National Pet Day Book Sale

April 11th is National Pet Day! Come celebrate with us!  Pets of all shapes and sizes enrich our lives and bring us joy.  Some of our favorite authors have included beloved pets as characters in their books.  After all, pets bring people together! If you enjoy stories that feature furbabies, fish and pets of a more unusual variety, have we got a sale for you! For a limited time, only on our website, the ebooks featured below are on SALE, at a discount of up to 75%.  Grab one – or more than one – of these today and discover your next amazing read!

And while it’s our party, we’d love to gift YOU with your choice of ONE of the books included in our Pet Day Celebration Sale.  Sign up for our newsletter to enter! Share the giveaway via the blog post for another entry!

We’ll choose four winners, one paperback book each.  Open Internationally. Follow this link to enter the GIVEAWAY:

AFTER THE SCRUM by Dahlia Donovan

Sherlock is one of those pets who is larger than life. He has more personality than some of his human counterparts. Sherlock is a service dog that recognizes impending anxiety attacks in his beloved human and quickly attempts to comfort or distract.Scrum

AT WAR WITH A BROKEN HEART by Dahlia Donovan

The pets of At War With A Broken Heart are some of my favourites in all my stories. We have Rabbit, who’s a fox, and Fox, who’s a rabbit. Still with me? I love the not-fox and the not-rabbit. And lastly, Haggard, a loyal and intelligent service dog, who lives for his human. Haggard was trained specifically to help a retired military veteran dealing with survivor’s guilt and post-traumatic stress. A blue merle Australian Shepherd. Beautiful, clever, and funny. He’s the perfect companion.

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THE TRAIL TO YOU by Lindsay Detwiler

My mastiff, Henry, appears in all of my novels simply because I love him. I’ve always wanted to write a book, however, in which he is a more integral part of the story. In The Trail to You, Henry is a main character; several of the chapters even follow his journey. When his owner, Ronan, returns from a deployment to find his best friend Henry missing, he will set out on an epic journey to get him back. Ronan doesn’t expect that Henry will lead him to the path he was always meant to find, however. Even though my real-life Henry has never been in this situation, there are many true-to-life traits of the character in the book. For example, my real Henry is obsessed with cupcakes and would love Cupcakes of the Abyss as featured in the book. This story celebrates the magic that happens when a human and dog bond, a magic I’ve come to know firsthand with Henry in my life.

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THEN COMES LOVE by Lindsay Detwiler

I used to say I was an aspiring crazy cat lady, but now that we have five cats, I think I’m definitely there. Charlotte Noel in my chick lit series Then Comes Love shares my love for cats. When she moves into the nursing home and her daughter is forced to adopt her five cats, chaos ensues. One of the scenes in the book where the cat is stolen by a neighbor is based on a real-life event with my own cat; a neighbor of ours ended up snatching our cat by mistake, and after looking for her for months, I happened to see her in their window.

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OUT OF THE PENALTY BOX by Genevive Chamblee

Hockey captain, Christophe Fontenot, is tall, blond, and sexy with a “massive” personality larger than the area he pulverizes his opponents. It stands to reason that this stacked with muscles hunk’s furry companion would be his four-legged match. Claire, a slobbering but lovable Bullmastiff, is a rags-to-riches canine sort of speak. Nearly starved and beaten to death as a pup, Claire was rescued by Christophe. With nothing in his heart to give other than love, Christophe spoiled her rotten with gourmet treats, hugs, and special-order plush toys. Now, Claire’s pastime consists of sunbathing by the pool and chasing Allie, Christophe’s pet gator. Yeah, it’s like that in bayou country. Read more about Claire in Out of the Penalty Box.

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BREAKING DOWN by Megan Lowe

In Breaking Down Buttons comes along at just the right time for Jax. In her he sees a lot of himself and identifies with her. At a difficult time for the youngest Ryan, she becomes the family he feels he has lost. The relationship between Jax and Buttons is pure love, of two “abandoned” souls coming together to form a family. I think it proves that pets are as much a part of a family unit as any person can be.

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BLUE, Dragon Runner Book 3 by ML Nystrom

Toto and Sam were my son’s childhood dogs. My son had turned four years old when Toto joined our family. She had such a variety of DNA, I have no clue of what breeds she had in her. Her version of a doggie hug included walking up to you, pressing the top of her head into your chest, and staying there until you petted her. She was just short of sixteen when she passed. Sam came into our lives with a sadder story. A rescue group found him in a box abandoned in a parking lot. By some miracle, he was still alive and won the doggie lottery by coming to live with my son and me. Sam was a boxer/pit bull mix and the biggest cuddle bug ever. Toto helped Sam tremendously on how to be a family dog. They would play hard in the backyard, eat together, and sleep curled up next to each other. Very often all four of us would crowd in my bed. They took up more than their fair share, and I learned to sleep on a tiny piece of the edge during those times.

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TIME FOR LOVE, Timeless Love Book #2 by Laura N. Andrews

Thor is loved by his two daddies, Nicholas and Caleb. A German shepherd cross husky, Thor’s light blue eyes can sparkle with mischief and shine with intelligence. He’s both cheeky and smart and loves to have his dads chase him around and dote on him. His favourite things in life are sleeping in their bed and running and swimming at the beach.

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OCEANS AWAY by Skye McNeil

In Oceans Away, Gideon Taggart has two Australian Shepherds, Diesel and Dallas. As an owner of a blue merle Aussie and lover of the cute wiggle of the breed, I had to incorporate a little of that into this story. Diesel and Dallas are quite the pair. They help Gideon around the farm with chores of chasing anything that moves. Both dogs also get into trouble when it comes to the woman in Gideon’s life: Ireland Leighton. I won’t give too much away, but I will say that slobber is involved with these cuties. Since Ireland and Gideon live on farms, animals are abundant, and pets are equally as involved in their day to day routine. If you’re an animal lover, Oceans Away is sure to bring a smile to your face and a desire to hug your furry best friend.

 

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HEARTS ABROAD by Skye McNeil

In Hearts Abroad, Callum Archer has a basset hound named Sherlock. As you can probably guess, the dog is slobbery, lazy, and loving to all. Once a hunter, Sherlock now spends his days lounging in his favorite dog bed near Callum’s desk and chases squirrels every so often. He prefers leisurely walks around the mansion or playing with Callum’s two daughters to hunting these days. Sherlock isn’t the only fun pet in Hearts Abroad, though. Enter Oreo, a black and white tuxedo kitty who also happens to love chicken lo mein and crawling wherever he desires. While Oreo belongs to Londyn Bellerose’s roommate, the chubby cat tends to walk all over Londyn and even hide in her luggage. He’s the epitome of a curious cat who just wants you to sit down long enough to pet him. Both Sherlock and Oreo bring the characters in Hearts Abroad to life. Plus, a little fur makes a story warm in all the right places. Check out Hearts Abroad to learn more about Sherlock, Oreo, and the humans who make the story come to life.

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FINDING MARNIE by MV Ellis

They say dogs are man’s best friend, and in Finding Marnie Luke puts that theory to the test when he gifts his love Marnie a gorgeous female puppy who is in need of a home. Marnie is going through a rough patch in her life, and wanting to help, Luke thinks the new puppy will be both a distraction, and a source of uncomplicated and unconditional love–something Marnie’s in desperate in need of. It’s fair to say that her life hasn’t been easy–in fact, at various points, including when she was very young, it has been marred by hardship and tragedy. As she points out, it wasn’t the kind of upbringing where she had a pet, or anyone, to love her, or whom she could love in return. Luke’s hunch is right, and Marnie falls instantly in love with her new dependent. If only opening her heart and accepting her love for Luke could be so simple.

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THE JEWEL CHRONICLES – DESERT JEWEL & SNOW JEWEL by Natalina Reis

In the Jewel Chronicles series, Princess Milenda has a special kind of pet. His name is Mjusi and even though in Afrika they call him a forest lizard, he’s actually a young dragon. Mjusi’s relationship with Milenda is so much more than that of a pet and its owner. They’re best friends who grew up together and would do anything for each other. He might be green and iridescent—and at times cough up smoke—but he was Milenda’s only friend growing up and was always there for her through thick and thin. They found each other in loneliness and filled an empty space in each other’s hearts. Such is the power of a pet’s love.

 

 

 

The Jewel Chronicles

 

Hot Tree Publishing Pet Day Sale

 

The Cruel Prince- Book Review

The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air, #1)The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I didn’t think I was going to like this book because every book I read that featured the Folk sort of rubbed me the wrong way. Let’s face it, fairies and all their kin are not very nice. But I was so wrong when it came to this book. I absolutely loved it. All the twists and turns, surprises, the very flawed characters who in spite of it all manage to be somehow likable. I don’t like bad boys but I got to say I’m in love with Carden and the love-hate relationship (mostly hate) between him and Jude. I admire Holly Black’s talent to move the characters and the reader from a totally magical, unfamiliar world to our modern, very familiar world and vice-versa. I admit, I was shocked by the bloody scene in the beginning (thinking, is this really YA?) but as you read on, you realize how necessary that brutal scene was in order to establish Madoc’s personality. Extremely well-developed characters, intricate plot, and tantalizing promises of things yet to come.
Already bought The Wicked King and I can’t wait to start reading it.

View all my reviews

Syrian Brides-New Release

 

Syrian Brides

New Release

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Book Blurb:

Syrian Brides, published on November 3rd, is a collection of eleven short stories about the lives of women in Syria. The author manages to make the reader laugh while introducing a range of serious topics, such as domestic violence and the role of women in the Syrian society.

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Author’s Bio:

Anna Halabi was born and raised in Aleppo, Syria. She emigrated to Europe in 1999 for her university studies. She currently lives with her family in Germany.
Syrian Brides is her debut as an author. The stories and characters in this collection were inspired by her personal experiences as well as her relatives, friends and TV Shows.

 

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Further details:

·  Paperback: 136 pages

·  Publisher: Independently published (November 3, 2018)

·  Language: English

Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic

Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic (The Dowser #1)Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic by Meghan Ciana Doidge

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I came across this book on accident and boy, am I glad I did. I got sucked in shortly after I started listening to it (I bought both the book and the audible book) and it was a roller coaster ride of epic proportions. Loved it and will be buying the second in the series as soon as possible. My only issue was that there wasn’t much romance in it. I had been under the assumption it was a romantic urban fantasy. But it’s not like I missed it too much. Loved Jade’s voice, her sister, the complicated relationships with the other magical beings, and ultimately the mystery all rolled up into a thick layer of chocolate frosting. Lovely. Excited I have found a new favorite author.

View all my reviews

The Slandering of Fairy Tales

A few days ago I was watching a news’ report about how several female celebrities are raging a war against Disney movies, claiming they’re sexist and promote rape culture (I’m paraphrasing). I get very upset when people bad-mouth Disney movies. I’ve been a groupie my whole life and before Disney, I was a fairy tale nut (still am) and I really don’t like the insinuation that I am supporting sexism by watching those magical creations of human imagination.

Fairy tales were written a long time ago when things were very different from today, but they are also works of fiction that ooze symbolism while trying to teach important lessons. No, I don’t think the lesson is “girls can only succeed if a man comes to rescue them”. Instead I’ve always thought that the message is that nothing can stop you from achieving your dreams, and that kindness and honesty are always rewarded. The men in the stories are the mere personification of the girls’ goals and not necessarily meant to be taken literally.

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I’ve been on a solid diet of fairy tales and Disney movies since I was a little girl and never once hoped or expected a man to come and make all my dreams come true. Yes, I dreamed of being loved (who doesn’t?) but I wanted to succeed on my own, have a career I loved, achieve my dreams. Never did I make plans for a big wedding and wished to stay home and take care of babies while my husband went to work and reached out for the stars.

Fairy tales don’t teach girls that they are helpless without a man. Cinderella dreamed of “moving up” and she did. The Little Mermaid wanted adventures, to learn new things, and see a new world. And she did.  Snow White (not my favorite character) managed to control seven guys on her own (Reverse Harem anyone?) and got rescued by a kiss. She was an unloved child who, like everyone else, needed to be loved and have someone to love. Love does not equal subjugation or dependency. It’s a vital emotion that all humans need for a happy life. Does it have to be the love of a man? No, but fairy tales are simplistic stories trying to convey a message in a way that will grab the attention of readers. The man in fairy tales represent dreams to be achieved. And yes, back when these stories first were imagined, the world was a very different place and marriage was indeed a female goal because there weren’t many other options for women. But what those men symbolized then hasn’t changed: they still represent dreams come-true, wishes realized–even if those dreams have changed substantially.

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Don’t underestimate your daughters. If you teach them right, they won’t think that the message behind a fairy tale is that the only way for a woman to succeed in life is getting married. I’ve been a feminist my whole life and I love fairy tales for what they are: magical stories about finding what we always dreamed of. Nothing more, nothing less.

What do you think? Do you think fairy tales and Disney movies are sexist and they give the wrong message to little girls everywhere? Or do you think they are simply stories that entertain and feed the imagination of children around the globe?

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The Big Baddie

This blog post was first published in MM Good Book Reviews

People who know me personally would be very surprised if they knew that I love to write evil characters. I’m not sure why that is, but I think it’s because of how satisfying it is to beat them at the end of the book. Maybe I’m unconsciously taking my revenge on bad people that I either know personally or heard of. After all that’s how a writer fights—with words.

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In Lavender Fields I wrote an evil angel who puts the two MCs through hell before getting defeated by the forces of good. In Infinite Blue I went with a more mortal version of antagonist. Even though not a supernatural being, this character wins the trophy for being the Most Wicked.

When I was a kid I loved watching scary movies, especially those with a paranormal or sci-fi background, but refused to watch movies where the big baddie was someone close to the MC—that scared the crap out of me and meant many sleepless nights. Because of this I have written Shahin’s mother as the antagonist—and not only because she doesn’t approve of his relationship with Cai. Her behavior from the beginning of the book is despicable for a mother. It starts with her refusal to accept Shahin the way he is and develops into something truly malevolent (don’t want to give any spoilers so you have to read the book to find out).

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Is there anything viler than someone who’s supposed to love and take care of you but instead chooses to hurt you? It brings a sense of betrayal along with whatever wicked thing they did. If you were ever betrayed by someone you cared about, you know how it hurts in more ways than one. It hits you right in the heart, burns you from the inside out, and often makes you blame or even hate yourself. That’s why I picked someone close to Shahin to be the big baddie in Infinite Blue.

Who are your favorite types of antagonists and why?

 

 

For the Love of Food

***Originally posted on Stories that Make You Smile blog***

Cai is a foodie who cooks to relax. Lyra, his slovenly sister, loves her brother and his delicious dishes. And Shahin, the man Cai loves, is a dedicated fan of raw meat, though he makes a valiant effort to cook something edible for his boyfriend.

Food plays an essential role in Infinite Blue. I’m not sure how it ended up being such a large part of the plot since that’s never happened before (coffee always, food not so much), but it did. In this book, food is the glue that holds the scenes and the characters together. The first (official) time Cai meets Shahin is at a restaurant where he unwisely orders mussels and spends the rest of the evening worried about making a mess out of himself.

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There are quite a few family gatherings around the dinner table for Shahin, events that generally don’t end well, and Shahin is formally introduced to Lyra at a dinner meticulously prepared by a very nervous Cai.

There are also romantic moments where food is merely the backdrop for some sweet and sensual encounters between Cai and wild man, Shahin.

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I’m from Portugal where food has a very important role in society. Much of our social interaction takes place around the table. In the U.S. people eat, pay the bill, and leave. In my country, restaurants are accustomed to having the same people around the table for a long time. Meals there last for hours. Even now, certain foods or dishes always bring back memories of my friends and family—delicious snapshots of my childhood. Maybe that’s why I added so many food references in Infinite Blue. These two guys are lonely people—for different reasons. I wanted to give them something that would evoke happy memories. In the end, life is made of those small moments, and I didn’t want Cai and Shahin to miss out on a single one of them.

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Infinite Blue- New Release

Infinite Blue

by NatalinaReis

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BLURB

When a shifter and a human are bound by fate, neither man knows if their connection will be enough to save not only their growing love, but their lives.

Shahin Halcón has been taught that if and when he meets his soul mate, he’ll know immediately. Always the rebel, he doesn’t believe it until the day he crosses paths with Cai, a full-human.

Plagued by unsuccessful relationships and heartache, Cai Banes’s life is quiet and unexciting. When he meets young and wild Shahin, his life is turned upside down, and he’s not sure he likes it.

But neither can deny the powerful pull that draws them together.

Old secrets and ancient myths about cross-species relationships plague their romance and threaten to put their happiness and life at risk. Will their love for each other be strong enough to survive?

Excerpt

Cai handed Shahin his helmet and stared up at the sky as if looking for something. “What are you looking for?” Shahin followed his gaze, but saw nothing more than the darkness of the evening.

“Nothing. It’s just—” Cai lowered his gaze to him and smiled. “Dumb really, but I’ve been followed by a hawk for a while now.” Shahin squirmed in his seat. “I know, stupid, right?”

“No, not at all.” It was so tempting to tell him. He bit his tongue. “Hawks are smart animals. Did you know they mate for life?” He had never really believed it until he met Cai. Now he was convinced the stories the elders had told the fledglings all their lives were actually true.

Cai shook his head. “I can’t say I know much about hawks,” he confessed. “They are magnificent, powerful birds, but I never heard of one following a human around. It’s bizarre.”

“Does it bother you?” He had to know.

“No, it’s just a little unsettling. Do you think it would attack me?” Shahin shook his head vigorously. “I mean, they are birds of prey after all.”

Shahin shook his head again. “No, it would never attack you. Ever.” He may have been a tad too emphatic. Cai looked at him, an eyebrow raised. “I mean, I never heard of a hawk attacking a human.”

The other man scratched his head, smoothing the few hairs that stuck up. “I hope you’re right.” He raised his eyes to Shahin’s. “I had fun. Thank you for inviting me, Sha.”

The casual use of the nickname made him melt. In one fluid movement, Shahin swung his leg over the cycle and crossed the few feet between them. He held on to Cai’s peacoat lapels, pulled him toward him, and covered the other man’s lips with his. The heat they produced ran quickly through him, like a tidal wave of desire, making him shiver and tremble. Cai pried Shahin’s lips open and caressed him with his tongue. Surprised and incensed by the unexpected heated reaction from serious, timid Cai, he pulled him closer, crashing his hard chest against the other man’s. Cai’s taste held a promise. Shahin had no clue what his mouth was promising, but he allowed himself to relax against him, enjoying every second of their tongues’ sensual dance.

When they pulled apart, their ragged breaths mingling, Shahin was not sure of anything anymore. He was normally the one in control but his companion had taken over, stunning him by bringing up feelings he was having trouble processing.

“Come over for dinner tomorrow.” Cai’s whisper surprised Shahin, who still held on to the coat’s lapel as if to a lifeline. “I’ll cook.”

Shahin gulped and nodded, unable to utter a word. Cai smiled and brushed his hand across Shahin’s face before turning around and walking into his house. Still stunned, Shahin didn’t move for a while, standing on the curb and staring into the empty space where Cai had been just a few moments before. Shahin had always enjoyed his freedom, the long string of lovers with no attachments, no responsibilities, but now he was thinking long-term, forever. It was a very scary idea.

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Reviews

“A brilliantly fast paced book, that kept me hooked with the intensity of the love that these two characters have for one another.

This brilliant book has reminded me of just how much I love fantasy romance novels and I absolutely cannot WAIT to read more from you!!! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ stars from me…..addictive, sexy and intense. Pure perfection”  (head_in_a_book_18)

“As a reader, reviewer, and, blogger, it is safe to say that when a certain type of indescribable book presents itself, said reader should probably throw-in the proverbial white-flag.  *Throws in flag*  So, speaking for this particular reader, as a book-hangover of all book-hangovers has currently made-itself-known, it is clear to say that..Infinite Blue is one of those rare types-of-books and has landed on my list of Top Books Read for 2018.  I am so glad to have read it..:)”      (Laura~Passion flower)

BIO

Natalina wrote her first romance at the age of 13 in collaboration with her best friend, Susana. Since then she has ventured into other genres, but romance is first and foremost in almost everything she writes. She’s the author of nine romance novels that reflect the amazing diversity of humankind and the universal power of love.

After earning a degree in tourism and foreign languages, she worked as a tourist guide in her native Portugal for a short time before moving to the United States. She lived in three continents and a few islands, and her knack for languages and linguistics led her to a master’s degree in education. She lives in Virginia where she’s taught English as a Second Language to elementary school children for more years than she cares to admit.

Natalina doesn’t believe you can have too many books or too much coffee. Art and dance make her happy and she is pretty sure she could survive on lobster and bananas alone. When she is not writing or stressing over lesson plans, she shares her life with her husband and two adult sons.

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Location, Location, Location

I tend to locate my stories in imaginary places. In fact, it had never occurred to me to set one of my romances in a real place until I started hearing about all the small-town romances that were becoming so popular. The first time I used a setting that really existed was in my first M/M paranormal, Lavender Fields, which I set in Wiscasset, Maine—a town I vacationed in a few times. With Infinite Blue, I was determined to have it take place in a more local setting. That’s how my characters ended up in Old Town Manassas, just a few miles from where I live and a place I visit often.

Old TownManassas, VA

I was surprised how much fun it was to use real places or those inspired by the real ones. Restaurants, coffeeshops, even the train station are all very real.

A friend’s sister’s place of work became the model and the location for Cai’s graphic studio. I had visited the studio once so I had a good feel for the layout. It’s a small place over a well-known restaurant by the old-fashion train station.

The coffeeshop they both frequent is also a real hub of artistic activity in Manassas. So is the ice cream shop they mention, Jitterbug. Even the hospital was inspired by a real one, not in Manassas but close by.

The most fun I had was “researching” the Mexican Taqueria they all meet one evening. I knew about the place but had never eaten there. I had to check their menu online and I was glad to find out that I had described the place and the food accurately. When I finally ate there, I ordered the same thing my characters did in the book and had the delicious (and not Mexican) zepolle for the first time ever.

One of the most romantic scenes is set in the parking lot of the station which means that now every time I go there (and that’s where I normally park my car) I have visions of Cai and Shahin involved in a kiss.

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Writing a Strong Broken Character

A couple months ago I finished writing a romantic comedy that is close to my heart for a few different reasons. If you have read any of my books you know they are not just about romance and happy endings (even though they definitely have both) but they normally touch on something a bit heavier, sometimes darker.

This one is no exception. I wanted to write a character who is being emotionally blackmailed. This was an important subject for me because it’s something I experienced personally. I had always considered myself a strong woman. Not the most assertive one, but emotionally strong. Until the day I discovered I had been manipulated by someone I considered my best friend at the time. Worse even this had been going on for years. I lived in a state of confusion and hurt without a clue of who or what was making me so miserable.

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Emotional blackmailers use traits of your personality (good qualities more often than not) against you. In my case, she used the fact I would do just about anything to help and/or defend a friend and turned it into a weapon against me. She also used the fact I choose to believe the best about people to make herself believable in my eyes. She was the victim, the one that needed help, everyone was out to get her. And I ate it up even when my conscience and common sense told me there was something wrong with her stories and/or her attitude.

When I began writing this story I wanted my main male character (who in romance are kind of expected to be alpha males) to be a victim of emotional blackmail. As I wrote the story I had the suspicion I was making him look weak, which was not at all my intention. Strength has nothing to do with this. The most put together, emotionally stable person can be the victim of one of these predators. Because make no mistake, these are predators as ruthless as any other.

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I submitted the manuscript thinking that I would get it back with the comment, “he comes across as weak”. I was right. That’s exactly what happened. So now I’m faced with the challenge of portraying someone who has been “broken” by his girlfriend but still seems strong and capable–which he really is. Not an easy task but I have all confidence I’m on the right track. I agonized over it when I was writing it the first time, I’m agonizing over it now as I revise it. I want to be true and fair to my MMC and not make him look like the weakling he is not.

I’m hoping I can make my guy just as strong and awesome as he is broken and confused. Have you ever have to write a character like that? What did you do to balance his state of mind with his personal strengths?