Review of The Hidden One by T.B. Markinson

the hidden one

I was really excited to start The Hidden One by T.B. Markinson. It is the second book in The Chosen One series, and I would recommend reading the first book to fully understand what is happening. The book follows the life of Ainsley during her senior year of college as her class does a mock election.

 

Here is a short blurb about the book:

Mock election. Real world danger. Ainsley’s relationship and reputation may not survive the campaign trail.

 

Still reeling from the targeted attack on her family, Ainsley is determined to keep a low profile during senior year. But a mandatory class project pulls her back into the political fray as the mock Democratic presidential candidate. With the entire campus watching, Ainsley knows it’s only a matter of time before her rival turns the spotlight on her and her secretive girlfriend.

 

Groomed from birth by her politically connected family, Ainsley knows she can handle the abuse. But shielding her girlfriend’s secrets is a matter of life or death. To protect the ones she loves, Ainsley will need to use every shrewd political move in the book.

 

The Hidden One is the captivating second book in a series of lesbian romantic suspense novels that shed light on modern American politics. If you like romance that defies the odds, a satirical take on current events, and twists you won’t see coming, then you’ll love T.B. Markinson’s compelling tale.

 

I really enjoyed the second installment to The Chosen One series. The first book left off at the end of Ainsley’s Freshman year of college and The Hidden One picks up at the beginning of Ainsley’s Senior year and her final project the mock election. I really enjoy the political aspect of this book. I feel like it plays a much bigger role than the first. Suzy is back to her evil ways trying to ruin Ainsley’s live any way she can, and the mock election opens up the ways that Suzy tries to sabotage Ainsley political ambitions.

 

Maya and Ainsley have been dating for three years. Their relationship is much steamier than the first book. You’re going to need a fan to cool down from their sex scenes.

 

All of my favorite characters from the first book have come back including Grover who makes a special appearance in Ainsley’s Presidential campaign. Maya’s backstory is even further explained, and it is mind-blowing.

 

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves political romances and new adult romances.

 

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

 

 

 

Interview with author Kate Genet

kate genet

Who or what inspired Saving Rose?

I read a lot of crime novels, and I’ve always loved writing suspense, so one day I had the brilliant idea of putting those things together and writing one. It was a great deal of fun, and I expect I’ll do it again. But it really did come about simply because I decided I wanted to write a crime novel. Once I did that, my imagination came up with Claire and Rose. Valerie (my partner) and I had a great time talking about the story all through the writing process, and Claire is a sailor thanks exclusively to Valerie’s extensive experience with yachts. I love writing children, and am very protective of them, so it all just came together nicely.

 

Who or what inspired you to start writing?

I don’t really remember a time when I didn’t want to write. At the age of nine or ten, I was stitching together tiny books out of paper, just the way the Bronte sisters did, and waking up early in the morning to write poems in them. That habit didn’t last long, but the desire to write has never gone away. Kate and writer are synonymous, these days.

 

Who is your favorite character from your books and why?

This is an awfully tough question, considering I have a whole bunch of books I’ve written now. Every character is a favourite while I’m writing them, because I strive to make them feel as real as possible, and I tend to fall in love with all my main characters.

 

How do you approach writing a new storyline?

I’m ready to write when I can see the first scene in my head, and when I know what sort of feeling or atmosphere I want the book to have. I don’t outline at all; I simply start at chapter one and see where the story takes me, right up until the end. I don’t even know how to write any other way than that!

 

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

Everything is inspiration. I think when you’re a writer, every experience, everything you see, feel and do, falls through into the well of inspiration and then becomes part of a story, even if it’s one you never end up telling. I do most of my character invention during the actual writing, so they tend to grow very organically, and I meet them and get to know them at the same time I am writing them.

 

Where is your favorite place to write?

I’m a big fan of routine. It makes my days look very dull, but I have a space – a room – set aside to write in, and that’s where I go to write. Usually at the same time every day, for the same length of time. The discipline and routine help my brain make the switch to that flow state where language and structure and story and inspiration come together on the page. I’m not a coffee shop writer, or anything of the sort – I prefer to sit on my own when I’m working.

 

What is your writing process?

It’s very dull, from the outside, at least! While it varies slightly from book to book, it pretty much always starts simply with the picture in my head of someone doing something. And I write that picture down and follow where it leads me. I start at the beginning, at chapter one, and I write until the story is done. Valerie (my partner) reads along while I write, and we will talk about the story and she usually does whatever research I need. When I’ve reached the end, I read through it, making sure it all works, and then it gets proofed.

 

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

It made me realize that finishing writing projects is a great idea!

 

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

My whole writing career has been run on a shoestring budget. There just hasn’t been the money for anything, so of the few things I’ve spent money on, I’d probably say my very recent purchase of Vellum, which is a miracle programme which will finally allow me to bring my books out in paper.

 

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

I think it is always gratifying to get feedback from readers letting you know that they’ve enjoyed your work. It’s a difficult thing to work for a couple months on a story – something that didn’t exist at all until the writer made it up (literally!) – and then put it out in public for scrutiny, and enjoyment or otherwise. Which also makes it one of the most amazing, humbling things when someone says it made them feel all the things you were hoping it would when you wrote it.

 

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

I don’t think there’s been just one book. Instead there have been many. I’m a great fan of the modernists – E M Forster, D H Lawrence, Virginia Woolfe, Katherine Mansfield, and too many others to mention. Then to those, add a great dollop of Stephen King. An odd mix, perhaps, but then, I’ve never been particularly conventional.

 

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

I have a few planned for this year. Two historical romances under the name Lily Hammond, two contemporary romances as Ana McKenzie, and after that I should be able to fit another two in, if life leaves me enough space. I’ll play with those ones and see what I come up with – most likely some sort of suspense novel like Saving Rose. I like not knowing yet!

 

How do you take your coffee?

With coconut milk and no sugar. If I’m out, I’ll have a cappuccino, again with no sugar.

Review of Saving Rose by Kate Genet

saving rose

As most of you know I’m a huge fan of thrillers and mysteries. There is nothing quite like being on the edge of your seat waiting to know what twists and turns are in store for the hero. Saving Rose by Kate Genet did not disappoint it had me hooked from the very first page.

 

Here is a short blurb about the book:

Driven, professional sailor Claire Wilde is home on a flying visit to see friends and family. She’s especially looking forward to catching up with best friend Zoe, and meeting Zoe’s daughter, Rose.

 

But Christchurch is a city on shaky ground, and when it is hit by a big earthquake, secrets are suddenly exposed that Claire and Zoe had never even guessed at. In seconds, everything is changed.

 

Drawn into a terrible game of cat and mouse with a paedophile and killer she never suspected, Claire finds herself chasing a man who won’t stop until he gets what he wants — three-year-old Rose. Tested even to her considerable limits, Claire is about to discover exactly how far she is willing to go to protect another woman’s child.

 

Saving Grace is not the typical book I review on this site, it has no romantic element. Personally, I thought that made this book even better because they didn’t try to force a romance where it wasn’t needed. This book was told from many points of view. Which I thought made this book all the more interesting. I particularly liked reading from the mind of Danny, the villain. It really added suspense to the story knowing what his plans were and what the heroes Claire and Mona would need to overcome to save Rose.

 

As everyone knows who regularly reads the blog, I love the addition of pets in a story. This book had an amazingly protective German Shepard that Rose named Pilot. Pilot got lost during the earthquake the rocked the city he was found by Rose. He becomes Rose’s companion and tries to protect her from her father. Between Claire and Pilot, Danny had his hands full in his evil attempts to take his daughter. Saving Rose is a wild ride.

 

I would recommend Saving Rose to anyone who loves thrillers.

 

Saving Rose is available on Kindle Unlimited by clicking here.

 

 

Interview with Miranda Macleod

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Who or what inspired Holme for the Holidays?

There were two things that inspired this book. One was a trip I took through the real village of Holme in Yorkshire, and the other was the movie “The Holiday” with Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz. This story is nothing like the movie, but I loved the idea of a house swap that leads to romance.

Who or what inspired you to start writing?

I’ve always enjoyed writing, ever since I was a kid. I used to make up plays during recess and make my friends take roles in them. But it was as my 40thbirthday was approaching a few years back that I realized that if I didn’t do something to turn “I want to write a book someday” into an actual book soon, I never would.

Who is your favorite character from your books and why?

My very favorite character is Amanda, the office temp turned international spy, from Stockholm Syndrome. I think I like her because she reminds me of all the years I spent as an office temp while I was in graduate school. Often, when you’re in that type of setting, you don’t really know anyone and you can feel a little invisible and underappreciated, so it’s a great environment for letting your imagination run wild. Amanda daydreams about being a spy, only unlike most of us, she gets the chance one night to make her dream come true!

How do you approach writing a new storyline?

I write down ideas whenever they come to me, often along the lines of “wouldn’t it be funny if…” Most of the time, the initial thing that draws me to a story is something funny, like a celebrity chef on a gluten-free diet who gets stuck in a tiny Italian village where the only things to do are eat pasta and flirt with the local chocolate maker. After the initial idea, I always write an outline, even if some of the scenes are a little vague at first. I have to have a plan before I can write, even if sometimes I change the plan halfway through.

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

Sometimes I base my characters and their occupations either on things I know myself, or on people I have encountered. For example, my Love’s Encoretrilogy is set in the theater, where I worked for several years. Other times, I ask myself what type of extraordinary life an ordinary person might like to drop in on for a few hours—perhaps a celebrity singer or spy. But it’s important to me that even the characters with the most unusual and exciting occupations need to be real and relatable.

Where is your favorite place to write?

During the warmer weather, I have a desk on my three-season porch, but when the New England winter gets too cold, there’s a local coffee shop I like, and the library is also a good choice. I find it helpful to get away from home, where there’s always a load of laundry to distract me from writing.

What is your writing process?

Ideally, I spend a week or so creating an outline and then launch into my first draft, which usually takes a few months. When that’s done I get editorial input, revise, and send for final editing and proofreading.

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

Getting through the whole process, from idea to final product, for the first time helped me to start building a series of steps that I refine with each new work. I found, for example, that I tend to get tired in the middle of the book, where it seems like the end will never arrive, and so it can help me to send it at that stage to a beta reader to get some feedback. Even if all the reader says is “Finish this so I can read the rest,” it helps to rekindle my energy to push through to the end.

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

For me, it was buying a Mac and loading it up with the Scrivener and Vellum programs. That gives me everything I need to go from outline to published e-book and paperback.

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

The comments that stick with me the most are when a reader reaches out to say that my story gave them hope in a dark time. My books are romantic comedies on the surface, but I try to deal with the emotions and challenges that real people face, and intfuse them with hope and humor. When I know that’s brightened someone’s day and made something difficult easier, that’s the best feeling in the world.

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

In 4thgrade, my friend Jenny gave me a copy of Emily of New Moonby L.M. Montgomery. That series is not as well-known as her Anne of Green Gables series, but it’s all about a little girl who dreams of being a writer, and who has great adventures along the way to achieving her dream, with a lot of embarrassing challenges thrown in for good measure. Even as an adult, I still go back and read it sometimes, and love it every time.

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

Yes! 2018 proved to be a difficult year for writing because of various things that came up in my family and personal life, but I’m pleased to say that I will be publishing London Holiday, the 5thbook in the Americans Abroad series, this coming spring. It’s a modern retelling of the 1950s classic Roman Holiday, which is probably my favorite movie of all time. In my version, a struggling journalist meets a runaway princess in London and has to choose between the tabloid story of a lifetime, or the possibility that she’s found true love.

How do you take your coffee?

Whole milk, and no flavored creamers or heaven forbid, anything sweet in it.

 

Review of Holme for the Holidays by Miranda MacLeod

Holme for the Holidays

I recently read Holme for the Holidays by Miranda Macleod for the monthly book club on the Lesfic Readers and Writers Slack channel. I really like the thought of reading a Christmas themed book to get in the mood for the holidays. This book was just the thing to kickstart my holiday spirit.

Here is a short blurb about the book:

An American musician with a broken heart meets a local farmer with a hidden past on a holiday house swap in Yorkshire. A charming romantic comedy that will fill your heart with holiday cheer

A country cottage is the last place Paige expected to spend the holidays, but a year after her girlfriend dumped her, her life is in shambles. A last minute house swap sends her from California to Yorkshire to put her life back on track. She doesn’t believe in forever anymore, but when she meets a raven haired beauty in the local pub, she seizes the chance for a night of fun.

On the brink of fame and fortune, Fiona suffered an unthinkable loss, and a year later she’s given up on singing, and just about everything else. When the brother she relies on too much skips town “for her own good” and loans his cottage to a stranger for the holidays, her life is turned upside down. She knows she can’t make a new relationship work, but when she meets a purple haired American at the local pub, she figures it wouldn’t hurt to blow off some steam.

They never meant to see each other again, yet from the very first morning when the vicar comes to call and Paige gets mowed down by a runaway llama, they just can’t seem to escape their lives becoming increasingly, and hilariously, entwined. And when a series of calamities threatens Christmas in Holme village, the two must work together to save the day, and maybe find true love along the way.

A year ago, their lives fell apart. Can a bit of Christmas magic help them build a new life together?

Holme for the Holidays is the second book in the American’s Abroad series and functions as a standalone. I really enjoyed this book. Paige and Fiona make a really cute couple. While the book happens in a short span of time it doesn’t feel insta lovey. They really get to know each other over the short amount of time that they are together. Fiona’s backstory is really heartbreaking. I don’t know how if I would be able to handle losing someone I loved in the way that Fiona had.

The setting is one of the best parts of this book. There is something magical about Holme. The way the people in the town jumped in to help out when needed. Also, the thought of a white Yorkshire Christmas was so sweet.

The humor really makes this book stand out. The scene with the Vicar was one of the funniest things I have ever read. I also liked the addition of Dolly, the llama, and Maxine, the dog. The animals really brought life to this story.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes romantic comedies.

Holme for the Holidays  is available on Kindle Unlimited by clicking here.

Interview with debut author Jax Meyer

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Who or what inspired your latest novel Dal Segno?

It all started as a dream, which is a rare experience since having my daughter almost four years ago. In it I was visiting a college and ran into my old music teacher and had this sense of home at seeing her. The dream wasn’t romantic, but that idea of finding home in a person unexpectedly stuck with me for days. I played around with ideas to create a backstory and before long I had the beginning of the book.

Once I had the basic backstory, I focused on building Cam as a character. I knew I was too new at writing to get too adventurous, so I based a lot of her on myself. Her butchness and autism are based very closely on my experiences, but I did this purposely because there’s so little autistic representation in lesfic. And the butch representation is often something I don’t relate to. Ultimately, I wrote a character I wanted to read about.

The rest, including Sharon and Laura’s characters came to life as I wrote, which was the most fascinating experience for me to look back on.

Who or what inspired you to start writing?

This is my first novel. It’s the first book I’ve written, with the exception of a story I wrote when I was 12 or 13 about my friends and I being rock stars. I never knew I could be a writer until this book because of the way my autistic brain works. I’ve never been so happy to be wrong about myself!

What ultimately got me writing was a subconscious need to, and a lot of support from the other authors I’ve connected with this year over in Slack. This book would not be what it is without the Lesfic Love group, which is why they get a shoutout in the acknowledgments.

Who is your favorite character from your books and why?

I love Cam, but writing Laura was so much fun! I fell in love with her as she developed as a person on the page. I’ve spent the last few months writing the prequel, which means writing Sharon into existence, and I couldn’t begin to choose between them. Both provide Cam just what she needs at that point in her life, but what she needs at 20 is very different from what she needs at 40.

How do you approach writing a new storyline?

Since I’m still new to writing, I’m don’t have a lot of experience with this. So far, I get a tiny snippet of an idea, then I start brainstorming. I really love Lisa Cron’s Story Genius book to help me get to know the characters, but I don’t actually know that much about them when I start writing. I find my starting point and just write. Their voice begins to develop, the story develops based on their interactions, and I’m just along for the ride.

One thing I think I do well is knowing when something isn’t working. It just feels off to me. Sometimes that means going back and changing a character’s reaction or choice. Sometimes it means scrapping the whole thing like I did with the upcoming A Marine Awakening. That started as a short story, to help build Cam’s backstory. I completely scrapped that when I went to write the actual book though because it just didn’t work. Thankfully I don’t refer to her life with Sharon much, so I didn’t have to worry about consistency very often. Also, thankfully, I’m using the same editor for both books so she’s well aware of Cam’s character and what occurs in Dal Segno.

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

I always start with real people for at least one personality quirk so I have something to work with. My autism presents itself in a way that makes understanding people very difficult, which is the exact opposite of my wife. So I will start with a character, in a moment, and often discuss them with her to get a deeper understanding. Once I have that understanding it helps me guide the characters’ development. I also have friends that are great to brainstorm with. Their questions help the character come into focus.

I have noticed that by the middle of the book, the original person the character is based on is hard to find, as the character has come into their own. I’m learning to separate the inspiration for the character from the character more quickly, which allows the character to develop more easily. It truly is a fascinating experience for me.

Where is your favorite place to write?

I prefer to write in a quiet room, with lots of natural light. However, I wrote about 75% of Dal Segno on my iPhone, many times while working one of my part time jobs. I’m so often on the run that being at home to write is a luxury. Then again, writing with an almost four year old means it’s often not quiet either. It would be a dream to go on a writing retreat in the mountains.

What is your writing process?

Just write. When I get stuck, I reach out for help brainstorming so I can keep writing. I don’t outline, unless I have some key beats I’m aiming for, because I discover so much as I write. I do occasionally write a scene out of order, just to get the words out of my head, but it almost always gets significantly rewritten by the time I reach.

For example, the weekend Cam and Laura first have sex, Laura plays Warm Valley for Cam. That was originally going to be their first kiss earlier in the book. But as I wrote and talked to people about Cam, I realized that she needed to fall into that first kiss. The scene as originally wrote was so much fun to write, but it didn’t work in the story, so it was repurposed.

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

When I published, I had no clue whether people would like it or not. As the good reviews came in, I gained confidence. Now I’m committed to being a writer instead of a person who wrote a book. I’m still surprised that it happened, but I love it. This year has been a very difficult year for me personally, but writing has kept me sane and given me an outlet.

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

First, I was lucky to be referred to a great, affordable editor by other lesbian romance authors. She turned my draft from something that would have been ok to a book that I’m proud to call mine. She also gave me frequent confidence boosts which made it much easier to hit the publish button. There are a lot of editors out there, but I wanted someone who knew lesbian romance, specifically. She was able to provide a lot of beneficial guidance not just on the story, but the cover design and blurb.

Second, getting a quality cover designer. I found Amanda Walker in a Facebook group and loved her pre-made covers. She worked with me to find the right stock photos, title fonts and colors, and my cover looks really nice. Cover art really makes a difference! She’s rather affordable as well. She can be found at https://www.amandawalkerpa.com/

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

I was really insecure about Cam’s autism. Even though it’s based on mine, I worried I didn’t show it well enough. But I received an email from a reader who said they really appreciated that aspect and it was spot on. I’m pretty sure I cried a little.

Recently, Anna at The Lesbian Review covered my book and I couldn’t stop smiling when she said this about my characters. “Meyer’s characters are subtle in their depictions, yet they deliver a powerful impact. It is pure genius.” I can’t describe how it felt to read those words!

I’m still in shock at how much people loved my book. For readers, know that your kind words really do make a difference. I don’t respond to reviews, but know you have my deepest gratitude for reading and enjoying my book.

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

There are too many. However, in my upcoming book I do reference Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg as a critical book in my young adulthood. It gave me a reference point for my own butch identity at a time when I really needed terminology. For those who are younger, who always had the internet and gay characters on tv, it’s hard to describe what it’s like growing up in rural Wisconsin, not knowing anyone who was queer, and not having the language for your own identity. I’m not going to say kids have it easier today, because they have pressures I never had to deal with, but I love that they have the language to find themselves earlier.

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

A Marine Awakening is being edited now, to release by the end of January if all goes well. The book goes back in time almost exactly 20 years where Cam meets Sharon. We follow their journey as young Marines from meeting, falling for each other, meeting the parents, getting that first tattoo, and ultimately ending at their one year anniversary. We also learn why Sarah gets a free pass to be a loveable pain in Cam’s ass. This book is a lot steamier, so for those wishing Dal Segno had more sex, I think you’ll be satisfied with A Marine Awakening.

Afterwards I have two books on deck, though I’m not sure which will get written first. One will be a co-writing project with my wife, who’s had this story brewing for a year and a half at least, but her neurological issues prevented her from physically writing it. It’s the story of a dancer/choreographer and a writer who are both frustrated with their lives and have a lot of issues to overcome to be together.

The second book is mine, based at the South Pole, which I visited as a young physics student in college. Phoenix decides to run as far away from her life as possible when she realizes she might have fallen for her best friend. So she talks to her aunt who works for a company that employs people at the South Pole. There she meets Ashley, a serious astrophysicist who has no interest in relationships because she’s determined to help colonize Mars someday. This story has naturally come together so I can’t wait to write it.

How do you take your coffee?

Strangely enough, I never was much of a coffee drinker until well into my 30s. I still don’t drink it daily because I develop a tolerance for it quickly. I recently learned I prefer espresso drinks with enough sugar to balance the coffee, and tons of almond milk. Right now, my favorite is the juniper latte at Starbucks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review of Dal Segno by Jax Meyer

Dal Segno

I was intrigued when I heard about Dal Segno by Jax Meyer. There are not many lesfic novels that focus on overcoming a lost loved one. This book was heartfelt and moving. I couldn’t wait to delve deeper into the process with Cam as she explored her past making room for new love in her heart.

 

Here is a short blurb about the book:

On the verge of turning 40, former Marine Cameron ‘Cam’ Warren didn’t expect to be walking onto a community college campus to spend a year playing music. Instead of enjoying her career, Cam is still mourning the tragic death of her partner and fellow Marine Sharon. Five years have now passed but she is no further forward in dealing with her grief. Cam knows she needs to change so she can heal. Will taking a sabbatical to play the drums allow her to live fully again, connecting her to emotions in ways her autism has always prevented?

 

Jazz pianist and teacher Laura Clark has had enough of city life on the east coast and yearns for the quiet beauty of Colorado. When a faculty position opens at a small community college in Ft. Collins, she jumps at the chance to start a new life. However, what she couldn’t predict was that one of her star students was about to walk back into her life, 20 years later.

 

When Cam is introduced to the new jazz ensemble director she is shocked to see her high school music teacher, a thousand miles away from the small town where Ms. Clark first introduced her to jazz. But Cam is no longer a kid and, as their chemistry grows stronger, Cam has to choose which path her life will take – will she choose love or will she choose fear?

 

Dal Segno is a lesbian romance that shows the power of revisiting the past to create a completely different result. Everything changes the second time around.

 

Dal Segno is not your traditional romance novel. It is about overcoming the loss of a spouse. Cam Warren lost her partner in a freak accident and this book is her finding a way to overcome that loss and find love with someone else. Cam and Laura have a bit of a different history. Laura was Cam’s high school teacher. Normally I’m not all about student teacher relationships because I find the power dynamic a little creepy. That is not the case at all with this book. Cam is an adult college student who has gone back to college to enhance her musical abilities and the power dynamic never comes into play.

 

Cam is a great character. I liked how multifaceted she is. Cam is butch which is something I don’t tend to see in a lot of lesbian fiction. Also, there is something incredibly sexy about a butch marine. One of the most interesting aspects for me was how Cam’s autism affected her social interactions with Laura and others. It was nice to see her reasoning for her actions and what made her uncomfortable in certain situations.

 

I would recommend this book for anyone who is interested in love after loss type of romance novel.

 

Dal Segno is available on Kindle Unlimited by clicking here.