Tag Archives: I Love Romance Blog

Big Myths That Should Be Dispelled About Romance Novels: a romance blogger post by multi-genre author Marie Lavender

Big Myths That Should Be Dispelled About Romance Novels

 

If you’re a fan of romance, then you’ve probably heard an insult or two regarding your favorite genre. And for those who don’t often gravitate towards romance for various reasons, now is the time to listen up and take this into consideration. You might be wrong about your assumptions! 😉 So, read on and learn more here…

I’ll list some myths that I’ve heard and read before.

  1. “It’s all smut.”

    freestocks.org, Unsplash

    Uggh…this word can annoy an avid romance reader. Some might think this myth is outdated, but there are people who still believe romance novels are smut, or trashy reads.

Bodice rippers went out of style by the mid-80s. The genre, as well as authors and readers, have evolved considerably. Erotica is a different subject matter entirely. Plus, bodice rippers promote rape culture, and most romance novels nowadays don’t even touch on that topic in a romantic relationship. With good reason, of course. Both sexual partners should be willing.

‘Mommy porn’ is also a derogative term which is used by certain parties in reference to romance books. Come on, not every romance author writes Fifty Shades-esque material, and readers are certainly not just mothers. Some are single, professional women. Romance readers are intelligent, capable people just as they are, and they’re not reading ‘smut’ or even ‘fluff’. It takes a lot of effort and smarts to digest a full romance novel (historical romance is heavy on time period description) – or in the case of fantasy and sci-fi romance, lots of world-building – in one sitting, and keep coming back for more.

Yuri Efremov, Unsplash

And no, we don’t just skip to the good parts! 🙄

  1. “Gross! I’m a guy. Men don’t read or write romance.”

Geez…get with the times! Men like to read romance too. ♥ For God’s sake, my reviewer for this blog is a guy. He adores reading romance books! And yes, he’s also a romance writer. I’ve also met a handful of other male authors who sometimes write in the romance genre.

There’s nothing wrong at all with dudes getting into romance reads, as writers or readers. More power to them! 😀

  1. “These books are so simple. 1+1 = 2, right? It’s not that difficult to understand.”

Actually, romance stories are complicated. It takes a hell of a lot more than just throwing two unique people next to each other, and then expecting fireworks. Life is full of ups and downs, a roller coaster journey, so to speak. Why wouldn’t a romance read have the same drama and tension?

Created by bearfotos- freepik.com

Authenticity is everything. Readers won’t care about characters or a story which isn’t relatable, or read something that couldn’t feasibly occur in reality. Even if the tale has fantastical elements, we have to believe in what’s happening, and see the reason why these characters are compatible.

Carly Rae Hobbins, Unsplash

  1. “Romance books are standard, or boring! Not for me…I need something that holds my attention.”

Really? With the constant evolution of multiple themes and sub-genres of romance, we’re not likely to run out of new ideas, nor are readers liable to call it quits any time soon. It’s one of the most popular book categories for a reason! 🙂

If you like shapeshifters, there’s always paranormal romance. Who doesn’t like vampires, werewolves or witches?

Favor a good spy tale or mystery/thriller? Try romantic suspense or a romantic thriller for some heart-pounding action.

Do you crave stories that are…a tad darker? There’s a type called dark romance, and even unique themes such as mafia romance or MC (biker) romances are available.

Prefer adventure tales? Maybe fantasy romance or romantic adventure is more your style.

You could be a science fiction fan, but might be willing to try something with a romantic storyline. As you know, many of the most popular sci-fi films usually have a romance angle to appeal to audiences. Why not go for science fiction romance, dystopian romance or even a good time travel tale?

 

Maybe you like stories about war veterans. Well, we have military romance

In other words, this genre has sooooo many options! ♥

  1. “I don’t believe in love at first sight. I can’t get into romance novels.”

Even as someone who has read tons of romance novels in some capacity since the age of thirteen, I can’t say I go for love at first sight either. However, I do believe that two people can connect right away. Lust also happens pretty fast too, but that’s beside the point. With these two facts, I know it still takes time to build a good relationship. I’ve read plenty of novels that don’t fall into the trap of the love at first sight ideal. I think it’s why the ‘Happy for Now’ ending works so well; most novelists get that this is more realistic on some level. I think that a lot of writers these days are doing their best to show that it’s not really love at first sight – rather it’s more about chemistry and an instant connection evolving quickly into something substantial. And this isn’t unheard of in real life.

But we don’t have 1,000 pages to explain the whole courtship/dating period; therefore it falls on the writer to try to make it a believable story in a short amount of time.

As a writer of romance as well, with twenty-four published books and 125+ works-in-progress, I usually do my best to avoid the idea of immediate love. Chemistry is easy, though.

Created by yanalya – freepik.com

It’s everything else that complicates the story. Even in my shorter romantic fiction, I try to explain that enough time – even though I don’t always go into the normal life details – has passed for these two people to actually develop feelings.

With The Missing Piece, a story that was part of a holiday romance anthology and was then made into a single ebook (new adult romance), I was careful to simply show the stirrings of romantic interest in such a short time.

For me, I see insta-love as a notion that often works well for supernatural creatures in fiction, simply because their primal, possessive instincts are winning out over logic. This can merge into affection rather quickly because all of their senses are more heightened than usual. Everything is so vivid that it must be love.

  1. “Romance novels are too sexy. I can’t handle all that heat.”

So steam isn’t for you. We totally respect your preferences! If you find that most romance reads are rife with heated or even graphic content, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Try inspirational romance. Have you seen Amish romance in bookstores? Yeah, that’s one type, among so many others.

But let’s say you’re open to looking outside spiritual reads. Also available on the market are clean romance and sweet romance. Plus, cozy mysteries typically lack sexual content, and amid all the other events in the books, there’s sometimes a romance angle.

In any case, the authors of these clean reads subscribe to the notion of a sweet romance, or at least closed door romance. We’re all adults here, right? But at least if sexual content bothers you in any fashion, you can rest assured that with these types of books, it usually won’t go beyond kissing. And even if it does, what happens is implied and never vividly described. Cut to the next scene!

Anyway, if you believe you can’t read romance because it’s just too hot for your taste, that no longer has to be the case.

  1. “Please…romance novels aren’t even real fiction!”

Hmm…ouch. 😥 Still, this myth is just wrong.

Let’s look at the basic formula for fiction.

The character is introduced. There is some action happening, a type of conflict. Something prevents him from getting what he really wants (usually the antagonist, which can be a person, place, thing, or even a concept). By the end of the story, this character must change in some capacity, internally or externally. The tale reaches its conclusion, however satisfying – or unsatisfying – it may be for readers.

These are the principles of fiction, of course. And you have interactions with secondary characters, dialogue and tension that help shape the story and your idea of who this person is. There’s also the climax of the tale, that pivotal movement when things get really tense for the character – the reader too – and he or she is close to losing everything. But I digress.

Every romance meets the requirements of fiction as well. It’s a lot more than two people being brought together like magnets. Chemistry is just a small part of it. The question becomes…how do we realistically connect these individuals? They have to fit somehow.

Created by yanalya – freepik.com

Numerous elements go into making that happen. There’s a specific plot, as well as subplots. The character must want something, have a goal in mind. The story isn’t always just about romance, but also the way characters come to believe new truths about themselves. They’re not only capable of love. Maybe the main character wants a promotion. But to do that, she’ll have to step outside her comfort zone to impress her boss. In any case, an HEA (Happily Ever After) or HFN (Happy for Now) is only possible if the character reaches the proper mindset to have a real romantic relationship. Without that, it’s just attraction – then it becomes erotica alone, which is something else altogether.

For example, being with an emotionally unavailable person is like hitting your head against the wall. In the end, it’s just pointless. For this type of relationship to qualify as a real romance, the characters must change – events might happen in their lives to help adjust their worldview – and they can reach a certain level of happiness. But it’s going to be a hard journey to get there. Romance stories aren’t all hearts, flowers, and butterflies.

Frank McKenna, Unsplash

True fiction is housed in every romance tale. The character still goes through a range of emotions to achieve what he/she wants. As aforementioned, often there is an antagonist preventing the couple from being together, whether it’s a person, a misconceived notion, or another external force that keeps them apart.

Sometimes it’s more than one antagonist. It’s never easy right away. Eventually, the characters must find a way around the barrier. Every relationship in real life takes effort, and these stories are no different.

Oh, wait!

Pixabay, pexels.com

The character wanted something, had a goal in mind. To reach that aspiration, he took action, and then the events that occurred reshaped his way of thinking. But at least he found what he was looking for. And he changed on some level, right? Yep…sounds like fiction to me! 😉

  1. “These books are useless drivel, and they create unrealistic expectations for people.”

To me, that sounds like it’s coming from someone who is afraid of the power of genuine emotion. But, let’s explore the aforesaid theory.

Relationships are hard work, and those in romance novels take just as much effort. If a writer is doing his or her job correctly, this will come out on the page.

Unrealistic? Hmm…if anything, I think the romance reader will see reality for what it is. No, finding happiness is never easy, but it’s worth the journey.

To illustrate this point, I’ll reference the trope often seen in historical romances…Marrying for Convenience versus Marrying for Love.

The truth is that even modern readers understand the benefits of a marriage of convenience. With financial and social stability, it’s a match that makes sense. But more often than not, we’ll root for the opposite outcome.

Why? Are we silly dreamers?

Not at all. It’s just that deep down, we all want to be happy. This is in our nature as human beings. We’re conditioned to know that events should play out a certain way – getting married and having kids is usually expected – but our instincts tell us there’s more to the story. Of course, those eventualities don’t work for every person. Still, why wouldn’t we want happiness for the characters we’ve come to care about?

Inna Lesyk, pexels.com

So, is it unrealistic to crave love? I don’t think so. At least in my opinion, romance novels have the power to teach us what we want in life. And who couldn’t use a little more self-awareness? I know I’d rather be in a relationship that works well, which helps me evolve as a person, rather than one that might look okay on paper, yet will only serve to hurt me in the long run.

Plenty of people are unhappy because they made the wrong choices. Maybe they feel trapped, but in the end, they have to figure a way out on their own. Some will settle, others won’t. That’s the thing about life, though. If you make a mistake, the best you can do is try to repair it. And if that’s not possible, you get creative and find a new route to achieve your goal.

Being logical is one way of thinking. Listening to your heart, really opening yourself up to what will make you happy? That takes courage.

I believe romance novels can teach us a lot about ourselves, and help us to understand the motivations of other people too.

Is this realistic? Probably not. But it can prevent someone from making a rash decision, to use their heart and instincts to discover what they want, and determine the best solution for them. How admirable, right? Outsiders can judge all they want, and it won’t matter as long as that person is satisfied with what they’ve chosen.

At any rate, romance novels are lot more complex than they may seem at first glance. Reading these books can offer many benefits – numerous insights and a source of entertainment, just to name a couple! If you’re interested in learning more, you can view a full list of sub-genres and romance tropes below.

https://marielavender.blogspot.com/2016/03/understanding-romance-genre-by-marie-lavender-plus-giveaway.html

https://www.mindyklasky.com/index.php/for-writers/romance-tropes/

I hope I’ve reaffirmed some aspects for loyal fans, and offered advice worth considering for people who are new to the romance genre. If you know of anyone who still believes these myths are valid, please refer them to this article. 😉

Have a lovely rest of your week, readers! 🙂

Host Blogger Bio

Multi-genre author of Victorian romance, UPON YOUR RETURN, and 23 other books. Reached the Top 10 Authors list on AuthorsDB.com for the last 4 years. Featured interview in the January 2018 issue of Womelle Magazine. The Heiresses in Love Trilogy made the TOP 10 on the Anthology category on the 2018 P&E Readers’ Poll, and BLOOD INSTINCTS reached TOP 10 status in the Romance category. The Heiresses in Love Trilogy and DIRECTIONS OF THE HEART both reached the semi-finalist round in the 2018 AuthorsDB Book Cover Contest. Voted TOP BLOGGER for 2018 on the Romance Lives Forever Blog. TOP 20 Authors of 2018 on Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews blog. DIRECTIONS OF THE HEART was nominated and made it past the first round in the 2018 Author Academy Awards. UPON YOUR LOVE and THE MISSING PIECE placed in the TOP 10 on the 2017 P&E Readers’ Poll. DIRECTIONS OF THE HEART was nominated for the 2017 Reader’s Choice Awards. The I Love Romance Blog became a finalist in StartDating DK’s Romance Blog Awards of 2017. ILRB landed on Feedspot’s 2017 TOP 100 Novel Blogs and TOP 100 Romance Blogs. DIRECTIONS OF THE HEART placed in the TOP 10 Books of 2017 on Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews blog. TOP 20 Authors of 2017 on Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews blog. Mystery Blogger Award for 2017. A to Z Blog Challenge Survivor in 2016. March 2016 Empress of the Universe title – winner of the “Broken Heart” themed contest and the “I Love You” themed contest on Poetry Universe. SECOND CHANCE HEART and A LITTLE MAGICK placed in the TOP 10 on the 2015 P&E Readers’ Poll. Nominated in the TRR Readers’ Choice Awards for Winter 2015. Poetry winner of the 2015 PnPAuthors Contest. The Versatile Blogger Award for 2015. Honorable Mention in the 2014 BTS Red Carpet Book Awards. Finalist and Runner-up in the 2014 MARSocial’s Author of the Year Competition. Honorable mention in the January 2014 Reader’s Choice Award. Liebster Blogger Award for 2013, 2014 and 2016. 2013 and 2014 Amazon Bestseller Ranking for UPON YOUR RETURN. Winner of the Great One Liners Contest on the Directory of Published Authors.

Marie Lavender lives in the Midwest with her family and two cats. She has been writing for a little over twenty-five years. She has more works in progress than she can count on two hands. Since 2010, Marie has published 24 books in the genres of historical romance, contemporary romance, romantic suspense, paranormal romance, dramatic fiction, fantasy, science fiction, mystery/thriller, literary fiction and poetry. She writes adult fiction, as well as occasional stories for children, and has recently started some young adult fiction. She has also contributed to several anthologies. Her current published series are The Heiresses in Love Series, The Eternal Hearts Series, The Magick Series, The Code of Endhivar Series and The Blood at First Sight Series.

Links:

Official Website: http://marielavender.com/

Blogs: https://iloveromanceblog.wordpress.com/
http://marielavender.blogspot.com/

http://marielavenderbooks.blogspot.com/
Social Media: https://www.facebook.com/marie.lavender.58
https://www.facebook.com/MarieAnnLavender
https://twitter.com/marielavender1
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/marie-lavender/27/187/10a

https://www.instagram.com/marielavender1/

Amazon author page: https://amzn.to/2SMRcRD
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6938764.Marie_Lavender
http://authorsdb.com/authors-directory/1578-marie-lavender

http://marielavender1.allauthor.com/

http://www.pw.org/content/marie_lavender
http://manicreaders.com/marielavender/

Publisher: http://www.solsticeempire.com/products.aspx?categoryid=262

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJu8HjRVYCFOqcIoX6ZxdqQ/videos

Sign up for Marie’s Newsletter: http://bit.ly/1g3wO13

Follow her on BookBub for new release updates: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/marie-lavender

 

Happy reading, everyone! 🙂

Pixabay, Pexels.com

Advertisements

6 Comments

Filed under Action & Adventure, Authors, Blogging, Book News, Book Release, Books, characters, Contemporary, dark romance, Event, Faith, Fantasy, Fiction, Guest Writer, Historical Romance, Hope, inspirational romance, Love, MC and biker romance, Message, Military Romance, Mystery, New Adult, Paranormal/Urban Fantasy, Readers, Relationships, Romance, romantic ideas, Romantic Suspense, Stories, sweet romance, Thriller/Suspense, Writers

Book Review: The Homecoming (Bayou Shifters Book 1) by Tammy Tate

This week’s I Love Romance Blog review selection is The Homecoming by Tammy Tate. Once I started this one, I just kept reading – great beginning to the series!

The book jumps right into the story and I definitely appreciate that. Sometimes you just want the meat and potatoes. Sydney is goin’ on a trip. More specifically, she’s going to stay with her aunt and her pack of wolf shifters at their home on the outskirts of New Orleans. After Sydney’s mother died, her human father knew that he couldn’t help her transition, so she reluctantly agrees to go.

Her dreams have been wreaking havoc, though. It’s the same dream over and over and it always leaves her wanting.

Kyle and his best friend Beau are living the life – working, fishing, and running. But, one of them isn’t sleeping that well either.

In a story full of action, adventure, love, romance, sex, shifters, and yes, vampires – you will definitely be hooked, too.

For all this and so much more that you’ll have to discover when you read it – I give The Homecoming By Tammy Tate 5 HEARTS!

Book Info:

Sydney is half human, half wolf and has fallen in love with Kyle, a full-fledged shifter who for the last six months has been appearing in her dreams. During the next full moon, she will make her first shift from human to wolf. The transformation won’t be easy. It could leave her disfigured. Or, worse. Dead.

Kyle is in Bayou Fontaine. For the sake of the pack, the council has already chosen him a mate. Sydney and Kyle face incredible odds to be together and soon become pawns in a deadly game of survival.

The clock is ticking…

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

Here are some teasers!

And the book trailer…

AUTHOR: Tammy Tate

TITLE: The Homecoming (book one of the Bayou Shifters Series)

GENRE: Paranormal Romance – Werewolves, Shifters and Vampires

RELEASE DATE: January 14, 2017

PUBLISHER: Amazon Digital Services LLC

ISBN/ASIN: B01N4OJD6J

OUR RATING: ♥♥♥♥♥

REVIEWED BY: Kevin Ethan

 

Get your copy for only 99 cents here.

Up next week: Choosing the Cowboy by Liz Isaacson

Thanks for reading our weekly book review on ILRB!

Leave a comment

Filed under Blogging, book reviews, Books, Event, Paranormal/Urban Fantasy, rating, Readers, Reviews, Romance, score, Writing

Recommended Read: Break My Chains by Nicolina Martin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s a peek at the book…

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

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

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

Three years ago.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Jack, boy, what is it?”

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

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

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

Three heavy, ominous knocks.

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

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

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

“Good God. Come inside!”

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

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

“Thanks.”

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

AUTHOR: Nicolina Martin

TITLE: Break My Chains

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

RELEASE DATE: February 6, 2019

PUBLISHER: Blushing Books Publications

ISBN/ASIN: B07NGQT8LB

OUR RATING: ♥♥♥♥♥

REVIEWED BY: Marie Lavender

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

1 Comment

Filed under Blogging, Book Release, book reviews, Books, Contemporary, dark romance, Erotica, Event, New Adult, new release, rating, Readers, Reviews, Romance, Romantic Suspense, steamy, Thriller/Suspense, Writing

Book Review: Jake’s Redemption by Jamie Schulz

This week’s I Love Romance Blog review selection is Jake’s Redemption By Jamie Schulz. By now, if you’ve seen my past reviews, you know that I love a book with role reversal – this is that on steroids.

In a post-war, dystopian Pacific Northwest, women have found that, in fear or anger, they are physically stronger than men. With a (un)healthy dose of medication that makes men panicky and fearful, women rule their world.

It’s never made clear if this type of society has taken over the whole country, or just this small patch of land East of the Cascade Mountains. Here, we find Jake and his best friend Bret who are set upon by a group of bandits. Jake is taken prisoner and Bret makes his escape into the woods. Sold into slavery, Jake endures unimaginable torture, rape, and abuse.

Side note: Though the book’s Amazon listing does mention “unsettling and violent subject matter”, it should definitely include a trigger warning for sexual assault victims. I’m just sayin’.

While owned by a true sadist named Darla (I pictured a grown up version of the girl from Finding Nemo the whole time), Jake is loaned out for his skills in construction and ranch handling. With his temporary owner, Michelle, Jake finds a slave plantation owned by a woman who isn’t mentally disturbed (Michelle’s home is never called a slave plantation, btw, but if it walks like a duck…)

The romance formed between Jake and Michelle really is touching. He has a lot of baggage from his time with Darla (being shaken in that little fish bag of hers…if it were filled with chains, whips, and rape), and she has the burden of being a slave owner.

The conflict moving the book along is Jake’s impending return to Darla the Devil. Should he run and surely be killed? But, in the end Jake is saved from having to decide by being purchased by another woman (and friend of Michelle’s) named Angel. For the first bit that we see Angel, I wasn’t sure if she was another sadistic sex fiend, but after bouts of depression and an attempted suicide, Angel turns out to be one of my favorite characters.

When I finished reading this book, knowing that it was a prequel, I was eager to see how things continue in this story. I will certainly be anticipating the release of the first official book in the series.

As a closing, I’m just going to throw this out there. As a gay man living in the Pacific Northwest just outside Tacoma, WA, I had to wonder – what happened to the gays?! Outside of Washington’s few big cities, this state is really no friend to the LGBTQ community.

So, in this story, where we are of no use as “breeders”, were we just killed off? Or are we still chained up and raped for our swimmers? I am intrigued and troubled to see how or if the author touches on this subject.

For its romance and train wreck society that kept me reading – I give Jake’s Redemption By Jamie Schultz 3 STARS!

Book Info:

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

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

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

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

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

Jake’s Redemption is a full-length book in the Angel Eyes cowboy dystopian romance series. If you like scorching-hot chemistry, clever post-apocalyptic worlds, and star-crossed love stories, then you’ll adore Jamie Schulz’s captivating tale.

Buy Jake’s Redemption today to see if love can brighten a dark world!

This prequel has an HFN ending and opens the door for the next book in the Angel Eyes Series.

This story would appeal to those who found the adult scenarios in books like A Handmaid’s Tale and The Hunger Games intriguing. Or who enjoy the writing of other romance authors like Maisey Yates, Pam Godwin, Karen Robards, and Nora Roberts, or who simply love cowboys.

Please note: Intended for mature audiences. This story contains some unsettling and violent subject matter that sensitive readers may find disturbing. Reader discretion is advised.

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

Here’s a peek at the book…

AUTHOR: Jamie Schulz

TITLE: Jake’s Redemption

GENRE: Dystopian Romance, Romantic Fantasy

RELEASE DATE: February 1, 2019

PUBLISHER: Amazon Digital Services LLC

ISBN/ASIN: B07K5L411H

OUR RATING: ♥♥♥

REVIEWED BY: Kevin Ethan

Get your copy on Kindle Unlimited here.

Up next in the first week of April: The Homecoming by Tammy Tate

Thanks for reading our weekly book review on ILRB!

Leave a comment

Filed under Blogging, book reviews, Books, Dystopian, Event, Fantasy, new release, rating, Readers, Romance, score, western

Book Review: Undercover Siren by Ellen Mint

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

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

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

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

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

Book Info:

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

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

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

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

Here’s a peek at the book…

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

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

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

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

How in God’s name did he do that?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sweet God.

AUTHOR: Ellen Mint

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

GENRE: Romantic Suspense, Sci-Fi, Police Procedural

RELEASE DATE: February 10, 2018

PUBLISHER: Amazon Digital Services LLC

ISBN/ASIN: B079QZPN5V

OUR RATING: ♥♥♥♥♥

REVIEWED BY: Kevin Ethan

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

Up Next Week: Jake’s Redemption by Jamie Schultz

Thanks for reading our weekly book review on ILRB!

Leave a comment

Filed under Blogging, book reviews, Books, Contemporary, Event, Fantasy, rating, Readers, Romance, Romantic Suspense, Science Fiction, score, Thriller/Suspense, Writing

Book Review: The Key of F by Jennifer Haskin

This week’s I Love Romance Blog review selection is The Key of F By Jennifer Haskin. With paranormal and sci-fi elements, this full-length novel is a great read.

Fale, who is as down-to-Earth as she is incredible, begins a journey to find out exactly who she is. When she starts having visions of the future and trying to do something about it, will she change it for the better or worse?

Really, I cannot say enough good things about this book – the storyline is well thought through, the dialogue is believable and relatable, and the interactions between the main characters keep you reading.

This book is extremely well-written and thought out and I look forward to reading the next one in the series – I give The Key of F By Jennifer Haskin 5 HEARTS!

Only $.99 on Kindle.

Recommended Read

Book Info:

Fale, Takanori warrior-in-training, begins having visions on her eighteenth birthday. When she realizes the visions are coming true, she intervenes and changes one to save the life of her crush. Soon after, thugs climb out of the woodwork chasing them with the intent to kill. Their only clue lies in the key Fale wears, given to her by her father on his deathbed. Could the key have something to do with her destiny? Can they live long enough to find the answers?

Universal Reader link: https://books2read.com/u/bW9G0D

Here’s a peek at the book…

AUTHOR: Jennifer Haskin

TITLE: The Key of F (book one of the Freedom Fight Trilogy)

GENRE: paranormal romance, urban fantasy, some YA elements

RELEASE DATE: May 8, 2018

PUBLISHER: Rogue Phoenix Press

ISBN/ASIN: B079P7DMQ4

OUR RATING: ♥♥♥♥♥

REVIEWED BY: Kevin Ethan

Up Next Week: Undercover Siren by Ellen Mint

Thanks for reading our weekly book review on ILRB!

2 Comments

Filed under Blogging, book reviews, Books, Contemporary, Dark Fantasy, Event, Fantasy, Paranormal/Urban Fantasy, rating, Readers, Reviews, Science Fiction, score, Writing, Young Adult

Book Review: Take My Heart by J.J. Sorel

This week’s I Love Romance Blog review selection is Take My Heart by J.J. Sorel. Give me a book set in NYC with a relatable main character, a sexy bad boy, and a delightfully devious old woman any day.

Ava and Cassie start out this full-length novel and I was a fan of Ava from the start. Money is certainly a regular topic in the story, but whoever complained about having too much money? When Ava meets her boyfriend’s bad-boy brother for the first time, the heat in the room rises a few degrees at least.

While most (if not all) romances include a leading lady who is looking for an earth-shattering romance, none that I’ve read before had a foul mouthed, sophisticated older woman pulling the strings.

With a bad boy we can all fall in love with and extensive descriptions that leave little to the imagination, Bronson will surely be in my dreams for days.

For its well-written, fully realized characters, a great storyline and steamy hot romance – I give Take My Heart By J.J. Sorel 4 HEARTS!

Read for free with Kindle Unlimited.

Recommended Read

Book Info:

AVA – I’ve never been in love. Never felt that fire or been so desperate for a man’s touch that he’s all I can think about.
Then Bronson Lockhart walks into the party I’m at with my boyfriend, Justin.  Everyone notices him. How could they not? He’s ridiculously good looking with that dark, brooding masculinity that inspires dirty thoughts of the sweetest kind…

Too bad he’s also Justin’s adopted brother.

And they clearly hate each other. Yet I can’t help but notice the way Bronson looks at me that sets my pulse thrumming.  I can’t help wondering how his lips would feel on mine…  My new boss: a wealthy, eccentric old woman hidden away in her opulent penthouse with only her secrets and me to keep her company, tells me to follow my heart by surrendering to my deepest desires rather than act sensibly.
But I barely know Bronson, even though he seems determined to change that.

As I submit to desire and fall into his buff arms, a battle brews between my head and heart: are those hungry kisses and caresses a con?

BRONSON – Locked up for a crime I didn’t commit, I vowed to do two things when I got out–find my birth parents and make my brother pay for setting me up.  Now I’m out of jail and ready to set my plan for revenge in motion, starting with seducing his girlfriend. Not that it will be a chore.
Ava’s beauty stole my breath the moment I laid eyes on her. Sassy, intelligent, and sexy as hell, she’s got curves that fuel my darkest desires.
But what starts as revenge soon turns into something more. I want her…crave the sweet taste of her. Hell, who am I kidding? I’m falling for her. But as secrets about my adoption start to unravel, I discover a startling connection to Ava’s boss.
Was my meeting Ava a setup… or destiny?

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

Here’s a peek at the book…

I enjoyed sitting out in the open air surrounded by trees and earthy, floral aromas. It was a clear night with a pearly moon that beamed a ripple onto the swimming pool.

Fanning away smoke that suddenly blew in my direction, I looked up and noticed Bronson, his back to me, puffing on a cigarette. He turned and, noticing me there, distanced himself.

My eyes were drawn to him in a way I wished they weren’t. Under the moonlight, he seemed like an almost mystical being bathed in shadow, especially when the smoke formed a halo around him.

He turned again and said, “Is the smoke annoying you?”

I put my fork down and ran my tongue around my lips to wash away the chocolate. “Um… no. It’s okay. I’m kind of used to it, anyway.”

A slight shift of the brow was his only response, and then he went back to smoking while looking up at the sky.

“I work for a lady who smokes a lot.”

He turned and faced me again. I wasn’t sure if he wanted to be left alone. He didn’t exactly give anything away with that remote stare.

“She makes sure she’s on the balcony, though.” As I babbled, a little voice within told me to stop, because he wasn’t exactly encouraging me with that gaze that bordered on blank, even though I detected a whisper of depth in there somewhere. He just kept sucking on his cigarette as if his life depended on it.

Perhaps it was the champagne and the sugar hit because I kept talking anyway. “I read for her, you see. She also makes me mix martinis.”

After a moment and one more drag on his cigarette, he said, “With an olive?” A hint of a smirk touched his lips and boy… he wore it well.

I remained transfixed. “Um… no. Hmm… that’s funny.” I chuckled in a goofy way. “I have to admit I’d never mixed a martini in my life. I hadn’t even tried one. Until now, that is. She makes me join her, which means I always leave with a smile.”

“She sounds interesting.”

“Agatha’s a cross between Miss Havisham and Greta Garbo.”

“Let me guess,” he responded, butting out his cigarette. “A lonely woman with revenge in her heart who slinks about demanding to be left alone.”

My eyes brightened. “Justin didn’t know what I was talking about when I described her as that earlier. I’m impressed.”

He shrugged. “Let’s just say I’ve had plenty of time to read.”

“Then you’re a rare being because these days not many people read. And to be honest, when I got this job being asked to do just that, reading from a book that I hold so close to my heart, I nearly broke out in a happy rash…. I…” I suddenly lost my chain of thought, mainly because he ran his tongue over his cushiony lips again.

“You were saying?” His voice had a deep, guttural resonance that suited him perfectly.

“Just that I feel blessed. It hasn’t been easy lately. I had the worst boss ever, and then I landed this job.”

“Do you always break out in a rash when you’re happy?” His lips twitched into a hint of a smile.

I giggled. “No. Sorry. I’ve had a bit of champagne, and I tend to say silly things.”

“Silly’s entertaining.”

His eyes burrowed deep into me again. And the best I could return was a cheesy tight smile. I looked down at my half-eaten cake, and strangely, my appetite had gone. “Do you have a favorite author?”

“Do you?” he asked.

“I think I love Emily Bronte.”

Wuthering Heights,” he returned. I must have shown my surprise because he added, “Why that look? Am I giving off some kind of illiterate vibe?”

“No. Not at all,” I lied, because he was the last person I’d expected to know of Wuthering Heights. “I’m sorry. Most younger guys don’t really go for books like that.”

“I’m not like most younger guys.” His eyes darkened again. He’d gotten that right. There weren’t too many guys I’d met who read books, let alone looked like him.

He came toward me, and as I sat there staring up at him in suspense, for I wasn’t sure what he was about to do, my heart raced.

He leaned in, and placing his finger on my cheek, he wiped it gently.

“You had a brown mark there.” His eyes softened slightly. He put his finger in his mouth in a way that made me want to sigh. It was so suggestive. “Mm… chocolate. Nice,” he rasped as if he’d dipped his finger somewhere forbidden.

I wanted to speak but lost my voice due to that subtle cologne scent wafting up my nostrils, combined with his melty brown eyes boring into me.

“Um… Yeah, I…” As I stammered, seeking a coherent response, Justin and Marcus came out, holding cigars and laughing loudly.

Bronson turned to face them. The brothers’ obvious cold regard for one another made me think of the classic Cain and Abel relationship.

AUTHOR: J.J. Sorel

TITLE: Take My Heart

GENRE: steamy romantic suspense, some erotica

RELEASE DATE: January 8, 2019

PUBLISHER: Amazon Digital Services LLC

ISBN/ASIN:  B07MFSZ6Z2

OUR RATING: ♥♥♥♥

REVIEWED BY: Kevin Ethan

Up Next Week: The Key of F by Jennifer Haskin

Thanks for reading our weekly book review on ILRB!

2 Comments

Filed under Blogging, Book News, Book Release, book reviews, Books, Contemporary, Erotica, Event, Readers, Reviews, Romance, Romantic Suspense, score, steamy, Writing

Book Review: Dear Heart by Linda Lingle

This week’s I Love Romance Blog review selection is Dear Heart by Linda Lingle.

This is an interesting story laid out as a compilation of diary entries that tell the story of responsibility overcoming true love.

The narrator is married and her love interest is, too. But, when a work relationship becomes so much more – they have to navigate their way through to each other. The idea of cheating on your spouse is distasteful to me, but the story goes on in a way that you can’t help but feel for the pair.

After a whirlwind romance, life takes hold and everything changes.

Will the soul mates reunite? Or will their everyday lives keep them apart?

I really enjoyed the format of this story and how the author was able to bring it to a comfortable close. While adultery might not be a topic that everyone is comfortable with, the love story at the center of it will keep you reading.

This was something that I would definitely suggest! – I give Dear Heart by Linda Lingle 3 HEARTS!

Recommended Read

Book Info:

Deirdre Reid and Hartley Tate feel an immediate attraction when they meet at the office where they will work together and fall in love. There is only one problem: they are married to others and Lee has four daughters to whom he is devoted.

For 15 months Deirdre and Lee carry on a passionate affair. Then Lee’s wife is offered a big promotion across the country. With his heart breaking, Lee leaves Deirdre in San Francisco and moves East with his family so his wife can advance her high-powered career.

Soon, unforeseen circumstances have Deirdre second-guessing her insistence on a clean break. She resists every impulse to fly to Lee’s side, but on the first anniversary of their parting, Deirdre grows increasingly regretful and melancholy. Then she receives a surprising Christmas present which sets in motion a 38-year ritual that, against all odds, keeps alive the love she shared with Lee.

As their destiny unfolds, Deirdre and Lee dream about finding their way back to each other’s arms, and an unlikely guide emerges to light the path of their journey.

Universal Reader link: https://books2read.com/u/mBrG5D

Here’s a peek at the book…

Dear Heart —

I was so sorry to learn about Jean. I know you must be feeling adrift, as I did after Bill passed, and I wish I could be there with you to let you know that everything will be okay. But, after nearly forty years of suppressing my impulses to abandon everything and fly to your side, I simply cannot give in to them now. What I can do, however, is finally give voice to our most cherished memories which, after all of these years imprisoned, can at last be freed to exist within the light. 

Why now? Because it is safe. There is no one left to be hurt by the knowledge of what we shared for those fifteen short, wonderful months. There’s the children, of course, but they are older now than we were when we met, and unlikely, in this day and age, to be shocked by what we did – especially since, when the time came to decide which road we would take, we opted not to disrupt their lives, nor Jean’s, nor Bill’s. I have never regretted that decision, Dear Heart, though the pain of parting left me shell-shocked for all of these years. 

That is not to say that I haven’t thought about you every day since the heartbreaking morning we said goodbye, or often wished that things were still like they were all of those years ago when, after watching Soldier of Fortune on our first night together, you became my Clark, even though you looked nothing like Clark Gable, except for the mustache, and I became your Susan, even though I looked nothing like Susan Hayward, except for the color of my hair.

But it was never about looks with us, was it? It was a visceral attraction, shockingly strong, and immediately apparent. Seeing you walk by my office on your first day at Cunningham, Miller, Bender, and Schade took my breath away and, somehow in that instant, I knew that I had just glimpsed my soul mate.  And when you shook my hand at the meet-and-greet, and a thrill coursed through me like electricity, and when I saw that you experienced it too, I knew that Fate had brought us together and that we were going to be lovers. It was preposterous, really, because up to that point neither I, during fourteen years with Bill, nor you, during sixteen years with Jean, had ever considered cheating, or even looked at another person with the slightest interest.

But my relationship with Bill was not like ours; with Bill, it had been a practical attraction, not a sexual one. Bill had been drawn to my energy and outgoing personality, and I to his ability to provide stability and security, which I desperately needed after my parents died. We were helpmates, not soul mates, partners journeying through life, not as explorers and adventurers, like we were, Dear Heart, but rather like Eleanor and Franklin after Lucy Mercer. And, although we had a comfortable life, it lacked the vitality that a sexual component brings to a relationship. I did not dream of Bill’s touch, nor imagine the feel of his body on mine every waking moment such that I could think of nothing else. I did not eschew sleep to indulge the fantasies of my restless libido, nor walk through life in a perpetual state of arousal, a phenomenon which I had not experienced until you came into my life.

Oh, Dear Heart, how I’ve longed to hear you call me Susie once more, how I’ve ached for you every night! And, although I highly doubt that I could get this old, arthritic body of mine to ebb and flow like it used to, I yearn for one more afternoon with you, making sheet music in decibels so loud that we surely must have scared the gulls and the fish in the bay.

But time moves on. I have long since stopped dyeing my hair that rich, auburn color you loved so much and I’ve put on a few pounds that I can’t seem to shed no matter how little I eat. And, though you have seen me at my worst and loved me still, thirty-five and full-figured is one thing, but old and plump is another, especially when you throw in grey hair and the probability that the breath required to fund just one more BIG O with you would surely be my last.

Still, after years of putting one foot in front of the other and trying not to dwell on what was, I am finally able to give myself up to the experience without fear that I will die from the pain of wanting you and not being able to have you. I have been through the worst of it and have come out the other side – battered and bloodied, yes, forever changed, certainly, but better for having known you and the rapture that comes when two souls, created from the same wisp of angel’s breath, unite in love, if only for an instant.

As I take these first steps down the road of our experience, I realize that there are those who will see this as a quest for redemption, but nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, once upon a time we found the Holy Grail of love and fulfillment and were forced to relinquish it, but not because we were unworthy. Our hearts were pure, of this I am certain, but Fate had other plans for us, and sent us on a journey to prove our love was true. It was an arduous trip of longing and desire, sorrow and pain. But there were also respites along the way, of indescribable happiness and unexpected blessings.

Although I may never again know the fire of your embrace, I will experience it nonetheless as I retrace the steps of our story – slowly and with deliberation so that I can savor every morsel of our time together. Call it self-indulgent, or the fanciful undertaking of a silly old fool, but also call it a labor of love, Dear Heart, because most of all, that is what this is.

AUTHOR: Linda Lingle

TITLE: Dear Heart

GENRE: contemporary romance, second chance romance

RELEASE DATE: May 6, 2018

PUBLISHER: Solstice Publishing – Summer Solstice Imprint

ISBN/ASIN: B07CX91BYM

OUR RATING: ♥♥♥

REVIEWED BY: Kevin Ethan

Up Next Week: Take My Heart by J.J. Sorel

Thanks for reading our weekly book review on ILRB!

1 Comment

Filed under Blogging, Book News, book reviews, Books, Contemporary, Event, Readers, Reviews, Romance, score, Second Chances, Writing

A to Z’s of Romance: a Valentine’s romance blogger post by multi-genre author Marie Lavender

A to Z’s of Romance

 

I launched this blog in 2014. It just occurred to me that I haven’t written a post of my own in a while. Mainly I just share authors’ new releases, interview both authors and characters, we feature guest posts about romance, and we started offering book reviews in the new year. Sure, sometimes I feature love poetry I’ve written, but tackling a new article about romance?

Well…that’s just what ILRB is about, right? So I thought it was apropos to write something that might work for Valentine’s Day. ♥

Without further ado, here is my list of alphabetic advice for romantic relationships:

  1. Affection. By saying ‘I love you’, you can never go wrong. But your partner wants to see proof of your feelings as well.

    Carly Rae Hobbins, Unsplash

    Kiss your girl on the hand or forehead. Hold hands whenever you can. You don’t have to spend a ton of money to show your love. Simple gestures – love notes, for one – that express your affection will make your partner feel appreciated, and he or she will reciprocate in kind.

  2. Be Compassionate. We all have bad days or experience illness at one time or another. Some of us have a jerk for a boss. Listen to your partner and empathize with their problems.
  3. Creativity. If you think your romantic dates are getting stale, or stress is dragging you both down too much, get creative! Think of unique, fun activities to help you connect, and find different ways to appreciate each other.

    Created by Freepic.diller – Freepik.com

  4. Devotion. Stay devoted to your partner, and your relationship will be ‘deliciously dazzling’, and result in something ‘divine’ that you share. Do you see what I just did? 😉
  5. Excitement. When two people stay together in a relationship for a while, things tend to become more relaxed and that initial excitement you experienced evolves into a wiser love. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find some of those butterflies again. Arrange to meet your partner at a bar or other public location. Pretend you’re total strangers, that you’ve just met, and strike up a conversation.

    Created by Freepik

    Or act like it’s a blind date. Flirt a little. Feel free to explore each other all over again. Who knows? Maybe you’ll learn something new about your lover, and refuel your passion.

  6. Feed Your Partner. Just so you know, guys and gals, cooking a meal once in a while is a great way to show how much you care. You’re taking the time to make something nice that you both can enjoy.

    Created by Freepik

    Plus, as long as you don’t always launch into watching television right away, it can set the stage for a good, intimate conversation.

  7. Go On Dates Together. The origin of the word ‘date’, meaning a romantic liaison, can be traced all the way back to the 1890s and up to 1903 (I am such a word nerd! LOL.). No one is definite on the exact year.

    Created by Freepik

    Anyway…make date night a thing. By doing so, you’ll find ways to reconnect after a busy week and still enjoy yourselves.

  8. Have a Party at Home. How can that be romantic? Let’s find out. Well, you could throw a fun party just for the two of you, even add a theme to make it interesting. Exchange stories about how you fell in love. Share memorable times that made you appreciate your partner more. And heck, go all out with the food and wine. What a night, right?
  9. Identity. Recognize that you’re both unique people. Celebrate your differences and varying interests. For example, if the other person likes action, sci-fi or horror movies, volunteer to watch a film together.

    Created by Freepik

    Even your partner’s favorite one. Listen when they explain why this is their top movie. The experience will bring you closer, and help you understand the other person better.

  10. Just Be Open. Don’t forget to communicate more often. Be honest with each other about anything you’re feeling. Don’t go out of your way to be rude – tact has been tossed out the window these days, even though we should bring it back – but keep the lines of communication open. There’s a difference between texting and sitting down to have a real discussion without the interference of technology. You’ll feel much closer in the process.

    Created by Bearfotos – Freepik.com

  11. Kissing. A kiss is just a kiss, right? Hmm…not at all! There are different types of kisses. Sexy kisses, platonic kisses, light, affectionate kisses, and the list goes on. But there’s one I call the ‘floaty kiss’, the kiss of love. It’s the kiss where you can tell you’re in love, or at least almost there. How do I describe this? Well, your head spins, you get breathless – except that doesn’t seem to matter much – and the world disappears. All you can do is experience this thrilling, amazing kiss, and keep kissing back until you can no longer breathe. 😀

    JD Mason, Unsplash

    So, explore kissing with your partner. More often than not, this type of kiss happens when you can fully focus on each other. Kiss the one you love, and find a surprise on the journey.

  12. Lovers Rule. You don’t need to schedule your physical intimacy, of course, but if life has gotten in the way recently, try to reconnect in a romantic way. However, a satisfying quickie doesn’t hurt either! 😉

    Created by Pressfoto – Freepik.com

  13. Memories. Find some way to remember your happy moments together, to bring them to life. Go through pictures you took, or you could even make a collage or scrapbook of your romantic memories.
  14. New Activities. Try something new together. Take a class, go to a new, fancy restaurant, or learn a hobby as a couple. You’ll acclimate to working as a team, and share a new experience in the process.

    Created by Rawpixel.com – Freepik.com

  15. Observe. Pay attention to the subtle nuances in your partner’s life. Both men and women can feel taken for granted after a while, so help out with daily tasks when you can. Plus, if your partner has obviously been feeling down about something, go out of your way to make a special gesture that shows you notice him or her.
  16. Protect Your Private Time. It’s so easy to let life get in the way. Make an extra effort to spend more time together.
  17. Quietness. Savor your quiet moments together, even if you’re just cuddling and softly speaking. Life can be too hectic, and these times are precious.

    Created by Freepik

  18. Read a Romance Novel. Ha! Didn’t think I’d throw that one in there, did you? Guys, if you’re still calling these books ‘smut’ or ‘fluff’, get a table at Reality Check Diner. There are so many options with sub-genres now, from fantasy to paranormal, sci-fi and dystopian, all the way to romantic suspense and thrillers (here is a full list to make it easier to understand). There’s something for everyone. Or…maybe you’re into erotic romance. We won’t judge! ♥ Anyway, try reading a few romance books, and see if you still don’t have respect for them. Plus, immersing yourself in this type of fiction might let you know what your wife or girlfriend secretly yearns for. And having that knowledge is a good thing… 🙂

    Created by Freepik

  19. Sweetness and Sensuality. Be sweet and thoughtful with your partner. Never demean or make your significant other feel they aren’t worthy of love and attention. As for being sexy? Don’t be afraid to flirt, dress sexier or dance in front of your partner. Even if you feel foolish – and we understand that putting yourself out there causes vulnerability – your efforts won’t go unnoticed.

    Created by javi_indy – Freepik

  20. Talk. Stay interested in your partner’s life. “What are you doing today?” or “How was work?” are great conversation starters, and it’s better than an awkward silence. Even people who have been together for years develop a certain familiarity with each other and pay attention to unspoken cues. So, if you care, you’ll ask your partner what’s wrong when something is up.
  21. Unite. Make big decisions as a couple, instead of one partner going off and doing their own thing. If this will affect everyone, you should have a say too. Respect each other, honor one another’s opinions, and make an informed decision as a unit.
  22. Valued. Always make your partner feel valued. You want your significant other to see that you care, and you like to spend time with them.

    Created by Freepic.diller – Freepik.com

  23. Wedding…Yes or No? Hey, we get that marriage isn’t for everyone, but if you’ve been in a supposedly committed relationship for a long time, and the M word has never come up once, this a RED FLAG. Have a heart-to-heart, and find out if your partner has hang-ups about tying the knot.

    Katherine Hanlon, Unsplash

    Already married? Great! If you’ve been together for years, one idea to celebrate the romance in your relationship is to do it…again. Consider renewing your vows. Wouldn’t that be a fun event? What could be more romantic than remembering why you said yes, and marry your honey all over again?

  24. XOXO. Hugs and kisses are an important way to express how you feel about each other. These gestures can also be therapeutic during rough days. Touch is a big part of a romantic relationship…hey, not just the sexy kind of touching!

    Brooke Winters, Unsplash

  25. Youth Is Overrated. You don’t need to be a teenager or a twenty-something to still want romance in your life. Consider revitalizing your relationship with fun activities. At any age, you can always add in a gesture or two to spice things up.

    Thierry Hardoin, Flickr

  26. Zero. Contributing no effort at all will just cause trouble, at least in the long run. Relationships are hard work, but if you have a strong connection with your partner, none of these ‘little things’ you do for the one you love will ever feel like work.

    Created by Diller – Freepik

    And that’s my take for a prescription to achieve a lasting modern romance…

    So, what do you think? What might you add to this recipe for love? Comment in the thread below, and let’s start a discussion! 🙂 ♥

Host Blogger Bio

Marie Lavender lives in the Midwest with her family and three cats. She has been writing for a little over twenty-five years, and has more works in progress than she can count on two hands.  Since 2010, she has published 24 books in the genres of historical romance, contemporary romance, romantic suspense, paranormal romance, dramatic fiction, fantasy, science fiction, mystery/thriller, literary fiction and poetry. She is also the moderator of three blogs…the I Love Romance Blog, Marie Lavender’s Books!, and Writing in the Modern Age. She’s the proud recipient of several blogging awards and book awards. Follow Marie via her author website, varied blogs, or on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Also, feel free to sign up for her monthly newsletter, and follow her on BookBub. Her books can be located at most online booksellers.

Links

Website:  http://marielavender.com/

Blogs:  http://marielavender.blogspot.com/

http://marielavenderbooks.blogspot.com/

https://iloveromanceblog.wordpress.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/marie.lavender.58

https://www.facebook.com/MarieAnnLavender

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/marielavender1

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/marielavender1/

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

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6938764.Marie_Lavender

Publisher:  http://www.solsticeempire.com/products.aspx?categoryid=262

BookBub:  https://www.bookbub.com/authors/marie-lavender

AllAuthor:  http://marielavender1.allauthor.com/

Youtube/Book Trailers:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJu8HjRVYCFOqcIoX6ZxdqQ/videos

Sign up for Marie’s Newsletter: http://bit.ly/1g3wO13

 

Happy reading, everyone! 🙂 And Happy Valentine’s Day!

Created by starline – freepik

4 Comments

Filed under Blogging, Books, Dating Tips, Event, Hope, Love, Message, Readers, Relationships, Romance, romantic ideas, Traditions, Valentine's

Book Review: Boardroom, Bedroom by Gemma Snow

This week’s I Love Romance Blog review selection is Boardroom, Bedroom by Gemma Snow. If you’re looking for a short story with a lot of meat and very little potatoes, this one’s for you!

Geneva is a business woman trying to finalize a deal and Dylan is the hot guy, heir to the company, standing in her way. The story goes by quickly and is filled with plenty of sex (for those of you who are looking for those kind of stories), but be warned – the overarching storyline sets the women’s movement back…way back.

I waited a week to write this review, just to see if my thoughts changed at all – they didn’t.

Geneva is a smart woman, or she is supposed to be. After a particularly trying meeting with Dylan and his father, she decides on a night out with her best friend. The best friend who promptly bails on her at the bar (what kind of friend does that?).

Geneva thinks, “Okay…I’ll have fun on my own.” (You go, girl!) While dancing, she proceeds to let a guy she doesn’t know and even hasn’t looked at, use his hands on her in the dirtiest ways possible…on the dance floor. (I get it, that’s pretty hot.)

Then, still without even looking at him…she agrees to go home with him.

You were supposed to be smart, Geneva!

But, surprise! We already know who the guy was the whole time (Thank goodness it wasn’t that creepy guy who hangs out at every bar, ever.)

Fast forward, after a lot of hot sex…he agrees to the business deal. At this point, I was just thinking, “Kick him in the balls, Geneva!… and don’t forget your clutch on the way out!” (Quid pro sex is not sexy.)

But, no. She was happy about it. 😦

I love romance and always will. But, stories that make women (or men) less than what they should be and what they deserve, are, let’s face it…a boner killer.

I give Boardroom, Bedroom by Gemma Snow 1 HEART.

Book Info:

All Geneva Sterling wants is for Trenton and Sons Investment to sign the contract that could make her career. She’s been after them for nearly a year, and would have been successful too – if it weren’t for Dylan freaking Trenton. He’s hell bent on sinking this deal, and he’ll stop at nothing to get her to back off. But Geneva’s not going down without a fight, even if her opponent in this boardroom boxing match makes her hotter than anyone else ever has.

Dylan Trenton just wants to get his mind off work, and the powerful, infuriating and oh-so-beautiful Geneva Sterling. So when an associate takes him to Club Underground to check out his most recent investment, Dylan decides to go with the flow. After all, there’s a goddess in a slinky silver dress just calling his name. But when he finds out exactly who he’s dancing – and more – with, Dylan learns that hate and desire run a close parallel, and tonight he might just step over the line.

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

Gemma’s free option: https://claims.prolificworks.com/free/r7rS2

The teaser is way too racy for us to post on ILRB, but you can view it on the author’s site here.

AUTHOR: Gemma Snow

TITLE: Boardroom, Bedroom

GENRE: erotica

RELEASE DATE: October 13, 2017

PUBLISHER: Amazon Digital Services LLC

ISBN/ASIN: B076FM75HL

OUR RATING: ♥

REVIEWED BY: Kevin Ethan

Up Next Week: Dear Heart by Linda Lingle

Thanks for reading our weekly book review on ILRB!

1 Comment

Filed under Blogging, Book News, book reviews, Books, Erotica, Event, Fiction, free books, Readers, Relationships, Reviews, Romance, score, short stories, steamy, Stories, Writing