“I’m not sure, but judging by our choices in literature, I think this makes us polar opposites.”
Karly Matthews has no idea how much truth there is to her statement after she first encounters Thayne Harper at a networking event: She is a medium, struggling to keep her store open after making enemies with a powerful executive set on destroying her career after Karly helps his wife leave him; Thayne is a skeptic, the descendant of a wealthy family in the hotel industry. Both, however, share a sizzling physical attraction for each other, as well as dark secrets that make it impossible for them to get close to anyone. Will Karly be able to keep her heart safe when she is hired to chase away a spirit haunting the bed and breakfast that Thayne is opening, especially when her job forces her to live under the same roof as him?
The plot of Haunted, written by Shari Nichols, is driven by a few different story lines. There, of course, is the romantic and professional tension between Karly and Thayne, and with that, many heated love scenes unfold that are sure to make one’s toes curl. Then there are the insecurities that Karly faces, having been in a serious relationship that ended so badly that she is quick to react jealously and expect the worst from men, especially Thayne, who is naturally charismatic and has had a reputation for courting many women. As difficult as it is for Karly to trust Thayne, he also cannot open up to her, having suffered the loss of someone close to him. He is under a lot of pressure to prove himself to his father, with whom he is estranged, by ensuring that his first hotel opening is successful. Unfortunately, a ghost seems set on sabotaging his plans.
While the story focuses mostly on Karly, as well as Thayne, there’s a lot happening in the novel, and details that are relevant to understanding their history are vague or not revealed until much later. This makes it difficult to fully empathize with Karly in her hesitation to start a relationship with Thayne. Karly’s fears of falling for Thayne would be more believable if she and Thayne would explain why they have such strong feelings for each other, besides the physical attraction they feel.
It is the mystery surrounding this ghost that is most interesting in Haunted. While Karly and Thayne are both dynamic characters who are easy to like, their romance is predictable, though entertaining to witness. The ghost haunting the Molverton Inn is complicated, seeking revenge and, at points, physically harming the people who cross her path. Karly’s job to eradicate such a stubborn spirit is not easy, and Nichols thoroughly explains the different steps a medium must take to protect the property and people, identify the spirit, and guide the spirit onto the next world. The mystery surrounding the identity of the spirit and how she became a ghost makes this book difficult to put down.
Haunted has many elements that make this book an exciting read. It is well-written; Nichols describes the characters and settings in a way that flows naturally with the action, and the way she paces the story builds suspense. She incorporates realistic dialogue, and the conversations between Karly and her sister are particularly witty and entertaining. Nichols creates complex characters with unique personalities, and readers cannot help but cheer on Karly in her quest to rid the Molverton Inn of a stubborn spirit and find happiness with Thayne.
Pages: 329 | ASIN: B077RMGLDM
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Mademoiselle Alice tells an intimate tale that takes readers on a personal journey through life and love. What was the inspiration that made you want to turn Alice’s life into a story?
I spent three years writing a history book called Alice & Eiffel, A New History of Early Cinema and the Love Story Kept Secret for a Century. As soon as I finished it, my girlfriends said: “We want a novel!” Alice wrote a memoir that is very cryptic, only 120 pages. I felt that she had a lot of secrets which she alluded to, particularly about her father, her experiences at the convent, and her relationship with Eiffel.
Why did you choose to write the novel in the first person?
When I started the novel, I spent several months writing Alice’s story in the third person, but it felt distant. I felt like I was flying over the rooftops, getting an occasional peek through a crack in the curtains. The novel didn’t start to come to life until I switched to first person and told it from Alice’s point of view.
Being basically kidnapped from her grandmother’s home at four and then being dropped off at the convent at six were the heartbreaks in her childhood that most captured my imagination and sympathy. Then of course when her father died when she was seventeen, that was the coup de grâce for her. In her memoirs she began with “My destiny was no doubt traced before my birth,” and I think she was referring to the early connections between her father and Eiffel since Eiffel really did go to Chile the year before she was born.
Alice Guy Blaché was a pioneer with so many accomplishments. What was the one thing that surprised you the most about Alice?
The biggest surprise was that although Eiffel was wildly successful and a very attractive person, Alice is more compelling. I think the story-telling gene that she developed was a result of her early experiences and not a function of ambition to make it in the movies which did not exist when she started.
The first film she wrote and directed, La Fée aux Choux, remains iconic in symbol and mystery. In one minute she tapped into the deepest themes of human experience: romantic love, sexual attraction, and family. We know it when an artist touches that chord, cuts to the core of something deep.
The temptation with a biography of a famous or accomplished person is to stack up their achievements in an intimidating tower. You can do the same thing with Eiffel. Would you like to read about all forty of the bridges he built culminating in his famous tower? That has been the outline of all the biographies about him. They don’t get close to the real person.
What kind of research did you have to do to maintain the historical accuracy of the book?
I look up all kinds of quirky things. It is not at all efficient, but you have to cast a very wide net. I read French and American newspapers from 1890s through the 1920s, and it is surprising what you run across, such as a column entitled “What makes a woman charming?” The old newspapers reflect how people thought back then. The phrase “gender roles” wasn’t coined until 1955. In Alice’s time, being a wife and mother were a woman’s duties, not roles she chose. The “old maids” were viewed as having missed the boat of life.
What is the next story that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am working on scripts for Mademoiselle Alice. I think it would make a good television series starting with the California Gold Rush. Many people came from France to California during that period and I believe Alice’s father was among them. Everyone wonders how Alice was able to do cowboy and western films. I think it was in her DNA.
A deeply evocative story inspired by real events: the love affair between two unforgettable people—Gustave Eiffel, the builder of the Eiffel Tower, and Alice Guy Blaché, a pioneer in the art of cinema. Mademoiselle Alice steps out of the shadows into the reader’s mind as an endlessly intriguing and entirely relatable young woman. Told through Alice’s eyes, we get to know her, her family, and Monsieur Eiffel. Eiffel is not looking to fall in love—he is a widower who has everything—wit, wealth, fame, and brilliance. He was a friend of Alice’s father who died when she was seventeen, and the story she tells of falling in love with him is funny and emotionally intimate. Alice and Eiffel forge an enduring romantic and intellectual bond. But while she wants to marry him, he refuses because he is so much older than she is. Out of her desire to have a family, she marries a handsome Englishman and travels to the United States, where she works with D. W. Griffith and then opens her own film studio. Some of her emotional experiences find expression in the scenarios she writes for film. Her relationship with Monsieur Eiffel continues on in her mind and leads to some surprising developments. Mademoiselle Alice tells us much about women’s lives during the silent film era in France and the United States. Combining a biographer’s knowledge of her subject with the novelist’s gift for narrative, Janelle Dietrick has crafted a novel that will capture the interest of every reader.
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Would you walk a mile for someone you love? What about 300 miles? In John Meyer’s Shadows, Shells and Spain this adult fictionalized travel memoir tells the story of Jamie Draper’s journey on the Camino de Santiago trail.
Jamie Draper was a happily married man who loved his wife Pamela very much. But when she surprised him with a divorce, it had caught him off guard. Ever since he received a postcard addressed to him from Spain, it had sent him on a journey. He quit his job as a history teacher in Canada and moved to Palma, Spain, hoping to reconnect with his wife and discover why she so abruptly left him. He then starts a journey to follow the Camino trail to find his wife by following the subtle hidden clues in her letters to him. Along the way he makes interesting friends and explores the trail with some intriguing strangers. He meets a British woman named Brie Bletcher, who’s estranged from her husband Martin. When Jamie tells her his story, she joins him on the trip. Gaining clues and traveling along a striking trail they hit some snags from missing letters to some stained by the weather. When Jamie discovers that his wife is very sick in a new batch of letters, it gives his mission a new urgency.
This story takes place in present day Spain and some parts of Canada. These are beautiful landscapes on their own and John Meyer is able to bring them to life with vivid details. This being a fictional travel memoir I expected some heavy scene descriptions, but these were broken up by the curious characters that pop up along the trail as well as Jamie’s intereactions with Brie. The story was well written and grows more profound the longer he travels the trail. It had a bit of literary fiction, romance, mystery and drama all wrapped into one story. The theme, I felt, is about life, loss and love, and how to move on from grief. This would be ideal for people who love travelogues and who love tear-jerking novels.
Although I enjoyed reading this book, there’s a lot of factual and historical tidbits that slow the pace of the story. I wish this was streamlined so that I could get back to my favorite part, the characters. Although travel readers will enjoy the architectural highlights of each town and accompanying history. If you can’t make it to Spain, this is your next best option.
Pages: 287 | ASIN: B0756JF632
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We all face various trials and tribulations through life, learning lessons along the way. We face a good majority of these during adolescence, especially in that gray transitionary age between teen and young adult. Sam – A Girl Undercover is a story of just that, the decisions, insecurities, and questions we face when learning our place in the world. We follow Sam as she struggles to accept herself and her flaws while trying to figure out her emerging feelings for boys. It circles around the various hurdles of social responsibility and the comfort we take in our friends and family, even when they cause us some exasperation.
This story is one that many will find them selves relating to, though is definitely more female oriented. Eva Beaty gives words to a lot of the issues so many of us face growing up, representing such through Samantha, or Sam as she prefers. She carries a birthmark that fields a lot of insecurity and self doubt, something that is very common among young women. We all have that flaw we constantly try to hide. That quirk we spend so much energy trying to not show. Through the various relationships Sam navigates, it’s easy to place ourselves in her shoes – changing our image for fear of judgement of others and yet seeking acceptance and love for who we are naturally.
Yes, Beaty does a good job of sharing a story that is easy to relate to; it could easily be a relative, a friend, or even ourselves in not just the part of Sam, but other characters as well.
The story is as I said relatable, but hard to read. The writing style is short, clipped, and jumpy, making it hard to really immerse yourself. I felt that the characters lacked depth which makes this book relatable but it’s also a draw back – the characters could be anybody, and I wanted something to make these characters stand out as unique in my mind. The story was also fairly predictable, I kept expecting some dramatic twist, but it was all fairly straight forward. It almost reads like a script versus a book, focusing on a lot of action and reaction, spending a lot of time in Sams perspective but with little supporting material. It has the potential to be a solid coming of age tale, geared toward female youth.
This is a story that shows just how complicated interpersonal relationships can become when we jump to conclusions without all of the facts, or omit the truth due to timing or fear of the reactions it could receive.
Pages: 395 | ASIN: B071GV3T92
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A Guardian Falls by Rebecca Tran is a fantasy novel and the second book in the Chronicles of the Coranydas series. In the first novel, we are introduced to our main character Mara, who is seeking revenge after watching her father’s murder. She gives up her privileged lifestyles in order to seek justice. The second starts soon after the events of the first novel, with Mara’s betrothed recovering from his injuries after she has rescued him from her father’s killer, and her self-doubt in her abilities to finish what she has started.
The novel starts well, with a good re-introduction of characters and an update in the current situation. Tran’s writing is easy to follow, and you’re given a sense of the characters as soon as you meet them. Mara is also a likeable main character, and one of the reasons for this is that she is not a perfect or even confident lead. She doubts herself and her destiny throughout the novel, but all this makes for a more realistic and endearing character. It is much easier to empathize with a character who is self-critical and questions themselves, and this makes for an enjoyable read. Mara’s relationships also makes her more likeable. Her relationship with Kess is sweet and you find yourself invested in it – the novel starts with them having been in an argument, but their quick reconciliation is a subtle way to show you the strength of their relationship.
One thing the author does well is her ability to write both long scenes of in-depth dialogue between two characters and epic battle sequences. Both of these will hold your attention, and flow easily. The dialogue is good, and anything the characters say is believable and feels like a true conversation. Similarly, any action is written well, and is not too over the top.
The only problem I found with this novel is the amount of characters there are. It can sometimes be hard to follow so many characters in one book, and occasionally things can become muddled and you start to feel you’re in information overload. However, this does not affect the enjoyability of the novel to a high degree, but it is something you need to concentrate more on as you read.
Overall, this is a well balance book, with a good degree of both action and dialogue that is paced well. You will enjoy both the action sequences and the calmer, more character driven moments. The characters are strong, and our main character is likeable and relatable. The plot is interesting pushed along by some thrilling twists. If you are looking for a good fantasy read then you can’t go wrong with this one.
Pages: 394 | ASIN: B072LJV5Z5
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A little bit romance novel, a little bit suspenseful thriller, and a thorough introduction to the world of women’s cycling, Wheeler by Sara Butler Zalesky is an enjoyable and well-written story of a strong female protagonist battling both physical and emotional challenges. Spanning just a few months in professional cyclist Loren MacKenzie’s life, Wheeler is a whirlwind of a read. It begins in the heat of her cycling competition season when she meets handsome actor, Graham Atherton, roadside after a well-timed popped tire and follows their blossoming romance as well as Loren’s cycling competitions across Europe. It’s not all easy riding for Graham and Loren though, as Zalesky weaves intricate relationships between Loren, her teammates, family, and a sinister former boyfriend who is dangerously obsessed with Loren.
Readers who are familiar with professional cycling will doubtless appreciate Zalesky’s attention to the sport, and even readers who have no prior knowledge will enjoy learning about the strategy, training, and teamwork involved in cycling. Zalesky expertly creates a believable and enthralling team dynamic, following Loren and her team through both victories and crashes. Crafting relatable characters and developing story lines over the course of the novel is one of Zalesky’s strengths. Though the first half of the story feels rather one-dimensional with clichéd characters (the hyper-driven female athlete; the handsome, Shakespeare-quoting actor; the jealous ex-boyfriend), Zalesky develops her characters so that by the second half of the story, each of these characters has a well-defined history and far exceeds expectations.
Whirlwind romances are, of course, fun to read and daydream about, but the almost instantaneous and passionate relationship that Loren and Graham form feels forced. Their relationship is full of Shakespeare quotes and French puppy-love nicknames (hundreds of variations on mon amour and ma cherie are tired after awhile). But midway through the novel, Zalesky seems to hit her groove and relies less on these easy wordplays for content, allowing Loren and Graham to have more meaningful conversations. This is pleasing for readers, who may not have realized the novel they were reading would have more Shakespeare than they had read since high school.
Overall, Wheeler offers readers an intriguing literary escape into the intense world of women’s cycling and creates a protagonist that readers will consider a good friend by the end of the story. While few people could withstand the physical challenges that Zalesky puts in front of Loren, it is the emotional challenges she faces that make Loren such a wonderful character. Wheeler examines challenging topics such as emotional and physical abuse, the difficulties of balancing work and relationships, and familial estrangement, and does not shy away from painful moments. Multi-dimensional, inspiring, and sometimes heartbreaking, Loren will have readers rooting for her successes and looking forward to a second installment. Hopefully Zalesky’s second novel will come soon, as Wheeler’s abrupt end may catch readers off-guard, feeling almost as if they’ve fallen off their bikes unexpectedly.
Pages: 456 | ASIN: B01I0DTSQU
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Another Summer tells the story of Evie and Joe, a married couple who hit a rocky patch after uncovering secrets within their marriage. What was the inspiration for the setup to this passionate novel?
I always start with a scene or a snippet of dialogue. Another Summer was inspired by a holiday in Cornwall soon after severe storms and floods. I saw the remains of an ancient bridge destroyed by the river. There was a shiny motorbike trapped in the debris. I was intrigued and started thinking what if…?
I felt that Evie and Joe’s relationship built slowly into something that was complex and deep. How did you set about creating their relationship?
I want my characters to have realistic human dilemmas and to get themselves into scrapes by making mistakes. In Another Summer I wanted to write about someone trying to change and discover along the way if he means it. And then I wondered who would love him enough to put up with that behaviour and still believe in him?
Was there anything pulled from your own life and used in the novel?
I’ve long had a fascination for secrets, how people go to great lengths to hide things and what happens when the truth comes out.
I felt that Another Summer questioned whether someone would return to a partner after deceit. What moral goals did you use to guide the stories development?
I’m always interested in why people do things. I love a misunderstood rebel character, the bad boy with a soft centre. I’m also a great admirer of forgiveness and I like my characters to be better at it than I am.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
I have a second novel – High Hopes available now. It has been described as “A book filled with suspense, love, heartbreak and pain. Compulsive page-turner with a sizzling hint of spice.”
The heat of passion and the bitter sting of betrayal from an exciting new voice in Women’s Fiction, Another Summer is the sizzling second-chances page-turner you won’t want to miss.
Scared of being alone, lost in the arms of a handsome stranger, Evie believes her marriage to Joe is over. But Joe is on a mission to win her back. Will he reach her before she falls under the spell of hot rock singer Jake?
Joe is the only man she’s ever loved, since that long hot summer when she was sixteen. But how many lies is too many? Devastated by his latest betrayal, Evie flees to her grandmother’s remote cottage in the stormy wilds of picturesque Cornwall, staring into an empty future without the bad-boy she believed was her soulmate. Heartbroken and vulnerable, she falls under the spell of charismatic Jake who sweeps her head first into an irresistible and steamy affair.
Expecting Evie to come to her senses, Joe storms after her and finds himself stuck on the road trip from hell. When an ancient bridge is smashed to matchwood, it seems all hope of a happy future will be swept away. The old hurts are deep and forgiveness seems out of the question. Has Joe left it too late to persuade Evie he can change? Does he deserve another chance to convince Evie he loves her? Or will Evie be tempted to dump him and grasp her own happy ending with sexy rocker Jake?
Set in the windswept wilds of Poldark country, the perfect steamy romance for lazing on the beach or curling up on a rainy-day sofa. Don’t miss out – get your copy now. Scroll up and click buy to start reading. Another Summer is sure to be one of the Bestselling Romance Novels of 2017.
Posted in Interviews
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Another Summer, written by Sue Lilley, tells the story of Evie and Joe, a married couple who have hit a rocky patch after uncovering lies and secrets within their marriage. Evie escapes to Cliff Cottage, a house left by her grandmother to do some soul searching whilst Joe stumbles through the countryside in an effort to find her. Old and new romances will be sparked as the couple reflect on their marriage and the twists and turns of their relationship. Will they reignite their old romance or will the lies and deceit be the final straw for Evie and Joe?
Another Summer begins with an awkward phone call that will change the marriage of Joe and Evie forever. Evie manages her grief through running away whilst her husband, dressed in expensive Hugo Boss attire, drowns his sorrows in a bar contemplating his next move. Prepare for a rollercoaster of emotions as Joe decides to chase after the leading lady of his life.
Summer flings, beach shacks and indie bands will come together for a teasing storyline that at times is hot and heavy with its seductive characters. Though the plot is steamy, the pace of the book is a little slow at times. I believe this was intentionally done to drive the readers to develop a burning desire to learn more. Another Summer questions the integrity of relationships and whether you would return to a partner after deceit. Many of us perceive relationships to be black and white, however, this love story opens the door to the possibility that love may be a grey area instead.
Sue Lilley’s ability to bring the characters to life left me feeling genuinely concerned for the fate of each character and their relationships. Even the small roles of the story had their own individual plot that I quickly became invested in. One of the characters, Lisa, is a lost and lonely teenager, desperate for answers and acceptance of a male figure in her life. Even though she seems like a lost cause, the reader will be inclined to fall for her sweet demeanour as she tackles her own demons alongside the ride with Joe.
The dreamy Jake will enter Evie’s life at a time where she feels the most vulnerable. With his boyish good looks and charming personality, it’s hard not to find yourself hoping he ends up whisking her away on a much deserved romantic holiday! But just like all of us, Jake is only human and has his own flaws and nuances to match.
I enjoyed how the story paralleled real life with places in the present sparking memories of the past for Evie and Joe. The flashbacks into the past will remind the reader of their own teenage romances and the hormonal dramas that came with first kisses, parties and summer romances.
I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a romantic novel that questions whether relationships have the strength to survive the test of time. Does time heal old wounds? Should Evie return to Joe? Only time will tell.
Pages: 215 | ASIN: B00R9S9TFI
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Black Inked Pearl is a romance story following a young woman who falls in love with a mysterious man and then must search for him through Heaven and Hell. I found Kate to be a very well written and in depth character. What was your inspiration for her and her emotional turmoil through the story?
My reading: above all (as you’ll see from the similes) Homer and the mystic love poetry of Shakespeare, Blake and Rumi. Music – the dreams in which the book was given to me (from where?), one dream / one chapter a night for about two months, were interlaced with my hearing classical music through the night, most poignantly Bach, slow Mozart piano and John Rutter’s ‘Blessing’. But most of all my life, living through it:, I think no serious novelist can write of love or emotion of searching unless she has experienced it herself, at least in imagination (what else?): as the agreed poet Aeschylus rightly summed it up ‘learning through suffering … ‘
Within this book you flawlessly blend poetry with prose that brings beauty and intrigue to the story. It takes exceptional talent to blend the two genres together. How did you go about blending the two genres without disrupting the story?
I don’t think they’re essentially so very different, in fact some of the ‘poetry’ could equally well be set as rhythmic prose (my publisher – lovely Garn Press – had quite a discussion about which should be which, we changed our minds several times), and ‘prose passages’ could equally appear as poetry (actually, some of the ‘prose’ similes are now set as verse in my Poems from Black Inked Pearl: after all many of them came directly from, or were inspired, by Homer, the great arch poet). Also as I learned when I was writing my book Oral Poetry it’s really only a fairly recent typographical western convention that makes prose ‘look’ different from poetry. Ultimately it’s the SOUND and the INTENSITY OF EMOTION – or so I think -that are fundamental to poetry, and that, for me anyway, runs all through the book. So in a way it’s all poetry and I couldn’t feel any break between them. That said, interestingly, the poems came separately, also in dreams (each one already made, complete, perfect – well as perfect as it was ever going to get anyway) over the months BEFORE the novel started, mysteriously, to arrive. I thought they were independent poems. But when the novel chapters were written I saw that, all the time, they were part of the story and needed to be there. So now, there they are.
I felt that Black Inked Pearl is about love, romance, and life experiences that shape the person we become. Is there any moral or idea that you hope readers take away from the story?
I think – as in The Alchemist (a kind of soulmate book with mine) follow your dream, whatever anyone else says – and maybe at the end of that rainbow what you will find will be the pearl, yourself. Love is all, even if unrequited – that has its deep treasures too. The ‘new’ words (the Garn Press copy editor said there were hundreds!!) just came to me; they were just standing there already in my mind (like the poems were), complete, ready to be written. When I looked back (having forgotten…) I saw that they were (almost) all because they made the line SOUND better, more rhythmic. Roll on the audio, oral, version for its full realization, much influenced by my experience of African (and Irish) oral story telling. Oh and often it turned out to be sense too – some subtle change from the meaning conveyed by the ‘ordinary’ form – didn’t James Joyce and Homer and even Shakespeare sometimes find they had to do the same? (sorry, what a comparison….)
An epic romance about the naive Irish girl Kate and her mysterious lover, whom she rejects in panic and then spends her life seeking. After the opening rejection, Kate recalls her Irish upbringing, her convent education, and her coolly-controlled professional success, before her tsunami-like realisation beside an African river of the emotions she had concealed from herself and that she passionately and consumingly loved the man she had rejected. Searching for him she visits the kingdom of beasts, a London restaurant, an old people’s home, back to the misty Donegal Sea, the heavenly archives, Eden, and hell, where at agonising cost she saves her dying love. They walk together toward heaven, but at the gates he walks past leaving her behind in the dust. The gates close behind him. He in turn searches for her and at last finds her in the dust, but to his fury (and renewed hurt) he is not ecstatically recognised and thanked. And the gates are still shut.
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