Featured New Book Spotlight: If You Dare by Barbara Meyers

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Let’s welcome Barbara Meyers to West of Mars!

I do owe Barbara an official, public apology. My spam filter got a little aggressive and started dumping all correspondence from my website into spam. Imagine my surprise when I found this sitting there, just days away from being deleted entirely!

But we’re all here now, and life is good. (However, if you don’t hear back from me within a week to 10 days, drop me an email independent of the site. That should go through.)

Now that I’ve taken care of that, let’s get down to business because Barbara’s song for her forthcoming book is one of my all-time favorites. Ready?

Barbara Meyers, what song makes you think of your book?

Evanescence – My Immortal

It’s the first song I thought of when I saw the question, because it makes me think of love and the pain of loss. This song is personal to me because of a tragedy that struck our family and was played at the memorial service. Both the hero and heroine in If You Dare have lost someone important to them, and they find their way through grief together. But still, they never forget the person they loved and lost.

Wow! To be able to hear something so starkly personal and not keep the song only for that memory. That takes strength and an open heart.

The book doesn’t come out until September, but the presale is running, and so here’s what it’s about. Go preorder now and then when it arrives, it’ll be like a gift that magically shows up on your ereader! How can you resist? Your future self will thank you. Here’s why?

Can a man evolve from arrogant ass to Father of the Year?

Doug Winston looks into his newborn daughter’s eyes and vows to become the kind of man and father worthy of her. But he first must navigate the mess he’s made of his life.

Doug’s wife has left him. His baby mama dies and to avenge her death her sister, Josie, wants to prove him unfit and attain custody. The teenage son he raised despises him, the father he worships disowns him, and a child Doug never knew he’d fathered arrives on his doorstep.

As Doug embarks on his quest to live authentically, to make amends where he can and build relationships with his children and with Josie, he discovers that the father for whom he was never good enough is part of a vast criminal network.

Just as Doug and Josie cross the line from hate to love, and Doug has cobbled together the family he always wanted, can he bring the man he once idolized to justice in order to protect them all?

That’s some description, huh? I love a good redemption story.

Like I said, preorder your copy!
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And connect with Barbara Meyers online. You’ll be glad you did.
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As always, remember to leave a review once you’ve read the book. Reviews help in many ways! If you’re unsure your review will pass muster, I’m always willing to help out. Drop me a line, although if you don’t hear back, contact me directly!

And, as always, if you’re an author, I’d love to host you for a day. If you’re not an author but have a friend who is, send ’em on over! The only requirement is that the book be new to my readers. I’ll let you decide what exactly that means.

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Featured New Book: Ashes and Blood by Katie Zaber

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Book cover

Book Cover for book by Katie Zaber, Ashes and Blood

I can not WAIT to tell you guys about this book!

I’ve read it and I love it. So you all now need to go get your own copy and see how right I am.

As I said, this is Katie Zaber’s debut — wait. I didn’t say that. Well, now I am! It’s also the first in a series and I doubt I’m the only one foaming at the mouth for the next book. I use a mechanical keyboard, so this is NOT a good habit I’ve developed, let me tell you… plus the neighbors are a bit worried… okay, more than usual…

Katie, what song makes you think of your book?

Swan Dive by Ani DiFranco
There is nothing like diving into an adventure, especially when you have no clue where your feet will land… or if they will ever hit solid ground again. And after impact, will you have the strength to get up?

The song “Swan Dive” reminds me of Megan, the main character in Ashes and Blood. She is more pragmatic and sticks to her morals. When faced with impossible decisions, she still does what she believes is right, even if the outcome destroys her.

Yeah, I can see this… this is also new to me. I love it when you guys expand my musical horizons. (Really, this is why I love this feature so much. I get to learn stuff!)

Need the cover copy?

“I’ll start at the beginning. Long ago, before roads, before we built structures, before medicine was discovered, before the government was created, before man gained any knowledge, there were The Five. Independent from each other, The Five had a mutual respect for one another. They knew their roles in the world and their duty. They were gods…”

An adventure begins when an otherworldly tree captures the attention of Megan and her friends. The environment morphs around them, transferring them to an exotic planet. Stuck in a rural town still maimed by the plague, a chance encounter with a familiar face gives Megan and her friends some security during their adjustment period.

While settling into new, promising lives, they are attacked and stalked by planet Dalya’s humanoid inhabitants, who focus on Megan. One dark night, after an epic, magical attack, the Fae King’s knight is sent to fetch Megan. When she wakes up a prisoner, she learns that there is much more to this strange world, and it is oddly more like her own than she ever would have expected.

Guys, this doesn’t do the storyline justice! There is SO MUCH to this story and it’s new and it’s fresh and if you can’t tell how high I am on it, well, you’re not reading carefully enough.

Get yours!
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And, of course, connect with Katie! She is lovely and fierce and all sorts of good things. You’ll be glad she’s part of your life. I know I am.
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Remember, once you’ve read this, be sure to leave a review! Reviews help books find new readers, and YES it is okay to leave a thoughtful, negative review if the book doesn’t work for you. But this one will. No worries there. And if you’re struggling with reviews, be sure to reach out. I’m more than glad to help.

Also, be sure to send over your author friends for their turn in the spotlight! Here’s the link to the handy-dandy form.

Featured New Book Spotlight

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Featured New Book Spotlight: Thank You, Garden by Liz Garton Scanlon

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book cover; Thank You, Garden How awesome is the cover for Liz Garton Scanlon’s book, Thank You, Garden? Every time I see it, I just want to break out into a smile. Okay, I don’t just want to. I actually do. This is the happiness we all need right now.

So I’m especially glad Liz Garton Scanlon stopped in today to visit with us and tell us about her new book.

Liz, what song makes you think of your book?

I love Guy Clark’s Homegrown Tomatoes.

I think lots of folks immediately imagine the work involved in gardening but this song is all about the rewards, the pleasure, and the deliciousness that make the digging and tilling and weeding worthwhile!

This song is AMAZING. It’s so perfectly representative of its time and it, too, is making me smile as I’m listening to it.

Can we talk about how Liz focuses on the GOOD parts of gardening? I think we all need that, too. Especially if you’re like me and don’t like digging holes. Once they’re in, I’ll tend to them. But that planting day? I shudder. I do.

Liz, tell us more about Thank You, Garden:

In THANK YOU, GARDEN — written by Liz Garton Scanlon and illustrated by Simone Shin — a community garden unites neighbors in a celebration of all the things that grow there, from flowers and fruits to friendships. This ode to working together for a better world will have young readers wanting to plant gardens of their own!

My daughter’s headed to a college that has a partnership with their local community and supports a community garden. She’s already expressed interest in it (having zero interest in helping me in our own home, of course!), and so I doubly love all this garden love right now. Fresh food! Community! Breaking down barriers!

I am SO there.

Pick up a copy!
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Connect with Liz Garton Scanlon, because she’s pretty darn cool.
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And, as always, the best way to give props to an author, short of buying their books for ALL your friends, is to leave a review. If you’re struggling and need help, reach out to me. Good writing takes both practice and instruction, and I’m glad to help.

Featured New Book Spotlight
Also, if you’re an author or have friends who are, don’t wait to be invited into the spotlight. It’s always open, ready to shine on you. Here’s the handy-dandy form.

book cover; Thank You, Garden

Book Cover, Thank You, Garden

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Featured New Book Spotlight: A Stolen Heart by Kayelle Allen

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It’s an absolute honor to welcome Kayelle Allen back to West of Mars today. She’s one of my favorites in the book world because she’s all class, all the time, and her books… the scope of her imagination blows me away.

Today, actually, is the release for her newest book, A Stolen Heart. It’s part of the Antonello Brothers series, if you’re familiar with that series. (If not, what are you waiting for? Well, okay, finish reading the post and THEN go check it out.)

Kayelle Allen, what song reminds you of your book?

Uprising — that’s the song I played when writing A Stolen Heart. Recorded by Audiomachine, it has Latin lyrics, which is fine — I wouldn’t understand the language of my immortals either. It could just as well be sung in their Naro. The rhythm, the majestic sweep of notes, the latent force behind the song all speaks to my spirit. The hero, Luc, is a general who’s “retired” for this lifetime. Uprising could be his anthem. Listen to it and you’ll hear the troops he’s led to victory, and encouraged during defeat. Uprising his a powerful song for a powerful hero.

Was this song written for a movie soundtrack? I love it! This would indeed be awesome to work to.

Ready for the book description? I sure am.

When he rescues a half-human orphan, a glorified space pirate turned entrepreneur sets in motion a chain of events that threatens to topple the powerful Thieves’ Guild he once led.
Multiple layers of conspiracy unfold, reaching all the way to Luc’s immortal ex–the king. Hidden behind each mystery he solves looms an unseen foe, undoing the good Luc accomplishes. For the sake of this child, Luc must postpone his own freedom and master his desire for revenge or he will violate an ancient vow. Worse, he’ll put the toddler at risk.

At war with his compassion for the vulnerable, loyalty to the king, duty to the Guild, and the bright lure of freedom he’s coveted for centuries, Luc seeks the right path. Will he choose liberty and unparalleled success, or restore the Thieves’ Guild to its former glory while overseeing the child’s training?

A hard choice for any man. For an immortal whose inner monster can destroy on sight? Impossible.

A pirate with a monstrous past can never be trusted with an innocent child. Luc must ensure the child is protected, safe, nowhere near danger. Nowhere near him. Even if this little boy has already stolen his heart…

Okay, I’m hooked. Totally and completely. Are you?

The book’s available TODAY, but only on Kindle.

And I usually write a short intro inviting you to connect with Kayelle Allen, but she’s got that covered, too! Check it!
Kayelle Allen writes space opera with larger than life, unforgettable characters. Come walk in her worlds and meet her misbehaving robots, mythic heroes, immortal gamers, and warriors who purr.

(I love her intro so much!)

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Remember, if you’re an author, here’s the link for your own turn in the spotlight. And if you’re a reader (no “just” or “only” around here; readers are important people!), the best thing you can do for a book is to leave a review. If you need help, holler. Reviews are both an art and utterly simple, but if you’re struggling, reach out and I’m glad to help.

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Featured New Book Spotlight: A King Under Seige by Mercedes Rochelle

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Let’s welcome Mercedes Rochelle to West of Mars! Yay!

I love the cover of her book, don’t you? It’s so perfectly period and yes, it makes me want to pick this up and read it. (I know. I want to read almost everything!)

This is the first in a new series, friends! The series is called The Plantagenet Legacy, and that says a lot right there too, doesn’t it? The cover makes even more sense.

So… Mercedes Rochelle, what song makes you think of your book?

I AM THE COMMON MAN by the Battlefield Band.

What better song for the Peasants’ Revolt in my novel, A KING UNDER SIEGE? In 1381, fed up with their mistreatment and the Poll Tax used to support the government’s reckless spending, the common man rose and terrorized England. Only the quick thinking of 14 year-old King Richard II saved London from destruction, though he was nearly a victim, himself. Here are the lyrics:

I am the Common Man.
I am the brute and the slave.
I am the fool, the despised,
From the cradle to the grave.
I am the hewer of coal.
I am the tiller of soil.
I am serf of the seas,
Born to bear and to toil.
I am the builder of halls.
I am the dweller of slums.
I am the filth and the scourge
When winter’s depression comes.
I am the fighter of wars.
I am the killer of men,
Not for a day or an age,
But again and again and again.
I am the Common Man,
But, Masters of mine, take heed,
For you have put into my head
Oh! Many a wicked deed.

If you’d like to listen, it begins at the 36:48, so use that fast forward button first and then go back and listen to the whole thing.

I’m intrigued. Are you? I hope so!

How about the cover copy, so you know exactly what the plot is?

Richard II found himself under siege not once, but twice in his minority. Crowned king at age ten, he was only fourteen when the Peasants’ Revolt terrorized London. But he proved himself every bit the Plantagenet successor, facing Wat Tyler and the rebels when all seemed lost. Alas, his triumph was short-lived, and for the next ten years he struggled to assert himself against his uncles and increasingly hostile nobles. Just like in the days of his great-grandfather Edward II, vengeful magnates strove to separate him from his friends and advisors, and even threatened to depose him if he refused to do their bidding. The Lords Appellant, as they came to be known, purged the royal household with the help of the Merciless Parliament. They murdered his closest allies, leaving the King alone and defenseless. He would never forget his humiliation at the hands of his subjects. Richard’s inability to protect his adherents would haunt him for the rest of his life, and he vowed that next time, retribution would be his.

I have so much respect for historical authors, I can’t tell you. The depths of their knowledge, the hours spent researching, the details they have to get right… My hat’s off to you, Mercedes and all of you who put in the time and work to make historical writing such an amazing thing.

Yeah… I totally am adding this to my wish list. Are you? Or are you just ready to grab a copy? Amazon only, I’m afraid.
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Connect with Mercedes Rochelle, too! She’d love to get to know you.
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Remember, the best way to say thanks to an author is to share his/her/their book with your friends and reading circle. The second best way is to write an online review. If you’re struggling with the latter, I’m glad to help. Just drop me a note and we’ll work it out.

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Featured New Book Spotlight: The Hunter: Tales of Pern Coen by Hannah Carey

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Let’s welcome my friend Hannah Carey to West of Mars!

I have read The Hunter, and I think you guys will really like it. So I’m SUPER glad she stopped in today to tell us about it!

Hannah, what song makes you think of your book?

Karliene — The Wolf and the Moon – Queen of Camelot

This song is a bit off the beaten path but the lyrics feel like they fit for the two main characters of “The Hunter”; Rhiannon and Conor. The wounded wolf perfectly describes Conor, especially at the start of the story. Conor, who is from the Wolf Clan, has had his whole life destroyed due to war and is struggling with the loss of his family and his home. Rhiannon comes into Conor’s life unexpectedly. As they both begin to confront the blows that they’ve been dealt, a relationship blossoms between them and they begin to help one another heal.

Yep, this is a totally new artist to me! Cool! The song is haunting and evocative. Check it out. I can see it fitting with The Hunter.

Hannah, what’s the official book description?

Confronted with the truth of her past and betrayed by her uncle, she is forced into the clutches of a vengeful outlaw. For Duchess Rhiannon of Solis, her summer stay at Vara Palace is her first taste of freedom. With her uncle, Emperor Stelios of Kelnore, occupied with his war on the island of Pern Coen, Rhiannon is able to live her life away from his hostile and manipulative influence. But her freedom is destined to end with an arranged marriage to her uncle’s steward awaiting her in the empire’s capitol city. Before Rhiannon can resign herself to her fate, she is confronted by a stranger carrying information linking her to the island across the channel. Rhiannon must deal with the stranger’s unnerving allegations and contend with her uncle’s treachery as she finds herself in the hands of Pern Coen’s most ruthless outlaw. A man the people of the island call “The Hunter”.

Ooohhhh…. guys… enemies to lovers?

Grab a copy! It’s unfortunately Amazon only, but your local indie bookstore should be able to order it anyway. I think? I don’t know. Give it a try and let me know!

Also, connect with Hannah Carey. She’s awesome, so you’ll be glad you did.
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Before you go, let me remind you that leaving a few words of review is the second best way to show support for an author. (The first is to share the book with all your friends and family.) If you need help, I’m glad to help you with your review writing skills. Drop me a line.

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Comments Matter

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My daughter is a high school senior.

Maybe you’ve seen the comments on social media about how these kids are getting hosed. They are. I, as a parent, am. After all, this is my youngest, my baby. I don’t get the milestone closure of her graduation ceremony that will begin my transition summer into being an empty nester. I may not even get the transition summer.

But this isn’t is post to mourn these losses, although they are real and they are significant and I encourage anyone who’s feeling it to, yes, grieve and mourn. Us, our kids, our families… it’s a true loss.

Nope.

This post is about something bigger, deeper. It’s about what my daughter’s high school class has done: they’re submitting pictures of themselves along with their post-graduation plans. It’s a substitute for the traditional May 1 college shirt reveal day. I love it.

But as I’m looking at it, I’m realizing it’s so much more.

It’s their way of signing each other’s yearbooks. It’s their graduation program, where these plans are printed (aren’t they? The more I think, the more I think maybe they’re not. But I know they are in the band concert program!).

But let’s focus on the signing each other’s yearbooks aspect. There are a lot of “I love you!” and “Good luck in the next four!” comments, but there are also a number that gave me pause. The young man who announced his plan is to be a career firefighter, and someone left a comment that said along the lines of, “I remember you talking about this when we were young. Glad to see you doing it.”

That touched me.

That one comment told a story. Of a friendship that drifted apart, but that there’s still a tie, a connection. That the young firefighter never wavered in his commitment to reach this goal — and in a district like ours, one of the top in the country, that could not have been an easy goal to keep.

I felt privileged to see these comments.

They may not feel like much now, but one day, these kids will get their yearbooks. Almost half of their senior year won’t be in there: it all shut down after the high school musical. And they won’t be given a chance to write platitudes and even things of meaning in them. And one day, they’ll look back at this Instagram they collaborated on and that’s where it’ll be. Archived. Waiting.

Comments matter. Maybe not today, but down the road, they will matter.

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Says The Editor: Something Sounded

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Graphic of a crossed sword and a pencilEver been reading along, happy as anything, and suddenly A knock sounded at the door?

Ugh. I can’t tell you how badly I hate that phrase.

First, it’s not even a word, sounded. Not really. Sure, if you go over to Webster’s and search for it, you’ll be taken over to the word sound, which includes it as a form under its verb forms. But notice something? There are no examples of it in use. This is because while they recognize that people use it, all the examples are problematic. There’s no good way to showcase this word, sounded. Maybe She sounded scared — but that’s an entirely different use of the word, isn’t it?

Here are some to look at. The first one is the perfect example of today’s rant. The others are legit uses of the word.

And here’s why I hate it so badly. The knock sounded at the door is passive as anything. Like… super-duper passive.

Because knocks don’t just happen. In the example I linked to, alarms won’t just magically be sounded. You’re not just sitting there and bam, a knock appears out of the blue or an alarm magically goes off. Oh, maybe that’s how it sounds since you’re on the other side of the door and all you hear is the knock. But something, someONE makes that knock happen. SomeONE sets that alarm. It’s an active, planned action, not a passive one. In order for your character to hear that sound, a series of events had to take place. That’s all action. It may happen off the page, but it still happens.

And how many of you have been taught to use the active voice, not passive, when writing?

Yeah. Do that here.

No more knocks, explosions, voices sounded. Take the time. Write in active voice.

Your mastery of craft will thank you.

Remember, I’m always taking new clients. First-time authors, please have gone though a critique group or partner before a round of beta reads. Learn as much as you can about your craft; this lets your editing budget stretch further and benefit you more deeply.

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Featured New Book Spotlight: Alpha Revealed by Brenda Sparks

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Brenda Sparks is here to visit us!

I’ve known Brenda for years now, via Triberr, which helps us share our posts with the rest of the Twitterverse, but I think this is the first time she’s stopped in.

So let’s roll out the red carpet!

Brenda Sparks, what song makes you think of your book?

Secret” by Maroon 5.
All of us have our secrets, and some secrets are easier to keep than others. Ever notice how secrets stomp around your brain, over and over, pounding hard footprints into your gray matter until at last, you share them with someone you trust. I began to wonder if vampires are any better at keeping secrets than humans. Turns out, not so much.

I gave the lead characters in Alpha Revealed plenty of juicy secrets, and they just couldn’t keep them. So I guess vampires, like humans, have only so many secrets they don’t share…and maybe that’s for the best.

Ooh, now, I want to make sure you know this is the fifth book in a series, and so as enticing at this commentary is (and holy cow, am I curious!), you might want to check and make sure you can drop into the middle. Or, of course, start with the first! What else are you doing while social distancing or sheltering in place? (Okay, you could be like me and working, and if so, I hope your job is the joy that mine is.)

This brings us to the next best part of these spotlights. What’s the book about?

Natasha Peterhoff is the luckiest vampire in the world. Having pined over the sexy, but aloof Vladimir Starikovich for centuries, her feelings are reciprocated when the pair are drawn to each other the night of her brother’s wedding. Unfortunately, the stark light of day dawns, and the couple parts ways.

Back in Siberia, Vlad is overcome by doubts. Not only will Natasha’s brother kill him, but his own past is reason enough to keep her away. He vows to do everything in his power to keep her safe, even it if means never seeing her again.

With so many reasons to stay apart, will the ties that bind be strong enough to pull them together?

Ooh, a couple tropes at play in here… how can you resist?

Get your copy!
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And after all these choices, I’m going to say it! If you’d like a print copy, call up your favorite indie bookstore and see if they can get it for you. They’d love the business, the money you spend stays in their local community, and it’s helping keep lights on and doors metaphorically open.

Connect with Brenda Sparks, too!
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Twitter Handle: @brenda_sparks
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Be sure to leave a review once you’ve read the book. Reviews help! If you need help with one, drop me a line and I’ll strive to give you pointers you can use forever and ever.

And if you’re an author, feel free to fill out the Spotlight form, yourself. If you’re not an author, feel free to ask your favorite author to stop in. A book only has to be new to the majority of my audience to be eligible…

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Featured New Book Spotlight: Rock House Grill by DV Stone

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Book Cover for book titled Rock House GrillToday’s guest, DV Stone, is especially comfortable in the spotlight. I mean, check out that book cover; it says it all, no?

Except… it doesn’t. Totally doesn’t. Not even close. I mean, do YOU know what song makes DV think of her book? I don’t. So I’m glad she provided the answer!

Hi, Susan.
What a fun question, especially with a book titled Rock House Grill. You know there’s going to be music. Each character has their own special song. Aden House, one of the main characters, is Simple Man. Every line of Lynard Skynard’s beautiful words touch me the author, and thus touches Aden.
The line
“Boy, don’t you worry, you’ll find yourself
Follow your heart and nothing else”
is something Aden and all of us need to do at times. Follow our hearts.
Aden’s path to becoming that “simple man” is a long, pothole-filled one. But with the help of family and friends, he should find his way.

Awesome song. Truly a classic. (And funny how many people think it’s a Shinedown song!)

I love that this song focuses on the hero’s journey, as well. Who said romance was only about the heroine’s journey?

So… what’s the whole thing about? Hero and heroine, together? Because, after all, that’s the fun of romance.

One man’s choices—One woman’s impact

Aden House, successful but driven chef and TV personality, refuses to slow down. His life implodes one night, damaging him both physically and emotionally. He’s rescued by a woman he thinks of as his angel.

Shay McDowell has rebuilt her life after her divorce. She juggles volunteer EMT duties and her job, while dreaming of becoming a chef. She finds her way to Rock House Grill and back into the life of the man she helped save.

Can love be the ingredient needed to survive the many obstacles they face?

I’m curious where the music comes in, since these people are all about cooking. Why is the place the Rock House Grill, and why does it get the title?

We need to read it, gang! C’mon! Pick up your copy and find out.
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Want a print copy? You can order that through your favorite independent bookstore, as well.

And be sure to connect with DV Stone! We all need a little human contact, no matter what’s happening outside (or inside) our homes!
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Remember! Leaving a review helps other readers find a good book — and that thoughtfully negative reviews are okay things, too. If you need help writing a review, reach out. I’m here. And if you’re an author with a book to tell us about, let’s hear from you, too!

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Featured New Book Spotlight: Sweet Dreams at the Palace Hotel by Stella Jayne Phillips

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Book Cover for Sweet Dreams at the Palace Hotel It’s time for Stella Jayne Phillips to step into the Spotlight! Let’s give her the kind of warm West of Mars welcome authors are coming to expect once again.

And then let’s give her another because hey! This is Stella’s debut novel! (And if it’s not, it’s the only one she’s got for sale at Amazon.)

Stella Jayne Phillips (I hate that SEO makes me use your full name; it seems so stilted! But that’s what’s up. It’s all about SEO.), what song makes you think of your book?

Deep Purple by Nino Tempo and April Stevens pulls me into Sweet Dreams at The Palace Hotel and the town of Creekide because the moments when the sky is falling to purple, before true darkness, create infinite possibilities and a sense of magic. In the time between day and night, the appearance of Victoria, benevolent resident ghost of The Palace, feels almost normal and certainly believable.

I was SO not prepared for the age of this song! Or how poppy it is! I’d been expecting something dreamy, especially the way Stella describes the sky and the sense of magic… Wow! This is a really cool juxtaposition.

So. What’s the book about?

Nikki Benton crossed the threshold of the historic Palace Hotel, leaving her shattered dreams behind. Determined to follow in the footsteps of the Hotel’s original owner, she puts her heart into creating an intimate lodging experience while becoming an integral part of of the community. So what if she takes lessons on embracing life? And does it truly matter that her teacher, Mrs. Victoria Wyatt, is the hotel’s live-in ghost?

This sounds like fun! And something about the ghost makes me think of the Aunt Dimity books, which I adore as well, although I’m willing to bet that the similarity ends at the ghost.

Pick up your copy!
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Kobo

As always, if you’d like a print copy, feel free to get in touch with your favorite indie bookstore and ask them to order it. They could use the business, more of the money you spend stays in the local community, and we don’t have to get angry at the store owners who act in less-than-heroic ways in order to protect their billions.

And remember: if you can leave a review online somewhere, it’ll help this book gain traction and visibility, and that’s always a good thing. If you need help writing reviews, contact me.

Connect with Stella Jayne Phillips!
Instagram
Twitter
Facebook

And, of course, if you’re an author and would like to feature YOUR book, I’d love to host you. Seriously. This is fun for me and I love doing it. I love reading what your books are about, I love listening to your songs, and I love chatting with you guys. I’m here to help you, so take advantage!

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Featured New Book Spotlight: For This Knight Only by Barbara Bettis

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Book Cover for For This Knight Only Today, it’s Barbara Bettis’ turn to step into the spotlight! Let’s hear it for Barbara!

This one looks like it’s for all of us who love a good medieval tale! And yep, I’m totally in that category as well.

So, Barbara Bettis, what song makes you think of your book?

Leave the Light On,” by David Cook. I listened to the song as background while writing my book and it produced a wonderful feeling of longing and hope that I can’t help but associate with Roark’s heartfelt desire for his own land and his hope that Alyss will at last accept him. It doesn’t capture the humor of Roark’s mistakes in wooing her or Alyss’s mistakes in trying to avoid him before they recognize they belong together. Still the song has the same feeling of triumph in the end and I finish it and the book with a huge sigh–and smile.

David Cook’s a favorite around here. Get me at the right time, and “Heartbeat” can level me.

If you haven’t checked out David Cook’s body of work, fire up that Spotify, shut out all the distractions, and get lost for awhile.

And now that we’ve had wooing and avoidance, what else is the book about?

He’ll do anything for land, even marry her; she’ll do anything for her people, except marry him. If only either had a choice. It’s a marriage only love can save.

Sir Roark will do anything to gain land, even beguile an unwilling lady into marriage. He knows she’s much better off with a man to take control of her besieged castle, to say nothing of her desirable person. But it isn’t long before he discovers that, although her eyes sparkle like sunlight on sea waves, her stubbornness alone could have defeated Saladin.

Lady Alyss is determined to hold her family’s castle, protect her people, and preserve her freedom— until her brother’s dying wish binds her to a stranger. Still, she’ll allow no rugged, over-confident, appealing knight to usurp her authority, even if she must wed him. Especially since he thinks a lady’s duties begin and end with directing servants. Alyss has a few surprises for her new all-too-tempting lord.

But when a common enemy threatens everything, Roark and Alyss face a startling revelation. Without love, neither land nor freedom matters.

Oh, this sounds like fun! I love an upstart heroine!

Get your copy at these retailers:
AMAZON

B & N

And as always, if you’d like a physical copy, feel free to call your favorite independent bookstore! They’d be glad to help you, and the majority of the money you’re spending stays in the store’s community (be it yours or a friend’s, in case you don’t have a good local indie). Plus, right now, you’re helping them stay afloat.

And, as always, if you read the book, consider leaving a review! If you’re not sure how, reach out and I’m glad to help, but a good model to start with is “I liked this because…” Or “I did not like this part because…”

Connect with Barbara Bettis, too! Always fun, always free, always rewarding.
Website/Blog/Newsletter
Facebook
BookBub
Goodreads

I’ll leave with my usual standard note: if you’re an author and want a turn in the spotlight, fill out the form! If you’re a reader and would like to see your favorite author featured, that’s fine! The link will work for them, too.

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Featured New Book Spotlight: The Wicked Sister by Virginia Barlow

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Today, we get to welcome Virginia Barlow to West of Mars!

Virginia, what song makes you think of your book, The Wicked Sister?

Unchained Melody makes me think of my book The Wicked Sister. My heroine is Anastasia. How she longs for Val and the feel of his touch. She wants only him but time is running out. He loses her and searches desperately for her afraid he has lost her forever. Their hunger for each other pulls them through.

Oh, this song is a balm right now, isn’t it? Crank it, guys. Get lost in it.

Great songs never age. They merely improve, and this is one of them.

If that’s not enough of an enticement to pick the book up, here’s the official description:

With her stepfather’s sudden death, Lady Anastasia Covington goes from living a privileged lifestyle to selling vegetables in the village marketplace in the blink of an eye. Alone and at the mercy of her nefarious stepsister, she yearns for love and acceptance. Disguised as a simple soldier, Prince Percival catches a dark-haired,emerald-eyed beauty in his arms. He is bewitched. The more he sees her, the more intrigued he is by contradictions. Forced to keep his identity a secret, he must somehow convince Lady Anastasia he is the right man for her. But time is running out. Lady Anastasia’s mother is determined to find a proper suitor and see her wed-and someone wants her dead.

Ooh, shades of Cinderella there — for BOTH characters! That’s a fresh twist… so you fairy tale lovers, be sure to snap this one up. And remember, as always, leave a review. (If you’re struggling with a review, always reach out. It’s a cheap expense that hopefully will not only help the current review but any future ones you may write, as well.)

Grab your copy here:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Kobo

And, of course, if you’d like it in print, your favorite indie bookstore can help you with that, as well. Don’t have a favorite? This is the perfect time to discover one!

Connect with Virginia Barlow ’cause authors are cool people.
Website
Facebook
Twitter
Instagram
Goodreads

And, of course, if you’re an author reading this, or you know an author and want to see their book spotlighted, send them on over! I’ll be posting daily as long as we’re asked to remain home, and then will return to our weekly format.

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Featured New Book Spotlight: Wild Rose Pass by Karen Hulene Bartell

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book cover for book entitled Wild Rose PassWoot! I haven’t met Karen Hulene Bartell yet but her middle name is one letter off mine, and that does it. Friends for life.

Yes, I really am this simple. It’s part of my charm.

We’re here to talk about Karen’s new book, though, and from the look of this cover? Western.

I love Westerns. Yes indeedy.

Let’s get to it, and hopefully I can stop drooling long enough to get this post together. Karen, what song makes you think of your book?

Westward Ho the Wagons (1956) The title tune and movie are all about moving to the Frontier, facing the unknown, conquering your fears, and being rewarded for your efforts. It was another time – another place – yet it was America in the 1880s.

I love this choice! What fun!

Here’s the book description. Ready? I sure am.

Cadence McShane, free-spirited nonconformist, yearns to escape the rigid code, clothes, and sidesaddles of 1880s military society in Fort Davis, Texas. She finds the daring new lieutenant exhilarating, but as the daughter of the commanding officer, she is expected to keep with family tradition and marry West Point graduate James West.

Orphaned, Comanche-raised, and always the outsider looking in, Ben Williams yearns to belong. Cadence embodies everything he craves, but as a battlefield-commissioned officer with the Buffalo Soldiers instead of a West Point graduate, he is neither accepted into military society nor considered marriageable.

Can two people of different worlds, drawn together by conflicting needs, flout society and forge a life together on the frontier?

SO much here to love… Get your copy!

Amazon eBook
Amazon Paperback
Barnes & Noble NOOK Book
Barnes & Noble Paperback

As always, if you have an independent bookstore you love to support, see if they can order this for you. And, of course, remember to leave a review!

Connect with Karen Hulene Bartell! It’s always fun, and now comes with automatic social distancing.
Facebook
Twitter
Instagram
Goodreads
Website
Email
Amazon Author Page
Instagram

Remember: if you’re an author, I’d love to have you stop in and talk about your own book!

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Featured New Book Spotlight: Kat Out of the Bag by Wendy Kendall

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Let’s welcome Wendy Kendall to West of Mars! She’s got not only her debut to feature, but also the first in a series! Double whammy of goodness and excellent places to start.

Seriously, you guys, I’ve had such a great response to this first call for spotlight features, and I’m glad to keep this going as long as you guys are submitting! Spread the word!

I like this cover. It makes me smile each time I see it, so let’s hear about the book. Wendy Kendall, what song makes you think of your book?

What Happens in a Small Town” makes me think of my mystery Kat Out of the Bag. International purse designer Katherine Watson moves from Beverly Hills, CA condo to Bayside, WA farmhouse. Murder at her Purse Museum gala opening reveals a local has a deadly grudge. From designer bags to body bags, Kat Watson becomes amateur sleuth amid romantic sparks and local entanglements. She finds that everyone in her small town knows everyone’s business. Now she’s in a race to find the killer before she becomes the next knock off.

Ooh, this song is PERFECT! I like it!

Ready for the book description? I sure am!

When celebrated international purse designer, Katherine Watson, hosts a gala for her Purse-onality Museum, she never expected the next day’s headline to read: ‘Murder at the Gala Premiere.’ But after a dead body is found during the event, that’s exactly what happened.

Working to solve the murder, Katherine matches wits with local cop Jason Holmes and his K-9 partner, Hobbs. Although Holmes and Watson disagree often, they discover an undeniable attraction building between them. But they’ll have to put their feelings on hold and focus on solving the murder, before Katherine becomes the killer’s next knock off.

This should also come with a doggo alert! Holmes and Hobbs… I like it. It’s got a ring.

Pick up your copy! NOTE THAT THIS IS A PRESALE. The book won’t arrive on your device or your doorstep until April 13.
Amazon
Barnes and Noble

I’m sure your favorite local independent bookstore would love to order and ship you a print copy, too. Indies could use a lot of help during this time, so don’t be shy (especially if your only other option is that big place that’s decided books aren’t important enough to ship promptly). Get to know a new bookseller — and if you don’t have a local indie, adopt one from farther out! They’d be glad to add you to the family.

Connect with Wendy Kendall, too, while you’re having fun.
My Website
Katherine Watson blog “APassionForPurses”
Follow me on FB
Follow me on Twitter
Follow me on Instagram

And once you get your copy, be sure to leave a review! Reviews help readers find good books, so help a fellow reader out, why don’tcha? And never ever feel bad about leaving a constructive (that’s the key word: constructive) one or two-star review if a book doesn’t do it for you. Need help? Drop me a line.

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Featured New Book Spotlight: A Matter of Manners by Terry Graham

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Book Cover for A Matter of Manners

Been seeing this cover a lot? I sure have been! So I’m beyond thrilled to host Terry Graham today and find out more about her new book, A Matter of Manners. What’s up with this book that’s seemingly everywhere?

Terry, what song makes you think of your book?

Use Somebody by Kings of Leon because I can imagine Jeremy singing the lyrics

Ooh, I love this song! As soon as it started to play, I realized it’s not on my Spotify playlists, and, well… THAT’s been fixed. Thanks, Terry!

So… what’s the book about? Why would Jeremy be singing these lyrics?

Jeremy Wyles believes himself sterile. He’s also a sadist and fears no lady would agree to marry him. When a woman shows up on his doorstep, pregnant and claiming to be his wife, he’ll do whatever is necessary to ensure his dukedom has an heir. A loveless marriage in name only seems the perfect solution, but his disobedient duchess stirs his desire for discipline…and something more.

Irish rebel Kathleen “Katy” Brennan only seeks recompense from the husband whose cousin married her by proxy and left her with child. The bargain he offers is tempting. He’ll claim her baby as his own, and she can become the grand lady she’s always imagined. There’s just one condition she’s not sure she can live with. The delicious-looking duke refuses to touch her…ever.

Can Jeremy put aside the wicked urges that rule his life, or will Katy’s rebellious spirit destroy his tenuous control?

WOW. That’s a hell of a premise, no?

I’m not sure this one is for me, given the elements of sadism, but if you’re carrying less baggage than I am, be sure to pick this up! I love every other element of the plot. Sigh.

THIS is why reviews are helpful, folks. You can leave a review that talks about the level of sadism and let those of us with issues decide if we can handle it. So remember to take a few minutes and write up your thoughts on a book. Even if it’s “I liked this because…” — that counts! And it’s important! Not every review has to inform the potential reader of what they are going to encounter. It’s just nice when they do.

Also, make note: this is the first in a new series! Get in on the ground floor; your buying a copy now helps Terry and her publisher decide if the series is worth continuing.

Grab your copy here:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Kobo
Googleplay

And, of course, your local independent store would LOVE your business, too!

Connect with Terry Graham!
My website is www.terrygrahamromance.com and I can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others as TGrahamWriter

As always, if you need help writing a review, drop me a line! It’s a nominal charge for my time, but I’ll make it worth your five bucks. Promise!

And if you’re an author or friends with an author, here’s the link to the Featured New Book Spotlight submissions page — the more submissions I get, the more books you get to learn about!

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Featured New Book Spotlight: Healing Hearts by CB Clark

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Let’s welcome CB Clark today! She’s here with her sixth book, Healing Hearts and I like the title. We could use a bit of healing right now, huh?

CB, what song makes you think of your book?

God’s Country by Blake Shelton

That was all she had to say, but I suspect the song says it all. I’m listening to it as I write this post, but I’ve got a mechanical keyboard and it’s LOUD. The keyboard. The song is fierce and atmospheric, and I get it.

So what’s the book about?

Reeling from loss and heartbreak, Stella King is desperate to escape painful memories. The position of nanny on an isolated ranch in British Columbia’s rugged Chilcotin Plateau seems the answer to her prayers.

Cattle rancher, Dawson Wheeler, has worked hard to overcome grief and build a predictable world for his young daughter. The last thing he needs is the all-too-attractive Stella disrupting the smooth running of his ranch, especially now that disturbing incidents are happening on his property.

Defending his land against those who want to gut it will be a challenge, but the biggest threat of all may be to his heart.

Yeah, the song fits.

Grab your copy:
Barnes and Noble
Amazon
iTunes
Kobo
Google Books
Or, if you’re there, Walmart.com — but I couldn’t search for it, so if you find a link, let me know and I’ll update!

Remember, once you’ve read it, it’s always kind if you leave a review! Need help? Contact me. It’s a minimal cost for my time, but I’ll help you strengthen a review and give you tactics to help write good reviews, even good negative ones!

Connect with CB Clark:
Instagram
Blog
Twitter
Facebook
Goodreads
Amazon Author Page

And now, your usual disclaimers: Authors, here’s the link so you can submit your own book to be featured; remember, it only has to be new to my readers to qualify!

And again, remember to leave a review!

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Featured New Book: Trap Play by B Davis Kroon

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Hello, B Davis Kroon! Nice to have you here at West of Mars. I love your attitude, because when I saw your answer to the famous one question, I burst out laughing. Scared a cat, too.

Rather than keep teasing you guys, let’s get right to that question. What song makes you think of your new book, Trap Play?

I’d like to say my college football fight song…or J.S. Bach’s Art of Fugue…but it’s THE THEME SONG FROM JAWS

Come ON. That’s the greatest. Want to know why? Here’s the cover copy:

After one concussion too many, Ben Leit is done as the NFL’s golden boy quarterback. Then his father, who was about to expose a bombshell sports scandal, is murdered. While Ben sets himself up as the killer’s next target, Mimi Fitzroy, CIO for Rex Sports International, panics as she discovers somebody was using Rex to stalk the recently murdered Frank Leit. Worse, she finds thousands of stolen emails that prove Rex is breaking a ton of federal laws. Ben and Mimi find a connection they didn’t want and weren’t looking for. As for whether they can trap the killer before the killer takes them out? The three of them are headed for an explosive showdown in Seattle…and not everyone will walk away.

Yeah, I get that Jaws theme song now… that slow build-up of tension…

Get your copy! This one seems to be Amazon exclusive, but if you find links that aren’t, send them and I’ll update.

Connect with B Davis Kroon, too. Authors love to chat; you guys provide our virtual water coolers.
Website
Facebook
Twitter
email

And remember: if you’re an author, feel free to fill out the handy-dandy form and I’ll post your answers in turn. If you’re not an author but have a friend who is, send ’em over!

Don’t forget to leave a review once you’ve finished it! Reviews help authors in a number of different ways and even a few words are helpful. If you can’t be kind, be constructive! And if you need help, let me know.

 

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Featured New Book Spotlight: Guilty Knowledge by Linda Griffin

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Yes, friends, we’re back again today! I will keep posting Spotlights so long as you guys give me books to spotlight! Spread the word, tell your friends, and check in every day to find a new great read.

Today, we welcome Linda Griffin to West of Mars! (cue the fanfare. I like fanfares.)

Her latest book is titled Guilty Knowledge, and it’s been out barely two weeks now, so that means you can possibly be among the first to discover this gem!

Ready to learn about it? I sure am; that cover caught my eye with the purples in it. (I like purple.)

Linda, what song makes you think of your book?

She is Still a Mystery” by Lovin’ Spoonful. Sariah is an enigma to Jesse, even as he’s more and more attracted to her. She has secrets and is in no hurry to reveal them. She knows a crucial detail about a brutal murder, one that was never released to the public, but how does she know? Is she really psychic? Is there a leak in the department? Or does she have guilty knowledge of the crime? And why won’t she let him into her apartment?

(I like the Lovin’ Spoonful. C’mon. You do, too.)

Also, I LIKE these questions! These are the sorts of questions that make me pick up a book? You?

Well, before we do, let’s learn more about it!

She’s a witness. She may be lying. And he’s falling in love with her.

Detectives Jesse Aaron and Camille Farris have no leads in the murder of Rosa Logan when pretty blonde Sariah Brennan claims to have seen the killer—in a vision. Unfortunately the man she identifies is dead—or is he?

Sariah is an unsophisticated small town girl, but her background and her motives are mysterious. Jesse is increasingly convinced that she has guilty knowledge of the crime, even as he finds himself more and more attracted to her. Can he and Camille unravel the web of secrets before the killer strikes again?

This feels like a series! If it is, it’s the first, so be sure to check it out and, if you like it, leave a review. That’s a good way for authors to know if they should continue investing time and energy into this set of characters.

Get your copy here:
Amazon
B&N
Indiebound
Kobo
Scribd

And, of course, you can call your local indie bookstore and ask them to order and ship it to you. I’ve always been a fan of indie stores, now more than ever.

Connect with Linda Griffin as you practice real-life social distancing!
Website
Facebook
Twitter
GoodReads

And remember: if you’re an author and would like to see your book featured, here’s the handy dandy link to the form.

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Featured New Book Spotlight: Tender Misdemeanors by Alana Lorens

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book cover

WOOT! We are BACK, featuring books that are (hopefully) new to you guys. Check ’em out, pick ’em up, leave even a brief review when you’re done. Yes, even negative reviews are helpful reviews, so long as your negativity is constructive.

 

Today, we’ve got our friend Alana Lorens here with her brand-new, released-yesterday book, Tender Misdemeanors. Let’s get to it, shall we?

Alana, what song makes you think of your book?

ROCKY MOUNTAIN HIGH by John Denver. Both the hero and heroine in this book love their Montana locale, the old forests, the beauty of the mountain ranges, and they want to protect it–they just come at it from very different angles. One of the trips I did research on for this book, friends and I rode ski lifts in summer to the top of the Rockies outside Whitefish, MT– 70 degrees below, snow on top!!!

I am a sucker for anything Montana… although I have to admit that “Rocky Mountain High” makes me think of West Virginia… and this is why I ask this question! Songs have such a powerful hold over us.

Here’s the book description:

Caryn Orlane has law enforcement in her blood; her father was a cop, and his father, too. She’s a federal agent in northwest Montana, protecting the old forests and keeping the peace.

Levi Bradshaw also believes in protecting the forests, but has a very different MO. He’s the leader of a group of eco-warriors, determined to save the trees of the Bitterroot by legal—and illegal—means.

When they meet in the woods at gunpoint, their encounter ignites a spark of interest, despite operating on opposite sides of the law. When their worlds turn on them, they only grow closer. If they don’t work together, can either survive?

Mmm. I love the name Levi. I’ll read this book for that alone!

You, too? Ready to get a copy? Here are your buy links:
Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Other

And be sure to connect with Alana Lorens! She’s a gem of a human, and we can all use some of those right now.
Website
Facebook
Goodreads
Amazon Author Page
Email
Bookbub

Got a book of your own? I’d love to feature it! Here’s the quickest route to the submission page.
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