Fly Away With Me (Blue Moon Harbor #1) by Susan Fox-Review, Interview & Giveaway

Fly Away with Me (Blue Moon Harbor #1) by Susan Fox-Review, Interview and Giveaway

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FLY WAY WITH ME
Blue Moon Harbor #1
by Susan Fox
Release Date:July 25, 2017
Genre: adult, contemporary, romance

Fly Away with Me

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

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Dat July 25, 2017

Known for its rugged beauty and eccentric residents, tiny Blue Moon Harbor is big on love . . .

For busy lawyer Eden Blaine, a trip to a Pacific Northwest island she’s never even heard of is far from a vacation. Eden’s ailing mother has tasked her with finding her long-lost aunt, who once had ties to a commune on the island. Still reeling from a breakup with her longtime boyfriend, romance is the last thing Eden is looking for. But her gorgeous seaplane pilot has her wondering if a carefree rebound fling is exactly what she needs. . .

Aaron Gabriel has no illusions about happily ever after. His troubled childhood made sure of that. But he does appreciate a pretty woman’s company, and Eden is the exact combination of smart and sexy that turns him on. Still, as he helps her search for her missing aunt, the casual relationship he imagined quickly becomes something much more passionate–and much harder to give up. Can two people determined to ignore romance recognize that their heated connection is the kind of love destined to last?

••••••••••

REVIEW: Fly Away with Me begins with Eden Blaine embarking on a trip to try and find her mother’s long,-lost sister. Through a series of very unfortunate events, Eden’s mother has no idea if her sister is dead or alive. The only piece of information they have as to her whereabouts is the name of an island, Destiny, where the aunt headed to long years ago. Eden is bound and determined to find what happened to her aunt, even though she really has no idea where to start. Two things she does know: a little time away may do her some good and failure is not an option. Eden’s mother has been battling cancer, so, Eden being Eden, sets out to make everything okay.

Aaron Gabriel meets his passengers at the port where he will pick them up and fly them to various spots, including his home base of Destiny. Once he’s dropped off everyone except for Eden, he strikes up a conversation with her and offers his help in finding her aunt. The one thing Eden has to promise for his help? Have a little fun while she’s here.

As Eden and Aaron get to know each other a little, Eden immediately realizes that she will indeed need his help. Seems folks on the island have a little bit of a hard time warming up to outsiders. While they set out to question long-time residents of the island, they do start to have a little fun. Their attraction to each other grows and they both find themselves thinking things that they never thought they would. However, as the mystery deepens surrounding Eden’s aunt, neither know what is in store for their very near future.

Fly Away with Me is a nicely written story, and a first for me from author Susan Fox. I loved the character development of the main characters, as well as the eclectic secondary characters. This is not a story with an immediate HEA. They both have to work on themselves individually, as well as trying to be a couple and what comes with that. Fly Away with Me is ultimately a story that teaches you nothing is written in stone, and with hard work, you might carve out a whole lot of happiness for yourself. The first half was a bit slow, but the last half was worth the wait. This one touched me in ways that a romance hasn’t in a very long time. Like I said, this was my first story by Susan Fox, but it definitely won’t be my last. If you’re a romance fan that loves stories with a slow simmer and a real life storyline, you won’t go wrong with Fly Away with Me. Well done, Susan Fox!

Copy supplied for review

Reviewed by Vickie M

Interview-Blue

TRC:Hi Susan and welcome to The Reading Café.

Susan FoxSusan: Thank you so much for having me here!

TRC: Congratulations on the recent release of FLY AWAY WITH ME

Susan: Thanks again! I’m thrilled to be launching a new series (Blue Moon Harbor) set in my own part of the world.

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

Follow Susan: Facebook / Goodreads / Website / Pinterest / Amazon / BookBub

Susan: I’ve lived in Victoria and Vancouver, British Columbia, all my life, and I love the great outdoors as well as great restaurants and theatre. I have degrees in psychology and law, but rather than choose a sensible profession with a secure income, I drifted from job to job, looking for the right fit. I found it, with writing.

I’m fascinated by people, personality, character growth, relationships – and writing romance and women’s fiction is the perfect place to indulge that fascination. My world is a diverse, multicultural one, and that’s the kind of world I write about. I believe a writer has a responsibility, and so my stories always have messages, sometimes pretty blatant and sometimes more subtle. Equality and appreciation of differences are strong values for me. You’ll find some issues in my books, such as dealing with major illnesses or injuries (e.g., Eden’s mother’s cancer in Fly Away With Me) and dysfunctional families (such as Aaron’s), and so on. The stories aren’t heavy, dark ones, but they do involve some emotional stuff. As well as love and laughter, good friends, and some steamy sex. I love romance because the reader (and author!) always knows that no matter how much angst the characters go through, they will emerge stronger, and they’ll find love.

TRC: Who or what influenced your career in writing?

Susan: It took me forever to figure out that I didn’t just love reading fiction, I wanted to write it. That happened when a friend gave me Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones. When I started to write my first book (which will never be published), I knew I’d found my passion.

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

Susan: The biggest challenge was in getting my work published. I’m smart, organized and efficient, and I’m a good writer. And yet it took me 10 years to sell my first book. That was back in the days when self-publishing wasn’t an option. What I learned is that it’s easier to be a lawyer than to sell a book to a publisher. Becoming a lawyer is mostly within your own control: work hard and get good marks, work hard and finance your education, work hard and learn the law, hang out your shingle, and work hard to bring in clients then devote your best efforts to serving them well. But all the hard work and best efforts can’t make a publisher buy your work. I came close, so many times. When I did sell that first book to Kensington in 2005, it wasn’t that that particular book (Champagne Rules) was any better than the previous ones, it was a matter of luck and timing. I’d written a book that happened to fit with the new Aphrodisia line that Kensington planned to launch.

Trying to make decent money as an author is an ongoing challenge. I’ve written for Berkley and Harlequin as well as Kensington, and I’ve also done some self-publishing. Right now, Kensington is the best home for me. I’m certainly not getting rich, but I’m writing the kind of stories I want to write, with a supportive editor and publishing team.

Fly Away with MeTRC: Would you please tell us something about the premise of FLY AWAY WITH ME and the Blue Moon Harbor series?

Susan: The idea for the series setting came from my boating in the Gulf Islands near Victoria, British Columbia (something my partner and I do every summer). I love the ocean and the islands, which have a diverse and quirky population. So I’m writing about a small community setting, as with my Caribou Crossing books which are set in ranching country in B.C.’s interior. But an island has the added quality of only being accessible by water or air – it’s isolated and weather-dependent.

I created a fictional island and named it Destiny, because I thought that would lead to some interesting book titles. I named the village Blue Moon Harbor because who doesn’t love the romantic notion of a blue moon? My publisher, Kensington, decided to use Blue Moon Harbor as the series name.

I love seaplanes, and they’re an intrinsic part of island life, so making my first hero a seaplane pilot was a “well, duh!” kind of thing. To make for contrast and conflict, I thought Aaron needed an off-island heroine, and who could be more different from him than a big city lawyer? Eden’s not there on holiday, but on a mission for her ailing mom, to find her mother’s long-lost sister who ran away from home in 1969. A newly-discovered letter indicates she joined the island commune way back then.

Eden is responsible and driven. Aaron is easygoing (at least that’s the image he presents to the world) and he’s determined to teach Eden how to have fun.

Coming off a breakup, Eden’s not interested in a serious relationship, but a rebound fling sounds good to her. And Aaron, whose dysfunctional childhood made him cynical about finding love, only ever seeks casual relationships. So they’re on the same page – at least until their heartstrings start getting tugged!

But how could long-term be possible for them? She’s devoted to her family and career in Ottawa. He’s equally devoted to his career on Destiny, and to his single-parent younger sister and her little girl.

All the same, when you find your love on Destiny, life will never be the same!

I had originally titled the book Destiny Calls, but my publisher wasn’t keen on using “destiny” because they thought it might have religious connotations for some people. Fly Away With Me was my agent’s suggestion. It’s perfect, because of course Aaron flies away with Eden’s heart.

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

Susan: I’m not a big plotter, but I do need to feel fairly confident that I have enough of a story to make a 100,000 word book. I don’t need to know many plot details, but I need to know that I have characters who can carry a romance story. They need to be interesting, complex, relatable, and they need to have issues.

I don’t tend to do a lot of research ahead of time, just enough to get me into the story. For Fly Away With Me, for example, I already knew the setting because I’ve visited the Gulf Islands all my life, and as I said earlier, I go boating there a lot. (We have a 1960s vintage old wooden boat, a 36’ Shepherd.) I did do a bit of historical and factual research on the islands, to draw on in creating my fictional Destiny Island. I wanted to use a fictional island rather than a real one so I’d have more creative freedom.

The hero Aaron is a seaplane pilot. I’ve flown in seaplanes – and even flown one – so I didn’t have to do initial research on that. I did some as I was writing, to fine-tune the details. Eden’s a lawyer with a foundation that funds charities, and I had a pretty good idea of her job. But with some books, if I don’t know much about the heroine’s or hero’s occupations, I may need to do up-front research.

Or if a heroine or hero has an illness or injury (e.g., my hero’s leg amputation and PTSD in Ring of Fire), I’ll need to research that in order to get a clear idea of the issues that character deals with on a practical and emotional level. Those things are key to the character’s personality – and personality is key to how the story will develop.

So, basically, I do enough research up front to understand my setting and my two main characters, and then I let the story develop as I write, and do additional research as needed. I’ll often skip some of the nitpicky details while I’m writing and then fill them in later.

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

Susan: It made me write faster and be more focused. I no longer had the luxury of messing around with a manuscript for as long as I wanted. I also felt the pressure to make each book the absolute best I could, because real people would be reading it. But I’m a disciplined, organized person, so it wasn’t too much of a stretch. And I was so thrilled to finally have publishing contracts and to know that my characters and stories would be reaching readers, I was happy to put in the extra hours and effort.

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

Susan: The hardest were probably a couple of sex scenes in Bound to be Dirty, one of my Dirty Girls Book Club erotic romances for Berkley Heat. The premise of the series was that each time the book club read a “dirty book,” one of the members would have a sexy romance that in some ways paralleled that story. In Bound to be Dirty (which came out after Fifty Shades of Grey), the club decided they had to read a BDSM book, since everyone else was doing it. Book club member Lily (a family practice doctor) was married to Dax (a helicopter bush pilot), their marriage was in serious trouble, and they started trying out some very mild BDSM stuff. It was more about exploring their relationship and developing communication, trust, and intimacy than about actual BDSM sex, but I did have to figure out how to write all aspects of the sex scenes.

And there lay my problem, because I personally can’t relate to BDSM. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with it, for two equal partners who both want it and consent and have a safe word, but for me the concept of one person being dominant and the other submissive makes me squirmy – and not in a nice way! But it was good for me to have to push myself – and of course the story wasn’t about me, it was about Lily and Dax and how they felt about themselves and each other. I also had an interesting time with the book club as they discussed the novel they were reading. Four young, intelligent, self-sufficient women, sharing their viewpoints!

TRC: There is a fine line between romance, erotic, and erotica in many of today’s popular contemporary fiction. Many authors are re-issuing their previously erotic story lines with ‘cleaner’ versions without the use of over the top, sexually graphic language and text. What do you believe has precipitated this move or change in direction?

Susan: The publishing world goes through phases. My first book (Champagne Rules) came out in February 2006, and all the traditional publishers were jumping on the erotic romance bandwagon, after seeing how successful e-publishers had been with those books. My Awesome Foursome series with Kensington Aphrodisia and my destination wedding series with Berkley Heat were branded as erotic romance. They were spicier than the books I’m writing now, but not hot or kinky enough for a lot of erotic romance readers, so they didn’t do terribly well.

The next trend was for many contemporary romances to become steamier, and at that point many of the erotic romance lines faded away. But then came Fifty Shades of Grey and the world “discovered” erotic romance. LOL. That seemed ridiculous to the authors who’d already been writing erotic romance for many years, but what that one book did was break through to the truly mainstream audience. It also spearheaded another surge in the popularity of erotic romance – especially the kind that featured BDSM.

But now that trend seems to have faded again, and we’re back to just having a nice range of romance. Everything from super-hot and kinky through to barely even a hint of sexual tension. It’s terrific that readers can find just the level of heat that works for them.

Why are authors turning their previously issued erotic stories into cleaner ones for reissue? For many, I’d guess that they figured those books had their opportunity to reach erotic romance readers. Now the authors have their rights back and are self-publishing the books, and they hope to reach a different audience.

Also, authors get tired of writing the same thing. Writing hot sex that’s believable, original, and steamy is really difficult. And you can, if you’ll pardon the pun, burn out on it. So if an author who once wrote erotic romance has turned to writing less erotic, as I have, then she may want all her current releases to appeal to her current readers rather than shocking or disgusting them with too much or too explicit or too kinky sex.

It’ll be interesting to see how some of those reissues work. With erotic romance, I always figured the premise of the story needed to be a sexy one. You had to find some reason for the characters to have sex early in the story. And then you needed not just a lot of sexual tension but also a fair number of sex scenes, because that’s something the readers were looking for. So, how do you take a book that’s as “erotic” as it is “romantic,” and take out the eroticism? Seems to me it would be like trying to take the suspense out of a romantic suspense novel, or taking the religious aspect out of an inspirational romance. But if authors can do it, and readers enjoy the result, then more power to all of them!

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

Susan: It sure does for me, and I know I’m not the only one. The cover conveys so much about the book. For example, I usually won’t choose a book with a “hot, semi-naked guy” cover, because to me that suggests the book’s going to be more about the sexuality of the relationship than the emotionality. Nothing against sex – I write explicit sex scenes myself – but I want the emotions to be the most important part of the book. If I’ve read a blurb or review that really appeals to me, I won’t let the cover put me off getting the book, but if I’m just scanning a page full of covers, I pretty quickly narrow my focus to the books I’m most likely to be interested in.

Kensington asked me for cover ideas for Fly Away With Me and I said I wanted to convey the setting, and the fact that the story is a romance. I thought the seaplane aspect of the book was interesting, so suggested a couple on a dock with a seaplane. Kensington did a cover shoot and gave me everything I asked for! My only complaint is that the male model isn’t as rugged and masculine as Aaron.

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

Susan: A bit of both. It’s a joint effort, and we kind of trade off. In the beginning, I put a fair bit of thought into figuring out who they are. My goal is to create characters who are so multi-dimensional and genuine that they can then more or less take over and I just transcribe as they direct me. But usually I’ll stall at one or more points as I’m writing, which basically means they’ve stopped telling me what to type. Then I have to step away from the keyboard and do some more reflecting. I need to talk to the characters in my head, do more analysis, get to know them even better. And then they pretty much decide what they’re going to do next, and I get back to taking direction from them.

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

Susan: In all sorts of ways. Sometimes names just pop into my mind or I see interesting names in TV credits or magazines. I have lists of names that interest me and I review them when I’m naming new characters. I’ll check popular baby names for the year the character was born. Ethnic background is a factor. I’ve also asked for suggestions on my Facebook page.
Here’s how I came up with the names in Fly Away With Me. Eden: A friend gave her baby that name, and I loved it. Blaine: I wanted a simple surname, one syllable after the two-syllable first name, something that sounded good with Eden, so I just hunted through names until one felt right. Aaron: He was originally Adam, a name I like and have never used for a hero, but someone pointed out that Adam and Eden was too Biblical – something I’d never actually realized myself, even though it seems obvious – so I looked for something similar and hit on Aaron. Gabriel: It’s a name I just love, one I’ve used as a hero’s first name (in Finding Isadora), so I indulged and let myself use it again, this time as a surname. I also loved naming Di and Seal SkySong, but if I told you any more about that, it would be a spoiler!

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

Susan: I totally agree with you. For me, reading is all about the emotions. That’s why I write stories that are character-driven more than plot-driven. I think the key, for the author, is to “go deep.” Deep into who the character is, how her (or his) life up to now has shaped her, what she hopes for and fears, what she cares about and values, all of that stuff. Who she is when the story starts, and how she reacts emotionally to everything that happens during the story. How she makes decisions (e.g., mostly with her heart or with her mind?) and how she evaluates those decisions. And so on, and so on. I have a psychology degree and I’m fascinated by everything that goes into making us who we are and shaping our behavior and emotions. So, for me, I spend a lot of time getting to know my characters and then I try to put myself into their shoes. I talk to them in my head, like I’m having a conversation with someone I care about, whom I want to know even better.

As for other writers, well, I hate to judge. And reading is so subjective. Different things appeal to each of us. But if a reader is looking to be pulled into the emotional journey and finds that isn’t happening, then maybe the author didn’t actually want it to happen. Maybe the author wanted a story that was more plot-driven – perhaps thrilling or humorous – so that the reader cares more about events and actions than emotions. I find that some mysteries and police procedurals are like this.

In other cases, I think authors just don’t take the time to “sit with” their characters and stories for very long. They may be driven to turn out X number of books per year, and while some authors are capable of producing brilliant and emotional stories in a short time-frame, others just aren’t.

Or, of course, some authors simply don’t want to “go deep” on some emotional issues. For example, it was hard for me to write about Eden’s mom’s cancer, because my mother had cancer too. Ovarian cancer, in her case, and she did survive. But it was of course very hard on her, and on my stepdad and me. I used lessons from that time in writing Fly Away With Me, and I shed some tears. If an issue hits particularly close to home, an author just may not want to “go there” on a deep emotional level. And so they don’t take the reader there.

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

Susan: I don’t listen when I’m actually writing. I find music too distracting. But occasionally, if a certain song is relevant to a story I’m working on, I’ll listen to it before I start writing, or during a writing break. With the Caribou Crossing Romances, I listened to a lot of country music and developed a real appreciation for it. It was fun finding songs to match the stories, and then seeing that those songs influenced the direction of the story.

For the book I’m writing now (Sail Away With Me), one of the songs I’ve listened to is Ricky Nelson’s “I Will Follow You.” My heroine’s grandmother said it was the story of her romance with her hubby – and let’s just say, the song plays a role in my heroine’s love story, too!

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

Susan: That we’re rich! Or that we write just because we love it, not as an actual job. They therefore think it’s okay to download free books that have been pirated (i.e., stolen) from us. I don’t expect my doctor or car mechanic or hairdresser to work for free, so why should some readers think they shouldn’t have to pay for books? For most authors, if we can’t earn an income from our writing, then we have to do it from some other job – which means we have less, or even no, writing time. Which means fewer books out there for readers.

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

Susan: My parents split up when I was in my early teens and didn’t tell me. Supposedly, my father was away on a business trip. How did I find out? When someone phoned for him, I said he was out of town, and they said they’d seen him in town the previous day. This was at Christmas. Let’s just say, it wasn’t the happiest Christmas of my life. Within a few months, they were divorced.

TRC: On what are you currently working?

Susan: I’m continuing the Blue Moon Harbor series. The next story is “Blue Moon Harbor Christmas” in Winter Wishes, a holiday anthology (October 2017) that also contains novellas by Fern Michaels, Jules Bennett, and Leah Marie Brown. Then Come Home With Me will be out in late December, and Sail Away With Me in the fall of 2018. I’m just finishing the manuscript of Sail Away with Me now. And pitching another book in the series: Come Dance With Me.

TRC: Would you like to add anything else?

Susan: I’d love to hear readers’ thoughts on my new series, my writing process, and my new release. I’m also happy to answer any questions.

I hope readers will visit my Website (where they can subscribe to my newsletter, find all sorts of info about all my books, and get in touch with me) and my Facebook page. I’m also on Amazon , Pinterest, Goodreads and BookBub.

LIGHTNING ROUND

Favorite Food: Depends totally on my mood.

Favorite Dessert: The Grand Marnier soufflé I was served at a French restaurant on the island of St. Martin. Other than that, I’d go with a rich dark chocolate cupcake with almond icing.

Favorite TV Show: Heartland. It’s a Canadian production, set on the prairies, about family, relationships, and horses.

Last Movie You Saw: Dirty Dancing. I watched the TV version and was so disappointed, I had to go back and watch the original Patrick Swayze, Jennifer Grey original. Which I just happen to own.

Dark or Milk Chocolate: Dark. Only ever dark.

Secret Celebrity Crush: Richard Gere, at any age. Love, love, love his eyes and expressive face.

Last Vacation Destination: That’s actually a tough question! Boating in the Gulf Islands – does that count? Last winter’s motor home trip to southern California. Or, if you mean an actual real big trip, then St. Martin, a few years ago.

Do you have any pets?: No. Our lifestyle doesn’t really allow for it. I just enjoy the wildlife around me.

Last book you read: Sycamore by Bryn Chancellor.

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

Susan: Thanks again for this opportunity!

giveaway

Susan Fox is graciously offering a signed, paper copy of FLY AWAY WITH ME to ONE (1) commenter at The Reading Cafe. Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY

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Surrender The Dark (The Dark #1) by Tibby Armstrong-Review & Interview

SURRENDER THE DARK (The Dark #1) by Tibby Armstrong-Review and Interview

Surrender the Dark

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

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date May 23, 2017

As a provocative series of paranormal temptation begins, a vampire king seduces the supernaturally gifted man hunting him. But when the stakes are literally life or death, their struggle for control is no game.

Benjamin Fuller is a hunter, born and bred. Blinded as a child by the vampire who slaughtered his family, he’s blessed with a second sight that allows him to catch and kill his quarry. What his gift can’t help him see coming is his fierce, almost carnal attraction to the mystery man who claims to be a fellow hunter and whose touch triggers both lust and revulsion. When he gains the upper hand, Benjamin vows to bring his enemy to his knees.

After many years spent in exile, the only one who can help restore Tzadkiel Dragoumanos to his rightful place as War King is a blind hunter with golden curls, a lithe dancer’s physique, and distinctive facial scars—scars Tzadkiel gave him two decades ago. The mere scent of Benjamin Fuller provokes an unwelcome rush of insatiable desire. Yet to win an all-out supernatural war, Tzadkiel must resist the ravenous hunger to possess his prey—for now.

•••••••••••

REVIEW: I had not read anything by this author before reading this book.

I read the back cover and was hooked…. How could the author manage to make Ben the vampire hunter and Tzadkiel the vampire that killed his family and blinded him go from enemies to lovers?

Ben’s a hunter, from a long line of hunters, when Ben was eight, his parents and uncle were slaughtered by a vampire and he was blinded. Ben had to learn quick and he did….. For the last 20 years, Ben has hunted and killed as many vampires as he could find in his home town of Boston. He hunts with his two best friends, Nyx, who is part witch and part fae, and Akito, who has always wanted to be a superhero.

The vampire in question has been walking the earth for thousands of years, but the last 20 years Tzadkiel has been in hiding, trying to heal from his injuries that were inflicted by Ben’s family. He has a plan, though, to get his strength back and also strengthen his mora (his vampire family) once again, he will need to take out the hunter in Boston.

Tzadkiel sets out to teach Ben a lesson before he ends his life, so he pretends to be a hunter like Ben, and to reeducate Ben in the art of vampire killing. He makes Ben’s previous teachings from his family a sham, he puts doubt into Ben’s mind. He makes him question his own background.

Ben and Tzadkiel and are very attracted to one another and neither of them can seem to stop it. But there is so much between them, that it takes a while before any real feelings emerge. There is a lot of hatred and mistrust.

But there is a power struggle going on in Boston that puts everyone in danger, there are zombies and strange goings on, so Ben and Tzadkiel decide that it’s better the devil you know basis and form an uneasy alliance between them.

So will they have a happy ending? It was hard to believe they would, there was so much hatred and bad blood between them, I couldn’t see how. So I won’t tell you 😉you’ll have to buy the book and find out yourself.

Copy supplied for review

Reviewed by Julie B

Interview

TRC: Hi, Tibby and welcome to The Reading Café.

Tibby: Thank you for having me. I’m thrilled to be here!

TRC: Congratulations on the release of SURRENDER THE DARK

Tibby ArmstrongTibby: It’s such a thrill to have the book out in the world and to be able to share it with you and your readers!

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

Follow: Website / Goodreads / Twitter /Facebook /

Tibby: I come from a family that had a book addiction. There are more bookshelves in my family than family members, and more books in three of our homes than in all of my home town public library. I think I started writing out of self defense. At least at first, writing my own stories was easier on my budget.

Thinking I would love to work as well as live around books 24/7, I obtained a Master’s of Library science in 2011. Alas, the economy and my student loans didn’t support my actually working in a library. So, now I work in the technology sector by day and allow my author alter ego to come out on nights and weekends.

TRC: Who or what influenced your career in writing?

Tibby: I grew up in a house with 10 people, my great grandparents included. My great grandmother used to tell me stories as I fell asleep at night. She came up with tales about elves who lived in our backyard, as well as relating the fun of being the middle of a family of 12 children. It’s safe to say that my imagination is influenced in large part by my relationship with her.

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

Tibby: I’ve been extraordinarily lucky with publishing my work. My third completed novel was picked up a few months after I completed the pages. I’ve had some wonderful mentors, friends, and professionals such as my agent and my editors to rely on. If I had to say anything has been difficult, it’s that I work pretty much seven days a week and don’t take vacations because I need to use that time to meet my deadlines. I love writing though, so it’s really no sacrifice.

Surrender the DarkTRC: Would you please tell us something about SURRENDER THE DARK?

Tibby: The plot of Surrender the Dark came to me almost three years ago when I had first moved back to the Boston area for work. I was walking down a snowy street in Cambridge, Massachusetts, wondering how a person with visual impairments would navigate the icy brick sidewalks, when I looked up and saw a Victorian building decorated with gargoyles and urns. I thought, “Hm. That would be a great place for a vampire to crouch in wait for its quarry.” On the heels of that came the thought, “Blind vampire hunter.” Boom! A story was born!

TRC: How many books do you have planned for the series? Is the series entirely M/M based?

Tibby: There are three books planned for the series. They are all m/m, of a sort. The third book explores some gender issues, but I think readers will be intrigued. I know I am!

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

Tibby: I think most folks enjoy a certain amount of predictability in Romance, but the key is to satisfy those expectations while keeping the world and conflicts fresh. Tropes can be used as long as they’re used for a reason. The key is to make those choices consciously and to let the characters and conflict drive the story. Also, I rarely read inside my own genre anymore. I read outside the genre and find that weaving storytelling methods from those other genres into my own process helps me not to reach for the “easy fix”. Some authors can read in their genre, but I’m not someone who can do that without getting bogged down.

TRC: You write several different genres. Which do you prefer? Which do you find the most difficult?

Tibby: True! I write contemporary, paranormal, m/m and m/f. I find PNR the most challenging, but the most enjoyable. The complexity of world building, characterization, and plot keep me engaged more fully. I have had a marvelous time writing contemporary stories, but PNR has long been my first love.

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

Tibby: I do believe the cover image is very important. It’s a shorthand that tells readers several things at a glance:

1. The genre
2. The tone (light, dark, fun, angsty)
3. The quality of production put into the book by the publisher (Did the publisher believe in the book enough to spend time on the cover?)
4. Author brand

If the cover is compelling it will make the reader stop and notice the book, picking it out of a sea of other available and often wonderful options.

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

Tibby: Oh, it’s very much the characters directing the show. If I don’t give them control, they simply shut up and I have nothing to write or what I write comes out wooden. I learned a long time ago that they run the show!

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

Tibby: My goodness. I don’t know that I’m qualified to say why writers might fail in showing emotions, but I think the key here is “show.” If you tell readers “It was a dark and stormy night,” you’re setting a scene, but it’s a cardboard cutout that evokes little. Writing, instead, “Tree branches scraped the leaded pane windows, their shadows like bony fingers on the ceiling. Thunder cracked, the simultaneous lightning flash illuminating the room. Sophia stifled a scream. Jared stood at the end of her bed i. He smelled of rain and freshly turned earth.”

We’ve set the scene and created anticipation so that when Jared does appear, we’re experiencing the authenticity of Sophia’s emotions. To merely say “it was a dark and stormy night” makes the reader feel as if they are watching a costume drama minus the costumes and period setting.

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

Tibby: I do! However, I don’t usually find my playlist for the novel until I’ve written several chapters and understand a little more about the characters. Then, I go on Pandora and listen to my Alternative station until I find the songs that speak to mood and psychology. Sometimes those songs influence the emotions later in the story, but mostly they support the ones I’ve already discovered.

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

Tibby: I have several critique partners. I also bounce ideas off of my editor and agent.

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

Tibby: Probably that we are born knowing how to write. Learning to tell a good story takes many years of practice.

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

Tibby: There’s not much I won’t tell people, given a chance. So, not much! Though my close friends know this, possibly not many of my readers do, however. The character of Greg in No Apologies lives the career that I wanted for myself. He also has some life experiences that were also my own.

TRC: On what are you currently working?

Tibby: Currently, I’m working on the second draft of the follow-up novel to Surrender the Dark. It is titled Taste the Dark, and tells the story of Akito, who falls in love with Lyandros, brother to the vampire king.

TRC: Would you like to add anything else?

Tibby: Thank you for having me! I hope you and your readers enjoy Surrender the Dark!

LIGHTNING ROUND

Favorite Food

Smoothies!

Favorite Dessert

Cheesecake

Favorite TV Show

Currently, The Crown and Victoria. I’m researching a historical PNR!

Last Movie You Saw

Oh dear. I can’t recall. It has been a while.

Dark or Milk Chocolate

It depends on the chocolate. If it’s really expensive dark chocolate, it can triumph over milk chocolate. My guilty pleasure, however, are Cadbury Mini Eggs.

Secret Celebrity Crush

Daniel Craig

Last Vacation Destination

Manhattan

Do you have any pets?

I have two cats, Dean and Diana.

Last book you read

Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance by Lois McMaster Bujold. If you haven’t read Cordelia’s Honor, pick it up!

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

Tibby: Thank you for having me. I’ve enjoyed myself immensely!

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The Bridal Squad (Enchanted Bridal #2) by Samantha Chase-Review, Interview & Giveaway

THE BRIDAL SQUAD (Enchanted Bridal #2) by Samantha Chase-Review, Interview & Giveaway

The Bridal Squad Banner

THE BRIDAL SQUAD
Enchanted Bridal #2
by Samantha Chase
Genre: adult, contemporary, romance
Release Date: May 10, 2017

The Bridal Squad

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

About the book: Release Date May 10, 2017

Click HERE for more details about Samantha Chase and the Enchanted Bridal series

The Friday Night Brides are back! And this time, it’s their first season running the business! It was one thing to just model in a weekly fashion show, it’s quite another to be the ones calling the shots and making future brides’ dreams come true. Their first client has them wondering if they’re really prepared for their new roles!

The Bride: Julianne is big on fitness, small on patience. And planning her wedding is grating on her every last nerve. As a Zumba instructor, she loves the freedom to create and choreograph her routines and help others achieve their goals, but having to stand back and let others choreograph her big day has her wanting to hip-hop toward eloping!

The Matron of Honor: As the only married member of the bridal party, Natalie considers herself the aficionado on all-things weddings. And even though her time in the spotlight is over, that doesn’t mean she isn’t full of ideas on how her best friend’s wedding should look and feel and be! And it doesn’t take long for her to realize that maybe it’s not so much that she’s wanting to help as it is that she’s afraid of her own honeymoon ending.

The Bride’s Sister: Nothing screams unwanted relationship advice than when your younger sister gets married before you. It’s not that Harper doesn’t want to get married, after three failed engagements she really does! But finding the right man to walk down the aisle with is proving harder than she thought. And it gets even harder when constantly being compared to the perfect couple!

The Reluctant Bridesmaid: There is nothing Kayla wants more than to see one of her best friend’s get married…if only the whole process wasn’t so exhausting! Travel and adventure and being on the go fuels her. Having to stay in one place for an extended period of time while wearing taffeta? Not so much. Her job tends to take her away on a moment’s notice and this is one time she may have to pass up the trip of a lifetime in the name of friendship.

•••••••••

REVIEW:  THE BRIDAL SQUAD is the second installment in Samantha Chase’s contemporary, adult ENCHANTED BRIDAL romance series. Like the first book Friday Night Brides, THE BRIDAL SQUAD focuses on four women-Julianne, Natalie, Harper and Kayla-four friends whose personal lives implode as they make preparations for Julianne’s wedding.

Told from several third person points of view THE BRIDAL SQUAD follows the four friends as they traverse a minefield of relationship hiccups and disasters-misunderstandings, new love, fear of commitment, meddling mothers, and being taken for granted. While Julianne makes plans for her upcoming nuptials, everyone’s life begins to spiral out of control until the bride-to-be announces she was done with it all.

THE BRIDAL SQUAD looks at four women whose personal struggles are not unlike the reality of relationships and love but for each their battles loom larger through a lack of communication, issues of trust, secrets and the sheer exhaustion of their friend’s impending wedding.

Samantha Chase writes a heartwarming, realistic and poignant story of romance, and love, heartbreak and pain, perception and emotional withdrawal for four women who love hard, and work hard for love. Julianne battles for control of her wedding; Harper can never measure up to her mother’s ideals; Kayla receives an ultimatum; and Natalie realizes she may had made the biggest mistake of her life. THE BRIDAL SQUAD is an enjoyable, animated and lighthearted look at life. The premise is playful and energetic, and the characters are vivacious and passionate.

Click HERE for Sandy’s review of book 1-FRIDAY NIGHT BRIDES

Copy supplied by the publisher through Netgalley

Reviewed by Sandy

Interview

CATCHING UP with Samantha Chase

TRC: Hi Samantha and welcome back to The Reading Café.

Congratulations on the release of THE BRIDAL SQUAD-the second installment in your Enchanted Bridal Series.SamanthaChase

For anyone new to Samantha Chase, please tell us something about yourself?

Follow: Goodreads / Twitter / Website / Facebook

Samantha: Thanks for having me back! I write contemporary romance – some call it sweet, but I like to just mention that most of the sexy stuff happens behind closed doors!

 

TRC: Who or what influenced your career in writing?

Samantha: I started reading romances in the 7th grade when my science lab partner introduced me to Harlequin romances. I was instantly hooked. I always knew that I loved writing stories, but it wasn’t until I got serious about reading romances that I knew that’s what I wanted to write. Sandra Brown was a huge influence on me wanting to do it.

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

Samantha: There are so many amazing authors out there that it’s hard to stand out and find readers! I am fortunate in that I am a full-time writer so I can set my own schedule and really write the books that I want to, but finding and keeping an audience is a constant challenge.

The Bridal SquadTRC: Would you please tell us something about THE BRIDAL SQUAD and Enchanted Bridal Series?

Samantha: There was never really going to be a series! Whew…it’s good to finally admit that! I had originally published THE WEDDING SEASON as a standalone. FRIDAY NIGHT BRIDES was a story that I always wanted to write because growing up, I knew a family who owned a bridal shop and they did those fashion shows and I was always intrigued by them. As I started to plan it, I was talking to a friend about it and she mentioned using some of the characters from WEDDING SEASON and I thought “Why not?” So we sort of considered that the prequel. Readers seemed to really enjoy FRIDAY NIGHT BRIDES and I knew I could totally do more with the girls from that story but bring them back in supporting roles.

I wrote THE BRIDAL SQUAD in a very short amount of time. I won’t say how short, but trust me, it was! And the interesting thing was that I didn’t really know what I wanted these girls to be dealing with. I knew the dynamic that I wanted but this story was truly a by-the-seat-of-my-pants event. As the story progressed, I have to admit that even I was surprised at where some of the stories went but in the end, I felt like these were women who I would want to be friends with and the response from readers has confirmed that they would as well!

TRC: Are any of the characters based in reality?

Samantha: The character of Angie is based on a friend of mine. I mean like solidly based on her personality, not the life situation that the character in the book finds herself in. But most of my characters end up being a combination of people that I’ve known in my life.

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

Friday Night BridesSamantha: While I’m physically writing, the only sound I usually hear is my dog snoring or I put on a Sounds of the Ocean CD. However, almost all of my books have at least one song that has either inspired a particular scene or even the entire book. I tend to turn to music when I have writers block and that’s how I’ll find that perfect song to help me out.

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

Samantha: That writing is easy. I get so upset when people get flippant about what I do and then say “Oh maybe I’ll write a book!” It’s not easy. And it doesn’t get any easier. Each book takes more hours that I think it will and it means that I sit at my desk for fourteen hours a day or I don’t go out of my house for days on end.

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

Samantha: I’m actually kind of an introvert. Online I don’t seem that way, but most times if given the choice, I will gladly stay home with my husband and son and just hang out and watch TV.

TRC: On what are you currently working?

Samantha: I am currently working on two books. The first is a new book in my Montgomery Brothers series. No title yet and I’m about 40K into it. And the other is book three in the Preston’s Mill series that I am co-writing with Noelle Adams called Complicating.

LIGHTNING ROUND

Favorite Food – Steak

Favorite Dessert – chocolate milkshake

Favorite TV Show – Modern Family

Last Movie You Saw – Beauty and the Beast

Dark or Milk Chocolate – Dark

Secret Celebrity Crush – Jeffery Dean Morgan

Last Vacation Destination – San Diego

Do you have any pets? – Yes! My sassy pug Maylene

Last book you read – An ARC of GOING IN DEEP by Carly Phillips. And I LOVED it!!

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

Giveaway

Samantha and her publicist are offering an ecopy of THE BRIDAL SQUAD to THREE (3) commenters at The Reading Cafe.

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

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

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

3. Please follow Samantha Chase on Facebook.

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

5. LIKE The Reading Cafe on Twitter for an additional entry.

6. Please follow The Reading Cafe on Tumblr

7. Giveaway is open to  international entries.

8. Giveaway runs from May 12-16, 2017

Trident Media Group

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

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

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

Lessons in Letting Go

Amazon.com / Amazon.ca / KOBO /

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date December 12, 2016

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

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

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

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

•••••••••••

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

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

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

Copy supplied for review.

Reviewed by Xtina

excerpt

 

Rhys That Night

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

Monday

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

 

Interview

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

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

Follow: Goodreads / Website / Twitter / Facebook

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

TRC:  Who or what influenced your career in writing?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TRC:  On what are you currently working?

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

TRC:  Would you like to add anything else?

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

LIGHTNING ROUND

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

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

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

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

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

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

Last Vacation Destination: Colorado for some skiing.

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

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

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

 

Giveaway Black and Lime

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

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

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

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

3. LIKE Jessica Peterson on Facebook

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

5. LIKE us on Twitter for an additional entry.

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

7. Please follow The Reading Cafe on Tumblr

8. Giveaway open Internationally

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

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NOTE: The Reading Cafe is NOT responsible for the rafflecopter giveaway. If you have any questions, please contact the author

Click HERE to enter the rafflecopter giveaway

 

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Poet of the Wrong Generation by Lonnie Ostrow-Review, Interview & Giveaway

POET OF THE WRONG GENERATION by Lonnie Ostrow-Review, Interview and Giveaway

Poet of the Wrong Generation Banner

POET OF THE WRONG GENERATION
by Lonnie Ostrow
Release Date: November 10, 2016
Genre: fiction, contemporary romance

Poet of the Wrong Generation

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

RELEASE DATE: November 10, 2016

“It’s not that I don’t love you, and my tears are yet to dry. But you can’t go back and forth forever and we’ve already said goodbye.”

Through these words, a young poet unearths his musical soul while severing ties with the woman he loves after her stunning betrayal. Unknowingly, in writing this ballad of liberation, he will soon evolve as one of the fastest rising stars on the pop music landscape.

The year is 1991; the place, New York City. Here we meet Johnny Elias, a college student from Brooklyn with boundless adoration for two things in life: timeless popular music, and the heart of a sweet, complicated young woman who is clearly out of his league.

Megan Price not only is the object of Johnny’s affection, but also the only daughter of New York’s most powerful PR woman: the indomitable Katherine Price.

Projecting that her daughter’s boyfriend will never live up to the family standard, Katherine cleverly perpetrates a series of duplicitous schemes to rid Johnny from her high-class world. But in her callous disregard, she inadvertently sets him on a determined course to his improbable musical destiny – while sending her own daughter spiraling down a path of devastation.

Poet of the Wrong Generation tells the symmetrical story of a lovable underdog and his meteoric rise to stardom, his humiliating downfall and his unprecedented attempt to reclaim his place as the unlikely musical spokesman for his generation. At the heart of Poet is a tale of star-crossed lovers and their struggle with unforeseen success and disillusionment, in an attempt to rediscover lasting harmony.

Uniquely integrating a variety of original song compositions, Poet projects the epic clash between true contentment and the fable of stardom’s rewards; a nostalgic journey through the major events of the 1990s, with a cherished cast of characters and a stunningly unpredictable conclusion.

•••••

REVIEW: POET OF THE WRONG GENERATION by Lonnie Ostrow is an amazing and cleverly written, contemporary romance story of fiction following musician Johnny Elias, and the woman he loves Megan Price.

Told from several third person points of view, POET OF THE WRONG GENERATION covers approximately six years in the life, beginning in 1991, of contemporary singer/song writer and poet Johnny Elias –from his early days in college to his meteoric rise to fame and fortune, and the eventual downfall, not of his making. The reader is front and center as twenty one year old Johnny Elias enters into the world of an upstart musician working his way to the top. Before Johnny’s life begins its quick ascent he will lose the one person who keeps his heart beating and his soul alive. Megan’s rejection of the boy that she loves is the perfect muse for our story line hero, and with it comes the fame and notoriety of celebrity status and the fortunes of success…but jealousy, revenge and betrayal are accomplices to Johnny’s fall from grace- a fall that is triggered by someone from his past.

POET OF THE WRONG GENERATION is an astonishing and profound story; a unique look at one man’s climb to the top only to be destroyed by someone else’s greed, ambition, and need for retribution and revenge; a story of forbidden love between two people whose lives will be destroyed by resentment, the hunger for power, and a need to control. Lonnie Ostrow’s POET OF THE WRONG GENERATION is a masterpiece of literary fiction for today’s generation and the next.Make POET OF THE WRONG GENERATION your next go to read and enjoy

Copy supplied by the publisher for review

Reviewed by Sandy

Interview

TRC: Hi Lonnie and welcome to The Reading Café.

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

Follow Lonnie: Goodreads / Website . Facebook Twitter /

Lonnie OstrowLonnie: I guess you could say that I have been an innovator, storyteller, promoter and celebrity-insider for more than two decades. With Poet Of The Wrong Generation, I combined all of my unique experiences to create a novel of love & betrayal, music & fanfare, downfall & redemption — a fable of stardom’s rewards, set in New York City during the 1990s. It’s been hailed as “the ultimate rock & roll love story.” Since 2001, I have been the publicity/marketing director & researcher for the iconic best-selling novelist Barbara T. Bradford. I also serve as an editorial and marketing consultant for a collection of first-time authors through The Editorial Department in Tucson, AZ. Previously I worked as a PR executive, promoting an assortment of first-time celebrity authors including Ray Manzarek of The Doors.

From 1995 – 2001, I was widely credited with inventing the “living celebrity postal phenomenon.” In all, I worked with more than 40 legendary personalities from the Bee Gees to Bob Dylan, Sylvester Stallone to Jackie Chan, creating media events to celebrate their postal recognition by an assortment of foreign nations.

TRC: Who or what influenced your career in writing?

Lonnie: Writing has been my backbone throughout my life. I recall my struggles in math and some science classes back in the middle years in grade-school. Out of need to impress my English teacher, I decided to sit down and write a handful of short-stories, which I turned in for extra credit. Mrs. Birnbaum, my 5th grade teacher, was particularly encouraging for me to continue focusing on creative writing. My college English professor in my freshman year was another great influence. Professor William Hochman pushed me to expand my skills in storytelling and in researching my subjects to create dynamic writing projects. It was my great thrill to recently present an advance copy of my debut novel to each of them.

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

Lonnie: The writing itself went rather smoothly. It took me four months of round-the-clock writing to complete the initial draft. I spent eight months working with a wonderful editor, whipping the manuscript into shape. When it was “publication-ready” I submitted query letters to more than a hundred agents. I researched the process extensively, then sent out 10 – 15 targeted letters every week for several months. It took a lot of patience and endurance of rejection before I drew interest from a trio a literary agents. I selected one based upon her enthusiasm for my project and her track record of placements for contemporary fiction. My literary agent who I signed with in 2007 became insistent on me changing my novel from a PG-rated story into something more hardcore and explicit. She insisted that it needed to be that way in order to sell my book as “adult fiction.” I tried to meet her halfway, but she was not willing to compromise her position. And I was not prepared to compromise my personal values. We reached an impasse and parted ways. I probably could have landed another agent if I had wanted to. Instead, I tucked away the project until recently when I was approached by Harmony River Press. They were perfectly comfortable with the content of my story.

Poet of the Wrong GenerationTRC: Would you please tell us something about the premise of POET OF THE WRONG GENERATION?

Lonnie: The great, late, Harry Chapin was sang that “sometimes life is better when we don’t get to touch our dreams.” If my story has a primary theme, this is it. Johnny Elias is a college student from Brooklyn with boundless adoration for two things in life: timeless popular music, and the heart of a sweet, complicated young woman who is clearly out of his league. Megan Price not only is the object of Johnny’s affection, but also the only daughter of New York’s most powerful PR woman: the indomitable Katherine Price. Projecting that her daughter’s boyfriend will never live up to the family standard, Katherine cleverly perpetrates a series of duplicitous schemes to rid Johnny from her high-class world. But in her callous disregard, she inadvertently sets him on a determined course to his improbable musical destiny – while sending her own daughter spiraling down a path of despair. “Poet” tells the story of a lovable underdog and his meteoric rise to stardom, his humiliating downfall and his unprecedented attempt to reclaim his place as the unlikely musical spokesman for his generation. At the heart of Poet is a tale of star-crossed lovers and their struggle with unforeseen success and disillusionment, in an attempt to rediscover lasting harmony.

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

Lonnie: Before I wrote a single page of this novel, I got to know my characters exceptionally well. They needed to feel “real” to me before I could convince readers of their authenticity. The story is rooted in some real-life incidents, and takes place in New York City in 1991 against a series of notable events. I think that using real history is essential in keeping the fiction “believable.” So much of what happens in the story has an element of reality to it, although there are a few rather sensational incidents that are eye-opening to the readers. Just not in a jarring way.

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

Lonnie: There are elements in some of my characters that I find in myself and some other individuals who I know, or once knew. Johnny Elias is my protagonist. He isn’t me, but he is the fictional songwriter credited with writing and performing my song compositions. He’s the rock star who I never attempted to become. Howard Greffen is Johnny’s musical mentor. I based him loosely on a student who I went to Adelphi University with back in the early 90s. This too was a much older student with terrific musical ability. There’s a character called Larry Jacobs who is one of New York’s treasured FM radio personalities. I created him as a composite of several popular radio hosts including the legendary Cousin Brucie, whom I have had the pleasure of working with on several events.

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

Lonnie: Absolutely. An eye-catching cover is essential, although perhaps less so today because so many readers purchase their books online, where the cover art appears smaller than a printed cover on a bookstore shelf. In my opinion, a strong cover is colorful, tells an element of the story, and best of all, it frames the title in a way that will visually resonate with readers.

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

Lonnie: The characters are my story. Yes there is a story arc which I had fleshed out in a detailed outline before writing the book. But when I sat down to write it, the characters came alive and elements of their personalities dictated the direction of secondary story lines. So many new wrinkles were worked in along the way because of how these characters influenced the pace.

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

Lonnie: My wife, Simona, was my first sounding board. I would share ideas and scenes with her as the story developed. A childhood friend, Ben Wulfsohn, was actually the first person to read the rough manuscript. Ben was helpful in the naming of a supporting character, and in helping me to catch errors like missing hyphens, quotation marks, etc. Eventually, I worked closely with an excellent editor on polishing the writing until it was ready for circulation to agents.

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

Lonnie: I happen to work with many first-time authors in editing their novels. One thing they all have in common is that they tend to make the same mistake in their first draft. That is: they compose too much narrative summary and not enough scenes with action and dialog. The reader wants to feel like they are part of the drama with the characters. They don’t want to read about it after the fact in a wrap-up show. I’ve read entire novels that were done in this fashion and had to be completely re-written. Thankfully, if these are my clients, I make sure to point out every place where a real-time scene needs to replace the epilogue-like summary. However, there are some books out there that have been published by mainstream authors that fall into this trap. It’s quite frustrating as the reader to be “told” the story instead of being inside the minds and hearts of the characters.

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

Lonnie: My musical tastes are eclectic and range from classic rock to folk to 1970s/80s pop. But when I’m working, I strongly prefer to have on music without lyrics. Film scores are my primary choice. I have a few favorites including the soundtrack to the film Awakenings and The Last Of The Mohegans. Sad, expressive music can help me to squeeze out a more emotional scene. I also had my original song demos for the songs that are included in the story. I listened carefully to them during the time when I was ready to insert the song lyrics into my story.

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

Lonnie: To me, the most notable misconception is that just because an author writes one good book does not mean they will be able to duplicate this success, or creativity a second time. I happen to have a client author who had unprecedented exposure and sales for her first novel. Unfortunately for her, she has never been able to approach the quality of the story, or the strength of her characters in her subsequent work. Some writers really only have one good story in them. Those who are prolific at turning out a book a year are the ones who have both the skills and the deep imagination to keep on coming up with the next great protagonist and plot. But these are the rare and few.

TRC: On what are you currently working?

Lonnie: I’m currently in the heart of promoting Poet Of The Wrong Generation. I’m fortunate in that I am a professional book marketer, so I’ve put together an extensive blueprint for spreading word for my debut novel. The campaign will keep me busy well into February of next year (2017). This includes my weekly blog articles, a pair of music videos, and a series of book commercials that I am producing. Beyond that, I plan to go back next spring and finish that second novel which I started long ago, but never completed. Mind you, this is not due to a lack of story, or ideas. I shelved it because I put all my focus into getting my first novel published. I’m now excited to revisit that second project with a fresh pair of eyes.

TRC: Would you like to add anything else?

Lonnie: For readers who wish to hear the original songs contained in Poet Of The Wrong Generation, I have a page on my website where one can view a pair of music videos containing two of the more important songs from the story. The link is HERE: I know that readers will appreciate the concept of a book with an audio soundtrack.

TRC: Thank you Lonnie for taking the time to answer our questions. Congratulations on the release of POET OF THE WRONG GENERATION.

Giveaway-Black and Deep Blue

Lonnie’s publisher is graciously offering a’Greatest Hits of the 80s’ compilation CD to one commenter; and a paper copy of POET OF THE WRONG GENERATION to one commenter.

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

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

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

3. Please LIKE and Follow Lonnie Ostrow on Facebook

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

5. LIKE us on Twitter for an additional entry.

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

7. Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY

8. Giveaway runs from November 10-14, 2016

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Shadow Silence (Whisper Hollow #2) by Yasmine Galenorn-Review, Interview & Giveaway

 Shadow Silence (Whisper Hollow #2) by Yasmine Galenorn-Review, Interview and Giveaway

Shadow Silence Banner 2

SHADOW SILENCE
Whisper Hollow #2
by Yasmine Galenorn
Genre: adult, contemporary, paranormal, romance
Release Date: September 27, 2016

Shadow Silence

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

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date September 27, 2016

Fifteen years ago, I ran away from Whisper Hollow, Washington, a small town on Crescent Lake in the Olympic Peninsula. But truth is, if you were born here, you can never really leave. I’m Kerris Fellwater, and I’m a spirit shaman. It’s my responsibility to drive the dead back to their graves, because around Whisper Hollow, people—and secrets—don’t always stay buried.

My best friend Peggin finds herself under a curse after she is almost taken by the Lady of the Lake, and the Unliving are determined to drag her back to the hungry waters. As Bryan—my guardian and mate—and I work to break the hex, we uncover a dark and violent mystery from the past. One the Hounds of Cú Chulainn will do anything to guard—even if they must summon a legion of the dead to destroy Whisper Hollow.

••••••••

REVIEW:

Shadow Silence begins shortly after book one ends. Kerris is settling into Whisper Hollow after a 15 year absence and is finding her place among the town’s protectors. When Kerris’ best friend, Peggin, finds out that she has thirty days to find another place to live (due to her landlord needing the house she rents), Kerris is less than pleased to find out that Peggin has her sights set on fixer-upper down by Crescent Lake. Even though Peggin knows that’s one of the most dangerous areas in town, she assures Kerris that she will be careful and on guard because she feels that the house is calling to her. Against Kerris’better judgement, she decides to support her friend’s decision.

When moving day arrives, it doesn’t take long for things to go very, very wrong. When Peggin disappears, Kerris assumes the worst. As she, Bryan (Kerris’ mate and guardian) and Deev (Peggin’s boyfriend) race to find Peggin, Kerris’ nightmare appears to be coming true. They find Peggin on the pier being dragged into the water by the Lady of the Lake. The trio is able to rescue Peggin from the Lady’s grasp, saving her from imminent death, only to discover that the Lady has marked Peggin, which doesn’t bode well for anyone. Especially Peggin. Kerris vows to Peggin that they will find a way to remove the Lady’s curse, but as they all soon discover, that’s easier said than done. Dark forces are making a move on Whisper Hollow and its residents, and it’s up to Kerris and the rest of the town’s protectors to try and find a way to stop them. As their allies gather, a traitor is discovered. Is he the only one? Who can they trust? Well, my friends, you’ll have to read to find out.

Shadow Silence is a great addition to this series. Yasmine Galenorn’s world building will grab you from the very beginning and have you turning the pages. Kerris is continuing to grow into her powers, discovering even more about herself as the days wear on. Bryan, her mate and guardian, continues to fascinate me. Peggin is the best friend whom everyone wishes they were lucky enough to have. However, it’s her boyfriend, Dr. Divine, aka Deev, that has me begging for more. He’s a steampunk artist type whom we know very little about, which adds to his draw. There’s a big story there and I can’t wait to know more about him. I said in my review of book one, Autumn Thorns, the secondary characters are multifaceted and complex. Shadow Silence has made me double down on that statement. I absolutely cannot wait to find out more about these intriguing characters and the dark forces that abound in this series. If you’re looking for a series that has wonderful world building, amazing characters, mystery and intrigue, as well as little romance thrown in, you will not go wrong with the Whisper Hollow series. Well done, Yasmine Galenorn. Very, very well done!!

Copy supplied by Netgalley

Reviewed by Vickie M

 

Interview-Black

CATCHING UP with Yasmine Galenorn

TRC: Hi Yasmine, and welcome back to The Reading Café.

Yasmine GalenornYG: Hi, and thank you for having me.
Follow: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads

TRC: We would like to start with some background information. For anyone who has never read your books, would you please tell us something about yourself?

YG: Well, I have around 50 books out at this point, plus novellas and short stories in a number of anthologies. I’ve been writing since before I could print my name—always knew I wanted to be a writer from the time I was three years old. I’m also a priestess in the Craft, and have been a shamanic witch since 1980, when I was 19. I’m one of the crazy cat ladies, and am married to a computer techie. I deal with multiple food allergies and intolerances which make it difficult to travel safely, and as a result, I cook everything I eat—I don’t have the choice, so it’s a good thing I learned to cook early on.

TRC: Who or what influenced your career in writing?

YG: One of my biggest influences was Ray Bradbury—I call him one of my “mortal gods”…his work taught me that prose can sing, words can move the heart. I also think Daphne du Maurier was an influence, Richard Adams, Anne McCaffrey, Joan D. Vinge, Tanith Lee, and so many other authors.

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

YG: The biggest hurdle was getting published in the first place. Back in 1996, by the time I got my first contract (for one of my nonfiction books), I had seven books in the closet already (that will never be published) and had accumulated over 600 rejection slips from agents and publishers. But so many were encouraging that I just kept gritting my teeth and submitting.

Shadow SilenceTRC: Would you please tell us something about the premise of Shadow Silence, the second book in your Whisper Hollow series?

YG: Shadow Silence is the story of a curse, and a friendship. When the Lady of the Lake targets Peggin, Kerris and Bryan must do their best to break the curse and free her from a watery death. I actually recorded a video about Shadow Silence and the Whisper Hollow series, and you can find that on my Youtube Channel. Whisper Hollow haunts my dreams—the characters are so alive and vibrant to me, and the town so dark and shadowed.

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

YG: At least four—and I really think I’ll write more than that. However, since Berkley has opted not to continue the series, I will be releasing the rest after Shadow Silence as an indie author. The next Whisper Hollow books will be titled: Crow Song, and Morrígan’s Blade. As soon as Shadow Silence releases, I’ll be posting the covers for them—they’re gorgeous.

TRC: Are you able to give us a hint about your next Otherworld/Sisters of the Moon installment?

YG: I will also be releasing these as an indie author (in fact, Shadow Silence is my last release with Berkley Books and then I’m moving over to the indie side for the foreseeable future). Moon Shimmers, book 19 in the Otherworld Series, will be available in January 2017. I’m planning to release Harvest Song in January 2018, and my last OW book—Blood Bonds—in January 2019. I will be doing a cover reveal on my blog for all three books on October 4th! In Moon Shimmers, Camille will be taking her place as the Queen of Dusk & Twilight.

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

YG: *grinning* I dunno…I just write the stories that appear in my head. I guess by now, with over fifty books out, it’s second nature.

TRC: When writing (or outlining) a story line do your characters direct the writing, or do you direct the characters?

YG: The characters lead the way, definitely. I long ago stopped trying to force plotlines because it always comes out stilted. I give the characters their head and they lead me where they need to go.

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

YG: I bounce ideas off my husband and my assistants at times. Mostly, my subconscious does its little trick of mixing up everything and then spewing it out at me in one big lump. I stare at the creative hairball sitting at my feet, and then start trying to sculpt it. (Told you I’m the crazy cat lady).

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

YG: Covers are vital, which is why I’m so glad I’ve found incredible cover designers for my indie work. Wait till you see the covers for the next two Whisper Hollow books—brilliant and beautiful.

TRC: On what are you currently working?

YG: I’m finishing up Fury’s Magic, the second in my new indie series—the Fury Unbound Series. Book one—Fury Rising—came out in July and did very well, so I’m extremely pleased about that. I plan on releasing Fury’s Magic in November.

I’m also starting to promote two anthologies I’m in—Taming the Vampire will be coming out on October 31st, and it contains the prequel to a new series I’ll be introducing next year—the Bewitching Bedlam series. And Silver Belles will be coming out in late October as well, with one of the few contemporary romance short stories I’ve ever written in it—The Longest Night. Silver Belles is a winter-holiday themed anthology.

Actually, I have a number of surprises in the works. I’ll be re-releasing the entire Chintz ‘n China series this autumn with lovely new covers and a few additions. Really, it’s best to sign up for my newsletter if you want to keep informed, because there are going to be a lot of things going on in my various worlds over the next 18 months.

TRC: Would you like to add anything else?

YG: Just that I’m grateful for all my readers who have followed me on my adventures—and who are making the switch with me as I change over from the old guard to the new guard, so to speak. I appreciate it. I love that my readers love my worlds, and I really appreciate the support they give in return.

TRC: Thank you Yasmine for taking the time to answer our questions. Congratulations on the release of SHADOW SILENCE. We wish you all the best.

giveaway

The Reading Cafe and Yasmine’s publisher are offering a paper copy of SHADOW SILENCE to ONE (1) lucky commenter at The Reading Cafe.

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

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

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

3. Please follow Yasmine Galenorn on Facebook.

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

5. LIKE us on Twitter for an additional entry.

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8. Giveaway open to USA only

9. Giveaway runs from October 6-10, 2016

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Sinner’s Creed (Sinner’s Creed #1) by Kim Jones-Review and Interview with the Author

SINNER’S CREED (Sinner’s Creed #1) by Kim Jones-Review and Interview with the Author

Sinner's Creed

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

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date March 1, 2016

First in a new series—welcome to the Sinner’s Creed Motorcycle Club, where hard bodies and hot leather are made for each other, and love gone wrong is the most irresistible of all…

“I was the demon-possessed monster and she was the innocent, naïve angel. But none of that matters. She asks, I give and right now, I’ll kill anyone who tries to stop me from giving this woman what she wants—me.”

Dirk lives in the shadows—performing hits, maintaining order, and upholding the no-holds-barred legacy of the Sinner’s Creed Motorcycle Club. A nomad with a restless spirit and a cold heart, the open road is his world. One of the few constants in his life: his desire for the one woman who has consumed his thoughts for years.

Saylor Samson grew up far from the harshness of Dirk’s world. But ever since she was seventeen she’s been drawn to this dark and mysterious man who always seemed to show up just when she needed him.

After years of fated encounters, he’s back. This time he’s taking her. This time she’s ready for the ride. But just when the darkness in Dirk’s life begins to fade, Saylor reveals a secret that puts them both to the ultimate test. Now, Dirk has to make a decision: submit to his destiny with the MC, or choose his own.

••••••••••

DISCLAIMER: SINNER’S CREED is a different kind of romance story line; one that I thought crossed an invisible line, and in the end I am not sure how to categorize the story line trope. There are some guidelines that should, and must be followed to be labeled a romance story and in this, I am not sure where SINNER’S CREED will fit. Expect the unexpected, and be ready to step outside of your comfort zone.

REVIEW: SINNER’S CREED is the first installment in Kim Jones’s contemporary, adult SINNER’S CREED erotic, romance MC series focusing on the motorcycle club Sinner’s Creed. This is club member/MC nomad Dirk Dixon, and Saylor Samson’s story line.

Told from first person point of view (Dirk) SINNER’S CREED is a heartbreaking and emotional story line about two people whose lives crossed paths every few years until the one day Saylor Samson asked Dirk Dixon for a motorcycle ride. From there on out Saylor and Dirk were virtually inseparable and their fated relationship is the backdrop to Romeo and Juliet-two lovers never meant to be but finding happiness and forever a world away–or not at all.

SINNER’S CREED looks at the gritty and dark side of the MC life: the abhorrent and dangerous retribution to the fateful and destructive lifestyle that each member vows to protect. There isn’t always a happily ever after; too many times death is accompanied by a promise of revenge that circles the burning torment of what is and what has to be done.

Kim Jones writes a story about one woman’s desperate attempts to live, and one man’s need to give her everything that she wants. The premise is slow to build as our leading couple builds a relationship on the road while Dirk continues his work as a nomadic enforcer for the MC. The premise is powerful; the characters are courageous, energetic and heartbreaking. Fate had other plans; their destiny is in the hands of others; a romance built upon the here and now.

SPOILER: If you are looking for a traditional HEA, you will not get it with SINNER’S CREED.The integrity of the romance is destroyed in the final chapters of the book.

Copy supplied by the publisher through Netgalley.

Reviewed by Sandy

Interview

TRC: Hi Kim. Welcome to The Reading Café! Congratulations on the release of SINNER’S CREED!

Kim JonesKim: Thank you so much for having me! I’m honored to be here!

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

Follow: Goodreads/ Website/ Twitter/ Facebook

Kim: I’m not very interesting, but if you insist… 😉

I’m 30. From south Mississippi. I’m very close with my family—especially my Mama who cooks me fried chicken whenever I want it, which is a lot. I’m a college dropout, a Mountain Dew addict, make a killer cheeseburger and still have my Christmas tree up. I’ve been married for ten years to my best friend who still plays hide and seek with me. I have no children. And my greatest achievement was winning the Prudential Spirit of Community Service award in the seventh grade. Still to this day, I have no damn idea what it even means. But I made the front page of the local paper. And yes, I still have the newspaper clipping. Writing a book was a pretty awesome achievement too, but since I get paid to do it, I don’t feel like it counts quite as much. —-See? I’m pretty lame.

TRC: Who or what influenced your career in writing?

Kim: Well… I wish I could say I was inspired or that I had some sort of epiphany. That sounds better than the truth, but this is what really happened.

Me: “I’m going to write a book.”
Hubs: “No hell you ain’t.”
Me: “You wanna bet?”
Hubs: “Sure.”

So in a weird kind of way, my husband influenced me to start writing. But then I had to decide what to write about. I chose MC because my husband was in a motorcycle club, I knew the lifestyle, bikers were hot and I had plenty of material to start. By the end of my first book, I realized I’d fallen in love with writing. I’ve written a few poems and comedy skits, but this took it to a whole new level.
Oh, and I won the bet!

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

Kim: The biggest struggle for me has always been separating fact from fiction. With MC’s getting so much negative media attention, I feared people would consider what I write to be true. Let’s face it—bad things are always easier to believe. So I try very hard to focus on the brotherhood and it’s true meaning, rather than the fictional story that’s filled with all the things people love to read about—betrayal, outlaws, murder… Those things, along with romance, sex and a relationship with a dominant, alpha male are what make books sale. But because this is my life—this story represents my husband and MC family and what they stand for—I feel it’s my duty to educate readers on the reality of an MC (brotherhood and what being in a club ACTUALLY means) while still giving them a story that is edgy, raw and engaging.

Sinner's CreedTRC: Would you please tell us something about the premise of SINNER’S CREED?

Kim: Sinner’s Creed is by far the darkest novel I’ve ever written. All my published works are about MC’s, but this one is about a 1% MC which will take readers deeper into the minds of those who live a life dedicated to the club. One mind in particular—Sinner’s Creed Nomad National, Dirk.

Dirk is a BORN SINNER, meaning he was born into the life of the club. In his case, his grandfather was a national officer of the club. At the age of 21, he gets his first taste of the life of a soldier in the MC. With the hopes of gaining respect and love from his grandfather, he commits a terrible act—only to find his grandfather is not impressed at all. In that moment, he transforms. He feels all his goodness is gone. He believes his soul is tarnished beyond repair. He spends the next 9 years of his life acting as an enforcer for the club—performing hits and maintaining order. But then he comes face to face with a woman he’s encountered on several different occasions. Saylor Samson is the complete opposite of Dirk. She’s kind, innocent, strong in her faith and to Dirk’s disbelief, attracted to him. The desire to have something good in his life becomes so overwhelming, that he decides to take Saylor on the road with him—throwing caution and the potential high risk of having her with him to the wind. Throughout their journey, Dirk finds a reason other than the club to live for. In turn, Saylor finds an escape from an emotional past that has haunted her for years. I’ll end by saying this is not a traditional MC or romance novel. It’s about loyalty, respect, sacrifice and above all…love—in the most unconventional kind of way.

TRC: How many books do you have planned for the SINNER’S CREED series?

Kim: I signed a two book deal with Penguin-Random House. So as of right now, that’s all I have planned. It will depend on the readers and their response to Sinner’s Creed as to whether or not I continue the series. But I’d love too! I actually have the story line for several more books. So hopefully you’ll be seeing a lot more of this MC in the future.

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

Kim: I have a very twisted imagination. LOL. I love the element of surprise, but I’m also one who likes to give readers the idea that what I’m writing could actually happen. It’s a struggle, but luckily I have a team full of people who are willing to listen to me go on..and on…and on about my ideas and they have no problem correcting me when I’m wrong. I actually have a “magical idea listening chair” in my office. It’s almost always occupied. Matter of fact, it’s occupied right now.

TRC: Without giving away any spoilers, how do you feel the readers will react to the outcome of the story?

Kim: When I finished this book, I knew people were either going to love it or hate it. There is no gray area. It was a risk I was willing to take and one I don’t regret. My characters are not just characters to me, they’re real people with real lives and real feelings who deserve real happiness and a real story. And regardless of how much this book differs from others in its genre, I believed my characters deserved a happily ever after in the most beautiful and satisfying way for them. And that’s exactly what they got.

TRC: Did you always have this particular outcome planned for Saylor and Dirk?

Kim: No. I wasn’t sure how the ending was going to play out for the longest time. It might sound crazy, but it was almost as if it wrote itself. I didn’t have to look at it from different angles or try different scenarios. When the thought came to me and I wrote it, I knew there was no other outcome possible. It was perfect for them.

TRC: There is a fine line between romance, erotic, and erotica in many of today’s popular contemporary fiction. What do you believe accounts for the differences between the sub-genres in today’s romantic stories?

Kim: If the book contains talk of sex, but never a thorough description of it, I would classify that as romance.

As far as erotic and erotica go, I seriously had no idea there was a difference. So thanks to Google and my “magical idea thinking chair” occupant, I’m a little smarter than I was ten minutes ago. I feel like that fine line has been blurred for quite some time. So I’m just going to go back to thinking there is no difference, because I’m concentrating wayyyy too hard on this one. Erotic…Erotic-a….Hmph… Who knew one damn letter could cause so much confusion…

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

Kim: Absolutely. And I think the people who have covers that don’t consist of a half naked man, and still manage to be successful are unicorns who possess magical powers.

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

Kim: Oh, my characters OWN me. Collar me, cage me, call me “kitten.” I’m definitely their submissive lol.

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?

Kim: Every story is perceived differently with every reader. Some readers prefer to read a story that is real to them. They want to feel like it can actually happen. Others don’t mind if a story seems a little overblown or unrealistic. Every reader is different. As a writer, I don’t feel like any of us “fail” in this. It all depends on who is reading the book and what their preferences are. So I don’t think writers should focus on how to deliver a book that will appeal to a specific audience. Instead, they should concentrate on making it the best damn book it can be. And that starts by believing in the story themselves. I guarantee no matter what, there will be some who enjoy and others who don’t.

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

Kim: No. I have to write in COMPLETE silence. The only noise is from that of my box fan that doubles as a smoke ventilation system. But I do relate songs with particular scenes in my book. Sometimes, I’ll drive around in my car for hours listening to the same playlist on repeat and replaying the scenes in my head over and over before I write them. But I can’t listen while I write. I’m easily distracted…

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

Kim: That we’re all introverts. I’m a huge people person. I never meet a stranger. And over the years, I’ve found that many are just like me. But there are authors who prefer to stay to themselves. On more than one occasion, I’ve came to the defense of some when they were accused of being “stuck up” or “rude.” As writers, we often live in our heads—creating stories, plots and characters. Our ideas come at some of the most random times. Maybe we saw a girl who intrigued us. Maybe we were afraid of being arrested if we walked up to her and said, “tell me your entire life story and do it slow so I can write it down.” Instead, we simply create our own story about them. It doesn’t mean we’re all introverts, or stuck up or rude, we’re just working.

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

Kim: I’m pretty much an open book. I don’t have secrets…I talk too much for that. So I’ll give you something that’s not really a secret, but pretty crazy. I have a weakness for hitchhikers. I pick them up…a lot. Don’t judge… they could be Jesus.

TRC: On what are you currently working?

Kim: The third book in the Sinner’s Creed Series. Whether it ever gets published or not, I don’t know. But, Sinner’s Promise will be written very soon.

TRC: Would you like to add anything else?

Kim: Just a thank you to everyone who reads SINNER’S CREED! I know it probably took you out of your comfort zone so I can’t say thank you enough to anyone who gave it a shot.

LIGHTNING ROUND

• Favorite FoodMama’s fried chicken.
• Favorite DessertBlue Bell Dutch Chocolate Ice Cream
• Favorite TV ShowThe Big Bang Theory
• Last Movie You SawGet Rich or Die Tryin’
• Dark or Milk ChocolateDark
• Secret Celebrity CrushA.J. from the Backstreet Boys—yes…even after all these years.
• Last Vacation DestinationCozumel, Mexico
• Do you have any pets?2 dogs, a cat and a donkey
• Last book you readLegend by Katy Evans

TRC: Congratulations Kim on the new release and new series. We wish you all the best!

Kim: Aw! Thanks guys! Y’all rock!

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Wild Game / Wild Love (Wilding Pack Wolves 1-2) by Alisa Woods-Reviews & Interview

Wild Game / Wild Love (Wilding Pack Wolves 1-2) by Alisa Woods-Reviews & Interview

Wilding Pack Series

••••••••••••••

Wild GameWILD GAME
(Wilding Pack Wolves #1)
by Alisa Woods
Genre: adult, contemporary,paranormal, romance, wolf shifters

Amazon.com / Amazon.ca /

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date December 152016

Her pack is being hunted. He’s a bodyguard with a secret. The Wolf Hunter is targeting them both.
GAME ON.

Owen Harding hasn’t shifted since he was in Agent Smith’s experimental cages—the only thing this ex-Army Texas boy is afraid of is what kind of beast he’s become. But with a hate group issuing more threats against the Wilding pack than you can shake a stick at, Owen’s doing what he can as a personal bodyguard. If only the Wilding girl he’s tasked with keeping alive wasn’t so damn sexy… and completely off limits.

Nova Wilding’s father was assassinated, leaving her a gaming company to run, a new game to release, and a pack full of wolves who want her for a mate… including a beta who’s determined to have Nova and her company. Choosing someone outside the pack will tear it apart, but Nova can’t stop watching the hot shifter who’s keeping watch over her.

When Nova barely escapes an attempt on her life, she finds herself in Owen’s arms… but her sexy new bodyguard is absolutely the wrong man at the wrong time. While Nova fights to keep her father’s business afloat, and Owen fights to keep her alive, the Wolf Hunter is playing a dangerous new game that might destroy them both.

••••••••••••••

REVIEW : WILD GAME is the first installment in Alisa Woods’s adult, contemporary WILDING PACK WOLVES paranormal romance series-a spin off from her River Pack Wolves Series. This is former soldier and shifter Owen Harding, and computer game developer /wolf shifter Nova Wilding’s story line. WILD GAME can be read as a stand alone with out any difficulty although it is recommended to read the River Pack Wolves Series first for some background and history into the characters and their stories. Some of the characters cross over between the two series.

Told from dual third person perspectives (Owen and Nova) WILD GAME focuses on the threats against Nova Wilding by the ‘Wolf Hunter’ who has chosen to destroy and out all of the shifters starting with the Wilding Wolf Pack using Nova’s latest release into the video gaming world. Enter Owen Harding- a former US soldier who months earlier found himself a prisoner of his own kind and used for experimental purposes to create a team of the world’s greatest super soldiers (River Wolves Series). What ensues is the hunt for the people responsible for the threats against Nova and her Pack, and the building but forbidden relationship between Nova and the man who guards her body and her heart.

The romance between Nova and Owen begins as a professional business arrangement. Owen is hired as Nova’s personal body guard, and his inner wolf is drawn to his latest assignment from the very start. When Nova is forced to pledge submission to another wolf in order to saver her company, Owen believes he has lost the woman he loves not only to another male but from the unknown possibility of what he now has become. The $ex scenes are erotic and intense. Owen is a bit of a ‘beast’ in the bedroom.

Many of the secondary and supporting characters have crossed over from Alisa Woods’s RIVER PACK WOLVES series. We are introduced to Owen’s competition and adversary, in the form of wolf shifter and alpha Brad Hoffman whose attempts to woo Nova are not necessarily with the purest of intents; and Wilding Pack wolf Noah Wilding whose own story continues in WILD LOVE (book #2).

WILD GAME is a fast paced, entertaining and suspense filled romantic story line. There are moments of heartbreak and betrayal; romance and love; intrigue and magic. The premise is addicting; the characters are inspiring; the romance is spirited and seductive. WILD GAME is an intoxicating look at the supernatural world of the shifters.

Copy supplied by the author

Reviewed by Sandy

__________________________

Wild LoveWILD LOVE
(Wilding Pack Wolves #2)
by Alisa Woods
Genre: adult, contemporary, paranormal, romance, wolf shifters

Amazon.com / Amazon.ca /

About the book: Release Date January 2, 2016

SWIPE RIGHT FOR WILDLOVE!

She programs a dating app for shifters.

He’s an ex-Army shifter with a dark secret.

The human and shifter worlds are about to collide…

Noah Wilding’s family is being targeted by an anti-shifter hate group—so he took a medical leave from the Army to return home and help out. At least, that’s the story he’s told everyone… and he hopes his dark secret will stay buried in Afghanistan.

Emily Jones is the lead programmer for WildLove, the new app that hooks up shifters and humans for a night of hot sex and no commitments. Only she hasn’t had a date herself in years… ever since that dark day when her family didn’t protect her when she needed them most. She figures one magical night with a hot wolf will help her finally move on with her life.

When Noah swipes right for Emily, she thinks her dream one-night-stand is about to come true. But with a hate group planting car bombs during WildLove hookups, Noah and Emily are on the front lines of love. They have to hunt down a killer before he strikes again… and before they do more than heat up the sheets. Because humans and shifters might get “Wild for a Night”… but they’re not supposed to fall in love.

WILD LOVE is a complete novel with HEA, the second in the Wilding Pack Wolves series. All stories are standalone, but for maximum reader enjoyment, they’re best read in order. Contains scorching hot shifters, alpha military heroes, and sexy female programmers. Only readers over 18 should dive into the dangerously hot world of the Wilding Pack Wolves.

•••••••••

REVIEW: WILD LOVE is the second installment in Alisa Woods’s contemporary WILDING PACK WOLVES paranormal, romance series. This is wolf shifter Noah Wilding, and human computer programmer Emily Jones’s story line. WILD LOVE can be read as a stand alone but for cohesion and back story I recommend reading the series in order.

Told from dual third person perspectives (Noah and Emily) WILD LOVE follows the investigation into that attack against shifters during WildLove hookups coordinated through the new Seattle Shifters Dating Agency. Emily Jones is a programmer for the new dating app WildLove, and one of their potential clients. Emily is a bit of a shifter fan; a woman who is determined to forget about her past and hook up with a shifter from the Seattle area. But a number of recent hookups through the new app have resulted in serious injuries and car bombs intent on taking down any and all shifters. Enter Noah Wilding, a US army soldier on leave, who places himself in harms way to take down the person(s) responsible for the attacks against the Seattle shifters.

Noah is a shifter with secrets from the war. Along with his fellow soldier Owen Harding (Wild Game) Noah was held in captivity in Afghanistan by Noah’s father who experimented upon his own son, and Noah’s comrades in the US army. Noah is no longer the same shifter he was born to be, but something more magical with power from an unknown source.

The relationship between Noah and Emily is one of insta-lust that quickly turns to fated mates. Although Emily is human, and Noah has been warned off of mating with a human female, our hero cannot deny the attraction and pull towards Emily Jones. The $ex scenes are erotic, romantic and seductive.

Several of the previous story line characters play secondary and supporting roles included Owen Harding and Nova Wilding, and several members of the River Pack Wolves who were first introduced in the RIVER PACK WOLVES series. The requisite evil is an unknown player from the anti-shifter hate group who is determined to destroy the shifters-once and for all.

WILD LOVE is an intimate, captivating and impassioned story line about shifters and the discrimination they face in the world of man. The premise is intense; the characters are exotic and charismatic; the romance is a quick build to a happily ever after-sometimes love is magical. Alisa Woods invites you into a world of passion and intrigue; determination and hope; romance and love.

Copy supplied by the author.

Reviewed by Sandy

Interview white:black

TRC: Hi Alisa and welcome to The Reading Café.

Congratulations on the release of WILD LOVE and WILD GAME.

Alisa: Thank you!

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

Follow Alisa: Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter /

Alisa: I’m a married woman with children who writes sexy romances from the corner of my livingroom in the Midwest. Alisa is actually a penname, so I’m not super open about my personal-life details, but suffice to say, I *adore* writing these sexy romances, and I’m so glad I started almost a year and a half ago with this genre. It really lets me unleash a side of my writerly self that I don’t get to use in my “other” writing.

TRC: Who or what influenced your career in writing?

Alisa: All the brave authors who put their writing out there and GO FOR IT with their stories.

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

Alisa: My biggest challenge is balancing life and writing – I’ve got so many stories I want to tell, it’s really hard to get them all written while still having a life with my kids! But I’m getting better at it. 🙂

TRC: Would you please tell us something about :

Wilding Pack Series

Alisa: Wild Game: I had so much fun with this story – not only is it steeped in Gamer Culture, but it’s also got a sexy Texas accent in our hunky shifter Owen. I had great fun playing with that!

Alisa: Wild Love: This is another one that brought in some fun technology stuff – WildLove is a dating app for humans and shifters to “hook up”. The story revolves around the app developer and the sexy shifter who’s investigating an anti-shifter bomber, but I keep thinking I’d love to bring the WildLove app back for another story. So many possibilities there! I’ve had readers say they wished that WildLove was a real-life app!! I have to say, I agree. 🙂

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

Alisa: Originally, five. I’m writing the fourth one now, and I’m debating whether we might need a sixth book in the series. There’s a certain character that might need his own story… I’ll decide once I get this one written. 🙂

Wild HeatTRC: Do you have a release date for Wild Heat-book three in the series?

Alisa: I’ve uploaded it! WILD HEAT should be live by the time this interview goes to press! In general, I’m shooting for a new release on the first Monday of every month. This month was delayed a bit because I had a big sale on Jaxson, the first book in the River Pack Wolves series.

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

Alisa: I always have an outline so I know where the story is going, but I also explore as I write – sometimes the story surprises me! I think that helps keep it surprising for the reader as well.

TRC: There is a fine line between romance, erotic, and erotica in many of today’s popular contemporary fiction. What do you believe accounts for the differences between the sub-genres in today’s romantic stories?

Alisa: I think of my stories as sexy romance – they’re doors-wide-open with the sex scenes, but those scenes are always integral to the evolution of the romance. In fact, that’s often how my characters discover their true feelings and become willing to open up to their partner – intimacy has a way of doing that, opening our hearts as we share our bodies with another person. So my “erotic romance” is really very sweet in a way. I think that’s the main difference between my sexy shifter romances and some of the harder-edged erotica that’s out there – erotica is more about the character’s sexual awakening/exploration. Romance, even the ones with open-door, explicit sex, have the emotional part of human relationships at its core.

TRC: Who or what was your inspiration to write paranormal romantic suspense?

Alisa: Funny, I don’t think of it as suspense! But of course it is – I have almost thriller-like elements in my paranormal romances. These are just the stories I like to write, but I also think that people/characters are revealed by the situations and choices they have to make. I like high-stakes plots that force people to make hard choices… and that reveal who they really are in that crucible. And when that series of life events brings a romantic pair together… all the better.

And it’s just fun. 🙂

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

Alisa: Absolutely. Cover always conveys genre (or at least it should). My covers are always sexy (because my stories are), plus it helps draw in the type of readers who will enjoy them.

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

Alisa: I’m always in charge, but sometimes they still surprise me!

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?

Alisa: The challenge is to have the reader bond with the character – and given that readers come in all flavors, it’s almost impossible to have a character that everyone will love! But that being said, I think creating characters with depth that feel like real human beings is key. We are all empathetic creatures – if the character feels real to us, we’ll want them to succeed… and find love!

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

Alisa: No – I need silence! Even the cats annoy me. 🙂

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

Alisa: I’m pretty much my own idea generator, but sometimes I “research” among friends and family. My kid is big into gaming, so I asked him some questions about the field when I was writing Wild Game. But mostly I’m on my own.

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

Alisa: That we’re glamorous! Um… no. Really, really no. I’m doing good to get out of my PJs most days.

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

Alisa: That Alisa is a penname? Yup, that’s probably it.

TRC: On what are you currently working?

Alisa: Wild One (Wilding Pack 4)! Just started. SO EXCITED – we’ll be looking at shifter gangs in this one.

TRC: Would you like to add anything else?

Alisa: Thanks so much for sharing my books with your readers!

LIGHTNING ROUND

Favorite Food – baked potato; weird, I know.

Favorite Dessert – chocolate cake!

Favorite TV Show – I pretty much don’t watch TV.

Last Movie You Saw – Star Wars!

Dark or Milk Chocolate – Milk

Secret Celebrity Crush – I pretty much don’t crush on celebrities either. But if
pressed… Joseph Gorden Levitt. Because YUM.

Last Vacation Destination – I don’t vacation either (man, I am Booorrringgg!!).

Do you have any pets? Two demons in the form of cats.

Last book you read
I’m reading Hard To Let Go by Laura Kaye – soooo good!

TRC: Thank you Alisa for taking the time to answer our questions, Congratulations on the
release of WILD LOVE and WILD GAME.

Alisa: Thank you!!

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