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

Get into Bed with Lauren Layne (Author Interview)

lauren layneKeira: Only With You features an enemies-to-lovers trope. What is your favorite aspect of enemies-to-lovers plots?

Lauren Layne: From the moment I discovered romantic comedies, enemies-to-lovers became a favorite. Actually, probably THE favorite. But it’s not until I started writing my own romance stories that I figured out why: instant-conflict. Have you ever picked up a romance that had exquisite writing, relatable characters, but you just couldn’t get into it? It’s probably because there wasn’t enough conflict; not enough “stuff” keeping the two characters apart. With the enemies-to-lovers plot, there is so much anticipation on the page because these two people don’t like each other … and yet they DO. It’s like the Holy Grail for sexual tension.

The other reason I love enemies-to-lovers? It’s a great set up for fun banter. Banter is my favorite thing to write, and when my two main characters are at odds, I get to write lots of it!

Keira: It also features an office romance and a romance where a main character dates a sibling’s “ex”. Both can be tricky to navigate without coming across tacky and I think you hit a home-run. What were you most aware of as potential pitfalls while writing this book?

Lauren: I so appreciate you saying that these elements worked for you, because you’re correct … getting them right was HARD. As far as the office-romance goes, I’ve always been a sucker for them, but I’m also a feminist, so it was really important for me that Sophie wasn’t the little woman who was pushing papers, in awe of her big, important boss. In order to give a modern-take on the boss/secretary romance, I tried to make it clear that Sophie’s job choice was very deliberate. She was in charge of her life, she was calling the shots. And I’ve worked as a receptionist at a big company; it’s freaking hard, important work!

As far as the “dating of the sister’s ex,” that was even more difficult. I really have to credit my agent with helping me get that part right. In earlier drafts, I skimmed over it TOO much, so it wasn’t believable. In later drafts, I went too far the other way, and made Gray and Brynn too much of a thing. Finally, FINALLY I found the happy in-between phase. I think. I hope.

Keira: Gray has a gut reaction to meeting Sophie. She reminds him of his ex-fiance in her appearance. He’s introverted and awkward around people, failing at the most basic social niceties – in other words, he sticks his foot in it a time or two. What was something Gray said or did that he felt most embarrassed by later?

Lauren: Ha. Poor, poor Gray. But really, don’t we all know a few real life Grays? Those people who have a GREAT heart, but for whatever reason, are really, REALLY bad at showing it?

As far as “in the book” moments that he regrets: that in-the-elevator meeting with Sophie, for SURE. Not only was he guilty of a snap-judgment, but he’s guilty of saying it out-loud. Major no no. As far as moments in his past that the reader doesn’t get to see? I definitely picture him being an absolute disaster asking a girl to prom :)

Keira: How do you define love? What does it take to be with someone for the long-haul?

Lauren: You know, this is such a great question, and one I think about  lot, not only because my chosen career is writing love stories, but because of my personal life. My husband and I met at 15, started dating at 17, married at 23 … basically we’re a recipe for “married too young,” but we’re 31 now and seem to get happier every day. And sometimes I’m like, “How? Why? Why does this work SO well for us, and not everyone?” I think the difficult answer to this question is that it’s just not the same for every couple. For us, it’s definitely laughter. We make each other laugh SO much, every day, so the relationship rarely feels like work. But that’s just our personality; it’s not the way everyone works. We have friends in successful relationships that are all about shared goals. Or adventurous spirit. Or dedication to family.

I think what makes a relationship work for the long-haul is figuring out what brought you together in the first place and watering the hell out of that seed so that it continues to grow. But at the same time, give each other room to grow and change. And you know what? Be interesting. A significant other that has his/her own thing going on is SEXY.

Keira: What makes a sex scene in a romance? (And I think I know where you might go with this question – banter and anticipation – which Only with You has in spades!)

Lauren: Ha, you caught me! A sex scene without build-up is to me, just a description of body-parts touching other body parts. Snooze. Anticipation is everything. I recently read Screwdrivered by Alice Clayton, in which the hero/heroine don’t even kiss until the last 95% of the book, but it’s one of the hottest books I’ve read all year, because it’s been building the ENTIRE STORY.

I tend to look at structure of movies when I write; romantic comedy screenplays can tell us a lot about pacing. With the exception of Friends With Benefits storylines, rarely do you see the main characters getting it on until at LEAST halfway through. And THE kiss at the end of those movies? It’s everything.

Keira: In what ways would the story have changed if Sophie wore the sensible shoes instead of the boots?

Lauren: You know … GREAT question! I’ve never even thought about it, because those darn boots were in my very earliest conception of the story. I think, likely, Sophie and Gray would have exchanged polite smiles and never seen each other again (well okay, Sophie would have drooled, and Gray wouldn’t have smiled, because he’s Gray). But you get the idea … these characters are SO opposite, they really needed “exceptional circumstances” to bring each other together. Or in this case, exceptional footwear!

Keira: What’s the next Best Mistake?

Lauren: Next up is the story of Sophie’s uptight sister, Brynn. It was a really tricky one to write, because in book 1, she verges on being slightly unlikable. She’s rigid, a little prissy and self-absorbed. But honestly? Brynn’s books is one of my favorites because of these flaws. She’s my most imperfect heroine, and I think that makes her story so real. Made for You (October 28th) is the only book of mine that I’ve gone back and read “just for fun.” I love it that much :)

Layne_Only With You_MM[1]About ONLY WITH YOU

Getting mistaken for a prostitute is not part of Sophie Dalton’s life plan. Not that Sophie even has a life plan. She’s perfectly happy being everyone’s favorite party girl. But then a Las Vegas bachelorette party goes awry, and an uptight businessman gives Sophie a new label: hooker.

Unfortunately, what happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay there. When the same jerk who mistook her for a prostitute shows up as Sophie’s new boss and her perfect sister’s new boyfriend, Sophie’s carefree existence is turned upside down. Grayson Wyatt may have infiltrated family dinners and her professional world, but Sophie’s not about to let a judgmental prude anywhere near her personal life.

As Gray’s icy stares give way to quiet smiles, Sophie realizes that the one man she’s been so desperate to get away from just might be the one she wants to keep around forever.

Buy: Only with You (The Best Mistake)

Layne_Made for You_MMAbout MADE FOR YOU

Three years ago, Brynn Dalton made a rare error in judgment and had a one-night stand with the one man she swore would never get into her designer panties. Will Thatcher was exactly the type of sexy playboy that good girls like Brynn stayed away from. And when Will moved across the country just days after their fling, Brynn vowed to put him behind her, even as the memories haunt her.

Now Will Thatcher is back, and just in time to see Brynn’s perfectly structured life begin to crumble. Her job is dull, her social life is tedious, and Brynn’s perfect cardiologist boyfriend doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to get to Tiffany & Co. More than ever, Brynn needs her childhood nemesis to keep his distance.

But Will isn’t content to be Brynn’s dirty little secret any longer. This time, he’s out to show Brynn Dalton that the imperfect man might just be the best mistake of her life.

Buy: Made for You (The Best Mistake)

About Lauren Layne

Lauren Layne writes contemporary romance for Grand Central Publishing (Forever) and Random House(Loveswept).

After dabbling in an e-commerce career in Seattle and Southern California, Lauren moved to New York City where she now writes full time.

Lauren graduated from Santa Clara University with B.S. in Political Science that she has yet to put to good use. She lives with her husband and plus-sized pomeranian in a tiny Manhattan studio.

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Get into Bed with Dawn Ryder (Author Interview)

out of boundsKeira: Tarak, the hero of your story Out of Bounds, wasn’t always at the top – his success story started somewhere – what was his turning point?

Dawn Ryder: I loved that part of his character. Tarak had to stick it out on a gold claim up in Alaska. He wanted something more and went after it. A trait I consider essential in a hero.

Keira: Sabra and Tarak switch the usual roles in romance. What does it take for a dominate male to surrender?

Dawn: I’m not sure he ever truly surrendered, at least until he let Sabra into his heart. Tarak enjoyed showing Sabra how to be bold and for that, she needed to think she had control.

Keira: And for a meek woman to call the shots?

Dawn: For Sabra, this took a lot of trust. Tarak was her boss and she wanted to make it on her own. Here’s their first meeting-

Excerpt-

“Sabra Donovan, analyst, master’s in bio fuels. Correct?”

It sounded as if he only added the last word as a courtesy. There was certainly nothing questioning in his sharp gaze. He knew exactly what he wanted and intended to get it. The pure abundance of confidence was mesmerizing.

“I think you have me at a disadvantage,” she muttered.

Pleasure flashed in his eyes. His lips twitched up just a tiny fraction, almost too faint to measure, but she saw it. In fact, she was sure he wanted her to notice. He wasn’t the sort who apologized for anything.

Arrogant too.

He was—and completely unashamed of it.

“I’m your boss.”

She stepped back, something inside of her recoiling. The hot curl of excitement was lingering in her clit, so she wasn’t really sure what it was she objected to, only that complete submission was out of the question. It wasn’t a conscious thought, but something she felt on a very personal level.

His eyes narrowed, somehow becoming more sensuous, more determined.

“Excuse me,” he offered softly. “Tarak Nektosha, your employer.”

She was a complete idiot. He wasn’t Japanese; he was Apache. Lawless, savage, and exactly like the line of vehicles his company produced.

“I require someone to help me cut the ribbon,” he clarified.

“Oh…” She glanced back at the waiting table. The press was positioned near it, their hands on their cameras, more than one was casting an impatient look toward Tarak. “Sure.”

As far as a professional response went, it lacked a lot. But saying “yes, sir” just seemed too submissive. A large part of her flatly rebelled. It was a system-wide rejection, one she was sure she hadn’t experienced before in her life. No man had ever unleashed such a bundle of emotions inside her.

Or so much heat.

Get a grip, girl…

And fast too. It was her frickin’ boss.

Keira: What do you love best about office romances?

Dawn: In this case, I loved the fact that Tarak and Sabra were two forces colliding. It didn’t matter where they were, once they met, there was no ignoring each other.

Keira: What’s the sexiest thing about Tarak?

Dawn: His determination. He never quits because quitters never win.

Keira: What’s the sexiest thing about Sabra?

Dawn: She’s intent on carving her nitch. I love the way she wants to give in completely to Tarak. She knows it isn’t the wise thing but she also knows that she’ll be missing something mind blowing if she lets the opportunity slip through her fingers.

Keira: What hurdles must they both overcome to be able to commit to their relationship?

Dawn: Tarak has given up on love. His heart was torn in the past and he’s convinced himself that love is just a figment of the imagination. Sabra has to put her new career on the line and follow Tarak up to Alaska, which means she just might be in a slightly dangerous situation. What the modern woman in her knows and what she craves are in conflict. Is she going to be impulsive or play it safe?

Keira: How do you define love and romance?

Dawn: Love is something truly unique. It grows out of attraction and binds souls together. It rarely makes logical sense and has no sense of timing but it is the ultimate gift from fate. It’s also the most extreme test fate can offer because to receive love, you have to trust…unconditionally.

Keira: What does it take to make a Happily Ever After successful and work?

Dawn: I think the author has to take a couple from hot sex to making love. Not that making love can’t be hot but there is a big difference.

Keira: What’s next for you?

filthy rich

Dawn: Filthy Rich. It will follow ‘Out of Bounds’.

Book Blurb:

Power may be best when it’s shared…
He’s used to dominating…

Tarak Nektosha is a self-made man, against all odds. He accomplished that by making sure he’s the one in charge, both in the boardroom and in the bedroom.

She’s taking her power back…

Sabra Donovan has ambition to spare and energy to burn. So what if her last lover was a disappointment? She’s never going to be anyone’s plaything ever again.

Sabra’s outstanding performance at a corporate photo op attracts Tarak’s attention, and the lines begin to blur. What happens when the one on top surrenders and the one used to obeying begins to call the shots?

Buy: Out of Bounds

Review: The Love Wars by L. Allison Heller

love warsReviewed by Karin

LRP gave me a copy of the book to review. I’m only sorry it took me so long to get to it. I thought it was very well done. The author herself is also a divorce lawyer, so she undoubtedly knows the ins and outs of divorces, the courts, the defenses and offenses, which she presents articulately.

Molly Grant is on track to get her 5 year bonus which will enable her to pay off her student loans and her parents’ home and other loans.

Then she meets Fern Walker whose wealthy ex-husband has painted her as unfit. He has alienated the children’s affections from her and essentially kept the children from her. Complicating matters is that Fern had postpartum depression after the birth of her second child — which certainly wasn’t made easier by the kind of man her ex-husband is. He’s set himself up with a woman (not married) who calls herself ‘mommy’ — which she emphatically is not.

No one will take Fern’s case. Molly decides she will, because of something that happened with another potential client earlier in her career. But to do this, she has to do it outside of office hours, not within the corporation for which she works.

All’s well that ends well, and you know it will.

Molly is a great protagonist: gutsy, smart, does her homework, learns what she has to learn to defend Fern.

Meantime the ex- is showing his true colors, and Fern has the support of her court ordered therapist and neutral advocate. It’s a good thing!

And Molly finds an ally at the office, as well as true love.

What could be better!

Well, what will happen when the firm finds out? And what decision will Molly make?

Have you read it?

I give it 5 out of 5 star. I would definitely read another book by this author.

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: The Love Wars

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