Father Figure

A heart-breaking tale of love, loss and redemption from two best-selling authors, teaming up for the first time for this epic, ugly cry, standalone forbidden romance.

Authors: Jane Harvey-Berrick & Alana Albertson

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Publishing date: 7th May, 2020

Available in Kindle Unlimited

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Forgive me father for I have sinned.

Father Gabriel found me on the street selling my body to the highest bidder. He thinks he saved me, but he’s wrong. I will never be redeemed. But then again, neither will he. 

Father Gabriel is a tortured man. Eighteen years ago, this former Navy SEAL made a mistake that caused the death of his best friend and Teammate. A man who was my father. 

Father Gabriel is fighting for redemption every single day of his life, trying to atone for his sins—saving a life for taking one.

He never knew that his friend left a daughter behind. Now I will make him pay for the life he stole from me. He owes me and I will collect: his body, his soul, his tortured love. 

I will break him. Ruin his life like he ruined mine. 

I choose darkness over light. I choose to do wrong, because it feels so right. And I’m going to do it again.


EXTRACT 1

After Morning Mass, I sat at the breakfast table watching Blue out of the corner of my eye, trying to figure her out. She was so silent and contained, and then sometimes hissing and spitting like a wild cat. It was rare to see her relax and be herself. There was something dark inside her, something that called to me. Which since I was a priest, was very fucking inconvenient.

Alone in my room, I turned to the one simple thing in my life and knelt beside my bed.

“Lord, I’m struggling. I feel like I’m splitting in two. I’ve been a priest for seven years and it’s been ten years since I answered your call. And in all that time, I’ve never felt this pull to sin and sin again. I’m failing your test, Lord, but I don’t understand why. What more do you want from me? How can I find peace again? Please help me, Lord!”



EXTRACT 2

When he saw me, he hesitated, and I could see that he didn’t know whether to talk to me or not. My cheeks hollowed as I sucked the ice cream cone harder, my eyelids lowered, then held back a smile as he strode over, his eyes darkening like he was affected. Hell, yeah.

“Hello, Father G,” I said with a sly smile. “Or is it Father Oh Em Gee? That’s what those girls over there call you. Did you know that? I bet you did. Do you like all those teenage girls lusting after you? I bet they touch themselves at night thinking about you like I do. I bet they scream your name when they come in their little white panties like I did last night. Do you like encouraging them to sin? Did you hear me come last night screaming your name?”

“Mariana, stop!”

His voice was shocked, hoarse with an edge of desperation, and I smiled up at him, cat-like.

“No, Father G,” I whispered so he had to lean closer to hear me. “I’m not going to stop. I’m going to go on and on and on until you admit what you’ve done, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

“What I’ve done? What are you talking about?”

“‘Behold, ye have sinned against the Lord: and be sure your sin will find you out.’ I looked it up, Gabriel.”

Confusion and guilt warred in his expression. I could see the rage and torment in his face. I dipped a finger in my ice cream and traced the shape of a cross over my chest, letting it melt and drip downwards. His eyes tracked the blob of ice cream until I spoke again, my tone intimate.

“I know what you want, Gabriel. You want me, don’t you?”

“No! And we’re not having this conversation. You’re a child and I’m a priest!”

His voice cracked but by now I could read him easily. Two years in juvie will teach you to read expressions, not the words that are spit at you. He was trying so hard to find the SEAL within him, but I needed to bring out the man … and I was winning.

I shook my head slowly.

“I’m all woman. And lying is a sin, Gabriel—so is wrath or is that lust I can see on your face? Maybe both—two sins for the price of one.” I sucked the ice cream into my mouth again, moaning, then licked my lips, and I smiled in triumph as his gaze flickered to my mouth. “Do you want to drag me away and fuck me like an animal? Maybe I’d let you, Gabriel.” His eyes darkened, two pools of deep despair. “I knew you’d like that idea. Do you prefer your women willing, Gabriel, or do you take them anyway?”

He ran his hands over his sweat-soaked hair, still military short, then raised his eyes upwards.

“Dear Lord! Why are you testing me? Why did you send this child-woman to torment me?”

“You’re not Jesus and I’m not Mary Magdalene. You can’t save me.” I leaned closer. “God didn’t send me, Gabriel. It was someone much nearer to you right now. I know who you are and I know what you are.” My voice iced over. “You’re a murderer and you’re going to Hell. Say hi to the Devil for me when you get there.”

Shock twisted his face and his fists tightened at his side. For a moment I thought I’d won and that he was going to hit me in front of all his flock.

“How can … why do you think … a murderer?”

I backtracked quickly, realizing that I’d overplayed my hand.

“SEALs are just government assassins, or are you telling me you never killed anyone? Because I wouldn’t believe you.”

He strode away, a curse falling from his full lips.

“Thou shalt not kill!” I called after him.

I smirked to myself. He was close to breaking, I knew it; I could feel it. He made it so easy. It was fun toying with him, watching him crumble, watching him abandon everything he believed in, watching him piss on his faith.

I sat in the shade, quietly eating my ice cream and watching, always watching.

Score: Father Gabriel – 0: High school Dropout Whore – 1.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw several of the girls on the bench glaring at me. What were their names? Oh yeah, Michelle was there: queen bee, bully.

When she’d finally gotten up the nerve, she sashayed her fat ass over to me, flicking her long mahogany hair for the boys who were watching, then stood with her hands resting on her hips.

“What are you doing here? No one wants you here, freak.”

Wasn’t that the truth.

I smiled at her.

“Just chatting to Gabriel. Deciding whether we’re going be fucking inside or outside. But he’s a pretty outdoorsy guy, so I think outside. Wanna watch?”

Her eyebrows shot up and her jaw dropped down. I watched, amused, as her face flushed red and a vein throbbed in her forehead.

“Oh my God! You’re disgusting!”

I gave her a cold smile. “That’s what he said,” I confided. “He likes that about me.”

Her jaw closed with a snap and she took a step closer so I could smell sweat and cheap perfume.

“You’re such a liar and nobody likes you. Father Gabriel would never touch a filthy whore like you.”

I laughed in her outraged face.

“Never heard of Mary Magdalene? We’re what these religious types go for. He wants to save me, Michelle.” I saw the half-belief in her eyes and knew that I’d won. “See you around,” I said, tossing my cone on the grass by her feet. “I have a date to get ready for.”

It really was too easy. And I knew that I’d given her some juicy gossip to share with her minions. That’s the thing about dirt—you throw enough of it and some will stick. And Gabriel was as dirty as they came.



EXTRACT 3

“Why even bother saving me if you’re going to treat me like a leper, and then telling everyone that I’m a whore so I can’t get a clean start?”

“I told you I didn’t do that,” Gabriel clipped out.

“And I told you I’m not buying your brand of bullshit,” I shot back. “Why did you do it, Gabriel? Any of it? Why give me hope then take it away? Why let me live at the Rectory then ignore me? Why say it would be my safe place then plan to send me away? It’s cruel. You’re cruel. It would have been kinder to leave me on the street!”

My voice had risen with every word until I was screaming at him. Suddenly it was all real—the fake emotions had been scorched away and I was confronted with the confusion and disgust and hatred and, God help me, attraction to this hulking man, this priest, this murdering scumbag, this fallen angel.

For a second, he just stared at me, then he held out his hand, the one that had tried to choke me. I hesitated for a moment, then wrapped my fingers around his, feeling his warmth and strength as he pulled me upwards.

We stared at each other across the darkness, so many lies building a barrier —the truth trembling unsaid between us.


Quick Quotes

If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much room.

I was going to make him regret every day of his life, every mistake that he’d ever made. I’d make him forget his vows and force him to sin, sin, sin, until every day of his miserable life was a torment to him.

Tears were a weakness that I couldn’t afford.

The whiskey bottle called to me and I answered willingly.

La Jolla, a place where the residents had million dollar views and poverty-level hearts.

“Hello, Father G. Or is it Father Oh Em Gee?”

“Lying is a sin, Gabriel—so is wrath or is that lust I can see on your face? Maybe both—two sins for the price of one?”

The man was a machine, a beautiful, sinful body with a dark and twisted mind.

I’d become a complete cliché, infatuated by a gray-eyed god with a mind so dark and scarred, I was quietly amazed he could function at all.

I was in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong man who was so, so right for me.


WHAT READERS ARE SAYING 

This was one epic tale and I absolutely loved every word. These two authors came up with something and made it amazing. I loved the character growth that Mariana (Blue) and Gabriel made.  I am simply amazed how I feel right now.

Tyra, Amazon reader

 

I could not put it down. I gave 5 stars because it takes talent to write that kind of story and make it real and believable. You care about Gabriel and Blue because they are human. Gabriel is trying to make up for a horrible mistake and Blue is fighting to get rid of the pain that she can no longer bear. You don’t read a love story like that everyday.

Kindle customer

 

Father Figure is a scorchingly devastating journey of hate, revenge, guilt, and hope. Just reading this book left me with singe marks on my heart, but a powerful hope that I just couldn’t shake. While there is nothing easy about this story, it is one that will leave with you with important questions and lift a small burden from your own shoulders. This beauty will ingrain itself into your very soul, and never let you go entirely.

Shadowplay, Amazon reader

 

WOW! This book was full of heat, turmoil, and secrets. It’s so wrong, but such a great read!  I give this story a 5-star review and highly recommend it if you enjoy stories of taboo love, age difference, angsty, tumultuous characters, or stories ex-Military men, you will love this story. It’s hot kept me on the edge of my seat.

Sassy K, Amazon reader

 

The story itself was a unique new take on this forbidden scenario and I was pleasantly surprised with it. I loved how the authors managed to inject so much of the hero’s faith into the story without it seeming preachy or over the top. It struck the perfect chord. There were twists and turns in this book that kept you invested and reading more.

The writing was beautifully done, raw and intense. I loved the characters’ separate journeys and this ended exactly the way it was supposed to. I can’t believe I’d never heard of these authors before but I can promise you they’re most definitely on my radar now. This was deep, compelling, romantic, raw, tragic, touching, and just an unforgettable story. I’m wowed.

The Tale Temptress, Amazon reader


Jane Harvey-Berrick & Alana Albertson

We really hope that you enjoy Gabriel and Mariana’s story. It’s some rollercoaster!

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Alana’s website

Jane’s website

 

Gym or Chocolate?

Gym or Chocolate? A feel-good romantic comedy from the bestselling authors of Undefeated and Model Boyfriend

Career girl and radio host hotshot Cady Callahan has never met a chocolate she didn’t love. She has curves and doesn’t care.

She’s shocked when a raffle ticket bought to support a veterans charity means she’s won a year’s membership to Body Tech, an exclusive Manhattan gym, where all the top athletes train and all the A-list actors go to get in shape for their action roles. She’s also won a personal trainer in the shape of far too tantalizing Rick Roberts.

Rick is less impressed when Cady’s arrival leads to a media circus. The retired British rugby ace runs a serious training facility, and he definitely doesn’t have time for anyone who doesn’t want to work hard.

When curvy Cady challenges him to train her to run a marathon by the end of the year, it seems a solution to both their problems. If … when she drops out of training, his gym will go back to normal.

But Cady isn’t planning on losing the bet—she just wasn’t counting on any complications. And surly Rick is very complicated. And as tempting as the tastiest treat…

 

Gym or Chocolate? is available in KindleUnlimited

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Buy a signed copy of this book.




UK 12.00
EU (Airmail 2-weeks) 15.00
World (Airmail 3-weeks) 19.00

 

Laura Devillard and Jane Devreaux

“No disability is big enough to destroy a dream.

 

 

I’ve known Laura for over a year now – she’s my French little sister, ma petite soeur – and we often send messages to each other.

We first met at the Festival New Romance in Paris, and so I was one of the first people to hear that she was writing a novel with her French author friend Jane Devreaux.

I’m so proud of their achievement – and so sad that my French isn’t up to the task of reading their first novel together, Broken.

But read on to find out how this fascinating collaboration came about.

 

 

How did you meet? When did you decide to write a book together?

 

Jane: First of all, reading has brought us closer. Laura read my books and we chatted on social networks. Then we met at the New Romance Festival and we got closer.

 

Laura: At first, I knew Jane as an author with her novel saga Close-Up. After that, we exchanged a lot on a daily basis via social networks. Finally, we met for the first time at the New Romance Festival in Cannes. It is only natural that trust has developed between us over time, and that we have decided to unite in our common passion, writing.

 

Broken is out in French on 9 January – congratulations! Can you tell us what it’s about?

 

Jane: It talks about a young woman whose life smiles but who loses everything at a party. She wakes up at the hospital and is disabled.

 

Laura:  Thank you very much! Broken is the story of two young teenagers who face a situation of disability overnight. It is a touching story, with many twists and turns, full of love and emotions. Don’t hesitate any longer to read this book!

 

 

Why did you decide to choose a title in English rather than French ?

We chose Broken thought the title sounded better in English than in French, Cassée.

 

What is the significance of the cover design ?

This cover simply and perfectly echoes the story of Colyna and Mozart. It means, I think we all have our own breaks in life. And we all have to live with it, to gradually rebuild ourselves.

 

How does it feel now that your book-baby is about to be revealed to the world?

 

Jane: Anxious and worried, too. We are always afraid that it doesn’t please, that our baby doesn’t find his audience.

 

Laura: I’m stressed, worried that Broken may not be appreciated. Actually, I don’t realize at all that I wrote a book. It has finally become a concrete project and knowing that it will be shared in the eyes of all is crazy!

 

When did you start to feel like a writer? When was the moment for you when you thought, Yes! I’m a writer!

 

Jane: Personally, I still do not feel like a writer, I feel that it would be pretentious. My books are not perfect, I’m not looking for beautiful rewards, I just want the reader to experience emotions.

 

Laura: Honestly, I still can’t admit that I am a writer. I still can’t believe I wrote a book! I hope one day to be able to tell myself that one day I am a writer! I think I will be able to believe that when I have a little more confidence in myself and my writing. I think that believing in yourself is a long journey that we follow throughout our lives.

 

What was your method for writing together – or as you say in French – a book of four hands!

 

Jane: Oh, I didn’t know that the ‘four hands’ theme wasn’t used in English! We started by writing a plan and agreeing on the unfolding of the story, and then progressed gradually. We wrote chapter after chapter, assuring ourselves that we were in agreement before continuing.

 

Laura: We did not have a method strictly speaking. We decided to write one chapter each at the beginning. But as soon as the writing of a chapter did not speak to us specifically, the other one took over. Honestly, we were always able to find common ground. Were a real team, Jane and I.

 

Laura, you told me this book has aspects that reflect your life? Did that make it harder to write – or easier?

 

I think that every author puts a little bit of themselves into each of their projects. Honestly, it would be a lie if I told you it’s 100% easier. No it’s not, at times it was hard for me to write some passages, sometimes I even cried and doubted because through Broken, it’s the first time in my life that I ever said words to myself about what touches me every day, the difference.

 

Jane, when you’re working with aspects of someone’s life story, what were the differences between this and writing pure fiction?

 

It isn’t always easy to write about feelings you’ve never felt. I tried to imagine myself instead of Laura, and she guided me a lot to write.

 

Laura, you and I have discussed how ill-health can make it a challenge to write sometimes, but tell us how this affects your writing. I know there are physical challenges to getting words onto the page or meeting deadlines when bad health stalks you. What are the mental challenges?

 

Excellent question! Like everyone else, I have days without issues and days with. Every night before I go to sleep I wonder if tomorrow will be a good day, if my hands will be cooperative and so will my other muscles, it’s an anguish every day. It was sometimes very difficult for me to respect the writing deadlines, when my body was lazy I was often two or three days late. Each time, I felt uncomfortable and sad. For Broken, I was lucky enough to be my own editor, and to have a co-author like Jane, very understanding in the face of my disability. Since I started writing and partly thanks to Jane’s support, I have understood that sometimes you have to let your body rest, to recover, when it needed it most, even if I don’t like it, because I always tend to do more than I should. I also understood that even if sometimes everything that matters to me takes time, as in this case, writing. No disability is big enough to destroy a dream. Writing for me is like living a waking dream.

 

Jane, you’ve been a writer for xx years and have written eight books. Have you written with a friend before? What are the pros and cons of this?

 

Broken is actually my eighth book. This is the first time I don’t write alone and I had to adapt. I wrote another story in parallel to give Laura time to move on her side, as well. And when Laura’s health prevented her from moving forward, I sometimes took over. But Laura invested a lot and despite the fatigue, she was always very present for our project.

 

Why do French readers dislike books in the third person? It seems to be a real thing.

 

Jane: I think it’s a story of habit. Before most books were written in the third person and it did not bother anyone. Today, the trend has reversed and many people have learned to appreciate it. The reader is more in the place of the hero in this way.

 

Laura:  It’s very real, but I disagree with Jane – personally, it doesn’t bother me at all.

 

What are you working on now?

 

Jane: I like juggling between genres. I am currently on a romantic thriller and a paranormal romance.

 

Laura: Right now, I’m just starting to get some ideas for a next solo novel this time. I am working on an original story that will take place in the 1920s.

 

What sort of books do you like to read?

 

Jane: I like reading everything, but I admit to being a little disappointed if there is no romance, even in the background, in the story.

 

Laura:  I read various kinds of books. Romance, biographical novels, science fiction, fantasy and finally books on personal development.

 

What is the most rewarding part of being a writer?

 

Jane: I think it’s sharing with readers. They push us to question ourselves, sometimes to see our stories from another angle.

 

Laura: I think it is to write with our hearts and then be rewarded with a positive or negative opinion, because I think any opinion is good to take. And I have the same opinion as Jane.

 

What do you want to achieve next?

 

Broken is only the beginning, we haven’t thought about it yet. Why not have it translated so that English readers will one day discover this story 😀 !

 

What is your favourite reader experience, either in messages or at an event?

 

Jane: At my very first festival, I made a reader cry when it wasn’t my intention at all. I explained to her how becoming a mother made me aware of all the dreams I had left out.

 

Laura, you seem to have a bit of a sweet spot for Stu Reardon. True or false?!

 

Jane: lol ;p

 

Laura:  I think it’s time I told the truth… Yes… Honestly, of course not, I don’t have a thing for Stuart, absolutely not. We are only friends on a daily basis. I have a lot of respect for him. I don’t think one person can be prettier than another. We are all beautiful, in our own way.

 

What is your philosophy in life?

 

Jane: Nothing is impossible

Laura: As long as there’s life, there’s hope

 

Describe yourself in three words.

 

Jane: Patient, calm, lonely

Laura: I am a generous, lonely and determined person.

 

How would your best friend describe you?

 

Jane: Strange, unsociable ;p

Laura: My best friends describe me as a pretty, generous, smiling and strong person, unsociable, a fighter, an open-minded, free, and a selfless person.

 

If you were an animal, what would you be?

 

Jane: A cat, I think I fit them a lot.

Laura: A dog, for sharing, love, and happiness.

 

Most likely to say…

 

Jane: I think I made a ball (I don’t know if that translates in English !)

Laura: I prefer reading other than sleeping and of course, Jane Harvey-Berrick is a fantastic friend and author.

 

Least likely to say…

 

Jane: You’re breaking my balls (sorry)

Laura: I’m afraid of the dark.

 

What is your favourite colour and why?

 

Jane: I studied art and I learned to love them all. Since then, it’s hard for me to make a choice.

Laura: My favorite colors are purple and red. I won’t be telling you why for the purple, but for the red, maybe I could tell you more. I like to wear them because apparently according to those around me, this colour enhances me and personally it gives me the impression of being stronger.

 

When you’re having a bad day, what cheers you up?

 

Jane: A little reading always makes me feel good.

Laura: My cure after a bad day is to read and live another life for a moment.

 

What would be your ideal day? Where would you be? Who would you be with?

 

Jane: Under my comforter with a good book or a family walk.

Laura: My ideal day would be to be surrounded by the people who matter to me. No matter where it is located

 

Mountains and snow, or beaches and sunshine?

 

Jane: Both, I am unable to choose.

Laura: Both too, I can’t choice.

 

Do you think writers are different to other people? Are we observers? Creators?

 

Jane: I believe everyone in his part of writer in itself, just some people develop it more than others.

 

Laura: I think we are as much observers as creators. I like to think that to create a universe above all, we are all inspired by what we observe around us on a daily basis.

 

Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?

 

Jane: With about fifteen more books and I hope a little more known.

 

Laura: In ten years, I would see myself living in a house with the person I love, our children and our dog. We will be united and filled. And I will continue to read and write.

 

What message would you like to give to the people who read your book/s?

 

Especially hope and full of adventures and emotions!

 

 

You can buy Broken in French at:

Amazon FR | Kobo | Google Play

Paperbacks to follow soon!

Add to Goodreads

 

 

 

 

Laura Devillard

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Jane Devreaux

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Brazilian Author: Paula Toyneti Benalia

L-R

Paola Scott, MS Fayes, Carol Dias, Paula, me

Paola is a Brazilian author of the historical romance novel O dia em que te amei (Deusas de Londres Livro 1), and contemporary romances O Doce sabor da vingança, Por um amor como dos livros, O doce sabor do desejo, O doce sabor da justiça and Inexplicável Amor.

She has the most sensational hair, reaching below her hips – it’s mesmerizing. On the trip to Brazil where I met her, she was accompanied by her delightful mother, and it was such fun getting to know them both (and be hugged a lot!)

She’s married and lives in Santa Adélia.

Translator: Carol Dias

 

How long have you been writing romance and what do you like about it?

I’ve been writing for two years. I love to give life to the characters and put all my crazy ideas on paper so I can bring this to readers.

 

What inspired you to write romance?

A lot of things. Music, something that’s happened to me, anything really.

 

What was the initial motivation or inspiration?

I always liked romance, I always wanted to be a writer. There was a moment when I could fit this into my life and start writing. It wasn’t a specific moment but it was the right time in my life. I was more more mature, and it was a more stable time of my life when I could develop this.

 

Which book are you most proud of?

O dia em que te amei. It’s my first historical romance, set in nineteenth-century London, and I’m proud because it reached lots of people. The characters are British, too. 

It’s about a lady who has been brought up to be the perfect wife but she’s not perfect! She’s trying to find a husband but no-one is right. Then she meets a Duke who has his own hidden agenda; he wants to find the least suitable woman he can in revenge for the way his family treated his sister who was kicked out of the family home because she wasn’t perfect.

They marry, but she’s not happy because she wants real love. He tries to tame her, and she has to do what he wants at home, but the opposite in public. But then …. no spoilers!

In another book, I killed a character, but not in this book.

 

How did you do your research?

It was hard because I had to learn about a country I’ve never been to. It’s difficult to learn about British history. I used to read historical romances so the language and style is familiar. I’m a fan of Julia Quinn.

 

What do your family think of your success?

They’re all proud and go to events with me, but they’re not readers and they haven’t read my books. They don’t know about the erotic scenes! Definitely not my husband. If he read them, I’d be as red as a tomato.

 

What do you enjoy about meeting readers?

I love the hugs, and all the love and affection they give to me, that I feel I’m an author in their hearts. In Brazil, we love each other deeply and we love to give hugs and kisses.

[JHB: I’d have to agree! There are English hugs… and then there are Brazilian hugs—“I need to breathe now!” LOL]

 

What’s the most difficult part of being a writer?

To find a good publisher in Brazil is difficult. I traveled a long way to find The Gift Box. There’s only a small independent culture, and it feels like readers don’t value those as much. There’s a lot of piracy, too, so that’s difficult.

 

What was your favorite childhood book?

I have a lot of favourites but two are special: O Pequeno Príncipe [The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry] and Vagalume series [Firefly by Jen Minkman].

These books all talk about the problems of teenagers: family, loss, love. I always wanted to be a psychologist, so these books helped.

 

Is being interested in psychology important to a writer?

I’m not a psychologist anymore but I worked with people who had problems in childhood, and this experience is reflected in my characters.

 

Describe yourself in three words

Impulsive, intense, determined

 

What piece of advice would you give to readers to help them in their lives?

Dream more and dream about love like it is in books! One of my books is Por um amor como dos livros [For love like in books].

 

What do you enjoy about meeting other authors?

Everything! We come from different countries, cities and religions, but we come together for the same goal. We have different views but still inspire each other.

 

What’s special about a Gift Box event?

The love that people have for the authors, the event and the publisher. Lots of people come again and again, so that’s really special.

 

What is your philosophy of life?

Live like there’s no tomorrow. I’ll spend all my money today because there’s no tomorrow.

 

What are you working on now?

A secret project for Gift Box! I’m also working on the second book in the series Deusas de Londres

 

How many books have you had published now?

Six

 

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

To have a lot of books published and selling all over the world!

 

What place in the world would you most like to visit?

Dubai. I like glamorous things and that would be Dubai.

 

How do you feel about the way women are treated in Islamic countries like Dubai?

That’s interesting. That’s one of the things I’d like to know because I’d like to write a book set in Dubai. If I know more about the culture I can understand better.

 

Where are you from?

A city Santa Adélia near São Paulo. A small city, so it’s calm and only 15,000 people live there. There’s no traffic or violence, and I can walk alone at night.

 

Do you have any pets?

No. I killed the fish I had as a pet! I don’t cook for my husband either! I like pets, that’s why I don’t have anymore!

[This gal cracks me up!]

 

Any final word for your readers?

Thank you for the love and affection. I promise that I’ll write a lot of books if you let me.

 

 

IG @paula_benalia

Facebook: Paula Toyneti Benalia escritora

Email: paulatoyneti@hotmail.com

Kate Sterritt: Author

Kate became an internet friend when we were both planning to attend the same book event in London, February 2017. We both agreed that it’s a hard transition being someone who spends 95% of their working life in isolation behind a desk to meeting hundreds of readers—awesome, but a little nerve-wracking, too. Then we bonded for good when she learned of my chocolate love and promised to bring me some Caramello Koalas—koala-shaped chocs filled with soft, gooey caramel. Yum!

 

Kate left her native Australia to come to the UK during one of the coldest winters we’ve had, with snow on the ground. Poor love!

 

Unfortunately, we were too busy hugging to get a photograph of meeting for the first time, but I hope we’ll meet again one day soon.

 

When did you start to feel like a writer? I know that for me it wasn’t when I wrote my first book, or even my second or third, it was several years before I didn’t feel like a fraud when people asked me what I did for a living. When was the moment for you when you thought, Yes! I’m a writer!

 

I love this question because, for me, it was a life changing moment before I’d even published my first book. I’d become friends with G J Walker-Smith, an author I absolutely loved thanks to Facebook. It was in early 2014 when I’d just started dabbling with writing a romance novel. After many messages, she asked me to send her what I’d written. Feeling completely nauseated, I sent her a few thousand words. She messaged me a short while later with the crying emoji and the words that felt life altering – “Kate, you are a writer.” I will never forget that message or that moment. She and I are still great friends and she continues to mentor me, even though she hates the word mentor!

 

What is the most rewarding part of being a writer?

When I write a line or a scene that flows easily is such a joy. But the most rewarding part is receiving messages or emails from readers telling me how much they enjoyed my stories. 

 

As a writer, what is the piece of work of which you’re most proud?

Love My Way was an incredible experience to write and publish. I took a big risk with the plot twist, and I believe it paid off. It’s been referred to as unique many times which I think is a big achievement in storytelling.

 

What do you want to achieve next? 

I want to finish my next novel because I’ve struggled through the process far more than I have before this time around.  

 

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received: about life / about writing?

Decide on what success means to you and never compare yourself to others. That’s two things!

 

What is your favourite reader experience, either in messages or at an event?

Gosh, I have so many! Every time a reader makes contact with me in any way to tell me they enjoyed my books is special. As far as event experiences, at my very first author signing, Sign n Sip, in North Virginia in 2016, I was incredibly nervous and didn’t expect anyone to come to my table. To my shock, I had a ticketed line and readers had made things for me inspired by my books. Glass pebble magnets made me very teary. It was humbling and overwhelming in the best way. At RARE London 17, a blogger gave me a charm bracelet. Each charm represented something from Love My Way. I was completely blown away!!  

 

Do you think writers are different to other people? Are we observers? Creators? 

I think every writer is unique because we’re all human. I know I’m now far more observant of interesting names than I’ve ever been before! 

 

How do you think being from Australia affects how you write or the subject? In Love My Way, one of the key characters had an Aboriginal background – was that important to you?

 

Honestly, I try not to let the location be necessary to the story. For some novels, the location is like another character. I don’t think that’s the case for me. I like to think my stories are universal rather than being Australian specifically. I’m proud to be Australian and think I live in the greatest country in the world, but I’m focused more on the characters than the location.

 

Thanks for mentioning Mereki from Love My Way. Oh, how I love him! He’s indigenous Australian, but I don’t make that an issue. He’s a hero like any of my heroes who just so happens to be Aboriginal. 

 

Have you ever written with a friend? What was the experience like? How did it differ from writing by yourself? What were the pros and cons?

An author friend of mine, Emily Hemmer, and I started writing a book together in 2016. It’s a cosy mystery and I think it’s very funny. We recently decided to dive back in and we’re currently trying to finish it. Who knows?! You might see it later this year. I love having someone equally invested in the story to bounce ideas around with. 

 

Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time? 

Hmmm… I’ll have two adult children and one seventeen years old. Wow!!! I’d love to be enjoying a continued, and blossoming, writing career.

 

What is your philosophy in life? Family first, and try not to sweat the small stuff.

 

Describe yourself in three words. Emotional, caring, brave.

 

How would your best friend describe you? Emotional, caring, funny (I hope!)

 

If you were an animal, what would you be? A dog – loyal and caring.

 

Most likely to say… “No worries!”

 

Least likely to say… “G’day mate”

 

What is your favourite colour and why?

Red. I have always been attracted to the colour red for some reason. I have no idea why to be honest. There’s just something bold yet feminine about it? Not sure. My branding is red.

 

When you’re having a bad day, what cheers you up?

A bushwalk with my dog. 

 

What would be your ideal day? Where would you be? Who would you be with?

On Mother’s Day recently, I asked for a family breakfast at a local dog friendly café followed by us all taking the dog on a long bushwalk. We did that and it was a perfect morning. As a bonus, I had a few hours writing time in the afternoon. It was a perfect day!

 

Mountains and snow, or beaches and sunshine?

Mountains and snow for sure! I know that’s probably weird for an Australian, but I’ve always loved cold weather and mountain landscapes. I used to ski competitively when I was younger.

 

What message would you like to give to the people who read your books?

Enjoy! That’s all I hope for when a reader picks up my books. Ideally, they can tell I pour everything into my stories, and appreciate them taking a chance on me with so many options out there.

 

Find me at:

Website | Facebook | Twitter – @kasterrit
Instagram
@kasterrit | Goodreads | BookBub | Amazon 

 

 

Arthur De Saint Vincent Chief Executive Officer at Hugo et cie, France

Business

Your father founded Hugo et Cie—does it feel like you’ve been handed the greatest gift, or a very high mountain to climb? Maybe both?

Both… The greatest gift because I am working on what I like with people I love. But mountain because he was so charismatic and so talented that I do not want to deceive people with whom I work, and him from the sky. 

 

You’re the CEO at Hugo et Cie. Describe a typical week.

Always running: many meetings with publishers, authors; many decisions to take on projects we can do or not; management in order that everyone feels important.  

 

What do you love most about your job? 

I love to see how a project from birth at the beginning to how it will live and how it will end.  The publishing world is a creative world with authors, designers, communicators, press officers, many different people who are all creative people.

 

What are the challenges that you could do without?

The stress, and the risk of deceiving people. 

 

How important is the Romance division of Hugo?

It is very important. It represents 20% of the turnover and a very important visibility for Hugo as publisher in France—our brand image.

 

Stu Reardon is your first male romance author? Why do you think that’s important? 

In a world where women are fighting to be equal with men, it was important to show that man can feel very heavy feelings, and involved in the same problems as woman. 

 

 

 

Do you foresee more men writing romance? Why do you think that is?

I think so because I am sure that before, men were shameful and did not want to assume what they feel and write it. The people and the society is evolving and it is important. 

 

What is the piece of work of which you’re most proud?

I think it is to make known young authors who had not written before, before writing on Fyctia [similar to Wattpad]. Today, some of them are real stars, selling thousands of books in the world and translated in many countries.  

 

Why did you start the Festival of New Romance? Tell us a little about it.

To make the customer experience different. Reading is not only buying a book and that is all. It is also meeting and speaking with the authors. I have always thought it was important to make the experience 360°. And the New Romance Festival is the physical meeting between the authors and the readers. 

Festival New Romance Website

 

What is the main challenge for such a largescale event, with authors and readers from different countries?

The main challenge is to make everyone happy. To make the meeting between everyone unique and fabulous. Making so many people form everywhere in the world meet at one date in one place is the most difficult. 

 

How do you handle ‘diva’ authors?!

Ahaah! Good question. Every author is like a friend, a friend for me and I always want to make them comfortable in France. If they are, they will smile, make the meeting with readers great, and come back to France again. 

 

 

Traditional publishers face many challenges—e-publishing, piracy, changing reading habits, more ways to access entertainment. What do you think are the greatest challenges for Hugo & Cie? 

I think it is to find how to make people keep reading, publishing popular books and trying to win their loyalty. 

 

How do you see publishing changing in the next 20 years? Where do you see the greatest opportunities?

Ahaha good question. If I have the answer I will be very more confident ☺ 

I think the book will have to adapt itself even more quickly to follow the new generations which are very fast. 

 

What do you want to achieve next? 

To take care about my wife who is pregnant and to be a good dad, which I think is the most difficult job in the world. 

 

Personal

What was the first book you remember loving?

Les Cavaliers, Joseph Kessel 

 

Were you a bookish child, or did that come later?

That come a little beat later ☺. I read a lot when I was young, I stopped as an
adolescent, and came back later.

 

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received: about life / about publishing?

Never give up. No one will judge you if you fail, but they have the right to judge you if you give up 

 

What is your philosophy in life?

Hakouna matata 

 

Describe yourself in three words.

Ahaha not easy. I prefer leave it to others… 

 

How would your best friend describe you?

Loving, stubborn, funny  

 

If you were an animal, what would you be?

An eagle, to see all over the world. 

 

What is your favourite colour and why?

Red. Because it make me think of sexy lipstick

 

When you’re having a bad day, what cheers you up?

My wife of course 

 

What would be your ideal day? Where would you be? Who would you be with?

With my wife and my friends on a boat in the sea. Why not around Corsica?

 

Mountains and snow, or beaches and sunshine?

Both of course 

 

What message would you like to give to the people who read Hugo’s books?

Keep doing. It never ended ☺

Website | Facebook | Instagram

Natascia Hellion Luchetti: author & translator

Natascia Luchetti is a translator for Italian publisher Delrai Edizioni. She worked on my Traveling Series books, sending me messages as she read, telling me she laughed or cried, enjoying what she called ‘the poetry’ of the language. I knew then that I’d been very, very lucky with Delrai’s choice of translator. But maybe that’s because she’s also an author in her own right.

She also translated my first book with Stu Reardon, Undefeated, that became Invincible in Italian. After months of exchanging emails and messages, we finally met in Rome in the summer of 2017.

Author and translator: how do her dual roles work?

 

 

Your language skills are amazing! When did you start learning English? 

I started learning English during Elementary School, but it was just a game at the time. I started loving this language when I was attending the Medium School, but I began using it when I was 15. I met a Finnish young man and I needed English to communicate with him. It helped me more than everything else, and I got my Cambridge FIRST Certification with no problems. It took another four years to read and translate books for my family and my friends. I got my chance to use my abilities by working in Delrai Edizioni many years later. It was a dream come true.

 

What was the first book you translated?

Officially, the first book I translated was ‘The Traveling Man’ by Jane Harvey-Berrick, but I translated more books for fun and for my friends some years ago; vampires and horror novels we couldn’t find here in Italy.

Wow! I didn’t know that! I’m honoured – thank you very much! What do you enjoy about translating?

 

What are the challenges?

Reading in English and translating is a big challenge. You’ve got to transform a text, adapt it to Italian and maintain the same efficacy, and the same harmony of its original language. English is a beautiful language, simple, direct and sometimes sharp, and you have to adapt it. This process is pretty hard, but it’s so satisfying. 

 

What books would you have liked to translate?

I’d like to translate ‘Dracula’ or ‘Frankenstein’ with an updated Italian, more readable for young people.

I’d like to translate the last books of the ‘Vampires Chronicles’ by Anne Rice. I love this author with all my heart. [Me, too, Natascia. Me, too. ‘Interview with the Vampire’ is one of my favourite books ever.]

 

Do you ever read translated books in Italian and think, ‘Ouch! That’s not great!’ How does that make you feel about your job?

I’ve read a lot of terrible translations and I decided to read those books in English because I wanted to know if they were as terrible as they seemed. Well, they weren’t. Unfortunately, Italian professional translators are not writers, they translate texts without adapting them to our language. They perform a literal translation which is not possible in that case. You can understand the meaning, but you lose the efficacy of the original version, its harmony, and the effect the author wants to communicate with his or her work. It’s a violence! And there’s another big problem;  Italian Publishing Houses have haste to publish and don’t check or edit the translated novels as they should. The most translated genre is Erotic Romance, you know, and Publisher Houses want to make money as soon then they can. I know it’s a sharp answer, but it’s the cruel reality. 

 

How did you start working for Delrai Edizioni and when was that?

I was a published author by Delrai Edizioni, with my first gothic novel ‘Dracula’, when Malia [Delrai] made me read the plot of ‘The Traveling Man’. “Man!” I said, “It’s amazing!” I asked her if I could help and I did a short trial. Malia was satisfied by my work, so I began translating the series.  It has been a so gratifying work. Thank you!

Thank YOU! I loved getting all your messages while you were translating – it was so heartening to know that you understood the story; you understood me.

 

How important is a good translator? 

The translator must know how to write a book. You cannot translate a novel just to show the meaning of the sentences. You must live the text, make it yours and translate it as a novel, not as a shopping list. A novel is a piece of art, it has a meaning, and must transmit emotions. So you have to do your best to keep the beauty and the power of the original text. If you can’t do this, change job.

 

As well as a translator, you’re also an author. Tell us about the books you’ve written.

I’m a mainly a gothic author. I’m in love with vampires, ghosts, monsters and angels stuff. I love horror, dark and gloomy settings, I love legends and myths. I adore monsters and I like to give them lost or forgotten humanity. I wrote about Dracula in ‘Dracula: Love Never Dies’. I shifted sides with Van Helsing in ‘Van Helsing: Blood Never Lies’, and now I’m working in an apocalyptic world during a war between evil angels and hunted devils, which will come very soon. 

What is the most rewarding part of being a writer?

Being loved by people. Reviews, feedbacks, love messages for your work well done. This is the best part of the game.

 

As a writer, what is the piece of work of which you’re most proud?

I’m proud of all I have written, but the hardest work of mine is Van Helsing’’ because I wrote it twice and I grew up a lot in the process.

 

What do you want to achieve next? 

I dream to keep on writing, satisfying myself and all the people who are following my work. It’s a simple achievement,  I know. I don’t dream fame or glory, I dream to transmit emotion with better and better works. 

 

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received: about life / about writing?

Do what makes you happy and satisfies you, the best will follow. 

 

What is your favourite reader experience, either in messages or at an event?

My readers are so affectionate. They’re not many but they’re the sweetest and most sensitive people I know. My favourite event was Tempo di Libri in Milan in 2017. Delrai Edizioni had just published my ‘Dracula’ and people came to meet me. I was so excited. I cried so many times! It’s a sweet memory. 

 

Do you think writers are different to other people? Are we observers? Creators? 

Writers are like sponges. They absorb everything, feeling and observing with attention. They use the real world, they manipulate it and they create a new, particular world to tell something to real people. We are both observers and creators. We’re also dreamers. In our deep, we hope that our created world can be partially realized.  

 

Have you ever written with a friend? What was the experience like? How did it differ from writing by yourself? What were the pros and cons?

I love writing with another author. I love to think to the story and the characters with someone else. It’s a very difficult process to do with someone you know well as author, because when I write, I put my soul in creating the project. The first scrap is imperfect, and I like to discuss it with someone I trust as a writer. It’s beautiful to share ideas and also weaknesses to surpass them.

 

Do you think the Italian romance market is different compared to, say, the US market?

I don’t know well the US market but I know that Erotica sells a lot, more than Romance. Italy is just aping this aspect of US market. Sex sells well, better if badly written, trashy and full of bad names. It’s a sad thing. I see very good authors being unseen because of mercenary writers who complete an uninteresting novel to earn some easy money. This is when writing is no more art but a business.

 

We tend to think of Italians as very passionate with a love of life. Do you think that’s true?

Italian people are no more like this. 50’-60 ’ Italy was as you may think. The “Bel Paese”, made by loving and passionate people is changed in a cold place of indifference, as all the developed countries. We’re distracted by the US traditions and we lost our identity. We became a weak country, as for economy as for national identity. There are exceptions, of course. Many families are tied to the traditions, especially in southern Italy. If you’re searching for “Italian-ness”, you’ll find it in Naples more than other places. 

 

Tell us a surprising or unusual fact about living and working in Italy.

Writing in Italy is considered a pure hobby, not work. People think that you’re a time-waster and nothing more. This art is considered useless by most Italian people. Kids are bullied because of their love for books. It’s a very sad story.

 

Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?

I love Italy a lot so I think I’ll stay here. I was wondering about transferring to Romania, but I’m undecided about it.

 

What is your philosophy in life?

Dream big and never give up. It’s hard but you cannot only survive, you must live.

 

Describe yourself in three words.

Stubborn, sensitive, dreamer.

 

How would your best friend describe you?

I hope the same way I did.

 

If you were an animal, what would you be?

An Owl. Sitting silently on a branch in the deep forest of my thoughts.

 

Most likely to say… 

The darkest hour is the one preceding the dawn. (P. Cohelo)

 

Least likely to say…  

I don’t believe in a judgment given without knowing something or someone. 

 

What is your favourite colour and why?

Black, blue and grey, dark red, sometimes; these are gothic colours, the only one I wear, usually.

 

When you’re having a bad day, what cheers you up?

Writing a homicide.

 

What would be your ideal day? Where would you be? Who would you be with?

Rainy day, me in my house with my beloved ones. I’m writing while they’re living.

 

Mountains and snow, or beaches and sunshine?

Mountains and snow, definitely.

 

What message would you like to give to the people who read your books? Either your original works or in translation?

Everyone is worth being listened to. 

 

Find Natascia here:

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Amazon | Goodreads

 

CHAPTER ONE ~ GYM OR CHOCOLATE?

Gym or Chocolate? 

A feel-good romantic comedy from the authors of Undefeated and Model Boyfriend, Stuart Reardon & Jane Harvey-Berrick, releases 13th September

#gymorchocolate

Now available for pre-order, Gym or Chocolate will be in KindleUnlimited

Career girl and radio host hotshot Cady Callahan has never met a chocolate she didn’t love. She has curves and doesn’t care.

She’s shocked when a raffle ticket bought to support a veterans charity means she’s won a year’s membership to Body Tech, an exclusive Manhattan gym, where all the top athletes train and all the A-list actors go to get in shape for their action roles. She’s also won a personal trainer in the shape of far too tantalizing Rick Roberts.

Rick is less impressed when Cady’s arrival leads to a media circus. The retired British rugby ace runs a serious training facility, and he definitely doesn’t have time for anyone who doesn’t want to work hard.

When curvy Cady challenges him to train her to run a marathon by the end of the year, it seems a solution to both their problems. If … when she drops out of training, his gym will go back to normal.

But Cady isn’t planning on losing the bet—she just wasn’t counting on any complications. And surly Rick is very complicated. And as tempting as the tastiest treat.

Pre-order your copy of Gym or Chocolate?

Amazon: UniversalU.SU.K

Amazon Paperback: U.S | U.K | CAN | AUS

Add to Goodreads

Chapter 1

© 2019 Stuart Reardon & Jane Harvey-Berrick
All rights reserved.

Cady

“Always a pleasure, New York! Live long and prosper! This is Cady Callahan, the Face of Radio, saying ciao for now from Morning Munchies at XKL Radio.”

Pow!

I flicked the switch and the little red light stopped blinking at me, which meant I was officially off the air, another successful live radio broadcast under my belt.

“Great show, Cady,” said Oliver, my producer, giving me two thumbs up.

Leaning back in my roller chair, I gave him a tired wave, then lifted off my headhones, yawning. I rubbed my eyes while I fumbled for my coffee cup, my fourth latte of the morning. Ugh. Cold. Oh well, caffeine was caffeine, so I slurped it down. At least my last remaining donut was still fresh. I inhaled the rest of it, licking my fingers clean of the crumbs and lemon-glazed sugar—the best part, in my humble opinion.

I was lying.

I was never humble.

I was a kickass woman, holding her own in the male-dominated world of morning radio and my listener figures were constantly climbing. Yah-boo to all the asswads who said I’d never make it.

I rubbed my eyes again, yawning so widely I was in danger of dislocating my jaw. There was a price to be paid for being on air from 6am to 9am, five days a week, especially since it meant getting up at 4am every stinking day Monday thru Friday. I was a professional: I didn’t just roll into the studio and talk drivel for three hours. I read all the daily papers and news sites, looking for topical stories, guests with something interesting to say; and every week, I had a themed show which required a ton of research, most of which I did myself, since the station’s researchers were overworked, underpaid, and mostly harried.

“Your fat ass stuck in that chair or what?” sneered Jerry Winters, the resident misogynist who followed my show—a man so vile, he brought out the homicidal maniac in most people, especially me. He hated the fact that I’d gotten the fast lane of morning radio, and he’d been sidelined into the slow lane of pre-lunchtime chat.

Thank you, karma.

I smiled sweetly.

“Aw, Jerry! Did someone wake up with a pineapple stuck in his rectum or is it just the way you walk?” I leaned in closer, careful not to breathe in anywhere near his halitosis. “Yes, my ass is fat but I should warn you … I ate the last person who commented on it.”

Then I snapped my teeth at him, making him jump.

I laughed as I sauntered away, amused by his huffy comment, “so unprofessional”.

I had a thousand comebacks for guys like him, guys who thought they could upset me by commenting on my weight. Screw him, or rather not. I had a great job, fabulous friends, as much sex as I wanted (thank you, Tinder), an apartment that cost me an arm and two legs but had an awesome view almost to Central Park, and I was comfortable in my own skin. That’s what guys like him could never understand—I didn’t give a rat’s ass what he thought of me.

Sure, as a kid, I’d endured all the size-ist comments, starting with my own family.

Grandma Callahan’s favorite phrase was, “You’ve got such a pretty face.” Which, as every curvy girl knows, was code for, it’s a shame the rest of you is so fat.

Davy, my brother had several nicknames for me, including The Incredible Bulk or Gut Bucket, depending on how sweet he was feeling. I still felt bad about the scar through his eyebrow that I gave him as a reply. Nah, not really: I felt awesome every time I remembered the black-purple-and-green bruise that had gone with it, plus four stitches from the local ER.

At Thanksgiving dinner when I was a Junior in high school, Nana Dubicki announced, “Boys won’t date a fat girl because those girls have no self-control.”

I didn’t like to point out that most teenage guys prefer a girl who has no self-control, especially my boyfriend at the time, Carl Jenson, but Nana had high blood pressure and a Pacemaker, so I simply smiled and helped myself to another piece of pumpkin pie.

Mom winked at me and pushed the jug of whipped cream closer. She was a survivor of her mother’s beauty pageant ambitions back in the day, and was now vehemently opposed to forcing that regime on young girls. She also had a selection of her favorite quotes from Fat is a Feminist Issue for every occasion.

But Dad’s brother, my Uncle Gerald, made a comment that became my all-time favorite: “Never mind, honey, you have a great face for radio.”

Yeah, thanks, Uncle G.

But I had the last laugh on that because I used it as my sign-off on the show every day. Dad told me that Uncle G still cringes when he hears me say it.

Revenge is a dish best served cold. Just sayin’.

Oliver grinned at me as I passed his booth. He didn’t have much time for Jerry the Jerk either.

As I collected my coat and bag from my desk, Monica, one of the runners, dropped an envelope in front of me.

“Your tickets for the fundraiser tonight. You’re so lucky!”

I groaned and massaged my temples. I’d completely forgotten that I’d been volunteered to represent XKL at a charity event tonight. Personally, I’d rather write a check and donate that, instead of spending my evening eating canapes the size of quarters and trying to make small talk. I was getting gas at the thought of it.

But the charity was for veterans, and since Davy was now—against all the odds—a grown up, and had become an Army Ranger, it was something close to my heart.

I brightened at the thought that there might be some sexy soldiers at the event. There’s nothing like a man saluting you first thing in the morning while he’s wearing nothing but his dog tags and a big smile. Oorah!

Unfortunately, the fundraiser was eight till midnight, which meant that by the time I’d get home and fall into bed, I’d have maybe three hours before I had to get up again to go to work.

I loved doing the morning show, but it wreaked havoc with my social life.

Monica was still watching me wistfully.

“You know that Jamie Dornan is going to be there, right?” she sighed.

“Yeah?” I said, suddenly feeling full of perk. “Who else is on the guest list?”

“Does anyone else matter?”

“Probably not,” I grinned, “but humor me.”

“I thought you’d ask,” she said, handing me a piece of paper. “So I made a list of the good, the bad and the ugly: two senators, the Mayor, that woman who’s running for Queens DA, several B-list actors, that guy who runs the gym where all the celebs train, a couple of reality stars including that British beotch who does the Fuglies Instagram page, and did I mention that Jamie Dornan will be there?”

I smiled at her enthusiasm as I read through the guest list. There were definitely some potential interviewees for Morning Munchies. Maybe the evening wouldn’t be a bust after all.

“Good work, Monica. Since I’ll be going stag, you want my spare ticket?”

Her mouth fell open.

“Shut the door! You want me to be your Plus One?”

“Well, you’re not really my type, since you don’t have a penis, but sure! It would be a shame to waste the ticket.”

“Oh my God! You are my favorite human being ever!” she cried out, throwing her arms around my neck.

“I thought that was Jamie Dornan?” I called after her as she hurried away, muttering about manicures and lady-waxing.

“He’s a god!” she yelled. “So you’re still my favorite human!”

Happy she was happy, I took the elevator to the lobby, then put two fingers in my mouth to let out a piercing whistle. A yellow cab skidded to the curb and drove me the seven blocks to my insanely beautiful and insanely expensive apartment.

I needed to nap for a few hours if I was going out tonight.

The Plaza Hotel, situated proudly on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 58th Street, seemed to glitter and sparkle as hundreds of camera flashes illuminated the guests arriving for the fundraiser.

My limo joined the line of congealing traffic that oozed towards the red carpet spilling across the sidewalk. I sat back, enjoying the rare luxury, grateful that the radio station had chosen to transport me in style.

I smoothed the shimmering red dress over my thighs and tried to avoid touching my carefully coiffed hair. After my nap, I’d spent the afternoon primping, even though yoga pants and a messy bun were more my style. But once in a while, I enjoyed the whole rigmarole of dressing up. I’d learned enough tricks from Mom to be able to curl and style my hair, as well as wearing clothes that played to my assets. I had two: my boobs and my eyes. Or maybe that’s four, since I have two boobs and two eyes. Or maybe that’s three assets, since I only had one cleavage, unless you count my butt cleavage … moving on…

I knew how to dress and accessorize, I just chose not to do it very often. But when I did—go big or go home. And because I had dark hair and blue eyes that were almost violet, I rocked the hell out of a scarlet dress. And yes, I did say so myself, because if you wait for a man to give you a compliment, you can be waiting for a frosty day in Hell, and frankly, life is too short.

Stepping onto the red carpet, I smiled and waved, propping a hand on my hip, one foot slightly forward, as Mom had taught me. Nothing sells sexy like confidence. I was a big woman, curvy, lots of wobbly bits, all tits, ass and attitude. Most men didn’t know how to handle me.

I grinned widely when Jamie Dornan walked up behind me on the red carpet, looking edible in a tux. Monica was going to pitch a fit—or be mute. Never could tell which way it would go with her.

“Jamie, hi! Cady Callahan from XKL Radio. Congratulations on your new addition to the family!”

“Thank you, uh, Cady.”

“I’d love to interview your wife, Amelia, next time she’s in New York. Perhaps you could give her my card? My listeners would love to hear about how she manages to look so fabulous while bringing up three children.”

He looked puzzled, bless him.

I leaned in closer, lowering my voice to a confidential whisper.

“No offence, but you must do a gazillion interviews every day. I’d like to talk to the power behind the throne.”

He smiled, showing perfect teeth, and his eyes crinkled with amusement.

“I think Amelia would agree with that. But she doesn’t do interviews unless it’s about her music…”

“If she’d like to make an exception, I’d love to talk to her about being the child of actors, working in the industry and then leaving it behind for music. And being a mom.”

I handed him my card and he placed it in his pocket with a bemused look on his face.

“Selfie?” I asked hopefully.

Being the pro that he was, he only nodded and smiled. And being the pro that was, I didn’t intrude on him any longer, ‘cause there’s nothing more annoying than someone who doesn’t know when to leave.

I hadn’t been blowing smoke either—I built my listener tribe by giving them human interest stories, not just celebrities. Although if Jamie accompanied his wife to the interview, who was I to stop him?

Half my job was about networking, and I never knew when my efforts would be rewarded.

Like all people who worked in the media field, I was well aware that fundraisers were as much about publicity and networking opportunities as supporting a charity: either way, it meant work. It didn’t matter whether it looked like a hell of a party or if there was free champagne, there was still flesh to press, people to impress, or maybe even remind of your existence.

I was the queen of networking and worked the room industriously, managing to extract promises of interviews from a number of fascinating people.

Yeah, sure, I could sit back and wait for PR teams to contact me when their clients had new movies/books/TV shows to promote and/or scandals to brush over, but I found that my most interesting interviews were when there was nothing in particular to promote, because then I’d be more likely to get to the real person, not just regurgitate the current hype.

Across the room I saw Monica chatting with a guy in uniform. Well, flirting. I knew that she’d completely missed my moment with her favorite pin-up, otherwise she’d have zoomed over to get the scoop. Oh well. I’d show her my selfie with Jamie tomorrow.

Besides Monica’s man-of-the-moment, there were at least a couple dozen more military guys, but all of them seemed to be with wives or girlfriends. Still, I made my way over to a guy in a wheelchair when I noticed the tan beret that identified him as a member of the 75th Ranger Regiment, the same as my brother.

I chatted to Corporal Stevens and his wife for a while, also warming them up to the idea of coming on my show. When I mentioned Davy’s name, they recognized it but didn’t know him personally. It definitely helped in getting them to trust me. I had a lot of time for men and women who’d served our country.

After a while, my feet started to hurt. I wasn’t used to wearing heels for any length of time, so I headed to the bathroom for a break. On the way, I stopped to buy a bunch of raffle tickets for the fundraiser and stuffed them in my ruby-red clutch. Usually, I was a coach purse woman, but I was a sucker for a Barneys’ sale—and it was so pretty!

The bathroom was quiet and calm, an oasis of peace away from the crowded ballroom.

But standing at the mirror was a woman I vaguely recognized. I watched her reapply a bright pink lipstick that was a little too Barbie for my taste.

When she caught me watching her, I smiled. She scowled, I think, but since her forehead didn’t move, it was hard to tell.

“What the fuck are you staring at?”

My eyebrows shot upwards as her aggressive tone sank in along with her British accent.

“I was dazzled by your beauty, but then you spoke.”

Her eyes narrowed in confusion.

“What the fuck does that mean?”

She really could use a wider vocabulary.

“Oh, it’s just fascination of the appallingly rude,” I said blandly. “I’m doing a study on linguistic pragmatism and wondered if you were trying to vent negative feelings.”

“What are you talking about, you fat cow?”

I laughed loudly. Rude people hate it when you do that.

“Fat? Oh, honey! Real men like curves. Only dogs like bones.”

She swore again and flounced from the room. Obviously, she hadn’t graduated from charm school.

But I was grateful to her, I really was. She’d given me the next theme for my show—dealing with rude people. I made a quick note on my phone and smiled to myself.

And although she’d seemed familiar before, I was now able to put a name to the botoxed face: Molly McKinney. She was a British reality TV ‘star’ who’d once been engaged to somebody famous. I felt an affinity with the guy who’d been smart enough not to marry her. She courted infamy and controversy, and had started an Instagram account where she poured scorn on anyone who didn’t fit her idea of attractive. It was charmingly named ‘Fuglies’. Depressingly, she had over three million followers.

Still deep in thought, I exited the bathroom, nearly crashing into a guy walking in the other direction. Luckily, he skidded out of the way in time.

“Ooh, sorry! Good reflexes, by the way!”

“You should watch where you’re going,” he said roughly.

Another Brit with a bad attitude? What the heck was going on today? My hackles rose. Couldn’t he take an apology?

“I could look where I’m going,” I smiled at him, “but then I’d have missed out on our brief but fun encounter.”

He blinked in surprise then carried on walking without bothering to reply.

I shook my head, following his tall figure with my eyes, then wondering whether I’d done enough grip and grin for the radio station this evening and could duck out before the raffle draw. It wasn’t like I ever won anything at these events.

Ladies and gentlemen! If I could have your attention for a moment—the raffle draw is about to start in the ballroom.

Damn it!

Pasting a smile on my face, I forced my poor, tortured feed to make a U-turn and headed back inside.

Cabaret-seating had been set up while I was doing my part for world peace, and with a sigh of pleasure, I saw that the buffet table was free of people for the first time all evening. I intended to load up a plate then settle into the nearest available seat to watch the raffle prizes being handed out.

The CEO of the charity tapped the microphone, then made a short speech, talking about the work they did with and for veterans, followed by thanking the long list of sponsors.

I hid a yawn as I placed three shrimp rolls onto my plate and tried not to think about my lovely King-size bed and down pillows waiting for me at home.

“And the winner of an all-expenses vacation to the exclusive White Sands resort in Bermuda, is ticket number 232.”

Nope. Not even close.

Ooh! Mini vol-au-vents!

“And the winner of a case of vintage Moët & Chandon champagne is ticket 743.”

Nope.

Ooh! Tiny chocolate pies with glacé cherries!

“And the winner of a hot stones massage at Vassilly’s Spa Hotel in the Hamptons is…”

Me! Me! Me!

“…ticket 431.”

Bummer. I sighed as an older woman in a Chanel gown accepted the prize, smiling at the waiting photographers.

Who was I kidding? I never won anything.

Ooh! Were those mini pumpkin pies with whipped cream on the top? Be still my beating heart!

I picked one up and placed it in my mouth, moaning as the rich flavors hit my taste buds.

“And the winner of a year’s membership to…”

I zoned out as my eyes rolled backwards with pleasure.

“…plus a year’s training from owner Rick Roberts, goes to … ticket 677.”

There was a smatter of applause followed by a long silence as people turned restlessly in their chairs, trying to see the winner.

I froze mid chew, my eyes widening. Shit! Shit! Shit!

I swallowed, nearly choking, and felt my eyes tear up as I coughed.

The spotlight swung around the room like a searchlight. Weakly, I raised my hand. What was it I’d won? And why the hell was everyone laughing?

“Rick, would you like to come up here and personally present the year’s membership to Body Tech—and meet your newest fitness client?”

Noooooooo! Of all that was holy, unholy and plain damn unfair!

My cheeks flamed as I understood why everyone was laughing. And despite all of my confidence, all of my personal and professional achievements, I was no longer a successful 36 year-old woman. I was instantly transported back to junior high when all the mean girls formed a circle and yelled at me that I was fat: fat and ugly.

A low roar of anger rose up inside me.

No! I was not going to let this crowd of morons make me feel bad.

I plastered on my best beauty-queen smile and sashayed up to the stage, swinging my wide hips and winking at the crowd.

I strutted the length of the ballroom, waving at the people applauding and laughing loudly. Oh yes, very hilarious—the fat woman had won a year’s membership to a gym so exclusive, the waiting list was more than a year-long.

As I approached the stage, smiling so widely my lips were plastered against my teeth, I realized that the grumpy man I’d nearly shoulder-barged outside the women’s bathroom was standing on the stage: Rick Roberts, the owner ofBody Tech. Six-foot plus of honed and toned body, sharp cheekbones, soft lips, dark hair ruthlessly pulled back into a man-bun, a short beard, shot through with silver, which personally I found very sexy, hinting at maturity and experience … but wow, those angry, storm-filled eyes. He stared at me with growing horror in his expression which he failed to hide as he wordlessly handed me a gift certificate.

I accepted the envelope, planting a bright red, lip-shaped imprint on his cheek, then posed for photographs.

“Nice aftershave,” I whispered to him, amused to see a dull flush redden his cheeks. “Thank you on behalf of XKL Radio,” I said more loudly, smiling and waving my prize in the air. “We’re so proud to support this amazing charity for veterans, and we thank you all for your service.”

I had every intention of gifting the membership to someone at work, someone who looked forward to the idea of masochism and machismo neatly wrapped up in a single gym visit. Maybe I’d do a giveaway on my show.

Rick and I left the stage together, the grim-faced man holding my elbow as we descended the four steps. It was a gentlemanly gesture, but I wanted his condescending hands the hell off of me.

No matter how good he smelled.

Or how hot he looked in a custom tux.

I noticed that the blonde woman from the bathroom, Molly McKinney, was sitting at a table near the front of the stage.

Her narrowed gaze was pinned to me and her lip curled up.

“Seriously! You’ve won a gym membership?!” and she laughed loudly and obnoxiously, as several people at the same table copied her. Then she fluttered her false eyelashes at Rick. “Long time no see, Ricky babe. Looks like you’ll be scraping the bottom of the Z-lister barrel this time with her,” and she laughed again.

Besides me, Rick frowned and he dropped his grip on my elbow, but stayed silent.

I continued to smile brightly, but was fuming inside.

Don’t be a bitch should be the 11th Commandment.

Why couldn’t people just be nice? I had guests on my show all the time whose opinions I disagreed with, but I was never unkind or derogatory, never demeaning or bitchy. I left that to shock-jock DJs who had a stick up their ass and something to prove.

I ignored them all and walked past the bitchy table, surprised when I realized that the gym owner, Rick Roberts was still following me.

I paused, giving him a chance to catch up while I faked another smile.

“Imagine bumping into you twice in one day! It must be fate.” I leaned toward him confidentially, hoping to get another whiff of his delicious aftershave. “But don’t worry, I won’t be polluting the hallowed halls of your fitness center. I’ll gift the prize to someone else, someone who’d actually enjoy torturing themselves in your emporium of exercise.”

“You talk a lot,” he said with another scowl. “Are you saying that you don’t want the membership?”

“Got it in one!”

“Of course she won’t be going to Body Tech,” said the Molly-bitch, sidling up to us, clearly having overheard every word. “What would a fat arse like her do in a gym?”

Rick glowered down at her.

“A healthy lifestyle is for everyone,” he said curtly.

Was he defending me? For some reason, that was surprising.

Healthy? Yeah, right! Like you’d want to train that?” she laughed loudly, pointing an inch-long talon in my face.

“He’s just dying for the chance to train me,” I said with a smirk. “I can tell that he’s the type of man who loves a challenge.”

“You said you were giving away the membership?”

Rick frowned at me, draining every ounce of sympathy that I’d briefly had for him as Molly sniggered.

“Am I too much woman for you, Rick?” I asked, a spike of steel in my flirty tone.

His narrowed eyes glared at me.

“I only train people who are serious,” he snapped. “People who are committed, who’ll work hard.”

Now he was pissing me off.

“Listen, Dick…”

“It’s Rick!”

“Dick suits your personality.”

His scowl deepened as my anger mounted.

“You think I don’t know hard work? You think I don’t know commitment? I get up at 4am five days a week to do a live three-hour show. I haven’t missed one in four years. Dick.”

Molly sniggered again.

“He didn’t want to see your enormous arse in spandex anyway.”

Rick didn’t disagree, and my patience was worn thin. In fact, it was transparent.

“Well, Dick, if you’re such a damn good trainer, no doubt you’ll have me running a marathon within a year, won’t you? Luckily for both of us, I have better things to do with my time.”

“I can train anyone who’s prepared to put in the hours,” he snapped. “Even you!”

“Well, gee! Just sign me up for the New York Marathon, Tarzan!”

Smirking, Molly raised her phone and snapped a photo of me and Rick, nose to nose, glaring at each other.

“Oh my God!” she shrieked. “You, run a marathon? Are pigs learning to fly, or is it fat cows learning to run?”

And she turned on her heel and slithered away.

“Such a sweet, charming personality,” I said, smiling dangerously. “Maybe her mother loves her.”

“I doubt it,” said Rick, with an edge to his voice.

“Well, don’t worry about it, big guy,” I said, patting his arm. “I wasn’t being serious and I am going to gift the membership, so you don’t need to worry. Nice meeting you. I think.”

Yawning my head off, I texted my driver that I was ready to leave. I wanted my bed. I’d wanted it four hours ago.

TO BE CONTINUED…

 

 

You can read Chapters 2-5, exclusive to Newsletter Readers

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MORE ABOUT STUART

I’ve had four major surgeries as a result of my rugby career—three operations to repair torn Achilles tendons, and a torn rotor cuff in my shoulder that ultimately ended my professional rugby career.

Coming back from injury and surgery is a long, slow process. Keeping a level of fitness during recovery isn’t easy, and rehab after is tough. So for me, exercise and working out at the gym is more than just getting fit, it’s a way of life.

And then there’s the completely different issue of getting lean for a photoshoot like for this cover—especially when your co-author is a bad influence and travels everywhere with chocolate. I really enjoy a good quality dark chocolate, and yep, I had to cut that out to drop a few pounds for the cover shoot. Feel my pain?!

www.stureardon.co.uk
 
 
MORE ABOUT JHB

For years (decades), I told myself that I didn’t like gyms and even though I joined several with the best intentions, I stayed away. I lived in London and walked four miles a day to and from Tube stations, so that seemed like enough. I often had an aching back and shoulders, and sometimes sciatic pain, too. I put it down to having a desk job, even though I was only in my twenties.

When I moved from London to live by the ocean, I began a love affair with swimming—and there’s nothing like swimming in a cold ocean! I walked my little dog every day and felt better, but with turning to writing full-time, there were still a lot of hours spent at a desk.

Then I got really sick. The death of my father was a stressful time, as you can imagine, but it became worse when it triggered Rheumatoid Arthritis in me. Suddenly, I was using walking sticks to get around, sometimes a wheelchair, and often crippled with pain. All the usual drugs helped, and I began to regain mobility slowly. But the turning point for me was joining a gym, and realising what I’d been missing out on all these years.

Nothing happens overnight, and it was a process of simply keeping going two to three times a week to feel the benefits—and I did. I was happy, my family was happy, even my doctor was happy.

Exercise doesn’t cure RA, but it certainly helps.

www.janeharveyberrick.com 

 

Ker Dukey: Author

I first met this smashing gal at book event in London and again in Edinburgh, and at several other signings since. It’s always a pleasure to have my bottom pinched by this absolute doll. Love this naughty gal, and she always makes me laugh.

 

You can meet Kerry at RARE in London on 21st September 2019.

 

Kerry Duke or Ker Dukey? What’s with that? Do you have a split personality? (Asking for a friend)

Haha! I remember when I first met you, and you said my name Dookay, and it hit me that it sounds completely different the way it’s pronounced in the US. 

 

Ker Dukey is just my nickname that I was known by in the industry and pronounced Juke-E, so I thought it made sense to keep it as my author name. I wish I’d gone with my full name, but it’s stuck now.  

 

When did you start to feel like a writer? 

I think for me, it was my first signing when I met some of my readers for the first time in person. They were so passionate about my stories. It brought it home that the worlds and characters we create go on in some way to live on in every person who reads our books. It’s mind-blowing.

 

What is the most rewarding part of being a writer?

Meeting my readers! I’m so lucky to have some of the most incredible readers in the world. I can never express how grateful I am for them. Their love and passion for my books drives me to keep creating worlds for them to lose themselves in.

 

As a writer, what is the piece of work of which you’re most proud?

Oh, that’s so tough. I’d say, Empathy.  Those characters gave me so much inspiration and were so exciting to write and explore my darker, darker side.  It was also my first International bestseller and was my first title to be translated into other languages.

 

What do you want to achieve next? 

Everything. World domination. I joke, I joke. I have some exciting projects in the works and want to keep growing as an author and creator.

I look forward to having more titles translated into foreign languages and Audio. Attend international signings. I’m looking forward to seeing what the future brings.

 

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received: about life / about writing?

You can’t please everyone! Be true to yourself and just your voice.

 

Is there any subject/genre that you wouldn’t want to write?

Historical, Sci fi, Non-fiction. [Shrugs]

 

What is your favourite reader experience, either in messages or at an event?

When I receive messages that say my book helped them in some way. I think when you can relate to a character, it makes you feel connected in someway and less alone, and that’s powerful.

 

Do you think writers are different to other people? Are we observers? Creators? 

We are, for sure, creators. I believe our minds work differently in the sense that we’re more visionary perhaps. We see things from nothing and are always thinking. I know for me, my brain never shuts off. I dream storylines and wake up to jot ideas down. I can be in a crowded room, but in my mind, I’m on a quiet beach watching characters play out a scene. We’re never alone, an empty room to some is just that, but for a writer, there’s never an empty room.

 

You’ve written several books with K Webster? What was the experience like? How did it differ from writing by yourself? What were the pros and cons?

I adore K Webster, she’s a fantastic storyteller and shares a flair for the darker side of fiction like myself. I love exploring ideas with her and creating worlds. I honestly don’t have any cons. It’s super fun to co-write as you know yourself. I find we push each other to be better and learn a lot from each other. We have some incredible readers who brought us together, and I’m so grateful for them because K is one of my best friends, and our characters forever bond us. There’s something special about creating fictional worlds with someone, so it has to be the right pairing, in my opinion, to translate onto the pages. I got very fortunate.

[The Dolls series had me looking under the bed and in the wardrobe before bedtime—just sayin’: JHB]

 

Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?

Hopefully, happy, healthy, and living my best life. I hope to have many more stories out there in the world and a thousand more waiting to be written.

 

What is your philosophy in life?

Try your best. 

Practice makes perfect.

Don’t be a dick. 

Be kind, understanding, and forgiving.

Love with all you are and never settle for mediocre. 

Only you can change your life. Your destiny is yours to navigate.

 

Describe yourself in three words.

Loud, caring, anxious.

 

How would your best friend describe you?

Ok, I asked K to answer this for me. K Webster: “Sweet, funny, driven.” Awwww.

 

If you were an animal, what would you be?

A lion. Hear me roar.

 

Most likely to say…

Fuck it.

 

Least likely to say…

I wrote a fluffy romance. 

 

What is your favourite colour and why?

Red, it’s the color of blood.  Life. It’s powerful and vibrant. 

 

When you’re having a bad day, what cheers you up?

My husband and children. My kid’s laughter could cure any problem for me. They are happiness—love—everything.

 

What would be your ideal day? Where would you be? Who would you be with?

With my husband doing EVERYTHING! 

 

Mountains and snow, or beaches and sunshine?

I prefer the cold weather, wrapping up in blankets and cuddles, hot chocolate. Snowball fights and making snow angels. 

 

What message would you like to give to the people who read your books?

I adore you. Thank you for taking a chance on my titles. Thank you for embracing the darker side of fiction and loving the characters I create. Your love, loyalty, and enthusiasm is everything to me. I love my darKER souls.

Connect with Ker

Website | Facebook | Facebook Readers Group | Instagram | Twitter

Goodreads | BookBub | Amazon

Stay up to date with Ker and sign up for her newsletter

Contact Ker here:

Ker: Kerryduke34@gmail.com

Ker’s PA: terriesin@gmail.com

Amazon: U.S | U.K | CAN | AUS

Daddy always told us to be careful. Not to talk to strangers, no matter how friendly they appeared.

To question everyone.

With two naïve little girls growing up in a wicked world, he wanted to educate us and explain the evil that ran rampant on the news channels.

He forced us to watch the happenings of the world far from what seemed like our own, educating us on the beasts walking the earth with faces just like ours, just like his—even in middle America.

We lived on a quiet street in a quiet neighborhood in a quiet town, but that didn’t mean the monsters of the world weren’t always lurking.

They’re everywhere, he said, not just in the shadows.

He wanted us to perceive the world with narrowed eyes and closed hearts.

And so I did.

I’m my daddy’s girl, through and through—a skeptic by nature.

Suspicious. Standoffish. Untrusting.

I heeded his instructions to the letter and kept my sister and I both safe.

Until I didn’t.

Until the day my world spun, turned on its axis, and everything was stolen from us.

Or should I say, until we were stolen from the world.

Amazon: U.S | U.K | CAN | AUS

Carol Sales: Blogger, Beauty and the Beastly Books

Besties, December 2018

I first met Carol on the internet through a mutual friend and reader, Audrey Thunder six years ago—nearly seven now! At first, I didn’t even realise that Carol was Brazilian—I assumed that she was American and most readers thought I was American as many of my stories were set there. So it was a mutual misunderstanding. I was in awe when I realised that she was from Brazil and how polished her bilingual skills were.

Over the years, we became friends, and Carol became my sounding board for the industry, and someone who had her finger on the pulse far more than I did. I always seem to be the last to know gossip, but that’s another story!

We finally met in person in 2018 in Rio de Janeiro, courtesy of my Brazilian publishers Gruppo Editoria Record and The Gift Box.

I hadn’t even put any makeup on, and suddenly cameras were flashing everywhere. It was the best feeling to meet in person and hug and catch up. It felt like we’d met just the week before and were catching up—the sign of a real friend.

Thank you for your friendship, Carol.

 

First meeting over breakfast – and I haven’t put on my makeup!

What was your favourite childhood book – and why? 

I had a collection of books with audiobooks when I was child that I loved. They had some classical children’s stories and I was only allowed to listen to them after I finished reading them (that’s probably why I read so fast today). My favorite one was Little Ida’s Flowers by Hans Christian Andersen. But then I also read Pride & Prejudice as a child, so that is also a favorite of mine. Mr. Darcy raised the bar for me. 

 

Why did you become a blogger? 

The first ever book blog I came across was one called The Supernatural Snark (I’m a huge Paranormal/Fantasy books fan) and I loved it and how she shared her opinions and how she got books to read before they were released. It was my first contact with Goodreads and I decided to join it. Then I started joining a lot of groups on Goodreads and, eventually, on Facebook. Back in the day (around 7 or 8 years ago?), I loved discussing books and trading recommendations and my friends (Especially Audrey – our friend who introduced me to you) kept saying I should start my own book blog because I was very active on Goodreads and on the community. I still am, my GR shelves are legendary and I rate EVERY book I read there.

 

How did you choose the name for your blog? 

That is a funny story! Originally my blog was named “Sex & the Books” because of “Sex & the City”, one of my favorite TV shows. And then Sylvia Day came to my city and I went to meet her and was interviewed by a local newspaper. They got most of what I said wrong and published that I read 300 books a year (true) but all of them about sex (so not true!). I also kept receiving weird messages because of the name of the blog and then I decided to change the name of the blog and came up with Beauty & the Beastly Books. Beauty & the Beast is my favorite Disney movie and some of the books I read could be considered “Beastly” LMAO. And I LOVE the name of my blog, I think it’s cute. I have a secondary name for my posts in Portuguese “The Book is on the Table(t)”. “The book is on the table” is an expression used here in Brazil for people who know English (it is an old jingle for an English school) and since I read on my tablet it fits.

 

June 2018

How has blogging changed your life? 

Wow, where can I start? Blogging gave me the opportunity to make new friends amongst readers and authors. For me, it is amazing that authors (and readers) want to know my opinion on books. Also, for me, it’s the greatest honor being able to read a book before its release and through blogging not only do I get to have that, but I also get to help authors with proofreading, translations and so forth. It’s because of my years in the community that I became an actual book translator, one of my dreams. (The other is to finally finish one of my own books – but it’s coming.) Blogging changed my life in so many ways, it gives me what I love most: reading amazing books, recommending them to other readers, helping out authors and connecting with fellow book lovers.

 

You’re fluent in English and Portuguese, but most of the books you review are English-language. Why is that? 

I’ve always been a very avid reader, but I started reading in English because waiting for the books to come to my country would take forever. And back then, the indie authors weren’t being signed here yet (and also there weren’t that many publishers signing them as there are now). When indie authors started emerging, I met some friends through Goodreads and joined reader groups on FB and discovered a lot of new books and new authors. Back then, I’m pretty sure I was the only Brazilian in most of the groups reading indie books in English (the groups were a lot smaller than they are now). Now, I simply prefer to read books in English because it’s the original language of most of the books I read, and I prefer that to the translations. Not that there’s anything wrong with translated books (although some translations aren’t great), but some things are lost in translation. Plus, I usually think in English more often than not (it comes with the fluency) so it is more natural to me. One funny thing though, I definitely prefer to read the hotter scenes in English than in Portuguese (I find some of the words to be less crass in English haha).

 

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received about life? 

That we should choose our “opponents” in life. Fighting the world is impossible, since the world is so much bigger than us, so we should learn to live life fully instead of fighting the world in every corner of our lives. Also to let go, which is very hard for me because I’m a control freak and I have anxiety.

 

“It’s war, baby!” Carol Vitali and Carol Sales fighting over Stu Reardon!
Rio, December 2018

 

What is your favourite reader experience? Do you ever get into arguments with readers, because we’re all passionate about our favourite books! 

My all-time favorite reader experience is the rush I feel finding out what I call a “different” book. That kind of book that pulls at us and just makes it worth the read. For me those are the angsty books and I absolutely LOVE the rush they gives me. I can literally feel the rush cursing through me and I get chills reading those.  I also love when I read a book when the hero is brooding and a jerk and he realizes he hurt the heroine and wants to make up. I love discussing books, but I do it with specific people. People I know will respect our different opinions. I’ve learned not to get into arguments with readers; we are definitely a passionate bunch. Plus it will get nowhere (and once I get into an argument it goes on and on hahaha).

 

Is blogging different from reading? Can you ever just switch off and enjoy a book without thinking how you’d review it? 

Not for me, it isn’t. I usually don’t think of how I will review a book, because it comes naturally for me, I’m always honest in my opinions of books and I don’t have a minimum rating for the books I read and/or review. I don’t review all the books I read, but I do rate every one of them. For me, I don’t read books to review them, even the ones I receive specifically for that, I do it to enjoy the experience of reading them. So, thankfully, I don’t have to switch off to enjoy a book.

 

Have you ever blogged with a friend? What was the experience like? How did it differ from writing by yourself? What were the pros and cons? 

I haven’t, although I want to do some guest review posts on my blog. I’m more of lone writer/blogger myself.

 

Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time? 

Well, it’s super hard for me to see myself in the future, because of how anxious I get. But I really want to have travelled more in ten years. I also want to be a college professor in Law School and work with books.

 

What is your philosophy in life? 

A lot of my perceptions have changed this year, so for now it is to enjoy the moment because although life is very precious, it’s also very fleeting.

 

Describe yourself in three words.

Passionate. Determined. Stubborn.

 

How would your best friend describe you?

Too passionate. Funny. Feisty. Fierce. STUBBORN.

 

If you were an animal, what would you be?

A tiger, I find them fascinating.

 

Most likely to say…

“Hell, NO!” or maybe “I’ll go!” (I always volunteer myself)

 

Least likely to say… “I wouldn’t do that…”

 

What is your favourite colour and why? 

Purple, I’ve always been drawn to it.

 

When you’re having a bad day, what cheers you up? 

Seeing my baby nieces, my family in general, talking to friends and reading a good book.

 

What would be your ideal day? Where would you be? Who would you be with? 

My ideal day would be traveling. I’d like to be in London again (that city has such a pull in my heart) with family.

 

Mountains and snow, or beaches and sunshine? 

I’m not really an outdoorsy person and I’ve never seen snow, so I don’t know if I’ll like it. But I do love beaches and the sunshine makes me happy (although I complain a lot of the heat, I LOVE summer).

 

What message would you like to give to the people who read your blog? 

Thank you for sticking with me and for reading my words. I haven’t been the best blogger lately, and I apologize for that, especially after putting so much work on the new website, but I will (and am) trying to be better. So please be patient with me. LOL.

Also, keep up with me on my bookstagram (bookish Instagram), because I update there more than the blog lately (that will change, I promise). And if you want to see my book ratings and reviews, Goodreads is THE place to see them; I keep it pretty tidy there.

 

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