ADDING UP TO LOVE by Ginny Moore — Featured Debut

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ADDING UP TO LOVE

Ginny B. Moore


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Adding Up To Love

When Alex asked for Fern’s help courting her twin, he agreed to help her get into Oxford, but he didn’t expect to fall in love with the wrong sister.

Fern loved nothing more than math. Relating more to numbers than to people, she dreamed of becoming a mathematician at Oxford University, an impossible path for the youngest daughter of a powerful aristocrat. After living her life in her sister Rose’s shadow, a chance encounter with a handsome student gives her the opportunity to chase her dream. Falling in love with Alex was not part of the equation.

Alex did not believe in love at first sight until he met his perfect match at a masquerade. Marrying Rose would be the smart choice and give him the future he always dreamed of — if only he hadn’t fallen for her quirky, brilliant sister. With his plans in jeopardy, Alex realizes that doing what is smart is not always what is best.

Now he can’t stop thinking about the woman he wasn’t supposed to notice, and their lives together won’t add up. Will a future with Alex be the one problem Fern cannot solve?

Available in paperback and eBook from Amazon

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ABOUT GINNY

Ginny MooreGinny was the kid who loved kissing scenes in movies and always rooted for Mulder and Scully to hook up. Her first piece of writing, a horrendous fanfic romance based on The Three Musketeers when she was thirteen, will never see the light of day.

Ginny started writing romance with purpose in 2021 to avoid doom-scrolling social media and has never stopped. To pay the bills, she is a middle school assistant principal and has been in education for fifteen years. She has earned two master’s degrees, one in secondary education and another in school leadership. Most of her writing is done on her phone or in the parking lot of her kids’ extracurricular activities.

When she is not writing, Ginny is a very slow long-distance runner or making a dent in her endless “to be read” list. She is the mother of three kids, two exceptionally stupid dogs, two codependent cats, and the grandmother to a hermit crab.

While she started writing during the pandemic, she has found it to be a new lifeline and form of self-care and has already planned her next five books in the series. If you enjoy reading about Fern and Alex in Adding Up to Loveyou’ll love Our Path to the Stars (Violet’s story) and Where You Are (Lord Henry’s story), both coming in 2023. Rose’s story (Finding North) is coming in the spring of 2024, and Lily and Marigold will have stories later next year. 

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LOVE & OTHER PERENNIAL HABITS by Emmaline Warden — Featured New Release

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LOVE & OTHER PERENNIAL HABITS

Emmaline Warden


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All Margaret Reedy’s despicable husband left her when he died was the title of Countess of Everly, a ramshackle estate, and a pittance to repair it. Fortunately, he couldn’t deny her the most important perk of widowhood: freedom. A chance to become the woman she might have been if a forced marriage hadn’t gotten in her way. Problem is, she’s not entirely certain who that is.

Oliver Ludlow’s only desire is to spend the next month with his hands buried in the soil of his greenhouse, escaping London and his newly appointed role as the Marquess of Greenwood. Instead, he offers his help renovating the gardens of Baron Manor, which means spending his days in the company of the peculiar countess who owns it. As he gets to know her, however, he begins to find her quirks intriguing… and alluring.

An idyllic autumn in the country has a way of becoming the perfect backdrop to fall in love, but with their lives leading them in two completely opposite directions, will their newfound happiness be strong enough to weather not only their expected roles in society, but the seasons of life?

 

Buy Links:
Universal: Books2Read


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The Earl of Everly was dead, thank God.

The bastard had met the grim reaper in his sleep at the ripe age of sixty-six, an easy way to go for someone so terrible as him, but nevertheless, he was dead. Margaret Reedy, Countess of Everly, watched the carriage pull away, the black plumes on top of the horses’ heads dancing in the wind as they merged into the traffic of Mayfair. Everly would be buried at the family estate in Salisbury, and Margaret, being a lowly woman, was not allowed to attend the proceedings.

Not that she would have. Her husband was a miserable man who had made it his purpose in life to ensure her days were a living hell. No, she would bid goodbye to the arse from the front steps of their Grosvenor Square home, then head inside for a nice cup of tea and some biscuits.

“How are you, dear?” her mother, Lady Veerson, asked from the couch of the sitting room. Her blue day dress showed nary a wrinkle as she sipped from her teacup, her perfectly coiffed grey hair immaculate, not a single strand out of place. The woman had not moved from the spot since she arrived that morning, and Margaret envied her carefree existence, but that was it. Her mother,
after all, was married to her father and that was a sentence she would not wish upon anyone. It had been her sire who had determined the trajectory of her fate, forcing her to marry the aged earl, a man nearly forty years her senior, and sentencing her to an existence of wretchedness that only death could save her from. Unfortunately for them all, her father was very much alive.

“I’m well. Ready for this all to be completed.” She brushed at her black crepe dress before sitting and taking the proffered cup of tea from her mother.

“The hard part is over, dear. The earl will be buried and once his will is read and Lord Harrison officially takes over the title, you’ll be the dowager countess. Do you have any notion of what your settlement will be?” Lady Veerson sipped her tea so delicately at the question it set Margaret’s teeth on edge.

She shook her head. “Walter wasn’t too forthcoming about what his plans for me were once he perished. I’m sure he intended to outlive me.”

Her mother frowned at her words. The acknowledgment of oppression she had been dealt at the hands of her husband was a topic her parents wanted little to do with. Just the mere mention of Walter’s domineering personality sent them both into lamentations of her being overly dramatic. It had not mattered when Everly demeaned her in public, calling her all sorts of horrible names, and it certainly did not matter now. No, her parents cared very little for the well- being of their eldest child, only that she married well, and gained a title in the process. After all, what were a few harsh words when you could be a countess?

Margaret pasted a smile on her lips. “I can only hope Daphne’s marriage is nothing like mine. It’s a shame she could not come today.”

“What nonsense, Margaret. She’s at finishing school, readying herself to become a nobleman’s wife. That is much more important than sitting idly by as her sister tends to her husband’s funeral.” Lady Veerson glanced at the clock but shook her head as she realized the timepiece remained unmoving because of mourning constraints. “I should be off. I have my monthly orphan society meeting. You should be grateful I was available to support you in your time of need.”

“Of course, Mother. You are very thoughtful.” The words left her lips with force, their necessity grating, given the circumstances.

Lady Veerson nodded. “I am.” She set down her teacup and stood. “Let me know once the will is read and you learn your fate. Your father and I will be happy to have you return home for the duration of your mourning. I know he is eager to begin the search for your next husband.”

Margaret bit the inside of her cheek to hold in her retort. Her mother did not need to know that she would never remarry, nor that she would rather live in a shack than return to her parent’s household. No matter the outcome of the will, Margaret knew this was her chance for a new beginning, and she was not intending to let it pass without a fight.

After her mother took her leave, Margaret walked the home, her fingers dancing over the furniture that Everly had picked. Walter designed each room to his taste after he stated without affliction that she had little knowledge of what was up to fashion for the home. He had picked each piece meticulously. And he had lorded each room over her, another dagger in his reasonings for why she would never be a good wife and countess. The temptation to break each piece had her removing her hand and holding them tightly behind her back. Lord Harrison would not appreciate learning the items had become damaged in a manic rage, no matter how terrible her husband had been.

Yet the idea held merit. She imagined lining each precious possession on top of the dining room table, then maliciously hitting each of them with a Pall Mall mallet. Margaret smiled at the joy the image brought, allowing her mind to run through each cherished item Everly had boisterously taunted her with. She catalogued them from most hated to least, then imagined each swing and the resounding crash of the beloved item as it met its end. In terms of comfort, it was minimal, but she would take what she could get. After all, anything was better than Everly being alive.

The clearing of a throat behind her brought her out of her musings and she smiled at their butler, Sterns. “Sorry to interrupt, my lady, but the solicitor is here. I’ve already informed Lord Har-er, I mean the earl, that I have set him up in the study.”

Margaret chuckled at his stumble of the title of the new Earl of Everly. It seemed it was not just her that was adjusting to the new life that did not include a temperamental old man with a penchant for malevolence. “Thank you, Sterns. If you could have some refreshments sent in, it would be greatly appreciated.”

The butler nodded. “Of course, my lady.”

Heading to the study, Margaret could not contain the nerves that danced around in her stomach threatening to bring up her breakfast. Her impending fate would decide the entire trajectory of her escape, and if Everly had ensured she be in hell even after he was gone, she was uncertain what her next steps would be. But she would escape, of that she was certain.

Inside the study, Lord Harrison Metcalf sat across from the solicitor, who presided over the previous earl’s massive desk, the ankle of one leg resting on his knee as his brown eyes met hers, his usually meticulous blond hair falling over his face. A single sheet of paper sat before the solicitor, a stoic-looking man, and Margaret swallowed the bile that attempted to rise from her throat.

“My lady,” the solicitor said, bowing to her. Lord Harrison nodded his head at Margaret as if to reassure her that all would be well. He had been her biggest champion and closest confidant during her marriage to the earl, and his friendship now was invaluable. And if the will read as she suspected it would, Lord Harrison would no doubt do everything in his power to ensure that she was taken care of. While she was grateful for his thoughtfulness, it did not escape her notice that she would be indebted to another man for the rest of her life.

Lord Harrison had been Walter’s nephew and only heir, his presence truly underscoring the age difference in their marriage, but Harrison’s always ready smile and quick wit had soothed the sting of her husband’s vicious treatment. Within very little time, his weekly dinners with the earl had become the highlight of her week, the only bright spot in an otherwise dreary landscape of her marriage.

Taking the seat beside Lord Harrison, Margaret folded her hands primly in her lap and took a deep breath.

“First, I want to extend my condolences to you, Lady Everly, on the passing of the earl. I wish you comfort and support in this terrible time,” the solicitor said, his voice a croak.

Margaret nodded even as his words made her hands tighten. “Your words are more comfort than you know,” she said, forcing a smile to her lips. “I’ve rung for some refreshments before you read the will.”

The solicitor nodded his head. “Thank you, my lady, but that will not be necessary. It seems the previous earl kept his legal matters rather simple, so I do not believe it will take much time at all to go over it.”

Margaret’s stomach dropped at the words. “What do you mean?”

The solicitor rubbed at the back of his neck before adjusting a pair of spectacles and picking up the solitary piece of paper that sat before him. “Perhaps I should just get to it.” He cleared his throat, not that doing so would make the croaking of his voice any less pronounced, and said, “I, Walter Reedy, twelfth Earl of Everly, being of sound mind and body declare this to be my last will in testament. To my wife Margaret Reedy, Lady Everly, I leave the jewelry I gifted to her, which includes a pearl necklace, a sapphire ring, and a pair of emerald earrings. I also leave to her the unentailed property known as Baron Manor with the hopes she puts the same amount of love and care into it as she has shown to our other homes.” The solicitor adjusted his spectacles once more. “He
mentions your marriage settlement, where it seems a provision of ten pounds a year is allotted if you should become a widow.”

Lord Harrison growled beside her. “You cannot be serious. How is she expected to live off tenpounds a year?”

“I believe the intent was for the countess to return to her family with the hope that she remarries,” the solicitor said, swallowing audibly at Lord Harrison’s rough tone.

“She is the Countess of Everly. The only one to decide she should remarry should be herself. This is unacceptable.” Lord Harrison stood as if to lunge at the man, but Margaret placed a hand on his arm. His knight in shining armor act, though thoughtful, was entirely unnecessary.

Walter’s will, evil as it was, was set in stone and there was nothing either of them could do tochange it.

“It’s all right, Harry,” she said, even as her mind replayed the solicitor’s words on repeat, a soft chant that slowly grew louder as the moment went on.

“It’s not all right, Meg. The bastard gave you a run-down property to call your home as a dowager and almost no money to get by. I won’t stand for it.”

Margaret squeezed his arm before turning back to the solicitor, who seemed paler than he had before. Poor dear. “Please continue.”

The man nodded and glared at the paper before him. “I’m afraid the rest is regarding the new earl and the entailed properties that come with the title. I’m sorry, my lady, but that was the only mention the previous earl made regarding your settlement.”

“That’s quite all right. If you’ll both excuse me, I’ll leave and allow you to get on with the rest of the will.” Margaret stood and smiled at the solicitor before nodding her head to Lord Harrison and taking her leave. Her hands shook as she headed to her apartments and quickly shut the door behind her, turning the lock. Leaning against the portal, Margaret took a deep breath.
She was free.

Most widows would respond to her settlement with shouts of outrage followed swiftly by someone fetching the smelling salts, and yet Margaret could not contain the smile that overtook her face. The jewelry meant nothing and could easily be sold for a respectable profit, but the house, oh heavens, the house.

Everly had referred to Baron Manor as Bitch Manor, the estate he had relegated his late mother to. Their relationship had been tenuous at best, and he had found much delight in telling all and sundry the story of his mother’s involuntary isolation in Woodingdean. After she passed, the home sat in disarray and disrepair and was no doubt in a rather shabby state, but it was hers. Never mind that Everly had gifted her with the manor he most hated, never mind that he had written a final barb to strike her heart in his assumption that she would never care for it. The blighter could kiss her arse, thank you very much, because what he failed to realize in his idiotic attempt at revenge was that she could purchase an unentailed property. And now, not only did Margaret have
the funds, but she had very little fears when it came to getting her hands dirty.

The smile that took over her lips was painful it was so large, and even as tears filled her eyes, she could not help the laughter that bubbled from her lips. It began quietly, then turned into a raucous noise. Combined with the tears, the pair of emotions were so contradictory yet meshed with one another in a display so awful, so joyful, that, for a moment, fear nearly overcame her. It was like a dream and Margaret was scared she would awake at any moment to find Everly still alive and the gilded bars to her prison firmly in place.

A knock at the door had her jumping, and she shook her head, wiping away the tears. Unlocking it, she found Lord Harrison on the other side. “May I come in?” he asked. “Of course. It is, after all, your house now.”

“Meg…” he said, his tone exasperated.

“Harry.”

“Meg, let me help. You can stay here, or if you insist on going to Baron Manor, I’ll pay for the renovations. I’ll hire a full staff and make sure the place is at least habitable before you journey there.”

She shook her head at him. “No. I’m going to do this on my own.”

“Why must you be so stubborn? That bastard left you a dilapidated building that he called Bitch Manor and barely enough funds to pay for food and clothing, let alone renovate an entire home. Half the rooms aren’t even safe enough to venture into.”

Margaret laughed at his outrage. “Well, then I shall just avoid those until they are repaired.”

“Repaired by whom? And with what money?” Lord Harrison stalked the floor of her sitting room, his brow in a deep furrow. “You’re talking nonsense. Why won’t you let me help?”

“I know you won’t understand, but I need to do this on my own.”

“That’s utter bullshit and you know it.” Lord Harrison rubbed at his face. “I’m sorry, Meg. I just hate knowing that he’s done this to you.” He sat in the chair near the fireplace, his hands clenched together as he stared at the floor. “I wish you’d let me fix this.”

“There’s nothing to fix. Whether or not you see it, Walter gave me the key to my cage and I’m going to take it.” She smiled at him. “If I promise to ask you for help should I need it, will that pacify you?”

“I think the only thing that will pacify me at this point is bringing the blighter back from the dead so I can kill him.” With a sigh, Lord Harrison stood and walked over to her, placing a comforting hand on her shoulder. “Shall I send up some maids to help you pack?”

Margaret smiled at him. “Not for packing, but I would appreciate the help.”

He raised a brow at her. “Do I want to know what you have planned?”

She went to her closet and examined the mass of gowns inside. “I plan to take my life back.”


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Emmaline WardenEmmaline Warden lives in Colorado with her husband, four kids, and a menagerie of animals. Her love of romance began with an accidental copy of Susan Elizabeth Phillips and a trip to D.C. She’s been reading and writing romance ever since.

Social Media:
Website: emmalinewarden.com
Facebook: emmaline.warden.7
Twitter: @emmaline_warden
Instagram: @authoremmalinewarden
Newsletter: .emmalinewarden.com/newsletter

FRIENDS WITH ISSUES by Meredith Berlin — Featured New Release

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FRIENDS WITH ISSUES

Meredith Berlin


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fwiThree-time-Emmy nominee and former editor-in-chief of “Seventeen Magazine” and “Soap Opera Digest” Meredith Berlin is releasing her debut contemporary fiction, Friends With Issues (January 24, 2023, Warren Publishing), which follows three glamorous, self-made women in their 40s who gamble with love, sex and their careers in NYC and L.A., as one charismatic man captivates them all. 

Friends With Issues follows Brooke, Elizabeth, and Susan, three friends who have made their mark on Manhattan but who now struggle with the daily balancing act of career, friendship, and intimacy. Brooke thought she married the man of her dreams, but now she’s questioning her marriage as she embarks on a new venture to Hollywood. Elizabeth’s sex life is incredible, but only on her husband’s terms–and after a shattering diagnosis, she attempts to remake herself in order to recover some semblance of her identity. Susan should be ecstatic when her media mogul husband catapults them into financial security, but as her uncertainty about their relationship grows, she opens a Pandora’s box of new passion by finally admitting that her sexual and romantic preferences do not lie exclusively with men.

In Meredith Berlin’s provocative debut, these women discover that their relationships to sex, love, friends, and personal identity can transform at any age–and money doesn’t protect you from the unimaginable. Fans of Big Little Lies, The Manhattan Girls, Valley of the Dolls, and novels by Taylor Jenkins Reid and Jessica Anya Blau will devour this absorbing drama to its powerful end.

Buy Links:

Amazon          Barnes & Noble          Kobo


ABOUT MEREDITH

Meredith BerlinMeredith Berlin was the editor-in-chief of several magazines, including Soap Opera Digest and Seventeen. Her freelance articles and profiles have appeared in dozens of newspapers and magazines. Meredith is a three-time Emmy-nominated executive producer and has been a regular on-air contributor to television news and entertainment shows. Like a few of her characters, she worked as a jeweler and lived in the northern suburbs of New York City. Meredith was diagnosed with MS over twenty years ago. She has been active on MS boards and feels privileged to advocate for others who have the disease. Meredith has been married for over thirty years and has three adult children and one perfect granddaughter. Like many former New Yorkers, she currently lives in Florida. This is her first novel. Read more at meredithberlin.com.

Follow Meredith Berlin on social media:

Instagram: @meredith_berlin | Facebook: @meredithberlin


AN INTERVIEW WITH MEREDITH

  • How has your professional life, working as editor-in-chief for Seventeen Magazine and Soap Opera Digest, influenced your writing? 

Soap Opera Digest not only taught me about that particular community of actors and actresses. More importantly, it taught me about the art of storytelling. Daily soap scripts are the length of most movies. No reruns. Soaps are where writers learned about arcs and long form storytelling. They’ve been around since the early days of radio. Seventeen, is considered a national treasure. A girl’s first real magazine. It taught me about fashion, respect for teens, what is current and on the minds of girls. It taught me how to capture a reader and not let go.

  • How has your MS diagnosis impacted you and your writing?

MS taught me that I have to respect my body. It’s a disease that doesn’t allow you to “push through” When you need to rest, you must rest. Because I look fine, with no outward symptoms, it’s also called on me to be more of an advocate for myself. My disability is not seen but I must communicate that I have one, IF the situation calls for it. It’s taught me about self advocacy in general.  I have learned to accept what my body tells me and listen to it.

  • What made you decide to return to writing, and how has your life changed since you have?

I saw a movie on TV 20 years after I wrote the book and said, “That’s my book!” Of course it wasn’t, but the relationship between the women, the fact that they were wealthy but also self made, had strengths, weaknesses, love problems, children problems and relied on each other, made me realize that my book’s themes were evergreen. I was enthused to return to it. And finishing the book became a fever goal. My family pushed me on. 

  • Let’s talk about your characters. You mention that people are not just “one thing”. How does this show up in your characters?

I can expand more fully! If you see a well dressed, wealthy woman, you can come up with an idea of what kind of life that person lives. If you talk to someone who’s confrontational, and rude, you want to stay away. If you meet someone with a wrenching disease, you imagine that their life is a struggle. But you don’t know their backstory. It’s only by listening and investing the time in someone else that you might learn, ie, that the confrontational person, ie, has been severely emotionally crippled in their past and it colors what they say and do. Listening, giving people second chances and believing that everyone has a story is, for me, a more connected way to live. Doesn’t mean you have to like them. It’s just interesting to remember that most of us have layers and reasons for what we do. 

  • How does this book show the truth of life – that we all struggle and have to adapt? 

Yes, it’s a good subject to expand on. Well, the most recent example of that is that my entire family has come down with CoVid and I’m on deadline. I’m here in Massachusetts, meant to take care of my granddaughter, while being slayed with the virus. Didn’t plan on it. I’m exhausted, anxious, worried. I want to push through but I can’t. So what to do? Ask for help, lower my expectations, believe that I will still show the world the best book I can write and rely on family and friends to support me when I tell myself a million times a day, “Oh God, what if I can’t?”

  • As somebody who has interviewed a lot of celebrities – who was your most interesting interview?

The first interview I ever conducted was with the most famous man in the world — Muhammad Ali. It was also the easiest because he did all the talking. I was 20 years old and scared to death! I was also paid the “ridiculously high fee” of $25 for for writing the story for my local newspaper. How I got the interview and why Ali said yes is a story of persistence, fear, and the generosity of an incredible boxer.

  • What do you want readers to take away from your book?

I want them to relate to my characters. I want them to see themselves or someone they know in them. I want them to know that we–as humans–have inner strength to get us through the worst. I hope they see that humor, love and support can help us through the good times and bad.

THE YEAR OF CECILY by Lisa Lin — Featured New Release

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THE YEAR OF CECILY

Lisa Lin


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This is the year of Cecily Chang.

San Francisco attorney Cecily Chang is ready to tackle the New Year heads on. So, she makes a list of resolutions that will guarantee it’ll be the best year ever. Doing her filial duty, she prepares to head back to her Brooklyn family home to celebrate the Lunar New Year. Cecily prepares herself for nosy meddling relatives, stuffing herself with food, and the chaos family togetherness can bring. All she asks is that she avoids the boy next door-the one who broke her heart ten years ago. So of course she runs into him. Literally. Which really wreaks havoc with her resolution to avoid drama.

Jeffrey Lee has always regretted how he ended things with Cecily ten years ago. But seeing her again at New Year’s, he’s sure that this is a sign, and is ready to do whatever it takes to persuade Cecily to give him, and them, another chance. Now a successful screenwriter, he will need all the help he can get to make sure this love story gets the Hollywood ending it deserves. Will he be able to convince Cecily that her list of resolutions won’t be complete without him and that love is a resolution worth keeping?

Buy Links:

Amazon          Apple          Barnes & Noble          Kobo 


ABOUT LISA

Lisa LinLisa has been an avid romance reader and fan since she read her first Nora Roberts novel at the age of 13 after wandering the aisles of her local bookstore. Lisa loves that romance has the power to inspire, and believes that HEAs are for everyone.

Lisa writes light contemporary romantic comedies with a liberal dash of snark and banter. She enjoys delving into the complexity of Asian and immigrant family experiences, and celebrates female friendships in her trademark dry, witty style. As an Asian-American author writing own voices Asian American stories, Lisa hopes that her books will show the diversity of the Asian-American experience, and the importance of every reader being able to see themselves represented on the page.

Having grown up in Pennsylvania and helping out at her parents’ restaurant, Lisa has never bothered to learn to cook. She has two liberal arts undergraduate degrees and a J.D, and in her former life she was an intern, then Legislative Assistant for a PA State Representative. She also worked as a paralegal at a boutique law firm. Lisa is a politics junkie (don’t get her started on the wonder that is The West Wing!), indulges in naps whenever possible, and believes Netflixing in her pajamas and ordering take out qualifies as the perfect weekend. As a self-described Twitter addict, you can tweet her @laforesta1!


REVIEW

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An outstanding debut by Lisa Lin. The author seems to be a student of the “write what you know” school of thought because The Year of Cecily came out super authentic and immensely relatable. Ms. Lin’s love of reading Romance shows in her writing as well. The beats and tropes are present in this second-chance, homecoming story that’s infused with a rich Chinese cultural background.

4 Four-half-stars


INDISCREET by Cara Dion – Featured New Release

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INDISCREET

Cara Dion


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Indiscreet - Final CoverHow do you choose between the career you thought you lived for and the love you can’t live without?

For Dr. Liam Jacobs, becoming the chair of a prestigious university opera program is one step closer to his dream of having his own opera company. Getting involved with a student could cost him everything he’s ever worked for. But once he hears Melynda sing, he knows he’ll never want anyone else.

Melynda Taylor’s dedication to becoming an opera singer takes her directly to Liam, her professor, and the one man with the power to make her come undone and risk everything. But in her experience, men don’t give, they take – sometimes without permission. And they definitely don’t fall in love with women like her.

When a dark shadow from Melynda’s past makes their entanglement even more complicated, they are each forced to decide how much they are willing to sacrifice for love. Now the music that drove them both forward and bound them together, could also be the thing to tear them apart.

Indiscreet is a standalone, high-heat, forbidden romance with a guaranteed HEA, and the first book in the Love Song series.

Buy Linkamazon.com/dp/B0BMHYKHPP


ABOUT CARA

Cara Dion avatarCara has always had an overactive imagination. Her aunt tells the story of 4-year-old Cara demanding that she pretend to “be a doctor who’s really a wolf who’s pretending to be bad but is really good.” Now she knows, she was just a romance reader at heart!

She has been an English teacher, professional musician, and nonprofit administrator. When she’s not reading or writing romance, Cara loves cooking, Broadway musicals, and all things Disney.

She lives in a small town in New England with her family and two cats (who want all the attention).

Author Links:
Website: caradion.com
Instagram: @caradion.author
Facebook: @caradionauthor
Linktree: caradion

MAY THE BEST DUKE WIN by Paulia Belgado — Featured New Release

May the Best Duke Win

MAY THE BEST DUKE WIN

Paulia Belgado


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9781335723406She must marry a duke… But which one?

American heiress Kate Mason loves being a rail engineer—yet her father is demanding she marry an English aristocrat! Her plan is to accept any noble who’ll allow her to pursue her railway ambitions—until she kisses Sebastian, Duke of Mabury. He is a duke, but the wrong one. He’s shunned society since a family scandal and vowed never to wed at all. So why does being with him feel so right?

Buy Links:

Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Harlequin     Indiebound

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ABOUT PAULIA

MVIMG_20180924_183501Born and raised in the Philippines, Paulia Belgado has worn many hats over the years, from office assistant, flyer distributor, singer, nanny, and farm worker. Now, she’s proud to add romance author to that list. After decades of dreaming of seeing her name on the shelves next to her favorite romance authors, she finally found the courage (and time! Thanks, 2020!) to write her first book. Paulia lives in Asia with her husband Jason, Jessie the poodle, and an embarrassing amount of pens and stationery art supplies. Follow her on Twitter @pauliabelgado or on facebook.com/pauliabelgado

Website: www.pauliabelgado.com

CHARLESTON CONUNDRUM by Stacy Wilder – Book Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway


CHARLESTON CONUNDRUM

A Liz Adams Mystery
by
STACY WILDER
Cozy Mystery / Female Sleuth / Cozy Animal
Publisher: Wild Hawk Press
Series: A Liz Adams Mystery
Date of Publication: January 15, 2022
Number of Pages: 235 pages 
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A Cozy Mystery with a Twist…
Liz Adams never imagined when she moved to Charleston with her truth sniffing Labrador retriever, Duke, that she would use her skills as a private investigator to avoid winding up on Death Row.

Liz’s life is upended when her best friend, Peg, is murdered and she becomes a suspect. Liz’s gun was the murder weapon. Tensions flare between Liz and the cops as she rises to the top of their suspect list.

At the request of Peg’s father, Liz agrees to take on the investigation. Riding a roller coaster of emotions, Liz uncovers many secrets Peg kept from her despite being best friends. The suspects include a cast of characters: the ex-husband, the boyfriend, a coworker, several neighbors, and family members.

Charleston Conundrum takes the reader from Charleston, South Carolina to Paris and back in the emotional unraveling of Peg’s life and death to a killer ending. It is the first book in the Conundrum series.

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Methodical and surprising, Stacy Wilder’s debut cozy mystery Charleston Conundrum shows enormous potential for a long, successful run.

20220502_030139554_iOSMs. Wilder thoroughly immerses the reader in the detailed process of Liz Adams’s investigation of her best friend’s murder where she is also the prime suspect. Along with the main character, we scrutinize various suspects and get informed of their probable innocence or guilt all the while experiencing daily life in the fascinating city of Charleston, South Carolina. The city totally comes alive through Ms. Wilder’s extensive description of the food, the weather, the fashion, and the establishments. The same marvelous sense of place is showcased in the scenes that take place in Paris. I may have said oh là là a couple of times while reading.

The cast of named characters is numerous but they’re distinct and recognizable. At no time did I get confused about who is who and I admire Ms. Wilder for that. I also admire the author’s skill in keeping the identity of the killer hidden until the end. I had a suspicion about the why but not the who. The double tragedy of the answers to those questions saddened me greatly.

20220501_053906324_iOSOverall, I like the procedural aspect of the storytelling. I also like the diversity of characters and expect the inclusion of more underrepresented groups in future books. It could use a bit more build-up of tension, fewer mentions of brand names, expansion of Liz’s lab Duke’s role in the investigation, and less telling of deep emotions. Finally, I hope to see a progression of the romance introduced in this first book.

It’s a promising start.

Thanks to Lone Star Lit for giving me the opportunity to read and review Charleston Conundrum. I appreciate the gift of a paperback copy for my growing library.

4 out of 5 stars



Stacy writes mysteries, children’s stories, short stories, and poetry. Her debut novel, Charleston Conundrum, is the first in the Conundrum mystery series.

Stacy’s mission is to deliver a delightful story to readers of all ages while benefiting a larger community. She donates a portion of the proceeds from the sales of her books to causes that support wildlife conservation, and the homeless, both people and pets. A portion of the proceeds from Charleston Conundrum is donated to National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

As well as writing, Stacy is passionate about her faith, family, Labradors, the causes that she supports, the beach, art, and reading books.

She and her husband live in Houston, Texas, with a totally spoiled Labrador retriever, Eve.
◆  WEBSITE  ◆  FACEBOOK  ◆ AMAZON  ◆  INSTAGRAM  ◆
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Autographed copies of Charleston Conundrum
(US only; ends midnight, CDT, 5/06/2022)

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