Thoughts on Thursday: Why I Love Romances

2015-Discussion-Challenge3

Why I Love Romances

I think the first romance I ever truly recognized as a romance was between Laura Ingalls and Almanzo Wilder in the Little House on the Prairie series when I was in 4th and 5th grade. The next one I can recall was the romance between Janie and Reeve in The Face on the Milk Carton series, and by then I was already halfway through middle school. These are the first two couples and romances I think of meeting and being introduced to when I think back in my own reading in the younger years.

There are so many books out there that have a clear-cut romance in them, or they have a romance simmering in the background of all that’s going on in the plot. There are some that don’t even touch anywhere near a romance, and that’s OK.

But I love reading about a budding romance in a book. No matter what the set-up for the plot, I always know I will feel good at the end of the book. The romance genre typically follows the same pattern, so I know as I approach the end of the book what I’m going to get. Even though these characters do not exist in the real world (unless based on a true story or NF), I feel a small personal triumph that these two people have come together. Is that just me?

There are the ohmygosh moments when you know what’s about to go down, and those I-Knew-It! moments. Then there are those warm, fuzzy feels you get in those good moments. And then there are (sometimes) those hot, steamy, hose-me-down feels.

I’m good with all of those things, any combination. However, there is a fine line between romance and erotica, and I feel that some try to push erotica into the romance genre when it is deserving of that erotica label.

I’m sure you can say this about every genre, but a romance can be read in any season. True, there are those Christmas-specific ones, but that’s part of my point. There are some set during specific times of the year, and with the exception of the Christmas ones, I love reading those year-round. I try to leave Christmas romances with the Christmas season.

How do you feel about romances in books?

Who are some of the first couples you can recall from your own reading?

Where do you draw the line between categorizing a book as a romance or erotica? 

Advertisements

Book Review: The Colors of Blue

20744355Title: The Colors of Blue
Author: Lance McCulloch
Release Date: November 2013
Length: 264 pages
Series?: no?
Genre: romance, chick lit
Format: e-book
Source: Smith Publicity

Find the book: Website | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis

In the new inspirational novel The Colors of Blue, Colorado native and chemical engineer turned fiction author Lance McCulloch introduces his readers to a compelling narrative of two emotionally shattered and vulnerable people, who gain a second chance at love and life through finding each other.

Sara Field has a unique gift – she can see the auras of others.  However, her gift for picking up colors fades after her fiancé betrays her in the most heartbreaking way possible.  Meanwhile, Rick Wheeler has suffered the tragic loss of his wife, and finds himself collapsing under the pressure to build his financial empire. Together, Sara and Rick connect, feel comfort in one another, and fall in love during one extraordinary weekend in rural Colorado.

As the story unfolds, readers see two very broken people fall in love as McCulloch ties together the beauty of nature and the human spirit.  The themes of adventure, love, intrigue, passion, and happiness are woven together tightly in this epic romance. Through strongly developed characters and rhythmic prose, readers are taken on a riveting journey that joins two hearts together and provides a renewed promise of true love and lasting happiness.

This emotional, inspirational, and uplifting novel also reveals:

  • How the purity and beauty of nature can restore our spirit
  • The power of finding a love that transcends time
  •  The importance of mourning the loss of a loved one
  • Why we need to understand and overcome grief to move forward
  • How to revive our identity and true colors after a devastating loss
  • How taking up a simple hobby such as fly-fishing can help us look inward and gain an introspective view of life

“Although The Colors of Blue is fiction, it is loosely based on the true story of my father’s recovery from my mother’s death,” said McCulloch. “I also wrote it as a means of escaping the depression of my failing company.”

Review

When Lance’s rep at Smith Publicity asked if I’d join on his blog tour and sent the book, I was very intrigued by the title. I had no idea what it meant, and now I know that it means everything. Everything that is important, at least.

Lance has written a beautiful novel that is not a typical romance novel. If you’re looking for a typical romance, this is not it. This is SO much more.

Sarah Field can see and feel the world in colors. No, she’s not crazy. After she begins growing up, she loses her colors. They come back when she becomes a kindergarten teacher. She lives with her fiance, who has business ties to her sister’s fiance. Right there should have given me a tip off: business and family don’t mix.

Greg asks her a funny question one morning during the regular routine of getting out the door to work…and Sarah finds a bobby pin in the closet.

She teaches a large number of kindergarten students. Her principal tells her they will be absorbed into the remaining two kindergarten classes because she is losing her job due to budget cuts. She points out there would be over 50 kids in each class, which is not possible because there is a cap in the low 20s for the lower grades. That was one major flaw I saw in McCulloch’s writing, but I knew that losing her job would allow Sarah to make some changes in her life, and it would also be something for her moneybags fiance to hold over her, to use to entice her back. Although, I don’t think the man knows the definition of entice, or seduce. He is not suave in the least.

Sarah’s sister is getting married, and her moneybags fiance’s family is footing the bill for the entire bridal party to indulge for a week at a Tres Padres outdoor resort. The men are all about fly fishing, and the women all about gossip. Sarah doesn’t quite fit in with her sister’s friends, and the one she knows will give her moneybags fiance the ammunition for a shattering blow.

While Sarah is relaxing and resting, she gets to know the Tres Padres manager, Huff. They share a love for the history of the land, and they develop a close relationship. She meets his wife Maria, who also has the colors.

Also there to relax for a while is Rick Wheeler, billionaire in disguise. All, especially moneybags fiance, take him for a fishing guide. He has a gentle nature and disposition, has quick wit and sees a spark with Sarah. He has been caught in the grief and emotions ever since his wife’s death, and he’s just not ready to move on. Or so he thinks. 😉

Sarah and Rick build a gentle romance within the vast expanse of the beautiful Colorado mountains. McCulloch knows what he’s writing about, and he paints vivid pictures of the landscapes and the adventures. Rick and Sarah are both well-rounded characters in their own right, but bringing them together brings out even more from them. He leaves  readers to come to their own determinations about their true character, and Sarah’s sister is the one who set me up with two very wrong thoughts about Sarah and Rick. I underestimated them both, and I find that they are indeed very strong and resilient.

Meanwhile, moneybags Greg has also been invited on the trip so that he may rekindle his ego with Sarah. She puts him off and puts him off and he thinks he’s making headway, then realizes he might be losing out to Rick, and delivers Sarah with a shattering blow that has some serious ramifications. I thought there would be more detail about those ramifications, but there weren’t. Greg thinks he’s won her back, put field guide Rick in his place, but now everyone just thinks he’s an asshole.

Since this novel is third person point of view, McCulloch has taken liberties and given readers a semi-omniscient viewpoint. Readers will be exposed to Rick’s dreams. Most of them are about his past, especially about his wife, and one of them is so sadly sweet and beautiful that I cried. Rick was an amazing and wonderful husband, and it broke my heart to read the way their lives played out to the end. It was beautiful and heartbreaking. It was also the last dream Rick had about his wife in the novel, so I feel that it was closure for him and a sign from his wife, urging him to follow through with her last words to him.

Rick never tells Sarah who he really is, very much like the two leading characters in Saltwater Kisses (review coming soon!), although this novel had strong characters so they did not behave the same was as the main two in Saltwater Kisses, for which I was immensely grateful.

I don’t want to spoil it, but one woman laughs herself all the way to the magazine stand and back when Rick appears in a segment about the richest and hottest men. The magazine is mailed to Greg’s business office. Oh, you will enjoy that part! 😀

I’m left asking myself a few questions about Lance McCulloch and his debut novel. Will there be more Colors books? Will we hear Nancy’s story? Will we hear Maria’s story?

I’m looking forward to more Colors books. I want to hear Maria’s story very badly. She is a vivacious and energetic woman, and I want to hear her and Huff’s love story.  I also want to hear Nancy’s story (the MIL of Sarah’s sister).

Oh, and the colors of blue? That’s love.

7731618About the Author

The Colors of Blue is Lance McCulloch’s first novel.  He wrote this novel as a way to cope with the loss of his parents.  He lost his mother to cancer and then his father in the crash of Egypt Air 990 in 1999.

McCulloch has one brother who currently manages his family’s cattle ranch.  He worked for Fujitsu Microelectronics for several years in Portland, Oregon, followed by Cirrus Logic in the San Francisco Bay area. Then, he launched his own business in 2003.

Born and raised in Durango, Colorado, McCulloch holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from University of Colorado.  Currently, he resides in Colorado with his wife Jennifer and their three wonderful daughters.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Goodreads

Author Interview: Jennifer Hines & Mindy Bigham

Consider this an early Christmas present, from me to you!

The two lovely ladies, Jennifer Hines and Mary Bigham, sat down for a nice chat about the series, Sacred Promises, they co-wrote. Read my review of Sacred Promises here.

Tell your readers something unique about yourself.

Jennifer: This can be a difficult question to answer about one’s self so we decided to answer for each other. Mindy says it’s my imagination. That it can sometimes go way out there. Personally, I think it’s the crazy things I do with my kids, like teaching them to write legibly with their feet.

Mindy: Jen says it’s my non-judgmental and limitless friendship, and that those are very rare qualities that make me unique.

262254_137356043012031_6758463_n
Mindy (L) and Jennifer (R)

Jennifer: This one I blame completely on Mindy. She has been my inspiration and the one responsible for the literary monster I’ve become. I loved reading when I younger, but once I had kids the only books I seemed to have time to read were more along the lines of Dr. Seuss. Then after relentlessly trying to get me to read a series about sparkly vampires my excuses of not having any free time finally fell away, and I gave in. Reading four books in five days was only the beginning. We started perusing the book stores at lunchtime in search of new series to read.

A few months later I woke up from a dream and thought oh, that would make a good book, and so I got up and started writing it down. I brought it to Mindy to ask what she thought and the rest is history. We’ve been writing together ever since.

Mindy: I have always enjoyed reading. I can always pick up a good book and just relax and get lost in a story. I had Jen read a series (after about a week of convincing her that she could find time) and not long after we decided we can do this. It’s my hope everyone enjoys our stories and wants to read more.

How did you connect and start writing together?

Jennifer: Some of this I kind of explained in the previous question, but I’ll add on to it. We’ve worked together at the same company for a long time, and though we’re in different departments our personalities drew us together. We’ve been best friends ever since. In some ways we’re the same and other we’re polar opposites. I think that’s why we work so well together. And it sometimes makes our collaboration process very interesting.

Mindy:  Writing together is something we both really enjoy, and I like to think I bring out the best in Jen as she also does me as our minds can tend to drift off to daily living. We keep each other’s minds going, and keep each other on track with writing, editing and finishing in a timely manner. Sometimes we both need a push from each other.

What inspired your debut novel, Sacred Promises? What makes it special?

Jennifer: Abbey and Kaleb started as characters in my head and they developed into something greater than I had initially imagined. Together, Mindy and I decided this one would be perfect for our debut. It has an intriguing storyline and we thought readers would enjoy it.

Mindy: We actually started a series before writing Sacred Promises, but are not completely happy with it yet. Once we started writing Sacred Promises we just fell in love with the storyline and knew this was the one to start with.

Jennifer: The characters make Sacred Promises special. They have a life all their own, which pull readers into their world…or at least that’s my opinion, though it may be a little bias.

Mindy: I’d like to say we both truly love all the characters and have instantly formed a bond to each and every one of them since from the very beginning as I hope our readers do as well.

18073005
Book 1

Jennifer: My mind has a difficult time thinking in “small” terms. There were so many things I wanted to happen that they simply wouldn’t fit into only a single book.

Mindy: I love to read series. Single books are too short for me to read or write. Guess I like more details.

Jennifer: There will be three books in the Sacred Promises series. The first one is an introduction into Abbey’s world. The second, Warrior’s Oath which is scheduled to come out early Fall 2013, will dive more into the hardships Abbey will have to overcome in order to become the greatness she’s destined for. The final book (yet to be named) will wrap up all the lingering mysteries that occur in the first two books.

Mindy: I think the series could go on and on and as much as I would love for it too I think  three books provides enough for the readers to be satisfied once finished…I hope.

What’s the best part about writing this series?

Jennifer: For me, it’s the characters. I love how they develop from what I thought they were in my head, to what they actually become once they were on paper.

Mindy: I agree, but I also love the interaction between Abbey and Kaleb, and the struggles they must face. They want to be normal and have a normal relationship but have so much responsibility on their shoulders.

Could you tell us a little about your main character, Abbey?

Jennifer: Abbey is a normal teen, or so she wishes. She’s born into a position that doesn’t give her many options as to what she can do. Her responsibilities outweigh her personal wants and desires, and leave her stuck in a constant battle with herself to do what’s right.

Mindy: She wants to be a normal teen, but has so much responsibility, and tries not to forget that. It’s awesome to watch her grow as a person as the story unfolds.

Do you have any other books in the works? What are your future goals as writers?

Yes. Warrior’s Oath (Book #2 of the Sacred Promises series) is currently in the editing stage with book three in layout form. We also have an adult paranormal romance series called Dreama’s Destiny coming out in late Fall 2013.

Jennifer: I would love to make it to the NY Times Best Seller’s List, but until that time comes I plan on continuing to write books that also stimulate the reader in me. There’s nothing like reading your finished book and getting caught up in it like you’ve never read it before.

Mindy: I agree. I just want to continue to write and have people enjoy what they are reading and just relax. However Jen and I are not really the relaxing type and have more books planned long before we finish one. As long as our imagination works we will continue to write.

18625006
Book 2

Jennifer: The literary and publishing worlds are always evolving. Whether you want to be a published author or an indie one, the options available today are limitless. My advice would be to never take criticism to heart, yet use it constructively in order to grow as an author. Always follow your dreams and never give up on something you love doing.

Mindy: Do what you love. If you love to write, don’t stop. Get some reviews so you have honest unbiased opinions. Never give up on anything that you love doing, even if it is just for fun.

Where do you like to write?

Jennifer: I love to lock myself in my bedroom, put in my earbuds, and leave reality behind.

Mindy: In reality, anywhere it is quiet in my house. Having children can make you be creative with where you find that so majority of the time I am in my room. However, in my dream world I am sitting on a beach listening to the waves.

Which do you prefer: longhand or laptop?

Jennifer: Definitely laptop. Although any time an idea pops into my head I have to write it down. Because of that I have sticky notes and papers up all over the walls surrounding my desk at home.

Mindy: Laptop, but when one is not around I usually use the notepad in my phone.

What is your favorite genre to read?

Jennifer: I love YA, but I’m also becoming addicted to paranormal romance. Anything with magic, vampires, werewolves, shifters, etc. mixed with a good love story and I’m very interested.

Mindy: I agree with Jen on this one.

What are you currently reading?

Jennifer: I just started the Mortal Instruments series: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare. My son wants to go see the movie, but before I can take him I had to read the books first.

Mindy: I have books that I would love to read and have them marked on Goodreads, but we have just started the editing process with Warrior’s Oath, and have Dreama’s Destiny to finish so they will have to wait a little while.

Who are a few of your favorite authors? What are a few of your favorite books?

Jenifer: Richelle Mead, Lauren Kate, Tina Folsom, and Maya Banks

Mindy: Richelle Mead, Sylvia Day, Maya Banks and even a little James Patterson

Jennifer: I loved the Night World series by L.J. Smith, but I’m still waiting on the final book that’ll tie it all together. My favorite YA series has to be Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead, along with the spin-off series Bloodlines. Oh, and I loved Tina Folsom‘s Scanguards Vampires series. Those books rate pretty on high on my “will definitely reread” list.

Mindy: My favorite has to be the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead, along with the spin-off series Bloodlines. I recently fell in love with The Breathless Trilogy by Maya Banks, this is a series that I wish would have gone on and on.

What is the best thing that ever happened to you?

Jennifer: Without trying to get all sentimental, I’d have to say it was meeting Mindy. She and I have a friendship that goes beyond most. She’s always been there when I needed her and I wouldn’t be where I am today without her in my life.

Mindy: Awww, I agree with Jen. We have a very “sacred” friendship that most people never get to experience in their lifetimes. The best thing is we can work together doing what we love and still make time to hang out or go on vacation. We keep everything balanced to make sure our friendship stays grounded. I would not be where I am today, or doing this interview, if it wasn’t for Jen and our shared love of reading and writing. (Good thing I finally got her to read that sparkly vampire series…lol)

Look for my review of Warrior’s Oath soon! 

Find the authors: Website| Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads – Hines | | Goodreads – Bigham

 

Giveaway & Book Review : Dreamscape (Netherworld Book 1)

dreamscape(1)

Dreamscape by Christie Rich (Tarser Publishing, 2013)

Genre: paranormal romance, new adult

eBook_Dreamscape (1)Dreamscape is a New Adult novel due to the age of the protagonist and mature situations in the book. There are mild sexual situations and mild language. This book is recommended for readers 16+.

Every night before Amelia falls asleep she makes a wish to dream of him – the man who calls her to their beautiful private oasis, her sanctuary where she is free of her greedy landlord’s threats. But tonight, he will not call Amelia to him. Tonight, another man will step into her world to claim her. Tonight, Amelia’s shattering reality will crumble – and disappear into the Dreamscape…along with her freedom.

When Amelia dreams tonight, her nightmare becomes her new world where Seth is her captor and anything is possible…except escape. Seth needs Amelia to break the curse that binds him to the Dreamscape. He must convince her that she was made to free him, that she was made to join him.

For if he fails, he will never escape his prison, and he will lose Earth to the Netherworld where the evil Erobos wait to consume the human realm and everything in it. If he fails, Seth will lose the one thing that matters to him: Amelia.

This book is not what I expected. Dreamscape is an interesting twist on what some would call the subconscious. In fact, our dreams come from a completely different world – and are orchestrated by individuals who can’t escape their life.

In time, all will be revealed. 

I don’t even know where to start about this book. I have nothing to reference it to in all of my history of reading. That is most definitely an intriguing sign!

Amelia is a recent high school graduate who had a rough life. She spent time in foster care and doesn’t trust anyone. She knows nobody sticks around – except her grandmother Justine, who rescued her from foster life. But now Justine’s gone too.

Jason, the boyfriend in her dreams for years, no longer comes to her when sleep does. He’s left her too. She is truly on her own, with very little money and nowhere to go…until a strange man seizes her – and takes her to another world. Netherworld.

Friend is the real F word in my book. 

He is a strange man, with instantaneous healing powers, and the ability to make things appear. He tells her she also has supernatural capabilities…and that our dreams are sent to us by him and his dwindled team, called Oneiroi. They are working diligently to protect Earth from darkness, from the Erobos. Many Oneiroi have turned dark, changing allegiance and feeding off of fear and other dark emotions. The Oneiroi think Amelia is their saving grace.

Amelia, my realm is the only thing separating Earth from the Erobos. If my realm falls, so will Earth. 

But will she allow herself to believe in him?  To trust them? To take down the mask she wears and be her true self? Especially after she finds out he’s not exactly who he says he is; she knows this man very much, but doesn’t recognize him.

Will she betray Seth and walk into the darkness, like the one before her?

I enjoyed this book immensely; it was quite a different and refreshing read. It definitely keeps readers on their toes.

It was slow going at first, with Amelia being held captive by Seth in his house – a house with no escape. During this time Seth is slowly trying to explain things to Amelia: the history of the Oneiri, their jobs, the various places, the way the Eros (“shattered remains of one being that was cursed and eventually transformed from substance into energy”) came to possess Oeniri and turned them into Erobos. This section was a little slow going and slightly repetitive, but this was the transition and adjustment period in the book, and Seth’s attempts at gaining Amelia’s trust.

I did have difficulty understanding the mechanics of the Netherworld, the Dreamscape, Metaspace, the networks, and Seth’s “realm.” Toward the end it became easier as the characters are moving through these places, but I still didn’t feel confident I could explain this information satisfactorily to another person.

From beginning to end, Amelia flourishes as a character. She grows and expands her cognitive processes, and I feel like I connected well with her character. She wasn’t a turn off; she enticed readers into her mindset. She is strong before Seth steals her away from Earth, and she grows much stronger in many ways from her journey.

About Christie Rich:

I grew up daydreaming about fairytales, and my love for discovering new worlds has never died. I am not one of those writers who always knew I would write. I thought that was what other people did until one day, a few years ago, I took a challenge from a friend and typed my first words. My journey has been wonderful, and I cannot imagine a day where I would ever give up writing. My love for reading is what fueled my imagination in the first place and still does. When I am not writing or reading, I enjoy family time with my husband and two children.  My family and I live in a quiet community  in Northern Utah, and I am so thankful for the rich life I have been blessed with.

Find the author: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads

Enter for a chance to win!

There is a beautiful necklace custom-made by Primal Painter along with a signed paperback copy of Dreamscape. There is also a second prize of a $30 gift card.  Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway to win!

cbb(1)
Thanks for stopping by my blog for the Dreamscape tour! This tour is hosted by CBB Book Promotions and you can find the tour page with the schedule and links HERE.