Friday Feature: Cover Loving by Avril Tremayne

Erica here! Welcome to another Friday Feature! Today, Harlequin and Random Romance author Avril Tremayne is discussing covers. Avril’s fun and flirty style is what got her noticed in both Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write 2013 and Wattpad contests. Since then, Avril’s published six booksIf you’d like to win a free ebook of Avril’s newest release, just leave a comment. 

There are so many blogs out there about book covers – good covers, bad covers, cover trends, choosing covers – and one thing I know for sure: I am clueless!
In fact, my cover cluelessness is one of the main impediments to my becoming a self-publishing author.
I’ll give you an example. The first book I ever put on Wattpad, Signed, Sealed, Delivered, shocked me by becoming quickly and very successful. There was only one recurring criticism: that the cover (which I designed myself) did not do the story justice. In the interests of full disclosure, I’m sharing it here, alongside the much more fabulous cover of the version published earlier this year under its new title, The Contract.
Image 1Image 2

I’ve published seven books, and for those books, I’ve had 15 covers market-by-market and edition-by-edition, featuring everything from headless torsos to frolicking heroines to little boys. But I haven’t thought deeply about the subject until a month ago, when I hit the cover jackpot with my latest book, Escaping Mr Right, which comes out in October. Not only does the cover couple look almost exactly as I picture my heroine and hero, but the whole feel of the image is as sexily delicious as I believe the book to be.
There was only one tiny issue niggling at the back of my mind. Escaping Mr Right is book two in a trilogy, and the cover of book one (Wanting Mr Wrong), which has been out in the world since February, is a very different beast. So what? I decided; the books may be ‘attached’ via their characters, but they are nevertheless definitely standalone stories.
The end, I thought.
My wonderful publisher, Random House, however, thought not the end, and redesigned the cover of Wanting Mr Wrong. Both the old and the new Wanting Mr Wrong covers are pretty fabulous, but they’re also very different. One’s a little flirtier; the other’s a little sexier. Take a look…

Image 3Image 4

Now, I write flirty, sexy books, so both covers ‘fit’, but in this particular instance, I’m barracking for the sexier one. First – because it lets readers know they’re not getting a squeaky clean ‘sweet’ read. Second – because there’s enough pop and colour and flirt to suggest that while this book is a sexy read, it’s doesn’t veer into erotica territory. Third – because together, Wanting Mr Wrong and Escaping Mr Right really do look like a ‘family’.

Image 4Image 5

I’d love to hear your views – which (if any) of these covers grabs you? And in general, what is the kind of cover you love best?

Image 4Wanting Mr Wrong
Evie Parker has never been one to swoon after celebrities – give her a neuroscientist over an actor any day! So when she develops her first movie-star crush, she’s determined to date her way out of it, starting with the next good-looking doctor she sees.
Yet hovering on the fringes of her life is her gay best friend’s determined brother, Jackson J Stevens, a famous actor who comes with trailing paparazzi. The one thing worse than a celebrity in Evie’s eyes is a media circus, so Jack isn’t an option no matter how hard he flirts with her.
Evie knows what she doesn’t want; Jack knows what he does. And somewhere in the middle, pheromones are making things go haywire every time they’re together.
Buy link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00PI46TI0

Avril Tremayne has wanted to be a writer ever since reading Jane Eyre as a teenager, but navigated diverse careers along the way,  including, shoe-selling, nursing, teaching, public relations and corporate affairs – most recently in global aviation.

Returning to her home city of Sydney, Australia, after a three year stint in the Middle East, she finally decided in 2013 to kick-start her last career as a romance writer, and pens the types of tales she likes to read – sexy, funny, urban stories.

When she’s not writing or reading, Avril can generally be found eating – although she does not cook – drinking wine, and obsessing about shoes.
website facebook twitter pinterest

Friday Feature: Betsy St. Amant, Stories Never Lie

Erica here. I’m so pleased to feature inspirational romance author Betsy St. Amant today. I’ve loved Betsy’s writing since I read The Rancher’s Secret Son, and her newest release, Love Arrives in Pieces (isn’t that title amazing?!), is definitely in my To Be Read pile. When she sent me this guest post, I wanted to post it right away. I’m sure you’ll see why once you’ve read it. 

Do you want to know a secret pet peeve of mine? I’ve always hated when parents say to their kids “are you telling a story?” instead of simply asking them “are you lying?”

“Story” and “lie” shouldn’t ever be interchangeable. I realize the connection between the two is fiction, and technically, fiction is “made up”. But “story” and “lie” should never be used as the same meaning.

Because stories are some of the truest things ever told.

And that’s why I write. I write to tell the truth.

Jesus spoke a lot in parables, and I believe it’s because He knew that’s the best way the human heart, in all its various, multiple flaws and complexities, could best understand and remember.

Compare your interest in history class when you were studying a particular war, versus an in-person, detailed account from your grandfather or great-grandfather who actually fought in that war. Your history book gave a factual account; your grandfather told you a story. Which one lingered the longest? Which one made you feel like you were there? Which one made you care?

Take a moment and think of some of your most favorite novels you’ve read over the years. Why are they your favorite?

Now think about this—do you read fiction to simply gain information, or to have something of importance revealed to your heart? Do you read fiction to simply learn new words, or to experience something outside of yourself and your current circumstances? Do you read fiction to simply pass the time in entertainment, or to discover truth in fresh ways?

There’s been many books over the years that have done that for me—told me truth, transported me to another time, and revealed things in my heart that needed healing, dealing with, or acknowledgment.

A few of those treasures include:

Susan Meissner’s The Girl In the Glass

Robin Jones Gunn’s Whispers

Rachel Hauck’s The Wedding Dress

Katie Ganshert’s A Broken Kind of Beautiful

Susan Meissner’s The Shape of Mercy

Becky Wade’s Meant to be Mine

Dee Henderson’s The Truth Seeker

Francine River’s The Last Sin Eater

Lisa Samson’s The Passion of Mary-Margaret

Kristen Heitzmann’s Halos

Lynn Austin’s Wonderland Creek

James Rubart’s Rooms

The above books, and so many more, taught me about romance and Jesus and hope. They taught me about waiting, about expectation, about longings unfulfilled. They touched spots on my heart I thought too deep to access and tugged at scars that weren’t fully healed and made me reevaluate important choices.

Stories matter. Stories count.

And stories never, ever lie.

love arrives in pieces Love Arrives in Pieces: Former  pageant queen Stella Varland doesn’t  trust beauty anymore after her divorce.  Her appearance betrayed her and led to  brokenness, so instead of being  beautiful, now she tries to make  beautiful things, but she always falls  short. So she keeps her passion for art  to herself and focuses on her interior  design work. But if she doesn’t get  another job soon, she’ll be stuck living  with her parents.
 Contractor Chase Taylor is determined to live a life of no regrets after losing his fiancée. Now he lives life at full speed, striving to see how much he can accomplish. He knows if he slows down, he’ll fall apart. So he returns home to Bayou Bend to renovate the town’s old theater and is shocked to discover that the designer for the project is his old flame, Stella.
Forced to work together, Chase and Stella battle their chemistry and past as they struggle to compromise and work together on a vision for the theater. Their wills clash as they attempt to hide their brokenness—and their unresolved feelings for each other—until Chase discovers the hidden parts of Stella, while losing her trust in the process.
A near catastrophe, a fire, and a small-town gossip mill finally force Stella and Chase to realize that they have a choice—to hold on to the shards of their pasts, or surrender their fragmented pieces to the One who makes a beautiful masterpiece from their brokenness.
You can purchase Love Arrives in Pieces from Amazon and Zondervan.
Also available:
All’s Fair in Love and Cupcakes (Zondervan 2014)
Winter Brides (Zondervan 2014)
Betsy St. Amant headshot Betsy St. Amant has a  heart for three things –  chocolate, new shoes and  sharing the amazing  news of God’s grace  through her novels. She  lives in Louisiana with  her adorable story-  telling young daughter, a collection of Austen novels, and an impressive stash of Pickle Pringles. A freelance journalist and fiction author, Betsy is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and is multi-published with thirteen novels and novellas in Contemporary Romance via Barbour Books, Harlequin and HarperCollins. When she’s not reading, wondering where Mr. Darcy went, or singing along to the latest Disney soundtrack with her daughter, Betsy enjoys inspirational speaking and teaching on the craft of writing and can usually be found somewhere in the vicinity of a white-chocolate mocha. You can read more from Betsy at www.betsystamant.com and www.writergetsreal.blogspot.com.
Betsy’s links:

 

Friday Feature: Interview with Jackie Ashenden (& Giveaway)!

Erica here! I’m so honored to bring you a new author each week through the Friday Feature! I’ve reached out to some of my favorite authors and asked them to do an interview, provide an excerpt, or guest post here to introduce you to their work or to speak on some aspect of writing. This week, I interviewed Jackie Ashenden. Jackie writes dark, emotional romances with alpha heroes and kick butt heroines who aren’t afraid to stand up to them. I hope you enjoy this interview, and pick up a copy of Jackie’s newest release, Never Refuse A Sheikh, out today. You could win a copy and a $10 Amazon gift card by leaving a comment. 

 When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

I think probably when I was twelve, when I decided to write my own story – it was a fantasy heavily based on the Lord of the Rings and it was awful.  But I loved writing it. Admittedly I stopped after the first five pages, but it was great when I started! 🙂

What is your tagline for your brand of stories?

Ah taglines… On my website it says sexy, dirty love. So I guess that’s what I write. Sexy, dirty and dark love stories.

What sort of reader would enjoy your books?

A reader who likes hot sexytimes and heavy doses of angst. Who isn’t afraid of strong emotion.  Who also like alphas heroes and strong heroines. 🙂

What publishers are you currently writing for?

St Martin’s Press, Tule Publishing, Kensington and Random House. Quite a list!

 What writers have influenced your writing the most to this point?

Well, definitely my critique partner and friend Maisey Yates. I also find Megan Crane/Caitlin Crews’ writing wonderfully inspiring.

 Thank a teacher/mentor (because I heart teachers and think they need more thanks)

I would like to thank my 4th form English teacher (I was 14) for loving my creative writing and encouraging me. Because basically she was the first teacher I ever had who told me I was good at something.

What advice do you have for writers just starting their journey to publication?

Write. Keep writing. Then write some more. Don’t stop. Oh and if you’re after a publication contract, never, ever give up.

Do you write full-time or do you also have a “day job”?

I’m lucky enough to be able to write full time.  I used to be a librarian though!

How do you balance your writing/release schedule? 

It’s a tough one, especially when you have a lot of releases scheduled. To keep myself from freaking out, I work out my deadlines and how many words I need to do each day to meet them. Everything else to do with writing (marketing, social media etc,) comes second to making my word count.

What led you to write such “dark, emotional stories featuring alpha heroes?

Good question! I guess it’s because I really enjoy the psychology of it, plus I think everyone deserves a happy ending no matter how broken they think they are.

You write mostly series books, whether your own or as part of a continuity. What draws you to writing linked stories?

I think most writers are doing this these days and that’s because series sell better than stand alone stories. Publishers tend to want linked books for that reason. I like it because it gives you a wider range of stories and characters to explore.

How did you get involved with the International Bad Boys Series from Tule Publishing?

Oh that’s an interesting story. I wrote a sheikh book that I wanted to send to Harlequin Presents, but it didn’t end up being right for them so I shelved it. And then when I was at RWA in San Antonio last year I met the lovely Jane Porter.  We were talking about sheikhs and I said I’d written one that wasn’t right for Harlequin and she said she’d love to see it. So I sent it to her and she ended up putting it on the Tule schedule! I was thrilled!

Which type of hero do you prefer writing the most–sheikhs, tycoons, bikers, or others?

Wow, hard question. I don’t have a favorite type when it comes down to it, I love them all. They all have their different strengths and weaknesses. I just like writing guys, period.

How do you make your heroines so kick butt and so vulnerable at the same time?

Well, the trick is to giving the heroine layers. For example, on the outside she’s a kick butt chick who stands up to the hero and doesn’t take any crap. But on the inside, she’s vulnerable and the vulnerable side comes out gradually the more she begins to fall for the hero. She’s like all of us really. We’re never strong all the time, just like we’re not vulnerable all the time.

We don’t want our vulnerabilities on the outside so we keep them hidden, only showing them to our loved ones. That’s my typical heroine basically.

You also contributed a book to The Deacons of Bourbon Street Series with writer friends/critique buddies Maisey Yates and Megan Crane. How did the idea for that come about, and how did you sell the series?

And not forgetting Rachael Johns too!  (Erica: Sorry Rachael!) Yeah, they were all at RT in NOLA last year and I didn’t go because I’m in NZ and it was too far. But they got on really well and wanted to write this biker series. Maisey asked me if I wanted to join in because I write those kind of heroes anyway and I said of course! So we all wrote a pitch and a first chapter and our agents shopped it around. Yay Random House and Loveswept for buying it!

Who’s your favorite couple that you’ve written thus far?

Oh, that’s tough!!!  I loved writing Vin and Kara from Having Her. I could have written them forever. (Erica prefers Hunter and Ellie from linked book Taking Him) I really liked Zac and Eva, my 3rd Nine Circles book, and writing a biker dude and a biker chick for the Deacons series was pretty great too.

 Who’s your favorite fictional couple of all time?

Another hard question! I don’t really have one favorite. I do like Lizzie and Darcy. And Jane and Rochester. Phillippa and Francis Crawford from Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond series.

Any upcoming projects readers should be on the lookout for?

I have Never Refuse A Sheikh, which comes out on the 5th – today! So if you like a sheikh fantasy, you may like that one. If sheikhs aren’t your bag then I have the 3rd Nine Circles book, You Are Mine, which comes out October 6th.

What’s next to cross of your writing bucket list?

Ooooh….I thought I might try writing something in first person. I’m not a huge fan of it as a reader but it’s good to try new things as a writer. Whenever I get time…

Every writer needs a good…

Cup of coffee, chocolate, massage and finally, a large glass of wine. 😉

 

JackieAshenden-SMALL When the sheikh claims a wife, she cannot refuse …

Altair is a man perfectly in control both of himself and the power he wields as regent of  Al Harah. Yet in order to retain his stronghold on the country he loves, he must wed a  princess wilder than the Bedouin tribe she was raised in. A princess who only has one  word for him: no.

Princess Safira knows what freedom means and it isn’t a palace or a crown. Neither  does it mean being told what to do by a man with more ice in his veins than blood.  Safira is innocent in the ways of men, but the heat in Altair’s gaze calls to a deep,  unclaimed part of her soul she cannot deny. Altair seems hellbent on civilizing her, but  she’s not so easily tamed. Especially not when she can sense the wildness that lives in  him….

Available for Kindle on Amazon here.

 

Jackie A Jackie has been writing fiction since she was eleven years old. Mild  mannered fantasy/SF/pseudo-literary writer by day, obsessive romance  writer by night, she used to balance her writing with the more serious job of  librarianship until a chance meeting with another romance writer prompted  her to throw off the shackles of her day job and devote herself to the true  love of her heart – writing romance. She particularly likes to write dark,  emotional stories with alpha heroes who’ve just got the world to their liking  only to have it blown wide apart by their kick-ass heroines.

She lives in Auckland, New Zealand with her husband, the inimitable Dr Jax,  two kids, two cats and a couple of curious rats. When she’s not torturing  alpha males and their stroppy heroines, she can be found drinking chocolate  martinis, reading anything she can lay her hands on, posting random crap on Twitter, or being forced to go mountain biking with her husband.

www.jackieashenden.com

@JackieAshenden

https://www.facebook.com/jackie.ashenden

Friday Feature: Autumn MacArthur & Splash! Novella Collection (with Giveaway!!)

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
Like so many writers, I started writing stories as soon as I could write. I submitted poetry and short stories to magazines in my teens. All rejections, apart from one article in a Christian magazine. My first ever earnings from writing – $5! I was so excited! I always wrote and journalled, but didn’t start writing for publication again until 2010, when I entered a Harlequin online contest.

What is your tagline for your brand of stories?
“Sweet inspirational romance to make you smile.” My aim is to write stories that don’t just show the love of the hero and heroine, but God’s love for us all too.

What writers have influenced your writing the most to this point?
I read a lot of Harlequin Love Inspired! All the authors for that line are wonderful. Marta Perry is one of my favourites. I also love Debbie Macomber’s books. For favourite comfort reads take me back to beloved authors from my teens. A Harlequin sweet romance author from New Zealand who wrote in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, Essie Summers; and Canadian author L.M. Montgomery, who wrote a lot more than the Anne of Green Gables books. I adore those older books, but oh my, they would never get them past an editor today, with all that head hopping!

I know you went through revisions with a publisher but ultimately decided not to continue pursuing that opportunity. How did you come to that decision?
I was blessed to receive revisions on my semi-finalling Harlequin SYTYCW 2013 entry, Believe in Me, from Heartsong. I did the revisions and was ready to hit send when I had one of those whispers of Spirit. I loved the books Heartsong released and was overjoyed to be published there, but I had problems buying copies, which raised concerns about the distribution. I prayed a lot and made the difficult decision to write a prequel novella and self-publish both books. As it happened, Heartsong may never have published the story as an October 2015 release was suggested, and sadly the line will be closing. Also, through several rounds of edits, the story grew to 68,000 words, far too long for Heartsong!

I have second revisions on a Love Inspired submission, too. Although I’m far from a prima donna and will gladly make huge changes to my stories if it will make them stronger, the editor has asked me to remove a prayer which feels key to my heroine’s spiritual development. I’m torn. Publication with Harlequin has been a dream since my teens, but I need to be true to the stories God asks me to write too!

Do you plan on pursuing traditional publishing again in the future?
I’m open to God’s lead. 🙂 For now, I have a long list of stories to write, and I’m feeling called to focus on self-publishing.

What has been the most rewarding part of your indie journey?
The direct contact with readers, having them tell me what they love about the stories. The reader community for Christian romance is so sweet and so supportive!

Being able to write the stories I feel called to write, rather than having to fit publisher requirements is a huge plus too. Now Heartsong is closing, there aren’t a lot of publishers taking on Christian contemporary romances set outside North America. I have some US set stories, but I also want to write UK and Australian set books.

And I do like having control of every aspect of book production. I work with a professional editor and a wonderful critique partner, but I had to teach myself cover design, formatting, and a whole lot of other stuff!

The most difficult?
LOL, having to be responsible for every aspect of book production! It’s a lot of work and I’m still learning. A bit like being a Mom. Once you think you have it all figured out, something changes!

What advice would you give to writers who have just started their journey toward publication?
To keep on writing and not expect too much from your first draft! I have five years worth of unfinished or unedited first drafts that may never be published, but I learned something from every one of them. Let yourself write learning manuscripts, and know that ANYTHING can be edited, no matter how bad it seems in first draft. I had a lot of failed starts and gave up writing again and again over the years because I couldn’t get the first chapter or two the way I wanted, and so I stopped. I know now that although I do plan a little before I start, I write best when I pants it. Often, the first two or three chapters may never appear in the final version at all because they’re the way I get to know the characters. I now take every story through at least three rounds of edits, and it only really comes together in the final draft. I know that makes planners scream, but the most important thing is to discover and trust your own writing process, whatever it is.

Where did you get the idea for the Love in Store series?
Um, the truth is, I can’t remember! I drafted Believe in Me, which is now book 2 in the series, as a sweet secular romance novella back in 2011, in response to a romance publisher’s Call for Submission asking for Christmas stories based on one of two Christmas songs. I’m not sure now what made me decide to set it in a London department store. Probably because I worked in central London at the time and walked along Oxford Street, London’s main shopping street, every day on my way to the office, just like Cara does at the start of the story.

Was it always intended to be a series?
Not at all! It was supposed to be a stand-alone novella! But Believe in Me grew in edits from a 20k novella, to a 48k submission to Heartsong, and then through two more rounds of edits to the final 68k story. When I decided to indie publish it, I wrote a prequel standalone novella set in the same department store, The Wedding List, which is now available free on Amazon, Nook  or Kobo. Then minor characters all started needing their own stories!

Tell the readers about the concept behind your Love in Store series.
Imagine a slightly run-down central London department store, a cross between Selfridges (a real London store) and Grace Brothers (a store in the slightly risque UK 70’s comedy series Are You Being Served), and all the people connected to the store. Books 1 and 2 focus closely on the store and the attempts to keep it open, while books 3 & 4 have links to the store but also to Paris and Edinburgh, as the heroines are the American twin sisters who have some travel planned while they are in Europe! Supporting homeless people also developed into a theme running through the series, and the local homeless shelter plays an important role.

Who’s your favorite couple from the Love in Store series thus far?
Oh my, that’s like asking a mother who her favourite child is! I love all of them for different reasons.

Who’s your favorite fictional couple of all time?
My favourite movie ever is probably The Princess Bride, so I’ll go for Westley and Buttercup, and their True Love.

What’s next for Love in Store?
My new release More than Friends is a linked story, not actually part of the series, but the hero and heroine appeared as minor characters in Book 3, A Model Bride. Part of that story is set in Edinburgh on New Year’s Eve, as the hero Mac takes Tiffany home to stay with his parents so she can experience a real Scottish Hogmanay. More than Friends features Mac’s younger sister Catriona, and Alistair, the man she’s been in love with since her teens. Plus a dog and a busload of disabled kids on a Vacation Bible School trip to the beach!

Are there more books coming in this series?
Absolutely! I love wedding stories, so stories #5 & #6 will be romances growing from the weddings of Cara and Nick from book 2, and James and Beth from Book 1. Plus I have a Thanksgiving story planned which is also loosely connected, as Brad, a minor character from book 4 tries to reunite with his divorced wife. I need to write faster!

Any upcoming projects readers should be on the lookout for?
My summer novella More than Friends is part of the “Splash! 9 refreshing summer romances filled with faith” boxed set. This wonderful collection includes 9 complete Christian romance stories by 9 different authors, over 800 pages total reading. The ebook of the entire set is only 99c! It releases on June 23 but can be preordered now. http://amzn.to/1EOsp0a

Every writer needs a good…
LOL, can’t decide if that should be laptop or critique partner! On the basis I can always get a new laptop but my CP is irreplaceable, I’ll go for critique partner.

Autumn is giving away a mobi for Kindle copy of A Model Bride, from her Love in Store Series. A model Bride is on sale at a special reduced price of 99c until June 2. It can be purchased here

Splash, 9 inspirational summer romances for just 99c teal

Splash, 9 inspirational summer romances for just 99c

Splash! NINE RefreshingRomances Filled with Faith!

Nine beloved authors of contemporary Christian romance have banded together to offer this limited-time collection of all-new romance novellas perfect for your summer vacation reading pleasure. Come visit Scotland, Zambia, Australia, Canada, and several American states, including Alaska, in these inspirational romance novellas. You’ll love each refreshing contemporary romance as the characters enjoy the water on hot summer days, whether it be in a river, lake, ocean… or a swimming pool!

His Perfect Catch by Narelle Atkins, author of the Snowgum Creek series
A holiday romance isn’t part of the plan when Mia Radcliffe temporarily moves to Sapphire Bay and lives next door to Pete McCall, her secret crush from years ago. Pete prefers the simple life. Can Mia leave behind her big-city dreams and settle with Pete in the seaside town?

Sweet Serenade by Valerie Comer, author of the Farm Fresh Romance series
Carly and Reed thrive on the rush of running rapids in a canoe until they capsize in both river and romance. Will secrets from the past drown their future, or can this idyllic summer romance lead to a lifetime of sweet serenades?

More than Friends by Autumn Macarthur, author of the Love in Store series
When nurse Catriona asks for help with her Vacation Bible School for disabled children, she never imagines how much could go wrong on a simple seaside day out — or that the colleague she’s secretly loved for years might come to see her as more than his best friend’s little sister.

Love Flies In by Heidi McCahan, author of the Emerald Cove series
He’s a seaplane pilot determined to honor his convictions. She’s a kayak guide who mocked his faith for sport. One small lakeside cabin in Alaska can’t house them both.

Testing the Waters by Lesley Ann McDaniel, author of the Madison Falls series
After breaking up with her ultra-critical boyfriend, Teresa decides to reinvent herself. She meets a nice guy named Curt on the beach in Crescent Cove, Oregon, and tells him she’s Terése from Paris. Pretending to be someone else is fun until the unthinkable happens — she starts to fall for him.

The Lifeguards, the Swim Team, and Frozen Custard by Carol Moncado, author of the CANDID Romance series
Lifeguard Alivia Collins looks forward to another summer on the guard stand at the Serenity Landing Aquatic Center. This year, she’s going to have to keep herself from falling for the cute, new guard – or realize it’s time to give love another chance.

Time and Tide by Lynette Sowell, author of the Lone Star Hearts series
When out-of-work fashion journalist Karyn Lewis uses the summer to regroup on the coast of Virginia, she plans to lie low at Pine Breezes campground. She doesn’t plan for her heart to be on a collision course with old friend Brodie Reed. They must decide if the past that looms between them will be too much for them to have a future together.

Draw You Near by Jan Thompson, author of the Savannah Sweethearts series
Savannah artist Abilene Dupree keeps her personal life out of her commercial paintings except one. That one painting has now brought Londoner Lars Cargill back to the coastal town and into her art world. Can she hold him at bay before he invades her personal space and her heart?

Orphaned Hearts by Marion Ueckermann, author of the Heart of Africa series
His faith buried with his wife, Simon devotes himself to raising his daughter and orphan elephants. Lady Abigail postpones an arranged marriage, leaving England to teach the children of Africa. Will his past—or her future—keep their hearts orphaned?

Grab a tall glass of lemonade or iced tea and dip your toes into a cool pool of water on a hot summer’s day while you enjoy the never-before-released Christian romance novellas in SPLASH! Scroll up and snag your copy today.

Amazon
KOBO
NOOK

autumn macarthurAutumn Macarthur is an Australian writer of inspirational romance living near London with her very English husband, three spoiled cats, and a guinea pig with a dandelion addiction. She loves reading, cooking, gardening, and writing deeply emotional stories to make you smile and remind you how big and wide and deep God’s love and forgiveness can be.

She tends to talk a little too much and laugh a little too loud, her sleep schedule is all over the place so you’ll often find her on the internet at 5am, and she’s grateful to be blessed with some good friends and a very patient husband. She’s also eternally thankful for God’s great love and mercy.

When she’s not talking to her strawberry plants or cherry blossoms, she can be found blogging at http://www.faithhopeandheartwarming.com, on Facebook as Autumn Macarthur, and on Twitter as @autumnmacarthur. She loves hearing from readers so do get in touch!

You can subscribe to her mailing list here.

Thanks for inviting me to visit your blog!

Friday Feature: A Love Like Ours by Becky Wade

23411527

A Love Like Ours by Becky Wade, Published by Bethany House.

A Love Like Ours is the third Porter Family book by Becky Wade and the second that I’ve read. It released on Tuesday, May 5th. Part of the proceeds of sales of the book now until May 17th will be given to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, an organization that helps veterans with physical and psychological injuries.

Lyndie James and Jake Porter were childhood best friends until her family moved from Texas to California and they lost touch. Now that her family has moved back to Texas, Lyndie is eager to work for her former best friend at Whispering Creek exercising the thoroughbreds he trains as well as rekindling their friendship. There’s only one problem: Jake Porter is nothing like the boy she used to know. Jake’s been broken by PTSD and survivor’s guilt in ways he thinks can never be repaired. The last thing he wants is to have Lyndie and her optimistic, unwavering faith around. He doesn’t want to see her hurt, either by the horses or by him.

Jake agrees to hire Lyndie despite his reservations. Lyndie is determined to show Jake that he’s not broken beyond repair, that God can fix him. She believes the boy she used to know and love is still in there, and that God wants to use her to heal him. But is she letting her attraction to Jake lead her into falling for the man she thinks God wants her to save? With Jake’s PTSD and lack of faith in God, is she setting herself up to be one of those girls that falls in love with a man and ends up heartbroken when she can’t change or fix him?

I. LOVED. THIS. STORY! There was very little not to like about this book. Becky Wade’s writing is so descriptive, it pulls you right in to the story and doesn’t let go. I could clearly see every character and understand them. Lyndie is optimistic and a believer in the impossible being possible without being annoying or irritating. Jake is tall, dark and brooding without being maudlin. Wade doesn’t downplay the seriousness of the issues faced by Jake and Lyndie to get to the happily every after, a fact which I appreciated. She shows the ugly realities or Cerebral Palsy, PTSD, Survivor’s guilt, and lost faith without sugar coating it. This makes the happily ever after even more satisfying because she doesn’t cheat or short change  the reader with a tidy ending. This story says sometimes life sucks, and it scars us in ways that may never fully heal, but we can keep living and living in love and abundance. God is good.

One thing I enjoy about reading a longer contemporary inspirational romance is the opportunity to have secondary characters and subplots to invest in. I especially love when it’s a book in a series and I can revisit beloved characters from previous books. One of the things that sets Becky Wade’s books apart is the well drawn secondary characters. I loved getting to see Celia and Ty again (from Meant to be Mine, book 2), as well as Uncle Danny and Bo and Meg. I also loved the subplot with Amber looking for love. None of this took away from the central plot. Everything worked together to show how God loves us and wants to give us good gifts no matter how unworthy we feel or how far we have strayed.

I would recommend A Love Like Ours to anyone looking for a longer inspirational romance filled with rich descriptive writing, fun and fully fleshed out secondary characters and subplots, a hero in serious need of God and love and a faith-filled, fantasy land dwelling, feisty heroine with more than enough courage to love a stubborn man back to life.

5*/A+

Friday Feature: Excerpt from The Truth About Hope

Erica here! It’s my pleasure to share an excerpt from Kate James’ new Harlequin Heartwarming title, The Truth About Hope (Erica insert: I love the title already and can’t wait to read this one!). I’ve been a fan of the Heartwarming line since it was revamped, and I hope you’ll enjoy this line of clean reads that pack an emotional one-two punch combo that will have you snot-crying and happy sighing in turn. You can learn more about the line’s author’s here. Now let’s dip a toe into The Truth About Hope!

In the pet store, Hope pushed the shopping cart up and down the aisles and tried to set her negative thoughts aside. But she found it more challenging to put Luke out of her mind.

            “That’s a lot of dog food,” the young clerk behind the counter commented as she rang up the two thirty-pound bags, a box of dog treats and a couple of chew toys.

“Yeah, and you’ll be seeing me back sooner than you’d think,” Hope said as she slipped her credit card and the receipt in her wallet. The clerk was too young to know her. After the encounter with Miranda, it was nice to have a pleasant interaction, free of tension. Hope slid the shopping bag over her arm, then hefted the first of the two large bags of kibble.

“Let me give you a hand with that.” The clerk came around to help just as the phone started ringing.

“Go ahead and answer that. I can manage,” Hope told her.

“You sure?”

Hope nodded.

“Thanks,” the clerk said as she rushed to answer the phone.

Hope pushed the plastic bag farther up her arm and hoisted the other bag of dog food. Weighed down and barely able to see over her load, she was glad her Jeep was only a few steps outside the shop. She maneuvered one of the bags farther up as it began to slide and raised her leg to balance the other one so she could reach for the door.

Just as she was about to open it, the door was pulled out of her grasp. She lurched forward and tumbled out the doorway. She hit the sidewalk hard, landing inelegantly on her hands and knees, her purchases scattered about. One of the bags of dog food had split and kibble was strewn around her.

Hope pushed to her knees and winced as raw skin scraped across the rough cement.

“I’m so sorry. Here, let me help…” A pair of large hands reached toward her. They froze and withdrew abruptly as Hope looked up and, from under the brim of her baseball cap, made eye contact with a pair of gold-flecked amber eyes—Luke Carter’s lion eyes.

The man before her was tall and fit. His face had matured in a rugged, handsome way. He looked the same and yet he didn’t.

Hope’s immediate reaction was excitement, that little thrill she’d always experienced when she’d been with him as a teen.

She lowered her head. “Great. Just great,” she muttered. Those mischievous fates just had to have another go at her today, didn’t they? Of all the people they could’ve thrown in her path, it had to be Luke. Probably served her right for not being able to keep her mind off him.

Erica again. Don’t you just love an awkward meeting? And apparently it’s not the first that Hope has had. I’m already wondering why Luke drew away so abruptly when he realized who Hope was, and why she’s been thinking aobut him. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to read this one!

On Tour with Prism Book Tours.

The Truth About Hope
by Kate James
Adult Contemporary Romance
May 1st 2015 by Harlequin Heartwarming

Who is Hope Wilson?

Is she the girl her former hometown thinks she is? Or the girl Luke Carter once loved–and maybe still does?

When Hope returns to Canyon Creek, Texas, to honor her father’s last wishes, there’s only one person on her mind: her high school sweetheart, Luke. The boy she lied to when she had to leave Canyon Creek as a teen, finding it easier to hide what she really felt than deal with the grief of loss. Her father’s fortune could make a big difference to Canyon Creek–but Hope finds that the townspeople have a long memory about his misdeeds. With a plan to make amends on his behalf, Hope learns the truth about herself. And the truth about love.

Kate James spent much of her childhood abroad before attending university in Canada. She built a successful business career, but her passion has always been literature. As a result Kate turned her energy to her love of the written word. Her writing has been recognized with a number of awards, including first place honors for Silver Linings in both the First Coast Romance Writers’ Published Beacon Contest and ACRA’s Heart of Excellence Readers? Choice Award. Her November Harlequin Heartwarming release, A Child’s Christmas, received first-place honors from Southern Magic, the Birmingham Chapter of the Romance Writers of America, for the 2015 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence!

Kate married her husband, Ken, in an elegant, ocean-front wedding on a tropical island. When they are not traveling, they split their time between their properties in southern and central Ontario in Canada, with their beloved black Labs, Harley and Logan.

Kate?s next novel is the first book in her K-9 Squad Trilogy, and is scheduled for release on October 1, 2015.

Follow the Tour:

Tour Giveaway

$30 Amazon Gift Card (INT)
5 Print Copies of The Truth About Hope (US/CAN Only)
1 ebook of The Truth About Hope (INT)

Ends May 15th

a Rafflecopter giveaway