The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams, Narrated by Andrew Eiden, Maxwell Caulfield
What do smart guys do when their love lives are on the rocks? They turn to romance novels for advice. When second baseman Gavin Scott of the Nashville Legends discovers his wife has been faking it in the bedroom, he is hurt and angry, his pride destroyed. He behaves badly. When his wife Thea asks for a divorce, he realizes he must do something, anything to get her back.
He is desperate and willing to listen to anyone who has a plan. When his friends show up and take him to a meeting of book club, he is skeptical but with nothing left to lose agrees to read the book to get ideas on how to reach his wife. At first Gavin’s goal is to just stop his wife from divorcing him but it soon becomes more. He realizes he needs to get to know his wife.
This was a fresh idea on relationships and romance. I love how the guys were all willing to help their friend get his wife back, but their plan is forever not just a temporary fix. The friendships of these Alpha males is a wonderful part of the story. They explain the use of the romance novels is to help them better understand their own failings and what their wives and girlfriends need from them. One of my favorite parts of the story is when Gavin starts thinking and arguing as a Regency Count.
Lyssa Kay Adams did an excellent job portraying these characters and using humor to deal with real issues. They were fun but deep. When Thea explains that faking it in the bedroom wasn’t the only place she was faking it, the couple begins to find their way back to each other. Like all happy endings, it didn’t come easy but when they finally reach that moment it’s so satisfying.
The Spinster Who Saved a Scoundrel by Christi Caldwell
Narrated by Tim Campbell
Tim Campbell’s sexy baritone makes listening to The Spinster Who Saved a Scoundrel a sensation for the ear, mind and heart. He brings the story to life and ignites the senses with his sultry voice but it’s the story that makes you believe in the possibilities.
Christi Caldwell has made a career of bringing unique character to life and making her readers fall in love with them. Miss. Francesca Cornworthy has lived a very sheltered life. When her father dies, she is left to fulfill one more wish for him, marry a man who will take care of her.
On her way to a house party to meet her new finance, Francesca becomes abandoned in a snowstorm. She takes shelter on an old estate with the disgruntled occupant.
Mr. Lanthan Holman only wants to regain his honor and prove he isn’t a traitor to the crown. He doesn’t want company and he surly doesn’t want to deal with Miss. Francesca Cornworthy.
The only thing her father wanted was for her to be safe and happy. Falling in love with a traitor is the opposite of what he’d hoped for her, but Francesca has to discover what makes her happy.
While I can’t quite call myself a romance writer, I still believe in happy ever after, or happy for now. Okay, maybe happyish. Since I like to blow things up and kill people off (usually the bad guys), not everyone is going to have their happy ending. Well I’m usually happy about it. I’m having way too much fun thinking of new ways to make trouble.
My mom said recently, “I didn’t know you had such a dark side.” Truth is I’m a nice person, except to my characters and I’m a pretty happy person. I work at being happy. It’s not always easy. Sometimes life really sucks, and it is too easy to get mired down in what is wrong. Over the years I’ve had to give myself pep-talks, allow myself to have a brief pity party and then get on with living. I’ve had to deal with unpleasantness and realize I’m stronger than I ever believed. I’ve had to decide to be happy and sometimes I’ve had to fake it until I felt it. That’s not saying I don’t have my blue days, my crying jags, my broken-hearted moments, I just choose not to live there and some days, like battling the characters in my stories, it’s a real fight to find my happy. But having a job where you can kill off the bad guys, blow things up and not have to worry about getting your hands dirty is pretty therapeutic.
Mom also mentioned she wished I’d write some “nice” stories. Don’t get me wrong, my mom has become one of my biggest fans, she often proof-reads my stories before I publish them. She has a great eye but she’s at an age where she likes up-lifting stories of hope and faith. I get that but that’s not where I am in my own journey. I think for me, writing the Leeward Files has allowed me to get out some of the darkness that has touched my life either in reality or through contact with others. To keep all of that hate and anger bottled up can destroy a person, like my character Phil. He is so twisted by what was done to him that even though he is trying to do what is right, he goes about it in very wrong ways. It’s not that Phil doesn’t know right from wrong, he just doesn’t see why it should matter if the results are good.
The Leeward Files has become a labor of love. Most of you who have read the series know it is loosely based on my hometown of Aurora, North Carolina. My town is dying. I love this town and would love to see it revitalized. There is so much potential here. When I look at this town, I see what it could be. I see Leeward without all the murders and sex trafficking. We really don’t need all of that here. The town is surrounded by water, the Pamlico Sound, the Pamlico River and South Creek border the peninsula. Farmland and forest still dot the landscape. The community, while not perfect, is like a big extended family. When we lost our home to fire people came together to help us, people we didn’t even know. When the backside of town flooded during Irene, people worked together to rebuild. Every day I am inspired by the people and beauty of this place, yet down town is dying. We have no grocery store. Windows are being smashed out. People are leaving. Houses are sitting vacant. Burned out homes are being allowed to sit as eyesores because no one can afford to have them torn down. When I imagine what I’d do if I won the lottery or managed to snag a movie deal, I’d have to fix up this town I love. I’d love to bring back some of the beauty and charm and make it a place people would want to come to. Anybody got a winning lottery ticket I could borrow? How about a movie deal, I’ve got some great books that would make awesome movies, and I know a town where we could film it! I’m just saying, I know a guy…
In my series, The Leeward Files, Evergreen Crystals was to be my happy ever after story for my previous heroines: Rae Lynne from Chrome Pink, Dana from White Gold and Jenna from Titanium Blue. The three best friends have found the loves of their lives and plan to settle down. Jenna and Tar plan to stop their divorce and try to be a family again. Rae and Logan are expecting a baby and she has agreed to marry him even though she terrified she might ruin his life. Jake is feeling the pressure to propose to Dana with both of her best friends getting married but is that the right course for them? Not everyone has to get married and have babies to have a happy ever after. I really thought Evergreen Crystals was going to be my sweet romance story. It is romantic, it’s sexy but I couldn’t resist killing somebody and causing trouble and well, it still has a happy ending. Don’t worry, be happy. Now as for the next books…he, hee, heee, I did tell you I’m having too much fun blowing things up. Well, let’s just say, the next three books are giving me a lot of therapy.
So, if anyone goes missing or if there is a mysterious fire, it wasn’t me. I prefer to do my crimes on paper, it’s less messy that way. If you like suspense thrillers with strong romantic elements set in a small southern town, check out my Leeward Files Series and thanks for stopping by.
In my Leeward Files novels, I have truly horrendous
monsters: murderers, pedophiles, rapists, sex and drug traffickers, and extreme
racists, but not all bad guys are truly monstrous. Sometimes, a good guy can be
pushed into doing bad things, other times, a good person will do bad in the
hope of something good coming from it. The old adage, “The end justifies the
means.” In fiction, as in real life, we know that someone committing a crime,
even for the “right” reason, is still guilty. Murdering the men who raped your
daughter or wife might be justified but it’s still against the law.
What would cause you to commit murder? We are often quick to
say I would kill for this or I would never kill for any reason, but I don’t
believe we truly know what we are capable of until we are faced with it.
As I am finishing up the Leeward Files series and moving
into the next series, The Heroes of Leeward, I am delving into why Todd, Devin
and Phil were so evil. It has been documented that too often, children of abuse
become abusers. These men were emotionally tortured and sexually molested as
children. Todd went from a sadistic little boy to a serial rapist and murderer.
Devin is more of a manipulator. He preys on those he sees as weaker but runs
from confrontation. Phil believes he is a hero and wants to rid the world of
the monsters, but he doesn’t have the honor and guidance to aid him. He
believes the ends justifies the means, and it is more important to stop the bad
guys that preserve the good.
Not all criminals are monsters, some are coerced into a life
of crime, like Dana’s cousin in White Gold. Family is everything but
what if you come from a family of monsters, does that make you a monster too? After
his father dies, Robbie JR is raised by his angry, racist grandfather who
blames him,( sins of the fathers and so on), for the disappearance of his
rebellious daughter and her biracial daughter. The grandfather feels it is his
duty to rid the world of the abomination who shares blood with him. His sadism
and anger drive him to attempt murder.
In the real world we see crimes committed in the name of
religion and morality. People too often hate and fear what they do not know,
they lash out and try to conform it, or erase it. Centuries of wars fought in
the name of religion or country has seen whole tribes wiped out. We may have
evolved in some aspects but we have devolved in others. People still hate, are
still consumed by vice and greed, no matter how much we preach love and
compassion, there will always be those who refuse to live in peace. But
thankfully there are those who overcome prejudices, fight the battle for
equality, heroes who keep the world safe, and give us hope for the future. I
believe in hope and happy endings. Wishing you all your own happy ever after.
I have been a fan of the Christmas Revels anthologies since the first one. As a fan of Hannah Meredith’s historical romances, I greedily bought the first book. Shortly afterwards, I discovered Kate Parker’s Victorian Book Sellers’ series. I have become a fan of these writers and especially look forward to their Christmas stories.
Each year I have bought the Revels. This year I was given an ARC for an honest review. That is not difficult to do as I have truly enjoyed seeing what these awesome writers were going to put together. One or two stories would usually stand out as my favorites, but with each new anthology it has become increasingly more difficult to choose which ones gain that title.
In Anna D. Allen’s Mr. Hunt’s Christmas Caller, we have a very unlikely hero. I loved this story because the hero and heroine were not perfect. Mattias Hunt is not the most handsome, nor the strongest personality. He is somewhat blind to the great lady, Constance Blackwell, who has always been kind to him. When terrible weather brings them together it seems they cannot get a break. Fate continues to pull them apart if Mr. Hunt allows it. In order to find love and to be loved, one must be strong enough to fight for it.
The Christmas Gamble by Kate Parker has a bit of mystery to it, no surprise there, Kate loves a great mystery and writes them too. Lizzie Hancock is full of hope as she and her guardian travel to meet her betrothed, the Earl of Stonebrook during the Christmas season. Her future home is beautiful but something isn’t quite right and this time, it isn’t her guardian’s gambling debts. From the curious staff who can’t tell her exactly when her fiancé will be returning, to his leaving so close to her arrival, followed by the surprise return of her intended’s brother, Gabriel Waters. Unraveling this Christmas mystery and staying a few steps ahead of the drunkard, Lord Grambling, Lizzie and Gabriel must depend upon their friends to find their happy ending.
Hannah Meredith’s The Gnome and the Christmas Star is a joyful story of second chances. The Dowager Viscountess Lyndon, Sophia never expected to be caught up in her own machinations. The plan to give her youngest stepson something to do with his life after losing his arm in the war, wasn’t supposed to include her. Second chances are only offered for a limited time, and one must be brave if they are going to accept them. As Sophia learns to live and love, she teaches others that they too can have their happy ending, if only they believe.
The final story, A Perfectly Ridiculous Christmas by Louisa Cornell is a bit of a Christmas farce as three good friends seek to find a wealthy bride for their widowed friend. Life rarely happens according to one’s plans, especially if one adds in three precocious little girls and a menagerie of angry kitties, a lie that keeps growing and an attraction that won’t go away. Valerian, Viscount Keynsham has been managing his friends for years but he is about to meet his match in Lady Catherine Chastleton. This is a story of love and friendship that extends to all of the characters. It is love that begins the crazy farce and love that brings about their happy ending.
If you love regency romances and Christmas, check out Christmas Revels V, and if you haven’t read their other anthologies, I can recommend them as well.
Easter, for the Christian is a time for renewal, rebirth, and rejoicing. It is a time we celebrate Christ’s triumph over the grave. It is a time of HOPE. Like spring, there is the hope of renewal: renewing the heart of a sinner, renewing the spirit of the downtrodden, renewing the faith of a weakened spirit, and renewing our faith and belief in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Easter, even more than Christmas, is the time for Christians to rejoice for this is the foundation of our religion. Christ arose. It’s simple. Because Jesus lives so can we.
My stories may not appear religious. They are filled with sex and violence and darkness, but there is also love and hope. Without hope we have nothing. For the Christian, that hope is centered around our faith that Jesus died and is risen. For genre fiction, we have hope in the romance that the heroes and heroines will live happily ever after. In mysteries, thrillers and suspense we hope the good guys will win and the bad guys will get justice.
I’m not going to stretch the truth and say “Chrome Pink” is in any way Christian fiction but my own beliefs and moral code are evident in Rae Lynne’s struggles. I believe we are all searching for something. Whether it is love or justice or faith, that journey of discovery is an important part of being human. I am a believer in happy endings and I’m confident that everyone can find happiness. Sometimes it is making the choice to be happy.
As the flowers burst into bloom and the days begin to warm, a romance writers’ mind goes to love and marriage and happily ever after. Life isn’t fiction and after nearly twenty-seven years of marriage, I know, every day isn’t happy. I believe we have to make the choice to be happy. “God won’t give us more than we can bear.” I have struggled with this my whole life, faith versus the world’s oppression and darkness. My life hasn’t been a story book with perfect people living charming lives. No, I’ve lost loved ones, seen cruelties first hand, and struggle still with guilt and anger over things I wish I could change. I’ve lost a home to fire, had a miscarriage and lost a sister to birth defects. And I still believe we have to make the choice to be happy. It’s not easy to find the silver lining or hold your head up when you feel like weeping. Our Preacher mentioned this passage from Romans and I thought is summarizes all I wish to say. Romans 5:3-5 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, …
Hope, is what keeps us believing in happy endings, the future and faith. For me, being a writer is tied up in my faith that good will triumph over bad.
Happy Easter, may you all find your spirits renewed and filled with hope.
I don’t remember when I read my first Cajun Novel by Sandra Hill. I’ve read several books from her other series but my favorites are her Cajun stories.
I met Ms. Hill at a Romantic Times Convention many years ago. This quiet, gentle lady was on a panel with a pair of boisterous comedic authors. I remember feeling sorry for her because she couldn’t compete with their antics. She waited patiently for them to run out of steam and then proceeded to entertain us with her own, sweet, humble humor. I have never forgotten how this beautiful, reserved lady handled herself during that discussion. Afterwards, I got the chance to speak with Ms. Hill. She was a gracious and intelligent person with a fabulous sense of humor. I have been a fan ever since.
Tante Lulu, the matriarch of the Le Deux clan, is half voodoo queen and half sweet, Catholic great aunt. It doesn’t matter if Lulu is kin to you are not. If she decides you are family, then you’re subject to her machinations. Love potions, lightning bolts and Saint Jude are forces that can’t be beat.
Simone Le Deux, a former Chicago cop, knows her weakness is Cajun men. When she comes home to Louisiana to care for her mother, she has to battle her mother’s religious prejudices and her attraction for inappropriate Cajun men.
Adam Lanier, law partner with Simone’s half-brother, Luc, isn’t interested in anything serious. Once burned, Adam has given up on relationships and is definitely not interested in marriage.
When Tante Lulu, Adam’s father and his daughter, Maisie join forces, he and Simone are out gunned. Desire and lust are held at bay, and soon gives way to friendship and respect.
Sandra Hill weaves the hilarious with the dramatic, taking her readers on a romping good ride through the bayou, from catfish noodling to getting proof of a cheating husband’s perversions. Simone and her partner, Helene of Legal Belles, are more than investigators, they are empowering women to take charge of their lives. The anxiety of Simone’s job and its conflict with Adam’s, adds to the trouble but when Tante Lulu and Saint Jude are on the job, there’s bound to be a happy ending.
Have you ever met someone who just talking to them leaves you feeling so good that no matter what trials you might going through at the time their presence makes it all seem better? Their joy is so infectious, you walk away lighter, as if your burden has been lifted and everything is right in the world. Even if it is only temporary, the relief is so pleasant that whenever you see that person you automatically feel the burdens lifting. People like this are few and far between, too often we are influenced by that person who couldn’t be happy as a taste taster in a chocolate factory. They make you tired as soon as you see them coming. Their dark cloud lingers long after they’re gone.
While most of us are neither the drunk on life dancing poodle or the “Oh my God it’s morning” Grumpy Cat, we fall into the trench of the normal. Walking through life as members of the medium without the high highs or the low lows. As writers this can be deadly, we should choose to be more than average. Normal is so overrated.
Who wants to go through life in the middle of the road? We shouldn’t be afraid of choosing a destination and taking the dark and scary path to get there. As a fiction writer I want to deal with real issues. I want my characters to look like the people in my world, a rainbow of colors, religions and social preferences. I believe I can temper the harsh realities of this world with humor and romance.
Sometimes it’s a fine line to walk finding that balance between enlightenment and preaching. If you try to beat me in the head with some new thought or idea I will most likely dig in and defy your well-meaning argument but if you show me this in action with interesting and sympathetic characters, then I hear the message on a different level. I feel the message. When I write, I want readers to get inside the head of my characters and feel what they feel. Know what it’s like to suffer PTSD or insecurities. I want to reach out and touch the person reading my books and show them a different way of looking at life. I want them to feel the pain, ache with the loss and loneliness and fall in love and have hope. Above all else I want to leave them with a feeling of hope and happiness.
I believe it is important to leave people with a good feeling whether it is in our personal life or in our writing. Just as rare as those feel-good people are those authors that really get what it means to write books that leave you feeling renewed. There are authors I read simply because their books are like a cool balm to my soul. I’ve spoken of this before how after my home burned down my husband took me to Books-A-Million for a new book. We’d lost everything but he knew how important books were for me. After the trauma and tragedy of losing our home and everything we owned, I didn’t need a heavy book that would leave me depressed. The book I chose was The Truth About Lord Stoneville by Sabrina Jeffries.
Sabrina Jeffries is one of those writers who understand the importance of balancing the austerity of the real world with the hope that love can make everything better. Ms. Jeffries leaves her readers feeling happy and believing in possibilities. Meeting Ms. Jeffries in person, her natural personality shines through in her writing. She loves books, writing and people and her grasp of character and storytelling is inspiring. She doesn’t shy away from the tough subjects but setting her stories in the Regency allows for a different spin on these subjects and the characters’ reactions.
For a contemporary author who grasps the importance of the happy ending even while dealing with subjects as real as abuse, PTSD and body image, Virginia Kantra weaves a beautiful balance of hope and reality to encourage readers of the possibility for their own happy endings.
To get the happy ending in any time period: past, present and future I turn to one of my favorite red heads, Ms. Jayne Ann Krentz aka Amanda Quick or Jayne Castle. Her tough feminine characters inspire readers to be strong and courageous even when life is difficult.
Life isn’t easy. Every day we face trauma and tragedy, violence and illness, life and death, and our fiction should encompass these realities. The idea of fiction is ultimately to entertain. We can implement change with our stories, showing people who are strong and capable who face the hopeless and find strength and determination to make a difference. I believe in happy endings and I want a story to give hope and leave me with a warm fuzzy feeling.
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