Heating up the Holidays Lisa Renee Jones/ Mary Ann Rivers/Serena Bell
Heating up the Holidays is not the usual compilation of holiday themed romantic stories. The sensual heat level enhances the romance. There are elements of forbidden love and risk in all three stories which increase the sexual tension between the heroine and hero.
‘Play with Me’ by Lisa Renee Jones is my favourite.
Dynamic characters Damion and Kali are both damaged from previous relationships. Damion is a sexy, dominant alpha male who meets his match in Kali, a strong-minded intelligent woman able to meet and exceed his expectations in every way.
Essentially a work based romance set around Thanksgiving the fast paced plot full of intrigue, conflict and twists is a great read.
The dialogue is witty. The love scenes are hot, realistic and emotional and their love story fraught with conflicts which make the happy ever after ending satisfying.
‘Snowfall’ by Mary Ann Rivers is the most unusual of the stories.
Jenny is an intellectual woman with a degenerative eye condition. Evan is an Occupational Therapist who helps her come to terms with her illness. Jenny is lonely and frightened and serendipity leads her to form an online liaison which involves more than conversation.
The main plot twist has dramatic irony because most readers will guess the true identity of her online lover before Jenny does.
Detailed the story’s pace is slow in parts.
Atmospheric the story portrays the naivety of Jenny and Evan and the love scenes and their emotional reaction to them appear more teenage than adult.
A distinctive voice makes this story an overall interesting read.
‘After Midnight’ by Serena Bell is lovely romantic tale
A reverse Cinderella where the hero Miles leaves just after midnight and Nora the heroine has no contact details for him.
Miles is under suspicion and has lost his fiancee. Nora has been deceived big time by a deceitful ex. Both attend a New Year’s Eve party under duress but find each other just before midnight. The kiss they share is memorable even after almost a year of separation.
The love scenes start on the phone when Nora discovers Miles’s identity and conclude when she pays him a surprise visit. Despite their physical insatiability lack of trust and self-awareness leads to broken hearts. Can they save their love at the next New Year’s Eve party?
Stupidity. Would have been much smarter of me to go into software development. Unfortunately, I’m
not big into reality. I prefer playing out scenarios that I want to happen, as opposed to the way they are actually happening. I can control my virtual world, unlike the real one…sort of. Often I conjure characters that take on a life of their own, and they tend to play the hand—guide me to tell their story.
What would you like your potential readers to know about J. Cafesin?
Truth? The best thing about me is that I care deeply about our world and the people on it…which is also the worst thing about me.
What inspired you to write ‘Reverb’?
Wanting to change the way men are. I want men to be more connected emotionally, more aware outside themselves, out of their own head, less on their own needs and more into the lives and world they touch. Like I said, I’m not big into reality.
Where do you create your wonderful characters and stories?
I have a 10’x12′ Tuff Shed I finished into an office space in my backyard.
What is your favourite time of day to write?
Morning to mid-afternoon, before the kids get home from school and all is lost to them—their needs, demands, desires, and I give up mine for theirs.
Tell us a little about ‘Reverb’.
James is a brilliant musician, beautiful, rich, successful, male—he got away with a lifetime of being self-absorbed, into his own head. He was always engaged with his muse, so he was never lonely, until he lost everything when his father had him set up and arrested in an attempt to save James from himself.
On his journey to freedom he encounters friends and lovers who give him a view of who he was before his year in hell, and opens his eyes to how selfish he’d been. James finally settles on the Greek island of Corfu, prepared for seclusion, but instead meets Elisabeth, and her one year old son, Cameron there. Together they help James recover from the trauma of his torture, teach him how spectacular opening up emotionally—truly sharing can be, and eventually he learns to trust and even to love. Reverb is romantic suspense and literary fiction, and really is like no novel out there, like nothing you’ve ever read.
Have you any tips for new writers?
Pick another career. Write for fun if you like, but don’t make it your day job, or be prepared to live poor, and childless, unless you have an inheritance, are prepared to live off your partner’s salary, or made enough on some dot.com so you don’t have to work for money anymore.
Have you written any other books?
Disconnected comes out next Spring. Ever fall in love with someone you know you shouldn’t…
Rachel and Lee’s troubled relationship is reflected in the land of perpetual sunshine as L.A. caved in on itself in the early 1990s with Rodney King, race riots, over-development and economic disparity. Disconnected reads like a modern Jane Austen: taut, smart, historical women’s fiction, a contemporary romance with a sharp edge, like the city itself
Where can your readers connect with you on social media?
Thanks for some really interesting answers JC. Here’s an excerpt from Reverb to tempt your potential readers:
‘First really hot day since I’ve been here hints at the coming heat of summer. I take the top off the jeep, go into Agios Gordios, get a baby seat for Cameron and secure it in the center of the backseat while Elisabeth gets him, and his many accoutrements ready for the short trip.
Cameron laughs for the first fifteen minutes straight, with the wind blowing all around him, raises his little arms up in the air and lets the wind sway them about. His unadulterated joy is infectious and spreads to me and Elisabeth, and we laugh along with him, and then together at the duration of his amusement.
The roads are narrow and winding. I take them slowly and with care. We get to Sidari in the early afternoon, stop in town for some bread, cheese and fruit, and bring it out to the sandstone cliffs overlooking the crystal sea where we lunch. After eating, we scurry down to explore the sandy cove inlets created from the eroding hills. The water is shallow and warm,perfect for Cameron to wade in and be amazed by the small fish swimming around his feet.
The three of us play for an hour or so, then find an isolated cove and set the blanket on the warm sand near the base of the hills so Cameron can take his afternoon nap. He’s asleep within moments of breastfeeding, his little head falling back away from Elisabeth’s breast, his mouth still in the motion of suckling even in sleep. She covers herself quickly, then lays Cam between us in the baby carrier and loops her arm through one of the straps.Finally, she lays beside her son and snuggles her body next to his, spooning him.
“I love the way he feels. Love how his warm little body fits perfectly along mine. I love the way he smells.” She presses her nose into the base of Cameron’s neck and inhales his scent. “I feel so unbelievably lucky to have him.”
I lay on my side, lean on my elbow and look at them. Cam’s curled into her, his pouty lips slightly parted, his fine hair just over the top of his brow, his full face peaceful in blissful sleep. His tiny hand grips his mama’s finger. Elisabeth’s cheek rests on the top of his head. Soft wisps of his hair brush her naturally ruby lips. She’s exquisite. Her sheer cottony dress and the maroon leotard she wears under it reveals her curvaceous form. Her hair is loose, cascades around her shoulders in soft waves. Her hazel eyes against her suntanned skin.
“Don’t stare at me like that. You’re embarrassing me.”
“Sorry. It’s just…you’re stunning. A Rubens masterpiece —‘Mother with Child.’”
“First, Rubens is not a compliment. Rubin, and his fat women.”
“Voluptuous. Not fat.” My eyes keep drifting to her ample cleavage.
“Whatever. Besides, look who’s talking. It’s ninety degrees out here and you’re wearing a long sleeve shirt. I’m not the only one with body image issues.”
“I’ll stop if you will.”
“Hiding. Take off your dress.”
Her eyes narrow but there’s humor in them. She sits up and very slowly begins unbuttoning the tiny row of beads down the middle of her dress. With each button the smile on her face broadens. “Come on, James. It’s your challenge. Are you going to pick up the gauntlet?”
I sit up and start unbuttoning my shirt. No one around. She’s already seen my wrists and had her say about them, but my heart beats hard, reverberates in my throat. I want to stop the game, but I keep unbuttoning. Because she is. Can tell she’s feeling the same way I am. Her eyes dart to the edges of our inlet checking for intruders.
When our clothing is unbuttoned all the way we both freeze, and then smile. Her eyes are fixed on mine, mine on hers—we’re connected, inside each other’s heads. Feel her trepidation, know she feels mine.
“All the way.” She leans over Cameron and unbuttons my shirtsleeves. When they’re loose, I let her pull my sleeves off me. The shirt falls off of my shoulders. I cross my arms over my chest and tuck my hand against my sides, hiding my scars.
“No. Let me see.”
“No. Not until you finish. Dress off.”
She slides her dress off of her shoulders and lets it fall to her waist, the skin-tight, spaghetti-strapped leotard essentially exposing her form. She doesn’t look away. She holds my stare, her eyes pleading with me to stay with hers and not scan her body. So I don’t. We keep our eyes locked on each other even while she reaches for my wrists, pulls my hands from my sides and turns them upward. I look down at the jagged red lines extending from my wrists to the middle of my forearms. There was so much blood. Lunch rises in my throat.
“Talk to me. Don’t let it swallow you up. Tell me.” She whispers.
“I couldn’t feel it,” I hear myself say. “I couldn’t feel anything by that point. Used a broken shower tile—took six months to scratch it out with my fingernail. Blood was everywhere, instantly, the water splattered it. I didn’t make a sound. Stood there and let the water run down my arms and watched my blood go down the drain. It turned the water red, the tiles red, gathered in the grout as it ran down the walls. But it was like watching it on TV because I couldn’t feel it. There was no pain. Don’t even remember thinking anything, except that I didn’t want the orderly to wake before the blood loss killed me. I have no clue how long I stood there blanked out like that before I passed out.”
She runs her fingers lightly over my forearm. “Feel this?”
“Yeah.” The scar’s numb, but around it tingles, touches pain as she strokes.
“Good.” She smiles, and then releases my hands. Elisabeth lies back down, flat on her back and closes her eyes. After a moment I do, too, and we both fall asleep until Cameron wakes us, crying to be fed an hour or so later.
I put back on my shirt, button only my shirtsleeves then lay on the blanket and watch her son suckle her. First thing she does after breastfeeding is put on her dress. I smile, shake my head knowingly.
She catches it. “Stop mocking me.”
“I’m not. I’m empathizing.”
She glances at me with her soft smile. “Then stop staring.”
“Sorry. You’re really quite alluring under your rather loosewardrobe.”
I can tell she’s taken aback. She looks away, out to the sea, but she’s smiling. Cameron starts toddling towards the water’s edge. She follows him down, and I do, too, and we play in the tide pools for another hour or so, and then head for home.
We stop in Ermones for supper. The small tourist town is virtually empty. Still off-season, though in just weeks from now it’s sure to be packed here. The sun is setting over the spectacular beach of golden sand. We sit on the patio of Café Odysseus, and watch the sunset after finishing the best grilled snapper I’ve ever tasted. We linger over our Espresso, mostly quiet, occasionally laughing at Cameron’s antics chasing and roaring at the seagulls until he’s finally worn out. He crawls onto me and grips my shirt firmly, sticks his thumb in his mouth and sucks contentedly.
Feels fantastic—warm, connected, valued the way Cameron nestles his sun-drenched body into me; his soft, fine mass of hair a pillow under my chin. Elisabeth is unbelievably lucky. I nuzzle my nose into Cameron’s hair and breathe him in as she had done. Clean. Fresh. New. I feel her watching and look at her. I smile. So does she. And the three of us are one. Connected. And I am complete.
I was asked to review Reverb by J Cafesin. Before my review here’s a little about Reverb which is definitely an adult read:
James Whren is brilliant, beautiful, rich, and taken—with his genius for creating music. Desired by many, he commits to no one but his muse. On the eve of his brother’s funeral his father shatters his life, and James is left abandoned in hell with no one real to save him.
His odyssey to freedom takes him beyond the looking-glass, to the reflection of friends and lovers. Humbled and alone, James escapes to the Greek island of Corfu. But instead of finding solace there, loneliness consumes him.
Until Elisabeth, and her son, Cameron…
Reverb is a love story, a psychological thriller paced with romantic suspense. It is a tale of redemption—the evolution of a modern man from solipsist to integrated awareness, the journey inadvertently awakening his capacity to love.
The plot successfully merges the genres of psychological thriller and romantic suspense. Written in both the first and third person Reverb’s unconventional writing style adds to its immediacy. For much of the story you are the fly on the wall and sometimes you don’t want to be.
Vivid characters drive the story forward and even the numerous flashbacks positively reinforce the plot’s momentum.
Realistic and savage many aspects of the story are tragic; James’ blighted childhood inability to connect with people and the loss of his muse. The fine line between genius and mental instability is explored. James relives the graphic torture he suffered during the past year ending with a failed suicide attempt. Edward James’ biological father’s manipulation of his life causes a tsunami of pain and angst.
The inclusion of the torture scenes is essential to the story development but I found them unpleasant, to read. I must emphasise Reverb is an adult read.
From the darkness hope and a life changing romance emerges when James meets Elisabeth. Love heals James’s damaged psyche but is it enough.
Reverb has a twisty plot even the well written ending is shadowed with past events which leave you wondering.
I was given a copy of Reverb by the author in exchange for an honest review.
United States of Love is a complex, sweet romance full of angst, humour and regret. A lovely story of second time around love for Anna and Tex who experience a rocky road trip to happiness laden with emotional baggage from their first loves.
Anna’s strength maintains a secure family life for her now teenage son Luke despite the weakness and ultimate betrayal of her ex husband Mark; juggling a variety of jobs she is rescued by a handsome stranger who makes her long for romance in her life.
Tex is a sexy, successful chef about to launch a new restaurant in Anna’s home town. After the death of his wife he shies away from commitment but Anna gets under his skin and makes him want more. Wonderfully supportive of Anna he still manages to hurt her.
The plot has all the right ingredients romance, intrigue and insurmountable conflict when Mark returns to the UK to reclaim his estranged wife. Mark’s character is so believable and so easy to hate. With every page turn the complexity of Anna’s life scuppers her budding romance with Tex and makes you wonder if they will ever reach their happy ending.
Great characters and an upbeat twisty plot a very enjoyable read.
Manhattan Millionaire’s Cinderella is not the modern adult fairytale I expected from the title and blurb.
Character driven; Cade and Nina are easy to visualise but hard to like. I usually empathise with at least one of the main characters in a romance but I didn’t. The globetrotting and unmitigated vitriol between Cade and Nina exhausted me.
Cade’s arrogance and tunnel vision combined with his Neanderthal insensitivity towards Nina: a woman he is supposed to care about makes him irredeemable in my eyes he doesn’t deserve his reluctant bride.
Nina is loyal to her family but shows no loyalty to the man she agreed to marry. I found this inconsistency in her character unsettling. She is supposed to be playing Cade to achieve her aims but she is the one doing the chores and losing her dignity.
I understood the plot although I had to re-read sections to do so. Clever but over complicated its explanations seem abstract and not supported by previous evidence earlier in the story.
This story is an acquired taste with memorable characters.
I met Janie during So You Think You Can Write 2012 and I am looking forward to her debut novel from Harlequin Intrigue Primal Instinct due for release April 2014.
My polishing of The Dangerous Gift is continuing slowly. Unfortunately I am easily distracted and keep writing book reviews or brainstorming ideas for my next project rather than grafting on my second story. I have set myself the end of October. That’s seven days Jane for it to be ready for submission. I always work best under pressure so hopefully I will meet my self-imposed deadline. 🙂
I have decided my next project will be a historical romance more details about this next week when I have decided between my four ideas and time periods. 🙂
The plan is to write my new story as part of NaNoWriMo in November.
‘Secrets of a Chalet Girl’ is a romantic love story full of angst and heat, sensitively written with likeable characters. Great to read on the bus to work but it may make you blush.
Alcohol fuelled truth or dare is a living nightmare for shy Flora the newest chalet girl. Emotionally shattered from her last relationship kissing a stranger is not what she needs. Unwilling to lose face or spoil the hen night Flora chooses sexy Zac and her world explodes.
Persuaded to spend the night the sexual interplay between Flora and Zac ignites as they play their own x-rated version of the game. Flora loses her inhibitions as she gives into Zac’s sensual loving but she runs in the morning when her fears return.
Flora and Zac’s story is full of torment. Zac comforts Flora when her old life intrudes and she seeks the oblivion of his loving. Flora and Zac deserve their happy ending but will they ditch past guilt and risk the unknown?
Set on islands shrouded in superstition and legend The Trouble with Mojitos is a romantic sensual read.
Rik’s tattoos, long hair and beard catapult him to the top of Kenzie’s men to avoid list until she discovers they are a disguise rather than a statement.
Kenzie’s serial bad judgement regards men means she is a disappointment to her mother and lives in her family orientated brother’s shadow. Vulnerable, honest and loyal Kenzie is likeable she wants to be respected for her life choices and not seen as a failure by those who should support her. Her latest job as a film location scout is make or break so she puts aside her mistrust of Rik and lets him be her exclusive tour guide.
Sexy and troubled Rik seeks the islands’ anonymity whilst he salvages his train wreck of a life. At an all time low when he meets Kenzie he can’t resist helping her. Determined she will succumb to their mutual attraction.
Vividly descriptive you feel the Caribbean humidity, visualise the crystal blue sea and scent the dense forest greenery. Kenzie and Rik’s make creative use of their idyllic surroundings when their volatile chemistry explodes into sensual loving.
Rik faces his past and keeps Kenzie at his side. My sigh of relief proves premature. The penultimate plot twist reveals Kenzie’s destructive past secrets.
The romantic ending is true Hollywood and a final unexpected twist paves the way for a further chapter of this modern fairytale.
Waking up in Vegas is a delightful romantic Cinderella style fairytale with a contemporary edge. The fairytale theme isn’t apparent at the beginning but once revealed the story becomes a charming read full of humour, romance and angst.
Phoenix at first glance appears the antithesis of Cinderella. She is forceful, streetwise and cynical. Her father like Cinderella’s is a man who loses his way when his soul mate dies, his emotional withdrawal coupled with a nomadic lifestyle unsuited to a teenage girl scar Phoenix and make her distrust the life and love Max is offering.
Max is sexy, handsome and arrogant but as his secret’s are revealed he is also a romantic, idealistic loyal man who accepts his duty without complaint.
The plot has many 21st century twists and conflicts for Max and Phoenix to overcome before they enjoy their timeless happy ever after.