Toasted by Isobel Reed – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Isobel Reed will award a $10 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Welcome to Woodvalley Pines…where hunky firefighters save the day! It’s time to turn up the heat and hope this smokin’ hot fireman can control the blaze.

Libby hadn’t even been in Woodvalley Pines a day and she was already freaking out. Her kitchen had just set on fire. From toast of all things! That’s right, she was the victim of the elusive toaster fire. Yes, a toaster. Who knew they could just spontaneously burst into flames? She certainly didn’t. If that wasn’t enough to ruin her day, a swarm of hot firefighters seeing her in her pink pajamas would do it.

Zach tried his hardest not to laugh as the woman in the Disney pajamas accused him of keeping toaster fire safety a secret. He didn’t know where in the world this angry green-eyed princess had come from, but he had to admit that he was intrigued. After all, if she had this much passion when it came to talking toasters, what other kind of flames could he stoke in her?

Libby and Zach’s spark was instant, but will the fire burn out or can they keep the flames blazing?

Enjoy an Excerpt

How does a frigging toaster just spontaneously combust?

Was this a thing? How was it possible she’d gone thirty-one years of her life without knowing toasters could just set alight whenever they damn well felt like it?

People should really talk about this. Spread the word far and wide. Beware of the toaster. It may look innocent, but it will burn your house to the ground when you least expect it. Why the hell weren’t more people talking about this?

It was starting to get smoky now. She needed to get herself together. Quick. At least she’d stopped screaming. Well, externally, anyway.

“Get your sh** together,” she mumbled before stumbling back into the living area behind her. The front door was just to the left of the main room.

Time to go. Come on, move Libby. Move.

She didn’t move. Her feet were glued to the floor. Suddenly, she heard a knock on the door. Was it a neighbor? Or was it the firefighters? Did firefighters knock?

She clearly didn’t react fast enough because the next thing she knew, a battering ram had made its way into her living room.

As men in uniform descended, she was still yet to move.

“Ma’am, you need to come with me, it’s not safe in here.” As she lifted her head, she realized the man’s fierce blue eyes were directed her way. Boring into her. Oh dear. He did not look happy.

Probably ‘cause you stood here staring at the fire like a freak instead of getting the hell out like the nice lady told you.

Jolting in awareness, she quickly nodded and allowed herself to be led outside by the big, strong man.

Once he’d steered her through the front yard, he gestured for her to sit on the curb. She did so without question, wincing as her bare legs grazed the cool concrete. Internally, she cringed as she looked down at what she was wearing.

They probably see women in pajamas all the time, right?

About the Author:

Isobel was born and raised in London. She still lives along the River Thames with her husband, her son, and her substantial book collection. Ever the hopeless romantic, she fell in love with the genre from a young age and was inspired to write her own stories. When she’s not feasting on romantic comedies or binge reading her hoard of contemporary romance novels, Isobel is writing.

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Weston’s Lady by Bobbi Smith – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Bobbi Smith will award a randomly drawn winner a $10 Amazon/BN GC. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Version 1.0.0

Come One! Come All!
To Weston’s Wild West Texas Stampede

There were Cowboys and Indians, trick riding, thrills and excitement for everyone. And if Liberty Jones had anything to say about it, she would be a part of the show, too. She had demonstrated her expertise with a gun by shooting a playing card out of Reed Weston’s hand at thirty paces, but the arrogant owner of the stampede wouldn’t even give her a chance.

Disguising herself as a boy, Libby wrangled herself a job with the show, and before she knew it Reed was firing at her—in front of an audience. It seemed an emotional showdown was inevitable whenever they came together, but Libby had set her sights on Reed’s heart and she vowed she would prove her love was every bit as true as her aim.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Reed opened the door to his private wagon and stood back to let Libby enter ahead of him. She swept past him, her manner dignified and ladylike, in spite of her masculine attire.

“Have a seat.” He motioned to one of the chairs at the small table.

“No, thank you. I prefer to stand.”

“Have it your way,” he said sharply. “It seems you don’t listen well, Miss Jones. As I recall, I told you I wasn’t hiring for the show—and I especially wasn’t hiring any women.”

“I hired on as a boy,” she retorted.

Reed’s gaze raked over her. “So I see. How ingenuous of you.”

“You wouldn’t give me a chance! I’m good and I just proved it tonight! The performance would have been a disaster if I hadn’t stopped the runaway team in time! The audience thought it was a regular part of the act.”

“I could tell,” he answered, irritated by the whole situation.

“I can help you with the show,” Libby went on, trying not to sound desperate. If he fired her, she had no money, and nowhere else to go.

“I don’t need your help, Miss Jones.”

“But you wouldn’t want to disappoint the public, would you?”

“You know, you’re right. You are worth a lot of money to me. You wanted a job with Weston’s Wild West Texas Stampede—well, you’ve got one. You’re officially Weston’s Lady.”

“Know this, Reed Weston—I am worth a lot of money to you, and I’ll earn ever cent of it working for the Stampede, but that’s the only place I’m going to be Weston’s Lady.”

“We both know you’re not a lady, and I’m not sure you’re much of a woman.” Even as he said it, Reed knew it was a lie. She looked beautiful as she challenged him. Her hair was a glorious golden mane of curls about her shoulders and high color stained her cheeks.

Libby reacted without thought, swinging out at him.

Reed snared her wrist to stop her when she would have slapped him, and he jerked her to him.

In that instant, his awareness of everything except Libby faded. He drew her near, slowly, deliberately. He wanted this—no, he needed this. He needed to taste her passion.

Libby found herself frozen, held captive by the unfathomable look in Reed’s eyes.

Their lips met, and time seemed suspended as his mouth settled over hers in a possessive brand, claiming her sweetness for his own.

About the Author: After working as a department manager for Famous-Barr, and briefly as a clerk at a bookstore, Bobbi Smith gave up on career security and began writing. She sold her first book to Zebra in 1982. Since then, Bobbi has written over 40 books and several short stories. To date, there are more than five million of her novels in print. She has been awarded the prestigious Romantic Times Storyteller of the Year Award and two Career Achievement Awards. Her books have appeared on numerous bestseller lists. When she’s not working on her novels, she is frequently a guest speaker for writers’ groups. Bobbi is mother of two sons and resides in St. Charles, Missouri with her husband and three dogs.

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Pursuit of Innocence by Bethany Rosa – Q&A and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. A randomly drawn winner will receive a $25 Amazon/BN gift card. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

What are your favorite TV shows?

I love, love, love Schitt’s Creek and Ted Lasso. I’m not a big laugh-out-loud type of person, but those two shows can certainly get me going. Game of Thrones is also the only other series I’ve watched entirely. I usually get bored. I also like government conspiracy shows like Reacher and Jack Ryan. I don’t watch TV very often. If I have free time, I’m reading.

What is your favorite meal?

I don’t know if I can pick a favorite; I love to eat. Ahi tuna sashimi has been my recent fav. Lasagna, Thai fried rice, steak, and lobster are a few others.

If you were to write a series of novels, what would it be about?

Well, I am. They’re all about pursuing love and exploring passion—two things everyone should have in their life.

Is there a writer you idolize? If so, who?

Too many to name. I idolize the authors who are true to their writing and persevere in the face of criticism. I especially idolize those who do it themselves without the help of a big-name publisher, but I think no less of those who do. I’ll mention two authors because, in my opinion, they deserve it. E L James, because she must have thick skin for some of the horrible things people say. You can dislike a book, but to be downright mean is uncalled for. I love her entire story of success. As well as Stephanie Meyer for many of the same reasons. Plus, their books are some of my favorites.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

It was initially just Innocence, but I discovered the market is saturated with books by that title. I knew I wanted to keep the word innocence in the title, so I brainstormed different possibilities and availability before choosing. Pursuit made sense because that is what these men are doing, pursuing Lily, and she is the embodiment of innocence, so it just worked.

“I’m done waiting around. You’re mine. No more games or pining over someone else when it’s me you want. You won’t remember his name after I get through with you.”

Lily knows exactly what she wants in life. To graduate, land a high-paying job, and forge her own way. Nothing will distract her. Until the ultimate playboy, billionaire Sebastian Dubree, barges in. Not to be overlooked, Lily’s longtime crush, Jackson, decides she’s worth the fight.

Reluctant to succumb to either, she quickly becomes a challenge to conquer.

Lily must decide between the familiarity of her childhood longing or the newly discovered passion ignited by the dominant CEO. But can she surrender without losing herself in the process, or will someone take matters into his own hands?

Boundaries blur between desire and resistance in this gripping coming-of-age romance, leaving readers yearning for more.

Enjoy an Excerpt

I hit a wall. A solid, warm wall that smells dreadfully sinful. Before I have time to process, two firm hands are on my shoulders to steady me. “Hey, watch where you’re going” comes the deepest, sexiest voice imaginable, which would be incredibly hot if the words spoken were anything other than rude and demanding. Looking up, which is crazy, considering I’m one step higher, I freeze as my eyes land on a dark, handsome god of a man who looks like he wants to commit murder. What is it with me and jerks tonight?

His eyes get bigger, and his brows furrow as soon as my shocked gaze meets his. He has short black hair that’s longer on the top and styled perfectly. His menacing eyebrows are folded downward from scowling at me. The dark scruff that shadows his face is so sexy, trimmed razor straight, accentuating his perfectly chiseled jaw. Mentally slapping myself, I apologize.

“Crap, I’m so sorry. I didn’t see you there.” He doesn’t release his hold.

“That’s because your head was down. Your eyes should be looking forward.” His voice is hard and demanding.

Flustered and—I reluctantly admit—slightly turned on by his strong, firm grip and penetrating stare, I stand there frozen in place. After what seems like minutes but I’m sure is only seconds, I snap out of it and apologize again. “Sorry, I’ll watch where I’m going from now on.” The words rush out as I pull away to leave, this time keeping my head up. I think I hear him say something else behind me, but I don’t stop. Running into one of the hottest guys I’ve seen in a while should’ve been the highlight of my night. Instead, I’m more irritated. Do all good-looking men have a license to be an ass?

About the Author: Bethany Rosa raised four amazing daughters before fulfilling her dream to become a writer. Her goal is to ignite passion in readers through her erotically charged stories. When not immersed in writing, Bethany finds joy in life traveling the world alongside her husband of 25 years. Home is divided between the mountains of Montana and the Arizona sunshine.

 

 

 

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How to Handle Negative Criticism by D.W. Brooks – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. D.W. Brooks will award a randomly drawn winner a $15 Amazon/BN GC. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

How to Handle Negative Criticism

So, you finally hit publish on your novel, blog post, newspaper article, or narrative poem.

Or someone else hits ‘publish’.

Either way, your baby that you sweated over is out in the world. You anxiously await the comments and reviews of your work. Will there be accolades, some written high fives? You know you did great work on this piece and can’t wait to bask in the recognition of your skill. You settle in to wait…

But the unexpected and unwanted happens. Someone stops to tell the world that they don’t like your piece. They identify flaws, lapses in reasoning, errors in judgement. They don’t see the masterpiece, just a collection of random, incorrectly planned words placed one after the other. And the part that you thought was so clever—they say not so much.

Those words feel like a stab through your heart. Now what? Should you defend your work and write an angry screed excoriating the negative reviewer? Should you slink away to a corner and never put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) again? How can you ever show your face—virtual or actual—in writing circles again?

These are some thoughts that go through your mind when you receive negative criticism of your work. I won’t lie: it’s hard, and it hurts. Very few writers make it through this industry without running into negative reviews somewhere. And there are different ways to deal with them, ranging from terrible reactions to doing the best you can under the circumstances.

*Angry Screed: This might feel the most gratifying but is the worst choice out there. Who wouldn’t love to attack the person who didn’t like your work and had the temerity to say so out loud?

Bad idea, BAD IDEA! This creates a difficult dynamic between the writer and the review community. Most people agree reviews are for the reading community and not the author. And attacking someone because of their opinion is a bad look and will garner you bad press in this hyperreactive social media world. The main thing you must keep in mind is that your work, be it a novel, short story, poem, essay, or other, is NOT for everyone. This person didn’t get you or what you were trying to say. They weren’t your intended audience. But keep working so you can find the people who get your work. Also, if you are sensitive about reviews, don’t read them. Spare yourself the pain.

*Accept defeat and quit writing. That’s an option. But not a good one if you are serious about your craft. You can’t let one person run you off from what you want to do. And really, one person’s opinion should not be the be-all, end-all about your ability.

*Read the reviews and analyze the comments. Take advantage of opportunities to fine tune and improve. This can be difficult and really depends on your skin thickness. If you find you take criticism personally, you might be better off skipping reading your reviews or having a friend screen them!

*Don’t sweat the reviews and continue your journey. Nurse your feelings as needed and work on steeling your spine. That’s easy to say, I know—I am still working on this skill myself.

There are several ways to handle negative criticism. There is no one right way, but there is one really flawed way, which can make your writing life more difficult. You should decide how you want to deal with negative reviews and criticism early in your process.

A dead body in the parking lot of her family’s business, a killer on the loose, and a handsome detective asking a lot of questions…

Jamie Scott’s life fell apart four years ago when she broke off her engagement, turned down a dream job, and went overseas to run away from her life. Now she’s back, but the reunion is not without problems. She arrives home just in time to attend the soiree her mother planned, but she’s not prepared for what she finds—a dead employee in the parking lot.

Detective Nick Marshall is assigned to the murder case at the forensics lab owned by Jamie’s family. He meets the headstrong Jamie, but he has a job to do. And his attraction to her… well, he’s a professional.

Jamie knows the stakes are high. She has to face the past and save her parents’ business while dealing with her family drama and an uncertain future. She also has to deal with Nick, who wants her out of the way of his investigation. But fate keeps throwing them in one another’s paths… and into chaos that they both want to avoid, but neither can seem to escape.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Jamie entered the simply appointed room decorated in blue, white, and seafoam green. The attached bathroom incorporated blue and white colors. Jamie sat on the edge of the bed and looked around the room. Since she never lived here, the room didn’t hold many personal touches, as did Jon’s and Jillian’s rooms. There were plenty of pillows, a complete set of cherry wood bedroom furniture, and a mid- sized flat-screen TV above the chest of drawers. It represented a fitting guest room since she was now a guest—a nervous guest at that. What if her mother verbally eviscerated her again? Could she deal? Jamie realized she was delaying her meeting with her mom for as long as possible. What else could she do to kill time?

She peeked in the closet to see if she had left any clothes behind from four years ago. Unfortunately, she found nothing that would be appropriate for what would be a formal event on Sunday night.

She went into the bathroom and removed her baseball cap to inspect the state of her hair in the mirror. It was fine for a quiet home visit, but not for a dressy affair. Jamie had let her relaxer grow out while she was out of the country. She typically flat-twisted her natural hair to emphasize the wave pattern. Before this trip, she had only washed, conditioned, and air-dried her hair, thinking that she would have some time after her arrival to moisturize and comb it. Now, it was just squashed down by her hat. Ugh. Since she wouldn’t be able to prep before talking to her mother, she would have to atone by looking her best for the party. For such a formal affair, she would have to visit a salon for a trim and style.

There was a knock on the bedroom door. “Come in!” Jamie yelled as she tucked her cap back onto her head and came out of the bathroom. Jon placed her bags inside her door. “Mother is waiting for you downstairs. I’m going to my room to avoid the tearful reunion.” He didn’t live there anymore but still called his childhood room “his room”.

Jamie sighed. Time to woman up. “OK. Let me wash my face, and I’ll be down. Where is she, exactly?” she inquired.

“Still in the study. Good luck.”

About the Author:The author is a doctor and editor who lives in Texas with her husband and children. She enjoys trying to stay in shape, sporadically cooking, reading (still), writing, and working on her blog. She is eternally grateful to the woman who donated a kidney to her over 5 years ago and continues to advocate for organ donation as much as she can.

To learn more about D. W. Brooks and future publications and events, visit her website.

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Seven Days at Mannerley by Audrey Schuyler Lancho

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will award a $20 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

The suitcase she found changed everything. The contents? An elegant dress and an invitation in another girl’s name. Twenty-three-year-old Mary would go to the ball, enjoy how the rich lived just for one night, and then quietly slip back into her real life, sorting rubbish as a poor barmaid. No harm done. Of course, there wouldn’t be much of a story to tell had it turned out that way.

It’s 1870 in rural England, and Mary assumes the identity of the suitcase owner, Agnes. When Mary’s one night at Mannerley estate turns into a seven-day, hilarious farce, she quickly makes friends, finds suitors, and keeps fibbing. Not only does Arthur, the heir himself, fall for her, but so, too, does Mr. Singh, his friend visiting from India, making advances in plain sight of the heir. Making matters worse, a former workmate recognizes Mary and extorts her: she must steal a golden watch from the heir for him or have her true identity exposed and risk being thrown in jail, which could mean death–and that would certainly ruin her stolen, er, borrowed ball gown.

The only way Mary can get close enough to Arthur to steal his watch is via sensuality and flirtation. But as Mary scrambles to cover her tracks, her lies and crimes compound, weaving themselves into an impossible tangle. All the while Agnes, the real owner of the fancy ball gown, is making her way ever-closer to Mannerley.

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She swung the door open, pocketing her key, and grabbed the corner of her dress and held it to walk. Arthur was standing a short way off by the stairs where he had been waiting for her, every golden hair perfectly combed. His pocket watch’s chain glistened on his vest in the lamplight. He heard her and turned to face her.

“Your hair. It’s wild.”

“I’m sorry, I slept too long.”

“I like it,” he said almost too quietly, a bit raspy, and she took his arm. Once again, she was his object, and she didn’t know quite what to make of it.

About the Author Audrey has always written stories. Her very first picture book which she wrote in early elementary school was about a mean, grumpy tooth fairy. Her first “novel”, bound using a cardboard cereal box, was written in the fourth grade. By high school, she was writing secret novels of her own, usually naming her characters by her own initials. By her twenties, she knew that writing was her calling––and she’s so glad you’re reading her debut romance!

Audrey lives in North Carolina with her Spaniard husband and two young sons, is completely bilingual in Spanish, and enjoys church, crochet, jigsaw puzzles, time with friends, yoga, and funny movies. She’s a freelance fiction editor on Upwork, an editor at a literary agency. She also writes contemporary romance under the name Audrey Lancho. Her debut contemporary is due out in May 2025 from Harpeth Road. You can learn more about Audrey by visiting www.audreylancho.com and signing up for her newsletter––she promises not to spam you; she’ll just inform you of big happenings and new releases. Audrey also enjoys connecting with readers and other authors on X/Twitter and Instagram.

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Character Interview: Max Heaton by Maria Imbalzano – Guest Post and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Maria Imbalzano will be awarding a $15 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Character Interview: Max Heaton

Tell us a bit about “Island Detour.”

This is the story of what happened when Sophie Kearns showed up at the Sunrise Island School, where I’ve worked for the past two years. I’m the marine biology teacher at this semester-away school for high school students. But I have higher aspirations. I want to start an environmental research institute at the school. I was just trying to convince the Director of the School, Andy, about the merits of such an institute when Sophie arrived. I knew something was off. She was a Princeton prep school English teacher who didn’t know the difference between a kayak and a rowboat. She couldn’t swim, snorkel, fish or camp—just some of the required activities for teachers at the school. There was no reason for her to be here teaching English for a semester. And her flimsy excuse that she needed a break before becoming the chair of the English Department at her northeastern prep school made no sense. When I learned she ran a Summer Teaching Academy for teachers, I feared that Andy brought her here to convince her to move her Academy to his school. That would be the end of my research institute. Needless to say, Sophie and I did not hit it off. Probably my fault.

What did you think the first time you saw Sophie?

I picked her up at the airport, since Andy was busy. She had on some gray, conservative pants with a white button-down blouse and she was as pale as the clouds in the sky. She looked even paler when I told her about all the outdoor activities she’d be expected to do along with teaching English. I tried to get her to admit why she was here, but she kept to her script about needing a break. So I ignored her the rest of the ride and dumped her off at Andy’s office.

What happened during your next encounter?

The next time I saw Sophie was in the dining hall at dinner that night. All the other teachers were friendly and kind, and she was probably feeling pretty good about that. But when she told them she didn’t know how to kayak, scuba dive, or camp I called her a prima donna. Of course she said she wasn’t and spouted off about all her degrees and awards. But I told her they wouldn’t help pull her weight around here. After a few more heated exchanges, I left. I needed to walk the beach for a while to try and figure out what she and Andy were up to.

So it wasn’t love at first sight?

Most definitely not!

I assume you came around eventually. What do you like most about her?

It took a while to get to know Sophie. Mostly because of my stubbornness. But she is an amazing English teacher who engages so easily with the students. They even stop her after class to continue a conversation they’d started during class. What teenaged kid does that? She also likes to work collaboratively. She shared so many ideas with me about how to get my research institute off the ground. She’s selfless like that. She’s also determined. Every morning at seven she goes kayaking with Kristin and after school she practices her swimming. One day, she was assigned to go fishing with me and Ben. Of course, she had never fished before and I gave her a hard time, making her bait her own hook and take the fish off that she caught. That was a bit of a difficult day. We had some words… I’ll just leave it at that.

How would she describe you?

A loner, probably. Arrogant. Stubborn. Controlling. But once she got to know me, I think she would say that I’m driven, persistent. I have to be if I want to start my environmental research institute. She’d agree that I’m an excellent teacher, always spending extra time with the kids doing experiments or camping or taking them on kayak trips through the mangroves.

What made you choose teaching for a career?

I didn’t start out wanting to be a teacher. I’m really a researcher. I have a joint masters and doctorate degree in Oceanography and Applied Ocean Science and Engineering. I worked at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute for a while, but I was supposed to be doing that with my brother, and he’s no longer with us. I wasn’t happy there without him. When I heard about the Sunrise Island School, I checked it out, and found my calling.

What is your biggest fear?

Not being able to protect the people I care about.

How do you relax?

I go out on the water every morning—either in a rowboat or kayak. I love that it’s so peaceful out there. I can think—or not. And the early morning exercise is a great way to start my day. I also like to walk on the beach at sunset. The colors of the sky are so vibrant, especially after the sun sinks below the horizon.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?

Interestingly, it happens to be from Sophie. She taught me the value of working with others to achieve my goals instead of trying to control everything on my own.

Falsely accused of wrongdoing at a Princeton Prep school, Sophie Kearns accepts a temporary teaching position at an environmental school in the Florida Keys to wait out her suspension. The time away is meant to be an anxiety-free escape, but her clashes with the hot but arrogant marine biology teacher, Max Heaton, are anything but tranquil.

Max is determined to start an environmental research institute at the school, but he suspects the gorgeous new Lit teacher, who lacks even the most basic outdoor skills, is there to hinder that dream. Yet, something about her tames the demons from his past, and he can no longer ignore the fire she’s lit inside him.

Enjoy an Excerpt

How’d Sophie end up working with women who could have been in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue?

She glanced down at her own one-piece halter and smoothed out an imaginary wrinkle. Not ready to venture back to the bikinis of her college days, she’d chosen a lime-green hue that looked great against her tan. And even though her midriff wasn’t bare, the high-cut detail on her legs showed plenty of skin. At least she wasn’t embarrassed standing next to Maddie. Or the other two.

She’d come a long way from the buttoned-up professor at Valen, thanks to her new friends here. After their shopping spree in Key West, they’d made sure to compliment Sophie on her new look—obviously afraid that if they didn’t, she’d go back to her old ways. And it had worked. Along with the exercise she was getting from boating and swimming, she looked and felt like a new woman.

Stealing a glance at Max, she assumed he’d be staring at Maddie. A slow burn crept across her face when his gaze fell on her.

His mocha eyes blazed a scorching trail as they traveled up her legs, her torso, then stopped at her face. She turned and looked out over the ocean, swallowing hard, to banish this erotic discomfort. But try as she might to ignore his scrutiny, she felt it deep down in the pit of her stomach as fingers of heat spread over her skin, doing much more damage than the sun.

About the Author: Maria Imbalzano is an award-winning contemporary author who writes about strong, independent women and the men who fall in love with them. She recently retired from the practice of law, but legal issues have a way of showing up in many of her novels. When not writing, she loves to travel both abroad and in the states. Maria lives in central New Jersey with her husband–not far from her two daughters and granddaughters. For more information about her books, please visit her website at http://mariaimbalzano.com where you can also sign up for her newsletter.

Maria is a member of New Jersey Romance Writers and has received many honors and awards for her work including the ACRA Readers’ Choice Heart of Excellence Award, the Wisconsin Romance Writers Write Touch Readers Award, The NEST (National Excellence In Story Telling) Award, the Carolyn Award, Book Buyers Best Award, The Stiletto Reader’s Choice Award, Long & Short Reviews Book of the Month Award (3rd Place for Book of the Year), and Still Moments Magazine Reader’s Choice Award.

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Red Kingdom by Rachel Demeter – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Rachel Demeter will award a copy of the ebook for Beauty of the Beast, the first book of the series, to a randomly drawn winner. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Little Red Riding Hood reimagined with a dark and realistic twist.

Princess Blanchette’s world shatters when the Black Wolf tears apart her castle and everything she holds dear. All she clings to is the vow she made to her grandmother on her deathbed.

Hailed as the people’s champion, Sir Rowan Dietrich liberates the capital in a quest for vengeance. He takes Winslowe Castle with an army at his back and his wolf, Smoke, at his side.

United by a shared cause and powerful attraction, Rowan and Blanchette embark on a journey of self-discovery and redemption—a path filled with loss, transformation, and ultimately, the healing power of love.

Can Norland’s resplendent princess, with her captivating beauty and spirit, tame the fabled Black Wolf?

Inspired by the fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood, Red Kingdom is a passionate historical romance about the enduring quest for love and the longing for a world at harmony. It is a standalone novel.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Death at her feet. Death in her home. Death in the air.

Death screamed in every corner of her mind.

Then Blanchette saw him.

Rowan Dietrich, the fabled Black Wolf of Norland, strode through her castle like a waking nightmare. His armor was crudely made, black as the surrounding night, the helm’s dark metal twisted into the shape of a wolf’s snarling head. But the most striking thing about him was his height. He towered above the other fighters and battled with a chilling methodicalness. How he moved and fought frightened Blanchette the greatest.

He looked collected. Even mildly amused. As if this were nothing more than a game. Blood soaked his sword as the blade whirled, whipped, slashed, and claimed lives in a macabre dance of death. And that wolf clung to his heels, its muzzle wet with blood, snarling and leaping at any man who dared come close to its master.

Monster. Demons.

The Black Wolf of Norland had always had a mist of legend around him. She remembered the stories her mother and governess had often whispered after the feasts and in the dark of the night.

“To me,” the Black Wolf called to a soldier a few yards away, his deep voice effortlessly carrying above the tumult. He didn’t need to yell, not even over the mayhem. The force of his tone was enough.

One of her father’s guards raised his blade, but too slowly. Rowan Dietrich’s longsword cut his head off, then came flashing back in a terrible two-handed slash that took another soldier in the leg.

With quivering anger, she realized that this man—this wolf, this beast—was the reason the sky was falling on her family. She clutched the dagger, wishing she could stand a chance against this mountain of a man. How good and right it would feel to plunge the blade deep into his heart and avenge what would likely be the end of her family’s dynasty.

Of course, she’d never survive him or his demon wolf. And if she was ever to avenge her family, if she was to keep her promise, survival meant everything.

About the Author:

I live in Sunny California with my dashing husband, who inspires my romance novels every day!

Writing has always been an integral part of my identity. Before I physically learned how to write, I’d narrate stories to my mom, and she’d record them for me.

I graduated from Chapman’s film school, where I often received the feedback on my scripts, “Your stories and characters are great, but this reads like a novel!” That’s when I realized my true calling.

In my free time, I frequent reptile expos, lift double my body’s weight, and indulge in dinosaur trivia.

I’m passionate about writing stories that explore what it means to be human and to be loved. My books focus on hope, courage, and redemption in the face of adversity.

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A Cure for Spring Fever by Barbara Robinson – Exclusive Excerpt and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will award a $20 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

For centuries, Gamekeepers have used their magical abilities to create a buffer between the creatures who dwell in the enchanted forest and the sleepy coastal town that sits in its shadow. When Gamekeeper Stan Ross’s magic begins to fail, he must find out what went wrong, then fix it before the two worlds collide. His hit or miss magic has already led to a few close calls so he journeys to the Sacred Isle searching for answers and advice. Finding a cure proves elusive—until Stan encounters a kitchen witch who captivates him body and soul. Lynnette Peters is healing from her own wounds, however, and it isn’t clear whether she’s ready to open herself to the possibility—or the peril—of love.

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“So, you want a dozen doughnuts?” she asked.

“No, I’m sure they’re delicious, but even I can’t eat twelve doughnuts in a one day. I meant to say I would like one doughnut today, and tomorrow I will come back for another, and so on, until I’ve had a chance to try them all. As a bonus, each time I come in, we’ll get to know
each other just a little bit better.”

Taken aback by his brazen self-confidence, she asked, “And you have decided that getting to know you is a bonus for me?”

“Of course,” he said and flashed another smile. “Just as it’s a bonus for me to get to know you. We didn’t have an opportunity to get to know each other back on the Isle, but we have a chance to do it now. We already know each other’s names, and we’re working on finding out
what my favorite doughnut is. How about you tell me one thing about yourself?”

“I own a café and bakery shop.” She gave a pointed look at the two cars that just pulled into the little parking lot outside her storefront. “One thing about me is that I’m very busy in the mornings.”

“I take your point,” he said, nodding his head with a serious demeanor. “Perhaps I’d best go away and rethink my strategy. I’ll take a Maple Dip for the road, and a large double-double. My brain always works better with sugar and caffeine in the mix.”

Handing him a little paper bag with a Maple Dip doughnut inside, she couldn’t help wondering what he would do next. He didn’t show up the next morning, and Lynnette wondered if he’d already lost interest in his little game. Despite insisting that she was too busy to stand around flirting in the mornings, she found herself watching the window, and listening for the sound of truck tires on gravel throughout the day.

About the Author:

Barbara Robinson is an author of contemporary and historical romance set against a backdrop of magical realism. She is a deep thinker and tea drinker who finds inspiration in myths and folktales, poems and ballads, and academic writing on a variety of subjects. Diagnosed with autism and giftedness as an adult, she enjoys exploring themes of neurodiversity and opposing character perspectives in her writing.

She is an avid gardener and lover of nature who works out plot lines and character sketches while nurturing her garden, walking in the woods, or sitting by the shoreline watching waves. She is known for world building that features rich and immersive detail, supported by meticulous research and careful observation.

Barbara lives in Nova Scotia, Canada, in the shadow of ancient mountains that lie along the Bay of Fundy coast. These rugged vistas shape her story settings, while providing the perfect backdrop for life with her husband, her hounds and her dragon (Pogona Vitticeps). She has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of King’s College and a Master of Arts at Dalhousie University, and she recently completed a Graduate Certificate in Creative Writing from the Humber School for Writers (Humber College, Toronto).

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The Background of the Book by Amanda McCabe – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Amanda McCabe will award a prize pack containing a selection of Regency DVDs, teas, and signed copies of her books to a randomly drawn winner. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

The Background of the Book

Hello, and think you much for hosting me here today!! I hope you love Eleanor and Frederick and their world of Regency Bath, England in The Earl’s Cinderella Countess as much as I loved writing them. It’s a city I would love to visit again…

You asked about the background of the book, and strangely the inspiration came from a non-fiction story of World War II I read. The Marriage Bureau by Penrose Halston was on a Kindle sale one day, and I thought it sounded fascinating—two ladies who set up a matchmaking business during World War II. It was such a fun read, learning about how they were able to intuit if people might be right for each other, and how fulfilling it was to help make a little happiness in a difficult time. I wondered if that idea might work in other time periods, and so my “Matchmakers in Bath” series was born!

Of course, matchmaking in the 1810s was very different from, say, Match.com (thankfully!!). Most people met through family connections, things of that sort, but Ella and Mary St. Aubin in my book decide to help those are a bit—different. They have strange hobbies or unusual personalities for their time, or they really want true love. This agency is for them! (I also have always had a soft spot for Emma Woodhouse, though Ella and Mary are better at making matches than she was!!). I also have no sisters of my own, and love writing stories where there is a family relationship like that.

Another inspiration was Bath itself. It is one of my favorite places to visit, with its cobbled streets, beautiful, honey-gold Bath stone buildings, and sense of history. (Plus there is a great sweet shop just behind the Abbey, and I adore my sweets!)

So that is how this book came about! Would you be a good matchmaker? What’s a town that’s inspired you?

Enjoy this friends-to-lovers romance set in Regency Bath

The one match

She doesn’t want to make…

The Earl of Fleetwood was Eleanor St. Aubin’s first love, but being a mere vicar’s daughter held her back from admitting her feelings. Now she’s a successful matchmaker, and the prospect of finding Frederick the wealthy wife he needs to settle his inherited debts is a nightmare come true! But returning from war, Frederick’s facing nightmares of his own. Eleanor feels compelled to help him, but could she ever be his Cinderella countess?

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Staring down at the sparkle of the glorious view before her, Eleanor stumbled a bit as she descended the carriage steps. Fred caught her before she could tumble down, lifting her high for an instant as she held tight to his shoulders, staring up in wonder at his familiar, unfamiliar, beautiful face.

He slowly, ever so slowly lowered her to the ground, a gentle slide, his gaze never leaving hers. Eleanor didn’t want to let him go, yet the chatter of Penelope and Mary as they made their way up the path, the chirping song of the birds, pulled her back into the real world again.

She stepped back, flustered. “Thank you. So clumsy of me.”

“The last thing you could ever be, Ella, is clumsy,” he said hoarsely. She noticed him running his damaged arm, as if he had wrenched it and didn’t want her to notice. She felt so shy and awful that he had to worry about such things now! Her strong, funny old friend.

They walked together behind Penelope and Mary and the footmen, toward a spot where they could spread out their picnic with the glorious view all around them. Eleanor lost herself in the chatter, the wine and laughter, and soon felt easy again, as if she was with the old Fred and she the old Eleanor, reading poetry in the Moulton Magna summerhouse.

But they were not those people still, not really, and there was a new, taut awareness she could not deny. He was at the other end of the blanket, far from her reach, yet Eleanor was achingly aware of him at every moment. As they finished their repast, and grew quiet and drowsy in the sunlight, he glanced toward her and smiled.

“Shall we walk a bit, Ella?” he asked, popping a last strawberry into his mouth. “I fear if I sit here any longer, I’ll quite go to sleep in this delightfully warm sun.”

About the Author: Amanda wrote her first romance at the age of sixteen–a vast historical epic starring all her friends as the characters, written secretly during algebra class (and her parents wondered why math was not her strongest subject…)

She’s never since used algebra, but her books (over 100 so far!) have been nominated for many awards, including the RITA Award, the Romantic Times BOOKReviews Reviewers’ Choice Award, the Booksellers Best, the National Readers Choice Award, and the Holt Medallion. She lives in Santa Fe with two rescue dogs, a wonderful husband, and a very and far too many books and royal memorabilia collections.

When not writing or reading, she loves taking dance classes, collecting cheesy travel souvenirs, and watching the Food Network–even though she doesn’t cook.

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Character Interview with Ella Sinclair by Patricia Leavy – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Patricia Leavy will be awarding a $10 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Character Interview with Ella Sinclair

Interviewer: You are rumored to be a longtime friend of iconic filmmaker Jean Mercier. How did you two meet?

Ella: It was in London. My first book of essays, titled: My Boyfriend or My Vibrator? Woman’s New Existential Crisis had just come out and I was doing a book reading and signing at a local shop. He showed up with a friend who I think had dragged him there. At the end of the reading, a line quickly formed and he’s not a patient man. So, what does he do? He walks right to the front of the line, says “Pardon me” to a woman waiting to get her book signed, and introduces himself to me. He said, “I’m Jean Mercier, the filmmaker.” I guess he thought I’d be impressed. I looked at him flatly and said, “Congratulations. Now that you’ve cut in front of everyone in line, are you even going to buy the book?” I think I shocked the hell out of him. But he did buy the book and surprisingly, he also found the patience to hang around until I was done with the signing. He and his friend invited me to join them for dinner at The Ivy. Naturally, I said yes. I was in my twenties and flat broke, and it was a free meal, with an acclaimed filmmaker no less. We got on smashingly. That was the start of a decade-long friendship that I do believe will last a lifetime.

Interviewer: He has a reputation for how he treats women in his personal life. What do you think about that side of the legendary filmmaker?

Ella: People want simple answers, but life is complex. Jean’s created some of the greatest, most interesting, sensitive, and provocative roles for women in the history of cinema. There’s a reason so many actresses are dying to work with him. And yet, he can be quite a piece of shit to women in his own life. Tell me, which is better: the male director who never casts women or does so only in clichéd, trivial ways but may be a hell of a good guy in private, or the man who creates professional opportunities for women that wouldn’t otherwise exist and gives the collective imaginary new, powerful representations of women, but uses up women in his personal life as if they were pieces of gum he was chewing until the flavor runs out? When these are the choices, what’s the answer? How do we define morality? Who’s a good guy? Who’s a bad guy? What matters, life or art? How are they related? What’s public and what’s private? Despite what many claim, it’s rarely as simple as we might wish. Life is textured. As for me, I adore Jean as a friend and as an artist, but you’d never catch me in bed with him.

Interviewer: Let’s talk about the man you are sleeping with, Hollywood star Finn Forrester. You met on the set of a Mercier location shoot. What will you tell us about your love story?

Ella: Jean invited me to crash at the inn in Sweden while they were filming Celebration. Finn and I fell madly in love. Neither of us expected it. I guess when you meet the one, there’s no rhyme or reason, it’s just something you feel body and soul. The little things you don’t know about each other sort themselves out over time. There’s nothing better than that inexplicable feeling of love. Or so I’m learning.

Interviewer: So, can we expect little Forresters in the future?

Ella: Stay tuned.

Controversial filmmaker Jean Mercier is shooting a film on location in Sweden. While spending the summer creating his latest work of cinematic art, he lives in a nearby inn with his lead actors: Albie Hughes, British veteran of stage and screen; Charlotte Reed, British indie film queen; Michael Hennesey, American TV heartthrob; Willow Barnes, fallen former teen star looking to make a comeback; and Finn Forrester, legendary Hollywood movie star. Mercier invites his friend Ella Sinclair—a beautiful, bohemian-spirited American philosopher known for her provocative writing—to stay with them for the summer. When Ella arrives, Finn is instantly enchanted by her, and soon they fall madly in love. Finn wants to plan a life together, but Ella harbors fears and convinces him to wait until the film wraps to decide their future. In a case of life imitating art, the film they are creating explores “the big questions” and prompts the stars to reflect on the crossroads they face in their own lives. How will their experiences on location affect them when they return home? The answers won’t come until months later, when the cast and crew reconvene on the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival—but their revelation will make for one unforgettable night.

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Soon they were soaking in the tub, surrounded by the soft glow of candlelight. Ella leaned against Finn and sighed contentedly as he wrapped his strong arms around her.

“I thought about you all day today,” he said.

“You did?”

“I couldn’t get the image of you with those kids out of my head. You were such a natural with them.”

“I’m crazy for tiny humans, always have been. I love their curiosity, big imaginations, big emotions. When a toddler is overjoyed, it’s infectious. They can’t contain it and it just oozes out of them. They feel everything so fully, so honestly, with their whole selves.”

“Do you want to have children of your own?”

“Finn…”

He squeezed her waist and said, “Have you ever thought about it?”

“Have you?” she asked, turning to face him.

“Ella, I would love to have a family with you someday, when we’re ready. Do you want to have a family with me?”

“Well, yes, but…”

“But what, baby?”

“I would want to have children with you, but I wouldn’t want to have them without you.”

“What do you mean?”

“The way I grew up, it just made me not want to do it on my own.”

“You wouldn’t be. We’d be together. I’m not going anywhere.”

“Finn, there’s more than one way to be alone. You spend your life flying around the world to shoot movies and attend film festivals. Where would that leave me? Alone.”

“Sweetheart, if we choose to have a family someday, some things would obviously change. I’ve been thinking about this since we met, but I didn’t want to bring it up and scare you away by asking too much too soon. But after I saw you today, I thought we could at least talk about it. It’s just a conversation.”

“You’ve been thinking about it all this time?”

“Yes,” he said, gently running his fingers down her arm.

“What have you been thinking about?”

“Well, we could take some time to be alone together, to travel. If we had a child, you would both travel with me to film sets. I can get the studio to rent us a house. We’d hire a nanny and any other kind of help we want so you could write, I could work, and we could all be together. When our oldest is school aged, I would only take jobs in LA, except maybe in the summers when we could all still travel as a family. We could show them the world. Being a husband and father would be my priority. You wouldn’t go to so much as a single doctor’s appointment alone unless you wanted to. If I had to give up acting and be a stay-at-home dad, that’s fine too.”

“Wow. You’ve really thought about this.”

“Well, yeah. I can’t help it. Our future spilled out before me when you told me you love me. But it’s just a fantasy. Sweetheart, there’s no pressure. Until today, I didn’t even know if children were a possibility. If we live our lives together, just the two of us, I’d be perfectly happy.” He planted a soft kiss in her hair.

“Just a fantasy?” she asked.

“Yeah, for now. Do you ever fantasize about our future?”

She nodded.

“Tell me.”

“Well, I always imagined that I’d keep working, but less than I do now. I’d want to spend time with my babies.”

“Babies?” he asked. “How many?”

“Three. Two girls and then a boy. I don’t care about gender, it’s just what I imagine.”

He rubbed her shoulder. “Tell me more.”

“They’d all look like you,” she said.

“Oh, see, in my mind each one of them looks just like you.”

She smiled and he kissed the tip of her nose.

“Keep going,” he said.

“Well, I like your idea of traveling together. I imagined that…”

“What, baby?”

“It’s silly.”

“Tell me anyway.”

“Well, it’s just a fantasy, but I can picture us buying a little house in the French countryside for summers and holidays. You know, one of those old stone houses with wooden beams on the ceilings and a wood-burning stove, with plenty of room outside for the kids to roll around in the grass and a space for me to write.” She crinkled her nose and shook her head. “I told you, it’s silly.”

“Not to me. I think it sounds perfect,” he said, kissing her. “So, two girls and a boy, huh? I should warn you, I’ve always liked traditional names, like Emily and Sarah. I’m guessing you gravitate toward more free-spirited names like Lula Belle or Blue Moon. I’m prepared to fight you on this.” He playfully put up his dukes, but she grabbed one of his hands and kissed it.

She laughed. “Actually, I was thinking if we had a girl, maybe we’d call her Betty. It’s completely traditional, but modern too. I don’t know. It’s just a thought.”

“Betty, huh? I love it. And you know what else? I love you.” He stopped to stroke the side of her face. “I love you so much, Ella. There’s no fantasy we can’t make a reality if we choose to. Come on, sweetheart. Let’s dry off and slip into bed. I want to show you exactly how I feel about you.”

About the Author:

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Patricia Leavy, PhD, is an award-winning, best-selling author. She was formerly Associate Professor of Sociology, Chairperson of Sociology & Criminology, and Founding Director of Gender Studies at Stonehill College. She has published more than forty books; her work has been translated into many languages, and she has received more than forty book honors. Her last novel, Hollyland, was featured on She Reads in “The Most Anticipated Romances of Spring 2023” and was the 2023 Firebird Book Awards 1st Place Winner in Pop Culture Fiction and 1st Place Winner in Summer/Beach Read. Patricia has also received career awards from the New England Sociological Association, the American Creativity Association, the American Educational Research Association, the International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry, and the National Art Education Association. In 2018, she was honored by the National Women’s Hall of Fame and SUNY-New Paltz established the “Patricia Leavy Award for Art and Social Justice.” Patricia lives in Maine. In addition to writing, she enjoys art, reading, and travel.

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