First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts an Anthology by The Insecure Writer’s Group

My Review of the Anthology:

First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts

First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts is an anthology of love stories put together by The Insecure Writer’s Support Group and published by Dancing Lemur Press, LLC. As a Book Reviewer, I received a free copy of First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts, and this is my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, nor any review.

There are ten love stories by ten different writers in this anthology. The writers from this anthology range from this being their first published story to those who have one book published to some who have multiple books published. The contributing authors are: Linda Budzinski, Melissa Maygrove, Katie Klein, Templeton Moss, Sammi Spizziri, Sylvia Ney, Michael Di Gesu, Kim Elliott, Denise Covey, and S. E. White.

The stories range from a variety of genres. They also range from characters in their twenties to their fifties to post-retirement. Each of these stories is unique and each is extremely well written. Each drew me into the story from the start and held my attention throughout. Each story and several characters made a strong impression upon me, from the man with the inability to clearly recall his first love to the young orphan who married a man an entire town hated.

I highly recommend First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts to anyone who truly enjoys and craves good romance stories with a unique plot, endearing characters, or both. I don’t reread novels, no matter how much I love them, because I don’t have time, as I’m always reading new books because there are so many great new books to explore and, of course, in my case, to review. However, because these are short stories—I can read one in half an hour—I look forward to reading the stories in First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts again and again. And don’t ask me which of the ten stories I liked best, because I honestly couldn’t pick just one favorite from the bunch. I truly enjoyed them all because of their high writing quality and unique story lines.

Interview of Ten Authors Pt. 2

Welcome back, if you read yesterday’s post. If not, you might want to, as this is the second part of yesterday’s post — my interview with the second half of the ten authors who wrote short stories for the anthology First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts.

Today we start with Author Sylvia Ney:

Q: Your website lists “First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts” as a YA/NA book. What is the difference between YA and NA?

A: YA means young adult, and NA means new adult. YA is usually aimed at ages 12-18, and NA at ages 18-25. However, there is a lot of cross readerships between the two, and older adults are known to enjoy some of each as well… such as with the Harry Potter and Twilight series.

Q: You write stories of many different genres. Does that make it more difficult to gain a readership following?

A: Yes, and no. Some people are only interested in a specific genre and will only follow authors who write in that single genre. However, there is an increasingly eclectic audience that enjoys a variety. I’ve noticed those fans are more concerned with voice than genre. Once they find an author they like, they will watch for any release by them.

Q: Where can readers learn more about you and read more of your writing?

A: My website at: https://www.sylviacney.com/about-sylvia and social media is a great place to learn more. All of my fiction pieces are available through Amazon, and a lot of my nonfiction can be found for free online via my website.

Michael Di Gesu:

Q: It’s unusual for men to write romance stories, although Nicholas Sparks definitely proved that men are quite capable of doing so, as does your story, “Oliver’s Girl,” which is a very touching, sweet romance story. How was “Oliver’s Girl” chosen to be included in the “First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts” anthology?

A: I believe “Oliver’s Girl” was chosen because it had the requirements necessary for this particular anthology. The judges were looking for a “sweet” romance about first love, and I believe my story hit on both these requirements. The story is also unusual because it spans six decades and has an unlikely character, Olivia, who brings an unexpected reunion between her great-grandfather, Oliver, and his first love, Francesca.

Q: On your blog you mention that this short story that is part of “First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts” anthology is your first “baby” going out into the world. Do you have plans for future stories or novels?

A: Actually, I have written three novels and several short stories in the past decade which I hope will be published. “Oliver’s Girl” was written specifically for this anthology. Most of my writing has been Middle Grade Fantasy, Contemporary Young Adult, and a Narrative Non-Fiction. I am currently working on a Chicago Noir novella. I have varied writing styles, and I am pushing myself to write in other genres. Once I stepped out of my comfort zone, my story was accepted and published. I also plan to write more romance since readers seem to enjoy it.

Q: I mentioned your blog. Will you provide the link here for readers? And, is this the only place readers can go to learn more about you and watch for more of your writing or can you share other links as well?

A: I would be delighted. Blog: https://writing-art-and-design.blogspot.com/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/DAK86 and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/michael.gesu

Kim Elliott:

Q: You have a novel, first of a planned series, about a superhero, so what inspired you to write about a rock and roll band for this anthology?

A: My kids have a huge impact on my writing because I’m inundated by whatever they happen to be taken with. I’ve always loved superheroes, but the main inspiration for my novel was my daughter’s obsession with Marvel cartoons. I wrote about rock music because my kids fell in love with ’80s hair bands. They listened to songs like Eye of the Tiger and Don’t Stop Believin’ on repeat. I found myself getting into the music along with them. Another factor that informed my story was winning a radio contest. Years ago I called in and received advance screening tickets to Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Though time has passed, I still feel attached to that station. Those are the DJs I listen to most often, even though I prefer the music on another station. In “Clyde and Coalesce,” I wanted to explore what it’s like to have a deep connection with a local radio station.

Q: What did you like best about writing for “First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts”?

A: I enjoyed the experience of working with a publisher. My other works are self-published, so it has been a great learning opportunity!

Q: Where can readers learn more about you and read more of your writing?

A: My website is the place! https://kimelliottauthor.weebly.com/ Readers can find information about who I am, the genres I favor, and upcoming projects. If visitors want to explore further, there are links to Amazon, Goodreads, Wattpad, and more.

Denise Covey:

Q: With everyone growing tired of the seemingly unending pandemic, what made you decide to write it into your story for this anthology?

A: I am aware there is a negative view regarding writing the pandemic into our stories and therefore I usually avoid mentioning Covid-19. However, my story idea was inspired by many things, including Covid-19, so I used it for a springboard into my story and offered hope that one day the pandemic will end. C’est la vie.

We all have differing opinions about how we write, and I like truth in my writing. If we’re writing a story set in this time, it makes sense to me to give the pandemic a mention seeing it’s all around us. I’ve read countless novels set in the wars, including some documenting the great disaster of the Spanish flu. I don’t understand why mentioning Covid-19 is frowned upon by some. I allude to it in other pieces of my writing, but in “Marmalade Sunset” it is an underpinning element to the action.

Q: You write quite a bit of paranormal romance and a bit of contemporary romance. Your story for “First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts” is a romance set in Greece and includes a lot of history. What inspired you to write about Greece and some of its history?

A: I had taken a cruise to the Greek Islands just before the pandemic hit. Most of the action in my story is in places/situations where I have first-hand experience. Through my character, Cora, I tried to recreate the exhilaration I felt zipping along the gorgeous paved streets of Santorini and popping into musty little shops full of treasures. On a tour of Oia at the top of the island, I learned of the tragic wartime history of the inhabitants who hid in caves and lived on onions and grass and how hard it has been to come back after losing so many of its citizens.

I love learning something new when I read a story, so I hope someone learned something new reading Marmalade Sunset.

Q: Where can readers learn more about you and read more of your writing?

A: I’m an emerging Australian writer of both paranormal romance and contemporary romance who has self-published 5 novels or novellas on Amazon, available to buy or read for free on Kindle Unlimited.

-My paranormal romance series set in Renaissance Italy and Paris has 2 of 4 books published. -I have used my experience of living in Paris for 6 months and visiting often, to write a women’s fiction with romantic elements series called “It Happened in Paris”. Paris Dreams, first in the series, is published and features fashion and art. I’m currently working on the second in the series, a cookery school novel set in Paris. My characters come from around the globe to learn to cook traditional French dishes. If the planets align, it will be published in October on the anniversary of Paris Dreams. -I’ve also published 3 booklets of short stories, 1 in the contemporary romance genre and 2 in the paranormal genre with Halloween in mind.

You can find a full list of my titles on my Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Denise-Covey/e/B016U970GG/ref=aufs_dp_fta_dsk

You can find out more about me and read free stories on my blog: https://dencovey.blogspot.com/ You can visit/join my Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/171668358295270/permalink/199872862141486/?sale_post_id=199872862141486 My Goodreads page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14548548.Denise_Covey And you can sign up for my Reader group at: https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/a0g9b3

S. E. White:

Q: Your story in the “First Love” The Art of Making Doughnuts” anthology, “The Castle of Ohno” is very much like a familiar fairy tale. Is it supposed to be a “retelling”, or is it your very own fairy tale?

A: “The Castle of Ohno” is not so much a retelling as it is a love letter to classic fantasy tropes and fairytale flavor. I love the almost forgotten about, less-well-known stories like East of the Sun, West of the Moon; The Robber Groom; or Allerleirauh. They could be quite successful horror stories if they were marketed a little differently. And all of them take real situations, real feelings that humans experience, and add a touch of magic. Which, to me, is what falling in love for the first time feels like. The title was a direct riff on the classic Gothic story, “The Castle of Otrano”, though. My story has less deadly helmets and sudden skeletons telling prophecies, and more happy endings. If that helps.

Q: “First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts” anthology was created by The Insecure Writer’s Support Group. Are you a member and can you tell us a little bit about this group?

A: I am a member of the group, and have been for around five years now. I will happily tell you about it! The group meets online (the socially anxious rejoice!) once a month, on the first Wednesday of each month. It’s built around the idea of making connections to share Our stories, air out our insecurities, and get some support from the digital friends we make from all over the world. It’s a great group to be a part of, and the support is real. I very much recommend checking it out if you are an author or writer of any type.

Q: Where can readers learn more about you and read more of your writing?

A: Readers who are so interested can check out my website: https://sewhitebooks.com/ They could also try Instagram if they like social media (@sewhiteauthor), although I will warn them in advance that my Instagram contains many listicles rating alien romance by some highly improbable features.

There you have it. If you have read both yesterday’s post and this post, you have received a little taste of the stories and a glimpse of the authors you will find in tomorrow’s great new release: “First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts” anthology. The authors whose stories are included in the anthology are all part of The Insecure Writer’s Support Group.

If my interview with the 10 authors of “First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts” hasn’t convinced you that you should buy a copy tomorrow and read it for yourself, then come back here tomorrow and read my review of “First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts”.

Interview of Ten Authors

I have had the unique privilege of interviewing ten authors who have written short stories for a new romance anthology, First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts, which releases on Tuesday, September 6, 2022. I also received a free ebook copy of the anthology to read to aid in creating questions for each author, and to write a Book Review of First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts, which I will post here on Tuesday.

Because there were ten authors to interview, I will post my interview questions and the answers of five of the authors today and the other five tomorrow. This is not an in-depth interview of each author. Instead, in this interview, I ask each author a little bit about the story they wrote for the anthology to whet your reading appetite in hopes that you will grab your own copy of First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts on Tuesday! I have also asked each author where you can find more about them and more of their writing.

The first author is Linda Budzinski:

Q: Where did your idea for the short story, “The Art of Making Doughnuts”, come from?

A: I write young adult romance, so when I saw the anthology’s theme was First Love, I, of course, thought about writing something with teen main characters. But the more I thought about it, the more I was drawn to the idea of writing about someone who finds her true “first love” later in life. And I wanted this character to be happy with her current situation, because although I am a romantic at heart, I absolutely believe that people can be happy on their own as well. I wanted the romance to be a “plus” for her, not a “must”. I needed her to be independent and wanted her to have an interesting job, so a cop seemed like a good fit. And who would a cop fall in love with? Why, the man who makes the doughnuts, of course!

Q: I read that you write mainly Young Adult Fiction, so what inspired you to write about characters that are 50+?

A: I’ve been writing teen romance for about 15 years, so I was a little nervous about writing one for adults. But it wasn’t so different. Every good romance starts with the character, and Gina is a much more mature, self-confident person who knows herself better than any of my teen characters have. She is simply in a different stage of life. She knows who she is and what she wants, and has been working toward it for many years. So her relationship with Pete has a very different sensibility than a teen romance might. I ended up falling in love with both of them as I wrote their story (and, in fact, am currently working on turning it into a novel!).

Q: Where can readers learn more about you and read more of your writing?

A: They can find me at https://lindabudzinski.com/ and can follow me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/LindaBudzinskiAuthor/ and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/LindaBudz

Author Melissa Maygrove:

Q: Your story, “My Heart Approves”, is a Mail Order Bride story. Are you aware of any records that tell of any mail order brides from real life that did include a “real love relationship” and not just a marriage of convenience or necessity?

A: Many mail-order couples corresponded for months before deciding to marry and grew quite fond of each other. On the flipside, there’s the story of Eleanor Berry, who courted by mail, only to discover at her wedding that her groom was the same man who had robbed her stagecoach.

Q: What draws you to writing Western Historical Romance?

A: I grew up watching Little House on the Prairie and have always felt I was born a century too late. I love the stoic, hard-working mindset of 19th century settlers as well as their traditional values. I’m also fascinated when I study the details of how they lived.

Q: Where can readers learn more about you and read more of your writing?

A: They can follow me on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Melissa-Maygrove/e/B00JL4UPCY and BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/melissa-maygrove and they can get a FREE book titled Bride for Sale when they sign up for my newsletter at: https://dl.bookfunnel.com/uonrrvm6ze My website is: http://www.melissamaygrove.com/

Author Katie Klein:

Q: I found “How to Save a Princess” a very unique story. What led you to such a unique idea for a romance story?

A: I actually started with a writing prompt I stumbled across online. I was poking around for some inspiration and found a prompt about a handsome neighbor saving a girl from an ex-boyfriend. So I made the ex her first love and the neighbor someone she’d been wanting to meet, and the story grew from there.

Q: Do you always write your main character in first person, and if so, why?

A: I do. I know the genre is divided on this, and every reader has their preference, but I love writing in first person, and I love reading it. It makes me feel fully immersed in the story.

Q: Where can readers learn more about you and read more of your writing?

A: I blog at https://katiekleinwrites.blogspot.com/

I have a free first in series urban fantasy available (The Guardian) at: https://books2read.com/u/mv1MNz

And I’m pretty active on Twitter: https://twitter.com/katiekleinbooks/status/1564271152909979650

Author Templeton Moss:

Q: You’ve written a lot of books for kids, so what inspired you to write a story for “First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts” which is geared more toward adults?

A: For me, the focus is always on telling a good story. One that is of interest to me and (I dearly hope) others. My style tends to gravitate toward the silly and fanciful which is why so many of my stories come out as “children’s stories”.

Q: Would you write a romance story again, and would you consider writing for adults again?

A: In a way, everything I write has been for adults. I think it’s important for grownups to remember what it’s like to be a kid. So while I’m pleased that kids do read my stories, I consider my work to be more “kids’ stories for grownups.”

Q: Where can readers learn more about you and read more of your writing?

A: If they visit http://www.sixtysomethingtrees.com/, readers can read several stories and poems I’ve written (some for kids, some for grownups) as well as links to where they can buy my various books, or books that my work appears in, like First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts.

Author Sammi Spizziri:

Q: How would you explain the importance of fact-to-face interaction to young adults?

A: The importance of face-to-face interaction is something that’s better experienced than explained. It often requires greater risk and vulnerability, but it’s that very vulnerability that allows for a deeper connection. I think you can absolutely make great friends online and keep in touch with old ones long distance but nothing beats being in the same room as someone. I actually met my husband online but we always say there’s a difference between online dating and online meeting. We met online and very intentionally moved to in-person quickly so as to truly get to know each other outside of written communication. This short story explores the difference between starting a relationship purely online–with all the filters and self-editing you want–and one in person, when it’s raining and you’re anxious and all your flaws are all to visible.

Q: Do you find it more difficult to write short stories than novels? Why or why not?

A: Each format has its own difficulties. I don’t read as many short stories as novels so writing them doesn’t come as intuitively for me. It’s hard to develop a character and tell a full story so succinctly. On the other hand, novels require so many moving parts and subplots and details, which makes keeping track of everything its own challenge.

Q: Where can readers learn more about you and read more of your writing?

A: While I don’t have any other published work just yet, readers can keep up-to-date with any new releases on my website: https://sammispizziri.com/ and follow me on social media (links on my website).

Be sure to come back tomorrow to read the interviews of the other five authors who wrote short stories for First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts.

Flash Fiction Friday: A Promising Entanglement

American Labrador Retriever and English Labrador Retriever

A Promising Entanglement

by Kelly F. Barr

Tara awakened to sunshine lighting her lavender bedroom curtains. She turned her head to look at the clock on her bedside table – 8 a.m. She smiled, thankful she had slept well and later than her weekdays allowed. She sat up and Atticus plopped his forepaws and front part of his body on her lap. He lifted his head and licked her chin.

Tara giggled and scratched the black Labrador Retriever behind his ears. “Good morning to you too, Atticus. Give me half an hour to shower and dress, then we’ll go for our morning walk, and if you’re patient, we’ll stop by Scratch Bakes for breakfast.

“Woof!” The big guy responded as he moved, allowing her to move from the bed. He watched as Tara grabbed her clothes and strode to the bathroom, his tongue lolling out of his mouth.

When Tara turned off the blow dryer after showering, she heard Atticus whining on the opposite side of the bathroom door. She checked her watch. Forty minutes had passed from the time she’d entered the bathroom. “Okay, big guy. Sorry I’m a bit late, but cut me some slack. It’s Saturday.”

Atticus responded with another whine and Tara grinned as she brushed her hair and applied a light coat of hairspray. Then she stepped into her jeans and slid a purple short-sleeved t-shirt over her head. She hung up her bath towel and opened the bathroom door to find Atticus sitting, looking up at her, his tail wagging.

She gave him a scratch behind the ears, kissed the top of his head and moved to sit on the foot of the bed to put on her socks and lavender sneakers. Then she moved to the bedroom door, opened it and walked through the living room into the hallway to her apartment door. She stopped to grab her purse from the small table near the door, as well as Atticus’s leash and her keys from hooks above the table. She attached the leash to her eager Labrador Retriever and the two of them left the apartment and jogged down one flight of stairs and through the building’s lobby.

They entered the park and followed the walking path. Lots of people were in the park and several others walked their dogs on the path. Tara always moved Atticus to her right side and held him close to her side whenever anyone passed them, well aware that some people were uncomfortable with Atticus’s size. As an English Labrador Retriever, the larger of the two Labrador Retriever breeds, though Tara knew he was gentle and friendly, strangers to him weren’t so sure.

As they walked, Tara spotted a man jogging with a smaller, American Labrador Retriever on a leash running alongside him. Though Tara, again, pulled Atticus close, the jogger made no move to pull his dog in and as they drew near, his dog looked at Atticus and he returned her interest. Tara realized the jogger’s Lab was a female, and though Atticus was neutered, she knew he’d want to greet this pretty female.

“Atticus, no. Heel.” She spoke to her dog in a quiet but firm tone. However, the jogger’s dog crossed the path and met Atticus face to face, bringing the jogger to a stop. The two dogs sniffed each other and attempted to maneuver around to sniff each other’s backsides, as dogs do, and entangled their leashes.

The jogger became frustrated at the situation and Tara began to laugh out loud.

The jogger looked at Tara for a moment, then joined in her laughter. After a couple moments, he stopped laughing and said, “I’m so sorry.”

Tara stifled her giggles and said, “Well, I will try to untangle the leashes if you will follow my instructions. I’m pretty good at untangling dog leashes. Atticus has gotten into such predicaments before.”

The jogger raised an eyebrow at her. “Atticus? That’s your dog’s name?”

Tara nodded.

“So you are either a fan of To Kill a Mockingbird or you’re a lawyer?”

Tara smiled. “I’m not a lawyer, although I am a secretary to a lawyer. But, yes, I am a fan of To Kill a Mockingbird and Atticus is my favorite character in the book.”

“Mine too, although I do love Scout and Jem as well.”

“So are you a lawyer?” Tara asked in a teasing tone.

He chuckled, then said, “No, I’m a history professor at Lancaster Bible College and To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the books I require.”

“Good for you. Now, let’s get these dogs untangled.” Tara returned her attention to the leashes.

When the leashes were separated, Tara petted the jogger’s Lab.

“Thanks, um…”

“Tara, and you already know my dog’s name, but I’m afraid I didn’t catch either of your names.”

“Oh right. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. This is Lila.” He patted his dog’s head. “And I am Michael. Where are you headed?”

“Atticus and I are headed to Scratch Bakes for breakfast.”

“Sounds delightful.” He lowered his gaze to her hands. “I hope I don’t sound too forward, but I don’t see a ring on your left ring finger. Does that mean you’re not married?”

Heat crept into Tara’s cheeks. “No, I’m not married.” She lowered her eyes to the path as the heat of her cheeks told her they must be bright red.

“Neither am I. Could we meet at the dog park next week? That way Lila and Atticus can run without becoming entangled. We could talk more and, maybe … make plans for dinner without Lila and Atticus?”

When she looked up at him once again, she noted his cheeks had turned pink. She smiled and said, “I think Atticus and I would like that. So, same time next week, but at the dog park instead?”

He nodded, then looked at his dog and said, “Okay, Lila, you’ve got a date next Saturday morning and I may have one next Saturday night.” Lila barked once and Tara and Michael laughed.

From Fame to Ruin by Jina S. Bazzar

As a Book Reviewer I received a free ebook copy of From Fame to Ruin by Jina S. Bazzar and this is my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor any review. From Fame to Ruin is not Jina S. Bazzar’s first novel, but it is her first New Adult and College Romance novel.

From Fame to Ruin is a novel about two people who meet and fall in love, but Carol wasn’t counting on falling in love. This was just supposed to be a weekend fling – something to take her mind off the problems she had to face and deal with when the weekend was over.

Four years later, Carol is facing another crisis and believes the only person she can turn to is the man she walked away from after a weekend she never forgot.

This novel is written in two different time frames and two different settings. It is written in the two main characters’ Points of View, but there is one chapter written in another character’s Point of View.

From Fame to Ruin is a book about love, betrayal, misunderstanding, and crime. It has romance, danger, and suspense.

The main characters, Carol and Ricardo, are easy to like and care about. Though I found the pacing of the plot a bit slow sometimes and thought the story could have been shorter, I cared enough about the characters to keep reading. When the crime was committed and the criminal became part of the story line, I was definitely hooked and turning pages as I tried to figure out who the criminal was.

Ms. Bazzar writes deep, interesting characters and a very thorough storyline.

I do want to caution my more sensitive readers. This novel contains some profanity and some sexual scenes between unmarried people, though the sexuality is not explicit or detailed.

If you like a complicated storyline that includes suspense, mystery, and romance, you will like From Fame to Ruin by Jina S. Bazzar. Ms. Bazzar is a talented writer and I give From Fame to Ruin 4 stars.

Pointe Shoes and Sugar Plums by Tomi Tabb

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Pointe Shoes and Sugar Plums is a novella by Tomi Tabb. It ties in with her “Unexpected Royals” series. As a Book Reviewer I received a free ebook copy of this novella and this is my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor any review.

Pointe Shoes and Sugar Plums gives us a little more of Jenna’s story. Jenna is mentioned in Ms. Tabb’s first book in her “Unexpected Royals” series – Dancing with a Royal. It is near Christmas and Jenna hopes to be chosen as one of the five dancers who will be chosen, from her school, to dance in The Nutcracker ballet.

Tomi Tabb does an excellent job of explaining the life of a ballerina or a dedicated ballet student. She is obviously very knowledgeable on the subject. Ms. Tabb also includes some of the male dancers who are the partners of these ballerinas, and Jeremy is Jenna’s counterpart and has been for quite a few years.

Pointe Shoes and Sugar Plums is a wonderful story that gives the reader an inside look into the ballet. It is also the story of a dancer coming of age and a blossoming romance.

I enjoyed Pointe Shoes and Sugar Plums and hope that Ms. Tabb will write more about Jenna and Jeremy in an upcoming story as I feel as though, in this novella, there story has just begun.

I give Pointe Shoes and Sugar Plums by Tomi Tabb 5 stars.

Designing for a Royal by Tomi Tabb

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As a Book Reviewer, I received a free ebook copy of this book. Designing for a Royal is the third book in the “Unexpected Royals” series by Tomi Tabb. It is the story of Clarissa Lee, an up and coming fashion designer in London and Patrick Nelson, the Lord of Renbrook. Both Clarissa and Patrick have been greatly hurt by people they have loved, and both struggle to trust again, but when they meet, there’s definitely an attraction.

Tomi Tabb has done it again. Just as in the first two books in her Unexpected Royals series, she has created characters the reader will love and be happy to invest their time in their story. In addition to Clarissa and Patrick, there are other characters that add to the story—some you will like and some you may dislike. Tomi Tabb’s characters always endear themselves to readers.

In Designing for a Royal, Ms. Tabb has included an unexpected twist that adds suspense and a bit of mystery to the story. However, I did feel this particular subplot in the story could have been wrapped up better. I had my suspicions and kept waiting to find out if my suspicions were correct. It wouldn’t have mattered to me if I were correct or not, I was just looking for full closure on this subplot. Ms. Tabb did wrap it up, but it didn’t have that “finished” feeling.

Even with that one piece seemingly missing full closure, I must admit, I again greatly enjoyed the story of Designing a Royal and, once again, Ms. Tabb’s mains characters will live on in my memory. I highly recommend Designing a Royal to anyone who enjoys a good, clean romance story with some humor mixed in. I also highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys stories about modern day royalty, although all of Ms. Tabb’s characters are fictitious. As a matter of fact, I recommend all three books in the “Unexpected Royals” series. Each can be read as a stand alone. However, there are character ties that connect each book.

Thursday’s Thoughts, Questions, and Comments About Writing

I’ve been very busy trying to finish the revisions on my upcoming novel and working my way through finishing a Flash Fiction writing course and Ted Dekker’s Creative Way novel writing course. I’m also helping writers by reading and reviewing their books. Reviews are so important in helping writers to sell their books.

That’s why when Bea Stevens let me know she’s offering her book for Free for the next four days (ebook only), I decided to put this here for all of you to see. My Thursday posts are all about writing and helping other writers. I hope some of you will take advantage of Bea’s Free book, read it, and write a review for her.

Here’s the link for it on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Best-Foot-Forward-Liberty-Lawrence-ebook/dp/B07913RZBX/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Bea+Stevens&qid=1602703293&s=books&sr=1-1

Flash Fiction Friday: Mysteries, Love, and Tea

Mysteries, Love, and Tea

by Kelly F. Barr

Brad hated his train commute back and forth to the office everyday. The train was often crowded and nearly everyday, whoever sat next to him would reek of cigarette smoke, turning his stomach and engaging his gag reflex. He’d be forced to stand, his laptop bag over his shoulder and briefcase in his hand, or find another place to sit. If he stood, he’d arrive to an empty home with an aching shoulder and arm.

Today had been no different, and it had been a standing day. He turned the key in the lock and let himself into his empty house—no one to greet him and no sound except for the hum of the refrigerator. His mom and dad suggested he get a pet, but he wasn’t a cat person and didn’t want to have to walk a dog before and after work everyday.

What he wanted was a woman in his life, but all the women he’d met so far, since moving to Boston, were either shallow or more interested in his money than him, or weren’t interested in a long-term relationship. He sighed, moved to the kitchen and paged through the menus he had in a basket on the counter, pulling out the ones for restaurants he knew delivered. It was Friday and he was beat—didn’t feel like cooking or going out.

After ordering a pizza, bag of chips, and a two-liter bottle of root beer, he trudged to the bedroom to get out of his suit and tie. Exiting the bedroom in a comfortable pair of lounge pants and a sleeveless t-shirt, he slouched in his favorite chair, grabbed the t.v. remote, hit the power button and started flipping channels. He had just settled on a college basketball game, when the doorbell rang.

After paying the delivery guy, he put two pieces of Italian sausage pizza, oozing with cheese, on a plate, along with a handful of chips. He put ice in a glass and poured root beer over it. Then he returned to his favorite chair.

The basketball game ended at ten. Brad cleaned up his dinner items, ate a slice of the now cold pizza, put the rest in the fridge, along with the bottle of root beer, and went to bed.

Monday morning Brad stood on the platform in a crowd of people, once again waiting for the train. When the train pulled up, screeched to a halt, and the doors opened, people pushed to get through the doors. Brad didn’t even attempt to grab a seat, but instead stood and held onto the handrail.

As the train began to move, he saw a woman with waves of chocolate brown hair falling to her shoulders, slender legs beneath a tan skirt, and a book in front of her face. She seemed completely oblivious to everyone around her as she frequently turned the pages. Her eyes never left the book until the conductor’s voice came over the speaker, announcing they were entering Downtown Crossing.

That was Brad’s stop, but it appeared this woman planned to get off there as well. As she closed her book, he noticed she was wearing turquoise framed glasses over eyes the same chocolate color as her hair. She wore pink lipstick on bow-shaped lips. When the train stopped, she stood, picked up the briefcase at her feet, and when the door to the train car opened, she brushed past Brad sending the scent of sweet pea and violets to his nose. He moved to follow her.

He weaved in and out of other commuters to keep the woman in view. It helped that she was wearing a bright pink blouse. Though it was no easy feat, he managed to follow her to the street. She turned the same direction he did on the sidewalk. He could follow her much more easily now that the crowd thinned out a bit. As they drew closer to the office building where Brad worked, he wondered if she could be heading to the same building. However, she entered a skyscraper three buildings before his.

For weeks, the woman with chocolate hair and eyes rode in the same train car as he did, always reading a book during the ride. Brad wondered how to interrupt her reading and introduce himself, but his mind kept coming up empty.

Then one day, the train lurched to an unexpected stop and her book toppled to the floor. Brad bent and retrieved it, their eyes met as he handed it back to her, and he said, “Hello.”

She gave him a small smile, took the book, and said, “Thank you.”

Her voice was velvety soft like a caress upon his skin. “My name’s Brad.”

“I’m Laney.”

“What are you reading?”

“I enjoy mysteries, especially cozy mysteries. This is an Aurora Teagarden mystery called ‘A Fool and His Honey’ by Charlaine Harris.”

Brad grinned. “Catchy title. Do you enjoy tea and gardens as well?” He quirked an eyebrow.

Laney gave a little chuckle that sounded like water bubbling over rocks in a stream. “Actually, I do.”

“Maybe I could take you to tea some time?”

“Downtown Crossing,” the conductor’s voice came over the speaker.

Laney rose, met Brad’s gaze, and said, “That sounds lovely. How about this Saturday?”

Brad’s lower jaw went slack, but he regained control quickly. “Saturday would be perfect. Say two o’clock?”

Laney nodded. “It’s a date.” She reached into a pocket on the front of her briefcase, pulled out a business card and handed it to him. “Call me on your lunch break and I can give you my home phone number and address.”

Brad nodded, took the card, exited the train, and walked to his office with a new spring in his step.

Saturday afternoon, Brad took Laney to a Japanese tea house and garden. They enjoyed sitting in the garden sipping Japanese tea and getting to know one another. As they were leaving, Brad took Laney’s hand in his.

Wrong Place, Right Time by E. B. Roshan

wrongplacerighttime

About the Book:
Anna Belko is a young woman living in the city of Dor. There is unrest in the city. Anna meets Boris Merkovich at a cafe called Oksana’s, when she stops for a cup of tea. A relative of Boris’s was killed but he doesn’t have time to grieve because he has to run the cafe. He nearly spills a pot of tea in Anna’s lap, and she prays for him.

Boris is deeply touched by Anna’s prayer for him and so begins a love neither of them expected.

However, stuck in a city filled with hatred, it soon becomes clear that the hatred isn’t just “outside” and Boris and Anna’s relationship is threatened.

The story, though centered around Anna and Boris, includes several other characters, including Anna’s parents and one of her brothers, whom she is close to. The story is filled with danger and troubles between the Sevian people and the Tur people.

As the violence escalates near their home, Anna’s parents decide to move to Dovni where things are not so volatile. Anna remains behind with her brother.

My Review:
The plot kept me turning pages. The characters captured and held my attention. The characters were realistic, and I cared about them and what happened to them. My heart ached for Anna and Boris as they struggled with their environment and their feelings for one another.

E.B. Roshan did an excellent job showing the difficulties of living in an area where danger and hatred are a part of everyday life. Not only did E.B. Roshan clearly show the dangers, Roshan did an excellent job expressing the thoughts and feelings of the people stuck amidst the struggles.

The story was very well written. Though it was a story about hatred and violence, the violence was not overly descriptive or gory.  It did not need to be to touch the reader’s heart and help the reader understand the setting and what was happening. I also liked how Roshan showed that hatred is a choice and no one has to allow it to consume them.

E.B. Roshan wrapped up the ending quite nicely, but even so, I was sad to finish the last page and say goodbye to these characters.

I really enjoyed this story and highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a well written story filled with struggles and different types of loving relationships.

I give this story 5 stars.