Seducing the Groom by Cheryl Holt-Review and Interview

Seducing the Groom by Cheryl Holt-Review and Interview

Seducing the Groom

ebook only .99¢ at time of posting: Amazon link not available until release date

Barnes and Noble / KOBO /

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date October 30, 2014

Stephen St. John, Viscount Banbury, is in a bind. His father has cut off his allowance, so he’s had to rein in his decadent habits and split with his beautiful, spoiled mistress whom he can no longer afford. When an American heiress comes to London and dangles her fortune in Stephen’s direction, he sees it as the answer to his prayers. He’ll wed the pretty, delectable heiress, but he won’t let her interfere with his decadent lifestyle. He’s a confirmed bachelor and determined to have a marriage of convenience.

Ellen Foster has traveled to London for the express purpose of buying a titled husband. She’s been husband shopping for months and can’t make up her mind. All the available candidates seem tepid and boring. But when she lays eyes on handsome, dashing Stephen St. John, she knows he’s the one, and with her large fortune as bait, he’s easily snared in her web.

When he suggests a marriage of convenience, she pretends to agree. But she has no intention of living separate lives. She plans to enjoy every delightful, wicked minute that marriage to a rake can provide. With Stephen determined to avoid her, seduction seems the only choice.

Though Stephen doesn’t realize it, Ellen always gets her way, and as she turns their bedchamber into a den of erotic pleasure, poor Stephen doesn’t stand a chance…



4 out of 5 for this reader folks!

Well that was a sassy, naughty historical read. I enjoyed that!

Seducing the Groom by Cheryl Holt is a historical erotica novella about a bride taking care of her business on her wedding night. Ellen Foster, American heiress has just married notorious English rake Stephen St. Jean. Stephen has been cut off from his family and is in dire need of a prosperous union. When he agrees to marry Ellen, little does he know that this seemingly proper heiress has been spinning her web and will ensure that this so called “proper marriage” is more naughty than proper. On their wedding night, Ellen poses as the aloof bride while parading around tempting her groom. Stephen is taken back when his bride appears to be anything but interested, which funny enough, gets his clock ticking. Off we go on a naughty cat and mouse chase that stirs the blood, makes you smile and believe that a little deceit can go a long way.

A pretty quick read. I did find it a little flowery at times, but that is complimentary to the historical genre. I suppose that means I like my smut a little more modern even when it’s displayed in a different genre. That being said, I have discovered a new author in one of my fave genre’s and I look forward to reading more by her.

Like a quick yummy read with a splash of vixen and rake … check this one out!


Copy supplied by the publisher

Reviewed by Rachel T.

TRC: Hi Cheryl. Welcome to The Reading Cafe. Congratulations on the upcoming release of SEDUCING THE GROOM.

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

Follow: Goodreads / Website/Twitter/Facebook

Cheryl: I have been writing for twenty years and published for 14 of them. I am a New York Times, USA Today, and Amazon “Top 100” author. I’m considered one of the masters of the romance genre, and for years, I was hailed as the “Queen” of erotic romance. I don’t write erotics anymore. But I do write some of the most wicked, driven characters in the world, so I’m also known as the International Queen of Villains. I’m currently writing Novel #38.

TRC: With the numerous degrees to your name including a career as a lawyer, who or what was behind your decision to become an author?

Cheryl: I started writing novels because I had two babies back to back, and I was suddenly stuck at home, and trying to figure out how to earn an income at home to replace the one I’d lost by leaving the workforce. There aren’t many options for a woman who wants to work at home, and most of them involve selling cosmetics or something like that. I don’t have the skills to sell things, and I’d always thought I might write a book someday. I jumped into it—when I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I just forged ahead and figured it out in a big way.

TRC: Would you please tell us something about your latest release- SEDUCING THE GROOM?

Seducing the GroomCheryl: My new book, SEDUCING THE GROOM, is a sort of “lost” book for me. I originally wrote it in 2004, when I was just starting to be acclaimed as the Queen of erotics. It was published in an erotic anthology, but the price was $15.00 so very few people bought it or read it. The rights recently reverted to me, so I’m releasing the book myself, and I’m excited that everyone will finally have a chance to read it.

My books are set in Regency England, which is early 1800s London. The hero is a rake and confirmed bachelor who—due to his extravagant living—has had his allowance cut off by his aristocratic father. He’s desperate to refill his bank accounts, and he meets and weds an American heiress who’s in London and looking for a husband.

He hardly knows her, but weds her merely to spite his father. Before the wedding, he tells her that he’d like to have a marriage of convenience, and she pretends to agree. In reality, she has no intention of living through a chaste marriage, and she sets about to seduce him on their wedding night.

TRC: Is SEDUCING THE GROOM a stand alone storyline or part of a series?

Cheryl: The book is a stand-alone story.

TRC: What are your thoughts on historical accuracy when writing a fictional historical romance novel? Do you believe the readers want historical accuracy in the storyline?

Cheryl: I think readers want and like historical accuracy in a book, but in my case, my plots aren’t ever dependent on a historical event. They are simply set in a certain time period—the Regency Period in England, which is the favorite time period for romance readers—so I know all the fashions and carriages and that sort of thing. I don’t have to do research for each book, because I know the historical details to put into the story. My historicals have more to do with the historical setting (particularly the restrictions placed on women during that era) than actual historical events, and the plots never revolve around historical events. However, during this period, there were plenty of wars raging, so many times, my heroes are war veterans or have fought in famous battles.

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

Cheryl: I direct the characters; the characters never direct me. I always have several storylines in a book, and I have lots of plot twists and turns, so I can’t let the characters just go off on their own, or they’d never arrive at the places they’re supposed to be at the appropriate plot points.

I do an enormous amount of prep work before I ever start writing the rough draft. I write in-depth storylines, and I block out chapters and scenes before I ever type the first word. When I finally sit down at the computer to write, I know exactly what will happen in each chapter and each scene.

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?

Cheryl: In my books, I always use larger than life characters, and the stakes are always very high for the characters—particularly the heroine. I like her to be in dire straits because it pushes her to make choices she wouldn’t usually make. I also always use very macho, very tough heroes. They’re the kind of men who bluster through life, taking what they want without regard to the consequences. And I use very wicked, very driven villains who will do whatever is necessary to achieve their goals.

These bigger choices mean that I can include much bigger “scenes”, with lots of emotion, heartbreak, and betrayal. Lots of “stuff” happens in my books. People get killed, people get betrayed, people have their dreams dashed. I use big issues and big characters and big events, so that when readers get to a certain plot point, they’re shocked or hurt or enraged or emotionally drained right along with the characters.

I think writers fail at raising the emotional temperature in their books because they don’t make big choices. They don’t raise the stakes for their characters, and if the stakes are low or non-existent, there’s very little “feeling” to the writing. I think this is a particular problem in the romance genre, where the books are more often simply a character study that examines how two people meet and fall in love. But if the characters are nice to each other in the beginning, nice in the middle, and nice at the end, there’s no character arc and nowhere for the story to go.

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

Cheryl: I don’t ever suffer writer’s block. I have been doing this for many years, and I’m very experienced as a writer. As I mentioned above, I block out my books before I ever start writing the first page. So when I sit down at my computer in the morning to get to work, I know precisely where I am in the story and what has to happen in the scene I’m writing.

I always tell new writers that the “cure” for writer’s block is to get more experienced as a writer. Finish the book you’re working on, then start the next one. Finish it, and move on to the next one. With each book a writer finishes, he or she becomes much more experienced and has a clearer of idea of how to get from the beginning to the end. Experience will insure that you don’t get lost in the middle.

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

Cheryl: I didn’t have any challenges or difficulties.

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

Cheryl: I don’t bounce ideas off anyone. I constantly have new ideas pop into my head, and I always jot them down. When I get ready to start a new book, I go to my list of ideas, pick one, and get started. I have a great “feel” for story and characters, and I know what works and what doesn’t in my stories. I don’t need to bounce ideas off anyone.

TRC: On what are you currently working?

wonderfulCheryl: Currently, I’m working on my next trilogy, which will be novels #37, #38, and #39 for me. I’m calling it the “Lost Lords of Radcliffe,” but I’m not ready to release much more info than that. I have a big book launch coming in January, and I’ll spread all the details then What I can tell you is that when I finished my last trilogy, my Reluctant Brides, the 3rd and final book was titled, WONDERFUL. I left a plot line dangling, so I could move one of the characters into my next series of books.

The three books of the Lost Lords trilogy tell the stories of the Blair siblings. When they were very young children, their mother was convicted of a crime and sent to the penal colonies in Australia. Her four children were left behind in England and cast to the winds of fate. In WONDERFUL, two of the siblings cross paths by accident. In the new Lost Lords trilogy, they begin the search for their other lost siblings, and they begin the fight to reclaim their stolen heritage.

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

Cheryl: I have a three-year goal right now—rather than a five-year one. My main goal over the next three years is to finish 11 more novels, so that in three years, I will have written 50 novels. I can write 3-4 books per year now, so I think I should be able to get there with no problem.

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

Cheryl: If I’d known how to make a different life happen for myself when I was younger, I would have been a singer and songwriter.


Favorite Food—potatoes, cooked any style

Favorite Dessert—anything chocolate

Favorite TV Show—Chopped on HGTV

Last Movie You Saw—Guardians of the Galaxy

Dark or Milk Chocolate—Milk Chocolate

Secret Celebrity Crush—none

Last Vacation Destination—Oahu in Hawaii

Pet Peeve—people who read their emails, but don’t answer them! Or who read their text messages but don’t answer them! Or who never listen to their voicemail!

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


One In A Million by Jill Shalvis -Review, Blog Tour and Q&A

One In A Million by Jill Shalvis -Review, Blog Tour and Q&A with the Author

One in a Million Blog Tour

One In A Million
Lucky Harbor #12
by Jill Shalvis
Genre: adult, contemporary, romance
Release Date: October 28, 2014

One In A Million / / Barnes and Noble / KOBO / The Book Depository


ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date October 28, 2014


As the brains behind wedding site, Callie sees it all: from the ring to the dress, the smiles . . . to the tears. It’s that last part that keeps her single and not looking. Getting left at the altar will do that to a girl. But when Callie returns to her old hometown, she finds that her sweet high school crush is sexier than ever. And he makes it hard to remember why she’s sworn off love . . .

Tanner is a deep-sea diver with a wild, adrenaline-junkie past—and now his teenage son is back in his life. How can Tanner be a role model when he’s still paying for his own mistakes? It’s hard enough that gorgeous Callie has appeared in town like a beautiful dream, challenging his best-laid plans to keep his heart on lockdown. Though there’s something about being around her again that makes him feel like he can be the man she—and his son—deserve. Little Lucky Harbor holds their past; can it hold a beautiful new future?



One in a Million by Jill Shalvis is the 12th book in her wonderful Lucky Harbor series. It is the 3rd book in her trilogy arc, which will end the Lucky Harbor series. All three books in this arc had hot swoonworthy men, who happen to be best friends; with each finding their mate.

This is Tanner and Callie’s story. We met Callie in the last book, when she returned to Lucky Harbor to stay for awhile and keep an eye out for her grandmother, Lucille. She is the crazy funny lady, who is the matchmaker throughout Lucky Harbor series.

Tanner, is another one of the wonderfully hot best friends that run the charter boat in Lucky Harbor. Tanner has been the one who gave up on some of his dreams to take care of others, and isn’t interested in any permanent relationship.

Callie runs an online wedding service, which she helps most brides to be to get over their own issues, and this also makes Callie very squeamish about ever getting married. Especially since her ex fiancée left her at the altar and bruised her heart.

One morning, Tanner sees Callie in the bakery, since it’s the only seat, he sits at her table and he will later recognize her from his school days. For the next few week, Tanner and Callie find themselves looking forward to seeing each other. Those moments were classic fun, that Jill Shalvis does so well. Callie would either choke on her donut, meet her ex fiancée, and forget she was dressed embarrassingly like she just got out of bed. Pretty funny stuff.

We knew right away that Tanner and Callie were meant for each other, as we began to root for them. Of course both have their own issues that convinces them to have a relationship that is friends with benefits only. Into this mix, is Tanner’s teenage son, Troy, who grew up with his mom. Now, Tanner finally gets a chance to love the son he hardly knew. What I loved was how Callie and Troy became close, with her helping him get closer to his father. Very heartwarming.

What follows is a very sexy and sizzling romance between a wonderful fun couple, as well as having quite a few humorous moments.. Tanner is so swoonworthy, and loyal to his friends and family. Callie is a fun, heartwarming heroine, even if she needs some pushing to move past her fears of getting hurt. They made a great couple, and I loved spending time with Becca/Sam and Olivia/Cole. Jill Shalvis has another winner in One in a Million, which is a lighthearted, sexy and fun series, not to mention fabulous characters we have met throughout Lucky Harbor.

Reviewed by Barb

Copy provided by Publisher



Jill ShalvisA quick Q & A with the amazing Jill Shalvis

TRC:  Hi Jill and welcome to The Reading Café. Congratulations on the release of ONE IN A MILLION. We would like to start with some background information.

TRC: For anyone who doesn’t know Jill Shalvis, would you please tell us something about yourself?

Jill: I like cookies, animals, hot guys, and romance novels, not necessarily in that order. For more:

TRC: ONE IN A MILLION is the twelfth and final installment in your New York Times best selling LUCKY HARBOR SERIES. Would you please tell us something about the premise?

Jill: I thought it would be fun to write a heroine who creates the ultimate romantic fantasy in that she’s a wedding planner, and yet she doesn’t believe in happily ever afters in real life. Add in one hot guy who knows love exists, stir don’t shake.

TRC: How does/did it feel saying goodbye to the people of Lucky Harbor? What plans do you have for a new series/storyline?

Jill: I’m still having trouble with that goodbye thing. I have a short Christmas Lucky Harbor story coming because I couldn’t say goodbye…

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

Jill: Thanks for having me!

FOLLOW Jill Shalvis: GOODREADS / Website / Facebook / Twitter

Click HERE to read  chapter 7  from ONE IN A MILLION by Jill Shalvis


The Right Chord by Rose Ann DeFranco-Review, Interview & Giveaway

The Right Chord by Rose Ann DeFranco-Review, Interview & Giveaway

The Right Chord Banner

The Right Chord
Brothers of Audubon Spring #3
by Rose Ann DeFranco
Genre: adult, contemporary, romance
Release Date: August 6, 2014


The Right Chord / / Barnes and Noble / KOBO / The Book Depository

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date August 6, 2014

Years in the cutthroat L.A. music industry have Kit Maggio yearning for love and acceptance in her hometown, Audubon Springs. Her position as a Theater Arts professor doesn’t erase years of being shoved aside by her family. Her baby sister is getting married, and her high school sweetheart doesn’t recognize her. Will she ever find what she needs?

Vince Iuliano never imagined he’d be a single dad. Vowing no woman will ever again break his daughter’s heart, he focuses on providing a happy and stable home. But when the love of his life rents the house next door, can he take a chance on happiness?

Vince never forgot Kit. Setting out to earn her forgiveness, they fall back into the rhythm of love and heat, much like the songs they wrote as teens. When L.A. calls, will Kit go, or stay and write her greatest love song?



The Right Chord is a wonderful love story and the third in this Brothers of Audubon Springs series. The story is set back in Audubon Springs and this heartwarming and sometimes heart wrenching tale is the story of Vince Iuliano.

Backstory or setup: Vince Iuliano and Kit Maggio were a hot item back in their high school days. They loved each other as much as any teenager can love. However, Vince was a home and family kind of guy, his family owned a construction business and he pretty much wanted the small town life. Kit was a musical talent on the rise and looking to go to LA. Through some teen angst and misunderstandings he thought it would be better if her didn’t follow her or try to stop her from going, she thought she just wasn’t worth the trouble to him… like I said, angst and stuff!

The really great thing is that Rose Ann DeFranco can use this wonderful angst and its aftermath to weave a heart pounding rebirth of love between the right people. She does so with humor, style and magnificent timing!

I’m not into doing spoilers and ruining this incredibly passionate story. Let me just say their road back to each other and forgetting bad pasts for each of them is what makes this author the one you don’t want to put down. It’s the perfect story for this brother, just like the other two. However, the right thing doesn’t always happen first, as it probably should…shit happens!

Get a really big glass (or in my case a bottle) of your favorite beverage, a large supply of tissues, a few soft pillows to throw or throttle and dig in. Enjoy everyone, I certainly did!

Copy supplied by author.

Reviewed by Georgianna S

Reading Order
Return to Audubon Springs
Secondhand Romance
The Right Chord
Interview beige

TRC: Hi RoseAnn and welcome to The ReadingCafe. Congratulations on the August 2014 release of THE RIGHT CHORD – book three in your Brothers of Audubon Springs series.

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

Connect: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

RoseAnn DeFranco picRose Ann: Thank you so much for having me here today! I am a wife and mother with a passion for the written word and super heroes. I work full time for a consulting firm. I’m a Dance Mom with a very active 11 year old, and I used to be a professional singer and actress.

TRC: Who or what influenced your career in writing?

Rose Ann: I come from a musical theatre background so the pursuit of an artistic or creative life has always been a part of my makeup. When I left the theatre life behind, I found a new creative outlet in writing. My father was the first person to tell me I had a voice in writing. He passed away before my first book was published.

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

Rose Ann: I love listening to music, singing, reading, bike riding, going to the beach, and just in general being with my family.

The Right ChordTRC: THE RIGHT CHORD is the third instalment in your Brothers of Audubon Springs romance series. Would you please tell us something about the premise?

Rose Ann: The three stories take place in a fictional Jersey Shore town. The focus is on three brothers in a big loving Italian family. The family, especially their dishcloth toting mother, meddles, and the women who come into their lives drive them crazy until they can’t help but fall in love. What surprised me a bit in my own writing is the humor. I’m not sure I intended to write funny heartwarming stories. I thought I was writing dramas at the start. But it makes sense, I’ve always subscribed to that, laugh so you don’t cry mentality. Sometimes we laugh until we cry.

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

Rose Ann: I only intended to write one story in Audubon Springs, but I fell in love with the town. When I finished Return to Audubon Springs, I didn’t want to leave. The entire plot of Secondhand Romance came to me as soon as I wrote THE END of the first book. THE RIGHT CHORD is the final book in this series since I’m all out of brothers, but stay tuned. I’m not done with Audubon Springs just yet.

TRC: Can each book be read as a stand alone?

Absolutely! While you may see characters from the previous books, each book is its own story from start to finish. In fact Kit, the heroine in THE RIGHT CHORD, was not featured in the previous two books even though it is a reunion romance.

Brothers of Audubon Springs

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

Rose Ann: The recurring theme of this series is home and family. It is all driven by emotions and family circumstances. This was not a research heavy project. I researched the region a bit and added more characters of Irish decent to the town as a result, but this is an area I know and the stories are very much a part of my own background. The hero Vince is a single dad with a six year old daughter. My husband was a single dad with a six year old son when I met him. Kit pretty much works as a profession in the theatre arts program where I attended college. So you see where I’m going with this, THE RIGHT CHORD is in some ways very close to me.

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

Rose Ann: Funny you should ask! Many readers haves asked me about Mia, the cousin to Rafe, Tony and Vince. Her role is prominent in all three books in the series. I’m working on a holiday novella for her. Beyond that, I can see a new Audubon Springs series forming as a result of some characters I introduced in THE RIGHT CHORD, but right now I’m working on projects in other towns so I’m not sure when I’ll get to those stories. Mia deserves her day in the sun and a happy ending. I feel I owe it to her.

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

Rose Ann: I am a very character driven writer. I spend a lot of time getting to know my characters before starting a story. I usually have a strong sense of where I’m going, meaning the big moments, or turning points in a story before I hit go. When a character starts to steer the ship in a direction I hadn’t intended, I let them go. Usually end up where I was headed in the first place, but they may have taken me down a different path.

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?

Rose Ann: I think if a writer has a comfortable voice, it is easy to invite a reader into your world. I’m a writer, but I consider myself a reader as well. I don’t like to read a story in which I feel the author is condensing, talking down to, or preaching to their readers. Also, characterization is so important to me. If I find too much in the way of inconsistent characterization in a book, I have to set it aside. I think if you’re true to your characters, you will invite the reader into your story.

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

Rose Ann: I don’t know that I’ve ever experienced writers block while in the middle of a project. There are times when a scene isn’t working as well as I’d like. One of the best things I’ve found to do at that point is to write some notes for myself as to what should our could happen in that scene, and then move on to another scene that I want to write at the time. Any anxiety I’ve experienced is possibly when I’m in-between projects. There is that moment of concern that a new cast of characters won’t show up on my doorstep. Fortunately, they always do!

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

Rose Ann: I’m really lucky to have a great group of writing friends and one amazing beta reader. Something I’ve learned over the years is that I’m very much an auditory writer, meaning I need to talk it out. My writing friends, critique partners and my husband are great for this. My husband is the best because sometimes he’ll ask questions that aren’t from a writer’s perspective that really prompt thought. These conversations usually end with me running out of the room to jot something down.

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

Rose Ann: I currently am pursuing writing in multiple genres. In the next five years I would like to have a new humorous contemporary romance series published, a young adult contemporary series publish and a young adult fantasy series published.

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

Rose Ann: I am really sort of an open book. I kept my musical theatre background in the closet for a while until after a drink or two I hit the karaoke mic at a writing conference a few years back.

TRC: On what are you currently working?

Rose Ann: Right now I’m working on Mia’s Audubon Springs Novella, a new humorous contemporary romance series, and a young adult contemporary. Lots of irons in the fire.

TRC: Would you like to add anything else?

Rose Ann: Thank you for the opportunity to appear on your blog. I’m a fan of the site and just love what you do here.


Favorite Food: Almonds

Favorite Dessert: My mother’s apple pie

Favorite TV Show: Once Upon a Time

Last Movie You Saw: The Proposal (on TV), If I Stay (in the movie theatres)

Favorite Musical Group: Train

Dark or Milk Chocolate: Milk

Secret Celebrity Crush: Robert Downey, Jr. So not a secret, though!

Last Vacation Destination: Jamaica

Pet Peeve: When a TV is on too loud and no one is even watching it.

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


Giveaway beige

RoseAnn is graciously offering winner’s choice (US/Canada-paper or ebook:
International-ebook only) of any ONE book in her BROTHERS OF AUDUBON
SPRINGS series to ONE 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 remember to click GET NOTIFICATIONS.

4. FOLLOW us on Twitter


6. LIKE Rose Ann on Facebook

7. Paper copy or ebook (US/Canada only): ebook (International)

8. Giveaway runs from October 13 – October 17, 2014


The Hockey Saint by Howard Shapiro-Review, Interview and Giveaway

The Hockey Saint by Howard Shapiro-Review, Interview and Giveaway

The Hockey Saint Banner

The Hockey Saint
by Howard Shapiro
Release Date: September 10, 2014
Genre: Graphic novel, all ages, hockey, fiction

The Hockey Saintjpg / /

About the Book: Release Date September 10, 2014

Twenty-one year old Jeremiah Jacobson is the world’s best hockey player, but he wasn’t prepared for the frenzy and scrutiny that came with that title. Tom Leonard is an average college sophomore… just a guy trying to find his place in the world as he sorts through issues that are both very real and seemingly insurmountable.

Through a chance meeting, these two strike up an unlikely friendship. Their bond is tested when Tom discovers that his idol isn’t as perfect up close as he seems from afar. With Jeremiah living a little too much in the moment and with his past catching up to him, will Tom be able to help him before it’s too late?


REVIEW: THE HOCKEY SAINT is a graphic novel focusing on college sophomore and hockey player Tom Leonard and his friendship with professional hockey star Jeremiah Jacobson. Written by Howard Shapiro, and illustrated by Marica Inoue and color work by Andres Mossa, The Hockey Saint is a storyline for all ages with a message about the excesses that can come with fame and fortune. As Tom struggles with balancing his studies and playing hockey, he will get some unintentional life lessons from Jeremiah Jacobson.

I do not usually review graphic novels but I thought the premise involving the sport of hockey was interesting and something out of the usual. The story follows two young men caught up in the fame and notoriety of hockey stardom-one who has yet to see his star rise and the other who is heading for a downward spiral.

Each chapter is prefaced with a recommended song list as well as a chapter title. The graphic images are clear and colorful; the text is equally legible with no foul language, no sexual content, no violence or innuendo. The writing is simple and easy to understand. The storyline is a message about drinking and driving; smoking and drinking to excess. Even the image of the worshipped hero leaves little to the imagination about the long term affects of substance abuse on the body.

THE HOCKEY SAINT is great book for the young graphic novel reader. If you are looking for a storyline about hockey and sports heroes with a happily ever after, The Hockey Saint is the perfect gift for the holiday season or any time of year.

Copy supplied by the author.

Reviewed by Sandy


TRC: Hi Howard and welcome to The Reading Café. Congratulations on the release of your latest graphic novel THE HOCKEY SAINT.

howard shapiroHoward: Thank you for this opportunity!!

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

Follow: Website / Goodreads  /Twitter

Howard: I live in Pittsburgh, PA with my wife and our two, fifteen year old sons. I am an Accountant by day, the Controller for a Visual Effects Studio and I have done five previois books, “The Hockey Saint” will be my sixth book and second graphic novel.

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

Howard: Mostly hanging around with my kids either watching TV or playing video games with them. In the fall and winter I enjoy watching ANY hockey game that is on television and I participate in a fantasy hockey league and keeping up with that takes up a lot of time.

TRC: Will you please explain-what is a graphic novel?

Howard: The quick answer is that it is an expanded comic book or a novel with pictures. There are so many great stories that are done as GN’s these days but I still think GN’s aren’t a truly mainstream genre as of yet. Go to any Barnes and Noble or library and chances are they will have a GN section but it will be small and off the beaten path. That will hopefully change in the future!

TRC: Which comes first-the story or the graphics?

Howard: Excellent question! For me it’s the story but told through the prism of the graphics. I have the story in mind, but what I end up doing is writing it in a visual way. I write it in a quasi-script format and so that way I am visualizing how the scene will play out and then I add in the dialogue.

TRC: Do the illustrator and author collaborate throughout the writing process?

Howard: Absolutely and that is my favorite part of the process! If you have a great illustrator, then the process can be pretty seamless. I like to give as much direction as I can to the illustrator, even providing samples of what I’d like a certain object or scene to look like. That and the facial expressions and body language that the characters are displaying. I can bve a time consuming process but its an amazing feeling when it all comes together!

TRC: Have you ever encountered an illustration/illustrator that did not represent what you imagined for your story? If so, how do you rectify the discrepancy?

Howard: Sure, it happens on occasion. That is usually where I go to google and search for an image and then send that to the illustrator and ask them to fix whatever it is. I’ve been lucky in that the two illustrators I have worked with, once they have established a great rhythm and are used to drawing the characters they nailed most pages in one take. The one thing I’ve really stressed with both illustrators is consistency, each time a character is displayed they have to have the same basic look. I really try and hammer that home, consistency on each and every single page.

TRC: Are most of the images hand drawn using pen and paper, or do most graphic illustrators now use computer programs and a Wacom tablet?

Howard: I believe that computer programs are used. The way we saved a lot of time with “The Stereotypical Freaks” was that the illustrator sketched by hand three of four pages and that why I could get a sense of what the pages would look like and then we could make changes and tweaks at that point. Then he would do the final pages and most pages were done in the first take!

TRC: How and when did your interest in graphic novels begin? Have you always been a fan of the graphic novel or comic book?

Howard: I do a few school visits each year and in one I did back in 2010 at an elementary school here in Pittsburgh, the school’s librarian was telling me how he could not keep any of the graphic novels on the shelf. The kids would take them out regardless of the subject and he also said that the neat thing was that the boys really loved them and would read them cover to cover. He told me how it was like pulling teeth to get boys interested in reading but that they really took to the GN’s he had on the shelves. So, the little light bulb went off above my head and I went to a local library and borrowed two GN’s, “The Big Kahn” and “Garage Band.” And, like the kids, I was hooked! I absolutely loved comic books growing up, I was team Marvel all the way and used to buy as many as I could and read them cover to cover and I thought that here was a chance to maybe take the dive in and do a GN which I kind of looked at as an expanded comic book. I was looking to do something different as my previous books had been either kids’ books or a middle grade novel and so I decided to learn as much about the process of creating a GN. Almost three years later “The Stereotypical Freaks” came out and my hope is to do a few more GN’s before I move onto something else!

The Hockey SaintjpgTRC: THE HOCKEY SAINT is your October 2014 release. Would you please tell us something about the premise?

Howard: The story revolves around two characters, Jeremiah Jacobson whos is the world’s best hockey player and college sophmore Tom Leonard. They have a chance meeting and become very good friends and the story is really about their friendship, what it means to be a someone’s good friend, what we sacrifice for ambition and also the proliferation and over exposure of sports in the modern day.

TRC: Are any of the characters based in reality or a combination of reality and fiction?

Howard: Another good question! Tom Leonard has been a character in each of my six books. He started out as a young kid in my first three books which were picture books and in my middle grade novel he was a teen and that carried through to “The Stereotypical Freaks” where he was a senior in high school and now in “The Hockey Saint” he is a college student. He is me and I am him! I’ve always used him as my doppleganger, so he is based on me and my expereinces. Jeremiah is a combination of sports and entertainment figures which include Arthur Ashe, Sidney Crosby, Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Bobby Orr, Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan.

TRC: Do any of your storylines feature a strong, female heroine?

The stereotypical freaksHoward: One of the criticism’s that was valid, I thought, from “The Stereotypical Freaks” was that there wasn’t a strong female character. Looking back on it, I had to agree and so I set out in “The Hockey Saint” to rectify that mistake and I feel that the story has two very strong female characters in Felicity who is with Jake (I don’t want to give out a spoiler) and Tom’s Grandmother, Sophie. They each exhibit strength in their own ways and I couldn’t be happier with the way they each turned out!

TRC: Have you considered writing a graphic novel for adults? If not, why?

Howard: I like to think that both of my GN’s are and would be a very enjoyable read for adults as well as kids. I guess what I would like to establish is that the books can be enjoyed by anyone, no matter what age you are. Even when I did my kids illustrated books, I tried to mix in themes that made kids think and analyze the story. I did not want to dumb down or talk down to kids and I’ve tried to be very consistent throughout all six books and offer both kids and adults lots of things to think about in my books. The worst thing, I think, a writer can do is talk down or dumb down his or her stories to fit a certain demographic. Kids are usually a lot smarter then people in the entrtainment industry give them credit for, so my job as a writer has always been to challenge them and mostly make them think about the ideas and themes I am trying to put across in each of my books.

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

Howard: I had the great pleasure to work with my friend and editor Christina Ahn on “The Hockey Saint” and if she is willing, she will be my editor for everything else I do. She is an amazing author in her own right and the best editor and storyteller that I know. The book would not have been what it is without her and the direction and help she provided to me!

TRC: On what are you currently working?

Howard: I’m in the early stages of doing the final story in the trilogy that started with “The Stereotypical Freaks.” “The Hockey Saint” is book number two and things will wrap up with “Can You See The Light” which again is the final story in what I titled the Forever Friends trilogy. I’ve just started doing pre-production on that and I hope to have that out in early 2016.

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

Howard: Well, I have one more graphic novel in me and then I have an idea for a romance-like novel. I’m not sure what genre it would be classified under but it will be a modern love story which I want to get down on paper because it is stuck in my head right now!

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

Howard: That I only want to produce stories that you can read over and over again. Stories that have an impact and actually say something. That has been my credo for all six of my books.

TRC: Would you like to add anything else?

Howard: My publisher, Animal Media Group, has been really great in promoting “The Hockey Saint” and giving us all of the tools to get the word about the book out. They had an online hockey video game produced by a firm in Columbis, Ohio and the game plays out really great! It’s very fun and incredibly addictive so if you have a few minutes, please check it out at we are running a tournament on October 4th and the winners will recieve gift cards. More info will be available at the Animal Media Group Facebook Page –


Favorite Food - Pizza

Favorite Dessert - Peanut Butter M&M’s

Favorite TV Show - (Present Day) – Hell’s Kitchen, (All Time Favorite) – Starsky & Hutch

Last Movie You Saw - Guardians of the Galaxy

Favorite Musical Group - Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

Dark or Milk Chocolate - Milk Chocolate

Secret Celebrity Crush - Molly Ringwald

Last Vacation Destination - Toronto

Pet Peeve - People who take sports too seriously

TRC: Thank you Howard for taking the time to answer our questions. Congratulations on the release of The Hockey Saint.

Howard: THANK YOU!!


Howard is offering an amazing giveaway for FOUR (4) lucky commenters at The Reading Cafe. Prizes available to be won are:

-1 winner will receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card

-1 winner will receive a signed paper copy of THE HOCKEY SAINT and a promo t-shirt

-2 winners will each receive a signed paper copy of THE HOCKEY SAINT


1. If you have not previously registered, please register 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 such as Twitter or Facebook, 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 Howard Shapiro on Facebook  and/or  Twitter

6. Giveaway open Internationally.

7. Giveaway runs from October 11 to October 15, 2014



For an extra chance to WIN a paper copy of THE HOCKEY SAINT or a $20 Amazon Gift Card click HERE and enter the GOODREADS giveaway


Season for Desire by Theresa Romain – Review, Interview & Giveaway

Season for Desire by Theresa Romain – Review, Interview & Giveaway

Season For Desire Banner


Season for DesireAmazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / The Book Depository / BAM

Properly Wicked

Like her four sisters, Lady Audrina Bradleigh is expected to marry a duke, lead fashion, and behave with propriety. Consequently, Audrina pursues mischief with gusto, attending scandalous parties and indulging in illicit affairs. But when an erstwhile lover threatens to ruin her reputation, Audrina has no choice but to find a respectable husband at once.

Who would guess that her search would lead her to Giles Rutherford, a blunt-spoken American on a treasure hunt of his own? When a Christmas snowstorm strands the pair at a country inn, more secrets are traded than gifts—along with kisses that require no mistletoe—and Audrina discovers even proper gentlemen have their wicked side…


Season for Desire by Theresa Romain is a Regency romance story, written for the time of 1820. Background: in northern England. Richard Rutherford, apprentice jeweler, met and fell in love with a young noble woman. Lady Beatrix, daughter of a marquess, fell in love with him as well. The planned to elope, to keep this from happening she was stripped of her belongings. However, she did it anyway, but before leaving she had, unknown to anyone, hidden a fortune in jewels that belonged to her personally, leaving clues in three puzzle boxes left to her by her mother. On her deathbed she told Richard and Giles (their oldest living son) of the jewels and gave them clues, knowing her husband loved adventures and would seek them out, if for no other reason than for the adventure in a quest.

The story begins with Richard and Giles stopping in an inn in York, England. They had been searching the property of her relatives (with permission of a sort), but had found nothing so far. A servant of Lord Alleyneham came to them to request their aid. It seems the Lord’s youngest daughter was thought to be eloping and he wanted it stopped. They were to stop the coach when it came to this town and take the daughter and betrothed into custody until Lord Alleyneham and Lady Irving (an acquaintance) could arrive. Lord Alleyneham and Lady Irving arrived before the eloping couple; however it was not an elopement. Lady Audrina Bradleigh had been drugged and kidnapped for her dowry and the scoundrel David Llewelyn wanted her to marry him for the money, or he would blackmail her father for it.

What follows is a really interesting story, albeit regency morals and conversations, of wit, conversations, and situations leading to adventure for the group. I thoroughly enjoyed the conversations and the emotions that came through. Even the sex scenes were warm and steamy as well as frustrating.

Ms. Romain has written a wonderful tale of old England and great adventure, while addressing the very human issues of aging noblemen, female rights, and social attitudes. It’s mixed with wonderful humor, mystery, interesting characters and much more.

If you like the regency style and love a good mystery and chase…this is a delightful read. She has written others and given time, I will read them.

Grab a glass of your favorite beverage and cuddle up and enjoy! I certainly did!

Reviewed by Georgianna

Copy provided by Author


Interview beige 2

TRC:  Hi Theresa and welcome to The Reading Café. We would like to start with some background information.  Please tell us something about yourself?

Theresa:  Thanks for inviting me to visit The Reading Café today! It’s great to be here. A little about me: I have a husband and a daughter (just one of each) and a houseful of books. I like reading even more than writing, which is saying a lot. I also like coffee very much, especially with a drizzle of eggnog in it. Fall and winter are my favorite time of year for beverages.

TRC:  Have you always been interested in writing?

Theresa: I’ve always loved stories, though I can’t say I saw myself as a writer until I had finished my first book! As a kid, I preferred drawing or creating imaginary worlds out of modeling clay. Once I learned to type as a teen, writing got much easier. Schoolwork led to nonfiction writing, which eventually led to me trying to write a story of my own.

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

Theresa: Getting started is always the hardest part, especially if I’m working on a new project and don’t have a very clear idea of it yet. Once a book is underway, the story moves faster and faster and I enjoy writing more and more.

TRC: Would you please give our members, who may not have read this series, a brief description of the premise of Holiday Pleasures? How many books are you anticipating for this series?

Theresa: Happy to! The Holiday Pleasures books are a quartet of historical romances, and each story takes place in part or mostly during the Christmas season. There are continuing characters, but each book can stand on its own and has a firm HEA.

Season for DesireTRC: Season for Desire was released yesterday, and is the 4th book in this series. Would you please give us a brief description of the book?

Theresa: There’s a grumpy American hero with a wicked sense of humor, a pretends-to-be-proper earl’s daughter with an aptitude for mischief, a treasure hunt for long-lost jewels, a secondary romance for an older couple, a bit of insight with a telescope, and sexy snowbound-over-Christmas scenes.

Here’s the back cover copy, which I think captures the story’s sense of fun:


Like her four sisters, Lady Audrina Bradleigh is expected to marry a duke, lead fashion, and behave with propriety. Consequently, Audrina pursues mischief with gusto, attending scandalous parties and indulging in illicit affairs. But when an erstwhile lover threatens to ruin her reputation, Audrina has no choice but to find a respectable husband at once.

Who would guess that her search would lead her to Giles Rutherford, a blunt-spoken American on a treasure hunt of his own? When a Christmas snowstorm strands the pair at a country inn, more secrets are traded than gifts—along with kisses that require no mistletoe—and Audrina discovers even proper gentlemen have their wicked side…

TRC: You have another Historical Romance series, The Matchmaker. Can you please tell us the premise of this series?

Matchmaker Trilogy

Theresa: The heroes and heroines in the Matchmaker trilogy think they are helping one another find love or passion with someone else—but then they fall for each other. The Matchmaker, a happily-married countess, plays a role as confidante in each book and helps the hero and heroine get together. The first story in this trilogy (It Takes Two to Tangle) is a Cyrano story, and the second (To Charm a Naughty Countess) is a Pygmalion story rather like My Fair Lady. But the role of Cyrano and Henry Higgins might not be played by the characters you expect!

TRC: What drew you to write Historical Romance? Have you ever thought about writing another genre?

Theresa: I’ve always loved history, learning about how people did things differently—or the same—in the past. And I’ve always loved romance, too! As a kid, the flirt-squabbling between Han Solo and Princess Leia was my favorite part of the Star Wars movies. So historical romance was a natural fit for me as a reader, and eventually as a writer. I do write nonfiction too, but at this point I’m not writing in any other fiction genres. I’ll never say never, though.

TRC: What is your writing process? Do you have a favorite spot, or time you like to write?   Do you do an outline of your story or just go with the flow?

Theresa: The more I outline and plan, the easier the writing is. I like to write during the day, but with a young daughter, I have to be flexible. I pull a lot of late nights, random evening hours, and even some early morning shifts. I do have a small home office, so once I go in there, it’s clear to me—even if not to my daughter!—that it’s work time.

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

Theresa:  Read read read read read. Or do puzzles with my daughter. If I’m feeling caught up on work, I really like to cook and bake, but usually I’m too frazzled for those to feel like fun.

TRC: What are you working on now? 

Theresa: I’m working on a new historical romance series at the moment. I should be able to announce more details soon!

TRC: Many authors bounce ideas and information between each other and their family and spouses. With whom do you bounce ideas?

Theresa: There are two people who always read my work before it goes to my editor. One is my husband, who doesn’t read much romance but who reads a lot of other genre fiction. He has a good eye for pacing and lets me know if my heroes aren’t acting manly enough. (Ha!) The other is a longtime friend of mine. She’s a talented writer with a great eye for character development, so she lets me know if the emotional heart of the story is ringing true.

TRC: Would you like to add anything else?

Theresa :Thanks again for the chance to visit and chat about Season for Desire—and readers, thanks for stopping by today! If you’ve got any questions, please feel free to throw them at me in the comments. I love chatting with readers.


Favorite Food Pretty much any kind of noodles, with pretty much anything on them.

Favorite Dessert I am a fan of all desserts. But if I had to pick a favorite, either Jelly Bellys or any lemon baked good. (I’m not picky. And I have multiple sweet teeth.)

Favorite TV show My favorite show EVER is Jeeves and Wooster, a BBC show from the early 90s based on P.G. Wodehouse’s hilarious books. But if we’re just talking about shows that are on now, I really like Chopped. My young daughter likes it too, so I’m hoping she’ll start cooking for us (once she’s allowed to use the stove, that is).

Favorite Movie Since I studied silent film for quite a while, I feel I ought to give you the name of a very old movie. But honestly? It’s The Mummy, starring Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz. It’s fast-moving, fun, suspenseful, and it has a brilliant librarian heroine. What’s not to like?

Favorite Fictional Character (not your own) Either Elizabeth Bennet or Jane Eyre. They’re both such real-seeming characters. If they could hop off the pages, I’d love to befriend them.

 Dark or Milk Chocolate Milk chocolate, please, and lots of it.

Dog or Cat  I had cats growing up, and there are lots of dogs in Season for Desire! But my husband is allergic to furry pets, so we don’t have either a dog or a cat now.

TRC: Theresa,thank you very much for taking the time to answer our questions. We wish you the best of luck with Season For Desire.

Theresa: Thanks so much for the chance to visit The Reading Café!


about the author

Historical romance author Theresa Romain pursued an impractical education that allowed her to read everything she could get her hands on. She then worked for universities and libraries, where she got to read even more. Eventually she started writing, too. She lives with her family in the Midwest, where she is working on her next book.

Website / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads

Giveaway beige

Theresa is graciously offering a copy of SEASON FOR DESIRE (winner’s choice of paper, or e-copy (Kindle or Nook format) 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.


4. LIKE us on Twitter


6. LIKE Theresa Romain  on FACEBOOK

7. Giveaway is International

8. Giveaway runs from October  October 8 – October 11,  2014


No More Mr. Nice Guy by Amy Andrews – Review and Interview with the Author

No More Mr. Nice Guy by Amy Andrews – Review and Interview with the Author


No More Mr. Nice GuyAmazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / BAM

Description: Release Date September 29, 2014
He’s done playing the nice guy…

Newly single school counselor Josie Butler just made herself a Sexy To-Do list (featuring Bad Boys only). To her mortification, her best friend’s gorgeous older brother Mack finds it…and laughs. But when Josie goes looking for some sexy fun, Mack’s nice guy side turns all hot bad-assery, and suddenly she’s pinned against an alley wall. Hottest. Sex. Ever.

Veterinarian Mack Kennedy can’t believe Josie wants to ditch her sweet, girl-next-door lifestyle. Even worse, that she’d consider doing it with anyone but him. When she leaves for London they’ll go back to being ‘just friends’ but until then, he’s going to show her just how bad nice guys can be.

And it’s the perfect plan, as long as no one finds out… and no one falls in love.


We might have read similar storylines as NO MORE MR. NICE GUY by Amy Andrews. It’s the boy who  is attracted to his little sister’s best friend. It’s a tried and true formula for a simple reason: the characters have a history and know each other very well. In this case, it was fun reading their bantering when they see each other again. They both quote lines from “Anne of Green Gables”!

Josie has just ended a 5 year relationship that consisted of “beige sex”. She is visiting her best friend and after a night of drinking she writes a Sex “To Do” list! It’s a list of some activities and positions that she wants to try, never expecting anyone else would read it. Mack is the best friend’s big brother and finds the list and teases Josie about it. She gets a little sensitive, goes to a seedy side of town and nearly gets herself raped! That’s when Mack decides that he can be her bad boy and pins her against an alley wall for her best sex ever! Yes, public fornication is on Josie’s list! In that instance, he says, no more Mr. Nice Guy!

This novel is basically Josie and Mack on the sly deciding they will be each other’s “rebound” partner and they work at checking off the “to do” acts on her list. Yes, this novel is mostly the couple connecting through sex and discovering that there is something more to their relationship. Josie must decide if a fling is all she wants or if she should take a chance on love.

If you enjoy a lot of steam in your novels, you will enjoy NO MORE MR. NICE GUY! I connected more to the characters as they fell in love, not just their checking off the list scenes. Yes, I prefer the relationship building, but she had some fun activities on her list! All in all, it was a fun read! I hope you enjoy the good guy being bad!

Reviewed by Jules

Copy provided by Publisher


TRC: Hi Amy and welcome to The Reading Café. Congratulations on the recent release of NO MORE MR. NICE GUY.

Amy AndrewsAmy: Thanks for having me – I’m very excited about my sexy new book!

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

Follow Amy: Goodreads / Website / Twitter / Facebook

Amy: I’m an Aussie author who’s written over 40 contemporary romances. I married the guy I met when I was 16 and we have two teenagers. I’m also a part-time PICU nurse. I love books that make me laugh, cry and sigh as well as great food, good wine, old friends and traveling to far flung places.
And HEA’s. And cowboys. In tool belts.

TRC: Who or what influenced your career in writing?

Amy: I wouldn’t be published today without RWAustralia. The things I learned through them are invaluable. Also, Jennifer Crusie. Getting Rid Of Bradley was the first book of hers I ever read (through a recommendation) and it opened my eyes to a different type of romance and I knew that it was the kind of stuff that I wanted to write!

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

Amy: Read. Of course ☺ Although drinking wine is another favourite past time. When I get to do the two together – bliss!

TRC: As a writer, have any of your experiences as a PICU nurse found their way into your storylines?

Amy: Hell yes! I’ve written 30 medical romances so a lot of my experiences end up in my books. They’re not often directly word-for-word representations but the way I give my characters and the setting an authentic feel is definitely drawn from being a nurse for 27 years.

TRC: Most, if not all, of your storylines are contemporary, romance love stories. Have you considered writing another genre? If so, what genre interests you the most?

Amy: You know, I’m such a contemporary gal and have so many more contemporary stories in my head I have to say I’m never really tempted to write anything else. Having said that the contemp I’m working on at the moment does have a slight paranormal bent…. And I would love to have a go at writing a script.

No More Mr. Nice GuyTRC: NO MORE MR. NICE GUY is your September 2014 release from Entangled Brazen. Would you please tell us something about the premise?

Amy: NMMNG is a best-friends older brother story, a friends-to-lovers story. It revolves around Sal and Josie having a little too many fruity cocktails and Josie writing a sex list. But then Mack, Sal’s older brother finds it and starts to think he could help her out with that. And man – does he ever!

TRC: Is this a stand alone storyline or do you have plans for a series?

Amy: Sal, Mack’s sister, is getting her own story too!

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

Amy: Both Mack and Sal are vets so I had do some research on rabbits and talking Cockatoos and also on Hendra virus which is carried by bats and affects horses and can also be transmitted to humans. It has a very high mortality rate. See what I did there? Snuck in some of my research :- )

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

Amy: I’d say probably a little bit of both. I can write them in the direction I want them to go. Usually… but when they want to take off a good writer knows just to strap themselves in and let those characters fly!

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?

Amy: I think writers have to bleed over the page too if they have any hope of getting their readers to feel that same emotional wrench. There’s a scene in NMMNG that I cried buckets writing and I cry every time I read it. Writers need to find that well of emotion and, more importantly, not be afraid to find it. Don’t shy away from it. I think that’s where writers fail – when they shy from it.

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

Amy: To be honest – I’ve never had writers block (yes, I have probably just cursed myself with the world’s most severe case!) Sure, there are days when the words are more difficult than others. There are times in your life when shit happens and the writing just goes on the backburner. My Mum died a few years ago and I didn’t write properly for a couple of months afterwards (and that’s perfectly okay too). But I’m a firm believer in putting my butt in the chair and just writing one word. Because I know if I can write just one word, another will follow. And that’s what I do on the days when the muse is being recalcitrant – I put my faith in one word.

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

Amy: It’s really important to have a tribe around you understand what it’s like to write. I would never, for example, chat with my husband about my WIP because it’s just not his thing. But my sister is a writer so I bounce ideas off her a lot. I also have a close bunch of writer friends who I can email and chat with about ideas or issues or just have a rant about something that is frustrating and it’s sooo very valuable.

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


I’d like to get to 60 books.
I’d like to be able to truly support myself on my writing alone.
I’d freaking love to win a RITA :- )

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

Amy: My office chair is a fit ball. Sitting for hours can be hard on the back and I’ve found the cushiony support of a fit ball is just right.

TRC: On what are you currently working?

Amy: Sal’s book of course :- )

TRC: Would you like to add anything else?

Amy: For gossip, giveaways and new releases, sign up for Amy’s Newsletter


Favorite Food - Mac and cheese.

Favorite Dessert – treacle steamed pudding/sticky date pudding (I am a pudding girl!)

Favorite TV Show - ack! Too many…. Favourite TV show ever – West Wing. Fav current TV show – The Good Wife

Last Movie You Saw – The 100 foot Journey – freaking awesome!

Favorite Musical Group – lordy! I can’t decide. At the moment I’m loving Play It Again by Luke Bryan

Dark or Milk Chocolate – milk. But I usually eat dark because it’s lower in carbs.

Secret Celebrity Crush – Mark Ruffalo

Last Vacation Destination – Paris :- )

Pet Peeve - never having enough time to read!

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


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!