Author Archives: ALBTALBS

Guest Author: Stephanie Burgis Discusses Her Upcoming Release, Moontangled

Hi friends! Stephanie Burgis reached out to me about reviewing her Hardwood novella – and I asked if she’d be willing to grace us with a guest post! I’ve read the prequel novella to the Hardwood Spellbook series, Spellswept, and really enjoyed it 🙂 So without further ado, Stephanie!

Stephanie Burgis on Moontangled

Snowspelled by Stephanie Burgis book coverIn the world of 19th-century Angland, no extravagant Prince Regent or parliament of gentlemen rules the nation. Instead, a group of hard-headed and pragmatic women politicians form a ruling Boudiccate, leaving all irrational magic—by tradition—to the more “naturally” emotional and irrational gentlemen.

It’s the way that society has been divided ever since Boudicca first expelled the Romans with the help of her second husband, a mage. Even now, every ambitious young politician is expected to take a mage for her own spouse if she hopes to ever rise to the Boudiccate. Of course, because of all of those ingrained social rules, mages can only ever be male…

Until now. The formation of Thornfell College of Magic for Women (founded by the first known woman mage, Cassandra Harwood, in the novel Thornbound) means that every unthinking social rule is suddenly open to question. Society at large is reeling with the impact—and two young women are hoping to finally seize their chance.

Caroline Fennell has been in strict training to become a member of the Boudiccate ever since she was eight years old, under the patronage (and control) of her famous and powerful aunt—who has ordered Caroline to follow the expected path by marrying a gentleman mage no matter what her private inclinations may be.

Juliana Banks spent her own youth forced to hide all of her brilliance and natural gifts as her family was horrified by her forbidden magic. Finally, as a student at Thornfell College, she’s found a home where she belongs and she can shine. As soon as she graduates, she’ll be a certified mage and thus—if the rest of the nation will accept it—a suitable spouse after all for Caroline Fennell…who’s been her secret fiancée for years, unbeknownst to the rest of the world.

Everything seems to be on track for all their years of passionate hopes and dreams to come true…except that ever since the events of Thornbound, Caroline has suddenly gone strangely distant. Now, as Thornfell College prepares for a magical outdoor ball to be held on the edges of their enchanted woods, Juliana is determined to win back her secret fiancée—but Caroline is equally determined to break her own heart by giving up Juliana for Juliana’s own good…and no one has ever accused Caroline Fennell of being easy to dissuade from any of her principles.

When they sneak into the fey-ruled woods together, every one of their plans will be thrown into turmoil. They’ll need all of Juliana’s magic and Caroline’s tactical brilliance to save each other and their love by the end of the evening. Continue reading

Guest Author Ainsley Wynter on Naming Characters

Hi friends! Ainsley sent this post originally on January 12, so if the ~timeline seems a bit weird, that’s why, and that’s on me. We’re very happy to have her visit with us again though! 🙂 She’s even got the end questions covered, so without further ado… Ainsley Wynter

HOW NOT TO NAME YOUR CHARACTERS
By Ainsley Wynter

Kissed at Midnight by Ainsley Wynter Book CoverThis is not the blog post topic I’d been noodling over when Lime put out a call for blog posts a few weeks ago. I’d intended to write about the newest book in my fantasy romance series, Once Upon a Princess. I wrote that book and the first one, Kissed at Midnight, as a dual timeline. Some of my favorite books by my favorite authors are written in a dual timeline. They are so cool when they’re done well. Overlapping plot points, a couple of the same scenes with different points of view, heroes who fight each other in a weirdly complex sword-fighting scene, and all in the first two books I’d ever written. What was I thinking?? Ahem. After many revisions I think I made it work. But this is not that blog post. Continue reading

Release Day Teaser Tuesday Exclusive Excerpt: A Reluctant Bride by Jess Michaels

Hi friends! Welcome to 2020 and our first “guest post!” I’m actually really surprised to say this, but I think it’s our first from Jess Michaels! And – as you see, it’s an excerpt from her book A Reluctant Bride that is out today! So you can read this snippet then go snag yourself a copy! Win!

A Reluctant Bride by Jess Michaels book coverWhen the Jasper Kincaid, the Earl of Harcourt, offered to marry one of the infamous Shelley triplets, he was doing it for the dowry to refill his depleted coffers, not for anything so silly as love. But when he realizes it is Thomasina Shelley masquerading as his fiancée at their final engagement ball, not his true intended, a desire for her that he has been ignoring sparks. And when it becomes clear her sister has run away with another, an opportunity arises for a marriage with a much deeper connection.

Thomasina’s feelings for Jasper have never been appropriate and she doubted the prudence of pretending to be his even for just one night. Once she’s caught, everything escalates so quickly. Suddenly she’s going to marry this stern, fascinating man who is not particularly pleased at her perfidy. Add to that her worry about where her wayward sister has gone and it’s a recipe for both passion…and disaster.

As the two slowly grow closer, Jasper realizes his former fiancée’s disappearance may have more to do with his own past than he originally realized. And the longer he keeps that from Thomasina, the more painful it will be when the truth comes out. Can they let each other close enough to fight together against the dangers right around the corner? And will they survive to meet the future they could have if they do?

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

Thomasina couldn’t feel her legs. Or her arms. They were all tingling out of control and she had no idea how she was keeping herself upright as she walked across the ballroom, forcing a smile at the felicitations her sister’s guests called out. She had played the role of Anne before, of course, but she regretted agreeing to it this time. Schoolgirl pranks were nothing like this…monstrosity. Continue reading

Guest Author Jackie Barbosa (aka M.A. Parker) Discusses the Anthology Do It Again

Hi friends!! I … well Jackie Barboasa aka M.A. Parker has a sale to tell you about! An anthology that is only 99¢ – Do It Again: A We Write Our Own Books Anthology – with a number of your favorite or soon to be favorite authors! 😉 
Do It Again - romance anthology by Kate Davies, Jayce Ellis, Tara Kennedy, M.A. Parker, Sabrina Sol book cover

One of my favorite themes in romance is the triumph of hope over experience. Whether that comes by way of a second chance with an ex or characters who’ve been burned before learning to love again, I’m there for it. There’s nothing more terrifying than risking your heart when you know exactly how vulnerable that makes you.

I suspect that one of the reasons I’m so drawn to this theme is that it’s very much like the process of writing and publishing a new book. Every time, it feels like starting over from scratch. And in my case, it’s maybe a little more like starting over from scratch than for other authors because I took a nearly five-year publishing hiatus and then, like the overly optimistic fool I am, thought it would also be a good time to launch a new pen name. Continue reading

Own Voices Guest Author Mercy Zephyr: Fear Fed My Words

Hi friends! A few weeks ago Mercy emailed ALBTALBS about reviewing her book, and I invited her to write a guest post for us – you know, as I do. 😛 I was thrilled that she agreed. (And I expect a review of her book to be forthcoming. I uh 😅 am also realistic about the timeliness ~problem we have here so … you know. It’ll happen though! Our review crew is small but dogged! … Other than Babs. Babs is a rockstar.)

ANYWAY!  Transpire Together looks really interesting and sweet, so I hope you read on. Mercy sent us a really lovely post, and I hope you give her a warm welcome. <3

Fear fed my words

Back in 2016, my spouse and I revealed to our friends and family that I was a woman with a husband, not a man with a wife as previously assumed. Unsure of myself and afraid, it was difficult to gather the courage to reveal that part of myself. Mostly, my family supported us, though I lost and gained family and friends seemingly overnight. Fearful, I continued to keep those parts of my life separate from all but my inner circle, keeping my life partitioned in the ways I’d kept my online presence for decades. To be open about myself seemed unthinkable, even as I raced toward inevitability where I could no longer hide the changes.

In the novel Transpire Together, I write about someone else; on the opposite side of that bridge, but with the same fear. Keith is stealth; he passes perfectly and keeps his past secret. For now, he has returned to the town he grew up in, before he transitioned. He has habits of secrecy, like me, that are of no help when the time comes to not be secretive anymore—like when meeting his high school sweetheart again, who he regrets losing touch with. Continue reading

SHM: Native American Heritage Month and “Behind the Scenes”

November is Native American Heritage Month. This is a hodgepodge post of … the update, information, etc. I’ll try to keep it upbeat.

One interesting thing I saw and will hopefully remember to follow is this:

The Cherokee Nation says it has a right to a congressional delegate. Now it wants Congress to fulfill its promise.

I saw on twitter that a congressional representative had been selected – we’ll see what the legislative body does. I don’t know if it’s more prevalent, or my timeline, or what, but I’m seeing more and more from Native/First Nations people and I’m glad. The US (and various other countries) have a lot to apologize for, and make up for. 

Compounded by the attitude of this current administration and probably the less I say here the better.

Anyway, I had at least one post lined up but the author has gone MIA – so if you or anyone would like to write a guest post for the month I’d be very very happy to have you. If you don’t know, the Smithsonian Heritage Months – Black History, Women’s History, Asian Pacific American Heritage, Pride, Latinx Heritage, and Native/First Nation Heritage Months are what we try to celebrate here at ALBTALBS. It used to be “limited” to USians who fall under the umbrella category, then to anyone who fell under the umbrella category, and last year or so I opened it to ANYONE who wanted to write a thing. 

We do have a few Native American romance authors out there, and you can see guest posts from years past in the archives

We could probably do with some tag clean up/better tagging but … 🤷🏻‍♀️ this is a money pit pet project, so you get what you see. 😛 Truly though – thanks for sticking with us <3

Oh! And – if you’re interested in more information and education, personally I’ve been checking tweets Rebecca Nagle’s timeline.

Lastly if you or anyone would like to write a guest post for any of the Smithsonian Heritage Months in 2020, or if you’d like to step up and shout out own voices individuals in the community and run the celebrations for any month … please. Do – I’d love to have you. Let’s talk.

Release Day “Guest Post” Jeffe Kennedy on The Orchid Throne + Giveaway!

Hi friends! So uh, if you care, you’d probably have noticed we’ve been a bit MIA over here in ALBTALBS land. Just a lot yet nothing going on. Which … in part might explain this post.

The Orchid Throne by Jeffe Kennedy book coverIn the Forgotten Empires magic is forbidden, dreams are destiny, and love is the greatest power of all…

A PRISONER OF FATE
As Queen of the island kingdom of Calanthe, Lia will do anything to keep her people free—and her secrets safe—from the mad tyrant who rules the mainland. Guided by a magic ring of her father’s, Lia plays the political game with the cronies the emperor sends to her island. In her heart, she knows that it’s up to her to save herself from her fate as the emperor’s bride. But in her dreams, she sees a man, one with the power to build a better world—a man whose spirit is as strong, and whose passion is as fierce as her own…

A PRINCE AMONG MEN
Conrí, former Crown Prince of Oriel, has built an army to overthrow the emperor. But he needs the fabled Abiding Ring to succeed. The ring that Lia holds so dear to her heart. When the two banished rulers meet face to face, neither can deny the flames of rebellion that flicker in their eyes—nor the fires of desire that draw them together. But in this broken world of shattered kingdoms, can they ever really trust each other? Can their fiery alliance defeat the shadows of evil that threaten to engulf their hearts and souls?

Continue reading

Release Day Guest Review: The Harp of Kings by Juliet Marillier

Guest review of The Harp of Kings by Juliet Marillier
High fantasy released by Penguin on September 3, 2019

The Harp of Kings by Juliet Marillier book coverEighteen-year-old Liobhan is a powerful singer and an expert whistle player. Her brother has a voice to melt the hardest heart, and is a rare talent on the harp. But Liobhan’s burning ambition is to join the elite warrior band on Swan Island. She and her brother train there to compete for places, and find themselves joining a mission while still candidates. Their unusual blend of skills makes them ideal for this particular job, which requires going undercover as traveling minstrels. For Swan Island trains both warriors and spies.

Their mission: to find and retrieve a precious harp, an ancient symbol of kingship, which has gone missing. If the instrument is not played at the upcoming coronation, the candidate will not be accepted and the kingdom will be thrown into disarray. Faced with plotting courtiers and tight-lipped druids, an insightful storyteller, and a boorish Crown Prince, Liobhan soon realizes an Otherworld power may be meddling in the affairs of the kingdom. When ambition clashes with conscience, Liobhan must make a bold decision—and the consequences may break her heart.

Juliet Marillier is one of my insta-buy authors and this book just confirms why that’s the case. The Harp of Kings launches a new series, Warrior Bards. I’m not sure if it will follow the same format as the Blackthorn & Grim series (following the same set of characters; more mystery, slow burn romance) or the Sevenwaters series (a different couple in each book; very much historical fantasy romance), but I suspect it will be the former. This story also nicely intersects the two established series in this world (the aforementioned Sevenwaters and Blackthorn & Grim). If you’re new to Marillier, this book is a good place to start! Continue reading

Guest Author: Nina Bocci on Disregarding the Advice to “Keep Politics Out of Your Books”

Hi friends! So Nina Bocci‘s newest book just came out this past Tuesday! On the Corner of Love and Hate has such an interesting premise, and I’m about to start reading it soon. 😀  It’s also the first of the “Hopeless Romantics” series. Anyway, Nina is a delight, and I hope you enjoy this post, and pick up her newest book! So without further ado … Nina!

On the Corner of Love and Hate by Nina Bocci book coverWhen Emmanuelle Peroni’s father—and current mayor of Hope Lake, Pennsylvania—suggests she help with Cooper Endicott’s campaign, she’s horrified. Cooper, one of her (former) oldest friends, drives her crazy in every way possible. But he’s also her father’s protégé, so Emma reluctantly launches her plan to help him win the local election.

It’s not as easy as it looks. Cooper’s colorful love life is the sticking point for many voters, and his opponent is digging up everything he can from his past. It seems that every time Emma puts out the flames from one scandal, another one flares up. Emma knows that if Cooper wants to win, he needs to keep his nose clean. The only problem? She might just be falling in love with the one person she promised never to pursue: the mayoral candidate himself.

Don’t write a book with politics.

You’re a debut (basically), you’re going to kill your chances of people picking it up.

My God, you’re an idiot, why didn’t you listen? Continue reading

ALBTALBS Shout Outs and Sponsors From 2018

Hi friends! Every so often I offer ad space at ALBTALBS. Really it’s supposed to be $15/month (for a static image), but I don’t make a big deal about it. If someone purchases ad space generally I do a highlight post on it as well – if you’re a longtime reader you may have a vague recollection of this. Every so often I’ll offer monthly ad space at a discount. Ads are never enough to cover costs, but it’s definitely better than nothing. This all comes to mind for a number of reasons. First of all … blog fees are due soon, and if I want to keep ALBTALBS, it’s hundreds of dollars. Considering I had to set up a Go Fund Me for medical expenses … yeah.

Even without the major surgeries etc … in an attempt to help with the costs it’s why I set up a Ko-Fi too, a year or two ago.
Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Anyway! How the ads work is I put them as a widget in the sidebar, so ad blockers won’t remove them, and also so they’ll show on every page – the main one and specific posts. Please let me know if you’d like to be an ALBTALBS sponsor!

So … here are the ALBTALBS sponsors (people who paid for ads) from 2018 … and two shout outs which I’ll explain. (For the 2018 authors I went with their latest release that I could find.) That’s generally what I do too if someone doesn’t remember to let me know what image they want to run but have paid. Continue reading