Reflections on Saving Suzy by Stefanie Simpson

Romance novels aren’t supposed to make us sad. But sometimes they do and Saving Suzy by Stefanie Simpson did so very much. There was a point where I had to put the book down for a couple of days because the emotions got too much and I needed a breather.

That’s not to say this piece of erotic kink literature was particularly heavy, because although it deals with heavy themes, this isn’t a sadface book. It was just genuine. Down-to-earth moments captured by the author’s serious and sensual writing voice, the voice that gives the entire New City Series its quietly brilliant tone.

But back to what made me sad. I thought Victoria Undone was the Simpson romance for me, but Saving Suzy gripped me by the heart and squeezed very tightly.

If I had to sum up why, it would be the utter lack of toxicity between the MCs. There’s uncertainty, there’s curiosity, there’s a definite attraction… but zero toxicity. They handle each other with the utmost respect, even when things get difficult.

It mades me think of real life, and how the world can be a ugly place full of sharp teeth and stone hearts. How so many people IRL can turn nasty on a dime, flee at the first sign of trouble, lie for selfish reasons, and lash out at beautiful things.

The antagonist in this book is the ugliness of the world. And in the relationship that develops between Suzy and Nathan, we find the eye of the storm. Tumultuous in its own way yes—after all, romantic conflict is what makes a good novel—but ultimately the one piece of paradise that restores your soul while everything else takes bites out of you.

Stefanie Simpson has a new book coming out later this month. Lay Me Down in Ivy is currently available for preorder.

Reflections on The Close-up by Sarah Smith

Lately, I’ve been thinking about how the world needs healing, yet somehow manages to keep picking at the scabs. I’m trying to heal from a bunch of things, which often takes time I don’t have in between trying to live a normal-ish life. So, you know, I appreciate it when the normality served to me includes a big dollop of healing alongside it.

That’s what caught my eye about Sarah Smith’s latest contemporary rom-com The Close-Up. Okay, I admit, the sexy 90s webcam throwback concept got my attention first. And this author’s signature wholesome steam times draws me in too. But it was that hint of how a post-#MeToo society might heal captured in light-hearted mainstream fiction that made me appreciate this book on another level.

The Close-Up is a story about a TV producer and a camguy turned relationship expert. But it’s a far cry from that gross manipulative “seduction” stuff that arced up about a decade ago. No no, Simon Rutler — this book’s leading lad — is all about empathy, consideration, and non-toxic masculinity. Think like that bit in 22 Jump Street where Channing Tatum’s character gets woke, but this guy is self-possessed and confident instead of goofy.

Simon is a salve for those of us who’ve had enough of the “clueless male”, “hapless hubby”, and other tired true-to-life tropes that are really just passive-aggressive wilful ignorance wearing a mask.

He’s the male lead you want to be real, not because he’s some hottie dream boat (though it helps very much that he’s that too), but because he’s A DECENT HUMAN BEING. And before someone tries to #NotAllMen me, yes, there are decent men in the world. Unfortunately, they too often get overshadowed by not-decent men whose behaviour doesn’t get called out nearly often enough.

Simon Rutler, however, is decent to the point where he’ll call out bad behaviour and go one step further to suggesting better behaviour for his fellow dudebros. It’s one of many traits that makes him worthy of wishing into existence.

Sexytimes are sexytimes, which Sarah Smith handles so well in her books. But what struck me the most about The Close-Up were the underlying messages that neither men nor women have to settle for toxic masculine behaviour as the norm.

Clueless doesn’t mean blameless. And it absolutely doesn’t mean the situation’s a lost cause, because even shitty boyfriends can learn their way out of bad habits if they’re willing to do the work.

Disclosure: I am almost definitely biased. I have a personal friendship with this author, who I got to know through loving her work and watching her voice develop since her very first book.

Hot Girl Summer is about letting go of shame in a victim-blaming society

Sonia Palermo’s new book, Hot Girl Summer, is out and ready to party! Or is it? After all, this steamy contemporary Brit-rom features an MC who’s keen to move on from her old party girl ways.

Here’s author Sonia Palermo to tell us all about it…

An interview with Sonia Palermo

JL PERIDOT: Tell us a little about Sophia and what Hot Girl Summer is about.

SONIA PALERMO: When we meet Sophia at the start of her journey, she is a jaded party girl making the transition from cosmetologist to yoga teacher. She’s over casual hook-ups and emotionally stunted men. Then she meets Danny Pearce, a musician who—at the start—is rude and obnoxious. But as the story progresses, we see a different side to Danny, and Sophia’s story soon becomes theirs as they grow together and deal with previously brushed aside personal traumas and internal setbacks.   

The heart of Hot Girl Summer (title inspired by Megan Thee Stallion) is about letting go of shame in a victim-blaming society. It’s about learning to love, however that may look, and healing. It’s about being unapologetic and changing the narrative of the past to create their own happily ever after.

After the countless times I’ve read this book I can still hand on heart say that I adore this story, and the HEA still gets me every time.

JL: What is it about Sophia’s initial struggles that readers may relate to?

SONIA: I think being taken seriously as a young woman has always been a challenge for myself, and for my friends when I have spoken to them about it. I’ve been in Sophia’s shoes—a woman in her mid-twenties trying to navigate life, work, men and friendships. I didn’t have a clue who I was at that age, although I really thought I did.

Older people didn’t take me seriously because at that age you’re halfway between being a teenager and being a responsible adult. People are quick to assume that pretty, young women have no life experience outside of their privilege, and I wanted Hot Girl Summer to smash those assumptions. Everyone has their own trauma, and things they need to heal from—even if they don’t know it.

Sophia: Luke's Fuckboy Tears cocktail invention is basically a glorified Porn Star Martini, something much sweeter than how I've always imagined real fuckboy tears to taste—bitter, salty, and disappointing. From Hot Girl Summer.

JL: How much inspiration did you draw from real life and your own experiences?

SONIA: In a past life, I was a party girl. I share a lot of traits and quirks with all my characters, but I was also heavily inspired by my friends and old acquaintances. I really couldn’t tell you what the [UK] clubbing scene is like now—especially since being in a pandemic. But ten or so years ago it was great. Student nights are really popular in the UK—especially in the University towns and cities like Brighton, where this book is set.

The nightlife is buzzing and eclectic—there really is something for everyone! My inspiration for Lilura is a mash-up of two bars in Brighton—Bohemia and No. 32. Nowadays, I like to go to cute bars with decent cocktails where I can have a chat with my friends.

JL: The hot older guy trope is so very nice. What did you have to do to get in the headspace for writing a character like Danny?

SONIA: I completely agree—I’ve always been attracted to older men, and I love the age gap trope. I’ve met guys like Danny, and I thought it would be fun to explore the male ego/alter ego dynamic in a “whiskey sour hero” (term coined by Amy Andrews), and the way his own trauma has affected him and the way he is.

He hides behind that overconfident, cheeky façade but he is just as vulnerable and soft as Sophia is—and that’s one of the reasons why they’re perfect for each other. They’re super different in their lifestyles but deep down, remarkably similar. Danny is reluctant to show his vulnerability, but after the studio scene, we see a change in him. He gives Sophia that extra bit of strength she needs to overcome her trauma, and in turn she helps him let go and face his grief from the divorce.

You can't make huge life decisions based on a deck of cards. We create our own happiness. From Hot Girl Summer by Sonia Palermo.

JL: Let’s touch on THAT SCENE. Readers will know what I’m talking about when they get to it. Talk us through how that pivotal moment came about.

SONIA: Sophia is learning to let go of all the pent up fear that’s been holding her back from living a full and happy life. I suppose it’s her way of releasing what no longer serves her. Sophia’s complicated relationship with her dad makes it hard for her to let people—especially men—in. But she finds comfort in Danny’s presence.

This scene is representative of her allowing herself to let Danny in. Like it’s okay to want someone to have more of you than you’re willing to initially give, and I think this scene is a really important turning point because it shows her completely raw and vulnerable, and also shows Danny’s vulnerability, too.

There are so many things in this scene that are unsaid but understood. Like how Sophia needed to lose control for her own benefit, and to create a level playing field. She needed to express herself in a way that she knew how—that was comfortable to her, and on her terms. And she needed to release that pent up emotion. Also, it’s ultimately the push that Danny needs to realise what he actually wants.

JL: Hot Girl Summer is the first book in a series/collection? What can you tell us about the series overall?

SONIA: The series will be connected, but not in the traditional sense. The main characters in book two aren’t in Hot Girl Summer, but the entire series is set in Brighton and centres around sassy, sex-positive heroines and whiskey sour heroes with hearts of gold with a focus on healing, real-life issues, online dating culture with a ton of banter, fun, steam and of course a satisfying HEA.

JL: What’s your background and how much of that influenced this book and the other books you’re writing?

SONIA: I had a pretty basic school upbringing. I’ve worked in the beauty industry for 15 years, so I had an easy ticket to Sophia’s world. My hobbies have heavily influenced my character’s jobs, too—yoga, personal training, and baking/cooking (a little teaser for book 2). Also, I owe the food connections in Hot Girl Summer and the other books in the series to my Italian heritage.

JL: Finally, what is one thing you hope readers will take away from your book?

SONIA: I hope that readers find comfort in the knowledge that it’s ok to be vulnerable, and to own the power that we all carry inside of us.

Hot Girl Summer by Sonia Palermo

Sophia DeLuca is over casual hook-ups. Between her sister’s eating disorder, her track record of falling for fuckboys, and a lifetime of being written off as a shallow flake, “failure to launch” may as well be her middle name.

Under false pretences and a fake name, she meets Danny Pearce, an obnoxious musician on the opposite end of the millennial spectrum. Danny is cocky, rude, and a contender for fuckboy of the year.

After a series of serendipitous encounters and a secret gig, Sophia unexpectedly falls for Danny. But when he is faced with his own demons, Sophia must reclaim her power and forgive the past, or risk losing the only thing that’s real.

About Sonia Palermo

Sonia Palermo writes fun, sexy, steamy contemporary romance with sex-positive, sassy-but-soft heroines and cinnamon roll heroes.

Twitter / Goodreads / Instagram

Fresh Find: The Boy with the Bookstore by Sarah Smith — cover reveal

Sarah Echavarre Smith just launched a SURPRISE COVER REVEAL for her upcoming book The Boy With The Bookstore!

Max Boyson looks good…from a distance. But up close and personal, the tattooed hottie Joelle Prima has been crushing on for the past year and half has turned into the prime example of why you shouldn’t judge a book by his delectable cover. 

When she first learned about the massive renovation to the building they share, Joelle imagined that temporarily combining her Filipino bakery with Max’s neighboring bookstore would be the perfect opening chapter to their happily ever after. In her fantasies they fed each other bibingka and pandesal while discussing Jane Austen and cooing over her pet hamster, Pumpkin. Reality, however…is quite different. Her gallant prince turned out to be a stubborn toad who snaps at her in front of customers, dries his wet clothes in her oven, and helps himself to the yummy pastries in her display case without asking. 

But beneath Max’s grumpy glares, Joelle senses a rising heat—and a softening heart. And when they discover the real reason for the renovation, they’ll have to put both their business senses and their feelings for each other to the test.

Coming 6 September 2022.

Genres: Romance, Romcom, Contemporary Romance

Fresh Find: Vibes & Feels by Sarah Skye

Vibes & Feels is Sarah Skye’s latest contemporary romance and an absolute treasure of a book. I laughed, I cried, and I fell in love with a reformed arsehole who did the hard yards to redeem himself (because, honestly, who wouldn’t?).

It’s irreverently clever and sexy and wholesome and I’m gonna fill this room up to my waist if I don’t stop gushing now. So how about we just show you it…

Vibes & Feels by Sarah Skye

Marco Woodruff has hit rock bottom. He drunkenly propositioned his ex-girlfriend at his own wedding rehearsal dinner just over a year ago and ended up dumped and jobless with a broken nose. He’s been the pariah of his social circle ever since. Now, he’s trying like hell to change for the better.

Morgan Paulsen loathes Marco. He’s nothing more than the douchebag who broke her best friend Lily’s heart. He’s also the last person in the world she expects to help when she finds herself in a crisis. Her ailing grandma needs a full-time caretaker, something she can’t afford. So when Marco offers to look after Gram for free, Morgan takes it as a sign from the universe and reluctantly accepts under one condition: that they never tell anyone about their arrangement.

But Morgan quickly realizes Marco has a completely different vibe these days. The sweet guy who whips up homemade meals for her Gram and happily escorts her to bridge club definitely isn’t the douchebag she remembers. She’s falling hard for the tall, dark, and handsome hottie who kisses like a demon and rocks out to BTS and Taylor Swift. Marco is equally smitten with beautiful, badass Morgan. Never in his life has he felt so content and comfortable than with her. Never did he think he was capable of feeling so much for somebody.

Soon they’re falling hard into total bliss and blazing passion. But if they make it official, Morgan will lose her best friend forever. Can she come clean to Lily? Can Marco prove that therapy and cutting out his toxic family have really changed him? Or will being open about their love ruin everything?

Fresh Find: Hot Girl Summer by Sonia Palermo — cover reveal

My dear friend, author Sonia Palermo, is releasing her debut novel next month! Courtesy of Xpresso Tours, this is our first glimpse at the gorgeous cover for a steamy contemporary romance about forgiveness and fresh starts.

A woman in a short black dress takes a photo of a man in a white shirt and a dog wearing a kerchief. They stand on a pier looking out at the London Eye on the cover of Hot Girl Summer by Sonia Palermo.

Hot Girl Summer
Sonia Palermo
Publication: March 14th 2022
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Sophia DeLuca is over casual hook-ups. Between her sister’s eating disorder, her track record of falling for fuckboys, and a lifetime of being written off as a shallow flake, “failure to launch” may as well be her middle name.

Under false pretences and a fake name, she meets Danny Pearce, an obnoxious musician on the opposite end of the millennial spectrum. Danny is cocky, rude, and a contender for fuckboy of the year.

After a series of serendipitous encounters and a secret gig, Sophia unexpectedly falls for Danny. But when he is faced with his own demons, Sophia must reclaim her power and forgive the past, or risk losing the only thing that’s real.

Add to Goodreads / Pre-order

About the author

A brown-haired woman with striking eyes subtly smiles.

Sonia Palermo writes fun, sexy, steamy contemporary romance with sex-positive, sassy-but-soft heroines and cinnamon roll heroes.

Twitter / Goodreads / Instagram


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Fresh Find: I Don’t Want to Wake Up by Chelle de Notte

Chelle de Notte’s latest release is a contemporary romance in her Hearts on Fire novella series, a collection of steamy firefighter romances brought to you by Evernight Publishing.

I had the pleasure of reading I Don’t Want to Wake Up when it was still in beta, and am so excited this week to get to share it with you.

But first, here’s the author herself to tell us more about it…

An interview with Chelle de Notte

JL PERIDOT: Chelle, tell us about your new book, I Don’t Want to Wake Up. Why will readers love Kat and Mike?

CHELLE DE NOTTE: These two characters get together thinking they’ve hit the jackpot — she’s sleeping with a hot firefighter, and he’s with a gorgeous masseuse who knows how to use her hands everywhere!

But as the relationship deepens, the realities and dangers of each other’s jobs set in. If they’re going to be together, they have to figure out how to handle that, especially in light of exes who were less than supportive of their professions.

JL: Your previous book in the Hearts on Fire series was a firefighter (and day spa) romance too. What inspired you to connect these two professions in your series?

CHELLE: The firefighters originated with a secondary character in An Especially Hot Summer, a female firefighter who works a tough job in a mostly male environment, but lets her feminine side out in full force off duty. As for the day spa, a professional massage is an incredibly intimate experience, and it was interesting to see the characters interact after experiencing that together.

JL: So, what inspired this book?

CHELLE: At the end of Never So Grateful, there’s a mention of two side characters exchanging smiles across the Thanksgiving dinner table. This story brings them into the spotlight and gives them a romance. I hope it gives readers of the previous book a sense of reuniting with friends, and I hope new readers will connect to the camaraderie, sense of place, and steam of the story.

JL: What kind of research did you have to do to write this story?

CHELLE: Because I don’t want to readers to wonder how my characters can afford their New York apartments, I had to do some research on which Brooklyn neighborhoods they could conceivably afford. From there, I found myself studying subway maps to see how they’d get from Manhattan to home and how they could have somewhat easy access to each other.

When I’m writing about New York characters in general, I like to visit their neighborhoods to get an idea of their everyday lives. And sometimes when I mention a certain food, I’ll buy or make it, then eat it more mindfully than usual so I can describe the flavors better.

One regret about writing these stories during a pandemic was that I couldn’t go for a spa treatment in the name of research. 😂

JL: And of course, you’ll have had plenty of research into the holidays for the Christmas elements in this novella. What are some of your favourite holiday tropes?

CHELLE: Some of my favorite fictional holiday tropes are snowed in together (this drives me stir crazy in real life!) and people taking chances/doing things they normally wouldn’t because “tis the season.”

It also warms my heart to see characters get gifts with special meanings, whether inside jokes or marks of how well they understand each other, and I try to be a thoughtful gift giver to my loved ones.

JL: Finally, what’s next in the world of Chelle de Notte?

CHELLE: Jake’s story is next – not only does he get a romance, but we learn why he had glitter on his face. While I wait for my first round of edits on that, I’ve started notes for future Hearts on Fire novellas.

I Don’t Want to Wake Up by Chelle de Notte

He’s a hot firefighter…

Between the demands of his job and his own work ethic, it takes a lot to get Lieutenant Mike Devierse to loosen up and relax. One woman managed it, and Kat’s at his firehouse’s Thanksgiving dinner.

She’s a beautiful masseuse…

In Kat Kominsky’s work at a spa, all the people she meets and massages tend to blur together. There are some standouts, though, and she’s excited to see Mike outside a professional capacity.

As Kat and Mike grow closer, their time together is right out of a fantasy. But will they be able to handle the moment when the reality of each other’s jobs sets in?

About Chelle de Notte

As a kid, Chelle de Notte had a reputation for turning in 30-page creative writing assignments. As an adult, she balances her passion for fiction with a day job in real estate.

Because she is already a creator, Chelle doesn’t feel the need to give birth. She doesn’t smoke and hardly ever drinks, but can’t turn down a dirty chai with almond milk. When she’s not writing, she’s active in the local barre scene.

Fresh Find: Neon Hearts by Stefanie Simpson

Today, I’m so very excited to feature Stefanie Simpson and her upcoming release, NEON HEARTS. She is without a doubt one of my top romance authors of all time. Everything she writes makes me reflect on life, people, society. Her books are thinking, feeling books, couched in her insightful perspective on modern romance.

Love isn’t neat. And Stefanie Simpson’s work captures this so very well.

Pink and blue lit promo for NEON HEARTS by Stefanie Simpson. Text reads: Danger brought love, but hope? 29th March

An interview with Stefanie Simpson

JL PERIDOT: Stef, I understand your writing journey is more like an odyssey. Tell us a bit about that.

STEFANIE SIMPSON: Thank you for having me on your blog, JL! I’ve been disabled for about 20 years, but ten years ago I had a TIA. Up until then I’d been a painter as well as working full time. I had to listen to my body and change how I lived and stopped fighting it.

What happened creatively was I could no longer paint, and as I recovered, I was flooded with ideas. I think my creativity shifted from a physical visual medium to one of words. I went back to work part-time and started writing.

In 2015 my health deteriorated to the point I thought I was possibly not long for the world. I had a real impetus through that to finish and publish something to leave a record of my existence in the world.

I made every mistake possible but through the last six years, I’ve learnt a lot. My approach is that I sit with an idea, think about it almost obsessively, and work through the scenes, all in my head on repeat, then churn out a messy draft. I do endless rounds of edits from big dev to line edits. Often I’ll sit on books for several months, rotating projects depending on how I’m feeling and how well I am.

JL: Tell us a bit about your latest book.

STEFANIE: Neon Hearts is pretty special to me. Writing disabled characters, especially ones that I share a commonality with, has been a long process to feel able to articulate that truth, and I’ve been working on Neon Hearts on and off for about four years. It’s taken on many different versions until I realised what I’d never done was explore acquiring a disability, in particular, a brain injury.

So I shifted the focus from being full suspense to suspense lite, where the action mainly takes place off-page. And what we see is a character exploration of self-love and acceptance through the dynamic of romance.

The hero is also disabled, to a point, and has facial differences through surviving a fire. This trope is not uncommon in romance, and I don’t like how it’s generally treated. It falls into a twisted beauty and the beast mentality, and that backwards superficial concept is usually dehumanising. So I wanted to have this guy who is very scarred and really handsome. He understands trauma and medical trauma, and I think it falls into hurt/comfort in many ways, where he supports the heroine.

 

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Most of the book is drawn from my experiences and existing knowledge of working in the medical sector for a decade, but I tried to get a relatively accurate approximation of how the UK legal system works regarding impact statements and liaison officers and how survivors move through and navigate the system. It makes people relatively inactive. The agency is in the choice to participate.

Bea often finds herself as an inactive protagonist because people have to do things for her, medically or legally, and she’s within a well-developed system one uses rather than dictates. It goes against most writing conventions, so articulating her form of agency within that was a challenge.

JL: NEON HEARTS is part of a bigger body of work, isn’t it? Actually, you have two main bodies of work. What should new readers know about them, and do you have a favourite book of all time?

STEFANIE: The key difference is that NEW CITY SERIES are novels or short novels, in third person and dual perspectives.

I started writing in first person as an exercise and ended up with a bunch of shorter works in single POV. I felt the need to distinguish them as slightly separate but akin with lots of character crossover, so went with A NEW CITY STORY as a spin-off series which also works completely standalone. They felt more immediate, and I think they work out kinkier as a whole series, though that wasn’t intentional.

I can never pick a favourite, it’s usually whatever I’m closest to at any given moment. So that’s NEON HEARTS right now.

JL: So, you’ve had these incredible stories in the works for years and if I’ve heard right, you’re nearing the end of the books you had originally planned? How are you feeling at this point?

STEFANIE: This has been increasingly difficult for me to be honest, my health peaks and troughs and this is the last book in this series, and there are some things I want to do for A NEW CITY STORY if I’m able. I say I’m retiring, but I don’t think I will, what I’m doing though is stepping back from this cycle.

I intentionally chose self-publishing because trad and many presses are not accessible to me. The accommodations I might require, and my health’s instability mean that I have to be flexible for my wellbeing. There’s a lot I can’t do that I’m told I’m supposed to, and it keeps my reach small, and that’s fine with me.

What’s difficult is that I’ve struggled with each publication’s stress versus returns ratio and taken steps back or paused or taken pressure off myself throughout this process, and I’ve been burning out for just over a year now. So to preserve my health, I’m getting off that roundabout.

I might get back on it, and I’m definitely going to keep working, but I’ll have to decide what that looks like when this is finished, but I want to see it out to say, this is what I’ve achieved. I’ll feel disappointed if I don’t.

 

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JL: Now, I have to ask—what has writing been like for you throughout lockdown?

STEFANIE: Pretty much the same as before! I’m housebound and require assistance if I need to go anywhere, and my husband is also my carer. He’s made the garden accessible for me so I can be outside more now.

Usually, we’ll take short trips to places, so obviously, we’ve not been able to do that. Being at home for very long periods is difficult, and the stress that goes with the circumstances is probably the biggest factor. I have lots of coping mechanisms for it, such as designating a weekly routine versus a daily one and keeping it flexible depending on my health.

JL: Finally, what is one thing you hope readers will take away from NEON HEARTS?

STEFANIE: That being disabled is normal. It’s ok. Disabled is not a dirty word. That we deserve love and happy endings. Disabled people are people.

Anyone can become disabled, and society is so fixed on its narrative of us, we’re immediately dehumanised and reclaiming that and making us visible and mainstream is monumentally important.

We’re often reduced to an inspiration meme to make non-disabled people feel better and what I hope comes across in NEON HEARTS is that finding our new normal and the best quality of life we can is important. How that manifests, and accessibility is a struggle, but nobody needs to overcome anything, other than ableism. We are not the villain, we’re not better off dead, and we don’t exist to teach non-disabled people a lesson.

I didn’t write this book with an abled gaze, it’s not important to me, I wrote this for me and other disabled people because giving disabled people a happy ending is radical.

Neon Hearts by Stefanie Simpson

Pink and blue lit promo for NEON HEARTS by Stefanie Simpson

Danger brought love, but hope?

Bea strikes up an online friendship with Josh, the mod of her disability support group, as she adapts to her new disabled reality after a serious accident. When the danger that’s dogged her for months closes in, she flees to Josh’s home during a terrible snowstorm, knowing he’s the only one she can go to.

Josh needed to cut ties with his security job and life in Chadford, to seek solace in the hills and valleys of home. His intense connection and friendship with Bea made him second guess his isolated life. He could protect her, but it would take him back to a dark place. Yet letting her go is impossible.

Being apart only makes them see how much they need each other, finding that they don’t have to be strong or alone. They are enough, disabled and scarred, and beautiful.

This romance contains a happy ever after.

Content warning. Depictions of medical care, including coma. References to past medical trauma. References to and a brief description of a car accident. Moderate threat and peril. Suspense-lite, mostly off-page references to crime. PTSD. Brief court case appearance. Challenged ableism. Strong language. Explicit sexual content, including a soft femdom dynamic, masturbation, oral, penetration including pegging.

Available 29th March. Preorder NEON HEARTS.

About Stefanie Simpson

Author Stefanie Simpson wears glasses, red lipstick and her wavy ginger hair in a long, asymmetrical style

old goth. 5 raccoons in a trench coat. anxiety. disabled. she/her. bites. taken. switch. smol dragon. TYPOS #romance #author. Filthy deviant harpy ♡

Fresh Find: Sips & Strokes by Sarah Skye

I am over the moon about the cover reveal for this book. Sips & Strokes is the whisky-flavoured, fake-relationship delight by Sarah Skye, the debut book collaboration between two of my favourite romance authors, Sarah Smith and Skye McDonald from Quick & Dirty Romance.

And because it’s by these two troublemakers, you know this book will be full of gushy lovey-dovey moments, stunning sexy exchanges, and a great attitude and writing style. Here’s the scoop:

Sips & Strokes
Sarah Skye
Publication date: April 20th 2021
Genres: Adult, Comedy, Contemporary, Romance

Lily Maldonado is screwed. The people-pleasing art professor has been roped into attending her ex’s wedding by her overbearing, image-obsessed parents. Even worse? The woman her ex is marrying is Lily’s childhood bully. She can’t back out, but she’s not sure she can face this nightmare solo.

Enter Calder Ross. The sexy Scot’s abs have graced the cover of many romance novel bestsellers, but the reformed playboy needs a more serious image if he wants to land his dream job as the spokesman for Sonce Whisky. Modeling for Lily’s figure drawing class is step one in the right direction.

After their very adorable—and very naked—meet-cute, Lily and Calder realize that they can be each other’s saving grace. Lily can bring Calder to the wedding as her fake boyfriend to ward off pitying stares. Calder can bring Lily to Sonce events as his fake girlfriend to show he’s the responsible, relationship-minded guy that execs want as the face of their brand.

But the longer Lily and Calder play pretend, the harder it becomes to deny the very real chemistry between them. Will they play it safe and stick to their fake roles? Or will they throw out the playbook completely and risk it all for love?

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Fresh Find: Building on Broken Dreams by Lyndell Williams

Lyndell Williams once published a blog post titled, Muslims do that?!

It about summed up my astonishment and delight when I first stumbled upon her work. Her stories depict Muslim couples navigating love and sensuality within their unique cultural and social environment. They’re about sex, love, faith, passion… all the goodies you want in a romantic, erotic piece of art.

It’s with great excitement that I’m getting to participate in the book blitz for her latest release, Building on Broken Dreams. Here’s everything you need to know about this erotic suspense romance.

A white man kisses a Black woman on the cover of Building on Broken Dreams by Lyndell Williams

Building on Broken Dreams by Lyndell Williams

He’s everything she wants, but can she trust another man?

From award-winning writer and bestselling author Lyndell Williams, a steamy romance that tests the boundaries of faith and yearning.

If Maryam Avery stays in New York for one more day, she will die.

Trapped in an abusive relationship with the manipulative and cruel Raad, she can feel her life closing in around her. After he chases her from her home and family, Maryam flees to Philadelphia, searching desperately for a new beginning, something to help rebuild her spiritually and physically.

When she meets the mysterious Adam, things are thrown off-kilter. A successful businessperson with his own past that he is fleeing from, he is everything that Maryam wants. But can she trust another man?

Doubt gives way to desire. They find themselves in a whirlwind romance, and for once, it seems like everything will work out.

Until Raad turns up.

Release Date: 14 October 2020
Genre(s): Erotic romance, romantic suspense, erotic suspense, interracial romance, Muslim romance, BWWM romance

Excerpt

Maryam finished cooking and stood in the hall, holding a thermos of hot coffee in one hand and an egg sandwich half-wrapped in aluminum foil in the other. How angry was he? What is he going to do to her?

Adam strode toward her, grumbling and fumbling with his belt buckle. “Eight months of work shot to hell.” He stopped. His glower transformed into a grin that reached his hazel eyes. “What’s this?”

She plastered on a smile and batted her lashes at a speed almost matching the cadence of her heart. “I thought you could take it with you.”

His shoulders relaxed. He held her face in his hands. “You’re something else, Mary. You know—” he sprayed her lips with kisses “—I owe you a honeymoon. How about I arrange one?”

“I’d like that.”

He pressed her backward, pinning her between his body and the wall. The heat reignited and waved through her, burning away any fear or anxiety. He might have been angry, but not with her, and he would not take it out on her. She balanced the sandwich and mug in her hands. Her breathing got heavier with each nip to her neck. “Adam.”

He stepped back and reached into her robe. “Mary,” he groaned and yanked her panties from her hips while uttering a dua. Already moist white lace and satin fell to her feet. He propped against the wall across from her and ripped open his pants snap and zipper. “When you same my name like that, I got to have you.”

“But your friend.”

“Will wait.” His rough hands spanned up her thighs and clenched her rear, lifting her. His breath rushed into her ear. “I want you now. Do you want this D or not?”

His throbbing stiffness titillated her fiery folds. “Yes.” She locked her legs around his hips at her ankles and squeezed his broad shoulders as he stretched and filled her. “Adam, please.” She slowly blinked at the bobbing picture of Mecca hanging on the opposite as he bounced her on his stiffness. The movement of their bodies fed a mounting desire. Their first time together had been so tender. He had eased her fears and brought her to ecstasy. Now, the raw lust surging between them infused every inch of her in a way she had never felt before. It was all so glorious. She tucked her heels under his tense bottom, stilling his thrusts and unleashing a carnal shriek from deep inside. He soon roared in release and set her down. She panted, leaning against the wall and letting her legs drop.

He trailed pecks up her neck before stealing her air with a lingering kiss on her lips. He pinned her gaze while adjusting and closing his pants. “You don’t know what you do to me, Mary. I’ve never wanted someone so much.” He disappeared into the kitchen. Water ran for a moment before he came back, taking the thermos and crushed sandwich from her hands. “I’ll be back in time for the next prayer.” He offered salams and bit into it, strutting away and disappearing into the morning light, flooding the opened door.

About Lyndell Williams

Lyndell Williams is an award-winning writer and bestselling author. She is a cultural critic with a background in literary criticism specializing in romance. She is an editor, writing coach and mentor. She has been published in peer-reviewed journals and writes for multiple online publications.