Erin’s Bookshelf: Rock Bottom Girl

Do you like some comedy with your romance? A down-on-her-luck heroine just trying to figure out what she wants in life? A drool-worthy hero who’s sweet and sexy?

Do you kind of like soccer?

Then I’ve got the book for you! Fresh from the bookshelf, it’s Rock Bottom Girl by Lucy Score.

41f--I95grL

At thirty-eight, Marley Cicero finds herself dumped, jobless, and back in her childhood bedroom. It’s the rockiest of bottoms, as her main goal in high school was to escape the small town of Culpepper and live a life with meaning. She’s determined to get out again, but in the meantime accepts a temporary teaching position at her old high school, as well as the job of girl’s soccer coach. Her team hates each other, and her students don’t respect her. What’s a girl to do? Turn to the sexy history teacher who once roamed the school’s halls as the resident bad boy and stole a kiss from her under the bleachers, that’s what. Jake Weston can’t help but be drawn to the pretty new teacher who’s in way over her head. When a desperate situation calls for desperate measures, the two find themselves signing an ethics contract for the school stating they’re in a relationship, and can’t break up until the end of the semester. Jake agrees to help Marley out and be her fake-boyfriend, but there’s a catch: He’ll teach her how to coach, and she’ll teach him how to be in a relationship. It’s the perfect plan…until the line begins to blur between fake and real, and Marley finds herself falling for the job and the guy.

Rock Bottom Girl is one of the most adorable romances I’ve read in a long time. It’s lighthearted, funny, and has just the right amount of tension to keep you turning the page without bogging down the plot. Marley is such a down-to-earth character, anyone struggling to figure out what they want to do with their life can relate to her (which, I’m assuming, is a lot of people). Jake Weston is the perfect balance of fantasy and reality, with fully evolved emotions, real faults (the guy is a slob), and plenty of swooniness to make you blush.

The story doesn’t dive into the romance as quickly as I usually like, but the foundation that is laid leading up to the relationship of the leads adds a layer of authenticity that feels healthy and realistic. It’s clear the author took great care in bringing Jake and Marley together, and wanted them to be fully-fledged individuals before evolving into a couple. Also, I wouldn’t say I was necessarily a soccer fan before reading this book (I wouldn’t necessarily say I am after reading it) but the attention to detail and character development of the individuals on the team draws you in until you’re as emotionally invested in their growth as a group as you are in Jake and Marley’s growth as a couple.

I highly recommend this book, especially to anyone looking for a warm-hearted story that will make you say “ahhhhhhh” one minute, and have you fanning yourself the next.  It’s available for Kindle Unlimited, and in paperback (perfect beach read!). It’s cute, fun, and I already want to read it again.

Until next time!

Erin K.

10 Reasons to Read Romance

The Romance genre is one of the largest and most profitable genres out there, but it still often gets a bad rap. It gets labeled as “smut”, is not seen as sophisticated, or only as a guilty pleasure you’re too embarrassed to tell anyone about. Romance is so much more than people give it credit for, and if you’re one of those people who don’t consider Romance a serious genre, or have just never gotten around to checking it out for one reason or another, here are 10 great reasons to give it a chance!

1. There’s something for everyone!

jauntykeyflea-size_restricted

Do you like mystery? Suspense? Action? Adventure? Do you want something wholesome and sweet, or a little more…explicit? Romance has you covered! There are so many sub-genres to choose from, and among all the different authors with all their different writing styles, you’re sure to find a book to obsess over.

2. It’s more than “smut”…

maryedithgiphy

Romance isn’t just about the sex. It’s about emotions. Romance books focus on the emotional development of their characters, and how those developments effect the central relationship of the story. Some books do this better than others, sure, but even if there’s sex (because there doesn’t always have to be), a good romance interlocks it with the emotional and character growth of the couple.

3. …But the “smut” can be pretty great.

giphy

Romance novels can be a way for you to explore your own fantasies. It’s important to note the difference between Romance and Erotica, though. Romance focuses on the relationship of the characters. Erotica’s all about that sex. Still, Romance, and especially well-written, inclusive, equitable Romance, can help to open your mind to better understand your own sexuality and preferences.

4. You can always count on a happy ending.

giphy-1

By definition, a Romance novel must have a happily ever after (or at least a happily for now). So, even if the conflict between the characters seems insurmountable, you can take comfort in the fact that they will overcome it and end up together. Romance is about the journey, not the destination. So just enjoy the ride without stressing about where you’ll end up.

5. Strong female leads are often the driving force of the stories.

tumblr_n24tpcrmec1s2ypwgo1_500

Now, this isn’t to say that there aren’t problematic portrayals of women in Romance, but there are so many better books staring independent, intelligent, boss ladies. One of my personal favorites is Chloe Mills from Beautiful Bastard by Christina Lauren. She is a woman who is driven, ambitious, and quick-witted, with a spine of steel to go toe-to-toe with her boss/love interest Bennett Ryan. You can find female leads like Chloe throughout the Romance genre, and especially among new Romance.

6. Male leads are given the space to feel things.

6359655746632157951780943170_6359655628644861671535483203_emotions-gif

As with female leads, this doesn’t mean there aren’t problematic male leads in Romance. Many leads continue to fall into the alpha-male trope, but even within that, authors are dedicating more and more effort to the emotional development and vulnerability of their male characters. Since Romance as a genre is so centered on emotion, it make sense that the men in the stories would have to deal with their emotions in a way that isn’t often focused on in our society.

7. It can be a temporary escape.

tumblr_nsu8qqls3l1rf73xqo4_500

Life is hard, and sometimes you just need to occupy your mind and put aside your troubles, if only for a short time. Romance can be your escape, providing you a place where endings are satisfying, fantasies are indulged, and love conquers all. You can recharge your optimism with some feel-good stories.

8. We all love a little bit of drama.

tenor

Romance tends to get a bad rap for being “melodramatic”, but so what? People love drama, that’s why Keeping Up with the Kardashians and The Real Housewives shows exist. Drama is exciting, but also messy, so why not get your daily dose from a book instead of from real people?

9. It’s like a roller coaster.

source

You know that gut-deep thrill you feel when you’re plunging down that first slope on a roller coaster? Romance can be like that. It can take you for an emotional ride. The anticipation leading up to a first kiss in a Romance can be just as breathtaking as a love confession in the rain. Because Romance focuses on the emotions of the characters, it also tugs at your own emotions. You can fall in love with the characters just as they are falling in love with each other. Your heart can break when something forces them apart, and then be filled with joy when they are brought back together. Good Romance makes you want to emotionally invest in its story.

10. Romance is fun!

giphy-2

At the end of the day, Romance novels are just fun to read. They’re like a walk through the park, or a well-earned vacation to the beach. Something to enjoy and brighten your day, because we all need to let loose once in awhile.

Erin’s Bookshelf: Castle of the Wolf

It’s another edition of Erin’s Bookshelf, and I’m staying in the world of brooding heroes and sassy heroines. Romance! This week’s recommendation is particularly special, because it is one of my favorite books. I found a copy in a thrift shop years ago, picked it up on a whim, and fell in love with the story right away. It’s a little older, but I think it more than deserves some affection.

I’m talking about Castle of the Wolf by Sandra Schwab!

587901

You can purchase the Ebook on Amazon (admittedly, the paperback version might be a little harder to come upon).

Celia (Cissy) Fussell thought she was doomed to a life of spinsterhood and loneliness following the death of her beloved father. However, she is surprised to learn she was left an inheritance,the Castle of Wolfenbach tucked away deep in the Black Forest. There’s just one catch: In order to claim her castle, she must marry the Wolfenbach son. With the promise of a real future before her, Cissy travels from England to Germany to claim her inheritance and meet her future husband. Unfortunately, her intended is not as keen to meet her. Fenris Wolfenbach is haunted by more than the scars on his body. A former soldier who lost his leg in war, he has retreated from the world into his family’s former castle, and doesn’t appreciate the intrusion of the pretty English woman who claims his home is now hers. As the two clash within the walls of Wolfenbach Castle, they come to realize that all that glitters is not gold, and love can blossom even in shadows.

There are so many things I love about this book. It’s a fairly quick read, but it’s packed with emotion and detail. Cissy is one of my all time favorite heroines. She is naive and sheltered (as most women of somewhat noble birth would have been), but she’s funny, stubborn, smart, and views the world with a sense of wonder. Her love of fairy tales creates the framework within which the story is told.

Fenris is also one of my all time favorite heroes. Yes, he’s your typical brooding leading-man, but there’s a sweetness and vulnerability to him that makes his character endearing. He is terribly self-conscious about his body, and is riddled with guilt about his perceived ruining of his family. Not only is he strong, handsome, and overall swoon-worthy as any good romance hero is, but he’s emotional, and wants Cissy to love him even though he doesn’t think he deserves it.

Apart from the two main characters, this book is also beautifully written. The historical details are sharp without overburdening the story, and the author’s whimsical style of story-telling creates a good balance of drama and lightheartedness. There’s also a nice blend of Gothic themes with fairy-tale tropes (and not Disney fairy-tales…I’m talking old school Grimm brothers). The romance is steamy, but the emphasis is on the emotional development of the two characters rather than their physical attraction to each other (though that’s definitely there as well).

Though I obviously recommend it to everyone, I’d highly suggest this book to anyone who wants to dip their toe in the romance genre pool and see how they like it. Also, to anyone who leans more on the side of sigh-worthy stories over bodice-rippers. I promise, you won’t be disappointed.

Until next time!

Erin K.

 

Erin’s Bookshelf: Vicious (Sinners of Saint)

I’ve said it before, but one of my absolute favorite genres is romance. Paranormal, historical, contemporary…it it has to do with love, I’m probably going to love it. It’s the genre I read most, and it’s also the genre I’ve started to write in. So, naturally, I have a ton of recommendations for good romance books.

Today’s edition of Erin’s Bookshelf features one of my latest reads, and one of my new favorites. Vicious, book one of the Sinners of Saint series by L.J. Shen, is a contemporary romance available in paperback, Ebook, and Kindle Unlimited.

51bM01e8jAL

Now, the rest of the Sinners of Saint series is great (there’s five total to-date), but Vicious is my favorite. The story follows Emilia LeBlanc, a young artist struggling to support herself and her sick sister in New York City. One night, while hovering over rock bottom, she has a chance encounter with Baron (Vicious) Spencer, her high school crush/nemesis. Ten years earlier, he drove her from the small California town her family had moved to when her parents found jobs working on the Spencer’s estate. Vicious claimed to hate her then, and when they are reunited, nothing appears to have changed.  For Vicious, running in Emilia again presents the opportunity to settle old scores, and finally indulge his obsession with the girl who tormented his every thought when they were younger. He hates her, and she hates him, but he has to have her. The passion between them is undeniable, but their past mistakes and pain blur the line between love and hate until neither are sure where they fall.

There are three big reasons I love this book. The first is that I love a hero who is tall, dark, and a little broken. I’ve never been as big a fan of the straight-laced golden boys who don’t have any internal demons to wrestle. And man, does Vicious have some demons. Seeing how he comes to terms with them and deals with them makes me root for him that much harder, and keeps me from hating him at times (because he can be a real a-hole).

The second reason is that I like a story where the emotional stakes are as high, if not higher, than the physical stakes. There are plenty of stakes and conflicts outside of Vicious and Emilia’s relationship that keep the story engaging, but the emotional roller coaster that takes place between them is what made me finish this book in two days. There’s a realness and rawness to their inner conflicts and baggage that you don’t always see in romance, but when it’s there, it sets that book apart in a gigantic genre.

The third reason is that, in a world where women are compartmentalized as either prudes or sluts, I like a strong, quirky heroine who isn’t shy about her sexuality. Though her good-girl persona might make you think otherwise, Emilia is assertive in the bedroom, and even though Vicious is very much an alpha, she is by no means submissive. She gives as good as she gets, and is not shy about voicing her needs and demands when it comes to sexual situations (and non-sexual ones).

I could go on and on about how much I love this book, but I don’t want to give anything away. If you love romance, and want something that will keep you on the edge of your seat with a bad-ass hero and a strong-willed heroine, then go check it out for yourself, as well as the rest of the Sinners of Saint series (if you have Kindle Unlimited, you can read them all for free!).

Until next time!
Erin K.

 

10 Challenges Aspiring Authors Face

Being a writer is hard. Getting your writing published is even harder. Sometimes, it can feel like you’re all alone out there. That no one else knows the struggles you face pursuing your publication dreams

If you’re thinking of becoming a writer, or dream of publication, it’s better to know the challenges you’ll face from the start. Remember, though, that you’re not alone! There’s an entire community of people out there suffering just like you 🙂

10 Challenges Aspiring Authors Face:

1. Having a million ideas shooting through your head, and you can’t follow through on any of them.

http3a2f2fmashable-com2fwp-content2fuploads2f20132f052f100percent

2. Having NO ideas shooting through your head, and you’re grasping at straws.

giphy

3. Imagining a scene in your story perfectly in your brain, but totally blanking when you go to put it into words.

tumblr_mrsexc17bm1soox5to1_500

4. Writer’s Block – When your brain simply says “nope”.

writing-bad

5. Explaining to your friends and family that your writing isn’t just a “hobby”.

when-you-are-tired-of-explaining-something-over-and-over_666

6. Editing – The act of taking the manuscript you poured your heart and soul into, and ripping it apart.

980x

7. Procrastination – The internet is not your friend, and wants you to fail.

4gca

8. Writing a query letter – “Please love me!”

ordinarydigitalcatbird-size_restricted

9. Swimming in rejection, more rejection, and oh, look! More rejection.

source

10. Starting work on your next novel while the rejection letters roll in on your first one, because you refuse to give up on your dream.

 

Part of the challenge to publishing is being able to overcome all the challenges to publishing. It’s those people that stick it out, are dedicated to the process, and thicken their skins that ultimately make it. It could take two months, or it could take twenty years, but if your ultimate dream is to see your very own book on a bookstore display, then you have to stay in the game. Remember, you’re not alone! We’re all struggling together.

Until next time,

Erin K.