Going for the Goal (The Perfect Play #3) by Sara Rider-Review, Guest Post & Giveaway

GOING FOR THE GOAL (The Perfect Play #3) by Sara Rider-Review, Guest Post & Giveaway

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Perfect Play #3
by Sara Rider
Release Date: February 13, 2017
Genre: adult, contemporary, erotic, romance, hockey

going for the Goal

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ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date February 13, 2017

Sara Rider returns with the third book in the Perfect Play series—a fast-paced, icy hot romance featuring a sports agent fighting an attraction to the NHL’s bad boy…and his ability to melt her heart.

In this perfect book for romance and sports fans, professional sports agent Jillian Nichols knows how to play the game to get what she wants. But admitting to what she needs has always been a challenge. Will she ever let her guard down long enough to let someone in? Or will the bad boy hockey player Nick “the Punisher” Salinger have to fight harder than ever for a chance to win her heart?


REVIEW: GOING FOR THE GOAL is the third installment in Sara Rider’s adult, contemporary THE PERFECT PLAY erotic, romance series. This is professional hockey play/enforcer Nick ‘The Punisher’ Salinger, and sports agent Jillian Nichols’s story line. GOING FOR THE GOAL can be read as a stand alone without any difficulty. Any important information from previous story line is revealed where necessary. The reader was first introduced to our heroine in book two-Keeping Score.

Told from dual third person perspectives (Jillian and Nick) GOING FOR THE GOAL follows the personal and professional relationship between NHL enforcer Nick Salinger, and sports agent Jillian Nichols. Eight year earlier both Nick and Jillian were newbies in the world of sports: she an intern with an agent whose reputation as a misogynistic pig pushed Jillian to hand in her resignation; and he a rookie hockey player who spoke more with his fists than anything else. Fast forward to present day wherein Nick Salinger needs a new agent but Jillian Nichols refuses to accept any clients whose attitudes match the infamous Nick Salinger. When a disastrous fight with a teammate almost destroys Nick’s career, Jillian remains steadfast in her refusal to accept Nick as a client until the truth about what happened is finally revealed. What ensues is a campaign to rival all others as Jillian struggles to clean up Nick’s reputation while her own slowly begins to unravel and fall apart.

The relationship between our couple begins acrimoniously. Nick’s reputation as a fighter pushes all of Jillian’s buttons but neither Jillian or Nick has ever forgotten about their first meeting and the possibility of what never was. Jillian struggles to be accepted into a career dominated by the male of the species and with it comes the sexist attitudes of those who think themselves better than everyone else. The sex scenes are seductive, intimate and intense.

We are introduced to several members of the NHL’s New York Vipers including rookie Sebastian Liakos and his fiancée Alexa Whittaker , captain and goalie Mike Lambert, left wing Luke Anderson, and an assortment of coaches, trainers and team owner John Whittaker ; Nick’s younger brother Ben-a high school teacher and struggling actor; as well as Jillian’s former mentor Lou Parsons who sets out to destroy Jillian’s career. Soccer player Jaime Chen (Keeping Score) has a couple of cameo appearances throughout the story.

GOING FOR THE GOAL is a story of betrayal and revenge; romance and love; second chances and happily ever afters. The premise is lively and inspiring; the characters are dynamic and heartwarming; the romance is captivating and passionate. GOING FOR THE GOAL is a fascinating story line with a few twists and turns to the conflict resolution.

Copy supplied by the publisher through Netgalley

Reviewed by Sandy

Guest Post-Black and Blue

Researching and developing the story line content —Sara Rider

When I first started writing the Perfect Play series, I didn’t intend to write about Jillian Nichols, the heroine of Going for the Goal. But after she made her appearance in Keeping Score as the agent fighting tirelessly for her underdog client Jaime Chen, it became clear to me that she had her own story to tell. I just wasn’t entirely sure what that story was.

To date, Going for the Goal is the book that required by far the most research. For the other novels in the series, I was able to draw on a lot of different real-life inspirations for storylines and character development. Writing about a female sports agent, however, didn’t come with a clear set of instructions. With the exception of Amelia Slater on the TV show Pitch, which didn’t air until after I’d written the book, there hasn’t been a lot of female sports agents featured in the media. For most people, Jerry Maguire remains the quintessential, and likely only, touchstone of sports agents. But Jerry Maguire’s brash personality and riches-to-rags story didn’t resonate with Jillian’s ambitious but earnest character.

Instead of starting with a plot idea like I usually do, I started with a fundamental piece of characterization. When Jillian first popped into my head, she came with a very clear and strict set of rules for herself, much like many other women who’ve had to work twice as hard to prove themselves in male-dominated industries:
1. Never work with arrogant jerks; 2. Never work with people you don’t trust; and, 3. Never, ever work with someone you’ve pictured naked. So naturally, when I was coming up with a love interest, it had to be someone who broke every single one of these rules. That’s where Nick Salinger comes in. The bad boy enforcer of the New York Vipers walks into her office on the heels of a scandal and demands she take him on as a client. The big question, of course, was why. Any agent could negotiate a trade deal or a salary increase, so why did this big, troublesome star want an agent with an unconventional practice to represent him?

The answer is that he wanted someone who could pull off the impossible: negotiate a deal to stay with a team who desperately wants him gone. Unfortunately, this meant I needed a crash course in NHL trade regulations and negotiation tactics. I’ve always been a casual hockey fan, but this required a heck of a lot more effort than putting on my Jets jersey and cheering on my team from my living room couch. I ended up spending endless hours talking to family and friends who self-identify as hockey fanatics, and scouring the Internet for resources. Anonymous agent blogs detailing the dark underside of the profession, profiles of the difficulties faced by female agents, and course listings for sports management programs were invaluable in developing the story and the various sub-plots in the book.

Ultimately, it was the forceful personalities of Jillian and Nick that helped me piece together the plot. Both are intensely stubborn people who are so used to taking care of others that they struggle with the idea of falling in love with someone equally bull-headed and devoted. In the end, flipping from a plot-first to a character-first approach to writing was a fun challenge that still allowed me explore a unique storyline. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!


About The Author Black and Blue

Sara RiderYou can follow Sara at : Website / Goodreads/ Twitter/

Sara Rider writes contemporary romances full of heart and heat about strong heroines and the men who can’t resist them. Growing up, Sara dreamed of becoming a professional soccer player. When that dream was squashed by her extreme dislike of running, she decided to do the next best thing: write about professional soccer players. By day, Sara spends her time working in the field of research ethics and daydreams about plotlines and character arcs. She spends far too much time at public libraries and never leaves the house without a paperback or an e-reader stuffed into her purse.

Giveaway-Black and Deep Blue

Sara’s publisher is graciously offering an ebook copy of GOING FOR THE GOAL to ONE (1) lucky commenter at The Reading Cafe.

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Simon and Schuster


Dare to Lie by Jen McLaughlin – Review, Guest Post & Giveaway

Dare to Lie by Jen McLaughlin – Review, Guest Post & Giveaway


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Dare to Lie
Sons of Steel Row series – Book #3
by Jen McLaughlin
Release Date: February 7, 2017

Dare to LieAmazon / B&N / Kobo / BAM / Book Depository

As an undercover DEA agent in the most powerful gang in Boston, Scott Donahue accepts the risks of living a double life. But when Tate Donovan, leader of the Sons of Steel Row, assigns Scotty to take his place in a bachelor’s auction sponsored by his sister’s sorority, he’s exposed to a whole new level of danger. Even though Tate makes it very clear—Skylar is off limits—the second Scotty sees her, he’s a goner. But how does he tell Sky she’s falling for a man who doesn’t exist?

Sky can’t resist Scotty’s cool confidence or the raw, edgy power oozing from his perfect body. She’s always been the good girl, but he brings out the bad in her. And even though she knows so little about who he really is, Sky’s willing to take the biggest risk of all. But putting her heart on the line is no guarantee that Scotty won’t slip through her fingers…



Dare to Lie by Jen McLaughlin is the 3rd book in her Sons of Steel Row series. As noted in my previous reviews, I love this series; as it has everything you would want in a romance suspense.  Dare to Lie grabs your attention from the start and doesn’t let go until the very end.  The story is action packed, exciting, and a great couple, with sizzling hot chemistry.  I also loved the epilogue at end.  Thank you, Jen McLaughlin for another wonderful story in your Sons of Steel Row series. 

We have been following Scotty Donahue since the first book, which revolved around our then hero and Scotty’s brother, Lucas.  We have all been waiting for Scotty’s story, knowing that his life was hanging by thread, since he was an undercover agent for the DEA.

Skylar Daniels, our heroine, is the sister of Tate, the leader of the Sons of Steel Row gang. She is in medical school, and her brother helps support her; but Skylar knows nothing about Sons of Steel Row.  Scotty has been assigned to replace Tate at a charity event , which was run by Skylar.  Almost immediately, you can see the sparks flash between them, but Scotty wants nothing to do with his boss’s sister, as he was already warned to keep his hands off her.  Skylar felt the attraction right away, and during the auction, she won a bid for dinner with Scotty, which started off badly, as he was very rude.  But the chemistry between them had sparks flying off the wall, and soon both of them would act on their lust for each other. Scotty doesn’t see himself in any kind of long term relationship, since he feels he isn’t a good man, and his life would put anyone close to him in danger. 

What follows is an exciting adventure of gang land wars that was very suspenseful; I could not put the book down.  A rival gang has been attacking Scotty, Chris (previous book hero), and killing off some of the gang members.  Scotty will work behind the scenes with the DEA to help them capture the rival gang.  When the war escalates to attacks against the women/family of Sons of Steel Row members, an all out bloody war ensues, which also puts Skylar’s life in danger and Tate finding out about the relationship between his sister and Scotty.   Scotty must put aside his feelings for Skylar to not only protect her, but Lucas, Heidi, Chris & Molly, too.  Will Skylar & Scotty find away to stay together?  Will Scotty survive his double life?

Skylar was such a great heroine, being smart, savvy, tough, independent and stubborn.  Scotty was pretty great too, but his life was filled with so many secrets and living a double life, which put him at risk always. In reality, I can see why Tate did not want Scotty to have anything to do with his sister.  Dare to Lie was another wonderful exciting and romantic story in this fabulous series.  I suggest you start this series with the first book, Dare to Run, and enjoy the writing of Jen McLaughlin.

Reviewed by Barb

Copy provided by Publisher


Guest Post

Sons of Steel Row

Hello, everyone! Thank you for having me here today! I’m Jen McLaughlin (though I also write as Diane Alberts) and I’m here today to talk about books, antiheroes, heroes, and the challenges all those things represent. My latest book, DARE TO LIE, is the third book in the Sons of Steel Row series. The series itself revolves around a gang in Boston that sells guns illegally, and the heroes in the books are anything but hero material. They’re liars. Killers. Criminals.

Yet we all fall for them anyway.

Everyone has their favorite type of books or heroes to write, and I have to say, writing the Sons of Steel Row guys has been one of my favorite moments in my writing career. It’s easy writing heroes who are likeable when they’re…well…likeable. But to take men who are criminals, men who kill for a living, and somehow turn them into characters that a reader not only will root for, but will fall in love with? Yeah, that’s frigging amazing.

And a huge challenge.

A challenge I (gladly) accepted. I thought it would be fun to look at the three heroes in the Sons of Steel Row series, and to talk a little bit about the challenges they represented.

Our first hero, Lucas Donahue, is fresh out of jail, and looking to mind his own business in DARE TO RUN. No one else is doing the same, though, and it’s not long until we find out he has a price on his head. I think the hardest part about writing Lucas was his undying loyalty to his family—aka his brother, Scotty. No matter what happens, or who tried to kill him, he refused to turn his back on his brother, and for a guy who killed for a living, this was hard to portray at times.

Then our second hero…ah, our second hero. DARE TO STAY with Chris O’Brien. It’s hard to say why he was such a challenge without creating spoilers for people who haven’t yet read the series, but the biggest challenge with him was making readers like him. Everyone went into this book hating him, and fully prepared to continue doing so, but by the time they finished the book, a lot of readers wrote me and told me he was their favorite hero—above even Lucas. I could easily say that he was my biggest challenge ever, and he’s my favorite, too.

Last, we have Scotty Donahue, in DARE TO LIE. Oh, Scotty is and always has been more of a hero than an antihero like the other two men in this series. He’s got a good heart, despite his actions, and this has never been a secret. The biggest challenge with him was making him toe the line between both of his worlds (again, no spoilers!) without ever having him wonder if he was doing the right thing in his one world. His faith in himself and his cause had to be one hundred percent true and real, and he couldn’t afford to slip up.

Is there a certain type of hero that you love to read about, that no matter how many times you’ve read a book with this type of hero, you can’t resist picking up another, and getting sucked into the story of how he becomes who he is meant to be, with the help of a heroine you can’t help but envy?

For me, it’s the bad boy with a golden heart that’s buried way, way, way deep down, under lots of armor and weaponry. I just can’t get enough of them, and watching them soften.




Jen’s publisher is offering a paper copy of DARE TO LIE to ONE (1) lucky commenter at The Reading Cafe

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Highland Vixen (Highland Weddings #2) by Mary Wine-Review, Excerpt & Giveaway

Highland Vixen (Highland Weddings #2) by Mary Wine-Review, Excerpt & Giveaway

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Highland Weddings #2
by Mary Wine
Release Date:February 7, 2017
Genre: adult, historical, Highland, romance

Highland Vixen

Amazon.com / Amazon.ca / Books-A-Million / Barnes & Noble / Chapters /Indiebound

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date February 7 , 2017

Fierce Highland war chief seeks comely lass for fun, frolic, and marriage

Marcus MacPherson is every inch the fearsome Highlander. He’s used to men averting their eyes and women cowering before him. He thinks he’ll eventually settle down with a nice, obedient bride. Instead, he gets Helen Grant… Stubborn as the day is long, fearless and dedicated to raising as much hell as possible, Helen is definitely going to challenge Marcus. And challenge him some more. And then some.

It’s anyone’s guess who’ll win this battle of the heart..


REVIEW: 5 out of 5 for this reader folks!

Another fantastic Highland read by Mary Wine! LOVE LOVE LOVE! 🙂

Highland Vixen by Mary Wine is the second book in her “Highland Weddings” series and it sure lives up to its name. Vixen indeed! We met our leading characters in the previous book of this series called “Highland Spitfire” and while I suppose it is not necessary to read the first book you would miss out on so much back story, which in my opinion makes this book so good as the story continues on! Besides, there are returning characters in Highland Vixen, and I love reading how characters progress in a series after they get their HEA! 🙂

Marcus MacPherson is one studly, “don’t mess with me!”, fierce, scary , hot badass Highlander. He is the war chief of the MacPherson clan, second to his half brother (who happens to be the lead in the first book). He doesn’t mess around, and icky love stuff is the furthest from his mind .. despite the little vixen lass that resides as a “protected prisoner” of sorts in his castle.

Helen Grant is our vixen. She is fierce and bold, smart and very angry at her current living situation. While she has shared a steamy moment with Marcus, Marcus won’t claim her as his, but won’t allow another to step forward safely either. She is at her wits end and only wants to return to her home (which Marcus has threatened to burn if she leave MacPherson land).

Circumstance allows Helen to sneak away, but not without Marcus hot on her trail. When trouble comes about for Marcus, Helen agrees to marry Marcus, but NOT consummate the marriage so she can get an annulment once danger passes. Well Marcus is having none of that and despite the danger that comes knocking and threatens to take all he stands for, he has decided he is keeping Helen married to him at all costs! He is going to consummate this marriage one way or another and keep her forever.

YES, this is as steamy, perfectly angsty with a side of sass as it sounds! I love my Highland men all fierce and demanding, but deeply kind and protective, like Marcus … and my Highland woman full of attitude and courage, yet seriously lovely underneath like Helen. They are a perfect compliment to the other. Mary Wine really weaves some serious SOB villains as well! Ones that give you the creeps deep to your soul. You can almost smell their evil.

This is a perfect love story that carries an adventure that one would expect to find in a really fantastic Highlander story. If you love a good back and forth match between two well written characters then I highly recommend this book. The story line and side characters are a very decadent cherry on this perfect Highland sundae! LOL


Reviewed by Rachel

Copy supplied by the publisher




“I did nae have me hands on ye at all, lass,” he responded arrogantly. “And I owe me sire a wee bit of an apology for me thinking last evening because his advice is sound.”
She rolled over and over and right off the edge of the huge bed, but her knees were shaky, so she stumbled, grasping one of the posts that held the bed curtains. Marcus was watching her, his grin widening as he took in his effect on her. He was wearing nothing but his shirt, and his member was sticking out in the front of it.
He’d lulled her into a false sense of ease. She realized he was every bit as menacing as ever and had simply waited for his moment to pounce on her.
“Do nae look at me like that, Helen.” Marcus sat up on the side of the bed and watched her move away. “Ye told me yer maidenhead was the only thing ye have left that is yer own, so I pleasured ye without taking it. Is it so hard to think of me as a man who does nae want to act the brute to ye?” He patted the surface of the bed. “I want ye to choose me.”
Did she dare?
Dare was certainly the correct word. He was looking at her, every inch the hardened man she’d faced time and again, and yet there was much more to him now. He was attempting to push inside her, to that place where no one had ever been, to her deepest feelings. However, he was offering her a glimpse at his own in return.
Such a tangle of possibilities.
She looked at the pile of clothing that she’d left on the bench, caught between the need to maintain her pride and the desire to simply let it go in favor of… Well, she wasn’t sure what exactly she’d find in his bed. She ended up looking back toward him, seeking the answer in his eyes.
“Naught to say?” he asked. “There is a first.”
“Oh, for Christ’s sake,” she exclaimed with her hip roll half laced. “There was a time when I knew how to speak kindly. Why do ye needle me until I can nae hold me tongue?”
He flashed her an arrogant grin. “Because I like ye the way ye are, no’ disguising yer nature to appease everyone about ye. Do ye have any idea how long it has been since a lass was honest with me? Since one came to me seeking me, and no’ me position? Ye are not the only one who feels isolated. As War Chief, I must be hard on the young lads, lest they fail to build up enough strength to survive. Smiling at them would be a disservice.”
Sometime during the night, he’d taken the time to pleat his kilt on a table that ran along the side of the bedchamber. His wide belt was already under it. It took only a moment for him to lean back, grasp the sides of the belt, and pull it all around himself. Most men used the floor, but clearly Marcus wanted to be ready, should there be a need to dress in a hurry during the night.
“It fell to me to either take ye or know without a doubt that I’d be sending me own men up against yer brothers because they refused to admit the cattle were ours.” He was buckling a second belt in place to make sure his kilt was secure. “Ye think I enjoyed it?”
“Yes, ye did,” she answered him. “Somewhat, anyhow. Admit it. Yer nature is suited to yer position.”
He offered her a cocky grin. “If ye’ll match me by admitting ye did nae think to notice I do nae always care for what me duty demands of me. That’s the thing about duty. Ye do it because it needs doing and others depend on ye seeing things through.”
“Fairly spoken,” she said softly while pulling her skirts over her head. The waistband caught on her hip roll, and she began to lace the waistband closed. “Ye are no’ a brute.” His smile was widening with victory. “But swine fits well, for ye knew well ye were twisting words last evening to get me into yer bed.”
He chuckled and opened his arms wide. “Taming a vixen requires cunning.”
Helen felt her temper stir at the use of the word taming.



Guest Post=Black and Red

For me, research is a two part thing. First off is doing the ‘foot work’ so to speak. That’s the researching. You either know that Elizabeth the first was born in 1533 or you don’t. If you intend to set your story in that era, this is information you need to know. Her mother was beheaded and if you want to go deeper, you learn things such as she was given the mercy of a French swordsman for her execution because the ax was often clumsy. Deeper still and you discover that some of the dates she was accused of having adultery were during her lying in, so completely false as her ladies would have been with her.

That’s part one. The dates, the circumstances. I actually love this stuff because for me, after I absorb the dry facts, I start to think about things like…okay, if there was a young daughter attending court, and in service to queen Elizabeth, what would her duties have been? What exactly was a lady in waiting. I would then learn that Elizabeth had ladies of the Bed chamber, of the presence chamber, and one the list goes. The duchess of Norfolk slept on a trundle bed that came out from beneath Elizabeth’s because that’s how close together they lived.

I like to take it all in and craft a book set in the era. Yes, it’s a fantasy story but I want my characters to be people of the time.

A second part of this is something I have done my entire life and that is historical re-enactment. I make the clothing and wear it. I take sword class. Dances that would have been done in Elizabeth’s court? Yes, I know a few. It’s also the little things, like turning bread on a table and trying….grrr….to bake it in an oven that you have to heat up with coals and no yeast during Elizabeth’s era. You learn to hum a tune because there is no music or make sure you are by the fire at night when someone pulls out an instrument.

I love to find little ways to fold all these details into my stories while still letting my charaters fall in love. It’s a challenge and a fun one.

Mary Wine

About The Author Black and Red

Mary WineAcclaimed author Mary Wine has written over 30 works of Scottish Highland romance, romantic suspense and erotic romance. An avid history-buff and historical costumer, she and her family enjoy participating in historical reenactments. Mary lives in Yorba Linda, California with her husband and two sons. Website | Goodreads | Facebook



Mary’s publisher is graciously offering a paper copy of HIGHLAND VIXEN to ONE (1) lucky commenter  at The Reading Cafe

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9.. Giveaway runs from February 7-11, 2017


Somebody Like You by Donna Alward – Review, Guest Post, Tour & Giveaway

Somebody Like You by Donna Alward – Review, Guest Post & Giveaway


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Somebody Like YouAmazon / B&N / Kobo / BAM / Book Depository

A kiss to last a lifetime

Aiden Gallagher was only five years old when he appeared in a photograph on the Kissing Bridge. The town of Darling, Vermont, has used Aiden’s image on the famed bridge—local legend has it that a kiss there results in everlasting love—as part of its tourism campaign. Now, twenty years later, Aiden is asked to recreate the moment with the woman he once kissed: Laurel Stone.

Recently divorced, there’s nothing Laurel wants less than to pretend happily-ever-after with Aiden. As teenagers, their romance was no fairy tale—and Laurel has never quite forgiven Aiden for breaking her heart. But now that she is back in her hometown, and keeps bumping into police officer Aiden, Laurel can’t deny that there’s still a strong flicker between her and her old flame. Could it be that the Kissing Bridge is working its magic on Laurel and Aiden—and that all true love ever needed was a second chance?




Somebody Like You by Donna Alward is the first book in her new Darling, VT series.  This was my first book by Donna Alward, and after finishing this story, it will not be my last.  I really enjoyed Somebody Like You.  This was a sweet pure romance, with a great couple, wonderful characters, within a nice small town atmosphere. 

Laurel Stone returns home to Darling, VT after her divorce. She is starting life anew by purchasing the local gardening store, and has sworn off men.  When her store is vandalized, she comes face to face with her high school crush, Aiden Gallagher, who is now a cop.  Aiden broke Laurel’s heart in high school, and she has never forgotten or forgiven him.  Aiden tries to apologize, saying he regrets what he did when he was 17.  But Laurel coming off of her divorce is very cold and wants nothing to do with Aiden.

There is also the famous photograph promoting Darling’s Kissing Bridge of 5 year old Aiden and Laurel kissing.  That picture has been there for 20 years, and now the town has approved changing the picture.  They want a grown up Aiden and Laurel to do another one. Aiden is willing, but Laurel wants nothing to do with it. 

Despite her misgivings, Laurel keeps running into Aiden, when he comes to her rescue a few times, and together they become involved in helping, George, a homeless man.  The mystery behind the vandalism in town, and George is a nice side story. 

What follows is a heartwarming story, with Laurel slowly rekindling her feelings for Aiden.  After having been hurt during her divorce, Laurel had given up on her dreams, closing her heart to being hurt again.  At first she was angry, bitter and cold towards Aiden, but he was such a wonderful hero.  He understood where Laurel was coming from, and took his time to win her over.  It was so much fun to see her begin to change and open herself up to love.  But even to near the end, Laurel would pull back, but family and friends, as well as Aiden would work to help show her the way to happiness.

Donna Alward has written a beautiful romance, and the sweet emotional ending was simply wonderful.  If you enjoy a pure romance, with a little bit of mystery, wonderful characters, then I suggest you read Somebody Like You. 

Reviewed by Barb

Copy provided by Publisher


Guest postWhat Makes Small Town Romances so Special?
By Donna Alward


When I started thinking about this question—what makes small town romances so special?—I thought about the books and series that I’ve loved over the years and why. When it comes right down to it, small towns are about family. Either the family you’re born into, or the family you choose. Small towns are where people stick their noses in your business, but also where help is only a phone call away.

Small towns are vibrant and quirky and full of personality, just like most families. People look after each other. You know your neighbors. And right now we live in an age of more ways to connect and yet feeling more and more disconnected. But reading a book or a series set in a small town gives a reader a sense of connection. To place. To people. For those of us a little older, (emphasis on the “little!”) it’s a little nostalgic, perhaps reminding us of where we grew up, when times were “simpler” (though they sure didn’t seem simple at the time!). For slightly younger readers, small towns can represent the sort of place they’re longing for.

For me, it’s all about where you call home. In fact, that’s the main component of all of my stories—where my characters belong. Sometimes that’s geographical, and sometimes it’s more a matter of hearts, which is why my tagline is “Where your heart finds home.”

It’s kind of like Cheers for the romance reader. Small towns are where the characters go; where everybody knows their name. LOL

When I think about my favorite small town series, I think about places like Robyn Carr’s Virgin River, Sherryl Woods’s Chesapeake Shores. It’s the kind of place I envisioned when I wrote my first series for St. Martin’s, the Jewell Cove series set in Maine. And again with my new series, set in a cozy town called Darling in Vermont.

I’m hoping readers will open the book, step inside The Purple Pig Café, or the Ladybug Garden Center, or stroll along the Green to the Kissing Bridge, and feel like this is the sort of place they’d like to live. Set down roots. Fall in love.

I hope they start reading the pages and feel like they’re family.




By the time they were through, it was nine o’clock and time to open. Being a Saturday, business was brisk. Her dad dropped off the supplies and offered to stay to help cover the tagging, but with the heavy shopping traffic, Laurel decided to wait until things died down. For now the tarps covered the tags, and she’d focus on her customers. Otherwise her anger would get the best of her and that was bad for business. By six p.m., things had slowed considerably.
Laurel had been going flat out for ten hours, stopping for only fifteen minutes to run to The Purple Pig for a sandwich. Her stomach growled, her feet hurt, there was dirt beneath her nails and she really, really wanted a shower and a glass of wine—in that order. Laurel had just dragged out the hose to water the fruit trees when a half- ton truck drove into the lot and parked in an empty space.
The driver hopped out, and her heart slammed against her ribs as she immediately realized how she must look. Dirty jeans, mannish golf shirt that did nothing for her figure,
scrubby ponytail through a Ladybug Garden Center ball cap, and prob ably smudges of dirt on her face and arms. Not that she was trying to look nice for Aiden or anything, but it was him getting out of the truck, looking sexy as hell in faded jeans and a T- shirt that stretched across
his chest and shoulders.
She could pretend she hadn’t seen him. Resolutely she turned on the hose and started watering the apple trees.
“Hey, Laurel,” he called out, and that erased any hope of avoiding him.
She turned off the hose and faced him. “Aiden. What brings you by? Looking for a shrub or tree or something?”
Keep it businesslike, she reminded herself. The last thing she needed was for him to know that he had the ability to fluster her.
“I heard about what happened.”
Of course he had.
“Don’t even. I’m still pissed.”
“I know it’s not what you needed. Did Crystal tell you that you weren’t the only one hit?”
Crystal must be the offi cer from this morning. “She did.”
“Well, that must make you feel better.”
She stared at him. “Better? Seriously? Since I opened a month ago, I’ve had to have the driveway re- graded, I’ve had to replace shrubs that were stolen from out front, deal
with a break-in and vandalism, and now tagging. Trust me, Aiden, the only thing that would feel better is if you actually did your job and found out who was doing this.”
She turned the hose back on.
He waited. He waited a long time. Several seconds, maybe thirty. Which was really not that long at all but definitely felt that way. She was watering the third tree when he sighed. “ You’re upset.”
“No shit, Sherlock.”
He met her gaze, and his eyes were soft, even though she’d basically just accused him of not doing his job. The understanding she saw there made her stomach churn. She didn’t want to lash out, but that was what she did when she was hurt. Angry.
Stopping by was kind and thoughtful. She kept trying to make him out to be a bad guy, and he kept being nice. It definitely made it difficult for her to hate him. Particularly since her biochemistry betrayed her at every turn. Even now, when she was utterly preoccupied with the day’s events, she seemed to notice everything. His hair, his eyes, the breadth of his chest, the armband tattoo that looked like some sort of Celtic braid, peeking just below the hem of his T- shirt sleeve. The shape of his lips . . .
He muttered something that was as creative a curse as she’d ever heard, and sounded suspiciously Irish. She couldn’t help but laugh, and tried to clamp her lips shut again. But not before he saw and heard, and his eyes took on an impish gleam.
“ You’re not fine. You’re tired and upset and rightfully so. You’re also just as stubborn as you always were.” He put his hands on his hips. “I take it you’re not adverse to help, just help from me in particular.”
Her face heated. Dammit.
“Maybe this could be my penance,” he suggested, giving her a quick grin. And she wished she could take him seriously, but he always seemed to be teasing. It was one of the things she’d really liked about him and hated at the same time. Particularly now, when she wanted to be, if not mad, completely unaffected. And she wasn’t. He was trying to cajole her out of her mood and it was working.
“It’s Saturday night. Don’t you have a hot date or something?” She turned on the hose again. Focused on the large plastic pot holding a cherry tree.
“Nope. Free as a bird.”
Dammit again.
“Come on, Laurel. Peace offering. Manual labor for you to stop hating me.”
She glanced over at him. “Why do you care so much?”
He was quiet for a moment, and to her surprise the teasing expression left his face. After a while he answered, his voice a little lower. “I don’t know why I care what people think so much. I always have. I don’t like anyone to be mad at me. Maybe it has something with being one of the younger siblings in the family. I don’t know. I just know that I don’t like it that you’re still so angry.” His intense blue gaze locked with hers. “It’s starting to become a personal mission to win you over. To atone for past sins.”
“Good luck,” she said dryly, more touched than she wanted to admit.
His boyish grin was back. “Come on, Laurel. You know you can’t hold out forever. You think I’m hot.” He had the audacity to wink at her.
She rolled her eyes.
“You do. You have a thing for gingers. And you have to admit, I grew up kinda good.” His hands were still on his hips and he tensed his muscles so that his shoulders and chest tightened beneath the thin T- shirt.
“I think you’re a bit taken with yourself, to be honest,” she replied. And tried not to smile. She didn’t want to be charmed, but he was incorrigible.
Damn, his voice was all silky- smooth now. “Yes, Mr. Narcissist?”
“You know damn well you want to hate me and you can’t. Besides, I saw your face just now. Maybe if I took off my shirt . . .”
“Would you like to go somewhere private to be with yourself?” she asked, biting the inside of her lip. She shouldn’t be enjoying this so much. And she wouldn’t be, if she thought he was serious. But he was teasing her.
Like he used to do when they were friends. And today . . . she swallowed against a ball of emotion. Today she needed a friend, and all she’d had were well- meaning customers.
She looked over at him. “Jeez, Aiden. You’re looking a little flushed. I think you could stand to cool off.” And before he could reply, she flicked her wrist and aimed the spray of the hose right at the center of his chest.
The abrupt shock on his face was gratifi cation enough, but then he grinned and reached to take away the hose. She danced away, still spraying him, admiring how the shirt now clung to his skin and the little droplets lit up his face and hair. A laugh bubbled up through her chest and out her mouth as she darted around the trees, dragging the hose with her. But there were too many pots and not enough room to maneuver and within seconds he caught her, wrapped one strong arm around her and wrenched the hose away with the other, spraying her in the process.
Cold water dripped from her nose, down her neck, over her bare arms. Aiden held her close against his body, close enough she could feel the hardness of his muscles, and thrilled at it. Their breaths came fast, their chests rising and falling with both laughter and the exertion of the struggle over the hose. But it was the way he was looking down at her right now that made her feel as if the lack of air was strangling her lungs. All it would take was the tiniest move and he’d be kissing her. Her gaze dropped to his lips— he’d always had fine lips— and she swallowed, nervous and scared at her reaction and turned on as hell.
She looked up, which was a mistake. Because he was staring at her lips. And his arm tightened just a little bit at the hollow of her back. Oh God . . .
A car horn honked and Laurel jumped back. He let her go, but the gravity of the moment remained.





Marti Corn Photography donna alward H-R 1600

While bestselling author Donna Alward was busy studying Austen, Eliot and Shakespeare, she was also losing herself in the breathtaking stories created by romance novelists like LaVyrle Spencer, Judith McNaught, and Nora Roberts. Several years after completing her degree she decided to write a romance of her own and it was true love! Five years and ten manuscripts later she sold her first book and launched a new career. While her heartwarming stories of love, hope, and homecoming have been translated into several languages, hit bestseller lists and won awards, her very favorite thing is when she hears from happy readers!
Donna lives on Canada’s east coast with her family which includes a husband, a couple of kids, a senior dog and two crazy cats. When she’s not writing she enjoys reading (of course!), knitting, gardening, cooking…and is a Masterpiece Theater addict.

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Donna’s publisher is graciously offering a paper copy of SOMEBODY LIKE YOU to ONE (1) lucky commenter at The Reading Cafe.

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The Girl at the Bar by Nicholas Nash-Review, Guest Post & Giveaway

THE GIRL AT THE BAR by Nicholas Nash-Review, Guest Post & Giveaway

The Girl at the Bar Banner

by Nicholas Nash
Release Date: February 1, 2017
Genre: adult, contemporary, psychological, medical, thriller
The Girl at The Bar

Amazon.com / Amazon.ca / B&N / KOBO / BAM /

RELEASE DATE: February 1, 2017

Rebecca, a brilliant cancer researcher, disappears after a one-night stand with a neurotic man with a questionable past.

Her sudden disappearance in the midst of a high-stakes quest to cure cancer between two rival billionaires sets into motion an inexplicable chain of events as the bodies start to pile up.

No one knows why she disappeared. The race to find answers ensnares everyone around her, one of whom is a deeply disturbed psychopath lurking in the shadows.

Is Rebecca still alive? What happened to her? Who did it? And why? Questions about her vex everyone looking for answers. No one can be trusted and no one is above suspicion


REVIEW: THE GIRL AT THE BAR by first time author Nicholas Nash is a stand alone,contemporary, adult, psychological, medical thriller that follows several paths culminating in a decades long vendetta for sins of the past.

Told from several third person points of view using flashbacks, memories, present day and the meanderings of a psychotic mind THE GIRL AT THE BAR is a story of research, hope, devastation, betrayal, murder and revenge. Rebecca Chase is a cancer specialist on the cusp of discovering a possible cure for cancer but hours before her symposium presentation Rebecca goes missing, and the last person to see her, Ragnar Johnson, is a man with a questionable past and Rebecca’s one-night stand. What ensues is a multi-layered investigation looking at several potential suspects that is hindered when a number of Rebecca’s colleagues are murdered within days of her disappearance.

THE GIRL AT THE BAR is a psychological thriller ; a story of intrigue that looks at the competitive side of cancer research; the probabilities of finding a cure; and the potential to save thousands of lives if a cure is to be found. There is an enormous amount of medical detail and technical terminology all relating to finding a cure for the big C but as to its’ authenticity I am not able to confirm the validity of the information presented. The story line also has some questionable means of investigation when a person of interest (aka suspect) is able to uncover more information and clues than the law enforcement or the forensic investigators combined. Similar to many thrillers THE GIRL AT THE BAR contains scenes of graphic violence, blood shed and murder.

There is a large ensemble cast of secondary and supporting characters including the members of two competing research teams, the medical community, law enforcement and a host of witnesses, suspects, and a computer genius capable of breaking through any computer barrier.

THE GIRL AT THE BAR is an engaging and intriguing story line of suspense. The premise is thrilling; the characters are colorful and animated; the reveal is a surprise you will never see coming.

Copy supplied for review (Netgalley)

Reviewed by Sandy

Guest post-Black and White

Thank you Sandy for covering me on your blog and to all the readers who are taking the time to read this!

My upcoming book is called THE GIRL AT THE BAR. The official release date of the book is February 1, 2017. The book starts off with the disappearance of a top cancer researcher, Rebecca Chase, after she has a one-night stand with someone she meets in a bar. The book is a classic whodunit with a lot of twists and turns. I cover the topic of cancer as a disease and the latest developments in cancer research in the book in a manner that the reader can follow. That said, the book is about people, how they think and how they react in situations.

For the book, I drew inspiration from my own real life experiences in creating settings, characters or story lines. I have met some very interesting people in my life. The characters are composites of several people, borrowing interesting features and creating a character that is completely different from others but at the same time interesting and striking, someone you would like to read about and root for.

Writing a mystery book is a balancing act. I had to hide the facts and create the mystery just enough that the reader does not guess the climax. At the same time, I was leaving behind sufficient clues such that when the reader reaches the end, they feel like it was all there but did not guess it. The fun is to make the reader feel stumped, surprised and excited at the same time. Getting that right balance while writing the mystery is probably the most difficult part.

Overall, I wrote the book trying to keep the reader at the edge right up to the end. I hope readers feel the same way. I enjoyed all the research that went into the book. There are so many small facts and interesting tid bits that I found while doing my research and I strung them all together into the book, be it some obscure facts about cancer, the Chinese underworld in New York or some fancy computer programs that play a key role in the book.

I hope you’ll enjoy reading the book!

About The Author Black and White

Follow: Website / Facebook / Goodreads/ Instagram

From the website:

Hi! I am Nicholas Nash, the author of The Girl At The Bar, a psychological thriller about the mysterious disappearance of a brilliant cancer researcher, Rebecca Chase, and the quest to find what happened to her. The Girl At The Bar has been influenced by numerous events in my life, people I’ve met, interesting stories I’ve heard and places I have traveled to.

I am a simple person at heart who loves reading (“Who doesn’t?”), traveling (“Again, who doesn’t?”), and listening to music (“That’s it Nick! You better write something interesting to bring in the readers. Something unique, like you are a retired Formula One driver who was once a stand-in for Jimmy Page during Led Zeppelin’s last concert.”). I live with this semi-nagging voice inside my head that always wants to talk to me, telling me things I should be doing, thinking about or writing. I don’t always listen to this voice, but I finally decided to give it a chance and we wrote The Girl At The Bar. The book is as much my creation as it is my alter ego’s. If you enjoy the book, my alter ego will very much like to take the credit, thank you. If you don’t, it will be entirely my fault. At least that’s what the voice in my head is telling me right now…

I live in Manhattan in New York City with my wife and three children.

Giveaway -black and white

Nicholas Nash is graciously offering a paper copy to ONE (1) lucky commenter and an ebook copy  to another lucky commenter at The Reading Cafe

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Releasing the Demons / Black Bullet by L.D. Rose-Review, Guest Post & Giveaway

Releasing The Demons / Black Bullet by L. D. Rose-Review, Guest Post and Giveaway

L. D. Rose Banner

Black BulletBlack Bullet
The Order of the Senary #2
by L.D. Rose
Release Date: November 9, 2016
Genre: adult, paranormal, romance

Amazon.com / Amazon.ca /

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date November 9, 2016

Fledgling vampire Jonathan Kerr has just met his match.

Not even his past life as a former Marine and FBI agent could prepare him for the battle against the monster inside him, struggling to take hold. After an old nemesis of the Senary surfaces in Brooklyn, unleashing chaos and terror in the battered borough, Jon sets out to take him down. Instead, he ends up with far more than he bargained for when he clashes with the beautiful half-vampire hybrid, Lawan Knight.

After escaping near death and suffering unspeakable horror at the hands of vampires, Lawan trusts no one, regardless of species. In between bouts of drunken stupor, her only goal is to exterminate all those who’ve wronged her, including every member of Jon’s vampire bloodline. But Jon’s soulful eyes and quick smile crawls under her skin, transforming her black and white world into a hazy shade of gray.

As the days rapidly grow darker, Jon and Lawan turn to one another, but their inner demons threaten to tear them apart. The only way either of them will survive is if they overcome their greatest fear–



The second book to what’s turning out to be a really good series.

JJ was a marine, then FBI agent, now he’s a human turned vampire (against his will) and holds a lot of resentment still, but he puts his skills to good use.
He was saved by the Knights (his sister is marrying one) after saving one of the hybrids life.
(There aren’t many good vamps, and JJ finds it hard to come to terms with what he is)

Lawan is a knight, (the hybrids that all live in the same place, have the same father) a hybrid, but she works alone. Something really bad happened in the past, and it shaped her into the killing machine she is today.

Their first meeting is explosive, she literally kicks JJ’s butt, and after leaving him coughing up blood, their next meeting should be just as explosive.

One of the hybrids (Rome) explains that although females were once made into hybrids, they were quickly eradicated. But not all of them, how Lawna slipped through the net gets revealed in the book. But he knows Lawna, and she certainly knows Rome !

The story remains at a fast pace, and like the first book in the series, it’s a graphic but gripping read.
The characters slowly dance around their attraction for each other, JJ feels he doesn’t deserve anyone (who could love a vampire, right?) and Lawna can’t get close to anyone, and certainly not a leech. It would hurt too much to lose anyone else.

There is a sub-plot going on as well, and it’s interesting how the two move along together.

I’m totally hooked on this series, and can’t wait for more.

Copy supplied for review

Reviewed by Julie B.


Releasing the DemonsReleasing The Demons
The Order of the Senary Series #1
by L.D. Rose
Release Date: August 19, 2015
Genre: adult, paranormal, romance

Amazon.com / Amazon.ca / B&N / BAM /

Back cover ……

Blaze Knight has been through hell and back, but the nightmares aren’t over yet.

Five years after Blaze was maimed by Cyrus Chimola, a powerful vampire with a penchant for torture, he’s still trying to pick up the pieces of his shattered life. As a genetically engineered mercenary with the ability to bend fire to his will and to see in infrared, Blaze’s mission is to protect what’s left of humanity. When Chimola and his crew return to the Bronx gunning for Blaze’s blood, Blaze is forced to face the demons of his past. Hell-bent on revenge, he seeks the help of Valerie Medeiros, an NYPD detective who manages to steal his heart and save his life in more ways than one.

Motivated by her sister’s gruesome death, Valerie has made it her life’s goal to bury every vampire in the ground where they belong. When she brings in Blaze Knight for suspected murder, she discovers he’s not only innocent, he isn’t a man at all–he’s a half-vampire hybrid working with a band of brothers for the U.S. military. Valerie has a hard time trusting anything with fangs, yet she quickly falls headlong into Blaze’s life, a life full of darkness and horror she can’t even begin to fathom. The bodies are stacking up, but Valerie can’t seem to let go of this hybrid, a beautiful monster filled with pain, rage, and passion unlike anything she’s ever known.

In a world where the line between good and evil is blurred, Blaze and Valerie will find danger at every turn, risking everything they’ve come to know and love, including one another.



G-Fusion project ……

Human embryos were fertilised with vampire DNA, then placed back in human women to gestate.

The experiments were deemed wrong, and the hybrids were eradicated. (Or so humanity thought) Blaze and his group of “brothers” (different mothers, same father) protect their world, the only only way they know how …..

The hybrids all have hidden talents, fire makers, healers, ice makers and telepathy, to name a few of their talents.

Blaze can generate his own heat internally and from his hands he can produce flames. A film of opal colours covers his eyes and he can only see in infrared, which is great for tracking the vampires, but otherwise useless in everyday life, so he has to wear sunglasses all the time. Tortured until he wished for death, he was rescued by one of his brothers. And now he seeks revenge on the master vampire who captured and tortured him.

Valerie is a cop with a grudge, after losing her little sister to vampires, she’s made it her duty to protect the people of her town against these things, but it’s a battle they aren’t winning.

The vampire came out to the world (years ago) and now they rule the night, the humans live in fear, populations of cities were wiped out, and vampires claimed the cities as their own. Even daylight isn’t safe, as they can use minions to do their bidding during the day.

Blaze and Valerie meet up after she arrests him for the murder of a girl he was sleeping with. But after meeting him, she knows he didn’t do it, but there is something about him that isn’t right. He smokes (but no visible lighter) and he won’t take off his sunglasses, and all those tats, it means he’s either a gang member or something else. And Valerie wants to find out more……

At first she is very wary and doesn’t trust Blaze, and once she meets his brothers, her fears aren’t laid to rest.

Blaze is intrigued with the female detective, and after he is released, he realises she maybe able to help him find his lovers killer, but he already has an idea who it might be.

And as the story goes along, we have a sub-plot (don’t want to give too much away) but it’s one of the reasons Blaze is targeted by his old adversary, and I have a feeling it could be in a few other stories that come along.

The story doesn’t stop, lots of action, and very well written, it flows smoothly from one scene to another.

Blaze is a hybrid trying to redeem his past, and Valerie wants justice. Will she run when she truly knows what a monster he is ? Or will she through him and see the hybrid that hides behind the scars and sunglasses ?

Hoping all the hybrids get a book and can’t wait to dive into the next one …..

Copy supplied for review

Reviewed by Julie B



Jon only had time to take a single breath before a dark boot materialized in front of his face, the heel aiming straight for his throat. He snatched it before it made contact and twisted hard, thrusting it away from him. The limb yielded beneath his grip as his attacker collapsed beside him, metal clattering nearby. He levered to his feet, pulling a KA-BAR from his boot as pain lit up his nerves, setting his teeth on edge. His attacker was already standing, the blade of a gorgeous double-edged Kris sword pointed at his throat.
Holy shit.His opponent was female, wearing a slim-fitting black battle uniform and carrying enough artillery to outfit a small army. Her jet-black hair was tied in a long braid and a black mask covered the lower half of her face. Her dark, almond-shaped eyes revealed her Asian heritage, her skin the color of caramel. A scabbard stretched across her back, strapped to her chest, along with the M16 she’d used to tear up the warehouse.

Jon took a step back, but she didn’t hesitate, launching at him with the blade. Metal clashed and sparks flew as he parried the long sword’s quicksilver arcs with his dagger. Although she limped from her injured leg, her strikes were hard, fast, and precise, each blow intended to kill. He nearly tripped over the pirate’s body as she backed him against the wall of the refinery, and he ducked as the blade screeched along the brick.

Before Jon straightened, he jabbed the butt of his KA-BAR into her knee and she yelped, stumbling backward. He slashed at her and caught nothing but air as she lurched away from him. She swung the Kris at his head and he raised the KA-BAR to engage and bind the sword. Both of their weapons trembled as their eyes locked on one another across the tangle of deadly metal.

And as her smoldering gaze drilled into him, he smelled it.

Dama de Noche.

The Lady of the Night, a nocturnal blooming flower he’d first smelled years ago in Nepal, when he was a human soldier. The scent was unmistakable, underlying the incense of vampire. The stench of leech didn’t belong to her, but the floral aroma was all her own.

She’s not a vampire.

Stunned by the revelation, Jon wavered, and she quickly took advantage of him. She sidestepped and lunged at him, sinking the blade in his shoulder. He shouted, dropping his KA-BAR as pain erupted from his dominant limb. Moving lightning fast, she yanked the blade out and sliced an arc across his chest. Luckily, she only scored his Kevlar, and as the sword swooped around again, Jon caught it with his gloved hands, silver biting into leather.

“You’re a hybrid,” he ground out. “I’m on your side!”

She pushed hard against him, drawing blood. “Bullshit.” Her voice was a rich contralto, edged with a growl. “You reek of Temhota.”

The Dama drew back and chopped at his belly, but Jon blocked her with his forearms, metal jarring against his bones. Finally, he managed to kick the blade out of her grip and it spun away, clattering to the ground. She somersaulted backward to retrieve it, but Jon caught hold of her braid in mid-air and wrenched on it. She cried out and landed face-first on the pavement, her breath audibly whooshing from her throat.

Jon wound her braid around his hand like a rope and straddled her, pinning her down. He tore the M16 off and tossed it as she writhed beneath him, fighting hard. Yanking her head up, he leaned close to her ear. “I’m not your enemy,” he hissed.

Her already shallow breath quickened and her struggles intensified, her sweet scent pumping from her pores in cloying waves. Panic. Fear. Restraining her like this completely terrified her.

Jon let up, knowing it was a mistake, but the shred of humanity still left in him couldn’t resist. The Dama slammed the crown of her head into his face and his retinas exploded in a staggering palette of reds, whites, and grays. His nose caved in, but not so far as to bury the bony shards into his brain. Blood poured out of him like a leaky faucet as he fell back, propping himself up on the wall of the refinery.

She was on him in an instant, chopping the edge of a flat hand into his trachea before smashing a fist in his ear. She wobbled to her feet as he struggled desperately to breathe—remember Jon, you don’t have to—and she gave him a vicious kick to his solar plexus, doubling him over. The pain was terrific, a cacophony of agony echoing from every corner of his body.

Jesus Christ, she was beating the shit out of him.

The Dama stood there, shaking, the fabric of her fallen mask fluttering to the ground. Jon blinked, trying to clear his blurred vision as she picked up her sword. He stole a glimpse of her face as she flung the mask up with the blade and caught it. A tattoo marked her cheek, the black symbol unmistakable but jagged, as if she’d thrashed during the process.

The same mark he’d painted on his chest lay branded on her face—the emblem of the Temhota.

Jon yanked down the neckline of his shirt, much like he had with the pirate, but this time he wiped at the mark, smearing it. The Dama paused in front of him, eyes narrowed, a gash marring her forehead. Even with the mark of his enemy on her face, she was breathtaking, and he didn’t have much breath left to spare.

“Not real,” he said past swollen lips, lifting trembling fingers stained with both paint and blood. “No mark.”

“But you are a leech.” She pointed the serpentine blade at the hollow of his throat.

He nodded, swallowing iron. “I work with the Senary. I used to . . . I used to be human. I’m not what you think I am.”

“You stink of them.” Her lip curled in a snarl.

He nodded again, every muscle in his body screaming. “Because I’m one of them. Yet I’m not.”

Brilliant. Maybe a few of those bony shards made their way into his brain after all.

She flipped the sword deftly and held it in a two-handed grip, the sin qua non of impending decapitation. Her dark eyes didn’t have the cat-like gleam signature to vampires, but hate and anger bled through them anyway.

“Makes no difference to me.”



Guest Post black and purple

A Gritty Gotham by L.D. Rose

First, I’d like to say thank you for featuring me on your blog!

My name is Linda (writing as L.D. Rose) and I’m a doctor by day and author of dark PNR/UF by night. Today I’ll be talking about the world I created in The Order of The Senary series and my inspiration for the setting in the current books, RELEASING THE DEMONS and BLACK BULLET.

Although both novels are dark paranormal romances, they’re very heavy on urban fantasy, likely influenced for my love of all things gritty and metropolitan. This series takes place in the alternate present, in a dystopian New York City. I adore NYC and lived just north of the Big Apple during my medical school training. The sights and sounds of 469 square miles of concrete populated by 8.5 million people inspired me in so many ways, from the gothic architecture to the people watching to the visions of “what if?” What if vampires finally rose out of the darkness and attacked all of the major cities in the world? Where would humans run, hide, and would they fight back? How would they handle this evolutionary shift in power?

And hence, the premise for these crazy stories bloomed.

The Order of The Senary is one of a few groups of hybrid mercenaries genetically engineered by the U.S. government to exterminate vampires. Being half vampire themselves, they all undergo a constant battle between the monster and human inside them. Although they were socialized with humans as children, they grew up on military bases, trained to hone their powers (or the “side effects” of their hybridization, like pyrokinesis, telekinesis, and shapeshifting to name a few) and to become lethal killers. The psychological and physical trauma they endure is intense, but it’s all for the “greater good” of the human race. Taught to despise all things fanged (besides their own brothers), their love for their fellow man knows no bounds, but they’re banned from developing intimate relationships with others.

Until they each meet their own illicit partner, whether human, vampire, or something else entirely. 😉

Want to learn more? Check out the first novel, RELEASING THE DEMONS, available at all Amazon stores in both print and eBook. The second novel, BLACK BULLET, just released last month and I’m thrilled to share this vision of a dark world where love, brotherhood, and loyalty is the best means of survival.

Hope you enjoyed this post and thank you for stopping by!

Black Bullet teaser

About The Author

L.D. RoseL.D. Rose is a neurotic physician by day, crazed writer by night, and all around wannabe superhero. She writes paranormal romance and urban fantasy, but she’s been known to delve into horror, sci-fi, and medical suspense on occasion. L.D. Rose is a PAN member of the RWA, FF&P, NEC-RWA and CoLoNY. She currently lives in Rhode Island with her studly hubby, her hyperactive boxer, and her two devious cats.

Sign up for her newsletter for the latest on the Senary, sneak peeks, giveaways, and other fun stuff: http://eepurl.com/bKvuXD. You’ll receive a free horror short story with sign-up!

You can also join her street team on FB for more shenanigans. 😉 DEVOUR THE NIGHT: https://www.facebook.com/groups/15447…

Where else to find her:

Website: www.writerldrose.com
Amazon Author Page: www.amazon.com/author/ldrose
Facebook: www.facebook.com/writerldrose
Author page: www.facebook.com/ldroseauthorpage
Twitter: www.twitter.com/ld_rose
Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/ldrose
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/writerldrose
Tumblr: www.writerdoc.tumblr.com
Book Bub: www.bookbub.com/authors/l-d-rose


L.D. Rose is offering an ecopy of book one RELEASING THE DEMONS in The Order of the Senary Series 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.

NOTE: If you are having difficulty commenting after logging onto the site, please refresh the page (at the top of your computer).

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3. LIKE L.D. Rose on Facebook

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

5. LIKE us on Twitter for an additional entry.

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8. Giveaway open Internationally

9.. Giveaway runs from December 27-31, 2016


Lessons in Letting Go (Study Abroad #3) by Jessica Peterson-Review, Interview & Giveaway

Lessons in Letting Go (Study Abroad #3) by Jessica Peterson – Review, Interview & Giveaway

Lessons in Letting Go Banner

Lessons in Letting Go
Study Abroad #3
by Jessica Peterson
Release Date: December 12, 2016
Genre: new adult, contemporary, romance

Lessons in Letting Go

Amazon.com / Amazon.ca / KOBO /

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date December 12, 2016

“Ten minutes ago, I was just an American student studying abroad in Spain. But now? Now I’m a professional soccer player’s muse. His good luck charm…”

Soccer star Rhys Maddox’s recovery from an injury isn’t going well—until one night with a beautiful American and a few terrible pick-up lines changes everything. With Laura at his side, he plays smarter, runs faster, and fights harder than he ever has on the pitch. She’s just the good luck charm he needs to turn his flailing career around.

Laura Bennet begins her semester in Madrid with plans to ditch bad habits and worse boyfriends. But when she unexpectedly gets caught up in Rhys’s A-list life, her plans are put on hold. Who wouldn’t skip class to fly on a private jet with a studly Welsh footballer? It’s a no brainer, or so she thinks. Turns out Rhys’s glamorous lifestyle hides an obsession with appearances—an obsession that makes her totally miserable. Determined to take back her happiness, Laura decides to dump Rhys and tackle a “Spain Bucket List” on her own.

But Rhys isn’t letting his good luck charm go without a fight. He’s spent his entire life trying to earn his way into the big leagues, and he’ll do anything to win—even risk his carefully crafted image to help Laura with her bucket list. Will he be able to let go of his ego? Or will he and Laura ultimately let go of each other?


REVIEW: Let’s all be honest, we all have inner demons and hang ups in our lives. Whether we let those inner demons and hang ups control our lives is up to us. Whether it’s a past we are trying to leave behind or a fear that constrains way of living, we all have our inner demons and hang ups. In this story we have the beautiful yet bright student Laura who wants to shed her people pleasing skin to be more emotionally free to have more fun and to stop caring about her weight so much to enjoy real food. And then we have rising soccer star Rhys who came from a very poor family in Wales who puts so much unnecessary pressure on himself to provide for his family. He is always constantly fighting his inner demons that he doesn’t want to repeat his father’s mistakes. Will Rhys and Laura let go of their demons and hang ups to really live their lives and find love in each other’s arms?

I really enjoyed how likeable Laura was but what I really appreciated was how relatable her issues were. Being a people pleaser and being overly concern about weight are very relatable issues many women have. I also enjoyed reading about Rhys letting go of his inner demons as well, that just because he deviates from his rigid schedule and routine doesn’t mean that he’s going to end up a washed up failure at soccer like his dad. The character growth and development were elements of the book I really enjoyed. Laura was able to enjoy real food and not get upset over the slight weight gain. She was able to do things for her and not for others, she was even able to assert herself to do the things she wanted. Rhys was able to free himself of letting his father’s mistake rule his every action. I truly enjoy reading Laura and Rhys’s journey to emotional freedom.

I really liked this book. The book was tastefully sexy but had literary substance to it. You would think all the hangs ups and inner demons concept would bring down the mood of the book but doesn’t. The book has an uplifting and encouraging tone to it that is refreshing. I enjoyed this book so much that I went ahead to purchase the rest of the series. Another plus, the book can read alone with no issues of missing parts of the previous books. I highly recommend this read I really do.

Copy supplied for review.

Reviewed by Xtina



Rhys That Night

“Zat, it was fucking awesome, mate!” Olivier says, pounding me on the back. “Where did it come from? For so many months, you play like a terrible child. But today? Today you play like a champion.”
“Thanks, dickhead,” I say, laughing as I tug on my trousers. The familiar scents of the locker room—sweat, soap, antiseptic—surround me. For the first time in forever, they fill me with hope. Happiness. I’m actually glad to be here. “Nice goal, by the way.”
“Not as nice as ze assist.”
“That’s it, Cabbage!” William Wallace—I don’t think anyone knows his real name anymore—appears at my elbow, clapping loudly. “Whatever girl you and your dobber mates were chattin’ about at training, I want you to see more of her! I haven’t seen ye play like this since before ye balls dropped.”
“Thanks,” I say.
“I mean it,” he says, looking me in the eye. “Ye’re comin’ back, lad. Keep it up, yeah?”
I fight back a smile. The relief that floods me—the disbelief that my luck might actually be turning—is overwhelming. I finally played like the legend I hope to be. In this sport, legends get paid very, very well. And heaven knows I could do a lot of things for a lot of people with that money.
My sponsors lit up my mobile tonight. I even got a new one—a giant diamond company—that promised to pay me twenty thousand euros if I showed up at their event tomorrow night.
Needless to say, I cleared my schedule and accepted the invitation. Relationships with sponsors are fragile, so I always make an effort to put my best foot forward and attend every event they invite me to.
I shake hands, slap backs, smile as the squad compliments me on the pass. But all the while I’m thinking of only one thing.
One girl.
I admit I’m superstitious—what athlete isn’t?—but even I’m not daft enough to think my legendary performance today has anything to do with Laura, or the ridiculously intense orgasms we had together. Orgasms are magical, sure, but they don’t have magical powers.
Do they?
Because that feeling I got when I gunned down the pitch, the way my instincts took over, and guided me—it came from the same deeply buried place inside me that came alive when I fucked Laura, her eyes wet and lucid, her hair wild, her silky skin flushed.
Maybe coach is right. Maybe Laura did make me play any better today. It makes sense—sort of. Nothing else about my life has changed in the past week. I ate the same food, trained the same way, slept my customary nine hours a night.
Hanging out with Laura was the only deviation from my carefully scripted schedule. It was the only time I had fun, cut loose. I spend so much time doing the things I should or need to do; I rarely do what I want. I wanted to get naked with Laura, so I did. There was something so…liberating about it.
Sure, I’ve thought about Laura this week. I haven’t called her, though, because that’s my rule. But I have to admit that even my training sessions were better—every single one of them.
I suppose playing so well in the match today just confirms that there’s something at work here.
That I finally played really, really well for the first time since blowing out my knee after I slept with Laura could be purely coincidental. It could be a not-so-funny joke, engineered by the big guy in the sky. The connection between my performance and Laura could mean nothing.
Then again, it could mean everything. It could mean the difference between being demoted from first team, and making all my dreams come true. If I keep playing like I did tonight, there’s a seriously exciting future ahead of me. A future where I can do right by my family, and prove to the world I’m not going to wash up like my deadbeat dad. A future with the biggest sponsors and the biggest paychecks and the best bet to live the life I’ve always wanted for myself, and for mum, and for Maggie.
The kind of life dad promised us, but never delivered on.
I’m certainly not alone in my superstitions. Alexandr swore it was wearing the bright yellow boots his wife “blessed” with a kiss every morning that made his performance in last year’s Euro Cup so astounding. Fred’s got his ice cream. Sergio bangs on the brick wall outside the locker room exactly six times before every match. If he doesn’t, his play will be rotten (so he says). As athletes, so much of our professional lives—our successes, our failures—depends on chance. To touch the divine, and play like the gods we want to be, the timing’s got to be just right; the stars have to align; that ever-elusive shadow called luck must be on our side.
No one knows what it is, exactly, that keeps that shadow in our corner, or lures it away. I’d sell my soul to know the nebulous math that solves the equation in my favor. But as much as I believe in the power chance, I also believe in my own power—my own agency. I can’t control luck, but I can run after it as hard and as fast as I can.
Tonight, I ran pretty damn fast.
Shrugging into my suit jacket, I know what I have to do. I have too much at risk to underestimate this Laura thing. Maybe it’s real, maybe it’s not, but I will do anything—bloody anything—to keep my stars aligned.
Lucky for me, that “anything” is a gorgeous girl with an even more gorgeous body. Just thinking about that body, the way her pussy clenched around me again and again, has me adjusting the crotch of my trousers.
I’ve got to run like hell after Laura, and convince her, somehow, to let me see her again. Tomorrow, perhaps. I’ll apologize for not calling sooner, tell her I’ve been busy with training. The diamond guys want me to bring a date to the event, and Laura would look really hot in heels and a tight little dress.
With the most important season of my career on the line, I have to see her. Perhaps make her laugh with more awful pick-up lines, or give her another orgasm, or five. God, the look in her eyes when I slammed inside her…
I swallow, hard.
It’s not serious. It can’t be. But I’ve got to see her.
I think I just stumbled upon the good luck charm I’ve been looking for.


Today is my first day at the Santa Caterina After School Program (bucket list item #6: Community service—tutor kids, literacy work). Considering I’ve spent the past hour in a classroom with twenty-three five and six year olds I’ve only just met, it’s going pretty well. Only one little boy peed his pants, and the kids seem to be enjoying my terrible Spanish renditions of some of my favorite picture books (The Giving Tree gets me every.damn.time., even in a different language).
I’ve always been a big reader—I began sneaking romance novels from my mom’s bookshelf when I was eleven, and now my massive collection of pink- and purple-spined paperbacks is the thing I treasure most in this world—so I knew when I got to college I wanted to do some kind of literacy work. My dirty book habit aside, I hoped to work with underprivileged kids. I remember what a proud, magical moment it was when I learned to read, and I wanted to relive that feeling with the children I volunteered with.
The kids and I are seated in a circle on the floor. They’re a little fidgety—being asked to sit quietly after a full day of school is not easy when you’re six—but they return my smile when I close The Giving Tree and settle it in my lap.
So, I ask in embarrassingly stilted Spanish, the giving tree was very kind and generous with the little boy. Is there anyone in your life who is kind and generous with you? Someone who gave you something special?
A few small hands shoot up. I point to a little girl who is missing her front teeth.
My dad says Rhys Maddox is going to give us a title this year, but only if he doesn’t play like garbage.
I blink. Seriously? I can’t get away from this guy. Less than twenty-four hours ago, I swore to dedicate myself to my bucket list. And yet here Rhys is, invading my carefully guarded personal space once again. Damn him and his ridiculous, delicious, rock-hard body. Oh, that body…
Yeah, another girl in pigtails says. My dad says Rhys Maddox can be the best player in the world if he just gets his head out of his ass.
“Whoa!” I say, before remembering to use Spanish. Celeste, excuse me, but you cannot use that word here.
Rhys Maddox would be kind and generous if he played as well as he did last night so we could win the war against Barcelona, a little boy named Miguel says.
Well, it’s not a real war, I say. The rivalry between the football clubs in Madrid and Barcelona is intense. Some Spaniards—older generations, mostly—see that rivalry as a continuation of the Spanish Civil War, or at least a reenactment of it.
My grandpa says it is, he replies. We’ve been fighting it for a thousand years, and only Rhys Maddox can win it with a league title.
I bite back a grin. I can’t resist. Do you think Rhys Maddox is kind, like the giving tree?
Maybe, a little boy says when I call on him. My mom says he is very handsome. It makes her happy when he takes his shirt off. So maybe that means he is kind?
Hmmm, I say. My belly aches from trying not to laugh. I’m not so sure about that one.
When we finish up reading hour, I take the kids outside to play on the playground. I jump when my phone, tucked into the back pocket of my jeans, begins to ring.
Are you all right, Miss Bennet? Miguel looks up at me, holding a hand to his forehead against the fading sun.
I grin at him and nod, even though my heart weirdly begins to pound as I dig my phone out of my pocket. The girls I went to the soccer game with usually text me; so do my friends back home. The only people who actually call me are Em and my parents. And considering both—well, all three of those people know I’m working right now, they wouldn’t be calling me unless it was an emergency.
I glance at the screen. It’s a number I don’t recognize—a European number. My heart pounds faster. For one stupid, heady heartbeat, I think it might be Rhys, finally making good on his promise to call.
I look around, quickly. I’m not supposed to use my phone while I’m with the kids, but this could be an emergency. Ducking into the shade of a nearby bench, I slide my thumb across the bottom of the screen.
My stomach plummets at the familiar rumble of the voice that greets me.
Holy shit. It can’t be. No way. No freaking way. I bite the inside of my lip, just to make sure I’m awake and alive and that this is really happening.
“Uh. Yes?”
“It’s Rhys. Rhys Maddox.”
I take a deep breath, let it out. “Oh, hey, uh, Rhys. What’s, um. What’s up?”
Barf. Why do I have to be so awkward?
“I want to see you,” he says.
“See me?”
“Yeah. Where are you?”
“Where am I? Like, physically?”
“Yes.” He laughs. “Where on the Earth are you located?”
“Right now?”
“Yes. Where are you right now?” There’s a loud noise in the background, like he’s vacuuming or something. Only Rhys wouldn’t vacuum because he’s, well, Rhys Maddox.
What the hell?
“Um.” I glance at the playground. “I’m volunteering at Santa Caterina. It’s this after school program in—God, I actually forget what the neighborhood is called. It’s not in the best area in the city…”
“You’re at Santa Caterina?”
My stomach drops again. “Do you know it?”
“No. But I’ve got Google maps. I’ll be there in twenty.”
Now I really feel like I’m going to barf. “Wait, Rhys—no. No, don’t…please, you don’t have to—”
He already hung up.
I drop my phone on the bench, my hands shaking as I smooth my hair back from my face. I feel like I just got electrocuted. Be cool, I tell myself. Stay calm.
But how in the world am I supposed to stay calm when Rhys Maddox is on his way here? After calling me? And inexplicably telling me he wants to see me?
I don’t get why he’s in such a rush. Did he just find out he has a horrible, non-curable STD he passed on to me? Is he just in a good mood after his win last night? Does he want to get naked again?
I mean, what the frick is going on?
I stand up and survey my outfit. Of course Rhys would pick the day I’m dressed like a sweaty hippie hobo to drop into my life. I was more than a little hung over this morning after yesterday’s shenanigans at the football stadium, so I only had time for cruddy jeans and a little mascara before I had to leave for class. And after hanging outside in this heat, I probably smell just lovely.
I run my hands through my hair, giving my tired waves a bit of a boost. I adjust my shirt and discreetly check for any signs of BO. The situation isn’t great, but it isn’t terrible, either.
I take another deep breath. Be cool. Be calm.
And then I laugh at the absurdity of trying to be either of those things when the hottest, sexiest human on the planet just called to say he wants to see me this very minute. I am so out of my depth here. And I can’t tell if that excites or terrifies me.
When the throaty rumble of an exotic sports car fills the playground, I feel like I’m going to faint. On cue, the kids drop whatever they were doing and hurry toward the fence. They let out little gasps of surprise as a black convertible Lamborghini pulls up to the curb.
I bared myself to Rhys in every sense of the word last week. I felt relatively brave then. But now? Not so much. I feel embarrassed. Some small, mean part of me thinks he came here just to make fun of me for my hairy vagina or awful, pretend o-face.
I remind myself I have nothing to lose, that I’m focusing on me, myself, and my bucket list this semester, but that doesn’t do much to slow my racing pulse.
I look down at a tug on my hand. It’s the little girl with the missing front teeth.
It’s all right, Miss Bennet, she says. That’s Batman. He is kind and generous, just like the giving tree. Although sometimes he kills people, too.
Rhys revs the engine one last time—boys and their toys, so ridiculous—before he turns off the car and climbs out, tucking his sunglasses into the front pocket of his tuxedo jacket.
That’s right. As if this whole scenario wasn’t ridiculous enough, Rhys is wearing a goddamn tuxedo. I feel like I’m in a commercial, one of those ads that’s trying to sell probiotic yogurt to middle-aged women. Rhys is one tall class of yogurt—water—whatever—in his dapper duds. I didn’t know feeling weak in the knees was actually a thing until this very moment. I grab onto the fence to steady myself.



TRC:  Hi Jessica, and welcome to The Reading Cafe.

We would like to start with some background information. Would you please tell us something about yourself?

Follow: Goodreads / Website / Twitter / Facebook

Jessica PetersonJessica:  Hi there! First, thank you very much for having me; I’m so excited to be here! So I’m a thirty-something writer living in North Carolina with my husband, Ben, and our smelly Goldendoodle, Martha Bean. My STUDY ABROAD series is based on my own experience studying in Madrid, Spain, more than ten (!) years ago.

TRC:  Who or what influenced your career in writing?

Jessica:  Great question. I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but it took me a while to finally sit down and write a book. I started out writing historicals, but after I read the likes of Elle Kennedy and Kristen Callihan, I knew I had to write some smexy contemporary romance. It’s been a lot of fun!

TRC:  What challenges or difficulties have you encountered writing and publishing your stories?

Jessica:  Oh, wow, lots. I started out writing historicals for a traditional publisher, but they did not renew my contract for a second series. I was totally crushed and didn’t know where to go next with my writing. I wasn’t so sure about the indie thing, but once I started, I found I was a much happier writer–a much BETTER writer–and that I enjoyed the process so much more. It hasn’t been easy, and it’s a struggle sometimes not to get discouraged when everyone around you seems to be selling millions of books and you’re not, but I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished, and I still get goosebumps every morning when I sit at my computer and read what I wrote the day before. It’s a dream come true for sure!

TRC:  Would you please tell us something about the premise of LESSONS IN LETTING GO?

Lessons in Letting GoJessica:  Sure! This is my first sports romance I’ve ever written, and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the sports angle…maybe because I enjoyed googling shirtless footballers WAY too much. I pitch it as a hot, tortured Welsh footballer + ambitious American student + orgasm-heavy bucket list. Totally delicious!

TRC:  How many books do you have planned for the series? Can each book be read as a stand alone without any difficulty?

Jessica:  While LESSONS IN LETTING GO is the third book in the series, it can absolutely be read as a standalone–so can the previous two books in the series, SPANISH LESSONS and LESSONS IN GRAVITY.

TRC:  How do you keep the plot(s) unpredictable without sacrificing content and believability?

Jessica:  So plotting is definitely not my strong suit, and I look to my editor for a lot of guidance there. I’m a “pantser”, meaning I don’t outline before I write (I just get bored). My method is labor intensive–edits can be a total beast–but I’d like to think it works!

TRC:  Are any of the characters or scenarios based in reality or from people you know or met?

Jessica:  None of the characters are, but this book is basically the fantasy I had when I studied abroad that I’d meet a cute footballer and he’d fall in love with me (ha!). That never happened in real life, so of course I had to write a book about it.

TRC:  Do you believe the cover image plays a deciding factor for many readers in the process of selecting a book or new series to read?

Jessica:  Not necessarily. It certainly doesn’t for me. I read a lot of romance blogs and am active on Twitter and Facebook; if people are raving about a book, I’ll usually buy it and check it out, regardless of what the cover looks like.

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

Jessica:  The characters definitely direct the writing. It’s all about internal and external conflict–those drive the characters, which drives the plot.

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

Jessica:  My editor is AMAZING and we work really well together when it comes to plotting. When I’m stuck, or I’m brainstorming, I’ll usually give her a call and we’ll talk for, like, four hours about how to make the book work. I usually have the characters, and she has the plot ideas.

TRC:  The mark of a good writer is to pull the reader into the story line 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 writer’s fail in this endeavor?

Jessica:  I think it all comes back to the characters. You have to understand in them–you have to believe them and what they’re after. I think it’s especially to get the hero right in romance. I took Elizabeth Hoyt’s workshop on the hero a couple years ago at RWA, and her message–that if you get your hero right, you’re in a good place–has stuck with me.

TRC:  Do you listen to music while writing? If so, does the style of music influence the story line direction? Characters?

Jessica:  I usually can’t listen to music when I’m writing, EXCEPT when I write a kissing or sex scene. Then music is essential. By the time I finish a book, I usually have a playlist of songs I’ve played hundreds of times. It captures the tone/mood of the story for me.

TRC:  What do you believe is the biggest misconception people have about authors?

Jessica:  That writing is easy or enjoyable! Sure, I’m chasing down my dream job, but that doesn’t mean that I sit down at my computer with a smile and happily type away until the book is done. Most days are boring, lonely, and HARD. But then you get that one day where the plot comes together or you write a scene that gives you chills and you’re so happy you want to cry. THAT is what keeps me coming back, page after page.

TRC:  On what are you currently working?

Jessica:  I’m currently working on what was supposed to be a novella (STUDY ABROAD #3.5), but apparently I’m incapable of writing anything shorter than 60,000 words. So this next book will probably turn into a full-length novel. I’m kicking around the idea of using it to create a spin-off footballer series. We’ll see!

TRC:  Would you like to add anything else?

Jessica:  Thanks again for having me–this was so fun!


Favorite TV show: right now, THE CROWN on Netflix. Love anything to do with royalty!

Last movie you saw: DR. STRANGE. God I love Benedict.

Favorite Food: Right now? A great cup of coffee first thing.

Favorite Dessert: Definitely cake. Preferably from a box, with icing from a can. YUM.

Dark or Milk Chocolate: Milk chocolate all the way! Reese’s are my favorite.

Favorite Celebrity Crush: Right now I’m digging Sergio Ramos, a super hot Spanish soccer player. Google him. You won’t be sorry.

Last Vacation Destination: Colorado for some skiing.

Last book you read: EVERYTHING I LEFT UNSAID by Molly O’Keefe. So.damn.good.

Do you have any pets: Yes! Last year we got a Goldendoodle puppy named Martha Bean. Now I’m that crazy dog lady who treats her dog like a human. She’s the best writing companion ever!

Thank you Jessica for taking the time to answer our questions. Congratulations on the release of LESSONS IN LETTING GO


Giveaway Black and Lime

Jessica Peterson is graciously offering an ecopy of LESSON IN LETTING GO-book 3 in her Study Abroad series to three (3) lucky commenters at The Reading Cafe.

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9.. Giveaway runs from December 12-16, 2016

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More Than Anything by Kimberly Lang – Review, Interview & Giveaway

More Than Anything by Kimberly Lang – Review, Interview & Giveaway

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More Than AnythingAmazon / B&N / Kobo / BAM / Book Depository

The small, waterfront town of Magnolia Beach, Alabama, gets its fair share of tourists breezing in and out, but one handsome visitor might just be tempted to stay…
Running the Bay Breeze marina means Shelby Tanner is used to fielding strange requests from vacationers, but she is still less than amused when she gets a call in the middle of the night to rescue a boat stranded nearby. The clueless sailor is infuriatingly inexperienced—yet also frustratingly attractive.
Architect Declan Hyde only planned on stopping in Alabama briefly on his move from Chicago to Miami, but Magnolia Beach is proving to be more captivating than he imagined. For one thing, there’s the sweet, Southern charm. For another, there’s the stunning tomboy who rescued him from the bay and keeps invading his thoughts.
As the time draws near for Declan to weigh anchor, he begins to realize that Shelby may have saved more than his boat that night—and leaving Magnolia Beach might set his lonely heart permanently adrift…



More Than Anything by Kimberly Lang is the 3rd book in her Magnolia Beach series.  Shelby Tanner is our heroine in this book, and we met her in the first book of this series.   Shelby runs the Bay Breeze marina for her family, and she loves her job, even if she is always on call.   In the middle of the night, she gets an emergency call for help from a vacationer stranded on a boat.  Declan Hyde, our hero, is the stranger who needs to be rescued by Shelby.  Declan comes across as a loner, since people in Magnolia Beach never see him, including Shelby.  Declan is an architect, who is starting a new job in Miami in a couple of months.  His friend loaned him the boat to stay on, and Declan keeps to himself, reading and watching tv. 

Shelby finds him strange, but is determined to teach Declan how to use the controls on the boat in an emergency.  What follows is a friendship that will blossom into a scorching romance.  Both Declan and Shelby know this is short term only, but they are enjoying the benefits.  Declan, with Shelby’s persuasion, gets himself out into the town and meets all the townsfolk, including the overprotective Tanner family.  It was fun to watch Shelby’s family; especially her brother and cousins who put pressure on Declan.  In time, Declan learns more about Shelby, her life as the only Tanner girl, and her secret plans to upgrade the marina.  Of course, Shelby never thinks anyone will pay attention to her, but Declan pushes and helps her to explore the possibilities for the future of Bay Breeze marina.

As things continue to get hotter between Shelby and Declan, their feelings for each other become stronger, thereby creating problems when Declan’s job sends him away from Shelby and Magnolia Beach. Will Shelby be able to forget Declan?  Will Declan miss Shelby and Magnolia Beach?

I really loved their romance, and Lang did a fantastic job creating such a sweet storyline.  More Than Anything was a fun, sweet, enjoyable romance, and the town of Magnolia Beach remains a fun place to visit.

Reviewed by Barb

Copy provided by Publisher


Interview 1

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

Kimberly Lang


Kimberly:  Hi there! I’m so happy to be here and will endeavor to be interesting (or at least entertaining!).




TRC:  Would you please tell us something about yourself?

Kimberly:   I’m a Sagittarius. I have a close, personal relationship with tea. I humor my dog’s neuroses a little too much sometimes. The Nerd Wars rage in my home (Liberal Arts Nerd vs. Science/Tech Nerd), and I think I am losing.  I love the soundtrack to The Little Mermaid.

TRC:  Did you always have an interest in writing?  When and how did you first start writing?

Kimberly:  Like many English majors, I always threatened to write a book, and I always said that book would be a romance. Although I’ve been telling myself stories for years, I didn’t start writing those stories until I was in my 30s. I guess it took a while for me to work up the courage. I have a background in dance, so I was already familiar with the idea of being “good, but not good enough,” and I think that worry held me back for a while. I finally submitted my first manuscript in 2004 and sold (a completely revised version of it) in 2008.

TRC:  More Than Anything, the 3rd book in your Magnolia Beach series, was released on Tuesday.   For our members who have not read this series, can you tell us the premise of the Magnolia Beach?

Kimberly:  It’s the lives and times of the good people of Magnolia Beach, a small town on the Alabama coast, where the men are all ridiculously good-looking — and single — Alpha males.  

TRC:  How did you come up with the idea of Magnolia Beach, and how many books are you planning for this series?

Kimberly:  The Magnolia Beach books give me the chance to celebrate everything I love about the South and poke fun at it, too. It’s all rooted in truth, so there’s both freedom and joy in writing what I know. As for how many books… Well, there are more stories to tell, so if the readers are willing to read them, I’ll be happy to write them.

TRC:  Can you please give us a brief description of More Than Anything?

Kimberly:  This is Shelby Tanner’s story, the one girl in a generation of Tanner boys, who meets a handsome recluse who’s only in town for a short while. He needs something to believe in, and she needs someone to believe in her.

TRC:  You write Contemporary Romance. Have you thought about writing in other genres?

Kimberly:  I read in many genres, especially historical, and while I toy with the idea occasionally, I don’t think I’ll try.  I love contemporary too much and have too much fun writing it to do anything else.

TRC:  What is your writing process?  Do you like to outline your story before you start? Do you have a specific place you like to write?  Is there a special time of day that works best for you?

Kimberly:  I am learning to outline. I’m not great at it yet, but I’m trying. For the most part, I write in the mornings, either at my desk (with Cupid snoring behind me under the printer) or curled up in the recliner. Wherever I am, I have to have my tea. 🙂

TRC:  What books, authors or people in your life have influenced your writing? 

Kimberly:  Professionally, I’m fortunate to have a supportive group of writer friends who offer both great advice and support and are definitely an influence. Creatively, Jenny Crusie, Julia Quinn, Julie Garwood, Linda Howard, and Linda Winstead Jones — that’s the kind of writer I want to be.

TRC:  When you are not writing, what other interests or hobbies do you have?

Kimberly:   I teach a combination yoga-Pilates class (it’s fun and it combats the time I spend — and the snacking I do —  in my chair). I love crossword puzzles, and one day, I am determined to learn to knit.

TRC:  Would you like to add anything else?

Kimberly:  I borrowed a song from Chapman James, a songwriter friend of mine, to use in the book because it’s perfect for Declan and Shelby’s story. “My Soul’s in Alabama” speaks to Declan because it helps him see what he’s leaving behind. It’s a beautiful song, and you can get a listen here: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/chapmanjames2



Favorite Food: Anything Mexican (please add extra guacamole).

Favorite Dessert:  Lemon things — lemon icebox pie, lemon bars, lemon cake with glaze…

Favorite TV ShowRight now, Jane the Virgin and Reign. I’m binging Reign on my own — it’s got royals and drama and romance and intrigue — and Jane the Virgin is something I’m watching with my daughter. It’s both campy and sweet, and we’re addicted.

Favorite Movie or TV Celebrity: Dame Maggie Smith.  She’s a genius in everything.

Favorite Fictional Character (not your own):  I’m loving Matthew from Jane the Virgin right now. He’s a sweet beta in an Alpha job and role. He screws up, but he owns it and his love for Jane is never in question.

Milk or Dark Chocolate:  Milk. I feel that dark requires a maturity I don’t have.

Dog or Cat:  It would break my Cupid’s heart for me to say anything other than dog.

TRC:  Thank you Kimberly, for taking the time to answer our questions.  We wish you the best of luck with More Than Anything

Kimberly:  My pleasure! Thanks for having me!

If you want to learn more about Kimberly Lang, you can check out the following links:
Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads


Kimberly’s publisher is offering a paper copy of MORE THAN ANYTHING to ONE (1) lucky commenter at The Reading Cafe.

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9. Giveaway runs from December 8 –12, 2016