Tag Archives: romance books

Book Review: The Impaler’s Wife by Autumn Bardot

If you haven’t checked the updates to our review policy, please do. I am taking over in the meantime. Our latest I Love Romance Blog review selection is The Impaler’s Wife by Autumn Bardot. What a great read! 😀

The test of a good book is one that successfully tells a tale from which you can’t turn away. The test of a good writer is one who constructs characters anyone can care about, even if their beliefs may not align with the reader. Suspension of disbelief, and being drawn into the fictional world is key. Bardot’s The Impaler’s Wife is one such title. This gothic romance is thrilling, with unerring historical accuracy, and a hint of the legend of Dracula which most have heard of.

I love tales about Dracula, and this one is just as fascinating. Housed in historical fiction, complete with gory descriptions of war and a tale of unrivaled passion, The Impaler’s Wife gives us a unique take on not only the legend of Dracula, but also a story of the man himself. Who is Vlad the Impaler? And, who is Ilona, the strong, amazing woman that falls for him?

As a reader, I was yanked into the tale from page one, equal parts mystified throughout, and by turns horrified yet unusually resigned to the circumstances. This book may test your faith in…well, everything you think you know. Bardot has an uncanny ability to make one of the most vilified historical figures utterly human. Or is he far more than that?

Ilona really comes into her own from the first time we encounter her – and that pivotal moment when Vlad approaches her – to the well-rounded, confident, strong female she becomes by the end of the book. I enjoyed learning about both characters.

So…is Dracula just a story? It is tempting to think otherwise. Bardot may make you a believer too. Take a chance on this read. You won’t be disappointed!

I give this a rating of four hearts for an outstanding, unforgettable reading experience. Fantastic job, Autumn! ♥

Book Info:

A young woman is swept into a life of intrigue, revenge, passion, and betrayal when she falls for the world’s most notorious prince.

The year is 1464 and young King Matthias controls Hungary, his family, and the fate of the world’s most notorious political prisoner, Prince Vlad Dracula.

Ilona Szilágy, the king’s cousin, is young and ambitious. Dracula is determined to marry into the Hunyadi family. It is love at first sight, but the king has other plans. The Impaler Prince, however, never takes no for an answer.

This begins Ilona’s journey into the treacherous world of court intrigues, family betrayals, and her husband’s dark desires. Eager to become Vlad’s trusted confidante, Ilona soon discovers that marriage to a man tortured by his past comes with a price.

Woven throughout is a peek into the life and times of one of the world’s most enigmatic and maligned rulers…the man before the legend.

With Bardot’s decadent period detail and a cast of gritty, evocative characters, The Impaler’s Wife offers a fierce yet sensuous glimpse into the violent 15th century.

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

Here are some teasers!

And the book trailer…

Plus, an intriguing excerpt!

Prince Vlad rests his hand on the small of my back. “Come, Lady Ilona, look at the faces of anarchy and villainy, and see how much they resemble your friends and family.”

“I will not.” I back away from the entrance where moans rise from the bowels of the labyrinth like a demon’s song.

“The choice is yours, of course.” His tone is low and gentle, but in the lamplight his stare is wolf-like.

I shift from foot to foot, look away, only to glance back. Does he hear my heart knocking against my breast? Can he smell my fear as it beads wet on my neck? Do I want to rise to this challenge? Or am I a fool for allowing him to bait me?

My fingers tighten around the lamp’s clay handle. “I will humor you, my lord, but only because Father taught me courage and graciousness.”

“Mihály taught you well.” He holds out his hand. “My lady.”

The lamp divides the darkness like a saber, each foot forward lighting our descent into hell. Ghostly groans from below seep through the rock. I sink into Vlad’s fur-lined coat as though their suffering will soak into my soul.

Vlad pauses before descending the narrow rock steps leading into the labyrinth’s deepest level. “Are you certain?” His eyes glint with challenge. “A weak constitution is nothing to be ashamed of.”

I lift my chin and glare with pretended insult. “I am the daughter of Michael Szilágyi and Margit Báthory. Iron courage flows in my blood.” I push back my cuff and show him the blue-forked veins in my wrist. “I am as brave as Hadak Ura, our ancient pagan warlord.”

“I believe you, my lady. I will not doubt again.”

The clanking chains and eerie moans get louder with each step down, the noises merging into a demonic choir like that of Ördög’s requiem to the Underworld. My legs shake, my neck wet with icy prickles, and my skin tightens around my chest.

I lift the lamp into hell.

The circle of light shines upon a pockmarked man stretching his arm between the bars, his fingers curled like claws. “Bless me, good sister.”

In the cell next to him, a naked wretch spits onto the ground. “Menj a fenébe!”

“I am innocent!” A third prisoner grabs the bars and presses his wild-bearded face against the iron. “Tell His Highness there is a Turkish spy in his court. He is in danger! You must warn him!”

My head swivels toward Prince Vlad.

“There are always spies,” Vlad whispers.

I walk with measured pace and let the lantern reveal each doomed prisoner. Most stare, empty-eyed; the whips, chains, skin shredders, bone crushers, and strappado take away all hope and spirit. Others shout obscenities. One man kneels, hands in prayer, and mutters the Hail Mary.

The weight of their misery crashes down, squeezes my heart, and crushes my breath. This place must be worse than hell’s torments because these wretches yet live, have all their faculties! No one deserves this! It is inhumane! Sadistic and depraved!

My breath comes in shreds and clumps. I cover my nose with Prince Vlad’s cape, the stench of rotting flesh enfolding me in its putrid embrace. My pace quickens. It is time to end this test of my courage.

“You!” A milky-eyed wretch points to Prince Vlad and begins chanting in a foreign tongue.

Prince Vlad guides me away from the cells. “You have thrice over proven your courage tonight.”

“What language was that man speaking?”

“He recites from the Corpus Hermeticum.” Dracula takes the lantern and illuminates the stairwell. “It’s a pagan book of alchemy, astronomy, and metaphysics.”

“It sounded like he cursed us.”

“Pay no attention to a madman’s rants. That particular book is nothing but Egyptian and Greek nonsense.”

I tread upwards, evil’s chill clinging to my limbs. At the top, I try to purge the dungeon’s misery, malice, and madness with a long exhalation. Yet the horror sticks like nettles in my soul.

“This way.” I move past the dark tunnel and enter the lighted one, relieved to put space and distance between the prisoners and me.

The tunnel ends at a large grotto where Prince Vlad pauses to light the ring of torches affixed to the walls. I wait on a stone bench near the baptismal fount, sighing with relief as the golden glow of the church-like arches infuse peace into my troubled soul.

Prince Vlad sits beside me. “We go from hell to heaven.”

I tuck a stray lock behind my ear. “This was Father’s favorite grotto. God’s Buried Cathedral, he called it. His second favorite has a Titan-sized head emerging from the ground—like a god got stuck in molten rock. I was only in that grotto once. It reminded me of an insect trapped in tree sap that ages to amber—the insect forever entombed—never aging, almost alive in its resin grave.”

“Do you find that horrific or beautiful?” His eyes search mine.

“Both, I suppose.” My shoulders move into my sigh. “Caves are dreary places.”

“I rather enjoy them. Tunnels have saved my life several times.” Dracula stands. “I think we are both ready for fresh air.” He offers his hand, its warmth a familiar comfort.

Together we walk through the tunnel lit by small lanterns that flicker like fireflies all the way to the exit.

Prince Vlad gives the stubborn iron-crossed door a hard yank and it groans open. Outside, a sapphire dawn drapes over Buda.

“On no.” My hands fly to my face. “It’s so late it’s early.” Were we in the tunnels that long? If my aunts discover I never returned to my room…I spin about, my voice edged with panic. “I have to go back. Now.”

Vlad’s brows crease with concern. He tugs a handkerchief from his robe and touches it to my lips as though dabbing at a smudge. “There’s something I must do first.” He lays the linen over my lips and sets his mouth on mine.

Even through the thin fabric, his lips sear my own. I part my lips, feel the linen moisten with the breath of our lust. I collapse into him, my body sizzling with desire. I am about to rip away the fabric and taste his lips when he breaks the kiss.

Vlad Dracula steps back, the handkerchief between thumb and forefinger. “If you marry Luigi della Scala, you will still be chaste.” He drags the handkerchief across his mouth. “I will always have this.”

Chaste? Prince Vlad just violated my heart and corrupted my flesh!

Back in my chambers, I touch my lips that still burn with the memory of our kiss—my first kiss—and groan. Vlad Dracula used my virtue, conceit, and fears to study the labyrinth’s secrets. He took advantage of my desire for romantic adventure to learn the escape route.

AUTHOR: Autumn Bardot

TITLE: The Impaler’s Wife

GENRE: Historical Fiction, Gothic Romance

RELEASE DATE: March 27, 2019

PUBLISHER: Flores Publishing

ISBN/ASIN: B07NKJX7R8

OUR RATING: ♥♥♥♥

REVIEWED BY: Marie Lavender

Get your copy of this new release today!

Up next time: Unglorious War by Maxine Flam

Thanks for reading our latest book review on ILRB!

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Filed under Blogging, Book News, book reviews, Books, Event, Fiction, Gothic, Historical, Historical Romance, rating, Readers, Reviews, Romance, score, steamy, Writing

FREE Book Feature: The Hitman’s Mistake by author Sally Brandle

.•*´¨❥¸.•*´¨ FREE READ¸.•*´¨❥¸.•

While they escape killers…they can’t escape falling in love.

I am pleased to announce a cool book offer by author Sally Brandle! The first book in the Love Thrives in Emma Springs Series, The Hitman’s Mistake, is FREE on Amazon Kindle this week!

Yay! Good for you, Sally! 🙂

These free offers are very exciting for both authors and readers because we get to meet lots of new people! Sally’s free promo is scheduled to last for four more days, from now to May 19th. So, swing by and check it out if you can! 😉

Sally is giving us a look at this clean romantic suspense today…

Great cover!

This is the blurb for The Hitman’s Mistake:

After Miranda Whitley stops crooked cops from assassinating a prominent Seattle judge, she’s next on the hit list, and her survival depends on the buff FBI Agent she’s had one awkward encounter with. But can she find him in time?

The last person Grant Morley expects to discover on his annual supply run to a Montana mountain hermit is alluring Miranda Whitley, nearly dead from a bullet wound in her side. An accidental witness or the cold-blooded accomplice to would-be assassins?

Miranda must convince Grant of her innocence, evade the killers intent on preventing her testimony, and fight her unwanted attraction for the agent…an attraction which seems to be mutual. Fortunately, love thrives in Emma Springs. If you love sizzling chemistry, Montana’s mountain landscape, and fast-paced action, then you’ll love Sally Brandle’s galloping thriller, The Hitman’s Mistake.

And here is an excerpt to tease you with.

[Setting: Our heroine’s pruning indoor plants in the lobby of Seattle’s Justice Building after hours. Her elderly friend, Judge Ike Gilson, was working in his chambers earlier.]

Soft taps came from a few feet behind her. She tilted her head.

Footsteps? From the stairwell? Miranda released her grip, and the tree limb sprang free. She swung her head and watched the branch skim the fly of the trousers on the man now towering over her right shoulder.

Not Ike. She froze.

“What in the hell? Oh, didn’t see you there—” he sidestepped, and her cup scrunched in protest under his big boot. The lid popped off and the double shot of Kona glugged into a mocha-scented pool.

He jumped to avoid the puddle. “Damn energy conservation put you in the shadows. Sorry, I nailed your coffee.” His swinging backpack missed her nose by inches.

She twisted her body and scooted her butt until her shoulder jammed against a carved pot.

“I didn’t mean to frighten you.”

“It’s okay,” she mumbled, keeping her head lowered to avoid further contact with the bag-wielding klutz wearing black trousers. Must’ve been him she’d glimpsed a few minutes ago, while the elevator doors had closed on the floor below Ike’s.

“I’ve never been attacked by a branch. Must say, you deployed it well,” the deep voice announced. He stopped directly in front of her.

His hiking boots made her size-nine high-tops appear dainty.

Not the shoes of a snobby lawyer or a lost, post-trial pimp trying to find his way out of the building. Still, the flailing branch served him right for sneaking up on her. “I didn’t hear you.”

“And I shouldn’t text and walk,” he said in a lighter, almost sexy tone. “I’m Grant.” He dropped his pack and stuck out his hand.

An FBI tag printed ‘GRANT MORLEY’ hung from the bag.

She peered from under her cap’s brim and gulped.

Him.

Agent of Interest. Her heart took off at a gallop.

Purchase Links:

Universal Reader link:  https://books2read.com/u/brpxK7

Nice! ♥♥♥ This looks like a riveting romance! 😉

Also, check out book two of the series, which is up for pre-order! ♥

Thank you for telling us about your free book and your upcoming release, Sally! I know I can’t wait to read these! 😀

Readers, don’t forget to pick up a FREE copy of this awesome book on Amazon today through Sunday!

Author Bio

Multi-award winning author Sally Brandle weaves slow-burning romance into edgy suspense stories. Sally left a career as an industrial baking instructor to bring to life stories motivating readers to trust their inner gifts. Her rescue Aussie is her companion during long spells of writing, bouts of tormenting weeds in her garden, or afternoons spent riding on the wind with her twenty-eight year old Quarter Horse. Sign up for her newsletter at www.sallybrandle.com for freebies. The second book (without intimate scenes) in her Love Thrives in Emma Springs series, Torn By Vengeance, is currently on presale and releases May 22nd, 2019.

Author Links

Website:  http://www.sallybrandle.com

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/people/Sally-Brandle/100012840931763

https://www.facebook.com/Sally-Brandle-314254908616550/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/sallybrandle

Amazon Author Page:  https://www.amazon.com/Sally-Brandle/e/B07DNGP1N7/

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18116238.Sally_Brandle

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

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

Monthly writing tips column:  www.writer-writer.com

Books:

Coming Soon:

Available Now:

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

Happy reading, everyone!   😉

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Filed under Authors, Book Giveaways, Book News, Book Release, Books, coming soon, Contemporary, Event, Fiction, free books, giveaway, new release, Readers, Romance, Romantic Suspense, Thriller/Suspense

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

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

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

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

Author Sheri Langer:  Hi, Marie!

Marie:  Such a pleasure to have you here!

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

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

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

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

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

Marie:  I know what you mean! 😉

So, tell us…what is your family like?

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

Marie:  Cool!

Let’s try something else, okay?

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

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

Marie:  Wow…

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

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

Marie:  Okay.

So…what is your greatest dream?

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

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

Let’s try another question.

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

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

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

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

Marie:  (Chuckles.)

All right, let’s try something else now.

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

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

Marie:  I can see how that would be heartbreaking.

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

[Sheri nods.]

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

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

Marie:  That I can understand! 😀

So, who is your role model, Sheri?

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

Marie:  All right.

Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?

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

Marie:  Great to hear!

And what is your deepest desire?

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

Marie:  I see.

So…what is your greatest fear?

Sheri:  My work not making a difference.

Marie:  Let’s try another question.

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

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

Marie:  (Laughs.) Sounds perfect!  😀

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

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

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

Marie:  Okay.

And what are Fordham’s greatest strengths?

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

Marie:  How admirable! 😀

And her weaknesses?

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

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

Let’s try something fun, shall we?

What are some of her favorite foods?

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

Marie:  I’m a chocoholic too! 😉

How about another question?

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

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

Marie:  I see.

Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?

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

Marie:  Great!

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

What first gave you the idea for Love-Lines?

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

Marie:  Lovely!

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

Let’s try something else.

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

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

Marie:  Awesome!

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

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

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

Marie:  Great advice!

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

Here is the blurb:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Purchase Links:

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

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

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

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

About Sheri Langer

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

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

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

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

Books:

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

 

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

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

Romance Novel Memories, Plus a Reader Poll!

Check out this romance reader poll, and join in on the fun!

Marie Lavender- Multigenre Author

Romance Novel Memories, Plus a Reader Poll!

 

Do you remember the first romance novel you ever read, or even which romance story in a film, that made you ‘swoon’?

As a child I’d always been swept away by the tales of Snow White, Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty. And romantic comedy movies were wonderful! While I was growing up, I savored the Mary Anne/Logan couple dynamics in The Baby-Sitters Club book series.

https://books2read.com/u/mBQLpk

Being a writer and a bookworm at heart, however, I must be true to my passion. The first romance novel I remember being simply thrilled with was Annette Curtis Klause’s The Silver Kiss. I was browsing my library at school. I think was about twelve or thirteen. I had just finished two other reads, The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle (YA historical), and Say Goodnight, Gracie (YA fiction/drama).

https://books2read.com/u/mY1VJw

https://books2read.com/u/bQ61Q0

I needed a change, something altogether…

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Filed under Blogging, Book News, Books, Contemporary, contest, Event, Fiction, Historical Romance, Message, Readers, Romance, Young Adult

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

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

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

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

Author Nicolina Martin:  Hi, Marie!

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

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

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

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

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

Marie:  Oh, nice! 😀

So, tell us…what is your family like?

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

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

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

Let’s try something else, okay?

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

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

Marie:  I see…

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

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

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

So…what is your greatest dream?

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

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

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

Let’s try another question.

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

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

Marie:  Okay.

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

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

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

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

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

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

OMG! How terrifying. 😥

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

[Nicolina nods.]

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

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

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

Marie:  Great!

So, who is your role model, Nicolina?

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

Marie:  Okay.

Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?

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

Marie:  Good to hear!

And what is your deepest desire?

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

Marie:  I see.

So…what is your greatest fear?

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

That my egocentric persona will have driven everyone away.

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

Let’s try another question.

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

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

Marie:  (Laughs.) There you go!  😀

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

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

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

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

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

Marie:  OMG, love it…Ian is sooo hot!

And what are Nathan’s greatest strengths?

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

Marie:  Cool! And his weaknesses?

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

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

Let’s try something fun, shall we?

What are some of his favorite foods?

Nicolina:  Anything Italian. Seafood.

Marie:  Great!

How about another question?

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

Nicolina:  That he is capable of tenderness and compassion.

Marie:  Nice! 😀

Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?

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

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

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

What first gave you the idea for Heat?

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

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

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

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

Let’s try something else.

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

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

Marie:  Lovely!

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

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

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

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

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

Marie:  Well said!

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

Here is the blurb:

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

Sydney

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

Nathan

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

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

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

Nicolina is also offering us a teaser from the book!

Sydney

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“This is not information we can give out.”

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

“By the ocean or in town, Miss?”

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

“Ocean,” I mutter.

“Absolutely,” he says cheerfully.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Nate?” I call.

I groan out loud. Fine!

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

***

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

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

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

“You fucking, arrogant jerk!” I spit.

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

“Yes! I can’t believe I came here.”

“And yet you did.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Naked?” he whispers into my mouth.

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

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

“No,” I half squeak.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Purchase Links:

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

Publisher:  http://bit.ly/HEAT-NM-BB

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

About Nicolina Martin

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

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

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

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

Books:

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

 

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

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Filed under Authors, Blogging, Book News, Books, characters, Contemporary, dark romance, Event, Fiction, Guest Writer, Interview, Mafia Romance, Multicultural/Interracial, new release, Readers, Romance, Romantic Suspense, steamy, Thriller/Suspense, Writers, Writing

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

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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!

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

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

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

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

Author Kaitlynzq:  Hello, Marie.

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

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

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

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

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

Marie:  I know what you mean! 😉

Tell us…what is your greatest dream?

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

Marie:  All right. I know dreams can change.

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

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

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

Marie:  Me too!

What is your deepest desire, Kaitlynzq?

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

Marie:  That’s understandable.

Tell me something…what is your greatest fear?

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

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

So, I want to try something different next.

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

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

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

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

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

Marie:  Okay.

What are your character’s greatest strengths?

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

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

Marie:  Nice!

And what are his greatest weaknesses?

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

Marie:  I see.

Let’s try something fun, shall we?

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

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

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

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

Marie:  Awesome… 🙂

How about another question?

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

Kaitlynzq:  He emanates so beautifully a masculine tenderness.

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

Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?

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

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

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

Marie:  Lovely!

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

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

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

Marie:  Great!

Interesting how the muse works, huh? 😉

Let’s try something else.

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

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

Marie:  I know, right?

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

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

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

Marie:  Indie publishing can be quite a challenge…

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

Here is the blurb:

The stories within Legendof Song de Light

connect, unfold, interweave many character’s stories

needs, feelings, desires, dreams

their threads as two crescent moons

connected under the firelights

that layer the chords, and form the lyrics

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

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

circle the melody

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

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

Ancient Script of Lovecontu audio poem

Legend of Song de Light audio book

Legend of Song de Light audio play

Lovecontu Song de Light Lovecontu audio set

Hashtag for ​series of interconnected stories: #lovecontusongdelightlovecontu

Vocal Synopsis:​  

Kaitlynzq is also offering us a teaser from the audiobook!

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

 

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

 

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

 

“…Dearest Euzy,

Your drum of cashmere footsteps,

harp of silk strings touch,

and velvet flute voice,

Are an ensemble for my heart.

Forever yours,

Edwin…”

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

Title:​ Legend​ of Song de Light

Author Name:​​ Kaitlynzq

Genre: Adult​ Literary Fiction, Romance

Purchase Links:

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

https://kaitlynzq.com/

https://kaitlynzq.boutique/

 

Direct Links on my Website to the story:

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

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

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

About Kaitlynzq

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

that

beautiful, vulnerable, intimate space

feelings, desires, needs, dreams

 

a blend of

 

delicate feather ripples of heart waves

needs, feelings, dreams, desires

quiet, gentle heart strings

tender, continuous

soft, vulnerable air mist

circles, weaves to caress

a sonic sea of heart’s breath

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

Works:

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

 

Here are her video and blog post about this interview…

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

 

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

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

Blog Tour Feature: Expecting Ty’s Baby by Empi Baryeh

.•*´¨❥¸.•*´¨ NEW RELEASE¸.•*´¨❥¸.•*´¨

Nothing will prevent him from claiming his child or the woman he considers his…

I am pleased to announce a cool book blog tour going on right now, presented by Empi Baryeh, an author I met during my journey! Congratulations on your new multicultural 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 romance novels!

Let’s hear a little about this great book…

Nice!

This is the blurb for Expecting Ty’s Baby, From Ghana with Love Series, Book 2:

Abandoned by her father at a young age, beauty therapist, Patricia Owusu, has learned the hard way that men can’t be relied on. She’s determined to make it on her own without falling into the cultural trappings of marriage. However, when she finds herself pregnant after a torrid love affair with African-American financial consultant, Ty Webber, she discovers one man’s resolve to stick around.

When Ty discovers Patricia is carrying his baby, he offers marriage; because real men take responsibility for their actions. He isn’t prepared for Patricia’s stubborn determination to make it on her own. But nothing will prevent him from claiming his child or the woman he considers his.

Can Ty convince Patricia to take a chance on him to help provide a loving home for their baby, or will Patricia’s mistrust lead her to miss out on true love and rob her child of the type of father she never had?

Empi is giving us a peek at her hot multicultural romance, Expecting Ty’s Baby, today.

Great cover!

 

Book Info:

Author: Empi Baryeh

Series: From Ghana With Love #2

Publisher: Black Opal Books

Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Multicultural

Heat Level: Sensual

Cover Artist: Kim Killion

Release Date: March 30, 2019

 

Here is an excerpt.

I don’t need taken care of, you know,” Patricia said when they stepped outside. Her voice came out low, a whisper, which nonetheless projected in the still warmth of the night.

After several seconds without a response from him, she turned sideways. He stared ahead, his profile stoic. Finally, she heard his deep intake of breath.

He looked at her, and thunder might as well have struck after the flash of…annoyance? Impatience? Incredulity?

“Are you always on the defensive?”

 Aggravation. Despite the balmy, breezeless air, Patricia shivered. Perhaps she should have been scared, but she wasn’t. Somehow, Ty didn’t strike her as the kind of man whose patience wore thin as easily as wind blew away flakes of cotton. Yet, she also realized she’d pushed a button or two between yesterday and today.

She began to say something, but her response staggered as she realized she didn’t know how to answer his question. She sighed. “It’s always been just me and my mum. I guess I’m simply used to having to stick up for myself.”

His look softened. “Trish, I know you’re a strong woman. Hell, it’s one of the things I admire about you. But did it occur to you I only wanted some alone time with you?”

She couldn’t help it. She giggled. “You could have just said so.”

“In that case, how about this?”

He faced her fully, subjecting her to a powerful blast of his magnetism. Electricity jolted through her, and she realized he’d touched her; warmth infused her body where his hands bracketed her waist.

The next instant, she was plastered against him, her soft abdomen privy to the state of his desire. His heated breath wafted over her face, a mix of him and the whiskey he’d had at dinner. An avalanche of sensations, fierce and unrelenting hit her in the gut.

Then the worst thing happened. The most embarrassing moment of her life.

She threw up.

On him.

For several seconds, she could only stare in horror at her dinner, now a less than palatable concoction splattered on Ty’s clothes and shoes.

He still held her as she doubled over, one hand on her shoulder, the other rubbing her back.

“Trish, what’s going on?” He pushed back a few strands of her braids hanging loose from the confines of her up do.

“I am so sorry,” she said.

“We need to get you to a hospital.”

Crap! Her stomach lurched again, and she figured out what had triggered the emesis. Thankfully, what came out the second time was minimal. She took in a deep breath, exhaling through her mouth. It seemed to help.

Ty held up the bottle of water he’d taken with him from dinner. “Here—”

“Please stop talking,” she gasped, turning away from him. “I need a minute.”

“This could be food poisoning. You need a doctor.”

“I don’t, and it’s not food poisoning. It’s the alcohol.”

“You didn’t drink.”

“No, but you did.”

His features assumed a frown, his confusion absolute. “You’re sick because I drank?”

“I’m not sick. I’m—”

She stopped abruptly, tossing different possible explanations in her head, all of them partial truths. No matter what anyone said, keeping quiet and outright lying were not the same. She wasn’t prepared to do the latter, but she’d spoilt her chances of doing the former.

“I’m…uh.”

His eyes narrowed. “You’re what?”

“I’m…”

Shiiit.

She couldn’t believe she was going to tell him. “I’m pregnant, Ty.”

Purchase Links:

PRAISE FOR EXPECTING TY’S BABY

 Well written, enchanting, and heart-warming, this is one romance fans should love. TAYLOR JONES (Reviewer)

 Poignant, charming, and full of wonderful characters, Expecting Ty’s Baby will warm your heart right down to your toes. A wonderful love story and a worthy addition to the series. – REGAN MURPHY (Reviewer)

OMG! Love all the tension. ♥♥♥

Ooh…what a tale!😉

Empi is giving away a $15 Amazon gift card. 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/537f0b386/

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

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

And catch book one in the series!

Expecting Ty’s Baby looks great! ♥ We’ll be sure to check it out! Don’t miss the giveaway!

Author Bio

Empi Baryeh is the award-winning author of Most Eligible Bachelor (Book of the year, 2017 Ufere Awards). She writes sweet and sensual African, multicultural and interracial romance, which happens to be her favorite genres of romance to read. Her interest in writing started around the age of thirteen after she stumbled upon a YA story her sister had started and abandoned. The story fascinated her so much that, when she discovered it was unfinished, she knew she had to complete it. Somehow the rest of the story began to take shape in her mind and she’s been writing ever since.

She lives in Accra, Ghana, with her husband and their two lovely kids.

Author Links

Website:  https://www.empibaryeh.com/

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

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/EmpiBaryeh

Amazon Author Page:  https://www.amazon.com/Empi-Baryeh/e/B007592E12/

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5625111.Empi_Baryeh

BookBub:  https://www.bookbub.com/authors/empi-baryeh

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

 

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 Empi and her blog tour sponsor!

We hope to see you back on ILRB sometime. 

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

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Filed under Authors, Blogging, Book News, Book Release, Books, Contemporary, Event, Fiction, Gifts, giveaway, Multicultural/Interracial, new release, Readers, Romance, Women's Fiction, 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! 😉

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