AFTER PERFECT by Maan Gabriel – Featured New Release

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AFTER PERFECT

Maan Gabriel

 

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9781647422035_fcThirty-six-year-old Gabriella Stevens is living quietly and contently as a devoted housewife to Simon—just as her traditional Filipino mother has always told her to do—when, after sixteen years of marriage and twenty years together, he tells he wants a divorce.

With New York City as her backdrop, Gabby—single for the first time since she was a teenager—goes back to school, gets her first real job, and faces unfamiliar reality with determination. But when she unexpectedly falls in love with her mysterious but utterly beautiful creative writing professor, Colt, she learns he is battling demons of his own: a tragic past that may have made him incapable of love. Is Gabby destined for another heartbreak—or will her connection with Colt be what unbreaks her?

 

Buy Links:

Amazon          Barnes & Noble          One More Page

 

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Advance Praise:

  • “A heartfelt debut, After Perfect depicts a woman’s healing after divorce with grace and empathy. Maan Gabriel is an author to watch in contemporary women’s fiction.” ―Tif Marcelo, USA Today best-selling author of In a Book Club Far Away and The Key to Happily Ever After
  • “At once relatable and unexpected, AFTER PERFECT is the story of one woman’s quest to learn to live—and love—on her own terms after heartbreak. Maan Gabriel is a refreshing new voice in women’s fiction.” —Camille Pagán, bestselling author of Don’t Make Me Turn This Life Around
  • “Maan Gabriel’s After Perfectis the story of a marriage and a divorce and the complexities of both. Gabriel explores how cultural expectations may not only inform decision-making but determine it. In clear prose and through vivid scenes, Maan Gabriel shows us this irony―often through relationships, we come to know ourselves.” ―Corie Adjmi, author of Life and Other Shortcomings

ABOUT MAAN

MaanMaan Gabriel is a mom, wife, dreamer, writer, and advocate for women’s stories in literature. She earned her BA in communications from St. Scholastica’s College in Manila and MPS in public relations and corporate communications from Georgetown University. She has lived in Manila, Brussels, Dakar, and Mexico City. During the day, she works in strategic communications. Gabriel, along with her husband and son, currently calls suburban Washington DC home. After Perfect is her first novel.

 

Learn more at www.maangabriel.com


REVIEW

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From its pain-filled opening scene to the sigh-worthy hopeful ending, After Perfect is one highly evocative read. Maan Gabriel’s wonderfully polished debut involves the reader in newly-divorced Gabby Stevens’ journey to self-discovery amidst heartbreak and uncertainties.

After being cosseted most of her life, Gabby resolves to start over, go back to school, get a job, move into a small place, open herself up to new experiences, and stand on her own. Along the way, she maintains the support of her parents and best friend while creating meaningful relationships with new people. 

I like how Ms. Gabriel made Gabby so real and relatable by giving her balance in both long-held insecurities and newfound strengths. I love how she made Gabby’s Filipino heritage integral to her identity. I admire the way she drew her characters with dimensions, with light and shade. Thomas is, of course, a favorite as well as Gabby’s parents and her best friend Felicity. They provide the humor necessary to counter the angst in the storyline. As for Simon and Colt, I can see the attraction and approve of the final choice. They’re both important but this book is all about Gabby.

Other things I love: 

  • The inclusiveness and diversity of the characters reflect the society we live in today.
  • The great sense of place in both New York City and Washington DC locations
  • Everything that has to do with books (Thomas’s bookshop!!!), the writing and reading of them 
  • All the food

Some of my favorite quotes:

The thing about writing … It defines who you are as a person. It evolves and revolves around you, around how you feel, or around how you perceive life.”

If I become light, then darkness cannot overpower me. You can’t extinguish the light from the sun.”

When you have a book, you have been everywhere.”

Love is nobody’s fault. Love is someone’s magic. And no one should feel guilty for loving.”

Content notes: adultery, on-page miscarriage, deaths (narrated), body image issues

4 Four-half-stars

 

A DELICIOUS DILEMMA by Sera Taíno – Featured New Release

A Delicious Dilemma

A DELICIOUS DILEMMA

Sera Taíno

 

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ADD Book CoverDifferent worlds collide in Sera Taino’s debut novel.

It’s hard to remain enemies when you’ve broken bread together

Val Navarro’s first mistake: going out dancing after a bad breakup when the chef should be focused on her family business. Her second mistake? Thinking the handsome, sensitive stranger she meets could be more than a rebound – until she discovers he’s Philip Wagner of Wagner Developments. His father’s company could shut down her Puerto Rican restaurant and unravel her tight-knit neighborhood. When Philip takes over negotiations, Val wants to believe he has good intentions. But is following her heart a recipe for disaster?

From Harlequin Special Edition: Believe in love. Overcome obstacles. Find happiness.

 

Purchase at your favorite retailer here: https://serataino.com/a-delicious-dilemma/

 


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Sera Taino

Debut romance author Sera Taíno was selected for Harlequin’s Romance Includes You Mentorship, an initiative launched in 2019 to reach out to diverse communities of writers and bring more own voices stories to romance readers. For more information on this initiative, click here.

She is also the author of several short contemporary romances, including her latest, “Oil and Vinegar,” part of A More Perfect Union: A Voting-Themed Romance Benefit Anthology. All proceeds benefit Fair Fight, a national voting rights organization based in Georgia.

Her debut, #ownvoices novel, A Delicious Dilemma, is out now with Harlequin Romance Special Edition.

When she is not writing, she can usually be found teaching, traveling, or wrangling her family.

Sign up for Sera’s newsletter here, or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, or BookBub to stay up to date.


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A Delicious Dilemma is a triumphant debut for Sera Taíno. It’s a sumptuous celebration of food, culture, family, friendship, and love. I devoured this tasty offering in one sitting, its themes so familiar and dear to me.

I find myself relating closely with Val. The eldest of three, close to her dad, loves dancing and cooking, and takes the responsibility for her family’s well-being upon her shoulders. She’s a truly admirable heroine.

Sera’s writing of Philip was impressive as well. I loved the way he handled his inadvertent deception. I cheered his coming into his own against his father. His gentle wooing of Val put a smile on my face. 

I loved that the romance was sweet and slow-burn. The tension in the story was just enough that Val and Philip still had to work for their happy ending. Their conflict was authentic but not too heavy drama and was resolved in a satisfactory manner.

Overall, a start that’s more than promising. It already shows Sera Taíno’s immense talent. I want more stories from her. Soon, please. 

 

4 Four-half-stars

 


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A couple of my favorite recipes from the Sabor de Casa cookbook are Roasted Pork and flan as I featured here. Check them out for yourself. 

DIFFICULT by Brianne Gillen – Happy Book Birthday!

DIFFICULT - Available Now

DIFFICULT

Phoenix Pictures Book 1

Brianne Gillen


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“I suppose everyone expects a flop from us…But wouldn’t it be a lot more fun if we did something else?”

The Biggest Gossip, Straight Out of 1947 Hollywood!

A Diva Destined for Disaster…

With a face made for the cinema and the acting chops to back it up, Lois Ashford should be one of Hollywood’s most powerful players. But for the last decade, her notorious reputation for being “difficult” has kept her dreams of true stardom at bay—and now it might even cost her the contract she needs to continue her career.

A Heartthrob Heading toward Hazard…

Golden-boy Nick Bradley has always been considered one of the screen’s most captivating leading men—devastatingly handsome, tremendously talented, and a real-life hero to boot. That is, until a scandalous brush with the law makes him tabloid fodder and lands him in hot water with his bosses.

A Match Made for Motion Picture Magic…

When their studio pairs them in a stinker of a film, the last thing anyone expects is for their punishment to lead to a dynamic partnership—least of all Lois and Nick. And after the big bosses push them to capitalize on the momentum with a phony publicity marriage, it isn’t long before the sparks get real and their wedded bliss becomes a lot less fake. But all that glitters is not so golden, and their newly-minted status as Hollywood Royalty might just come at the expense of their hearts. Unless they can find the courage to tell a new story…

*Author’s Note—Content Warning: This book contains discussion of past (off-page) workplace sexual harassment.

Buy Links:
https://www.briannegillen.com/difficult-buy-links


EXCERPT

The Latest from Hollywood!

—November 1937

Quite the racket emerging from Neptune Pictures lately! Rumor has it the brunette stunner they were counting on to be their new Siren has turned out to be quite the Sea-Witch instead. Despite the whispers of her already being a diva on day one, we graciously gave her the benefit of the doubt. But it seems we were too merciful. Word comes from the set of her new picture—only her second, if you can believe it!—that she unleashed what could only be called a Temper Tsunami on everyone present. We have no idea what could have caused such an eruption, but really, is there ever an excuse for that kind of behavior? Looks like studio head Arthur Ronson might be regretting his decision to sign this troublesome beauty already…

***

Hollywood Happenings

—June 1940

Big change-up in Contract-land today! The fine folks at Neptune Pictures are finally unburdening themselves of their resident Difficile Dish, passing her contract across town to Parkmoor Studios. Talk of her outrageous behavior on set has become the stuff of Tinseltown legend, so it’s likely for the best that she’s moving on. We will admit, her talent is undeniable. Perhaps her new studio will have better luck taming this Shirley Temper into more of a Norma Sheer-Dream. Let’s raise a glass to Parkmoor—they’ve certainly got their work cut out for them!

Read Chapter One preview here: https://www.briannegillen.com/difficult-chapter-one-preview/


ABOUT BRIANNE

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Brianne Gillen is a romance author, costume designer, theatre educator, and life-long storyteller, based in the Los Angeles area. She loves classic films, especially the screwball comedies of the ‘30s and ‘40s, and will never turn down the opportunity to browse the treasure troves otherwise known as vintage clothing stores. She is also a voracious reader and firm believer in happily-ever-afters. She has done a bit of playwriting, and in recent years, has contributed her opinions to a few online publications centering on the art and craft of costume design. Difficult is her debut romance novel, and the first in her Phoenix Pictures Series, about fierce dames and cinnamon-roll gents finding love in late-1940s Hollywood.

Social Media links:
Website: www.briannegillen.com
Instagram: @booksbybrianne
Twitter: @BooksbyBrianne

LEARNING TO LOVE by Trinity Wood – Featured New Release and Giveaway

Title: Learning to Love
Series: New Zealand Sailing #1
Author: Trinity Wood
Genre: Contemporary Sports Romance
Release Date: August 5, 2021

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Learning to Love Ebook CoverNew Zealand Romance with Spice
Sam Northcroft needs to win.
Every single time.
On the water, on the Olympic sailing stage, or on land.
He’s got something to prove.
Ellie Tennyson can’t lose.
Not this time.
Between teaching four year-olds and playing grown-up, her dating life is flatter than a can of soda left out overnight.
She’s got something to prove.
Sparks fly between broody introvert Sam and bubbly Ellie when they meet at a house party on Auckland’s North Shore, but will his past and relentless pursuit of winning threaten their future?
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LEARNING TO LOVE is the first book in the New Zealand Sailing series, and can be read as a stand-alone. This steamy book features a K-drama-loving artless preschool teacher, a cinnamon roll athlete hero with a lot to learn, and the most meddling group of friends ever. In the City of Lovers, HEA is guaranteed.
PURCHASE LINKS
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU

COMING SOON
HIDDEN DEEP
Releasing September 15
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU

AUTHOR BIO
Trinity writes contemporary romance set in New Zealand. Because she can’t get enough of book boyfriends, she created some of her own. Get ready to meet Sam, Corey, Jay, Tai, Luke, Mike Travis, and many more, but please form an orderly line. Behind Trinity.
A self-professed good-time nerd, Trinity’s never far away from one of her trusty Pokemon coffee mugs. Trinity also swears that Margaritas can cure colds.
Keep in touch on Facebook in The New Romance Cafe, or at trinitywoodauthor@gmail.com.

GIVEAWAY
Click for a chance to win $50 Amazon gift card

REVIEW
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I always love books that transport me to another place and Learning to Love does exactly that with Ms. Wood’s vivid descriptions of the setting, the cadence of the characters’ language, and the specificity of aspects of New Zealand culture mentioned in the book.

While I got slightly breathless by the fast pacing of Ellie and Sam’s romance, I also appreciate the decisiveness of their actions. There wasn’t much push-and-pull that could get annoying if overdone. I like the effort made to be inclusive and diverse and I love the involvement of friends and families.

Overall, a promising debut by Trinity Wood. I enjoyed my return visit to New Zealand through this book.

A DELICIOUS DILEMMA by Sera Taíno – Preorder Blitz

A Delicious Dilemma

A Delicious Dilemma by Sera Taíno is coming August 24th! Pre-order now and get an EXCLUSIVE cookbook straight from the fictional family restaurant featured in the novel! Simply email seraspromos@gmail.com with a screenshot or forward of your pre-order receipt to claim!

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Pre-Order Here at Your Favorite Retailer


Different worlds collide in Sera Taino’s debut novel.

It’s hard to remain enemies when you’ve broken bread together

Val Navarro’s first mistake: going out dancing after a bad breakup when the chef should be focused on her family business. Her second mistake? Thinking the handsome, sensitive stranger she meets could be more than a rebound – until she discovers he’s Philip Wagner of Wagner Developments. His father’s company could shut down her Puerto Rican restaurant and unravel her tight-knit neighborhood. When Philip takes over negotiations, Val wants to believe he has good intentions. But is following her heart a recipe for disaster?

From Harlequin Special Edition: Believe in love. Overcome obstacles. Find happiness.

A Delicious Dilemma Pre-Order Blitz 2

 


ABOUT SERA

Sera Taino

Debut romance author Sera Taíno was selected for Harlequin’s Romance Includes You Mentorship, an initiative launched in 2019 to reach out to diverse communities of writers and bring more own voices stories to romance readers. For more information on this initiative, click here.

She is also the author of several short contemporary romances, including her latest, “Oil and Vinegar,” part of A More Perfect Union: A Voting-Themed Romance Benefit Anthology. All proceeds benefit Fair Fight, a national voting rights organization based in Georgia.

Her debut, #ownvoices novel, A Delicious Dilemma, is scheduled for publication with Harlequin Romance Special Edition in September 2021.

When she is not writing, she can usually be found teaching, traveling, or wrangling her family.

Sign up for Sera’s newsletter here, or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, or BookBub to stay up to date.


SABOR DE CASA

I had the privilege of receiving an early copy of the cookbook Sabor de Casa and I immediately taste-tested several of the recipes. With the Spanish heritage common in both Filipino and Puerto Rican cultures, the dishes are familiar to me and the recipes for them easy to follow. I made the roasted pork (similar to lechon), tostones (the Filipino maruya is a sweet relative), mojo, and the perennial favorite (leche) flan. All the ingredients are readily available in the local grocery stores, especially here in Texas with its huge Mexican community. I chose the small limes because they reminded me of the calamansi. I also substituted evaporated milk for whole milk in the flan recipe.  

The house smelled amazing with the aroma of garlic, of the succulent pork while it roasted in the oven, and the sugar being caramelized. The roast pork was super moist and delectable my 12-year-old son had two servings.

I didn’t have a tostonera so I improvised by smashing the plantain with the use of two differently-sized dipping sauce dishes. One note about the tostones–I fried the plantains five minutes per side two times. It should probably only be five minutes for both sides. Ten minutes total frying not twenty. They turned out browner than the recipe called for. My bad. They were still delicious but did not photograph very well beside the pork. I love brown food, so it’s all good as far as I’m concerned. 

The flan came out great. Creamy and not too sweet. I’ll probably use less sugar next time (2/3 cup instead of 3/4) and I’ll make it with 6-8 egg yolks. In short, I’ll revert to my own recipe. Hahaha. 

I cooked a feast with the three dishes I chose. I can’t wait to try out the rest of the recipes. Maybe I’ll do the arroz con gandules, bistec encebollado, and tres leches cake next. Come back here on August 24 to see which dishes I made and to check out my review of A Delicious Dilemma. Preorder the book so you too can make these scrumptious meals.  

 

AAPI SPOTLIGHT – HAPPY ENDINGS by Thien-Kim Lam

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HAPPY ENDINGS

by

Thien-Kim Lam

With her debut novel, Thien-Kim Lam serves up a sexy second-chance romance about exes with unfinished business. When working together reignites their passion, will these former flames sizzle or get burned all over again?

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Trixie Nguyen is determined to make her sex toy business a success, proving to her traditional Vietnamese parents that she can succeed in a nontraditional career. She’s made a fresh start in Washington DC, and her first pop-up event is going well—until she runs into the ex who dumped her. With a Post-it note.

The last person Andre Walker expected to see in his soul food restaurant was the woman he left behind in New Orleans. Their chemistry is still scorching, but he’s desperately trying to save his family restaurant from gentrifying developers. The solution? Partnering with his ex to turn Mama Hazel’s into a vibrator pop-up shop for hungry and horny clients.

Thanks to their steamy truce, both businesses start to sizzle and their red-hot desire soon reignites deeper feelings. But when Trixie receives an incredible career opportunity, will pride ruin their second chance at happiness?

 

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Buy links: 

Amazon     Harper Collins     Barnes & Noble     Indiebound     Bookshop

 


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A promising #ownvoices debut with a multicultural pairing, an admirable female lead, sex positivity, fierce female friendship, strong family ties, and loads of glorious food, Happy Endings is exactly my jam. 

I love that there are more and more Asian-American authors writing romance and I’m ecstatic that we are creating main characters who positively represent our heritage and who celebrate the joy of loving freely. It’s wonderful to read books with characters, backgrounds, and situations I can relate to. 

Ms. Lam’s debut excites me because she’s fearless in giving her Vietnamese-American female lead a job selling sex toys thereby confronting the issue of the hyper-sexualization of the Asian female in popular media head-on. Trixie’s pride in her accomplishments and her ambition in furthering her career no matter the obstacles delighted me. 

For me, this is very much Trixie’s story–her quest for success, her difficult relationship with her very traditional parents, her friendship with the Boss Babes were all fascinating to me. Her romance with Andre only takes second place. I do understand the attraction between them and the intimate scenes were really hot but, in my opinion, Andre needed to be more, to do more to deserve Trixie. His characterization was the weakest aspect of the book for me. 

Overall, I enjoyed this book and I’m looking forward to reading more of Ms. Lam’s Boss Babes. 

 

4 out of 5 stars

 


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Thien-Kim Lam_Photo Courtesy of the AuthorThien-Kim Lam writes stories about Vietnamese characters who smash stereotypes and find their happy endings. A recovering Type-Asian, she guzzles cà phê sữa đá, makes art, and bakes her feelings to stay sane. Thien-Kim is also the founder of Bawdy Bookworms, a subscription box that pairs sexy romances with erotic toys. She’s been featured on NPR, BBC America, and NBC.

Thien-Kim brings over 20 years’ experience as a sex educator and sex toy expert into a steamy second-chance romance in her debut, Happy Endings. Selected as the winner of Avon’s 2019 open call for unagented Own Voices submissions, this romantic comedy is filled with heart; it is a story of honoring each person’s culture in an interracial relationship, sex positivity, and exploring non-traditional ambitions even when they terrify you.

Happy Endings is my love letter to all Asian women,” says Thien-Kim. “We live in a society that fetishizes us, but Trixie explores her sexuality on her own terms and wants to help the women in her life do the same. She may stumble a bit, especially when love is on the line, but she’s got her Boss Babes by her side. Just like how I have my Boss Babes in my corner.”

 

Social links:

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