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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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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

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

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:

rav

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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Filed under Authors, Blogging, Book News, Books, characters, Event, Fantasy, Fiction, Guest Writer, Interview, new release, Readers, Romance, Time Travel, Writers, Writing, Writing Tips

Exclusive Interview with author Sheri Langer, plus a look at contemporary romance, LOVE-LINES!

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

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

Author Sheri Langer:  Hi, Marie!

Marie:  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…

Sheri:  At this point, I’m an author/screenwriter who does freelance writing/editing work when it comes my way. I can’t comfortably pigeonhole myself into a specific genre since my first venture, DEX, written as Sheri Lynn Fishbach, is a YA novel.

I’d certainly like to believe I’m GREAT at it – who wouldn’t want to think they can make extraordinary contributions to their craft/profession? I love what I do, even when I’m frustrated and think I don’t.

Marie:  I know what you mean! 😉

So, tell us…what is your family like?

Sheri:  My family is wonderfully eclectic. I have an awesome new husband who used to be my boyfriend when were kids, and four amazing adult kids from a previous marriage. One daughter who’s in grad school lives at home and the three others have us hopping around the map.

Marie:  Cool!

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?

Sheri:  In my earliest years we lived in an apartment in the Bronx (NY). It had two bedrooms, a foyer, a small kitchen, and a prized sunken living room filled with plastic-covered French provincial furniture and a great wall of large mirrored tiles. The room was very off-limits except for special occasions, or when I sneaked in to play with the fascinating lamp that featured a small wooden harp.

Marie:  Wow…

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

Sheri:  I dabble in kitchen adventures, love watching movies, and play word games with a modicum of fanaticism.

Marie:  Okay.

So…what is your greatest dream?

Sheri:  World peace. But if that’s perceived as a cop-out, I’ll go with having a prolific career that produces the kind of work (novels, movies, TV shows) that entertains and inspires.

Marie:  Can’t blame you for wanting all of that! 😉

Let’s try another question.

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

Sheri:  Most of us would probably enjoy having the opportunity to change some things that trip us up here and there, but for the most part, I am the kind of person I’d like to be. I think habit often impedes change.

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

Sheri:  My husband will want me to say him, but there were several before him that captured my heart in some intense way that led to a plethora of B-poems.

Marie:  (Chuckles.)

All right, let’s try something else now.

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

Sheri:  Breaches in family connections. I hold relationships in high regard and am crushed when they fall apart and lead to estrangement.

Marie:  I can see how that would be heartbreaking.

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

[Sheri 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?

Sheri:  I wanted to be an actress and spent many years in acting classes and workshops. The thing is, Hollywood isn’t interested in short women with big boobs, so I adjusted my reality. As it turns out, I’m even happier writing the scenes than acting out those written by others. 

Marie:  That I can understand! 😀

So, who is your role model, Sheri?

Sheri:  I adored Nora Ephron. Her humor, perceptions, and style resonated with me and now that she’s gone, I hope I can emulate her truth in an equally pleasing manner.

Marie:  All right.

Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?

Sheri:  I’m not being disingenuous when I say I don’t dislike anyone. I typically look for the good in those who cross my path.

Marie:  Great to hear!

And what is your deepest desire?

Sheri:  We’re back to world peace – and I want to be enormously successful at what I do.

Marie:  I see.

So…what is your greatest fear?

Sheri:  My work not making a difference.

Marie:  Let’s try another question.

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

Sheri:  A laptop loaded with music, movies, and TV shows, chocolate – I think that comes to a square five.

Marie:  (Laughs.) Sounds perfect!  😀

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, Fordham Price. Quite an interesting character. Can you tell us a little about her?

Sheri:  Fordham Ruth Price is a neurotic survivor who, because of her insecurities, doesn’t recognize her true strengths and abilities. After a devastating divorce and the loss of her father, she has to come to terms with what truly matters in her life and what she can do to secure her desires.

Marie:  Okay.

And what are Fordham’s greatest strengths?

Sheri:  She’s tenacious, driven, loving, and above all else, refuses to quit no matter the challenge.

Marie:  How admirable! 😀

And her weaknesses?

Sheri:  Due to her lack of confidence, she sells herself short.

Marie:  😦  I think a lot of people feel that way…

Let’s try something fun, shall we?

What are some of her favorite foods?

Sheri:  She enjoys chocolate, ice cream, caviar, and salad.

Marie:  I’m a chocoholic too! 😉

How about another question?

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

Sheri:  She’s unaware of most of her attributes, but I think she’s more nurturing than she thinks she is.

Marie:  I see.

Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?

Sheri:  Readers will love her because she is quirky, enigmatic, funny, honest, and relatable.

Marie:  Great!

Now that we have a real taste of Fordham, 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 Love-Lines?

Sheri:  Love-Lines came to me when I received an email asking for my contribution to a book about dating and relationships. I started thinking about the kind of submissions the editors would get, and then I found myself crafting a story about receiving those submissions as opposed to writing one of my own.

Marie:  Lovely!

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

Let’s try something else.

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

Sheri:  Since I enjoy writing dialogue, I typically write the screenplay first and then use it as an outline to shape my novel. Yes, it’s nontraditional, but I pride myself on being unique. That said, I think what often happens is that the story takes on a life of its own and so what I thought was going to happen changes. I guess, in answer to your question, I’m going to say I lie somewhere in between.

Marie:  Awesome!

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

Sheri:  Writing is a passion, a calling, if you will. I don’t think it’s something you choose as a career; I think it chooses you. It’s demanding, exhausting, and consuming – and that’s on a good day. My advice is, if you’re good at anything else and can see yourself doing that – do it. But, if you can’t imagine a life without creating your own people and worlds, you’ve found your home.

Now, it’s time to embrace it. Pick up your pen, clutch it, and don’t let go…

Marie:  Great advice!

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 Love-Lines appears to be… ♥

Here is the blurb:

What if you could find the love of your life just by reading between the lines? 

Single mom Fordham Price is juggling her job at a small publisher, her precocious ten-year-old daughter, and her feisty mother. She wants to find time for men, but after a series of dating disasters, her relationship status is still stuck at single.

As if her macchiato lite wasn’t already overflowing, a co-worker gets pregnant, and Fordham is expected to step in and deliver the company’s latest reality read from the Flowers from the Heart series. She must now supplement her own romantic misadventures with tales of cynical cat-ladies, identical-twin husbands, spunky monks, and countless other web-crawlers.
As she wades through the submissions, she finds one from a widower whose story gives her tingles in all the places she forgot existed. His words draw her in until she finds herself daydreaming about him more than she’d care to admit.

Could she have a love like that, or will her romantic fate be forever bound to her philandering ex-husband?

The link to a book excerpt is: https://bit.ly/2DVHsLb

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

Purchase Links:

Universal Reader link:  https://books2read.com/u/mv7GN2

Add it to Goodreads or BookBub:   https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43699742-love-lines

https://www.bookbub.com/books/love-lines-by-sheri-langer

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

About Sheri Langer

Sheri Langer is a chocoholic writer and editor who routinely feasts on romantic comedies. She’s been known to spontaneously reenact scenes from classic favorites like When Harry Met Sally.

A self-proclaimed moderately talented home-cook, Sheri spends a fair amount of time concocting dishes that can never be repeated. A creative rebel at heart, she has always colored outside the lines and has an instinctive aversion to recipes. To keep the calories from getting too out of hand, Sheri does step and aerobic workouts in the privacy of her bedroom, where no one has to be subjected to her lack of rhythm.

An avid word fan, Sheri frequently plays Just Words, Boggle, and Scrabble, mostly against the computer so she has excellent odds of winning. With her four kids all grown up, three of whom live in various locations across the map, Sheri and her guy, Brad, spend much of their downtime watching General Hospital and football, shopping, and pursuing the best ice cream on the planet. Much to the chagrin of their waistbands, they can often be spotted sitting on a bench outside their favorite creamery, eating obscenely overstuffed giant waffle cones.

Please feel free to connect with Sheri on social media. You can help her procrastinate by engaging in spirited exchanges or viewing pics of her great-looking family and ridiculously adorable cat, Zoe.

Books:

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

 

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

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

Exclusive Interview with author Nicolina Martin, plus a look at mafia romance/suspense, HEAT!

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

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

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

Author Nicolina Martin:  Hi, Marie!

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

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

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

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

Nicolina:  I write romance, living with my bad boys and fair ladies, 24/7, or so it feels. But what’s bringing food to my table is my day job as a radiologist.

Marie:  Oh, nice! 😀

So, tell us…what is your family like?

Nicolina:  I’m a mom of three teen daughters and three kitties. We’re a…loud family. The kids are very much teen ladies right now, with life being dramatic all the time.

I can’t remember being like that. Was I?

Marie:  (Chuckles.) I hope I wasn’t that bad too! 😉

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?

Nicolina:  My parents were working class. Very tidy. Home cooked meals. Mom stayed at home with me and later on with my sister for the first five years of our lives. In Sweden both parents often work, so having Mom at home was a bit of a luxury. I had a very traditional upbringing, I think. A bit strict.

Marie:  I see…

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

Nicolina:  I sing in a gospel choir, and I love gardening. I should work out, you know…it just doesn’t seem to happen.

Marie:  (Laughs.) I know what you mean!

So…what is your greatest dream?

Nicolina:  Well, authoring related it is to make an impact, to know that readers get a few hours of complete distraction, and that they close the books with a deep satisfaction. That, and I could live off writing. That would be cool.

The greatest, greatest dream is that my daughters will have rich, fulfilling, and happy lives.

Marie:  Can’t blame you for wanting all of that! 😉

Let’s try another question.

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

Nicolina:  I wish I was more outdoorsy, and more social. What’s stopping me is probably laziness, and that I’m too comfortable where I am.

Marie:  Okay.

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

Nicolina:  A blond, skinny boy in school named Tobias. 🙂 We were 17. That was my first love. It didn’t last long, ha ha.

But it was fun while it lasted. He was kind, and a really funny guy.

Marie:  All right, let’s try something else now.

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

Nicolina:  When one of my daughters, then only two months old, and as a twin, much tinier than a normal two month old baby, nearly died from RS virus. There is nothing I’ve experienced before, or since, that comes even close to the horror.

OMG! How terrifying. 😥

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

[Nicolina 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?

Nicolina: Actually, to become a doctor, so I did achieve my dream. I can’t remember what I expected. More glory? Ha ha. I don’t know.

It’s a very self-rewarding job. I’ve never regretted my choice.

Marie:  Great!

So, who is your role model, Nicolina?

Nicolina:  Stephen King. Both as an author, but also as a person, his integrity, how he has stuck to his writing and not let the critics deter him, how he fought his way back after he was injured. I feel he stands up for the little people, the ones without a voice. He’s amazing.

Marie:  Okay.

Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?

Nicolina:  Ha ha, no. Really, no. I’m a pretty honest and direct person.

Marie:  Good to hear!

And what is your deepest desire?

Nicolina:  Find love again, maybe? Real, deep, passionate romantic love. I’ve been single quite a while…

Marie:  I see.

So…what is your greatest fear?

Nicolina:  That no one will bother to come to my death bed. That was dark. Sorry!

That my egocentric persona will have driven everyone away.

Marie: Oh, no… 😦 I’m sure that won’t happen.

Let’s try another question.

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

Nicolina:  Books, for sure. Good sheets and two pillows. Was that four items already? Damn. Coffee!

Marie:  (Laughs.) There you go!  😀

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

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

Nicolina: The hero of my latest release, Heat, is one of five siblings born to a mobster life. He grew up in a violent and unloving environment and feels like there’s a void in him; that no matter how many women and how much wealth he has, there’s something lacking. Until he meets the woman who becomes the real and only love of his life.

Ian Somerhalder, the actor, IS Nathan, and I don’t think I’m allowed to use an image of him just like that… I do have a Pinterest board, though, with both Nathan and his love interest Sydney.

https://www.pinterest.se/authornicolinamartin/inspiration-for-heat/

Marie:  OMG, love it…Ian is sooo hot!

And what are Nathan’s greatest strengths?

Nicolina:  He isn’t afraid to make snap decisions, to take command. He’s loyal, and determined.

Marie:  Cool! And his weaknesses?

Nicolina:  His fear, that he won’t acknowledge, of being alone, unloved.

Marie:  😦  I think a lot of people feel that way…

Let’s try something fun, shall we?

What are some of his favorite foods?

Nicolina:  Anything Italian. Seafood.

Marie:  Great!

How about another question?

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

Nicolina:  That he is capable of tenderness and compassion.

Marie:  Nice! 😀

Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?

Nicolina:  They love him; they don’t want to, because he’s violent, and rough, dominant, and scary. But he has a softness to him that shines through, and that makes it near impossible not to care for him.

Marie:  Awesome! Sort of an anti-hero, then…

Now that we have a real taste of Nathan, 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 Heat?

Nicolina:  Heat was the first book I started on after I came back to writing, having suffered a block for eight years. I just saw this couple hitting it off on an airplane, going to some exotic place, him with a big dark secret, she a naive young woman, enticed by his attention. It built from there.

Heat had many, many versions, and titles, before it found its final shape. Initially it wasn’t part of any mafia world, or a series. It wasn’t great to begin with, and I even shelved it and wrote another book, Break My Chains, in between, along with working on two shorter stories and publishing them. Eventually I came back to Heat, found its voice, whipped it into its final form, and here we are.

Marie:  Wonderful! And readers, I can fully vouch for Break My Chains. Check out my book review of that title on the blog here.

Well…it’s interesting how the muse works, huh? 😉

Let’s try something else.

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

Nicolina:  I’m a pantser, but I’ve begun plotting when I get stuck, so I seem to shift into something in between as my stories get more complicated. I write a bit choppy, minimalist, very non-purple, I’d say. With my stories you have to look around the corner and read between the lines, to build the whole picture. I know it sounds weird, saying it like that, but it’s how it feels. I like to NOT describe everything, but leave a little up to the reader to fill in. Many people say that reading my work is like watching a movie, and also that my plots are unpredictable, and my characters are unusual. Those are among the best compliments I can get, because I really strive to find my own way within the tropes, and to renew myself with every book.

Marie:  Lovely!

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

Nicolina:  A friend told me to submit Heat to Blushing Books. I was so sure a publisher would never be interested in my work, that I very nearly didn’t, but then I submitted Break My Chains, just taking the chance with it, and got accepted, so later on I dared submit Heat as well. I wasn’t going to pursue the traditional publishing route, I was so sure I was going to self-publish, but now I’m really happy with the collaboration with Blushing Books. So that’s maybe one advice: dare to put yourself out there.

For Heat, being my first work after that long, long break, I had a ton of beta readers over the course of several months. A ton of betas bring a ton of different opinions, and it isn’t easy navigating everyone’s advice. Stay strong with what you feel is the ‘voice’ of the book, and yourself, and filter the advice through that.

Also. Write. Writing feeds writing. Words give birth to more words. Love the story you want to tell. Unless writing is what stands between you and a house over your head, don’t force yourself to write something you don’t feel, for it should be a passion. It should be fun. Then it will show in your books.

I write what I want to read. Writing to me is like existing in my favorite movie 24/7 for months.

Marie:  Well said!

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 Heat appears to be… ♥

Here is the blurb:

Anything can happen during the hot nights in the Dominican Republic.

Sydney

I just wanted a tan and to sip drinks with little umbrellas in them. I didn’t know that vacation would mean sleeping with a hot stranger, being drugged, and nearly killed. My instincts tell me there’s more to the smooth facade of Nathan Russo, but my heart won’t listen. He’s my opposite: hot where I’m cool, experienced while I’ve never really lived. What starts out as a steamy fling can’t be more…can it?

Nathan

I’m a dangerous man with a mission to complete and people to kill. Sydney Lewis might literally cost me my life. As the stakes increase, I have to decide whether to follow my head or my heart. My life is too dangerous, I’m too much of a monster. She’s a good girl. She can’t be a part of this. I have to be cruel. I have to cut her out.
But she’s the only one who can save me.

Heat will take you on a journey to paradise, through hell, and back.

Publisher’s Note: This steamy, dark romance may contain triggers. It contains elements of danger, adventure, explicit scenes, power exchange, and a guaranteed HEA.

Nicolina is also offering us a teaser from the book!

Sydney

I hurry from room to room. There are opened double balcony doors and long white curtains that move lazily in the warm breeze. The wood panels are dark, the colors of the bedspread, decorative pillows, and carpet are warm and inviting.

On the bed I find neat piles of my things. I rummage through them and am satisfied to see that everything seems to be there. In the bathroom someone has already arranged my toiletries. I frown. Who took the liberty to go through my things? The man who drove me here? Nathan? The hotel staff?

I see no sign of anyone else living here. It confuses me. I would totally have expected him to install me in his place. Will he come? Or is it all for me? Will I see him at all? I sink down on the bed and wait. Nothing happens. I listen to the distant noise from the city, the sound of birds singing, and the soft rustling of the curtains. I feel ridiculous in my bikini, so I pull the tunic over my head and drop it next to me. As I look for something to wear, I find the two wrinkled skirts, smile at the memories and put them to the side. Stripping to change, I realize I’m sweaty, and a bit sandy. Shower it is.

Through the clattering of water against the tiles, I keep listening for sounds from the outer rooms, but nothing disturbs my weird solitude. After, I wrap a towel around me and go sit on the balcony, still wet. I’ll dry in the heat soon enough and it’s a wonderful way to cool off. Comforted by the noise from the street, I fall asleep in the recliner, in the shadow, with the warm breeze caressing me. I dream of being a passenger on a ship, with no idea where I’m going. I dream of hands on my breasts, of a soft voice in my ear. ‘Sydney’. I wake with a jolt. I hold my breath and listen with a pounding heart. I’m alone. Still nothing but silence from inside. I pick up my phone and look at the clock.

It’s been three hours. I’m confused, annoyed, and very hungry.

It’s six p.m. I’ve had it. I’m not waiting for the bastard.

“Miss Lewis.” In the reception the same man from before greets me with a wide smile.

“Good evening. I was wondering if you know anything about the person who rented the room I’m staying in?”

“I’m very sorry, Miss. The information about your stay has been relayed to us over the phone.”

“Yes, but…Do you have the number that was calling you, maybe?”

“This is not information we can give out.”

“Okay, fine. That’s fine. No worries,” I growl, and I grit my teeth. “Are you at least able to tell me the location of a nice restaurant?” There’s venom in my voice, but I can’t help it. I feel that this man is an accomplice in my abduction, and I have now lost yet another half day of my vacation. I’m so gonna kick Nathan’s ass when I see him.

“By the ocean or in town, Miss?”

I force a smile. I have no reason to take anything out on him.

“Ocean,” I mutter.

“Absolutely,” he says cheerfully.

I get directions to a restaurant. Outside, I’m met by a wall of sounds, and scents of flowers and food. I relax a little. I guess I can at least have a meal and watch the sun sink behind the horizon before I get back to seething. I curse Nathan to Hell. Is he toying with me? I thought we were going to meet. I buy a paperback in a little shop I pass. The sleazy romance I was reading got lost when I ‘moved’. It’s probably being ‘accidentally’ read by some other lonely woman right now. At least she won’t have to encounter fucking James Fintan, as they told me his full name is. He’s locked up. For a very long time, I hope.

At the restaurant I have a shrimp salad and a glass of white wine. One glass turns into two and I enjoy the book as my only company. This is, in part, what I wanted to do on this stay. No obligations. No one calling me. Just me and some peace.

Staff has changed when I get back. I present myself to the front desk woman. “Did anyone leave a message for me?”

“No, Miss,” she says in what sounds like British English.

“Okay…Did anyone come here, maybe? Is there anyone up in my room?”

“No, Miss.” She shakes her head and smiles.

I grind my teeth and make my way back up to the room, cursing Nathan to Hell again. The door closes behind me with a whisper. I stand in silence and listen. Nothing. No one is here.

“Nate?” I call.

I groan out loud. Fine!

I pull off my clothes and toss them over a chair, brush my teeth and wash the day off my face. Then I slip under cool sheets in a heavenly bed. It smells clean. It doesn’t take long before sleep claims me.

***

A noise startles me awake. I sit up straight, my heart pounding. In the doorway I see the silhouette of a man. I scramble back and fumble for a light switch without finding one.

“Enjoying your new accommodations?” The voice is quiet, husky.

I recognize it more than well and a shiver runs through me.

“You fucking, arrogant jerk!” I spit.

He laughs and strides closer. “That’s the way you want to greet me?”

“Yes! I can’t believe I came here.”

“And yet you did.”

I realize I’m sitting up without a thread on my upper body, having gone to bed in only my panties. I quickly pull at the sheet to cover me up before I feel for the lamp again. I flip the switch and a soft yellow light illuminates us. Nathan sits on the edge of the bed. His unreal eyes have a dark edge to them. They’re filled with hunger and some emotion I can’t define that makes my stomach clench.

“You realize, Sydney, that by coming here you passed a line.”

I swallow hard, fighting the flutter in my chest. “Line? I—”

“You gave yourself up to me. I commanded, and you obeyed.”

“No…I—” He doesn’t even have to touch me. A flurry of tingles shoots straight to between my legs. “What are you talking about?” I whisper.

“You know more than well what I’m saying, Sydney.” He leans in and brushes his lips against mine. He smells faintly of smoke and cigarettes, tinged with a hint of metal underneath the fresh soapy scent. His eyes are dark like a bottomless well, then he claims my mouth and I gasp, my body responding immediately. He caresses my neck, stroking along my throat, then his hand finds its way to my nape and pulls me closer. As he deepens the kiss, his other hand follows the curve of my shoulder down along my arm, pulling the sheet with it as it progresses downward. Cupping my breast, he rolls the nipple between his fingers.

“Naked?” he whispers into my mouth.

I shake my head. “I have panties on.” I barely recognize my throaty voice.

He pushes me down on the bed, leaning closer, covering my body with his. “Didn’t I tell you never to wear panties?”

“No,” I half squeak.

“Yes, I did. Take them off.” His voice is rough, demanding.

I hold his gaze. “What happens if I don’t?”

“You wanna play games with me?” he says, his eyes shaded and his voice suddenly dead serious.

His tone makes worry flutter in my stomach. I swallow hard.

What do I really know about this man? I was safe on the plane, surrounded by people; this suddenly feels very unsafe. “I…no…you—” I say shakily, my voice wavering.

“Syd.” He puts a finger to my lips, silencing me. “Don’t be afraid. Do as I say. Remove your panties.”

Ooh…sizzling! Can’t wait to find out what happens next. 😀

Purchase Links:

Universal Reader link:  https://books2read.com/u/mY15gV

Publisher:  http://bit.ly/HEAT-NM-BB

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

About Nicolina Martin

Nicolina Martin is a Swedish born author who escapes the long, dark winter nights by writing hot contemporary romance/suspense.

She’s a mother of three teenage girls, a medical doctor, a quirky loner, and a social human being. She has traveled the globe, has had more lovers than she can count, has loved and hated, succeeded and failed, has gone through marriage and divorce. She has seen darkness and despair, as well as light and happiness.

All these experiences, she pours into her tales, taking her readers for a wild ride while twisting their minds. She loves showing that stories can be different even if the trope is the same.

Nicolina believes that life is too short for regrets and in looking forward, no matter what. She wants to enjoy every moment, and cherish life.

Books:

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

 

Once again, I want to thank Nicolina Martin, the brilliant author of this mafia 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, dark romance, Event, Fiction, Guest Writer, Interview, Mafia Romance, Multicultural/Interracial, new release, Readers, Romance, Romantic Suspense, steamy, Thriller/Suspense, Writers, Writing

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

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

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

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

Author Kaitlynzq:  Hello, Marie.

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

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

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

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

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

Marie:  I know what you mean! 😉

Tell us…what is your greatest dream?

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

Marie:  All right. I know dreams can change.

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

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

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

Marie:  Me too!

What is your deepest desire, Kaitlynzq?

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

Marie:  That’s understandable.

Tell me something…what is your greatest fear?

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

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

So, I want to try something different next.

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

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

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

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

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

Marie:  Okay.

What are your character’s greatest strengths?

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

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

Marie:  Nice!

And what are his greatest weaknesses?

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

Marie:  I see.

Let’s try something fun, shall we?

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

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

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

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

Marie:  Awesome… 🙂

How about another question?

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

Kaitlynzq:  He emanates so beautifully a masculine tenderness.

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

Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?

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

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

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

Marie:  Lovely!

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

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

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

Marie:  Great!

Interesting how the muse works, huh? 😉

Let’s try something else.

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

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

Marie:  I know, right?

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

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

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

Marie:  Indie publishing can be quite a challenge…

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

Here is the blurb:

The stories within Legendof Song de Light

connect, unfold, interweave many character’s stories

needs, feelings, desires, dreams

their threads as two crescent moons

connected under the firelights

that layer the chords, and form the lyrics

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

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

circle the melody

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

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

Ancient Script of Lovecontu audio poem

Legend of Song de Light audio book

Legend of Song de Light audio play

Lovecontu Song de Light Lovecontu audio set

Hashtag for ​series of interconnected stories: #lovecontusongdelightlovecontu

Vocal Synopsis:​  

Kaitlynzq is also offering us a teaser from the audiobook!

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

 

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

 

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

 

“…Dearest Euzy,

Your drum of cashmere footsteps,

harp of silk strings touch,

and velvet flute voice,

Are an ensemble for my heart.

Forever yours,

Edwin…”

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

Title:​ Legend​ of Song de Light

Author Name:​​ Kaitlynzq

Genre: Adult​ Literary Fiction, Romance

Purchase Links:

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

https://kaitlynzq.com/

https://kaitlynzq.boutique/

 

Direct Links on my Website to the story:

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

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

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

UPDATE 5/13/19: Here is my book review on Goodreads.

About Kaitlynzq

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

that

beautiful, vulnerable, intimate space

feelings, desires, needs, dreams

 

a blend of

 

delicate feather ripples of heart waves

needs, feelings, dreams, desires

quiet, gentle heart strings

tender, continuous

soft, vulnerable air mist

circles, weaves to caress

a sonic sea of heart’s breath

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

Works:

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

 

Here are her video and blog post about this interview…

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author Kimberly Stuart:  Hi, Marie!

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

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

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

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

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

Marie:  (Chuckles.) Of course I do! 😉

So, tell us…what is your family like?

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

Marie:  Nice!

Let’s try something else, okay?

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

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

Marie:  Great!

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

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

Marie:  Sounds like a plan!

So…what is your greatest dream?

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

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

Let’s try another question.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marie:  (Chuckles.)

All right, let’s try something else now.

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

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

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

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

Marie:  Lovely!

Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?

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

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

Let’s try another question.

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

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

(Laughs.) There you go!  😀

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

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

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

Marie:  Wow!

What are your character’s greatest strengths?

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

Marie:  Nice!

And what are her greatest weaknesses?

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

Marie:  Okay…

Let’s try something fun, shall we?

What are some of her favorite foods?

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

Marie:  Sounds like the perfect menu! 😉

How about another question?

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

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

Marie:  All right.

Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?

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

Marie:  Great!

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

What first gave you the idea for Sugar?

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

Marie:  Nice!

Interesting how the muse works, huh? 😉

Let’s try something else.

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

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

Marie:  I know, right?

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

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

Marie:  Impressive!

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

Here is the blurb:

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

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

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

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

Kimberly is also offering us a teaser from the book!

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Who took my baby?” he said again.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Chef Bouchard has lost his knife.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

****

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Be right there,” I called back.

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

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

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

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

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

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

****

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

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

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

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

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

****

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

“You can’t possibly understand.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Gross,” I said aloud.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“We’re the same age.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“He’ll tell you all that.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Purchase Links:

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

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

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

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

About Kimberly Stuart

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

Books:

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

 

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

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