Birthday Gifts for the Reader in Us All

This month is my birthday. I’ll be 43, a rather middle of the road, nice-early-forties birthday. No biggie. Which is all the more reason to celebrate by sharing some monumentally cool gift ideas for the reader in your life–you, me, whoever!

Romeo and Juliet Cover Earrings

I’m not a huge fan of Romeo and Juliet. They were too young and it’s not a romance by any stretch of the imagination–Happily Ever After, anyone?

All the same, when I came across these earrings, I couldn’t resist how beautiful they were. And, hey. It’s Shakespeare and a classic. We’ll bend just a little to own these beauties.

Romance Novel Notebook

I’ve had my eye on one of these for years and I think I may just indulge myself this time…

Who doesn’t love 80s romance novel covers? They remind me of the books my grandmother devoured a book a day. I never read this one, but it speaks to the nostalgia in me, plus it’s spiral bound. It’d be perfect for dropping in your purse to jot down notes.

By the way, what is she wearing? A pantsuit? In denim blue? Clearly at work, since there’s a desk and that ginormous leather briefcase in her hand. And, seriously? That hair. Bangs for the win!

Jane Austen Pendant Necklace

Getting serious again, I absolutely love this necklace. The quote rings true for any avid reader and, come on–it’s beautiful. I’d be happy to wear this anywhere. And, honestly, for $14.18, it’s a steal!

 

Literary Cofee Mug

Last but not least, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t include a mug. You may not know, but I collect mugs and hang them all around my kitchen. I also collect mugs just for drinking. It is such a great way to start my day by asking myself, which mug will I start the day out with? Is that weird?

Anyway, I love this quote. It’s a shoutout to book lovers and a demand to be accepted on our own terms. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Did you see anything you just had to have? If so, let me know in the comments, share your finds, or even your own cool book lover swag. I’m all about the book swag.

Have a great July!

About Lori Sizemore

Lover of nail polish, pens, her Kindle, and fresh coffee. She likes romance filled with messy, real characters and lots of snarky banter. Reading was (and still is!) her BFF; when she discovered writing she fell in love. Come for the snark. Stay for the story.

Romance Trends that Make You Go Hmmm…

Hi, all! Jennifer here.

As a romance reader as well as a writer I have noticed certain trends in popular romance books recently.

Not saying these trends are necessarily bad. Just… interesting. Like people are interesting. You just never really know how the human brain ticks and what readers will suddenly be clamoring for. If I did know, I’d sell the secret and probably retire to the Amalfi coast somewhere.

But I digress…

However, I do have to say that some of these trends–not all–do have me scratching my head. But that’s just me. I might be old-fashioned. Curious to know what I’ve seen? Let me put you out of your misery.

Romance Novel Trends Jennifer’s Seen Within the Last Few Months:

  1. Lots of “Daddy” titles.  Really? Yup. Not sure I want to touch this subject but I’m pretty sure these romances are NOT incestuous just dealing with um, “daddies” of some nature. 🙂

I’m sure they are great books–and obviously popular. It just makes this little romance reader go:

via GIPHY

   2. Lots of Billionaire romances.  Well, gee, this trend isn’t so hard to understand. I mean, who doesn’t fantasize about a handsome, rich (crazy rich) guy after you. It’s a dream. However… who knew there were so many in the world?

3. More Women’s Fiction than Straight Up Romance books.  This one I find most interesting. A lot more of your best selling romance authors seem to be making this move to women’s fiction with romance, instead of pure romance. Are readers looking for more than romance? I don’t know. But it’s an interesting one to watch for sure.

4. Lots of Virgins.  Wow. It’s nice so many characters seem to be saving themselves for that special someone. (Usually the Billionaire in #2) I haven’t seen this trend since…the 80’s? I guess if bell-bottom jeans can make a comeback so can virgin 30 year-olds. 🙂

That’s my observations anyway.

What about you? Any trends you’ve seen in romance novels? What do you think of the trends I mentioned?

Until next time, HAPPY READING!

Jennifer

xoxo

About Jennifer Shirk

Jennifer Shirk is a USA Today bestselling sweet romance author for Montlake and Entangled Publishing who also happens to be a mom, pharmacist, Red Sox fan, P90x grad, and overall nice person. 🙂

Louisville: Cupid’s Cafe Setting

My story, Exactly Like You, and Landra Graf’s story, Painting for Keeps, are part of the Cupid’s Cafe Series. These stories take place in Lousiville, Kentucky. We were lucky enough to be able to visit there in February of this year. We traveled from the house we were staying in down to Bardstown Road (which is a really great part of town), where the fictional Cupid’s Cafe is located.

It was a cool, rainy day, but we decided to drive there and take pictures for inspiration. We wanted to orient ourselves to that part of town and the places nearby. Below, you can see some of the pictures I took from the car.

I loved the murals and that one building. I’m not even sure what it is. A church, maybe? If anyone knows, please say so in the comments. But that building just called out to me. All of it did. What a great place to live.

In my story, Aidan is a firefighter and I was able to locate the nearby fire station. I could just see Aidan and his best friend, Kurt sitting outside talking (granted, on a much prettier day since my story takes place in the summer). I put that scene in my story, thankful for the tangible that inspired me.

There’s also a store pictured here, Eyedia. That name caught my eye and, I’m just going to say it: I can recognize a thrift store a mile away. I snapped the picture and looked it up online later. Turns out it’s a high-end furniture consignment store. So, I was right–thrift store–but way cooler. Check out their website to see some of the gorgeous furniture they have. I even referenced the store in my story. It’s just for a moment, as Roxie drives by it, just like I did, and remembers shopping there before the events that turned her from an effective social worker into a depressed and (in her own eyes) boring cat-rescuer.

I hope you’ll check out our stories, available now anywhere you might buy books online. Stay cool!

Buy Exactly Like You now: Amazon | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Google Play | Scribd

Buy Painting for Keeps now : Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Google Play

P.S. We’re giving away two beautiful necklaces and two $10 Amazon gift card. Enter right here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About Lori Sizemore

Lover of nail polish, pens, her Kindle, and fresh coffee. She likes romance filled with messy, real characters and lots of snarky banter. Reading was (and still is!) her BFF; when she discovered writing she fell in love. Come for the snark. Stay for the story.

Cupid’s Cafe: The Journey Continues

Greetings friends!

Today is the launch of my new release, Painting For Keeps, a contemporary romance and matchmaking story. If you haven’t noticed Cupid and matchmaking are in the air for the month of June, as Lori and I have both have releases that are part of Afterglows Publishing Kismet Line. Want to read more about Lori’s own contemporary romance you can check out her post here.

My book is a second-chance, matchmaking romance about a recovering bulimic nutritionist who’s getting over being dumped by her cheating boyfriend and the bi-polar, brooding painter who seeks to help the only muse for his art. This is the second book in the Cupid’s Cafe series. The first book, Lori’s Exactly Like You, is available now.

A refresher, Cupid’s Cafe is a fictional, magical place set in Louisville, KY off Bardstown Rd. You can catch a more detailed post on the live research Lori, myself, and Cate, the series creator, did in preparation for this series. Each couple is granted a ‘second-chance’ at romance via Cupid, through a handwritten invitation to the cafe. The couples have always met in the past somehow and both hero and heroine have reached their limit or they don’t believe themselves capable of love due to what issues they suffer from.

Painting For Keeps

An invitation to Cupid’s Café will change your life. 

 

Agatha, Aggie, Kakos lost her boyfriend, her apartment, and now, is one brownie bite away from purging her binge when an invitation to Cupid’s Café shows up on her doorstep. Fighting bulimia and her mother’s constant verbal abuse has never been easy, but this nutritionist is determined to be stronger than her weakest link. She’ll meet a secret admirer at Cupid’s for a morale booster if nothing else.  

 

Following a break-in and the destruction of his paintings, starving artist Murphy O’Shea finds himself at wit’s end. Not only does he need to create twelve more paintings, but in the midst of another manic depressive episode, the challenge seems impossible. He’s got two months or he’ll have to cancel his first show. The Cupid’s Café invite offers him a chance to find his muse. He doesn’t expect it to be the woman he’s mirrored the past two year’s paintings on, nor does he plan on being able to offer Aggie the help she needs.  

 

Can they find a way to conquer their inner demons or will they succumb to the idea they aren’t worth a happily ever after?

 

Buy now : Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Google Play

 

This is the second book in the Cupid’s Cafe series, a Kismet book, from After Glows Publishing. Would you be interested in writing for this series? Email me at landra (dot) graf (7) (at) gmail (dot) com.

About Landra Graf

Landra Graf consumes at least one book a day and has always been a sucker for stories where true love conquers all. She believes in the power of the written word, and the joy such words can bring. In between spending time with her family and having book adventures, she writes romance with the goal of giving everyone, fictional or not, their own happily ever after.

Real Life and Priorities

Are you a writer? A new writer? An aspiring bestselling author? Or a reader, curious about the writer’s life?

Have you ever said to yourself, Ugh, I hate when real life gets in the way or I had to deal with real life today…?

See, I used to say that stuff, too. There was always this idea that the writing wasn’t real. It was something that came second to everything else, no matter what that was. The writing was the first to go when life went through an upheaval.

But sometime in the last year or two… [and I think it started during my contracted writing hiatus!], I stopped thinking about everything else as real life.

Writing is Real Life. And you know what? Sometimes I let stuff get in the way of Real Life…

After reading a few articles in the past week, including this one, HERE, part of me was like. Yeah. That’s right. Writing is the important part! If we’re not writing, there’s nothing to sell. Which led me to think about how much I write and when I write and how I’ve made it a priority. This article, HERE, was a good reminder of how social can often take over my life. Even when social media feels like Real Life, it’s not. Not the promotions, not the family photos, not the political debates,…that ain’t real, people! Get off it and write.

Tuesday was supposed to be my big start into editing Book 4. But I spent the day helping the husband get ready to take a trip [not really helping, but just doing all that weird busy stuff that doesn’t seem to matter when the day is said and done!]. Wednesday, I had a board meeting for an organization I belong to. Tomorrow, I made plans to have a get together with friends. You know what? [I love all of those things. But I haven’t written anything this week!]

It’s time to get back to Real Life. The job. The goal. The dream. It’s okay to do those things…as long as I’m also taking care of my career. And that is true for the writers…and doctors, and cosmetologists, and …everyone.

What about you? What keeps you from getting the work done? From writing that next chapter? From submitting to the next agent or editor?

Post a comment for a chance to win a copy of Cindy Skagg’s new release [out today!!], Survive by the Team! Book Three of the Team Fear Series. <3

Happy Writing!

Beth

Mandi Gault never met a man brave enough to openly date a mortician, so when a good-looking man with twelve-pack abs invites her to coffee, she’s not asking any questions. Too bad he’s trying to kill her.

Danny Gault died in a conspiracy threatening Team Fear—his defunct military team—so when Gault’s sister winds up in the hospital, former teammate Stills is forced to leave the safety of the team’s compound. He recognizes her attacker as a member of a rogue military unit with orders to eliminate Team Fear. Now they’re on the run while they unravel why Team Echo wants her dead.

As the danger escalates, they share a wild night of down and dirty fun that would put a blush on a corpse, but Stills made it clear it was one and done. Now he must decide if he’s brave enough to forget about vengeance… and live.

Military trained, medically enhanced, designed to kill. The surviving members of Team Fear are out of the military and in a world of secrets, lies, and cover-ups in this fast-paced romantic suspense series by Cindy Skaggs.

 

About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

What, Romance? via TL Reeve

Good morning everyone! Thank you for having me here today at the Through Heart Shaped Glasses blog!

I have a confession to make. I’m not a romance writer.

Shocking… I’ll give you a second. Go ahead. Catch your breath.

*Grabs a cup of coffee*

Good to go now? Awesome.

Back to what I was saying. I’m not a romance writer. See, I create stories to fit around the romance. If it happens? Great. If not? Great. My characters have lives. They’re like you and me. They don’t go out of their way to seek out a mate or a partner or what have you. It kind of just happens.

For Jupiter Baldwin, she has a career, she has her pack and she is quite comfortable with herself and her situation. However, in her little world, though she sees her pack, she doesn’t consider the realities of what they need.

That’s where her father steps in.

Though he might be a bit of a hard ass, he knows things need to be fixed and he’s willing to do whatever it takes… at Jupiter’s expense.

This is where it gets complicated, and where I usually torture people. Because of a pact her father made, Jupiter has to choose between five men. Yes, five, and mate one of them to take over the pack.

But, what if she can’t choose?

What if she doesn’t want to try?

Well…I guess you’ll have to stay tune and find out. *wg*

To find out what happens to Jupiter and her men, check out Jupiter’s Shadow available now at: Books2Read

Jupiter’s Shadow by TL Reeve

Jupiter “Pip” Baldwin, isn’t ready to settle down and produce heirs for the Sequatchie Pack. As the Alpha’s daughter and only child, she is destined to continue his bloodline, while allowing her mate to lead the pack—an archaic rule of the collective Smoky Mountain Wolves packs.

On her thirty-second birthday, five men will be presented to her for choosing. It’s not about love in her pack. It’s about power. When each man reveals who they are, and what they’re capable, Jupiter finds herself in over her head.

Will she be able to narrow down her choices, to the perfect “match,” or will Jupiter find she can’t let any of them go?

Change is coming to the Sequatchie pack, and Jupiter must blaze the trail…

Excerpt:

“As we speak, three members of our pack have begun the journey to the Chickamauge, Nickajack, and Conasauge pack lands. When the chosen female has picked her mate, those not chosen will return to their homes.”

What in the hell had my father signed up for? “What?”

Echo glanced down at me and gave a quick shake of his head. “Allow me to introduce Jupiter’s suiters.” He motioned to each person as he said a name. “Meet Bowie, Benning, Mace, and Scout. You already know Dax.”

I looked to my best friend. I couldn’t believe he would go through with this and not tell me. Anger followed by a heady dose of humiliation surged through my veins. “Why?”

He wouldn’t say anything. He left me floundering as my dad continued his speech and explained the rules. “If you see them with Jupiter, please allow them to get to know each other. Do not interfere.”

Because I am a prude like that. I couldn’t believe my father. Why? Why would he do this? I got it—thirty-two, no mate and no pups to carry our line. But this…he was way out of line putting me on the spot, treating me like a piece of meat to be passed around.

He held his hand out to me and I hesitated for a moment before taking it. I should have let him flounder. It would have served him right. I was his daughter, not a commodity. “Now, Jupiter will continue her night alone with her suitors to get to know them. There will be refreshments and drinks for another few hours for you to enjoy on this special occasion.”

No one moved. I think they were all just as shocked as I was. I cleared my throat and gave each man a once over. How the hell would I pick one guy over the next? In truth, my wolf enjoyed this—a little too much.

“Take us to your home,” Bowie said, breaking the silence between us.

I quirked a brow. “Excuse me?” They should be lucky I hadn’t torn any of them apart.

“I think this conversation should happen where no one can listen in,” he added. “Don’t you?”

He had a point. “Fine. I walked. It’s not far from here.”

They formed a semi-circle around me and followed as I made my way back through town. “Are you being forced to do this?” Okay, so I couldn’t wait for us to get back to the house to start asking questions.

“No,” Mace grunted. His disposition didn’t throw off the cute and cuddly vibes, in fact, he reminded me of a pissed off shark.

Did it make me the chum?

About Landra Graf

Landra Graf consumes at least one book a day and has always been a sucker for stories where true love conquers all. She believes in the power of the written word, and the joy such words can bring. In between spending time with her family and having book adventures, she writes romance with the goal of giving everyone, fictional or not, their own happily ever after.

  • Our LATEST Buzz!

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