Monday, March 27, 2023

Chatting with author Darlene Fredette


I'm delighted to welcome Darlene Fredette back to my blog. Today, we'll learn her favorite comfort food and the inspiration behind her newest book, Trickster. Plus, she shared and excerpt and has an exciting giveaway you won't want to miss. 

Please help me to welcome, Darlene!

Hi, Darlene. Can you tell us what inspired you to write Trickster?

Jade Parsons, the heroine in Trickster, had cameo appearances in two other books in my Redford Falls series. She was supposed to get her own story a while back, but other characters kept butting in line. I was asked to join a group of six other authors to chat about writing and publishing. Someone brought up the idea of writing a series together about a magical mortar and pestle. I immediately thought of Jade and knew this would be her moment to shine.

How exciting! I love when characters from one book show up in there own books! Tell us, what are you reading?

I read and review books for my magazine, so I always have a book open. I finished a mystery suspense and just started a contemporary. My go-to reads are romance and I like a variety of romance categories such as contemporary, mystery, fantasy, paranormal, and western.

One last question. What is your favorite comfort food?

I had to answer this question because when I’m feeling under the weather, I always say “I’m having my comfort food to make me feel better.” I love rice and my favourite way to prepare it is mixed with soya sauce and chicken. Then cover it with mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese. Yum!

Thanks, Darlene, for taking the time to answer my questions!

Now, lets learn about Trickster!

About the book

Author: Darlene Fredette
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy Romance
Heat level: Clean/Sweet

Tagline: Can she heal the trickster before he breaks her heart?


Working for a top modeling agency is Jade Parsons’s dream job until her boss suffers a heart attack, and his son temporarily fills his position. Eric’s push-pull approach fuels her frustration. While anticipating the troublemaker’s imminent departure, Jade’s destiny is revealed through a magical mortar and pestle, leaving her heart tormented by whispers of a different fate.

World-renowned photographer Eric Martini returns home to restore his relationship with his estranged father, but wounds from the past haunt him. Enchanted by his father’s feisty assistant, he masks his heart and refuses to give in to desire. Convinced his destined future is already written in the stars—and doesn’t include Jade, Eric’s only choice is to walk away.

Will Jade and Eric find the courage to trust the mythical and smokey signs before their paths are severed forever?

Read it today!
Free on KU

Peek between the pages

Two weeks ago, Eric had aired his family’s dirty laundry. Probably unintentional on his part, but he revealed the reason behind his frustration toward his father, and Jade gave her unwelcomed input.

Today she exposed her secret, which felt exhilarating. “I only wanted you to understand you have to let go of the past to be present in the future.”

“And I’m trying. My father and I are on a good path to rebuilding our relationship and for that, I thank you. You forced me to see the error of my ways. I’m sorry for taking out my problems on you. You didn’t deserve my grouchy moods. I was rude and obnoxious.” He raised a brow. “Can you forgive me? Can we start over?”

Smiling, she squinted. “Who are you?”

He strode forward and held out a hand. “I’m Eric Martini. Nice to meet you.”

“No.” Jade pointed a finger. “You, sir, are a trickster.”

“Excuse me?”

“A trickster is someone who has many sides. Disruptive and helpful, troublemaker and hero. I know the man in the office. But I don’t know the man standing in front of me.” She clasped his hand, and a flurry of tingles surged the length of her arm. Warmth flushed her cheeks. Without thinking, she leaned up on her toes and kissed Eric’s cheek. “Thank you for being my hero today.”

Exciting news & Giveaway!

Trickster is currently on sale for 0.99 and is also available on KU.


But wait! There’s more! I’m giving away a free PDF copy of The Mortar and Pestle Preview. This preview document is similar to the free prequel offered in Book Funnel, but the preview has tons of additional fun stuff – more graphics, book teasers, an inside look at how the series came to life, and much more! To get this free preview, pop over to my author website and send me a note using the Contact Form on the left sidebar. No rafflecopter, no contest, and no drawing of names. Just send me a note through the secure Contact Form. It’s that easy!

About the author (bio):

Darlene resides on the Atlantic Coast of Canada where the summers are too short, and the winters are too long. Retired from a career as Director of Administration and Marketing, she now has eleven published contemporary romance books and is an artist at heart. When she isn’t researching her next book or having a pencil, paintbrush, or a cup of hot chocolate in her hand, she’s with her husband, daughter, and one-hundred-pound yellow Labrador.


Social media links:

WebsiteBlogAmazon Author Page CAAmazon Author Page USFacebook Page


Friday, March 24, 2023

Book Tour & Review: Julia and the Shark by Kiran Millwood

I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the JULIA AND THE SHARK by Kiran Millwood Hargrave & Tom de Freston Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway! 

About The Book:


Author: Kiran Millwood Hargrave & Tom de Freston (Illustrations)

Pub. Date: March 28, 2023

Publisher: Union Square Kids

Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook

Pages: 224

Find it: Goodreads 

"Deep beautiful, and true--a classic from cover to cover."
--#1 New York Times bestselling author Eoin Colfer

There are more secrets in the ocean than in the sky...
Ten-year-old Julia loves the mysteries of the ocean and marine biology, just like her scientist mother. Her family is spending the summer on a remote island where her mom is searching for the elusive Greenland shark, a creature that might be older than the trees, and so rare that it’s only been seen a few times.  
But the ocean is reluctant to give up its secrets, and Julia tries not to worry as her mother returns disappointed at the end of each day.  
Determined to prove that the shark is real, Julia sets off on a quest to find it herself, armed with a set of coordinates, a compass, and her trusty rain jacket.
She soon realizes that there are some journeys you shouldn’t go on alone. As Julia comes face to face with the dark and wondrous truths of the sea, she finds the strength to leave the shark in the depths and kick up towards the light.  
Through a unique blend of poetic prose and stunning illustrations, Julia and the Shark tells an unforgettable story full of dark depths and starry skies, courage and hope. 

This lyrical, deeply moving middle grade novel about one family’s fierce love and resilience is perfect for starting conversations about mental health and how it’s okay to not be okay.

My thoughts: 

Julia and the Shark is a lovely book that explores the emotions of a nine-year-old girl as she navigates the emotions of those around her. It’s a powerful, touching book with beautiful illustrations.

There are trigger warnings for this MG book: depression, over dose, bullying.

Thanks to the author and publisher for a review copy in exchange for an honest review.


Kiran and Tom
About Kiran Millwood Hargrave:

Kiran Millwood Hargrave is a poet, playwright, and author. Her books for children and young adults include the bestselling The Girl of Ink & Stars, The Island at the End of Everything, The Way Past Winter, and A Secret of Birds & Bone (2020). The Deathless Girls was her first YA novel. Her debut novel for adults is The Mercies (February 2020).

Between them, her children's books have won numerous awards including Children's Book of the Year at the British Book Awards, the Waterstones Children's Book Prize, the Historical Association Young Quills Award, and the Blackwell's Children's Book of the Year. They have been shortlisted for the Jhalak Prize, the Little Rebels Prize, the Branford Boase Award, the Blue Peter Best Story Award, Costa Children's Book Prize, and Foyles' Children's Book of the Year, amongst others.

The Mercies debuted at number one of the The Times bestseller list, is a Sunday Time bestseller, and was selected for the BBC Radio 2 Book Club. It is listed for the prestigious Prix Femina in France, and was called 'unquestionably the book of the 2018 London Book Fair' by The Bookseller.

Kiran lives in Oxford with her husband, the artist Tom de Freston, and their rescue cat, Luna.

Website | Twitter | FacebookInstagram | Goodreads | Amazon | BookBub


About Tom de Freston:

Tom de Freston is an artist based in Oxford with his wife, Kiran Millwood Hargrave. His practice is dedicated to the construction of multimedia worlds, combining paintings, film and performance into immersive visceral narratives.

Website | Instagram | Goodreads


Giveaway Details:

1 winner will receive a finished copy of JULIA AND THE SHARK, US Only.

Ends April 4th, midnight EST.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule:

Week One:


YA Books Central




IG Review



IG Post



IG Review



IG Review

Week Two:



Review/IG Post



Review/IG Post


A Blue Box Full of Books

IG Review/LFL Drop Pic


Country Mamas With Kids

Review/IG Post


The Momma Spot

Review/IG Post

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Guest Post: author Shirley Goldberg


I'm delighted to welcome Shirley Goldberg to my blog. Her newest book, REVAMPED, is part of an exciting new series and it's on sale this month for .99 cents. So without further ado, I'm turning over this post to Shirley!

Cherie asked me how I came to write Revamped.

Revamped is my first paranormal romance and my first participation in a multi-author series. What a great experience writing a book with six other authors by my side, metaphorically speaking.

We were all on Zoom, gathered around our computer screens discussing writing and marketing, when someone popped the question. “Why don’t we write a series together.” It took almost a year in the making, but here we are, three weeks away from the release of the first romance, Selkie, by Sydney Winward. An important note: Sydney did our beautiful covers.

Thank you so much, Cherie Colyer, for inviting me and my characters to your lovely blog. As a special treat, I interviewed Dante Allegretti, my main character in Revamped, part of the Mortar & Pestle series. All books in the series are standalone.

Dialogue with the Vampire

Shirley: I have a few questions for our readers. They’re curious.

Dante: I suppose they want to know about my special powers.

Shirley: Not really. They want to know what it’s like to date a vampire.

Dante: [eyes widen] I don’t talk about being a vampire. Not openly.

Shirley: The thing is, I wrote a whole book about you so it’s no secret, not anymore. For instance, one reader would like to know if you would suck on her neck. You know, take a little taste.

Dante: That’s ridiculous. First of all, I’m not that kind of vampire. I’m an energy vampire. Meaning I get energy from people by depleting their resources. Bored people are especially easy targets, but angry men run a close second.

Shirley: Men in particular? Why is that?

Dante: Their negative energy and muscle mass make them vulnerable.

Shirley: Do you still drain people’s energy?

Dante: I’ve stopped living that life. I attend DE meetings––that stands for Dis-Energy––two or three times a week. It’s not easy, but my energy sobriety is important.

Shirley: Anyone who dated you would have to respect the work that went into your lifestyle change.

Dante: I don’t want to be thought of as a vampire. I’m a normal guy with issues like anyone else. With a few differences.

Shirley: So it’s a daily challenge, right?

Dante: Absolutely. I don’t hang around with other vampires. Very few people know I’m a vampire, only a few close friends.

Shirley: Are you still at odds with your family?

Dante: I don’t think that will ever be resolved. [Swipes a hand through his hair.] You want to know something?

Shirley: Of course.

Dante: Energy vampires don’t have much fun. You can’t hang out with regular people. It’s too tempting and how can you look yourself in the face if you’re draining your friends.

Shirley: That sounds gross, using your friends.

Dante. Yeah, that’s why I never had friends. Until I met Groucho, my best friend. But I knew the second I met him he was a vampire.

Shirley: What is it, a sixth sense?

Dante: Sort of. When it comes to friends, you’re limited to the few energy vampires around and no one wants friends who literally suck. That’s why I rejected the whole lifestyle. I’m over thirty and I’ve just begun living. I feel so lucky.

Shirley: So, what advice do you have for women interested in dating vampires?

Dante: Don’t do it.

Shirley: Sort of a dead end, isn’t it?

Dante: Unless you’re with a man who promises to give up that way of life.

Shirley: Can you tell me more? What was the most difficult part of changing?

Dante: I’ll tell you that every little and big thing in my life changed. If I told you more, I’d be spoiling the read and besides, telling is boring.

Shirley: Well, thanks, Dante. Do you know if Groucho will be in the sequel?

Dante: Since you’re writing the books, you’ll have to answer that one, won’t you?

About the Book

A Vampire Comedy
Part of the Mortar & Pestle series of 7 book by 7 authors
by Shirley Goldberg
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Releases March 21
Pages: 255 pages
Heat rating: moderate

An energy vampire hungry for love meets the wisecracking woman of his parents’ nightmares.


Vampire Dante Allegretti hates his sucky life. Born into a family of energy siphoners, he’s desperate to reinvent himself as a fun-loving normal guy rather than a crowdsourcing parasite. To stop the draining urges, Dante resorts to grinding alternative meds in an ancient Mortar & Pestle, not knowing it contains magical properties.

Enter wisecracking thirty-year-old Sophie Arley, who lives with her clingy parents. Working three jobs and craving independence, she’s come back strong after a breakdown crashed her cozy world. So when the weird, hot guy she just met-cute asks Sophie to the movies, she agrees.

Sophie won’t spoil their magical connection by mentioning her heartbreak. And Dante dreads telling Sophie about his dark side. Will the power from the Mortar & Pestle guide them to their happily ever after despite the secrets and lies?

On sale in this Month! 
Grab Revamped

Peek between the pages, Mortar & Pestle scene

Dante invited Sophie to his house for dinner, never dreaming she’d interfere in his personal business. Let’s eavesdrop on their conversation.

“You need to take your meds.” Sophie squeezed her hands in front of her chest. “The peanut butter, where is it?”

I backed up and reached into the cabinet. “This stuff is worse than my meds,” I said, holding up the offending jar.

She took it from me and read the label. “This is my favorite kind. I drain off most of the oil before I use it. Simple. Who needs it on their thighs, you know?”

Drain. I shivered. “What do you do with the oil?”

“Um, put it in a jar. And you can give Jack a little every day with his food. Dogs need oil in their diet.”

Sophie swiveled between me and the mortar and pestle. “Can you put a dose of your meds in the bowl?”

I got out the bag with my herbs and measured out a portion, dropped it in the bowl. Next, I opened the peanut butter, careful to hold it away from my nose, and poured the oil into a plastic takeout container I’d saved.

How was I going to choke down my meds in front of Sophie? Was it normal for your guest to force you to take your medication? Maybe the wine hadn’t mellowed her enough.

“Where’s the utensil drawer?” Sophie twirled around the kitchen and opened a drawer. “Empty.” She poked me with a finger. “I need a knife.”

I went over to the sink and rinsed a knife, dried it and handed it to her.

“Thanks.” She dipped it in the peanut butter and stirred, careful not to splash oil on the countertop. Everything she did was deliberate. I reminded myself Sophie was being kind and concerned. And also pushy.

“It would be better to put your herbs on that delicious bread.” She opened the plastic bag with the bread, ripped off a piece, and spread the peanut butter on it. “Now dip it in the herbs.” She handed me the bread. “Try it.”

“I don’t know.” I was pissed at Dona, the herbalist. It had taken me almost an hour to reduce the herbs and powders. Pulverizing wasn’t easy and the tiny grains were dry and hard as metal shards.

“You said it was vile.” She grabbed another morsel of bread and spread peanut butter on that one, put it on a napkin. “Come on, it’s got to be better with the PB.”

We stood side by side staring into the bowl, me holding the bread aloft, Sophie fussing with the necklace she always wore, twirling the stone in her fingers. She studied the contents of the bowl. “That’s about a tablespoon? I’m dying to taste it. Just a dab. It’s organic, so it can’t hurt me, can it?”

I was so startled by the request, I grunted and put a hand over the top of the bowl. “You’d better not. It was specially mixed for me.”

“Vile tastes like what exactly? Move your hand.” She elbowed me, a gentle push.

“No.” The bowl felt warm to my palm. Or was I imagining this? We both stared as a wisp of vapor stirred, almost invisible, and took flight, leaving behind an aroma like peeled oranges. The polar opposite of vile.

Sophie leaned closer and stared up at me. “Did you see that?”

The vapor rose again and I traced its path, pointing. “We’re not imagining this.”

She stood on tiptoes, stretching her frame and wobbling against me, her cheek brushing my shoulder. Her breathing slowed. “Dante?”

I turned toward her and put the bread on the napkin, steadied her with my hand at her waist. “Sophie,” I murmured. My chest shuddered with wanting to kiss her, needing to feel her body against mine.

She spun the bowl around and the tip of her index finger quick-dabbed the mixture. She stuck her finger in her mouth. “Oh.”

My loins spasmed involuntarily.

Her tongue came out and swiped her bottom lip. Unruffled and unashamed of her trickery, she gazed up at me.

I gazed down at her, my mouth twitching. “You brat. How could you––”

“For you, this mixture must be like cilantro.”


“Some people can’t eat cilantro because it tastes nasty to them. This has a gingery zing, for me anyway.” She balanced on her toes and went for my cheek, her kiss landing on the corner of my mouth and sending tingles down my back. I wanted more.

“Try some with the peanut butter.” Her voice playful. “Don’t you want to see if the PB makes a difference?” Her voice lowered, now sweet and cajoling. “Come on, your turn.” She handed me the napkin with the two pieces of peanut-buttered bread. “Your correct dose, sir.”

I gripped her around the waist. “Stay close. I need your emotional support.” Sure, I’d play this game if I could keep her at my side.

I dipped the bread into the mixture and chewed, waiting for the aftertaste.


It melted on my tongue. “Not bad, not bad at all.”

We leaned into one another, her arms around my neck, her head resting on my chest. I put a hand under her chin, tilted her head up to mine and kissed the side of her raspberry mouth.

Something had happened. Had it been magic or a fabrication of my mind?

“Again,” she whispered. “More kiss-kiss.”

I pecked her chin and worked my way slowly up to her mouth, sucking her bottom lip. “You saw it, didn’t you? The vapor.” Her skin was smooth and soft, and she smelled like a flower.

“The smoke? I thought it was smoke.”

Our kissing deepened and for a minute I forgot myself, forgot I had to be careful, very careful. My friend Groucho had warned me. Be aware. You’ve got to train yourself not to drain, and that takes absolute control.

I pulled back and kissed her on the cheek, not wanting to stop.

“You’re a great kisser,” she said, opening her eyes and nudging me with her shoulder. “Can we smoochy-smoochy again? Soon?”

“I wouldn’t have it any other way.” I sighed deep inside.

About the author:
Shirley Goldberg is a swing and salsa dancer, novelist, and former ESL and French teacher who’s lived in Paris, Crete, and Casablanca. She often writes about men and women of a certain age starting over. Her websithttp://midagedating.comoffers a humorous look at dating in mid-life, and her friends like to guess which stories are true. A Little Bit of Lust is her third book in the series Starting Over, although all her books are standalone, including Revamped, her new Vampire Comedy. It’s the story of an energy vampire with one good friend and a family who embarrasses him. Revamped is part of the Mortar & Pestle series by seven authors coming in March. Grab the Prequel for free.

Shirley’s characters believe you should never leave home without your sense of humor and she agrees.

Connect with Shirley

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Spotlight: Sea Hunter by D.V. Stone

Today, I'm spotlighting the fourth book in the Mortar & Pestle Series, SEA HUNTER by D.V. Stone. 

About the Book

Sea Hunter
by D.V. Stone

Sea Hunter:
On the turbulent high seas, an archeologist must protect a historic shipwreck from treasure hunters—not fall for one.

Zahra Corbyn.
I’m a Sea Hunter. As an underwater archeologist and professor of antiquities, it is my duty to stop treasure hunters and looters from raiding Sea Wraith. But fate is a funny thing. Now I find myself working with Jack Alexander, a treasure hunter, to protect history from a known looter. Did my heart’s desire change?
Captain Jack Alexander.

I’ve been told women on a ship are unlucky, but this one has the two pieces of the map I need to finally claim Sea Wraith. Now I find myself in a deal that makes me one-third partner with her and a known scoundrel.

Can the two unlikely allies work together while safeguarding their hearts against the power of the Mortar and Pestle?

If you like Lara Croft and Indiana Jones, you’ll love Zahra Corbyn and Jack Alexander.

About the author:

D. V. Stone is an award-winning, multi-genre, traditionally and independently published author. She writes books people want to read. Whether romance or fantasy, her stories are about the importance of friends and family. About overcoming obstacles while doing it with humor.

Around the Fire is a popular weekly blog where she introduces both established and new authors giving an insider’s look into their lives and books as well as tidbits about her own life.

After retiring, she is now a full-time author and incorporates her life experiences into her books.

A former Emergency Medical Technician, she volunteered in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania. At the same time, she worked as a professional EMT in a women’s state prison. She was the proprietor of a coffee shop and a small restaurant/ice cream stand in the years that followed. The years following were as a manager in an animal emergency hospital, while her last position was in a human medical office.

When not behind the wheel of 2Hoots—a 41 foot long 13.2 feet high 5th Wheel camper, she rambles around town in Northern New Jersey in a white Camaro. She also loves travel and history.

D.V. is wife to an amazing husband, mother to one son, and not your average grandma to three beautiful grands. A woman of faith, she believes and trusts in God.

“My greatest pleasures are spending time outside with friends and family, cooking over the open fire, sipping a glass of wine, and reading.”

Hali, her rescue dog, always reminds her to let readers know, “Woof, woof.” Which is loosely translated as support your local animal rescue.

You can find out more about D. V. by following her on Social Media.

Connect with D.V. Stone
Website  |  Links  |  Instagram  |  Twitter  |  Facebook 
Goodreads  |  BookBub  |  Amazon  |  TikTok  |  Newsletter

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Chatting with author Marilyn Barr

I'm delighted to welcome Marilyn Barr to my blog. Her newest book, Quartermaster, is part of a series that releases this month. Read an excerpt, discover the inspiration behind the book, and learn what Marilyn's guilty pleasure is. 

Please help me welcome Marilyn.

What inspired you to write this book?

I’m a homeschooling mom. I taught the foundations of democracy to my then-10-year-old to kick off his US history class. From Hammurabi’s code in ancient Mesopotamia to the pirate parlay code, I found democracy was found in more places than in ancient Greece and the colonial USA. In fact, women and people of color had equal rights on the sea, but not on land in colonial America. I fell in love with the governing systems of what I always thought were “lawless scoundrels.” Every job aboard was a voted position from Captain to poop deck scrubber, and each person holding those positions had an equal vote. Pirate Captains were slave liberators and portrayed as villains because the ones losing money are the same men writing the history. The truth is buried in the shipping logs from the port masters and merchant boat Captains. I was fascinated!

Quartermaster comes from a love of psychological warfare in the records of 1700s piracy. In the movies, pirates are portrayed as brainless sword-slashers when historically, they hardly ever boarded another vessel. They depended on their reputations to scare their opponents—easy when the general population was superstitious. I fell in love with the tales of Sam Bellamy taking the Whydah by making a pretend ghost ship, Blackbeard braiding firecrackers into his beard to appear possessed, and the rest of the shenanigans of the 4 years called the Golden Age of Pirates. While I wrote about this period in the Walk the Walk series, Quartermaster takes place in 1725. By then, most of the pirates had taken pardons and retired from the sweet trade to a landlubbing life of agriculture or crime. I wondered what would happen if a boat refused to retire. They would be hated by the Spanish, English, and colonial Americans…

I was already half in love with Chub from his role in my other book series, so writing his happily ever after (HEA) became a passion piece. I knew I wanted him to represent tough men who weren’t tall, dark, and classically handsome gentlemen. Chub is a 5 foot 3 inches tall, freckled, red-headed pirate with more brains than manners. What he brings to the table is a patient disposition, a talent for teaching, and a huge heart. He teaches the young crew how to sail, the Captain to read, and his lady love to trust again. I wanted his HEA so badly, the story wrote itself.

Do you have any guilt pleasures or books you can’t get enough of?

I’ve jumped onto the monster and alien romance bandwagon with both feet. I can’t get enough of sweet, mushy heroes who sport horns, fangs, and fur coats. While they can get cheesy, I think monster romance is gently teaching society inclusion (which is a huge part of why I write.) Heroines love their monsters for who they are on the inside. Romance is often portrayed with acts of service and quality time in addition to the steamy stuff found in contemporary romance. If a guy can’t kiss because of his elongated fangs or absence of lips, he must work harder to be romantic.

I also love the monster romance books where I can lose myself in another world…and let my geek flag fly. Some of my favorite authors growing up were Ray Bradbury, Madeline L’Engle, H.G. Well, and Jules Verne. If you add the element of romance to these, you get the futuristic, space travel, and fearsome romance of today’s kindle unlimited. Just because I’ve grown to love all the kissing scenes doesn’t mean my nerdy little heart aches to shoot bad guys with ray guns and plasma blasters.

Tell us something about yourself and how you became an author.

In 2015, my paranormal romance collection was my most-effective tool against depression. I had given up my career as a teacher to homeschool my medically fragile son. My days went from 45-student Physics classes surrounded by opportunities to converse with colleagues, to isolation. My husband travels for work, so most days my son was my only human contact. My books provided adult conversation until I became part of a homeschool mom support group in my new town.

Fast forward to 2018, when I was writing steamy paranormal romance books and “playing author.” If you follow me on TikTok, you know playing dress up is one of my favorite activities. But long before I joined the clock app, I had my books printed and bound by the local office supply store as my “publishing.” I would distribute them to my mom-friends and we would meet at my house once a month for a “book club.” I loved the giggles, conversation, and sharing of our love of romance—more specifically the Strawberry Shifters.

A year later, international travel halted and my husband was home most of the time. He found out I was writing and distributing my books in a pretend world. Instead of laughing or dismissing my dream, he took it upon himself to make my career “official.” Within three hours, I had a website, membership to Kentuckiana Romance Writers, and tickets to several reader-author meetups where I could meet the authors of the books I was reading. At one of those events, I met my hero, Lora Leigh who said to query Bear with Me to a small press. Not wanting to let her down, I queried The Wild Rose Press that night…and the rest is history.

About the Book

Author: Marilyn Barr
Genre: Historical, Paranormal Romance
Heat level: Mildly spicy, kissing and talk of desires, not over PG-13

Can the love of a pirate heal the wounds inflicted by a gentleman?



He violated me. Don Rodrigo took my family’s business, home, and titles, but he will never own me. I’m on the run. He’s threatened to expose my secret. My last hope is to intercept the ship carrying my dowry before our match is permanent. Trusting pirates to give me a fair share is foolish but not as much as staying on the same island as my attacker…


The letter from our arch-nemesis was written in feminine calligraphy but our nutmeg Captain Teeth didn’t notice. Blimey that because the author of the letter is my lady love. I’d bet my last doubloon. If only she didn’t shrink away from my touch… Killing every scoundrel who dared to hurt her isn’t helping…but it cools the rage I hold inside.

Can Chub teach Catalina to assemble her shattered fragments into the strong woman she wants to be or is she too broken to believe in herself? Will she accept a pirate’s promise of true love or was the Mortar & Pestle’s message too late for lonely Chub to claim his lady love?

Trigger Warning: Rape before the story starts (not on the page and not by the hero)

Peek between the pages...

“Let’s have a cheer for our favorite Irishman, and he will dance a jig!” Teeth’s shout heats my face ten degrees. Make that twenty. I bet my head looks like a boiled tomato.

“I’m English, you grog blossom,” I grouse.

“Chub! Chub! Chub!”

All me hearties chant my name to goad me into dancing. I won’t fall for their pressure. Catalina’s sandy brown eyes sparkle with delight. She’s watching my response, it seems…and the desire to impress her overwhelms my common sense. My protests die on my tongue.

I wave my hand at the crowd to quiet them as I swagger to the main deck. Blasted feet march my person to the center, where me hearties form a circle. My dismay intensifies to annoyance when the mountainous nutmegs stand in front of Catalina’s seat. I’m not dancing if she’s not watching...and I’m not admitting that aloud like a petulant child, either. Without a second thought, I shove my way through the circle to bring her to the front lines.

My hand extends to her in an offer to help her up from where she sits.

Avast ye! What have I done? Her eyes are the size of doubloons a split second before she chokes on her water. It looks like I’ve asked her to dance with the whole boat as our audience. What a pudding-headed move! I’ll never live down her refusal. My arm drops in horror. How do I salvage this situation? What can I say to save face? And why is she now frowning—besides my blunder on both of our accounts?

Perhaps a rogue wave will leap out of the calm sea and swallow me whole.

“Catalina, I dinna—” My Irish brogue is thicker than stew, which compounds my embarrassment.

“I thought you would call me, Catty,” she interrupts. The quiet demand cracks like a whip. She threads her slender fingers through my sweaty hand at my side. She vibrates with fear as she uses me as leverage to stand. The frightened lady then drags me to the center of the main deck circle, where she waits for my lead.

Could she be afraid of me? In that case, why wouldn’t she refuse the dance and laugh off my advances?

The music slows, and I circle her like a vulture. My hearties laugh and catcall as if I’m hunting on their behalf. Their assumptions couldn’t be further from the truth. I’m watching her body language for clues on how to proceed without hurting her. A smirk plays upon her lips like she’s playing the game, but the corner of her left eye has a twitch that I would miss, had I not studied her. She rubs the leather cuff on her right wrist as if suffering from a rope burn.

I run my fingertip down her arm, and she shivers. Either she desires me to the point of losing control—which I doubt with this audience—or she’s covering a flinch at my touch. My fingertip climbs her other arm and across her shoulders. The flinch is unmistakable as her shoulders shimmy.

I hope she will appreciate the change in the crowd’s mood enough to forgive my crassness. “A lady with such bounce can’t dance to your sour dirge. Give us a jig with some life to it!”

The crew shows their agreement with boisterous applause and cheers. Catty blushes a delicate pink but breathes a sigh of relief when I stand beside her instead of in front of her. Someday, I hope to grind my hips against hers in a sultry island dance, but not when she’s trembling under my palms.

“I would never soil the honor of your presence by taking advantage of your sweet nature, my lady,” I whisper onto her shoulder. The top of my head is at her eye level. To whisper in her ear, I’d have to crowd her space on my tiptoes.

“For your observant and kind nature, I am most grateful,” she replies, so quietly that I must read her lips. The secret smile we share is one I will tuck into my heart for my darkest of days.

The music kicks up to a lively three-quarter tune. I hop on my toes in traditional Irish fashion and glare at anyone who points out my authenticity. After a few rounds of eight counts, Catty follows my footwork. We are bouncing and laughing while our audience claps along. I weave my footwork into her space and out again. The movements bring our bodies close for mere seconds before leading us apart like a delicious tease. With her hands unfettered, she can shove me away or swat at my antics. Instead, I collect shy smiles, flirty eyelash flutters, and eyefuls of bouncing dairy.

I bet this is what heaven is like.

About the author:

Marilyn Barr lives in the wilds of Kentucky with her husband, son, and rescue cats. From medical school reject to spiritual healer, physics teacher to homeschool mom, and scientist to paranormal romance writer, she has a diverse collection of experiences which she sprinkles into her works. She has nine books with The Wild Rose Press in multiple romance subgenres from sweet, new adult romance to erotic, fantasy romance. She loves to place monstrous characters with hearts of gold in historical romances and her historical, paranormal romances have won the Crowned Heart Award, 2nd place in National Excellence in Story Telling (NEST) Contest, Imadjinn Award for Best Paranormal Romance, and Grand Finalist for the InD’Tale Magazine’s RONE Award. When engaging in the real world, you can find her with the Kentuckiana Romance Writers as President-Elect, volunteering with her son’s Special Olympics teams, or dancing around her kitchen. She is a sucker (haha) for cheesy horror movies, Italian food, punk music, black cats, bad puns, and all things witchy. For the latest Strawberry news and witchy tips, join her newsletter at

Connect with Marilyn Barr

Thursday, March 9, 2023

Guest Post: Jean M Grant, author of Seeker

Please help me welcome Jean M. Grant to my blog. We're starting with a a speed round of This or That, followed by Jean's Top 10 Things to See in Scotland, and the details along with an excerpt from her latest book Seeker, which is part of a series that releases this month.

So without further ado, let's get to know a little about Jean!

Speed round: This or That


Good guys or bad guys? Good guys

Morning or night? Morning

Coffee or tea? Coffee in any shape, size, or form

eBook, paperback, or audiobook? Audiobook – on walks, in car, all the time

Favorite season? Summer because of my gardens

Dogs or cats? Cats!
Stilettos or flipflops or sneakers? Mary Jane’s or hiking shoes

Paranormal or Historical? Both!

Favorite TV show? BritBox cozy/detective mysteries

Favorite vacation? New Zealand & Ecuador and the Gal├ípagos 

Beach or mountains? Mountains – always

Top 10 Things to See in Scotland
by Jean M. Grant

     I visited the land of my daydreams, Scotland, over a decade ago. It stirred the muse within to write about medieval Scotland. From that inspiration sprung my trilogy. Here is my list of must-sees for the history and nature buff. 

Scotland—be prepared for rain, be prepared for beauty of nature and people.

10. The abbeys—Abbeys are poetic and serene and back in the middle ages served as monasteries to different Christian orders. We walked among ancient gray and rose stone ruins at Dryburgh and Melrose Abbeys. 

9. The isles—It is hard to not visit an isle while in Scotland. There are many: Lewis and Harris, Shetlands, or my beloved Uist. We visited Isle of Sky on a dreary day and could not even see the Black Cuillin mountains in the torrential rain.

8. Lochs—Like isles, lochs, many glacial, are a must-see and hard to miss whether it is the deep blue Loch Ness, expansive Loch Lomond, or the inspiring Loch Awe.

7. Crags & Glens—High and low crags abound…the Trossachs, Cairngorms, or the five sisters of Kintail are impressive mountains. With crags, come glens (valleys). Glencoe is not one to skip. 

6. Standing Stones—Standing stones are one of the few places we couldn’t visit on our trip as most are on the isles. Note to self for next time!  

5. Scottish Folk & Pubs—Scots are pleasant people and we had a great time chatting with the locals. And yup, there are plenty of the other kind of locals: sheep!

4. The Lowlands—The lowlands often get overlooked, but they are green and lush with undulating hills. 

3. The Highlands—Rich in clan history and natural beauty and oh so many hikes, the Highlands are the epitome of Scotland. Tramp (hike) through glens, up stony crags, visit Culloden Battlefield, and just get lost on the winding one-lane roads.  

2. Highland Games— Up for putting the stone, caber tossing, tug-o-war, music, and dancing…oh yes, and lots of kilts? Get thee to a Highland Game. We visited one in Pitlochry.

1. Castles—Castles, last but not least! I visited over a dozen on my trip. My favorites: Eilean Donan (seat to Clan MacCoinneach in my books), Kilchurn (we kayaked to it), Threave (we took a rowboat across a river to it), and Borthwick (we stayed overnight in this 14th century tower house that is haunted).

About the book


Author: Jean M. Grant

Genre: historical/medieval Scottish romance

Heat level (if over PG13): PG/PG13


Tagline: Nock, draw, release. If her arrow hits its mark, will it prevent war…and secure her destined soulmate?


Blurb: Nock, draw, release. Her bow is always ready, and if her arrow hits its mark, she will secure her destined soulmate.

Aileana Montgomerie’s bloodline holds valuable gifts of foresight and healing, but with each honor comes a curse. Even though she is descended from the mystical isles’ folk, she lacks the ability of the Scottish Ancients and wonders if she belongs in a magical family. Aileana just wants a purpose. What good is her bow and arrow if she is denied the right to fight for her clan?

Brodie MacDougall is ordained to be the next war chieftain of his clan. The title is a privilege as long as his brother, the future laird, doesn’t expect him to lift a sword and charge into battle. Chronic pain and nervous vapors force him to spend his days alone. Can his strategic skills keep him one step ahead of his conspiring brother?

Through a magical Mortar & Pestle, Brodie finds his heart’s desire. But there’s a catch. The seat on his brother’s council is no longer dependent upon his health…but on Aileana’s strength. With rumblings of unrest among their clans, will their love foster an alliance or be a step toward war?


Read it today!


Peek between the pages... 

The mixture of herb fragrances mingled in her nose. Nutty, sharp, awakening.

She inhaled. Brodie inhaled.

As he released his hand from the pestle, a dark violet waft of smoke rose from the mortar.

An image appeared in her head, though her eyes were wide open:

A vast and lush meadow. Her bow in her hand. She stared at a target, runes carved into its center. The butt was made from a large mound of dirt, the kind used in the yearly tournament.

What in all the stars was happening?

And Brodie stood beside her in the image. Vision? Nonsense! Had she knocked her head? Fallen asleep? She held no gift of prophecy. What was this?

The ground rumbled. She heard Brodie’s heart racing as he whispered words of love in her ear.

Her neck tingled with gooseflesh, the way the wheat fields rippled on a windy day. He pressed a kiss to her cheek, and her belly warmed.

In your presence, the answer is shown, a voice said. Stay close to him, for your heart’s desire is known. What you seek, you will reap. Follow the golden prize. Let it be your sun.

She blinked as the image faded, her face aflame and the residual heat of his lips upon her skin still palpable. “Did you see that?”

“See what?”

He was staring at her, his body so close. She broke their shared gaze. “The mortar.”

He blew out a full, healthy breath as the lavender mist dissipated.

Smoke?” she coaxed. Oh, please, Brodie. Say you see it, too!

He stared at the mortar. The purple smoke was now a pale haze fading to gray. The flecks in the black granite shimmered as bright as the stars.

“Aye, I do. A flame, but the color of a thistle. Though now it is gray.”

She gulped, feeling relieved but confused. Her mother’s treatments were as natural as the earth. She didn’t cast spells or evoke flares from simple herbs!

“Has this ever happened before?” he asked.

She wet her lips, searching his face. Her chest tingled.



About the author:


Jean has a penchant for misunderstood creatures, be it sharks, microbes, or wounded characters. A scientist by training, she now spends her days as an author and champion for her children. She writes historical and contemporary romance and women’s fiction. Two of her books won InD’tale RONE awards. 

A nature enthusiast, Jean also writes for family-oriented travel magazines and websites. When not writing, she enjoys gardening, tackling the biggest mountains in New England, and going on adventures near and far with her family. If she were stuck on a desert island, her three essentials (besides family, food, water, and shelter) would be coffee, lip balm, and the post-it notes.

Social media links:

Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Goodreads ~ Bookbub ~ Amazon Author Page ~ Instagram 

Did you have anything in common with Jean? 

Thanks for stopping by!