Friday, August 07, 2020


There’s still plenty of time to find summer fun and summer love, new romances and second chances, hot alpha males and heartwarming heroes, beach bunnies, dudes, and romance popping up when you least expect it.

Throw a log on the beach bonfire tonight and celebrate LAST CHANCE BEACH: Summer’s End, a special collection of 14 short stories from bestselling authors—all new, never published before—that will thrill the hopeful romantic in you. Some stories are sweet; some are sizzling hot. All will touch your heart and make you want to book a vacation to LAST CHANCE BEACH.

Only 99 cents and only for a limited time!

Purchase link is


Genre: Contemporary romance


14 members of the Romance Gems

 LAST CHANCE BEACH is the island paradise where dreams go to live again and wishes may come true. It’s Summer’s End on the island, and the cottages, condos, hotels, and bungalows are filled to capacity. Where is LAST CHANCE BEACH? The island is just off the mainland—wherever you want it to be.

Let your imagination carry you to the island!

Video is


Hot August Night by Joan Reeves, NY Times and USA Today Bestselling Author

Can a chef and a hot dog loving cop resist desire when they’re forced to share the same overbooked beach cottage?

Something New by Liz Flaherty, USA Today Bestselling Author

Their lives are all planned out—until they're not.

I Do…Again by Nancy Fraser, Amazon Top 100 Author

Can they re-ignite what they once had and take a last chance on love?

The Man in Gull Cottage by Caroline Clemmons, Amazon Top 100 Author

Will the solution to her dilemma drive them apart or into one another's arms?

That One Summer by Maddie James, Amazon Top 100 Author

He's the one who got away. She's the one who couldn't commit.

Romancing the Spouse by Jan Scarbrough, Amazon Bestselling Author

Can she turn back the clock to save her marriage?

Blue Sky Summer by Kathleen Lawless, Amazon Bestselling Author

Of all the beaches on the coast, who does she see again? Him!

Hangover Husband by Bonnie Edwards, Amazon Bestselling Author

What happens in Vegas doesn't always stay there

One Last Shot by Marcia King-Gamble, National Bestselling Author

She can run, but can she hide?  Will love still find her?

Secondhand Hearts by Kathryn Hills, Award Winning Author

Life takes you down many winding paths. Will theirs lead to love on Last Chance Beach?

Paradise Perfume by Connie Vines, Award Winning Author

Fragrance and love cannot be hidden.

Dreams of the Past by Laura Hunsaker, Award Winning Author

Can dreams of the future erase her nightmares of the past?

Beach Kisses & Sunset Wishes by Nora LeDuc

She wants someone interested in a fling. He wants someone interested in a ring.

Can't Buy Me Love by Hannah Rowan

Things aren't always what they seem.


That’s not all—we have a FREE book of recipes for tempting cocktails to drink while you read! In case you don’t drink alcohol, the recipe I contributed is for an alcohol-free punch that also doesn’t leave a permanent stain when spilled.

COCKTAILS ON LAST CHANCE BEACH is the companion recipe book to LAST CHANCE BEACH: SUMMER'S END box set.

What's not to love about savoring a fruity, icy cocktail in the dog days of summer? Or sipping a crisp spritzer to wake up your senses after a sleepy afternoon on the beach? Can any of us resist a tart margarita or the lure of a tequila sunrise during a beachside seafood dinner? Perhaps there are those who could resist all of the above--but not the authors of the LAST CHANCE BEACH: SUMMER'S END collection of romantic short stories set--where else?--on Last Chance Beach.

We hope you try out and enjoy each of these recipes soon--perhaps while you are reading our stories!

Wednesday, August 05, 2020


Don't miss the Rafflecopter giveaway at the end of this post!

The Subway Girl
The Subway Girl Series Book 1
Lisa Becker
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Comedy 


"You don't find love, it finds you. It's got a little bit to do with
destiny, fate and what's written in the stars." Anais Nin

A hopeless romantic.
A cynical web show producer.
An unscrupulous cameraman.
A sleazy businessman.
An aspiring actress.
A womanizing best friend.
A scheming ex-girlfriend.
A commitment-phobic roommate.
An unlucky-in-love buddy.

These lives intersect when an average guy is awed by a gorgeous mystery
woman on a New York subway and vows to meet her.

Those catlike green eyes. That long, silky brown hair, flowing over her right shoulder from underneath a pink beanie. A radiant smile of straight, gleaming white teeth, lined up perfectly, sinking into a juicy magenta lip.

Ryan Carlson looked up after offering his seat to an elderly passenger and knew his life had changed forever. Leaning against a pole several feet in front of him on the crowded 1 train to Times Square stood the most exquisite woman he had ever seen. And, for just a brief beat, she was looking right at him, too.

In a moment, as quick and powerful as a strike of lightning, he knew he had to meet her. Yeah, right, approach a total stranger on the subway. He had no doubt he’d come off looking like a weirdo or a stalker, as there was certainly no shortage of those in New York City. He knew he was neither. Just a regular guy, a decent guy, looking for the right girl.

He took a moment to study her further. There was no engagement ring or wedding band on her finger, although she did wear a wide silver thumb ring. She was dressed in a pair of black workout pants, a gray sweater and that pink beanie.

She probably had a boyfriend. One look at her, and it was hard for him to imagine someone wasn’t already lucky enough to be with her. He’d been on the receiving end of betrayal and wouldn’t put someone else through that kind of hell. Men probably approached her all the time. But maybe she was single.

His mouth went dry as he tried to think of what he would say. He honestly didn’t know. It wasn’t like this situation had come up before. All he knew was he was determined to meet her. Maybe it was his fate to meet her. Yes. It’s fate. He was convinced of it.

His heart raced as he took a deep, calming breath. With sweaty palms, he grabbed the pole next to him and pushed forward while he considered his next move. As he got closer to the woman, he could hear her singing to herself under her breath, and her charming accent caused his stomach to clench in the most amazing way.

“Fifty-Ninth Street–Columbus Circle,” the conductor droned over the loudspeaker as the subway car rattled and whistled. The lights flickered, and when they came back on, the woman was no longer clinging to her pole. With rising panic, Ryan surveyed the car. She had managed to move toward the door just as the train pulled into the station. Ryan tried to keep an eye on the pink hat as passengers pushed to get off.

A large man with a bad comb over, dressed in a tattered brown suit and scuffed shoes, blocked Ryan’s way. Not wanting to be rude, Ryan gently shifted the shabby businessman aside. “Excuse me, getting off,” he muttered.

Ryan stepped off the train and stood on the subway platform, two exits before his intended stop, stretching onto his toes to look left and right, seeking out the pink beanie. He jumped up a few times, trying to see over the hordes of people exiting and entering the train.

“Watch it, asshole,” a woman carrying two reusable shopping bags said as she pushed her way past him.

“Pardon me, ma’am,” he responded. With each passing second, his mystery girl was getting farther and farther away. Knowing he had a fifty-fifty chance, Ryan turned left and traversed the packed underground tunnel, seeking her out. He walked back and forth, peering up and down staircases and escalators to no avail.

She was gone.

Lisa Becker, Author

Lisa Becker is an award-winning romance writer who spends her time like
she spends her money - on books and margaritas.  As Lisa’s
grandmother used to say, “For every chair, there’s a tush.”
Lisa is now happily married to a wonderful man she met online and
lives in Manhattan Beach, California with him and their two
daughters. So, if it happened for her, there’s hope for anyone!

Follow the tour HERE
for special content and a giveaway!

Monday, August 03, 2020


The Last Collection
Jeanne Mackin

GENRE: Historical Romance


An American woman becomes entangled in the intense rivalry between iconic fashion designers Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli in this captivating novel from the acclaimed author of The Beautiful American.

Paris, 1938. Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli are fighting for recognition as the most successful and influential fashion designer in France, and their rivalry is already legendary. They oppose each other at every turn, in both their politics and their designs: Chanel’s are classic, elegant, and practical; Schiaparelli’s bold, experimental, and surreal.

When Lily Sutter, a recently widowed young American teacher, visits her brother, Charlie, in Paris, he insists on buying her a couture dress—a Chanel. Lily, however, prefers a Schiaparelli. Charlie’s beautiful and socially prominent girlfriend soon begins wearing Schiaparelli’s designs as well, and much of Paris follows in her footsteps.

Schiaparelli offers budding artist Lily a job at her store, and Lily finds herself increasingly involved with Schiaparelli and Chanel’s personal war. Their fierce competition reaches new and dangerous heights as the Nazis and the looming threat of World War II bear down on Paris.

"Sophisticated couture wars and looming world wars take center stage in Mackin’s latest, with a plot that buzzes with love triangles and political intrigue. A gorgeous meditation on art, fashion, and heartbreak. Stunning."

--Fiona Davis, national bestselling author of The Masterpiece

“Exquisitely melding world politics and high fashion, THE LAST COLLECTION is a smart, witty, heartfelt, and riveting look at the infamous rivalry between Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli set against a gripping period in history. Mackin’s powerful novel brings these characters to life and transports the reader, juxtaposing both the gaiety and tension of Paris on the brink of war. As elegant and captivating as the designs depicted in the novel, THE LAST COLLECTION is the perfect read for both historical fiction lovers and fashion aficionados. Simply stunning.”

--Chanel Cleeton, USA Today bestselling author of Next Year in Havana

“A wonderful story of two intensely creative women, their vibrant joie de vivre, and backbiting competition played out against the increasingly ominous threat of the Nazi invasion of Paris. Seamless research makes every character leap to life and kept me totally engaged from beginning to end.

--Shelley Noble, New York Times bestselling author of Lighthouse Beach

“A vibrant portrait of two designers cut from very different cloth, Jeanne Mackin’s THE LAST COLLECTION pits bold Coco Chanel and colorful Elsa Schiaparelli against each other in a fiery feud even as the ominous clouds of World War II darken the horizon. A captivating read!”

--Stephanie Marie Thornton, author of American Princess

"As Hitler and the Nazis gather strength and the world braces for war, Elsa Schiaparelli and Coco Chanel, whose politics differ as much as their couture, wage a war of their own. Lily Sutter, the woman who finds herself in the middle of their feud, has a battle of her own as she struggles to make a new start amidst extreme grief and loss. From New York to Paris, Jeanne Mackin takes the reader on an enthralling journey, complete with such vivid descriptions of the clothing, you can practically see them on the page. Beautifully rendered and meticulously researched, THE LAST COLLECTION is a must read."

--Renée Rosen, author of Park Avenue Summer


Of the three primary colors, blue is most suggestive of paradox: it is the color of longing and sadness, and yet it is also the color of joy and fulfillment. On a ship, at night, blue water merges into blue sky, so blue is the color of places with no borders, no edges.

If you throw salt into a fire, the flames will burn blue. Salt rubbed into a wound renews the pain, intensifies it. Seeing others kiss and embrace was salt in my wound, a blue flame burning the length of me.

Blue best represents the contradictions of the heart, the need to be loved and cherished at the same time that we wish for freedom.

Blue, the color of the Worth gown that the little girl Elsa Schiaparelli found in her Roman piazza attic, the color of the covers of the penny romances Coco Chanel found in the orphanage attic.

Blue is what made Elsa Schiaparelli’s daring color, shocking pink, so special: it is pink infused with blue, turning a demure blush into an electric surge. Schiaparelli turned girlish pink into the color of seduction by adding that touch of blue.

And always, there is the blue of the Paris sky on a June day.

Listen. I’m going to tell you a story about fashion, and politics. And, of course, about love. The three primaries, like the primary colors.


Do you ever wish you were someone else? Who?

First, thank you for inviting me to your page. Yes, I have wished to be someone else and quite a bit of the time! I was having zoom happy hour with a friend who had once studied drama (she has since become a psychologist) and asked her why she was drawn to acting. “So I could inhabit other lives,” she said, and I almost fell off the sofa…because that’s why I am so drawn to writing historical fiction. So I can inhabit other lives, be in other times and places. Who would I most like to be? Impossible to answer because I know how all the stories end. Marie Antoinette and her guillotine, Cleopatra and her humiliation in Rome, to say nothing of that snake. No, I’m glad to be here and now, when I’m not writing. Although working in a jazz club in Paris in 1930…that would be something.

What did you do on your last birthday?

My husband was born a week before I was, so we celebrated the two birthdays together, in June, by going to a garden store (I’m a passionate gardener) and then out to dinner after a walk together. A lovely, quiet day with a lot of hand holding.

What part of the writing process do you dread?

There’s a moment when ‘the book’ becomes ‘the damn book’ and that’s usually about half way through the first draft. My energy and attention start to lag a bit. I have to force myself to the desk, to work. The first page is always as exciting as the first date with the love of my life. So much to discover, to experience, to enjoy. And then it becomes work and commitment.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?

I never used to, when I first began writing. I didn’t believe in it. But then I got older and terrible things began to happy to friends and family, illness, death, financial problems. Then, the writer’s block began, when life felt sometimes like a kick to the stomach. I would stop writing and allow myself the time I needed to suffer and grieve. I knew that if I tried to force it, nothing might be there, the stories might not show up. But after a while, my imagination starts to kick in again, I feel that impulse again to put a story on the page. And I begin.

My latest novel, The Last Collection – A Novel of Elsa Schiaparelli and Coco Chanel, is my love letter not so much to the fashion industry but to that impulse in us that makes us want to look good, even during war, even during grief. A little vanity is a very wonderful thing, it helps us get out of bed in the morning. So I went to my favorite city, Paris, physically and in my imagination, and wrote about the fierce, almost fatal rivalry between Paris’s two queens of fashion, Coco and Elsa. They were both astounding, powerful, creative women who happened to detest each other. When World War II broke out they made very different choices. Great fodder for a novel! I worked it around a love story involving an American woman and a German soldier, and Paris. Toujours Paris.


Jeanne Mackin's latest novel, The Last Collection, A Novel of Elsa Schiaparelli and Coco Chanel takes the reader to Paris, just before world war II, and the intense, dangerous rivalry between the two queens of fashion. Her previous novels include A Lady of Good Family, the award winning The Beautiful American, The Sweet By and By, Dreams of Empire, The Queen’s War, and The Frenchwoman.

Her historical fictions explore the lives of strong women who change their worlds…because we know the world always needs a lot of change! She has worked all the traditional ‘writers’ jobs’ from waitressing to hotel maid, anything that would leave her a few hours each morning for writing. Most recently, she taught creative writing at the graduate level. She has traveled widely, in Europe and the Middle East and can think of no happier moment than sitting in a Paris café, drinking coffee or a Pernod, and simply watching, while scribbling in a notebook.

Penguin Random House -

Amazon -


One randomly chosen winner via rafflecopter will win a $50 Amazon/ gift card.

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Friday, July 31, 2020


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Nan Reinhardt will be awarding a set of 6 handmade wineglass charms and a $10 Starbucks gift card. (USA only) to 5 randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

She wants a baby…he wants a family

Firefighter and paramedic Tierney Ashton has always been a bold adventurer, but at thirty-four she longs to embark on a new adventure—motherhood. But who will be the father? Although financially challenging, a sperm bank appears to be her best option. That is, until she shares her dream with her long-time pal, Brendan Flaherty.

Government analyst and world traveler Brendan Flaherty returns home to River’s Edge to help out at his family’s thriving winery and his brother’s new community theater. He also plans to finally achieve his lifelong goal of writing a novel. But when Tierney shares her wish, Bren offers to be her baby daddy—with one condition. Marriage.

It seems like a perfect contract, but will love get in the way?

Read an Excerpt

Three texts from Bren—he’d heard about the fire—wondering if she was okay. He was moving into his cabin; did she want to come up to the winery and help him celebrate. And, hey, it was almost midnight, where was she?

She smiled. Good old Brendan Flaherty. Her buddy had returned home from Washington, DC, nearly a year and a half ago. It was good to have him back in River’s Edge. He’d been her older brother, Mike’s, best friend since elementary school and had always treated her like his own little sister. He’d stepped right in as surrogate big brother when Mike died in Afghanistan fifteen years ago, and the two of them had helped each other through the grief. She treasured their friendship, especially now that Bren was home to stay.

Her eyes went to the photo on the mantle above the fireplace in the living room—Mike and Bren on their bikes with her sitting on Mike’s cross bar, his arm around her skinny form. The boys had been in seventh grade in the picture and at eight years old, Tierney had worshipped her older brother, although she’d always found his best buddy a little geeky. Actually, both Mike and Bren had been kind of nerdy—into computer games and science experiments and exploring the caves down by the Ohio River.

Bren was still geeky, but in the nicest way possible. He still made a point of looking after Tierney, even though at thirty-four, she was quite capable of taking care of herself. She went into the kitchen, refilled her coffee mug, and retrieved the box of marshmallow cereal from the pantry. Plopping back down at the table, she ate fingersful of dry cereal directly from the box while she texted Holly to let her know she’d be there at three and then Bren to reassure him that she was fine and would love to come out to the winery to celebrate his new digs.

About the Author

Nan Reinhardt is a USA Today-bestselling author of romantic fiction for women in their prime. Yeah, women still fall in love and have sex, even after 45! Imagine! She is a wife, a mom, a mother-in-law, and a grandmother. Nan has been a copyeditor and proofreader for over 25 years, and currently works on romantic fiction titles for a variety of clients, including Avon Books, St. Martin’s Press, HarperCollins, Kensington Books, Tule Publishing, and Entangled Publishing, as well as for many indie authors.

Although she loves her life as an editor, writing is Nan’s first and most enduring passion. She can’t remember a time in her life when she wasn’t writing—she wrote her first romance novel at the age of ten, a love story between the most sophisticated person she knew at the time, her older sister (who was in high school and had a driver’s license!), and a member of Herman’s Hermits. If you remember who they are, you are Nan’s audience! Her latest series, the Four Irish Brothers Winery series is available from Tule Publishing and all book retailers. Books 1 through 3 are currently available; Book 4 releases July 16, 2020 and is available for preorder.

Visit Nan’s website at, where you’ll find links to all her books as well as blogs about writing, being a Baby Boomer, and aging gracefully…mostly. Nan also blogs every third Tuesday at Word Wranglers, sharing the spotlight with five other romance authors, is a frequent contributor the RWA Contemporary Romance blog, and she contributes to the Romance University blog where she writes as Editor Nan.




Buy Link for The Baby Contract




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Wednesday, July 29, 2020


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Kat Martin will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

To prove her father’s innocent of treason, she’ll have to face a killer--and risk everything ...

When journalist Jessie Kegan’s father is accused of espionage and treason, Jessie has no doubt the man she looked up to her entire life is innocent. Worse yet, before Colonel Kegan can stand trial, he’s found dead of a heart attack…but Jessie knows it was murder. Forcing down her grief, she’s determined to use her investigative skills and resources to clear her father’s name. But going after the truth means Jessie soon finds herself in the crosshairs of a killer who wants that truth to stay buried with her father.

Protecting Jessie Kegan is a job bodyguard Brandon Garrett can’t refuse. Jessie isn’t just a client at Maximum Security—she’s the sister of his best friend, Danny, killed in Afghanistan. With dangerous forces gunning for Jessie from every angle, keeping her safe will mean keeping her close and Bran finds their mutual attraction growing, though being Danny’s sister puts Jessie out of bounds.

With their backs against the wall, Jessie and Bran will have to risk everything to expose her father’s killer—before his legacy dies with his daughter.

Read an Excerpt

Lounging back in the chair behind his desk at Maximum Security, Brandon Garrett looked up at the sound of the front door swinging open. A gust of cool, late October winds swept in, along with a petite, whirlwind of a woman with the prettiest strawberry blond hair Bran had ever seen.

It wasn’t tough to read the anxiety in her big green eyes as she surveyed the room, but instead of heading for the receptionist’s desk, those big green eyes landed on Bran and as she started toward him, there was something about her that rang a distant bell. Interest piqued, he rose from his chair. “Can I help you?”

“You’re Brandon Garrett, right? You were a friend of my brother’s. Danny Kegan? I recognize you from the photos Danny sent home.”

The mention of his best friend’s name hit him like a blow, and the muscles across his stomach clenched. Daniel Kegan had been a member of his spec ops team, a brother, not just a friend. Danny had saved Bran’s life at the cost of his own. He was KIA in Afghanistan.

Bran stared down at the girl, who was maybe five-foot-four. “You’re Jessie,” he said, remembering the younger sister Daniel Kegan had talked so much about. “You look like him. Same color hair and eyes.”

She nervously wet her lips, which were plump and pink and fit her delicate features perfectly.

“My brother said if I ever needed help, I should come to you. He said you’d help me no matter what.” She glanced back toward the door and his mind shifted away from the physical jolt he felt as he looked at her to the worry in her eyes.

“I’ll help you. Danny was my closest friend. Whatever you need, I’ll help. Come on. Let’s go into the conference room and you can tell me what’s going on.” When her gaze shot back to the door, his senses went on alert.

“I didn’t mean I needed your help later,” Jessie said nervously. “I meant I need your help right now.”

Gunshots exploded through the windows. “Get down!” Bran shouted to the other guys in the office as he shoved Jessie down behind his desk and covered her with his body. Glass shattered and a stream of bullets sprayed across the room.

About the Author

New York Times bestselling author Kat Martin is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara where she majored in Anthropology and also studied History. Currently residing in Missoula, Montana with her Western-author husband, L. J. Martin, Kat has written sixty-five Historical and Contemporary Romantic Suspense novels. More than sixteen million copies of her books are in print and she has been published in twenty foreign countries. Kat is currently at work on her next Romantic Suspense.

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Monday, July 27, 2020


The Secret
A Real Men Series Prequel
Best-selling Author 
Susan Saxx

Genre: Contemporary Romance  

A once in a lifetime Hawaiian vacation...
...what could go wrong?

Dare is crazy about Abby. But he struggles with his feelings, knowing he
can never match the lifestyle she was born into.
But when he takes her on an exotic vacation to Hawaii and his plans to
personally pamper her fall apart, his love for her is tested in ways
that surprise even him.
This book is a short prequel to REAL DEEP, Book #2 in the REAL MEN
series. It is not required to understand the story in Real Deep. It
can be read and enjoyed as a standalone and does not end with a

“…a delightful prequel novella”

Susan Saxx writes with both heart and honesty and The Secret is a great
addition to  the wonderful 'Real Men' series.”


If you’d love this
short, sparkling read for your summer escape readathon, 


The Real Men Series

Come on a Journey.

Meet the band of military reservists from Jack’s
Bay, Northern Ontario, and Terrence Point Mountain, British Columbia,
as well as the strong women they fall in love with. 

with an unbreakable bond, living in two very different parts of Canada.

Yet family, brotherhood and love...are the same.

Readers say:

I absolutely love this series!”
~ 5 STARS, Amazon Reviewer

But mostly there’s a lot of heart, tons of deep friendship, and the
kind  of loyalty and trust that you can’t find just anywhere.
Oh, and men—did I mention this place was full of testosterone? Yep.
Sounds like paradise to me. I’ll be back to Jack’s Bay!”
~ 5 STARS, Amazon Reviewer

Bestselling Author
Susan Saxx's REAL MEN are waiting...
...for YOU.

Check out the series here!

Hi there! I'm SO glad we've connected!

I write books set in the small towns and big cities of Canada. Right
now I'm writing the Real Men series - first installment set in Jack's
Bay, northern Ontario - a place I 

My heroes and heroines haven't had an easy time of it. But they take
what life dishes out, and somehow, with grit, determination and heart
- especially heart - they transform it into gold. Their gold.

Their stories - like life! - range from sweet to sexy, contemporary to

Want to know when there's a new Susan Saxx book released? Click the yellow
"FOLLOW" button above.

Want more news and special, subscriber ONLY 'insider' stories? Join my
newsletter at

Interaction your thing? Come hang with me at Saxxy Reads, on FB. I promise - the
water's always fine!

And Jack's Bay, northern Ontario, to the upcoming sister
series in B.C., and to the rancher (#1), the tormented dark-netgenius (#5), 

the 'hit rock-bottom' ex-Seal (#4), and the ex-star hockey player (Coming Dec. 2018) - all military reservists, and the passionate, heroic women they fall for.

REAL MEN is the series - get to know them all at

Follow the tour HERE
for special content and a giveaway!

Friday, July 24, 2020


Don't miss the Rafflecopter at the end of the post!

**New Release!**

What Frees the Heart
Cowbird Creek Book 2
Karen A. Wyle
Western Historical Romance 

Q and A with Author Karen A. Wyle

Q. Did you plan from the start to write a historical romance series?

A. No. I barely had the nerve to write historical romance at all! I’ve read historical fiction for many years, and had thought of attempting it, but the necessary research intimidated me. Within the last few years, I started reading both historical and contemporary romance, but felt even less prepared to tackle that. And yet, as November 2018 loomed and I asked myself what book to write during National Novel Writing Month, I somehow headed in the historical romance direction. The result, after some initial changes in character and backstory, and a significant course correction once my beta readers weighed in, was What Heals the Heart, Book 1 in the Cowbird Creek series.

I was greatly relieved at how well the book was received – and in particular, that readers thought I’d managed to convey the time and place in a convincing manner. That emboldened me to return to Cowbird Creek for another book, and to start planning Book 3 for November 2020.

Q. How does a romance series work? Where do you go from Happily Ever After?

A. You move on to another couple from the same setting and give them a HEA of their own! Some romance series go from one to another member of a family, while others, like the Cowbird Creek series, feature different people in the same town.

Q. Who are the main characters in What Frees the Heart? Did they show up in the first book? And will we get to see any other residents of Cowbird Creek this time around?

A. Caution: the answer to this question includes spoilers for Book 1, What Heals the Heart!

Readers of What Heals the Heart have already met Tom and Jenny. Tom is the farm lad whose leg Joshua had to amputate. Jenny is the young prostitute whose arm Joshua bandages, and who reminisces about rolling bandages for soldiers when she was a child.

Joshua and Clara appear frequently in What Frees the Heart, both (especially Joshua) playing a role in the plot. Silas Finch, the cordwainer who married Dolly, is a significant secondary character. We naturally see a good deal more of Madam Mamie, Jenny’s employer. And even though Freida and Jedidiah have left town, they do turn up and play their part in the HEA. (If I’d planned a series from the get-go, I might have found a way to keep them around, as Freida is a favorite of many readers and close to my heart as well.)

Q. What was the most challenging aspect of writing What Frees the Heart?

A. There were a few challenges! I had to deal with prostitution without either glamorizing it, or so thoroughly depressing the reader as to overwhelm the romance plot. I had to show Tom’s life as an amputee as realistically as I could, while also showing the spirit that helped him cope with that disability. But the most daunting challenge had to do with character voice. Joshua Gibbs was a well-read scion of an upper-crust Philadelphia family. Tom and Jenny had to think and speak in a very different way. I’d never tackled anything like their points of view before.

Q. What’s next in the series?

A. I’d like to keep the key details to myself for a bit longer. One of the reasons: I have an author newsletter, and I try to give my subscribers the first look at covers, excerpts, and other details about upcoming books. The signup link for the newsletter, accessible from my author website’s home page (, is (One of these days, I’ll figure out how to customize that unwieldy URL.) I send one newsletter a month, except during release months when I may send two – and I make it easy to unsubscribe.

I will drop this hint: readers already know a fair amount about one of the two main characters. The other character probably doesn’t live in Cowbird Creek full time. And the tentative title is What Shows the Heart.

Q. What’s National Novel Writing Month?

A. Pardon me while I tear up – because National Novel Writing Month (also called NaNoWriMo or NaNo) gave me, or gave me back, my writing career.

It was my childhood ambition to be a novelist. In fact, at age 10, I wrote a 200-page novel for which the kindest words would be “disjointed” and “derivative.” (My mother, praised be she, typed up all 200 penciled pages and bound the result so I could feel “published.”) I tried again at age 14 and gave up after 40 pages. And while I wrote poetry in high school and took a disastrous short story seminar in college, I gave up on writing novels, or any fiction longer than a picture book, for several decades.

Then, my oldest daughter tried NaNoWriMo in 2009,during her senior year in high school, and “won” by completing a 50,000 word rough draft – all while visiting colleges and finishing high school. When she told me she was doing NaNo again the following year, I decided to give it a try, figuring I’d probably drop out in a day or two. And here I am, almost ten years later, about to publish my tenth novel.

But to actually answer the question 😀, NaNoWriMo is a group endeavor, organized online, for anyone who wants to write a novel. Each November, people from all over the world sign up and undertake to write at least 50,000 words of a new novel, entirely within that month. The idea is to bull on through, at an average pace of 1,667 words per day, without stopping to self-edit. The goal is a very rough draft, which the writer can then revise and edit to their heart’s content. One can update one’s word count online, track one’s progress, find “buddies” with whom to compete or commiserate, and visit various forums. In the forums, one can ask research questions (which can get very arcane and bizarre), find writing prompts, and vent about the writing process.

Q. What was that about picture books?

A. I started writing picture book manuscripts when I was pregnant with my older daughter, the one who later led me to NaNoWriMo. I even had an agent for a while, who never did succeed in snagging the interest of any publishers. Now that self-publishing has evolved to the point where it’s feasible to self-publish a picture book, I’d like to find an illustrator whose vision for one or more of these books matches my own, and who’s interested in collaborating. The titles include Mommy Calls Me “Acorn”; Catching Mommy’s Shadow; Where Do Fireflies Sleep; When It’s Winter; and You Can’t Kiss a Bubble.

Can they set each other free?

Cowbird Creek has its share of troubled souls. For Tom, a farmer’s son, losing his 
leg felt like losing his future. Jenny, a young prostitute at Madam Mamie’s
parlor house, has never thought she had much future to lose.

But the job Tom is able to get leads him to rediscover a long neglected
talent. And both Tom and Jenny have a knack for hitting on new
possibilities. Can they, together, find a better path?

This novel, second in a series, returns to the small town of Cowbird
Creek, Nebraska, in early 1876, a few months after the conclusion of
What Heals the Heart. Several favorite characters from Book 1 make
return appearances.

"Truly a romantic tale . . . .  Wonderful characters, many with hearts of gold, small-minded
characters that truly showed their ignorance and dreams that couldn’t be broken . . . from an 
author who lets her words feed our imaginations." – Tome Tender review

"Magnificent story . . . a remarkable historical romance . . . great chemistry
between the characters . . . It is always a joy to read this author's
stories." – Amy's Bookshelf Reviews

What Heals the Heart
Cowbird Creek Book 1

Joshua Gibbs survived the Civil War, building on his wartime experiences to
become a small town doctor. And if he wakes from nightmares more
often than he would like, only his dog Major is there to know it.

Then two newcomers arrive in Cowbird Creek: Clara Brook, a plain-speaking
and yet enigmatic farmer’s daughter, and Freida Blum, an elderly
Jewish widow from New York. Freida knows just what Joshua needs: a
bride. But it shouldn’t be Clara Brook!

Joshua tries everything he can think of to discourage Freida’s efforts,
including a wager: if he can find Freida a husband, she’ll stop
trying to find him a wife. Will either matchmaker succeed? Or is it
Clara, despite her own scars, who can heal the doctor’s troubled heart?

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Karen A. Wyle, Author

Karen A. Wyle was born a Connecticut Yankee, but eventually settled in
Bloomington, Indiana, home of Indiana University. She now considers
herself a Hoosier. Wyle's childhood ambition was to be the youngest
ever published novelist. While writing her first novel at age 10, she
was mortified to learn that some British upstart had beaten her to
the goal at age 9.

Wyle is an appellate attorney, photographer, political junkie, and mother
of two daughters. Her voice is the product of almost five decades of
reading both literary and genre fiction. It is no doubt also
influenced, although she hopes not fatally tainted, by her years of
law practice. Her personal history has led her to focus on
often-intertwined themes of family, communication, the impossibility
of controlling events, and the persistence of unfinished business.

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