Category Archives: Romance

Writer Wednesday: Hitting the Mark with Amy Durham

I am pleased to welcome author Amy Durham back to Writer Wednesday! Amy has a captivating new release, Asher’s Mark, a New Adult Romance book. Please check out the book’s description, excerpt and buy links after Amy’s wonderful guest post about doing the hard stuff.
by Amy Durham
My oldest son is a junior in high school. YIKES! It seems like just yesterday I was writing about him on my website as he was beginning middle school!
High school is a really fun stage in his life, as he’s discovering the things he loves to do, fine-tuning the things he’s good at, and beginning to make decisions about his future. I’m enjoying every minute of watching him become a young man.
When he was a freshman, he auditioned for All-State band for the first time. This is a rigorous audition process – that involves 2 different “cuts” – to determine the very best instrumentalists in the state. For his instrument (French Horn), only 20 players from the entire state are selected each year. He made it through the first cut, finishing 5th overall in our district. Already a tremendous accomplishment for a freshman competing against students who are sophomores, juniors, and seniors in high school. When he didn’t make it through the second cut to be one of the 20 selected, he was bummed. So was I. But not too terribly disappointed.

We had a talk about what it meant to do the “hard stuff”. Auditioning for All-State band, especially as a freshman, was hard. He didn’t have to do it. He CHOSE to do it. And choosing to do the “hard stuff” is how we improve, how we grow, and how we eventually “get there”. There’s such value in doing the hard stuff. When we stretch ourselves past what is comfortable or easy, that’s where we find who we truly are. Where, after several tries, we find success.

I told him it was sort of like writing a book. Writing a book is not easy, as all authors know. It’s difficult, toiling, gut-wrenching work. It takes a long time and can drain you mentally and emotionally. But authors choose to do it, because we know that by “doing the hard stuff” and stretching ourselves beyond where we’re comfortable, a book eventually comes to fruition. And with each “stretch” and each “completed product”, we grow and improve.

This idea is true no matter what area you pursue. So… dream big… run, don’t walk toward the things you want most out of life… even if it means you have to do the hard stuff. It’s always worth it in the end!

I agree with what Amy says in her post. It’s all too easy to slip into a comfort zone, doing the same thing day-after-day more because it’s comfortable than because it’s the best thing for us. I retired from the practice of law last year and threw myself off of a proverbial cliff to pursue a writing career. And boy, is it a hard thing! A full year later, I still feel like I’m trying to figure out my day, my routine and truly own my choice. But I can absolutely agree with Amy that doing the “hard stuff” is worth it. 

Back to Asher’s Mark, Amy’s newest release:

Asher’s Mark Book Description:
Asher’s Mark by Amy Durham
Grace Ballard has been
in love with Asher Howell for a long time. When she was sixteen, he became her
hero, and she fell head over heels for the boy with a ring through his eyebrow,
a big heart, and an unending sense of justice. But two years ago he left for
college without a backward glance, leaving Grace to wonder if she’d imagined
With no reason to wait
for Asher to return, Grace moved on, and Asher’s brother, Adam, stepped in to
help her pick up the pieces. But Asher never left her thoughts … or her heart.
Now, two years later,
tragedy brings Asher home and back into Grace’s life. The boy who left her
behind is now very much a man – a licensed tattoo artist, much to his parents’
dismay, and still carrying a major torch for Grace. But two years apart has
changed them both, and the things that happened during their separation may
create a divide that can’t be crossed.
Asher and his brother both left their mark on
Grace’s heart. Will Asher’s be able to stand the test of time?

**This New Adult romance features characters 18 years and older. However, this title does not carry a content warning, indicating readers should be over the age of 17.

Would you like a little preview? You’ve got it. Here’s an excerpt of Asher’s Mark:

I’m kissing Grace. Finally. Every molecule in my body screams with the rightness of it. How had I ever thought I could stay away from her? How could I

have put so much distance between us?
         I have no answers. All I know is that my arms are locked around her as her mouth
fuses to mine, and I never want to let her go.
         There are all sorts of reasons I shouldn’t be doing this… namely Adam… but I can’t stop. I don’t want to. Something in me shouts I saw
her first!
Two years of wanting her, loving her, have finally exploded between us. She’s in my arms. In my lap. Under my skin. In my heart.
She is everywhere and everything.
         Maybe to her it’s just a way to forget. A way to stop thinking about losing Adam. But I just don’t care. I don’t care at all.
         All that matters is that we are together in this moment.
         I pull back a fraction of an inch, still hugging her close. Her golden green eyes
are glassy and gorgeous, hazy with the desire we just stirred up. Strands of her auburn hair have escaped her ponytail and now hang wistfully around her
face. She’s so beautiful it makes me ache.
         She doesn’t look upset, which is a relief. I thought I’d gauged her reaction
correctly, but I’m glad to know I was right.
         She’d wanted to kiss me just as badly as I’d wanted to kiss her.
         I refuse to think too much about the ramifications of it.
         I run my hands up her back, from her waist to her shoulder blades, pulling her toward me again. Pressing a kiss to one eyelid, then the next, I take a deep
breath and speak.
         “Mom’s gonna text me any minute,” I say, already dreading the moment I’ll walk out her door. But I know it’ll be better to leave now, while things are still dreamy between us.
         Grace nods, letting her hands slide out of my hair, over my shoulders, then coming to rest on my chest. My stomach flips over.
         No one’s ever made me feel like this. Not even close. A simple touch from Grace does so much more than…
         I shove that thought way down and slam a lid on it, knowing that after all the stuff I’ve done the past year to try and forget Grace, I shouldn’t even be touching her.
        “I should go,” I whisper, leaning in to brush another kiss on her lips. “Before she gets antsy.”
         Grace smiles. “Okay.”
         “I don’t want to, though.” I grin back at her.
         All this talk about me leaving, and yet she’s still on my lap and my arms are still
wrapped around her. If I don’t go now, I might not ever.
         I stand up, taking her with me and placing her feet on the floor. I grab my button-up shirt from the love seat, throw it over my shoulder, and turn back to
face her. Our hands find their way to each other, fingers lacing together as we walk toward the door.
         I shift close before opening the door, intending to ask if I can see her tomorrow. On the bulletin board by the light switch, I see the picture… the picture I drew her just before I left for Flagstaff two years ago. Had it been
there the night before? I think back and realize it wasn’t. It must’ve been covered up by the big picture of Grace and Adam.
         Between last night and tonight she’d uncovered my picture. My mind races with what that might mean. I open my mouth, unsure what I’m about to say.
         But she speaks before I do. “We should probably talk about…” She doesn’t finish the sentence.
         But I know she means Adam.
         The guilt bounces around inside me, but I can’t find it in myself to regret what just happened. What I hope very much will happen again. Very soon.
         “Later.” I reach up and push a stray tendril of hair behind her ear, my hand lingering on the soft skin of her neck. “I know we’ll have to, but not right now. I just want to feel this right now.”
         She nods. “Me too.”

         Leaving her right then is about the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I do it, before something ruins what was absolutely the most perfect moment of my life.
*     *     *
If you’d like to check out more of Asher’s Mark, please use these handy buy links:

Author Amy Durham
After spending every work day with classrooms full of tweens and
teens, then going home to three boys of her own, two of whom fall into the
tween/teen category, you’d think that Amy Durham might like to leave the world
of teens and young adults behind. Not so!
Instead, she spends her spare moments – which sometimes consist of
waiting twenty minutes for her oldest kiddo to get out of band practice – with
her laptop and a multitude of teenage characters trying to navigate their way
through the twisted, difficult road of adolescence.
You might ask… “Why Young/New Adult Fiction”? Well,
because it’s what she knows. As a teacher and a parent, Amy is around teens and
young adults on an almost constant basis. And while it’s true they can be – ahem
– challenging, they are also full of life, vision, and dreams. And that’s a
really cool place to be.
Young Adult and New Adult Fiction allows young readers the opportunity
to find hope for the situations they find themselves in, find determination to
keep on going, and courage to pursue their dreams. It also allows adult readers
the chance to revisit the exuberance of youth, remember the joy and poignancy
of first love, and recall how it felt to dream with abandon.
Natalie Wright, P.C.




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Durham is a wife and mother, an author, a teacher, an avid reader, and a
musician. If she weren’t writing books, she’d be a celebrity chef!

You can touch base with Amy here:
Twitter – @amy_durham
Natalie Wright, P.C.




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Instagram – @authoramydurham


COVER REVEAL for The SWITCH by Dawn Pendleton and Andrea Heltsley

I‘m so excited to be a part of the cover reveal for this fabulous new book, The Switch, co-authored by Dawn Pendleton and Andrea Heltsley. Who doesn’t love a story about twins making the switch? Check it out:

The Switch, by Dawn Pendleton and Andrea Heltsley

The Switch
By Dawn Pendleton and Andrea Heltsley
   Honor and Faith haven’t switched places since they were kids. When Honor begs her twin sister to go on a date with her boyfriend, Cameron, Faith reluctantly agrees. The problem is that she lets things go too far. Now Honor and Cameron have broken up and he won’t stop calling Faith, claiming he felt something more for her than he ever felt for Honor. The scary thing is, Faith felt it too. She struggles to come to terms with her feelings for Cameron. There is one rule that sisters and best friends abide by, don’t date their ex’s.
   Honor has her own problems. Breaking it off with Cameron was the right thing to do, she knows that. His best friend, Parker, won’t leave her alone and forces her to talk about her feelings about the break-up. They spend a lot of time together and Honor starts to heal. Suddenly, Honor sees Parker as more than just a friend who cares. She wants more.
   Neither sister wants to complicate things further and cross those boundaries. They can’t stop their emotions for the guys in their lives. Turns out, the switch is the one thing that has changed them forever.

Review Friday: A Blue Man, Telepathy & Psychic Sex – Meet Keir

Today it is my pleasure to review Keir, by Pippa Jay. I’m going to start by saying that I highly recommend Keir for anyone who would like a fun, fast-paced read. Here is the summary from Goodreads:
Outcast. Cursed. Dying. Is Keir beyond redemption?

For Keirlan de Corizi–the legendary ‘Blue Demon’ of Adalucien–death seems the only escape from a world where his discolored skin marks him as an oddity and condemns him to life as a pariah. But salvation comes in an unexpected guise: Tarquin Secker, a young woman who can travel the stars with a wave of her hand.

But Quin has secrets of her own. She’s spent eternity searching through space and time with a strange band of companions at her back. Defying her friends’ counsel, Quin risks her apparent immortality to save Keir. She offers him sanctuary and a new life on her home world, Lyagnius.

When Keir mistakenly unleashes his dormant alien powers and earns instant exile from Quin’s home world, will she risk everything to stand by him again?

Author of Keir, Pippa Jay

Pippa Jay starts out the novel with a haunting scene of Keir, beaten and near death, being rescued by Quin. That opening scene haunted me and drew me in for more. I immediately like Quin, a strong woman with a penchant for getting herself into trouble. And Keirlan is immediately sympathetic.

The story unfolds and we learn more about each character – and their demons. Quin may seem like she’s got it all together, but she’s hunted and on the run. At first she is saving Keir, but by the end she is leaning on him as well.

I enjoyed the romance aspect of this book very much. Generally, I avoid romance novels because they too frequently follow a pat formula that is not to my liking. Keir was a breath of fresh air.
Brooke Shields & Christopher Atkins
in The Blue Lagoon. Keir is is what this
movie could have been if it was good!

The book is worth the read, in my opinion, just for the section where Quin and Keir are stranded together on a desert island. Remember the movie Blue Lagoon with Brooke Shields? Pippa Jay’s version is a steamy, hot adult version. The scenes contain sexual content, but it is not X-rated or pornographic. Because the characters (Quin and Keir) have had a sort of mind-meld thing, they are connected not just physically, but mentally as well. I’ve never read sex scenes where the characters were telepathically connected. Steamy!

Keir is a fun, satisfying read with an ending that left me wanting more – more of these characters, and more of the world that Pippa Jay has created.

I highly recommend Keir. You can pick it up at Amazon by clicking this button.

And to learn more about author Pippa Jay, check out my fun interview with her by clicking here.

I give Keir 5 Hawks, and can’t wait to read the sequel.

Writer Wednesday: The Awesome Pippa Jay, author of Keir

Pippa Jay, author of Keir

Every now and again, I read a book that is so intriguing – so unique – I just have to get to know the author a little better. I recently read Keir (my review coming this Friday), and when finished immediately contacted Pippa Jay, the author, to request an interview. To my delight, she said “yes.” For those of you have not yet “met” Pippa Jay, I’m excited to bring this newish author to you:

Natalie Wright (NW):  Keir is your most recently released novel – and I loved it! What was your inspiration for Keir?

KeirPippa Jay (PJ): Aww, thank you! It might sounds a bit corny, but the opening scene and idea for the book came from a dream. When I woke up with that image – a man crouched in the dark, beaten and broken – I instantly had a name for him, and I wanted to know how he’d gotten into that state because it seemed more like a tragic ending than a beginning. I think his appearance was inspired by a couple of characters from X-Men and from reading Stephen Lawhead’s Merlin as a teenager.

NW: The male lead character, Keir, was born blue. And then he got tattooed all over, not of his choice. So he is sort of strange looking, maybe even what some might consider ugly. Did you see this story as a beauty and the beast sort of story?

PJ: Do you know, I’d never even thought about it like that? But you’re right, it is that kind of story. Keir is very much based on the idea that only certain ‘types’ of human beings are considered beautiful, and that anyone outside those often unrealistic stereotypes is ‘ugly’. There’s an increasingly unhealthy obsession with attaining a media-hyped, photo-shopped ideal of the perfect body, and too often we judge by appearances. But beauty is only skin deep. While Keir’s society might have rejected him as a monster, Quin can see beyond that. In her eyes, he’s beautiful.

NW: Okay, the chapters where Keir and Quin are stranded on the deserted island together – HOT, HOT, HOT! I mean, this is what the movie Blue Lagoon could have been, if the people were grown up – and hot! And their intimacy, I love the way they come together not just in a physical way, but you added the dimension that they can read each other’s thoughts. So they’re actually feeling what the other feels. *Wipes the sweat beading on her forehead.* What I want to know, is did you have a real life inspiration for these wonderful scenes? Or is it your vivid imagination?

PJ: Thank you. Well, that’s a tricky one. I’d say a combination of both, although I’m not going to talk about some of the real life inspirations. *blushes* One of my favourite ways to spend the weekend is on a local beach, which is the main inspiration for the island of Kasha-Asor. But I’ve always had an obsession with psychic abilities, so most of my characters have been telepathic at least. Being in someone else’s head and knowing how they feel – and how you’re making them feel so much more intimately – would be an amazing experience. It makes it more complicated to write, but I think it’s worth it.

NW: And I have to know, is there a sequel in the works to Keir?

PJ: Yes, there is a sequel.

NW: YAY! *sigh of relief* I got attached to Keir and Quin, so relieved that you said yes!

PJ:  I’m editing it at the moment, but real life stuff keeps interfering! I very much want it to live up to any expectations that readers may have after Keir.

NW: I understand that problem completely! Do you have any news to share about your work?

PJ: My publisher recently announced that Keir will be coming out in print format in October, one of two titles fronting the return of Lyrical’s paperbacks. You can already pre-order it from Barnes & Noble. I’m so excited!

NW: That is exciting news. Congrats! For those of us that would like to check out more of your work while we wait for a sequel to Keir, what other books/stories have you published/ had published so far?
PJ: I have a scifi short story that I self-published through Smashwords – The Bones of the Sea – which is a free download. (*Click the link to go to Smashwords to download The Bones of the Sea for free.)

NW: What is your favorite scene from Keir and why?

PJ: Hmmm, that’s really, really hard. There are several I love, usually for different reasons. I think maybe the scene in the village where Quin sees Keir properly for the first time, and he comes to realize that she isn’t like everyone else he’s known. That she doesn’t care what he looks like and that she might actually be someone he can trust. That’s an important moment for them both.

NW: What genre do you write in?
PJ: Speculative fiction but predominantly scifi and generally romance.
NW: What works in progress do you have?
PJ: Aside from working on the sequel, I’ve a YA scifi novella out on submission at the moment, and another scifi romance novel currently entered into a contest. The last needs more work before I can submit it to publishers, but that’s my planned project for September. I signed up to do the August Campnanowrimo (my first ever nano, and with my three kids home for the summer – what was I thinking?!) with an outline for a steampunk superhero romance. A bit off the wall for me, but I like a challenge.

NW: Steampunk superhero romance?! Love it! Can’t wait to see that as I’m a tad bit obsessed with steampunk. 
Which character from your books do you like most / are most like?
PJ: Urgh, I HATE choosing favourites! I suppose, to answer both parts of that questions, I’d have to say Quin. Although she’s been through some terrible things, she hasn’t let it poison her and she still has a good heart and a lot of inner strength. A lot of her character and appearance is based on my teenage self. Although all my characters have some aspect of myself in them.

NW: If you walked through a portal to a dimension without books, what three books do you want to take with you?
PJ: Only three?! Could I not leave food and clothes behind and take more? *sigh* All right. Two of these aren’t even available yet but – Queen of Nowhere by Jaine Fenn, Twisted Metal by Liana Brooks (I had the opportunity to beta read that one), and The Crystal Singer Trilogy by Anne McCaffrey
NW: Who is your favorite author and why?
PJ: Again, only one? Jaine Fenn. She writes a mixture of tech and psi talents in her scifi books, which I love, and I aspire to do it as well as she does.
NW: How long have you been a writer?
PJ: For as long as I can remember. But I’ve only spent the last couple of years actively writing to be published.
NW: Do you have a “day job”? And if you do, what do you do when you’re not writing?
PJ: I used to be an Analytical Chemist but gave that up to be a stay-at-home mum once my first baby arrived. Now my youngest is set to start full-time school in September, so I get to make writing the day job. For now, at least.
NW: What is your favorite part of the writing process?
PJ: Finishing the first draft. I don’t plot, so reaching the end means I have all the essentials and key scenes down and in place. Until then, I don’t know where the story is going and what will need more work.
NW: Describe your perfect Saturday.
Full English Breakfast
Here you go Pippa, one Full English breakfast.

PJ: A lie-in (never happens). A full English breakfast. Some quality family time, maybe at the beach or on a walk, without anyone squabbling. Sneaking in some writing time without getting that ‘should you be on the computer?’ look from my husband. A quiet evening with said husband. Again, that rarely happens. By the time we get the kids to bed, we’re about ready to head that way ourselves.

NW: What is your favorite movie – the one you can watch over and over again?
PJ: *eyes Natalie* Just one? You make this so hard. I have four or five I watch repeatedly, but if it has to be one… A Knight’s Tale. Probably because Sir Ulric inspired some of Keir’s character in terms of personality.
NW: What is your favorite band or musical performer?
PJ: Oh, easy – The Rasmus. Love, love, LOVE their music and the lead singer’s voice. That’s a real inspiration to me. They even made the acknowledgements page in Keir for it.
NW: What do you hope readers will take with them from your writing?
That they will be thinking about the characters afterwards, and remember that beauty isn’t all about good looks. That society is too quick to judge and condemn simply on someone’s appearance. That life is precious and should be enjoyed, with no opportunity wasted.
NW: Let’s Get Silly Questions:
NW: Vanilla or Chocolate? 

PJ: Chocolate
NW: Mountains or Beach?

PJ: Both
NW: Double bacon cheeseburger or gluten-free, dairy-free vegan lentil burger?

PJ: Double bacon cheeseburger
NW: What three words would you use to describe yourself?

PJ: Stubborn, loyal, quirky

Thank you, Pippa Jay, for stopping by my blog and chatting.

I highly recommend Keir – check it out:

Buy links:
The Bones of the Sea is free at Smashwords –
Twitter:  @pippajaygreen
Facebook:  Keir – Beyond Redemption (book page)

Dear Lover: Show Don’t Tell Applies in Real Life as well as Fiction

This is a fictional letter to a fictional lover and not (totally) autobiographical.

Dear Lover,
     Editors tell writers to “show” not “tell” their story.  Lover, I want you to show me your love, not dribble out empty words.
     Don’t get me wrong lover, I enjoy hearing you say “I love you.”  But if you tell me “I love you” then proceed to ignore me while I try to talk to you about a difficult time I had at work then all I remember is how you were insensitive to my pain, not the beautiful words you said.
     They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  A look, a hug, a listen or a gesture to show you care can be worth a thousand I love yous.
Words can be cheap, but actions go deep.  Lover, don’t just tell me, show me.
     And by the way, doing a load of laundry or washing the dishes counts as a whole lot of show.
     Oh, and I love you.

What is your favorite way of being shown that your lover cares?  (Please, nothing explicit or raunchy – this is a PG-13 blog!)