Twice and Forever by Brenda Gayle
Jill Bennett had her life planned out, and then everything changed. Soon after her husband’s sudden death from a heart attack two years ago, Jill’s daughter Rachel was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at the very young age of 21. Widowed and scared, Jill threw herself into caring for her daughter 24/7. Now that Rachel is in remission, Jill is finding it hard to let go and give her some breathing room at home and at her new job working for a local vet named Grant Palmer. Grant has a knack for getting under Jill’s skin, especially where Rachel’s future is concerned. The last thing Jill has in mind is getting on with her own life. So why can’t she stop thinking about the handsome Dr. Palmer?
Devoted to Her Cowboy by C. J. Carmichael
When rodeo champion Blake Timber returns home as the star attraction of the Sheep River Rodeo Days he doesn’t expect to find his nerdy high school friend Shelby Turner looking so beautiful and so not nerdy. He also doesn’t expect to find his grandmother, frail and wearing a headscarf. When Grams reveals she has ovarian cancer, Blake is shocked. He’s thankful that Shelby, who works in his grandmother’s flower shop, has been there for her. But he wants to take over the reins and get his beloved Grams the best care money can buy. In spite of his best efforts, his well-intentioned plans are met with stubborn resistance from both women. Adding to his frustrations is his ex-girlfriend Kelli-Jo Calhoun, who is the Sheep River Days organizer. Unhappily married and with a son, she seems hell bent on roping him into something that could put everything he cares about at risk—especially his growing feelings for Shelby.
Her Angel by Kayla Perrin
Tasia Montgomery never thought she’d get “that” phone call from her mom. Stage four ovarian cancer. Tasia puts her job as a chef in a busy restaurant in Atlanta on hold, to go home to Miami to be there for her mother. When her mom passes away, Tasia is left with a huge burden of guilt, sadness, and loss. Now, she is tasked with the duty of packing everything up and selling the family home. She knows her mom didn’t want her to sell but what choice does she have? Her brother Andrew, who is living in Seattle with his wife and their baby, is as distant as can be. Just like their father, who up and left them when they were kids. But when Tasia meets Malcolm Robertson, the contractor her mom hired to renovate the house before she died, Tasia is drawn to him. Her mom treated him like a son and shared things with him that she never revealed to Tasia. Malcolm becomes a good friend to Tasia, but does she want something more with the handsome contractor? As Tasia, sorts through her mother’s belongings she makes a discovery about her mom that shocks her to her core, but will it make her see the truth of her own life or make her head back to Atlanta for good?
The Cluster is a vast alien machine that destroys starships indiscriminately in its quest for something or someone. Commander John Mark Ellis, disgraced and booted out of the service when he fails to save a merchant ship, believes the key to stopping the Cluster is communication. Clyde McClintlock believes the Cluster is God incarnate. G’Liat is an alien warrior whose own starship was destroyed by the Cluster. All together these three set out to solve the mystery of the Cluster before it finds the object of its quest.
When I was about eight years old, my dad put me on the back of his white Yamaha 50cc motorcycle for a ride. We ended up in a field by the shopping center and he asked if I wanted to ride by myself.
Are you kidding me?
He helped me get a leg up and balanced the bike for me. A quick tutorial on the controls, and I was off. Well, off for about fifty feet when I hit a rut in the dirt and promptly fell over, spraining my arm. When we got home, mom wasn’t too happy and that was the end of my motorcycle training.
Later, my older brother by eight years came home with a big, blue bike. It was so shiny and I loved how the paint sparkled in the sun. He’d take me for rides and I’d laugh the entire time; it felt so good to go fast. Then he wrecked it on a busy street and broke his leg. Determined to keep us alive, my mom declared no more motorcycles or riding while we lived with her. She even said no to flying lessons, which seemed a whole lot safer (to me, anyway). That was the seventies, if you’re counting.
In the eighties, I got married, had a couple of great sons, divorced, and forgot about going fast. Until I met Ivan.
By now it was 2011 and here was a guy with a couple of motorcycles who’d been riding most of his life. That’s when I remembered the feeling of going fast. The little girl inside me was excited by the prospect of learning to ride. The fifty-something-year-old woman was feeling iffy about the whole thing, but game to give it a go. I am nothing, if not willing to try most anything at least once.
So, in 2012, I learned to ride.
Four years later, I’ve discovered a lot about myself while motorcycling. For starters, I know everyone in a car wants to kill me. Now, I’m not pessimistic by nature, but people in cars just don’t see motorcycles, so YOU have to always be aware of THEM. Second, I worry too much (see previous point). And, riding is a lot like yoga. I’m always practicing to do something better or with more awareness than the last time I was out.
One of the unexpected perks of riding is how it’s changed the way I see the world. The colors around me are much more vibrant when I’m on a bike. I can’t escape the ‘scents’ of the road, be it a flat skunk, trailer of pigs, or someone cooking on a grill. Everything is more immediate, in the moment. It’s these things, and others, which I believe have made me a better writer, particularly with sensory detail.
I’ve also learned to take risks and I’ve watched that translate over into my stories as well. I’ve never written contemporary mystery, but when tempted with the opportunity, immediately jumped on it. Stepping out of comfort zones is how we grow. I believe strong women are the most interesting ones, so those are who I write about, be it a ninth century healer, a Victorian time traveler, or an ex-Detroit detective returning to her small home town to take over as police captain. My goal is always to inspire others to take chances and live their dreams.
Jessica Penot‘s THE ACCIDENTAL WITCH takes you to a small town, in the moody, wooded landscape of Alabama, where a psychologist named Phaedra Michaels, works tirelessly at a local hospital, trying to help the desperate and troubled souls in her town.
Phaedra’s life is like the lives of many women, she’s recently divorced and battling a penchant for junk food and pop, but as the story progresses Phaedra discovers that she has a lot more to worry about than a few pesky extra pounds. She finds out her mother, who abandoned her as a child, is in fact a witch. And she inherited Mom’s talents.
When evil demons start showing up in town, Phaedra has a real fight on her hands to not only keep herself alive, but to keep the town safe from harm.
Phaedra possesses a wonderful sense of dry, self-deprecating humor that has you chuckling as you travel with her on her dark adventures. She is an immensely relatable character and a very refreshing change from the sometimes “hysterical” female leads that you may come across in paranormal romance novels. Instead, Phaedra is clever and down to earth as she goes through her metamorphosis from small town psychologist, to small town psychologist and witch!
THE ACCIDENTAL WITCH is vividly and thoroughly entertaining. My only criticism (and this is probably because I am a hopeless romantic at heart) would have been for Jessica to spend a bit more time on the Phaedra/Fred relationship to allow it to simmer a bit more.
This is a novel I would highly recommend for those who are interested in delving into the mystical world of the paranormal and who also love a damn good story.
Michele Erikson, a part fey witch, would never harm others with spells, even if it’s the only way to save herself from a crazed stalker wielding black magic, who’s chased her from Portsmouth, NH to Daytona Beach FL.
But Michele doesn’t know that her new friend Vic Matthews has been hired by her stepfather Alex to protect her. The Ex-NFL player turned bodyguard doesn’t believe in hocus pocus until late in the game, when he witnesses first-hand what Michele can do.
As Michele’s loving charm weaves its way around Vic’s heart, he’ll do whatever it takes to save her, even if it means convincing her to step out of the broom closet and come out fighting!
Ashlyn Chase is a best selling author who writes funny and sexy, light paranormal romances and erotic romances. Connect with Ashlyn on her website and on facebook and twitter.
I was chatting with an author the other day (via email) and mentioned that “back in the day” okay – in the 1980s! Gasp! I would regularly visit several used book stores in town to keep up my “romance novel addiction”. I easily bought about 20 books a month. I also bought new releases but they couldn’t keep up with my voracious appetite for historical romances.
Back then, it seemed that the publishing houses had a much more “loose” view of the Historical Romance genre – which was my go-to genre for reading. I read so many that I can’t remember the names of the authors and titles of the books (alas). But I do remember that many of them were set in “interesting” locales and eras and countries. One book, featured a blind heroine who was married off to a Viking warrior and the book was set in Sweden I think. Anyway, it was a lovely story. Another book was set in Poland and I can’t remember what era it was, but the heroine dressed like a boy in order to join the army. It was also a good story and a fun read. After studying A Tale of Two Cities, in high school, I wanted to gobble up books about the French Revolution, but I wanted a HAPPY ENDING, of course!
Lachesis Publishing has begun to revise and re-release some of Patricia Grasso’sgorgeous Elizabethan romances. I absolutely love the Elizabethan era! Especially when we get to hang out with Queen Elizabeth 1. The first one we released was Love in a Mist about a Welsh princess (who is also a Druid – which leads to all sorts of trouble!) who travels to England to meet her birth father and ends up marrying an Earl. We’ll be following up with My Heart’s Desire which follows the daughter of the hero and heroine of Love in a Mist. Both books feature Patricia’s trademark humour and wonderful heroines.
I know that Regency historicals are hugely popular today and we love to publish them (Check out our Regencies by Patricia Grasso, JoMarie DeGioia and Beverly Adam). But I would also love to see more variety out there again. Historical romances set in different countries and eras. There are so many stories out there, yet to be told – the possibilities are endless. What do you think? Are you a die-hard Regency fan or would you love to read more variety in historical romance?
Joanna D’Angelo is Editor in Chief at Lachesis Publishing. She loves chai tea, social media, and good writing.
If the long-running Law & Order franchise ever spins off to Canada, The Vigilante would make a great template. Jacqui Morrison’s book has the right balance of police and legal procedural with a good helping of character development and social commentary thrown in.
On the police side, we have Lynette Winton, her colleagues at work and her mother at home.
A rookie detective, Lynette is determined to prove herself. At first, however, Lynette seems to be a study in what not to do. When we find out her family situation, it’s easier to understand her behaviour. She lives with her loving, but passive aggressive mother, who is so secretive about Lynette’s biological father that any child would become obsessed with discovering the truth.
Lynette might be wrong about how she finds the truth, but find it she does. She arrests the suspect dismissed by her senior colleagues, while saving the life of the next intended victim.
On the legal side, we have defense lawyer Maxine Swayman.
Maxine is Lynette’s opposite in more than the court case even to having a loving and supportive father. She is confident, charming, and has a sexy surgeon for a boyfriend. One thing both women share is determination. In this case, Maxine is determined that the accused, Wanda Chambers, gets the help she desperately needs.
It’s on the legal side of the story that Morrison really shines. It’s no surprise that the author’s community work has given her experience with social justice and court procedures. My one disappointment is that she failed to mention the robes that barristers wear in Superior Court. Also, unlike the U.S. (and civil cases in Canada) the defendant is customarily addressed as “the accused.” Those, and many more details that Morrison does touch on, highlight the differences we’d see in Law & Order CA as opposed to the US and UK varieties.
The guest star is, of course, the accused. There is no doubt that Wanda Chambers is guilty, the real question is whether the troubled woman will end up inside a prison or a hospital. And which one is justice? Through Lynette and Maxine, Morrison argues both sides of the case.
Since this is the first of a series, the personal story arcs have only just begun to unfold. The Vigilante’s case, on the other hand, is settled more than satisfactorily. ~ Alison Bruce (suspense author)
Let me apologize in advance to any Romance Novelist who may be upset over my obvious lack of perception and understanding of your genre and the topic, overall. When this topic was suggested to me, my initial reaction was to laugh out loud and roll my eyes. Clearly my publisher had made THE WORST choice to tackle this subject. I am far from a ‘Love Guru’, how could I pontificate and comment on this topic with any shred of credibility? Like any quest for knowledge when one finds oneself lacking, approach those around you and gather a data set from a diverse population; which is what I spent three days doing.
I asked several colleagues of varying ages and gender their definition and opinion of romance and if he/she was familiar with romance novels. The results from the male gender were pretty much what I expected. They all vehemently denied any knowledge or familiarity with the genre beyond the occasional “My wife has one or two on her nightstand and no I’ve never picked one up.” When I pushed for a definition of ‘Romance’ I was taken aback by how guarded the men became. I got suspicious looks and raised eyebrows and arms almost always folded indicating I’d crossed into uncomfortable body language territory. I swore anonymity yet still wasn’t able to crack that guarded man wall of secrecy. One guy went so far as to question my manhood for even broaching such a topic. It seems that Romance, in the data set available to me, is something not discussed among my gender. Upon reflection I admit that the topic has NEVER come up in conversation when I’ve been socializing with other men at any type of gathering. The topics have been work, sports, some fantasy football league, and often trashing some politician or even talking about house projects. Conversations at my rod and gun club are limited to fishing, deer hunting, crossbows, rifles etc., but never in my 52 years have I been exposed to guys discussing romance. Okay, message received. Bros don’t discuss ‘Romance’ with other bros lest they lose their male membership card. If there are men discussing romance and the like, I’ve been missing out on those discussions. Could it be me, the type of hobbies and the people I spend time with? Quite possibly . . . but I deliberately spoke with as diverse a group as possible. My conclusion is that men don’t want to talk about it, at least with other men, especially a writer trying to gain some insight.
The women I spoke to varied in age and, once I explained I was writing a blog, they were more than willing to indulge me in their opinions of romance and why they read romance novels. The one single comment I heard from each women was that the book they were reading was incredibly well written and compelling. The second most common answer was the novels were a wonderful escape from the mundane of the daily drag of work, kids and reality. I got that, it was pretty much the same reason I read science fiction and graphic novels; for a diversion and an escape from the stress and anxiety of the daily grind. As far as explaining and defining romance, I could sense a bit of hesitation. I was given great anecdotes from several people but the detective in me wanted a real time answer. What about today, what defined romance for them today? I got a great deal of rolled eyes and laughter. One funny answer was simply her boyfriend not farting under the sheets at night. One woman my age was much more concise and how shall I say. . . critical with her answers. I’ll call her ‘Kim.’
Kim has been married for several years and has four kids, we talk a lot at the gym while waiting to get on various equipment. We were using the elliptical trainers and chatting to pass the time when I decided, why not broach the topic and ask her a few questions? At least she couldn’t run away. I worked up the nerve to segue our light banter from griping about being winded to romance. To my surprise and delight Kim was very direct and honest with her replies. After fifteen years of marriage, changing diapers through four children and having a husband more excited by his new Callaway driver than by her, she began looking for something to fill the void. She added that her husband was a good man who worked hard and was a great father, but he’d rather spend time his free time at the driving range than having a romantic dinner or a date night. A friend in a local church group loaned her a copy of a particular steamy romance novel with a real hunk on the cover. She laughed as she recalled the book cover hunk was Fabio. I remember that name, some big, long-haired blonde guy with huge pecs and biceps. If I remember he also did margarine commercials. She enjoyed the novel immensely and admitted to getting all hot and bothered by the intimate scenes and the passion found within the pages of that book. From then on Kim decided to spend her evenings and down time with a romance novel tucked in her purse and has become ‘best friends’ with the works of Victoria Dahl and Vivian Arend. “When the kids are in school and he’s at work, I like to curl up under a blanket with a hot cup of cinnamon tea and escape into another world of intrigue and passion. I know it’s never going to happen to me, but it’s nice to pretend and be swept up.” I asked Kim to define ‘Romance’. She laughed for a moment looked over at me as we were both dripping with sweat. “Well it’s certainly not this.” I laughed at her wit and repeated the question. Kim slowed her pace and took a deep breath, “Greg, if you have to ask me that question and really don’t know the answer I feel sorry for you. You have the same affliction infecting my husband and a lot of other men.” I winced a bit at the sting of her retort but she then rewarded me with an answer, “Romance is the non-physical acts of love two people show for each other, it’s the little things that make certain somebody feels special, desired and cherished by their partner.”
Kim cranked up her pace and told me to chew on that for awhile, she put on her earphones and got back to her quick pace. After another twenty minutes pondering, Kim finished her workout, she looked over at me and could tell I was still smarting from her remark. “I didn’t mean to insult you; if I did I’m sorry. You’re a nice guy, Greg and I figured you could handle the reality check.”
I left the gym with Kim’s point blank response echoing in my head. I stopped at my favorite coffee haunt and thought more about Romance. Were we men, as a gender, all negligent husbands forcing our spouses to seek attention or gratification within the pages of some writer’s imagination? I reflected back on the first time I fell in love, the way my heart skipped a beat, how my mind was solely focused on her, I knew her scent, every curve of her face and longed just to hear her voice and be with her. I remember the dates, the long walks and picnics and the hand holding. I recall carrying her across a large puddle because she didn’t want to get her new boots wet and how she giggled as I waded through the ankle deep water carrying her. I remember showering her with flowers not because I just wanted intimacy, but I loved to see her smile and the delightful squeal she made when she was happy. I remember spending hours under the hood of her mom’s beat up station wagon and shelling out my own money on car parts not because I had to, but because I knew it was important to her and I knew it would make her happy. That was romance, that was how I showed her I loved her. It wasn’t the words, it wasn’t the physical joining, it was the gestures and deeds I made when we were together that let her know I cared. I made her feel special and important and I got love, affection and companionship in return. Romance is the non-physical acts of love we show our partners.
I knew it all along but lost the meaning over the years. I remembered the feeling of falling freshly in love and the natural high that came along with it, the heart skipping a beat, the electric jolt caused by a single touch of a fingertip. I remembered romance, what I did because of love, the small and large selfless deeds I never thought twice about when I was younger but confess, balk at doing now, or do with a grumble under my breath. Working on my mother in law’s car isn’t always done happily, and often I catch myself rolling my eyes at the thought of stepping out of my comfort zone and expressing myself or my feelings. I often hear the words but fail to listen. I looked back over a litany of self-failings over my iced coffee and wondered what that drop of moisture was rolling down my cheek. How does it all change? Does life and time really have such an impact? What changes in relationships that kill or cool the romance? What goes wrong?
I’ve never read a romance novel. But I know from those I’ve spoken with that it’s more than just sex; it’s the excitement of discovering a new love, a new connection. I’m sure the male character does all the right things, slays the dragon, conquers the evil or is just there for the support needed or just to listen. I assume that’s the appeal more than the steamy scenes that cause one’s heart to flutter and forms beads of perspiration on the brow. Again that’s my conclusion based on dipping my toe into a pool I’ve never swum before. I believe it’s the crafted tale, the developed characters and story telling complimented by romantic gestures, the non-physical acts of love, that make the eventual physical bonding so powerful and intense (Also a gifted writer behind it). It’s not just the buff, shirtless guy on the cover; it’s the deeds done in the relationship not just inside the bed sheets that have the appeal. I think.
So how does romance work after years of marriage, several kids, two careers, soccer practices, yard work and a “Dad Bod” versus “Six pack abs”? I honestly just don’t know. Maybe after years together it’s no longer about the grand gestures, maybe the small things have just as much meaning. Maybe making sure the toilet seat is down, emptying the dishwasher and putting away the laundry are just as important as carrying someone across a large puddle or doing a brake job on a car. Perhaps the simple daily acts of consideration can communicate wordlessly what men, myself included, may have forgotten or neglected to do over time. I’m not saying bringing home flowers and candy more than once a year on Valentine’s Day isn’t appreciated but perhaps the simple, yet helpful, gestures go further to prove love is still alive and the fire hasn’t tuned to ashes. A simple action is worth more than a thousand words . . . even if those words are ‘I love you.’ Showing you care is always better than saying you care. Maybe, just maybe, that’s what romance is all about.
I’m just a Science Fiction writer out of his swim lane, but I think I get the point.