Thursday, July 31, 2014

A Young Girl Longs to Escape Polygamy and Abuse in #Yefon: The Red Necklace #Giveaway

A powerful, emotional tale of ambition and courage by Cameroonian-born Sahndra Fon Dufe, the Common Wealth of Nations recognized author of 'Dear momma'. (2004)

Yefon: The RedNecklace (YRN) is the first book of the YEFON trilogy series. It will have you wrapped up with emotions you didn’t know you had!

Young tribal girl, Yefon Labam, knows she’s different.

During the 1950s, in her Central African village, women are uneducated and are expected to either work on a farm or be one of many wives, but Yefon dares for more—she wants to learn how to read, even if looking at a book could mean her death. Although everyone thinks she’s an abomination, including her mother and sisters, her father knows she’s destined for greater things.

When he is murdered, Yefon clings to the gift he gave her for inspiration—a red necklace. She soon comes to realize that the necklace is no ordinary ornament, but a talisman crafted by the spirits. Yefon walks a dangerous path that could lead to her freedom…or her death.


5% from the sales of EACH copy of YEFON hardcover novel is going to one of the following charities:


***************MY REVIEW************

I liked this heroine very much and also appreciated the peek into another culture and their ways. There's polygamy, child abuse (though it's acceptable in this time and place, among these people), and lots of details about the tribe's cultures, customs, mannerisms, and clothing (or lack of it.) Born in 1940, Yefon guides us through the fifties from her childhood to womanhood and the period in her life when she began wanting more from life. Not content to be a man's first, second, or third wife, nor to stay at home where she's beaten for every imagined slight, Yefon dreams of going to the city, of making something of herself. She just doesn't know what.

One of the most interesting things to me was how her Albino sister was looked upon. Other villagers even wanted to sacrifice her. I love how Yefon is quick to come to the rescue, even though her sister never helps her. It goes to show that one can be a better person, despite what they are surrounded by.

There is one major downside though, and that is the narrative. I don't mind the first-person narrative, not at all. It is completely appropriate for this story, but it's all telling/no showing and at times I found myself drifting or getting bored.

Buy the book from.....

Actress/ Writer/ Producer/ Humanitarian/ CEO

Cameroonian-born author, actress, humanitarian and business mogul Sahndra Fon Dufe is the young CEO of African Pictures International, and the co-founder of Gifted Minds Africa Foundation.

She works at exposing the history, culture, and truth about Africa, women and the spirit within. The remarkable actress has been featured in numerous feature films, and commercials, and presently lives in Los Angeles with her hunk of a man, a closet full of shoes and too many vintage clothes.

Sahndra spends her spare time perfecting her craft and soul-searching, on a journey to regain wholeness and cure the spirit. She also hunts for Egyptian artifacts, pieces which have captivated her imagination since childhood.

Author's Website/ Book Website/ Facebook/ Twitter/ Goodreads/

The children's book is coming soon!


I received this book to review through Beck Valley Books Book Tours, all the opinions above are 100% my own.


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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Manroot: A Novel of Rights and Wrongs

Manroot by Anne Steinberg is not a new work.  According to the About The Author notes, it was Steinberg's debut novel originally published with acclaim in the UK in 1994.  I am reviewing a 2014 edition of this novel.  I received it as a gift from the author in return for an honest review.


The cover has been praised as being atmospheric.  It is indeed, but if this cover had been the only thing I knew about Manroot before I read it , I would have assumed that the book took place in the vicinity of some haunted Louisiana bayou. I would have been wrong.  The events of Manroot take place in the Ozarks over the course of a thirty year period beginning in 1939.  Steinberg fast forwards from the 1940's to the 1960's which allows her to display social change and radical differences in values.  That's why I shelved it on Goodreads as historical fiction.  It isn't historical in the sense of dealing directly with major historical events, but it does describe the way people lived and thought in two distinct eras.

Others have shelved and reviewed this book as a romance.  When I look at the predominant content of Manroot, I don't have that impression.  There was a brief romantic interlude which reminded me very much of the similar interlude that took place between Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale in The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, but the consequences were much worse for Manroot's protagonist Katherine  Sheahan.  She was a despised "half-breed" who was already stigmatized before she fell in love with a married man.

From the perspective of 21st century readers, it is difficult to understand how Katherine managed to pick herself up and go on with her life after the terrible events that transpire in the town where she had her short-lived romance.  We wonder why she isn't angry or paralyzed by trauma.  The answer is that both responses would have been luxuries in her situation, and Katherine was a survivor. Survival mattered more to her than justice.  She was also a gifted healer who was fully capable of healing herself. 

I agree with those reviewers who really liked the herbalism aspect, but it's not a source of high drama.  No one wanted to draw and quarter Katherine for providing an alternative to the treatments of medical doctors.  In fact, her skills in this area are the main reason why she was accepted.  I especially enjoyed seeing the increased interest in her herbalism in the 1960's.

The source of Katherine's herbal knowledge was her Navajo grandmother who isn't really shown in the novel, but she may have been like the Navajo herbalist elders of the Plant Watchers Society in the Aimee and David Thurlo mystery, Plant Them Deep.

 The trouble is that Katherine's behavior is contrary to the beliefs of traditional Navajos.  Those who have read Tony Hillerman and the Thurlos are aware that traditional Navajos avoid contact with the spirits of the dead who are called chindi.  Find out more by following the link I provided to the Wikipedia article on the subject.  Let's just say that avoidance isn't Katherine's strategy.  It seems likely that this could be offensive to some Navajo readers, but spirits provide the paranormal aspect of the novel.  The paranormal content doesn't become dominant until fairly late in Manroot.

Skeptics who are determined to find an alternative explanation for the resolution of this novel can probably find one.  Yet if we accept Katherine's version, then it raises a number of questions.  Should we judge actions by their consequences, or are there actions that are always wrong regardless of their context?  Could Katherine have deceived herself into thinking her actions were justified?  Are those who considered Katherine insane correct?  I leave these matters up to the individual reader.

This book is full of both darkness and light.  I found it absorbing, well-written and troubling.  I don't recommend Manroot to people who prefer comfortable reading that doesn't ask disturbing questions.  I do recommend it to people who like their fiction to be memorable.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours Book Blast: Lies Told In Silence by M.K. Tod #Giveaway

 photo 0739464c-670b-4fd2-87af-2b2ad8119519.png

Publication Date: June 29, 2014
Tod Publishing
Formats: eBook, Paperback

Genre: Historical Fiction

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02_Lies Told in Silence CoverIn 1914 Paris half the city expects war while the other half scoffs at the possibility.

With knowledge gained from his role at the War Department, Henri Noisette fears that Germany may soon attack Paris. He therefore sends his wife, mother and two younger children to Beaufort, a small village in northern France. By late 1914, instead of a safe haven, Beaufort is less than twenty miles from the front.

As war unfolds, Henri’s daughter, Helene, grows up quickly and in 1917 falls in love with Edward Jamieson, a young Canadian soldier.

The novel examines love and loss, duty and sacrifice and the unexpected consequence of lies.

Praise for Lies Told in Silence

‘Dramatically depicts the horror and heartbreak of war, while also celebrating the resilience of the human spirit.’ - SHARON KAY PENMAN author of A King’s Ransom

'An intricate, well-researched novel of life forever changed by WWI yet still sweet with the tender innocence of the age.’ - DONNA RUSSO MORIN author of The King’s Agent

‘M.K. Tod is a powerful new voice in the historical fiction genre.’ - AMY BRUNO Historical fiction blogger at Passages to the Past

‘An absorbing and rewarding historical read .. depicting the ruinous impact of war on human lives across the generations.’ - MARGARET EVANS PORTER author of The Proposal

‘A compelling read right up to its taut page-turning ending.’ - RICHARD LEE founder of the Historical Novel Society

Buy the Book

03_M.K. TodAbout the Author

M.K. Tod has enjoyed a passion for historical novels that began in her early teenage years immersed in the stories of Rosemary Sutcliff, Jean Plaidy and Georgette Heyer. During her twenties, armed with Mathematics and Computer Science degrees, she embarked on a career in technology and consulting continuing to read historical fiction in the tiny snippets of time available to working women with children to raise.

In 2004, she moved to Hong Kong with her husband and no job. To keep busy Mary decided to research her grandfather’s part in the Great War. What began as an effort to understand her grandparents’ lives blossomed into a full time occupation as a writer. Her debut novel is UNRAVELLED: Two wars, Two affairs. One Marriage. LIES TOLD IN SILENCE, her second novel, is set in WWI France and tells the story of Helene Noisette who featured in Unravelled. Mary has an active blog - - which discusses all aspects of historical fiction and includes author and reader interviews. Additionally, she is a book reviewer for the Historical Novel Society. Mary lives in Toronto where she is happily married with two adult children.

Connect with M.K. Tod on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Lies Told in Silence Blog Tour & Book Blast Schedule

Monday, July 28
Review at Unshelfish
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Book Blast at Our Wolves Den

Tuesday, July 29
Review at Just One More Chapter
Book Blast at Book Babe
Book Blast at A Book Geek
Book Blast at Mel's Shelves

Wednesday, July 30
Review at Bookish
Guest Post at Just One More Chapter
Book Blast at Passages to the Past

Thursday, July 31
Book Blast at Royalty Free Fiction

Friday, August 1
Book Blast at Back Porchervations
Book Blast at So Many Books, So Little Time

Saturday, August 2
Book Blast at Mythical Books

Monday, August 4
Review & Guest Post at A Bookish Affair
Book Blast at Historical Tapestry

Tuesday, August 5
Book Blast at Layered Pages
Book Blast at Princess of Eboli
Book Blast at What Is That Book About

Wednesday, August 6
Book Blast at Literary Chanteuse
Book Blast at Caroline Wilson Writes

Thursday, August 7
Review at The Book Binder's Daughter
Book Blast at Kinx's Book Nook

Friday, August 8
Book Blast at The Maiden's Court

Monday, August 11
Review at Dianne Ascroft Blog
Book Blast at Svetlana's Reads and Views

Tuesday, August 12
Book Blast at Book Nerd
Book Blast at The Bookworm

Wednesday, August 13
Review at The Writing Desk

Thursday, August 14
Book Blast at Words and Peace
Book Blast at CelticLady's Reviews

Friday, August 15
Review at Lost in Books
Book Blast at The Mad Reviewer

Sunday, August 17
Book Blast at Brooke Blogs

Monday, August 18
Review at The Librarian Fatale
Review at Historical Fiction Notebook


To win a copy of M.K. Tod's Lies Told In Silence please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway form below. Giveaway is open internationally!

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Monday, July 28, 2014

A Young Woman Chases China But Finds Love & Truth in Chasing China by Kay Bratt

Chasing China; A Daughter's Quest for Truth I've read most of Ms. Bratt's books by now and I thought (quite mistakenly) that I couldn't possibly learn anything new about the Chinese adoption/child services. While her other stories def touch on the abuse of the system and the conditions of the orphanages, none of them really went into the details this story does. As the heroine travels to China to search for answers, readers learn about the orphanage systems: how they bathe the children, feed the children, how the sick doesn't get the healthcare they need, why they do some of the things they do that we may construe as abuse or neglect.

There's one scene in particular that really impacted me, in which we meet a young girl who was badly crippled on purpose for begging purposes. I'll never forget this. Ever.

Besides being educational, there's also an underlying feeling of suspense and at times, thrill. Mia's search for why she was abandoned as a baby leads to her hiding on a ledge six stories up while her room is ransacked and also takes her to a secret group called The Finders. I loved the mystery and the quest to get answers.

There's a romance, but it's very subtle, no "juicy" details. It's very clean and doesn't get very in depth.

And as normal with a Bratt novel, there's a moral, at least to me. Others may not read what I read. We all interpret things differently, but to me the moral was about how quick we are to assume the worst. For whatever reason, we may think we are not loved...and yet we couldn't be far from the truth. That's all I'll say about that.

Terrific read. Some minor irritations, such as change of tense/POV suddenly and just little things that I was a tad confused about at times.

I think this was a freebie on Amazon. I may have bought it. I don't remember. Sorry, FTC.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Duchess: A Movie That Shows Just How Badly Women Were Oppressed

I wanted to watch this movie because 1. It's from BBC. They rarely do wrong. 2. It's a period drama with amazing costumes. 3. It says on Amazon, "A chronicle of the life of 18th century aristocrat Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, who was reviled for her extravagant political and personal life."

I don't know how the heck she was involved in politics beyond promoting her lover and introducing him to crowds, to be quite frank. That's literally all we saw in this movie regarding her politics, beyond a few witty remarks about freedom during a dinner.

BBC missed the mark with this one, though I'll admit that this movie really showed us just how very oppressed women were in the late 1700s, early 1800s. We were merely chattels, baby-birthing machines. If the husband said, "I'm going to have my mistress live right here, under your very  nose, at your very dinner table, and if you don't like it and accept it, I'll just take our kids away from you," that was law. By law, according to this movie, it was a husband's right, even, to beat his wife with a stick, as long as it was no wider than his thumb.

"Thomas Gainsborough Lady Georgiana Cavendish"
by Thomas Gainsborough - Unknown. Licensed
under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons -
But in all honesty, I hated this movie. Was it eye-opening? Yes. But so very miserable and they didn't show me what made this woman remarkable at all. So if she wore a giant feather in her hair, everyone copied her. Whoopee doo.

The movie portrays her as a woman who merely rebelled against her husband just long enough to get knocked up and then lived the rest of her days under his thumb, with his stinking mistress right under her nose. Not a very remarkable woman at all, not unless you give  her points for being accepting of BS.

Frankly, I wouldn't have wasted my time making a movie about her. Or if I had, I would have actually focused on this supposed political career or whatever she had.

A miserable two hours.

I rented this on Amazon Prime.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Reading Radar 7/26/2014

Spotted whilst doing my monthly women in aviation search on Amazon, Navy Blue by J.M. Stenfors has hit the wishlist. It's about the WAVES.

Navy BlueIn 1943 the United States is engaged in a global, life-and-death struggle with Germany, Japan, and Italy. Widespread fighting draws American men into the armed services, leaving a shortage in the country's workforce. Women find themselves in roles normally reserved for males. WAVES-Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Services-forms to integrate females into the Navy and to fill the workforce gap.

Navy Blue follows four young recruits as they leave their civilian lives behind and struggle to adapt to the regimented life in the U.S. Navy. Honing her skills for management as a protegee of an industrial genius, practical Lou Matteson finds herself the leader of a diverse crew of young women. Martha Jo Stuckey, the wild child of a poor ranching family, clowns her way through life. Her unfailing good humor makes the military bearable for her friends.

Wealthy Eleanor LaFrance leads the privileged life even as she rebels against it. A loner by nature, Eleanor finds she needs friends to survive in an environment that demands teamwork. Shy, naive Katherine Anderson faces disappointment and betrayal by the men in her life. Her mates, providing encouragement and kindness, stand by her side. Together they form a solid sisterhood allowing them to thrive in a man's world.

A tale of three unforgettable years in the lives of four young women, "Navy Blue" narrates the story of times when the world balanced between good and evil and speaks to the power of women and the endurance of the human spirit.


Spotted on NG and promises to be amusing...Dog Training the American Male by L.A. Knight.

Dog Training the American MaleMeet Dr. Nancy Beach, a relationship counselor who hosts a local radio show called Love s a Beach. One problem: The relationship guru can t seem to make her own relationships work, sending her credibility and ratings into the toilet. Meet Jacob Cope a walking thesaurus of phobias a Lehman Brothers casualty who s lost his job and swagger and now yearns to be a ventriloquist. When Nancy and Jacob are set up on a blind date and hit it off, their siblings, desperate to be rid of them, encourage the young couple to move in together. When the honeymoon stage abruptly ends, Jacob attempts to mend the fence by adopting a dog a big dog and Nancy flips out . . . until she realizes the dog trainer s techniques can be used to housebreak Jacob and save her radio career.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Life Upon the Wicked Stage: A Guest Post from Author and Former Actress Beth Matthews #Giveaway

As I'm fond of saying: in my misspent youth, once upon a time, I was an actress. And it was a whole lot of fun. Amongst other things, I met my future husband when we did A Midsummer Night's Dream together many years ago. (He was the sexiest damn fairy you ever did see. ;P).

My experiences on that play and others definitely helped inspire me to write MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S FLING, which is very loosely inspired by my own real life romance. For instance, there's a moment where the hero accidentally bangs the heroine's head into a wall backstage when they're kissing. That happened to me in real life during a show. And, yes, we were kissing. ;P

That's the way it is, though, even in the best productions, stuff still goes wrong. That's part of the magic of live theater isn't it? Anything can go wrong? And does. But, as an actor, you still have to roll with it. The show must go on!

I had a moment like this playing Mrs. Cheveley from Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband once. I was supposed to take off my brooch and plant it in the cushions of a chair. And I was supposed to do it in such a way that the audience wouldn't notice. AND I was supposed to be acting and delivering lines at the same night. Well, most of the time it went all right, but one night the brooch got caught on my glove. So there I am, trying to deliver my lines while, meanwhile, I'm trying to unhook the damn prop from my glove without being obvious about it. And, what do you know, as soon as I got it unhooked from the one finger it got stuck to the other! Can't win.

A Midsummer Night’s Fling (Stage Kiss Series, #1)Worse than a prop malfunction, though, is when another actor leaves you hanging. I was in a crowd scene in Macbeth once. The curtain was down and all of us assembled to take our places. As planned, the curtain rises and the actor playing Duncan is supposed to make a grand entrance. Well, the curtain rose…but no Duncan. And he had the first line of the scene! Those of us onstage improvised furiously and finally the actor showed up, but it was pretty tense for a minute or two. And all of us who'd been trapped onstage were nearly ready to kill the guy when we found out he'd fallen asleep backstage and that was why he'd missed his cue!

When you're in front of a live audience things can get tense or tragic, but it's always fun. There's a special sort of magic to live theater that you can't capture anywhere else, and that is just one of the things I tried to capture in A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S FLING. 


After dating her childhood sweetheart Max on and off for years, aspiring actress Nicola Charles is finally ready to move on. It’s time for her to focus on her stage career and stay away from Max–before he can break her heart again.

Max regrets hurting Nicola, but he wants another chance. So when his play loses its leading lady, giving Nicola the part seems like the perfect opportunity to win back his old flame.

But the course of true love—and a theater production—never do run smooth. As Max fights to reignite Nicola’s love, the onstage antics can’t rival the bedlam backstage: a neurotic cast, a prickly crew, and an evil diva of a director who’s got designs on Max.

As Nicola and Max battle to keep the drama onstage, Max can’t help wondering if their romance will end with the last performance. Or have the two of them finally captured what they’ve dreamed of all their lives? True Love.


Beth Matthews is a Southern California girl, born and raised. She’s a total geek, a movie buff, and a mediocre swing dancer. She lives in sunny SoCal with two of the neediest housecats on the planet. She also does freelance editing on the side if you’re an indie author looking for someone to read your books.

For more information on Beth Matthews, please poke around this website, “Like” Beth at her Facebook Fan Page, or friend her on Twitter, Tumblr or Goodreads.

Or, you can just email her at:


Winners will be chosen randomly on August 8th and will be contacted via email. He or she will have 48 hours to reply or a new winner will be chosen.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Ten Questions from Tara: Interview with Andrea Downing

Lawless Love (Lawmen and Outlaws)
Tara: Welcome. You’re here to promote Lawless Love, a western historical romance. Tell me, please, what was the inspiration behind this story? How did it come to you?

Readers, here's the blurb:

Lacey Everhart has carved out a tough existence in the wilds of 1880s Wyoming, working hard to build a secure life for herself and her younger brother, Luke. She will stop at nothing to protect what's hers and keep them safe. Even if it means keeping a secret that could destroy their lives.

Marshal Dylan J. Kane is a man who considers everything as black and white, right or wrong. He's never seen life any other way until he sets eyes on Lacey. Suddenly the straight and narrow that he's followed has a few twists and turns. Loving Lacey offers the home life for which he hankers...but can he really love a woman who seems to be plain lawless?

Andrea: Tara, thanks so much for having me here. I appreciate the chance to tell you about my novella. My publisher, The Wild Rose Press, had started a series called ‘Lawmen and Outlaws’ which I thought was right up my alley. Shortly after that, I was staying on a working cattle ranch over in Nevada and met a young cowboy by the name of Dylan Kane. We joked that, that was the perfect name for a hero. Things sort of evolved from there.

Tara: I have to agree with that. That's a very sexy cowboy name. Tell me, was he hot? LOL If you're married, I'll give you a pass on that question. *winks* We focus a lot on heroines here on Book Babe. Tell me what makes your heroine strong.

Andrea: My heroine, Lacey Everhart, has been forced to bring up her younger brother on her own and she’s managed to look after him while making a living and getting a boarding house business together. She’s put up with a number of men trying to take advantage of her and, when the story begins, she is also trying to deal with some horrible circumstances—can’t tell you, obviously, as it would be a spoiler. She’s definitely strong, feisty and no-nonsense and will do anything to protect herself and her brother.

Tara: Do you see any of yourself in her?

Andrea: I’d like to believe I’m a strong woman, certainly. As a mother, I would naturally do anything to protect my offspring and, needless to say, I wouldn’t put up with any unwanted advances from men! Uh, anyone out there want to try, though, I’m willing to see what happens…

Tara: LOL!!! Good answer. What makes Lacey sexy?

Andrea: I’d like to think men would find Lacey sexy because she knows her own mind and doesn’t stand for any bull. She knows right from wrong and, although some of her actions fall into a grey area, she acts on her instincts.

Tara: What kind of research did you do when you penned this novel? Did anything surprising come up in your search?

Andrea: I have to admit this little novella didn’t require an awful lot of research. It takes place in Wyoming, an area I know reasonably well. But I did have to research the law regarding whether a spouse can ever be forced to testify against his or her husband or wife, and it surprised me to discover that information known prior to the marriage must be divulged in court. Previously, I had believed all information between a couple was confidential.

Tara: Wow. I didn't know that either. Interesting.

What would you like readers to gain from reading your book? Is there a strong moral? Do you hope they will laugh, learn something, ponder a point?

Andrea: Well, of course the main thing is that a reader should be entertained and enjoy the story—that comes first. I don’t really write with a moral in mind but, if I did, I would like the reader to go away thinking about the grey areas in life, how something illegal, or otherwise normally considered immoral, can, under certain circumstances, possibly be the right thing to do.

Tara: Now let’s talk about your hero. What draws the heroine to him? Is he based on a real man in your life by any chance?

Andrea: Dylan Kane has taken his name from a real life person but not his personality! He doesn’t have any trait I’ve ever come across because I think he is a man of his time, when people really did see things more black and white. Although, having said that, maybe he has a bit of all the lawyers in my family—after all, the law is a clearcut institution; it says what is right and what is wrong & doesn’t allow for any grey. Dylan encounters grey, and that is what makes him human, his confusion on how to handle that. I think Lacey, the heroine, is drawn to him because of his morality and his desire for a homelife; she’s seeking someone steadfast in her life for both herself and her brother and Dylan is nothing if not steadfast.

Tara: Your book takes place in Wyoming. If I were a tourist, what would you recommend I see in this state?

Andrea: The one thing everyone goes to Wyoming for are the 2 national parks: Yellowstone and Grand Teton. Yellowstone, of course, is known for the geysers like Old Faithful and Grand Teton is known for the beauty of its scenery, the mountains and lakes. The opening scene of Lawless Love takes place at a bend in the Snake River, which I envisaged as Oxbow Bend, a lovely place within the Grand Teton Nat’l Park where a lot of wildlife gather.
Courtesy of Jon Sullivan, Wiki Commons
Tara: A more personal question. What’s the one thing you hope to accomplish before you die? Your main goal?

Andrea: I take it, Tara, you mean something other than living to see my daughter get married and have my grandchildren, which would be my primary concern. I’d love to write one really successful book; I’m talking NYT bestseller sort of thing. However, I won’t be holding my breath for it—I’m quite happy having got 2 books out and another 2 on the way, with yet another in the working stage.

Tara: I’m a dog mom, so I always ask this. Do you have pets?

Andrea: Sorry Tara, no pets at the moment. When my daughter was growing up we did have Belinda Bunny, but she passed on to that great carrot field in the sky. We also had 2 horses, Saygo and Amber, but that was when I was living in Britain and they had to be sold off when my daughter got too busy—or maybe when she discovered boys! I’d love to have a dog but I think it would be unfair to the poor thing as I travel a great deal and have no one to look after it…

Thanks again for having me. I’ve enjoyed doing this interview and celebrating Lawless Love’s first birthday with you!

Tara: Thanks for joining us today, Andrea, and happy birthday to LL!


Andrea Downing likes to say that when she decided to do a Masters Degree, she made the mistake of turning left out of New York instead of right to the west, and ended up in the UK. She eventually married there, raising a beautiful daughter and staying for longer than she cares to admit. Teaching, editing a poetry magazine, writing travel articles, and a short stint in Nigeria filled those years until in 2008 she returned to NYC. She now divides her time between the city and the shore and often trades the canyons of New York for the wide open spaces of Wyoming. Loveland, her first book, was a finalist for Best American Historical at the 2013 RONE Awards. Lawless Love, a short story, came out Sept., 2013 as part of The Wild Rose Press ‘Lawmen and Outlaws’ series, and is a finalist for Best Historical Novella at the RONE Awards. Two further books are currently in edits and a third is on the computer.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Geeks "Get Some" Or Try To in Julie Moffett's Hilarious New Installment of the Lexi Carmichael Series

No Biz Like Showbiz (Lexi Carmichael Mystery, #4)Lexi is back and better than ever. Having read all the previous four books (I still think book two was the best), I noticed that Lexi has more confidence and backbone in this, book five. She really knows how to stand up for herself this time around, as she finds herself a "prize" on a geek dating reality TV show. (She's actually undercover, trying to find a "cracker/hacker" who's manipulating the voting.)

"Apparently I'm not being very clear. As a result, I'll give you three options. No, no way, and hell no. Clear enough now?"

For those new to the series, Lexi is a computer whiz who once worked for the NSA and now works for a private company owned by her sorta boyfriend. She tracks down computer criminals. She has rather awkward social skills...

Moffett once again fills the story with fabulous humor, not only from Lexi quips but also with incidents as Lexi goes on "dates" with these geeks and has typical Lexi mishaps.

Some food for thought comes from her friend Basia, who appears on the scene towards the end for moral support.

"Don't we all grow and expand as individuals when we try new things in life?" is her reply when Lexi starts feeling insecure and out of her element. The show is getting crazy; she's becoming embarrassed... Isn't that true though?

I'm getting sidetracked. What I enjoyed about this story besides the humor was the cast of characters. It had every geek stereotype possible in it, from a geek who wears suspenders to a geek who speaks through a sock puppet and only TV show's crazy and hilarious. No offense to geeks. I'm anti-stereotype, but at the same time I also know people who honestly put themselves in a stereotype expected of them, so really, I took this as a lighthearted, fun read, and it is.

And of course the romantic tension builds with phone calls to Elvis (I'm still rooting for him to win Lexi's heart) and Slash on the scene in disguise.

I look forward to the next Lexi Carmichael book. Keep 'em coming, Ms. Moffett.

I received this digital arc via Netgalley.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Love & Tango Go Heart to Heart in Luna Tango by Alli Sinclair

Luna Tango (Dance Card #1)I'm excited about this new series, a series featuring a different dance in every story; one of them is going to be flamenco!! Ole!

It's not just about dance though, but the curse of dance, the passions behind dance, the scandals. Two stories are going on. In the modern story, Dani is a reporter in Argentina, researching the tango, against her grandmother's wishes. Her mother abandoned her for the dance. Dani is torn between looking for her or finding about her mother on the sly, under the radar. As she learns to tango (sorta) with her hot dance instructor, Carlos, she unearths an Argentine mystery. Who killed the most famous Tango composer in the fifties?

The fifties tale follows Louisa, the muse of the famous composer. Though she and composer have a relationship of convenience, she's not allowed to get her jollies elsewhere....but that doesn't stop her. But, oh, the drama!!

Random things I loved: The way the author placed Argentine history into the story, such as the Pink Palace possibly being a mixture of cow blood and white paint, and the women in the plaza who mourn their missing children once a week.

Dani, the modern-day heroine. How could I NOT love a woman who says this? "I will only follow the male because it is a dance, not real life. I have not, nor will I ever, let a man tell me what to do. Women have their own brains and we can survive quite well without men if we choose."
Casa Rosada, Wiki Commons

Carlos gave me a lot of food for thought with his wisdom, though I must say he doesn't always follow his own advice.

"You do not listen to what is within. All this blah, blah, blah, you do, it is not good for anything. For success you need to be quiet here and here." He pointed to his head then mouth. "If you allow peace in those places you will listen to this." Carlos put a hand over his heart. "This beating, loving device will guide you in the direction you need. What does yours say?"

"Melancholy is essential to tango, just like life. How do we know how to recognise joy when it arrives? A great tango embraces a series of emotions--love, heartbreak, unhappiness, felicity. How are we to grow without experiencing this range of feelings? Imagine if we danced the same steps or felt the same emotions every day."

Quibbles: I really couldn't stand Louisa. In my eyes, she was worthless, not a strong heroine at all, so this is a personal issue. She's just a man's muse and dotes on him hand and foot and makes excuses for him. She irritated me.

The modern-day heroine doesn't really learn to dance. I was hoping for more dancing. Tango seems to be always in the background, but neither Louisa nor Dani really dance, and that's who the book focuses on.

The romance between Carlos and Dani, I didn't really FEEL it. The romance between Roberto and Louisa was much better and realistic.

I enjoyed this story. There are some things I would have changed, but it's a decent read and I highly recommend it for anyone wanting to know more about tango. Immerse yourself in an entertaining story and become educated at the same time. There's no better way to do it.

I received this via Netgalley. Quotes may be different in the final version.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Aviation, Whales, and Alaskan History, All Between the Pages of Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold by Iain Reading

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold (Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency, #1)This is a fun adventure book aimed at middle-grade readers, but I believe adults will get something out of it as well.

We have a fresh-out-of-HS heroine who gets a clothing company to sponsor her and takes off from Canada to Alaska to spend her summer whale-watching. This was very cool and I enjoyed this tremendously. As she flies around, she witnesses things whales do and I was educated by these scenes. I learned a lot, actually, that I didn't know about humpback whales, from their smelly breath to their eating habits.

BUT, Kitty Hawk's whale-watching expedition is interrupted when she takes it upon herself to make a stupid detour. I'm still trying to get my mind around the fact that a relatively smart young women took this risk. Seems implausible to me, honestly. Anyway, her detour leads her to "discover" stolen gold and gets her kidnapped. From this point on she's tied up with a rope, climbing mountains, eating energy bars, and assisting the gold thieves.

Despite my being perturbed over the fact she was so unbelievably dumb in the first place, I came to enjoy the adventure and the entire story of the stolen gold surprised me. The book is fun. The heroine spunky. I'd let a teenage daughter of mine read it.

The heroine constantly talks to a little voice. I was super annoyed by this. Also adding confusion to these conversations she has with her little voice is the fact that her thoughts are in quotation marks, leading me to think at first reading that she said that out loud. Then I would remember she's speaking to that little voice in her head...

While I appreciated that Alaskan gold-rush history made into the book to educate younger readers, I do not like how this was gone about. It's TOLD through dialogue, story-tellers, throughout the story, meaning all these historical bits and stories--and there are pages of them--are TOLD and not shown. Telling instead of showing is very boring. I don't see myself reading the rest of the series if this method is going to continue. These bits are like reading a biography and I'm simply not into that.

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Women, We Need Our Own Money

Have you looked at your money lately? Like, closely? Yea, I know we live in the debit card age, but seriously, the last time you had cash in hand, did you take a good look at the bills? At the faces on them?

From Wiki. One of the Penman's fake bills.
It's got a queen on it. Hm.
It's what, Ben Franklin, George Washington, Grover, Abe...and take note, not ALL of them are presidents, but...

It's all men.

I never gave this a lot of thought until I watched an episode of Mysteries at the Museum the other day and learned about a counterfeiter name Emanuel Ninger, also know as Jim the Penman. Seems this guy was a true artist and painstakingly forged American bills with pen bond paper, by hand!!!!! One bill could take him weeks. He'd take the bond paper, soak it in coffee, and while it was wet, place it over the real bill and trace away, using camel hair and various other techniques to make it realistic.

A night in a bar (according to Mysteries, he was a wine drinker. Cheers!) was his undoing, when he placed a large counterfeit bill on the wet counter and the ink smeared.

Why am I going on about this though? I noticed whilst watching that many of the bills he forged had women on them. This was back after the American Civil War, late 1800s.

I said to myself, "Who are those women on that money?" And then I got a bit disgruntled and turned to my pug and complained, "Why don't we have any women on our money nowadays? You mean to tell me out of all the amazing women in history, there's not a single chick that deserves to have her mug on an American bill?"

Is there one? Perhaps it's a bill with so many zeroes that I've never had the pleasure or luck of having one in hand? LOL

I can't find one on Google.

Anyway, I'd love to see a woman on a bill. What woman should it be? What women in history would YOU choose to be on a bill? Susan B. Anthony? Alice Paul? A Civil War heroine?

Or, what the heck, how about this?


Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Reading Radar 7/19/2014

This one caught my eye because it delves into the Kennedys and also because the heroine is taking psychology in the sixties. The sixties was the women's rights movement and that twist promises to be interesting as women weren't quite welcome in many fields yet.

The Way You Look TonightOn my wishlist: Richard Madeley's The Way You Look Tonight. (Spotted on NG).

The thrilling new novel from bestselling Richard Madeley takes us into the glamorous world of the Kennedys and the steamy, sinister Florida Keys

Not until she was 16 did Stella Arnold learn the full truth about her father, how handsome, charming James turned out to be a cold-blooded, psychotic extortionist, racketeer and killer. Knowing now what her father was capable of, she decides to study psychology and the criminal mind, and to further her education in America. In the spring of 1962 she flies to Boston where, being beautiful, bright and fashionably English, she becomes someone of huge fascination and on every invitation list. Then comes an invitation one summer weekend to the home of the Kennedys. Stella quickly becomes part of the inner Kennedy circle as they party through the hot summer nights. Both brothers, JFK and Bobby, make their moves on her but she firmly, charmingly, repels them.

Further south, on the Florida Keys, a killer is on the loose. The case, unsolved, begins to rock America, and with her specialist knowledge of psychopaths, Stella is co-opted by the police investigation and prepares to fly south...


Spotted on Edelweiss and it had me sold from the words "fashion designer" and "war" and also "for fans of Sarah Jio, 'cause I am certainly that.
Secrets of a Charmed Life
Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner. She stood at a crossroads, half-aware that her choice would send her down a path from which there could be no turning back. But instead of two choices, she saw only one—because it was all she really wanted to see…

Current day, Oxford, England. Young American scholar Kendra Van Zant, eager to pursue her vision of a perfect life, interviews Isabel McFarland just when the elderly woman is ready to give up secrets about the war that she has kept for decades...beginning with who she really is. What Kendra receives from Isabel is both a gift and a burden--one that will test her convictions and her heart.

1940s, England. As Hitler wages an unprecedented war against London’s civilian population, one million children are evacuated to foster homes in the rural countryside. But even as fifteen-year-old Emmy Downtree and her much younger sister Julia find refuge in a charming Cotswold cottage, Emmy’s burning ambition to return to the city and apprentice with a fashion designer pits her against Julia’s profound need for her sister’s presence. Acting at cross purposes just as the Luftwaffe rains down its terrible destruction, the sisters are cruelly separated, and their lives are transformed…


Spotted on GR giveaways, this one hit the wishlist: Bird by Tami Egonu.

Bird (The Bird Trilogy, #1)Set in nineteenth century England, Emily Sanderson is a middle class white girl born into wealth and respectability. Her future security is assured until she falls passionately in love with a sophisticated black man, Josiah Equiano.

When the irrevocably violent prejudice of her family is revealed, and a husband of their choice is about to be forced upon her, Emily must make a decision between freedom and her duty bound to obligation.

However, tragedy ensues and Emily is hidden away in the family mansion, along with a powerful secret, in this historical novel with a supernatural twist.


Spotted on Unusual Historicals, The Preacher's Promise (and it's prequel, A Lawyer's Luck) by Piper Huguley hit my wishlist too. They promise strong heroines and a clean story.

The Preacher's Promise (A Home to Milford College novel #1)1866 – Oberlin, Ohio

Devastated by her father’s death days after her triumphant graduation from Oberlin College, Amanda Stewart is all alone in the world. Her father’s unscrupulous business partner offers her an indecent proposal to earn a living. Instead, to fulfill a promise she made to her father, she resolves to start a school to educate and uplift their race. Sorting through her father’s papers, she discovers he had carried on a mysterious correspondence with a plantation in Milford, Georgia. She determines to start her teaching work with the formerly enslaved. However, when she arrives, the mayor tells her to leave. There’s nowhere for her to go.

Virgil Smithson, Milford’s mayor, blacksmith and sometimes preacher man with a gift for fiery oratory, doesn't want anything to do with a snobby schoolteacher from up North. On top of everything else, the schoolteacher lady has a will hard enough to match the iron he forges. He must organize his fellow formerly enslaved citizens into a new town and raise his young daughter alone. Still, his troubled past haunts him. He cannot forget the promise he made to his daughter’s mother as she died—that their child would learn to read and write. If only he didn't have secrets that the new schoolteacher seems determined to uncover.

To keep THE PREACHER’S PROMISE, Amanda and Virgil must put aside their enmity, unite for the sake of a newly-created community in a troubling age, and do things they never imagined. In the aftermath of the flood that was the Civil War, God set his bow upon the earth to show love and understanding for humankind. To reflect God’s promise, these combatants must put aside their differences and come together--somehow.


The Lawyer's Luck: A Home to Milford College prequel novellaOberlin, Ohio – 1844

Lawrence Stewart is a rare man. Raised with his grandmother’s Miami Indian tribe, as a Negro he has consistently walked between two worlds most of his life. He devotes his time and study to becoming a lawyer, fully intending to obtain justice for the ousted Miami Indians. No Negro man has accomplished these things before, but he is not daunted. He studies for his exams as he rides circuit through the backwoods of Ohio, handing out justice to people who cannot easily reach a courthouse. His life is perfectly set until one June day….

Aurelia “Realie” Baxter made her way from enslavement in Georgia to the free land Lake Huron in Ohio. Far from happy as a slave doing the bidding of a woman cooped up in a house all day, Realie is a bona fide tomboy with a special gift with horses. Now, she is so close to freedom in Canada, she can smell it, but her plans are interrupted when Lawrence shoots her…by mistake….

Lawrence cannot study encumbered with the care of an enslaved woman, but he’s responsible for her injury…

Realie wants to get to Canada, but Lawrence won’t let her get away in trying to help her…

One chance meeting can change your life from what you thought you wanted….to what you really need.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Meet the Heroine of Red, White, & Screwed. Does She Get Your Vote?

Please welcome author Holly Bush as she shares with us her new release and its heroine. Today she wants to chat just briefly about the down and dirty side of politics... Stick with us for a while and read the excerpt below. Tell us, do you think Glenda will get your "vote?"

Call me crazy, but I look forward to elections. I like hearing candidates talking about their vision for their state or for the country and I like to hear how political parties and news organizations spin what candidates have said. I don’t always like what they say, but I like the process. It seems as though politics has gotten sillier, more ruthless, and more polarizing than ever before. But I don’t think that’s necessarily true. I think we are immersed in the controversies and the petty feuds, however, courtesy of 24 hour news channels and the internet, and it feels worse than it felt in the past.

Politics has always been a dirty, unpleasant, albeit necessary business, from the day this country was founded. All you have to do is read some of the letters from men like John Adams or Thomas Jefferson to know that political life was not for sissies. I’m a fan of Doris Kearns Goodwin, and her biography that the movie Lincoln was based on, tells a tale of backroom deals and machinations as our 16th President barely maneuvered the 13th Amendment through Congress.

Our heroine in Red, White & Screwed, Glenda Nelson, works for a political party and sometimes feels she may be compromising her own principles while doing the best for her party. Like most women, she’s also raising children and sometimes caring for her parents, too, while juggling a demanding work schedule. Sound familiar to any of our readers today?


Political strategist Glenda Nelson is having a meltdown. Her handpicked, very married Congressional candidate was just caught climbing out of the window of the Sleepytown Motel, and her philandering ex-husband seems to have the most to gain from the colossal scandal that follows. As Glenda attempts to salvage the campaign in a hotly contested race, conservative and liberal pundits pounce on the story to further their own agendas.

Glenda’s love life is nonexistent to say the least, that is, until she meets handsome artist Chris Goodrich. Chris’s easy-going, carefree outlook on life couldn’t be more different than the 90-mph crazy train that is Glenda’s, but the more time she spends with him, the more she craves his calming presence, his sexy smile, and his steamy embraces. Is Chris worth taking a chance on?

Between the pressure of full-blown spin control mode, rapidly declining job security, refereeing two teenagers, caring for aging parents, and spending hours on her therapist’s couch trying to get past her ex’s crushing betrayal, Glenda finds love and makes the long trek back to happy.


Nearly three hundred years after the first hardy German settlers arrived in my county, many things had not changed. My ten-mile trip to Lancaster City had taken forty minutes trailing an Amish buggy.

“Glenda! Where have you been?” my boss, Melvin Smith, shouted from the steps of the county courthouse.

“I got behind a buggy,” I said as I jumped curb stones and dodged opened car doors on my way across the parking lot to where Melvin waited for me.

“We don’t want to be late to see what our seventy-five thousand dollars bought us,” he said as he yanked open the ornate, wooden door.

Melvin and I worked for the Lancaster County Democratic Committee, and it was a stick in his craw that Deidre Dumas, the Republican Chairwoman, had strong-armed more donations than he to fund a mural to hang in our courthouse.

“Are you still pissed the Republican Committee raised more money? You’ve got to get over this, Melvin.” We hurried past the buffet table, weaving through the county big shots and up a rickety set of steps to take our place on the dais for the unveiling.

Deidre air-kissed Melvin, and Bill Frome, county Republican strategist and the yin to my yang, gave me a tight-lipped smile and shook my hand as he looked at his watch. Photographers from the local newspaper were taking pictures, and Melvin leaned close to me.

“They’re cutting us out of these photos, Glenda. You mark my words,” he whispered.

“They’re not cutting us out of the photos.” I took a quick peek down the line of smiling suits and black dresses. I could barely see past Deidre’s cemented bouffant, puffed up and combed away from her face ending with an artfully rigid curl just above her shoulder. She had acquired the style in the mid-sixties, copying either Jackie Onassis or George Mitchell’s wife, and rode it all the way into the new millennium.

“Who’s the guy?” I asked Melvin.

“Which guy?”

“The oddball.”

“I’m black,” Melvin replied. “I’m as odd as they get in Lancaster County.”

The cameras kept flashing as I smiled and talked through my teeth. “You’re not odd because you’re an African American, Melvin. In this county, we’re both odd because we’re Democrats. And, anyway, I’m talking about the guy in the middle of the line in the jeans and blazer.”

The flashes stopped abruptly, and the Chairman of the County Commissioners, Alan Snavely, walked up to the microphone. He proceeded to extol the generosity of county residents in giving their hard-earned dollars to fund the mural project for the courthouse. He gestured repeatedly to the black-draped wall behind us, introduced the oddball as the mural artist, and then wrapped it up with some hard facts.

“The Lancaster County Democratic Committee raised seventy-four thousand, eight-hundred and ninety dollars . . .”

“That’s seventy-five even, Alan,” Melvin interrupted. “We had a last minute contribution.”

All heads turned Melvin’s way, including mine.

“Seventy-five even, Melvin?” Alan repeated.

“As of this morning.”

“OK then, it’s seventy-five even from the Democrats.” Snavely took a pen from his breast pocket to jot down the adjustment to his notes. “And the Lancaster County Republican Committee raised a whopping one-hundred thousand dollars.” The crowd clapped politely, and Alan continued, “And now the moment we’ve all been waiting for. Our artist, Christopher Goodwich, was commissioned nearly a year ago and has come here from his home state of Ohio for tonight’s unveiling. He has won multiple accolades for his work, and the Goodwich Family Foundation is well-known among philanthropists. Mr. Goodwich, would you do the honors?”

Christopher Goodwich moved from his place in line, yanked a gold pull rope, and the black curtain fell away. I looked up at the thirty-foot mural of a Lancaster County Revolutionary War battle as did everyone else. To my amazement this typically chattering crowd fell silent other than a smattering of appreciative oohs and aahs.

The painting was stunningly beautiful. I could see the hope and fear on the faces of the soldiers and practically hear the roar of the cannons and smell the smoke. Alan grabbed the microphone again and began discussing the mural as if he had the foggiest understanding of artwork. But it made me curious about the artist, and I took a second look at Christopher Goodwich.

He was a handsome man. Casually masculine with green eyes and a smile that made me think about George Clooney in a tuxedo. Get those hormones under control, I thought. At forty-six with a rather ugly divorce under my belt and two teenage children, I needed a man like the President needed another Cabinet nominee in tax trouble.


Holly BushHolly Bush was born in western Pennsylvania to two avid readers. There was not a room in her home that did not hold a full bookcase. She worked in the hospitality industry, owning a restaurant for twenty years and recently worked as the sales and marketing director in the hospitality/tourism industry and is credited with building traffic to capacity for a local farm tour, bringing guests from twenty-two states, booked two years out. Holly has been a marketing consultant to start-up businesses and has done public speaking on the subject.

Holly has been writing all of her life and is a voracious reader of a wide variety of fiction and non-fiction, particularly political and historical works. She has written four romance novels, all set in the U.S. West in the mid 1800’s. She frequently attends writing conferences, and has always been a member of a writer’s group. She is always a member of Romance Writers of America.

Holly is a gardener, a news junkie, and was the vice-president of her local library board for years. She loves to spend time near the ocean and is the proud mother of two daughters and the wife of a man more than a few years her junior.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Ten Questions From Tara: Interview and Blog Stop with Violetta Rand

Tara: Welcome. You’re here to promote Blind Redemption, Book 3 in the Blind Series, a historical romance. Tell me, please, what was the inspiration behind this story (or series)? How did it come to you?

Readers, here's the blurb for you:

The past is something he’d sooner forget…

Aaron McNally hates his past. Banished from his home for betrayal, he trades his tartan for a Norwegian title and sword to win back his honor.

She has a warrior’s heart…

It’s difficult for Kara Dalgaard to act like a lady, even when her father demands it. After the handsome Jarl Aaron McNally arrives at her home recruiting for the king’s army, she’s forced to participate in a cruel deception to humiliate him.

Drawn to his strength and passion, she quickly regrets what she’s done. But duty comes before happiness.

Aaron wants a second chance at life—and Kara is everything he’s dreamed of. But the past always has a way of catching up with you. Will Kara trust him or condemn him to a life of loneliness?

Violetta: Nothing fancy here—I woke up one day and decided to write a Viking series. My inspiration, maybe the Viking culture in general. Brave to a fault, Vikings are one of only three cultures I know of where the men preferred to die in battle and claim their glory in the afterlife.

Not very romantic, but it sets the tone for the incredible tension and passion my characters display. They live in the moment—never taking their lives for granted.

Tara: We focus a lot on heroines here on Book Babe. Tell me what makes your heroine(s) strong.

Violetta: My heroine, Kara Dalgaard, in fact, runs around with a sword—so this is one of my favorite aspects of her character. She’s no hardened warrior, but she’s uninhibited—desperate to show her family how skilled she is. And with a father like Jarl Erik the Bald, who blames her?

I’ll let a couple paragraphs from my story do the talking here…

She lifted her chin. She wore armor and carried a sword because her father demanded it. He’d never admit it in front of his distinguished guests. “I don’t gallivant around wearing braies and weapons every day,” she defended herself.

“Only because I forbid it,” he countered. “Seeing you now shows me what an injustice I’ve done you. I’ve poorly prepared you for your future. You lack the refinement and elegance most girls half your age possess.”

“Haven’t I proven time and again I can play the role of the jarl’s perfect daughter when it’s expected of me?”

His criticism stung. Ever obedient, she learned to read and write and fight alongside her brothers. Could he fault her for preferring climbing trees over dancing? Reading over embroidery? She enjoyed drying herbs; didn’t that count as cooking?

“Go upstairs and prepare to greet our guests properly,” her father instructed.

She needed a bath. Surely the stable smelled better than she did. “Yes, father.” She stood, then bowed.

Her father coughed. “Bowing as a man only proves my point.” The five men at the table laughed.

Humiliated, she huffed out an apology, curtsied, and ran out of the room.

Tara: Do you see any of yourself in her?

Violetta: Out of all my heroines, Kara and I share many characteristics. Fiercely loyal, determined, a bit crafty, and overall, a smart ass.

Tara: What kind of research did you do when you penned this novel? Did anything surprising come up in your search?

Violetta: King Herald Hardrada (king of Norway) died in the Battle of Stamford Bridge, leaving his two sons as co-rulers of Norway. Magnus claimed the north, Olaf the south.

A few years later, King Magnus died of ergot poisoning, leaving his brother as sole ruler.

Olaf’s desire to bring peace to Norway impressed me. He made peace with the pope, built churches, unified his country, founded new cities, established the nobility, and apparently learned to read (believed to be the first Norwegian monarch to do so). No wonder he earned the nickname Olaf the Quiet.

Tara: What would you like readers to gain from reading your book? Is there a strong moral? Do you hope they will laugh, learn something, ponder a point?

Violetta: My stories are deeply rooted in important historical moments. In Blind Redemption, we catch glimpses of the aftermath of the Battle of Stamford Bridge (four years after). Norway is in political and religious turmoil, one of the two kings is dead. And now King Olaf is tasked with unifying the north and south.

Churches are being vandalized, Olaf is trying to convert the pagans, and the northern jarls are fanatical Odin worshippers. What a time to explore. And Jarl Aaron McNally is caught in the middle—expected to form a new regiment to stop anyone who threatens the construction of the great cathedral in Nidaros.

Learning something about the Viking Age is probably the most important message in my books. Secondly, I’m a great supporter of conflict resolution, Viking style of course.

And finally, the one thing all romance readers want—that happily ever after.

Tara: Now let’s talk about your hero. What draws the heroine to him? Is he based on a real man in your life by any chance?

Violetta: Aaron McNally, the antagonist from Blind Mercy (Book 2), seeks forgiveness for his past misdeeds in Blind Redemption. True redemption is earned, not given. Right? And unlike the other stories, there is no enemies to lovers trope. 

This time our hero must rely on his instincts, honor, kindness, humor, and passion to win the girl of his dreams.

Kara Dalgaard may be young, but she’s determined to find the man she loves instead of marrying out of duty. Sparks fly when she meets Aaron. She’s drawn to his virility and intelligence right away, and turned off by his arrogance. But there’s something about this guy that leaves her feeling unsure of herself. And after they kiss, well, now she really needs to find out what’s going on.

Aaron McNally is very similar to my husband—what parts exactly, I’ll never tell.

Tara: Your book takes place in Norway. If I were a tourist, what would you recommend I see in this country?
Nidaros Cathedral

Violetta: Let me start by saying everywhere your happy feet take you. But west central and northern Norway capture my heart the most. Perhaps it’s because it so closely resembles Alaska—coastal, mountains, fjords, glaciers, wildlife, wide open spaces, and just a bit rustic.

Places to see – the royal complex in Oslo and the Viking Ship Museum.

Tara: A more personal question. What’s the one thing you hope to accomplish before you die? Your main goal?

Violetta: The most important—making sure all the people I love and admire know exactly how I feel.

Second—I’m living it now—growing as a writer, sharing my stories, and mentoring other authors starting out in the business.

Tara: I’m a dog mom, so I always ask this. Do you have pets? If so, tell me about them and do provide pictures.

Violetta: Oh yes, the magic question. I’m happy to showcase my babies.Three wonderful dogs and two cats.

Simon and Gretchen my beloved mini-schnauzers and Mason, our loyal Brittany.

As for the damn cats (love saying that), Bella who is undoubtedly my soul mate and Ivan our stoic, yet sweet fellow.


Violetta Rand holds a bachelor's degree in Environmental Policy and a master's degree in Environmental Management. Serving as an environmental scientist in the state of Alaska for over seven years, she enjoys the privilege of traveling to remote places few people have the opportunity to see.

Violetta has been "in love" with writing since childhood. Struck with an entrepreneurial spirit at a young age, at five, she wrote short stories illustrated by her best friend and sold them in her neighborhood. The only thing she loves more than writing is her wonderful relationship with her husband, Jeff. She enjoys outdoor activities, reading whatever she can get her hands on, music, and losing herself in the worlds she enjoys bringing to life in the pages of her stories.