Life is not a fairy tale … After five years as a widow, MacKenzie is ready to move on, maybe. Still unsure of herself, she agrees to attend a bachelor auction in which a date is up for bid. Could this be the step she needs to make that move?
There’s just something about her… Sebastian spent the year following his divorce throwing himself into work and avoiding anything that had to do with love. When a favor for a friend leads to a chance meeting with the lady of his dreams, he begins to believe in the happily ever after.
With an ocean separating them, it won’t be easy, but together they’re sure to discover a love that is something different.
Allegra is an indie author who enjoys writing steamy love stories with a twist. The twist would be her imagination. Originally from Massachusetts, she now resides in Southern California.
Some of Allegra’s favorite things include all things purple, glitter, fairies, and unicorns. Her hobbies are reading, procrastinating, listening to music, watching sports, and napping. If she likes you, she’ll bake you cookies or cupcakes. If she doesn’t like you, she’ll write you into a story and, well, bad things will happen. Never make an author angry. It won’t end well, trust me on this one.
You can find Allegra fluttering around Romancelandia, figuring this author thing out, one book at a time. You can follow her adventures in writing on most social media platforms.
Award-winning author Olivia Drake begins her new Unlikely Duchesses series with THE DUKE I ONCE KNEW (St. Martin’s Paperbacks; December 31, 2018). With compelling characters and skillful plot twists, Drake’s latest novel will take your breath away.
First love is always the sweetest…
For years, Abigail Linton devoted herself to caring for her parents and her siblings’ children. Now, eager to create a life of her own, Abby seizes upon a position as a governess on a neighboring estate. Unfortunately, her absentee employer is Maxwell Bryce, the Duke of Rothwell, the notorious rake who once broke her youthful heart. But since he hasn’t set foot on his estate for fifteen years, Abby assumes she’ll never have to lay eyes on him ever again.
Then, from out of nowhere, Max appears. He is stunned to come face to face with the girl next door he fell for years ago—before he went away, and she stopped writing to him … even though Abby swears that he is the one who left her without a word. Could it be that this spirited, witty spinster has won Max’s heart all over again—and that they may have a second chance at love?
The Duke I Once Knew will delight readers who are fans of historical romance novels that are light, entertaining, and simply about two people falling in love. There’s no deep angst, dark deadly secrets, or hardline stance of any kind. Just good story-telling. Sometimes that’s what I’m looking for. And it’s all right.
Abby and Max reunite after fifteen years and the return of their love for each other is utterly believable and quite obviously inevitable. The forces that are trying to keep them apart (misunderstanding about the lost letters, Lady Elise, Max’s poor example of a father) are addressed one by one and in a timely manner.
I love reading an older heroine in Abby. There are so few of them in historical romance that when I find one, I gravitate towards it right away. It was fine for me to read teenagers when I was younger, but not when I’m middle-aged and can’t relate. I also love her taking control of her own life and not letting herself be pushed around anymore. And when she and Max had their intimacy, she proved her strong will once more.
I also loved that the characters are flawed, but still sympathetic. Especially Max. It makes the book as close to reality as it could get.
If I have minor complaints (villainess with no redeeming factor, some repetition in the PoVs, so many named characters some of whom never got fully developed), they’re overshadowed by the positives.
SMP will send a paperback copy of The Duke I Once Knew to one lucky reader who follows me on social media and who likes this post. Comment here or my Facebook Author page to let me know you’ve entered. Here are my links:
I’ll draw the winner on Monday, January 7 11:59 pm CST.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Olivia Drake is the author of the Cinderella Sisterhood series (Seducing the Heiress, Never Trust a Rogue, Scandal of the Year, If the Slipper Fits, Stroke of Midnight, Abducted by the Prince, Bella and the Beast, His Wicked Wish, and The Scandalous Flirt). She has been a member of Romance Writers of America since 1981, and her novels have won the Golden Heart Award, Best Historical Romantic Suspense and Best Regency Historical from Romantic Times. She has also won the prestigious RITA award. She currently resides in Houston, TX.
In 2018, I wrote one novella (New York Engagement) and three short stories, published three of them, and started on a novel. In doing so, I had to curtail my reading by a lot compared to previous years (465 in 2016, 208 in 2017).
One hundred twenty-one is still decent. I’ve actually accomplished the goal I set out at the beginning of the year of reading ten books a month. For the most part, those books were excellent with only a couple of duds among them. So good that I rated 55 novels five-stars in Goodreads, Amazon, NetGalley, BookBub, Edelweiss, etc. That’s nearly half of them, that’s why it’s so hard for me to choose the traditional Top 10. The bare minimum I could do is eighteen. These books made me laugh, cry, feel, and love. Here they are in no particular order:
A Distant Heart by Sonali Dev
The Ones Who Got Away and The One You Can’t Forget by Roni Loren
Like many cultures, Filipinos attach great
significance to the introduction of a special someone to their immediate family.
It’s a signal of deep commitment to the relationship often called “taking it to
the next level.”
In BORACAY VOWS, it was
extra special for Blake when Krista’s mother invited him to their home in the province
of Quezon. Marissa Lopez had been opposed to her daughter being in a
relationship with a foreigner. He was understandably nervous right before their
meeting but their warm hospitality, which Filipinos are known for, put him at
ease immediately. Blake knew things were going to be all right when he and
Krista were presented with a feast.
Here’s an excerpt from that meeting:
Krista stroked Blake’s back as they walked, and asked, “You okay?”
“I’m great, baby.” He smiled down at her. “They’re nice—your parents. I like them.”
“I told you—” The sight of their dining
table, groaning under the weight of the platters and platters of her favorite
dishes, brought her up short. Pancit
Malabon, lechon kawali, embutido, menudo, kare kare, lumpiang Shanghai,
relyenong bangus, sapin-sapin, maruya, and rice crowded the long table.
In NEW YORK ENGAGEMENT, it was Krista’s turn to be introduced to Blake’s family. That meeting also involved food since it took place at the pub the Ryans co-own with the O’Connors. They serve a fusion of Irish and Filipino dishes since the cook/part-owner Belen O’Connor is from Palawan in the Philippines.
These were the food served as explained by Craig, one
of Blake’s brothers who will be the hero of SAMUI HEAT:
front of you, Krista, is Guinness caldereta,
our version of beef stew. There’s steamed rice, of course. Or brown soda
bread, if that’s what you prefer. Next to that is longganisa coddle. Instead of regular bangers, we use the sweeter
Filipino pork sausage. Lastly, we have chicken lechon with mushrooms and whiskey-cream sauce. Enjoy.”
Both “Meet the parents” events were successful for Blake and Krista and at the end of NEW YORK ENGAGEMENT, we see them planning a wedding for the following Christmas in the Philippines.
I will be writing that story soon, so watch out for announcements on publication here. In the meantime, please accept my gift for you this Christmas: the recipe of Longganisa Coddle.
8 ounces thick-cut bacon
8 pork longganisa
1 onion, sliced
2 pounds potatoes, peeled and sliced
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (substitute with 2 tablespoons dried if fresh is not available
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 pieces dried bay leaves
3 cups chicken broth
my secret ingredient: patis (fish sauce) to taste
Cook bacon in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp. Remove to paper towel-lined plate; cut into 1-inch pieces. Drain off all but 1 tablespoon drippings.
Add longganisa to saucepan; cook about 10 minutes or until browned on all sides. Remove to paper towel-lined plate; leave whole.
Add onions to saucepan; cook ad stir about 8 minutes or until translucent. Return bacon and sausages to saucepan. Add carrots, potatoes, parsley, bay leaves, and thyme; sprinkle generously with pepper. Pour broth over vegetables; bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to low; partially cover and simmer about 1 hour 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add fish sauce to taste. Sprinkle with additional parsley, if desired. Serve with rice or soda bread.
**Recipe adapted from Irish Pub Food by Publication International, Ltd.
This book is the celebrated prequel to the critically acclaimed, nationally award-winning and bestselling memoir, Never Give in to Fear. In her raw, vivid, and unabashed style, author Marti MacGibbon delivers a sometimes heartbreaking, often hilarious, always engaging account of her passage through trauma, betrayal, and loss in adolescence and young adulthood to discover her inner badass self. As one of the first women to work as a laborer in the Texas oil field, she set off explosives and staked oil wells before realizing her childhood dream of becoming a successful standup comic. Marti introduces readers to a wide range of characters in her life: from sleazy authority figures, wannabe Sixties musicians and crazed Corn Belt cult leaders, to Texas oil billionaires and wildcatters, to wild-eyed redneck coworkers who robbed banks on their lunch hour―in the company truck. The book includes scenes with iconic comedians, Hollywood entertainment industry moguls, and a legendary bluesman, and offers insights into resiliency, courage, and self-empowerment.
WINNER, 2017 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards in Humor WINNER, 2017 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards in Women’s Studies WINNER, 2017 National Indie Excellence Awards in Women’s Health WINNER, 2017 Beverly Hills Book Awards in Women’s Issues WINNER, 2018 Independent Press Award in Humor WINNER, 2018 Independent Press Award in Women’s Studies WINNER, 2018 New York City Book Award, Women’s Studies FINALIST, 2018 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, Memoir (Overcoming Adversity)
I don’t normally read non-fiction unless it’s a craft book on writing or a cookbook and I hardly ever read memoirs, but there’s something about this book that called to me. The catchy title alone had me anticipating a good read and I wasn’t disappointed. Far from it.
The first third was quite harrowing, with Marti’s tales of abuse, drug addiction, sexual assault, hospitalization, brainwashing, and the most heart-breaking of all, her separation from her daughter. But the telling was quite fascinating in that through everything she had suffered, there was always her determination to do everything she could to get out of the bad situation. To rise and recover. To hope for a better tomorrow.
Quotes like this had me tearing up:
“… there’s more than one way to fight. You fight by living, and working, and showing your kid how much you care, in any way possible. And you wait, and watch, and when your time comes, you’re ready.”
Marti’s storytelling is absolutely fantastic. The scenes leap out of the pages, they come alive so vividly. I especially enjoyed her adventures all over Texas, laughed at some of the incredibly weird situations she got involved in and the colorful characters she met along the way.
She dealt with every discriminatory, sexist thing thrown at her with humor, positivity, and self-belief, proving the title of the book perfectly fitting.
I bookmarked several pages of this book, particularly the last few chapters where Marti was receiving advice from successful humorists and the final one where she imparted some of her own. Although not a comedian, I can definitely apply some of the wisdom she shared in my writing, in my living.
I love this advice best of all:
“Be yourself. You are enough, right now, as you are, and if you continue the brave work, you will continue to become more, and greater, exponentially. Trust in that, build your tenacity, and continue on your path, no matter the challenges.”
To end, I say to readers: buy this book. Read it and learn from Marti’s experiences. Be inspired. Be strong. Be Fierce, Funny, and Female. That’s what I hope to become, in my own way.
PRAISE FOR FIERCE, FUNNY, AND FEMALE:
“Being funny is a survival skill. Fierce, Funny, and Female is not only a survivor’s tale but an inspirational story of overcoming the unthinkable, again and again…Her courage and comedy make Fierce, Funny, and Female a winner.” — Foreword Clarion Reviews
“An effervescently witty…chronicle of perseverance and the power to overcome the darkest of days…Perhaps the most rewarding chapter in this chatty, affecting book is the concluding one, where MacGibbon lists the tried-and-true pearls of wisdom that continue to sustain her…” — Kirkus Reviews
“Fierce, Funny, and Female is a thoroughly engaging memoir packed with witty observations, high adventure, and a glimpse of behind-the-scenes Hollywood. Highly recommended!” — Midwest Book Review
“MacGibbon is a natural storyteller, and her life story is a most interesting one. The characters she has run across during her life journey are well-drawn and absolutely fascinating, particularly the good ol’ boys in the Texas oilfields.” — San Francisco Book Review
A compelling speaker and storyteller, Marti MacGibbon delivers high-energy presentations and writes books on overcoming adversity, addiction and recovery, and inspiration, with humor and a genuine, down-to-earth style. She’s experienced critical situations that no human being should have to face. In the past, she hit rock bottom in every possible way as a hard-core drug addict, was homeless, and was trafficked to Tokyo and held prisoner by Japanese organized crime. Her story of triumph is testimony to the power of the human spirit. Marti lives her message. She reveals simple, effective strategies that anyone can use to get back on track, build resiliency, reduce stress, and cultivate a sense of humor. Marti is a bestselling author, inspirational speaker, certified addiction treatment professional, Gorski certified relapse-prevention specialist, and member of the National Speakers Association. She’s been interviewed in Entrepreneur, Investor’s Business Daily, on ABC-TV, CBS-TV, and numerous radio shows. And she’s funny: Marti traveled all over the U.S. as a professional standup comic and performed at the Hollywood Improv and Comedy Store. She is founder, producer and host of Laff-aholics Comedy Benefit for Recovery, an annual charity fundraiser in Indianapolis featuring nationally headlining comedians. She also serves on the outreach committee of IPATH, Indiana Protection for Abused and Trafficked Humans Task Force.
Each of Three Winners Gets a Signed Copy of the Book PLUS: FIRST PRIZE: $100 Spa Finder gift card + $25 Starbucks gift card + Moroccan oil sample collection SECOND PRIZE: Estee Lauder Limited Edition Gift Set + $25 Starbucks gift card THIRD PRIZE: $25 Starbucks gift card. DECEMBER 12-21, 2018 (U.S. Only)
The holidays are just around the corner, which means it’s time for Chick Lit Chat HQ’s annual Holly Jolly Chick Lit Hop and this year it’s bigger and better than ever! 63 bestselling and award-winning authors in the Chick Lit and Romantic Comedy genres are participating in this fun-filled event and each one is doing a fantastic giveaway. Books, author swag, gift cards, and other assorted holiday treats are all up for grabs.
I’ll be giving away a $100 Starbucks gift card to one lucky winner and an ebook copy of New York Engagement to five winners. Check out my Facebook Author Page Maida Malby for details on how to enter.
But wait! There’s much, much more. On the hop’s Facebook group page, you can enter to win our Grand Prize—a large holiday gift box filled to the brim with a fabulous variety of holiday and winter-themed goodies (the darling, KitschNStyle gingerbread house apron, Snoozies! sherpa socks, Calvin Klein cashmere pom-pom beanie in petal pink, Too Faced sugar cookie eyeshadow purse palette, Sally Snowflakes mug by Bella Pilar, Well Read Women: A Reader’s Journal, and handmade chocolate soaps shown in the graphic below are just a few of the items included in the box!
We’ll also be handing out four Runner-Up Prizes. Each one is a pair of Fitz & Floyd holiday mugs that will be accompanied by a canister of Williams-Sonoma classic hot chocolate as well as a tin of The Republic of Tea’s Hallmark Channel Countdown to Christmas Tea. So, you’ll have delicious, warm beverages to keep you cozy all winter long!
The celebration runs from Monday, Dec. 3rd through Sunday, Dec. 9th, so head on over to the Holly Jolly Chick Lit Hop Facebook group for some lively conversation with both authors and readers, incredible prizes, and lots of holiday fun! You’ll find each day’s featured authors, along with the links to their pages/giveaways, in the pinned post at the top of the group. We look forward to seeing you there!
*The Grand Prize giveaway is open to US residents only. However, all of the individual author giveaways and the Runner-Up Prize giveaway are open internationally.