Review: One Mad Night Anthology by Julia London

one mad night

One Mad Night

Chelsea Crawford and Ian Rafferty are high profile ad execs in cutthroat competition for a client. When a major winter storm puts New York City on lockdown, the two rivals have to make it through the night together-oh, the many ways in which opposites attract…

Review: Julia London is an author I love to read. In this book, I really enjoyed Chelsea and Ian as a couple. They were competitive, and tried to one-up each other all the time, but they weren’t nasty about it. They played fair which was sexy. Even when the outcomes weren’t what one or the other wanted they would use the defeat to push forward and do better next time. Their chemistry sparkled and as I read I wanted them to hurry up and kiss already! Good thing they get snowed-in because it gave them both the push they needed to succeed at love.

The two leads were very likable. Ian had a very strong sense of right and wrong. He likes to win but he doesn’t like to win by default or get handed things. Chelsea wasn’t whiny. She had a lot of dignity and high standards.

Rating: ★★★★★

The Bridesmaid – Bonus Novella

Kate Preston has just moved to New York. Joe Firretti is contemplating a move to Seattle. When the weather wreaks havoc with transportation systems, Kate and Joe meet as they are both trying to rent the last car available… As Kate races to make her best friend’s wedding, and Joe races to a life-altering job interview, it looks like together is the only way they’ll make it at all

Review: This book was not in the digital ARC I received.

Buy: One Mad Night: A Novella

Get into bed with Julia London (a delicious author interview) to learn more about the author and this book in particular!

Get into Bed with Julia London (Author Interview)

one mad nightKeira: One of the things I liked best about your rivals romance One Mad Night was that the hero and heroine played fair and it was still fun! Was fair play important to you and why was it important to the romance?

Julia London: To a point, yes.  The novella is short, so if the hero did something unfair (and it would be the hero, right?), there is not really enough time to redeem him.  And honestly, I think rivals can play fair.  It’s healthy competition that makes for healthy relationship.  I sound like a psychologist.

Keira: What made you decide they were competing over a car ad?

Julia: I thought that sort of ad would be a good and natural tension, because car ads seem to slanted toward men or women.  I noticed minivan ads are all about mom and the kids, and then the luxury cars are all about hip, handsome men. Figures!

Keira: What is your favorite part about snowed-in / isolated / desert / intimate (this subgenre goes by a lot of names!) romances?

Julia: That no one can escape.  The characters have to deal.  No one can run away and talk to friends or think, or pull any of that.  They are stuck.  Delicious!

Keira: What do you love best about writing historical/contemporary romances? 

Julia: Well, I love to read good love stories.  I love to watch them on the big screen.  So I guess I am naturally drawn to them.  I love establishing the male and female leads and their first real notice of each other.  It’s always fun to see where it will go after that.

Keira: Your characters always have such lovely chemistry with each other. What to you makes two characters rub along and create sparks?

Julia: Thank you!  That’s a wonderful compliment.  In high school, we did this play about a couple on a train.  I can’t remember the name of it, but what I remember is that it was my first conscious comprehension of the emotional differences between men and women.  Men want everything to be uncomplicated and unemotional, and women are incapable of leaving everything black and white.  It’s fun to push and pull those two dynamics.

Keira: How do you define love? How do you recognize your true love? What makes it last in the long run and not fizzle out?

Julia: In books or in real life?  Mutual respect and admiration is love.  What makes it last in the long run is appreciation and listening.  I think men and women can put up with a lot if they feel they are heard and appreciated by the ones they love.

Keira: What makes a steamy and sexy sex scene?

Julia: For me, the anticipation and sexual tension is steamier than the actual sex scene.  It’s a problem for me as a writer.  Some readers really like graphic sex.  I really like the build up to the actual depiction.  I have to straddle those and find a happy medium.

Keira: If not for writing, what would be your dream job? “Big business” job?

Julia: Writing is my dream job!  I’ve had the big business jobs before.  I would love to learn how to write screen plays, but there is only so much time, you know?

Keira: What is the hardest part and the most fun part of writing?

Julia: The hardest part of writing is actually writing.  I want each book to be better than the last, so I keep raising the bar for myself.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.  But I have to challenge myself to try new things and execute them well.  The most fun part of writing is meeting fans.  I work alone and I don’t know how my books may or may not speak to a reader.  So when I meet them in person and they are so complimentary and sometimes even moved my meeting me, it makes every moment spent alone with a stinky dog, tossing out everything I wrote the day before and trying again very much worth it!

Keira: What are you working on for us next?

Julia: I have the next two books in my historical Cabot Sisters series (The Devil Takes a Bride and The Scoundrel and the Debutante) coming out in late January and late April, respectively.  The Perfect Homecoming, the third book in my contemporary Pine River series, is coming out in February.  I am currently writing a book about rich summer people and the inevitable conflicts with the year round residents at a lake resort.  I just started it, but you know some worlds are going to collide!

One Mad Night Anthology
By Julia London

Two Romantic Adventures…One Mad Night

Two delightful contemporary romance novellas in one book from New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Julia London.

One winter’s night a blizzard sweeps across the country, demonstrating that fate can change the course of lives in an instant…and fate has got a sense of humor.

One Mad Night

Chelsea Crawford and Ian Rafferty are high profile ad execs in cutthroat competition for a client. When a major winter storm puts New York City on lockdown, the two rivals have to make it through the night together—oh, the many ways in which opposites attract…

The Bridesmaid – Bonus Novella

RITA Award Nominee for Best Romance Novella of 2013

Kate Preston has just moved to New York. Joe Firretti is contemplating a move to Seattle. When the weather wreaks havoc with transportation systems, Kate and Joe meet as they are both trying to rent the last car available… As Kate races to make her best friend’s wedding, and Joe races to a life-altering job interview, it looks like together is the only way they’ll make it at all.

Praise for Julia London:

“London knows how to keep pages turning…winningly fresh and funny.” —Publishers Weekly, on RITA Award nominee The Bridesmaid

Buy: One Mad Night

About the Author

Julia London is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than thirty novels, including the Homecoming Ranch contemporary series, the Secrets of Hadley Green historical romance series, and numerous other works. She is a four-time finalist for the prestigious RITA Award for excellence in romantic fiction, and RT Bookclub award recipient for Best Historical Romance.  She lives in Austin, Texas.

Connect with Julia London:

www.julialondon.com  | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Excerpt from One Mad Night by Julia London

It took a moment for Chelsea to notice him, which gave Ian a moment to admire her. He was going to crush her tomorrow, but that didn’t stop him from appreciating a figure that guys like him dreamed about. Chelsea was wearing a skirt today. It hit about mid-thigh and was tight enough to show off all her curves. She looked a bit taller today too. He glanced at her feet and noticed the shoes. Chelsea was walking on stilts, and her legs, good God, her legs. She was smoking hot in that dress and those shoes.

“Hey!” she said sharply, her voice full of accusation.

Ian’s head snapped up. “Hey,” he said con-genially. “Practicing your pitch?” He settled one hip onto the conference table.

“Do you mind?” She gestured to the door in a be-­off-­with-­you way.

“If you want, I could listen and give you some feedback.”

Chelsea’s mouth dropped open. And then her green eyes narrowed into little slits. “You have got to be the most arrogant man I’ve ever met.”

Ian smiled and shrugged.

“You can go, Ian,” she said, marching around the conference table to usher him out. “I think I’ve got it.”

“Suit yourself.”

“I will.”

“So hostile,” he said with a wink as he stood up. “I’m just trying to help. It never hurts for someone to hear the pitch, right? You’ve had someone listen to you go through it, right?”

“Yes, I’ve had—­Hey, hey,” she said, poking him in the chest. “Are you trying to play me?” she demanded. “Because it won’t work. I’m not some junior account person, you know. You can’t intimidate me.”

“Well, obviously,” Ian said and poked her back. “You wouldn’t be pitching at all if you were a junior account person. I know I can’t intimidate you. It wasn’t a declaration of war, you know; it was an offer to help.”

“It wasn’t a let-­me-­help, best-­friends-­forever offer, either. I’m not playing games with you. This account means a lot to me—­”

“Me too.”

“Oh yeah?” she said, shifting closer. “Well, don’t get too attached to the idea. I’ve got seniority, you know.”

“So why are you so afraid to show me what you’ve got?”

“Because it’s none of your business.”

“On the eve of the championship, it’s okay to go out and shoot some hoops with your competitor. It’s not going to affect tomorrow’s big game. It’s not like I can go out and change weeks of work overnight if I see you’ve got something better.”

She laughed. “Good try, Rafferty, but I think maybe the reason you want to see my pitch is because you’re worried about the strength of your pitch. Is it a little rough? Maybe I should listen to you.” She winked, and her green eyes shone with pleasure at her comeback.

“I’m definitely not worried about my pitch.”

“No? Seems to me if you’re presenting three,” she said, holding up three fingers and wiggling them at him, “then you must be uncertain which one is the winner.” Her smile broadened into sheer triumph, as if she thought she’d really zinged him.

She hadn’t zinged him, but Ian did wonder how she knew what he had…Zach. Of course. That rat bastard. “Have you been talking to Zimmerman?” he asked accusingly.

She shrugged and studied her manicure. “Maybe. Does it matter? I thought we were doing the let’s-­help-­each-­other thing. But if we’re not, would you mind toddling off? I have a lot of work I need to do before tomorrow. I plan to hit the ground running with this account on Monday.”

She was amazingly and annoyingly confident. Ian was generally a confident guy, but she was making him a teensy bit nervous. “You really think you’re going to get this, don’t you?”

“I don’t think, I know,” she said, looking up.

He tilted his head to one side to study her. “Isn’t it obvious to you why they brought me in?”

“I don’t know—­I haven’t given it the slightest bit of thought.” She lifted her chin, and Ian realized she lied about as well as she engaged in verbal volleyball. “I’ve been promised that this account is as good as mine. Didn’t they tell you that when they brought you in?”

A bit more of Ian’s confidence leaked out of him. He’d been in New York advertising long enough to know that the industry was full of snakes. He wouldn’t put it past anyone to feed him a bunch of half-­baked promises to get him to commit. “Who told you?”

She grinned. “None of your beeswax.”

“Come on, tell me—­” His phone rang, distracting him momentarily. He fished it out of his pocket and noticed the number was the Grabber-­Paulson main number. That was weird. “Listen, I’ll just say this,” he said, clicking off the phone. “Don’t be so sure of things. People say things they don’t mean, especially in this industry.” He started for the door.

“Uh-­huh, I know. And I would offer you the same advice, Mr. Rafferty,” she said in a singsong voice, and she flashed a dazzling smile, full of straight white teeth.

“Cocky too. I like that about you,” he said. “I’ll keep it in mind when I make partner.” He winked at her, smiled as if he was completely unbothered, and went out of the conference room.

Buy: One Mad Night

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Review: An Affair Downstairs by (Thornbrook Park, Book 2) by Sherri Browning

an affair downstairsHero: Logan Winthrop is an estate manager with a past. He was once gentry but was linked with the murder of his lover’s husband. To keep his brother’s family free of gossip he hid from polite society. But he can’t keep hiding around Alice.

Heroine: Lady Alice Emerson has no intention of ever marrying. She has a bucket list and she plans to pursue the completion of every adventure on it and a husband would get in the way. Alice wants to see India, shoot a pistol, and have an affair to name a few things on her list.

Review: Logan is a hero who will do what it takes to protect those around him, even if it is from himself. He has desired Alice for a while but saw the differences in their circumstances as insurmountable. He’s relatively easy to seduce when Alice chooses him as her first sexual experience. Don’t let Alice fool you, she thinks he’s a good choice for all the wrong reasons. Another man enters the picture and he says all the right things, pays all the right attention to Alice, and yet there’s something off about him. Will Logan step aside to give Alice a chance at the perfect match or will he claim her as his own? One nice thing about this book is that the sister isn’t evil (and there will be a time when you wonder, but she’s mostly shallow and clueless which are forgivable because she loves Alice).

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: An Affair Downstairs (A Thornbrook Park Romance Book 2)

Beauty and the Best Man (The Lassiters, Book 0.5) by by Maureen Child

beauty best manSummary: Matt Hollis would never let a woman get between him and his first mistress, his career. Except there was one once that wanted to commit and he let her get away. He’s been thinking about her ever since. His best friend is marrying her best friend and they’re thrown together once again. Kayla is conflicted and unsure if she should open to hear to Matt again. Tables are turned as Matt tries to prove commitment is worth it.

Review: It’s a novella and very short. On one hand it felt long because of the constant circling of will they-won’t they arguments that generally felt the same, but then the romance falls into place much too quickly. Definitely a story for readers who’ve seen these two in action in another book.

Liked the tag line – May the Best Man Win……the Maid of Honor?

Rating: ★½☆☆☆

Buy: Beauty and the Best Man (Dynasties: The Lassiters)

Audio Review: Snow Falling on Bluegrass (Bluegrass, Book 3) by Molly Harper

molly harper snow falling bluegrassSummary: Snowed-in at a lodge on a work retreat, Kelsey will not only have to organize her work colleagues, but also her love life. First Darrell, her ex, makes her life miserable by handing her credit card debt she didn’t sign up for or enjoy. Then the cute statistician at the office, Charlie, flashes hot and cold with her. Is he interested or not? And then there’s Luke, who is running the lodge in the absence of other employees and he’s a Ranger. He’s definitely interested in her. Maybe being snowed-in isn’t such a disaster after all!

Review: Molly Harper is funny, which is no surprise as she’s a former humor columnist. It’s even funnier to hear the narrator, Amanda Ronconi, say and act some of these lines. Kelsey is a smart, funny, high energy person. She’s got a sense of humor and is willing to crack jokes at herself. You have to wonder how a girl like her stuck it out with Darrell for as long as she did. Molly does explain and it is plausible but the backstory made me feel more like I was missing a key element than filling in the blanks. Perhaps this was more readily apparent in a previous book in the series. Both of Kelsey’s crushes are good guys. I would happily see her wind up with either one of them, which is very rare for me to say so. And I would definitely read about the one who didn’t win Kelsey’s heart.

Narrator: I recently listened to Amanda Ronconi in another audio book. She did a great job then and she did a great job this time. When I first heard her speak I couldn’t place the previous audio book I had heard her narrate. I think that means she did an excellent job adapting to the character profiles and accents. I’d listen to her again. She’s definitely a great listen for contemporary romances.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Snow Falling on Bluegrass, Snow Falling on Bluegrass (Audiobook)

Review: Owned (The Billionaire Banker, Book 1) by Georgia Le Carre

ownedReviewed by Sandra Scholes

Synopsis: Millionaire Banker Blake Law Barrington sets his eyes on the incredibly gorgeous Lana Bloom and cannot help what he thinks about her. He wants to have her, bed her and own her as she is young and innocent, unlike him. He is a man who knows what he wants, and how to ensnare those who don’t understand the type of man he is, but Lana has her own agenda, as her mother runs the risk of dying from her illness, she decides in that despair to offer herself to a rich man so she can pay for her mother’s expensive treatment. Blake however sees her as an attractive proposition and wants her, thwarting the other man who also had desires on her.

Review: The concept is a really sound one; it shows Lana’s desperation to help save her mother even though it means her being owned by a man who sees most women as sex objects. Though it isn’t the sort of story a feminist would read as it makes out every woman has a price on their bodies if misfortune heads their way at some point in their lives, Lana handles the situation as best she can, even going so far as being ready to leave him once she gets what she wants. Lana does start out with only her mother’s welfare in mind, but sooner than later she develops an affection for the rich man who has brought her into the very strange world of power and riches – wealth for him comes as part of his life whether she likes it or not, but there is something she doesn’t know about Blake she might not ever want to find out.

Lana grows inevitably to like him beyond all the glitz and glamour, wealth and position, but as she has only money in mind, she wishes she could actually form a real relationship with him outside of that. This for her is nothing more than a pipe-dream, though as she also doesn’t want to get involved with a man who has secrets.

Good Bits:

  • Written in first person POV.
  • This is full of throbbing passion and sensuality.
  • They do say that opposites attract, and this is pretty much what this novel is about.

Summary: As it makes some women look like money-grabbers, this novel isn’t for everyone. I liked how the story started and what it hoped to achieve. It’s a sizzler that is full of passion and has a lot to say of what some women think love really is. I found myself looking forward to book 2.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: Owned (Billionaire Banker Series Book 1)

Review: Fired by Her Fling by Christy McKellen

fired by her flingHero: Tristan Bamfield arrives in London to settle a personnel dispute at his father’s radio station. Cleaning up messes for his dad is something Tristan is used to, having taken over the family kitchen cabinet business years ago. He has a fabulous evening with a sexy woman only to find out the next day that she’s one half of the dispute he has to resolve. He’s been played a fool — again!

Heroine: Tallulah (Lula) Lazenby gets tongue-tied around people which may sound odd as her job is as a radio DJ. Sleeping with her boss at the station was a huge mistake. Jez is a major sleazeball; and the promotion he promised her? Nowhere in sight. Imagine her surprise when her one night stand ends up firing her and calls her on the carpet for unethical behavior and manipulation.

Review: Lula’s celebrity personality (the confident side of herself) I felt had better chemistry with Tristan than her “real” timid personality. Tristan has some serious family issues with his brother stealing his fiancée and his dad serially marrying women. My favorite sequences in this story included the night these two hooked up the first time, when they realized who the other one was and the subsequent firing, and Tristan’s later groveling where he wins her back to the studio with gifts (not all appropriate, but all right, cute anyway).

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: Fired by Her Fling

The Business Of Spinning Sexy Stories – A Slightly Different Take On The Traditional Start-Up

KL UVMy name is Kristen Luciani, a self-proclaimed fashionista and momtrepreneur of three. As a deep-rooted romantic who prefers juicy drama to fill the lives of anyone other than me, I created a fictional world of enchantment, sensuality and intrigue and finally uncovered my true passion…and a brand-new venture.

The unknown is daunting and fraught with risk.  Most people feel comfortable knowing what their future holds.  Predictability is settling.  They are very happy living and operating inside the box.  The box represents safety and security. If they stay inside the box, they can maintain.  Everything remains status-quo.  But settling inside the box means they’ll never catapult their potential to the next level.

Others want more.  Risk doesn’t frighten them, it only drives them harder.  Overcoming obstacles gives them purpose.  They are not fulfilled with the normal day to day.  Ideas incessantly swarm their minds and the prospect of implementing those ideas excites them. They are on a perpetual quest to achieve and ugly friends don’t deter them.  Admittedly, they may be a little blind to the trials and tribulations of launching an idea (yes, this is classic me!) but they are passionate and that will pave the way for their eventual success.

These people are entrepreneurs.  The rogues.  The ones who are going to shake things up and disrupt normalcy because everyone knows that’s how you evolve and improve and progress.  They want more and are propelled to chase it, no matter what the risk.

The words start-up and entrepreneur conjure up visions of geeky guys in hoodies and flip-flops – I mean, who didn’t see The Social Network?

News flash!

Entrepreneurs don’t need to have a degree from MIT or an idea for a cutting-edge app.  They need a business venture requiring some degree of investment and a hell of a lot of initiative.  And they need to work tirelessly to create demand and brand awareness so the public will embrace their idea and subscribe to the belief that they absolutely need to buy it.

There are certain qualities that all entrepreneurs possess which inevitably bleed into all their future endeavors.  Persistence, determination, faith and strategic vision, maybe a little bit of cock-eyed optimism – just to name a few.

Entrepreneurs eagerly take a bite out of the unknown and savor it, all the while brainstorming various ways to keep that taste alive and thriving.

The key components to success are consistent – regardless of your business idea.  I’m now an indie author-entrepreneur in the business of writing contemporary romance with a tinge of sexy.  Okay, maybe more than a twinge…

Now you may ask me why I think indie authors have the capacity to become hugely successful entrepreneurs.  The answer is simple.  They create a story (product) branded to fill a gap or need in the market (readership).  Because they don’t have the big footprint-slash-budget of a traditional publisher behind them, they need to be brilliant marketers and create demand for their product as innovatively as possible.  They need to invest in their own ideas and highlight awareness with potential readers.  But they have to be savvy in their efforts.  This is what separates the authors from the entrepreneurs.

Too many times, indie authors get caught up in the comfort zone where their fellow brethren congregate.  There’s a lot of camaraderie in those circles but I liken it to a funnel cloud.  It’s a self-contained environment where everyone is doing basically the same things to heighten awareness, gain new readers and peddle their wares.  What most of them don’t realize is that there is a great big world out there within their reach, right beyond the cloud.

And the only way to break out is to be innovative, to come up with alternate paths for success.  Because while it’s great to network and connect with like-minded authors, what you really need to do is network and connect with like-minded people – those who are interested in what you have to say as an author and are willing to take a chance on you as a storyteller.

Here are a few tips for indie authors who are ready to take that leap from keyboard to cyberspace.

  1. Write what you love, but remember to serve your audience – develop a product that has mass appeal and satisfies a need. It’s not all about you anymore, and if you’re going to resist that fact, cut your losses and find a new venture.
  2. Be passionate and never let rejection hold you down – there’s always a way to get your story out to the masses. You let your creative juices flow when writing; now unleash your inner-innovative to break out of the funnel cloud.  Bestseller status is not all about giveaways, swag and five-stars on book review blogs.  Those tactics, while beneficial, won’t help you come close to tapping into your potential target market.
  3. Collaborate and network with constituents - until you can make a name for yourself outside of that protective family and stand on your own two feet, you’ll never succeed.

There’s nothing traditional about success these days.  The more risk you’re willing to take, the greater the potential for reward.  If you believe in yourself and what you set out to deliver, you can convince people that you are a force to be reckoned with.

Yes, the prospect of failure is daunting, but entrepreneurs never think that way. Embrace fear and plunge forward.  Be strong in your convictions, have faith in yourself and never let anyone make you doubt your talents.  You may stumble quite a bit along the way but you’ll learn a heck of a lot.  And the success you experience will be that much sweeter.

Can you share any instances where “out-of-the-box thinking” yielded great returns as an author?  Have you gotten caught in the funnel cloud?  Do you have recommendations for an escape?  How do you get readers to take notice?

unlikely ventureBlurb:

Here’s the thing about keeping secrets…they can only protect you for so long before threatening to destroy everything you hold dear.

After learning Jessica’s been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, her fiancé bolted out of her life as if he was on fire. She finds solace in her career–no distractions or romantic entanglements there!

But the universe has its own agenda.

Three thousand miles away from home and in the most unlikely of circumstances, Jessica meets Silicon Valley rising star James Callahan and her world is instantly turned upside down. Things go further awry when she encounters a ghost from the past. That one night of reckless abandon is back to haunt her and the control she fought so hard to regain is now in the hands of another.

Plagued by betrayal and guilt over his dad’s untimely death, James left Cambridge in search of a new beginning. With laser-focus, he built a cutting edge technology company now on the brink of financial success. Romance is the last thing on his mind…until he meets Jessica.

Fate brought them together, awakening their dormant emotions. But Jessica’s scandalous secret consumes her and threatens the very happiness she feared she’d never find with another man. Can James handle the truth about her past? Or did she pick the wrong guy yet again?

Buy: Unlikely Venture (The Venture Series Book 1)