An Alisa Review: But To Love More by Foster Bridget Cassidy

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

 

Mel finally gets to go home for Christmas. In his absence, his hometown has changed, and Carlos, his best friend’s little brother, is all grown up and interested in a relationship. But Carlos has his work cut out for him since Mel’s having trouble seeing past the little brother part and his big brother, Aldo’s determined to keep them apart.

 

Mel hasn’t been home in more than six years and there have been a lot of changes since he left.  Carlos has always has eyes for his brother’s best friend since he realized he liked boys.

 

Carlos has a little work cut out for himself but it doesn’t take all that long for Mel to melt.  I had a little bit of a hard time with the “Love More” philosophy that Carlos had but hoped it works out for them.  It broke my heart to basically see Mel’s best friend, Aldo, throw away their friendship with his attitude and actions towards Mel in regards to his brother.  I can’t help but feel there will never be a way to really repair the damage he caused by his assumptions and actions.

 

The cover art by Freddy MacKay is great and gives a good visual for the characters.

 

Sales Link: Mischief Corner Books |  Amazon

 

Book Details:

ebook, ~15,000 words

Published: December 2, 2017 by Mischief Corner Books

Edition Language: English

Eli Easton on Writing, Future Stories and her latest novel Desperately Seeking Santa (author interview, and giveaway)

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Interview With Eli Easton
 

If you write contemporary romance, is there such a thing as making a main character too “real”? Do you think you can bring too many faults into a character that eventually it becomes too flawed to become a love interest? 

Yeah, that’s something I’ve learned writing romance. I think especially these days, a writer has to be so cautious about making a character unsympathetic, whether they say or do something assholeish, check out another guy, say something non PC, or whatever. It’s often bemoaned by other authors I know that you can’t make a character “real” or the audience complains. And I think that’s true. On the other hand, to me the thing I love about romance is that it’s a fairy tale that gives me hope and good feels. I’m not a fan of reading about a millionaire asshole or a cheater myself. In sum: you need to give a character a few faults to feel “real”, but you have to be very careful what those are. There’re a lot of no nos in romance.

What traits do you find the most interesting in someone? Do you write them into your characters?

I’m a very quiet person myself, but I admire people who can be the life of the party, always joking and witty. I can write that for a character on paper, but that’s far from who I am IRL. 😊

Have you ever put a story away, thinking it just didn’t work? Then years/months/whatever later inspiration struck and you loved it? Is there a title we would recognize if that happened?

I’ve had ideas I’ve shelved because I had other commitments or just didn’t quite have the whole thing settled in my head. A few examples. I wanted to write about a younger gay man who cooks for an older, widowed farmer, and they fall in love over these dinners. That eventually became “A Second Harvest”. And I also had on my idea list to write a “injured hands, bros help each other get off” fic at some point. That eventually became “Five Dares”. I do have some thriller novels partially completed on my hard drive, but not sure they will ever get done.

Have you ever had an issue in RL and worked it through by writing it out in a story? Maybe how you thought you’d feel in a situation?

I do often put my real life issues and worries into stories. Not necessarily to work out a solution, but just because that’s what’s on my mind. For example, I’ve thought about opening a farm sanctuary and my character, Eddie, is doing that in “Tender Mercies”. And I put on the poor guy my own worries about whether I could actually succeed at something like that. Usually my characters are luckier than I am at working out their problems. Ha. IRL we aren’t guaranteed a happy ending. So there’s something cathartic about that.

What’s the wildest scene you’ve imagined and did it make it into a story?

Hmm. There’s a massage at a sex therapy clinic in “The Trouble with Tony” which is pretty out there and hot. It’s got a medical kink angle. 😊 And in “Merry Christmas Mr. Miggles”, there’s a sex-in-a-library scene which was in my head before I started the book.

Ever drunk written a chapter and then read it the next day and still been happy with it? Trust me there’s a whole world of us drunk writers dying to know.

I’m not sure I’ve ever written anything drunk. I’m not a big drinker. I have one glass of wine and I’m snoring on the couch. So drinking and writing do not mix for me.

If you could imagine the best possible place for you to write, where would that be and why?

I’d go for a snowy mountain cabin with fireplace and amazing views. Give me that any day over a beach setting. There’s something about inclement weather that makes it cozy to stay in and write. If it’s too nice outside, I’m distracted.

With so much going on in the world today, do you write to explain? To get away? To move past? To wide our knowledge? Why do you write?

Well, first, to pay the bills. Lol. But I love the escapism of romance, both for myself and for my readers. Our politics are so heavy right now, and all the natural disasters, and people who want to take away other people’s rights. There’s so much hate an intolerance out there. So yeah, I hope my work gives readers a sense of hope and a way out of that reality for a while. But also, I’m proud to promote values that I care about in my work like diversity, inclusivism, basic kindness, and unconditional love.

What’s next for you as a writer?

In 2018 I plan to do only three Eli Easton romance books (I had 5 out this year) and I want to write a thriller under my other name, Jane Jensen. The romance books will include a Christmas book, another Mad Creek book, and then the 3rd is up in the air still.

Thank you so much for inviting me to the blog!

og!

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Length: 50,000 words approx.
 
Cover Design: Reese Dante
 
Blurb

Journalism student Gabe Martin gets his first professional assignment—to write about a Christmas charity dinner that benefits a children’s home. It sounds like a total snooze-fest until Gabe learns that the event’s Santa is a mystery man. He shows up in costume and no one has a clue who he is. Uncovering Santa’s identity sounds like the perfect angle to turn a fluff piece into serious journalism.

Mack “The Mountain” McDonall, at 6’10”, is University of Wisconsin-Madison’s enormous star wrestler. When Gabe first claps eyes on him at a wrestling match, it’s lust at first sight. Gabe’s friend, Jordan, sets up the pair on a date. But when Gabe chatters on about his plans for outing Santa, Mack goes cold, and their first meeting becomes an epic fail.

As Gabe researches the children’s home, he learns that Mack has secrets a guy famous for being a brute wouldn’t want the world to know. Can Gabe find his holiday spirit, write a killer article, win the heart of a surly giant, and give everyone a very merry Christmas?

 

 

November 22 – Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words
November 24 – Diverse Reader
November 27 – The Novel Approach
November 29 – Alpha Book Club

 
Author Bio
 

Eli Easton has been at various times and under different names a minister’s daughter, a computer programmer, a game designer, the author of paranormal mysteries, a fan fiction writer, an organic farmer, and a long-distance walker. She began writing m/m romance in 2013 and has published 27 books since then. She hopes to write many more.

As an avid reader of such, she is tickled pink when an author manages to combine literary merit, vast stores of humor, melting hotness, and eye-dabbing sweetness into one story. She promises to strive to achieve most of that most of the time. She currently lives on a farm in Pennsylvania with her husband, two bulldogs, several cows, and a cat. All of them (except for the husband) are female, hence explaining the naked men that have taken up residence in her latest fiction writing.

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An Alisa Review: Vampire Claus by Robert Winter

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

 

’Twas the night before Christmas, but what’s stirring is a little more dangerous than a mouse.

 

Taviano is nearly two hundred years old and never wakes in the same place twice. Weary and jaded, the vampire still indulges in memories of childhood Christmases in Naples. He lingers in shadow, spying on mortals as they enjoy the holiday.

 

When Taviano spots a handsome young man in Boston loaded down with presents and about to be mugged, he can’t help but intervene. Soon he’s talking to joyous, naïve, strong-willed and funny Paul, a short-order cook who raised funds to buy Christmas presents for LGBTQ children. Before he knows what’s happened, Taviano is wrapped up in Paul’s arms and then in his scheme to get the presents delivered by Christmas morning.

 

A vampire turned into a Christmas elf… What could go wrong?

 

This was a nice holiday story with a bit of a twist.  Taviano has pretty much hated himself since he was turned into a vampire.  Paul quickly brings some light into his world and he doesn’t want to let him go.

 

Paul hasn’t had the best time since coming out to his parents but he does have some support from the rest of his family and is just trying to get by on his own.  Even with this he has a positive outlook and it goes a long way to helping Taviano see himself in a new light.  I loved Paul’s view of the world and how he only saw the good that Taviano did and ends up giving Taviano a purpose.  We learned much about Taviano’s life before he was born and its mysterious connection to Paul but Taviano doesn’t think much on his past as he doesn’t feel worthy.  Taviano continues to prove himself when he defends Paul against the Boston vampires and comes out on top.

 

The cover art by Dar Albert is great and I love the visuals of the characters.

 

Sales Link: Amazon

 

Book Details:

ebook, 112 pgs

Published: November 15, 2017 by Robert Winter

Edition Language: English

An Alisa Review: Rockin’ the ‘Nog (Seasons of Change #2) by Michelle King

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

 

rocking-the-nogKyle had been riding in the back of Logan’s cab for months—so he could become a familiar face among Portland’s rent boy culture for his case. His job as a county prosecutor often made relationships difficult and his gayness continued to be a stressor, law of the land or not. More problematic, the driver of the cab Logan was triggering every bit of interest he had.

 

What he wouldn’t give to be able to touch and taste that guy…but no. He was there for his case. And getting a blow on the “down low”, while enjoyable, only took the edge off.

 

Twice a month, Logan drove the city attorney around Portland’s seedier streets, playing tour guide to the man he’d come to like. To really like, and wanted to “like” more.

 

Earlier that week, Logan had received a text canceling this Friday’s trip into “the Dark Side.” Canceling a cab ride was fine but he wasn’t interested in canceling his time with Kyle. He’d already formed a plan for their evening that began with a glass of eggnog.

 

Kyle plans on spending the holiday weekend pretty much drinking his trouble away while at home alone, however Logan isn’t going to let that happen.  These two had great chemistry in bed, but had trouble putting aside other worries in their real lives.  I think their time together just kind of became like an escape from everything else.

 

We get to see how both characters are thinking and feeling, but I wasn’t really left with the impression that I knew the characters all that well.  The story has connections to the author’s Portland’s Men series and I was thinking it would be more along those lines, but with all the background the story had these men didn’t really seem to be doing more than getting together for the night with only the slight possibility of a future.  For a short holiday read this is a nice story, I was just expecting something a bit different.

 

Cover art by GD Leigh is a great picture of Blau and Rob.

 

Sales Links: Loose Id | Amazon | B&N

 

Book Details:

ebook, 55 pages

Published: December 5, 2016 by Loose Id

ISBN: 9781682522646

Edition Language: English

Series: Seasons of Change #2, Portland’s Men

An Alisa Review: Night of the Blue Moon by Cassandra Pierce

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

 

night-of-the-blue-moon-by-cassandra-pierceScot North is intrigued when he is invited to a New Year’s Eve celebration on a private island. But his host is a mysterious man who seems to know a little too much about him…

 

In late December, Scot North is mysteriously summoned from his London home to a private island to ring in the new year with an unknown host. As midnight and the highly anticipated Blue Moon approach, Scot grows more and more baffled as to exactly why he’s been invited…and what is the connection between this New Year’s event and the bizarre encounter he experienced in an underground club the month before?

 

This book’s blurb left just enough questions to be intrigued.  Scot has been really out of it since his encounter a month ago.  He has also been having a mysterious man following him around and every time he tries to approach the man turns and disappears.

 

It’s a long road for Scot to find the answers to his questions, but he continues to hope that his host may have those answers.  Brendan is intriguing and does really well talking in circles when they meet.  You can just sense their loneliness; Scot has been trying to find someone while Brendan has kept himself hidden away.  They have a great connection and you can see the opportunity for the future.

 

The cover art by E Connors is nice and gives a nice setting for the story.

 

Sales Links: Dark Hollows Press | Amazon | ARe

 

Book Details:

ebook, 43 pages

Published: December 2, 2016 by Dark Hollows Press

Edition Language: English

An Alisa Review: The Gift of Casey by Shawn Lane

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

 

the-gift-of-caseyCasey Mackenzie unexpectedly finds himself in need of a “boyfriend” for his Thanksgiving dinner. For several months, Casey has been putting off family questions and invites with talk of his boyfriend “George.” Only now they actually expect to meet George at the holiday dinner.

 

George Accardo is Casey’s sexy neighbor who also happens to be an actor Casey once had a rather drunken rendezvous with. Casey has avoided George ever since. Until now.

 

Casey offers George fifty bucks to pretend to be his boyfriend for the duration of the Thanksgiving dinner. George has been intrigued by Casey since their first meeting but gave him space when Casey freaked. He accepts the job, though Casey assures him they will “break up” before Christmas.

 

Casey finds himself still charmed by George as Christmas approaches. Can George convince Casey he’s the gift he’s been hoping for before the holiday arrives?

 

This is really one of my favorite Christmas stories I read this year, just wonderfully heartwarming.  Casey gets in a jam when his best friend questions why his boyfriend won’t be attending Thanksgiving dinner.  The only logical answer is to have his neighbor, George, play his boyfriend, coincidently named George, right?

 

I loved these characters connections with each other.  Both Casey and George are really down to earth, attracted to each other but not quite knowing what to do about it.  George was wonderful just grabbing on to the opportunity to woo Casey with both hands now that he has it and Casey is willing to give him the chance so they can find when has been missing in both of their lives.  These two play off each other beautifully without having to be living in a perfect world bubble that is often seen in these types of stories.

 

The cover art is adorable and I love it.

 

Sales Links: JMS Books | Amazon | B&N

 

Book Details:

ebook, 51 pages

Published: December 10, 2016 by JMS Books

ISBN: 9781634862905

Edition Language: English

An Alisa Review: Defrosting Jack by Susan Laine

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

 

defrosting-jackJack Frost has a problem. He’s the mythical power behind the elements of ice, snow, and frost, but his fame is being usurped by a fictional Frozen queen. So Jack’s the grumpiest man in Yuleland and is in need of a naughty distraction.

 

Rudolph Hreinn has a problem, as well. Rudy’s in high demand on Christmas, but the rest of the year he’s scorned by everyone for being different. So Rudy’s the saddest man in Yuleland and desperate for a nice diversion.

 

When the winter sprite and the reindeer shifter meet, after a rocky start, a friendship of like minds is born. Attraction soon follows. But then strange things start to happen. Odd omens warn them of dire consequences for Yuleland and for the winter holidays should they fall for each other.

 

Can love unite two lonely men and save Christmas? It’s the most wonderful time of the year—for some frosty reindeer games.

 

Jack gives off the impression he prefers to be solitary in defense to being continually pushed away.  Rudy has been ridiculed for his heredity and prefers to spend most of his time alone.  They both are tired of denying their attraction for the other and quickly realize they are the perfect counterpart to each other (hot to cold).

 

Jack and Rudy stand by each other through the whole situation, fighting for their love in spite of the consequences that have been foretold.  We see both of their emotions and feelings pretty plainly even though Jack holds his tight to his chest when with others.  I was rooting for these two to get everything worked out and continue building their connection to each other.

 

The cover art is very nice and gives a good visual for the characters.

 

Sales Links: Siren Publishing

 

Book Details:

ebook, 126 pages

Published: December 7, 2016 by Siren Publishing

Edition Language: English

A Stella Advent Calendar Review Last Day: First New Year’s After the Apocalypse (2016 Advent Calendar – Bah Humbug) by Jessica Payseur

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RATING 3,75 out of 5 stars

first-new-years-after-the-apocalypse-2016-advent-calendar-bah-humbug-by-jessica-payseurWade Turner takes a drunk Jaxxon home after work hoping to get laid. What he gets instead is news that the world as they know it is ending—superbugs are sweeping the nation, leaving high death tolls in their wake, and the president has been assassinated. In this new storm of chaos everyone is referring to as the Apocalypse, Wade decides their chances are better if they stick together.

But when Jaxxon’s ex dies in a hurricane and his daughter goes missing, Wade watches the man he loves slip into despair. Desperate to save his relationship, Wade leaves in the middle of the night on a dangerous journey to save Jaxxon’s daughter—a child he’s not sure is even still alive. If he can put this family back together, maybe there will still be something worth celebrating in the aftermath of the Apocalypse.

I have to be honest and say I was ready to not like First New Year’s After the Apocalypse by Jessica Payseur, me and everything Apocalypse related aren’t on good terms. I’m not a fan of sci fi in general but the blurb  of this short made me curious. And I’m very happy I gave this new to me author a chance.

I struggled a little at the beginning of the story because I couldn’t feel a connection, a chemistry, between Jaxxon and Wade, and the way Wade basically made room for himself in Jaxxon life, made no sense to me. It was clear to me later that he felt something I totally missed and of course he took the right choice. I liked how the author kept me on my toes, I couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen next and I wasn’t expecting the ending but I so welcomed it.

I’m going to see what else Jessica Payseur wrote in the past, I’d like to read more of her works.

The cover art by Catt Ford is very fitting and for this I like it.

Sales Links

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BOOK DETAILS

ebook, 49 pages

Published December 1st 2016 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN 1635331935 (ISBN13: 9781635331936)

Edition Language English

A VVivacious Advent Calendar Review Day 26: Scrooged Over (2016 Advent Calendar – Bah Humbug) by David Connor

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Rating – 5 Stars out of 5
 
scrooged-overDeke and Dudley are radio jockeys, co-hosts of the ‘Deke and Dudley Morning Show’. When Deke starts of on his post-Thanksgiving anti-Christmas tirade Dudley the yuletide overachiever is shocked. An on-air argument leads to a wager that whoever gets more listeners on their side wins and the loser needs to spend an evening with a blind date of  the winner’s choice.
 
As Dudley gears up to prove Deke wrong, things don’t work out as planned – the Christmas lights don’t work, the cookies go bad, Dudley’s cats puke on his wrapping paper and his holiday cards don’t get sent out. As Dudley’s Christmas looks like it is headed towards disaster, he submits himself to the blind date, all the while hoping that the blind date will turn out to be Deke himself
 
This story makes for an awesome read. I loved how this story set the record straight on what Christmas is all about. I especially liked how the author managed to send out the message despite the consumerism that surrounds Christmas nowadays. I also liked the fact that this story manages to show us that Christmas means the same things to people even if they find themselves participating in its rampant consumerism, even if  they drive themselves crazy trying to get everything perfect because they work that hard because they want to make Christmas as memorable as they can for their loved ones. In this story there is a point where Deke tells Dudley that Deke and his siblings don’t let their parents buy them anything for Christmas because of the one Christmas they ruined by being very ungrateful, so nowadays they send their parents for a cruise every Christmas. This is followed by Dudley’s statement that probably Deke’s mother would love to give them gifts because that’s how she would want to spend her Christmas, making her kids happy.
 
I loved a lot of nuances in this story. I loved how Deke and Dudley end up together. I especially loved how Dudley stood up for himself and for his love when he made it clear that he wanted to be with Deke.
 
This story is really amazing. I loved the characters in this story. They were all very amazing, what with Dudley who fits the phrase yuletide overachiever to a tee and Deke who is busy rampaging against all things Christmas. Also, I loved Dudley’s grandfather he was like the cherry at the top of the cake pushing and prodding Deke and Dudley together without being subtle about it in the least.
 
I really loved Dudley. This story is written from Dudley’s perspective and by the end of the story I had fallen in love with his character, the guy who is trying so hard because he wants to make this Christmas special for the people around him.
 
This story is a splendid take on the spirit of Christmas and it will have you smiling till the very end.
 
Cover Art by Bree Archer. I loved the cover; it really captures the spirit of this story.
Sales Links
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Book Details:
ebook, 69 pages
Published December 1st 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1635331889 (ISBN13: 9781635331882)
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series2016 Advent Calendar – Bah Humbug

In Our Holiday Spotlight: Falling Snow on Snow by Lou Sylvre (exclusive excerpt/guest blog and giveaway)

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Falling Snow on Snow by Lou Sylvre
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reamspinner Press
Cover art by L.C. Chase

Release Date: December 23, 2016

Available for Purchase at

      
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About Falling Snow on Snow

Beck Justice knows holiday sparkle and snappy carols only mask December’s cruel, black heart. He learned that lesson even before he landed on the streets eight years ago, and his recent step up to a tiny apartment and a busker’s permit for Seattle’s Pike Place Market has done nothing to change his mind. But one day in the market, Oleg Abramov joins his ethereal voice to Beck’s guitar, and Beck glimpses light in his bleak, dark winter.

Oleg, lucky to have a large and loving family, believes Beck could be the man to fill the void that nevertheless remains in his life. The two men step out on a path toward love, but it proves as slippery as Seattle’s icy streets. Just when they get close, a misunderstanding shatters their hopes. Light and harmony are still within reach, but only if they choose to believe, risk their hearts, and trust.

Exclusive Excerpt

Lonely.

Most of the time, Oleg didn’t like to think that’s what he was. He was a lucky guy; he knew that. He had a big, loving, accepting family, and all of them had more to be thankful for than many. They’d come from cold, hungry, Russia in the 1990s, and unlike most refugees they had what were called by the welfare people they’d had to depend on when they first arrived, “marketable skills.”

What the family had was music, and it had opened so many doors for them. Now they had made their name in early music circles, had regular bookings for concerts and special appearances as a group and individually, and they had a home. Warm, large, but not so much so that it ever felt too spacious. Never empty. Air rich with the smells of stroganoff, borscht, shashik, or honeycake. Ready laughter, flash-in-the-pan tempers, small favors asked or done. And behind it all, in the Abramov home, always the music: scales ad infinitum, students repeating sixteen measures over and over slow to fast and finally tumbling into the following passage. Sometimes, too, whole beautifully sculpted pieces, perilous to the listening—or performing—heart.

Home, for Oleg Andreyevich Abramov was a luck-laden word indeed. For in Russia, beloved though the country might be in some ways, the family had endured cold and hunger and hate—the former because of political and economic collapse, the latter mostly because Andrei, Oleg’s father, was Jewish. Oleg, youngest by nine years, had only faint memories of the old country. A grandmother sang “Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel.” A tiny room held only a bed, where a faded and frayed diamond quilt of velvet, silk, and wool warded Oleg and his brothers against winter. Snowdrifts loomed taller than a little boy. His mother’s hands gamboled over the keys of a scratched piano. His uncle spun him in circles, smelling of bow rosin and lavender.

But distant and dim as those memories might be, they remained very much a part of Oleg, because the Abramovs had brought the old country with them to Seattle. The mild climate had done nothing to dispel the sense that a family huddled tight together would weather any storm.

One might have expected such a family to resent a child—the youngest and all but a straggler—who was different. But when Oleg had told his mother he was gay, she’d accepted it.

“Yes, I believe I already knew,” she said, her gently accented speech conveying as always a love of life’s surprises. “Or at least I should have.” She laughed and hugged him and set the tone of acceptance for the family. It persisted even now, after her death. He remained their Olejka, a precious member of the family.

Yes, his life was full of home—meaning love and warmth and acceptance.

But that didn’t eliminate the longing. Maybe it changed the shape of the emptiness, made it even harder to fill. Because Oleg wanted more of what he already had.

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About the Author

Lou Sylvre lives and writes on the rainy side of Washington State, penning mostly suspense/romance novels because she can’t resist giving her characters hard times but good love. Her personal assistant is Boudreau, a large cat who never outgrew his kitten meow, and he makes a point of letting her know when she’s taken a plot tangent too far. Apparently an English major, he helps a lot, but Lou refuses to put his name on the byline. (Boudreau invites readers to give their feedback as well!) When Lou isn’t writing, she’s reading fiction from nearly every genre, romance in all its tints and shades, and the occasional book about history, physics, or police procedure. Not zombies, though—she avoids zombies like the plague unless they have a great sense of humor. She plays guitar (mostly where people can’t hear her) and she loves to sing. She’s most often smiling and laughs too much, some say. Among other things and in no particular order, she loves her family, her friends, the aforementioned Boudreau, his sister George, and their little brother Nibbles, a chihuahua named Joe, a dachshund named Chloe, and a slew of chihuahua/dachshund puppies. She takes pleasure in coffee, chocolate, sunshine, gardens, wild roses, and every beautiful thing in the world.

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