AAPI SPOTLIGHT – A LOWCOUNTRY BRIDE by Preslaysa Williams

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A LOWCOUNTRY BRIDE

by

Preslaysa Williams

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A heartwarming Avon debut of love, forgiveness, and new beginnings set in the beautiful South Carolina Lowcountry.

Maya Jackson has worked for Laura Whitcomb, Inc, a renowned New York City bridal gown brand for years and dreams of becoming Head Designer. She has the talent, she just needs a chance to showcase her unique style. Due to an illness, she’s always prioritized her career over her personal life until Maya’s father fractures his hip and she returns to Charleston, SC. While home for only a few months, she’s thrilled to find an opportunity at the local bridal gown boutique, never expecting sparks to fly with its owner…

A military veteran and widowed father, Derek Sullivan hopes to save Always a Bride from bankruptcy in order to preserve the legacy of his mother. He also wants to reconnect with his estranged, twelve-year-old daughter, who is still recovering from the loss of her mother. The last thing he needs is a relationship with a beautiful, smart, complicated woman who will be leaving soon.

When Derek begins to fall for the lovely Maya, he knows there’s no future. But destiny has its own plans, and these two lonely people with big hearts discover that coming home to love is the best gift life can give.

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Buy links:

Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Apple     Google Play     IndieBound     Kobo


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ALB bookstagramA Lowcountry Bride is an affecting story of discovering identity, fulfilling dreams, dealing with loss, keeping the faith, and finding love. The authenticity with how the characters’ culture came across strongly emphasizes the importance of providing opportunities for own voices stories, of lifting marginalized creators, of representation and inclusion.

This book is bursting with Ms. Williams’s pride in her unique mix of West African/Filipino heritage. It’s manifested in the food, by distinctive sewing techniques, and in the sympathetic personalities of the main characters.

Maya Jackson, with her struggles to cope with a chronic illness while attempting to achieve her mother’s dreams for her amidst obstacles in the workplace, feels like a real person to me.  Adding to all those the care for her injured father, she is heavily burdened than most but utterly real. Maya’s internal conflict when making life-altering choices made me anxious. Despite the guarantee of a hopeful ending, I still fretted over her decisions.

While I liked Maya, I was soft for the men in her life–her father Carl and her love interest Derek Sullivan. These two dads had similar tales of guiding their daughters to find their paths. They had the best lines from the book.

Her dad’s advice resonated with me.

But don’t stop living, Maya. Don’t ever stop living. You owe it to yourself to live every single day to the fullest.”

Derek’s declaration made me melt.

It’s not the dying that matters. It’s the living. … I can bring the past with me and use it to craft a beautiful present and a hopeful future.”

I like that despite the heavy topics (illness, deaths from a mass shooting, inequity in the workplace, racism) this book is not depressing. There’s enough humor and joy in the successes both Maya and Derek achieved individually and together.

My minor concern is with the portrayal of Laura, Maya’s boss, as an irredeemable villainess. I wish there’s more dimension to her character. After all, she hired Maya in the first place. Her part in the story appeared soap-opera-ish.

Besides that, I enjoyed this book.  It’s engaging and made me root for the characters. I can’t wait for the author’s upcoming books.

4 out of 5 stars


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Preslaysa Williams (nee, Preslaysa Edwards) is an award-winning author of contemporary romance and women’s fiction with an Afro-Filipina twist. She loves sharing her culture with her readers.

She has an undergraduate degree from Columbia University and a MPA from the University of South Carolina. She is also a Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholar, a Jackie Robinson Foundation Extra Innings Fellow, and a Sol Spiegelman Scholar. Preslaysa is currently earning a MFA in Writing Popular Fiction at Seton Hill University.

In addition, she’s a professional actress. She started acting at age eight, joining the Screen Actors Guild as a teenager when she co-starred on the Nickelodeon TV show, The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo.

She’s an avid bookworm and planner nerd who hoards pens, pencils, and notebooks in her spare time. In her daily life, you’ll find her wearing mismatched socks while being a homeschool mom. Preslaysa presently makes her home in Virginia with her husband and two children. You can visit her online at www.preslaysa.com where you can sign up for her newsletter community.

Social Media links:

Facebook     Twitter     Instagram     BookBub     Goodreads

AAPI SPOTLIGHT – SIPS & STROKES by Sarah Skye

Sips and Strokes

Sips & Strokes

by

Sarah Skye

SYNOPSIS

premade sold_sarah skye pink 2Lily Maldonado is screwed. The people-pleasing art professor has been roped into attending her ex’s wedding by her overbearing, image-obsessed parents. Even worse? The woman her ex is marrying is Lily’s childhood bully. She can’t back out, but she’s not sure she can face this nightmare solo.

Enter Calder Ross. The sexy Scot’s abs have graced the cover of many romance novel bestsellers, but the reformed playboy needs a more serious image if he wants to land his dream job as the spokesman for Sonce Whisky. Modeling for Lily’s figure drawing class is step one in the right direction.

After their very adorable—and very naked—meet-cute, Lily and Calder realize that they can be each other’s saving grace. Lily can bring Calder to the wedding as her fake boyfriend to ward off pitying stares. Calder can bring Lily to Sonce events as his fake girlfriend to show he’s the responsible, relationship-minded guy that execs want as the face of their brand.

But the longer Lily and Calder play pretend, the harder it becomes to deny the very real chemistry between them. Will they play it safe and stick to their fake roles? Or will they throw out the playbook completely and risk it all for love?

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Purchase Links:

Amazon           Barnes & Noble

 


 

EXCERPT

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I enter the classroom expecting to find Ms. Maldonado already there but stumble to a stop as soon as I’m inside. There is no middle-aged professor dressed in a long skirt and cardigan. Instead, there’s a young woman seated on the pedestal in the center of the room. Her legs swing idly as she stares up at the sunlight streaming in from the windows close to the ceiling. An overstuffed blue velvet armchair sits on the pedestal, providing an interesting backdrop for her.

Her serenity, the graceful ease of her posture, and the faraway expression on her face make me wish I had my camera. It’s a moment, absolutely beautiful in its simplicity. Shame no one’s capturing this.

She blinks and hops to her feet when the door shuts, her gaze focusing in on me. Her dark eyes give me a full-body scan, brows rising as she goes for round two. She shakes her head and swallows hard. “Oh, hi. Sorry, I was just having a moment.”

“I hate to interrupt. Are you modeling for this class too?”

Her lips curve as a blush sweeps her cheeks. My attention snags on her mouth. Her full, pink lips are fucking lush. She’s got the kind of mouth that women kill for and men daydream about. I’m not above daydreaming a bit myself, and with the way that blush makes her skin glow—

“I’m sorry, what?” I shake my head, sure that I was too distracted to hear her correctly.

“I said no, Mr. Ross, I’ll save everyone from that horror and stick to teaching, thanks.”

Well, fuck me running. This stunner in blue jeans and a white t-shirt is Ms. Lily? Where is my buttoned-up professor?

I look around, taking in the space. The linoleum is there, sure, but this room is a proper studio. The walls are draped in warm cloth to enhance the soft lamps glowing in the corners. Easels are at attention around the dais with a teacher’s desk off to the side, but everything about this place has been set up with creativity in mind. Impressive.

I stick out my hand and abandon all presumptions I’d had about this gig. “It’s Calder, please. And I am sorry to interrupt, but I’m also sorry I’m a bit late, Ms—”

“Lily.”

“Ms. Lily.”

She laughs as her hand slips into mine. I’m hit with a double whammy of sensation. First, the warmth of her soft skin sliding across my palm and then the muted sound of her mirth, which she hides with her free hand.

Her eyes squint as she shakes her head. “Just Lily. If that’s what you’re comfortable with.”

“I could be very comfortable with it.”

The words I’d meant to keep in my head tumble out without warning. What the fuck is with you? Is this amateur hour? Pull your shit together and be a professional for a second.

Lily’s blush deepens, so I release her hand and flash an easy grin. “No need for formality in my opinion,” I clarify.

She exhales and nods, and I take that as a decent recovery. I watch her go to her desk, shuffling a stack of papers as she says, “We’ll start with some short gesture poses if that’s good for you?”

“Of course.” I tug off my tee as I head to the pedestal. Once I hop up, I drop my sweatpants and toss everything on the armchair.

“Great, so if you need any suggest—oh!” The papers flutter to the floor as she turns and looks at me. “Oh my god, you’re already naked.”

My brows knit. “Just getting comfortable. Was I meant to wait for a specific moment?”

“Well, I just, I mean class hasn’t started and we—or, no, but it’s just that you’re… so naked.”

Her eyes dart around the room, landing on me at regular intervals as a blush paints her cheeks all the way down her neck now.

I bite the inside of my lip, glad I’m not the only one off their game today. “You could get me a robe.”

 


 

ABOUT SARAH AND SKYE

SarahSarah Skye is the nom de plume of romance authors Sarah Smith and Skye McDonald. Sarah and Skye met on Twitter as fledgling authors seeking critique partners. That turned into a brilliant friendship, a joint podcast (Quick & Dirty Romance Podcast), and now a novel.

Sarah Smith (Faker; If You Never Come Back; Simmer Down) is a copywriter-turned-author who wants to make the world a lovelier place, one kissing story at a time. Her love of romance began when she was eight and she discovered her auntie’s stash of romance novels. She’s been hooked ever since. When she’s not writing, you can find her hiking, eating chocolate, and perfecting her lumpia recipe. She lives in Bend, Oregon, with her husband and adorable cat Salem.

Skye McDonald (The Anti-Belle Series) is an author and personal development coach. Skye’s Anti-Belle series feature sassy GRITS (Girls Raised In the South) learning to love themselves before they can claim their happily ever after. (Spoiler: they always do!) Her coaching method uses fitness and life skills to teach individuals to do the same. When not writing sexy books or cheering for you to live your best life, Skye can be found out on a new adventure, usually with her pup at her side.
 
 
Author links:

 

A SWEET MESS by Jayci Lee – Release Day Review and Giveaway

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A SWEET MESS

by

Jayci Lee

 

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A Sweet Mess_coverKorean-American author Jayci Lee delights with A Sweet Mess, a delicious and light-hearted romantic comedy that readers will devour and ask for more.

Aubrey Choi loves living in her small town nestled in the foothills of California, running her highly successful bakery away from the watch of her strict Korean parents. When a cake mix-up and a harsh review threaten all of her hard work and her livelihood, she never thought the jaded food critic would turn out to be her one-night stand. And she sure as hell never thought she’d see the gorgeous Korean hunk again. But when Landon Kim waltzes into her bakery trying to clean up the mess he had a huge hand in making, Aubrey is torn between throwing and hearing him out.

When she hears his plan to help save her business, Aubrey knows that spending three weeks in California wine country working with Landon is a sure recipe for disaster. Her head is telling her to take the chance to save her bakery while her heart—and her hormones—are at war on whether to give him a second chance. And it just so happens that Landon’s meddling friends want them to spend those three weeks as close as possible…by sharing a villa.

When things start heating up, both in and out of the kitchen, Aubrey will have to make a choice—to stick it out or risk her heart.

Buy this book: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250621108

 

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Asian-American main characters, lots of hunger-inducing food descriptions, and classic romance tropes. How can I turn that down? That’s essentially what I write too.

I like the choice of having the Korean leads be beautiful people in successful occupations–an influential food critic in Landon and a talented baker in Aubrey. I like that this story is light, focusing on the travails of a romantic relationship instead of societal struggles that minorities face in the US. We have too many of those stories and not enough of this kind. The angst comes from the yearning, the risking of professional reputation versus personal desires.

While there’s instalust, the sex scenes are sweet and not explicit. The food scenes are sumptuous, so don’t read this hungry. Friendships are tight and mothers are honored. Overall, Ms. Lee’s storytelling is enjoyable. She handled one of my most disliked tropes quite well and the push-and-pull was just enough to cause tension but not too much to make me give up on the couple.

As the title suggests, this book is both sweet and a little bit of a mess. In the early copy I read, there were several times when the transitions between Aubrey’s and Landon’s points of view weren’t smooth and the time jumps weren’t clear. Also, the dual daddy issues were too much and the cover, while cute, didn’t reflect the ethnicity of the lead characters. These are minor issues and don’t stop me from recommending A Sweet Mess to Romance readers who are looking for books that reflect the diversity of the society we live in today.

Three-half-stars

 

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Jayci Lee_Photo Credit Nichanh Nicole PhotographyJAYCI LEE writes poignant, sexy, and laugh-out-loud romance every free second she can scavenge and is semi-retired from her fifteen-year career as a defense litigator. She loves food, wine, and travelling, and incidentally so do her characters. Jayci lives in sunny California with her tall-dark-and-handsome husband, two amazing boys with boundless energy, and a fluffy rescue whose cuteness is a major distraction. She is the author of A Sweet Mess.

Website: https://jaycilee.com/
Twitter: @authorjaycilee
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorjaycilee

 

 

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Macmillan is giving one of my followers a digital copy of Jayci Lee’s A Sweet Mess. All you have to do to enter is Follow @carpediemchronicles on Instagram and Like my bookstagram of the book. Comment there or return here to let me know you’ve entered. I will draw the winner on Tuesday, July 21 at 12 noon Central time.

 

SINGAPORE FLING Lone Star Lit Book Blog Tour

BNR Singapore Fling

SINGAPORE FLING is on a book blog tour with Lone Star Literary Life from November 12 to 21. Get to know more about me and Singapore Fling through special features like Maddie’s Top Five List, an Author Interview, my thoughts about traveling through books, a favorite recipe, and a Scrapbook Page. There will also be book reviews and fantastic giveaways.

Here’s the schedule (Bold links are published posts):

11/12/19 	Top Five 		The Clueless Gent
11/12/19 	Bonus Post 		Hall Ways Blog
11/13/19 	Review 			Forgotten Winds
11/14/19 	Author Interview 	Chapter Break Book Blog
11/15/19 	Guest Post 		All the Ups and Downs
11/16/19 	Review 			Missus Gonzo
11/17/19 	Review 			Reading by Moonlight
11/18/19 	Scrapbook Page 		That's What She's Reading
11/19/19 	Review 			StoreyBook Reviews
11/20/19 	Guest Post 		The Page Unbound
11/21/19 	Review 			The Book Review

Check out these giveaways!

1ST PRIZE (US only)
Kindle Fire 7 + Signed Copy of Singapore Fling
2ND PRIZE (US only)
Signed copies of Boracay Vows and Singapore Fling + charm bracelet
3RD PRIZE (US only)
A signed copy of Singapore Fling + spice paste packets (Hainanese Chicken Rice and Laksa)
4TH PRIZE (international)
eBooks of all three books in the Carpe Diem Chronicles series

NOVEMBER 12-22, 2019

Giveaway Singapore Fling LARGE

 

blog tour services provided by:LSBBT pairing

Happy Book Birthday – NEW YORK ENGAGEMENT

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Love takes you to unexpected places
Krista Lopez has traveled from the white sands of Boracay Island to the bright lights of New York City for love. Once again out of her element, Krista embraces Carpe diem as a motto. With her boyfriend by her side, she has confidence to take on The Big Apple and the prospect of …

Meeting the Parents
Blake Ryan won the approval of his girlfriend’s conservative family when they met in the Philippines. Now, he’s eager to introduce the woman he loves to his Irish-American clan. To share his past with her as he prepares to ask her to be part of his future. But an urgent call in the middle of the night reminds him that things can change …

In a New York Minute
A terrible crime and his family’s mixed reception of Krista conspire to derail their plans for a stress-free vacation. Will the circumstances cool Krista and Blake’s romance? Or will they seize the day and strengthen their bond?

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Now available from your favorite etailers:

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

To my husband, B, and our son, Stevie, for always inspiring and supporting me.

To my editor, Linda Hill, for giving me proper guidance. This could have gone so differently if you didn’t show me the way.

To Trish Smith, for brainstorming the plot with me.

To my high school kabarkada, Dr. Love Mariano and Grace Soriano, for the expert medical consult.

To my Beta Readers: Milly Bellegris, Gena Gilliam, Sue Schober, and Violet Olivo, for your invaluable input. They improved my story tremendously.

To my cover artist, Lucy Rhodes, for finding Krista in New York. I adore working with you. You’re so spot on and we’re super in-sync. I always look forward to our working chats.

To Tessa Dare, for giving me the idea for Krista’s back story.

Thank you all. Marami’ng salamat.

 

 

BORACAY VOWS Trailer

BORACAY VOWS Tours Boracay

I’m thrilled to present to you my very first trailer for BORACAY VOWS. I’m proud to have created this with the help of my sister Myrtle and her husband RG and improved by my friend Michael O’Connor.

These are scenes taken from the book.

  • Carpe Diem Chronicles  is the series title
  • Boracay Vows cover on paperback and smartphone
  • The grotto of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a famous landmark in Boracay
  • Kubo – The cottages at Perlas are modern adaptations of the indigenous dwelling
  • Pork adobo – Blake’s lunch
  • Ripe mango shake – Blake’s drink during their first meal together
  • Sinigang – Krista ordered the pork version for lunch
  • Buko – Krista had this coconut milk drink
  •  Jeepney – the most popular means of transportation in the Philippines
  • D’Mall – Boracay’s main commercial district. Krista and Blake spent Sunday here
  • Duyan – hammock. Chapter Eight’s setting
  • Hilot – therapeutic massage. In Chapter Twelve, they had a couples massage
  • Krista visited a tattoo parlor
  • On the beach
  • In the sea at sunset
  • Boracay Vows on ereader

Thanks again to those who’ve already enjoyed BORACAY VOWS. For those who haven’t read it yet, it’s available from your favorite etailers. books2read.com/Boracay-Vows

Credits: Google Photos Movie Assistant, The Clueless Gent

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cover Reveal: Boracay Vows

Friends, meet the luscious, vavavoom Krista Lopez, heroine of my first book Boracay Vows. Krista is spending this week in the island paradise of Boracay, Philippines to fulfill her Turning-Thirty Vow — the promise she made with her barkada to do something extraordinary in celebration of this milestone birthday. Today, November 2, is her thirtieth birthday. Happy birthday, Krista!

 

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Many thanks to Lucy Rhodes for her patience while I hemmed and hawed over every image, color, shade, and font before deciding on the final combination. I really appreciate you.

Thanks also to my sister Myrtle Ruaza, photographer-extraordinaire Celeste Odono, and my token male-point-of-view opinionator husband for bearing with my constant demands for observations and agreement with my concerns. Thank you, salamuch, mwah!

I love it, y’all! Release news coming soon.