Fresh FIction Box Not To Miss
Kristen Proby | Exclusive Interview: AFTER ALL
Author Guest / July 14, 2020

Miranda: The first of your books I read were in the Fusion series. I loved it because it had friendships and realistically strong yet flawed female characters. How important is it for you to write strong female characters and friendships? Does the dialogue flow easily? Kristen: Thank you! I’m absolutely a dialogue-driven author. I also love to read dialogue. I think it moves the story along at a fast pace. Friendships are integral to every book I write. None of us just fall in love and have no one else in our lives. I think it’s important to show a character’s community, her family and friends, and their reactions to the character falling in love. One of the things I enjoy so much about your Romancing Manhattan series, as well as many of your other books, is the balance between romance, character development, and conflict. Do you consciously try and maintain balance in your books or does it just evolve organically? The books evolve organically, as I write them. As a huge fan of the series, I’m thrilled about your new Romancing Manhattan book AFTER ALL! But are there any supporting characters in any of your series that you’ve toyed…

Miranda Owen | Visiting Alien Worlds
Author Guest / June 4, 2020

With COVID-19, nowadays “quarantine”, “social distancing”, and “isolate” are common parts of our everyday vocabulary. While isolating is necessary right now, it can lead to varying levels of depression and other unexpected emotions – even for an introvert like me. As I was sitting in the quiet of my apartment, with my cat keeping vigil next to me, I was longing for any type of travel and human interaction. Travel and human interaction are not normally things that are normally high up on my “must haves.” While dystopian films and novels might seem like a natural for readers to gravitate right now, a lot of my friends have avoided those types of entertainment because it seemed off-putting. It’s as I was sitting at home in isolation that I thought of some of my favorite romances that take place in far off worlds and unique characters and bizarre situations that seem like just the thing to perk up a reader longing for travel, adventure, fun, and excitement. You might not be able to go far right now, but books provide an entertaining alternative. Although I don’t normally read sci-fi, something about the Cat Star Chronicles books by Cheryl Brooks intrigued me….

Miranda Owen | Lovers with a History
Author Guest / April 20, 2020

I love a magical first meeting between a hero and heroine in romance, but there’s a lot to be said for a story with two main characters with a shared history together. I’m always intrigued by these kinds of stories but I’m very particular. Some readers love an abundance of drama and angst. I usually prefer lighter fare with a minimum of angst. Of course, there are always exceptions that prove the rule. One of my favorite authors is Lorraine Heath and her stories are often littered with characters who have tangled and passion-filled histories together and a few bad decisions under their belts. However, Heath masterfully and almost inexplicably wraps things up and any angst is deliciously painful rather than tedious. If I can’t root for a couple to iron out their issues and get together, I give up on the story. In this article, I discuss some books with characters who have a past, but who don’t let their past determine their future. In SHE LOVES ME by Melissa Foster, Piper Dalton and Harley Dutch are BFFs who are thrown together when Harley is injured and Piper comes to look after him. Melissa Foster dispenses with typical gender…

Miranda Owen | Fierce, Fabulous Heroines
Author Guest / April 6, 2020

Heroines in romance novels: let’s discuss. A frequent topic among romance readers and authors involves heroines and the unequal way they can be viewed. There are two bones of contention to pick. The first is that a heroine’s life choices are viewed with a more critical and unforgiving eye than a hero’s choices. Secondly, that a heroine’s flaws and personality quirks are viewed more harshly than those of a hero. I believe that both things are very real, but I will only admit to unconsciously doing the latter. If a character – whether male or female – makes life choices that I disagree with, as long as the character is fleshed out and well-written, I won’t judge and I’m still able to enjoy the story. However, if there are aspects of a character’s personality that rub me the wrong way, it’s difficult for me to put that aside and focus on where the author is taking me. As a woman, I often identify more with a female protagonist, and therefore have caught myself being overly critical of that character. This is something I’ve picked up on and tried to snap myself out of doing. Every reader has their pet peeve…

Miranda Owen | Fresh Fiction Reviewer Top Reads of 2019
Author Guest / December 20, 2019

Our reviewer retrospective continues with Miranda Owen‘s favorite books of this year!  I love making lists. At the end of a year, friends and fellow readers will post about their top favorite five or ten books of the year. I’m not configured that way. Trying to pick only five or ten favorite books out of the hundred or so I’ve read over the course of a year is unfathomable to me. Instead, I’ve picked about five or so titles in four different categories. Many of these selections fit a few of different categories listed here. I mostly read and review romances, but cozy mysteries are my jam too. Christmas-themed Romance Picks THE MATCHMAKER’S MISTLETOE MISSION by Jaci Burton A COWBOY UNDER THE MISTLETOE by Jessica Clare ONE HOT HOLIDAY by Cynthia Eden MEET ME UNDER THE MISTLETOE by Stacey Kennedy ONE CHRISTMAS EVE by Shannon Stacey There was a ridiculous amount of amazing Christmas-themed romances that came out this year, many of which came out at the end of October. The ones I’m discussing were my absolute favorites, but there were a bunch more that put a smile on my face. THE MATCHMAKER’S MISTLETOE MISSION by Jaci Burton and A…

Miranda Owen | Bewitched by a Beautiful Stranger
Author Guest / August 30, 2019

by Senior Reviewer Miranda Owen Haven’t we met? Some kind of beautiful stranger You could be good for me I’ve had the taste for danger If I’m smart then I’ll run away But I’m not so I guess I’ll stay Haven’t you heard? I fell in love with a beautiful stranger –Beautiful Stranger, Madonna Two of my favorite romance authors are Mary Balogh and Jennifer Ashley. Both authors write well-crafted character-driven stories that capture the imagination. Both authors also write about extremely close yet also extremely complicated families. Two of my all-time favorite books are both by these authors and are both about characters who meet under unusual circumstances, but who find something compelling and experience an unexplainable initial attraction. I’ve always maintained that AT LAST COMES LOVE by Mary Balogh has one of the best introduction scenes and “getting to know you” dialogue I’ve ever read. The scandalous Duncan Pennethorne, the Earl of Sheringford and beautiful yet very respectable Margaret Huxtable collide at a time when they each have something the other desires. Duncan is looking for a well-connected wealthy wife to satisfy his grandfather and secure his inheritance and, and that particular moment, Margaret needs a fake beau…

Miranda Owen | Weddings In Romance Novels – Divine or Disastrous?
Author Guest / August 5, 2019

by Fresh Fiction Senior Reviewer Miranda Owen  “I’ve never been the one. Not for anybody.” He closed the distance between them. “You’ll get used to it.” He tipped her face up to his, kissed her. “Why? Why am I the one?” “Because my life opened up, and it flooded with color when you walked back into it.” –Nora Roberts, VISION IN WHITE Weddings are a common occurrence in romance novels, whether they are contemporary, historical, or paranormal. More often than not, they happen near the end of a story as a happy conclusion. While I adore a happy ending just as much as any romance fan, I find stories more interesting when the wedding takes place near the opening of a story. I prefer to think of a wedding as a point in a discussion rather than the conclusion to an exercise. One of my favorite authors is Mary Balogh. In a Mary Balogh novel, there are joyous endings, but no “happily ever afters.” Happiness is something that is an ongoing process that evolves over time and is something that you must work at. In this article, I discuss weddings in some recent romance novels, along with some of my…

Miranda Owen | A Killer POV
Author Guest / July 8, 2019

You can read more about Fresh Fiction Senior Reviewer Miranda Owen and her reviews here! “But sometimes, the things you wanted most were the things that would destroy you.” Cynthia Eden, BOUND IN SIN In general, I’m a cozy mystery kind of a girl. I don’t usually go for movies or books that promise “high suspense.” That’s usually a turn-off for me. If a book has dog tags or a pistol on the cover the odds are that it’s probably not for me. Likewise, a film trailer or poster with some intense music or describing how the hero/heroine has a limited amount of time to defuse a bomb, rescue so-and-so, or recover the lost jewel of blah blah blah does nothing for me. I like scary movies, but usually with the violence that is cheesy and obviously fake rather than what I think of as “torture porn” – gratuitous torture scenes that don’t further the story or have us learn anything new about the baddies and generally just stick in my head like some toxic sludge that resurfaces even years later. There are, of course, exceptions to every rule. I do read some mysteries and some romances with a few…

Miranda Owen | Some Like it HOT: Erotic Moments in Romance
Author Guest / May 17, 2019

“To bask in passion’s glow. To bathe in love’s fountain. To swim in the rivers of Eros.” “It sounds quite vile. No thank you.” It was very difficult not to laugh. She managed it, just. MUCH ADO ABOUT DUTTON by Claudia Dain The other day one of the authors in one of the many online reading groups I’m in posted a question asking readers how many love scenes they demanded in a romance. I get why authors ask this, but I feel like it’s a difficult thing for readers to answer. I know there has been a lot of debate and general discussion about how many love scenes/sex scenes put in romances, and over how the quantity and quality of love scenes in a book should be advertised to readers. I remember reading a few years ago that a favorite romance author of mine felt pressured by her publisher to include a specific number of sex scenes in her book. I felt that was unfair; not just because I think that she should be allowed complete freedom in her creative process, but also because those scenes weren’t what I found most enjoyable about her books. In the end, I took…

Miranda Owen | Contemporary Gothics
Author Guest / March 26, 2019

Fresh Fiction Senior Reviewer Miranda Owen loves a contemporary gothic story! The atmosphere, the moody settings, and the thought-provoking plotlines… The de Vincent estate was one of the most haunted locations in the entire state of Louisiana. –MOONLIGHT SCANDALS by Jennifer L. Armentrout I have been fascinated by gothic tales of romance and danger since I read my first Dorothy Daniels book in junior high. It had a predictably historical setting, with a dash of the paranormal, and a hint of romance. For a long time, I only connected gothics with a historical setting, and never imagined that there were such things as contemporary gothics. I recently discovered Jennifer L. Armentrout’s spectacular “de Vincent” series and was immediately sucked into her world of danger, mystery, and eroticism with a decidedly gothic edge. All of the authors discussed in this article utilize a few classic elements of a gothic novel but throw them in a story with a contemporary setting. She felt…God, this sounded insane, she felt watched. Obviously, she wasn’t being watched unless it was by a ghost. There were no windows and no one else was in here. –MOONLIGHT SINS by Jennifer L. Armentrout Location is everything. Authors who…