Category Archives: Writing

20 Questions Book Tag

Hi, readers! I hopped on the bandwagon for this one. Thanks to the fascinating C.G. Drews at the Paper Fury blog, I stumbled across this awesome book tag post…

She didn’t officially tag me, just encouraged people to participate. So, I thought, hey, why not? I also missed Read A Book Day and International Literacy Day last week, and this is a great way to honor those unusual holidays. Plus, I love these questions! ♥

Let’s dive in! 😉

20 Questions Book Tag

 

1. How many books are too many for a series?

Is there such a thing? I guess in most cases, it doesn’t bother me. A series is as long as it needs to be. But I have followed J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood Series for years – I am begging for forgiveness on my knees here, J.R. – and there is a point when I start to wonder…will it ever get wrapped up? I mean, I love a good hottie with fangs as much as the next girl (Wrath, come here, boy!… *whistles and pants). But does it just keep going until Jessica decides she’s done with vamps? (Chuckles.)

2. How do you feel about cliffhangers?

Oh, god…kill me now! Yep, I end up complaining like a little girl to my nearest and dearest, at least until I can grab a copy of the next book in the series. So, I’m not exactly a fan of cliffhangers.

This is probably why I do my best not to torment readers that way with my books. I just find other ways to torture my characters. 😀

3. Hardcover or paperback?

Either one is cool with me, but paperback is a tad more convenient. I always find the bigger books sliding off my lap or a table or something. (Clumsy Marie!)

4. Favorite book?

HOW DARE YOU!! No, I’m kidding. But, seriously? WHHHYYYYY MAKE ME CHOOSE?

Okay, I’ll answer. As of this moment, I guess I’ll go with Dark Lover by J.R. Ward.

Wrath and I can go make cute little imaginary Marie/Wrath babies in my dreams… 😉

5. Least favorite book?

The World I Made for Her by Thomas Moran. Big buildup, and major emotional letdown. This made me ugly cry, for sure!

6. Love triangles, yes or no?

I don’t usually like them, because it adds wayyy too much drama. I mean, I get enough drama in my own life, thanks!

7. The most recent book you couldn’t finish?

Opening Atlantis by Harry Turtledove. This was a gift from a loved one. For me it was a slow read, but I have hope that I’ll eventually get back to it one day and finish it. At least so I can say, hey, thanks for the good book! (even if the words are a tad late)

8. A book you’re currently reading?

Kurt Seyt & Shura by Nermin Bezmen. This is on my book review schedule for ILRB here.

9. Last book you recommended to someone?

The Chicagoland Vampires Series by Chloe Neill. Seriously, have you not discovered it yet? Merit is the quirkiest badass vamp heroine around…

10. Oldest book you’ve read by publication date?

Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded by Samuel Richardson (the first official romance novel). This was published in 1740, but I managed to snag a 1919 copy at an antique store.

11. Newest book you’ve read by publication date?

The Impaler’s Wife by Autumn Bardot, published in April of this year. A gothic romance, with an unusual yet fascinating take on the legend and true history of Dracula.

12. Favorite author?

Damn, so many! J.R. Ward, Chloe Neill, P.C. Cast, Nora Roberts, Kris Tualla, Catherine Coulter, Tessa Dare, and the list just keeps going…

13. Buying books or borrowing books?

I buy a ton of books. I am a book whore, I’ll admit it. But I really need to stop! (Giggles.)

14. A book you dislike that everyone seems to love?

The Great Gatsby. Honestly, I just don’t get it. When I was in high school, I rented it from the library. To this day, I know it’s a classic and all, but I just can’t see why people make a big deal about the novel. And Leo DiCaprio being in the film doesn’t make me go all nuts to Netflix it either.

15. Bookmarks or dog ears?

Yes, I am guilty of dog-earing pages. Mostly, I don’t have a moment to think about grabbing a bookmark while I’m reading (um…where did I put the one I got at that new release party?), so I just mark it the quickest way I know how. When I re-read a book, then I see I enjoyed it because there are slight indentations here and there. Not enough to ruin the reading experience, though! 😉

So, what about you?

16. A book you can always re-read?

The Black Dagger Brotherhood Series by J.R. Ward.

17. Can you read while listening to music?

More often than not, I can’t multitask if I’m reading. It requires my absolute focus.

There is one other activity I can’t do while I’m listening to music as well, but I won’t go into details. Let’s just say, I get distracted by the music and in the past, I annoyed my boyfriends.

18. One POV or multiple?

I will take either one, just as long as there is no head-hopping. I can tolerate it to a point, but if I can’t figure out which character’s head I’m in, then I am tempted to throw the book across the room!

19. Do you read a book in one sitting or over multiple days?

I have done both. If I read it in one sitting (or actually, eyes glued to the pages until sun comes up while I’m in bed), then that’s a great compliment on a writer’s ability to tell a good story. But if I am short on time, I’ll spread it out over a week or two. Maybe longer if I can’t quite immerse myself in the fictional world.

20. Who do you tag?

Tag anyone at all – a friend or just ask your readers to participate. AND YES, please do here on the I Love Romance Blog! 😉 Well, I assume if you dropped by, you’re an avid book reader too…so, enjoy!

 

Lend me your opinions in the comments below! How many books do YOU like in a series? What are your point-of-view preferences? (or tell me what you’re currently reading!)

Here’s a screenshot of my Kindle bookshelf. ♥

As always, everyone, have a great rest of your week and happy reading! 😀

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Top 10 Dating Tips for the Modern Woman: a guest post by author Kai Nicole

Top 10 Dating Tips for the Modern Woman

by Kai Nicole

 

Let’s face it, dating in this digital era is getting a bit crazy. We are in a cultural shift where women have a lot more money and freedom than they used to have, all while traditionalism is still desired by many. So, how are modern women to navigate the madness? Here are 10 tips to help the single women out there:

  1. Be Whole

Do not date with the expectation that there is someone else outside of you who will complete you. You are a complete person, and you should date like one.  If you don’t feel fully complete then dating should not be your priority. You should take the time to focus on yourself becoming whole and happy.

Happy women always have a better dating life.

  1. Be Open

One of the biggest reasons women are disappointed with their dating experiences is because they have so many expectations that cannot be met. In order to have better dating experiences, you have to be open. That means no expectations! Let the dates flow and enjoy the moment!

  1. Stop “Husband Shopping”

“If you are one of these women who is searching for a husband, you are not dating, you are shopping. You are looking for a guy who fits some requirements you have created in your mind – a fantasy. Stop doing that. If you want to date, you need to understand the reality. Dating is taking time to get to know someone. That’s it. You give your time and in turn a man gives his time to you so that you both get to know each other.” – Date Like A Woman

  1. Only accept dates from men who are genuinely interested in you

Clarisse Meyer, Unsplash

How can you tell that a man is genuinely interested? He will risk rejection. Ladies, if a man risks nothing, especially public rejection, he really isn’t that interested in you, period. You are just some woman to pass the time with. When a man is REALLY interested in you, he is going to make sure you know it even at the risk of being embarrassed. Because in his mind you are worth it. The men who risk something to ask you out, those are the men you should date. They are genuinely interested.

  1. Date In Your Circle

When it comes to dating, there are many types of circles/leagues. However, your dating experiences are best when you date within your leagues/circles. I talk about dating circles more in-depth in my book. If you want to know what circles you are in, you should take a look at your own life. Chances are you spend time with those who are most similar to you. The men who are most similar to the folks you hang around are the men who are in your circles.

Pixabay, pexels.com

Why are dating experiences with men in your circle better? Because you have more in common and will have more to share and talk about.

  1. Avoid online dating and dating men who only send you DMs

As I like to say, “shoot your shot in public so I know it’s real.” Men who only date online or shoot their shot in DMs lack either true interest in the woman or their ability to talk to women is lacking in some way. When a man is not genuinely interested in a woman, the dating experience is always subpar.

While online dating and DMs have made it easier for men to access women, especially men who are scared to speak to women in person, the increased access to women means there is a decreased chance of genuine interest. Of course, many people love to fight me on this point, stating that they either met their spouses online or know someone who has met a spouse online. Whenever this happens, I simply point out that the success rate for online dating is 5%. That means 95% (that’s ninety-five percent) of the time online dating does not work. On top of that, the online dating business is worth $2 billion dollars. Online dating sites make more money if they keep you single. So, if you are okay with that, then please, by all means, keep dating online.

  1. Be more than a pretty package

Matthew T Rader, Unsplash

Focus less on how you look and more on who you are as a person when you date. “You must be more than just a pretty face. If you aren’t interesting, men are not going to be interested in you. You must be more than just a ‘wrapping.’ You have to give your date more than just an appearance. You have to give your date something to get to know.”’ – Date Like A Woman

  1. Date more than one man at a time

If you are not in a relationship, you’re single. Act like it. DATE!

Huy Phan, Unsplash

 

Shanique Wright, Unsplash

  1. Learn to let go

If a date doesn’t go the way you want it to, don’t sweat it. Letting go and moving on when things aren’t “right” is one of the key components to a great dating life.

Created by katemangostar – http://www.freepik.com

Remember, this is dating, not a relationship! If one guy isn’t for you, date a different one!

  1. Buy Date Like A Woman!

Get Date Like A Woman, the BEST dating guide for women, if you really want a better dating life!

Flower photo created by tirachard – http://www.freepik.com

 

Want to read more dating blogs? Check out DateLikeAWoman.com’s Blog. Be sure to also check out Kai’s personal blog at FlyMommy.net! And, don’t forget to buy the best dating book for women, Date Like A Woman!

Too right! Thank you, Kai, for giving us your impression of how to navigate dating in this modern age.

Well, readers, shall we take a look at the book on which her philosophy is based? Sounds like a plan!  😀

Great cover!  🙂

Here’s the blurb for Date Like a Woman:

Date Like A Woman (DLAW) is for the 21st century woman who is ready for a new narrative about dating, romance, sex and life!  DLAW helps women move from fear to freedom. It offers practical dating advice, teaching women to navigate through the often challenging and daunting dating world, while countering the sexist, stereotypical and, frankly, stupid “instructions” spewed at women by self-professed male “dating experts.”

DLAW puts the FUN back into dating while also providing no-nonsense guidance that empowers and encourages women who have grown weary, been disappointed, and are still holding on to outmoded and unrealistic expectations about their dating choices. DLAW reminds women of their worth, helping them understand that they do not need to fit some antiquated model of being “accepted” or “chosen” by men.

For women who are so ready to sever the cord – quickly, forcefully and permanently – that has kept them bound by dangerous dogma and silly, sexist “thought leaders,” DLAW offers fresh, funny advice for discovering themselves, deciding what they really want, and enjoying dating!

Purchase Links:

Universal Amazon link:  https://bookgoodies.com/a/0692864350

Add it to Goodreads:   https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36164605-date-like-a-woman

♥♥♥ Ooh…love it! This looks like such a helpful read! 

Thanks for stopping by with your fascinating guest post, Kai! Awesome to have you here! ♥

Author Bio

Published author, blogger and attorney Kai Nicole has emerged as an exciting and unique voice on dating and relationships. A graduate of Harvard University and Howard University School of Law, Kai’s professional experiences encompass diverse fields including legal, tech, and entertainment. She is a mother, world traveler, foodie, and lifestyle enthusiast.

 

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

Happy reading, everyone!🙂

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Exclusive Interview with author Jamie Schulz, plus a look at dystopian western romance, JAKE’S REDEMPTION!

Hi, readers! I am pleased to announce a very special post today on ILRB. We’re doing something a little different. This is our fifteenth 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 Jamie Schulz to ILRB! 😀

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

Author Jamie Schulz:  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…

Jamie:  I am a romance author who writes mashup genres that are just a little different from the norm. I have a broad range of stories floating around in my head, so there’ll be some of the normal genres too, like contemporary romance, romantic suspense, maybe even some paranormal romance in the future (I really like Dragons!).

Am I any good at it?

In a word? Yes. (Well, at least, I’d like to think so, but it’s up to the reader to decide for themselves.)

Do I like it? I love it!

Marie:  Happy to hear it!

So, tell us…what is your family like?

Jamie:  Right now, it’s just my wonderful husband and myself with our little fur baby, but we’re hoping to add one more to our number soon.

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?

Jamie:  Your typical one-story rambler. It was cozy and comfortable. I have many fond memories of the place.

Marie:  Lovely!

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

Jamie:  I have a few. Reading has always been a favorite, of course, but I also like to draw, and play the piano (when I can get my hands on one) and guitar. I love music and gardening too.

I really enjoy writing and making up stories. I love to see where they go, because it’s not always to where I’d thought they would when I started. I like to camp, garden, can our vegetables and fruit, and go for walks outside.

Marie:  Nice!

And what is your greatest dream?

Jamie:  To be an author and reach the bestseller lists.

Marie:  Sounds like a plan! 😉

Let’s try another question.

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

Jamie:  I wish I could be as athletic as I used to be and not worry about anything.

What is stopping me? Getting older and old injuries from being athletic and not always so smart when I was young

Marie:  Okay.

Who was your first love?

Jamie:  Hmm… He was a friend, we were kids, and we never dated. Sad, I know.

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

So, 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?

Jamie:  If you’re talking about accidents or bad choices, I have one. Getting a big, heavy car stuck in a snow bank on Easter Sunday, miles and miles from a main road with no way to pull the car out, and all through no fault of my own. This was before the proliferation of cell phones, so we couldn’t just call someone, even if there was service out there. Ended up staying the night. We were planning on walking out the next morning, but luckily a forest Ranger was checking the roads and he happened upon us. Fortunately, he had a rope to pull us out. Not a fun trip.

Marie:  Yikes! 😕

At least you got out safely.

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

[Jamie 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?

Jamie:  To have a family and to be a successful author.

Did I achieve that dream? I’m still working on both, but I’m far closer to them now than I was even a year ago.

In what ways was it not what I expected? The author part involves a lot of things I didn’t expect to have to do. I’m an Indie author, so I don’t have a crew of people to help me with formatting, editing, story development, cover art, book description, publishing, social media, and marketing. I had to learn how to do all those things, and I’m still learning every day.

The family part I always thought would take care of itself, but it didn’t turn out that way. We’re still working on it and hope it will be resolved very soon!

I didn’t meet the right person and the situation didn’t present itself for a long time. Now that I have a great guy in my life, it’s time to add that extra piece.

The author dream got put on hold for a really long time due to life and all the crap it can throw at you. Now that I’ve got to a relatively comfortable place, I have some time to devote to what I love to do. I hope to be able to do it full-time at some point.

Marie:  Oh, I know exactly what you mean! I hope to have both of those as well…

So, who is your role model, Jamie?

Jamie:  My mom.

Marie:  Cool!

Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?

Jamie:  There are a few of these, but I’ll never tell you who they are.

Marie:  No worries, I respect your privacy.

Let’s try something different.

What is your deepest desire?

Jamie:  To be a full-time author with a family.

Marie:  And what is your greatest fear?

Jamie:  That my dream of a family will never come true.

And hornets! I hate those mean little things.

Marie:  Oh, no! I really don’t think that will be the case. It will work out one way or another. 😉

And, oh, man, bugs drive me crazy. We have so many in Indiana. 🙄

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.

Jamie:  A trunk full of my favorite books. My husband and fur baby (does that count as two?). Some lounge chairs. A comfy bed. And sun screen.

Marie:  (Chuckles.) Yes, why not? I think I’d bring all the Black Dagger Brotherhood books I’ve collected. What else could pass the time? Well, other than spending time with my fiancé, of course.

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

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

Jamie:  Jake is a tenderhearted guy who’s gone through a lengthy, very traumatic experience. At the beginning of the story, Jake is an imprisoned slave and is worried that he will die in the dark cell where he’s been confined. Through the story, he thinks about his best friend and misses him more than he wants to admit. He’s afraid of women due to his experiences, but is still attracted to them (some of them, anyway).

Marie:  Intriguing…

And what are Jake’s greatest strengths?

Jamie:  His integrity, kindness, intelligence, and loyalty.

Marie:  How admirable! 😀

And his weaknesses?

Jamie:  His fear of his tormentor and his worry that he’ll never be the man he used to be again.

Marie:  I’m sure some of us can relate to that one…trauma definitely changes you.

Let’s try something fun, shall we?

What are Jake’s favorite foods?

Jamie:  He’s not picky. After living in the wild for a number of years, he’s learned to eat what he can get.

Marie:  All right.

How about another question?

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

Jamie:  His loyalty makes him a very good friend, and his kindness makes people trust him.

Marie:  Nice!

Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?

Jamie:  I think readers will like Jake very much for all the reasons I’ve already mentioned, plus there’s the fact that he’s far better looking than he believes. 😉

Marie: 😛

(Laughs and fans herself.) Hot gentlemen book boyfriends are my weakness!

Now that we have a real taste of Jake, 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 Jake’s Redemption?

Jamie:  Well, I actually wrote the first five books of the series before I even thought of writing Jake’s story. But, the more I got into the story, the more I felt that Jake needed one that was all his own. Parts of his tale are told in more detail later in the series when he feels his best friend Bret needs to know, but I thought it was important that readers knew what brought him and Monica together before they got to know Bret and Angel.

Marie: That’s sort of what happened with book three of my historical romance trilogy. Suddenly, I realized that readers needed a glimpse into certain characters that had always been in the series, but I’d never gone into too much detail in the past. So it became a family saga as well as a Victorian romance.

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

Let’s try something else.

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

Jamie:  Actually, I’d say I’m a ‘plantser’. I do plan out the story and make outlines, but a lot of the time the story evolves as I’m writing and I have to edit the original idea. Most of the time this is good. Sometimes it gets messy, but it’s how I work and it works for me.

Marie:  Awesome!

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

Jamie:  Learning how to navigate all the marketing was a nightmare. I’m still wading through how to reach the right readers, but I’m slowly getting better. Then there was how to build a mailing list and how to use it. That’s not as easy as it sounds and I’ve made some mistakes. Luckily, I found some great online mentors to ask questions of who helped me understand much of the process, and who are still doing so, for me and many others.

As far as writing, development editing can be hard as you often end up rewriting or deleting whole chapters. It was difficult to do at first, but once you realize how much better the story is, the process gets easier.

What I’d do differently? Well, if I have the money, I’d hire someone to do a beautiful cover (which I may do with Jake’s Redemption anyway), as well as hire a virtual assistant to take care of all the small tasks that take up so much of my time. That way I’d have more time to write. I work full time and am working on that family thing I mentioned earlier, so it can be very difficult to find time to write or edit, especially when there’s so many other things to do.

Marie:  Oh, I hear ya! 😀 It is tough to navigate the publishing world.

As for the cover, I think it’s perfect! I look forward to learning about the other books in the 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 Jake’s Redemption appears to be… ♥

Jake’s Redemption is the first book in the Angel Eyes cowboy dystopian romance series.

If you like scorching-hot chemistry, clever post-apocalyptic worlds, and star-crossed love stories, then you’ll adore Jamie Schulz’s captivating tale.

Genres: Romance, Cowboy/Western, Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic/Sci-fi, Suspense

Here is the blurb:

An imprisoned cowboy. An empowered woman. When true love is forbidden, opening their hearts could destroy them both…

Chained and enslaved, Jake Nichols is convinced he’ll die alone. In this new order where men are stripped of all power, he endures brutal torture at the hands of his female captor. But when he’s hired out to build a ranch home for an outspoken beauty, his dreams of escape transform into visions of passion.

Monica Avery struggles to fill her heart in a loveless society. With marriage outlawed and romantic partners reduced to pawns, she’s given up hope of finding her soul mate. But watching the rugged rancher hard at work on her shelter awakens her deeply buried desires.

As the project comes together, Monica discovers a kindred spirit in the tenderhearted Jake. But despite their growing attraction, he still belongs to a cruel woman who’d rather see him dead than free.

Can Monica save Jake, or will their love lead to a tragic tomorrow?

Here’s a peek at the story…

JAKE NICHOLS knelt in defeat on the cold ground of the mountain meadow, directly beside his best friend, Bret Masters. Defenseless, with their fingers laced together behind their heads, their eyes scanned the surroundings for any escape from the Raiders who had attacked their camp in the early morning hours.

Both men scowled up at their captor, a woman Bret had foolishly—and against Jake’s repeated warnings—loved to distraction. Jake risked a quick glance at his friend, knowing the pain Bret must be suffering in the wake of her betrayal. He felt the bite of it too, only for a different reason. Bret was family, and what hurt him, hurt Jake. His protective nature made him long to shield Bret from the misery this woman inflicted.

“I don’t care for you,” Amy had said only moments ago, indifferent to the devastation Jake saw in every line of Bret’s granite-hard face. What made her confession even worse was the bit she added about only wanting to use his body.

“You do have such a pretty face, but no brains in your head,” she went on, and then laughed at Bret’s seething look. His expression made Jake ache for his friend, and he silently hoped she had nothing more to torment him with. But Amy wasn’t done with Bret yet.

“How could you think any self-respecting woman would want you for anything more than your gorgeous face and hard body?” she asked, not waiting for a reply. “A decent woman would never accept you as an equal. Any woman who would is worse than the slave you will shortly become.”

A deep growl rumbled up from Bret’s chest, and to Jake’s surprise, Bret lunged to his feet and attacked her. Seeing an opportunity, Jake and all the other prisoners immediately joined him in a last, desperate attempt to gain their freedom. Their female adversaries, however, had a new genetic advantage. It may have taken a few seconds for the hysterical-strength to kick in, but once it did, the fight, strength-wise, was no longer in the men’s favor.

The skirmish didn’t last long, but in a brief moment before it ended, Jake turned to see Amy about to drive a long-bladed knife into his best friend’s back. Jake didn’t think, he moved, tackling Amy as her weapon plunged downward from its high arch. Amy tried to wiggle away from him, but he held on, desperate to keep her from harming Bret.

“Run!” He heard Bret’s frantic shout. “Run!” The sound of pounding feet and continued battle assaulted Jake’s ears. He tried to roll away from Amy, but now she held on to him. On his hands and knees, he jerked his arm to shake her loose and follow his friend into the forest, but she wouldn’t let go.

Pain bloomed sharp and bright in his ribs as a booted foot slammed into him—once, twice—and he fell. The boot kept coming. He curled up, protecting his vulnerable areas, but his assailant still landed several blows to his head and back.

“Enough!” Amy’s voice rang out, and the assault ended. Jake spit blood from his mouth and struggled to catch his breath. The dizziness in his head and the stabbing ache in his side told him getting to his feet might be harder than it was a few minutes ago.

Definitely broke a rib or two, he thought, tonguing his split lip and rapidly cataloging the pain in the rest of his body.

“How many do we still have?” Amy shouted to someone nearby.

“Ten got away,” a woman said. “With this one,” Jake assumed she was pointing at him, “we still have twenty-seven men, along with some traitorous women and children too.”

“Is there a tall man, black hair, green eyes, very good-looking, among those we recaptured?” Amy asked, describing Bret to a tee.

“No.”

“That sappy, pretty-boy son of a bitch,” Amy swore, undoubtedly meaning Bret. “I should’ve known he’d try something like that.” She cursed again.

“You know their hiding places now,” the other woman said. “We’ll catch them and their friends too.”

Jake and Bret had come across Amy by accident—or so they had thought at the time—almost seven months before as they traveled the mountains, hunting for food. She’d been hungry and in need of aid. Unsurprisingly, she took an immediate interest in Bret. Although he had a mistrusting nature, she spared little time wrapping his love-starved heart around her finger. Jake had never liked her and the two friends argued about her more than once, but despite his misgivings about Amy, Jake refused to alienate his boyhood friend. Yet as a result of her relationship with Bret, she now knew the location of most of their woodland hiding places.

“That’s true,” Amy replied to the other woman’s comment. She tapped her chin with her index finger as if considering, and then she glanced down at Jake.

He had lain very still during their interaction, hoping against hope they might forget about him.

No such luck.

“And you,” she said coming toward him. “You—”

He didn’t give her a chance to finish; he had a fairly good idea of what came next. Instead, he ignored his dizziness and the pain in his chest as he surged to his feet, pushed her aside, and ran for the trees. He’d made it six feet when he heard a crack behind him. Then something hard and thin snapped around his neck and yanked him backward. He saw stars as his head and back slammed to the ground, sending a new wave of misery through his abused body. He groaned, trying to place what just happened, and then Amy was leaning over him.

She jammed her knee into his chest, and pain shot through his damaged ribs. He lifted his arms to shove her away, but the leathery rope wrapped around his neck yanked at him again, choking off his air. Desperate, needing to get her off him, needing to breathe, he tugged at the cord strangling him. His eyes widened as Amy grabbed him by the hair and tilted his head back to expose his throat. He reached for her again, but the minute the edge of her knife grazed his flesh, his arms collapsed to the ground and he froze.

The binding around his neck loosened and fell away as Amy glared into his face. Blessed air came freely, but the simple act of breathing caused his ribs to twinge more.

With the suffocating rope gone, his hands automatically lifted off the ground to defend himself. Amy’s knife cut a tiny fraction deeper. Blood tickled his neck as the warm liquid trickled over his cool skin, and he froze once more, afraid to even breathe.

“Uh-uh,” Amy warned as she increased the pressure slightly, widening the gash a bit more and digging the point of her blade into his Adam’s apple.

His mouth went dry. Is she going to slit my throat?

“Looks like Bret didn’t value your friendship as much as you thought, huh, Jake?” Amy said with a nasty smile, her dark brown eyes glittering down at him. Jake cringed inwardly. He knew that wasn’t the case. In the chaos, Bret probably hadn’t even realized Jake had been captured, and wouldn’t until he failed to show at their rendezvous point. But her implication twisted at his guts nonetheless.

A second woman stepped up behind Amy, coiling the long black length of a bullwhip in her hand.

So, that’s what was strangling me…I should’ve known.

“You fucked up my plans, Jake, just as much as your damned friend,” Amy hissed at him when he didn’t respond to her earlier comment. “If it weren’t for you, he’d be mine and you’d both make me rich. Now, I have to settle for you and those other losers we caught today.”

“What’re—you going—to do with me?” He stifled a groan for his halting speech and glared daggers at the woman hovering over him.

“Oh, I think you know what we do with captured men,” Amy chuckled. She tilted her head, and a strand of her amber-blonde hair fell into her face as her eyes raked over him.

“You know, Jake,” she said reflectively, “you’re a good-looking guy. If Bret hadn’t been around, you would’ve been my target. It’s only next to a man like him that you’d seem second best. But then, you were always suspicious of me, weren’t you? Maybe once you’ve been trained, I’ll pay you another visit.”

He clamped his jaws tight and didn’t respond, but his mind was in overdrive. He wanted to fight, but moving meant death. He didn’t want to know what it was like to bleed to death from a severed artery. Instead, he scowled all the more. If he wanted to live, it was all he could do.

The woman beside Amy crouched down, but he couldn’t see what she was doing. The next thing he knew, he jumped as a needle jammed into his hip and something injected into his body.

Ah, shit… He knew what that was; he’d heard dozens of stories about it but luckily had never had to deal with the drug, until now.

It started working almost instantaneously, driving up his anxiety level, making him shake and cringe. A few seconds passed, while Amy’s gaze bore into his, and the effect of the chemical doubled.

Oh, God, this is worse than I thought it would be. He had never felt so weak and vulnerable in his life.

“Now,” Amy said as she removed the blade from his throat and stood. She tucked the knife in her boot and then plopped her rear down on his chest, knowing he would be too terrified, thanks to the drug, to do anything to save himself. “What shall I do with you?” She ran a finger down the side of his face.

He flinched away.

You could let me go, he thought and tried to force out the sarcastic remark, but the substance surging through him wouldn’t allow it.

“I think you deserve a particularly horrible punishment for always interfering in my plans with Bret,” she said, answering her own question while tapping his bearded chin with one finger. The slight contact amped up his anxiety, and he shivered. “He may have listened to you complain about me, but he loved me.” Her derisive tone told him what she thought about that. “He would’ve never turned me out the way you kept telling him to do. And now, you’ve ruined my chance to have him how I always wanted him: in chains. So, how shall I make you pay for all of it?”

Jake’s body shook with fear, both real and chemically induced. Amy was far more lethal than he had once thought.

“I know just the place you should go,” she continued with a bright smile, as if she’d come up with a brilliant idea. “I have an acquaintance near here, a woman who’s exceptionally adept at training men to be perfect little slaves. I’ll bet she’d jump at the chance to make you a willing breeder. You’ll make her a lot of money. Once she pays me a high price for you that is.”

“P-Please…” Jake pleaded involuntarily, the drug wreaking havoc with his willpower. No matter how much he wanted to resist begging, he couldn’t stop now that he had started. “P-Please…” he muttered again, his voice shaking while fighting the drug—and losing. “Let me go…”

Amy laughed.

“Darla’s going to tear you to pieces, Jake,” she told him, her sinister smile sending waves of dread prickling up and down his spine. “A little bit at a time, she’ll peel away your pride—”

Sounds intriguing, suspenseful and sexy! Can’t wait to find out what happens next. 😀

Purchase Links:

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

Add it to Goodreads or BookBub:   https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42607132-jake-s-redemption

https://www.bookbub.com/books/jake-s-redemption-the-angel-eyes-series-prequel-by-jamie-schulz

What are people saying about Jake’s Redemption?

 

Also, check out what our former ILRB reviewer, Kevin, had to say about this book back in March! https://iloveromanceblog.wordpress.com/2019/03/20/book-review-jakes-redemption-by-jamie-schulz/

We’ll be sure to get a copy of this dystopian western romance with a touch of suspense! ♥♥♥

About Jamie Schulz

Jamie Schulz lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family, her husband, and their fur babies. Writing has always been a big a part of her life.

Cowboys, ice cream, and reading almost any kind of romance are among her (not so) secret loves. To her, every one of her stories, no matter how dark, must have a happy ending, and she strives to make them impossible to put down until you get there.

She balances her free time between reading her favorite romance authors—in genres ranging from erotica and dark romance to sweet historicals and contemporary romance—and spending time with her family.

Her debut novel, Jake’s Redemption, was released in February 2019 and is available for sale on Amazon.

Readers can connect with Jamie on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads, or follow her website.

Book:

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

 

Once again, I want to thank Jamie Schulz, the brilliant author of this dystopian western 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, Dystopian, Event, Fiction, Guest Writer, Interview, Readers, Romance, Romantic Suspense, Science Fiction, western, Writers, Writing, Writing Tips

Exclusive Interview with author Dana Littlejohn, plus a look at multicultural erotic romance, TRI-ROMANCE!

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

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

Author Dana Littlejohn:  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…

Dana:  I am a nurse by day and author by night. I absolutely love my day job and night job. I am proficient and learn daily at both. I have no desire to leave either.

Marie: Great! 😀

So, tell us…what is your family like?

Dana:  My family is an eclectic bunch. They love music, travel, food and life, but there are no two alike in their love for either.

Marie:  I see.

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?

Dana:  My mother was more of the physical disciplinarian while my father was the talker punisher. Together they made a good team and raised four very different kids.

Marie:  All right.

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

Dana:  I love to crochet. I make everything from baby blankets, shawls for church and pot holders to jewelry, clothes and shoes.

Marie:  Nice!

And what is your greatest dream?

Dana:  To actually retire from working a nine to five and make a living writing.

Marie:  Sounds like a plan! 😉

Let’s try another question.

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

Dana:  I am already the person I want to be. If any changes need to be made, God will make them.

Marie:  Okay.

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

Dana:  My first love was a boy named Lahtie. He was super smart and beautiful on the inside and out. He died in an accident at a young age, but I am grateful that he left me with a son who has those very same qualities.

Marie:  So sorry to hear about that. 😡

And I’m glad you have your son!

Let’s switch to a different question…

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

Dana:  When I had to identify his body.

Marie:  Oh, no! How heartbreaking! Ouch… 😕

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

[Dana 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?

Dana:  I was the kid that said I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. When I sold my first novel it was a feeling that cannot be described. I continue to write just to feel it again.

Marie:  I know exactly what you mean! 😛

So, who is your role model, Dana?

Dana:  I don’t have an actual role model. I take strength from those who acknowledge the struggle and push onward to achieve their goals.

Marie:  Sounds about right!

Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?

Dana:  Nope. If I don’t like it, I just don’t like it.

Marie:  Gotcha!

And what is your deepest desire?

Dana:  To be able to stop working and write for a living.

Marie:  I know, right? 😉

Let’s try a different question.

What is your greatest fear?

Dana:  There are things I don’t want to encounter, but I don’t really fear anything. I’m a child of God. He’s got my back so there’s no need to fear anything.

Marie:  Okay.

Let’s do something else.

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

Dana:  I need my laptop, phone and an endless supply of sunflower seeds, green tea and yarn.

Marie:  (Laughs.) Cool!

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

We’ve heard rumors about the heroines of your story, Opal and Pearl Jefferson. Quite interesting characters. Can you tell us a little about them?

Dana:  Opal and Pearl Jefferson are twins.

Marie:  Intriguing…

And what are their greatest strengths?

Dana:  The twins are very family oriented and self-sufficient.

Marie:  Great! 😀

Any weaknesses?

Dana:  Opal is untrusting of men, and Pearl is softhearted and over trusting.

Marie:  I see…

Let’s try something fun, shall we?

What are some of their favorite foods?

Dana:  Opal is a straight up Cokeaholic. Pearl loves seafood.

Marie:  Okay.

How about another question?

What’s a positive quality that your characters are unaware that they have?

Dana:  Opal and Pearl can easily spot issues that the other is having and always help each other out of a bind.

Marie:  Handy!

Will readers like or dislike these characters, and why?

Dana:  I think the readers will love them. They will see a bit of themselves in these sisters.

Marie:  Awesome!

Now that we have a real taste of the Jefferson twins, 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 Tri-Romance?

Dana:  I really have no idea. I dreamt about the sisters’ adventures. When I realized they were no one I actually knew, I started to write it down and expand on it.

Marie:  Nice! (Chuckles.) It’s fascinating how the muse works, huh? 😀

Let’s try something else.

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

Dana:  I am kind of a combination. I know the beginning, the middle and the end of the story when I start, so I do an outline. However, I never know where it will go after that. The characters drove the story from point A to B to C.

Marie:  Makes sense to me! 😉

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

Dana:  Getting Tri-Romance from my head to the computer was the easy part. Getting it ready for publication was a nightmare. Self edits, professional edits, getting it formatted, cover design, all were challenging, but worth the stress and the money because I am happy with the finished product. I can only hope others will enjoy my work, but even if no one ever buys a copy, I am proud of it and myself.

Marie:  Well, you should be! Writing a book is hard work.

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 Tri-Romance appears to be… ♥

Here is the blurb:

Twin sisters, Opal and Pearl Jefferson, and their best friend Debra Flores have lived blissfully by their “no strings attached” rule while enjoying the comforts of a good life. All was well in their world until Frank, Jake, Doug and Rakim entered into it. When one of the girls abandons their well practiced rule and falls in love, does the decision throw a monkey wrench into the lives of everyone else around her? Or does it open up the possibility for love to capture them all?

Here’s a peek at the story…

 

Sounds intriguing! Can’t wait to find out what happens next. 😀

Purchase Links:

Universal Amazon link:  https://bookgoodies.com/a/153012963X

Add it to Goodreads or BookBub:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21763731-tri-romance

https://www.bookbub.com/books/tri-romance-by-dana-littlejohn

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

About Dana Littlejohn

I am Dana Littlejohn, author of sensual romance. As a little girl I wrote hickory dickory dock type poetry. By the time a got to middle school I was creating stories and passing them to my friends in weekly installments. Life made me a wife and mother and changed my waiting to bedtime stories for my children. In 2003 I picked up my pen again and have no intention of putting it down.

You will find that I write contemporary romances with just a hint of another genre to take it away from the ordinary. My stories will touch your heart and may make your body feel like it’s being touched as well.

Books:

FREE READS

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

 

Once again, I want to thank Dana Littlejohn, the brilliant author of this erotic multicultural 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, Erotica, Event, Fiction, Guest Writer, Interview, Multicultural/Interracial, reflections, Romance, steamy, Writers, Writing

Love at First Sight: a guest post by author Holly Bargo

Love at First Sight

by Holly Bargo

 

Immortalized in movie scenes when our hero and heroine exchange that first glimpse from across a room, love at first sight occupies a permanent place within the romantic lexicon. Nowadays, though, it’s called “instalust” or “instalove.”

Ryan Jacobson, Unsplash

Apparently, that’s more accurate or realistic.

I think it’s derogatory.

What man or woman doesn’t want to feel that moment of instant attraction, that wondrous lightning strike of knowing that he or she is “the One”? That sizzling realization that you’ve just met your one true love can and should knock you off your feet.

Does it happen?

Mohamed Hassan, Pixabay

In fiction, it happens all the time. Consider that ubiquitous fairy tale, Cinderella. The prince gazes across a sea of hopeful ladies to see the glittering beauty of an unknown woman. He rises from his chair, wades through the crowd, and takes the unknown beauty by the hand. They dance all night until the clock strikes midnight and she flees. The next day he goes in search of the woman who captured his interest with just a glance and then took his heart prisoner over a single evening. And he doesn’t even know her name.

Paranormal romance, especially in shifter and vampire romances, capitalizes on love at first sight, using the practically instantaneous attraction and mating instinct possessed by many animals. Our hero (usually a shifter) recognizes his mate (usually a human) and then spends the rest of the story persuading her that he’s going to love her and take care of her forever.

Leandro De Carvalho, Pixabay

I think that most people crave that sort of obsessive devotion, which is why the “love at first sight” trope endures in popularity. However, it has its dark side, too. In Deerskin by Robin McKinley, our heroine’s parents have that sort of single-minded focus upon each other until the heroine’s mother fears the ravages of age and her father transfers his insane focus on his own daughter. The daughter grows up mostly ignored until that creepy and awful transference of obsessive love: her parents cannot focus on anyone but each other. They have no love to spare for their own child.

The ideal of it … ah, doesn’t that make you shiver with the longing to have someone whom you love forsake all others to dedicate himself or herself to your happiness? The trope generally builds upon a man’s instinct to possess and protect, taking those instincts to psychotic levels. The trope generally demands obedience from the submissive in the relationship—usually the female. He takes care, she is cared for—until the tables are turned and she ministers to him.

Andre Furtado, pexels.com

Love at first sight hearkens to the ideal of mutual care, mutual benefit, mutual pleasure, mutual support. It takes the concept of a utopian community and applies it to the two-person community of a romance or the slightly larger group of a polyamorous relationship. It takes that idealized, interdependent caring and support and adds sexual attraction.

I love love at first sight. It’s a wonderful catalyst to jump-start a character-driven romance. It complies with my no-cheating requirement in romance and ensures commitment even when intimacy occurs before the ceremony.

Intriguing post ! Thank you, Holly, for giving us a peek into the advantages and disadvantages of the ‘love at first sight’ trope.

Well, readers, shall we take a peek at her paranormal romance? Sounds like a plan!  😀

Great cover!  🙂

This is the blurb for The Eagle at Dawn:

Rachel’s brother uses her as collateral to settle a debt with an outlaw motorcycle gang. She flees to a local bar and pleads with a darkly handsome stranger to help her. His help results in homicide. When eagle shifter Diego’s vacation is interrupted by the innocent young woman he recognizes as his mate, he flees with her across national borders because she’s his and he’s not letting her go.

Having essentially swapped one captor for another, Rachel knows the dashing, sexy Spaniard is keeping secrets from her. He showers her with kindness and generosity in exchange for her obedience. Diego’s control over her and his secrets elicit her distrust and resentment.

When freedom beckons, Rachel answers its call; however, freedom brings hardship and indignity. Will she return to the controlling alpha male who stirs her blood or cling stubbornly to her freedom?

Here is an excerpt.

Rachel awoke to dark liquid eyes staring at her and the gentle stroke of fingers over her cheek and along her jaw. She gasped and drew back, initially confused. Memory slammed into place and she took another deep breath.

“What is it?” she asked, realizing the absence of engine noise and the stillness of the aircraft.

“We’ve arrived, mi encantadora.

She blinked and sat up, rolling her shoulders and stretching. Diego’s gaze sharpened and the small muscle at the base of his jaw clenched. His demeanor subtly changed from tender to ferocious and Rachel wondered what she’d done to anger him. As though realizing that he intimidated her, Diego pressed his full lips together in a thin line, closed his eyes in a long slow blink, and visibly relaxed his muscles.

He held out his hand and she took it, thinking he merely intended to help her up from the cot like the gentleman he claimed to be. However, he did not release her, but reeled her in so that her soft breasts pressed into his body and his heat easily penetrated her thin summer clothes. His other arm wrapped around her and clamped her against him. She inhaled again with sharp surprise at both the unexpected embrace and the surge of arousal that sparked low in her belly.

She swallowed, the sound audible, and blinked rapidly. “What’s going on?”

“Us,” he replied, his voice a husky murmur. Diego’s hand skimmed upward and cupped the back of her head, holding her in place and pressing her ear against his heart. The strong, steady beat thudded and calmed her nerves even as the enticing scent of him stirred her blood. She felt the soft waft of his breath over her hair and then the brush of his lips.

“Why did you kiss me?” she whispered.

“Because you’re not ready for more.”

Rachel gulped again. “What if I’m never ready for more?”

“You will be.”

Purchase Links:

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

Add it to Goodreads:   https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/46421105-the-eagle-at-dawn

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/46682405-the-eagle-at-dawn

♥♥♥ Ooh…love the tension! This looks like quite a romantic read! 

Thanks for stopping by with your fascinating guest post, Holly! Awesome to have you here! ♥

Author Bio

Holly Bargo lives with her husband on a southwest Ohio hobby farm with a menagerie of four-legged pets. Their two children are grown. Holly works full-time as a freelance writer and editor, and has published over 20 titles since 2014. She primarily writes fantasy and romance, often blending the two genres. Her latest release is The Eagle at Dawn, the fourth book in her Immortal Shifters series in which, yes, readers get to experience the effects of love at first sight. Holly enjoys hearing from and meeting readers. She will be at the 2019 Summer Book Fair in Springfield, Ohio. Contact her via the Hen House Publishing website.

 

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

Happy reading, everyone!🙂

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Filed under Authors, Blogging, Books, Event, Fiction, Guest Writer, Hope, Love, Message, Paranormal/Urban Fantasy, Readers, Relationships, Romance, Writers, Writing

Exclusive Interview with author Sierra N. Terry, plus a look at fantasy romance, BENEATH THE SURFACE!

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

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

Author Sierra N. Terry:  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…

Sierra:  I’m in the cleaning field, and yes, I’m good at it! And I definitely don’t like it! I’m hoping one day I will be able to focus on art and storytelling.

Marie: I know exactly what you mean! 🙂

So, tell us…what is your family like?

Sierra:  My family is great! My parents tolerate my weirdness and are supportive of all my ideas!

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?

Sierra:  We moved around a good bit so there isn’t just one I can describe. I think if I had to describe them as a whole, they were all decent enough.

Marie:  Okay.

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

Sierra:  Drawing was always my first passion and still is to this day. I’ll get back to reading to at some point in my life! Ha ha!

Marie:  (Laughs.)

And what is your greatest dream?

Sierra:  To live off of my work, and NOT only get 4 to 5 hours of sleep a day and work two jobs anymore!

Marie:  Sounds like a plan! 😉

Let’s try another question.

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

Sierra:  I’d like to be someone less anxious and more outgoing/fun to talk to. I guess what’s stopping me the most is my introvert personality!

Marie:  I can relate to that. Being an author has definitely gotten me out of my shell, but now and then I still have some challenging moments.

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

Sierra:  First? Probably someone from a cartoon like Ash from Pokémon or something!

Marie:  All right.

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

Sierra:  I would have to say it was when I had a weird cyst on my lower back that made it painful to sit or even lay down! My life has been fairly boring so a weird medical thing is the worst I got! Ha ha!

Marie:  Ouch… 😕

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

[Sierra 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?

Sierra:  I always had a dream to be a comic book writer and artist. I’ve pretty much wanted something in the creative field since forever! I definitely didn’t achieve that, and I guess it could be because I didn’t ever go to art school/get a degree in writing to even begin to qualify for a job like that. I did, however, start to put my art and stories out there more with my Sailorfrill Studio business, and going around to different conventions.

Marie:  Nice!

So, who is your role model, Sierra?

Sierra:  Definitely my mother! Nobody is so cool, understanding and open-minded as her.

Marie:  All right.

Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?

Sierra:  Not really? At least I don’t think so.

Marie:  And what is your deepest desire?

Sierra:  Not to struggle financially anymore would be great.

Marie:  I know, right? 😛

Let’s try a different question.

What is your greatest fear?

Sierra:  I’m ~slightly~ concerned I’m going to be dying alone in my car.

Marie:  Oh, no! I really don’t think that will be the case. You sound too awesome to end up alone, hon. 😉

Let’s do something else.

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

Sierra:

Water

Paper

Pencils

A lighter

And 50 years’ worth of tampons!

Marie:  (Laughs.) Okay.

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

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

Sierra:  Jonas is a simple guy with a strong sense of justice, which leads him to become a soldier and ultimately meet that mermaid who turned his life upside down!

Marie:  Intriguing…

And what are Jonas’s greatest strengths?

Sierra:  He’s loyal, kind and won’t let an injustice go ignored.

Marie:  Great! 😀

And his weaknesses?

Sierra:  Simpleminded, wears his heart on his sleeve and lost some self-confidence due to some romantic rejections in the past.

Marie:  I’m sure some of us can relate to that one…

Let’s try something fun, shall we?

What are his favorite foods?

Sierra:  Lemon flavored cake and steak with cheesy bacon potatoes!

Marie:  Nice!

How about another question?

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

Sierra:  Well, he has a special power that he ignored his whole life, but I don’t want to spoil the story!

Marie:  All right.

Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?

Sierra:  I’m hoping people will like him since he’s good without being perfect. He does do at least one thing in the story that I think a lot of people might be uncomfortable with, but again, I don’t want to spoil it!

Marie:  Makes sense to me… 😉

Now that we have a real taste of Jonas, 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 Beneath the Surface?

Sierra:  I wasn’t trying! I had just finished writing my first novel, The Longest Knight, and I was lying there in my bed, being happy I’m finished when my mind started talking about a mermaid story. I think my next thought was something like, “Nooooo! I have to write that now.”

Ha ha!

Marie:  (Chuckles.) It’s fascinating how the muse works, huh? 😀

Let’s try something else.

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

Sierra:  I’m a plotter! I have (sometimes detailed) guidelines I use before all the longhand writing starts. These guidelines leave room for new ideas too, though, and I can make little things up as I go. It keeps things fresh and fun, I think!

Marie:  Awesome!

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

Sierra:  I didn’t really have any issues with writing Beneath the Surface, really. I had much more to say in this one and I’m proud that it’s 450 pages! There’s not too much I will do differently next time (I have three more books to go), since I learned a lot from book 1 (The Longest Knight) and worked out all the kinks back then!

Marie:  Happy to hear it! 😀

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 Beneath the Surface appears to be… ♥

Here is the blurb:

On a seemingly normal night, Jonas, a kind-hearted knight, saves a beautiful young woman from a vicious attack. He quickly finds out the young woman is actually a mermaid and as she disappears into the water, Jonas vows to find her again, so taken by her mere presence. However, ever since they crossed paths Jonas began having strange, ominous dreams about her, making him want to see her again even more. What do these dreams mean and why is he having them all the time? These are just some of the questions Jonas seeks answers to, but all he really wants is a chance to make her his special lady.

The Four Kingdoms Series is a series of novels that are loosely based on one another. Most are romantic but not all, one is erotic but none of the others are quite as intense. Each story takes place in one of the four kingdoms but each individual novel can be read as a stand-alone story (it is highly recommended that you read the book one, The Longest Knight, first). Every story has its own strange uniqueness, and I hope you will stay with me until the very last one is released!

Here’s a peek at the story…

Jonas hears a scream ring out in the quiet night. First one he has heard of in a very long time. Every time he gets night patrol, like today, he always prays to the Four Gods that it’s a boring night. A lot never really happened in his ocean-side town and Jonas likes it that way.

Nonetheless, someone needs help and as a knight, he’s there to protect and serve so he must go investigate what the problem is.

He quietly jogs through the trees towards where the scream came from and as he drew closer to the spot, he can hear more people talking and grunting in agitation.

In a clearing in front of a large clear lake, Jonas spots the disturbance. Two men have gotten ahold of a young woman. One holds her on the ground and the other is trying to get a good grip on her legs to pry them apart. The man at her legs is largely unsuccessful since the woman is thrashing so hard under him, he can’t get a good grip.

“What are you doing?? Hurry up and get her legs open!!” the man holding her arms down yells at the other.

“Can’t you see I’m trying?! This bitch won’t quit!”

Suddenly one of the woman’s legs hits the man in the face and he topples backward, blood quickly staining his lips. Jonas is impressed, her legs are nice to look at and strong.

“Hey, you there!! Let her go!!” Jonas yells out as he reveals himself and rushes towards the scene.

The one man that was kicked is holding his nose in pain still, and the other isn’t doing a lot better. Jonas didn’t see how it happened, but suddenly, the woman’s thick hair is wrapped around the man’s head and now he’s screaming and trying desperately to get it off.

Instead of getting the hair off, Jonas knocks the man out with the hilt of his sword, so he will at least stop screaming and stop hurting everyone’s ears. The other man gets away in all the commotion, but Jonas is certain if he has that guy’s buddy in custody, then he can track the other one down later. Right now, he must tend to the woman and make sure she’s okay.

The woman’s hair untangles itself from the man’s head and returns to normal, but after watching it’s obvious it’s not normal hair.

He slowly kneels next to the woman, who is now panting softly on the ground.

“Hey, are you all right? Did they hurt you?” Jonas asks, placing a hand on her shoulder.

The woman lies there, not responding right away, but this gives Jonas a chance to look her over completely and realizes her beauty.

She’s slender with large hips and smooth, porcelain skin. Her hair is full of big, thick curls that would make any woman jealous. However, it appears to be multicolored, not something he has seen very often.

Jonas is amazed, he’d never seen such a color on a lady or anyone else. It’s mostly a bluish green then changes to a shade of purple at the tips. Even with this strange color, it’s still stunning. No, it’s because of its color that it’s stunning.

Her whole body looks like it’s glistening in the moonlight, even her clothes. She wears a short top that shows off her nicely toned stomach and her long skirt has just as long slits on both sides, leaving nothing to the imagination with her legs.

Jonas gulps.

Those legs are looking more and more tempting the longer he looks at them. He just wants to touch them, maybe rub them for a moment but after what he just saved her from, she probably wouldn’t appreciate that.

Suddenly, she appears to remember Jonas’s presence and the unconscious man, then bolts upright, shoving her body out of Jonas’s reach.

“It’s okay, miss! I won’t hurt you, I’m here to help!”

He tries to calm her, but she scrambles to her feet to run anyway. Her footing is off, her legs wobble and she begins to fall face first back to the ground.

Jonas rushes to her and catches the woman before she hits the ground. Her body is light and incredibly soft to touch. If she let him hold her longer, he’d gladly do it all night. With her so close to him, he can take in her amazing scent: honeydew mixed with the ocean breeze. She reminds him of the sea in the early morning and – good thing for him – he loves the sea.

“Please, don’t!” she finally says to him.

She stares up at him, terror in her soft eyes. Her pink colored soft eyes. There’s no doubt in his mind now, this woman can’t be human.

“I told you, I’m not going to hurt you! You’re safe. Are you feeling okay?”

Jonas feels he must ask that last question. She was doing just fine earlier, thrashing and kicking her legs at her attackers, but now she seems weak and tired like all her energy was drained at once. This beautiful woman is even shaking in his arms and Jonas has, at this moment, no other want but to calm her and make her feel safe again.

“No! Let me go! I need to be in the water!!” she yells at him, shaking her head.

Her hair brushes against his face and it feels like silk.

“The water? Okay, okay, I’ll put you in the lake.”

Jonas slips his other arm under her legs and thanks the Gods in his mind that he got a chance to touch them without appearing creepy.

Sounds intriguing! Can’t wait to find out what happens next. 😀

Purchase Links:

Universal Reader link:  https://books2read.com/u/bOGBG0

Series Link:  https://amzn.to/2XVQt3e

Add it to Goodreads or BookBub:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45274725-beneath-the-surface

https://www.bookbub.com/books/beneath-the-surface-the-four-kingdoms-series-book-2-by-sierra-n-terry

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

About Sierra N. Terry

Born and raised in Central Virginia, there was almost no chance Sierra could have grown up NOT being creative. Her mother was, and still is, highly creative with her drawings and poetry, and she always encouraged Sierra to pursue her work even if she didn’t always like the subject matter!

Sierra realized pretty young she loved to draw and read and despite all the encouragement she had, she somewhat put her creativity on the back-burner until a few years ago. No job ever interested her like art and storytelling did, so in her mid-20s she started her comic again and worked on it like a second job! Since then she has finished drawing the comic, wrote five fantasy novels, and more recently put all her works under the business name Sailorfrill Studio, as well as started selling at anime, book or comic conventions.

Books:

And, if you want to know how to connect with the fascinating Sierra N. Terry, here are some author links…

 

Once again, I want to thank Sierra N. Terry, the brilliant author of this fantasy romance, for stopping by! It was a pleasure to have you here! Readers, check out her work! ♥

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Exclusive Interview with author Isabelle Moss, plus a look at adult literary romance/fantasy, EROS AND THE MAGICIAN!

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

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

Author Isabelle Moss:  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…

Isabelle:  I am a Tantric Transformation and Empowerment Coach for individuals and couples. I love my work. I am very happy doing what I do and helping people live richer and fuller lives. I am also a writer, and am creative all round. I make art in my spare time.

Marie: Nice!

So, tell us…what is your family like?

Isabelle:  I am part of a huge family of women – I am one of five daughters, I have four daughters, and I am an aunt to five nieces. My daughters are lively, confident companions and we have loads of fun together. The smell of cake welcomes guests as does the chat around the kitchen table.

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?

Isabelle:  I moved and moved as a child. Every two years I had a new home, but finally we settled in an old stone walled cottage which is as romantic as any house could be. My stepfather was a fantastic gardener so the house greeted us with flowers and plants when we came and went.

Marie:  Lovely! 🙂

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

Isabelle:  I walk in the woods every day. I love being outside whatever the weather. I do yoga and pilates, and I make art. Collages are my thing at the moment. I also cook and garden. I adore rituals and celebrate life whenever I can. I have just made Beltane wreaths.

Cool!

And what is your greatest dream?

Isabelle:  My dream is that my book goes out into the world as a vehicle of love. I have three or four others to publish in the series. I think that I am living the dream already. It hasn’t always been so, but I am very happy with where my life is right now.

Marie:  Good! 😀

Let’s try another question.

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

Isabelle:  I don’t wish to be anybody than who I am right now, sitting here at my computer with the black bird in the garden and the sun coming in the window. Now is what I have.

Marie: Okay.

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

Isabelle:  My first love was gorgeous. I met him on a school trip to Russia and I remember walking in the Red Square in the snow, eating chocolate and my heart aching with the intensity of my feelings.

Marie:  (Sighs.) I love romance… ♥♥♥

Tell us something else. What’s the most terrible thing that ever happened to you?

Isabelle:  I feel grateful that life always changes with this question. I had a long and protracted divorce which wasn’t pleasant in any way.

Marie: Oh, no, sorry to hear that! 😥

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

[Isabelle 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?

Isabelle:  I did want four children and am lucky to have them. I remember wanting to be independent, but I imagined that would come earlier. I also wanted to travel and before I married, I worked for an airline and traveled all over the world.

Marie:  All right.

So, who is your role model, Isabelle?

Isabelle:  Do I have to have only one? That seems brutal, but I love the heroines from further back. As a teen I gorged myself on old movies and fell in love with Katherine Hepburn.

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

Isabelle:  No! I don’t know the people I dislike!

Marie:  And what is your deepest desire?

Isabelle:  To not be limited by fear.

Marie:  Sounds like a plan!

Let’s try a different question.

What is your greatest fear?

Isabelle:  That I will never truly fly like a bird.

Marie:  Okay…

Let’s do something else.

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

Isabelle:

  • I’d need a stack of magazines with glue and a scalpel to make pictures, paint and pencils
  • Purple ink and unlined notebooks
  • A carrot cake that never went away and always had a slice left in it
  • A crown and a pair of wings
  • Music, so that I could dance on the beach

Marie:  Nice!

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, the girl. Quite an interesting character. Can you tell us a little about her?

Isabelle:  She is in the throes of first love and is overwhelmed. Sometimes she is yes, other times she is no. There is a dance between her and the Magician. She is tempestuous and he is steady.

Marie:  And what are her greatest strengths?

Isabelle:  Her greatest strength is her vulnerability. She allows herself to feel everything and is at one with nature.

Marie:  Great! 😀

And her weaknesses?

Isabelle:  She is full of fear and taboos. She is so terrified that she will be consumed by the intensity of the love that she constantly rejects it.

Marie:  I’m sure some readers would be able to relate to that. Sometimes as humans, we run from the things we don’t fully understand.

Let’s try something fun, shall we?

What are her favorite foods?

Isabelle:  Cake, I imagine, and fruit.

Marie:  How about another question?

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

Isabelle:  She is a child of nature with an imagination to go along with it.

Marie:  All right.

Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?

Isabelle:  Some will like her, some won’t. It depends on what level the book speaks to them.

Marie:  Okay. Now that we have a real taste of the girl, 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 Eros and the Magician?

Isabelle:  It sprung from a deep longing inside me to be unconditionally loved in a romantic relationship.

Marie:  And there’s nothing wrong with wanting that! 😉

Let’s try something else.

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

Isabelle:  I am not a plotter. Margaret Atwood said there were two types of writers – plotters and kittens batting a ball of wool across the floor. I am a kitten.

Marie:  (Laughs.) I know just what you mean! I often don’t know where my writing projects are headed at first.

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

Isabelle:  This book flowed out of me. I started with one story one day, and then wrote another the next until the days merged and stories were written. I decided to self-publish. I’m not sure why, but it might be because I wanted everything inside my control. Next time I will leave a longer lead in! I didn’t fully realize how much there would be to do around the marketing. Next time I’ll give myself time.

Marie:  Oh, yes. Spreading the world about a book is challenging.

It was a such a pleasure having you here on the I Love Romance Blog! Thank you for visiting!

And how apropos is that, considering what a great story Eros and the Magician appears to be… ♥

Here is the blurb:

Eros and the Magician is an erotic love story which unfolds in verse. It is set in lush and dreamy landscapes while the girl and the Magician lead us through the yes-no-yes at the heart of our most intimate love affairs. It is a story of vulnerability and the risk we all need to take to be truly loved. The girl and the Magician could be humans, immortals, Gods – we do not know. The story blends eroticism with complex and nuanced personal development.

Release Date: May 4, 2019

Genre: Erotic Romance, Adult Literary Romance, Poetry, Fantasy

Here’s a peek at the story…

Prophecy

 

I am wearing my purple dress,

long to the ground,

heavy rose quartz rests on my chest.

I am walking towards you,

limber, graceful, a Goddess –

a woman who belongs to herself.

I am wearing my purple dress,

long to the ground,

beribboned amethyst adorns my neck.

I am walking towards you,

ripped from the ground –

I am screaming and tearing my hair.

I am dressed in my skin,

bruised and battered,

but resplendent in glory.

I am walking towards you.

You gather me in,

home at last, you say.

 

I

 

The sun sends tendrils of light through

the canopy of leaves.

The song birds chatter,

the crows chase the hawk into the hedgerow.

The Magician sits on the ground,

his back against the trunk of the oak tree,

soaking up its wealth of knowing.

The air smells of resin and freshness.

The girl hums a tune,

starts to dance,

feet on the grass,

dappled with light;

removes her clothing

piece by piece,

as she does truths fall like fruit from her mouth.

When she is naked

she kneels in front of him,

slices the fruit, feeds it to him.

He tastes the sweetness of the fruit,

the saltiness of her fingers:

his c*** thrums,

he hears the pulse of his heart.

Sounds intriguing and sexy! Can’t wait to find out what happens. 😀

Purchase Links:

Universal Reader link:  https://books2read.com/u/ba28Jx

Add it to Goodreads:   https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45415613-eros-and-the-magician

What are people saying about Eros and the Magician?

“He’s the Magician, but she is holding the love for them in her heart.” – Emily

“Riveting to watch the dance between the girl and the Magician.” – Christina

“Isabelle Moss with her vivid, skillful, playful, whimsical, yet deep and heart and gut-wrenching writing creates a timeless piece of a magic puzzle. I absolutely adore it!

Every time I read a few pieces, I just melt into the story and feel like I am part of it. This rich piece is equally highly entertaining for your fairy loving inner child and for your dark shadow within.” – Inna August (Love, Sex and Relationship Transformation coach)

“These are like I have never read before. Sensual and full.

Your voice

Your vision

Your senses

So good.” – Gina

Luxurious and succulent – Isabelle Moss writes timeless poetry, you cannot help but feel the allure of her intimate heart that seems to link back to an era of time we remember on a soul level. She draws from the depths of life and portrays all the mysteries of love and longing in her work, and it’s provocative! She makes me question all the roles and empowers me to find my own voice in the dance of love. And this is just the beginning, her words seem to spill forth, I know there will be so much more poetry in the future! And I’m excited to read it!” – Lady D, Amazon

Unique, original, dazzling…This tells a story that is spell-binding, in that the reader is quickly bound up in a spell of enchanted words. There is a magic to this story of transformations told from a female point of view. The images are striking and vivid and sensual in this story that reminds me of “Psyche and Eros”. A good Jungian could explore these images and themes for quite a while, but it is a modern story about the need to surrender to the deepest desires of the heart.” – Jim Malloy, Amazon

Riveting, magical, accessible poetry full of feeling and mystery. Moss writes clearly and lyrically about the chemistry underlying the mutual seduction between the Magician and the girl, and captures the power dance between them beautifully. She creates a vivid natural world unto itself, a welcome, exotic and wild escape from our everyday environment. Highly recommend!” – Meg Escobosa, Amazon

We’ll be sure to get a copy of this adult literary romance with erotic poetry and fantasy! ♥♥♥

About Isabelle Moss

Isabelle Moss is a lover of fairytales and myths and lives in a land that is steeped in them. She writes poetry, short stories and novels. She is lucky enough to live beside ancient woodland, in Scotland, where she walks her dog, Oona. She reads and writes everywhere she goes and is a deep romantic never having lost her belief in the redemptive power of love. She has a weakness for afternoon tea and cake which she indulges in when her children come home.  She is a Tantra Coach and loves her work helping couples create more connected relationships. Eros and the Magician is the first in a series of three books and she is looking forward to narrating them as audio books in the near future.

Book:

 

 

 

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

 

Once again, I want to thank Isabelle Moss, the brilliant author of this steamy literary fantasy romance, for stopping by! It was a pleasure to have you here! Readers, check out her work! ♥

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A Character Interview with Miranda from THE END OF HATRED plus a conversation with author Rebecca Hefner!

Today, we’re doing something a little different. If you remember, we interviewed Amber Daulton’s character in March, and it was so fun that I thought we may as well make an occasional habit of it. I had the pleasure of meeting Rebecca Hefner, the author of The End of Hatred, on my author journey and I asked if I could borrow a character, Slayer Princess Miranda, from the book. We’ll get a chance to talk to Rebecca in a bit, but now we have on the stage…Miranda!

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

Character Miranda:  Thank you for the invite, Marie.

Marie:  It’s my pleasure!

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

Miranda:  Sure.

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

Miranda:  Well, my current occupation is training to kill the Dark Lord Crimeous. He kidnapped my mother a thousand years ago, tortured and murdered her, and thrust the Slayers into an endless war with the Vampyres. So, yeah, I want him gone from Etherya’s Earth and I won’t stop until every memory of him is vanquished.

Marie:  All right.

So, tell us…what is your family like?

Miranda:  My mother, Rina, was a bright light in our world. She was taken when I was eight-years old and I remember how she would look at me with her olive-green eyes, filled with so much love. My father, King Marsias, was distraught at her abduction and never recovered.  I think he wants to love me, but it’s hard for him. Everyone says I’m the spitting image of Mother, so I think he sees her when he looks at me. Thankfully, my cousin Kenden is my rock and my confidante.  I love him more than anything in the world. He’s the commander of our army and has taught me to fight from a young age. He’s made me into the warrior I am today and has always loved me, even when I’m being a pain in the ass. Which he says is pretty much always.

Marie:  (Chuckles.)

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

Miranda:  I grew up in the Slayer castle, on the main Slayer compound of Uteria. It seems so magical and mystical, and I guess it is, but it’s also always seemed so cold to me. Perhaps because my father longs for Mother so much. His grief seems to permeate every room of the castle. But I do love Uteria and our satellite compound of Restia. I spend a lot of my time working on improving the parks and outdoor spaces. It’s important to me that my people have a beautiful world to live in and I also want to encourage the children of my kingdom to play outside. Human children stay indoors too much, with their video games and social media, and I want Slayer children to enjoy the sunny days we have on Etherya’s Earth. We’re safe in the sun since the Vampyres can only hunt us at night, thank God.

Marie:  Okay.

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

Miranda:  I’m a huge heavy metal fan. If you come between me and my iPod when I’m working out, you’re probably toast. I love jogging and sparring with Kenden. I have to keep my warrior skills sharp if I’m going to beat Crimeous!

Marie:  So, what is your greatest dream?

Miranda: (Sighs wistfully.) For my people to live in peace. We’ve been stuck in an endless war for a thousand years. The Vampyres raid us constantly and now Crimeous’ Deamons are growing stronger. All I want is to wake up one day and have a world where my people can thrive, without the threat of war and death. I’m determined to make it happen.

Marie:  I see…

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

Miranda:  I’ve been groomed to be queen since I was born. I’ll take the throne one day, but for now I’m content to let my father rule. I’m the rightful heir, since I have my grandfather Valktor’s blood, but father does a great job.  Although, once I kill Crimeous, I intend to claim my crown. I’m sure my father will support me in that. Of course, he will…

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

Who was your first love?

Miranda:  I haven’t actually been in love yet. I’ve had a few lovers. The Slayer traditions are extremely outdated. Young Slayer women are taught to save their virginity for marriage. I’ve always thought that incredibly sexist, as Slayer men are expected to sow their oats before getting married. I’ve never given a fig for any rule that some old curmudgeon decreed centuries before the Awakening, so I decided early on that if I felt comfortable with a man and cared for him, I would sleep with him. Sam was the sweet boy I dated in the first century. He was a bit timid and quite innocent in his avowals of love for me. Then there was Madu, and Ergon after him. They were both badasses who liked heavy metal too. I probably only dated them because it infuriated my father. After that, there was a long break with no dating and much training. Around the eighth century I dated  a soldier named Goran. Sadly, he was abducted in one of the Vampyre raids, never to be seen again.

There isn’t much time for love when you’re protecting your people. I wonder if I’ll ever experience it. I’m not sure I will…

Marie:  Well, I think it’s never too late.

(Sighs.) I love romance…

(Clears throat after a few moments). So, ah, not to be a downer, but I do have a pretty deep question next.

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

Miranda:  I would say my mother being kidnapped but, honestly, every time there’s a Vampyre raid and we lose more soldiers, I feel it down in my gut. I’m so tired of the constant fighting. We have to do better. Every soldier’s death is a weight on my soul and each one hurts so fiercely.

Marie:  😥 I can only imagine. That’s rough…

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

[Miranda 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?

Miranda:  Mother was taken when I was still so young. I think I’ve always had the same dream; to help create a world where my people live in peace. If I can do that, I’ll be happy.

Marie:  How admirable! 😀

Who is your role model, Miranda?

Miranda:  Wow. That’s a tough one. Being a traditional society, women are taught to be reticent and silent. I’ve fought to break that and to level our society so that women are seen as equals. I don’t remember much about Mother, but I know that she challenged Father at every turn. So, I guess you could say that I aspire to live up to her and I definitely share her passion for helping our people.

Marie:  Cool!

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

Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?

Miranda:  My father is insistent on cementing a marriage between me and Kalil. He’s descended from a very old line of Slayer aristocrats and Father believes he’d make an excellent husband. I keep telling him that he should marry him, then.  (Shrugs.) Anyway, I guess I like Kalil, but he drives me a bit nuts. First of all, he’s boring as hell. Sorry, but I said it. Second, he’s a bit snobbish. There’s an inherent classism that runs through our people and, more often than not, aristocrats think they’re better than laborers and servants. That’s just not true. A person can’t control who their parents are or what bloodline they have. I believe that all people are equal and have tried hard to instill this in our society. I haven’t quite succeeded yet, but I’ll never give up the fight!

Marie:  Go, girl! 😉

Let’s try another question.

What is your deepest desire?

Miranda:  Again, not to be repetitive, but my people need to be free from war. It’s all I’m focused on right now. Once that happens, I can move on and focus on myself.

Marie:  What about your greatest fear?

Miranda:  That the Slayers will be eradicated, either by the Vampyres or the Deamons. It’s terrifying and I’m at the point where I realize we need to change tactics or that won’t happen. So, I’m leading the charge and if my father, or anyone else, doesn’t like it, I don’t give a damn.

Marie: Can’t blame you there…

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

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

(Waves goodbye to her guest.)

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

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

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

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

Rebecca:  Miranda is an absolute badass. She’s determined to right the wrongs committed by her grandfather centuries ago and won’t stop until she brings peace to her people. Her determination is amazing and I’d like to be her when I grow up!

Marie:  Awesome!

What are your character’s greatest strengths?

Rebecca:  Her love for her people. Her ability to see the bigger picture, even through the hatred. Her ability to love, even when others have a hard time loving her back. I see that with her father and it’s very heartbreaking.

Marie:  And your character’s greatest weakness?

Rebecca:  Miranda is stubborn, sometimes to her benefit and sometimes to her detriment. She’s also quite impulsive and is working on taking deep breaths so she doesn’t fly off the handle. I think it’s half-working.

Marie:  (Laughs.)

Let’s try something fun, shall we?

What are some of Miranda’s favorite foods?

Rebecca:  She loves seafood. The castle’s housekeeper, Jana, is a lovely woman who makes steamed halibut for Miranda at least once a week, knowing it’s her favorite!

Marie:  Yum!

How about another question?

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

Rebecca: Her fearlessness. I’ve never met anyone as strong and sure as Miranda. She was born with a sense of inner-belief and confidence, and I know it will aid her in saving her people.

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

Rebecca:  I think readers will love her! She’s so strong and kick-ass, but down to earth as well. She loves heavy metal and has a great, snarky sense of humor. Her strength is admirable and we all can see a bit of ourselves in her faults.

Marie:  I’m sure they will adore her!

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

What first gave you the idea for The End of Hatred?

Rebecca:  This is the first book in the series and it’s the story of two age-old enemies aligning to combat a common foe. So, ending the hatred seemed on point!

Marie:  Nice!

Isn’t it fascinating how the muse works? 😀

Let’s try something else.

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

Rebecca:  I sit down and write out a broad storyline, as well as any scenes that have appeared in my head. Then, I begin to write. The characters always take me to a much better place than I ever could’ve imagined. It’s as if they live in my imagination!

Marie:  (Nods.) I think sometimes our characters know best. 😉

How about one last question?

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

Rebecca:  I decided to self-publish because I felt that was the right path for me. I probably have a much different path than many others. I was a successful medical device sales rep in Corporate America for twelve years. I only left recently to pursue writing full-time. I’ve been writing these stories for decades so, once I decided to publish them, I didn’t want to wait another year or two to wade through submissions, et cetera. I also self-published because I wanted to retain creative control of my stories.

With that being said, I hired an amazing editor at NY Book Editors and, if any author is considering self-publishing, it is imperative they hire a professional editor. It’s respectful to your readers and they will appreciate your books even more.

There are many advantages to self-publishing and to traditional publishing, and every author has to figure out which one will work best for them.

Marie:  So true! 😉

Well, it was a such a pleasure having you here on the I Love Romance Blog! And how apropos is that, considering what a great story The End of Hatred appears to be.

Readers, you will just have to pick up a copy of this paranormal romance by Rebecca Hefner, a very talented author! :)

Here is the blurb for The End of Hatred, book one of Etherya’s Earth Series:

These are dangerous times on Etherya’s Earth…

Slayer Princess Miranda, heir to the throne, has hated the Vampyres for a thousand years. Since the Awakening, she’s fought to protect her people, choosing to be a warrior more than a royal. When a female Vampyre washes up on the shore of her compound’s riverbank, she seizes the moment to take the offensive.

Sathan, King of the Vampyres, distraught at his sister’s disappearance and captivity, agrees to travel with Miranda to resurrect the Blade of Pestilence, also hoping to change his people’s state of endless war. Although the woman hates him due to the constant raids on her compound for the Slayers’ life-giving blood, he can’t help but admire the stubborn and strong princess.

As their journey progresses, both begin to understand that they are aligned in their hatred of Crimeous, leader of the Deamons, as well as their hope for peace between the Slayers and Vampyres. Determined to fight their growing attraction, they forge a tentative truce. But old wounds run deep and trust is scarce. Their faith in each other must remain strong or all will be lost…

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

Latimus pulled up to the barrier that surrounded the compound. As the three brothers exited the black Hummer, he addressed Sathan. “Be careful. We’re here if you need us.”

Sathan nodded and walked to the wall. The stones were cool against his palm under the dark sky and silver moonlight. The force-field that Etherya had implemented around the wall vibrated against his hand. Pushing against the rocks, they swung open and he walked through.

About twenty feet away he saw a black SUV, the headlights bright. He walked slowly toward the car.

“That’s far enough,” a female voice said.

“Where’s my sister?”

“She’s being held in a safe place not far from here.”

The woman walked forward and he studied her in what little light he had. Silky, raven-black hair fell straight to her shoulders. Camouflage pants were tucked over black army boots and she wore a black tank top. Approaching him, he noticed how small she was. Probably about a foot shorter than his six-foot, eight-inch frame.

She stopped about two feet in front of him and lifted her chin, training her gaze on his. He felt a sharp clenching sensation in his solar plexus when he saw her irises. Like wet leaves that glistened on the tree after a rainy day, they were the deepest green he had ever seen.

“You have dragged me here,” he said, regaining his composure. “What do I have to do to get her back?”

“Do you know who I am?” she asked. Her voice was clear and firm without a trace of fear.

“The Slayer Princess Miranda,” he said.

She nodded and looked down at the grass for a moment. He wondered if she was more nervous than she appeared. Looking back up at him, she said, “I have no wish to hurt your sister. I wish to use her to ask you to help me.”

“Force me to help you,” he said, bitterness lacing his tone.

“If you like,” she said with a deferential shrug of her shoulders. “Our people have been at war for a thousand years. We are locked in a stalemate that neither side seems to be able to win. I have come to the conclusion that we need to change our tactics.”

“I’m listening.”

She inhaled a deep breath before continuing. “I’ve grown weary of fighting your people. I wish to form a temporary truce with you so that I can accomplish something of great importance.”

“Right,” he said, his tone suggesting that he trusted her about as far as he could throw her. “And what is it you need from me?”

“As the first-born descendants of Valktor and Markdor, our shared blood stream could release the Blade of Pestilence. Once I have it, I will use it to kill Crimeous and I will return your sister to you.”

Sathan blinked a few times, unsure he’d heard her correctly, and then he laughed incredulously. “Wait, are you serious?”

She stood still and mute, her chin thrust up in the air, waiting for his response.

“You want me to travel to the Cave of the Sacred Prophecy with you, release the Blade of Pestilence and then just let you go on your merry way after you’ve kidnapped my sister?”

“Yes,” she said, as if his statement hadn’t been dripping with sarcasm. “Except that I didn’t kidnap your sister. She washed up on the shore of our riverbank. I actually employed our doctor in nursing her back to health. You’re welcome, by the way.”

What a patronizing, cocky little bitch, Sathan thought. Although he had to admire how she stood her ground against him. His physical dominance over her alone should’ve had her cowering. He tested her will by taking a step forward, closing the distance between them. She stood firm, tilting her chin up even more to hold his gaze, and reluctant admiration for her courage coursed through him.

“You want me to thank you for keeping alive a hostage that you’re now using to negotiate with me?”

“It would be nice,” she said flippantly, “but I won’t hold my breath. So, what’s it going to be?

She stared up at him expectantly, as if she hadn’t just asked him to trek over four-hundred miles with her to rescue a weapon from an ancient prophecy.

“No. Now give me my sister. I don’t know what game you’re trying to play, but you’re obviously physically outmatched here. I’ll give you five seconds to hand her over or—”

A sharp pain stabbed in his chest and he gasped. Lowering his gaze to the left side of his chest, he realized that the woman had stabbed him with some sort of contraption.

“It’s a mini-blade-loaded-eight-shooter, you fucking bastard,” she said, spittle flying from between her clenched teeth as she pushed the contraption further into his chest. “The blade on the top of the barrel will only hurt, since you fuckers seem to heal like some goddamn miracle. But if I pull the trigger it will deploy eight tiny bullets right into your black fucking heart. Don’t make me do it.”

Pain coursed through him, as well as a healthy dose of anger. And yet, as he looked down on this tiny she-devil of a woman, he felt a jolt of respect. She had gotten the upper hand on him. Bracing himself, he pushed his chest further into the blade. An intense pleasure ran through him when her eyes widened in surprise.

“Go ahead,” he said, daring her. “Shoot me, princess. Let’s see if you have the courage.”

Tiny nostrils flared as she struggled to compose herself. Moments stretched by in silence as they stood locked in a dance of wills. “Well?” he jibed. “Haven’t you the bravery to kill me?”

Stepping back, she pulled the blade from his chest but kept the weapon aimed at his heart; her finger on the trigger. “Just like a stupid man,” she said, disgust lacing her voice. “Killing someone does not indicate courage or bravery. It’s the will to find a peaceful solution that shows one’s true strength.”

Huh. He didn’t expect that one. Not from the princess of the people who were his sworn enemy. He lifted his hand to put pressure on his bleeding wound. “Releasing the Blade of Pestilence will not find you peace. It will lead to more war if you wish to use it to kill Crimeous.”

“Perhaps,” she said. “But like I said, our tactics have to change. If you help me release the Blade, I promise I will return your sister to Astaria unharmed.”

He realized he believed her. Although she was a Slayer and had just stabbed him in the chest, she betrayed a firm genuineness. “And what about your father? The raids we hold against your people? Surely you cannot ask me to journey with you to the Cave, knowing my army will attack your people in another fortnight.”

Her face contorted into a withering scowl. “Yes, of course. How terrible of me to deny you the sport of hunting and killing my people.”

Remembering his earlier visit to the dungeon, he shook his head. “And now look who’s stupid.”

“What does that mean?” she asked.

Choosing not to answer her, he continued. “We’re almost out of rations from our last raid. If we don’t obtain more Slayer blood over the next fortnight, my people will begin to starve. Ruler to ruler, what would you have me do?”

“My cousin, our army commander, has agreed to supply your compound with blood from the injured soldiers we currently have in our infirmary. He will bank it for you daily and deliver it to this spot while we travel to the Cave.”

“Well, you’ve just got it all figured out, don’t you?” he asked sarcastically.

“It’s better than continuing this madness that’s been going on for centuries, isn’t it?” she asked, her tone just as biting. “Surely you can agree that it can’t hurt to employ new tactics in this age-old war. I mean, ruler to ruler, right?” She placed her free hand on her hip and her eyebrows jutted up as she waited for him to answer. Snarky little minx, this one was.

“Even if I agreed to your plan, how could I guarantee that my sister would be safe? For all I know, you could have your guards murder her as soon as we leave on our journey.”

“You’ll just have to trust me, I guess.”

“Says the woman holding the eight-shooter to my chest.”

Ever so slowly she lowered the weapon to her side. “I don’t want to hurt her. I’m sure you understand that if you hurt me, she will be immediately killed. I am trusting you not to harm me until I have the Blade in my possession. After that, once you return to your compound and I return to mine, we can assess how cooperative we’ve been toward each other and chart a course forward.”

And just like that, Sathan thought, the world had gone insane. The Slayer princess was standing in front of him, asking for a truce so that they could work together to rescue the centuries-old blade that her grandfather used to kill his parents. Fucking insane.

But what was even more insane was that he was considering it. After all, he had become frustrated with the current state of events as well. This cycle of endless war and destruction had them on a constant loop with no end in sight. What if he could actually work with the princess to change the course of history?

“Your father is on board with this plan?” he asked.

“Yes.”

Studying her, he narrowed his eyes. “I am intrigued by your proposal, but I need to discuss it with my brothers. If we are going to move forward with this, I would ask that you turn my sister over to me and trust that I will keep my word. How am I supposed to trust you if you do not trust me in return?”

“Good try, but no fucking way,” she said, shaking her head. “This trust thing is going to go one way and one way only. You’ll trust me to keep her alive and you’ll earn my trust by helping me.”

“She is an inexperienced female not used to the world outside our walls. I worry for her health—”

“She’s doing just fine. All you men think that we women just sit around waiting for you to let us live our lives. Your sister is strong and has already threatened to kill me about a hundred times. She’s got more spirit than I’ve seen in half our soldiers. I don’t wish to hurt her and I won’t as long as you help me.”

His heart warmed at the thought of Arderin putting up such a brave fight against her captor. “I need twenty-four hours to discuss with my brothers. I will meet you back here then.”

“I want an answer now—”

“No,” he said, lowering his hand from his now-mended chest. Self-healing abilities really were amazing. “The fact that I’m even considering your plan is making me doubt my sanity. I need to discuss with my brothers, who are my closest advisors. If you can’t grant me that, then we are at an impasse.”

“Fine. I’ll give you until sunset tomorrow. I’ll be here. Don’t be late.”

With one last look at the impertinent little princess, he turned and exited through the wall. His brothers were going to think he’d gone mad for even considering this. Of that, he was sure.

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

Purchase Links:

Universal Reader link:  https://books2read.com/u/ba2el2

Add it to your Goodreads or BookBub bookshelf:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42895210-the-end-of-hatred

https://www.bookbub.com/books/the-end-of-hatred-etherya-s-earth-book-1-by-rebecca-hefner

Link to the series on Amazon:  https://amzn.to/2XxJyN7

What are people saying about The End of Hatred?

Absolutely one of the most interesting, well written, intriguing romance books that i’ve read in a long time. I’ve already ordered book 2. Quirky twists. Unexpected developments with surprisingly believable characters. Can’t believe that this is Rebecca’s first book! I await many more!!!” – Judy H. Eubanks, Amazon

This book has everything you want in an epic novel. Great love stories, battles. The history of all three immortal races, especially between the Vampyres and Slayers is very unique. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of this series.” – Jolyane Justice, Amazon

New favorite series! I loved this book. The story had me on the edge of my seat the whole read. There was so much action as well as great lead characters. The romance and character development between Sathan and Miranda was fun too! I cannot wait to read the second book!” – Sonya Genesius, Amazon

 

We’ll be sure to get a copy of this paranormal/fantasy romance! ♥

About Rebecca Hefner

Rebecca Hefner grew up in Western NC and now calls the Hudson River of NYC home. From a very young age she used to sneak into her mother’s bedroom and raid the bookshelf, falling in love with the stories of Judith McNaught, Sandra Brown and Nora Roberts. Years later that love of a good romance, with lots of great characters and conflicts, has extended to her other favorite authors such as J.R. Ward and Lisa Kleypas. Also a huge Game of Thrones and Star Wars fan, she loves an epic fantasy and a surprise twist (Luke, he IS your father).

Rebecca published her first book in November of 2018. Before that, she had an extensive twelve-year medical device sales career, where she fought to shatter the glass ceiling in a Corporate America world dominated by men. After saving up for years, she left her established career to follow the long, winding and scary path of becoming a full-time author. Due to her experience, you’ll find her books filled with strong, smart heroines on a personal journey to better themselves and fight sexism and misogyny at every turn. She would be thrilled to hear from fans any time at rebecca@rebeccahefner.com.

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

Website:  https://www.rebeccahefner.com/

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

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/RebHefnerAuthor

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

Amazon Author Page:  http://author.to/RebeccaHefner

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18637390.Rebecca_Hefner

BookBub:  https://www.bookbub.com/authors/rebecca-hefner

Newsletter Sign-Up:  https://www.rebeccahefner.com/#news

 

Once again, I want to thank both of our guests, Miranda, a female character from The End of Hatred, and Rebecca Hefner, the brilliant author of the book, for stopping by! It was a pleasure to have you here! 😀

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Filed under Authors, Book News, Books, Character Interview, characters, Event, Fantasy, Fiction, Guest Writer, Interview, Paranormal/Urban Fantasy, Readers, Romance, Writers, Writing

Exclusive Interview with author Kathryn Troy, plus a look at time travel/fantasy romance, CURSE OF THE AMBER!

Hi, readers! I am pleased to announce a very special post today on ILRB. We’re doing something a little different. This is our eleventh 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 multi-genre author. Please join me in welcoming Kathryn Troy to ILRB! 🙂

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

Author Kathryn Troy:  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…

Kathryn:  My day job is as a professional historian and adjunct professor. I’m also trained as a pastry chef. I love genre fiction, and I love writing genre fiction – I use up all my free time doing it.

Marie: Nice!

So, tell us…what is your family like?

Kathryn:  I have a loving husband and two cute kids – one boy and one girl.

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?

Kathryn:  Like a full house – I lived with my parents, my grandparents, two siblings, and a rotation of cousins and aunts and uncles.

Marie:  Wow…I thought five people crammed under one roof was crowded! (Laughs.) But I’m sure you’re all still close-knit.

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

Kathryn:  I think of writing as my hobby, since I find time to do it rather than clocking in for it, although I probably spend more hours writing each week than I do on anything else. Aside from that, I enjoy traveling as far and as often as possible. Favorites so far are France, Germany, and Hawaii. Next up: China.

Marie:  Cool!

And what is your greatest dream?

Kathryn:  To fill my passport up with stamps and need a second book.

Marie:  Sounds like a plan! 😉

Let’s try another question.

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

Kathryn:  My first love is my still love – my husband Andy. We met as college freshmen, have been together 17 years, and are about to celebrate 13 years of marriage.

Marie:  Yay! 😀 Congratulations!

(Sighs.) I love romance…

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

[Kathryn 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?

Kathryn:  I have no idea what my childhood dream was – I changed my mind too often. But I’m a fairly content person. My only aspirations at the moment are to see more of this planet.

Marie:  That I can understand! 😀 I’d like to do more traveling as well…

So, who is your role model, Kathryn?

Kathryn:  Xena Warrior Princess. I’m not joking.

Marie:  All right.

Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?

Kathryn:  I can’t answer that. What if they read this?

Marie:  (Chuckles.)

And what is your deepest desire?

Kathryn:  Can I get a clone that does the dishes just the way I like them done? If it could fold laundry too, that’d be great. Really, I just need the maid from The Jetsons.

Marie:  (Covers her ears.) No…now I’ll have that theme playing in my head the rest of the day! (Laughs.)

Let’s try a different question.

What is your greatest fear?

Kathryn:  That my clone will be prettier than me. Just kidding! 😉

My biggest fear is probably that my kids will grow up in a post-Columbine, post-Newtown, post-Stoneman school system that did nothing to keep them safe.

Marie:  I agree. The situation is rather terrifying…

Let’s do something else.

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

Kathryn:

A lifetime supply of bug-killer.

Toothpaste

Deodorant

2-ply toilet paper

The Infinity Gauntlet

Marie:  Okay.

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, Asenath Hayes. Quite an interesting character. Can you tell us a little about her?

Kathryn:  Asenath Hayes is a young archaeologist, orphaned at a young age and fairly independent, even if she’s a little dysfunctional.

Marie:  And what are Asenath’s greatest strengths?

Kathryn:  She’s intelligent and rational, but also very generous with others.

Marie:  Great! 😀

And her weaknesses?

Kathryn:  She’s a generally anxious person, grappling with some not-so-great life choices.

Marie:  I’m sure some of us can relate to that…

Let’s try something fun, shall we?

What are her favorite foods?

Kathryn:  Anything her roommate Ravi makes – including pork vindaloo and butter chicken.

Marie:  Nice!

How about another question?

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

Kathryn:  She doesn’t realize what a good friend she is to others, or how self-sacrificing she is for those she cares about.

Marie:  How admirable!

Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?

Kathryn:  She’s flawed, sure, but I don’t give people any real reason to dislike her.

Marie:  Great!

Now that we have a real taste of Asenath, 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 Curse of the Amber?

Kathryn:  I was reading Anne Rice’s The Mummy, and I felt that some of the storytelling elements were a bit flat. I love the concept of man-out-of-time stories, but I’m not always satisfied by them. I wanted to do something that would be satisfying, unique, and a bit on the darker side.

Marie:  Cool!

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

Let’s try something else.

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

Kathryn:  I plot things out, even if it’s just mentally, getting all the major plot points in order and answering some questions of internal logic. I like to know the trajectory, and then go back for the details and polish later. I also did a lot of research for this book, but like I said, I’m a professional historian. I could’ve written a book about bog bodies and ancient Egypt with the amount of reading I did. I chose to write fiction instead.

Marie:  Awesome!

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

Kathryn:  It’s hard to find the right balance between something that is new, something fresh and original, and something that is clearly categorized and defined. If an agent or editor can’t easily peg the book as belonging to one genre or another, they can’t sell it, no matter how good your prose is. It can be hard to be mindful of the publishing market and marketing strategies while also creating a story. But it’s all about perspective. I’d rather write stories that I want to read, and worry about who else likes it later. It takes away some of the stress of writing to serve a particular audience or literary trend, and the end product tends to be better as a result.

Marie:  I agree!

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 Curse of the Amber appears to be… ♥

Here is the blurb:

A curse, a resurrection, and a centuries old witch hell bent on revenge.

Quintus is a dutiful son and soldier, sent to Britannia to improve his marriage prospects and ensure the Druids never rise again. Roman soldiers destroyed the last Druid stronghold in a battle of blood and fire. So, he never expects to be sacrificed to their sacred bog, trapped forever by the gods below.

Two thousand years later, Asenath Hayes discovers the most well-preserved body in history. And the last thing she needs is for him to wake up.

As the young archaeologist delves into Druidic rituals to grasp why Quintus was offered to a Welsh bog and then resurrected, she is forced to complete her research with the “missing” body, dodge her ex-lover and mentor with his own agenda, and keep her gorgeous new houseguest under wraps.

But, smitten with her as he seems, Quintus says he wants to go home.

Asenath is drawn to Quintus by the secrets they share, even if it scares her. As Asenath is pulled deeper into the mysteries of the bog, she must risk everything to keep him from hell’s cold grasp as she uncovers forbidden rites, awakened deities, and an attraction that transcends the ages.

Here’s a peek at the story…

ASENATH

Chapter 1

 

The sun seems to have forgotten Wales. I didn’t think there was any place on Earth that could make me long to be in Egypt again, but I couldn’t escape the memories that flooded me. I shivered in the absence of the Valley’s merciless heat, where for summers on end its oppressive dryness sucked the life out of my lips and baked my skin into hardened, sand-beaten clay. That dryness had followed Ramesses, Amenhotep, Aken-aten, and his son beyond the world’s suffering down to their resting place, and kept the divine kings ready in the dark, empty stillness.

But the day’s oppression had always faded with the sun. The perfection of those nights on the Eastern Bank, at our host Hani’s home — that was what I missed. Invigorated by the fresh, life-giving breeze off the Nile’s surface and snuggled between my parents under thin woven blankets was a warmth I knew I would never feel again. The cold and damp of Britain, once the stronghold of the Druids, was relentless. The gnawing feeling at the pit of my stomach grew, and the thought I’d pushed away more than once made itself more insistent.

This was a mistake. I shouldn’t be here.

My fingertips numbed to the statuette in my hand, a solid representation of the wet chill in the air. Its faceless form was as alien to me as the bog in which I crouched. The shape of the stone fetish was at least interesting, a long, slender column with a severe “V” etched into it. It held more promise than the dozens of thin rings fashioned out of iron, bronze, and even gold, heaped together in a tangle, the clay pottery, now in shards, and scraps of linen that appeared to be tossed desperately into the bog as a last-ditch effort to avoid Roman destruction. But I couldn’t enjoy it for what it was. It was inscrutable, too disconnected from anything familiar. Its primitive, obscure expression reminded me of my own cold thoughts, and as I squeezed the chilled stone in my hand, I doubted if I would discover anything that had once been warm — made of flesh and blood. We were as deep down as the famous bog bodies had been, more so in certain places, and still we had nothing, or rather no one, to show for it.

I lifted my head, trying to shake off my melancholy and averting my eyes from the stone carving that would not reveal its secrets to me. I was too low down to inhale even a whiff of air that wasn’t saturated with the grassy pungency of the bog wall. From my vantage point, huddled low in a deep, man-hewn pit, the sodden depression of the bog appeared even more overgrown on all sides. Birch trees poked out of humble clusters of willows, red-speckled buckthorn, and mountain ash. Except for these trees skirting its outermost edges, the sunken area was wide and open. The cauldron bog retained its secluded atmosphere, despite being carved into a series of waterlogged cavities.

My somber mood deepened when I saw my advisor approach. Up until then I’d been successful at avoiding him. I deliberately didn’t linger, and always found a reason to visit another pit when the one we were in suddenly emptied of other researchers. I’d resisted the wrenching feeling in my gut too long, but as our excavation wound down, it was impossible to ignore, with nowhere for my thoughts to hide — there was nothing left of what used to be my life.

“How’s it going?” Alex asked, and knelt beside me.

“Fine,” I answered, not bothering to look up from the peat I was brushing off of a link of iron rings sunken into the over-saturated soil.

After a long, awkward silence, he said, “It’s okay, you know.”

“What is?”

“If you don’t…if we don’t find one.”

I swallowed hard. The only place for my rising fury to go was back down.

“I just don’t want you to think that this whole thing was a waste—”

“A waste?” I shot back. “I’ve got enough to keep me occupied for the next decade, thank you.” It was true, but that didn’t make the prospect of studying human sacrifice sans a human sound any better. Nothing would tell us as much about the Druids as human remains that had, willingly or otherwise, undergone their practices. It may have been more than anyone else expected, but the bar had been set impossibly high. A human discovery might have been the only way to exceed my father’s own discoveries in the Valley of the Kings and earn the same level of respect in my own right.

“All right, all right,” Alex said, contrite. “I didn’t come over here to upset you.”

“Then why are you here?” There was more bite in my voice than I meant, but he had that amused eyebrow raised again, the one that made my anger meaningless and painted me as a silly, wide-eyed novice with dreams of finding the next Tut.

“I thought you might need a refill.” He offered me a cup of coffee.

A gruff ‘thank you’ was all I could manage. My brain had reached maximum capacity for caffeine, but it went down easy. Milk and two sugars, just the way I liked it. Damn.

Sounds intriguing! Can’t wait to find out what happens. 😀

Purchase Links:

Universal Reader link:  https://books2read.com/u/3LKz6w

Publisher link:  http://smarturl.it/CurseCO

Add it to Goodreads or BookBub:   http://smarturl.it/CurseGoodReads

https://www.bookbub.com/books/curse-of-the-amber-by-kathryn-troy

We’ll be sure to get a copy of this time travel/fantasy romance! ♥♥♥

About Kathryn Troy

I’m an historian by day, a novelist and baker by night. I like to write what I read – fantasy, romantic fantasy, gothic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, paranormal, horror, and weird fiction.

Books:

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

 

Once again, I want to thank Kathryn Troy, the brilliant author of this fantasy romance with a time travel angle, for stopping by! It was a pleasure to have you here! Readers, check out her work! ♥

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Book Review: Unglorious War by Maxine Flam

Our latest I Love Romance Blog review selection is Unglorious War by Maxine Flam. What a read! 😀

The novel was a gift copy provided well before I became an official reviewer on ILRB. Going into this review, I should state that even though I love reading historical romance, this is not one of my favorite time periods to read about (and I only have two or three that I try to avoid). I don’t claim ignorance about the Vietnam War. My own father served, and has his own stories – at least what he is allowed to reveal. Much of what he did remains classified. However, to be fair as both reader and reviewer, I reserved judgment until the book was finished.

Unglorious War is an appropriate title, for reading the story proved to be a rather enlightening experience. The characters were compelling. Marla, especially, was someone I grew to further respect as the tale progressed. The secondary characters were just as fascinating.

I must congratulate the author for her historical accuracy. She clearly did her research, and this book has the seal of approval from three war Veterans.

One issue I saw – both from the standpoint of a writer and a reader – was the head-hopping interspersed throughout the story. The approach was unusual overall, hinting at more of an omniscient narrator. Still, this fact wasn’t enough to pull me out of the fictional world, in most cases.

The varied emotions on the page were real, and the love story was deeply moving. The connection between Marla and Thomas was believable and heartfelt, even with the threat of war all around them.

As for an HEA or HFN – the one aspect a romance reader yearns for – I’d probably label the novel historical fiction with elements of romance. Possibly with a hint of inspirational romance, and definitely a military romance. We have to be realistic too with any tale about war. With the intent of being remotely authentic, it can’t be all hearts, flowers, and butterflies. I am not a person who likes to give away spoilers. I will do my best to avoid doing so here.

ONE WARNING: When something bad happens, don’t give up on this read. There is so much more to discover, to be resolved. And the ending is…well, open to interpretation.

In any case, my rating for this read is three hearts ❤️❤️❤️ – for a well told story and a realistic romance. Nice job, Maxine! 🙂

Book Info:

Major Thomas Harrison Smith is critically wounded while escaping from a POW camp deep inside Laos during the Vietnam War. Stabilized by medical personnel in Vietnam and Japan, he is flown to Oahu, Hawaii for surgery and rehabilitation. Emaciated, dehydrated, and half-dead from torture and constant beatings, he meets Lt. Marla Bristol, a nurse-therapist assigned to his case. During Major Smith s recovery, he and Lt. Bristol fall in love and marry, but the military wants Major Smith to do another tour of duty and if Major Smith does return to Vietnam, will he see his beloved Marla again?

Who is Lt. Anthony Lambello and what part does he play in whether Major Smith returns from NAM? Thomas and Marla are scared but each pray to God that they should be reunited soon. They find their faith tested and God answers their prayers, but is it the way that they hope for?

Universal Reader link:  https://books2read.com/u/bP0AAr

Here is an excerpt.

AUTHOR: Maxine Flam

TITLE: Unglorious War

GENRE: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Inspirational, Military Romance

RELEASE DATE: February 19, 2009-2012

PUBLISHER: Flamingo Publications

ISBN/ASIN: 098211740X/9780982117415

OUR RATING: ♥♥♥

REVIEWED BY: Marie Lavender

You can find an ebook copy for free on Smashwords! 😉

Up next time: Kurt Seyt & Shura by Nermin Bezmen

Thanks for reading our latest book review on ILRB!

 

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