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Delightful and Endlessly Funny

Linda Sheehan Author Interview

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.

Author Links: Facebook | Website

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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.

Changing the Rules

Changing the Rules (The Sterling Woods Series Book 2) by [Charlene Johnson]

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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Forging Ahead and Letting Go

Crystal Z. Lee
Crystal Z. Lee Author Interview

Love and Other Moods follows a young woman who has to start life over in a foreign country where she learns a lot more about life than she expected. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

Much like Naomi, I left the U.S. in my early twenties and moved to China, a country I had never stepped foot in. The move was initiated by a job, but later was motivated by romance. Both would go up in smoke after a short while. Although the novel is very much fictional, there are some elements that are inspired by real-life events.

Naomi is an intriguing and well-developed character. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

We meet Naomi when she is in her early twenties, having just left New York and is embarking on a new chapter of her life in an entirely foreign country. But the adventure is off to a rocky start when things don’t pan out as planned.

I think personal growth happens most often when we’re thrown out of our comfort zones and into unchartered waters. That’s what happens to Naomi. At the same time she’s adapting to her new environment, issues from her past continue to confront and haunt her. She struggles with juggling the balance between forging ahead and letting go of regrets. I think that’s something most of us can relate to.

The story explores the city of Shanghai as well as the different people and relationships Naomi has. Was there anything you pulled from your own life and put into the story?

Yes. This is very much an “own voices” story. After I moved to Shanghai, my grandfather revealed that his father had once lived in Shanghai as well, during the World War Two era. I myself had lived in China for nearly a decade, and had worked on projects for the 2007 Special Olympics in Shanghai, the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and the 2010 Shanghai World Expo.

Shanghai is one of the most fascinating cities I’ve ever been to, and I’ve traveled to over thirty countries. There are contrasts abound in every corner—east and west, old versus new, modern meets tradition. Every day I was meeting somebody interesting, from all walks of life, all corners of the globe. There was endless inspiration from the streets of Shanghai, from its inhabitants, architecture, cuisine, history, etc.

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

My next book is a children’s book, and will be published sometime in 2021. My kids are very excited about this!

Author Links: GoodReads | Instagram | Amazon

Love and Other Moods is a coming-of-age story set in contemporary China, about falling in love, learning to adult, finding strength, and discovering one’s place in the world.

Naomi Kita-Fan uproots her life from New York to China when her fiancé’s company transfers him to Shanghai. After a disastrous turn of events, Naomi finds herself with no job, no boyfriend, and nowhere to live in a foreign country.

Amidst the backdrop of Shanghai welcoming millions of workers and visitors to the 2010 World Expo, we meet a tapestry of characters through Naomi: Joss Kong, a Shanghai socialite who leads an enviable life, but must harbor the secrets of her husband, Tay Kai Tang. Logan Hayden, a womanizing restaurateur looking for love in all the wrong places. Pan Jinsung and Ouyang Zhangjie, a silver-aged couple struggling with adapting to the ever-changing faces of their city. Dante Ouyang, who had just returned to China after spending years overseas, must choose between being filial and being in love. All their dreams and aspirations interweave within the sprawling web of Shanghai.

This multilayered novel explores a kaleidoscope of shifting relationships——familial friction, amorous entanglements, volatile friendships——in one of the most dynamic metropolises of the twenty-first century.

Inspired By My Own Past

A E Brouhard
A. E. Brouhard Author Interview

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.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Instagram

The memory of your first love never fades away. At least, that’s what 28-year-old Leila Thomas discovers as she’s sitting in her driveway and hears a familiar song come on the radio, a song that triggers the most detailed memory of her last year of high school, the joy and the pain. The whole story playing like a movie in her mind. First loves. Fractured friendships. The realization that it is okay to remember.

The Power of Us

The Power of Us (Us Duology Book 1) by [Skylar Shoar]

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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Carried Away

Carried Away by [A. E. Brouhard]

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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Follow My Lead

Follow My Lead by [Hannah Blowers]

Follow My Lead by Hannah Blowers is a romance novel featuring a steamy love triangle in the small coastal town of Waterville, Massachusetts. Elisa Roberts is a professional ballet dancer returning to her hometown from New York after sustaining a life changing injury that impedes her from continuing her dancing career. Her otherwise peaceful and nostalgic return gets complicated when she runs into her childhood crush, Christian, who has only ever seen her as his cousin’s best friend; something Elisa is desperate to change. When she runs into sexy gym owner Derrick, who just so happens to be secretly in love with her best friend, they form a fake relationship to inspire jealousy in their respective crushes. What she doesn’t expect is to actually catch feelings for the arrogant yet sweet Derrick who pushes her to the limit and equals her level of humor and intellect. Both of them share a special connection that they’ll soon have to admit. Sometimes what we really want is closer than we think.

I think that Follow My Lead is a charming book. This is something that I think many people will call a comfort read. The plot is simple and easy to follow as it consists of only the love triangle between Elisa, Christian, and Derrick. Elisa is a great character, funny and witty when need be but relatable in most aspects. She is just like any other girl looking for love. Though the story is filled with fun descriptions and humorous banter between the characters, the plot itself is a bit reminiscent of other new adult romance novels, or the heartfelt loves stories found on the Hallmark channel.

Overall, Follow My Lead is light and fun to read, despite the predictability of the story. The characters are well developed and distinguishable in their personalities. While I would have appreciated one or two good twists, the light humor and fluid storyline makes this book perfect for a beach read. This is a book that will easily be enjoyed by fans of contemporary romance stories, and is perfect if your looking for a book that will leave you smiling.

Pages: 265 | ASIN: B08M7KBH34

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Everyone Had Tragedy

Zachary Ryan Author Interview
Zachary Ryan Author Interview

Cutthroat Cheerleader follows a bully who dies and is given the chance to look back at how her life affected the people around her. How long did you have the idea for this novel and what made you decide to start writing?

I had the idea kind of come forward while I was writing High School Queens. I have really loved this campy caddy novels, but I really wanted to add murder to it. With covid happening, I’ve had a bunch of time to write. I just really didn’t want to write a depressing novel while our world is a huge dumpster fire right now.

What were some ideas that informed Madison’s revelations throughout the story?

I think her seeing everyone’s life behind closed doors. What I always add to my novels is the theme, don’t judge a book by its cover. I feel like we all have our own struggles, and we don’t really know what someone’s going through unless we look behind all the closed doors. She realized everyone had tragedy, and I hurt a lot of people along the way. She made Mark be two different guys, and she made Chad be the stereotypical jock. These two were unhappy because they were playing the same game book as Madison to survive high school.

What scene from the book was the most challenging for you to write?

I think for me it was the plot twist when you realized one of the characters wasn’t crazy, and it had to be when the murderer was revealed. I think both I wanted to live up to the hype that I created in the novel.

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

I’m working on a book called Playlist. I have wanted to write this novel for honestly over ten years. It’s a love story between two characters and my love for my music. It should be out in the summer. I’m just having too much fun with Cutthroat that I’m not ready to publish just yet another novel.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook

In the sleepy town of Townsend, Washington, there was an act so gruesome that no one would ever be the same. What heinous crime do I speak of? Skylar Torres thinking she could pull off a crop top with that pudgy body of hers. Oh, did you think I was going to say my murder. Well, I thought it was more sensational than anything else, but the real scandal was who killed me and why.

You should already know my name since it was on everyone’s lips once they found me with my throat ripped out. People thought they should have only feared me, but the Liberty Lion’s cheer squad knew one thing, hunt or be hunted.

No one’s hands were truly clean from all the dirt and blood on them. Be safe, watch your back and always remember, Happy Hunting.

Love
Madison Taylor
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