Midnight Unleashed (Midnight Breed 14.7/ 1001 Dark Nights) by Lara Adrian-Review & Excerpt Tour

Midnight Unleashed (Midnight Breed 14.7/ 1001 Dark Nights ) by Lara Adrian- Review & Excerpt Tour

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MIDNIGHT UNLEASHED
Midnight Breed 14.7 / 1001 Dark Nights
by Lara Adrian
Genre: adult, contemporary, paranormal, romance
Release Date: October 10, 2017

Midnight Unleashed

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ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date October 10, 2017

For Breed vampire Trygg, a menacing former assassin and the ultimate loner, duty is everything…until his solo mission to destroy a powerful enemy earns him an unwanted partner in the form of Tamisia, a beautiful, ice-hot immortal who ignites a flame in his cold heart, and his blood.

Banished from her Atlantean colony, disgraced immortal Tamisia longs for a chance to redeem herself and return home where she belongs. Her work at a Rome women’s shelter has given Sia purpose, but when a break-in results in a brutal killing, her quest for answers puts her in the middle of the hunt for a dangerous enemy of the Order–and brings her up against one of the deadliest of their Breed warrior members, the Gen One vampire, Trygg.

A former Hunter enslaved to the commands of a madman, Trygg has devoted his life to the Order. Duty is his only master now, until an interfering beauty inserts herself into his investigation. The last thing Trygg wants is a partner in his mission, but Sia will not be denied–nor will the fierce desire she stokes in him. Soon the warrior who needs no one is craving the only woman he should not desire, unleashing a powerful hunger in his cold heart, and in his blood.

Review:
Midnight Unleashed begins with disgraced Atlantean, Tamisia, working in a home that takes in young women and children looking for a safe place to stay. After an ordinary night, Tamisia (Sia, for short) hears a noise and goes to investigate, after telling Phaedra (the director of the facility and also a fellow Atlantean) to call the police. Sia reaches the door where the noise is coming from and enters. What she saw was enough to leave her blood running cold…..

Trygg had one directive: follow one of the henchmen, Franco, who reported to The Order’s number one enemy, Roberto Santino, who was a cold and calculating human manufacturing and distributing a drug that would turn any Breed into a monster. Trygg had been following Franco for a couple of weeks, trying to get closer to finding Santino. As he sat in an alley waiting, the screams he heard set him in motion immediately. Once he entered the home Franco had entered, he saw the last person he’d ever expected to see. Standing over Franco’s dead body was none other than the beautiful Atlantean, Tamisia, who had stayed at the Order’s Rome compound after being banished from her own realm. Little did they know how much the break-in would affect both their lives………..

Midnight Unleashed is another wonderful addition to the Midnight Breed series. I was very pleased to see that Tamisia got her story so quickly. I was thoroughly peeved at her when she was banished from her realm, for reasons you find out in Defy the Dawn, but her heart in this book more than made up for it. Her determination was refreshing, but, for me, her empathy leapt off the page. Trygg was a surprise for me. If he’d been mentioned before, I totally missed it. I didn’t miss anything this go around. His story is familiar as he is a Gen One, created in Dragos’ lab for nothing other than to be a killing machine. Once freed though, his story took an unexpected turn that will break your heart. The fact that Tamisia could see past all of that, added to the fact that Trygg LET her, made them the perfect couple. As I’ve said every time before, I’ve been a Breed fan since day one, and am so glad I still get to see these guys. I can’t wait for the next installment. Well done, Lara Adrian! Very, very well done!

Copy supplied for review

Reviewed by Vickie M

Midnight Unleashed Teaser

TRAILER CODE:

Direct Link: https://video214.com/play/cAAjSsfzz9iq0zBcjXk03Q/s/dark

excerpt

 

While he’d sure as hell rather be surrounded by his tech equipment at the command center, Trygg couldn’t find much to object to as he followed Sia up an exterior staircase to a private third-floor entrance of the house. As irritated as he was after her power play in the car just now—not to mention her earlier act of defiance that had rattled him more than he cared to admit, even to himself—it was hard to think about much else except the rhythmic sway of her hips as she mounted the old iron steps.
Very hard.
Her long, elegant spine and firm backside were a temptation that stoked a growing heat inside him as he stalked up the climb behind her. Everything male in him burned with desire. Everything Breed in him hungered for her too. If she chanced a look over her shoulder, it would be damn close to impossible to hide the amber lighting his irises or the press of his sharp fangs as they filled his mouth.
Letting her win just now was a mistake he already regretted, but that’s where her control was going to end. He’d go inside as she insisted and they’d do a cursory look through the rest of the items they’d brought with them. He would point out something or other so she’d have a bone to chew on, then he’d take everything back to the command center and dig into the meat of the scant evidence alone.
The way he preferred to operate.
He scowled at her when they reached the top of the stairs. “Is this the way you sneak in all the men you bring home with you?”
“Only the surly ones.” Her blonde brow arched over her long-lashed eyes. “And to answer the question you really want to ask, I’ve never brought anyone up here before.”
He didn’t want to ask that, so why did her answer give him such a healthy stab of satisfaction?

 

 

About the author

LARA ADRIAN is a New York Times and #1 international bestselling author with nearly 4 million books in print and digital worldwide and translations licensed in more than 20 countries. Her upcoming release is FOR 100 REASONS, the third book in a contemporary romance series that reviewers are calling “phenomenal” and “one of the hottest series of the year.” Learn more about the author and her books at LaraAdrian.com.

Website – http://www.laraadrian.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/LaraAdrianBooks
Twitter – https://twitter.com/lara_adrian
Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/375626.Lara_Adrian
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/laraadrianbooks/

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Game On (Hometown Players #6) by Victoria Denault-a review

Game On (Hometown Players #6) by Victoria Denault-a review

Game On

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

About the book: Release Date October 10, 2017

When it comes to scoring in the pro hockey league, Alex Larue is crushing it-with the hot puck bunnies. He’s the life of the party, the guy with all the jokes . . . and the one whose Party Guy mask keeps the real him well hidden. The last thing he needs is anyone finding out about his troubled past, or the nightmares that haunt him still.

Brie Bennett is less than impressed by Alex from the moment she meets him. And even though he insists on volunteering at the charity she runs, she doesn’t trust him. He’s hiding something…but so is she. She’s not just the rich, privileged New York princess he thinks she is. The animosity between them is undeniably addictive and as their worlds keep colliding it becomes supercharged with something else – attraction. But if they stop playing games and let each other in, they both might lose.

••••

Review:
Game On begins with Alex Larue on a new team, in a new city. His new team picked an old friend and fellow Frenchman, Luc, to be his “buddy” to show him around and also to show him the ropes as far as his new team goes. After Alex is shot down in hilarious fashion at Starbucks, they head to the arena for practice. Once practice is over, he finds out that his coach isn’t really game (pardon the pun) on having him on his team. He knows he’ll have to work harder than ever…… The one constant that keeps him sane is his work with children who’ve not had an ideal childhood. After all, why would he not try and stop kids from going through things that still, all these years later, give him nightmares.

Brie Bennett is bound and determined to keep the charity she founded afloat without asking her parents for help. She knows they’re in a bit of a jam financially, but vows to make ends meet one way or another. Enter Alex Larue, mega hockey star, and the guy that she shot down at Starbucks, wanting to volunteer for none other than her charity. What are the odds? She finally backs down and lets him volunteer when her best friend hammers it home that he can bring in a lot of money for them. Even though she doesn’t trust his motives, she does trust in the fact that big names draw big money.

Once Alex and Brie agree to be a team, and Brie lowers her guard, they come together to get a kid off of the streets. Not only does that help the kid, it helps Alex and Brie see that maybe they need to give their growing mutual attraction a chance. When obstacles hinder their progress, both professionally and personally, they both face them head on…….kind of.

Game On is a great story. Brie shatters that “pampered princess” persona so many of her ilk are known for. She’s ferocious when it comes to those she considers hers in the home that she runs for the homeless. She’s a great daughter to her parents and she’s a great friend. She is also very protective of her past. Alex is not your typical mega sports star. Yes, his reputation precedes him, but it is also a mask that hides a horrendous childhood that he is bound and determined to keep hidden. When he rises to the occasion and faces his past and puts it out there for all to see? Amazing. But, let me tell you….when you see how his and Brie’s lives were intertwined? Get a tissue. Game On is ultimately a story about facing your past in order to leave it there…in the past. It is also a story that shows that more times than not, karma can actually be your friend. I’ve not read any of Denault’s books in this series before this one, but I will rectify that as soon as I can. I didn’t see a problem with this being read as a standalone. I look forward to the next installment. Well done, Victoria Denault! Very well done.

Copy supplied for review.

Reviewed by Vickie M.

About The Author

Follow: website / Twitter / Goodreads / Facebook

Victoria DenaultVictoria’s a member of the Romance Writers of America and is  represented by Kimberly Brower.  Her debut novel, One More Shot, was released June 2, 2015. Making a Play and The Final More released later the same year and two years later, the now six book series, concludes with Game On, releasing October 10, 2017.

Victoria’s first trade paperback series, The San Francisco Thunder, debuted May 2017 starting with Score and the follow-up Slammed will release December 5, 2017.

If Nicholas Sparks and Christina Lauren had a love child, it would be Victoria Denault. Her characters are mostly from simple beginnings with big hearts, bigger passions, bold personalities and authentic obstacles on their winding path to true love. Their journeys are never easy, but they’re always worth it.

Victoria’s love of writing and books began at 12 when she picked up her first Sweet Valley High and grew from there as she devoured everything from Christopher Pike to SE Hinton to Mary Higgins Clark and more. Her favorite childhood gift remains the 1930s typewriter her parents found at a garage sale.

Victoria has a BA in English, a graduate diploma in Journalism and has taken both creative and screenwriting courses at UCLA Extension. She’s worked as a professional cheerleader, reporter, editor, stand-up comic, actor and in marketing and advertising before becoming a full-time author. She was born in Quebec, Canada where hockey is a religion and has been a fan of the sport since childhood. She’s written editorial and humor pieces on the National Hockey League for CanucksHockeyBlog.com, and has had her articles picked up by Yahoo Sports and the Vancouver Canucks.

Victoria has lived in many major cities across North America, spent her childhood summers in Maine and adult summers in Spain. She’s now happily settled in Los Angeles with her husband and their two chubby Chihuahuas, Gus and Belle.

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Abby, A Second Chance Novel by Tina DeSalvo-Review, Promotion and Giveaway

Abby, A Second Chance Novel by Tina DeSalvo-Review, Promotion and Giveaway

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ABBY
A Second Chance Novel
by Tina DeSalvo
Release Date: August 24, 2017
Genre: adult, contemporary, woman’s fiction

Abby

Amazon.com / Amazon.ca / Amazon. uk / Amazon.au /

NOTE: In honor of BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH Tina DeSalvo is donating ALL of the proceeds from all of her books sold in October on ALL platforms to the unmet needs of individuals fighting breast cancer.

Elli
Jewel
Abby
Magnolias and Sunshine

Tina Desalvo promo

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date August 24, 2017

“Abby, what I’m asking isn’t something you have on that résumé…Will the LAPD be coming to arrest you when I’m depending on you to meet the deadline?”
She shook her head. How in the hell did she know?

She comes from Hollywood Royalty, which makes her fall from grace all the more interesting to millions of people who have no idea what Abby McCord is going through. Instead of following in her family’s acting footsteps Abby made her own way as an attorney. She also joined her good friend, Elli, in raising money for a cause near and dear to her heart, until someone steals their famous donors’ money and personal information. And the police believe the thief is her. Now she’s run from one LA to another as she hides in Cane, Louisiana trying to get by until she can get home.

Too bad there isn’t a statute of limitations on the public’s memory.

Jackson Bienvenu spent his adult life in the military because he wanted to get out of Cane and away from the people who know his desperate beginnings. Now all he wants is to come home and start a life and family in the one place he knows he belongs. And, this infuriatingly secretive woman who needs work until she can move on does not fit into the future he wants.

Unfortunately, Jackson and Abby are both discovering that what your head has planned and what your heart wants don’t always work together

•••••••••

REVIEW: Abby begins with the title character hiding out in a small house at her best friend’s home in Cane after attending the wedding of a friend. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your perspective, she didn’t stay hidden long. There was a knock on the door and Abby thought if she just stayed quiet, whomever was knocking would go away……until she heard Tante Izzy’s voice. When she finally opened the door, she found not only Tante Izzy, but the ever handsome Jackson Bienvenu as well. She finally gave in to Tante Izzy and headed to the reception with them.

Abby and Elli met during their treatment for breast cancer in California. Once they kicked cancer’s butt, they started a foundation in order to raise money to aide others fighting the same battle. Unfortunately, someone, somehow, stole from the foundation and fingered Abby for the crime. Although she wasn’t arrested, she remained a person of interest. With her assets frozen and no job, she applied for various jobs in and around Cane with the idea that she’d hide out there and once her name was cleared, she would head back to her life in Los Angeles. However, when she runs into a couple of people she had applied for work with, she’s pretty much told that she won’t be hired by anyone anytime soon.

Jackson, who’s an attorney as well, has a huge project that had a hard deadline and he needs help. Once he realizes that Abby is between a rock and a hard place, he offers her a job, which Abby reluctantly accepts. She soon finds herself surprised that she is not only enjoying the job, but Jackson’s company as well. However, when someone starts stalking Abby, things get scary pretty fast. Reluctant to accept Jackson’s help, she quickly realizes that she actually needs it. What follows keeps you guessing until the very end.

Abby is an awesome addition to the Second Chance series. Abby is a wonderfully written character, whom, despite her upbringing in the glamorous world of Hollywood, is a hard worker with her feet planted firmly on the ground. She’s loyal and has a big heart. Jackson is awesome as well. His love for his family and friends will endear him to everyone and leave you swooning. He has a protective streak a mile wide, without being overbearing. I love the main characters in DeSalvo’s stories, but it is the secondary characters who keep me coming back for more. That brings me to Tante Izzy. She is, without a doubt, one of the best characters I’ve read in years, if not ever. She IS the aunt/grandmother/friend/sister that everyone would love to have. She’s funny as hell, but it is her heart that will leave everyone clamoring for more. Her group of besties are just icing on the cake. If you enjoy a simmering romance with some of the best secondary characters you’ll ever read, the Second Chance Novels are definitely for you. I cannot wait to return to Cane. Well done, Tina DeSalvo! Very, very, very well done!!!!!

 

Reading Order and previous reviews
Elli
Jewell
Abby

Reviewed by Vickie M

Copy supplied for review

The Nutracker Reimagined

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ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date October 17, 2017

A MASTERPIECE OF HOLIDAY STORYTELLING…

Imagine, if you will, that it is Christmas Eve.

The candles are guttered, one by one, and a hush falls over the grand parlor. The children have gone to bed, and a tall, gloriously decorated Christmas tree looms in the shadows of the hearth’s dying embers. Beside the tree a nutcracker stands guard, its broken jaw cradled in a kerchief tied about its head. All is quiet in this dark, peaceful scene until the long case clock chimes. Dulcet tones form a gentle symphony, and the parlor comes to life.

Now, the magic happens.

Lose yourself in The Nutcracker Reimagined, a collection of eleven Christmas tales based on the most treasured characters from the famous holiday ballet, The Nutcracker. Sugarplum fairies will dance in your head, as armies of mice and legions of dolls do battle, and a wounded nutcracker and his lady fair become the stuff of which legends are made. From Arabian dancers to living flowers and hosts of angels, enjoy these tales as reimagined characters from the beloved Christmas tradition find their own happily ever after.

And as the clock’s chimes signal the approaching sunrise, you’ll awaken from these magical stories to discover it has all been a beautiful dream of a retold Christmas classic.

••••••

CHRISTMAS AT THE INN ON CLOUD HILL (Cloud Hill #1)  by Tina DeSalvo

Through the veil of freshly fallen snow, swaying Christmas lights and prancing elderly twins in tutus, Daniel and Aurora each have returned to Cloud Hill – seeking different things until a kilt-wearing handyman changes that.

About the author

Click HERE to read about Tina’s journey

Follow Tina: Goodreads / Website/ Facebook / Twitter

giveaway

Tina DeSalvo is graciously offering an ebook copy of ELLI (book 1) to 2 commenters, and and an ebook copy of THE NUTCRACKER REIMAGINED to 2 commenters.

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The Billionaires: The Bosses by Calista Fox-Review, Excerpt & Giveaway

The Billionaires: The Bosses by Calista Fox-Review, Excerpt & Giveaway

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THE BILLIONAIRES: THE BOSSES
Lover’s Triangle #2
by Calista Fox
Release Date: September 5 , 2017
Genre: adult, contemporary, erotic, romance

The Billionaires The Bosses

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

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date September 5, 2017

What do you do when you have not just one hot boss, but two? And they both want you?

What will it take to make her theirs?

Bayli Styles leaves California wine country behind for the bright lights of New York City, in search of fame and fortune. However, fame and fortune are a little further out of reach than she had hoped, so to supplement her meager modeling income, she seeks a hostess position at Manhattan’s hottest new venue, owned by billionaires Rory St. James and Christian Davila. Bayli gets much more than she bargained for when both devastatingly handsome and magnetic men make her blood sizzle…and offer her the guiltiest of all pleasures–themselves.

Bayli is the perfect solution to the two problems currently plaguing entrepreneurs Rory and Christian, professionally and sexually. She’d make the ultimate -face- for their current joint venture, but both men are thinking beyond business and waste no time seducing Bayli into their brand of double pleasure. In the end, the threesome will put it all on the line–their bodies, their hearts, their souls–either destined for failure, or for the redefinition of true love.

This is a standalone menage romance with an HEA.

•••••••••••

REVIEW: The Bosses begins with Bayli going in for a job interview at NYC’s hottest new restaurant, only to run into (literally!) a little trouble with one of the co-owners, Rory St. James, who just happens to be a world famous chef known for being difficult and demanding in his kitchens. Knowing right off the bat that she’s not going to get the job she applied for, she sets her sights on co-owner #2. Bayli is bound and determined to make him notice her, which only takes about a nanosecond when she enters the party he’s attending. Having accomplished what she set out to do, she heads out at the end of the party and finds herself stranded miles from the city. Luckily for her, co-owner #2, Christian Davila, has stayed late at the party and offers her a ride into the city. She accepts his offer, not knowing that that decision would affect the rest of her life in ways that she hadn’t ever imagined………..

The Bosses is the first I’ve read by Calista Fox. I enjoyed all three main characters. Bayli was fun with her take on things and her boldness. I also liked the way Rory and Christian were written: one being fiery and demanding, while the other was more methodical and thoughtful. I enjoyed the storyline, even though it was pretty predictable. There’s a lot of sizzle in this book, which leaves the whole plot feeling a little forced to me. However, my overall feeling about the book is a good one. If you’re a fan of ménage stories, and maybe even if you’re not, I think you’ll enjoy the book. It’s entertaining and a pretty quick read, with some funny moments as well. I would definitely entertain reading another Calista Fox book.

Copy supplied by the publisher through Netgalley

Reviewed by Vickie M.

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Click HERE to read CHAPTER ONE of THE BILLIONAIRES: THE BOSSES by Calista Fox

About The Author beige

Follow: Goodreads / Website / Twitter / Facebook

Calista FoxCalista is a former PR professional, now writing fast-paced, steamy books to set your pulse racing! Her publishing houses include St. Martin’s Press, Grand Central Publishing and Harlequin. She is an Amazon bestseller and has won many Reviewer’s and Reader’s Choice Awards, as well as Best Book Awards.

Calista is a college graduate and teaches online writing classes. She is also a Past President/Advisor of the Phoenix chapter of the Romance Writers of America national organization.

 

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Calista Fox’s publisher (St. Martin’s) is graciously offering a paper copy of of THE BILLIONAIRES: The Bosses 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. Follow Calista Fox 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 is open to USA only.

9. Giveaway runs from September 9-13, 2017

SMP St. Martins

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So I Married a Sorcerer (The Embraced #2) by Kerrelyn Sparks-Review and Excerpt Tour

So I Married a Sorcerer (The Embraced #2) by Kerrelyn Sparks-Review and Excerpt Tour

So I Married a Sorcerer

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

About the book: Release Date August 29, 2017

Growing up on the Isle of Moon, Brigitta knows nothing of her past, except that she is Embraced: born with powers that forced her into hiding. Everything changes when she learns she’s a princess, hidden away from her villainous half-brother who now rules the kingdom. But he knows about Brigitta, and he’ll do anything to get her back. Unless a certain roguish pirate has anything to say about it…

Rupert is both an infamous pirate and a sorcerer with the power to harness the wind. He’s been waiting nineteen years for revenge—and he needs Brigitta to get it. What begins as a kidnapping of the fiery beauty turns into a fierce attraction. But can he win the captive princess’s heart?

Review:

So I Married a Sorcerer begins with Brigitta and her “sisters” traveling from the convent they’ve called home all of their lives to attend the wedding of their beloved sister, Luciana. As they near their destination, they encounter two groups of ships who have one thing in mind: kidnap Brigitta. More than shocked that anyone would want her, Brigitta is finally told that she is a princess. A princess that her treacherous half-brother needs in order to solidify his rein and a princess that the pirate, Rupert, needs to set his plan for revenge into motion. When Rupert takes control of the situation, and Brigitta, it doesn’t take him long to question everything he thinks he’s wanted all these years. It takes Brigitta even less time to question not only her attraction to him, but also the visions that plague her every time he touches her. She knows that logically she should fear him. He did kidnap her after all. However, it doesn’t take her long to figure out that he would never really hurt her and he is a better man than even he knows.

So I Married a Sorcerer is a wonderful addition to The Embraced Series. Kerrelyn Sparks has built another world that pulls you in right from the beginning. Brigitta is an endearing character who is naïve in the ways of the world, but wise beyond her years in her steadfast loyalty to those she loves. Rupert has been driven for years in his need for revenge, but rethinks everything once he gets to know Brigitta. Their back story surprised me a little bit and I loved how it played out. The supporting characters, as always in anything written by Sparks, always leave you wanting more. These books are romance stories, but they are written almost sweetly, with a little slow burn, a little humor and a whole lot of creativity. If you’re looking for a quick read that will leave your heart smiling, you will never go wrong with anything written by Sparks. I look forward to the next installment. Well done, Kerrelyn Sparks! Very well done!

Click HERE for Vickie’s review of book 1-HOW TO TAME A BEAST IN SEVEN DAYS

Copy supplied for review by the publisher

Reviewed by Vickie M

Excerpt

 

“I cannot play,” Brigitta told her sisters as she cast a wary look at the linen bag filled with Telling Stones. Quickly she shifted on the window seat to gaze at the Great West- ern Ocean. The rolling waves went on for as far as she could see, but her mind was elsewhere. Calm yerself. The prediction will ne’er happen.
At dawn they had boarded this ship, accompanied by Mother Ginessa and Sister Fallyn, who were now resting in the cabin next door. This was the smallest vessel in the Eberoni Royal Navy, the captain had explained, sturdy enough to cross the ocean, but small enough to travel up the Ebe River to the palace at Ebton. There, they would see their oldest sister, who was now the queen of Eberon.
According to the captain, Queen Luciana had intended to send more than one ship to safeguard their journey, but at the last minute the other naval ships had been diverted south to fight the Tourinian pirates who were raiding vil- lages along the Eberoni shore. But not to worry, the cap- tain had assured Brigitta and her companions. Since the royal navy was keeping the pirates occupied to the south, their crossing would be perfectly safe.
Indeed, after a few hours, it seemed perfectly boring. “If we don’t play, how will we pass the time?” Gwen- nore asked from her seat at the round table. “ ’Twill be
close to sunset afore we reach Ebton.”
“I wish we could wander about on deck,” Maeve grumbled from her chair next to Gwennore. “ ’Tis a lovely spring day, and we’re stuck down here.”
Sorcha huffed in annoyance as she paced about the cabin. “Mother Ginessa insisted we remain here. I swear she acts as if she’s afraid to let anyone see us.”
“Perhaps she fears for our safety because we are Em- braced,” Gwennore said.
Sorcha shook her head. “We’re safe now in Eberon.”
But only in Eberon, Brigitta thought as she studied the deep-blue waves. Being Embraced was a death sentence anywhere else on the mainland. The other kings abhorred the fact that each of the Embraced possessed some sort of magical power that the kings, themselves, could never have.
When Brigitta and her adopted sisters were born, the only safe haven had been the Isle of Moon. They’d grown up there in the Convent of the Two Moons, believing they were orphans. But almost a year ago, they’d discovered a shocking truth. Luciana had never been an orphan.
Since then, Brigitta had wondered if she had family somewhere, too. Had they hidden her away or, worse, abandoned her? She feared it was the latter. For in all her nineteen years of life, no one from the mainland had ever bothered to contact her.
You are loved, she reminded herself. She’d grown up in a loving home at the convent. Her sisters loved her, and she loved them. That was enough.
It had to be enough. Didn’t it?
Sorcha lowered her voice. “I still believe Mother Ginessa knows things about us that she won’t tell.”
Brigitta silently agreed. She knew from her special gift that almost everyone was hiding something.
“Let’s play the game and let the stones tell us,” Maeve said. “I need to do something. This cabin is feeling smaller by the minute.”
Brigitta sighed. Sadly enough, this was the largest cabin on board. Captain Shaw had lent them his quarters, which had a large window overlooking the back of the vessel.
The ship creaked as it rolled to the side, and Sorcha grabbed the sideboard to steady herself.
“Have a seat afore ye fall,” Gwennore warned her. “Fine.” Sorcha emptied the oranges from a brass bowl
on the sideboard, then plunked the bowl onto the table as she took a seat. “Let’s play.”
Brigitta’s sisters gave her a questioning look, but she shook her head and turned to gaze out the window once again. It had been twelve years ago, when she was seven, that Luciana had invented the game where they could each pretend to be the Seer from the Isle of Mist. They’d gathered up forty pebbles from the nearby beach, then painted them with colors and numbers. After the stones were deposited in a bowl and covered with a cloth, each sister would grab a small handful of pebbles and what- ever colors or numbers she’d chosen would indicate her future.
“We’ll just have to play without her,” Sorcha grum- bled. A clattering noise filled the cabin as the bag of Telling Stones was emptied into the brass bowl, a noise not quite loud enough to cover Sorcha’s hushed voice. “Ye know why she won’t play. She’s spooked.”
Brigitta winced. That was too close to the truth.
She could no longer see the Isle of Moon on the hori- zon. As the island had faded from sight, a wave of appre- hension had washed over her, slowly growing until it had
sucked her down into an undertow of fear and dread. For deep in her heart, she believed that leaving the safety of the convent would trigger the set of events that Luciana had predicted.
But how could she have refused this voyage? Luciana would be giving birth soon, and she wanted her sisters with her. She also needed Mother Ginessa, who was an excellent midwife.
“I’m going first,” Sorcha declared, and the stones rat- tled about the bowl as she mixed them up.
“O Great Seer,” Maeve said, repeating the line they spoke before each prediction. “Reveal to us the secrets of the Telling Stones.”
“What the hell?” Sorcha muttered, and Maeve gasped. “Ye mustn’t let Mother Ginessa hear ye curse like
that,” Gwennore warned her.
“These stones are ridiculous!” Sorcha slammed them on the table, and out of curiosity Brigitta turned to see what her sister had selected.
Nine, pink, and lavender.
Gwennore tilted her head as she studied the stones. “In nine years ye will meet a tall and handsome—”
“Nine years?” Sorcha grimaced. “I would be so old!” “Twenty-seven.” Gwennore’s mouth twitched. “Practi-
cally ancient.”
“Exactly!” Sorcha huffed. “I’ll wait nine months for my tall and handsome stranger, and not a minute more.” She glared at the colored stones. “I hate pink. It looks ter- rible with my freckles and red hair.”
Maeve’s eyes sparkled with mischief. “Who said ye would be wearing it? I think yer true love will look very pretty in pink.”
“He’s not wearing pink,” Sorcha growled.
“Aye, a lovely pink gown with a lavender sash,” Gwen- nore added with a grin.
“Nay, Gwennie.” Maeve shook her head. “The lavender means he’ll have lavender-blue eyes like you.”
“Ah.” Gwennore tucked a tendril of her white-blond hair behind a pointed ear. “Could be.”
“Are ye kidding me?” Sorcha gave them an incredu- lous look. “How on Aerthlan would I ever meet an elf?” “Ye met me,” Gwennore said. “And apparently, in nine months, ye’ll meet a tall and handsome elf in a pink gown.” She and Maeve laughed, and Sorcha reluctantly
grinned.
Brigitta turned to peer out the window once again. Over the years, the Telling Stones had proven to be an entertaining game. But then, a year ago, something strange had happened. Luciana’s prediction for her own future had actually come to pass. She’d met and fallen in love with the tall and handsome stranger she’d foretold in specific detail, using the Telling Stones. And if that hadn’t been amazing enough, she’d become the queen of Eberon.
Eager to experience something equally romantic, Bri- gitta had begged her oldest sister to predict a similar future for her.
A mistake. Brigitta frowned at the churning ocean. Blue, gold, seven, and eight. Those had been the stones
Luciana had selected. Blue and gold, she’d explained, sig- nified the royal colors of the kingdom of Tourin. Seven meant there would be seven suitors to compete for her hand. And eight . . . in eight months, Brigitta would meet a tall and handsome stranger.
The eight months had now passed.
She pressed a hand against her roiling stomach. When they’d boarded this morning, she’d quickly as-
sessed the captain and his crew. None of them had struck her as particularly tall or handsome. Captain Shaw was portly, bald, and old enough to be her father.
As for the seven suitors vying for her hand, she had initially been thrilled, considering the idea wildly exciting. But when her sisters had likened it to her being a prize in a tourney, she’d had second thoughts.
Why would seven men compete for her? She had noth- ing special to offer. Even the gift she possessed for being Embraced was hardly special. And did this contest mean she would have no choice but to marry whichever man won her? The more she’d thought about this competition, the more it had made her cringe.
So, five months ago, she’d played the game again, hop- ing to achieve different results. But to her shock, there had been four stones in her hand.
Blue, gold, seven, and five.
Had some sort of mysterious countdown gone into ef- fect? Reluctant to believe that, she’d attempted the game again a month later. Blue, gold, seven, and four. Alarmed, she’d sworn never to play again.
But one month ago, Sorcha had dared her to play, taunt- ing her for being overly dramatic. Those words never failed to irk Brigitta, so she’d accepted the dare. With a silent prayer to the moon goddesses, she’d reached into the bowl, swished the pebbles around, and grabbed a hand- ful. And there, in her palm, four stones had stared up at her.
Blue, gold, seven, and one. A fate was shoving itself down her throat whether she liked it or not.
And she did not.
Brigitta had been raised on the Isle of Moon, where women were free to determine their own futures and everyone worshipped the moon goddesses, Luna and Lessa.
It was different on the mainland. Men were in charge there, and everyone worshipped a male god, the Light.
Luciana had been fortunate to find a good man who respected her independent nature. As king and queen, they had declared it safe to worship the moon goddesses in Eberon.
But it was not that way elsewhere. In the other main- land kingdoms, Brigitta would be executed for making the sign of the moons as she prayed. Executed for being Embraced. So why did she keep picking the blue and gold colors of Tourin?
And why would seven suitors compete for her? She glanced at her sisters. Sorcha had always seemed the stron- gest, with a fiery temperament that matched her fiery red hair. Gwennore had always been the smartest. Maeve, the youngest, had always been the sweetest. And Luciana— now married—had been their brave leader. Brigitta had never been quite sure where she fit in.
Gwennore, with her superior intellect, had always been the best at translating books into different languages. Maeve had excelled in penmanship, and Sorcha in artwork. Luciana had been good at everything.
But Brigitta . . . the nuns had despaired with her. When transcribing a book, she could never stay true to the text. A little embellishment here, a tweak there, and eventu- ally she would take a story so off course, it was no longer recognizable. This, of course, upset the nuns, for their male customers on the mainland were paying for an ex- act copy of an old tale, not the romantic fantasies of an overly dramatic young woman.
Whenever the nuns had fussed at her, her sisters had come to her defense, insisting that her story was much better than the original. And each time the nuns tried to use Brigitta’s overly dramatic mistakes for kindling, her sisters always managed to rescue the pages and give them to her. They’d even begged her to finish her stories
about dashing young heroes, so that they could read them.
Brigitta adored them for that. She’d do anything for her sisters, including this voyage to Eberon that she was so afraid would activate the events she’d been dread- ing.
She shifted her gaze back to the rolling motion of the ocean, and her stomach churned. Did a person’s destiny have to be set in stone, in this case the Telling Stones? This was her story, so why couldn’t it be one of her mak- ing? Surely she didn’t have to stick to a text that had already been written without her consent. Couldn’t she be the author of her own destiny?
“Ye should watch the horizon, not the waves,” Maeve said as she sat next to Brigitta on the window seat. “ ’Tis a sure way to make yerself ill.”
“Oh.” Brigitta turned to her youngest sister. “I didn’t realize . . .” Her stomach twisted with a sharp pain, and she winced.
Gwennore gave her a worried look. “Ye look pale. Would ye like some bread or wine?” She motioned toward the sideboard and the food that had been left for them.
Brigitta shook her head. Perhaps if she sat perfectly still for a few moments, the nausea would pass. “Did ye finish playing the Game of Stones?”
“Aye,” Maeve answered. “Didn’t ye hear us giggling?” Brigitta groaned inwardly, not wanting to admit she’d been too engrossed in her own worries to pay her sisters
any mind.
“My prediction was the best,” Maeve continued. “In four years, I’ll meet a tall and handsome stranger with green teeth, purple hair, and three feet.”
Brigitta wrinkled her nose. “Ye call that handsome? How can he have three feet? Does he have a third leg?”
Maeve waved a dismissive hand. “We didn’t bother to figure that part out. But he is taller than most.”
“Aye.” Sorcha snorted. “By a foot.”
Maeve grinned. “As ye can see, the game is nonsense. Besides, I have no desire to meet any man, no matter how tall or handsome. I plan to live the rest of my life with all of you at the convent.”
“Aye,” Sorcha agreed. “I’m not leaving my sisters for an elf in a pink gown. ’Tis naught but a silly game.”
“Exactly.” Gwennore gave Brigitta a pointed look. “So ye shouldn’t believe anything the stones say.”
They were doing their best to relieve her fear, Brigitta realized, and as her heart warmed, the ache in her stomach eased. “Thank you. What would I do without ye all?”
The ship lurched suddenly to the right, causing Bri- gitta and Maeve to fall against the padded wall of the window seat. The oranges rolled off the sideboard and plummeted to the wooden floor. Empty goblets fell onto the floor with a series of loud clunks.
Sorcha grabbed on to the table. “What was that?”
Loud shouts and the pounding of feet sounded on the deck overhead.
“Something is amiss,” Gwennore said as she gazed up at the ceiling. “They’re running about.”
Maeve peered out the window. “I believe we made a sudden turn to the south.”
“That would put us off course,” Gwennore murmured.
The door slammed open, and they jumped in their seats.
Mother Ginessa gave them a stern look, while behind her Sister Fallyn pressed the tips of her fingers against her thumbs, forming two small circles to represent the twin moons.

 

 

About The author

Kerrelyn SparksApparently, she has issues with reality. After writing 16 books about vampires and shifters, Kerrelyn has now completely gone off the deep end and wound up on another planet.

Although Kerrelyn is best known (so far) for the Love at Stake series, which has hit as high as number 5 on the New York Times list and 22 on the USA Today list, she hopes her readers will love The Embraced as much as they did her merry band of vamps and shifters.

Kerrelyn lives with her family in the Greater Houston area of Texas. You can visit with her on Goodreads or her Facebook page, where she does a monthly contest. On Twitter, she posts as @KerrelynSparks.

SMP St. Martins

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Dating the Billionaire by Poppy Dunne-a review

Dating the Billionaire by Poppy Dunne-a review

Dating the Bilionarie

Amazon.com / Amazon.ca / Amazon.uk /

About the book: Release Date July 12, 2017

I’m Dahlia Rossi, dating coach extraordinaire. I know how to land you the man of your dreams. Follow my rules, you’ll meet the love of your life and have a gorgeous destination wedding in French Polynesia. Okay, that last one happened just the one time. But my rules work every time. I guarantee it.

1. The man makes the first move. Seems unfair? Life’s unfair.
2. Never have sex on the first date. No, not even oral. And hands above the table, please.
3. Play hard to get, but don’t make it too hard.

Solid rules, right? I thought they were. But then I met Jack Carraway, an impossibly sexy, frustratingly unpredictable billionaire, and broke them all. Everywhere. In an elevator. On a balcony. Beneath a gazebo, of all places.

Whether I like it or not (spoiler alert: I like it!), Jack is taking me on wild adventure and we’re writing a whole new set of rules. Like, always reserve your matching Harry Potter costumes a week in advance; wrestling swans is not as easy as it looks; and sometimes, the man of your dreams pops up in the most unlikely of places and has a really big…boat.

After years of watching couples find love, it may be my turn. But is this spontaneous playboy the real thing, or just a fun detour around my predictable life? All this time I’ve been following my own rules and going to sleep alone, with nothing but my second slice of princess cake to keep me company.

But the more time I spend with Jack, the more I learn that rules…they’re meant to be broken.

•••••••••••••

REVIEW: Dating the Billionaire begins with Dahlia Rossi helping a new client, as well as an already established one. While attending a party with the latter, as “support”, she encounters none other than Jack Carraway: self-made billionaire, tech geek and, according to the tabloids, playboy extraordinaire. Is she intrigued? You betcha. Is she going to fall for his sweet and sexy words? Nope. At least, that’s what she thought.

Jack Carraway is a self-made man who finds it more than troubling that he can’t get his one night with Dahlia Rossi out of his mind. He’s always been a “love ‘em and leave ‘em happy” kind of guy. He is not interested in anything long-term. Or, that’s what he thought. However, there is no denying the chemistry the two of them share. As all of Dahlia’s rules fly out the window, she finds herself wondering……would it be so bad dating the billionaire?

Dating the Billionaire is the first I’ve read by Poppy Dunne. It’s written by alternating first person POVs, which I’m not a huge fan of. After the first few chapters, I contemplated putting it down, but then a funny thing happened. I fell in love with this story! To say it’s quirky would be a bit of an understatement, but I found it very endearing. The two main characters were okay individually, but they made me laugh out loud when they bantered back and forth about the weirdest things. I loved the secondary characters, one of which is Dahlia’s best friend, puts the IR in quirky. I, for one, hope she gets her own book. Some of them left me scratching my head, but in a good way. LOL! Anyway, if you’re looking for a romance that’s a fast read, as well as funny, a little strange and sexy as hell, you won’t go wrong with this one. Well done, Poppy Dunne!

Copy supplied for review

Reviewed by Vickie M

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When I Need You (Need You #4) by Lorelei James-Review & Giveaway

When I Need You (Need You #4) by Lorelei James-Review & Giveaway

When I Need You Banner

WHEN I NEED YOU
Need You #4
by Lorelei James
Release Date: July 25, 2017
Genre: adult, contemporary, erotic,romance

When I Need You

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

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date July 25, 2017

Rules are tossed aside when a pro football player join forces with a spitfire cheerleading coach in New York Times bestselling author Lorelei James’s brand-new romance…

Heir to Lund Enterprises and ladies’ man Jensen “The Rocket” Lund has three conditions when it comes to dating:
1) No single mothers
2) No cheerleaders
3) No medical personnel
So it makes no sense that he’s wildly attracted to Rowan Michaels, who breaks all three.

Rowan Michaels didn’t pass the rigorous requirements to become an athletic trainer and Vikings cheerleader in the hopes of landing a pro athlete: been there, done that, and she has a young son as proof that football players and fidelity don’t go hand in hand. When Rowan learns her new neighbor is Jensen Lund, the smoking-hot tight end who takes being neighborly to a whole new level, she’s grateful for the team’s strict “no fraternization” policy because the sexy man defines temptation.

But Jensen is intent on rushing straight to the goal line to prove to Rowan he’s much more than just a player…on and off the field.

••••••••

REVIEW: When I Need You begins with Jensen Lund’s chance encounter with a little boy running a little wild in the hallway of his apartment building. Unknown to Jensen, his best buddy, who lives across the hall, has sub-leased his apartment to his sister, Rowan. A couple of things come to mind: why didn’t Jensen know about said sister AND why didn’t he know about said sister being hot. Although their initial meeting was a bit awkward, it doesn’t take long for Jensen and Rowan to develop a friendship. And, friendship is all either of them have time for. Jensen has been rehabbing for the last year, hoping and praying that he will get medical clearance to return to his team, and has made this is sole focus. Rowan, being a single mother to her son, Calder, as well as a full time job (and a part time job as well!) has a full plate too.

What follows is a beautifully written story of friendship, acceptance and a truly believable love story. Jensen is a character with depth, who not only loves his family, but has a big heart that’s ready to settle down, even though he didn’t quite know that until his chance encounter with Rowan. Now, about Rowan. I LOVED everything about her. She is not a whiny, oh poor me, single mother. She is not so stand-offish that she comes across as a man hater. She DOES, however, put her son, and (SURPRISE!), herself before anything else. Yes, her son is her main focus, and she does lose her way a bit when it comes to letting her hair down, but when she finally figures out that it’s okay, she hits her stride. When these two finally trust in their feelings for each other, you feel that anything is possible. I also loved that their romance was slow to build. Yes, they were attracted to each other, but it took a bit for their true romance to build.

The secondary characters are well written and definitely leave you wanting more. The Lund family this series is written around is a triple threat: loving, forgiving and funny at times. Yes, they’re mega-wealthy, but if there is such a thing as being grounded billionaires, it would be the Lunds. I have loved everything I’ve ready by Lorelei James, and this series is no exception. If you’re a romance fan, you’ll love this series too. It pulls you in at the very beginning and leaves you wanting more. Well done, Lorelei James! Very, very well done!

Copy supplied by Netgalley

Reviewed by Vickie M.

Reading Order and previous reviews
What You Need
Just What I Needed
All You Need
When I Need You

Copy supplied for review

Reviewed by Vickie M.

giveaway

Lorelei James Publisher and The Reading Cafe are offering a paper copy of WHEN I NEED YOU to ONE (1) lucky commenter at The Reading Cafe.

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

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

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9. Giveaway runs from July 27 to 31, 2017

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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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