Review: The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo

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

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Preorder Blitz

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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

3 reviews for Rebecca Hunter’s Stockholm Diaries series

Stockholm Diaries, Caroline (Stockholm Diaries #1)Stockholm Diaries, Caroline by Rebecca Hunter

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I stumbled upon the Stockholm Diaries–Amazon recommended it to me since I’ve written two novels and a novella set in Scandinavia–and am I glad I listened to them. The Stockholm Diaries: Caroline is a great love story about a young American expat trying to figure out what she wants in life and a Swedish former NHL hockey player trying to keep his personal and public lived separate. Fate pushes the two of them together early one morning during the magical days of Swedish summer–when the sun never properly sets and you feel like almost anything could happen.

Rebecca Hunter does a great job of capturing the attraction and passion between Caroline and Niklas. I especially loved how she wrote about Caroline’s friendship with fellow expat Veronica, with whom Caroline shares all of her secrets and fears. Hunter excels at describing Stockholm and the city becomes more than just a setting. It becomes a character as well.

I loved reading the Stockholm Diaries and I can’t wait to read the rest of the series!

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Stockholm Diaries, Caroline 2Stockholm Diaries, Caroline 2 by Rebecca Hunter

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After reading the first book in the Stockholm Diaries series, I absolutely had to read Book 2. Now we catch up with Caroline and Niklas at the tail end of their travels and real life is looming before them. For Caroline, it means finally deciding if she’ll go back to Stockholm with Niklas or stay in Detroit for a while and try to make a name for herself as a travel photographer. For Niklas, it’s about either staying in Detroit to play for the Red Wings (even though he’s not really so keen on the idea of returning to the team after allegation that he’d abused a woman when in reality it was one of his teammates who was the culprit, but it would mean he and Caroline could be together) or returning to Sweden to play for Djurgården, his former hockey team who’ve offered him a one-year contract.

Throughout the book, we see the struggle both Caroline and Niklas are having with trying to have a life together in Detroit. Her ex- is there and he’s a nasty piece of work. And being back in Detroit suddenly has Caroline feeling like she cannot be the person she wants to be. But she is afraid to take the plunge and leave the security of what she knows. Niklas, on the other hand, is willing to do whatever it takes for them to be together, but he wants to know that Caroline is all-in. And sometimes it feels like she isn’t, which plays into his insecurities.

I really like how this series shows the pitfalls of being in a multicultural relationship as well as what’s so wonderful about it. I also like how Rebecca has created an alpha male in Niklas without turning him into an asshole. I *really* hate this alpha male as jerk trend. I don’t care how good they are in bed, a jerk is a jerk. And Niklas is NOT a jerk. I also found Caroline’s fear of giving herself to Niklas completely to be believable. She has had such a sheltered life–with her parents trying to make decisions for her, then Brad taking over her life and making her set aside her dreams, so it’s understandable that she is afraid of the same thing happening with Niklas.

I missed more of Stockholm in this story, but I knew it would mostly take place in Michigan. Really enjoyed this story and it was wonderful to see Caroline and Niklas come full circle. Now I wonder if they’ll go to Mexico together, to meet her family there. 🙂

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Stockholm Diaries, Melanie (Stockholm Diaries, #3)Stockholm Diaries, Melanie by Rebecca Hunter

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Rebecca Hunter has succeeded again in capturing Stockholm summers, this time focusing her attention on the archipelago, the group of islands in the Baltic Sea to which Stockholmers love to escape from the city. This time, we focus on American Melanie, who is writing a biography of her father–a famous Swedish poet who has been a mystery to her since he left her life when she as a child–and Henrik, a very handsome Swede who happens to have his own connection to her father and an aversion to relationships.

I really loved how, despite the attraction Melanie and Henrik feel for one another almost from the very beginning of the story, they try to maintain a professional relationship (since he’s helping her with translating her father’s journals from Swedish to English). But the pull between them is just too much for either to ignore and the island isn’t really big enough to justify keeping their distance. Melanie and Henrik’s story is intriguing and very sexy–very hot scenes between the two of them and my favourite takes place in the tiny cabin of his boat. I also loved how Melanie was determined to find out why her father left her life when she was so young, even if she knew that she might not like the answers she’d find.

Another winner! So happy to have found another writer writing about Americans finding love in Scandinavia! 😀

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Blog Tour: Open Your Heart by Stacy-Deanne

Open Your Heart

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Book Title:Open Your Heart
Author:Stacy-Deanne
Genre:Interracial/BWWM
Release Date:January 12, 2016
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions

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book blurb

When British playwright Stefan returns to Chicago to get back with his ex-lover Dana, he is shocked to meet her twin sister Tess who informs him that Dana died a year earlier. Though Stefan is distraught about Dana, Tess mesmerizes him and he vows to get closer to the beautiful, black psychologist.

Because she does not trust him, Tess does her best to fight her attraction for Stefan but loses the battle. Before she realizes it, Stefan has swept her up into a wild affair full of kinky trysts that pushes Tess physically, emotionally, and mentally.

Even though they try to keep things sexual, Stefan and Tess end up in love but will see that it is much easier to share a bed than to open your heart.

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meet the author

Stacy-Deanne (Dee-Anne) is an award-winning author of sweet to sensual romantic suspense, contemporary romance, and women’s fiction books. She’s written Amazon Top 100 bestsellers, and her work has been praised and reviewed in USA Today numerously. She loves writing stories that focus on main characters who rarely get the spotlight such as characters with physical disabilities, mental illness, and terminal diseases.

With Stacy every book is an adventure.

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Book Blitz: Temtped to Touch by Nigeria Lockley

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SYNOPSIS

Kira Seagram is frustrated by her husband Mason’s zeal for the Lord, so she pours all of her attention into her work and reserves her soprano singing skills for the shower. Kira would rather not use them if she get can’t the adoration and recognition she feels she deserves and doubts she’ll find singing lead for Mason’s choir. When a routine drop off at her son, Nate’s private school turns into a ten-year reunion with her ex-boyfriend, Quincy McAdams, Kira isn’t interested in Mason’s half-hearted affection or willing to keep her voice to herself. With a firm offer from Quincy to help Kira cut a demo and possibly revive the love they let die, Kira has some choices to make. When Kira finds herself tempted to touch will she remain faithful to her husband or yield to the desires of her flesh?

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Pre-order your paperback copy ofTempted to Touch from Inheritance Books and receive a 20% and an autographed copy. 

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GET TO KNOW NIGERIA LOCKLEY

lockley_author-photoI just wanted to write this story that was in my head. A passion project. At least that was what I thought. About a month after I started writing Tempted… I kept hearing the protagonist’s voice directly—like she wanted to tell the story herself. But I didn’t want her to. I found myself fighting with the first person.
I share just about everything I do. I’m a reality TV star without a show. However, I do have a blog. When I found myself at a writing halt, I voiced my struggle my blog, The Neophyte Author and tried to run away from the first person narrator even after my sister-author-friend, Unoma Nwankwor told me I could do it. The running stopped once I received a phone call from the one and only Michelle Stimpson—author, educator, and my unofficial mentor (I dubbed her my mentor in head, but that’s another story). She’s written over twenty books and more than half of them are in first person. Michelle was kind enough to walk me through her decision to write her first novel, Boaz Brown, in first person. It was very natural and easy f her during that instance because she and the protagonist of Boaz Brown shared a lot of the same issues.
Instantly I knew why I no longer had a passion for my passion project. Kira was me and I was Kira. Married and in trouble. When I began Tempted to Touch, my husband and I were in this awful and icky place that is usually filled with cussing and drink throwing on reality TV. Since I’m Christian it was filled with a lot of “Satan I rebuke you” and “The devil is a liar”. I realized then that I would be writing my unhappiness. That wasn’t something I felt comfortable with at the same time I knew that Tempted to Touch was a story that needed to be told. Of course, to keep things on the up and up between my husband and I embellished a bit and gave the characters issues to fight about that were slightly different from ours. Regardless of the changes, I believe that I’ve found healing in certain areas of my marriage and I know that God will use this story to help other women find some healing in their marriage.

AUTHOR BIO

Nigeria Lockley possesses two Master’s degrees, one in English Secondary Education, which she utilizes as an educator with the New York City Department of Education. Her second Master’s degree is in Creative Writing. Born at Dawn is Nigeria’s first published novel. Nigeria serves as the Vice President of Bridges Family Services, a not-for-profit organization that assists student parents interested in pursuing a degree in higher education. She is also the deaconess and clerk for her spiritual home King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Church of God. Nigeria is a New York native who resides in Harlem with her husband and two daughters. Join her online at www.NigeriaLockley.com.

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Book Review: Brunch at Ruby’s by DL White

Screen Shot 2015-06-11 at 09.55.15DL White has done it: written a wonderful book about friendship and all its foibles in such a way that you don’t want the book to end. In Brunch at Ruby’s, we meet lifelong friends Debra, Renee and Maxine when all three are a crossroads in their lives: Maxine is convinced she’s met Mr. Right (based on standards her mother has instilled in her since her youth–wealthy and cultured and above her station), Debra has been caught in a clinch with her lover and the shit is about to hit the fan at the school where she’s principal (especially since her lover is the Athletic Director at the school) and Renee is struggling to deal with her father and his quickly declining case of dementia.

White takes us through the highs and lows of the women’s lives in alternating points of view and does so with a deft hand. There is NO head-hopping here; instead, we have confidently drawn characters whose voices are unique and whose storylines are differentiated enough that we understand all the time whose story we’re following. This pleases me as there are far too many books out there told from alternating POV in which less confident authors jump from head to head mid-paragraph and end up confusing readers.

What I love about Brunch at Ruby’s is that DL White has taken everyday life and made it so compelling that you don’t want to put the book down. This is a story every woman can relate to–the ups and downs of friendships, marriage problems, dealing with ageing parents–and it does so without becoming maudlin or predictable. Loved this book! Looking forward to DL White’s next release!

My rating?

5_Star

Book Review: Chasing Athens by Marissa Tejada

Chasing Athens CoverWhat would you do if the man you loved convinced you to move to another country with him, then left you there while he was working and playing away, only to have him return and announce he doesn’t want to be married to you anymore? That’s the dilemma facing Ava Martin, a small-town girl from a college town in Upstate New York, at the beginning of Marissa Tejada‘s Chasing Athens.

When we meet Ava, she is lost, trying to figure out what went wrong in her marriage as she navigates the beauty and chaos that is modern-day Athens. The Athens Ava encounters is not the picture-perfect version on the glossy pages of a travel magazine–it is a city roiling in chaos thanks to the dire Greek economic crisis, a city of violent protests and random strikes–yet even with all of the unrest, Ava and her friends Nikos and Eleni go out in the evenings for bouzoukia, dancing and drinking into the wee hours and enjoying their lives. All three are trying to find someone–Nikos is always on the lookout for pretty exotic (for him) girls whom he tries to charm with the foreign phrases he’s learned, Eleni puts on a hard-to-get facade as she weeds out the men who don’t meet her standards and Ava tries to find away to forget Greg, the husband who has left her.

As Ava explores Athens and the Greek islands, she also begins a journey of self-discovery. Her entire life has been a series of other people setting sail for her–she has never been the captain of her own destiny. Now, with Greg out of her life and her overprotective mother across the ocean in Ithaca, New York, Ava has the chance to make her own choices and mistakes and learn from them. As she traverses the dating world with many love in translation moments,

Chasing Athens is a fantastic story of heartbreak, self-discovery and finding love again. I really loved how Marissa depicted Athens so that it came alive for the reader. I haven’t been to Athens since the late 1990s but reading Chasing Athens rekindled within me all those memories of the city, of Piraeus and the islands.  What I also loved about this novel is how real Ava’s struggle felt. She is not a two-dimensional character and her honesty and naiveté after so many years of having others dictate her life ring true. She struggles, she is frustrated, she does dumb things without becoming a character we pity. Instead, we empathize because we’ve all–at some point or another–slept with the wrong man, been embarrassed on public transportation or dealt with a catty rival who tramples on our self-confidence.

Ava’s friends are another plus for Chasing Athens. Nikos and Eleni’s spontaneity and optimism (even in the face of the looming political and economic crisis in Greece) keep Ava buoyant, especially in the early days of her separation from Greg. And their unwavering support makes me wish I had them in my life too! 🙂 And then there is the Greek George Clooney…well, I won’t give anything away, since I think you should read the book.

I also love that Marissa delves into the cultural differences Ava encounters and shows us how her horizons are expanding for every day she remains in Athens. This is an American Abroad novel that really shows us what everyday life is like for an expat as they try to learn a new language, a new culture and its unwritten rules. And as a fellow expat, I can relate to Ava’s predicaments and the worries she has while trying to live in Athens.

So if you’re looking for something to read this autumn that will instantly transport you to Athens–no passport required–and you love chick lit and romantic fiction as much as I do, then you should add Chasing Athens to your To Be Read List on Goodreads. Better yet–buy it and read it now to keep that summer feeling strong within you. You may find yourself wondering why you haven’t taken the chance and moved to Greece to have your own adventure!

Intrigued? Then find out more about Marissa Tejada and her writing by connecting with her on Twitter, FacebookGoodreads and Instagram.

My rating? 

5_Star