12 Books—Month 5

This month, in my Twitter-Friend Book Review, I chose Katrina Ariel’s Wild Horse Heart. I first glimpsed this book when Katrina and I became friends on Twitter and I was lucky enough to read some of her other work as a critique partner long ago. Since I already knew I enjoyed her writing, I bought a copy of Wild Horse Heart and jumped in.

Given my love of horses, this book was an obvious choice. A light contemporary romance, Wild Horse Heart is a story about taking big chances, starting over, and learning to love yourself. It was an easy read and I finished it in about two days. Plus, let’s take a moment to talk about this gorgeous cover art, shall we? Love.

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Ariel obviously enjoys the outdoors and her love of nature shines through in her work. The descriptions of landscape in particular had me itching to get in the car and start driving westward once more, longing for fresh air and wide open spaces.

If you like romance, enjoy a little Hollywood escapism, and love the idea of stepping out of your own life and into a new one, this is the perfect read.

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My horse is a Standardbred, a retired racehorse. My sister has a mustang, just like those in Katrina Ariel’s book!

Who’s Who? Volume IV

Twitter is a blessing and a curse in one, but following the right people makes all the difference. Here’s a list of some of my favorites to follow. Get them on your list, too!

Maria Stout (@MariaStout) – I’m a writer, so I really enjoy following other writers, especially upbeat ones who give their all, cheer on others, and never let life get them down. Maria checks all three of those boxes. When I met Maria at the Philadelphia Writer’s Workshop two years ago, we blathered on about how excited we were to be there (‘blather’ is accurate for both of us, right Maria?), and we’ve stayed connected ever since. Also, I like to keep up on the buzz. No, not the gossip. The buzz. On top of being a teacher, a writer, a mom, and a wife, she’s also a beekeeper.

 

Piper Drake (@PiperJDrake) – I started following Piper because of her role on Writing Excuses, a writing-related podcast I enjoy immensely. Piper was a guest host for a year and I really related to some of the insight she shared on the show. Plus, her romance books are full of heroes with dogs, and everyone knows the way to my heart is with dog hair and drool. Piper doles out tons of great advice when it comes to balancing a day job with writing, the roles of agents and editors, really beautiful and mouth-watering food, and of course – all things Corbin J. Drake. And who wouldn’t love to follow that?

 

Geraldine DeRuiter (@everywhereist) – Because every good Twitter account needs a healthy dose of feminism, Geraldine should top your list. She’s smart, quick, and covers a range of topics from travel and politics to television and current events. Journalism, feminism, and opinionism at its finest! (I desperately wanted to share one of her wittiest moments, but I think this one already says it all.)

 

Jennifer Lane (@Metal_and_Earth) –  Jennifer is a fellow eastern Pennsylvanian and Indie Author who recently released her second novel, Stick Figures from Rockport. (Yes, I wrote about that one just recently.) She’s fun to follow and when she posts things like this, she makes me feel so much more normal inside…

 

E.K. Thiede (@ethiedee) – A writer after my own heart, Emily is a blast to follow on Twitter. Much like the other ladies on my Very Female list today, Emily’s Twitter will give you a hearty does of feminism. (Insert cheer! We all need more of this.) There’s rarely a tweet of hers that I don’t instantly ‘heart’ and if I manage to refrain, it’s only because I don’t want her thinking I’m a creepy stalker.

 


Don’t see yourself listed here? Don’t despair. There are so many amazing people to follow on Twitter. Hang around! You might be in my next issue of Who’s Who!

Also, if you missed my last Who’s Who? and you want to discover more great people to follow, click here!

A Hundred Breaths

It’s time to celebrate another lovely author’s book release! Please join me in congratulating author Jean M. Grant on the release of A Hundred Breaths, a historical 13th century romance featuring Scots, Vikings, and the paranormal. The book is a prequel to her debut historical romance A Hundred Kisses. So since we’re celebrating another fabulous historical romance, I thought now would be a great time to get some answers on Jean’s creative process and how she came up with the concept for her Hundred series books. (She anticipates the release of book 3 in 2020!)

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LRS: Congratulations on the release of A Hundred Breaths! What made you decide to write a prequel to A Hundred Kisses and not a sequel?

JMG: When I wrote A Hundred Kisses it was set to be a standalone book. In fact, I had been writing stories set in 12th century Scotland for over a decade. After three practice novels, and much learning of the craft and business, I decided to leap forward to the 13th century and sprinkle in paranormal/mystical elements. Therein I found the magic! From that exploration arose Deirdre and Alasdair’s story in A Hundred Kisses: a ruthless baron, a dark past, a curse, deep secrets, and the mystical power of the Ancients. Not bad for a first book! (A little plug for Rosalind Ashford who narrated the audio book — her voice swept me away.)

I felt compelled to dig deeper into the mystical Silver Veil because Deirdre’s mother, Gwyn, also had a story to tell. And it so happened to be a pivotal time period for the [end of the] Norse (Viking) reign. The stars aligned and what came forth was a story about a merciful Healer, a scarred man hellbent on vengeance, and several unrelenting Nordmen. 

What next? I’m writing the final book in the trilogy (hint: it’s about Deirdre and Alasdair’s child). Each story in my hundred series explores the powers of the Ancients: Healing (water), Feeling (fire), Seeing (Wind), and the grounding force of Earth. Each book is steeped in Scottish-Norse-English history. I’m looking forward to wrapping up my medieval Scotland adventure and excited to see where the next inkling takes me!

LRS: This sounds awesome! (And since I’m one of your beta readers and critique partners, I know just how awesome it really is…) Tell me more about this Silver Veil.

JMG: The Silver Veil is my primary paranormal element in the series. Loosely based on ancient Scottish culture and lore books, I delved into the world of The Silver Folk, or Ancients. I created a culture that could have very well existed, that utilized natural powers accessed across a veil between this world and the next. Healers harnessed their ability by their conduit of water. Feelers heightened their aura-sensing and emotion-feeling through fire. Seers experienced visions whispered on the wind. All three gifts found root in Mother Earth.

The Ancients of the isles are written as having been present in the isles for centuries. They pray at the circles of stones, but who or what built them is still a mystery. Heavily influenced by the Norse raiders, over time they have assigned Norse god names to their powers of Water, Fire, Wind, and Earth. Who has these abilities? Some, but not all. How strong are their powers? It depends on the person. The abilities are inherited, but who, what, and how intense the power is up to the gods.

In all three of the books of the soon-to-be trilogy, there is a clash and blend of cultures and religion: Christianity in the Scots (along with a hefty dose of superstition), the gods of the Norse culture, and lastly, the spirituality of the Ancients.

With any special ability, there are those who wish to do harm, though all the Ancients I’ve written (so far) use their gifts for good. However, there are drawbacks to these abilities —curses and “side effects.” You’ll need to read on in each of the books to see how our protagonists overcome these deficits and harness the inner power within them…


And of course, what kind of blog post would this be without a teaser? Here’s a bit of interaction between the hero and heroine…see if you don’t get swept away.

EXCERPT FROM A HUNDRED BREATHS

“I’m your wife, and still I am guarded?”

Simon shrugged though she couldn’t see. He’d given up on excuses. “What must I do to prove I won’t flee? I signed your marriage contract. I said my vows.” Her voice broke on those words. 

Was she crying? He laid the tray of food on her table and approached. He didn’t touch her, as much as he wanted to link his arm within hers as they’d done during their walks. He reached inside his ganache and withdrew her small, simple dagger. Unadorned with jewels or carvings, it possessed a bone hilt and a blade worn from use. Likely from tree limbs, flowers, and household use. His smith had sharpened it and cleaned the hilt. 

“Here,” he said, placing it in her lap. Gildy had retrieved the sheath from Gwyn’s laundered gown. 

Gwyn stared at it, her fingertips dancing butterfly wings hovering over the hilt. After a moment, she drew her hand around it and pulled it from its leather sheath. She rose and whirled on him, the dagger pointed out before her, barely pressing into his chest. 

He didn’t retreat as he met her fiery, misty gaze. 

She made no move to remove the dagger’s tip.

“A smidge to the center, Gwyn, and you’ll be square over my blackened heart.” He held her glower. The heat blazed in her entrancing blue eyes like the devil. He fought a smile.


Ready to order your own copy of A Hundred Breaths? You can find it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, The Wild Rose Press, iTunes, Kobo, or Google Play.

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Jean’s background is in science and she draws from her interests in history, nature, and her family for inspiration. She writes historical and contemporary romances and women’s fiction. She also writes articles for family-oriented travel magazines. When she’s not writing or chasing children, she enjoys tending to her flower gardens, hiking, and doing just about anything in the outdoors.