A MelanieM Review : Under The Radar by Lillian Francis

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

It’s 1942 and after a sexual indiscretion, US Navy pilot Zachary MacKenzie is sent to serve in the Royal Navy’s submarine service—a shockingly harsh punishment for a man who loves to fly. The submarine is oppressive and frustrating for him, and he’s marked out from his peers, publicly by being American, and privately by his attraction to men.

The only bright spot is the company of his steward, sonar operator Gethin Llewelyn. Despite the differences of rank and background, they’re drawn to each other. Gethin’s integrity complements Zach’s casual joie de vivre, and soon the friendship develops into something much more.

As the threats of war increase, the submarine is plagued by potentially hostile vessels, and circumstances lead them to suspect there’s a spy amongst their own crew. Being forced even closer together as they work for the greater good reveals a new awareness, and Zach doesn’t know what is in more danger, the vessel under his charge or his heart.

I am a long time lover of historical novels, historical romance included, among them several stories of Lillian Francis.  So I knew I was in good hands historically speaking when it came to the era and details of naval mariner life found in Under The Radar by Lillian Francis.  As always the author ended up delivering so much more than I anticipated, astonishing me with new revelatory details about gay life from that time period, secret naval oddities and historic events that Francis folds effortlessly into her novel and romance, along with characters that show great growth and redemption.

It is the latter that had me most concerned and yet won me over the most. US Navy pilot Zachary MacKenzie is passionate about flying, his need for the sky almost as fierce as his need and passion for men, but homosexuality isn’t merely a sin, it’s against the law, ending careers and sending people to jail.  But Zachary has an arrogant, almost fearless streak that gets him in trouble time after time until one last scandal sees him bedding the wrong person and ending up with an enemy too powerful  for his friends and family to assuage.  It costs him his “sky and flying”.  He’s sent to serve in a submarine in England.

You would think he’d be more contrite but no.  The character of Zach barely acknowledges his part in all of it.  And I had a huge time connecting with him.  His attitude towards trying to seduce Gethin (a true innocent about his attraction towards men), his responsibilities on board, Zach was just too glib for me to like.  Especially in contrast to the realistic portraits of submariners on board and the life everyone was living there.  Luckily, the author proceeded to slowly have the character of Zachary MacKenzie undertake a much needed personal growth, his character changing as his relationship with Gethin turned from pursuit into friendship and his appreciation of the people and duties on boards shifted as well.

The life inside the small cramped “tin can” of a 40’s submarine is mind boggling.  The descriptions of how the men lived must have come from journals it feels so real and authentic.  That includes the fact that homosexuals serving in the navy (or later adopted outside military services) used a secret language called Polari to speak to one another, a sign of recognition and let each other safely know they knew you were  one of them.  Here the author uses it in a wonderful scene and it sent me scrambling to know more about a piece of history I’d never heard about. Astonishing to learn that the language has been in use worldwide from 1600 to 1970’s, until LGBT laws made the language less needed. And the use of stewards in a submarine! A place where headroom was scarce alone with personal space!  And the fact that carbon monoxide poisoning was a constant threat upon diving…well the facts of life on board just continued to amaze me.

So with such a rich, solid foundation and framework established with her history and naval and gay culture, Francis proceeds to give her readers a wonderful slow burn romance with elements of suspense and drama that keeps both the characters and reader deeply connected to the men and plot right up to the end.  It’s all the many interlocking relationships here, the friendships that add to the romance as well as to the structure and responsibilities needed to run the submarine. It’s such a tight knit community of men that spills from career into friendship and in this case (and others) into romance and love.

And at the end, I’d gone from not liking Zach very well to whole hearted admiration for the man he’d become.  That went for Gethin too.  What a journey this was, what a path both still had still ahead.

Under The Radar by Lillian Francis is such an incredible historic romance, one I absolutely recommend.  You  feel as though the era and these men come alive for you.    It’s a romance not to be missed!

Cover art: Tiferet Designs.  Love the sub emerging behind the character and the beards, which yes, many of the submariners had.  Its part of the story.  Wonderful cover.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal Link

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 407 pages
Published April 14th 2019 by Finally Love Press
Original Title Under the Radar
ASINB07QMM3H8R

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review : Montana Sky (Montana #6) by RJ Scott

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Well, even though the blurb for book 5 stated it was the end of the series, the author apparently had one more character calling out for his story. This is Martin, aka Jamie Crane, son of the despicable domestic terrorist who held Justin and Adam captive in their youth and started the whole chain of events that led to this series.

At first, I was surprised there was another book and then I got interested in the plot when I started reading it and then I was totally sold by the end. I’m glad RJ Scott decided to pull Jamie/Martin out of the shadows and give him a story complete with HEA.

What a heartbreaking character! So much so, in fact, that the early part of the story is downright depressing. Martin’s story is not pretty and the effect of being raised by Daniel Crane is evident in his psyche. Feeling undeserving of love, when the chance comes along in the form of Tyler Colby, the geologist who’s going to install seismograph equipment on the outlying acres of Crooked Tree Ranch, Martin pushes him away. He doesn’t deserve to be loved and refuses to take it when offered. Thankfully, the love and acceptance of the “family” at the ranch and the open-mindedness and kind heart of Tyler erode Martin’s stubbornness to a point where he realizes he can allow some of the pain of his past to flow away.

Tyler is smart, focused, full of information about rocks and the geologic history of the area, and highly attracted to Martin. Martin is confused, self-deprecating, depressed, and carries around the guilt of not stopping his father. In fact, much of his guilt is that he survived and escaped from the man but didn’t do more to help Justin and Adam. He doesn’t see that leaving the door open for their escape was huge and brave. Martin also has hidden depths—including an eidetic memory with an affinity for math and numbers. All he needs is time and love to heal his old wounds and RJ Scott gives him those in abundance.

The story is the perfect mix of angst and hope, heartache and heartwarming opportunity. I liked it much more than the last two or three stories. I felt transported back to the beginning of the series when the stories held me entranced and the resulting romances and everlasting love felt stronger. If, like me, you are a sucker for a beautiful story of hope and redemption, complete with a romantic HEA epilogue, you should really enjoy this finale to the Montana series.

The cover by Meredith Russell features two men, in keeping with the covers of the other books in the series. However, personally, I don’t care for the men chosen for this one. They are neither young enough nor attractive enough to match my ideal of Martin and Tyler.

Buy Links:
Book Details:
Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 143 pages
Published April 24th 2019 by Love Lane Books Ltd
ASINB07R447NZG
Edition Language English
Series Montana #6
 
Montana Series
 

Book #1 – Crooked Tree Ranch – Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal Link
Book #2 – The Rancher’s Son – Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal Link
Book #3 – A Cowboy’s Home – Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal Link
Book #4 – Snow In Montana – Amazon USAmazon UK | Universal Link

Book #5 – Second Chance Ranch – Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal Link 
Book: 6 – Montana Sky (series finale)

A Lucy Review: All My Fault by Michael Gouda

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Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5

John Grant. When they form a relationship, and move in together, pressure from others causes them to doubt what they have together. After being apart, the two find that maybe they are stronger together. That what they first perceive as a hostile place isn’t necessarily one.

I was really looking forward to this book because one of the main characters has cerebral palsy.  As a teacher who has had students with cerebral palsy, as well as the friend of an adult with cerebral palsy, I know how misunderstood and sometimes isolating the disease can be.  That being said, this fairly short book missed the mark in many ways for me.

Let’s start with the very beginning, when John is describing the meeting in the hospital between himself and William.  William not only has a chest infection but also has cerebral palsy (CP).  “… a brain disease for which there is no known cause nor cure…”  While it is understood there is no cure for CP, there is a known cause, which is “a brain injury or brain malformation that occurs while the brain is developing – before, during or after birth”. This definition is the same whether you look at cerebralpalsy.org, the Center for Disease Control, National Institute of Health, etc etc.  While John admits he got his information from the Internet, I’m not sure where that came from.  He also mentions, “Luckily, William’s condition was comparatively slight.  He could walk with the aid of crutches, though his muscular coordination was sometimes uncontrollable, and even if his speech was a little indistinct and slurred, I was able to understand him.”  Okay, sounds right. 

Yet then it turns out William was in a nursing home previous to being in the hospital and once he moves in with John he has carers come in that literally do things like help him with pajamas and put him to bed.  “Basically all this consisted of was changing William into pajamas after the briefest of washes and tucking him into his hospital bed.” It didn’t seem to fit, particularly when later William is able to sneak out of John’s high bed, cross over to his own room, get his own undies on and get into his own bed without the carer in the next room being aware.  All this yet he needs someone to tuck him into bed?

There is a lot of talk about whether a disabled person such as William is considered competent enough to have a relationship with a more able-bodied person such as John.  Again, he is supposed to be cognitively unimpaired, so I didn’t understand this.  A little speech issue would not make someone incompetent.

For his part, John like being with William but has a temper issue.  I understood it when John was so angry at the teenagers mocking William but his response was over the top.  There is a plot point of John being attacked that seems pivotal and then goes nowhere. There is an event that happens after William sees the doctor that made me go back and reread the chapters previous, trying to figure out if William was, in fact, deemed incompetent because he is certainly treated as if he is.

The connection between the two wasn’t strong enough for me to overlook the other issues of the story. We are told William loves John but I didn’t see it much. To be fair, the story is told from John’s point of view, so we don’t get William’s side as much. So, as much as I was hoping to like this story, it didn’t work as well as I’d hoped.  This is the first book I’ve read by this author and I would try another of his works.

The cover, showing William in a wheelchair looking upset, fit the feel of the story.

Sales Links:  MLR Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 51 pages
Published March 29th 2019 by MLR Press
ASINB07Q5KCPWQ

Love Suspense and Historical Romance? Check Out the Tour and Giveaway for Under The Radar by Lillian Francis

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Cover Design: Tiferet Design
 
Length: 138,000 words approx.
 
Blurb
 

It’s 1942 and after a sexual indiscretion, US Navy pilot Zachary MacKenzie is sent to serve in the Royal Navy’s submarine service—a shockingly harsh punishment for a man who loves to fly. The submarine is oppressive and frustrating for him, and he’s marked out from his peers, publicly by being American, and privately by his attraction to men.


The only bright spot is the company of his steward, sonar operator Gethin Llewelyn. Despite the differences of rank and background, they’re drawn to each other. Gethin’s integrity complements Zach’s casual joie de vivre, and soon the friendship develops into something much more.


As the threats of war increase, the submarine is plagued by potentially hostile vessels, and circumstances lead them to suspect there’s a spy amongst their own crew. Being forced even closer together as they work for the greater good reveals a new awareness, and Zach doesn’t know what is in more danger, the vessel under his charge or his heart.


“From Polari to Polaris, it’s never been just the nice girls who love a sailor. Lillian Francis effortlessly evokes the claustrophobia and camaraderie of life—and forbidden love—aboard a WW2 submarine.” – JL Merrow

Read Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Review here.  We highly recommend it!

 

Lillian Francis is a self-confessed geek who likes nothing more than settling down with a comic or a good book, except maybe writing. Given a notepad, pen, her Kindle, and an infinite supply of chocolate Hob Nobs and she can lose herself for weeks. Romance was never her reading matter of choice, so it came as a great surprise to all concerned, including herself, to discover a romance was exactly what she’d written, and not the rollicking spy adventure or cosy murder mystery she always assumed she’d write.


http://lillianfrancis.blogspot.co.uk/
Twitter @LillianFrancis_
Facebook
Facebook Author Page
Lillian’s Lovefest – FB group
BookBub
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Sign up for my newsletter
Email: lillianfrancis@rocketmail.com

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Love the Montana Series? Check Out the Review Tour and Giveaway for Montana Sky (Montana #6) by RJ Scott

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Buy Links:
 
Length: 43,000 words approx.
 
Cover Design: Meredith Russell
 
Montana Series
 

Book #1 – Crooked Tree Ranch – Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal Link
Book #2 – The Rancher’s Son – Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal Link
Book #3 – A Cowboy’s Home – Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal Link
Book #4 – Snow In Montana – Amazon USAmazon UK | Universal Link

Book #5 – Second Chance Ranch – Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal Link 
 
Blurb


When they spend time alone on a Montana mountainside will Tyler ever convince Martin that like sapphires, love is worth searching for?

Martin’s name was the very last on a kill list. The son of a murderer, he’s had no childhood; lost in a horrific holding pattern of death that turned his heart to stone. Thanks to the man who called him brave and spared his life, he no longer has to look over his shoulder, but he does have one question. Why did Justin let him live?

Tyler Colby has identified a major flaw in the seismic mapping system used to monitor earthquake activity. Sent to Crooked Tree by his employer, the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology, he is tasked with adding a new remote station to the network. The installation should be his entire focus, but the lure of sapphires and his attraction to a heartbroken young man called Martin is enough to make him want more.

 

USA Today bestselling author RJ Scott writes stories with a heart of romance, a troubled road to reach happiness, and most importantly, a happily ever after.

RJ Scott is the author of over one hundred romance books, writing emotional stories of complicated characters, cowboys, millionaire, princes, and the men who get mixed up in their lives. RJ is known for writing books that always end with a happy ever after. She lives just outside London and spends every waking minute she isn’t with family either reading or writing.

The last time she had a week’s break from writing she didn’t like it one little bit, and she has yet to meet a bottle of wine she couldn’t defeat.

She’s always thrilled to hear from readers, bloggers and other writers. Please contact via the links below:

 Read Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Review Here.  We Highly Recommend It and the Entire Series!

Giveaway

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Release Blitz and Giveaway for Escaping Camp Roosevelt by Bryan T. Clark

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Length: 87,000 words approx.
 
Cover Design: Karrie Jax
Blurb
 

“He’s a bad boy—cocky and damaged. So, why can’t I stop thinking about him?”


Broken Dreams
Sociable and unselfish, eighteen-year-old Tucker Graves loves two things—his darling little sister and the thrill of playing baseball. He never dreamed that he’d be homeless, but after a series of misfortunes, his life is nothing like he could have possibly imagined. Shocked and shattered, Tucker, his mother, and his baby sister now must brave the dangers of a dilapidated homeless encampment called Camp Roosevelt.


A Wounded Heart
Homeless since the age of fourteen, Dancer has mastered the tricks of living on the streets as a sex worker. The quiet, reclusive, and calculating ways of this twenty-year-old, green-eyed Adonis help him to survive. He hides his emotional scars from the world by interacting only with his clients, whose occasional bizarre requests he reluctantly fulfills. Dancer’s past has taught him to trust no one.


A Second Chance
When Tucker and Dancer come face to face on a stormy night, having been thrown together under the same roof, Tucker brings out a feeling in Dancer that he didn’t know still existed in him—desire. Neither man can deny the attraction he feels for the other. But some scars run deep, causing both Tucker and Dancer to question whether falling in love is even possible, especially when survival is on the line.


Bryan T. Clark is a multi-published, Rainbow Award-winning author and LAMBDA finalist.


*** One hundred percent of the royalties from the first year of this novel’s publication is being donated to the Larkin Street Youth Services/Castro Youth Housing Initiative. The CYHI provides transitional housing in the city of San Francisco, California, for LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness. Fear of being raped, abused, or murdered should not be a part of anyone’s youth.

 

 

Bryan T. Clark is a Lambda Literary finalist and Rainbow Award winning author of gay romance, and contemporary books. He is also a funny, loving, family-oriented, and proud member of the LGBT community. Behind his computer, working on his next novel, Bryan writes romance with an emphasis on moral dilemma. His multicultural characters and riveting plots embody real life, filled with challenges, personal growth, and, of course, what we all desire—love.


In his work, he is known to push the boundaries with brilliantly crafted stories of friendship, love, complicated relationships, and challenges all woven into a hard-earned happily-ever-after.


When Bryan is not writing, he enjoys reading a great book, traveling, lying by a body of water soaking up the sun, and watching a good movie while snuggled up with his husband on the couch with their loyal companion Nettie, the Sheepadoodle.


Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Bryan has made his home and life in the Central Valley of California.


Author’s website: www.btclark.com
Twitter: @BryanTClarkx2
Facebook: BryanTclarkauthor@facebook.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/romanceauthor/
Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/7875459.Bryan_T_Clark.com

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Check Out the New Book Release Blitz for Made For You (Love & Family #2) by Anyta Sunday

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Made For You by Anyta Sunday

Series: Love & Family #2

Publisher:  Anyta Sunday (self-published)

Release Date (Print & Ebook):

May 1st 2019

Subgenre: Contemporary gay romance, friends-to-lovers, age gap (May-December)

Links: https://www.anytasunday.com/projects/made-for-you/

https://amzn.to/2XIAB0a

Book synopsis:

Ben wants to find a new home.

Twenty-four-year-old Ben McCormick is the primary caregiver for his brother Milo after their parent’s death. A year into the job, he’s totally got the hang of it. Mostly. Sort of. Not at all?

Defeated and thoroughly chastised for his lack in parenting skills at teacher-parent night, Ben slumps away with the resolve to finally get his life sorted: be a better role model, and sell their parents’ house for a fresh start.

But first, he needs to spruce up his house to hit the market. He’s no DIY king, but Milo’s hot-as-hell woodwork teacher is…

Jack wants an old home to fix.

Thirty-nine-year-old Jack Pecker is waiting for the home of his dreams to come on the market in the summer. What better way to wait the interim months than working on a small renovation gig?

Only trouble is, the gig is for the McCormick brothers. And working in close quarters to red-haired Ben McCormick won’t be easy. Not with the attraction that simmers between them. Attraction Ben makes no effort to hide.

But Jack’s professional. Dating a parent is highly discouraged at Kresley Intermediate, and he’d never cross the lines…

Ben and Jack. Two guys searching for a home – a home that might just be where their hearts lead them.

~ – ~ – ~

Set in New Zealand, Made For You (Love & Family #2) is an MM gay romance featuring two guys at very different places in their lives – but both finding out they are looking for the same thing.

Can be read as a standalone.

Tropes: friends-to-lovers, slow burn, age gap, found family

Genre: New Adult, light-hearted contemporary gay romance

Teasers for Release Blitz:

Teaser 1 – Ben:

Where the hell is Block C?

I stall in the middle of a quiet quad, my stomach knotting, and unknotting, and knotting again. I’m already five minutes late, and I have no clue where I’m going. Like, I recognize half the buildings from when I went to Kresley Intermediate. The layout’s the same, but Block C? I didn’t even know there was a Block C.

Jesus, and it’s quiet. Have I got the wrong evening? Or have all the other parents arrived on time like responsible adults?

I breathe in a salty sea breeze and wish I were one of the seagulls circling overhead, that I could better find the block I’m meant to be in.

Mrs. Devon’s going to kick my ass. Unless she’s softened with age?

Maybe she’ll cut me some slack when I explain my car stalled up the hill and I had to drive in neutral—and terror—all the way here.

I can only hope.

What was my best bet? The longer block of brightly painted buildings? Or the shorter, taller block?

Looked like more lights were on in the taller block.

A path winds around a semi-cordoned off grassy-stretch, but I dash over the boggy grass. I’ll take every saved minute I can—

My foot skids through a slick patch, and I’m whipped onto my ass with a wet, heavy slap. I brace my hands against the cold ground, weeds and sludge slurping between my fingers.

With a shaky laugh, I push myself to my feet.

Some days sure are tests of fortitude.

“Shortcuts never end well.”

I whirl around. A dozen yards away, a male figure is casually leaning over a ramp leading to the craft rooms. The setting sun behind the building makes it difficult to see much.

I wipe the globs of mud from my good jeans. “You don’t say.”

Teaser 2 – Jack:

I study Ben McCormick. He must be a decade older than Milo, at least, and I’d guess a dozen years younger than myself. He’s tall, almost my height, but carries the leanness of a guy in his twenties. His muddy clothes stick to him, showing off an enviable frame. His hair is possibly the brightest ginger I’ve seen in my life, but the shock of color is tempered by dark eyes. Eyes that fasten to my jaw, weighted with emotion.

He shivers in the chilling night. The cold bites through my dry clothes. Can only imagine he must be freezing in his damp ones.

“Milo is a good kid.” There’s more to bring up, but first things first. “I’m out a set of jumper cables. I’ll taxi you home if you like?”

Ben sighs. “Thank fuck I didn’t have to beg.” He throws me a look as he snaps down the bonnet. “You had me on my toes a minute there.” He sidles past me, and I get a lungful of his clean scent.

I take a quick step back.

He retrieves a six-pack of Fanta from the back seat of his car and I lead him to the truck. “Where to?”

“Wainuiomata.”

Wainui?” That was a good hour from here.

A small—very small—spark hits his eyes. “I’m shitting with you. I’m in Berhampore, five minutes over the hill.”

He jumps into the truck. His fingers are trembling as he plants the soda between us and belts up—and I’m not convinced it’s all to do with the cold.

Teaser 3:

When I return, Milo has turned around, finally facing Ben. “I don’t want you to sell the house.”

“Look, it won’t happen immediately. But it will happen.”

“It’s not fair.”

“Not got the memo yet, bucko? Life isn’t fair.”

They stare at each other. I don’t want to break their moment, but a twig snaps underfoot.

Milo spots me and his body jerks with surprise. “Mr. Woodpecker?”

I cut Ben a look, and he pauses to smirk before turning his chin toward Milo. I think he might tell him to cut that shit out.

“Mr. Woodpecker holds your Fanta ransom.”

Or not.

I’m close to putting an end to this stand-off and barking orders. If Milo were my kid, I’d have his ass in bed by now, no media for a fortnight.

Not my kid. Not my kid.

Ben reads my face and his expression shutters. “Fuck. We’re pissing off your teacher. How much will it take to get you down?”

He pulls a wallet from his back pocket.

“Fifty,” Milo hollers.

“Five.”

“Forty.”

This is not actually happening. Ben’s parenting is unorthodox at best.

“Ten.”

“Thirty-five, and not a dollar less.”

“Fifteen, and you shower before bed.”

Milo leans over the edge and reins in his shout. “Do I have to do my hair?”

Ben looks like he’s about to give into a frustrated laugh. The poor guy is damp and muddy and miserable, and Milo needs to quit it.

I catch Milo’s gaze and hold it. It might not be my place, but I have to do something for Ben. My voice is steady and commanding. “Get your butt down here, boy. Or I’ll have you cleaning the class bins all week.”

“Fine. Fifteen bucks. I’ll do my hair.” He lowers a ladder and I brace the shitty thing as he climbs down.

Ben crowds close behind me, a block of warmth at my back. He lets out a breathy ‘thank fuck’ at my nape that feels a lot like brushing up against an electric line that definitely shouldn’t be crossed.

About Anyta Sunday:

A bit about me: I’m a big, BIG fan of slow-burn romances. I love to read and write stories with characters who slowly fall in love.

Some of my favorite tropes to read and write are: Enemies to Lovers, Friends to Lovers, Clueless Guys, Bisexual, Pansexual, Demisexual, Oblivious MCs, Everyone (Else) Can See It, Slow Burn, Love Has No Boundaries.

I write a variety of stories, Contemporary MM Romances with a good dollop of angst, Contemporary lighthearted MM Romances, and even a splash of fantasy.

My books have been translated into German, Italian, French, Spanish, and Thai.

Connect with Anyta:

Author website: http://www.anytasunday.com/

Author newsletter signup: http://www.anytasunday.com/newsletter-free-e-book/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/anytasundaybooks

Twitter: https://twitter.com/anytasunday

Instagram: https://instagram.com/anytasunday