Author Interview

New and Debut: Liz Jacobs

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My guest in today's New and Debut is the loveliest Liz Jacobs, debut author with Brain Mills Press. her book Abroad, mm NA romance, is coming out on June 27. It's book 1 in a series of 2 and I'm super excited to read it. Come meet Liz, learn what inspires her to write and what stories you can expect from her. There is also an excerpt from Abroad at the end of the post, so make sure you read that too.




Meet Liz

1. Tell us about yourself and why did you decide to become a romance writer?

I have been writing since I've been a kid, and mostly, it has been romances, whether I knew it or not. When I was thinking about how best to tell this particular story, which is so personal to me, it only clicked together when I realized it was a romance. At the time that I started it, I was very new to romance as a genre, but I figured out very quickly that romance was an exceptional way to tackle tough subjects and make them hopeful. Now, especially, romance is important because of that hope, and if I can feel hope through other's writing and maybe give hope through my own, I will be very happy. I love romance as a genre, and will defend it with my entire being.

2. Can you share some of your favourite books and authors?

Oh Gosh, where do I start? My favorite book of all time is Jamie O'Neill's At Swim, Two Boys. At the time I read it, I was reading all the queer lit I could get my hands on, and it was sort of a defining one for me, personally. It's not the easiest read, but it's incredibly engrossing and all-encompassing. Most people I know who have read it, have felt a sort of hangover afterwards. It's a truly incredible work. I have four copies at home. I am not kidding about that.

As far as romance authors, my current favorites are KJ Charles, Alexis Hall, Roan Parrish, Santino Hassell, Harper Fox, and oh man, probably more, but let's leave it there for now. These are my "will 1-click even the craziest premise" authors. KJ Charles' A Society of Gentlemen is probably the greatest histrom work I've read to date. Alexis Hall's Prosperity is just a staggeringly beautiful book--it gave me the same hangover that At Swim, Two Boys did, which is an impressive feat! I mean, I could go on. These are such amazing authors, and all so very unique. 

3. Who/what do you consider your writing influence/inspiration?

Recently, I've definitely counted KJ Charles as an inspiration--I think she is a master at storytelling, pulling back when needed, really not pulling a punch when necessary. She has this amazing ability to hit your solar plexus right when you were getting comfortable, and I admire that so much. Her use of language is so precise, too. Roan Parrish's prose is stunning, and she has such a clarity to her thinking and writing--I'm a ridiculous fan, and take a lot of lessons from her writing, even if I am not always able to replicate them.

I would also count Mary Renault as a big influence. The Charioteer is my favorite of her books, and every now and then I reread it and marvel at her subtlety, her precise language. She is someone who will lure you in, hook you, and then emotionally shred you very quietly. Just marvelous.

4. What kind of stories can the readers expect from you (contemporary/historical/sci-fi, adult/NA/YA, etc)?

All of the above? Okay, maybe not sci-fi--I admire anyone who can write sci-fi, or deep fantasy, but it's definitely not my strong suit. But I'm planning a few YA works, I'm deep into writing a queer historical, and I have a few contemporary ideas on the backburner. I have no idea if that's a smart thing to do or not, but I love immersing myself in different worlds (as long as I don't have to make them up out of whole cloth) and writing in different styles. I can't imagine being able to settle for just one, at least not yet. So, yeah. Definitely all of the above.

5. Please, introduce your latest/upcoming release.

ABROAD: Book One is the first in a contemporary NA duology. It deals with immigration, identity, and in what we do when we don't fit into the world we were born into, or a world we have been forced to flee to, or just a world where your identity is flat-out denied. It tackles queerness, and friendship, and love, and family. It's a very personal book in a way that feels intimidating to me, because Nick and his story is so obviously based on my own, even if it takes a different turn. Mostly, I just wanted to write a story that I had not read before, and explore things I have only ever really thought about, and rarely been able to describe.

I have been told that, despite all of this, it's a fun book, too, so here is my elevator pitch: a fun book
tackling heavy subjects! Because if you can't laugh, you will cry. And I sort of hope readers do both, because I'm a little bit sadistic.


Title: ABROAD: Book One
Author: Liz Jacobs

Publisher: Brain Mill Press
Release Date (Print & Ebook): June 27th wide release; early access June 17th
Purchase links: BMP / Amazon

Blurb

Nick, a Russian-Jewish immigrant living in America, doesn't know where he belongs. Socially anxious, intensely private, and closeted, he feels like a collection of disparate parts. When he goes to study abroad in the UK, he is forced to be honest with himself for the first time. If only he can speak to other people without wanting to throw up.

Dex knows exactly who he is: a black queer guy who doesn't give a toss what anybody thinks of him. He's got his friends, his family, a glittering future. All right, he also has a bit of a broken heart that he's been nursing for a while, but he is absolutely, one hundred percent, totally fine. Apart, maybe, from his family's abrupt move to an affluent, largely white town. Or his younger brother feeling increasingly isolated as a result. Or that persistent broken heart.

When Nick and Dex meet, both find themselves intrigued--and afraid. The last thing Nick wants is to face his deepest secret. The last thing Dex needs is another heartache. But through endless late night talks, both find it harder and harder to resist the terrifying pull of attraction.

But Dex has had to fight too hard for his right to be where he is; Nick isn’t even sure where he’s from. So how can either of them tell where this is going?



Author Bio and Links

Liz Jacobs came over with her family from Russia at the age of 11, as a Jewish refugee. All in all, her life has gotten steadily better since that moment. They settled in an ultra-liberal haven in the middle of New York State, which sort of helped her with the whole “grappling with her sexuality” business.

She has spent a lot of her time flitting from passion project to passion project, but writing remains her constant. She has flown planes, drawn, made jewelry, had an improbable internet encounter before it was cool, and successfully wooed the love of her life in a military-style campaign. She has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize for her essay on her family’s experience with immigration.

She currently lives with her wife in Massachusetts, splitting her time between her day job, writing, and watching a veritable boatload of British murder mysteries.


Excerpt 

Nick felt liquid, fuzzy-headed and lovely. He was ridiculously pleased with his current life choices. Pleased that he had successfully danced at a club without anyone pointing at him and laughing, pleased that he'd been able to dance with Natali and not flip out.
       "Ohhh my God, I am fucking knackered."
       Nick jolted and looked over to where Izzy had slunk up next to him. Her hair was a wild mess around her head, her top falling off one shoulder. Her bra strap looked red, but it might have been the spotlights messing with him. When he looked beyond her, he caught sight of Dex making his way over to them through the throng.
       He looked...glowy. It was strange to think that, probably, and maybe everyone looked glowy to Nick just then, but he appeared relaxed and happy and just a little rumpled and sweaty. Not like Nick, who was a soggy mess. Nick tipped his head back against the wall and took a sip of his drink. Dex had great legs, he decided. Slightly bowed, steady, long. Lean. His jeans looked really good on him.
       "Having a good time? I thought I saw you dancing with Nat," Izzy said in his ear.
       "Yeah, it's been awesome." He made eye contact. "Thanks for getting me."
       She looked pleased with herself. "Anytime." She caught Dex by the hand and pulled him into her sweaty embrace.
       Now that Nick knew they weren't together, he felt a little...he supposed it was envy, really. He had never felt easy with anyone, not even Lena. Maybe with his sister, but that was different; that was family. They looked so comfortable, Dex sagging against Izzy, dark arm wrapped around her exposed pale shoulder. Nick jumped if you touched him unexpectly. How must it feel, to trust like this? He couldn't imagine. So he just watched them and pushed down anything that could darken his mood. He could feel how a stray thought could pop his temporary joy, and he skated carefully around it, closed his eyes, pretended he was still dancing.
       "All right, I'm going back out," Izzy declared. "There was a dark-headed bloke over there somewhere I needed to look at more closely." She took off without another word. When Nick turned to Dex, Dex was laughing. He had one hand over his dreads, probably in an attempt to keep them out of his face. It made him look rakish.       
       He caught Nick's gaze. "Don't expect to see Izzy much if you go clubbing with her. This is her MO."
       Nick had absolutely no problem with that, which he felt, just then, the need to acknowledge. "I have no problem with that."
       "As long as you know what's in store." Dex settled next to Nick like Nick didn't set his teeth on edge. Maybe he was mellowing out.
       "Are you mellowing out?" Nick asked and then heard a record scratch in his head. Oh shit. When he dared to glance over at Dex, Dex was laughing, head resting against the wall.
       "I so deserved that, man," he said. "Look, I've been a dickhead to you, completely inadvertently, and--" Nick's heart beat hard in his chest. "It wasn't you. At all." He pinned Nick with a look. A look that shivered through Nick's spine. "Basically, I wanted to apologize for that. I'm going to be less of a dickhead from now on. Promise."
       Nick had no idea what to say. All he could think was how Dex's eyelashes were ridiculous and made his eyes look made-up. How the hollow of his throat glistened with a sheen of sweat. How much Nick really, really couldn't have been having these thoughts at all because he--couldn't. It wasn't an option.
       "It's totally fine." Was what he said. "I appreciate it, anyway."  Then he nodded towards the writhing dance floor. "I'm just gonna--"
       "Yeah, sure, go." Dex nodded and plucked at his own t-shirt, unsticking it from his body in an easy movement.
       Nick didn't linger. He ran off.

Contemporary Romance

Review: Baby, Come Back by Molly O'Keefe

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Title: Baby, Come Back (Bad Boy Romance #2)
Author: Molly O'Keefe
Genre/Themes: Contemporary romance
Release Date: 01 May 2017

Add on Goodreads
Author's links: Website / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads

My rating: 4 stars

Blurb

A MAN WITH NOTHING LEFT TO LOSE

I sold my soul a long time ago to pay my father’s debts. Now my life is a prison: no friends. No family. Nothing it would hurt to lose.

I never should’ve touched Abby. I tried not to, but she is beautiful, magnetic, sexy. Everything I want but can't let myself have.

UNTIL HE MET HER

She seduced me not knowing who I was or what I really do in the shadows. I should have resisted her, but I wanted to be the man Abby thought I was for as long as I could.

But all debts must be paid, sooner or later. And mine are paid with blood.

Now Abby knows who I am, what I am, and she’s run from me.

I would have let her go for her own good. But when I find out she’s carrying my baby — there’s nowhere she can hide.

Review 

I wasn't sure about this book,secret baby is my least favorite trope nut I quite enjoyed the first book and I trust Molly O'keefe to pull off an amazing secret baby romance, and she really did. What a powerful and moving story that turned out to be.

Baby, Come Back was not what I expected and I loved it, especially the first half so, so much. It's the before section of the story, where we get to meet Abby and Jack. Told from her POV we see a stunningly beautiful girl who knows how valuable her looks are and uses them to the fullest. She is not the smart, independent, all-knowing, perfect woman we all want to be. Quite the opposite, she is someone who made many mistakes in her life, works as a glorified waitress, uses her charms and seduces men. Yet, behind all this was just a girl with big dreams. Who fell head-over-heels for the wrong guy. And who did what she thought was best - ran away from him.

Jack was totally not who I expected him to be based on Charlotte's and Jesse's view of him. He is more complex, very much like his brother, a good boy at heard, who plays the bad boy persona the circumstances had forced on him. 

What I really love in Molly O'Keefe's stories is how she shows us that things aren't always what they seem to be on the surface. Her characters always have so much depth to them, layers and layers hidden from the rest of the world and the readers discovers them one by one during the characters journey to HEA.

While the before part of the story just blew my mind, the after part, was more predictable, still sweet and nice but less explosive and intense than the first. It was a hard-won HEA for the characters. Things got talked through, secrets were revealed and everyone came clean in order to start their life together a fresh. 

Pregnancy/baby stories are not my thing but I liked how this one was done, it didn't take all the focus of the story and didn't act as a miracle cure for all mistakes. It had an important role and I felt it fitted the whole story and character development rather well.

The story has the happiest HEA, a bit too perfect but both Abby and Jack and Charlotte and Jesse deserved it after all the hardships life threw their way. If you are hesitant to pick this series, I can strongly recommend it. What you will find in it is powerful writing, complex characters who feel like real people with their strengths and weakness, just enough drama and hot sexy times.

Purchase Link: Amazon

Penny Reid

Review: Dating-ish by Penny Reid

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Title: Dating-ish (Knitting in the City #6)
Author: Penny Reid
Publication Date: 16 May 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Humour, Romance

Author's links: BlogTwitterFacebookGoodreads
Add to Goodreads

My rating: 5 Stars

Blurb

There are three things you need to know about Marie Harris: 
1) She’s fed up with online dating, 
2) She’s so fed up, she’s willing to forego the annoyance and consider more creative alternatives, and 
3) She knows how to knit.

After the most bizarre and irritating first date in the history of human kind, Marie is looking for an alternative to men. With the help of her friends, she quickly identifies a few possibilities:

Need a cuddle? Use a professional cuddler. Need affirmation? Get yourself a life coach. Need an orgasm? Try orgasm meditation! Why does she need the hassle of a romantic partner when she can meet all her needs with paid services?
But then her irritating date resurfaces. And he’s not at all the person she thought he was. And he suggests a different—and crazier—solution to her dilemma . . .
As everyone knows (or will soon come to realize), traditional relations between humans are a thing of the past. Robots are our future. And if robots are our future, then why do we need other people at all?

Review

I'm a huge fan of Penny Reid and have been reading and loving her books ever since she released her debut romcom Neanderthal Seeks Human back in 2013. Her stories, though contemporary romance and quite realistic in some aspects, are also so wildly imaginative and full of unexpected fun and curious facts that I always find myself utterly delighted reading them. She takes her readers on crazy fun rides with every story she writes and this one was no exception.

Penny Reid creates romances that weird and awkward and geeky but mostly so much fun and some deep meaningful social commentary hidden behind all the hilarity.

The hero in Dating-ish, Matt, is a robotics engineer hero, delightfully socially awkward, with hidden sex appeal and domineering streak. He was so certain and confident in the things he knew and (he thought ) understood, but he was genuinely perplexed by the things that didn't fit his neat view of the universe. And of these things was Marie. And he got totally enthralled by her. 

As much I loved Matt, I want to give Penny Reid special thanks for writing Marie, the quiet, loyal friend that far too often fades in the background. People often fail to see her, even her friends, yet they all rely on her in times of trouble. She is strong, independent, efficient, deeply romantic, looking for her perfect match. I really liked how unafraid she was to try new things, to go after her dreams, unwilling to settle for less.

The plot involves more than the usual share of crazy shenanigans: professional cuddling, orgasm meditation and dry humping and wow, it was totally hilarious.

On a more personal note, I want to mention the subplot with Janie and Fiona's pregnancies. It was so good and uplifting for me to see how different they can be for every woman. There was no judgement, no shaming and it made me so happy to read it considering pregnancy/baby stories almost never work for me.

This is a slow-burn romance, Matt took his sweet time to act because of his own self doubt.We get glimpses of the past that shaped him and through the story we see him move past it, overcome the burdens and scars it left on him and though it still affects his world view, he is smart enough not to let it rule his life completely, determine his future. In a way he reminded me of Cletus, so confident and sure of himself, of his purpose, yet things change for him, slowly, change sneaks up on him, opening new possibilities for him, leading him to the happiness he desperately craved. 

I'm sure I have missed a lot of important points in this amazing romance. It touches on so many things and all of them important - online dating, and new technologies and family and friends and the nature of love and attraction and how to trust someone, to rely on them without losing yourself  and ..., in short, it's wonderful and fun and you should just read it!


Antonia Aquilate

New and Debut: Antonia Aquilante

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My guest in today's New and Debut feature is Antonia Aquilante, author of the mm fantasy series Chronicles of Tournai, published by Dreamspinner Press. Come meet her and learn about the inspiration behind her stories and what's next for her. There is also a short excerpt from her latest release, The Sorcerer's Guardian at the end of the post.


Meet Antonia

1. Tell us about yourself and why did you decide to become a romance writer?

Thank you so much for having me today! I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing—or at least coming up with stories. When I was little, I would draw them or act them out with my dolls. I decided I would be an author when I was in middle school. We had a short story writing assignment, and I turned in 60 pages. I never stopped writing, though it took me a long time to seriously pursue publication. As for romance, I think I always wanted to write romance too. No matter what I wrote, someone fell in love and lived happily ever after. I started reading romance when I was about twelve and realized not long after that I was writing it too.

2.  Can you share some of your favourite books and authors?

I could talk all day about favorite books and authors! I’ll try not to go for that long, though. Here are some favorites: Jordan L Hawk (especially the Whyborne & Griffin series), K.J. Charles (I don’t think I can pick a favorite!), Lisa Kleypas (Devil in Winter is one of my favorite historicals of all time), Avon Gale (her Scoring Chances series, especially Power Play), Rhys Ford (especially her Sinners series), Heidi Cullinan (Love Lessons), Joanna Chambers (her Enlightenment trilogy), Tessa Dare (A Week to be Wicked is so good). I’ve also recently read Peter Darling by Austin Chant and The Lawrence Browne Affair by Cat Sebastian and loved them.

3. Who/what do you consider your writing influence/inspiration?

My inspiration comes from everywhere—things I see or hear or read and then my mind somehow puts them together and presents me with characters or story ideas. I find travel so inspiring. I love seeing and learning about new places, immersing myself in the history and culture. I always come home (reluctantly!) with so many new ideas. I wish I had the budget to travel all the time.

4. What kind of stories can the readers expect from you (contemporary/historical/sci-fi, adult/NA/YA, etc)?

So far, all of my books are adult fantasy romance, but I’m working on a contemporary too, so thought I love fantasy romance and fantasy worlds, I’m sure that isn’t all I’ll write. All of my books are really romantic and emotional and always end in happily ever after.

5. Please, introduce your latest/upcoming release.

The Chronicles of Tournai series is fantasy romance, set in the fantasy world of Tournai, a place of magic and legend. Each book stands alone with a complete plot and romance with happily ever after. They’re full of magic, romance, and intrigue. The latest book, The Sorcerer’s Guardian, came out in November. It’s the story of a sorcerer sent on a mission for the prince and the soldier sent to protect him. They clash and are attracted and ultimately fall in love while working to protect their country. The next book is in edits now and should be out in September (and it has dragons in it!).

The Sorcerer’s Guardian Buy Links: 

Blurb

Savarin, the most powerful sorcerer in Tournai, has honed his Talent through years of study and made magic his life. Among the wealthy and noble circles he moves in, no one would suspect the handsome, refined, and arrogant sorcerer’s humble beginnings, which is how Savarin prefers it. Tournai’s princes task Savarin with studying and strengthening the spells that protect the principality from magical attack. They are complex, centuries old, and exactly the type of puzzle Savarin is eager to solve. To his annoyance, the princes insist Loriot accompanies him.

Loriot worked his way up the ranks of the royal guard to captain and takes pride in his service. He must obey the princes’ orders to protect Savarin, despite believing his skills would be best used elsewhere. And despite his wariness of magic. UnTalented himself, he has learned not only the benefits of magic but also its potential for harm—and how to counter it. Loriot and Savarin clash during their journey, but there’s another reason for the tension between them, and passion develops into feelings neither expected. But Savarin must still fortify Tournai’s magical barrier, and his only solution endangers both him and the royal family.

Author Bio and Links

Antonia Aquilante has been making up stories for as long as she can remember, and at the age of twelve, decided she would be a writer when she grew up. After many years and a few career detours, she has returned to that original plan. Her stories have changed over the years, but one thing has remained consistent - they all end in happily ever after.

She has a fondness for travel (and a long list of places she wants to visit and revisit), taking photos, family history, fabulous shoes, baking treats which she shares with friends and family, and of course reading. She usually has at least two books started at once and never goes anywhere without her Kindle. Though she is a convert to ebooks, she still loves paper books the best, and there are a couple thousand of them residing in her home with her.

Born and raised in New Jersey, she is living there again after years in Washington, DC, and North Carolina for school and work. She enjoys being back in the Garden State but admits to being tempted every so often to run away from home and live in Italy.

She is a member of the Romance Writers of America, the New Jersey Romance Writers, and the Rainbow Romance Writers.



  
Excerpt

The sound of water splashing came from the other side of the screen, followed by a long sigh. He could picture Savarin stepping into the tub, but he shouldn’t. He turned back to his boots and wrestled them off one by one, dropping them beside Savarin’s. As the splashing from the bath continued, he fought with the rest of his sodden clothes, undoing ties and buttons to remove each layer. He dropped the clothing on the floor and was mildly surprised at how much water remained in it. It pooled around the growing pile of wet fabric. 

His skin was damp and clammy, and he shivered even though the room was warm. Grabbing the towel from the corner of the screen, he dried himself off. More noise came from the other side of the screen, water being poured into water. 

“The tub is full for you, Loriot,” Savarin called. 

“Thank you.” He wrapped the towel around his waist and gathered his wet clothes from the floor, now puddled with water. When he came out from behind the screen, he found Savarin in the bath, his knees sticking out of the water because his legs were far too long for the tub. It would have been funny seeing the elegant sorcerer scrunched up in the too-small tub if it wasn’t for Loriot’s uncomfortable awareness of Savarin being naked. 

Savarin didn’t seem to have the same problem. 

The maid was back, replenishing their supply of towels and gathering the used ones. She reached for the clothing in his arms. “I’ll take those from you, sir.” 

He relinquished them into her hold. “I’m afraid we’ve made something of a mess. The floor is quite wet from the clothes, and us.” 

“I’ll mop everything up, sir.” She bobbed another quick curtsy and left with the wet clothing and towels, shutting the door behind her. 

Left him alone with Savarin, who seemed to be relaxing, eyes closed, in his cramped bath. “Are you going to use the water they carried up here for you or just stand there all night?” Savarin asked suddenly. 

“I thought you were asleep, though I don’t know how you could be in there.” 

Savarin’s lips quirked into almost a smile. “It isn’t the most comfortable of tubs. The one at home is much larger. I can stretch my legs in it.” 

He didn’t need to think of whatever luxurious tub Savarin had at home or Savarin in it. Was he really expected to just bathe next to Savarin as if it was nothing? 

“Seriously, though. Are you going to use your bath? If not you could add some of the hot water to mine. But you must be cold. It’s summer but it hardly feels like it out in this storm.” Savarin still didn’t open his eyes. 

Irritation rose in Loriot at Savarin’s offhand remark, fed by irritation at his inability to ignore Savarin tonight. “And whose fault is it that we were caught out in it to begin with?” 

Savarin’s eyes flew open, and he glared at Loriot. “Excuse me? How is that my fault?” 

“You were the one taking far too long this afternoon. We would have beaten the storm here if it weren’t for that.” 

Savarin struggled to sit up straighter and twist to face Loriot but seemed to give up when he realized there was no room for him to do so. “What I was doing out there was our whole purpose for being on this journey.” 

“Yes, but then you stopped doing it to think about it and pace around. Which you could have done here and not gotten us soaked by the rain.” 

“The storm arrived far earlier than even the weatherworkers anticipated. I can’t be blamed because it caught us off guard.” 

“But if you had kept the time limit we agreed on, we might not have nearly drowned out in it,” he said through gritted teeth. 

“And now you’re just being overdramatic. We were far from drowning. We got wet.” 

“We could barely see out there! We might have wandered off the road and gotten ourselves killed.” He probably was being ridiculous, but he didn’t care. Savarin had to admit his fault in this. He couldn’t just arrogantly go about doing whatever he pleased. 

“The light I made guided us. We wouldn’t have wandered off the road.” Savarin’s eye roll sent Loriot’s irritation shooting into anger. 

“Do you not understand how dangerous that storm is?” As if to punctuate his words, thunder boomed, and he could have sworn the whole building shook. For an instant, everything froze, but the inn didn’t fall down around their ears. “Your friend warned you about how dangerous they would be. It’s why we’ve been planning so carefully. To make sure we were safely here before the storms and not trying to ride around or camp out in them.” 

“I’m quite aware of what Gemella said.” 

He stalked closer to Savarin. “Then why are you being so arrogant and ridiculous about this?” 

“Ridiculous?” Savarin’s voice went quiet, and he stood in the tub, long legs unfolding beneath him. “Did you just call me ridiculous?” 

“I see you have no objection to my calling you arrogant.”

“I’m arrogant? You need to listen to yourself. You arrogant, smug—” Loriot had no idea which of them moved first. Maybe they moved together; he didn’t know. What he did know was that one second Savarin was hurling a litany of insults at him and the next they were kissing. Only kissing was too tame a word for what they were doing. 

He and Savarin were devouring each other. 

giveaway

Release Day blitz for Dating-ish by Penny Reid

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Dating-ish, an all new standalone from the USA Today bestselling Knitting in the City romantic comedy series by Penny Reid is now LIVE!

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'Dating-ish' can be read as a standalone, is a full length 100k word novel, and is book #6 in the Knitting in the City Series.
There are three things you need to know about Marie Harris: 1) She's fed up with online dating, 2) She's so fed up, she's willing to forego the annoyance and consider more creative alternatives, and 3) She knows how to knit.
After the most bizarre and irritating first date in the history of humankind, Marie is looking for an alternative to men. With the help of her friends, she quickly identifies a few possibilities:
Need a cuddle? Use a professional cuddler. Need affirmation? Get yourself a life coach. Need an orgasm? Try orgasm meditation! Why does she need the hassle of a romantic partner when she can meet all her needs with paid services?
But then her irritating date resurfaces. And he's not at all the person she thought he was. And he suggests a different--and crazier--solution to her dilemma . . .
As everyone knows (or will soon come to realize), traditional relations between humans are a thing of the past. Robots are our future. And if robots are our future, then why do we need other people at all?
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Read Today!

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Meet Penny Reid:
Penny Reid is the USA Today Bestselling Author of the Winston Brothers and Knitting in the City series. When she’s not immersed in penning smart romances, Penny works in the biotech industry as a researcher. She’s also a full time mom to three diminutive adults, wife, daughter, knitter, crocheter, sewer, general crafter, and thought ninja. AuthorPhoto-500x500-300x300

Connect with Penny:

Twitter: @ReidRomance

Annika Martin

Release Day Blitz for Enemies Like You by Joanna Chambers and Annika Martin

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Enemies Like You by Annika Martin & Joanna Chambers is NOW LIVE! 
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They're dangerous men. Absolute enemies. And totally hot for each other. Will has never met anyone like Kit. He’s arrogant. Gorgeous. Lethal. The most expensive bodyguard money can buy. And Will can’t seem to resist him. A simple command in Kit's cut-glass accent makes Will want things he’s never wanted, do things he’s never done. Their red-hot chemistry is off the charts. Just one problem: Will has vowed to kill the billionaire that Kit is hell-bent on protecting. And Kit has secrets, too—his own reasons for sacrificing his soul, piece by painful piece, to keep one of the worst men on earth alive. This is a stand-alone contemporary M/M romance.
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They're dangerous men. Absolute enemies. And totally hot for each other. Two years ago, the men in Will’s unit were killed in an ambush because they were betrayed. Now he has a chance to go after the corrupt billionaire who sold them out. One problem: the billionaire’s bodyguard. Nobody knows what he looks like; they only know him by the trail of bodies he leaves behind. Will their passion destroy them both? Kit’s a hardened assassin who’ll do what it takes to protect his boss. But when Will moves on the billionaire at an elite party, things with Will and Kit take an unexpected—sexy—twist.
Now Kit has to convince Will to walk away--from his quest for justice, and from the red-hot passion that keeps resurfacing at the most inopportune times.

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About the Authors:
Joanna Chambers always wanted to write. In between studying, finding a proper grown up job, getting married and having kids, she spent many hours staring at blank sheets of paper and chewing pens. That changed when she rediscovered her love of romance and found her muse. Joanna's muse likes red wine, coffee and won't let Joanna clean the house or watch television.
Connect with Joanna: Twitter / Website / Facebook

Annika Martin is a NYT bestselling author who enjoys writing dirty stories about dangerous criminals and hot spies. She loves helping animals and kicking snow clumps off the bottom of cars around the streets of Minneapolis, and in her spare time she writes as the RITA award-winning author Carolyn Crane.
Connect With Annika: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Newsletter

Author Interview

New and Debut: Laura Bailo

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It's Monday again and this means time for you to meet yet another new author. I'm happy to welcome Laura Bailo to the blog today. She is a debut author with Dreamspinner Press and her novella The Sun Still Rises which is part of the World of Love series. 


Meet Laura

1. Tell us about yourself and why did you decide to become a romance writer?

Hi, I’m Laura, though if you’re reading this I guess you already know that. I’m Spanish and I mostly write things in English. As for my decision to become a romance writer, it just kind of happened? I’ve always loved reading – to the point where when my parents had to ground me when I was a kid they took my books away – and I discovered romance novels a few years ago. From then on, I was lost in their worlds. That was about the time I was coming back to writing too, and I decided to try my hand at writing something in English. The first thing I wrote was a little flash fiction story thatyou can find on my blog
(https://laurabailo.wordpress.com/2016/04/03/he-was-there-i-remember/). 
And then Dreamspinner Press issued a call for a series called World of Love, in which each book would be set in a different country. That was when the proverbial light bulb that lives above my head turned on; I could write a story set in Spain, I know the country pretty well after all. So I claimed it, and they gave me the go ahead, and a few months later, The Sun Still Rises was born. 

2. Can you share some of your favourite books and authors?

I definitely can! I’ll even restrict myself to romance and to choosing just one book from each author, so you all don’t get bored. Let’s see: I love Alexis Hall, and while I love everything he’s written, I have to say that his little nerdy book Looking for Group will always have a special place in my heart. Then there’s KJ Charles, who does historical as if she’d lived those times herself. As for a favourite book, I adored everything about An Unseen Attraction. Eli Lang’s Half is so far one of the best books I’ve read this year – and it’s a debut! Another favourite of mine is Elliot Cooper, and I keep telling him to write faster because I’ve already read everything he’s written. I particularly liked his take on zombies in My Boyfriend’s Back. Amy Rae Durreson does scary so well I sometimes feel compelled to close my eyes while reading her books. A Frost of Cares is probably my favourite of hers. I love Antonia Aquilante’s Tournai series, and if I had to choose a favourite it would be The Sorcerer’s Guardian, because of the slightly older leads. I could go on forever, but I think it’s better for you if I stop here. 

3. Who/what do you consider your writing influence/inspiration?

I honestly have no idea how to answer this. I think I learn from every book I read, and I keep picking things up here and there. I would love to be able to say one day “my style will remind you of…” but right now I can’t do that. 

As for inspiration, it can come from the wildest places. Sometimes a small sentence strikes me and I need to write a full character from it, or I can wake up with a new idea for a story. I don’t really understand how it works, but so far I’m not complaining. 

4. What kind of stories can the readers expect from you (contemporary/historical/sci-fi, adult/NA/YA, etc)?

I want to write everything! I contracted a short story with Nine Star Press for a FF anthology, and that one is paranormal and also set in Spain. Right now I’m working on a story with 17 year old MCs (asexual and bisexual boys). And then I also started a fantasy story a while ago that so far has been abandoned, but I do plan on getting back to it sooner rather than later. So I’m pretty much all over the place. 

5. Please, introduce your latest/upcoming release.

My upcoming release is also my first, and it’s called The Sun Still Rises. It’s the story of Erik, a man mourning his father that finds himself in Pamplona during the San FermΓ­n festival with nowhere to sleep. But then he meets David, who kindly offers him his guest room. The two get to know each other quite quickly, and there’s a connection between them that Erik’s not sure he wants to acknowledge. You’ll have to read it to see what happens next.

Author Bio and Links

Laura Bailo is a veterinarian and a teacher in training who can do surgical sutures but can’t sew on a button to save her life.  
She lives in Spain with far too many books and boxes full of notebooks. She loves exploring the narrow streets of Pamplona and she’s known to have gotten lost in her own city. She loves reading, singing and trying out new cooking recipes, and if she’s feeling adventurous she may try to do all of these at the same time.
She loves hearing from people and you can find her at:




The Sun Still Rises
Blurb

Erik’s father lived for Pamplona’s yearly festival and the running of the bulls. Now he’s gone, and Erik flies to Pamplona on a whim to see the festival his father loved—without booking a room first. He’s looking at sleeping on the ground until friendly David from the tourism office offers to share his home.

When Erik realizes he trusts David, that he might even be willing to face his anxiety to get to know David better, he begins to understand what this trip could mean. Pamplona is even more beautiful when seen through David’s eyes, and Erik might have traveled around the world just to find himself. But can he hold on to his newfound confidence—and to David—when it’s time to go home?

World of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the globe.

Pre-order link: Dreampsinners

Historical Romance

Review: A Gathering Storm by Joanna Chambers

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Title: A Gathering Storm (Porthkennack #2)
Author: Joanna Chambers 
Genre: Historical, MM romance
Release Date: 17 April 2017

Author's links:
Website / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads
Add on Goodreads

My rating: 4 Stars

Blurb

A Porthkennack novel

When grief-stricken scientist Sir Edward Fitzwilliam provokes public scorn by defending a sham spiritualist, he’s forced to retreat to Porthkennack to lick his wounds. Ward’s reputation is in tatters, but he’s determined to continue the work he began after the death of his beloved brother. 

In Porthkennack, Ward meets Nicholas Hearn, land steward to the Roscarrock family. Ward becomes convinced that Nick, whose Romany mother was reportedly clairvoyant, is the perfect man to assist with his work. But Nick—who has reason to distrust the whims of wealthy men—is loath to agree. Until Fate steps in to lend a hand.

Despite Nick’s misgivings, he discovers that Ward is not the high-handed aristocrat he first thought. And when passion ignites between them, Nick learns there’s much more to love than the rushed, clandestine encounters he’s used to. Nevertheless, Nick’s sure that wealthy, educated Ward will never see him as an equal.

A storm is gathering, but with Nick’s self-doubts and Ward’s growing obsession, the fragile bond between the two men may not be strong enough to withstand it.

Review

Joanna Chambers is a favourite author of mine and her historical romances are always a pleasure for me to indulge in. She didn't publish anything last year and when her latest release, A Gathering Storm came out earlier this month I couldn't wait to read it. And what a lovely story this turned out to be.

I went into this book almost completely blind, just knowing it was a historical romance set in a fictional town and that it was part of a series where other authors write stories set in same place but at different times. And I loved every bit of this mix of sciency bits and love story and social commentary, all presented in exquisite writing.

I found the story very moving, tender and passionate. It's about dealing with grief and loss (my heart truly ached for Ward). There is also an interesting exploration of the sense of place and (not)belonging in the character of Nick. And the collision of such opposite characters going from enemies to friends to lovers was explosive and rather spectacular.

The complex relationship of Nick with his Romani heritage and his bastard aristocratic heritage was also very interesting for me to read. We this juxtaposed with Ward's high social status which was somewhat tarnished by recent events, yet still allowed him to act aloof and be totally oblivious of the intricacies of how class division works and how much it shapes the interactions between people.

We see a lot of the inner thoughts of both Nick and Ward and I felt like I got to know them really well, slowly and gradually they way they got to know each other. I loved how the author presented their struggles to come together despite their different social status and background. Their past, their position in society was very much part of who they were and it took conscious efforts on both sides to see and accept the other person's perspective on life. Naturally, mistakes were made, and wrong assumptions corrected while we see them grow and change as people in order to find happiness together.

As usual for Joanna Chambers' novels the historical atmosphere was vividly presented through all the little details that take us back in time. The science elements were so much fun to read - storm chasing, mesmerism, hypnosis, even weather forecasting at the end.

All in all, this was a highly enjoyable queer historical romance, moving and tender, beautifully written. I can highly recommend it to all fans of the genre.

Purchase links: Amazon / B&N / iBooks

Adriana Anders

New and Debut: Adriana Anders

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I'm happy to welcome on the blog today Adriana Anders, author of erotic romance series Blank Canvas. The first two books are already out and the third is coming this summer. I read and absolutely loved Under Her Skin, a tough read but so satisfying and I'm excited to read the next books. Read on to learn more AdriaIa and what inspires her to write the stories she writes. Enjoy!


Meet Adriana

1. Tell us about yourself and why did you decide to become a romance writer?

Hi there! Thank you so much for having me today! My name is Adriana Anders and I write contemporary romance that’s dark, smart, and full of heart. I am one of those people who tried pretty much everything before becoming a novelist. It was a strange sort of denial, I think, that kept me from doing what made me happy. Thankfully, after doing things like dubbing and voices for video games, I moved to writing for those games and finally got the gumption to write what I really loved to read—romance. I had a dead-end, soul-destroying, job when I got pregnant with my second child and I remember thinking that my eight weeks of maternity leave would be my last chance at my dream of writing romance before becoming a permanent cog in the corporate machine. In those eight weeks, with a child, literally, at my breast the entire time, I finally sat down and wrote a book. It’s total crap, but it taught me how to do what I’d never managed to accomplish: write an entire book from start to finish. I wrote Under Her Skin that year, along with a post-apocalyptic romance that I’ll no doubt revisit some day. The month I got my contract with my agent was the month I was laid off from that terrible job. It’s the best thing that ever happened to me.

2. Can you share some of your favourite books and authors?

I’m a big fan of hyper-realistic, sexy, well-written erotic or contemporary romance. My top three authors in that genre are: Cara McKenna (After Hours), Anne Calhoun (Liberating Lacey) and Molly O’Keefe (Everything I Left Unsaid). Other authors I can’t get enough of are Susan Elizabeth Phillips (Dream a Little Dream), Susanna Kearsley (The Winter Sea), and Barbara Kingsolver (Prodigal Summer). 

3. Who/what do you consider your writing influence/inspiration?

Most of my writing inspiration comes from things that I hear or see. The idea for Under Her Skin came while I was driving one day. There was an interview on the radio of a woman who removed tattoos from victims of abuse or ex-gang members. I was floored. I couldn’t believe that people had to endure that sort of horror and then live with a permanent reminder on their skin. The interview made me cry and it made me think and put me immediately in the shoes of a survivor. From there, the characters arrived as if by magic.

4. What kind of stories can the readers expect from you (contemporary/historical/sci-fi, adult/NA/YA, etc)?

My books are a brand of contemporary romance that’s a little dark, quite emotional and very hopeful. Oh, and they are very, very sexy. 

5. Please, introduce your latest/upcoming release.

The Blank Canvas Series launched this year with Under Her Skin and By Her Touch. In His Hands, the third book in the series is out August 1st. In it, we meet Luc, a gruff, reclusive French winemaker who has settled in the mountains of Virginia, and Abby, the woman who escapes the cult next door. 

Thank you so much for having me! It was a pleasure chatting with you!

Author Bio and Links

Adriana Anders writes romance that's dark, smart, and full of heart. She has acted and sung, slung cocktails and corrected copy. She’s worked for start-ups, multinationals and small nonprofits, but it wasn’t until she returned to her first love—writing romance—that she finally felt like she’d come home. Today, she resides with her tall French husband, two small children and fat bastard of a French cat in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, where she writes the dark, gritty, emotional love stories of her heart.

Her award-winning debut novel, Under Her Skin, the first in the Blank Canvas series, will be out from Sourcebooks Casablanca in February 2017.


In His Hands

He is Her Salvation

Abby Merkley has been a member of the Church of the Apocalyptic Faith since she was a child, and there's no way out―except death. She will fight the odds to survive, but there's no one in the world she can trust, nowhere she can run that the cult can't find her...until her handsome, brooding neighbor takes her into the safety of his arms.

Luc Stanek craves a quiet life. But he doesn't hesitate when a desperate woman lands, bloodied and branded on his doorstep. Soon he finds himself drawn into her chaotic world, caught in the center of an apocalyptic war...and determined to save the fierce beauty no matter the cost.

Pre-order Links: Amazon / B&N

Contemporary Romance

Review: Pipe Dreams by Sarina Bowen

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Title: Pipe Dreams (Brooklyn Bruisers #3)
Author: Sarina Bowen
Genre: Sports romance, hockey
Release Date: 2 May 2017

Author's links:
Add to Goodreads

My rating: 4 Stars

Blurb
A goalie has to trust his instincts, even when taking a shot to the heart…

Mike Beacon is a champion at defending the net, but off the ice, he’s not so lucky. A widower and a single father, he’s never forgotten Lauren Williams, the ex who gave him the best year of his life. When Lauren reappears in the Bruisers office during the playoffs, Beacon sees his chance to make things right.

Lauren hates that she’s forced to travel with the team she used to work for and the man who broke her heart. There’s still undeniable sexual tension running between her and Mike, but she won’t go down that road again. She’s focused on her plans for the future—she doesn’t need a man to make her dreams of motherhood come true.

Lauren plays her best defensive game, but she’s no match for the dark-eyed goalie. When the field of play moves to Florida, things heat up on the beach.

One of Mike’s biggest fans doesn’t approve—his teenage daughter. But a true competitor knows not to waste the perfect shot at love.

Review

After not enjoying very much the second book in this series, this was one such a nice surprise. I didn't expect Lauren would get a book of her own, and then I would have never guessed who her love interest would be. This was the sweetest, most touching of romances. I love love stories with single dads, they always tug at heartstrings and this was no exception.

We have two amazing characters put in a very difficult situation and finding their way back to each other after a most painful breakup.

I have to admit I severely misjudged Lauren based o the previous books. We see her true self here and her ice queen attitude was just an act to hide a heart that felt too much. She was amazing and I could relate both to her pain and her hopes and dreams. We see an independent woman moving on from a terrible break up the only way she knew how. Getting a degree, working hard, trying to have a family of her own.

It took me a while to forgive Mike. It's not the fact that he left Lauren that I resent but the fact that he did so with no explanation. I just can't accept people not talking things through, just making up decisions and not discussing them with their partner.

Their coming back together was not easy for either of them. And M's kid didn't help matters. But it was worth all the hardship. It felt real and natural because finally, they were communicating. Mistakes were made and some lessons were learned the hard way but their HEA was a most deserved one. And oh, so sweet, a bit too sweet for my personal taste.

I'm not very fond of pregnancy and child-birth bits in romance, most often than not they feel too staged and not-believable to me as was the case here. It's a personal hangup rather than a weakness of the story.

If you are looking for a great redemption story of second-chance love with some fun and sexy times, some hockey players shenanigans, one special teenage girl, and an ice queen with the kindest and most forgiving heart, you should definitely read this romance.

Purchase links: Amazon / iBooks / Kobo


Author Interview

Spotlight and Review of The Return of the Earl by Sandra Schwab

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I have the lovely Sandra Schwab on the blog today talking about her latest release, The Return of the Earl, mm Regency romance, which I enjoyed a lot. Read on to learn how this book came about and what more we can expect from this author in the near future. You can also find my review of the book at the end of the post. Enjoy!

Interview 

ER: Hi Sandra and welcome to my blog 😊 I recently finished your latest release, The Return of the Earl, mm historical romance, and I really enjoyed it. I’d be happy if you can answer a few questions about it and your writing in general. 

SS: Thank you so much for having me, Ellie! I'm thrilled to be here, and I'm really happy you enjoyed my grumpy earl. 😊 

ER: This is your second mm romance, right? What inspired you to write it? 

SS: Upon finishing my first mm romance, The Centurion's Choice, I was struggling to get into a new book project — I had meant to tackle a new novella for my Victorian series, but I finally realized that thanks to the current political situation, I just didn't have the heart to deal with horrible Victorian politics on top of everything else. Then I stumbled across a comment from a reader, who, after reading the grumpy centurion's story, had said: "I wish the author did more mm." So I thought, "Why not?" 


The Centurion's Choice is set against the background of the second Marcomannic War, and I had to do a ton of research for that story. Even though I like research (a lot!), I thought it would be nice for a chance to write a story where I could just have fun with the writing and not worry about research all that much. Which is why my second mm romance came to be set in the Regency period. It's been some time since my last Regency-set historical, and I missed writing about big country estates and garden follies! 😊 

I had already some ideas for the plot when I sat down to create portraits of the two main characters. It was while I was working on those portraits that the characters fully came into existence and their story fell into place. 

While I was working on Con's portrait, it also became clearer and clearer that "winter" would be one of the major themes of the novella: He's got grey hair (just like Victor in Yuri on Ice!) (gosh, I ADORE that series!!!), which, together with his blue eyes and the somewhat haughty expression, creates the impression of a rather frosty man. His emotions are frozen, and when he returns home in the middle of winter, the whole landscape is frozen as well (I started writing The Return of the Earl right after Christmas, when here in Germany we had a period of rather… eh… frosty weather). Moreover, to him, the house he returns to seems to be frozen in time (cue some subtle references to "Sleeping Beauty"). Of course, as the story evolves, Con starts to "defrost" — his emotions unravel , as his evil author puts him through the wringer… 

ER: Your previous mm romance (and some of your other books are set in the times of Ancient Rome). Which time period is your favorite and why? 

SS: I love all three time periods my books are set in. They help me to avoid a creative burnout, and they fulfill different functions: 

· My Regency romances are mostly set among the upper classes, thus allowing me to write about country estates and garden follies. (I LOVE garden follies!!!) They also tend to be more whimsical. *thinks of her first published novel* Well, in a manner of speaking…. 

· My Victorian series has been inspired by my academic research on Victorian magazines and newspapers, and I love digging into the everyday life and day-to-day politics of the time. Being able to include cameo appearances of the writers and artists of PUNCH, my favorite Victorian magazine, is an added bonus. (So in other words, my Victorian series allows me to shamelessly fangirl over my favorite Victorian artists & writers.) 

· Each book in my Roman series, by contrast, presents me with unique challenges of research. While I've been interested in the Romans since I was little and fell in love with the works of Rosemary Sutcliff, I'm still not as familiar with the period as I am with, say, the Victorian Age, which I have studied for years. When Twitter talked me into writing a Roman romance, I really had to knuckle down and bring myself up to scratch in regard to the historical background. Moreover, the series has also allowed me to explore some local history, as I live in Roman borderland, near where the Germanic limes once marked the edge of the Roman Empire. Since 2014, I've been a regular visitor to the reconstructed Roman fort in Bad Homburg, where I also took a Roman cookery class! 


ER: Are you planning to turn The Return of the Earl into a series? Maybe a book about the Earl’s secretary? Or a down-stairs romance between his staff (I love this type of historicals and would love to read one like that written by you)? 

SS: Yes. I think there might be a story about Ross, Con's secretary, in the future. And glimpses of an older Con in my Victorian series. I already have some ideas for that! 😊 

ER: Your book shows great detail of the times which you seem to have researched meticulously. What was most fun/difficult thing to research for this story? 

SS: Thank you! To be honest, though, I didn't have to do all that much research for The Return of the Earl – that was the beauty of writing this story! My early published novels were all set in the Regency period or the early 19th century, thus, I when I started to write historicals some 15 years ago, I read a lot about the period, which forms the foundation I can fall back on today. 

In addition, when I was still a lecturer at university, much of my work focused on the 19th century. Indeed, a few things I researched for my Ph.D. thesis (on the history of dragonslaying) found their way into The Return of the Earl, specifically, the gothic garden follies and the mummers' play, which is a specific kind of English folk drama. For the play in my story, I used different 19th-century versions of a so-called hero-combat play, where a hero – in this case, St. George – fights against one or more villains (a soldier, a knight, a foreign king, or a dragon figure). One of the combatants is slain, but luckily the Doctor is at hand with some miracle medicine to affect a nice resurrection. At the end there is often a song, and then the mummers are rewarded with alcohol or money (or both), and everybody is happy. 
  
In the last few years, I was also lucky enough to visit a few stately homes in Britain. The grounds of my grumpy earl's country estate are modelled on those of Harewood near Leeds, while the house itself, with its layout around a main courtyard and a service courtyard, was inspired by Dunham Massey. In recent years, there has been a surge of interest in the lives of servants, which is why a lot of stately homes have opened up the service areas to the public. When I was at Dunham Massey, I took part in a tour of the service courtyard, and it's this kind of hands on research that is really helpful to understand how country houses worked in the past. 

And of course, walking from such a stately home back to the train station in the nearest town or village really makes you aware how vast these country estates are (especially if you have to hurry to catch your train). 

[picture 4: terrace at Harewood] 

ER: Finally, what can we expect from you in the near future? 

SS: I think I'm going to stick with the Regency period for the time being, and I hope to finally finish that Victorian novella later in the year.

Author Bio and Links

Sandra Schwab is an award-winning author, artist, and translator. She holds a PhD in English Literature, which she gained for a study on the history of dragonslaying, and she now uses some of her fiction to shamelessly fangirl over PUNCH, her favorite Victorian magazine. In 2015, she appeared on the BBC documentary Great Continental Railway Journeys to talk about another favorite topic of hers, the Grimms' fairy tales, while walking through a rather muddy stretch of the Black Forest.

Sandra lives in Frankfurt am Main in Germany with a sketchbook, a sewing machine, and an ever-expanding library.

Website / Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / Newsletter


The Return of the Earl

Blurb

AN THEY OVERCOME THE BETRAYALS OF THE PAST FOR A SECOND CHANCE AT LOVE?

On the continent they call him the Ice Prince, icy of manner, icy of heart. Now, after thirteen years of exile, Con returns home to England and to Harrowcot Hall, a place haunted by memories of a long-lost friendship and past betrayals, a place where all of his dreams shattered and died.

But the past is over and done with, and can no longer touch him -- or so Con thinks. He certainly does not expect to come face to face with Bryn Ellison again, the man whom he once loved beyond everything and who repudiated their bond in the cruelest way imaginable. 

As snow and frost close in on Harrowcot Hall, Con's icy demeanour starts to melt while he grapples with old hurts and newly awakened passions. Will he give in to the lure of the past against his better judgement?

Review

This was a lovely, sweet, slow-burn mm Regency romance. Sandra Schwab tells a tender and very moving story with some air of melancholy which is further strengthened by the stunning winter scenery she created. The nature as reflection of the characters' emotions was just so well incorporated in this story, the vivid way the scenery and the Christmas season was presented made it fell almost like a character of its own on the story. 

I loved both the grumpy Earl (no surprise there as grumpy heroes are my catnip) and his quiet and loyal Stablemaster. Their second-chance friends-to-lovers romance, very understated and quiet at times and all the more powerful and memorable for that, was a joy to read. 

The story is told from the point of view of Con, the young Earl of Stanbury and we see very little of the inner world of his stablemaster, Bryn. I liked getting to know all Con's emotions - his anger and fear and desperation and later on, hope and overwhelming love.  I really wanted more insight into Bryn's inner world as well. I have to admit that he remained a bit of mystery for me. At the same time Con's attraction and deep affection for him was rather catching and I couldn't help but like him, and like him a lot, myself. 

The writing is beautiful, elaborate and rich. It's full of details of the historical period (a bit too much at times in my opinion) and it transports the reader right there and then at the times and place of the story.

I like the supporting characters, we see more of Con's secretary and his butler and less of the staff of Harrowcot manor but I'd love to read more stories about all of them. 

This quiet but moving love story is a recommended reading for fans of historical romance

Purchase links: Amazon

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