AFTER PERFECT by Maan Gabriel – Featured New Release

After Perfect graphic

AFTER PERFECT

Maan Gabriel

 

BLURB

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

 

IT TAKES HEART by Tif Marcelo – Featured New Release

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IT TAKES HEART

by

Tif Marcelo

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it takes heart paperback

From romance author Tif Marcelo comes a heartwarming story about taking a second chance on love at a family-owned couples resort.

Heart Resort, a private resort in the Outer Banks, is a romantic getaway for couples but a hotbed of family drama for its proprietors, the Puso family. Brandon Puso, the youngest of the four siblings, prefers life on his own as a licensed contractor in DC after a falling-out with his eldest brother.

After a hurricane plows through the Outer Banks, Brandon has a change of heart. He returns to the resort to help with the grand reopening but encounters his big sister’s best friend, designer Geneva Harris, who’s there to do the same thing. But Geneva and Brandon have a secret. Years ago, they had a secret romance that ended in heartbreak.

With the resort’s future at stake, Brandon and Geneva decide to put the past aside and to keep peace with the family. But as their mutual attraction heats up, they have to decide if history will repeat itself—or if this time, love gets a second chance.

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Buy links: 

Tif’s Website
Amazon


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Tif Marcelo is a veteran US Army nurse and holds a BS in Nursing and a Master’s in public administration. She believes and writes about the strength of families, the endurance of friendship, heartfelt romances, and is inspired daily by her own military hero husband and four children. She hosts The Stories to Love Podcast, and is the USA Today bestselling author of In a Book Club Far AwayOnce Upon a SunsetThe Key to Happily Ever After, and the Journey to the Heart series.

Follow her here:

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

2021 books


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To follow.


Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a commission. Keep in mind that I link these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission I receive from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.

SNIPPET SUNDAY: Fourth of July

4th of July 2021 captivating display

SINGAPORE FLING
Carpe Diem Chronicles 2
Epilogue

“A captivating display like no other,” Aidan recited, looking in admiration at his girlfriend. Her back to him, Maddie’s jet-black hair styled in an elegant updo shone with a thousand little stars from the lights illuminating the hotel behind them. Sleek dress in traffic-stopping red lovingly caressed her returned curves. A long string of cultured pearls from her home country worn backwards around her throat aligned with the now completely healed “Carpe Diem” spine tattoo.

Spectra, the light and music show on the bay that would culminate the embassy’s advanced Fourth of July celebration might be captivating. Madeleine Duvall, French Filipina public relations and events management expert, his woman, was absolutely dazzling. No question about it.

. . .

Cheers went up as the colors of the rainbow lit up the night sky of Singapore, along with the soaring fountains that danced in time with instrumental music, fulfilling their promise to captivate. Aidan was enchanted, all right. Not by the show, but by the woman in his arms.

Singapore Fling is Book 2 of the fun and sexy multicultural contemporary romance series Carpe Diem Chronicles.

It’s now available from your favorite etailers in eBook and paperback.

Check out other blogs participating in Snippet Sunday on Facebook.

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

174A2B4E-D0F7-40AE-AB68-88D14225234E

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:

 

IN A BOOK CLUB FAR AWAY by Tif Marcelo – Featured New Release

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IN A BOOK CLUB FAR AWAY

by

Tif Marcelo

SYNOPSIS

9781982148096From the author of Once Upon a Sunset and The Key to Happily Ever After comes a heartwarming and moving novel following three Army wives—estranged friends—who must overcome their differences when one of them is desperate for help.

Regina Castro, Adelaide Wilson-Chang, and Sophie Walden used to be best friends. As Army wives at Fort East, they bonded during their book club and soon became inseparable. But when an unimaginable betrayal happened amongst the group, the friendship abruptly ended, and they haven’t spoken since.

That’s why, eight years later, Regina and Sophie are shocked when they get a call for help from Adelaide. Adelaide’s husband is stationed abroad, and without any friends or family near her new home of Alexandria, Virginia, she has no one to help take care of her young daughter when she has to undergo emergency surgery. For the sake of an innocent child, Regina and Sophie reluctantly put their differences aside to help an old friend.

As the three women reunite, they must overcome past hurts and see if there’s any future for their friendship. Featuring Tif Marcelo’s signature “enchanting prose” (Amy E. Reichert, author of The Coincidence of Coconut Cake) and the books that brought them together in the first place, In a Book Club Far Away honors the immense power of female friendship and how love can defy time, distance, and all old wounds.

Buy links: 

Tif’s Website
Bel Canto Books
Indiebound
Amazon
B&N
Kobo
Book of the Month

REVIEW

20210406_022548605_iOSI always sound like a broken record when it comes to my reviews of Tif Marcelo’s books. It’s because I see myself in her characters. For one, there’s always a Filipina in her stories. And Filipino food, of course.

With this book in particular, I see myself in all three women–Regina, Adelaide, and Sophie. I’m a military spouse (Air Force, not Army) and a founding member of a book club initially comprised of military spouses. We set it up in a military city when our service members were all still active duty or working at the base/fort. Alongside discussions about our book of the month, we also talked about our experiences of military life. I relate closely with the strong friendship that developed among such like-minded people. Three years after I’ve left that city, I still belong to the book club and I remain great friends with many of the members. This is why this book resonated with me greatly.

However, one doesn’t have to be a military spouse to relate to this story of a fractured friendship and reconciliation. As long as you appreciate good storytelling, compelling diverse characters, great sense of place, intelligent conversations, and evocative real-life situations, you’ll enjoy this book too.

4 Four-half-stars

ABOUT TIF 

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Tif Marcelo is a veteran US Army nurse and holds a BS in Nursing and a Master’s in public administration. She believes and writes about the strength of families, the endurance of friendship, heartfelt romances, and is inspired daily by her own military hero husband and four children. She hosts The Stories to Love Podcast, and is the USA Today bestselling author of In a Book Club Far AwayOnce Upon a SunsetThe Key to Happily Ever After, and the Journey to the Heart series.

Follow her here:

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

Tif Heartwarming Fiction

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a commission. Keep in mind that I link these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission I receive from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.

VAMPIRES OF PORTLANDIA by Jason Tanamor – Book Blog Tour

VAMPIRES OF PORTLANDIA

by

Jason Tanamor

Publisher: Parliament House Press
Publication date: 29 September 2020
Genres: New Adult, Fantasy, Folklore

SYNOPSIS

When Marcella Leones relocates her family of aswang vampires from the Philippines to Portland, Oregon, she raises her grandchildren under strict rules so humans will not expose them. Her only wish is to give them a peaceful life, far away from the hunters and the Filipino government that attempted to exterminate them.

Before she dies, she passes on the power to her eldest grandchild, Percival. He vows to uphold the rules set forth by Leones, allowing his family to roam freely without notice. After all, they are aswangs.

However, when the aswang covenant is broken, the murder rate in Portland rises drastically. Who is behind the murders? And who is behind the broken covenant? Along with sensie Penelope Jane, Percival must find the truth.

It’s then they discover that there are other breeds of aswangs—werebeasts, witches, ghouls, and viscera—who have been residing in Portland for years.

Based on Filipino folklore (aswang), “Vampires of Portlandia” is a fantastical tale of different monsters coexisting in the weirdest city in America.

Purchase Links:

Amazon          B&N          Google Play          Kobo

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jason Tanamor is the critically acclaimed author of the novels “Anonymous” and “Drama Dolls.” His new novel “Vampires of Portlandia” is a NA urban fantasy about Filipino folklore – aswang. His writings have appeared in more than 250 publications. He’s interviewed personalities such as Billy Corgan (Smashing Pumpkins), Pete Rose, and Dane Cook, and has covered U.S. President Barack Obama. Tanamor currently lives and works in the Portland, Oregon area. 

Author Links:

Website     Facebook     Goodreads     Instagram     Twitter

REVIEW

This book has an intriguing premise that excited me when I first heard about it. The aswang supernatural creatures have been staples of Filipino folklore for ages and a story of them being present here in the US is an endeavor I like to support. 

In Vampires of Portlandia, a family of vampires settles in Portland after a narrow escape from being killed by an hunter and a manananggal (viscera) in the Philippines.  Ten years later, the head vampire Marcella Leones is dying and has to pass on the power to her eldest grandson Percival. A huge problem is that aside from some rules she imposed on her four grandchildren, Marcella never told them anything about their powers and responsibilities. Nothing about the existence of other aswang beings (werebeasts, witches, ghouls, viscera), nothing about the covenant that governs their behavior, and nothing about their kind being the supposed leader. So when other creatures are preying on the homeless and one of his siblings breaks the covenant, Percival is overwhelmed with no recourse other than to surrender the amulet that gives him his power and ultimately, sacrifice  his life.

I don’t know how many more revisions the book underwent after I received it, but it was severely unpolished and could have gone through more developmental and copy editing. The world building was inadequate, the device of breaking the fourth wall should have been deleted, the nouns used to refer to the same person were confusing, some of the information about the Philippines were incorrect, the plot holes were too numerous, and the characters needed more fleshing out. 

I wish I liked it better, but I can only give it three stars. I appreciate the effort to bring the Filipino culture into the American publishing mainstream. The book was easy to read with its use of simple language and it’s also quite diverse with the inclusion of multiethnic characters and LGBTQ romantic subplot. 

I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book from the publisher and Caffeine Book Tours as part of my participation in their tour. 

#AswangInPortland book blog tour conducted by Caffeine Book Tours.

SNIPPET SUNDAY: Coffee

coffee 3

SINGAPORE FLING
Carpe Diem Chronicles 2
Chapter Three

Maddie started at the sound of his amused voice. She turned in her seat to stare while Aidan made his way to her side. He’d changed into a moisture-wicking top and track pants, both black, better suited for walking than the cotton he wore earlier. Again, he looked like the spy Rini had thought he was.

And now, she was wide awake once more. This morning, she’d likened Aidan to dark chocolate.

Wrong.

He was coffee. Black, no sugar, the way she preferred it: strong, hot, addictive.

Maddie let out a sigh filled with regret. She should have jumped him when she’d arrived. In white t-shirt and gray sweatpants, jaw shadowed by a day’s growth of stubble, he had looked totally jumpable.

 

Singapore Fling is Book 2 of Carpe Diem Chronicles, a series of multicultural contemporary romance novels. The stories celebrate the rich cultures of exotic Southeast Asian islands through languages, food, and festivals.

It’s now available from your favorite etailers in eBook and paperback.

Check out other blogs participating in Snippet Sunday on Facebook.

ONCE UPON A SUNSET by Tif Marcelo – Release Day Review and Giveaway

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ONCE UPON A SUNSET

by

Tif Marcelo

SYNOPSIS

OUASbookcoverDiana Gallagher-Cary is at a tipping point. As a Washington, DC, OB/GYN at a prestigious hospital, she uses her career to distract herself from her grief over her granny’s death and her breakup from her long-term boyfriend after her free-spirited mother moves in with her. But when she makes a medical decision that disparages the hospital, she is forced to go on a short sabbatical.

Never one to wallow, Diana decides to use the break to put order in her life, when her mother, Margo, stumbles upon a box of letters from her grandfather, Antonio Cruz, to her grandmother from the 1940s. The two women always believed that Antonio died in World War II, but the letters reveal otherwise. When they learn that he lived through the war, and that they have surviving relatives in the Philippines, Diana becomes determined to connect with the family that she never knew existed, though Margo refuses to face her history. But Diana pushes on, and heads on a once-in-a-lifetime trip that challenges her identity, family history, and her idea of romantic love that could change her life forever.

Buy links: 

Tif’s Website
Indiebound
Amazon
B&N
Kobo
Simon & Schuster

 

REVIEW

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This richly-layered and immensely touching tale of family, friendships, and love is another winner from Tif Marcelo. I’m honored to have been given the opportunity to read both an early draft and an advanced copy of the final version. Both solidified my respect and admiration for the author of such engaging reads as Once Upon a Sunset.

At the forefront is the complicated relationship between super-analytical Diana and her social media-savvy mother Margo. Both are still reeling from the death of Leora, the third female lead of the book whose secrets affected her descendants’ present and future in ways neither of them imagined. Their separate quests to find answers to  individual questions about identity and purpose eventually brought them closer to each other which is as satisfying an ending as any happily-ever-afters out there. That both also found romantic love in the process makes this an all-around enjoyable read.

Set in both the US and the Philippines, Once Upon a Sunset presents aspects of Filipino-American culture that only someone who belongs could articulate. There’s plenty of delicious food, a smattering of Filipino language, and a bit of intricate family setup. And then, there’s the matter-of-fact acknowledgment of the Filipino migrants’ contributions to many US historical causes, particularly to their service during World War II through the character of Antonio Cruz.  That’s something that is seldom celebrated in publishing to the point that it adds to the sense of erasure that the minority group to which both Tif and I belong to experiences. For this solid piece of representation, I give this book top marks.

PS: I read this novel in both eBook and paperback and I have to state my preference for and recommendation of the paper version. The formatting of the letters and text messages added an extra-special dimension that enhanced my enjoyment of the story.

5 stars

ABOUT TIF 

Tif Marcelo

Tif Marcelo is a veteran army nurse and holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a Master of Public Administration. She believes and writes about the strength of families, the endurance of friendship, heartfelt romances, and is inspired daily by her own military hero husband and four children. She is also the author of The Key to Happily Ever After and the Journey to the Heart series.

Follow her here:

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

 

 

GIVEAWAY

Gallery Books is generously sponsoring a paperback giveaway of Once Upon a Sunset to one of my followers. All you have to do to enter is follow Tif Marcelo on BookBub and tell me in the comments that you’ve done so. Bonus entry if you also follow me. I’ll draw the winner on Tuesday, March 10 at 12 noon Central Time.

 

Tif Heartwarming Fiction

 

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a commission. Keep in mind that I link these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission I receive from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.

BOOK A MAGICAL TRIP

Book a Magical Trip

“A book is a magical thing that lets you travel to far-away places without ever leaving your chair.” ~ Katrina Mayer

I grew up in the Philippines and, coming from a poor family, I did not have the resources to travel out of my birth country until I was already a working adult. Thankfully, I had a bookworm for a father and a teacher for a mother who both encouraged me from a young age to read books that took me all over the world before I was able to actually travel to the locations in which they were set.

Judith Krantz’s I’ll Take Manhattan familiarized me with New York City landmarks prior to my first visit there in 1994 and gave me the confidence to set my novella New York Engagement there. I had seen the grandeur of the Sydney Opera House through Emma Darcy’s Harlequin romances set in Australia before I beheld it for the first time in 1998. Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence had me enthralled with the South of France years before I toured Europe in 1999. Imagine how often I’ve been to England from reading books by Jane Austen, the Brontë sisters, Barbara Cartland, Judith McNaught, Julie Garwood, and Johanna Lindsey. Truly, if there’s a special passport that gets stamped every time I travel in books, I would have to renew it every year.

I want to believe that this is the same for millions of readers all over the world. In reality, however, the US-centric world of Romancelandia has limited book travel options to Asia. There’s Sonali Dev’s angsty A Distant Heart which transported me to India and Hong Kong, Sherry Thomas’s epic The Hidden Blade and My Beautiful Enemy duology set in Imperial China, and Mina V. Esguerra and her Romance Class cohorts’ works which always bring me home to the Philippines.

There are a few others but I feel strongly about the need for many more books to take readers to the biggest continent on Earth without leaving their homes. That’s why, when I started writing, I’ve chosen to conjure the magic of traveling through books by setting my first series in my home region of Southeast Asia. I’d like readers of Carpe Diem Chronicles to not only visit the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand when they read Boracay Vows, Singapore Fling, Samui Heat, and Palawan Promises, but also to experience the cultures through the languages, customs, and food I feature in them.

People fall in love all around the world. The magic is in witnessing that love blossom within the pages of a book.

 

*This article was first posted at Read-A-Romance-Month https://www.readaromancemonth.com/2019/08/rarm19-maida-malby-book-a-magical-trip/

It was also featured in the All the Ups and Downs blog during the Singapore Fling Book Blog Tour with Lone Star Lit.