Down to Earth Romance

Archive for the ‘Award Winning’ Category

Guest Blog-Author Marianne Bayliss Offers Readers French Chocolate #SweetRomance #Books #RomanceAnthology #WritersLife #WritersCommunity @CamdenParkPress

Australian author Marianne Bayliss has been invited here to share the inspiration behind her short story “Sweet Provence” in the LOVE IS LIKE A BOX OF CHOCOLATES romance anthology.

I greatly enjoyed Marianne’s story, set in the beautiful southeastern region of France, and hope you will too. Download a copy of the collection or buy the print version from your favorite online retailer, lift the cover, and delight in the sweetness of love and chocolate inside. ~Best, Adele

***

From Marianne Bayliss:

The inspiration for my story SWEET PROVENCE came from a wonderful holiday I shared last April with my 21-year-old daughter.

Our globe-trot included one glorious week in Paris, four days in Provence and ten days in Italy. We loved it all, but we loved Provence the most.

In Provence, we made our base in Aix- (pronounced: ‘aches’) -en-Provence and booked mini-van day tours to surrounding towns, just as my heroine did.

While each town was charming, with specific traits that made them unique, we discovered similarities that linked them.

First, the light. It’s golden. Everything appeared tinged in a caramelised aura. It had us turning our face to the sun and basking in the gentle glow: something we rarely do in the harsh Australian sunshine. While now I can’t remember the exact shade, I still recall the impression of the faint butterscotch blush and I tilt my head up when I call it to mind, as though the memory and the action are linked. It was easy to see why the great painters Cézanne and Van Gogh favoured this unique light and created their most famous paintings in this area.

Second, the scenery. Every aspect is postcard worthy. I was producing photos similar to those filling my ‘365 days in France’ calendar. I, as the photographer, needed no skill; Provence did the work. Each cobbled-stone laneway, fountain and potted plant appeared to have been designed with the camera in mind (yet with that nonchalance at which the French excel). While we, the models, may not have always photographed our best, Provence provided the perfect backdrop without fail.

Third, the food. Buttery, flaky croissants accompanied by creamy coffee or rich hot chocolate for breakfast. Crunchy baguettes filled with fresh produce for lunch. Whole roasted Camembert topped with stewed cinnamon apples for dinner. Need I say more?

Fourth, the friendliness. To be fair, I speak basic conversational French and tried to use it as much as possible, but we found the locals were warm and helpful. Our experiences started with a Boulanger, sucking a cigarette outside his bakery, who fixed a problem with our accommodation then gave us crisp pastry treats in a sweet little bag to enjoy while we waited. Two waiters shared a Limoncello with us ‘on the house’ during their shift. A stall holder in Roussillon engaged us in charming conversation after having seen us wander the market in Saint-Rémy the previous day. And a married couple from Marseille, who we met on the flight from Provence to Venice, insisted we join them in their private water taxi from Venice airport to the main island, instead of travelling by crowded water bus!

Outside Aix-en-Provence is the village of Puyricard, and home of France’s famous chocolaterie of the same name. This became the inspiration for my hero’s world and the location for much of my story. (My daughter and I actually outlined the story one evening on the walk from our accommodation to the café; by the end of dinner we had full stomachs and a basic plot!)

In SWEET PROVENCE, children’s book author and illustrator, Katie Monroe, seeks inspiration when she travels to Provence. But romance finds her in the form of Luc Julienne, the owner of France’s famous chocolaterie.

When distance and work conflicts threaten their relationship will Katie choose the job she loves or the man who has melted her heart?

LOVE IS LIKE A BOX OF CHOCOLATES presents sixteen stories that capture both the sweetness and variety of a box of chocolates. Ranging from new loves to rekindled relationships, these stories are filled with sweet meet-cutes, nutty quirks, and the unexpected richness hidden beneath the surface of the characters and their developing relationships.

You can purchase a copy of Love is Like a Box of Chocolates from your preferred retailer here:

www.books2read.com/LoveIsLikeChocolate

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B084S7D6NC

Armchair Travel to Provence, France #SweetRomance #Books #Anthology @CamdenParkPress

The worldwide Coronavirus pandemic has eliminated travel for many of us, and social distancing will keep us isolated until the virus is under control. I thought this would be a good time for an armchair view of Provence, France with Australian author Marianne Bayliss.

Marianne toured the French region last spring and found the inspiration for her story “Sweet Provence” in the LOVE IS LIKE A BOX OF CHOCOLATES anthology. Both her short story and her article are entertaining and beautifully written. Stop by this blog and read her guest post on Tuesday, 3/17/2020.

~Best, Adele

LOVE and CHOCOLATE #SweetRomance #Anthology @CamdenParkPress #WritersLife #WritersNetwork #WritersCommunity

LOVE IS LIKE A BOX OF CHOCOLATES Sweet Romance Anthology is a special new release for me. It contains my first published story since my dear husband of thirty years passed away suddenly in March 2018.

Steve’s death leveled me emotionally. I couldn’t work, couldn’t sleep, couldn’t get through a day without crying. Grief counseling helped and became my focus for many months. Friends and family were lifelines. However, I worried that my creative spirit was gone forever and that my writing career was over. I wondered if I would lose my readers along with the love of my life.

Then, quite by chance, (or maybe kismet) I read on Facebook about an open call for *sweet romance short story submissions from small independent publisher Camden Park Press, and decided to go back to my desk and try to make the words come. Over the next few weeks I poured myself into writing, revising, and then submitting my story about falling in love at middle age.

To say I was thrilled when editor Lyn Worthen contacted me to say “Catch Me” had been accepted for the romance anthology LOVE IS LIKE A BOX OF CHOCOLATES, and that my story was ‘just what she was looking for’ is an understatement. Despite my struggle with grief and loss, my creativity was revived, and so was I.

I do hope you’ll download a copy of LOVE IS LIKE A BOX OF CHOCOLATES from your favorite online retailer, or order a print copy from Amazon if you prefer paper to e-book. There are sixteen heartwarming, diverse, and entertaining stories in the collection; and any one of them can be read in about an hour. This book is perfect for the beach, quick reads inside waiting rooms or before bed, and also makes the perfect gift for friends and loved ones.

*By the way, in case you were wondering what “sweet” romance means, it’s code for ‘only contains a kiss.’

Buy The Book!

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B084S7D6NC

Books To Read: https://books2read.com/LoveIsLikeChocolate

The Inspiration for CATCH ME-Love Is Like A Box of Chocolates #SweetRomance #Anthology @CamdenParkPress #WritersLife #WritersCommunity

Photo copyright Adele Downs 2020

This is the bicycle that inspired my short story “Catch Me” in the sweet romance anthology LOVE IS LIKE A BOX OF CHOCOLATES. It’s not a particularly sexy bike; it’s sturdy with thick tires and a foot brake instead of the hand brake installed on racing bikes. It’s a Schwinn, and almost exactly like the bicycle I rode as a child, which is probably why I picked it out and brought it home from the local big box store.

Riding the bike, however, has been a challenge. I’m scared of my Schwinn. My fear of falling has taken some of the shine off my exercise good intentions and visits to neighbors. Understanding that practice might ally that fear hasn’t helped much. Riding my bike has become more about gritting my teeth and getting from point A to point B than the elated air-and-sunshine freedom at the beach I anticipated. However…I’m not giving up. This year, I intend to make my bicycle my friend… I hope.

My fear of falling off my Schwinn sparked the idea for my LOVE IS LIKE A BOX OF CHOCOLATES short story “Catch Me.” My creative spirit invented the heroine, Lilly, and the handsome construction worker, Theo, who meet after Lilly hits the asphalt when she loses control while riding beside Rehoboth Bay (pictured). Their happily-ever-after is a much better ending than the one I fear for myself. But, who knows, maybe with determination and practice I will regain the bike riding confidence of my childhood, soar beside the water, and make exciting new friends in my community along the way.

Buy the Book!

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B084S7D6NC

Books To Read: https://books2read.com/LoveIsLikeChocolate

Book Review-The New Husband by D.J. Palmer #book review #NetGalley #thriller #suspense @djpalmerauthor @StMartinsPress

The New Husband is a riveting thriller about the lies we tell ourselves from D. J. Palmer, the author of Saving Meghan.

About The Book:

Just because you love someone doesn’t mean you know them.

Nina Garrity learned that the hard way after discovering that her missing husband, Glen, had been leading a double life with another woman. But Glen’s gone–presumably drowned while fishing on his boat–so she can’t confront him about the affair or any of his other misdeeds. A year and a half after the accident, Nina considers herself a widow, even though the police never found a body. Following a chance encounter with Simon Fitch, a teacher from her daughter Maggie’s middle school, Nina finds love again and has hopes of putting her shattered life back together.

Simon, a widower still grieving the suicide of his first wife, has found his dream girl in Nina. His charm and affections help break through to a heart hardened by betrayal. Nina’s teenage son, Connor, embraces Simon as the father he wishes his dad could have been, but Maggie sees a far darker side to this new man in their lives. Even Nina’s good friends wonder if Simon is supremely devoted–or dangerously possessive.

But Nina is committed, not only to her soon-to-be new husband but also to resuming her former career as a social worker. Before she can move forward, however, Nina must first clear her conscience that she’s not making another terrible choice in a man. In doing so, she will uncover the shocking truth: the greatest danger to her, and her children, are the lies people tell themselves.

Adele’s Review:

4.5 Stars!

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. The novel did what it was supposed to do—kept me turning the pages to see what happened next—creating thrilling entertainment from the first pages to the last.

I wanted the protagonist, Nina, to be smarter and more cautious about allowing a new man into her life and home and the home of her children, but there would have been no story if she’d done that, right? The New Husband is another cautionary tale about what can happen when otherwise smart, capable women ignore their instincts and good common sense and give the benefit of doubt to someone they barely know. Worse, when they take the word of a man over that of their child(ren) and side with him. When we ignore our instincts and our children’s feelings and perspectives, we invite monsters like Simon into our world. A chilling thought.

Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity to read and review this book. I definitely recommend The New Husband for an adrenaline-filled experience.

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3104860441

Book Review-The Stranger Inside by Lisa Unger #bookreview @lisaunger @parkrowbooks #thrillers #suspense #bestsellers

THE STRANGER INSIDE by Lisa Unger

Product Details:

File Size: 1109 KB
Print Length: 384 pages
Publisher: Park Row; Original edition (September 17, 2019)
Publication Date: September 17, 2019
Sold by: Harlequin Digital Sales Corp.

Named a BEST BOOK OF FALL 2019 by People Magazine, Boston Globe, BookBub, PopSugar, CrimeReads and more.

“Completely unexpected and riveting.” (Houston Chronicle)

Even good people are drawn to do evil things … Twelve-year-old Rain Winter narrowly escaped an abduction while walking to a friend’s house. Her two best friends, Tess and Hank, were not as lucky. Tess never came home, and Hank was held in captivity before managing to escape. Their abductor was sent to prison but years later was released. Then someone delivered real justice–and killed him in cold blood.

Now Rain is living the perfect suburban life, her dark childhood buried deep. She spends her days as a stay-at-home mom, having put aside her career as a hard-hitting journalist to care for her infant daughter. But when another brutal murderer who escaped justice is found dead, Rain is unexpectedly drawn into the case. Eerie similarities to the murder of her friends’ abductor force Rain to revisit memories she’s worked hard to leave behind. Is there a vigilante at work? Who is the next target? Why can’t Rain just let it go?

Introducing one of the most compelling and original killers in crime fiction today, Lisa Unger takes readers deep inside the minds of both perpetrator and victim, blurring the lines between right and wrong, crime and justice, and showing that sometimes people deserve what comes to them.

Adele’s Review:

5 Stars!

Lisa Unger is an auto-buy author for me. Her thrillers are not only well-crafted and entertaining, her writing skills put her at the top of her genre. Reading Lisa Unger is like taking a Master Class in creative writing.

Her newest release, The Stranger Inside, might be her best book yet. This compulsive page turner kept me guessing until the very last page and made me wonder if we’ll see protagonist and new mother Rain Winter in a future book. I hope so. This could be the start of a compelling new series although the book stands well on its own.

Loved this one. Bought the book on Amazon.

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3014507292

Madeline Hunter-Join Us! Workshop For Writers @VFRomanceWriter @MadelineHunter

You’re invited to an all-day writing workshop offered by Valley Forge Romance Writers, featuring NY Times best-selling historical romance author Madeline Hunter, at Montgomery County Community College in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Register now and join us September 15, 2018!

 

Bring a work-in-progress or a new story concept and leave with a conflict driven synopsis for a book that will wow readers and editors!  For more information visit Valley Forge Romance Writers.

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