Laurel Heights by Denise Moncrief – Review, Interview & Giveaway

Laurel Heights by Denise Moncrief – Review, Interview & Giveaway

Laurel Heights Banner


laurel heights

Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / Smashwords

A dark cloud of deceit hovers over her family tree…

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

Her past trails her to the mountains of Arkansas…

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

Unexplained disturbances shatter her hopes of a normal life…

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reviewed by Georgianna

Copy provided by Promoter



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

TRC: Please tell us about yourself

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TRC:  What are you currently working on?

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

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

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

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

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

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

TRC:  Would you like to add anything else?

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


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



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

FAVORITE TV SHOW: Criminal Minds



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

Denise: Thank you!


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

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

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

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Amazon



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

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

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

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

4. LIKE us on Twitter


6. LIKE Denise Moncrief on FACEBOOK

7. Giveaway is open Internationally

8 Giveaway runs from September 28- October 3, 2014



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

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

The Frost Maiden's Kiss Banner

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

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

About the book: Release Date June 15, 2014

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Copy supplied by the author.

Reviewed by Sandy


The True Love Bride Series:

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Reviewed by Sandy

Interview blue:black

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

DeborahCooke_smDeborah: Thank you!

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

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

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

TRC: Who or what influenced your career in writing?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

True Love Brides

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dragonfire Series

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Chained by Night by Larissa Ione – Review, Interview & Giveaway

Chained by Night by Larissa Ione – Review, Interview & Giveaway


Chained by Night Banner

Chained by NightAmazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / The Book Depository / BAM


Leader of the vampire clan MoonBound, Hunter will do what he must to save his people from extinction—or worse, a torturous eternity as vampire slaves and subjects of human experimentation.To keep his enemies at bay, he has agreed to mate a rival clan leader’s daughter in return for peace between the clans and an ally in the looming war with the humans.


But survival comes at a price. First, Hunter must break an ancient curse by successfully negotiating three deadly tests. Then he must resist the searing passions of the gorgeous vampire warrior he despises but is bound to mate. Will Hunter stay true to his word? Or will he risk everything for the woman he really loves: the vampire seductress’s identical twin sister?



 5 out of 5 for this reader folks!

 EEEEEEE … Larissa Ione rocks my paranormal romance, sexy vamp world. She always gives the right amount of grit, language, wit, angst, action and yummy “oh you make my toes curl”. I have come to expect to be a pile of goo by the time I have read the last word of any of her novels and this one is no exception.

Chained by Night is Larissa Ione‘s second book in her “Moonbound Clan Vampire” series and revolves around the clan leader Hunter and an opposing clan’s daughter Ailyn. Vampires and humans continue to battle one another and in order to remain strong, Hunter agrees to mate with the enemy and take one for the team. Dreading this union and filled with hate, Hunter is suppose to mate Rasha who just so happens to be Ailyn’s twin “real piece of work” sister. It is when he meets Ailyn however, that he believes he can turn a crummy situation into a yummy one!

Ailyn … oh sweet Ailyn! Born the second twin with a deformity, she has had it so rough. Extremely slighted since birth, she has managed to keep her head above water and live her life as best as she can. Always in the shadow of her perfect terribly bitchy mean twin sister, Ailyn always rises above it all and shows a strength that makes Hunter’s heart go pitter patter.

In the midst of quests that need to be completed in this dark and blood soaked world Larissa Ione has created, we experience a warrior spirit come into bloom. Sheer intelligence, true determination/will, and ultimate true love kept me completely engaged in this storyline. The cold was cold but man was the hot HOT. My emotions were completely invested and I am so impressed with the fresh approach to the creation of this vampire world!

The pacing was incredible, the paranormal truly paranormal (the characters and creatures created will blow your mind), and the love story hot and sweet. Twists and turns and WTF moments are weaved into the action and you will find a picture perfect image in your mind as you engage in each page. This second book can be read alone I suppose, but you will miss out of so much if you skip the first book. If you are a paranormal fan, you haven’t indulged until you indulge in a Larissa Ione experience. SERIOUSLY! LOL


Reviewed by Rachel

Copy provided by Publisher



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

Thank you for having me!   

TRC:  Please tell us about yourself?  

Larissa:  I’m a mom, a wife, a veteran, an author, an animal lover…gosh, I could keep going, but I don’t want to bore anyone!   

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Pinterest


TRC:  When and how did you become interested in writing? Have you always liked to write?

Larissa:  I’ve always been a writer…like, since I could hold a pencil. Even when I wasn’t actively writing, I was always thinking up stories in my head. I can’t pinpoint what, exactly, got me interested in writing – I think it was just the fact that I’ve always been an avid reader.  

TRC:  You are an Air Force veteran and former meteorologist. Have you been able to use these experiences in writing your stories?

Larissa:  Absolutely. A lot of my characters are either military or ex-military, and the first book in the ACRO series I write as Sydney Croft with Stephanie Tyler was all about the weather. Riding the Storm was very much steeped in meteorological mayhem!   

TRC:  Can you please tell us the premise of your The Moonbound Clan Vampires series, and how you came up with the idea? Also, how many books do you plan for this series?

Larissa:  The MoonBound Clan Vampires series is about a world in which vampires are far outnumbered and outgunned by humans, which has led to an imbalance (and abuse) of power in favor of the humans. In this world, vampires are struggling to survive, and the fact that they fight among themselves isn’t helping matters. As for how I came up with the idea, the spark manifested from the 2009 Ethan Hawke movie, Daybreakers, which was set in a slightly futuristic world in which a virus turned humans into vampires, and vampires took over the world. I flipped that premise on its head…I have a virus that creates vampires, but humans developed a vaccine and weapons, and thanks to that, humans have enslaved the vampire race. I’m not sure how many books there will be – I have four planned for sure. We’ll see where it goes from there!   

Chained by NightTRC:  Chained by Night is the 2nd book of this series. Can you please give us a brief description of this book?

Larissa:  Sure! Here’s the official blurb: 

Leader of the vampire clan MoonBound, Hunter will do what he must to save his people from extinction—or worse, a torturous eternity as vampire slaves and subjects of human experimentation. To keep his enemies at bay, he has agreed to mate a rival clan leader’s daughter in return for peace between the clans and an ally in the looming war with the humans.

But survival comes at a price. First, Hunter must break an ancient curse by successfully negotiating three deadly tests. Then he must resist the searing passions of the gorgeous vampire warrior he despises but is bound to mate. Will Hunter stay true to his word? Or will he risk everything for the woman he really loves: the vampire seductress’s identical twin sister?  

RevenantTRC:  Revenant is scheduled for a December release. It is the 11th book in your Demonica series. For those you are new to this series, can you give us a brief description?

Larissa:  Revenant is about a an angel who believed he was a fallen angel for thousands of years, but recent events have revealed the truth and unlocked memories he wishes he could forget. Complicating matters is a gorgeous doctor at Underworld General who fascinates him…and who he needs to help him navigate the battles he faces as evil once more tries to destroy everything that’s good in the world. 


TRC:  You write under the pseudonym of Sydney Croft with Stephanie Tyler. How did this partnership come about, and can you give us a brief description of this series, ACRO WORLD?

Larissa:  Stephanie and I started writing together after my family lost everything in Hurricane Katrina. I’d given up on writing, and she sort of forced me back into it by writing a scene and then sending it to me…with instructions to write the next scene. I did, and together we put together a series about a group of people with special abilities who use their talents to battle evil all over the world. Think: the X-Men meets erotic romance!

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

Larissa:  Honestly, I have no process. I just sit down and write. I do write best in the early morning and late night, but other than that…there’s nothing special I do.  

TRC:  Is there anything (in general) you find particularly challenging about writing?

Larissa:  Trying to figure out what readers will like. I swear, I can’t predict anything! I think that’s the biggest challenge – toughing out the unknowns. You just never know how readers and reviewers are going to like a book.

TRC:  Is there any other genre besides paranormal/ romance that you would like to try?
Horror and science fiction!   What are you currently working on?

Larissa:  I’m plotting out a m/m Demonica novella, and also brainstorming the next MoonBound Clan Vampires book – which will be Myne’s. I’m definitely looking forward to writing both!


Favorite Food: Cheese. I LOVE cheese. 

Favorite Dessert: I’m not a dessert person, but I sometimes enjoy cupcakes. 

Favorite Movie: WAY too many to name, but the ones I watch over and over include Galaxy Quest, Independence Day, and anything Star Trek. 

Favorite TV Show: Gah…again, too many to name! Right now I’m loving The Big Bang Theory, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, and Drunk History.

Last book that you read:  Hounded, by Kevin Hearne 

Dark or Milk Chocolate: Milk Favorite Literacy Character (not your own): Dracula 

Dog or Cat: Cat, but I love them both.   

TRC:  Thank you, Larissa for answering our questions. The Reading Café wishes youthe best of luck with Chained by Night. We look forward to talking with you again in the future.

Larissa:  Thank you, and I look forward to it, as well!   



Larissa’s publisher is graciously offering a paper copy of CHAINED BY NIGHT & BOUND BY NIGHT (first two books of The Moonbound Clan Vampires)  to 2 (Two) lucky commenters at The Reading Cafe.

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

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


4. LIKE us on Twitter


6. Like Larissa Ione on FACEBOOK

7. Giveaway is open to U,S. Only

8. Giveaway runs from September 26-30, 2014




Immortal Obsession by Linda Thomas-Sundstrom: Review and Interview with the Author

Immortal Obsession by Linda Thomas-Sundstrom: Review and Interview with the Author

Immortal Obsession / / Barnes and Noble / KOBO / The Book Depository

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date September 1, 2014

As her Protector, he was bound to oblige her every desire.
A rogue group of human-hating vampires have overtaken London. But the elite immortals who own much of the city may have found the key to protecting their territory: Madison Chase, an American newscaster investigating a story about missing teenagers. If she can convince someone to help her infiltrate the dangerous faction, she just might stem the bloodletting and find her brother in time….
St. John can’t escape his dark family legacy. But the instincts that keep him from being fully human also make him the rogues’ worst enemy. His desire for the ethereal redhead is immediate, all-consuming—and forbidden. And as the investigation escalates, Madison must discover if St. John is her trusted Protector—or if she’s being seduced by a monster.


REVIEW: IMMORTAL OBSESSION is the latest instalment in Linda Thomas-Sundstrom’s Vampire Moons adult, contemporary, paranormal romance series focusing on the Immortal Seven-descended from the originals and protectors of the golden chalice. This is Immortal Christopher St. John and American news anchor Madison Chase’s storyline. Although IMMORTAL OBSESSION is part of a series it can be read as a stand alone without too much difficulty. Linda Thomas-Sundstrom weaves background information and the history of the immortal/vampire into the storyline so that we are acquainted with different factions of the supernatural lore.

The storyline follows Madison Chase as she searches for her missing twin brother, last known whereabouts in London, England searching for the mythological vampire of lore. Madison knew her brother was determined to prove the existence of vampires but what she found was the story of nightmares. Enter Christopher St. John a man who professes to be Madison’s protector but a man who is definitely part of the supernatural race. Christopher suspects that Madison’s brother may be in over his head, but he never suspected the betrayal from one of his own.

The relationship between Madison and Christopher is one of immediate attraction. Christopher is drawn to Madison like a moth to a flame but there is something about the American newscaster that is dark and deadly. The sex scenes are intimate, sensual, and heated with lust and desire. There is no denying that Madison wants Christopher but is she compelled towards the man or is it of her own volition?

The secondary characters are as dark and dangerous as are most immortals. We are introduced to the most deadliest of night creatures as well as get up close and personal with a child of the moon.

IMMORTAL OBSESSION is an intense and passionate storyline where reality meets fantasy; where betrayal is an act of destruction; where romance draws two people together regardless of their DNA or purpose in life. Linda Thomas-Sundstrom pulls the reader into a dark world of the supernatural one storyline at a time.

Copy supplied by the publisher.

Reviewed by Sandy


TRC: Hi Linda and welcome to The Reading Café. Congratulations on the release of IMMORTAL OBSESSION.

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

Follow Linda: Goodreads / Website / Facebook

Linda Thomas SundstromLinda: I’m a teacher by day and a writer by night, and always wanted to do both of those things. I guess you could say I followed my bliss. I live in the West on a big stretch of land, and have a great family, as well as a very nice Muse. I thank my lucky stars every day that I’m this happy.

TRC: Who or what influenced your career in writing?

Linda: I spring from a family of story-tellers. Friday night by the fire sort of stuff where we had to make things up… most of them scary. My mother is an artist at heart, and my dad could really get us going on long car trips across the west, with stories about phantom lights and diners that refused to die along old section of Route 66. All of this was prime inspirational fodder for a writer of the paranormal kind. *smiley face*.

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

Linda: Oh gosh. I don’t relax. That’s the truth. I don’t take time to smell the roses these days… but plan to in the near future.

Immortal ObsessionTRC: IMMORTAL OBSESSION is the latest adult, contemporary, paranormal release in your Vampire Moons series. Would you please tell us something about the premise?

Linda: Having studied ancient lore in college, I became fascinated with the Aurthurian Tales, and had questions. Like… why Lancelot was so beautiful and undefeated in battle? What made Galahad so special? So… in my Vampire Moons series, I took seven knights from the Round Table, and gave them a history. They were unearthly beautiful because they were unearthly. Seven knights chosen for a secretive, very specific task having to do with the Holy Grail, that brings them up to our world, in the current time.

Each Blood Knight has his own book. In Immortal Obsession, my latest, we meet Christopher St. John in London… and meet the woman who challenges his long-held vows.

TRC: Will each of the ‘Immortal Seven’ have a storyline?

Linda: Yes. In the full Nocturne books, it’s Lance Van Baaren in Golden Vampire. Mason LanVal in Guardian of the Night. Christopher St. John in Immortal Obsession.

TRC: Do you believe that each of the instalments can be read as a stand alone or should the storylines be read in order?

Linda: Each book is stand-alone. Readers can pick up any one of these books and catch a hint of the background of the Blood Knights. Their goals are the same. Their vows are the same. They have long ago separated as a force and are spread around the globe, and we find them in different countries.

TRC: Does the Vampire Moons series overlap with the Wolf Moons series and if so how important is the information found within each series as it pertains to one another?

Linda: The Wolf Moons series (another book comes out in February) is its own beast. The two series don’t mix… though Weres always make an appearance in my Vampire Moons books. I do get quite a lot of mail asking to tell Stan’s story (you’ll find him in Golden Vampire).

TRC: If you could virtually cast the leading characters – Christopher St. John and Madison Chase -which actors or models best represents your ideal image?

Linda: Amy Adams for the fiery Madison Chase. Lee Pace with light hair for St. John. (Loved him as an arrogant elf in the Hobbit movies!)

TRC: Will Madison’s brother Stewart get his own storyline and if so, do you see ‘redemption’ for his character?

Linda: No story for Stewart in the works. The Vampire Moons books center on the original Blood Knights. Sorry, Stew!

TRC: What do you think is the appeal of the paranormal vampire/werewolf series in the genre of romance storylines?

Linda: Love that goes against the odds, and survives. Major conflict, not only of storyline, but in the mixing of species = pairing normal mortals with not-quite-so-normal Others. I just love writing about that.

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

Linda: None to speak of, really, I’m happy to say. I had quite extensively studied about the Holy Grail, so creating the SEVEN and giving them a background that answers the questions I had about the Aurthurian Tales was like manna from above. A true writer adventure.

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

Linda: I’m in charge of the strings, though the characters have a say in their own lives, and often take me to surprising places. For Nocturne, I turn in an outline/overview of about 12-16 pages. Within the actual writing phase, however, anything goes. *insert another smiley face here*

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?

Linda: I believe that writers have to be fully invested in what we’re writing. If this happens, we’re right there, not only creating but experiencing every moment. It’s fairly easy to tell when a writer is just trying to get something done, versus being what I call “in the zone.” The Zone is a gift that doesn’t always happen, in truth, and that’s the challenge we strive for. I call this “Telling the Truth.”

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

Linda: Write lots more books. Take some time to smell the Roses. Meet new readers who connect with what I have to say, in the way I have to say it. Keep my family happy. (Not necessarily in that order).

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

Linda: Hey, secrets are secrets…. *wink*.

TRC: On what are you currently working?

Linda: I just turned in another Wolf Moons 2 book, will be getting edits any day now on February 2015’s Wolf Born, and have started writing an Urban Fantasy.

TRC: Would you like to add anything else?

Linda: Thanks for hosting me here, Reading Café. What a blast! I’d love to meet all of you reading this, and connect. Please see what I’m up to on my web site: and Facebook:


Favorite TV Show = Game of Thrones

Last Movie You Saw = Guardians of the Galaxy

Dark or Milk Chocolate = Dark

Secret Celebrity Crush = Lee Pace

Last Vacation Destination = Hawaii

Do you have any pets? = not at this time

Pet Peeve = messy offices (mine)

TRC: Thank you Linda for taking the time to answer our questions. Congratulations on all of your success. We wish you all the best.


Take Down (Billionaire’s Club New Orleans #3) by Mallery Malone-review, interview and giveaway

Take Down (Billionaire’s Club: New Orleans #3) by Mallery Malone-review, interview and giveaway

Take Down Banner

Take Down
Billionaire’s Club: New Orleans #3
by Mallery Malone
Genre: adult, contemporary, erotic, romance
Release Date:September 2, 2014

Take Down / / Barnes and Noble / KOBO /

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date September 2, 2014

Powerful. Dominant, Unforgettable. He commands submission at all costs.

Cage fighter, Gabriel Devereaux, a man of barely leashed power, is known as the Bayou Beast.

There is one woman he will do anything , pay any amount to possess.

Karina Armistead, has come a long way from the innocent girl Gabriel used to know. An internationally known singer, she can have anything she wants. But everything tells her that getting involved with the Bayou Beast may leave her wrecked beyond repair.

Little does Karina Armistead know, but Gabriel has decided that she will be his.

He will destroy anything or anyone who stands in his way.


REVIEW:  TAKE DOWN is the third instalment in Mallery Malone’s adult, contemporary, Billionaire’s Club : New Orleans erotic romance series focusing on three friends from New Orleans. Billionaires and MMA fighters-Sebastian, Raphael and Gabriel-collectively own DJD Holdings and these are their stories.

TAKE DOWN is a second chance storyline that focuses on the rebuilding of a relationship between former friends and lovers Gabriel Devereux and the woman he loves Karina Armistead. Ten years has past since they last saw one another but in the ensuing time each has made a name for themselves. Karina is the darling of pop music and Gabriel is a world champion cage fighter who spends a good deal of his energy in illegal fights. When a chance presents itself, Gabriel is the first in line to offer up his hand to Karina knowing that the truth about what happened years before could very well destroy any chance of a permanent reconciliation.

The relationship between Gabriel and Karina is one of sensuality and pure love. Karina never knew the reason Gabriel walked away ten years earlier and hearing the truth has all but destroyed her heart. Gabriel suffered at the hands of someone else, and Karina blames herself for the destruction of their relationship.

The secondary characters include the previous storyline fighters Raphael and Sebastian as well as their lovers and friends. We will be introduced to Karina’s body guards who are very protective of their charge; and Karina’s brother, and father whose relationship with Karina is born out of rage, anger and hatred.

TAKE DOWN is a very quick read where two people are given a second chance at love. This is a story of lost love, broken hearts and revenge. Mallery Malone pulls the reader into a passionate storyline where hatred all but destroys the heart; and controversy seems to follow our leading couple wherever they go. Take Down is an intense look at one man’s revenge in the hopes of destroying the only man Katrina has ever loved.

My only complaint is the book blurb which describes Gabriel as a man who commands submission at all costs. That particular comment does not seem to apply to this storyline. There is no BDSM, no demands to submit from anyone in his life. Gabriel is a man possessed by the need to reclaim the woman he lost years before not a man who demands submission in order to love or be loved.

Copy supplied by the publisher through Netgalley.

Review by Sandy


TRC: Hi Mallery and welcome to The Reading Cafe. Congratulations on the release of your latest novel-TAKE DOWN (Billionaire’s Club: New Orleans #3)

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

Follow Mallery: Website / Goodreads/ Twitter / Facebook

Mallery: I’m a lifelong reader of everything. Stories were always my best friends. I started writing for fun in elementary school, for extra credit in high school and to keep myself sane as a young adult! I’ve been a published author since 2000, but started writing under Mallery Malone in 2008.I live north of Atlanta, GA with my husband, our guitar collection, two attack poodles and a cannibal fish.

TRC: Who or what influenced your career in writing?

Mallery: I can’t point to one particular thing that influenced my writing. I think we writers are an amalgam of what we’ve experienced and what we’ve read. While I started reading romances with Johanna Lindey books, the first books I bought myself were fantasy and science fiction. So I’ve been influenced by Madeline L’Engle, Ursula K LeGuin, Anne McCaffrey, Isaac Asimov, Octavia Butler, Roger Zelazny. My greatest influence in my writing was an elementary school English teacher named Mrs. Flinchum. I’d turned in a short story for extra credit and she encouraged me to keep at it–even had me speak to one of her classes about creative writing. I’m forever grateful to my teachers!

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

Mallery: I relax by spending way too much time playing Candy Crush and Farm Heroes! Seriously though, I love to read, shop for jewelry and watch anime.

Take DownTRC: TAKE DOWN is the third installment in your Billionaire’s Club: New Orleans series focusing on three friends who grew up on the mean streets of New Orleans to one day own and operate a billionaire dollar business. Would you please tell us something about the series and the premise of the book?

Mallery: My fantastic editor, Monique Patterson, came up with the Billionaire’s Club series concepts. Billionaire MMA fighters in New Orleans? I was so on board! Wile that was the outward common theme for the stories, I wanted their to be an emotional connection too, and that was that they’d all come through Hard Knocks, Armand Duparte’s gym, at the same time, and bonded around their love and respect for the man who had basically saved each of them. Each one went on to achieve success in their respective disciplines, but each one also had “the one who got away” the woman who knew them before the fame and fortune, the one person who knew all their faults and failures and loved them anyway.

TRC: Who were the inspirations behind Sebastian, Gabriel and Raphael? Which model or actor best represent your ideal image for each character?

Mallery: Believe it or not, I didn’t have any particular models in mind for these guys! Hhm, maybe I need to go do a Google image search for hot cage fighters!

Billionaire's Club

Click HERE for our review of KNOCK OUT (book 1)
Click HERE for our review of POWER PLAY (book 2)

TRC: What was the deciding factor behind the setting of New Orleans?

Mallery: I enjoy visiting New Orleans. The culture, the history, the food–it appeals to me on every level. Using the city as a backdrop for a contemporary series really appealed to me, and gave me an excuse to visit and eat my way through the city!

TRC: What do you believe is the appeal of the MMA/fighter storyline to romance readers?

Mallery: Readers love alpha heroes. Outside of military or paranormal themes, you can’t get any more alpha than men who get all sweaty and bloody duking it out in the octagon. There’s something primal about fighters that appeals to women on that base, instinctual level, the one that looks for the male who will provide, defend and pass on good genes. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that they’re hot, smart, and soft-hearted for the right woman!

TRC: TAKE DOWN is the final installment in this particular series. What do you have planned for 2015? New series? Spin Off?

Mallery: I would be really interested in doing a full length story that spins off this series,perhaps a female MMA fighter. It would also be interesting to delve into Armand’s story and why he felt the need to rescue these Lost Boys. I’m working on several proposal right now both contemporary and paranormal. Hopefully one of those will find a home!

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

Mallery: My husband and I watch MMA fights (he’s a huge Joe Rogan fan, but don’t tell him I told you that) and I have a neighbor who fights locally. So I had resources I could pump for information. In the end, with the stories being novella length romances, I knew I couldn’t provide the necessary detail for the sport that I wanted to include and still make the relationships realistic. So I chose to focus on the romances instead.

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

Mallery: My characters are always in the driver’s seat, damn them! I think they’re going one way, then one of them will say something or have a stray thought, and down the rabbit hole we go! With Sebastian, I knew he’d had a tough childhood, but I didn’t know he was the spitting image of his abusive father until he told me in the story. I knew Raphael was a playboy, the Crescent City Casanova, but the why–because his parents loved each other so much they neglected him–surprised me. I knew Gabriel was dark because of the people who did him wrong, but Karina’s relationship with her father and what her father did to them both was a shocker to me. I love it when my characters exceed my concept of them, especially when it works.

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

Mallery: For me, I think you have to feel it in order to show it. I have to feel what these characters feel. I think when you empathize with the characters you can convey that to readers, you can make it real. If you don’t get a visceral reaction from reading a passage of your story, you can’t expect the readers to. If you can be happy while writing a gut-wrenching scene, I don’t think that scene will resonate the way you want it to.

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

Mallery: Retire from my day job, support myself solely with my fiction writing, and hire a maid service to clean my house!

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

Mallery: That I played the viola in high school. I still have it and always say I’m going to break it out one day.

TRC: On what are you currently working?

Mallery: My alter ego is working on a three book full length sexy contemporary series. Hopefully we can get those done so Mallery can get back to writing!


Favorite TV Show: Sleepy Hollow

Last Movie You Saw: Guardians of the Galaxy

Favorite Musical Group: Metallica, 30 Seconds to Mars

Dark or Milk Chocolate: Yes please!

Secret Celebrity Crush: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

Last Vacation Destination; San Antonio for RWA. Strictly vacation was
Chichen Itza during the December 21, 2012 solstice.

Do you have any pets? Two standard poodles who think they’re lap dogs and would take over the world if they had thumbs!

Pet Peeve: People who stop in the middle of a busy walkway, oblivious to others around them.

TRC: Thank you Mallery for taking the time to answer our questions. Congratulation on the success of the Billionaire’s Club: New Orleans series. We wish you all the best in your writing career.

Mallery: Thank you!

Giveaway pink

Mallery is graciously offering to gift (via Amazon) the Billionaire’s Club: New Orleans Series Vol 1-3 ebook trilogy (or $10 GC equivalent) to ONE (1) lucky commenter at The Reading Cafe.

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

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

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

4. LIKE us on Twitter for an additional entry.

5. FOLLOW us on Goodreads

6. LIKE Mallery Malone on Facebook

7. Giveaway is open to international (see above)

8. Giveaway runs from September 14-19, 2014


Hold On ! by Peter Darley-Review, Interview & Giveaway with the Author

HOLD ON! by Peter Darley-Review, Interview and Giveaway with the Author

Hold ON Banner

Hold On !
by Peter Darley
Release Date: July 7, 2014
Genre: mystery, suspense, action,romance

Hold On / /

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date July 7, 2014

Two lovers! A deadly conspiracy! A race to freedom!

When Carringby Industries, a government-contracted arms manufacturer, is raided by what appear to be terrorists, the CEO’s secretary, Belinda Reese, is rescued by Brandon Drake, a dashing young AWOL soldier. Using an experimental test aircraft, he flees with her to his remote, isolated cabin in the mountains of Aspen.

While assisting in the design of military weaponry, Brandon discovered a plot within his own government to attack its own facilities, under the guidance of immoral politician, Senator Garrison Treadwell. Belinda’s body was not found among the dead at Carringby Industries, and Treadwell suspects that Drake was responsible for rescuing her. In an effort to entrap him, Treadwell arranges for an all points bulletin to be placed on Belinda

Deeply in love, Brandon and Belinda attempt to escape from America, only to endure one harrowing experience after another as they try to evade and expose Treadwell’s corrupt faction.

But on the run, with danger around every corner, Brandon makes a discovery so devastating that it shatters the very foundations of his reality.


REVIEW: HOLD ON is the first instalment in Peter Darley’s action, suspense series focusing on former solider Brandon Drake and secretary Belinda Reese.

The premise of the storyline finds Belinda and Brandon on the run. Brandon has been targeted for destruction by the very people with whom he has worked; and Belinda has been charged as an accomplice in what appears to be a home grown terrorist cell. What ensues is a cross -country trek for two people running for their lives as a government conspiracy threatens to take everyone down.

HOLD ON is first and foremost a story of suspense. The writing style is simple as the reader is pulled into a roller coaster of what ifs and whys: there are so many sub plots and organizations involved in the search and destroy mission that at times I wasn’t sure if they were all working towards a common goal-take down Brandon Drake-at all costs. There is mystery, action, murder, abduction, threats, torture and romance. And speaking of romance, the relationship between Belinda and Brandon is quick to build-from a high flying rescue to lovers, it is only a matter of hours to a few days where we find our leading couple discovering a little more about one another while being pursued by the government’s best (and worst).

There are numerous secondary characters that play an integral part in the hunt for Brandon Drake-from former platoon buddies to CIA operatives to Special Forces, everyone and every department is dirty in one way or another. No one will come away clean and unscathed. As the mystery builds so too does the amount of background information and history behind Brandon Drake and the secrets, of which, the military is willing to kill.

Overall HOLD ON is an interesting and imaginative storyline but one that was slow to build. Most of the action takes place in the second half of the story where the writing is more descriptive, spirited and passionate in nature than the earlier text. As this is the first book in the series, HOLD ON ends on a bit of a cliffhanger.

Copy supplied by the author.

Reviewed by Sandy


TRC: Hi Peter and welcome to The Reading Café. Congratulations on the release of HOLD ON!.

peter-darley1Peter: “Hi Sandy, and thank you for having me on the blog. ☺

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

Follow Peter: Blog / Twitter / Facebook /

Peter: “My background is in showbusiness. I was an actor for many years, and I’ve appeared in several UK television productions. I also worked frequently as a model, presenter, and I appeared in a number of TV commercials. When the recession hit, work dried up, so I diversified into variety entertainment, and became an agent for a number of acts for awhile.

The need for a more stable career pushed me into law school in 2004. I graduated with honors in 2007, but I had decided by then that the law was definitely not a career I could ever be happy with. That’s when I started writing, and spent the next few years developing my style, writing my first novel, and then I endured a harrowing two year journey towards publication.”

TRC: HOLD ON! is your July 2014 release – an action, suspense storyline focusing on soldier Brandon Drake and Belinda Reese. Would you please tell us something about the premise?

Hold OnPeter: “Certainly. From the outset, Hold On! was a book made up of nail-biting cliffhangers. I recognized the power and compelling, page-turning nature of the cliffhanger when I saw the TV shows Prison Break and 24. Nevertheless, statistics show that 80% of novel readers are ladies. As such, I incorporated the action and suspense into a burgeoning romance between my two lead characters, which, I feel, brought a powerful and emotional component to the narrative.

I introduced my leading lady, Belinda, as an ‘everywoman’ whom millions of people would be able to relate to. In the first few pages of chapter one, she is a corporate secretary whose life is stuck in a rut. She works to survive, but she’s bored and uninspired. Her eyes are always on the clock wanting the day to come to an end so that she can go home. (How many people can relate to that?) I took this concept from the undeniable fact that ‘winning the lottery’ has so much social appeal. This was important in order that my readers would empathize with Belinda, thereby causing what comes next to have a powerful impact. I hoped that it would help the readers to put themselves in Belinda’s place.

On page 6 – all hell breaks loose! After what appears to be a terrorist attack, Belinda fears for her life and attempts to escape, only to find herself trapped by smoke and flame. By now it isn’t just Belinda who’s going through this. It’s the reader too.
But, just when all hope seems to be lost, she is rescued by a mysterious stranger wearing a smoke-proof helmet, and fire-resistant armor. This is our hero, Brandon Drake, who flees with her to his secret cabin in the mountains of Aspen.

This concept is a compelling classic that I have always passionately adored. My all-time favourite movie scene is the helicopter emergency scene in Superman – The Movie with Christopher Reeve, where he opens his shirt for the first time and takes off to rescue Lois Lane. It brings me to tears with awe every time I see it. In Hold On! it’s ‘The Princess in the Tower’ brought into a modern, culturally-relevant setting, but as you go through the pages, you will find that I’ve given it a number of new and unique twists.

After dealing with their own issues of trust, Brandon and Belinda learn more about one another, and fall in love. Brandon finally explains to her who he is, what the attack was all about, and how he went AWOL from a government weapons-testing operation in order to thwart the conspiracy responsible. They finally leave the cabin in an attempt to escape from America – only to be met with one cliffhanger after another, devastating revelations, and a relentless fight for their mutual survival.”

TRC: Who or what was the inspiration behind the leading characters of HOLD ON!?

Peter: “I think that Brandon is an amalgamation of a number of fictional and real-life characters that I have admired or encountered. There’s certainly a lot of me in him (lol.) I’ve always been an incurable rebel with a resentment for authority (rightly or wrongly) – hence why I’ve always insisted on being self-employed. I don’t think many of us have been able to avoid the experience of driving our cars, perfectly within the speed limit, then spotting a police car and our hearts coming into our throats – even though we weren’t doing anything wrong. It’s certainly not a pleasant feeling, and it immediately creates a moment of resentment beyond our own conscious control. For me, Hold On! arises from my personal obsession with freedom, and this is the part of the human psyche that I wanted to tap into.

However, I was also aware that the most compelling characters are ones that are flawed and/or tormented in some way. Brandon has a side to him that even he can’t come to terms with. I can’t say too much about it because spoilers abound; suffice to say that I adopted what I considered would be one of the most horrifying discoveries any human being could (hypothetically) make about themselves.”

TRC: Are any of the storyline plot points taken from reality?

Peter: “I think that depends on one’s perspective. Corruption in government is always on the six o’ clock news. But the idea of the ‘powers that be’ initiating hoax terrorist attacks against their own nation was based on some of the more popular 9/11 conspiracy theories. Given the high numbers of demonstrable refutations, and the overwhelming lack of evidence for such claims, I have to say that I cannot bring myself to believe a word of them. Fiction, for me, therefore, was the perfect media for the concept. Additionally, I have never found another concept which offers up so many opportunities for cliffhangers. Aside from a handful of emotional and philosophical points raised in the book, Hold On! is, first and foremost, a literary roller-coaster ride, which exists to satisfy the prerequisite of all fiction – entertainment.”

TRC: If you could virtually cast the leading characters of HOLD ON!, which actors or models would best represent your ideal image?

Peter: “Great question! From my earliest reviews of Hold On! the most frequent comment I received was that it would make a terrific TV series. This even found its way onto the cover as its tag line: “The TV Thriller Series You Can Only Read.”

Brandon Drake has never been anyone other than Australian actor, Chris Hemsworth (Thor.) His was the face I had in mind from the moment Brandon first removed his helmet. He’s absolutely perfect for the role.

In the beginning, I had no specific image for Belinda in mind. Generally speaking, however, she had dark hair and was very attractive.
And then I came to the end of watching the TV series, Spartacus: War of the Damned. Actress Jenna Lind (also Australian by coincidence) played a Roman slave named Kore. In a shocking addition to the otherwise-historically-accurate ending, Kore was crucified with the defeated slave warriors. When I saw this, I was mortified, and thought: “I’m not having that! There’s a beautiful lady in need of rescue, and I’ve got just the man for the job.”
Jenna Lind looked as much like Belinda as anyone could. Since then, she has been my leading lady. ☺”

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

Peter: “The most difficult aspect to writing Hold On! is that I wanted it to be authentic ‘American’. You can’t write a fugitive-type story like this and set it in England. There is simply nowhere to run. It would have come to an end by chapter two. This led to a potentially-fatal problem – so many words are spelled differently in America, and many common expressions in England are unknown in the US. For example, would an American know that a flash drive (that little computer information storing device) is called a ‘pen’ drive in England? It’s almost like a different language on occasion. These are issues that one cannot research, because to research them, you first have to know that there’s an issue with a particular word or expression to begin with. You either know it, or you don’t. For this, I have my dear American author friends, Anne B. Cole, Rafeeq McGiveron, and my editor, Garrett Marco, to thank for getting me out of trouble with these issues.”

TRC: What do you have planned for the next instalment in the series? Release date? Premise?

Peter: “The sequel to Hold On! entitled Go! – Hold On! Season 2, has been signed, and is due for release sometime early next year. I can’t say too much about the premise at this stage because it would be virtually impossible to avoid spoiling the ending of Hold On! I’ve had the video trailer for Go! in my hard drive for months, but we can’t release it yet. It’s very frustrating. The ending of Hold On! is revealed in the very first text caption of the Go! trailer.

However, Go! has been received, from my friends who have read it, with such high acclaim that it stunned me. I didn’t think that I could pull it off a second time, but my reviews so far have been that Go! is actually superior to Hold On!

I am extremely confident that Go! will provide my readers with even more nail-biting suspense, and a chance to share the journey of a fallen hero as he struggles to restore himself to his former greatness, along with an exploration of the meaning of ‘family.’ And, of course, it ends leaving you with a gnawing desire to find out – what happens next? ☺”

TRC: Did you face any difficulties getting your series to publication?

Peter: “Boy, did I! I implore all authors reading this NOT to let it dissuade you. What happened to me was extraordinary, and was not representative of the norm. (This story is also featured on my website.)

When you are an unknown writer with no author platform whatsoever, you will seriously have your work cut out for you. Hold On! has a history steeped in as many cliffhangers as there are in the story. After receiving an initial 60 rejections from publishers and literary agents, I engaged the assistance of my dear friend, former New York Times bestselling literary agent, Mark Malatesta. Whilst my original query letter contained some desirable factors, it lacked a few technical details, which Mark helped me to correct.

Soon afterwards, Hold On! attracted the interest of a literary agent in Florida, who told me that it would take her five to six months to get to it. However, she was very understanding, and encouraged me to try to find a publisher in the meantime. If I was successful, she asked only that I let her know. A few weeks later, a publisher in Michigan literally pleaded with me for Hold On!. Having a ‘bird in the hand’, I let them have it.
Almost a year later, the publisher folded – a week before Hold On! was due to go to press. I immediately contacted the literary agent in Florida again, only to discover that she had now retired.

A week later it was tentatively picked up by Writer’s Coffee Shop in Australia (the publishers who first published Fifty Shades of Grey.) We worked together on the project for four months, during which time some key plot lines were removed from the manuscript. And then suddenly – silence. There had been no contention between me and Writer’s Coffee Shop. No disagreements. No arguments. Nothing! They simply ignored all of my emails, and with no explanation.

Last October (2013), after picking up a total of 130 rejections, and three failed acceptances, Hold On! was snapped up by Soul Mate Publishing. It had finally ended its two year journey from Central England, to Florida, to Michigan, to Australia, to ultimately land in New York.”

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

Peter: “Another terrific question. I can only speak for myself, but I always begin with a basic premise. Beyond that, I really don’t know where the story is going. As I begin to write, one idea after another comes to me, and the book literally writes itself. So the answer is – the characters (or story) direct the writing.

Having said that, I know more about what’s going to happen in the third instalment than I did when I started the first and second. This time, I even know how it ends (if my publisher permits me to do what I want to do with it.)”

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?

“I will say this: you cannot convey emotion unless you’ve felt it yourself. I have a slight advantage over many writers in this respect by virtue of my former career as an actor. We studied emotions and character development to the extent that we were assigned with the exhausting task of dredging up all manner of harrowing episodes from our pasts, until the class was literally filled with sobbing wrecks.

The secret is to look inside yourself, draw upon your life experiences, and try to recall, as clearly as you can, what you were actually feeling at any given point in your life, and then transcribe those feelings into words. Often you may find you are writing a scene which neither you, nor anybody else, could possibly identify with. Nevertheless, there will always be a common denominator.

Here’s an extreme example – let’s say, hypothetically, you have a character who’s just discovered that the world is going to end in seven day’s time. Nobody you know could possibly identify with horror such as that. But what feelings would that cause in you? I would imagine a sense of panic. Urgency. Desperation. Absolute terror. When have you felt such emotions in the past? What went through your mind during those occasions? What were the physical manifestations that it put you through? (A pounding heart. An inability to think straight. Shivering and shaking uncontrollably, etc.)

Once you have those descriptions, you write them down and give them to your character.

Be mindful also of what genre you are writing in. If you are writing a genre romance, you can probably afford to labor emotions more than you could in a thriller, because emotion is the primary raison d’être of the romance genre. However, thrillers today are required to be fast-paced, and while emotion is an important component of thriller characters, you cannot afford to labor the emotional aspect to the point that it slows the pace. Just inform the reader of the character’s emotional state with a reasonable degree of description, put them in the picture, and move on. Don’t be repetitive and waste time on that which is unnecessary.”

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

Peter: “I can’t say that I’ve experienced this yet. As I mentioned earlier, I won’t have a clue what’s going to happen next, so I start writing just so that I can find out (lol.) It’s the weirdest feeling in the world. I’m on the edge of my seat wanting to know what happens next – and yet I’m the one who’s made the whole thing up! I’m the only one who can come up with the answer, but at the beginning, I simply don’t know. My books literally write themselves. Even when I have a clear plan for a chapter, some of the coolest, hitherto-unknown ideas come to me while I’m actually writing it.

I have found that rushing through a manuscript will not yield the best results. Giving myself time for those golden ideas just ‘pop in there’ produces the most hair-raising storylines. Let the process breathe. I can’t sit down and rationally plan a storyline. That usually leads to some fairly boring and sterile ideas because I’m using the intellectual/academic side of my brain rather than the creative. It’s the ideas that involuntarily pop into my head that get the finest reactions.

And one more thing: don’t try to write when you are under the spell of depression. Draw on the experience afterwards if you need to (if depression is relevant to your story), when you have a clearer head. But during an attack of depression, everything about you will be drained, and all you will see on the screen before you is an empty page. Be kind to yourself, and allow yourself the right to be human.”

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

Peter: “Honestly, I swear on my life – absolutely nobody. I work alone. It’s my gig. Once a first draft has been completed, I will then pass it around to my friends, and I take on board what they say with regards to statements or matters of demonstrable error – such as American spelling, geography, or politics. I have had publishers ask me to remove certain plot lines and add in new ones, but these were people who were never destined to play any part in me getting published. Another publisher would tell me to restore what the previous publisher told me to remove, but to change the ending. And so it went on . . . (This actually spawned the ‘deleted scenes’ page on my website. I love my original plotlines, and the deleted scenes page was my way of keeping them alive.)

Publishers can’t ALL be right. They can, however, ALL be wrong. YOU are the ultimate authority on YOUR creation. That’s my opinion, and I have yet to be shown any evidence to the contrary. If I was to ever encounter a unanimous objection to a storyline, then I would listen. But a singular, subjective viewpoint carries even less weight than mine, since I’m the one who created the concept in the first place. It’s a delicate balance between deciphering constructive criticism, from someone who wants you to write their book rather than yours.”

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

Peter: “My ultimate aim is to hear the four words that would completely change my life:

“Previously, on Hold On!”

I think that covers all bases – and I’ve already made a little headway in trying to make it come to pass.

Oh, and I would love it if my deleted scenes created a cult following. Vindication is the greatest feeling in the world. ☺”

I can’t think of a third agenda relevant to this. Once you have the highest possible achievement in your sights, no lower ambition is noteworthy, really.

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

Peter: “I’ve always been very open, extremely outspoken, and pragmatic, but I don’t broadcast the fact that I’ve been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, simply because it’s rarely relevant. It’s not a big issue for me, really. I can assimilate myself among people very successfully. I very much doubt that you would ever know, and I say that based on my wealth of social experience.”

TRC: On what are you currently working?

Peter: “Run! – Hold On! Season 3.”

TRC: Would you like to add anything else?

Peter: “I hope that anybody who reads Hold On! enjoys it, and that it captures their imagination. I would also like to convey my very best wishes to everybody reading this, and I hope that all of my brother and sister writers achieve the success that they all surely deserve.”


Favorite Food – Chinese crispy shredded chicken with fries.

Favorite Dessert – Chocolate cake.

Favorite TV Show – The Incredible Hulk (1977-1982.) Factual statistic: its largest audience was actually adult females.

Last Movie You Saw – Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Only I could get away with admitting that.☺)

Favorite Musical Group - Abba

Dark or Milk Chocolate - Both

Secret Celebrity Crush – Um . . . don’t have one. (Gawd, I must be getting older. ☹)

Last Vacation Destination – Isle of Wight.

Do you have any pets? - Two cats, Poppy and Snooky. A few months ago, a little black and white cat, barely more than a kitten, came to my door. He’d been abandoned and dumped out in the street. He was still wearing his ID collar, but his previous owners had ripped off his ID tag. He was hungry, scared, and alone. I’ll never know where he originally came from, but he’d been out on the streets for some time, because he’d stopped grooming himself. He came to me in the same way that Brandon’s bear cub came to him at the back of the cabin in Hold On! For that reason, I gave this little cat the same name as the bear cub – Snooky. You’ll all be happy to know that he’s very happy, extremely playful, and well-cared-for now. He follows me everywhere I go. ☺

Pet Peeve – Traffic jams.

TRC: Thank you Peter for taking the time to answer our questions. We wish you all the best.

Peter: “Thank you, Sandy. It’s been an honor.”


Peter is graciously offering an ecopy of his novel HOLD ON ! 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.

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

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

4. LIKE us on Twitter for an additional entry.

5. LIKE Peter Darley on Twitter

6. Giveaway is open internationally

7. Giveaway runs from September 13-17, 2014


Night Magic (The Magic Series #4) by Susan Squires-Review, Guest Post and Giveaway

Night Magic (The Magic Series #4) by Susan Squires – Review, Guest Post and Giveaway

Night Magic Banner

Night Magic
The Magic Series #4
by Susan Squires
Genre: adult, contemporary, paranormal, romance
Release Date: September 8, 2014

Night Magic / / Barnes and Noble / iTunes / Smashwords

Add NIGHT MAGIC to your Goodreads shelf.

ABOUT THE BOOK: September 8, 2014

DESTINY ISN’T CALLING. Kemble Tremaine is thirty-seven. He knows he’ll never get magic like the rest of his family. The Merlin gene has passed him by. No true love, no magic power to help the family in their fight against the descendants of Morgan Le Fay. Since it doesn’t matter who he marries, he asks his sister’s best friend, Jane. At least he’ll be rescuing her from a horrible home life.

CINDERELLA MISSES THE BALL. Jane Butler has loved Kemble since she was twelve years old. She’s well aware he’s not marrying her for love, but she hopes she can make him comfortable.

HAPPINESS IS RELATIVE. Comfort isn’t on the menu for the Tremaines. Kemble’s sister has been having visions of tragedy. The family finds one of Merlin’s precious artifacts, meant to increase the power of those with magic. Morgan and her Clan want it too. They can’t be far behind. Can Kemble and Jane find destiny in the face of danger and even death?


REVIEW: NIGHT MAGIC is the fourth full length instalment in Susan Squires contemporary, adult The Magic Series (formerly known as the Children of Merlin) paranormal romance storylines focusing on the Tremaine family who believe they are the descendants of Merlin. Each descendant will come into their magic when they meet their soul mate-their other half. This is eldest brother, thirty seven year old Kemble Tremaine, and family friend Jane Butler’s storyline. Believing the gift of magic has passed him by, Kemble proposes to Jane hoping to stave of the stigma of being alone and without his inherited powers. Kemble watches as each sibling comes into his or her own magical power but the gene appears to be recessive in the eldest son’s DNA.

The storyline continues the Tremaine family struggle as their search for Merlin’s missing and powerful artifacts. But Morgan LeFay and her Clan of rival magical misfits are always one step ahead of the Tremaine family and NIGHT MAGIC finds the family not only fighting the Clan but fighting for their lives. When a golden chalice is located, right under their proverbial noses, the Tremaine family make preparations to retrieve the ancient talisman only to discover that someone already knows about their plans.

The relationship between Kemble and Jane is one of friends to lovers. Jane has loved Kemble since she was twelve years old but Kemble has always seen Jane as his younger sister’s friend and a member of the family. The pull towards one another is heightened with each sexual encounter and if Kemble believes magic has passed him by, Jane’s own hidden power calls to the power buried deep within the man that she loves. The sex scenes are sensual, seductive and passionate.

The secondary characters include all of the previous storyline couples as well as the entire Tremaine family. Morgan LeFay and her Clan are the epitome of evil-with no heart and no soul. We get a glimpse into a future storyline that looks to be another heartbreaking and emotional premise.

The world building continues as each family member comes into their own power and the battle with the Clan brings danger and darkness with every encounter.

Susan Squires CHILDREN OF MERLIN is a wonderful, compelling and imaginative series with romance, love, magic and drama. NIGHT MAGIC will pull you in and break your heart when one of their own fights to survive.

Check out the new covers !

The Magic Series

Reading Order
1. Do You Believe in Magic (April 2012)
2. He’s A Magic Man (September 2012)
3. Your Magic Touch (prequel novella) March 2013
4. Waiting For Magic (October 2013)
5. Night Magic (September 2014)

Copy supplied by the author.

Reviewed by Sandy

Guest Post

As readers of the Reading Café blog probably know, I’m in the middle of the six book Magic Series about the big and boisterous Tremaine family who are descended from Merlin of Camelot. The live in at the beach in a contemporary L.A. Merlin’s magic, dispersed through the ages, lurks in their DNA. Now, when each sibling meets another with the Merlin gene, the magic creates immediate attraction, true love, and a unique magic power emerges. Of course, they aren’t the only ones with magic. Members of the Clan are descended from Morgan Le Fay, and they have very different ideas about what to do with magic powers. Night Magic, the fifth title in the series if you count the novella, Your Magic Touch, is the latest in the series, newly available at the usual digital sources, and at Amazon in print form.

I’ve grown to love the Tremaine family over the course of writing these books. Father, mother, six siblings and one adopted brother, various friends, new husbands and wives as the characters find their destined lovers—they’ve come to be a whole, unique world for me. The series takes place sequentially, and therefore all the family and some other key characters have been in every book, from the start of the series. I feel like I’ve watched the youngest ones grow up, and I’ve suffered with each character’s problems and trials right along with them, some of them continuing over multiple books. These people aren’t perfect. They struggle with their relationships just like real families. The parents don’t always do the right thing. The brothers don’t always agree. But there is an underlying love and loyalty there that my heroes and heroines can depend on. In some ways, the family is a character of its own.

This is the first series I’ve done where the whole story arc had to be planned out before I ever sat down at the computer. It’s also why I recommend, for the very first time, reading the books in order, beginning with Do You Believe in Magic?

I can already see a time when the series will be finished, even though I have two books left to write. I don’t know how I’ll let the family go. So I was rather relieved when a new character showed up in my mind about a month ago. And he wants his own book. So the series might be seven books long.

I’m not complaining.

.99¢ ebook for a limited time: DO YOU BELIEVE IN MAGIC (The Magic Series #1) by Susan Squires at Amazon.

YOUR MAGIC TOUCH  (novella) is currently FREE at All Romance ebooks for one week.



Kemble strode around the car without a word, got behind the wheel and slammed the door. His lips were a thin, determined line. Then he seemed to see her for the first time. “Jane, that…that cheek looks really painful.” His face contorted with an angry look. “I should have been over here first thing this morning.” He was angry with himself, of course.
“I could have gone to the doctor if I needed to, you know,” she said.
He snorted. “You never want anything for yourself, Jane. I’ll take care of that too.”
What did he mean by that? The motor purred to life and Kemble put his arm over the back of her seat to turn and look out the rear window as he backed out. His fingers brushed her shoulder. She closed her eyes as the sensation shot up her spine. Did he have to be so careless?
As they turned onto Palos Verdes West she glanced over to him. He was fairly vibrating with…nervous tension? Determination? She couldn’t quite figure it out. He surprised her by sliding into the little shopping center behind the Admiral Risty, an old-school, red-booth dinner place with a wide-water view of the Pacific. “Aren’t you going to be late for dinner at home?”
“Yes, I am.” He nodded his head convulsively. The man was sweating.
“You want to loosen the tie or something?” He really looked like he was about to choke.
“No.” He took a big breath and let it out slowly. Then he turned to her. “I have something I want to ask you, Jane. And I don’t want you to say anything until I’m done explaining.”
“Uh. Okay.” Jane was getting a very bad feeling about this. It was going to be something about what he wanted to do with her mother. She just knew it. And she wouldn’t be able to accept his largesse, so he’d try to bully her into it.
He looked out over the parked cars. “I’m never going to get magic. I talked to Senior and he agrees. We think the gene is recessive in me. I’ve known it for a while.”
She started to protest, but he held up a hand. It was shaking a little. That stopped her far more effectively than anything he could have said. He wasn’t the kind of guy to tremble.
“So.” He acted as though that settled everything. “So he agrees that I ought to get on with my life. Settle down. And if I’m not waiting for the bolt of lightning, well, then I can marry whomever I want. So I’m asking you.”
Jane felt like she’d been struck deaf, dumb and blind by that lightning bolt. Kemble was… asking her to… marry him? After all these years, he’d realized he loved her…
“Now don’t say no,” he rushed on. “Just because we’re not in love doesn’t mean this can’t work out. You need a refuge Jane, and if we marry, I can give that to you.”
Jane carefully shut her mouth, though that didn’t mean she could breathe.
Kemble looked down at his hands, still on the steering wheel. “The family already loves you. And I’ll make sure your mother is taken care of. Enough money cures everything, Jane, and if it’s one thing I have, it’s money.” His eyes were so earnest it might break her heart.
He’d given up. So he might as well marry her. Something heavy sat on her chest.
He got an anxious look. “So…uh…what do you think?”
She hardly trusted herself to speak.
“Oh. Wait.” He lifted his hips to get his hand into the pocket of his slacks, and drew out a small square velveteen box. It said the name of the department store at the top of the hill on the bottom. He fumbled with it until he got it right side up and popped it open. A diamond ring gleamed in the rosy light of the setting sun. The setting was simple, just a band with three medium diamonds set in it. They glinted in the afternoon light.
“I didn’t think you’d want one of those big diamonds that are always catching on everything. These… these are nice stones though.” He cleared his throat.
It was actually just the kind of ring she would want the man she loved to give her. But not like this. She took a breath. “Kemble, you don’t want to marry me.” It took all the courage she had to speak those words.
“But I do,” he protested. “You’re perfect. You’re smart. You’re a calming influence on the family, especially the younger ones.” His voice softened. “And marrying me will give you a place, Jane. Let me take care of you.”
She couldn’t marry Kemble when he didn’t love her. That would be too selfish.
He put the box with the ring on the dashboard and took both her hands in his larger ones. After the shock that went straight to her groin and the points of her breasts, what she noticed was that the warmth, the slight moisture born of his anxiety, enveloped her with his inherent goodness. She felt…maybe not loved, but at least treasured. “I need you, Jane,” he said. “And I think you need me too. Sometimes life just provides solutions we aren’t expecting.”
The words were simple, spoken from his heart. He needed her. It was the one ploy that might get her to agree to this. She couldn’t bear how unhappy he’d been lately. Maybe this solution freed him from the razor-sharp pain of wondering if magic would ever happen for him, thinking he’d never be good enough. She wanted to believe that, because suddenly, she wanted to throw all sense and caution off the cliffs at the Breakers and accept him. Married to Kemble Tremaine, just as she’d dreamed since she was fourteen. A real member of the Tremaine family, with a right to make tira misu for their dinner or cut fresh flowers for the table.
There was another problem. “What if you find your destined love after we’re married?”
“Never going to happen.” He shrugged as though it didn’t matter to him. But in his blue eyes she saw that it did. He wasn’t over mourning his loss yet.
But maybe someday he could be. Maybe time would heal his regret. Maybe they could have something together, if not true love, then companionship, respect. That was more than she was like to have any other way. “You have to promise me something, Kemble Tremaine.”
He didn’t mean that, of course. He couldn’t give her the one thing she really wanted. And God, he was so close to her, he was overwhelming any sense she had at all.
“Promise that if you ever do find the one really meant for you, you’ll tell me. I’ll set you free the next moment with no regrets.” Well, none she wouldn’t have anyway, whether she married him or not. She’d always regret he didn’t love her.
His brows drew together sharply. He really hadn’t thought this out, had he?
Finally he nodded. “Okay.” He cleared his throat. “Does that mean you will do me the honor of being my wife?”
God help her. She nodded.




About The author

Follow: Goodreads / Website/ Facebook/ Blog

Susan SquiresSince beginning her career in 2000 with Danegeld, which won a Golden Heart for best unpublished manuscript from Romance Writers of America, Susan has published seventeen novels and three novellas in collections with Dorchester Publishing and St. Martin’s Press, as well as self-publishing three books and a novella in The Children of Merlin Series. She’s been a finalist in the Rita contest for Best Romance Novel and garnered several Reviewer’s Choice awards from Romantic Times BookReviews. Publisher’s Weekly named Body Electric one of the ten most influential mass-market books of 2003 and One with the Shadows a Best Book of Year. Her work has appeared on the New York Times and USA Today Best Sellers lists. She’s known for breaking the rules of romance writing, and whatever her subject, historical period, or theme, her work always contains some element of the paranormal.


Susan is graciously offering a paper copy (ebook- International) of any 1 book -winner’s choice- from The Magic Series to ONE (1) lucky commenter at The Reading Cafe.

The Magic Series

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

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

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

4. LIKE us on Twitter for an additional entry.

5. LIKE Susan Squires on Facebook or Twitter

6. Giveaway: Paper copy (USA/Canada only) : ebook copy (International)

7. Giveaway runs from September 12-17, 2014


Interview with Cover Model-Nathan D. Weller

Interview with Cover Model-Nathan D. Weller

Nathan Weller 3TRC: Hi Nathan and welcome to The Reading Café. We would like to start with some background information. Would you please tell us something about yourself?

Follow Nathan on : Facebook

Nathan: I grew up in a small tourist beach town along Lake Michigan.

TRC: What were your dreams and aspirations growing up?

Nathan: I played hockey for fun but I was better at baseball. My first aspirations were to get college paid for with a scholarship then professional baseball player. I did end up playing professional baseball but it didn’t last long. My arm went and I had to get tommy john surgery. After that I never fully came back 100%.

TRC: Will you please tell us about how you got started in the modeling business? How were you ‘discovered’?

Nathan: K Keeton Designs discovered me. Kelsey messaged me on Facebook asking to take some pictures. I was bartending at the time and remember showing up to the photo shoot that morning on a couple hours sleep. She snapped a few pictures and posted them. Ever since then the authors have loved me and welcomed me with open arms.

TRC: What have been some of the challenges you have faced in your modeling career?

Nathan Weller 4

Nathan: A constant challenge is staying in shape. I’m still fairly new to modeling. I didn’t really see the opportunity at first. When I decided to start taking it seriously I started working out again. Injuries can also be a challenge. It’s hard to get in shape when you’re battling an injury. Food has been a challenge for me as well when it comes to staying in shape. I tend not to have portion control or will power to resist all the delicious foods. You put a large pizza in front of me I will eat it.

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

Nathan: Haha, well some authors can be picky as to what they want on a cover. I’ve had to redo shoots before. When you pour your heart and soul into a book you tend to have a certain vision of how you want your cover as well.Sometimes outfits don’t align (hair color, nails, etc.) to the author’s vision. Other than that if something goes wrong it’s usually caught on camera. The outtakes of a shoot are my favorite part.

Nathan Weller 2TRC: Nudity in modeling or acting can be controversial. Some pictures can cross the line between sexuality and pornography. You have posed nude for several photographers. What would you tell young models just entering the business about nude modeling?

Nathan: I’ve never technically done nude modeling. Sure I’ve taken my clothes off under hotel bed sheets but the photos are more seductive and don’t focus on the nudity. You also have to be careful of who you work with as well. Make sure the photographer is reputable, especially for you young ladies out there. If you’re not comfortable with something don’t do it.

TRC: The modeling industry exposes you to many people and sometimes it can be very stressful. At times do you feel alone, surround by so many people? What do you do when the stress becomes overwhelming?

Nathan: The stress that I deal with is the imperfection of my body. I’m constantly comparing myself to other fitness models and see areas I can improve. Sometimes I wish I could just drop this modeling stuff and be a fat kid lol.

TRC: Is modeling your full –time career or do you have a ‘day job’?

Nathan Weller 5

Nathan: Modeling is not my full time career but I wouldn’t mind making it. I would love to spend more time in the gym and posing with beautiful woman. Right now I’m in between jobs. I try to live a simple life. Go to the gym, take care of my animals. I have 30 acres north of town with a few goats.

Nathan Weller 1TRC: At times, there has been a ‘stigma’ surrounding the male model and the romance-cover industry. But the popularity of the paranormal romance storyline has skyrocketed in the last few years with the many vampire, werewolf and fantasy storylines. What is your opinion about the recent popularity and the very busy industry of the ‘romance cover model’?

Nathan:  The popularity of the romance industry is very exciting for me. Regardless of the general theme behind the book it’s just great to see the industry grow, not only the industry but the personal friends success along the way. I’ve had the opportunity to watch careers blossom.

That being said, sex sells and covers are very important. As an author you need something that is unique and flashy, but yet portrays your story. Covers that will make a reader pick up a book and open it.

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

Nathan: I’ve done about 20 covers now. Half of those books are out now, others are still in print.

Nathan Weller Cover8TRC: Do you remember the first ‘romance cover’ on which you appeared?

Nathan: When You’re Ready by J.L. Berg was my first cover. I think that’s when I realized that this was kind of a big deal. I was on the cover of a bestselling author.

TRC: Do you have a favorite cover?

Nathan: It’s hard to pic a favorite cover. They are all unique and special in their own way to me.

TRC: Would you please tell us what you do to relax?

Nathan: Throw on some pj’s, pop in a movie, grab some snacks, and light one up.

TRC: On what on your currently working?

Nathan: I’ve debated writing a book of my own, although I don’t know that I could. As of now I’m just jotting down a few ideas. Being around the book industry has been very inspiring. A romance book that comes from the raw male perspective seems like something readers would be interested in.

TRC: Would you like to add anything else?

Nathan: Thank you for everyone at The Reading Café to give me this opportunity!


Favorite Food
French toast

Favorite Dessert
Chocolate chip cookie dough

Favorite Movie
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Favorite TV Show
The Walking Dead

Last Movie that you Saw
Pain and Gain

Dark or Milk Chocolate

Last Book that you Read
The 12th Planet by Zecharia Sitchin

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