Tag Archives: romantic suspense

Exclusive Interview with author Chris Ann Yim, plus a look at military romance, LIAISON IN LYUDINOVO!

Hi, readers! I am pleased to announce a very special post today on ILRB. We’re doing something a little different. This is our seventeenth 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 Chris Ann Yim to ILRB! 😀

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

Author Chris Ann Yim:  Hi, Marie!

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

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

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

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

Chris:  I am a former history teacher turned military romance author. I LOVE writing in this genre. I have to say, the more I write the better I become. Reading and learning from other authors has been tremendously beneficial to me as well.

Marie:  Wow, that’s awesome! 😀

So, tell us…what is your family like?

Chris:  I am married to an Army veteran who treats me like a queen. He provides for our family, allowing me to write full-time from home. We were both only children and have an only child cat.

Marie:  Wonderful! I have fur babies 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?

Chris:  I grew up in a suburban ranch home with two bedrooms and one bathroom. Dad added a second bathroom when I was in middle school, and we got central air when I was twelve. Harvest gold kitchen from 1969 with knotty pine cabinets. It was full of love, and there was an RV in the backyard. I wouldn’t trade my years there for anything.

Marie:  Nice! 😉

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

Chris:  Writing used to be my hobby. Now that I write full time, photography has become my biggest hobby. I enjoy capturing the essence of Southern American culture, whether it be muggy sunsets, cornbread, or old cemetery headstones.

Marie:  Cool!

And what is your greatest dream?

Chris:  At this point in my life, my greatest dream is to raise a healthy, well-adjusted family with the love of my life.

Marie:  Sounds like a plan. 😀

Let’s try another question.

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

Chris:  The one thing that I haven’t perfected is being patient. However, if I were still in my twenties, I’d tell you that I want to become the person that I am today. My thirties have been extremely enlightening. After finishing school, finding my husband, changing careers, and all of the other tedious steps that I took to get to age 31, I’m right where I’m supposed to be. I just have to hone my craft of writing. I think that comes with time.

Marie:  True. I wish I could be a little more patient as well.

So…who was your first love?

Chris:  My father was my first love. He is a strong man who’s been seasoned by life’s many trials and experiences. He also has a love of muscle cars and America like I do. He has really affected my outlook on life, and I am very thankful.

Marie:  Aww! ♥

With the next question, I hope I’m not prying too much, but we are curious…

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

Chris:  When I broke up with my college boyfriend, after three and a half years of dating, I would have told you that it was the most terrible thing that ever happened to me. That was tragedy to my twenty-two year old brain. Two years later, when I got broken up with from my first G.I. Joe, I knew my life was over because he was my dream man. I know now that my life was just beginning.

I’ve lost a best friend. I’ve battled not being able to use a limb after major surgery. I’ve struggled with depression. My husband and I struggled with infertility. But, I feel like every ‘tough’ experience I’ve ever gone through has made me stronger. It’s forged my steel. I’ve gone through some rough times, but nothing screams ‘terrible.’ Thanks to the good Lord, I’m incredibly blessed.

Marie:  Yikes, so many things! 😕

But what an incredibly inspiring outlook to have. How admirable! 😉

Let’s move on to another topic, shall we?

[Chris 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?

Chris:  My dream growing up was to be a psychiatrist, but the Lord changed my path in the middle of organic chemistry lab, junior year of college. I know that it was divine intervention. Thinking about it now, I would still be in an incredible amount of debt from medical school, and I have a habit of shouldering people’s problems. My brain would be racked with worry because I honestly care too much.

So, when that didn’t pan out, my next dream was to be a history teacher. Did that. Then, I quit that profession to start a family and write novels. Working on that now. Bette Davis said it best, “Success only breeds a new goal.”

Marie:  So true!

Well, let’s try something else…

Who is your role model, Chris?

Chris:  All praise to my mother. She did it all; school, work, family, cooking, cleaning, helping others. She never cracked, either. At least, not in front of me. She is the strongest woman I know. If I even manage to somehow be half of the woman she is, I will have succeeded. She’s just that amazing.

Marie:  Nice!

Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?

Chris:  I don’t think it’s possible to like everything about everyone. I have people that I completely dislike, but I pray for them…sometimes. I try to be nice. I know some people don’t like me. I don’t even like everything about myself. So, overall, no.

Marie:  (Chuckles.) Okay.

Let’s do something different.

What is your deepest desire?

Chris:  Unconditional love. Also, warm summer nights riding around in my Mustang. Drinking a chocolate malt. Listening to Junior Kimbrough with my man by my side. I’m not complicated in my desires. I value my Southland, my family, and my faith more than anything.

Marie:  They sound like great goals to me! 😉

And what is your greatest fear?

Chris:  Losing everything due to something unforeseen or uncontrollable. Losing my family or my home. I just have to keep on believing that won’t happen and be thankful because…I have it all. I truly have it all. And, I don’t mean that in a prideful way. I just know that the Lord has gotten me this far. He’s not going to forsake me now.

Marie:  True…

Let’s switch gears for a second.

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

Chris:  If we can forgo practical things like shelter, showers, and basic food, I would NEED an air conditioner, a bible, a radio, and a full service BBQ restaurant. Sweet tea included…of course.

Marie:  😀

All right, readers, let’s get the author’s perspective on one of her characters.

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

Chris:  Jackson is an engineering sergeant with the U.S. Army’s 10th Special Forces Group. He is a highly trained builder and demolitions expert. He grew up on a horse ranch outside of Colorado Springs, Colorado, and values the simple things in life like his team and his family.

Marie:  Nice…

And what are Jackson’s greatest strengths?

Chris:  Jackson is great at solving problems and tackling just about anything that comes his way. He is also a good judge of character.

Marie:  Any weaknesses?

Chris:  Jackson gets in his own way sometimes. He lets his mind overthink what his heart needs.

Marie:  (Nods.) I think a lot of people do that.

Let’s try something fun, shall we?

What are Jackson’s favorite foods?

Chris:  He loves a rare steak and a good beer.

Marie:  All right.

How about another question?

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

Chris:  Jackson has a way of making those around him feel safe. He is very intelligent, but sees himself as an ordinary guy.

Marie:  Great!

Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?

Chris:  Readers will like Jackson more and more as the book progresses. He is a good-looking guy who doesn’t know it, and he gets slightly nervous when a woman takes an interest in him. He is innocently adorable, despite the fact that he works on a team of trained killers.

Marie:  Aww…

Now that we have a real taste of Jackson, 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 Liaison in Lyudinovo?

Chris:  For the basics like espionage and Russia, I looked to television and movies. I took a trip to Russia with my husband, and my Dad also worked there for a brief time when I was a kid.

For the heart of the story, I looked to my personal experiences. I adore Fort Carson, Colorado. I spent a considerable portion of my life there and know it like the back of my hand. That became my secondary setting. After meeting so many soldiers during my life, finding a team of guys to carry out the mission in the story was easy. They are a conglomerate of friends and acquaintances.

My heroine, Sam, was a completely new creation. She shares some qualities with me, but really has a lot of qualities that I’d like to have. It took a bit of research to create her.

Marie:  Cool!

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

Let’s try something else.

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

Chris:  I’m both. I start out as a panster. I get an idea, run with it, and then plot along the way.

Marie:  (Laughs.) That sounds like me! 😉

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

Chris:  I wouldn’t do a thing differently. Writing is a process, and there is not one, single formula that can accurately tell all authors how to go about making their careers successful. Authors are all unique, and success is relative.

Writing the book was the first hurdle. Liaison is the third novel I’ve written. It took the writing of the first two to show me who my characters would be in this novel, now the first in the series. I got attached to the characters in my other novels and had to force myself to create new ones. Once I got rolling, I fell in love with these characters just as much. Point being, you have to write and write…and write some more to be able to find your niche.

Editing was the second hurdle. I can edit my manuscripts all day long, but quickly learned the value of a professional editor. The editing process was incredibly beneficial. It forced me to go back and rethink plotlines, deepen characters, and improve my writing skills.

Publishing was the third hurdle. I’d already pitched my first novel to an agent from L.A. That was only because he was at a writer’s conference that I attended. It’s not like he answered one of my 86 query letters that I sent all over the United States. He told me after one minute of me describing my southern book to him to get out of the south and travel the world. He said I should come back when I had lived more life. WHOO BOY. What he didn’t realize was that I already was a world traveler with three college degrees. I had lived all over the country, not just in the south. I was a woman of thirty years with a bevy of unique experiences under my belt that he couldn’t possibly comprehend. And, the book I was pitching was written about THE SOUTH. So, at first, I was mad. He didn’t know me. How could he say that to me? In my mother-in-law’s words, “Hasn’t he ever read Gone with the Wind or heard of Harper Lee?” Well, I was still bummed. HUGELY BUMMED. Was I missing something? Were my life experiences not adequate enough content for me to consider myself an author? I felt defeated. So, I almost gave up.

I thought traditional publishing was the only way to go because that’s what the agent told me. He quickly shot down mine and other author’s questions about self-publishing. Well, now that I think about it, that makes sense. He was in the traditional publishing world. But, I sat on that glorious, southern novel that I was so proud of, traveled the globe some more, then met some fantastic, supportive writers in my local community. TURNING POINT OF MY CAREER. You have to network and make friends. This is something that can be difficult for introverted writers. Some in the group were self-published authors and some were traditionally published, but they all told me to do what worked for me. So, I quickly realized, SELF-PUBLISHING IS A THING! And, not only that, it’s okay. I had been told my whole writing life that you had to have an agent, you had to have a New York publishing house behind you, and you had to do this ‘writing thing’ a certain way. NOT SO.

So, the moral of this story is, DO NOT get discouraged! The important thing to know as a writer is that you have to keep on writing, keep on reading, and keep on keeping on. True writers don’t write for the fame. They write with their hearts and souls about the things they love. If you hear back from a publisher, FANTASTIC. You’ve beat me at that game. If you don’t hear back, you CAN do it on your own. If you need help, message me, I’ll help you. We have to support each other because our chosen path as writers is quite solitary. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that there are a lot of us. We are just individually out there in our cozy little spaces, pouring our hearts out into stories.

Marie:  Such sound advice! 😀

Indeed, it is tough to navigate the publishing world. But I’m glad you figured it out.

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 Liaison in Lyudinovo appears to be… ♥

Let’s learn more about the book.

Title: Liaison in Lyudinovo

Genre: Military Romance

Publication date: August 6, 2019

Here is the blurb:

Sam Browning is a feisty and romantically jaded young CIA case officer who has uncovered a problem involving one of the Agency’s own. But she doesn’t have the evidence to expose the man she assumes to be a traitor working for the Russian government.

That was six years ago. Now she has what she needs to take the operative down and a skilled team of unique men working alongside her. Can they bring an end to a deadly operation and two high-value targets in defense of the United States? Then this life of government espionage will be behind her. But not before she discovers an unexpected bond with an untrusting, reserved member of the team.

Will this group of men teach Sam the final lesson of her career? Will the end of this case mean the end of Sam’s life? Just how strong can a bond be between those who defend the land of the free?

Chris is giving us a peek at the story…

 

Excerpt #1:

He smiled. “You okay, killer?”

She darted her eyes back and forth. “Well, I sort of need a little help in here.”

Jackson un-propped himself and went through the partially cracked bedroom door. He put his back to it and shut it behind him, looking at Sam in her dress.

Sam’s eyes trailed up his built, sophisticated form, taking in the wide-eyed expression on his face. He looked different without his beard. Younger.

“Too much?” she asked, looking back over herself.

“Uh.” Jackson shook his head. “Uh…no.” He blinked several times. “No, ma’am.”

“It’s red,” she said, hesitantly.

Jackson nodded, slowly, taking in every inch of her body under that red fabric. “I can see that.”

Excerpt #2:

About a mile from the cabin, Jackson pulled off onto a side road.

“What are you doing?” Sam asked, pushing the cuticles back on her fingernails.

He smiled. “Samantha Browning, have you ever driven a stick shift?”

Sam hesitated and looked away from him at the sky like a spaceship could land at any second. “Why?”

“Because the only reason you didn’t drive today is the car is a manual.”

She continued her fake search of the skies for anything to keep her eyes off him. “How do you know—”

“Come on now, Officer Browning,” he said to her as if he were trying to get a kid to fess up to a lie. “Your V8 Mustang is an automatic. You obviously like power, but you don’t know how to handle it.”

Well, that got her fired up. “Listen, Jackson Lee, I can ​handle power just fine. My Daddy tried to teach me once, but I just…I just…” She clenched her fists.

“You want to know a secret?”

“O…kay?” She shrugged.

“You know that you can try again, right? Some humans do that when they fail at something. Don’t let the secret out, though.”

She rolled her eyes. “Now? You want me to try now?”

“Now,” he repeated as he glared at her. “Do you and the guys have some sort of quilting contest going on back at the cabin, or do you want to learn?”

“Jackson Lee, we are not in a country where we can be distracted from the mission, shooting off on back roads for the enemy to find us. This is not the place to—”

“Do you trust me?” Jackson interrupted her.

She eyed him and shrugged. “This has nothing to do with—”

“Do you trust me?” he asked again, more firmly this time.

She hesitated but nodded. She didn’t like not knowing how to drive a stick shift, but she got frustrated easily with this particular skill.

“Did the Agency not require that you know how?” Jackson asked her.

Sam hem-hawed around at the question. “Well, yes-ish. I took the test.”

Jackson stared into her eyes, waiting on the rest of the story.

“I didn’t really pass the test, but to be fair, I tried. And, I’ve never had trouble since. I’m very thankful for that. And, I know it ​could have gone pretty bad in some situations, but…”

Jackson’s eyes were narrowing in question. “Do I even want to know how any of that went down, the not passing and yet surviving in foreign lands with foreign vehicles?”

Sam rubbed her forehead. “Eh?”

“Fine. Another day,” Jackson said, “but today, you’re learning.”

Ooh…love the tension! Can’t wait to find out what happens next. 😀

Purchase Links:

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

Add it to Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/47551036-liaison-in-lyudinovo

What are people saying about Liaison in Lyudinovo?

 

 

“Spy and romance – what more could you want? This book is amazingly written. You feel you are there. Gets intense and you are right there feeling it. Love this brilliant writer!!!” – Connie King, Amazon

“Romance with military special ops. Author has researched the proper tactics, language and weapons for authenticity. Loved the romance part also.” – Deborah Palmer, Amazon

What a fun, suspenseful read!” – Robert G. Karcher, Amazon

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

About Chris Ann Yim

Chris Ann Yim is a historian and author of the new novel Liaison in Lyudinovo. As the wife of an Army veteran, she holds an appreciation for the relationships between military service members and their families. With a background in the social sciences, she has spent the majority of her life researching military leadership, the psychology of war, and the development of culture in societal groups. Chris is a cat mom who enjoys Blues Rock and Big Band music, drag racing, and photography. She lives and works out of her home on the outskirts of Nashville, Tennessee, and spends her vacations eating good food and traveling the globe with her husband. Her claim to fame was once being chosen as a contestant on ‘The Price is Right’, and in the future she aspires to go an entire week without tripping over her own feet or spilling a glass of sweet tea down her shirt.

Books:

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

 

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

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Filed under Authors, Blogging, Book News, Books, characters, Event, Fiction, Guest Writer, Interview, Military Romance, new release, Readers, Romance, Romantic Suspense, spies, Thriller/Suspense, Writers, Writing, Writing Tips

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 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.

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Happy reading, everyone! 🙂

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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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A Character Interview with Dylan from LYRICAL EMBRACE plus a conversation with author Amber Daulton!

Today, we’re doing something a little different. If you remember, we interviewed Annabelle Anders’ character last week, and it was so fun that I thought we may as well make an occasional habit of it. I had the pleasure of meeting Amber Daulton, the author of Lyrical Embrace, on my author journey and I asked if I could borrow a character, Dylan Haynes, from the book. We’ll get a chance to talk to Amber in a bit, but now we have on the stage…Dylan!

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

Character Dylan Haynes:  Thank you for the invite, Marie.

Marie:  It’s my pleasure!

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

Dylan:  Sure.

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

Dylan:  I’m an ex-professional drummer for an indie rock band, and now I’m a teacher at my parents’ music school, Haynes Music Academy, in Willow Springs, Vermont. I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but I’m an excellent drummer. I love teaching kids how to play instruments, and I feel pride in their success.

I’m also a volunteer fireman. After so many years of partying and having fun, I wanted to do something good and give back to the community where I’d come from. Being a fireman and EMT helps me accomplish that goal.

Marie:  Nice! 😀

So, tell us…what is your family like?

Dylan:  My parents are great, as are my older brother and sister. I’m the baby in the family, but they’ve all learned that I’ve grown up and I expect to be treated like an adult. I’ve made some mistakes, true, but they’re supportive and always in my corner.

Marie:  Great!

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

Dylan:  My parents had bought and renovated a rundown two-story Victorian house, founded the school, and lived upstairs. For most of my childhood, I grew up in the apartment above the music school. I loved it since I was able to play the drums and other instruments whenever I wanted. After my grandparents died, we moved across town to their house and rented out the apartment. I hated that at first, but I eventually got used to having my own room away from Birley, my brother.

Marie:  All right.

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

Dylan:  As I said before, I’m a helluva drummer, but I also play several other instruments. Playing any kind of instrument is a great way to relax and let off some steam. Besides that, I like to hike in the Green Mountain National Forest. Erica and I sometimes do that together. I also fish with my dad and brother.

Marie:  Okay.

So, what is your greatest dream?

Dylan:  I’d always wanted to become a famous musician, but my dreams changed when I was on that path of making it come true. I didn’t like the person I was turning into when I was touring and performing with Fortune’s Glory, my band. The drugs, alcohol, and groupies distracted me from the music, so I quit before I ever got close to reaching stardom.

My greatest dream now is simple, and I already have it. I have a good, clean job and a loving woman at my side. Life couldn’t be better.

Marie:  I see…

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

Who was your first love?

Dylan:  Erica. She’s everything to me. Yeah, I had some girlfriends in high school and I slept with the groupies I met in clubs, but I never fell hard for any of them. None of them ever knew the real me, who I was inside. Erica was different. She called me out on my bullshit and drew me in. I’m lucky I found her.

Marie: (Sighs.) I love romance…♥

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

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

Dylan:  One of my former band mates, Jackie, was heavy into drugs. I tried to convince him to get help, but he refused and always got so pissed at me when I mentioned it. After I quit Fortune’s Glory, which contributed to the band’s later breakup, Jackie overdosed on heroin and died. My band mates blamed me for his death since I left the band. I know I’m not at fault for Jackie’s actions, but I wish I had done more to help him. It’s one of my biggest regrets.

Marie:  😥 Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that about your friend. That’s rough…

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

[Dylan nods.]

So, who is your role model, Dylan?

Dylan:  Don’t have one. There are lots of bands and musicians I like and respect, but I don’t strive to be like any of them, not anymore.

Marie:  Okay.

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

Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?

Dylan:  No, not really. I teach a great group of kids at the academy, and the men and women I work with at the fire department are brave, levelheaded people.

Marie:  Awesome!

Let’s try another question.

What is your deepest desire?

Dylan:  To protect Erica. She’s been through some physical and emotional abuse at the hands of her ex-boyfriend, and I want to make sure nothing like that ever happens to her again.

Marie: Oh, no…how awful! 😥 

And your greatest fear?

Dylan:  Erica’s ex is now serving time behind bars, but I worry he’ll come after her when or if he gets out of prison. He already tried to kidnap her, and I’m afraid he’ll succeed next time around. No matter what happens in the future, I’m going to be with Erica and will do what I can to keep her safe.

Marie: It’s understandable for you to feel that way.

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

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

(Waves goodbye to her guest.)

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

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

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

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

Amber:  Dylan is a fun guy. He’s down-to-earth, levelheaded, and genuine. He’s made some mistakes, sure, but who hasn’t? Unlike a lot of people, he’s learned from those mistakes and wants to live a better life.

Marie:  Nice!

What are your character’s greatest strengths?

Amber:  His ability to care about someone. Dylan volunteers as a firefighter because he wants to help people. It doesn’t matter to him if you’re a friend or a stranger. If you’re in trouble, he’ll be there.

Marie:  How admirable!

And your character’s greatest weakness?

Amber:  Erica. He’s a sucker for her.

Marie:  Lovely to hear… ♥

Let’s try something fun, shall we?

What are some of Dylan’s favorite foods?

Amber:  He loves his mom’s creamy vegetarian penne casserole, and he made sure I added the recipe to the end of his book.

Marie:  Yummy! 🙂

How about another question?

Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?

Amber:  Dylan felt like an object when he was drinking and partying with the band, but he feels more human back in the real world. I think readers will be able to sympathize with that. His job, his dream really, had changed him, and he became what other people wanted him to be. It took a lot of courage for him to break out of that dangerous cycle. A lot of readers have probably experienced something like that in their own lives, so hopefully they’ll like and understand Dylan.

Marie:  I’m sure they will!

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

What first gave you the idea for Lyrical Embrace?

Amber:  I love small town romances, especially ones with an edge and a little bit of danger weaved in. When plotting this story, I first pictured a young woman running away from the big city to escape her abusive boyfriend. I mostly write contemporary and romantic suspense, so this idea worked.

I also love stories about music and rock stars, but I don’t like the cheating and drugs that go along with the lifestyle. I haven’t published a story featuring a musician yet, so I figured I should get on the ball and do it.

Despite the dark undertones, this story is fun, uplifting, and hot. The characters are real and flawed. I really enjoyed writing it, and I hope readers will love it.

Marie:  Isn’t it fascinating how the muse works? 😀

Let’s try something else.

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

Amber:  I always plot out each chapter and scene before I start writing, but sometimes the characters take over and derail my plan. When that happens, I usually go with the flow and let it take me wherever, but eventually I have to whip the characters back into gear and force them to follow the plot I’ve established.

Marie:  (Laughs.) Aww…what’s the fun in that? I think sometimes the characters know best. 😉

How about another question?

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

Amber:  Lyrical Embrace is book four in the Deerbourne Inn series, a multi-author collaboration of stories from The Wild Rose Press. The biggest challenge in writing this story was hammering out the details with the series coordinators and with the other authors writing for the series. Everyone has their own ideas, so we had to work together and tweak descriptions or names to make sure everything flows from one story to the next. The only thing I would do differently next time is be more direct when asking questions in the series forum.

Marie:  Sounds like a plan!

Congrats on your latest release! ♥

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

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

Here is the blurb for Lyrical Embrace, book four of the Deerbourne Inn Series:

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

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

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

Amber is also offering us a little excerpt from the book!

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

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

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

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

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

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

And a teaser!

Ohh! ♥♥♥ Love it! Can’t wait to read this book and find out what happens…🙂

Purchase Links:

Universal Reader link:  https://books2read.com/u/m2xRlj

Publisher:  https://catalog.thewildrosepress.com/all-titles/6484-lyrical-embrace.html

Add it to your Goodreads bookshelf:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43225610-lyrical-embrace

Link to the series on Amazon:  https://amzn.to/2NEtkdS

What are people saying about Lady Saves the Duke?

I REALLY LOVED LYRICAL EMBRACE. I AM A BIG FAN OF SMALL TOWN STORIES. THEY FEEL MORE REAL AND BELIEVABLE AND I LOVE HOW THE TOWNSPEOPLE LOOK OUT FOR ONE ANOTHER. LYRICAL EMBRACE WAS SUCH AN EMOTIONAL AND SWEET ROMANTIC READ. AMBER DID AN EXCELLENT JOB SHOWING WHAT AN ABUSED WOMAN GOES THROUGH AND FEELS. I LOVE THE CONNECTION THAT ERICA AND DYLAN HAVE. IT WAS INSTANT CHEMISTRY AND ATTRACTION.” – Victoria Zumbrum, Amazon

Ms. Daulton has crafted a well thought out story of two people who need one another to heal the hurts of their pasts. Physical and emotional abuse isn’t something often tackled in light contemporary romance stories, but Daulton has done an excellent job of showing the power of love to heal wounds and scars that often in time don’t heal. I highly recommend this book. It’s a wonderful addition to the series.” – Margaret-Mary Jaeger, Amazon

Heartwarming, touching and brilliantly crafted! Lyrical Embrace is an absorbing, character-driven novel that immerses you in a beautifully written tale about letting go of the past, forgiving one’s self, surviving, taking chances and moving on.
The writing is vivid and eloquent. The characters are flawed, supportive, lovable and real. And the story is the perfect mix of hope, heart, drama and steamy hot moments.
Overall, I found this to be an engrossing story that reminds us that life is often a messy journey complete with pain, tears, smiles and happiness.
” – Meredith W., Amazon

 

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

About Amber Daulton

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

Amber lives in North Carolina with her husband and four demanding cats. Feel free to visit her at http://www.amberdaultonauthor.blogspot.com.

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

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

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

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/AmberDaulton1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Once again, I want to thank both of our guests, Dylan, a male character from Lyrical Embrace, and Amber Daulton, the brilliant author of the book, for stopping by! It was a pleasure to have you here! 😀

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

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

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

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

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

Author Scarlett Holloway:  Hi, Marie!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marie:  Nice!

Let’s try something else, okay?

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

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

Marie:  Okay.

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

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

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

So…what is your greatest dream?

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

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

Let’s try another question.

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

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

Marie:  Great!

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

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

Marie:  All right.

Let’s try something else now.

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

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

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

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

[Scarlett nods.]

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

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

Marie: True! 😀

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

So, who is your role model, Scarlett?

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

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

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

Marie:  Good point…

Let’s try another question.

What is your deepest desire?

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

Marie:  Understandable.

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

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

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

So, I want to try something different next… 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marie:  Wow! 😥 What a rough journey…

What are your character’s greatest strengths?

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

Marie:  All right.

And what are her greatest weaknesses?

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

Marie:  Okay…

Let’s try something fun, shall we?

What are some of her favorite foods?

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

Marie:  Can’t blame her there! 😉

How about another question?

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

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

Marie:  Cool!

Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?

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

Marie:  Great!

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

What first gave you the idea for Policy of Truth?

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

Marie:  Nice!

Interesting how the muse works, huh? 😉

Let’s try something else.

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

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

Marie:  I know, right?

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

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

Marie:  True enough!

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

Here is the blurb:

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

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

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

Scarlett is also offering us a teaser from the book!

“Choke-a-hoe.”

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

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

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

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

“Yeah, the Boston Stran—nevermind.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leave it to Viper not to beat around the bush.

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

Lace thought it was perfect.

Flames groaned.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Deal?” Lace stared expectantly at the realtor.

Tamra nodded, rolling her bottom lip between her teeth.

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

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

Purchase Links:

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

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

About Scarlett Holloway

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

Books:

Coming Soon:

Available Now:

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

 

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

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Book Review: Undercover Siren by Ellen Mint

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

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

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

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

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

Book Info:

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

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

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

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

Here’s a peek at the book…

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

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

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

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

How in God’s name did he do that?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sweet God.

AUTHOR: Ellen Mint

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

GENRE: Romantic Suspense, Sci-Fi, Police Procedural

RELEASE DATE: February 10, 2018

PUBLISHER: Amazon Digital Services LLC

ISBN/ASIN: B079QZPN5V

OUR RATING: ♥♥♥♥♥

REVIEWED BY: Kevin Ethan

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

Up Next Week: Jake’s Redemption by Jamie Schultz

Thanks for reading our weekly book review on ILRB!

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And Amber is giving us a peek at her novel!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author Links

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

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

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/AmberDaulton1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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

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

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

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

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

Marie:  Of course! It’s my pleasure!

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

Josh:  Sure.

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

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

Marie:  Great!

So, tell us…what is your family like?

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

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

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

Marie:  (Chuckles.)

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

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

Marie: Nice!

So, what is your greatest dream?

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

Marie:  (Nods.) I see…

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

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

Marie: Admirable!

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

Who was your first love?

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

Marie: All right.

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

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

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

Marie:  Yikes! :/ Sorry to hear that…

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

[Josh nods.]

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

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

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

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

Marie: Okay.

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

Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?

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

Marie:  Let’s try another question.

What is your deepest desire?

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

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

(Sighs.) I love romance. ♥

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

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

Marie: That’s understandable.

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

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

(Waves goodbye to her guest.)

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

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

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

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

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

Marie:  Okay.

So, what are your character’s greatest strengths?

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

Marie:  Lovely!

And what are your character’s greatest weaknesses?

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

Marie:  True enough!

Let’s try something fun, shall we?

What are some of Josh’s favorite foods?

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

Marie:  Sounds delicious!

How about another question?

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

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

Marie:  (Laughs.) All right.

Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?

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

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

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

What first gave you the idea for Think of Me?

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

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

Let’s try something else.

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

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

Marie:  Me too!

How about another question?

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

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

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

Congrats on your new release! ♥

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Purchase Links:

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

http://bit.ly/TOMbook

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

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

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

About Kat Schuessler

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/zanystarr

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

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

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

 

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

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