Fresh FIction Box Not To Miss
Samantha Verant | Exclusive Excerpt: SOPHIE VALROUX’S PARIS STARS
Author Guest / October 12, 2021

FROM CHAPTER EIGHT: Real or Surreal Nicolas grabbed a glass of sparkling wine off one of the servers’ trays, the movement bringing me back to the present. At over six feet tall, he towered over me, intimidating. His perfectly disheveled chestnut hair blew in the breeze, as if he’d just rolled out of the sack with the blond. His eyes bored into mine, dark blue with a devilish twinkle. His trimmed beard highlighted a chiseled jawline. By the way his chin lifted, he knew he was good-looking and he appreciated being looked at. But I didn’t like the way he was looking at me—like a meal he wanted to devour. He raised his glass and said, “I’m thoroughly enchanted to meet the world’s most beautiful cooking face.” Wrong thing to say. My spine went rigid. “Believe me, I can carry my own pots and pans. Merci beaucoup.” “But you look so sweet and delicate,” he said, eyeing me up and down. I don’t know if it was my imagination working in overdrive, but his eyes seemed to hold a certain lascivious quality. Whether it was rude or not, I turned on my heel to walk away. “It was lovely to…

Ruth Hogan | Exclusive Excerpt: THE MOON, THE STARS, AND MADAME BUROVA
Author Guest / September 16, 2021

I want you to tell her to stop hiding my baccy!” Ernest Plumb was one of Imelda’s regulars. He was a short, stocky man with a bellicose air, who trailed a pungent whiff of mothballs and pipe smoke in his wake. Since his wife, Joan, had died, he had come to see her every few weeks to continue the constant bickering that had been the mainstay of their forty-two-year marriage. Imelda had tried explaining to Ernest that spiritual readings weren’t like telephone conversations. She couldn’t simply dial dead people and have a chat at will. Joan was no more cooperative in death than she had been in life. She only came through when it suited her, but today she did have something to say and Imelda struggled to suppress a grin. “Joan says that she’ll stop hiding your stinking tobacco when you stop living like a filthy pig and wash the net curtains at the sitting room window. And she wants you to stop smoking your pipe in the house. She says that’s what your bloody shed is for.” “It’s not like he uses it for anything else,” Joan grumbled. Imelda could see her standing behind Ernest with her hands…

Jennifer Vido | Jen’s Jewels Interview: PAPER DOLL LINA by Robyn Lucas
Author Guest / September 10, 2021

Jen: What inspired you to write PAPER DOLL LINA? Robyn: After Charlottesville in 2017, I pulled back from social media and the news because it was such a horrible event to witness. I had a difficult time reconciling the fact that something like that was happening in 2017 vs 1950. In unplugging, I turned to writing and quickly discovered these characters. I didn’t realize what I was writing about until I was well into revisions. Please describe Lina Henry and the life she leads. Lina Henry is a forty-something at-home mom who lives a Pinterest-perfect life. To the outside world, she and her family are #familygoals. When we meet Lina in the first chapter, she feels one-dimensional and likens herself to a paper doll— something to be dressed up and seen, not heard. Lina spends the novel learning how to breathe life into her paper doll existence to where she is a multi-dimensional, fully formed person who thrives. What happens to Lina that causes her to take matters into her own hands? Lina’s children develop a website that goes viral. Through their handwork and determination, Lina begins to fight for them and eventually for herself. She also reconnects with her…

Tari Faris | 20 Questions: SINCE YOU’VE BEEN GONE
Author Guest / September 10, 2021

1–What is the title of your latest release? Since You’ve Been Gone 2–What is it about? When Leah returns to Heritage with plans to reopen her grandparent’s store, she finds one big obstacle in her way—John Kensington. Not only did Jon make her high school years difficult, but he is now determined to thwart her professional efforts as well. When Jon returns to Heritage to take his place in the family company, he quickly discovers his uncle has other plans. How can he prove he has what it takes to run the multi-million-dollar business if his uncle won’t give him a chance? Jon and Leah will have to learn to work together if either of them is going to have a professional future in their hometown. 3–What do you love about the setting of your book?  I love small towns and I love Michigan, so I guess I love everything about the setting. I grew up in a small Michigan town and even though Heritage isn’t based on where I grew up, it does have the close community. the quirks, and the charm. One piece of the setting everyone has grown to love about Heritage is Otis, the moving hippo…

Freya Sampson | Exclusive Excerpt: THE LAST CHANCE LIBRARY
Author Guest / September 2, 2021

It was twelve o’clock and the start of the lunchtime lull. The only other people in the library were Stanley, snoozing behind a newspaper in his chair, and Mrs. Bransworth, skulking around the shelves muttering to herself. June sat down at the desk and took a few deep breaths, filling her nostrils with the comforting scent of the library. As a child, she used to believe that each book had its own smell, specific to its story, and the smell of a library was the combined scent of thousands of different tales. She once explained this theory to her mum, telling her that the Children’s Room smelled best because everyone knew that kids’ books had more exciting stories than grown-up ones. For months after that they’d played a game whenever they read a book together, deciding what particular aroma the story had. The Secret Garden, for example, smelled of mud and roses, while Charlie and the Chocolate Factory smelled of both sugar and cabbage soup. “Excuse me, can I take these out, please?” June looked up to see a tall pile of books in front of the desk, with a pair of eyes blinking at her over the top. “Of…

Kari Lee Harmon | Top Five Things to do in Vermont
Author Guest / August 31, 2021

VALLEY OF SECRETS comes out on September 7th. It’s a women’s fiction book with romance and a bit of mystery. The story is about a woman following her aunt’s journal on a journey of self-discovery who finds herself in an unlikely relationship with the editor-in-chief who is trying to solve a mystery that has haunted him for years, but a valley of secrets and a devastating loss threaten the new life she fought so hard to create. It takes place in a fictional town called Mystic Valley, but the state of Vermont itself is very real. I lived in Vermont for a while, and the state is beautiful and mystical with many things to love. Everyone has their favorites but my top five favorite things to do in Vermont are: See the Covered bridges Covered bridges are on my list of must-sees. You won’t find any better than those in Vermont’s Bennington County, where every spot to cross a stream seems to be under wooden eaves. You will find most of the covered bridges in the state’s southeastern corner, including the 88-foot-long Silk Road Bridge, which spans the Walloomsac River and dates from 1840. Anna drives over a covered bridge…

Gervais Hagerty | Exclusive Excerpt: IN POLITE COMPANY
Author Guest / August 13, 2021

14. Crab Crack Six blue crabs rattle in a white bucket at my feet, blowing bubbles and pinching one another’s legs. A gigantic stainless-steel pot boils on the stove. Steam billows overhead, making the already-toasty kitchen even hotter. I dump the blue crabs in-ide. They die instantly, I hope. When they pinken, I drain the pot and carry our Monthly Monday dinner to the porch. For the crab crack, Weezy and I have assembled newspapers, paper towels, heavy spoons, and a bowl of water. Weezy wears an old nursing bra and some stretchy biker shorts. Her grow- ing belly pokes out beneath a tank top. Our legs need shaving. Dirt collects in the spaces between my toes, beneath my nails. We’ve wrapped our hair in careless buns, high off our necks. We sit on the floor. Weezy goes for the claws first. She cracks the shell open with a mallet. I start by prying off the carapace. Warm goop drips from my fingers to the newspaper. I use a spoon to scrape away the gills. I swish the carcass around in the water bowl to clean off excess innards. After I break the body in half, it strikes me that…

Tif Marcelo | Exclusive Interview: IT TAKES HEART
Author Guest / August 10, 2021

Danielle: Welcome back to Fresh Fiction, Tif! Please tell us about your new book, IT TAKES HEART.   Tif: Thank you so much for having me back Danielle! I love the Fresh Fiction crew! I’m so pleased to introduce IT TAKES HEART, the first book in a new romance series called Heart Resort, which takes place on a heart-shaped peninsula on the Outer Banks. The series concept revolves around four siblings trying to find love on the couples resort that they collectively run, and IT TAKES HEART is between Brandon Puso (the youngest Puso sibling) and his former love, Geneva Harris. IT TAKES HEART is a wonderful story, chock full of some of my favorite romance tropes: returning home, second chance romance, sibling’s best friend… I say, the more the better! Do you have a favorite romance trope to write? What about to read?   Thank you so much for that! My favorite romance trope is second chance romance and friends to lovers! To read, I love opposites attract and just one bed. I adored the setting of your novel: a couples resort in the Outer Banks! What do you love most about writing in this locale? Were you able to travel…

Jenn McKinlay | 20 Questions: WAIT FOR IT
Author Guest / August 10, 2021

1–What is the title of your latest release? WAIT FOR IT 2–What is it about? WAIT FOR IT is the love story of two people who have to change their self protective default settings if they want the romance that is sparkling right in front of them. This is much more challenging than they anticipate. Can Annabelle learn to ask for what she wants in a relationship instead of always putting her partner first? Can she stop picking men who need her instead of want her? Can Nick confront his anxiety and fear and be the man he once was? Can he believe in true love and its power to heal instead of harm? There’s only one way to find out! 3–What do you love about the setting of your book?  It’s set in Phoenix, AZ which has been my home for almost thirty years. 4–How did your heroine surprise you?  Annabelle stepped out of her comfort zone repeatedly and hilariously. It was a joy to watch her challenge herself even when it hurt. 5–Why will readers love your hero?  Nick has a huge heart. He pretends he doesn’t but it is obvious in all of his actions how much…

Jennifer Vido | Jen’s Jewels Interview: A WOMAN OF INTELLIGENCE by Karin Tanabe
Author Guest / July 23, 2021

Jen: What inspired you to write A WOMAN OF INTELLIGENCE?  Karin: I really liked the idea of writing about a struggling mother against the backdrop of the Cold War. I was dealing with my own postpartum depression and identity loss and wanted to channel that into a book. Admittedly, at first, I wanted her to be an assassin with a LOT of anger, but my editor talked me out of that one! So she is a spy with a LOT of anger instead – ha. While I was starting to piece together the story, a friend told me about Elizabeth Bentley, a Vassar College grad like me. She graduated in 1930 and went on to study Italian, earning a master’s degree in languages from Columbia University. While at Columbia, she joined a Communist Party cell and then fell madly in love with Jacob Golos, a Ukrainian-born revolutionary who conducted Soviet espionage. While Elizabeth Bentley certainly inspired the book, I did not follow her story that closely. She wasn’t a mother, and she didn’t live a gilded life in New York. But I loved the idea of giving a struggling mother a secret life and a sense of purpose. What leads…