Monday, October 16, 2017

Monday Book Review: At Last in Laguna, by Claire Marti





At Last in Laguna, (Finding Forever in Laguna, Book 2) by Claire Marti
Published October 2017 by The Wild Rose Press

About the Book:

Alyssa Morgan has secretly been in love with her older brother Nick’s best friend, Brandt Dempsey, since she was an awkward, lonely teenager. When she catches the bouquet at Nick’s wedding, she throws caution to the wind and propositions Brandt to a two-week fling. He’s tried to ignore how Alyssa has blossomed into a strong, talented, gorgeous woman because as his best friend’s baby sister, she’s off limits.

After they share a mind-blowing kiss, Brandt struggles to fight their undeniable chemistry. His tragic childhood scarred him, but he pushes it deep inside, only allowing the world to see a wealthy, carefree entrepreneur. Forced to work together on Brandt’s latest charitable venture, Brandt and Alyssa’s passion cannot be denied. Alyssa knows he’s the one. Can she convince him they belong together?
My Take:

Claire Marti crafts a heartfelt story filled with both longing and self-doubt. The self-imposed barriers keeping these characters from their happily-ever-after are both real and really frustrating, as each struggles to work through their inner demons and find a place of acceptance.

At Last in Laguna is the second book in this sexy contemporary romance series, but can easily stand alone. Both the hero and heroine had supporting roles in the first book, but their story does not depend on the first for context.

Alyssa Morgan is the younger sister of the hero in book one, Second Chance in Laguna.  And yes, she's totally in love with her brother's best friend who thinks of her as the off-limits little sister.

Brandt Dempsey might have considered Alyssa "little sister" material, but ever since a certain Kiss under the Mistletoe, she's been co-starring in all of his hottest fantasies. Except he still thinks of her as a golden girl on a pedestal... so when she propositions him in the first chapter, he's completely caught off-guard.

The third-person narrative progresses in a he said/she said manner. His hardscrabble childhood makes him feel totally unworthy of the attentions of someone like Alyssa, while her struggles with self-worth and eating disorders make her feel unworthy of love, period. The continued battling with inner demons and doubts are enough to make a reader scream "enough" and slap them both silly... Or maybe that's just me.

The sex scenes are panty-melting hot, and the emotions tug hard at your heart strings, so just hold on through all the angst-y self-doubt. Ms. Marti pulls it all together by the end of the story and gives the characters the HEA they both deserve. I'm totally looking forward to the next installment of this series.

Grab your copy on Amazon.


Friday, October 13, 2017

BREAKING THE RULES is available for PREORDER!


The Wait is Over!
If you missed Jake and Abbie's story in the Hunks to the Rescue anthology,
You'll be able to grab the stand-alone version on November 1st!

Or click to Pre-Order for Kindle NOW on AMAZON

Many thanks to Abigail Owen at Authors on a Dime her help with formatting - and they did a totally gorgeous job, adding little touches and flourishes. TOTALLY Recommend.

Here's a sneak peak, just to get you started. And (fair warning) I woke up today in the middle of plotting Abbie's best friend Caroline's story, the next in this trilogy. I'm hoping when all three are finished, I'll put them out as a paperback as well. But first things first.

Excerpt from BREAKING THE RULES:

Recognition jolted through Abbie like an electrical surge. Whatever she was about to say to the captain evaporated from her mind while she stared into the most gorgeous blue eyes she’d ever seen.
What was the hot blond god from the bar doing in her boss’s office? 

Her first thought was that he’d tracked her down, but she quickly dismissed the idea. They hadn’t even spoken last night, something she’d regretted all the way home. She cleared her throat and was about to introduce herself when Captain Nickerson interrupted.

“Abbie, I didn’t realize you’d already met my, uh, nephew. He’s on Cape looking for a job. We were discussing the possibilities with John.”

She furrowed her brow and dragged her eyes away from the depths of the blue pools. “I didn’t know you had any nephews besides my brother, Uncle Charlie.”

Nickerson chuckled and twisted his silver watch band. “Jake’s dad is an old family friend, just like your dad and me, Abigail. When the boy needed to get out of Boston for the summer, his dad requested my help.”

Her eyes slid back over to Jake, appraising him. He looked like he was about her age, give or take a few years. Strong jawline, sculpted lips, wide shoulders, capable looking hands… she drank him in from top to bottom, every nerve ending in her body kicking into overdrive. Well-dressed and clean shaven, he certainly didn’t look like some punk kid whose father needed to call in favors to find him a job. And those eyes… she dared another glance at his face and found him looking straight at her, amusement twinkling within that sea of blue. She could happily drown in eyes like those. She wondered whether he was seeing anyone. Not that she’d had much time to date recently but for the right guy she could make time. Maybe. Her gaze slid along angular cheekbones to the scruff on his jawline… yeah, she should definitely carve out some time to get to know this guy.

She wondered what those sculpted lips would taste like, how they would feel on the sensitive skin along her neck… her cheeks blazed anew at the sudden and intimate direction of her thoughts. Nerves jangling, heart suddenly beating faster, she almost missed the rest of what Uncle Charlie was saying.

“…and at least now he’s learned his lesson about making time with the owner’s daughter. 
Unfortunately, come to find out the man has unsavory connections so we all felt it would be safer for Jake to make himself scarce for a few months. Thanks for offering him a position in the kitchen, John.”

Her eyes widened as she processed the meaning behind the words. “Wait a sec, Uncle Charlie. Let me get this straight. You want to hide a playboy who can’t keep it in his pants at work… hide him from the mob… and put him on my kitchen staff?”

Captain Nickerson chuckled. “Abigail, you’re being overly dramatic. No one calls them ‘the mob’ anymore, like something out of a Godfather movie. Besides, the boy is experienced in the restaurant business. Right, Jake?”

The “boy” in question cleared his throat, looking suddenly sheepish despite his rugged good looks. “I don’t think we need to share quite so many details, Uncle Charlie. And yeah, I know my way around a kitchen.” He kept his gaze trained on her, as if willing her to see it was all some sort of misunderstanding.

A strangled noise of frustration escaped from Abbie, realizing the blond was a player. Of course he was. He probably had lots of practice smiling at women in bars and seducing them with the kind of soul-searing kisses she’d just been daydreaming about. Yeah, totally not the kind of distraction she needed this summer on top of everything else.

Or click to Pre-Order the Kindle version NOW on AMAZON

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Writing Wednesday: Finding the Time

I know some of you who read my Wednesday Writing rants are full-time Writers. You've either already retired from a previous career or have been successful enough at this publishing thing to be able to write full time.

The rest of us still have kids at home. Or full-time jobs. Or both.

Strategies. We all need strategies for maximizing our writing time. Or FINDING writing time amidst juggling all the other responsibilities that come with kids, jobs, husbands, homes.... lives.

I find that life gets in the way a lot. When I first decided to write, I had small children at home and wrote while they were at school. I'd set aside time for that amidst laundry and vacuuming and the rest of the chores mommies tend to do in those golden seven hours between when the bus picks up and the bus brings them back home again.

As the kids got older, volunteering and bake sales and soccer games and after school activities took up so much time all the way through high school, and of course the three kids went in three separate directions - but in retrospect, I wouldn't have wanted it any other way. Kids are only young once. You only get to be such a big part of their lives for such a short amount of time.

So now I have 2 in college, one still in high school, and a full-time job to help pay the ridiculous cost of tuition. And I'm still writing. Struggling to juggle the writing, the work, and the volunteering.

And slipping in my deadlines.

I have to admit, sometimes after a frustrating day, that glass of wine paired with reading someone else's book sounds a whole lot more relaxing than diving into character struggles with my own noncompliant heroines.

So tell me. What's your best strategy for carving out writing time? I'm sure i'm not the only one struggling with a deadline. And we could all use a new strategy to switch it up now and again.

There are no magic bullets, we all know that. But sometimes a little fresh inspiration goes a long way.

Happy Writing to All!


Monday, October 9, 2017

Monday Book Review: Somewhere My Lady, by Beth Trissel

Somewhere My Lady (Ladies in Time, Book 1)By Beth Trissel
Published 2017 by The Wild Rose Press
 

About the Book:
Is he real or is he a ghost?
Lorna Randolph is hired for the summer at Harrison Hall in Virginia, where Revolutionary-War reenactors provide guided tours of the elegant old home. She doesn't expect to receive a note and a kiss from a handsome young man who then vanishes into mist.

Harrison Hall itself has plans for Lorna - and for Hart Harrison, her momentary suitor and its 18th century heir. Past and present are bound by pledges of love, and modern science melds with old skills and history as Harrison Hall takes Lorna and Hart through time in a race to solve a mystery and save Hart's life before the Midsummer Ball.

My Take:
 
First of all, for any authors (like me) who may be cynical about book blasts, blog tours, and the like, I'll tell you that I first heard of this book from a blog tour post while I was sitting in an airport with a flight delay and time to kill, and clicked the link to buy it that minute. Always include a link with any post or tour you're on. Amazon makes it so quick, safe and easy to one-click purchase that you've bought it before the impulse has a chance to fade.


Now for my review of the book.

I'm a sucker for time travel romances, and this one drew me in from the very start. A sweet romance with main characters that are 18-20 years old, this doesn't qualify as a New Adult novel, nor does it exactly fit any YA descriptions, but it should satisfy readers of all ages who appreciate romance with a touch of intrigue and paranormal suspense of disbelief.

Beth Trissel does an excellent job of laying out both time periods and keeping them separate in the reader's mind, no matter how chaotic the situation becomes. Her heroine is a feisty 21st century high school graduate who would never be content on the sidelines of any conflict, and the hero is a swoon worthy Revolutionary war hero. Together their chemistry is combustible, which made me a little sad that this was a sweet romance instead of something steamier.

Lorna Randolph recently graduated high school and arrives at Harrison Hall for a summer internship. Upon the moment of entering, she journeys back in time to meet Hart Harrison among a swirling ballroom of ghostly figures, and he entreats her to wait for him before vanishing. Hours later, he returns in a more corporeal form, and the story of their soul deep connection begins to unfold.

The author gives us a slightly unique take on time travel, with the characters slipping back and forth between time periods without rhyme or reason, kind of like in The Time Traveler's Wife, where the main character had trouble grounding himself in any one time, but lived his life in a disjointed manner. This isn't quite as chaotic, and the couple's time slippage only lasts for a matter of weeks rather than years.

A fast paced storyline that kept the pages flipping briskly, I totally loved every Revolutionary detail the author woven to the story, and the way in which the modern day characters reacted to the supposed "re-enactors" hired to take part in the midsummer night performance. If you're looking for a sweet ghostly tale filled with action and adventure, this book will not disappoint! 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Grab your copy on Amazon

Friday, October 6, 2017

Friday Feature: Working on the BLURB for Deception


I'm working on the back-of-book blurb, as well as the Library of Congress descriptions for my upcoming installment to the Son of a Mermaid series. Any comments and critiques are more than welcome. Leave in the comments or email me directly - and thanks in advance for your input!!!

About the Book: 
For Shea MacNamara, life under the sea has never been more complicated.
Months after being captured, Prince Demyan remains on trial for his crimes while continued unrest stirs among the clans. Tensions mount between Shea and his friends as they unravel lies that bring identities – and loyalties – into question.
The deceptions of both the past and present have implications for everyone’s future. And at the root of everything… the magick that binds the undersea world together.


Library of Congress description:

Shea MacNamara’s first semester at the University of Atlantis kicks off with Prince Demyan’s trial. When an imprisoned Zan confesses that Shea’s father wasn’t killed by the tornado that destroyed the farm, the trio leave Atlantis to search for him. In the process, they uncover a conspiracy between Demyan and the magistrates of Atlantis to dethrone all the royals and take control of the undersea world.



 


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Writing Wednesday: Chatting with author Laura Critchfield



Today I'm chatting with debut author Laura Critchfield, who writes as L. A. McGinnis. She has a new book out, Shadows of Ghosts (on my list to read next because I LOVE the title!) and stopped by to share a little about herself and her passion for books.


Welcome, Laura! Tell us a little about yourself and your passion for books.

I grew up with a library that consisted mostly of my parents’ old college books, so Faulkner, O’Neill, Proust, Dostoyevsky, all before I was 13.  Plus, I had this weird fascination with Norse mythology that started at about 6 or 7.  Once I started babysitting, I discovered this wonderful, forbidden genre called…romance.  So during my teens-mostly Kathleen Woodiwiss- I think Shanna was my very first, after that it was pretty much whatever I could sneak into the house.  During college, it was Old English and Shakespeare, then I didn’t read much for the next fifteen years, until I picked up a copy of Diana Gabaldon’s “Outlander”.  I’d been writing YA for about three years at that point, and switched gears to romance, then changed over a year later from contemporary to paranormal.  These days I can usually be found reading J.R. Ward’s latest, and Karen M. Moning’s Fever series.

What's your favorite part of being an author?


Having the ability to become someone else, or in this book, several someones.  I love exploring all of these different parts of my own psyche from the relative safety of my keyboard, especially the mind of the bad guy.  Why is he doing what he’s doing, who made him that way?  When he gets his revenge, will that really give him the resolution that he’s seeking?  I think in many ways, it’s what we’re all looking for, although we probably like to imagine ourselves as the good guy.

What's your approach to writing? Do you plot or go with the flow?

I am a total pantser.  I’ve found that sitting down with a loose idea of who the characters are, a vague backstory and maybe a setting is all I need to flesh out the character’s relationships.  Once I get the basic storyline down in the first draft, I go back in the next few edits and flesh out subplots and secondary storylines.  It gives the writing a fresher feel than if I had tried to outline everything from the get-go. Not that I’d actually know how to do that.
 
If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?

I would love to go back in time. Like way, way back. I think fifteen hundreds would be fascinating, but only for a little while because I’m not actually sure I‘d survive very long. But it would be so interesting to see how day to day life was eked out by these people who lived, optimistically, 30 years on average, and in that period of time grew up, married and raised a family.

Tell us about your new release!

Shadows of Ghosts came about when I started playing with the dual concepts of the loss of childhood innocence and how strength is forged from pain.  My main character, Logan, has this great opportunity fall into her lap, and a chance to escape from her small town existence where she has been living as the local pariah.

Settling into Charleston, SC, it doesn’t take long for her to discover that she’s part of a bigger conspiracy, and once she meets Ian Grant, she realizes that finally, she’s found the partner she’s been looking for.  Just when everything she’d ever dreamed of seemed close enough to touch, it comes as no real surprise to her to watch it all slip away.

But sometimes, love springs from the darkness, friendships are forged from the dust, and family can be found in the most unlikely of places.  The fairytale might not always be made of moonbeams and stars, but sometimes it’s enough to know it’s yours.   

Wow, that sounds so very cool - I'm looking forward to reading this book! Okay, you’re casting the movie version of your novel – who would you choose for the main characters? We’re talking dream cast.

Logan Dean -- Blake Lively
Ian Grant -- David Gandy
Robert Fulmer -- Matt Bomer
Jonathon Fox -- Jason Isaacs
Lazarus -- Mads Mikkelsen
Kimberly Gibson – Jennifer Lawrence
Bartholemew Duncan -- Rufus Sewell
Jessica Medford – Emma Stone


What an interesting cast! Now I'm really looking forward to reading your story. Where can readers find your book and where can they find you online?





About the Book:

Driving to South Carolina to claim an inheritance from a total stranger didn’t figure into Logan Dean’s long term plans. But she'd be a fool to pass up an opportunity, and her mother didn’t raise any fools. Now she's a pawn in a vampire war and fighting to stay alive. Thankfully, she’s discovered an ally in mysterious Ian Grant. As her feelings for Ian grow, Logan comes to realize if she wants the love she deserves, she's going to have to fight the demons of her past.

For over a hundred years, cynical Ian Grant swore to never love another woman. But from the first time he saw Logan, he knew an ancient part of his history had come back to haunt him, and the one thing he doesn't want becomes the one thing he has to have.

Two irreconcilable lives, five hundred years of history, and all they have to do to live happily ever after is defeat the evil that threatens to tear them apart.

About the Author:
Laura is a graduate of Kent State University, and has been writing since 2007. She belongs to both the RWA and the NEORWA and has attended the Sanibel Island Writers Conference, as well as the NEORWA Writer’s Conference, and participates in their yearly writing retreat.



Stalk Find Laura here:





Thanks for being my guest today, Laura! Best of luck with this new release, and your new career as a published author!