I Can't Wait for... Isabelle and Alexander by Rebecca Anderson (Can't-Wait Wednesday/Waiting on Wednesday) #CWW #WOW @ProperRomance


Can't-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted here, at Wishful Endings, to spotlight and discuss the books we're excited about that we have yet to read. Generally they're books that have yet to be released. It's based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by the fabulous Jill at Breaking the Spine. If you're continuing with WOW, feel free to link those up as well! Find out more here.

Tag me on your CWW posts on Twitter (@wishfulendings) and I'll like and retweet!

(Sorry for this not being scheduled ahead! I've been taking these two weeks off to spend time with my family.)

I have loved almost every book from Shadow Mountain's Proper Romance line and they have some new books coming out this year that I'm am super excited about! This is a new author to join the line and the story sounds bittersweet, but hopefully one that will leave me inspired and happily content. It's my pick this week...

Isabelle and Alexander
(A Proper Romance)
By Rebecca Anderson
Adult Historical Romance
Paperback & ebook, 368 Pages
May 4, 2021 by Shadow Mountain

Summary

London, 1850

Isabelle Rackham knows she will not marry for love. Though arranged marriages have fallen out of fashion, hers has been settled for some time to combine the upper-middle-class wealth of her father's coal mines with Alexander Osgood's prospering Northern country textile mills. Though not a man prone to romantic gestures, Alexander is well-known as an eligible bachelor. His good looks have turned more than one head, so Isabelle is content to think of herself as Alexander's wife.

However, her marriage is not what she expected. Northern England is nothing like her home farther west in the lake country. Cold, dreary, and dark, the soot from the textile mills creates a gray hue that seems to cling to everything in the city of Manchester. Alexander is distant and aloof, preferring to spend his time at the mill rather than with her at home. Their few conversations are brief, polite, and lacking any emotion, leaving Isabelle lonely and desperately homesick.

Sensing his wife's unhappiness, Alexander suggests a trip to his country estate. Isabelle hopes this will be an opportunity to get to know her new husband without the distractions of his business. But the change of scenery doesn't bring them any closer. While riding together on horses, Alexander is thrown from his and becomes paralyzed. Tragedy or destiny? The help and care that Alexander now needs is Isabelle's opportunity to forge a connection and create a deep and romantic love where nothing else could.

(Affiliate links included.)


Will you be reading this one?

New Releases/#Free & Bargain Books for December 21st - December 27th #freebook #booksale #booklinkup #booklinky


Here are the New Releases / Free & Bargain Books, hosted by
Sharon over at Beck Valley Books, for this week! Check it all out below...

Authors please feel free to add your own books.
Readers please free to add your own finds.
(any genre except erotica welcome)

This weekly link up is hosted by Beck Valley Books & these awesome book loving blogs...

For Pre-orders post - PRE-ORDER / genre / title /author
For New Releases post - NEW / genre / title / author
For Free Books post - FREE / genre / title / author / end date 
For Bargain Books post - SALE / price / genre / title / author / end date
(Strictly no Erotica please.  Steamy romance is fine but watch those covers people, incase any underage child is viewing it!)

Here is this weeks awesome selection!


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Come back and check out the new selection every week!

Merry Christmas!


Merry, merry Christmas! It's my very favorite holiday and time of the year!! I hope you all are enjoying today, for those that celebrate! If you celebrate another religious holiday at this time of year, I wish you a very joyous time! If you don't celebrate anything, well, I'll still wish you a very merry day!šŸ˜€

We always spend a portion of the day with our small little family and then with extended family. This year is obviously very different. We've been in quarantine the past week to make sure we were good to be around family and have my parents come stay with us, particularly as they are in that high risk group. Usually we're running around like crazy and the kids are having friends over during the school break, so it has been an adjustment, but I feel like it's been good for us to just be together as a family and make some good memories. We've really felt the spirit of Christmas this year, have felt a stronger sense of gratitude for the simple and good things in life, and have had time to remember the reason we celebrate the holiday. 

Blessings to you all,

Tour grand finale for Clean Romance for Christmas + $70 Amazon Gift Card #Giveaway! #RomBks4Chris20 #cleanromance #sweetromance @prismbooktours

On Tour with Prism Book Tours

We hope you enjoyed getting a glimpse into these clean contemporary romances and grabbed some for yourself or as gifts for other romance lovers! If you missed any of the stops, you can see snippets, as well as the link to each full post, below. And don't forget to enter the giveaway below...

December 8th: Launch

December 9th: Krystal M. Anderson - Love's Sweet Return


Follow the Author: Website | Goodreads | BookBub | Facebook
Find the Book: Goodreads | Amazon

Snippet from the Excerpt (find the full post here):

Oregon, December 1869 

Charlotte Pullard opened her eyes to the gray of dawn, blinking slowly. Gradually, a beamed ceiling came into focus… but it wasn’t her ceiling. Whose ceiling was it? She closed her eyes again, thinking. 

She’d kissed her mother goodbye. Something about that felt sad, wrong somehow. Maybe she hadn’t wanted to leave. And her father… her father… 

December 10th: Julie Coulter Bellon - The Marquess Meets His Match


Follow the Author: Website | Goodreads | BookBub | Pinterest | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Find the Book: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Bookshop | Book Depository

Snippet from the Excerpt (find the full post here):

“In a hurry, my lady?” he said, arching his eyebrows and slowing his step. 

“I wouldn’t want to keep Lord Pembroke waiting,” she said, nearly pulling him along with her. 

But Wolverton stopped altogether. Since he still held her arm fast, she did, too, rather abruptly. Alice looked up in surprise. 

December 11th: Delaney Cameron - Because You Loved Me


Follow the Author: Website | Goodreads | BookBub | Facebook
Find the Book: Goodreads | Amazon

Snippet from the Excerpt (find the full post here):

Bridget smiled a little as she led the way to the stairs. “I guess that means my brother and sister are behaving. I hope you realize it won’t always be like that.”

“I’d be disappointed if it was. It’s natural for kids to test their limits.”

“Is that what you did?”

December 12th: Rachelle Paige Campbell - Love Overboard


Follow the Author: Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram
Find the Book: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Apple Books | Kobo

Snippet from the Excerpt (find the full post here):

Breathe in, breathe out. 

Caitlyn slowed her breathing and willed calm to her tingling limbs and her pounding heart. After disembarking the ship, she and Greg boarded a bus to the airfield. Her fear of heights didn’t extend to flying in commercial aircraft. During the thirty-minute drive, she watched a safety video and signed waivers about accidental death. She reconsidered her opinion. 

December 13th: RaneĆ© S. Clark - Finding Taylor


Follow the Author: Website | Goodreads | BookBub Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Find the Series: Goodreads | Amazon

Snippet from the Excerpt (find the full post here):

Gavin headed down to the restaurant to meet Taylor. He stuffed his hands in his pockets as he walked down, trying to contain the excitement at seeing her again. 

He arrived first and waved off the hostess’s offer to wait at the table, instead walking slowly around the lobby. He’d sat too much the last week anyway, not to mention the long flight from Rio. 

“Gavin?” 

December 14th: Chrissy Elliot - Finding Home on Winslow Island 


Follow the Author: Website | Goodreads | BookBub Facebook
Find the Book: Goodreads | Amazon

Snippet from the Excerpt (find the full post here):

“Is that him?” Gabby slapped Tessa’s leg like an overexcited Chihuahua. “That has to be him. Tessa, is that him? Tell me it’s him.”

Tessa laughed. “I told you I don’t know what he looks like.”

“Just look,” Gabby begged.

December 15th: Aspen Hadley - Suits and Spark Plugs


Follow the Author: Website | Goodreads | BookBub | Facebook Pinterest | Instagram
Find the Book: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Bookshop | Book Depository

Snippet from the Excerpt (find the full post here):

The sound of the door opening from the mechanic shop interrupted me and I glanced up to see Connor Hunt coming into the lobby.

He nodded at the phone in my hand. “Looking at anything good?”

“A physiology text book.”

“Sure. Good choice for some light reading on a snowy weekend afternoon.”

December 16th: Shanna Hatfield - The Christmas Bargain


Follow the Author: Website | Goodreads | BookBub | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram
Find the Book: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Bookshop

Snippet from the Excerpt (find the full post here):

Luke waited to catch a glimpse of his bride. Chauncy kept him updated on her progress during the week. Sincerely hoping his friend hadn’t exaggerated, Luke felt it best to give Philamena plenty of space to adjust to being off the farm and away from her father. 

Eventually, with enough time and encouragement, he hoped they could become friends. If they were stuck living under the same roof for goodness only knew how long, it would be nice if they could get along. 

December 17th: D. E. Malone - Love, Lies and Mistletoe


Follow the Author: Website | Goodreads | BookBub | Facebook | Pinterest | Instagram
Find the Book: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Bookshop | Book Depository

Snippet from the Excerpt (find the full post here):

Frustrated, Layla unpacked while the sour details of their first meeting stirred. 

It had been at a fundraiser for Friendship House, a social service organization in the Twin Cities, and had attracted the heads of companies and old-money philanthropists. The ballroom of the historic Rennselaer Hotel had been transformed to showcase Brant Johnsson’s famed lights displays. Its ballroom was all plaster moldings, ceiling frescos, and soaring balconies on four sides with polished pillars of red oak standing like silent sentinels overhead. Someone mentioned Brant had used more than 25,000 lights on the balconies alone. 

December 18th: Melissa McClone - Sweet Yuletide


Follow the Author: Website | Goodreads | BookBub | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram
Find the Book: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Bookshop | Book Depository | Apple Books | Kobo

Snippet from the Excerpt (find the full post here):

The interior was more impressive now with the 360-degree view. Floor-to-ceiling windows along the far wall showed an overcast sky and the Atlantic Ocean. Hope mentioned the place was on the beach, but Sheridan hadn't expected it to be backyard close. Halfway to the glass, she let go of her suitcase and left it behind. The wheels might damage the floor. 

As she stood at the window with a sense of awe, her breath left a patch of fog on the glass. Christmas lights and garland were strung along the deck. An unexpected sight with the beach grass, giving a touch of color to the sand below. Gentle waves rolled in. A couple with their dog walked along the beach. 

December 19th: Sarah L. McConkie - The Promise of Miss Spencer


Follow the Author: Website | Goodreads Facebook Instagram
Find the Book: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Bookshop | Target

Snippet from the Excerpt (find the full post here):

Miss Suzanna Spencer smoothed her slightly dirty work apron and checked the state of her unruly dark blonde bun. She reached for her basket and pressed deeper into her family’s large vegetable garden. The fall sun shone with a warm hue as she smelled the rich, musky earth around her. At the edge of the plot on a stone bench sat her sickly, coughing father, who dutifully inspected his radishes. 

She sat down a few yards from him and sunk her trowel near a carrot, unearthing a rock. Chocolate-colored soil flew all over the tidy linen cravat of Mr. Lacy, her father’s studying vicar, who followed directly behind her, weeding the beds as she continued her story. “You see,” she said speaking quickly and with such animated hand motions that Mr. Lacy had no choice but to submit to the barrage of soil now covering his vest. 

December 20th: Kimberley Montpetit - Mostly Dangerous


Follow the Author: Website | Goodreads | BookBub | Facebook | Twitter
Find the Book: Goodreads | Amazon Bookshop | Book Depository

Snippet from the Excerpt (find the full post here):

“Oh, my,” Sofia gasped under her breath as she suddenly, and irrevocably knew what it was like to be in Gavin Spencer’s arms. She could feel his hard chest muscles and the biceps outlined by his coat jacket. He smelled incredible, musky and masculine. A heady scent that made her so distracted she missed a step on the dance floor. “Oh, oops!”

“I’ve got you, Sofia,” he whispered into her ear.

“Sorry I’m distracted.”

December 21st: Kate O'Keeffe - Dating Mr. Darcy


Follow the Author: Website | Goodreads | BookBub | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Find the Book: Goodreads | Amazon | Bookshop | Book Depository

Snippet from the Excerpt (find the full post here):

How on this sweet Earth did I get myself into this position?

I’m not talking metaphorically or spiritually or anything like that here, you understand.

Oh, no. I’m being much more literal.

Right now, I’m all alone in the back of the limo, whizzing through the outskirts of Houston on my way to some ranch out in banjo territory. I’ve managed to remove my mic, which was a feat all its own, and now I’m wrangling with my Timothy leggings. With an almighty effort, I pull them up to my thighs, my dress bunched up under my chin. Ever bunched up a sequin dress under your chin? Not comfortable.

December 22nd: Regina Scott - Always Kiss at Christmas


Follow the Author: Website | Goodreads | BookBub | Facebook Pinterest
Find the Book: Amazon | B&N Apple Books Kobo Smashwords

Snippet from the Excerpt (find the full post here):

The snow had stopped falling, she saw as she ventured outside. Like muslin, white sheets draped tree and field. Their gardener had swept the snow off the pond, and the ice glittered darkly under the heavy sky. She pointed one group toward the sleigh that stood waiting, the horses’ breath fogging the air, and another group toward the lawn, where two industrious youths were already fashioning snowballs. Though he remained at her side, Julian kept glancing toward the pond. Skating, then. Gliding along, arm in arm, their steps matching as they used to do when they were younger. How romantic. Another shiver went through her. 

Tour-Wide Giveaway


One winner will receive a $70 (USD) Amazon eGift Card

Open to US and internationally to those who can receive the gift card through one of Amazon's branches
Ends December 27, 2020

Grab Our Button!

Have you read any of these or will you be?

I Can't Wait for... In Times of Rain and War by Camron Wright (Can't-Wait Wednesday/Waiting on Wednesday) #fiction #mustread #CWW #WOW @ShadowMountn


Can't-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted here, at Wishful Endings, to spotlight and discuss the books we're excited about that we have yet to read. Generally they're books that have yet to be released. It's based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by the fabulous Jill at Breaking the Spine. If you're continuing with WOW, feel free to link those up as well! Find out more here.

Tag me on your CWW posts on Twitter (@wishfulendings) and I'll like and retweet!

If you've never read a book by this author, you're missing out. The Rent Collector is still one of my all-time top reads and a book I regularly recommend, especially to book clubs. Camron's books always make me think as I'm reading his poignant stories that always touch my heart. His newest revolves around WWII. I tend to really enjoy stories set during that time because of the amazing people who fought and made hard choices that inspire me. It's my pick this week...

In Times of Rain and War
By Camron Wright
Adult Fiction, WWII
Paperback & ebook, 320 Pages
April 6, 2021 by Shadow Mountain

Summary

During World War II, an American soldier encounters a German woman living a secret life in bomb-blighted London.

In September of 1940, during the Blitz in London, Audrey Stocking is blending in with other civilians who are trying to survive the nightly bombings, but she has a secret. She's not British; she's German. Her fake passport and nearly perfect English allow her to blend in as she works hard to help evacuate British children into the countryside. Audrey longs to reunite with her family in Hamburg, but her double life, the bombings, and the watchful British Military Intelligence have forced her to stay put. And then there are the paralyzing nightmares . . .

Lieutenant Wesley Bowers, an American soldier training with London's Bomb Disposal Company 5, meets Audrey when an air raid leaves an unexploded bomb on the floor of her flat. She is attractive, intelligent, and compassionate, and there's an immediate connection between them. As they get to know each other, Wesley realizes Audrey is the one bright spot amid the war's unending bleakness and constant threat of death. But will he still feel the same if he discovers the secrets she is hiding? Secrets even Audrey is unaware of?

In Times of Rain and War is a gripping and heartbreakingly beautiful story about the strength and resilience of the human heart and spirit, reminding us there is always hope in hard times.

(Affiliate links included.)


Will you be reading this one?

Always Kiss at Christmas by Regina Scott for Clean Romance for Christmas (Excerpt & #Giveaway) #RomBks4Chris20 #cleanromance #sweetromance @prismbooktours

On Tour with Prism Book Tours

Welcome to today's featured book for this event! Read an
excerpt and enter the giveaway below, if you haven't already...

Always Kiss at Christmas
(Fortune Brides #7)
By Regina Scott
Regency Romance
Paperback & ebook
December 3, 2020

Summary

Mary Rose has one goal for her mother’s annual Christmas Eve party: convince her childhood friend Julian Mayes to marry her. She has always admired Julian. Surely one moment under the kissing bough will convince him they were meant to be together. Newly hired by a prestigious London law firm, Julian is ready to shake the dust of the countryside off his polished boots. But he’s always had a soft spot for Mary. As the danger to her future becomes clear, will one kiss be enough to prove to him how far he will go to protect her?

(Affiliate links included.)

Excerpt

The snow had stopped falling, she saw as she ventured outside. Like muslin, white sheets draped tree and field. Their gardener had swept the snow off the pond, and the ice glittered darkly under the heavy sky. She pointed one group toward the sleigh that stood waiting, the horses’ breath fogging the air, and another group toward the lawn, where two industrious youths were already fashioning snowballs. Though he remained at her side, Julian kept glancing toward the pond. Skating, then. Gliding along, arm in arm, their steps matching as they used to do when they were younger. How romantic. Another shiver went through her. 

“Cold?” Julian asked, taking a step closer. 

Not with him so near. Those eyes were all encouragement, his mouth turned up and head cocked as if he were ready to listen to anything she cared to impart. He was going to be an excellent solicitor. Already she wanted to confess her hopes. 

“It will pass,” Mary assured him. “Would you care to skate?” 

“Delighted.” He offered her his arm again, and they walked over to the wrought-iron bench overlooking the pond. Already another couple swept past on the ice. Grooms stood by to strap the steel blades onto footwear. In moments, Mary was out on the glassy surface with Julian at her side. The cool air nipped her cheeks as they set off. 

Oh, to always feel this free. It took the merest pressure to sail along. The evergreens alongside the pond flashed by, dusky against the silver of the pond and sky. Julian matched her stride, though he kept his hands behind his back, as if for balance. 

“Was it last year you raced me to the end of the pond?” he asked, a twinkle in his eyes. 

“And won,” Mary reminded him. 

“You’ve changed since then,” he said. 

Perhaps not as much as she’d thought, for the urge was impossible to resist. “I could still beat you.” 

“You’re on.”

Excerpted from Always Kiss at Christmas by Regina Scott. Copyright © Regina Scott.

Other Books in the Series

(Linked to an Amazon affiliate link.)

About the Author


Regina Scott started writing novels in the third grade. Thankfully for literature as we know it, she didn’t actually sell her first novel until she had learned a bit more about writing. Since her first novel was published, her stories have traveled the globe, with translations in many languages including Dutch, German, Italian, and Portuguese. She now has now published more than 50 works of warm, witty romance. She and her husband of 30 years reside in Washington State on the way to Mt. Rainier. Regina Scott has learned to fence, dressed as a Regency dandy, driven four in hand, and sailed on a tall ship, all in the name of research, of course.


Tour Schedule

(Posts go live on the day they're scheduled.)

December 8th: Launch
December 9th: Krystal M. Anderson - Love's Sweet Return
December 10th: Julie Coulter Bellon - The Marquess Meets His Match
December 11th: Delaney Cameron - Because You Loved Me
December 12th: Rachelle Paige Campbell - Love Overboard
December 13th: RaneĆ© S. Clark - Finding Taylor
December 14th: Chrissy Elliot - Finding Home on Winslow Island 
December 15th: Aspen Hadley - Suits and Spark Plugs
December 16th: Shanna Hatfield - The Christmas Bargain
December 17th: D. E. Malone - Love, Lies and Mistletoe
December 18th: Melissa McClone - Sweet Yuletide
December 19th: Sarah L. McConkie - The Promise of Miss Spencer
December 20th: Kimberley Montpetit - Mostly Dangerous
December 21st: Kate O'Keeffe - Dating Mr. Darcy
December 22nd: Regina Scott - Always Kiss at Christmas 
December 23rd: Grand Finale

Tour-Wide Giveaway


One winner will receive a $70 (USD) Amazon eGift Card

Open to US and internationally to those who can receive the gift card through one of Amazon's branches
Ends December 27, 2020

Grab Our Button!

What do you think of the book and excerpt for today's clean romance event post?

A Q&A with the author... Take it Back by Kia Abdullah #authorinterview #thriller #suspensebooks @KiaAbdullah @StMartinsPress


Welcome to my tour stop! I found the author interview to be really interesting, so check that out below...

Take it Back
By Kia Abdullah 
Adult Thriller, Suspense
Hardcover, Audiobook & ebook, 304 Pages
December 8th 2020 by St. Martin's Press

Summary

From author Kia Abdullah, Take It Back is a harrowing and twisting courtroom thriller that keeps you guessing until the last page is turned.

One victim.

Four accused.

Who is telling the truth?


Zara Kaleel, one of London's brightest legal minds, shattered the expectations placed on her by her family and forged a brilliant legal career. But her decisions came at a high cost, and now, battling her own demons, she has exchanged her high profile career for a job at a sexual assault center, helping victims who need her the most. Victims like Jodie Wolfe.

When Jodie, a sixteen-year-old girl with facial deformities, accuses four boys in her class of an unthinkable crime, the community is torn apart. After all, these four teenage defendants are from hard-working immigrant families and they all have proven alibis. Even Jodie's best friend doesn't believe her.

But Zara does—and she is determined to fight for Jodie—to find the truth in the face of public outcry. And as issues of sex, race and social justice collide, the most explosive criminal trial of the year builds to a shocking conclusion.

Early praise for Take It Back

"Riveting, thought-provoking legal thriller... Abdullah is definitely a writer to watch." - Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Abdullah has done an exemplary job of character development and is especially good at ratcheting up suspense as the trial proceeds." - Booklist, starred review
"A thought-provoking and sparklingly intelligent novel, with the welcome bonus of an unguessable ending." —The Telegraph

(Affiliate links included.)

Q&A with Author Kia Abdullah

In TAKE IT BACK, you deal with a challenging topic--a sixteen-year-old girl accuses four boys from her class in school of rape--how do you tell a story about such a traumatic subject while keeping readers turning the pages?

For me, character is so important because it does two things. Firstly, it forces me to approach a subject sensitively because I grow to care about my characters. I didn’t want Jodie – the 16-year-old girl in Take It Back – to be a loosely-sketched victim on which to hang my plot, so I took the time to interview survivors, counsellors, lawyers and police officers to make sure I was doing her justice.

Secondly, great characters make readers care about what happens and that’s what keeps the pages turning. The four boys who are accused in the novel are fully-fledged characters in their own right and so that setup is really compelling for the reader: “I care about both the victim and the accused here, but who is telling the truth?”

Where did the inspiration for TAKE IT BACK come from?

I wouldn’t say that Take It Back is an angry novel, but it does come from a place of anger. I don’t like to admit that because anger is such a primitive emotion, but I was angry for nearly my whole twenties. I was raised in a conservative Muslim family in London and struggled with the pressures it placed on me: to be quiet and not raise my head above the parapet.

At the same time, I could see how the mood in certain quarters of the media was turning against Muslims and that made me deeply uncomfortable because we are not the monolithic, malevolent entity we are sometimes made out to be.

Take It Back allowed me to examine this conflict in the context of a thriller. It’s a gripping courtroom drama at heart, but it also asks: how do we judge people based on what they look like or what they believe in? That is really the root of the novel.

How much of a challenge is it to write about potentially divisive social issues like racial and ethnic biases while keeping the tension high and driving the plot forward?

There is definitely a temptation to get on my soapbox and preach about issues that matter to me. The key is to trust the reader. I don’t need to spell things out or drone on for pages and pages. Sometimes, a simple action speaks volumes and I have to trust the reader to catch its meaning.

For example, in one scene, Mo (one of the accused) is embarrassed of his father who works as a butcher because of the dried crust of blood on the cuticles of his nails. I could have expanded on this for several pages – about how immigrant children can be simultaneously proud and ashamed of their parents, or the plight of the working class – but I trusted the reader to recognise the pathos of that moment. Cutting out extra detail helps to keep tension high and drive the plot forward.

I can’t take all the credit though. There were definitely parts where my brilliant editor stepped in to say, “Um, this might be a bit much, so pare it back a little”. I owe her a huge amount.

Zara, the heroine in TAKE IT BACK, is smart, strong and fearless. And she faces a lot of pressure from her family over her choices that break with tradition. How did you go about writing her?

Zara was tricky because when you’re writing a woman of colour – especially one from a South-Asian background – you feel the burden of representation because there aren’t many characters like this in fiction. On one hand, I wanted to be true to who and what she was, but on the other I didn’t want to play into stereotypes.

I’ll give you an example. Zara’s backstory involves an arranged marriage. On one hand, that plays into stereotypes of the South-Asian woman, but on the other, nearly every British-Bangladeshi woman from London that I personally know – certainly of Zara’s generation – had an arranged marriage (as did I by the way). Do I ignore this in favour of a false narrative?

Ultimately, I opted for what I felt was true to Zara’s character. She isn’t purely one thing (strong, fearless, invincible) or the other (quiet, docile, submissive); she’s a mixture of many things as are we all.

Tell us about your other passion--travel writing. How did you get started with that? And does it influence your fiction?


I’d always wanted to travel around the world so, after a year of intense saving, my boyfriend and I quit our jobs in 2014 to spend a year hopping across the South Pacific and South America. Along the way, we set up our own travel blog, Atlas & Boots, mostly as a way to keep our skills sharp. It quickly gained traction and continued to grow. (Before Covid hit, it was getting 300,000 readers a month!)

The travel writing is very different from fiction, although I’m sure that the first informs the second. For example, I might be out on a swim and notice how seaweed looks like a woman’s hair floating in the bath and use that description in fiction. I could have written my novels if I’d just stayed at home, but the writing would likely be flatter.

What is your writing process typically like? Do you set a goal of a certain number of pages per day? Start with an outline or see where the story leads you?

I am a planner for sure. I outline my novels before I write a single word. The idea of jumping in headfirst without knowing that I have a strong ending (or beginning and middle for that matter!) is just too scary. I do leave some room for the story to breathe so if it takes me in a different direction, I’m open to that.

In terms of the writing itself, I’m fairly regimented. I write 1,500 words a day and won’t stop until that’s done. Sometimes, this means that I end up with terrible words, but I leave that for the editing!

Do you have a routine or process that helps to get into a flow and stay productive when you’re writing?

I use Freedom to block out social media, which is absolutely intrinsic to my routine. Without it, Twitter would swallow hours of productivity.

Other than that, I try to get out for a short walk every day. Sometimes, when I’m warm and toasty in my study and it’s gloomy outside (as it often is in England), it’s hard to motivate myself to venture out, but I always feel better for it. Whenever friends tell me that they’re feeling a bit sad or sluggish, I always encourage them to get out and go somewhere green if possible.

TAKE IT BACK was first published in the UK in 2019--was the reaction to the book what you’d hoped for? Any memorable reader feedback?

I’ve been blown away by the feedback. I’ve been writing professionally for 14 years and would occasionally receive a message of appreciation for a column or a feature. With Take It Back, I got hundreds of tweets, emails and messages from readers who adored the book.

It’s especially heartening when South-Asian women get in touch to say that they really see themselves in Zara. This makes me pleased that I stuck to the truest version of her.

Another piece of feedback that sticks in my mind is from a reader who compared my work to Ibsen. That was rather nice to hear!

What’s coming up next that you’re excited about?

I’m gearing up for the UK paperback release of Truth Be Told in March 2021. It’s the follow-up to Take It Back and we will see Zara return to fight a new case.

Aside from that, I’m looking forward to the world getting back to normal – or some version of it. I really miss travelling. In December 2019, I was on a road trip through Florida, Georgia and North Carolina. I’d love to return and explore more of the area and beyond.

About the Author


KIA ABDULLAH is an author and travel writer. She has contributed to The Guardian, BBC, Channel 4 News, and The New York Times. Kia currently travels the world as one half of the travel blog Atlas & Boots, which receives over 200,000 views per month.


Will you be reading this one? What did you think of the interview?

Dating Mr. Darcy by Kate O'Keeffe for Clean Romance for Christmas (Excerpt & #Giveaway) #RomBks4Chris20 #cleanromance #sweetromance @prismbooktours

On Tour with Prism Book Tours

Welcome to today's featured book for this event! Read an
excerpt and enter the giveaway below, if you haven't already...

Dating Mr. Darcy
(Love Manor #1)
By Kate O'Keeffe
Chick-Lit, RomCom
Paperback & ebook, 307 Pages
August 25, 2020 Wild Lime Books

Summary

Is it a truth universally acknowledged, that a girl must compete on reality TV to win a modern-day Mr. Darcy's heart?

Emma Brady is having doubts about how far she'll go to promote her new activewear line. Sure, being on a reality show could be the big break her business so desperately needs, but is putting up with a Mr. Darcy wannabe worth it?

Sebastian Huntington-Ross is straight out of an Austen novel. But it's hard to focus on his chiseled jaw, broad shoulders, and wickedly sexy accent when all Emma can see is his pride, arrogance, and smug demeanor.

Sparks fly when Emma realizes Sebastian has his own agenda for being on the show. Will Emma hold fast and keep the aristocratic Sebastian at arm's length? Or will she put her reservations aside when the lines between reality and "reality show" start to blur?

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Excerpt

How on this sweet Earth did I get myself into this position?

I’m not talking metaphorically or spiritually or anything like that here, you understand.

Oh, no. I’m being much more literal.

Right now, I’m all alone in the back of the limo, whizzing through the outskirts of Houston on my way to some ranch out in banjo territory. I’ve managed to remove my mic, which was a feat all its own, and now I’m wrangling with my Timothy leggings. With an almighty effort, I pull them up to my thighs, my dress bunched up under my chin. Ever bunched up a sequin dress under your chin? Not comfortable.

As the car turns corners, my task becomes increasingly complex. Just when I scoop my butt up off the seat to pull the leggings up, the car turns, and I go crashing into the door. Luckily it’s firmly shut or I’d be splattered across the road somewhere.

By the time I’m halfway done, I’m hot and sweaty and panting like I’ve gone three rounds in the ring with Muhammad Ali. Or some other boxer from this century. (Fighting’s so not my thing).

My leggings finally in place, I heave a sigh of relief. Time for my Timothy top. I pull my sequined dress over my head, only for it to get snagged on my hair.

I tug at the dress. It pulls at my hair but it holds tight. I tug again. This thing is not budging.

The car begins to slow. I peer out the smoky glass window and see a large house at the end of the long drive. It looks like a ranch in the middle of nowhere.

Uh-oh.

Panic begins to set in. I need to get this darn dress off and pull on my T-shirt over my strapless bra, and I need to do it now.

As the car slows to a stop, I yank on the dress, hard, only to cry out in pain as my hair refuses to untangle itself from the many sequins.

I hear a car door thud closed and know the driver is about to walk around to open my door.

No! We can’t be here already!

Think, Emma, think!

In just my leggings and strapless bra, my dress acting as some sort of weird hair extension, I’m not only going to be the laughing stock of the nation, but I’m sure the Mr. Darcy wannabe will send me home before he can say “that one was totally cray cray.” Penny’s and my dream will amount to nothing.

With probably less than about three seconds to go before the driver reaches my door, I ditch the near-impossible hair issue and focus on getting my top on. I grab it out of my clutch and loop one leg through, then the next. With a strength that would impress Wonder Woman herself, I yank the top up over my thighs, and begin to loop an arm through one side. So far, so good. All I’ve got to do now is loop the other arm through and ...

The next thing I know, the wall I’m leaning up against gives way and I fall backwards out of the privacy of the limo and land with a thud on my butt.

Ooof.

As my butt meets the hard, unforgiving ground, the wind is instantly sucked out of me and the pain sears. Trying to regain my balance, my legs flail in the air like I’m some kind of insect that can’t get itself back up. At least twelve different cuss words erupt from my mouth. Cuss words my mother would blush to hear me say.

Everything goes quiet around me.

Smooth, Emma. Real smooth.

“Well, that was quite an entrance,” a voice says.

Excerpted from Dating Mr. Darcy by Kate O'Keeffe. Copyright © Kate O'Keeffe. Published by Wild Lime Books.

Other Books in the Series

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About the Author


Kate O'Keeffe is a bestselling author of fun, feel-good chick lit and romantic comedies. She lives and loves in beautiful Hawke's Bay, New Zealand with her family, two scruffy dogs, and a cat who thinks he's a scruffy dog too. He's not: he's a cat.

When she's not penning her latest story, Kate can be found hiking up hills (slowly), traveling to different countries around the globe, and eating chocolate. A lot of it.


Tour Schedule

(Posts go live on the day they're scheduled.)

December 8th: Launch
December 9th: Krystal M. Anderson - Love's Sweet Return
December 10th: Julie Coulter Bellon - The Marquess Meets His Match
December 11th: Delaney Cameron - Because You Loved Me
December 12th: Rachelle Paige Campbell - Love Overboard
December 13th: RaneĆ© S. Clark - Finding Taylor
December 14th: Chrissy Elliot - Finding Home on Winslow Island 
December 15th: Aspen Hadley - Suits and Spark Plugs
December 16th: Shanna Hatfield - The Christmas Bargain
December 17th: D. E. Malone - Love, Lies and Mistletoe
December 18th: Melissa McClone - Sweet Yuletide
December 19th: Sarah L. McConkie - The Promise of Miss Spencer
December 20th: Kimberley Montpetit - Mostly Dangerous
December 21st: Kate O'Keeffe - Dating Mr. Darcy
December 22nd: Regina Scott - Always Kiss at Christmas 
December 23rd: Grand Finale

Tour-Wide Giveaway


One winner will receive a $70 (USD) Amazon eGift Card

Open to US and internationally to those who can receive the gift card through one of Amazon's branches
Ends December 27, 2020

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What do you think of the book and excerpt for today's clean romance event post?