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Breakfast of Champions

Published January 16, 2019 by francesothomas

The Glamorous Life of a Mediocre Housewife by Crissy Sharp

Lotty Brooks’ days consist of avoiding thoughts of her failing marriage, changing diapers, and trying not to eat chocolate brioche for breakfast and lunch. However, everything changes when her perfect, lakeside Montana neighborhood begins bustling with crime and she seems to be the target.

Jason Brooks wants to know what happened to the woman he married. Lotty’s a mere shell of her former self. When she becomes the focal point of neighborhood threats, and the town seems to question her innocence, he must decide how well he knows his wife.

As Jason and Lotty try to get to the bottom of the threats and find those responsible, they’ll need to remember what they once loved about each other. Otherwise, they may lose everything and everyone they care about.

It was his hideous cheval mirror that provoked Lotty. The pompous owls carved into the edges sneered at the bedroom as if they knew her and Jason’s marriage was falling apart. The crack in the top corner reminded her of everything that had gone wrong between them. She normally steered clear of the monstrosity, but today it caught her eye and she stopped right in front of it. Smack dab in the middle where she could see every stupid owl.

Somehow Jason’s mirror highlighted all her imperfections. Maybe it was the way he saw her now. She closed her eyes so she couldn’t see the stranger with slumped shoulders and tired eyes. She tried to think of herself as the confident, young mother she’d been, but the image dissolved before it ever came into view. Gone were the skinny jeans and heels. Now it was yoga pants and a muffin top. The bright-eyed Lotty Brooks was a distant memory. She missed the excited version of herself, the one who loved her husband and felt loved in return. The woman she’d become was a sad shell of her former self.

Lotty turned away with a sigh and shoved the last bite of her breakfast pastry into her mouth, letting the gooey deliciousness numb her sadness. Who needed skinny jeans and heels in a world where chocolate brioche masqueraded as breakfast? Maybe she should resign herself to a life in pants with stretchy waistbands.

She picked up Jason’s jacket from where he’d left it on the floor. Jason. Maybe what she needed to resign herself to was a life without him, but the thought tore at her heart.

“Had me caught up in the story and mystery of it very quickly. It’s been a long time since I found a book that was hard to put down, but this one was that way!”–Laura L.

“Fabulous, funny! Emotions and suspense abound!” –Julie C

“This book kept me on the edge of my seat! I did not want to put it down and snuck in a few pages while at work (shhh don’t tell my boss!). This mystery/suspense novel has everything you could want – intrigue, a mystery to solve, romance, and even a scheming mother.” –StoreyBook Reviews

Author Crissy Sharp

Crissy Sharp has a special knack for avoiding cooking and cleaning so she can focus the hobbies she truly enjoys, like writing and running. Though she’ll always be a Montana girl at heart, she also loves Tennessee, where she currently lives with her husband and three children.

Giveaway Details

$25 Amazon Gift Code or $25 in PayPal Cash

Ends 2/6/19

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner may be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, BookBub, Instagram, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. This giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader & Clean Wholesome Romance and is sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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We all scream for ice cream

Published January 15, 2019 by francesothomas

The Sweetest Spark by Liwen Y. Ho

He’s a fun-loving ice cream shop owner looking for more than a fling. She’s a straight-laced food critic too scared for love. Little did they know how much a foolish kiss would trigger an avalanche of emotions too great to contain.

Colin Spark may not have the best track record when it comes to his career choices, but he’s loved the same woman since he was thirteen. His only obstacle to winning her heart is proving he’s ready to settle down—an impossible task now that his store is going out of business.

Since her sister’s passing, Candy Connelly has survived by being in control and protecting her heart. There’s only one man she’s let her guard down with, but his unreliable past shakes her confidence in his future.

Colin won’t give up pursuing his passion; Candy won’t give in to her attraction. That is until an accident brings all their unspoken issues to the surface and forces them to listen to their hearts. Will this incident be the spark that drives them apart for good or gives them their sweetest taste of romance yet?

Candy followed Abby as they headed back to their table, her heels clicking against the wooden floor, until a tall figure stepped in front of her. One whiff of the man’s musky cologne confirmed Colin’s presence, as did the warmth radiating from his body. Candy would’ve liked to wrap herself up in it, especially in this cold winter weather. Instead, she stepped back, careful not to make contact with the man who had a way of worming his way into her heart. “Excuse me,” she stated, trying to side step her way around him.

“Candy, can we talk?” Colin stood firmly, crossing his arms as if he meant business. “Please?”

“Colin, that’s not a good idea.” Candy peered around him to look for Abby and see if she’d help her out of this situation. No luck though; her friend was long gone. So much for counting on her friend’s nosiness. She crossed her arms and peered up into Colin’s pleading eyes, then immediately dropped her gaze. It was best not to look directly into his eyes. That’s how she’d found herself letting down her guard around him. “I thought I made it clear; there’s no future for us. We’re too different. It would never work.”

He stepped close, leaning his head down next to hers. His voice was husky when he spoke. “If that’s the case, I want you to tell it to me straight. Look me in the eyes and say there’s no future for us. Then I’ll let you go on your way and never bother you again.”

“What? What difference does it make how I say it?” Candy turned her head to the side, away from his face. She stared at the intricate pattern of the tiles on the wall, anywhere but his eyes. For some people, sugar was their weakness; for her, it was Colin.

“I loved the chemistry and banter between Candy and Collin. Their escapades and experiences drew me into the story and their love and forgiveness stayed with me long after the last page.”

“Colin really is the sweetest Spark! He and Candy had such beautiful character arcs as they grew to trust God and each other more. The romance was tender and the Christian elements gentle and poignant. I found I could actually identify with parts of both of their personalities, and that make me cheer for each of them even more. The push-and-pull of their relationship was the richest of any Liwen Ho book I’ve read yet, and I’m already a fan. She just keeps getting better!”

“The Sweetest Spark is a book where the characters just walk right into your heart-well, by book 3 of the Spark Brothers, you are invested in these lovable and fun people – uh… CHARACTERS (Characters in a book, NOT real people-yes, I know! Really!) Colin and Candy are wonderful characters BECAUSE of their issues that they work through… and discover that everything works when they work together. Isn’t that something that we would all benefit from learning!!! I am looking forward to the rest of the series!”

Author Liwen Y. Ho

Liwen Y. Ho works as a chauffeur and referee by day (AKA being a stay at home mom) and an author by night. She writes sweet and inspirational contemporary romance infused with heart, humor, and a taste of home (her Asian roots).

In her pre-author life, she received a Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Western Seminary, and she loves makeovers of all kinds, especially those of the heart and mind. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her techie husband and their two children.

Giveaway Details

$25 Amazon Gift Code or $25 in PayPal Cash

Ends 2/5/19

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner may be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, BookBub, Instagram, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. This giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader & Clean Wholesome Romance and is sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Paris=Love

Published January 14, 2019 by francesothomas

A Friend in Paris by Jennie Goutet

Friendship between a talented young artist and her handsome French neighbor is a promising start—until it’s not enough.

April promised her dying father she would study painting in Paris, but friends are few, her budget is tight, and her landlord increasingly won’t take “no” for an answer. Then she meets Victor.

Victor is as chivalrous as he is wealthy, and if it weren’t for him, April would have already left the City of Light behind. Too bad Victor still has eyes for his ex-girlfriend, who is now back on the scene and wants to get married.

Although April and Victor swore to remain just friends, magical Paris seems to weave a different spell. The more their connection deepens, the more it becomes difficult to keep a proper distance. Or to remember why they should.

Penelope peeked into the hallway. “We’re about to play poker. Who wants in?”

“Me,” April said. “But I need a refresher for the rules. It’s not for money, right?”

“Nope, just for chips. Hey, Victor,” Penelope said, “Are you able to take April back to your grandmother’s apartment tonight after you bring Margaux home? She probably won’t ask for help, but we’re afraid Lucas is following her, and we want to make sure she doesn’t get stalked.”

“Sure.” Victor turned to her in consternation. “Another thing you’re not telling me, April. Please tell me these things.”

A flash of anger came over April, and she replied without thinking. “Don’t expect me to tell you everything. It’s not like I’m your girlfriend. I don’t owe you explanations, or details, or anything.”

Er…let me see how the game is going.” Penelope turned, whisking away a smile.

“What are you talking about, April. We’re friends. Friends talk.”

“Victor,” April hissed. “It’s like you expect things from me you don’t even expect of your own fiancée. You want me to come to you for help and tell you everything. But you don’t even know what Margaux was doing that whole year in Monaco. You don’t know what brought her back or…or whether the baby is even yours.” There. I said it. April’s pulse pounded in her temple.

“Victor doesn’t ask me these things, because he already knows the answer.” Margaux’s cool voice came from where the living room joined the hallway. “And, since he is satisfied, I don’t see what business it is of yours.” Margaux managed to communicate all her disdain in two sentences.

April’s face was crimson. She could feel the heat of shame emanating from her. She’d let everyone know how she felt about Victor as plain as if she’d announced she was in love with him at the dinner table. It’s not like I’m your girlfriend. And what was even worse was that she was completely in the wrong attempting to sow seeds of doubt. She was not the type of person to try to break people up. She was not “the other woman”. It was not her style. If a man wasn’t free to love her, she had absolutely no interest in him.

So what had happened? How had she gone so wrong?

Victor’s eyes were fixed on hers. He hadn’t answered, but now he looked toward Margaux and the crowd that was gathering behind her. “Hey guys, could you give us a minute? Margaux, I’ll be right there to take you home. I imagine the baby needs you.”

Margaux folded her arms and planted her feet. So Victor took April’s arm and pulled her into the first room he saw. It was the toilet, and they had only enough room to stand face to face. He fumbled for the light, and when it went on, April wouldn’t look at him. He grabbed her by the arms.

“April, I need to say this fast so no one gets the wrong idea about us being in here together.”

They were standing in a tiny cubicle, nose to nose, and his words brought on an insane desire to laugh. She needed to get a hold of her emotions. He’s not available.

“I think one of the biggest regrets of my life,” Victor said, “will end up being that I wasn’t free to follow my feelings in this instance. But I’m not. I’m a father, and that comes first.”

I am a great fool, April thought, and any wisp of humor over the situation fled. To complete her shame, her eyes filled with tears.

“If I could’ve followed my feelings…” He stopped short, looking at her eyes, her lips…They heard only the sound of their breath.

Then Victor dropped his arms, turned in the tight space, and opened the bathroom door. “Margaux and I need to get going. Penelope, do you think one of you could see April home safely?”

“Sure,” Penelope said. She handed the pack of cards to Auriane and slid past Victor to where April was. “You guys go ahead and play.”

Once I began to read I couldn’t put it down until I finished. The characters are well developed and I easily identified with their struggles and triumphs. A wonderful story you will want to read again

A Friend in Paris is rich with everything a romance needs and more – drama, plot twists, characters you’ll fall in love with…and some you’ll love to despise. The setting of Paris and the wonderful descriptions are added bonuses! I devoured this book in two sittings.

Really enjoyed this read! I was completely absorbed into the Paris setting. Felt like I was there! The hero and heroine are interesting, believable, and their chemistry was natural and lifelike. Nothing felt contrived. The supporting characters were intriguing too. Highly recommended.

Author Jennie Goutet

Jennie Goutet is an American-born Anglophile, who lives with her French husband and their three children in a small town outside Paris. Her imagination resides in Regency England, where her upcoming romance, A Regrettable Proposal, is set. Jennie is the author of the sweet, contemporary romances, A Friend in Paris and A Noble Affair, as well as the award-winning memoir, Stars Upside Down. A Christian, a cook, and an inveterate klutz, Jennie writes about faith, food, and life—even the clumsy moments—on her blog, aladyinfrance.com.

Giveaway Details

$25 Amazon Gift Code or $25 in PayPal Cash

Ends 2/4/19

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner may be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, BookBub, Instagram, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. This giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader & Clean Wholesome Romance and is sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Let’s start at the very beginning (#MFRWAuthor)

Published March 23, 2018 by francesothomas

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This week’s blog topic is “My contest experiences-win, lose, get signed.” The only contests I have ever entered were two by Harlequin: So You Think You Can Write.

The first one was several years ago. The theme was medical romances. I was a huge fan of House, MD, and had begun a story featuring a brilliant and prickly doctor. (How original.) As you have not seen this novel in print, you may surmise that Harlequin did not drop everything and sign me up. I did, however, get some helpful advice. Start in media res.

Here’s how Encyclopedia Britannica defines that term

In medias res, (Latin: “in the midst of things”) the practice of beginning an epic or other narrative by plunging into a crucial situation that is part of a related chain of events; the situation is an extension of previous events and will be developed in later action. The narrative then goes directly forward, and exposition of earlier events is supplied by flashbacks.

I had started, as many beginning authors do, with backstory instead of at the moment when my naive but plucky heroine met said doctor. Lesson learned. I redid the opening, but have yet to complete the novel. Maybe someday.

I recently entered a similar contest that called for submission of a first chapter. Harlequin favors exotic locations and careers, so I wrote about the maestro of a fledgling opera company in Salzburg who is accused of harassing a violinist. He is immediately cleared by the company’s new PR director who must then pose as his fiancee to keep other women at bay.

I got positive comments on my pacing and characters, but Harlequin’s editor thought the subject was too touchy in today’s climate.

I’ve decided to write the story anyway, but I’ve relocated it to Florida where I live. I’d love some feedback. Is the topic too sensitive? Would you read this book? Please leave me your comments.

And if you want to find out how my fellow authors fared in contests, go here.

 

The Groom Wore Plaid review

Published February 24, 2016 by francesothomas

The Groom Wore Plaid

Highland Weddings Series

By Gayle Callen

 

The Duffs and the McCallums in Gayle Callen’s The Groom Wore Plaid resemble the Hatfields and the McCoys, only with kilts. The two feuding families can reconcile their differences if a marriage occurs between the son of one family and the daughter of the other. But the bride refuses to go through with the wedding, and to make matters worse, someone is trying to do her harm.

 

 

I felt that the book couldn’t quite decide if it was a mystery or a comedy. The mystery elements moved along  well enough to keep readers turning the pages. The machinations Maggie goes through to turn off her prospective bridegroom, however, are a bit silly. Even the worst seamstress wouldn’t construct a shirt with three sleeves, and what virile Scot would base his attraction on sewing skills or lack thereof anyway?

 

Rafflecopter Giveaway

 

About the Book

Falling in love means tempting fate in this passionate new novel in USA Today bestselling author Gayle Callen’s Highland Wedding series.

Maggie McCallum’s dreams about her new fiancé aren’t the romantic sort. It’s not just that she was bartered to Owen Duff like a piece of property to end a clan feud. She’s also haunted by premonitions of his death on their upcoming wedding day. Yet the exasperating Highlander won’t let her call it off, even though his life and his clan are both in jeopardy.

Owen has wanted Maggie in his bed since he first glimpsed her years ago. If their union restores peace between their clans, so much the better. But while lusting after another chief’s sister had its risks, growing to trust Maggie is far more dangerous. Owen is falling deeply in love with the one woman he cannot hope to claim…and survive.

 Purchase Here:

THE GROOM WORE PLAID

http://www.harpercollins.com/9780062268006/the-groom-wore-plaid

About the Author

After a detour through fitness instructing and computer programming, GAYLE CALLEN found the life she’d always dreamed of as a romance writer. This USA Today bestselling author has written more than twenty historical romances for Avon Books, and her novels have won the Holt Medallion, the Laurel Wreath Award, the Booksellers’ Best Award, and been translated into eleven different languages. The mother of three grown children, an avid crafter, singer, and outdoor enthusiast, Gayle lives in Central New York with her dog Uma and her husband, Jim the Romance Hero. She also writes contemporary romances as Emma Cane.

Visit her website at www.gaylecallen.com.

Twitter – https://twitter.com/GayleCallen

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/GayleCallen

Goodreads – http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/46974.Gayle_Callen

 

The Royal Ascot Contest

Published February 11, 2015 by francesothomas

ascot

While searching for something entirely different, I came across information about an annual contest geared just for Regency authors, called, fittingly enough, The Royal Ascot Contest. The contest opens Feb. 16, and entries are due by March 27, 2015. The winner will be announced at a Soiree in New York City on July 22.

The fees to enter are modest-$25 or $30-and the categories are inclusive-YA, mainstream, even paranormal. The stipulations are they must be unpublished and have at least a partial Regency setting.

According to the sponsoring site, Beau Monde, the contest has been going since 1994. Why didn’t I know this?

Last year’s winner, Cora Lee, is still revising her book, The Only Exception, according to her website. It looks like she’s won several contests, presumably with the same book, yet it hasn’t been published. What’s up with that?

When do you stop revising and let it fly? Personally, I’d be so happy just to finish any of my many WIP that I would rush to get it in print or out as an e-book. Maybe I’m just not picky enough.