Review: Act Like You Love Me by Cindi Madsen

 

Title:  Act Like You Love Me

Author: Cindi Madsen

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

What would you do for a second chance with your first crush?
Brynn McAdams isn’t the awkward drama geek she was in high school—she’s grown up and confident, or at least she likes to think so. But when her old crush, the impossibly handsome and impossibly unattainable Sawyer Raines, comes back to town to direct her community play, Brynn finds herself determined to be someone other than the girl he doesn’t even recognize. Good thing she’s an excellent actress.  
After his bad breakup in NYC, the last thing Sawyer wants is to get involved with another actress. But the glamorous and beautiful Brynn draws him in, even though as her director, he knows she’s off-limits. There’s just something about the woman that feels…familiar. Like home.  
As Brynn’s lies start to snowball, she struggles to stop acting and come clean. But what if Sawyer is already falling for the fake Brynn, not the Brynn she truly is?


Review:

Once again, my favorite trope called to me and prompted me to read Act Like You Love Me.  This is actually a tough book for me to rate, because there is a lot about it to like.  I enjoyed the characters, the setting, and, yes, as I already mentioned, the second chance at love trope.  What knocked it down a few pegs?  Not enough physical contact, and that’s the bottom line.  This is a sweet, gentle story about finally embracing who you are, and accepting all of the oddities that make you unique.  After reading so many Brazen titles in the last few weeks, this one fell flat in the chemistry department, and the sexual tension earned only a low rating on the thermometer.  While it’s nice to have the protagonists engage in conversation before ripping their clothes off, the lack of pay-off was disappointing.  Sawyer is the most restrained male I’ve met in romance in a long time, and while I appreciate that he’s a gentleman, I like a little more rough and tumble (or at least a good wrestle on the couch) type of guy.

Brynn is a character I was immediately drawn to.  She was a nerd in school, uncomfortable with herself and awkward, and the target of jokes from her peers.  She has fought long and hard to move beyond her dork persona, and is finally happy with her life and herself.  She works at the family fishing and bait shop, acts in local stage productions, and finally feels comfortable in her own skin.  Sure, she’s still a bit of an oddball, and her unrestrained passion for plays and literature has chased off every guy she’s dated, but big whoop!  She’ll eventually meet the man of her dreams.  She hopes.

Into town strolls Sawyer, the guy she had a crush on in high school.  He is helping out his aunt by agreeing to direct the play that Brynn is acting in.  It’s a nightmare come true for her.  He first sees her while she’s struggling to change her shirt in her car, giving him a flash of skin and bra.  How embarrassing!  It’s like high school all over again.  She’s still trying to get over the most embarrassing moment of her life, when she had an unfortunate wardrobe malfunction in front of the entire school!  More grating, though, is that Sawyer doesn’t even recognize her.  She had a crush on him forever, and he doesn’t even remember her! Talk about a major blow to her ego.  He doesn’t even remember her asking him to the prom!  Jerk!

Sawyer is dealing with two major issues.  First, he is still reeling from his father’s illness and eventual death when he was in high school.  Second, he is still trying to recover from a bad breakup with an actress in NY, and when he sees Brynn, all he can think is that she’s a carbon copy of his ex; self-absorbed, only interested in herself.  He makes so many false assumptions about her that I really wanted to slap him.  He is so self-righteous, he knows that he has to be right.  I guess he is carrying around so much emotional baggage that he can’t see around all of those weighty issues.

When Brynn follows some questionable dating advice from her brother, things get even more out of hand.  Instead of just being herself, she puts her acting skills to work and pretends to be someone else.  Someone less..overwhelming, I guess the word would be.  Then, before she realizes what’s happening, she is spinning so many half truths and outright falsehoods that she doesn’t know how to come clean with Sawyer.  She knows that she’s misjudged him and that she’s falling for him, but she doesn’t know how to explain the misperceptions that she’s allowed to continue and hasn’t bothered to correct because at first she just wanted him gone.  Oops!  There is this sense of dread through most of the book, because you know that Sawyer isn’t going to take it well when he learns that he’s been deceived, whether intentionally or not.

This is a quick read with both angst and humor, and the only thing holding it back for me was the lack of spice.  The heat level is non-existent, even for a Bliss book.  As stated previously, I just prefer a jalapeño or a habanero  to a mild green chili pepper, both in my cooking and in my reading.   Your mileage will vary.

Grade:  B-/C+

Review copy provided by publisher

Interview with Robin Bielman, Author of Kissing the Maid of Honor and Giveaway!

 

Please welcome Robin Bielman to the virtual offices today!  Robin is having the biggest bridal party of the year, and everyone is invited!  Make sure you follow the other stops on the blog tour to learn more about Robin’s new release Kissing the Maid of Honor.  Don’t forget to enter the giveaway, too!  Five lucky readers will be chosen to be Robin’s bride’s maids and will receive a Kissing bridal gift pack! (limited to US and Canada)  But that’s not all, one international winner will be selected to receive the coveted position of Maid of Honor which includes the Kissing bridal pack and a gift card of her (or his) choice from Etsy, Amazon, or Barnes and Noble!

[Manga Maniac Café] Good morning, Robin!  Thanks for dropping in!

[Robin Bielman] Hi everyone! Julie, thanks so much for having me today! I’m really happy to be here to answer your great questions.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Robin Bielman] Except this first question. LOL I’m not very good at talking about myself. Should I use first person? Third person? Ack! Okay, here goes… I’m a wife and mom, drink too many café mochas, and when I’m not attached to my laptop, I can almost always be found with my nose in a book. I write contemporary romance.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Kissing the Maid of Honor?

[Robin Bielman] Sure. This is the first book in my Secret Wishes series. It takes place in a small fictional seaside town in Oregon and focuses on Sela Sullivan and Luke Watters. Sela is the maid of honor in her best friend’s wedding and the best man is Luke. Luke also happens to be her best friend’s brother and the boy who left her humiliated—and heartbroken—in high school. Sela wants to keep her distance from Luke, but with all the wedding festivities that’s impossible. Soon the teasing that’s always taken place between them turns much more flirtatious and feelings Sela fought to avoid come flooding back. Can Sela trust Luke not to break her heart again? Is kissing him worth the risk? He thinks so. ;)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Robin Bielman] My editor had mentioned that she’d love a story centered on a big family wedding and I loved that idea so I ran with it. Sela came to me first—the small town sweetheart, loved by everyone. Luke followed—the small town boy who couldn’t wait to leave and see the world.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Sela?

[Robin Bielman] Loyal, generous, friendly

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Luke had a theme song, what would it be?

[Robin Bielman] Fly Away, by Lenny Kravitz (Totally have this song in my head now!)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Sela is never without.

[Robin Bielman] Sela always wears the three tiny silver bands with different-colored birthstones on her middle finger. They hold special meaning to her.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Luke’s bedroom?

[Robin Bielman] Ha! I love this question. You’ll never find a mess since Luke is very neat. You’ll never find a plant. He travels a great deal for his job as an extreme-sports photographer so he’s gone a lot and wouldn’t be around to water it. And you’ll never find candles. The only thing Luke wants to smell is the great outdoors. And Sela.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Sela’s greatest regret?

[Robin Bielman] Sela’s greatest regret is that she didn’t stand up to Luke back in high school and she kept the hurt he caused her bottled up inside. Being with him again, and discovering he’s not the same person, helps her to let the past go.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Robin Bielman] I love to read so that’s probably my greatest creative influence. Romance—in all genres—is my favorite, but I also love YA and New Adult, mysteries, urban fantasy and women’s fiction. I’m a big TV watcher, too, and sometimes when I’m watching a show something a character says or does will spark an idea in my mind and I quickly write it down—otherwise I’ll forget!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Robin Bielman] My laptop, my gazillion notes (I’m a pantser, but I do jot down little things about my characters or the plot in a notebook and on sticky notes so I don’t forget them), and silence.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Robin Bielman] I’ve got to say Second Chance Boyfriend, by Monica Murphy. She also knocked my socks off with the first book in the series, One Week Girlfriend. They’re New Adult books and rarely do I read books a second time, but these I most definitely will. I loved them.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Robin Bielman] Oh gosh, let’s see, I don’t think I can pick just one! When I was young, I loved the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books. Then as I got a little older I loved Stephen King and Ray Bradbury. I only started reading romance a few years ago and the first book I read was The Bachelor, by Carly Philips. I loved it and was hooked.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Robin Bielman] I love to read. If I can read while sitting on the beach, even better! During the school year, I enjoy my younger son’s cross country and track and field meets. He’s also in drama and I love his productions. I also like to run, hike and hang out with my hubby. Oh, and play with my dog Harry.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Robin Bielman] My website/blog: http://robinbielman.com

On Facebook: http://facebook.com/RobinBielman or http://facebook.com/RobinBielmanWriter

On Twitter: http://twitter.com/robinbielman

Goodreads: http://goodreads.com/robinbielman

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

Giveaway!

Five lucky readers will be chosen to be Robin’s bride’s maids and will receive a Kissing bridal gift pack! (limited to US and Canada)  But that’s not all, one international winner will be selected to receive the coveted position of Maid of Honor which includes the Kissing bridal pack and a gift card of her (or his) choice from Etsy, Amazon, or Barnes and Noble!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A bit about Kissing the Maid of Honor:

Kissing her best friend’s brother never felt so right…

Sela Sullivan is resolved to be the best maid of honor ever, even if it means tolerating the best man. Insufferable, too-handsome Luke Watters is not only the guy who humiliated her at a kissing booth in high school, but he also happens to be her best friend’s older brother. Positive he’s the same arrogant jock, Sela vows to focus on her duties and steer clear of the frustrating—and frustratingly tempting—Luke.

As a world-renowned extreme-sports photographer, Luke is used to undertaking life-risking adventures. But risking his heart for the beautiful Sela Sullivan, who clearly still hates him for his rejection all those years ago? He didn’t see that coming. Sela inspires a passion he’s never known, and the more time they spend together, the more he craves her. But can he prove to the maid of honor he’s become a man of honor?

A bit about Robin:

Robin Bielman lives in Southern California with her high school sweetheart husband, two sons, and crazy-cute mini Labradoodle, Harry Dresden. When not attached to her laptop, she can almost always be found with her nose in a book. She also loves to run, hike, and dip her toes in the ocean. Writing is a dream come true, and she still pinches herself to be sure it’s real.

She is also the author of Worth the Risk and Yours At Midnight from Entangled’s Ever After line. She loves to connect with readers.

Visit her online:

Website: http://www.robinbielman.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/RobinBielmanWriter

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/#!/RobinBielman

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/robinbielman

Buy Links:

Amazon: 

Barnes and Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/kissing-the-maid-of-honor-robin-bielman/1115213931?ean=9781622660889

ITunes:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/kissing-the-maid-of-honor/id642292859?mt=11

Review: The Switched Baby Scandal by Theresa Meyers

 

Title:  The Switched Baby Scandal

Author:  Theresa Meyers

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

His child. Her daughter. One monumental mix-up.

Single mom Taylor Lawrence just discovered that the hospital sent her home with the wrong infant five years ago. Now the headstrong and handsome biological father wants his child back. But Emily has always been her daughter, and Taylor wont give her up without a fight.

Widower Reece Wallace believed his life was over when a drunk driver killed his wife and daughter. So when he learns of the baby switch, he sees this child as his ultimate salvation. But he never anticipated the fiery woman on the other side of this custody battle or how shed stir feelings in him long dormant.

As the media storm surrounding the hospitals mistake intensifies, Taylor and Reece find there’s more to sort out than custody of Emily they must work together to protect her while grappling with their growing attraction. Can they pick up the pieces of two broken families and meld them into something new?


Review:

I enjoy Theresa Meyers’ writing, so I had to read this book.  The premise intrigued me as well.  What would happen if someone discovered that the child they had been raising since birth wasn’t theirs?  What if the hospital messed up, or worse, someone intentionally switched their baby with someone else’s?  How would you feel when you found out, years later? How would you feel when you discovered that your natural child perished in a terrible accident?  There are lots of loaded questions here, and I was curious to see how they were answered.

When Taylor discovers that her daughter, Emily, isn’t her biological daughter, she is both devastated and confused.  How could this be?  Wouldn’t she know that the child she has been raising isn’t hers?  I can’t imagine being told that!  Taylor has been a single mother for four years, struggling to give her daughter every advantage possible.  Her ex dumped her like a hot potato after she got pregnant, and she’s been trying to get him to pony up for the child he helped create.  With a court case pending, and now with a report proving that Michael isn’t the father, she’s at her wit’s end.  The paternity test isn’t the only question mark in her life now; Taylor wants to know what happened in the hospital, and how she came home with the wrong infant.

Reece is struggling with survivor’s guilt.  He lost his wife Becca, and their young daughter in an accident, and he’s having a hard time moving on.  Who could blame the guy?  He lost his whole life in one awful moment, and he still can’t believe that he’s alone.  His contentment is shattered, and he doesn’t think he will ever get it back, or worse, that he deserves to have it back.  When the hospital lets him know about the mix up, he instantly has a new reason to live.  He has a child out there, and he wants to get to know her and provide for her.  He feels guilty again because Taylor’s daughter died, but he is jubilant that he has a child.  I really liked Reece.  He’s dealing with a lot of issues, but he immediately wants to accept responsibility for Emily.  He immediately wants to take care of both Taylor and Emily, even though Taylor is so resistant at first.  And again. who can blame her? Everything that she thought was true turns out to be anything but the truth.

This is essentially a story about healing and learning to trust in love again.  Reece isn’t ready for a commitment, and he wants his next marriage, should there be one, to be built on love, not friendship.  He and Becca married because she was pregnant, and while they were happy together, Reece wasn’t madly, deeply in love with her.  Next time, though, that’s what he’s going to have. If only he could get beyond the guilt thing.  He is so eaten up with guilt that he resists Taylor tooth and nail.  He is so fearful of being disloyal to Becca’s memory that he just can’t get involved with anyone, and I think that is where I had problems engaging with the story.  The pacing is slower that I liked, and while Reece and Taylor are attracted to each other, they constantly deny, deny, deny their feelings.    While they are together most of the book, their relationship progressed at a snail’s pace. 

Ultimately, this is a feel good romance that is a long time in developing.  While I liked Reece quite a bit, Taylor took a while for me to like.  I loved her mom, though!  Emily was also a little too cutesy at times. 

Grade:  B-/C+

Review copy provided by publisher

Review: Desire by Design by Paula Altenburg

 

 

 

Title:  Desire by Design

Author: Paula Altenburg

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

He stole her job, and now she’s stealing his heart.

Eve Doucette finally almost has it all. She’s free from her mistake of an ex-husband and just landed her dream job: project manager for a new City Hall and drafter of the final design. That is, until a handsome architect sweeps into town to commandeer her blueprints.

Famous architect Matt Brison is unsatisfied with his mundane life in Toronto. So when the mayor of Halifax asks him to spearhead his City Hall project, Matt jumps at the opportunity. There’s just one problem: the feisty and beautiful project lead, Eve, who isn’t exactly thrilled about her new "coworker" hijacking her design.

But when the sparks begin to fly, they both find themselves falling for the colleague they shouldn’t want. And before they know it, their already shaky foundation might come crumbling down…


Review:

I enjoyed Desire by Design and thought that the story had a lot to offer.  Eve is an extremely likable character who is struggling to come into her own after a disastrous marriage.  Her large, loud family is overbearing, and she clashes with her mother at every gathering.  She feels that she’s been nothing but a disappointment to her family, and she now has the dubious honor of being the only member to have been divorced.  Worse, her ill-fated marriage lasted only two weeks before she realized that she married a jealous, controlling, abusive man.  Vowing to focus only on herself and her career so she would avoid making another mistake, Eve dives into her position as a project manager with a gusto.  Her latest job is to oversee the construction of the new city hall building, and right from the get go, she is confronted with strife and personality conflicts – mostly with Bob, the  self-serving mayor.

When Matt Brison enters her construction trailer, Eve is in for an even larger challenge; Matt is a well-renowned architect from Toronto, and he’s been put in charge of designing the new building.  For his uncle.  You know, that annoying, self-serving mayor guy.  I loved the built in conflict here; Eve is fantasizing about how to bump him off, and now she’s stuck working with his fancy, well-paid nephew.  Matt wants to do his uncle proud for all of the support he’s given to him over the years.  Matt’s mother was a flake, and Bob tried hard to provide some stability while Matt was growing up.  Eve feels no loyalty toward the mayor and is upset about the thought of him railroading an ever increasing budget through to get his dream offices constructed.  For Eve, it’s a no-win situation.  Matt is accustomed to building nothing but the best,   and she’s getting a migraine just contemplating the budget woes she’ll have to face.  To stir things up even more between Eve and Matt, the mayor warns Matt away from Eve.  She’s nothing but a bully, he tells his nephew, and she’ll do nothing but run roughshod over him in order to get her way.  I loved how both Eve and Matt had to weave through the misconceptions people tossed in front of them about each other and make up their minds about each other. 

Just to keep Eve from resting easy, her abusive ex ends up back in town.  When Matt suspects that Eve is being threatened, he quickly dons his shining armor and offers to help her out.  Because Eve has both forgotten how to trust in others or to trust her own judgment, this is the story of her learning to believe again.  She needs to believe that others are decent and caring, and that she has the capacity to make the right decisions for herself.  Instead of reacting to her mother and her family, she needs to stop worrying about disappointing anyone and start living again.  When she finally learns to ask for help, and when she finally allows herself a second chance, I was right there cheering her on.  To make the journey even more enjoyable, Matt keeps making the worst impression possible on her parents, with hilarious results.  I really started feeling bad for the guy, because I didn’t see how anyone could ever live some of that stuff down.  It kept the story from being too angsty, and added a nice touch of humor. It made both Eve and Matt more sympathetic and gave them an added depth of character.

I picked up Desire by Design  completely on the spur of the moment. The first paragraph had me hooked, and I remained engaged in the story for the entire length.  I’m looking forward to reading more from the author, because this hit all the right buttons for me.

Grade:  B+

Review copy provided by publisher

Interview with Cindi Madsen, Author of Falling for Her Fiancé and Giveaway

Cindi Madsen dropped by the virtual offices to chat about Falling for Her Fiancé, a romance published under Entangled’s Bliss imprint.  Cindi also pens YA stories, so be sure to check out All The Broken Pieces!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Cindi Madsen] Romance writer of both adult & YA who loves writing, reading, music, dancing, junk food & shoes. Also loves her awesome, supportive family.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Falling for Her Fiancé?

[Cindi Madsen] Best friends since college, Wes and Dani decide to fake an engagement to get Wes through his sister’s wedding, where his ex is a bridesmaid, and Dani through a company retreat and hopefully earn her a promotion. Along the way they start realizing there might be something more than friendship between them.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Cindi Madsen] My editors were talking about their wish list for the Bliss line, something I’d talked with my editor about writing, and she said she loved the friends to lovers storyline. Her editing assistant said she wanted a fake engagement. That night when I went to go to sleep, suddenly I was thinking about friends who fake an engagement. I started thinking of how funny it’d be as they lied their way through it, and all the slip ups and forced proximity & faked kissing that had them start wondering how much was fake. I couldn’t fall asleep until I had the whole thing mostly outlined in my head, and got a sense of how the characters played off each other. I knew I had to write it ASAP.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Dani?

[Cindi Madsen] Caring, athletic, family-oriented

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Wes had a theme song, what would it be?

[Cindi Madsen] Interesting question. I’m going with Afterlife by Switchfoot. It’s on the playlist for the book and since Wes is all about being impulsive the following lyrics fit:

And I wonder why would I wait till I die to come alive?

I’m ready now

I’m not waiting for the afterlife

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Dani is never without.

[Cindi Madsen] She played basketball in college, so while she doesn’t carry a ball around, she does have one in the trunk of her car, so she can play at a moment’s notice. And of course she’s pretty attached to her cell phone, especially whenever the “SexyBack” ringtone plays, because that means Wes is calling. (He programmed it in, telling her the song was just “so me”)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Wes’ bedroom?

[Cindi Madsen] Candles

Folded laundry—his laundry is in piles, or hung up if he’s on top of things

Before Dani came to visit, he’d probably say a dress, especially one that looked backwards. But after he gets a look at the “backwards dress” on Dani, he’s all about it.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Dani’s greatest regret?

[Cindi Madsen] Moving to Arkansas with her ex-boyfriend, following his dreams instead of her own.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Cindi Madsen] Music. I love the way it can make you feel and transport you. I want to put those emotions into my book, which is why I make playlists for my books. Other than that, I read a lot and really well-written movies and TV shows also get my creative juices flowing.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Cindi Madsen] Music

Mountain Dew

My laptop

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Cindi Madsen] Something Like Normal by Trish Doller. That book was recommended to me by a couple of my twitter peeps, and it was AMAZING!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Cindi Madsen] So hard. I’m going to have to go with Anne of Green Gables. I mentioned it in another interview, but one of my teachers, a woman named Shelly Russell turned me onto them when I was in grade school, and I loved them. Then my mom gave me The Witch of Blackbird Pond and that pretty much cemented my love of reading.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Cindi Madsen] Usually watching movies with my husband, or desperately trying to catch up on all the cleaning I let go while I was writing (watching movies is MUCH more fun) We also like to go out to eat as a family.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Cindi Madsen] Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/CindiMadsen

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CindiMadsenBooks

email: info@cindimadsen.com

website: http://cindimadsen.com

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

GIVEAWAY TIME!!

Ready for your chance to win a copy of FALLING FOR HER FIANCE?  Entering is easy!  Just fill out the widget below.  Earn extra entries for following.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Didn’t win? You can order a copy of FALLING FOR HER FIANCE from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the link below.

About FALLING FOR HER FIANCE:

Danielle and Wes have been best friends since college, so when Wes needs a date for his sister’s wedding and Dani needs a partner for her company’s retreat, they devise the perfect plan: a fake engagement to get through both events unscathed. Adrenaline-junkie Wes can prove to both his ex and his family that he’s well and truly moved on, and serious-minded Dani can prove to her boss that she’s worthy of the promotion he seems to only want to give to a family-oriented employee.
But amid the fake swoons, fake kisses, and forced proximity, neither expects the very real feelings that develop. There’s nothing more dangerous than falling for your best friend…but what if the landing is worth the fall?

Buy Links:

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/falling-for-her-fiance-cindi-madsen/1114137785?ean=2940015969276

About the Author:

Cindi Madsen sits at her computer every chance she gets, plotting revising, and falling in love with her characters. Sometimes it makes her a crazy person. Without it, she’d be even crazier. She has way too many shoes, but can always find a reason to buy a new pretty pair, especially if they’re sparkly, colorful, or super tall. She loves music, dancing, and wishes summer lasted all year long. She lives in Colorado (where summer is most definitely NOT all year long) with her husband and three children.

Interview with Coleen Kwan, Author of Real Men Don’t Break Hearts

Please welcome special guest Coleen Kwan to the virtual offices today.  Coleen dropped by to chat about her Entangled Publishing release Real Men Don’t Break Hearts.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Coleen Kwan] I am a daydreamer. I feel it’s important to unplug every day, especially in today’s world of constant electronic connection.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Real Men Don’t Break Hearts?

[Coleen Kwan] It’s a romance between a reformed bad boy and a good girl wanting to break out of her rut. Nate and Ally have never got along, especially after Ally blames him for her ex-fiancé jilting her at the altar. When Nate returns to his hometown and becomes her new landlord, she’s furious, yet at the same time curiously attracted to him.

Nate has come home because he’s tired of his high-living bachelor lifestyle and wants something different. His efforts to re-invent himself are hampered by his sudden growing attraction to Ally, the girl who’s always despised him.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Coleen Kwan] I’d always wanted to write a romance between a rake and a Miss Goody Two Shoes set in a small town where memories of past misdeeds aren’t easily forgotten. Nate and Ally gradually filtered into my imagination as two flawed people on a journey of self-discovery.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Ally?

[Coleen Kwan] Loyal. Self-effacing. Passionate.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Nate had a theme song, what would it be?

[Coleen Kwan] “Bad to the Bone” by George Thorogood.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Ally won’t leave the house without.

[Coleen Kwan] Her purse.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Nate’s pockets?

[Coleen Kwan] A comb (Nate is not the vain type). A little black book (His Lothario days are over). Cigarettes.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Nate’s greatest regret?

[Coleen Kwan] Getting into trouble and causing his late older brother headaches.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Coleen Kwan] Other writers. My lifelong habit of burying my nose in books has been the biggest influence on my writing and my creativity. Good writing and storytelling always inspire me.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Coleen Kwan] My laptop. A cup of tea. Quiet.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Coleen Kwan] “Fevre Dream” by George R.R. Martin. I started it not knowing what to expect and found it un-put-downable. For days and weeks I was haunted by his tale of vampires on the Mississippi.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Coleen Kwan] The Faraway Tree series by Enid Blyton. Blyton is not very PC these days, but when I was a child she was my favorite author by far.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Coleen Kwan] I try to catch up on my TBR pile or I watch TV. I’m a natural couch potato!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Coleen Kwan] My website is www.coleenkwan.com

Facebook www.facebook.com/coleenkwan.authorpage

Twitter www.twitter.com/ColeenKwan

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

You can purchase Real Men Don’t Break Hearts from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the link below.

About the book

Ally Griffin is horrified to learn her new landlord is none other than the infuriating playboy Nate Hardy—the man she blames for getting her jilted at the altar six years ago. Plus, now her ex-fiancé is back in their hometown of Burronga, Australia, to marry his beautiful new bride…for real this time. Everybody’s treating Ally with kid gloves, as though she’s still heartbroken, but she’s just fine, thank you very much.

Nate Hardy is tired of his high-flying city career and bachelor lifestyle and is looking for something more real. The last thing he needs is to find himself undeniably attracted to Ally, the woman with whom he never saw eye-to-eye. But is he even capable of what Ally wants and deserves?

As Ally tries to pull her life out of the rut it’s fallen in, she doesn’t count on Nate stirring up her emotions. A short-term fling with the resident bad boy is practically irresistible, but only if she can guard her heart…

Purchase from Barnes &Noble: http:/tinyurl.com/a9qxs8c

 About Coleen Kwan

Coleen Kwan has been a bookworm all her life. At school English was her favorite subject, but for some reason she decided on a career in IT. After many years of programming, she wondered what else there was in life — and discovered writing. She loves writing contemporary romance and steampunk romance.

Coleen lives in Sydney, Australia with her partner and two children. When she isn’t writing she enjoys avoiding housework, eating chocolate, and watching The Office.

Author Website: http://www.coleenkwan.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/coleenkwan.authorpage

Twitter: @ColeenKwan

GoodReads: http://tinyurl.com/a3pzyaq

Review: Construction Beauty Queen by Sara Daniel

 

 

Title: Construction Beauty Queen

Author: Sara Daniel

Publisher: Entangled

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Chicago socialite Veronica Jamison is determined to shake off her sheltered lifestyle and overbearing parents. She heads to her grandfather’s small town of Kortville, ready to roll up her sleeves and work for the family construction business. She’ll prove her worth, even if it means answering to the company’s ruggedly handsome co-owner, Matt.

Matt Shaw just wants to run his business, spend time with the niece he’s raising on his own, and give back to the townspeople who have stood by him. Managing a spoiled-rotten princess he knows he’ll never be good enough for? Not part of his plan. But as he gets to know Veronica, he learns there’s more to her than her beautiful looks and designer clothes. She’s got a heart as rich as her background.
With the quirky townspeople rallying against Veronica inheriting her grandfather’s business, it’s up to Matt to try to drive her out of town. But how can he, when instead she’s driving her way into his heart?


Review:

I really wanted to like this book, but I never connected with the secondary characters.  In fact, I thought most of them were just plain mean, especially at the beginning.  Veronica has just arrived in the tiny town of Kortville with a basketful of dreams.  She wants to escape the meaningless life her parents have planned for her, and stand on her own two feet.  She wants to make a difference with her life.  She wants a real job, and she has worked her tail off for years, first by graduating from college, and then earning an MBA which she paid for all by herself, thank you very much.  Her parents can’t see the sense of her having an education, since she’s just going to marry the man of their choosing anyway.  Uh, no thanks, Mom and Dad!

After emailing her grandfather, Veronica has been given a challenge.  If she can stick it out for 30 days working at the construction firm her grandfather has a stake in, he will let her take over operations at his successful distribution firm.  Putting every bit of faith in this man she has never met, Veronica sells everything she owns to pay off her college loans, purchases a clunker of a car, and makes the journey from Chicago to Kortville.  Once there, she is met with nothing but contempt.  The residents resent her because her grandfather was going to sell his company and invest the profits in the town.  Matt, the guy who owns the other half of the construction company, makes her feel as welcome as an army of fire ants at a picnic.  It is all of these awful people and their determined efforts to derail Veronica’s plans that kept me from engaging in the plot.  I couldn’t stand these people.  Matt and her grandfather even put her in harm’s way, instructing her to undertake tasks that she was clearly not ready for.  I had to hand it to her, though.  She didn’t know how to accept defeat, and she never gave up.  Besides Matt’s young niece, Veronica is the only character in this entire book that I had any bit of respect for.  Even Matt, super studly construction dude, was a turd, constantly putting her in situations where she could have been seriously hurt.

I had a hard time getting behind the romance because I didn’t like Matt.  He was dumped by his big city girlfriend after he moved to tiny Kortville, and as a result, he couldn’t give Veronica any slack at all.  He made an effort to keep his niece firmly isolated from “girly” things, too, lest she turn into a fashion snob and want to leave town, too.  This did not earn any brownie points for Matt.  Neither did his constant projection of his ex’s faults onto Veronica.  He gave her nothing but grief for the first half of the book because she was from the big city and had a wealthy upbringing.  Then, after proving herself time and time again, he gave her grief because she had ideas how he could expand his business and make it more profitable.  I didn’t get this, and it made Matt look like a hick.  He didn’t want the ability to provide a better life for his niece?  At this point, I just wished that Veronica would walk away from him and the rest of the narrow-minded town.

Overall, the behavior of the secondary characters diminished my enjoyment of Construction Beauty Queen.  I did not enjoy how they trivialized Veronica at every opportunity.  It made me angry because she never treated them with anything other than warmth and openness.  The residents of Kortville did eventually make a turn around, but I was so irritated with them by then that it didn’t make a difference to me.

Grade:  C-

Review copy provided by publisher

Interview with Roxanne Snopek, Author of Three River Ranch and Giveaway!

Roxanne Snopek is celebrating the release of her new book, Three River Ranch.  Please welcome her to the virtual offices today!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Roxanne Snopek] Artistic, driven, solitary, peacekeeper, INFP + a dash of OCD & ADHD. Also, Scorpio Sun/Moon/Mercury/Neptune, so stand back when I get mad.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Three River Ranch?

[Roxanne Snopek] It’s a romance for people who don’t like reading romance! At least, that’s what reviewers are saying. It’s the story of two ordinary people with good but wounded hearts, who want to save the world and end up rescuing each other.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Roxanne Snopek]  I love cowboys, so Carson was just a natural character to write. But instead of a traditional riding-the-range kind of guy, I made him a conservationist with a passion for saving the wild mustangs. The setting and world of Three River Ranch came alive for me as soon as I had this tiny bit, and the rest sort of evolved… a bit like a photo coming into focus.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Rory?

[Roxanne Snopek] Authentic. Resilient. Selfless.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are three things Carson would never have in his bathroom?

[Roxanne Snopek] Hm. Great question. He doesn’t buy aerosols. He doesn’t use products that have been tested on animals. Also, no harsh cleaning products! He’s a baking-soda-and-vinegar kind of guy.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Carson had a theme song, what would it be?

[Roxanne Snopek]  “Born to be Wild”

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Rory’s most prized possession?

[Roxanne Snopek]  Well, she loves her dog, Mistral, although she argues vehemently that animals are companions, not “possessions.” So, as far as inanimate objects, she has a crimson wrap that she wears to go out with Carson. The rich color and fabric are flattering, even for a pregnant woman!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Roxanne Snopek]  Naturally, I’m a voracious reader and have been all my life. So books and writers, probably. There’s a book by the late Madeleine L’Engle called “Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art” that touched me deeply about a decade ago. Stephen King’s “On Writing” is just great, even for non-writers. Barbara Kingsolver’s “Poisonwood Bible” is the kind of book that, in my ideal life, I’d have the skill and wisdom and heart and maturity to write.

Then, of course, there’s Allie Brosh and her blog Hyperbole and a Half. Probably the funniest stuff I’ve ever read. A true outside-the-box thinker, a hilarious writer and artist. Go there. You won’t be sorry. http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.ca/

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Roxanne Snopek] Quiet. A non-sticky floor. Matrimonial cake. (I always order this if I’m in a coffee shop, but no one makes it like my mom…. dates…. oatmeal….mmm.)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Roxanne Snopek] I just finished “Don’t Say a Word” by Barbara Freethy and it was great! Suspenseful, fast-paced, great mix of romance and thriller.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Roxanne Snopek]  “Hurry Home Candy” by Meindert DeJong and “Jennie” by Paul Gallico. Both are stories of animals lost and in need of rescuing, which explains one aspect of my writing. And both end well, which explains the romance, I suppose. I don’t mind crying in a book, but I cannot bear unhappy endings. Oops. You said one book. Oh well…

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Roxanne Snopek]  I love to play in the dirt, making stuff grow if I can, pruning it or digging it out if I can’t. I like hiking through crunchy leaves with my dogs. I dabble in painting from time to time – big, splashy canvases that I stencil quotes on. I enjoy baking, but my doctor says I have to lay off starches, dang it. Also, I love to watch TV (can I admit that??) Right now I’m totally into The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, Castle and am about to start watching Sons of Anarchy. I was a staunch ER fan before it ended, and St. Elsewhere before that. I LOVED Firefly. Big Bang Theory cracks me up and I still happen onto the occasional Friends episode I haven’t seen.

Oh, and I *love* Bikram yoga. Yoga of all kinds, really, but something about the heat really works for me.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Roxanne Snopek]  www.roxannesnopek.ca

Facebook: RoxanneSnopekAuthor

Twitter: @RoxanneSnopek

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/RoxanneSnopek

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

GIVEAWAY TIME!!

Ready for your chance to win a digital copy of Three River Ranch? Just fill out the widget to enter.  Earn extra entries for following.  Open Internationally.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You can order Three River Ranch from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the link below.

 

More about the book:

Needing a fresh start from her two-timing fiancé, Aurora McAllister answers a realtor’s ad for a guesthouse on the beautiful, serene Three River Ranch. She shows up at Three River tired, heartbroken, and with no one but her trusty Labradoodle as a companion.

Cowboy Carson Granger has enough trouble in his life without adding a woman and her dog to the mix. There’s the untamed mustang he’s prepping to release into the wild, not to mention his father’s crazy will, which stipulates that if Carson wants to fully inherit Three River, he’ll need to find a bride. Carson wants nothing to do with love and especially not a marriage of convenience. But he soon realizes Rory, and everything she represents, might just be exactly what he needs.

Sometimes love arrives on your doorstep when you least expect it…

More about the author:

Roxanne Willems Snopek is an award-winning freelance writer of everything from corporate newsletters to personal essays. Author of the Amazing Stories series of true life animal adventures, she now focuses on fiction. Snopek grew up in Saskatchewan and now lives in British Columbia.