• Blog

    Travel Thursday – we’re off to Boldt Castle with Jean C. Gordon

    Travel Thursday

    Today we take a journey with author Jean C. Gordon to Boldt Castle on the US/Candian Border and celebrate her new release Trusting  His Heart.

    With spring and romance in the air, what could be more romantic than a trip to a castle on a heart-shaped island? I know of one that fits the bill ~ Boldt Castle ~ which isn’t TOO far from me. I’ll admit right off that I’ve never actually been to Heart Island, but I’ve long meant to visit it. 😀 So let’s go.

    We’re headed west from Albany, NY, first on the Thruway (I-90) before we turn north toward Alexandria Bay and the Thousand Islands. The Thousand Islands are a group of more than 1,800 islands in the St. Lawrence River, straddling the border of the U.S. and Canada.

    While we’re driving, here’s the romantic/tragic history of the castle. In the late 1800s, George C. Boldt, millionaire owner of the world famous Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City, set out to build a full-size Rhineland castle in Alexandria Bay, on Heart Island. The creation of the grand structure was a display of his love for his wife, Louise.

    Beginning in 1900, 300 workers including stonemasons, carpenters, and artists fashioned the six-story, 120 room castle, complete with tunnels, a powerhouse, Italian gardens, a drawbridge, Alster tower (children’s playhouse), and a dove cote. Not a single detail or expense was spared.

    But in January 1904, tragedy struck. Louise died suddenly. Boldt telegraphed the island and commanded the workers to immediately stop all construction. Broken hearted, Boldt couldn’t imagine his dream castle without his beloved Louise. He never returned to the island, leaving behind the structure as a monument of his love.

    For more than 70 years, the castle and various stone structures were left to decay and vandalism. Then the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority acquired the property and renovated it to be preserved for the enjoyment of future generations.

    Heart Island is accessible from the U.S. and Canada only by a tour boat or personal pleasure craft. We’re taking our personal pleasure craft. Feel that river spray. Arriving at the island’s docks, we’re off to the castle and our virtual tour starting with the Alster Tower, followed by the Castle itself, Dove-coat, Entry Arch, Garden and Grounds, and Power House: TAKE THE VIRTUAL TOUR.

    What did you think? I can’t wait to see it in person. Maybe this summer . . .

    And while we’re in the Adirondack Mountains, I invite you to take a side trip east to Paradox Lake in my new release Trusting His Heart

    After being widowed and subsequently discovering her husband’s infidelities and shaky business practices, Dr. Anne O’Conner Howard is restarting her life by teaching an environmental program at North County Community College and maintaining her company Green Spaces Environmental Engineering, LLC. The last thing Anne expects is for the boy who took her to Junior Prom to walk into her office as a prospective student.

    Neal Hazard had planned to go to college to become an environmental engineer, but instead he became a single dad at 17 and raised a terrific daughter named Autumn. With Autumn in a nursing program and doing well, electrician Neal has left the National Guard and is going back to school to finish his dream. Discovering that Anne is his student advisor is a shock and takes a little getting used to.

    Neither Neal nor Anne’s lives turned out as planned, but both are charting new directions. Then an unexpected tragedy throws Anne’s world into chaos. Neal is a strong shoulder to lean on as Anne once again reevaluates her future. Will these unexpected life changes allow them to discover what their hearts truly want?

    Welcome to Paradox Lake

    Any fan of sweet romance will love settling into the stories of small-town love in the Paradox Lake Sweet Romance series. Grab your tea or coffee, settle into your favorite chair, and be swept away into the cozy Adirondack town where complex characters navigate challenging situations as they find their way to love. Whether it’s love at first blush, old flames reuniting, or second chance romance, you’ll find pure reading enjoyment and satisfy your craving for sweet, wholesome romance.

    Part of an ongoing series full of familiar faces, each story will stand on its own. With novel and novella lengths available, there’s something for everyone. Paradox Lake is written by USA Today Bestselling sweet romance author, Jean C. Gordon, who’s penned stories for the No Brides Clubs Series, Indigo Bay Series, and Harlequin Love Inspired, as well as for multiple sweet romance collections.

    BUY: Amazon | Apple Books | B&N | Kobo | Google Books

     

    Jean C. Gordon’s writing is a natural extension of her love of reading. From that day in first grade when she realized t-h-e was the word “the,” she’s been reading everything she can put her hands on. She and her college-sweetheart husband tried the city life in Los Angeles, but quickly returned home to their native small-town Upstate New York, where she sets many of her books. She and her husband share a 175-year-old farmhouse in Upstate New York with their daughter and her family. Their son lives nearby.

    Contact Jean on her website at JeanCGordon.com.

  • Blog

    Let’s talk french cooking with Carolyn Eychenne, author of Sunrise over Paris

    Taste of Tuesday

    It’s Taste of Tuesday and today we’re off to Paris with

    Carolyn Eychenne, author of Sunrise over Paris

    Many of the readers of my novel Sunrise over Paris have written that they thought the daube in chapter 5 sounded good.  If you feel that way too, wait until you try the recipe below:  8-hour lamb.  Mine is bubbling away right now—we’re on the home stretch of the 8-hour marathon—and my house smells wonderful.  The last time I checked to see if there is enough cooking liquid, I sampled a little piece of meat and it, too, was wonderful.

    You might be thinking that 8 hours is a huge investment for a meal.  It’s not.  Not for the French and not for Stacey, the main character of my novel.  Food is an important part of Sunrise over Paris. Some of the key moments of the story occur over a meal: the fateful dinner in one of the opening scenes where we see Stacey’s, the heroine’s, difficult relationship with her husband and teenage children, the brief moment of harmony while dining on daube, the lunch during which Stacey watches the results of one of her revenge plots, and the luxurious brunch she shares with her two kids as they create a new, stronger, more adult bond.

    Stacey is a foodie, of course, but this is not an oddity in France.  Food is a big deal here.  The French invest a lot of time and energy in eating, at special holiday meals of course, but also every day.  Art de vivre, living so well it becomes an artform, does include everyday meals.  Cooked fresh when possible.  Always seasonal. Always balanced.

    What makes for a balanced meal à la française?

    First of all, three courses.  The starter (interestingly, it’s called l’entrée), the main dish (the entrée in English!), dessert.  Sometimes, there is cheese.  Not every day, but when there is, it comes between the main course and dessert.

    There are somewhere between 1,000 and 1,600 different varieties of cheese: cheese from cow, goat, and ewe’s milk are all standard fare.  Some are hard cheeses, some soft and crumbly, others very fresh and creamy.  Some are inoculated with mold (yes, that’s what gives Roquefort cheese its distinctive flavor), some are rolled in herbs, and others have inclusions, like a beautiful Brillat Savarin with truffles which I discovered only a year ago, despite living here for over 30 years.

    Until then, I didn’t really like truffles.  Now… Wow!

    As said earlier, the French don’t have cheese at the end of every meal. And they don’t have very much at a time.  While it’s completely acceptable to have seconds of the other courses, it’s considered rude to have seconds of cheese.  If you do, it’s a way of saying that your hostess hasn’t given you enough to eat.

    Like cheese, dessert isn’t an everyday thing either. At least, not the macarons or petits fours or éclairs au chocolat you’re thinking about right now.  Most days, dessert is a yogurt or a piece of fruit.  But it’s still called ‘dessert’ which can be disappointing for some of us.

    Entrée literally means entrance.  The same word is used for your front door, which makes it a logical name for the starter in a meal.  In traditional French cuisine, a salad is fine for every day, but not something you would serve to company.  Depending on your guests, you might prepare a terrine with a little salad on the side, some lox with buttered toast and lemon wedges, or vol au vent, a little basket made from puff pastry in which you serve snails or shellfish in a creamy bechamel sauce.

    By the way, soupe à l’oignon with its croutons and cheese melting on top is not as common as you might think. I’ve had it many times in restaurants, but never in anyone’s home other than my own.  And, since I’m American-born, that might not count.

    After the starter, the main dish.  This can look like a typical American meal—meat or fish, cooked vegetable and rice, pasta or potato.  Or this can be a plat en sauce, a stew-like dish, which combines the meat and vegetable in one dish which is then served over rice or pasta.  The daube which Stacey cooks in Sunrise over Paris is an example of this.  You might also know boeuf bourguignon or blanquette de veau.  One of my favorite meals is pot-au-feu, literally pot in the fire, because it used to be made in a large cast-iron dutch oven in the coals of the family fireplace. Several different cuts of beef, leeks, carrots, turnips, onions and potatoes all cook together for several hours, creating an amazing broth which you eat as the starter before having the meat and vegetable along with kosher salt, pickles and Dijon mustard for the main course.

    Second only to 8-hour lamb.

    Which brings me back to the recipe.  Please try—and let me know how you like it.  If you overcook it, forgetting it for 11 hours instead of 8, you can always say that you preferred the French author Colette’s recipe to mine! 

    By Carolyn Eychenne

    The recipe:  8-hour lamb

    1 leg of lamb (about 5 pounds)

    3 carrots (I use 4 – 5)

    3 onions

    2 small leeks (I use 4)

    ½ celeriac

    3 cloves

    1 “bouquet garni” (parsley, bay leaf, thyme, celery branch)

    1 entire head of garlic

    10 peppercorns

    2 tablespoons salt

     

    Brown the leg of lamb in a cast iron Dutch oven.  Take out, reserve.

    On the bottom of the Dutch oven, place all the vegetables peeled and chopped into 1-2” sized pieces. Add the garlic, bouquet garni and seasonings. Put the leg of lamb back on top.

    Add water to cover the vegetables but only just touching the lamb.

    Cover and simmer for 8 hours, checking every so often that there is enough liquid. Add if necessary.

    To serve:  Remove the lamb and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm. Remove the vegetables and place in a strainer over the Dutch oven (the idea is to catch the cooking juices). Handle them carefully so they retain their shape.

    Increase the temperature under the Dutch oven to bring the cooking juices to a boil. Reduce.

    Serve the leg of lamb covered in this sauce with the vegetables on the side. The lamb is so tender, you might have a hard time cutting it!

    sunrise over paris

    Sunrise Over Rise Blurb:

    What would you do if you found out your husband was cheating on you?
    When Stacey Dupont, an American in Paris, learns that her French husband has been cheating, her happy life crumbles and obsession begins.  Stalking and revenge lead to surprising results!  With Paris as the backdrop and the River Seine playing a main role, Sunrise over Paris follows Stacey on her surprising, emotional, and sometimes zany journey of personal discovery across the City of Light.

    Get it here

     You can learn more about Carolyn here: 
    Facebook 
    Instagram 
    GoodReads

    www.carolyneychenne.com

     

    About Carolyn

    Carolyn Eychenne is an author of fiction and non-fiction works. Sunrise over Paris is her first novel but not the first book she has published, the other being a French-language book about digital platforms. It led her back to her true love, writing.

    Not quite “an American in Paris,” Carolyn Eychenne has lived most of her adult life in the suburbs of Paris, after growing up in southern California.

    Note from Monique: Please comment below and let me know if you made Carolyn’s recipe or what your favorite French meal is.

  • Writers on Wednesday
    Blog

    Writers on Wednesday with Shail Rajan

    Writers on Wednesday

    Today for Writers on Wednesday we have a Q&A with debut author Shail Rajan

    Shail rajanShail is a contemporary women’s fiction writer and the author of The Summer Breeze, her debut novel which celebrates the role family, friendships, food, and falling in love play in our everyday lives. Shail lives in the Bay Area with her husband and three wonderful, noisy, mischievous children. When she is not writing and reading, she serves as the president of a non-profit, cooks nonstop, tackles the occasional DIY project, and obsesses over her vegetable garden. Don’t be surprised if you hear your stomach growling while reading her books because Shail is a serious foodie and often includes vivid descriptions of the food her characters are eating. If you feel the urge to cook something up, she often shares her recipes on her website and social media!

    1. Why do you write in the genre, you do?

    I’ve always been drawn to stories about strong women taking control of their lives and doing it with grace, kindness, and humour. I love stories which center around new beginnings and second chances. My writing contemporary women’s fiction is just a natural extension of what I love to read.

    1. When did you take up writing?

    I started writing as a way to pass the time back in 2003. Since then, The Summer Breeze and other partially completed manuscripts have been waiting patiently on my laptop. At the end of 2020, I finally mustered up the courage to send my first book baby out into the world!

    1. How important is setting/place in your writing?

    It’s always been very important to me for my readers to be able to vividly imagine setting/place throughout my books. What I wasn’t prepared for was how it would resonate with them. In so many reviews and so much of the feedback I’ve received, people have appreciated the visual imagery I’ve created. It’s a great feeling.

    1. Do you have a favourite character (s) in your current novel?

    Callie, the female protagonist in The Summer Breeze, is my absolute favorite. She’s kind, independent, flawed, funny, a foodie, and unstoppable. I think there’s something inherently relatable about a woman who is so multi-dimensional – like so many of us.

    1. Do you have a schedule for writing?

    I’ve always been an early bird and usually wake up a couple of hours before the rest of my family. I try to take advantage of the quite time and focus on my writing in the mornings. I’d love to be able to do more during the day, but it’s been challenging with three kids learning remotely. Once they’re back in school full-time, I think I’ll be able to dedicate even more time creating these stories and characters that I absolutely love.

    1. Are you a plotter or someone who tends to wing it?

    When I started out on my writing journey, I tried to wing it. However, I quickly realized I needed to be more of a plotter because I was writing over such a long span of time (years!) that I found myself forgetting details about certain characters and events. Now, since I have committed myself to chasing this dream, I’m writing at a much quicker pace and I’m able to wing it because I can get fully emerged in the story.

    1. Can you name three of four of your current favourite books?

    I recently finished reading American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins and Know My Name by Chanel Miller. Both books moved me in different ways, but both educated me about journeys vastly different from my own. Anyone who loves to read knows this is one of the best things about books: the ability to engender empathy for the lives of others.

    For me, American Dirt was a page turner from start to finish. Whenever I had to put it down to do something else, I was eager to get back to it to learn what was coming next. I found myself feeling the stress, anxiety, fear, and hope of the characters throughout the book.

    Know My Name literally pried my eyes open. Learning about the experience of sexual assault through the eyes of the victim – starting with the days and hours leading up to an assault, the actual assault, the response of first responders immediately after, the fear of telling family and friends, the trial and subsequent appeals, and of course, the emotional upheaval that the victim and her family face – was truly an emotional education. Did it make me feel uncomfortable? Yes, incredibly so. Will I have my children read it when they’re older? Most definitely.

    There are also two books that I always have on my nightstand. The first is Pride and Prejudice because I absolutely love everything about Jane Austen, from her writing style, to her description of setting, to her wonderful female characters. And of course, Mr. Darcy.

    The second is A Town Like Alice by Nevile Shute. I came across this book years ago and loved it so much that my husband managed to find a first edition copy which I have read and re-read numerous times. There is something so magical for me in the emotional journey of the main character Jean Paget.

    Note from Monique: A Town Like Alice is also one of my favorite books!!!

    1. Can you tell me a little bit about what you are working on now?

    I’m working on two projects right now, and I’m so excited about both of them!

    The first is book #2 in The Summer Breeze series where readers will be able to catch up with all their favorite characters from The Summer Breeze Bed and Breakfast! Callie will continue her unsuccessful attempts to not meddle in her guests’ lives, eat even more mouth-watering food, and try to keep her head on straight when Nick is around. Two weddings and a catastrophe will be the backdrop to Callie’s life in the beautiful lakeside town of Seneca Springs.

    My second projects is a romantic suspense novel that I’m having a the best time researching and writing. Stay tuned for more info on how small town life takes a dark turn when a rock star comes to Sycamore Ridge!

    1. What advice would you give to a fledgling writer to assist them on their journey?

    Do NOT stop. Write every chance you get and be prepared for bumps and detours along the way. I started writing The Summer Breeze in 2003. Take a minute to let that sink in! It took me 18 years to put my dream back at the top of my to-do list and make it happen. But I’m here now, and I’m having the best time ever!

    The Summer Breeze

    The Summer Breeze

    Tired of her fast-paced life in NYC, Callie Williams leaves her successful career and demanding fiancé behind and makes a life-changing decision to open a bed & breakfast in the lakeside town of Seneca Springs. Navigating the complexities of small-town life, Callie forges lifelong friendships, eats more than her fair share of delicious food, and tries not to meddle in the lives of her guests. The only thing hindering her newfound happiness is the attraction she feels for Nick, a rough-around-the-edges construction worker who is determined to get under Callie’s skin.

    Buy Links:

    https://bit.ly/TheSummerBreezebyShailRajan

    Social Links:

    Website: https://www.shailrajan.com/

    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/shailrajanauthor/

    Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/20957911.Shail_Rajan

    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shailrajanauthor

    Twitter: https://twitter.com/ShailRajan

  • Blog

    Writers on Wednesday with Renee Dahlia author of The Shipwrecked Earl’s Bride

    Writers on Wednesday - Rose

    This week for Writers on Wednesday we have a Q&A with Renee Dahlia author of new release The Shipwrecked Earl’s Bride

    Author Renee DahliaAbout Renee

    Renée Dahlia is an unabashed romance reader who loves feisty women and strong, clever men. Her books reflect this, with a side note of awkward humour.

    1.What was the inspiration for your current novel, The Shipwrecked Earl’s Bride?

    Our family booked a trip to Italy last year but had to cancel due to the pandemic. It was a frustrating process, as we’d saved up for a couple of years for the trip, and didn’t end up getting refunds until months after the trip was cancelled. This novella came from a need to do some travelling! I imagined an Earl on his way home from a Grand Tour getting shipwrecked on a Spanish beach, and it just fell into place from there.

    2. Why do you write in the genre you do?

    I write both historical and contemporary romances, across a range of heat levels and pairings. Why? Because I write to entertain myself and I don’t like feeling restricted to one time period or place. My ideas are often chaotic before they become books. They come from little pieces of conversations that I overhear, or non-fiction that I’m reading, and a whole bunch of other places. I keep all the ideas in a big file and let them kind of roll around for a while until they form enough of a story to become a book. All my books are listed on my website with heat levels and pairing type.

    3. When did you take up writing?

    My first book, To Charm a Bluestocking, was published in 2017. I’ve written non-fiction for about a decade prior to that, mostly magazine articles. Oddly, I didn’t want to be a writer when I left school, and studied science instead. I fell into writing almost accidentally when I was asked to write a series of articles that explained statistical results to non-mathematicians.

    4. How important is setting/place in your writing?

    Not very! Description is my least favourite part of writing. My first drafts are mostly dialogue with a few notes, and I add the descriptions later.

    5. Do you have a favourite character (s) in your current novel?

    I’m fickle! My favourite is always the one I’m writing right now! In my novella, The Shipwrecked Earl’s Bride, the heroine Sofia is a Spanish fisherman’s daughter who has taught herself to read English from books washed up on their beach. Her family supplement their income with things they find from shipwrecks, and they dismiss her need for reading. Reading shows her the world, and when Rupert washes up on her beach, she takes the chance to leave. When I first started to write, I imagined her as quite aspirational, but as I wrote, she turned out to be more empathetic and unsure about the decision to leave.

    6. What’s the best piece of writing advice you were ever given?

    Read a lot. Read in the genre you want to write in, so you understand what readers love about it, and better yet, write the genre that you love to read because then that understanding comes naturally.

    7. Do you have a schedule for writing?

    Yes. I have a spreadsheet that I’ve designed that tracks both my daily word count and my writing schedule by book.

    8. Are you a plotter or someone who tends to wing it?

    Somewhere in the middle. I like to have a good idea of where I’m going, so I set out the book’s basic plot with a few one liners that indicate the emotional arc for the two characters, then I just let the dialogue go where it feels natural. Sometimes I end up in places that I didn’t intend, and have to adjust either the dialogue or the vague plot notes, but that doesn’t happen often.

    9. Can you name three of four of your current favourite books?

    I’ve just finished reading Talia Hibbert’s Brown sisters series which is really adorable. My favourite historical novels are Olivia Waite’s The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics and Courtney Milan’s Duchess War. I adore Alexis Hall’s writing – the characterisation in Glitterland is outstanding. How can anyone pick just four books?

    10. Can you tell me a little bit about what you are working on now?

    I’m currently writing a medium heat contemporary lesbian romance series set in a Burlesque club in London.

    11. What advice would you give to a fledgling writer to assist them on
    their journey?

    Read and write. Practice will make you better.

    The Shipwrecked Earl’s Bride

    Blurb:

    LORD RUPERT STANMORE was banished to the continent for a grand tour after being caught kissing his best friend, Lord Benburgh. Two years later and life back in England has caught up to him. His father died recently and now he’s the latest Earl of Stanmore. On the way home, his ship is wrecked in a storm, and he washes up on a beach in Spain, only to be rescued by a beautiful woman. As the Earl, he has an obligation to marry. He’d rather be hung for sodomy than allow his mother to choose his bride, and who better to annoy his proper and distant mother than a poor foreigner as a bride? He plots for Sofia to fall in love with him, not expecting to fall for her.

     

    SOFIA LUCIANA RIAL is the only daughter of a fisherman in Spain. She taught herself to read English from books washed up on their beach, a skill her widowed Father sees as pointless. In his opinions, she should spend all, not most, of her time doing domestic work. When a man washes up on the beach near their cottage, she realises he might be her ticket out of poverty. She sets about to make him fall in love with her so he can take her to England where she will never again have to worry about where her next meal will come from. Only her plan fails when she falls in love with him. But how can she convince him that her love is real?

     

     

    You can learn more about Renee here: 
    Twitter
    Facebook 
    romance.com.au
    Instagram 
    BookBub

     

  • Blog

    Today we welcome Louise Reynolds author of Miss Valentine’s Love Emporium for a Taste of Tuesday blog post

    2/4/2019

    Taste of Tuesday

    Miss Valentine's Love Emporium - CoverThanks for your welcome, Monique. It’s lovely to be here.

    When my thoughts turn to Valentine’s Day the first thing I think of is roses. But food always figures highly. Magazines are full of what to cook, more pink recipes than you can shake a stick at, and suggestions for the most romantic restaurants to dine at.

    There’s no doubt that food and sex, and by extension love, are inextricably linked. The experience of falling in love is tactile, using all the senses. Our scent receptors are as open to pheromones as to the aroma of beautifully cooked food. Both make our mouths water. And it’s unsurprising that we describe desirable physical characteristics in terms of food: peach or strawberry coloured lips, chestnut coloured hair, almond shaped eyes and cheeks like apples.

    On Valentine’s Day I enjoy cooking something special at home rather than dining out. I’ll push beyond my usual efforts, choose a special recipe or two and use the best ingredients I can find. I’ll pull out my best china and linen, light candles and make sure the table looks pretty. All of this shows care and love.

    Food abounds in my sweet Valentine’s Day novella, Miss Valentine’s Love Emporium. Lexie Valentine has been taken in and protected by the small town of Carter’s Crossing and on this special day each year she expresses her love for the townspeople by throwing a huge party in the vacant emporium she rents as a pop-up. In doing this she demonstrates her belief in love in the face of a traumatic past experience.
    Ethan Taylor is a world-weary big city divorce lawyer with a jaded view of love but he has been roped into taking his elderly grandmother to Lexie’s party. He arrives at the party, carrying his grandmother’s contribution:

    “At one end of the counter two tall stacks of mismatched floral plates were flanked by small buckets of cutlery, the old fashioned kind with bone handles buffed shiny with age. Piles of old linen napkins in cream and pastel shades, carefully starched and ironed, sat beside them. He placed the pavlova on the counter together with the other offerings. He’d forgotten the largesse of a country gathering. Not for them the large white platters holding wispy herbal fronds and miniscule pieces of food that he was served at smart city functions. The counter groaned with plates loaded with cakes and sandwiches, fruit platters and cheese boards.”

    May Valentine’s Day bring you flowers and delicious food but most of all love and happiness!
    You can follow Lexie and Ethan on their journey by selecting your favourite retailer here: https://books2read.com/u/49P6gM

    Louise ReynoldsAuthor bio
    Louise Reynolds is an author of contemporary romantic fiction.
    On receiving her library card at the age of six she borrowed her first book, an illustrated story about onions. Over the years she progressed from vegetables to romance. It was a logical step to take her love of romance novels to the next stage and tell her own stories.
    Set in both the city and Australia’s outback, her books have been described as warm and witty feel-good reads.

    Let’s connect on social media:
    https://www.facebook.com/LouiseReynoldsRomanceAuthor/
    https://www.instagram.com/louisereynoldswriter/
    www.louisereynolds.net


  • Blog

    Joanne Dannon joins us for this week’s Musical Monday blog post

    1/27/2019

    Musical Monday
    Musical Monday with Australian author Joanne Dannon
    Thanks to Monique for inviting me to her Musical Monday blog.

    I love music and dancing but my favourite music is jazz and swing. I’ve always had a thing for songs by Gershwin and Berlin. It must be the romantic in me.

    As an author, I’ve always written the books I want to read, rather than “writing to market”. I don’t write a book and use a trope simply because it’s popular and everyone else is doing it.

    I love the “opposites attract” tropes for my books, because it happens with love. When you fall for the person you don’t expect to. Often we have preconceived notions of who we want to be with, and sometimes the person that makes us believe in love is the person we least expect it to be.

    At the time of writing Kissing under the Spotlight, Michael Bublé was in Melbourne and I went to his concert (of course!!) and it made me think…what would happen if I met him? I’d probably dissolve in to a pool of giggles and act like a complete tosser around him because I’m a huge fan.

    I used that as the basis for my book. What would my heroine do if she came face to face with the world famous singer she has a major crush on? And ta-da, I wrote the book which has a fairy-tale ending.

    And because all awesome women need a fab BFF, I gave my heroine a friend. But at the end of the book, I couldn’t let my characters go…so I wrote another book, and then more after.

    I have book one of my Kissing Down Under series for free, and I hope you download and enjoy this romance between a superstar and an ordinary gal (like you and me).

    If you like handsome crooners, then Kissing under the Spotlight is for you. Here’s an excerpt –

    “Yes. We agreed our kiss was a mistake—”
    He snorted. “I never said it was a mistake.”
    The speech continued, with rapid vagueness. “Well, whatever. You’re Alex Jackson and I’m Violet McKenzie. You’re a somebody and I’m a nobody. You’ve got gazillions of women falling over themselves to be with you.” She paused. “Which I get, who wouldn’t? Plus you’re a great kisser. But we come from different worlds and we should keep it that way.”
    His brow arched. “You think I’m a great kisser?”
    Her eyes widened to the size of a small planet. “Um.” She cleared her throat a couple of times. “Well, yes.”

    Kissing under the Spotlight is free for a limited time, and the second book in the series, Kissing like she means it, is on sale at $0.99 (instead of $3.99).
    Note – these books are not sweet and have a 3/5 heat rating.

    Joanne Dannon
    ​About Joanne Dannon

    Best selling, award-winning Australian author, Joanne Dannon, writes to give her readers the experience she loves to savor–indulging in a sigh-worthy-happily-ever-after, being swept away from the everyday by diving into a delicious romance novel.

    Joanne is a happily married mother of two heroes-in-training who loves spending time with friends and family. She can be found on Facebook and her website www.joannedannon.com chatting about reading, writing, cooking, vintage-inspired dresses and all things romantic.

     

  • Blog

    Musical Monday with Australian Author Cheryl Wright

    1/21/2019

    Musical Monday
    My name is Cheryl Wright, and I write mostly contemporary and historical western romance, but also write contemporary small-town romance.
    My books sometimes feature singers in them, and the reason for that is easy – as a teenager, I was a singer.
    It all started when I was about eight years old. I used to sing around the house all the time, and one day, while visiting my grandmother, she mentioned to my mother that I should be on Brian and the Juniors – a popular television show in Australia at the time.
    It featured young children, and Brian was the host.
    My mother organised for me to audition. And I was accepted but we were told all potential Juniors had to do lessons first.
    For months we trudged down to the studio using two different trams, as well as a long walk. I felt as though nothing was happening except my parents were paying for lessons for no reason.
    We stopped going there and instead looked for a local singing teacher. She was brilliant.
    After several lessons, she arranged for me to appear on the radio – a boon at the time (1960’s) – and was asked back several times. I also appeared on talent shows on the television.
    But best of all, my wonderful teacher was able to get me into stage shows as well as bistros where live entertainment was featured.
    I had a spot most Saturday nights for some years, mixed in with stage show work.
    I was even partnered up with a young man for awhile, but that didn’t go anywhere because he wasn’t particularly interested in being part of a duo.
    In addition to all this, I did quite a bit of charity work, entertaining at centres for people with disabilities once a month. I was told it was the highlight of the month for many of them.
    I took dancing lessons for a while – because my teacher wanted me to learn how to move better on the stage. It definitely helped.
    I loved the life, loved the people.
    It was such a buzz, and something I’ve never forgotten, even after all these years. (I’m now 62.)
    I learned to play piano, as well as guitar. The piano lessons sadly died away, but I still play guitar.
    All of this was great fodder for my books, and when I began a new contemporary western romance series, The Callahan Brothers, I needed a cover story for my heroine who was running for her life.
    Being a singer was perfect. She could move from town to town without arousing suspicion. I totally understood all the things that went on in that world, so was able to portray them in a very realistic way.
    You can read Missy’s story in The Cowboy’s Sweetheart.
    Missy O’Reilly isn’t the trusting type. After being almost killed, she’s been on the run for several months. Moving from town to town was the only thing she could do to keep safe.

    She has the evidence, and her stalker wants to destroy it along with her…

    Rory Callahan is fascinated by the newcomer to River Valley, Montana. The moment he clapped eyes on her he was smitten. Little did he know she was hiding a deep dark secret. One that might get her killed. Or if he hung around long enough, he might also be in the firing line.

    Convinced he’s met his soul-mate, will Rory be able to convince her to stay? And exactly what is the mysterious secret she’s been hiding?
    I also featured a singer in one of my romantic suspense novellas, Deadly Debt.
    Felicity Montgomery couldn’t be happier. Her music career is starting to take off and because of her new way-too-sexy manager, her love life is too. But she’s being watched. Every second of every day.

    Derek St James knows Felicity is meant for the stage. She has the kind of charisma that captures people’s attention, and his heart. But a man he can’t control is after Felicity and will stop at nothing to get what he wants.

    Felicity’s stalker sees her every move. He’s listening to every word. He is obsessed to the point of breaking into her apartment – even when she’s there. Felicity must find a way to get out from under the evil force that threatens to ruin everything before it’s too late.
    This book lends itself to far more behind the scenes situations. The sorts of things that really happen in the music industry, but most people know nothing about.
    I get a real buzz from writing stories for readers to enjoy, and love when I can put my own personal experiences into my books.
    Thanks for spending some time with me today. I really appreciate it.

    Cheryl Wright
    Find Cheryl on Social Media
    Links:
    The Cowboy’s Sweetheart: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07786G9R7/
    Deadly Debt: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01N7QR21B/
    Amazon Author Page: amazon.com/author/cherylwright
    Cheryl’s Website: http://cheryl-wright.com/
    Cheryl’s Blog: http://romance-authors.com/
    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cherylwrightauthor/

     

    Deadly Debt - CoverCowboy's Sweetheart - Cover

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Comment

    Cheryl Wright
    1/23/2019 01:55:00 am

    Thanks so much for having me, Monique!

  • Blog

    Cover Reveal for The Lucky Dress by Aimee Brown

    6/21/2018

    The Lucky Dress - Promo Banner
    Oh. Em. Gee. You’ve no idea how long I’ve been waiting for this.
    When my publisher decided to give the option to part ways I was excited but nervous. I knew Little Gray Dress deserved a real chance to make it in the world after a semi-rough start in the publishing industry. When I contact Aria Fiction I was nervous but my edit (Melanie) was (IS) so awesome! I can’t tell you what it means to an author who didn’t have the best first publishing experience to finally find a publisher that is as excited about my debut novel as I was. Aria gave me faith in publishing again. Thank you guys for that.
    So… here it is, The Lucky Dress. Yes, this is a rebranded 2nd edition version of Little Gray Dress with a brand new title, gorgeous new cover, and a 20k word addition. If you loved Little Gray Dress, I really think you’ll love this version of the book even more! When I got ready to do the addition, I read through all my reviews and I’ll be honest, an author doesn’t get the chance to improve a book that’s been previously published very often, there was some great advice in some of those reviews that I did take. So, I thank you reviewers (some of you anyway) for giving me some great advice that I think might have just helped me improve my writing and definitely helped improve this story.
    Thank you for checking out my new gorgeous cover (and sharing it!) and I hope you’ll pre-order the book and tell your friends, leave a review, and chat with me over on social media! And before you ask, YES… I’ve got more books coming. My next release is on its way in April 2018 and my third release in the winter of 2018/early 2019 is the Liam story. So, stay tuned for lots of exciting things coming from me. (I’ve got so many secrets I’ve been holding onto it’s not even funny anymore!)

    The Lucky Dress
    By author: Aimee Brown
    Publisher: Aria Fiction
    Genre: Romantic Comedy/Chick Lit
    Release Date: eBook – August 07, 2018
    PreOrder NOW: (international Amazon link) mybook.to/TheLuckyDress

    Blurb:
    We all have our lucky dress… an irresistibly hilarious rom-com: perfect for fans of Anna Bell, Jo Watson and Sophie Kinsella.
    Emi Harrison hasn’t been feeling particularly lucky lately. Ever since her ex-fiancée, Jack Cabot, successfully shattered her heart into a million pieces. She’s managed to avoid him for a whole year, but all that’s about to change at her brother Evan’s wedding…
    She will have to face Jack, Jack’s sister, Jack’s parents, and Jack’s new girlfriend: a mean girl that just won’t quit. What could possibly go wrong?
    But with her lucky dress on, she might just find new love, life, and maybe even happiness at last!
    *This book was previously published as Little Gray Dress (now has a 20k word addition)

    About the Author: Aimee Brown

    Aimee BrownBio: Aimee Brown is a writer of romantic comedies set in Portland, Oregon, and an avid reader. She spends much of her time writing, raising three teenagers, binge-watching shows on Netflix and obsessively cleaning and redecorating her house. She’s fluent in sarcasm and has been known to utter profanities like she’s competing for a medal.
    Aimee grew up in Oregon but is now a transplant living in cold Montana with her husband of twenty years, three teenage children, and far too many pets. She is a lot older than she looks and yes, that is a tattoo across her chest. Aimee is very active on social media and would love to see you stop by and say hello.

     

    Social Media:
    Facebook | Twitter Instagram | Pinterest | Website/Blog | Amazon Page | Newsletter

    What do you think of this beautiful cover? Tell me in the comments below!

    Thank you to the below bloggers for helping me reveal this cover and for being the most supportive bloggers I know! I appreciate you all more than I could tell you.
    Emily Rabitoy
    Extreme Damage
    Rae Reads
    KDReads
    Ali – The Dragon Slayer
    Monique McDonell
    Pretty Little Book Reviews
    Avid Reader Diary
    ItaPixie’s Book Corner
    Life at 17
    Tale Out Loud
    Camilla Isley
    These Words A Blog
    Book Lover in Florida
    Books & Wine Are Lovely

  • Blog

    An interview with Holly Cortelyou, author of new release Two Reckless Hearts

    3/4/2018

    Holly CortelyouHello My Lovelies!
    I’m Holly Cortelyou, and I write small town, contemporary romances with sassy heroines and swoon-worthy heroes. I love it sweet, and I love it steamy…but at the end of the day, I just gotta have my happy-ever-after!
    My latest book, Two Reckless Hearts, just released on March 1st — it’s the first in my Barrett Ridge series with the seven Barrett siblings and their crazy, heart-melting journeys to love.
    Two Reckless Hearts starts off with a family wedding at a luxurious beach resort – and it has all the quirky family dynamics that we adore in small town romances. Jami and Beck star in Two Reckless Hearts, and it was a blast writing an enemies-to-lovers story set on a lush tropical paradise, deep in the Caribbean. I dreamed of silky, blue waters and the hot, rhythmic beat of steel drums the whole time I was writing Jami and Beck’s battle to love.
    On my average writing day, you will find me in my little office with the white French doors, with a silver lab puppy napping on her giant Costco bed, and my Maine Coon kitty sprawled on my keyboard. Between fighting for my chair with the cat and fluffballs floating through the air, I sip on black coffee all morning and type away (or play on Facebook).
    My favorite quotation and writing inspiration is from C. Ara Campbell — “Here’s to the girl who read the compass written on the walls of her heart and follows the North Star etched upon her Spirit.” Following my writing dream has been scary and liberating, challenging and exciting…and I love it 99.99% of the time.
    But…that’s enough about me! Keep scrolling down and check out the snippet from Two Reckless Hearts – Beck and Jami are neck deep in the jungle on a wacky wedding scavenger hunt…
    Luv ‘n hugs,
    Holly Cortelyou
    …Dare to Love!

    Links:
    https://www.facebook.com/HollyCortelyouAuthor/
    https://www.hollycortelyou.com/hollygram (Free Novel and newsletter)
    https://twitter.com/HollyCortelyou

    Two Reckless Hearts - Cover
    TWO RECKLESS HEARTS (Barrett Ridge #1) by Holly Cortelyou

    She’s a temptation he can’t risk…
    One beach resort. Two arch rivals. Will hot island nights turn enemies to lovers? If you love heart-melting heroes, claim your new book-boyfriend today…
    Clickity-Click-It:
    Amazon: http://amzn.to/2GTGUFQ
    Nook: https://goo.gl/Qtixx2
    iBooks: https://goo.gl/yVnnJN
    Kobo: https://goo.gl/vTxvab
    Google Play: https://goo.gl/nH3Uoq
    Universal: https://www.books2read.com/u/mZ5Oj5

    Teaser from TWO RECKLESS HEARTS:
    Jami surveyed the list, and Beck peered over her shoulder. Her breath caught in her throat and a dart of tension shot between her thighs. He smelled of cedar and something tropical. It was divine. No, she was not going to let her knees buckle under her.
    “What is a red ginger lily? And how are we supposed to know if we find one?” Beck’s bicep brushed hers as he leaned over and pointed at the second item on the list.
    She was not going to break into a sweat. She steeled herself. She needed to remember she hated Beck Kavanagh. He was her competition, and she never lost her focus during a fight. Calm. She needed to find her Zen spot. Hell. Why did that make her think of a G-spot?
    Jami pivoted and stepped away from Beck as she handed the hunt instructions to him, but Beck grabbed her wrist.
    “Let go.”
    “Hang on. Hold still.”
    “No.”
    “There’s something small, brown and very crawly, right in the middle of your back.”
    Jami stiffened like a flag pole. “Get it off me.”
    Beck rolled up the map and brushed at her back. “It’s stuck.”
    Panic welled in Jami’s belly, but she dragged in a deep breath and exhaled in a low whistle. “You’ve got one job, mister. Now remove it.”
    “Maybe you should drop, roll, and squish it?”
    “Is that a joke?”
    “Yes, but you don’t seem amused.” Beck studied a spot right between her shoulder blades. “Hmm. It seems to have quite a few sticky-looking legs. Very wriggly.”
    “If you don’t get it off in the next five seconds, I’m going to rip this shirt right off my body and set it on fire.”
    Beck grinned. “Do you want me to flick it off or not? I like your idea better.”
    “Do it. Now.” Jami ground her teeth together as a whisper of wind tickled a wisp of hair against her neck. Her knees wobbled.
    Beck wound up as if ready to smack the crap out of the bug, but at the last second, he slid the map under the crawler and flicked it away, deep into the ferny undergrowth next to the pathway. “You’re good to go.”
    Jami jumped three feet to the side and shivered. “What the hell was it?”
    “It was a BDB.”
    “What?”
    “A big damn bug.”
    “Aren’t you the comedian?”
    “I’m an engineer, not an entomologist.”
    Jami scowled, but Beck grinned. She scrunched her eyebrows as if to convince him she was not amused, but he pointed at her and laughed. A burble of laughter escaped from between her lips.
    “Fine. You win. I won’t take this so seriously.”
    Beck threw back his head and laughed with ease. “I find that hard to believe.”
    As one, they bent over the map and the list and plotted their next move together. Beck’s shoulder brushed hers, and Jami’s pulse jumped. She threw him a side-eye. His nose was straight, and that chin of his was square, determined, and utterly sexy. His thick black eyelashes swept low, and her heart lurched.
    Jami leaned in, and her breasts brushed his arm as she delivered a fleeting kiss on the hard angle of his cheekbone. She sprang back before he could react.
    “Thanks for rescuing me.”
    *******************

    Comment

    Jessica Jones
    3/15/2018 06:44:02 pm

    Great interview! I’m excited to read the book.

  • Blog

    Musical Monday with author Amy Rivers

    4/10/2017

    Musical Monday
    Amy Rivers
    Good Music #MusicalMonday By Amy Rivers

    I’m going to go ahead and disclaim this post by saying that my writing soundtrack is often re-runs of the Golden Girls playing in the background. As long as there is noise around me, I can set about my tasks and get my work done. That being said, I listen to music a lot when I am writing and even more when I am brainstorming / plotting. I listen to music when I need to strike the proper emotion, because, for me, the best music is the kind that makes you feel something deep down in your stomach (and sometimes in other places, but that’s another post).

    Here’s my go-to list of mood music when I need inspiration:

    #1: Leonard Cohen: Ain’t No Cure for Love

    There is literally nothing on earth that gets me in a more romantic mood than Leonard Cohen’s gravelly voice. Don’t get me wrong. I love my husband. I love Mr. Darcy. And I love me a good love story. BUT, there is something about Cohen’s voice that reaches straight down into my heart and makes me all warm and fuzzy.

    #2: Bad Religion: Los Angeles is Burning

    Actually, anything from The Empire Strikes First album is likely to get me all politically indignant. And sometimes, you need a good dose of indignation, especially when you’re writing about women in politics.

    #3: Ani DiFranco: Little Plastic Castle

    Girl power. Enough said.

    #4: Cyndi Lauper: True Colors album

    Because Cyndi Lauper is AMAZING! This album takes me back to my childhood, under the headphones with my Walkman, belting out Boy Blue or The Faraway Nearby in the backseat of the car. Her version of What’s Going On is one of my favorites. Listening to Cyndi Lauper makes me feel nostalgic and sassy.

    #5: Rent: Soundtack (either Broadway or movie)

    When I want to reconnect with humanity, I listen to Rent. It reminds me that people can be kind to one another, can love with their whole hearts, and will stand up for what they believe in.

    And last but not least #6: Tracy Chapman: self-titled album

    I grew up on Tracy Chapman. This album is full of ballads about social injustice and the complexities of human life, relationships and family. I could (and often do) listen to this album on repeat. It’s just that good.

    Whether you’re a big fan of light jazz, you like to rock out to death metal, or anything up, down or in between, my suggestion when building a soundtrack for writing is to pick something that makes you FEEL whatever it is you want to feel at the time. It’s the best medicine for what ails you.
    Best Laid Plans and Other Disasters - Cover
    Best Laid Plans & Other Disasters by Amy Rivers
    ABOUT THE BOOK: A year after she is elected mayor of a prosperous Colorado city, Gwen’s career and life are fully on track, all according to plan. So why is she in such a slump emotionally and physically? New conflicts keep boiling over in city government, and her earlier allies no longer support her. She and her boyfriend have an ideal relationship, which she finds inexplicably dissatisfying. Without telling her, he decides to take a new job that has him traveling out of state every week. Suddenly unexpected developments turn everything topsy-turvy, and Gwen is forced to re-examine her carefully-planned life.

    Available at:
    Amazon
    Kobo
    Visit Amy’s Website here.