Here In My Heart by Anna DeStefano-a review

Here In My Heart by Anna DeStefano-a review

Here in My Heart / /

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date September 30, 2014

Live and work together, or lose everything that matters…

The ultimatum tilts Dru Hampton’s contented life in Chandlerville, Georgia, on its ear. The man that Vivian, her cantankerous boss and benefactor, wants Dru to partner with—live with—is Brad Douglas, who’s let Dru down every way a man can.

Sheriff’s deputy Brad Douglas has come a long way since his rebellious youth. He’s back home to care for Vivian, his ill grandmother. He’s stayed out of Dru’s way all these years to make up for the hurt he once caused her. Now, the delightfully mischievous Vivian’s dying wish is for them to rebuild at least a working relationship together…and she’s betting on them rediscovering much more.

The family business and the Douglas home that Dru and Brad both cherish will be sold if they don’t resolve their differences. Can these childhood sweethearts make up and reclaim each other’s hearts before it’s too late?



Even though Dru Hampton was raised in the foster system, she lucked out. She was taken in by a loving family and has built a life to be proud of. Her biggest regret has always been Brad Douglas. Brad was her older brother’s best friend, and someone she grew up around. Even though they always treated her like one of the guys, she was head over heels for Brad. Until one night changed everything. Acting on impulse, she let him know of her feelings for him, only to have him push her away. Brad’s actions not only broke Dru’s heart, but tore apart her family and then everything changed. Not only was she broken hearted over Brad’s rejection, but her brother left town, as did Brad. After coming to terms with what had happened, she forged ahead and became someone others looked up to. Especially the kids at the YMCA where she volunteered.

However, when Dru’s benefactor, Vivian, fell ill, it was up to Dru to contact Brad to get him to come home so that Vivian could get her affairs in order. When Brad shows up, he and Dru reconnect, even if only to satisfy Vivian. But, once they hear what Vivian asks of them, Dru doesn’t know if she can see it through. Brad had broken her heart and to say she has trust issues is like saying Lake Superior is a cow pond. Even though she feels that she wouldn’t be where she is today without Vivian, she just doesn’t know if she can put herself out there with Brad again, even if he does seem to be trying to make up for his past sins. And, once Dru figures out that there were things set in motion a long time ago for her benefit, and that things weren’t quite what they seemed, she knows that her life will never be the same.

Here in my Heart is a wonderfully written story about coming to terms with one’s past in order to forge a future. Dru is a strong, albeit a little naïve, character. She is everything you’d want your daughter to be with strong character and a huge loving heart. Brad is wonderful as well. He knows he messed up when he was younger, but has steadily moved forward with his life trying to atone for his past mistakes. The secondary characters are wonderful as well, and I can’t wait to read more about them. This is my first book by Anna DeStefano, but it will not be my last. If you’re looking for a quick read with a wholesome and sweet storyline, this one is for you. I shed a few tears at the end and I can’t wait for the next installment. Well done Anna DeStefano, very well done.

Copy supplied by the publicist

Reviewed by Vickie M

About The Author Black and Yellow

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Anna DeStefanoNationally bestselling author Anna DeStefano has searched her entire life for the soul of the matter at the heart of her world’s mysteries. As a small child, she drew from her experiences, senses, and dreams to paint a lush fantasy world, filled with endless possibility and characters of her own creation. Putting pen to paper, Anna transforms these inner landscapes into rich storytelling.

Hers is a realistic but optimistic vision, searching for hope and transformation through intense emotional journeys. Her fuel–the inner passions and conflicts of the characters she crafts. Much like a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly, Anna’s characters face the ultimate of human choices: finding the courage to conquer their fears and thrive until, despite every obstacle, they become the beautiful things they’re meant to be.


The Red Wolf’s Prize by Regan Walker-Review and Excerpt

The Red Wolf’s Prize by Regan Walker-Review and Excerpt

The Red Wolf's Prize / /

About the book: Release Date October 1, 2014

Sir Renaud de Pierrepont, the Norman knight known as the Red Wolf for the beast he slayed with his bare hands, hoped to gain lands with his sword. A year after the Conquest, King William rewards his favored knight with Talisand, the lands of an English thegn slain at Hastings, and orders him to wed the heiress that goes with them, Lady Serena.


Serena wants nothing to do with the fierce warrior to whom she has been unwillingly given, the knight who may have killed her father. When she learns the Red Wolf is coming to claim her, she dyes her flaxen hair brown and flees, disguised as a servant, determined to one day regain her lands. But her escape goes awry and she is brought back to live among her people, though not unnoticed by the new Norman lord.

Deprived of his promised bride, the Red Wolf turns his attention to the comely servant girl hoping to woo her to his bed. But the wench resists, claiming she hates all Normans.

As the passion between them rises, Serena wonders, can she deny the Norman her body? Or her heart?


Review: The Red Wolf’s Prize begins with Lady Serena of Talisand pondering her future. She has received word that King William decreed she is to wed the new Norman Lord of Talisand, who should be arriving any day. But, she knows that she could never love a Norman who battled his way across England and helped his king conquer her and her people. She knows her brother is to the north, in Scotland, and is determined to leave Talisand in order to reunite with him. Although she will miss her people, she knows she must leave to escape her fate. She would have done well to know that fate is a fickled mess sometimes………..

Sir Renaud, and his knights are exhausted, having fought across England for what seemed like forever. Once they are given their leave by King William, they head to Talisand and are pleased with the sight before them. Even though the people seem nervous, they are welcoming to Renaud, now Lord Talisand, and his fellow Normans. It doesn’t take Renaud long to realize that his promised bride, the beautiful Lady Serena, is not in Talisand and sends a contingent of his men to search for her. Good news? They find a small group of men and women and bring them back. The bad news? Lady Serena is nowhere to be found. However, there is a very attractive servant girl, Sarah, who catches the Lord’s attention and when he tries to woo her, things don’t go quite as he’d have liked them to.

As Lord Talisand becomes more comfortable with his new people, and they with him, he starts noticing that some of his men and some of the women of Talisand are growing more comfortable with each other as well. But when one of the local women is attacked by one of his men, only to be saved by Sarah, he knows that he is at a crossroads with his people and his next steps will either earn their trust or it will earn their ire. He has also noticed that Sarah is most fierce in her protection of all of the people of Talisand. How could he not be the same for his people and his new home? The one thing that would make it all better? His promised bride, Lady Serena at his side. But could she ever come to love him, or would she forever see him as a conqueror of her people and her land? Well my friends, you’ll have to read to find out. And, oh what a read it is………

Regan Walker has once again written a story that grabs hold and doesn’t let go. Serena is absolutely my favorite heroine dreamed up by Regan Walker to date! Her loyalty, her fierceness and her heart will endear her to everyone who reads this story. Her understanding of what her people want and need is so touching. She is truly a force to be reckoned with. Renaud is a perfect match for her. He is as loyal and fierce as she is, and their chemistry is palpable. The cast of supporting characters are terrific in their own right. I truly can’t wait to read more about them.

The Red Wolf is another wonderfully written story by Regan Walker. If you have read my reviews of her previous books, you know that I have raved about her character building and her masterful world building, and this one is no exception. The way she weaves actual historical events into her stories is unparalleled. There is intrigue, action and a beautifully developed romance. As you read her stories, you can see it and you can most definitely feel it. The Red Wolf is ultimately a story of coming to terms with what is and what can be, and letting go of what was. This is Regan’s first foray into the Medieval genre, but from what I’ve read, thankfully, it won’t be the last. Very well done Regan Walker, very very well done.

Copy supplied by the author

Reviewed by Vickie M

 Click here for :  The Red Wolf’s Prize trailer




Red Wolf Excerpt: the Red Wolf meets Serena, disguised as the servant, Sarah
Renaud lingered at the high table in the hall until he glimpsed the servant girl with the brown plait carry a pile of linen through the entry heading toward the stairs to the bedchambers. Slowly rising, he nodded to Geoff and followed after her.
Quietly, he stepped through the open door of his chamber. The girl had her back to him as she freshened the bed, the stack of clean linen resting on a nearby chest. He did not acknowledge her but went directly to the trestle table, poured a goblet of wine and sat, pretending to examine a drawing of the lands surrounding the manor.
She turned. “I can come back later, my lord.” She spoke meekly, barely looking at him as she hurriedly finished with the bed and began a hasty retreat to the door.
He replied in the English tongue, as he did to all save his men. “Nay, you may stay. Your work will not disturb me.”
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw her back stiffen. Slowly, she retraced her steps and resumed her work. Her movements were rushed as if she were trying to complete her assigned tasks in haste. Was she nervous at being alone with him? Even with that, Renaud thought she was graceful as she walked to the shelves near where he sat. She held her head high, unusual for a servant in the presence of her lord. Though her long plait was the dull color of country earth, her profile was refined and her features delicate. He rose and silently moved to stand behind her where she dusted a carved box.
She must have sensed his approach.
“My lord?” she said, turning to face him.
Blue-violet eyes held his gaze only a moment before looking down at the floor. Set in her ivory face they reminded him of violets in the snow. So mesmerized was he that, for a moment, he forgot his question.
“Your name is Sarah?”
Keeping her eyes focused on the floor, she said, “Yea, my lord.”
“How long have you been at Talisand?”
“All my life, my lord.” Her voice was soft, a low purr, and with her words a flowery scent drifted to his nose. He was captivated and wanted to touch her. How long had it been since he’d had a woman? And this one was causing his manhood to stir.
Turing back to the shelf, she resumed dusting the carved box, as if to put an end to the conversation. His gaze shifted to her hand as she set down the box. Delicate fingers and ivory skin. It was not the hand of a kitchen wench.
“Let me see your hand.” She started at his request, and though he could see she wanted to resist, she did not fight him when he reached for her hand and brought it close to his body turning her palm upward.
It told him much.
“These blisters are new. You have not always worked in the kitchens nor done the wet work of the laundry, have you?”
She shook her head in silent agreement.
“What were your tasks before I came to Talisand?”
Looking down at her feet, she said, “I was with the Lady Serena, my lord.”
“Ah, a lady’s handmaiden then.” So that is where the girl learned to speak so well, for her speech was not that of an ordinary servant nor her manner that of a scullery maid.
He waited for her to say more but when she did not, he said, “Tell me about her.”
She looked up. “What would you know, my lord?” Blue violet eyes held his. He could get lost in those eyes.
“How does she look?”
“She is tall and her hair is the color of summer wheat, my lord.”
“And her character?”
Turning her gaze again to the floor, she hesitated before speaking. “She loves her people and her family, my lord. She is very loyal. Had she been a man, she would have fought with her father at Hastings. Most of all, she loves Talisand and would die for its people.”
Her voice, nearly breaking at the end, told him her words were spoken with deep emotion. She was close to the Lady of Talisand and to the old thegn.
“I’m told her brother took the lord’s place for a time,” he said, hoping she would continue to talk.
She raised her eyes to his. “Yea, Steinar did lead Talisand for a time, but then he was drawn away by other battles.” When she spoke the young man’s name, a tender look came into her eyes. Did she love the old lord’s son? Mayhap she was his leman. The possibility was not to his liking.
Still holding her hand, he looked down at her palm seeing other signs. “These are the calluses of an archer. How is it a lady’s handmaiden comes to use a bow?”
The girl’s eyes shifted to her hand where Renaud had begun moving his thumb across her palm in slow sensual circles. He was not unaffected and, he suspected, neither was she.
“Rhodri taught me, my…my lord.” She spoke in a halting whisper, confirming his touch was disrupting her thoughts. Then she added hastily, “I was not the only one. It was the old lord’s desire that Rhodri should teach all at Talisand who cared to learn.”
Renaud remembered that when the young servant women had been returned to the demesne, Sir Niel had taken several bows from them.
He stopped stroking her palm. She tried to pull back her hand but he had no intention of releasing her. “Who is this Rhodri?”
“He is a Welsh bard, my lord, who is also skilled with a bow. The thegn met him on his travels and invited him here. He lived among us for several years.”
“Where is the Welshman now?”
“I know not, my lord. Peradventure he is in Wales, though his music and his skill with a bow are much in demand. He may yet be in England.”
“A bard and a bowman…an unusual combination.” Renaud frowned in concentration as he considered the idea.
“Not for a Welshman,” she said, matter-of-factly.
Renaud smiled, amused. She was so serious, so insistent, this servant who acted like no servant he’d ever known. “Aye, mayhap you are right. Many Welshmen would have both talents.”
He let go of her hand, but remained close. He knew now what had attracted his men for he, too, was falling under her spell. She was beautiful and well spoken and something about her enticed him. If she had been the leman of this brother of Lady Serena’s or the bard Rhodri, it was possible she was not a maiden and would accept an invitation to come to his bed.

about the author
Regan WalkerI didn’t start out as a writer of romance, oh no. Although I loved to write stories as a child, by the time I got to college, more serious pursuits were encouraged. So, naturally, I became a lawyer. Who needs adverbs as a lawyer? But after years of serving clients in private practice and several stints in high levels of government, I decided it was time for a change. My work had given me a love of international travel (I’ve been to over 40 countries…) and a feel for the demands of the “Crown” on its subjects. Hence, my first novels are all about a demanding Prince Regent who thinks of his subjects as his private talent pool.

I promise my novels will always sweep you away to another time and another place. I want you to experience adventure as well as love.

I live in San Diego with my wonderful Golden Retriever “Link.” I have one son who is a young entrepreneur and, though he looks like a Highlander of old, he would never read a romance novel. So like a man, no?

Twitter: @RegansReview (

Deconstructing Lila by Shannon Leigh – a Review

Deconstructing Lila by Shannon Leigh – a Review


Deconstructing LilaAmazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / The Book Despository / BAM


Preservationist Lila Gentry returns to her small Texas hometown to restore the famous Chisholm Trail whorehouse where her great-great-grandmother was a madam in the 1880s. On her agenda is winning back Jake, the one that got away. But how do you rope a man who doesn’t want to be wrangled?

Jake lives by one creed:  Keep it simple. His ex showing up in town complicates his life and makes him think about things he’d rather forget.

When Lila’s restoration project is threatened before it even begins, she turns to Jake for help. Working together stirs up old feelings, but while Lila and Jake always sizzle between the sheets—or wherever the moment takes them—it will involve some sweet-talking and finesse to bring these two together.



Let me start off by saying I’ve never read anything by Shannon Leigh before and it won’t be the last. I really enjoyed Deconstructing Lila. Ms. Leigh writes a story with realistic, well developed characters, that is heartfelt and emotional. It’s a story about love lost, fear to hope for the future, then once again finding love by letting go of the fear and allowing hope to blossom.

I found Lila to be a strong female lead that’s likeable and easy to relate to. We learn about Lila’s background through her granny, who’s a hoot by the way. I loved her granny and I’ll get to her later on. After spending ten years apart from her beloved granny and love of her life Jake, Lila comes home a changed woman and is bound and determined to show Jake that all isn’t lost between them. Now that she’s grown up, dealt with the past, and Jake’s cancer, she’s ready to prove to him that they can have a future if he’d only let her in, instead of pushing her away, like he did ten years ago.

Jake is a character that broke my heart. We see from the get go that he never stop loving his wife, but due to the uncertainty with his cancer and treatments, he feared leaving her behind through death if his treatments didn’t work. In trying to protect her from his life, he pushed away the one thing he really needed, Lila’s love. Jake is a very honourable, proud, respectable and sexy man, and doesn’t know how to let hope for a future into his life. Hope being his Lila.

The emotion in this story is very real and tangible. It just pours off the pages and made me wanting to keep reading to see how Jake and Lila’s story would end. It’s very easy to see Jakes point of view regarding Lila, but we also see where Jake needs to just let go of his fear and embrace the love and life together that Lila’s offering, no matter how long or short a time he has on this planet. Life is to uncertain to let fear hold us back, we need to embrace it with everything we have, and Jake finally comes to that conclusion in a very dramatic and Texas fashion way, tornados be damned. Along with the emotional journey between Lila and Jake I found that Ms. Leigh did a fine job of balancing all that emotion through some of her secondary characters. She brought in some humour to lighten the mood at just the right spots with Lila’s granny and the Bombshells(her bowling team and gossip friends). When these gals get together you never know what they will do or say. They are a lot of fun in a scene and kept me in stitches as they gave poor Lila advice on how to win back Jake. We also get some humour between Jake and his friend/co-worker Casler. I hope he will have his story told down the road as he’s rather mysterious so far to me.

All in all this is a well written story, with well rounded and realistic characters. I loved the emotional journey that Lila and Jake take to get back to one another. The love scenes are steamy, emotional and romantic. Their love for each other is as real today as it was ten years ago. The emotion and humour in the story are well balanced and make for a satisfying read. I’m so glad I had the chance to read this one and get to know Ms. Leigh as a writer. I’ll be sure to read more by this author in the future.

Until next time, happy reading everyone.

Reviewed by Marcie

Copy provided by Publisher


Hope Burns by Jaci Burton – Review & Giveaway

Hope Burns by Jaci Burton – Review & Giveaway


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Hope Burns
Hope #3
by Jaci Burton
Release Date: September 30, 2014
Genre: adult, contemporary, romance,

Hope Burns

Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / The Book Depository / BAM

Molly Burnett and Carter Richards share a painful past, one that sent Molly running out of town, vowing never to return. The only thing bringing her back is her sister’s wedding, and she doesn’t intend to stay long. But circumstances force her to remain in town, and within close distance of the one man who hurt her more than she’d ever been hurt before. Can the two of them face down the past and work together toward the possibility of love and happiness in Hope?



Hope Burns by Jaci Burton is the 3rd book in her Hope series. I love this series, as Jaci Burton never fails to give us a sweet heartwarming story, and another fabulous couple. These romances that take place in small towns are always romantic and charming.

Molly Burnett left home years ago after being heartbroken by her high school sweetheart. Molly forces herself to return home for her sister Emma’s wedding. Emma and Luke’s story was in Hope Flames.

Carter is our hero, and he is is the boyfriend who hurt Molly years before. Carter though has grown up, and is even more swoonworthy then he was before. Molly notices that right away, as she runs into Carter almost as soon as she arrives in town. But she is determined to keep her distance, which in time will become more difficult as each day passes. Carter is now successful, owning 4 auto repair shops. He is more responsible, and it doesn’t take long for him to try to win Molly back. Molly only plans to stay in town until after the wedding, which will change as an accident will force her to stay a lot longer then she wanted too.

What follows is a story of two people who lost their way many years ago, with one ready to begin again and the other too afraid to commit for fear of being hurt again. It is a very sexy romance, with Carter finding himself falling in love with Molly again. Their chemistry was off the wall, very hot and well written by Burton. Molly knows her feelings are still strong for Carter, and is enjoying their sexual escapades. Despite her renewed feelings, the hurt from so long ago continues to build on her fears . Can Molly control her wanderlust and stay in Hope? Can she trust her feelings for Carter, or will she run again?

Jaci Burton has given us another wonderful and steamy romance, and it was fun to see all the characters we are getting know so well in this series.   You need to read this series and join the fun that you will have in Hope.

Reviewed by Barb

Copy provided by Publisher



Jaci’s publisher is graciously offering a paper copy of HOPE BURNES to ONE (1) lucky commenter at The Reading Cafe.

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Love on the Boardwalk by Christi Barth – Review & Giveaway

Love on the Boardwalk by Christi Barth – Review & Giveaway


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Love on the BoardwalkAmazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / BAM


Atlantic City is the perfect place for detective Bradley Hudson to nurse his broken heart. A week of beer and strippers is sure to erase his former fiancée from his memory for good. What he didn’t count on was running into a sassy redhead from his past. Maybe a rebound romp is an even better plan…

Trina Trimble, private eye in training, is thrilled to be reunited with the hottie she almost hooked up with last summer. She’s undercover on her first solo case, but there’s always time to lock lips with a sexy cop. Besides, a fun fling with Brad doesn’t have to last beyond his week in town.

Brad and Trina are supposed to be just flirting, not forging a new forever. Brad’s still healing, and although Trina changes careers the way other women change shoes, she has finally found her calling in her new life of disguises and stakeouts. But when an irresistible job offer threatens to lure her away, Brad will need to decide to let her go or bet it all on love and risk his heart again




Love on the Boardwalk by Christi Barth is the first book in her new Shore Secrets series. Love on the Boardwalk follows in the tradition of sweet romance stories that Barth writes so well. Brad Hudson is our hero, and he is a detective, who goes to Atlantic City for a short vacation. Brad, whose fiancée dumped him, is mending his broken heart in a strip joint, when he runs into Trina Trimble.

Trina is our heroine, and she is a rambunctious redhead at that. Brad is shocked to see Trina, especially waitressing in this joint, being barely dressed. He learns shortly thereafter, that Trina is a PI in training, and was sent to AC to work on her first case. The two of them met months ago, when they were with their friends, Darcy and Coop, who are great secondary characters in this story. At that time, they just flirted, with nothing happening, as Brad was not interested in getting involved.

Now in Atlantic City, Trina sets her sights on hottie Brad to at least have a one night stand. Brad is afraid to become involved with Trina, since his friends will not be happy, knowing he could hurt their friend, with him just using her for sex. But Trina is determined to make Brad forget about his ex, and uses her wiles to make it impossible to resist her.

What follows is a nice romance, with the added mystery of Trina working on her case. Darcy and Coop added to the fun when they arrived to join them in AC. Though I liked the characters and the chemistry between the couple, the story early on felt a bit scrambled to me.  Overall Love on the Boardwalk was a fun sweet story, with a hot couple.

Reviewed by Barb

Copy provided by Author



Christi is graciously offering an e-copy of LOVE ON THE BOARDWALK to ONE (1) lucky commenter at The Reading Cafe.

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Laurel Heights by Denise Moncrief – Review, Interview & Giveaway

Laurel Heights by Denise Moncrief – Review, Interview & Giveaway

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laurel heights

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A dark cloud of deceit hovers over her family tree…

Left an estate by an aunt she’s never met, Laurel Standridge takes possession of Laurel Heights, hoping it will be the safe haven she needs to recuperate from her ill-fated relationship with Rand Peterson. Secrets long buried rise to the surface when her cousin James is murdered and dumped on the highway just outside the gates of Laurel Heights.

Her past trails her to the mountains of Arkansas…

Caught in an obligation Chase Peterson feels he cannot ignore, he agrees to help his brother Rand take back the property he believes Laurel stole from him, but Chase remains at Laurel Heights after he discovers Laurel took nothing of Rand’s away with her except nightmares, fading bruises, and a broken rib.

Unexplained disturbances shatter her hopes of a normal life…

Are the strange bumps, thumps, and bangs reverberating through the night caused by the murderer of Laurel’s cousin James, someone Rand has sent to exact his revenge, or a disturbed soul existing in another dimension, trying to communicate with the living? Drawn together by the intrigue surrounding Laurel Heights, Chase and Laurel become hopelessly entangled in a relationship that goes deeper than mere physical attraction. Can their love survive the haunting of Laurel Heights?


I personally love a good supernatural tale, providing the story is good. Laurel Heights by Denise Moncrief is among the finest stories I’ve ever had the pleasure to read. This wonderfully mysterious and spooky tale begins in San Diego, CA and soon leads to Fairview, a small town in Hill County, Arkansas. I won’t tell you the entire incredible story; I hate to spoil a good read. However, here’s the enticing set up.

Laurel Stanbridge is the nice but damaged ex-girlfriend of gangster Rand Peterson. She has unfortunately, learned too much about the life of crime from him, but has not committed any herself, other than her early efforts to ‘protect’ her boyfriend (before she found out what a monster her really was). Rand is a monster and has kept her afraid and unable to run away from him for a few years. He’s abusive and so much more…downright evil.

Rand is now in prison after putting her in the hospital, and Laurel testified against him…he’s not a happy camper! He manipulates his half-brother (who he really doesn’t know well) into finding out where she went and finding a travel drive with files he needs on it, he believes she has it.

His half-brother, Chase Peterson, finds Laurel in Arkansas. She’s inherited a large house and land from an aunt she didn’t even know existed, just when she really needed a place to go. She’s trying to turn the old place into a B&B, but really needs help (locals won’t work at the house). Chase poses as a handyman and takes the job, so he can look for the drive. Long story short, he’s not a bad guy and nothing like his half-brother…yes, he begins to like her and believes she doesn’t know what Rand is talking about.

There are strange things beginning to happen in the house and property…when a dead man is found on the road near the gate of the house…and turns out to be a cousin she didn’t know about the ghost-hunting cops come calling.

This marvelous tale has so much going on it’s really complicated. However, the writing is well done, very expressive and flows eloquently. The author gives you lots of information and lets you ‘feel’ the characters and the events, both past and current.

This is a ‘page turner’. It’s very difficult to put down, so of course I didn’t! Who to trust, who is bad, who is good, WTF is going on? Crazy Aunt Celeste, is she a ghost or is someone gas-lighting Laurel? Will Chase fall for her or her for him? Will someone do the world a favor and kill Rand (please)? Who else is involved? What else could there be, ghost hunting cops? Oops…almost a spoiler!

You’re going to need some ‘serious’ beverage to sit and read this one! Something to crunch on besides your fingernails and plenty of lights turned on! It’s mysterious, suspenseful, romantic, and downright scary! Enjoy everyone, I certainly did!

Reviewed by Georgianna

Copy provided by Promoter



Hi Denise, welcome to The Reading Café. Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions today. We are always looking forward to reading about the author behind the book.

TRC: Please tell us about yourself

Denise:  I’m an accountant by day and a romantic suspense writer by night. I live in Louisiana with my wonderful husband and two terrific children. Some of the things I love…chocolate, coffee, Greek yogurt, roller coasters, reality TV, and Minecraft.

TRC:  When and how did you first become interested in writing?

Denise: I’ve been writing off and on since I was a teenager. That was a lot of years ago. I have a very active imagination and I found I was doing a lot of daydreaming about being in different places with different people doing different things. One day I decided all that daydreaming wasn’t exactly…healthy. It certainly wasn’t my reality. Then I got the idea to channel my overactive imagination into writing rather than daydreaming. After all some of my daydreams made great stories. Writing was a result of a much healthier expression of my inner creativity.

laurel heightsTRC:  Laurel Heights is the first book in your new Haunted Hearts series. How did you come up with the idea of this series? Can you please tell us the premise of this series, and how many books do you anticipate?

Denise: Several years ago, I became fascinated with the television series Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures. I know that many of the episodes (if not all of them) are scripted and contrived, but the shows sparked my interest in paranormal investigation.

I wrote the rough drafts of the first three books in the series eight or nine years ago as romantic suspense, but I’ve always felt something was missing. Another dynamic. I wanted to add something more to the story lines than romantic suspense. When I started revising them for publication about six months ago, the idea of adding a paranormal element just kind of came to me. Maybe because I had become fascinated with paranormal investigation or maybe because I was reading Heather Graham’s Krewe of Hunters book series.

The central character in the series is Mitchell Grayson (Gray), a county Sheriff’s deputy and paranormal investigator. Even though he is not a main character in any of the books except the second one, he is a central character in the series. Each book has three elements that spin and twist until they come together at the conclusion of the book. A romantic element, a suspense element, and a paranormal element. All of the books in the series will have a haunting that Grayson will investigate. I have already begun revisions on the second book in the series, Victoria House, with the concept in mind for revising the third book, Ashley Ridge. I plan to continue the series as long as I can imagine new situations for Gray to investigate. I’d like to keep the series going for a least an additional three or four books beyond what I’ve already drafted.

TRC:  Can you please give us a brief description of Laurel Heights?

Denise: Laurel Standridge seeks refuge from her ill-fated relationship with Rand Peterson, so she moves into her aunt’s old house at Laurel House. But there is no peace for her there. Her family’s dark past surfaces and causes her trouble, Rand sends his brother Chase to exact his revenge on her, and unexplained disturbances in the middle of the night rob her of the rest she desperately craves. Drawn together by the intrigue surrounding Laurel Heights, Chase and Laurel become hopelessly entangled in a relationship that goes deeper than lust. Can their love survive the haunting of Laurel Heights?

TRC:  Can you give us a brief description of your Colorado series? Twin Rivers will be the third book in that series.

Denise: The Colorado series is a set of interconnected books that are not sequels of one another. The books cover the same timeline, a short period of time when the actions of one man caused chaos in three women’s lives. Events that are common to all three books are seen through the perspective of each book’s heroine. In romantic suspense, there must be a villain. The same villain threatened the future happiness of all three heroines.

TRC:  What are the challenges or difficulties that you found in your writing career?

Denise: My biggest challenge is that I have more ideas for stories than I have time to write. Once a writer types The End on a manuscript, the work really begins. Books do not sell themselves. Promotion and marketing are big time investments. After all, a writer wants readers more than anything. And to gain readers, a writer must also be an entrepreneur, a sales person, and a publicist. With all that added activity, sometimes finding time to write is difficult. And if I can’t write, I might as well not breathe. Writing is more than a hobby or a career for me. It is my passion.

TRC:  You write Romance, Suspense, and Paranormal. Do you have a preference as to which genre you enjoy writing the most? Have you ever thought about writing another genre?

Denise: Paranormal is the newest genre in my catalog, and I’ve layered it on top of romantic suspense, working the three elements into a tightly twisted thread running throughout the plotline. I’ve found that I can’t write straight up romance without allowing the suspense to creep into the plot. Suspense is an addiction. I have to add that little bit of action or intrigue. An element of danger. The building of tension in the plot until there’s an ah-ha moment. When the suspense comes to full crescendo. I believe that writing good romance involves an element of suspense. When will the hero and heroine discover they are meant for one another? There is a definite ah-ha moment in a well-written romance plot line. No, I’ve never even considered writing anything else but romantic suspense. For me, the two elements, when done right, work together beautifully when both plotlines merge into one satisfying, suspense-filled moment.

TRC:  What are you currently working on?

Denise: My current work in progress is the second book in the Haunted Hearts series. I’m about 60% through with my revisions. I’m very excited about this series, because it brings together all the elements of writing that I love the most.

TRC:  What is your writing process? Do you have a favorite place or time you like to write?

Denise: I’ve always been a “pantser”. I usually know where I want to begin a plot line and where I want to end it. In the middle, I allow my characters to tell me how to get between the beginning and the end. But for my current work in progress, I’ve done some outlining and have found it’s kept me focused better. I don’t know if I will continue to outline, but at least for this book, it’s been useful.

My favorite place to write is on my sofa. Reclining with my MacBook on my knees, a cup of coffee nearby on the cocktail table, and my feet propped on the sofa arm. Actually, that’s where I’m at while I’m answering these questions. What time of day? Whenever I can squeeze it in, but generally I don’t get going good until about nine o-clock at night when things have settled down in my house. Then I can get about two hours of writing in before I can’t keep my eyes open any longer.

TRC:  Is there a book or author that gave you the inspiration to write?

Denise: No one book or author in particular. More like a genre of books inspired me to write. I love delicious romance mixed with fast-paced suspense. I’ve enjoyed books by Mary Higgins Clark, Heather Graham, Karen White, and of course, classic romantic suspense writers like Victoria Holt and Phyllis Whitney. Daphne DuMaurier’s Rebecca grabbed my attention at an early age. No one writer has made me say, “I want to write like that.” At the risk of sounding vain, I want to be my own voice. I don’t want to emulate anyone else.

TRC:  Would you like to add anything else?

Denise: Thank you for hosting me on The Reading Café.


FAVORITE FOOD: Tex-Mex (Didn’t have to think about that one at all.)



FAVORITE LITERARY CHARACTER (not your own): Scarlett O’Hara. My favorite line of all time is the opening line of Gone With the Wind. “Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were.”

FAVORITE TV SHOW: Criminal Minds



TRC:  Thank you, Denise for answering our questions. The Reading Café wishes you the best of luck with Laurel Heights.

Denise: Thank you!


About The Author
11fba9e7-f4d9-4e02-939a-52c296940c77_zpsd34af855Suspense, She Writes

Where the road to happily ever after takes a suspenseful detour. Fast paced twists and turns that keep you turning the pages. Romantic happily ever after moments that take your breath away. Paranormal romantic suspense that keeps you on the edge of your seat.

Want to know a little bit more about Denise? She’s a Southern girl who has lived in Louisiana all her life, and yes, she has a drawl. She has a wonderful husband and two incredible children, who not only endure her writing moods, but also encourage her to indulge her writing passion. Besides writing romantic suspense, she enjoys traveling, reading, and scrapbooking
Accounting is a skill she has learned to earn a little money to support her writing habit. She wrote her first story when she was a teen, seventeen handwritten pages on school-ruled paper and an obvious rip-off of the last romance novel she had read. She’s been writing off and on ever since, and with more than a few full-length manuscripts already completed, she has no desire to slow down.

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Amazon



Denise  is offering an e-copy of the winner’s choice of one of her books (check her site for the list) to ONE (1) lucky commenter at The Reading Cafe.

1. If you have not previously registered at The Reading Cafe, please register by using the log-in at the top of the page (side bar) or by using one of the social log-ins.

2. If you are using a social log-in, please post your email address with your comment.

3. LIKE us on FACEBOOK and then click GET NOTIFICATION under ‘liked’ for an additional entry.

4. LIKE us on Twitter


6. LIKE Denise Moncrief on FACEBOOK

7. Giveaway is open Internationally

8 Giveaway runs from September 28- October 3, 2014



Turbulent Passion / Burning Desire (The Flyboy Trilogy 1 & 2) by G.L. Ross-a review

Turbulent Passion / Burning Desire (The Flyboy Trilogy 1 & 2) by G.L. Ross-a review

Flyboy Trilogy


turbulent PassionTURBULENT PASSION
(Flyboy Trilogy #1)
by G.L. Ross
Release Date: February 26, 2014
Genre: adult, contemporary, romance, erotic

ebook only .99¢ at time of posting: / / Barnes and Noble /

The First Novel in G.L. Ross’s Sexy “Flyboy” Trilogy:

Captain Lance Miller has dreamt about his green eyed goddess for twenty years and has almost given up any hope of finding her, of course that hasn’t prevented him from being the biggest playboy flying with International Air, that is until he meets new hire Flight Attendant Lisa Price. The gorgeous, virginal blond is physically attracted to the tall, dark, Air Force pilot, but his egotistical, manwhore tendencies shock and frighten her naïve religious upbringing. Despite a series of turbulent starts the pair cannot deny the passion sizzling between them, and once their relationship takes off, Lance cannot get enough of his curvy goddess, whereas Lisa is terrified of the consequences if she admits her feelings for Lance, so she keeps her cards close to her chest.

Turbulent Passion is a sexy, steamy love story, with a touch of BDSM. Lance and Lisa’s love story introduces the reader to: Texas and the great city of Austin, country music, Tex-Mex food, male dominance, redemption, Air Force camaraderie, along with an ending which leaves the reader eager for book two of the Flyboy Trilogy.


REVIEW: TURBULENT PASSION is the first storyline in G.L. Ross’s adult, contemporary, erotic Flyboy Trilogy. This is airline pilot Captain Lance Miller and Flight Attendant/psychologist Lisa Price’s storyline.

Told from two distinct first persons POV (Lisa and Lance) Turbulent Passion follows the building relationship between Lisa and Lance. Lance is off limits as far as Lisa is concerned. With his reputation as a love’em and leave’em flyboy, one night stand sort of man, Lance is the epitome of a manwhore. But for all her protestations, Lisa is drawn to Lance. His beauty, his powerful build and his vibrant personality all call to Lisa’s heart. The only problem is that Lisa is an inexperienced virgin who has been holding out for her wedding night.

Part of the premise of the story is Lance’s twenty plus years of dreaming about a green eyed goddess. Everywhere he looks, he searches for the woman who haunts both his days and his nights. When he spots Lisa at the airport, he knows he has found his soul mate and pursue her with dogged determination.

The sexual tension between Lance and Lisa is palpable. Their attraction to one another is immediate but Lisa has a difficult time accepting Lance’s past. As Lisa endeavors to see other men, Lance waits impatiently for Lisa to acknowledge their mutual attraction. As the storyline builds, so too does their emotional and sexual relationship. From adversaries to friends to lovers, Lisa and Lance will begin to fall in love but life has a way of destroying everything that was meant to be. The sex scenes are provocative, entertaining and arousing.

The secondary characters include several of Lisa and Lance’s fellow co-workers including pilots, flight attendants and airline employees. The world building is awash with airline terminology, on board flight rituals and a behind the scenes look at what pilots and flight attendants do in their down time.

There are several instances where the author uses character ‘aside comments’ or ‘inner dialogue’ in the text; expressing themselves in relation to something that has happened or has been said. This particular literary device was a bit of a distraction to the overall enjoyment of the story.

I did have some concern about the ‘inexperienced virgin’ premise as the author played the Christianity/religious card quite often in the early stages of the storyline. And as for the inexperienced virgin, all it took was one night of sex and our heroine could compete with the most experienced of lovers. Not quite believable but it is, after all, a story of fiction.

TURBULENT PASSION is a provocative storyline about two completely different people whose attraction to one another is intense and electric. There is a slight touch of BDSM (as the blurb explained) but it is secondary to the storyline and almost inconsequential to the overall premise. The storyline ends on a major cliffhanger, so beware, Turbulent Passion is the first in the series and ends with a heartbreaking and staggering final chapter.

Copy supplied by the author.


(Flyboy Trilogy #2)
by G.L. Ross
Release Date: September 16, 2014
Genre: adult, contemporary, romance, erotic / / Barnes and Noble /

Captain Lance Miller has finally discovered and captured the Goddess of his dreams. Life is everything he ever dreamt it could be and more. He is a Captain with International Air, Owner of an Italian Winery, and Master to his beautiful Miss Lisa Price. But, life can never be this good for very long, right?

Lance brought down his walls and shared his heart. He threw away his man-whore tendencies. He’s been faithful. Lance’s life should be fabulous and it is until he watches all of his dreams crash and burn in front of his horrified eyes.

Flight Attendant Lisa Price has found her Prince Charming; granted he is nothing like she imagined he would be. He is an egotistical playboy who is controlling, demanding, hypnotic, charming, plus downright desirable, gorgeous, and steamy hot! Who could ask for more?

Lisa’s Flyboy has introduced her to her wild, uninhibited side; a side that is eager to discover new adventures inside and outside the bedroom. Lisa’s life is unfolding in front of her beautifully, until she discovers a secret. A secret she desperately needs to share with Lance, but will fate allow her to reveal her secret to the only man who has ever truly owned her heart?

Continue Lance & Lisa’s Turbulent Passion, in Book Two of the Flyboy Trilogy:


REVIEW: BURNING DESIRE is the second instalment in G.L. Ross’s adult, contemporary, erotic romance Flyboy Trilogy focusing on the continuing relationship between airline captain Lance Miller and flight attendant Lisa Price. Burning Desire is not a stand alone novel and therefore the series must be read in order.

Told from several first person points of view, BURNING DESIRE picks up immediately on the cliffhanger from book one Turbulent Passion. Trying to avoid spoilers is difficult because Burning Desire’s entire premise focuses on the aftermath of a plane crash that has left our couple trying to recapture their love and their feelings for one another but it is difficult when there is nothing but the present. Lisa’s personality has been dramatically altered and in this, her character is, at times, difficult to like. Lance is determined to prove to Lisa that she is the love of his life but Lisa is determined to prove that she needs no one but herself. She doesn’t like Lance’s over protective nature and his need to control leaves something to be desired.

BURNING DESIRE focuses more on Lance and Lisa’s relationship. The secondary characters include Lisa’s parents, a few of their fellow co-workers as well as some new introductions to the storyline. The world building continues with the investigation into the crash and the after affects of a devastating loss.

If you are a fan of FSOG you will see many similarities between the Flyboy Trilogy and the number one best selling series. The Flyboy Series is about a man who loves a woman beyond reason but there are setbacks, anxious moments and a near loss of life that add to an already tumultuous relationship. And when the past comes roaring back, we will find Lisa and Lance facing another possible setback and loss. G.L. Ross takes the reader on a roller coaster of emotional highs and lows, as one couple struggles to overcome both the present and the past.

Copy supplied by the author.

Reviews by Sandy

About The Author beige

Follow: Goodreads / Website / Facebook/Twitter

g l rossG.L. Ross is a proud, sixth generation, native Texan. As a true Southern Belle, G.L. has always dreamt of the “happily ever after,” the prince riding in on the white horse sweeping her off her feet. She hasn’t found “Prince Charming” – yet (always an optimist) – but finds him every time she writes about her characters “happily ever after” endings.

Her motto in life is to “always find the good” in every person and situation. Whether through laughter, prayer, or a glass of wine or vodka, G.L. finds the good in life and shares her sense of humor, love, and adventure in her stories. Take flight with Lance & Lisa in Turbulent Passion, the first book in the Flyboy Trilogy.


The Frost Maiden’s Kiss (True Love Brides #3) by Claire Delacroix-Review and Interview with the Author

The Frost Maiden’s Kiss (True Love Brides #3) by Claire Delacroix-Review and Interview with the Author

The Frost Maiden's Kiss Banner

The Frost Maiden’s Kiss
True Love Brides #3
by Claire Delacroix
Genre: adult, paranormal, historical, romance
Release Date: June 15, 2014

The Frost Maiden's Kiss / / Barnes and Noble / KOBO / The Book Depository

About the book: Release Date June 15, 2014

She enchanted him with a kiss—but winning her love would demand all he possessed.

Disheartened by the challenge of a crumbling legacy, Malcolm left Scotland to earn his fortune as a mercenary. Eight years later, scarred by the realities of war, he returns with a fortune won at too high of a price and a companion even more hardened than he. Lured into the caverns beneath the keep, Malcolm trades his own soul for that of the companion who once saved his life, condemning himself to die in one year. Determined to leave a legacy of merit, Malcolm begins to rebuild the keep of Ravensmuir with all haste—though he has no heir.

After one night’s abuse, Catriona has no faith in the goodness of warriors. In the service of Lady Vivienne, she dreads an unexpected visit to the lady’s brother at Ravensmuir, for he is said to be a mercenary. But Malcolm challenges her expectations with his courtesy, his allure, his determination to save her child—and his unexpected proposal. Knowing it will ensure her child’s safety, Catriona dares to accept Malcolm’s hand. She soon realizes that this stalwart warrior fights a battle of his own, and that she holds the key to saving his soul. But as she descends into the ruins of old Ravensmuir in search of the truth, her own past is in hot pursuit, seeking to destroy all she holds dear—including the knight who has laid claim to her reluctant heart.


REVIEW: THE FROST MAIDEN’S KISS is the third instalment in Claire Delacroix’s (aka Deborah Cooke) medieval True Love Brides paranormal romance series. True Love Brides is a spinoff series from Claire’s Jewels of Kinfairlie series. This is Laird Malcolm Lammergeier of Ravensmuir and Catriona’s story. Although this is the third in the series, it can be read as a stand alone without too much difficulty.

As Malcolm returns home following eight years as a hired mercenary, the last thing he expects is to fall in love. He is a man who has destroyed many lives and believes his end is near. But a man needs a wife and an heir, and Catriona is the perfect woman to meet all of his demands. Malcolm owes a debt that must be paid on Mid-Summer’s Eve-a bargain with the Fae, promised with his life-and his new wife must uncover the truth behind the debt that is owed.

There is an immediate attraction between Malcolm and Catriona-one that is tempered by Catriona’s health and recent pregnancy. The romance develops through friendship, respect and their growing love for one another but Catriona’s past seeks revenge along with another band of mercenary’s set on taking the Ravensmuir Keep.

The secondary characters including Malcolm’s extended family and friends are colorful and add some mystery and suspense to the story. The paranormal aspect of the Fae is almost an afterthought to the main story but the Fae are always in the background wreaking havoc, causing mischief with a portent of things to come. A portion of the storyline is told through song and folk lore-a history of tales about the Fae that are a foreshadow of what is to come.

THE FROST MAIDEN’S KISS is a spirited and intimate tale of life, love and loss in the 1400’s; where two people will find their soul mate at a time when both will face a new direction in their lives. Claire Delacroix pulls the reader into a story of romance between a warrior and his maiden; a compelling and captivating tale with a happily ever after.

Copy supplied by the author.

Reviewed by Sandy


The True Love Bride Series:

1. The Renegade’s Heart
2. The Highlander’s Curse
3. The Frost Maiden’s Heart
4. The Warrior’s Prize


The Renegade’s Heart
True Love Brides #1
by Claire Delacroix
Genre: adult, paranormal, historical, romance
Release: May 2012 / / Barnes and Noble / KOBO / The Book Depository

The Renegade's HeartReleased from the captivity of the Fae, Murdoch Seton wants nothing more than to forget his lost years. Undertaking a quest to recover treasure stolen from his family seems the perfect solution – but Murdoch is not counting upon a curious maiden who holds both the secret to the theft and his sole redemption.

Isabella is outraged to find her brother’s keep besieged by a renegade knight – especially one who is too handsome for his own good or hers. After a single encounter, she becomes convinced that his cause is just and decides to unveil the true thief, never imagining that their single shared kiss has launched a battle for Murdoch’s very soul.

As the treacherous Fae move to claim Murdoch forever, Isabella seeks to heal the knight who has stolen her heart. But will Murdoch allow her to take a risk and endanger herself? Or will he sacrifice himself to ensure Isabella’s future?


REVIEW: THE RENEGADE’S HEART is the first instalment in Claire Delacroix’s paranormal True Love Brides historical romance series-a spin off from her Jewels of Kinfairlie series. This is Murdoch Seton and Isabella Lammergeier’s story.

The focus of the storyline finds Murdoch on the hunt for his family’s missing treasure. Murdoch believes the Lammergeier’s –a family of thieves and relic hunters- has reappropriated the treasure for their own coffers. What Murdoch did not expect to find is Isabella Lammergeier who offers to help Murdoch in the search for the missing treasure. Following three years as a captive of the Fae, Murdoch hopes to atone to his family before he must depart forever.

The attraction between Murdoch and Isabella is immediate but Murdoch knows his time is limited. The Queen of the Fae has demanded a payment for his return and Murdoch’s heart is in the hands of the Queen. The one sex scene is intimate, seductive and passionate.

THE RENEGADE’S HEART introduces a number of friends, family and extended family for both the Seton’s and the Lammergeier. Like many spin off series there is a history between the characters but you do not have to have read the previous series to understand the premise. Information from the other series and storylines is imparted where necessary.

Claire Delacroix blends a little bit of the paranormal with historical romance for an entertaining and compelling series. The world building pulls the reader into the 1400’s, medieval landscape of Scottish Highland wilderness and forests dotted with small villages and the people who tend the land.

If you are a fan of historical romance storylines, Claire’s TRUE LOVE BRIDES is a spirited series with mystery and suspense, a little bit of fantasy, and a beautiful setting that will take you away into another time and place.

Reviewed by Sandy

Interview blue:black

TRC: Hi Deborah and welcome back to The Reading Café. Congratulations on the release of THE FROST MAIDEN’S KISS

DeborahCooke_smDeborah: Thank you!

TRC: For anyone who does not know Deborah Cooke aka Claire Delacroix, would you please tell us something about yourself?

Follow: Goodreads/ Website/  Facebook-Deborah/  Facebook-Claire/

Deborah: I’ve been writing romance full time since 1992, when my first medieval romance was published under my pseudonym Claire Delacroix. Since then, I’ve published in a wide variety of sub-genres (medieval, contemporary, time travel, paranormal, fantasy, paranormal young adult and straight fantasy) under three different names, Claire Delacroix, Claire Cross and Deborah Cooke. My first book to land on the New York Times’ list of bestselling books was The Beauty, a medieval romance and part of my Bride Quest series. The Frost Maiden’s Kiss is a medieval romance with fantasy elements, the third book in my True Love Brides series and my 50th published book.

TRC: Who or what influenced your career in writing?

Deborah: I think the greatest influence upon my writing is that I’ve always been an avid reader. Reading has given me a love of stories and a respect for storytelling, so it’s only natural (in a way) that I always wanted to write and publish my own stories. As for my career as a writer, both editors and other writers have been the strongest influences there. That’s mostly because I was first published when it was difficult to correspond directly with readers. One of the really wonderful things about the current connectivity we have in the world is that it’s easy to keep in touch with lots of people, no matter where they live. I’ve built much stronger connections with my readers in recent years, and that’s become a bigger influence on my work.

TRC: When not writing, what do you do to relax?

Deborah: I knit a lot. I also read and work in my garden. Some years – like this one – the weeds win.

The Frost Maiden's KissTRC: THE FROST MAIDEN’S KISS is the latest release in your TRUE LOVE BRIDES medieval romance series written under the pen name Claire Delacroix. Would you please tell us something about the premise?

Deborah: This series is directly linked to my previous medieval series. The Jewels of Kinfairlie. There are eight siblings in that family, and only three had their stories told in that first trilogy. In The Beauty Bride, book #1 of the Jewels of Kinfairlie, the parents of the 8 siblings have died suddenly, leaving the oldest son heir far sooner than expected. Alexander inherits not only a lot of responsibility, but an empty treasury. He needs to see his sisters married quickly, but they aren’t very cooperative – and he doesn’t want to tell them about the finances of the holding. In desperation, and at the suggestion of his unconventional Aunt Rosamunde, he decides to auction the hand of the oldest sister in marriage, ensuring that only bachelors he sees as eligible are invited. The Beauty Bride is Madeline’s book – it’s not really a spoiler to tell you that Rosamunde intervenes and that love does indeed conquer all. The Rose Red Bride is Vivienne’s book, when Alexander tries to do better in arranging his second sister’s marriage. Then both sisters get even with Alexander in The Snow White Bride – he had arranged their marriages, so they arrange one for him. Of course, all three matches work out well.

I always wanted to return to Kinfairlie and tell the stories of the other siblings. I’d heard from readers for years that they wanted to known Elizabeth’s story in particular – she’s the youngest sibling and the one who can see the Fae. Her book, The Warrior’s Prize, will be published in December. Partly because of Elizabeth’s abilities, I’d also to explore the entanglements between the family at Kinfairlie and the Fae. It’s mentioned early in the Jewels of Kinfairlie series that there’s a portal between the realm of the Fae and Kinfairlie. Things are changing in the mortal world, and the idea behind the True Love Brides series is that the portal between the Fae and Kinfairlie can be closed forever if these four siblings marry for true love. The Renegade’s Heart was the first in the series and Isabella’s book, in which she saved Murdoch from the Elphine Queen. The Highlander’s Curse was Annelise’s book and the second in the series, in which Annelise helped Garrett master the curse (or gift) given to him by the Fae. This new release, The Frost Maiden’s Kiss, is Malcolm’s book, and book #3. Malcolm has returned to Ravenmuir, the sister estate of Kinfairlie which is his legacy, after earning his fortune as a mercenary. He’s scarred by what he has done for the coin, and accompanied by a fellow mercenary, Rafael. When Rafael steps into the Fae circle to dance and risks having his soul claimed as the Fae tithe to Hell, Malcolm offers his own soul instead. He has six months before his soul is claimed, in which he is determined to leave a mark for good in the world. He isn’t expecting to meet Catriona, a bold serving woman in the employ of his sister, much less that Catriona will both give him new hope and save him from the price he’s promised to pay. Book #4, coming in December, The Warrior’s Prize, is Elizabeth’s book and is the tale in which Rafael redeems himself (or maybe love redeems him). The eighth sibling, Ross, will have to wait a bit longer for his story to be told!

Both of these series are also connected to my Rogues of Ravensmuir trilogy, although there’s a generation between the two groups of characters. In fact, the Kinfairlie siblings are mentioned in the last scene of The Warrior, which is what started the whole thing.

True Love Brides

TRC: How many books do you have planned for the series?

Deborah: Ah, I just answered that. 🙂 The last sibling, Ross, has been sent to train with his uncle at Inverfyre, though, and that uncle (the Hawk of Inverfyre, whose story is told in The Warrior) has five children with his wife Aileen. I’m thinking that there will be another series following Ross and at least some of those five siblings, set in the Highlands, but am
taking a break from Kinfairlie after The Warrior’s Prize to work on another medieval romance series, one that isn’t linked to anything but itself.

TRC: What challenges or difficulties (research, logistics, background) did you encounter writing this particular story and series?

Deborah: Well, there’s always something, but the answer always appears eventually. Sometimes I just have to think about the story in another way. For example, stories that people tell each other (fairy tales or folk tales) are often a big element in my books. I’m working on The Warrior’s Prize now and was searching for stories that Rafael’s grandmother might have told him while he was growing up in Spain. I have a lot of sources of vernacular stories from Scotland and more medieval ones from France, but without being able to read Spanish, this seemed a bit daunting. I finally remembered, however, that the poem of El Cid was hugely popular in medieval Spain, and of course, that I have a copy of it in translation. This story of a knight who built his fortune as a hired warrior, as well as the multiple choices he had to make in terms of alliance in Spain during the Reconquista, is exactly the kind of story that Rafael would find compelling. Elizabeth finds it somewhat less compelling when he shares it with her 🙂 but then, the telling does reveal a good bit of his character to her.

TRC: Have you considered a novella or spin off for any of the secondary characters?

Deborah: I did write a short story about Rosamunde, the aunt of the siblings who was trapped in the realm of the Fae in The Rose Red Bride. It’s called The Ballad of Rosamunde and appeared in the Mammoth Book of Irish Romance.It’s available on its own in a digital edition, and is bundled into the new trade paperback of The Snow White Bride.

I tend not to write short, so have written few novellas and short stories over the years. There also has been less opportunity to publish shorter works in the romance genre, at least before digital-first. I’ve recently pulled together a number of my previously published shorts in a collection called Beguiled, partly to have them available to readers again. (Some of the original publications were out of print.)

This market does skew hard toward shorter works, though, so that’s something I’m considering for the future.

Dragonfire Series

TRC: The romance and relationship aspect (The Firestorm) of the Dragonfire series appears to have taken a bit of a back seat in the recent storylines. The premise concentrates more on the war with Chen and the return of the ancient Dragons. Was this move away from the romance arc intentional? If so, why?

Deborah: Well, I don’t really see the book that way. Thorolf’s HEA required him to fulfill his destiny. His role in the battle against the Slayers, and his personal dispute with Chen, is part of his character’s development and also part of his firestorm because it keys into his conflict with Chandra. He had to reach for his full potential for his firestorm to succeed.

One of the challenges in writing a long linked series is striking the balance between the next block in the overall story arc of the series and the story of the individual romance in each book. There’s also the balance between keeping the focus on the two main protagonists and allowing the reader to catch up with other continuing characters from the series. Dragonfire was also intended to have a strong overall story arc, following the progress of the Pyr’s final battle with the Slayers, and each book, while a romance was intended to provide the next block in the overall story. As we get to the end of the series, the war needs to come to its resolution. Although I wanted to write a long series (from the outset, Dragonfire was intended to be 10 or 12 books in length – it will be 11) these balances are becoming more tricky as the individual characters and their roles are more developed. So, we need more detail and more story (and more cameos) while keeping the pacing quick. The really challenging part of this is that every reader, writer and editor will strike those balances at different points, because we each have things we want to see happen in the story and favourite characters we want to revisit.

That’s the short answer. Now we’ll have the long one!

When I started to write romance, there was a tremendous amount of diversity in the genre. I believe this is why it was such a vital genre in the 80’s and 90’s. All books make the transition from idea to product as they move through the publishing process, but there was more room for alternative views in those days. In the last ten years, though, market expectations have tightened and the market itself has shrunk. There has become less room for diversity in the structure and writing of books, and as a result, less diversity in the marketplace. For example, by 2005, the vast majority of books in the romance section were either vampire romances or sexy Regencies, told in third person point of view. This was because these two niches had been selling well, so publishers wanted to focus on success. I believe this focus and resulting lack of diversity accelerated the shrinking of the book market – no matter how much any given reader enjoyed either or both of these sub genres, diversity had kept the market vital. When there’s less diversity, the books all start to seem the same.

When KDP launched and authors could publish their books by themselves, there was a big change in the marketplace. The digital market was incredibly vital, right from the outset, and much of that original spurt of growth came from books that authors hadn’t been able to place with traditional publishers. Many of these books were radically different from what had become the norm, in terms of structure, genre (often they were hybrid genre), voice, setting and niche. I believe that the enthusiastic response from readers to these digital releases was a reaction, that readers were excited to again see diversity in the genres they loved. For example, medieval romance was said to be “dead” by 2005 and it was nearly impossible to place works with that setting with traditional publishers, yet in 2011, medieval romance, Scottish romance and Viking romance (two other “dead” categories) were added as new BISAC categories, based on the volume of published titles. I suspect this is primarily due to digital-first publishing.

So, if we look at books as products – because they are – we have to acknowledge that marketing books requires that they be “the same but different”. Readers have expectations of a book, based on the author or the sub genre, and the trick is to satisfy those expectations without the book being predictable or dull. On the continuum between complete predictability and radical innovation, every reader and editor has a comfort point, probably somewhere near the middle. It is typical for publishers to believe that genre fiction readers want more predictability in the books they read, while readers of literary fiction are open to more innovation. This may be true. The thing is that in the past ten years, commercial fiction books have been steadily edged toward the predictable ( or “safe”) end of the continuum, to the point that there is a very firm notion of how stories in sub-genre X should be told.

As a writer, I never want to tell the same story twice. I never want to tell a story the same way as another story I’ve told. I like to mix things up and change things around, to look at romance, love and even firestorms from different angles. I like to give my readers a new adventure each time, albeit with some consistent elements. The interesting thing is that my editors are always excited about these ideas – they make each proposal “fresh” – yet as any given book has moved through the editorial process in the last decade, there has turned out to be no room for those ideas in the established form that the publisher is convinced the book should take. A good example of this was Ember’s Kiss: it was originally intended to feature a double romance, the firestorm between Brandon and Liz, and the firestorm (in the past) between Brandon’s parents. I thought this would be awesome and my editor agreed. The problem was that there was very little room for that in the book and most of the parents’ storyline was cut or never even written in the first place. While I like the book, I also was sad that the original idea never came to fruition. I also finally understood something an editor said to me a long time ago – in 1997, I sold three medieval romances to Dell, and the acquiring editor was the same one who had found my first book manuscript in the slush at Harlequin years before. She left Dell before the first book was delivered there, and it was edited by another editor. I sent the acquiring editor a copy of The Princess when it was subsequently published. She thanked me, but said that she still preferred my original idea for the story. There had been a lot of editorial changes made to the book during the editorial process, but I believed I was learning something about making my book better. I was learning something, to be sure, and I still like that book a lot, but when Ember’s Kiss was published, I more clearly understood what that editor had meant.

And so back to Serpent’s Kiss. I knew that Thorolf’s book would be different, from the moment he stepped on the page. I wanted him to develop more as a character during the books before his own firestorm, but that straying from the romance of those earlier books was not to be because it required making those books “too different”. In the end, I wanted to tell Thorolf’s story the way I saw it, and so I ensured that I was able to do so. Sloane’s book will also differ from the established pattern of Dragonfire, because that’s what is necessary to complete the series. I understand that every time one of the Pyr has to contribute more to the overall mission, some readers think his firestorm is too short, so it is likely that Firestorm Forever will be a longer book. The trick is ensuring that we don’t lose the pacing that characterizes the series so far. There will be multiple firestorms in Firestorm Forever, because that’s what will make that book distinct from the others. The challenge to me is to ensure that readers are satisfied with the balance struck in the book. It is likely that some will not be.

TRC: What are your thoughts on writing a series and ending an instalment with a major cliff hanger?

Deborah: As a reader, I’m not a fan of cliffhangers. I always feel a bit cheated. As a writer, I can appreciate how a cliffhanger increases suspense. I think it’s a technique that is used best in serializations, in which it’s clear to the reader that each instalment is part of a whole and not a complete story in itself. In a way, it’s like comparing an ongoing television series with a movie: in a television series, there are always threads left dangling, and the season often ends with a powerful dramatic hook to ensure that viewer tunes in for the subsequent season. In a way, that cliffhanger is part of their expectation because of the structure of the show. A movie, though, usually ties up all the loose ends in two hours or less, and there’s something very satisfactory about the tidiness of that. You can be in the mood for one or the other, but it’s best to know what you’re getting into ahead of time.

TRC: When writing a storyline, do the characters direct the writing or do you direct the characters?

Deborah: I always start with a plan for the story and a sketch of the characters. It feels quite stiff to me until the characters take a breath and step into the story. There’s a moment when they become fully fleshed and real to me, and that’s often the point at which they change the story to suit themselves. They’re inevitably right about these changes, so I’m always waiting for that moment.

TRC: The mark of a good writer is to pull the reader into the storyline so that they experience the emotions along with the characters. What do you believe a writer must do to make this happen? Where do you believe writers fail in this endeavour?

Deborah: In romance, I think the use of deep point-of-view is key to creating that bond with the reader and putting him or her “in the story”. It’s interesting that many romance readers are resistant to the use of first person POV in a book, as it’s a particularly powerful way to do that, but even in 3rd person, that connection can be made.

TRC: Writer’s Block is a very real phenomenon. How do you handle the pressures and anxiety of writer’s block?

Deborah: I suspect that writer’s block is a choice, albeit one made at a very deep (often subconscious) level. It’s frequently the result of criticism of the author’s work and the doubt that criticism creates. The thing is that if it’s a choice, in some way, the writer can choose differently. That’s not easily done, depending upon the size of the scar responsible, but the rhythm of writing on a regular schedule is a very good antidote to the doubts and excuses that keep authors from writing. I’m a fan of The Artist’s Way, as the exercises there can help a writer (or any creative person) move beyond writer’s block and choose to create again.

TRC:Many authors bounce ideas and information with other authors or friends and family. With whom do you bounce ideas?

Deborah: This probably makes me sound cranky, but I think that writing is a solitary occupation and should be the unique expression of the writer. Making it into a social exchange or a group effort – which can be the result of a critique group – often diminishes the work and takes away what makes it unique, even when critique partners are trying to be helpful. We all see stories in different ways, and our perception of the “the best” way to tell it is very personal. Although critique partners are usually well-intentioned, work that has been through that process is often so polished that the author’s individual voice is hard to discern. I think writers need to start with their own clear vision of the work and the strongest expression of their voice, for better or for worse, so that they can defend their choices in the editorial process. There’s an old post on my blog about this, called Perfume.

TRC: What three things would you like to accomplish in the next five years?

Deborah: I’d like to work fewer hours – not on the writing, because I love writing every day, but on the administrivia end of things. I always seem to have a huge To Do list, but I’m hoping to pass a threshold in 2015.

I’d like to finish up several hundred odd jobs in my house, which create another huge To Do list. I’m not sure that one will ever be done – it’s the nature of old houses to need something to be redone every 10 or 15 years, so we’ll probably get done in time to start over again.

I’d like to have one day in which there are absolutely no weeds in my garden. (Winter doesn’t count.)

TRC: What is something that few, if any people, know about you?

Deborah: After 20 years of doing author interviews, I doubt there are many secrets left! Hmmm. I like vanilla better than chocolate.

the Warrior's PrizeTRC: On what are you currently working?

Deborah: As mentioned, I’m working on Elizabeth’s book, The Warrior’s Prize, and also outlining Firestorm Forever, which is Sloane’s book and Dragonfire #11. I have a number of other projects in development which will be published in 2015.

TRC: Thank you Deborah for taking the time to answer our questions. Congratulations on all of your success.

Deborah: Thanks so much for inviting me to visit, Sandy, and for the interview! Happy reading!