Fresh FIction Box Not To Miss
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…

Marissa Backlin | Bookseller-Reader Match: LOVE’S SWEET ARROW + Giveaway!
Author Guest / April 8, 2020

Instead of trying to find your perfect match in a dating app, we bring you the “Bookseller-Reader Match” where we introduce you to a bookstore as a reader you may fall in love with. It’s our great pleasure to present Marissa of Love’s Sweet Arrow!  Writes/Sells: I’m Marissa, one of the co-owners of the romance bookstore Love’s Sweet Arrow, the second one in the country! Love’s Sweet Arrow opened last June in Tinley Park, so we are coming up on our first anniversary soon! Love’s Sweet Arrow focuses on having a diverse variety of romance in all subgenres, but also has fun t-shirts, tote bags, buttons, and stickers (some made by BestFriendKelly), soaps (by Perennial Soaps), and candles (NovellyYours, Big White Yeti, and Hearth and Hammer). About: I am 31 and I’ve been a bookstore owner for almost a year now. Before this, I was a special education kindergarten teacher in a local school for a few years and I’m currently a one-on-one paraprofessional in a kindergarten classroom in a different school, which means I’m home from that job too. Before that, I was actually involved in the performing arts and I have an undergraduate degree in music (vocal performance). I’ve got an interesting…

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 | 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…

Anna Schmidt | Trailblazer
Author Guest / January 2, 2019

Although I had certainly heard of Fred Harvey and his famous Harvey Girls, it had never occurred to me how much these young women changed the frontier forever. With their pristine uniforms and fresh faces, along with the strict code of conduct Mr. Harvey demanded of them, they were a new version of femininity to cowboys and other males on the frontier. They are widely credited with introducing a new level of civility to what had once been the wild West. *** TRAILBLAZER by Anna Schmidt Cowboys & Harvey Girls #1 MEET THE HARVEY GIRLS: These real-life pioneering women were symbols of elegance in the wild frontier: taming rough manners, falling in love, and changing the face of the West forever. Grace Rogers is ready for the adventure of a lifetime. With her family’s farm falling on hard times, she accepts a position with the prestigious Fred Harvey Company and heads for Juniper, New Mexico. There she meets a handsome cowboy who quickly turns her head. Too bad the Harvey Girls are forbidden to marry… Nick Hopkins has a plan: buy a little land, marry, and raise a family in that order. But after meeting Grace, he can’t keep away….

Netflix Announces Virgin River Series by Robyn Carr
News , TV / December 20, 2018

Exciting Romance industry news! Robyn Carr’s best-selling and long-running  Virgin River series will be a Netflix series! You can read the full, exclusive announcement over on Deadline. It’s being billed as a romance drama series, and the cast includes Alexandra Breckinridge (This Is Us, The Walking Dead) and Martin Henderson (Grey’s Anatomy, Miracles From Heaven). This beloved series has a robust cast of characters, and lucky for us, a cast list has been released! Check out the list below to see who will be portraying your favorite Virgin River inhabitants (Character and then Actor name – a complete list of character descriptions found HERE): Melinda Moore (lead character, new to small-town of Virgin River): Alexandra Breckenridge (This Is Us and The Walking Dead) Jack Sheridan (sharp-witted ex-Marine commander): Martin Henderson (Grey’s Anatomy and Miracles from Heaven) Doc Mullins: Tim Matheson (The Affair and The Good Fight) Hope McCrea (mayor of Virgin River): Annette O’Toole (Smallville and Marvel’s The Punisher) Joey Barnes (Melinda’s charming older sister): Jenny Cooper (Grey’s Anatomy) Calvin (leader of the largest and many illegal pot fields): David Cubitt (Siren) Paige Lassiter (local entrepreneur): Lexa Doig (Arrow) Mark (Melinda’s first love and accomplished surgeon): Daniel Gillies (The Originals)…

Mira Lyn Kelly | About My Writing Space…
Author Guest / December 11, 2018

Hey everyone! So one of the questions I get asked a lot, is what’s my writing space like. And the simplest answer is EVER-CHANGING! I’m most definitely a creature of habit… until I’m not lol. For instance, I might move from my office desk to my office couch to the comfy chair in the living room to my bedroom, getting huffy at every stop until I find that spot that clicks and I finally drop into THE ZONE. I know. This sounds ridiculous, but it’s just how it goes. And once I figure out the spot that works…  I’ll ride it into the ground lol. I’ll go back to writing in my bed or at my desk while sitting on a yoga ball every day for as long as it triggers that free flow of flirty, sexy storytelling that is so much fun! This week, I’m all about the desk and the rolling, spinny chair lol. One thing that doesn’t change? All the crap I tote along with me lol. Soundproof headphones (regardless of whether the house is silent or not) Two, yes two mugs of gorgeous assorted pens and highlighters My project specific spiral notebook (it needs to be…

Julie Particka | Comedic Influences
Author Guest / November 16, 2018

I have to admit, I am always alternately excited and confused when my publisher decides one of my books falls under the romantic comedy heading. Excited because rom-coms are my favorite type of romance. Confused because I don’t really set out to write comedy. Why? Because comedy is hard. It’s not that I don’t think I’m funny. I mean, if I can still make my teenagers laugh, but not laugh at me, I must be doing something right in the live comedy department. But in my experience, written comedy is a whole other ball game. And kind of like a five-year-old who is trying to learn to tell jokes, when I try to write comedy, it comes off stilted and…not funny. So rather than try to write comedy, I aim to write people the way people around me actually talk. Yet, I tend to fall back on two of my comedic influences when writing anyway. The first (love him, hate him, or try to ignore the bad stuff about him) is Joss Whedon. I’m going to take a stab in the dark that, like me, he doesn’t really consider himself a comedy writer. However, most of his work has strong…

Abbie Roads | Never Let Me Fall Exclusive Excerpt
Author Guest / November 8, 2018

In the vanity mirror of her old bathroom, Helena caught sight of her naked torso and wished she hadn’t. She’d known her body looked bad. But it was so much worse than she’d imagined. Water rained from the showerhead, ringing against the old claw-foot tub, a sound that should’ve comforted her for its familiarity, but it didn’t. Not now. Not staring at the disaster that was her body. Her skin bore witness to the brutality she’d suffered at the hands of the Sisters. Thick scars. Jagged scars. Smooth scars. Sunken-in hollows. Disfiguring and ghastly to look upon. The top of her left breast had a fat, puckered mark from one of the Sisters trying to bury a screwdriver in her heart. Dizziness came over her. The world distorted, fading out of focus until the only thing visible was the mess of her flesh. Every damaged piece of skin flamed to life, burning and itching in an I-won’t-ever-let-you-forget of epic proportions. She turned and looked over her shoulder at her back in the mirror. The ability to breathe stopped. Both sides bore dozens, maybe hundreds, of scars from the gang shanking she’d endured. The raised, angry skin looked like a grotesque…

Carrie Nichols | Matchmaking Is Hard Work When You’re Seven
Author Guest / November 5, 2018

My name is Evangeline Fontenot but everyone calls me Evie except my papá, he calls me ’tit ange. Little angel. I have people in my life who love me, but what I really want is a mother. I’m in the second grade and our class just got a new teacher. Her name is Miz Honeycutt and I decided she’d make a great mom. She’s real pretty, loves kids and she has a big orange cat named Henry. I know because she has a picture of Henry on her desk. I haven’t met Henry yet, but I’m sure he’s real nice too. I’ve been telling Papá about Henry and Miz Honeycutt every night at supper, but he still hasn’t gone to meet her. Bobby, a boy in my class, says he got a bad grade on his spelling test and his mom had to come to talk to Miz Honeycutt. It worked for him so I decided it might work for me. It did, but now I have to make sure Miz Honeycutt doesn’t decide she likes my uncle or anyone else better than my papá. Who knew getting a mom with a cat was this hard! Excerpt from The Sheriff’s…