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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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Filed under Action & Adventure, Authors, Blogging, Book News, Book Release, Books, characters, Contemporary, Event, Fiction, Guest Writer, Interview, MC and biker romance, new release, Readers, Romance, Romantic Suspense, Writers, Writing

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And Amber is giving us a peek at her novel!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author Links

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

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

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/AmberDaulton1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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

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

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

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

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

Author Faye Hall:  Hi, Marie!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s try something else, okay?

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

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

Marie:  Nice!

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

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

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

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

Marie:  I’m with you there! ♥

Let’s try another question.

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

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

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

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

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

Marie:  All right.

Let’s try something else now.

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

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

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

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

[Faye nods.]

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

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

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

(Sighs.) I love romance. ♥

So, who is your role model, Faye?

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

Marie:  That’s great! 

Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?

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

Marie:  I know what you mean…

Let’s try another question.

What is your deepest desire?

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

Marie:  Sounds like a plan!

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

Faye:  Losing my family.

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

So, I want to try something different next… 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marie:  What are your character’s greatest strengths?

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

Marie:  Admirable!

And what are his greatest weaknesses?

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

Marie:  Okay…

Let’s try something fun, shall we?

What are some of his favorite foods?

Faye:  Mutton of pork.

Marie:  How about another question?

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

Faye:  His loyalty.

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

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

Marie:  Great!

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

What first gave you the idea for Wrath & Mercy?

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

Marie:  Interesting how the muse works, huh? 😉

Let’s try something else.

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

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

Marie:  All right.

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

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

Marie:  Sounds like a plan!

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

Here is the blurb:

Would you show mercy to the lover who deserted you?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Faye is also offering us a teaser from the book!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Purchase Links:

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

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

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

About Faye Hall

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

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

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

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

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

Books:

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

 

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

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

Blog Tour Feature: Indigo Knights Series by A.J. Downey

I am pleased to announce a cool book blog tour going on right now, presented by A.J. Downey, an author I met during my journey! Congratulations on your contemporary romance series! :)

When a series is completed, it is both a thrilling and bittersweet time for authors!

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

Let’s hear a little about this MC romance series…

Such great covers!

Let’s learn a little more about the Indigo Knights Series…

This is the blurb for Her Thin Blue Lifeline, book one:

Chrissy Franco has every reason to take one hell of a victory lap around the courtroom. She’s just defended her client to the best of her ability and what’s more? Her client was actually innocent. Oh, she’d killed her husband, baseball legend Skip Maguire, alright; but he’d been about to hit a homerun with Miranda’s head.

His rabid fan base doesn’t agree with the verdict, and they’ve set their sights on Chrissy as the one to blame. One of them is about to set into motion a dangerous game when he publishes poor Chrissy’s address online…

Enter Tony McCormick, a detective with the right kind of attitude and Chrissy’s sort of ex-boyfriend. When he’s called to Chrissy’s apartment, he’s prepared for the worst. He’s a homicide detective after all. When he arrives, it seems that someone might have forgotten to check to see if Chrissy was still alive… now it’s everything he can do to find the man who did this and the other behind it all before it’s really too late.

Book Info:

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Keywords: contemporary romance, second chance, MC romance, mystery, suspense

Length: Novel

Release Date: June 28, 2017

Publisher: Second Circle Press

Cover Artist: Dar Albert at Wicked Smart Designs

Here are some teasers to entice you with.

Purchase Link:

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

Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/38310257-her-thin-blue-lifeline

This is the blurb for His Cold Blue Command, book two:

Assistant District Attorney Damien Parnell leads a double life above and beyond his membership with the Indigo Knights. Driven by dark desires considered shameful by most, he covets the one thing he can’t allow himself to have – a real relationship.

Enter Ally Blaylock, an innocent by Yale’s standards. She’s the sweet and beautiful girl who makes his coffee at the café across the street from his office. She’s done her best to flirt off and on with the high powered attorney and he can’t help but be drawn to her whimsical charm.

When Ally finds her world tipped on its axis, Yale goes against his better judgment and offers her some unlikely help. He knows better than most that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, but in this particular case, could it be the opposite? Could Allison Blaylock be the start down the road to his salvation?

Book Info:

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Keywords: contemporary romance, MC romance

Length: Novel

Heat Level: Steamy, some BDSM

Release Date: November 7, 2017

Publisher: Second Circle Press

Cover Artist: Dar Albert at Wicked Smart Designs

Here are some teasers…

Purchase Link:

Universal Reader link:  https://books2read.com/u/38xZQ6

Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36380279-his-cold-blue-command

This is the blurb for A Low Blue Flame, book three:

Lillian Banks’ career took off like a house on fire and she’s on top of the world. Great job that she loves, moved to a great city, into an opulent new condo, in one of the world’s premier smart buildings no less; all she was missing was the kind of romance to set her soul aflame. She thought she’d found it but instead, found herself burned.

Backdraft knows what it’s like to get burned and not just by fire. His ex, Torri, did quite the number on him recently by banging one of his firehouse bros behind his back. He’s sworn off love and dating altogether for the time being and is happier for it. He just wishes he could get the time he wasted with that crazy skank back again.

Out of the ashes, an unlikely friendship is formed. Backdraft and Lilli could find themselves rising if only they can get past their hurts and give things a chance. Of course, lasting happiness is no guarantee, no matter how much they might burn for each other. After all, sometimes what was doesn’t want to let go.

Book Info:

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Keywords: contemporary romance, MC romance

Length: Novel

Release Date: May 22, 2018

Publisher: Second Circle Press

Cover Artist: Dar Albert at Wicked Smart Designs

Some more teasers…

Purchase Link:

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

Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40015086-a-low-blue-flame

This is the blurb for His Wild Blue Rose, book four:

Alyssa isn’t completely honest when she answers the ad for a roommate online. True, she needs a place to live; true, she’s getting a divorce; true, he’s a cheating jerk. There’s just a little bit more to it than that. So when the ad comes across her screen Indigo City beat cop looking to rent out a fully furnished room… she jumps on it, because what could be safer than living with a cop?

Golden isn’t too keen on living with a chick, but after posting online looking for a roommate, he’s found the pickings are slim. The softly spoken brunette doesn’t seem like she’s much trouble, plus she’s got the cash up front, so what the hell? She’ll just have to get over his bringing home badge bunnies from the 10-13. He’s got a stressful job, and the best way to blow off steam, in his estimation, is hot sex.

It’s a pressure cooker waiting to blow and it turns out the new roomie has moxie, which gets Golden to thinking, which leads to him feeling. This is either going to be a really good or a really bad idea.

Book Info:

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Keywords: contemporary romance, MC romance

Length: Novel

Release Date: July 17, 2017

Publisher: Second Circle Press

Cover Artist: Dar Albert at Wicked Smart Designs

Quite a few teasers for you to enjoy…

Purchase Link:

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

Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40390125-his-wild-blue-rose

This is the blurb for Her Pained Blue Silence, book five:

Everleigh has had a wandering spirit since the day she was born. Her boring, small town could barely contain her and at the first opportunity, she fled. It was only natural falling in line with the freedom that MC life brought to her. The allure of never being told what to do a strong one. Sadly, she found herself trading one cage for another. Given the road name Silence, for her shy lack of voice, she’s been a part of a motorcycle gang out of Maryland. A rough and tumble lot believing in sovereignty, running guns and drugs through Indigo City.

Narcos has been undercover with the outlaw MC, the Knights of Crescentia for more than a year. In that time, he’s seen and heard all sorts of things, except for Silence’s voice. She’s the president’s Ol’ Lady and probably knows infinitely more than he does as a prospect to the club. All that is about to change. Narcos is about to be patched in. Unfortunately, patching in means going to an extreme he’d never thought he’d be pushed to and Silence is in the crosshairs.

How will he get through this, through to her, and keep them both alive?

Book Info:

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Keywords: contemporary romance, MC romance, suspense

Length: Novel

Release Date: January 22, 2019

Publisher: Second Circle Press

Cover Artist: Dar Albert at Wicked Smart Designs

More teasers for you…

Purchase Link:

Universal Reader link:  https://books2read.com/u/b6x8O6

Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42975298-her-pained-blue-silence

✫✶•Releasing in April•✫✶

 

This is the blurb for A Code Blue Call, book six:

It was a dark night of the soul for Angel, the night she appeared like his namesake. He would have liked to have known her, but she was gone the next morning. Now, more than a year later, he was doing much better, continuing his work in Indigo City’s streets as a paramedic, responding to medical emergencies.

Claire could never forget the medic whose life she saved just by being in the right place at the right time. Still, it wasn’t enough to rescue her from her own dark night of the soul and unlike him, she followed through.

Fate had other ideas for the both of them and for whatever reason, their paths crossed again at exactly the right moment. Both of them were now determined to not let this second chance pass them by, not like the first…

Book Info:

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Keywords: contemporary romance, second chance, MC romance

Length: Novel

Release Date: April 16, 2019

Publisher: Second Circle Press

Cover Artist: Dar Albert at Wicked Smart Designs

A few teasers…

Pre-order Link:

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

Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43563810-a-code-blue-call

Love the tension and the steam in this series. ♥♥♥

 

Plus, A.J. is giving away a $25 Amazon gift card during this tour. Follow the book tour HERE for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!

 

.•°GIVEAWAY LINK°•.

https://www.silverdaggertours.com/sdsxx-tours/indigo-knights-book-tour-and-giveaway

 

Thank you for telling us about your new steamy MC romance, A.J.!

I know I can’t wait to read this sexy series! 🙂

Readers, don’t forget to pick up a copy of the Indigo Knights Series!

Author Bio

A.J. Downey is a born and raised Seattle, WA native. She finds inspiration from her surroundings, through the people she meets and likely as a byproduct of way too much caffeine.

She has lived many places and done many things though mostly through her own imagination…

An avid reader all of her life, it’s now her turn to try and give back a little, entertaining as she has been entertained. She lives in a small apartment in a quiet neighborhood with a larger than life fiancé and two cats.

Thank you for telling us about your awesome book tour! I know readers can’t wait to get ahold of this delicious and suspenseful MC romance series!

And don’t forget to enter the cool giveaway!

Thanks again to A.J. and her blog tour sponsor!

We hope to see you back on ILRB sometime. 

Happy reading, everyone!  ♥♥♥

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Filed under Authors, Blogging, Book News, Book Release, Books, coming soon, Contemporary, Event, Fiction, giveaway, MC and biker romance, Mystery, Readers, Romance, Romantic Suspense, Second Chances, steamy, Tour, Writing

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

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

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

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

Author Lisa Doughty:  Hi, Marie!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marie:  Good point!

Let’s try something else, okay?

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

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

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

Marie:  Okay.

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

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

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

So…what is your greatest dream?

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

Marie:  Nice! ♥

Let’s try another question.

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

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

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

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

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

Marie:  So true…

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

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

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

Let’s try something else now.

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

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

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

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

[Lisa nods.]

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

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

Marie: All right.

So, who is your role model, Lisa?

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

Marie:  Okay. 

Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?

Lisa:  Same answer!

Marie:  Gotcha! Your approach is refreshing. 😀

Let’s try another question.

What is your deepest desire?

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

Marie:  Sounds like a plan!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We’ve heard rumors about the heroine of your story, Lady Cordelia Cromwell, Countess of Middleton Park. Quite an interesting character. Can you tell us a little about her?

 

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

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

So, what are your character’s greatest strengths?

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

Marie:  Resourceful!

And what are her greatest weaknesses?

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

Marie:  Okay…

Let’s try something fun, shall we?

What are some of her favorite foods?

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

Marie:  (Chuckles.) Nice!

How about another question?

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

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

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

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

Marie:  Works for me!

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

What first gave you the idea for The Countess?

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

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

Interesting how the muse works, huh?

Let’s try something else.

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

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

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

Marie:  Sounds good!

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

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

Here is the initial blurb for The Countess:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Lady Drayson, welcome to Middleton Park.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Intriguing!

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

Here is the blurb:

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

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

Lisa is also offering us a teaser from the book!

“There she is!”

“Where?”

“There!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

****

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Purchase Links:

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

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

About Lisa Doughty

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

Books:

Coming Soon:

 

Available Now:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top Valentine’s Day Traditions around the World: a guest post by Dating Connections

Top Valentine’s Day Traditions around the World

 

To some people, Valentine’s Day is just a ‘Hallmark holiday’, while others take it very seriously.

Created by Freepik

Judging by the traditions discussed below, it’s clear that Valentine’s Day celebrations have been present around the world a lot longer than Hallmark has been in business. Today, we go over some of those traditions and what single women used to do on ‘Lovers’ Day’ to attract the opposite sex in the hopes of marrying. It’s a good thing girls don’t throw mass bonfires in anger due to rejection anymore like they used to do in France and try to find love online in a much more peaceful manner instead! 😉

France

Viewed by many as one of the most romantic countries in the world, it’s no wonder that people have celebrated Valentine’s Day or ‘Lovers’ Day’ for centuries in France. It’s possible that the first Valentine’s Day card originated in France when Charles, Duke of Orleans, sent love letters to his wife while imprisoned at the Tower of London in 1415.

Another rather peculiar French tradition was the ‘loterie d’amour’ or ‘drawing for love’. Men and women would fill houses that faced one another, and then take turns calling out to one another and creating couples. Men who weren’t satisfied with their match could reject it and leave with another woman, and the women who were left without a match would later gather for a bonfire.

During the bonfire, women burned pictures of the men who wronged them and cursed the opposite sex.

Created by alexeyzhilkin – Freepik.com

This tradition became so violent that it was eventually banned by the government.

Paris is the city of love so it’s only natural that it’s had a number of traditions where sweethearts openly confessed their love despite the fact that some of them are now prohibited. The love locks tradition was very popular up until a few years ago and it was characterized by couples in love inscribing their names or initials on a padlock, attaching it to a public structure, usually a bridge, and throwing away the key – permanently sealing their love. The Pont des Arts was everyone’s favorite site for attaching the love locks, but in May 2015 the city council decided to remove all 45 tons of them because they were an eyesore and detrimental to the city’s architecture.

10mosttoday.com

Italy

Much like their French counterparts, Italians have long celebrated Valentine’s Day but originally the celebrations were part of the Spring Festival. In the early days, young people in love would gather in gardens and similar places to enjoy poetry readings and music before going for a walk with their beloved.

Another old Valentine’s Day tradition in Italy was for young, unmarried girls to wake up before dawn to spot their future husbands. The belief was that the first man they saw on Valentine’s Day would become their husband within a year or at least he would strongly resemble their future husband.

Today, Italians in love exchange gifts and romantic dinners. One of the most popular gifts is Baci Perugina, which are small hazelnuts covered in chocolate and wrapped in paper with a romantic quote printed on it in four languages.

Brazil

Given that the carnival takes place in February or March each year, Brazilians skip the February 14th celebrations but don’t skip celebrating ‘Lover’s Day’ or ‘Dia dos Namorados’ on June 12th.

They exchange chocolates, flowers, and cards, and enjoy music festivals and performances held throughout the country. Also, Brazilians exchange gifts with their friends and family as well.

Finally, the following day is Saint Anthony’s Day, which honors St. Anthony, the patron saint of marriage. On this day, single women perform rituals called ‘simpatias’, hoping that St. Anthony would bring them a husband.

The Philippines

People in the Philippines celebrate Valentine’s Day like their Western counterparts, with one bit of difference. A new tradition has developed over the years where many young couples tie the knot on February 14 thus sharing a wedding day, and usually have their ceremonies in public places together.

gettyimages

South Africa

In South Africa, Valentine’s Day is celebrated in a more or less expected way with festivals, flowers, and similar tokens of love. However, women in South Africa will wear their hearts on their sleeves on February 14 by pinning the names of their crushes on their shirtsleeves, revealing who they like.

Uschi, Flickr

This is how men find out about their secret admirers.

Wow! These sound like some fascinating traditions to keep!

Thank you, Dating Connections, for such an illuminating article…just in time to get us in the mood for the upcoming holiday! ♥♥♥

Guest Blogger Bio

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

Links

Website:  http://datingconnections.org/

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

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

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/BoyanUlv

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

 

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

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

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Filed under Blogging, Contemporary, Dating Tips, Event, Gifts, Holiday, Hope, Love, Message, Readers, Relationships, Romance, romantic ideas, sweet romance, Traditions, Valentine's

Pre-order Release Feature: Lara’s Story by author Diane Merrill Wigginton

I am pleased to announce a great new release by Diane Merrill Wigginton, an author I met during my journey! Her young adult sweet historical romance, Lara’s Story, officially went up for pre-order and will be released on January 4th!

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

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

Diane is giving us a look at her sweet YA historical romance, Lara’s Story, today.Great cover!

This is the blurb for Lara’s Story:

SHATTERED BY HEARTBREAK
“When a heart breaks, it does not break evenly, cleaving in half exactly down the middle.”

Surrounded by her large, boisterous family in 1840s Ireland, Lara Flannigan has never known anything but love and belonging—until the day tragedy strikes, leaving her abandoned and forced into indentured servitude.

REMADE IN A NEW WORLD.

Just when all hope seems lost, Lara is discovered by a childless American couple, visiting Ireland to aid in the famine-relief effort. With barely a chance to look back, she’s swept away to a bustling new continent—and a dizzying new reality. One of petticoats, opulent townhouses, and the cold reaches of Philadelphia high society. Desperate for a future, Lara works tirelessly to fit into her new life… while still haunted by a past that won’t let her go.

Set in a fascinating historical period, Lara’s Story is a gripping young adult novel that explores the strength of the human spirit and the power of forgiveness to heal a broken heart.

And here is an excerpt to entice you with.

April 27, 1854

Philadelphia Wharf

 

EVERY QUESTION BEGINS WITH a quest for answers, and every testimony of what is true begins with a test of our resolve. I am reminded of this simple formula as I stand here on this boardwalk, looking out to sea. Each life is a journey, defined by turns we take or the roads we choose or those which fate chooses for us. Some of us move from one place to another, along a well-worn path or the path less taken; it really doesn’t matter much as long as it leads you home again.

Memories of my home involuntarily flash through my mind as Mama’s words come back to me like a sounding board that has followed me my entire life. She would often tell my sisters and me, “Don’t ever make yerself smaller to satisfy the needs of another.” Mama was always insightful and perceptive when it came to her children.

Oh, how I still miss her so, even to this day. I smile to myself, wishing my ears could hear that beautiful, rhythmic sound of Mama’s voice again, just one more time as a terrible memory of the last day I saw her alive flashes through my mind and I vigorously shake my head to dispel the thought.

When a heart breaks it does not break evenly – cleaving in half exactly down the middle. It breaks, jagged and rough, cutting one to the very core of their soul. And while things may appear perfectly normal to the naked eye, beneath the surface lies the real tragedy, fragmented and splintered beyond reconciliation. Heartbreak is not an innocuous pain, easily excused like a stomach ache. It is more insidious, spreading throughout ones’ system, like an infection. Merely closing my eyes to the pain does not eliminate it in the least.

Just breathe in, then breathe out and move forward, I remind myself. This simple little mantra is something I taught myself so many years ago, and it has gotten me through more than a few dire situations.

I was born Lara Flannigan, on the twenty-first day of April, in the year of our Lord, eighteen hundred and thirty-three. Mama liked to tell me it was a beautiful spring morn, the day I was born, which would have been an unusual occurrence for that time of year.

Mama also said, “I knew ye were special and destined for greatness the moment ye took yer first breath, don’t ye know. Cause the sun poked out from behind the clouds with yer first breath of life. Why twere’ like the Heavens above truly recognized that an angel had been born to me,” she teased.

If truth be told, I believe mama told this exact story to each of her six children. But I loved hearing it nonetheless.

I was the sixth child of the seven children born to Rory and Laurel Flannigan, and I was named for my Da’s mother. Our days were long and our lives were hard, but our nights belonged to us. I never knew life could be anything other than what I had experienced. My world was very small in those days, so I never missed the things I didn’t have.

I am an Irish immigrant and I came to America at the tender age of thirteen, a disillusioned child, harshly mistreated by the very people entrusted with my care. I tell you this not to solicit your sympathies but to impart knowledge and gain your understanding, for I was a pitiful, angry child who was unaware of how many things in my life were about to change. People meeting me today might say that I was more fortunate than most. Yet they would never have heard my story nor known that I suffered in silence. I did not wear my pain, like a badge of honor, but kept it deep inside of me, hidden away from the prying eyes of others.

Fear has made me keep my story to myself. I was afraid of the repercussions from the actions I took in the name of survival, when my whole world fell apart. Furthermore, I feared the behavior of peers, those who would use the circumstance of my birthplace and subsequent difficulties to hold me back or bludgeon me with my story like a weapon.

For many years I have pushed from my thoughts memories of home and all that happened there. And yet, every now and again I indulge myself with less painful memories of the past, that push their way to the surface, and I give myself permission to embrace them, loving, bold, nostalgic memories that are impossible to forget. This is especially true today as I find myself waiting, yet another day, for a ship to come in, one that I thought would never arrive upon these great American shores.

Oh, I have everything a person could ever desire. Enough food to ward off hunger for a lifetime. Good health, a beautiful home, fashionable clothes, and the love of my family. I truly have every comfort one could want at my disposal, yet still, I long to recover the missing pieces of myself torn from me the day I left my native land of Ireland. A loss that can still be keenly felt whenever I lay my head down upon my pillow at night. And even though I am far from familiar old haunts, I swear I hear the land beckoning to me in my dreams, calling from across the ocean, summoning me home to the cliffs of Dunmore Head on the westernmost shores of Ireland. Closing my eyes now, I can still recall the smell and taste of the breeze on my tongue and the tangy feel of her salty sea air as it mixes with the sweet scents of wildflowers growing on her craggy cliffs.

The memories grab hold of my soul, leaving me longing for home, even more this day.

“Ireland,” I whisper, as it all comes flooding back to me — the green grassy moors waving in the gentle breeze like waves on the ocean. I can still feel the way the grass tickled my bare feet when I walked upon it.

In my mind’s eye I can see the ancient moss-covered rocks and hills that seem to roll on forever, and the overwhelmingly familiar smells of home assault my senses and kindle even more longing inside me. Peat moss burning in the hearth, the earthy smells of fresh mud coming from our simple thatched roofed dwelling, built from wattle and daub that plastered the rocks and boulders in place to form walls. The rain that often leaked upon my head in the middle of the night whenever a storm blew in just right. The way the sweet earthy tones mingled with the bitter as they played across my tongue whenever I chewed on a blade of grass.

Vivid, sweet memories wash over me, transporting me back in time as I see myself as a little girl, sitting in the middle of a field of tall grass, watching with fascination as the wind blew the grass to-and-fro. Then I see myself laughing and playing among the cliffs again with my best friend, Jamie. There are so many precious and sweet memories that I had denied myself for so long.

I swallow hard to push down the lump that forms in my throat. I can recall every ridge, crag, twig, and moss-covered rock that littered our unyielding plot of land.

There were so many afternoons spent upon those cliffs, basking in the glorious sun after bathing in the ocean with Mama and my two sisters. Alana loved tickling me just to hear me laugh while I lay upon the warm cliffs, soaking up the last glorious rays of sunlight. A cool breeze would kick up, washing over my skin, and chilling my flesh with her gentle touch. Those were the days I thought would never end, and it is those same sweet memories that now make me mourn the loss of them all the more.

I shake my head quickly, dispelling any more memories of the past as I hold back more tears, attempting to keep them from escaping. Swiping at the unfortunate few that trickle down my cheeks, I feel anxious and frustrated all at the same time.

Please do not mistake my tears for weakness, for they convey more than mere words are able and can express so many different emotions.

One should never assume that there is only one reason to shed them. There are tears caused by overwhelming grief and pain and tears of contrition. There are tears of joy and love, or tears of annoyance caused by situations that are beyond your control. Yet my tears today are a culmination of so many different emotions that are simply hard for me to put into words.

Book Info:

Genre:  Historical Romance, Young Adult, Sweet Historical

Release Date:  January 4, 2019

Pre-order Purchase Link:

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

Wow! ♥♥♥ This looks like quite an emotional read!😉

The story should appeal to Christians, young adults, and any readers who enjoy sweet romance tales…

Thank you for telling us about your new book, Diane! I know we all can’t wait to read this YA romance! 🙂

 

Readers, don’t forget to pre-order a copy of this sweet historical tale!

Author Bio

Diane Merrill Wigginton was born in Riverside, California in 1963. Her family moved to San Diego near the end of 1970, where she grew up in the newly developed community of Mira Mesa. Spending portions of her summers each year in Burly, Idaho with her mother’s parents, Florence and Orval Merrill, Diane developed a love of animals and a respect for the land. It was during this time on the farm riding horses, herding cattle and taming wild kittens that Diane also developed a love of storytelling. She dreamed that one day she would become a published author and tell her stories to the world. Having spent her entire life in California, Diane and her husband made the move from Sacramento, California to Kalispell, Montana to retire in February 2018. Now she is able to pursue her passion of writing books full-time.

“I am thrilled and elated to be doing what I love.”

 

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

Happy reading, everyone!🙂

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Filed under Book Release, Books, coming soon, Event, Fiction, Historical, Historical Romance, new release, Readers, Romance, sweet romance, Young Adult

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

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

Unique and Romantic Date Ideas for Those Crispy Winter Days

 

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

Created by Freepik

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

Siyuanhua, Flickr

#1: Go Ice Skating

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

Created by Freepic.diller – Freepik.com

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

Mint Owl, Unsplash

#2: A $20-Dollar Gift Challenge

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

Kari Shea, Unsplash

#3: See a Live Show

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

Peter Lewicki, Unsplash

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

Created by Freepik

#4:  Check Out the Holiday Lights Together

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

Rawpixel, Unsplash

#5: Date Plus Hot After-party

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

Created by Freepik

#6: Book a Trip Somewhere South

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

Syd Sujuaan, Unsplash

#7: Hit an Escape Room

Created by Rawpixel.com – Freepik.com

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

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

Inna Lesyk, pexels.com

Created by Bristekjegor – Freepik.com

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

Guest Blogger Bio

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

Links

Website:  http://datingconnections.org/

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

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

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/BoyanUlv

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

 

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

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

1 Comment

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