Blog Tour + Author Interview + GIVEAWAY!!! – When it All Falls Apart by Catherine Bybee

Interview with Catherine Bybee

For anyone wondering the plot of your newest release, you give a great sneak peek with the title—When it Falls Apart. What is “falling apart” in this novel?

All the threads that hold my heroine, Brooke, together are crumbling down around her. When it Falls Apart begins with Brooke’s romantic relationship crashing and burning. At the same time, in a different state, her father is circling the drain in the ICU. And for the cherry on the top of her “falling apart life”, Brooke has found herself demoted at work. In short, everything in Brooke’s life is dissolving around her.

Like all of your books, When it Falls Apart has a beautiful romance, however, there is a rawness about Brooke’s story. How was writing this novel different from your others?

If you read my notes both in the front and the back of this novel, you’ll soon realize that the story was very personal to me. Rawness comes from experience. The relationship Brooke has with her father is hauntingly familiar to me and my dad. The emotions that the heroine experienced when taking care of him were easy for me to grasp onto and write about. Sadly, the love story with Luca was completely made up and I didn’t have the support of a strong Italian family to help deal with the struggles, but I digress. 

Relationships with a parent who wasn’t there for you growing up are messy. When that parent ages and needs their child, sometimes that help comes with a bucketload of resentment, even if the child wishes they could stop those ugly feelings from creeping up on them. And THAT is the rawness you speak of.

Books, TV shows, and movies oftentimes glamorize what it means to care for a loved one. However, in When it Falls Apart you don’t sugar-coat anything about caregiving and the toll it takes on a person. How do you think readers who have been in similar situations will be affected by this story?

Justified. Validated. Accepted.

It’s a hard job taking care of an elderly family member. And if there aren’t other siblings to help, or won’t help, it’s made even more difficult. It’s difficult, gritty, dirty work that only has a bad ending…eventually. What I do hope my readers take away is that they’re not alone. That the struggle is very real and that if they don’t find balance (which is almost impossible at times) they will burn out completely and not be fit to help at all. I hope my readers are empowered to set boundaries and balance, so they come out on the other side of caring for an elderly loved one whole themselves.

Brooke gets virtually no support from her significant other, which has her reevaluating their relationship. She realizes she has settled and has to make some hard decisions. Do you think this happens too many times to women in real life?

100% Yes! There is a song by Taylor Swift with a line that says, and I’m paraphrasing here, I can be what you want for the weekend. But often that weekend ends up being a relationship that women hold on to or are convinced they can’t live without. Often it takes a huge shake-up to remove yourself from that situation. But once you’re away from the day to day dysfunctional relationship, the easier it is to see the dysfunction.

After her breakup and move, Brooke is not looking for a relationship. In fact, she tells her best friend: “I haven’t wiped off my smeared mascara from Marshall yet, the last thing I want is to jump into anything else.” Her crying over a man lasts all about two minutes when she meets Luca. Tell us about him.

Hmmm, Luca… he is the kind of man who doesn’t want a place on Brooke’s dance card…he wants to rip it up.

Luca is wired to help the people in his life. Brooke becomes a part of his inner circle simply by moving into the family building where he sees her every day.

Now, if Luca had flat out asked Brooke on a date, she would have run the other way…so no, he doesn’t go about it that way. He simply shows up and does not leave. Not when things get tough, or messy…or when his own past peeks its head in. Luca is a man who is right there at Brooke’s side without question or censor on why she does the things she does. His support and validation of her feelings is the part she was missing. Add in the hunky Italian single father and “Mamma Mia!”

At first, Luca is not thrilled that Brooke is renting a room in his family’s building. What changes his mind about her?

Her strength and vulnerability. I know that sounds contradicting, but some of the strongest women I know have a big vulnerable spot in their life that if you know them well enough, you see. The biggest smiles often hide the deepest pain. Luca sees her struggle and dedication to helping her elderly father and since family is first on Luca’s list, she passes his unconscious test.

Luca’s family, the D’Angelo’s, are incredibly close and share everything from ownership of the family restaurant to helping care for Luca’s daughter Franny. How is this different from Brooke’s relationship with her family?

Brooke doesn’t have that family. She has a father who abandoned her as a little girl that she carved out a relationship as an adult, and now she’s charged with caring for. Even her previous romantic relationship didn’t support her unconditionally the way the D’Angelo’s do for each other. She’s rather dumbfounded when they start treating her like family. It’s a wonderful thing to watch happen.

San Diego’s Little Italy plays a huge part in the story. The community, language, and food are in full display. Tell us about your own experiences in your adopted city.

I love Little Italy, the food, the pace… the people. There are many places in San Diego that are overrun with the college scene, San Diego is a college town. But Little Italy is more family friendly. Very touristy, but there isn’t a day you don’t see locals hanging out. I go to the farmer’s market often. Pick up authentic Italian ingredients for my own home cooking. I try new restaurants and take all my friends there when they are visiting from out of town. Not to mention it was the closest thing to the “real Italy” that I could go during the travel restrictions. So why not write about it and tell the world of this small island within San Diego that shouldn’t be missed?

There are two more siblings in the D’Angelo family. Where will you be taking readers next with the series?

Chloe is a yogi. Think Bali!

And Giovanni loves wine… think Tuscany, Italy.

I cannot wait to show you what I have in store for these two!

***

Excerpt

“Oh my God, Carmen. He was standing at his car first thing this morning. Like ‘hop in, bella, let’s get stuff done today.’ Who does that?” 

Brooke had picked up the phone as soon as Luca was off in search of a dump guy. 

“We’re talking about the single, hot, Italian dad, right?” 

Brooke rolled her eyes. “Yes. Luca.” 

“Oy, oy, oy.” 

“Stop it. I need advice. And I need it before he gets back.” 

Carmen stopped teasing. “You don’t need advice. You need to relax. He sounds like one of the good ones. Let it happen.” 

Let it happen,” she mocked. “I don’t ‘let’ things happen. It happens to me and it’s never good.” 

“You didn’t used to be such a pessimist.” 

“Once upon a time the glass was half full. Not these days.” 

“Okay, Debbie Downer. You want my advice . . . here it is. Keep doing whatever it is you’re doing.” 

“I’m not doing anything. Zero effort.” 

“Really?” Carmen didn’t sound convinced. “Makeup . . . a nice dress?” 

Brooke hesitated. “Maybe . . . a little last night, but that was it.” 

Carmen chuckled. 

“Carmen!”

“Sorry. Okay . . . any red flags?” 

Brooke thought about that. “He loved his ex-wife.” 

“That’s a red flag?” 

“I guess not.” 

“Is he good to his mom?” 

Brooke looked back on the dinner the night before. “To the whole family. He takes being the oldest brother quite seriously.” 

“And his daughter?” 

All Brooke could do was smile. “Great dad. We should all be so lucky.” 

“He’s Italian, does he smoke?” 

“No.” 

“A lot of Italians smoke,” Carmen pointed out. 

“In Italy. The San Diego variety are less in that wheelhouse.” 

“That’s good.” Carmen sighed. “I don’t know what to tell you, Brooke. How does he kiss?” 

“He hasn’t kissed me,” Brooke nearly yelled. 

“Now then . . . we have a problem.” 

“There hasn’t been . . . I don’t even know if—” 

“Stop right there. He did not drive your sorry ass all the way to Upland to do grunt work all day if he wasn’t interested in kissing you, bellllaaa. More than that, you want him to.” 

Brooke closed her eyes, and even in her own head she couldn’t convince herself that Carmen was wrong. 

“Let it happen. You deserve some happiness, Brooke.” 

The van with the air conditioning repair guy pulled into the driveway. 

“I gotta go.” 

“I want a kissing update the next time we talk,” Carmen teased. 

“Love you,” Brooke said with a laugh.

“Back at ya, boo.” 

She hung up. 

Her best friend was such a dork.

***

About the Title

Title: When It Falls Apart

Author: Catherine Bybee

Release Date: June 21, 2022

Publisher: Montlake 

Summary

Brooke Turner has always had a complicated relationship with her father. But when his health takes a turn for the worse, she drops everything to care for him. He’s her dad, after all, and he needs her. What Brooke doesn’t anticipate is the unraveling of her long-term relationship and a cross-country move to San Diego’s Little Italy.

Luca D’Angelo is the oldest of three children and a single father to a young daughter. When his mother rents the top floor of their house to Brooke, he’s angry. Who is this beautiful stranger with no ties to the neighborhood? Can she be trusted in such close proximity to his family?

As Luca learns of Brooke’s difficult journey with her ailing father, his heart softens. And Brooke, who witnesses Luca’s struggle as a single parent, develops feelings for him, too. But when it all falls apart, will love heal their wounded hearts?

About the Author

New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author Catherine Bybee has written twenty-eight books that have collectively sold more than five million copies and have been translated into more than eighteen languages. Raised in Washington State, Bybee moved to Southern California in the hope of becoming a movie star. After growing bored with waiting tables, she returned to school and became a registered nurse, spending most of her career in urban emergency rooms. She now writes full-time and has penned the Not Quite Series, the Weekday Brides Series, the Most Likely To Series, and the First Wives Series.

Social Media Links

Website: http://www.catherinebybee.com 

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/catherinebybee 

Tik Tok: https://www.tiktok.com/@catherinebybee1 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2905789.Catherine_Bybee  

Rafflecopter Giveaway

Direct Link

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/07c2363f277 

Blog Tour + Interview + GIVEAWAY: The Wedding Setup by Solini Dev

Hi Friends! I hope you’ve all had a lovely weekend! As you know, I do love supporting authors as they come out with new work, and this is another instance of that. Next Stop: The Wedding Setup!

Below you’ll find an interview with our author Sonali Dev, an except from her book and a chance to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card and digital copy of this new book! Definitely check it out, and my own personal review will be coming soon!

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Interview with Author Solini Dev

The Wedding Setup may be a short story, but it is tremendously powerful. How would you describe it to readers?

Thank you. It’s the story of a girl who used to be a rebel who followed her heart and fought for what she wanted, and then her brother’s death leaves her responsible for her widowed mother. It’s about being knocked off your feet and getting stuck, and learning how to stand back up and reclaim yourself.

The story invites us to take an intimate look into a mother-daughter relationship. This is a universal theme, however, you also steep the plot in your own Indian heritage. Can you tell readers what this story means to you as a daughter? What it means to you as an Indian woman?

There is so much of my own relationship with my mother in this book. We’ve always been incredibly close. She’s outspoken and confident and she modeled some powerful behaviors for me growing up about owning her own body and her voice. But there were the other parts where she was a product of her time and culture, believing in absolute terms that it is a woman’s duty to nurture her family, to marry ‘at the right time,’ to be a certain kind of mother. These are things she pushed hard. Things I internalized but also fought to do on my own terms and not hers. Ayesha’s relationship with her mother used to be this way, and then a tragedy changes their dynamic. So, it’s an exploration of how battles for identity get derailed by tragedy and grief and what it takes to heal.

Ayesha’s mom describes her as obedient, responsible, and “always putting everyone else before her own needs.” After hearing this Ayesha (internally) feels hypothermic. Can you explain how these seemingly sweet compliments completely destroy your heroine?

The mother-child bond comes with a kind of intuitive understanding of each other that’s unique to that relationship. So, while Ayesha has lost her fiery spirit and both she and her mother have lost years to their grief and struggle to survive, her mother knows who her daughter is deep down and how much she’s buried. So there’s a very nuanced intent to these ‘compliments’ and they hit the nerve they’re meant to hit. Ayesha’s reaction to these words is her dead parts coming back to life.

It only takes a moment—one second—for Ayesha to break free from her ice…a single word from Emmitt has her coming back to life. Why does she have such a powerful reaction to someone she hasn’t seen in seven years?

Ayesha had a crush on Emmitt for many years before they got together. She’s always had a strong reaction to him. The years they spent together as young adults were years when she came into herself, and felt seen and cherished. Then she loses all of that when her brother dies and they break up. So, it’s a combination of things that come together when Ayesha meets Emmitt again. They have a natural connection, but also, with his return come all the memories of who she used to be and how much she used to let herself feel.

Ayesha has never forgotten how Emmitt turns “her messy, impulsive, unfettered emotion into something beautiful.” But she has forgotten the effect that she has on him. What buried memories are uncovered as she watches Emmitt react to their reunion?

Emmitt has always dealt with the world and the pain it causes him by keeping everyone at arm’s length. But Ayesha destroys his defenses with her ability to love (and do everything else) so fiercely. So, when he loses her he’s already lost his ability to protect himself. Their joint grief is what separated them, so, while they understand each other’s pain they both also understand the loneliness of not having each other to lean on. They’ve had to make the journey to healing individually, but meeting each other again brings up the piece that needs the other to heal.

How did you get to know your couple? How were you able to understand what was needed to heal their broken hearts?

The one theme that threads through all my books is finding yourself on the tightrope between personal freedom and responsibility to family and community. Healing is always about finding or rediscovering your love for yourself. So, I understand my characters through that lens: how have they lost themselves? What about themselves do they need to reclaim and fall in love with? A truly connected couple is one who aids this journey in each other, recognizes it, and supports it.

In a limited number of pages you not only give readers a living, breathing couple, but also an avalanche of equally interesting characters like Ayesha’s best friend, suitor, aunties…and you even create depth with characters that are no longer living. Why was it so important to spend time with these secondary characters? What do they reveal about your hero and heroine?

I believe that as humans we are a sum total of our relationships and the world we live in and build for ourselves. How someone treats other people and how they respond to how they are treated is what constitutes character. 

At its heart, every story is about a person who is somehow at odds with the world they live in or with themselves because of the expectations of their world, and the journey they make to resolve that conflict. Ayesha wouldn’t be Ayesha without her mother and Bela, her best friend and the community she was raised in. Bela has been her wild other half growing up, then their paths diverged, but they continued to be each other’s support. Her mother has become a crutch she uses to hold on to her grief. Emmitt’s grief over his friend has run his life for seven years too. So the secondary characters are just as integral to the story as the protagonists.

While the plot focuses on grief, there is also great joy to be found. After all, the backdrop of the story is a giant wedding. What do you personally find the most fun at a traditional Indian wedding celebration?

I’m always only there for the food and dancing! Fine, and getting to dress up. And the wine. Also, maybe the chance to hang out with family and friends I only see at weddings. And the drunk aunties and uncles.

After readers devour The Wedding Setup, which of your other books would you recommend they read next?

First, thank you so much for devouring The Wedding Setup! I’m incredibly proud of my Raje series, a set of retellings of my four favorite Jane Austen novels set in a politically ambitious Indian American family from Northern California. Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors is a gender flipped Pride and Prejudice. Recipe for Persuasion is a two-generational homage to Persuasion set on a Food Network show. Incense and Sensibility, the love story between a gubernatorial candidate and a yoga therapist who can save him but also destroy his campaign, pays tribute to Sense and Sensibility. And the upcoming The Emma Project (May 17th 2022), which is a gender flipped Emma that explores what it means when a person with tremendous privilege offers charity to someone who has much less.

The Wedding Setup Excerpt 

Goose bumps rose across Ayesha’s skin, one sharp dot at a time. 

“Ayesha.” 

That was it. Just that one word. Her name. In a voice that was its own ghost. 

She squeezed her eyes shut. One tight squeeze. Tight enough to hurt, tight enough to almost dislodge the false eyelashes Andre had pressed into her lash line one by one with the precision of a surgeon. Then boom! she was in control again and back to Ayesha on Ice. 

Eyes blank, face set, she turned toward the voice. 

Emmitt

The impact of him was a body blow. 

The entire universe stilled. Words weren’t a thing. Or sound. Breath? What was that? 

Ayesha! Get a grip. 

No grip. That’s how it had always been. She’d had no grip when it came to Emmitt Hughes. Not even a little bit. Not when she’d spied on him and Ajay playing Mario Kart and Minecraft and GTA for hours, for years. Not when she’d yearned and dreamed and spun stories with him at the center. 

I’ve made my love for you, my god. 

It was the cheesiest of lines from one of those Bollywood songs her parents had played on repeat at the restaurant. Amma had loved translating the over-the-top lyrics and explaining their nuances.

Back when Amma was full of stories and songs and laughter. Before Ajay. 

Ajay. 

Her brother’s unspoken name fell between them like a glass bauble and shattered. 

“You remember Emmitt,” Edward had the gall to say. 

Bela shot him a glare. 

You didn’t tell me he would be here. Ayesha threw the silent accusation at her traitorous best friend, who gave her nothing more than another worried look. 

No, Eddie. Remind me again who he is? The snarky words stuck in Ayesha’s throat. Old Ayesha would have said them. Old Ayesha said everything. 

“Emmitt,” New Ayesha said, every feeling buried under her customer-is-king voice from the restaurant. “Nice to see you again.” 

His Adam’s apple bobbed in the long column of his throat. How was he still so darned beautiful? 

One swallow, and then he smiled back. Banking feelings where no one saw them had been his thing. Emmitt the Wall. That’s what Ajay had called him. Her brother had been best friends with him since Emmitt had moved to Naperville in fifth grade after his parents’ divorce. Years of friendship, and he’d still held Ajay at that slight distance he’d been so good at. Something she would always wish she hadn’t cured him of.

You broke me, Ayesha.You broke every defense I’ve ever had against the world. 

She, Ayesha Shetty—too tall, too dark, too outspoken, too intense, too ambitious, too everything for everyone else had been just enough to break through Emmitt the Wall. 

“It’s nice to see you too,” he said gently, sounding . . . she dug through her brain to come up with the right word. Grown-up? Contained? 

Good. Because Ayesha was all those things now too. Not a grenade with its fuse pulled, ready to blow up the world.

***

About the Story

Title: The Wedding Setup

Author: Sonali Dev

Release Date: January 11, 2022

Publisher: Amazon Original Stories

Summary

Ayesha Shetty lost her brother seven years ago, the same time she lost everything else important to her: her dreams, her fierce independence, and the man she loved. Not wanting to see her mother hurt anymore, she put her wild self away and became the dutiful daughter her mother needed and took on her brother’s role in the family business.

Now her best friend’s big, fat Indian wedding is a chance to get away from her endless duties at the restaurant and maybe even have some fun (if she remembers how). But a setup arranged by her mother, with a doctor no less, is the last thing she needs. The fact that he checks all her mother’s boxes just makes everything better…and worse.

Then Emmitt Hughes shows up. Her brother’s best friend. The love she once chose over family duties and her responsibilities. The one she asked to leave, and who did. The one who knows the real Ayesha. Torn between a love from the past that could cost her the only person she has left and her sense of obligation to her mother, will Ayesha find the strength to stop thinking about what everyone else wants and finally put herself first? Or is the old Ayesha truly gone for good?

Author Biography

USA Today bestselling author Sonali Dev writes Bollywood-style love stories that explore universal issues. Her novels have been named best books of the year by Library Journal, NPR, the Washington Post, and Kirkus Reviews. She has won numerous accolades, including the American Library Association’s award for best romance, the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award for best contemporary romance, and multiple RT Seals of Excellence; has been a RITA finalist; and has been listed for the Dublin Literary Award. Shelf Awareness calls her “not only one of the best but one of the bravest romance novelists working today.” She lives in Chicagoland with her husband, two visiting adult children, and the world’s most perfect dog. 

Buy Link: https://amzn.to/3pWDqM8 

Social Media Links

Website: https://sonalidev.com/ 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SonaliDev.author 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Sonali_Dev 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sonali.dev/ 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7025918.Sonali_Dev 

DON’T FORGET – we have a Giveaway. please click the link HERE for your chance to win an Amazon gift card and a copy of this new book!

Blog Tour – Next Stop: Digging Up Love by Chandra Blumberg

Hello friends! I hope everyone’s had a lovely New Years and that you’re all staying healthy! It’s hard these days! Today’s blog tour is a bit of an expanded one with lots of goodies so please make sure to read through! We have an Interview with our amazing DEBUT author Chandra, an excerpt from her new book Digging Up Love, and a GIVEAWAY!

As a debut author, what are some things readers should know about you?

I was born in Michigan and moved to the Chicago area shortly after college. I’m the mom of four amazing children. I love to bake and I’m always on the lookout for new recipes to try, and though they often turn out less-than Pinterest-worthy, my baked goods almost always taste great.

Lifting weights is another one of my passions. I enjoy the physical challenge and the boost from achieving new goals. I also love to travel and explore, whether it be other countries or nearby towns. One of my greatest joys is finding new places to visit and experience for the first time.

And of course, I love to read! I devour books from a wide variety of genres, from science fiction to mystery, historical fiction to fantasy, but romance captured my heart and never let go.

Describe your novel Digging Up Love in just one sentence.

A commitment-phobic baker who plans to escape small-town life for Chicago hits a roadblock when an enormous dinosaur bone is unearthed in her backyard, and she falls hard for the paleontologist sent to excavate.

Including dinosaurs as a major part of the plot is unique in a romance novel. What inspired you to include dinosaurs (or at least their bones) in your story?

My kids love learning about dinosaurs, so between books, shows, movies, and time spent visiting museums to see fossils, dinosaurs have been a big part of my life for awhile now, and that might be part of what sparked the idea. Plus, I’ve been a fan of Jurassic Park since I was a kid, and I thought it would be really fun to write a romance with a paleontologist love interest.

As I was drafting the novel, I remembered reading a news article about mammoth bones turning up on a farmer’s property in my home state of Michigan, and I thought: what if it had been a dinosaur bone? There haven’t been any dinosaur fossils discovered in most of the Midwest, so that offered a lot of possibilities to explore.

Was there a moment when Quentin and Alisha’s story really came to life for you?

I wrote a sketch of a scene where a woman was on a date with a paleontologist at the Field Museum in Chicago. He was super enthusiastic about showing her the fossils, and they had this flirty, fun dynamic with a lot of banter. There was immediate chemistry, and I wanted to dive deeper into their story. At one point in the scene, the woman tripped, and her response was, “Whoopsie-daisy.” So I had this young woman who was using this sort of old-school exclamation, and I thought, why would she say that? Well, maybe she was raised by her grandparents. And the story evolved from there.

Was there a time during the writing process that you were really surprised by the story or your characters?

I was sharing an early draft of the story with critique partners and one of them mentioned how Quentin was a paleontologist like Ross from Friends, and my reaction was total shock. I used to love watching Friends, but for some reason—maybe my age at the time I watched it—even though Ross was one of my favorite characters, I had no idea what he did for a living. I decided to include my reaction into the book, because how could I not? Ross is such an iconic character, and here I had totally blanked on another paleontologist in pop culture.

Digging Up Love is very much a small-town romance, but it also includes scenes in Chicago. What made you choose to include both settings in your novel?

I knew I wanted a city-meets-country love story because it offers so many interesting and fun dynamics. Since I grew up in a fairly rural community and participated in the county fair, 4-H, horseback riding, and so on, I had that experience to draw from. I also enjoy living in the Chicago area immensely and wanted to incorporate elements of the city as well.

What do you most want readers to take away from reading Digging Up Love?

First and foremost, a happily-ever-after. While this book delves into some deep issues, this is Alisha and Quentin’s love story, and I want to leave readers with all the swoony feels! I hope to tug on readers’ heartstrings and make them laugh in the next moment. I also wanted to depict a heroine who is unapologetically into lifting heavy weights, and to include body positivity in the narrative. I hope the sense of love, both romantic and in relationships with family and friends, comes through in this story. Ultimately, this is a book about finding joy and the person who makes you feel happy and fully loved.

***

About forty yards behind the house, Mrs. S sat on her trusty motorized steed. Granny stood next to her, the top of her blonde bob a good foot shy of the reflective orange safety flag jutting up out of the back of the seat. 

Opposite the women, a backhoe perched motionless on the edge of the crater like a mechanical gargoyle, motor silent. Granny was holding a whispered conference with Mrs. Snyder, doused in her trademark rose-scented perfume so strong it could penetrate a gas mask. 

Alisha slinked up to the women like an uninvited guest at a funeral. She couldn’t help but address them in a hushed tone. “Hi, ladies.” 

Mrs. Snyder let out an almighty yelp and revved her engine. The scooter lurched forward toward the edge of the hole. Alisha dove for the kill switch, and Granny wrapped both arms around her friend’s ample waist, the heels of her Wellington boots making furrows in the grass. The scooter skidded to a halt like a clown car dumping its occupants at center stage. 

Alisha collapsed on her knees, panting. “So sorry, Mrs. S!” 

“Janet.” Fanning her flushed face, she leveled a beady gaze at Alisha. “If I’ve told you once, I told you a thousand times. Call me Janet.” She adjusted one of her clip-on earrings, blue-veined hand trembling. “‘Mrs. S’ makes me feel about a thousand years old.” 

Alisha nodded just to pacify her. The switch would be impossible. Mrs. Snyder was Hawksburg’s answer to Mr. Feeny: a seventh-grade math teacher, religious ed catechist, and after retirement, a high school substitute teacher. No sense in arguing, though. 

She pushed off the freezing ground and turned to Granny. “What’s this I hear about a skeleton in our new swimming pool?” 

Pulling the sides of her coat around herself, her grandma said, “I was gonna tell you when you got home, sweetie. But you never get much time to yourself. I didn’t want to interrupt your visit with Simone. And I doubt it’s anything. Janet just said we should be sure.” 

Surprise, surprise. Mrs. Snyder had called in the professionals, not Granny. 

“I’m sure we’ll have this whole thing resolved today.” Granny patted her arm in reassurance. 

Alisha relaxed a bit at her grandma’s touch. The Blake women looked nothing alike. Her grandma was a fine-boned peroxide blonde and fair as winter moonlight. But temperament wise, they were a match. If Granny wasn’t fussed, everything would be fine. But still . . . 

“So there is a bone?” 

Granny nodded. “A big one. See for yourself.” 

Obediently, Alisha took a step forward to peer down into the pit. The man—and it was a man, after all—crouched in the mud, squinting against a battered digital camera, wasn’t wearing the khaki uniform she’d expected. 

Instead, a dark-gray zip-up hoodie showed the curve of strong biceps and wide shoulders. He sat on his haunches in worn-in jeans and brown work boots. A cobalt-blue beanie was pulled down over his ears, accentuating the line of a straight, clean-shaven jaw. Definitely not middle aged either. 

This was fine. Totally fine. Well, he was fine, that much was certain. 

Keep it together, Alisha. 

No worries. She tugged at her cropped leather jacket. She was perfectly capable of sending a fit young scientist packing. 

Just then, he rested the camera on his thigh and looked up at them through the snow, his gaze as dazzling as a burst of sunshine after a storm. 

Alisha’s knees almost gave way. Up until this moment, she would’ve put weak knees right up there with Bigfoot in the realm of myth. But the man’s electric gray-green eyes short-circuited her nerve endings and left her legs wobbly as Bambi. 

He pulled his full lips to the side, gaze unfocused, clearly deep in thought. Then he dropped those striking eyes to the ground and stood up, rubbing a hand absently along his chiseled jaw. Her stomach turned itself inside out. It wasn’t every day she encountered a man who looked like her fantasies incarnate. But the biting wind and snowflakes swirling through the air hit her like a bucket of ice water. Not a daydream, then. Which begged the question, What to do now? 

The textbook definition of a sexy scientist stood a few feet away, smack-dab in the middle of her grandparents’ future swimming pool. Chills that had nothing to do with the freezing temps collided with the heated flush of a heart gone into hyperdrive. A magnetic tug drew her a step closer, vying with a hysterical urge to turn tail and run. 

Heavens to Betsy, cool it, Blake. 

Without another thought, Alisha took a breath and jumped into the deep end.

***

About the Book

Title: Digging Up Love

Author: Chandra Blumberg

Release Date: January 1, 2022

Series: Taste of Love, Book 1

Summary

Alisha Blake works her magic in the kitchen, creating delectable desserts for her grandfather’s restaurant in rural Illinois. Though Alisha relishes the close relationship she has with her family, she can’t help but dream about opening a cookie shop in Chicago. She may be a small-town baker, but Alisha has big ambitions.

Then a dinosaur bone turns up in her grandparents’ backyard. When paleontologist Quentin Harris arrives to see the discovery for himself, he’s hoping that the fossil will distract him from a recent painful breakup. Instead, he finds Alisha—and sparks fly. The big-city academic and the hometown baker seem destined for a happily ever after.

But Alisha is scared to fall in love. And Quentin’s trying to make a name for himself in a competitive field, which gets even more complicated when the press shows up at the dig site. For love to prevail, the two may have to put old bones aside—and focus on the future.

Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/Digging-Up-Love-Chandra-Blumberg-ebook/dp/B092J5RTX2 

Social Media Links

Website: https://chandrablumberg.com/ 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chandrablumberg.author 

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/chandrablumberg 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/21413895.Chandra_Blumberg 

Rafflecopter Giveaway. click HERE for your chance to win an Amazon Gift Card and a digital copy of the book!

Blog Tour + Interview + GIVEAWAY: Her Second Death by Melinda Leigh

Happy Tuesday Readers! As you guys have seen over the years, and even more recently, I like to support authors and new books that are coming out – so here is the latest stop on the Blog Tour for Melinda Leigh. Please read below for an interview and excerpt from her new book, and don’t forget to enter into the Giveaway at the bottom for your chance to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card and a copy of Her Second Death. Enjoy!

Detective Bree Taggert is one of your most popular characters. What is it about her that makes readers come back for more of her story? 

Bree is strong and smart, but she’s also flawed and vulnerable. She begins the series as an excellent homicide detective but personally empty. A horrific childhood tragedy distanced Bree from her family and made her a loner. Her sister’s murder triggers the desire to change that. Bree takes on her sister’s case—and her sister’s kids. Bree sees her own childhood reflected in her niece and nephew and is determined not to let them grow up as damaged as she is. In order to do that, she needs to make herself vulnerable. In accepting responsibility for the children, she starts her own road to healing. 

I believe readers want to root for her. They want to see her overcome her violent backstory. She often does what is right, not what is easy or comfortable. In each book, she not only solves a murder, she also makes a small step toward healing, with readers cheering her on.

You have published five books in this series so far, but in Her Second Death you write a prequel story. What made you want to show Bree on one of her first homicide cases? 

I wanted to show the evolution of Bree’s professional life before she begins her personal journey. She is a complex character, and I’ve enjoyed exploring all aspects of her development.

In Her Second Death, Bree is assigned to investigate a violent crime. Tell readers a bit about the case and how she and her new partner Dana Romano work to find the killer. 

Bree begins the story as a brand-new homicide detective. She and partner investigate the crime in the usual fashion, but Bree brings her own past to the table. She provides unique insight that helps her solve the case.

Bree finds a personal connection to this crime almost immediately. What effect does her own early family tragedy have on her handling a missing child case? 

The case immediately strikes a familiar—and disturbing–cord in Bree. But she can’t allow her personal discomfort to interfere with the investigation. She’ll have to relive her past to solve the case.

What is next for Bree?

The next Bree Taggert novel, Dead Against Her, will be released in May. In it, Bree will need to face a more recent demon, the murder of a former deputy with whom she has a personal disagreement. When she took over the job of sheriff, Bree inherited some misogynist deputies from the previous, corrupt sheriff. In Dead Against Her, this conflict comes to an explosive and violent head.

***

The medical examiner pulled out of the Ford’s interior. “No rigor yet. Livor mortis isn’t fixed yet either. Cold would slow decomp, but he’s relatively fresh. Died very early this morning.” He closed his eyes and his jowly face screwed up as he did the mental math. “Six to eight hours ago, roughly between midnight and two a.m.”

Which matched the times on the surveillance video. “Detective Romano?” Reilly called. “CSU is here.”

As soon as the ME removed the body, the crime scene unit would take over.

“Do we have a next of kin for the victim?” Romano asked.

Reilly nodded. “He’s married to Kelly Tyson.”

“Let’s go notify Mrs. Tyson.” Romano turned back toward their vehicle. Once behind the wheel, she rubbed her palms together, then pulled a pair of leather gloves from her pocket and tugged them on.

In the passenger seat, Bree blew on her freezing hands. Romano peeled away from the curb.

“Wasn’t a robbery.” Bree rolled the facts around in her head. “They left cash in Tyson’s wallet. Also, they didn’t take the car. Drug deal gone sour?”

“We have no idea what happened, other than a guy got shot.”

“You don’t like any of those theories?” Bree asked.

Romano shot her a direct look. “I like evidence, not theories.” 

***

About the Story

Title: Her Second Death

Author: Melinda Leigh

Series: Bree Taggert Prequel

Release Date: December 7, 2021

Summary

When a man is shot in the head, Bree Taggert and her new partner, veteran detective Dana Romano, respond to the call. They break the news to the victim’s ex-wife and learn the estranged couple’s five-year-old daughter was supposed to have been with him. What starts as a murder investigation quickly morphs into a desperate search for a missing child. The case stirs memories of Bree’s own traumatizing childhood. To find the little girl, Bree will have to relive her own terrifying past.

Author Biography

#1 Amazon Charts and #1 Wall Street Journal bestselling author Melinda Leigh is a fully recovered banker. Melinda’s debut novel, She Can Run, was nominated for Best First Novel by the International Thriller Writers. She’s garnered numerous writing awards, including two RITA nominations. Her other novels include She Can Tell, She Can Scream, She Can Hide, and She Can Kill in the She Can series; Midnight Exposure, Midnight Sacrifice, Midnight Betrayal, and Midnight Obsession in the Midnight novels; Hour of Need, Minutes to Kill, and Seconds to Live in the Scarlet Falls series; Say You’re Sorry, Her Last Goodbye, Bones Don’t Lie, What I’ve Done, Secrets Never Die, and Save Your Breath in the Morgan Dane series; and the Bree Taggert novels, Cross Her Heart, See Her Die, Drown Her Sorrows, and Right Behind Her. She holds a second-degree black belt in Kenpo karate, has taught women’s self-defense, and lives in a messy house with her family and a small herd of rescue pets. For more information, visit www.melindaleigh.com.

Social Media Links

Website: https://melindaleigh.com/ 

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MelindaLeigh1 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/melindaleigh1/ 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5141609.Melinda_Leigh 

DON’T FORGET TO ENTER FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN A $20 Amazon Gift Card and your own copy of Her Second Death! Enter Below!

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Blog Tour + New Release + Giveaway Alert: Faked by Sarah Darlington

 

NOW LIVE!
FAKED by Sarah Darlington
a Sexy, Fake-Date, Holiday Romance!
She tends bar at a strip club.

Every Wednesday, I visit her. Every Wednesday, I hope for more than, “what’s your drink order?” Until one Wednesday, a week from Christmas, she needs me. Okay… so she needs anyone, it seems, to be her fake-date to her sister’s Christmas wedding. I happened to be in the right place at the right time. But a week in the mountains with my dream girl? Sign me up.

Hmmm, Patrick Kelley? My borderline stalker? My Wednesday regular? I’m not interested. I’d never bring him home to meet my family. But times are desperate. I can’t spend a week in the mountains with my family alone, plus my ex will be there, so I ask Patrick…

“Will you be my fake-date for the holidays?”
I figure he’ll be easy to control.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.

*FAKED is sexy Christmas standalone with a HEA. It is a companion novel to Sarah Darlington’s KILL DEVIL INK series. It does not need to be read with the others in the series to enjoy. Happy Holidays!

Read on Amazon or Kindle Unlimited
Signed Paperbacks
Add to your goodreads TBR
SARAH DARLINGTON

Sarah Darlington is a ‘sweet-heat’ romance author. She’s passionate about creating sexy, slow-burn love stories that feature strong female leads and the stubborn, alpha heroes who fall in love with them. If you love romance books, I invite you to escape for a while with one of Sarah’s!

Connect with Sarah on…


Tiktok| Instagram | Bookbub | Goodreads
sarahdarlingtonauthor.com


Blog Tour: Featuring Rainbow Rowell, Suzanne Redfearn, J. Courtney Sullivan & Chandler Baker + GIVEAWAY!

Hi Readers, I’m so excited to be a part of this Holiday Blog Tour and I hope you each get a chance to find something new to tuck into from this stop on the tour. Please read through each of the excerpts and once you get to the bottom, there’s a festive holiday treat! Enjoy!

Ring in the Holidays with Excerpts from Festive Reads by Bestselling Authors Rainbow Rowell, Suzanne Redfearn, J. Courtney Sullivan, and Chandler Baker

This winter, rejoice in a festival of entertaining new tales from Amazon Original Stories. Unwrap unique short reads by bestselling authors to keep your holiday season merry and bright. Visit www.amazon.com/holidaystories to browse a curated selection of stories—free for Prime Members and Kindle Unlimited Subscribers—and read on for excerpts from the titles by Rainbow Rowell, Suzanne Redfearn, J. Courtney Sullivan, and Chandler Baker. 

***

After a long, lonely year, two people stumble toward each other in If the Fates Allow a holiday short story by Rainbow Rowell the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Eleanor & Park and Fangirl.

Reagan crept to the side to get a closer look. It looked like the deer had managed to snag its foot between two crossbars and a small tree that was growing right next to the fence.

Mason was still inching toward it, with his hands out. 

“What are you doing?” Reagan asked again.

“I’m going to help it get free.”

“It’ll get itself free.”

“I don’t think it will. It’s wedged pretty good.”

The deer broke into frantic movement, struggling against the fence. “It’s going to injure itself,” Mason said.

“It’s going to injure you.”

This wasn’t a fawn or a hungry little doe; the deer was as long as Reagan was tall—it must have weighed two hundred pounds.

“Shhhh,” Mason was saying. Maybe to the deer, maybe to Reagan. He was crouching behind it, which seemed like the dumbest decision in the world.

Mason,” Reagan whispered.

“It’s all right,” he said, reaching for the trapped hoof. “Her other legs are on the other side of the fence.”

“I think that’s a buck.”

“She’s not a buck, look at her head.”

The deer struggled again. Mason froze. Reagan took another anxious step toward them.

When the deer stilled, Mason shot forward. He bent the tree back and grabbed the trapped hoof, lifting it free.

The deer pulled the leg forward—and in the same motion, kicked its other hind leg through the fence, catching Mason in the chest. 

“Oof,” he said, falling backward.

The deer ran away, and Reagan ran to Mason. “Jesus Christ!” she shouted. “I told you!”

Mason was lying on his back in the snow. Reagan went down on her knees beside him. “Are you okay?” she asked, touching his arm.

His eyes were wide. “I’m fine,” he said. “Just surprised. Is she okay?” 

“The deer?”

He nodded.

“She’s fine,” Reagan said. “She’ll live to spread ticks and disease, and destroy crops. Where’d she get you?”

He pointed to his shoulder.

“Can you move it?”

He rotated his shoulder. He was broader than he looked from a distance. Broad even under his coat. His neck was thick, and one of his ears was partly inverted, probably from an old injury. He had snow in his ears and his hair. His hair was much darker than Reagan’s, almost black.

“Did you hit your head?” she asked.

“No. I think I’m okay.”

“That was so stupid, Mason—that could have been your face.”

“I think I’m okay,” he repeated. He lifted his head up out of the snow and pushed up onto his elbows.

Reagan moved away from him.

He stood up, so she stood up, too. 

“That could have been your neck,” she said. “That was so stupid.”

“Okay,” he said, nodding. “You’re right. I’m sorry.”

Reagan’s heart was still pounding. Mason looked worried. There was snow on his glasses, and his mask had fallen below his nose. He was holding her arm. “I’m sorry, okay? Are you hurt?”

“No,” Reagan said. “I’m just . . .”

Mason was holding her arm. He was standing right next to her. 

Reagan made a fist in the suede collar of his coat and pulled herself closer to him.

His head dipped forward, more fiercely than she was expecting, to kiss her.

Read More About If the Fates Allow Here >>

***

From Suzanne Redfearn, the bestselling author of In an Instant, comes a heartfelt short story about one couple’s journey to discover if there really is a secret ingredient to happily ever after before their upcoming holiday wedding in The Marriage Test

The server appears. “Something to drink with dinner?”

“Do you have a white burgundy?” I ask, feeling like something bright to match my mood.

The server points to the French section of the wine list. 

“Oh,” I say, as the list is limited and pricey. “I only want a glass. I’ll just take a—”

“A bottle of the finest white burgundy you have,” Justin interrupts. 

“Justin—”

He waves me off.

The server leaves, and I lean in to kiss him. “I love you.” 

“For ordering a bottle of wine?”

“For ordering a bottle of wine to make me happy.”

I sit back again, and he returns his hand to my knee. “Good evening.”

I look up, and my breath catches. Standing a foot from our table is Annabelle Winters, my chef idol since college. She’s five feet tall with narrow shoulders and wide hips. Curls of wild black hair escape her white cap, flour dusts her black chef coat, and in her hands is a cutting board with a round loaf of bread.

“I understand tonight is a special occasion,” she says, a Mediterranean accent rounding the words. I tilt my head as Justin nods. “In my home country, we have a tradition: remarkable moments are celebrated by the breaking of bread. So, I made this loaf specially for you.” She sets the board on the table, wisps of steam spiraling from the golden, flaky crust. “This is pogača, the bread of my childhood and a symbol of love.”

With a small bow, she pivots away.

“That . . .that was . . .I can’t believe it . . .that was Annabelle Winters.”

Justin smiles wide, a proud grin that crinkles his cheeks. “You told her it was a special occasion?”

“It is,” he says. “We are together.”

I look at the loaf. “Wow. Pogača. My grandmother told me about this bread. It doesn’t use eggs or milk, and it’s cooked on a hearth over an open fire.”

“It’s still warm,” he says. “It must have just come out of the oven.”

I lift it to my face and inhale deeply, warm yeast and flour filling my nose. “Mmmm.” I hold it toward him.

He takes a breath, then leans back and nods. “Well, go on . . . break bread.”

Grinning like a kid at Christmas, I grip the edges and start to twist.

“Wait!” Justin yelps, stopping me, the loaf suspended.

He falls from his chair to the deck, my leg flopping from his lap along with his napkin.

I giggle. “What are you doing?”

“Okay,” he says, now kneeling on one knee. “Keep going.”

The people at the table behind us have stopped what they were doing and are now looking at us, and I notice Annabelle Winters beside the entrance watching as well. I look at the bread, then at Justin, then back again, and blood rushes to my face as I realize what is happening.

“Really?” I say.

He nods toward the bread.

Cheeks spread wide, I tear it in two, sending gold crumbs raining onto the tablecloth.

Poking from the steaming center is the corner of a stainless-steel cylinder.

I dig my fingers in to pry it loose and set it on the palm of my hand. An inch and a half tall and two inches in diameter, it’s engraved on top with two doves surrounded by a ring of leaves.

The woman behind us shifts for a better view.

Heart pounding, I prize off the lid. Sitting on a bed of white satin is a stunning sapphire ring, the center stone blue as the deepest ocean, a single diamond baguette on either side.

“Ava Nicole Barnes,” Justin says, his voice elevated for the audience, “keeper of my heart, guardian of my soul, and woman of my dreams, will you make me the happiest man on this earth and do me the great honor of becoming my wife?” 

Read More About The Marriage Test Here >>

***

Not happy? No problem. Fake it. From New York Times bestselling author J. Courtney Sullivan comes the sharp witted short story, Model Home, about the reality of reality TV. 

On the ninth take, things get heated between the husband, Todd, and his wife, Noreen.

He complains that this house only has three bedrooms, leaving no possibility for the man cave he was promised he’d get if they gave up their downtown Milwaukee loft for the suburbs. She seems flabbergasted that he can’t see the advantage of sacrificing that space for what is by far the biggest backyard of the three houses they’ve looked at.

Todd says in a tone that manages to sound both jokey and hostile, “If we buy this house, you can’t complain when I play my electric guitar in the living room. Have you thought of that?”

Noreen replies, “I’m only ever thinking of Colby and Mason.”

If you ask me, they both deserve an Oscar. The tension is palpable, even though everyone present knows they already bought this house seven months ago.

House Number One belongs to Todd’s cousin. It isn’t for sale. House Number Two is soon to be listed. The owner was happy to provide access, since being featured on our show, even as a reject, will sell the place in a minute.

I, the wise referee/realtor/designer, smile and say for what feels like the one trillionth time in my life, “Sounds like you two have a lot to discuss. Babe, let’s leave them to it.”

I wonder briefly if I’ll ever get to say these words again on camera, but I have to put the thought from my head.

I never call Damian babe in real life. Especially not now, but even back when I could stand him.

He doesn’t meet my eye. He’s staring into space, going out of his way to look disinterested. No one notices but me. Lately I think of my husband as a disappointment turducken: a lack of ambition wrapped in a beer gut wrapped in a statement tee designed for a much fitter man.

Read More About Model Home Here >>

***

Everyone is home for the holidays, clamoring for all the Christmas cheer only their mother can whip up. They can already smell the chestnuts roasting—or is that Mom’s hair on fire? From New York Times bestselling author Chandler Baker comes the laugh-out-loud short story, Oh. What. Fun. 

During normal times, Mom loves to spend most of her day on the phone with one of us or the other. As soon as she hangs up with Channing, she’ll call Sammy; as soon as she’s done with Sammy, Tyler will call; and then she starts the whole process again. Not that we’d ever say this out loud, but we’re in the thick of our lives, so we’re busy with dating and kids and friends getting married and pregnant and such, and, well, Mom’s stories are kind of dull. Though obviously, in retrospect, this is an instance when we should have paid better attention.

Unlike Mom, Channing never complains about anything and so she didn’t make a big deal of it when Mom, again, forty-five minutes after the agreed-upon time, took over the kids, leading them on a special explorer hunt to find Canelo the Elf.

Mom is wild about that Elf on the Shelf. Canelo joined us three Christmases ago. The twins are in a Spanish- immersion program, hence the name, and Channing and Doug explained to us that if Canelo started the month of December at their house, he’d need to travel for the time spent at Grandpa and Grandma’s. It only made sense. So the trick is there are actually two Canelos. Mom bought a body double so Channing could leave hers safely at home. Canelo’s antics are one of those things we all tease her about: Somebody has too much time on her hands. But the truth is, we do kind of get a kick out of him.

Mom keeps the Elf ’s next move top secret from everyone, even Dad. Last year, Canelo relaxed in a Crockpot Jacuzzi filled with marshmallows; then he stole all of our toilet paper to build snowmen and rode a zip line down the stairs. This year was off to an impressive start as the twins took binoculars and donned safari hats to track down Canelo, who was wearing camouflage in one of the old oak trees. But we guess we’ll never know what else Canelo had in store, because Canelo hasn’t moved in two days. His painted, unblinking eyes stare at us from his perch, and none of us have been able to work out yet how it is we should explain this to the twins.

We think at some point during the Canelo expedition Sammy pulled up and plopped down on the couch, probably with his shoes still on, and started messing around on his phone. Every group of siblings has a “one,” and Sammy, for us, is the Boring One, mainly because he’s twenty-five and always on his phone. Also he just broke up with his girlfriend (see: always on phone), and yet when we tasked him with one very simple to-do—break into Mom’s phone—well all the sudden he apparently “didn’t know anything about phones.”

Sammy didn’t see anything or hear anything or smell anything unusual, but as we’ve already pointed out, this can’t be taken as gospel since he was preoccupied texting back and forth with his ex.

Sammy

do you know what kind of laundry detergent you used to use on our clothes? Bc mine smell all weird now. 

Mae-Bell

It’s the fabric softener. Downy infusions. Scent: Romantic.

Later, we passed around the conversation to weigh in by committee on whether she meant anything by it. We even consulted the Downy website while Mom handed out homemade eggnog because none of us care for the store bought, and there we learned that the Romantic scent carries “sensual aromas of delicate floral, white tea, and peony,” and at least half of us found it difficult to overlook a smoking gun like “sensual” right there as the subtext. 

After dinner, Mom asked Channing if she’d mind watching the twins for a few minutes while she cleaned the kitchen, and we all took bets on whether Sammy and Mae-Bell would be back together by spring. The holidays can be hard on people, you know. Everyone except for Mom anyway, who just loves an excuse to corral us all together under one roof. Nothing makes her more upset than a year when she has to share Channing and the twins with Doug’s family. This year, Doug’s family was indisposed because they were up in Vermont visiting Doug’s aunt, but they probably could have been in the ICU and Mom would have been just as happy as long as the result was having Channing and the girls all to herself. Not to be alarmist, but of all the years to up and vanish, you just wouldn’t expect it to be one where Channing was set to be home the whole time. 

Read More About Oh. What. Fun. Here >>

***

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Blog Tour: Mix Tape by Brittany Cherry

Author Brittainy Cherry Writes Her Own Mixtape

Hi, Everyone! I’m Brittainy Cherry, author of The Mixtape, a contemporary romance novel. I am so excited to share Oliver and Emery’s story with you all. These two characters are both struggling through life in their own ways, and it is through music and love that they find their way back to themselves and each other. 

The Mixtape could’ve never come together without my own mixtape of sorts to help guide the way to this novel. Music not only plays a huge role in the story, but also in my personal life, so of course I had to whip up my own mixtape as I wrote this story. For example, my playlist began with “Godspeed” by the extremely talented James Blake that set the mood of the story. His tones and lyrics wrapped me up into a warm hug and I allowed the song to move me as I crafted Oliver’s character. 

Then, we moved into “Soldiers” by Rachel Platten which is a powerful song about taking moments to breathe in order to move forward for another day, like soldiers in the night. It’s a song that showcases the strength of our heroine, Emery, who is a single mother, trying her best to create a better life for her young daughter. 

I had the best time tying in songs like “Slow Dance” by AJ Mitchell (feat. Ava Max) to show the slow burn between Emery and Oliver falling together, followed by their first kiss being written to the song, “Can I Kiss You?” by Dahl. 

The whole story was wrapped up with a classic, “Could It Be I’m Falling In Love” by the Spinners, which sums up what I hope you experience reading this novel: a mixtape of emotions which lead to you falling in love with the love story of Emery and Oliver. I hope this novel heals you the same way music soothes my soul. 

The Mixtape Excerpt

Sometimes the world didn’t make sense. No parent should’ve ever had to bury their own child. I couldn’t even imagine that kind of pain that raced through her heartbeats on a daily basis. If I could offer up only one set of prayers for the remainder of my life, it would be for the parents who had to say goodbye too early on to their own. 

Those hearts would always beat a little slower in my mind. 

“I’m so sorry, Michelle.” 

“Thank you, sweetheart.” She reached out and patted my hand, and I knew it was because she needed a hand to hold. So, I wrapped both of mine around hers. “The mourning doesn’t get easier. It just get quieter. Some days, I still cannot get out of bed, but I’m blessed. Because Richard stays in bed with me and my quietness. Then, when it’s time for me to get up, he pulls me to my feet, and we dance. A piece of advice—find yourself a man who would dance with you even when your heart is broken.” Her eyes flashed with tears and she held my hands tighter. “You want to know a secret?” 

“Yes.” 

“I thought I was going to lose Oliver, too. He kept everyone so far away. So, when I flew out here, I prepared myself for the worst. I thought he’d be in a drunken slumber or, worse…so much worse. Last time I came a few weeks ago, he wasn’t doing too well. But this time? This time I came back and he’s smiling.” 

“That’s so good.” 

She smiled brightly up at me as tears freely danced down her cheekbones. “So thank you.” 

“I didn’t do anything,” I swore. 

“You’re the only difference in his life since I came back. Plus, there’s the way he looks at you when you’re not looking. Now, sweetheart, I don’t know what you did, but I’m almost positive that you helped bring my son back to life after he was holding death’s hand. Call it my mother’s intuition. So, thank you for helping him. Even if it’s just by being his friend.” 

Now I was tearing up, and I pulled her into a tight hug. “You’re an amazing mother,” I whispered, and she began to cry harder. 

“You have no clue how hard it is to believe that each day.” 

I think all mothers thought that. The ones who doubted her mothering skills, were sometimes the ones who were trying their best day in and day out. I didn’t expect the conversation with Michelle to go the direction that it had, but I was glad it had taken that path, because it was clear we both had some healing corners of our heart that had to be touched that evening. 

“Oh, don’t tell me you two are wine drunk and emotion,” Richard cut in, walking in our direction. “We were just picking out a song for two seconds and we turn around to find you both moping.” 

“Oh hush, Richard. Can’t us girls have a moment every now and again?” Michelle remarked, standing to her feet. 

“Yes, but for now, we dance to The Spinners, my lady.” Richard reached out for his wife and took her into his arms as they began swaying to the song, Could It Be I’m Falling In Love. Richard serenaded Michelle as she smiled and melted into him like a perfectly fit puzzle piece. 

Oliver came to stand beside me as we both watched his parents fall more and more in love with one another. 

“This was their wedding song,” Oliver mentioned. “Dad recorded it, and they danced to it for their first dance.” 

“Oh my gosh, how sweet is that,” I swooned. True romance. 

“They dance to it every single night. On the good days and bad days. Especially on the bad days.” 

“They’re what I want my love to look like,” I confessed. Oliver gave me a tight smile but didn’t say anything. I shifted around for a minute before looking toward him once more. “Do you want to dance with me?”

***

About the Book

Title: The Mixtape

Author: Brittainy Cherry

Release Date: July 1, 2021

Publisher: Montlake

Summary

Emery has never felt more alone. Raising her daughter is both her pleasure and her pain as she struggles to hold on to her job as a bartender and keep a roof over their heads. With no one to help them—no support system—any unexpected expense or late bill could turn their whole world upside down.

Reeling from the death of his twin brother and bandmate, rock star Oliver Smith is trying to drink his problems away. Apparently he isn’t very good at it; they follow him wherever he goes. Also in hot pursuit are the paparazzi, who catch Oliver at his lowest low.

He could have walked into any bar in California, but he walked into hers. Emery helps Oliver lose the crowd, and they find themselves alone: two people whose paths are marked with loss and pain. However, they hold an unshakable hope for healing. They find solace together, but can their love withstand the world?

About the Author

Brittainy Cherry has been in love with words since she took her first breath. She graduated from Carroll University with a bachelor’s degree in theater arts and a minor in creative writing. She loves to take part in writing screenplays, acting, and dancing—poorly, of course. Coffee, chai tea, and wine are three things that she thinks every person should partake in. Cherry lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with her family. When she’s not running a million errands and crafting stories, she’s probably playing with her adorable pets.

Social Media Outlets

Website http://www.bcherrybooks.com/ 

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/BrittainyCherryAuthor 

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/brittainycherry 

Instagramhttps://www.instagram.com/bcherryauthor 

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Cover Re-Reveal: Owen (Vale #1) by Sarah Darlington & Alora Kate

COVER RE-REVEAL!!!
Title: OWEN
Authors: Alora Kate & Sarah Darlington

When a beautiful woman grabs you, presses her soft lips to yours, and strips off all her clothes … you don’t think, you act.


I had no idea my brother came early with his girlfriend to our family’s cabin in Colorado.

I had no idea she wasn’t just another girl I’d picked up at the bar.

I’d been drinking.
These were all excuses. And by a stroke of luck, no one caught us together, and Joslyn didn’t seem to notice the difference between me and my twin. So maybe all is right with the world. Maybe I can pretend nothing happened and move past this.

Except…I like this girl.


Available for purchase on all platforms…
GET YOUR COPY HERE


Sarah Darlington

Sarah Darlington was born in Colorado and grew up all over the United States. These days, she calls Virginia home, where she lives with her husband, two kids, and large dog. The best word to describe Sarah is ‘creative.’ She’s passionate about designing, crafting, and photography. But most of all… she loves creating stories through her writing. Her romance books are sexy and heart-gripping at their core, guaranteed to make you swoon. Any of them can be read as a stand-alone, but all are connected within the same world.

Facebook Group | Instagram | Bookbub | Goodreads


Alora Kate

“I hear voices in my head and I love that its totally okay.” – Alora Kate Alora Kate is a multi-genre author who likes to be bold and original; stepping outside of the box and bringing her readers fresh characters from all parts of life. She’s a mother, college student, photographer, and graphic designer. She resides in northern MN with her son, where she plans to stay for a long time despite the cold winters.

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Cover Re-Reveal: Crazed by Sarah Darlington



COVER RE-REVEAL!!!
Title: CRAZED (previously titled CRAZY SEXY NOTION)
Author: Sarah Darlington

Mick is in for a wild ride…

Baseball Pro, Mick Jasmine, is the worst at relationships. His most recent ex-girlfriend pitched a crystal vase at his head with such precision, that maybe she should tryout for the Sea Dogs. It doesn’t help that one of his ‘game-day superstitions’ is getting laid right before each game, and that he even has a handful of women on call to help him fill this need.

But Mick is over his lifestyle. He’s done with being a certain type of person. On a whim, he gets in his car and drives halfway across the country for Pecan, Kansas; a desolate town that’s not even on the map. He knocks on the trailer door that used to belong to his childhood best friend. In his entire life, he’s never loved another girl the way he loved her as a child. She’s the one. Somewhere in his heart he knows this.

But what he finds on the other side of the door, he never expected. Raven Malone, all grown up…

Nick is no match for Raven Malone all grown up. She’s going to eat him alive.

**This novel was formally titled CRAZY SEXY NOTION. Sarah Darlington’s upcoming series, the KILL DEVIL INK Series, will feature characters from CRAZED. Meaning, this novel now can be read as a prequel novel to INKED and the KILL DEVIL INK Series.
Available for purchase on…
Amazon and Kindle Unlimited




Sarah Darlington was born in Colorado and grew up all over the United States. These days, she calls Virginia home, where she lives with her husband, two kids, and large dog. The best word to describe Sarah is ‘creative.’ She’s passionate about designing, crafting, and photography. But most of all… she loves creating stories through her writing.

Her romance books are sexy and heart-gripping at their core, guaranteed to make you swoon. Any of them can be read as a stand-alone, but all are connected within the same world. 

Facebook Group | Instagram | Bookbub | Goodreads 

Special Offer – Free Book: Beast by L. Grubb


*** FREEBIE FOR A LIMITED TIME ONLY ***


It’s ALMOST Christmas!! So L. Grubb has put BEAST #FREE for the holidays – Grab a copy while it’s still FREE. This is a limited time deal!



Praise for BEAST:
5 ***** ‘Well HOLY CRAP. That was f*cking amazing and extremely hot!’ – Lisa (Two Bookish Brits) 
5 ***** ‘I read Beast in one sitting and absolutely freaking loved it! There was not ONE thing that I didn’t like about this.’ – Laura Smith
 ‘This book was most definitely a 5 star read and I would rate it more if I could! I cannot wait for Roofie’s story next in this series and from the looks of this book, I’m hoping it goes the way I think!’ – Emma Johnston

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Blurb:
I’m a man no one fucks with.
I’m a man all the bitches want.
I’m also the world champion of MMA…Mafia style.
I don’t get my name from winning, I get my name for my size. I am a BEAST, I’m also the one your father’s warn you little girls about.
BEAST
Beast has had his life set for him for an early age, he was pushed into training to fight the world’s best. His father had his eyes on the dollar signs while he forced his son into the brutal world of MMA. He was trained hard, and he became the best. But the bosses have changed the rules and the rules are about to fuck him over. He will bring hell down onto the MMA circuit and he will become top man. But will he gain the power he deserves? Or is everything he’s worked so hard for been for nothing?
 Carlotta is a fierce woman whose life hasn’t been quite straight cut. But she leads her path in the right direction, sort of. When the opportunity arises to make extra money to fund her passion, she takes it.
She trains. She fights. She wins.
Meeting Beast was an unpleasant experience, and her dislike for his egocentric and arrogant behaviour rubs her the wrong way, but her curiosity is piqued and she can’t remove him from her mind. Will their one night of passion lead to anything? Or will being in the MMA lifestyle tear them apart before they get started?
Who will win the ultimate battle of hatred and anger? Will they fight for their passion or will it come crumbling down around them with severe consequences?


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