Get into Bed with Linda Miller (Author Interview)

Miller_Linda Lael_09Keira: Do you write every day? Do you have a writing routine?

Linda Miller: Yes, mostly.  I write five days a week, from about 9 am., stopping at 1 or 2 pm because by then my brain starts turning to jelly.  I am definitely a morning person.  Sometimes, when a deadline is pressing hard, I’ll put in longer hours and work weekends, but mostly I avoid that.  I need time to refill the well by reading, doing art, puttering in the yard and playing with the pets.

Keira: If you could go back 15 or 20 years ago and give yourself one piece of writerly advice, what would it be?

Linda: I LOVE this question—I don’t think I’ve ever been asked this one before.  I’d tell myself to chill out, relax, and not take myself so seriously, to go with the flow and to avoid comparing myself to other writers at all costs.

Keira: Big Sky Secrets has a fair share of family drama and a lot of family secrets and family history comes to light throughout the course of the book. Did you set out to write a book like this or did Ria and Landry’s stories just kind of come together?

Linda: I always start with a few characters and a situation.  I have a general idea how the story will play out as I begin, but my stories tend to evolve, often surprising me with the direction they take.  As I’d become acquainted with both Landry and Ria in “Big Sky Wedding”, I had a pretty good idea what they’d do in any given circumstance.

Keira: Big Sky Secrets is the last of the Big Sky novels. Why did you save Ria and Landry for last?

Linda: It just turned out that way.  Each of the Big Sky books grew from the one preceeding it–in essence, what we have here is one long story.  I love to create a community, people it with interesting characters, and just let things unfold as I write along.

Keira: There are some great teenage characters in Big Sky Secrets. How did you get into the teen mindset to write Quinn and Nash?

Linda: It’s been a long time since I was a teenager myself, and since I raised one, but I guess I still have an affinity for them.  They’re not children and not adults, either, and that presents them with specific challenges to meet and overcome.  Good stories are all about overcoming challenges, methinks.

Keira: Quinn’s stray dog Bones is as loveable as any fictional dog ever. You are known for your love of animals and working them into your books. Was there a particular dog that inspired Bones?

Linda: I love ALL dogs (plus cats, horses and every other kind of creature), especially those in need of a loving home.  When I write about animals, I’m hoping, deep down, that folks will be reminded to be kind to them–not that the vast majority of my readers need a reminder, because they love God’s creatures as much as I do.  Still, it’s a good thing to keep in mind–there’s no such thing as too much compassion.

Keira: Readers and reviewers have loved the Big Sky books and we know a lot of them will be sad to see the series come to an end. What’s next that we can be looking forward to?

Linda: I’ve already started a whole new “Marriage” series, set in a fictional Wyoming town called Mustang Creek in the present day–a town that happens to resemble Jackson Hole.    I recently traveled there to get my bearings, so to speak, and see what my characters will see.  The first book is called “The Marriage Pact”, and includes a sexy cowboy hero, Tripp Galloway, a smart, feisty heroine, Hadleigh Stevens, and at least two adopted dogs–Ridley and Muggles.  There’s no telling, though, what other four-leggers might turn up as the story goes on–like human characters, they tend to show up out of nowhere and demand to be part of it all.

BigSkySecrets_CoverBig Sky Secrets:

The “First Lady of the West,” #1 New York Times bestselling author Linda Lael Miller delivers the stunning finale of her acclaimed series set in Parable, Montana—where love awaits

Self-made tycoon Landry Sutton heads to Hangman Bend’s Ranch to sell his land to his brother Zane. Though he’s got cowboy in his blood, Landry plans to return to city life before the dust even settles on his boots. Of course, he didn’t count on falling for Big Sky Country…or Ria Manning.

Ria’s starting to settle into country life herself…until she has a close encounter of the terrifying kind with a buffalo. Turns out the peeping monster belongs to the cowboy next door—and he has her running even more scared than his bison. She wants a home where the buffalo don’t roam, and the men don’t either. Could Landry’s homecoming be her heart’s undoing?

Buy: Big Sky Secrets

Review: It Had to Be You (Lucky Harbor, Book 7) by Jill Shalvis

it had to be youHeroine: Have you ever been broken up with by a text message? Well, Ali Winters sure has. When trying to give him a piece of her mind, she finds out her boyfriend, Teddy, has been cheating. When had they gone from being together to being roommates? Now he’s claiming she stole money from his office during a fundraising event and the whole town believes him. To top it all off, she’s about to be kicked out of her house, because the cheating louse of a boyfriend didn’t tell her the lease was up until it was too late.

Hero: Detective Lieutenant Luke Hanover returns to his hometown after a particularly nasty case with a three-ring media circus. He’s going to use the downtime to fix up his house and discovers Ali Winters naked inside. What’s going on and why is this female in his home? She’s an interloper! When she tells him what is going on, he finds himself doing the one thing he was certain he wasn’t going to do – investigate. But he can’t not help!

Review: Luke is a great alpha hero – he’s a gogetter, tough, strong, kind, and tender. He plays the role without being an overbearing blockhead in the process. Ali is also tough. For a gal that was dumped, homeless, losing a job, and about to be arrested for something she didn’t do, she kept herself pretty together. She didn’t give up even when she was feeling really down. And when it gets to be too much, Luke is there to pick her up. For two people who see the end coming before they start, they find they can’t help themselves. Then they find they are both willing to do what it takes to make it stick. Hot!

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: It Had to Be You (Lucky Harbor)

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Review: The Perfect Match (Blue Heron, Book 2) by Kristan Higgins

The Perfect MatchReviewed by Lynn Reynolds

Honor Grace Holland has a unique experience that I don’t think I’ve ever read in a Prologue before – I feel for her. She has an agenda and it includes Brogan Cain. But what’s great about an author’s imagination is that nothing is ever set in stone.

Tom Barlow is a college professor who’s a transplant and it seems that the women of his class like that. I like how Kristan doesn’t make things nice and rosy for everyone. There are real life issues that intercede to cause real problems. But Honor seems to take it all in stride even though she may not want to. Tom’s life doesn’t seem to be that much better. But these conflicts are what hold your interest. Being that this is a book with quite a few pages, if there weren’t any issues that got in the way would you want to read it until the end?

It also surprised me how quickly I got through the pages – I just couldn’t stop reading. There were so many characters that I wanted to know how they made out. One young man that stood out was Charlie – you could feel his growing pains. He’s also a character that you can relate to.

I was left wishing I was part of this family, hating Brogan and Honor’s best friend, and wanting to know what Charlie was like as an adult. It also has me wanting to take a road trip to New York and find this quaint town. Since I was reading this book during the Fall season, I think that it was the perfect time of year. You want to read a book that you just want to curl up with and have something hot, like apple cider. By the time you finish, you’ll be left with a smile on your face – a great HEA ending.

You’ll also be happy to know that there’s a book three in this Blue Heron series. The bad news is that it doesn’t come out until almost the end of March. But if you haven’t read book one, titled The Best Man, you will have plenty of time before Waiting On You comes out. This is not a series you will want to miss.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: The Perfect Match (The Blue Heron Series)

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Review: The Hero (Thunder Point, Book 3) by Robyn Carr

The HeroReviewed by Lynn Reynolds

Devon McAllister is carrying her three-year-old daughter and then is lucky enough to catch a ride to Thunder Point. I hope if you’re reading this book that you’ve also read the other two in the series. You will continue getting to know about the town and some of its inhabitants. It will also leave you wanting to pack your bags and moving there.

In this story, we finally get to know the character named Rawley Goode. Rawley is a very caring soul and I wish there were more people like him in this world. Robyn makes me wonder if she has fashioned him after someone she knows.

Spencer Lawson is the new Athletic Director at the high school. He and his ten-year-old son, Austin, are staying at Cooper’s old place for now. He also has something in common with Devon.

While reading this book, in the beginning I kept thinking of Devon as a man – I have a nephew of the same name. The difference is that he spells his name with an “I” and she spells her name with an “O”. So now that I have that figured out, I don’t have that problem any more.

Robyn has put an interesting twist in this book – Devon has two men to choose from and both men have children. Scott is a doctor and Spencer is a coach – what an interesting dilemma. What a great reason to keep reading in order to find out who wins her heart.

This isn’t just Devon’s story. We get to see what’s happening with the other characters that we’ve come to love in the first two books. This book will have you smiling – our author knows exactly how to please her readers. She also creates a town where everyone cares about everyone else.

In my opinion this is a series that would be a good fit for the Hallmark Channel. Yes, there’s some violence but that is part of where Devon came from so it needs to be there. It also makes me wonder as to the type of research Robyn needed to do in order for the storyline to at least appear accurate. She also knows when to add something that will have the reader on the edge of their seats and holding our breaths until we know that everything is all right.

A great author knows how to create believable characters. It makes me wonder if she questioned any males to find out how they would behave during certain situations – this would include both civilians and men in the military. Or does she just instinctively know how to get these characters right? You will be happy to know that the next book in the series, titled The Chance, is due out in March 2014.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: The Hero (Thunder Point)

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The Community in Small Town Romances

One Day in Apple Grove CoverGuest Blog by C.H. Admirand, author of One Day in Apple Grove

Thanks so much for inviting me back to guest blog at Love, Romance, Passion! I’m delighted to be here! Small town romance gives me the opportunity to write about neighborhoods and towns similar to the ones my husband and I grew up in and the one we’ve raised our children in.

Growing up on Cedar Hill—a tiny corner of Wayne, New Jersey—our neighborhood was like living in a small town. There were twenty-five homes in our little hamlet of dead-end streets. Unless you lived off Circle Drive, there wasn’t any reason to go to Cedar Hill. Tucked away from the rest of the world, we lived in idyllic surroundings. We could run or ride our bikes to our friend’s house and still hear when mom rang the dinner bell—a cowbell my dad found when he was a kid living in Colorado—not to be mistaken from the ship’s bell suspended between two trees that called our neighbor home—his dad had been in the Navy.

For the last thirty-one years, we’ve lived in a small lake community. My husband grew up in one and from the stories of his childhood, I knew that was the atmosphere we wanted for our kids. It was a mixed community with residents who’d lived there for forty years and those of us who’d just moved in. Five of us were pregnant at the same time and forged a bond that carried over to our kids. They played together, attended preschool together, and graduated from high school together.

One element of both neighborhoods was the core group of women responsible for keeping tabs on everyone and making sure to spread the word, both good and bad; it was like having a town crier. On Cedar Hill, it was my grandmother, my great-aunt, and both Mrs. Johnsons who kept everyone abreast of the neighborhood goings-on. In Lindy’s Lake, it was Honey Baker, Marty Walsh, Ann Ahrens, and Millie Salisbury.

In the fictionalized town of Apple Grove, Ohio, it is Mrs. Winter, Miss Philo, and Honey B. Harrington who are the glue that keeps the town together and in the know. So brew a cup of tea or grab a cup of coffee, put your feet up and relax, and spend some time getting to know the good people of Apple Grove.

The one element that I love to include in my stories will always be neighbors helping neighbors—it’s what I grew up with and what we raised our children with. Times change and lives get busy and it is so easy to be immersed in your own existence, and totally miss what is going on around you. I know, because I’ve been there—and when I come back to the reality of family, friends, and neighbors—I realize how much I’ve missed and how sorry I am to have done so.

And now a question for readers: Did you grow up in a close-knit community or small town? If so, what element did you love best about your town?

ONE DAY IN APPLE GROVE BY C.H. ADMIRAND – IN STORES JUNE 2013

Welcome to Apple Grove, Ohio (pop. 597), a small town with a big heart.

Caitlin Mulcahy loves her family. She really does. But sometimes they can drive her to her last shred of sanity—from her dad (“I’m not meddling, I just want what’s best for you”) to her eight-months-pregnant older sister to her younger sister, who will do just about anything to avoid real work. Cait just needs to get away, even if for only an hour.

When she sees someone in need of help on the side of the road, of course she’s going to pull over. She might even be able to fix his engine—after all, the Mulcahy family is a handy bunch. She’s not expecting that former Navy medic Jack Gannon and a little black puppy named Jameson will be the ones who end up rescuing in her.

Buy: One Day in Apple Grove

C.H. Admirand Pub Photo

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

C.H. Admirand was born in Aiken, South Carolina, but grew up in New Jersey. She has been delighting readers with her Secret Life of Cowboys Series, featuring three cowboy brothers with Irish charm, and is now working on the next book in her small town contemporary romance series, featuring the town and quirky characters of Apple Grove, OH. She lives with her husband, who is the inspiration for all of her heroes’ best traits, in New Jersey. For more information, please visit www.CHAdmirand.com.

Buy: One Day in Apple Grove

 GIVEAWAY: 1 copy of  A Wedding in Apple Grove (Book 1 in the Small Town USA Series, and directly preceding the new book, One Day in Apple Grove). Open to US and Canadian readers. Enter by answering C.H. Admirand’s question about small towns! Last day to enter:  June 14, 2013.

Review: Cowboy Take Me Away (Rainbow Valley, Book 1) by Jane Graves

Cowboy Take Me AwayReviewed by Patsy F.

Summary: The story begins and continues throughout to be very atypical. It begins when one of the main characters (Luke) returns to his hometown to attend the funeral of his father. Luke had not spoken to his father in years and had a tumultuous relationship with the man.

Luke runs into ex-girlfriend (Shannon) and falls in love again. Shannon is drawn toward Luke now that he has grown and tries to fight her feelings. As he tries to pursue his dream of being in the rodeo circuit, he soon feels compelled to help Shannon at her animal rescue shelter. Soon he realizes that when he left town years ago, he left a piece of himself that he had long ago forgotten about. He soon misses the small town atmosphere and the heartfelt relationship of the townspeople.

He does get his shot at the bull riding championship, but is this what he really wants or does he want the life he could have with Shannon in their small hometown?

Review: This is a very sweet contemporary romance. It truly is a love story, but has no real surprises and no real mystery. As the story progresses, you can almost assume what is going to happen. If you like soft romances with a focus on family you will like this book.

Rating: ★★½☆☆

Buy: Cowboy Take Me Away (Rainbow Valley)

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Review: The Best Man (Blue Heron, Book 1) by Kristan Higgins

best manHeroine: Faith Holland was jilted when her fiance’s best friend outs him as gay at the wedding. Ever since, Faith keeps stumbling upon all the wrong men in her quest for love and marriage. The book opens when Faith is on date three with a guy that turns sour fast when his wife shows up and shouts obscenities at her. She has no intentions of returning to her Blue Heron, her hometown, to face her ex, but then her sister calls and tells her about a gold digger who is making plays at their father so she rushes home… only to get pulled over –

Hero: Police Chief Levi Cooper broke up the wedding because he knew it would make Jeremy miserable in the long run and he wanted the best for his friend. He’s never been a fan of Princess Super-Cute (hated this nickname, and Levi never gives her another one) so it wasn’t for her benefit and he couldn’t care less if she forgave him for it. After a disastrous month-long marriage to a woman in the forces, Levi is determined to only date women who will stay and Faith is certainly not that woman.

Review: I liked the friendship between Levi and Jeremy, and I also liked how Faith and Jeremy were able to shift gears into being friends. It seemed important if the three of them were going to live in the same small town. The best scene was Faith stuck in the bathroom window –

“Is there a problem here ma’am?”

“Nope, just taking in the view.”

“Me too. Nice night isn’t it?”

“It is. It’s beautiful.”

“What happened to your shirt?”

“I, um…I had a wardrobe malfunction.”

“I see. […] So, what happened?”

“I flushed my sweater down the toilet.”

“That happens to me all the time.”

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Buy: The Best Man

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Review: The Wanderer (Thunder Point, Book 1) by Robyn Carr

the wandererReviewed by Lynn Reynolds

Hank Cooper is driving along the coast from California into Oregon. There’s just something so peaceful when you’re driving along a coastal road. Cooper has just moved to Thunder Point, Oregon – the name is perfect for a coastal town. It reminds me of a place that I used to go for summer vacations – Brant Rock Massachusetts. It was a great place to enjoy the beach, visit the local candy shop where they made their own taffy, and the little store had penny candy (sorry I’m dating myself).

If you liked the people of Virgin River, I think you’ll find the people of Thunder Point almost the same – it’s a place you would love to move to. It’s a place where everyone cares about each other. And a place that brings back childhood memories. I’m looking forward to falling in love with the characters in this newest series.

Sarah Dupre has lived in Thunder Point for only a short while. She’s trying to make a life for herself and her brother, Landon. He appears to be the typical high school newbie. She has a job that not too long ago a woman would not have been able to have.

What I love about this new book of Robyn’s is that Cooper and Sarah don’t meet right away. She builds Cooper’s story first, then he meets Landon, and then he connects with Sarah. And it was a very interesting first meeting.

Make sure that you pay attention to the second time that Cooper and Sarah have a “date”. It was very interesting, had me chuckling (which wasn’t good since I was at a bus stop), and it made me hungry. That wasn’t a good thing either because I hadn’t had my breakfast yet.

Robyn has also included a secondary “couple” that I found to be very interesting. Gina is a woman who knows what she wants and Mac hasn’t a clue. They are just one more reason to keep reading and see if it goes anywhere.

The reader will get the perfect ending. There is an HEA – kinda sorta – with just enough to use your imagination as to what you want the ending to be. And then again, maybe they will make an appearance in another book so that we know if we gave them the correct ending.

You will also be happy to know that book two titled The Newcomer will be out toward the end of June. It gives you time to enjoy this book and if you feel so inclined, you can go back and finish up the Virgin River Series. It’s a great way to get your list of summer reads ready. You will also be able to add book three to your list since The Hero will be out toward the end of August.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: The Wanderer (Thunder Point)

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