Review of Forbidden Melody by Magnolia Robbins

Forbidden Melody

 

Honestly, I wasn’t sure how I would like Forbidden Melody by Magnolia Robbins. I am not a huge fan of teacher-student relationships. I always found the power dynamic a little creepy. But this book made change my mind.

 

Here is a short blurb about the book:

Emma Harvey is a brilliant and gifted young pianist, accepted into one of the most prestigious music conservatories in the country and prepared to do whatever it takes to accomplish her dreams of playing professionally. With a renowned jazz musician for a father and a world-famous mentor growing up, she is convinced her path is easy. Until her world is suddenly silenced when she loses her hearing.

 

Juliet Hamilton is a prodigy violinist. First chair for nearly fifteen years in the New York Philharmonic and a professor at the conservatory, she is engulfed in her career with no time for distractions. Especially not a beautiful young graduate student with a spirited personality that challenges her every step.

 

When Emma and Juliet’s paths cross in the classroom, their connection is undeniable. When their music comes together, it is unstoppable. The bond they begin to form threatens to challenge more than just their opinions of music. Friendships, ethics, and careers are tested as Emma and Juliet find themselves lost in a concerto of fiery passion and heartbreak.

 

I enjoyed the book from the beginning. The opening scene pulled me in and made the mystery surrounding the women appealing. Juliet was a bit of a trip at the beginning of the book. She was very unlikable. She was full of herself and thought that she could do no wrong. It really turned me off.  But all of that changed when she met Emma she brought the good out of her. It also allowed the reader to see the more sensitive side of her that she hid from the world. Juliet’s relationship with Kira was touching.

 

Emma was my favorite character. I loved her view on life. Even though she was handed a shitty hand she made the best of it. Her loss of hearing never slowed her down she was still able to achieve all of her music-related dreams. She also was able to share her love of music with Kira who was also deaf.

 

The woman’s struggle to be together was very interesting. Between the struggles with the teacher-student relationship, there was also family drama. Juliet’s father was a piece of work. It seemed like he would do anything to ruin any chance of happiness for Juliet. I don’t know if it was because of her being gay or just because he liked to be in control.

 

The sex scenes in this book were amazingly done. The chemistry between Emma and Juliet was hot. I would consider it to be a slow burn.

 

My one fault with this book was the editing. Towards the end of the book, the editing quality seemed to slip. Normally something like this wouldn’t bother me but it happened on quite a few occasions.

 

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a slow burn romance. Or anyone who loves forbidden love romances.

 

Forbidden Melody  is available on Kindle Unlimited by clicking here.

Interview with debut author Lou J Bard

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Who or what inspired your latest novel There’s A Possibility?
Actually, it was a Patrick Dempsey movie called Made of Honor and I loved the plot so much, but of course I wanted to see how you could twist it to be gay. This has been in the back of my mind ever since it came out in 2008. I’m glad it’s finally out of my head and on the pages!

 

Who or what inspired you to start writing?
I’ve been writing since as long as I can remember. I think the first time I ever realized fanfiction was a thing, I’d already been writing some for Pokémon! LOL

 

Who is your favorite character from your books and why?

Oh wow. I guess I’d have to go with Nymphadora Tonks from Harry Potter. She was always a badass in my opinion. Youngest Auror of her time AND a Hufflepuff. Fun colored hair. She was my idol when she appeared in the books.

 

How do you approach writing a new storyline?

Character sketches! My absolute favorite part of the story is understanding my characters and where they come from, what their purposes are and where I think they’re headed.

 

Where do your inspirations for characters and their lives come from?

Mostly everyday people I live around and myself. I think I put a little piece of me into all of my characters. I try to write what I know.

 

Where is your favorite place to write?

If it weren’t for my cat begging for my attention all of the time, I’d saythat it was my living room couch with lots of pillows and blankets and a hot cup of coffee. But I generally find myself at Starbucks to avoid distraction (go figure).

 

What is your writing process?

See the thing. Plot the thing. Write the thing. Get blocked by the thing. Cry over the thing. Write more of the thing. Send the thing to Editor and then cry when it returns looking like a crime scene. Finish polishing the thing. Cry again over the thing because it’s finished. Cry more over the thing when people enjoy the finished product.

 

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

I think it made me more aware of how I write, definitely with my use of adverbs and how I use the words “that” and “like” a LOT and how I need to correct it both in my speech and in my writing.

 

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

My editor. Claire works miracles with the shite I send her! LOL.

 

What is something memorable you have heard from your readers/fans?

Everything from my readers is memorable. Even if it’s not a stellar review, I am happy that someone took the time to read what I wrote and at least gave it a shot. Of course, I love the great reviews, but I take all of them in stride.

 

What book that you have read has most influenced your life?

Am I lame if I say Harry Potter? It was the first real set of books I ever fell in love with and have changed the way I look at books for the rest of my life. I may never be as great as Ms. Rowling, but I certainly thank her for giving me the gift of loving the written word and the magical places it can take you.

 

Do you have any new books coming out? If so what are they about?

My next book is called The Sound of Silenceand it’s about a young woman who has been mute for over half of her life, falling in love with one of her caretakers and her caretaker trying to defend her own emotions against the world that thinks they are wrong.

But that’s as far as I’ll tell 🙂

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How do you take your coffee?

Cream and sugar with a splash of black coffee. Or just a soy caramel macchiato from Starbucks.

 

Lou’s upcoming book The Sound of Silence will be available on Amazon Kindle August 31st. It is available for preorder now by clicking here.

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Review of There’s A Possibility by Lou J Bard

There's A Possibility

I’m a sucker for friends to lovers romance novels. There is just something so sweet about two women who are already best friends realizing how much they truly love each other. There’s A Possibility by debut author Lou J Bard shines.

 

Here is a short blurb about the book:

My name is Diana Sheridan and I think you’re my soulmate!”

Diana Sheridan has been in love with Penelope Bennett since the fateful day that they met in their grade school library. The only problem?

Penelope is straight.

Penelope Bennett has been picking up the pieces of Diana’s failed and flawed flings since high school and wants for her best friend to find happiness; but is certain that it is not with her.

A two-month long overseas work excursion puts twenty-four years of friendship to the test when Diana returns home with more than just a new cultural experience and Penelope must decide once and for all if there’s a possibility for more between them.

 

I really liked the relationship between Diana and Penelope. They pushed each other’s buttons in a playful and silly manner. The way that only best friends can. From the very beginning, you could see how much Diana loved and cared for Penelope. The opening scene was my favorite it truly showed Diana’s character. Penelope was my favorite character I loved how instead of saying God she would call out the names of other Gods such as Athena.

 

I thought overall the book was well written. The sex scenes in this book are super steamy be prepared to blush in public. Overall, I really enjoyed reading this novel and look forward to reading more from them in the future.

 

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves friends to lovers romances.

 

There’s A Possibility  is available on Kindle Unlimited by clicking here.

Review of To Boldly Go by Em Stevens

To Boldly Go .jpg

I read To Boldly Go by Em Stevens for the Lesfic Book Club hosted on the Lesfic Readers and Writers Slack group. I really had no idea what I was getting into with this book, but I was pleasantly surprised. It made for a great summer read.

 

Here is a short blurb about the book:

Taryn’s trip of a lifetime is finally happening. She’s saved money, researched, planned, and created an itinerary that will allow her to travel Italy…and finally tell her best friend that she’s in love with her. But those plans are ruined when she wakes up alone, her crush gone. Her plans did not include being alone and stranded in Milan.

 

Now Taryn’s dream vacation is a nightmare.

 

Enter Holly, a fellow traveler: young, full of life, and comfortable traipsing off the beaten path. Holly feels a connection with Taryn and wants to salvage her trip. After all, they’re in freaking Italy! But their radically different travel styles and age differences make for rough terrain.

 

Together, they boldly go into unexplored territories of the heart, and may just discover love.

 

The book took me a little while to get into. I found Taryn to be a little annoying in the beginning. But she really grew on me as the book progressed. I liked that she kept her type A personality but was willing to accommodate the needs of others. Holly was my favorite character. I liked how she was willing to roll with the punches. She also accepted Taryn just like she was and accommodated her needs the best way she could. I was a little shocked by Holly’s backstory. It wasn’t what I was expecting but I feel like it really added to her character.

 

My favorite part of the book was the descriptions of Italy. It made it feel like you were there with the characters. The talk about food in this book made me hungry the whole time I was reading it. I also enjoyed all of the Star Trek references splatted throughout the book.

 

I would recommend this book to anyone that likes destination romances.

 

To Boldly Go is available on Kindle Unlimited by clicking here.

Interview with Hildred Billings

 

Who or what inspired your latest novel Not for Sale?

 

I honestly don’t remember. I think I was contemplating the fact that my apartment complex was now on their third manager in as many years and, wondered what it was like being a property manager. Everything kind of built from there. All I know is that Kimberly was always Korean-American from the beginning, and that I wanted to set it in a small, middle-class condominium complex on the Oregon coast.

 

Who or what inspired you to start writing?

 

I’ve been writing since I was old enough to mimic words out of picture books. So, it’s hard to say where the urge to write began. One of my earliest memories is writing and making up stories about my grandmother as a teenager. I was about four years old. I was also encouraged to write stories in first grade. I think I wrote a picture book about a turtle. It was always a constant presence in my life – I wrote my first full-length novel, complete with three acts and character developments, when I was in fifth grade. (Of course, it’s not terribly good, and no, nobody is allowed to see it!)

 

Which of your books was your favorite to write and why?

 

I’ve had a couple books I would describe as “fever dreams.” The ones where I sat down and day in, day out wrote about five to ten thousand words a day until the behemoths were complete. Where my brain refused to let me work on anything else until this thing was finished. Under Hildred, that book is definitely “Love, Yumi.” Being written in first person definitely helps. It’s a lot more stream of conscious that way.

 

Who is your favorite character from your books and why?

 

I think out of my lesbian romances, the character I get most excited about is Eva Warren. If she’s appearing somewhere, you know some trouble is about to begin. It tends to follow her like the scent of her made-to-order French perfume. And we authors LOVE troublemaking characters!

 

How do you approach writing a new storyline?

 

I consider what kind of tropes it will have, who the characters are, and what is the main thing keeping them apart. (Assuming we are talking about romance here.) As a publisher, I also consider the marketability. I schedule the books I write and their release dates to ensure that at least every other book is one I can market to an awaiting audience.

 

Where do your inspirations for characters and their lives come from?

 

The easy answer is “well, some of them are spin-offs of books I’ve written before, where I followed a side character and realized they would make an amazing lead character for their own novel!” The harder, more boring answer is, “literally whenever my brain thinks it’s a good time to deliver a new story.” I could be watching a commercial, have a random thought about something the voiceover said, and ten minutes later I have the next novel I’m going to write ready to go. I think I naturally create stories out of mundane things.

 

Where is your favorite place to write?

 

The well-lit room of my favorite teashop in Portland. I’ve written thousands of words there over the years, and I’m still not sure the baristas know what the hell I’m doing in that corner.

 

What is your writing process?

 

Sit down, shut up, and write until it’s finished for the day. Then I get to play video games!

 

(I’m afraid there is nothing interesting or glamorous about my writing life. It simply exists like a typical office job. I even dress like I’m going to the office.)

 

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

 

I don’t think anything changed, especially for the first book. I had already written a ton of books before I published my first one (a lot of real duds, let me tell you.) But the main thing that’s changed over the years is becoming more familiar with the world of “what readers want” and trying to deliver. Having to set aside my own tastes and sometimes, even what might make the book “better” in an artistic sense… well, I’ve never put out a book I wasn’t happy with. But there are some that I would have ended differently or made a character more realistically unpleasant (like I imagined them,) or set somewhere else if the fact I need to make a living wasn’t an issue. It’s what happens when you do art for a living. You just find a way to make it work with your creative vision.

 

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

 

Bookbub, c. 2015 I’ll be paying the taxes on it for years!

 

 

What is something memorable you have heard from your readers/fans?

 

I have a defunct (she’s dead, y’all) lesbian erotica pen name that used to get some straaaange fanmail back in the day. But I think the sweetest one, which I think about a lot, came from a man who said he and his wife really loved my work and they used to read it to each other before they went to sleep. Sometimes, I feel like I failed them when that pen name died… but let’s be real, they either split up or moved on!

 

What book that you have read has most influenced your life?

 

I don’t know what one book overall has. But this year I have been really influenced by Keven Kwan. Not just him setting the bar on how over the top I can make my rich-asshole characters, but his omniscient style of writing helped me out of a huge bind when I was writing my fantasy novel and trying to figure out how to make the point of view work. Thanks, Kevin, or showing me I could get away with it!

 

How do you take your coffee?

 

I don’t.

Review of Not for Sale by Hildred Billings and Cynthia Dane

Not For Sale

Normally I don’t like the Millionaire type romance novels, but Not for Sale by Hildred Billings and Cynthia Dane makes it work in unexpected ways.

 

Here is a short blurb about the book:

One not-so-simple renovation project is about to get dirty…

 

Nobody knows how flip like Reese, a woman with nothing to prove to her family of real estate kings. When her mother’s chronic affliction almost claims her life again, Reese knows that there’s only one way to save her family.

 

All she needs is a leave of absence from the corporate office in San Francisco and a toolbox full of lesbian stereotypes.

 

Has fate finally come to rural Oregon?

 

Kimberly is a mild-mannered property manager who only wants to do her job and go home to her nosy parents…

 

And fall in love, because a woman can only be untouched for so long!

 

Reese’s unruly and disruptive renovation projects promise to make Kimberly’s life hell. Too bad she’s enamored with the handywoman from the moment they lock eyes.

 

The feeling? Absolutely mutual.

 

Life’s about to get more interesting – and sensual – in a sleepy Oregonian beach town!

 

I really enjoyed this book. The diversity of the characters really makes this book stand out. There is not a lot of cultural diversity in lesfic novels but this novel breaks from the norm. Both woman’s families have had their fair share of troubles. Both struggled with coming to terms with their daughter’s lesbianism because of the cultures that they grew up in. But gradually they come to terms and accept the love Kimberly and Reese have for each other.

 

Normally I don’t like the Millionaire type romance novels because they seem so overdone with huge displays of wealth. This book wasn’t like that at all. It seemed like the women really cared for each other and showed each other with small everyday displays that I found to be endearing. Reese’s gift to Kimberly was something small but that she had been hoping to procure for months. It was sweet that she went out of her way to get it for her. There are displays of wealth if that is your thing.

 

My one criticism is that the book could have used a better edit. There were some sections that were a little confusing because of incorrect word usage. These areas didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the book.

 

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves steamy romance novels.

 

You can purchase a copy of Not for Sale by clicking here.

Interview with Cara Malone

 

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Who or what inspired your latest novel Trail Magic?

Trail Magiccame together from two different inspirations. The first was my long-standing fascination with the Appalachian Trail, and the second was a small side character in a previous novel. Raven, one of the main characters in Trail Magic, popped up unexpectedly in A Cut Above as a breast cancer patient who seemed to have an interesting story to tell. I wanted to give her a book of her own, and I thought the AT would be a good place for her to do some self-discovery.

 

What kind of research did Trail Magic require? Did you know anything about the Appalachian Trail and backpacking beforehand?

I started reading about the AT several years ago (I started with Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods) and had a chance to hike a portion of the trail while on vacation in Tennessee. I was stunned at how primitive it was and intrigued by the people that hike the whole 2,190 miles. From there, it was a lot of internet research and trips to the library for guidebooks!

 

Who or what inspired you to start writing?

 

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember so it’s hard to pin down an inspiration. Some of the earliest things I wrote were dramatized versions of my day-to-day life and I was pretty into Laura Ingalls Wilder at the time, so maybe I can credit Little House on the Prairie for getting me started.

 

Which of your books was your favorite to write and why?

 

I really enjoyed writing Fixer Upper because I got to talk about one of my favorite things (showing an old house some love), the side story involving Hannah’s grandmother let me dip my toe into historical fiction, and Hannah and Avery’s chemistry developed very easily.

 

Who is your favorite character from your books and why?

 

That’s got to be Max from the Rulebookseries. She’s near to my own heart, but I’ve also heard from so many readers who are either on the autism spectrum themselves or who have people on the spectrum that they care about. I’m honored to write a character who resonates so much with people.

 

How do you approach writing a new storyline?

 

I usually start with a small idea – like, “I want to write about the AT,” or “I want to utilize this side character from a previous book,” as I did for Trail Magic. I spend a few days brainstorming, getting to know the characters and their world, and that helps me figure out the conflict and their relationship.

 

Where do your inspirations for characters and their lives come from?

 

Everywhere! I pull inspiration from as many people and situations as possible and I’ve got a notes folder on my phone for when something catches my attention.

 

Where is your favorite place to write?

 

From a secluded cabin nestled in the Smoky Mountains… but until I find that cabin with my name on it, I’ll take any quiet space with a window nearby and a decent view.

 

What is your writing process?

 

I’ve written 12 novels so far and I can safely say that it changes every single time, but I’m okay with that because I’m constantly tweaking and improving. In general, the first draft is just for getting the idea out of my head and into tangible form. I do a lot of relationship-building and side story development during the editing phase, and that’s when things really start to shape up.

 

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

 

I love this question! Prior to April 2017, when I published my first novel, I had one partially completed manuscript on my hard drive and I thought I was incapable of writing anything longer than a short novella. When I published that first book, I worried that it was the only book I had in me for a lifetime. I’ve continually proved myself wrong and I’ve only grown stronger as a writer from the massive amount of practice I’ve gotten over the past year. When I published my first book, I started a journey to learn that nitpicking the same manuscript over and over does not a good writer make – repetition is the key to success in anything.

 

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

 

The two things that have made the biggest impact for me – specifically in my confidence and persistence – are NaNoWriMo.org and 4thewords.com. I never would have written that first manuscript if I didn’t have the National Novel Writing Month community pushing me to do it (the site is free to use but accepts donations), and 4thewords (which costs $4 per month) gamifies the writing process to help people establish a daily writing habit.

 

What is something memorable you have heard from your readers/fans?

 

I don’t want to put anyone on the spot individually, but I read and save everything people send me. I’m continually amazed and humbled when someone takes the time to write me a message about how much they liked one of my books, and I’m grateful to be a part of the incredible lesfic community.

 

What book that you have read has most influenced your life?

 

Can I do a politician swerve on this one and answer a related question instead? I don’t think I could ever narrow it down to just one book, but the authors who have influenced me most are Vladimir Nabokov for his writing style, JK Rowling for her ability to create a page-turner, Harper Bliss for her strong character relationships, and Anne Lamott for her outlook on life.

 

How do you take your coffee?

 

By the gallon!