Embracing Hope – Review

38152216Introducing Ann Laurel’s first Christian contemporary romance series – Valley Springs. Meet 5 couples from Valley Springs and take the journey through life’s struggles and hardships into the fullness of a life of love and happy endings.

Book One – Embracing Hope. Single mother Riley struggles with raising her baby, Zeke, by herself. Too many wrong choices lead her down a path of destruction. Young Pastor Micah set in motion help for single mothers and extends his hand to Riley. Will she accept his help before it is too late?

Valley Springs Novel Series – Embracing Hope, Embracing Life, Embracing Purpose, Embracing Love, and Embracing Courage – can be read as stand-alones or within the series.

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VANESSA KINGS'

3 of 5 Stars

Sadly, I didn’t like the book, I struggled to finish it, I would’ve given less stars but it was probably my own fault for diving in something blindly.

First of all, it’s written in 3rd person, which I’m not used to read, I think first person would’ve been a lot better to show Riley’s feelings and struggles through the story.

Second, it’s a Christian book, I know, it says it in the description, but does it need to be so preachy? I’m not religious and I’ve read Christian romances before and they only mentioned it a few times or made the first character very devoted and it was a clean romance, which is fine, but when the hero is a Pastor, you know you are in for a hell (not pun intended) of a preaching ride.

Third, I feel like it could use a 2nd round of editing, the words “as” and “for” are used so many times, I can’t even explain how frustrating it was to read them again and again, as she waited, as she laid, as she read, as she rolled her eyes, as she considered to stop reading, as she rolled her eyes again, as she continued reading despite everything.

And fourth and last, Riley is the most immature mother I’ve ever read. The second time she held her baby, she he told him she was going to be the best mama for him, and made me smile, and then she go out partying and neglects her son? No, just no. I know she was struggling, but when you can’t root for your main character and instead you want social services to find a better home for that baby, it means something is wrong with the character developing.

I feel like I’m turning the book to pieces, it’s not my intention to be mean or harsh, but as I was given the book to read and give my honest opinion, here it is. I wish I could recommend it, but unless you are a strong religious person and can look past the editing issues, this isn’t really the right book for you.

ABOUT THE(1)

61TjygkBy9L._UX250_Ann Laurel writes inspirational western historical and Christian contemporary romance. All of her books are guaranteed to make you feel good when you reach the end.

Ann lives with her husband and children in the beautiful Ozark Mountains in the south. She enjoys raising Godly children, volunteering with her church, homemaking, and writing.

Ann plans to publish more western historical and Christian contemporary romances. All books are guaranteed clean and sweet.

Coming soon – her first contemporary romance series – Valley Springs. Five novels surrounding the small rural community of Valley Springs.

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Cowboy Kisses – Six Romantic Tales of Colorado Cowboys

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I’m so excited about this Colorado Cowboy Anthology!

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This anthology includes the following SIX stories:

Cowboy Homecoming by Cindi Myers
After years in the city Kate Randolph has come home to take care of her ailing father, only to find local cowboy Jace Carpenter in charge of her father’s ranch. Jace isn’t sure what to make of Kate, but he’s dealing with big changes in his own life since his family ranch was sold. Can a prodigal daughter and a restless cowboy turn the bad hand life has dealt them into a winning combination?

Excerpt:

Kate held the water bottle out and Jace reached for it, and set it on the ground at their feet. Then he drew her close. She stared up at him, heart hammering. “I almost kissed you the other night on my back porch,” he said. “But you pulled away.”

“I’ve regretted that ever since,” she said softly, and stood on tip-toe to press her lips to his.

He kissed her the way she imagined he did everything else, with a quiet thoroughness and skill that left no room for doubts or second thoughts. She closed her eyes and surrendered to the firm heat of his lips on hers, the taste of him on her tongue, the feel of his strong arms encircling her. It was as if she had been asleep for months, and the kiss awakened her, blood humming in her veins, every nerve buzzing with awareness of him.

When at last they broke apart, both breathless and panting a little, they stared at each other. “Maybe my other regret is that we didn’t do this sooner,” he said, smoothing one hand along the curve of her hip. “Say, ten years ago.”

“No, sooner wouldn’t have been as good,” she said. “You have to grow into a kiss like that.”

He kissed her again, letting his lips wander after a moment, from her mouth along the curve of her jaw and down the column of her neck, resting a moment over the pulse at her throat. She let out a breathy moan and dug her fingers into his biceps. If he could leave her this weak-kneed with just a kiss, imagine what he could do with the rest of his body.

ABOUT THE(1)

Cindi Myers is the author of more than 70 published novels. She wrote her first romance in eighth grade – a manuscript widely circulated among her classmates, until confiscated by her English teacher, who told her she needed to work on her spelling and grammar. Those skills much improved, she loves writing from her home in the western Colorado mountains, where she lives with her spoiled dogs and handsome husband. When not writing, she enjoys skiing, camping, knitting, quilting, and cooking – and reading lots and lots of good books.

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Loving You From Afar by RaeAnne Hadley
Ariana thought her life was over when she lost her husband. But through a strange twist of events that brought a stranger into her and her children’s lives, she was starting to believe that maybe it was just the beginning.

Excerpt:

Snowflakes fell from the black sky, lazily making their way down to the cold earth. It was so quiet that she could hear them when they landed.

All of the animals, both wild and domestic, were hunkered down to wait out the December storm.

She sat on the deck allowing the fat flakes to gather on her eye lashes. The house was quiet; her girls snug in bed and sound asleep. She felt moisture slide down her cheeks but didn’t bother to wipe them away. She looked up towards the heavens and sighed.

“I don’t know how to do this without you. We made so many plans, had so many dreams. Our girls need their daddy and I need my best friend. You kept me strong. Made me a better mother because you were an amazing father. My heart hurts. My mind aches and I don’t know that I’m strong enough to do this alone.”

She dropped her eyes and wiped away the tears. A breeze rustled the naked branches and she shivered. Gathering her empty tea cup, she let herself back into the house. She didn’t see the lone red rose petal fall from the sky and settle onto the seat of her chair

ABOUT THE(1)

I’m an accidental author as I began writing my first story, Mechanics of Murder, after I had been fired for taking maternity leave. I took a 3rd shift job and trying to keep myself awake, I used my imagination and started creating a story of a female mechanic, which I was, finding a dead body underneath the truck she was working on. My father absolutely loved the story and encouraged me to complete it and get it published. I was almost finished with the first draft when my father had a stroke. Encouraging him to get better, I rushed the book to Lulu Publishing without it being edited. My father was able to hold my first novel but was never able to read it; he passed away 2 days later. But it began a passion for me that has not dwindled!

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My Forever Cowboy by Diane J. Reed
Just when you least expect it, love finds you forever.
Photographer Avery Smart refuses to believe in “forever cowboys” after her father died in a tragic rodeo accident, until professional bull rider Grant Hollow decides to shed new light into the darkroom of her heart.

Excerpt

For a moment, all Grant could see was coppery hair with strands of gold highlighted by the sun. He squinted and made out the lovely face of Avery Smart, her brows drawn in concern.

Instantly, she hooked her elbows beneath Grant’s arm pits and proceeded to drag his weight with all her might. When Grant realized what was happening, that he was still in the rodeo arena near a two-thousand-pound bull that hadn’t been driven to the exit pen yet, he stumbled to his feet and turned the tables on Avery. Scooping her into his large arms, he hugged her close and made a mad dash for the fence.

“Good thing you’re light!” he cried, his feet drumming beneath him. A cowboy swung open a nearby gate. Grant rushed through, panting for breath as the cowboy slammed it shut. He held Avery so tightly to his chest, she could feel his heart hammering through his shirt as if he didn’t quite believe they’d made it to safety.

“You’ve heard of Dances with Wolves?” said the announcer. “Looks to me like Grant Hollow was dancing with the photographer! Am I the only who’s noticed he hasn’t put her down yet? Let’s give that cowboy a hand for protecting a lady the old fashioned way.”

The crowd applauded and whistled their approval.

“I’ve never had to clear the arena before I sprinted to the fence before.” Grant smiled, his face so close to Avery’s he could kiss her. The glint in his eye revealed he’d thought about it.

“Clear the arena? What am I, an empty beer can?”Avery replied, unable to hide the warmth that suffused her cheeks. The truth was, his muscled biceps felt heavenly against her body. And from this vantage point, she got an even closer look at his to die-for eyes.

“I didn’t mean it that way.” A smile teased Grant’s lips, which where perilously close to hers. “A woman like you couldn’t be trash if you tried.” He paused, his eyes tracing the amber highlights that perfectly framed her beautiful face. “More like striking gold.” He took in the warm brown of her eyes and the curve of her mouth, which Avery found sexy to the point of excruciating. “Next time, though,” Grant scolded, “I suggest you don’t try to rescue one of your photo subjects. Bulls are non-discriminating—they’ll take out anybody.”

ABOUT THE(1)

USA TODAY bestselling author Diane J. Reed writes happily ever afters with a touch of magic that make you believe in the power of love. Her stories feed the soul with outlaws, mavericks, and dreamers who have big hearts under big skies and dare to risk all for those they cherish. Because love is more than a feeling—it’s the magic that changes everything.

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Say Nothing by Autumn Piper
The best medicine doesn’t always come in pill form, but who knew it could be a scruffy, cranky cowboy?
After escaping from the psycho who held her prisoner for months, Brooke often suffers panic attacks when she tries to speak. When her cousin invites her to recuperate at his friends’ ranch in Colorado and help them care for their twin toddlers, she accepts.
For years since his engagement went belly-up, lead ranch-hand Rowdy has been non-relationship material. He feels a connection with Brooke, though, and she’s able to confide things in him she doesn’t trust her therapist with.
When her successful ex rides back into the picture, Rowdy will have to decide: fight for Brooke, or give her the financially stable future she deserves.

Excerpt:

Her phone vibrated on the nightstand. Weird. Here it was…the clock said after one a.m. She’d ignore it, but who would be texting her in the middle of the night except in an emergency? She kept the throw around her shoulders and picked up her phone.

Rowdy. Huh.

You OK?

She walked back to the window, looked down at his cabin, where a light shone. She texted back, Yes I’m fine but then erased the lie and sent, Are you OK? Why you up in the middle of the night?

He replied, Trouble sleeping. (me) It’ll pass in a couple days though. What about you? Nightmare?

How’d he guess? Well, she had told him she had nightmares. Yes. Flashback. Pretty much ruins a night.

I’m sorry, he texted. And then, If you wanted to tell me about it, I’m all eyes. The goofy-eyed emoji he included made her smile.

She considered. Her cold sweat had nearly dried. The worst of this episode had passed. By morning, details would fade, and she’d only be able to remember bare facts. Which was why Roberta pushed hypnosis, but Brooke kept resisting because she didn’t exactly want to be able to remember those things at all hours of the day. It would be a lot of texting, she told Rowdy.

Worried you’ll wear out your thumbs?

Throwing down a challenge. She hadn’t shared any more details than the police and prosecutor demanded, though she knew court was coming and she’d have to type replies to the attorneys’ questions if she didn’t have her speech back by then.

So she told him every detail she could recall about that day.

ABOUT THE(1)

Born and raised in itty-bitty Rifle, Colorado, Autumn Piper studiously avoided trouble…but is now inclined toward it, particularly in her novels. She thinks the best things in life are funny, and the runners-up, romantic.

An admitted carb addict, Autumn writes, edits, referees her two college kids (who room together), a cat, a box turtle with a huge personality, one husband and many supersize houseplants, and does the cooking and cleaning when forced to.

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Peyton’s Kiss by Ann Anders
No one ever promised Stella Fairchild that life would be fair. If it was, then her best friend wouldn’t be dying. A little girl wouldn’t be losing her mother. And a lonely cowboy would be ready for love. Under the blue skies of Colorado, however, fate has its own ideas. And maybe, just maybe, silver linings could be found hiding in the storm.

Excerpt:
He didn’t laugh at her. “I never get tired of it. The open space, the sky. But it can also be dangerous if it turns on you. Don’t come up here alone, okay? Storms move in quickly. If you don’t know what you’re doing you can find yourself in trouble real fast.” He rubbed Hermes’ neck fondly. “Hell, you can get into trouble even when you do know what you’re doing.”
Stella shivered at his words and watched Corinne and Misty disappear over the rise up ahead. “Two sides to every coin.”
He wouldn’t say anything. He’d think her words over first.
And then Hermes sidled up beside her, pressing her leg into Pickles. Peyton’s hand grasped the back of her neck and… finally.
Her hat tumbled down her back at the same time Peyton’s mouth covered hers. At first it was just their lips, meeting, joining, but then the tip of his tongue coaxed her mouth open and she couldn’t help but drop her reins and take hold of Peyton’s wrists. A current of emotions swept through her as she twisted to meet him.
He slowed the kiss. “Easy girl.” He whispered against her lips. Stella felt Peyton set the reins back into her hands before Hermes stepped away.

ABOUT THE(1)
Married to the same man for over 25 years, I am a mother to three children and two Miniature Wiener dogs After owning a business and experiencing considerable success, my husband and I got caught in the financial crisis and lost everything; our business, our home, even our car.
At this point, I put my B.A. in Poly Sci to use and took work as a waitress and bartender. Unwilling to give up on a professional life, I simultaneously went back to college and obtained a degree in Energy Management. And then the energy market dropped off. And then my dog died. I can only be grateful for this series of unfortunate events, for, with nothing to lose and completely demoralized, I sat down and began to write the romance novels which had until then, existed only my imagination. I am happy to have found my place in life. Finally.

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Midnight Ride by D’Ann Lindun
Can they escape peril and fall in love?
When Brynn Lockwood and her five-year-old daughter Brooke decide to camp in the Colorado Mountains the last thing they expect is to be taken hostage by a gunman. After suffering a devastating shooting, Sawyer Bennet moves to Black Mountain, Colorado, to recover. As a Sheriff’s Posse member, he is called out to find a dangerous criminal, but loses his heart instead.

Excerpt:

“Damn it, I left my hat out there.”

“That can be replaced. You can’t,” Brynn said.

The warmth in her eyes and tone caused him to pause. “Thanks.”

“It’s true,” she insisted. “Now, how do we get out of here?”

He held his hands over the fire. “How’s Brooke?”

“Pretty sick for her to sleep through gunfire. I’m worried.” Fear flashed in her eyes, and without thinking, he stepped close and took her in his arms. She fit exactly right. Almost as tall as his own six feet, soft breasts crushed against his chest, long legs he could imagine tangled with his…

“Don’t,” he said, shaking off the sexy image. “She’ll be okay.”

“She has to be.” A shudder ran through her and he ached to make all this go away. For half a cent, he’d go out and put himself back in the line of fire if it would get Brynn and Brooke out of here alive.

“I think we need to make a run for it,” he said finally. “Maybe under the cover of darkness….”

“The trail between here and my camp isn’t dangerous, as long as you don’t make a wrong turn like I did,” she said slowly. “If we did that in the dark, it could be fatal.”

“The trail from here to Durango is pretty straight, but it’s across a long, open stretch. Out in the open for a good part of it.”

“It’s taking a big risk,” she said. “Taking a midnight ride.”

“Yes.” He wouldn’t sugarcoat it. “But so is staying here.”

ABOUT THE(1)

Falling in love with romance novels the summer before sixth grade, D’Ann Lindun never thought about writing one until many years later when she took a how-to class at her local college. She was hooked! She began writing and never looked back. Forty-eight manuscripts and numerous awards later, she is an Amazon bestseller! Romance appeals to D’Ann because there’s just something so satisfying about writing a book guaranteed to have a happy ending. Her particular favorites usually feature cowboys and the women who love them.

D’Ann loves to hear from readers! Please contact her at:

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Street team—D’Ann’s Country Girls

Becoming Charlie – Review

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My name is Charlie, and I’m invisible. Well, not literally, but until one of the most popular guys at Eden High saved my life, nobody even knew I existed. Sean Reese gave me more than my life back that night. He gave me friendship.
And maybe, just maybe, I can save him, too.

Will he still be my friend when he finds out my secret?

 

 

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VANESSA KINGS'

5 of 5 stars

I loved it. The journey that Charlie and Sean start after she was bullied by some of the “popular” kids of her school, it’s one to cherish. They became best friends, no doubt of it, and it changed Charlie’s life completely.

It’s not only a sweet story about 2 friends, it’s also a tool to open the eyes of all those girls that think being invisible will make them go through high school easier. Sean shows to Charlie that is not the best way and that she will regret a lot of things when she’s older. He helps her to discover herself, to regain a part of her life that was lost and to become the girl that she always wanted to be even when she didn’t know she wanted it.

I’m currently reading the part 2 in wattpad, and waiting the full release to complete this beautiful story.

ABOUT THE(1)

26734454_1642836619088407_4934065906267794955_n“Far from crazy, but equally as far from normal. There are voices in my head and I occasionally talk to them.” – Kristie Haigwood

K. S. Haigwood is the author of the Save My Soul, Eternal Island and Moonrising series. By day, she is a CNC Machinist, but by night and weekend, she saves the world or destroys it in a single bound, depending on what mood she is in and if she has had her coffee. In addition to being an award winner for the ‘Life Changing Read Award’, she has also been nominated twice for Best Indie Book 2016 in the Paranormal category.

Characterization is one of K.S. Haigwood’s strongest points. You can understand each characters’ predicaments and you can almost foresee their reactions. But. There’s always a but, with this author, because Haigwood can deliver enough twists and turns to turn a tornado on its head. Just as you think you’ve figured where the story is going next, she’s duped you again.

The whole of her novels are littered with good chuckle moments, and even in the darkest hour, the thinnest hint of a silver lining is still visible among the clouds.

Shock therapy for body and soul, delivered at a hundred miles an hour with the humor and charisma of a trendsetter, Haigwood is certain to be hailed the new wonder-drug to cure all ills.FacebookButtonTwitterButtonVisitWebsiteAdd-to-Goodreads

 

Interview with Author Kyle Autumn

Our guest this week is Author Kyle Autumn, she is the author of sexy contemporary romances that will melt your heart and your panties.

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She also writes erotic short stories series that will likely melt your panties more than your heart. She loves chocolate and pajamas. Can’t be bothered to brush her hair most days. Can always be bothered to write her pants—er, pajama bottoms—off.

 

Let’s see what she answered to my questions!!!

Please tell us a little about yourself.

Hi there! My name is Kyle and I write books! And short stories. They’re written to melt your hearts…and your panties. 😉 I’ve been writing for a while now, but I started publishing this year. I have big plans for the rest of the year and 2018. And I love binge-watching TV shows. It’s a problem. Ha!

voyeur1How did you come up with the title of “The Voyeur”?

That really gets at the heart of the story arc. There are six short stories that make up this series about a woman who catches her neighbors in the act. But she doesn’t stop watching, and it leads to all sorts of steamy fun. 😉

What is your favorite character from the Thirsty Thursday Series?

It’s really hard to decide. All four of the main women have a bit of me in them, and I really enjoyed writing them! I think the one I loved writing the most was Patti and Zo’s story, “The Girlfriend’s Secret.” But I also liked writing Lyra a lot. The men were all fun too. Blake was probably my favorite of them. 🙂

33973319What genre do you enjoy writing the most and why?

I looooove romance so much. Everything about love makes me happy, so I really enjoy telling stories about couples falling in love. And their bedroom time is fun to explore too!

How would you describe your writing style?

I like to be straightforward, but I also like to add some “flowery” prose in there too. It isn’t needed, but I find that to be my voice. I very much like song lyrics, and I wish I’d gotten into writing those. They’re much shorter. Ha! But I enjoy writing in that style.

voyeur2What authors inspire your writing?

K Webster, Pepper Winters, Aly Martinez… So many. 🙂

What would you like to be if you weren’t a writer?

Oh wow. I honestly have no idea. A professional binge-watcher? Ha! I can’t imagine a life without writing.

What are you working on now?

I’m currently releasing The Voyeur series, but I’m working on a novel about a woman whose sexual fantasy comes true but leads to deadly trouble—and love. It’s been fun!

34109144Do you have any advice for new authors?

Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Don’t try to be anyone else. Write. Finish projects. And don’t worry about perfection. You can’t please everyone, so please yourself. 🙂National_Thank_You_Day

 

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Author Ditter Kellen Spotlight and Facebook LIVE Interview

71VPN81jglL._UX250_Ditter Kellen is the bestselling author of the Enigma Series. To say she’s addicted to reading is an understatement. Her eBook reader is an extension of her and holds many of her fantasies and secrets. It’s filled with dragons, shifters, vampires, ghosts and many more jaw-dropping characters who keep her entertained on a daily basis.

Ditter’s love of paranormal and outrageous imagination have conspired together to bring her where she is today…sitting in front of her computer allowing them free rein. Writing is her passion, what she was born to do. I hope you will enjoy reading her stories as much as she loves spinning them.

Ditter resides in Florida with her husband and many unique farm animals. She adores French fries and her phone is permanently attached to her ear.

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Watch this interview from yesterday! Ditter answered a lot of questions about her books and works in progress as well as her author career and her passion for writing. I really enjoyed it and it made me want to get ALL of her books!

Also, look at those gorgeous covers! Don’t they make you want to just dig in into those stories?

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Ditter’s latest series, Enigma, was praised by reviewers and reached the top rankings on its category, being one of the best Romance books lately and offering a rich story that not only focus on the main couple but also provides an entertaining read about adventures, paranormal situations and the HEA that we all seek when reading Romance books!

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Doctor Abbigail Sutherland is used to being alone. Between twelve hour shifts at the hospital and looking after her eccentric father, she has very little time for much else. Until an unexpected call one night, sends her racing to the lab where she discovers a secret that could change the world forever.

Hauke awakens after an underwater explosion, strapped to a bed and on his way to a site known as Area 51. His only hope for survival lies in Abbie Sutherland, the beautiful doctor that saved his life. Amidst a deadly virus, seemingly impossible to stop, and a corrupt Government placing a price on their heads, Hauke and Abbie run for their lives, uncovering conspiracies, deceptions, and a love that won’t be denied…

Recommend reading the books in order. This is not a serial, and it does have a happy ever after, but the story moves forward with a new hero and heroine in the next book.

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Interview with Author Annabelle Anders

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This week our guest is the gorgeous Annabelle Anders (just look at this dress!).

She writes Historical Romance, and is here today to tell us a bit about herself and her books.

Let’s see what she answered to my questions!!!

Please tell us a little about yourself.

Married to the same man for over 25 years, I am a mother to
three children and two Miniature Wiener dogs After owning a business and experiencing considerable success, my husband and I got caught in the financial crisis
and lost everything; our business, our home, even our car.
At this point,
I put my B.A. in Poly Sci to use and took work as a waitress and bartender.
Unwilling to give up on a professional life, I simultaneously went back to college and obtained a degree in Energy Management.
And then the energy market dropped off.
And then my dog died.
I can only be grateful for this series of unfortunate events, for, with nothing to lose and completely demoralized, I sat down and began to write the romance novels which had until then, existed only my imagination.
I am happy to have found my place in life.
Finally.

unnamedHow did you come up with the title of “Hell Hath No Fury”?

I first was going to call it “A Lady Scorned” giving it the obvious Historical sounding title, and in Hindsight, that might have been a good idea. I say this because some people aren’t aware that it IS a HISTORICAL NOVEL. A few of my reviewers opened it up and were like, “OH NO! I don’t read Historical’s!” The happy aspect of this is that they read it anyway and said they really enjoyed it!

Anyway, This series flips the normal trope of debutante’s seeking husbands onto it’s head. Cecily (My Heroine) is trying to get rid of a husband… (as is my character in Book 2). So I decided to call the series “The Devil’s Debutantes.” Hell Hath No Fury then seemed to be the best title. Book Two is likely going to be titled Hell in a Hand Basket.

What is your favorite character of “Hell Hath No Fury”?

My favorite character is likely, always going to be the heroine I’m writing about right now. I say this because I do not like reading stories where I don’t like the heroine.

unnamed2What genre do you enjoy writing the most and why?

The only genre I write is Regency (Late Regency.) Maybe someday I’ll switch that up… but no plans for that at the time.

How would you describe your writing style?

Journalistic. Easy reading. I don’t use a lot of fancy words. I simply want to tell my story in a fun and romantic way. Although my books have tragedies in them I want them to be fun and light hearted. I think a good story can be a bit of a rollercoaster ride… kind of like life.

What authors inspire your writing?

Mary Balogh. Jennifer Cruise (Contemporary) and Lisa Kleypas.

unnamed3What would you like to be if you weren’t a writer?

A singer. I’m a dork, because, yes, I LOVE Karaoke. LOL

What are you working on now?

I have three other projects in the works right now.

Of course, Blue Tulip and I are working to release the follow up to HELL HATH NO FURY, which is titled HELL IN A HAND BASKET and hopefully we can get that out before the end of the year.

I’m also working with another publisher, The Wild Rose Press, on a four book series which I finished writing last year. It’s called Lord Love a Lady and is Pure Regency Romance FUN! I’m so excited about this series because, I think, unlike many series that I’ve read, the books get better and better as you get deeper into it. The last book is the best book I’ve ever written (In my opinion) And I can hardly WAIT to release it! These should start coming out, I think, in early 2018.

And the book I’m writing right now will likely be my first Self Published work. It’s the first book of a Regency Romance series where the heroines all suffer from some sort of mild Anxiety disorder. The first book is called the “Perfect Debutante” and the series is titled “Perfect Ladies.” It’s tricky because I want to handle the subject matter sensitively but also have some fun. Ironically enough, this book will likely be the next one to release!

Do you have any advice for new authors?

Keep writing. Send queries and manuscripts but throughout the process of being published keep writing. I say this because many Publishers take a LONG time getting your book out and you’ll stay ahead of the game if you have other projects coming right behind your first…

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The Last Suttee – Book Tour

NEW RELEASE…

“You must come at once if you want to stop the suttee from happening again…” This phone message summons Kumud Kuthiyala back to Neela Nagar, the blue town of her youth, and the shackled life she thought she had left behind forever…

As a nine-year-old, Kumud witnessed the brutal and horrifying suttee ritual when her beloved aunt immolated herself on the burning pyre of her dead husband. Years later, Kumud summoned the courage to escape the isolated and primitive town of her youth to start a new life in Ambayu, a metropolitan city. She began as office help at Save Girls Soul Orphanage Center and progressed to become its director. At SGSO Center, she becomes a warrior for women’s education and equal rights. She teaches young women to protect themselves from outmoded practices and rituals that victimize women.

Then a phone call informs Kumud that the suttee of a sixteen-year-old is inevitable. She has vowed that she will never let it happen again. Still haunted by her aunt’s suttee, she leaves everything behind, including her love, Shekhar Roy, to end the barbaric custom that scarred her for life, and to save the young bride from committing suttee.

As Kumud travels back to the town of her youth, long-buried memories resurface and force her to remember the life from which she fled. The town that greets her is full of contradictions. It has electricity and clean water, and a new school is open to low castes, yet superstition and prejudice abound. How can she convince the town that their centuries-old tradition is cruel and barbaric, that a widowed young woman deserves the right to live? Can she change the minds of the townspeople and the Five Elders before it’s too late?

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“A stunning story of one woman’s struggle to stop the ritual of suttee. The novel weaves centuries old traditions with the stark march toward twenty-first century. It progresses with surprising plot twists, a ticking clock, and stubborn and powerful antagonist who challenges the protagonist, Kumud, to stand up to the orthodox and close-minded community”  – Bestselling author, Kathleen Shoop 

Read an excerpt HERE

About the author
An author, artist, world-traveler and the founder of the Mindful Writers Group, Madhu Bazaz Wangu was a professor of arts and religions of India before becoming a full time writer. She has a doctorate in the Phenomenology of Religions from the University of Pittsburgh and a post-doctoral fellowship from the Harvard University. For twenty-five years, she taught at the University of Pittsburgh and Chatham College in Pennsylvania, Wellesley and Wheaton Colleges in Massachusetts, and Rhode Island College.

In 1997, Dr. Wangu voyaged around the world with students and faculty members from various American Universities for the Semester-at-Sea program. She loved the experience so much that each year she has been revisiting places of historical significance in different countries, observing the cultures, meeting the people and enjoying their cuisine.

In 2010, she founded the Mindful Writers Group, and in 2015 started a second one. She encourages writers of all levels and genres to delve deeper in their work by body-mind-heart meditation. Her CD, Meditations for Mindful Writers was released in 2011. She guides writers in meditation and writing marathons. Twice each year, Mindful Writers Groups gather for writing retreats. There, surrounded by nature, they practice sitting and walking meditations in-between long writing sessions.

Madhu B. Wangu has published numerous essays and four books on Hindu and Buddhist goddesses and Indian religions. She has held five one-person art exhibitions in India and US. Her collection, Chance Meetings: Stories About Cross-Cultural Collisions and Compassion, was published in 2015 and her debut novel, The Immigrant Wife: Her Spiritual Journey, in 2016. Currently, she is writing her second novel, The Last Suttee and a guidebook for mindful writing.

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VANESSA KINGS'

The Last Suttee gripped me from the first page. From then on it did not let go. Not only is it a book that you can’t put down, but it also has a powerful message, dealing with ancient Indian rituals. The images, though strong, convey these practices which have been recently outlawed in a sense that makes you think how these customs came to be.

Through the novel’s protgonist, Kumud, a voice is created that stands not only against the barbaric ritual, but also resonates to our time in each woman’s struggle.

Why I Wrote the Novel, THE LAST SUTTEE

On the morning of September 5, 1987, I was going through the Hillman Library card catalogue at the University of Pittsburgh when a friend stopped by. She told me something I would never forget. She said that an eighteen-year-old Indian woman, named Roop Kanwar, had immolated herself on the pyre of her dead husband. I was dumbfounded. Suttee in the twentieth century? It couldn’t be. But The New York Times confirmed the news. The ritual, known as suttee, was witnessed by the townspeople and thousands more came to see it from nearby villages and towns. When the news was leaked the following day, the town was swarmed for days by Indian and international journalists. I was stunned and speechless, my legs laden with lead. At that frozen moment, the seed for this book was planted.

The kernel stayed dormant, but the incident continued to sear like a wound at the back of my mind. The distress was raw, but I was not yet emotionally ready to write about what had happened and how it had affected me. In the ensuing years, I trawled libraries, bookstores, and the Internet, learning about the history of suttee and the cultural and religious traditions in which it is rooted. I studied records of the shrines dedicated to women who had committed suttee. I read the history and mythology of the namesake goddess, spelled Sati. Critically and carefully I analyzed the photographs of Sati temples and studied the engravings, drawings, and paintings of the goddess Sati and the suttee ritual that had been made by British, European, and Indian artists and travelers.

Suttee is a centuries-old Hindu ritual. This ancient belief still persists in some remote corners in India. The belief is if a widow cremates herself with her dead husband, the couple will live in heaven as they did on earth. Furthermore, such a sacrifice guarantees a place in heaven for seven generations for both sides of the family.

The ritual is rooted in the myths of two goddesses: Sati, Shiva’s wife, and Sita, Rama’s wife. Here are summaries of the myths:

Goddess Sati is the daughter of the high priest Daksha. Shiva, the world renouncer, is so awed by her yogic skills and asceticism that he grants her a boon. Sati asks to marry him. He agrees. Daksha dislikes Shiva. He finds Shiva unconventional and unkempt. Despite her father’s opposition Sati marries Shiva and they live in his mountain abode in Himalayas. 

Daksha plans a great sacrifice. He invites all the important divine beings, except Shiva. Sati feels disgraced by the way in which her father has treated her husband. On the day of the great sacrifice, she throws herself in the fire pit meant for the sacrifice. And burns herself to death. When Shiva discovers what has happened to his wife, he is outraged. He pulls out Sati’s half-burnt body, holds it on his shoulders, and in anguish and lamentations whirls around the world. 

Goddess Sita is an ideal Hindu wife. Her husband, Rama, is the center of her life. His welfare, reputation, and wishes are most important to her. One day, the demon king Ravana abducts her and takes her to his golden palace. He lies to her that he has killed Rama. Sita is horrified. She moans and tells him that it must have been her fault that her husband was killed. She warns Ravana she could burn him to ashes with the fire of her chastity, but she won’t because she did not have her husband’s permission. 

In the end, Rama defeats Ravana and brings Sita home. There he severely tests her loyalty because she has spent days under the control of another man. Sita is shocked at such an accusation. She protests her innocence. She says she has remained wholly devoted and completely faithful to him. Rama persists. 

Grieved by his false accusation, Sita asks for a funeral pyre to prove her innocence. A pyre is built, and Sita stands atop it with hands folded. Agni, the god of fire, refuses to harm her because she is innocent and pure. She returns to Rama unscathed. Yet he banishes her to a forest. 

Sati and Sita are faithful and chaste wives, and they are devoted to their husbands. The lives of these goddesses are defined by their husbands. Although their dedication and chastity are exemplary, they pay a heavy price for being wives. In both myths, fire plays an important role. Whereas Sati voluntarily kills herself, Sita is saved by Agni. Their god/husbands are alive when the women jump into the sacrificial pit or on the funeral pyre. But ordinary women’s lives are no myths. When a woman is forced into being a suttee, neither her husband nor the god of fire will save her.

The suttee ritual was outlawed by British Raj in 1829. The ritual was described as “heinous rite” when cases surfaced about widows being tied to their husband’s pyre even after being intoxicated with bhang or opium. Many reports of widows escaping and being rescued by strangers were also recorded. Still, more than a century later, scattered instances of the custom have been reported, such as Savitri Soni’s in 1973 and Charan Shah’s in 1999.

The most notorious and controversial case, however, was of Roop Kanwar. Indian people either publicly defended Roop’s action or declared that she had been murdered. Following the outcry that followed Roop Kanwar’s suttee, the government of India enacted the Rajasthan Sati Prevention Ordinance on October 1, 1987. The law makes it not only illegal to commit suttee but also illegal to glorify the ritual or coerce a woman to commit suttee. Glorification includes erecting a shrine to honor the dead woman or converting the place where immolation took place into a pilgrimage site. Derivation of any income from such activities is also banned. The law makes no distinction between a passive observer and an active promoter. Everyone is held equally guilty.

The seed for writing a book inspired by Roop Kanwar’s suttee finally sprouted in November 2009, when I wrote its first draft as part of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), a nonprofit internet organization that supports writers in an effort to complete the initial draft of a novel in one month.

It would take me seven more years to finalize the draft.

The story continued to incubate. I developed the characters, sketched the settings, wrote the narrative and dialogue. But to birth a healthy novel and bring it to life, I had to experience the environment in which Roop Kanwar was born, lived, and died. I needed to converse with the people who allowed it to happen. I wanted to know the antagonist and protagonist’s viewpoints.

I visited India for a month in 2013 for that purpose. I went to the small towns of Deorala, where Roop Kanwar committed suttee, and Jhunjhunu, home of an imposing marble temple dedicated to faithful women who sacrifice their young lives immediately after their husbands’ deaths. The visit stirred feelings of remorse and wonder. Why did people celebrate sacrificial death? How does blind faith hide behind the stunning structure? Domestic and temple architecture, middle and high schools, ancient mansions with bedroom walls made of mirror-mosaics (some now converted to five-star hotels) were breathtakingly beautiful. The local flora and fauna were intriguing, and men and women’s attire colorful. I fell in love with the place. But I wasn’t there as a tourist. I was there to fulfill a quest, to do something about an event that jolted the core of my being.

Meeting with the people of Deorala opened my mind to the fact that a community’s worldview can be so different from my own. Yet my sorrow and awe about Roop Kanwar and my feelings about other widows like her were not alleviated by talking to Roop’s father-in-law, her brother-in-law and his wife, or their neighbors. Nor did I blame them after visiting her neglected and unkempt suttee site. However, the visit helped me better understand the point of view of the town residents. A magnificent temple dedicated to the goddess Sati, which locals honor and regard highly, further clarified their worldview.

My interview with Roop Kanwar’s father-in-law took place in the verandah outside the room where Roop lived with her husband. This was the room where she dressed herself in bridal attire and decked herself in jewelry before following her husband’s dead body to the cremation site. The room has been turned into a shrine, and Roop has become an ishtadevi, a manifestation of Narayani Satimata, a local goddess higher in the pantheon of the thousands of village goddesses of India.

When I asked to go to where Roop performed suttee, her father-in-law declined to walk along, but he did ask other men to take me there. I treaded the path that evidently Roop Kanwar, most probably intoxicated with bhang, walked with the help of two women. They followed her husband’s litter, which four male relatives carried. I was told a lamenting crowd of men, women, and children followed the dead body and Roop as they headed toward her husband’s funeral pyre.

Facing the desolate ground where the ritual had taken place twenty-six years earlier, I shed tears of pain for an eighteen-year-old who didn’t know better, and who no one came to rescue.

The characters in this novel are fictional, but the setting is historic. Writing it does not feel like redemption, for I still ache for the women of the world who are engulfed in outmoded traditions, who are uneducated and dependent. Women with so much potential to offer their families, their communities, and, most importantly, to themselves.

Undoubtedly, the world over, women have made tremendous progress. Yet, the path to elevating women’s social status has many roadblocks, and the process is slow. I sincerely hope The Last Suttee not only helps remove a block or two but also adds substance to the process of change.

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018836-glossy-silver-icon-symbols-shapes-square-2 I received this book to review through Beck Valley Books Book Tours, I have volunteered to share my review and all the opinions are 100% my own.

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