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So … This Is Awkward. I Need Help. (Please)

Hi friends! … So, a few things. I’ve been slightly more close mouthed and cagey about it this time. (I know, I know, you’re going “what? You? Quiet about anything?!”) … So there is that. But uh … I’m not even sure when this will be going live, or where I’ll be … (please Jesus God in Heaven let me be home by this time, not in the hospital or a rehab facility) … but I probably won’t be lucid. Anyway – I’m having major surgery. Major.

The last time I had to have this done, I was in the hospital almost nine days. I also almost literally died. … And then I “just” wanted to die. So yeah.

And … now we get to the even more awkward part. (God can it get even more awkward? … Sadly, yes.)

I need help. Monetary, mostly, to be honest. I’m going to be out of work for more than three months, and without pay. I guess the positive is I’ll still have my sad little job to go back to once I’m a bit more on my feet … but having no income while at the same time racking up major medical expenses is unfortunately putting me in a really difficult situation.

And … then there’s the other also awkward part. You might remember last time (and unfortunately I’m actually still recovering from it…) … there was also a GFM for me. That was done by Ashley March/Elise Rome. She wanted to help me out and suggested staring a campaign for me, and asking if I’d be ok with it. I was touched, and thanked her. Well … things didn’t go quite as expected and she kept most of the funds for over a year. She has started sending some more of the money as of this year, which I really appreciate.

I’m not actually trying to shame her – I really simply want to explain what happened last time – why I’m asking for “yet more money” and such. Although to be honest all of that was gone/already spent on medical things before it would’ve even ever gotten to me. If that makes sense. Everything is a muddle.

The point is, if you could find it in your hearts and wallets to donate to me … I can’t tell you how much it’d mean to me, or how much I need it. I’m embarrassed, mortified, sick with … shame and need, but there you have it. My needs are greater than my pride.

https://www.gofundme.com/help-limecello 

If you can’t afford to give, which I absolutely understand, I’d ask that you please share the campaign to reach greater numbers. 

Thank you all so much for your kindness and support. 

All my love.

[Limecello]

From the Owners of Love’s Sweet Arrow

Hey all! So Marissa emailed the site “Hello!” about the Kickstarter for Love’s Sweet Arrow … which was unfortunately unsuccessful but they persevered and decided to open anyway! Also, she and her mother eventually sent other articles … so here we are though! Today is the grand opening of Love’s Sweet Arrow, and this is what Marissa and Roseann sent!

From Roseann:

It all started last summer, the lottery was up to some really high millions and millions, and as people are won’t to play when it gets really high, we all start dreaming! Well our dream was, we would open a Romance Exclusive Bookstore, well, we did not win. However once a seed starts to take hold, the dream becomes a reality. So for a couple of months we kicked around ideas, brainstormed, had a lot of back and forth discussions with family and decided to do it!

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Guest Author Lorelie Brown on the Book that Took Six Years to Write

As a reader there is nothing I love more than a trilogy or series I can really invest myself in. Knowing that I’ll be able to revisit characters or settings over multibook arcs make me giddy with joy! Sometimes life grabs us by the throat and enough things go awry to the point where the author may not be able to deliver that next installment as quickly as we readers may want. We’re very grateful to author Lorelie Brown for sharing with us a piece of her journey as she completed the third book in her Wayworth Academy series, A Too Suitable Duchess, which will be delivered to e-readers everywhere on June 14th!

Book cover for A Too Suitable Duchess by Lorelie Brown

Some books are invigorating to write. Some are more of a slog. A Too Suitable Duchess, the book I have coming out on June 14th was a weird beast. I originally started it in 2013. Yup, you read that right. Six full years ago. It was a fairly normal book at first. The usual stuff to work through, plot, motivation, you know it. I wouldn’t have called it either invigorating or a slog at first.

And then my life circumstances changed in a pretty big way. Problem number one. I concentrated on writing 200 words a day, something to keep my toes in. The book started to feel like a slog. Victoria and Spencer felt like gentle pandas who I was trying to make mate. They were too nice. I like to write characters who are complicated and friendly, but these two had taken it too far. They also had this annoying tendency to talk reasonably and not hold grudges.

It made the sagging middle…well, REALLY sag.Book cover for Wayward One by Lorelie Brown Continue reading

Guest Author Anna Kashina on Romance in Blade Fights + An Exclusive Excerpt of Shadowblade AND a Giveaway!

Hi friends! You might know that [adult] high fantasy romance is totally “my thing.” So when Anna Kashina contacted me about reviewing her upcoming book I was first, pretty starstruck, then [pretty immediately] was like “DOES IT FEATURE ADULT CHARACTERS AND IS THERE ROMANCE?!” And when she answered “yes” I was like “WOULD YOU BE WILLING TO BE A GUEST AT ALBTALBS?!!?” And she said yes!!! So here we are! I’m so excited to welcome Anna Kashina today! Her newest book Shadowblade is out today!

Romance in blade fights

There are two things I find irresistible in fantasy novels. One is a good romantic subplot, well balanced and integral to the story. The other is a good blade fight – especially the kind with a lot of cool technique behind it. It’s an additional bonus – as well as a challenge – to make these fights emotionally gripping, as well as being technically cool. But if one manages to achieve all this, there is only one more step to the ultimate prize: to combine the two, using blade fights as a tool to advance the romance. It’s so rewarding when it’s done well.

I am a sucker for a dark and dangerous male lead with a morally complex character. A superb swordsman, trained to become an elite assassin, in my mind, cannot fail as a romantic hero. In my books, I love to match these kind of guys with strong women who can stand up to them, and have hidden strengths of their own. When developing these characters and their relationships, a sword fight can become more engaging than a love scene, and so much more effective in showing off their strengths and limitations, as well as their morally complex sides. Continue reading

SAPAHM Post: Amara Royce Discusses Helen Hoang’s The Kiss Quotient

Hi friends, so it’s a guest review, I suppose is the best way to describe it. I’m thrilled that Amara Royce contributed this post, and as you might know, Hoang’s next book The Bride Test is now out! (Amara sent me this post on the 4th.)

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
Contemporary romance released by Berkley on June 8, 2018

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang book cover

A heartwarming and refreshing debut novel that proves one thing: there’s not enough data in the world to predict what will make your heart tick.

Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases—a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.

It doesn’t help that Stella has Asperger’s and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice—with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can’t afford to turn down Stella’s offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan—from foreplay to more-than-missionary position…

Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but crave all of the other things he’s making her feel. Their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic…

I generally don’t write reviews of the books I read, not even on Amazon or Goodreads. So I’m not going to try to be clever, and  I can’t guarantee I will be entirely coherent. But I cannot help gushing about this book effusively! I can’t adequately express how much I adore this book—and its author, Helen Hoang, for writing it! I’m also squee-ing because her next book is due out for release on May 7th!!
Hoang’s The Kiss Quotient truly wrecked me in all the best ways. I loved the main characters and many of the supporting characters. I adored the depiction of the female main character Stella’s subjective autistic perspective, as well as the male main character Michael’s handling of the heroine without realizing she’s on the autism spectrum. I adored the depictions of Michael’s family life, especially his mother. I adored the integral issues of consent, and I want everyone to read this book! That’s what the tl;dr boils down to, but for more details, keep reading.

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SAPAHM Guest: Ekaterine Xia On the Portrayal of Mothers … and then Confucius!

Hi friends! I’m glad to welcome back Ekaterine Xia to ALBTALBS! She’s going to be out APAHM hero this year, and has written other really thoughtful posts before, which  I hope you’ll check out of you missed them. (Lime, WTF are all those letters and what do they mean? SAPAHM = Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Heritage Month!) So without further ado… another incredible post by Ekaterine!

On the Portrayal of Mothers … and Confucius!

I have mommy issues.

Specifically, I have issues with how mothers are portrayed in fiction, particularly science fiction and fantasy.

Even within Romancelandia, SFFR has a lot of mommy issues. Contemporary does much better, and I have to ask if it’s because contemporary wasn’t influenced by men and their favorite tropes in the same way science fiction and fantasy romance was.

It took me a long time to put that niggling unease into concrete examples, but once you start the list, things start to look pretty bad really quickly. Continue reading

“Desperately” Seeking: [Privately] Pierced Heroes

Hi friends! So … usually these posts are OMG I WANT/NEED THEM NOW! But … this one happened because of twitter. If you follow me you might know periodically I tweet [kindle] freebies and books on sale. It’s ~scary out there in bookworld now (so much to eventually talk about…) but anyway – so these lists are more and more curtailed – but! This was one I’d read before and enjoyed:

Rock Me by Cherrie Lynn book coverAt the time, Rock Me by Cherrie Lynn was free for kindle. Anyway, this was the tweet that set it off – and people began listing other books, but I’m in recovery and this didn’t happen as quickly as I’d like so… whatever. Good news, Maneuver by Chelle Bliss (I haven’t read/finished this one yet) also has a pierced hero.

I want to say this was a “trend” that was pretty popular in the late 00s/early 10s but it seems to be less common now. I know there are more but these are the books off the top of my head I remember… and some crowdsourced from conversations where people gave me permission to use their replies. 🙂 Continue reading

Teaser “Tuesday” Exclusive Excerpt: Played by Beverley Kendall

Hi friends! So I know it isn’t Tuesday, but whatever! It’s the same deal. 😀 And – we have a new release TT Feature today! Played just came out on the 25th! Beverley Kendall was kind enough to share an exclusive with ALBTALBS, so I hope you enjoy it! Congratulations on your newest release, Beverley! And y’all – read the whole post for a freebie at the end! 😉

Played by Beverley Kendall book coverThe summer Josh and I got together, we agreed to keep things strictly physical.

And it was.

Until our casual hookups stopped feeling casual.
Having sex with him stopped being just about sex.
And the thought of calling a halt to it left me feeling empty and cold.

But Josh doesn’t “do” relationships, so I called it quits before I started to fall. Luckily, I was able to move on from the experience completely unscathed, my heart fully intact.

Or so I thought.

Until I saw him again.

His arm was wrapped around her. And unlike me, she isn’t a hookup or a “booty” call.

No, she’s the girlfriend he told me he didn’t want. And she’s getting from him everything he’d said he couldn’t give any girl.

So it turns out that Josh isn’t averse to being in a relationship after all. He simply hadn’t wanted to be in a relationship with me.

Exclusive Excerpt

I’m in the zone, my muscles looser, my breathing even and my emotions calmer when the chirping of my cell phone sounds. It’s on the dresser where I left it, too far and inconvenient to warrant me getting up to answer it. I let the call go to voicemail.

Not even ten seconds after it stops ringing, it starts again. Continue reading

Teaser Tuesday Exclusive Excerpt: The Austen Playbook by Lucy Parker

Hi friends! I played around with what day to post this, as Lucy Parker sent me this post on the 7th … but I figure the day after release is good, and we already have that graphic I made ages ago. 😛

Anyway! I’m really excited to read this book. I quite enjoyed Pretty Face and I’ve had Making Up in my TBR. The Austen Playbook is obviously slated too. 😀 I’m super excited that Lucy sent this exclusive excerpt for us to enjoy, so without further ado … the book!

The Austen Playbook by Lucy Parker book coverIn which experienced West End actress Freddy Carlton takes on an Austen-inspired play, a scandal at a country estate, an enthusiastic search for a passion outside of acting…and the (some people might say icy*) heart of London’s most feared theater critic.

*if those people were being nice

Freddy Carlton knows she should be focusing on her lines for The Austen Playbook, a live-action TV event where viewers choose the outcome of each scene, but her concentration’s been blown. The palatial estate housing the endeavor is now run by the rude (brilliant) critic who’s consistently slammed her performances of late. James “Griff” Ford-Griffin has a penchant for sarcasm, a majestic nose and all the sensitivity of a sledgehammer.

She can’t take her eyes off him.

Griff can hardly focus with a contagious joy fairy flitting about near him, especially when Freddy looks at him like that. His only concern right now should be on shutting down his younger brother’s well-intentioned (disastrous) schemes—or at the very least on the production (not this one) that might save his family home from the banks.

Instead all he can think of is soft skin and vibrant curls.

As he’s reluctantly dragged into her quest to rediscover her passion for the stage and Freddy is drawn into his research on a legendary theater star, the adage about appearances being deceiving proves abundantly true. It’s the unlikely start of something enormous…but a single revelation about the past could derail it all.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Freddy glanced at him, then away. “Fortunately, most people in the West End aren’t like Sadie. She’s in a class of her own.” In the interests of honesty, she added, “She’s, like, next-level talented, though. I was twelve when I worked with her for the first time, and I still remember being literally speechless with awe watching her.” Continue reading

Team ALBTALBS TBR Challenge Review: Crashed Out by Tessa Bailey

Crashed Out (Made in Jersey #1) by Tessa Bailey
Contemporary romance published December 7, 2015, by Entangled: Brazen

Crashed Out by Tessa Bailey book coverJasmine Taveras is the reason Sarge Purcell grabbed his six-string and bailed the hell out of New Jersey four years ago. She’s the fuel for every song he’s ever written-each one laced with bitter, hard-edged, hungry lust. Now, with his hugely successful band on temporary hiatus, Sarge is determined to prove to Jasmine that he’s turned into every inch the man she’s always needed…

Men are slim pickings for a single factory girl in Hook, New Jersey…until tall, broad-shouldered hotness walks—or rather storms—into Jasmine’s life. Sarge’s return shouldn’t affect her this way. He’s her best friend’s much younger brother, and the kind of rough, gritty, sexiness Jasmine has no right to taste for herself. Even if he lets her.

But lust is a blinding, insatiable force. And when it crashes, it will take both Sarge and Jasmine down with it…

I read Crashed Out for the April TBR Challenge—Something Different. I hoped for a fun read based on the premise of this book. Older woman/younger man, best friend’s little brother, and a rock star romance?! Unfortunately I’m disappointed. Very sexy but I wanted more conversations between Jasmine and Sarge about who they were and what they saw in each other, not just dirty talk. The story seemed very superficial and I wasn’t in the mood to accept two or three days of fabulous sex and a couple “grand gestures” was enough for Jasmine to fall in love with Sarge. Continue reading

Review: Once Ghosted, Twice Shy by Alyssa Cole

Once Ghosted, Twice Shy by Alyssa Cole
Contemporary romance novellas released by Avon on January 8, 2019

Once Ghosted, Twice Shy by Alyssa Cole book coverWhile her boss the prince was busy wooing his betrothed, Likotsi had her own love affair after swiping right on a dating app. But her romance had ended in heartbreak, and now, back in NYC again, she’s determined to rediscover her joy—so of course she runs into the woman who broke her heart.

When Likotsi and Fabiola meet again on a stalled subway train months later, Fab asks for just one cup of tea. Likotsi, hoping to know why she was unceremoniously dumped, agrees. Tea and food soon leads to them exploring the city together, and their past, with Fab slowly revealing why she let Likotsi go, and both of them wondering if they can turn this second chance into a happily ever after.

This is a lovely novella in the world of the Reluctant Royals series. It’s a second chance romance between Likotsi and Fabiola. They find each other again unexpectedly when they both have a day off and end up spending the day together in New York City. The story alternates between present day (their day together in NYC) and when they were together before. It’s adorable and broke my heart a few times. Continue reading