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Interview of Donna Simonetta and #Review of What Was I Thinking (Rivers Bend #3) w/a rafflecopter giveaway! #contemporaryromance @donna_simonetta

What Was I Thinking

by Donna Simonetta


GENRE:   Contemporary Romance



A wild Vegas fling isn’t the traditional Thanksgiving celebration, and Lily and Jason have been like oil and water since they met. Blaming their steamy hook-up on too many shots at the bar, they head home.
Back in the real world, Jason wonders if he’s ready to give up his crown as the Playboy King of Rivers Bend to be with just one woman. And Lily has enough on her plate right now without adding Jason Braden to the mix, even if their attraction is crazy-strong.
But life is good at throwing curveballs, and a lot can happen between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day. Maybe even enough to lead these two polar opposites home to each other in Rivers Bend.


Excerpt Three:

She felt him stiffen up behind her, and Jason’s tone of voice was defensive. She hadn’t meant to hurt his feelings. “I know you do; I didn’t mean anything by it. We poke at each other”––she shrugged––“it’s kind of our thing.”

His grip on her hand loosened, and then he took control of the dance, by twirling her until her back was pressed to his front, and he began to move sinuously in time to the rhythm. His breath tickled her ear, as he spoke right in it to be heard over the music. “We’ve got a thing, Moonbeam?”

Jason had ditched the tie and suit jacket after the wedding, and his body heat scorched her through his crisp white dress shirt. And man-oh-Maneschewitz, his lean, hard body felt good. Really good. The Marine might be bulked up, but Jason’s body felt like it had been made for hers, which given their mutual antagonism, seemed like proof Fate was enjoying a good laugh at her expense. Against Lily’s better judgment, her body melted into his warmth and began to move with his.

“Sure we’ve got a thing,” she said over her shoulder, and was irritated to hear a trace of breathlessness in her voice. She cleared her throat and continued, “Like that––you calling me Moonbeam, because you know it bugs me.”


Welcome Donna Simonetta! Please start off by telling us a little about yourself. 

Hi, thanks so much for letting me visit today! I’m  Donna Simonetta and I write contemporary romance. Some of it has paranormal aspects to it, and some of it does not, but it’s all full of humor, happiness, and the kind of characters I would like to hang out with in the real world, if they weren’t…y’know…fictional. I live in Baltimore with the best husband in the world, in my totally unbiased opinion. I worked in a school library for years, but after my second book was released, I quit my day-job and starting writing full time. It can be a lonely gig, and I have to confess that even a hermit like me was getting a little squirrely being alone so much of the time. So, I started volunteering at a local animal shelter and am proudly now a Dog Deputy. I love my shelter time. I walk the dogs, hang out with them in their kennels to help relieve their anxiety and socialize them, do laundry and dishes (there are ALWAYS dishes and laundry to be done!), whatever needs to be done. I just love it! I don’t know who gets more out of it––the dogs or me.

Is What Was I Thinking a single title, or part of a series? 

It is the third book in my Rivers Bend trilogy, but it can definitely be read as a standalone book. This series is set in a fictional town on the Maryland-Virginia border, on the Virginia side of the Potomac River. It focuses on the single members of the Braden family. A Sweeter Spot is the story of the oldest brother, Jeff, a former NFL player and widowed father of a tween daughter. Book two is called Love is Lovelier, and as the title suggests is a second-chance-at-love story for Heather Braden. And What Was I Thinking is youngest brother Jason’s story. He’s the playboy king of Rivers Bend, but a Vegas fling at the beginning of the book, stirs some unfamiliar feelings in his heart. But, a Vegas fling never leads to true love, right? Hmm…you’ll have to read it and see!

What were your inspirations for the story?

Being the third book in the trilogy, Jason’s story has evolved organically as I wrote books one and two. Lily, his partner in the Vegas fling, was introduced in Love is Lovelier, and their mutual antagonism in that story paved the way for the sparks flying between them in What Was I Thinking.

Please share your setting for What Was I Thinking. Have you ever lived or visited there? If so, what did you like most? 

Rivers Bend, Virginia is a fictional town, but I placed it in a location my husband and I would drive through all the time. Before his mom passed away, we would frequently make the trip between Baltimore and Lynchburg, Virginia to visit her. The D.C. traffic was the WORST! Seriously, the Capital Beltway congestion could add hours on to the trip, so we found an alternate route. It took us west from Baltimore, over the Potomac, and down into Virginia outside of Leesburg. It was beautiful country. The river is gorgeous, and we’d drive through the rolling hills and fields of Virginia’s horse country. When I got the idea for A Sweeter Spot, I decided I wanted that lovely scenery to be the setting of my imaginary town, and Rivers Bend was born.

When did the writing bug first bite? 

I wanted to write ever since I was a little girl. I was always a nerd, and I loved the library. I would check the shelves to see where my books would go when I was a grown-up author. Of course, life never goes in a straight path, and I worked as an Account Executive, earned my MLS, and worked in a school library, before I finally started writing. A serious health scare was the trigger. It made me stop in my tracks, and think about why I’d been spared my initial scary diagnosis, and what I wanted to do with the amazing second chance I’d been given. I’d never lost my love of books and reading, and decided to add writing to the mix, and would write in the afternoons, between the end of the school day and when my husband would get home from work. But, I loved my summers when I could write all the time, and as I said before, now I’m writing full-time and loving it!

Who are you favorite authors, book/series? 

This is really tough to answer, because I love ALL the books! My favorite genres are romance (duh!) and cozy mysteries. I enjoy the classic mysteries––think Agatha Christie and Ngaio Marsh––and a contemporary mystery series I loved was Auralee Wallace’s Otter Lake Mysteries. My husband said he could always tell when I was reading one of them, because I would LOL. Like…a lot…there may have been snorting. In terms of romance, I love contemporary authors, like Jill Shalvis, but also recently read a historical by Eva Leigh that was wonderful! The title was My Fake Rake, it was a Regency romance that had humor and steam to it! I will definitely be reading more by Ms. Leigh.

If you could have an author roundtable discussion with any authors, who would you invite?

Since this is a fantasy roundtable, I’m going to say I can invite authors who have passed on, to attend from the great beyond––lol! I would love to talk with Agatha Christie. I adore her writing, and am also fascinated by her work in archeology and would love to hear her tell stories about that aspect of her life. Also, the late Elizabeth Peters. She wrote the Amelia Peabody mysteries, which were about archeologists during the Golden Age of archeology, as well as gothic romances under the name Barbara Michaels. I actually had the good fortune to meet her in person before she passed. She was friends with the mother of a friend. And she was a hoot! And so kind to me when we met. I was so excited, I’m not sure I formed actual words. Just made sounds and stared at her. I hadn’t started writing at that point, so I would love to talk to her about writing now. I would also invite some fabulous authors from my publisher, the Wild Rose Press, with whom I’ve forged terrific online relationships, but since we all live far apart geographically, we’ve never met in person. They are, Judith Sterling, Kathryn Hills, Peggy Jaeger, Claire Marti, Jennifer Wilck, and Iona Morrison. Oh…and Sharon Buchbinder, also from the Wild Rose Press, but we discovered we live in the same city, so we have become friends in person, and she would be an amazing addition to the roundtable.

Do you have any hobbies or special things you like to do in your spare time? 

As I mentioned earlier, I love my volunteer time as a Dog Deputy at a local animal shelter. And my all-time favorite thing to do is go on vacation to St. Pete Beach, Florida with my husband. We both love the beach there, and we always stay at a historic hotel that looks like a giant pink palace on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico. As you see it from a distance when you’re driving there, it looks like a mirage. It’s so cool!


What’s the strangest thing you’ve heard or seen? 

I worked at a boys’ middle school for seventeen years…I saw too many strange things to say! Haha!

What is the one thing that you would tell an inspiring writer to do?

To write! That seems obvious and simplistic, but it is a tough business and can get discouraging when you’re starting out and first trying to get published. So, keep plugging away and writing whenever you can. And try not to take rejection too personally. I know that’s easier said than done, but in my experience, when an agent or publisher tells you it’s “not what we’re looking for right now”, they mean exactly that––it doesn’t mean your work is bad, just not what they need at the moment. Keep writing what you love, and hopefully it will find the right publication home at the right time.

What can I say, I mean rave about this book?  I didn’t read the others in the series but I was generally caught up on the other couples and how Lily’s sister, Gloria, figures into their stories as well.  But more on that later.  I have never read Ms. Simonetta before either but I will definitely read her work in the future.  Plus, I really need to read the other two stories in this series, if for nothing else to see where Gloria fits in.

I just “got” Lily and Jason from the beginning.  I could see the sparks flying from the get-go and they never let go either.  But what really drew me into their story was them, themselves.  They were fully formed characters that had personalities of their own with desires, wants and needs that they think don’t mesh with each other.  Oh, but they do and they fight against it throughout the book.  I won’t give you Jason’s big secret but it does have an impact on their relationship, good and bad.  Plus, with Lily being the guardian of Gloria’s tween daughter, life can be challenging.  Plus, a romance is thrown in?

So you would think that there would be some miscommunication and hurt feelings but Ms. Simonetta doesn’t write their story that way.  Lily and Jason are grown-ups and talk things out.  It is refreshing to read a book and see that the characters can talk through their problems throughout the book.  No big black moment but enough tension that makes the plot realistic and at times, funny.  Hadley, Lily’s niece is a hoot.  Not overbearing and a well-developed character in her own right.   She is definitely part of the relationship that they are trying to figure out and I appreciate how Ms. Simonetta wrote her.  Even the scenes with her own mother (Gloria) are realistic.

Gloria is a trip.  I won’t say more about her except that she is somewhat the villain in the book but I feel like her arc hasn’t ended.  There is some closure with Lily and Hadley but I want more.  I’m greedy that way.  The other secondary characters are well-drawn out, too.  They add just enough to help Lily and Jason figure out what they really want out of life and their relationship.

If you are looking for a great contemporary romance without all the “drama” and characters that act like grown-ups, this book is for you.  It’s realistic, funny, sensual and overall just a damn good book.


AUTHOR Bio and Links:


Donna Simonetta writes the kind of books she loves to read––contemporary romances to help you escape the real world for a little while. Writing is Donna’s third career. She toiled in the business world, and when she decided being an Account Executive wasn’t for her went back to school to get her MLS degree. Next, she worked in a school library for many years. But, Donna dreamed of being an author since she was a little girl, and began to squeeze writing into her day. After the publication of her second book, she decided to leave the library and become a full-time author. 


Donna lives in Maryland with her husband, who is her real-life romance hero. They enjoy traveling to visit far-flung family and friends, and spending time on the beach with an umbrella drink and a good book.


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Donna Simonetta will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.




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20 thoughts on “Interview of Donna Simonetta and #Review of What Was I Thinking (Rivers Bend #3) w/a rafflecopter giveaway! #contemporaryromance @donna_simonetta

    1. Hi, Bernie! As I mentioned in the interview, I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a little girl.

  1. Thank you so much for letting me visit today! I really enjoyed doing the interview, and seeing your review this morning when I woke up was a wonderful way to start the day! I’m so happy you enjoyed What Was I Thinking!

      1. Thank you! I actually just started working on a spin-off book from the Rivers Bend series with Roni as the main character! It’s set in Baltimore, and the other MC is Chase Harper, from Love is Lovelier. He’s a musician friend of the Bradens. I’m really excited about it!

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