Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Writing Wednesday: To Excerpt or Not to Excerpt?

I got a call from my oldest son, who finally finished reading DEFIANCE (book 2 in my mermaid series) and is reading the copy of DECEPTION (book 3 in my mermaid series) that he actually purchased at Booksmith when he was home in December.

I mean, I have a pile of copies on my office shelf, but he bought his own at the store. "Now I have to read it, since I paid money for it," he said with a smile that day. I bought him dinner and margaritas in return. (He's 22, totally legal.) Well, I made my husband buy everyone dinner after the booksigning, but we're married, right? So it's just like me buying, except with less effort.


Does reading excerpts online make you more likely or less likely to actually buy the book? Does getting a book for free - either an ARC or a contest win - make you more likely to put it at the top of your reading pile or less likely than if you chose and paid for it yourself?

Personally, I love excerpts on blogs, and the extra chapters at the end of  books that tease you with the next book in the series. I've clicked links to buy a book after reading the excerpt, and I've totally gone back to amazon and ordered the next one in the series when I like the teaser chapter.

This is why I encourage guest bloggers to share excerpts - I know it works on me, so I'm assuming it works on other readers as well.

But not always. Sometimes it backfires. I may like the premise, but the blurb doesn't hook me so I hesitate. And then inevitably forget about that particular book when the next shiny thing comes along.

And does size matter? How long is too long? (Excerpts, people, we're talking excerpts. Get your minds out of the gutter.)

So that's what I'm thinking about today. And if anyone wants to chime in, let's get a conversation going. I may or may not be able to participate in said conversation as I'm in an all-day meeting today with my day-job peeps - but you all know I'd much rather be chatting with you.

In the meantime, Happy Writing!

Monday, January 15, 2018

Monday Book Review: One Night with Hemsworth, by Eden Finley

One Night with Hemsworth, One Night Series, Book 1, by Eden Finley
Published 2016

About the Book:
Cole Turner’s ex-wife is getting remarried. No amount of alcohol can drown that out, but taking home the hot brunette at the bar is a good enough distraction. That’s all Paige is meant to be—a distraction.

Paige Minor is too busy studying for her law degree and getting over a bad breakup to care about finding another boyfriend. All she wants is one night of careless fun with a complete stranger. Cole seems like the perfect candidate.

When Cole goes to pick up his son from his ex’s perfect house, with her perfect fiancĂ©, and perfect new life, the last person he expects to see is Paige. She definitely shouldn’t be the one opening the door. Cole and Paige's lives are more intertwined than either could imagine, and now they're off-limits.
My Take:

This was a New Adult romance that pushed a lot of buttons, and left me wondering if I liked it or not. There was a lot to like about it, but at the same time... I'm still not sure. Written in a he said/she said first person narrative way, we get both sides of the coin and can see how neither of them can think about the situation quite clearly because they're seriously smitten with each other. That's the only part that makes it less creepy.

Now I've got your attention, I'm sure.

Cole is a semi-reformed alcoholic, divorced with a young kid. His ex is getting remarried and Cole is (understandably) upset that his son will be calling another man "dad" in the near future.

Paige is a college student who not only just went through an awful breakup, but has to contend with her father's new fiance moving into their home with her four-year-old son. The little kid seems fine, it's actually the fiance herself that Paige doesn't really like, but she puts up with her since she's making her father happy.

When the pair meet for the first time in a bar, Cole has slipped off the wagon and Paige is on a mission to have a one-night stand. He's older than she is, but who's counting? It's one night of sex, right?

Except Paige's dad's new fiance, her soon to be step-mom, is Cole's ex-wife... and Paige's soon to be new brother is Cole's son.

There's a lot of eww in that sentence.

Somehow the author makes it work, or at least kept me reading, wondering how she was going to have these characters redeem the choices they've made, and continue to make. The "I'm so in love I can't think straight" only goes so far.

Which brings me to the question that kept rattling around in my head as I read this - does this stuff really happen in real life? I thought these situations were manufactured exclusively for Jerry Springer and his ilk. Or did this author just sit down with her friends and a bottle of tequila and say, "Okay, what's the most out-there situation complication I can throw at a romance-novel relationship?"

Because damn. This is up there.

The fact that the author compared her character (in the title and a few times in the story) to Chris Hemsworth may be the biggest part of why I kept reading. (I'm a sucker for that guy's smile.) (yeah, that's it. just his smile. And his accent. I like that too.) Add to that the book was well-written and didn't step on any of my pet peeve nerves (no head hopping, no dialogue cliches, no gay best friend monologuing the backstory...) and it was an entertaining read for a rainy afternoon when I just didn't feel well enough to get off the couch. Or, apparently, search for a different book.

So if you're intrigued after all that, I've included the link to the book's Amazon page. There are other more positive reviews there - but I'm just being honest with you. And honestly, I'm still conflicted about it all.

Check it out on Amazon HERE.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Friday Feature: Valentine Reads to Get you in the Holiday Spirit!

Valentine's Day is a month away, so finally the stocked shelves at the supermarket seem less out of place than they did, say, back in December. One holiday at a time, people. Please.


There aren't a whole lot of Valentine-themed romance novels, but The Wild Rose Press put out a Candy Hearts series a few years ago with 40 Valentine themed stories stretching across every romance sub-genre, from second-chance love to paranormal romance to erotica... something for everyone. Each book is based on a saying from one of those Candy Hearts you can only find around the holiday.

My story in the series is SAY YES, set on Cape Cod during a very snowy February between two people who've both given up on the idea of love. And yet...

Here's the deal:

Darby Malone has trouble saying no. Hosting a children’s Valentine party at her recently renovated gallery is the last straw, and the last time she intends to say yes to anything. That is, until she meets Ben, a well-known Cape Cod artist with eyes as deep and blue as the ocean. He stirs feelings in her that have been dormant for too long. Can she afford to say yes to him?
Ben Phillips needs this gallery show. His life has been empty since his wife died four years ago, his paintings the only thing giving him solace. But his style has changed, his art completely different than the breezy shore paintings he staked his reputation on. Can he convince Darby to give him a chance – and to consider him for more than just a place on her gallery walls? Will she give him a place in her heart as well?

Here's a fairly long excerpt from the story - to read it all, grab a copy on Amazon for $1.99.

She let out a sigh, tipping her chin up at him. “You know, Ben Phillips, for an artist, you’re actually a nice guy. And you have one of the sexiest smiles I’ve ever seen.” Bright spots of pink appeared on her cheeks as she laughed at herself. “There I go again, unable to filter that brain-to-mouth connection. I’d blame the scorpion bowl, but it’s really just me.”

He chuckled. “I like you unfiltered, Darby Malone.”

“You do?”

“Mmhmm.” He reached across the table again, taking her hand and twining his fingers with her. “I like you, Darby.”

Her lips formed the cutest little O of surprise, those hazel eyes dawning with comprehension and maybe a pinch of worry. He was beginning to understand the fascinating creature on the other side of the red vinyl booth, her fears and dreams. And he realized if he pushed too hard she might slip away. He dialed back on the emotion, returning to the light and slightly flirty tone that’d been working so well. “Hey, we both have a busy week ahead. Maybe it’s best if we get the check and call it a night. That way you won’t overdose on scorpion bowls, or my company.”

She grinned and agreed. He released her hand and signaled the waitress for the bill, worried he’d made a mistake by declaring his feelings. The smart move would be to let her settle into the idea slowly, wrap her head around the fact he wanted more than a one-day show. He’d take friendship, if that was all she could offer, but it didn’t stop him from wanting it all.

They walked to the parking lot side by side, his hands shoved deep into coat pockets, clutching at the lining to keep his fingers from reaching for her. Fat snowflakes drifted silently, a light coating of white already dusting the ground. The still air felt laced with magic, the swirling snow like pixie dust sparkling all around them. Her car sat next to his pickup truck under the streetlamp, the last two vehicles in the lot. He stopped next to her door as she unlocked the car. “This was fun,” she said, sounding sincere. “It’s my turn to pay next time.”

“I’ll hold you to that. And maybe I’ll pick a more expensive place.” He laughed when her eyes widened, her smile turning into more of a smirk. There’s that spunk. “Actually, I hear there’s a new Middle Eastern place opening on the other side of town with a fancy prix fixe menu we could try.”

She laughed out loud, shoving his shoulder playfully. “Why stop there? Let’s go all out for the hundred-dollar lobster at the Chatham Inn.”

Unable to resist, he grabbed her wrist before she could pull away and drew her in for a friendly hug, rocking her from side to side. “Only kidding. Scorpion bowls again soon?”

“Yeah, I’d like that.” Her warm breath tickled his neck, making him suddenly aware of every soft curve pressed against him. Need stirred deep inside. She stared into his face, her eyes reflecting the same longing.

Before he could stop to think, he bent his head and captured those soft lips with his own, gently tasting the sweetness he’d been dreaming about since their first meeting. Her whole body stiffened, like she might pull away, before she relaxed into the kiss, tentative, tasting, taking his breath away. He teased her lips with his tongue until she opened for him, giving herself more fully. He fell headlong into her softness, the rest of the world fading to nothingness. All that existed was her mouth, this kiss, and the feel of her body molded to his.

He slid one hand from her waist to tangle in the mess of curls above her scarf, pulling her closer, fully claiming her mouth. He felt her hand on his cheek, cupping it gently, holding him in place as her thumb stroked a trail of fire along his jawline. The pleasure intensified as she shifted against him, every nerve ending in his body hyperaware of her touch. He had no sense of time passing until the snow fell harder, melting on his cheeks, dripping down the back of his neck.

When their lips finally broke apart, both were breathless. It took him a moment to orient himself and remember where they were.

Alone in a dark parking lot, lost in a kiss.

“Wow,” she whispered, her hazel eyes shiny, tiny snowflakes sticking to her lashes and dotting her dark curls, covering her shoulders with a fine layer of white.

She looks like an angel. My own little snow angel.

He cleared his throat, trying to get a handle on the turmoil churning within, hoping she felt at least a fraction of what he experienced. His voice came out rougher than he expected, full of emotion. “Darby, I…”

She put a gentle finger across his lips, a small smile playing on those luscious lips. Her voice sounded as husky as his. “Don’t you dare apologize. I know I said it isn’t a date, but that was the most delicious kiss ever, so don’t ruin it.”

Ben’s hand still tangled in her hair, his fingers playing with the silky curls at the nape of her neck. He chuckled. “No way I’m apologizing. I’m only sorry if you’re uncomfortable with this new twist in our relationship.” He feathered light kisses along the edge of her forehead. She closed her eyes and leaned into his touch.

“Twist?” Her soft murmur sent his pulse racing.

He swallowed hard and pulled back to look in her face, memorizing each curve and angle. “I thought I could do this, but obviously I can’t. We can’t be friends any more, Darby.”

Her eyes widened, her voice a whisper. “Why?”

“Because I want more. I want more dates, more kisses, more time with you in my arms. I can’t go back to being your friend when I want to move forward.” Her cheeks flushed, but since she didn’t pull away or run screaming, it gave Ben hope that maybe there was a chance. When she started to smile, the knot in his chest tightened. So beautiful.

“With kisses like that, how can I say no?” Her words teased, and her smile invited. He couldn’t resist claiming her mouth for another intoxicating kiss. A little moan rose from deep in her throat, and the knot twisted tighter still, his heart aching with need, his mouth hot on hers. Again they were breathless when they came up for air.

She inhaled deeply, opening her eyes. “But like I said earlier, I don’t have much luck dating artists.”

Her words were like tiny daggers stabbing at his hopes. Even though she hadn’t moved, he felt her slipping away, convincing herself to stop before they even started. He pressed his case, pulling her closer.

“I’m not like the other artists you dated. I’m not interested in fame or the trappings of success. I’ve already been on that rollercoaster. I want something real, and I want someone to share it with. I’ve been lonely for too long. I think you have, too.”

Her eyes glistened under the streetlight, her face filled with uncertainty. The snow continued to swirl around them. “Ben, I don’t know…”

He silenced her objections with another kiss, warm and gentle, filled with the same hope and longing as his words. Her resistance melted and she kissed him back, becoming more insistent, her hands clutching his shoulders to pull him tight. She ended the kiss and pushed him away, wriggling out of his embrace, her face looked more confused than ever. She kept her hands on his shoulders, her elbows locked while she held him at arm’s length. She closed her eyes and shook her head. “I can’t kiss you and think clearly at the same time.”

He knew just what she meant, his head still spinning from that last kiss. The chemistry between them felt irresistible—so why was she still trying to deny it? “Is that a good thing or a bad thing?”

The grimace on her face told him the answer. “Not thinking is what gets me into trouble. Every time.”

~ * ~ * ~ * ~