Review of Mind Games by Cara Malone

Mind Games

As most of you know I’m a huge fan of true crime and murder mysteries. So when I found out about Cara Malones book Mind Games I knew it would be right up my ally. Mind Games is a mixture of murder mystery, forensic files, and romance that will knock your socks off.

 

Here is a short blurb about the book: 

A rookie forensic investigator, a seasoned patrol officer, and a crime scene that just might be the death of them both.

 

 Kelsey Granger is meticulous and careful, determined to turn her OCD into an advantage in her new job at the coroner’s office. There’s just one problem – her boss doesn’t think she’s ready. When Kelsey arrives at her first death scene to find the responding officer contaminating the evidence, she starts to wonder if her boss was right.

 

 Zara Hayes hates death scenes. She’s been on patrol five long years but her chief won’t promote her until she can overcome her fear. So here she is, just feet away from a dead body while a pretty young investigator reads her the riot act because she thinks Zara screwed up her scene.

 

 With a killer on the loose, there’s no time to argue so Zara and Kelsey team up to solve the case. As they get closer to the truth – and to each other – they must confront the mind games we play… in life, in love, and even in death.

 

Mind games is the type of books that you will want to read in one sitting. As I have said before I’m a huge fan of all things true crime and murder mystery when you combine that with romance I’m all in. While the book focuses on the suspicious death of April Messner it isn’t the sole focus of the story. The main focus is on the budding relationship of Zara Hayes and Kelsey Granger who meet at the scene of the crime as members of law enforcement and forensics. Kelsey is not your average forensic investigator. She has OCD which makes her overthink every aspect of her job, it also is what makes her so good at her job. I appreciated how the book didn’t gloss over Kelsey’s mental illness. The book discussed what having OCD meant to Kelsey and her relationship and her relationship with Zara. When boundaries were crossed, they were clearly explained and corrected. 

 

One of the best parts of this book is the inclusion of bigger girls as one of the main characters. It isn’t often in lesfic that there is a truer to life main character. Normally they are rail thin and perfect in every way. It is nice to see a character that breaks the mold. Because everyone deserves to see themselves in a story. 

 

What stood out to me about Mind Games is the sex scenes. While Cara Malone has always written amazing sex scenes this book blew me away. They were on a whole new level compared to her past books. Maybe it has something to do with the amazing chemistry between Zara and Kelsey. 

 

The only flaw this book had is that the romance seemed to develop too quickly. I wish Zara’s rakish ways would have been shown more throughout the book. It seemed to be glossed over. Overall the book was a little low on angst. But that wasn’t a huge deal-breaker for me. 

 

I can’t wait to read the upcoming books in this series which should be coming out early 2020. 

 

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

 

Mind Games is available on Kindle Unlimited by clicking here.

Review of Rising from Ash by Jax Meyer

Rising from Ash

Rising from Ash is the latest book in the new Forged by Fire series by Jax Meyer. Jax’s writing has grown since her debut novel Dal Segno. I was shocked by how much I enjoyed reading this book. Once you get started reading it will be hard to put down.

Here is a short blurb about the book:

Phoenix Murray has had enough. Enough of her incompetent boss. Enough of her addict father always asking for money. Enough of the struggle to survive. So when her aunt offers her a job as a cook at the South Pole, she jumps at it. Even when she’s asked to avoid casual sex to keep the peace in the tiny community.

 

 Astrophysicist Ashley Bennett can’t wait for her year at the South Pole. Not only will it allow her to focus on her PhD research, it’s a key step in her plan to become a Mars colonist. Avoiding the complications of dating in a society that doesn’t understand asexuality is a bonus.

 

 When Phoenix and Ash meet, they can’t help but push each other’s buttons. Phoenix doesn’t understand that her confident sexuality puts Ash on edge while Ash’s curt formality triggers Phoenix’s insecurities about her upbringing. But living at the bottom of the world means there’s nowhere to run, and as they find common ground, their differences aren’t nearly the hindrance they thought.

 

 Rising From Ash is the first book in the Forged by Fire series, a slow burn contemporary lesbian romance that shows the power of intimacy to form a new life.

 

 Note: While Rising from Ash features a character on the asexual spectrum, the story does include physically intimate scenes. However, none are gratuitous.

I was really blown away by Rising from Ash. Phoenix’s character pulled me into the story with her struggle to settle down and commit to one person. When Phoenix meets Ashley Bennett, she is drawn to her in a way that she has never experienced before, even though they push each other’s buttons. Being stuck in a tiny community of the South Pole for a full year Phoenix doesn’t want to ruin her career chances by sleeping around and causing drama. So when Phoenix meets Ash she is forced to take things slowly and develop a deeper connection than she has with any of her past hookups.

Ashley Bennett is an interesting character. I have never read about an asexual character before. It is refreshing to see different types of identities explored in romance novels. Ash’s character helped to give me a better understanding of asexuality from someone on the asexual spectrum. Ash considers herself demisexual which means that she is unable to form a sexual connection with someone until an emotional connection is already in place. Phoenix and Ash snuggle to find a happy medium between Phoenix’s allosexuality and Ash’s Asexuality.

Even though one of the characters is asexual the sex scenes in Rising from Ash stand out. Rising from Ash has one of the most intimate sex scenes I have ever read. While there is quite a build-up to sex once it happens, there is no holding back. Phoenix and Ash have amazing chemistry.

The book ends with more of Phoenix and Ash’s story to be told. I’m excited for the next installment in the Forged by Fire series.

I would recommend this book for people on the asexual spectrum as well as anyone who enjoys a slow-burn romance.

Rising from Ash is available on Kindle Unlimited by clicking here.

 

 

 

Interview With Author Lise Gold

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Who or what inspired Eastern Nights?

Thailand. I’ve been going there since I was twenty as my father lives there. I also have siblings in the North. It’s a fantastic country and I thought it would make a great backdrop for a novel, so I started writing Eastern Nights last time I was last there. It turned out a little steamier than I anticipated but I guess that might have been the heat J.

 

Who or what inspired you to start writing?

My wife and I moved back to the UK three years ago after I worked in Hong Kong for a while. I think it was the dreary English weather and the ‘same old’ office environment that made me desperate for an escape. That escape was writing, and once I started, I couldn’t stop. I resigned from my job to write fulltime in 2018.

 

Who is your favorite character from your books and why?

I think Lily from ‘Lily’s Fire’ (my debut) because she reminds me of myself in some ways. I can identify with her because I didn’t realize I was gay until I was in my late twenties and met someone special either. But I also like Kate from ‘Eastern Nights’, even though we have nothing in common. If I could be one of my characters for a day, I would choose her.

 

How do you approach writing a new storyline?

I’m a pantser so I usually just sit down with a glass of wine and make sure I’m relaxed, and my mind is open for the first chapter. Once I’ve set the scene, the rest tends to follow naturally. I may re-write later as I don’t plan much, but overall, it’s an organic process. I do pick a location for the backdrop upfront though, and I choose the names for the main characters and picture what they look like.

 

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

Travel. Before I start a new novel, I’ll travel to where the book is set, and I’ll start there. I’m usually so inspired that by the time I get home, I’ll have 50% of a rough first draft. If I travel with my wife, I’ll get up at five and write until midday, so we have time to explore during the day.

I’ll observe people who look intriguing to me and imagine what their lives are like. My side characters are usually inspired by people I know.

 

Where is your favorite place to write?

The kitchen table. It’s where I spend most of my time if I’m not traveling. We recently bought a new one and it was so difficult to choose something I knew I was going to spend at least eight hours a day behind. In summer, I like writing in the garden too.

 

What is your writing process?

As mentioned, I’m a pantser so I don’t really have a process. I do have a deadline however, as I now have an amazing ‘team’ and I need to take their availability into consideration. I set myself a wordcount each morning and try to stick to it or top it, but I don’t beat myself up if I don’t reach my daily target. Sometimes my wife is the first to read a WIP and sometimes it goes straight to my editor. We’ll do a couple of passes between us and I’ll re-write a little. If I’m stuck, I’ll discuss it with my editor.  After that, I’ll send the manuscript to my beta readers and they’ll come back with comments and other things they’ve picked up on. After the last edits, my editor looks over the ‘clean’ manuscript one more time before I forward it to the ARC readers before release.

 

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

I’ve made a lot of mistakes the first time around but that was mainly regarding publishing, so the whole process is much smoother now. I don’t think it’s changed my writing process though, other than the fact that I have deadlines now.

 

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

My wife bought me a MAC. I use it every day, all day and it’s always with me wherever I go. I LOVE my MAC J

 

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

I’ve had a couple of emails from ‘straight’ people who told me they got ‘bi-curious’ and more than a little adventurous after reading my books. I’ve also had some lovely messages from people who struggle with alcoholism and told me they could relate to my characters in ‘Fireflies’, which is a love story about two recovering alcoholics.

 

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

I honestly have no idea. I’ve read a lot of books in a lot of different genres but now that I write, I find myself reading less and less because I don’t make enough time for it anymore. David Sedaris is my favorite author and I’m currently reading Clare Lydon’s ‘You’re My Kind’, which I’m really enjoying, and Jessica Brody’s ‘Save The Cat! Writes A Novel’.

 

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

I’m aiming to release three more books before February 2020:

-Western Shores (part 4 in The Compass Series): featuring Maddison, Hannah’s half-sister.

-Living: a novel about finding love through loss, grief and depression.

-Still Untitled (that’s not the title, it’s actually still untitled): a romance with Amsterdam as the backdrop. I can’t say too much about it yet, but the main character is a burlesque dancer! I’ll be going there this month to do some interviews and make a start.

 

How do you take your coffee?

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Review of Eastern Night by Lise Gold

Eastern Nights

I have been meaning to review Eastern Nights by Lise Gold for the last two months, but a lot of life happened between then and now. Eastern Nights is what I would consider a player type of romance. Normally one of the main characters is a player but, in this book, both women are hesitant to settle down. It kept me guessing as to how it would work out.

 

Here is a short blurb about the book:

Felicia Perez, a carefree, hopeless flirt from Miami, is working a second job as a fitting model in Bangkok while saving up to expand her own clothing line. She loves women and her freedom and never shies away from going after what she wants.

 

Kate Simmons is a passionate interior designer who is married to her job. Her love for beauty is universal; she can’t imagine tying herself down to anything that might limit her enjoyment of it, and that includes the shackles of a relationship.

 

When they meet in a hotel bar in Bangkok, they are instantly drawn to each other, but with both being used to having the upper hand, the situation is confusing to say the least. When two hunters cross paths, will one end up being the prey?

 

Together, they embark on a journey of self-discovery in the beautiful surroundings of exotic and mystical Thailand. Is the irresistible attraction between them merely the excitement of finally meeting their match or is the universe trying to steer them in the right direction?

 

Eastern Nights is part of the Compass Series but can also be read as a standalone.

 

I enjoyed reading Eastern Nights. I liked how the majority of the book took place in Thailand. It was an interesting look at the life of women traveling for business. Both Felicia and Kate were working in Bangkok when they in a chance encounter at the bar which led to what was supposed to be a one-night stand. Their intense passion kept their affair from ending it at one night. This book has some of the steamiest sex scenes that I have ever read. My mom was visiting my house for her vacation and happened to pick up and read one of the sex scenes she was good and scandalized. I don’t think she will pick up my kindle without asking ever again.

 

Getting away from the sex. The setting of the book brought Thailand to life to me. It made it seem like such an interesting place filled with such a diverse culture. One of my favorite parts is when Felicia takes Kate to the Buddhist temple. Lise’s description of the temple was beautiful and brought the scene to life. I also enjoyed her depictions of some of the locals which brought out how Thailand is a very spiritual/magical place.

 

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes steamy sex scenes.

 

Eastern Nights is available on Kindle Unlimited by clicking here.

Interview with Author Melissa Tereze

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Who or what inspired Forget Me Not?

My Grandfather, John Charles Monaghan. I cared for him during his final years after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. I didn’t think I would ever write a book so close to home, or containing so much of me, but I began, and it flowed. I cried, laughed, got real angry with the world (once again) but when it was over, and I’d finished, I felt a closure I didn’t know I’d needed. Giving people an insight into myexperience with Alzheimer’s was cathartic for me and if my story helps in the tiniest way, or impacts someone else’s life who is experiencing Alzheimer’s, I can consider it a job well done.

 

I think choosing my hometown, Liverpool, helped in a big way, too. It’s such a beautiful city, and one that I’m more than familiar with, so I felt right at home during this writing process. I’m so used to writing American grammar, slang, and locations that I didn’t know how much I’d enjoy the change. I can safely say that I’ll be writing about Liverpool more often.

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Who or what inspired you to start writing?

Again, my grandfather. Or his death, rather. He died in April 2016 and I suddenly became obsessed with curling up on the couch and reading fanfiction. One day, I decided to give it a go, starting a fic of my own and wow…it took off. It became all consuming. My readers started to ask me when I was going to publish something, and naturally, I laughed. I’ve always had a terrible time with my inner critic but I’m learning how to silence her. I never in a million years imagined I would have a book out there with my name on it, or that people would pick it up and read it, but they did. Do I count my blessings? Every. Single. Day.

 

My girlfriend has been a huge support for me. She has always backed me one hundred percent in anything I’ve done, including singing and photography, but even she knew writing was where I was supposed to be. It was her who told me that writing was the only job I’ve taken seriously. When I have doubts, or I’m questioning whether I’m doing the right thing, my girlfriend gives me that push I know I need. My next book, an age gap romance, will draw on some of my experiences within my relationship. Yes, there is a significant gap, but love is love, right?

 

I also can’t forget the superb Jessica Capshaw. Without her character on Grey’s Anatomy, I never would have written my first fanfiction or gone on to release four books. Her character, over the years, gave me and so many other people a world of joy and it was through that character that I made some of the greatest friends that I have. I’ll be forever thankful to her for bringing us all together, and for showing me that the only thing I really want to do in life… is write.

 

Who is your favorite character from your books and why?

That would have to be Riley Allen from More Than A Feeling. Anyone who knows me knows that I love writing angst. I enjoyed writing Riley more than any other character for that reason alone. She was broken, hurt, consumed by insecurity… but she had that tough exterior. Deep down she was a beautiful soul who just needed someone to tell her it wouldn’t all be bad.

 

How do you approach writing a new storyline?

Well, it usually begins with me suddenly having an idea…followed by staring at the ceiling, and awake for the entire night thinking about it. I’ll build up a basic plot and then sit down, allowing the rest to just come to me when it chooses to. I don’t often suffer from writer’s block, but I do struggle with burn out, so I’ve come to realise that writing continuously day after day doesn’t work for me. Sometimes I’ll write every day for two weeks, other times I won’t write for a month. When I do approach burn out, I step away and read a few books. That allows me to come away from my own thoughts and submerse myself in another world.

 

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

At times, I’ll use the personality of someone I know or that I’m familiar with. I find that once my characters develop, they are so far from what I imagined them to be and they’ve completely taken on a life of their own. That’s the beauty of writing, though. You never know where the next chapter will lead. I believe that even those who plot right down to the last paragraph of a book have a turn of events they didn’t expect or plan for.

 

Where is your favorite place to write?

My office at home. Having said that, I have a terrible habit of commandeering the dining table and leaving my things strewn all over it. My partner considers it my ‘man cave’. That is also why my desk is so clean and tidy…

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What is your writing process?

Sit down and write. Of course, the first draft is a very loose idea of what I want my book to look like, then I go back, fleshing it out repeatedly until it comes together as one. I’m still very new to writing and I know I still have a lot to learn, but I’m finding new things every time I sit down to write my next book.

 

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

I can’t say that it did, but I’m growing every day as a writer and I’m loving the learning process. Being an indie author gives me the freedom to play around with different elements of the writing/publishing process and I believe that is the key to enjoying it. At least, for me. There are certainly things I do now that I didn’t do during my first book and even those small accomplishments mean a lot to me. I’ve come to understand that patience is important, too. Oh, and I feel like I can relax more than I used to.

 

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

That would have to be hiring a professional cover designer. I’ve loved every cover that has been wrapped around my books, but when I received the cover art for Forget Me Not, I may have shed a tear. Perhaps it was because the story meant so much to me, I don’t know, but that has to be the best decision I’ve made so far. That guy could have asked for the world as payment and I would have given it to him.

 

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

My readers, they’re wonderful. I guess the ones that stand out the most are those who have contacted me, whether through my website or via social media, to explain the difference I’ve made to their lives. I’ve had readers that have come out to their families after reading my books, and to this day, I still struggle to comprehend how I inspired someone to be so brave in what can sometimes be a cruel world.

 

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

I can’t say one particular book has influenced my life, but Jourdyn Kelly’s work has really taken over my life. How she writes her characters, bringing them all into her books and crossing them over is fantastic. That, to me, takes commitment and a 100% knowledge of each character. I know us writers do have a good knowledge of our characters, being the ones who wrote them, but how she does it is effortless. With Jourdyn Kelly, nothing is missed.

 

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

I’m currently in the process of writing my next book. At the moment, I have a very thin outline, but what I will say… is that it includes a very lonely woman and an escort. I need something a little more upbeat from Forget Me Not so my readers should expect the return of smut.

 

How do you take your coffee?

Too often would be the answer to that. I’m trying to cut down, though. In general, one sugar and a little milk.

Review of Forget Me Not By Melissa Tereze

Forget Me Not

Forget Me Not by Melissa Tereze is different than most of the books I read for my blog. While it is a romance novel, I would say that it focuses more on overcoming grief and learning to trust again than a traditional romance. I was really pleased with how well it tackled the difficult emotions surrounding loss.

 

Here is a short blurb about the book:

Jess Edwards’ life could be better. Six years ago, her world was turned upside down when she lost the love of her life to London. In the years that followed, she found herself preparing for the inevitability of losing her grandfather, too.

 

Word around town is that her first love is back, leading Jess to question the decisions she’s about to make, but nothing is as it seems. Jess may be known to have a heart of gold, but is she prepared to have it broken once again?

 

Amber Powell has returned home after receiving devastating news from her sister. Now within reach of her ex-girlfriend, she tries to remain invisible. Over the years, that had worked well for her, but with the potential of heartbreak just around the corner, will Amber realise that the only woman she ever needed… is standing right in front of her. A story of life, loss, and ultimately love.

 

Forget Me Not really hit home for me. My grandmother passed away two years ago from complications from dementia. I could really empathize with the grief that Jess and Amber were feeling as they dealt with the loss of their loved ones to Alzheimer. Forget Me Not mainly focuses on Jess’s coming to terms with her life after her grandfather’s death. She is struggling to get back to normal and when Amber comes back into town with a new fiancée. Jess has never forgiven Amber for hiding their relationship and ultimately leaving her.

Amber slowly realizes that she needs Jess in her life. Jess helps Amber though her mothers Alzheimer diagnosis.

 

I thought Jess ability to overcome her own pain as she relives the effects of Alzheimer was moving. It showed that she was willing to overcome her own past to help the person she loves. It was beautiful. At the beginning of the book, Jess seemed very harsh but that was because she was dealing with a lot of emotions and didn’t know how to express herself. I really enjoyed seeing her growth throughout the book.

 

The book also has a very cute dog named Beau. I’m a huge sucker for dogs in books and this book is no different.

 

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys second chance romances.

 

Forget Me Not is available on Kindle Unlimited by clicking here.

 

Interview with Caren J. Werlinger

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Who or what inspired A Bittersweet Garden?

I have truly loved The Quiet Man for decades (my wife has graciously watched it 26 times with me, 27 coming up for St. Patrick’s Day!). When we finally got to Ireland and Cong in 2015, it was a dream come true for me. Everywhere we went in Ireland, it was as if I could hear the ghosts whispering. This story just grew from that experience.

 

Who or what inspired you to start writing?

I was one of those kids who would lock myself up in my bedroom and spend entire weekends writing stories. I continued writing until I got into physical therapy school, and then stopped for several years. When I took creative writing back up in the mid-90s, it was ten years before I was able to get that first novel published… just in time for the recession and the mass closure of bookstores. Perfect timing!

 

Who is your favorite character from your books and why?

Oh gosh, that is so hard. All the characters become a favorite (even the not-so-likeable ones) while I’m immersed in their lives, but if I had to choose overall, I would probably pick my two girl characters: Connemara from Miserere and Caymin from The Dragonmage Saga. I loved their spunk, their integrity, and their determination to do what’s right.

 

How do you approach writing a new storyline?

It partially depends on where the story comes from. I keep a book of story ideas and, so far, one or another has always bubbled to the surface to turn into my next book. I let it percolate in my head for a while, jotting down thoughts as they come to me. Every book has an “Ideas” document or an actual physical file, where I keep maps, research articles, lists of names, etc. I refer to it frequently while writing. I just found a page with all of my handwritten notes with Irish translations of terms for the Dragonmage trilogy.

 

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

It varies. Miserere was totally inspired by an abandoned farmhouse we looked at when I was about nine. We didn’t move in, but I always remembered that house and wondered what kind of stories it could tell. Neither Present Timehad two inspirations: another house, an old mansion, and an inscription in an old book.My own experiences in religious life inspired In This Small Spot. Turning for Home was inspired by a note someone slipped to me when I was traveling years ago. Inspiration comes from many sources!

 

Where is your favorite place to write?

I bring my laptop to work with me every day, and take advantage of my breaks to get bits of writing in during the week, but weekend mornings—when my wife and the dogs are all still sleeping—that’s my favorite time! I’m very much a morning writer. My brain is shot creatively by afternoon.

 

What is your writing process?

I used to write my first drafts longhand, but I don’t tend to do that any longer. I still keep a notebook where I can jot down scenes and ideas as they come to me. I am one of those writers who finds it a struggle to get the first draft completed, and then I love editing, rewriting, polishing that draft!

 

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

When you’re writing your first book, it’s like a secret—just you and the characters. All of your gratification comes from the act of writing. I think that can’t help but change a bit after you publish. I still think I could only write what I love, what I would want to read, rather than write for a market as some are advised to do. But some of the gratification becomes more external, things like sales/royalty figures, reviews, etc. Some authors have said they’re going back to writing fan fiction purely for the love of it, so they don’t focus on those external factors. As to my actual process, I am much more confident now with how to spool out character traits and plot points, and I don’t panic when I realize I need to delete entire scenes because they’re just not working.

 

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

The best money I have spent isn’t necessarily related to writing, but to publishing. Hiring an incredible cover artist and a professional formatter who are both willing to work with me to make my books as beautiful as (I think) the words are is one of the best moves I’ve made. I love it when readers comment on those details because I agonize over them!

 

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

Gosh, there have been so many. I’m very fortunate that so many of my books have resonated with readers on a deep level. A reader who’d received a recent diagnosis of cancer told me she found a lot of comfort and strength from Looking Through Windows and In This Small Spot. A couple of readers—single, closeted women living captive lives as dutiful daughters in conservative families—wrote to tell me how much Cast Me Gently meant to them. Year of the Monsoon has connected both with women who gave babies up for adoption and women who were adopted (as I was). In This Small Spot has also touched many women who were in religious life, and they’ve taken the time to write and share their experiences.

 

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

The book that influenced my life more than any was In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden. It influenced my own exploration of a vocation and religious life, and Ms. Godden sort of became my writing mentor. I wrote to her when I was sixteen, and she very kindly wrote back. I treasure that letter.

 

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

I’m working now on a book set in 1983 in central New York. I don’t have a working title yet, but it’s flowing nicely, so I expect it to be out before the end of the year if all continues on pace.

 

How do you take your coffee?

Ha, I am a straight-up coffee drinker! No sugar, no cream, no flavors. Just good, strong, and black.