Fresh FIction Box Not To Miss
Is it bad to be a ‘sweet’ romance?
Reviewer Column / October 17, 2021

I was recently reading an author’s newsletter and was surprised to find that she took exception to her romances being called “sweet” by a couple of reviewers. I was a bit taken aback when I read on – she stated that a couple of readers were confused as they seem to take the word sweet to mean clean – no sex. I am guessing they were not happy to find out there was a lot of sex on the pages. As a reviewer, I often use “sweet” in the description of the books I read but now I feel I should explain what I mean by that word. Yes, often “sweet” means a clean read with no sex or little sex that is not written in a graphic format. As a long-time reader of various genres of romance that still holds true, but I find that to me there is more to “sweet” than what most understand. I think of “sweet” as the couple getting to know each other, doing things together, before hopping in bed. If a book is considered erotica or erotic then usually there is little sweet to be had, at least not in the mind of…

Charlotte Anne Hamilton | Exclusive Excerpt: OF TRUST AND HEART
Author Guest / October 15, 2021

The last time, there had been only one at the door to take coats. Yet as she moved further into the bar, she saw why they had brought more in. The bar was the busiest Harriet had ever seen…well…anywhere. The dance floor was still there and the couples dancing managed to swing around without colliding with anyone, a skill Harriet was sure she didn’t possess. She was used to open spaces for her dancing. People were standing around chatting on the edge of the dance floor and at the bar, and others were crammed around tables far too small for their parties. “Is it usually like this on a Tuesday?” Harriet whispered as she followed Charlie through the crowds, her hand in his to avoid getting lost. “No, but it’s usually like this when they have a performance,” Charlie answered as he led her upstairs. It was only five or six steps, but it was enough to make it easier to see the stage. “So, they’re all here for Rosalie?” He grinned at her as they sat down. “Yes and no. They’re not here for Rosalie, specifically, but they are here to see her and the other girls she sings…

Stephanie Kane | OBJECT LESSONS + Giveaway!
Author Guest / October 15, 2021

OBJECT LESSONS was inspired by an eccentric Chicago heiress named Frances Glessner Lee. In the 1940’s, Lee designed 18 miniature models of crime scenes to train police investigators. Built to the scale of one inch to one foot, and complete with tiny victims, Lee’s dioramas are enigmas begging to be solved. Here are Lily Sparks’ favorites: 1: Three-Room Dwelling: Robert and Kate Judson, and their baby Linda Mae, are shot to death in their tidy little house. Their phone is off the hook, the table’s set for breakfast, the murder weapon—a rifle—is on the kitchen floor, and both doors are locked from inside. 2: Attic: Miss Jessie Comptom, a spinster, hangs from a rafter in her attic. Old letters and other relics of her past are scattered beneath her. One shoe dangles from her foot; its mate is on the stairs. 3: Dark Bathroom: Maggie Wilson lies face-up in a bathtub in a rooming house. Fully clothed, she appears to have fallen in backward. She had two male visitors that night, and there’s a liquor bottle on the floor. 4: Kitchen: Mrs. Robin Barnes lies on her kitchen floor. The stove’s gas jets are open, and her face has a rosy…

Betsy St. Amant | Title Challenge: TACOS FOR TWO
Author Guest / October 15, 2021

Tacos. Enough said, am I right? Attraction. This story is unique in that the characters are falling for each other both on AND off screen! Cilantro. Love it or hate it? Jude can’t get enough cilantro (like a true hero) while Rory wishes she could remove it permanently from Planet Earth. Whichever side of this battle you’re on, you’ll appreciate the war. Online romance. Think You’ve Got Mail, with a modern dating app twist. ::heart eyes:: Subterfuge. Sometimes secrets are meant to protect. Other times, they’re meant to harm. This novel offers plenty of both, not only between the hero and heroine, but from both the hero and heroine’s families as well… *  Friendship. Grady is one of my favorite characters in this novel – he serves as a friend/big brother figure to Rory, and I adore his personality! Everyone needs a Grady in their life. Origami. This unique paper-folding art plays a significant role in the story. (I personally do good to fold my dinner napkin into a square, but I digress) Running. Rory and Jude both jog as a personal stress reliever, and end up having an impromptu race at one point in the story that turns into…

Debbie Wiley | Missing Persons
Author Guest / October 14, 2021

Missing persons stories appear in the news all too frequently, capturing the attention of the nation with a multitude of questions. Where did the person go? Is the person safe? What happened and why? Whether it’s the manhunt for Brian Laundrie amid the swirling questions of his fiancée’s death or the past well-publicized kidnappings of Patty Hearst and Elizabeth Smart, or the still-unsolved disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa, cases involving missing persons have seemingly always captured the attention of the nation as we anxiously await and hope for positive news. Lately, my local news has dealt with the tragic endings for Gabby Petito and Mia Marcano, both young women who lost their lives all too soon. Readers are often drawn to the theme of missing persons, as evidenced by the abundance of books with a missing person as the core theme. GONE GIRL was recently one of the bestselling books of the decade, featuring the missing person theme. Let’s delve into a few other books featuring this same theme. LAST SEEN ALONE by Laura Griffin starts out with an abandoned car and a pool of blood. The car, registered to Vanessa Adams, offers little clues and Vanessa isn’t anywhere to be…

Rhys Bowen | Exclusive Interview: GOD REST YE, ROYAL GENTLEMEN
Author Guest / October 13, 2021

Danielle Jackson: Welcome to Fresh Fiction, Rhys! We are so happy to have you here to chat about your long-running series, Royal Spyness. What are some of your favorite things about writing about Lady Georgiana and all of the mysteries she gets involved in?   Rhys Bowen:  I have become so fond of these characters, it’s rather like going back to a high school reunion and reconnecting with old friends. And who wouldn’t want the chance to spend time with the royal family and eccentric aristocrats? The newest book, GOD REST YE, ROYAL GENTLEMEN, is a holiday mystery novel! Did you do anything fun to get in the mood while writing a Christmas novel? Were there any unforeseen challenges writing a mystery with some added holiday cheer?  I was actually writing this last October to December so it was a good time of year as the stores already had all their Christmas items. Also, I usually spend my winters in Arizona where it isn’t cold and Christmassy. Because of Covid, I stayed home in California so there were cold winds and occasional rain. It would have been harder to write it in July. The big challenge about writing a holiday mystery…

Mila Nicks | Author-Reader Match: WHEN YOU WERE MINE + Giveaway!
Author Guest / October 13, 2021

Instead of trying to find your perfect match in a dating app, we bring you the “Author-Reader Match” where we introduce you to authors you may fall in love with. It’s our great pleasure to present Mila Nicks! WRITES: Contemporary and paranormal romance featuring heroines of color. ABOUT AUTHOR: Indie author seeks readers for a sweet, swoon-worthy romance. Must love sexy bad-boy heroes who aren’t afraid of being romantic to win over his true love and good girl heroines who are determined, independent, and happen to have a soft spot for said bad boys. Bonus if the reader enjoys adorable little girls with big imaginations and some sass. Double bonus if readers are looking for a cozy fall reader with small town feels. WHAT I’M LOOKING FOR IN MY IDEAL READER MATCH: Enjoys hardworking heroes who aren’t afraid to fight for their heroine Likes second chance romance between high school sweethearts Wants all the cozy small-town vibes when reading about Oak Bend in the fall Prefers a little bit of drama and steam in their romance stories Loves a hard-earned happily ever after for hero and heroine overcome obstacles WHAT TO EXPECT IF COMPATIBLE: Many more feel-good love stories with diverse…

Natasha Moore | 20 Questions: NOT SEEKING MR. RIGHT
Author Guest / October 12, 2021

1–What is the title of your latest release? Not Seeking Mr. Right 2–What is it about? It’s an older woman/younger man romance where 40 year old Ginny finds herself accidentally pregnant from a one-night stand with cute 25-year-old Josh. 3–What do you love about the setting of your book?  I fell in love with Lakeside NY, and the people who live there, when I was writing the Men of Lakeside series. It’s similar to the area I live in, so I’m very familiar with a small town on a lake, where tourists flock every summer. When that trilogy was done, I didn’t want to leave the village and the people behind. The villagers love spreading gossip, but most rally around their neighbors, and show up often in the pages. 4–How did your heroine surprise you?  How easily she accepted the idea of a one-night stand. 5–Why will readers love your hero?  Not only is he hot as hell, with sun-kissed curls and a seductive smile, but he’s a responsible guy who wants to do what’s right. 6–What was one of your biggest challenges while writing this book (spoiler-free, of course!)?  Getting the premise nailed down. I had a few different…

Marlene Perez | Title Challenge: I’M WITH THE BANNED
Author Guest / October 12, 2021

I’m Marlene Perez and I’m here to give you a little hint of my new book, I’M WITH THE BANNED, the second book in my teen vampire trilogy with Entangled Teen.  I love a good title challenge! I is for intense. Tansy and Vaughn have always been friends, but there’s some intense relationship stuff Tansy has to figure out when Vaughn disappears for a month. M is for Mariotti. Tansy’s Granny Mariotti is a librarian-witch you don’t want to mess with. She’ll find you the perfect book and put a spell on you. * W is for werewolves. Tansy and her friends have to figure out who is killing werewolves before a vampire-werewolf war breaks out. I is for intimidating. T is for Tansy. The main character in I’m with the Banned is Tansy, a high school senior and the newly crowned queen of the vampires. She’s got a lot on her plate: a new boyfriend, a new title, and a new enemy. Or maybe it’s an old enemy. H is for Hecate, Tansy’s new and unusual pet. Hecate smells like burned marshmallows and brimstone. * T is for Travis, the lead singer of The Drainers and the vampire everyone…

KD Casey | Author-Reader Match: UNWRITTEN RULES
Author Guest / October 12, 2021

Instead of trying to find your perfect match in a dating app, we bring you the “Author-Reader Match” where we introduce you to authors as a reader you may fall in love with. It’s our great pleasure to present KD Casey! Writes: Steamy, poignant queer romance usually set in the world of sports. In my debut, UNWRITTEN RULES, professional baseball player Zach Glasser reunites with Eugenio Morales, his ex-teammate—who’s also his ex-boyfriend—for a second chance. About: Nice Jewish author from Washington, DC, seeks readers. Likes: spending time with family (often), sports (when it’s going well), and reading (constantly). Convinced her fourth-grade teacher to let the class watch A League Of Their Own because, quote, it was women’s history month. Reply if you also enjoy thunderstorms, cat-herding, improvisational cooking, baseball on the radio, and tea. What I’m looking for in my ideal reader match: My ideal reader: Is looking for high heat romance with a slow emotional burn Likes stories about family, including families of choice Enjoys flawed characters who (I hope!) you want to root for Loving sports is a plus but not required What to expect if we’re compatible: #OwnVoices Jewish characters of a variety of observance levels Second…