Tag Archives: romance novels

Seldom Come By is an Epic Historical from WWI Newfoundland: Gripping Romance

03_Seldom Come By (Iceberg Trilogy Book One) CoverSherryl Caulfield is on tour for Seldom Come By, the first book in her Iceberg Trilogy, from November 24-December 13. Enter to win an autographed copy below after reading my review.

Seldom Come By, written by author Sherryl Caulfield, is a book published about a year ago and is set-up to be a trilogy. At almost 500 pages, this book is an epic within itself and I had to start reading on it much earlier than most and give time to place myself into the beautiful Newfoundland setting and place, which is WWI. The book opens just two years after an iceberg sunk the Titanic.

Since I generally don’t re-hash plots, even if I did this one is much too large to do so, and I’d want you as a reader to experience it for yourself because it really is a book you must immerse yourself in. If you like large romantic epics, this book is for you! I highly recommend it for a long holiday break read, snuggled up with a warm blanket, comfy socks, and your fireplace if you need one. Be sure to have a box of Kleenex on hand as well.

Even though it’s a very long book, it isn’t sapped down with a lot of unnecessary details or rambling passages. The book moves with fairly good momentum but over a large span of time. There are happy time and sad times, it is an emotional roller coaster, as many epic novels are I suppose. She really sets up her couple as a memorable partnership that you find yourself caring about, and pulling for, and imagining what their life must have been like at that time in history. It was an interesting take on another country’s part (Canada’s) in WWI as well as the hardships people endured during it.

I enjoyed her sense of place during the bright times and her details of the locations. It certainly made me want to travel, except during the dark, cold times! The times during war were pretty dreary and sad and not as interesting to me as the times they shared together. I was sad for the many things Rebecca endured in her life.

It’s a very large undertaking of a book for a debut novel. It isn’t as vivid with decadent visuals as  much as I’d have liked. I would like to see her write more flowing sentences. It may have been better just to write a novel of Rebecca and leave out some of the war sections, but that is being picky for most readers (just the editor in me looking with a critical eye). It isn’t a fluffy romance or a breezy one, or even a cozy one if that is what you like, but it’s well-written, the plot is clean and engaging, and the romance, a dramatic one full of love, loss, forgiveness, redemption, trust, and loyalty.

A great start to a saga to span generations and many decades. It takes us on one Canadian’s couple journey through WWI with smiles of joy and tears of sadness, connecting us to them, their time, and their place. If you like romance with great depth, this one is recommended for you, but be sure to block out a good amount of time to really devote to it.

Her Ocean

Seldom Come By: The Iceberg Trilogy 1~

03_Seldom Come By (Iceberg Trilogy Book One) CoverPublication Date: December 10, 2013
Cedar Pocket Publishing
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Pages: 490

Series: Iceberg Trilogy
Genre: Historical Fiction

READ AN EXCERPT.

Two years after the sinking of the Titanic, fifteen year-old Rebecca Crowe’s fascination with icebergs leads her to save a shipwrecked survivor, Samuel Dalton, the nineteen-year old son of a Toronto medical family.

Love sparks in the crystal cave of an iceberg but is thwarted by an unreasonable father and the Great War that drags Samuel and his brother, Matthew, to the Western Front as medical officers. Knowing Rebecca is home and safe in Newfoundland brings Samuel great comfort. But as the war moves towards its final harrowing days, they both discover that tragedy and terror can strike anywhere, setting their love on an unforeseen path.

Only when Samuel and Rebecca can fully come to terms with such devastating loss and their impossible choices can their love soar. With an emotional intensity reminiscent of The Bronze Horseman, Seldom Come By, named after an actual place in Newfoundland, is an unforgettable journey across waves and time and the full spectrum of human emotions.

Praise for Seldom Come By~

Rebeccas Hair-1

“Seldom Come By is a haunting love story set against the windswept coast of Newfoundland. The story draws you in from the opening lines and takes you on a compelling journey across time and continents, through love, loss, heartache and healing. It is a beautiful and memorable story — a great accomplishment and a wonderful read.” – Julie Fison, Australia

“A wholly engaging read that wraps you up in another world. The story of how Samuel and Rebecca met and fell in love will always stay with me — and leaves me feeling as if I have already visited Newfoundland.” – Carolyn Wood, New Zealand

“If you love deep, epic, romantic stories this is one for you.” – Jeannie Zelos, United Kingdom

“Historical fiction is by far my favorite genre and this book captures the elements perfectly. An engaging, strong heroine, a dashing, honorable stranger, a brutal daily life existence in Newfoundland set during WWI. The story and characters are made more rich by the superb writing. I look forward to reading more from this author.” – Diane Tyson, USA

“This book was a real treat to read. By 30% in I was completely invested in the characters. The strength, passion and adversity that the couple have to endure are reminiscent of The Bronze Horseman, but beyond that, Rebecca and Samuel find their own way of handling things. I have already found myself recommending this book to others that have loved The Bronze Horseman. I do believe that if you enjoy an epic love story, this will make a fine reading suggestion.” – Karen Scott, Canada

Buy the Book~

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Author Sherryl Caulfield, Biography~

02_Sherryl Caulfield AuthorAustralian-born Sherryl Caulfield is a marketer, writer and traveller. After twenty years working for some of the world’s leading technology brands and a stint with Outward Bound, she longed to write about the human experience and the redemptive qualities of nature.

In 2006, haunted by an encounter with a woman she met in Canada, Sherryl started what has now become known as The Iceberg Trilogy. From her home in the Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand, she distilled the lives of three generations of women – Rebecca, Evangeline and Lindsay – over the course of a century. In the telling of their stories she crafted a series rich in landscapes – of sea, land and the human soul.

For more information please visit Sherryl Caulfield’s website. You can also find her on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

Giveaway~

To enter to win an Autographed copy of Seldom Come By, please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway form below.

ENTER HERE: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Rules~

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 p.m. on December 13th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open internationally.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/seldomcomebyblogtour/

Hashtags: #SeldomComeByBlogTour #HistoricalRomance
Twitter Tags: @hfvbt @ShezCaulfield

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Highland Hunger by E. Knight is a Clever Scottish Romance with Passion and Action

03_Highland Hunger Complete Set Cover

Today I have the pleasure of reviewing E. Knight’s Highland Hunger novel, which was first released in several parts before being condensed into the whole. It’s a planned book series, as well. I was first intrigued by the branding of this book. Eliza and her graphic artist, Kim I think, did a cool job of branding this series with appealing graphics for the book cover, bookmarks, other graphics, etc. Take that from someone that’s been in marketing for 18+ plus years. So, yes, the graphics pulled me in. What else? Well, I love the movies and TV show, Highlander, and I’ve liked Scottish lore since I was little and I lived in England and my American parents were enamored by Scotland. I also like Disney’s Brave, does that count? Also, I like plaid. Joking.

Now if that wasn’t enough, I also really like the medieval times, their games, their Kings and Queens, their legends, and their drama. I like their fierce and strong women as well. Furthermore, in regards to what this book seems to take a nod from, I also REALLY like the Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins, which by the way, I read the books before the movies and find them extremely well-written. With the use of the phrases, “Let the Games Begin” and “May the Gods Be Forever In Their Favor” it’s pretty obvious that there is a reference used. I thought maybe she could have left off using the latter phrase and opted for something more Scottishly original; however, it may sell books.

However, E. Knight brings us a really well-brainstormed and imaginative story from the Scottish Isles set in the medieval times in which a male and female are chosen every five years from a series of war games. They are married and rule the land until the next games. I liked her unique twist on the games and that there are two winners to be married at the end. It’s very interesting the dynamics that this two-win marriage created between the game players in the book. I love this premise!!

When I first opened the novel, I was immediately drawn in by the “legend,” which was a kind of prologue that told of King Olaf and the legend of how the games began. I’m a sucker for that type of thing. I would have enjoyed reading more of that story. However, I enjoyed meeting the protagonist female warrior, Ceana, from the start and watch the story from her eyes. I liked her determination. The first couple chapters, though fine, weren’t enthralling enough for my taste however. Maybe I wanted more legend, or more visuals, but I didn’t feel sucked into the story anymore.

As the novel went on, it gave me a darker taste of these games to the death as the characters deal with all sorts of emotion stemming from the killing, the stress, the decisions, the mourning, and basically, being human. I am glad she gave them their humanity, whether it be in being sad for those who had died, or in the feral attraction between Ceana and Macrath. Of course, E. Knight will write adult fiction in a sexy and real way. She accomplished that well. I am sure she knows how to write the steamy romance that most romance readers are pinning for!

I haven’t read any of her other works beside her Eliza Knight Tudor Series, so I can’t speak of how this compares to her other romances, as I don’t normally read a ton of romance unless it is underlying to a historical fiction. If you’re wondering though, of course it does have sex, violence, and a dark side, but no more than many other things I read. It isn’t overdone and most adults should be fine reading it, but I don’t think it should be given to your teen reader if you are strict about sex in their reading.

It was entertaining in many parts and lulled in others. It wasn’t a book in which I wanted to turn the pages like flash lightening. I had hoped it would be. I would have preferred more grit myself and for her lead lady to be more of an independent warrior that needed no man. I probably would have been able to read even more dark and war-like parts myself. And I’m not into the story line where males get jealous of each other and fight over the female. Or when the man is possessive or dominant. That is just me and so I don’t want to mislead my own followers. But understanding what E. Knight writes, I can see it fits her writing and her fans would love it. Anyone who likes a heavy romance set amid some drama will love it.

One other hold up for me was that I was halted a little in getting into the story in a fluid fashion by her sentence structure. Though in most parts fine, in quite a few cases I didn’t like the short, choppy, or incomplete sentences. That is the editor in me though, wanting to fix the sentences and make them flow more. I also wanted to remove or place many commas. I didn’t notice this as much in her Tudor series, so I am not sure why it was hiccuping me so bad here. I also like sentences filled with emotion, details, or visuals and felt her needed a little more work. I am so sorry to say this, but I have to be honest, and as I’ve been an editor for a long while in all shapes and forms, I hope it’s nothing more than just helpful. If others aren’t bothered by this in their reading, then that is quite alright too.

I enjoyed checking it out and I’d continue to read the rest of the series. I applaud her for trying something new and I think it’s really different from anything in the historical fiction realm. I’ll be giving it a 4 on Amazon for her imagination and plot construct, but I’d like to give it a 3 for better editing and depth to characters and details. And I’d give it a 5 for marketing and packaging! I’d even buy dolls if she put them out for purchase.

Overall, if you like steamy medieval romances from the Scottish Highlands and are looking for something entertaining, imaginative, and fun to heat up your dark nights, then start with Highland Hunger and enjoy her unique historical romance series.  Romance fans will stand up and cheer for the victors!

03_Highland Hunger Complete Set CoverHighland Hunger, Synopsis~

Publication Date: September 18, 2014
Knight Media, LLC.
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Pages: 278

Genre: Historical Romance

GoodReads

***ALL FIVE GAMES!!!***

An unclaimed land in the Scottish isles is ruled by the male and female victors in a series of war games every five years. Named Chief and Lady of the land, they rule the vast holding, and protect the people by divine right, until the next game begins.

After her brother’s death Ceana is named laird. The only way for her clan to survive the ravages of the Highlands is to join in the war games. Bastard son of a powerful earl, Macrath is placed in the games by his vengeful stepmother. He must survive for the ultimate retribution.

Ceana can’t afford to like the formidable, captivating, Highlander who seems to be following her, and yet she can’t seem to walk away. Macrath wants nothing more than to protect the enchanting warrior lass, but doing so may get in the way of his need for revenge. What starts out as a race to survive turns into passion to endure together.

May the gods be forever in their favor…

Buy the Book~

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Author E. Knight, Bio~

Eliza KnightE. Knight is a member of the Historical Novel Society, Romance Writers of America and several RWA affiliate writing chapters: Hearts Through History, Celtic Hearts, Maryland Romance Writers and Washington Romance Writers.

Growing up playing in castle ruins and traipsing the halls of Versailles when visiting her grandparents during the summer, instilled in a love of history and royals at an early age.

Feeding her love of history, she created the popular historical blog, History Undressed (www.historyundressed.com).

Under the pseudonym Eliza Knight, she is a bestselling, award-winning, multi-published author of historical and erotic romance.

For more information please visit E. Knight’s website and blog. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/highlandhungerblogtour/

Hashtags: #HighlandHungerBlogTour #HistoricalRomance #HighlandWarsGameOn

Twitter Tags: @hfvbt @ElizaKnight

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The Prodigal Son by Anna Belfrage Continues The Graham Saga with Love and Hope in the Midst of Harsh Times

The Prodigal SonThe Prodigal Son is Anna Belfrage’s third book in her Graham Saga series, a story about a time shifted Alexandra (Alex) Lind and her husband, Matthew Graham, whom she marries in the seventeenth century.  In this installment, Anna continues to give us the same well-developed characters, cherished love story, conflicts and resolution, and her usual amazing feelings of hope.

Starting the series with A Rip in the Veil, we meet Alex who is caught in a thunderstorm that suddenly transports her from 2002 to 1658 Scotland where she lands near the feet of Matthew and is thrown into the adventure of adjusting to an entirely new set of circumstances. Even as she is independent and strong, Matthew is stubborn and protective and they fall in love quickly as well as a whole host of other situations.  As we read the second book, Like Chaff in the Wind, Alex and Matthew sail to the New World.  You can read my review of that HERE.

This third book, The Prodigal Son, sets them back in Scotland during a time of much upheaval due to politics and religion, both intertwined at the time. With many people standing up and almost risking their lives to be able to have religious freedom and not conform to the Church of England under Charles II, Matthew puts his life, as well as his family’s in danger, by helping ministers and the cause. One of those ministers he assists is Sandy Peden (who actually existed and was on the run for his religious beliefs almost his whole life), much to Alex’s disdain as she didn’t want her family to suffer for the antics of these people’s fervent beliefs (she doesn’t quite always understand Matthew’s desires and would prefer he stay out of it!). 

Though not a religious novel, due to the time period itself being racked with religious zeal and war, it really seeped into every life during this time period following England’s restoration as well as the settling of the American colonies. Men like Anna’s character of Matthew would have felt strongly about holding onto his personal rights at that time, even if it meant hiding “on the run” ministers who were upholding freedom of religion and speech, even as others threatened their lives and chased them down. I enjoyed the times in Anna’s story when Matthew and Alex would discuss religion or actions, even theology with alternate and proposed ideas of God, all as if they were discussing the price of tea, then they’d kiss and declare their love for one another. THAT is the best part of this book for me, by the way, the never-ending, undying love that Matthew and Alex have for one another that knows no bounds.

The worst part for me is that Matthew’s devotion to the freedom of religion cause and helping others does leave a disastrous mark on their family and their life together. It was a chapter of weeping, but I won’t share and spoil the novel. However, it’s sooo sad!!!  It truly tugged at the heart-strings. Again though, it didn’t change their love for one another and there is a chance for rebirth of hope and family.

Another plot point in Anna’s third book has to do with the title (The Prodigal Son), as Matthew’s ex-wife, who was always in love with Matthew’s egotistical brother Luke, comes to their country residence saying she needs to run from the plague, but when she has to leave the son that Luke has declared his, even though it most likely has always been Matthew’s son, Matthew and Ian grow close, only to be torn apart and brought together in an ebb and flow of sorts. It’s up to you to read and see if they are reunited permanently. But you’ll love how Anna’s writes so much emotion into all of the characters; you’ll feel what they feel. She does a phenomenal job of developing characters and she handles, and has Alex handle, the situation with grace and understanding.

Overall, I love the LOVE that spills forth through this novel. I love Alex’s independence, strength, devotion, will, endurance, understanding, plus she learns and adapts quickly! Living in the late 1600s is not easy when you are from the 2000s. I also enjoy her humor quite a bit, her bluntness, and her wit.

I’ve loved Anna’s series so far, and especially The Prodigal Son, and I look forward (not very patiently) for the next novel in The Graham Saga.  I highly recommend this historical series and I personally can’t wait to see where Anna will take the series.  Matthew and Alex are the perfect couple who fit together as two parts of an apple, which really shows us as readers that nothing can stand in the way of love (even 300 years)!

THE PRODIGAL SON, Synopsis~

The Prodigal SonPublication Date: July 1, 2013
Matador Publishing
Paperback; 392p
ISBN-10: 1780885741

Safely returned from an involuntary stay on a tobacco plantation in Virginia, Matthew Graham finds the Scottish Lowlands torn asunder by religious strife. The government of His Restored Majesty, Charles II, requires all his subjects to swear fealty to him and the Church of England, riding roughshod over any opposition.

In Ayrshire, the people close ranks around their evicted ministers, stubbornly clinging to their Presbyterian faith. But disobedience comes at a price – a very steep price – and as neighbours and friends are driven from hearth and home, Alex becomes increasingly more nervous as to what her Matthew is risking by his continued support of the clandestine ministers – foremost amongst them the charismatic Sandy Peden.

Privately, Alex considers Sandy an enervating fanatic and all this religious fervour is totally incomprehensible to her. So when Matthew repeatedly sets his faith and minister before his own safety and therefore per extension her safety and the safety of their children, he puts their marriage under severe strain.

The situation is further complicated by the presence of Ian, the son Matthew was cruelly duped into disowning several years ago. Now Matthew wants Ian back and Alex isn’t entirely sure this is a good thing, watching from a distance as her husband dances round his lost boy.

Things are brought to a head when Matthew yet again places all their lives in the balance to save his dear friend and preacher from the dragoons that chase him over the moor.

How much is Matthew willing to risk? How much will he ultimately lose?

Author Anna Belfrage, Biography~

Anna BelfrageI was raised abroad, on a pungent mix of Latin American culture, English history and Swedish traditions. As a result I’m multilingual and most of my reading is historical – both non-fiction and fiction.

I was always going to be a writer – or a historian, preferably both. Instead I ended up with a degree in Business and Finance, with very little time to spare for my most favourite pursuit. Still, one does as one must, and in between juggling a challenging career I raised my four children on a potent combination of invented stories, historical debates and masses of good food and homemade cakes. They seem to thrive … Nowadays I spend most of my spare time at my writing desk. The children are half grown, the house is at times eerily silent and I slip away into my imaginary world, with my imaginary characters. Every now and then the one and only man in my life pops his head in to ensure I’m still there. I like that – just as I like how he makes me laugh so often I’ll probably live to well over a hundred.

I was always going to be a writer. Now I am – I have achieved my dream.

www.annabelfrage.com

Link to Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/theprodigalsontour/
Twitter Hashtag: #ProdigalSonTour

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Guest Post: Lin Treadgold on Writing Romance “Goodbye Henrietta Street”

Goodbye Henrietta Street, by Lin Treadgold, launches on July 1, 2013 from Safkhet Publishing in Germany, but is available for pre-order in many countries now! You can see all the stops on Lin’s book tour by going here:  http://safkhetpublishing.wordpress.com/2013/04/22/lin-treadgold-goes-on-tour/.  A light romantic novel with a theme for nature lovers, this books sounds like a great read to add to your summer list.

Today I have a guest post from Lin about how she started to write her debut novel while living in the Netherlands as an ex-pat, while setting her book in England at the island she enjoys (and misses) most. Enjoy!

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On Writing ‘Goodbye Henrietta Street’
Guest Post from Author, Lin Treadgold

When I first came to The Netherlands in 2001, I had given up my driving school business to follow my husband’s new job. Everything was new and I have to admit to feeling rather lost. A new language, strange culture and despite living ‘next door and across the pond’ from the UK, the Dutch way of life is very different.

The Netherlands is a place you either love or hate; there are no ‘in betweens’. Most expatriates return to the UK within four years, when their contract ends. I am now in my twelfth year and missing the English scenery, but will return to the UK when my husband retires in 2016. The two hobbies I had always enjoyed were nature conservation and writing. Could this be my chance to follow my dreams and aspirations?

My heart lies in the south west of England. I am prone to taking time out and spending my days in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly where nature has to balance between tourism and weather at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. Having travelled the world and seen so many places, my thoughts are always with the islands and the people. So, I wrote a book, a romance novel based around island life on Scilly and submitted my manuscript to a few publishers and agents. I received the usual ‘thanks – but no thanks’ but most were very helpful and later when I joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association my writing career began to blossom. Within a couple of years and several new drafts later, Safkhet Publishing accepted my submission.

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Sven Jørgensen is a delicious thirty-something character in the story of Goodbye, Henrietta Street. He arrived on the Isles of Scilly in the early 1980s after the betrayal of his fiancée in Norway. Sven is kind, generous, and looking for love.  His job is to manage the local nature reserve on the Isles of Scilly working with the Environmental Trust. When Pippa Lambton arrives on the scene after suffering a tragedy in her life, Sven is keen to help her overcome her grief, he observes she is married, but why is she here alone? Perhaps the answer to her problems is to help her overcome her sorrow through learning about nature. Is he able to step over the boundaries and find out more about her or is she just another passing tourist? The story is not only set on the islands, but also part of Pippa’s life is in Whitby, Yorkshire. 

The present day Wildlife Trust, on the Isles of Scilly, is keen to support my novel when launched on 1st July 2013. Their role is to ‘conserve and restore the landscape and archaeological sites of Scilly, and provide information to the public with events and activities, leaflets and interpretation boards.’ Not a lot has changed over the years, my character Sven, in 1986, might have taken part in all these projects. Scilly has five islands. The main island of St Mary’s, St Agnes, Tresco, Bryher, and St Martin’s. Each one with its own character and charm.

The location and climate of the Isles of Scilly has created stunning landscapes. Under the seas, the clear water is home to an amazing array of marine life. The archaeology dates back four thousand years. The Trust manages and conserves the habitats for the benefit of wildlife and visitor access.

I never forget how lucky we are to live on this planet. I do my best to conserve the natural world in my own environment. One person really can make a difference; a whole planet can do so much more.  If Sven was a real person, I can certainly empathise with his feelings to take on the world and show the importance of conserving ‘his islands’. Pippa and Sven are two realistic characters I hope my readers will grow to love.    

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Goodbye Henrietta Street, Synopsis~

9781908208149 - Goodbye Henrietta Street covAn island paradise in Cornwall…The eternal nature holiday or just a passing wave on the beach?

Pippa Lambton’s life has fallen apart and husband Rob is ready to give up their marriage. Three years before, their son Daniel passed away; he was the glue that held them together. Now, Pippa’s left home for the beautiful Isles of Scilly, for a chance to rediscover herself. She meets handsome Norwegian nature warden, Sven Jorgensen, who teaches her about the island wildlife.

Pippa finds herself laughing again. She is aware of Rob’s dilemma over his childhood adoption and their turbulent relationship, but after an awkward kiss with Sven, she is torn about how to proceed. There is much to resolve, and leaving Rob could prove a disaster. Is her affair with Sven a holiday fling? How can she walk away from Rob after losing Daniel? Should she leave her home in Yorkshire for Sven and his island paradise? Find out more in Goodbye, Henrietta Street.

Author Lin Treadgold, Biography~

photoLin Treadgold was born in Yorkshire and attended private education. After travelling the world and visiting over thirty countries, she retired in 2001 to folllow her husband’s work and live in the Netherlands. From her travelling experiences, she took the opportunity to become a writer and nature conservationist. She has always wanted to write a novel; moving to Holland gave her the opportunity to fulfill a dream.

Lin is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Society of Authors, and organises workshop events for new writers.

Blog: http://www.itslinhere.wordpress.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/lin.treadgold
Twitter: @itslinhere

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Exclusive and Magical Interview with Talented & Creative Melika Lux on Much More than Her City of Lights Novel

Today, we have a special treat  because we have an exclusive interview with a very talented and sweet person, author Melika Lux. You can read my review of Melika’s book by clicking CITY OF LIGHTS.

Our interview is VERY in-depth and you will marvel at Melika’s original personality, including how a trained stage soprano has such an addiction to Great White Sharks!!

Melika LuxI am pleased to have you stop by for a visit today, Melika! You sound like a fabulously creative person. How are you?

Melika:  I am great, Erin, and thrilled to be here!  

Erin:  So happy!  Let’s move on and learn more about you and your writing!

Q:  When did you first begin to write? What gave you the inspiration?

A:  My love for writing grew out of an early love for reading.  I think what led me to this point, what essentially caused the inspiration to germinate, was that my mother started reading to me when I was in the womb, and my father told me wild, not-exactly-verifiable tall tales while I was still in the cradle.  I remember writing little stories and vignettes when I was a very young child and also staging my first play (an adaptation of King of Kings) when I was eight years old.  The budget was nonexistent, so my family was conscripted into the production, with my dad and mom playing six parts each.  I think that was when the writing bug first reared its head and bit me squarely on the heart. I felt a little like Cecil B. DeMille after that.  There is a VHS of the play floating around somewhere.  It is one of my first memories of writing.

One turning point I can recall was when I was about eleven or twelve.  I wrote a very short story along the lines of Jurassic Park.  It was about a brother and sister being chased to the edge of a cliff by a T-Rex.  The kids gave the Rex the old “one-two-jump!” fake out and the dinosaur tumbled over the cliff.  End of story—happily ever after for everyone except the Rex. But the point was that it was fun! I had actually finished something I’d set out to write! It was great, even though it was only six pages long! You have to start somewhere, right?

Q:   What inspires you currently in your overall writing?

A: What began to stand out more and more to me as the years wore on, and what I think was the real reason I truly grew to love writing so much, was the freedom it gave me to be able to get lost in a different world.  I love creating characters and their individual stories.  Everything that a person experiences in his or her life affects the person they become and how they react to situations, so being able to explore this with my characters is something I am always eager to do—uncovering what motivates them, what drives their worldview, why they would make a decision in a particular situation, what makes them tick, etc.  It is thrilling when characters develop so fully that they essentially start to write the stories themselves.

Currently, I’m most interested and inspired by trying out different storytelling mediums and POVs. My preferred method of telling a story is first person, but in my latest works, I’m using third person limited and also third person omniscient, which presents a whole heap of challenges! I’m also experimenting with short stories. You would think this would be easier, but I’m finding it an exciting challenge to tell a complete and gripping story in 40 pages or less rather than having a broad canvas (my last novel, Corcitura, was 700 pages long) on which to paint, essentially, the characters’ lives.

My last two novels were primarily historical fiction, City of Lights: The Trials and Triumphs of Ilyse Charpentier being an historical fiction/family saga set in Paris in 1894, and Corcitura  being an historical fiction/supernatural thriller, complete with hybrid vampires, which takes place over the years 1888-1895 in locales across Europe and in Gilded Age New York. I have felt very comfortable writing in this era due to the fact that I read a tremendous amount of fantastic Victorian literature during my high school and college years and fell in love with the period. However, I am now transitioning into dystopian, horror, comedy, and fantasy. Talk about freeing! I no longer have to worry about when a word came into the vernacular! Huzzah! Besides that added bonus, I love to genre-hop and not confine myself to one particular time period. It keeps thinks exciting.

Q:  Did your musical background play any part in your writing? Also, explain your musical background for our readers.

A: Definitely. I’ve been surrounded by music since I was born and have been singing, dancing, and playing the violin and piano since I was three years old. I was part of a children’s performing group for most of my childhood and was also a member of a local youth symphony orchestra from the ages of 8-18. In addition to singing throughout my community and state, I also performed the role of Meg Giry in a college production of The Phantom of the Opera. What a blast! 😀

In regards to my writing, I draw a lot of inspiration from certain pieces of music, especially movie soundtracks and instrumental numbers, which I love to have playing in the background as I write. Currently, for the dystopian/fantasy novel I’m writing, I keep epic music/soundtracks looping at a low volume in my ear buds. It really spurs my imagination and helps when trying to strike the right mood in battle and intense scenes, especially when there are “creatures” involved.

For City of Lights, Hanging by a Moment by Lifehouse was a huge inspiration and a song I kept looping in the background as I wrote the novel:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ESWjziG5B54

To me, this song epitomizes Ilyse and Ian’s love story, and remains a favorite of mine to this day.

Q:  Have you ever danced or been on the stage? If so, explain and if it helped in the writing of your book. What inspired you to write about a Parisian chanteuse in City of Lights?

A: Yes! As I mentioned above, I was part of a children’s performing group from the ages of 3-11. Additionally, I am a classically trained soprano. My most recent performance was in February 2012, at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine, FL. You can view the entire concert or excerpts of my solos by clicking on the following link: http://booksinmybelfry.com/music/

Music has always been inextricably linked to City of Lights. The entire novel was actually inspired by a song. One night in December 2002, I was puttering around in my room when I suddenly started singing verses of a song I had made up in that moment.

“Tonight’s the last time that I’ll see your face, my love. This dreadful moment has finally come to be. Tonight the passion ends for you and me, my love. I’m traveling to a place where life will be hell for me…good-bye.”

My mind exploded with questions. Who was this girl? Why was she being forced to give up her love? Why would her life be so awful?

From that song, City of Lights: The Trials and Triumphs of Ilyse Charpentier was born. The song became Tonight, the lyrics directly inspiring the novel and making their way into a pivotal scene toward the end of the book. Now, the only thing remaining was a setting. I’m a singer, a Francophile, and a devotee of fin de siècle culture and literature, so the idea of Paris, a cabaret, forbidden love, and the added tension arising from my heroine being estranged from her brother (her only living relative) was too exciting not to pursue.

My grand plan all along was (and still is) for City of Lights to be a musical.  In addition to Tonight, I wrote eight other songs that inspired further chapters and the overall story arc, the lyrics of those songs also being adapted into dialogue and scenes. Even though the musical is still on the distant horizon, the spirit of the songs thread through the entire novel. And in case you were wondering, the recordings are securely stored in an undisclosed location, waiting for the day when they will see the light once again.  😉

In May 2003, at the age of eighteen, I began writing Ilyse’s story. Eight months later, City of Lights was complete, and another four years later, it was published. Now, it has been given a new look and is being made available to an entirely new readership!

COL Cover

Q:  Myself, I love books and information on the late 1800s to early 1900s in Paris. The entire ballet scene and its behind the scenes drama can be an infuriating tale to tell. Apparently, women still endure the dealings of men pulling their strings so to speak. What interests you most about this time period? Any further thoughts on the performance industry?

A: I’ve been interested in the fin de siècle for as long as I can remember. I think I first became cognizant of how exciting this time period was when I was about 8 or 9 and had just learned to play Orpheus in the Underworld with my local youth symphony orchestra. The Galop Infernal in that operetta became, of course, the Can-Can theme. That piece stayed with me over the years and led me to do research when I got older. As I learned more about France and the culture surrounding the cabarets and dancehalls, I was hooked and became a confirmed Francophile. Since writing City of Lights, I have become increasingly interested in that whole milieu and have since read Camille (A brilliant and tragic novel about the lives of the demimondaine—highly recommended!) and a few novels by Colette. I’m always on the lookout for new reads from or about that fascinating time period when securing the right patron could either make you a star or confine you to the gilded cage, as was the case with Ilyse.  

As for the performance industry, the main facet that I culled and incorporated into City of Lights was favoritism. Ilyse, although she is talented and the best singer to have graced the Parisian stage in years, is Sergei’s favorite. He “plucked her from obscurity” (a fact he never lets her forget) and made her a star. Without him, she most probably would have starved or been forced into a life of squalor, but given how controlling and suffocating Sergei’s hold over her is, accepting his patronage is a choice Ilyse regrets almost immediately.

Q:  I read the biography on your website and laughed to myself because in high school I decided I was either going to school to be a writer or a marine biologist (same as you)!!! I decided I was not cut out enough for the math and just loved the ocean and animal cause, so I went to college for Journalism instead so I could write all about all the many things I love. I came away also with English and History degrees. That all said, besides being afraid of sharks, what really did pull you towards your creative pursuits as compared to science? How do you feel about your decision?

A: Haha, what a coincidence!!! I’ve been obsessed with sharks from a young age. I remember going to Sea World as a three-year-old and spouting off names of all the sharks in the little pond outside the Shark Encounter ride. I also literally started watching Shark Week at the age of two during its inaugural season 26 years ago (dating myself here ;). I still remember them flashing the poster of an enormous Great White shark with a Bermuda-shorted surfer inside its gaping mouth. Fun stuff! 😉   

Then came Jaws—the movie, not the book. Let’s not even go there in regards to the book. I’ve never been more disappointed with a reading experience in my life! But I digress… I became fascinated with Jaws around the age of five when I went to Pic ‘n Save and saw the movie poster. What is it with me and posters? Anyway, I now make it a point to watch the movie twice a year, once on my birthday and once on the last day of Shark Week.  You probably wouldn’t want to watch the movie with me because I know practically all the lines and usually say them in the same voices the characters use. My favorite, obviously, is Quint. “I’m talkin’ about sharkin’!” I sing his little sea shanties with him, too. 😉

What made me consider a career change, however, probably had something to do with Nigel Marvin and the premiere of Air Jaws around the year 2000. The fact that sharks could rocket out of the water was a paradigm shift for me and sort of tilted my world off its axis. Breaching sharks! It was a literary goldmine! Not to mention that it scared the wits out of me to think that I could be quietly minding my own business in a nice safe boat when Mr. Whitey would suddenly decide to go airborne and take me along for the ride. So that was when I knew I’d have more fun writing sharks into my stories instead of sharing the water with them. Strangely enough, though, a small insane part of me would still love to go cage diving with them in South Africa. We’ll see… 😉

As far as creative pursuits in comparison to science, I still love the minutiae of marine and ocean studies, but I now find it much more exciting to be able to do the research or incorporate what I know about sharks and their behavior into my writings. In the dystopian epic I’m working on, white sharks play a huge role as one of the main antagonists (technically, a race of antagonists, because there are a lot of them!) of the story. They have their own species name, stratified society, unusual sharky abilities, and rather wicked roles to play in the oppressive world I’m creating. They are the toothed enforcers of the realm and have a symbiotic relationship with the undead soldiers who train them. They also get to wear steel helms and are so fierce you honestly can’t help thinking they are just a little bit awesome, as all Great Whites generally are. 😉 If I say any more, I’ll be giving away the plot, but suffice it to say that sharks are fascinating in real life and in literature, so I’m having a tremendously fun time giving them their own personalities and storylines and writing about their undeniable appeal in the new book. By the way, I’m a bit of a shark snob, so pretty much the only species of shark I’ll ever write about are Great Whites—my favorites. I tend to view every other shark as a poser. 😉

As a side note, I recently took the Discovery Channel’s shark personality quiz and was matched with, you guessed it, Carcharodon carcharias. I always had a feeling… 😉  

Q:  What do you feel was an interesting or important point in history in regards to women and women’s history?

A: I’ve often wondered how I would have fared as a woman writer if I had been born a few centuries ago. When I think about this, the person who always comes to mind in regards to the restrictions on women and how they were looked down upon for being writers (as were women who chose to go on the stage; the horror! Remember the scandal with Nell Gwyn?!) is Charlotte Bronte and how she originally signed her name to Jane Eyre as Currer Bell. I know the novel had been rejected many times and she was listening to the advice of Wordsworth and others, who claimed that “novel-writing wasn’t the proper pastime of a lady,” but it must have been infuriating to not be able to lay claim to your own work, especially a work as brilliant as Jane Eyre. It’s infuriating to me nearly two centuries later! In my own writing, particularly in the first book of my fantasy duology, I have a character who looks down on his fiancée because she reads too many novels. Can you imagine that kind of attitude today?! So, as far as women’s history goes, I believe that when we started to take charge of our writing careers and not care what men and other women (who could be just as spiteful and controlling, if not more so) or society thought of our chosen profession, this was a giant leap forward and an important advancement, at least to my thinking, for the suffragette movement and ensuring the right to vote.

Q:  Do you feel women should “schedule” time for themselves as writers? Do women sacrifice too much instead of pursuing the muse inside them?  How do you make time for writing?

A: I think it depends on your situation in life. If you’re single, of course you should have more time to write, or at least I would hope so! If you have family and job obligations, however, it becomes much more difficult to carve out pockets of time, but still not impossible. If you’re driven enough and passionate about your writing, though, you can find time to write in just about any instance, even if it’s only a few seconds to scribble down ideas on the corner of a napkin. I’m speaking from experience here. 😉

I do think, however, that women should try to set aside some quiet time (easier said than done!) where they can be alone and just let inspiration flow onto the page. I have a friend who designates specific days during the week where she will not take any phone calls or make appointments and just dedicates those set times to writing, so you can make it work; you just have to be creative about it.

I try to carve out writing time at least every day. Sometimes I’ll have a span of maybe four or five hours in the evening, and sometimes weekends are totally devoted to writing. It depends on family obligations and other things that are going on, those so-called “life interruptions” that can be so detrimental to letting the muse have its day! 😉

Q:  Where are some grand places you’ve traveled, or would like to travel? And why?

A: To date, I’ve been to Switzerland, England, Wales, France, Belgium, Germany, the Czech Republic (visiting Prague was a great help in setting the scene for the latter part of Corcitura), Austria, and Hungary. In addition, I’ve been to several Caribbean islands and 25 of our 50 states, my favorite being Hawaii, which I had the opportunity to visit eleven years ago. I do not have an ounce of Hawaiian blood, but my first name is Hawaiian (it means Melissa), so I’ve always felt an affinity for the islands.

I would love to visit Ireland and also Russia one day—Ireland because my paternal grandmother’s family is from there and I’ve always been fascinated by the country (most recently by the entire Home Rule debate—thank you Downton Abbey! ;), and Russia because I’ve been a Russophile since I saw the animated movie Anastasia when I was twelve. The viewing of that film also engendered in me a fascination with the Romanovs that continues to this day.

Q:  Do you have some favorite authors? Some authors who have mentored your thoughts?

A: Yes, several! Some of my particular favorites would have to be P. G. Wodehouse, Jean Plaidy, Georgette Heyer, Daphne Du Maurier, Agatha Christie (I can never get enough of her mysteries! So entertaining!), Alexandre Dumas, J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Jane Austen, Louisa May Alcott, and Sarah Rayne for her riveting novels of psychological suspense! Wilkie Collins is my wild card in there, too, and I also love everything I’ve ever read by Shannon Hale. Her novels are pure magic. 

As far as mentoring, it would have to be Dumas for his amazing ability to write action scenes, Wodehouse for showing me the trick to making people laugh in fiction, Jane for the effortless way she writes the “dance of romance,” and Tollers and Jack (Tolkien and Lewis) for being the standard by which I measure all fantasy and motivating me to always be original.

Q: What other writings have you done? What’s next for you?

A: My latest novel, Corcitura, was published last year. Here is everything you need to know about the novel in a nutshell: Two vampires…one victim…endless trouble. Beginning in London in the year 1888, Corcitura tells the story of best friends Eric Bradburry and Stefan Ratliff, two eighteen-year-old Englishmen who are experiencing their first taste of freedom by setting out on a solo, grand tour of Europe. But what begins as the adventure of a lifetime, quickly explodes into a twisted untangling of centuries-old secrets as our protagonists are forced to flee from people who turn out to be much older—and somehow possess alarming otherworldly powers—than they originally appear. I am talking, of course, about vampires, and the two progenitors of the Corcitura are the stuff of nightmare: a half-wolf, half-vampire Vrykolakas and a five-hundred-year-old Upyr with an uncontrollable desire to create a hybrid creature to use as his own personal agent of destruction.

But vampires are just one facet of this story. Not only are the vampires horrifying, and their trickery something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, but they have fascinating backstories that are inextricably linked with one of the main protagonists and his family—especially his sisters, who have a crucial role to play in how this story works itself out. If you love seeing female vampire protagonists having a major role in the outcome of the story, then you will love the two in this book. Let’s hear it for the girls! They have enough history and chutzpah to fill volumes more—which is my intended plan. They also happen to be werewolves. And if that duality doesn’t intrigue you, I don’t know what will!

My current project is the book with the sharks that I was talking about before. It is a complete revamping and reworking of my original first novel that I began at the age of fourteen, but abandoned for school, life, and other projects. I have been working on it since July of 2012 and have been totally transforming it into a dystopian epic set in a brutal and lawless world. The entire theme and outcome of the story have changed drastically (the sharks were always there, although they are a much bigger part of the story now), but all the exciting bits (mythical beasts, hidden identities, battles, political intrigue, and some truly horrifying and treacherous villains) are still part of the fabric of the story. With the passage of years, however, everything within the story seems to have more meaning and gravitas to me now. It is definitely not the same book I would have written as a fourteen-year-old, so I am very happy I put the novel on hold.

Additionally, I am mapping out and reworking my fantasy duology (which I’ve also been writing since 2003—that was my banner year for creative ideas, it seems!) and am currently finishing up a collection of short comedy/fantasy/horror stories set in Eastern and Northern Europe in the 1800s. It has been an exciting challenge to essentially create mini-novels in 40 pages or less for this collection.   

Q:  How can readers connect with you?

A: I would love for readers to connect with me on any or all of the following sites:

My website:  http://www.booksinmybelfry.com/

Goodreads:  http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/950456.Melika_Dannese_Lux (Books are my passion. I love discussing great novels and non-fiction/history with other readers, so feel free to send me a friend invite!)

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/BooksInMyBelfry 

And if you want to contact me directly, here is my email: booksinmybelfry@hotmail.com

Erin:  Thank you so very much for sitting down and talking with me today. We wish you much continued success in all your creative pursuits!  It was so nice to get to learn more about you.

Melika:  This has been so much fun, Erin! Thanks for letting me share a bit of myself and my work with you and your readers! 😀

City of Lights, Synopsis~

COL CoverPublication Date: October 23, 2012
Books in My Belfry, LLC
Paperback; 166p
ISBN-10: 0615708269

What would you risk for the love of a stranger?

Ilyse Charpentier, a beautiful young chanteuse, is the diva of the 1894 Parisian cabaret scene by night and the unwilling obsession of her patron, Count Sergei Rakmanovich, at every other waking moment.

Though it has always been her secret desire, Ilyse’s life as “La Petite Coquette” of the Paris stage has turned out to be anything but the glamorous existence she had dreamt of as a girl. As a young woman, Ilyse has already suffered tragedy and become estranged from her beloved brother, Maurice, who blames her for allowing the Count to drive them apart.

Unhappy and alone, Ilyse forces herself to banish all thoughts of independence until the night Ian McCarthy waltzes into her life. Immediately taken with the bold, young, British expatriate, Ilyse knows it is time to choose: will she break free and follow her heart or will she remain a slave to her patron’s jealous wrath for the rest of her life?

Melika Lux, Biography~

Melika LuxI write historical fiction, suspense, supernatural thrillers, horror, fantasy, sci-fi, short stories—you name it, I write it! I love to read just about anything and everything and am particularly fond of historical fiction, the classics, mysteries, epic fantasy, history, and non-fiction. I am also a classically trained soprano/violinist/pianist and have been performing since the age of three. Additionally, I hold a BA in Management and an MBA in Marketing.

I am a HUGE fan of Psych, most British drama, comedy, and mystery shows, and am always up for a movie quote challenge. Jaws is my favorite movie of all time, with The Lord of the Rings being a very close second. Tell me something about yourself, and I’ll most probably be able to “Six Degrees of Separation” it back to Gandalf.

Lastly, I love to spend time with my family and friends, and I absolutely adore traveling. Not only is it great to experience other cultures, but travelling expands my horizons as a writer and sets my imagination reeling with a million different ideas for stories. If I hadn’t decided to become a writer (And there’s a Gandalf story for that, too.), I would have become a marine biologist, but after countless years spent watching Shark Week, I realized I’m very attached to my arms and legs and would rather write sharks into my stories than get up close and personal with those toothy wonders.

I am currently working on the sequel to my supernatural thriller/historical novel Corcitura, a collection of comedy/horror/fantasy stories set in Eastern Europe in the 1800s, and the first book of a planned fantasy duology. To learn more, please visit www.booksinmybelfry.com.

City of Lights Tour Banner FINAL

Link to Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/cityoflightsvirtualtour/
Twitter Hashtag: #CityOfLightsVirtualTour

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Have YOU had a WHAT IF Moment? Matthew Turner Explores this Question in his Novel, Beyond Parallel #whatifmoment

Beyond-Parallel-Cover-MediumI just finished the novel Beyond Parallel by Matthew Turner, which is awesome because it launched today! I thought it was a really romantic and thought-provoking novel. In fact, it made me think without even having to try very hard to do so. It was extremely entertaining.

A concept we all most likely churn in the backs of our minds when we are in the shower, laying in bed awake at night…sometimes in our happier times and most certainly in our times of downcast….is the question of WHAT IF? WHAT IF I would have made the decision to go here instead of there, to choose to have a relationship with this person rather than that person? To take that job instead of the other offered? To move here or there?

There are many scenarios we can concoct. In this book, Turner takes on the WHAT IF question of decision-making in relationships. Many people might question if they made a right decision in choosing their life partner.  Some wonder if the “grass is greener on the other side” right? In times of true hardships, or sadness, or maybe even just boredom, we almost always wonder if we made a wrong turn on the road of life. But is that the case? Or maybe fate always has other things in mind for us.

In the book, Clark and Bella are both living life in their twenties and trying to make decisions unknowing what the future ahead of them holds. Turner tells the story from the viewpoint of them being together and also in a parallel story of if they had never met. It was a page turning festival of fun to see what would happen next in each scenario.

Turner writes simple prose with a minor number of characters, which is good because as the reader keeps switching between scenarios from chapter to chapter, it’s easier to keep everyone straight.  It’s not a heavily detailed book in setting or character development, but it does stick true to its premise which is to offer us a look into the lives of four people and their ultimate path to meeting each other. He is clear in his characters emotions and conversations, which is the premise of the book.  We see how their decisions alter their lives and also see on the parallel side what the other option would have entailed for them. It’s very interesting to take this concept and see if the “other” choice they wonder about really would have turned out any better for them.

I really enjoyed spending a few hours over my Holiday break reading this book! It was a fun detour from a lot of the heavier historical or horror reading I tend to do. If you are looking for a book to help you relax, and enjoy light romance that is not just the hot and steamy variety, then this book would be an entertaining read for you.  If you ever pondered the WHAT IF question in your relationships, I highly recommend you read this book!  In the fine tradition of British storytelling, Turners pen makes the mark.

So here is my own WHAT IF story in limited form:  I wanted to go to a certain University and study Journalism. I ended up at the one my mom said I was going to go to since she was paying. Right after college, still hanging around, I met my husband who is now my EX-husband though we did have two wonderful children together. I have been with my current partner, Tim, for almost 8 years (we met through a work partnership–again could have been another WHAT IF moment in job choice). He went to the certain University I wanted to go to at the same time I would have went there AND he studied Journalism. We do have WHAT IF moments about this because we wish we would have started our relationship earlier and not both gone through with ex-spouses what we do. I hold on to the fact that if fate would have brought us about then, I would have my two oldest amazing children. And we always say, you never know even if we were in the same classes we may not have connected at that age, it may have only been destined for an exact time and place. But I still wonder WHAT IF?

What is your WHAT IF moment? Share if you’d like in the comment below. I’d love to hear.

Giveaway~Giveaway~Giveaway~Giveaway~Giveaway~Giveaway~Giveaway

I’d love to hear your story, but to enter to win for the book all you have to do is leave a comment and a way to contact  you (email prefered or email me at hookofabook(at)hotmail(dot)com) and you’ll be entered to win this new ebook!  Please enter by 11:59 p.m. EST (USA) Jan. 15, 2013. Anyone can enter. Winner will be given choice of digital copy! Happy New Year!

Beyond Parallel Synopsis~

One boy. One girl. One insignificant moment that changes their lives forever.

Bella and Clark are two young twenty-somethings, traveling and finding themselves in a chaotic and crazy world. One craves love; the other avoids it. Will they find one another, or will a single what-if moment send them down different paths?

In the same mould as Sliding Doors, Uncertainty, and Smoking/No-Smoking, Beyond Parallel flips between two parallel tales. One follows Bella and Clark as a couple, the other as if they never meet. Friendships, careers, dreams, fantasies…their lives are no different to yours or mine.

Follow the journey of two confused minds as they tackle growing up in the 21st century. High-flying careers, book tours, teaching teenagers, hipster warehouses, stories about talking whales, coffee shop hangouts, and even a despicable salesman are confronted.

Name: Beyond Parallel

Author: Matthew Turner

Word Count: 70,000

Pages: 180

Published: January 2013

Publisher: Turndog Publishing

ISBN Number: Coming Soon

Price: $2.99 (E-Book)

Contact: matt@turndogmillionaire.com l Skype: turndogmillionaire

Beyond-Parallel-MEME-4

WHAT IF MOMENT Explained~

The premise behind Beyond Parallel is spurred by my wandering mind. I’ve always fantasized about what if.

What if I had said yes instead of no…or chose one idea instead of the other…or left a little earlier, or later, or never?

Beyond Parallel clings to what if. I’m fascinated by this idea, and I feel many young people are, too. We spend our lives knowing what’s going on around us. We go to school because we have to. We have our parents to lean on. It doesn’t matter if we mess up because we’re young and we have time to fix it. But then we enter the real world. We have a responsibility, and choice, and a journey of our own to craft. Every day we’re faced with decisions, but how do we know what is and isn’t the right thing to do?

And that, in a nutshell, is a what if moment. A brief period of time where a small, insignificant decision is made, with huge repercussions potentially coming from it. These moments happen throughout our lifetime, but it’s in the world of young adult where it’s most prominent. At university…during our first job…as we travel or search or dream of something more.

Book Sample~Prequel to Beyond Parallel (get it free)

As part of the lead up to Beyond Parallel, the author, Matthew Turner, wrote a short prequel set the night before. Not only is it a story in itself, but it introduces the reader to Bella & Clark, as well as offering an insight into what to expect in Beyond Parallel.

As samples go, Tales From A Tiny Thai Table is the ideal showcase into the writing of Matthew Turner.

Download Tales From A Tiny Thai Table for FREE Here

Matthew Turner, Bio~

author-headshot-mediumMatthew Turner is a young writer from Yorkshire, England. He writes both Fiction & Non-Fiction, but his latest project is Beyond Parallel, a coming-of-age novel that focusses on two young twenty-somethings.

After years of playing with the idea of writing, he decided to take things seriously in 2010. He took his four-year old manuscript and ripped it apart; refining it, editing, and learning until the final copy was ready. That time is now!

As well as writing, Matthew acts as a consultant, speaker, and coach to fellow writers and entrepreneurs. With a passion for storytelling and creating brands with soul, he finds himself working with innovative, 21st-century minds.

You can find more information on Matthew Turner, and about Beyond Parallel too, at http://turndogmillionaire.com.

Beyond Parallel Reader Page <http://turndogmillionaire.com/beyond-parallel/>

Amazon Page <http://amzn.to/TDBcOj>

Goodreads Page <http://bit.ly/10on4tS>

What If Campaign Page <http://turndogmillionaire.com/what-if-campaign/> Beyond Parallel Launch Day/Social Sharing Page <http://turndogmillionaire.com/beyond-parallel-social-hub/>

Thanks for reading this blog!  I was given a complimentary ebook of Beyond Parallel in return for an honest review, which I’ve given. All opinions are my own.

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Hilarious Contemporary Christian Romance Delivers to My Female Funny Bone!

I loved the light-hearted, contemporary, fun new novel by Kristin Billerbeck, called The Scent of Rain. It was an amusing, yet often touching, look at the life of a young woman gone awry. I suppose that sounds like an issue many books are centered around; however, I felt this book very original and Billerbeck’s writing style humorous and emotive.  Alright, quite honestly, she was more than amusing and humorous….she was completely hysterical!!  If you like authors like Rachel Hauck or Jenny Jones, you’ll love Billerbeck.

The main character, Daphne Sweeten, had me falling in love with her quirky personality from the beginning. The mishaps happening to her were presented in a light-hearted way that made me laugh out loud quite a few times.  When Daphne is left at the altar after leaving her top-notch job in Paris as a perfumist (she creates perfume using her educated sense of smell), she has to start a new job in Dayton, Ohio (of course I loved this, I’m from Ohio) at a factory that makes household cleaning goods for middle-class americans. She is their “nose” and they hope she will help them increase profits. But the drama surrounding her ex-finance, her nose itself, her new job, and a growing attraction to her new boss could prove fatal if she doesn’t get a grip on life before it spirals out of control. 

I could picture and relate to Daphne on many levels, yet I admired her ability to “keep moving” even when things were going so terribly wrong for her. I also really liked Jesse, Daphne’s newest boss and friend. I love male characters who have compassion, decent decision-making, family ideals and basically, a heart. If all men could be like Jesse, the world would be a much better place!

I loved how creative the author was in giving her character a new type of career that isn’t often used in an newer setting (how often are things set in Dayton).  It made the book unique and original and her sense of humor really came through at just the right times. The book was very well-written and so much fun. I will certainly want to read more from Billerbeck.

This christian fiction is clean (that means no sex, cussing or violence).  Though it can teach that God is in control and sometimes works in mysterious ways not always easily understood, it also isn’t preaching to the reader in any way (unless they are open to it and can use it as an example for their lives).  It is a good modern, slightly romantic book anyone could enjoy.

The Scent of Rain Synopsis~

When deprived of her most prized sense, Daphne discovers a life she never expected, right under her nose.

Daphne Sweeten has left Paris – and a career she loves – in order to marry a man she loves even more. But when he stands her up on their wedding day, Daphne’s left reeling. Trained as a professional “nose” or perfume creator, Daphne soon realizes that her sense of smell has somehow disappeared too.

In the days following she moves to Dayton, Ohio, to take on a job creating fragrances for household products. Without her sense of smell, she must rely on her chemistry skills, and hope her handsome new boss, Jesse Lightner, doesn’t notice before she can figure out how to get it back.

Despite her desire to return to Paris, she can’t deny the way Jesse makes her feel. But when Daphne approaches former contacts, she learns her missing ex-fiancé has somehow snagged her old job.

As Daphne and Jesse work on a signature scent for their new line, she feels God at work in her life as never before. And the promise of what is possible is as fresh as the scent of rain.

Kristin Billerbeck, Author Bio~
(in her own extremely funny sense-of-humor)

I grew up with a strong sense of justice. I simply knew the way things should be. And since I’m not smart enough to be a district attorney, I am a novelist. My childhood was slightly confusing. I blame my parents for this. Oh heck, I’m going to blame them for everything. I think I would have turned out normal if it weren’t for them.
 

Okay, probably not. I am a fourth-generation Californian, and an American mutt, but identify most strongly with my Italian heritage. My mother’s family, of strong Norwegian/German descent, tried to teach me how to do things right. How to cook, clean, sew, budget accordingly – all the things a proper young girl should know to be a contributing member of society. I, however, failed miserably. For my 40th birthday, my grandmother gave me a cookie gun, so it’s clear she hasn’t given up on me yet! That is eternal optimism!

My dad’s Italian family taught me about the good life. The indulgent life. How to eat, shop and be merry. My Nana had very tiny feet and a penchant for shoes (she worked at the Emporium, no doubt to fund her shoe addiction). My afternoons at her house had no lessons, other than how to walk in her high heels, drape myself in her mink stole and drip myself with rhinestones. Tastefully, of course. I picked up on this lifestyle much quicker.

I graduated San Jose State University with a degree in Journalism & Mass Communications (emphasis in Advertising), gave my life to Jesus during college and found my true love in a Christian Singles’ Group, which yes, I skewer in “What a Girl Wants”. He is German. Practical. And a Contributing Member of Society. I am still Italian, fluffy and an aficionado of fine shoes & handbags.

Together, we have four children and now it’s our turn to confuse them. The circle of life. Dysfunctional family style.

You can find out more about all of Kristin Billerbeck’s novels (plenty I didn’t even know about I’ll be looking at) at www.kristinbillerbeck.com and she can be found on Facebook and Twitter for up-to-date information.

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I was given this book by Thomas Nelson publishers in return for an honest review. I am required to let you know.

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Romance Written in the Stars! Read Linn Halton’s The Quintessential Gemini!

The Quintessential Gemini, by Linn B. Halton, was a refreshing and original romance tale like none other I’ve read in a very long time! Linn has an amazing writing voice, so much so you’ll feel as if you are taking part in the book yourself.  I was totally invested in the story right from the start.  I fell in love with all her characters and felt their emotions right along with them at each stage in the novel.  It’s such a heartfelt tale where everything is crafted perfectly. It reminded me of a good British drama that always has a little bit of humor attached to it in just the right way (my favorite kind and I love anything British!).

The novel is of a single woman reinventing her life after losing her job, which was her whole world for many years. Now, stuck at home with her cat No. 4 (a cat with a great personality by the way and man of the house), she continues to read her horoscope brought to her by celebrity UK and US astrologer Mark Ainsley-Thomas (such a cool name, right?), which she has followed for over 20 years.  Becoming increasingly frantic as to what the stars say about her life considering her drastic change, when her horoscope begins to sound somewhat off kilter, she grows impatient. Finding out that Mark Ainsley-Thomas has hired someone to assist him, she feels embarrassed by her correspondence, but with the new reader James Kingman being patient and forgiving, something else begins to unfold she also didn’t see coming.

So to sum it up, this is the perfect fun read for a lazy summer day in a hammock, but if you have kids you better get a sitter because you won’t put this book down! I read it in one evening (far into the night without sleeping!), because I wanted to find out what the stars had in mind for Katherine, Mark, James, and hey, even No. 4.

I loved how Linn wrote this funny, quirky, amazing romance surrounded by the topic of horoscopes and astrology. Since that topic is always something that has interested me, I really liked seeing how it was used to play out Katherine’s life in this novel. I love how she interspersed the Gemini horoscopes into chapters within the novel and used them to set the stage for what was happening.

Linn and I talk further about horoscopes, astrology, Christianity AND astrology, writing, and more in our interview, which is up next right after the book synopsis. She even tells me what she thinks of me being a VIRGO. Keep reading, you’ll not want to miss this interview. Linn and I are a great working pair! Even the stars might say!

Book Synopsis~

The Quintessential Gemini a fun, romantic story about Katherine Dale and the three men in her life! Two astrologers and a cat named No. 4. Who would have thought that this rather reserved lady would end up caught in a mystic love triangle…. if only!

For twenty-one years the main focus of Katherine Dale’s life has been her work. Love interests and hobbies came and went; but always there for her, her only constant – other than her cat delightfully named No. 4 – was her nine to five habit. Until she’s replaced.

Her confidence is dented and she’s angry; at life and at herself. She’s failed to grasp the office politics that were going on around her and ignored hints of ‘changes to come’ in her horoscope forecasts. Forover twenty years she has followed Mark Ainsley-Thomas, a renowned Astrologer in the UK and USA. His daily forecasts direct the way she lives her life as a typically complex Gemini. Mark is now an ‘A’ list celebrity and his new Agent is determined to raise his profile in America, so he has to take on James Kingman to help him run his website.

Katherine is totally confused by James’ forecasts. After a couple of Email exchanges, James admits he’s writing the daily forecasts now instead of Mark and advises her ‘it’s probably best not to get too bogged down with the minute detail’. Katherine explodes and drafts a reply, letting out all of the hurt and anger she’s been bottling up. She feels better afterwards and instead sends James a much friendlier Email, acknowledging Mark has a unique style and wishing him luck. To her horror she receives a tirade back from James and realises she sent the wrong Email !

The story is told through the eyes of Katherine, Mark and James. Gossip results in all three being named in a national newspaper headline ‘Mystic Love Triangle Surprise’.

The problem is, what will Mark’s wife say when she hears this shattering news – especially as it isn’t true? What will Katherine’s family think now she’s a scarlet woman? And as for James, well – can it possibly get any worse?

Interview with Author Linn B. Halton~

WELCOME, Linn, to Oh, for the Hook of a Book! I am so very happy to have you join my readers and I for an exclusive interview. How’s your blog tour going?

It’s been amazing Erin and very diverse.  So many people are interested in the subject of astrology and because this fun chick lit romance also features a cat called No. 4, the features have bounced around between the two topics!  In real-life I read Jonathan Cainer’s horoscopes every day and find him to be amazingly and spookily accurate.  It’s often better to look at forecasts retrospectively, particularly if they are hard to interpret or understand when you first read them.  Many is the time I’ve said ‘no, I just can’t see that happening…’ and then a little way down the road it’s ‘how did he know that?’  I think most people are guilty of reading their horoscopes and trying to make what they want to happen fit with the message being given.  It doesn’t work that way I’m afraid!  

Q:  Let’s start with a fun question surrounding the topic of astrology. My birthday is August 27 and I’m a Virgo. What do you know about me? (*Smile*)

A: I tend only to know and understand the traits of star signs for people very close to me.  That’s the bit that fascinates me, comparing what the heavens say to the individual.  I do know a Virgo and I’d say she is quite a complex person.  Sometimes misunderstood and her head often rules her heart.  However, she is a very sensitive person, shy and reserved.  Generous at heart, loyal as a friend and smart!  It’s known to be a sign of intellect and love of detail too.  So many Virgos become doctors, engineers and scientists.  As well as writers, editors, surgeons … anything where detail is important in some way, shape or form.

It’s often recognised that Virgos can be perfectionists who then want to share what they have learned/developed with others.  Neat, disciplined, organized, punctual and tireless are also words I’ve seen connected to this star sign.  It’s a great birth date to have!

I believe that 2012 is going to be a great year for you, so I hope you have a wonderful time!

Q: I just couldn’t resist asking that question first. I love looking at a person and their sign and seeing what fits. I’m also really like to read horoscopes and see my outline or see what is happening in the world based on the stars, but many times I am chastised for it because I am also a Christian. What are your feelings on that topic? Do you think we can be Christians and still believe in the stars?

A: Absolutely, although I know many will have differing opinions, but each to their own. I write about psychic things too because I have had many personal (and uplifting) experiences.  However, I have believed in the existence of God since a child and what I have learnt on my life path about life after death has only served to strengthen my beliefs.  I no longer attend Church on a regular basis, as I feel my belief is always here with me, and prefer visiting Churches when they are empty. I like to sit quietly, say a big ‘thank you’ for all the good things in life and for the strength I’ve been given to get through the bad things.  I then spend a while contemplating and feeling close to loved ones that are no longer this side of life.  It’s comforting and reassuring.

I believe that everything in the heavens is a part of creation.  In the same way that the tides are influenced by the Moon’s gravitational field, we are influenced by the components of our individual star charts.  I see no conflict at all, it is all a part of the same thing. 

Q: What gave you the idea to use astrology within your new book, The Quintessential Gemini?

A:  The last thing I do at night is read my forecast for the following day on my Blackberry.  One night it wasn’t quite the forecast I was hoping for, it indicated a day of problems rather than solutions and I must admit I was disappointed. As always, I face problems only as and when they arise, I’m very pro-active so I know that anything that could be avoided, I will have covered.  Then it’s up to fate to be kind or maybe teach me one of those valuable life lessons, so I don’t make the same mistake again (I always do …..it’s inherent in my genes, a family trait – laugh!).

That night the thought popped into my head ‘what if someone really did live their life according to their daily horoscope?’ I thought about waking up knowing that the day wasn’t going to be smooth and my imagination took over.  As the story developed it took me in the direction of a romcom-style situation, with Katherine’s life falling apart professionally and love remaining elusive.  All she had left was a cat called No. 4.

Q:  The book was so fun to read. Was it as much fun for you to write as it was for me to read? Why or why not?

A:  That’s so kind of you to say, a writer can only hope that readers enjoy their stories and this is a fun, summer read.  I was aiming for a book to read whilst waiting at the airport, lying on the beach or on a wet afternoon curled up in a chair.  Something fun, reflecting the trials of real life ups and downs, but with a happy ending.

It was amazing fun developing the characters; Katherine really is crazy and James is unusual.  Mark Ainsley-Thomas, the astrologer, was my interpretation of a talented, wise and worldly astrologer. All three became my best friends and it was a little tearful when I penned the last word on the last page.

Q:  Why do you love writing romance books? Do you have a favorite type of romance novel?

A:  I will always write stories with either a psychic or astrological connection, simply because those are two of my lifelong interests.  I began early in life reading historical romances and some of the literary classics – Woman In White by Wilkie Collins and Jane Austen, etc.  Then in my teens I turned to the Angelique series by Sergeanne Golon.  My lifelong love of romance was born.

When I finally hit the point in my life where I could devote my time to writing, I was as surprised as anyone that my first book was a psychic romance!  I spend a lot of time developing the characters to make them real.  What is interesting in life is that two people witnessing something will often go away with two completely different interpretations.  That’s why I write from the perspectives of several of the characters in each of my novels, I feel it allows the reader to understand the emotions going on and why things often go wrong.  However, I also believe that life is really about the pursuit of happiness with someone you love and who loves you equally as passionately in return.  It isn’t easy, it’s often sad – but there will be highs and lows on the way, plus lots of laughter!

Q: What kinds of other books have you written?

A: My debut novel Touched By The Light is about a young woman who finds herself following the light and suddenly involved in the lives of two strangers whose relationship is falling apart.  The next book I wrote is the true story of why I now believe in life after death, it’s called Being A Sceptic Is Oh So Easy.  It is a diary really of incidents that have happened to me since early childhood and my thoughts on luck, coincidences, déjà vu and intuition.  I was a sceptic despite everything I’d witnessed, but one series of incidents meant I had to face up to the reality of what it all meant.  It really is a case of being a sceptic is easy, it’s coming out that’s hard…

Q: As an author, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve had?

A: I only began writing in 2009. I wrote for about sixteen months without a break, working long days and completed five manuscripts.  However I had no idea what to do with them.  I dabbled with self-publishing and then earlier this year signed a contract with Sapphire Star Publishing.  With The Quintessential Gemini having released on Jun 7, 2012 and The Restaurant coming out on Aug 2, 2012 it’s been quite intensive, but amazing fun!  So I’d say the whole of 2012 is my biggest challenge so far, but my stars say I’m up to it!

Q:  What are some of the most positive times you’ve had creating or marketing your books?

The most recen

A: The support from readers has been amazing. I’ve received Emails from people I don’t know from around the world and some have identified with psychic elements I’ve included in my books. They often go on to tell me about their own experiences and that really touches my heart, as it’s always really personal.

The most recent comment I received was for The Quintessential Gemini, someone who had read my debut novel and wasn’t expecting the second to be chick lit.  She said I’d caused her to get sunburnt, ignoring calls from her boyfriend to go inside ‘I’ll just read to the end of this chapter…..’ but ended up finishing off the entire book.  Comments like that truly are the greatest compliment any writer could ask for.  However, I hope it’s a one off as I’d hate to think of anyone getting sunburnt!

Q: Describe your road to publishing, please. Any advice for aspiring writers or authors?

It was sheer fluke that I submitted to Sapphire Star Publishing when I saw one of their Tweets calling for submissions.  So I would say to anyone, write the best manuscript you can (you will know in your heart if it’s right), believe in it and submit to publishers you feel are a good fit for you.  I cannot explain how supportive the Sapphire Star team are, or how much I’ve learnt since I’ve been with them.  It really is a partnership and I know my work will be better because of that fact.

Q: What can we expect from you in the future? What are you currently working on?

A:  The Restaurant @ The Mill is coming out on August 2, 2012 and is the story of a couple who run a restaurant, which is set in an old flour mill.  It is six stories interwoven as the reader is introduced to some of the customers and the ghost of Sarah, who wanders around in search of her husband.

My current work in progress is The Glass Wall and is a psychic romance with a twist.

Q: What is the BEST thing about living in the UK??

A:  We’ve moved around quite a bit and many of the homes we’ve had have been picture-book cottages, including one stone hunting lodge over 250 years old.  We currently live in a converted cow shed and hayloft, in a small village called Arlingham on the edge of the River Severn.

What it has given me is a wealth of psychic experiences linked to the history of some of the properties we’ve lived in, in addition to other experiences that were more personal.  However, we did have a quite freaky experience when we visited Boston and stayed in the White Mountains.  Fortunately it occurred on the last night of a three-week stay, as it was so unsettling I’m not sure what we would have done if it had happened on the first night.  It was really quite frightening at the time and fortunately I’ve had very few experiences that I would class as ‘bad’.

What we love about where we live now is the peace, quiet and the beautiful green Gloucestershire countryside.

Q: How can readers get in touch with you? Blog? Website? Social Networking? Please name as many as you wish.

A:  Readers can find me here:

Linn’s Website: http://linnbhalton.co.uk/
Twitter Account @LinnBHalton: http://bit.ly/ksXMDS
Loveahappyending.com
Author Page: http://loveahappyending.com/linn-b-halton/
Facebook Pages:
 Linn B Halton and Author Linn B Halton
Sapphire Star Publishing:
  http://sapphirestarpublishing.com/ssp/linnbhalton/

Q: Where can your books be purchased?

A: Buy online via Amazon, order at bookstores using the ISBN numbers, or contact me via my website (above) if you would like signed copies.

Amazon.co.uk (buy) – ebook: http://ow.ly/bpQ5R  paperback: http://ow.ly/boyTk

Amazon.com (buy) –  ebook: http://ow.ly/bpQtb paperback: http://ow.ly/boz06

Erin:  Thank you Linn, for stopping by my blog and I hope you’ll come back again soon!

Linn:  It’s been a thrill and a delight Erin, you’ve been amazing!  For a new author like myself, it is a great honour to be featured and I would like to take this opportunity to say a huge ‘thank you’.  This Gemini (yes, I’m one too….) would like to say to this Virgo, we share some common traits and if I hadn’t been born under the sign of the Twins, then my next choice would have been Virgo.  Both of our star signs indicated that we don’t always make our own lives easy.  We tend to work too hard, be perfectionists and are tireless at times, so even people simply watching us often feel exhausted, but it’s a fun way to live one’s life.

Erin comments: Thanks Linn! I am so glad we are somewhat kindred spirits. I can tell that both of us also have big hearts, smile alot, and love to live life

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Author Linn B. Halton, Bio~

Linn B Halton lives in theUK, in the small GloucestershirevillageofArlingham, on the banks of the River Severn with her adorable husband and cat with attitude – Mr Tiggs! She writes romantic fiction with a psychic or astrological theme and many of the paranormal events that feature in her books are real life experiences.

Linn is also a featured new Author on http://loveahappyending.com/ and Editor of the feature ‘Author & Associate Catch-Ups’ including ‘Reader/Author Team Reports’ on the website’s magazine-style blog.

Linn’s Website: http://linnbhalton.co.uk/
Twitter Account @LinnBHalton: http://bit.ly/ksXMDS
Facebook Pages: Linn B Halton and Author Linn B Halton

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Sara’s Smile Novella a Romantic Happy Read for a Day at the Lake

Sara’s Smile, a novella by the romance writer Sandra Bunino, was such a fun read. Having no idea at first that it was a novella, I began reading it one night when I couldn’t quite sleep thinking I’d just start on it. I couldn’t stop reading it (it was very good) and sure enough, I completed it before I knew it. I was looking for more to happen, like maybe a crisis or something.  But it was just a good happy ending, which was so refreshing. And here I am wishing and hoping to read more on this couple, because I wasn’t ready for it to end.

The characters were so engaging and well-drawn out even with it being such a short novella. It’s totally worth buying if you want a something romantic to read one day while your kids are building a sand castle at the lake. For anyone that had young love and dreams of one day being reunited, this read is about you. I am not wishing for that myself, but it still made my heart feel good to read about a little happiness and love when we are so surrounded by chaos in our lives. Sometimes our decisions lead us to bad choices and we misinterpret people or miscommunicate, but when it comes to love you’ve almost always got to lay your heart on the line for happiness to pay off, right?

I loved how the author features her main character as a restorer of older homes, as the author presents to us a “restored” love. Very light, romantic, soft and fun novella that anyone can enjoy.

Here is the Synopsis for Sara’s Smile:

As an architect who specializes in restorations, Sara Wiley is a genius at returning neglected structures to their former glory. But when it comes to her own life, she has no idea how to reclaim the ruins, which are all that remain of her first true love.

When the biggest opportunity of her career and a sexy contractor comes her way, she’s thrilled…until she learns that the client is the long-ago boy who captured her heart and continues to invade her dreams. Is it a bittersweet coincidence or might there be a chance, after all, for Sara to revisit the mistakes of her past and build the future she has wanted for so long?

Author Sandra Bunino, Bio

Sandra Bunino began a love of romance stories while penning a creative writing assignment in high school. The story ended with the heroine receiving a long stem red rose in her locker on Valentine’s Day. Since then, all of her stories feature the hero presenting the heroine with roses. Sandra is constantly searching for different ways to achieve a heart-pumping, stomach-flipping, breath-catching reaction from her readers.

These days, Sandra lives on a wooded mountaintop not far from New York City with her family. She always looks forward to hearing from her readers and she may be contacted at sbunino@gmail.com. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter (@sandrabunino).

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Mandy Baggot Offers Romance Fit for Summer Reading with Novel Taking Charge!

If you’re a fan of contemporary romance of the light variety, then Mandy Baggot’s books might make a great summer read for you while you’re relaxing with the kids by the pool. Her current book, Taking Charge, was just published by Sapphire Star Publishing, but she has at least four other books under her pen (instead of belt. Ha!).

Mandy Baggot’s writing is fun, simple, and clear. The characters in Taking Charge, especially the main romantic couple of Robyn and Cole, struggle with everyday crazy life issues, regrets, and emotions that make us laugh, shake our head, cry, and relate.

Robyn may seem a little over the top to some readers, but really…many of us know the type. High-strung, talk a lot, controlling, managerial, stubborn, and ironically, quite hilarious when you roll it into one young woman trying to understand her life and where she fits. She’s dealing with past hurts that harden you to people and make you not able to bond, especially to men. However, through all her toughness, she becomes quite endearing as well.

When she meets Cole for the first time at the airport, she is immediately drawn to him like she’s never been drawn to anyone. The immediate romance (woah, her timing on the first kiss made me say “what?”) that ignites as they end up in the same town, and in three days in the same house, may seem quick to some. However, for those that truly understand love at first sight, or wish to have it, it will seem amazing and you’ll be pulling for them to overcome their past emotional baggage.

The book is light romance and by that I mean it’s not over sexual or erotic in nature as many romances can be. It is sweet and endearing with focus on the romance of the heart, instead of in the pants. Myself, I prefer that. Maybe some won’t, but I like reading their story without feeling as if I’m spying on them in the bedroom. I don’t need the heat.

It was a quick read for me and one I’d recommend to anyone who likes contemporary romance full of emotional romance and drama. Also, since a lot of the book focuses on Robyn’s rebuilding her dad’s ice hockey team and roadhouse, it’s a plus if you like sports like me. Robyn is a bit of a tomboy. Cole is just the sweetest man on the face of the Earth and a wish for any woman.  I really felt the characters emotions through the writing. A few annoyed me, but most connected to me.

A few mishaps with British versus American English, but most of them they pre-edited into Robyn’s character as her own struggle with coming back to her hometown in Michigan from England.

If you are looking for a light, simple romance for the beach or poolside, then this one is for you! It deals with some heavy life issues, but Mandy Baggot does a great job of keeping the book’s tone airy and focuses on her characters overcoming anything that life throws their way. You’ll never feel heavy reading this book, you’ll just root for the characters (and the hockey team)!

Taking Charge Synopsis:

Is going back Robyn’s only way forward?

American-born Robyn Matthers is going home. With her dad in hospital, his roadhouse in ruins and the ice hockey team slipping down the league, she needs to take charge. But does she have the strength to do it?

Cole Ryan is a hockey player on a personal mission. He’s tall, dark, hot and Robyn’s noticed! But can she trust her feelings – or his? And what will Cole do when he finds out the truth about her?

Robyn returns to Michigan and things aren’t quite the same. Her best friend has grown up and is thinking about marriage and babies, the ice hockey team is no longer the life blood of the community and her father is engaged!

When Robyn’s twin cousins drag up past events that hold painful memories for her, she and Cole are forced together. But are either of them ready to start something new?

 With an ill father, a trailer trash almost step-mom and ex-boyfriend Brad desperate for another chance, does Robyn have time to contemplate a relationship? Does she really want one? And is it physically possible for two people to fall in love in just three days?

 Interview with Author Mandy Baggot

Hi Mandy, it’s so nice to meet you! Thank you for stopping by Oh, for the Hook of a Book! I hope we can chat a little bit about you and your books.

Thank you so much for having me on your website, Erin!

Erin:  You’ve written several novels in the romance genre. How would you describe your books to prospective readers? What type of romance do you write?

Mandy: Well, I always tell people I write strong contemporary romance and characters you’ll fall in love with and I think my readers will agree with that. I write romance set in the present day with characters usually in their twenties or thirties who live quite ordinary lives until something happens to shake that up a bit. It might be an urgent situation they’re thrown into or it might just be the two lead characters meeting that makes them question the way their life is heading.

Erin:  What is the best thing you like about writing romantic literature?

Mandy: I love creating that chemistry between the lead male and the lead female. I love writing their dialogue, showing the readers who they are by what they say and hopefully creating a bit of magic.

Erin:  Do you think you’ll always write romance or do you hope to try out other genres?

Mandy: I will always write romance, it is what I’m passionate about. I like to write about things that could happen to any one of us. We all know what it feels like to fall in love and be in love and I adore writing about that. Having said that, the latest project I am working on could probably be classed as a romantic thriller. There are guns, secrets and lies and kidnappings.

Erin:  How did you start writing?

Mandy: I’ve written since I was at school – all romance! Then in 2008 I took part in a scheme supported by the Arts Council of England to produce books and get new writers into the marketplace.  Excess All Areas was my first novel and I self-produced three other books after this, Breaking the Ice, Knowing Me Knowing You and Strings Attached.

Erin: What are some positive experiences you’ve had during your writing career?

Mandy: I try and treat every experience as a positive one – having great reviews from readers is one of the things I like best about being a writer. But two great things that have happened to me this year are signing my contract with Sapphire Star Publishing and being named one of the Rising Stars of UK Romantic Fiction for 2012.

Erin: What are some of the challenges you’ve faced while writing and marketing your books? What about with publishing?

Mandy: Writing, editing and marketing all take time and you have to make time to ensure the success of your books. I’ve had lots of rejections from agents and publishers but I’m passionate about what I do and I know it isn’t just luck that makes you succeed, it’s hard work, determination and persistence!

Erin: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Mandy: Just keep writing! I have lots of aspiring writers talking to me in bookstores and emailing me telling me how much they admire what I’ve done and asking my advice. Just keep your love of writing going, realize that the road to publication can be a long and hard one, but never give up.

Erin:  I know you are from theUK. Have you always lived in theUK? What do you like best about it?

Mandy: Yes, I’ve always lived in theUK. I’m lucky to live in the countryside too and that’s where I’m most at home. I like the quiet and the space. It’s nice to be able to come home to a haven but know you’re not too far away from the town. I mean I would miss those karaoke bars!

Erin: In your newest book, Taking Charge, your main character comes back the U.S. after living abroad. How difficult was it to infuse American culture and language into your novel?

Mandy: Well of course I thought this was easy and I had it all down – until I met the lovely people at Sapphire Star Publishing! My dad lives in theUS, in fact he lives in Portage, MI, where the novel is set. When I went out to visit him I stayed a month and really embraced everything about it. There are many language and cultural differences and I have to say I had so much fun learning US English and teaching UK English to Sapphire Star.

Erin:  How do you formulate your characters for your novels? What gives you inspiration?

Mandy: My novels always start with the lead male and lead female and they just evolve as the story takes shape. I get to know them while I am writing and often they write traits into their characters that I hadn’t even considered. Of course the lead male always has to be hot – that’s a given!

Erin: What’s next on the writing horizon for you, Mandy?

Mandy: Well I am about 35,000 words into my latest manuscript and it’s called ‘Security’. It’s about a pop star called Autumn Raine and her bodyguard and ex-Special Forces soldier Nathan Regan. Autumn is due to perform at the International Music Awards but she’s received kidnap threats. Who’s behind it? Who do you trust?

Erin: How can fans get in touch with you? Please list as many outlets as you’d like.

Mandy: You can follow me on Twitter @mandybaggot or friend me on Facebook or join as a member on my website www.mandybaggot.webs.com. I also have a profile on Goodreads.

Erin: Where can interested readers find your books?

Mandy: All my books are available on Amazon!

Thank you, Mandy, for stopping by my blog to chat today! I hope you have amazing success in the future.

Thank you for having me, Erin – they were great questions!

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Mandy Baggot, Author Bio

Mandy Baggot is a self-confessed Twitter addict who likes to sing on YouTube. She regularly guests on book blogs and is a featured author on the innovative website loveahappyending.com. Taking Charge is her fifth novel. Mandy lives near Salisbury,Wiltshire,UK, with her husband and two daughters.

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