#Review – Some Like It Wild by M. Leighton – @mleightonbooks @BerkleyRomance #5StarRead

Some Like It Wild by M. Leighton




First was The Wild Ones. Now, the next book in M. Leighton’s Wild Ones series… How far will a good girl go for the bad boy she loves? Laney Holt is a preacher’s daughter. A good girl. Her only goal was to get married, have babies, and live happily ever after, just like her parents. Only that didn’t happen. The two people closest to her betrayed her, and Laney’s dreams came crashing down. Now she’s left with an empty space she doesn’t know how to fill. Until she meets Jake Theopolis, a daredevil with a death wish who has heartbreaker written all over him. Jake has no interest in thinking beyond the here and now. All he wants out of life is the next rush, the next “feel-good” thing to keep his mind off the pain of his past. His latest rush? Showing Laney there’s more to life than being a good girl—and that going bad can be so much fun. Her only concern now is how she can ever hope to satisfy the wild side of a boy like Jake. She’s looking forward to trying. And so is Jake. If you love The Wild Ones, you’ll be just as wild for M. Leighton’s Bad Boys series which includes Down to You, Up to Me, and Everything for Us.


“Some like it wild, but not me. At least not forever.” ~Laney



Review by Kayla

Grade: A (4.5 out of 5 Stars)

I really enjoyed Some like wild. I have always liked M. Leighton’s style of writing. She did an awesome job on this book. It was well worth the wait for it. I loved the Wild ones so I knew that this book would not disappoint. Laney is the daughter of a preacher. She is a good girl, and her goal in life is to get married and have babies and live that happily ever after. But that doesn’t happen for Laney. People that Laney has always looked to ruin her dreams and now she doesn’t know what to do and she feels very empty. Then Laney meets Jake. He is a risk taker and a heartbreaker. Jake is a living in the now person, and what makes him feel good. When he meets Laney, he wants to show her that life is more than just being a good girl and that life is worth living and taking risks. She is willing to give it a try and so is Jake. Laney had a lot of tension with her father but I think that was understandable under that circumstances. Her father wanted her to get back with her ex fiancé but she didn’t want to tell him that he had cheated on her. No daughter wants to have to tell her dad that. It is hurtful. I really enjoyed this book. It was well written and was a sweet and good read.

**I was given a copy of Some like it wild by Sunshine and Mountains book blog for an honest review.

#Review – Pack Up The Moon by Rachel Herron @penguinusa @RachaelHerron A #touching story of #life and #rebuilding and second chances! A #MustRead



NAL Trade Paperback Original / March 2014

A poignant novel about loss, lies, and the unbreakable bonds of family.

Three years after a horrible tragedy took her son and tore her family apart, artist Kate Monroe is beginning to pick up the pieces of her life and move on. At a gala showcasing her triumphant return to the art world, Kate’s world is rocked again when the daughter she gave up for adoption twenty-two years ago introduces herself.

Pree is the child Kate never knew and never forgot. But Pree has questions that Kate isn’t sure she’s ready to answer. For one thing, she never told Pree’s father, her high school sweetheart and ex-husband, Nolan, that they had a daughter. For another, Kate hasn’t spoken to Nolan for three years, not since the accident which took their nine-year-old son from them. But to keep Pree from leaving forever, Kate will have to confront the secrets that have haunted her since her son died and discover if the love of her family is strong enough to survive even the most heartbreaking of betrayals…

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Grade: A (5 stars)

This was a lovely gift. I was excited to receive this book from Penguin to review, just reading the synopsis, but when I started the actual book is when I felt really lucky. This is such a touching, emotional story based around really realistic characters who people can completely relate to. It’s all about life’s changes, and if it’s too late. When is too late? Herron does an outstanding job in this novel really showing us true characters with real struggles. This is the first book by this author I’ve read but I love her voice. She’s the perfect storyteller for this story, and she really find the perfect balance in some really tough topics. You’re faced with a lot of broken people and dark topics in this book, but Herron manages to show us the beauty in the brokenness, and the hope in the hopeless. You start to really see beyond what’s expected into a deeper, more beautiful story. You see how one choice can affect so many people, and you see just how people choose to handle that . You’ve got a mother struggling with the death of her son, and the loss of the daughter she never knew. The daughter trying to figure out her life without a mom, and a Father who never knew about his daughter, and has been crushed, not only by the loss of his son, but the loss of his marriage as well. Nolen is one of those characters that you see beauty shining from brokeness, he’s a convicted felon, gave up everything that was his life before, and has fallen all the way to the bottom, but his struggle and courage is something so beyond touching. I’d gladly read another book by Herron in the future because her way with characters is exactly what we need more of. Complex, confused, broken but beautiful.  The author allows us to see beyond what’s in front of our faces in this novel to what’s really there. There’s such a wonderful theme of forgiveness and healing in this book, and it really brings tears to your eyes LITERALLY, I cried. I suggest this novel to people I meet in bookstores now, my book club, and friends and family. It’s beautiful and haunting and it’s perfect. Thank you Rachel Herron!

*I was given a copy of this book by Penguin to read and review. All opinions are 100% my own.


About The Author:


Rachael Herron is the internationally bestselling author of the Cypress Hollow series (HarperCollins/Random House Australia) and of the memoir, A Life in Stitches (Chronicle). Her newest novel, Pack Up The Moon, will be available in March 2014 from Penguin (USA) and Random House Australia (NZ/AUST). Rachael received her MFA in writing from Mills College and is a 911 fire/medical dispatcher when she’s not scribbling. She lives with her wife, Lala, in Oakland, California, where they have more animals and instruments than are probably advisable. Rachael is struggling to learn the accordion and can probably play along with you on the ukulele. She’s a New Zealander as well as an American. She’s been known to knit.

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The Wicked We Have Done – Guest Post & Review #getWicked @sarahharian @BerkleyRomance #NewRelease #MustRead


Guys, I’m totally stoked to share with you today’s blog! 🙂

A guest post from Sarah Harian, author of The Wicked We Have Done ON RELEASE DAY! This book blew me away, literally, like off my chair! She’s a phenomenal talent, and I just cannot wait to see what her career holds for us readers! 🙂

As I was reading this lovely book, I kept wondering hmmm.. .this should have a kick ass playlist.. and LO & BEHOLD! IT does, and I’m getting to share it with you today!  How lucky are we!? But before I do, a little about this book, that you’ll need to pick up, like today. 🙂



Darkly suspenseful and completely unexpected, The Wicked We Have Done is a debut author’s thrilling new take on New Adult romance.

Twenty-two-year-old Evalyn Ibarra never expected to be an accused killer and experimental prison test subject. A year ago, she was a normal college student. Now she’s been sentenced to a month in the compass room—an advanced prison obstacle course designed by the government to execute justice.

If she survives, the world will know she’s innocent.

Locked up with nine notorious and potentially psychotic criminals, Evalyn must fight the prison and dismantle her past to stay alive. But the system prized for accuracy appears to be killing at random.

She doesn’t plan on making friends.

She doesn’t plan on falling in love, either.


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My Review:

Grade: A+ (Five STRONG stars)

HOLY COW! This book… yes, it drew me in, and yes, it had a bit of a Hunger Games feel, but seriously! *claps hands* GO SARAH! This book is so interesting and fresh, I am so glad to have gotten the chance to read it! I ❤ NEW IDEAS, and this book is one of them! As I’ve said in other reviews, romance books for me aren’t a grab, but add in a killer plot line and you’ve got me hooked! I love romance as long as I have a story to go along with it, and Sarah has done this. I feel as though the Compass Room was such an interesting idea, testing the morality of an accused killer, somewhat like Divergent’s testing, it really pulled out some wonderful character building as the story went on, and really gave us a new idea for a justice system.

Evalyn has to have her thoughts examined, all while playing a sort of game that will determine if she gets freedom or death. Her, along with other young people, who I must say, the author did a good job pulling quiet a few of them out of the background, and fleshing them out, even if they weren’t the main character, and I love to see that! The author really took a genre and concept that has been flying off the shelves for YA, and crafting into something deeper & stronger for the NA genre, and I’ve got to say, I was impressed.

Some people don’t like seeing books in the same vein as others, but honestly, it’s a theme, and there’s no rule that says author’s can’t play with it. Hunger Games pulled from Battle Royale, and so on and so forth, and I feel like yelling, “DON’T JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS THEME,” when I see people complaining.  Sarah does an outstanding job putting her personal creative spin on this genre, and I adored it. The character’s had a really intangible strength to them, in the face of what they were undergoing, and I did think that you really pull the most from characters when you put them in situations like The Compass Room.  She focuses on the story, over the romance, and doesn’t throw in any clichéd love triangle moments. Once you pick this book up, you’ll keep reading… it’s well written, with a lot of thought behind it, and it shines as a debut novel for Sarah Harian! I’m excited to see more from her!


Guest Post by Sarah – #GetWicked Playlist! 🙂

(As I run off to add these to my phone, and grab the book again!)

The Wicked We Have Done playlist is compilation of angsty and mostly dark songs. Since I have a very difficult time listening to music with lyrics while writing (my attention span is embarrassingly short), these songs resonated me while I was brainstorming—either in the car on my way to work or walking my dog. Here is my list of creepy, sad, and intense tracks for The Wicked We Have Done:

Spotify Playlist:

“Seven Devils” by Florence + The Machine: This song is the ultimate creepy. I bought Florence’s album right when it came out, around the same time I was drafting TWWHD, and this song become instant fodder for me. I love how ghostly and chilling it is. It really parallels the book in a sense that the dark pasts of all of the characters are rebirthing.

“End of Me” by A Day to Remember: This song reflects a lot of the darkness of Evalyn’s past and losing those she cares deeply about. Instead of reflecting the grief of her loss, it reflects the anger she feels behind being abandoned.

“New Tricks” by Great Northern: Eerie and whimsical, this track is reminiscent of the strange horrors the characters face while in the forest of the Compass Room. It also parallels the moment when Evalyn decides to take matters into her own hands.

“Sink” by Brand New: This song is a delicious bundle of angst. It’s ragey and twisted. I feel like it represents the states of mind of all of my characters in the Compass Room, and the lengths they go to help each other when it comes to survival.

“Peace of Mind” by The Jezabels: When I first heard this song, I was in the process of revising a death scene. I cried, obviously. I think this song gives meaning to the little hope that the inmates have when they start making relationships with each other, and the refusal to believe that friends and lovers could die at any point within the prison.

“Come Clarity” by In Flames: I’ve loved this song for a long, long time. To me, it is about reflection, the presence of someone new, and their ability to erase the nightmare of the past.

“Millstone” by Eisley: This song IS Evalyn, particularly the line, “There’s not a moment to relive my time and space/ There’s not a moment to undo anything”. It encompasses her confusion and heartache in both The Wicked We Have Done and the sequel A Vault of Sins.

Don’t you love this?!  Shout out! Tell me if you’ve read the book, or if you love any of these songs!  I promise you, fans of NA Romance, The Hunger Games or even Thrillers, will love this book! I’ve still got it’s hook in me, and I can’t seem to shake it! So I’ll be reading it again! 🙂


About The Author:

Sarah Harian grew up in the foothills of Yosemite and received her B.A. and M.F.A. from Fresno State University. When not writing, she is usually hiking some mountain or another in the Sierras, playing video games with her husband, or rough-housing with her dog.

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#AFallofMarigolds – @SusanMeissner – What an outstanding piece! Two time periods, two ladies, #unbelieveablytouching! @penguinusa


I was luckily enough to get a copy of this book from Penguin, to read and review as a part of a blog tour, but in my scatterbrained mind, I MISSED THE TOUR! Of course, that always tends to happen when I LOVED the book I’m reading, so I couldn’t let it pass without praising this wonderful, touching story, and letting people know what a good choice this book is!



A beautiful scarf, passed down through the generations, connects two women who learn that the weight of the world is made bearable by the love we give away….

September 1911. On Ellis Island in New York Harbor, nurse Clara Wood cannot face returning to Manhattan, where the man she loved fell to his death in the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. Then, while caring for a fevered immigrant whose own loss mirrors hers, she becomes intrigued by a name embroidered onto the scarf he carries…and finds herself caught in a dilemma that compels her to confront the truth about the assumptions she’s made. Will what she learns devastate her or free her? 

September 2011. On Manhattan’s Upper West Side, widow Taryn Michaels has convinced herself that she is living fully, working in a charming specialty fabric store and raising her daughter alone. Then a long-lost photograph appears in a national magazine, and she is forced to relive the terrible day her husband died in the collapse of the World Trade Towers…the same day a stranger reached out and saved her. Will a chance reconnection and a century-old scarf open Taryn’s eyes to the larger forces at work in her life?

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A+ (Five Stars)

I didn’t plan to love this book, I was drawn to it because of the historical element, having had great grandparents who came over through Ellis, I found that interesting, and having been a young child when 9/11 happened, I’m always interested in the stories, real and fiction, which help me understand the event in new ways. 

I started reading, and I was just drawn in, I love historical books, include little to a lot of historical detail is something that really interests me because I have a very big interest in history, but as I was reading these two stories, intertwined by a scarf and two horrible events, I was at a loss, i just kept reading, I kept telling myself, I’d figure out how the scarf was related before the book told me, I tend to do that with some books, but I’m pleased to say I didn’t figure it out correctly, everything I guessed was wrong, and I enjoyed that. I enjoyed the not knowing, because it gave me a crazied urgency to finish the book and really find everything out. I also have to mention how beautiful the cover is, just a bit, because though as reviewers we’re supposed to look beyond the cover, I was drawn in by this. When I picked it up, I had a few other book choices sitting before me, but this one is the one I picked, and it’s partly because of this gorgeous cover.

Clara’s story was beautiful and heartbreaking. I thought she was so lovely in being such a typical female from the time, striking out on her own, but with a bit of naivety left in her. She’s beautiful written, and the character development we see from Clara is something I really appreciated. She’s been hiding out for so long on Ellis making work her life, to avoid living that it’s so inspirational when Clara really starts to live. She’s got so many dreams, and so much to look forward too, as you’re reading you want to shake her, and tell her to get out there and life. I loved the way her story wrapped up and how we saw it finally intertwine with Taryn’s story. It was amazing. She’s a strong woman, with a deep ability to love, and she’s proud of that. I really loved her story, and was so glad for her.

Taryn’s story was hard to read. It might be because 9/11 was so much more recent, or her personal struggles, but I was just so terribly sad when we got to the story of her relationship to 9/11. I thought of both stories, the author did the most beautiful job with this one, weaving it to include those parts we’d rather forget, but delicately in order to preserve the memory, and keep it fresh for the character. She really allowed the reader to feel for the character, and feel what the character was going through. She included you in those moments, and I don’t know about the other readers, but I felt breathless as she did. Her ending was perfect. I don’t think the author could’ve done a better job giving Taryn exactly what she needed. I cried, it was lovely.

Overall this is the book you need to pick up on your next shopping trip to the bookstore. You won’t regret it. Along with the beautiful imagery, the touching emotional situations, and the beautiful woven plot point of coincidence and how things are meant to be. I am still thinking about it after finishing this lovely book, and I urge you to go get yourself a copy, because you really need to experience Clara and Taryn’s stories for yourself, I promise you, they’ll stay with you!

About The Author:


Susan Meissner was born in San Diego, California, the second of three. She spent her childhood in just two houses.
Her first writings are a laughable collection of oddly worded poems and predictable stories she wrote when she was eight.

She attended Point Loma College in San Diego, and married her husband, Bob, who is now an associate pastor and a chaplain in the Air Force Reserves, in 1980. When she is not working on a new novel, she is directing the small groups ministries at The Church at Rancho Bernardo. She also enjoy teaching workshops on writing and dream-following, spending time with my family, music, reading great books, and traveling.

Caged In Winter by Brighton Walsh #Cover #Reveal! This #book is going to #rock! @WriteAsRain_ and @BerkleyRomance

I’m so excited to be able to share with you guys the cover for “Caged In Winter by Brighton Walsh (What a cool name, right? Plus, she’s as pretty as her cover model *see below*)  I think this cover is so eye catching, and pretty, it’s on of those ones your eye goes right for when you see it at the store! Let me know what  you think in the comments!



Book Blurb:

            In this emotional and sexy New Adult debut from Brighton Walsh, the only thing more frightening than commitment is hope…

Aspiring chef Cade Maxwell is immediately, viscerally attracted to Winter Jacobson. But it’s not her mouthwatering curves he’s drawn to—it’s the strange emptiness in her eyes. When Cade saves her from a drunken customer with grabby hands, he’s shocked at her response…

Winter doesn’t need Cade’s help. After a lifetime of getting by on her own, she’s happy to rely on herself. She’s exactly seventy-six days away from graduating college, and if she can hold it together that long, she’ll finally be able to rise above the crappy hand she was dealt.

But now, every time she turns around, Cade is there, ready to push her, smile at her, distract her from her plans. Winter knows she can’t afford to open up—especially to a man she’s terrified to actually want.



Author Bio:

Brighton Author Photo_Color

Brighton Walsh spent nearly a decade as a professional photographer before deciding to take her storytelling in a different direction and reconnect with her first love: writing. When she’s not pounding away at the keyboard, she’s probably either reading or shopping—maybe even both at once. She lives in the Midwest with her husband and two children, and, yes, she considers forty degrees to be hoodie weather. Her home is the setting for frequent dance parties, Lego battles, and more laughter than she thought possible. Visit her online at

 Author Social Media Links:

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All New #SelfieContest! Hosted by @PenguinUSA and @marieforce! Plus, Everyone is a winner! Read to hear more!



I’ve got a super cool contest to share with you, courtesy of the amazing ladies at Penguin, and it involves this book! 🙂   This one sounds like such a blast, I can’t wait to get out to a bookstore and get my Selfies on! 🙂

Marie Force’s new book “All You Need Is Love” is out, and we want to see some readers posing with this amazing book! Think you can do that? Selfies take 2 seconds, so while you’re at your bookstore, target, or anywhere you spot the book, pick it up, and snap a quick photo! Don’t forget to follow all the rules though, and check out Marie’s website for any other info you might need! 🙂

 ***All New Selfie Contest!***

The publisher of ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE soooo loved the selfie contest, they asked us to do it again! Fun fun FUN! We have all new FABULOUS prizes up for grabs! Here’s how it’s going to work and please make sure you read ALL the way to the end so you can see the many ways to WIN!

Starting TODAY, get back out there and find ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE in your local bookstore (Barnes & Noble, Target, WalMart, Books-A-Million, grocery stores, drug stores, etc,) or order your copy from an online retailer such as Amazon and take a picture of yourself holding the book. We want to see you WITH the print copy of ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE (sorry, no ebook copies for this contest). When you’re out and about, consider getting a copy of the book for a friend who loves to read and hasn’t yet discovered Marie’s books. And remember, books make great gifts for birthdays and other important events! Better yet, once your friends have the book in hand, they can enter the selfie contest too! While you’re out taking selfies, consider getting a copy of ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE to donate to your local library, nursing home, hospital or other organization where people might enjoy Will and Cameron’s story! AND, if you’d like to have your book SIGNED, we can do that too with a signed book plate right from Marie! Send your request for an ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE bookplate and postal address to

For each of the next THREE weeks, we will award a $100 gift card to one selfie photographer. You can enter as many times as you’d like to increase your chances to win. Entries carry over to the next week’s drawings, but we need ALL NEW selfies. The earlier ones will not count for this NEW contest. We will award the gift cards on Friday, February 28, March 7 and March 14. But wait, there’s MORE! On Friday, March 21, we will award YET ANOTHER grand prize trip to the Green Mountain Series Launch Party on June 28 at the Vermont Country Store in Weston, Vermont! This package includes:

•          Two nights lodging for up to two guests in Weston, Vermont.

•          $750 toward airfare for two from anywhere in the United States. We suggest flying into Manchester, NH (2.5 hours away), Burlington, VT (2.25 hours away), Hartford, CT (2.5 hours), Albany, NY (1.75 hours) or Boston, MA (3 hours).

•          Reimbursement of up to approximately $300 for car rental and fuel to be used for transportation from the airport to Weston, VT.

•          A special breakfast with Marie for you and a guest.

•          $100 gift card to the Vermont Country Store

•          $100 gift card to Bryant House Restaurant at the Vermont Country Store

•          Your very own stuffed “Fred the Moose”

•          Signed copies of All You Need Is Love and I Want to Hold Your Hand

Everyone who enters a selfie in the next three weeks will be entered into this grand-prize drawing. In order to WIN the prize, however, you must be able to answer three new questions about the short story TO KNOW HER IS TO LOVE HER, which is found ONLY in the back of the print book. (It will be released to e-readers on Marie’s website in May.) ALSO, everyone who enters this new Selfie contest will get our ALL NEW Green Mountain Romance sticker! UK, Australia, New Zealand readers: You are looking for YOUR LOVE IS ALL I NEED and your selfies count!

WAIT, there’s one more chance to win! If you SHARE this post, you will be entered into a drawing to win yet another super fun prize pack that includes signed copies of Marie’s books, Fred the Moose and other fabulous swag. Everyone who clicks the SHARE button on this post will be entered into the SHARE drawing!

So go forth and take those selfies and SHARE this post to get your friends out there taking pictures, too! We will feature as many selfies as we can on Marie’s Facebook page!

You must send your selfie to to be entered into the drawing. If you’d like the Green Mountain Romance sticker, please include your postal address (international entries permitted) and let us know if you’d like to be on the list for occasional postcards and other items by mail. NO selfies posted directly to Facebook or Twitter will count as entries. The only way to ensure that your entry is counted is to email it with:

Your name:

Where you found the book (store/location):

Mailing address if you want the Green Mountain Sticker:

Do you wish to be added to the postal mailing list for occasional postcards and other swag during the year?


Doesn’t this sound like a fun little side project? Easy to do while out with the kids, or your friends! Have fun with it, and get creative! 🙂 I wish you the best of luck, plus you get to enter for a free sticker and to be on the #SwagList for awesome book swag?! Who doesn’t want that? We’re all winners!

The Grove by Jean Johnson – Fantasy, Romance and good writing – Interview and Review! @BerkleyRomance @penguinusa @JeanJAuthor



Calm the magics caught in thrall:
Put your faith in strangers’ pleas,
Watcher, Witch, and treasure trove;
Ride the wave to calm the trees,
Servant saves the sacred grove.

At the behest of their leader, the Witches of Darkhana are mobilized. Their mission: gather the most honest, true servants of each deity so that they may respectfully represent their land at the reopening of the Convocation of Gods and Man. For Witch-Priest Aradin Teral, his part in the quest has taken him across the length and breadth of Katan, searching for the best possible representative of an empire bent on preventing that very task.

Ever since the destruction of the last Convocation, the magics of the Grove have been warped, endangering pilgrims and residents alike and requiring the guardianship of the strongest mage the priesthood can spare. Priestess Saleria is now the Keeper of the Grove, and Guardian of the Divine Garden. The arrival of a black-robed stranger bearing the faces of two men brings the promise of change, even peace, to the isolated valley. But it also ushers in an irresistible passion and a threat to Saleria’s control of the wildest magics in the woods..

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Check out this amazing interview, with author Jean Johnson!

1. The Grove, is a hybrid of fantasy and romance, and a very well done one at that.. what do you think they key is to maintain a good balance from being an overly romance book or  being an overly fantasy book?

For me, the key is the fact I hate cheap painted dropcloth backgrounds—it’s good for village theater productions, yes, but if you’re trying to set a story in a realistic seeming universe, the universe has to seem realistic.  If I’m going to cross two genres, say fantasy with romance, it’s easy enough to build a romance story, but if I’m going to put in fantasy, the fantasy has to be integral to the storyline.  It has to be intrinsically consistent with itself and its own rules.  The magic has to work logically for its universe—in this one, it functions in a way similar to the water/rain cycle—and the fantastical elements have to affect the story somehow.  Whether it’s a magical doodad that starts malfunctioning, and thus causes problems for the romatic couple, or it’s a spell misfiring that turns the poor prince or princess into a frog or a newt, which their beloved has to somehow undo and restore them whole…it has to be a part of the story.  But if it’s a romance, then the romance has to be the main focus of that particular book.  Since I’m doing a series of several books, I can let the romances take center stage with each book, and bind them all together with a fantasy plot.  A romance, after all, can be set in a contemporary universe, an urban fantasy universe, a science fiction universe, a western, an historical, an alternate history…and still be a romance.  The rest of it is building the world and the environment and the challenges in a way that enriches the whole.

2. What’s one genre you love, but you don’t think you’d be the best at writing, and why?

I like young adult books and some children’s books—obviously I loved the Harry Potter books, since that led in a roundabout way to my getting noticed for publication—but I also know I suck at writing them.  I write for the people who have reached or passed the high school reading level—I was already reading at the college level in junior high—and YA fiction requires reducing the complexity of the language and the vocabulary.    Because I sorta shot past that whole stage in just a few years, I never thought to study how that kind of writing is put together, and thus learned how to write like that.  I admire those who can do it, and do so in a way that’s entertaining for adults as well as youth.

3.  What’s your writing music? Does it differ depending on the type of book you are writing?

My writing music definitely differs depending upon what sort of scene I’m writing.  I’ll listen to a lot of soundtracks, such as Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, a lot of Babylon 5, even things like the music from Assassin’s Creed…but for romantic or intimate moments, I might listen to “Unchained Melody” by the Righteous Brothers, or “Chocolate” by Nicki Minaj…or I’ll listen to heavy metal while writing hard action sequences.  There are certain kinds of music I do not like, of course; I loathe most country & western, I’m not too fond of the blues or rap—excepting Linkin Park and the occasional Beastie Boys song—and I can only tolerate jazz once in a while in a live concert.  But mostly I like having access to a wide variety from which I can select tunes that fit the scene’s mood.

4.  What are you favorite movies, and have they ever influenced your writing?

Creative storytelling doesn’t exist in a vacuum; we’re always influenced by the things we see and hear.  Sometimes it’s a direct inspiration, sometimes it’s indirect, a series of thoughts that have the author leapfrogging to a new concept or idea.  The movie “Aliens” for instance—I haven’t ever cribbed the exact scene where Ripley takes on the queen alien in a mechanized stevedore/forklift suit, but I and many other authors have used that concept of an exoskeleton powersuit…and I know I’m not the only one who has wanted to write in the sheer intensity of that moment when Ripley appears on-screen snapping,  “Get away from her, you B****!”  That moment, of enraged, kick-asteroid female, that’s definitely an inspiration.  I’ve watched and enjoyed all the Star Wars films—certain moments of “ugh, they did THAT?” aside—and I enjoy comedies as well as action movies like the Bourne trilogy.  Loved the Firefly movie “Serenity” and I’ve enjoyed a wide varity of what Pixar puts out.  Not everything, but most stuff.  It’s hard to pick out exact moments.  After seeing “Avatar” and having read an article on what the light & heat-radiation cycles would be for a tidally locked, planet-sized moon orbiting a gas giant, I do know I’d love to write up a story about a world like that some day, but it wouldn’t involve the “Avatar” movie’s  concepts of using bottle-grown hybrid alien bodies to interact with an alien race.

5.  The world in The Grove is so wonderfully detailed, how do you go about creating a world for your writing?

First, I try to figure out what sets this new universe apart from the world we live in, and all the other worlds out there.  Some unique twist or level of cultural advancement, so on and so forth.  Then I consider how the world works.  If there’s magic, where does magic come from, where does it go to, who can access it, so on and so forth.  I’ll think about how people get their food, and what sort of education system they have, or transportation modes.  I’ll try to think of the things the current generation takes for granted, based on the tech or magic involved.  Sometimes I’ll make a deliberate choice to exclude something, like leaving out artificial intelligences in my science fiction universe, but then I had to come up with a reason why humanity would stop pursuing that, which lead to coming up with the AI War—and similar wars would be a good reason why the other races stop pursuing AI tech.  Also, different regions will have different levels and kinds of advancement, much like our world today has the high-tech lifestyle of Seoul, Korea, or New York City, versus the nomadic herding lifestyle of the Masaai in Africa or the Mongols of Asia.

6. Heroine vs. Hero.. what’s your favorite to write and why?

That question is kind of like asking,  “What’s your favorite sweet treat or dessert?”  and having to choose between chocolate chip cookies, marshmallow treats, whipped-cream-frosted cake, and rich ice cream.  I like writing both heroes and heroines equally, and try to make my main characters interesting and compelling whatever the gender, but I’ll admit I write more heroines than heroes—not just in the published stories, but in the plot-bunnies cluttering up my harddrive.  Partly because I myself am female and it’s easier to write from the female perspective and mindset, but partly because there just aren’t enough female heroes running around in the entertainment industry, whether it’s in books, movies, television or whatever.  I’m a bit of a rabid equalist, so I guess I’m trying to make up for the deep lack of good female role models.  But that’s just what I tend to write; I wouldn’t say that’s a favorite, per se.  There’s also the level of primary hero/ine, and secondary—not necessarily a sidekick, but not the main character.  In my military scifi series, I like both Delia Helsted and Glenn Spyder equally, because they’re unique characters each in their own way.  Spyder has a horribly thick accent and talks like a street rat, but he has a brilliant tactical mind.  Helstead is kinda ADHD in a way, but she’s equally sharp-minded, and approaches most everything with a sense of humor.  It’s easier for me to pick out my favorite character, flat-out, than a preference for a gender.

7. Lastly, since it’s the holiday season, do you have a favorite holiday movie or book, or both?

Oh yes, absolutely.  “A Muppet Christmas Carol.”  Makes me sniffle and grin every time, I really love the design of the Ghost of Christmas Future, and the swirlie-portal they step through…and I love the line, “I am mortal, and liable to fall.”  I’ve even quoted that line a time or two in some of my stories, or some variant of it.  I also love the music, and the acting, and…  Just overall, it’s my favorite version of that holiday tale.  Plus so many quotable lines—“I know the story of A Christmas Carol like I know the back of my hand!”  “Prove it.”  “All right! Um, there’s a little mole on my thumb…”  and “Light the lamp, not the rat! Light the LAMP, not the RAT!”  I’d recommend it to just about anybody.  🙂  There are a few Christmas-themed short story romances (historicals) which I also like to reread once in a while at this time of year, but mostly it’s that movie.

(Good choice on Muppet Christmas Carol, it’s also one of my favorites, along with Polar Express!)


Grade: B+ (Four Stars)

This was a fun read. I really enjoyed the way the author mixed the fantasy with the romance, but kept both parts strong. She really did a wonderful job staying true to what really makes a fantasy novel. I’ve said before when mixing fantasy with another genre, true fantasy lovers will notice where a non-fantasy author would slack, but Johnson does a great job of living up to the fantasy title. She took a lot of time in her world building, and really fleshed everything out for us. I’m not saying the romance part of the book isn’t well done, it is, but the fantasy didn’t take a back burner to the romance. Bravo! I’ve seen a lot of other books try and fail this same mixture. I didn’t read The Tower first, so I figure you probably should, it’s got amazing reviews, and people are loving it, so if you loved this book, you’ll love the first one. Another wonderful thing I love about this book is the mythology built into it. There’s all kinds of characters and they all have such good back stories. Johnson really took her time with the series in order to really allow the reader to feel like they are in her world, and I completely did. I was walking around, going on adventures, solving problems, and generally loving this book. If  you love well written romance, that also supports an amazing fantasy story right along with it, you’ll truly want to check out the Guardians of Destiny series. Start with The Tower and move on to this wonderful book! This is one book I’ll be looking for this holiday season to add to my book shelf!

*I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

About The Author:


Jean Johnson currently lives in the Pacific Northwest, has played in the SCA for 25 years, sings a lot, and argues with her cat about territorial rights to her office chair. She loves hearing from her readers, and has a distinct sense of humor. Right now she’s living in a home with zone heating & decent plumbing, but hopes to some day put turrets and ramparts on it so that it looks like a castle.

Review & Interview – Tara Sue Me – The Training – @BerkleyRomance @penguinusa



Today we have an interview with Tara Sue Me, author of The Submissive Trilogy, just in time for her newest release, The Training.


What got you into the romance genre?

I started reading romance in high school. I had always been a big reader, but up until then I read authors like Stephen King and Ray Bradbury. I was walking around a bookstore one day, looking for something new and happened upon OUTLANDER in the ‘Staff Recommends’ section. It had an interesting premise, so I bought it. I know OUTLANDER isn’t a traditional romance, but after reading it, I was hooked. I don’t think I read anything other than historical romance for years after that.

As far as writing, I’m not sure I’ve ever thought about writing anything other than romance. I think there’s something about a love story that touches all of us. The journey of two people coming together is something we all relate to. To be part of that story, even a fictional one makes me smile.


Where did you get the idea for your alpha male, Nathaniel?

I think Nathaniel found me! When I decided to write a contemporary romance, the first chapter of THE SUBMISSIVE played out before me, almost like a movie. Even so, I saw everything from Abby’s point of view, which means for a time, I thought Nathaniel to be cold and distant. He was very persistent, though, in showing me bit and pieces of who he was. In a way, he evolved for me throughout THE SUBMISSIVE.


It always seems like it would be hard to write realistic romance novels, do you do research? How to do you make your novels so realistic?

My number one pet peeve in reading a book is when characters act out of character. There have been authors I’ve stopped reading completely because they have a character do something I know they wouldn’t do. As a reader if I’ve invested my time in an author’s work over four books in a five book series, I want that author to respect my intellect enough to know that there are certain things a character won’t EVER do in book five.

When I write, I try to sink down so deep inside my character’s head that it feels like the character is writing the scene. That’s what makes everything appear realistic to the reader.

And yes, I research. I don’t have personal BDSM experience, but when I write about someone who has lived that lifestyle for ten years, I don’t want the reader’s first thought to be, “Are you kidding me with this?”


Your novels stand out among the genre, what are some of your thoughts on writing a distinctive romance novel among so many others?

I think a lot of it is writing style. My writing style is very similar to me in an everyday conversation. I like to joke that I can say the same thing as someone else with 40% fewer words. I write the same way and this used to bother me. I’d read another author and think, “Why can’t I write like that?” Now I realize it’s just the way I write and that’s okay. We’re all unique and distinctive, as authors we should let that come through in our writing.


You started writing at twelve, did you always want to be a writer, or is there another career that young Tara really wanted to do?

For a long time I wanted to be a doctor. I took all the pre-med classes courses in college and I’d planned out everything. Then I took Organic Chemistry and well, let’s just say I switched majors after that one!


Can you tell us one surprising fact about yourself, something we wouldn’t expect?

I can tie a knot in a cherry stem in my mouth in less than ten seconds.


Synopsis for The Training:


It started with a hidden desire.

Millionaire CEO Nathaniel West has always played by his own strict set of rules, ones he expects everyone to follow—especially the women he’s dominated in his bedroom. But his newest lover is breaking down all his boundaries and rewriting his rule book.

Abby King never imagined that she would capture the heart of Nathaniel West, one of New York City’s most eligible bachelors—and its most desirable dominant. What began as a weekend arrangement of pleasure has become a passionate romance with a man who knows every inch of her body and her soul – yet remains an enigmatic lover. Though he is tender and caring, his painful past remains a wall between them.

Abby knows the only way to truly earn his trust is to submit to him fully and let go of all of her lingering inhibitions. Because to lead Nathaniel on a path to greater intimacy, she must first let him deeper into her world than anyone has ever gone before…


 About the Author:

American Author Tara Sue Me in Los Angeles

Tara Sue Me lives in the southeastern United States with her family, two dogs, and a cat.  Visit her online at, or



Grade: B+

This is the conclusion to The Submissive trilogy. Abby and Nathaniel, are back in this book, and Abby is being trained as Nathaniel’s submissive, but there’s a slight problem. Nathaniel starts to fall for Abby, something he’d never do with one of his previous submissives. Will he be able to handle transitioning to the role of lover, friend, protector, from his previous role as Dom?

Overall, this romance story, falls in the vien of our popular genre defining romances Fifty Shades of Grey and Crossfire series, the man is distance, cold, powerful and just wants sex, the difference in this one in how much we delve into the world of BDSM. This book has a lot more to it then FSOG did, so readers, if you are unsure, understand that this is a completely different lifestyle choice, and this isn’t just a vanilla sex book. The work is well written and researched, and the characters play their roles quite well. The scenes are very described, and stay true to that lifestyle.

The main plot in the book is Abby & Nathaniel’s relationship, and how it’s going to develop, and where it’s going to go. We begin with submissive training, but really we’re just building on their relationship from previous books. It did seem that they reached the end without as many twists and turns as we’re used to in this genre, but I think the characters are written well, and act honestly, and that really reflects on their love for each other, and the reason they are trying for their HEA.

I didn’t read the earlier books before I read this book, but though I’m sure you’ll be thrown right back in with this book, even if you haven’t read the series, the author builds the characters so well, you arent’ at a loss. I suggest reading the whole series though, to get the whole feel for Abby and Natheniel’s relationship. I thought this was a wonderful book, and a change from the heavy hitting names we constantly hear in this genre. Tara Me Sue wrote a wonderful love story, that deals with a different lifestyle, but overall it’s the story of the love of two people, and what it takes to make it to forever!



#ReadPink in Support of Breast Cancer Blog Tour! Check it out! @BerkleyRomance @PenguinGroupUSA

Read Pink® in Support of Breast Cancer Awareness

What’s black and white and pink all over?  The initiative by the Penguin Group (USA) called Read Pink® in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October)!

This literary embrace of a life-saving cause last year resulted in more than 400,000 best-selling romances shipped with Read Pink seals and information about the charity it supports – The Breast Cancer Research Foundation® (BCRF).  Penguin is thrilled to partner once again this year with BCRF, as 91 cents of every dollar spent by BCRF is directed towards breast cancer research and awareness programs.

The $25,000 donation that Penguin Group USA contributes, regardless of sales, provides vital funds to support the mission of BCRF.

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Penguin Group (USA)’s Read Pink® editions, we are featuring a few participating authors and what Read Pink® means to them…

Karen White (2013 Read Pink® Spokesperson), The Beach Tree

“To all of those who have fought the fight, or are in the middle of the battle, here’s a two-thumbs up for you.  You are not alone.  We are all in this together.”


Erika Robuck, Hemingway’s Girl

“As one whose life has felt the shadow of breast cancer through two friends’ illnesses this year, it is an honor to be included in Penguin’s READ PINK campaign. It is my greatest hope that this contribution may be a part of raising awareness and finding a cure.” ~Erika Robuck”

Jodi Thomas, Just Down the Road

“Breast Cancer is something all women fear. I’ve walked with two dear friends through the battlefield and both survived. We all must fight until the day comes when no one knows anyone who has had breast cancer.”

Carly Phillips, Perfect Fit

“So many of us have been touched by cancer, either personally, or through a family member or a friend’s diagnosis.   I’m honored to be part of the Read Pink! program.  Purchasing a Pink book donates money to the The Breast Cancer Research Foundation.  Buy and Read Pink! and together we can do our part to eliminate this dreaded disease.”

Catherine Anderson, Lucky Penny

“Breast cancer is a killer that robbed me of one friend and threatened the life of another.  One out of four women may get this dreaded disease.  I am honored that this is my fourth title to be featured in the READ PINK campaign, and I am proud to be writing for a publishing house willing to engage, year after year, in the battle to save the lives of women.”

LuAnn McLane, Pitch Perfect

“Shortly after my mother’s diagnosis with breast cancer, I found out I was pregnant with my fourth child, a risky pregnancy that wasn’t supposed to happen. I believe that during the treatments my mother drew strength from the determination to see her granddaughter born. That was twenty-two years ago and my mother still refers to Cara as ‘her gift’.  Cara’s birthday is a lovely reminder that my mother is cancer free.  I am thrilled to have Pitch Perfect as part of the Read Pink program. Any small part I can play in the fight against cancer is a huge honor for me.”


Liane Moriarty, What Alice Forgot

The last three generations of my family have been affected by breast cancer. We, like so many other families, understand all too well the importance of research.

So I feel very moved and privileged to be a part of such a wonderful initiative as Read Pink.”

Alyson Richman, The Lost Wife

“My own life changed dramatically when I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer just before the publication of “The Lost Wife” in 2011, so it is incredibly meaningful that the book is now helping to find a cure for other women who have been afflicted with breast cancer.  Read Pink is helping to unite readers and authors for an extremely important cause.  Please buy a book for a mother, a daughter, or a friend to show your support for this disease that takes too many lives. My children lost their grandmother to breast cancer, so I know I’ll be buying the other books included in the program, to honor this woman we all loved.”


Sarah Jio, The Last Camellia

“Breast cancer is a villain more sinister than any shadowy figure in my stories. I know someone with an advanced case of the disease, a woman who is bravely fighting, but who has been given a short time to live. She will leave behind three children, a husband and a truly beautiful life. All I can says is that if there is hope to end this horrific disease, to bring this villain to justice, I want to be part of it. And I’m so very honored that The Last Camellia was chosen to be a part of Penguin’s Read Pink campaign. Together, we can help write a new story for breast cancer and hopefully give more women the happy endings they deserve.”

Full List of 2013 Participating Authors:

Karen White, The Beach Trees

Nora Roberts, Chasing Fire

Erika Robuck, Hemingway’s Girl

Jodi Thomas, Just Down the Road

Carly Phillips, Perfect Fit

JoAnn Ross, Sea Glass Winter

Karen Rose, Did You Miss Me?

Catherine Anderson, Lucky Penny

Kate Jacobs, The Friday Night Knitting Club

LuAnn McLane, Pitch Perfect

Liane Moriarty, What Alice Forgot

Alyson Richman, The Lost Wife

Sarah Jio, The Last Camellia

Penelope Lively, How It All Began

Mark your calendars and remember to join in the conversation with @BerkleyRomance and @PenguinGroupUSA on Twitter in October.  Make sure to use the hashtag #ReadPink!

For more information follow @BerkleyRomance and @PenguinGroupUSA, and visit

Read Pink® Blog Tour Schedule

Please support the blogs taking part in this special, Read Pink® Spotlight Tour!


October 1 – Guest post and entire Read Pink 2013 collection giveaway by spokesperson Karen White on Chick Lit Is Not Dead


“Spotlight” Blog Tour

September 23                                   Bridger Bitches Book Blog; Wicked Little Pixie

September 24                                   A Tasty Read Reviews; My Daily Romance

September 25                                   The Allure of Books; Ticket to Anywhere

September 26                                   Bookish Babe; Swoon Worthy Books

September 27                                   A Southern Girl’s Bookshelf; Christine’s Blog (“She Book Blogs”)


September 30                                   Sunshine and Mountains Book Reviews; Winding Stairs Book Blog

October 1                                            Eye on Romance; Books, Books, and More Books

October 2                                            Books-N-Kisses; Reviews By Tammy and Kim

October 3                                            Urban Fantasy Investigations; The Book Cellar

October 4                                            Supernatural Snark; Got Fiction? Books


October 7                                            Theresa’s Reading Corner; Romantic Book Affairs

October 8                                            Book Addicts Not So Anonymous; The Romance DishLive Read and Breathe

October 9                                            Bitten By Love Reviews; Kindles & Wine

October 10                                          The Book Bellas; Stuck in Books

October 11                                          Thoughts in Progress; That’s What I’m Talking About


October 14                                          Boekie’s Book Reviews; The Romance Studio

October 15                                          Paranormal Book Club; Ruby’s Reads

October 16                                          Stuck in YA Books; Caffeinated Book Reviewer

October 17                                          Always YA at Heart; Fiction Vixen; The Reading Café

October 18                                          Fiction Fare; My Book Addiction and More


October 21                                          Adria’s Romance Reviews; Cocktails & Books

October 22                                          Reality Bites! Let’s get Lost!; Literal Addiction

October 23                                          G Reads Books!; Reading Between the Wines

October 24                                          The Book Binge;

October 25                                          The Irish Banana Reviews; Harlequin Junkie


October 28                                          Readers Live A Thousand Lives; The Delighted Reader

October 29                                          Reviewing Wonderland;

October 30                                          Smexy Books; Hesperia Loves Books