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Archive for the ‘Harlequin Superromance’ Category

APlacewithBriar

 

It’s a special thing – setting a romance in the same small, coastal town you grew up in and fell in love in yourself. My Harlequin Superromance novel, A Place With Briar, is a bit of a tribute to life on the U.S. Gulf Coast where I’ve spent over half my life. And, naturally – everything about this place and the people who live here have informed who I am and those who came before me.

 

But today I’m going to talk about one of the big downfalls about settling down on the southern coast. That is hurricane season. I’ve experienced quite a bit of tropical weather – from tropical storms to Category 3 hurricanes. (Anything bigger than Cat. 3 usually means RUN!) While rewriting this book, I came to the middle of the manuscript and thought, “Something’s missing….” The inn where most of the story takes place is on the Eastern Shore of the Mobile Bay, which feeds into the Gulf of Mexico. It also takes place during June, the first month of hurricane season. I came to the swift conclusion that unfortunately what this manuscript needed was a named storm. It helped that at that moment there just happened to be a tropical storm by the name of Lee sitting on top of our area. It was all the inspiration I needed.

 

The situation was ideal for that point in the storyline. The hero and heroine are stuck inside the inn together. The power’s out. There’s not much they can do but wait it out. Grab a little bit of comfort from each other, of course. Hurricanes can be a harrowing, especially if you live in the direct impact zone….

 

Late in the summer of 2004, my family was enjoying the sun on one of our local, white-sand beaches. At that same moment, hundreds of miles away from impact, Hurricane Ivan was gathering strength and speed in the middle of the Gulf. The high-cresting waves were the only indication that a natural disaster would occur in a few days’ time. While wading on the shore, I watched a small shark’s tail pop out of the surf as it fought the rough tide. Days later, the eye of Ivan made landfall less than a mile from where we had been enjoying the beach. While accessing the wreckage with my husband in his Jeep, I was heartbroken. Our beaches were ripped to shreds. Water had crashed inland, flooding nearly the entire island of Gulf Shores. Sand had been pushed into the lower levels of high-rise condos, which along with miles of beach-houses were reduced to rubble on their Gulf-facing facades. Costs for damage was far into the millions. Several acquaintances lost their homes. National Guard patrols took over the streets to catch looters and enforce strict curfews for those who were able to return home. For two weeks, the region felt like a war zone. Aside from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, it was the worst beating Alabama beaches have taken in my lifetime.

 

It was important for me to show that neither of my characters were foolish for staying in the Category 3 storm’s path, they were respectful and cautious enough of the potential of a hurricane this size, and that they were prepared for the worst. On another level, as all frightening experiences go, the storm gives the hero and heroine a chance to mend the emotional bridges between them and bond as only survivors can. It gives them an added push toward one another and fuels them in their quest to clean up the damage the storm leaves behind. It also forges a deeper part of their relationship, enabling me to get them from the middle of the storyline to the third act climax and finally to their well-deserved HEA.

 

Here’s a little storm snippet from A Place With Briar, which is on shelves now in stores and online….

 

It didn’t take long for the wind to start howling. First it came as a kettle whistle. Then it strengthened into a steady, wolfish wail, interrupted only by brunt gusts that tossed limbs against the side of the house. The inn began to groan loudly, as if the storm’s elements made it feel its age like never before.

 

Driving sheets of rain drilled the Eastern Shore in sporadic bands. One minute the wind was all that existed, the next stinging nettles of water pounded the roof.

 

As the night wore on, it escalated. Endless wind, endless rain coupled with several hotspots in the fast-moving clouds. Then the sky rumbled its fury and deadly bolts forked overhead, illuminating the hampered world with blinding, white light.

 

And finally, the hail. The clouds littered rocks of ice on the bay. As soon as Briar heard their chilling cacophony, she knew Hurricane Brett was closing in.

 

The power lasted longer than she would’ve wagered, but when it shut down, it did so without a warning flicker. The house fell dead around her. There’d been no television or radio on, no noise inside the house. But without the fan spinning above her, without the drone of the air conditioner or the refrigerator, and without the comfort of light, she felt little between the storm and herself.

 

The generator growled, hesitated then roared. Lantern in hand, Briar waited to make sure it would keep running. Satisfied, she picked up several lengths of ready extension cord and unraveled it as she made her way toward the kitchen.

 

It took a minute to wrestle the refrigerator away from the wall, but once she put her back into it, it scraped across the floor with a shriek. First cord in hand, she unplugged the fridge and fit the cable into the extension. A spark from the surge between the two zapped her palm and she dropped both with a clatter, cradling her numbed hand as the fridge hummed to life.

 

“Are you all right?”

 

Heart launching into her throat, she pressed her back to the wall, blood draining from her head as she glanced up into what she thought for a moment was the face of a ghost. Then she blew out a shuddering breath. “Oh, dear God, Cole. Where did you come from?”

 

“Upstairs,” he said, pointing toward the ceiling. At her blank look, he added, “I…never left.”

 

“Your motorcycle’s gone,” she pointed out, puzzled.

 

“I moved it onto the side porch. I thought that would keep it out of the worst of the storm.”

 

As she struggled to her feet, holding her numbed hand in the other, she frowned at him. “Why didn’t you leave?”

 

He lowered his eyes, lifted a shoulder. “I couldn’t leave you here. All alone in this.”

 

Blurb:

 

He’s in some serious trouble…. 

 

Cole Savitt does not want to deceive Briar Browning. But if he hopes to see his son again, he has to find the weaknesses in her charming bed-and-breakfast, then get out of town fast! But the quaint inn isn’t the only thing charming him….

 

Cole’s straightforward plan becomes anything but when he begins to fall for the beautiful innkeeper. Suddenly everything’s on the line—his future with his son, a chance at happiness and the love of a good woman. Cole must rethink his priorities…and the stakes have never been higher.

 

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Place-Briar-Mills-Boon-Superromance-ebook/dp/B00FTQIM64/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1392412584&sr=8-1&keywords=a+place+with+briar

 

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-place-with-briar-amber-leigh-williams/1117254426?ean=9781460329351

 

Harlequin: http://www.harlequin.com/storeitem.html?iid=51153

 

www.amberleighwilliams.com

http://twitter.com/ALeighWilliams

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Amber will be giving away a $15 Books-a-Million gift card to one lucky reader. Leave a comment for a chance to win.

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9780373718443_The First MoveAn unlikely encounter…but he’ll take it!
It seems like fate…or something! When Miles Brislenn spies the girl he had a crush on in high school—at his ex-wife’s wedding, no less—he can’t let the opportunity pass. He might not have had the courage to talk to Renia Milek back then, but he definitely does now. And that’s not the only thing that’s changed. Gone is the rebel Renia used to be. In her place is a beautiful woman who’s reserved, cautious…and holding on to secrets.For Miles, this second chance with Renia is too important to let her past stand in their way. He’ll do whatever is necessary to help her accept her choices and move on—even if that means a salsa lesson or two! Because now that he’s made the first move, he wants the second to be hers.

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Thank you for having me on the blog and giving me an opportunity to talk about my new release, The First Move. The book is the second in a trilogy of the Milek siblings.

Mad said I could talk about whatever I wanted, which she may regret because I’m going to talk about dumplings. Those of you who read my first book, Reservations for Two, know I like to write about food and that pierogi (a Polish dumpling) play an integral role in the lives of all the Milek siblings. Part of this is because I love dumplings. From ravioli to xiaolongbao to samosas to kreplach, eating starch wrapped around hot and savory fillings is incredibly soothing. Dumplings are usually cheap, because they evolved from peasant food cultures. Cheap plus soothing equals the universal comfort food.

Renia Milek, the heroine of The First Move, needs all the comfort she can get. She has spent the past eighteen years of her life hiding from her past and refusing to allow herself intimate relationships, with either friends or lovers. She has a secret that even her best friend doesn’t know about. Her family knows, but they don’t talk about it. Miles, the hero, isn’t afraid of her prickly demeanor, nor is he willing to be pushed away simply because the only reaction Renia has to pain is to shove. He’s wanted her since high school and no secret is going to get in the way.

What does this have to do with dumplings? Two of my favorite scenes happen over a meal of dumplings. When Renia finally makes the decision to be open about her past, she confesses to her best friend over jiaozi (boiled Chinese dumplings much like Japanese gyoza). When she has to face her past over dinner, pierogi are on the menu and Miles is there to support her.

Renia doesn’t have an easy journey in The First Move. Though she works hard for her happy ending, I tried to give her some help along the way—Miles at her back and dumplings on her plate.

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meduimresLohmann-0870Jennifer Lohmann is a Rocky Mountain girl at heart, having grown up in southern Idaho and Salt Lake City. After graduating with a degree in Economics from the University of Chicago, she moved to Shanghai to teach English. Back in the United States, she earned a Master’s in Library Science and now works as a public librarian. She was the Romance Writers of America librarian of the year in 2010. She and her husband live in the Southeast with a dog, a chicken, and four cats.

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For more information about Jennifer and her books, visit jenniferlohmann.com. And for a chance to win The First Move, just leave a comment below. Good luck!

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Sarah Mayberry is one of my all-time favorite authors in category books. Her books are packed with such emotion that they always suck me right in from the start. WITHIN REACH comes out August 7, 2012. Isn’t the cover just lovely?

Something more than friendship

Being a single dad was never on Michael Young’s agenda. Yet with the sudden loss of his wife, that’s exactly the role he has. On his best days, he thinks he can handle it. On his worst… Luckily, family friend Angie Bartlett has his back, easily stepping in to help out.

Lately, though, something has changed.

Michael is noticing exactly how gorgeous Angie is, and how single she is. She’s constantly in his thoughts and he feels an attraction he never expected. Does he dare disrupt the very good thing they have going? If they have a fling that goes nowhere, he stands to lose everything — including her. But if they make it work, he stands to gain everything!

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From bed to baby to…bliss?

A chance encounter. A steamy night together. That’s all Rhys Walker signs on for when Charlotte “Charlie” Long sashays across his path. Sure, maybe he catches a glimpse of forever in her eyes. But the brush-off note the gorgeous brunette leaves the next morning says it all, doesn’t it? Time to move on.

Rhys never expects that moving on actually means reconnecting with Charlie. Or that her big news changes everything. Becoming a father now, under these circumstances, never factored into his plans. Yet he’s not as upset as he thought. Because now he has the opportunity to explore that glimpse of forever…and turn it into reality.

 

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First up, a big thanks to Fatin for inviting me to blog today. I love talking about romance with avid readers, and today I wanted to chat with you about romance heroines.

 

There’s a theory (not sure whose!) about how romance novels are really all about the hero, and that the heroine is merely a “placeholder” who acts as the reader’s proxy in the story. I don’t know about you, but I want more from my romance heroine than for her to be my proxy. I want her to be complex and flawed and lovable and smart. I want her to be someone I’d like to know in real life, maybe even someone I’d like to be my friend.

 

When I think back on the most memorable heroines from my keeper shelf, they are all women who are far, far from perfect. Sugar Beth from Susan Elizabeth Philips’ Ain’t She Sweet is a perfect example. Sugar was a nasty little princess when she was a teen but life has taught her some tough lessons and when she returns to her home town we get to see her both reap what she’s sown but also rise above it. She’s smart and sassy and generous and scared – a great heroine, in my book.

 

Chastity O’Neil from Kristin Higgin’s Just One Of The Guys is another memorable heroine. She’s larger than life, plain speaking, capable and she wears her heart on her sleeve. I loved her to death and wanted her to find her happy ever after so much my chest ached.

 

I’ve just finished reading Deanna Raybourn’s Silent In the Grave and have fallen hard for Lady Julia Grey, her fledgling lady detective. Watching Julia blossom as a person after her husband’s death was a wonderful experience and I can’t wait to read more about this fascinating woman and her eccentric family.

 

When I sit down to write my books, I spend as much time thinking about my heroine as I do my hero. I want to believe in her, and I want to like her. Most of all I want to be on her side as she strives to be happy. More Than One Night is my 22nd book for Harlequin, and I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the heroine, Charlie (Charlotte), is my favorite heroine so far. She’s strong and she’s hard working and she’s honest – and she’s intensely vulnerable underneath her capable, calm exterior. I felt so strongly for her as I was writing – I really, really wanted her to find the love that she’d missed out on earlier in life.

 

I’d love to hear from you about your favorite romance heroines. Who lives long in your memory? Why? And do you have any dealbreakers when it comes to heroines? I’m giving away my two latest releases today – All They Need, and More Than One Night . Looking forward to talking with you all.

 

www.sarahmayberry.com

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The Book

The Tease

Rhys entered the cafe and headed straight for the corner table. Charlie pulled out her own chair before he could do it for her. Her hands were shaking, a fact she tried to disguise by hiding them beneath the table once she was seated. The edgy feeling that had been creeping up on him intensified as he looked at her.

Charlie shifted in her chair.

“Um, how have you been?” she asked.

“What’s going on, Charlie?”

She closed her eyes for a long moment. Then she opened them and looked him dead in the eye. “I’m pregnant.”

“What?” He sat back in his chair as though he’d been pushed. “That’s not possible. We used condoms. Lots of them.”

“I know. I’m still pregnant. Eight weeks and two days, to be exact.”

He stared at her. His brain was one big, empty echoing space. He couldn’t think.

 

The Blurb

From bed to baby to…bliss?

A chance encounter. A steamy night together. That’s all Rhys Walker signs on for when Charlotte “Charlie” Long sashays across his path. Sure, maybe he catches a glimpse of forever in her eyes. But the brush-off note the gorgeous brunette leaves the next morning says it all, doesn’t it? Time to move on.

Rhys never expects that moving on actually means reconnecting with Charlie. Or that her big news changes everything. Becoming a father now, under these circumstances, never factored into his plans. Yet he’s not as upset as he thought. Because now he has the opportunity to explore that glimpse of forever…and turn it into reality.

 

Available today!

www.sarahmayberry.com

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Boundaries. The key to how corporate lawyer Alexandra Knight manages her busy life. However, lately all her precisely drawn lines are getting blurred. Blame it on her out-of-control biological clock that is ignoring her single status…and on Ethan Stone.

Because her sexy, no-strings colleague has posed an outrageous solution to her dilemma—he’ll be her baby daddy. This from the guy who avoids all commitment? Okay, so they’re attracted to each other. Really, really attracted. But crossing the line from coworker to co-parent with Ethan could ruin Alex for all other men. After all, when you’ve had the best…

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I love the idea of grabbing a hold of life and not letting go – or, as Robin Williams so memorably said it in Dead Poets Society, “carpe diem”. I can remember sitting in the cinema watching that movie and being so moved and overwhelmed by the themes in the film – the sadness and eccentricity and hope and ideals. It’s so easy to dream when we’re young, don’t you think? But as we get older, those dreams and the ability to grab life with both hands and jump in feet first sometimes escapes us.

The notion of not letting life slip by forms the heart of my latest book, The Best Laid Plans. Lots of people are talking about this book as being a “biological clock” book. On one hand, this is absolutely spot on, but on a deeper level – for me, anyway – this story is about dreams and the decisions we make when we realise that perhaps life isn’t going to work out the way we imagined.

I’m not sure what you wanted to be when you grew up (although I have to confess that it’s a rare day when I feel really grown up – most of the time I feel like a big kid), but the heroine in Best Laid Plans, Alex, always wanted to be a mother. Don’t get me wrong, she wanted other things, too – she’s a very successful lawyer, fiercely independent – but having a family of her own has long formed the cornerstone of her vision of her life. As the book opens, Alex is 38 and starting yet another busy, rich day in her life as a commercial lawyer.  Then she runs smack-bang into her ex boyfriend, a man she lived with for seven years but whom she left when he refused to even discuss the notion of having a child with her.  And he’s pushing a stroller. Yep, that’s right – after years of denying Alex her fondest dream, he met another woman who “accidentally” fell pregnant and he’s now a doting dad.

Alex is utterly thrown by this revelation. And she’s rocked even more off balance later that day when she has her annual check up and learns from her doctor that, contrary to Alex’s belief, she doesn’t have all the time in the world to start having babies. In fact, according to her doctor, once she passes forty, the chances of her having a baby with her own eggs decline to just 10 %.  These two separate incidents push Alex to the edge. Suddenly the life she’s always thought she’d have – the one with a husband and children, a family of her own – looks as though it’s not going to happen. Alex faces a choice – let go of the dream, or do her damnedest to make it reality.

I won’t blab the whole plot, but I don’t think it’s giving too much away to say that Alex is not the kind of woman to take the death of her dreams lying down. And when her co-worker, Ethan, gets wind of her situation, he, too, is faced with choices he’s made and dreams he though he’d left behind.

So, you know, while this book is definitely about being a parent and building a family, it’s also about seizing the day.  It takes a lot of courage to seize the day. Sometimes you have to defy family, loved ones, society to take that leap of faith. Sometimes you have to risk making a fool of yourself. And the rewards are definitely not guaranteed.  But the pay off if you make it…well, it’s worth it if the prize is achieving your dream, right?

I’d love to give away two (2!) copies of The Best Laid Plans today to posters. Tell me about  someone you know who has had the courage to pursue their dream – especially if that “someone” is you!  I love hearing other people’s stories of faith and self belief and guts.

Over to you!

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Thank you to Sarah for visiting with us today!

To find out more about Sarah and her books, please visit her website at www.sarahmayberry.com. Don’t forget to leave a comment below for a chance to win THE BEST LAID PLANS. Good luck!

 

 

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What’s a girl to do when she’s secretly in love with a friend and he’s married to someone else? She gets over it. That’s what Amy Parker has done. Rather than lose her best bud Quinn Whitfield with an ill-timed, crazy confession of affection, she’s taken the smart route. She’s eased away from him. Just enough to get past the unrequited bits. And you know, it’s working.

Until the day Quinn announces he’s now single. That’s right. He’s single. And he wants to hang out. With her. Get reconnected the way they used to be.

Oh, this is so not good for Amy’s equilibrium. Daily doses of Quinn remind her of everything she loves about him. But if he’s free…and she’s free…well, maybe the time has come for one of those crazy confessions.

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The subject of coming home again is something that’s been pretty close to my heart lately. After two years living in New Zealand, me and my man have recently moved back home to Australia to my home town of Melbourne. We’ve also been on the hunt for a new house.

Being close to our family again has been, in a word, fabulous. Yes, family can be messy and demanding and noisy and, at times, deeply frustrating, but the connection I feel to the my people is a powerful, powerful thing. I love having my sister drop by the house after school for a quick visit and a cup of tea. I adore having my brother over to watch a DVD. I love being able to go to my nephews’ basketball games. I am absolutely gagging to see my niece’s first calisthenics review. And being close to my parents as they age and explore their latter years is a gift beyond price.

As for house hunting…well, it sucks, pure and simple. The lying real estate agents, the soaring Melbourne property prices, our ever-diminishing hopes…it’s been a roller coaster ride, pure and simple. But, as of this week, we are officially home owners again. At last, after four unsuccessful attempts, we signed a contract and will shortly be moving into our own home again.

After two years of renting in a foreign country, the idea of having my own house once more, of being able to hang a painting without asking permission or plant a tree in the garden or paint a wall is a joy beyond words. I cannot wait to move in. I cannot wait to have a home of my own again.

The notion of coming home is something I thought about a lot when I was writing my latest Super Romance, Her Best Friend. The story is set in the small rural town of Daylesford, about an hour’s drive north of Melbourne, and centres around Amy and Quinn. These two grew up next door to each other and fell in love with each other when they were barely teenagers, although neither of them was brave enough to admit as much to the other. And then a new girl came to town and drew Quinn’s attention and he wound up moving to Sydney with her and marrying her and leaving Amy to deal with her broken heart alone.

Sixteen years later, Quinn returns home to help Amy take on the local council so she can fulfill her big dream of buying back the old Art Deco cinema her great-grandfather built way back in the Thirties.  Coming home for Quinn is a bittersweet thing – so many memories, many of them tied up with Amy, the girl next door, and also with the woman who is soon to be become his ex-wife.

I loved writing this book and exploring those themes of homecoming, and they resonate for me even more now that I have come home myself.

I’d love to hear your stories of homecoming – what home means to you, where it is, etc, etc. And to celebrate both the release of Her Best Friend and the purchase of my new home, I’d love to give away two sets of Her Best Friend, my latest Super Romance, and Her Secret Fling, my February Blaze. All you have to do is comment and you’ll be in the running.  Over to you!

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Huge thanks to Sarah for being our guest today! For more information on her books and what’s coming up next for her, please visit her website here. Also, don’t forget to leave a comment for the chance to win a book by her. Good luck!

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