Release Day Guest Author Maya Tyler on The Meet-Cute Point of View + An Exclusive Excerpt

Hi friends! I’m excited to welcome Maya Tyler to ALBTALBS! She emailed a while back asking if anyone was interested in reviewing her newest book (look for that sometime), and I responded with “and how about a guest post too?! 😁” And here we are! Everyone give Maya a warm welcome!

The Meet-Cute Point of View by Maya Tyler

Thank you, Limecello and A Little Bit Tart, A Little Bit Sweet, for inviting me to visit on Release Day for Designed by Destiny, my 7th published title.

I embarked on my publishing journey in 2014, and I’m sure you “hear” this all the time, but being a writer—especially a published writer—was a lifelong dream of mine. I just want to write. (Think to the tune of The Flash theme song “I Just Wanna Run” because that’s what I’m humming.)

I’ve planned an “old school” release for Designed by Destiny with two book tours, additional guest posts, and several book spotlights. I want to get my book in front of as many readers as I can because it’s a great story. A classic fake relationship trope with my own personal twist. My couple have the assistance of a fairy godmother as they navigate their fake-turned-real relationship. Continue reading

Native American/First Nations/Indigenous Romance Authors

Hi friends! November is National Native American Heritage Month!

If you’re new to A Little Bit Tart, A Little Bit Sweet (ALBTALBS) I used to have guests. Now, every year I post a list. I’m so excited to have a number of new names to added this year! Most of them have been published they’re [simply] new to me – though there’s nothing simply about it. I’m thrilled to see this number growing, and more books to look into.

Xio Axelrod
Maggie Blackbird
Marcella Bell
Christina Berry
Isobel Carr/Kalen Hughes
Pamela Clare
Robin Covington
Kari Lynn Dell
Cynthia Eden
Yasmine Galenorn
T. J. Michaels
V. S. Nelson
Alex Powell
Sharon Sala
Pamela Sanderson
Cynthia Leitich Smith (YA)
Dee Tenorio
Kristine Wyllys

As always if you fall under this umbrella and want me to add you, or know someone who could/should be added, please let me know! (And on the flip side, if you want to be removed, let me know that as well.) … Also I know at least one of the authors is Canadian – but you know, North America. (I’m still not quite sure how to split or not split international authors …)

Are You Scared? (Do You Wanna Be?)

Editor’s Note: Hi friends! So Dave actually sent me this post last year 🙃 but I didn’t get it posted prior to surgery, and … well, if you’ve ever recovered from major surgery I think you know basically continuing to breathe takes all your focus and energy. Anyway. Here we are a year later, and with Halloween right here, we’ve got some “scary” book recs for you.

This post is supposed to be about a book. Specifically, a collection of gothic horror. The New York Public Library defines gothic horror as “the battle between humanity and unnatural forces of evil…with an oppressive, inescapable, and bleak landscape.” It’s the stuff of haunted mansions (Shirley Jackson), ghosts (Susan Hill), and supernatural creatures (Bram Stoker). That wasn’t this book. 

There was no sense of foreboding or dread. There were no chills or scares. But then I had to ask myself, “Is it me?” Would someone else who isn’t a fan of horror novels, comics, and movies enjoy this more? Perhaps. Or did I not enjoy it because the horrors we’ve faced for the past year and a half are far scarier than anything I could read? Perhaps. It’s for these reasons that I’ll refrain from naming the book.

But it got me thinking what is scary or frightening? What makes me turn on the lamp while reading or even makes me put down the book? It is of course different for every person. I have a friend terrified of clowns, my wife is petrified of snakes, I detest daddy-long-leg spiders aka cellar spiders. Vile long-legged ticks is what they are. But I digress. Whether it’s clowns or snakes or walking ticks we all have that thing that sends chills down our spine.

Here are ten books that might make you stop reading and put on a Hallmark Christmas movie because the book has begun to haunt you and you need a change. Continue reading

Really Super Late Not TBR Review: on Carter’s Flame by Tiffany Patterson and The Story of Yanxi Palace.

To be honest, I had thought I had a review on hand for October … but it turned out to be not a review. And then I haven’t felt like I’ve been reading much lately. Some good books but more books that were just okay in that I wasn’t mad I read them but … I don’t know that I’d recommend them widely. I have however, but re-reading a lot of books this year … and recently began another binge re-watch of The Story of Yanxi Palace. This … very well may be my seventh (if not more) rewatch. Granted certain parts I forward through – but it’s an intensive experience.
Anyway, the October suggested prompt was “Flirting with Danger” … and I thought about it for a bit, and felt like the closest recent book I’ve read, or more accurately re-read would be Carter’s Flame by Tiffany Patterson. Although I think it’s more a straight contemporary romance than a romantic suspense. The hero is former special forces, and currently a firefighter working in the rescue squad. He meets the heroine when he rescues her from her car after a crash.
Carter and Michelle are great. Michelle is a single mother, and Carter goes all in on having a built in family. If you like really possessive alpha heroes, than Tiffany Patterson will be your new catnip. I personally love smitten heroes, so when I first discovered Tiffany Patterson’s book, I literally read her entire backlist in one go. (At the time it was a little over 30 books and I think it took me about three to four weeks.) What I like about her heroes is that they’re smitten and jealous, possessive but not controlling. They’re very “hey back off my woman, asshole” … but they don’t try to control her. For her part, Michelle “flirts with danger” because the father of her son is someone … well, it’s a spoiler but not a major factor – someone she thought she was in a relationship with, but she was actually his sidepiece. (She was only 19, he was a predator. She was vulnerable and obviously young. Thee ex provides for her son in paying for the tuition of his very expensive private school… and that’s it – however he threatens her with withdrawing that support or worse taking custody if she dates anyone else. This actually really annoyed me because it would be highly unlikely for a court to take away a child from his sole custodial parent, but it becomes a whole thing. I get the drama but I irked me. While this isn’t my area of legal practice, I know more about it than the average [legal] bear. Carter’s “flirting with danger” is pretty obvious what with running into burning buildings and such.
For the relationship itself, there’s very little danger. Like I said, Carter (and most Patterson heroes) are all in once they meet their loves/are ready for a relationship, and they will systematically destroy any barrier to it.
As for The Story of Yanxi Palace … it’s a Chinese historical drama set during the Qing dynasty. The heroine is a palace maid set on revenge, and honestly her entire life is just careening from one danger to another. She’s very bold, angry and petty in the best ways … and smart. She can’t stand injustice and is so steadfast. Yingluo is crafty but also lucky. Help comes when it’s most needed, but things are not easy for her – at all. It’s probably my favorite series ever though, so I’ve rewatched it a number of times since first seeing it. I watched it shortly after it first came out … I know Ilona Andrews watched it (I think some time in 2019 and blogged about it but for the life of me I can’t find details now…) Anyway the fact that it has a happy ending is a big part of why I like it so much. And I’ve a vengeful bitch so playing the long revenge game is something I respect. Fully.
Here’s the cover and back cover copy of Carter’s Flame if you’re interested.

Carter's Flame by Tiffany Patterson book coverI was born into a world of wealth and privilege. My birthright was to be at the helm of one of the world’s leading energy companies. But that wasn’t my purpose in life. Sitting behind a desk of a fortune 500 isn’t what gets me going. I’ll leave that life to my brothers. No. It took me years to find my true purpose. Saving lives. Walking into the depths of hell to pull out survivors. It’s what gets me out of my bed in the morning, and eventually, it’s what led me to her.
On a day that, to her, must’ve seemed like the wrong place and wrong time, is where I met my destiny. Michelle Clarke. Our worlds collided and I knew instantly that she was mine. Everything in my life up until this point has been preparing me for her.
My childhood.
The eight years I spent in special forces.
And the last six years spent as a proud member of the Williamsport Fire Department’s Rescue 4 squad.
All of it was preparation for her. And nothing, not her reluctance, not my brother, and not even her son’s father will stand in the way of what belongs to me. My job is to rescue people and put out fires, but I will set anyone who stands in our way, ablaze. I will happily pour the gasoline and light the match and set all of this shit aflame, just to ensure she is where she belongs … with me.

And if you’re interested …

Here’s a link to start you out on Yanxi Palace. From what I’ve seen of it the translations are overall quite good. This is actually my first time watching the series with English subtitles. There are a few things I’d quibble about but all told they aren’t that serious. And they’re much better than many others I’ve seen generally. (Definitely whatever was put up on Amazon Prime is some like terrible bootleg version.)

Anyway I’d love if more of you read Tiffany Patterson and watched Yanxi Palace because I have things to discuss.

Review: How to Find a Princess by Alyssa Cole

How to Find a Princess (Runaway Royals Book 2) by Alyssa Cole
Contemporary romance released by Avon on May 25, 2021

How to Find a Princess by Alyssa Cole book coverAlyssa Cole’s second Runaway Royals novel is a queer Anastasia retelling, featuring a long-lost princess who finds love with the female investigator tasked with tracking her down.
Makeda Hicks has lost her job and her girlfriend in one fell swoop. The last thing she’s in the mood for is to rehash the story of her grandmother’s infamous summer fling with a runaway prince from Ibarania, or the investigator from the World Federation of Monarchies tasked with searching for Ibarania’s missing heir.

Yet when Beznaria Chetchevaliere crashes into her life, the sleek and sexy investigator exudes exactly the kind of chaos that organized and efficient Makeda finds irresistible, even if Bez is determined to drag her into a world of royal duty Makeda wants nothing to do with.

When a threat to her grandmother’s livelihood pushes Makeda to agree to return to Ibarania, Bez takes her on a transatlantic adventure with a crew of lovable weirdos, a fake marriage, and one-bed hijinks on the high seas. When they finally make it to Ibarania, they realize there’s more at stake than just cash and crown, and Makeda must learn what it means to fight for what she desires and not what she feels bound to by duty.

This was a wonderful romp with two very different main characters. I only wish we got to see more of them as a long-standing couple. Readers of this series and the Reluctant Royals series will recognize Beznaria from her appearance in How to Catch a Queen, as well as other characters. I think you can read this book without having read How to Catch a Queen, or the Reluctant Royals series, but you might miss out on a lot of the subplots going on. What This book is told in loosely alternating chapters in Beznaria and Makeda’s voices, and you get a really good sense of their personalities and way of moving through the world. This has become a fairly common way of structuring stories, but not everyone is good a capturing and conveying a character’s voice outside of dialogue, which you need to be able to do in order for this structure to live up to its full potential. Makeda and Beznaria both have a lot going on when they first meet, and much of the book is both of them sorting themselves out and figuring out that they love each other. Both also have complicated families that love them.

Makeda is stuck when the book begins, and a lot of the book is her learning how to break the pattern she is stuck in. She is a fixer, by habit and because it was how she survived an unstable childhood, but her fixing tendencies are mostly externalized, so that she helps other people with their problems–even really little ones. She has realized this by the time Beznaria shows up–Makeda describes Beznaria as having chaos vibes that draw her in. Makeda is eventually swept up by Beznaria, but even so, she figures out how to love Beznaria without fixing her. That’s not to say that everything is great when they arrive in Beznaria’s home country, because they both kept some pretty big secrets from each other that have major consequences. They don’t tell each other these secrets until they’re just about to arrive in Beznaria’s country, but we know them because of how the story is narrated so it isn’t suspenseful in that way. Continue reading

Review: Final Heir by Faith Hunter

Final Heir (Jane Yellowrock #15) by Faith Hunter
Urban fantasy released by Ace on September 6, 2022

The stakes couldn’t be higher in the newest novel in the New York Times bestselling, pulse-pounding Jane Yellowrock series.

Jane Yellowrock is the queen of the vampires, and that makes her a target as she fights to maintain control and keep peace in the city of New Orleans. She has enemies at every turn, because vampires live forever, and they keep their grudges alive with them. That includes the Heir, the vampire sire of the Pellissier bloodline, which gave rise to Leo Pellissier himself—Jane’s old boss and the former master of the city.

With the Heir and all the forces of darkness he can muster arrayed against her, Jane will need all the help she can get. She’ll find it in her city, her friends, her found family, and, of course, the Beast inside of her.

I’ve been reading this series at least since college, if not earlier. I think, but am not sure, this is the last book in the series, based on how it ends; I could be wrong. If it is the end, I think it does a good job of capping off the series, ending it with Jane in a different place than she was as a character, but just as gritty and powerful as she was in the first book. This is definitely not the book to start reading if this series is new to you, because it wraps up plotlines that have extended through many books, so if you weren’t invested in them previously, this is not the point to try. However, if you’re looking for an urban fantasy series that is complete, this is probably a good bet. Jane is the central character in the story, and her relationship with George, her love interest, doesn’t take up a lot of conflict space, the way it did in previous books; the focus here is on Jane and resolving what the last big bad villain wants. Continue reading

Release Day Exclusive Excerpt: Shadow Wizard by Jeffe Kennedy

Hi friends! I’m so excited we’ve got another adult high fantasy romance from Jeffe Kennedy! Congratulations to her on this newest release! She (& her assistant) was also generous enough to share – as it says – an exclusive excerpt of the book with ALBTALBS readers! Hooray!

Spy, manipulator, traitor… He might be her only salvation.

Lady Seliah Phel can’t escape feeling like she’s one of those fairytale princesses awakened from a long slumber—except that her life is no romantic story and there’s no happy ending in sight. Though she has her magic and she’s been rescued from the depths of madness that consumed her since adolescence, Selly finds that the years she lost aren’t so easily recovered. Everyone treats her like the child they remember. To prove something—perhaps only to herself—she’s recklessly volunteered to stave off a host of monsters with only the enigmatically alluring, cuttingly sarcastic, and probably deceitful wizard Jadren El-Adrel for company.

Jadren isn’t the heroic type. In fact, he’s not much of anything. Relentlessly groomed into a shadow of a man by his sadistic mother, he’s the perfect spy and tool, with no real will of his own. When he’s stranded in the wilderness with Seliah Phel, he figures the outcome is immaterial. Live or die, it’s all the same to him. But Seliah is a different story and she isn’t like anyone else. Though he reminds himself she’s basically a child in a woman’s body, he finds it increasingly difficult to resist her artless charms and relentless curiosity.

As their predicament goes from dire to disastrous, Jadren realizes his many failures have jeopardized Selly’s future, perhaps her very life. Far from home and trapped without resources, Selly has only Jadren to rely upon—the one person she can’t possibly trust. There seems no possibility of rescue from their friends and family back home at House Phel, so Jadren and Selly must work together to survive… if they can.

 

Shadow Wizard Excerpt:

Jadren eyed the small clearing Selly had picked out. Yes, it was off the road, reasonably concealed from anyone passing by, and—thankfully—not a bog, which satisfied her major requirements. Nothing else made it look like a place he wanted to spend any time, however. Long ferny plant tendrils draped from the trees, waving in the evening air uncannily like spirits. He’d nearly jumped out of his skin, thinking Elal had sent some sentry spirits after them after all. Continue reading

Team TBR Challenge Review: Oak King Holly King by Sebastian Nothwell

Oak King Holly King by Sebastian Nothwell
Fantasy romance released by Sebastian Nothwell on February 14, 2022

Shrike, the Butcher of Blackthorn, is a legendary warrior of the fae realms. When he wins a tournament in the Court of the Silver Wheel, its queen names him her Oak King – a figurehead destined to die in a ritual duel to invoke the change of seasons. Shrike is determined to survive. Even if it means he must put his heart as well as his life into a mere mortal’s hands.

Wren Lofthouse, a London clerk, has long ago resigned himself to a life of tedium and given up his fanciful dreams. When a medieval-looking brute arrives at his office to murmur of destiny, he’s inclined to think his old enemies are playing an elaborate prank. Still, he can’t help feeling intrigued by the bizarre-yet-handsome stranger and his fantastical ramblings, whose presence stirs up emotions Wren has tried to lock away in the withered husk of his heart.

As Shrike whisks Wren away to a world of Wild Hunts and arcane rites, Wren is freed from the repression of Victorian society. But both the fae and mortal realms prove treacherous to their growing bond. Wren and Shrike must fight side-by-side to see who will claim victory – Oak King or Holly King.

It has been so long since I bought this one that I actually don’t remember why I picked it up, other than I am always a sucker for a good shifter romance. (My assigned theme for this month was “animals” and I’m going to say two characters named after birds one of whom IS a bird is, uh. close enough.) Anyway – love a shifter romance, also love a historical romance, historical + shifter + supernatural shenanigans = autobuy, for me. Also the cover is beautiful. Continue reading

An Ongoing List of Latinx Romance Authors

Hi Friends! It’s Latinx Heritage Month 2022! Or Hispanic Heritage Month.  This is honestly way too nuanced a topic for this intro and I’m definitely not the authority on it. I’m also not equipped to make a determination or discuss. So… I mentioned it a while back but this is the way ALBTALBS  ~celebrates the Smithsonian Heritage Months now. Please find a list of Latinx romance authors below.
(You can also search the blog for guest posts from years past – a few of the authors listed here have written really lovely posts, and/or shared exclusive excerpts from their books.)

Of course this isn’t an exhaustive list – just who I’ve found. I’m trying my best.

And, if you missed them, you can find a list of Black Romance Authors here, as well as a list of APIA Romance Authors.

Lily Anderson
Carmen Baca
Natalie Caña
Sela Carson
Zoey Castile/Zoraida Córdova
Mary Castillo
Rebel Carter
Aleera Anaya Ceres
Andie J. Christopher
Chanel Cleeton
Alexis Daria
Liana De la Rosa
Taylor V. Donovan
Diane Escalera
Carmen Falcone
Barbara Ferrer aka Caridad Ferrer
Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Johana Gavez
Cat Giraldo
Leora Gonzales
Nadine Gonzalez
Adriana Herrera
Isabel Ibañez
Julie Leto
Angelina M. Lopez
J.L. Lora
Evelyn Lozada
Ofelia Martinez
Mimi Milan
Janelle Milanes
Diana Muñoz Stewart
Laura Taylor Namey
Priscilla Oliveras
Berta Platas
Caridad Pineiro
Alana Quintana Albertson
Rosemary Rey
Elizabeth Reyes
Lilliam Rivera
Roxie Rivera
Danni Rose
Yamile Saied Méndez
Inés Saint
Lydia San Andres
Lynda Sandoval
Yaffa S. Santos
Jude Sierra
Sabrina Sol
Mia Sosa
Ada Maria Soto
Milly Taiden
Dee Tenorio
Piper Vaughn
Jonny Garza Villa
Ismée Williams

As always – If you fall under the umbrella and aren’t listed let me know – I want to add you! (Or if anyone knows of an authors I missed. Thank you! <3)

In re: Sportsball and Charity

… >.> ok so I wrote the below first, but realize MAYYYYBEE there are new people here?

So! In the past I used to do this “Social Media for Social Good” campaign. And there have been various people that participated, various amounts of money raised. Like all social media things it’s changed, and I used to tie it to touchdowns or Ohio State Buckeye wins … and different charities. I think one year I even said every TD I’d donate X amount to a charity of a commenters choice. But with life and such happening, it’s gotten more varied. So now … the below.

~*~*~

Hi friends! Let’s be honest – at the end of the year I’m just going to see how much I can afford and split that amount between World Central Kitchen and the Southern Poverty Law Center.

[Heh unless something totally unforeseen happens?]

But if you’re watching the game right now – and come on. You know the game I’m talking about is The Ohio State University vs Notre Dame. Well. My face is 😐

Anyway this post is to keep me accountable, hope someone else wants to donate, and also send cookies cuz this game is … 😖