Dreamspun Desires, M.J. O'Shea, Poppy Dennison, Shira Anthony

Interviews, Excerpts, and Giveaway: Poppy Dennison, MJ O’Shea, Shira Anthony, and Dreamspun Desires

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I’m so pleased to welcome Poppy Dennison, MJ O’Shea, and Shira Anthony today to chat about Dreamspun Desires, the newest line of genre romance from Dreamspinner Press. These three ladies were kind enough to sit down and answer a few questions about the line and, for MJ and Shira, their books.

After the interviews, there’s also a giveaway with a couple of chances to win some great prizes:

Grand Prize: A 6 month e-book subscription to Dreamspun Desires
Runner Up: MJ O’Shea’s entire ebook backlist

Just click on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter.

Good luck!

And now, here are Poppy, MJ, and Shira.

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PoppyDennisonLisa: We’re so pleased to welcome Poppy Dennison to The Novel Approach today, not as an author but to chat with us about Dreamspinner Press’s new line, Dreamspun Desires.

Poppy, why don’t we start off by having you share with us what exactly it is you’re in charge of at Dreamspinner Press?

Poppy: Thanks so much, Lisa! I’m so excited to be here. I’m Dreamspinner Press’s Marketing Director. Basically, it’s my job to do lots of math. No really. There are spreadsheets of my spreadsheets! But it’s basically my job to create new ideas for Dreamspinner’s authors and turn them into reality.

Lisa: Let’s chat a little bit about this new line of genre romances coming in 2016 from Dreamspinner. First of all, how did the idea come about?

Poppy: It all started at lunch, as these things often do. In May of 2015, I attended the Romantic Times Convention and had an opportunity to have lunch with several Dreamspinner authors. We started reminiscing on the first romances we’d ever read and discovered a trend: we’d all started by reading category romances! I realized how much I missed that type of story so I basically sweet-talked the authors at the table into writing a category style romance for me. By the end of the day, word had spread and I had eighteen authors signed up to write one for me. Talk about a good day. *g*

Lisa: Would you like to tell readers what they can expect from the new line, what makes these romances different from the usual Dreamspinner publications?

Poppy: Readers can expect stories that take them back to the Harlequins they devoured in days gone by. These stories are sweet and angst free and happy endings are guaranteed! We want these books to leave a smile on your face! The difference between these titles and the regular romances Dreamspinner publishes is in their focus on the romance. These stories are a little shorter than our typical novel, and as a result, they don’t have room for any of the normal soul searching and man pain we normally see in romances. They’re sweet and focus entirely on the developing relationship.

Lisa: What advantages are there to purchasing a monthly subscription to the Dreamspun Desires line versus purchasing each book individually?

Poppy:  First, I have to say that the fact that we were able to offer these titles as part of a subscription makes me so darn happy! I remember getting those boxes of books when I was younger. Well, okay, my mom technically got them, but when she was done, I’d get to read them too! There was something about that box arriving that got me so excited! I hope our readers feel the same way about receiving their Dreamspun Desires subscription.

There are two subscription services available. I’ll start with the paperback service, as it’s the one most like the way category romances used to arrive. Each month, we’re releasing two Dreamspun Desires novels. Readers who purchase the paperback subscription will receive both paperbacks in one delivery! Basically, they’ll receive one of the titles two weeks before it’s available in ebook format! That’s not all though. Because Dreamspinner always provides our customers with a free ebook whenever they purchase a paperback, Dreamspun Desires paperback subscribers will also receive ebook copies of the titles on their release date. Talk about a great deal!

The second subscription service is ebook only. Subscribers will pay one discounted price and receive both ebooks on their release dates! Super simple!

Lisa: Will you give us a quick rundown of your contributing authors so far—at least those you’re allowed to announce publicly, and when we can expect their publications to hit the shelves?

Poppy:  Absolutely! Here is the lineup of authors through April of 2016:

January 1: The Millionaire Upstairs by M.J. O’Shea

January 15: First Comes Marriage by Shira Anthony

February 1: The Stolen Suitor by Eli Easton

February 15: The Lone Rancher by Andrew Grey

March 1: Taylor Maid by Tara Lain

March 15: Trial by Fire by B.A. Tortuga

April 1:  Forgive and Forget by Charlie Cochet

April 15: Unstable Stud by Ariel Tachna

We also have upcoming releases from Nikki Bennett, Jacob Z. Flores, Ava Drake, Kate McMurray, and many, many more!

Lisa: What sort of feedback have you received from both authors and readers about the launch of the new line?

Poppy:  Honestly, this experience has been a dream come true for me. When I first approached Dreamspinner’s Executive Director Elizabeth North with the idea, I was worried she’d think I’d lost my noodle. But along with Elizabeth, everyone has been so enthusiastic about the idea! From our authors, who jumped on board to write books to our readers who have reminisced with us about how they started by reading category… everyone has been so excited! I’m giddy and can’t wait for everyone to be able to hold these books in their hands!

Lisa: What’s been the most exciting part of this process for you so far?

Poppy: Oh gosh. I’ve been so excited at every step of the process… but I think the most exciting so far has been the day the subscription service launched on our website and we were able to share all the details with our readers. Everyone was so enthusiastic and I just couldn’t stop smiling! I’m still grinning, actually.

Lisa: Let’s chat a bit about the cover art for the line. I know you and I both remember sneaking a peek at our mothers’ Harlequin Romances back in the day. How important has the cover art been in the process of maintaining a distinct look and feel for the Dreamspun Desires line? Who’s been in charge of creating most of the covers thus far?

Poppy: The cover art design was such a fun and challenging process! I knew I wanted the covers for the Dreamspun Desires books to have the same look and feel as other category romance lines, but they needed to have the Dreamspinner twist! We enlisted Paul Richmond to design the covers and he’s done a fantastic job of capturing the essence of category romance.

Lisa: One of the other things we’ve chatted about is how the Gay Romance genre’s time has really come—time for it to become a part of the mainstream lexicon of romantic fiction. How do you foresee, or at least hope, the Dreamspun Desires line might further pave the way toward that goal?

Poppy: I think, in a way, category romances are a really safe place to start for romance readers who haven’t tried gay romance before. The vast majority of romance readers have read category romances from other publishers so they know what to expect. These titles capture those classic elements but add a modern take with a gay romance twist. No matter the genre, category romances are familiar and comforting. I want for readers who have never given gay romance a try to feel inspired to give these titles a try. After all, Love Always Finds A Way! :)

Lisa: On a final note, if you were to come up with a few selling points to convince us readers that the Dreamspun Desires line are the new Must Read books of 2016, what would those be?

Poppy: I think the biggest selling point to Dreamspun Desires is that these are true romances by authors who know how to tell a great story! If you’re a fan of category romance, these titles will be perfect for you. And if you’re new to the gay romance genre, you won’t be disappointed!

Lisa: Thanks so much for taking the time to be here with us today, Poppy!

Readers, for more information on the Dreamspun Desires line, including how to order your subscription, check out the Dreamspinner Press Page today (**Deadline for January subscription is December 15, 2015**)!

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MJ O'SheaLisa: Hi, MJ, and welcome. We’re so pleased to have you here for a visit today to chat about your new book in the Dreamspun Desires line, The Millionaire Upstairs.

MJ: HI!!

Let’s start with what feels like a good first question: why did you want to be involved in this new line of genre romance? Was there a nostalgia factor there for you at all?

MJ: Honestly, they just looked like they’d be so much fun to write. I loved the idea of writing characters in a world I’d never come close to living in (my book takes place in the Hamptons among the mega-wealthy and at a New York fashion label) and focusing on the pure romance element of it – the setting, the characters, and everything else. I think everyone needs a bit of escape.

Lisa: Tell us a bit about how writing this book differed from writing your other books. Did you approach it with a different mindset than you would, say, a book that required more conflict and angst in the storyline before your couple gets their happy ending?

MJ: Yes and no! haha. There were a few things I did differently. Since these books are, by nature, shorter than the typical novel, I got to focus almost completely on the relationship between the two main characters, rather than spending a lot of time on an extended cast. That’s not to say there isn’t a cast to back them up, I couldn’t resist, but they won’t have as big of a role as they usually would in one of my books.

I also got to play a bit with the r. I’ve written rock stars and vampires before, but most of my characters have been regular guys. Somehow plunking my MC in this castle in the Hamptons with a multi-millionaire, and then on Lake Como, and at celeb filled events, it was just that one extra bit of fantasy.

Lisa: What has been the most enjoyable part of participating in the Dreamspun Desire launch for you? Do you plan on contributing more books to the line?

MJ: The whole thing so far, honestly! It’s been really cool to be a part of something both old but new to our genre, talking about it with bloggers, readers, and other authors. I love seeing how excited (and yes, nostalgic) people get when they find out about the subscription service. It’s a huge honor to be the first one out of the gate, and while I’m a little nervous (okay, a lot lol) I still can’t wait to see what people think of the first few books!

And yes, I definitely will (and have!) – I’ve already written another called Duke in Hiding which I believe will be out in the late spring/early summer with Dreamspun Desires.

Lisa: What sort of feedback are you getting from your readers in particular about the collection? Have you noticed a lot of buzz and excitement in the community about it?

MJ: People have in general seemed really excited about it!  I’ve seen a lot of people reminiscing about reading their mom and grandmother’s category romances when they were kids (I remember my grandmother keeping hers in a cloth cover that had her initials stitched on it :) ) so it’s kind of like marrying the old with the new and from what I’ve seen the readers like that.

Lisa: Let’s talk a bit more specifically about The Millionaire Upstairs. Tell us a little something about your characters and what you feel their chemistry is.

MJ: I really wanted to play with a few elements, the forbidden aspect of getting involved with the boss, the fantasy of a “normal” guy getting swept up in the world of the rich and famous, and of course one of my favorite things which is a sassy, mouthy character and the “straight” man so to speak.

Sasha is sarcastic and quippy, both in awe of the people he works with and around every day, and still not ready to take any attitude from them. Harrison is cold at first and a bit standoffish, but somehow can’t manage not to let Sasha behind his huge walls.

Lisa: Would you care to share a short excerpt with us?

MJ: Sure! I’ll put part of the first scene in here, which takes place two years before the rest of the book. Sasha is about to interview for the job he’s always wanted – working for Joanne Kingsley co-owner and Harrison Kingsley’s older sister :

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Excerpt: You’re definitely not in Kansas anymore, Sasha Sobieski.

He most assuredly wasn’t. Sasha had been in New York for a couple of years, and some days he still wasn’t used to it, but nothing hammered in the fact that he was far, far away from home like standing in the place he’d been dreaming of since he was twenty-two. The place he’d decided was his destiny.

Harrison Kingsley—only ten years old and already a force to be reckoned with in global fashion. The label was fashion forward, timeless, and unique. Gorgeous. Notoriously exclusive. Even more notorious for being hard to land a position at. There had been whispers back at school about how impossible it was to impress the hiring personnel at Harrison Kingsley, how you might as well just pack it in if that was your goal. He’d decided years ago not to listen.

Sasha hadn’t wanted anything so badly in his entire life.

Harrison Kingsley Headquarters was jaw-drop gorgeous. The 34th Street offices were everything an exclusive fashion label’s offices should be—chic, classic not trendy, and intimidating but somehow welcoming at the same time. It was light and airy but somehow colorful. Like he’d entered the mind of a fashion genius, which in a way he had.

Sasha knew he’d found his home.

He sank down onto a pale apple-green upholstered chair in the waiting area in front of a large copper reception desk. He wasn’t nervous about the interview, although by all rights he should’ve been. If Sasha thought about it for more than a few moments, about who he was there to see, then he’d probably start palpitating.

Joanne Kingsley was a big deal in the fashion industry. Big. The biggest of big. Working for her was exactly the opportunity he needed. If he got the job—no, when he got it. No negative thoughts. Working for Joanne Kingsley somehow seemed inevitable. Sasha Sobieski of Hawk’s Prairie, Kansas, and brand-new Parsons graduate, belonged with her. He felt it in his bones.

Inner pep talk aside, Sasha’s nerves kicked in when he was called into Joanne Kingsley’s office. His stomach bubbled a bit as he followed the receptionist down a hallway lined with photographs of runway shows all over the world. He clutched his ancient leather satchel and prayed to the fashion gods that he was exactly what the lovely and powerful Ms. Kingsley was looking for.

I got past all of the preliminary interviews, Sasha reminded himself. Not just anyone got to interview with Joanne Kingsley herself. He was one of probably five at most. Just that was an honor. Sasha crossed his fingers and sent the best vibes he knew how to send out into the atmosphere. I’m the right fit for the job. Joanne Kingsley will adore me. Sasha had always been a believer in good vibes. He hoped they did him proud this time.

He didn’t know exactly what to expect from the esteemed Ms. Kingsley. Sasha had seen the society pages just like everyone else, the shots of her in the front row at other designers’ shows all over the world—McQueen, Saint Laurent, Lhuillier, Elie Saab. She always looked fabulous and powerful, fashionable and just a bit unapproachable. They reached her office door. Sasha took a deep breath and made one more fervent wish before the door swished open silently.

Joanne Kingsley was perched on the corner of a large white antique desk. Her office was, for lack of another word, perfect—champagne-colored woodwork, dark teak floors, luxurious rugs, expensive antique furniture, prints of their own designers’ drawings displayed in thick gold-leafed frames on the walls. She stood and walked across the room to greet him by the door. Which was already not at all what Sasha had expected from someone like her. He nearly swallowed his tongue.

Is this actually happening?

Joanne was a good four inches taller than his own five feet six inches, her body all sexy curves and long limbs. Her face was beyond gorgeous, with high cheekbones, pale skin, and long-lashed gray eyes that tilted up on the outside. Her signature mane of fiery red hair was down for once, instead of in a chic but intimidating updo. Held from her forehead with only a gold headband, it cascaded in coppery waves across her shoulders and back. She wore one of their label’s dresses, current season, of course. It was sleeveless and rich, vibrant emerald green, nipped under her full breasts, and it flowed to the ground in casual silky rivulets. The green made her pale skin glow, and the red of her hair shimmered jewellike against it.

Joanne Kingsley looked like she belonged lounging on top of Mt. Olympus with a goblet of wine instead of among mere mortals on earth. Sasha couldn’t believe he was in the same room with her.

“Welcome. Sasha, correct?” And then she smiled, friendly and disarming.

How am I supposed to react to that?

“Yes. Sasha.” He reached out and shook her hand. He was rather shocked that his vocal chords even worked.

“You came very highly recommended from one of my favorite old professors. I’m excited to get to know you.”

Joanne walked around to her desk seat and sank gracefully into it. “Sit, please.” She gestured at the plush seat across from her. It was the same exact model as her own. None of those games of making the guest feel smaller with a shorter, less throne-like seat. Sasha liked her already.

“Thank you for having me here today. I just wanted to say I’ve been following Harrison Kingsley for years. It’s an honor to even meet you.”

Joanne Kingsley giggled. Giggled. “You know, it’s still surprising to hear people say things like that, Sasha. Thank you.”

Sasha grinned in return.

The interview went smoothly after that. Perfectly, even. “Call me Jo, please” was charming and talkative, wanted to know everything about Sasha, and was exactly the person Sasha wanted to be in ten years. Harrison Kingsley’s name might be on the clothing’s labels, he might be the one in his Hamptons castle with drawing boards, swathes of fabric, and a bunch of designer minions, but it was Joanne Kingsley who made the real decisions. Sasha wanted to do anything he could to help her with that process.

Creative director of a major fashion label. Just thinking the title made chills run up and down Sasha’s spine. It was what he wanted more than anything… someday. A boy could dream. For the time being, he’d be honored if he could merely assist one.

Joanne skimmed over his resume one more time and then let it fall shut. “One quick question. Just curious. This says you recently finished Parsons, but you’re twenty-eight. Career change?”

Sasha shook his head. “I’ve wanted to do this since I was a little kid. It took me a lot of hours waiting tables back home in Kansas to save enough to move to New York and enroll in school. It’s not a cheap city. I’m sure you know that.” Not that it had ever been a problem for the Kingsleys. According to their bio, they grew up in Harrison Kingsley’s insane castle of a house in the Hamptons, and Joanne had bought her nearly as palatial apartment on Park Avenue not long after their label took off.

“It’s not.” Joanne took a deep breath. “Listen. I probably shouldn’t do this, but I’m going to anyway. When can you start?”

“Start?” Sasha was confused for a second. And then he got it. He choked on his own breath. “Start. Hol—I mean, I can start whenever you want me to. I don’t have any prior commitments.”

Ohgodohgodohgod. She just hired me. Joanne Kingsley had just hired him. Sasha thought he might faint.

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MJ: And that’s the beginning of Sasha’s new life working for Joanne Kingsley…and eventually her brother;)

Lisa: What can we expect coming up from you next? Would you like to share some info on your current WIPs and upcoming releases?

MJ: After this book, I have one called Pawsitively in Love which features a pet salon owner and a host of furry friends (and takes place in my neighborhood, which I’ve never done before!) And then after that, my second Dreamspun book Duke in Hiding will be out…I think you can guess what that one will be about by the title.

Right now I’m working on a buddy road trip story. I can’t seem to stay away from the best friends to lovers theme…I just love it so much <3.  This one doesn’t have a definite schedule yet, but I’d assume summer/early autumn.

Lisa: Thanks so much for being here with us today, MJ. It’s been great to chat with you.

MJ: Thanks for having me stop by! I hope you enjoy the books J

Xoxo

MJ

Lisa: Find MJ O’Shea on Facebook, her Website, and sign up for her Monthly Newsletter

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MillionaireUpstairs[The]BlurbHe might be hard to work for, but he’s impossible to resist.

Sasha Sobieski has the perfect job working at legendary American fashion house Harrison Kingsley—or at least he used to. He just never thought he’d have to work for Harrison Kingsley himself. Harrison is exacting, difficult, cold, and hands-down the sexiest man Sasha has ever seen.

After years at the top, Harrison Kingsley knows what he wants, when he wants it, and exactly how he’d like it to be delivered to him. What he wants most right now? His new assistant. Sasha is mouthy, opinionated, and he drives Harrison mad. Problem is, Harrison can never tell if it’s with anger… or desire.

Buy Link: Dreamspinner Press

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Shira AnthonyLisa: Hi, Shira, and welcome. We’re so pleased to have you here for a visit today to chat about your new book in the Dreamspun Desires line, First Comes Marriage.

Let’s start with what feels like a good first question: why did you want to be involved in this new line of genre romance? Was there a nostalgia factor there for you at all?

Shira:  OMG, yes! I used to gobble up Harlequins and Silhouette romances when I was in college. And although I hated the pat endings (even worse when the heroine gave up her career to “get married”), I love the warm and fuzzy way they made me feel. So when Poppy and I were chatting at RT (Romantic Times conference) in Dallas this past spring and I mentioned that there were times I wished I could write a sweet romance instead of an angsty one, she asked me why I didn’t write one. And then she proceeded to tell me about an idea she had for a new line of category romances. I guess you could say that was the birth of Dreamspun Desires.

Lisa: Tell us a bit about how writing this book differed from writing your other books. Did you approach it with a different mindset than you would, say, a book that required more conflict and angst in the storyline before your couple gets their happy ending?

Shira:  It did take a bit of a re-set for me. I tend to write angsty romances or complex romantic fantasy stories, so the idea of a simple, sweet story was a little frightening! Before I started writing, I read an old Harlequin to remind myself of the feel of those tropey romances. There’s a real rhythm to those classic romance novels, a completely different pace than for the books I was used to writing. I tried to distill the essence of the category romance and then when I was imagining the story I wanted to write, I kept that framework in mind.

So for example, the story starts off with the two MCs “meeting cute” in the first chapter. From there, the story and the sexual tension builds and builds until finally neither MC can resist the other. Of course there are challenges in the relationship and misunderstandings. There is also character growth from both characters. But there’s no knock-down, drag-out angst of the kind readers might find in some of my other books.

Lisa: What has been the most enjoyable part of participating in the Dreamspun Desire launch for you? Do you plan on contributing more books to the line?

Shira: It’s been exciting seeing it all come together, from the early conversations to seeing the art concept for the covers (I think I squeaked when I saw it!). Then seeing how it all came together, with the subscriptions, the taglines on the books, the cute blurbs that end with a question—all of these things were so much fun!

Yes, I’m planning on submitting at least another book to the line. I’m working on a very sweet, second chance at love story that will probably be released as a Dreamspun Desires title. Writing First Comes Marriage was just so fun, I had to write another.

Lisa: What sort of feedback are you getting from your readers in particular about the collection? Have you noticed a lot of buzz and excitement in the community about it?

Shira: The feedback has been AMAZING. Truly. So many of our readers came to gay romance from heterosexual category romance that I think they’re as excited as we, the authors, are. I think many feel, as I do, that category romance has a special place in the general romance genre and that gay romance can embrace those sweet, romance-forward stories in a way that’s authentic and Twenty-First Century.

It’s funny, but for me, these books represent the kind of romance I wanted to read way back when, but couldn’t find. I really believe that while romance readers are looking for fantasy components in romance, they still want stories still grounded in some semblance of reality. But they don’t always want that reality to hit them over the head either. Sometimes we just need the warmth and hope that we take from a classic romance story.

Lisa: Let’s talk a bit more specifically about First Comes Marriage. Tell us a little something about your characters and what you feel their chemistry is.

Shira:  Jesse Donovan is a billionaire businessman who has to get married or he’ll lose control of his family’s company under the terms of his grandfather’s will. Chris Valentine is a struggling novelist who works as a barista in New York City. Theirs is a marriage of convenience, and it’s supposed to be just business. Both men genuinely enjoy each other’s company, but Jesse is New York’s most eligible “straight” bachelor and Chris is perfectly happy being single after his parent’s disastrous marriage.

For me, the friendship was first and foremost in my mind as the two men get to know each other. I wanted their sexual chemistry to grow out of that friendship and take them by surprise. Each has his own motivations for getting married, and neither expects the marriage will be anything but business. There’s lots of push and pull for the first half of the book, as each fights his attraction to the other. And when they finally do give in to their desires, it’s a revelation for both.

Lisa: Would you care to share a short excerpt with us?

Shira: Sure! This is an excerpt from Chapter Six:

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Excerpt: Now, standing in the conference room of Windview Enterprises’ corporate headquarters near South Ferry in Manhattan, one of the matching platinum bands Jesse had bought for them in his pants pocket, Chris wondered if he’d wake up from the dream. The floor-to-ceiling windows looked out over Wall Street and the East River through the forest of high-rise buildings.

“Do you, Jesse Chase Donovan, take Christopher James Valentine to be your husband, in love and in friendship, until you are parted by death?” the judge asked.

“I do.” As Jesse slipped the ring on Chris’s finger, he met Chris’s gaze with such intensity that for an instant, Chris could almost forget the entire ceremony was a ruse to ensure the future of Windview remained firmly in Jesse’s control. Damn the man for being so attractive. Damn him for being a nice guy, because that was the worst part of it. And the part that had you agreeing.

“And do you, Christopher James Valentine, take Jesse Chase Donovan to be your husband, in love and in friendship, until you are parted by death?”

Chris swallowed hard and prayed he didn’t look as incredibly nervous as he felt. “I do.” His hand shook as he took Jesse’s hand and put the ring on his finger.

“Congratulations, Chris and Jesse,” the judge said.

Chris caught Val’s eye for a split second, and he half expected her to urge him to kiss Jesse. But it was Jesse who took charge and blindsided Chris with a kiss.

It started sweetly enough, just Jesse’s lips against his, but instead of releasing Chris, Jesse pulled him tighter against him and pressed his tongue into his mouth. Jesse tasted fucking amazing. Chris didn’t hesitate—their tongues tangled and danced. This close, Jesse smelled good and felt even better. Chris was barely aware of slipping his hands around Jesse’s back before resting them on lean hips. He didn’t think twice as his body and Jesse’s responded in kind.

Someone giggled—Chris recognized Val’s voice—and Jesse pulled abruptly away. Their eyes met for a split second, and Chris thought he saw a mixture of desire and surprise in Jesse’s deep blue eyes. The next thing Chris knew, Val had thrown her arms around him and only his racing heart and tingling lips told him he hadn’t imagined the entire thing.

“Oh, Chris,” Val cooed. “You really did it!”

“Yeah” was the only response Chris could manage. He was still thinking about Jesse’s mouth.

“I guess I was wrong about him being straight,” she whispered mischievously.

Chris was thrilled when Terry grabbed him in a bear hug, because he had no idea how to respond to Val’s comment. He also wasn’t sure if he should be pissed off with Jesse for the show. He supposed if this was going to work, Jesse needed to make the marriage look real. Still, how difficult would it have been to warn Chris that he had that up his sleeve?

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Lisa: What can we expect coming up from you next? Would you like to share some info on your current WIPs and upcoming releases?

Shira:  I’m working on another tropey romance, this one about second chances at love. The working title is A Class Act, and it’s the story of a history professor and a Hollywood action star whose ten year marriage is about to end in divorce. I’m also working on the final installment in the Blood Trilogy, my time-traveling French vampires, entitled Blood and Eternity. I’ve also got a possible spinoff story or series based on secondary characters from my Mermen of Ea Trilogy that’s in the works.

Lisa: Thanks so much for being here with us today, Shira. It’s been great to chat with you.

Shira: Thanks so much for having me! It was a pleasure.

Lisa: Connect with Shira on Facebook, her Facebook Author Page, Twitter, and her Website

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DreamspunDesires_FirstComesMarriageFS4Blurb: When struggling novelist Chris Valentine meets Jesse Donovan, he’s interested in a book contract, or possibly a date. The last thing Chris expects is a marriage proposal from New York City’s most eligible bachelor!

Jesse’s in a pinch. To keep control of his company, he has to marry. So he has valid reasons for offering Chris this business deal: in exchange for living in a gorgeous mansion for a year, playing the doting husband, Chris gets all the writing time he wants and walks away with a million-dollar payoff. Surely Chris can handle that. He can handle living with the most handsome and endearing man he’s ever met, a man he immediately knows he wants in the worst way and can’t have. Or can he?

Watch for Buy Links Coming Soon to Dreamspinner Press

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THE GIVEAWAY

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The Fine Print:

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5 Stars, Aisling Mancy, Drama, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Reviewed by Maryann, Shira Anthony

Review: A Solitary Man by Shira Anthony and Aisling Mancy

Amazon

Amazon

Title: A Solitary Man

Authors: Shira Anthony and Aisling Mancy

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 304 Pages

At a Glance: Solitary Man is action packed, suspenseful, has lots of dangerous moments, and it deals with important subject matter as well.

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: Sparks fly when Chance meets tall, sexy Xav at a Wilmington bar and they have the hottest one-nighter of their lives. But Chance doesn’t do repeats, Xav seems detached, and they go their separate ways without a word. Later, when closeted Assistant District Attorney C. Evan “Chance” Fairchild meets Dare’s Landing’s newest deputy sheriff, Xavier “Xav” Constantine, Evan isn’t only wary. He’s irritated as hell.

Xavier is a former FBI agent turned deputy sheriff who is hot on the trail of a South American child prostitution ring. Evan is fighting to put an end to rampant cocaine trafficking and chafing under the thumb of an election-hungry boss. When someone tries to kill the eleven-year-old witness who holds the key to both their investigations, they’re forced to work together as they put their lives on the line to protect him. As Chance and Xav collide in the heat of a sweltering North Carolina summer, dodging bullets and chasing bad guys isn’t the only action going on.

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Review: After the DEA causes the death of two young boys, Xavier Constantine makes a career change, from FBI agent to Deputy Sheriff.  He heads up the Crimes Against Children Task Force in Dare’s Landing. While dealing with the loss, he finds himself educating his team about child sex rings and drug trafficking.

Chance Evan Fairchild, Assistant District Attorney, is still dealing with dark issues from his youth. He’s a loner and doesn’t let anyone get close to him, and is more than satisfied being closeted. He doesn’t like that drug trafficking has come to his corner of the world, and he vows to get to the bottom of it.  He’s not real happy about Xavier, the new deputy sheriff, though. But after a heartbreaking end to a stakeout, Chance’s eyes are opened, and he finds himself teaming up with Xavier to protect a young boy and help to put an end to trafficking.

I think Xavier is a great character. Even though he’s out, he still has to face some intolerance, but he wasn’t portrayed as the “tough guy” character. He’s just a man standing up for what he believes in. I liked the banter with his mother and siblings, even though it was brief. He also shows patience and understanding with Chance, and never put pressure on him to reveal his issues. Sadly, I didn’t get the feeling that this is the beginning of a series, so I would have liked this story to end a little differently.

A Solitary Man has a solid group of characters, including John Carson, Twyla Faye, Sheriff Winston, Ridley, and Billy, who become a top notch team. The story is action packed, suspenseful, has lots of dangerous moments, and it deals with important subject matter as well: child and drug trafficking, and psychological damage that is caused by confinement. Greed plays a big part of this story too, and what sick and perverted people will do for money. Anthony and Mancy did an exceptional job of bringing these issues to the forefront.

TNA_Signature_Maryann

 

 

 

 

You can buy A Solitary Man here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

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Giveaways, Shira Anthony

Guest Post and Giveaway: A Solitary Man by Shira Anthony

SolitaryMan[A]FSThank you so much for hosting the book tour for A Solitary Man! Today is release day and I can’t tell you how excited Aisling Mancy and I are that it’s finally here! Be sure to read to the bottom of the post for a chance to win a cool A Solitary Man swag bag full of fun stuff.

A Solitary Man is set in the fictional Dare’s Landing, near the North Carolina coast, a small city on the Neuse River with a long and colorful history of fishing, pleasure boating, and even pirates. The hot and muggy North Carolina summer serves as a great backdrop to the steamy romance that underlies the mystery/thriller part of the story.

But even more important to the ambiance of the story are the colorful people and language of coastal North Carolina. Aisling and I wanted to make sure we portrayed the characters in the story in a loving and respectful way, and since neither of us grew up in the area, we reached out to people who did for their help. We also had a lot of fun exploring “southernisms,” the wonderful and vivid expressions that pepper conversations in the part of the United States where Dare’s Landing is located. 1de7b45f50f1a3d4659c6d4b99972174And oh what fun we had!

First off, I wanted to share a fabulous Pinterest board with some of the best southern expression memes I’ve seen, by the wonderful Mel Leach: Song of the South. I may be Northern born and raised, but I grew up with a lot of these expressions too! Here’s one of my favorite memes, which explains the quintessential of all southernisms: “ya’ll” or “y’all” (both spellings are correct!). And let’s face it, either is SO much more convenient. Short, sweet, and to the point.

Southern expressions are not one size fits all. The biggest mistake non-Southerners make is to assume there is one “Southerner.” Folks in Texas may share some expressions with folks in North Carolina, but only some. And the accent is entirely different. In fact, even in North Carolina there are a slew of different accents, from the slow drawl of the North Carolina mountains to the brogue of the Outer Banks.

bless your heartHighlighting the wonderful expressions you hear in Eastern North Carolina was a perfect fit for A Solitary Man, and a perfect balance for some of the darker moments in the story. Chance Fairchild is a southerner at heart, although he’s learned to disguise his accept after attending a “highfalutin” law school up north. Xav Constantine serves as a perfect foil for Chance and all the southerners in the story. Xav soon learns that “bless your heart” isn’t a compliment, and that some of the deputies he works with think Chance “has his nose so high in the air he could drown in a rainstorm” (what a northerner would call “stuck up”).

Aisling and I hope you’ll enjoy all the wonderful characters and colorful language that add to the ambiance of A Solitary Man. Southern charm is alive and well, and a heritage to be treasured! -Shira

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Now at Dreamspinner Press, ARe, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble

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TWEET, COMMENT, AND VISIT A SOLITARY MAN’S FACEBOOK PAGE
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Aisling Mancy, Giveaways, Shira Anthony

Guest Post and Giveaway: A Brief and Frank Discussion About “A Solitary Man” by Aisling Mancy

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A very special thank you to Lisa and all the folks at The Novel Approach Reviews for hosting the book tour kickoff for A Solitary Man! It’s great to be here!

Shira Anthony and I have more than a passing affinity for aiding abused youth. In fact, we’re rabid about it. When we set out to write A Solitary Man, we wanted to write a story to raise awareness about two very important issues: youth placed in solitary confinement and commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC). Both have devastating effects on our youth of today and leave everlasting invisible scars.

It’s important to note that Shira and I come at these issues from two very different perspectives. She is a public service attorney who faces these horrid issues in the normal course of her work day. I advocate for children who have survived these circumstances. In spite of our diametric approaches, we agree that both solitary confinement and CSEC must cease to exist.

In A Solitary Man, Chance is a district attorney determined to get drugs off the streets of his city. His soul has been ravaged by his experiences during youth, not the least of which were losing his mother to drug addiction, placement in foster care, and subsequent solitary confinement. Shira will talk more about solitary confinement and its effects during this book tour and I encourage you to read her post.

Also in A Solitary Man, Xavier is an ex-FBI agent having worked directly for CARD for a number of years and closed his mind to the heinous crimes he’s witnessed in order to do his job and save sexually trafficked youth. His soul is ravaged by the loss of two boys on a recent mission yet he remains determined to break up a child sex trafficking cartel.

When the two men come together to protect a witness-in-common, they battle personal demons as well as the demons they face in real life in order to accomplish their incredibly tough jobs.

We’d like to believe that commercial sexual exploitation of children is somewhere way down the list of crimes in the United States. Sadly, it isn’t. The US ranks #3 in the world for sexually exploiting children—ahead of most third world countries. Los Angeles is the primary portal in North America for child sex trafficking, and approximately 49-60% of these youth are boys. Statistics show that boys are sexually abused on par with or more often than girls. If we, as advocates, are lucky enough to be able to rescue youth from abusive environments, sadly, there are no resources for boys. Hence, it is incredibly important that we come together and get involved to help these youth.

How can you help? It’s easy. Become a volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocate. CASA will train you and show you what to do. Find your local CASA office and give them a call. If you don’t see a CASA office listed in your state, become a volunteer Guardian ad Litem. Look for the GAL Program in your state. Youth of today need you.

It goes without saying that A Solitary Man isn’t for the faint of heart. We’ve written about tough issues, and we want to educate and raise awareness. That said, the dry humor, wild rollercoaster ride of a thriller, and passion are sure to keep you entertained!

Thank you for joining us in the celebration of Chance, Xav, and A Solitary Man! Go buy the book and read it!

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SolitaryMan[A]FSAuthors Shira Anthony and Aisling Mancy have teamed up to write a red-hot action-packed thriller!

A Solitary Man from Dreamspinner Press November 6th!

Preorder now from Dreamspinner PressARe. Coming soon to Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Add A Solitary Man to Your Goodreads & Booklikes Shelves

Like A Solitary Man on Facebook

Blurb: Sparks fly when Chance meets tall, sexy Xav at a Wilmington bar and they have the hottest one-nighter of their lives. But Chance doesn’t do repeats, Xav seems detached, and they go their separate ways without a word. Two months later, when closeted Assistant District Attorney C. Evan “Chance” Fairchild meets Dare’s Landing’s newest deputy sheriff, Xavier “Xav” Constantine, Evan isn’t only wary. He’s irritated as hell.

Xavier is a former FBI agent turned deputy sheriff who is hot on the trail of a South American child prostitution ring. Evan is fighting to put an end to rampant cocaine trafficking and chafing under the thumb of an election-hungry boss. When someone tries to kill the thirteen-year-old witness who holds the key to both their investigations, they’re forced to work together as they put their lives on the line to protect him. As Chance and Xav collide in heat of a sweltering North Carolina summer, dodging bullets and chasing bad guys isn’t the only action going on.

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About the Authors:

Shira Anthony loves a great happily-ever-after and never writes a story without one. She’s happy to write what her muse tells her, whether it’s fantasy, sci fi, paranormal, or contemporary romance. She particularly loves writing series, because she thinks of her characters as old friends and she wants to visit them even after their stories are told. Shira writes about the things she knows and loves, whether it’s music and musicians, the ocean, or the places she’s lived or traveled to. She spent her middle school years living in France, and tries to visit as often as she can.

In real life, Shira sang professionally for 14 years, and she currently works as a public sector attorney advocating for children. She’s happy to have made writing her second full-time job, even if it means she rarely has time to watch TV or go to the movies. Shira and her husband spend as many weekends as they can aboard their 36′ catamaran sailboat, “Lands Zen,” at the Carolina Coast. Not only has sailing inspired her to write about pirates and mermen, her sailboat is her favorite place to write. And although the only mermen she’s found to date are in her own imagination, she keeps a sharp lookout for them when she’s on the water.

Find Shira on blogTwitter @WriterShira, Facebook, and Goodreads and Subscribe to Shira’s monthly newsletter for updates, free fiction, and subscriber-only contests!

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Aisling Mancy is an author who lives, most of the time, on the West Coast of the United States. Aisling writes adult fantasy, science fiction, adult LGBTQ romance, and fiction for gay young adults as C. Kennedy.

Raised on the mean streets and back lots of Hollywood by a Yoda-look-alike grandfather, Aisling doesn’t conform, doesn’t fit in, is epic awkward, and lives to perfect a deep-seated oppositional defiance disorder. In a constant state of fascination with the trivial, Aisling contemplates such weighty questions as If time and space are curved, then where do all the straight people come from? When not writing, Aisling can be found taming waves on western shores, pondering the nutritional value of sunsets, appreciating the much-maligned dandelion, unhooking guide ropes from stanchions, and marveling at all things ordinary.

Find Aisling on blogTwitter @AislingMancy, FacebookGoodreadsBooklikes, and Aisling does respond to emails because, after all, it is all about you, the reader.

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THE GIVEAWAY

Thanks so much for joining Shira Anthony and Aisling Mancy on the blog tour for their upcoming novel A Solitary Man. To enter for the chance to win an e-book from both Shira’s and Aisling’s backlists (**excl. A Solitary Man**) OR a tote bag which includes a little swag and signed paperback books from both authors, click on the Rafflecopter widget and follow the entry instructions.

Good luck!

Rafflecopter Giveaway

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FINAL SM Blog Tour Meme Draft2 black

Follow the Tour:

Thursday, October 29th Cody is at The Novel Approach Reviews

Friday, October 30th Cody is at Jo & Isa Love Books

Tuesday, November 4th Cody is at Bike Book Reviews

Wednesday, November 5th

Cody is at Joyfully Jay Reviews

Shira is at Prism Book Alliance

Friday, November 6th RELEASE DAY CELEBRATION!

Yarning to Write Kermit Flail with lovely Amy Lane!

Cody is at Divine Magazine

Cody is on Dreampsinner’s Blog

Saturday, November 7th Cody is at Love Bytes Reviews

Sunday, November 8th

Shira is at My Fiction Nook

LIVE FACEBOOK CHAT with Shira & Cody 2-5pm EST

Monday, November 9th Cody is at My Fiction Nook

Tuesday, November 10th Shira is at Bike Book Reviews

Wednesday, November 11th Shira is at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Aisling Mancy, Cover Reveal, Shira Anthony

Cover Reveal: A Solitary Man by Shira Anthony and Aisling Mancy

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Authors Shira Anthony and Aisling Mancy have teamed up to write a red-hot action-packed thriller!

Title: A Solitary Man
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: November 6, 2015
Genre/Tags: Contemporary romance, thriller, mystery, FBI, cops, crime
Length: 96,775 words
Blurb: Sparks fly when Chance meets tall, sexy Xav at a Wilmington bar and they have the hottest one-nighter of their lives. But Chance doesn’t do repeats, Xav seems detached, and they go their separate ways without a word. Two months later, when closeted Assistant District Attorney C. Evan “Chance” Fairchild meets Dare’s Landing’s newest deputy sheriff, Xavier “Xav” Constantine, Evan isn’t only wary. He’s irritated as hell.

Xavier is a former FBI agent turned deputy sheriff who is hot on the trail of a South American child prostitution ring. Evan is fighting to put an end to rampant cocaine trafficking and chafing under the thumb of an election-hungry boss. When someone tries to kill the thirteen-year-old witness who holds the key to both their investigations, they’re forced to work together as they put their lives on the line to protect him. As Chance and Xav collide in heat of a sweltering North Carolina summer, dodging bullets and chasing bad guys isn’t the only action going on.

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Excerpt: Evan pressed the button on his phone to connect. “Freddy? What did you find out?”

Fred laughed. “For this, I’m going to exact a price.”

“You mean the keg I sprang for at graduation doesn’t get me a freebie?” Evan shot back.

“We’ve been out of law school for how many years now? Eight?”

“Nine this year,” Evan corrected.

“Credit’s no good anymore,” Fred answered. “I’m thinking dinner at Ivy at the Shore next time you’re in LA. On you, of course. Including a bottle of Veuve Clicquot.”

“For that,” Evan said with a chuckle, “this had better be good.”

“It’s good. And it was hell to get.”

“Okay, okay. Dinner on me. Assuming you and Margie put me up for the night,” Evan replied. “I’m looking forward to seeing your McMansion.”

“Deal. Took a little digging. Seems your mystery man did some undercover work for the FBI.”

“And?”

“My buddy in the US Attorney’s office wouldn’t give details, but word is Constantine got fed up with the bullshit after a case went bad somewhere down in South America.”

“Drugs?” Evan asked.

“No. He dealt with human trafficking. Specifically, child sex trafficking. My friend says the guy’s good. He tried a few cases where Constantine was the government’s key witness. Knows his stuff. Works his ass off and gets into his work. I got the impression sometimes he gets a little too close.”

Now that was interesting. “Why?”

“Seems the guy’s rabid about protecting kids.”

“Any idea why?”

“Nothing anyone would tell me,” Fred replied.

Evan leaned back in his chair. At least Xav wasn’t a slacker, but it didn’t make Evan feel any better about the prospect of bumping into him at work. “Anything else?”

“Constantine grew up in LA, went to school in Boston.”

“Boston?” Even more interesting. So much for his initial assessment of Xav as a broceanographer.

“Yeah, you’ll love this.”

Evan could almost hear Freddy’s grin over the phone.

“He did undergrad at MIT. Mathematics major. Master’s in criminology from U Penn with an emphasis in cryptology. The FBI was probably falling all over itself to recruit him.”

No shit. This just got better and better. “What the hell’s a guy with that kind of background doing in North Carolina?”

“I could ask you the same question,” Fred shot back. “Of course, if you decide you want your own McMansion….”

“You couldn’t pay me enough to come to work for you,” Evan joked. Fred was serious—they’d had this discussion a half-dozen times before.

“Try me.” Fred paused for a moment and then asked, “This personal?”

Evan had no intention of telling Fred he’d slept with Xav. “Not personal.”

“’Cause word has it he’s gay,” Fred said. “Out but not advertising.” When Evan didn’t take the bait, Fred added, “But you already knew that, didn’t you?”

Evan shook his head and sighed theatrically. “Don’t even go there, Freddy. You know I don’t mix business and pleasure. I just want to know what I’m dealing with. That’s all.”

“You can’t bullshit a bullshitter, man.”

“Thanks for the help,” Evan said, foreclosing the topic. “I’ll let you know next time I’m out your way. Tell Margie she’s a brave woman.”

“Always do. Laters. And make sure you get your sorry ass out here soon.”

“Will do.” Evan disconnected the call and rubbed his mouth. Mathematics major at MIT and a master’s from U Penn? No wonder the FBI had recruited him. And he’d pegged Xav for a surfer! What the hell are you doing in Dare’s Landing, Xavier Constantine?

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Shira AnthonyAbout Shira Anthony:

Shira loves a great happily-ever-after and never writes a story without one. She’s happy to write what her muse tells her, whether it’s fantasy, sci fi, paranormal, or contemporary romance. She particularly loves writing series, because she thinks of her characters as old friends and she wants to visit them even after their stories are told.

In real life, Shira sang professionally for 14 years, and she currently works as a public sector attorney advocating for children. She’s happy to have made writing her second full-time job, even if it means she rarely has time to watch TV or go to the movies.

Shira writes about the things she knows and loves, whether it’s music and musicians, the ocean, or the places she’s lived or traveled to. She spent her middle school years living in France, and tries to visit as often as she can.

Shira and her husband spend as many weekends as they can aboard their 36′ catamaran sailboat, “Lands Zen,” at the Carolina Coast. Not only has sailing inspired her to write about pirates and mermen, her sailboat is her favorite place to write. And although the only mermen she’s found to date are in her own imagination, she keeps a sharp lookout for them when she’s on the water.

Shira looks forward to meeting you at Gay Rom Lit!

Find Shira on blog, Twitter @WriterShira, Facebook, and Goodreads and Subscribe to Shira’s monthly newsletter for updates, free fiction, and subscriber-only contests!

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Aisling MancyAbout Aisling Mancy:

Aisling is an author who lives, most of the time, on the West Coast of the United States. Aisling writes adult fantasy, adult LGBTQIA romance, and fiction for gay young adults (C. Kennedy).

Raised on the mean streets and back lots of Hollywood by a Yoda-look-alike grandfather, Aisling doesn’t conform, doesn’t fit in, is epic awkward, and lives to perfect a deep-seated oppositional defiance disorder. In a constant state of fascination with the trivial, Aisling contemplates such weighty questions as If time and space are curved, then where do all the straight people come from? When not writing, Aisling can be found taming waves on western shores, pondering the nutritional value of sunsets, appreciating the much maligned dandelion, unhooking guide ropes from stanchions, and marveling at all things ordinary.

Aisling looks forward to meeting you at Gay Rom Lit!

Find Aisling on blog, Twitter @AislingMancy, Facebook, Goodreads, and Aisling does respond to emails because, after all, it is all about you, the reader.

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3.5 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Narration Rating - 4 Stars, Reviewed By JJ, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Shira Anthony

Review: Stealing the Wind by Shira Anthony – Narrated by Michael Stellman

Title: Stealing the Wind (Mermen of Ea Trilogy: Book One)

Author: Shira Anthony

Narrator: Michael Stellman

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 7 Hours and 31 Minutes

At a Glance: Shira Anthony has a way of making a world come alive, which made me feel like I was on the ship and under the sea with the characters.

Reviewed By: JJ

Blurb: Taren Laxley has never known anything but life as a slave. When a lusty pirate kidnaps him and holds him prisoner on his ship, Taren embraces the chance to realize his dream of a seagoing life. Not only does the pirate captain offer him freedom in exchange for three years of labor and sexual servitude, but the pleasures Taren finds when he joins the captain and first mate in bed far surpass his greatest fantasies.

Then, during a storm, Taren dives overboard to save another sailor and is lost at sea. He’s rescued by Ian Dunaidh, the enigmatic and seemingly ageless captain of a rival ship, the Phantom, and Taren feels an overwhelming attraction to Ian that Ian appears to share. Soon Taren learns a secret that will change his life forever: Ian and his people are Ea, shape-shifting merfolk… and Taren is one of them too. Bound to each other by a fierce passion neither can explain or deny, Taren and Ian are soon embroiled in a war and forced to fight for a future—not only for themselves but for all their kind.

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Review: Stealing the Wind is the first Mermen book I’ve ever read. I wasn’t sure at first how mermen could be sexy, but the author makes them very appealing. The story starts out when Taren, an indentured slave, is captured by a pirate. The pirate agrees to let him have his freedom in exchange for sexual servitude. Since Taren is attracted to the pirate, he agrees. However, before he can earn his freedom, he is in an accident, which results in him being rescued by a man named Ian. Taren is drawn to Ian, and when he learns that Ian is of the Ea people and shifts into a merman, his world is transformed.

I was initially drawn to Taren, but his time on the ship with the pirates was narrated so much that I lost a certain degree of interest. However, when Taren was rescued by Ian, things became interesting. Though Taren’s heart was at first split between Ian and the pirates, Ian is extremely drawn to Taren. I could really feel Ian’s pain over his love for him, which made their unions very erotic. The only part I didn’t really like about the book was the ending, since it kind of left me hanging. Also, I didn’t really connect with the twist, but despite disliking the end, I was entertained by the book as a whole. Shira Anthony has a way of making a world come alive, which made me feel like I was on the ship and under the sea with the characters.

Narration: Michael Stellman’s narration was perfect. I especially loved the voice he used for Taren, which was extremely erotic at times. Stellman used different voices for each character and was very expressive.

TNA_Signature_JJ

 

 

 

You can buy Stealing the Wind here:

Audible.com

Audible.com

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Dreamspinner Press, Giveaways, Shira Anthony

Guest Post and Giveaway: The Running with the Wind Blog Tour with Shira Anthony

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The Novel Approach welcomes Shira Anthony today, on the Running with the Wind blog tour. Shira talks a bit about the world building in the Mermen of Ea series, and is also offering the chance to win some great prizes on this tour. Just click on the Rafflecopter Widget below to enter for the chance at one of the following:

*December Diamonds Wedding Mermen Ornament (or a free download of the audiobook version of Stealing the Wind for non-U.S. Residents)

*Geneva Nautical Wrap Watch (or an e-copy of a backlist title for non-U.S. Residents **excl. Running with the Wind)

*Anchor Cord Bracelet (or an e-copy of a backlist title for non-U.S. Residents **excl. Running with the Wind)

Good luck!

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Hi Shira,

Welcome back to The Novel Approach. I’d love to chat a bit with you about the world building in this series.

  • Was there quite a bit of research involved when you began building the foundation of the series?

Part of the inspiration for the series was when my husband and I got certified for open water scuba diving. So I had thoughts and images from those dives in my mind when I created the underwater universe in the Mermen of Ea Series. He and I also own a 35 foot catamaran sailboat, so I had some knowledge of sailing ships. That knowledge, however, didn’t extend to the sailing ships I used to model the Sea Witch and the Phantom. I spent a lot of time reviewing diagrams of the old square riggers used in the Age of Sail. I also spent hours discussing marine battle tactics with my husband, who has read more books than I can count on the subject.

I also researched dolphins and dolphin mating in order to create the sex scenes in shifted form. You’d be surprised how many dolphin sex vids there are on Youtube! Half of them feature embarrassed parents filming as their little kids ask what the dolphins in the tank at the aquarium are doing to each other. I had a blast taking those and creating an Ea mating dance, complete with Ea heartsong. The rest of the Ea universe, however, was purely based on my experiences traveling in the Caribbean and my overactive imagination.

  • Did you learn some new things about merpeople and their legends that you hadn’t known before? If so, what are some of those things?

I read up on merfolk legends when I was writing the first book, Stealing the Wind. What I discovered was that the earliest merfolk stories seem to come from the myths of Enki, a.k.a. “Ea,” the Sumarian god who was not only the god of mischief, but of creation, intelligence, and of course, water. Enki is often portrayed as half man, half fish. The Ea/Enki myth was a great jumping off point, and became the name of the mershifters’ people. Even better, there are other Sumarian gods, including Anuki, the god of the heavens. But I won’t spoil it and tell those who haven’t read the story yet how that might factor into the plot!

  • What are some things that make your merfolk a bit different than those in stories we’re familiar with?

I honestly hadn’t read any other merfolk stories other than The Little Mermaid when I started to write the series, so that’s a tough one to answer. I can say that my merfolk are true shifters who can exist on land in human form, and in the water in their Ea form. They also have magical powers that allow them to see the past, to manipulate the elements, and to sense others’ feelings. They communicate telepathically under the water, and while in their merforms, they experience sex differently than in their human forms.

  • Did you ever get to a point where you feared there was too much attention to detail? How do you know where to draw that line between too much and not enough?

That’s always a tough call when creating an entirely new universe. I relied on my beta readers and my editors to help guide me, since there’s definitely a risk of a forest for the trees sort of thing in writing fantasy. Ultimately, it’s a tough call, and “enough” and “too much” becomes a subjective analysis. You can throw much more detailed worldbuilding at those readers who are used to reading fantasy with significant worldbuilding, as opposed to those new to the genre. Having beta readers and editors who aren’t big fantasy readers can really help in figuring out how to strike that balance.

For me the proof that we got it right is in the comments and reviews from readers who felt there was enough to immerse themselves in my new universe, but didn’t complain about being overwhelmed. I did learn, however, that writing fantasy is much more difficult than writing contemporary romance in the sense that you need to sprinkle the unique elements of the universe over the entire story so that you don’t lose your readers!  I consider myself very fortunate that many of my contemporary romance readers were willing to try this series and most of them have enjoyed it.

  • Thanks for stopping by today, Shira, it’s always great to have you here with us!

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Blurb: With the final confrontation between the island and mainland Ea factions looming, Taren and Ian sail with Odhrán to investigate a lost colony of merfolk in the Eastern Lands. Upon their arrival, the King of Astenya welcomes them as friends. Odhrán, however, isn’t so quick to trust the descendent of the man who held him prisoner for nearly a decade, especially now that he has someone to cherish and protect—the mysterious winged boy he rescued from the depths.

Armed with the knowledge he believes will save the Ea, Taren returns to the mainland. With Ian at his side, Taren convinces Vurin that their people must unite with their island brethren before it’s too late. When Seria and his men attack, Taren must call upon the ancient power of the rune stone to protect his comrades. But using stone’s immeasurable power commands a hefty price—and Ian fears that price is Taren’s life.

Buy Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | All Romance eBooks

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Shira AnthonyAbout the Author: In her last incarnation, Shira was a professional opera singer, performing roles in such operas as “Tosca,” “i Pagliacci,” and “La Traviata,” among others. She’s given up TV for evenings spent with her laptop, and she never goes anywhere without a pile of unread M/M romance on her Kindle.

Shira is married with two children and two insane dogs, and when she’s not writing she is usually in a courtroom trying to make the world safer for children. When she’s not working, she can be found aboard a 36’ catamaran at the Carolina coast with her favorite sexy captain at the wheel.

Where to find the author: Facebook | Facebook Author Page | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads

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THE GIVEAWAY:

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Tour Dates & Stops:

1-Jun: Elisa – My Reviews and Ramblings | 2-Jun: Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words | 3-Jun: My Fiction Nook | 4-Jun: Amanda C. Stone | 5-Jun: Carly’s Book Reviews | 8-Jun: Bayou Book Junkie | 9-Jun: Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews | 10-Jun: Decadent Delights | 11-Jun: MM Good Book Reviews | 12-Jun: Inked Rainbow Reads | 15-Jun: Divine Magazine | 16-Jun: Book Reviews, Rants, and Raves | 17-Jun: BFD Book Blog | 18-Jun: The Novel Approach | 19-Jun: Because Two Men Are Better Than One | 22-Jun: Kimi-Chan Happily Ever Chapter | 23-Jun: Prism Book Alliance | 24-Jun: Cate Ashwood | 25-Jun: Love Bytes | 26-Jun: Molly Lolly

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5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Mythology, Reviewed by Jules, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Shira Anthony

Review: Running with the Wind by Shira Anthony

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Title: Running with the Wind (Mermen of Ea: Book Three)

Author: Shira Anthony

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 220 Pages

At a Glance: I loved the book. I absolutely, whole-heartedly recommend it. Go! Read! Now!

Reviewed By: Jules

Blurb: With the final confrontation between the island and mainland Ea factions looming, Taren and Ian sail with Odhrán to investigate a lost colony of merfolk in the Eastern Lands. Upon their arrival, the King of Astenya welcomes them as friends. Odhrán, however, isn’t so quick to trust the descendent of the man who held him prisoner for nearly a decade, especially now that he has someone to cherish and protect—the mysterious winged boy he rescued from the depths.

Armed with the knowledge he believes will save the Ea, Taren returns to the mainland. With Ian at his side, Taren convinces Vurin that their people must unite with their island brethren before it’s too late. When Seria and his men attack, Taren must call upon the ancient power of the rune stone to protect his comrades. But using the stone’s immeasurable power commands a hefty price—and Ian fears that price is Taren’s life.

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Review: Where do I even start, you guys??? I honestly get so blown away by the sheer force of imagination and the stunning beauty of this universe that I find it hard to get my full thoughts out. There is much to be said about this book, and this series, but I’m afraid it’s going to come out of my keyboard as ‘ASDLKJFALSJDFKSSDLSLF,’ as that’s how it feels in my head immediately after finishing this amazing story.

Running with the Wind jumps right in where Into the Wind left us – fresh out of a battle with the evil Seria and his followers, grieving the loss of Rider, and just having witnessed the transformation of Bastian, first into a dragon and then reincarnated as a winged boy, an Anuki, the ‘heavenly brethren of the Ea.’ Our heroes, Taren Laxley and Captain Ian Dunaidh, along with the pirate Odhrán, and the rest of their respective crews, are in shock, in mourning, and are trying to figure out where to go from there. Things are intense to say the least.

Taren really comes into his own in this book. Whereas in the past he was typically happy to defer to Ian on most things, in this book Taren is learning to trust himself and embrace who he is and who he is meant to be to his people. It was also so wonderful to see Ian supporting Taren, and encouraging him to fulfill his destiny. I absolutely loved this line:

“You’re no longer a slave, Taren. You’re no longer just a rigger. You’re no longer just my beloved. You’re the leader you were meant to be. You just haven’t realized it yet.”

There are so many fantastic things going on in this book. The romance between Taren and Ian – as well as their ancient counterparts, Treande and Owyn – is still off-the-charts fabulous; the rich detail of the world Shira Anthony has created is unbelievably intricate and as intriguing as ever, and the action sequences are incredible and heart-stopping. Though obviously it’s incredibly intense at times, there is still some humor interspersed throughout, and the different friendships – Taren and Odhrán, Ian and Renda, Bastian and Taren to name a few – are wonderful and heartwarming. We’re also introduced to a new character, Eiran, the King of Astenya, who I liked very much and hope to see again.

Okay. Let’s really get down to it. Everything I’ve said so far in my review is true. Ian and Taren…amazing world-building…beautifully detailed scenes and imagery…action-packed, intense battle scenes…high seas swashbuckling goodness…It’s all there. BUT, my heart was stolen by Bastian, and Bastian and Odhrán, on page one. Bastian is so fabulous, and his history, including all of the dragon lore, is beyond fascinating. I was also already a huge fan of Odhrán, so pairing him up with Bastian is so much win. A hybrid Ea/human and a dragon shifter – I still can’t believe he’s a dragon! – both immortal. How can that not be amazing?!?

Obviously I loved the book. I absolutely, whole-heartedly recommend it. Go! Read! Now! Heh, heh. The funny thing is, I started this series as sort of a dare from the lovely author herself…a challenge, if you will, to step outside of my bubble and try something different…and now, I never want it to end.

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You can buy Running with the Wind here:

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

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5 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Narration Rating - 5 Stars, Reviewed by Amy, Shira Anthony

Audio Review: Blue Notes by Shira Anthony – Narrated by Peter B. Brooke

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Title: Blue Notes

Author: Shira Anthony

Narrator: Peter B. Brooke

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 7 Hours and 47 Minutes

At a Glance: I simply adore Shira Anthony’s writing, and Peter B. Brooke is one of the best narrators in the business.

Reviewed By: Amy

Blurb: Blame it on jet lag. Jason Greene thought he had everything: a dream job as a partner in a large Philadelphia law firm, a beautiful fiancée, and more money than he could ever hope to spend. Then he finds his future wife in bed with another man, and he’s forced to rethink his life and his choices. On a moment’s notice, he runs away to Paris, hoping to make peace with his life.

But Jason’s leave of absence becomes a true journey of the heart when he meets Jules, a struggling jazz violinist with his own cross to bear. In the City of Love, it doesn’t take them long to fall into bed, but as they’re both about to learn, they can’t run from the past. Sooner or later, they’ll have to face the music.

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Review: I picked this audiobook because I simply adore Shira Anthony’s writing, and I enjoyed Blue Notes the first time, in written word. Jason (Jazz) is such a likable character, a character that you feel deserves a happy ending and pull for from the beginning. Jules is a damaged young man with an incredible heart. All I wanted to do was protect him. I felt truth and passion throughout all of this book. Anthony really wrote an incredible story, but her ability to write the supporting cast was what really made this book stand out for me. The world she builds is one I could and have visited over and over.

Narration: I was also a little apprehensive as most of this book takes place in Paris, and I couldn’t imagine the challenge this would have been as a narrator. I will, however, say that I’ve listened to Peter B. Brooke narrate books in the past, and was extremely impressed with his abilities. I was not disappointed. Brooke is one of the best narrators in the business. When reviewing an audiobook, what you hope for most is the ability for the narrator to define each character. Peter B. Brooke has that ability in spades. He also popped in and out of his French accent so smoothly, and made that accent sound genuine, not forced or fake. Combining his ability with Jules, who, by the way is one of my favorite characters, was unforgettable. I cannot wait to hear the rest of this series.

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You can buy Blue Notes here:

Audible.com

Audible.com

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4 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Sammy, Shira Anthony

Review: Blood and Rain by Shira Anthony

Title: Blood and Rain (Blood: Book One)

Author: Shira Anthony

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 268 Pages

At a Glance: Multi-layered with subplots galore, but well done

Blurb: Adrien Gilbert has spent several lifetimes searching for the love he lost. Born in the 1800s into a clan of fabled vampire hunters, Adrien once wanted nothing more than to tend his family’s vineyard in southern France or read a good book. But Adrien’s peaceful existence ends abruptly when his older brother, François, is murdered. Bound by his hunter’s oath, Adrien sets out on a path that will forever change his life when he agrees to execute his brother’s killer, the vampire Charles Duvalier.

After months chasing the elusive Charles, Adrien reluctantly makes a bargain with Nicolas Lambert, an ancient vampire. Adrien will escort Nicolas to Paris for his marriage to a rival clanswoman, and Nicolas will help Adrien find Charles. Nicolas’s quiet strength and gentle heart soon convince Adrien that Nicolas is nothing like the vampires he has sworn to destroy. As the wedding date draws nearer, a force intent on destroying the fragile peace between the vampire clans threatens to tear apart both the vampire realm and the world of the hunters. To secure both past and future for those he loves, Adrien must find a way to stop the looming war between hunters and vampires. But first he’ll have to let Nicolas go.

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Review: I have enjoyed many a novel by author Shira Anthony and her latest, the first in a new series entitled Blood And Rain, shows great promise. As with any new world or, in this case, introduction of paranormal creatures, there can be a certain amount of setup involved in the initial story. While vampires are not a new creation by any means, it is important for any author to give them their own unique attributes, or potentially fall into the abyss of a well-worn trope that fails to break fresh ground. Shira Anthony attempts to break the mold and, for the most part, I feel she enhances this paranormal genre with exciting characters and deeply involved plot lines.

However, it is these intersecting stories and new types of immortals that also tended to slow this novel down. Let me begin by giving a brief synopsis as I understand it from the story. First, there are hunters who are long living men with extraordinary powers, such as the ability to control fire or ice, and they are the policing force of the vampire nation. They have a council that decides if a warrant will be given that signifies the death of a vamp who has stepped out of line. These vampires are ancient in some cases, which means they were born as vampires and not created by humans, and they coexist with the hunters, acknowledging that those vamps that cross the line and threaten humans will be destroyed. They are also very powerful. It is a fine line these two races walk, and on both sides there are good and bad.

As far as I can understand there is also a third, hybrid race of Immortals—these are much like vampires in that they can experience blood lust and even drink from a host, but they are nearly impossible to kill and remarkably powerful. Exactly who can be an immortal was a bit murky for me—or perhaps I just missed the subtext that explained it clearly. And therein lies the first problem I encountered with this story. There were so many finer points to these societies that how and who can be any one of these paranormals was really difficult to follow for me.

Blood And Rain follows the paths of two brothers. The older, Francois, is besotted with a vampire named Charles. I believe he is an ancient, and most definitely extremely powerful, vampire. He recreates Francois with his bite, and Francois becomes both vampire and hunter and literally takes on a new form identical to his old. Hence, there is a corpse left behind and it is this empty husk that Francois’s brother Adrien finds and vows to avenge. Also a hunter, Adrien is given a warrant for Charles’ death and goes on a mission to do just that. But Charles is elusive at best, and there is huge turmoil in the council of hunters as well, which leaves Adrien unsure as to whom he can trust and how he can vindicate what he believes is his brother’s death. Along the way, Adrien will meet his own vampire, Nicholas, the prince of one of the two biggest feuding vampire dynasts. In return for Nicholas’ help finding Charles, Adrien has agreed to be the hired muscle to keep Nicholas safe while he travels to wed the daughter of the opposing dynasty. There is only one problem, Adrien has fallen in love with Nicholas.

I apologize if that seemed to be more than the normal synopsis but as you can see, Shira Anthony has written a terribly complex story with many subplots, as well as a fair share of twists and turns. I am sure that the incredible cliffhanger at novel’s end will frustrate some readers, but I felt it was cleverly done and actually made me eager to read the next installment in this series. Other than the complexities produced by having vampires, ancient vampires, hunters and immortals all needing to be established and delineated, the only other problem I saw with this novel was that our time was spent following two brothers, both of whom had complex storylines; hence it felt as though the focus was always split, and I couldn’t quite get a handle on either character or their love interest as deeply as I would have liked.

As usual, Shira Anthony writes a compelling tale and peoples it with interesting characters that are complex, intelligent and determined. I am excited to see where this series will lead and how the author will begin to pull together all the threads she has planted along the way. Blood And Rain may be a multi-layered novel with subplots galore, but it is well done and worth the read!






You can buy Blood and Rain here:

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

Dreamspinner Press

Dreamspinner Press

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Dreamspinner Press, Shira Anthony

Interview and Giveaway: “Dissonance” by Shira Anthony

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TNA: Welcome to The Novel Approach, Shira, we’re glad to have you with us today. Why don’t we start by having you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Shira: Thank for hosting me today! For those who may not know, I was a professional opera singer for about 14 years, and a violinist before that. I come from a family of musicians. My mom is a harpsichordist and my sister was a professional cellist. I gave up singing for a new career as an attorney. Guess it’s not a big surprise that in addition to the musicians in my books, there are a few lawyers too! Oh, and if you’re planning on attending GRL this year in Chicago, you can hear me sing. I’ll be hosting an event with Lane Hayes and doing a mini-recital of opera, show tunes, and torch songs.
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A.E. Via, B. Snow, Brita Addams, CJane Elliott, Garrett Leigh, Hayden Thorne, Heidi Belleau, Heidi Cullinan, J.P. Barnaby, Lisa Henry, Perie Wolford, Poppy Dennison, Shira Anthony, Sneak Peek

Here’s A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

Hi, everyone, thanks so much to all of you for stopping by to see what we have in store for you in the week ahead. It’s going to be a full one, so be sure to check back frequently to catch all the guest posts, giveaways, and reviews.

Here’s a look at what’s coming up…


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MondayHayden Thorne kicks off the week with a guest post and giveaway of her Young Adult Historical Fantasy, The Glass Minstrel

A.E. Via also stops in on the Embracing His Syn Blog Tour

TuesdayShira Anthony is here with a giveaway on the Dissonance Blog Tour

B. Snow also drops by with a guest post on the Bedtime Stories Anthology Blog Tour

Brita Addams will also be here today in her monthly guest spot

WednesdayHeidi Cullinan makes TNA a tour stop on the Hero Blog Tour, with a guest post and giveaway

CJane Elliott is here today, as well, with a giveaway on the Stepping Through Blog Tour

ThursdayLisa Henry and Heidi Belleau are here with a giveaway on the Bliss Blog Tour

FridayPoppy Dennison stops in today on the Coconut Grove Blog Tour

Saturday – Today we have Perie Wolford here with a giveaway on the Turning 17 Blog Tour

J.P. Barnaby is also here today with an exclusive (and naughty!) little ficlet featuring Brian and Jamie of the Little Boy Lost series

Sunday – Finally, to close out the week, we have Garrett Leigh here today on the Bold (Blue Boy: Book Three) Blog Tour, with a giveaway

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And that rounds out the week ahead. Until next week, happy reading!

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Dreamspinner Press, Freebie, Shira Anthony

How About Some Free Fiction? Shira Anthony’s “Blue Notes” Fills The Bill

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In preparation of the release of her latest novel in the Blue Notes Series, Dissonance, Shira Anthony is offering book one, Blue Notes, FREE for Amazon Kindle, from August 7-11, 2014. CLICK HERE to download your e-copy of Blue Notes soon.

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Blurb:

Blame it on jet lag. Jason Greene thought he had everything: a dream job as a partner in a large Philadelphia law firm, a beautiful fiancée, and more money than he could ever hope to spend. Then he finds his future wife in bed with another man, and he’s forced to rethink his life and his choices. On a moment’s notice, he runs away to Paris, hoping to make peace with his life.

But Jason’s leave of absence becomes a true journey of the heart when he meets Jules, a struggling jazz violinist with his own cross to bear. In the City of Love, it doesn’t take them long to fall into bed, but as they’re both about to learn, they can’t run from the past. Sooner or later, they’ll have to face the music.


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10494713_672607299491327_5799782232472262078_nAuthor Bio: In her last incarnation, Shira was a professional opera singer, performing roles in such operas as “Tosca,” “i Pagliacci,” and “La Traviata,” among others. She’s given up TV for evenings spent with her laptop, and she never goes anywhere without a pile of unread M/M romance on her Kindle.

Shira is married with two children and two insane dogs, and when she’s not writing she is usually in a courtroom trying to make the world safer for children. When she’s not working, she can be found aboard a 36’ catamaran at the Carolina coast with her favorite sexy captain at the wheel.

Author Contact: Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter: @WriterShira | Website | E-mail

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Dissonance - Coming to Dreamspinner Press August 8, 2014.

Dissonance – Coming to Dreamspinner Press August 8, 2014.

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A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week, B.G. Thomas, BA Tortuga, Carol Lynne, Charlie Cochet, Cover Reveal, Eileen Griffin, GayRomLit, Jordan L. Hawk, Kate Pavelle, Lex Chase, Nikka Michaels, Nikki Woolfolk, Shira Anthony

Here’s A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week


Hello again, everyone! Can you believe it’s August already? I know! Me either.

We’ve got another great week coming up, filled with guest posts, giveaways, cover reveals, and, of course, more reviews.

Here’s what’s in store for the week ahead.


Monday – We’re kicking off the week in grand style today, with an Exclusive Cover Reveal and Excerpt from In the Raw, an upcoming release by Eileen Griffin and Nikka Michaels from Carina Press

Tuesday – We have our second Exclusive Cover Reveal of Jordan L. Hawk’s Bloodlines, Book Five in the Whyborne & Griffin Series

Kate Pavelle also joins us today on the Breakfall Blog Tour, and she’ll be offering a giveaway on her visit

We’re also participating today in Shira Anthony’s Blue Notes Book Blast, so be sure to watch for that

WednesdayCharlie Cochet joins us today for a Countdown to GRL Celebration on the Blood & Thunder (THIRDS: Book Two) Blog Tour

ThursdayCarol Lynne makes a stop here at The Novel Approach today, on her Snake Charmer Blog Tour, during which you’ll have the chance to enter a giveaway

FridayBA Tortuga stops by today to talk cowboys on the Midnight Rodeo: Homecoming Blog Tour

SaturdayNikki Woolfork joins us on the The Men of Summerly Blog Tour, with a Giveaway

Sunday – And finally, B.G. Thomas ends a great week for us on the Summer Lover Blog Tour, with a giveaway

And that rounds out the week ahead. Until next time, happy reading!

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5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Reviewed by Sammy, Shira Anthony

Into the Wind Is A Stunning Sequel To Shira Anthony’s Mermen of Ea Series


“I believe in the immeasurable power of love; that true love can endure any circumstance and reach across any distance.” – Steve Maraboli


Title: Into The Wind (Mermen Of Ea #2)

Author: Shira Anthony

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 216 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Since learning of his merman shifter heritage, Taren has begun building a life with Ian Dunaidh among the mainland Ea.
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Dreamspinner Press, Reviewed by Sammy, Shira Anthony

“Blue Notes” Weaves A Lush Melody Of Love And Redemption – Reviewed by Sammy


“Sometimes the hardest part isn’t letting go but rather learning to start over.” – Nicole Sobon


Title: Blue Notes

Author: Shira Anthony

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 250 Pages

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Blurb: Blame it on jet lag. Jason Greene thought he had everything: a dream job as a partner in a large Philadelphia law firm, a beautiful fiancée, and more money than he could ever hope to spend.

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Dreamspinner Press, Shira Anthony

Shira Anthony’s “Encore” Gets A Standing Ovation



“Information is not knowledge. Knowledge is not wisdom. Wisdom is not truth. Truth is not beauty. Beauty is not love. Love is not music. Music is THE BEST”– Frank Zappa


Why haven’t I read more books by Shira Anthony? Who is responsible for letting me get away with only ever reading one other book by her? You will be found and subjected to the proper punishment. This book was GREAT. I was a touch concerned because the only other Shira book I had read was the first in this series, but this one totally stood alone.

We meet Roger Nelson and John Fuchs in this story. It was a wonderful, angst, scary, fun, frustrating journey with them that spanned over thirty years. They meet when Roger was the cool kid in the orchestra in high school. I didn’t know such a thing existed, but Shira Anthony wrote him that way and made it believable. He played the violin. In moved John from a private school his parents could no longer afford because they had gotten divorced.
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