Tag Archives: contemporary

Recommended Read: Break My Chains by Nicolina Martin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s a peek at the book…

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

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

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

Three years ago.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Jack, boy, what is it?”

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

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

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

Three heavy, ominous knocks.

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

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

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

“Good God. Come inside!”

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

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

“Thanks.”

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

AUTHOR: Nicolina Martin

TITLE: Break My Chains

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

RELEASE DATE: February 6, 2019

PUBLISHER: Blushing Books Publications

ISBN/ASIN: B07NGQT8LB

OUR RATING: ♥♥♥♥♥

REVIEWED BY: Marie Lavender

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

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

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

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

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

Author Kimberly Stuart:  Hi, Marie!

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

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

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

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

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

Marie:  (Chuckles.) Of course I do! 😉

So, tell us…what is your family like?

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

Marie:  Nice!

Let’s try something else, okay?

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

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

Marie:  Great!

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

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

Marie:  Sounds like a plan!

So…what is your greatest dream?

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

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

Let’s try another question.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marie:  (Chuckles.)

All right, let’s try something else now.

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

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

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

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

Marie:  Lovely!

Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?

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

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

Let’s try another question.

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

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

(Laughs.) There you go!  😀

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

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

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

Marie:  Wow!

What are your character’s greatest strengths?

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

Marie:  Nice!

And what are her greatest weaknesses?

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

Marie:  Okay…

Let’s try something fun, shall we?

What are some of her favorite foods?

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

Marie:  Sounds like the perfect menu! 😉

How about another question?

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

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

Marie:  All right.

Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?

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

Marie:  Great!

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

What first gave you the idea for Sugar?

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

Marie:  Nice!

Interesting how the muse works, huh? 😉

Let’s try something else.

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

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

Marie:  I know, right?

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

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

Marie:  Impressive!

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

Here is the blurb:

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

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

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

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

Kimberly is also offering us a teaser from the book!

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Who took my baby?” he said again.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Chef Bouchard has lost his knife.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

****

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Be right there,” I called back.

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

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

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

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

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

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

****

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

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

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

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

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

****

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

“You can’t possibly understand.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Gross,” I said aloud.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“We’re the same age.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“He’ll tell you all that.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Purchase Links:

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

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

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

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

About Kimberly Stuart

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

Books:

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author Scarlett Holloway:  Hi, Marie!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marie:  Nice!

Let’s try something else, okay?

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

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

Marie:  Okay.

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

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

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

So…what is your greatest dream?

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

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

Let’s try another question.

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

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

Marie:  Great!

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

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

Marie:  All right.

Let’s try something else now.

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

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

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

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

[Scarlett nods.]

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

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

Marie: True! 😀

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

So, who is your role model, Scarlett?

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

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

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

Marie:  Good point…

Let’s try another question.

What is your deepest desire?

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

Marie:  Understandable.

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

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

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

So, I want to try something different next… 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marie:  Wow! 😥 What a rough journey…

What are your character’s greatest strengths?

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

Marie:  All right.

And what are her greatest weaknesses?

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

Marie:  Okay…

Let’s try something fun, shall we?

What are some of her favorite foods?

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

Marie:  Can’t blame her there! 😉

How about another question?

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

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

Marie:  Cool!

Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?

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

Marie:  Great!

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

What first gave you the idea for Policy of Truth?

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

Marie:  Nice!

Interesting how the muse works, huh? 😉

Let’s try something else.

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

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

Marie:  I know, right?

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

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

Marie:  True enough!

Well, it was a such a pleasure having you here on the I Love Romance Blog! And how apropos is that, considering what a great story Policy of Truth appears to be. Congratulations on your latest release… ♥

Here is the blurb:

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

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

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

Scarlett is also offering us a teaser from the book!

“Choke-a-hoe.”

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

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

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

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

“Yeah, the Boston Stran—nevermind.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leave it to Viper not to beat around the bush.

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

Lace thought it was perfect.

Flames groaned.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Deal?” Lace stared expectantly at the realtor.

Tamra nodded, rolling her bottom lip between her teeth.

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

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

Purchase Links:

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

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

About Scarlett Holloway

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

Books:

Coming Soon:

Available Now:

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

 

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

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Book Review: Undercover Siren by Ellen Mint

This week’s I Love Romance Blog review selection is Undercover Siren By Ellen Mint. This book has a little of everything that I know you’ll love. Definitely add this one to your reading list. 🙂

This is another one of those stories that I love. The reversal of roles between Kristen and Colton is fun to experience as you read through. Don’t get me wrong, though – Colton is more than able to hold up on his own.

All I’m saying is, if you’re skeptical, read the first chapter…get to the part about the pen – and you’ll be hooked just like I was.

As I said, this book has a little bit for everyone, clandestine spies and intrigue, hot cops, sci-fi and fantasy, romance and hot sex, and lastly – a bat-shit crazy person in the background motivating the plot. What more would we need?

I’d have to put on my copy editor “hat” to find anything I’d suggest about the text, but the story, places, and characters are all fully realized and engaging – I give Undercover Siren By Ellen Mint 5 HEARTS!

Book Info:

He was only supposed to be a job. Why can’t she walk away?

Colton Davies, an ex-Marine turned cop, stumbles across a damsel in distress while working the beat and rushes to her aid. Unbeknownst to him, Kristen Trevelyan isn’t an old classmate who accidentally locked her keys in the car, but a spy working for a classified agency. She’s tasked with getting close to the police officer, but she never anticipated how close they’d become.

Action, adventure, dangerous gun battles, sizzling romance scenes, tender words of affection, and more await you in Undercover Siren.

Universal Reader link: https://books2read.com/u/bPZy1A

Here’s a peek at the book…

Colton snapped off the radio and tumbled back into his seat. From God-awful love songs to burnt corpses, oh and dragging her into a rainstorm. He was a real pro at dating, as she could no doubt tell. Glaring out the windshield, watching the bounce of rain pinging off the rusted hood, Colton kept whipping himself for things beyond his control. He was so far gone, it wasn’t until her hand shifted higher up his arm that he realized Kristen was touching him.

Twisting his head towards her, he found those dazzling eyes burning directly into his. She stared at him as if…as if she couldn’t see anyone else. As if she’d never seen anyone else. Soft pink lips glistened with fresh rain, parting like she yearned for a drink. Colton dove towards her, his mouth puckering up just before it plunged against hers. Warmth erupted down his spine, the woman melting from his kiss. He let go of the arguing in his brain to fall into this moment. Fingers lifted off his arm to thread through his hair, gently guiding him deeper into her trap.

He was greedy to fall into it, their first kiss turning hotter than he’d ever have expected. Kristen tipped her head, her tongue darting up and down his scar before she tugged his bottom lip deep into hers. The nibble was little more than a whisper, but it broke down a wall inside Colton and a moan escaped from his throat.

Sliding back as if to catch her breath, those dazzling eyes darted up to his. The bliss of touching her dilated his pupils so much he had to blink a moment. As she focused into view, her cheeks bright from a flush and cleavage beaded in droplets, there was no denying how badly he wanted to take this further.

How in God’s name did he do that?

“You’re so…” he mumbled, his tongue clogging in his mouth as the words all stuck together, “pradortty.”

“Pradortty?” her eyebrow lifted in surprise, but a smile stretched across her lips. The ones that tasted of hunger and the thrill of the run.

“I, uh…” Colton absently wiped the back of his neck.

“Is that some kind of word only you people in Sky City use?”

“Ye…yes,” he sputtered out. “It means, it means a very beautiful woman.”

The blush burned brighter on her cheeks and she turned to stare at the dashboard. “Oh. Well, you’re handorablesome.”

Colton chuckled at her catching him, but with a grateful nod said, “Thank you.”

Her sparkling eyes darted around the truck, seeming to take in the state of it before landing upon the clutch. “This is a stick? You can drive a stick?”

“Sure,” he shrugged, “I’m from the country. Who couldn’t back in Winterset?”

“Right, right, just…surprised to see one here in the city,” she smiled. “Isn’t it hell on stop and go traffic?”

“Not if you’re good,” Colton said without a thought before wincing. “Did you never learn?” It seemed odd to the man who cut his teeth on tractors, but not everyone was a farmer. There had to be townies in a town after all.

“A little,” Kristen admitted, “but I’m happy with my automatic. When I don’t lock myself out anyway.”

“Until a helpful policeman comes along,” Colton said as if he had nothing to do with it. She smiled sweetly at him, but silence threaded through the cab. Only the bounce of rain thudding into the metal over their heads filled the air. All the unsaid words grew thicker than the humidity, both people staring at each other not knowing what to do next.

He could take her back into the bar. To talk more. Or have another drink. It was getting kinda late. Maybe he should offer to take her home. Or that they wait out the rain here. She could snuggle up next to him and…

“Colton?” Kristen whispered, her eyes darting up to him, “do you want to get coffee?”

“Uh…sure,” he spat out, his brain trying to rack up what place would be open this late aside from a fast food joint.

Her ravenous smile nearly knocked him over, when she shrugged. “I’d say we could go back to my place but I’m all out of filters, and grounds, and a coffee God.” Slowly, her fingers cupped against his knee and worried their way up the wet jeans clinging to his thigh. He blinked at her, his brain-jarring apart as it tried to piece together what she was asking. Or telling him. Saying that she wanted.

Sweet God.

AUTHOR: Ellen Mint

TITLE: Undercover Siren (book one of the Inquisition Series)

GENRE: Romantic Suspense, Sci-Fi, Police Procedural

RELEASE DATE: February 10, 2018

PUBLISHER: Amazon Digital Services LLC

ISBN/ASIN: B079QZPN5V

OUR RATING: ♥♥♥♥♥

REVIEWED BY: Kevin Ethan

Read for free with Kindle Unlimited and don’t forget to check out Marie’s feature of the author’s New Release in 2018 here. Ellen also writes sci-fi and fantasy under the pen name S.E. Zbasnik.

Up Next Week: Jake’s Redemption by Jamie Schultz

Thanks for reading our weekly book review on ILRB!

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

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

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

Character Selene:  Thank you for having me, Marie.

Marie:  Of course! It’s my pleasure!

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

Selene:  Sure.

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

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

Marie:  Okay.

 

So, tell us…what is your family like?

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

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

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

Marie:  I see.

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

Selene:  Lots of sports, writing, music.

Marie:  Nice!

So, what is your greatest dream?

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

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

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

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

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

Who was your first love?

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

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

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

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

Selene:  An abortion.

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

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

[Selene nods.]

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

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

Marie:  All right.

So, who is your role model, Selene?

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

Marie:  Okay.

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

Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?

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

Marie:  Yikes! :/ That’s unfortunate…

Let’s try another question.

What is your deepest desire?

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

Marie:  And what is your greatest fear?

Selene:  A crippling injury.

Marie:  Okay.

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

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

(Waves goodbye to her guest.)

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

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

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

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

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

Marie:  Okay.

So, what are your character’s greatest strengths?

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

Marie:  And your character’s greatest weaknesses?

David:  She is sometimes unable to act spontaneously.

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

What are some of Selene’s favorite foods?

David:  Avocados and pasta dishes.

Marie:  Great!

How about another question?

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

David:  Psychic vision.

Marie:  Wow, love it! 😉

Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?

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

Marie:  (Chuckles.) She sounds complicated!

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

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

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

Marie:  Cool.

Let’s try something else.

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

David:  Definitely a pantster.

Marie:  How about another question?

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

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

Marie:  Glad it’s working out now! ♥

Well, it was a such a pleasure having you here on the I Love Romance Blog!  And how apropos is that, considering what a great story Self’s Blossom appears to be.

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

Here is the blurb for Self’s Blossom.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And some teasers!

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

Purchase Links:

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

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

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

About David Russell

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Marie:  Of course! It’s my pleasure!

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

Josh:  Sure.

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

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

Marie:  Great!

So, tell us…what is your family like?

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

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

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

Marie:  (Chuckles.)

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

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

Marie: Nice!

So, what is your greatest dream?

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

Marie:  (Nods.) I see…

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

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

Marie: Admirable!

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

Who was your first love?

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

Marie: All right.

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

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

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

Marie:  Yikes! :/ Sorry to hear that…

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

[Josh nods.]

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

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

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

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

Marie: Okay.

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

Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?

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

Marie:  Let’s try another question.

What is your deepest desire?

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

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

(Sighs.) I love romance. ♥

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

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

Marie: That’s understandable.

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

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

(Waves goodbye to her guest.)

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

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

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

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

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

Marie:  Okay.

So, what are your character’s greatest strengths?

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

Marie:  Lovely!

And what are your character’s greatest weaknesses?

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

Marie:  True enough!

Let’s try something fun, shall we?

What are some of Josh’s favorite foods?

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

Marie:  Sounds delicious!

How about another question?

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

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

Marie:  (Laughs.) All right.

Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?

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

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

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

What first gave you the idea for Think of Me?

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

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

Let’s try something else.

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

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

Marie:  Me too!

How about another question?

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

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

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

Congrats on your new release! ♥

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Purchase Links:

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

http://bit.ly/TOMbook

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

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

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

About Kat Schuessler

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/zanystarr

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

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

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

 

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

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

New Release Feature: Meant to Be Kept by author Amelia Foster

•..•Meant to Be Kept by Amelia Foster•..•

“She’s my wife, and I’ll do anything to keep it that way.”

I am pleased to announce a great book release by Amelia, a debut author I met during my journey! Her new second chance romance, Meant to Be Kept, officially released at the end of January!

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

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

Amelia is giving us a look at her contemporary new adult romance, Meant to Be Kept, today.

What a great cover!

This is the blurb for Meant to Be Kept:

One night. One too many drinks. One mistake. That’s all it took to derail my marriage.

Now, all I can do is beg for a second chance. To try and redeem myself in a bid not to lose the love of my life.

I’m determined to use every second, every moment I have to show my wife how much she means to me—to rebuild the trust I shattered.

But the harder I try, the more I start to realize our marriage had fallen into a routine of complacency and misplaced priorities long before my indiscretion.

Isabelle is a strong, passionate, beautiful woman—a wife who has sacrificed so much for me. I just hope it’s not too late for us, and that I’ll be able to convince her that our love is meant to be kept.

Here is an excerpt to entice you with!

All the air left her body in a whoosh and Izzy blinked a few times, certain she was seeing things. When the telescope and the mountain of blankets and pillows filling the bed of Tanner’s obnoxious yellow truck didn’t disappear, she spun around to face him.

“Tanner.” She breathed his name and lifted her hand to his cheek. So many thoughts ran through her mind, but none forming into coherent words. Instead she wrapped her arms around his neck, feeling closer to him than she had all week. Closer than she had in years.

His deep chuckled vibrated against her and she closed her eyes, reveling in the sensation. “I’m glad you like it, but we haven’t even gotten to the surprise yet, sweetheart.”

She pulled back, but held on to his shoulders. “What do you mean? We’re going to lie under the stars together on a huge pile of pillows, and you even got a telescope which is something we never had before. . . Tanner, what more could there possibly be?”

“Well, I’m glad you asked, sweetheart.” He stepped away from her with a grin and pulled something off the driver’s seat of his truck. When he turned back around her eyes widened at the present wrapped in dark blue paper. “A little something for you.”

Izzy shook her head, not accepting the proffered gift. “It’s not my birthday.” Her brow furrowed. “And it is still, what thirty-six days until our anniversary? So why am I getting a present?”

A brief flash of disappointment flitted across his face and served to only deepen Izzy’s confusion. But just as quickly as it had come, it disappeared. “No, it’s not your birthday or our anniversary or Christmas, even. You’re getting this because you deserve to get something you love simply because you love it, not just because I’m sorry for what I did. Which I am. Extremely.”

She couldn’t help the small smile that tugged at her lips when she finally took the nearly flat rectangle from his grasp. She took a few steps closer to the truck, needing the help of the interior light. Izzy’s breath caught when she pulled the paper away. She looked from the gift she held in her hands to Tanner’s expectant face and back several times before jumping in his arms, still clinging to the picture frame. “Tanner.” She choked his name past the tears clogging her throat.

His grip on her tightened under her thighs, holding her close.

Izzy put her hands on his shoulders and pushed back enough to look in his face, tears streaking down her cheeks. “You bought me a star.” A bubble of laughter escaped past the happy tears. “First you bring the sky inside and now you buy me a star.”

He grinned and carried her around the bed of the truck, setting her down on the tailgate before climbing up beside her. “Come on sweetheart, let’s lay down for a bit. Unless you want to look for your star. I got the telescope to see if we could find it. Or we could look for what-”

She put a finger against his lips silencing the stream of words. A tiny part of her enjoyed seeing always confident and capable Tanner just a little nervous. She slid back on the inflatable mattress and laid down on the pile of pillows. “Being right here sounds perfect.”

Izzy had to bite her lip to stop herself from laughing at how quickly he scrambled up beside her. He stretched out next to her, sliding his hand in hers and intertwining their fingers. “Belle, being anywhere with you is perfect.” He whispered the words, but they had the effect of a powerful windstorm.

“It’s been way too long since we’ve done this.”

Tanner stayed silent for a long time after her comment and part of her wondered if she shouldn’t have said anything. She chewed on her bottom lip and tried to think of anything she could say to ease the sting.

Finally he propped himself up on an elbow. “How long, Belle?”

She turned her head slightly and the earnest look on his face made her scoot closer to his side. “At least three years,” she said softly. “With the kids and work…we were just too busy.”

Tanner leaned down and brushed his lips across hers. “Not we. Me. Dammit, Belle, I’m sorry.”

She reached up to bury her fingers in his hair and pull his mouth more firmly against hers. The taste of him drove her to wiggle her body beneath his. His scent wafted over her and she barely contained a groan. She was finally surrounded by Tanner in every way and she never wanted it to end.

“Belle.” He murmured her name against her lips and began to kiss down her jaw, planting moist kisses along the column of her neck.

Izzy pulled Tanner until he was fully on top of her and her thighs were locked around his waist. When she lifted her hips and pressed against the evidence of his need she felt a gasp against her neck where Tanner had been licking and biting softly.

His hands slid under her shirt, caressing her back and drawing her closer to him. Tanner lifted the shirt over her head and began making a path of hot kisses across her bare chest. She arched into him again, her fingers tugging on his hair to bring his mouth back up to hers.

“Tanner.” She whimpered his name in between kisses, the soft cotton of his shirt rubbing against her skin, teasing every overly sensitized inch.

She’d always loved playing with Tanner’s hair and gave her fingers free reign to get reacquainted with each strand. When his hands skimmed down her sides and flicked the button open on her waistband she couldn’t help but shiver against him.

His mouth curved against hers. “You like that, sweetheart?”

She hadn’t realized until this moment just how much she missed his hands touching her and his lips leaving a scorching trail along her body.

His hands.

His mouth.

And one week ago they had been kissing someone else. Holding someone else. Touching someone else.

Izzy felt like a bucket of ice water had been dumped on her, freezing her movement. She pushed Tanner away and scooted to the far corner of the mattress. She grabbed her shirt and held it against her chest. Why didn’t I put on a bra, she chastised herself.

Even in the darkness she could see his face fall. “Belle, what’s wrong?”

“I can’t.” She sobbed and gripped the shirt tighter against herself. She waved her free hand in a sweeping gesture. “Tanner, this is beautiful and perfect and you gave me the most amazing gift. . . but I can’t stop thinking about her. And you.” Her heart splintered. “And you don’t feel like mine anymore.”

She tugged her shirt on over her head, jumped out of the truck, and ran towards the dimly lit house in the distance as fast as she could.

Purchase Links:

Universal Amazon link: https://books2read.com/u/38xrJw

Publisher: http://www.limitlesspublishing.com/product/meant-to-be-kept/

Nice! Great sexiness and drama. Gotta love this sneak peek. ♥♥♥

So, what are people saying about this book?

A beautiful established romance with an HEA to make you swoon. While we watch Tanner fight for his wife in the present, we also see the sweet evolution of their love from their college-aged POVs. It’s one helluva ride, and one I highly recommend you take for yourself.” – Evie Drae, Amazon

Fantastically emotional debut. This past to present, heart-wrenching, beautifully written story drops us into the action from page one. It took hold of me and had me flipping through the pages to see how Tanner and IF Tanner could rekindle the love that was threaded through. I loved the idea of this story, that we get into the grind of daily life and need to remember to cherish what’s precious.
Izzy is the perfect lead, flawed, a little broken but wonderfully relatable. Tanner, despite his mistake, is swoon worthy. And their chemistry leaps off the page.
This book has everything: The feels that run the scale of tears to joy. Hot sex between a married couple – THANK YOU, Ms. Foster. A believable and deep plot. And two characters who grow and learn on an unstable path.
” – MaritT, Amazon

It’s so rare to read a romance about an established/married couple, which makes this one extra-special. Meant to be Kept is a heartwarming story of a couple who experience a crisis in their marriage and must determine how to move forward, not just to keep their relationship as-is but to strengthen it.” – Michelle O, Amazon

Awesome!

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

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

Author Bio

Books, coffee, and chocolate make up both the heart and body mass that is better known as Amelia Foster. She has been a lifelong lover of the written word, both as a reader and an author, and completed her first manuscript at the ripe old age of five complete with illustrations. Sadly, her art was a medium that never improved over time, although thankfully her writing has.

From sweet to salacious the only requirement Amelia has in books she reads – and definitely in the ones she crafts – is an excessively satisfying happily ever after… and then a little bit more.

Author Links

Website:  https://ameliafosterauthor.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/amelia.foster.1213986

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/afosterauthor

Amazon author page:  https://www.amazon.com/Amelia-Foster/e/B07MG7YBF7/

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18784552.Amelia_Foster

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

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

Publisher:  http://www.limitlesspublishing.com/amelia-foster/

 

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

Happy reading, everyone!🙂

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Filed under Authors, Book News, Book Release, Books, Contemporary, Event, Fiction, New Adult, new release, Readers, Romance, Second Chances

Blog Tour Feature: Moonlight & Moet by Madison Michael

.•*´¨❥¸.•*´¨ NEW RELEASE¸.•*´¨❥¸.•*´¨

Can the hottest man around melt this ice queen’s heart?

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

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

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

Let’s hear a little about this great book…Nice!

This is the blurb for Moonlight & Moet, B&B Billionaire Romance Series, Book 2:

Can the hottest man around melt this ice queen’s heart?

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

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

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

Will the magic of a moonlit night be enough to kindle their love or will Caleb’s constant disappearing act prevent him from melting this ice queen’s heart?

Madison is giving us a peek at her hot contemporary romance, Moonlight & Moet, today.

Great cover!

Book Info:

Genre:  Contemporary Romance, Erotic Romance

Release Date:  November 14, 2018

Here is an excerpt.

Exhausted and anxious to return home, Leigh wasn’t paying attention as she stepped out the door of the small law office at the end of the row of storefronts. Leigh went down hard on the cement, her skirt flying up, her brochures flying. A shook-up Leigh assessed the damage and caught her breath. Her dignity was beyond repair.

Leigh was brushing the dirt from her palms, scraped from trying to break her fall when a shadow blocked the sun, and a large, dirty hand, attached to a long, strong arm reached down to assist her. Leigh’s gaze followed the flannel covered forearm up over a muscled bicep and continued until her scrutiny was arrested by a pair of coffee-colored eyes surrounded by the deep laugh lines of an outdoorsman. He was staring past the expanse of creamy thigh and more than a hint of her magenta panties. His expression told Leigh that he liked what he saw.

Leigh clumsily scrambled to lower her dress, gather the brochures fluttering in the breeze, and take the proffered hand all at once. Several pamphlets escaped down the sidewalk, but she quickly forgot them as she was lifted like a feather against the mountain’s chest and too swiftly placed gently on her feet. She winced when the blisters made contact with the hard surface beneath them and the lumberjack buried behind a grizzly bear beard reacted.

“Injured, little lady?” he asked with concern. “Let me help you get you to urgent care.”

“That won’t be necessary,” Leigh responded, smoothing her dress to cover her embarrassment and interest.

“Then at least let me help you to your destination.”

“I was just heading to my car, down the way,” Leigh tried to gesture with the arm the man still held. “But, I’m fine. Really. I can take it from here.”

“Fine, indeed,” Grizzly Adams replied in a sarcastic, deep baritone.

He was tall, covered in a subtle sheen of dirt and sweat, but Leigh quickly realized the shirt under her fingertips was the finest wool and his boots, caked in an inch of dried mud, were Scarpa Phantom 8000’s. He was a very wealthy Grizzly Adams, and a dedicated hiker too. Those boots were featured in the mountaineering store up the road for over $1000, way too rich for Leigh’s blood.

He stood still, his smile twitching as he caught Leigh checking him out. Then, without warning, he swept her into his arms, carefully adjusted her dress to modestly cover her behind while managing to slide his hand all along them. The man was a pro. Leigh couldn’t fault his effort, even as she realized he was copping a feel. Carrying her easily, he began taking long strides in the direction she had pointed.

“This is completely unnecessary,” Leigh repeated more than once, interspersed with “put me down, please” and “Really, I can walk.” He ignored them all, speaking right over her repeated and flustered objections.

“You took a nasty fall there. People are always missing that last step.” His face was too close and too handsome. He smelled of the outdoors – pine, sweat and sunshine. It was intoxicating.

“Are you sure you wouldn’t prefer I took you over to the doc’s office or the urgent care?”

“Just to my car, thanks,” Leigh requested, done trying to argue with the hard-muscled man. Who was she kidding? It felt incredible to rest against his broad chest, his arms holding her securely and his minty breath blowing on her face. He may have been filthy, a bearded mountain man who was certainly not her type, but he was sexy as hell. Leigh wished her car was miles away.

“Will you be okay to drive, Miss…”

“Leigh.”

“Miss Leigh,” he repeated, caressing her name. “Are you sure you’ll be alright to drive?”

Leigh bobbed her head in the affirmative. She loved resting her head against the power of this man’s chest, secure in his firm grip. Leigh looked up at him from under her eyelashes, admiring what she saw. She could tell that under the caked on mud and scruff, he was handsome, with a cocky smile and those laughing eyes. She wished she could see more.

“This is my car,” she finally motioned. “Thank you, Mr…”

“You’re certain you can drive?” he asked in his slow, smooth drawl, ignoring her question.

“I’m not going far,” Leigh reassured him. “I’ll be fine.”

The mountain man placed Leigh on her feet, holding her by the waist as if waiting for reassurance that she was solidly standing. Leigh looked down as if to assure herself both feet were there and with a deep breath made eye contact. The man was a head taller, broad and powerful, and staring at her as if he wanted to devour her. A hot flush filled Leigh’s cheeks, and she extended a hand to shake his.

“Well, thank you again. You certainly turned out to be my knight in shining armor today,” she jested.

“Well, Miss Leigh, then I guess I get my knight’s favor,” the man responded with a devilish grin. Leigh was still registering his warning when he lowered his head to hers and placed his warm lips upon her cooler ones.

Purchase Links:

Universal Amazon link:  https://bookgoodies.com/a/B07KKFCGGK

OMG! Love it. ♥♥♥

Ooh…what a sexy tale!😉

Madison is giving away a cool prize package worth $75. The winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter. Please use the link below to enter. Don’t forget you have a chance to enter every day, so be sure to visit all the stops on this tour. You may find those locations here.

Giveaway Link:  https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/801c221b81/

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

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

And catch the other book in the series!

Will Love Seal Their Deal?

These look great! ♥ We’ll be sure to check them all out! Don’t miss the giveaway!

Author Bio

Madison Michael is an indie publisher, blogger and the author of the Beguiling Bachelor Series as well as the novella Desire & Dessert, from her sizzling B&B Billionaire Bachelor series.

A Chicago native and hopeless romantic, Maddy was raised on Chicago culture, fairy tales, great literature and swashbuckling movies. Maddy employs that history, writing steamy contemporary romance novels set against the sumptuous backdrop of Chicago’s elite society.

After receiving a BA in Journalism from the University of Illinois and an MBA from Loyola University of Chicago, Madison abandoned her writing to find her way in the corporate business world. Daughter of a librarian, it was inevitable that she would return to the world of books.

Maddy writes from high above Chicago where she can stare at its gorgeous skyline or the shores of Lake Michigan surrounded by feline assistants. When she is not writing, Maddy can be found lost in a book, fighting for the rights of the mentally iil or dining on Chicago’s famous cuisine. Hot dogs and pizza, anyone?

Author Links

Website:  https://www.madisonmichael.net/

Maddy’s Romance Madness:  https://www.madisonmichael.net/category/mrm/

Maddy’s Tours and Treats:  https://www.madisonmichael.net/category/tours-and-treats/

Blog:  https://www.madisonmichael.net/category/maddys-blog

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

Twitter:  https://www.twitter.com/madisonmichael_

Amazon Author Page:  https://www.amazon.com/Madison-Michael/e/B01EVUGG6G/

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15221601.Madison_Michael

BookBub:  https://www.bookbub.com/authors/madison-michael

Google+:  https://plus.google.com/114505272634052451507

 

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

Thanks again to Madison and her blog tour sponsor!

We hope to see you back on ILRB sometime. 

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

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Filed under Authors, Blogging, Book Release, Books, Contemporary, Erotica, Event, Fiction, Gifts, giveaway, new release, Readers, Romance, steamy, Writing

Exclusive Interview with author Karina Bartow, plus a look at contemporary romance, FORGETTING MY WAY BACK TO YOU!

Hi, readers! I am beyond pleased to announce a very special post today on ILRB. We’re doing something a little different. This is our third 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 the talented author of contemporary romance, Forgetting My Way Back to You. Please join me in welcoming Karina Bartow to ILRB! 🙂

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

Author Karina Bartow:  Hi, Marie! I really enjoy your blog and your love of romance.

Marie:  Aww, thanks! It’s such a pleasure to see 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…

Karina:  I’m a full-time author, and I write love stories and mysteries. I enjoy it very much, but you’ll have to ask my readers if I’m good at it!

Marie:  (Laughs.) I’m sure your books are great, at least judging by what I’ve noticed so far. 😉

So, tell us…what is your family like?

Karina:  My parents have been married for forty-five years, and I have an older sister. She and her husband have an eleven-year-old son, so I enjoy being an aunt.

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?

Karina:  It was a simple ranch when I was born, but we added a second story and turned it into a Cape Cod style. We live in the country with an acre of land, which gives me good space to drive my prized possession, my golf cart.

Marie:  Awesome!

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

Karina:  Like any girl, I love to shop, but I have a sporty side, too, and I’m a big baseball fan. I also really enjoy listening to music and reading.

Marie:  Wow! Such an eclectic blend of pastimes!

Shopping is my Achilles heel. If I have any spare money, I can get myself into trouble 😉

So…what is your greatest dream?

Karina:  To have a family of my own.

Marie:  Oh, me too! I can’t have biological children, so when my fiancé and I get married, we’ll have to get a little creative.

The closest I’ve come so far is adopting kitties. 😛

But I think life has a way of surprising you just when you need it the most. ♥

Let’s try another question.

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

Karina:  I wish I could be someone who, as they say, doesn’t sweat the small stuff. I don’t know what holds me back. Probably age and circumstances.

Marie:  I know what you mean…I wish I could be a bit more casual about everything. I can get too serious about the stuff going on in my life.

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

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

Karina:  Dean Cain in his Lois & Clark days. Needless to say, it was unrequited!

Marie:  (Laughs.) OMG, how did I forget that? I was nuts about him when I watched that show. Those dimples were to die for! 😉

Let’s try something else now.

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

Karina:  Frankly, my disability. I was born with Cerebral Palsy and have tried to make the most of my life, but it affects every part of it. I don’t wallow in that, but I can’t say I’m thankful for it, either.

Marie:  Oh, no! 😥 I’m so sorry you have to deal with that, and I can’t blame you for getting discouraged. I have epilepsy, and I’ve definitely had to shape my life around that disability.

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

[Karina 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?

Karina:  To be a published author, and of course, I did achieve it!  It hasn’t been what I expected in that it’s not as glamorous as Hollywood makes it look. Unless you’re well-known, you don’t get a nationwide book tour or a call from Oprah. Authors have to put in a lot of time marketing their work, but I’ve come to enjoy that.Marie:  True enough! I don’t think most people realize how difficult it is to make a name for yourself in the publishing world.

So, who is your role model, Karina?

Karina:  My parents.

Marie:  Lovely! I know my folks were definitely an influence on my outlook with regards to how ‘love’ should be, and I can blame them for my interest in writing romance. At least a little. (Chuckles.)

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

Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?

Karina:  Nobody truly likes everyone they meet, but I try to be polite, regardless. Some test that, though!

Marie:  For sure! But I like your attitude…we need more of that in the world these days. 😀

Let’s try another question.

What is your deepest desire?

Karina:  To be faithful to God.

Marie:  All right.

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

Karina:  Clowns!

Marie: 😯 Wow, I didn’t see that one coming! Though I guess they are a bit freaky.

I want to try something different next, Karina… 

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, Charlee Stoll. Quite an interesting character. Can you tell us a little about her?

Karina:  Charlee works as a physical therapist at a senior center, where her dad lives. She moonlights as a trainer for her alma mater’s football team. At age 29, she’s still single, quietly holding a torch for her high school sweetheart.

Marie:  Nice! I love second chance stories!

So, what are your character’s greatest strengths?

Karina:  She’s loyal and devoted to her family.

Marie:  Commendable, of course!

And what are her greatest weaknesses?

Karina:  She can act in haste, which sometimes leads to disaster.

Marie:  Okay…

Let’s try something fun, shall we?

What are some of her favorite foods?

Karina:  Brownies, coffee, and ice cream—anything sweet!

Marie:  (Chuckles.) Oh, I definitely have a sweet tooth too!

How about another question?

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

Karina:  She’s open-minded and trusts people, often giving them the benefit of the doubt.

Marie:  Not such a bad trait!

Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?

Karina:  I hope they’ll like her because of her mix of innocence, tenacity, and caring nature.

Marie:  Works for me!

Now that we have a real taste of Charlee, 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 Forgetting My Way Back to You?

Karina:  Forgetting My Way Back to You is comprised of parts of my first book, which was about a woman who developed selective amnesia after a head trauma. As young as I was—eighteen—when I started, I’d already experienced some events I wouldn’t have minded forgetting, just to be free of that baggage. Thus, like many stories, it began with the elusive ‘What if?’.

Marie:  Gotcha! Many of my stories launched that way.

Interesting how the muse works, huh?

Let’s try something else.

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

Karina:  Pantster all the way! I enjoyed improv in high school drama class, and that’s how I write. It’s all extemporaneous. I think on where I am in the story throughout my day and sit down with a generic idea of where I want to go, but I never know the details until I’m in the moment.

Marie:  Sounds like quite a ride!

How about another question?

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

Karina:  It took me nine years from the time I started it to when I signed the contract, so it was a long process. As far as writing it went, I couldn’t find satisfaction in it for a good while, and I think my maturity level played into that. I didn’t have enough experience to write good conflict, so it kept coming out as pretty childish. All in all, though, I wouldn’t change it because I learned a lot about myself and my craft.

Marie:  I know what you mean. My first historical romance took me nine years to write too, and I definitely matured as a woman throughout the experience. 

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 Forgetting My Way Back to You appears to be. Congratulations on your new release, since it just came out in mid-October!

Readers, you will just have to pick up a copy of this modern romance by Karina Bartow, a talented author! :)

Here is the blurb for Forgetting My Way Back to You:

When Charlee Stoll loses all memory of him, Hunter Jett knows his mistakes led to this moment. Though tempted to give up on their future together, he’s determined to use the twist to right his wrongs.

Through charm and deception, can he win back her love…before she discovers the truth?

Karina is also offering us a peek of the book!

After finishing off the Tuscan chicken and other treats from the buffet table, Hunter and Charlee wandered outside to look at the estate’s breathtaking gardens. In the last seconds of daylight, the colorful flowers’ bright petals stood out under the darkening sky. The staff members around them were busy deconstructing the sites where the two ceremonies had taken place and didn’t notice them at all. A few other guests strolled the grounds, too, but on such a large property, they crossed paths just once with each of them, leaving them alone for the most part.

They came upon a stone bridge, which no doubt had played a part in many weddings and photos over the years, and the two stopped to observe the scene. With the sun dipping out of sight, the stars came out in full display. The lit-up mansion softened the aura of everything that much more, showcasing the late Pennsylvania summer at its best.

“I didn’t think it could look any more beautiful,” Charlee mused aloud.

Hunter wanted to tell her that he thought the same every time he saw her, but he feared it would intimidate her.

“How’d you know about this place, anyways?”

He contemplated his reply, again worrying his honest answer would force her away, but he took the chance. “My grandfather took my grandma here on their first date, and because he’d heard the story of how it swept her off her feet, my dad gave it a try with Mom. Considering that my grandparents stayed together for over sixty years and my folks just celebrated their thirtieth, I figured it’d be a good choice. It beats taking you to a dance where everyone’s pushing us apart, at least.”

“Yes, that’s where we went wrong,” she joked. “But can crashing a wedding set us up much better?”

Hunter chuckled and shrugged his shoulders. “Well, if my family’s tradition doesn’t work out, maybe your dad’s motto will come true: ‘It isn’t about the way you started…’”

“‘It’s the way you finish that matters.’” She completed the proverb her dad had drilled into her head since her days of learning to walk.

He gave her a considering look, trying to discern how far he should take the romancing, before he extended his hand. “Speaking of which…”

She’d resisted taking his hand the whole evening, but she relented, letting him lead her back towards the carriage house. He veered off to the side instead of going into the building, where they could hear the opening words of ‘Wonderful Tonight’ playing inside. He took hold of her, and they danced under the moon the way they had years earlier.

“Was any of this an accident?”

“I may have made a request to the deejay,” he remarked with a grin. “Other than that, though, I could only hope you’d agree to come here with me. That said, I don’t think you and I being together can ever be called an accident.”

History repeated itself once more when he leaned in to kiss her. The same sparks flew, but this time, they glowed brighter.

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

Purchase Links:

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

Publisher:  https://www.vinspirepublishing.com/forgettingmywabacktoyou

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

About Karina Bartow

Karina Bartow grew up and still lives in Northern Ohio. Though born with Cerebral Palsy, she’s never allowed her disability to define her. Rather, she’s used her experiences to breathe life into characters that have physical limitations, but like her, are determined not to let them stand in the way of the life they want. Her debut novel, Husband in Hiding, was released in 2015 and was well-received by readers. She’s excited about her new love story, Forgetting My Way Back to You, available now from Vinspire Publishing. She may only be able to type with one hand, but she writes with her whole heart!

Books:

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

Website:  http://www.karinabartow.com/

Blog:  https://karinabartow.wordpress.com/

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

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/KarinaBartow

Amazon Author Page:  https://www.amazon.com/Karina-Bartow/e/B076L4FCGV/

https://amzn.to/2RyZIz9

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15045283.Karina_Bartow

Google+:   https://plus.google.com/117505120642906778021

Once again, I want to thank Karina Bartow, 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 Release, Books, characters, Contemporary, Event, Fiction, Guest Writer, Interview, new release, Readers, Romance, Second Chances, small town, Writing

A Character Interview with Darryl from BLESSED plus a conversation with author Maggie Blackbird!

Today, we’re doing something a little different. I know it’s been a while since we did one of these. If you remember, we interviewed Amber Daulton’s character back on June 7th, and it was so fun that I thought we may as well make an occasional habit of it. I had the pleasure of meeting Maggie Blackbird, the author of Blessed, on my author journey and I asked if I could borrow a character, Darryl Keejik, from the book. We’ll get a chance to talk to Maggie in a bit, but now we have on the stage…Darryl!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Character Darryl Keejik:  Thank you for having me, Marie.

Marie:  Of course! It’s my pleasure!

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

Darryl:  Sure.

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

Darryl:  I’m the self-governance coordinator for the reserve. I’d say I’m very good at what I do. I’ve been in this field since I graduated university. I’ve worked for two other aboriginal organizations in Winnipeg before I returned home to Ottertail Lake to help my Ojibway community work towards developing their own model for governing the band.

Marie:  All right.

So, tell us…what is your family like?

Darryl:  There’s only my aunt and I. I’ll leave it at that.

Marie:  Okay…I sense there’s a story here, but I won’t push.

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?

Darryl:  It’s one of the first homes built on the reserve, made from logs and constructed by my great-grandfather. My grandfather installed the hardwood floors. It’s nothing elaborate. A simple two-bedroom home with a wood-burning stove for heat.

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

Darryl:  I enjoy fishing, hunting, trapping, hiking, and camping. I’m an outdoorsman at heart.

Marie: Nice!

So, what is your greatest dream?

Darryl:  For the Anishinaabe Nation to become a sovereign nation as we once were before.

Marie:  (Nods.) I see…

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

Darryl:  I wish I could be more forgiving, but after what my people experienced at the hands of the government and religious institutions, it’s a little hard to be that person.

Marie: That makes sense.

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

Who was your first love?

Darryl:  Emery Matawapit.

Marie: Aww. I love romance. ♥

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

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

Darryl:  Losing my whole family in a boating accident. My parents were drunk, going for supplies. I was at home with my aunt, only four, and too young to go.

Marie:  Oh, no! I’m so sorry! 😥

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

[Darryl 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?

Darryl:  As I said, my dream was to help my people become a sovereign nation. I’m still working on that dream. It’s a little hard to achieve when band members at our reserve practice different…spiritual ways and have differing beliefs, such as the Matawapit family.

Marie:  I understand.

So, who is your role model, Darryl?

Darryl:  Basil Skunk. He’s the elder for the Traditionalists Society.

Marie: Okay.

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

Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?

Darryl:  I tolerate Deacon Matawapit. We play our little game of politeness.

Marie:  Let’s try another question.

What is your deepest desire?

Darryl:  A family of my own.

Marie:  Oh, yes, I think a lot of people want that…

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

Darryl:  That I’ll never have a family of my own.

Marie: I have that fear as well. Having kids would be almost impossible for me medically, unless I decide to adopt.

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

Well, it looks like we’re out of time. Thank you for visiting us today, Darryl. 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 Maggie Blackbird on the stage today. It’s such a pleasure to have you here! Hello, Maggie!

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

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

So, we just got to talk to a male character from your story, Darryl Keejik. Quite an interesting character. He’s a little tight-lipped and stoic. Can you tell us more about him?

Maggie:  Well, as you can see, your interview hit a few nerves with Darryl. He’s having some problems reconciling the past with the present. He’s an inter-generational survivor of the Indian Residential Schools. But I’m rooting for him. Darryl’s a fighter. He won’t give up.

Marie:  Admirable, of course!

So, what are your character’s greatest strengths?

Maggie:  His ability to lead. Although Darryl’s stubborn and opinionated, he has a great ability to listen, once he gets past his anger.

Marie:  Oh, we could definitely use better listening skills in the world. Everyone is all ready to jump at the next person for each little thing.

And what are your character’s greatest weaknesses?

Maggie:  His inability to forgive. Darryl holds on to past hurts. He’s all about the grudge.

Marie:  Ah. Well, I’m sure some of our readers can relate. It’s not always easy to let go.

Let’s try something fun, shall we?

What are some of Darryl’s favorite foods?

Maggie:  Darryl loves his aunt’s homemade moose stew and bannock. He also enjoys a good shore lunch of walleye, pan-fried potatoes, and corn when he’s out on the lake.

Marie:  Sounds delicious!

How about another question?

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

Maggie:  Darryl doesn’t realize how much love he has to offer others. His resentments stop him from becoming a great leader, because he sincerely loves his people and wants to see them succeed.

Marie:  All right.

Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?

Maggie:  It’s a little hard to say.  Some enjoy Darryl, others find him a bit of a jerk at the beginning of the book. Darryl’s an emotional and passionate man with a big chip on his shoulder. His childhood wasn’t the greatest, growing up without a family and raised by his alcoholic aunt who’s an extremely bitter woman. I’d say she passed on a lot of her bitterness to Darryl.

Marie: Okay, that makes sense…

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

What first gave you the idea for Blessed?

Maggie:  I come up with ideas based on the problems the Indigenous People of Canada face. Then I put a spin of “what if” on it.

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

Let’s try something else.

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

Maggie:  I call myself a planster – part panster and part planner. I always have a logline and blurb, my GMC, character arc, and sketches done. But I’m no BIG planner down to the details of chapter goals, scene goals, et cetera. The characters determine those.

Marie:  Nice!

How about another question?

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

Maggie:  Finding a publisher was hard because Blessed doesn’t fit a specific niche, and publishers do have their niches. It’s heavy on religion and spirituality, but doesn’t fit inspirational or Christian fiction because there are some very explicit adult sexual scenes, and profanity. As for doing anything differently, it is what it is. Darryl and Emery wrote their story, and I typed what they had to say. I’m not a writer. I take dictation for my characters. LOL!

Marie:  (Smiles.) Yeah…sometimes I think the characters are directing the story more than I am.

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 Blessed appears to be.

Readers, you will just have to pick up a copy of this sexy MM multicultural romance with a slight inspirational angle by Maggie Blackbird, a very talented author! :)

Here is the blurb for Blessed, book one of the Matawapit Family Series:

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

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

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

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

An erotic spiritual journey…

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

“You see what?” Darryl slapped his thigh. “Dammit, I’m trying to figure out why Basil asked me to talk to you first, instead of Clayton and the kids, ‘cause I knew we’d end up argu—”

“Basil asked you to speak to me?” Great, Darryl hadn’t phoned on his own accord. The elder had forced him to meet Emery.

“Yeah.”

A coward slunk away. A man of courage fought for what he wanted. Emery stood tall. “I appreciate your consideration. Why’d you listen to Basil?”

Darryl continued to glare.

Emery forced a chuckle. Maybe teasing would relieve the tension between them. “I’ve never known you to listen to anyone.”

“I always listen to Basil.” Darryl’s tone could cut rocks.

The anger permeating the air had nothing to do with Clayton, the protest, or Annie. Emery sucked in a breath. “What do you want me to do? Take off my clothes? Is that what I have to do to make you happy?”

“Sarcasm isn’t what I expected from you.” Darryl cocked his brow. “Fine. Take them off. Take them all off. If you need help, I got two willing hands.”

Ripe heat kissed the flesh buried beneath Emery’s underwear. His skin shimmered hot and cold. “I guess… guess I was right.”

“Wrong.”

As Darryl continued to glare, an irritating prickle sprang up at the nape of Emery’s neck. He scratched the mosquito bite.

Darryl turned and stomped around the four-wheeler, his breaths huffing and puffing. “I promised myself I wouldn’t behave like Saint Kateri’s father did. The thing is—I am.”

His face reddened. He kicked the rear wheel of the machine. “You make me so goddamned mad. Fine. I’ll let the youth down. I’ll let Clayton and the Traditionalists Society call me a traitor. And I’ll most likely lose the next election ‘cause I tossed my integrity out the door. Bottom line. I’ll do anything to make you happy. You come before anything that means everything to me.”

Darryl dug out his keys. “And even though I put your feelings first, I don’t expect you to do the same. Go ahead and love your god till the end of time.”

Had a tornado torn through the powwow grounds? This wasn’t how they were supposed to resolve the problem. Emery forced out the words caught in his throat. “Wh-what are you talking about?”

Darryl slid onto the four-wheeler. He jammed the key into the ignition. The engine roared to life. His eyes matched the snarl of the machine. “I’m voting in favor of paying the church’s hydro bill.”

When he revved the throttle, Emery leapt forward. “Oh, no you don’t. You’re not leaving me to eat dust again.” He clamped his hand over Darryl’s.

“You said you’re voting for the church to make me happy.” Emery kept his hand put or he might get run over. “As much as I appreciate what you’re doing, I won’t let you compromise your beliefs. My savior wouldn’t approve. Neither do I. I can’t be happy at another’s expense. At your expense.”

“And what about the people you spoke about earlier?” Darryl’s hand tensed beneath Emery’s. “Your parents? The others who go to church? If you let me vote, they’ll be happy. Don’t they count?”

“The Lord is their savior. They wouldn’t want you to compromise your beliefs, either.” Emery squeezed Darryl’s fingers. “Please, listen to me.”

Jaw clenched, Darryl scowled at the sky.

A few seconds passed. Emery’s heart ceased to beat for a moment. Now what was going through the head of the most stubborn person in the world?

“You got a million mosquitoes swarming you.” The fire in Darryl’s eyes vanished. “We can finish talking at my place.”

Emery’s heart swelled. His happiness did come first. Wait a second. He couldn’t go to the house. People would talk—especially the protesters. For sure they’d call Darryl a traitor.

The word no sat on the tip of Emery’s tongue. He swallowed. If he objected, he’d offend Darryl again. “‘Sure.”

Intriguing! Love the tension. ♥♥♥ Can’t wait to read this book…🙂

Purchase Links:

Universal Reader link:  https://books2read.com/u/4AYy8o

Publisher:  http://www.extasybooks.com/maggie-blackbird/978-1-4874-1973-8-blessed/

Add it to your Goodreads bookshelf:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40722164-blessed

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

About Maggie Blackbird

An Ojibway from Northwestern Ontario, Maggie resides in the country with her husband and their fur babies, two beautiful Alaskan Malamutes. When she’s not writing, she can be found pulling weeds in the flower beds, mowing the huge lawn, walking the Mals deep in the bush, teeing up a ball at the golf course, fishing in the boat for walleye, or sitting on the deck at her sister’s house, making more wonderful memories with the people she loves most.

Book:

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

Website/Blog:  http://maggieblackbird.com/

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

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/BlackbirdMaggie/

Amazon Author Page:  https://amzn.to/2CJUAEs

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18176196.Maggie_Blackbird

Google+:  https://plus.google.com/105368516440582848319

LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/maggie-blackbird-032798169/

BookBub:  https://www.bookbub.com/profile/maggie-blackbird

Publisher:  http://www.extasybooks.com/maggie-blackbird/

 

Once again, I want to thank both of our guests, Darryl, a male character from Blessed, and Maggie Blackbird, the brilliant author of the novel, for stopping by! It was a pleasure to have you here! 😀

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Filed under Authors, Books, Character Interview, characters, Contemporary, Erotica, Event, Faith, family, Fiction, Guest Writer, Interview, LGBT, Multicultural/Interracial, Readers, Romance, Writing