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Parts of a Whole: A Pit Bull Love Story

On the surface, Kerry seems to have it all together, a successful photography business, a happy home with her mother, and a son that she adores. In reality, though, she struggles, and mightily. Each day is its own challenge due in no small part to her severe dyslexia and lingering emotional scars from her abusive marriage. At least she finds comfort in the fact that her son, himself struggling with autism, seems to be doing well with his unofficial therapy dog, Angel, and the routine that they all share. That is until Kerry’s mom invites a tenant to live in their guest home. With Noah’s arrival, life suddenly becomes much more complicated, albeit also more interesting.

Described as a “pit bull love story,” Parts of a Whole by Janet Franks Little is a charming story that combines various pieces of everyday life in a way that is both relatable and engaging. Kerry spends her days in a routine that accommodates her son and fulfills her creative vision as a freelance photographer. Living with her disability makes a routine as vitally necessary as her son’s dog Angel, the adopted pit bull that seems to share a bond with the boy. The story repeatedly returns to the bonds people form with their pets, stressing how they become full-fledged family members. 

Despite exploring a variety of heavy subjects such as emotional and physical abuse, PTSD, and complicated family relationships, the author does a great job of keeping the book from ever feeling dark and emotionally exhausting. Kerry’s relationship with her mother, India, is a beautiful representation of the mother / daughter bond that sustains so many young women in their lives. While Noah’s character comes off as stiff and stereotypical, he still has enough depth to create interest. 

Healing is a huge theme in Parts of a Whole, as Kerry slowly begins to realize that she is more than just a part and accepts that she isn’t defined by her disability. As she regains the confidence her ex-husband stole from her, she finds the courage to do and say more of what she actually wants and sees that growth in her son at the same time. All in all, it’s a heartwarming story that never suffers from its own weight.

It took no time at all to get completely invested in Kerry’s life, and with each new secret she revealed, the feeling of knowing her personally only increased. There were parts that I felt were convenient and picture-perfect, but sometimes that’s exactly what you need. Parts of a Whole: A Pit Bull Love Story is a stirring and heartfelt romance novel that will leave you feeling good about life.

Pages: 332 | ASIN : B09Z7DBG7W

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From Where I Sit

Written by Ray Lecara Jr, From Where I Sit is a collection of short stories. Easy to read and engaging, there are five stories to enjoy. Beginning with Scent of Juniper, an exciting, short-action thriller detailing a world war two agent’s mission to locate and acquire a rare Faberge egg. The story plunges straight into the middle of the action as assassins launch an attack. With a fast pace, it is instantly absorbing and finishes on a cliffhanger, leaving me keen to read on and find out what happens next.  

A Life Lost Living is the following short story in the collection. I particularly enjoyed this one. The main character was thoughtfully crafted. It details the friendship between a young bartender and an elderly veteran who drinks in his establishment. Through conversations, the elderly man reveals the story of his life, his sorrows, his bitterness, and the effects of war on his life. He is alone, estranged from his family, with his wife and parents long dead. The complexity of the father/child relationship is examined in this story, as is the ever-present question of the point of living, especially when the burdens and regrets weigh heavily in older age. The ending is original and poignant. It is an emotional piece of writing with beautiful descriptions of the New England winter and the connections to land, memory, and childhood.  

Goldie, the next story, showcases man’s love for their most loyal companion, the dog. A touching tale of loss and how people can move forward even when they think they won’t. One Night In Bangkok is a super short story featuring another canine companion protecting their chosen human in a funny set of events.  

The final story in the collection Old Lang Syne features two lovers reconnecting after years apart when they accidentally bump into each other on new years eve. Catching up on how their lives unfolded after they split, they are able to rehash the events that led to their break up. This is an interesting look at how life evolves and changes as people progress. In addition, it looks at the difficulties people face with mental health struggles and how they can overcome them. 

I really enjoyed reading the short stories. They were all well-written, and the characters were easy to engage with. I had no problem becoming invested in any of the characters or the stories. Each story examined different areas of the human condition and the emotional aspects of life. I liked the fact you can dip in and quickly read each story. The premise of each individual story was exciting and original. The characters were convincing, and the quality of the writing was good. Each story flowed nicely, and the dialogue was well-crafted and easy to read. 

Pages: 131 | ASIN : B0B8DKJV1Y

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Cause For Elimination

Cause For Elimination by Marla A. White tells the story of Emily Conners, a horse lover. Emily’s boss, Pamela Yates, has been viciously murdered, and Emily is determined to prove it. Justin Butler is a detective that happens to be handsome and wealthy. He wants to solve the Pamela Yates case, but things aren’t easy, and his interest in Emily isn’t helping.

The characters in the story are wonderfully written and have the reader questioning their motives and wondering just what they might do next. Emily’s character has depth and an engaging storyline that has you wondering about the things people get up to when you are not looking. The secondary characters are superb. Lottie, Emily’s best friend, easily makes the story more light and fun. Dennis, Justin’s colleague, and friend is the perfect voice of reason and usually brings Justin to his senses. The characters provide enough entertainment to keep you turning the pages.

The story’s setting is set in such a way that it’s a stunning backdrop for mystery and adventure. Emily’s love for horses brings a lovely element to the story. Horse lovers will cheer and gasp at the interesting way horses are woven into the story. Those new to all things horses might find themselves curious about these magnificent animals. The story also has another case, besides Pamela Yates’s murder, that brings friction and mayhem, which is interesting and keeps the reader glued to the story. Marla A. White has created a story that explores the lengths people will go to hide things. She’s written a tale many readers will enjoy and remember after closing the book.

Cause for Elimination by Marla A. White is a wonderful and entertaining read and perfect for those who love a riveting murder mystery with a dash of romance.

Pages: 323 | ASIN : B0B6SZ8Q7C

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Never Say Never

Eve Riley Author Interview

The Refusal follows a young entrepreneur that owns her own security firm as she investigates the source of a tech billionaire’s security problems and in the process finds romance. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

When I write, I always start with the characters, and they pop up in my head all the time, often fully formed. The Refusal is the start of a bigger series, and the idea for the series started with Fabian, a drug-taking, experiment-loving hacker, whose life is constantly running out of control. Fabian is the focus of book 2. In The Refusal, Jo is initially pitted against and operates in contrast to Fabian, and it was more interesting that her character would contrast with his.

A long time ago I was a young entrepreneur, and I wanted this book to reflect the reality of running your own business: Specifically how hard it is and how much support you need to do it, the insecurity and worry when you start out, when you don’t think you are going to make it, when you have to pay everyone’s salary all the while looking at other people who seem to have it all sorted. You spend time thinking about success and how that will never be you. I wanted Jo to mirror all this, but she still needed to have a certain confidence and be smart, she wouldn’t have started her own business otherwise. Not forgetting of course, that she has things in common with Janus: She’s the girl geek who says the wrong things at the wrong time and sweats about it.

I also wanted to do something different in romance. Haven’t we had enough of cowboys and motorcycle clubs yet? There are other avenues to explore, other niches that need to be filled. Not to mention of course, that I’d worked alongside techies for many years and felt I knew the industry and what they were like: a lot of lovely guys!

Janus turns out to be more than just a billionaire playboy. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Janus developed as another contrast to Fabian: He is the sorted ambitious friend to Fabian’s chaos (we can all identify with the organized friend I think!). Techie people can be very dorky and interested in tech, and Janus had to reflect that in order for his success to be credible: It wasn’t likely that he’d be the smooth player and flipping that on its head was a lot of fun. A lot of romance books portray billionaires as if they swan around in jets and cars and beautiful apartments chasing women, never worrying about money or companies or making a lot of difficult decisions to make under pressure. These books have never made sense to me. There’s a huge burden in running a company, competitors attack you, and things fail all the time: you are always ducking and diving to avoid collapse. I wanted Janus to reflect that. The fact that he is also a bit of a boy, flattered by models who want to take him to red carpet events and bowled over by a woman he likes, came out in the writing process and it felt right. He’s the nerdy boy made good who still can’t believe anyone wants to talk to him.

What themes were important for you to explore in this book?

I suspect I will never write about a woman who doesn’t hold her own. I wanted the book to be a romance but also be realistic and have authenticity. There’s a lot of envy of other people’s lives now, often fueled by social media, and I wanted to show some nuance there, the pointlessness of that, that it’s never as simple as saying someone is a “billionaire” and therefore their life is amazing. I also wanted to reflect on women’s roles now: women work, they make their own money, and they have senior roles alongside men. Some day I might write an alpha male series (never say never) but I suspect I’d find it hard, and I also think I might reverse the roles! My guys are supportive, fun, kind, generous, and INTERESTING: Everything you’d want in a real boyfriend. And guys like this exist, make great boyfriends and husbands and I wish more romances exist that celebrate how amazing these kinds of men are, not some ridiculous “strongman” or some alphahole who you’d never date in real life (unless you had a hole in your head). Where are the role models for lovely supportive men – who look after their women by lifting THEM up?

What is the next book in the Techboys series that you are working on and when will it be available?

Next up are Fabian and Kate. And I couldn’t be more excited – Fabian is a bad-boy hacker and has been a joy ever since he appeared in my brain fully formed with all his erratic behavior, drug taking and a past filled with turmoil. Book Two will be out in the next few months.

Author Links: Goodreads | Instagram | Facebook | Website

Quiet boyfriends. An organised life. It’s all about to be upended.

Driven, workaholic Janus Phillips has glamorous tastes. Tech billionaire, red carpet events, a new model girlfriend every two months. But it’s all about to come crashing down around his ears if he can’t trace the source of a mysterious hack into his company.

Jo Williams has a temper that matches her hair, and she’s not about to let some playboy sleazebag taint her struggling tech business with his terrible reputation. When she runs into him in a lift, she impetuously pretends not to know who he is, and he ups the game by offering her a ton of cash to save his company.

Can Jo set aside her prejudices, grab the opportunity and answer one, vital, question: Is she trapped in this game with no way out?

HOW OBSESSED CAN YOU GET WITH A NEW ROMANCE SERIES?

Love Helps Them Heal

Patricia Leavy Author Interview

Celestial Bodies is the romantic saga of two people who are used to putting others first. When they meet, they discover more about themselves than they could imagine. What was the inspiration for this epic love story collection?

There’s a saying that ‘hurt people hurt people.’ However, sometimes that isn’t the case. Sometimes people in deep pain are able to love others in extraordinary ways without widening the circle of trauma. That’s what Tess and Jack’s love story shows us. These are two innately good people who have suffered trauma and grief. They have given tirelessly to others, but they’ve been unable to find personal happiness until they meet each other. At the core, it’s a story about people with visible and invisible wounds and how love helps them heal. Their love is so strong that I hope it runs off the pages and lives inside readers too. It has certainly done that for me.

What were some of the emotional and moral guidelines you followed when developing your characters?

These are genuinely good people trying to do good in the world. I tried to show this with how they treat others. There’s a gentleness or grace with which the primary characters—friends, lovers, chosen family—treat one another. I was also mindful that these characters have suffered various traumas in their lives and thus are always engaged in the lifelong healing process. So, there’s a balance with their strength and vulnerability, with how they treat others and with how they must learn to treat themselves.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

Each novel in the collection explores love and another theme: healing, doubt, intimacy, trust, commitment, and faith. Together, it is an exploration of love in all its forms and textures. Some people have called the collection a love letter to love. Others have called it a prayer.

Were you able to achieve everything you wanted with the characters in the novel collection?

Originally, I had only intended to write one novel, Shooting Stars, which itself came to me in a burst. When I was done, I felt like there was so much more to explore with the characters, so Twinkle followed, then Constellations, Supernova, North Star, and finally, Stardust. So as a whole, in Celestial Bodies I was able to take the characters on quite a journey and where they end is very far from where they begin. That said, I love, love, love these characters so much and there’s always more to tell, so who knows, maybe someday I’ll return to them.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Celestial Bodies is a series of six novels that follow the epic romance of Tess and Jack: Shooting StarsTwinkleConstellationsSupernovaNorth Star, and Stardust. An exploration of the power of love, each novel focuses on love at the intersection of another topic: healing, doubt, intimacy, trust, commitment, and faith. While external threats occur in each book, this is ultimately a story about internal threats—the audio playing in our own heads.

Tess Lee is a world-famous novelist. Her inspirational books explore people’s innermost struggles and the human need to believe that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Despite her extraordinary success, she’s been unable to find happiness in her personal life. Jack Miller is a federal agent who specializes in counterterrorism. After spending decades immersed in a violent world, a residue remains. He’s dedicated everything to his job, leaving nothing for himself. The night Tess and Jack meet, their connection is palpable. She examines the scars on his body and says, “I’ve never seen anyone whose outsides match my insides.” The two embark on a beautiful love story that asks the questions: What happens when people truly see each other? Can unconditional love change the way we see ourselves? Their friends are along for the ride: Omar, Tess’s sarcastic best friend who calls her Butterfly; Joe, Jack’s friend from the Bureau who understands the sacrifices he’s made; and Bobby and Gina, Jack’s younger friends who never fail to lighten the mood. Along the way, others join their journey: the female president of the United States, with whom Tess bakes cookies and talks politics; the Millers, Jack’s childhood family; and many others. Celestial Bodies is about walking through our past traumas, moving from darkness to light, learning to live in color, and the ways in which love—from lovers, friends, or the art we experience—can heal us. Written as unfolding action, this collection moves fluidly between melancholy, humor, and joy. It can be read for pleasure or selected for book clubs.

Celestial Bodies

Celestial Bodies is a beautifully written collection of six novels following the two main characters, Tess and Jack, and their love for each other. Written by Patricia Leavy, she details different aspects of their relationship with the different novels in the series. Together they must face different struggles: healing, doubt, intimacy, trust, commitment, and faith. These stories are more about internal dialogue that stresses the relationship rather than an external force that no one can control. Tess and Jack both have trouble putting their careers aside and finding their own happiness. However, this internal struggle leads them to an understanding and bond. Between the two characters, this understanding blossoms into an epic love story.

This captivating collection of novels combined into one book creates many parallels between the lives of Jack and Tess. Their similarities in life allow their love to come across as believable and likable. Leavy is extremely good at starting her story off strong and hooking readers in from the opening pages. Her ability to have the characters and their interactions feel authentic gives readers a feeling like they are part of the story.

When Jack and Tess first meet in the bar, it demonstrates much about the characters. It shows that Jack is protective and chivalrous while Tess is entirely able to handle herself but appreciates the gesture. Both characters have a painful past, making their stories interweave and mirror each other perfectly. When the two get intimate with each other and Tess first sees Jack’s scars, she is not taken aback or disgusted. She is instead intrigued and tells him something she hasn’t told anyone else. Leavy is showing that both characters are comfortable with being vulnerable with each other despite having just met and, on the surface, having little in common.

Leavy is also very good at explaining little metaphors and simple meanings that are believable to what people would say in real life. For example, Omar calling Tess a butterfly and her not knowing or asking what it means is credible. When the meaning is relieved, it adds depth to the secondary characters, making their presence in the storyline essential, even if they are not the main focus.

Celestial Bodies is an anthology of six contemporary romance novels that tell the love story of Tess and Jack. Each story builds upon the last, giving readers a cohesive and complete saga that focuses more on emotional bonds and self-improvement than physical intimacy and surface-level emotions.

Pages: 802 | ASIN : B09WZGRGML

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Grayality

The LGBTQ+ community has become more mainstream and visible than ever, but for those who live in small or rural towns, they may still struggle. Pate Boone, a young transman in his 20s, knows this all too well. When he moves to the tiny rural town of Cloverleaf with his best friend Oakley Ogden, he does not expect much. Neither does Oakley to be honest, but to their surprise, both end up finding love with mixed results.

Grayality by Carey PW is a raw look at what not only transgender people and those questioning their sexuality/identity go through on their road to acceptance. At times, Pate and Oakley’s story can get downright uncomfortable. Homophobic slurs and behaviors are thrown about in a way you would expect from a conservative and judgemental community. However, it does the job of painting the environment these friends are trying to navigate and survive in. Despite this, they still put their heart out there, trying to look for love. For queer kids, more is at stake than just their hearts.

No character is a hundred percent perfect. Pate and Oakley, themselves have their own flaws. The author creates these three-dimensional characters that you can’t help but root for. Some villains or bullies might appear two-dimensional, but any queer kid living in a small town will tell you how persuasive homophobia can be. This is yet another thing Carey PW gets perfectly in this book. He truly holds nothing back in his depiction of these homophobic townies (such as Bullet) who are fueled by their hatred.

I am giving Grayality written by Carey PW 5 out of 5 stars for its authentic portrayal of what it is like to be on the LGBT spectrum and the harassment that can be directed towards them. This might be a difficult read. Yet, this makes it such a memorable one! It holds no punches and has readers on edge till the end.

Pages: 297 | ASIN : B0B1F4TJJX

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Then Came July 

Then Came July, by Cornelia Allen, explores many different concepts such as politics, alcoholism, ageism, and more. I love how each slightly controversial topic is examined from both sides, for and against.

We first start the story with Police Captain Rick Mora. Rick is forty-five, hardheaded, intimidating, and almost scary in a sense. Rick is investigating a shooting that resulted in the death of a little girl. There are small glimpses of his kind heart, but only small glimpses early in the story. He tries to maintain a rugged exterior. Then, we meet July. Dr. July Sullivan is thirty-one years old. She works at a clinic that used to perform abortions in the past, but now they do not. She is a dermatologist that volunteers at the clinic. Still, there are protestors outside the clinic that try to prevent anyone from entering, harassing them every chance they get, mirroring real life. Rick and July’s paths cross when the clinic she works at is bombed, and Rick must protect July from the bomber.

The author does a great job of getting you hooked on the story right from the start. We follow Rick as he tries to protect July, but he also finds her annoying and charming, and I found their relationship to be intriguing. Allen’s writing immerses the reader into the story, and it seems you are watching a movie waiting for something terrible to happen. Rick’s character is one that you love to hate because he has a hard exterior, and his stubbornness is frustrating, but throughout the story, we see his character develop. July is intelligent but also hostile, and I don’t blame her because of what she has experienced in her past. I think many readers will find her character to be relatable.

I enjoyed getting bits of Rick’s and July’s thoughts as this made for an entertaining read, and I could get to know them better. The point of view changes from July to Rick allowing us to get a better sense of the way they think and their motives. The chapter with the bombing is where Allen’s writing shines. Her description of the scene and the immediate tension that arises from everyone being scared and trying to leave the building kept me glued to the pages.

Then Came July is a charming, witty, and action-packed romantic suspense novel that will have you wanting more. I highly recommend this book to those who are looking for a thrilling read with a dash of romance. I look forward to more books from this author.

Pages: 281 | ASIN : B0B4BDFF9T

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