Monthly Archives: January 2015

Jennifer Reviews: Seven For A Secret by Rumer Haven (@RumerHaven)

SFAS

The Synopsis:

It’s the year 2000, and twenty-four-year-old Kate moves into a new apartment to find a new state of independence in a new millennium. Almost immediately, she starts crushing on a hot guy who lives in her building. Deciding to take a break from her boyfriend Dexter, Kate believes the only thing now separating her from the fresh object of her sexual fantasies is the thin wall between their neighboring apartments.

A former 1920s hotel, Camden Court has housed many lonely lives over the decades—and is where a number of them have come to die. They’re not all resting in peace, however, including ninety-year-old Olive, who dropped dead in Kate’s apartment and continues to make her presence known.

For Olive has a secret she’s dying to tell. One linking her to the sex, scandal, and sacrifice of a young dreamer named Lon. As the past haunts the present, Kate’s romantic notion that the thrill-of-the-chase beats the reality-after-the-catch unexpectedly entwines her modern-day love life with Lon’s Jazz Age tragedy.

With a little supernatural and a lotta’ razzle-dazzle, Seven for a Secret is where historical fiction meets contemporary rom-com—from the Roaring Twenties when the “New Woman” was born, to the modern Noughties when she really came of age.

My Review:

Truthfully speaking, Seven For A Secret is not just one love story, but two. Although both are told simultaneously and are set in the same city of Chicago, they take place 75 years apart from one another.  One story takes place during the Roaring 20’s and is centered around Lon and Eva. Lon is a man who is attempting to discover his own place in the world, away from the societal expectations of his upbringing.

“Staring down at the floor as he strode deeper down the corridor, Lon lost his focus in observation of the intricate design, step after colorfully tiled step – until his wingtips stubbed against a marble lip rising about an inch from the floor. He looked up to meet the life-sized stone likeness of a courtier wooing a fair maiden above a fountain. The couple was white as purity and forever frozen mere inches from embrace.

“The thrill of the chase,” Lon murmured. “The only thrill there is.”

Lon isn’t looking for love, but finds it anyhow when he attends a party and meets Eva, a young and intelligent woman who immediately captures his eye.

“There was no doubt about it: she was exquisite. Lon knew this not to be a matter of his opinion, but a fact.This beauty had nothing to do with which eye beheld it. It was there, filling all eyes in the same way, no more, no less. She is for everyone.”

In stark contrast is the story of Kate and Dexter, set in the year 2000.  By all accounts, Kate has found a good man in her work colleague, Dexter. But as their relationship deepens and the pressure mounts for Kate to make a long-term commitment she becomes insistent on setting boundaries by moving out of his condo and into her own studio apartment.

“The music next door had stopped, perhaps already had some time ago while she and Dex had been…what? Making love? Just passing the time? What was it that she’d really wanted when she’d walked out of that Lake Shore condo? Suddenly, she couldn’t breathe as the responsibility for Dexter’s heart crushed down on her own. Absence was only making things foggier so far.”

Kate’s desire to establish some personal distance from Dexter provides some potential complication when she notices a good looking stranger in her new building  – a man she soon begins to speculate is her next door neighbor.

“Suddenly shy and anxious about what might happen next, she turned to press her palm against the wall behind her. It felt warm, a soothing contrast to her room that had just turned so cold. She imagined Hot Neighbor sitting there with his hand against the wall, too, directly opposite her. What if he’d noticed her before and wanted to get her attention? Maybe seen her around sometime, even if just out his window, and then followed the sound of her footsteps and door slams to trace her to this unit? Kind of stalkerish, but awfully flattering, Kate thought. After all, she was doing the same thing with him.”

The historical love story is dramatic and dark, while the modern contemporary tale is lighter and humorous. At first glance it might be tempting to think there is too much story within one novel, but Rumer Haven balances it all so well.  Both love stories are compelling, intelligent and heart-warming.  Haven’s narrative is both poetic and endearing and I quickly found myself admiring the effort and devotion that went into writing this story.  There were moments in Seven For A Secret when I laughed out loud, shed a few tears and held my breath while I read.

This novel hit all the right spots emotionally for me, and I highly recommend it. Typically, I’m stingy in doling out 5 star ratings. I only do when I know that a book has made a lasting impression on me and when I know that others will feel the same way once they’ve given the story their time and attention.

Seven For A Secret receives an enthusiastic 5 star rating from me!

I’m eagerly looking forward to seeing what Rumer Haven produces next, which incidentally won’t be long from now. Her next release, Four Somethings and a Sixpence, is coming up on February 3!

You can purchase the ebook or the paperback of Seven For A Secret here:

You can also find Rumer Haven on social media:

Website  Goodreads  Facebook Twitter

Excerpt from “Something Wicked” by Carol Oates (@CarolOates) – Plus Giveaway!

Today, we’re both excited to share an excerpt from “Something Wicked” by fellow Omnific Publishing author, Carol Oates. In appreciation and celebration of her new release, Carol is also offering a giveaway for a $50 Amazon gift card! Best of luck and enjoy this awesome peek of “Something Wicked”…

SOMETHING WICKED
by Carol Oates
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Buy from Amazon | B&N
Infected by the vampire virus on the streets of Dublin in 1886, the search for a cure brought Henry Clayton to London and to the brink of madness. Salvation and friendship arrived in the form of Dougal, an immortal Highlander with a devilish sense of humor and a love of life.
Amidst turmoil in vampire society, Henry returns to modern day Dublin. The Circle, a cult determined to awaken their Celtic blood god, the first vampire, is once again active.
When Henry meets a young American woman who sees past his human pretense, he fears exposure. However, his fear is overshadowed by curiosity. What is the source of the strange energy between them? Why are vampires stalking her? Determined to find answers, Henry takes Ari into his home and under his protection.
As their connection grows, Henry begins to suspect Ari isn’t what she claims to be. Their shared history may hold the answers to his uncontrollable bouts of rage and thirst. Perhaps, even a cure for his wicked blood.
19th century
“It’s not very inventive.” The Scot caught up to me.
“I beg your pardon.”
“No need for begging, brother, I give it freely.” He chuckled at his own ridiculous joke. “The name, The Leather Apron” He rolled his eyes and waved his fingers by his head in a gesture I felt sure meant to insinuate fright, but came nearer to emulating a fit of some sort. “Well, aprons don’t exactly instill terror, eh?” 
I noticed the intensity of his accent fluctuated, indicating he had probably travelled extensively outside his homeland. 
“How about The Ripper—‘Jack the Ripper’?”
I spared him a sidelong glance in question and he scratched his temple. 
“I knew a man named Jamie once, well hardly more than a boy really, but a big bugger. Legs as thick as tree trunks and a face that looked like his mother dropped him a few times. Anyway, when he swung a sword, sure it’d nearly cut men in two. They called him The Ripper.”
“So why not ‘Jamie the Ripper’?”
“Och, we’re in England. A good English name for an English madman.”
I flinched at his insult, but he didn’t appear to notice. “So what happened to The Ripper?”
“I killed him.” 
I hummed thoughtfully. “The Ripper got ripped.”
“So, where are we going?” enquired my new acquaintance, appearing suddenly anxious for a shift in the direction of our conversation. 
“We are going nowhere,” I answered flatly.
A weathered preacher stood at the junction of the Whitechapel high street, half-crazed and hollering at the top of his lungs to a rag tag captive audience. He called on them to repent and return to God, lest they be struck down for their sins.
I chuckled darkly. Now I was doing God’s work.
The preacher’s glassy eyes grazed across the two mysterious, beautiful gentlemen passing by his improvised pulpit. He heart stuttered out an uneven beat. By the sound of it, the man would be dead before the week was out—a blockage of some sort, preventing steady blood flow.
“Keep your pretty speeches, old man. Own the salvation of your soul before mine. He has already struck me down and I will rage against His damnation until the heavens burn and He feels the heat of the fire He cast me into.” The perfect vision of a tiny child’s hand dripping blood fortified my whispered vow, too low for the preacher to hear.
“How do you move?” The other vampire asked curiously, his eyes narrowed briefly, all joviality suddenly gone.
“I beg your pardon, sir?”
“That weight you wear around your neck like chains.”
I pursed my lips and continued walking. He was persistent—I had to give him that—and almost childlike in his enthusiasm, albeit a naughty child. I couldn’t help wondering what his story was.
With no warning or explanation, I experienced a pressure at my breastbone, as though a hand pressed over my chest. My own covered the curious warmth. I experienced the strangest sensation of being observed, of someone staring at the back of my head. I turned, searching. However, as quickly as it manifested, the sensation vanished and the only thing I felt was the London chill settling deep into my bones.
“I live a good distance west,” I told the vampire. “Keep up or I will leave you behind.”
“Nae problem. I’m Dougal, by the way.”

Carol Oates came into the world on Christmas morning, in an elevator. Raised just across the street from the childhood home of Bram Stoker, author of Dracula, it was only a matter of time before Carol’s love of all things supernatural would emerge. 
She began experimenting with fiction at school and keeps the notebook containing her first unpublished novel in her desk drawer. Over three decades later, all her stories still begin life scrawled on paper. 
When not writing, Carol can be found exploring history, old buildings, castles, and tombs.


Cover Reveal: Love Starts With Z by Tera Shanley (@terashanley)

LSWZ Cover

Love Starts With Z
Book Three in the Dead Rapture Series

“She was Dead and human, and no matter which side she chose, she was a traitor.”

Twenty-four years into the Dead outbreak that ended the world, Soren Mitchell sticks out like a sore thumb in the remains of the human race. She’s an anomaly: a hybrid of human and Dead, created by her mother’s genetic immunity. Like her parents, she’s fierce and strong. But despite their hopes for her happiness and safety, and even though she is no real threat to the colony, she has let the humans muzzle her and confine her within the walls of Dead Run River in search of a cure.

When Kaegan Langford stumbles into the colony with an injured friend draped across his shoulders, her world is turned upside down. Intrigued and affected by her, he asks her to come to Empalme, Mexico with him to fight in the war between Deads and humans. It’ll be a long, treacherous journey to the coast, but she’s had all she can take in the colony.

Battles with Deads, betrayal, injury, kidnappings, and a criminal-run train ride stand between them and the war. But in the end, it’s not just the war with the Deads that could be the death of them.

Tera Shanley’s final book in the Dead Rapture series will thrill your heart…and your braaaains.

Buy Links:

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24325289-love-starts-with-z?from_search=true

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Tera-Shanley/e/B00G1WIIL4/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1421862548&sr=1-1

Author Website: http://terashanley.blogspot.com/

Twitter: @TeraShanley

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/terashanley.author

Author Bio:

Tera Shanley writes in sub-genres that stretch from Paranormal Romance, to Historic

Western Romance, to Apocalyptic (zombie) Romance. The common theme? She loves love.

A self-proclaimed bookworm, she was raised in small town Texas and could often be found

decorating a table at the local library. She currently lives in Dallas with her husband and two

young children and when she isn’t busy running around after her family, she’s writing a new

story or devouring a good book. Any spare time is dedicated to chocolate licking, rifle slinging,

zombie slaying, friend hugging, and the great outdoors. For more information about Tera and her

work, visit http://www.terashanley.com.

And here’s a special reward for reading through the entire post…

Enter here for your chance to win a $25.00 Amazon Gift Card!

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/8b63a9e324/

 

Random Fan with Rumer Haven (@RumerHaven)

This month’s Random Fan is fellow Omnific author, Rumer Haven. Rumer recently published a fantastic novel entitled “Seven For A Secret” and we were thrilled to have the chance to chat with her about it.  You can purchase the ebook or the paperback here.

RumerHavenphoto

SFAS

Morgan and Jennifer: Seven For A Secret is a paranormal romance, but that’s labeling it pretty simply. What else would you like readers to know about the novel?

Rumer Haven:  Great question, as this story isn’t easily placed into any one bucket. While it does have a paranormal element, the ghost’s main function is to join the present with the past, connecting two stories that are more human than supernatural. My publicist has described it as “Great Gatsby meets Bridget Jones,” as it’s half historical fiction and half contemporary, and whereas the historical half is full of drama, the contemporary half is romantic comedy. It’s filled with contrasts like this, I guess, from swept-off-one’s-feet romance to self-deprecating reality. And while young twenty-something and teenage characters drive the story, it’s arguably the old folks who save the day. These opposing elements all interrelate, though, balancing the story out to provide a little bit of everything for everyone. So you don’t have to be a fan of any one particular aspect to still (hopefully) enjoy the overall book.

Rumer Haven: Exposure is such a richly rendered story of stardom and scandal, “exposing” the human element behind the Hollywood facade and paying nice homage to cinematography. Is the industry of special interest to you? What inspired this context for your story?

Morgan and Jennifer: Like most people, we’ve always been interested in pop culture. Movies, television, books and music are all things we enjoy, but we would never say we’ve been obsessed with the celebrity culture. Morgan has spent much of his life actively involved in live theatre and was able to take those human experiences and transfer them to our fictional movie set, but the entire novel generated from just one image in Jennifer’s mind. Specifically, it was the moment when Shaunna Noble quits her job as Kyle Petersen’s publicist, storms out of his movie trailer and tosses all of his clothing to the fans gathered nearby.

Jennifer didn’t really understand who Shaunna was or why she was so angry at the movie star, but it was obvious that the blow up was taking place on a movie set. The rest of the novel was developed around that one moment – finding out what events led up to the outburst, trying to understand how someone could be driven to such rash action and wondering about what would happen to Shaunna in the aftermath of such an explosion.

Morgan and Jennifer: Your novel jumps between the 1920’s and the 2000’s. Do you have a particular fondness for the Roaring 20’s? Why did you choose that era specifically?

Rumer Haven: The Great Gatsby has always been one of my favorite novels, so while I couldn’t aspire to Fitzgerald’s talent, I wanted to attempt a similar atmosphere. I’m also fascinated by the New Woman who emerged during that decade. There’s the iconic flapper, of course, who really pushed the envelope by shortening her hair and hemline and partying like a rock star. But women at large had also just earned the right to vote and were generally shedding the corset of Victorian mores to make more choices for themselves regarding work, education, and sexual freedom. And let’s face it, the fashion was exquisite! As was the architecture—I knew I wanted this story to be my homage to sweet home Chicago, and there are so many structures that were in their heyday back then that are still standing now. They provide an ideal bridge between past and present, and Capone’s Chicago is a classic backdrop for decadence and dodginess.

Rumer Haven: Your novel is perhaps the first I’ve read that was a collaboration of two authors–and a husband and wife, no less. You two clearly make a brilliant team in writing something so uniform and seamless, so I can’t help but ask how you approach this process! What role do each of you play in crafting the content and composition?

Morgan and Jennifer: Those who know us often describe us as a case of Opposites Attract. Morgan is extroverted, while Jennifer is introverted. But despite the extremes in our personalities, we have a lot in common. Writing fiction is something we both feel deeply connected to, and as such we’ve discovered that we work well together.

As a team, we’ve always outlined stories together through the process of collaborative brainstorming. When it comes to composition, Morgan tends to be focused on providing the unexpected, yet essential details within scenes, while Jennifer tends to be fixated on the bigger picture, making sure all the elemental plot points are addressed. Beyond this, Morgan lends more of his humor to the writing process, while Jennifer enjoys drawing emotion out of both the characters and the reader. Overall, it seems to make for a good balance.

Jennifer: As someone who works in a non-profit visitor facility, I recognized much of the behind the scenes action at the Planetarium in your story. I’m curious to know if those sections of the story are based on real life experience?

Rumer Haven: Yes! I used to volunteer at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago. For the record, the volunteer coordinator was not a ho-bag like Vicki but a very lovely, respected member of staff. 🙂 But I did assist the education department with the sorts of activities and events that Kate manages and loved the experience and institution (and Atwood Sphere!) so much. I was actually a finance professional at the time, but working with the public at Adler inspired me to become a teacher. So in homage to the memories and meaning that place holds for me, I wove it into the book.

Morgan: What is your favorite celestial body in the universe?

Rumer Haven: Just…stars. The whole lot of ’em. Like us, they pass through a cycle of life, yet even when they die, they shine on through time and space. They give us something to wish on, to create pictures and stories out of, and they can guide our way home. Our closest star gives us life and keeps us warm in the daytime, and at night, all the distant stars bedazzling the sky make me feel at once infinitesimal yet integral to something greater than I can comprehend. We’re all made of stardust, lest we forget. 🙂

Rumer Haven: Given my great fondness for Exposure and you lovely folks, I cannot wait for your next book. Anything new in the pipeline?

Jennifer: Speaking of stardust and planetariums … I’m writing a story I’ve entitled Constellation.  It’s a May to December contemporary romance set in Central Oregon. The story begins with the two main characters, Jack and Kathleen, having just given in to the temptation of mutual attraction.  The rest of the novel explores how this one spontaneous event will alter how Kathleen perceives her universe. When I initially began the story I thought Jack would be a man of mystery, but the deeper I get into the story  the more I realize that Kathleen is the one with all the secrets.  I’m halfway done writing the book and realizing I actually have a series in the making. I can easily envision two more books and that has me very excited right now.  I’m hoping to publish the first book later this year.

Morgan: I am currently editing a book that I wrote for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in November of 2013. It’s a ghost story called Connection and it takes place mostly on the N train in New York City. I establish new rules for ghosts while reinforcing some of my old favorites and, believe it or not, the whole thing is a tender romance.

Here is my interview with Jennifer Locklear & Morgan Locklear

Our thanks to Fiona for interviewing us for her website!

authorsinterviews

Name  Jennifer Locklear & Morgan Locklear

Age 41 and 42, respectively.

Where are you from Oregon, USA

A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc  

We met in 1989 as teenagers and became high school sweethearts.  We celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary on January 13 and live in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States with our two children, a son and daughter.

Jennifer has been employed in fundraising and development for a non-profit organization since 2000. She also enjoys participating in charitable activities, both locally and online. In her (limited) free time she is an avid reader.

Morgan has been employed in the hospitality industry since 1998. He has been active in the local performing arts community since childhood with many acting and directing credits to his name. He is also a musician and songwriter and has recorded 6 albums.

Fiona: Tell…

View original post 2,487 more words

Cover Reveal: Vibrizzio by Nicki Elson (@NickiElson3D)

Vibrizzio

Vibrizzio by Nicki Elson
Published by: Swoon Romance
Publication date: April 21st 2015
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Synopsis:

Lyssa Bates doesn’t need a man. Not when the world is fully-stocked with double A batteries and a wide array of options in Amazon’s health and sexual wellness category. After yet another failed relationship, the twenty-six-year-old investment analyst is convinced that real guys aren’t ever going to live up to her expectations—so why should she bother with them? She’s determined to keep her dating life purely electronic…though she occasionally fantasizes about Hayden King, the delicious new associate she just got partnered with at work.

While Lyssa manages her romantic risks by deleting men from of the equation, the ever-charming Hayden protects his heart by diversifying his love life across multiple women. As the two young professionals travel together around the country for business, their flirty working relationship develops into a close friendship that hurtles toward something more. Between hot tub confessions in Baltimore, an accidental kiss in Dallas, and an all-nighter in Chicago, Hayden proves himself to be better than any fantasy.

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22236624-vibrizzio?ac=1

Nicki

AUTHOR BIO:

Writing wasn’t something Nicki set out to do; it just sort of happened when she realized writing reports was by far her favorite part of her investment consulting position. She traded stock allocation and diversification for story arcs and dialogue and now weaves her creative writing time in with the other activities of her busy life with her family in the Chicago suburbs.

Nicki writes with two goals in mind: #1 to keep the characters realistic, even when their circumstances are anything but, and #2 to make the reader feel. Watch for her new title Vibrizzio, coming in 2015 from Swoon Romance. Her published works include Three Daves, a light-hearted romantic romp through a 1980s college campus, Divine Temptation, a romantic novel of angelic proportions, and Hans & Greta: a Twisted Fairy Tale Novella. Her published short stories include “Sway” (available as a single), “I Don’t Do Valentine’s Day” (part of A Valentine Anthology), and “Impressionism 101” (included in the debut issue of Insatiable: The Magazine of Paranormal Desire

Author Links:

Jennifer Reviews: Emerald Eyes by N. Michaels (@N_Micheals22)

emerald eyes

The Synopsis:

After years of fighting the pressure of becoming a neurosurgeon and continuing her family’s famous legacy, Katherine Slav’s father has had enough of her partying. He cuts her off financially, leaving Katherine to fend for herself.Finding a job is a priority. Finding Eric Miller is a bonus – a bonus that quickly proves to be impossible to resist. How can she have the only man who denies her every step of the way? How can she seduce her boss without losing her job?Struggling to ward off feelings that go beyond professional, Eric tries to keep Katherine at arm’s length, but the more he’s around her, the weaker his resistance becomes.

Discovering Eric’s secret and baring her own, she fights for her newfound love with everything she’s got, but will it be enough to banish the darkness in Eric’s life?

Is having Eric Miller all she thought it would be?

Will Katherine be enough?

My Review:

If you like your fictional men to be young, successful Alpha CEO’s, then please allow me to introduce you to Eric Miller…

“I risk a quick glance in Mr. Miller’s direction and find him standing in front of his floor-to-ceiling window. He’s looking down at the busy streets of Midtown. I can only see his strong profile but from what I can tell, he’s deep in thought. His strong arms are crossed over his chest and his back is tense. Worry flutters in my chest, and I feel the sudden urge to go to him and comfort him, to ease his mind of whatever is bothering him. Instead, I fight it. I force my eyes away from Mr. Miller’s tense body and go back to work.

He’s not my boyfriend; he’s my boss.”

The heroine of the story is Katherine Slav, a gorgeous young woman, who is never in want of male attention. Her comfortable life is turned upside down when she stubbornly refuses to follow in her father’s professional footsteps and is served with an ultimatum: End her frivolous partying and focus on a career in neurosurgery or else find her own way in the world.

Katherine opts for the latter, but manages to land on her feet quickly when she secures work as an Executive Assistant for the CEO of Miller Financial.  She desperately needs the job in order to make ends meet, but she is quickly fascinated by her attractive boss; a boss who appears to be doing his best to resist her irresistible charm. Katherine and Eric attempt their best to settle into a professional relationship, but their instant physical chemistry is almost impossible to deny from the moment they meet and emotions run high whenever Mr. Miller requires Katherine’s presence at after-hours functions.

“He lifts his head and notices me, but then his gaze falls on Patrick. His eyebrows furrow for a moment before he rises, then leans his head closer to mine.

“I didn’t know you were going to bring a date,” he whispers. The air escaping his mouth tickles my ear, sending goose bumps down the rest of my body.

I bring my lips to his ear and say, “It wasn’t planned. Sort of a last minute thing.”

He smells so intoxicating, pure male, fresh soap and a faint trace of cologne. His heady scent makes me want to spend the rest of the night glued to his neck. I inhale deeply then force myself to lean back and face him. His striking face is not giving anything away, but in his eyes I see the fury rising like blue flames in an inferno.”

Both Katherine and Eric have complicated personal lives, which lends more emotion to their growing sexual tension, and the result makes for an enjoyable read.  Emerald Eyes is the debut novel from N. Michaels. This author is new to publishing fiction, but someone I believe shows good instincts as a writer.  I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the occasional technical glitches in the narrative, but none were severe enough to distract me from the overall enjoyment of the story. I’ve actually read two versions of Emerald Eyes within the last year and was quite pleased when I was just as caught up in my second read of the book as I was during the first. The characters in Emerald Eyes are well-developed and the story is well-paced. N. Michaels has done a great job of drawing the reader in to the emotions necessary to hold interest in the plot.  There were moments of great tension – sexual and otherwise; and I always appreciate a good cliffhanger.  Emerald Eyes ends on a startling note, and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens to Eric and Katherine in the upcoming sequel, Onyx Heart.

You can purchase Emerald Eyes from the following retailers:

Amazon  Barnes & Noble  iTunes  Kobo

You can also find N. Michaels on social media:

Website  Goodreads  Facebook Twitter

Jennifer Reviews: Starbright by Alexandra Richland

Starbright-Cover-2

 

The Synopsis:

For starlet Elizabeth Sutton, it’s difficult to tell which has more momentum: her burgeoning film career, or the growing intimacy in her forbidden romance with notorious Hollywood outsider, Aidan Evans.

When the opportunity to costar in a feature film arrives, Beth and Aidan fight to keep their relationship out of Hollywood’s rumor mill and away from the ever-watchful eyes of Starlight Studios head Luther Mertz, who condemns a union between them and threatens the future of Beth’s acting career.

The pressure mounts as the cameras roll. Beth and Aidan navigate the precarious heights of superstardom while exploring their physical desires in secret. Beth grapples between the debilitating nervousness over her sexual inexperience and her unbridled need for Aidan. Meanwhile, the demons from Aidan’s past he thought forever vanquished linger on the fringes of a fragile inner peace . . .

Starbright is the second book in The Starlight Trilogy, a story of love and redemption set against the backdrop of the final years of Hollywood’s Golden Age.

My Review:

I first heard about the Starlight Trilogy through word of mouth. Many of my trusted online friends had been talking up the story on twitter before the release of the first book in 2013, so I downloaded the book onto my kindle as soon as it was available.

And then I was promptly consumed by real life. *frowns*

After a very hectic time, I gladly welcomed a long holiday weekend. I decided to spend some of my time off by enjoying a bit of leisure reading. I began Starlight early one morning, figuring I’d read a few chapters before moving on with my day.

Well, as it turns out, I rarely moved from my favorite reading perch for hours. Once I was drawn in by the Prologue, there was no going back. Over the course of the afternoon, I found it nearly impossible to put my kindle down, and by the evening I had finished the story.

I spent the next year eagerly awaiting the release of the second book, Starbright, and my expectations for a worthy sequel were quickly met. In writing this series, Alexandra Richland has demonstrated great skill as a storyteller. The romance between Aidan and Beth builds slowly during the course of the first book, but their love story is genuine and profound. Starbright builds upon the fragile foundation of this couple’s relationship as the two young lovers develop their physical intimacy.

“Please don’t go yet.”

Aidan’s tenacity vanished. He turned around. The look in Beth’s eyes showed she wanted him here as much as he didn’t want to leave. He approached her slowly and discovered she was no longer shaking. He touched a tender hand to her cheek. She was no longer cold.

Aidan bathed in her vanilla scent, which was extra potent from the rain. Her lips were just an impulse away, but he wasn’t about to be reckless with her. Not with Beth. Not his fragile little dove.

“You’re so beautiful.” The compliment slipped from his lips in a reverent whisper.

Aidan dipped his head and swept his arms around her waist. Beth closed her eyes in silent offering. Ever so slowly, he brought their lips together, his hands traveling down her side to her hips.

Beth whimpered and returned the kiss, weaving her fingers into his damp hair, tugging, swirling, and scratching. Aidan took that as a green light to go further. With a gentle nudge, his tongue entered her mouth.”

Beyond the tantalizing attraction these two feel toward one another, Starbright offers much more to the reader. The backdrop of the movie studio is incredible in its detail and is filled with fascinating secondary characters, some of whom are completely fictional and some of whom are amongst the biggest stars in the history of cinema.  Chief among these characters is Starlight Studios head, Luther Mertz, who views any connection between the rebellious Aidan and the demure Beth as a detriment to his carefully managed empire.

“…he withdrew a magazine from the top drawer of his desk and slid it toward her. The publication was opened to a specific article, which he positioned so she could look at it right-side up.

“Explain this photo of you and Aidan Evans in Santa Barbara.”

The blood drained from Beth’s face. She gripped the armrests and rose from her chair, peering over the desk at the publication. It was an issue of Life magazine. The largest photograph was the group shot of her, Aidan, and their friends taken after the race. The other photographs were of Aidan and his Porsche. Surely the group photograph wasn’t the source of her boss’s anger?

Mr. Mertz slapped his hand down on the magazine and dragged it toward him. “Why were you at Mr. Evans’ race? He is no good for your image, and a racetrack is not a place you should be visiting under any circumstances.”

Beth sat back down in her chair. It was crucial to handle the situation calmly. Mr. Mertz had no proof that she and Aidan were in a relationship.”

It is clear that the author has a deep respect and knowledge for 1950’s Hollywood. As such, a reader can be swept up into the fantastic life of movie-making while still feeling that the novel offers a realistic portrayal of both the era and the larger-than-life circumstances that took place in the entertainment capital of the world.

The cast of secondary characters are rich in both complexity and amusement, and the bustling activity of life behind the gates of Starlight Studios is glamorous and enthralling. If you are looking for a carefully crafted and well-written love story, I highly recommend reading Starlight and Starbright.  The conclusion of this trilogy, Stardust, is expected to release during 2015, and I know I’ll be one of the first in line to buy a copy.

You can purchase all of Alexandra Richland’s books on her Amazon Page and you can also follow her on twitter: @RebelMissAlex.

Wordslinger: Putting the Y in Twilight

Wordslinger first began in December of 2011 as a monthly series of writers’ essays for the Bookish Temptations website. In this column, Morgan explores the many elements of fiction and offers tips on how to get the most out of the proverbial pen. After three years, Morgan wrote his final Wordslinger post last month, but we’ve decided to take a walk down Memory Lane and re-post the column here. The pop culture references may now appear dated, but the writing advice is timeless. Enjoy!

 

Originally posted on the Bookish Temptations website, December 17, 2011:

**Introduction by Jennifer Locklear**

During the closing months of 2009 as my husband was beginning work on his first original story, I discovered the world of Twilight FanFiction.  It was the first time I had read stories online, and as my time in front of the computer screen began to increase (significantly), he took notice.

When I explained how I was spending all my free time, he took an interest in the fact that not only were people posting stories online but they were also able to receive immediate feedback from readers.  I introduced him to several of the stories I was reading, and within a few days our lives took an interesting turn as he began to consider  posting a story of his own.

One evening after I arrived home from work, my husband announced he had begun writing his own FF. He asked me to read what he had written that afternoon and to let him know if I thought it was worthy of posting.

What I read blew me away and I immediately signed on to be his beta.  I had to see where his story would take me.

Morgan Locklear quietly posted the first chapter of his epic turn of the century tale on Valentines Day 2010.  To our delight, Bella Voce quickly earned readers because his profile page acknowledged that he was writing with an extra pen in his pocket and many females in the Fandom wanted to see how a man wrote our beloved Edward and Bella.

Although I knew he had a talent for music and songwriting, his skills as a storyteller took me by surprise. Not only did Bella Voce include ornate imagery, depth of character and an interweaving of history, Morgan continually amazed me by writing several thousand words each and every week for the better part of two years.

Now that Bella Voce and its sequel, Brutte Parole, have been completed, Morgan is looking forward to returning to that original story he started a couple of years ago.  But thankfully for those of us who are fans of his work, he won’t be leaving the Fandom anytime soon.

 

Putting the Y in Twilight

with Morgan Locklear

 The experiences I have had as a man in the female dominated Twilight Fandom all started because I’m a reader.  I think that if a man does not read for pleasure he stands little chance of understanding the Fandom. But even as a reader, Twilight was nowhere near my radar despite the fact that I had already enjoyed the Mortal Instruments series.

The Twilight Saga (I hate that it’s called a saga by the way) is a decidedly female oriented story, as evidenced by the first person narrative from Bella.  Therefore, it is seen by most men as another romance novel and rightfully so.

I saw the first film and still had no desire to pick up the book (although I did like the casting and the music and Billy Burke was a riot).  Also, I knew that Robert Pattinson was a star right away.  At the time, I did not remember him from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (and when my wife told me it blew my freaking mind), but I could tell that the kid was the kind of actor who, like another beautiful Robert, could end up directing one day.

I am referring to Robert Redford.  He was a gifted and popular young actor who looked too good to be respected until he proved himself with a career rich with wise choices and an unfaltering self-identity.

Pattinson will be up there with the likes of Tom Hanks in everyone’s eyes by the time he’s forty.  I will even risk a few words about the very polarizing Kristen Stewart. Even though she is not my type, she is beautiful. But before I jump off the wooden actress bandwagon I would like to point out that she was cast, like Robert, because they shared many social traits of the characters they played.

So, was she stiff or too good?  DON’T ANSWER YET!!!  I can tell that I haven’t convinced many of you who are determined to hate her and that’s cool, but please listen to one other argument:

Keanu Reeves was a Shakespearean stage actor in Canada who was regarded as the best of his age. (Not kidding).  After a small role in a movie (filmed in part in my sister’s car on the Oregon coast) he was cast as Ted “Theodore” Logan in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

He played his part so convincingly that he found himself only being cast in similar roles.  Has he had some bad movies? Of course.  Has he proven that he is way better than we all thought? Yes.  Don’t believe me? Watch The Devil’s Advocate opposite Al Pacino.

I think Kristen has some things to learn, but that’s why we are called human BEINGS. It’s because we are never done “becoming” who we are.  Don’t believe me?  I’ll tell you what, I’ll put all my eggs in her new Snow White movie.  I can tell she is trying to prove something just like Rob did in Remember Me. And, like Rob, she will turn in a stunning performance.

Okay, back to the Fandom…

The only reason I even considered reading Twilight was because I had decided to start writing a small book.  Because mine was also written in first person, my wife innocently suggested that I might find the Stephenie Meyer books helpful.  I often take advice from my wife – she is smart and witty and has good taste in both books and movies (and men), so I read it.

I gobbled up all four books in a few weeks.  As a man, I found the pacing good and the characters effortlessly drawn.  There was tension but not too much gooey angst and that was good.  My favorite book was Breaking Dawn for one simple reason – it was the first book that Bella stopped constantly bitching about being turned into a vampire.

What can I say, the books lingered in my mind.  I became distracted from the book I was writing (a zombie story) and suddenly switched to writing a story about a beautiful young vampire named Bella. She was living in Paris during the 1890’s but had been turned several hundred years before when she was a nineteen year old nun.  I wrote a prologue that introduced a human named Edward, who fell in love with her when he attended one of her concerts at the theatre she owned. Bella spied him in the audience and intended to feed on him, only to end up falling in love with Edward as soon as they were introduced backstage.

I showed the prologue to my wife and she suggested that if I write the story as fan fiction I would get feedback and perhaps become a better storyteller.

What a great idea.

When I decided to challenge myself with the task of posting the first chapters even though I only had the vaguest idea of how the story would end, I upped the ante and put myself on a weekly posting deadline.  It was the single biggest challenge in my life.  (And this is coming from the legally blind father of two children).

During the past two years, I stopped reading other books almost altogether so I could devote my time to writing and now I am anxious to complete reading a few Fandom stories as well as finishing a few hardcovers that are still sitting on my shelf with movie stubs as bookmarks.

 

Two years later, Bella Voce and it’s sequel, Brutte Parole, are complete. Somehow I also found the time to record an original soundtrack to go along with the stories and I have made literally thousands of friends online.

I can honestly say that it was being a man that probably brought most of my readers at first but like I told my wife, the writing has to keep people coming back for more because the novelty of having a Y chromosome will wear off long before my story is done being told.

I dragged my shy lurker wife into the spotlight with me as she was my very skilled beta and she has since written a short story of her own.  We are now working on a story together that I am very excited about.  It will begin posting on her FanFiction page (RandomCran) in early 2012.

She came up with this cool idea that takes place partly on a movie set and has some great twists and asked me to write it with her.  We have had a good time and I get to write a really bad guy (which I love).  It’s called Exposure and it’s one of three things I have planned for 2012 to stay active in the Fandom despite my biggest project being put to bed.

 

 

Top Ten things I’ve learned since I’ve been in the Fandom.

1.    Women are way more horny than I ever knew about.

2.    Strangers are way more generous than I ever thought possible.

3.    There are hundreds of unpublished writers on fanfiction.net who could go pro today.

4.    Sam Beam (A.K.A. Iron & Wine) is a genius!

5.    I’m not the only man in the Fandom (and I’m talking straight guys too!)

6.    My wife is a better writer than I am.

7.    Seriously, women are waaaaay more horny than I thought.

8.    Everyone just wants to be listened to sometimes.

9.    T/J means Tweet Jack.

10.  French

 

I would like to address negativity as well because not to would be ignoring a factor that has had a lasting influence on me.  One other thing I learned is that some people hate for the sake of hating and fighting back will only make things worse, especially when your opponent is anonymous and ignorant.

I was targeted by a hate group last year because I defended another author they were bullying and so they turned their limited sights on me.  My thread posts were reposted out of context to make me look arrogant (well, more arrogant anyway) and when I went to their blog to annoy them and play the part of bad guy, I offended other people reading and not just the perpetrators.  I thought my tactics were obvious but it backfired and some  people wrote me off that day without ever getting to know the truth.

We all know the truth now, that so called group was another fic author and a few followers.  But it made a lot of people paranoid and ruined a lot of good fun, so I guess she got what she wanted, (except that book deal).

Yes, it still bothers me that people were willing to bash so many others just because a self-proclaimed hater told them to, but I like to think the Fandom will chase off the next one off together.

Regardless, this Fandom has brought my wife and I closer together than ever before and that alone was worth the trip. But there is so much more that we have gained during our time here.  We have friends for a lifetime now, many we have met in person, and we are making more every day.

We have also been a part of many different worthwhile fundraisers and continue to be overwhelmed by the generosity by the people who call Twilight their obsession.

We are currently involved with the Fandom Against Juvenile Diabetes fundraiser and I have just completed a very original story that is told from the point of view of a house cat named Edward (an ECPOV, if you will).  It’s called House Rules. Please visit the blog: fandomajuvdiabetes@blogspot.com and donate what you can to read many, many wonderful stories from some of the best authors in the Fandom.

Our fifteen year old son has Type One diabetes, and believe me the medical field is close to finding a cure.  With your help, it will happen within his lifetime.

I hope this has been an entertaining look at my somewhat foggy view as someone who could have stayed an outsider if not for all the hugs that have pulled me in.  From my wife and I, thank you for that.  If you do not know us, please find us on twitter and say hello (@MJLocklear and @RandomCran). We are chatty, especially with each other.

And now back to my tawdry little pirate sex romp coming soon: “Arg Isle: Search for the Treasure Trail.”

Your pal,

Morgan.

 

http://www.fanfiction.net/u/2252775/Morgan_Locklear

Cover Reveal: Something Wicked by Carol Oates (@CarolOates)

From Omnific Publishing

Something Wicked CR

New Adult
Historical/Contemporary Supernatural

Releasing January 20, 2015

Infected by the vampire virus on the streets of Dublin in 1886, the search for a cure brought Henry Clayton to London and to the brink of madness. Salvation and friendship arrived in the form of Dougal, an immortal Highlander with a devilish sense of humor and a love of life.

Amidst turmoil in vampire society, Henry returns to modern day Dublin. The Circle, a cult determined to awaken their Celtic blood god, the first vampire, is once again active.

When Henry meets a young American woman who sees past his human pretense, he fears exposure. However, his fear is overshadowed by curiosity. What is the source of the strange energy between them? Why are vampires stalking her? Determined to find answers, Henry takes Ari into his home and under his protection.

As their connection grows, Henry begins to suspect Ari isn’t what she claims to be. Their shared history may hold the answers to his uncontrollable bouts of rage and thirst. Perhaps, even a cure for his wicked blood.

Add it to Goodreads 

About the Author

Carol Oates came into the world on Christmas morning, in an elevator. Raised just across the street from the childhood home of Bram Stoker, author of Dracula, it was only a matter of time before Carol’s love of all things supernatural would emerge.

She began experimenting with fiction at school and keeps the notebook containing her first unpublished novel in her desk drawer. Over three decades later, all her stories still begin life scrawled on paper.

When not writing, Carol can be found exploring history, old buildings, castles, and tombs.