Guest Post – Author Safia Fazlul

The Book Diva’s Reads is proud to host a guest post by Safia Fazlul, debut author of The Harem. Without further ado, I give you Ms. Fazlul…




Overcoming Writer’s Block
By Safia Fazlul

A while ago, during one of my many late-night procrastination sessions surfing the Internet, I came across an interesting article about writer’s block – particularly about the extreme sort that debut authors of fiction suffer from. I could empathize with the author of the article as I had an abundance of ideas for my second novel and still I spent hours just staring at my computer screen, not writing a single sentence. I was still attached to my characters in The Harem and the realization that their story had finished left me both relieved and saddened.

However, I refused to be yet another frustrated and unproductive new author and, so, I decided to try just about everything and anything to get me writing again. I’ve listed below the methods that are working for me and if you’re an author who often suffers from crippling writer’s block, hopefully they’ll work for you too:

·         Go somewhere secluded and empty of things. Writing fiction means to leave planet Earth and enter that fantasy setting in your head, which becomes very difficult when you’re surrounded by “real” everyday noise and distracting objects. My favourite place to write nowadays is at the library, in a small cubicle that’s hidden behind a long hall of book stacks. This place is so quiet and uneventful that I want to escape to my novel’s world.     
·         Quickly write a badly written paragraph. I think writers inherently recognize good and bad writing and need to urgently fix ugly sentences (or maybe that’s just me?). A piece of writing that’s been written quickly and without much thought will have many problems to solve – but it is still words on a page. Then, once I reread the paragraph and begin to edit it, I get so involved with the story that it makes it easier to continue writing it.   ·         Write to describe a character. A story progresses through its characters and to be committed to writing a novel, you must be committed to the characters in it. When I no longer feel enthused about the storyline, I simply start to list facts about my characters: their problems, their goals, their flaws, the way they look, the way they talk, and so on. My interest in the characters usually re-ignites the interest in their story and helps the writing come easier.       ·         Go for a long walk. Staring at a blank page all day can be very depressing as I feel like I’ve wasted a lot of time doing nothing. That feeling of failure definitely withers the mood for writing, and that’s when I turn off my computer, grab a bottle of water, and go for a walk outside. I find that the fresh air improves my mood and the long solitary stroll helps me regain my focus.

·         Read parts of your all-time favourite books.Authors are married to their writing but, just like in a marriage, sometimes the romance needs a little rekindling. When I simply don’t feel like writing, I try to relax and read my old favourites. Reconnecting with novels that have affected me is inspiring and reminds me of why I wanted to experience the pleasure (and sometimes pain!) of writing in the first place. Also, the flow of the writing of authors I admire makes the task seem less difficult.

·         Drink. Coffee, that is. I’ve cut down on coffee lately since I was bordering on caffeine dependency, but there’s no doubt that a hot, frothy latte in the morning wakes me up and helps me focus on my writing. Most days I substitute with green tea which pretty much has the same effect but a lot less caffeine per cup.       
·         Keep notes/review notes. Sometimes amazing ideas just come to you out of nowhere and disappear just as fast unless you make a note of it. I often keep a notepad and a pen in my purse to jot down a great sentence or a change in the plotline or some other detail. When I don’t have my notepad, I write it as a text message and send it to my inbox. Reviewing these notes helps the writing flow when I’m stuck as they’re small ideas that require more elaborate explanations.




The Harem by Safia Fazlul
ISBN: 9781894770989 (Trade paperback)
ISBN:  9781927494196 (ebook)
ASIN:  B00AZQ88VM (Kindle edition)
Publication date:  October 2012
Publisher: Tsar Publications

How far would you go to be free?

Humorous, though tinged with a sense of the tragic, at times risqué, and utterly contemporary, The Harem, is a fast-paced novel about young Asian women and their quest for freedom. Farina has only one dream: to be free and move away from Peckville, a Muslim ghetto in a large city. She is eager to escape the clutches of her strict parents who will not let her drink, party or have any kind of contact with males. As soon as she turns eighteen, she sets her dream in motion and gets her own apartment. The only problem is that her minimum-wage job leaves her feeling anything but liberated. How can she resist when her ambitious best friend Sabrina proposes an infallible business idea? How harmful can running as escort agency really be? Will she finally be freed by her increasing wealth and independence, or will she remain enslaved by her increasing guilt? 



About the author:

   

Safia Fazlul, of Bangladeshi background, was raised in Scandinavia and now lives in Toronto, where she attends the University of Toronto. When she was eighteen she found work as a “phone girl” for a high-end escort agency, an experience that inspired this novel.




Connect with the author:  Website     |     Goodreads

Buy the book:  Also available at Tsar Books 







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Book Blast: WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT

Title: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
Series: Always a Marine #10 | The Challenge Series
Author: Heather Long
Genre:Contemporary Romance, Interracial Romance, Military Romance
Publisher: Decadent Publishing
Format: Ebook
Length: 90 pages \ 25000 words


Book Description:

Have you ever woken up every day afraid of everything?

 

 

For single mom and widow Melody Carter, six months passed since an IED ripped her life apart. Everyone is sympathetic and offers platitudes of comfort and support. Everyone thinks they know why she’s grieving but Melody isn’t mourning her broken heart. She’s ashamed to be grateful her abusive husband won’t hurt her anymore and scared for her child. Born with a mild heart defect, her daughter needs lifesaving surgery and with her funds tight and her emotional scars tighter, she’s running out of options. When she receives an offer for assistance from Mike’s Place, can Melody put her faith in the men her husband called friend?

 

Have you ever woken up, day after day, to discover your body’s betrayal?

 

Marine Captain, Joe Anderson Cooper, received the Silver Star for Valor when he led his unit through heavy fire to rescue fellow Marines. Despite numerous injuries, the Captain refused medical aid, insisting that the medics attend others. A broken back and shattered bones put Captain Cooper in a wheelchair and every day is a battle to keep his recovery on track and his sanity intact. When a single mom moves in to the apartment next door to his and he recognizes a kindred—damaged—soul, can he overcome her fear and be the man she’s always needed?

Can these two lonely souls rise to the challenge or will their scars trap them forever?
Also be sure to check out the rest of the Always a Marine series!
Excerpt:

Letting herself out of the apartment, she locked up and turned to find her neighbor locking his door. He caught sight of her and smiled. “Good morning.” His deep baritone hummed over her senses. She appreciated the low voiced greeting.

“Good morning.” She wanted to say something more, but her brain locked up around the words. He eased his wheelchair back until nearly off the sidewalk and motioned for her to precede him. Biting her lip, she found another smile for him. “Thank you.” Her heartbeat accelerated and sweat cooled her spine. She didn’t hug the wall, but she couldn’t help widening the distance between them.

The wheels made the faintest squeaking noise after she passed, and she glanced back to see him following her down the path toward the parking lot. Maybe she should have offered to push. He wore an olive green t-shirt and a matching pair of slacks, though they were cut up the side of the large cast encasing his right leg from mid-thigh to his toes.

He—Joe, he said his name was Joe—met her gaze and gave her another easy smile. His eyes crinkled at the corners and the dimple in his cheek deepened. The sidewalk widened and she slowed to let him catch up.

“I’m sorry. I’m not the best company this morning.”

“No worries, ma’am. Little ones take a lot out of a body.” The buttery softness of his voice washed over her like a soothing balm—like the night before when he knocked on her door and introduced himself. He scared the hell out of her, but not in the same breath.

I must be tired. I have no idea what I’m feeling from one moment to the next. As if summoned by her thought, fatigue wavered through her and she stumbled. The diaper bag swung down her arm. She couldn’t catch it and hold the baby at the same time. Joe stopped the bag’s arc, and gave her a chance to catch her balance.

“May I?” He offered, still holding the bag.

May he what…? He wanted to carry the bag for her and she winced. It was heavy and he…

“I have plenty of room and then you don’t have to worry about it taking you off balance again.” The sound logic quashed her natural objections. She shifted Libby carefully and let the strap fall off her arm. Her internal alarms sounded. Giving him the bag didn’t give him some kind of power over her, but her gut tightened at the surrender of her possession.

He settled the bag against his lap and nodded encouragingly. “Just point me to your car…”

“Oh, I don’t drive. Well, I do but I’m not driving here. I’m actually just staying here for a few weeks and I’m waiting for the shuttle.” She tacked the last on with a grimace. “And apparently I’m as muddleheaded for real as I feel. Sorry. Thank you. The shuttle is scheduled to pick us up here in about…” She couldn’t look at her watch.

“Two minutes.” The captain supplied. “I’m waiting for the same shuttle.” His warm brown gaze turned studious. “Are you okay?”


About the Author:
Heather Long lives in Texaswith her family and their menagerie of animals. As a child, Heather skipped picture books and enjoyed the Harlequin romance novels by Penny Jordan and Nora Roberts that her grandmother read to her. Heather believes that laughter is as important to life as breathing and that the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus are very real. In the meanwhile, she is hard at work on her next novel.

Decadent Publishing
For more information about Decadent Publishing authors, books, and their submissions guidelines, visit www.decadentpublishing.com.
Decadent Publishing is currently accepting submissions in all sub-genres of romance, including their ongoing series.

World Book Night 2013

I’m pleased to announce that I was once again selected to be a World Book Night Giver. This year I’ll be giving out copies of The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh




My original plan was to give out books at the Charleston (WV) Town Center Mall in a concerted effort coordinated by the Kanawha County Public Library with other area World Book Night givers. My revised plan is to give out books at a local charity event, Holiday In Pink – A Breast Cancer and Health Awareness Event. Thanks are offered to the Holiday Inn & Suites of South Charleston (WV) for graciously allowing me the privilege of giving World Book Night books at this event!

What is World Book Night (WBN)? 

Click here for information and the answer. Each WBN giver will be provided 20 free (yes, FREE) copies of a book to giveaway to light or non-readers in an effort to promote reading and the love of reading. It is estimated that over 500,000 books will be given away this year.


Why April 23rd? 

This date was chosen for several reasons; April 23rd is the UNESCO International Day of the Book AND it’s William Shakespeare’s birthday. 

Is every WBN giver giving away the same book?

No. This year each WBN giver was able to choose from 32 different titles, so each giver will probably be giving away a different book. I chose The Language of Flowers because I read it and loved it (helps to know about the book being given away). To see the complete list of books for 2013 click here.

Ooh…that book is on my TBR list can I get a free copy?

No. Sorry but the whole purpose of WBN is to give books to light readers and non-readers, not to family or fellow book lovers.


If you’d like to get involved with WBN, donate funds or even sign up to be a WBN giver for 2014, then please visit WBN at: www.us.worldbooknight.org/



I’d like to personally thank World Book Night, all of the supporters of WBN, fellow WBN givers, and especially the publishers for making this event possible. I’d also like to thank the Kanawha County Public Library and the Charleston Town Center Mall for their assistance in this year’s World Book Night.

Happy Reading!


Book Blast: DAVID’S SONG

davids tour


David’s Song

Taken from the book cover: Annie only ever really loved two men in her life. One broke her heart, the other married her. Four children and fifteen years later, Annie’s marriage is in jeopardy. Money is tight and her husband questions the very foundation of their relationship. When Annie is unexpectedly given the opportunity to see the young man who broke her heart — a man who is now a megastar in the music industry — Annie is faced with choices. Choices that will determine what is of more value — a second chance at lost love and unfulfilled dreams or commitment, trust, and love built on years of experience.

A psychologically subtle, yet compelling tale about how the instinct and need for love overcomes self-doubt and personal inadequacy.






Author A.R. Talley

April R Talley was born and raised in the Rubber City, Akron, Ohio in 1959.  She is the youngest of six children.  She attended Brigham Young University for a time, but withdrew to work fulltime for Osmond Productions in Orem, Utah as a member of The Osmond production staff.  After a brief stint working in television, she returned to Akron to finish her education.  She graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Mass Media Communications in 1981.   April later worked as vice president and part owner of a dance and sportswear boutique.  Married in 1982, she is the proud mother of seven children and is deeply involved in volunteer work for her church.  April spends her time working on future projects, caring for home and family, and traveling.  David’s Song is her debut novel and the first of a trilogy.


Praise from reviews on Goodreads.com

“Not just your typical romance novel”  – Tracy Williams

“David’s Song is great read that leaves you thinking about the story and pondering your own relationships”.  – Anna Pavkov

“Sucked me in from the 1st page”  – Jill Walker

“Loved this book . . . could not put it down!”  – Dana Vieira







Book Blast Giveaway

$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 5/12/13



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Bookish Ramblings: Operation Paperback – A Worthy Cause

If you are anything like me, you probably have mounds of books around your house (okay, I have mounds of books, boxes filled with books, and bookshelves overflowing with books). One of my local book groups tries to have a book swap every 6-8 weeks so we can bring new-to-us books into our homes. There were numerous books left over after our last swap and I chose to bring the remaining books home with me. Some of these books have been donated to a local dialysis center, others went to a local homeless shelter, but the vast majority were sent to military personnel via Operation Paperback.


What is Operation Paperback? Operation Paperback is a non-profit organization that collects “gently-used” books and ships them to US military personnel, as well as to veterans and military families. This organization and its’ volunteers have shipped over 1.9 million books worldwide since it was established in 1999. I recently signed up as a volunteer shipper and received my first addresses (Yay!). I shipped a total of 16 books to 3 different addresses. Each recipient provides their genre preferences so volunteers can easily select the right books for the right recipient. As a volunteer shipper I packaged the books, counted the number of books packed into each box, shipped the boxes, and then reported my shipments at the Operation Paperback website. The only out-of-pocket expense I had was paying for the shipments (a small price to pay in the grand scheme of things, in my not so humble opinion).

To learn more about Operation Paperback, please visit the website: www.OperationPaperback.org.  If you want to sign up as a volunteer and ship your gently used books, sign up here. Don’t have any books you want to part with but still want to help? Operation Paperback also accepts monetary donations, more information is available here.

Connect with Operation Paperback:  Website     |     Facebook     |     Twitter

Do you recycle/donate your books after reading? If so please share where you donate your books.

Happy reading!

Book 90: ONE STEP TOO FAR Review

One Step Too Far by Tina Seskis
ISBN:  9780957544321 (paperback)
ASIN:  B00C9IW9OQ (Kindle edition)
Publication date: April 15, 2013
Publisher: Kirk Parolles


An apparently happy marriage. A beautiful son. A lovely home. So what makes Emily Coleman get up one morning and walk right out of her life to start all over again? Has she had a breakdown? Was it to escape her dysfunctional family – especially her flawed twin sister Caroline who always seemed to hate her? And what is the date that looms, threatening to force her to confront her past? No-one has ever guessed her secret. Will you?




We’re first introduced to Emily Coleman as she leaves her family in Chorlton, taking a train to London. When she arrives in London, she is now Catherine “Cat” Brown and has obviously run away from her family. Not much is revealed about Cat except that her full name is actually Catherine Emily Brown Coleman, she is in late 20s/early 30s, she was educated as a lawyer, and that she is a wife and mother. 

Cat finds housing in a boarding house in East London and is befriended by one of the residents, Angel. Within one week of arriving in London Cat finds temporary employment as a receptionist for an advertising firm that becomes a permanent job. She gradually works her way up to account manager in less than one year. There’s obviously something traumatic in Cat’s past and Cat seems to understand that even though she has run away from her family and tried to start a new life, she can’t run away from her memories. Bits and pieces of Cat’s past are revealed as the story progresses. Cat has a twin sister, Caroline, and this sister has had a lifetime of mental health issues. Cat’s parents have a strange and strained relationship that apparently doesn’t really work for either of them and eventually they separate and divorce. Caroline has been hospitalized off-and-on for depression, drug rehabilitation, and more and has always been angry and antagonistic towards Cat. 

I found One Step Too Far to be an extremely slow read simply because it would jump back and forth between the present and the past and nothing ever seemed to be tied together. It was also difficult to watch as Cat tried to drown her sorrows in alcohol and illegal drugs. Although Ms. Seskis makes a point of highlighting Caroline’s mental health issues and the dysfunctional nature of Cat’s family, nothing is ever really resolved with Cat’s obvious mental health issues. Caroline is a bit twisted and sometimes downright evil and spiteful. Cat’s friend Angel is a good friend, but she’s also the one that introduced Cat to illegal drugs. Cat obviously can’t deal with some painful issue in her past, but running away and creating a new identity obviously doesn’t work. Cat comes across as very mature at times with how she recreates herself and finds success in her new life. But as some mysterious anniversary looms, she appears immature as she struggles to deal with this date and comes perilously close to sabotaging her recreated life rather than dealing with the root cause of her problems. The ending attempts to resolve some issues, but I found the resolution just raised more questions than it attempted to answer. One Step Too Far didn’t work for me. I didn’t find any of the characters very likeable. The story dragged quite a bit (for me) and often didn’t really seem to be going anywhere. The ending was a major surprise and seemed to be a rather weak attempt to bring all elements of the story together. This story was just a little too dark and depressing for me to find it an enjoyable or even enlightening read.

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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Chocolate-inspired Bookish Ramblings

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”   Charles M. Schulz



It’s beginning to look and feel like Spring which means it’s time for the Lewisburg Chocolate Festival. This delightful (and delicious) festival has been celebrating all things chocolate for seven years with tastings, children’s events, movies, music, a chocolate themed dinner, chef demonstrations and more.  I’ll be spending the day with a few friends and my 16 y.o. niece celebrating the joys of white, dark, milk and flavoured chocolate. I know this event isn’t exactly book-related, but here are a few books featuring chocolate to pique your reading interest and tease your taste buds.




Up first is the classic Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. This book has been a favorite of children and adults ever since it was first published in 1964. You’ve probably seen the movie, but (trust me) you need to read the book! (Psst . . . the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory movie will be shown at this year’s festival.)


Willy Wonka’s famous chocolate factory is opening at last!

But only five lucky children will be allowed inside. And the winners are: Augustus Gloop, an enormously fat boy whose hobby is eating; Veruca Salt, a spoiled-rotten brat whose parents are wrapped around her little finger; Violet Beauregarde, a dim-witted gum-chewer with the fastest jaws around; Mike Teavee, a toy pistol-toting gangster-in-training who is obsessed with television; and Charlie Bucket, Our Hero, a boy who is honest and kind, brave and true, and good and ready for the wildest time of his life!




Next up is an ALA Best Book for Young Adults award winning book, The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier. This book was first published in 1974 and has also been made into a movie (read the book!). Who knew that refusing to sell chocolate for a school fundraiser would result in such a wonderful read?


Jerry Renault ponders the question on the poster in his locker: Do I dare disturb the universe? Refusing to sell chocolates in the annual Trinity school fund-raiser may not seem like a radical thing to do. But when Jerry challenges a secret school society called The Vigils, his defiant act turns into an all-out war. Now the only question is: Who will survive? First published in 1974, Robert Cormier’s groundbreaking novel, an unflinching portrait of corruption and cruelty, has become a modern classic.





First published in 1984, Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel has delighted readers around the world. Ms. Esquivel provides a story that incorporates magical realism with history, romance and passion for a read that is sure to delight.


A sumptuous feast of a novel, it relates the bizarre history of the all-female De La Garza family. Tita, the youngest daughter of the house, has been forbidden to marry, condemned by Mexican tradition to look after her mother until she dies. But Tita falls in love with Pedro, and he is seduced by the magical food she cooks. In desperation, Pedro marries her sister Rosaura so that he can stay close to her. For the next twenty-two years, Tita and Pedro are forced to circle each other in unconsummated passion. Only a freakish chain of tragedies, bad luck and fate finally reunite them against all the odds.




Needless to say there are countless other reads in a variety of genres that feature chocolate in their titles or storylines. I was rather astonished when a Goodreads search returned with over 2800 books. Most of these had chocolate in the title, some titles were repeat listings due to variations in print (hardcover, paperback, trade paperback, foreign language versions, etc.), and others presumably featured chocolate in the storyline. There were a few returns that had me scratching my head, such as the ESV Study Bible.

I won’t be doing much reading this Saturday, well at least not during the day. I hope that everyone has a delightful weekend. I’m off to enjoy some chocolate (okay a lot of chocolate).


Happy reading!


Book 88: MISS JULIA’S GIFT Review

Miss Julia’s Gift by Ann B. Ross

ISBN:  9781101633694 (ebook)
ASIN:  B00AR2RZ36 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: January 29, 2013
Publisher: Penguin Publishing

From New York Times bestselling author Ann B. Ross, a delightful story in which Miss Julia discovers the joy of giving and receiving gifts—and just in time for Valentine’s Day 

  

Featuring the beloved stars of the Miss Julia novels—Luanne, Lillian, Hazel Marie, and of course, Miss Julia herself—Miss Julia’s Gift is a funny and moving meditation on love, marriage, and the purpose of gift-giving. Miss Julia finds herself reminiscing about her first year of marriage to Sam Murdoch. Everything seemed perfect—alarmingly so. Miss Julia feared that Sam would morph from a sweet and loveable man into a replica of her loathsome first husband, the boring and deceitful Wesley Lloyd Springer. Even Sam’s adorable habit of giving her gifts for all holidays and occasions—no matter how minor—caused Miss Julia anxiety. When will the other shoe drop, she wondered? After some soul-searching and valuable advice from her friends, Miss Julia comes to understand that Sam is nothing like Wesley—and never will be. Then, just in time for Valentine’s Day, she thinks up the perfect romantic gift for her husband and realizes which gift she values most of all. 


Miss Julia has seen her fair share of drama and adventure. Just a few weeks after her first husband’s death she learns that he had a mistress and child out-of-wedlock. She then stuns her friends and neighbors by taking the mistress and child into her home and under her wing. Her ex-husband didn’t exactly provide her with a glowing example of what a husband should be. Now she’s in her second marriage and although she dearly loves her new husband, Sam Murdoch, she isn’t quite sure what to do about his spontaneous gift giving. 

Miss Julia’s Gift is a short story that was a special release earlier this year. Ms. Ross provides a little more insight into what makes Miss Julia tick with this story. The reader is allowed to appreciate how Miss Julia thinks and although she is quite happy in her second marriage, she obviously still has issues remaining from her first. Miss Julia’s Gift is not so much about the actual giving and receiving gifts as it is a lesson to appreciate the effort that is made and intention behind the gift. Although Miss Julia’s Gift was released as a Valentine’s Day read, it is perfect for anytime of the year. If you enjoy reading the Miss Julia series, then you definitely want to add this to your to-be-read list. If you haven’t read any of the Miss Julia series, what are you waiting for?

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Book 87: KENTUCKY HOME Review

Kentucky Home (A Southern Comfort Novel) by Sarah Title
ISBN:  9781601831149 (ebook)
ASIN:  B00AKI4IX2 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: April 18, 2013
Publisher: Kensington

In this warm and witty new series, author Sarah Title introduces readers to the down home Kentucky hospitality of the Carson family and their Wild Rose Farm and Stables. It’s a place where love is always possible–and sweeter than ever the second time around…

Mallory Thompson and Keith Carson are far from impressed with each other when she arrives at his family’s horse farm, fleeing an abusive marriage. Mallory sees nothing but a gruff man who’s as patronizing as her soon-to-be ex-husband, and Keith has no time for a city girl who’s afraid of dogs. But the struggling Wild Rose is too small to allow anyone to keep their distance…

As one by one, Mallory wins the hearts of his family, from his cranky father to his headstrong younger sister and three-legged dog, Keith finds himself more than a little attracted to her stubborn charm. And the longer Mallory stays, the more she realizes Keith is nothing like the overbearing bully she married–and the more she fantasizes about being in his strong, loving arms. Maybe some folks get a second chance to make a first impression after all…


Mallory Thompson appears to have it all — a loving husband, wealth, and a beautiful home . . . but appearances can be deceiving. Mallory has been on the receiving end of emotional, psychological and verbal abuse from her husband, Dr. Michael Thompson for a number of years. He has told her what to wear, sabotaged any possibility of her having a job, and made her daily life a living hell. Even after their “separation” he continued to demean her by bringing women into their home and expecting her to continue to provide for him as part of her wifely duties. Mallory finally decides to leave Michael after he hits her, but she has nowhere to go and is afraid for her safety. Luckily, the only friend she has, Luke Carson, comes up with a plan and takes her to his family in Kentucky. 

Mallory is quickly made to feel at home in Kentucky. Luke’s family opens their arms and home to her and she quickly finds enjoyment in the simple pleasures of life. In a short period of time Mallory has learned to overcome her fear of dogs and befriends Peanut (a three-legged rescue dog). She also learns what it’s like to be a part of a family for the first time in a long time. 

Kentucky Home is a contemporary story that blends just the right amount of romance with self-discovery not to mention humor. Mallory learns to fight for her freedom and begins to build a new life for herself in Kentucky. I found all of the characters, even the bad guy, to be well-developed and realistic. The simple rural life that Ms. Title provides is an excellent backdrop for the action within the story. Running a business is difficult work in these current economic times and this isn’t downplayed whether it’s the veterinarian’s business or the stables. It was nice to see Mallory grow in strength of mind and purpose. Good food, good friends and a simple life provide Mallory with the foundation she needs to learn to appreciate who she is and what she wants out of life. Kentucky Home is a well-written contemporary romance that you don’t want to miss. I found this to be a fast-paced read that provided just as many smiles from the humor as it did sizzles from the romance. I look forward to reading more from Ms. Title and the Southern Comfort series.

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Book 85: THE ASHFORD AFFAIR Review

The Ashford Affair by Lauren Willig
ISBN:  9781250014498 (hardcover)
ISBN:  9781250027191 (ebook)
ASIN:  B009HP01I0 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: April 9, 2013
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

As a lawyer in a large Manhattan firm, just shy of making partner, Clementine Evans has finally achieved almost everything she’s been working towards—but now she’s not sure it’s enough. Her long hours have led to a broken engagement and, suddenly single at thirty-four, she feels her messy life crumbling around her. But when the family gathers for her grandmother Addie’s ninety-ninth birthday, a relative lets slip hints about a long-buried family secret, leading Clemmie on a journey into the past that could change everything. . .

Growing up at Ashford Park in the early twentieth century, Addie has never quite belonged. When her parents passed away, she was taken into the grand English house by her aristocratic aunt and uncle, and raised side-by-side with her beautiful and outgoing cousin, Bea. Though they are as different as night and day, Addie and Bea are closer than sisters, through relationships and challenges, and a war that changes the face of Europe irrevocably. But what happens when something finally comes along that can’t be shared? When the love of sisterhood is tested by a bond that’s even stronger?

From the inner circles of British society to the skyscrapers of Manhattan and the red-dirt hills of Kenya, the never-told secrets of a woman and a family unfurl.


Clemmie (Clementine) Evans is a hard-working woman. She’s dedicated seven years of her life to the law-firm of Cromwell, Polk & Moore and is the fast-track (if seven years is considered fast) to be considered a junior partner. Clemmie has no social life to speak of and has recently broken up with her fiancé. She does, however, make time to attend her grandmother’s ninety-ninth birthday party. One little slip of the tongue sets off an investigation into her family’s past.

Adeline (Addie) Gillecotte was orphaned at age six and sent to live with her father’s half-brother, the current Earl of Ashford, and his family at Ashford Park. She is quickly befriended by her cousin Bea and the two become as close as sisters. Bea grows up to be “the debutante of the decade,” marries the Marquess Rivesdale and goes off to London taking Addie with her. Unfortunately Bea quickly becomes bored with her life, especially since her husband is prone to go off to the country with his mistress. In an effort to make her husband jealous she embarks on an affair with Addie’s friend, Frederick Desborough . . . an affair that ends one marriage and quickly forces her into another. Frederick and Bea leave England behind and travel to Kenya where disaster strikes and changes the Desborough family forever.

Ms. Willig has provided another great read that blends contemporary and historical storylines. The past is presented as Addie’s story from 1906 through the late 1920s. Addie’s life with her uncles and cousins wasn’t necessarily a hard life, but she never quite fit in at Ashford Park. She strives to make a life for herself in London after Bea’s disastrous affair, and eventually finds gainful employment and a beau. Both Addie and Bea’s lives are changed in Kenya. Clemmie is on a quest to find out just what happened to her grandparents in Africa, and ultimately discovers what she wants from life. I found The Ashford Affair to be a fast-paced and engaging read. Ms. Willig drew me in from the very first page and held my attention to the end. The Ashford Affair provides a tantalizing blend of family drama, romance, and intrigue and is the perfect read for a springtime weekend read.



Read an excerpt here.

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



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