“Are you published?” Chris asked.
“Yes.” She nodded and added, “Self-published.”
Pink heated her cheeks. She wasn’t about to tell him that she wrote romance and was considering erotica. She hadn’t decided yet. She read both, but she wasn’t sure she wanted to be an erotica writer. She wasn’t sure she had enough sexual experience or creativity to write a book that needed eight to ten sex scenes. She thought she could handle two or three at the most per book, which was what most of the romances she’d read had.
“I’m debating between writing contemporary romance or romantic suspense. You know, chick lit.” She did her best to make that sound boring and uninteresting.
“Chick lit,” he repeated. The corners of his mouth turned up. Was that code for mommy porn? His cock perked up at the news. What kind of naughty thoughts went through her mind? Damn, she was already hot, but that information made her down right volcanic. He’d have to get his hands on one of her books to check it out.
“You know, books you read at the beach, while waiting in line at the grocery store. Something with a Happily Ever After. Feel good books,” she added with a casual shrug. Then she cursed adding that last part.
His green eyes darkened with lust. Feel good books. He knew what that meant. Women all over America read books at night to ‘feel good’. Was she into that? Damn, his pants were getting tight in the crotch just thinking about the ways she could make him feel good.
She wanted to roll her eyes. Men were so predictable. They couldn’t help but think with their cocks. She should have known the man sitting across from her would be no different. He’d been a gentleman last night and had been polite so far, but the heat in his gaze betrayed the truth that his cock had taken over his brain once the conversation shifted to something that hinted at the notion of sexuality.
When would her bacon and eggs get here? She needed to finish this impromptu breakfast. She leaned closer to him and shook her head. “I don’t write about sex,” she stated matter-of-factly and a little annoyed.
It didn’t matter that she was going to write about sex. He didn’t need to know that was what she was considering. The way he looked at her suddenly made her feel dirty. Like she was some porn queen who’d fucked an entire town or a sports team. She wasn’t into group sex or even banging strangers. She liked to be wined and dined. She had high standards for men she’d be with romantically. But if the look he was giving her was typical for how men would approach her once they knew that she wrote romance, she’d have to come up with a pen name. It was becoming clear that keeping her writing persona separate from her true identity would be the best plan.
Chris leaned back in the booth and waved his hand as if wiping away dirty thoughts. “Of course not. I didn’t think you did.”
She raised an eyebrow.
“Look, you don’t owe me an explanation. I love books. The only bad book is an unread book, right?” Hopefully that appeased her.
Thankfully the waitress set their plates on the table in front of them at that moment. Clearing his throat, he thanked the waitress and grabbed a piece of bacon and shoved it into his mouth before he said something stupid.
Cassie picked up her fork and jabbed the liquid center of her egg. The yolk spilled out and flowed over the egg white. Would everyone look at her like she was a weirdo if they knew what she wrote? Could she live with that?
Karen Tjebben lives in central North Carolina with her wonderful husband, twin daughters, and two hamsters. When her girls left for kindergarten, Karen discovered that she needed to fill her days with something, and that was the beginning of her writing career. She loves to create worlds filled with unique characters that she hopes will delight and raise goose bumps on her readers. In her free time, she enjoys traveling with her husband and seeing the world through her daughters’ eyes.
… i’ll cry if I want to.
Oh boy, another birthday …
Karen could be excused for crying on her birthday, especially as it’s the first one since her husband got on a plane to the States and never came back. Then there’s the fact that her workmates were practically bribed to attend her birthday meal. But when a restaurant double booking leads to her sharing a table with single dad Elliot and his daughter, things start looking up.
As Karen gets to know Elliot she experiences feelings she thought she’d never have again. But is it enough? Or will the thing that destroyed Karen’s previous relationship also ruin things with Elliot?
Karen’s life isn’t at all what she thought it would be a decade ago when she was newly married, stupidly in love, and wholly optimistic about her future. Fast forward a decade and Karen is sitting in restaurant “celebrating” her fortieth birthday with her “friends” following the demise of her marriage and nothing to show for it but a load of loneliness and one true friend to her name.
Elliot would have been perfectly happy to celebrate his own fortieth birthday with a quiet dinner at home with his daughter. Unfortunately, his daughter has other plans and insists on a special dinner out. What neither counts on is having to share a large table with a group of strangers thanks to a scheduling error. As it happens, the night turns into one of the best of Elliot’s life when he meets Karen.
Neither Karen nor Elliot ever expected to find again what they have with one another. Though the relationship progressed fast and furiously, there is a solid foundation on which they can build. The getting to know one another is slow and steady with lots of loving in between. To make the whole experience even better is the addition of Elliot’s daughter who is smart, funny, independent, and ever so supportive of Elliot and Karen as a couple. In fact, in short order, the three become something of a small family and that is something each has so desperately wanted for a very long time.
As Karen and Elliot progress in their young relationship, the deep, dark secrets of their respective lives come to light. Karen divulges her inability to have children and her desperate need to be a mother, while Elliot explains how he came to be a single father. As it happens, both Elliot and Karen find neither has completely let go of their issues related to their past which makes moving forward into a happy and fulfilled future difficult. In fact, Karen is so committed to her future plans she is willing, no matter how much it hurts to give up Elliot and the love she has found with him. Elliot is so unsettled in certain aspects of his life he is willing to walk away from the greatest love he has ever known rather than admitting the truth and dealing with the issues.
The Bottom Line: It’s My Birthday is quite the hidden gem that kept me engaged from start to finish. This isn’t a sweet romance or the story of two naïve twenty-somethings but the story of two mature, settled adults starting entirely new chapters of their lives. In this way, It’s My Birthday is a mature read and that is one of its strongest aspects. This is the story of very real people, dealing with major life issues in the best way they know how. Both together and separately, Karen and Elliot are wonderful characters I felt absolutely capable of rooting for and wanting the best for. I also quite enjoyed the road they had to travel both together and separately to achieve their happily ever after. This isn’t a golden, flower-strewn path everyone skips merrily along, but a path that is plagued with issues, big and small, that these characters must endure, consider, and navigate in order to achieve their goals. In all, a very solid, very good read that I feel safe recommending to readers who enjoy a bit more maturity and substance in their reads.
When established house flippers Jazzi Zanders and her cousin Jerod donate a week’s worth of remodeling work to Jazzi’s sister Olivia, they’re expecting nothing more than back-breaking roofing work and cold beers at the end of each long, hot day. With Jazzi’s live-in boyfriend and partner Ansel on the team, it promises to be a quick break before starting their next big project—until Leo, an elderly neighbor of Olivia’s, unexpectedly goes missing . . .
When the friendly senior’s dog tugs Jazzi and the guys toward the wetlands beyond Olivia’s neighborhood, they stumble across a decomposing corpse—and a lot of questions. With Jazzi’s pal Detective Gaff along to investigate, Jazzi finds her hands full of a whole new mystery instead of the usual hammer and nails. And this time it will take some sophisticated sleuthing to track down the culprit of the deadly crime—before the killer turns on her next . . .
Jazzi Zanders is some kind of devoted to her family! When her sister, Olivia and Olivia’s boyfriend buy a new home that needs some work, Jazzie, the sisters’ cousin, Jerod, and Jazzi’s boyfriend, Ansel get the call to do the work . . . for free 😊 While the trio of house flippers are happy to help out, Jazzi isn’t quite as excited about the neighbors.
Just across from Olivia’s house is the home of Leo, his wheelchair bound wife, and their walk-loving dog. All three are perfectly delightful, Leo is full of neighborhood gossip, and the dog is simply adorable, but through no fault of their own, they drag Jazzi into a triple murder investigation. Yeah, Jazzi isn’t at all happy with the neighbors.
As work continues in Olivia’s home and at another site, Jazzi gets even deeper into the investigation. As ever, when Detective Gaff needs a second set of eyes, a new set of questions, or just a friendly face to tag along, he calls Jazzi. Jazzi’s quick mind and skill with problem solving makes her a good match for Gaff and between the two of them, they begin to unravel what happened to the three unfortunate souls they have discovered. Though none of the three victims initially appeared to be connected to one another, a web of connections quickly unfolds and tells both Gaff and Jazzi there is a serious killer out there willing to go to great lengths to protect his/her identity.
On top of the murders, Jazzi also has an absent boyfriend thanks to a load of guilt from his beloved sister. Though he is hesitant to be gone for a variety of reasons, Ansel agrees to go home leaving Jazzi to fend for herself with the murders and the renovation work. For both, the separation is difficult and brings into sharp focus just where each stand as far as their long-term commitment to one another and their relationship. To be sure, Jazzi has a great deal on her plate and most of it has nothing to do with her amazing cooking.
The Bottom Line: I have to say, this series evolved quickly, and I am loving the direction it is taking. Here are the highlights: 1) I liked the craziness of this plot with three seemingly unrelated deaths being intimately connected and tied together beautifully by the author, 2) I liked the inclusion of some many animals, 3) I liked the increased backstory as it related to Ansel and his truly terrible family, and 4) I liked the absolute evolution in nearly every major character. This is really a very solid book that speaks to the skill of the author and the bright future Jazzi Zanders has. YAY for us, dear reader, YAY for us 😊
A year after the death of her abusive fiancé, domestic violence counselor Sophia Barrett finds returning to work too painful. She escapes to Cornwall, England–a place she’s learned to love through the words of her favorite author–and finds a place to stay with the requirement that she help out in the bookstore underneath the room she’s renting. Given her love of all things literary, it seems like the perfect place to find peace.
Ginny Rose is an American living in Cornwall, sure that if she saves the bookstore she co-owns with her husband then she can save her marriage as well. Fighting to keep the first place she feels like she belongs, she brainstorms with her brother-in-law, William, and Sophia to try to keep the charming bookstore afloat.
Two hundred years before, governess Emily Fairfax knew two things for certain: she wanted to be a published author, and she was in love with her childhood best friend. But he was a wealthy heir and well out of her league. Sophia discovers Emily’s journals, and she and William embark on a mission to find out more about this mysterious and determined woman, all the while getting closer to each other as they get closer to the truth.
The lives of the three women intertwine as each learns the power she has over the story of her life.
For those of you who have been with me for a while, you know how much I adore a good past meets present read! In fact, this is one of my favorite tropes and I generally always rate these types of reads quite highly . . . . generally, but not always.
The Secrets of Paper and Ink appealed to me most in the chapters dealing with the present, rather than the past. While I completely understand the need for the chapters related to Emily Fairfax and the past, how her story tremendously impacts Sophia and her own life in the present, I found myself rushing through Emily’s chapters to read more of Sophia’s story.
From the beginning, I found Sophia’s strength to be her most admirable quality. Though she certainly doesn’t feel strong, or capable of moving past her pain, she is still willing to take a great big leap of faith to help herself. In Sophia’s case, the leap takes her across the big pond to Cornwall, England where she finds cheap accommodations and an ideal position working part time in a bookstore. On some level, Sophia knows she has found her salvation the moment she enters the bookstore. What’s more, she instantly recognizes another broken woman in the face of her new landlord/employer, Ginny.
In no time flat, Sophia has not only made herself at home, but made herself a fine new friend in Ginny. Together, the two women work hard to revitalize the flagging bookstore and make it a place that can serve and support both their needs and wants. For Sophia, the bookstore isn’t just an escape, but a chance to find her way toward a truly happy and healthy future. For Ginny, the bookstore represents a struggle to hold on to her failing marriage and make something of the mess she finds herself in. What neither woman expects is that not only will the bookstore save them both, but it will do so in most unexpected ways.
Within her first few days at the bookstore, Sophia finds an old novel that takes her on a journey into the past in order to solve the mystery of the past and uncover the identity of Emily Fairfax. With the help of Ginny’s handsome and attentive brother-in-law, William, Sophia searches and searches for the story of a woman who has all but been forgotten. The novel is the story of this young woman, one who wanted desperately to tell her story but was prevented from doing so because of her time and place in history. In so many ways, Sophia identifies with Emily Fairfax and with every step closer to identifying Emily, Sophia comes one step closer to her own moment of revelation, the moment when she can finally tell her own story, let go of her terrible past, and step forward into her bright future.
The Bottom Line: The very bottom line is this, I sincerely believe I would have liked this book even more if Sophia and Ginny’s stories alone had been covered and Emily’s left for another book altogether or not at all. Sophia and Ginny are by far the strongest of the characters and I found Emily, though somewhat interesting, to be nowhere near as strong as Sophia and Ginny. This is one of the few instances in which I did not care for the past coming back to impact the present. In fact, I could have done without that aspect of the read at all. What kept me at three starts is just how much I did like Sophia and Ginny. Each woman is at the lowest point in her respective life and with the help and support of one another, each is able to pick herself up, put herself back together, and come out stronger on the other side. With each page, each event, each new bombshell, Sophia and Ginny must dig deep, and I so enjoyed seeing them blossom and take control of their own lives. In the end, each finds a life only once dreamt of and now made possible through their own hard work and determination. As always, I do so love a character, male or female, who takes charge, takes control, and makes a better life for him/herself!
Kayla Arnold made her first million at the age of twenty, thanks to her Internet business, Fashion Finds. Young and rich, she became an easy mark for men looking to take advantage. Now ten years older and divorced, Kayla isn’t looking for love, she’s looking for no-strings-attached sex. Will signing up on a dating site bring her a man who meets her needs?
Devin Ford is smart, highly educated, aimless, and bored. At a party the night after his Ph.D. defense, he takes a bet to sign up on a sugar daddy dating website. With so few sugar mamas, he doesn’t expect anything to come of it. So he’s shocked when beautiful Kayla contacts him. And they’re both surprised when their first meeting leads to a night of mind-blowing sex. But the closer Devin wants to get to Kayla, the more she pushes him away. When he learns of the hell her ex-husband put her through, Devin decides to show her that not every man is out to use her—and that real love is priceless . . .
Kayla Arnold is a very wealthy woman thanks to her own creativity, determination, and hard work. Kayla Arnold is also a very lonely woman thanks to her own creativity, determination, and hard work. After a disastrous relationship in which her “partner” was far more interested in her wealth and the status she could provide him, Kayla is content to remain alone. Like in business, mistakes made on the personal level can be quite costly.
For so long, too long really, Kayla has been alone and while it hasn’t particularly bothered her in the past, the present is a different matter altogether. Her business is tremendously successful, her reputation within the industry is rock solid, yet she feels unsettled. Kayla attributes the feeling to two causes, she rarely has time anymore to create original designs and, she’s simply lonely. With little time for dating and/or meeting new people, Kayla has only one choice, the dreaded world of online dating.
While Kayla doesn’t have time to find her own online dating site, she does have a best friend with a wild idea. Her best friend proposes the Sugar Daddy site which won’t necessarily find Kayla the love of her life, but it will provide her with companionship. Though Kayla is reluctant, she does have an event or two coming up that would be far more manageable with a companion. That companion turns out to be the uber intelligent, if a little lost, but still ridiculously sexy, Devin Ford.
Devin may be super smart, but he has no idea what he wants to do with his life. What’s more, his shiny new PhD came with a huge price tag and he currently has no means of paying that bill. Though his friend punked him when she signed him up for the Sugar Daddy site, it seems to be paying off in the form of Kayla Arnold. According to their contract, Devin will earn a cool $10,000 for spending one week posing as Kayla’s boyfriend. Given Kayla’s appearance and general demeanor, the job won’t be a sacrifice at all and if they can build on their initial meeting, perhaps there will be more fun to be had beyond the fake boyfriend contract.
As expected, the week of events between Kayla and Devin reveal more about one another on both a personal and professional level. There is a genuine kindness in both Kayla and Devin that forms a basis for a real friendship and relationship. As Kayla grows to trust Devin, she reveals more of her past and begins to understand why she holds herself apart from others. The emotional vulnerability is hard on Kayla, but Devin finds ways to ease her pain and anxiety. Just as the two are moving toward something quite lovely, Kayla’s despicable ex makes an appearance and mucks up absolutely everything. With just the beginnings of relationship in place, Kayla and Devin both overreact, and all too quickly give up something that had the potential to be truly great.
The Bottom Line: Exactly what I was hoping for in this series happened in this book!! D’Abo didn’t limit the series to sugar daddies but went with a sugar momma and I loved it 😊 Both Kayla and Devin are sympathetic characters I liked instantly. I knew they were going to have to go through all kinds of crap to get to their HEA but every bit of awful is totally worth their ending. Aside from the romantic relationship, I particularly enjoyed the encounters between Kayla and the people of her past. Kayla is so broken and so jaded and her week back home both confirms and shatters those emotions and attitudes. Through most of it and where it really matters, Kayla maintains her kindness and professionalism, but when she needs too, she digs deep and unleashes some well-deserved anger. I like it, A LOT! I’m ready for more of this series and so glad it is in d’Abo’s skilled and practiced hands. A plot line such as this series has could easily become seedy and gross and in the hands of a less skilled author, it may well have done so. What you actually get with the Sugar series are real relationships wrapped in just the right amount of illicit and naughty.