Sometimes, love finds us; other times, love is a trauma that hurls itself into the very fabric of our lives. My experiences at New England University explain how traumatic events and life’s unfortunate turns can become amplified and overshadow our understanding of how love and friendship should contribute to our lives.
The sages say love can blind us; however, sometimes, that love transforms our lives into radically altered states–states in which we must learn how to cope for the relationship to survive and thrive. These altered states are often difficult to manage without help from friends and family. If left to our own devices, without these critical supports, the very creative energy that once nurtured our passion has the potential to destroy the very foundation of our love and caring that was once manifest.
Small Fingernails chronicles my life as a student at college in Freedomtown and in love. It evaluates the impact of toxic relationships on our well-being and our capacity to pursue friendship. Through transgressions, fear, loss, grief, and misfortune, even my profound love could endure. Ultimately, my ethics and belief in what is right collapsed on its head.
Love needs to be free and rid of all elements that can destroy its beauty. This book signals the need to reevaluate our closest and most personal spaces, friends, and family members. The complications that interfere with our pursuit of happiness will one day be more easily overcome by people who follow their hearts and seek only the best for those they care about the most.
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Perseverance: How it All Began, is the first novel in a romance series following Cadence who is a nurse at a local hospital. The story follows her journey, as her friend Trystan (whom she has admired from afar), moves closer to her, throwing her emotions into turmoil.
Perseverance: How it all Began has an easy to follow structure. It is organized into chapters that are narrated by the two main characters, although most chapters are told from Cadence’s viewpoint. The story is simple to follow, but there are several very compelling twists and turns. Although the action is mostly centered around the budding romance of the two main characters, there are some moments of tension that really bring this novel to life.
Cadence is a well-developed character that comes across as authentic and believable. A nurse at a local hospital, the story focuses on her anguish in trying to choose between two men. Readers follow her emotional turmoil, fears, and dreams. Her character develops and deepens over the course of the novel, as she finds herself falling in love with Blake whilst still pining for Trystan, a friend who she’d fallen in love with but never admitted her feelings to him or anyone else.
The dialogue throughout the novel felt grounded and the characters motivations throughout the story were believable, both of these things combine to make a novel that is easy to be engrossed with. Cadence’s long-time friend Trystan is also a main character in the novel. We gain less of an insight into his thoughts, but he’s still an intriguing character without feeling completely original. He has a manly job, is intensely handsome, self-confident, and their relationship starts with him showing Cadence little, if any, romantic attention. However, once another man is in the picture his interest soon increases! These two characters are supported by numerous smaller characters, such as Cadence’s boyfriend, and their respective friends and colleagues. These characters add welcomed depth and interest to the story.
This novel is firmly focused on the romance between Cadence and Trystan and the descriptive writing focuses on the main characters and their physical descriptions, rather than building out the setting and world.
Perseverance: How it All Began is an impassioned romance novel that will appeal to readers looking for an easy to follow but stirring story that focuses on the relationships between people.
Pages: 432 | ASIN: B07BF4MM46
Decanted follows a vivacious young woman as she learns making wine and the perils of love. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?
My daughter, the delightful and endlessly funny Samantha Sheehan, who created and produces Poe Wines Pinot Noir, Ultraviolet Cabernet, and a 95 point organic vermouth under the MOMMENPOP label is my total inspiration for Decanted. Like the novel’s heroine Samantha Goodyear, my daughter quit her job at a big five accounting firm to go to France to learn everything she could about making wine. Like the main character in Decanted, she then moved to Napa and took a bookkeeping job at a winery before launching her own wine brand that’s sold across the US and in many countries around the world.
Samantha is a compelling character that was fun to follow. What were some driving ideals behind her character development?
I wanted to draw my main character as a young woman who, though she’s a total product of modern times, has a tremendous love and respect for those who came before her. Samantha also has a tremendous work ethic, and never veers from her quest to achieve her dreams.
Wine making and wine culture were intriguing parts of this novel. Why was this an important aspect for you to include in the story?
Many people would like to understand more about wine culture and the winemaking process but don’t know where to begin. My goal in writing the book was to seamlessly give readers a fun wine education and illustrate what separates a great wine that reflects what nature intended from a tricked up brand with ingredients and flavors added by the big corporate wineries to sell the most bottles possible.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
My next book is my novel Fore Play, a comedy set at a Los Angeles country club that will be available this coming summer.
From author Linda Sheehan, who’s part of a Napa wine dynasty, comes a story of grapes, wine, first crushes, and juicy redemption. Dreading the desk job that awaits her after high school, eighteen- year-old Vivian Goodyear takes off for pre- World War ll Paris, where she supports herself as an artist’s model.
Flash forward to modern day Manhattan where, inspired by Vivian’s courage, her grand-niece Samantha leaves her pressure cooker career to work the grape harvest in France. There, between picking grapes in the vineyard and crushing them in the cellar, she gets lessons in the art of making wine and in the art of making love. But when her world is turned upside down, a link from Aunt Vivian’s past could right it in a tale of being on top, sinking to the bottom, and coming up for glorious air.
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Stephanie Xavier hasn’t wanted for anything her entire life. She is privileged, spoiled, and has everything at her disposal. Her family’s wealth is well-known, and she has never had to hold a job or support herself. As perfect as her life seems, Stephanie is in need of much more. She has spent the better part of teens and young adulthood moving through meaningless short-lived relationships and has never known true love. The friendships she has made can hardly be called true. In fact, the only two women who still manage to spend time with her are as emotionally bankrupt as she is. When she makes up her mind to change her life, will the ones she wants to take with her be ready and willing?
Changing the Rules, the second book in the Sterling Wood series, by Charlene Johnson, chronicles the tempestuous life of Stephanie Xavier and her quest for a meaningful and loving relationship. After spending years bouncing from one man to the next in an effort to compete in a game based on sexual conquests, Stephanie realizes she wants love and not physical attention. Her problem is the man she wants, Craig, has been burned and is sure he can never love again–especially someone like Stephanie. He has heard the stories about her sex club and he knows she is the last person to commit. Their relationship seems doomed from the beginning. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for Stephanie–as privileged as she is, she is a truly sad character.
Romance fans will revel in Johnson’s work. From cover to cover, the main characters are embroiled in one gratuitous sex scene after another. Buried within the explicit scenes is a storyline that doesn’t seem to get enough attention. The prologue set me up with some high expectations for the plot, but this was less a thriller and more of a romance. This is a plot-driven romantic suspense novel, with intense sex scenes, but I really wanted to see much more develop between Stephanie and several of the other characters.
I highly recommend Changing the Rules to any romance fan. With an element of mystery to the plot, I can see romance fans being intrigued with Stephanie’s storyline, her turbulent life, and the constant conflict she faces with Craig–she is a memorable character and definitely leaves her mark on readers.
Pages: 296 | ASIN: B08R81BYRT
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Epic love laced with epic pain…
Loving him was my secret. Mine alone. I never let anyone come remotely close to accessing that part of my heart. Not even myself, except on rare occasions. Trystan was simultaneously the source of my greatest love and the source of my greatest heartache.
He never knew how I felt about him. I’d never told him how deeply and profoundly in love with him I was…and still am. He had always considered me a friend so that was the position in his life that I desperately struggled to maintain. I couldn’t let him know, but I also couldn’t let him go.
I tried to put Trystan in my past. To some degree, I was able to achieve just that. He lived so far away and only came back to visit on occasion. But every time he returned, it was like reigniting a smoldering inferno within me.
Then I met Blake. Arguably the most eligible man in Hollywood. Wait, did I say Hollywood? I meant the world. He is the epitome of what every female dreams about.
Falling in love with Blake was seamless. Trystan was rarely around and after spending years feeling like I was suffocating, being with Blake was like breathing my first breath of fresh air. It was a much needed reprieve for a wounded and tattered heart like mine.
Then an ordinary trip leads to extraordinary events. Extreme circumstances usher in changes in me and in my life that I could never have dreamed were possible. And a love I thought was beyond my reach is suddenly right within my grasp.
Past love collides with future love and there is nothing I can do to escape either.
Follow Cadence as she begins her travel into the unknown.
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Carried Away follows the life, love, and friendships of a young woman reliving a vivid memory of her last high school year. What was the inspiration for the setup to this riveting novel?
Leila’s journey was inspired by events and people in my own past. Although made fictional, it really was a story written straight from my memory and heart. I wanted to write a story that was relatable and realistic, and I felt that I accomplished that with Carried Away. Many of the experiences in the book are reflective of actual happenings in my life, like the prom draw that my high school has held for over 100 years.
Leila is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some sources that informed her character development?
Like I said before, Leila and her journey were inspired by my own past. Leila, like myself, grew up right before the social media explosion, and I feel like it was such an incredible time to grow up. I think most 90s and early 2000s kids will be able to find something of themselves in Leila. I felt that Leila displayed emotions, insecurities, and desires that were very reflective of the times.
What are some themes that you wanted to explore in this book?
I wanted to write a story that was real. I’m a teacher, and I have many former students who are now in high school who love to read. I really wanted to write something realistic for them. I felt that Carried Away showed the fragility, and resiliency, of friendships in high school, the incredible natural high feeling that is only felt when you have your first real love, and the realization that life moves on, and can be amazing, after a breakup.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’m currently finishing up the sequel to Carried Away, called Love Always. It picks up Leila and Leo’s story a few months after Carried Away ends (before the epilogue). It should be available in the spring of 2021. Once I’m done, I will be moving on from Leila’s story to something completely new.
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Skylar Shoar’s The Power of Us is utterly romantic. It follows the love story of Harly, a young billionaire and Cassidy, a college freshman. Although they come from entirely different worlds, they are drawn to each other from the first day they meet, their lives becoming deeply intertwined.
Naturally, they face many challenges, some instigated by family and others by foes. But they seem to be tenacious, at least when it comes to their love. However, something much greater than people’s opinions and reactions eventually threatens to wreak havoc on their union.
If there is one thing that makes this story so relatable, it has to be its main characters. Harly and Cassidy are so well developed, so well fleshed out that you would be forgiven for believing you know them personally. By writing the story from each of their perspectives, the author brings us into their inner domain, helping us understand why they act the way they do.
Apart from their love for each other, we also get a glimpse of how their childhoods informed the current personalities and thought processes. Moreover, we encounter powerful themes like loyalty, betrayal, revenge, and the need for belonging; all things that readers can identify with. But if I was to pick one thing that I loved most about this book, it would have to be its easy-to-read language. Its sentences are simple and clear, leaving little to the imagination.
While I enjoyed this story, I would have loved a more dramatic twist at the end, and a few more interesting facets that would make the story more unique in the romance genre and keep things from being predictable. The sex scenes, while steamy, reinstated the powerful man- innocent woman dynamic where I would have loved a unique twist.
The Power of Us is perfect for a mature audience interested in new adult romance. Readers looking for a dramatic love story with riveting scenes of love and violence will find plenty to enjoy in Skylar Shoar’s provocative novel.
Pages: 452 | ASIN: B08LQQ6CMR
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It’s the summer before senior year and Leila is excited to start this new phase of her life, preparing for adulthood, alongside her best friend Trin, both of them will find that love and friendship can become enemies very quickly. She’ll have to navigate the ups and downs of life and what originally started as a way to mend her broken heart proves to be a challenge to her loyalty. She’ll have to make polarizing decisions that could shake her world up.
Carried Away by A.E Brouhard is a coming of age story that shows us an intriguing life through the eyes of the main character. Carried Away is a riveting teen drama, where we are introduced to the life of Leila, following her in her daily routines, learning about her desires and getting a good glimpse into her social life. Brouhard does a fantastic job of humanizing the characters, making them each relatable and authentic. While the story may feel monotonous at times, it picks ups with the introduction of new characters and their dynamics with the protagonist livens things up. Leo, for example, we meet him very deep into the story and he shifts the narrative and brings tension between the two main characters that has to be resolved or else they’ll face consequences.
The narrative felt appropriate for a young adult audience, with simple words and a consistent delivery of dramatic events makes the pacing feel quick and makes it hard to put the book down. We are also let into Leila’s inner monologue which adds depth to her character.
Carried Away is a contemporary drama that will appeal to readers looking for a romance story that’s grounded in reality but still has passionate and believable characters. Author A.E Brouhard has written an entertaining romance novel that explores life, love, and friendship.
Pages: 232 | ASIN: B0873VHYHP
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