Fresh Find: Renée Botman

Just five minutes chatting with Renée Botman reveals so much about her passion for a salt-of-the-earth way of life. She’s a seamstress by day, florist by other times of day, a fresh-baked mum, and some WA country town’s future treasure.

Her handmade homewares are darling, Nanna-inspired pieces that have evolved a lot over the years. I’ve had the pleasure of smelling almost every ream of fabric that’s entered her workshop, and I must say, they smell so wholesome. In the short time we were desk buddies in a shared office space, I got to watch her agonise over choosing supplies and suppliers that live up to the quality promise of her brand. And I just had to share this with you.

Let’s take five minutes with Renée…

A Renée Botman market stall in Perth, Western Australia

JL: Tell me a bit about your background and career, leading up to you creating the RB label.

RENÉE BOTMAN: I studied Interactive Multimedia and Film & TV at uni and started my career as a graphic designer, which I loved for years. After a while though, I found I was no longer in love with the client work aspect of the job and it was time for a change. I’ve always loved sewing and textiles and being able to use my graphics skills to make my own patterns & products felt like the natural next step.

JL: What inspired you to create RB and what’s it been like getting established in Perth?

RENÉE: The short answer is, my Nanna. I started sewing by hand when I was about 4 years old, taught by my mum’s mum who was a seamstress all her working life. The first things I ever made were simple clothes for my mum’s Barbies that Nanna kept at her place, made out of colourful scraps of material from Nanna’s fabric stash.

The market scene in Perth is great for getting established as a small maker, I think. It can be trial and error to find out if your right demographic are attending the markets you’re working, but persistence pays off and once you find the groove, it can work wonders!

https://www.instagram.com/p/BodDNzLDjul

JL: What’s been the most challenging hurdle you’ve had to overcome in getting RB off the ground?

RENÉE: Making my products completely natural and biodegradable and using top quality fabrics is the cornerstone of the RB brand, and something I’m very passionate about. Finding haberdashery items such as threads, elastics and zips and even batting that are not at least partly synthetic has been a challenge and has meant ordering my most basic of supplies in from other countries at times. In the last 18 months, however, I have been pleasantly surprised to find the products I was buying from overseas, and even better options, become available through my local suppliers.

JL: How have your RB skills translated to the challenges of motherhood so far?

RENÉE: Well, being able to make matching things for myself and my daughter Imogen brings me no end of joy, so there’s that, ha ha, More seriously, though, being used to searching high and low for the right materials to make my products made finding sustainable alternatives to more modern, plastic and synthetic based baby products a breeze, meaning I could help make my mothering journey as sustainable as possible.

Also patience and perseverance. Whether I’m trying out a new market or prototyping a new product I often have to try more than once before it worked out or felt right. Motherhood and babies can be very similar, sometimes you’ve just got to keep plugging, or change your approach a couple of times before it feels right or it sticks!

https://www.instagram.com/p/BzPE59Cg9Lr

JL: What advice would you give to young creatives starting on the journey towards their dreams?

RENÉE: Stick with it! Especially the vision you have for your products or art. Let me give you an example…

Using all natural materials and top quality fabrics mean that my products often fall into a higher price bracket, and at times I’ve questioned if it was necessary for me to lower my prices to what they were expecting. Thing is, what they were expecting when I said “handmade”, it means “designed here in Perth and handmade by someone who is likely being exploited”, not “handmade by me right here in WA”.

And when I say that my fabrics are top quality and include linens and other quality fibres such as hemp and organic cotton, what I mean is that all my fabrics are fair trade or made in countries with fair work conditions. But this, again, isn’t necessarily what the customer is expecting.

So by refining how I package, advertise and talk about my brand and my products I can let my customers know that what they are buying is something unique, considered and made, in a sense, the old fashioned way, to last a lifetime! Now sure this won’t be for everyone, but it is for my demographic. I stuck with my vision, and refining my message and how I talk about my brand helps me find them and them find me!

JL: What’s your all-time favourite romance?

RENÉE: I’m going to be a sap here and say the relationship my husband Chris and I have is my favourite romance! He’s my best friend, we share the same sense of humour and the same whimsy about the world. It also helps that we’re both nature loving homebodies, so even a trip to our favourite park with a flask of tea can feel like an adventure.

Other than that, I’m a total sucker for a Rom Com, any of them, really, but if it’s British so much the better!

https://www.instagram.com/p/B2pny_4jFuS

Enter the giveaway!

Two lucky giveaway winners will receive a Renée Botman handmade cup cosy, designed, made and tested by Renée herself. They’ll also receive a pair of earrings by More Sundays Please, fresh romance reads sponsored by Kyanite PublishingSkye McDonald’s new book, plus a signed paperback copy of my latest romance, It Starts With A Kiss.

Check out the giveaway post for details on how to enter. This is an international giveaway. Entries close 29th September 2019.

Giveaway for "It Starts With A Kiss"

Fresh Find: Feathers and Fae by Crystal Kirkham — interview & giveaway

When I realised fellow Kyanite author Crystal L. Kirkham had a semi-romantic book coming out soon after this giveaway closes, I had to add it to the prize pack. Her book, Feathers and Fae, comes out 11th October and, knowing what the publisher looks for when signing authors, I’m looking forward to an exciting read.

Crystal did me the honour of an interview. Here’s a bit about her, her book, and what reading and writing look like for her today…

Author Crystal Kirkham, outdoors on a sunny day

JL: Tell us a bit about yourself.

CRYSTAL L. KIRKHAM: There isn’t too much to know about me. I’ve lived in western Canada my entire life and have travelled extensively throughout North America. I’m a big outdoors person, I love cooking (and eating!)—which are things that often show through in my writing. I also breed standard poodles and I compete with my dogs in show and obedience rings. Since I work full time on top of my hobbies and writing, I tend to be a little on the busy side.

JL: Tell us a bit about your upcoming book, Feathers and Fae. What inspired it?

CRYSTAL: Feathers and Fae was a story I didn’t know I was going to write. I have a whole blog post about this, but it started as a challenge. I was given three random, unrelated prompts 12 hrs before we had to start writing and I had to incorporate all three things into my story. After that, the story developed on its own with no idea what I was writing most of the time until it was written.

What I ended up writing was a story I didn’t know I needed to read. One that was not only a fantastic adventure through a beautiful world, but a story about loyalty, friendship, and sacrifice—and what that means to each of the characters involved.

JL: Tell us a bit about the friendship vs romantic chemistry between the main characters, Emmett and Kami.

CRYSTAL: These are two people who have a long, complicated history which really colours everything in their relationship—whether interpreted as friendship or romance. It’s hard to get in-depth on this topic without giving spoilers, but this is one of those things in that the chemistry between them sits at a very delicate balance throughout the entire book. Something that is only slowly revealed as you read.

This is also a relationship that I leave up to the interpretation of the reader for many reasons. One of the reasons is that not every intimate relationship is romantic in the traditional sense. So, I think it would be safe to say, that in this case there is no way to define the difference between romantic chemistry and friendship as I kept the lines intentionally blurry.

JL: Obviously, the friendship dynamic plays a big part in this story. How big a role do you feel friendships play in romantic relationships? (or any relationship for that matter)

CRYSTAL: For me, friendship is a huge part of almost any type of relationship. I think it’s important to not only love but to like the person you’re with because at the end of the day, sometimes what you need the most is a good friend who loves and respects you as much as you love and respect them.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BsTKo83D3nu

JL: You’ve been putting work out in the wild for a long time. What are your other books like? Are there certain themes or topics you particularly enjoy writing about?

CRYSTAL: My other work is generally darker than Feathers and Fae. In my Saints and Sinners series, none of the current or planned stories have a ‘happy ever after’ or even a ‘happy for now’ ending. While the endings aren’t tragedies, they do not always end happily for the characters involved. Hints of this style do come through on Feathers and Fae, but I tried to keep it a little lighter.

One thing that I do love exploring—whether friendship, love or reluctant allies—is the relationship dynamic between people. I love exploring the different ways that people can relate to each other. I also tend to explore the consequences of the decisions and choices that people make in their lives.

JL: Do you feel bound to any particular responsibilities as a writer in this age of chaotic media?

CRYSTAL: It’s a fine line to walk being a writer in modern times. As an author, I am officially a public figure. People can look me up, see the things that I’ve been saying—things for years ago can suddenly become an issue. I feel a strong responsibility to set a good example, not only of how to be professional but of how to be a decent and kind person.

I also feel as though I need to be accessible to my readers. I’m not the kind of person who wants to be put on a pedestal of any sort. I try really hard to be not only real with those that I have interactions with, but to be encouraging and supportive of others as well. Not sure I always get that right, but I try.

JL: What sort of stuff do you like to read?

CRYSTAL: My bookshelf is extremely eclectic. What I enjoy the most is a strong, character-driven plotline. I have a lot of contemporary and historical fiction that I absolutely adore. Science fiction has long been a favourite, but I am a little pickier about my fantasy. There are not many genres that I give an absolute hard pass on. Good writing, strong plot, great characters? Yeah, I’ll read that.

JL: What are you currently reading?

CRYSTAL: Next on my reading list is Forgotten Storm by A.R. Vagnetti. Followed by several advanced reading copies that I have to review. I seriously wish I had more time for reading than I do.

JL: Any parting words for readers?

CRYSTAL: I really do love connecting with readers, so don’t hesitate to say hello to me or ask me questions about my books through any of my social media accounts. I promise I don’t usually bite.

A woman peers out from behind a cracked blue screen on the cover of "Feathers and Fae" by Crystal L. Kirkham

Enter the giveaway!

Two lucky winners will receive an ebook copy of Feathers and Fae by Crystal L. Kirkham in the ISWAK giveaway, along with handcrafted goodies (like a pair of More Sundays Please earrings), Skye McDonald’s Not Suitable For Work, more fresh romance reads courtesy of Kyanite Publishing, plus a signed paperback copy of my latest book, It Starts With A Kiss.

Check out the giveaway post for details on how to enter. This is an international giveaway, closing 29th September 2019.

Fresh Find: More Sundays Please — handcrafted polymer clay jewellery

More Sundays Please is the brainchild of local Perth artist, Katie, someone whose creative journey I’ve had the good fortune of witnessing from the very start. She’s horse-mad, formidable at Kingdomino, has a magical womance her bestie of the same name, and always seems to have her hair on point.

And her quirky, colourful polymer clay earrings were a must-have for the giveaway prize bundle.

Want to know more about this jewellery-crafting diva? Read on…

JL: Tell me a bit about yourself and what led up to the creation of More Sundays Please.

KATIE: I’m a high school teacher, animal and nature lover who’s always had a passion for crafting. My best friend KP introduced me to polymerclay and after playing with it for a bit, I developed MSP.

JL: What inspired the name, “More Sundays Please”, and what inspires your designs?

KATIE: The name comes from just the way I always feel at the end of the weekend — more needed! My designs are inspired by loads of things, but primarily nature or great colour combos I might see on fabrics.

JL: What’s it been like starting and running a business alongside your best friend at Blue Pincushion?

KATIE: Blue Pincushion and I have been best friends for 11 years. We both love to do craft courses together and used to live together and have craftanoons.

When starting separate businesses, this was only due to us having different styles and ideas. But we always support each other’s ventures and also are having our first of many to come markets together this month. It’s really fun having your best friend be in the same business and we bounce ideas off each other all the time. KP is going so well with BPC and I’m really proud of her.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B10nQsEn0HC

JL: What advice would you give to young creatives starting on their journey to achieving their dreams?

KATIE: The advice I would give to young creatives is to just enjoy the play. That’s what I do it for. It’s not for money or notoriety. It’s for the relaxation and mindfulness behind the craft and the peace that gives you. So the number one thing is to enjoy what you are doing.

JL: What’s your all-time favourite romance? (Yeah, you can pick more than one!)

KATIE: Ooo my all time favourite romance would have to be The Notebook (I know, cliche!)  or Crazy Beautiful. But I also love the love between Izzy and Tom in The Light Between Oceans and also the boy and the horse in Black Stallion haha does that count !? Not technically classified as romance though.

(You know what? Black Stallion totally counts.)

Enter the giveaway!

Two lucky winners will receive a pair of earrings by More Sundays Please in the ISWAK giveaway, along with other handcrafted goodies, fresh romance reads including Skye McDonald’s Not Suitable For Work, plus a signed paperback copy of my latest book, It Starts With A Kiss.

Check out the giveaway post for details on how to enter.

Giveaway for "It Starts With A Kiss"

Hey, Perthlings…

Shoutout to my Perth peeps: More Sundays Please and Blue Pincushion will both be at the Perth Makers Market in Applecross on 22 Sep 2019.

Fresh Find: Not Suitable For Work by Skye McDonald — cover reveal, interview & giveaway

So, this Skye McDonald person—I’ve been following her on twitter for ages. When I found out we were releasing books within days of each other, and that her heroine is also named Celeste, I totally took it as a sign that she was a certifiably Cool Person™.

Hah, jokes, she was already cool when she tweeted about a Talisker single malt.

Her book, Not Suitable for Work, comes out 24th September. While we were chatting about giveaway particulars, she did me the honour of answering a couple of questions about her hot new web designer romance. Check it out…

JL: What inspired your latest book, Not Suitable for Work?

SKYE MCDONALD: First and mostly, Nashville inspired me! Growing up, Nashville was quiet. I longed to get away to a big city, and now that I have, Nashville has exploded into a hip, vibrant place to be. On top of that, I had a vision of an empty office with two desks facing each other and thought, who would be there and why? From there, Celeste and Ben became clear to me.

JL: How much of your own life did you draw upon for your Anti-Belle series?

SKYE: Oooh, tough question. When I read over the books, I see very clearly certain aspects of my personality that shine in my heroines. However, their journeys are very much their own. Some of my most fun side characters to write take inspiration from people I’ve known, and of course my hometown (Nashville) sits center-stage in the series. But the relationships and the romances are pure inspiration, and not at all based on my own love story/stories.

JL: Who would be your movie star picks to play Celeste and Ben?

SKYE: Haha, I don’t often model my characters on people, but if I got to choose I’d say Jennifer Lawrence and Channing Tatum. 

(Bloody good choices too!)

An illustrated cityscape on the cover of "Not Suitable For Work" by Skye McDonald

Not Suitable For Work (Anti-Belle, #1) by Skye McDonald

Available: September 24th 2019 
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

The competition is stiff. The stakes are high. And what happens on Halloween night is definitely not suitable for work.

Celeste Greene and Ben Addison didn’t realize the internship-to-hire opportunity was actually a contest, but neither of these talented web designers can afford to walk away. After betrayal destroyed her fabulous life in New York City, Celeste moved home to Nashville, Tennessee broke and broken. Restarting her career is her only goal. An ice queen who drove her partner to cheat can’t even think about friends or fun. Celeste’s talent and desperation should make the competition an easy win—if only she could stop gawking at her rival long enough to concentrate.

Ben Addison doesn’t want to be a corporate climber or live in a high-rise downtown. He just needs a steady paycheck after foolishly investing everything in a pretty face and a shot at a music career. He has no business fantasizing about his competitor, even if she is the most stunning—and guarded—woman he’s ever met. 

This contest can’t rival the chemistry between these two, but is the risk worth the reward? With a haunting past and her future on the line, Celeste must decide what she wants, what she needs, and what her heart is really worth.

About Skye McDonald

Author Skye McDonald says hello

Skye spent a lot of her adolescence dreaming about living in a hip, urban town full of adventures that occurred outside of the local mall. (Hers was Rivergate, in case you know Nashville well!) Now that she’s been living away from Nashville for years, the once sleepy Southern city has become just that place, and she returns to visit whenever she can. Her seven-novel-and-growing Anti-Belle series is centered in her hometown, partly as a homage and partly because these days Nashville is too hip to ignore.

In the real world, Skye is an English teacher in Brooklyn, New York, and has lived there long enough to consider herself a true New Yorker—even though she proudly cheers for the Tennessee Vols (her alma mater) and loves being a GRITS (Girl Raised in the South).

Skye’s philosophy is to live with your heart and mind open. She believes in the beauty of this world and seeks adventure and joy as a daily practice. If “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans,” as John Lennon said, then she’d rather leave the schedule open and let life happen.

Enter the giveaway!

Two lucky winners will receive a digital copy of Skye McDonald’s new book, Not Suitable For Work, in the ISWAK giveaway, along with a bundle of handcrafted goodies, more fresh romance reads and a signed paperback copy of It Starts With A Kiss.

Check out the giveaway post for details on how to enter.

Fresh Find: Interview with Sophia LeRoux — designer, author, Kyaniter

Sophia LeRoux is the maestro behind the book covers at Kyanite Publishing. She had me by the heart when she sent me the cover for It Starts With A Kiss. The colours and style totally capture the essence of the story—it’s in space, it’s dreamy, and it expresses the simplicity of a friendship as it blossoms into love.

Here’s a little interview, in case you’re as curious as I was about the creative behind the covers. Kyanite has just launched Sophia’s own Ashes of the Fae. You’ll find the link and another one of her stunning designs at the end of this post.

Sophia’s cover design for It Starts With A Kiss.

JL: Tell me a bit about the style you chose. What inspired you? What do you love about the approach you took?

SOPHIA LEROUX: What’s not to love? For starters I’m super partial to anything purple and cosmic, and the figures on the front, although kind of cheeseball, captures the subtle romance that I was going for. The cover really does set a great starting point and feel for the book.

Absolutely. You express the mood so fluently. What got you into design?

SOPHIA: My love for art in general. I’ve got a vivid imagination and art was the only outlet I had to really start getting it out there. I think my life would be slightly emptier without it.

You’ve designed heaps of covers for Kyanite already—which one is your favourite?

SOPHIA: That’s a hard one. Honestly, I couldn’t pick a favorite even if i tried because I love them all for different reasons. 

Good point! And I guess how we perceive a cover can totally change once we’ve read the story too. Where does your perspective come from? Any hobbies or interests that feed your creativity?

SOPHIA: Photography is a huge one. So is traveling. Drawing as well. Music, movies, and concept art are also huge driving forces for my creativity.

How about books—what do you like to read?

SOPHIA: Funny you ask, because I actually don’t read much. But when I do, it’s usually old books (early 1900s) or history books on things that are macabre, occult, or mythological. Oddly enough, the reason I don’t read much (at least of my own genre) is because I don’t want someone else influencing my voice or style.

Tell me a bit about your writing.

SOPHIA: Well, I’ve got tons of ideas, even a few under pen names that are a bit too raunchy or taboo even for me to put out there as me (LGBT or more demonic/cult-type stories). Typically though I write mythologically inspired dark romances with some thriller aspects thrown in. I love writing about love–and sex on a primal level–and enjoy bringing a whole new psychological feel to them that really makes your body ache.

I can totally see how the language in old books would lend to that too. So, what are you working on at the moment?

SOPHIA: Lately I’ve been working on some shorts under my pen name, but haven’t got a definitive timeline on them yet. Ashes of the Fae: Book One came out in June and was actually a re-release through Kyanite Publishing of the first book I ever published. Aside from Beyond the Spectra, also book one, anything else I’ve got lined up will be coming out next year and the years to follow.

Check out Sophia’s book, Ashes of the Fae.

Fresh Find: Law & Disorder by Liv Arnold

It’s been a while since I last indulged in Suits, and there’s this solid craving for a lawyer story that’s gone unsatisfied. Well, imagine my delight when I learned Aussie author Liv Arnold’s new book is a romance between a lawyer and a cop. In her own words:

I’ve watched the TV show Neighbours since I was a child. I used to come home from school, get changed, have a snack then sit down and watch. I love the community behind the storylines and the more light-hearted moments. So, I thought it would be a fun idea to have the heroine and hero as neighbours, but spice things up a little.

Liv Arnold, Author of “Law & Disorder”

Check out the excerpt a little further down. I am totally OK with this.

Law & Disorder — new contemporary romance by Liv Arnold

Law & Disorder by Liv Arnold
“Law & Disorder” by Liv Arnold, available now on Amazon.

Lawyer Juliet Jackson has come head to head with Sergeant Jesse Burns on numerous occasions in court. He is provoking. Pigheaded. Punch-worthy. They don’t get along. Not one little bit. The unfortunate fact he’s also her next-door neighbor brings her loathing off the charts. But when Juliet’s caught locked outside her home in nothing but a skimpy towel, she must swallow her pride and turn to Jesse for help. She doesn’t expect the explosive chemistry between them and can’t help but wonder if Jesse’s as demanding in the bedroom as he is in the courtroom.

Excerpt

His handsome face smirked before he averted his eyes and turned his head, but she could still see the profile of his face. His police uniform stretched across his chest. Wonder if that chest is chiseled underneath all those clothes.

Her ears burned hotter than chili sauce, spreading to her neck and chest. No point in putting on a mask this time, because there was no escaping this. Her fingers found the ends of the towel to cover her naked body, but her legs froze on the spot. “I got locked out of my house.”

“You got locked out of your house…naked?” A grin spread across his face, revealing the dimple on the bottom lip. She wanted to bite it but didn’t know if it was to hurt him or because of the temperature between her legs.

Scowling at his sarcasm, her fingers gripped the bricks of her house and she pulled herself up. “Yes. Why are you even here? Didn’t you have enough of me this morning?

“Never enough.”

About Liv

Romance author Liv Arnold

Liv Arnold has worked as a copywriter for several global companies and now runs her own freelance business. She grew up in Melbourne, Australia, and lives with her husband and their spoiled dog, who only eats freshly cooked meals.

When she’s not writing, Liv’s avoiding the gym, devouring a cheese platter, or marathoning way too much TV. And of course, she’s a massive book addict and often reads until all hours of the night.

I would love to hear from you! Contact me on:

Fresh Find: The Soccer Player and the Single Mom by Kyra Jacobs

They had me at “soccer player”. OK, so this Scott Gillie ain’t no Olivier Giroud, but who knows? Maybe by the end of this love story, I’ll end up re-jigging my hotlist.

Blog tour: March 11–15 — The Soccer Player and the Single Mom by Kyra Jacobs

Meet the author:

Kyra Jacobs is an extroverted introvert who has always called Indiana home. That means she’s well versed in fickle weather, pork tenderloin patties that don’t fit on a bun, and sarcasm. Putting her Indiana University degrees in Public Management to good use by day means Kyra does the bulk of her writing late into the night. Fueled by caffeine and funny memes, she weaves tales of love and relationships, including the humor and/or chaos both can bring. Kyra’s published novels range from sweet contemporary romance to chick lit and paranormal/fantasy.

When this Hoosier native isn’t at a keyboard, daydreaming through her fingertips, she’s likely outside, elbow-deep in snapdragons or on a sideline somewhere cheering (loudly) for her sporty sons. Kyra also loves to go bowling, tries to golf, and is an avid college football fan.

Connect: Site | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

About the book:

For most women, working for a sexy soccer star would be a dream come true. All except single mom Felicity Shaw. She has no interest in playing personal assistant for a stubborn, injured playboy—no matter how nice his abs are. But with bills piling up and mouths to feed, she can’t say no to the job.

That’s when it gets interesting.

The last thing Scott Gillie wants or needs is a persistent and entirely too distracting PA while he’s recuperating in his small hometown. Unfortunately, it’s not up to him. Then Felicity and her son end up temporarily moving in—all thanks to his meddlesome grandmother. Now temptation is right across the hall and it’s driving Scott crazy.

His only option is to fight fire with fire.

He never expects Felicity to do the same.

Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | AppleBooks | Kobo

Add to Goodreads

Giveaway:

What I’m not reading — July 2018

Also known as “the TBR that taunts me”.

When I’m busy, the first thing to go is my TBR. I’ve realised recently that the time I spend reading directly corresponds to how I’m faring in my work-addled life. I do have workaholic tendencies I need to address. They say if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life.

Well, that’s bullshit. If you love what you do, you end up working all the fucking time because you can’t get enough. It’s nice in the way party drugs are nice—they’ll nice you to destruction if you don’t watch yourself.

Until I sort my shit out, here’s what’s currently awaiting me on my to-be-read pile…

How Two Love by Jan Resnick

This is an interesting and insightful book so far, but I struggle to pick it up again whenever I put it down. Admittedly, I find it triggering. Every paragraph seems to stir up indignation (to say the least) at what we put up with and what we inflict on people in the name of love. For all our civilisation and infrastructure, we really are a primitive species—our own worst enemies sometimes, if not the unwitting worst enemies of the people we say we care about.

I suppose that makes it extra important to finish this book. I’m gonna need a lot of sleep and chocolate to get through this.

Star Brides: The Meat Market by Pia Manning

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Pia Manning won me over with her deft writing style in Star Brides: Procured. I’m not into the “hot alien men” thing, but I can’t deny the stories I’ve read have, in one way or another, impressed me. Pia has a really classy way with words. Maybe this shows how much I still have to learn about writing, but I get real courageous vibes from the way she tells her stories. Reading her blog is like getting punched in the gut, but in a good way.

I’m pretty keen to read this, and I kind of want to read this with a lot of life clearance so I can smash it out without being distracted by tasks and chores. The last time I read a Pia Manning book, I missed my train and was late for work 😬

Intercourse with the Vampire by C.J. Douglass

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Because how could I not? I literally laughed out loud when I read the title, and if Taken by the 8-bit Plumbers is anything to go by, I will definitely want to read this book in private so I don’t have to explain what I’m giggling at.

C.J.’s work is high steam, and I don’t know if she intends her work to be hilarious, but I’m really tickled by the inside jokes and creative license. I’m very much looking forward to starting this book.

Rubies Are Red by Eliza Loveless

A Twitter friend retweeted this author’s promo. I read the first two pages in an Amazon sample and bought it on the spot. I mean, check out this first line:

I had a meanness inside of me as real as my fist.

Paranormal romance is far from my favourite genre these days, but I can’t walk past a good literary style. That first line gave me some serious good, dark vibes.

Fresh Find: Submitted to Housework by Stefanie Simpson — a free read

Loved this saucy and sweet flash story by Stefanie Simpson.

OK, so “saucy” is a bit of an understatement. Have a look for yourself…

I tapped the wooden arm of the bedroom chair, clicking my nails, watching.

The nude man on the other side of the room glided an iron across a freshly washed bed sheet. He neatly folded it and set it down on the perfectly placed pile next to him.

Bored, I got up, but he didn’t lift his face and started on a blouse. I stood next to him, steam rising, the smell of heated cotton and the vague scent of him close by made me want. I palmed his naked bottom, squeezing it, but he didn’t pause.

I leant right in, still feeling him. “You’re doing a terrible job.”

“Sorry, I’ll do better.”

“You say that every time. And yet you never improve. Bend.”

He hovered, the smallest doubt in his eyes as he turned his head slightly, but he obeyed. He held the ironing board and bent a little.

“More.”

His chest rose silently, and he went further. I pinched hard, making him tense.

“Ready?”

“Yes, Mistress.”

Read the rest…

Fresh Find: Mia’s Wedding, a reverse harem novel by Lucy Felthouse

Writing for the Capri Luxe Hotels anthology got me thinking about the different relationships dynamics people live by—polyamory, swinging, “monogamish”, timezone rules, hall passes… and more. I’ve wondered what my view of relationships would be like now, had I grown up learning about these different arrangements without the social stigma applied by the conservative mainstream.

Anyway, you can understand how this book announcement for Mia’s Wedding caught my eye. A reverse harem, I thought 😏 Yes, I want to read this, because the theme is relevant to my ponderings right now.

I emailed Lucy Felthouse to ask whether it’s better to read Book One before getting stuck in. She says yes, but after reading that story excerpt, I’m tempted to do a cheeky and read Book Two first. Elias, Alex and Thomas sound spunky as (am I showing my age here?), and I just want to know if and how Mia sorts her shit out!

*clicks*

*adds to TBR*

*cries because TBR is already taller than I am*

Mia's Wedding teaser: "However, when this much testosterone was flying around, anything could happen."

Out Now—Mia’s Wedding (The Heiress’s Harem #2) by Lucy Felthouse (@cw1985) #reverseharem #whychoose

Blurb:

Planning a wedding is stressful enough, and that’s without a harem of gorgeous men to deal with.

Mia Harrington has had a difficult time of it lately—her father’s illness and subsequent death, then finding out she must get married if she is to inherit what’s rightfully hers. Fortunately, she’s tough and resourceful, and has emerged relatively unscathed from this period, as well as finding herself a suitable husband.

However, things are far from simple. Mia might be planning to marry investment banker Elias Pym, but she’s also having a relationship with his best friend, Doctor Alex Cartwright, and is in love with her gardener, Thomas Walker. Add to that broken dates, flashy proposals, a sexy Asian tech billionaire, and a nosey housekeeper, and you’ve got a situation hectic enough to drive even the most capable person to distraction. Can Mia juggle her men, her job, and the wedding arrangements, or is her happily ever after over before it has even begun?

Mia’s Wedding is the second book in The Heiress’s Harem reverse harem romance series.

Buy from Amazon or read in Kindle Unlimited

Add to Goodreads

*****

Excerpt:

Mia locked up and put the key in her bag, then took Elias’s arm. They walked down the steps and out into the chilly January night to the waiting black cab.

“I’m afraid,” Elias said, once they were settled into the back of the car, “Alex isn’t coming.”

“What do you mean, he’s not coming?” she squeaked.

Elias looked apologetic, but gave a one-shouldered shrug. “There was an emergency at the hospital—as their nearest surgeon, he got called in. Couldn’t very well say no, could he?”

Mia shook her head and sagged back into the seat, her heart sinking to her stomach. “No, of course not. I’m very sorry he won’t be joining us, but although we’re scintillating company, we don’t count as a life or death situation.”

He reached out and squeezed her hand, then kept hold of it. “No, we certainly do not. I hope, though, that I’ll be entertainment enough for you by myself this evening.”

She squeezed his hand back, then leaned over and kissed his cheek, pulling in the scent of his delicious cologne at the same time. “I’m sure you will. Besides, this was part of what you two meant when you were talking about being able to give a woman the attention she deserves between you, wasn’t it? Alex unfortunately can’t make it, but because I’m dating—or whatever the hell we’re calling this—both of you, it means I’m not left high and dry. I’m sure at some point you’ll be the one who has to cancel. These things happen.”

With a smile, Elias said, “They sure do. Though I don’t really get emergencies at work—and if I do, they’re all about which person gets to line their pockets the most, rather than saving lives. But enough of that!” he added brightly, clearly eager to change the sore subject of his chosen career. Though she still didn’t understand why he was so embarrassed about it. And if he hated it so much, why was he still doing it? She wasn’t going to broach that particular topic, though, not tonight. She already had one potentially hairy subject to discuss.

But then how could she, now? How could she talk about the situation with Thomas without Alex present? She stifled a sigh. Fuck it. Looks like it’s going to have to wait.

“So,” she said, “where are we going?”

“You’ll have to wait and see,” he replied with a smirk.

She jabbed him in the ribs. “Seriously?”

“Yes, seriously. Patience, woman! We’ll be there in…” he peered out of the window, presumably to check where they were, “in less than ten minutes, traffic permitting.”

“Hmph.” She folded her arms and pouted. “Guess I’ll just have to wait, then.”

“Don’t sulk.” Elias tapped the end of her nose. “We haven’t seen each other in a little while, so I want smiles and laughter, not pouting. Even though I know you’re faking it.”

She gasped. “I never fake it!”

“I should hope not,” he shot back, his grin turning wicked. “My future wife deserves nothing but the best, and that includes orgasms. Real ones.”

Her tummy flip-flopped. Bloody hell, she’d almost forgotten about that. She’d been so focussed on working up to telling Elias and Alex they weren’t the only two men to be sharing her that there hadn’t been much capacity left for thinking about her impending wedding. But then, technically speaking, she wasn’t engaged yet. They’d discussed it and informally agreed to it, but there’d been no proposal, no acceptance, no ring.

There was plenty of time left for all that, though. If she and Elias had to grab a couple of witnesses and go to a registry office at the last minute, it would still count—her father hadn’t specified a type of ceremony, thankfully. But that wasn’t how she wanted to do things, and she suspected Elias wouldn’t be too keen on that idea, either.

“Ooh, your future wife, am I?” she teased, figuring that since the topic of Thomas was off the table, she might as well put the topic of their engagement on the table, instead.

Elias frowned. “Of course you are. I know we haven’t sorted a ring yet, but we still know we’re engaged…”

She shrugged, hoping it appeared more nonchalant to him than she actually felt. “Well, not exactly. We never made it official, did we? More of a loose verbal agreement.”

Elias groaned and screwed up his nose. “When you put it like that, it sounds bloody awful. I know to all intents and purposes it’s a practical arrangement, but I want it to be much more than that, Mia.” He cupped her cheek and brushed his thumb over her skin. “I’ve missed you.”

Warmth bloomed where he touched her, and radiated across her entire face and down her neck. She smiled and placed her hand over his. “I want it to be more, too. And I’ve missed you, as well. It’s been a long month, hasn’t it?”

*****

Author Bio:

Lucy Felthouse is the award-winning author of erotic romance novels Stately Pleasures (named in the top 5 of Cliterati.co.uk’s 100 Modern Erotic Classics That You’ve Never Heard Of, and an Amazon bestseller), Eyes Wide Open (winner of the Love Romances Café’s Best Ménage Book 2015 award, and an Amazon bestseller), The Persecution of the WolvesHiding in Plain Sight and The Heiress’s Harem series. Including novels, short stories and novellas, she has over 170 publications to her name. Find out more about her writing at http://lucyfelthouse.co.uk, or on Twitter or Facebook. Sign up for automatic updates on Amazon or BookBub. Subscribe to her newsletter and get a free eBook: http://www.subscribepage.com/lfnewsletter

Book cover: Mia's Wedding by Lucy Felthouse

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