Decanted is the story of bored millennial wine enthusiast and super palate Samantha Goodyear. When Samantha gets the opportunity of a lifetime to visit and work on one of the finest vineyards in France, she drops everything to go. Samantha returns to the United States and begins to build her own wine empire from a special gift left to her family by an older relative from World War II. But disaster strikes and the possibility of love once again enters the picture. Will she take the opportunity and will her business survive?
This emotionally charged book that radiates the aura of leisure and gives the reader a beautiful picture of sunny California, historic France and miles of vineyards. Author Linda Sheehan gives readers a light romance that is humorous at times and not too bogged down with heavy drama, although there is plenty of it it’s always refreshing. The flashbacks to the past and Aunt Vivian’s story are wonderful too and provide extra insight into the culture and art of winemaking that shapes Samantha’s life. The one thing that makes this novel stand out from other contemporary romance novels is the wine culture that is used as a fascinating backdrop to some stimulating scenes and alluring characters. The characters are all distinct and have their varying degrees of interest and class in the world of winemaking. There are the snobs, the hard workers, the casual enjoyers, and all are represented effortless yet realistic way. Samantha in particular is a compelling protagonist. She is a relatable millennial who is stuck in the rat race and trying to make a living, figure out life, and manage issues between her parents. But the truly amazing and likable things about Samantha is how she pursues her passions with abandon, all the while staying true to her herself. It is so refreshing and unique to read a protagonist so ready to think, act, and pursue her true self and her desires.
Decanted is a wonderfully realistic and intelligent new adult romance novel revealing a well-researched wine culture that’s effortlessly entertaining. I enjoyed the rich and detailed explanations of the natural views and taste or smells of the food and drink in the book. This book is a paradise for the gastronomically inclined. I highly recommend this as a light and refreshing read to any who dreams of the French campagne, soleil, et bon vin.
Pages: 265 | ISBN: 978-1-68433-703-3
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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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Tags: Ardel Emery, author, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, book trailer, bookblogger, books, books to read, booktube, booktuber, college romance, ebook, epic fantasy, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, kindle, kobo, literature, love story, nook, novel, paranormal, Perseverance: How It All Began, read, reader, reading, Rebecca Branch, romance, story, supernatural, trailer, urban fantasy, urban fiction, writer, writing
The Early Years: A Memoir (Matters of the Heart Book One) by Rachel G. Carrington is an autobiography that tells the story of a young girl who was born in Kentucky in 1930. Rachel Gaylord is the oldest of eleven children, and she leaves home at seventeen. This book is a collection of short stories about her growing up and life as a young adult getting married and starting a family. These stories were taken from her journal entries that were written throughout her lifetime, beginning in her teenage years.
The Early Years is a heartfelt story of young love. Brad Carrington had an interesting story to tell Rachel after he walked her home from church, and it kept me wanting to read more. I enjoyed the descriptions of daily rural life in the 1940s, such as cooking on a woodstove, gardening, canning, and laundry, which were reminiscent of stories I have heard from my own grandparents about their experiences living on a farm. I could picture scenes similar to old family photographs I’ve viewed. Some of the stories in this book were of separate unrelated incidents, but most of the stories connect to others in a related chain of events. Many of the stories were humorous, including the wedding night chivaree.
This a touching memoir that explores a young couples relationships, and shares the high and lows one woman experiences. While I enjoyed the story, I sometimes had trouble connecting things because some events were not in chronological order. There are many interesting people that come into Rachel’s life, I thought it would be helpful if the author included a family tree to make it easier for me to connect all the people. Many of the scenes are delightfully detailed, but since this is a true story I had a desire to see what these people and places actually looked like and I would have really liked to have seen some photographs.
I desperately wanted to continue reading Rachel’s story to find out what happened after she and Brad moved their family to northern Kentucky. This is where Book Two, Dreams Born; Dream Fulfilled, picks up Rachel Gaylord Carrington’s life story. The Early Years: A Memoir is an absorbing and emotional memoir that readers will surely enjoy.
Pages: 248 | ASIN: B08TQKHQPC
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How do you overcome a past full of heartache? In my wildest dreams, I never would have been able to imagine my life taking a turn like this. Part of me is still having trouble accepting it. Yet, I can’t deny what is happening to me. Trystan has had a front row seat to witnessing it all, while Blake remains in the dark. I don’t know how to tell Blake and part of me is extremely apprehensive about doing so. But how long can I keep it from him? Doesn’t he deserve to know? The three of us go to visit my family. I have to find a way to tell them that their life as they know it has fundamentally shifted. I have to find a way to tell them what has happened to me. Well, at least, that was my original purpose for going to see them. But things take a turn. My original reason for going to see everyone changes into a struggle to keep my past with Trystan from becoming exposed. If it’s exposed, then my deepest pains will be as well. No one knows the heartbreak I’ve endured. It doesn’t take long for people to notice changes in the way Trystan and I are around one another now. It doesn’t take long for them to pick up on the tension that continually laces the air between Trystan and Blake. It also doesn’t take long for Trystan to start pushing me for deeper access to the parts of my heart that have sustained the most damage over the years. A day trip to see Trystan’s family becomes an overnight stay and Trystan proposes and idea that I find both tempting and terrifying at the same time. Can I really resist him? Secrets become exposed and a major misunderstanding results in major consequences for everyone…I thought I knew pain before. I had no idea what hell I was about to be subjected to.
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Awakening follows a woman with a tragic past who meets someone who expands her heart and soul and opens a new world to her. What were some sources that informed this novels development?
Well, I have always been fascination by the vampire archetype, but was never fully satisfied with how they were portrayed. I wanted to explore another avenue of possibility with this story, to pull in more elements of spirituality, sexuality, and healing because I believe that these things are all so intrinsically connected to one another. The character of August, and of him “being of sacred blood” in my book, in a way represents the aspects of wholeness held within us. We all have the profound ability to tap into a deeper way of living. To discover something richer and more meaningful in our lives. But we have to let go first… and love is the ultimate letting go.
Jezebel and August have a deep and enthralling emotional connection. What were some ideas you wanted to explore with their relationship?
All of my work dives into the human condition, the darker and more fractured aspects of ourselves, the things we are hiding or running from. But beneath all that lies so much beauty. I wanted to explore all the different layers of rebirth that can occur when two people learn to surrender to one another. Love is the driving force in everything that we do, whether it is romantic, platonic, or familial. It is the glue that binds us together and gives us purpose.
I really enjoyed the various ideas shared in the book, and how intricately it was all woven together. Was the novel planned before writing or did things develop organically?
This novel originally started out as a short story of sorts, but then evolved and grew into something much more. I had no idea where this story was going to go beyond part 1, and it was such an exciting journey for me to go on, one in which I became both the writer and the reader. How I managed to wrap it all up cohesively without plotting is still beyond me. Writing is a lot like alchemy.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
My next book is very different than this one. I’m a bit of a genre bender, and I enjoy exploring all avenues of narration, but I always keep the central theme of love in place. My current novel “Light Among the Shadows” is more of a contemporary romance about a woman trying to live after the loss of her child, and a blind man trapped in the darkness of his disability.
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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!
Posted in Interviews
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Awakening is a beautifully written and emotionally rich tale that weaves together the past and the present. Jezebel is a cleaner with a tragic past but life takes an unexpected turn upon meeting a new client, one Mr. August De Sanguine. Jezebel discovers that there is more to our world than she previously believed, but August seems to both pull her in and push her away. He has his secrets, but she does too, and she hopes to reach beyond the mask he has formed. Their fates are bound somehow, but their paths are tangled and winding, twisting together in ways neither of them could have foreseen.
Awakening is such an emotionally touching romance novel because of the way it addresses the human experience through characters and experiences that are more than human. The author touches on trauma, love, desire, sorrow, sex, and so many other aspects of the experiences of life. Even though many of the characters are otherworldly in some aspect, it is the deep emotional connection that the author weaves that allows the reader to relate to these characters and see our own sorrows, traumas, and desires in them.
Despite the sometimes quite heavy sentiments discussed by the narrative, Awakening also has an intricately layered plot that starts out relatively simple but grows increasingly complex and detailed. The world-building and mythology of the book is original and unique enough that it seems to outdo many popular franchises. Additionally, the story covers both past and present in a way that fleshes out the innate connections between the two. I found the extended flashback both enjoyable and informative as to the connections that make Jezebel’s and August’s story so magnetic and fateful. The story starts out what what seems to be a fairly simple love story but goes on to reveal some of the secrets of the universe and the origins of humanity as well as the power that lies within each individual.
Awakening is written in such a way that readers will forget that the story is fiction. Although the book is not action-packed, it is rich, well-imagined, and will keep readers turning pages. I highly recommend this book for those interested in romance and provocative philosophical ideas and theories.
Pages: 344 | ASIN: B08P5SMG3M
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