contemporary romance

A beautiful story begun by one, finished by another

Welcome to my guest, Emily Johnson, who has a unique story about how this book came to be!

Can you give readers an idea of what Bird of Paradise is about?

Bird of Paradise follows the story of Arianna Heywood, who is looking forward to joining her older sister at UC Berkeley in the fall (it is the 1960s after all) and as a hopeless romantic she dreams of one day sipping Bellinis with her love in the city of her dreams.   

When a spring break trip to her family’s island home reveals that her childhood crush’s feelings have changed, she is eager to step into the world of womanhood. But you cannot always choose what happens in life. Facing immeasurable pain, she embarks on a decade-long journey of self-discovery, working to find her place in the world, torn between the pull of her Island and the possibility of what lies beyond. Guided by the wisdom of those who came before her, she must bridge the gap between her past and the story of her future, but then an unexpected encounter could change it all.

The book is a coming-of-age, family saga and romance. The genre grows and matures as Ari’s story is told.

Where did the inspiration for Bird of Paradise come from?

The book was co-written with my mother. She began writing Bird of Paradise over 20 years ago when she was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer.

After many setbacks and recurrences, she passed away in 2012 (long after they said she would) and left the book unfinished. I found a letter from her with a copy of her manuscript and a request that I finish the story for her.  So, the inspiration was her.

What was it like trying to finish your mom’s story?

When I first sat down to read Bird of Paradise, it was within weeks of her passing. I was still in that very raw place, and it was difficult. I could hear her voice through the words. Even though it’s a work of fiction, there are many events and characters that pull from her life and the lives of those around her. As I read the story, it became more of a way to continue a conversation with her and it was a source of comfort.

From a technical standpoint, finishing someone else’s work isn’t easy. Her writing style and my writing style are very different. She is poetic and descriptive, and I am more abrupt and analytical. However, I knew exactly where I wanted to take the story itself and actually wrote the ending first. Then I backtracked my way to that line where she left off and added events and conversations to her part of the book to make a cohesive story and complete each character’s story arch. Then I added layer upon layer of detail to meld our styles. She created all but one character, so that was helpful. I think she purposely left one character for me to create and that was a lot of fun.

What do you think makes a good fiction book?

You must write with passion and believe in your story and characters. It’s easy to tell when an author is writing for someone else and not themselves.

Are you planning to write another book?

Perhaps. I have an idea for one that tells the story of the parents from Bird of Paradise as their relationship is key to the book. I just haven’t been able to find the time to really delve into it.

STORY:

Seventeen-year-old Arianna Heywood is a hopeless romantic who dreams of one day sipping Bellini’s with her love in Italy and when a trip home to the Island reveals that her innocent childhood crush no longer looks at her as his kid sister, Ari is eager to step into the world of womanhood. But as is so often the case, you cannot always choose what happens in life.

Facing immeasurable pain, Ari embarks on a decade long journey of self-discovery, but an unexpected encounter in the city of her dreams may change it all again. Torn between the pull of her Island and the possibility of what lies beyond, Ari must bridge the gap between her past and the story of her future. They say some love stories are meant to last forever. Will theirs be one of them? Only Ari has the power to decide.

Excerpt From Bird of Paradise

The sun was in its descending arc over the western headland now. It was an artist’s sun, all big and orange, spreading its sepia light over the Island, transforming it from brilliant contrasts to silhouetted images against a vibrant sky. There was a light trail that extended across the lagoon and out to the open sea, a golden touch she had called it when she was very young. But first she needed to cry the tears she had been suppressing all that day. It wasn’t a moment of weakness. She just needed to leave the tears behind. And when the last one had descended her cheek and dissolved into the fabric of her linen shirt, she knew she was ready. So, she resettled herself on the sleek wooden bench that Grandfather had lovingly crafted out of a singly koa log all those years ago and into which he and Mem had carved their names, and then Mama and Papa had done the same after them. She followed the light trail as far as she could see and searched the horizon until she found what she was looking for – the ferry that was sailing away with everything she loved most in this world. She stared at it for a very long time, watching it grow smaller and smaller. Then she closed her eyes and tried to remember what her life had been like before Michael.

Links

Instagram @ejohnson2014

Twitter @elhughes01

Website: emilyjohnsonwrites.net

Purchase Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08ZYX339Z

Bios:

Marilyn was born in Southern California but spent her formative years in the San Francisco Bay Area with her parents and older sister.  She graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a degree in Sociology and received an advanced degree in Elementary Education.  After moving with her husband to Aspen, Colorado Marilyn spent the next 20 years as a public-school teacher and elementary education consultant and lecturer.  She and her family moved to Pinehurst, North Carolina in 1996 and shortly thereafter was diagnosed with breast and advanced ovarian cancer.  She began writing The Bird of Paradise as a life gift for her daughter, Emily.  She passed away in 2012 leaving the novel unfinished – for Emily to complete.

Emily was born in Aspen, Colorado where she enjoyed skiing, dancing ballet and playing golf.  At the age of 13, she and her family moved to Pinehurst, North Carolina.  She attended UNC-Chapel Hill and graduated with a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a concentration in Public Relations.   She currently resides in Raleigh, North Carolina with her husband and son.  Emily enjoys playing golf, running, kickboxing, reading, and spending time with her family.  Finishing her mother’s work has been one of the greatest honors of her life.

Iris Blobel has a new release! Check it out!

Let me take you to New Zealand
I’m happy to share with you another story which is set in NZ.
If you love Australian / New Zealand romance, be sure to get your copy today!

About IN THE SHADOWS OF A LIE

The discovery of her mother’s diaries unravels a secret which sends Lani on a journey to New Zealand …

She lost her mother in an accident. Now, Lani Dekker is determined to meet the man who, according to her mother’s diaries, is her father. He’s not what she expected, a bit on the extravagant side, but she soon warms up to him, thanks no less to Dylan, her father’s neighbour. Despite her attraction to Dylan, she can’t figure out whether he’s a friend or foe.

Dylan Harper is merely going through the daily motions after his wife died in a ski crash. That is, until his life is turned upside down by the arrival of his neighbour’s daughter. Their attraction is instant, even more so when they wake up in the same bed after an earthquake. However, it’s her accusation that his interest in her involves her father’s money rather than their mutual magnetism that derails their newfound bond.

Will finding the truth about her parents be a chance for Lani and Dylan to overcome their differences?

Get your copy of IN THE SHADOWS OF A LIE today!
on Amazon

What reviewers say about the story:

5 stars:
A beautiful plot line with very emotional characters.. The path to love is difficult and has lot of intresting turns for the characters.Loved the book and the leads.

5 stars:
Heartwarming story about love, forgiveness and acceptance. Lani’s grieving her Mother’s death and trying to cope, when her grandpa opens up and tells her about an untruth, lie. She finds her lost father, unbeknownst to him he even has a daughter. Toby, Lani’s birth father, never married or loved another woman after her mother. Toby’s neighbor, Dylan, and long time friend had lost his wife after only 2 years of marriage and he is still missing her when Dylan finds Lani in the stairwell of Toby’s home. Lani’s mother’s belief in memories and forgiveness helps Lani move on in forgiveness toward her Grandpa, accepting and loving her Dad, Toby and loving Dylan for who he is.

Add IN THE SHADOWS OF A LIE to your
Goodreads TBR !

Where to find Iris:
Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bQ68rL
Website http://www.irisblobel.com/
Blog http://www.irisblobel.com/blog
Twitter https://twitter.com/_iris_b
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/IrisBlobel
Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4067254.Iris_Blobel
Amazon Author Page https://www.amazon.com/Iris-Blobel/e/B00FNFP3LI/
Other Online Bookstores https://books2read.com/irisblobel

Check out this hockey two-fer from Linda O’Connor!

Welcome, Linda! Tell us about your books!

I’m celebrating the release of the first two books of a new series, Laugh-out-Loud Hockey Caper Romance. The first book is Love and the Hidden Hockey Clues. It’s about a doctor who finds a tin box hidden between the studs during renovations of her home. She thought the items were random hockey mementos but realizes they’re clues and enlists the help of the captain of the local pro hockey team to help sort out where they lead. I’ve always thought it would be cool to find a hidden treasure during renovations and that sparked the initial idea.

Love and the Hockey Heist, going live on June 12, is the second book in the series. It starts out with the theft of a treasured travel alarm clock and that triggers a hilarious series of events when Dr. Piper Roblin tries to steal it back! It involves a fake engagement with popular pro hockey player, Brent Dean. The theft of a travel alarm clock is based on a real-life experience of mine. I never did get it back, but turns out, it’s a fun premise for a story.

I also love escape rooms with the challenge of clues to decipher and puzzles to solve. I thought I’d weave that type of white-collar crime mystery into a romance. Add in a smart, sassy doctor and a swoon-worthy professional hockey player, and the stage is set for a fun, clever hockey caper. All of the (stand-alone) stories in this series will have an element of white-collar crime – like a cozy mystery without murder!

Here’s the blurb for Love and the Hidden Hockey Clues ~

When she was younger, Dr. Abigail Clark dreamed of playing professional hockey, but the world wasn’t ready for a female player. That stung. She skated as far away from hockey as possible – until she lands a job in the emergency department of a hockey-crazy town and buys the house of the late beloved Zamboni driver. A tin box is discovered during the renovation of her new home, and Abigail brushes it off as a time capsule left by the previous owner – that is until someone tries to steal it. Turns out, the odd collection is more than just sentimental hockey memorabilia.

Abigail inadvertently embroils Del Braebury, captain of the local pro hockey team, into helping her sort it out. Her history with hockey players is rocky at best, but he comes in handy when she needs to access parts of the rink that are off limits. Del is happy to be tangled up in the clues of the hidden hockey loot. In the process of solving the mystery, he hopes to win Abigail’s heart!

Enjoy an excerpt from Love and the Hidden Hockey Clues ~

“So you have a date for Saturday, and you have no idea who he is except that he’s a good kisser?” Sierra asked. Her hands might as well have been on her hips.

“Pretty much,” Abigail said, a tad sheepishly. “I’m sure I’ll see him again at the gym before next Saturday. I’ll ask him then.”

Piper’s eyes widened. “Isn’t that gym owned by one of the Edge players? I heard the team hangs out there.”

Sierra’s jaw dropped. “You kissed a hockey player?”

“What? No.” Although they certainly were built. And they dropped ten grand like it was Monopoly money. “Oh, jeez.”

Bailey laughed delightedly and pulled out her cell phone. “The woman who has vowed never to date a hockey player, who disses hockey players at every opportunity, who shows nothing but disdain for women who date hockey players…is going out with a hockey player. Wouldn’t that be karma?” She searched for pictures of the Brighton Edge players and handed it to Abigail.

Abigail took Bailey’s phone reluctantly and scrolled through the team members. Her heart dropped when she found him. She held the phone out to show the others.

Bailey whistled, Sierra’s eyes narrowed, and Piper tried unsuccessfully to hide a sympathetic smile.

Abigail was going to the dinner and dance with Del Braebury, captain of the Brighton Edge hockey team.

Here’s the blurb for Love and the Hockey Heist ~

Dr. Piper Roblin is peeved. She’s pretty sure her new neighbour stole her travel alarm clock. It may not be worth much, but it has sentimental value. Piper hatches a plan to get it back, but her plan relies on Brent Dean, popular forward of the Brighton Edge hockey team, to finagle a dinner invitation to gain access to her neighbour’s house.

Brent thought the invite from the stunningly beautiful cardiologist was based on a thoughtful gesture to welcome new neighbours to Brighton. He didn’t realize the gig included subterfuge, thievery, and a fake engagement. But he didn’t get to where he is without a lot of hustle and determination, and since he’s always up for some fun, let the games begin.

Enjoy an excerpt from Love and the Hockey Heist ~

“I need a fiancé.” Piper Roblin tucked her purse under the stool and sat down heavily. Her shoulder-length hair, the colour of rich dark chocolate flounced around her heart-shaped face. Her three best friends, already seated at the workstations waiting for the cooking class to begin, turned and stared at her with identical expressions: open-mouthed shock.

Bailey Jansen, a dermatologist with an adventurous spirit, and the most outspoken of their group, was the first to recover. “Excuse me?”

Piper pulled back her shoulders, trying to make the most of her one-hundred-fifty-seven-centimeter height, and raised her chin. “I need a man, a hockey player to be exact.”

Bailey grinned at the determination in Piper’s brown eyes and waved a hand. “I’ve been saying the same thing for months.”

They looked expectantly at Abigail Clark, a levelheaded emergency room physician, who sat at the workstation in front of them beside the fourth pea in their pod, Sierra Westlake, a serious-minded general surgeon.

“Why are you looking at me like that?” Abigail asked.

“Two words. Del Braebury.” Bailey pointed at the impressive diamond ring on Abigail’s left hand. “You’re engaged to the captain of the Brighton Edge hockey team.”

“You can make it happen,” Piper said.

Sierra raised a hand. “Whoa. Let’s just pump the brakes here. Why do you need a fiancé? Last I heard you were too busy being the chief of cardiology to worry about dating, never mind planning a wedding. And didn’t you say that your parents are big on the whole pre-arranged marriage idea?”

Piper waved that aside. “This is just temporary. I have no intention of settling into a relationship. I accepted an invitation to a dinner party, but the only reason I was invited was because I sort of mentioned that my fiancé played for the Brighton Edge.”

Sierra shook her head. “What? Why would you do that?”

“I was backed into a corner.” Piper gritted her teeth.

Bailey laughed. “I hear you, sister. You don’t know how many times I’ve needed to use that.”

“Really?”

“No, never. How did that even come up?”

Buy link for Love and the Hidden Hockey Clues

Buy link for Love and the Hockey Heist

Award-winning author Linda O’Connor started writing romantic comedies when she needed a creative outlet other than subtly rearranging the displays at a local home décor store. Her books have enjoyed bestseller status. When not writing, she’s a physician at an Urgent Care Clinic. She shares her medical knowledge in fast-paced, well-written, romances – with an unexpected twist. Her favourite prescription to write? Laugh every day. Love every minute.

Website:  https://www.lindaoconnor.net

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

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/LindaOConnor98

Amazon Author Page:  https://www.amazon.com/Linda-OConnor/e/B00S7CNLEA

Newsletter Sign up: https://www.lindaoconnor.net/contact/

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

Giveaway! Get in on it now!

Strong Enough

The Masonville Series Book 4

by Jana Richards

Genre: Small Town Contemporary Romance

Love can make you stronger, if you let it.

Charlotte Saunders has a full life—a rewarding career as a nurse, meaningful volunteer work at a dog shelter, and family, friends and pets she adores. But no matter how hard she tries, she can’t forget the horrible event that’s haunted her for ten years.

A survivor of childhood sexual abuse, Damon Greyson now helps others who have suffered trauma. His experience and intuition alert him to trouble in Charlotte’s past, and he wants to help her, if only she’d let him.

As they work together to help veterans suffering from PTSD and neglected dogs needing loving homes, their feelings for each other deepen. But when the trauma from Charlotte’s past roars back to life, both are forced to confront their painful histories—or die trying.

Add to Goodreads

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Unexpected

The Masonville Series Book 3

Single dad Ben Greyson wants only to retain custody of his two stepdaughters. A dysfunctional childhood has made family the most important thing in his life. When his late wife’s parents sue for custody, a desperate Ben is left with two choices – run away with his girls or marry his next-door neighbor.
Jamie Garven wants to be a mother. She’s intrigued by her handsome new neighbor and falls in love with his little girls. Then Ben is faced with losing his children, and Jamie agrees to marry him for a chance at motherhood. They’re determined to show the world, and the girls’ grandparents, two loving parents.
Their marriage of convenience turns into unexpected love. But Ben interprets Jamie’s efforts to save their family as betrayal—they could lose everything, including each other.

**On Sale at Amazon for .99cents June 3 – 17!!**

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To Heal a Heart

The Masonville Series Book 2

Two souls in pain, two hearts in need of rescue.

Garrett Saunders’ world changed two years ago on a road in Afghanistan. Back home, he feels like a stranger. As he struggles to find his place in the world, he meets a horse destined for the slaughterhouse and a woman bent on rescuing the strays of the world, including him.

Blair Greyson moves to Masonville to look after her ailing grandfather and give her rescue horses a home. Right away she butts heads with a surly former Marine. Despite a rocky start, they come to an agreement: Blair will board Garrett’s rescue horse and he’ll help with repairs around her farm.

Garrett finds purpose working with Blair—and falls in love with her. But she’s hiding a secret. Can she forgive herself and accept Garrett’s love, or will she let guilt and regret continue to rule her life?

**On Sale at Amazon for .99cents May 20 – June 3!!**

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Child of Mine

The Masonville Series Book 1

Is Lauren’s love for Cole stronger than her fear of scandal in her hometown?

Lauren didn’t intend to sleep with her brother-in-law Cole on the day of her husband’s funeral. But now that she is pregnant, she’s not sorry. Cole’s given her a baby, a long-wished-for miracle. He’s been her friend forever, though she never told him or anyone else how unhappy her marriage to his cheating brother was. And she’s afraid to tell the small town that considered her husband a hero that the baby isn’t his.

Cole’s been in love with Lauren since he was sixteen. It kills him that everyone believes the baby is his dead brother’s. All he wants is to claim the baby, and Lauren, as his own. Though she marries him, will Lauren’s heart ever be his?

Lauren must tell the truth or risk losing Cole. Is her newly-discovered love for him greater than her fear of scandal in her hometown?

**On Sale at Amazon for .99cents until May 20!!**

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When Jana Richards read her first romance novel, she immediately knew two things: she had to commit the stories running through her head to paper, and they had to end with a happily ever after. She also knew she’d found what she was meant to do. Since then she’s never met a romance genre she didn’t like. She writes contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and historical romance set in World War Two, in lengths ranging from short story to full length novel. Just for fun, she throws in generous helpings of humor, and the occasional dash of the paranormal. Her paranormal romantic suspense “Seeing Things” was a 2008 EPPIE finalist.

In her life away from writing, Jana is an accountant/admin assistant, a mother to two grown daughters, and a wife to her husband Warren. She enjoys golf, yoga, movies, concerts, travel and reading, not necessarily in that order. She and her husband live in Winnipeg, Canada. She loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website at www.janarichards.com

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Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

$20 Amazon

It’s a small world after all– from Anita Verebes!

So, I’m back with a new contemporary romance novel, once again set in my backyard of Brisbane, Australia. For the most part, anyway.

Aside from writing about a location that I’m familiar with, I guess I chose South East Queensland as my main setting for the Jukebox Collection series because most Australian novels I’ve read have sort of skipped my little corner of the world.

And I get it. I do. Brisbane’s pretty much unheard of. Most people, when you say “Australia”, automatically imagine the outback or Sydney or Byron Bay. (Ugh. Byron. I’m not a fan. It’s overrated. This is the hill I will die on.)

But South East Queensland has so much to offer. We have beaches that are far superior to Bondi or Byron (fight me), rainforests to explore and mountains to climb, zoos, and theme parks, and a cultural centre in Brisbane which -while it is admittedly nowhere near as good as Melbourne- is steadily growing and improving over time. Hell, we even have movie studios on the Gold Coast. Oh, and the subtropical climate here is generally pretty awesome. (Let’s not consider the recent flooding and months of rain. That’s a once-or-twice-every-decade sort of deal.)

It seemed only natural to set a series of novels here. My little urban paradise.

I’m aware that I spend a bit more time describing the local setting in Handle With Care (Book 1 of the Jukebox Collection), but in You Can’t Hurry Love we venture a bit further north to explore Hervey Bay, and also take a short flight across the pond to visit Charlie in London.

And I love that. I love that novels can take us all over the world, without ever leaving our homes. That’s something I’ve relied heavily on since a certain pandemic happened. As much as I’m looking forward to travelling again, I’m glad I can do it from my armchair…and I like to hope that, through my writing, I can share the gift with other readers, too.

Sometimes love is worth the wait.

Sara Carlisle and Charlie Rhodes are complete opposites. Oil and water. Chalk and cheese.

Before Sara even meets Charlie, she hates him. He’s insulted her best friend -a woman Sara considers family- and that is unforgivable. In person he proves to be just as obnoxious and insufferable as she’d anticipated. And, as far as she’s concerned, the fact that he’s tall and muscular with an accent to die for is not enough to redeem him. Charlie Rhodes is an arrogant A–hole (with a capital A!) and that’s all there is to it!

For his part, Charlie thinks Sara is a conceited pain in the arse. A prissy princess to the nth degree. It becomes his prerogative to get under her skin for the sheer pleasure of riling her up. He feels genuine enjoyment in the face of her frustration, and he makes no secret of it. Besides, she gives as good as she gets!

Fundamentally opposed in every way, it’s obvious to those around them that they’re not going to get along.

But unfortunately, thanks to their respective families, they are stuck in each other’s lives for the foreseeable future. Being civil is as good as it is going to get…or is it?

When their relationship turns from reluctant acquaintances to red hot lovers, they find it’s good.

Really good.

What could possibly go wrong?

In a slow-burn romance that follows hot on the heels of Handle With Care*, Sara and Charlie discover that you really can’t rush romance.

*Both Handle With Care and You Can’t Hurry Love can be read as standalone novels in the expanding Jukebox Collection series.

EXCERPT:

“So, tell me,” Charlie directed the question her way once she’d made her promise to Gemma, the glint in his eye seemingly payback for her smugness at his own telling off, “why doesn’t your boyfriend ever attend these family get-togethers?”

“Roger marches to the beat of his own drum,” she answered easily with a shrug. “Sometimes he comes along, other times he doesn’t. We don’t need to live in each other’s pockets.”

After a couple of years of doing the whole on-and-off/casual relationship thing, she was used to it. Besides, Roger didn’t pressure her to attend events with him, either. Which was a good thing, because his snobby parents couldn’t stand her, and vice versa.

Sara felt as though things were pretty equal in that way.

“I couldn’t imagine him in a low-key restaurant like this, to be honest,” Jeff chimed in, chuckling. He stuck his nose in the air and assumed a haughty tone as he looked down at his menu, “Sara, darling, I don’t see a single main here over twenty-five dollars. Outrageous! We’re truly dining with the commoners tonight.”

Balling up a purple paper napkin, she threw it at her friend, even while she smothered her own giggles. “Stop it,” she chastened, “he’s not that bad.”

Gemma snorted. Sara levelled her with a glare, but all Gemma did was raise her glass of water to her twitching lips and sip primly. “Sorry,” she said, sounding anything but apologetic, “but that impression was spot on.”

“You both suck,” Sara sighed, shaking her head.

“Sounds like you could do with a real man in your life,” Charlie was having far too much fun at her expense, and it ruffled her feathers the wrong way.

It was one thing for her friends –who also worked with Roger in the hospital– to playfully tease Sara about him, but altogether different for this random English wanker to do so.

“I hope you’re not suggesting you’re a viable option,” she sassed back, “because I don’t think you fall into that category either.”

Okay, so it was a bit flat and ridiculous as far as comebacks went, but he scowled back at her, so she took it as a win, nonetheless.

“Don’t flatter yourself, love.”

Aww, diddums, did I hurt your feelings?”

They were interrupted by their names being snapped on either side of them. He was cowed by his mother’s frown, while Sara sighed and apologised to Gemma.

This really was going to be much more difficult than she’d initially thought.

BUY LINKS:

Amazon (US): https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09S35VNTL

Universal (International Amazon ebook & Wide Print): https://books2read.com/YouCantHurryLove

Prices (in USD):

Print: $9.99

E-Book: $2.99 (and enrolled in Kindle Unlimited)

Length: 240 Pages

Author Bio:

Anita (A.N.) Verebes is a daydreamer and romance novelist. As a civil marriage celebrant, Anita makes a living telling other people’s love stories and celebrating real romance! Also armed with a Bachelor of Education (Secondary), Anita is a qualified -but not practising- High School English teacher who loves to read anything she can get her hands on, including fanfiction. (And, yes, she’s written her fair share of that, too.) Living directly between Queensland’s sunny Gold and Sunshine coasts, Anita spends her days exploring the Great South East with her husband and their two rambunctious sons. When at home, she’s also a slave to two cats and one very spoilt Great Dane X.

Social Media/Website Links:

Website: https://anverebesauthor.wordpress.com/

Blog: https://anverebesauthor.wordpress.com/blog

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

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/21688142.A_N_Verebes

Amazon Author Profile: https://amazon.com/author/anverebes

Bookbub Author Profile: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/a-n-verebes

Newsletter sign up (receive a FREE ebook copy of Handle With Care – Book 1 in the Jukebox Collection) https://anverebesauthor.wordpress.com/newsletter_signup/

Baking cookies: sweet combination or recipe for disaster?

Welcome to sister Wild Rose Press author Darlene Deluca and her cookie collection book!

—“Here, let me take your coat. Just dump your bag. I’ve got tons of chocolate and snacks.” Helen steered Alana into the spacious great room, which opened into a fabulous light and airy kitchen. Alana loved her aunt’s home—old and stately on the outside but completely updated and contemporary on the inside.

“Wow, Aunt Helen, this is gorgeous. You didn’t tell me you changed your color scheme. That tree is amazing.” The towering Christmas tree shone with white lights and hues of blue plus silver and white. “It’s festive and, I don’t know, tranquil at the same time.”—

That’s one snippet from my new Christmas novella, Cookie Collision, just released by The Wild Rose Press. It’s a sweet romance that’s part of a 50-some collection of holiday stories that all feature a cookie theme.

Isn’t it amazing how every Christmas tree has its own look? Almost like snowflakes or a fingerprint, no two are exactly alike. A thousand people can start with the same basic tree with green branches and make it fit their personality, taste, style and decor.

When my husband and I first got married, we had no particular style. We bought basic glass balls for ornaments and hand strung popcorn-and-cranberry garland to decorate our early Christmas trees. (We didn’t have much money, either.) Through the years we changed it up. For a while, we chose a red and silver color scheme. Then we switched to a more sophisticated look with rose and gold ribbons and ornaments. Then one year I found some blue and green ornaments that I absolutely loved, and a whole new “look” was born.

I love seeing how people trim their trees—colored lights or white, solid or flashing, handmade ornaments from the kids or high-end designer baubles. In the last few years, I’ve seen a lot of fun trees in pink and white and some beautiful, more traditional trees in reds and golds, and it makes me wish I could have a different tree in every room!

Do you have a favorite theme or color scheme? I’d love to hear about them!

And here’s another little peek at Cookie Collision, my newly released Christmas cookie novella.

—“Ooh, I love these. Sweet and savory at the same time.” Alana picked up a pretzel rod dipped in dark chocolate and set it on a small dessert plate.

“Yeah, those are good, but I’m in the mood for something sweet.”

“I think I can help with that.” She plucked one of her frosted snowman cookies from the plate.

A slow smile spread across his face. “Nah, I’m going to need that red stocking.”

“Well, okay. Picky, picky.” She placed the snowman on her own plate and lifted the other one.

“Reminds me of you.”

Her brows pulled together, and she gave a little laugh. “A Christmas stocking? And why is that?”

“Reminds me of how we met.”

“Ah, yes. Those snazzy red slippers. Those are some keepers, for sure.” She remembered his warm hands on her leg as he’d gently slid the socks on. She glanced back and saw they were partially blocked from view by the Christmas tree.

Justin bit into the cookie and chewed. “Yeah, that’s good. But I was thinking of something even sweeter.” He pulled her closer and brushed a thumb across her cheek.

When her eyes fluttered closed, his lips covered hers, and she wound her arms around his neck. Mmmm. Sweet, indeed.—

Book Blurb:

Before she can let up and enjoy some holiday cheer, real estate agent Alana Drake has work to do. With Christmas moving in fast, she has clients to meet with, houses to show, and cookies to bake. Every open house deserves her special touch—homemade and hand-decorated sugar cookies for a warm welcome. And she needs several dozen for upcoming holiday events and open houses.

But a poorly timed stop at the grocery store could upend more than her bag of groceries. Running into Doctor Justin Teague—literally—shakes up Alana’s tidy world. The chance encounter leaves her with a bum ankle, forces her to reconsider some dating ideals, and reveals new information about a longtime nemesis.

When all she wanted was to bake some cookies…

Excerpt:

Justin moved into the room, set the things on a side table, and perched on a chair. Watching her, he could practically see the pain fade from her face. Her brow smoothed, and the tension he’d noticed around her lips disappeared. He fought the urge to brush a kiss across her forehead. She looked way too peaceful to disturb. But now what? Sit here and watch her sleep? Sneak out the door? He couldn’t leave it unlocked, and he had no idea whether she’d be down for the night or if she did power naps.

Finally, he took off his shoes and quietly padded to the kitchen to deal with supper. For now, everything could go in the fridge. Feeling like an intruder, he moved stealthily around her kitchen. With that task completed, he grabbed a newsmagazine from a basket and settled into a chair across from his patient…and/or dinner date.

Twenty minutes later, Alana stirred. She pulled up her arm and adjusted her position. Then her eyes opened.

“Hey,” Justin whispered.

She bolted upright. “Oh, my gosh. Justin. Did I fall asleep? I’m so sor—”

He held up a hand. “Shhh. No worries.” He handed her the glass of water and tablets. “Why don’t you take a couple of these then I’ll wrap your ankle.”

For him, the biggest issue was not the condition of her ankle but trying to stay in professional mode and ignore the feel of her smooth leg under his hands. Seated on the table in front of the sofa, he forced his eyes to focus on the strip of fabric as he wound it around both foot and ankle and secured it firmly. “How’s that feel?”

Alana nodded. “That’s amazing. It’s better already.” Luminous eyes met his. “Thanks.”

“You’re welcome. Keeping it tight is the key.” He couldn’t help himself. He reached out and touched her hair. “Sorry you had a bad day.”

A light sparked in her eyes, and she sat straighter. “I didn’t have a bad day.”

Frowning, he cocked his head. “You didn’t? Looks like the ankle was, well, a big pain.”

She grinned. “It was. Except for this stupid ankle, I had a great day. I got two offers on the house, and another couple that’s interested is supposed to let me know tomorrow. That means we could have a bidding war and get more than our asking price. And that is a good thing.”

Justin couldn’t help laughing. He held up his hand for a high-five. “Very nice.” He loved her triumph-over-adversity attitude.

“Hey, food’s in the fridge. Easy to heat up whenever you’re ready.”

“Oh, okay. Thanks.” She glanced toward the kitchen then met his eyes again. “Are you— Can you stay?”

He felt a pull deep inside as those questioning blue eyes leveled on him. Yeah, he wanted to stay.

Author bio:

Darlene Deluca writes contemporary romance and women’s fiction, and likes to explore relationships – what brings people together or keeps them apart.

Her intent is to bring to life interesting characters that readers can relate to in real-life situations that combine a little fun, plenty of drama (with perhaps a tear or two), and big helpings of friendship, love and self-discovery, and will leave readers either cheering or sighing with a satisfied smile as they turn the final page.

The Kansas City author enjoys getting lost in a good story with a glass of tea, a bit of dark chocolate and a warm, sunny beach.

Author Website:

www.darlenedeluca.com

Social Media Links:

https://www.facebook.com/Darlene-Deluca-282385088481413/?ref=bookmarks

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6879809.Darlene_Deluca

https://www.instagram.com/darlenedelucaauthor/?hl=en

https://www.bookbub.com/profile/darlene-deluca

Buy Links:

https://books.apple.com/us/book/cookie-collision/id1585465393

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/cookie-collision-darlene-deluca/1140147032?ean=2940162321422

A lady in scarlet looks for romance in this latest entry in the Christmas Cookie series

Book blurb:  

Hair stylist Scarlett Kerrigan lost her job and her apartment. To alleviate a touch of self-pity, she succumbs to her stepmom’s pressure to attend a wedding in the New Hampshire White Mountains. Unfortunately, she runs into the vacation fling who promised the moon but disappeared without an explanation. Months have passed, but she is not ready to forgive and forget.

After a chaotic year, executive Wes Harley settles into his family’s event venue, The Timeless Manor. His carefully structured world is shaken to its core when Scarlett arrives for the Victorian Christmas wedding weekend. The feelings he never quite erased flood to the surface.

When secrets are revealed, will a magical chateau and a sprinkle of tinsel be enough to charm Scarlett?

Purchase Links:

Amazon          Nook

Apple IBooks

Excerpt:

Lights flashed in the side view mirror. Another car parked behind them, but snow blocked all visibility through the back window. Boots crunching through snow announced the hulking figure before he appeared at the door. A scarf and hat covered most of the stranger’s face, and only a pair of emerald-green eyes peered in.

Scarlett inched down the window a crack. The possibility of this person being a deranged lunatic couldn’t be overlooked.

“Scarlett?” The man stepped back and tugged down the scarf.

She knew that face and opened her mouth to speak but couldn’t find a word. This day just kept getting better. Those eyes should have been the first clue, but never in her wildest dreams did she expect to see him again. The blur of memories racing through her mind dropped a throat-constricting concoction of confusion, hurt, and vile hope on her chest. “Wes.”

“What are you doing here? Aren’t you a little far from home?” A line formed between his eyebrows.

Clarice leaned forward to get a better glimpse of their potential knight in shining armor.

“More than a little.” Coherent thoughts took shape in the form of questions and accusations. Every fiber in her being burned at the thought of asking him for help, but alternative options were few and far between. Who knew how long before roadside assistance arrived? Fine, maybe he’d get her out of this mess, but making small talk didn’t need to factor into the exchange.

About the Author:

Jill Piscitello is a teacher, author, and an avid fan of multiple literary genres. Although she divides her reading hours among several books at a time, a lighthearted story offering an escape from the real world can always be found on her nightstand.

A native of New England, Jill lives with her family and three well-loved cats. When not planning lessons or reading and writing, she can be found spending time with her family, trying out new restaurants, traveling, and going on light hikes.

Social media links:

Website ~ Twitter  ~ Facebook Instagram  ~ GoodReads ~ BookBub

You never know what’s hiding in your house: Kimberly Baer

My husband and I started our married life in a tiny, rustic house at the edge of a deep woods. Not surprisingly, we had many encounters with wildlife. Here’s the story of one of them.

Mice With Green Heads

One particularly snowy winter, our house was overrun by mice. We didn’t want to kill the little critters, so we put a big plastic garbage can in our utility closet and baited it with food scraps. Mice would scramble in to get the food, but the slick vertical sides prevented them from climbing back out. Every morning we would find five or more mice huddled at the bottom of the garbage can. We would drag the can three or four hundred yards into the woods (uphill, through deep snow) and release them.

Despite our efforts, the daily mouse counts never decreased. The situation was both perplexing and troubling. How many mice were living in our walls? Dozens? Hundreds? We wondered whether the mice we released in the woods were somehow finding their way back, but dismissed the idea. The distance was too great, the snow too deep.

Nonetheless, I decided to conduct an experiment. One morning I scooped one of the captured mice into a jar and painted the top of its head with green food coloring. The poor thing winced in misery the whole time (“Why is this HAPPENING to me???”). I murmured soothing words and then hiked up into the woods to release it.

The next morning, I found the usual five or six mice in the garbage can—including one with a green head! I repeated the experiment several more times—with the same incredible results. I recalled all those stories I’d heard about lost cats and dogs making their way home over impossible distances. Did mice have the same fortitude, the same mysterious homing instinct?

We moved on to Plan B: driving our wee captives to a wooded area about three miles from our house, on the far side of a creek. (Try to get back now, you little scamps!) We always left a handful of toasted-oats cereal to get them started on their new lives. That did the trick, though our mouse problem was never entirely resolved. Eventually we moved to the suburbs, where our house was occasionally infiltrated by lady bugs, spiders, and ants. But we never again saw a mouse—green-headed or otherwise!

New From The Wild Rose Press: Snowdrop Dreams, Cherry Thumbprint Screams

Annie Barkley lives next to a forest but has worse things than wildlife to contend with. Read about her tribulations in the romantic suspense novella Snowdrop Dreams, Cherry Thumbprint Screams, part of The Wild Rose Press’s Christmas Cookies series.

Check out the book trailer at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=giM9IljM448.

Blurb for Snowdrop Dreams, Cherry Thumbprint Screams:

When Annie Barkley discovers a boy living in the attic of her cookie shop, she’s stunned—and oddly elated. She can almost believe the universe is giving her back the infant son she lost eleven years ago.

Annie senses that something bad happened to the boy, but he won’t talk. All she knows is that he’s terrified of being found. When her long-ago crush, police captain Sam Stern, stops by to inquire about a missing boy, Annie says she hasn’t seen him.

Big mistake. Because that lie might cost her more than a romance with Sam. It also leaves her vulnerable to a ruthless pursuer, one who’s determined to silence the boy for good.

Excerpt:

She was startled by a thump from above, followed by the muffled slide of the attic window, first up, then down. The groan of floorboards beneath traipsing feet.

Goosebumps prickled across her scalp. Why hadn’t she thought to grab something to use for self-defense? A knife or a fork or Gram’s old cast-iron baking pan, which maybe, just maybe, would deflect bullets. There might be a metal nail file in her purse, except she had no time to hunt for it, because the trap door was creaking open, and—oh, God!—someone was coming down the stairs.

Footfalls thudded across the floor, mere feet from where she was hunkered behind the island. Squinting through the grainy dimness, she peeked around the corner in time to glimpse a slight, dark figure creeping into the room out front. She got to her feet and followed.

She came to a halt just beyond the doorway. The big neon clock on the rear wall glowed blue, giving the room a bar-like ambience. The cookie burglar was standing behind the counter to her left, cramming snowdrop cookies into his mouth.

God in heaven, it was a boy. The cookie burglar was a boy. And he was eleven. She was sure of that, even though the light was dim and she was seeing him only in profile. Something about him seemed familiar—his slouched shoulders, perhaps, or the long, straight slope of his nose. He was slender like her, though a few inches shorter. His hair was matted and dark but with a good shampooing would probably be the same tawny shade as her own.

An eleven-year-old brown-haired boy, come down from above to burgle her cookie shop…

She stepped forward with a gasp. “Jonah?”

Purchase link:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Snowdrop-Thumbprint-Screams-Christmas-Cookies-ebook/dp/B09GXM27PR/

Social media links:

Website: www.kimberlybaer.com

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/KimberlyBaer14

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

Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Kimberly-Baer/e/B08D3RVKCH/

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/kimberly_baer

About the Author:

Kimberly Baer wrote her first story at age six. It was about a baby chick that hatched out of a little girl’s Easter egg after somehow surviving the hard-boiling process. Sadly, she never managed to get that story published.

Nowadays, Kim writes in a variety of genres. Her paranormal young-adult novel The Haunted Purse was the third-place winner in the 2021 National Excellence in Story Telling Contest (YA category), sponsored by the Central Region Oklahoma Writers. Her middle-grade novel Mall Girl Meets the Shadow Vandal was the bronze medal winner in the 2021 Reader’s Favorite Book Award Contest, Children’s Mystery category. Snowdrop Dreams, Cherry Thumbprint Screams is Kim’s first foray into adult romantic suspense.

In addition to being an author, Kim has worked as a professional editor for the past sixteen years. She lives in Virginia, where she likes to go power-walking on days when it’s not too hot, too cold, too rainy, too snowy, or too windy. On indoor days, you might find her binge-watching one of her favorite TV shows: Gilmore Girls, Friends, The Office, or Breaking Bad.

Military Week feature

Check out SECOND CHANCES at the Romance Lives Forever blog, and learn about Army veteran Kurt Lowdon….

Can a marriage of convenience turn into real love?

Genre: Small town contemporary romance

Themes: Marriage of convenience, friends to lovers, second-chance love, family conflict

Keywords: smalltown romance, addiction, damaged hero, infertility, troubled past,

ISBN: 978-1-5092-3829-3 Paperback
           978-1-5092-3830-9 Digital

Length: 352 pages Heat Level: Spicy – R Release Date: September 27, 2021

Cover Artist: Rae Monet

Buy Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09CG2MVS7

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-unexpected-l-rosamond-richards/1114738832?ean=2940162376996

iBooks: https://books.apple.com/us/book/unexpected/id1580981690

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/57013622-unexpected

BookBub:  https://www.bookbub.com/books/unexpected-masonville-series-book-3-by-jana-richards

Short Links:

Amazon  ~  B & N  ~  iBooks

Tagline: A marriage of convenience. An unexpected love.

Blurb:

Single dad Ben Greyson wants only to retain custody of his two stepdaughters. A dysfunctional childhood has made family the most important thing in his life. When his late wife’s parents sue for custody, a desperate Ben is left with two choices – run away with his girls or marry his next-door neighbor.

Jamie Garven wants to be a mother. She’s intrigued by her handsome new neighbor and falls in love with his little girls. Then Ben is faced with losing his children, and Jamie agrees to marry him for a chance at motherhood. They’re determined to show the world, and the girls’ grandparents, two loving parents.

Their marriage of convenience turns into unexpected love. But Ben interprets Jamie’s efforts to save their family as betrayal—they could lose everything, including each other.

Excerpt:

He wrapped his arms around both girls. Jamie watched, uncomfortable to be intruding on such a private moment. Something about the tender way this big man held these two tiny girls hit her square in the solar plexus.

Not every man behaved like her ex.

She cleared her throat. “I should get Rex and Sammy home. It was nice meeting you, Bella and Sophie. I’ll see you around.”

Her neighbor rose quickly and extended his hand. “Thank you for helping me find the girls. I’m Ben Greyson, by the way.”

“Jamie Garven.” She accepted his handshake. Again, she had the sensation she’d seen him before. In the lights illuminating the playground she could see his eyes were a mixture of green and brown and were framed by long, thick lashes. This close to him, she noticed the dimple in his cheek for the first time and caught the scent of a delectable men’s cologne. For a moment, Jamie’s heart wobbled like a washing machine with an uneven load.

Or a hormonal teenager with her first crush.

The embarrassing thought made Jamie tug on her hand. He released it immediately and she forced herself to smile politely.

“It was nice meeting all of you. Goodnight.”

Once she and the dogs rounded the school and were out of sight, Jamie urged them into a run. They raced all the way home. As if the hounds of Hell were on their tails.

Or perhaps her own unsettling thoughts were chasing her. Jamie stifled a groan. She was being ridiculous. She’d been momentarily dazzled by a pretty face. Any red-blooded woman with a pulse would have reacted the same way.

Anyway, there was likely a Mrs. Ben Greyson somewhere in the picture. Men who looked like him generally weren’t single.

And men who looked like her hot new neighbor didn’t give plain women like her a second glance.

Author Bio:

When Jana Richards read her first romance novel, she immediately knew two things: she had to commit the stories running through her head to paper, and they had to end with a happily ever after. She also knew she’d found what she was meant to do. Since then she’s never met a romance genre she didn’t like. She writes contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and historical romance set in World War Two, in lengths ranging from short story to full length novel. Just for fun, she throws in generous helpings of humor, and the occasional dash of the paranormal. Her paranormal romantic suspense “Seeing Things” was a 2008 EPPIE finalist.

In her life away from writing, Jana is an accountant/admin assistant, a mother to two grown daughters, and a wife to her husband Warren. She enjoys golf, yoga, movies, concerts, travel and reading, not necessarily in that order. She and her husband live in Winnipeg, Canada. She loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website at www.janarichards.com

Social Media Links:

Website:  http://www.janarichards.com

Blog:  http://janarichards.blogspot.com

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/JanaRichardsAuthor

Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/JanaRichards_

Amazon Author Page:  http://www.amazon.com/author/janarichards

Amazon UK Author Page:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B002DEVWWG

Newsletter Signup: http://janarichards.com/contact.html#newsletter

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2892274Jana_Richards

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/jana-richards