Romance Interview with Dani Pettrey and Giveaway!

Thank you for willing to be interviewed!

1. In your opinion, what is one thing that a romance novel should have in order to be successful?

A satisfying, happy ending. It’s the ending that makes or breaks a novel. It’s what lingers with you long after you close the book. In romance, it’s essential to have an ending that warms your heart.

2. When it comes to writing romance in novels, is there any kind of formula that you follow? Or does it just come together organically?

I’m not a plotter, so for me the entire story comes together organically. That said, it usually takes me numerous draft to get the feel right.

3. Of all the novels that you have written, which one would you say was your most romantic and why?

I’d have to say Shattered. I loved watching Piper and Landon evolve from friends to being deeply in love.

4. Do you have a favorite romantic trope? A least favorite trope?

Fun question. I’m rather partial to Beauty & the Beast. I love seeing a wounded hero find love and restoration. My least favorite…amnesia. It can be done really well, but it’s been used a lot.

5. What are some authors/books that you read when you just want to enjoy a good romance novel?

Becky Wade writes classic, sophisticated, and heartwarming romances.

Karen Witemeyer writes hilarious, moving and always satisfying romances. Those are my top two go-to authors for romance. I highly recommend them both.

Bio

Dani Pettrey is a wife, mom, grandma, and the acclaimed author of the Alaskan Courage romantic suspense series, which includes her bestselling novels SubmergedShatteredStranded, and Silenced, and upcoming release, Sabotaged. Her books have been honored with the Daphne du Maurier award, two HOLT Medallions, a Christy Award nomination, two National Readers’ Choice Awards, the Gail Wilson Award of Excellence, and Christian Retailing’s Best Award, among others.
She feels blessed to write inspirational romantic suspense because it incorporates so many things she loves—the thrill of adventure, nail-biting suspense, the deepening of her characters’ faith, and plenty of romance. She and her husband reside in Maryland, where they enjoy time with their two daughters, a son-in-law, and a super adorable grandson.
Blessings,
Dani 

Giveaway

Dani Pettrey has graciously offered to giveaway an autographed copy of her novel Sabotaged. The rules are as follows:

If this book has captured your fancy (and I hope it does!), there’s an opportunity for you to win your own copy! *Note you must be a US or Canadian address. All you need to do is leave a comment in the comment section of one of the interviews this month (February) with your email address. The giveaway ends on March 13! The winner will be randomly selected. If you win, you have 48 hours to respond to the notification before I will choose another winner. Happy Reading!

Sally Bradley’s Kept

Life has taught Miska Tomlinson that there are no honorable men. Her womanizing brothers, her absentee father, and Mark, the married baseball player who claims to love her—all have proven undependable. But Miska has life under control. She runs her editing business from her luxury condo, stays fit with daily jogs along Chicago’s lakefront, and in her free time blogs anonymously about life as a kept woman.

Enter new neighbor Dillan Foster. Between his unexpected friendship and her father’s sudden reappearance, Miska loses control of her orderly life. Her relationship with Mark deteriorates, and Miska can’t help comparing him to Dillan. His religious views are so foreign, yet the way he treats her is something she’s longed for. But Dillan discovers exactly who she is and what she has done. Too late she finds herself longing for a man who is determined to never look her way again.

When her blog receives unexpected national press, Miska realizes that her anonymity was an illusion. Caught in a scandal about to break across the nation, Miska wonders if the God Dillan talks about would bother with a woman like her—a woman who’s gone too far and done too much.

Review

This is another book that I put off reading because of the hype (I know, so strange, you want to know what’s good, but don’t want to read what everyone is gushing about) and because I thought it would be a more modern telling of Francine Rivers’ Redeeming Love. Here’s what I ended up thinking:

What I liked:

That it wasn’t like Redeeming Love. I love that even though Miska is in a relationship (if you can call it that), it is she who wants to pursue Dillan and Dillan who is running away. It was such a nice twist.

Dillan. I really liked Dillan because he was a character I could totally relate to. He has been raised a certain way and is a bit uptight and yet loves God and is trying to navigate the murky waters of avoiding temptation and showing the love of Christ. While some people might find him judgmental (and he does have his moments), I found him to be realistic. It’s not easy to be in this world and not of it without coming across as judgmental.

The romance. I thought it developed realistically. You could see Dillan and Miska slowly becoming friends and then that friendship slowly turning into something more. Well done!

Secondary characters. My goodness, I was so invested in Dillan’s brother and Tracy. I kind of want them to get their own story.

Spiritually, I loved the theme of grace and forgiveness that really permeates this book. What does grace look like really? This book will show you.

What I didn’t like:

Someone in this book really turns all villian-y and I didn’t really see quite how their personality progressed that way.

Also, I did want to note that I personally don’t think you’re being judgmental if you don’t want to marry a person who has sexual baggage (or any kind of baggage for that matter). Sometimes, I felt like the author was trying to make me feel bad about Dillan’s hesitation, but I don’t care how saved you are, when you get married, that person’s baggage becomes yours and it’s okay if you don’t want to walk that road.

Romantic scale: 9.5

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It’s definitely worth the hype!

Monday Musings…Romance Questions Pt III

Anyone who has been keeping up with my blog knows that I am asking my readers the same or similar questions that I’m asking my authors this month. Today’s question is:

Do you have a favorite romantic trope? A least favorite trope?

   A trope is a common recurring literary device. In other words, a commonly used form of writing. Some romantic tropes are: Millionaire Playboy, Reformed Rake, Girl/Boy Next Door, love triangle, opposites attract, secret pregnancies, etc. I think you get it, if you read enough romance novels you will come across the same or similar plot lines. That said, some of those same or similar plot lines are what gets me to buy a book.

So, my favorite romantic tropes are: arranged marriages and forbidden love. Mostly because if done right, the couple has to get know to each other well before falling in love. There should be some kind of underlying theme of friendship. But I also like the hate to love romance novels and sometimes the reformed rake.

My least favorite is of course, the love triangle and probably the girl/boy next door (for me this trope is usually boring.)

And now I ask you:

Do you have a favorite romantic trope? A least favorite trope?

Romance Interview with Elizabeth Camden

Thanks for asking me aboard, Embassie!

In your opinion, what is one thing that a romance novel should have in order to be successful?

A romance novel must have great chemistry between the leading characters. In mainstream romance you will often find characters whose attraction is based entirely on lust or the weird phenomenon of “insta-love,” in which two people are attracted for no other reason than the author tells us how “right” they are for each other. Sometimes writers in inspirational fiction rely on simply making the characters good, honorable people and assume this is enough for chemistry. It’s not! I’m sure we all know scads of honorable people we aren’t attracted to, so figuring out how to convey that spark of chemistry is often what separates a great romance novel from an ordinary one.

I spend a lot of time designing a character with a huge, howling flaw that the other romantic lead can address in a uniquely exhilarating way. In Against the Tide, my heroine had a chaotic, unstable childhood. As a result she grows up to need fanatic control over all aspects of her life. She believes herself to be well-adjusted and is justifiably proud of how she overcame her rough childhood, but it isn’t until the hero waltzes into her life that he shines a spotlight on her many quirks & compensations. The two of them spark off each other in an alternatingly funny, painful, and fulfilling ways.

Then of course this must be fun to watch unfold, so I also lean heavily on terrific dialog that conveys wit, intelligence, and compatibility. I’ve got to tell you….creating that kind of chemistry is HARD, but I think it is the key to getting readers care about the characters.

When it comes to writing romance in novels, is there any kind of formula that you follow? Or does it just come together organically?

Well, all romance is formulaic in that you have two people meet, plow through a ton of conflict, then find a resolution. For me, I usually design the heroine first. My novels are set in late 19th century America, and always feature successful, intelligent women. Once I know who she is, I give her a huge flaw, weakness, or traumatic scar. Then I think up a hero who can somehow click with that issue. Perhaps he has unique experience with it, or is determined to expose her scar to salt, to challenge her, or make her stronger. In Beyond All Dreams a congressman needs a shy, introverted heroine to step out into the public arena despite her aversion to publicity. In With Every Breath the hero needs the heroine’s skills in a medical trial that will expose her and her loved ones to a deadly communicable disease, even though he knows this is a lifelong fear of hers. Will Kate rise to the occasion? How can the hero prod, tease, love her into overcoming this fear? So using this character flaw (either in the hero or the heroine) is a technique I find that helps me come up with an interesting cast with lots of potential.

Of all the novels that you have written, which one would you say was your most romantic and why?

Some people consider “most romantic” to include walks on the beach, flowers, and music swelling in the background. I don’t! I consider it to be two people whose connection is so profound they are willing to walk through fire on behalf of the other person. So my “romantic” books tend to be filled with turbulence, heartache, all shot through with flashes of joy and inspiration.

So using that criteria, I think my most romantic novel would be a toss-up between Against the Tide and With Every Breath. In both stories the leading characters had terrific chemistry….so great that they really ought to have fallen in love by the third chapter and have that be the end of the book, but then I wouldn’t have a story! So I burdened them with huge, apparently insurmountable roadblocks that caused them to delve into deeply emotional predicaments. Against the Tide was more of a rollicking adventure tale, while With Every Breath was much more true to life, and I really put Kate and Trevor through the wringer before I have them earn their happy ending.

In both cases I consider the heartache, sacrifices, and personal growth the heroines undergo on behalf of fighting for their relationship to be deeply romantic. I confess to really aching for those characters, but I think that makes their happily-ever-after all the more sweet.

Do you have a favorite romantic trope? A least favorite trope?

I’ve always been a big fan or reunited lovers. My very first novel, The Lady of Bolton Hill, was about two people who had a childhood crush on each other, but don’t act on it until they encounter each other ten years later. I haven’t done another reunited lovers yet, but am hoping to dust it off for an upcoming novel someday.

My least favorite trope would be hero and heroine who take an instant dislike to each other over something trivial, or whose conflict is based on a silly misunderstanding that could be resolved with a simple, honest conversation. I need a little more heft if I’m going to take the story seriously.

What are some authors/books that you read when you just want to enjoy a good romance novel?

For Inspirational fiction, you can’t beat Francine Rivers, who always creates believable conflict and deeply emotional stories. I’m also a big fan of Becky Wade, Julie Klassen, Kristen Heitzmann and Lynn Austin. I confess that many of my favorite romance writers come from mainstream romance. They would be Sherry Thomas and Ciji Ware for historicals. For contemporaries I love Susan Elizabeth Philips, Kristan Higgins and Lisa Kleypas.

http://www.elizabethcamden.com

https://www.facebook.com/ElizabethCamden

Welcome to the Blog Tour for Jane by Michelle N. Onuorah!

Orphaned.
Neglected.
Hurt and abused.

Jane Daugherty has survived what can only be described as the childhood from hell. After years of mental, physical, and sexual abuse, she has become a fiercely independent young woman – closed off from human connection. Unable to trust people or in their ability to be kind, she has vowed to build a new life for herself so that she never has to rely on others again. At 24-years-old, she is fulfilling this vow, successfully working as the youngest tenure-track professor at the University of New York.

Brilliant and remarkably accomplished, Jane’s life takes an unexpected turn when she is reunited with the childhood friend she protected in foster care. Alexa Masterson introduces Jane to the family that adopted her, a family that includes her older brother, Aiden Masterson. Instantly drawn to each other, Aiden and Jane embark on a relationship that will either destroy them both or shape them into the man and woman they were always meant to be. Can what started as lust transform into love? And what will bring about the transformation that they ultimately need?

**Please note there is occasional cursing, mild violence, and unapologetic references to sexuality and spirituality within this work of fiction. Reader discretion is advised.**

Review

When I initially heard what this book was about, this is what I thought was going to happen: Jane was going to be a woman who, because of her past would be hard to get know or be around, and the Christian Aiden would pursue her despite her prickly outside and in the last three chapters she would declare her love for him….the end. And so, I cannot begin to tell you how thrilled I was that this was NOT that story. My thoughts:

Reasons why you should read this book:

The characters. Honestly, this is character driven novel and not a plot driven novel and when you have novels like these, it becomes important that you like the main characters. I liked the main characters. Jane is damaged. But I love that while her past made her hesitant to engage, it did not cripple her. She was usually conscious of when she said something not so nice or overreacted and then she corrected herself. Aiden (who was not the Christian knight-more on this later) was another well developed character whose actions felt consistent with who he was…and Alexa was my favorite person (probably because she was the person who held everything together).

The romance. Neither Aiden nor Jane are Christians at the start of this novel, and can I say that that is a rarity in Christian fiction? I simply can’t recall another novel like that (sometimes in the prologue the main characters aren’t saved, but by chapter 1 they are or at least one of them is). This means that the way they go about things romantically….is different. That said, I loved the connection between Aiden and Jane. Their romance was not rushed. They really got to know each other well. And when the novel ended, in spite of the baggage they would be bringing into a relationship, I had complete faith that their romance would last.

Spiritually, there is a great message about the difference between love and lust and why marriage is different than just playing house (so to speak). I really liked the slow way they both came to know the Lord and realized a need for him. Also, when Jane and Aiden do get saved, I can happily report that the book doesn’t just end. I’m so glad the author gave them time to figure out who they were spiritually before they just got together.

Reasons you might not want to read this book (personal preference):

There is cursing. And I know what you’re thinking, your saying Em, I totally saw the disclaimer. Well I did too folks and so I went in with the expectation of coming across…maybe five swear words….no.

There are steamy scenes. Let me just be honest, I like my Christian romance novels with a side of edginess. Whenever I read reviews that complain about the edginess of a novel, I mentally scoff at the reviewer and say bring it on. Ok…well…this book was not edgy, it was steamy, and this 27 year old christian woman was blushing, and there were moments where I hoped no one was reading over my shoulder. That said…it could have been worse.

Romantic scale: 9

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It was beyond what I thought, far exceeded my expectations and this won’t be the last novel that I read by the author.

**I received my copy from the author. My opinion was not affected in anyway.**

Blog Tour Schedule

Saturday, February 14th
Guest Post at To Be A Person
Sunday, February 15th
Monday, February 16th
Interview  at Crafty Booksheeps 
Wednesday, February 18th
Review at Remain in His Love 
Thursday, February 19th
Guest Post at Twinja Book Reviews

Friday, February 20th
Review at Crafty Booksheeps 
Saturday, February 21st
Monday, February 23rd
Review at Kim Talks Books 
Tuesday, February 24th
Review at i blog 4 books 
Wednesday, February 25th
Review at To Be A Person 
Thursday, February 26th
Book Spotlight at Seasons of Humility

Friday, February 27th
Saturday, February 28th

Monday Musings…Romance Questions Pt II

For this month, I am asking you, my readers, some of the same questions that I am asking four different authors this month. You can find last week’s question here.  This week’s question I tailored a bit for you:

Of all the romance novels you have read, which one would you say is your most romantic and why?

This is a hard question because there are literally tons of romantic books that are my favorite for different reasons. There are of course the classics like Austen, though I will admit that Jane Eyre is my favorite “classic” romance novel because of that awesome dynamic between Jane and Rochester. Then, when I consider historical romance I have to say Francine Rivers’ A Voice in the Wind, because I love the slow way Marcus fell in love with Hadassah….and then would do anything for her. And when I think of contemporary, I almost always think of Becky Wade’s My Stubborn Heart because of the way he (Matt) loved her. And really, I almost hate to just name these few. Hmmm, I’m sensing a pattern and I think it has to do with how much the hero really loves the heroine and that that love is based on something far deeper than just looks. But now it’s your turn:

Of all the romance novels you have read, which one would you say is your most romantic and why?

Enter to Win Deadly Echoes!


After a youth filled with tragedy and upheaval, Sarah Miller’s life is finally settled with all echoes of the past silent at last. She happily calls Sanctuary her home and spends her days teaching at the local school.

Sarah’s joy at her recent reunion with her sister, Hannah, and meeting the niece she didn’t know she had is too soon interrupted when Deputy Sheriff Paul Gleason informs Sarah her sister has been killed.

As she learns more about Hannah’s death, the circumstances are eerily similar to their parents’ murder. Sarah enlists Paul’s help in digging deeper into the murders the police are dismissing as burglaries gone wrong. Paul’s concern encourages Sarah’s growing feelings for him, but as their investigation peels back the layers of lies almost twenty years old, they get close to uncovering the truth one person will do anything to hide–even if that means coming after the last remaining members of the Miller family.

Interested? Find out more here.

Romance Interview with Paula Vince

In your opinion, what is one thing that a romance novel should have in order to be successful?

I’d say tension in the plot, to bring the worst and best out of both main characters.

I almost said ‘a hero and heroine we can love’ but there’s more to it than that. They may both have the kindest hearts and best intentions, but if we never see them responding to danger, threats or sudden surprises, their potential will remain untapped. I believe the best stories have a nice balance between action and reflection.

When it comes to writing romance in novels, is there any kind of formula that you follow? Or does it just come together organically?

I’m more of an organic type of plotter. A friend once showed me a guidelines booklet she’d acquired from a particular romance publisher. It was full of formulas which absolutely had to be stuck to. These included everything from the main characters’ backgrounds to their financial status and appearances. I felt how restrictive and repetitive this might become over time, like working on an assembly line.

I aim for my characters and situations to be a fresh surprise with each new book. Having said that, I wonder whether having some sort of twist or shock revelation could become a sort of formula on its own. Maybe one day the twist will be that I write a novel in which there is no twist. But these are features I love to incorporate, and whenever one occurs to me, I’m happy.

Of all the novels you have written, which one would you say is your most romantic and why?

That’s an interesting question. I’ve written nine novels, and in each of them the romance took priority in my planning process.

I think I’ll say ‘The Greenfield Legacy.’ It’s a collaboration I wrote with three friends. We all love weaving romance into our plots, so multiplying it by four makes a lot of romance. Each of us wrote from the point of view of one of four main characters, spanning several generations, and each had their own romance. It was great fun to work on, and so far, readers have enjoyed the way it all came together.

Do you have a favourite romantic trope? A least favourite trope?

This is fun and makes me think, as there are so many.

One of my favourites is that of sworn enemies becoming lovers. It may be a well-known trope, but for good reason. There are so many ways this can be achieved without clichés, and I always enjoy reading about the inner processes of their hearts and minds as they come to admit their attraction to each other. I’ve even written a few.

My least favourite is the cringe-worthy misunderstanding, when one of the pair assumes something bad about the other which simply isn’t true. Instead of being straightforward (s)he goes off to stew, making the situation even worse for a time.

Close behind this is the unequal relationship, often incorporating major age or education differences. This may result in either the hero or heroine regarding themselves as a mentor to the other. The George Knightley/Emma Woodhouse scenario, when one is in the position to lecture the other, is not my favourite for romance. I prefer a more equal footing.

What are some authors/books that you read when you just want to enjoy a good romance novel?

Names such as Julie Klassen, Karen Witemeyer and Jody Hedlund are always good to see on new release lists, for that very reason.

There are also several great Australia Christian fiction authors I enjoy. Apart from the three co-authors I mentioned before, names to look out for in romance include Andrea Grigg, Mary Hawkins, Narelle Atkins and Skye Weiland for contemporary and D.J. Blackmore for historical.

Thanks very much for inviting me to share on your blog, Embassie.

More about the author:

Award-winning author, Paula Vince loves to evoke tears and laughter through her novels. A wife and homeschooling mother of three, she resides in the beautiful Adelaide Hills of South Australia. Her youth was brightened by great fiction and she’s on a mission to pay it forward.

Her novel, Picking up the Pieces, won the religious fiction section of the 2011 International Book Awards.

Her novel, Best Forgotten, was winner of the 2011 CALEB Award in the fiction category and also recognized as the best overall entry for the year, chosen over memoirs, devotionals and general non-fiction.

Paula’s books are a skillful blend of drama and romance tied together with elements of mystery and suspense.

Find out more at http://www.justoccurred.blogspot.com.au and http://www.vincereview.blogspot.com.au.

Paula is the author of Picking up the Pieces, The Risky Way Home, A Design of Gold and Best Forgotten. Her new novel, Imogen’s Chance, was published in April, 2014.

Paula is also one of the four authors of The Greenfield Legacy.

Amy Matayo’s Sway

Falling in love is a beautiful thing. Unless you fall for the wrong person.

Finally settled after a tragedy-laden life, 24-year-old Caleb has found security in his faith, his friends, and his career. It’s the life he’s always wanted—simple, predictable, and safe. Enter Kate Hawkins, the attractive 21-year-old stranger he rescues from a bar fight who has an odd affinity for the color pink and a unique sense of humor.

It doesn’t take long to realize their connection is intense, but after only a handful of dates, a shocking revelation surfaces. Lines are drawn, sides are taken, and loyalties are decided as their newfound relationship is brought to a sudden halt.

But unlike most couples who split, avoiding each other is impossible. As daily interactions become unbearable, one realization becomes clear: they’ve both fallen hard for the absolute wrong person, which leaves both scrambling for a way to make it right.

Review

I’ve read a book by Amy Matayo before. And it was good, and I was planning to one day getting around to reading her other novel. Then Sway came out and it started making rounds as a must read. Clearly, it took me a while to get to reading it, but let me tell you this, I enjoyed this book so much I’ll read anything Amy Matayo writes now.

What I liked:

The plot. For me, I went into this book blind. I didn’t read any reviews, except for that I heard it was great. And let me tell you going into this book blind was perfect because when I figured out the “catch” I was really surprised. And amazed. And I totally loved the idea (so I’m going to try to review this book very very vaguely).

The romance. So this was one of those times where the couple starts to fall for each other early in the book, and it worked. Even though it began so soon, the author really laid the foundation for their relationship and I loved the back and forth banter that Caleb and Katie had. Their romance was just so sweet. And even after the “revelation” occurs, you could see just how drawn they are to each other. I just really enjoyed being in their moments.

Spiritually, I loved the aspect of trusting God (for one character) and getting to know God (for the other character). I also liked that the author showed what walking by faith looks like in reality.

What I didn’t like:

How to say this without giving something away…it’s not what I didn’t like, but I did think that someone in the novel had a position that they might have been too young for. That is all.

Romantic scale: 10

I just loved it. It was everything everyone said it was and I can’t wait for what comes next!

Winsor Series by T.L. Gray Mini Review

Last week, I mentioned just how much I loved T.L. Gray’s novel Mercy’s Fight here. Well, after I read that book, I had to go back and read the Winsor series. Because it’s a series, I decided to do mini-reviews of each. However, if I had to pick an overarching theme for all of them it would go something like this: don’t date unbelievers, in fact, don’t put yourself in a situation where you might fall in love with unbeliever. My thoughts:

This book was a hard one for me to read, mainly because I like wise main characters, and Avery was not exactly wise. Girlfriend kept making bad decisions and allowing herself to be pushed over. And as to the guy that she ends up with, he literally had the patience of a saint and sometimes I was confused as to why. And yet, the book was such an addictive read, I had to immediately pick up book two.

I will admit that Issy was not my favorite character in the first novel, but the man that she would end up with was such a curiosity to me that I had to see how they got together. Issy is…a bit wild…and another character who makes decisions that I wasn’t thrilled with, but I must say, the author does a fantastic job of fully developing her character. I knew Issy after reading this book and the previous. My main complaint with the novel was that we didn’t get to see Issy as a servant of Christ for very long…which leads us to book three.

Book three was my absolute favorite novel. I don’t know if it’s because the girl had a relationship with Christ and the guy didn’t this time (is that sexist? I don’t know, but I have a tendency to like my heroines saved first-sounds like a Monday Musings topic). I liked Naomi. She made some unwise decisions, but she owned up to them and got back on track. And let’s not forget Jake whose heavy presence has been on the entire series. I liked watching him fall in love with Jesus and I was glad that when he got saved the book didn’t just end, but that you got to watch him walk this thing out (plus Matt is in this novel!). This novel to me was the best one and I just really enjoyed it.

Overall, the series was a bit out of my comfort zone, but I’m still very glad that I read it (and if there was a book 4, 5, & 6 I would pick them up tomorrow). They dealt with a lot of serious topics and issues that young people in college confront these days and treated them far better than secular NA novels do. But seriously people, if you’re saved, some of these issues can be avoided by not falling in love with people who don’t agree with the way you live!