Posted in Thoughts

The Writingest State, North Carolina & Harlequin

North Carolina is known as the writingest state. There are a large number of authors from the mountains to the sea. As the chairperson for the Pamlico Writers’ Group and a member of the Heart of Carolina the local Romance Writers of America, I have met some fantastic writers from self-published authors, those published with small or independent publishing houses and traditionally published authors.

A former resident of eastern NC.

I was surprised by how many Harlequin authors live and work in North Carolina. One, who I met at a HCRW conference just before she published her first book, Jo McNally has recently returned to her home state of New York. Her Harlequin Super Romance books are set in upstate New York and have a hometown feel that reminds me of North Carolina. Jo may have been influenced by her years living in eastern North Carolina.

Jo’s first book!
A midwest girl trapped in the south.

  At another HCRW conference, I met Karen Booth known for her millionaire romances which she writes for Harlequin Desire. Karen is a Midwesterner transplanted to North Carolina. She loves big cities, strong women and breathless kisses intertwined with a bit of family drama.

One of my favorite writers and people!

Reese Ryan is another author for Harlequin Desire. While she too is a transplant to North Carolina, this Chicago lady has embraced her southern home with several of her books. Her Pleasure Cove series is set on the Outer Banks of North Carolina and several of her other books mention North Carolina. Reese Ryan is known for her strong, dynamic characters. She gave a presentation for the Pamlico Writers’ Group on characters that was one of the best I’ve attended.

My most recent favorite book of Reese’s

Do you read North Carolina authors? Do you like to read about places you are familiar with? I plan to search for more North Carolina authors and share with you a few of fantastic stories I find. If you have a few favorites, feel free to share your North Carolina authors with me.  

Posted in Creekside Cafe, interview

Creekside Cafe Chat with Reese Ryan

Reese and I met when she was president of the Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, her open, engaging smile and outgoing personality made her an excellent and inclusive president, welcoming all who attended. I am so excited to welcome Reese Ryan to Creekside Café.

Reese: Thank you for this opportunity.

Sherri: I’ve been wanting to ask you back to the area since the workshop you gave the Pamlico Writers’ Group. It’s too bad this is only a virtual café. Shall we have a bourbon drink in honor of your Bourbon Brothers Series?

Reese: I’ll just order a Caramel Macchiato hot–even in the height of summer.

Sherri: I drink hot coffee any time of the year so I’m right there with you.

You’re not native to North Carolina, are you?

 Reese: I’m originally from Cleveland, Ohio, where I spent the majority of my life. I’ve been living in Central North Carolina for the past ten years.

Sherri: What do you think about Eastern North Carolina? My virtual café exists in my dreams on the banks of the Pamlico River.

Reese: I’ve had a chance to spend time in New Bern, Duck, Jacksonville, and Little Washington. We adored our trips to each of these little towns. We can’t wait to return for our next Eastern North Carolina adventure.

Reese at the Turnage Theatre in Washington, NC with Pamlico Writers’ Group members.
Reese and I from the Pamlico Writers’ Workshop

Sherri: If you get down my way, give me a holler and I’ll show you around. I believe I owe you a dinner.

Do you write full time now, or do you hold down another job as well as write? When did you start writing full time?

Reese: I have been writing full-time for at least the past two years. Before that, my day job was writing marketing copy for small businesses.

Sherri: I work at our local ABC store, for those of you not from North Carolina that’s a liquor store owned by the county and regulated by the state. People are always asking if my job ever influences my writing. Has your career influenced your writing?

Reese: I spent several years working in the non-profit sector. This manifests itself in my writing because many of my characters either work in the non-profit sector or they are passionate about philanthropic endeavors. My time as a copywriter is likely the reason so many of my heroines work in PR or marketing.

Sherri: How long have you been a writer/published author? First discovered your love of writing?

Reese: I first discovered my love of writing when I was in middle school. I started writing stories and submitted my first short story to a magazine when I was about seventeen. I stopped writing altogether until I was in my mid-thirties. I’ve been a published author for six years. My first book was published in July 2013.

Sherri: Well, you know I’m a huge fan but tell our readers what genre of books your write. 

Reese: I write steamy contemporary romance with a diverse cast of characters.

Sherri: It’s your awesome characters that keep me coming back for more. I just love the way you people your stories. Everyone feels real. Your characters are multidimensional, generational and cultural. In your recent Cattleman Club Book, “His Until Midnight,” you have an older couple in the background with a bit of history. They are so well written I want to know their story. I want them to have their HEA.

Do you plan to write any other genres in the future?

Reese: I have plans for future romantic thriller and historical romance series.

Sherri: Historical romance is my first love, I love Beverly Jenkins’ Old West Series. I’ve started reading her Women Who Dare series and I want to read more about the LeVeq family.

Amanda Quick aka Jayne Ann Krentz is the author who inspired me to move to contemporary books both reading and writing.

I’d be happy to be a Beta reader if you need one.

Tell us, what is your latest writing or publishing project?

Reese: I just signed a three-book deal with Grand Central Forever to write a diverse, small-town series set in the Outer Banks. Starting Over, the first book in my new Holly Grove Island series, is scheduled for a November 2020 release.

Sherri: Oh wow, you know I loved your Pleasure Cove series. Will this have more of a small-town feel?

Reese: Yes. My Pleasure Cove and Bourbon Brothers series are contemporary romance series that happen to be set in small towns. But the Holly Grove Island series will be a bona fide small-town series.

Sherri: What are some of the things you love about writing?

Reese: I love writing strong entrepreneurial or career-minded women and heroes that while strong, also display some type of vulnerability.

Sherri: And you do it so well.

What do you barely tolerate about writing?

Reese: For me, the hardest thing is always getting through that first rough draft. Revisions, I love. For me, that’s where the real magic of storytelling happens. I can fix anything, but a blank page just taunts me.

Sherri: I’m a bit of a foodie. With six sons and my herd of grandchildren food plays a big part in everything we do. I often post recipes on my website. Do you have a favorite food/recipe?

Reese: It should come as a surprise to no one who has read my books that I enjoy food. LOL. My characters like to eat and often cook together or for one another. My favorite comfort food is chicken and dumplings. My favorite dessert is peach cobbler, which I make for most family functions.

Peach Cobbler Recipe

1 pkg of Pillsbury or other refrigerated pie crust (taste matters, so get a good one)

2 bags of frozen peach slices (about three pounds)

¼ cup lemon juice

¾ cup orange juice

½ cup butter

2 cups white sugar (modify this to your taste)

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon white sugar

1 tablespoon butter, melted

  1. Preheat over to 350 degrees. Roll out one sheet of dough thin enough to cover the bottom and partial sides of a 9 x 13 baking dish. Bake until golden brown, approximately 20 minutes.
  2. While the bottom of the crust is baking, combine the frozen peaches (fresh or canned can also work), lemon juice, and orange juice in a large sauce pan. Add the ½ cup of butter and heat until the butter melts. In a separate mixing bowl, combine the 2 cups of sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cornstarch. Mix dry ingredients well, then add it to the peach mixture. Remove the peach mixture from heat and pour it into the baking dish on top of the pie crust.
  3. Take the second pie crust sheet, roll it out a little thicker than you rolled the bottom crust. Cut strips approximately ½ inch wide. Use strips to create a lattice crust over the peach mixture. 
  4. Sprinkle the lattice crust with the tablespoon of sugar, then drizzle the tablespoon of melted butter over it.
  5. Bake cobbler in 350 degree, preheated over for 35 to 40 minutes. The top crust should be a nice, golden brown.
Delicious homemade peach cobbler with vanilla ice cream.

Sherri: I know how difficult being a full-time writer can be so in all your free time, do you have any hobbies or interests and do any of these show up in your writing?

Reese: I’m forever looking for a new outlet for my creativity. I have tons of knitting and jewelry making supplies, though I do very little of either. LOL. My fascination with jewelry making (my mother and I can watch YouTube videos on the topic for hours) showed up in Book #3 of my Bourbon Brothers series. The heroine owns a handmade jewelry and consignment shop.

Sherri: I think the Bourbon Brothers series is my favorite but then I do enjoy a good bourbon.

What are your writing strengths and weaknesses? As one of your readers, you make it all look so easy but as a writer-friend, I know we all have our struggles. What comes easy for you and what do you have to work harder to get?

Reese: The thing that seems to come easiest is the dialogue between the characters. Sometimes it almost feels as if I’m just typing out what the characters are already saying to me. I struggle with poetic descriptions. Mainly because as a reader, that’s not what I want to wade through. I just want to know what happens next.

Sherri: I think you hit it on the head, writing the way we want to read is important. If we don’t want to wade through beautifully crafted, poetic descriptions, other readers probably won’t either. A writer friend told me you cannot be an effective writer if you are not an avid reader.  

Who are your favorite authors/genres?

Reese: Though I watch mostly murder mysteries at home. (The Murdoch Mysteries is my current obsession, and I eagerly await the Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries movie.) However, I primarily read contemporary romance. There are too many incredible authors out there for me to pick one or two as my faves. But some of the authors I enjoy reading include: Elle Wright, Sheryl Lister, Karen Booth, Jules Bennett, Delaney Diamond, Naima Simone, Michelle Styles, Beverly Jenkins, Rochelle Alers, Kathy Douglass, Cheris Hodges and many, many more.

Sherri: You turned me onto several wonderful writers: Nana Malone, Delaney Diamond and Karen Booth, I can’t wait to check out some of these other authors.

Thank you so much for joining us at Creekside Café, Reese, you truly are one of my favorite people and I can’t wait to read Off Limit Lovers, your newest in the Texas Cattleman Club series.  

Reese Ryan writes sexy, emotional romance with captivating family drama, surprising secrets, and a posse of complex characters. Past president of the Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, a panelist at the 2017 Los Angeles Times Festival of Books and recipient of the 2018 Donna Hill Breakout Author Award, Reese is an advocate for the romance genre and diversity in fiction.

A Midwesterner with deep Southern roots, Reese currently resides in semi-small-town North Carolina where she’s an avid reader, a music junkie, and a self-declared connoisseur of cheesy grits.

Follow Reese on Social Media:







Posted in Book Review

Not Just Another Billionaire Story…The Billionaire’s Legacy

The cover of Reese Ryan's book just makes your heart melt. I'm half in love before I open the book.
Okay, Iconfess, I don’t care for billionaire stories. I’m not into rich jerks whothink they can use their wealth to get whatever they want. That’s not what The Billionaire’s Legacy is. BenjiBennett is the boy next door who made good. He is a kind, loving person whojust has grown up to be one hot, sexy man with the Midas touch. I bought The Billionaire’s Legacy because I fellin love with the Bourbon Brothers series. As the manager of an alcoholicbeverage store, the Bourbon Brothers series sounded fun. Reading the excerptfor The Billionaire’s Legacy hookedme on Benji and Sloan’s story. Sloan is thetough girl from the wrong side of town. In Magnolia Lake, everyone thinks theyknow your business, and Sloan couldn’t get away fast enough. When she and Benjimeet again, sparks fly. A one night stand turns into twins. Reese Ryanhas a way with characters. She has managed to create a hot, sexy hero who isboth sweet and kind but slightly flawed. She coupled him with an amazingly sexywoman who is both strong and vulnerable. While Sloan might be able to conquerthe world, being pregnant with twins has derailed her plans and brought her tothe place where she needs to rely on someone else. BenjaminBennett has had a crush on Sloan Sutton for most of his life. Can he convinceher that it’s more than a boyhood crush? Can their different plans and goalsfor the future blend together for a happy ending or are they destined to wonderwhat could have been? This is notjust another billionaire love story, this is real and you know these people.Welcome to Magnolia Lake, you won’t want to leave.
Posted in Book Review

Savannah’s Secrets by Reese Ryan


Soul Wrenching and Scorching Scenes

BySherri Lupton Hollisteron March 1, 2018


Savannah’s Secrets by Reese Ryan, The Bourbon Brothers

I loved Reese Ryan’s Pleasure Cove Series. I loved the location, Pleasure Cove is set in part on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and the characters, a host of personalities that filled the pages and made me feel as if they were old friends.

But I believe The Bourbon Brothers are going to be my favorite series. The family dynamics of the Abbotts, the Tennessee hills and the small town feel of Magnolia Lake add something to the stories I can’t quiet name. Perhaps it’s the feeling of belonging or coming home.

Like all of her books, Reese Ryan weaves setting, characters and story into a lovely tapestry that leaves the reader longing to be a part of it.

Intrigue, family drama and a forbidden love amid the beauty of the Tennessee mountains and the big, bourbon empire are a recipe for a great story.

Blake and Savannah would do anything for their families, even risk losing each other. A lie and a half-truth threatens their newly discovered love and leaves them shattered. Can they ever learn to trust each other again? This is a passionate romance that will leave you reaching for the bourbon bottle or the handsome fella beside you. I read the last half of the book with tears in my eyes. From burning down the house hot, steamy sex to the deep, soul wrenching emotions, this book delivers it all and promises to bring it back over and over again as each member of the Abbott family finds their own happy ending.

Posted in Book Review, event

Never Christmas Without You

Never Christmas Without You a two-novella Christmas anthology from Nana Malone and Reese Ryan is a must read for anyone who loves contemporary romance with fabulous characters. I love holiday romances but these two stories brought the magic of Christmas and the love of family and friends deep into my heart.
I have a confession to make. I hadn’t planned to read Nana Malone’s story. I’ve never read her books before and I’m so busy right now but I thought I should read her story, Just for the Holidays so I could review Reese’s story since they are together in this anthology. I mean, really, a review of half the book seemed wrong. So…
I read the first few pages and fell in love with Grandma Lucy. I know she is a California woman but she could be a southern grandma. She’s the grandmother I want to be. She is a take charge and tell it like it is character and while she is secondary to the story, she is the main reason I read the whole story! I love to read and as a writer, I look at story and form and character development. Sometimes, being a writer can ruin the reading experience. When I fall in love with the characters and the story is so good I forget how it’s made, that is a great story and that is what these two authors did for me. Their stories gave me so much joy I forgot about tense, point of view, and all of the things I’ve been taught. I simply fell into the story and experienced being with best friends Alex and Justin as they discover what has been right beside them all along. Nana Malone wove together a story that had me feeling the characters’ passion, pain and confusion. I rooted for them and commiserated with them. I laughed at Grandma Lucy’s manipulation and the attitude of strong women who aren’t afraid to make things happen.
Nana Malone has a new fan and I will definitely be looking for more of her books.

Reese Ryan will be hosting a two-part workshop for the Pamlico Writers’ Group Saturday, October 14th, 2017 in Washington, North Carolina, “Building Believable Characters” and “Creating Functional, Yet Compelling, Secondary Characters.” His Holiday Gift is proof that Reese knows what she is talking about. I’d only read a few pages when I had to email Ms. Ryan and curse her for making me cry.
I want a little girl like Maddie. The texture and depth Reese was able to bring to this short story is amazing. The characters are so real. I cried for Maddie meeting her father for the first time. I felt the love, pain and longing of Dash and Mikayla who were once friends. Their estrangement, part of the reason Maddie and Dash never met before.
I love second chance stories and stories of children bringing lovers together. Reese Ryan wove together ideas into a fabulous holiday love story.
Dash is the bad boy, prodigal returned to his small town with the weight of all the mistakes he’s ever made heavy on his shoulders. Having his best friend back at his side is encouraging and confusing. For Mikayla, her unrequited love for Dash simmers just below the surface. Can she trust him with her heart after all that has happened between them? This time, it’s not just her heart he might break.
Ms. Anna, Dash’s mother, is another well thought out secondary character she adds another dimension to the story making it feel like a real world.
Even Reese’s walk-on characters are complete people, their stories revealed with only a few lines. The rich tapestry of this story is what romance is all about. Reese Ryan has created a world I want to dive into. Her characters are friends and family I could have at my dinner table and enjoy knowing. Her Pleasure Cove series is one I’ve enjoyed experiencing. It’s not just a story, it’s a vacation.