Review of The Chosen One by T.B. Markinson

The Chosen One

I started reading The Chosen One by T.B. Markinson for a buddy read on Lesfic Readers and Writers Slack channel. Unfortunately, I was unable to finish the book in time for the buddy read but once I finally got to it I couldn’t put it down.

 

Here is a short blurb about the book:

Girls are a risk college freshman Ainsley Carmichael can’t take. Her powerful political family sees her as the Chosen One who will someday be president. Upholding a carefully crafted veneer is second nature until the first day of class when Maya’s mysterious gray eyes hold her in thrall.

 

Ainsley may be out publicly regarding her sexual orientation, but she lives under the shadow of the Carmichael’s ancient but shrewd matriarch in this contemporary lesbian romance. The girls pair up for a history project, and it soon becomes clear Maya is hiding something when she cuts their first kiss short by pointing out they come from different worlds.

 

The privileged world of the Carmichael clan stands in stark contrast to Maya’s limited means. Ainsley’s sexually fluid, quirky, and carefree cousin helps her investigate, only to discover details of Maya’s past are sketchy at best as the suspense builds in this work of LGBT fiction.

 

Family scandal erupts, making the inevitable truth come out about Maya the Gray. Will Ainsley’s love for the enigmatic girl enable her to break her Carmichael shackles?
I wasn’t sure how I would like this book with everything political that is going on in the world today. But I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed Ainsley’s story. I really liked the mystery surrounding the quotes Ainsley kept receiving. I was intrigued by her relationship with Suzy Q. It was heartbreaking finding out everything that Suzy Q has done to her in the past. It makes it easy to see why Ainsley has trouble letting people in. She doesn’t know who to trust because the people she has trust in the past have turned on her.

 

Maya’s story is what really sold me on this book. She was so intriguing I wanted to know what she had to hide. I was also really intrigued by how Maya’s past is connected to Ainsley’s family. It seemed like there would be much more to this part of the story. I’m hoping to read more about Maya in the second book in the series The Hidden One.

 

I would recommend this book to anyone who like new adult romances as well as political romances.

 

The Chosen One  is available on Kindle Unlimited by clicking here.

 

Interview with author Jea Hawkins

Jea Hawkins-Lucy True headshot

Who or what inspired your latest novel As Long As Love Lasts?

My own home renovations! We were ripping out walls and I started muttering, “Wouldn’t it be so cool if something fell out of the walls, like old letters?” And it snowballed from there.

 

Who or what inspired you to start writing?

Definitely my love of Nancy Drew. I wanted to make people feel the same excitement I felt reading her adventures.

 

Who is your favorite character from your books and why?

Vera Morton from As Long As Love Lasts. She knows who she is and what she wants, and even though she presents a tough exterior, is vulnerable underneath it all.

 

How do you approach writing a new storyline?

With excitement, and I’m all about getting everything I can written down before the plot bunny hops away on me. That’s why my stories tend to be big on dialogue and action – that’s what I envision most clearly as it plays like a movie in my head.

 

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

A variety of things. I’m an avid genealogist in my Very Responsible Non-Writing Life, so I find quite a bit of inspiration from ancestors! But friends and acquaintances, or characters on TV shows also give me plenty of ideas.

 

Where is your favorite place to write?

The small diner downtown. They have delicious food, a great atmosphere, and the waitress knows me well enough to always ask, “Is it a coffee or cappuccino day?” I just feel very welcomed and relaxed there. The library is my other favorite place.

 

What is your writing process?

I like to write down everything that comes to mind, first, even if it’s the end of the story. After that, I ask myself how I’ll get from point A to Z. For my romances, I create a linear outline of beats and chapters. For my urban fantasies, I plot backwards from the final scene until I get to a reasonable starting point that puts the reader in media res.

 

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

I used to discover write (aka pantsing) and maybe have a loose outline. The first several books I published under another name were okay, but over the years, I learned what I needed to make them better. When I decided to write romance about women who love women, I took everything I’d learned and found a way to blend my excitement about a story idea with plotting it out. Plotting wasn’t nearly as painful as I’d spent 20 years thinking it would be and, as a result, I think what I write now is stronger than my previous attempts when I was younger.

 

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

Editing from Em Stevens Edits at https://howtonovel.wordpress.comfor As Long As Love Lasts.The story wouldn’t be half as good without her expertise!

 

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

One of my wonderful fans (I’d like to think of her as much more than a fan, though!) told me her wife is dyslexic. Her wife likes to read books while listening to the audiobook version. It helps her enjoy the story. I’ll never forget that and ever since then, I’ve always made sure they get a free audiobook from me whenever I have a new one.

 

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

Dragonsongby Anne McCaffrey. It’s the story of a girl, Menolly, who lives in a fishing community, but doesn’t fit in there. She dreams of being a Harper, something her parents discourage. They have very strict ideas about a woman’s “place.” Menolly is frustrated and finally runs away from home, which is when she accidentally impresses a clutch of fire lizards, tries to outrun Thread (never a good idea on the planet of Pern), is rescued, and then revealed to be an incredibly talented musician and composer. I love absolutely everything about this story and have since I was a teenager, also keenly aware that I didn’t fit in with my peers at the time.

 

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

At this time, I am working on the final book in my Burgundy Hart series. Burgundy is a small-town librarian and witch… until she discovers she’s actually a warlock. This isn’t considered a good thing in the supernatural community, thanks to all the fear-mongering from the Witches Council. In book 3, Burgundy stands up to the Council once and for all.

 

How do you take your coffee?

I use Dunkies lingo, since I’m from Massachusetts (but I live in the Midwest, so this confuses people!) – extra sweet, extra light aka two creams, two sugars. But watch out – coffee turns me into a motor-mouth all day long!

Zip Line Jea

Review of As Long As Love Lasts by Jea Hawkins

As Long As Love Lasts

As most of you know I love historical fiction novels. When I saw that As Long As Love Lasts by Jea Hawkins was a mixture of a contemporary and a historical romance I was intrigued and this book did not disappoint.

 

Here is a short blurb about the book:

2018 – She doesn’t know if a marriage is worth fighting for.

 

Peyton Kennedy quantifies everything in terms of numbers and risk. She looks at a problem and solves it, leaving no piece of the puzzle out. When her young, too-whimsical wife inherits a derelict farmhouse from a distant aunt, Peyton can only see the bottom line. Too much work. Too much money. Time. Energy. Definitely not worth saving.

 

But her wife knows how to get her way and Peyton finds herself roped into renovations. This… this may be the straw that breaks her marriage’s back, and Peyton’s worried about how not worried that makes her.

 

That is, until a seventy-year-old bundle of letters and a time-worn diary fall on her head.

 

Before she knows it, Peyton is drawn into the story of her wife’s great aunt, Marty, a woman who dared defy social conventions for the love of another woman.

 

1939 – She doesn’t know what love is.

 

Marty Bell thinks life will fall neatly into place. Her mother has expectations: A husband, wealthy enough to give Marty security for the rest of her days. When she meets a beautiful circus worker who shovels dung and pounds stakes for a living, it’s the first time Marty sees that she can stray from the path.

 

Soon, her life is dictated by not just her mother, but the upheaval of war and the one thing she never expected to find: love.

 

And Marty will risk anything and everything to hold onto it.

 

This is the bittersweet tale of a diary, an elephant, and four women who know that few things matter more than finding someone who loves them just the way they are.

 

I really enjoyed the concept of the contemporary characters, Payton and Brooke, learning about their Aunt Marty’s life through the diary and letters they found. It really helped to develop their relationship to something that was falling apart, just like Marty’s old house, to something with a solid foundation. While their relationship was sweet, Marty and Vera’s relationship sucked me in and wouldn’t let go.

 

The sections of the book focusing on Marty and Vera’s relationship were my favorite parts. There was something about their chemistry that was deeply intoxicating, and I wanted to know more. In a time where their love wasn’t accepted, they found a way to be together until war pulled them apart. Vera was my favorite character even though you never hear things through her point of view. She was just so interesting. You could tell there was so much more to her story than was told in the book. Her secrets kept me wanting more. Also, who wouldn’t love a woman who comes with her own elephant.

 

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes historical fiction.

 

As Long As Love Lasts is available on Kindle Unlimited by clicking here.

 

 

 

Interview with author M.J. Duncan

Who or what inspired your latest novel Heist?

 

A tumblr post, actually. There was an article in Smithsonian Magazineabout a wealthy collector known as “The Astronomer” who hired thieves to break into a London warehouse to steal rare books for them. My Muse took that idea and added, “Let’s add lesbians!” so yeah. That was how it all started.

 

Who or what inspired you to start writing?

 

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. Mostly short stories, like most kids who dabble with words, but I wrote my first novel when I was still in high school. It was a totally cringe-worthy attempt at becoming the next Patricia Cornwell—whose stuff I was obsessedwith at the time—but it was words on the screen of a brick of a laptop and I was quite proud of it at the time. I then went on to become a Creative Writing major in college, which meant I got to write a lot of words and learn a lot of B.S. theories about what makes “good” writing that I completely ignored. Then life happened and writing kind of took a back seat for a while, and I eventually fell back into it with fanfiction. That was great because I was playing in someone else’s sandbox and could just refocus on finding my voice again, and then I eventually thought “why not?” and started working on Second Chances.

 

Who is your favorite character from your books and why?

 

God, that’s like asking me which child I love the most! I love all of my characters for different reasons, but I’m definitely the most attached to Bryn Nakamura from Spectrum.Her whole path-to-self-acceptance/awareness very much mirrors my own, so I feel very protective of her in a way that I don’t with my other characters who all start their stories knowing that very important part of themselves.

 

How do you approach writing a new storyline?

 

Most start with an idea for a particular scene. For Heist, it was that first robbery in Paris. Characters are next, because my stories are all very character-driven. I’m not a fan of drama, I avoid confrontation like the plague in real life, and to me the “real” story is the two characters falling in love—everything else is just shit that happens to them in the course of that journey. Anyway, once I have the characters, I come up with a very, very rough idea for the arc of a story that feeds into/incorporates that scene I mentioned above, and then I start researching the shit out of everything about the world/careers/lives of my characters that I don’t know. Honestly, this is my favorite part of the process. I love learning new things and putting them to use to make my stories (hopefully) more believable, but then when the story is done I can move onto something new. Once I feel like I have a working-knowledge of everything important, I cobble together something that looks like at least the skeleton of actual story arc in Scrivener and start hacking away at it all.

 

 

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

 

I know I said my characters drive my stories, but the story also dictates what I will need from each character to make the whole thing work. In Heist, for example, I needed Parker to have a reason to know the less-than-honorable skills that she knows, as well as a reason to have to use them. The key points in Sheridan’s personality were born of the same need—she had to have a reason to resist falling for Parker. Everything else, all the little details and quirks that make them real, flow from there as the story progresses.

 

Where is your favorite place to write?

 

I have a great little office in the basement, but I do pretty much all my writing at the kitchen island because my dog Hunter doesn’t like going downstairs (he’s a big dude, 140 pounds, so he’s not exactly built to manage stairs). Every time I do try to go downstairs to work, he’ll grudgingly follow me down there, rest his head on the desk so he’s staring at me, and cry until I give up and go back to the kitchen. At this point, I’ve basically given up on using the office, but maybe someday I’ll get back to it. Or maybe not. It really is convenient working right next to the kettle and snacks.

 

What is your writing process?

 

Besides what I said already? It’s pretty much: open Scrivener, look at where I left off the day before, and try like hell to hit my word count goal for the day. Oh!, and try to not get distracted with shiny new ideas. Some people can have multiple projects working, but I’ve found that I work best focusing on one story at a time.

 

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

 

I’m definitely getting better at plotting chapters for the story. I went at Second Chanceswithout any kind of a plan besides getting Mac and Charlie together and pretty much just winged the whole thing, but I’ve learned to see the helpfulness of actually planning further ahead. Switching from Word to Scrivener helped with this, too.

 

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

 

Definitely Scrivener. It’s seriously the best large-project writing program I’ve ever come across.

 

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

 

I honestly treasure every nice comment anyone has ever said about my work. But the messages I treasure the most are the ones where people reach out to tell me that a particular character touched them in some way. Writing is a very solitary process for the most part, so whenever I get a message like that it’s like, “Okay, I’ve done something good.”

 

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

 

I don’t know if there is one book that has really influenced my life. Or, at least, there isn’t one that immediately comes to mind that I can point to and say, “Yes, that one.”

 

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

 

Eventually, yes. I am still working on finishing up my latest story, Pas de Deux, but my goal is to have it out in March. It’s another LONG one, though, so we’ll see if I can swing it. *sighs* I really need to learn how to write shorter stories. Anyway, it’s a kinda-sorta-not-really sequel to Symphony in Blue.Kinda-sorta in that it’s in the same universe, but not-really because this time the story is about Mallory moving past everything that went down in Symphonyand finding her happily ever after. There are two people in every failed relationship and two different stories about how the relationship got to that point, and while she was painted as the necessary villain in Gwen’s story, she wasn’t in her own and I hated leaving her where I did.

 

How do you take your coffee?

 

Like Maeve Dylan, I prefer my coffee to not taste anything like coffee. Usually a splash of flavored creamer (it’s peppermint mocha season!) and milk is enough, but I’ve also done the hot chocolate mix thing that I gave to Maeve.

Review of Heist by M. J. Duncan

Heist

When I saw that M. J. Duncan had a new book out, I was ecstatic. She’s one of my all-time favorite authors. Heist was a little different from her other books. It kept me on the edge of my seat wanting to know how the book would play out.

 

Here is a short blurb about the book:

Life is full of choices. Some are easy, others are more difficult, and then there are the ones that aren’t really choices at all. For Parker Ravenscroft, helping her brother always fell into that last category—risks be damned. All that changes when Sheridan Sloan re-enters her life. As their relationship grows from friendship to something more she’s forced to choose between her brother and her own happiness. Picking one over the other isn’t the end of things, however, because the ghosts of her past choices have the very real power to destroy the future she so badly wants.

 

I was sucked into this book from the beginning. It reminded me a bit of a mystery novel in some respects. The way that Sheridan was looking for the thief while Parker was trying to hide her involvement in the heists. I also liked Parker’s motivation for stealing the books. She wasn’t doing it for the thrill or the money like a lot of thieves. Parker was doing it to help her brother. When he got too greedy, she knew when to step away.

 

The romance aspect of the book was phenomenal. I’m a sucker for a slow burn and this book delivered. The chemistry between Parker and Sheridan was electric. Even though Sheridan was an FBI agent and Parker was a criminal they fit together perfectly.

 

Kelly was one of my favorite characters. The way he gently teased Sheridan about her relationship with Parker really made the book for me. Also, the way he constantly was getting bested by the women in the FBI.

 

The one problem that I had with the book was the way that the conflict ended. It was kind of swept under the rug. Never really brought up again. I wish it had played out more and they were forced to deal with the consequences.

 

I would recommend this book for anyone who loves a slow burn romance.

 

Heist is available on Kindle Unlimited by clicking here.

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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