Review: The Dog Year by Ann Garvin

dog yearReviewed by Lynn Reynolds

Dr. Lucy Peterman is a woman who’s not very happy right now. Her life seems to be on the downturn. Lucy lets the reader see a true account of what her life is like since some personal issues happened. People tend to have a preconceived notion that a doctor’s life is so glamorous. But they are human and tragedy can even happen to them. It also reminds us that not everyone is perfect and that’s ok.

This book shows the reader that not everyone deals with tragedy the same. Sometimes people just need a little push, or intervention, to help put them back on track. Some people notice subtle changes in personality, maybe how the person looks, or even on how they behave.

Mark Troutman knew her way back when. There’s a scene where they’re catching up and she’s Miss Personality. And this is one thing that I like about this book – Lucy’s not perfect and that’s what makes her seem human. And then a dog and Sara came into her life. They all seem to be good for each other – they all have significance in Lucy’s life. Will Mark be able to have a place in there too? You’ll just have to read and find out for yourself.

This book would be a great book club read. Our author also graciously put discussion questions at the back. I can also picture sitting in a beach chair down at the beach staring out to sea and then getting hooked into Ann’s book. I hope you will enjoy the book as much as I did.

[Rating:4]

Buy: The Dog Year

Review: Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever by Julia Quinn

Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda CheeverHeroine: Miranda Cheever has loved Nigel Bevelstoke since she was 10 years old when he kissed her hand. As a young girl, his words of wisdom (that she would be a beautiful as she was smart when she was older) sang in her young heart. She was used to being bullied by her peers for her looks and Nigel’s kind act was like rain in a drought.

Hero: Nigel is Viscount Turner, and goes by his title. He is the older brother of Miranda’s best friend Olivia. As a young man he was kind as he was handsome to his sister’s friend. While Turner is still handsome, life has turned him bitter… (his faithless wife died on her way to meet her lover). When Olivia plays matchmaker to bring their younger brother, Winston, into Miranda’s sphere… Turner doesn’t like it and does something about it.

Review: Prologue-Nigel is the kind of white knight every girl needs. He plays knight again and accompanies Olivia and Miranda on their first London Season. Being around Miranda in a more adult setting opens his eyes to her charms… even if his heart isn’t ready. When passion leads to an unexpected confession, a confused Nigel runs… but finds he can’t run forever and doesn’t want to… but will he be too late to claim Miranda for himself?

[Rating:4]

Buy: The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever

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Get into Bed with B.J. Daniels (Author Interview)

bj danielsKeira: Tell us a little bit about your upcoming release, “Atonement?”

B.J. Daniels: I wanted to write about Dillon Lawson, undersheriff in my Beartooth, Montana series. I’m also fascinated by twins – especially the identical ones who have taken different paths in life. With all my heroes the hard part is finding them a woman who is equal to them. Dillon deserved a strong, capable woman as a partner. A year ago, he buried his twin who he feels he failed, so he has his own demons when Tessa Winters comes into his life. Nothing is easy for Dillon so it should come as no surprise that Tessa is pregnant – and claims it is his brother’s child.

Keira: You moved to Montana at a very young age and many of your stories take place there. How do you think living in Montana has shaped you as a person and as a writer?

B.J.: Life in Montana from the age of five has had a huge impact on me and the stories. I first lived in a cabin my father built from logs in the Gallatin Valley. My brother and I had the run of the mountains with all its rocks and trees and creeks and river as well as wildlife. We often had black bear, moose and deer in the yard. My brother and I even had pet squirrels.

Later I lived on Hebgen Lake. We didn’t have electricity or a phone, but we waterskied for hours, played in the woods and had grizzly bears on the patio. I still live in a wild isolated place three hours from the closest Target store. Today, I am pretty much snowed in as a blizzard just blew through and all the roads out of town will be icy and snowpacked. But this is what I love writing about, my experiences growing up in the state I love.

Keira: What’s your go-to snack when you’re writing?

B.J.: Coke Zero. I made a rule about eating at my computer. When you’re writing you lose track of time – and anything you might be eating.  I have a friend who had a bowl of dried bananas next to her computer. One minute it was full, the next…she realized she’d just eaten 18 bananas. That’s what I would do if I had snacks while I was writing.

Keira: Where do you do most of your writing? Do you have a certain place that inspires you the most?

B.J.: I love taking the pickup and driving out into the wilds. I have written many scenes sitting on the tailgate staring out at the country. I have an office three blocks from my house, but if I am stuck on a book – I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer, so I never know what will happen next in a book — I hit the road. For some reason, the story really comes once I leave town. Where I now live there is something like .03 people per square mile so there is a lot of space to create in without seeing another soul.


Keira: You’re an avid quilter. Tell us a bit more about that creative process and how is it different from the writing process?

B.J.: Actually, it is a lot like writing. You start with nothing but a vague idea. (At least that’s the way I write – and quilt.) I often buy fabric without any clue what I am going to make with it, then I let my imagination run wild.

What I love is that a bunch of quilters can take the same fabric and yet make something so entirely different. Same with a book. Give a group of writers the same basic plot and you will get completely different books. With quilting and all the different fabrics and pattern ideas, you can get as crazy creative as you want.

Also quilters are as creative and fun as writers, so I love that.

Keira: How did you find the courage to pursue your dream of writing?

B.J.: I come from a family of storytellers. When I was a child my family camped a lot. I used to lie in the tent at night and listen to the adults sitting around the campfire telling stories. It made me want to be a writer. My father always told me I could be anything I wanted to be. I believed him. He also taught me that if I wanted something, I had to work to get it. So I went at being a writer by learning as much as I could, writing a whole lot and not giving up.

Keira: Do you have any special techniques for writing effective suspense plots?

B.J.: I love to scare myself. If I am on the edge of my seat while I am writing a scene, then I figure my readers will be too. I’m the kind of person who always looks in the back seat of my car at night to make sure there is no one back there.

Recently I was working on my next HQN and I realized I was breathing hard – and it wasn’t the love scene. I was anxious, afraid my heroine wasn’t going to get away. That is why I love writing so much. 

Keira: What is your favorite fairy tale?

B.J.: Cinderella. I think we all want to have that kind of magic in our lives – not to mention love and a handsome prince. I lucked out and got mine, but it took kissing a couple of frogs.

Cinderella is also about justice. The stepmother and stepsisters got what they deserved at the end. So that appeals to me because I write mysteries where the bad guy is going to get his.

Keira: With more than 40 short stories and 70 books published, how do you come up with new and compelling stories that capture your readers’ attention?

B.J.: It’s funny, but the ideas are always there. I’ve been fortunate that way. As I’ve mentioned, I’m a seat of the pants writer. I start with a blank page and just begin typing. I never know what is going to happen – and I love that. I couldn’t write a book that I knew the ending. I would feel as if I’d already read it. So mostly I write books that I want to read. I think that keeps me from writing the same book over and over.

Keira: Who is your fictional character crush?

B.J.: Right now it is Dillon Lawson from Atonement. He’s the kind of man we know we can depend on. You just want to curl up in his arms and ride out the winter.

I love strong men, men who would fight for their woman. Montana cowboys live by a Code of the West and Dillon is no different. There are lines he won’t cross, so he fights his growing feelings for his brother’s woman.

Keira: What are the latest trends that you are noticing in romance/romantic suspense novels these days?

B.J.: I don’t read a lot of romantic suspense because I write it. But I feel that we all take a different approach to it. Some are more romantic. Most of mine are more suspense, I think. They’re hard to write because you need a balance between the two. But I think that is what a lot of readers really like. They love suspense and romance. Kind of like chocolate and peanut butter.

Keira: What is your favorite line or phrase from “Atonement?”

B.J.: It’s the first time my hero and my pregnant heroine meet:

“Look, I’m not sure what your story is, but that baby you’re carrying? It isn’t–.”

“If you dare say it isn’t yours…” Her right hand dipped into her shoulder bag. An instant later he was staring down the barrel of a .45.

Keira: What are you working on next?

B.J.: I just finished my next HQN titled MERCY. It was the hardest book I have ever written but now that it is done, I love it. I wanted to do a different take on serial killers, so I did. I am fascinated by how two people can grow up in the same house, same genes, etc. and turn out so differently. I find it interesting also that the same horrible childhood that makes a serial killer can do just the opposite to someone else.

I also love seeing what happens to the continuing characters in the series. While each book stands alone, I like some characters who I can check back in with and see how their lives are going.

Buy: Atonement

Review: The Best Man’s Baby (Red River, Book 2) by Victoria James

The-Best-Mans-Baby-by-Victoria-JamesReviewed by Lynn Reynolds

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book for review from the publisher and the author. I was not compensated nor was I required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am posting this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”.

Jake Manning is making a toast to the bride and groom. Claire Holbrook who has raised her glass has a major crush on him. But she doesn’t realize how well men can hide their feelings. They dance a song together all alone on the dance floor. What song do you think it would be?

They have an interesting conversation following an outburst at a barbeque – I wish this came with video. Especially when Claire breaks out some dry-erase boards. I could picture this transferring to the small screen very well.

If you love romantic comedies than this book is for you. There were times when I wanted to laugh out loud but it wasn’t conducive to the area I was sitting in – out in the middle of the library. At the very least you can’t help but smile while reading Victoria’s book.

There’s a scene where Claire is talking with her mom and all I can say is, “Two points to Claire!” I can totally understand having the same type of relationship with my mother. It also makes me realize that sometimes we give our mothers more power in our adult lives than they should have.

This is a great book to read when you’re on the treadmill. You forget everything going on around you and then you don’t realize how much time has passed. The bad news is that it brought me closer to the end. But the even better news is that I’m looking forward to reading more of this series. This is a must to have on your e-reader.

[Rating:5]

Buy: The Best Man’s Baby (A Red River Book) (Entangled Indulgence)

The Search for Fresh and Original

proof of their sinGuest blog by Dani Collins, author of Proof of Their Sin

I’m still a relatively new author and this is my first organized blog tour. This post is my tenth on Proof Of Their Sin and I’ve written three books and two partials since it was accepted. I’ve been moving the writing of this blog down my To Do List for a few days, mind drooling as I attempted to find something fresh to say about this story.

It’s the same struggle we face when writing the book in the first place. To counter that old argument that all romances are the same, we writers struggle to make this story different and fresh and fun.

But how? Especially when writing for a well-loved line like a Harlequin Presents? At its heart, Proof of Their Sin is a secret baby with a reunion romance. The hero, Paolo, is Italian and rich. I know you’ve seen these elements before and when it comes to certain things—a tone of voice, a heated caress—it’s really easy to fall back on a nice bit of phrasing as common as tycoons and virgins. (She husked, while stroking light fingertips across her keyboard.)

Characters, however are unique products of their personal history and life experience, bringing that stab of freshness we’re looking for, so I thought I’d give you Proof of Their Sin’s backstory.

Before I sold in May of 2012, I was working with Suzy, one of the editors at Mills & Boon. She had recently rejected one of my manuscripts (ouch) and asked me to submit three fresh ideas for consideration. Proof of Their Sin was one of them, sent under the title Kidnapped For Keeps. She wound up suggesting I pair the heroine from one synopsis with the Russian hero from the other.

There’s a whole long epic Russian tragedy about how that story marched toward eventual cold and wintry death. (It may yet see resurrection.) After its demise, I wrote No Longer Forbidden? It was accepted in a two-book contract and I still had this lovely synopsis entitled Kidnapped For Keeps which hadn’t exactly been rejected so I sent it along as my second book.

I already had a jump start on the story with a stunning dress for Lauren and a white tie ball and a revelation of an unplanned pregnancy. Wait, have you seen that in a romance before? Yeah, me too. Fortunately, I had plenty of questions to answer: How does she get in? How did she get pregnant? How does she know Paolo?

Pretty soon I was getting to know Lauren and Paolo. He’s a banker who only succeeds in that field by tempering his natural, high-octane, surf-typhoon-waves-in-Indonesia nature. For all his projection of aloofness, he was incredibly devoted to his best friend, Lauren’s first husband. Lauren is an absolute mouse when the story opens, but she steps into her grandmother’s vintage designer gown and dares Paolo to judge her. In her quiet way, she keeps Paolo on his toes and offers him the excitement he craves.

Due to another epic saga, my first Mills & Boon will release with my third this December, making Proof of Their Sin my North American debut. It will hit shelves in my hometown, on July first. I’m ridiculously excited. (I actually went into a store today to check for it and they groaned in empathy when they saw me. “It’s not here yet.”)

I hope Proof of Their Sin strikes a chord with you. Here’s the blurb:

A beautiful mistake…

Pregnant. Lauren Bradley’s heart stops-there’s only one man who can be the father and it’s not her late husband, the man everyone thinks is a celebrated war hero….

Ravaged with guilt at sleeping with his best friend’s wife, Paolo Donatelli closes his heart to Lauren forever. But in nine months’ time, the proof of their incredible night together will be there for the world to see.

Marriage is Paolo’s answer to avoiding more scandal, but it’s Lauren’s worst fear-she still bears the scars from the first time she said I do. Can she trust Paolo enough to reveal the truth?

Buy: Proof of Their Sin (One Night With Consequences)

What makes a romance stand out from the pack for you? Do you have an example of something really different that worked really well for you—or didn’t at all?

GIVEAWAY: I have a copy of Proof Of Their Sin for one lucky commenter.

dani collinsBio: Dani Collins spent two decades submitting to every publisher with a transom while holding down a day job and raising a family with her high school sweet heart.

When The Call finally came, Dani ran with it, going to contract on eight books in that first year. Along with her Harlequin Mills & Boon titles, she has an epic fantasy romance, The Healer, with Champagne Books and an indie-published rom-com, Hustled To The Altar.

While her stories span very different genres, she always delivers alpha-male heroes squaring off with spirited heroines in a deeply emotional, unforgettable romance.

Buy: Proof of Their Sin (One Night With Consequences)

I’d love to hear from you. Find me at:

www.danicollins.com | FB:DaniCollinsAuthor | @DaniCollinsBook |Goodreads

Buy: Proof of Their Sin (One Night With Consequences)