Tag Archives: secrets

Bear With Me by Marilyn Barr in the Featured New Book Spotlight


Let’s welcome Marilyn Barr to West of Mars today! She’s got a new book out, Bear with Me, and I’m curious. Are you?

Of course. That’s why you’re here.

Marilyn, what song makes you think of your book?

Strawberry Shifters Book 1: Bear with Me is a tale of a failing marriage between two people who love each other just like “Harmony Hall” by Vampire Weekend. Like in the song they “took a vow in summertime” but after 12 years of struggle “now we find ourselves in late December”. They have let their marriage crumble by not learning to communicate, listening to each other, and allowing the pull of financial success (and modern life) to tear them apart. When Grant gets the job opportunity of a lifetime, he asks his wife, Alison, to move to Strawberry KY for the “perfect time of that great surrender”. She decides to give Grant one last chance to prove he will listen to her and treat her as a partner.

Once in Strawberry, Grant is the workaholic he has always been but this time, Alison is not going to sit idly. The couple tentatively pushes boundaries until a car crash changes Grant forever. The cynical Pharma guy is thrust into a paranormal world which he vows to keep secret from Alison. “A wicked snake inside a place I thought was dignified”, Grant’s new Bergan Pharma job is a front for a paranormal nightmare. How can he promise Alison to be open and fight Sluagh demons from Celtic myth at the same time? “I thought that I was free from all the questioning but every time a problem ends, another one begins…”

What Grant doesn’t know is that Alison has a few secrets of her own. Ones that could make her his greatest ally or greatest weakness. He knows about her sensory processing disorder (which I share, #ownvoices) and finds her fascinating instead of strange. However, he treats her disorder as an excuse to keep her isolated from the world. Alison doesn’t want to push it by telling him her other secret she has had from birth until she can’t take it anymore. “I don’t want to live like this, but I don’t want to die…”

Will a new place, a fresh start, be enough, or will their magical secrets tear them apart? Find out in Strawberry Shifters Book 1: Bear with Me. #Strawberryshifters

Whoa! I. Am. Hooked.

And this song? Queue it up, folks. This is a new-to-me band (and song, obviously) and it’s now part of my various Spotify playlists. Thanks, Marilyn Barr, for expanding my musical horizons.

Ready to hear what the book’s about? Although, wow, that link to the song pretty much said it all, didn’t it? That might be the most in-depth answer ever, in all the years I’ve been running the New Book Spotlight, and that’s over ten years now!

Blue eyes, dimples, and silky brown hair; Grant Luther has all of Alison’s weaknesses.

When he asks for one last chance to save their marriage, she agrees to relocate their family to isolated Strawberry, Kentucky in pursuit of his career dreams. Grant views Alison’s sensory issues as limitations and protects her from outside threats. When he finds his new job includes changing him into a shifter in a war against the soul-sucking Sluagh he vows to keep the changes a secret. What he doesn’t know is Alison has been hiding a magical secret of her own. One that makes her a target of the Sluagh.

Will Alison emerge from Grant’s shadow to protect her family? And can Grant learn that being different can be a strength not a weakness?

Guys, I am blown away by this concept. There’s so much going on here, so much that’s fresh and yet so much that’s familiar, too. I… gotta read this. Totally got to read it.

Get your copy!
Barnes & Noble
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Lots of options, and not one of them is wrong! Chances are if you’d like to help out an independent bookstore, they can order this for you, as well. Just remember to leave a review when you’re done reading. And, as always, if you need help with your review, contact me and I’ll give you some guidance.

Connect with Marilyn Barr!
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Featured New Release: Secrets by Darcia Helle


It feels like forever since Darcia Helle and I met, but in truth, it’s only been a few years. There’s an energy to our friendship, a synergy, and I have trusted Darcia with some of my deepest secrets.

That’s why I’m proud to host her today. Her new book is called Secrets, and … well, read on. See what song makes her think of her book.

Music is sometimes an inspiration for what I write. Other times, it’s not until after I’ve written something that a particular song strikes me as significant to the story. The latter is the case with Secrets. While I’m very much tuned to lyrics, everything about a song has to fit. The tempo, the mood of the music, and the tone of the voice all have to mesh perfectly. I have to hear, feel and see my characters in the song.

The song I most relate to with Secrets is Cold Water by Damien Rice; the version sung with Lisa Hannigan.

This is a video of the two of them singing Cold Water stripped down and live.

Everything about this song is haunting. The mood, for me, is one of both sadness and hope. The lyrics are simple. In fact, there aren’t many words to this song at all. The ability to move someone doesn’t come from a lot of words; it comes from the words we choose. Songs and stories have this in common.
Damien sings the first verse. He opens with:

Cold, cold water surrounds me now…
And all I’ve got is your hand.

The cold water here isn’t literal. I hear it as a man who feels he’s drowning in a metaphoric sense. This is Jeff, Samantha’s husband. He’s clinging to her hand and, without that connection, he’s lost.

Lisa sings the second verse and her opening words are striking to Samantha’s story in Secrets:

Love one’s daughter…
Allow me that.

As a child, Samantha was sexually abused by her father and despised by her mother. In these words, I hear Samantha’s plea for all parents to grant their daughters this one basic gift.

Then she sings:

And I can’t let go
Of your hand.

Samantha’s lifeline is her husband.

This song hits me deep each time I hear it. Damien Rice’s voice can move me to tears. For me, it’s powerful and raw, and speaks volumes with few words.

Did your jaw drop open? Mine did, the first time I read this.

Here’s the official blurb:

Samantha’s monsters aren’t under the bed; they’re the people she calls Mom and Dad.
She makes it out alive, her sanity barely intact.
She creates a new past that fools everyone, including herself.
A life filled with love and security teeters on its base of lies.
When it all comes crumbling down, will Samantha make it out alive?

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