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#Vote on the Cover for Big Man Blue

Yesterday, I sent my Newsletter Subscribers a first look at my new cover for Big Man Blue with the opportunity to vote on which one they liked best. Now, it’s your turn to put your vote in!

The differences are fairly subtle, but as you probably well know, the devil’s in the details, baby! So click the one that you would choose… This, or That. (And if you don’t love either of them, seriously, comment below and let me know. I want to get it right!)

THIS or THAT

THIS

Big Man Blue 6x9 Kindle
This

THAT

Big Man Blue 6x9 Kindle - option 2
That

 

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How Romance Books Have the Power to Empower Women (#metoo)

Empower Women.png

It’s ongoing. It’s pervasive. It’s hidden in plain sight. Women experience this from an early age until it’s ingrained in our minds, in our world views, in our very identities. Maybe we don’t even see it until it’s pointed out to us. Until some brave woman takes a stand to say ‘Enough is Enough.’

I watched a powerful video recently. Oprah Winfrey stood before an audience of Hollywood actors and actresses, directors, producers, men and women from all walks of life, and an international audience far and wide. And she spoke her truth.

“For too long, women have not been heard, or believed, if they dared to speak their truth to the power of those men. BUT THEIR TIME IS UP!

I felt so many powerful emotions watching this speech, but specifically starting at this point (6:31). And I don’t know a single woman whose heart wouldn’t swell with pride and resounding excitement to those words – BUT THEIR TIME IS UP!

As a woman, I know what it is to live in a culture inundated with the message that my identity and self worth is tied to my sexuality and what men think I have to offer them. As a romance author, I have a voice that may not have the same reach as this amazing woman, Oprah Winfrey, but I do have the amazing opportunity to reach women in a unique and powerful way, all the same.

See, I write about women. Strong women.  Women with brains.  Women who don’t sit back and take the shit from men that we, as women, have to deal with every single day of our lives.  Shit that most men don’t even have the slightest clue about, because we keep it quiet. We don’t talk about it. We ignore it so that we don’t bring more attention to it, and maybe it will go away.

In the books I read, romance books I love so much, books by amazing authors like Lauren Blakely, Vi Keeland, Penelope Ward, Rye Hart, Elodie Colt, L.M. Halloran, Maria Luis, Faleena Hopkins, J. Saman, Kharma Kelley, Patricia Briggs, Linsey Hall, and so many others… there are women in these stories who light the way to what we, as women, are really and truly looking for.

To be loved, cherished, and respected for the person we are.  Not for just our looks, not just for our sexuality or what we can offer a man for his sexual gratification. Women have minds. We are resourceful, courageous, and forces in our own rights. We have thoughts, opinions, talents, abilities, skills that apply outside the confines of a bedroom. Our worth is more than our reproductive organs. We have an infinite amount more to offer and contribute to this world, and these things should not be stifled by the thoughtless, selfish, ridiculous attitudes and biases of men.

In romance books, at least the good ones, and at least the ones I’ve read, it’s not the selfish, bigoted, narcissistic men who get the women worth getting. Even if the men start out that way, they don’t get the girl from being that way. They get the girl by changing and learning a different way. Call it a character arc, call it overcoming obstacles, call it resolving conflict, or what-have you. This can be a powerful message to the women, and even men, who read romance books. And as romance writers, there’s more than just that message if you look close enough.

To me, romance books send these message to women (and if they don’t, they should!):

  • Make men work for it! Teach men that you demand respect and you command respect. NEVER accept anything less, regardless of what you look like.

  • Men who make you feel like nothing more than a sexual object are not the Heroes meant for your Happily Ever After. If that’s who you’re with now, you’re not done yet. Keep looking.
  • Men who treat women this way still have work to do on themselves. If they aren’t working on it, or aren’t willing to, then maybe it’s time to look for someone who is.
  • Few good romance book heroines go through life alone. They have best friends, sisters, sidekicks of some form or fashion. They have mentors to help them on their way. Don’t make men the end-all-be-all in your lives. Keep your sidekicks and mentors around and nurture those relationships so that they are there when you need them.
  • Be the woman worthy of a great Hero! Don’t tie your entire identity to your sexuality. Find what breathes color into your life and build your identity around what makes you strong, what makes you respect yourself. Be the leading lady of your own story.

leading lady

What Other Messages Have You Gotten From Romance Books You Wish Other Women Would See?

Let me know your thoughts down in the comments. This isn’t just about me, it’s about all of us. It’s about being empowered and giving yourself the credit you deserve.

 

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Book Review – Rock Hard Daddy by Rye Hart

rock hard daddy - rye hartRock Hard Daddy: A Single Dad & A Virgin Romance by Rye Hart

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Loved the devil may care attitude of Conner Wilkes

This was a great, novella length story. I’d have probably rated it 5 stars if it had been edited for typos. The overall writing was good, the story was engrossing, the steamy scenes were yummy, there was a good balance of conflict and resolution.

The pace was done well for a short read like this. I never felt a sense that the story was lagging or rushed in any way. There were a few places that Chloe was called Bella, which was confusing. But I really liked the personality of Conner Wilkes. I thought the author set his character up really well, giving him a sexy, devil may care attitude, especially toward women, so it was really satisfying the way this bad boy couldn’t resist our sweet, innocent heroine in the story.

I recommend this book for anyone who likes steamy, new adult, contemporary romance.

View all my reviews

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Holiday Reading Update (with Vlog)

Hey lovelies!  Here is a video update of how My Holiday Reading List is coming so far.

As I mentioned previously, I have four books on my reading list, and of those books, I have read one so far (Jameson by K.F. Breene), started another (The Gift by Dannika Dark), and finished the preceding book to a third one (Magic Undying by Linsey Hall).

So far, these books did not disappoint.  Jameson, while a lot shorter than the other books in the Darkness Series, still packed that punch that K.F. Breene is so talented with, which is really hot and steamy love scenes.  Because it was so short, I felt like I didn’t really have a chance to get to know the new character, Addison, who hooks up with a returning character, (obviously) Jameson.  But, I did feel like I got to know Jameson a lot better in this novella, which was a pleasant surprise.

I had talked about Linsey Hall’s Demon Magic being on my list this week, but before I can read that one, I had to read its preceding book, Magic Undying, which I had not read yet until now.  Magic Undying is the first book in a new series that begins where a previous series (Dragon’s Gift: The Huntress) leaves off.  While the Huntress series followed another character, Casseiopia “Cass” Clareaux, this new series follows Delphine “Del” Hally.  I will just say that this series of books is seriously one of my new, all-time favorites.  It’s just fantastic.  Del’s series introduces a new character, who is obvious from the get-go to be her new love interest.  I have to admit that, while Roarke Fallon was a pretty hot and bad-ass hero (as far as half-demon/half shifters and the Warden of the freaking Underworld goes), I still liked Aidan Merrick, the Origin shifter and Cass’s love interest in the first series, more.  I’m thinking I’ll get to like Roarke better when I read the next book.  But… did I mention that Merlin, King Author, and Guinevere play somewhat of a role in this book?  That was awesome!  I’m such a nerd.

I just started reading The Gift today, and have only made it through about Chapter 1 so far, but I am so excited to jump in head first to this book.  Full disclosure, I have read the five books in the Mageri Series multiple times, and have listened to the audiobooks on long car trips even more times than that. I love, love, love this series, so getting to see all of these characters again in a fresh, new story is just really exciting for me.  (It’s no coincidence that my dog, Logan, in the beginning of my video above has the same name as one of the main characters in that story.)

next-series-giveaway

There’s still time to tell me which series you want a Book 1 giveaway for!  I will give it a few more days, and will do a giveaway around New Year’s Eve for Book 1 of the series with the most interest.  So far, The Darkness Series is in the lead!  (Book 1 of that series is already free, so in that case, I would do a giveaway for Book 2.)

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Flash Fiction – Alone In A Crowd

Don’t miss the beginning!  Read Chapter 1, Chapter 2, and Chapter 3.

alone-in-a-crowd

Chapter 4


Jake and Marta’s home was covered from one end to the other in tinsel, garland, candles, and snacks of various sweet and savory varieties.   A fire was blazing in the fireplace, radiating warmth throughout the large living room as their friends made their way in from the cold, some in twos and some, like Cordi, alone.

When Cordi entered the front door, she took in the scents of cinnamon and warm pastries, taking in a deep breath to let the comforting aromas fill her.  She shrugged out of her coat and winter scarf, handing them to Jake as she greeted him with a nod and a smile, which he returned.

She loved this time of year.  It had a sort of sweet sadness to it.  She was surrounded by friends and family and all the beauty that Christmas held.  But still, she couldn’t shake that all-too-familiar feeling of being alone.  She found that with each passing year, her hope was waning.  She never thought she would be that girl who, at thirty-two, was still single.  No husband or companion to kiss beneath the mistletoe.  No laughter of children to spread the Christmas cheer with.

She walked around the party, maneuvering between the other guests who stood conversing, holding their flutes of champagne.  She found Marta, and shimmied up to her as Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree played softly in the background.

“Your party is beautiful, Marta.  I love what you’ve done with the place,” Cordi said to her friend as she smiled and they hugged.

“You made it!  When did you get here?” Marta squealed in excitement before handing Cordi her own bubbly glass.

“Just now.  Don’t act so surprised!  I told you I would come, didn’t I?” Cordi said as she took the glass and brought it to her lips for a sip.

“Yes, but I had my doubts.”  Marta said with a raised brow.  She shook her head and waved the thought away to segue into a new topic.  “I have a surprise for you!”

“What?  What kind of surprise?” Cordi asked, feeling guilty that she hadn’t brought a gift for Marta, as well, if Marta had gotten her something.

“Keep an open mind, okay?  It’s a guy.”  Marta took Cordi by the elbow and pulled her around to face the crowd that had accumulated in her living room and throughout her home.  She looked around, checking to see if Graham had arrived yet.

“A guy?  Haven’t you already tried to set me up once this week?  We both know how that turned out,” Marta said, the skepticism evident in her voice.

“I know, I know, but just give it a chance.  I talked to Graham a couple of nights ago, and he said he felt like a jerk for standing you up and wanted a do-over.”

Cordi didn’t utter a word, but gave her friend an unamused glare.

“I know what you’re thinking, but trust me.  I wouldn’t have went to all this trouble to set you two up in the first place if I didn’t think you two would really like each other,” Marta explained in defense.

Cordi took another sip from her glass.  She gave a slow shake of her head.  “I can’t believe I let you drag me into these things,” she said, half-joking and half-serious.

Marta laughed and squealed enthusiastically.  “You’ll thank me someday,” she said.

A couple approached and greeted Marta, so she introduced them to Cordi before telling Cordi to mingle around a bit while she made the rounds with her other guests, so that she wouldn’t seem rude.  Cordi took the opportunity to walk around, taking it all in.

Even though Cordi felt slighted that Graham had stood her up that few nights ago, her curiosity ended up getting the best of her, and she found herself looking around to see if she could spot him, realizing she still didn’t actually know what he looked like.  Maybe he hadn’t arrived yet.  Or maybe he wouldn’t show up at all, essentially standing her up again.  Wouldn’t that be just about par for the course?

The background music switched to an old, familiar song by Dan Fogelberg, Same Old Lang Syne, and the slower melody brought on a wistful feeling that Cordi was trying hard to shake.  She couldn’t help but feel even more alone at that moment, and she thought about bundling back up into her coat and just heading back home.

When she felt a chill of cold, night air blow across her skin, goosebumps raised her flesh, and she turned to see who had come in the front door.

She couldn’t believe her eyes, and she blinked in shock.

“Russ?”


Keep reading with Chapter 5, available now!