Tag Archives: spotlight

Guest Poet Spotlight: D.L. Owens

Hi, readers! Now and then on the I Love Romance Blog, I recognize poets and their wonderful, romantic poems. Today D.L. Owens has stopped by to showcase some of her work for us.

I love poetry, almost as much as I love romance! It is music for my eyes, and a song in my heart. 🙂

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Honestly, I spend quite a bit of time stalking poetry groups on Facebook just to see what my fellow writers are doing these days. And D.L is one talented poet!

So, hello, D.L! Welcome to ILRB! 🙂

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D.L. Owens: Hello! It’s a pleasure to be here, Marie.

Marie:  The honor is mine, believe me. Thank you for visiting us. We’re so glad you came to the I Love Romance Blog, where we get to talk about my favorite subject – love!

And how fitting is it that we have D.L. today to show us some of her love poems, especially this close to Valentine’s Day?

So, take it away, D.L., and give us a peek at what you’ve brought to thrill our romantic hearts…

 

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Poems by D.L. Owens

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Remind Me Again

Remind me again of how it use to be

When innocence was like being free

When laughter was sincere

When one could speak with no fear

Remind me again when a friend was a friend

When a sin was a sin

When holding hands meant a lot

When a hug hit the spot

Remind me when love was love

When long lasting emotions rose above

When kissing was something we missed

When talking was as soothing as a kiss

follow

Passions Following Me

So how does the journey began

With a stare, a hug, a kiss

Will the rainfall frame our passion

Or will passion frame love’s bliss

My lips stay ready

My eyes fixed on you

My body is sensing

You want me, too

Rendezvous to the woods

Far from others’ calls

Where obsession, caressing

Will live outside all walls

Love is in us, tracing us

Trying to find ways to connect

There is no lock, nor key

Just passion trying to unite you and me

passion

Passion Becoming Poetry

Do you desire to kiss these lips

Taste these lips

Do you long to hold my body in your arms

And let my passions inhale your charms

Love is flying high

And I am sprouting wings

Love is soaring through the sky

And making my passion sing

Heat is soaring low

Almost walking the streets

Melting love beneath guided feet

Warming the passion in our souls

Can you feel me trying to feel you

Can you hear my body talking to you

If yes is unanimous then come in, close the door

And let our love roar

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Marking the Heart

Looks are mostly deceiving

They are definitely appealing

Second looks worth stealing

But what is uncontrollably the binding

Is that everlasting feeling worth finding

The one that won’t ever leave you sighing

The sticker to the core of the hearts twining

The permanent glue that can never be pulled apart

The one that captures all of you from the very start

Leaving a stain, an embedded memory, a permanent mark

Just from lassoing your soul through the eyes of your heart

love

Love of My Life

he watched in remorse

as she walked away

her trailing fragrance

of Japanese honeysuckle

wrapping around his face

he was wishing his pride would die

so he would beg her to stay

instead of crying inside

he just watched her walk away

dreams

Dream Stalker

he’s in all my dreams

in all my life themes

i cannot inhale

enough of him

until his fingers

touched the long

of the back of my neck

soothing my heart

calming my breath

midnight

At Midnight

our bodies form deep shapes in the sand

he looks over, throws a kiss, takes my hand

wants to make love under the endless stars

while the blue milky sky ocean’s the dark

climbing waves wet soaks us, calms our heat

journeying us to retreat our rapid heartbeat

Alejandra Quiroz, Unsplash.

Alejandra Quiroz, Unsplash.

 

 

♥♥♥ Perfect, D.L.! So romantic! Thank you! ♥♥♥

Poet Bio

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D.L. Owens began writing poetry at the age of eight. She would write on anything she could get her hands on: toilet paper, card stock sleeves from her mother’s nylons, paper bags from the market even the palm of her hands. This went on for a while until one day her mother realized this was not a phase. This prompted the purchase of a manual typewriter which quickly became her best friend. Years later, when D.L. (Lulu) became a proud mother of a beautiful daughter, she switched gears and wrote children’s stories and poetry.

Her poetry is comprised of the tempers surrounding her, from a baby crying for her mother’s touch to a couple smiling at each while holding hands. Her longer pieces vent from everything engrossed in her mind and from her dreams pouring into the pages like a love story. This “moody writer” writes poetry of all sauces with love and romance as a part of it. However, when it comes to short stories, novellas and longer pieces she finds herself locked in a mixture of sci-fi, mystery, fantasy mixed with a taste of romance.

Her addiction to writing and painting takes up much of her time when she’s not spending it with family and friends. Lately, she has been creating illustrations for the books written for her daughter. When she’s not doing this she loves to cook, make greeting cards and take pictures of the glorious nature.

Poet Links

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/a_moody_poet

Amazon Author Page:  amazon.com/author/dlowens

iTunes:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/author/d.-l.-owens/id1126390032?mt=11

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

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

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Artwork/Illustrations:  https://www.instagram.com/a_moody_artist/

Artwork:  https://twitter.com/a_moody_artist

Photography:  https://www.instagram.com/a_moody_photographer/

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Books

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Once again, I want to thank our distinguished guest and poet, D.L. Owens, for stopping by the I Love Romance Blog!  It was such a pleasure to have you here! Readers, don’t forget to follow this wonderful poet’s work! 🙂

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Filed under Event, Guest Writer, Love, love poem, Message, poem, poems, Poetry, Readers, Romance, Writing

Pre-order Release Feature: The Angel Alejandro by author Alistair Cross

I am pleased to announce a great new release by Alistair Cross, an author I met during my journey! His riveting dark fantasy/romance, The Angel Alejandro, officially went up for pre-order and will be released on January 25th!

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

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

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Alistair is giving us a look at his intriguing dark fantasy with a touch of romance, The Angel Alejandro, today.

Great cover!

This is the blurb for The Angel Alejandro:

A Man without a Past

After a near-fatal accident, Madison O’Riley is faced with an astonishing problem: What to do with the man who saved her life. Naive and heart-stoppingly handsome, he calls himself Alejandro … and he has no memory of his past. As they set out to recover his lost identity, Madison realizes he harbors deep – and otherworldly – secrets that will shatter her understanding of reality … secrets that may put her in grave danger.

The Devil in the Details

And now, there’s another stranger in town. Gremory Jones has something for everyone, and for a small price, he’s willing to make a deal. By day, he walks the streets of Prominence in top hat and trench coat, tempting the citizens with nefarious wares from his shiny black briefcase. By night, he and his legion of insatiable acolytes corrupt the locals at Club Mephistopheles, a den of unholy delights housed in an abandoned church.

The Battle has Begun …

The townspeople are changing in outrageous and appalling ways and it’s up to Madison – with the help of a psychic, a local priest, and the new chief of police – to help Alejandro unlock his forgotten powers before an unspeakable evil tears apart the fabric of existence … and costs them their very souls …

What people are saying about Alistair’s books:

HELLNOTES
“The Crimson Corset is a good read. There is a colorful cast of characters, a clever plot, and an intricate structure … there are surprises and jumps and starts, sex and death, beauty and gore, something for everyone … if you’re looking for set-up and payoff, this novel will not disappoint.”

Tamara Thorne, international bestselling author of HAUNTED and MOONFALL
“This drop-deadly tale of seduction and terror will leave you begging to be fanged … ”

Q.L. Pearce, bestselling author of SCARY STORIES FOR SLEEP-OVERS
“I couldn’t put this book down. It’s got more hooks than a day boat out of San Pedro Harbor!”

Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, author of the SAINT-GERMAIN CYCLE
“Alistair Cross’ new novel THE CRIMSON CORSET … is taut and elegantly written taking us into the realms where the erotic and the horrific meet. Reminiscent of the work of Sheridan Le Fanu (CARMILLA, UNCLE SILAS) in its hothouse, almost Victorian intensity, it tells a multi-leveled story of misalliance and mixed motives. The language is darkly lyrical, and the tale is compelling. Read it; you’ll be glad you did.”

Jay Bonansinga, New York Times Bestselling author of THE WALKING DEAD: INVASION and LUCID
“Put Bram Stoker in a giant cocktail shaker, add a pinch of Laurell K. Hamilton, a shot of John Carpenter, and a healthy jigger of absinthe, and you’ll end up with Alistair Cross’s modern Gothic chiller, The Crimson Corset – a deliciously terrifying tale that will sink its teeth into you from page one.”

Sylvia Shults, author of Hunting Demons: A True Story of the Dark Side of the Supernatural
“Ghostly secrets abound. Tortured spirits wander the hallways. Star-crossed lovers walk the paths of time. Servants connive, and the heroine faces an uncertain future …Run, do not walk, to get The Ghosts of Ravencrest. Tamara Thorne and Alistair Cross take the reader on a delicious journey of twisted family secrets, troubled dreams, and barely-concealed passions. Wrap yourself in the silken robe of this story and escape to Ravencrest.”

****

And here is a teaser plus a short excerpt to entice you with.

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A mouth covered hers, blew, and Madison’s lungs expanded with borrowed breath. As if the man were blowing on dying coals, warmth glowed inside her, spreading and swelling through her solar plexus, expanding, reaching her limbs, bringing heat to her skin and clarity to her mind. She could breathe, she could see, and what she saw was the stranger’s face.

Handsome. Full lips, strong cheekbones, eyes she couldn’t yet fathom. Close-cropped, golden hair backlit by a near-blinding halo of light. Yes, she knew him from somewhere – but where?

The warm buzz swam through her. Her fingers and toes tingled. She was losing consciousness again, but she didn’t care; the panic was gone. As the world pulsed in and out, the man leaned over and blinked black-lashed silver eyes at her. Not gray, but silver. Bright and shining, like disks of polished steel. The light behind him swelled and brightened just before the world relapsed into black and nothingness wrapped itself warm around her.

-Excerpt from The Angel Alejandro, by Alistair Cross
Copyright © Glass Apple Press 2016.

Whoa! What a thrilling excerpt!  🙂

Book Info:

Genre:  Dark Fantasy, Romance

Release Date:  January 25, 2017

Pre-order Purchase Link:

Universal Amazon link:  https://bookgoodies.com/a/B01N347ZE8

What an interesting story! ♥♥♥ This looks like quite a ride!

Thank you for telling us about your book, Alistair! I know I can’t wait to read this new dark fantasy/romance! 🙂

Readers, don’t forget to pick up a copy of this awesome book!

alejandro-book-cover

Author Bio

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Alistair Cross’ debut novel, The Crimson Corset, a vampiric tale of terror and seduction, was an immediate bestseller earning praise from veteran vampire-lit author, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, and New York Times bestseller, Jay Bonansinga, author of The Walking Dead series. In 2012, Alistair joined forces with international bestseller, Tamara Thorne, and as Thorne & Cross, they write – among other things – the successful Gothic series, The Ravencrest Saga. Their debut collaboration, The Cliffhouse Haunting, reached the bestseller’s list in its first week of release. They are currently at work on their next solo novels and a new collaborative project.

In 2014, Alistair and Tamara began the radio show, Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE!, which has featured such guests as Charlaine Harris of the Southern Vampire Mysteries and basis of the HBO series True Blood, Jeff Lindsay, author of the Dexter novels, Jay Bonansinga of The Walking Dead series, Laurell K. Hamilton of the Anita Blake novels, Peter Atkins, screenwriter of HELLRAISER 2, 3, and 4, worldwide bestseller V.C. Andrews, and New York Times best sellers Preston & Child, Christopher Rice, and Christopher Moore.

Visit Alistair @ alistaircross.com

Author Links

Website/Blog:   http://www.alistaircross.com/

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

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/CrossAlistair

Amazon Author Page:  https://www.amazon.com/Alistair-Cross/e/B00N446AZS/

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6517308.Alistair_Cross

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

Google+:  https://plus.google.com/u/0/107331425042802585965

 

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

Happy reading, everyone!🙂

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Filed under Authors, Book Release, Books, Contemporary, Dark Fantasy, dark romance, Event, Fantasy, Fiction, new release, Readers, Romance, Writing

Meet Monday- Marie Lavender Interview and Spotlight.

Meet Marie Lavender! A little about the author- At the tender age of nine, she began writing stories. She majored in Creative Writing in college because that was all she ever wanted – to be a…

Source: Meet Monday- Marie Lavender Interview and Spotlight.

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Filed under Authors, Books, Contemporary, Event, Fiction, Historical, Interview, Marie Lavender, Paranormal/Urban Fantasy, Readers, Romance, Science Fiction, Writing

Pre-order Release Feature: Heart of a Savage by author LaShanta Charles

I am pleased to announce a great new release by LaShanta Charles, an author I met during my journey! Her fascinating new adult sports romance, Heart of a Savage, officially went up for pre-order and will be released at the end of the month!

Yay! Just in time for Valentine’s Day! That’s awesome, LaShanta! :) Congrats on your new release!:)

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

2017-967-ebook-lashanta-charles-heart-of-a-savage

 

LaShanta is giving us a look at her new, intriguing MMA romance, Heart of a Savage, today.

Great cover!

This is the blurb for Heart of a Savage:

Bailey Ross-O’Malley has spent her whole life catering to others. She used to enjoy it. Until her father died. In an attempt to protect her, her father chose Connor to be her husband, but that was a mistake. Connor was supposed to love her, be her rock – but some rocks need to be tossed as far away as possible. She only has one source of happiness now, her son, and if Connor doesn’t get his way, he’ll take that joy from her as well.

MMA fighter, Dominic Prince, has only one mission in life: forget his past. Forget the pain, the drama, and the loss of things taken away from him too soon. He’s guarded and secretive and that’s the way he likes it. He was doing a damn good job of keeping it that way. Until her. Bailey showed up and Dominic’s life became a minefield. He can’t decide if he wants to kiss her or shake her, but he does know that he’ll fight to keep her safe. He’ll be as savage as he is in the octagon, outside of it.

Neither of them wants to accept it happening, but the past has a way of sneaking into the present. Hearts will be shattered and bonds will be broken. Will they survive it?

And here are some teasers to entice you with.

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Thrilling!  🙂

Book Info:

Genre:  Contemporary Romance, New Adult, Sports, Suspense

Release Date:  January 31, 2017

Pre-order Purchase Links:

Universal Amazon link:  https://bookgoodies.com/a/B01M7YMJK6

B & N:  http://bit.ly/2jfFWZw

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

Kobo:  http://bit.ly/2idni2o

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32868147-heart-of-a-savage

What an interesting story! ♥♥♥ This looks like a riveting ride!😉

Thank you for telling us about your book, LaShanta! I know I can’t wait to read this new adult sports romance! 🙂

Readers, don’t forget to pick up a copy of this awesome book!

2017-967-ebook-lashanta-charles-heart-of-a-savage

Author Bio

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LaShanta Charles was born and raised in the small town of Orangeburg, SC. She has always been an avid reader of all genres, but Romance has always been her true love and is what inspired her to pursue a writing career. In high school, she began letting her classmates read the short stories that she would write and based off of their feedback, her passion for writing pushed her to become a published author. She published her debut novel, Lovely Lies, in 2013 and released the sequel, Lovely Lies 2, in February 2014. Her third novel, Splitting Karma, was released in October 2014. She lives in Yelm, WA, with her husband and three children and also serves in the US Army. She’s a home body who enjoys SLEEPING, reading, SLEEPING, eating, SLEEPING, white chocolate mochas, SLEEPING, sexy alien romances, and of course, writing. Oh, and she hates spiders; they’re extremely creepy, why do they need eight legs??

Author Links

Website/Blog:  http://randomlymeandyou.blogspot.com/

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

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/twiety01

Amazon Author Page:  https://www.amazon.com/Lashanta-Charles/e/B0083HO95Y/

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6984092.LaShanta_Charles

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

Google+:  https://plus.google.com/u/0/104019449563926608746

 

Well, I certainly have to agree about the spiders. LOL.

 

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

Happy reading, everyone!🙂

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Filed under Authors, Book Release, Books, Contemporary, Event, Fiction, New Adult, new release, Readers, Romance, Romantic Suspense, sports romance, Writing

Scifi Romance Spotlight: Blue Vision (Marie Lavender)

Coming November 15th! 🙂

Belinda Y. Hughes: Writing, Editing & Social Media

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Had enough of current affairs? Run away on a romantic winter vacation with your brand-new book boyfriend of another color! One-click Blue Vision, the new scifi romance by Marie Lavender and step into the snowy woods of Montana – and the extraordinary eyes of Colin Fielding. You’re welcome.

Brooke Sanders just wants to get away from her life for awhile. A remote cabin in Montana fits the bill. She doesn’t expect to encounter a mysterious stranger with unusual blue eyes, or events that cannot be explained…

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Colin Fielding is on a mission – scout a planet and return home to Endhivar. Simple really. What he doesn’t anticipate is that fate has a pretty twisted sense of humor. Suddenly, this human calls to him, every part of him, like the call of a true mate, and he can’t deny the connection as he gets closer to her.

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Little do they know, someone is out to do…

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Filed under Authors, Books, Contemporary, Fiction, Marie Lavender, Readers, Romance, Science Fiction, Uncategorized

A Character Interview with Zoey from SECOND HALF plus a conversation with author Monica DeSimone!

Today, we’re doing something a little different. If you remember, we interviewed Vivienne Vincent’s character on August 16th and it was so fun that I thought we may as well make an occasional habit of it. I had the pleasure of meeting Monica DeSimone, the debut author of Second Half, on my author journey and I asked if I could borrow a character, Zoey Elizabeth McEvoy from the book. We’ll get a chance to talk to Monica in a bit, but now we have on the stage…Zoey!

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

Character Zoey Elizabeth McEvoy: 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?

Zoey:  Sure.

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

Zoey:  Founder of the Coach’s Shadow Foundation. I like to think that I am. I have a tendency to be tenacious at times so that I get what I want.

Do I like it? Absolutely love it!

Marie:  Great to hear! 😀

Tell us…what is your family like?

Zoey: Both of my parents have passed away so I’m pretty much an orphan! LOL.

My family is amazing, I have a loud, involved, often times obtrusive family that I have had from birth as well as those that I have chosen over the years.

Marie:  Oh…😦 Sorry to hear about your parents. I’m glad you have other family, though.

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?

Zoey:  Considering that Derrick and I live there now, it is an amazing home. Traditional Cape Cod with a lot of extensions added onto it. I think my mother originally fell in love with it because she didn’t want kids. It was often lonely and cold but Claire, my sister, made it a home.

Marie:  All right.

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

Zoey: I run. A lot. It is as much a passion for me as running the Coach’s Shadow Foundation and football.

In my down time I love watching Sci-Fi movies and reading. Oh and shoes! I love, love, love shoes! I also enjoy throwing a great gathering with my family and friends. But I hate to cook. So I do the planning and shopping, and Derrick makes my menus come true.

Marie:  (Laughs.) Nice! 😉

So, what is your greatest dream?

Zoey:  Derrick.

Marie:  Indeed! (Sighs.) I love romance…♥

Okay, back to the interview.

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

Zoey: I have pretty much accomplished what I wanted to be. It may not be in the traditional way, and I had to take a very dark journey to get where I am, with several set backs, but I’m here. I’m alive, happy and just keep going every day. The one personality trait that I wish I could be better with is not to be so ready to forgive the wrongs that have been done to me.

What is stopping me? My heart and ability to lose.

Marie: I think we all feel afraid sometimes that we’ll lose everything we hold dear. Faith gets us through it all.

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

Who was your first love?

Zoey:  Derrick Hendrickson.

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Marie: But you got a second chance, right? That’s great!

So…let’s try another question.

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

Zoey: At twenty-one I fell into a deep depression and attempted suicide.

Marie:  Oh no! I’m so sorry…

[Briefly touches her guest’s hand.]

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

[Zoey 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?

Zoey:  No. I floundered with what I wanted to do in the months, years really, after my attempted suicide. I was so tired of people telling me that I would find my way. At the time the darkness was all consuming and I didn’t see the light. I was really good at faking things, though; so I faked my way happy. Forced myself to push through the darkness. I finished my degree in English Literature, got a job in corporate America. I loved doing what did. It allowed me to nourish the part of myself that had always felt left behind. Wanting to be a combination between Betty Crocker and a Mother Hen while allowing me to be creative yet in charge behind the scenes, because I hate the spotlight, was my end result.

I ultimately found my dream. My own happiness, which has brought me true contentment. The Coach’s Shadow Foundation was born out of sorrow and guilt. However, it was through that sorrow and guilt that I proved to myself that I am no longer the broken girl who was left behind by both her mother and lover. It took a lot for me to realize that where I am today is exactly where I am meant to be.

Marie:  Wow! Tough times.

I’m so glad you found a light to pull you through that darkness. ♥

So, who is your role model, Zoey?

Zoey:  My sister Claire. She is everything that I strive to be. Strong, independent, courageous, and kind.

Marie: Great! It sounds like your sister is a very special person.

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

Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?

Zoey:  I absolutely hate Matt, Derrick’s agent. I always feel as though I need a shower after being around him.

Marie:  Oh, that’s not good…maybe your intuition is trying to tell you something?

Let’s try another question.

What is your deepest desire?

Zoey:  To be loved.

Marie:  Can’t blame you there!

What is your greatest fear?

Zoey: Spending my life alone and unloved.

Marie: It’s understandable to have that kind of fear, but I believe there is a stronger force guiding us, that good things come to good people. And I know you’re one of the good ones. 😉

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

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Author Monica DeSimone:  Hi, Marie. Thank you so much for having me.

Marie: Oh no, the honor is mine.😀

So, we just got to talk to a female character from your story, Zoey Elizabeth McEvoy, or rather, just Zoey. Quite an interesting character.  Can you tell us a little about her?

Monica: Zoey is so tenacious and vibrant. She encompasses everything that I had ever wanted to be. I think that is because she has come so far in her battle with depression. She has fought for what and who she is today. Zoey loves deeply and carries her emotions on her sleeve. The obstacles in which she has overcome, although yes somewhat self-inflicted, are an admirable quality about her. The struggle of depression is overwhelming and all consuming. For Zoey to have pulled herself out of that, yes with help, and still be a kind, loving and generous person is amazing. She gives with all her heart and truly wants the best for everyone. Not everyone has the mental wherewithal to be able to pull themselves from that hole. It is admirable. Although it doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have flaws as well as a bit of a mean streak. Which I have to admit that I love.

Marie:  (Laughs.)

So, what are your character’s greatest strengths?

Monica:  Zoey loves with everything in her being which feeds her ability to forgive. This can be considered a strength as well as a weakness, but forgiveness would have to be Zoey’s greatest strength. That and not willing to give up on anything she believes in.

Marie:  Definitely admirable!

And what are your character’s greatest weaknesses?

Monica:  Because of her capacity to forgive Zoey is often left open to be hurt by those she believes in.

Marie:  Sorry to hear that… 😦

What are some of Zoey’s favorite foods?

Monica:  Gosh, Zoey is “technically” an overall healthy person. A lot of greens and proteins. However, if you put a bowl of Utz Cheese Balls in front of her I would watch out. She is a kind person but sharing those yummy treats aren’t in the cards.

Marie:  (Giggles.) Nice!

How about another question?

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

Monica:  Zoey is a lot stronger then she gives herself credit for. She is the heart of her family. Not necessarily the core of it, because that is Claire, but she is a fierce protector with a strength that she often underestimates.

Marie:  Great!

Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?

Monica: I think that most readers will appreciate how damaged Zoey is and how far she has come to pull herself out of her depression. However, I also think that it is a toss-up if people will love her or want to hit her. If a reader can understand that forgiveness isn’t a weakness, that it is truly a strength and that love often has no rhyme or reason and that sometimes, not always, “soul mates” do exist, truly exist. If they can understand that, appreciate it, then I think that they will love her.

Marie: Definitely!

And I prefer characters to be real, flawed human beings anyway. Don’t you?

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

What first gave you the idea for Second Half?

Monica: I had been writing my entire life, so when my father passed away in April 2015, I promised myself that I would finish one of my books. I have a few sitting on my laptop. One night in December 2015, I had just finished reading A Lover’s Lament by AL Greyson and BT Urruela, and Zoey started talking to me. God, she is a pushy little thing too because it wasn’t until she finally made a deal with me – she would be quiet so that I could work and sleep if I promised to tell her story. That was January 3, 2016. I finished Zoey and Derrick’s story and sent it to my editor on May 17th.

Marie:  Interesting how the muse works, huh?

Sorry to hear about your dad. 😦

Let’s try something else.

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

Monica: I’m a character-driven writer. As such I like to be surprised. You have to remember, ultimately I’m a reader. So if I can “Holy Sh**” myself, it’s a good day.

I am totally a pantster. My mother always said that I was a fly-by-the seat-of-her-pants girl. My writing isn’t any different. It makes it difficult for Nadine Winningham, my editor, but I think it makes it more enjoyable for everyone.

Marie:  (Laughs.) Hey, whatever works for you…

I am also a character-driven writer. They often bug me before I go to sleep. 😉

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

Monica: I reached out to a first-time writer, thinking that because they were up and coming they would be receptive in offering any advice. That was a mistake. After multiple emails, I finally got a response. It was not at all generous and honestly quite hurtful. Which caused me to become blocked. That was my fault, allowing the words of someone else to affect me. But in my defense, I respected this person and what they had accomplished. I was unable to write for six weeks. It wasn’t until I met, rather apprehensively, other authors at a signing and seeing first-hand the openness and kindness within the community that allowed me to get past the block and finish Second Half within three weeks.

What would I do differently the next time? I self-published and I wouldn’t change one thing about that. I was told by a very wise woman that this is a business and that you better treat yourself and writing as such. That my first product better be as good as my most current one. Because someone will always go back and read that first book. I took those words to heart, finished the book and with the help of some amazing people put a product out there that I will never be ashamed of. Whether someone is reading my first book or being introduced to me on my tenth, God willing, book they will find a superior product that they won’t be disappointed in reading.

Marie:  Wow! Sorry you had such an unfortunate experience with that writer! 😦

But I’m glad it all worked out for you, that you didn’t let a bitter person ruin your journey.

And you’re right. Generally, there is a nice community of authors who are willing to offer advice, or at least direct you to someone who can answer those questions. So much goes into the process, and we need all the help we can get.

Thanks for the additional tips!

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 Second Half appears to be.

Readers, you will just have to pick up a copy of this modern sports romance by Monica DeSimone, a very talented author! :)

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Here is the blurb for Second Half:

Zoey McEvoy is a strong, sassy, independent woman that has vowed to herself that she will never allow anyone the opportunity to determine her emotional well-being again. After a battle with depression that ended in an attempted suicide, she has clawed her way out of the all encompassing darkness. Founding the Coach’s Shadow Foundation in honor of her father, Zoey finds herself thrown back into the life of the man that emotionally destroyed her eight years earlier.

Derrick Hendrickson chose his career over Zoey and is now back to recapture the love that he so recklessly tossed away. Unaware of the devastation his departure caused, he has to reestablish the trust that he lost when he left her. With the help of their best friends and Zoey’s sister Claire, Derrick has a strong chance of proving that he never stopped loving her. However, Zoey’s trust issues are major hurdles that need to be crossed. Will Zoey ultimately find the strength to forgive and allow Derrick and love back into her life, proving that the Second Half can be so much brighter?

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

MY ALARM GOES OFF and I don’t even remember setting it. I always use my cell phone as an alarm, never the actual alarm clock. It is purely for decoration and is actually across the room on my dresser. So the fact that it is going off right now is confusing. I roll over to get out of bed and run smack into a solid mass. I know that I had an emotional day yesterday, but not so rough that I would forget having someone in bed with me.

Derrick. I burrow my nose into his back for just a second, and burn his scent into my memory so that I have it there for later. It’s been so long since I’ve felt him next to me. But then I remember where we are, what year it is, and that he isn’t mine any longer. Jumping out of bed faster than I have ever gotten up, I’m slightly dizzy and trying to gather my bearings.

As I’m getting my feet fully under me, Derrick says, “Duchess, shut off the alarm will you? I don’t have to be at the training facility until eight.”

What the fuck? What did I miss last night? No more blue Xanax, Zoey.

Recovering quickly, or as quickly as I can, I walk to the end of the bed and shove Derrick’s foot buried under my comforter.

Rolling over, Derrick looks all sleepy, disheveled, and sexy as hell. His right arm, the one that has the half sleeve of tattoos on it, is draped over his chest. The chest that is perfectly muscled and beautiful, and that I just want to lick. As I devour him with my eyes, I notice that there is a tattoo on his left ribcage. It’s a saying or something, I can’t tell exactly from this distance and I want a closer lick, I mean look of it.

Jesus… pull it together, Zoey!

“What, Zo?” I’m literally just standing at the foot of the bed, the alarm blaring, gawking at this beautiful man. “You gonna turn that off?” he asks, shifting his head toward the noise. “Then you can come back and cuddle with me.” He’s smirking now. Bastard! He knows that I love to cuddle, and Derrick was always the best at it— warm, strong, and soothing.

“What the fuck, Derrick? Why are you in my bed? With me?” I ask, attempting to recover some of my brain cells and come back to reality. “And where are my dogs?” I’m a horrible pet mom; instead of ogling the hot half-naked man in my bed, I should have realized that Reilly and Steeler aren’t where they always are. “What did you do with my dogs, Derrick?”

“Calm down, Duchess, they’re right here.” He shifts, and I see not just Reilly and Steeler on the right side of him, but that Sam is there as well. Oh… my… God… even my dogs prefer him. Traitors.

“Can you please shut that thing off? I have a hell of a headache and that isn’t helping.”

Walking over to the dresser, I turn off the offending alarm. I still don’t know how it got set, but really, I have bigger things to worry about. Like why there is a six-foot-five-inch god in my bed. Is that a V peeking out from under the covers? Zoey! I chastise myself. I’m staring, hell I’m more than likely drooling.

Recovering as quickly as I can, I ask, “Why are you in my bed, Derrick?”

“I needed to be close to you,” he says as he gets out of bed.

The boys jump to the floor, not liking that Derrick was starting to move around, but knowing that with their humans up they will get fed and go outside. They are now sitting on the bench at the foot of my bed.

As Derrick stands to his full height, I have to bite my lip to hold in the moan. The man has a body that only ancient gods had. I notice his tattoos that are covering half of his shoulder. Yum! He is turning around when I gasp in shock. There are a pair of eyes on his left shoulder, adjacent to his heart. But they aren’t just any eyes… they’re mine.

Ooh! Interesting! I love the tension here…🙂

Purchase Links:

Universal Amazon link:  http://bookgoodies.com/a/B01LWIPOLT

B&N:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/second-half-monica-desimone/1124603461

BAM:  http://www.booksamillion.com/p/Second-Half/Monica-Desimone/9781483580494

Kobo:  https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/second-half

iBooks:  http://ibookstore.com/products.php?i=B01LWIPOLT

BookBaby:  https://store.bookbaby.com/book/Second-Half

We’ll be sure to get a copy of this sporty romance, book one of the Coach’s Shadow Trilogy! ♥

About Monica DeSimone

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Monica lives in northern New Jersey with her three dogs, Sam, Reilly, and Steeler. Raised by a football coach in the heart of Texas, football is a passion that is deep rooted. Introduced to Nora Roberts by her mother at the age of thirteen, she spawned a lifetime love affair with books, all things romance and happily-ever-afters. Outside of writing, you will find Monica on her back porch enjoying time with her “boys”, family, friends, and a really good Dirty Martini.

Book:

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

Website:  www.monicadesimone.com

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/Monica-DeSimone-Author-859944790794911/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/MonicaDe12

Amazon Author Page:  http://amzn.to/2epiLco

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15808209.Monica_DeSimone

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/monicade12/

Once again, I want to thank both of our guests, Zoey, a female character from Second Half, and Monica DeSimone, the brilliant author of the novel, for stopping by!  It was so much fun to have you here! :)

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Filed under Authors, Books, Character Interview, Contemporary, Event, Fiction, Interview, Readers, Romance, sports romance

Pre-order Release Feature: A Pawn for Malice by author Cynthia Roberts

I am pleased to announce a great new release by Cynthia Roberts, an author I met during my journey! Her thrilling romantic suspense, A Pawn for Malice, officially went up for pre-order and will be released on November 7th!

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

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

Cynthia is giving us a look at her new, intriguing romantic suspense, A Pawn for Malice, today.

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Great cover!

This is the blurb for Pawn for Malice:

Does an ex-cop ever lose his “nose” for investigating? Freshmen Senator, Bryon Gallagher, certainly hasn’t, when the love of his life, Jessica, is kidnapped by a mad man. No stone is left unturned, as he plays the role of senator by day and rogue detective by night, calling in favors and working his past snitches to the bone to find her. The only problem is, who does he focus his efforts on … her deranged, former father-in-law who lusts after her, a crazed felon hell-bent on revenging the execution of his brother put to death under the Senator’s newly passed Death Penalty Bill, or an unknown psycho, looking for his “moment of fame”?

A Pawn for Malice is a thrilling, passionate, and suspenseful romance that entails self-discovery, survival and a love that is so strong, it conquers the evil trappings of a criminal mind.

Read the first two chapters of A Pawn for Malice on Cynthia’s website here. Subscribe to her email list and you’ll also automatically be registered to win one of (2) $25 Amazon Gift Cards.

How exciting!  🙂

Book Info:

Genre:  Contemporary Romance, Suspense

Book Heat Level: R

Release Date:  November 7, 2016

Pre-order Purchase Links:

Universal Amazon link:  http://bookgoodies.com/a/B01LZUXZ1Q

B & N:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-pawn-for-malice-cynthia-roberts/1124676776

Smashwords:  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/666822

Kobo:  https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/a-pawn-for-malice

iTunes:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/a-pawn-for-malice/id1157620765?mt=11&ign-mpt=uo%3D10

What an interesting story! ♥♥♥ This looks like a riveting ride!😉

Thank you for telling us about your book, Cynthia! I know I can’t wait to read this romantic suspense! 🙂

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Readers, don’t forget to pick up a copy of this awesome book!

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Author Bio

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My love of reading romance fiction goes back to those early years when I was raising a young family. It wasn’t until much later in life I actually took up the pen to write my first historical romance, Wind Warrior. I really don’t fit into one specific niche.  Once a story starts to flow, it’s only then I know what genre/sub-genre it will fit under.

I have only one regret, and that is not getting to this point in my career much sooner, rather than later.  Life has a way of setting up road blocks, which for me, was supposed to work out that way.  Because of those detours, I have become a more passionate and expressive writer, allowing me to create the kind of raw human emotion I want my readership to feel.

It is my hope you walk away with not just an entertaining read, but the importance in knowing, “Without imagination & dreams, we lose the excitement of wonderful possibilities.”

Author Links

Website/Blog:  http://www.romanceauthorcynthiaroberts.com

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/Cynthia.Roberts.Author

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/cynthiasromance

Amazon Author Page:  https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00EDT9E4M

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3433035.Cynthia_Roberts

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

Instagram:  https://instagram.com/romauthorcroberts/

Google+:  https://plus.google.com/u/0/100112528079816795315/posts

 

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

Happy reading, everyone!🙂

3 Comments

Filed under Authors, Book Release, Books, Contemporary, Event, Fiction, new release, Readers, Romance, Romantic Suspense, Thriller/Suspense, Writing

Book Feature: The Good Thief by author Tanya W. Newman

I am pleased to announce a great book by Tanya W. Newman, an author I met during my journey! She’s stopping by to tell us about her awesome romantic suspense, The Good Thief, which released back in March!

Woo hoo! It’s always fun to discover new authors and books. 😀

Tanya is allowing us a look at her cool romantic suspense, The Good Thief, today.

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Great cover!

This is the blurb for The Good Thief:

Two days before Christmas, shy bookstore owner Scotlyn Carter survived a traumatic bank robbery and subsequent kidnapping. Now, three months later, she still wakes up hearing the robber’s promise to find her—and kill her.
Then James McIntyre, the high school flame whose easy smile and mysterious eyes she could never forget, walks back into her life. As she falls for him once again, Scotlyn slowly begins to feel safe for the first time in a long time and thinks that maybe her nightmare will not come true, after all.
But James is not all that he seems. He is back in Scotlyn’s life for a reason and has been in contact with the very thieves who kidnapped her. And he’s harboring a dark secret that, if brought to light, could not only destroy their relationship—it could end their very lives.

And here is an excerpt to tease you with.

It was mid-April, and they had barely left one another’s side. Scotlyn smiled as she looked at the ceiling, enjoying a lazy Saturday morning in James’s bed. Ever since he’d come back to her that night, they’d been seeing each other four and five times a week, going to movies, for walks late at night, for runs in the morning, to Roman’s for dinner.

Their times together frequently lasted well into the night and they’d ended up staying over at one another’s houses on many occasions, eventually leaving things like toothbrushes, shampoo, and various articles of clothing. Scotlyn remembered waking up one morning and finding a T-shirt James had lost tucked into her sheets and smiling at the scent he’d left behind on it.

He hadn’t left her again, and still hadn’t revealed the reason he had before. They hadn’t talked about it or the robbery again. For some reason, all of that seemed to be getting farther away in Scotlyn’s mind, a feeling she really loved.

It was like they were focusing on just being together, happy. No expectations or conflicts. It was as if the past didn’t matter so much anymore. She hadn’t even had to see Dr. Brenner as much, who told her she was looking better with each session.

“I guess love agrees with me,” she’d admitted to him.

“Agrees with me,” she now said out loud.

“What?” James asked.

“Nothing,” she said, shaking her head.

“Where are you?” he asked.

He was lying on his back, too, right beside her, though she could’ve sworn he was farther away from the moment than she.

“Right here with you,” she said. “You?”

“I’m here,” he said.

“Could’ve fooled me,” she said, turning over to face him and tucking her arm underneath her head. He didn’t turn to face her, just stayed there with his hands laced behind his head, looking at the ceiling.

“Hey,” he said all of a sudden.

“Hey,” she said.

He bounced around in bed to face her, an excited expression on his face now. “Come away with me,” he said.

“Away?” Scotlyn repeated, raising her eyebrows. “Where?”

“Anywhere,” he said. “The beach, the mountains, California, or Montana—”

“Whoa!” Scotlyn said, sitting up.

“I’ve got money,” he said, sitting up with her and rubbing her back. “I’ll pay for everything.”

“It’s not that,” she said. “It’s just…I don’t know…”

“You took off before when you were only twenty-two,” he reminded her.

“Yeah, but that took months of planning.”

“Well, you were alone,” he said. “Now you have me.”

Scotlyn looked at him, smiled, and leaned over to kiss him.

“Yeah,” she said. “But…”

James waited, his hand still on her back.

“My dad,” she said. “The store…I don’t know if I can leave him.”

James sighed and rubbed her back some more. How she wanted to say yes, but didn’t know who she could get to help her.

“How is it you can take off like that?” she asked.

James shrugged. “Dad’s pretty well got everything under control at the garage, hired another guy to come in a few times a week. He could spare me.”

“Hmm,” Scotlyn said. She thought about asking Jane if she could help out. Her father knew Jane and trusted her with everything if he couldn’t come in. Jane could probably use the extra money, too. It would take some training, but maybe they could work it out.

“I don’t know,” she said. “Let me do some thinking. Can I let you know tonight?”

James leaned in and kissed her before settling back into the pillows and pulling her with him. “Sure.”

They stayed together like that until Scotlyn could feel her stomach starting to growl and she realized how long it had been since she’d eaten anything. Last night, they’d bypassed dinner altogether, opting instead to just come back to James’s house and to his bed.

“Hey,” she said.

“Hey.”

“Would you do something for me?” she asked.

“Yup.”

“Would you cook breakfast for me? I’m starving.”

“I’m a terrible cook. Why don’t we just go out?”

“Because I’m way too comfortable,” she said, sitting up and winking at him. “I trust you.”

James laughed. “Well, I guess I can try.”

“Good,” she said, nestling back into the pillows. He leaned forward to kiss her once before getting out of bed and throwing on a T-shirt and jeans.

“I’m pretty sure you don’t need to get dressed to cook breakfast—”

“I don’t have anything I can cook,” he said, pulling on some shoes. He grabbed his keys off the dresser. “I’ll be back soon.”

“I’ll be here,” she said.

She heard him close the back door behind him and stared at the ceiling for a while, enjoying the moment until deciding to go ahead and make some coffee. She sat up and stretched a long moment before pulling on her jeans and top and walking lazily to the kitchen. She found a bag of coffee grounds in the refrigerator, filled the pot with water, and set it.

She was standing with her arms crossed when she heard the back door open again, a little more slowly this time. Knowing that James couldn’t have been to the store and back by now, she called, “You forget something?” without looking back.

A large arm grabbed her then and, before she could react, a cloth covered her mouth. She remembered breathing in to scream, but then she became instantly drowsier than she’d ever been. Her head fell onto a foreign shoulder and, before she could get scared, everything turned to black.

Purchase Links:

Universal Amazon link:  http://bookgoodies.com/a/B01DQ20CD8

B & N:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-good-thief-tanya-w-newman/1123600145

CreateSpace:  https://www.createspace.com/6174635

Smashwords:  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/625904

Kobo:  https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/the-good-thief-13

Books-A-Million:  http://www.booksamillion.com/p/Good-Thief/Tanya-W-Newman/9781626944428

Wow! ♥♥♥ This looks like a riveting tale!

Thank you for telling us about your book, Tanya! I know I can’t wait to read this romantic suspense!

Readers, don’t forget to pick up a copy of this awesome book! 🙂 Or you can add it to Goodreads! And by the looks of things we should see the sequel soon enough. 😉

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Author Bio

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Tanya W. Newman was born and raised in Laurens, South Carolina, where she discovered her love of a good story, and where she decided to try to write a book of her own at the age of ten. When she was finished, the story was a whopping thirty pages, but nonetheless cemented her love of writing and storytelling, a love that led to a Bachelor of Arts in English from University of South Carolina Upstate, and a Master of Arts in English from Clemson University and continued through her work as a college instructor and Library Specialist.

Now married to her wonderful husband, Mark, for eleven years, Newman still resides in the upstate of South Carolina, where she sets many of her stories. The Good Thief and her upcoming novel, Winter Rain, are both set in a town she based on Laurens.  In addition to writing and reading, she enjoys coffee, movies (usually an action/adventure with a love story added in), reruns of The Golden Girls, going for long walks, and spending time with her adorable son and daughter.

She is currently working on a sequel to The Good Thief.

Author Links

Website/Blog:  http://newmant720.wixsite.com/mysite

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/authortanyanewman/info

Amazon Author Page:  https://www.amazon.com/Tanya-W.-Newman/e/B01E1LG26E/

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15142559.Tanya_W_Newman

 

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

Happy reading, everyone!🙂

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Filed under Authors, Books, Contemporary, Event, Fiction, Readers, Romance, Romantic Suspense, Thriller/Suspense, Writing

Prologue Reveal Feature: SOMEWHERE TO BEGIN – Poison and Wine Series – by author Mika Jolie

I am pleased to announce a great book release by Mika Jolie, a friend and author I met during my journey! Her contemporary romance, Somewhere to Begin, officially releases on September 20th! Yay! That’s awesome, Mika! :) Congrats on your upcoming release!:)

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

Mika is giving us an exclusive look at her intriguing romance, Somewhere to Begin, today.

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Awesome cover!

This is the blurb for Somewhere to Begin, book one of the Poison and Wine Series:

There are wounds that never show on the body.

For twenty-nine years, Colbie Bennington does as expected with an eternal smile stained on her lips. The biggest chances she’s ever taken can be counted on one hand, three fingers to be exact—her battered red chucks, painting her toenails a vibrant blue, and her wedding dress. Always the dutiful daughter and a Stepford fiancée, she has never acted on impulse, never been in love.

She’s never lived.

On her wedding day, Colbie ends a toxic relationship, drops the fake smile, and says, “I can’t do this anymore.”

Navy SEAL Zander Serrano returns home broken and burdened with a volcano of remorse. Too trapped in a mental war to be at peace and too damaged to be at war, he shuts the world out. The last thing he expects is to feel, especially for a runaway bride with her own baggage.

Two empty hearts marred in different spots find themselves drawn to one another. Each with their own scars. Some, the world can see. Others, unseen to the naked eye.

They say two broken people should not be together. But for Colbie and Zander, their attraction is undeniable, unexpected.

Can two souls with fractured parts be the best cure for each other’s wounds?

Starting over is never easy, but sometimes in life, everyone needs somewhere to begin.

And here are some teasers to entice you with.

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Also, the much awaited prologue…

“Somewhere there’s a war.”

~ Mika Jolie

 

Afghanistan, six months ago . . .

 

Zander’s body hit hard against the concrete. Bones cracked. Muscles snapped.

Another massive blast shook the building, blowing everything up in its path. Walls screamed. Lights flickered. Tables jumped. Chunks of the ceiling caved in. A cacophony of sounds hit his ears like a tidal wave—the crunching of metal, the tinkling of glass shattering as the explosion blasted its way out of the complex, the sound of a shrill and deafening alarm warning of danger.

“Evacuate. STAT. Bomb. Bomb.” The raucous blaring of the overhead radio jarred through his head.

Black dust hung in the air, burning Zander’s throat and invading his lungs. They were ambushed by enemy fire, facing a barrage of bullets from all directions. Every cell in his body reeled at the immediate assault.

Too close. Much too close.

Human instinct told him to counterattack. Ignoring the initial urge, he waited and gathered his wits. Years as a Navy SEAL taught him never to invest in the first option that crossed his mind.

SEALs held back to see what else showed up.

He spotted a shadow darting around the corner of an adobe wall, assault rifle in hand. Zander drew his semi-automatic pistol. With only a split second to decide, he squeezed the trigger and watched the body collapse.

A deathly silence loomed.

Choking on the lack of oxygen, he released a breath, rolled onto his chest, and scanned the room. Blood dripped from his forehead into his eyes, blurring his vision but not enough to obliterate the horror staring at him. His friends lay like rag dolls in the position of death—lifeless and dismembered, flesh and brains erupted in liquid halos, a plethora of shattered bones—arms outstretched, burning flesh, cracked skulls, brains blown out.

Death tinged the air.

He coughed and swiped his mouth. Through cracked lips, he spat a glob of blood mixed with saliva onto the floor, then wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. Squinting, he inspected the room through the swirling dust for Ben.

A few feet away, his best friend, wet with gore, slouched against a wall. His face was twisted in a grimace, his skin pale and clammy as molten-red fluid pumped from his stomach.

“Help me.”

The desperate plea sent chills down Zander’s back. Nausea rolled in his stomach. He closed his eyes for a moment and swallowed hard, pushing back the vomit from his parched mouth. “I’ll get us out. Don’t move,” he cautioned when Ben motioned at the wound on his thigh. They were brothers—not cut from the same cloth, but they’d shed blood together. “I promise—” His words cut short by another deafening explosion.

In the chaos, he analyzed the environment and assessed the risks. Two doors. Four windows. Enemies to the right and left. They were ambushed—a well-organized attack—leaving his band of brothers dead or critically injured. The chance of surviving was nil, but he’d die trying.

Zander flicked his mind to autopilot mode—survival instinct—willing himself out of his surroundings. Becoming invisible was a powerful mental skill he’d mastered over the years when shit got real. He was trained to control the situation, to never react on emotion and to judge every move with logic.

Bullets continued to plow through the room like metallic hail, chipping the pavement around him. Some passed so near to his face he could feel the air being cut in front of him. He snatched one of the fired rounds from the ground and rolled it between his soil-covered fingers. So light, so cold, a trinket designed to take the only thing that really mattered, life.

He shook hands with death, acknowledged it, and whisked it away like a bunch of fruit flies caught in a heavy gust of wind.

Time to kill or be killed.

Relaxing his grip, the bullet slipped through his fingers. The empty casing hit the concrete, making a hollow clinking sound. Zander planted his hands on the floor and pushed himself up. A stifling sensation, as if shaving with a flamethrower, shot through his body.

His legs wobbled.

Gravity yanked him down.

Winded, he dragged himself to a sitting position. Back pressed against the wall, he peered at his legs. Below his knee, blood turned his khakis a deep Tuscan red.

Fuck.

Quickly, he stripped off his jacket, tied it around his thigh, and scanned the area. Not a sound could be heard, either close at hand or in the far off distance. Even his own breath seemed to die as soon as it left his mouth. It was an eerie sort of tranquility as if the world was encased in a cocoon or a bubble, and there was no way out. So instead of being soothed, his senses heightened.

He spotted an M4 carbine inches away. Stretching his arm, he grasped the handle and hauled it toward him. Gun in hand, he belly crawled along the floor, scraping his fingernails across the puddle of his own blood. Sweat and sanguine fluid poured in warm rivulets down his face. He went from body to body, patting down the corpses of James, Pete, and Scott for identification.

Something. Anything to commemorate their existence.

Nothing.

Because SEALs often worked behind enemy lines, a dog tag or something that could give away their identity was considered a huge unnecessary risk. He knew it, but he’d hoped. Pushing back the thought he’d have to identify every one of them later—if he survived—Zander wormed his way from one side of the room to the other and sat next to Ben.

His elbows burned from the effort. None of that mattered. “Put your arms around my shoulder.”

Ben glanced at him. His blue eyes dazed, his skin pale as a ghost.

Shit. Not Ben, too.

Zander rose to his feet, his teeth cutting on his bottom lip. The injury down his thigh protested, and he staggered a little. Ignoring the fire blazing through him, he dragged Ben’s weight down the hall. Tiny lead pellets traveled at twice the speed of sound through what remained of his left leg, the pain intensifying with each dragging step, jarring and brutal. He winced as the pain burned without mercy, penetrating to the cells that should have been protected by smooth skin but most likely lay open and raw.

He was a soldier.

A SEAL.

He trained for war, stood for justice, and fought to win.

With all the strength he could muster, he pushed his weight up against the doorway, dragging his left leg along with him. After leaning Ben’s body against the wall, he palmed the door open and picked out the details of his target. A group of insurgents stood in a circle, plotting. They thought they’d won.

Every movement became robotic, more machine than man. The rush of combat spiked his psyche with crazy excitement and hyperalertness. Curling his finger around the trigger, he aimed and squeezed. A hail of bullets jingled in rapid succession, pushing through the air with elegance, striking bodies with extreme precision.

Flesh tore. Arteries split. Indistinguishable faces marked with red splatter extinguished without a wisp of silvery smoke.

For a moment, silence loomed. Time stood still and yet it raced. Sand shifted under his combat boots. Suddenly he heard the sound of blades in the sky. With a deadly whoosh, the helicopter launched its missiles. A storm of dust came stinging, numbing the air with an acrid smell of death.

Exhausted, he leaned against the doorway, drowsiness coiling insidiously within him. An uncomfortable premonition—a feeling in the pit of his stomach as if he was looking death right in the eye—swept over him.

Another earsplitting sound rumbled in the distance. Clouds of fire belched upward. Weightless, he collided with the ground, drenched in his own blood. He sucked in a breath as every muscle throbbed in pain. The faces of his parents, his sister, his brothers, and home dangled in front of him as the gate of hell opened. Eyelids fluttered shut. One last memory of roughing it in a football game with his band of brothers crossed his mind.

A smile curved his lips.

And then everything faded into an abyss.

Purchase Links:

Universal Amazon link:  http://bookgoodies.com/a/B01LK0VKI4

Barnes & Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/somewhere-to-begin-mika-jolie/1123601804 

iTunes:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1097910088

Books2Read:  https://books2read.com/u/mlKe6A

Ooh! What a fascinating story! This looks like a sexy, interesting ride!😉

I can personally vouch for this one, as I was a critique partner for Mika. And I’m a big fan of her Martha’s Way Series.

(Sighs.) I love romance. ♥♥♥

Thank you for telling us about your book, Mika! I know I can’t wait to read this book again! 🙂

Readers, don’t forget to pre-order your copy of Somewhere to Begin today!

You can also add it on Goodreads and follow Mika Jolie as an author there.

Enter the cool gift card giveaway on Rafflecopter:

https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/dda4dfec375/

Good luck in the giveaway, readers!🙂

Wow, this new title looks great! Be sure to get your copy next week, or pre-order it today!

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Author Bio

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Mika Jolie is the bestselling author of the Martha’s Way series. She lives in New Jersey with her Happy Chaos—her husband and their energizer bunnies. A sports fanatic and a wine aficionado, she’s determined to balance it all and still write about life experiences and matters of the heart. Let’s face it, people are complicated and love can be messy. When she’s not weaving life and romance into evocative tales, you can find her on a hiking adventure, apple picking, or whatever her three men can conjure up.

She loves to hear from readers. Connect with Mika on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and Amazon.

For latest news on her current works-in-progress, interviews with fellow authors, or just to see what she’s up to, check out her website: http://www.mikajolie.com or sign up for her newsletter http://mikajolie.us8.list-manage1.com/subscribe?u=031e437e36c82d666bd5f3d46&id=af83626053 where you can hear her latest news and enjoy giveaways.

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Author Links

Website:  http://mikajolie.com/

Blog:  http://mikajolie.com/blog/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/mikajolie.author

Amazon Author Page:  http://amazon.com/author/mikajolie

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8294433.Mika_Jolie

 

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

Happy reading, everyone!🙂

 

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Filed under Authors, Book Giveaways, Book Release, Books, Contemporary, Event, Fiction, Readers, Romance, Writing

A Character Interview with Izzy from DANDELIONS plus a conversation with author Vivienne Vincent!

Today, we’re doing something a little different. If you remember, we interviewed Lana K. Dempsey’s character on July 28th and it was so fun that I thought we may as well make an occasional habit of it. I had the pleasure of meeting Vivienne Vincent, the debut author of Dandelions, on my author journey and I asked if I could borrow a character, Elizabeth Goodenough (Izzy for short) from the book. We’ll get a chance to talk to Vivienne in a bit, but now we have on the stage…Izzy!

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

Character Izzy: 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?

Izzy:  Sure.

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

Izzy: When I was younger, I wanted to be an Ivy League student. But my family did not have enough money and I failed to get a scholarship. Which is sad because I was a really good student until Saber came along and broke my heart. The worst part is, I was in the final year of high school.

Later I took a few courses that qualified me to work as a typist. I was able to get a menial secretarial job at a newspaper office.

I was not in love with my job because I was overworked and underpaid. Also, my boss was always trying to flirt with me. He would keep staring at me which made me uncomfortable. But life does not always offer enough options to walk away.

Marie:  Oh… 😦 Sorry to hear that. I think we’ve all had those jobs that we’d rather not have…

And you’re right. It’s not always easy to get out. Let’s try another question.

Tell us…what is your family like?

Izzy: My parents died in a car crash soon after I was born. I was raised by my Grandma who was a fabulous woman. She used to work for Saber’s family. She bought me a puppy when I was eight. Saber named my puppy Dandelion.

Dandelion died when I was eighteen. And soon after I finished high school, Grandma also left me. It was just an awful year for me.

So I moved to New York to live with my uncle whose wife was a real shrew. Once I found a job, I left their place and moved into a studio apartment.

There was no real family after Grandma until Saber came back into my life.

Marie:  Really so sorry to hear you’ve had such misfortune…

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?

Izzy:  Oh, it was a very small house. Grandma and I did not share a room but it was quite cramped. I loved flowers so much but there was no garden. Although, later I learned that as long as you have a roof over your head, you should not be complaining.

Marie:  Very true…

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

Izzy:  I enjoy reading books. I love Emily Dickinson. When I was little I used to read a lot of fairy tales. When I grew up I fell in love with stories about vampires. I love watching cartoons and dunking muffins in a warm cup of tea. Muffins taste so much better that way.

Oh, and I read the tabloids regularly.

Marie:  Hmm…I’ll have to try that muffin thing. And I can’t blame you about the vampires! 😉

So, what is your greatest dream?

Izzy: As a little girl, the dream was to marry Prince Charming and live happily ever after. After the evil wizard broke my heart, I pretty much lost track of everything.

I spent a lot of time daydreaming, though. I kept telling myself that Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and Steve Jobs made it so there was no reason that I couldn’t. Of course they were only pipe dreams.

But now that Saber and I are back together and he’s promised to become a better person, I want to see him live up to his promise. I am sure he will not let me down.

Marie: All right.

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

Izzy:  Well, if you look at my life, it’s pretty clear what went wrong. But life does not always work the way we think it should. All we can do is choose the best possible option.

Marie: That’s true.

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

Who was your first love?

Izzy: Saber, and he is the love of my life. I know he has his flaws and perhaps I forgave him too easily. But I don’t like to be a drama queen. Also, when you are in love, you can either play tough and be egotistical, or understand and accept the other person.

Marie: That’s right. And it’s better to realize someone has flaws, loving them for every facet of their character than to love an idealized version of that person.

So…let’s try another question.

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

Izzy: Life is a series of events. It’s difficult to pinpoint a single moment. I don’t think that one tragic event alters a person altogether. For me, it started when my dog died. Saber picked the worst moment to do what he did. He broke me so bad that I was no longer able to focus on my studies.

Then Grandma passed away and putting up with my aunt was nothing short of torture.

And, of course, the mistake that I made at the newspaper office, which brought me face to face with Saber, was a nightmare.

It’s been a tough journey but I am glad that things worked out.

Marie:  Me too! I’m still sorry about your hardships…

[Briefly touches her guest’s hand.]

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

[Izzy 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?

Izzy:  Well, in one sense I did not achieve my dream but in another way I did. I did not get to be an Ivy League graduate. I was not able to have the kind of financial security and independence a stable job would have provided. But I am glad that Saber and I ended up together.

Marie:  Indeed! (Sighs.) I love romance…♥

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So, who is your role model, Izzy?

Izzy:  I admired my Grandma a great deal. She was honest, hard-working, and very wise. After Saber broke my heart, she told me that “There are no Rhett Butlers and Darcys in real life. Only Heathcliffs.”

Grandma was tough but she was also incredibly kind and gentle. Sometimes I wonder if Saber had had her for a mother figure instead of his Grundy grandmother, he would have been very different.

Marie: That’s possible, but we also can’t change the past, no matter how much we wish. All we can do is make the best of what happened, try to better ourselves for the future.

It sounds like your grandmother was a very special person.

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

Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?

Izzy: Not really. I am not much of a diplomat.

Marie:  Okay.

Can you tell us something else? What is your deepest desire?

Izzy:  At this point in my life, I just want to see Saber live up to his full potential. I think that he has a good heart. But peer pressure combined with other factors can make people do things that are contrary to their nature.

Marie:  That’s true.

How about one last question?

What is your greatest fear?

Izzy:  I don’t have any fears. Not anymore. I feel safe with Saber. He has given me a great deal of confidence.

Marie: That’s great!

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

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Author Vivienne Vincent: Hi, Marie, thank you so much for having me.

Marie: Really, the honor is mine. 😀

So, we just got to talk to a female character from your story, Elizabeth Goodenough, or rather, Izzy. Quite an interesting character.  Can you tell us a little about her?

Vivienne: Izzy is an ordinary girl. I think she is pretty easy to relate to. Over the course of the book, we can see her evolve. She is very dreamy and naïve. She has a good heart, which makes her vulnerable. She is not a strong, feminist role model. But the way the book ends, I think that she has the potential to become one.

Marie:  All right.

What are your character’s greatest strengths?

Vivienne:  She is a good girl. She’s very kind. Because she has such a good heart, she thinks that the world works the same way. Being too naïve is certainly a flaw but she learns. She is very smart and intelligent. She is witty. She has the ability to become a strong woman who can bring out the very best in others as well.

Marie:  Great!

And what are your character’s greatest weaknesses?

Vivienne: I think her love for Saber could be considered a weakness. She is too dreamy and gullible. She lives in a world of her own where she forgets that fairy tales might have a Prince Charming but there’s often an evil wizard involved. When reality slaps her in the face, she is unable to deal with it. Our perception of the world depends on how we treat others. So her attitude toward Saber might be a weakness, but I cannot call it a flaw.

Marie:  I think we all have certain people we can’t resist, for one reason or another.

So, what are some of Izzy’s favorite foods?

Vivienne: She is a simple girl. She does not have expensive taste. You might remember how much she hated caviar? She likes pizza, tea, and muffins. She also likes to munch on junk food late at night.

Marie:  (Laughs.) Well, who doesn’t?

How about another question?

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

Vivienne: One important thing to remember about Izzy is that we do not see the complete evolution of her character in the book. The book ends with the possibility of what is going to happen next. The way I see it, refusing to sign the prenup and taking a stand so that Saber will apologize means she is ready to become a more resilient woman. She starts becoming aware of what she is capable of.

Marie:  Nice!

Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?

Vivienne: That is something only the readers can tell. I have received some really, really hateful comments about Saber but the good thing is that most of the people admitted that they were eventually able to forgive him.

Izzy, on the other hand, is a likable character. There might be times when the reader wonders who is that dumb? But if we remember being young and vulnerable, all of us have been there. We learn with experience.

I never meant to create characters that my readers will fall in love with. No one is perfect or absolutely adorable. But I think that Izzy is likable and Saber is memorable.

Marie: Thank you for your honesty.

And you’re right. No one can be perfect. I think that most readers like to see ‘human’ characters who have strengths and flaws just like anyone else.

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

What first gave you the idea for Dandelions?

Vivienne: Four years of unemployment. I had so much free time on my hands and I thought why not write a book? The kind of book you read for fun when life starts to get on your nerves. Saber’s character had been there inside my head for quite some time along with a few other male protagonists. Actually, this was Saber’s story, not Izzy’s.

Marie:  Interesting how the muse works, huh? :)

Let’s try something else.

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

Vivienne: With Dandelions, I was a total pantser. When I started writing, all I had was Saber’s character in my head. Details of his interaction with Izzy were vague. But I have definitely learned my lesson. I want to be a plotter in the future.

Marie:  Can’t blame you there…I am a little of both. I let the ideas flow as much as I can, and then I start plotting around what I already have.

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

Vivienne: I think that writing is very difficult. It requires focus and women have to juggle so much at the same time. As a writer you don’t get to take a break. Ideas are always there; they pop up at random moments, and if you don’t jot them down right away, they vanish into thin air.

Like any other writer, I had my fair share of writer’s block. But there was something worse. When changes were suggested during edits, first of all, I could not figure out what and how to change. I would make one little change and that would change the entire chapter. Sometimes the whole book was affected.

During the course of edits, I had to do a lot of research which should have been done when the book was written. But I did not always plan to publish it.

I have been a Harlequin reader for a very long time, so I sent it to one of their imprints. I was rejected. I sent it to a lot of other publishers and agents. All of them turned me down. I think I must have sent it to more than a hundred publishers, I cannot even recall how many. Maybe fifty agents. Those who were nice enough, politely turned me down. Most of them didn’t even reply.

But I was determined so I thought about self-publishing. And then out of the blue, one publisher told me that it’s an interesting story but there are certain flaws; rapid shift of POV, head-hopping, and telling the story instead of showing etc. I had no idea what those terms meant but I was glad to receive constructive criticism and I started working on the book again so that I could resubmit the manuscript.

But then, I received an e-mail from Solstice. They accepted the manuscript and assigned an editor, Debbie Rowe, who helped me overcome a lot of problems. Dandelions was written in third person and Debbie told me to rewrite the book in first person so that I could avoid certain issues.

And it has been an amazing experience.

For my next book, I want to have a better outline and work at a consistent pace instead of sleep deprivation and starvation.

Marie:  (Laughs.) If you’re anything like me, sleep deprivation and starvation are pretty much a part of the job description.

It’s fascinating to hear about your journey, and what you learned from it. 😉

So much goes into the process, and we need all the help we can get.

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 Dandelions appears to be.

Readers, you will just have to pick up a copy of this sexy, contemporary romance by Vivienne Vincent, a very talented author! :)

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Here is the blurb for Dandelions:

“There are no Rhett Butlers and Darcys in real life. Only Heathcliffs.”

An avant-garde romance that goes beyond sexual chemistry and digs deep into human nature and relationships.

Elizabeth Goodenough met Saber Fergus for the first time when she was eight and he was twelve. He broke her heart when she was eighteen. Ten years later, an unwitting mistake on Izzy’s part once again brings her face to face with the same one-night stand that once brutally crushed her.

But something seems different this time. Has her dark knight really transformed into a knight in shining armor, or is he playing her all over again?

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

At this point, Saber cracked a crooked grin and asked, “What’s his name?”

His flat voice became ebullient. His mischievous smile created subtle wrinkles around his deep-set, ebony eyes. They were shining far more brightly than the stars I spent hours staring at trying to figure out which ones were my parents.

“I haven’t named him yet. I got him only about a week ago. I am still thinking of a name.”

“Got him or stole him? Just like you were trying to steal our flowers.”

He was teasing me and it was working.

“You cannot steal flowers. Flowers belong to Mother Earth and Mother Earth belongs to all of us.”

“This part of Mother Earth belongs to me, so I own everything in here including wicked little girls with their hideous looking sons of bitches.”

The way that stiff-necked boy retaliated right away, it became clear that he was not someone easy to take down.

He continued. “So since both of you belong to me, why don’t I name him for you? Dandelion. How is it?”

“Dandelion?” The name made me smile. “I like it. I will call him Dandelion. Now he has an actual name. Grandma says once you have a name, you become a real person. Dandelion too is a real person now.”

“No, he is still an ugly son of a bitch. Do you like the dandelion collection over there?”

“It’s beautiful. I wish I had some in my house, but our house is too small and we don’t have a garden.”

“You can take one from here. Come with me.”

Saber moved toward the garden and I followed him. He plucked a dandelion and handed it to me. It was my first time holding one. I was staring at the delicate dandelion when Saber came close and blew right into it making it vanish into thin air. I was still trying to figure out what had happened when I heard a giggle.

“You are a meanie,” I told him.

“Am I?”

His eyes shone like a polished apple. He snatched the stem out of my hand and flicked it. It fell on the ground.

“Dandelions are far too delicate. They are just an illusion. They look real but they never last. Here.” He plucked a red rose and gave it to me. “Take this instead. Red roses are far more resilient.”

Ooh! Interesting! 🙂

Purchase Links:

Universal Amazon link:  http://bookgoodies.com/a/B01IG97RCU

B&N:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dandelions-vivienne-vincent/1124112948

CreateSpace:  https://www.createspace.com/6423501

Publisher:  http://solsticepublishing.com/dandelions/

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

About Vivienne Vincent

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Vivienne Vincent grew up in a fairly conservative environment which ironically sparked her interest in unconventional subjects and romance novels. As a young girl she became interested in novels from the Victorian era as well as modern day romance. She is pretty much obsessed with British and American sitcoms and crime series. Look her up on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with her. She loves to hear from readers.

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Book:

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

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/Vivienne-Vincent-850442295083956/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/VivienneVincen8

Amazon Author Page:  http://amzn.to/2abR73V

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/57734728-vivienne-vincent

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15486427.Vivienne_Vincent

Publisher:  http://solsticepublishing.com/vivienne-vincent/

Once again, I want to thank both of our guests, Izzy, a female character from Dandelions, and Vivienne Vincent, the brilliant author of the novel, for stopping by!  It was so much fun to have you here! :)

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Filed under Authors, Books, Character Interview, Contemporary, Event, Fiction, Interview, Readers, Romance, Writing