What do Romances and Mysteries Have in Common?

The other evening I popped into an online book discussion group being held by the Carnegie Library, hosted by Jennie Ellis. I only found out about the book club at the last moment, and joined because while I hadn’t read the featured book, I had read other books by the author, Julia Buckley, and she was going to be present.

What ensued was a delightful hour in which Ms. Buckley described her writing process, and how she came to create her various series, including the Hungarian Tea House Mysteries. She also fielded questions about the publishing industry, her past projects, and what to expect from her in the future.

Toward the end of the discussion, the subject of cozy mysteries in general came up. I lamented that many publishing houses had dropped their cozy lines, and the consensus was this was an inexplicable decision on their part because like romance readers, cozy readers are voracious.

That got me to thinking about the other ways in which romance and mysteries have commonalities, and it occurred to me during the discussion that one of the biggest things the two genres have in common is their contract with the reader.

There’s only one hard-and-fast rule in Romance: there must be a happily ever after (HEA) or at the least, a happily for now (HFN). That means that no matter what happened during the course of the story, we should have either a declaration of commitment between the couple or some indication they are going to be together in the future. It does not mean there must be a baby in the epilogue, though this is an addendum many authors and readers enjoy. It also doesn’t mean that the entire story must be fluffy and light without any angst or difficult storylines. Sometimes the reward of the HEA is all the sweeter for the suffering that took place before reaching that point.

I was having this discussion with my husband this morning, and he brought up (on cue) Romeo and Juliet. Everyone brings up R&J! Shakespeare’s play is not a romance but a tragedy. I went on to say that one of the reasons people take exception to Nicholas Sparks’ books being labeled as romances is the frequent lack of a HEA. Romances have ONE rule.

“Okay,” my husband said, “but what if the purpose of breaking the contract is to get you to look at something from another point of view?”

“Then categorize it as something else,” I countered. “Put it like this: suppose you bought a sci-fi story based on the cover and the blurb. You had every expectation of reading a military space opera based on these things, but instead, you get a romance. You’d be disappointed, especially if you were in the mood for something different.”

“But the Murderbot books aren’t just science fiction,” he offered. “They explore relationships, what it means to have friends, to be human.”

“Themes science fiction explores all the time. Romance has one rule. HEA. How you get there can vary in a million different ways but you have to get there.”

Which brings me to the rule I believe mysteries–or at least cozy mysteries–have: justice will be served.

Like romances, the route at which you arrive at justice can take many forms. I can recall reading an old Ellery Queen novel once in which Ellery figured out who the killer was, but for various reasons, couldn’t go forward with the conviction. At the time, the ending enraged me so much, I threw the book across the room. As a much older and wiser person, I can see the ending made sense, and that the authors had not broken their contract with me, the way I thought they did when I read the story.

It was the frustration of my expectations that angered me so much when I read that story.

The contract should be sacred in my book.

In a mystery, you’re presented with a crime of some sort (not necessarily a murder, but that is often the case). There may be a romance as well–certainly I was more invested in Lord Peter Wimsey’s investigations when they included Harriet Vane–but the romance isn’t central to the story. The central story is the puzzle, the “whodunnit”, behind the shady activity. A mystery writer should make all the clues available to the reader as well, not holding back vital information that the sleuth has access to but the reader does not. It’s part of the deal: providing enough information for the reader to connect the dots while hopefully obscuring the solution until the very end. 

The one rule of mystery? The good guys win.

I think this is why the mystery genre has its devoted following. It’s the same concept as it is with romance: you have certain expectations when you enter into the story. You picked up the story because you were in the mood for something specific. Perhaps you chose a romance because needed to hear that love conquers all. Or perhaps you went with a mystery because you needed to believe that crooked bad guys would someday get their comeuppance.

When I choose to read genre fiction, I do so because I want a certain kind of story with expectations of it ending in a certain way. Let me tell you, with the stresses I’ve been under the past few years, I select my entertainment carefully these days. I don’t read as much sci-fi as I used to because the storylines are often darker and less likely to end well. Am I coddling myself a bit right now? You bet. At some point, when life doesn’t hurt so much, when my mental health is more stable, I’m sure I will go back to stories and movies with darker themes.

While I fully believe there’s a place for having your beliefs challenged, or your insight expanded, I think that can still be done within the confines of a contract if you’re writing genre fiction. Not writing genre fiction? The sky’s the limit! Torture your protagonists! Throw them off a cliff. Let the bad guys win.

But call it something other than romance if your story ends in sorrow, and something other than mystery if the murder is never solved. Your readers will thank you.

February is for Lovers: Valentine’s Day Book Fair and Winter Games Reader Challenge

Oh my!

February is a CRAZY month for romance authors because there are so many parties, special events, and book deals to be had! I may have gone a bit overboard this year, promising to take part it too many events all coinciding together, but YOU are the winner here!

From Feb 14-21 you can take part in the Valentine’s Day Book Boyfriend Bonanza–all books listed are less than $2!

BOOK BOYFRIEND VALENTINE’S DAY BONANZA
BOOKFAIR AND GIVEAWAY
ENTER FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN!
Check out these hotties and super fun reads all for under $1.99 … social distancing this
Valentine’s Day couldn’t be hotter!

 

Prizes include a Kindle Fire HD and an ebook prize pack of more than twenty romance novels, including award winners and bestsellers! All you have to do is follow me and these other awesome writers on social media. The more authors your follow and like, the more times you’re entered to win.

 

To celebrate having Bishop’s Gambit nominated in the 2020 Paranormal Romance Guild’s Reviewer’s Choice Awards and to participate in these fests, Bishop’s Gambit is only 99 cents on Amazon for a limited time!

And it’s not too late to sign up for the Winter Games Reader Challenge–the clock started today, but you can catch up! What are you waiting for?

If you love to read, Winter Games is for YOU! A one month reader Challenge with parties, prizes, signed print books, and what you love best––FREE BOOKS.

PLUS, you’ll meet some amazing authors and party with them in a live Q & A!

WE promise to give you an amazing experience.

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Sign Up Now––It’s FREE!

Join Winter Games on the official sign up form today and be ready for an amazing ride! Simply Click on the picture for the Reader Sign-Up Form…

 

 

 

READERS––Sign up for your chance to win $200.00 in our 2021 WINTER GAMES READER CHALLENGE!

A Switch In Time copy

To participate as a Winter Games Reader, you MUST fill out the Official Sign up Form.

So Click Here NOW

Bishop’s Gambit is up for an award and YOU’RE the Winner! #MFRWHooks #MFRWAuthor

 

Goodness, what is it about the month of February! So much love in the air, right?

Bishop’s Gambit is up for an award in the 2020 Paranormal Romance Guild’s Reviewers Choice Awards in the Romance/Paranormal/Fantasy/Vampires & Shifters category and the competition is FIERCE. Voting closes Feb 12th, so you should check out the list of fantastic nominees! You’re sure to see your favorites there!

To celebrate, Bishop’s Gambit is currently on sale (Amazon only) for 99 cents for a limited time! Been waiting to try out one of my books? Here’s your chance to grab a story Kirkus Reviews describes as “thoroughly entertaining and witty, with a nicely judged mix of genres.” Bishop’s Gambit has also been named a Top Pick by The Romance Reviews and was given a 4.5 rating by InD’Tale Magazine.

The year is 1955. Rebel without a Cause and The Seven Year Itch are playing in the  movie theaters. The Chevy Bel Air is the most popular car in America. Gas is 25 cents a gallon and you can get a hotel room for $4 bucks. This flirty, fun series takes us back to the beginning and shows us how Redclaw Security got started.

They’re back and the fun–and trouble–is just beginning! Join Bishop and Knight as they must pose as a married couple to root out the strange disturbances occurring in an upscale suburban neighborhood! 

This post is part of a blog hop, so be sure to check out the other posts in the hop! Link below.

 

 

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February is Romance Reader’s Month: Deals, Parties, and Specials!

Love is in the air come February!

Magazines write (frequently incorrect) posts detailing the fascination and appeal of love stories. Jewelry stores and dating apps bombard you with ads.

And romance writers gear up for all kinds of celebrations–which usually means great deals for the romance reader! That’s YOU.

First up in my news: Bishop’s Gambit is up for an award in the 2020 Paranormal Romance Guild’s Reviewers Choice Awards! You can only vote once so I recommend you screen the list of candidates carefully before choosing–there may be more of your favorite books on the list than you realize! Bishop’s Gambit is in the Romance/Paranormal/Fantasy/Vampires & Shifters category, and let me tell you, the competition is FIERCE! I would really appreciate your support if you would consider voting for me. But be sure to scan the list of ALL the nominees before you make your final choice!

Next up: Feb 8 through 14th, I’ll be a participating author in the Fall in Love with a Book Fair taking place on Facebook! It’s like the Scholastic Book Fair day at school, only online in the comfort of your own home! Meet the authors, participate in games, win prizes, and find some terrific new-to-you books to read! It’s going to be great fun–join us!

Click on the button for the moving graphics!

And then starting Feb 14 through March 14, I’ll be a participating author in the Winter Games Reader Challenge on Facebook!

If you love to read, Winter Games is for YOU! A one month reader Challenge with parties, prizes, signed print books, and what you love best––FREE BOOKS.

PLUS, you’ll meet some amazing authors and party with them in a live Q & A!

WE promises to give you an amazing experience.

To participate as a Winter Games Reader, you MUST fill out the Official Sign up Form.

So Click Here NOW!

What does this mean for you as a romance reader? Lots of deals, specials, and parties! To celebrate the nomination and as part of the participation in these various fests, Bishop’s Gambit has been reduced to 99 cents for a limited time. So be sure to grab this story at the special price before it goes back up again! It’s a hot deal for the cold month of February!

I’m going to be running some games and offering prizes in the various fests I’m participating in, so you should join in the fun and get in on all the specials!  C’mon! Valentine’s Day is like Christmas for Romance Readers!

Wait, wait! I almost forgot! Ghost of a Chance is a Toasty Read Pick in the N.N. Light’s Book Heaven Giveaway! So head on over and read a snippet of Ghost before you enter the giveaway: all 12 of the books featured in the Toasty Reads Event!

I’m sure I’ve left something out, but if I have, you can be sure I’ll post about it! 🙂

 

 

Bring on the Holiday Stories: New Releases for the 2020 Season!

Anyone who knows me knows I am a complete sucker for holiday stories and movies. This year I feel the pull even harder than usual. I want those small town Christmas stories, complete with snow, second-chances, and happily ever afters. I want the Scrooge-like billionaire to find the true meaning of Christmas–and true love along the way. I want lovers to meet across the ages–at Regency house parties, Victorian gatherings, and through magical time-traveling events. I want heroines to throw caution to the winds to take a chance on life–and love. I want to see mysterious seniors offer excellent advice and give nudges for lovers to move in the right direction–closer to each other. I crave mad dashes through airports (something I don’t ever want in real life), crowds parting to reveal one’s true love after you thought you’d missed them, and unexpected proposals to the applause of the unplanned audience.

I suspect I’d pay for a holiday-themed streaming channel. I know I feel the urge to start reading and watching holiday entertainment with the first crunch of dead leaves underfoot in October until the daffodils bloom in March. But I’m also a believer in celebrating the holiday at hand before galloping off to the next one. So now that Thanksgiving is over here in the US, I feel completely justified in doing my annual seasonal new release showcase. Here, in no particular order, are a list of happy-making stories for you to check out this season with something for everyone, from sweet to spicy and everything in between.

Holiday anthologies are my personal catnip and The Heart of the Season: An ATA Anthology is full of heartwarming stories across genres about finding love and joy at this time of year. 

THE HEART OF THE SEASON is a jolt of joy you cannot wait to unwrap for the holidays. Let your heart be merry and bright as you dive into this multi-genre collection of short stories centered on the themes of love and joy during the holidays.

Explore a foreign café, wild mountain ranges, big city lights, and homey firesides. Keep turning the pages to read the stories of love, redemption, sacrifice, and kindness reminding you that THE HEART OF THE SEASON lives within us all!

Can a private investigator recover a family’s stolen gifts?

Could kittens help create a love connection?

Will a widow rekindle her love for the holidays and find romance once more?

Should a single mother give her daughter a Christmas during the apocalypse?

★   ★   ★

“Apocalyptic Christmas” by Courtney Konstantin

“Melt Into Me” by Allison K. Garcia

“Paul Dupré: A Cajun Country Christmas” by Karen Lopez

“Christmas Delivery” by M. T. Decker

“The Christmas Guest” by Lindsay Detwiler

“Last Wishes in Cowboy Country” by R. K. Fultz

“The Pilfered Presents” by Tom Fowler

“Christmas, Cocoa, and Keychains” by N. Terry

“The Smallest of Gifts” by K. McCoy

“Miracle Dawn” by Myria Wild

“Kindness and Fresh Snow” by Katrina Rosemond

Christmas Cookies at the Cat Café: a Furrever Friends Sweet Romance

by Kris Bock 

Christmas isn’t the same since Diane’s kids grew up and her husband died – so when her high school sweetheart comes back to town, maybe it’s time for some cozy new holiday traditions.

Diane had a great marriage and a wonderful life. Now she’s a widow at 53, and her grown children are encouraging her to slow down and do less – but she wants more. She starts planning for a new career by arranging a photo shoot at the cat café her daughters run. Unfortunately, the cats won’t cooperate.

Rick loved Diane in high school, but he chose to travel the world while she settled down with another man. Now he’s back for a visit, but he’s not planning to stay – even if Diane still tugs at him. He’ll help her get what she wants from life, and then he’ll say goodbye.

Rick temps Diane to quit her job, sell her house, and travel. But she can’t leave the people she loves so dearly, the family that might still need her just a little bit. Diane tempts Rick to end his wandering ways, but he can’t simply step into the hole left by her husband’s death. As the weeks pass from Thanksgiving to Christmas, the holiday season brings out complicated emotions.

Can Diane and Rick find a way to make a new life together while holding onto the best parts of the past? They’ll need more than attraction and affection. They might even need a Christmas miracle.

The Furrever Friends Sweet Romance series features the workers and customers at a small-town cat café, and the adorable cats and kittens looking for their forever homes. Each book is a complete story with a happy ending for one couple (and maybe more than one rescued cat). These sweet romances will leave you with the warm feeling of cuddling a purring cat.

Excerpt

The cat did not want to wear a hat.

“Come on, Miles, it’s for your own good,” Diane muttered. “I’m not trying to insult your feline dignity. I’m trying to find you a forever home. Wouldn’t that be nice?”

Once again, Diane got the cat settled on a table against the autumn backdrop. Miles seemed perfectly content to sit there and watch the proceedings. But as soon as Diane tried to put the sunflower hat on the cat’s head, he dropped and flailed as if touched by flaming thorns rather than soft felt. Miles wrestled with the hat as Diane rushed to wake up her cell phone. Maybe she could get something cute, with the cat chewing a sunflower petal.

Diane aimed the camera. The hat sailed to the floor.

Miles leapt off the table, streaked across the room, climbed one of the cat trees, and calmly perched on a platform staring out the window, pointedly ignoring her.

“That Cat in the Hat book is nonsense,” Diane said. “I used to get a diaper on a squirming baby in under a minute. You’d think I could get one cat to wear a lousy hat or at least pose nicely.”

Visit the Furrever Friends Sweet Romance series page on Amazon.

Price: $2.99 Free with KU.

Heat Level: sweet and clean

Kris Bock

Website

Amazon US page or Amazon UK page. (For other countries click here.)

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Author Bio: Kris Bock writes novels of romance, mystery, and suspense. Her Furrever Friends Sweet Romance series features the employees and customers at a cat café. Watch as they fall in love with each other and with shelter cats. The series begins with Coffee and Crushes at the Cat Café. Sign up for the Kris Bock newsletter and get Lions and Love at the Cat Café, a free sweet romance novella complete at 35 pages.

Kris also writes romantic suspense set in the Southwestern U.S. If you love Mary Stewart or Barbara Michaels, try Kris Bock’s stories of treasure hunting, archaeology, and intrigue in the Southwest.

Don’t Mess with Christmas (Dr. Brogan Corkie Matchmaking Doctor Book 4)

Author: Linda O’Connor

Sweet PG-13

Medical Humorous Contemporary Romance

Dr. Brogan Corkie is happily semi-retired from medicine and now has time for other hobbies. Her passion for food is second only to her skill at matchmaking!

Parker Roy grew up in the middle of four brothers and has lived with enough testosterone to last her a lifetime. She’s finally moved out and made a life of her own. Between putting the finishing touches on the set for Mapleton’s Christmas play, plowing snow, and transforming her hydroponic greenhouse into a Christmas wonderland, it’s ramping up to be a hectic season.

Dr. Julian Murphy, the only allergist in town, has his eye on the woman behind the set design of the holiday play. He’s volunteering backstage in the hope of getting to know her. There’s a bit of a snag when she’s referred to his clinic for a rash – doctors aren’t allowed to date their patients – but Dr. Brogan Corkie doesn’t see it as an insurmountable problem and steps in to give their romance a nudge. She’d better be right because, if not, it could seriously mess with Christmas.

The allergist or the rash– which itch does Parker want to scratch?

ASIN B08L1DHDMS

Buy Links:

E-book link:   https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08L1DHDMS

Paperback link:  https://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Brogan-Corkie-Matchmaking-Doctor/dp/1988955165/

Bio

Award-winning author Linda O’Connor started writing romantic comedies when she needed a creative outlet other than subtly rearranging the displays at a local home décor store. Her books have enjoyed bestseller status. When not writing, she’s a physician at an Urgent Care Clinic. She shares her medical knowledge in fast-paced, well-written, sexy romances – with an unexpected twist. Her favourite prescription to write? Laugh every day. Love every minute.

Website https://www.lindaoconnor.net

Twitter https://twitter.com/LindaOConnor98

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/LindaOConnorAuthor

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/795688.Linda_O_Connor

Amazon Author Page https://www.amazon.com/Linda-OConnor/e/B00S7CNLEA

Excerpt

“Pleased to meet you, Julian Murphy.” His hand was warm around hers, and when he moved his thumb in a subtle caress, a shiver went down her spine. “Julian Murphy,” she murmured. She tilted her head and narrowed her eyes at him. “Are you a doctor?”

Julian nodded. “I am.”

“An allergist at Gateway General?”

“Guilty.”

Parker pulled her hand back and put her hands on her hips. “I tried to get a referral to see you. You refused.”

His lips twitched. “Yes, that’s true.”

“Why? Dr. Corkie said she’d never seen it in all the years she’s practiced medicine.”

Julian put his hands in his pockets. “Well, there’s a rule against doctors dating patients. It’s ill-advised and frowned upon by the College of Physicians of Ontario.”

Parker scoffed. “Well, good for you. What does that have to do with me?”

“Parker, would you like to have dinner with me?”

Title: First Class Christmas

Author: Katy Eeten

Genre: Contemporary Christian Romance

Blurb:

When Mandy Brockman flies home from her friend’s destination wedding, her heart is on empty at the thought of spending Christmas alone. It doesn’t help that her ex is on the plane, seemingly unaffected by their breakup. But the kind-hearted man seated next to her seems to have it all together—and he’s handsome to boot. She knows her emotional healing won’t come in the form of another guy, but will the source of this man’s peace and joy help Mandy find the Christmas she’s looking for?

CJ Hawkins is captivated by the beautiful, feisty woman he meets on his flight. The only thing is, she’s fresh out of a relationship, and he has no interest in being anyone’s rebound. But the more he learns about Mandy, the more he’s drawn to her unique mixture of compassion and spunk.

Can he figure out how to make their relationship take off before this First Class Christmas is grounded forever?

Excerpt:

Once the bill was squared away, they stood to leave, retrieving their coats from the coat check on the way out. The thought of leaving CJ only to return to her lonely apartment brought the same sense of emptiness they’d been talking about earlier. She tried to shake it off. Out in the parking lot, he walked her to her car.

“I’d love to see you again, but I have plans tonight. Although…” his voice trailed off.

Mandy narrowed her eyes. What wasn’t he saying? “Although…?”

A small smile crept to his face. “You should totally come with.”

She was intrigued. “Where to?” They arrived at her car, and she turned to face him with her back against the driver’s side back door.

He waggled his eyebrows. “To fill that emptiness in your heart.”

She tilted her head, giving him a dubious look. “What makes you so sure?”

CJ placed one hand on the car behind her on her left, and then another on her right, pinning her in place between his arms. Their bodies were only inches away from each other. “Do you trust me?” She could hear the smile in his voice.

Taking a deep breath, Mandy kept her gaze on CJ’s. The truth was, she did. But that fact scared her a little. She pressed her lips together before responding. “Yes.”

He gave a flirty lift to his eyebrows. “Good.”

Author Bio:

Katy Eeten is married to a Pastor and is the mom of two boys, ages 12 and 9. She lives with her family in southeast Wisconsin, despite her dislike for cold weather. She works full time in corporate America, but her true passion is writing.

 

In addition to First Class Christmas, she has three other Christian Romances available on Amazon. When she’s not working or writing, she can be found taking walks or bike rides with her kids, baking goodies, playing the piano, or spending time with her family.

 

Buy Links:

Amazon = https://www.amazon.com/First-Class-Christmas-Holiday-Extravaganza-ebook/dp/B08KSJHMW4

B&N = https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/first-class-christmas-katy-eeten/1137850777?ean=9781522303251

Kobo = https://www.kobo.com/us/en/search?query=First%20Class%20Christmas%20(Katy%20Eeten)&ac=1&acp=katy%20eeten&ac.title=First%20Class%20Christmas&ac.author=Katy%20Eeten

Social Media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KatyEeten/

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/KatyEeten

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/KatyEeten/

Website: https://katyeeten.wordpress.com/

 

SLEIGH BELLS RING by Jessica James

 

BLURB:

Best friends go their separate ways, only to end up on the same ranch at Christmas. A best friend, second chance, cowboy Christmas love story set on a ranch in Montana.

 

Returning to her family’s Montana ranch after a ten-year absence, Jordyn Dunaway pitches in to help her mother create the special holiday magic for which the exclusive ranch is renowned. But when she discovers that her best friend growing up—the man she has never forgotten—is employed as a ranch hand, the holiday season turns into something she never imagined.

Chad Devlin was falling into a deep abyss after being medically discharged from the military. When his old employer invited him back as a ranch hand, he found himself recovering both physically and mentally…that is until he was blindsided by the return of the ranch owner’s daughter.

The rocky relationship of the former best friends takes a back seat as the future of the family-owned ranch is threatened. If Jordyn and Chad don’t put their painful pasts behind them, they might lose the ranch they both call home. Can misunderstandings, mistrust, and lost years be forgotten when the magic of Christmas is in the air?

Find out with the help of beautiful mountain vistas, warm Western hospitality, and the magical meaning of a special sleigh bell that ties both Jordyn and Chad to the past—and the future.

 

SPECIAL NOTE: Author Jessica James has partnered with the family-owned business Magical Bells to offer a 20 percent discount off their beautiful sleigh bells. No need for a coupon, the total will be fixed on checkout with this link: https://magicalbells.com/discount/SleighBellsRing

 

EXCERPT:

 

Chad Devlin leaned one broad shoulder against the porch post of the bunkhouse as a limousine pulled through the elegant arched gateway. “Another guest just arrived for the Christmas gala,” he said to no one in particular.

“Another city slicker you mean.” The man standing beside him sent a slug of tobacco onto the dirt near the steps as the car drove slowly up the gravel driveway to the main house about a hundred yards away.

Chad lifted the hat off his brow and scowled at the brown smudge on the ground, but didn’t say anything. Judd had been warned by Mrs. Dunaway about spitting anywhere he pleased, any number of times. It wasn’t exactly the type of thing that wealthy folks wanted to see when they were getting away from it all on this high-priced luxury ranch in the middle-of-nowhere, Montana. And it wasn’t behavior that one would expect from a man who was in charge of dozens of ranch hands.

With his eyes glued on the woman getting out of the car, Chad took a step forward, causing the coffee in his mug to slurp over the top. “Is that Jordyn Dunaway?”

Judd let out a whistle as the long-legged blonde accepted the suitcase handed to her by the driver. “I’ve only seen pictures.” Judd leaned forward and squinted as if to lessen the distance between them. “You know her?”

Chad grew silent and merely shrugged, angry that he’d expressed any emotion and let down his guard. He hadn’t seen Jordyn Dunaway since she’d left for a job in New York City more than a decade ago. Was that really her? Had she really come back home after all this time?

The woman paused on the porch and swept the golden tumble of hair off her shoulders, an action that flaunted a regal confidence and stately poise. Chad mumbled under his breath as another splash of hot coffee breached the top of the trembling mug, burning his hand.

Trying to slow the pace of his heart, Chad looked away and took a deep breath. Would Jordyn remember their last night together? Would she even remember him after traveling around the world and being away from the ranch for so long?

His gaze went back to the main house, but the door had already closed behind her.

Squeezing his temples, Chad tried to stop the memories. He even closed his eyes in a futile attempt to block the images that were branded in his mind as the best—and the worst—moments of his life.

 

LINKS:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08GPPRQQR

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1040135?ref=jessicajames

Apple: https://books.apple.com/us/book/sleigh-bells-ring-a-magical-cowboy-christmas-romance/id1529351162?uo=4&mt=11&at=1010lv47

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/sleigh-bells-ring-a-magical-cowboy-christmas-romance

Google: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Jessica_James_Sleigh_Bells_Ring?id=H5j5DwAAQBAJ

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sleigh-bells-ring-jessica-james/1137551912?ean=2940162758273

All Retailers: https://books2read.com/u/bxnyPl

GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/55152871-sleigh-bells-ring

 

Jessica James Bio:

Jessica James is an award-winning author of patriotic suspense, historical fiction, and heartwarming Southern small town fiction. She is a four-time winner of the John Esten Cooke Award for Fiction, and has won more than a dozen other literary awards. She writes inspirational novels with emotional plots, fascinating characters, unforeseen twists, and touches of heart-warming romance. Her books are available in hundreds of libraries including Harvard and the U.S. Naval Academy.

 

 

CONNECT WITH JESSICA:

Newsletter Signup: https://www.subscribepage.com/jessicajamesnews

 Website: https://www.jessicajamesbooks.com

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B001IYTXOG

BookBub : https://www.bookbub.com/authors/jessica-james

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authorjessicajames/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/586216.Jessica_James

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RomanticHistoricalFiction

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/southernromance/

 

 Harmony’s Embrace

Series: Deerbourne Inn

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press

Release Date: November 16th, 2020

ASIN: B08L73TB9C

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Length: 40k

Heat Rating: 3 Flames

Blurb

Divorced dad Birley Haynes is too busy raising his children and running his family’s music academy to start a relationship. Then Harmony Holdich, his high school sweetheart, returns home to Willow Springs, Vermont for Christmas and falls into his bed. She brings light and fun back into his life, but he can’t brush aside the threatening incidents around his workplace.

Harmony hadn’t expected a complication like Birley, especially so soon after the death of her unfaithful husband. With her life a mess, she plans to move across the country and start over. All she can offer him is a fling, but her heart yearns for more.

When the threats rise, how will Birley keep his children safe and convince Harmony to give love another chance?

 

Reuniting with the man who broke her heart has never felt so right.

 

Excerpt

Dear God. His heart slammed harder. He’d died and gone to Heaven.

Harmony stretched her arms above her head and danced in the middle of the living room. Her hips pulsated with the beat of the music. Twisty locks of her hair bounced around her shoulders. She winked, then glided her hands across her breasts and stomach, daring his gaze to follow.

Birley licked his lips. The organ pressing against his zipper throbbed. Sweat slicked his nape. He dropped his scarf beside her purse, jacket, and beanie on the coffee table.

“Dance with me?”

Her husky entreaty ricocheted through him like a ping-pong ball. How could he deny her? He gripped her waist. She slid her arms around him. They swayed, their bodies a scant inch apart. She nuzzled his neck, her breath fanning his skin. His hair prickled. The air crackled around them. He shuddered and held her tighter.

“I’ve missed this.”

His chest heaved. He struggled to fill his lungs with air. “Dancing?”

“Dancing with you.” Harmony stroked his clean-shaven jaw. “I’m sorry things didn’t work out with you and Susannah, but I wouldn’t trade this moment for anything.”

Oh, God. He kissed her and swept his tongue past her parting lips. Delicious. The taste of chocolate and wine clung to her breath. He nibbled and licked the smooth slope of her neck.

“Birley, yes.” She ducked her head and claimed his mouth with hers. Then she feathered kisses across his face. “I need your hands, your mouth, your scent all over me. Take me, Birley. Hard, soft, I don’t care.”

Fuck. Her breathy plea wrapped around his heart and shot blood to his groin. She eased back, drawing him with her. The wall halted her retreat, and he trapped her between it and his body. Their tongues dueled and teeth clanked. Heat sizzled through his veins and pulsed through every organ. Her body writhed against his. Was she trying to drive him mad? He snapped open the fasteners of her pants and slid his finger beneath the waistband of her insulated leggings. Silk brushed his skin, then he slipped into her warmth.

 

Add to Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/55691564-harmony-s-embrace

Check it out on BookBubhttps://www.bookbub.com/books/harmony-s-embrace-deerbourne-inn-by-amber-daulton

 

Purchase Links

 

Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/Harmonys-Embrace-Deerbourne-Amber-Daulton-ebook/dp/B08L73TB9C/

Barnes and Noble – https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/harmonys-embrace-amber-daulton/1137951572

Apple/iBooks – https://books.apple.com/us/book/harmonys-embrace/id1539081673

Kobo –  https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/harmony-s-embrace

Google Play – https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=1M8HEAAAQBAJ

Universal link – https://books2read.com/u/bPX6kR

 

Now Taking Sign Ups for my Newsletter, Amber Daulton Romance

 

https://emailoctopus.com/lists/9d60a166-f2ea-11ea-a3d0-06b4694bee2a/forms/subscribe

About the Author

 

Amber Daulton is the author of the romantic-suspense series Arresting Onyx and several standalone novellas. Her books are published through The Wild Rose Press, Books to Go Now, and Daulton Publishing, and are available in ebook, print on demand, audio, and foreign language formats.

She lives in North Carolina with her husband and demanding cats.

 

Social Media Links

 

Website – https://amberdaulton.wordpress.com/

Facebook Author Page – https://www.facebook.com/amber.daulton.author

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Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6624921.Amber_Daulton

Amazon Author Page – https://amzn.to/14JoZff

Book Bub – https://www.bookbub.com/authors/amber-daulton

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LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/pub/amber-daulton/87/538/368

The Wild Rose Press – https://www.thewildrosepress.com/authors/amber-daulton

The Last Christmas by Seelie Kay

Release Date: December 11, 2020

Publisher: Extasy Books

Romantic Suspense, Contemporary Romance, three flames

Why did you write “The Last Christmas?” 

My father is 94-years-old and as you might expect, has had a number of serious medical, age-related events. Each time, we were told to prepare for his death. Each time, he survived. The fact was, my Dad wasn’t ready to die. And his children and his grandchildren weren’t ready to let him go either. So I started thinking about terminal diagnoses and how they are really a best guess, not a guarantee. That, of course, led to thoughts how a terminal diagnosis often causes people to give up and prematurely mourn the death of the person who is ill. I wondered how that impacted the outcome. And because I was preparing to write a holiday book, I also started thinking about the power of family, and how, time after time, families are capable of creating miracles.

That led me to “The Last Christmas.” Christmas truly is a time for miracles, and thought it important that everyone be able to experience one through the tale of the Wright Family. 

Blurb:

When the doctors say there’s no hope, Santa begs to differ. After all, he claims, miracles are love combined with action to get the desired result. And at Christmas time, everyone deserves a miracle!

David Wright is dying from cancer. He is not expected to see another Christmas. At least that’s what the medical professionals say. Fortunately, Santa begs to differ. After all, modern medicine is nothing more than a best guess. Santa believes anything is possible until you give up. When Santa tells David’s wife, Joan, that heaven is full and she has to keep her husband alive, she is beside herself. She has no medical skills. How can she save anyone’s life? Set your skepticism aside as Santa embraces a family already mourning their father’s terminal diagnosis and teaches them that a Christmas miracle doesn’t always require heavenly intervention. Sometimes, all it takes is a family with enough love to create their own. As Santa says, a true miracle is when love combines with action to get the desired results. And only humans are capable of that. Will Santa’s words fall on deaf ears? Or will Team Wright find a way to save their father’s life?

Excerpt:

 It’s not about you, it’s about him, Joan,” a grumbly voice said. “You’re looking at this all wrong.”

Joan turned so fast she almost lost her balance. She glared at the old man who had spoken. He was around seventy, with ruddy cheeks and twinkling blue eyes. And thick white hair. Lots of white hair. Flowing over his shoulders, winding up in a very lush beard. On top of his head was perched a brightly colored red knit hat. She frowned. “Wait a minute. You’re Santa Claus. Without the red suit, but clearly, you’re him. I’d know you anywhere.”

The man bowed and with a smile, said, “At your service.” He gestured toward a park across the street. “Let’s take a walk.”

“Oh, no. I’m not going anywhere with you.” Joan shook her head. “I didn’t mean you actually were Santa Claus. Everyone knows he doesn’t exist. I just meant you looked like him. You’re just a man who looks like him. I don’t know you. Why would I…” She glared at him. “You’re not even wearing a red suit. And since when has Santa taken up armchair psychiatry?”  She ran a hand through her blonde hair. “I must be hallucinating.” Despite her objections, she followed him across the street.

Santa laughed. “My dear, I have been dispensing advice since I was old enough to talk and make people listen. God chose my role a long time ago and I have gotten very good at it.” He looked toward the heavens. “Sorry, old boy. Still working on that humility!” He chuckled. “Man never stops reminding me.” He smiled at Joan. “Do you sense any ill-intentions from me? Of course not. I’m Santa. All I want to do is talk.”

Joan reached out and touched his shoulder.

He laughed again. A laugh that came directly from his belly. “Yes, I’m real. Well, as real as a centuries-old spirit gets. I even eat all those cookies children leave me each year. And let me tell you, that’s a heavenly feat.” Again, he looked skyward. “Yes, sir, I am well aware that borders on gluttony. A sin. You know darn well it has nothing to do with gluttony and everything to do with the magic of Christmas, an affirmation that Santa is real. I do it for the children.” He smiled at Joan. “Sometimes, He gets a little overbearing with his angels.”

He smirked. “Even God has his faults. He is by no means perfect.” A strong wind swirled through the plaza, nearly catching his knitted cap. He clapped his hand on his head to hold it down. He whispered, “And he doesn’t take criticism too well, either.”

Joan stared at the man. Surely, she was losing it. Santa a spirit, an angel? He and God didn’t even travel in the same circles. She shook her head, trying to make the hallucination go away.

Santa sighed. “I know, I know. You’ve been taught that I’m not real. That I’m a myth. That’s a rumor started by Satan himself, the old devil. He can’t stand the fact that people embrace the goodness in the world. And that I spread good cheer. He would much rather unleash a plague and make people miserable. He hates Christmas. He hates that the birth of Christ is celebrated, and his birth, well, is not. He really can’t stand the fact that love binds people so tightly during the holidays.” Santa shook his fist toward the ground. “The fool pouts all through the holidays.” He then sat up straight and gazed at Joan. “Christmas is really about love, you know. All kinds of love. The type of love he’ll never have. Love of family, love of children, love of—”

“What the heck do you want?” Joan blurted. “People are starting to stare.”

Buy links: 

“The Last Christmas” is scheduled for release in December 11, 2020and will be available from all major booksellers, including–

Extasy BooksPreorder Link Available November 27, 2020

 About Seelie Kay: 

Seelie Kay is a nom de plume for a writer, editor, and author with more than 30 years of experience in law, journalism, marketing, and public relations. When she writes about love and lust in the legal world, something kinky is bound to happen!  In possession of a wicked pen and an overly inquisitive mind, Ms. Kay is the author of 18 works of fiction, including the Kinky Briefs series, the Feisty Lawyers series, The Garage Dweller, A Touchdown to Remember, The President’s Wife, The White House Wedding, and The President’s Daughter. 

When not spinning her kinky tales, Ms. Kay ghostwrites nonfiction for lawyers and other professionals. She resides in a bucolic exurb outside Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she shares a home with her son and enjoys opera, gourmet cooking, organic gardening, and an occasional bottle of red wine.

Ms. Kay is an MS warrior and ruthlessly battles the disease on a daily basis. Her message to those diagnosed with MS:  Never give up. You define MS, it does not define you! 

Author links: 

Website:  https://www.seeliekay.com

Blog:  https://www.seeliekay.blogspot.com

Twitter: @SeelieKay https://twitter.com/SeelieKay

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/seelie.kay.77

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/seeliekay51/

Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Seelie-Kay/e/B074RDRWNZ/

The Holiday Mermaid

A Sea of Love story in the Desire Me Again romance anthology by BVS

Fantasy Romance

9,000 words

#paranormalromance #romance #RomanceReaders #RomanceNovel #RomanceBooks #romancenovels #fantasy #lovestory #Magic #mermaids #Christmas #bvsbooks #PNR #AmReading #books #Book #Yule #ebooks #Kindle

 

Love comes in many shapes

 

Blurb

The hopeless romantic believes that a soulmate exists for each of us. That there is one person who makes us feel how good it is to love them. For some couples, things trigger them to push that love away. They find out too late they’ve lost true-love. Sometimes genuine love deserves a second-chance at the happy ending that eluded them the first time.

Desire Me Again is an eclectic assortment of short stories exploring a second-chance at love. The collection is as diverse as the authors who wrote them. Here’s a chance to read the work of talented writers you may not have read before. Within these pages, there are blends of tender, often moving and thought-provoking stories.

The Holiday Mermaid, a seasonal fantasy romance by Alice Renaud: Adam fell for surfer girl Rowena the second he saw her. But just as their summer fling was becoming serious, she left him without any explanation. Now, with Christmas just a few days away, she’s back… and Adam discovers that she’s a shape-shifting mermaid, from a Clan that hates humans. Can he love her as she is? Can she brave her family to be with Adam for good, not just for Christmas?

Buy Links

https://amzn.to/34NstC7

 

Bio

Alice lives in London, UK, with her husband and son. By day she’s a compliance manager for a pharmaceutical company. By night she writes fantasy romance about shape shifting mermen, water monsters and time-travelling witches. Her first book, “A Merman’s Choice,” was published in January 2019 by Black Velvet Seductions. It is the first book in the Sea of Love fantasy romance trilogy, inspired by the landscapes and legends of Brittany and Wales. The second book, “Music for a Merman,” and the third, “Mermaids Marry in Green,” are out now. Alice has also contributed short stories to the BVS anthologies “Mystic Desire” and “Desire Me Again,” both available now. Alice loves reading and writing stories, and sharing them with anyone who’s interested! 

 

Social Media Links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AliceRenaudAuthorRomance/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/alicerauthor

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18670218.Alice_Renaud

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/alice-renaud

Amazon page: https://www.amazon.com/Alice-Renaud/e/B07L52P17B

Website: https://nomadauthors.com/alicerenaud/alicebooks.html

 

 Yuletide with the Rookie by Fran Thomas

The course of true love never did run smooth.

Baseball rookie Brett Hoak is spending the off-season teaching kids to ice skate. The knockout big sis of one of his pupils is a bonus.

Leeanne Corey was sure teaching was her best career path. Now, she’s having second thoughts.

When Brett shares a secret and needs Leeanne’s help, she can’t refuse. But losing her heart to a jock again isn’t in her plans.

MY BOOK was NOMINATED AS ROMANCE NOVEL OF 2019 BY READERS CHOICE.

SECRET DESIRES is now on sale at Audible.com and on iTunes. Now, you can listen to Margo’s story and cheer her on as you commute to work or sit back and adjust your headsets at home. It is also available on B&N.com and Amazon.com –eBook and paper.

                                                            SECRET DESIRES

ISBN: 978-0-9984099-1-7

                        Nothing in Margo Simmons’s life comes easy. She can’t claim the inheritance on a condo apartment her uncle has left to her until she is gainfully employed in a job for a year. She meets the man of her dreams but anguishes over a loving relationship because he is still emotionally tied to his deceased wife. With great difficulty, she becomes the guardian to a recently orphaned child she had been tutoring.   Margo evolves from an insecure, newbie elementary teacher into a woman determined to fulfill the secret desires locked in her heart. My story speaks to anyone who has suffered a loss and had to start over.

J.L. Regen’s book was inspired by a real life story of lovers who join hearts against many odds. She lives in the New York metropolitan area, is a published photojournalist, has short suspense stories online, and has taught English as a Second Language to students around the globe. This is her first contemporary romance. She has also published three nonfiction books and is crafting a historical suspense set in World War II.

Contact: J. L. Regen

 Writerjr1044@gmail.com

Website: www.Joansbookshelf.com

JOIN MY MAILING LIST: FOR UPDATES ON FUTURE SUSPENSE TITLES, LEAVE YOUR CONTACT INFORMATION ON MY WEBSITE.

Cover by Karen Phillips who resides in California and has a diversified list of clients.

  1. L. is available for interviews and book readings/signings in your area.

Cover Reveal and Pre-Order Links for Bishop’s Gambit!

I don’t know about you, but I never have the patience to do a true “cover reveal” the way some people do. When I get my gorgeous new cover, I want to shout about it from the rooftops! I was pretty good this time–I let my newsletter list have the image and links almost three whole days before everyone else–but I can’t wait any longer! Without further ado, I present to you Bishop’s Gambit (Redclaw Origins Book Two)

Doesn’t Reese Dante do amazing work? I just adore this cover!

Poor Rhett. Evicted from her apartment for hiding a dog from her landlady, and still on probation for the way things turned out in Bishop Takes Knight, she opts to take on an undercover assignment where she and Knight must pose as a married couple to investigate inexplicable events in an upscale suburban community. Instead of fending off wolf-shifters and her father’s former mob contacts, she’s joining the country club, playing bridge, and baking cakes for the Ladies Association meetings. Okay, she’s buying bakery store cakes and passing them off as her own, but still.

Give her a bad guy to shoot any day.

At least she still has her trusty ray gun. And if Redclaw’s main competitor, Rian Stirling, is hanging about, there must be something to these unusual activities, right?

She’ll just have to put her budding relationship with Knight on hold until they solve this mystery. After all, they’re professionals here. Even if there is only one bed.

Pre-order Bishop’s Gambit from  Amazon and these other retailers.

 

Stress Busting Book Festival and Giveaway!

Stress got the best of you in these uncertain times? Escape inside these books and
watch your stress disappear at N. N. Light’s Book Heaven Stress Busting Book
Festival. 43 books featured plus a chance to win one of the following:

Enter to win a $50 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card
Enter to win a $50 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card
Enter to win a $25 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card
Enter to win a $15 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card
Enter to win a $10 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card

I’m thrilled to be a part of this event. My book, Ghost of a Chance, will be
featured on May 20th! Wait until you read my cure for winter doldrums. Fated mates snowed in together with danger all around? You won’t want to miss it!

Bookmark this festival and tell your friends!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

My Comfort Reads During COVID-19

I don’t know about you, but I’m having a hard time focusing on anything right now. I’ve mentioned in other posts the difficulty I’ve had writing, and how I can’t watch anything new, relying instead on old tried-and-true formulas.

This lack of focus has been especially true for me when it comes to reading. I normally read anywhere from 2-3 books a week. Now, it’s a challenge to finish anything. At first I blamed the books I attempted to read–but after I DNF the seventh book in a row, I realized the stories themselves were not to blame. I needed to apply the same criteria to my reading that I did to my television watching: something familiar enough not to hurt me but still powerful enough to engage. In short, my comfort reads.

When compiling this list, it occurred to me that many of my favorite comfort reads are set in the past. I’m not sure why that is. I enjoy period pieces as a rule (hence my love for Agent Carter and The Miss Fisher Mysteries), but I don’t think that’s the entire story when it comes to comfort reads. I suspect it’s because the setting is different enough that it takes me out of my current existence, and that’s one of the important criteria for a comfort read for me. I like crime dramas because I like the mystery and the satisfaction of solving the puzzle. But also because it bears no resemblance to my daily life. I can’t watch House because as compelling as the drama and the actors were, I found myself competing with the residents to solve the medical mystery before the end of the episode. Too much like the day job, thank you very much.

I think it’s also because one of the beauties of many period pieces is that the stakes are often much lower. There’s something soothing about having the biggest trauma in your life being cut dead at a social gathering or having your sister run off to Gretna Green. After struggling to read anything from my enormous TBR stack, I went back to my old favorites. And I noticed two things when I did this. By sliding back into the well-worn groove of reading, I hit that quiet zone that not only allowed me to enjoy newer material as well as old favorites, but I found myself writing again, too.

If you’re having a hard time being creative right now, I suggest turning off social media, the news, and the television. Pick up a book and read. Reading is a form of meditation, and I believe it primes the brain for writing.

And although comfort reads are intensely personal, (and what one person finds comforting is not necessarily the same for another) I thought I’d share mine. No doubt you’ve heard of or read most of them yourself, but I hope I can introduce you to some new reads.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I know. I know. I can see some of you backpedaling away right now while others are nodding and smiling. But hear me out. The works of Jane Austen are probably the cornerstone of the Regency Romance Genre. I recommend going to the source to find out why the tropes are so compelling. While I enjoy all of Austen’s books, Elizabeth Bennett is my favorite of her heroines, and Darcy is the Original Grumpy Hero who is captivated by a Sunshine Heroine. Not to mention, but P&P has been adapted into movies and mini-series again and again, so not only do you get the pleasure of reading this book, but you can watch the story in all its many forms. I highly recommend the 1995 BBC mini-series with Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth. I think due to the length of the series, this is one of the most faithful adaptations of the book. There is, of course, the famous scene where Firth as Darcy walks up in a wet linen shirt from having taken a dip in a pond to find Elizabeth unexpectedly a guest in his home. For many, this is the quintessential adaptation. And I love Ehle’s portrayal of Elizabeth–it’s probably my favorite. Ehle is also reading P&P from quarantine on her Instagram account right now. So worth watching! 

Then there is the 2005 movie version with Keira Knightly and Matthew MacFadyen. I think they did a bang up job of condensing the book into movie form. The cinematography is breathtaking. But it is the chemistry between the leads that is truly compelling to watch. So in addition to being able to read Austen’s delicious words, you can immerse yourself in these lovely adaptations.

 

For a complete 180 on subject matter, the next comfort read I’m recommending is the In Death Series by J.D. Robb. I can hear you now: What are you smoking, McKenna? How can a series with the word “death” in the title be a comfort read? Trust me, they can. In part because the good guys win. I don’t know about you, but these days, I need to know the good guys are going to win. Unlike most of the books on my list here, the In Death books are futuristic gritty crime stories featuring Lt. Eve Dallas and her enigmatic billionaire husband, Roarke. Robb (aka Nora Roberts) has produced something like fifty books in this series (while also writing under the Roberts name–her productivity is amazing), so you have a LOT of books to read.

When I was going through the worst of my personal losses, I read one of these books every 24 hours. The crime pulls you in from the first page, but it’s the characters that bring me back again and again. My favorite television shows feature teams and I love team dynamics and found families. When I finished the series, I turned around and started it all over again. It’s not without some trauma at times but overall, you know the key players will be okay. (The series is ongoing, so it may shock me at some point…)

My hope is one day to create a series as compelling. I know, reach for the stars, right? I want the same kinds of things: the team dynamics, the found family aspects, the push-me pull-you between the leads. I love case-based stories too, and by setting them in the Redclaw Universe, I can follow a team of Redclaw agents as they solve crimes, as opposed to couple-based stories in the current Redclaw Security series (each of which can be read as a standalone). I doubt most people would consider the In Death series a comfort read, but there is great comfort in knowing what to expect when you pick up a book. I’d watch the hell out of a Dallas and Roarke series too.

But in general, I reach for period pieces when I need a comfort read.

The Amelia Peabody books by Elizabeth Peters. I love these books. I tend to re-read them a lot, especially the first three in the series. These are truly delightful stories. Amelia Peabody is bluntly outspoken and forthright at a time when women were supposed to be decorative, delicate creatures. Her inability to see the humor in her own statements or actions adds to the hilarity, and in the irascible Radcliffe Emerson, we find the only man that is her match. Peabody dashes in where angels fear to tread, usually brandishing a pistol and packing a first aid kit that would allow her to perform minor surgery, if called upon. I have a deep love for archaeology, and the details of Emerson’s work fascinate me, though very little progress is made on the digs due to the frequent nature of criminal activities that must be investigated each season.

A word of  warning: on a recent re-read, I became aware of a degree of fat-shaming I hadn’t picked up on before. It doesn’t come up often (and I suspect it’s generational; my mother was the same) but it’s disappointing and I can see where it may be enough to put some off the series. It’s dimmed my love of these books somewhat, and yet I still reach for these books when I need to be comforted. For the life of me, I don’t know why they haven’t been made into movies. We NEED Amelia Peabody on our screens!

Make Way for Lucia by E.F. Benson. Another period series, this is quite different from the recommended reads in that the stories center around Mrs. Emmaline Lucas (“Lucia” to her friends) who is a well-to-do middle-aged woman in England in the 1920s and 30s. Lucia is a force of nature: vain, opinionated, and pretentious. She pretends a fluency in Italian with her platonic friend “Georgie” Pillson that she doesn’t possess, claims a scholarly interest in Greek and Latin, practices Mozart on the sly so she can pretend she’s never seen the piece before when asked to play, and in general is the Queen of Riseholme, the village in which she resides at the beginning of her story. Halfway through the series, having vanquished all her foes in one small English town, she moves to Tilling, where she finds a more formidable adversary in Miss Elizabeth Mapp. Like any true Tillingnite, we wait with baited breath to see who will win the current round in this clash of the Titans. Will Mapp expose Lucia’s Italian deficiencies? Will Lucia retaliate when Mapp orchestrates the rejection of her painting to the Tilling Art Society? Newcomer Lucia is pushy and irritating, and some long to be out from under her yoke. At the same time, life would be terribly dull without her. As reviewer Phoebe-Lou Adams for the Atlantic once said, “Nothing Lucia and her enemy, Miss Mapp, did was ever of the slightest importance, but they did it with Napoleonic strategy, Attilian ferocity, and Satanic motive. It is a sad fact that Benson borrowers usually become non-returners.”

You don’t have to read the whole series–you can jump right in with Mapp and Lucia to get at the heart of the conflict–for it is not until these two meet that Lucia finally faces a worthy opponent. But to appreciate the series in delightful detail, I’d strongly recommend reading it from the very beginning.

Another series I adore (but also has some problematic issues, particularly with stereotypical portrayals of Jewish characters) is the Lord Peter Wimsey series by Dorothy L. Sayers. Written in the 1920s and 30s, we follow the adventures of the younger son of the Duke of Denver, who finds his brains and his talent for playing the fool in public advantageous in solving murders. We also see the character growth of Lord Peter over the series, from a dilettante solving murders for his own amusement to the man who falls violently in love with mystery novelist Harriet Vane while she is on trial for murder–and he must act to find the real killer to save her from the death penalty. The Harriet Vane books are among the best in the series, and you can start with Strong Poison if you like. The only non-Harriet Vane book that I re-read for the sheer pleasure of it is Murder Must Advertise, which in addition to a murder mystery, is a searing insight into the workings of the old-style advertising firms of the 1930s.

Gaudy Night remains one of my all-time favorite books. It contains one of the most powerful scenes of sexual awareness I’ve ever read, and I point to it as the book that taught me what healthy adult relationships should look like. I wanted what Harriet Vane had with Lord Peter, and I refused to settle for less. When I recognized the same qualities in my husband, I knew I had a keeper. 🙂

The 1987 BBC series starring Edward Petherbridge and Harriet Walter is a treat, if you can find it anywhere online. 

But I can hear some of you hoping for something a little more contemporary. Well, I adore the London Celebrities series by Lucy Parker. I love all these books, but Pretty Face may be my favorite. As a former actress (on a very small scale) I love stories about the theater, so I was drawn to the series by the first book, Act Like It. Parker does Grumpy Hero and Sunshine Heroines extremely well, which is another plus for me. It’s not always easy to make a hero justifiably grumpy without also making him an asshole, but Parker handles this conundrum with ease.

I also appreciate the fact her characters face real challenges to being together–not the sort of misunderstandings that make me want to clack heads together and tell the leads to get over themselves. There’s character growth over the course of each book, another factor that places these stories in the re-read stack. And I’m all about the slow-burn romances! It’s also happy-making to have characters from one story turn up in another because they all inhabit the same universe. But it’s the satisfying resolution to each installment in the series that places these books on the comfort read list for me.

I could go on. I could list the horse and dog books of my youth, or the Dick Francis mysteries, always a good way to spend an afternoon. There are series that I love (like the Hidden Legacy books by Ilona Andrews, or the Psy-Changeling books by Nalini Singh) that I’ll re-read given the chance, but they don’t quite make the comfort read list. I’ve read some really outstanding books this year, and it feels odd not to mention them here, but you can love a book without it being a comfort read, if you know what I mean. Comfort reads are so personal, so individualized, and I find it interesting that my needs during COVID-19 are somewhat different than my usual levels of stress. What made my list might not make yours. But I hope you enjoy these suggestions, particularly if some of these stories are new to you.

What are YOUR comfort reads? I’d love to know what you choose and why! Make your case. Perhaps you’ll convince me to try out your comfort read. 🙂

 

Dragon Myst by Kerry Adrienne Book Tour

In this fantasy romance, the hero is the heroine!
Dragon Myst by Kerry Adrienne is coming April 17th!

RESERVE IT NOW:
US → https://amzn.to/2wQRmhf
UK → https://amzn.to/2Q6o7xW
CA → https://amzn.to/38IqtcO
AU → https://amzn.to/2Q5EquY

BLURB:

In every good quest, the hero succeeds. In every great quest, that hero is the heroine…

And for this heroine, finding The Last Druid and recovering the Orb of Oriste will be personal.

Myst Goodwind, trainer of horses and daughter of the Queen, isn’t content to watch the dragons steal the magic that once belonged to her world. As the beasts continue to drain life from the land, Myst sets out on a dangerous journey to reclaim what belongs to Oriste.

Together with a gambling fairy, a cranky centaur, and the annoying guard sent by the Queen, Myst will search for the Last Druid and the shards of the Orb of Oriste, which once held the essence of all the magic in the world. Along the way she’ll encounter creatures she never dreamed of, creatures she’s feared since she was a child, and the very same dragons that harness the magic she seeks to restore.

And though the dangers are ever-present, it will be the truths that Myst comes face-to-face with along the way that shake the foundation of everything she holds dear.

About Kerry

USA Today bestselling author Kerry Adrienne loves history, science, music and art. She’s a mom to more cats than children and she loves live music, traveling, and staying up all night. Because…vampires.

She writes romance (paranormal, m/m, historical, time travel, and more), science fiction, and fantasy.

In addition to writing books, she’s also a college instructor, artist, costumer, editor, and bad guitar player.

FIND KERRY ONLINE!
Amazon → https://amzn.to/2Q6pcEw
BookBub → http://bit.ly/2vWFFSK
Facebook → http://bit.ly/2YsifAT
Goodreads → http://bit.ly/2vXa1EA
Instagram → http://bit.ly/2Q29men
Pinterest → http://bit.ly/2w9njOB
Twitter → http://bit.ly/2VKegms
Website → https://www.kerryadrienne.com

Love is in the Air in February, and Bishop Takes Knight is on Sale! #MFRWHooks

Have you been waiting for the right time to delve into the Redclaw Universe? Well, now may be your best shot!

Bishop Takes Knight (Redclaw Origins Book 1) is now available for just 99 cents across all platforms! Meet former socialite Henrietta (“Rhett”) Bishop as she accepts a job in desperation with the mysterious Redclaw Security firm and gets more than she bargained for! When she’s assigned to locate the elusive Dr. Peter Knight, all her skills as an independent woman in 1955 New York City are put to the test as they evade a shifter gang, deal with past lovers, and engage with the enigmatic and dangerous Rian Stirling–who happens to be searching for the same artifacts as Bishop and Knight. It’s Nick and Nora (The Thin Man) meets Warehouse-13 in this book declared Top Pick by The Romance Reviews and given a Crowned Heart of Excellence by InD’Tale Magazine, as well as a strong review by Kirkus.

Bishop Takes Knight is available for just 99 cents for a limited time from:

Amazon    Barnes and Noble     Apple     Kobo

 

Looking for more great reads this month? Check out the other stories in the BookHooks Hop! 

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