Thursday, October 28, 2021

The Music Stalker

Today I’m delighted to share with you the release of THE MUSIC STALKER, the second novel by award-winning author Bruce Berger. The Music Stalker, from Black Rose Press, closely examines how genius and love might survive in a close-knit family torn by trauma, insanity, and jealousy.

Publisher: Black Rose Writing

Publication date: October 28, 2021
Format: Paperback
Page count: 336
Price: $20.95
ISBN: 978-1-68433-791-0

Two decades after his family suffers trauma, Max, the loving but remorsefully jealous older brother of a musical genius, chronicles the story of his dysfunctional family.

In mid-1970’s New York City, Max’s sister, Kayla, vaulted to fame as a piano prodigy, holding both audiences and her family in awe with her uncanny musical ability and warm smile. But deep within her lie the seeds of destruction: the paranoid fear of being stalked by a murderous fan.

This mystery explores themes of family dysfunction, mental illness, and the long-term effects of family secrets going untold

A trailer of The Music Stalker can be enjoyed here. The Music Stalker is available here.

Please join me in giving a warm welcome to Bruce, who joins us today to answers some questions about his book and writing. Welcome, Bruce.

What drove you to write about these characters, who also appear in The Flight of the Veil?

Bruce: 

Some of these are characters – Nicky and Adel in particular – are characters that I’ve lived with and been fascinated by since my first published short story in 2009, “Nate and Adel.” They appear in a 16-story sequence of linked stories, many of which were published in literary magazines. They led complicated lives prior to their marriage. Adel – an intelligent girl who abused by her mother, who suffers from schizophrenia, and who struggles to make her way in the world as an orphan. Nicky – a Holocaust survivor who fought against the Germans in Greece during World War II, who immigrated to America, who entered the medical profession and became a psychiatrist, and who never quite dealt with the enormous guilt he feels for his survival. When they marry, how could they not have a fascinating – and deeply troubled – family? 

What drove you to write in such detail about a piano prodigy and about mastering classical music at a professional level?

Bruce:

No surprise, but I started at the piano much as Max does in this story, making it my instrument and beginning lessons at four. I gave Kayla the talent and drive that I didn’t have and wanted to see how she would progress with these attributes. I listened to classical music throughout the drafting of this novel, in its many versions. So, part of me is in Max and part of me is in Kayla. I’m pleased that early readers knowledgeable in music feel that the musical aspects of this novel are right on target.  

Are you continuing to write about these characters? If so, will you ever decide to write about new characters?

Bruce:

Yes, as a sequel to The Flight of the Veil has been begun. Upon completion, it would be the third in chronological time of the trilogy that begins with The Music Stalker. The tentative name of this third book is To See God. 

But yes, I expect in the fullness of time I will write about new characters. There will come a time when Nicky Covo, his daughter Kayla, and all their loved ones will need to exit the stage and go on to live their lives without my intervention.     

Explain how Judaism affects the story, i.e. why this theme of close observance of Judaism is critical to your characters. 

Bruce:

The parents in the Covo family have very strong opinions or beliefs about God. Nicky is a confirmed atheist, which he became as he realized that his family was murdered at Auschwitz. Adel, in part because of her mental illness but also in part because of her author’s devices, is convinced that God is a middle-aged male writer of fiction. Neither of these approaches to God is sufficient for Kayla, who earns for a spiritual world that goes beyond her magnificent ability to make music. When she stumbles upon the Chabad way of life, she finds something that will sustain her when she can no longer pursue her music career. So, the close observance of Judaism is critical to her survival as a functioning human being.  

Bruce, thanks for joining us today and sharing this insight into your writing.

Now for those who aren’t familiar with Bruce, here’s a bit of background on him

Following a 40-year career as a trial attorney in Washington, DC., Bruce J. Berger turned fulltime to writing, earned a M.F.A. in Creative Writing from American University, and now teaches there.

His first novel, The Flight of the Veil, is a sequel to The Music Stalker and achieved critical success, winning a Bronze Award in General Fiction from Illumination Christian Book Awards.

Kirkus Reviews called The Flight of the Veil “A well-crafted tale about trauma and miracles. Get it.” He has also published more than 50 stories and poems in a wide variety of literary journals.   

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Do you think being a prodigy would have more cons than pros or would the good outweigh any bad?

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Dinner on Primrose Hill

It’s always a delight to share a new book by bestselling author Jodi Thomas, especially when it is part of her fascinating Honey Creek series. Her newest book, DINNER ON PRIMROSE HILL, hits bookshelves today.

DINNER ON PRIMROSE HILL

By Jodi Thomas
Zebra Books, an imprint of Kensington Publishing Corp.
On Sale: October 26th, 2021
Trade Paperback Original Contemporary Romance
$15.95 ($21.95 CAN)
ISBN: 978-1-4201-5134-3

A slice of Americana delivered with her characteristic warmth, endearing characters, and authentic Texan flair, the third Honey Creek novel by New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jodi Thomas takes readers to Clifton Bend, Texas, a small college town where two very different scientists must team up on an experiment on “The Chemistry of Mating.”

Can these two opposites attract and quantify the science of love? The author of over 50 novels with millions of books in print, Jodi is truly the queen of creating small towns which readers want to revisit over and over again – in fact the Honey Creek series has become her best-selling series in trade paperback in her storied career!

Jodi welcomes readers back to the picturesque Texas valley that cradles the town of Honey Creek—a place where friendship and warm welcomes can be relied on, and love always finds a way . . .

Benjamin Monroe is pretty sure how his life will play out. He’ll continue teaching chemistry in his small college and spend his free time biking through the valley. Eventually, he’ll retire to putter around in his garden and greenhouse.

His colleague, Virginia Clark, is not one for routines. She’s chatty, spontaneous, and bubbly, and before Benjamin realizes what happened, she’s talked him into collaborating on a research project—studying the mating habits of college students. Virginia knows her desire to work with Benjamin is motivated by more than the potential prize money . . . and hopes he might not be quite as indifferent as he seems to be.

Ketch Kincaid, one of Benjamin’s star students, returned to college after serving in the army. He needs something to get his mind off his recent breakup and collecting research data might do it. And there’s another distraction on the horizon—a woman who looks like she, too, knows about heartache. Soon enough, their project, “The Chemistry of Mating,” is gaining notoriety. Friends, neighbors . . . the whole town has become involved. But no matter what the data determines, one conclusion seems inescapable: love follows its own rules . . .

MEET THE AUTHOR: JODI THOMAS

Jodi Thomas is a New York Times bestselling author and fifth-generation Texan who sets many of her award-winning stories in her home state, where her grandmother was born in a covered wagon. A multi-RITA® Award-winner and member of the prestigious Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame, she’s written over 50 novels with millions of copies in print.

Jodi lives in Amarillo, Texas, and can be found online at JodiThomas.com. Visit Jodi Thomas online at: www.JodiThomas.com

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Don’t you just love stories that take you to a small town and draw you in so you feel you know everyone?

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

A Christmas at Gingerbread Falls (+ Giveaway)

 

A Christmas at Gingerbread Falls
By Katie Mettner
Publication date: October 12th, 2021
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Holiday, Romance

Actress Carrie Murray’s films are a Christmas lover’s delight. Filled with twinkling lights, festive carols, and happy endings, they’re the perfect escape from reality—for her and the audience. Then Tinseltown calls.

Braxton Timothy is Hollywood’s biggest action star. Handsome and talented but decidedly on the naughty list, no one can fathom his sudden desire to produce a feel-good Christmas movie—least of all, his no-name co-star.

Alternating between scenes reminiscent of everyone’s favorite made-for-TV movies and unexpected, off-screen chemistry, Gingerbread Falls has surprises in store this holiday season. The question is, will there be enough Christmas magic to convince two imperfect people that they’re perfect for each other?

This “sweet as a Christmas cookie” romance (bestselling author Heidi Swain) includes an original recipe for Maple Glazed Gingerbread Scones.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble

Now here are my thoughts on A CHRISTMAS AT GINGERBREAD FALLS.

A CHRISTMAS AT GINGERBREAD FALLS is your typical romance story, and then it isn't which is why it is such a fun and an intriguing read.

You have a story going on with the characters in the movie and you have the story of the actors themselves. You quickly get caught up in both plots anxious to find out what happens next to all parties.

The author created the characters in such a way you almost feel they are separate individuals from the parts they are playing in the movie. Readers get two tantalizing stories in one.

The characters are well developed and easy for readers to relate to. The story moves along at a good pace holding your interest from beginning to end. There is secrets and tragedy, but there is also hope and happiness. There's bits of steamy romance, strong friendships, and a good dose of humor. It's a well-balanced story.

This is an enjoyable book with delightful characters that's a perfect read to get you in the mood for the holidays no matter the time of the year.

Meet the Author: Katie Mettner

Katie Mettner writes small-town romantic tales filled with epic love stories and happily-ever-afters. She proudly wears the title of, ‘the only person to lose her leg after falling down the bunny hill,’ and loves decorating her prosthetic with the latest fashion trends. She lives in Northern Wisconsin with her own happily-ever-after and three mini-mes. Katie has a massive addiction to coffee and Twitter, and a lessening aversion to Pinterest — now that she’s quit trying to make the things she pins.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Are you in the mood for Christmas stories?

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Thursday, September 30, 2021

First Light (+ Giveaway)

 

First Light
By Isabel Jolie
Publication date: September 28th, 2021
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

He could be my savior…or my downfall…

I was living a lie.

No one knew who I really was. Letting someone in could’ve been devastating for my family.

For the most part, isolation wasn’t a hardship. It’s not like I was looking for love or any kind of serious relationship.

But then I met Logan.

I tried to keep my distance. He wouldn’t let me.

Logan is gentle, kind, and loving. Everything I never knew I needed in my life.

He’s also a cop—exactly the kind of man who’d never understand my truth.

So, while he shared his deepest, darkest secrets, I kept mine hidden.

Too bad I couldn’t keep my heart locked away, too.

Because now, I’m falling for a man who can never be mine. Not truly, anyway.

How can I ask him to be my future when I can’t even let him help me survive my present?

First Light, book three in the Haven Island series, is a lightly angsty, sometimes suspenseful, small town, military contemporary romance featuring a grumpy protective, over hero and the heroine who steals his heart. All of the books in the series are standalone contemporary romance novels and can be read in any order.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo / Google Play

Now here's an excerpt for your reading pleasure.

“Do you have any idea how crazy this dress has been driving me? The hem bounces when you walk, and shows off these long, lean thighs.”

I shifted my leg, opening to give him greater access. The rough pads of his fingers were warm against my bare skin, and goosebumps spread like wildfire across my arms.

“Are you cold?”

“No,” I breathed. I toyed with his soft hair on the back of his neck then tugged, guiding him back to my lips.

“Would you… Can we… Take this to the bedroom?”

“But what about—” A hungry, deep kiss silenced me. “The kitchen?” I asked, breathless, when he pulled back.

“Screw the kitchen.”

“Are you sure?” My brain fogged. His thigh pressed hard between my legs, lighting a desire. But out of the corner of my eye, the dirty stack of plates nagged.

“Cali?”

“Yeah?” I brushed my fingers through the coarse strands of his trimmed beard, and he leaned into my touch.

“You’re looking at those dishes, aren’t you?”

My hips flexed against his legs, and I closed my eyes, reveling in the sensations firing off in my core.

“Now I’m not.”

His rough beard scratched the delicate skin along my throat as he flicked over my sensitized nipple. Through the cloth, his touch teased, and my body yearned for more.

His forehead pressed to mine. “Two minutes.”

He lifted me and placed me against the wall. Cold air encapsulated around my front in place of his warmth, and I stood, watching him, stunned as he moved at lightning speed. The chilly wall pressed against my back, and I alternated between crossing my arms and dropping my hands to my side.

Moments ago, I’d been ready to jump him, to beg him, to drop all inhibitions. But the desperate desire to ease a long-buried need cooled, and my brain kicked in. Shouldn’t we take this slower? If we do this, will I be using him? I’m not about to get into a serious relationship. And he’s so straightforward. He’s a good guy. He seemed to want more. If he wanted more, he deserved more.

Dishes clanged together. One singular swipe on the counters with a kitchen towel left the white gleaming. He closed the dishwasher with a dull snap.

“Clean.” He announced as he stalked toward me. I halfway expected, or maybe hoped, he’d finish what we started and take me up against the wall. Hard, fast, and possessive. But he’d calmed down, too. He lifted my hand and pressed my knuckles to his lips. “Care to sit down? We can talk.”

“Talk?” An uncontrollable smile spread.

“It’s… we’re both each other’s rebounds, right?”

“Yes.” I rationalized if you considered the shift from my life as it was, to the current state, as a divorcee, then I wasn’t lying… he would be a twisted sort of rebound.

“This whole dating thing. To tell you the truth, I had no desire. Until you. I think I’ve been numb. Desensitized.”

“You had a tough divorce?” The bow of his shoulders relayed an underlying pain as answer to my question.

“Is there any other kind?” Gentle, sensitive brown eyes searched mine.

“No, I suppose not.” Apprehension he would see through me, see my lies, took hold. I dropped my gaze.

“I know they say a rebound relationship shouldn’t…evolve. But to me, you don’t feel like a rebound fling.”

My fingers slid through his. A crushing weight rested on my chest. I followed him over to his sofa. He sat down first, and he tugged my hand, pulling me down beside him.

“You’re not a fling to me either. But…”

“Sshhh. That’s okay.” Laughter from outside filtered through the walls, along with the high-pitched jingle of a bike bell. His arm wrapped around my shoulders, and he tilted my chin up. “I don’t want to rush this. We can take it as slow as you want. But I like kissing you. A lot. Do you mind if I kiss you?”

My fingers skimmed his dark, thick hair at the nape of his neck, and he closed his eyes reverently. I pulled him down in answer. I tasted the faint hint of the cedar plank salmon, the chardonnay, and mint. His hands roamed over my dress, and I tugged on his shirt, pulling it out to grant access to the bare skin beneath. He groaned, and we shifted. Side by side on the sofa, his thigh pressed between my legs, and I ground against it. The tension and desire from earlier flamed back, but with a more controlled heat. He lifted my dress higher and higher, exposing me to just below my breasts. The soft touch of the rough pads of his fingers elicited an uncontrolled moan.

“Is this okay?” he asked in a low, barely audible, husky tone.

In answer, I brushed my fingers across his crotch and stroked the curve of his erection through his slacks. He groaned.

“How slow do you want to take this?”

 

Meet the Author: Isabel Jolie

Isabel Jolie, or Izzy to her friends, is an Amazon bestselling indie author with an unquenchable thirst for a good, sexy love story. Izzy’s heart pumps faster for stories with strong heroines, down-to-earth realism, and an unexpected twist.

When she’s not writing or reading, she can often be found with a glass of wine in hand relaxing with her husband, daughters, and good friends lakeside.

Izzy fills her Instagram feed with funnies, inspirational “brain candy”, and anything that meshes with her mood of the day. #mood.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Who can resist a story with a strong hero and a heroine who tries to take on the world by herself?

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