Monday, December 21, 2015

Candy Heart Romances! Coming soon!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Monday Book Review: Dearest Clementine, by Lex Martin #NewAdult

About the Book:
Twenty-year-old Clementine Avery doesn't mind being called bitchy and closed off. It's safe, and after being burned by her high school sweetheart and stalked by a professor her freshman year of college, safe sounds pretty damn good.

Her number one rule for survival? No dating. That is until she accidentally signs up for a romance writing class and needs material for her latest assignment. Sexy RA Gavin Murphy is more than happy to play the part of book boyfriend to help Clem find some inspiration, even if that means making the name of research, of course.

As Gavin and Clem grow closer, they get entangled in the mystery surrounding a missing Boston University student, and Clem unwittingly becomes a possible target. Gavin tries to show Clem she can handle falling in love again, but she knows she has to be careful because her heart’s at stake…and maybe even her life.

DEAREST CLEMENTINE is a stand-alone novel with two companion novels. This New Adult romance is recommended for readers 18+ due to mature content.
My Take:

From the title, I somehow thought there would be cowboys. There aren't. The author never even references the song I thought she might. You know, "My Darling Clementine." Never went there.

I enjoyed this well-written NA/college romance, liked the characters, hated the bad guys, all the things you're supposed to feel when reading New Adult romance. It kept me entertained and reading through to the HEA, which thankfully was there and satisfying, as I've read a bunch of NA books lately that end with cliffhangers. I hate cliffhangers. I don't mind if there are unresolved issues that tempt me to read the next book in the series, but for goodness sake, at least finish the current book with some sort of satisfaction for the reader. Seriously. So despite being the first of a series, this book does make you smile at the end and not cringe with a "to be continued."

And yet.

As an author, I took issue with several of the plot points. Okay, I know romance is a cliche-ridden field. We all use them. Readers almost expect them. But I felt like this book used a few too many tropes as red herrings. And the whole she wrote and published a best selling book so easily while still in college and has an agent and uber rich parents but is still struggling to pay her tuition bills? She spends all her free time working in the college bookstore but still has plenty of time when she needs it to further the plot? She finds out her stalker is back on campus but still feels it's okay to run all alone along the Charles River at night? Mmmm, we're into the realm of unbelievable. And that's only the tip of the iceberg.
I'm willing to suspend disbelief - most readers are happy to do that, it's why we read, to escape - but sometimes you want your heroine to make sense - especially a first person narrative which makes you feel like you know this person and you expect them to make good choices - or at least choices that make sense for their character. My own characters frequently make bad choices - bad choices make for fun reading. But then there should be consequences and learning from mistakes.

I'll say again, I enjoyed the book. Fun, fast read that kept my attention even as I was berating bad choices.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Friday Feature: Chatting with author Tena Stetler

Today I'm chatting with my friend Tena Stetler, a fellow author with The Wild Rose Press. 

Hi, Tena! Tell us a little about yourself, and what kind of books you like to read and write.

I have an over-active imagination and love magic so writing paranormal romances comes naturally.   I penned (okay, penciled) my first vampire romance at the age of twelve, to the chagrin of my mother and the delight of my friends. Colorado is home; shared with my husband of many moons, a brilliant Chow Chow, a spoiled parrot and a forty-year-old box turtle.  Any winter evening, you can find me curled up in front of a crackling fire with a good book, a mug of hot chocolate and a big bowl of popcorn, if I’m not working on a new novel.
I like to read cozy mysteries, paranormal romance , science fiction and fantasy.  I try not to live in reality too often.  My writing passions are paranormal romance, romantic suspense and cozy mysteries with magic spark.
What's your favorite part of being an author? 

Making stuff up. Telling a story. LOL  Seriously…. For me crafting a romance is all about RESPECT, TRUST and LOVE. Only my characters are of the paranormal persuasion. I want to create a memorable love story with characters that will grab hold of your heart, hang on long after you’ve read the last word and closed the book with a sigh.

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

Definitely go with the flow.  I couldn’t plot my way out of a paper bag.  The couple times I’ve tried, the characters took off in a different directions before I got to the second plot point.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?

The ability to create calm around and in others.  Seems this world is so fraught with tension and stress, it would be nice to create a calm for people and yourself, even if it’s only for a little while. 

Tell us about your new/latest release! 

A Demon’s Witch has been out for a while, but it would make a great Christmas present for people who love an exciting spicy romance with a happy ending of course.  

About the Book:

Keeping a lid on all the paranormal beings inhabiting Washington D.C., is a daunting job. Bruce, a six hundred year old demon and the Territory Overlord of the Western Hemisphere, keeps his finger on the pulse of DC’s power players through the activities at his highly successful Wycked Hair Salon. His movie star good looks and body builder physique keeps his dance card full and the rumor mills running.  Within these walls, his anonymity is safe, mostly.

Bruce’s world spins out of control when Angelique, a pint size, gorgeous witch, with an attitude breezes through the doors of his salon. She is the younger sister of Tristian, Bruce’s long time trusted enforcer, whose professional skills are second to none. Tristian is furious at the relationship between Bruce and Angelique, a dangerous situation. The undeniable attraction between demon and witch promises to tear apart both their professional and personal worlds.

Excerpt for A Demon’s Witch:

Suddenly, he felt the magic aura shift and switched his attention to the front door. She breezed in, hair like spun gold flowing to her waist, with a seductive yet regal body and a sway to her hips that should be illegal even in DC. She wore a snug rose and cream colored sweater, cut low enough he could see the swells of her rounded breasts, tailored black slacks that fit her cute ass like a glove and four-inch spike heels. She paused in the center of the salon, wet from the sudden spring storm, and lowered the briefcase she’d used as an umbrella. Her sparkling violet eyes glanced up to the mezzanine where Bruce stood watching. Blatantly her gaze wandered over his well-muscled body, undressing him piece by piece, until he felt naked. He shook his head slightly and smoothed his shirt and slacks with his hand, just to make sure he was still wearing them.

Okay, you’re casting the movie version of your novel – who would you choose for the main characters? We’re talking dream cast.

Julianne Hough and Joe  Manganiello

Yum! Okay... Where can readers find your book and where can they find you online?

Buy Links for A Demon’s Witch

Coming January 6, 2016, CHARM ME – You’re going to LOVE it! Just in time for Valentine’s Day. For more info see my web site at

Thanks for visiting today, Tena! Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Monday Book Review: The Christmas Cowboy by Shanna Hatfield

The Christmas Cowboy, by Shanna Hatfield
Published October 2013

About the Book:
Flying from city to city in her job as a busy corporate trainer for a successful direct sales company, Kenzie Beckett doesn't have time for a man. And most certainly not for the handsome cowboy she keeps running into at the airport. Burned twice, she doesn't trust anyone wearing boots and Wranglers, especially someone as charming and handsome as Tate Morgan.

Among the top saddle bronc riders in the rodeo circuit, easy-going Tate Morgan can handle the toughest horse out there, but trying to deal with the beautiful Kenzie Beckett is a completely different story.

As the holiday season approaches, this Christmas Cowboy is going to need to pull out all the stops if he wants a chance at winning her heart. 
My Take:

First things first, the title is a little misleading. This is not a regular Christmas romance set amongst warm fuzzy holidays, although there are plenty of cowboys.  The book starts in spring and the first half runs through the summer and fall rodeo season, right up through the finals in Las Vegas in early December. We don't get into the Christmas spirit until a little more than halfway through the story.... 

Kenzie Beckett is a corporate sales trainer, flying around the country to give training sessions and pep talks to consultants. She first closed the door on ranch life and those dreams when her father ran out on her family, and slammed it tighter when her cowboy ex fiance cheated too. When she meets a handsome cowboy in the airport, there are no stars in her eyes. In Kenzie's mind, what cowboys did best was sweet-talk and walk away, and she wasn't about to trust another one.

Rodeo cowboy Tate Morgan never met anyone quite like Kenzie before, and as their hectic travel schedules bring them together over the course of the spring and summer, he finds he can't get enough of the sharp witted, sarcastic business woman who somehow understands the nuances of rodeo life. He's never wanted to settle down, but Kenzie makes him feel like anything is possible.

This is an old-fashioned sweet romance with head hopping between the main characters, with some of the minor characters' thoughts thrown in as well. The world the author paints is also a bit old fashioned and black and white, with few shades of grey. Their dates have  no sizzling sex, no drinking, no swearing... but a lot of cuddling, homemade dinners and hot chocolate. Like I said, sweet. There are a few conflicts and a whole bunch of trust issues Kenzie and Tate need to work out, but in the end (no surprise) romance wins.

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Writing Wednesday: Vegetarian Adventures without a Recipe

Our Thanksgiving adventure began early in November when my sister posted a link on my son's Facebook page to an Epicurious blog post. The title: How to Make Vegducken.

My sister is an organic farmer in Northern Vermont, and a vegetarian. Two of my kids are now vegetarians as well, and they took this post from her as a challenge.

Except... if you go read the blog post, it's more of a rant than a recipe. No, really. A good rant, and anti-tofu loaf rant, but a rant nonetheless. Still a challenge. Which we accepted.

First, we scoured the post to make a list of ingredients. Shopping and assembling were done without true direction, just going by the pictures. Oven temps? Time-to-cook? To use the food processor or not to use the food processor? These were all questions hovering somewhere near the kitchen ceiling, elusive and unanswered until we chose a path.

The author wrote that the outer layer was a Butternut Squash, stuffed with an eggplant, stuffed with a zucchini. No problem. Except for the part about hollowing them out with a spoon. The kids found that a bit tedious. But hey, they're the vegetarians, not me. We left the skin on the Butternut, but peeled the other two veggies.

All those scrapings then got combined and chopped in the Cuisinart, along with chopped garlic, shallots, mushrooms and onion. It looked a little like veggie pate when it was blended. And then it got sauteed in a frying pan with butter...

Okay, it wasn't terribly pretty when it was put together. Each section was filled with stuffing, then the next layer was brushed with melted butter and snuggled into place, filled with stuffing, etc. A very large scallion nestled into the very center - not in the original recipe, but then again, there really isn't a recipe to follow.

The two halves were fitted together, and tied up with kitchen twine. I was actually on the phone with my brother in law, saying Happy Thanksgiving and whatnot, when the kids screamed that they needed help with the tying. The "kids" are 15 and 17. Really? Can't tie a knot? I apologized and hung up. I tied the knots.

Okay, so our family "secret recipe" for cooking chicken or turkey is to add beer in the bottom of the pan to help keep it moist. We figured what the heck, beer will work for vegducken just the same way, right? No, the kids did not drink any. Cooking purposes only.

So then we're into a big grey area - what temperature? How long? Covered or uncovered? We chose 400 degrees, one hour and covered with foil to help steam. We also timed it to be finished a little after the turkey was done cooking (yes, we also cooked a turkey. We have a double oven and it's not Thanksgiving without turkey, no matter what my sisters say.) I made vegetarian gravy ahead of time, using vegetable stock, chopped onion and mushrooms, flour and spices. (It turned out really well. It was a good gravy day.)
The blog article shows the vegducken sliced into rounds and served on a platter. So that's what we did. It didn't come out as pretty as in the picture, but then again, we're not Epicurious. We're just an author and her veggie kids.
Was it tasty? You betcha. Was it worth the time and effort? Ummm, no, not according to the kids who did most of the work. It was good. But not fabulous. 

It did, however, make for a fun Thanksgiving day in the kitchen.