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Tour Stop, Q&A & Giveaway: The Marriage Code by Brooke Borroughs

Q&A with Author Brooke Burroughs

The Marriage Code is your debut novel. Can you tell us about your publishing journey?

In a word, long! I’m always envious reading about writers who wrote their first book, got an agent, and published in like, the span of six months. Mine was definitely longer as this book was first written as a memoir, then I fictionalized the story which took a few years. The big moment was when Melissa Marino selected my manuscript for Pitchwars, and that led me to find my agent.

As tech experts both your hero and heroine tend to be data driven which leads to the creation of ‘the marriage code’. What is the code and how did it come about?

The marriage code is a customized search for the perfect woman that Emma develops for her coworker Rishi. It only finds women who match his exact specifications (well, his and his family’s). I like to think of it as (or in India) on steroids.

This is definitely not a love at first sight story! In fact, Rishi and Emma have quite a difficult time getting along at first. Can you describe their first meeting and how this sets the scene for their relationship?

Emma is in a super rough spot. Her carefully constructed world is collapsing because her boyfriend has publicly proposed to her, she wasn’t ready, and he in turn blames her for turning him down. So the next day she goes into work, clinging to the fact that at least she has her job, and this project she’s put all her blood, sweat, and tears into. But then Rishi, a stranger, tells her that this project is no longer hers. For a woman who likes patterns and predictability, well…she loses it. Now Emma is faced with the threat of no job, no boyfriend, no homey apartment—until she convinces her manager to give the project to her, not knowing Rishi is slated to manage it, and that it’s his salvation from the pressures of his family. They still need to work together…closely. And that sets the two of them off on a journey they never expected.

Rivals to friends to confidants … to something much, much more. What do you consider the turning point in their story?

I think the big pivot for Emma and Rishi is when she finally lets her guard down and tells him about her past when they’re in Kerala. Emma is really private and feels like she’s always had to protect her vulnerability to be successful, and I think for a lot of women in tech that can be true (well, probably true for a lot of women in many jobs). That opening up leads to the much, much more!

Emma is from the Northwest and Rishi from the south–southern India that is. There are some serious cultural differences between these two. What are some of the biggest roadblocks they face in their relationship?

Emma’s biggest roadblock is trying to protect herself. She’s carefully constructed this world she lives in to be compartmentalized, practical, and to suit the life she thinks she needs to rely on. Even though Rishi’s not out to get her professionally, she’s been taken advantage of before by male coworkers and she doesn’t want to let it happen again. For Rishi, the pressure to get married to a woman who will fit into the culture of his family is the biggest roadblock. His family depends on him, and their reference point for someone marrying outside their culture has caused so much heartache, it’s hard to get past that.

As much as they are different, Rishi and Emma have a lot in common — including their careers and their drive to succeed. What are some other similarities that you found when writing your hero and heroine?

Food is something that very much brings these two together. For Emma, growing up poor and with her grandmother, who had to work multiple jobs to support her, throughout her childhood she basically survived on canned food and hotdogs. So now that she’s out on her own, she relishes in amazing cuisine wherever she can get it. For Rishi, he is super passionate about the different varieties of Indian food, but his favorite is still what his mom cooks. He often serves as her culinary guide around Bangalore, and Emma helps him open his eyes to the food he’s been eating his entire life. That balance brings them together often, and how they are able to become friends—and more!

This is a very personal story to you—like Emma, you moved to India and had to adapt to your new environment. What are some customs that you liked the best? Which ones were more challenging for you?

When I first moved to India, and especially when interacting with my (now) husband’s family I was constantly trying to make sure I wasn’t offending anyone. In the US, we have one main gesture that is super offensive and it’s easy NOT to use it. In India, what you do with your hands and feet can be offensive, and so it’s more nuanced; there is a lot of using your right hand vs your left hand, not putting your feet towards someone, knowing when to take off your shoes, and that takes some constant reminding and getting used to. Oh, and eating with your hands. In the book, Emma feels like she looks like a toddler eating, and yeah, so do I!

My favorite customs are mostly around how in general, I think Indians cherish their traditions. Despite all the Western influence, it feels like people still care a lot about continuing to practice traditions of their family, religion, and heritage. Whether it’s the clothes people wear, the multitude of holidays, or the weddings chock full of ritual and customs, I think it’s amazing to take the time and intention to continue practicing those. I also really appreciate their reverence for elders. There is a lot of respect given to the wisdom and experience of older people in the culture that feels very different then how we often treat our elders in the US, for example.

Both you and your characters are very adventurous. What advice would you give to someone who is trying to make big decisions for their future?

If you want to try something that feels like it will challenge you (even if it’s scary!) do it! If you make a mistake you can always come back from it. Most of my regrets in life are because I didn’t do something, and it’s hard to recapture and relive those moments. I don’t have regrets on trying to do something new, like moving to another country or going on a safari in an open jeep with a lion five feet away (both scary and amazing). But I have regretted that trip I didn’t take, or words I didn’t say to someone. I think that’s one of my biggest life lessons.

Why is The Marriage Code the perfect book to introduce you to readers?

The Marriage Code is very personal to me because I wanted to write a book that echoed some of the experiences I had moving to India and meeting my husband. So if there is any kind of introduction to my writing and me, this is definitely a good one!

Title: The Marriage Code by Brooke Borroughs
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 379 pages


In Brooke Burroughs’s endearing debut novel set in vibrant India, enemies turned allies encounter obstacles in an unexpected multicultural romance only to discover that in the end, love is love.

Emma has always lived her life according to a plan. But after turning down her boyfriend’s proposal, everything starts to crumble. In an effort to save the one thing she cares about—her job—she must recruit her colleague, Rishi, to be on her development team…only she may or may not have received the position he was promised. (She did.)

Rishi cannot believe that he got passed over for promotion. To make matters worse, not only does his job require him to return home to Bangalore with his nemesis, Emma, but his parents now expect him to choose a bride and get married. So, when Emma makes him an offer—join her team, and she’ll write an algorithm to find him the perfect bride—he reluctantly accepts.

Neither of them expect her marriage code to work so well—or to fall for one another—which leads Emma and Rishi to wonder if leaving fate up to formulas is really an equation for lasting love.

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Two cups of coffee. His laptop bag hung on one shoulder, threatening to slip off. His sunglasses fell from his head and teetered on the end of his nose as he approached the room. He tried to use his hip to push the handle down and splashed coffee on his jeans. He looked through the glass door. Emma was sitting there, laughing at him.

“Help, please,” he said, a thread of irritation in his voice, through the practically soundproof glass.

She made a big production of sighing and taking off her headphones and rolling her chair back inch by inch, the wheels moving as slowly as bad bandwidth. Yet the whole time, she was still smiling with complete amusement.

She pulled open the door, her arm sliding up the edge and blocking his entrance to the room with her body. “Can I help you? I mean, you look like you need help.”

“Uh, yeah. I got you a coffee. Apparently the last time I’ll do that. Take it.” He thrust it toward her. Now he could slide his sunglasses back on top of his head and save his suffering forearm from his laptop bag, which he was carrying like an old woman with an oversize purse.

“Oh, why, thank you.” Her eyes lit up in surprise as she tasted the coffee, just a sip, and looked up at him through her eyelashes. He tried not to notice how cute she looked, her nose hidden inside the cup, inhaling the coffee. But puppy cute. Like a tiny stray he’d found outside his house who needed help.

Rishi shook his head and glanced up at the projected screen. Now it was his turn to laugh. It reminded him of when his professor had once said, “Done code is better than perfect code.” This was definitely just done.

“Wait, are these the bugs you’re trying to address? What is this code?”

“Look, I’m not an app developer, but I’ve been reading up.” She unplugged her monitor, like she could hide the evidence. “I told you I needed help.”

“I’ll fix the bugs in the log. I think you should leave that to us app devs, honestly. You might break something.”

“Oh? Well, hopefully I didn’t break your marriage code.”

Sometimes she really exasperated him. “Emma, you can’t be perfect in every aspect.”

She tilted her head and pursed her lips, doing that puppy thing again. Or maybe like her part-android brain couldn’t process what he’d said.

He didn’t mean perfect in every aspect, of course. He shook his head. What was wrong with him? “I just meant you’re not an app developer. You’re good at web crawls, right? Desktop development? That’s more than most people can say.”

She straightened up and typed on her laptop. “Well, I guess you’ll be the judge of that. Should I put the candidates for the future Mrs. Iyengar on the big screen?” She looked at him before plugging in the HDMI cable.

He looked at the hall, still empty. Still way too early for anyone to be in here. “Sure. I’m ready for the big unveiling.” He took a deep breath and crossed his arms, leaning back in his seat. Was he ready? What if it hadn’t worked? Or what if he felt insta-love just by looking at the screen? Should he pray or something before she showed him what the results had come up with? He’d practically promised his mom he would take care of it. That he could find “the one.” And after his conversation with Sudhar, one of these women had to work.

Rishi’s feet tapped on the floor. Why was a sudden cocktail of impatience, dread, and curiosity swirling in his stomach? A perfect match could be presented to him in a few short seconds. Because if he knew anything about Emma Delaney, it was that she strove for perfection.

And control.

And with passion.

If they really went on an Indian tour together, outside the confines of Bangalore’s best eateries, what would it be like? He’d have to show her the best things about the country he called home. Let her taste the coconut-seeped curries of Kerala. Visit a roadside dhaba in Punjab where the paneer melted on your tongue. Show her the famous Madurai temples in his hometown, but also his favorite Ganesh temple, the tiny one near his apartment.

She’d have to see the flower vendors at Gandhi Bazaar, with their overflowing baskets of marigolds and roses, and eat chaat from his favorite cart in Vijayanagar. She’d take his India, place it in her mouth, and suck the joy of his country like a mango seed.

And end the tour by seeing what other flavors they could search out in the curves of each other’s skin.

What the hell was wrong with him? That couldn’t happen. Obviously, it couldn’t. And yet the thought snaked through him, a depraved viper swallowing his brain whole. He slumped over on the table, his elbow on the cold metal, his palm catching his forehead.

“Are you okay?” Emma had pulled her laptop up and slid it over toward him.

“Yeah, yeah. I’m fine. Just forgot something.” Like my mind.

“Here you go.”

Rishi took a deep breath.

Author Bio

Brooke Burroughs has worked in the IT industry for over ten years and lived in India—where she met her husband—for three. Burroughs has experience navigating the feeling of being an outsider in a traditional, orthodox family. Luckily, she and her in-laws get along well now, but maybe it’s because she agreed to a small South Indian wedding (with almost a thousand people in attendance) and already happened to be a vegetarian with an Indian food–takeout obsession.

Author Links: Website * Facebook * Twitter * Goodreads


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Q&A, Excerpt & Giveaway: If You Must Know by Jamie Beck

Please welcome Jamie Beck to Book Reviews & More by Kathy!

Q&A with Bestselling Author Jamie Beck

How do you describe your newest novel If You Must Know?

This book is a “beach book” in the best sense. It’s not angsty, yet it has a page-turning plot and a bunch of interesting, relatable characters. I think it’s entertaining and heartfelt at the same time, which is exactly what many enjoy reading while on vacation.

What inspired the novel?

The external plot came to me as a result of the influence of two people in my life. My dear friend’s husband is a forensic accountant, so some of his stories about how people hide money and flee their families provided one point of inspiration. The second is my mother’s best friend who, in her seventies, sold her house and bought a boat, which she and her husband live on full-time. The impetus for the oil-and-water sisters was to provide myself an opportunity to explore the sibling-rivalry dynamic.

Tell us about the two main characters in the story—sisters Amanda and Erin.

Amanda is the middle child. She’s diligent, earnest, hard-working, and generous. She wants the people she loves to be happy and feel her love. Her weakness is a deep-seated insecurity—a sense that she is not interesting enough to be lovable. This leads her to overlook when she is being taken for granted because her need to be pleasing is omnipresent.

Erin is the baby of the family and her late-father’s pet. She is outgoing, fun-loving, and views her average intelligence as a blessing (rather than lamenting that her siblings are smarter). She is willful and has her own way of moving through the world. The big weakness she has is her impulsiveness, whether with jobs or relationships. As she approaches her 30th birthday, she’s looking to mature and create a more stable life for herself.

What kind of relationship do the sisters have?

I think they share a typical relationship insofar as their differences cause many misunderstandings and instill in each a sense of being judged by the other, and yet they do care about and love each other, too. They simply do not know how to be true friends and trust the other—at least not at the outset of this tale.

This book focused on the main female characters growing and learning about themselves. What prompted this ‘women’s fiction’ approach to the story?

Partly market forces and partly my own need to stretch. At 53, it was becoming more difficult to write a 20-something woman facing the challenges of dating. The shift to women’s fiction allows me to write late-30 and early 40-something characters, which comes more naturally to me. I also enjoy exploring family and friendship dynamics, and absolutely love having endless options for story arcs (as opposed to having to follow a traditional romance arc).

What does your new Potomac Point series have in common with your previous books?

All my books to date have focused on critical relationships and some type of redemption theme. I find damaged people to be very interesting and believe that there is good in most everyone, so I prefer to populate my stories with flawed people who must confront their inner demons in order to be happy. My new books will also focus on relationships and redemption, but the non-romantic relationships (or even the relationship with one’s self) will be more central.

Title: If You Must Know by Jamie Beck
Potomac Point Series Book One
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 362 pages


Life turns upside down for two sisters in Wall Street Journal bestselling author Jamie Beck’s emotional novel about how secrets and differences can break—or bind—a family.

Sisters Amanda Foster and Erin Turner have little in common except the childhood bedroom they once shared and the certainty each feels that her way of life is best. Amanda follows the rules—at the school where she works; in her community; and as a picture-perfect daughter, wife, and mother-to-be. Erin follows her heart—in love and otherwise—living a bohemian lifestyle on a shoestring budget and honoring her late father’s memory with a passion for music and her fledgling bath-products business.

The sisters are content leading separate but happy lives in their hometown of Potomac Point until everything is upended by lies that force them to confront unsettling truths about their family, themselves, and each other. For sisters as different as these two, building trust doesn’t come easily—especially with one secret still between them—but it may be the only way to save their family.

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I rolled onto my side with a groan, coming face-to-face with one of my favorite family photos. We’d taken our annual family summer trip to Hilton Head—the one real splurge my dad had made sure we enjoyed every year. We had a tradition of having lunch at a little open-air cabana bar and restaurant called Coco’s on the Beach.

Between the deck and the volleyball court in the sand stood a tall pole with colorful arrow-shaped signs pointing in different directions. Each one was painted with the name of a different city somewhere on the globe, along with the mileage to get there. We’d dream about all the places we might go, and after high school I’d had the chance to see many. In this picture, our whole family is standing around that sign, smiling at the camera. My dad has his hand on my shoulder, and if you look closely, you can see Amanda holding my hand. I must’ve been only five or six—young enough that she hadn’t given up trying to be my second mother. At the time, I’d felt smothered by her attention, but looking back, I’d also felt loved.

I grabbed my phone and called my sister, but it went to voice mail. A heaviness pressed on me, but I couldn’t tell if it was from looking at that picture of our family that would never again be whole or from the fact that I’d disappointed my mom and sister today.

They loved me in their way even if they couldn’t love and accept me as I am. My dad had, though, and to honor his memory and wishes for our family, I couldn’t continue to drift out of their lives as I’d been doing.

After the beep, I said, “Hey, it’s moi. Surprise! My plans have changed and I’ve got a little time. If you get this message, let me know where you are and I’ll try to catch up.”

I hit “End,” my feet restlessly kicking the foot of my bed. The small bedroom seemed claustrophobic, but I didn’t want to talk to Max. Not that I could avoid him in here, either, where his dirty laundry, sandals, and other items lay about. Rather than take a match to it all, I decided to organize some of his things to help with his packing. Hauling myself off the bed, I then went to the armoire to get to the vintage albums my dad had left me in his will.

Some were fairly valuable, like the Beatles collection box set from 1982, valued at roughly a thousand bucks. Or the Led Zeppelin first pressing with the turquoise label, which should net around eight hundred or so dollars. U2’s Joshua Tree collection box set from 1987—maybe worth six or seven hundred. Then there were others worth less than one hundred dollars. But each one had infinite sentimental value.

Every song resurrected a specific memory of time spent with my father playing cards, washing cars, grilling hot dogs … anything. Whatever he’d wanted to do, I’d done with him, and he’d always chosen the perfect background soundtrack for every activity. Those stolen moments had also been a great way to escape my mom’s endless lectures and demands. She’d never yelled at me for skipping out on chores or being messy when I’d been spending that time with him. Probably because he wouldn’t let her.

At present, my restlessness matched the mood of a typical Bob Seger song, so I grabbed Beautiful Loser and slipped the record from its sleeve, resisting the urge to hug it as if it were my dad. I set it on the old turntable he’d also left me. As the few first drumbeats clangored, my heart kicked an extra beat or two—partly happy, partly sad. I glanced toward the bedroom door, picturing Max on the sofa, and then got to work.

It didn’t matter where life led me next. I had faith because my own personal angel was looking out for me now.

Que será, será.

Author Bio

Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author Jamie Beck’s realistic and heartwarming stories have sold more than two million copies. She is a two-time Booksellers’ Best Award finalist and a National Readers’ Choice Award winner, and critics at Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, and Booklist have respectively called her work “smart,” “uplifting,” and “entertaining.” In addition to writing novels, she enjoys hitting the slopes in Vermont and Utah and dancing around the kitchen while cooking. Above all, she is a grateful wife and mother to a very patient, supportive family. Fans can get exclusive excerpts, inside scoops, and be eligible for birthday gift drawings by subscribing to her newsletter at She also loves interacting with everyone on Facebook at

Author Links: Website * Facebook * Twitter * Newsletter * Goodreads


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Tour Stop, Q&A & Giveaway: Disarm by Karina Halle

Q&A: Author Karina Halle 

1. To start off, can you tell us a little about your main characters from Disarm. Seraphine and Blaise have quite a history (not to mention they share the same last name!)

Seraphine and Blaise Dumont are (gasp) cousins. But not to worry, they aren’t blood-related. Seraphine is actually from India and was adopted by Ludovic Dumont when she was a young girl. Even though she was brought into the “nice” side of the family, she has always had trouble fitting in. Her looks, her accent, the fact that she was born poor and discarded like trash, gives her a very different perspective to life than her affluent family. This POV has colored her into the very outspoken, vibrant and feisty woman she is today – she is definitely one of my favorite female characters I’ve written.

Blaise, of course, belongs to the bad side of the family, though there were hints in the first book, Discretion, that he’s not as bad as you would think. In fact, he’s a lot like Seraphine, a bit of an outcast and the black sheep of his family. As we read Disarm, we also discover the history that Blaise and Seraphine have together which sets up for the angst, tension and hate for each other that they have in the present day, especially as Seraphine thinks Blaise has something to do with her father’s death.

2. They live in a world of privilege that most of us cannot fathom. What are the biggest pluses and some minuses of living with fabulous wealth?

The biggest plus is the material things: houses, cars, clothes, jets, vacations. You name it, they have it. You would also think a great deal of freedom comes with money too and it does but with that sort of wealth, it makes you go to great lengths to keep it. So that freedom still ties you to the wealth, in maintaining it and getting more of it. Of course, it breeds some pretty out of touch and unscrupulous characters, too, and you can never know who to trust when your world (and family) revolves around money instead of love.

3. What about Blaise makes him totally unique and different from all other book boyfriends?

The torch he has carried for Seraphine for so many years. This man is the epitome of yearning and pining for someone you can’t have, more so than most book boyfriends you’ve come across (and I won’t spoil exactly how but you’ll find out in the book just how secretly devoted to his cousin he is). He’s also an anti-hero, a man who has done some crooked stuff but still tries to do the right thing, even if it comes at the expense of his own family.

4. Seraphine has faced many difficulties during her life, but one of her toughest challenges is thinking Blaise abandoned her. How does she deal with this heartbreak?

She deals with it the way that Seraphine deals with any hardship—she tucks it away deep down inside and rises above it. She’ll force herself to be strong – her pride is very powerful – and she’ll trick herself into thinking she never cared about him to begin with. It’s much easier to paint Blaise with a villainous brush, that way it doesn’t hurt so much.

5. Extreme events are said to bring out a person’s true character. What harrowing situations do Seraphine and Blaise get entangled in and what does this say about them?

There isn’t anything more extreme than fighting for your life, and the two of them have had to do that in this book. Literally. But they willingly walked into those situations as a way to put an end to the tangled web they’ve been caught in. It says they would rather face it and fight than flee. This is especially true for Blaise, who, at the end of the book, choses to confront his loved ones face to face, even if it potentially means making some difficult choices.

6. What scene from the book do you think readers will enjoy the most and why?

Personally, I love the scene at the end, a nail-biting showdown between Blaise and his brother Pascal (and his father, too). That was a blast to write and read, I basically just watched it all unfold in my head and it had my heart pumping as if I was watching a movie. It’s DELICIOUS. Romance-wise, I think the flashbacks are pretty special, particularly their first kiss in Italy. There was something about that scene that felt so real.

7. It is often said that writing is re-writing. What were some things that didn’t make it into the book that you were hoping to add?

Nothing. It’s all in there, baby! If anything, scenes were added during edits.

8. What did you learn about yourself while writing this book?

I learned a lot about Muay Thai fighting moves haha.

9. What do you want readers to take away from reading this book?

That family isn’t just through blood, and that sometimes in order to do the right thing and be your own person, you musn’t be afraid to stand up to your family, even if it means tension or separation down the line.

10. Who is the next Dumont on your list to receive their own story?

he infamous Pascal. And believe me when I say, this villain’s story will both wow and win people over. His book is even more thrilling and dramatic than Disarm and I can’t wait for everyone to read it!

Title: Disarm by Karina Halle
The Dumonts Series Book Two
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Suspense
Length: 268 pages


Karina Halle, the New York Times bestselling author of Discretion, lifts the veil off a privileged family dynasty to reveal a wealth of secrets and dangerous obsessions.

Seraphine Dumont seems to have it all: she’s gorgeous, brilliant, and part of one of France’s most illustrious dynasties. But underneath the facade, Seraphine struggles to hold it all together. Besides grieving her adoptive father’s suspicious and sudden death, she also shares a tenuous role in the family business with Blaise, her in-name-only cousin. As tumultuous as their history is, he may be the only member of the deceptive Dumont family she can trust.

Seraphine is a temptation Blaise can’t resist. The torch he’s carried for years still burns. It’s his secret—a quiet obsession just out of reach. Until his brother demands that he spy on the increasingly cagey Seraphine, whom their father considers a dispensable Dumont outlier. But the more Blaise watches her and the closer he gets, the more he sees Seraphine may have every right to be suspicious. And she could be the next one in danger—from his own family.

As blood runs hot and hearts give in, Seraphine and Blaise have only each other. But can their love survive the secrets they’re about to uncover?

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“We can never be together, Blaise,” Seraphine says, like frustration is rolling through her. “I know you understand that.”

“But it doesn’t mean we can’t try.”

“No,” she says and suddenly gets up to her feet, walking out of the room. “No. I can’t do this. I can’t handle this,” I hear her cry out as she heads down the hall.

I get up and run after her, grabbing her by the arm and pulling her right up against me, and she opens her mouth to protest and then my mouth is on hers, swallowing her words.

I kiss her with everything I have, every bit of anger and frustration and the years of lust and pining and wanting. I should be more gentle after the night she’s had, but I can’t help myself; in fact, I think I’m seconds from turning into an animal as I hold the back of her head and press my hand at the small of her waist, keeping her pressed as close to me as possible.

Her tongue slides across mine, hot and fevered and—

She pulls back, gasping for breath, and slaps me across the face.


That hurt.

“What the hell is wrong with you?” she says. “What are you doing? What am I doing?”

Her face is red with anger, perhaps even shame. I mean, my cheek is stinging from her powerful wallop, but even so, I expected it. She’s always been the type of woman to put you in your place. But I didn’t expect her to slide so easily back into hating me.

“Don’t pretend you haven’t been dreaming about that,” I tell her, trying to control myself. “Don’t pretend that you haven’t wanted that, wanted me, all these years.”

“The only thing I’ve been dreaming about, Blaise, is getting justice for my father. That’s it. That’s all that matters. And as far as I’m concerned, you’re no better than the rest of them.”

Anger pokes at me, building up inside. “Hey,” I say, my inflection razor sharp. “I risked my neck tonight for you. I saved you from a bad situation. And more than that, I let you know the truth. I chose you over my family.”

“And I’m choosing not to trust you,” she says. “You’ve given me no sign over the years that I mean anything to you at all. Why should I believe you now? Why do that when it might derail everything I’m working on?” Something comes over her, a flash in her eyes, as she’s realizing something. “This is all a setup, isn’t it? This is just something that Pascal is having you do, just like you followed me. You’re supposed to tell me all this nonsense about wanting me and staying celibate like some joke and waiting for me, and it’s all a lie to get my guard down. If you’re telling me I’m in danger, it’s because you’re putting me there.”

I knew she’d go this route at some point, but even so, it stings. “That’s not it at all. Seraphine, please, I’m serious.”

“You just want me to back off because I’m close to the truth,” she says, shaking her head wildly as the idea takes over. “For all I know, every single thing this evening that’s come out of your mouth has been a complete lie, all to throw me off.”

I run my hands down my face, trying to squash my frustration. I knew this was coming, and yet that tiny coal of hope was always burning inside. “That’s not true,” I mutter into my hands, but I know when she gets like this that there’s no changing her mind.

“Get out,” she says.

I look up to see her opening the door and gesturing for me to hurry up.

“You’re making a big mistake by not trusting me,” I tell her.

“And I don’t take threats very well. Get out, and if I see you around me again . . .”

I almost laugh. “You will see me again. At work tomorrow.”

“Right. I almost forgot that you’re taking over my job.” She runs her fingers under her eyes and sighs so defeatedly that leaving her feels like a crime.

“It’s not like that,” I tell her.

“Just go,” she says quietly, holding open the door and looking away, like she can’t be bothered to face me.

“You know where to reach me, if anything happens,” I tell her as I walk past and out into the hall.

“If anything happens, you’ll be the first one I’ll blame,” she says to me.

Before I can say anything in response, she closes the door in my face.

Author Bio

Karina Halle, a former travel writer and music journalist, is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author of The Pact, A Nordic King, and Sins & Needles, as well as fifty other wild and romantic reads. She, her husband, and their adopted pit bull live in a rain forest on an island off British Columbia, where they operate a B&B that’s perfect for writers’ retreats. In the winter, you can often find them in California or on their beloved island of Kauai, soaking up as much sun (and getting as much inspiration) as possible. For more information, visit

Author Links: Website * Facebook * Twitter * Goodreads


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Spotlight and Q&A: Love Is a Rebellious Bird by Elayne Klasson

Klasson’s debut novel asks tough questions regarding love

  1. Can you tell us where the title of this work came from?

The title comes from the opening line of The Habanera, the aria sung by Carmen in Bizet’s great opera of the 1870s. Flamboyant Carmen sings of how you can’t control love. When love does come, you may not want it. However,  “…you call him quite in vain if it suits him not to come…”. There is also a lyric in The Habanera saying “love has never, ever, known a law…” which is fitting and ironic as Elliot, the object of Judith’s love, is a prominent lawyer, for whom the law serves as a type of religion. This is actually the first and fourth title! I abandoned it originally after a friend in publishing dismissively said, “no one likes opera.” But then, after trying two other titles, went back to the original. I love opera.

  1. Why did you choose to write this novel in second person – to have Judith speak directly to Elliot?

I found that after the book was nearly complete, I questioned who Judith was telling her story to. I wasn’t happy with this being told to an anonymous audience. I thought Judith could finally be honest with Elliot by telling the story to him..addressing him even if there was a possibility he might not hear her. She had, for so long, been afraid to express her true feelings to him. If Portnoy hadn’t already done it so perfectly, I might have had it be in a long therapy session! 

  1. Childhood love is often dismissed as naive, but Love is a Rebellious Bird follows lovers from childhood throughout their mature lives. Why do you think it’s important we discuss and acknowledge love at every stage of our lives?

I agree that childhood love is often dismissed. Yet, I think these formative relationships in pre-adolescent and teen years are crucially important to who we become and how we view ourselves in relationship to others. I am in such awe of Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend and the subsequent 3 books in her Neapolitan Quartet. She explores relationships formed in the character’s early years and how this put a deep mark on the women the girls in the quartet become. In Love is a Rebellious Bird, Judith had such admiration and adoration and compassion for Elliot as a kid, no one else could ever match up. She says in the novel that her feelings for him, even when they were young, become the definition of what love is. Similarly, the rejection she experienced from Elliot and others in their elementary and high school years, left marks on her, perhaps forever. I think the sometimes cruel rankings kids give each other, may stay with us. I went to my 50th high school reunion recently. It was a large Chicago high school and a surprisingly well-attended event. And while there were many surprises, the crowds and cliques were still firmly in place.

  1. You have lived in a variety of locations over the years, from the midwest, to Barbados, to California. Has this sort of worldliness influenced your approach to writing or the way you understand your characters?

Perhaps the years in the midwest, the Caribbean, and northern and southern California has convinced me of the importance of our universal search for love. I’ve been a columnist in both the Caribbean and California, and it is obvious that everyone wants to be “seen” and understood through intimate relationships. I interview people for most of my columns and I know how much people (old, young, disabled, athletes, professionals, working class) want to be heard and how rarely we listen deeply to each other. I also know that coming into people’s lives at a particular age means we never get to know the person they were in earlier stages. My husband and I recently moved to a different area of California, four hours south of the previous town we’d lived in. I feel sad that no one really knows who we were earlier, just as I can only guess at the rich and juicy lives of the people we are meeting now who are in the later stages of their life (sixties, seventies, beyond). Who were the babes? The powerful men? What were the tragedies? The accomplishments?

  1. While this is your debut novel, you have extensive experience a columnist and journalist. What was your experience in this transition?

I have been writing fiction for twenty-five years. Plowing away at it. My idea was that if I kept writing, I’d keep getting better and eventually, I’d get read. I won a few awards, writer’s residencies, but got very little recognition. But I kept writing fiction because I love doing it. I love creating characters and populating a world with them. But novels take years to complete, and I live inside them. Writing columns and features is another matter completely. It allows me to finish something in a few hours and have that sense of completion and see it in print the next week. It also allows me to broaden my world by talking to real people..not just the ones in my head!

  1. Do you find that your background in psychology and studying human behavior has aided you in your writing, especially your fiction writing?

I really do love talking to people and trying to figure out what makes them tick. The act of giving someone your undivided attention, is a successful one in both a therapeutic sense as well as in writing and in life. For years, I taught a university course called, “Frames of Reference,” in which I would lecture psychology students on the various therapeutic schools: analytic, behavioral, humanistic. But I always stressed that the most successful therapeutic method is to truly listen deeply, giving the person the honor of being really paid attention to. I think this works in newspaper interviews and in fiction writing. In fiction, I try to really listen to the character’s voice and what they might be saying and feeling. Sometimes the characters come from real life as I remember them, sometimes they are completely imaginary. But I try to listen respectfully.

Title: Love Is a Rebellious Bird by Elayne Klasson
Publisher: She Writes Press
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 336 pages


Who is it we love and why do we love these people? Toward the end of her life, Judith asks these questions, trying to understand why she chose Elliot Pine to love. Why, for sixty years, did she persist in loving someone who never gave as much as he was given? In her quest for understanding, she writes her story to this exceptional man. Meeting as children in Chicago, they move to opposite coasts. Elliot embarks on a remarkable legal career in Washington and New York while Judith raises her children alone in California, after tragedy. Coming together again and again throughout their lives, their love is never equal, Elliot defining the terms of the relationship.

Judith examines the role of Beauty in love, for Elliot’s face and form were beautiful. She considers the role of Consolation, how they supported one another in devastating times. Insanity, Magic, Deceit, Sensory Fulfillment, and, finally, Being Seen—Judith looks at these many aspects of her love.

Her feelings for this man cost her, impinged on every other relationship in her life: friends, her two husbands, even her three children. After sixty years, however, it all changes. Judith makes one more profound sacrifice, finally achieving a sort of long-awaited happiness in her love.

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Praise for Love Is a Rebellious Bird

“A beautifully written tale of enduring love by a master storyteller.”  — Jill G. Hall, author of The Black Velvet Coat and The Silver Shoes

“Elayne Klasson’s artistic and compassionate novel Love is a Rebellious Bird focuses on a lifelong love affair. . . an operatic, enduring, and subtle romance.” —Foreword Clarion Reviews

“A deeply touching story that moves deftly through the decades to a sweet and graceful finale.”  — Carl Alasko, Ph.D., author of Beyond Blame

“Klasson shows us the seismic repercussions of a love, more unequal than unrequited, that vibrate over a lifetime.” — Stacy Swann, author of novel Olympus, TX (forthcoming from Doubleday in 2021) and Contributing Editor at American Short Fiction

“Elayne Klasson has written a novel that is both very real and very brave… I was captured.” — Gerald DiPego, Novelist: Keeper of the City, Screenwriter: “Message in a Bottle”

“In her testimony to the strength of enduring love, Elayne Klasson captures an abiding affection that transcends time and place, that is never maudlin, but looks at what was gained and sometimes lost in a friendship that is full of the best of human nature.” — Mashey Bernstein, Ph.D. Professor of Writing, University of California, Santa Barbara

Author Bio

ELAYNE KLASSON is the author of Love is a Rebellious Bird. She went to university and graduate school in the Midwest—Ohio State University and the University of Michigan with a Masters of Public Health and then a PhD in Psychology. She has lived in Barbados, West Indies, first working as a health-care consultant with Project Hope and the U.N. in the Caribbean; then, several decades later, as a writer and columnist for the Barbados Daily Nation. Her professional career has largely been in academia at San Jose State University, with her research and clinical area of expertise being the severely mentally ill. A recent transplant to the Santa Ynez Valley, she is a popular lifestyle newspaper columnist. Elayne has also appeared on San Francisco public television as a restaurant critic. She is married to David, a scientist. Between them, they have five children, all grown. For more information, visit:

Author Links: Website * Goodreads

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Tour Stop, Q&A & Giveaway: The Family Journal by Carolyn Brown

Carolyn Brown Answers Questions About Writing a Hundred Books

1. Tell us about the first time you remember ever putting pen to paper. Was it a slow evolution to becoming an author, or did you have an epiphany that this is what you were supposed to be doing?

I really can’t remember when I didn’t write stories, but I got serious about writing a book when my third child was born. She had her days and nights turned around. Since I had to be up until the wee hours of the morning, I got out a notebook, sharpened some pencils and started my first novel. I was twenty-four that year. For the next twenty-five years I collected rejection slips. I do believe I have enough to wallpaper the White House. I don’t mean that little two holer down at the end of the path in Grammie’s back yard, but the one in Washington, D.C. When I was forty-nine, I got “the call”. That was twenty-two years and one hundred books ago, and I know in my heart and soul that this is what I’m supposed to be doing.

2. Is there anyone in your family that writes? Did you have a mentor that helped you push forward to become a full-time author?

My husband, Charles C. Brown, has written nine mysteries and is working on his tenth. He’s been my biggest supporter through my whole career. He’s a retired high school English teacher and he does the first edit on my books. Commas are not my friend, but they are his buddies—thank goodness.

3. How have you evolved as an author? What are some things that have changed since when you started writing up until now?

In the physical part of the business, lots has changed. I wrote most of my very first book by hand. When Mr. B bought a used typewrite at a garage sale and brought it in to me, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. In those sent in proposals with SASE (that’s self-addressed stamped envelopes) and if the editor wanted to see more, we sent in the full manuscript by mail. Now everything is sent over cyberspace. I will be donating the typewriter Mr. B bought me to the Johnston County Chickasaw Bank Museum on November 16th. My display shares a room there with Te Ata, Gene Autry and Blake Shelton. I’m signing copies of The Family Journal there on that day from 2 to 4 p.m.

In the evolution as a write, I hope that each book is better than the last and that all my books resonate with readers, touch their emotions and make them anxious to get the next one.

4. Do you have a set schedule for writing? Do you have any writing rituals or things that get you in the mood to write?

I’m very disciplined. I write somewhere between three and five thousand words a day. Sometimes it’s pure trash, but you can fix trash. You can’t fix nothing. From the time I start a book, my characters are in my head. They eat with me, sleep with me, talk to me…. shhhh…don’t tell anyone I hear voices!

5. Tell us about some turning points as a writer – some big things that happened that really changed your career.

One of the biggest things that changed my career was when Amazon bought the literary company, Avalon, and turned more than forty of my titles into paperbacks and digital. That made them financially available for more people, and my readership grew by leaps and bounds. Another was when I finally made the New York Times and the USA Today bestseller lists. But I have to say that hitting the number one spot on Amazon was a really the icing on the cupcake.

6. What does your writing future look like?

My future will simply be to keep on doing what I’m doing, and hope my readers continue to love my stories. There are five books on the docket for 2020, and four or five novellas. And we’ve already got a few scheduled for 2021.

7. What made you want your book, The Family Journal, your hundredth book? What makes this story and these characters special to you?

Family! Plain and simple. What better way to celebrate reaching one of my goals—to publish one hundred books—than to write about family? This story is about several generations of strong women in the past, a mother who’s at her wit’s end in the present, and a young daughter who represents the future. It’s family from the emotional first scene to the last.

Title: The Family Journal by Carolyn Brown
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 296 pages


Join the millions who have fallen in love with New York Times bestselling author Carolyn Brown in her landmark hundredth novel.

At the end of her rope, single mom Lily Anderson is determined to move her rebellious children in the right direction. That means taking away their cell phones, tablets, and computers—at least temporarily—and moving to the house where Lily grew up in the rural town of Comfort, Texas. But Lily has a bigger challenge than two sulking kids.

The house comes with Mack Cooper, high school teacher and handsome longtime renter. The arrangement: just housemates. But Mack’s devoted attention to the kids starts to warm Lily’s resistant heart. Then Lily finds an old leather-bound book in which five generations of her female ancestors shared their struggles and dreams. To Lily, it’s a bracing reminder about the importance of family…and love.

Now it’s time for Lily to add an adventurous new chapter to the cherished family journal—by embracing a fresh start and taking a chance on a man who could make her house a home.

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Lily reached for her tea at the same time Mack was setting his glass back down. Their hands touched again. Her breath caught in her chest, and her pulse jacked up several notches.

“I’m going to ask you a dumb question,” he drawled. “Do you feel chemistry between us?”

Her chest tightened. Of course she felt something between them, but she damn sure didn’t want to talk about it like they were discussing the price of goat feed. And yet . . . they were adults, not hormonal teenagers who jumped into the fire with both feet when they felt something for another person. How many times had she told her clients in therapy sessions to talk things out?

“Why is that dumb?” she asked.

“It kind of sounded dumb in my head, and even more so when I said it,” he said.

“Yes, I do feel something between us.” She nodded. “I’ve wondered if it’s because I haven’t dated all that much. How about you?”

“No dates in three years. Nothing serious since Natalie,” he admitted.

“Do you think it’s because we hav-haven’t,” she stammered.

“No, I think there’s definitely an attraction between us, and I’ll tell you right now, up front, you deserve better than me,” he said.

Lily frowned so hard that her eyes became mere slits. “Why would you say a stupid thing like that?”

“I’m a high school vo-ag teacher, and I’ll never be rich. Hell, I’m forty-one, and I don’t even own a house. I’ve just got a pickup that’s paid for and a herd of goats,” he said.

“Why, Mack Cooper, are you thinkin’ marriage?” she joked. “You haven’t even kissed me yet.”

“I’m just thinking that we shouldn’t start anything without being completely honest, and, honey, I can remedy that kissing part anytime.” His green eyes twinkled.

Lily felt heat rising to her cheeks when she thought of kissing him. How in the devil would it even work if they did decide to go out, or got into a relationship beyond friendship? They lived in the same house with Holly and Braden underfoot all the time. “I’ve got two kids,” she blurted out.

“I’ve got forty goats.” He grinned.

“Did you say it’s time to go feed the goats?” Braden came across the room and leaned his arms on the back of the sofa.

Point proven, she thought.

“Yep, it is,” Mack answered. “I reckon we both need to get changed so we don’t ruin our good clothes.”

“I’ll be down in five minutes.” Braden ran up the stairs.

Mack crossed the room and bent to brush a sweet kiss across her lips. The tenderness of his mouth barely touching hers and his drawl combined to send a heat flash through her whole body. If that brief contact created such an effect, a relationship might burn down the house.

Author Bio

Carolyn Brown is a New York Times, USA Today, Publisher’s Weekly, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author and a RITA finalist with more than ninety published books. Her genres include romance, history, cowboys and country music, and contemporary mass-market paperbacks. She and her husband live in the small town of Davis, Oklahoma, where everyone knows everyone else, knows what they are doing and when . . . and reads the local newspaper every Wednesday to see who got caught. They have three grown children and enough grandchildren to keep them young. Visit Carolyn at

Author Links: Website * Facebook * Twitter * Goodreads


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Release Day Spotlight & Q&A: The Midnight Call by Jodé Millman

Please welcome Jodé Millman to Book Reviews & More by Kathy.

  1. Can you tell us about the real-life murder in Poughkeepsie that inspired THE MIDNIGHT CALL? In August 1979, Albert Fentress, a popular Poughkeepsie Middle School Teacher murdered Paul Masters, a teenager who was trespassing in his yard. Fentress tied up Masters in his basement and after mutilating his body, shot him. As a clever ploy to dismiss the murder charges, Fentress claimed that Wallace Schwartz, Esq., who received his midnight call for help, violated the attorney-client privilege. He claimed that Schwartz shared confidential information with Schwartz’s parents, who then informed the police about the homicide. After the dismissal was denied, Fentress was ultimately acquitted by reason of mental incapacity and has been institutionalized in a secure psychiatric center on Long Island. Under the law, a patient has the right to have his case reviewed every two years, and Fentress’s next potential petition for release will be in 2020.

  3. As a Poughkeepsie native, did you ever come across the history teacher who was the murderer? Surely, the most shocking this was the crime itself…that a teacher who was surrounded by kids all day could suffer a break with reality, and murder and mutilate a teen. It could have been any teen, at any time. Even me, as I had been one of Albert Fentress’s students. Ten years before the Masters murder, Fentress had been my World History teacher at Poughkeepsie High School. He’d been charming, charismatic and engaging to his students and had maintained a sterling reputation in the school district during his teaching career. Naturally, the effects of the brutal, senseless murder rippled through our community as my lawyer colleagues, former classmates, the school district and parents mourned the loss of Paul Masters. Poughkeepsie, New York is a small city, so the grieving family, the attorney charged with malfeasance, the criminal defense attorney, the police and prosecutors were my neighbors and friends, and I shared in their suffering. To this day, this tragedy remains a stain on our city’s history.

  5. You’re a member of Romance Writers Of America, International Thriller Writers and Mystery Writers of America. THE MIDNIGHT CALL intertwines a great love story and exhilarating plot. Do you think this is common in the thriller community? I believe in blending genres –thriller, crime, romance and action. When we read a novel, we want our characters to be three-dimensional and have true, believable lives. Simply because my characters’ lives are in jeopardy, that doesn’t preclude them from experiencing a passionate love life. Love always raises the stakes, creating tension to propel our characters, as well as the readers, forward. By incorporating crime, romance, office politics and courtroom drama, I hope to keep my readers on the edge of their seats.

  7. At what point in your life did you become an author? Believe it or not, I “inherited” my non-fiction writing career. My father, Sandy Millman, wrote a guide to Broadway Theater, “SEATS: NEW YORK,” in 1999. When he passed away unexpectedly, his publisher, Applause Theatre and Cinema Books, asked if I would represent him on the promotional tour. When the book became a success, Applause wanted to continue the series and asked if I was interested in writing the second edition. This request arrived at a fortuitous time, as I had closed my law practice when my family relocated to Ann Arbor, Michigan. After twenty years of practicing law, writing SEATS was a welcome change, and as all writers know, we can research and write anywhere.

  9. Has your career in law influenced any details in the book? Like my protagonist, Jessie Martin, I wanted to become an attorney ever since I was a teenager. Also like Jessie, it was my after-school job in a law office that hooked me on the intellectual and personal challenge of practicing law. While she and I also attended the same college and law school, Jessie is not modeled after me, however, I instilled in her my love, reverence and excitement about the law.

  11. What attracts you to the crime-fiction genre? As a litigator, I observed, first-hand, the darker side of human nature. Revenge, greed, anger, and betrayal transformed people who once loved each other or worked together into mortal enemies. Observing these intense emotions inspired me to write about law, dig deeper into the mystery of the human psyche, and in the case of THE MIDNIGHT CALL, to examine what would lead someone to randomly steal the life of a complete stranger.

Title: The Midnight Call by Jodé Millman
Publisher: Immortal Works
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 460 pages


Who would ever suspect that their mentor, teacher, and friend is a cold-blooded killer?

Attorney Jessie Martin didn’t—at least not until she answers the midnight call.

Late one August night, Jessie’s lifelong mentor and friend—and presently a popular, charismatic, and handsome high school teacher—Terrence Butterfield calls. He utters a startling admission: he’s killed someone. He pleads for Jessie’s help, so out of loyalty she rushes to his aid completely unaware that she’s risking her relationship, her career, and her life—and that of her unborn child—to help Terrence.

Does Jessie’s presence at Terrence’s home implicate her in the gruesome murder of the teenage boy found in the basement? Why does Terrence betray Jessie when he has a chance to exonerate her of any charges? Has he been a monster in disguise for all these years?

To reclaim her life and prove her innocence, Jessie must untangle the web of lies and reveal the shocking truths behind the homicide. This quest turns out to be the fight of her life: to preserve everything and everyone she holds dear.

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Author Links: Website * Facebook * Twitter * Goodreads * Instagram

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