Thursday, 22 June 2017

My Harlequin Experience - The Darkness Within



If you ask anyone who knows me about the kind of movies I like to drag them to, they’ll tell you Romantic Comedy or Action flick. If you ask them what kind of books I like to read- they may roll their eyes and say something like, “Duh, Romance.” It’s who I am. A lover of romance. A lover of light, happily-ever-after stories where the characters don’t suffer extensively within the story, but have gone through just enough  turmoil in their lives for the story to have been one of a person who has actually lived a full life.
I watched the movie with my
eyes closed.

I’m not a fan of thrillers or horrors (books or movies) although every once in a while I’ll go to see a thriller, but never alone. Why? Because I find that life is not an easy thing to go through, and when I enter the world of fiction I like to escape into happy, beatuiful places. As the group REM put it – Shiny happy people hold hands.

And then I met Debbie Christiana, Jami Gray, and bloggers like Brazen Babes Review who introduced me to the dark side of romance. And I liked it. Urban fantasy and paranormal are now two of my favorite sub-genres. But I also fell in love with darker contemporary romance where I shuddered at what the hero or heroine had overcome to get the point in the life where we met them.

How much in love with the dark side did I fall? So far that my subconscious didn’t realize it was writing a dark romance until the very first editor I encountered at Harlequin, the one who snagged me into the Kimani family, pointed it out to me.

When I submitted my first draft of A Perfect Caress (then called The Dream Maker), it was a little dark. Romantic— yes. Hopeful— yes. Happily-ever-after­­— definitely. But dark, as in where in the world did I get the idea to torture my heroine so grievously?

In the first draft Lanelle was an only child whose parents had died in a car accident when she was a teenager. She was taken in by her mother’s best friend who had once promised her mother that she’d take care of Lanelle if something happened because there was no one else to do it. Although her new guardian cared for her, Lanelle never felt the same kind of love she showed her own children, which made her miss her own parents even more.

When one of her male high school classmate gave her attention, she fell into it and translated it as love. They were married right out of high school and that’s when their relationship changed. He became physically and psychologically abusive and alienated her from everyone she knew. Her best friend Toshia refused to be driven away and stayed by her side the whole time, encouraging her to leave the man. Six months pregnant, Lanelle decided to finally leave him.

On the day she was leaving her husband confronted her and shot her in the belly right before he shot himself in the head. She survived, but her babies and her uterus didn’t.
Yeah that was dark. I won’t even get into the numerous ways she tried to kill herself due to extreme depression before she found her calling as a nurse or that she’d decorated her home in various shades of gray.

If you read A Perfect Caress today (which I hope you will), that is not the story you’ll experience. Kimani stories have depth, but not darkness (at least not as dark as I had initially taken the story) and that’s okay because I love the way a Perfect Caress turned out. Are Lanelle and Dante’s lives all bubbles and lollypops? No because they have lived their lives, made their mistakes, and have come out stronger because of it.

Do you like a bit of darkness in your stories?










Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Spotlight and Giveaway: He Takes the Cake by J. Lynn Rowan




GENRE: Contemporary romance

J. Lynn Rowan is giving away a $20 Amazon/BN GC.

BLURB:

Life is good for Tess Gardiner: Her Savannah, Georgia, bakery and cafe is thriving. She’s earned Master Pastry Chef status from the American Culinary Federation. And she’s attending a regional culinary convention in Charleston, where she’s been invited to sit on a small business panel discussion. The opportunity to tout her success will, hopefully, lead to bigger and better things in her professional life. As for her personal life? The relative contentedness she’s enjoyed for years receives a sudden jolt when she comes face to face with Tyler Brinks, the ex-boyfriend she summarily dismissed from her life eight years ago.

Tyler’s success as a highly-trained chef has launched him into the stratosphere. He already owns one ridiculously successful restaurant, and he’s aggressively working on plans for a second. But he’s never quite gotten over Tess, and he’s never really been sure what actually went wrong between them. So when a pastry and baking competition is announced for the week following the culinary convention in Charleston, Ty jumps at the chance to tempt Tess with the challenge of being his partner, giving him the perfect opportunity to remind her how good they once were together.


As the competition heats up in the kitchen, it soon becomes clear to Tess that Ty has more than cream puffs and cupcakes on his mind. And she can’t deny that her feelings for Ty never truly cooled, but have been simmering all these years, despite the way their relationship ended. Now Ty’s attention has her wondering—is this just the path to final closure? Or could this be a second chance at true love?

Excerpt:

If Ty’s thinking about the same incidents that lead to our breakup, he doesn’t let on. “Only about a year or so. It . . . wasn’t what I thought it would be.”

“I see.” Though I don’t, especially given his own slight stumble for words. “Where’d you go in the interim?”

He relaxes a bit and takes a sip of espresso. “New York for a little while, working as a sous chef in a Midtown restaurant. That let me save up for Le Cordon Bleu.”

His dream.

I smile, sincerely happy he’d made it come true. “Were you able to go to Paris?”

“No,” he says with a short laugh. “But Ottawa was close enough. My mom wanted me to try and get into the program in Atlanta, but I wanted the international experience. So Canada it was.”

I make a noncommittal sound and lift my cup again. “Then you settled on Charleston to open your first restaurant.”

“Well, it wasn’t a direct route from getting my Grand Diploma to opening On the Brink.”

“Nice name, by the way,” I quip, arching a brow at him.

He leans forward. “Says the woman who named her own business after herself.”

I give into the impulse to stick my tongue out at him. “At least mine rhymes. And we’re not talking about me.”

“Not yet, anyway.”

“But you’re opening a place in Hilton Head. Does that mean you’re moving there, too?”

Ty shrugs. “I’ll probably have to do a little back and forth for a while. Can’t exactly be the head chef at two restaurants at the same time.”

There’s the opening I need to hint at the topic I’m really curious about. “Won’t the back and forth thing make it hard for . . . your girlfriend?”

For a moment, he freezes, recognizing by my tone that I’m fishing for information. “I don’t have a girlfriend.”

“Really?” I force nonchalant surprise, if that’s even a thing, into my voice. “Guy like you, I’d think you’d have women falling all over themselves to be with you.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” he asks, brows lowering and a look of hurt defensiveness playing in his eyes.

I wasn’t expecting that sort of reaction from him. Again, I fumble for words. “Smart, successful, funny, sexy—”

My hand flies up to cover my mouth, but it’s too late. Ty stares at me for a few seconds before he busts out laughing.

“I didn’t mean that I think you’re sexy,” I insist, dropping my hand.

His laughter subsides to internal chuckles. “It’s okay, Tess. I know I’m irresistible, even to you.”

“That’s not—”

“For the record, I still think the same of you.” He sounds like he’s teasing, but a flash of something serious passes between us as his gaze softens.

My retort dies in my throat, coming out as a choked snort instead.



Author Bio:

J. Lynn Rowan started writing stories as a small child, usually starring her favorite cartoon characters. Most of her work through middle and high school was filled with typical teenage angst and melodrama, and usually mirrored the books she loved to read. But eventually she found her own author’s voice and decided to seriously pursue a writing career.

Historical fiction remains J. Lynn’s “first love”, but she has enjoyed the journey to becoming an author of romance and chick lit. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, the Central New York Romance Writers, and the Historical Novel Society. She is also a teacher who tries to instill a love of learning, reading, and writing in her students.

When she’s not writing, J. Lynn enjoys travelling, gardening poorly but enthusiastically, studying various topics in American history for her own expertise, and channeling Julia Child every time she steps into the kitchen.

A native of Oswego, NY, she now lives in Charlotte, NC, with her own Romantic Hero of a husband and their little rainbow, affectionately known as Babycakes.



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Thursday, 15 June 2017

My Harlequin Experience


For the next three Original Nana posts I’m going to tell you about my experience when it came to signing with Harlequin Kimani (I’m pretty sure I’m supposed to add trademark symbols in there somewhere). I’m not going the traditional route and informing you about the submission process, the contract, editorial process, etc. No. I’d like to tell you about the changes I made to my first book with them, A Perfect Caress.

My experience with Harlequin has been interesting and enlightening. Enough for me to sign a contract with them for two more books in the series. Yay!

When I first signed with Harlequin I sent the following message to my good friend and fellow author: “I’ve sold my soul to Harlequin.” I didn’t say it with a joyous grin on my face either. One of the biggest publishers in the world is a demanding boss and when they sign you they want to bring out the best you can offer. This is a freaking lot of work. I mean a what the f^*k did I get myself into kind of situation. Especially in the beginning when you’re asked to make changes – lots of changes. Yes the changes made the story, better, but it was still a lot of work.


And then when things calmed down and I found myself in a friendly creative space all I could do was smile because I was a f^*king Harlequin author. Yes the road is difficult and like any relationship I had to give and take, but in the end it has been one of the best experiences of my life.

The Blurb
From the very first touch… 

The moment suave businessman Dante Sanderson brushes hands with Lanelle Murphy, he can't get her out of his head. The guarded beauty resists all of his polished attempts at seduction. To soften the pain in her past, she's dedicated her life and family fortune to helping others, not chasing sexy millionaires like Dante.

Something about Lanelle makes Dante want to open his heart like never before. He knows their encounters are destiny. Lanelle is sure their sparks mean another heartache is in the making. Yet her cherished new project—a state-of-the-art neonatal unit—brings them together. From charity ball dances to strolls in Milan, desire pushes her…right into his arms. But will Lanelle be able to seize this sweet second chance at love? 

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Constantine, Prah and Baryeh Review: Second Chance Marquess (Second Chance #1) by Jessica Jefferson


I hope everyone is enjoying the warm almost summer days and are getting the chance to read and relax. This month we went back in time with a Regency romance. Make sure to check out what Constantine and Baryeh thought about the book.


The Blurb
A beautifully told Regency tale about second chances for love....

When Wilhelmina Turner’s younger sister runs off with a young Lothario, she has no choice but to turn to the notorious rake who broke his promise and her heart, for assistance. George Bartlett, the Marquess of Chesterton, hasn’t forgotten the woman who hurt him so many years ago, but can’t deny her request, knowing that his brother’s reputation and fortune is at risk. A series of misfortunes leave the straight-laced widow and committed bachelor stranded, sharing both close quarters and old secrets. But when morning comes, will this unlikely pair find a second chance at love? 

My Review
There’s nothing like young love, until it crashes, burns, gets a man shot and leaves a woman struggling for life. If that sounds dramatic then I did the book justice because the story was filled with action, intrigue, and pure romance.

Wilhelmina is unable to let go of the lessons she’d learned at the hands of George when they were younger. Yes she’d fallen in love with him, but she’s also grown harder when things didn’t work out between them. George ended up living a miserable, empty, although still wealthy life when they broke up. As I read the story I wondered what would have caused them to split when they’d been so in love. The reasons satisfied me (but I won’t share them with you because I don’t do spoilers).
In the end it turned out to be a wonderful romance, not just because of the happily-ever-after but because they’d both grown along the way.

I give this book five out five carriage shaped chocolate bars.


I purchased this book from Amazon

Monday, 12 June 2017

Review: This Crazy Paradise by Aziza Eden Walker


The Blurb
It takes a divorce for psychologist Dr Onele Dlamini to realise she wants to write steamy love stories. She’s given herself one month on a Greek-style resort on the West Coast of South Africa in which to prove she can do it. Daniel Lindo is the red-hot workman who arrives to fix her roof and ask for her help with his insomnia – over another woman. Onele really, really shouldn’t play therapist here, but she’s curious... there is more to this man’s past than meets the eye.

Is Daniel the cure for Onele’s writer’s block? Or will she find the truth is not quite as it seems in this crazy paradise?


My review
I enjoyed the romantic journey Ms. Walker took me on to South Africa and London. What’s not to like? Warm weather, parties, meeting a stranger and falling in love- all good times.

Onele travelled to South Africa in order to help her create a new life, as a writer. Instead she ends up using her therapy skills in an unofficial capacity to help a man who is suffering from insomnia. He ends up helping her as much as she does him.

Onele and Daniel share an exciting romance which unbeknownst to them started before they were even introduced to each other. The lighthearted joy between them doesn’t last because Daniel has a secret and eventually does something that had me gasping and upset with him.

This was a lovely read.

I was given a copy of this book for an honest review.


I give this book four out of five fish shaped chocolate bars.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

My New Harlequin Contract

I have fantastic news. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it or not because I tend to sit on great news until I can actually see them happening. Last year December I was offered and signed a contract with Harlequin Kimani for two more books. (Giggling and happy dancing – yes, still).

The two books will involve Lanelle Astacio’s brothers from A Perfect Caress. Miguel – her younger brother who loves the limelight is featured in book two. While her tough as nails older brother, Leonardo, stars in book three. I introduced both of them in A Perfect Caress, but you got to actually meet the debonair Miguel when he came to help Lanelle out at her fundraiser for the hospital.

The brothers are as different as apples and oranges, but they’re wonderful in their own ways (as a hero should be). And of course the heroines are fantastic, because my heroines can be nothing less.

Book two is scheduled for release early 2018 (but I have a feeling and fingers crossed that it'll be released by the end of this year- I hate having my fans go so long without a new release from me). If you haven’t read A Perfect Caress it isn’t too late. Heck, it will never be too late because all three books can be read as a stand alone.


So congratulations to me on a two book contract! 

Monday, 5 June 2017

It's all about destiny - Sale, Audio book, and Website.

Hi Everyone,
   I just wanted to mention the book sale on all of the books in the Destiny Series. You have up until June 6th to get all four books in the series for 99 cents (or pence) each.

Midwife to Destiny is on audio. Yay! Destiny Mine, the second book in the series, is in the process of being recorded to audio - it won't be long now.

The last bit of news is that I have a new website. A nice and simple domain for those who already know me by name. www.nanaprah.com    
Stop by when you get the chance and check it out. A huge thanks to Love Bites and Silk who made the process painless by setting up the site for me.

Happy reading.
Amazon US
Amazon UK



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