BLACKBIRDS NOVEL DUET

BLACKBIRDS NOVEL DUET

When Elliott Vance sees his parents, Serena and Ethan, together for the first time, holding hands; it causes a tectonic shift in his perception of reality. Answering all the questions that bubble to the surface, will not always be easy or pleasant. But, there’s always a beginning, a middle, and an end to most stories, including Serena and Ethan’s.

The reconnection between Serena and Ethan Vance will lead to explosive revelations and a thousand and one questions about their past. But will it also give them and their only son Elliott, the closure they all so desperately need?

‘Ethan’s Choice: Blank Pages I’ and ‘Serena’s Vow: Blank Pages II’ by Lily Java brings full circle the story of Elliott Vance’s parents, Serena and Ethan, first introduced in the novel ‘Blackbirds’.

ETHAN’S CHOICE: BLANK PAGES I BY LILY JAVA

He thought he planned for everything. But, what he didn’t plan for, was her.

Whether we are we born into the world a blank page has been argued since the time of Aristotle. Is it nature or nurture that makes us who we are? Do we choose our own fate, or are we chosen for the roles we play?

Serena Clay is a golden girl living in a soulful, turbulent time. Beautiful, intelligent, pragmatic, and so well cared for, one would think she’d be better prepared. But there’s no way, she could’ve known how overwhelming and passionate it would be to fall in love, until she met Ethan Vance—a fierce, charming, and enigmatic young man.

Ethan Vance lives a life filled with secrets and lies. He longs to be free of them as well as of the violent family legacy they stem from. With careful planning and avoidance, he hopes to keep the woman he dares to love and the person most precious to him, in his life forever. When things go bad as they often do, Ethan has a choice to make but now his heart won’t be the only one on the line.

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SERENA’S VOW: BLANK PAGES II BY LILY JAVA

Keeping her promises has often meant sacrifice. But is it ever too late to try and live your best dreams?

Sometimes, re-imagining your life is your only road to salvation.

Long ago left by the man she loved and trusted, with a young son to raise alone, Serena Vance is now a grown woman. The vows she and Ethan made to each other, she has had to forget. Now there is nothing more important than helping her son become the best man he can be. But will reaching that goal come at the expense of her own happiness?

Ethan Vance is a lost, broken man—angry, alone, and teetering on the brink of disaster. The people and things that meant the most to him are disappearing from his life one by one. Every day has become a nightmare, and to survive he must turn his life around.

But is it ever too late to have a second chance at living your best dreams?

In the winding journey these two former lovers take further away from each other, they both lose a significant part of themselves. To thrive again, they must re-invent their lives apart … and maybe, in doing so they will find their way back together.

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EXCERPT

Serena was lying in his bed, reading. They’d made love late that afternoon. He’d elevated the hurt wrist and told her not to move it, no matter what he did. She was obedient, though he did not make it at all easy for her. As she writhed against his treacherous mouth, tongue, and hands, he kept her in endless pursuit of an orgasm until she could barely move from the effort. The sun set over their warm, conjoined bodies. 

He never seemed to have enough time with her to his liking. And now here she was— lying in hisbed, in hisshirt—and he still felt that way. He’d been studiously watching her while pretending to work on something else. It wasn’t just that she was beautiful. It was her earthiness—how full of grace she was. It made him feel like having her in his life was the only thing he needed to be sure he’d stay safe, grounded, and in touch with everything around him. That as long as she was there, as long as he could look at her every day, he wouldn’t lose himself to the dour or murky thoughts he sometimes had about his life—about the world in general. 

She reached the end of a page and adjusted herself while turning it when she noticed he was staring. 

Everything he’d been thinking, everything he’d been planning, Ethan blurted it all out at once. 

“There’s something I want to tell you. I’ve made a decision. I’m going to leave school after this semester.”

Her brow creased ever so slightly. He got the impression she was holding her breath a little. Stabilizing herself against the conversation, she took a deep breath, and then another, before she spoke. 

“Where will you go?”

“I’m thinking about going to the country for a little while.”

“The country? What do you mean?”

“I mean I’m thinking about renting that house we stayed in but for a longer time than just a weekend.” 

Serena sat up in the bed, pushing the book aside.  

“In Claverack?”

“Yeah.”

“Why there?”

“Good memories.”

He knew her downcast eyes and the subtle smile meant she was remembering too.

ABOUT LILY JAVA

Lily is a freelance writer, blogger, and novelist who writes fiction in numerous genres. When she isn’t writing, Lily raises money for arts and cultural organizations or plans special events in iconic landmarks throughout her beloved hometown: New York City. A resident of Brooklyn, Lily is a true ambivert, who enjoys solitude just as much as she likes meeting and talking with other passionate readers and writers.

“I think every story is a love story of some kind. The whys and wherefores are usually as interesting as who or what you love, but you only know that if you delve deep. So in life, in love, and most definitely on the page, that’s how I like to do it.” –Lily

CONNECT WITH LILY JAVA

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Review: The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, which means that I’ll receive a commission–at no additional cost to you–if you click on them and make a purchase. 

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The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo

Release Date: 9 May 2017

Synopsis

He was the first person to inspire her, to move her, to truly understand her. Was he meant to be the last?

Lucy is faced with a life-altering choice. But before she can make her decision, she must start her story–their story–at the very beginning.

Lucy and Gabe meet as seniors at Columbia University on a day that changes both of their lives forever. Together, they decide they want their lives to mean something, to matter. When they meet again a year later, it seems fated–perhaps they’ll find life’s meaning in each other. But then Gabe becomes a photojournalist assigned to the Middle East and Lucy pursues a career in New York. What follows is a thirteen-year journey of dreams, desires, jealousies, betrayals, and, ultimately, of love. Was it fate that brought them together? Is it choice that has kept them away? Their journey takes Lucy and Gabe continents apart, but never out of each other’s hearts.

This devastatingly romantic debut novel about the enduring power of first love, with a shocking, unforgettable ending, is Love Story for a new generation.

Review

Some books tell stories that are bound to make you a little (or, okay, extremely) emotional. And you have to simply accept that it will happen. You’ll re-read passages, feel completely immersed in the scenes and wonder if everyone else who’s read it experienced the same thing. For me, this was the case with Jill Santopolo’s The Light We Lost. I’d heard a lot about the book, I’d even 1-clicked it for my Kindle but never got around to reading it until last week.

Wow. I loved following Lucy and Gabe’s story. Theirs is not a conventional love story. There is no HEA. I’m putting it out there for you now. If that’s what you want, this is not the story for you, but it is a heart wrenching portrayal of love found, love lost and what happens in between as these two lovers find themselves separated by distance, by principles and sometimes by other people.

What I especially liked with The Light We Lost was how flawed both Lucy and Gabe are as characters. Yes, they are both selfish sometimes and they will do things that will often leave you wondering why you even empathise with them, but ultimately they stand by the choices they make and, for me as a reader, I could completely understand their reactions and decisions, even when I could not imagine myself doing the same.

I just read that The Light We Lost is in development to be a movie. It will be interesting to see who they cast to play Lucy and Gabe.

Anyway, I loved The Light We Lost. I will probably re-read it in a few weeks just because. Do I recommend it? Absolutely. But bear in mind that, even those this is a romance, it’s more in the lines of One Day or Me Before You. And if you’ve read either of those, you know exactly what I mean.

My rating?

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Review: Still Me by Jojo Moyes

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Title: Still Me (Me Before You, #3)

Author: Jojo Moyes

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Release Date: 25 January 2018

SYNOPSIS

Lou Clark is back in the BRAND NEW Jojo Moyes novel Still Me, follow-up to the Number One international bestsellers Me Before You and After You.

Lou Clark knows too many things . . .

She knows how many miles lie between her new home in New York and her new boyfriend Sam in London.

She knows her employer is a good man and she knows his wife is keeping a secret from him.

What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to meet someone who’s going to turn her whole life upside down.

Because Josh will remind her so much of a man she used to know that it’ll hurt.

Lou won’t know what to do next, but she knows that whatever she chooses is going to change everything.

REVIEW

I was such a huge fan of Me Before You, so I felt compelled to read Still Me, even if After You (Me Before You, #2) was not really my favourite. I am so glad I went ahead and pre-ordered it for my Kindle.

For those of you who read and loved Me Before You, you’ll remember that one of the things that Will told Lou to do was to live boldly and to leave her hometown behind her and see the world. Well, now Lou’s in New York, working as a personal assistant to an über wealthy woman and trying to figure out what she really wants out of life. Will her year in the Big Apple open her eyes to new adventures or will she return home to her old life?

Well, I for one can say that I loved reading Still Me almost as much as I loved reading Me Before You. Lou is such a relatable character and her relationship with her new boyfriend, Sam, feels so real–even down to the the misunderstandings brought on by social media and text messages.

Don’t read Still Me expecting the major ugly cry moments of Me Before You. This is a completely different story, but it does have its emotional bits that will make you smile or wish you could grab Lou by the shoulders and shake some sense into her. 😉 You will definitely leave this book shaking your head and realising that F. Scott Fitzgerald was right when he said the rich are different. 😉

Highly recommended!

My rating?

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Review: Faking Friends by Jane Fallon

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Title: Faking Friends

Author: Jane Fallon

Release Date: 11 January 2018

Synopsis:

Best friend, soulmate, confidante . . . backstabber.

Amy thought she knew everything there was to know about her best friend Melissa. Then again, Amy also thought she was on the verge of the wedding of her dreams to her long-distance fiancé.

Until she pays a surprise trip home to London. Jack is out, but it’s clear another woman has been making herself at home in their flat.

There’s something about her stuff that feels oddly familiar . . . and then it hits Amy. The Other Woman is Melissa.

Amy has lost her home, her fiancé and her best friend in one disastrous weekend – but instead of falling apart, she’s determined to get her own back.

Piecing her life back together won’t be half as fun as dismantling theirs, after all.

REVIEW

Jane Fallon’s Faking Friends is a great page turner of a read that had me hooked already from page one. I loved following Amy’s story as she comes to realise that the man she loves has not been faithful and the woman he’s been unfaithful with just happens to be Amy’s closest friend. What unfolds from then onwards is an addictive tale of frenemies, revenge and dreams (lost and found).

A fun read that shows us Amy’s past and present, and gives the reader a satisfying story that leaves us asking whether revenge is really worth it and what happens when a frenemy becomes a full-blown enemy.

Highly recommended!

My rating?

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Book Blitz: Freddie Duet by Kiru Taye

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Freddie Duet by Kiru Taye
Series: The Essiens #6 & #7
Genre: Romantic Suspense, Women’s Fiction
 
Reading Order:

FREDDIE ENTANGLED ~ BLURB

Violence marked Freddie Edun’s early years. Coming to work for the Essiens saved him from the angry young man he was and gave him focus. Now he’s walking the path of success, and partnership in Banks Security business is within reach. He just has to seal this deal with a potential customer first. Until he meets the client’s wife, and the deal risks taking a nose dive.

Kike Ogun married young to a man who dazzled her with his bogus charm. She’s lived like a caged bird for many years, but with a looming milestone birthday on the horizon, she is determined to walk a new path of self-love. If she could just ignore the electrifying and forbidden attraction she feels towards a younger man from the first moment they meet.

With a devious husband who refuses to let go, she’s going to need help—Freddie’s protection—to stay alive long enough to celebrate her upcoming birthday. And she’s going to have to give in to her dark passion for him and finally unleash the natural woman inside. If it’s only sex, then what’s love got to do it?

This story unravels in two instalments—this is the first part.

The second part, Freddie Untangled, is coming soon

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EXCERPT (Copyright 2017 Kiru Taye)

“Did you know that your gateman believes that God guards your house?” Freddie’s words cut into her thoughts, drawing her attention back to him. “And therefore, he doesn’t have to do anything more than just opening and closing the gates?”

Kike sighed. She remained aware of the lackadaisical attitude towards security around here. As if by being a pastor, her husband and anyone associated with him became bulletproof.

“I know. It’s part of the reason I don’t feel safe,” she replied in a monotone voice. “Sometimes, I feel as if I’m going to be murdered in my sleep and everybody is going to dismiss it as the will of God.”

Freddie stopped the car just after he went past the main gates leading out of the estate. He turned in his seat and stared at her, eyebrows drawn together. “Do you feel that unsafe? Did someone threaten you?”

Damn. Why had she blurted that out? She shouldn’t have spoken those words out loud. She’d never said anything like that to anyone before. And she certainly shouldn’t have said it to Freddie.

She avoided eye contact, and her gaze bounced around the car interior before settling on a spot beyond the windscreen at the high fence surrounding the building across the road. She clenched her hands into fists and closed her eyes, counting between inhales and exhales.

“Mrs. Ogun, is there something I should know?”

“Look, Freddie—“” Saying his name felt very intimate like she knew him on a personal level, which she didn’t. He was just a man looking to provide a service to her and her family. She needed to remember that. She avoided his searching gaze. He seemed able to discover things she hid. Not to mention the ease with which she had confided in him. “Forget I said that. It was nothing.”

“It’s not nothing.”

Cool palm covered the bare skin on her wrist. Her pulse jumped, her skin electrified, and her breath hitched. She turned her head so quickly that she felt woozy, the disorientation made worse when she met his gaze.

His eyes were full of questions, concern, and compassion. He looked at her as if he’d understood her fears even before she’d spoken them.

What was going on with her? He didn’t know her. Couldn’t know her. And he was never going to get the chance to know her.

“Just drive.” She ordered, forced herself to look away again, and tried to tug her arm free. He didn’t let her go. She swallowed as her skin flushed.

“Kike.”

Her heart skipped a beat. Her name on his lips was beautiful, like a plea whispered by an old lover rather than a man she hardly knew. The low timbre vibrated through her, making her core throb. Her skin tingled where he held her. She was certain he could feel her racing pulse underneath his thumb.

Did he know that his restraint excited her?

She closed her eyes and held her breath. An image of him caging her with his body popped into her mind.

Her eyes flew open, and she raised her palms to cover her face.  So she’d become starved of a lover’s affection in the past few years. But did she desperately miss the touch of a man enough to forget herself? That she would ache for the first man who inadvertently pushed her needy buttons?

“You shouldn’t call me that.” Her breathy reprimand came out weak, more to remind herself that she was just a client to him than to prompt him of his status.

“You can tell me anything,” he said, his enticing voice filled with empathy. “You can trust me. What I said in your house is true. I will protect you from any threat.”

“Okay.” Her voice croaked, and she swallowed.

“So will you tell me what’s going on?” he probed.

Her first impulse was to tell him the truth. To bare her soul to him. His soothing tone felt almost magical and inspired trust.

Breaking the habit of a lifetime proved difficult. She’d hidden things about herself from other people for years. When people found out things about her, all she ever got back were judgements and criticisms. The only person who ever really understood her was Lekan. See how that had turned out.

“Nothing is going on.” She still didn’t meet his gaze. At least this way, he wouldn’t know she was telling a lie.

He didn’t say anything for several racing heartbeats.

“Okay. When you decide to talk, I’ll be here to listen. Any time of day.” He pressed the ignition knob, indicated, and pulled out of the junction, heading to Yomi’s school.

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Unidentified biker girl sits on a chopper motorcycle, night viewFREDDIE UNTANGLED ~ BLURB

Kike has struggled for years to break out of the chains of her marriage to Lekan. After moving out of the Ogun estate, she has to cope with condemnation not just from family and friends but from unseen followers as the story of her relationship with Freddie becomes media fodder. She’s finally free to love a man who loves her but is she about to lose everything else that matters to her?

Freddie has a new family—Kike and the kids—and he has to pull out all the stops if he is to outwit a powerful sociopathic pastor as well as and deal with ghosts from his past that come to haunt him. He will do whatever it takes to keep the woman he loves safe but the price might be his sanity and his life.

Lekan is not about to give up on a woman he sees as his property and uses every weapon in his arsenal to get Kike back, including following through on the threats he made.

With the odds stacked up against Kike and Freddie, is a happy future together even possible? Will they ever be out of Lekan’s reach?

This story unravels in two instalments—this is the second part and not a standalone.

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EXCERPT (Copyright 2017 Kiru Taye)

Freddie turned to Kike who stood at the still locked front door with a contemplative expression.

“Shall I do the honours?” He stretched his hands out for the keys.

She handed them over. “I feel as if I should cut a ribbon or something.”

He found the right key and inserted it into the lock, twisting until it clicked. He shoved the heavy slab inwards.

“I feel as if I should carry you over the threshold.” Smiling, he winked at her.

She chuckled. “That would imply that we’re newly-weds.”

“A guy can dream, can’t he? Ladies, first.” He gave an exaggerated bow and waved his hand with flourish.

“As you wish, Gentleman.” This time she winked at him.

He could swear she emphasised the word ‘Gentleman’ on purpose which had his pulse racing and his cock hardening. Surely she didn’t know how much the word affected his mind and body.

Groaning, he followed her indoors and discretely tried to adjust the swelling in his jeans.

“I can help you with that.” She glanced back and tipped her head at his groin. Oh, she definitely knew exactly what her provocative words did to him.

“Lady,” he growled in warning. “Be careful what you wish for. Because that sassy mouth of yours is writing a cheque your ass is going to cash later.”

Her eyes widened but the teasing smile didn’t go away. She batted her long dark lashes innocently. “But what did I do?”

He closed the gap between them and she moved back. “You know exactly what you’re doing. Agreement or not, I know when someone is begging to be spanked and I’ll be more than happy to oblige you, right here, right now.”

Her back hit the wall as he caged her into the corner by the stairs, his hands splayed on either side of her head. He shoved his knee between her thighs, spreading them out.

Through her loose-fitting, merlot, linen trousers, the heat from her crotch burned him. The pulse on her collar thumped fast and her pink tongue darted, swiping her bottom lip. She wanted that spanking. He could see it in her bright gaze fixed on him.

By his calculation, she hadn’t had sex in close to two months. So she would be as ready to combust as he was. He wasn’t averse to dishing out some sexy torture.

Grinning wolfishly, he leaned forward and brushed his lips on her left ear lobe. “Go ahead, kitten,” he spoke low and against her smooth skin. “Taunt me some more. Make my day. Let’s christen this house with the cracks from my palm on your lovely behind.”

He pinched her bottom with his left hand. With his right hand, he tugged her nipple through her pink t-shirt.

Her breath hitched and she rocked her hips, rubbing her crotch on his knee. “Plea—”

“Oga Freddie,” one of the moving men interrupted her.

“Hold on, I’m coming.” Freddie replied as he pulled away from Kike.

Her head was tilted back, exposing her neck. Eyes closed and mouth open as she panted, she looked partially debauched. Sensually corrupted was a state he wanted to see her in often in this house. She’d been ready to plead for something. He looked forward to a time when they could explore their connection uninterrupted.

“Welcome to your new home, kitten.” He pressed his lips to her forehead and left her to tidy up as he went to deal with the movers.

BUY LINKS

Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo | Okadabooks | Smashwords

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 OTHER BOOKS IN THE ESSIEN SERIES
Book 1 – Keeping Secrets is FREE on all eBook Platforms
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 ABOUT THE AUTHOR

As a lover of romance novels, Kiru wanted to read stories about Africans falling in love. When she couldn’t find those books, she decided to write the stories she wanted to read.

Kiru writes passionate romance and sensual erotica stories featuring African characters whether on the continent or in the Diaspora.  When she’s not writing you can find her either immersed in a good book or catching up with friends and family. She currently lives in the South of England with her husband and three children.

Kiru is a founding member of Romance Writers of West Africa. In 2011, her debut romance novella, His Treasure, won the Book of the Year at the Love Romances Café Awards. She is the 2015 Romance Writer of the Year at the Nigerian Writers Awards.

CONNECT WITH KIRU 

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/AuthorKiruTaye
Twitter https://twitter.com/#!/KiruTaye
Website: http://www.kirutaye.com/
Google+ https://www.google.com/+Kirutaye
Pinterest http://pinterest.com/kirutaye/
Instagram https://www.instagram.com/kirutaye/
Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5242699.Kiru_Taye

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Getting to know… Carol Cooper

Welcome back! It’s NaNoWriMo month and I’ve been busy the last few days trying to meet my daily word count goal. Hope it’s going well for all you fellow Wrimers! Let’s take a little NaNoWriMO break and get to know another writer. This time we’re sitting down with Carol Cooper. Carol is a British author, journalist, and doctor. She practices medicine in London and writes on health for The Sun, Britain’s best-selling newspaper. After a string of parenting books and an award-winning medical textbook, she turned to writing fiction. Her novels are all about 30-somethings looking for love, and they’re laced with inside medical knowledge. Carol’s latest novel, Hampstead Fever, follows the intertwined lives of six Londoners as emotions boil over one hot summer. You can find it at Amazon and other retailers, and in bookstores in Europe. So get comfortable, grab a cup of java or a glass of wine and let’s get to know Carol Cooper!

 

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Today’s guest, Carol Cooper

Carol, thanks for taking time to hang out with us. Let’s start off by talking about where you’re from. Now I’m a born and bred Philadelphia girl, but I think you mentioned that you’re from a little of everywhere. 

My background is international as my mother had Lebanese and Syrian origins, and my father was British. I was born in London and lived in Egypt until I was eight years old, when my mother and I went to live in the USA. I was in Washington, DC, for more or less 10 years, though there were periods of time in Europe during my high school years. I then studied medicine at Cambridge University, and now live and work in London and Cambridge. The London apartment is in Hampstead, in the heart of the area where my novel Hampstead Fever is set. I don’t always find much time for leisure pursuits, but the riverbank always beckons.

I love London. It’s got to be one of my favorite places in the world–and Hampstead is such a beautiful area. And I love it that you set your novel in Hampstead. I haven’t had a chance to read Hampstead Fever yet.  For readers who are new to Carol, I’m going to share the blurb now: 

hampstead-fever-final-ebook-coverA heatwave in London and trouble is brewing…

Chef Dan should be blissfully happy. He has the woman of his dreams and a job in a trendy Hampstead bistro. But his over-anxious partner, engrossed in their baby, has no time for him now.

Stressed doctor Geoff finds solace in the arms of a moody actress. Journalist Harriet’s long-term relationship with Sanjay hits the buffers, leaving each of them with serious questions to answer. Meanwhile single mother of four Karen misses the intimacy of marriage, but lacks the appetite for a proper relationship.

Passion and panic rise in the heat, but who can spot the danger signs?

Okay, you’ve got me hooked–I’ve one-clicked it on Amazon, so it should be in my Kindle now.  Let’s talk a little about writing. I think I always knew I wanted to be a writer–what about you? When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

I was 100% sure by the time I was in my first year at university. As a child, I had wanted to own a button shop, and as a teenager my heart was set on becoming a nuclear physicist. Of course, when I first embarked on a novel at college, it never got off the ground because I knew nothing of life at the time, except how to pass exams.

I know what you mean about trying to write a novel in college and not having enough life experience. I never finished any of the novels I started in college. They just weren’t very good and it was mostly due to not having enough experience that the story or the characters even mattered. 

That’s exactly what I mean. A writer needs life experience in order to write something that’s interesting.

Was there a particular author or book that inspired you to become a novelist?

I’ve read a lot of inspiring books, and have been lucky enough to meet some great authors, but it was the queen of British crime fiction, the late Ruth Rendell, who convinced me to stick at novel-writing. She was the tutor on a writing course that I attended in the mid-1990s. By then, I was doing a lot of health journalism and already had some non-fiction books in the pipeline, but I had a hankering to write novels. It was Ruth Rendell who pointed out my strong points as well as my weaknesses, and persuaded me to keep going.

I am in awe. I love Ruth Rendell’s novels. I would have  loved to take a writing course with her. Her novel, A Dark Adapted Eye, is on my list of all-time favourite novels. Speaking of Ruth Rendell, she often tackled some very serious and controversial topics in her novels. Are there any subjects that are taboo for you when it comes to reading or writing? 

I’m an animal lover, so I would say cruelty to animals. It’s not something I’m very interested in reading or writing about.

I totally agree with you. I have a hard time even reading newspaper articles about cruelty to animals. And I doubt I’ll ever feature it in any of my novels. So do you think fiction address topical social issues? Some readers say they only read to escape and don’t want to be reminded of racism, social inequality, etc when they open a book. What’s your take on this?

I believe it should. Books that ignore racism and other forms of injustice aren’t doing their thing, and they’re not realistic either. Even romantic novels need a toe-hold in the real world.

Yes! That’s how I feel too. Even when I read to escape, I want to feel that the world I am reading about it realistic. What about social media? Do you think today’s authors need it to survive?

Social media can take up a lot of time without necessarily selling any books. But today’s readers really do want to know more about authors and about the world around the books they read, so I think it’s almost essential for a writer to be busy on at least one social media platform, and to interact. I’m most active on Twitter and Facebook, and I dabble with Pinterest and Instagram.

Me too. I am a Pinterest junkie. I use it for inspiration. I have to rein myself in sometimes. It’s the same with Facebook. I have to make sure I focus and don’t get too sucked into it. Let’s talk writing spaces. Do you have a favourite place to write? 

It’s not exactly a writing space, but I love to write beside the river Cam in Cambridge (the one in England). It’s a place with a rich literary heritage, and it’s also where I was a student. I find it uplifting to be by the banks of the river with a notebook and pencil, perhaps under a weeping willow. These days Cambridge plays host to hordes of tourists, but you can still find spots where there are just swans, geese, grazing cattle, and the occasional boat going by.

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A slice of paradise in Cambridge

I don’t blame you. That is one stunning view. I could sit there and dream and plot… Now, I know most authors have a favourite character. Which of your characters is your favourite?

I love almost all my characters, though Laure and Geoff really stand out: Laure and Geoff. Laure, being half Lebanese, is insecure despite her career as a hot-shot lawyer, and she has a lot of uncertainty about her cultural identity. Geoff is special because, as a doctor, he finds it challenging to deal with the minutiae of present day medical practice that take up so much time when all he really wants to do is made people better. But there’s also Sanjay, who’s impulsive, inquisitive, loyal, and funny, and loves music…. Can I have three favourites?

Of course you can! 🙂 I think I have two or three who my favourites. It depends on my mood.

I’m always curious which authors other authors read. Who would you recommend to people looking for someone new to read?

Three British authors really stand out for me: JJ Marsh, Clare Flynn, and Jane Davis. These indie authors have an international flavor, especially Marsh and Flynn, and I think their stories will all resonate with a very wide readership. I’d especially recommend Human Rites which is a detective novel by JJ Marsh, The Green Ribbons by Clare Flynn, and Jane Davis’s I Stopped Time, or her latest title My Counterfeit Self.

 

 

I’m going to add those to my TBR List. Carol, it’s been so nice chatting with you. Before we finish off our session, what advice would you give to novice writers?

Keep writing, even when you don’t feel like it. Whatever shape your thoughts are in, get them down. You can refine a rough draft later, but it’s mighty hard to edit a blank page.

Thanks again for joining us today, Carol! Peeps, make sure you follow Carol so you can find out what she’s up to and stay up to date on when her next book is coming out.

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Preorder Blitz: In the Best Interest of the Child by Felicia Denise

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Preorder Blitz

ITBIOTC Front Cover

Book Title: In the Best Interest of the Child
Author: Felicia Denise
Genre: Women’s Fiction/Psychological
Release Date: September 17, 2016
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions

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book blurb

Ten-year-old Olivia Chandler has a school she loves, good friends, a nice home, a talented mom, and a successful father she adores. Tragedy rips all of this away from her, and plunges Olivia into the foster care system, where for eight years she is neglected, humiliated, abused, and nearly raped.

Fate smiles on Olivia shortly before she ages out of the system, allowing her the means to attend college and law school.

Years later, Olivia is a successful child advocate attorney, giving a voice to children who are so easily ignored by those claiming to act in their best interest. She has little time for personal relationships, and her lifelong fear of abandonment reminds her never to get too close to anyone.

The successful attorney stumbles though when she’s assigned a case by the court that too closely mirrors her own haunted childhood. Olivia never gives her minor clients less than her all, and the only way she can help her eleven year old client is to face down and acknowledge her demons. This same case also brings a man into her life who sees her for who she truly is, and will not allow Olivia to push him away.

excerpt

Making sure Rena was still sleeping, Olivia exited her vehicle, following the sidewalk to the driveway where a flatbed tow truck came fully into view. A large, burly, dark haired man was winching a late model Mercedes up onto the flatbed. Nearby, a far shorter man stood with his arms folded across his chest obviously not happy. As she got closer, Olivia believed the shorter man to be near her age, even though a head full of curly black hair gave him a more youthful appearance. Olivia smiled as she passed the tow truck driver, noticing how his eyes lingered on her hips. The shorter man didn’t seem to notice her until she was right in front of him, and he started as though coming out of a trance.

“Hello. Can I help you?” Olivia widened her smile.

“Hello. I’m looking for the Bellamy residence.” He regarded her warily.

“I’m Courtney Bellamy. What can I do for you?” She stuck out her right hand.

“Mr. Bellamy, I’m Olivia Chandler, Rena’s court-appointed attorney. It’s nice to meet you.” Courtney Bellamy visibly relaxed.

“Nice to meet you, Ms. Chandler. My wife, Marissa, mentioned you were meeting with Rena today. We can go inside and chat shortly, I just have to see when this guy will have my car up and running.” He spoke the last part of the sentence in a raised voice, making sure the tow truck driver heard him. The driver pulled a face in his direction.

“C’mon, Court! I don’t even know what’s wrong with it. How can I tell you when it will be fixed?”

“There is way too much going on in this family for us to depend on one car, Bruce. There will be whining, tears and harsh words…and my wife will be upset too!” Olivia and Bruce both laughed out loud at Courtney’s snarky comment.

“Let me get it back to the shop and find the problem. If it’s not a quick fix, I have a loaner vehicle you can use until yours is ready. Deal?” Courtney pumped his fist in the air.

“This is why you’re my favorite mechanic! I love you, man!” Bruce guffawed.

“No. I’m your favorite mechanic because I’m your cousin and give you family discounts!”

“Well, there’s that too,” Courtney quipped. Reaching for the side door entrance, Courtney Bellamy addressed Olivia.

“Forgive me, Ms. Chandler. Would you like to have a seat inside while I wrap this up?”

“Please, it’s Olivia. And actually, I have a sleeping Rena in my car out front.”

“Oh! I thought the medical shuttle was bringing her home. And call me Courtney.”

“That was the initial plan, but she was getting tired, and I didn’t want her to have to sit and wait not knowing how long the shuttle would take to get to her. Bringing her myself was easier.”

“How kind of you. Let me grab her chair, and I’ll meet you out front.”

“Sounds good.” Olivia turned and started back down the driveway.” Courtney threw one last taunt at his cousin.

“Bruce, if you put one scratch on my baby, I’m calling your mother!”

“And if you call my mother, I will call YOUR mother and tell her who really broke the garage window when we were kids.” Courtney gasped.

“You wouldn’t dare!” he countered.

“Stay away from my mother, and I’ll stay away from yours.” He caught Olivia’s eye as she passed and winked. She laughed at the easy banter of the cousins, and just for a second wondered what it was like to have someone in your life who had known you all of your life. She heard her name being called just as she reached the sidewalk. Olivia turned to see Bruce jogging towards her. He stopped only after he had more than invaded her personal space. He was taller than she first thought. Her three inch heels put her at an even five foot, ten inches, and she still had to take a step back and raise her head to fully see his face. His light brown eyes had an amused glint to match the devilish smirk on his clean shaven face. His collar length dark brown hair was curly, though not as much as Courtney’s, and had the beginnings of grey at the temples much like her own.

“Forgive me if I’m being forward, Ms. Chandler, but I wanted to give you my business card. I own Bellamy’s over on Mason. If you ever need anything…um, for your car…give me a call. She reached for the card. “Anything…at all.” The man was positively shameless. Olivia couldn’t help but grin.

“Call me Olivia, and thank you. That’s nice of you.” Glancing at the card in her hand, a realization suddenly dawned on her. “Wait. You’re that Bellamy? Bellamy Motorsports of “We have twelve locations to serve you in Hennepin and Olmstead counties?” His face took on the brightest shade of red as he blushed like a teenager.

“Guess you’ve seen our commercials, huh?” She laughed as she backed towards her car.

“Yes. A time or two…or twelve. The commercials never mentioned you were so…hands on.” His eyes widened, but she pointed at the tow truck and continued before he could respond. “The boss answering service calls?” He slid his hands into his back pockets and cocked his head to the side.

“Okay, you got me. But Court won’t let anyone else touch his Precious. I was with him the day he bought her, but I’m not sure who owns whom. Marissa always teases him by telling him she leaving and he can have the house, but she’s taking the kid and the car. He nearly has a heart attack.”

Olivia reached her car and noticed Rena was still sleeping. There was no sign of Courtney at the front door yet. She heard movement behind her and noticed Bruce had taken a couple of steps in her direction.

“I didn’t see a ring. Are you married?”

“No.”

“Involved?”

“No.”

“Do you wanna be?” Olivia laughed in spite of herself.

“You’re definitely not the shy type, are you Bruce?”

“Nope. But I’m usually not this forward either.” Suddenly serious, he continued. “It’s just not everyday I meet a woman I’m so drawn to.” The sincerity in his voice caused her pulse to race.

“I’m flattered, Bruce.” He started to say something else, but both their attention was drawn to the front door as Courtney backed the wheelchair down the one step entrance, then turned and headed towards Olivia’s car.

“Olivia?” She glanced in Bruce’s direction, but looked away quickly, unable to hold his intense gaze. “Olivia?” Taking a deep breath, she met his gaze. “Call me.” She smiled and gave him a single nod. His attention made her feel light-headed, but she knew she’d never call him. She couldn’t. He definitely seemed like the type of man who wanted all or nothing…and nothing was all she had.

Courtney brought the wheelchair to a stop in front of her. “Cinderella’s carriage has arrived. Shall we wake her?” Olivia moved to the car door as she unlocked it with the remote. She reached in to unfasten Rena’s seatbelt, but caught the banter between the cousins.

“Bruce, go fix my car.”

“Shut it, Court!”

“I’m nominating your house for Thanksgiving dinner this year!”

“And I’ll nominate yours for Christmas dinner! And I’ll insist great-aunt Mae bring her dogs…all four of them!”

“You’re an evil man, Bellamy.”

“We share DNA, Bellamy.”

If Olivia didn’t know they were grown men, she would have sworn they were seventh graders. Rena began to stir, and looked around, confused.

“Hey angel. You’re home.” Still disoriented, Rena tried to sit upright. She cried in obvious pain and gripped Olivia’s arm. “It’s okay, angel! It’s okay, I got you. Just breathe through it. C’mon, now. Breathe.” Olivia took her own advice and took a couple of deep breaths to calm herself. She couldn’t comfort the child if she needed comfort herself.

“Olivia?” She looked back at Courtney. “She’s as light as a feather, but that cast adds weight. Step back and I’ll transfer her to the chair.” Rena still held Olivia’s arm, but her grip was loosening.

“You okay, angel? Mr. Bellamy wants to transfer you to the chair. You’ll probably feel better once you can stretch out in your bed, okay?” Rena nodded, and Olivia stepped back out of the way to give Courtney room to transfer her to the chair. She could feel Bruce’s eyes on her but refused to look at him. Her face grew hot and she felt awkward and out of place. Her resolve was weakening and she was about to look in his direction, when a green minivan pulled up behind her car. Bruce clapped his hands together excitedly.

“Oh yeah! The fun is really about to start.” Olivia could tell he was enjoying the moment and glanced back to the minivan not knowing what to expect. A plump woman hurriedly exited the van and rushed towards them. She was short – maybe an even five feet in height – and African American with a mass of hair worn in a long, natural, wavy style. Though plump, her hourglass shape was more than obvious. She wore very little makeup, and she didn’t need too. Her full lips and smooth brown skin were enhanced by large expressive eyes that right now were filled with worry.

“What happened? Is everything alright?” Just as she reached Olivia’s car, Courtney raised Rena into his arms, pivoted, and placed her into the wheelchair. The woman glanced from face to face waiting for an answer. She threw a quick wave in Bruce’s direction, and he returned it. Olivia smiled at her while Courtney leaned over Rena’s chair and kissed the woman on the cheek.

“Hi, Honey. This is Rena’s attorney, Olivia Chandler, and she just brought the munchkin home. Olivia, this is my wife, Marissa.” She took Olivia’s outstretched hand in both of hers and squeezed.

“Oh yes. We spoke on the phone. So nice to meet you. And thank you for seeing her home.” She lightly patted Rena’s shoulder and kissed the top of her head. “Hey Munchkin. Did you hit all your markers in therapy today?” Rena nodded slightly.

“All except the steps. I could only do two.” Marissa stepped behind her chair and started towards the front door.

“That’s still good. Remember last week you could only do one? Progress, munchkin, progress.” She stopped suddenly and turned around. “Courtney, what are you doing here?”

He folded his arms across his chest defiantly.

“I live here.”

Bruce, Rena and Olivia all snickered. Marissa pursed her lips.

“It’s the middle of the day, Courtney.” He started.

“Oh! Geeze, yes. So much happening at once. The school called me. Brian has a low grade fever and an upset stomach. He’s up in his room. The school nurse said she called you first, but didn’t get an answer. I figured you were still with your mom at the dialysis center.”

“They were short staffed today for some reason, so Mom got a late start on her treatment.” She glanced up at the house. I told that boy to go easy on the chili con carne last night. He never listens and this always happens.” She nodded her head in Bruce’s direction. “And why is Bigfoot here?” The laugh escaped Olivia’s mouth before she could suppress it. These people were nuts…and she loved it. Bruce shot a glance at her and mouthed the word “traitor.”

“After I got Bri settled inside, I was going to return to the office, and my car wouldn’t start. I called Bruce to come over and diagnose the problem, but…she’s really sick. He has to take her in.” Courtney Bellamy looked as though tears might be a real possibility.

Marissa turned her head and covered her mouth to hide the grin. She looked back and addressed Olivia.

“Please excuse our family. We’re not usually this scatterbrained and dysfunctional. And we usually care more about our sick children than our sick cars.” Before Olivia could tell her they were all just fine, Bruce chimed in.

“Look up ‘dysfunctional’ in Webster’s and you’ll find our family portrait.” Marissa popped a clenched fist on one hip and shot back.

“Don’t you have little children to scare or people to annoy?”

“Yes, and here I am!”

“Problem child!”

“Diva!”

“Yeti!”

“Smurfette!”

Olivia heard someone join her in the laughter, but when she glanced at Courtney, his eyes were full of love and fixed on his wife. Olivia stepped around Marissa and looked down at Rena, who had dissolved into a fit of laughter. She clutched her bag of snacks with one hand and her stomach with the other. Olivia’s heart melted at the sight. She then noticed Courtney had stepped behind his wife, sliding his hand around her waist. Rena was still laughing when he softly said, “Once they get started, they won’t stop until Rena laughs.” He kissed his wife behind the ear while giving the thumbs up to his cousin.

Olivia was taken aback. Most of what she’d just witnessed was a performance purely for Rena’s benefit. She was so glad she had not prejudged these people and admonished herself for any negative thoughts she may have had about them. These were good, loving people who were just living life. Parents and kids get sick and cars break down, but it didn’t distract them enough that they didn’t have time for a little girl who was…at least temporarily…an orphan. Although Olivia was sure the Bellamys and Averests must have had a pretty strong friendship for Courtney and Marissa to take Rena in, she felt this family would probably help any child in need. Olivia followed as Marissa pushed Rena into the house, but something made her stop and look over in Bruce’s direction. He was still standing there, hands in pockets, focused on her. Shaking her head, she smiled at him, which caused him to throw a big toothy grin back at her.

Marissa had cleared the doorway and Courtney held the door for Olivia. When she walked past him, he touched her arm lightly and quietly said, “He’s a good guy.” Her face heated up again, but she was rescued when she heard Marissa call out to her to follow her voice to get to Rena’s room.

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meet the author

An avid reader from a very early age, Felicia would re-write the stories she read, making the women a little bit tougher. Not to outdo the men, but raised by parents who taught their six daughters to always stand up for themselves, and to always “be a lady”, Felicia has very little patience with ‘crybabies’ – female or male. Introduced to creative writing in grade school, Felicia amused herself by creating stories, poems, and song lyrics…that she never showed to anyone.

Now embracing the concept of sharing, Felicia’s first published novel, In The Best Interest of the Child” debuts in September 2016.

Felicia left the harsh winters of Michigan and now resides in Arizona with her husband of more than thirty years, who’s always trying to read over her shoulder. Their three adult children are scattered around Arizona. She is looking forward to having grandchildren, but feels she may win the lottery first…or get struck by lightning. Though she enjoys a good rain storm, Felicia no longer goes outside when it rains. She’s not taking any chances.

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Getting to know…Cat Hogan

We’re back with another instalment of Getting to Know… Today, we have Irish author Cat Hogan with us. Her novel They All Fall Down came out in July, and I’ve just added it to my TBR/1Click list. If you like novels about love and obsession, then you should do the same. Cat lives in County Wexford in Ireland with her partner Dave and her two sons Joey and Arthur, loves storytelling, and has a cat with the cool name of Jim Hawkins (I’m guessing this cat is a bit of an adventurer like his namesake in Treasure Island). So pour yourself a cup or glass of your favourite beverage, make yourself comfortable and let’s get to know Cat Hogan! 

13124599_10153655434767549_3085583176196253113_nCat, I have to tell you that I love the cover of They All Fall Down. It’s on my TBR list and I’ll probably dive into it this weekend. It sounds like my cuppa tea. So tell me, which titles are on your must-read list this year?

The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney. I can’t wait to get my hands on this. Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent. This was one of the most anticipated releases in Ireland this year. Published by Penguin in July, it didn’t disappoint. It was number one best seller for quite some time. The book certainly lived up to the promo and the hype. Liz is an exquisite writer.

There are so many amazing titles out there.

Now I am intrigued! I will have to add these titles to my TBR list as well. They All Fall Down is out and it’s getting great reviews.  Are you taking a writing vacation to recharge your creative batteries, or have you already begun working on a new book? 

At the moment, I am working on two!

Two? I’m impressed! I have a hard time concentrating on writing one book. Can you give us a sneak peek? 🙂

One of the two is a standalone and the other is a sequel (of sorts) to They All Fall Down. The plot is evolving as I go on these two- particularly the follow up, but what I can tell you is I am wandering around souks and alleyways in Marrakesh, drinking mint tea and getting up to no good.

The standalone, at the moment, revolves around a not so tough guy who’s past is about to catch up with him in a very strange sequence of events.

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Cat Hogan

Ooh! Now you’ve got me hooked. I’ll probably start bugging you about your writing progress so I know when they’ll be launching! Now, I think every writer has a favourite place to write. Where is yours? Do you write at home or do you go to a local café or someplace like that?

My current hide away for writing is in my local library. I don’t have the luxury of an office space and trying to write at the kitchen table with my two boys running around, is not always conducive to creativity. I usually end up running around with them- an avoidance technique. The library in my home county of Wexford is a beautiful space and the staff are all fantastic. It’s a community.

So what’s your typical writing day like?

A routine for me is hard to achieve. My older boy, Joey (11), returned to school last week and Baby Arthur(3), has just started in Montessori. This frees me up and I go straight to the library until about 2pm. After that, I come home and do the Mammy thing for the afternoon. I pick up the writing again when my boys are asleep. It doesn’t always pan out like this but I tend not to stress over it either.

I know what you mean. I’ve been trying to fit my writing time around my work schedule and it’s not always easy. If I’m having a hard time writing, I end up working on an inspiration board to help me visualise the characters and settings. What about you? Do you look for images of actors or actresses as inspiration for your lead characters, or do you find inspiration elsewhere?

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Aidan Gillen

When I wrote They All Fall Down, I pictured Aidan Gillen’s face for Scott. It’s funny, the initial inspiration for me comes from location and sometimes a lyric in a song but when you hit a certain point in the story, the characters take over and tell the story for you.

I think a lot of people have this idea that being a writing is easy, and we both know it’s not. What do you think is the most difficult part of being a writer? How do you deal with it?

The most difficult part for me is trying to establish a writing routine around my boys and home life. The process happened very quickly for me. I finished the first draft in June 2015 and by November,I had a two book publishing deal. They All Fall Down was released in July- meaning lots of promo and events. Book 2 is due back with the publishers this month!! It’s a real juggling act.

What is your favorite part of being a writer? 

The freedom. The idea that you can be anything or go anywhere in the world while sitting at your desk. I always loved reading and writing, from the time I was a small child, but the reality was, I never really knew what I wanted to do with my life. Two degrees and my own business later, the penny finally dropped.

Last question: what was the best piece of writing advice you ever received?

Just keep writing. Write the book you want to write, and believe in yourself.

Thanks so much to Cat Hogan for joining us today! Make sure you add They All Fall Down to your TBR or 1click it today. Don’t forget to connect with Cat on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads