Tag Archives: contemporary romance

Forbidden Love by Dee Rose Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A man who discovers he is dying must make a life-altering decision to admit his feelings for his best friend since high school, which could change the dynamic between them forever, in author Dee Rose’s “Forbidden Love”.

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The Synopsis

Mark and Jesse have been friends since they were kids and became best friends – like brothers in high school. However, Mark slowly begins to develop romantic feelings for Jesse, which puts a strain on, not only their relationship, but all other relationships they’d ever have. Fast forward twelve years later, and Mark’s feelings have only deepened because of their proximity in Salt Lake City. Both are successful in their chosen careers, Mark in advertising and Jesse in construction. Jesse married his childhood sweetheart, Annika Johnson, and they have a child with another one on the way. Sadly, Mark finds out he has an inoperable brain tumor and finally decides to tell Jesse how he truly feels. But Mark must tread carefully because even though he and Annika are also close, she begins to suspect Mark has a secret crush on Jesse. Several obstacles and side stories arise on the way to passionate night between Mark and Jesse in a remote cabin. 

The Review

This was a passionate, complex, and captivating read. The author did an incredible job of layering this narrative with rich dynamics between the characters and a suspenseful atmosphere that kept the reader on the edge of their seats. The tension and drama the author was able to fuel this narrative with were ripe with charged emotions as the lives of these friends all come crashing down all around them as this cataclysmic change erupts between them.

The heart of this narrative rests in the author’s enthralling character development and the real-life themes that the story captures. The complex nature of sexuality and relationships is brought to the forefront here, as the story hones in on subjects like how unjustly men’s perceptions of women can change during pregnancy, the frightening reality of having to hide one’s identity, and how secrets can impact and change the nature of any type of relationship. The chemistry between Mark and Jesse is both shocking and complicated and yet draws the reader in more and more as their story plays out.

The Verdict

Haunting, entertaining, and insightful, author Dee Rose’s “Forbidden Love” is a must-read LGBTQ-driven contemporary romance and drama. The twists and turns in the complex relationships the author develops with these characters and the shocking revelations that reveal themselves all blend into the rich story that the author has expertly developed to draw the reader in. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Dee Rose was born on July 5th and resides in Denver, CO, where he studied Political Science at Metropolitan State University. He has two children, Nadia and Nicole. He started writing when he entered a writing contest at William A. Wirt high school in Gary, IN. “My goal is to blow people’s minds.” He says. “But sound cool doing it.”

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0BL89PHGX/ref=x_gr_w_glide_sin?caller=Goodreads&callerLink=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.goodreads.com%2Fbook%2Fshow%2F63342268-forbidden-love%3Fac%3D1%26from_search%3Dtrue%26qid%3DREitio0EO9%26rank%3D2&tag=x_gr_w_glide_sin-20

Awake: A Midlife Romance Series Book One by Lisa Battalia Review/Author Interview/Excerpt

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A woman struggling to find her way after the end of her marriage and an FBI agent who struggles to be a single father come together to find friendship and love once more as they try to find balance in the bicoastal romance novel “Awake” by Lisa Battalia, the first book in A Midlife Romance series.

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The Synopsis

Awake begins in the shame and pain of a marital desertion. Lori is reluctant to let Brandon into her life, afraid to be hurt again. Once she opens that door wider, Lori experiences an explosive awakening. With Brandon’s help, Lori rediscovers her sexual power and, through that, confidence and hope. Yet three-thousand miles separate suburban Maryland and Seattle. Their intense but infrequent visits are disorienting, particularly as Lori feels pressured towards a more suitable post-divorce life. When Lori makes an impulsive decision to take her kids on a trip to Seattle, she sparks a chain of conflicts that might end their still-precarious romance.

The Review

This was a truly heated and engaging erotic romance novel. The author did an incredible job of capturing the passion and emotional atmosphere that brews between this new couple. The reality of life after divorce or being a single parent was explored thoroughly here and added a level of tension that spoke to the growing relationship between the protagonists.

The heart of this novel was the character relationships that this cast had with one another, as well as the detailed level of romance that the author poured into this narrative. The way each protagonist helped push the other both physically and emotionally after their various hardships were great to see come to fruition, and added a new level of depth to the more erotic moments between them. The theme explored by the author showcased how such passion and romance aren’t reserved strictly for the young but can come at any age, and life doesn’t always begin right out of high school or college, but much later in life.

The Verdict

Emotional, thoughtful, and heartfelt, author Lisa Battalia’s “Awake” is the perfect erotic romance novel and a great beginning entry into the Midlife Romance series. The emotional weight of that romance as the characters try to find a way of staying connected and their passionate encounters grow into something more made this a brilliant story to behold. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Lisa Battalia is an attorney in the field of gender equity and a writer. She is the mother of two newly launched young adults; a lifelong east-coaster who recently launched her own new life on Whidbey Island, WA. 

Her other novels and short stories can be found at www.lisabattalia.com.

Instagram link: https://www.instagram.com/lisabattalia/

https://amzn.to/3is6zgL

Here is an Excerept from “Awake”

Lori woke, uncertain of the time, in exactly the same position. Brandon was curled around her from behind, still holding her tight. She listened to his steady breath and could feel it blow softly across her shoulder. Tears welled again. When had she last spent the whole night, any part of the night, tucked into someone’s arms?

Lori reluctantly extracted herself, though, because she really needed to pee. She climbed awkwardly over Brandon to get to the open side of the bed. Thankfully, a couple of candles remained lit, and she made her way through the unfamiliar room and into the hallway. She could see through to the living room dimly lit by the glow of street lights, and she noticed Brandon’s t-shirt on the floor.

She went and pulled it on. Passing over her nose, she breathed deeply to smell his smell, just like she used to do with her kids’ clothing. A stolen snuffle as she gathered up miniature shirts and jeans and sundresses, hoping in those whiffs of sweat, spilled food, and grass stains, that she might catch hold of their fleeting joys. Brandon’s scent was different, still familiar, the aroma of deep compatibility. She wondered if smell could reveal such a thing? Her nose detected a trace of Brandon’s cologne, woodsy, leathery, sensual, something almost animal- like that she remembered well. It felt intoxicating that he was so near.

On route back to the bedroom, Lori took a quick glance at her phone to make sure there were no texts from the kids.

Jeanette was inviting her to see a movie. Lori would have to make up an excuse. It was three in the morning, she noted, six in the morning east coast time. That seemed to trigger her appetite, and Lori poked through Brandon’s refrigerator. She spotted a container of Greek yogurt. After several wrong picks, she found the drawer with the silverware, leaned against the countertop, removed the cover, and, half-aware, started to eat. It seemed a sudden recognition, her bare feet starting to feel the cold of the floor, she was three thousand miles away from her kids, just slept in a man’s bed, not her husband, a strange bed, but one that felt, well, kind of like home.

Brandon appeared then as a shadow at the kitchen entrance. He turned on the light. When she flinched, he quickly adjusted the dimmer. He was as naked as in bed, yet she felt like she was seeing all of him for the first time. When they were young, Brandon was tall and very thin. Clearly, he worked out—just the right amount. Not over the top muscles like some boys gave themselves, looking awkward and bulky, arms so thick they no longer rested comfortably against their bodies.

She appraised Brandon, trying not to look obvious, the sculpted shoulders and biceps; slim and strong-muscled legs, relaxed at the moment; a well-defined stomach, no six-pack. Still, there were indents in all the right places, highlighting musculature and triangulating his sweet spot, which, with a quick peek, revealed a three-quarters-erect penis.

“What you lookin’ at?” Brandon asked, smirking.

“I’ll assume that’s a rhetorical question.”

He laughed softly, such a warm, cozy sound in the dark,

early morning. “Have you been up long?” He walked over, tipped up her face, and kissed her on the nose.

“No, just a few minutes. I was suddenly wide awake and hungry.”

“Jet lag can be tough, and we forgot to eat.” Glancing at the yogurt in her hand, he said, “you probably need something more than that.”

“I just wanted a little something. This is perfect. It’s my favorite brand.” Lori took another bite. “Want some?”

“Sure.”

She scooped up a spoonful and fed it to him.

“You look good in my shirt, by the way, very sexy.” Brandon’s mouth was half full, so the words sounded slightly garbled and sweeter.

Lori gave a twirl to acknowledge his compliment, then made a slight curtsy, pulling out the bottom hem. With her bowed head, she could see that her legs were still shapely, bare skin extending down from where the bottom of the shirt hit high on her thighs. She was frowning, though, when she looked back up.

“Peter hated when I wore his clothes.”

“Why?”

“God knows. I told him I did it to look sexy. He said he

didn’t like other people touching his stuff.”

“Wow. Okay.” Brandon leaned back against the countertop

so that they were side by side. “Were you thinking about him right now? About home?”

“Actually, I was thinking about how strange it feels to be so comfortable here, with you, in your bed.”

“Why strange?”

“It’s been so long since we’ve seen each other or even talked. Our “real” lives, our grown-up lives, happened apart. I thought you’d feel like someone I don’t know.“ She glanced sideways, catching his eye. “You don’t.”

“That’s the thing about us,” Brandon said as he put an arm around her. “We knew each other before we started making up shit, before we did all the stuff that was expected of us.” He touched her cheek and turned her face back to him. “I bet I know the real Lori, the one maybe no one else sees.”

“That’s interesting,” she said, shifting from his gaze, “because I’m not sure I know who Lori is anymore.”

“You knew back then.”

“Did I?” She looked at him again fiercely. “I can’t remember it at all.”

“You were so smart, Lori. You were gonna save the world.”

“Wow. Should that make me laugh or cry?” Lori turned away. “It’s funny; I always felt most alive when you and I were fighting some cause, being big fat pains in the world’s ass. In the end, though, you scared me.”

“What? How?” He backed off the counter so he could regard her directly.

“You were uncompromising,” she said, “and restless. I was afraid where you would take me.”

Brandon gazed at her, not understanding.

“I guess I wanted my fights to be manageable, family- friendly affairs.” Lori smiled, even as she shook her head. She’d never quite put those old feelings into words before. “Instead, I’ve managed myself into, what? Boredom? Irrelevance? I don’t want to sound melodramatic. I just don’t feel like there’s much left that’s me anymore.”

“You’re an attorney. You went to one of the best law schools in the country.”

“Yeah. My point exactly. I can hardly call myself a professional these days.”

“Stop that. Education doesn’t just fade away, not unless you let it. You’re a mother too. That’s the most important job, even if our hypocritical society only pays it lip service.” Brandon lifted her chin, forced her to look at him.

“You’re right. Being a mom has been my greatest happiness,” Lori paused, “and my undoing.” She looked down again, and went back to a silent place. After a few moments, she spoke to him with puzzlement. “I still can’t believe you have a kid. You were so adamant you didn’t want that.”

“I surprised myself,” Brandon said, leaning back again against the counter. “I think the reason I said those things was because I was afraid. My parents weren’t great role models. I didn’t want to repeat their mistakes.”

“Our kids will say that about us one day; you know that, right?”

Brandon laughed. “It’s true.” He paused as if to elicit a memory. “One day, I’m sure it was more gradual than that; I only remember waking to a sudden, overwhelming need to have a child. It felt like the most important thing, more important than having a wife, though one kind of went with the other.”

“Is that why you married Jocelyn?”

“It was a big part of it. She and I were on and off again for so many years. We either had to break up for good or get married. Never the best circumstances to say, ‘I do.’ Of course, you were already taken.”

“Were you ever happy as a couple?”

Brandon gave a tired sigh. “Yeah. Maybe. Sometimes. Let’s save that conversation for daylight. Do you think you can sleep a little more?”

“I think so.”

“I’ll take you out for coffee in the morning. Have you heard we have a very intense relationship with our coffee in Seattle?”

“I’ve heard something about that.”

The brief banter made Lori feel light on her feet and sleepy. She followed him back to the bedroom. Brandon lifted the covers, climbed in after her, tucked her shoulders inside his own, her head under his chin. Lori was sure she must have tossed and turned, as she often did. Brandon was still holding her just as faithfully when they woke.

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Author Interview

On writing:

How did you do research for your book? 

A: In the bedroom LOL. I wanted to write a romance where a sexual awakening was a key driver of the character’s emotional growth and newfound self-confidence. That meant writing explicit scenes. One of the most challenging aspects was imagining and writing scenes that were “real” and still sexy; and, since there were multiple scenes, that each remained fresh and exciting without resorting to the outlandish.

Where do you get inspiration for your stories?

A: In addition to my novels, I have written a handful of short stories. The inspiration is often my own life, but the stories are never about me. For example, “The Gift,” involves an adoption triad. In fact, my children are adopted; and I have a joyful and loving relationship with each of their birth mothers but the story is not mine but belongs to the characters that I have created.

There are many books out there about….What makes yours different?

A: In particular, there are a lot of romance books out there; as well as reader’s expectations for books in that genre. That doesn’t mean you can’t expand and challenge readers—particularly if that lets you invite in new audiences. Romance novels often neglect the experiences of women closer in age to 50 than 20; women who have to find the courage to start over in midlife; women who must fit love and romance into lives already filled with responsibilities that accrue from the “unseen” work  women do.

In your book you state….why is that?

A: “I believe more is better when it comes to families.”  I believe this statement reflects one side of a fundamental tension and question facing every family — particularly non-traditional families. If your family is built through adoption, or you are a family recovering from divorce, or thinking about blending families through re-marriage — it is complicated. You can say yes, or no, to new and expanded familial relationships. Do you play it safe; or embrace the complications: more connections, potentially more risk, but perhaps more joy.

Do you have another profession besides writing?

Yes, I am an attorney. I work with a collective of STEMM professional societies to help them address sexual harassment in the fields of science and medicine, and to make the fields more equitable and inclusive.

How long have you been writing?

A: For about fourteen years. I did not grow up thinking I would be a writer; it wasn’t really until I was a lawyer working for the US Department of Education that I started to consider writing as an avocation. I was drafting a lot of policy around Title IX, and that particular administration considered it our mission was to write policy for students and educators that was clear, and “real,” and helpful (not filled with government jargon). That got me thinking about writing well, to fit a purpose, as a satisfying puzzle and challenge. I stopped working for a time to raise my kids and I missed that challenge, so once they were both in school I picked up my pad and paper (well, turned on my computer).

Do you ever get writer’s block? What helps you overcome it?

A: I always find it hard to start a new project; the blank page is terrifying to me; and even though I know how much I will enjoy the writing when a project is underway; it is still hard for me to get started.

What is your next project?

A: My big brother, who was my best friend, took his own life about a year ago. I feel like my next project will somehow be related to that experience of loss and grief; the impact of suicide on a family…. For me writing is a wonderful, creative activity, but also an opportunity to figure sh** out.

What genre do you write and why?

A: I have written a “young adult” novel, The Warming Season; and A Midlife Romance falls in the romance genre. I like that a genre provides a frame or structure to work within, yet gives you plenty of room to make it your own.

What is the last great book you’ve read?

A: I am listening to Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner, a book I read a long time ago and thought was one of the best books I had read; we are reading for book club so I’m getting the chance to revisit why I thought so LOL. I love to read, and have lots of favorites. I recently finished The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin and loved it. I’m looking forward to reading Lessons in Chemistry.

Are you similar to or different from your lead character?

A: Both LOL

What were the biggest rewards and challenges with writing your book?

A: I have written both novels and short stories — each is different and challenging in its own way. I love the sparse precision and conciseness required of a short story but then I look forward to the pleasures of length in a novel, to have room for history and backstory; more characters; building context and texture through details; building the arc of a story through individual scenes that feel fluid and necessary. The reward, honestly, comes from reader reviews — a reader you don’t know and might never meet — but who enjoys your story and feels it resonates.

In one sentence, what was the road to publishing like?

A: Not for the faint of heart; It takes courage and resilience. 

What is one piece of advice you would give to an aspiring author?

A: Read Elizabeth Gilbert’s book “Big Magic”

Which authors inspired you to write?

A: Elizabeth Strout; Elizabeth Gilbert; Ann Pachett

On rituals:

Do you write every day?

A: Once I’m in a project, yes. I would like to get better at writing everyday, just for fun and discipline.

In today’s tech savvy world, most writers use a computer or laptop. Have you ever written parts of your book on paper?

A: I wonder about this — it’s hard for me to imagine writing a book on pen and paper — my handwriting is sloppy and hard to read and it gets tiring, and yet I’ve read that using a computer allows a writer to get sloppy with the writing — if something feels off, it’s easier to cut and paste than to start from scratch, which may be what is needed…..

If you’re a mom writer, how do you balance your time?

It’s not easy — you have to use the time your kids are at school; but in the end that’s not a lot of time; so you have to say no to all those volunteer requests! And not feel bad about it!

Fun stuff:

Favorite travel spot?

A: I like to travel. Period. So don’t go back to the same spot. I just took my daughter to Morocco — her birth father is Moroccan. It was so different, and eye-opening, and yet simply lovely to be traveling with my daughter.

What’s the most courageous thing you’ve ever done?

A: After many decades living on the East Coast, and weeks after burying my brother, I drove cross-country in my Prius with my 24 year old son for company, my brother’s dog, and my cat, to start a new life in Whidbey Island, WA. When I bought the Whidbey house several years ago, I was dating a man and thought we would be starting a life together there.  He is no longer in my life, but I made the move and feel grateful to have been welcomed by the Island, and proud to have built a community, friends, and — after the disruption of divorce — a place my kids call home.

If there is one thing you want readers to remember about you, what would it be?

A: My life, like everyone else’s, has proven enormously challenging. I struggled with years of infertility treatment; was abandoned after 20 years of marriage; shepherded one kid through addiction and treatment, another through severe dyslexia; I am still grieving my brother’s suicide. But always — doors have opened: the joy of adoption, the beauty of rebuilding a life out of the dreams I thought lost; to witness the courage in my son’s sobriety and my daughter’s resilience; recommitting to a family in need of healing. Remember to look for the openings….

What TV series are you currently binge watching?

A: Bad Sisters — love it! Dead to Me with my daughter. We love to snuggle and binge together.

What is your favorite thing to do in (current season)?

Moving from summer/fall where I love to play tennis into the short, dark days of winter where I love to sit by the fire and read.

What is something that made you laugh recently?

A: I just spent the Thanksgiving holiday with my immediate, extended family of 25, including my 2 ½ yr old niece. We have a special thing going and playing hide and seek, and making towers that fall and being the tickle monster all had me at full belly laugh!

Who was your childhood celebrity crush?

A: If I tell you, I’ll give away my age LOL

Second Chances: A Midlife Romance Series Book Two by Lisa Battalia Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

As their heated encounters grow more frequent and tensions rise while struggling to balance exes, kids, and work, a more independent Lori seeks to find her second chance with Brandon in author Lisa Battalia’s “Second Chances”, the second book in A Midlife Romance series.

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The Synopsis

Second Chances continues the story of Lori and Brandon’s bicoastal romance. Their sexy, fun weekends, crisscrossing the country to see each other, are bookended by the challenges back home. For Lori, that’s a new home, job search, divorce proceedings, and conflicts with her teenage kids. With newfound confidence, helped by Brandon’s skills in the bedroom and as handyman, cop, and father, Lori revels in a budding independence. Still, there’s no avoiding that their time together is scheduled around the competition (exes, kids, and bosses). Brandon’s aversion to risk, his loyalty to his daughter, and Lori’s increasingly complicated life in Maryland all loom as potential, insurmountable obstacles, and Lori fears that shuttling between disparate worlds will break her. After a particularly empowering sexual encounter, Lori finds the courage to ask for what she wants-a second chance to build a brave new life with Brandon-but taking that risk could mean losing everything.

The Review

The author did not let up on the passion for this second outing in the series. The heat and romance that the characters brought to life were still very palatable on the page, and the atmosphere was thick with both tension and eroticism to seek the erotic romance fans out there. The coast-to-coast setting was felt even more strongly in this outing, as it came with more emotional weight as the stakes rose to all new heights in this novel.

To me, the heart of this story was not in the character’s passions, but in their growth overall. The author found a way to strike a healthy balance between the eroticism and the emotional romance aspect of their relationship quite evenly and allowed the reader to dive head-first into the hills and valleys of their relationship overall. The way the author honed in on what so many middle-aged people deal with in romances, from ex-spouses and wary children to work details and living arrangements, the story felt more realistic and relatable to a great number of readers out there, and still held onto the passion that made the first book so memorable.

The Verdict

Heated, thoughtful, and entertaining, author Lisa Battalia’s “Second Chances” is a great second entry into the erotic romance duology that the author has crafted and a passionate romance to get lost in. The relatability of the characters grows exponentially here, as does the emotional weight of their journey together. The twists and turns in their love story will have readers hanging onto the author’s every word. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Lisa Battalia is an attorney in the field of gender equity and a writer. She is the mother of two newly launched young adults; a lifelong east-coaster who recently launched her own new life on Whidbey Island, WA. 

Her other novels and short stories can be found at www.lisabattalia.com.

Instagram link: https://www.instagram.com/lisabattalia/

https://amzn.to/3OMfLZu

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Now, here is an Exclusive Guest Post from author Lisa Battalia

A Letter to My 50 Year-Old Self,

Take a breath; you’re going to survive; it’s all going to be okay. 

I know you can’t even imagine it but your teenage son, at 24, will call you every week, just to chat, and to tell you how much he appreciates you; and your daughter, just like him, will follow her own path. It won’t look anything like the carefully, curated, unyielding path of so many of the suburban kids around them. They will flounder, deeply despair of what they have lost when your divorce rocked their world and left them feeling utterly without control. With your help, though, with their strength your consistent love has nurtured through all the years leading to the brink, they will be fine.

Yes, you will be on your own again. But you have been on your own before. You are competent; more than that you are smart. Someone will hire you even though you’ve been out of the workforce for so many years; meanwhile Obamacare will pass and you will have health insurance. You will re-learn how to pay the bills and buy a car and apply for a mortgage. You will not — that grotesque, irrational, yet encapsulating fear — eat cat food in your old age. You will shepherd what you have — diminished, cut by half, the practical result of a marriage… a family… a life ended formally, properly, the papers and signature lines all lined up correctly, except the one question they left out: Did you want any of this to happen? 

The surprise will come: Your resources will grow as you lean into abundance. The ironic abundance that arises because you are forced to recalibrate: After the earthquake, teetering on that ragged edge left in its wake, absorbing an emotional wreckage that feels so much more diminished than the tidy division by half the lawyers conjured. Can I be more? Truer to my subjugated dreams, values, and deepest desires? What are those anyway after so many years of “being” for others, giving to others?

The shock will follow. You will be happy again. Not right away, and not without loneliness and despair, but happier than you ever imagined. You will have reimagined a new life — literally transporting yourself to a new location, a place of peaceful beauty. A life of Independence, creativity, joyful in its re-connectedness to family, friends, and… love.

None of this is to say you can skip the hard work that lies ahead, but, my most precious advice, strap in and enjoy the ride.

The Lone Leopard by Sharifullah Dorani Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Politics, religion, and culture clash as one man must return to his home decades after civil war and a question of his cowardice threatened to upend his standing in society in author Sharifullah Dorani’s “The Lone Leopard”.

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The Synopsis

THE LONE LEOPARD is a heart-wrenching, yet hopeful story of family, friendship and love set against the nationalistic and religious conflicts of Afghanistan’s last four decades. 15-year-old Ahmad finds it hard to live by tradition among Russians and ‘Communist Afghans’ in the liberal Makroryan, known as the ‘Little Moscow of Kabul’. It becomes harder with the arrival in the neighbourhood of the 16-year-old Frishta. Naturally, their conflicting outlooks on tradition clash. Frishta calls Ahmad a shameful coward, and Ahmad accuses Frishta of being a ‘bad woman’ who has picked a war with half of the population and their way of life.

Does Ahmad really lack courage and loyalty? Is Frishta really dishonourable? It is 1990s Afghanistan, where a man is stripped of character if he is proved a coward, and where a woman is merely seen as valuable goods, and even a perception of unchastity will lose her all her worth. And, worse, is what Ahmad does to Frishta justifiable? By the time Ahmad and Frishta have answers to these questions, it is too late, and their lives will never be the same. The mujahedeen run over Kabul, and the civil war begins, compelling Ahmad to flee to Russia and then to England.

But Ahmad does not realize that one day he will be forced to return to the homeland where his past catches up with him and puts him in a situation in which he has to choose to either live like a coward, by killing a once-loyal friend, or die with courage.

The Review

The author did an incredible job of crafting a story that both brought to life and examined the history and culture of Afghanistan and infused complex character dynamics with rich storytelling. The contemporary drama explored the historical fiction genres and Middle Eastern history expertly, and the tragedy that often comes to those caught in the crossfire of war and conflict. The exploration of Afghanistan’s somewhat troubled past with women’s rights and the conflict that emerges when faith and belief systems come into play clashes well with the exploration of outside influences bringing innocent civilians and villages into the list of casualties of a war they had nothing to do with.

Yet it was the emphasis on relationships and their impact on the cast of characters that really captured my attention. At the root and heart of this grand narrative of culture and history stands the story of a young man who along with his friends and family witnesses heartbreak, violence, and tragedy and how it impacts his relationships moving forward. The relationship between the protagonist Ahmad and his mother Mourr held a special place in my heart, as it speaks to the strength and resilience that many mothers have as they sacrifice everything for their children. This also lends to the protagonist’s future relationships with others down the road, and the complex questions of morality and culture that play into his development as a character.

The Verdict

Thought-provoking, heartbreaking, and engaging, author Sharifullah Dorani’s “The Lone Leopard” is a must-read historical fiction Middle Eastern and contemporary romance drama novel. The author’s thoughtful and brilliant writing style compliments the volume of history and culture that he brings into the narrative, and the mesmerizing and emotional story that rests at the heart of this novel will have readers hanging onto the author’s every word. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

SHARIFULLAH DORANI was born and raised in Kabul, Afghanistan, and claimed asylum in the UK in 1999. He has undergraduate and master’s degrees in Law from The University of Northampton and UCL, respectively. He completed his PhD on the US War in Afghanistan at Durham University and authored the acclaimed America in Afghanistan. Sharifullah frequently returns to Afghanistan to carry out research. He is currently South Asia and the Middle Eastern Editor at The Centre for Strategic Research and Analysis (CESRAN International) and has written nearly two dozen articles on Afghanistan (and the broader region), international relations and law. He lives with his family in Bedford, England.

The Signs and Wonders of Tuna Rashad by Natasha Deen Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A young woman fully immersed in her Caribbean ancestor’s traditions seeks to find love for herself while also dealing with an overbearing older brother who has just become a widower in author Natasha Deen’s “The Signs and Wonders of Tuna Rashad”.

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The Synopsis

From award-winning, #OwnVoices author Natasha Deen comes a new funny, honest, YA novel following one girl as she tries to win over her crush before she leaves for college.

Let’s be clear. No matter what her older brother, Robby, says, aspiring screenwriter Tuna Rashad is not “stupidstitious.” She is, however, cool with her Caribbean heritage, which means she is always on the lookout for messages from loved ones who have passed on. But ever since Robby became a widower, all he does is hang out at the house, mock Tuna for following in their ancestors’ traditions, and meddle in her life. 

Tuna needs to break free from her brother’s loving but over-bearing ways and get him a life (or at least, get him out of hers!). Based on the signs, her ancestors are on board. They also seem to be on board with helping Tuna win over her crush, Tristan Dangerfield. The only hiccup? She has to do it before leaving for college in the fall. A ticking clock, a grief-stricken brother, and a crush who doesn’t believe in signs. What could possibly go wrong? 

The Review

This was a heartwarming and emotional YA read. The balance of drama and contemporary romance that makes its way into this YA novel was great to see, as the narrative left plenty of room for both humorous dialogues between the cast of characters and profound, meaningful moments that defined the themes of grief, respect for one’s ancestors and culture, and romance and love in all its forms. Including LGBTQ-driven romance in the narrative with one of the characters added another level of depth to the emotional backstory and journey one character underwent. 

The novel was definitely a character-driven narrative. The heart and unique character traits that protagonist Tuna gave the reader were fun to read, as she infused her unique brand of humor and wit into her relationships, showcasing her desire to define her own life while respecting and caring for those around her. The importance that her Caribbean culture had on her character development was so interesting and made for such a memorable reading experience.

The Verdict

Heartfelt, thoughtful, and entertaining, author Natasha Deen’s “The Signs and Wonders of Tuna Rashad” is a must-read YA contemporary romance of 2022. With a diverse cast of characters and truly emotional narrative beats that will keep the reader invested throughout this narrative, readers are going to both love and care for the protagonist and this cast of characters deeply, making this one book you won’t want to put down. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

NATASHA DEEN writes for kids, teens, and adults, and believes the world is changed one story at a time. As a Guyanese-Canadian and a child of immigrants, she’s seen first-hand how stories have the power to shape the world. When she’s not writing, Natasha enjoys visiting schools, libraries and other organizations to help people to find and tell the stories that live inside of them. She also spends an inordinate amount of time trying to convince her pets that she’s the boss of the house. Natasha is the author of the Lark Ba series, the Guardian series, and In the Key of Nira Ghani. Visit Natasha at www.natashadeen.com.

To Render a Raven (Hollystone Mysteries Book 3) by W.L. Hawkin Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A vengeful vampire steals a powerful High Priest’s daughter and forces a coven to work together to bring the child home in author W.L. Hawkin’s “To Render a Raven”, the third book in the Hollystone Mysteries series. 

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The Synopsis

Estrada is High Priest of Hollystone Coven, a shaman and magician. But is he a match for a vengeful vampire? When Diego steals his daughter from her crib on the eve of her first birthday, the Hollystone witches converge. The same night, a woman is murdered and another abducted. All three scenes are marked by roses that point to Michael Stryker, Estrada’s lover and best friend—a man with a strange dark “virus” brewing inside him. As the witches journey up the Pacific coast, emotions run raw as the close confines of a yacht heighten the tension between his jealous lovers. And then they meet the ravens . . .

Diego wants blood. Estrada wants his baby back. What will the high priest sacrifice to bring his daughter home?

A sexy Hitchcockian thriller that demystifies Vampire and illustrates the power of Love.

The Review

By far the most action-packed and yet most emotional of the Hollystone Mysteries series. The author did such an incredible job of building upon the mythos and cultures of the supernatural and paranormal. From unique changes to the vampire mythos and lore to the infusion of Celtic practices and explorations of high strangeness, the author brilliantly captures the magic and wonder of the world in which these characters inhabit.

Yet what stands out to me is the way the author was able to bring real human connection and emotion into this very supernatural world. The emotional connection the protagonist Estrada has with both the mother of his child and his current love interest really pulls at the heartstrings, and the heart-pounding terror that the abduction of Estrada’s child brings to mind is sure to play on the frayed nerves of any parent reading this story. The theme of facing our own inner darkness and learning to sacrifice our needs to protect those we love came through strongly thanks to these relationships and helped elevate the overall dangers the narrative brought to life.

The Verdict

Harrowing, engaging, and captivating, author W.L. Hawkin’s “To Render a Raven” is a must-read contemporary romance and fantasy novel and the perfect addition to the Hollystone Mysteries series. The intensity and passion the characters hold onto one another and the elevated danger that that intensity brings to the narrative were an instant draw for readers, and the heartbreaking twists and turns will have readers hanging off of the author’s every word until the climactic final chapter. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

W. L. Hawkin writes edgy urban fantasy with a twist of murder. Described as “intoxicating, lush, magically-edgy, page-turners,” her Hollystone Mysteries series features a coven of local witches who solve murders using their wits and ritual magic with a little help from the gods. Wendy is also a published blogger, a regular reviewer with the Ottawa Review of Books, Indie publisher and poet, with a background in Indigenous Studies and English literature. She loves myth and magic, so when she’s not writing, she’s studying Druidry, shamanism, and mediumship. Although she is an introvert, in each book, her characters go on a journey where she has traveled herself. Wendy completed a BA in Indigenous Studies at Trent University, and later, Post-Baccalaureate Diplomas in Humanities and a Teaching Certificate at Simon Fraser University, Canada. Fascinated by her Celtic and Tuscarora ancestry, she explores history, myth, and spirituality in her work. Born in Toronto, Canada, she currently lives in British Columbia.

The Bookshop Rescue (Furever Yours Book 9) by Rochelle Alers Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Two people hurt by the past and brought together by a shared love for animals find themselves drawn together and forced to face the past in order to have a future in author Rochelle Alers’s “The Bookshop Rescue”, the ninth book in the Furever Yours series.

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The Synopsis

Bookshop owner—and recently heartbroken—Lucy Tucker never imagined how dramatically life would change once she started fostering Buttercup, a pregnant golden retriever. The biggest change? Growing a lot closer to the businessman next door, Calum Ramsey, especially after the two of them help Buttercup welcome her five puppies into the world. One romantic night later, and they’re expecting a baby of their own! Stunned at first, steadfastly single Calum is now dutifully offering marriage. But Lucy doesn’t need rescuing. She wants the true-blue happy ending they both deserve.

The Review

The emotional growth these two people shared with one another and their own tragic pasts really made this story shine so brightly. The instant attraction they feel for one another and their hesitancy after a painful past and the fears they brought made this story feel real and alive on the page. The small-town setting and intimate setting really allowed the intimacy of the characters and their relationship to thrive and grow in this narrative.

As a pet owner and pet parent, the shared love for the pregnant Golden Retriever and how they took care of the golden retriever together was so amazing to read. It served as a great metaphor for their circumstances later on, as a surprise pregnancy will put these two on a wild and insane journey of romance and responsibility. The balance found between the whirlwind romance of their narrative and the realities of life beyond the initial romance were great to see portrayed here.

The Verdict

Captivating, engaging, and heartwarming, author Rochelle Alers’s “The Bookshop Rescue” is a must-read modern-day romance and an emotional story overall. The intimate nature of this romance and the realism and honesty with which their relationship was examined made this story so entertaining, and the natural progression of their romance will have readers hanging off of the author’s every word. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Hailed by readers and booksellers alike as one of today’s most popular African-American authors of women’s fiction, Ms. Alers is a regular on bestsellers list, and has been a recipient of numerous awards, including the Vivian Stephens Award for Excellence in Romance Writing and a Zora Neale Hurston Literary Award.  Visit her Web site www.rochellealers.com

https://rochellealers.org/

Olympian Love (Olympian Love Trilogy Book 3) by Andrya Bailey Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A heartbreaking end to her whirlwind romance comes back full circle after a chance encounter with her former flame’s rival brings back her true love, and the agonizing reality of what happened between them in author Andrya Bailey’s “Olympian Love”, the third book in the Olympian Love Trilogy.

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The Synopsis

The third book in the Olympian Love trilogy – not a stand-alone volume.

When she returns to Houston after leaving Nikos in Greece during one of the most troublesome times of his life, Sabrina is miserable and heartbroken. She promised Maggie she would never talk to him again – that was part of their deal which resulted in her ultimate sacrifice.

Her graduation is upon her, but she can’t get Nikos out of her mind. A chance encounter with Aleksy, Nikos’s rival, reopens her wounds, and when she learns Nikos will be back in town, she’s beside herself. Would he ever forgive her? Tormented between breaking her promise to Maggie, which could have dire consequences, and afraid of losing Nikos forever, she faces an agonizing reality. Will she ever have the courage to answer him ‘why’ and reconquer the man she loves?

The Review

The delicate balance of heated passion and heartbreaking romance is powerfully explored early on in this read. The author brilliantly explores the tragedy and painful experience of love lost and the experience of having to sacrifice one’s love for a powerful cause. The imagery and tone the author strikes with this narrative are so vivid in detail and make the scenes come to life in the reader’s mind. I will say that while the book can be read as a stand-alone for newcomers like me to the series, having read the previous books in this trilogy will definitely add more depth and emotional connection to these amazing characters.

The character growth and the heat in the main character’s interactions are definitely the heart of this story. The raw emotions that Sabrina experiences as she returns to her home and struggles with the sacrifices she had to make are heartbreaking to read, and feel so real that readers want to reach out and comfort the young woman. Yet the balance to that emotion comes with the raw heat and passion that strikes between her and Nikos once more in this story, and as the complexity of their relationship is explored, so too are the depths of their need for one another, creating a very heated and adult narrative.

The Verdict

Passionate, entertaining, and captivating, author Andrya Bailey’s “Olympian Love” is the perfect final chapter of this enrapturing Greek romance. The highs and lows of Sabrina’s journey and the exhilarating backdrop of Greek history and mythos were extremely engaging to read about, and fans will be eager to dive deep into her entanglements with Nikos once more. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Andrya Bailey is an award-winning contemporary romance writer. She enjoys traveling and visiting museums and historical landmarks where she can learn about art and history, which she usually incorporates into her stories. She loves to write love stories with strong alpha males and exotic scenarios – after all, what better romance fantasy is there?

Olympian Passion, the first book in the Olympian Love trilogy, has received the 5-star seal from Readers’ Favorite and is the 2016 New Apple Literary e-book Contemporary Romance – Solo Medalist winner. Olympian Heartbreak, the second book, is a 2018 New Apple Literary “official selection” in the romance category.

Follow her Facebook page to find out more at facebook.com/andryabailey and on Twitter: @andyb0810.

Sign up for her newsletter: eepurl.com/dgdaqD

Website: andryabailey.com

Forever Home by Elysia Whisler Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A retired Marine hoping to see her dreams of owning a motorcycle repair and sales garage finds her late father’s motorcycle stolen from her shop, and the detective who has found himself enamored with her goes to work to solve the crime in author Elysia Whisler’s “Forever Home”.

The Synopsis

If home is where the heart is, Dogwood County may have just what Delaney Monroe needs.

Newly retired from the Marine Corps, Delaney is looking for somewhere to start over. It’s not going to be easy, but when she finds the perfect place to open her dream motorcycle shop, she goes for it. What she doesn’t expect is an abandoned pit bull to come with the building. The shy pup is slow to trust, but Delaney is determined to win it over.

Detective Sean Callahan is smitten from the moment he sees Delaney, but her cool demeanor throws him off his game. When her late father’s vintage motorcycle is stolen from Delaney’s shop, Sean gets to turn up in his element: chasing the bad guy and showing his best self to a woman who’s gotten under his skin in a bad way.

Delaney isn’t used to lasting relationships, but letting love in – both human and canine – helps her see that she may have found a place she belongs, forever.

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The Review

This is such a well-balanced and engaging story. The way the author is able to weave themes of PTSD, how military service impacts those who come home, loss and opening ourselves up to the possibility of love into this narrative set against the backdrop of a crime mystery and a slow-burn romance was truly entertaining. The vibrant yet muted imagery of the story’s setting really felt cinematic in its delivery, making this such an incredible read.

What was so mesmerizing was the character’s arcs in this narrative. The heavy exploration of romance between the two protagonists felt so realistic to real life. I’ve always felt there is a time and place for both magical-inspired fairytale romances and real-world, gritty romances that take time to build, and that’s what makes this novel shine so brightly. The strength and courage these two find in one another, both in challenging each other and then in working together, was inspired to see, and how each helped the other overcome past pains were so fun to watch come together in this novel.

The Verdict

A memorable, emotional, and gripping romance, author Elysia Whisler’s “Forever Home” is such a unique and entertaining women’s fiction and contemporary romance read. A true one-of-a-kind read that shows romance in an entirely new setting and creates a love that feels very real and relatable all at once, this is one novel you will not want to miss. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Elysia Whisler was raised in Texas, Italy, Alaska, Mississippi, Nebraska, Hawaii, and Virginia, in true military fashion. If she’s not writing she’s probably working out, coaching, or massaging at her CrossFit gym. She lives in Virginia with her family, including her large brood of cat and dog rescues, who vastly outnumber the humans.

Buy Links: 

BookShop.org

Harlequin 

Barnes & Noble

Amazon

Books-A-Million

Powell’s 

Social Links:

Author Website

Twitter: @ElysiaWhisler

Facebook: @ElysiaWhisler

Instagram: @Elysiawhisler

Goodreads

Here is an Excerpt From Forever Home

ONE

Three Rebels Street.

Delaney should’ve known that this was where she’d end up. This was the kind of street a woman went down when all the big changes in her life were happening at once. You simply couldn’t hit a retirement ceremony, the road and a funeral all in one week and not end up on Three Rebels Street.

Small is not the right word. I prefer quaint.” The real estate agent, Ronnie, gazed around the studio apartment situated on Three Rebels Street, and nodded her head in approval. “You said it was just for you, right? Which means it’s the perfect size.”

Stop trying to sell me on the apartment. Ronnie had described it as an “alcove studio”—not just a studio—because even though the living room and kitchen were all in one large space, the bedroom was situated in a little nook, with its own door. Delaney didn’t care. The living quarters didn’t really matter. Right now the place was dumpy. Dust everywhere, the ceiling fan hanging crooked with exposed wires, and debris in the corners, like the previous tenants hadn’t taken care of the place and then left in a hurry.

“We didn’t have a chance to get this cleaned before your showing,” Ronnie said, following Delaney’s gaze. “Remember, I suggested waiting until Friday.”

But Delaney hadn’t been able to wait.

Ronnie lowered her voice to a near whisper. “They were evicted. But this place cleans up nice, I promise.”

“Can we go back down to the shop?” Delaney ran her hands through her hair, rubbing the weariness from her scalp. Ronnie had whisked them through the front bay door and up the stairs, like the apartment was the prize inside the cereal box. And Delaney supposed it was—small, an add-on, not really the point. For Delaney, the shop downstairs was the entire point.

“Of course.” Ronnie’s voice was bright, forced, like she didn’t give two shits. This was probably her last showing of the day and she wanted to get home, into a hot bath with a glass of red as soon as possible. She clacked down the stairs in her high heels.

Delaney followed, the earthy clunk of her motorcycle boots the bass drum in the cacophony of their feet.

“The shop.” Ronnie swept out her arm. “Look how much space.” There was no enthusiasm in her voice. Ronnie, who probably did mostly living spaces, had no idea how to sell the garage.

Didn’t matter. Delaney sized up the shop herself: concrete floor, perfect for working on bikes. It was kind of dinged up, but that was okay, she was already envisioning painting it beige with nonslip floor paint. Modern fluorescent lighting. Large bay door, wide-open to the cool air, excellent for ventilation. A countertop with a register. Empty shelves on one side for parts and motor clothes. Showroom space for custom bikes, and enough room for at least two workspaces out front. The rest, Delaney would provide. Hydraulic lifts. Workbench. Parts tank. Tools. Parts. Bikes.

She wanted to pinch herself, but chose a poker face. Ronnie stood in the center of the floor, like she was trying to avoid touching anything, to avoid getting any grease or oil on her smart red suit. The shop was in better condition than the apartment, but it still looked like the last occupants had left quickly—or, if they’d truly been evicted, perhaps reluctantly was a better word. Nothing important remained, but the place hadn’t been swept or washed or readied for sale in any manner.

“I’ll consider this.” Delaney rubbed her chin as she strode through the shop. “It’s a little small.” It was actually larger than she’d expected. “Light’s good, but might get a little cold in the winter.” It was winter now, technically. Mid-March. Delaney loved this time of year, when winter and spring intersected, like lovers making up after a nasty fight, the weather edgy and unpredictable.

“There’s a lot of interest in this space.” Ronnie clutched her clipboard to her chest as she looked around. She could be looking at the inside of a spaceship and hold that same expression.

Motorcycle shops were going out of business, all over the place, including the one that had recently vacated. After suddenly finding herself on Three Rebels Street last week, in front of a shop-apartment combo for sale, Delaney had done her research. The previous tenants, who she now knew had been evicted, were brothers who ran a shop by day and lived upstairs by night. They sold mostly new bikes and motorcycle gear. Repairs and maintenance were basic. Their website was still up, despite the fact that Dude’s Bikes had closed. Dude’s appeared to focus mostly on male riders, leaving Delaney to wonder if Dude’s was just about dudes or if one of the owners was, indeed, named Dude. 

“What’s the story on this place?”

Ronnie glanced at her clipboard. “The owner wants to sell. After the last renters’ lease ran out, they were given the option of buying or moving. I don’t think their shop was doing well, because they couldn’t afford to buy. They weren’t even paying their rent. And they weren’t quick about moving. The rest, as they say, is history.”

If the last motorcycle shop had failed, buying would be a gamble. But any business venture was a gamble.

Life was a gamble.

“There are a couple of people looking, after you.” Ronnie continued, “About five.”

Delaney could respect white lies in the sales biz but seriously? Five? Five or so people were waiting to check out the bike shop with an overhead apartment suitable for one small, low-maintenance tenant? She had no idea how two brothers had managed up there.

She strolled through the space, wanting a good feel. She needed to touch things, inhale the shop, draw its molecules into her lungs and taste its history before she could decide on the symbiosis of her dream space. Triple M Classics—short for Martin Monroe’s Motorcycles, named after her father—would own her as much as she would it, so this relationship was going to be deep and mutual. Through the front window, she could see the parkway that ran the length of the county. At just past eighteen-hundred hours, rush hour was a jam of red taillights in the waning daylight. No amount of time would erase Delaney’s memory of her last tour here, when she had to commute to work every day. Pure hell. It would be nice to go right upstairs to her cozy little apartment after closing, rather than having to sit in that mess.

Across the street was a row of shops, including a grocery story and an Italian restaurant. Food. Check. 

On the south side, the shop butted up to the woods, which had a downward slope of grass and weeds that led to the trees. Privacy. Double check. Plus, Delaney figured if there was a tornado, that slope could count as a ditch, and would probably be the safest place to run. She laughed at herself. This wasn’t Omaha. Virginia tornado season consisted of a few warnings that rarely panned out.

Delaney withdrew the listing, printed from the internet, from her back pocket, crammed together with a grocery receipt for extra firm tofu, Tater Tots and Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia. “This is the price, right?” She handed over the paper. Money would be tight, but Delaney should be able to manage for a little while until things got going.

That is, if she was going to do this.

Was she really going to do this?

All her adult life Delaney had moved around, from station to station. Forts, camps, bases. Not shops. Not homes. She’d never put down roots. Never had anything permanent other than her childhood home with Dad. Never owned a thing she couldn’t cram into a duffel bag.

Ronnie looked at the paper. “No.” She sniffed. “There’s a newer listing.” She flipped through her clipboard, laid it on the counter and pointed. “Here we go.”

Delaney looked at the asking price, choked a little bit, almost thanked Ronnie for her time and left. That would be the smart thing to do. Sometimes childhood dreams just needed to stay dreams.

She strode around once more, mentally saying goodbye to everything that she’d never even made hers. Even though all of this had been a panster move, it felt like all the blood in her veins had been replaced with disappointment. She stopped by the far wall, where a ratty piece of paper hung by a sliver 

of tape. Delaney smoothed out the curled edges and read the flyer.

Fiftieth Annual Classic Motorcycle Show.

Dogwood County Fairgrounds.

The event was in July. There was a contest, including prizes. The grand prize for the winning classic cycle was five grand plus a feature article in Ride magazine.

The disappointment started to drain away. Five grand wouldn’t pay all the bills, but exposure in a major motorcycle magazine would be a boon for business. Plus, there was something about that poster, just hanging there like that.

It seemed like a sign.

Excerpted from Forever Home by Elysia Whisler, Copyright © 2021 by Elysia Whisler. Published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.

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Q&A with Elysia Whisler

Q: This is the second book in a series? Do you have plans to write more books in this series?

A: Yes! “Becoming Family” is Book 3 in the Dogwood County series. It will be out in August of 2022. I have hopes for a couple more books in the series after that, too!

Q: What should the reader know if they have not read the first book in the series?

A: So far, the early readers think Forever Home does really well as a standalone if you have not read Book 1. The only thing I’d add, if you have not read Book 1, be prepared that I always have 3 points of view. Some traditional romance readers like to see the POV go between two love interests but I always have a third POV that typically sets up the next book. This third POV does not get as much space as the other two but just be prepared for it. I know it’s unusual but I’m okay with that. 

Q: Where do you get your story ideas from?

A: My stories usually start with a single scene or idea that I build around. With Rescue You I worked around the idea of how everyone (human or animal, male or female)  can be either the hero or the saved in life, depending on the situation. With Forever Home, I wanted a super strong female lead to match up for my detective character from Book 1. My teen daughter had just finished getting her motorcycle license and it hit me … my heroine was going to be a badass biker chick. We see so many guys on motorcycles in romance and the women are always on the back. I wanted a heroine who drove her own bike and a man strong enough to love that.

Q: Are you a plotter or pantser when it comes to writing?

A: Mostly a pantster. I usually have a broad concept of the story, have a beginning and an end and usually a midpoint idea. Then I start writing and once I’ve got the opening (first 30-50) I’ll go back and outline a little more. Then write. Then outline. Etc.

Q: What is a fun fact about you?

A: I love to read horror, especially literary horror. I read everything — I don’t care about genre, only good storytelling and solid writing — but 75% of my TBR pile is horror/thriller/mystery. 

Q: You grew up in the military and moved around quite a bit. Did you enjoy this? How do you think it has affected the stories you write?

A: Moving around was a mixed bag. I loved getting to travel and go to new places. I actually adored the traveling part — by plane, train, car. I made up stories in my head about being a fugitive running off to new lands. I’d spend a lot of plane/car time writing by hand. The hard part was getting to the new places and having to establish all new friendships and schools. I barely ever got to see extended family (grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins). I never had that community of people I grew up with. That said, I wouldn’t trade my life for anyone’s. I got to experience so many different lands, cultures, climates. Living in Alaska at a young age in particular instilled in me a great love for the natural world that I’m grateful for to this day. All of that informed my writing in a big way. There’s definitely something to be said for seeing the world, getting outside your bubble and having that experience. The best compliments I get are on my characters being complex and real and I credit that directly to all the moving around I did. When you’re always new you have to be quiet, pay attention, watch and understand. You learn a lot that way.