Excerpt, Giveaways, Guest Blog, Reviews

Guest Post and #Review of Keeping a Warrior (Loving a Warrior #2) by Melanie Hansen w/a rafflecopter giveaway! #contemporaryromance @MelJoyAZ @carinapress

Keeping a Warrior

by Melanie Hansen

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GENRE: Contemporary Romance

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BLURB:

Devon Lowe is a survivor.

A survivor of war. Of combat. And of a betrayal by men she considered her brothers-in-arms. But her trailblazing work as a Cultural Support Team member working alongside the Navy SEALs is too important for her to back down now.

Fresh off a painful break-up, Air Force pararescueman Rhys Halloran recognizes Devon’s trauma for what it is—something that’s left her isolated, but far from irreparably damaged.

With Devon’s trust still lying shattered back in Afghanistan, putting her faith in a man who’s nursing a broken heart isn’t easy. But she’s tired of people making her feel weak, and Rhys makes her feel anything but, sparking a heated attraction that was never part of the plan.

With all eyes on Devon to prove herself in a brutal man’s world, having it all will mean putting her heart on the line like never before. But when it comes to Rhys, it’s an uphill battle she’s ready to fight.

Publisher’s Note: Keeping a Warrior deals with topics some readers may find difficult, including past sexual assault.

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Excerpt One:

The night before, for the first time since he could remember, Rhys had fallen asleep with another woman on his mind.

The same woman now sitting and staring pensively at the plane. After a moment’s hesitation, Rhys gathered his courage and approached her, not sure of his welcome.

“Mind some company?”

Devon glanced up with what looked like a genuine smile. “Not at all.”

Rhys lowered himself to sitting and drew his knees up, ankles crossed, loosely draping his arms around them. “You okay?”

With a shrug, Devon mirrored his pose and nodded at the plane. “Just sitting here trying to analyze my feelings.”

“About going back?”

“Mmm.”

“I can imagine those are some pretty complicated feelings,” Rhys said gently.

“Yeah, well, I’m in a totally different place now, at least. Back then I was so idealistic, so trusting, so goddamn stupid.”

Rhys didn’t say anything, just let her talk.

“I thought that bad things couldn’t happen to me, or if they did, it’d be something heroic, you know? Not—” She shook her head. “And now all I want to do is reclaim that part of myself that someone else took from me.”

A lump rose into Rhys’s throat at the slight quaver in her voice.

“Well, this time around you have me,” he said fiercely. “You have the guys.” He nodded his head toward Matt and Shane, who were leaning against a nearby wall, arms crossed, each with one booted foot propped against it, heads close together.

Devon smiled when she saw them. “Think they worked everything out?”

Rhys was about to say he hoped so when Matt pushed off the wall. As he did, Shane snaked his hand behind him and gave his ass a firm pinch, followed by a discreet pat. Matt elbowed him, hard, but he was smiling while he sauntered away.

“Um, I think that’s a pretty safe bet.”

He and Devon snickered together, and she bumped him with her shoulder. “You’re right. It’s gonna be different this time, for lots of different reasons.”

I love talking about my research because I love to do it! Researching a topic is my favorite part of writing a book. The first thing I do when I decide on a subject to write about is open a draft email. That’s where I keep links to articles that I find, or ideas that pop into my head, or even snippets of dialogue. I like draft emails because then it’s available to me across all my devices—from my work computer to my phone to my iPad. It’s always at my fingertips to add to because I never know when inspiration will strike. A lot of times the best dialogue comes to me when I’m driving and listening to music. The minute I stop at a light, I can whip my phone out and jot it down in my draft email in a few seconds.

Another thing I love to do is read non-fiction books or blogs authored by people in the profession I’m writing about, or who have directly experienced the topic of my story. That way I can get a feel for the vocabulary used in the job, the culture around it, and some of the things they experience or feel while performing it. An example of this is the military. I read military non-fiction voraciously, especially since I’ve never served and never will. Because of my reading, I have a good feel for that way of life. I do try to stay away from military fiction, especially romance, because I don’t want another author’s writing to influence mine.

The last—and best!—thing I do for research is listen to podcasts hosted by people in my characters’ professions. There’s nothing like hearing about it in someone’s own words, from their own mouths and in their own voice. The perfect example of this is with Navy SEALs. There are some excellent podcasts hosted by ex-SEALs, and I learn so much about the culture from them. They share anecdotes, and use their internal terminology, and all of that really helps me add authenticity to my stories. Not to mention, they’re just fun to listen to!

So that’s a little bit about my research! Thanks so much for hosting me today!

This is my first book by Ms. Hansen and I was very impressed.  I will admit that went to Amazon and read some of the reviews on her other books.  And no, I didn’t cheat and read the reviews for this book.  I wanted to be surprised and Ms. Hansen did surprise me.  First with her writing.  It is smooth, she has certainly done her research and she takes her time with her characters and their development.  Her characters are some of the more fleshed out that I’ve read in a long time.  Devon and Rhys could be your next-door neighbors.  I love how Ms. Hansen let them get to know each other first, become friends and then lovers.  She took her time with them and let me tell their story.  Even Shane and Matt were well-drawn secondary characters.  And yes, their story is the first book in the series.

I will have to say that what Devon went through, off the page, is something that needs to be talked about and sadly it’s not.  The military is still a boys club and women shouldn’t have to put up with that at all.  How Devon coped with it and ultimately dealt with it was great.  It didn’t define her and when she realized that not military men are pigs, she developed real relationships with them.  Also, Rhys was there for her as a friend and comrade to help her through her self doubt at times.  Oh, she can totally take care of herself.  Just wait and read.  That’s what makes the romance work in the book.  Rhys had enough to deal with concerning his ex and didn’t know what to think of the feelings that he was developing for Devon.  Devon was very upfront with him from the beginning and it just worked.

Some of the other content is set in a combat zone and Ms. Hansen doesn’t sugarcoat it.  While this is a military book, she doesn’t use it as a backdrop for the characters and the relationships formed from it.  Again, I can not talk enough about the characters in this book.  I wish they were my friends in real life.  They genuinely care about each other and not just when they are on a mission.  I read a lot of military romance books and Ms. Hansen has really nailed the genre with just this one book that I have read.  I don’t need to know all the “secrets” that the military does but a general understanding is good and that’s what Ms. Hansen will give you.  Her characters and their stories are more important.

I just fell in love with Rhys and Devon.  Their romance is slow, sweet and bit sexy.  I appreciate the fact that they took their time before hitting the sheets and let their relationship take its time.  Also, Matt and Shane took a piece of my heart, too.  And yes, I bought the book.  I just have to know the backstory and those two.  Do yourself a favor and read this book.  You will believe in the power of healing yourself and letting love in to help you heal, too.  Most importantly, did I mention that Rhys is a redhead?

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AUTHOR Bio and Links:

 

Melanie Hansen doesn’t get nearly enough sleep. She loves all things coffee-related, including collecting mugs from every place she’s visited. After spending eighteen years as a military spouse, Melanie definitely considers herself a moving expert. She has lived and worked all over the country, and hopes to bring these rich and varied life experiences to the love stories she gets up in the wee hours to write. On her off-time, you can find Melanie watching baseball, reading or spending time with her husband and two teenage sons.

Buy Link:

https://www.amazon.com/Keeping-Warrior-Loving-Book-ebook/dp/B07J3CW95D/

Social Media:

https://melaniehansenbooks.com

https://twitter.com/MelJoyAZ

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100009084006829

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13505006.Melanie_Hansen

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GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER CODE

Melanie Hansen will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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Excerpt, Giveaways, Harlequin Spotlight, Meme, Reviews

Review of The Changeup by Rhonda Shaw w/$25 GC giveaway

NBtM R The Changeup Banner copy

Okay, before we start with the usual, I just want to say that I worship baseball!  My husband is the head coach of our son’s team and our first game is Monday!  Woot!  Carry on…oh and I cheated.  Today is typically reserved for category romances from Harlequin and Entangled.  Hey, Carina Press is a Harlequin company.  😉

The Changeup

by Rhonda Shaw

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BLURB:

 

Playing for keeps

 

After nine years of striking out in the dating department, Maddie Hamlin is throwing in the towel. But just as this mom resolves to remain single, she meets sweet and sexy pitching phenom Chase Patton at a family dinner. He’s perfect for her and aside from the fact he’s only twenty-two.

 

Chase knows he should be focusing on his rookie year with the Detroit Rockets, but he can’t stop thinking about Maddie. He doesn’t care that the beautiful school counselor is twelve years older, and he’s already lost his heart to her adorable daughter. When an incredible date leads to an incredible night of passion, he knows he never wants to let her go.

 

But dating in the media spotlight is a whole new ball game. Maddie quickly discovers that not everyone accepts their unconventional relationship and that finding love may mean losing everything else…

MEDIA KIT The Changeup

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Excerpt Two:

 

Maddie felt herself blush fiercely at the lingering look he gave her, but she remained where she stood and watched as he walked through the living room and out the front door, keeping a smile plastered on her face even though it felt as if everything was freaking out internally. When the door closed behind him, she closed her eyes as she let out the breath she’d been holding and slouched against the counter. This was a bad idea. Nothing good could come from it; in fact, the only possible outcome was one of them getting hurt. But even knowing that, she couldn’t stop herself. She couldn’t ignore the fact that he got her juices flowing without much effort.

 

Despite all that, it wasn’t enough. She was much older than he was. They were in two different stages of their lives; there was nothing to build on. While she was looking to lead a quiet, comfortable and peaceful life, he should be looking for excitement, thrills and new experiences—casualness versus commitment, living-it-up versus settling down.

 

And then there was the inevitable scrutiny of their age difference. Even if they got past it, others would comment on it. Their families would definitely have opinions on the matter and families were never ones to keep their opinions to themselves, especially ones that had people like Lenore in them, regardless of the existing awkward situation with Chase and her niece. How would they ever get past that? It wouldn’t be easy, but was it worth it?

 

bookreviewI’m not sure whether to continue crying over Maddie and Chase’s story or personally thank Rhonda (who I do NOT know personally or social media wise at all) for writing my personal love story.  See, I’m 7 years older than my husband.  I let our age difference come between us one too many times and I almost lost him due to that one hangup I had.  He sometimes doesn’t let me forget it either.

I “got” all the emotions that Maddie went through with Chase.  What would people think about the age difference?  Was she out for his fame?  And about her daughter Bree?  And let’s not forget about her family.  I personally didn’t have to worry about my family.  They loved my now husband regardless.  In fact, I hate “talkings to” because I was being an idiot over the age thing.  🙂  Even my grandmother’s got to me.  I love Maddie’s family even if they were meddling and a bit off.  Not everyone’s family is perfect.

Chase is totally wise beyond his years.  Plus, OMG he wasn’t an ALPHA.  I’ve grown tired of the heroes that I’m reading that play the Alpha, chest beating, I know what’s good for everyone card.  Ms. Shaw wrote an entertaining, very patient, sexy and thoughtful hero.  Plus, he plays baseball.  Woot!  That’s another thing…I worship baseball and having Chase actually play baseball was a welcome addition to the story.  Most so-called sports romances don’t even have a sports scene in them.  Boo!  No one cares about the back office/politics of the sports world.  Just my two cents since I worked the back office operations of the Dallas Stars hockey team.

I would be remiss to mention that once Maddie and Chase got together it was sweet, tender and HAWT.  But great sex doesn’t make for a great relationship.  Maddie had more hangups and mixed emotions about Chase than I’ve seen in a long time.  But that’s what makes this book was good.  Ms. Shaw wrote the story in a way that I liked.  This was no quick fix for Maddie.  When she finally decided I was relived.  If I had a doubt it was because I felt like I reading my story with all the wishy washyness and angst.

Peeps, please pick up Ms. Shaw’s debut.  She hits a home run with me!  She told my romance story with my husband, minus that my husband isn’t a baseball player.

5harlies

recommend-harlies- new

 

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AUTHOR Bio and Links:

 

After writing one mind numbing technical document after another, Rhonda Shaw decided to combine her love of writing with her love of reading romance. Born in California, but transplanted to the Midwest, Rhonda is a warm weather girl to the bone. She works in the software development industry and was a lifelong dancer until her body told her it was time to come down off her toes.  For more information about Rhonda and her books, please visit her website at http://www.rhondashaw.com.

Website – http://www.rhondashaw.com

Twitter – https://twitter.com/AuthorRShaw

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/authorrhondashaw
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Book Trailer, Character Interview, Excerpt, Reviews

Character Intervew & ARC Review of Some Like It Royal by Heather Long

SomeLikeItRoyal

 

Going Royal

Some Like it Royal

by HEATHER LONG

Quick Facts:

 

Some Like it Royal

Going Royal

Release Date: January 13, 2014

 

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

 

Blurb:

 

It’s the role of a lifetime…

 

Living out of a car and waiting tables to make ends meet is hardly the stuff of fairy tales. So when a gorgeous man approaches Alyx Dagmar with a wild story about her royal lineage and an even wilder proposition, the aspiring actress is sure he’s got the wrong woman.

 

Self-made billionaire Daniel Voldakov needs connections before he can expand his software business into Europe. A blue-blooded fiancée would open all the right doors—and Daniel’s certain he can tempt the pretty but penniless Princess Alyxandretta to accept the part she was born to play.

 

Alyx can’t resist Daniel’s offer, and throws herself into the role. But as the paparazzi fall in love with their “storybook romance,” Alyx finds herself drawn to Daniel in ways she’d never imagined. Are his returned affections true, or all just part of the plan? He’ll do anything it takes to prove his love, and to make her see that the only happily ever after he wants is with her…the real her.

 

 

CHARACTER INTERVIEW:

We’re sitting down with Daniel Voldakov and his fiancée Alyx Dagmar, better known as Her Royal Highness, Alyxandretta. First and foremost, I wanted to thank you both for taking the time to chat with me today. And let’s get right to it. Speculation about the two of you is running rampant, and our viewers submitted a number of questions. First up, Daniel…

Cotton or Silk?

 

Alyx bursts out laughing and Daniel clears his throat. “I prefer Alyx in silk, though I have no complaints about cotton.”

 

The interviewer grins. “Our next question is for both of you.”

 

Champagne/beer/wine?

 

Alyx and Daniel glance at each other and then to the interviewer. “Wine,” they agree. “Though, I don’t mind a beer now and then,” Daniel adds.

 

Describe Alyx to me, Daniel?

 

Tipping his head toward the interviewer in a brief nod, Daniel turns to face Alyx and smiles. “Stubborn, smart, and sassy. Life didn’t hand her an easy road, but she meets every challenge with determination and grace that never fails to take my breath away.”

 

Describe Daniel for me, Alyx?

 

Alyx dabbed at the corner of her eyes and gave Daniel a watery smile, before clearing her throat. “Not sure I can top that. Crazy. Generous. Clever. Oh my God, he’s clever. And if I’m stubborn, he’s even more so—his optimism is a work of art. It doesn’t hurt that he’s gorgeous on top of all of that. Practically perfect, in every way.”

 

The interviewer takes a moment. “Wow. Oh…yes, where were we? Um, this is for both of you.”

 

Favorite food?

“Ice cream sundaes,” Daniel answers and lifts Alyx’s hand to his lips. “With lots of whipped cream.” A telling blush lights up Alyx’s cheeks.

 

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

 

Alyx looks at a loss for an answer, but Daniel shrugs. “Wherever Alyx is.”

 

“Oh, that’s a good answer.” She grins and adds, “Wherever I am.”

 

Their laughter is mutual and warm.
What’s next for you? 

 

“The Morning Shows,” Daniel responds without missing a beat. “Then lunch.”

 

What traits in Alyx/Daniel do you find desirable? 

 

“He makes a great ice cream sundae.” Alyx nods soberly.
“But she steals the nuts,” Daniel teases.

 

 

If you could change one thing about each other, what would it be?

 

“Nothing.” Their simultaneous answer is so swift, both actually look hesitant and then smile.

 

Is your story finished or should we expect more?

 

The pair share another long look, but it’s Daniel who answers. “Let’s just say love is a work in progress and leave it at that.”

 

“Oh, I like that!” It’s Alyx’s turn to give him a kiss and it seems as though they’ve completely forgotten the interviewer and the interview.

 

 

“Well, you heard it here, folks. And while I know my audience will agree with me, some may like it royal, but we really love Alyx and Daniel and their work in progress…”

Harlie here…Daniel still makes me swoon.  🙂

 

Enjoy the following excerpt for Some Like It Royal:

 

Three days later, he leaned back in the auditorium of the theater he’d rented for the day. His secretary’d placed an advertisement in all the papers for a casting call. They’d listed very specific qualities and appearance. He’d gone through every resume and photograph that arrived until he found Alyx Dagmar’s.

She was the only one he wanted, and she was the only one who made the cut.

He wrote the script himself. It was a bastardized version of My Fair Lady, but he didn’t care. The names and the places were all that mattered—well, and the princess in question.

The theater crew admitted her, gave her access to a dressing room and the pages she would cold read for the part. Right on schedule she walked out on the stage. He knew she couldn’t see him in the darkened theater.

Clasping his hands together, he sat back and watched as she took her spot. “Whenever you’re ready.” He called quietly, certain it would carry.

“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.” She lifted her hand as though holding a glass up to make a toast. Dressed in the simple green strapless gown, with her glorious russet hair pinned up, she seemed as glamorous as any model. “It is time for us to remove our masks, to reveal ourselves to each other in the fine tradition of the old-world masquerade. Have you danced with a duke? Did you dine with a princess? Did you discover your true love?”

She flowed three steps toward the lip of the stage, the single spotlight highlighting the magnificent column of her throat. He held his breath. She was better than he imagined. With all the gesture of flourish she mimed the removal of a mask. Her smile lit up her face and he leaned forward.

An air of expectancy hung around her, cloaking her as her smile turned coy, secretive. The notes said she was to react to surprise with a hint of delight. But the riot of emotion she let play over her face captivated him.

With a graceful curtsy, she dipped toward the stage and her gaze roved over the audience. He could almost imagine she hunted for him in the shadows and when she paused to straighten, her chin came up. “Yes,” she said in a clear, true voice. “My name is Princess D’tente.”

It was a stupid name, he grimaced at it, but he’d wanted her to take the message in it.

“And at long last, I am reunited with my family.” She paused again, but this wasn’t in the script. Her smile faltered and fell away.

Her gaze arrowed straight at him, where he sat, arms braced on the back of the seat in front of him.

“You son of a bitch.”

Yep. That definitely wasn’t in the script.

 

bookreview

Wow, just wow!  An intelligently written book about a tried and true trope:  The forgotten royal.  I love this trope for many reasons and Ms. Long nails every reason why I do.  The heroine is smart, sexy and doesn’t have a clue about her heritage at all.  The hero isn’t a douche; yes, he has a reason why he wants her to be a true royal but he is honest from the beginning.  I know…smart thing that Ms. Long did.  Plus, the heroine agrees but makes the hero jump throw hoops in the beginning but too bad.  This is a story about how a forgotten princess and her billionaire pseudo fiancée fall in love.  Sorry but there’s no deception, no one trying to break them up or do anything stupid.

Now, I could say that I felt some similarities with the move Pretty Woman and the character of Victor but Ms. Long gave it a different spin.  Alyx, our heroine, had a presence about her; a familiarity about being a princess.  Of course, our hero, Daniel, stepped in a couple of times to remind Victor that Alyx was tired and needed a break.  *swoon*  Victor has got to be the best secondary character that I have read in a long time.  He wasn’t intrusive, mean or treated Alyx like an idiot.  When she needed someone, he was there for her; not as a teacher but as a friend.

What really drew me the characters was that actually got to know each other as people.  They got to be friends before the sex started.  As I told Ms. Long, I appreciate the fact that I was more than half way through the book before they even had sex.  Sure there is tension and build up but Ms. Long puts Daniel and Alyx in a situation that just perfect for them to finally give themselves to each other.  Trust me, when you read it, you will swoon, fist pump and wish that a lot of other authors would follow Ms. Long on this.  🙂

If you are wondering where the conflict is, trust me its there but its not what you think.  Again, Ms. Long doesn’t dumb her characters down or her readers.  Another thing about Daniel and Alyx is that in the end, these two really cared about each other and wanted it to work.

If I had one thing to gripe about…I really need to know if Alyx’s boxes will ever show up.  I felt like, for me, I needed that closure.  The picture was great that Daniel gave her but I wanted more.  Again, its just me.  I don’t know what I would do without “my stuff” like that.

Overall, buy this book.  Give it to your mother, grandmother, aunt, niece really anyone.  Its funny, sweet, sexy when needed, and Ms. Long nails a trope that many authors miss and brings heart, heat and a sense of belonging that anyone can identify with.

 

recommend-harlies- new

5harlies

 

About the Author:

National bestselling author, Heather Long, likes long walks in the park, science fiction, superheroes, Marines, and men who aren’t douche bags. Her books are filled with heroes and heroines tangled in romance as hot as Texas summertime. From paranormal historical westerns to contemporary military romance, Heather might switch genres, but one thing is true in all of her stories—her characters drive the books. When she’s not wrangling her menagerie of animals, she devotes her time to family and friends she considers family. She believes if you like your heroes so real you could lick the grit off their chest, and your heroines so likable, you’re sure you’ve been friends with women just like them, you’ll enjoy her worlds as much as she does.

 

Contact Details:

 

Website: http://www.heatherlong.net

Email: heather@heatherlong.net

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/HVLong

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/HeatherLongAuthor

Going Royal Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/GoingRoyal

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18490213-some-like-it-royal

 

keep calm we are going royal