Reading Challenge: Duet Rubato by Claerie Kavanaugh

About the challenge

The challenge was set by World Indie Warriors on Instagram. They created three #WIWBingo boards; YA, Romance, and Fantasy.

The aim is to read and review the books on Instagram and tag @worldindiewarriors

The goal is to get three in a line, and help indie books get seen.

I’m doing the challenge. I’ve already read some of the books on the board so I’ll be reposting them this month, and I’m hoping to read some new one too.

The Book Review

Here is my post of my old review for Duet Rubato by Claerie Kavanaugh . I shortened it for social media.

[Kofi]

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My Process -How To Publish A Novel

World Indie Warriors Brochure

Romance Tropes – Which are your favourites?

Below are some affiliate links. To learn more about these please visit my Affiliate Disclosure Page.

Book Review: Blind Date by Debbie Ioanna

I chose this book because it got me my BINGO in the Summer Reading challenge by World Indie Warriors. And, I’m so glad I did!

Setting

Jenny (the MC) lives in a flat with her cat, Bing. She works in customer service, handlings complaints. Her mum & BFF are sending her on blind dates as they’re as desperate for her to meet someone, maybe more desperate than Jenny is.

Main Character

Jenny is a relatable character. She tries hard, but things always go wrong, often with hilarious consequences. She’s crushing on a guy at work that’s not into her, or could he be? But, the situation is never right and she’s off on another blind date.

Bing isn’t the main character but he is such a star in the book I had to mention this cat. In fact he is probably my favourite fictional pet, ever!

Another character I loved was the BFF, Sarah. This girl was always just a phone call away, picking Jen’s spirits up after disaster dates, and laughing with her (and the reader).

Review

I’m a slow reader and I devoured this book in a weekend! This is so well written. There’s hilarious moments in every chapter, and jokes that are weaved through the book that get funnier ever time.

I loved so many of the characters. Bing is my all time favourite fictional pet. Sarah is an amazing BFF! The dream guy was perfection. I lived for every moment in his presence.

I had a friend that went on some entertaining blind dates and this book brought those stories back. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

[kofi]

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Romance Tropes – Which are your favourite?

Romance Title (poem)

Summer Reading Challenge

Below are some affiliate links. You can discover more about these on my Affiliate Disclosure page.

Reading Challenge: Agent Undone by Cassidy Reyne

About the challenge

The challenge was set by World Indie Warriors on Instagram. They created three #WIWBingo boards; YA, Romance, and Fantasy.

The aim is to read and review the books on Instagram and tag @worldindiewarriors

The goal is to get three in a line, and help indie books get seen.

I’m doing the challenge. I’ve already read some of the books on the board so I’ll be reposting them this month, and I’m hoping to read some new one too.

The Book Review

Here is my post of my old review for Agent Undone by Cassidy Reyne. I shortened it for social media.

If you enjoyed this you will like:

Full original review of Agent Undone by Cassidy Reyne

Why I love World Indie Warriors

Behind the Book: Agent Undone by Cassidy Reyne

Behind the Book: The Sentinels by Cassidy Reyne

[kofi]

Below are some affiliate links. Visit my affiliate disclosure page if you’d like to learn more.

Summer Reading Challenge

Summer Reading Challenge

World Indie Warriors is a nonprofit organisation that has a mission to bring indie authors together so they can collaborate and help each other. They are a lovely bunch and a joy to work with.

#WIWBINGO

Over on Instagram @worldindiewarriors have created a reading challenge for indie books.

Readers are encouraged to get a line of three by reading books on the bingo cards.

When readers post their review, WIW would like readers to tag them in it.

My debut novel Ocean Heart is featured on one of the bingo boards!

Fantasy books to read this summer!
Romance books to read this summer!
YA books to read this summer!

If you want to join in, you might be interested to know that Ocean Heart is available to borrow from all good libraries. The library might need the ISBN to order it in. You may find this pic useful.

Ocean Heart ISBN

As a supporter of indie authors & indie books, I already have a few of the books ticked off the bingo card, but no lines.

Check out the reviews below:

Crown of Conspiracy by Kara S. Weaver review

Sorceress of Truth by J.D. Groom review

Agent Undone by Cassidy Reyne review

Duet Rubato by Claerie Kavanaugh review

Amelia’s Story by Nicola Hebron review

Brave New Girl by Grace Herbst review

Red Blood by Kaitlyn Legaspi review

Romance Tropes – Which are your favourites?

With Valentines Day coming up, I thought it’d be fun to share some of the romance tropes that can be found in Ocean Heart, and possibly in Sky Heart. Warning: Lots of snogging Gifs!

Redfae Bookshop is my Affiliate Bookshop.org Shop Link. NB: This post contains these affiliate links…

Friends to Lovers

This is a favourite romance trope of mine because my husband and I started out as friends. For us it had a HEA, we have a beautiful home and two fabulous kids, and later this year we’ll be celebrating our 10 year wedding anniversary. But getting together wasn’t easy, and it risked our friendship if it didn’t work out.

In Ocean Heart, Mariah is crushing on her BFF.  It starts off as an unrequited love, but during the novel they deal with first kisses, jealousy, and a break up.  Can they rekindle their romance, save their friendship, or do they need to move on?  

Enemies to Lovers

Sometimes I don’t like the trope because I don’t want them to get together. It depends on why they are enemies but, I made it work in Ocean Heart. Check out the reviews of Ocean Heart.

When Mariah beats swim star Murray in a race, he doesn’t handle losing well.  After behaving like an idiot, he starts to take an interest in her but she’s not interested.  She’s heard about his reputation.  

Check out my review of A Court of Thorn and Roses by Sarah J Maas.

Bad Boy

This is the one where the bad boy falls in love and changes his ways. I’m a sucker for this one as a fantasy, but in real life not so much. Bad boys are bad news and rarely deliver a HEA.

Murray has an Instagram feed of all his conquests and he’s not ashamed to brag about it.  It’s why he’s so protective over his sister Kiely.  He knows guys only want one thing, until...

Love Triangle

Some people really hate this trope. Eek! But, not me. Throw in more hot guys, more romances, more complications, and I’m hooked turning the page.

There are technically two in Ocean Heart.  First up, when Mariah realises she’s crushing on her BFF Jace, he already has a girlfriend, Kiely.  Later, when Murray takes an interest in Mariah, he attempts to draw her attention away from Mariah. 

Check out my review of Sorceress of Truth by J D Groom.

Soul Mates

This is where two people are meant to be together. It’s common in paranormal romances, where a wolf imprints on their mate.

Mariah is a mermaid.  She doesn’t know it, but when she accidentally marks one of the guys as her mate for life, then they are bound. 

Fake Relationship

People fake relationships in books often to raise their status, or to get a reaction from someone else. In Out Of My League the MC accepts the deal to save face at a party where she catches her boy friend cheating, and in The Practice Boyfriend the MC strikes a deal to gain access to the elite parties.

In Ocean Heart, Mariah agrees to a fake relationship.  Both parties have different reasons but united on one goal; to end a romance.  

Check out my review of Out of My League by Sarah Sutton or The Practice Boyfriend by Christina Benjamin.

I’m working on book 2, Sky Heart, which follows Kiely’s story and already I can see certain Tropes appearing.

Second Chance

This is where old flames rekindle. The question is always whether their is a relationship worthy of a second chance or too much damage.

In Sky Heart, Keily is desperate to get back with her ex. She struggles to handle the break up gracefully.  

Check out my review of Duet Rubato by Claerie Kavanaugh.

Best friend’s Brother

As a teen I loved a book called Ginger’s First Kiss by Janet Quin-Harkin. It’s the first book in the Boyfriend Club series where a group of friends pact to help each other get their first kisses and Ginger realises she’s into her BFF’s brother. I got it free with a teen magazine at the time called BIG. Over the years I have lost the book and it is no longer in distribution.

Both Keily’s BFFs have brothers, and both are off limits.  It’s a rule the girls made. A rule Kiely is tempted to break when one of them offers to help her get over her ex in a way nobody else can. 

Check out my review of Amelia’s Story: The Wiccan Romances by Nicola Hebron.

Forbidden love

This trope is so exciting. There’s all the danger of getting caught, and whatever the stakes are.

It’s not just her friends that Keily needs to hide who she is seeing, it’s also her over protective big brother, Murray.  And later, she must keep it hidden from someone more dangerous than she ever imagined.  

If you enjoyed this post, be sure to like and follow.

[kofi]

Search the blog for more posts on Romance as I have interviewed romance authors and reviewed romance books.

It’s another IG LIVE!

I had the most fabulous live chat with author Lyndell Williams (on Instagram as @laylawriteslove).

Meeting Author Lyndell Williams

She recently had some mobile woes and took the plunge to get a new phone. It wasn’t as straight forward as just popping to the shops to get it and she had to wait F O R E V E R for her new handset to come in. She this on Instagram and I offered a few words of support. We got messaging and she asked if I’d help her test out her new mobile with an IG live.

As you know, I am trying to get braver in front of the camera My inner introvert was screaming “Say no!” but to get more experience on camera, I said Yes. And, I am so glad I did. Layla was so lovely to speak to.

Going Live on Instagram with @laylawriteslove

We agreed a date & time for the Instagram Live, and both connected without any issues. Yay!

We mostly discussed writing and reading romance. I discovered her novels are steamy, and her series features around diverse characters. Her readers demanded more stories about her side characters, so she wrote some novellas. You can discover more about her book here.

She also shared tips with me on plotting. And, we covered writing in different point of views and making believable characters. She is a developmental editor and we both discussed how valuable they are. She has five novels and uses a developmental editor too. You can find out more about her services here.

Check Out Our Live

[kofi]

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Check out my Live Stream Team

Technical Difficulties

Book Review: Agent Undone by Cassidy Reyne

Book Review: Agent Undone by Cassidy Reyne

I love Cassidy. She has a big heart and its no surprise she writes romance. If you don’t follow her on social media you’re missing out.

Cassidy always says the perfect thing when someone needs picking up. She helped with my blurb and novel. I’ve never read romantic suspense before, but for her I wanted to.

If you don’t like spoilers, scroll quickly to my final thoughts.

About the Book

Beginning

Carter is an agent that got injured during the last mission. He’s now renting a cabin by the coast whilst recovering. In addition, he is hear broken over a colleague/lover that died. He has a lot of emotional stuff to process and doesn’t want a relationship. While he rests up, his best mate/colleague, Nate, let’s him stay at his beach holiday home.

Maddison writes articles about women in abusive relationships. It’s a topic very personal to her as she barely escaped her ex, Konrad, alive. Now she lives in fear he may one day find her. Maddie is renting the cabin next door to Nate’s, where Carter is staying.

Middle

Both characters are private people. Carter needs to maintain secrecy about who he is and what he does, and Maddison is constantly checking over her shoulder for her ex or one of his goons.

They enjoy running up and down the beach, and soon start doing this together. Carter is attracted to Maddie but doesn’t want to get involved woth anyone. He tries to manage his sexual urges with a few one night stands, careful to pick girls that won’t get close. The more time he spends with Maddison, the less effective his cold showers become.

Maddison has to visit her employers head office to collect her pay checks. Little does she know, but during this trip she is spotted by a goon. And despite her careful precautions, she’s now being followed back to the beach hut.

Carter’s leg has healed and he’s approved to return to duty. He’s to be an undercover agent to catch a sex and drug trafficking ring. Carter feels bad that he couldn’t say bye to Maddie and asks Nate to check on her.

Nate reports that Maddie has gone, and Carter accepts he is unlikely to ever see her again.

Carter is making progress fooling Konrad, the suspected boss of the ring he is investigating. Carter doesn’t know what to think when Konrad parades his girlfriend around his sleazy club, and Carter recognises her as Maddie.

End

There are lots of misunderstandings between the pair. Carter assumes that Maddie was helping Konrad get girls and after the bust, he wants nothing to do with her.

Fate causes the pair to cross paths again, it’s messy and they’ve a lot of baggage to unpack. But, there isa HEA and a very steamy sex scene .

Final Thoughts

This was a great read. It has some very steamy scenes but brought together with a strong plot. The characters are very complex, with rich back stories that feeds into who they are.

It’s only in recent years I’ve become aware of that domestic trafficking takes place. Cassidy sensitively deals with this topic. She shows how it has shapes Maddie and affected her life. The early chapters made me feel uneasy every time Maddie left the safety of her cabin. Carter also has complex issues to resolve. Their hesitation to get involved in a romantic relationship is very real.

There where times I wanted to knock Carter’s head but I think he was scared of the truth, as he was scared of getting close and losing someone again. I read the las chapters really fast as I loved when he starts to get over his fear and get honest with himself. He needs the truth, and he needs Maddie. Such a satisfying ending.

I’ve not read romantic suspense before. The suspense made me feel on edge and anxious. It was refreshing to try something different. I loved how developed the characters were, and obviously the way the steamy scenes made me feel.

[kofi]

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Behind the Book: Agent: Undone by Cassidy Reyne

Behind the Book: The Sentinels series by Cassidy Reyne

The Making Of The Blurb for Ocean Heart

Book Review: Out Of My League by Sarah Sutton

Behind the Book: Agent: Undone by Cassidy Reyne

What genre is Agent Undone and can you name any similar books?

Agent: Undone is a dark romance/romantic suspense novel with very adult themes. Books similar to this one would be the McIntyre Security Bodyguard Series by April Wilson, The Salvation Series by Corinne Michaels and The Broken Trilogy by J. L. Drake. They all have protective, slightly growly men and strong, independent women as their main characters.

The novel has two main characters, Carter & Maddison. Can you briefly introduce them?

Carter Hollis is a DEA Agent who has been forced to take medical leave after being shot in the leg during a mission. After his girlfriend and colleague died in his arms during an op, he couldn’t face being in a relationship again, so he became a ‘love ‘em and leave ‘em’ kind of guy. He’s always upfront about his intentions with every woman he meets and tries to not leave a string of broken hearts in his wake. He needs to focus on his work and doesn’t need a woman in his life for anything more than a bit of fun between the sheets whenever he’s off duty.


Madison Wells is living a quiet life in Florida, working from her little rented beach cottage and not allowing anyone close enough to see the deep cracks in her soul. She carries her secrets underneath a new identity and hides her fears of her past catching up with her behind an enigmatic smile and a well constructed armour. She doesn’t have friends, only people she says hello to in the tiny village nearby. Her days are spent on early morning runs on the beach, working on her writing and jumping at shadows.

Maddison has an ex from hell that she’s lucky to be free from. Not many people talk about trafficking and domestic abuse. Was it challenging writing about a such a difficult topic?

Trafficking and abuse are some of the worst crimes in our society, and they need to be brought out and examined in the cold light of day. In so many abusive situations, the victim is made to feel they are to blame for what is happening to them. They are stripped of their confidence, isolated from any outside support and made to depend on their abuser for everything. It’s incredibly hard for them to break free and escape their situation, and once they do the support available is often short term and run on shoestring budgets. I did a lot of research into domestic abuse and I was horrified when reading the women’s (and a couple of men) stories as they described their journey from being outgoing, confident, and in love, to an unrecognisable shell of their former selves. It’s a long, slow transformation that happens so gradually they don’t realise it before it’s too late. As much as I wanted to bring the subject into the book, I was also very wary of either trivialising or sensationalising it as it would be insulting to anyone who has ever suffered from abuse. The sex trafficking part was also emotionally hard to research and very complex, which is why I didn’t go into too many details and kept it to a more general description. We all know it happens and we all want it to stop, but as long as there are people who think others are there to be used as a commodity, and people who want to buy that commodity, it will always be an incredibly difficult trade to put a stop to. My heart breaks for anyone who has been put through it and for the families who lose a loved one in such a way. Many victims are never found which leaves parents, siblings and friends without closure and always wondering if they are still out there somewhere.

Carter has lost Mira and now uses women for a good time rather than to develop a meaningful connection. How did you rap into those complex emotions when developing his character?

Carter was both fun and interesting to create. I tried to visualise how a person would react if they didn’t deal with their grief properly after losing someone the way Carter lost Mira, and instead protected themselves from the risk of having to go through it again by pretending they didn’t want or need a deeper connection with a partner. I think we would all want to shield ourselves from heartache if the one we loved passed away. Some of us would go through all the classical stages of grief and eventually come out the other side, battered and bruised, but still open to finding someone new if the opportunity arose. Others would finish the grieving process but not feel the need for that kind of relationship again, and some would yearn for the love but be too afraid to have their heart broken again. The process of grief and loss is very individual and everyone tries to cope the best way they know how. Carter wants to fall in love and have that special someone in his life, but has convinced himself he’s not capable of it and only needs sexual gratification whenever his body demands it. I wanted him to come across as the stereotypical male who only wants one thing from women, while at the same time give glimpses into the fear and longing inside his heart. I promise, he’s not as bad as you might think when you first meet him.

You seem to have a style of writing novels with a dual perspective, one male, one female? Can we look forward to more of this?

I like writing from a dual perspective as I feel the reader gets a more three-dimensional insight into the characters. It allows me to develop the story from different levels and emotional angles, and the reader gets to know things about the characters they don’t know yet themselves. It lets the reader in on the secrets and builds a connection between them and the characters. It’s something I personally enjoy in the books I read and it’s a little like getting two stories woven into one whole.

The setting sounds beautiful. Have you been there or did you do a lot of research?

The story is set in the Florida panhandle and in Seattle, but I haven’t been to either of them so a lot of research was necessary. I’m on very friendly terms with Google Earth, Maps and Streetview. They are an absolute godsend for seeing how places look from lots of different angles. It’s also great fun to find new and interesting places to learn about and try to visualise as if you’ve actually been there. Quite often, I draw from memories of my own travels to try to create a picture of the sights, sounds and smells of the place I want to describe. After all, a sunny beach in Australia or Mexico is not going to be too different from one in Florida. Seattle was slightly more difficult, but as I didn’t need the characters to move around much, it wasn’t too hard to just get a feel for the city using the internet. The weather is also not too dissimilar to that here in the UK or even in Sweden where I grew up, so adding a lot of rain and grey skies was easy.

Please share a short snippet or teaser from Agent Undone?

“Before I forget, I might not make it for our run tomorrow morning.” Carter said with an embarrassed wince.
“Oh?” The tiny sound popped free from her mouth. “Are you going somewhere?”
“No, I’m not. My friend, Nathan, the guy who owns the beach house, is coming down today, and we’re going for a couple of drinks tonight at the bar.”
“And you might be too hungover tomorrow to go running? I get it. I suppose there might be a girl or two involved in that scenario as well?” Madison teased him, but he noticed a strained undertone in her words. It warmed his belly and made his chest feel light.
“Nope, no girls. Not for me, anyway. As soon as my leg has healed up, I’ll be on my way back to Virginia and my job. I don’t want to get tangled up with a woman that I must extricate myself from. Too many complications.” Damn, he was so lying to her — and himself. He just didn’t want her to think he was hooking up with other women while he was seeing her. Wait. Hold up. He was not seeing Madison. They were running buddies. Friends. Acquaintances. That’s all.
Carter tried to silence the annoying little voice in his head that was whispering the word liar very loudly.
“Well, if you need a hangover cure in the morning, give me a call and I’ll whip one up for you. I’ll even make one for your friend.” She snickered.
“If you have a hangover cure that actually works, Nate will worship you forever. He will also badger you for the recipe until you relent and give him what he wants. He’ll probably offer marriage and babies in return. You’ve been warned.” A deep laugh rumbled in Carter’s chest.
“No way, I’m not giving anyone that recipe, and for your information it does work. Or, at least it did on—“ Madison stopped abruptly and her lips pressed into a thin line. Carter knew that look.

Where can we find out more and buy your books?

There’s more information on Agent: Undone, including a video trailer made by the amazing J. D. Groom, and my other two books, on my website: cassidyreyne.comYou can purchase the books from Amazon and they are also available in Kindle Unlimited.

[kofi]

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If you are an Indie, you need to know this…

Behind the Book: Gem of Meruna by Elexis Bell

Elexis Bell – Gem of Meruna


The Gem of Meruna blurb

Gem of Meruna made you a published author, but you recently released it again, why?

The first time around, I was woefully undereducated about the publishing world. As such, I didn’t know to run (as fast as possible) from any publisher that expects you to pay them. I thought it was normal for the author to cover part of the costs. But…it definitely isn’t. That was just a vanity press.

My novel received no edits. It got no marketing. I was inundated with phone calls from their marketing people trying to sell me promotional packages, all of which were pitiful yet expensive.

Basically, it was a legal scam and my novel suffered for it. Now that I’m self-publishing, I’m making it right.

You now have three self published books, does publishing get easier?

It does, actually. It’s still very time-consuming and certain aspects are tedious, no matter what. But the metadata, copyright, and ISBN process gets easier with practice. Each time through, I have little tricks I picked up the time before.

What was the earliest story you can remember writing about?

In 3rd or 4th grade, my class was assigned a creative writing project wherein we had to write about a horse and a bat. I don’t remember the story I came up with, but I do recall something my teacher said when she called for me to read it. Apparently, I already had a reputation for writing darker stuff, because she said, “Knowing Elexis, the horse and the bat probably both die.” Lol.

What genre is Gem of Meruna and can you name any similar books?

It’s high fantasy romance. As for similar books…I’m really bad at finding comparison books. That was one of the hardest parts of querying when I was pursuing traditional publishing.

Please share a snippet or teaser from Gem of Meruna?

A noise startled Kiluna awake. It was far too close. The sound came again, right at her ear, but this time, she realized what it was.

Father had often snored when he slept, and Grandmother had, as well. But Kiluna hadn’t heard that sound since they died. Joseya’s snore was much softer, quieter, but its proximity made it seem far louder.

That was when Kiluna noticed it. Joseya no longer faced away from her, rather he nestled in close. One arm curled under his head, but the other wrapped around her waist.

Nothing about it felt strange though, just…right. She didn’t want to move, or even breathe too hard, for fear of waking him. The embrace would be retracted if he woke, she knew it as sure as she knew her scars were still there.

So, she laid still. She concentrated on his breath on the back of her neck. She relished the moment, all the while wondering if this would be the only time she lay near another Leey.

Her eyelids fell, blocking out the world as she savored the closeness. She didn’t notice when she drifted back to sleep.

Several moments later, she felt Joseya stir. His sudden movement made her jump. Instantly, he pulled his arm back to himself, muttering apologies as he did so. Kiluna flinched at his words but held in her pain. A single tear escaped her eye, leaving a tiny wet spot on the earth.

Which character from your books is most like you?

Every character gets a little piece of me. Sometimes it’s my favorite color, sometimes it’s more than that. Annabelle from my novella and Chloe from World for the Broken (my upcoming dark post-apocalyptic romance) have a lot of big experiences from my life, but so does Christian (also from World for the Broken).

What project are you currently working on?

I’m currently editing a dark post-apocalyptic romance, a dark high fantasy romance, and a dark supernatural high fantasy romance for release. Hopefully, I’ll be releasing all three this year, but at the very least two of them. I also just started writing another dark high fantasy romance wherein a deposed prince teams up with a druid high priestess to landscape their enemies to death.

Where can we find out more and buy your books?

My website has information and links for all my published works, as well as little tidbits about my WIPs. My blog is chock full of (blunt) writing advice and updates on all my work.
www.elexisbell.com

All my books are available on Amazon, and can be found on my Amazon author page.
www.amazon.com/author/elexis_bell

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Elexis Bell – Author Bio

If you enjoy this, you should check out:

World Indie Warriors

Behind the Book: Number Eight Crispy Chicken by Sarah Neofield

Book Review: Crown of Conspiracy by Kara S Weaver

Why I have chosen to Self-Publish

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