wished for more adventure or more sex, or the need to find a stronger female character, one not so resigned and whimpering.

That’s when I realized that romance is a state of mind. A feeling evoked by the imagination, one different for every reader. Prompted by the right setting, fed with just enough information, simulation if you will, that your brain filled in the details making the story yours as well. If done correctly, it’s the most potent drug ever invented. I could not get enough after that. Approaching my reading from this new perspective, I binged on Johanna Lindsey as well as countless others until I found Julie Garwood. She had the perfect blend of unexpected characters and unusual situations but still gave her readers enough room to fill in the gaps to make it their own that she became a favorite. So, if you ask which book made me fall in love with the genre, I could not say it was just one in particular. It was a feeling I chased, one I still pursue today, that made me fall in love with this genre. I realized that it was the journey that made this genre so addicting. After all, it’s what we can’t have or control, that intangible thing that you cannot describe that keeps us wanting more, is it not? As well as curiosity about the hunky men or beautiful women on the covers that may first draw you in.

Prize #76

Author: Theresa Sederholt

Title: The Unraveled Trilogy boxed set

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Format: Ebook

# of copies: 5

Blurb: This set contains all three full-length books of The Unraveled Trilogy plus a bonus short story “Follow Your Dreams,” not available elsewhere!
At twenty-seven, Raven Anderson experienced more heartache than anyone would in their lifetime. Finally, her life seems on track when she starts doing what she loves the most: teaching second grade.

However, the best-laid plans are not always the right path as Raven learns when fate puts her in the direct path of mega-billionaire, Jaxson James Phillips, owner of Raiders, Inc., a corporate raiding company. With the spotlight now focused on Raven, her past is threatening her future. So, she does what she does best—run!

This beautiful girl, with the violet eyes, has left Jax, who never gets rattled, totally speechless. Used to getting what he wants, he can’t understand why she’s running from him. As time goes on, he slowly unravels the many layers of Raven. What he finds . . . puts everyone around them in danger.

Can anyone survive?

Tragedy has struck and now it’s a waiting game. New beginnings, so full of promise, are overshadowed by a past that is continuously haunting them. Secrets are uncovered. Lies are revealed.
Raven and Jax will fight for their lives and the ones they hold dear. Will a normal life ever be in their reach? Will anyone truly be safe, again? Too much has happened. How can anyone survive this?

Lies are shattered, leaving death and destruction in its path. To save a child, they must make a deal with the devil himself.

They had a plan: two days—get in, ask the questions, and get out. Seemed simple enough. But you know what they say about best-laid plans. Life always seems to get in the way of living.

This book contains strong language, violence, and sexual situations. Mature audiences only.Universal Reader Link: https://books2read.com/u/bWzDDz

Answered Question

The Book That Made You Fall in Love with the GenreChances by Jackie Collins

Prize #77

Author: Lilly Christine

Title: Candi for Christmas

Genre: New Adult Holiday Sports Romance

Format: Ebook

# of copies: 3

Blurb: Fresh-faced intern Candi Bamberger flies to Beaver Creek, Colorado for Snow Slammer Games action, but not the kind smokin’ hot snowboard star Shane McGreer has in mind! Shane shows her amazing moves, and not just in the half-pipe. Candi’s conflicted. Did she just throw away a career in sports management for a guy who scores new girls at every game?
He’s right up there with Shaun White, yet Shane McGreer knows his track record with women is the pits, but Candi’s different. She’s Olympic material, and a real girl, genuine in both curves and charm. . . He falls hard, so when a rival puts Candi’s in deep freeze, Shane’s stuck, too. He’s won the SnowSlammer X Games, but he’s lost Candi’s heart! Can he warm her up for a sweet McGreer Ranch Christmas Eve? Meanwhile, back at the Ranch, Tess has a Christmas surprise for Jake and Cassie. . .
The McGreers Series… Read ’em all!Universal Reader Link: https://books2read.com/u/bMQjja

Answered Questions

Your Top 5 Favorite Romance Books

  1. Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
  2. Any Man of Mine – Rachel Gibson
  3. The Cinderella Deal – Jennifer Crusie
  4. Casey, American Bullriding Tour – Kelly Hunter
  5. Indecent Proposal – Molly O’Keefe

Created by Freepik

Once again, if you’re entering the big giveaway, PLEASE give us your name, email address, and include your preferred romance subgenres. Leave a comment below, or for a private entry, you can email me at marieannlavender@gmail.com

This contest will run for a week, until December 20th at midnight EST. After that, winners will be selected and contacted. Given the upcoming holiday, some recipients may experience a slight delay with their prizes, but don’t worry. We’re on the case, and we want you to have your books! 😀

Good luck, everyone, and, as always, happy reading! ♥♥♥

Yuri Efremov, Unsplash

And Merry Christmas this year!

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Filed under Action & Adventure, Authors, Book Giveaways, Books, Contemporary, dark romance, Erotica, Event, Fantasy, Fiction, free books, Gifts, giveaway, Historical, Historical Romance, Holiday, inspirational romance, LGBT, Multicultural/Interracial, Mystery, New Adult, Paranormal/Urban Fantasy, Readers, Romance, romantic comedy, romantic ideas, Romantic Suspense, Science Fiction, sports romance, steamy, sweet romance, western, Women's Fiction

New Release Feature: Never Retreat by author Bonnie McCune

I am pleased to announce a great book release by Bonnie McCune, an author I met during my journey! Her new clean contemporary romance with a touch of suspense, Never Retreat, officially released last week!

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

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

Bonnie is giving us a look at her suspenseful, inspirational romance, Never Retreat, today.

Nice cover!

This is the blurb for Never Retreat:

A feisty single mom clashes with an ex-military, macho corporate star at a business retreat in the wild Colorado mountains, where only one can win a huge prize. But when a massive flood imperils their love and survival, they learn the meaning of true partnership.

Years ago, Ramona (‘Raye”) Soto faced harsh reality when a roving con man knocked her up. Now at thirty-something, she’s concentrating on her career in a major telecommunications firm and funding college for her teenaged son. Enter Desmond Emmett—a fast talker and smooth operator. New to the office, the ex-serviceman possesses every negative quality for a guy Raye should avoid. Thrown together at a corporate retreat in the wilderness, the reluctant duo struggles to complete management’s extreme mental and physical tests for a huge reward. But only one can win the prize, and Des needs the money to underwrite medical treatments for his adored younger sister.

See-sawing between attraction and antagonism, the mismatched couple, Raye and Des, face their biggest challenge: learning the meaning of true partnership. When a massive flash flood sweeps down the rocky canyon and threatens their love and survival, they must put aside their difference to rescue their colleagues—and their future as a couple.

Here is an excerpt to entice you with!

“I won!” Raye’s handful of lottery scratch tickets, fanned out on the staff room table in front of her, glowed in a multitude of bright colors. She plucked the one nearest to her. “Forty dollars!”

Julia failed to respond. “He’s gorgeous. Just gorgeous.” Her unfocused eyes and neglect of the bear claw pastry in one limp hand showed how absorbed she was in telling Raye Soto about the new man striding around corporate headquarters in Denver.

“Didn’t you hear me? My winning ticket must be an omen I’ll get a big prize. You know how much I need it to cover Andy’s college. No student loans! Whoo-ee!”

“Not necessarily. You’ll have better odds at happiness if you notice a male hunk in front of your face. You haven’t even had a date in years.”

“Wouldn’t start with a good-looking guy. He’d be the most dangerous type. Anyway, you’ve never won awards for your taste in men,” Raye teased back. Her quick survey of the modest dining area showed no other people on break, so she geared up her joking. “Wasn’t your last crush the barista over at Java Hut? The one who drew your initial with cream on the top of your cappuccino, then pocketed the change you were due? And the one before rode a motorcycle and crashed at least once a month?”

“You’re one to talk!” Julia returned to consciousness, leaning back in her chair and tapping her index finger, this week manicured in turquoise blue with tiny spangles, on the veneer-topped table. “Your ex-, who hardly qualifies as an ex since he was only around for a few months, partied so hard and so often, he forgot to come home at night.”

“Let’s not get into odious comparisons. I got Andy from the experience, and that’s enough for me.” Raye pushed back her chrome-wire chair, stood, and began wrapping the remains of her meal.

“This guy, his name’s Des Emmett, would be perfect for you. If you’d drop the attitude.”

“How old do you figure he is?” I can’t possibly be considering Julia’s suggestion, can I? Raye thought.

“I’d say thirty-six, thirty-eight. He mentioned eight years in the service, and I know from his resume, which passed through my grubby paws when he transferred here, that he has a solid ten years in the corporate world. Most recently, at the highest levels.”

“And he’s not married?” With her free hand, Raye stuffed the winning lottery ticket in her pocket, then grabbed the remainder in a fistful jumble.

“No.”

“Why not? What’s wrong with him? Is he gay? Abusive?”

“Wait a minute,” Julia said. “You’re thirty-four and not married.”

“But I have been.” She considered the super-sized fruit yogurt she now balanced. The treat wasn’t finished yet, so she covered the container to tote to the staff refrigerator. “I admit he’s good-looking. Those ice-blue eyes, the casual dark curls.” In fact, he’s too good-looking. I wouldn’t trust him as far as I could throw him, she thought.

“Those molded lips, the bottom one a little fuller than the upper. The brooding brow.” Julia gathered her snack leavings, then walked to the refrigerator and leaned against the open door next to Raye to continue. “I think you’re ticked off because he treats you like an employee, not a woman. He shouldn’t be snubbed for that.”

“Absolutely wrong! I learned long ago not to trust charm and good looks. Anyway, why are you pushing him on me? Don’t you want to try your luck?”

Julia looked up at the ceiling tiles. “I haven’t told you, but things are getting serious between me and Eric. We’ve been talking about marriage.”

“Eeek!” Raye’s shriek echoed from inside the refrigerator. She pulled her head out. “That’s wonderful.”

“Nothing’s definite yet, so don’t mention it. I’m entertaining the idea because I hate to see a guy as nice as Eric go to waste. Or get picked off by a sneaky man-eater, like Krystle.”

“I remember two years ago when Krystle got tipsy at the holiday party. She kept rubbing her hands all over Eric, then tried to pull him into the hall for a necking session,”

Julia sniggered. “Fortunately he refused to surrender. That’s when I first guessed I could trust him.”

“Yeah, and he’s been hanging around you ever since,” said Raye. “That’s going somewhere permanent?”

“I sure hope so. The huuuge barrier right now to any kind of development is that car loan my folks took out and now can’t pay. Can’t get married, can’t even move in together because I have to help the family out. Anyway, a more cheerful subject, I first saw the new director of security this morning before he even got in the office. I was walking down the sidewalk past the entrance to the parking garage when he buzzed by on a motorcycle, tall and solid as a soldier. . .”

“A motorcycle!” Raye slammed the refrigerator door closed. “You know how much I hate those. You’re not building a case for my becoming besties with Mr. Desmond Emmett with that bit of information. Smelly, noisy, dangerous machines.”

A stricken look passed over Julia’s face. “I’m so sorry. I totally spaced on what happened to your brother.” Wrapping both arms around her friend, Julia hugged hard, and Raye let her. “You still miss him, don’t you?” Julia whispered.

“Like the devil. Every day. Even though it’s been years. Damn his infatuation with motorcycles! I hear about the Broncos winning, and I think, ‘boy, that’ll make Carlos happy,’ then I remember he’s not here. Or the first snow, I want to run in and wake him up so we can walk in the park, until I remember there’ll be no more times like that. He’ll never know his nephew graduated at the top of the class, or that Dad and Mom both have new romances going.” Raye stepped back after a final squeeze. “Thanks for not hesitating to mention him. That helps. Many people act like he never existed.”

Purchase Links:

Universal Amazon link:  http://getBook.at/NeverRetreat

Publisher:  http://www.imajinbooks.com/bonnie-mccune/

Intriguing! Gotta love this sneak peek. ♥♥♥

 

What are people saying about this book?

“A breathtaking page-turner that will leave you exhausted but wanting more!” —Corinne Joy Brown, award-winning author of Hidden Star

“Likable, relatable characters…a real treat!” —Cindi Myers, author of The View from Here

“Intriguing…engaging…A great vacation read for sure!” —Meg Benjamin, author of the Brewing Love Trilogy

“A compelling story about a hard-working single mom who faces adversity head-on, learns from her mistakes, and perseveres.” —Kim McMahill, author of Marked in Mexico

“Few novels operate on such different levels, moving their characters to challenge not just each other, but their own perceptions…McCune provides just the right blend of comic relief, interpersonal encounters, and outside environment changes to make her story a powerful blend.”—Midwest Book Review

Awesome!

Thank you for telling us about your new book! It looks great! 🙂

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

Author Bio

Bonnie McCune has been writing since age ten, when she submitted a poem about rain rushing down the gutter to the Saturday Evening Post (it was immediately rejected). This interest facilitated her career in nonprofits, doing public and community relations and marketing. She’s worked for libraries, directed a small arts organization, and managed Denver’s beautification program.

Simultaneously, she’s been a freelance writer with publications in local, regional, and specialty publications for news and features. Her civic involvement includes grass-roots organizations, political campaigns, writers’ and arts’ groups, and children’s literacy. For years, she entered recipe contests and was a finalist once to the Pillsbury Bake Off. A special love is live theater. Had she been nine inches taller and thirty pounds lighter, she might have been an actress.

Her true passion is fiction, and her pieces have won several awards. Never Retreat is her third novel and her fifth book of fiction. For reasons unknown (an unacknowledged optimism?), she believes one person can make a difference in this world.

Author Links

Website:  www.BonnieMcCune.com

Facebook:  facebook.com/authorBonnieMcCune

Twitter:  twitter.com/bonniemccune

Amazon author page:  http://amzn.to/2DE5dW1

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6436876.Bonnie_McCune

Google+:  https://plus.google.com/u/0/117106546075845481531

https://plus.google.com/u/0/111883621680717398231

LinkedIn:  www.linkedin.com/in/BonnieMcCune

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

Pinterest:  https://www.pinterest.com/bonniebmccune/

Publisher:  http://www.imajinbooks.com/bonnie-mccune/

 

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

Happy reading, everyone!🙂

5 Comments

Filed under Authors, Book Release, Books, Contemporary, Event, Fiction, inspirational romance, new release, Readers, Romance, Romantic Suspense, Women's Fiction

New Release Feature: With One More Look At You by author Mary J. Williams

I am pleased to announce a great book release by Mary J. Williams, an author I met during my journey! Her contemporary romance, With One More Look At You, officially released today! Yay! That’s awesome, Mary! Congrats on your new release!:)

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

Mary is giving us a look at her modern romance, With One More Look At You, today.

Wow! Great cover!

This is the blurb for With One More Look At You:

WHEN IT COMES TO LOVE, SOMETIMES IT TAKES THE HEAD YEARS TO DISCOVER WHAT THE HEART HAS ALWAYS KNOWN

Forbes Branson was a young man ready for something new. A senior in high school, he was the golden boy. Heir to a fortune, he knew what his life was going to be. But he wanted adventure first. A year of freedom before college to do and go where he wanted. However, an unexpected betrayal would change everything.

Sophie Lipton was fifteen the first time she set foot on the Branson ranch. Dragged from one place to another, never having more than one pair of shoes or enough to eat, the moment she saw the wide open spaces, she felt she could breathe for the first time in her life. It was the home she always dreamed of. But her happiness came at a price.

To stay in her new home, Sophie had to keep somebody else’s lies. Lies that would eventually tear apart a family. And tear apart her friendship with Forbes.

Coming home is never easy—especially after twelve years. Forbes isn’t the same young man. He found his adventure—and more. Weary, he’s ready to settle into a slower, calmer life. Working on his family’s ranch and taking the job as Chief of Police sounds like a piece of cake after the things he had seen and done.

Sophie isn’t the quiet girl Forbes remembers. She’s grown into a strong, confident woman. A woman used to being in charge. The Branson ranch is her territory now. If Forbes thinks he’s going to waltz back in and take over, he’s going to find out fast that Sophie is no pushover.

Twelve years ago, they shared one goodbye kiss. More sweet than passionate. Now, as adults it’s a whole new game. The attraction between them is undeniable. Just as they begin to move forward, the past has other ideas.

Secrets rarely stay buried forever. Lies. Betrayal. Maybe even murder. Before Forbes and Sophie can think about the future, they will need to deal with the past. Together.

And here is an excerpt from With One More Look at You to tease you with.

Forbes didn’t know why, but he took Sophie’s hand. It was something he had never done. For a moment, he thought she would pull away. Instead, she curled her fingers around his. Something happened with that brief touch. A connection. An intimacy that he had neither the time nor inclination to analyze. The need to sneak away in the middle of the night had already heightened his emotions. That was his only excuse for what he did next.
Forbes brushed his lips across Sophie’s. Surprise flared in her eyes. But she didn’t punch him. So, he kissed her again. A little longer. There was nothing sexual in the gesture, though he felt a familiar stirring in his blood. Raising his head, he smiled, touching her cheek ever so lightly with the pad of his thumb.
“Well, I’ll be damned,” he breathed, backing away.
Sophie didn’t speak. Or move. She looked confused, a frown furrowing her brow. Her first kiss. Forbes was sure of it. There were a hundred other firsts she would share with other men. But this would always be his.
Forbes turned when he reached the trees. He waved, taking one last look at his home—at Sophie—before disappearing into the dark.

Check out the book trailer:

Purchase Links:

Universal Amazon link:  https://bookgoodies.com/a/B06XKW7PPY

B&N:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/with-one-more-look-at-you-mary-j-williams/1125988457

BAM:  http://www.booksamillion.com/p/One-More-Look/Mary-J-Williams/9780997616170?id=6842447479054

CreateSpace:  https://www.createspace.com/6878420

♥♥♥ It looks like quite the story!😉

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

 

Readers, don’t forget to pick up a copy of this awesome book, free with Kindle Unlimited or you can get it at a special introductory price today!

Author Bio

Writing isn’t easy. But I love every second. A blank screen isn’t the enemy. It is the opportunity to create new friends and take them on amazing adventures and life-changing journeys. I feel blessed to spend my days weaving tales that are unique—because I made them.
Billionaires. Songwriters. Artists. Actors. Directors. Stuntmen. Football players. They fill the pages and become dear friends I hope you will want to revisit again and again.
Thank you for jumping into my books and coming along for the journey.

Author Links

Website:  http://www.maryjwilliams.net/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mary-J-Williams/1561851657385417

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/maryjwilliams05

Amazon Author Page:  https://www.amazon.com/Mary-J.-Williams/e/B00V041ET6/

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5648619.Mary_J_Williams

Newsletter:  http://www.maryjwilliams.net/ (‘mailing list’ on the home page)

Pinterest:  https://www.pinterest.com/maryj0675/

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/2015romance/

Bookbub:  https://www.bookbub.com/authors/mary-j-williams

 

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

Happy reading, everyone!🙂

5 Comments

Filed under Authors, Book Release, Books, Contemporary, Event, Fiction, new release, Readers, Romance, Women's Fiction, Writing

A Character Interview with Sepalika from SAVED IN SRI LANKA plus a conversation with author Devika Fernando!

Today, we’re doing something a little different. If you remember, we interviewed K.C. Sprayberry’s character on March 3rd and it was so fun that I thought we may as well make an occasional habit of it.  I had the pleasure of meeting Devika Fernando, the author of Saved in Sri Lanka, on my author journey and I asked her if she’d let me borrow one of her main characters, Sepalika, from the book.  We’ll get a chance to talk to Devika in a bit, but now we have on the stage…Sepalika!

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

Character Sepalika:  Hello.  Thanks for having me. It’s a pleasure to be here.

Marie:  We’re going to start out with some simple questions, okay?

Sepalika: Of course.

Marie:  What is your occupation?  Are you any good at it?  Do you like it?

Sepalika:  (Smiles.) I work as a tour guide in Sri Lanka, and I absolutely love my job. I get to watch people while they catch a glimpse of my country. It’s fascinating witnessing all the different reactions and creating little stories about them. I do think I’m good at my job because I add some fun and spice to routine.

Marie:  That’s great!  So, what is your family like?

Sepalika: (Frowns and sighs.) I wish you hadn’t asked. My father is suffering from chronic kidney disease. The doctors have only given him a few more months to live. As for my mother, she’s devastated…and worried about me. I don’t have any siblings, and I don’t really bond with any of our relatives.

Marie:  Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. Let’s try something else.

What did your childhood home look like?

Sepalika:  I grew up in my mother’s ancestral home in a small village off Kandy amidst paddy fields, but we moved to Colombo when I was small, so after that it was modern city life for me. It was a huge change from the old, big house open to wilderness surrounding it, to the small, neat apartment surrounded by traffic and noise.

Marie:  Do you have any hobbies?  What do you enjoy doing?

Sepalika:  I love history and reading. Actually… (blushes.) I love dancing and singing too, but I hardly ever let that side of me out.

Marie:  I love reading too!

So, what is your greatest dream, Sepalika?

Sepalika:  I’d love to visit Australia one day.

Marie:  Well, that’s certainly a worth goal! (Smiles.)

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

Sepalika: I hate being such a coward. I wish I had the courage to stand up for my own happiness and really live life the way I want it. But that’s not easy if you live in Sri Lanka…and if you have a family to take care of.

Marie:  I see.  Yeah, obligations can often tear you away from what you want.

Okay, so I’m going to throw another random question at you now.  Who was your first love?

Sepalika:  I’ve never really been in love. I did have a huge crush on an English student when I went to university in London, but our relationship was doomed to fail. Now though, I think I’ve found the one… (Stares dreamily into the distance.)

Marie:  Well, that’s great that you found someone new! I’m happy for you. I won’t beg you to tell me more, though I’m dying to know…(Laughs.)

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So, Sepalika, what’s the most terrible thing that ever happened to you?

Sepalika:  Finding out that my father has less than a year to live because of kidney failure. I’d give anything to save him.

Marie:  How terrible! I’m sorry. I wish I could do something…😦

Well, let’s move on to something a bit lighter, shall we?

[Sepalika 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?

Sepalika:  I always wanted to see more of the world, and I’ve achieved that partly because I spent years studying in England. But I’m not sure I’ll ever get another chance to travel…

Marie:  I see.

So, who is your role model?

Sepalika:  All those great women in history who took life into their own hands and proved that they’re worth just as much as men, if not more.

Marie:  I agree. How inspirational!

Well…you’ll probably think I’m digging for dirt on the next question. 

Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?

Sepalika:  Erm, quite a lot of people, to tell you the truth. It’s the only way to stay sane in this society… There’s a certain Mrs. de Souza – no, I won’t say more, I’ll just get worked up.

Marie:  All right. I’ll let you get away with being vague. (Winks.)

So, what is your deepest desire?

Sepalika:  Finding someone who recognizes the real me and loves me for who I am.

Marie: Yes, I believe we all want that…

Let’s switch to another question.  What is your greatest fear?

Sepalika:  Living a loveless life full of pretense.

Marie:  All right.

Well, I hate to say it, but we’ve run out of time. Thank you for visiting us today, Sepalika.  (Waves goodbye to her guest.)

Now, let’s shift over and get the author’s perspective.  We have Devika Fernando on the stage today. Hi, Devika!

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Author Devika Fernando:  Hi. Thank you so much for having the two of us over, Marie! 🙂

Marie:  My pleasure! 

As you know, we just got to talk to the heroine of your story, Sepalika. Quite an interesting character.  Can you tell us a little about her?

Devika:  Sepalika is pretty modern for a Sri Lankan, you could say, almost “Western”. She’s stuck in an awful situation that makes it difficult for her to live the way she wants and deserves, but I know she’ll find a way out because she’s stronger than she thinks.

Marie:  (Nods.) I gathered some of that from talking to her. 

So, what are your character’s greatest strengths?

Devika:  Her kindness and her intelligence.

Marie:  Now let’s take the opposition on that. 

What, do you feel, is her greatest weakness?

Devika: Her self-doubt.

Marie:  So, what are some of her favorite foods?

Devika:  She loves traditional Sri Lankan food like spicy vegetable curries and fish. And she’s a big fan of all the exotic fruits growing in her family’s garden, like guavas, mangoes and papayas.

Marie:  Well, I can’t blame her. I love papayas!

Let’s try something else.

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

Devika:  She’s really good at explaining and teaching things.

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

Devika:  So far, readers really liked Sepalika because she is fighting for her own happiness but also always putting others first.

Marie:  Well, that is certainly honorable.  Now that we have a real taste of Sepalika, we have a few questions for you as well as the author.

What first gave you the idea for Saved in Sri Lanka?

Devika:  I’ve had many people tell me they’d love to read a romance novel set in Sri Lanka because I live here and am half Sri Lankan. I immediately knew if I ever wrote a story like this, I’d want to include a hero from a European country. And I’d want to show off this island’s beauty. The story sort of wrote itself then, with Daniel as the hero from Ireland and Sepalika as the tour guide falling in love with him.

Marie:  That’s great!  It does sound lovely.

So, Devika, what is your writing style like? Are you a pantster or a plotter?

Devika:  A mix of both, I guess. I do write a plot outline, plan the first few chapters and create character profiles, but I don’t go into too much detail and see where the story is taking me.

Marie:  (Nods.) I do both as well. I let the story come out naturally in scenes, then I start doing heavy plotting and character work-ups. I write more from there, but I will still let the characters interfere with my plans if they have more to say.

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

Devika:  I found myself including too many descriptions, country facts and backstory. It always happens with my stories, but I cut those scenes out during my four or more rounds of editing. I’m very thankful for my awesome beta readers, they’re a big help.

Marie:  I know exactly what you mean! I don’t know what I’d do without my beta readers, critique partners and my proofreader.  🙂

Well, it was such a pleasure having you here on the I Love Romance Blog.  And how apropos is that, considering what a great story Saved in Sri Lanka appears to be.  Readers, you will just have to pick up a copy of this awesome new book by Devika Fernando, a very talented author!

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Here is the blurb for Saved in Sri Lanka.

Some people are destined to meet.

It sure feels that way when Sri Lankan tour guide Sepalika meets Daniel. The mysterious tourist from Ireland steals his way into her heart and makes her question everything her life is built upon. Instant attraction turns to love – but does he feel the same? And what about the secret she’s hiding from him?
Follow the two on their quest for a happy ending amid the beauty and wonders of the tropical island paradise of Sri Lanka.

Purchase Links:

Universal Amazon link:  http://bookgoodies.com/a/B00U5ZY8AI

Barnes & Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/saved-in-sri-lanka-devika-fernando/1121331845

Smashwords:  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/524106 

Kobo:  https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/saved-in-sri-lanka

Google Play:  https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Devika_Fernando_Saved_in_Sri_Lanka?id=QsreBgAAQBAJ

iTunes:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/saved-in-sri-lanka/id973289991

About Devika Fernando

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Almost as soon as Devika Fernando could write, she imagined stories and poems. After finishing her education in Germany and returning to her roots in Sri Lanka, she got a chance to turn her passion into her profession. Having lived in Germany and in Sri Lanka with her husband has made her experience the best (and the worst) of two totally different worlds – something that influences her writing. Her trademark is writing sweet, yet deeply emotional romance stories where the characters actually fall in love instead of merely falling in lust. What she loves most about being an author is the chance to create new worlds and send her protagonists on a journey full of ups and downs that will leave them changed. She draws inspiration from everyone and everything in life. Besides being a romance novel author, she works as a self-employed German web content writer, as a translator, and as a faithful servant to all the cats, dogs, fish and birds in her home. When she’s not writing, she’s reading or thinking about writing.

Having always loved to read and write, Devika made her dream come true in 2014 when she became a self-published novelist. The Amazon bestselling author has published several eBooks in the genres contemporary romance, paranormal romance and romantic suspense. Her German and Sri Lankan roots influence her writing.

Devika’s Books:

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And, if you want to know how to connect with the amazing Devika Fernando, here are some of her author links:

Website:  http://www.devikafernando.com

Blog:  http://www.devikafernando.com/blog

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

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/Author_Devika

Amazon Author Central:  http://www.amazon.com/Devika-Fernando/e/B00ISH0RD2/

Pinterest:  https://www.pinterest.com/devikafernando1/

Google+:   https://plus.google.com/+DevikaFernando/posts

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7980006.Devika_Fernando

Once again, I want to thank both of our guests, Sepalika, the female main character of Saved in Sri Lanka, and Devika Fernando, the brilliant author of the novel, for stopping by!  It was so fun to have you here! Readers, don’t forget to check out this awesome new release!  🙂

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Filed under Authors, Books, Character Interview, Contemporary, Event, Fiction, Interview, Multicultural/Interracial, Readers, Romance, Women's Fiction, Writing, Writing Tips

4th Anniversary Party at TRR!

The Romance Reviews is having their 4th Anniversary Party this month. All month long, you can stop by their site and win cool prizes!

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The event started on March 1st and will run ALL month long so hurry, get in there and compete for prizes! With more than 350 participating authors and publishers, and more than 350 prizes up for grabs during the whole month of March, plus a $100 Gift Certificate as a grand prize, you just can’t go wrong!

Here is the event page:  http://www.theromancereviews.com/event.php

To compete for prizes, you will need to register and be logged into the TRR site. Registering is painless, I swear, and this site gives you access to lots of great books!

Here is the prize list:  http://www.theromancereviews.com/event.php?prize=1 And this is not even the entire list! How great is that? Each book will have a simple Q&A with instructions to compete for the prize and you will be contacted if you win. Woo hoo!

And, on March 11th, you also get a chance to win my latest release, Second Nature, book one of the Blood at First Sight Series! Yay!  🙂

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So, stop by today, and every day whenever you have a moment. But, especially stop by on March 11th for a copy of Second Nature! I’m excited about this! Aren’t you?  🙂

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Filed under Authors, Book Giveaways, Books, Contemporary, Erotica, Fiction, Historical Romance, Love, Mystery, Paranormal/Urban Fantasy, Readers, Romance, Romantic Suspense, Thriller/Suspense, Time Travel, Women's Fiction, Writing

A Character Interview with Kathleen from KATHLEEN’S UNDRESSED plus a conversation with author Celia Kennedy!

Today, we’re doing something a little different. If you remember, we interviewed Adrienne Davenport’s character on February 10th and it was so fun that I thought we may as well make an occasional habit of it.  I had the pleasure of meeting Celia Kennedy, the author of Kathleen’s Undressed:  Book 2, The Accidental Enigma, on my author journey and I asked her if she’d let me borrow one of her main characters, Kathleen Ehlers, from the book.  We’ll get a chance to talk to Celia in a bit, but now we have on the stage…Kathleen Ehlers!

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

Kathleen Ehlers:  Hello.  Thank you.  It’s a pleasure to be here.

Marie:  We’re going to start out with some simple questions, okay?

Character Kathleen:  Sure.

Marie:  What is your occupation?  Are you any good at it?  Do you like it?

Kathleen:  I love my job! I am a Business Acquisition Lawyer for L’Oreal Paris, at the main headquarters, in Clichy, France. I live in Paris, can afford to wear incredible clothes, and it is the perfect balance between the detailed and creative.

Our rate at acquiring new businesses has increased over the last few years – everything from The Body Shop to designer perfumeries. I enjoy research and number crunching. I also enjoy knowing we are putting our quality control behind all these name brands.

Am I any good at it? My goal is to be the EVP for Administrative and Finances, and I believe that it is a very achievable goal.

[Currently there is only one person between Kathleen and that title.]

Marie:  That’s great! So, what is your family like?

Kathleen:  Growing up, it was just me and my mom; no siblings. I had a great childhood though. My mother and I were very close, we still are.

Marie:  What did your childhood home look like?

Kathleen:  Great question! I grew up in Seattle, Washington (the state, not Washington D.C.). I grew up in the Ravenna Neighborhood – small bungalows on small lots – there were buckets of kids living in my neighborhood. I always had someone to play with.

My mom still lives in the house.

As for the house itself… I think it might be around 900 square feet. Small – two bedrooms, one bathroom, a tiny living room, and an even smaller kitchen.

Now that I think about it, my mom was partial to white walls and cabinets. I never asked her why. I was always partial to a lot of color, so you’d think I would have wondered about this before now. Anyway, the white didn’t stop the house from being cozy and a place where I felt happy and safe.

Marie:  Well, that’s good!

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

Kathleen:  People think this is crazy, but I love remodeling apartments. It all started when I was in graduate school at Oxford – in England. The pokey little flat I rented had been painted green through-out. So, I bought some paint… and I got hooked on improving the places I lived in.

Since I’ve lived in Paris, ten years now, I have bought and remodeled a few apartments. I try to do most of the work myself; tiling, painting, woodwork – everything that doesn’t required an expert, like plumbing or electrical.

Given the hours I work, there isn’t a lot of time for hobbies beyond my on-going remodeling projects.

Marie:  So, what is your greatest dream, Kathleen?

Kathleen:  Another great question! My greatest dream… [Laughs.] After becoming EVP? I suppose my dream is to finish remodeling my current apartment. Gosh, that makes me sound dull! I suppose if I were being really honest, spending more time with friends would be fantastic.

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

Kathleen:  I think everyone wishes they could be a little more carefree, I know I do. I read, when I was quite young, that if you write down your goals, they are more likely to come true. In graduate school, I set a list of goals for myself and I’m making great progress towards them. Achieving my goals is very important to me, but they do require long hours at work.

Marie:  That’s the truth!  😉

Okay, so I’m going to throw another random question at you now.  Who was your first love?

Kathleen: [A wistful look quickly passes across her face, and I find her answer surprising.] Who’s to say I’ve had a first love?

Marie:  So secretive! But, I’ll let you get away with it.

Kathleen, what’s the most terrible thing that ever happened to you?

Kathleen:  [Stares down at her hands for quite some time, before answering.] Honestly, I cannot answer that. [The confidence and grace that Ms. Ehlers has exuded up to this point, deflates briefly.]

Marie:  All right. I won’t press.

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

[Kathleen 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?

Kathleen:  Gosh! I was such a pragmatic child. It probably came as no surprise to my mother when I announced I wanted to be a lawyer! [Here, she pauses briefly, before answering with a twinkle in her eye.] I loved to paint as a child – not walls – canvases. If there is a dreamer in me at all, I suppose I dreamt of being a painter. The pragmatist won out.

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Marie:  So, who is your role model?

Kathleen:  My mother, of course. She’s a wonderful woman, who taught me to reach for the stars. I never felt like I couldn’t do something, if I set my mind to it.

Marie:  That’s awesome!

Well…you’ll probably think I’m digging for dirt on the next question. 

Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?

Kathleen: Des Bannerman!

[Readers might remember the scandal in the tabloids last year between The King of Romantic Comedies, with an unknown American woman. That woman, Charlotte Young-Molloy, is one of Ms. Ehlers’ closest friends.]

Marie:  So, what is your deepest desire?

Kathleen: To be fearless, to make my goals a reality – the goals I wrote down eleven years ago! To be a loving and supportive friend… maybe take up painting again someday.

Marie:  So…let’s switch to another question.  What is your greatest fear?

Kathleen:  Loneliness!

Marie:  Well, we’ve run out of time. Thank you for visiting us today, Kathleen.  (Waves goodbye to her guest.)

Now, let’s shift over and get the author’s perspective.  We have Celia Kennedy on the stage today. Hi, Celia!

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Author Celia Kennedy:  Hi.  Thank you for having me here.

Marie:  My pleasure! 

We just got to talk to the heroine of your story, Kathleen. Quite an interesting character.  Can you tell us a little about her?

Celia:  Kathleen earns her enigmatic title because she is both confident but afraid – she’s reached the upper-echelons of her career ladder – but she’s unable to reveal her emotional scars. Kathleen is an independent woman, financially and emotionally, but perhaps to her detriment. She works long hours to get the career reward, but the price she pays is that she is quite lonely and unable to be vulnerable.

Marie:  So, what are your character’s greatest strengths?

Celia:  I think I am quite a bit like Kathleen. I have a lot of confidence in myself when it comes to trying new things; learning, making connections, being a responsible co-worker. I put a lot of work into being competent. When I am invested, I’m all in.

Marie:  Okay.  Now let’s take the opposition on that. 

What, do you feel, are her greatest weaknesses?

Celia:  Kathleen’s greatest weakness is that she fears being alone. The way that she handles it is by isolating herself, before she can be left.

Marie:  I see. 

What are some of her favorite foods?

Celia: Kathleen loves to eat! That is one of my favorite things about her – she is a foodie. Highly contrasting flavors and textures delight her; hot curries with pickled chutney’s or tart cherries in a sweet dough (this is a Clafouti and makes a guest appearance in Kathleen’s Undressed).

Marie:  So, what’s a positive quality that your character is unaware that he or she has?

Celia: She’s fiercely loyal – when everyone else is second guessing themselves, their friendships, she is the one in the group who reminds them of their history, of their commitment as friends.

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

Celia: I think they will love her. When you meet her she is a little reserved, aloof. But as you read her story, you begin to understand that it is a self-protection mechanism, and then you fall in love with her, because just below the surface, she is warm and committed to those in her life.

Marie:  Great!  Well, now that we have a real taste of Kathleen Ehlers, we have a few questions for you as well as the author.

What first gave you the idea for Kathleen’s Undressed?

Celia:  When I read Book One of The Accidental Series, Charlotte’s Restrained, after it was finished, I realized that we learn very little about Kathleen. While she plays a pivotal role in that book, I didn’t explore her background, her story, as much as I did the other characters. In thinking about why I’d done this, I decided to take that lack of development and create a reason behind it.

Marie:  That’s great! I had something similar when I reread Upon Your Return. I knew there was a larger story at work, and now that I’m well into writing the third book, so much is happening.

So, Celia, what is your writing style like? Are you a pantster or a plotter?

Celia: Every time I write a book, my style changes. My natural predisposition is to daydream about the characters and the plotline – mull over different options and opportunities. I have learned to write down, very vaguely, the purpose for each chapter and work from the outline. As I think of questions or try to weave the threads of all the characters’ storylines, I end up with a bunch of scribblings and loads of arrows!

While I write, it is literally as if I am watching the movie, the story unfolds in front of my eyes and I am lost in the experience.

Marie:  My notes are pretty messy too, and I hear you about being in the zone.

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

Celia:  I learned a great deal from writing Charlotte’s Restrained, my first book. I did it all backwards. I had a book, but no readers, no connections, no writing community. I didn’t have it edited or design a book cover. It’s scary how much I didn’t know. So, my advice to new writers is to develop your community while you write – don’t be afraid to ask for critiques, find beta-readers and have them give suggestions, make connections with book reviewers, bloggers and readers – but these need to be sincere relationships. You are making as big a commitment to them as you want them to make to you. Your work and your community will only benefit by it.

Marie:  What great advice! Thank you, Celia!  🙂

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 Kathleen’s Undressed appears to be.  Readers, you will just have to pick up a copy of this awesome new book by Celia Kennedy, a very talented author!

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Here is the blurb for Kathleen’s Undressed:  Book 2, The Accidental Enigma.

The ladies from Charlotte’s Restrained are back together! Joining Kathleen in Paris, France, for Fall Fashion Week, the ladies and their men mingle with celebrities, royalty, and the fashion elite.

Kathleen’s thrilled to have her friends in town, but what should be a week of camaraderie and fun is about to take a darker turn. Because Kathleen has secrets. Dark secrets her friends would be devastated to learn.

A special someone enters Kathleen’s life who urges her to reveal what she’s kept hidden. It becomes clear she will have to make a choice when the group reunites for an unexpected wedding.

Will Kathleen continue deceiving her friends at the risk of their friendship — or reveal the truth at the risk of herself?

Purchase Links:

http://www.amazon.com/Kathleens-Undressed-Accidental-Enigma-Book-ebook/dp/B00SAP05QG/

http://bookgoodies.com/a/B00SAP05QG

About Celia Kennedy

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Celia Kennedy was born in Wurzburg, Germany on a military base. Her parent’s penchant for traveling has stuck with her, she’s lived in and traveled through several countries.

The imagined world has always fascinated Celia. She has studied Art History, Interior Design, Landscape Architecture, and Architecture. Her thirteen year career at UW in Seattle ended in 1996. Not wanting to be homeless, she left the academic world and worked as a Landscape Architect, married the love of her life, became a mom, has been PTA President, Girl Scout leader and Boy Scout leader.

The unimaginable wealth in her life is the most fascinating thing to her.

Her love of travel, the designed and natural world, friendship, self-discovery, wine, chocolate, AND love are the foundation of her books.

Celia published her first book, Charlotte’s Restrained, The Accidental Stalker in December 2012, Venus Rising in August of 2013, Sugar It’s Cold Outside, Cupid on the Loose Anthology, April’s Fool, Fool’s Rush In Anthology, 2015 AND Kathleen’s Undressed, The Accidental Enigma on February 23, 2015. Three other works are in progress.

Celia’s Books:

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And, if you want to know how to connect with the amazing Celia Kennedy, here are some of her author links:

Website:  www.celiakennedy.weebly.com

Blog:  www.womanreinventsself.blogspot.com

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

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/KennedyCelia

Amazon Author Central:  http://www.amazon.com/Celia-Kennedy/e/B00AW5KEZO/

Pinterest:  https://www.pinterest.com/celiakennedy/

Google+:   https://plus.google.com/u/0/106475224814075459757/posts

Once again, I want to thank both of our guests, Kathleen Ehlers, the female main character of Kathleen’s Undressed, and Celia Kennedy, the brilliant author of the novel, for stopping by!  It was so fun to have you here!

Readers, don’t forget to check out this awesome new release! 🙂

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Filed under Authors, Books, Character Interview, Contemporary, Fiction, Interview, Readers, Romance, Women's Fiction, Writing, Writing Tips