Highlander Entangled (Highland Adventure #9) by Vonda Sinclair-Review, Guest Post & Giveaway

Highlander Entangled (Highland Adventure #9) by Vonda Sinclair- Review, Guest Post & Giveaway

HIGHLANDER ENTANGLED
Highland Adventure #9
by Vonda Sinclair
Release Date: December 8,2017
Genre: adult, historical, Highland, romance

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ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date December 8,2017

Lady Kristina MacQueen suffered devastating injuries at the hands of a ruthless Highland chief, Blackburn MacCromar. Two years later, he kidnaps her for a journey across the chilly, windblown Scottish Highlands to flush out her sister, Anna—the woman Blackburn forced to wed him. Red Holme, Blackburn’s second-in-command, is equally brutal and determined to possess Kristina.

A Highland warrior and future chief, Colin Cameron has no intention of becoming entangled in the whims of another highborn lady. However, upon witnessing Lady Kristina being held hostage by the enemy, a knife to her throat, he resolves to rescue her and bring her to safety. When R

ed Holme sees Colin Cameron, he recognizes his enemy from a decade earlier and craves revenge even more than he lusts for the lady. But he is determined to have both.

Colin is the most charismatic and heroic man Kristina has ever met, and he awakens her woman’s instincts. He might be her only chance to experience a brief moment of passion. Even so, she holds no illusions about marriage, for no worthy man will find her blindness and scars appealing, or see them as beneficial traits in a wife. But she can’t see how he looks at her. Though Colin has sworn to never fall in love again, he cannot defend his heart against the strong, spirited and lovely lass who is like none other he has ever met.

••••••••••

REVIEW: 5 out of 5 for this reader folks!

FANTASTIC BOOK! I have not read any of the other books in this series, but I am very eager to dive in and perhaps get some back stories on other characters. I did not feel this took away from any enjoyment I had reading this story, it was very easy to follow.

Highlander Entangled by Vonda Sinclair is the ninth book in the “Highland Adventure” series and let me say one thing … ADVENTURE is the perfect word they could of used. A highland historical romance, you will find yourself completely immersed into the past, where men were gruff, unapologetic, prideful, egotistical, full of revenge, passionate and so much more, and the ladies made sure they have met their match. The side of sexy love completely sold me and solidified my “must read more” attitude for this author.

Lady Kristina McQueen is our leading lady and I completely adore her. She is the kind of character you will be all in with, and your heart will break a hundred times, but you deep down will know she will make it through. She is carrying many scars, both emotional and physical and this has left her blind. She is kidnapped by the man who gave her her scars to try and get to her sister. Kristina possess a strength that I am uncertain many woman can achieve in that time and under these circumstances. She is resigned to what she has been dealt with in life, and believes she is fated to live tortured and lonely. Her attitude isn’t woo is me however, she threw no pity party. She has mourned what she has gone through, but it hasn’t completely consumed her and when her leading man comes into the picture, she doesnt recognize him as her partner, but as a strength she can draw from.

Colin Cameron is the future chief of his clan, and a fierce enemy of the men that have kidnapped Kristina. When he sees her kidnapped he does right by her and gets involved. He saves Kristina from more than physical harm, he saves her from a future of loneliness. Colin is the real deal. He is a good man, cares strongly but is no pushover. He is enchanted by this woman that has crossed his path and while there are certain attributes that a chiefs wife must possess, he doesn’t seem to give two cares about it. He is protective and loving of Kristina, and she openly embraces this caring and love and finds herself returning it.

This book is full of adventure and emotion. You will feel like you have been on the most intense roller coaster ride of your life, and I as an emotional read love that! Vonda is an excellent historical romance author and I say this because she writes vivid images and makes me feel like you have been thrown back in time, living this story with the characters.

I am very interested in reading more from Vonda, and certainly am going to go back and snag this series. I am completely impressed and really looking forward to more!

HAPPY READING! 🙂

Copy supplied for review

Reviewed by Rachel T.

Researching on Location in Scotland
By Vonda Sinclair

There’s nothing I like better than exploring castle ruins in the remote areas of Scotland. On one such research trip, I drove 25+ miles beyond Glenfinnan with my friends to visit Castle Tioram. We passed through sparsely populated, wild areas with amazing scenic beauty, and drove along narrow winding roads, most of them single track. There were a few houses, crofts, and tiny villages or communities here and there. The drive took twice as long as it should have because we had to stop several times along the way for photo ops. We passed lochs, mountains, and old bridges. We could’ve seen the Jacobite steam train (aka “Hogwarts Express”) if we’d been willing to linger in a certain spot long enough. We didn’t, but we did see the train the next day as it passed over the Glenfinnan Viaduct.
We wanted to get to Castle Tioram (pronounced Cheeram) as quickly as possible. This is a privately owned castle in a dangerously ruinous state. It was unsafe for us to go inside because of the hazards of possible falling stones from the masonry. But what a spectacular location! The castle sits on a small island called Eilean Tioram (meaning ‘the dry island’ in Gaelic) in Loch Moidart near where the River Shiel empties into it.
I had craved visiting this castle for years, from the first time I saw a photo of it online. It had always captured my imagination. I wanted to use it in a story but was unsure how until I started writing My Captive Highlander.

When I was writing a shipwreck (or technically a galley wreck) scene for the story, I thought, okay, where could the hero’s galley crash during the storm and where could he be taken hostage and tossed into the dungeon? It needed to be on the west coast of Scotland somewhere between Inveraray and Isle of Skye. I decided that even though my castle would have a fictitious name, Bearach Castle, I would base it on Castle Tioram, a MacDonald stronghold back through history. And the heroine would be a MacDonald—the chief’s sister. About twenty years earlier in actual history, the hero’s clan, the MacKenzies, had experienced a conflict and a battle with these MacDonalds. Perfect for drama, conflict and action.

I’ve since set two more books there including Highlander Unbroken and, my newest, Highlander Entangled. Highlander Unbroken features the new chief of the MacDonald clan, Neacal, while Highlander Entangled features his friend and foster brother, Colin Cameron, as the hero. All three stories are stand-alone but are linked.
Castle Tioram occupies a place, near the River Shiel, which was strategic for Scotland’s defense centuries ago, because it allowed easy travel by boat toward the Great Glen and the center of Scotland, along Loch Shiel and other inland lochs. Even during the Iron Age, long before the current castle, this site was important. Artifacts from the time have been found. There is also much evidence of Vikings’ presence in the area during medieval times. The beaches around the island would’ve been ideal for sheltering galleys, ships and other boats.

Even though I couldn’t explore the inside of the castle, I walked almost all the way around it. In some areas I was close enough to touch it, but in other areas I had to climb rocks or walk along the sea loch’s shore and view it from a distance. It was a nice, sunny day and I took several hundred photos. Because I was able to explore the rough and rocky terrain around the castle, I could accurately describe it in many of my books’ scenes, including battle scenes. I absolutely love to bring the readers fully into my scenes and make them feel a part of the story.

Vonda Sinclair writes wildly romantic Highland adventures about brave Highland warriors and their unconventional ladies. She takes readers back through the mists of time into a different world—17th century Scotland.

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Vonda Sinclair is the USA Today bestselling author of award-winning Scottish historical romance novels and novellas. Her favorite pastime is exploring Scotland and taking photos along the way. She especially loves ancient castle ruins! She also enjoys writing about hot Highland heroes, unconventional ladies and the healing power of love. Her series are the Highland Adventure Series and the Scottish Treasure Series. Her books have won the National Readers’ Choice Award, the CRW Award of Excellence, the Winter Rose Award of Excellence in Published Romantic Fiction–1st Place Historical, and an EPIC Award. She lives in the mountains of North Carolina where she is crafting another adventurous, wildly romantic Scottish story. Please visit her website at www.vondasinclair.com

Vonda Sinclair is graciously offering a paper copy of MY CAPTIVE HIGHLANDER to ONE lucky commenter at The Reading Cafe.

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Edge of Darkness by Karen Rose – Review, Interview & Giveaway

Edge of Darkness by Karen Rose – Review, Interview & Giveaway

 

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Description:
Homicide detective Adam Kimble is no stranger to battling demons. But Meredith Fallon is a different kind of weakness: one that could actually be good for him, if only he would let himself depend on her. Meredith has loved Adam for a year, and seeing how hard he’s worked to deal with his PTSD makes her feelings only stronger, but she respects his needs. Her work keeps her busy anyway: she counsels sexually abused women like Mallory Martin to help them reintegrate into the world.

But someone doesn’t want Meredith helping women like Mallory, and Meredith finds herself in the crosshairs of a very determined killer. Adam would risk anything for her, but they’ll soon find out she isn’t the only target…

 

Review:

Edge of Darkness by Karen Rose is the 4th book in her Cincinnati series.  I have read a few books by Rose, but not in this series.  The last book I had read I noted that it was one of the best thrillers of the year, and now in 2018 I can say the same. Wow, what awesome thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat throughout.  Karen Rose has now become a must read for me.  I have not read the previous books in the Cincinnati series, but there were so many marvelous characters that make me want to find time to read the previous 3 books.

We meet our heroine, Meredith Fallon, in the beginning as she is a child psychologist, who helps out at a special home for abused children.  Meredith has many friends that  either work at the children’s home or her police that she is very close to; as they are very protective of her, especially since she is still emotionally upset over not seeing or hearing from her ex-boyfriend, Adam. 

Adam Kimble is a top notch detective, who loves Meredith, but has intentionally stayed away from her for almost a year.  Meredith’s friends are also Adam’s, but most of them have been unhappy that he has ignored Meredith, as well as avoiding some them…but no one knows why.  Adam suffers from PTSD from watching a horrible murder, where he could not save the young girl.  Having a verbally abusive father caused Adam to secretly drink early in his younger days, and after the murder, he got worse to help him get through each day.  Unbeknownst to his friends and coworkers, is that he has been sober for almost a year, and though still emotionally damaged, he plans to try to win her back once he meets his one year goal.

Before that happens, Meredith brings one of the sexually abused young girls to a restaurant to help her become more confident in releasing her fears.  They are accosted by a young man, who threatens them, and when they fall to the floor, the young man blows up. This is just the beginning of an intense & complex murder mystery that will result in more murders, pulling in all the detectives, including Adam to find out why someone is targeting Meredith. Adam forces himself to maintain control of his emotions, as he is assigned to be main detective to investigate this case, which also brings him back into Meredith’s life. 

What follows is an amazing story that held me on the edge of my seat from start to finish.  There were so many twists and turns throughout the book, almost to the very end.  As Adam, and his team try to protect Meredith, and others who are slowly getting killed off, the intensity of the story never lessens, especially when we get closer to discovering some secrets and surprises that will escalate the investigation that puts both Adam, Meredith, a couple of the abused girls, and their detective friends, in constant danger.  Rose has created an evil villain, who is as ruthless as they come, killing anyone who gets in the way, regardless of who they are.  This is a major twist that we never saw coming until we got closer to the end. 

In between the many tense moments, we got to see Adam and Meredith learn more about each other, their past lives; their situations; their dangerous jobs; and their love for each other. What I absolutely loved about this book, was the amazing group of friends, who are mostly cops or therapists that are closely bonded to each other, with some of them having been through tough and violent cases, similar to this one.  They are all strong and smart individuals and loyal friends, who are a close knit family.  Rose has done this so well, and when you like the characters that you become invested in, it makes the story that much better.    As I said before, I now have to go back into the three earlier books to learn about them all.   

I am in awe of Karen Rose, as her books are so well written with fantastic characters, evil villains, a great couple, and a totally intense mystery that keeps you in suspense to the very end.  If you love suspense, with a touch of romance and a thriller all the way, you should be reading anything by Karen Rose. I know I will.

Reviewed by Barb

Copy provided by Publisher

 

Hi Karen. Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions today.We are always looking forward to reading about the author behind the book.

TRC: Would you please tell us something about yourself? 

Karen:  I was born and raised in the Baltimore-Washington area.  I met my husband when we were seniors in high school, over 35 years ago.  We’ve been married more than 30 years and have two adult daughters.  I’m a chemical engineer by education.  I worked for 15 years for a large consumer products company in Cincinnati and I have two patents in bulk fiber laxatives.  (Don’t ask.  Okay, ask if you want to, but don’t be grossed out by what I answer.) I’m a knitter and a reader and a Buffy fan 🙂

TRC:  LOL   I love Buffy, too.

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

Karen:  I began writing when I was an engineer traveling internationally, unable to pack enough books to last the length of my trips.  There were no ebooks back in the day and I couldn’t understand anything on the TV, so I began writing my own stories to keep myself company in all those hotel rooms away from home.  It was a hobby for nearly ten years before I sold my first book, DON’T TELL.  That was in 2001.

TRC:  Within your Romantic Suspense series, you have the Cincinnati series.  Can you give us a brief description of this series? 

Karen:  The Cincinnati series is built around the FBI/Cincinnati PD joint task force, their friends, families, as well as the families they build.  First up is the sometimes bigger-than-life Special Agent Deacon Novak, who’s transferred from Baltimore at the beginning of book one, CLOSER THAN YOU THINK.  Deacon and his heroine, psychologist Faith Corcoran, are drawn into the deadly web of a killer who has been operating out of the house Faith has just inherited for many years. 

Books two and three deal with human trafficking, labor and sex trafficking.  ALONE IN THE DARK and EVERY DARK CORNER feature Deacon’s two task force partners, Detective Scarlett Bishop (book two) and Agent Kate Coppola (book three).

Introduced in book one, Deacon’s cousin Detective Adam Kimble is having a rough time, his personality changing drastically.  No one in his circle knows why, except psychologist Meredith Fallon, in whom Adam has confided—at least part of his story.

TRC:  With Edge of Darkness released yesterday, can you please give us a brief description of this book?

Karen:  EDGE OF DARKNESS is Adam Kimble’s return to his family and to Meredith.  In the months since their first interaction he’s pulled away, avoiding her.  He’s plagued by demons, but knows that he can’t solely rely on her for his sanity or his sobriety.  Adam is an alcoholic, trying to get his life together before he feels he is good enough to invite Meredith to be part of it.  Meredith has been confused and hurt by his avoidance, but he is the first person she calls when a young man is shot and killed right in front of her—after he’d held a gun on her.  The race to catch the killer leads Adam to the dark places he’d hoped he’d escaped forever.

TRC:  You write exciting Romance Suspense Thrillers, which can be intense.  Have you ever found yourself affected by a scene?

Karen:  Many times! Often I’ll put off writing a scene because I feel awful about a character being murdered.  Sometimes I’ll group all my “villain scenes” into one day so that I can get all the intensity out at once.  I can become edgy and irritable while writing the villain scenes, so I like to do these in ways that keep me from snapping at my family :).

TRC:  Can you please tell us what you are working on now, and what you have upcoming in 2018?

Karen:  I’ve just started a new series – set in Sacramento, California!  More on this later, but I will tease a little by revealing that readers will meet mostly new characters with a few very old favorites.  Later in 2018, we’ll release DEATH IS NOT ENOUGH, Baltimore #6.  This is Gwyn and Thorne’s story – they were introduced in YOU BELONG TO ME, Baltimore #1. 
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?

Karen:  I usually binge write.  Once I get into the groove, I’ll write 18 hours a day until it’s done.  I have a place on the beach where I go to write.  It’s quiet and gorgeous and I love it there.  I’m more productive between 11pm and 6am, which is difficult because I try to sleep during the day when nobody else is sleeping.  Phones ring, dogs bark, trash trucks rumble, waking me up every time.  I wish I were a 9-5 writer!  When you are not writing, what other interests or hobbies do you have?

I read a lot! Not usually suspense, though.  I read a lot of contemporary romance.  I also travel, knit for other people because we don’t get much call for woolens in Florida, and play with my dogs.  Would you like to add anything else? Just a huge thank you for inviting me!

Thank you, Karen for answering our questions. We wish you the best of luck with Edge of Darkness.

 

 

 

Karen Rose’s publisher is graciously offering a paper copy of EDGE OF DARKNESS to ONE (1) lucky commenter at The Reading Cafe

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When the Stars Come Out by Laura Trentham – Review, Interview, Tour & Giveaway

When the Stars Come Out by Laura Trentham – Review, Interview, Tour & Giveaway

 

 

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Description:
Willa Brown never planned to stay in Cottonbloom. She was on the way to somewhere else when she landed there and found work at the Abbot brothers’ garage. . .and a sense of comfort and safety that she had never known. The same holds true for Jackson Abbott himself. With one glance in her direction, he can make Willa’s heart melt. But what begins as an unrequited crush turns into something far more powerful than Willa could have ever imagined. . .

Jackson’s most meaningful relationship has always been with his car—and he’s not afraid to admit it. Still, he can’t help but become emotionally entangled with his new star mechanic Willa, who is definitely hiding some dark secrets of her own beneath the hood. Jackson desperately wants Willa to trust him, and to seek protection in his arms. But even as the two slowly surrender to their shared attraction, the danger lurking in Willa’s past remains a stubborn obstacle. Can she open up enough to give them both a chance at having real and lasting love?

 

 

Review:

When the Stars Come Out by Laura Trentham is the 5th book in her wonderful Cottonbloom series.  I have enjoyed every book in this series, and this book is no different….I loved When The Stars Come Out.

Willa Brown, our heroine, has worked at the Abbot garage for the two years she has been in Cottonbloom.  Willa loves her job, as she grew up fixing cars, but she keeps secrets about her past life, knowing when anyone gets too close, she will run.   Jackson Abbot and the rest of the Abbot boys think highly of Willa, as one of the best mechanics.  Jackson has always befriended Willa, as his whole life is about cars, but now he begins to see her in another light.  Willa has always been attracted to Jackson, but hides how she feels.  Jackson and the family sense that Willa is hiding something, and Jackson begins to fear she will leave, and gives her a big raise to keep her.  In a short time, both will begin to spend more time out of the garage, as Jackson tries to help her, since her makeshift living quarters are bad.  When a mutt comes to Willa one day, she feeds him and earns his trust, and soon River (the mutt) will follow her to work, and the boys will also accept River. 

Soon Willa and Jackson, will act on their feelings, and a steamy romance will start.  Willa still looks over her shoulder, not trusting how happy she is with Jackson. He is determined to get her to talk and find out what she is running from.  He never thought he would fall in love, but now that he loves Willa, he will do anything to keep her.  I really did enjoy Sutton’s new friendship with Willa, and the fun of watching her help Willa dress up to attend a New Year’s Party.  When she realizes that she loves Jackson, she does reveal some truths to him, and though scared, will go back home to bring some kind of closure.  Jackson will get help from his family to find and help Willa, which was very nicely done. 

There is a side story about  the bad brother, Ford,  who is putting the garage at risk by selling his share to someone else.  This will lead to the next book, with I think Mack as the hero. 

I really loved Jackson and Willa together; as their romance was sweet, sexy and emotional.  Jackson was not only sweet and caring, but he was a hunk.  Willa was a strong, independent & likable heroine;  with some sassy humor.

When The Stars Come Out reads very well as a standalone.  It was a wonderful storyline, and great to see all the other characters that we have come to know from the previous books.   Laura Trentham once again gives us a wonderful story, great characters, fabulous couple, heartwarming small town atmosphere, and a sweet wonderful romance. You should be reading this series, and I can’t wait to return to Cottonbloom.

Reviewed by Barb

Copy supplied for review

 

Hi Laura.  Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions today.We are always looking forward to reading about the author behind the book.   

TRC:  Would you please tell us something about yourself?

Laura:  I am a former chemical engineer and stay-at-home mom who has always been an avid reader. Once my youngest started school, I needed something to occupy me. Going back to engineering wasn’t attractive because I didn’t want to put the kids in daycare if I could help it. In January 2012, I dropped the kids off at school, sat down at my computer, and started what would be An Indecent Invitation, Book 1 of my Regency romance series Spies and Lovers. Six weeks later when I triumphantly typed The End, I didn’t know what a mess it was. But I learned. And learned and learned and rewrote and rewrote that book. That book got me an agent, finaled in the Golden Heart®, and was my first manuscript to sell to a publisher. I was in my early 40s. To me it’s a lesson in reinvention and following your passion no matter how old you are. What’s more important is how hard you’re willing to work and how willing you are to learn.  

TRC: You write such wonderful romances in each book of your Cottonbloom series.  Can you give us a brief description of When the Stars Come Out, and how you continue to come up with ideas for this series. 

Laura: When the Stars Come Out is the 5th book in the Cottonbloom series but can be read as a standalone. It’s set in the Louisiana side of Cottonbloom and features Willa Brown, a female mechanic who works at Abbott Brothers Garage and Restoration. She’s hiding from her past and nurturing a crush on Jackson Abbott. Jackson is a broody loner (and twin brother of Wyatt from Leave the Night On) who finally notices Willa as more than his right-hand woman in the garage. It’s both a dream and nightmare situation for Willa who is terrified her past will put Jackson in danger.

My husband is a classic car lover and restores them in his spare time. I’ve watched many, many hours of car shows. I got the idea for the Abbott Brothers from a show called Fast and Loud which is a reality show set in a car restoration business in Texas. But I get ideas from news stories, music, and even commercials.  

TRC:  What is your writing process?  Do you like to write at specific times, in a special place? 

Laura:  Process? I don’t need no stinkin’ process! (<- Blazing Saddles reference:) I don’t do much (any) preplotting. I get an idea, which invariably includes the opening scene, and I sit down to write it. I let the story naturally unfold. This is where having a science background of logical cause and effect relationships helps. Although the discoveries along the way are exhilarating, it can also be a little scary, because I have a fear that *this time* it’s not going to work. Somehow I seem to find my way to the end of every book. I have school age kids so by necessity I write while they are in school. I’m not a writer who needs a ritual. I have an office in my house, but sometimes I like kicking back on the couch with my laptop. I actually get more words down if I’m forced out of my house (the internet is a productivity killer.) I’ll also use my phone and dictate while I’m in car line if I get behind. Basically, I prescribe to the Tim Gunn Make It Work mantra. 

Thank you, Laura for answering our questions. The Reading Café wishes you the best of luck with When the Stars Come Out

 

 

Willa glanced down and back up at Jackson through her lashes. The gentle, flirtatious look hit him like a punch. This time his heart kicked like he might require someone to call 911. “Do I clean up good?”
He knew what she wanted to hear and later, in the dark solitude of his bed, he’d tell her and, even better, show her. But, for now, he tempered his response, hoping to get a rise out of her. “Not bad.”
She stepped forward and punched his arm. It might have stung if she hadn’t tipped to the side as her fist made contact. Her eyes popped wide and a little huff escaped. With reaction times honed on the racetrack, he wrapped his arm around her waist, bringing her flush with his body.
“You sure you know how to operate those shoes?” This time he couldn’t keep the smile off his face.
“They don’t require a license. And I was doing fine until you showed up.”
Her admission made him feel slightly better. He wasn’t the only one who was off balance. Her body notched into his perfectly with the added inches the heels lent her. His focus dropped from her sparking eyes to her mouth. Maybe he’d kiss the gloss off them right now. His lips hovered an inch from hers. So close he could feel the ramp-up of her breathing. Or was that his breathing spinning out of control?

An award-winning author, Laura Trentham was born and raised in a small town in Tennessee. Although, she loved English and reading in high school, she was convinced an English degree equated to starvation. She chose the next most logical major—Chemical Engineering—and worked in a hard hat and steel toed boots for several years.

She writes sexy, small town contemporaries and smoking hot Regency historicals. KISS ME THAT WAY, Cottonbloom Book 1, won the Stiletto Contest for Best Long Contemporary and finaled in the National Readers Choice Award. THEN HE KISSED ME, Cottonbloom Book 2, was named an Amazon Best Romance of 2016 and was a finalist for the National Excellence for Romance Fiction. TILL I KISSED YOU, Cottonbloom Book 3, is a finalist in the Maggie contest. LEAVE THE NIGHT ON, the latest Cottonbloom book, was named an iBooks Best Book of the Month and a Recommended Read from NPR.

When not lost in a cozy Southern town or Regency England, she’s shuttling kids to soccer, helping with homework, and avoiding the Mt. Everest-sized pile of laundry that is almost as big as the to-be-read pile of books on her nightstand.

 

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Then He Kissed Me, Book 2
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Still Me by JoJo Moyes – Review, Q&A & Giveaway

Still Me by JoJo Moyes – Review, Q&A & Giveaway

 

 

Still Me
Me Before You series – Book #3
by JoJo Moyes

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Description:
Louisa Clark arrives in New York ready to start a new life, confident that she can embrace this new adventure and keep her relationship with Ambulance Sam alive across several thousand miles. She is thrown into the world of the superrich Gopniks: Leonard and his much younger second wife, Agnes, and a never-ending array of household staff and hangers-on. Lou is determined to get the most out of the experience and throws herself into her job and New York life within this privileged world.

Before she knows what’s happening, Lou is mixing in New York high society, where she meets Joshua Ryan, a man who brings with him a whisper of her past. In Still Me, as Lou tries to keep the two sides of her world together, she finds herself carrying secrets–not all her own–that cause a catastrophic change in her circumstances. And when matters come to a head, she has to ask herself Who is Louisa Clark? And how do you reconcile a heart that lives in two places?

 

 

Review:

Still Me by JoJo Moyes is the 3rd book in her Me Before You series. We once again get to follow Louisa (Lou) on a new adventure that takes her to New York.  Her friend, Nathan, gets her a job being the assistant to the wife of a wealthy family (Gropniks).  From the start, Lou is excited to arrive in New York City, and at is very bubbly and talkative when she is at the customs check point.  Nothing changes for Lou, as she is as sweet and adorable as ever.  Though she leaves her boyfriend, Sam behind in England for a year, she is very much looking forward to enjoying the sights and fun of NY. 

Lou begins her job working for Agnes Gropnik, who wants Lou to go with her everywhere, even pretending to others that she is a friend.  Agnes is a polish immigrant who marries the very rich, and lives in the world of high society; with Lou helping her to be more confident.  Agnes will have Lou do things for her that will come back and haunt her later.

When given the chance to go home for a short visit, she catches Sam with another lady, and is destroyed by his betrayal.  She refuses to talk to him, and goes back to NY quickly.  Lou will meet a handsome young man (Joshua), who resembles Will (her ex who died), and together they form a friendship, that will eventually lead to an affair.  Just when she makes friends, and is happy on the job, she is fired for something she did not do.

Luckily, she goes to the aid of an older woman next door to the Gropniks, who was rushed to the hospital after a fall.  Lou will accept the lady’s request to stay at her house, and take care of the dog (Dean Martin lol), and in time the woman will come home and Lou will remain to take care of her too.

What follows is a story that has Lou going through various different emotions throughout.  Her contentment with the first job, then the betrayal of Agnes and loss of job, then happiness working for the older woman, which also opens the door to learn more about fashion.  We also get to see her relationship take a turn with Joshua, that make her realize that intermingling with the rich is not her; she does need to discover the real Louisa Clark.

Through her ups and downs, she will come to realize that she still truly loves Sam. Will Lou allow Sam back into her life and trust him?  Will Lou stay in New York or go back home to England?

I did enjoy Still Me by JoJo Moyes, as it was a refreshing and continuous look at a wonderful heroine, who won our hearts way back in Me Before You.  I do suggest that if you have not read this series, to start with the first book.

Reviewed by Barb

Copy provided by Publisher

 

Q&A with Jojo Moyes, author of STILL ME
(Pamela Dorman Books/Viking)

In STILL ME, you bring Louisa Clark, the beloved character you created in Me Before You, to New York City. Why the transatlantic journey?

I really wanted to stretch Louisa in a place where she would be out of her depth. What’s one of the wildest, most metropolitan places you could land a small-town girl? The heart of Manhattan. I have spent a lot of time in the US over the past five years and most trips begin with some time in New York so I have long been viewing the city through alien eyes myself. It’s tough, exciting, challenging, and unforgiving and enormous fun. The perfect backdrop for Lou’s adventure.

NYC is far from Lou’s home in Stotfold, England—what was your research process for finding the places and experiences that Lou enjoys in the Big Apple?

As well as the time I spend on work trips, I came out in October and did a week’s solid research.  I tried to do all the things that I put Lou through—except sleep in a horrible hotel with bedbugs! A friend got me into one of the really exclusive apartment buildings overlooking Central Park, which was invaluable, and the owner then put me in touch with a very experienced realtor who gave me chapter and verse on the realities of living in one of these places. It’s VERY specific, in the same way that it would be if you were a North or South Londoner, and it was important to me that I didn’t get things horribly off-key.


Reading STILL ME is like catching up with an old friend. How did it feel to revisit the story of Lou Clark and some of the other familiar characters, such as Treena and Ambulance Sam?

I absolutely love writing Louisa. By now she does feel like an old friend. It’s really hard sometimes to find your way into a character, and with her it’s like slipping on your favorite clothes. I know her. I know how she would react to any given circumstance. She’s genuine and funny and a bit daft. But what was fun in this book was to really push her forward a bit. She grows up a lot, especially in the last third of the book. I think like many of us she is really still working out who she is.

One character remarks that New York suits Lou. What is it about Lou that makes you want to take her on new experiences? Why do you think she resonates with readers?

I think Lou is very identifiable for a whole raft of people. In Me Before You, it was about being aware that life had somehow slipped away from you and reaching an age and finding yourself leading a very small life—and not being entirely sure how you got there or whether you even wanted to be somewhere else. But in After You a lot of readers seemed to identify with her grieving process—the difficulty of everybody else expecting you to move on and be cheerful and outgoing when you really don’t feel like that at all. Most importantly, Lou is someone who really tries to do the right thing—but often does the wrong thing—which I think makes her like an awful lot of us…

Class divide is a major theme in your books—Lou often finds herself in circles far different from her working-class upbringing, with employment to the Traynors in Me Before You and the Gopniks in STILL ME. Why is this dichotomy important to you and in your writing?

I think in this book it’s much less class than money. All good narratives thrive on tension, and if you push together rich and poor or upper and working class then you have an inbuilt tension in your story. It’s a growing issue in society—the polarization of money and opportunity—and for most people we will only ever have our noses pressed against the window.

At the same time, I think a lot of us now have the lives of very rich people broadcast to us daily—whether they be Kardashians or movie stars, on Instagram or via other social media, which makes that difference more obvious. With Lou, I wanted to ask how it would feel to step into one of those lives.

There is a thread in STILL ME about a public library on the brink of closing in Washington Heights. What significance does the library play in your life and why is it important in the story?

I am passionate about libraries—they are one of the few cost-free resources that offer people not just shelter but the chance to entertain or improve themselves. I spent some time at a library in a very mixed area of Washington Heights where I saw quite how many different functions the public library performed—from a learning opportunity to a safe place, to somewhere people could make job applications, or just escape from their lives for a while. It really worries me how hard libraries are being squeezed in both the UK and the US. There are so few places that don’t require a financial transaction, that really are just about the joy of learning. Once they are gone we won’t get that resource back again.

Another prominent theme in STILL ME is the struggle for women to “have it all.” Louisa finds herself between the pull of New York high society and her life in England; Mrs. De Witt was torn between her fashion career and family life; Agnes struggled to maintain her old friendships after marrying into wealth. Why is a woman’s unique balance to play many roles in life while staying true to herself important to discuss?

When I was a girl I assumed I was the equal to any boy and that I would be treated the same as an adult. For the most part that was the case—until I had children, at which point I discovered that there is always a choice to be made, always a compromise, and that in most cases that belongs to the woman. I’m lucky enough to have a husband who supports my work and does his best to be an equal partner in all ways—but I am a rarity. I know elderly women who had to give up their careers to follow their husbands, and I know younger women who gave up their jobs because their partners couldn’t be home for the children. I hope that one day we can find a way to make this a little more equitable. It’s good for men, too!

Fashion is a significant element in Lou’s story, notably the red dress and bumblebee tights in Me Before You. In STILL ME, Louisa becomes involved with an East Village vintage emporium, and Mrs. De Witt is revealed as a former fashion magazine editor. What is your interest in this world?

Well, most of my friends would laugh at the idea that I was massively interested in fashion. My default uniform is shirt, jumper, jeans, boots. I rarely wear anything else. But it feels like such an integral part of Louisa’s character, and over the past few years I have discovered a love of vintage clothes. I have a number of vintage outfits—and suppliers—and I find them so much more enjoyable, both to buy and wear, than just a chain boutique. It’s partly textural—the work that goes into some of these older clothes—beading, cutting, stitching—is just beautiful. Even I can appreciate it!

In a couple of your books, including STILL ME, you created dogs that, much like your human characters, have distinct personalities and quirks. Why do your animal characters receive such prominent roles?

I guess because animals are such a fundamental part of my own family. We joke that if we didn’t have our animals we’d have nothing to talk about. All our animals have distinct voices that we use for them (for some reason Eric, our shorthair cat, has a Spanish accent, whereas BigDog, our rescue Pyrenean, has a more lugubrious tone). I think anybody who has close contact with an animal knows that they have just as much personality and just as many expressions as humans do. If I’m writing one into a story, I can’t see why it shouldn’t have a fully formed character in the way that a human does.

Your books always evoke a wide range of human emotion—on one page, you leave readers laughing out loud and on the next, reduce them to tears. Is it a difficult process to combine such an accurate portrayal of the comedies and tragedies of life? How do you create such deep characters and storylines?

Thank you! I consider that an enormous compliment. I guess it comes from the fact that I try to write the books I like to read—and if a book can make me laugh or cry then that author earns my undying loyalty. The key to writing them, I think, is that both laughter and tears have to come from a place that is honest—something that feels true to the character. If I know the character then as I write their experiences I feel what they are feeling—it then becomes easier to translate that emotion onto the page.

What was the Me Before You movie experience like? If you were to cast STILL ME, who do you see playing some of the new main characters?

Writing and being part of the filming of Me Before You was, without doubt, the best—and most challenging—experience of my professional life. I was on the steepest learning curve and I worked flat out for months. But I loved the cast and crew and the director, producers and I are still good friends, so it never really felt like work.

If I were to cast STILL ME I would obviously want Emilia Clarke to return as Lou. And having Sam Claflin as Josh would be a lovely way of bringing him back in! I have no idea who would play Margot—but I always saw her as looking a little like Iris Apfel, the famous NY society fashion icon.

What’s next? More adventures for Lou?

I’ve been saying no, as I would hate to be seen flogging her to death. But when I think about never writing her again I feel ridiculously sad. Maybe a short story?

 


Jojo Moyes is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of After You, Me Before You, Paris for One and Other Stories, The Horse Dancer, One Plus One, The Girl You Left Behind, The Last Letter from Your Lover, Silver Bay, and The Ship of Brides. She lives with her husband and three children in Essex, England.

 

JoJo Moyes Links:

Website Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads  / Instagram

 

 

JoJo Moyes’s publisher is graciously offering a paper copy of STILL ME to ONE lucky commenter at The Reading Cafe.

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Down by Contact (The Barons #2) by Santino Hassell-Review, Interview & Giveaway

DOWN BY CONTACT (The Barons #2) by Santino Hassell-Review, Interview and Giveaway

Down by Contact Banner

DOWN BY CONTACT
The Barons
By Santino Hassell
Release Date: January 16, 2018
Genre: adult, contemporary, erotic, M/M, football romance

Down By Contact

Amazon.com / Amazon.ca / B&N / KOBO / Chapters Indigo /

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date January 16, 2018

Simeon Boudreaux, the New York Barons’ golden-armed quarterback, is blessed with irresistible New Orleans charm and a face to melt your mama’s heart. He’s universally adored by fans and the media. Coming out as gay in solidarity with his teammate hasn’t harmed his reputation in the least—except for some social media taunting from rival linebacker Adrián Bravo.

Though they were once teammates, Adrián views Simeon as a traitor and the number-one name on the New Jersey Predators’ shit list. When animosity between the two NFL players reaches a boiling point on the field, culminating in a dirty fist fight, they’re both benched for six games and sentenced to joint community service teaching sullen, Brooklyn teens how to play ball.

At first, they can barely stand to be in the same room, but running the camp forces them to shape up. With no choice but to work together, Simeon realizes Adrián is more than his alpha-jerk persona, and Adrián begins to question why he’s always had such strong feelings for the gorgeous QB…

•••••••••

REVIEW: DOWN BY CONTACT is the second instalment in Santino Hassell’s contemporary, adult THE BARONS erotic, M/M, football romance series focusing on the professional football players of the New York Barons. This is Barons’ quarterback Simeon Boudreaux, and New Jersey Predators’ linebacker Adrian Bravo’s story line. DOWN BY CONTACT can be read as a stand alone without any difficulty. Any important information from the previous story line is revealed where necessary.

NOTE: DOWN BY CONTACT is an M/M romance story line with sexually graphic language, text and situations that may not be suitable for all readers.

Told from dual first person perspectives (Simeon and Adrian) DOWN BY CONTACT follows the enemies to lovers relationship between one-time teammates New York Baron’s quarterback Simeon Boudreaux, and New Jersey Predators’ linebacker Adrian Bravo. Following a less than stellar start with the Predators, Simeon Boudreaux was traded to the New York Baron’s where his star power is on the rise, but in the ensuing time rumors and innuendo about betrayal and playbook theft dogged our hero from the opposing team, but none more so than from one-time teammate and friend Adrian Bravo. Simeon’s recent forced ‘coming out’ prompted a firestorm of media sensation including the homophobic diatribes from a man he once call a friend. Enter Adrian Bravo, New Jersey Predator’s linebacker, and the man with whom Simeon would fall in love. A preseason, on-field brawl between our leading couple finds Simeon and Adrian facing suspension with team ordered volunteer work at a local children’s shelter. What ensues is the building relationship between Simeon and Adrian as they are forced to work together for the benefit of a children’s summer camp, and the potential threat to Adrian’s career when their relationship is revealed.

Adrian Bravo always thought he was a heterosexual male until the day he met teammate Simeon Boudreaux but Adrian had to keep up appearances in front of his team fearing rejection and ridicule at the hands of the media and his so-called friends. Social media attacks against Simeon Boudreaux quickly made Adrian an enemy in more ways than one. Simeon Boudreaux was previously ‘outed’ by several jealous fans who posted sensitive images for all to see but discovering that Adrian Bravo, quite possibly, wanted something more than a rekindling friendship brought hope to a man who was potentially looking for a happily ever after.

The relationship between Simeon and Adrian is an enemies to friends to lovers romance; a second chance friendship that continues to build as they must work together towards a common goal. The $ex scenes are intimate, erotic and intense without the use of over the top, sexually graphic language and text.My only complaint is the lack of condom usage. Although this is a story of fiction, in an era of STDs and AIDS, I believe the author ( or for that matter, everyone) has a responsibility to promote safer $ex.

We are reintroduced to Barons’ tight end Gavin Brawley, and his personal assistant Noah Monroe (Illegal Contact #1); running back Marcus Hendricks and his fiance Jasmine; and second-string quarterback Noah Monroe; Simeon’s agent Mel Hawkins’, and Adrian’s agent Casey Rose; several young teens and counselors at the Grant Street Center, Simeon’s mother Joanne Boudreaux, Adrian’s parents, as well as Adrian’s embattled teammate Rocky Swoops.

DOWN BY CONTACT is a sexy, sassy and spirited story line; an inspiring and heart warming romance about passion, perception, discrimination and love. The premise is encouraging and energetic; the romance is sensual and provocative; the characters are dynamic and realistic.

Click HERE for Sandy’s review of book one-ILLEGAL CONTACT

Copy supplied by the publisher through Netgalley

Reviewed by Sandy

Interview

TRC: Hi Santino and welcome to The Reading Café. Congratulations on the recent release of DOWN BY CONTACT.

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

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Santino HassellSantino: First of all, thank you so much for interviewing me! I guess the most succinct way to explain my background as a fiction writer is to explain that I’ve been writing since I was a teenager. As a kid, I was the type to keep journals full of songs and poetry, then it upgraded to me writing short stories about my friends and I. All of it was wishful thinking and how I wished my life was different. Later, I moved onto writing fanfiction and original fiction. Once I found out there was a whole market for queer romance, I jumped down the rabbit hole and haven’t looked back.

TRC: Who or what influenced your career in writing?

Santino: I was really influenced by writers like Jordan Castillo Price, Amy Jo Cousins, and more recently Molly O’Keefe. Writers who tackle interesting issues and perspectives with characters who have a very strong voice. Also, I’m really drawn to grittier romances about people who have to fight to get their happy endings, which is why my own writing tends to trend in that direction.

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

Santino: One of my main challenges, and I think the challenge of queer romance writers in general, is my desire for my books to not be treated as a separate subgenre because the characters aren’t straight. This isn’t something that can be changed by one person, or even a few people, but eventually I’d love for these books to be shelved right alongside M/F romance novels.

Down By ContactTRC: Would you please tell us something about the premise of DOWN BY CONTACT and The Barons series?

Santino: The premise of The Barons is essentially “troubled athletes finding love”. Book 1, Illegal Contact, saw the main character suspended and on house arrest following a public brawl, and in Down by Contact the main characters are also in hot water after getting in a fight on the field with each other. Football is such an aggressive sport filled with these athletes who are driven by competitiveness and ego that I wanted to explore that in the series.

TRC: What type of research/plotting do you do, and how long do you spend researching /plotting before beginning a book?

Santino: Before I started the Barons, I read several memoirs of athletes and agents to get an idea of how the sport works on the inside. Besides knowing what goes on during the game, I wanted to know what happens in negotiations, between players and their agents or managers, and definitely in the locker room.

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

Santino: Humans are so unpredictable as a species that sometimes the story tells itself depending on the characters I’ve created. If you start with creating characters from the ground up, with all their background, influences, and life experiences, you have totally different people who will react differently in various scenarios. So, in book 1, Gavin reacted to a friend being threatened by… chasing that person down. He was driven by loyalty and overprotectiveness. In book 2, both Simeon and Adrián are driven by competitiveness and pride—it drives them to engage in a social media feud that gets physical, and ultimately causes them to get trapped together where they take start up a sexier kind of challenge. They basically cannot help but try to one-up each other.

TRC: How did publishing your first book change your writing process?

Santino: I pretty much figured out what works for me in terms of drafting. Basically, that I NEED a detailed outline to survive a draft!

TRC: What was your hardest scene –ever–to write?

Illegal ContactSantino: Honestly, some of my most challenging scenes are always action oriented. In The Barons, writing the football scenes always end with me double checking my descriptions, rereading about fifty times, and then asking my beta readers to pay close attention to the details. I’m always terrified of getting something wrong.

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?

Santino: I definitely think it’s important to catching a reader’s attention. As a reader myself, I’m inundated by hundreds of books when I step into a bookstore or go on Amazon, so an amazing cover will stand out from the rest and grab me. After that, the blurb will be the deciding factor on whether I buy.

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

Santino: I try to direct the characters but, as trite as it sounds, they don’t always follow the script. Usually, they develop in such a way over time in the draft that their actions shift and change, and I have to revise my outline. For example, in Down by Contact, I did not initially intend for Adrián to be smitten with Simeon first, but it happened organically.

TRC: How do you select the names of your characters?

Santino: I don’t have a super scientific process. I tend to go by background, region they grew up in and their parents’ personalities, and use something believable based on all those factors.

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

Santino: Creating characters that are multi-faceted is important in that regard. Characters need their own histories, motivations, and life experiences so they feel real. In books where I’ve struggled to form an emotional connection with the characters, it was because they were two-dimensional and had no motivations other than overcoming the main conflict in the story.

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

Santino: I do listen to mood music while writing. In the past, I’ve listened to the type of music that I thought my characters would be listening to. Now, I tend to listen to something mellow and calming that won’t distract me. It usually leads to me picking a station on Spotify.

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

Santino: A misconception about me… is probably that I have a plan and know what I’m doing. Most of the time, though, I’m winging it. In terms of an overall misconception about authors—I would say many people I meet seem to believe authors just write in their spare time as a hobby. Usually people who aren’t voracious readers are the ones who make comments implying professional authors just casually pen novels on the side for fun. They have no idea how time-consuming and stressful the craft can be.

TRC: What is something that few, if anybody, knows about you?

Santino: I plan to start writing M/F romance and one day try my shot at YA!

TRC: On what are you currently working?

Santino:I’m currently starting book 3 in The Barons series—Use of Hands. You meet the hero in Down by Contact. His love interest was introduced in book 1.

TRC: Would you like to add anything else?

Santino: Thank you so much for having me! I hope everyone loves Simeon and Adrián.

LIGHTNING ROUND:

Favorite Food: Spaghetti

Favorite Dessert: Cookies

Favorite TV Show: Shameless, at the moment

Last Movie You Saw: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Dark or Milk Chocolate: Milk Chocolate

Secret Celebrity Crush: Clive Owen

Last Vacation Destination: New Orleans

Do you have any pets? 2 cats, 1 dog

Last book you read: Relay by Layla Reyne

TRC:  Thank you Santino for taking the time to answer our questions. Congratulations on your new release.

giveaway

Santino Hassell’s publisher is graciously offering a paperback ARC of DOWN BY CONTACT to ONE 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.

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9.. Giveaway runs from January 18-23, 2018

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An Interview with Fitness and Cover Model Mike Chabot at The Reading Cafe

An Interview with Fitness and Cover Model Mike Chabot at The Reading Cafe

Mike Chabot 5TRC: Hi Mike and welcome to The Reading Café.

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

Follow Mike : Instagram / Facebook-Mike Chabot Fitness / Facebook-Mike Chabot Model

Mike: I’m a 26 years old fitness model and personal trainer who devotes his life in helping others get the mindset and physique they always dreamt of. Since I can remember, I’ve always done a lot of sports; it’s always been a big part of my life. Soccer has been my main sport. I played for about 10 years and nowadays I prefer playing tennis. I’m a very competitive person. At the age of 16, I discovered at first fitness and strong man competitions. I was intrigued to know how those people could achieved such a perfect physique conditions so I started training on my own.

I always have been the kid who aspired for more in life. I definitely wanted to make a lot of money to achieve freedom. While I was studying finance and administration in college, I started a window washing company that allowed me to know that I wanted to be self-employed. After 3 year in college, I decided to drop out since I knew it wasn’t for me. I also closed my company because I realized I wasn’t happy doing something that wasn’t my passion.

Back in 2011, I was involved in a motorcycle accident that forced me to stop training for 6 month and 3 years later I still have some pain and limitations. While I was recovering from this accident, I started being interested in personal development and the ways to reach happiness. Since fitness was my passion and I wanted to be in contact with people, it just made me even more motivated to become a fitness model and personal coach. My message was clear: Training is not only about having the best shape of your life. It’s also having a strong mindset that will help you become a better person and focus on your goals.

Mike Chabot 1

Now on top of being a trainer, I am an international fitness model. I did photoshoot with clothing brand such as PUMP, Fitness revolution and more. I’m also a book cover model which and at the moment I did around 130 covers most of them are New York Times Best Seller. My goals for the future is to partnership and model for luxury brand such as Hugo Boss, Nike or other big name.

TRC: What were your dreams and aspirations growing up?

Mike: I wanna invest in technologies, learn more and build an empire in multiple niche

TRC: What first sparked your interest in modeling? Is there a defining moment where you knew that modeling was something you were interested in pursuing?

Mike Chabot duo

Mike: Well I always been interested into modeling but not conventionnal run way more like billboard or magazine and commercial so as soon as I was *famous* enough to be a public figure I started.

TRC: Have you ever had a photo shoot that went completely wrong?

Mike: Not really but yes sometimes it can be a waste of time or disorganized.

Mike Chabot 6TRC:  Nudity in modeling or acting can be controversial. Some pictures can cross the line between sexuality to pornography. What would you tell young models/actors /body builders just entering the business about nude modeling and photography?

Mike: I would tell them no never do any nude picture, you can play on the edge to tease but don’t go full nude. Even ass picture I suggest you keep it for a big role or big brand if needed.

Mike Chabot trio 1TRC: The modeling industry exposes you to many people and sometimes it can be very stressful. What do you do when the stress becomes overwhelming?

Mike: I’m not a person who has a lot of stress so I’m always good with it. I always trust the process even if I had bad decision or money problem back them. Its part of the game either you are ready to risk or you don’t play

TRC: At times, there has been a ‘stigma’ surrounding the male model and the romance-cover industry but the popularity of the romance storyline has skyrocketed in the last few years especially with the erotic and sensual cover images. What is your opinion about the recent popularity and the very busy industry of the ‘romance cover model’?

Mike Chabot duo4

Mike: Well if thats what they want I am fine with it, the life in general is more sexual than ever so why not. Sexuality is a good thing and being open about it is fine by me.

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?

Mike: Of course it does since it will give you a visual of the character you will fantasize on.

Mike Chabot 3TRC: Do you remember the first romance cover on which you appeared? Do you have a favorite?

Mike: I do have a few covers I prefer and yes I remember the first few covers I sold, damn its been a while.

TRC: Do you know the number of novel covers that your image has appeared?

Mike: Around 160-170 so far but they aren’t all published yet

TRC: What do you do to relax?

Mike: Watch tv series or movies, read or chill with my dog or friends

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

Invest in Bitcoin and help others

Master the foreign exchange

Build my personal brand to a whole new level

Play in a tv series and a movie

Travel the world and find the right person to build everything with me.

Mike Chabot 4TRC: What is something that few people know about you?

Mike: I have some OCD and I’m a gamer (love all the super heroes stuff and pc gaming)

TRC: Who or what are your inspirations?

Mike: I really love The Rock, Gary Vee, Richard brandsom, tony robbins and a few other people.

TRC: What type of music do you listen to? What songs are on your current playlist?

Mike: It always depends on my mood I love all music

TRC: On what on your currently working?

Mike: My mobile application ‘Mike Chabot’ to help even more people with the fitness lifestyle and learning BTC and FOREX

Mike Chabot duo 3

TRC: Would you like to add anything else?

Mike: Be happy and be patient life is a marathon not a sprint so don’t try to cheat the process

LIGHTNING ROUND

Favorite Food: sushi and burgers

Favorite Dessert: Now that I am lactose intolerant there are not a lot of desserts I can eat but it used to be cheesecake and chocolate cake

Favorite Movie: there are so many lol

Favorite TV Show: Suits and Game of Thrones

Last Movie that you saw: Kingsmen, The Golden Circle (wasn’t really impressed)

Secret Celebrity Crush: Celebrity I don’t really have; Instagram model I really like is Anllela Sagra

Dark or Milk Chocolate: Used to be milk but I can’t anymore

Do you have any pets? An English bulldog named Boum Boum

Pet Peeve: I can be impatient or impulsive haha

TRC: Thank you Mike for taking the time to answer our questions. Congratulations on all of your success. We look forward to seeing many more covers.

Mike Chabot duo 6

 

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Flame in the Dark by Faith Hunter – Review, Guest Post & Giveaway

Flame in the Dark by Faith Hunter – Review, Guest Post & Giveaway

 

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Flame in the Dark
Soulwood series – Book #3
by Faith Hunter
Release Date: December 5, 2017

Flame in the DarkAmazon / B&N / Kobo / BAM / Book Depository

Description:
Nell Ingram has always known she was different. Since she was a child, she’s been able to feel and channel ancient powers from deep within the earth. When she met Jane Yellowrock, her entire life changed, and she was recruited into PsyLED—the Homeland Security division that polices paranormals. But now her newly formed unit is about to take on its toughest case yet.

A powerful senator barely survives an assassination attempt that leaves many others dead—and the house he was visiting burns to the ground. Invisible to security cameras, the assassin literally disappears, and Nell’s team is called in. As they track a killer they know is more—or less—than human, they unravel a web of dark intrigue and malevolent motives that tests them to their limits and beyond.

 

 

Description:

Flame in the Dark by Faith Hunter is the 3rd book in her Urban Fantasy Soulwood series. Though this is a spinoff from Hunter’s wonderful Jane Yellowrock series, this is a totally different kind of storyline. 

Nell Ingram is our heroine, and in Flame in the Dark, we learn more about her powers.  Nell is now a member  (probie)of Psyled, a Homeland Security division that investigates paranormal cases.  Also on the PsyLED Eighteen team are two others we know from Jane Yellowrock, Rick LeFleur and Soul.  There are werewolves, witches, empaths, and even a dragon that work together.

Nell is now a more confident and stronger person, and knows she is not human, but does not know what she is.  Nell has an ability that allows her to feel and absorb the earth’s powers, to heal her or fight off enemies. By the end of Flame in the Dark, we will know exactly what Nell is. 

At the start of Flame in the Dark, the PsyLED team is called on a case where a Senator and his family have been attacked.  The team senses a paranormal element in the attacks, but cannot determine who the target is, which they originally thought was vampires.  As more attempts and murders happen, it becomes apparent that the villains are pyro’s, with the victims being burned.  Nell’s unusual ability allows her to put her hands into the earth to scent, vision or feel strange and dark vibes of something very dark and dangerous.

What follows is an intense, exciting, gripping and violent tale, where Nell will find herself in bad situations that threaten her own life.  With people dying, she will have to go above and beyond to discover who and what is causing these horrific deaths. I was so engrossed into this story, I was unable to put the book down.  Flame in the Dark was very well written by Faith Hunter.

What I also enjoyed was the team camaraderie between Nell and her team, especially as they learn more of what she is, and try to help her.   We also get to know about Nell’s younger sister, who is slowly developing the same kind of powers, which Nell wants to help her slowly learn to control.  But best of all, I loved the slow build budding romance between Occam and Nell, which we expect to become full blown in future books.

This is really a difficult review to do, as telling too much more would be spoilers.  I will say that besides being suspenseful and exciting, it was also amazing & wild to see what Nell can do.   There was so much more in this book (murder, strange fires, dark and horrific villains, and a fantastic cast of characters you enjoy the ride with), something you will need to read and find out. 

Reviewed by Barb

Copy provided by Publisher

 

Guest post-White and RedI often get asked – when you write a novel, do you start with Characters or Plot? 

Every book is different, but with the Soulwood series it was character all the way! Well, that and the big question of all writers – What If?

Early on, I knew several things about Nell:
* that she would be a cult survivor
* a woman who loved a solitary existence, off the grid, in the hills near Knoxville.
* would become a member of a paranormal team of crime solvers
* that she would solve murders committed by paranormal means
After that it was a matter of deciding on each book what crime needs to be solved and what kind of paranormal creature committed the crime.

Nell—who she is, where she comes from, how she lives, who she loves—and a conflict idea for a story, or one of those unanswered “What If” questions, all have to come together for a book to work.

I always say (and please forgive the one “teachy” note in this post): Your main character has to have at least one great strength and at least one great weakness. The weaknesses make the conflict worse, the strengths and developing strengths save the main character and resolve the plot. This is called the marriage of character development and plot conflict. (End of teachy stuff.)

In Nell’s case, she is a polygamous cult survivor in a modern day alternate reality who starts out the series trusting no one and no thing, living off the grid and making a living as a farmer. She is in danger every day by the members of the cult who want her back inside so they can get her farm and who would then burn her at the stake as a witch because she is a paranormal being. Nell lives in danger. That danger and the fact that she knows so little about the modern world are her main weaknesses.

Her strengths are her individuality, her ability to adapt and survive, and her fearlessness when it comes to protecting other potential escapees from the cult. These women include her sisters, and half-sisters. Her adaptability means that when she is asked to join a law enforcement team to hunt down criminals, she is able to take her strengths and merge in to the team.

All memorable characters have these strengths and weaknesses , and if a reader analyzes the characters, each and every one will grow through the weaknesses, as well as rely on their strengths. The character becomes a friend as you read. I hope you’ll take a chance on Nell.

Faith Hunter
www.faithhunter.net
https://www.facebook.com/#!/official.faith.hunter
Twitter at @HunterFaith

About The Author
FaithHunter1Small

Faith Hunter is the New York Times bestselling author of the Jane Yellowrock series, including Cold Reign, Shadow Rites, Dark Heir, and Broken Soul; the Soulwood series,
set in the world of Jane Yellowrock, including Curse on the Land and Blood of the Earth; and the Rogue Mage series, including Host, Seraphs, and Bloodring.

 

 

 

Giveaway

Faith’s publisher  is offering a paper copy of FLAME IN THE DARK 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

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

3. Please LIKE us on FACEBOOK and click GET NOTIFICATIONS

4. Please FOLLOW us on Twitter for an additional entry.

5. Please FOLLOW us on GOODREADS for an additional entry.

6. Follow FAITH HUNTER on Facebook.

7. Giveaway is open USA only

8. Giveaway runs from December 6 – 10, 2017

 

 

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Berkley Bookmas: Jayne Ann Krentz – Book Recommendations & Giveaway!

Berkley Bookmas: Jayne Ann Krentz – Book Recommendations & Giveaway!

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The Reading Cafe is so excited to participate in Berkley Bookmas and today we are hosting Jayne Ann Krentz with her book recommendations for Historical Mystery Lady Sleuths! Berkley Bookmas is chock full of exclusive content from some wonderful authors like exclusive excerpts, deleted scenes, author recipes and more! Check out the calendar of events below:

 

Berkley Bookmas Calendar

 

The New Lady Sleuths of Historical Mystery
By
Jayne Ann Krentz

The female detective has been around for quite a while – think Agatha Christie – but it seems to me that we are watching the rise of a new genre: the lady sleuths of historical mystery and suspense.

These unusual and intrepid heroines are women of their eras – the stories are often set in the Regency or Victorian period – but they defy the conventions of their times which is, of course, what makes them so interesting.

These are not your traditional “puzzle” mysteries nor can they be labeled “cozies.”  They are novels of intrigue and suspense featuring fully realized female characters with unique skill-sets who solve crimes, have dangerous adventures and, yes, sometimes get entangled in romantic relationships.

I’m having a fabulous time discovering new authors in this genre.  If this sounds like something you might enjoy – or if you’ve got someone on your holiday gift list who loves historical suspense and mystery – below is a selection of titles that have come to my attention.  I think they are excellent examples of the new lady sleuths of historical mystery and suspense.

 

A Curioius Beginning

 

A CURIOUS BEGINNING, by DEANNA RAYBOURN:  The first title in the Veronica Speedwell novels.  Set in Victorian England, the novels feature a delightfully outrageous heroine with an intriguing past who is a professional butterfly hunter and a fearless sleuth.

 

 

 

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A STUDY IN SCARLET WOMEN by SHERRY THOMAS:  This series features a real twist on the Sherlock Holmes legend – meet the fascinating and very unique Charlotte Holmes.

 

 

 

Beauty Like the Night

 

 

BEAUTY LIKE THE NIGHT by JOANNA BOURNE:  A novel in Bourne’s terrific Spymaster series set against the backdrop of Napoleonic France and Regency England.  Lush, elegant, well-researched and romantic.

 

 

 

DeathBelowStairs

 

DEATH BELOW STAIRS by Jennifer Ashley
Kat Holloway is a cook who takes a position in a Mayfair mansion and soon finds herself immersed in the odd household of Lord Rankin. Kat can deal with the family’s eccentricities as long as the various members of the clan stay away from her kitchen.  But murder below stairs changes everything.

 

 


City of Lies

 

CITY OF LIES by VICTORIA THOMPSON
The first in the A Counterfeit Lady series featuring Elizabeth Miles, a woman on the run.  Here’s the setup:  Elizabeth has some unusual skills and she uses them to relieve so-called respectable men of their ill-gotten gains. But she has recently outwitted a brutal man who has sent his thugs after her.

 

 

 

The Anatomist's Wife

 

THE ANATOMIST’S WIFE by ANNA LEE HUBER
Scotland, 1830.  Following the death of her husband, Lady Darby has taken refuge at her sister’s estate, finding solace in her passion for painting. But when her hosts throw a house party for the cream of London society, Kiera is unable to hide from the ire of those who believe her to be as unnatural as her husband, an anatomist who used her artistic talents to suit his own macabre purposes.
That’s my starter list.  I’d love some more suggestions from you.  Got a title or author working in this new genre you’d like to recommend?

Wishing you the best of the holidays and a sparkling New Year!

Sincerely,

Jayne

 

About The Author
Jayne Ann Krentz

Jayne Ann Krentz is the author of more than fifty New York Times bestsellers, including the upcoming romantic thriller Promise Not to Tell. Jayne has written contemporary romantic suspense novels under that name, as well as historical and futuristic romance novels under the pseudonyms Amanda Quick and Jayne Castle, respectively. Learn more at jayneannkrentz.com and connect with her on facebook.com/JayneAnnKrentz.

 

 

 

Giveaway

Berkley Bookmas is graciously offering a giveaway of one $100 Visa gift card, and a book/galley/bound manuscript by each of the authors participating.

Click this link to enter giveaway: http://bit.ly/2zlFxAq

For tomorrow’s fun, head to one of the following blogs:

 

 

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