Essential Beginnings Kennedy Layne

Q&A with Melissa Chambers!

We brought Melissa Chambers over the blog to answer our burning questions!

What are your five favorite movies with romance or romantic elements?

Love Actually

Valley Girl

500 Days of Summer

The Little Death

Bridget Jones’s Diary

Describe your favorite scene from each one!

In Love Actually, I think my favorite scene is the one between the singer, Billy Mack, and his manager where they spend Christmas together, and Billy tells his manager he’s the love of his life. I know this is supposed to be in reference to romantic love, but what’s so fabulous about that movie is how they show the significance of all sorts of love. 

Valley Girl! This has always been and will always remain my favorite movie of all-time! Punk rocker Randy takes Valley Girl Julie to a seedy night club on the first night they meet, but she doesn’t care because she’s there with him. They have their first kiss right there at the table with her friend (who is totally grossed out) and his wingman and they kiss to the magical sounds of The Plimsouls’ “A Million Miles Away”.

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Portland ME Freya Barker sale July

Book Hangover Guaranteed by JR Gray

I take recommendations seriously. They even make me a little anxious. I’ve read books that speak to my soul, and hit me in places I never through another person would understand. I love a book hangover, and I love angst where my soul hurts for the characters. I don’t only read queer books, I would love to say I do, but because my taste varies so widely I read all over the place depending on my mood, so when I had to sit down and find five queer kinky books I love, it wasn’t an easy task.

I love m/m kink, as well as any kink I can get my hands on. Kink is a huge part of my life, and I take reading and writing about it seriously. Positive queer and kinky representation means the world to me. I’m a picky reader, which I hate to admit in public. I know what works for one person, doesn’t for another, so because I DFN a book, doesn’t mean someone else wouldn’t like it or love it. Here are three of my favorites. I hope they speak to you.

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Sisters in Love Melissa Foster
Guest Post

Erin Nicholas’s Favorite HEAs!


Oh, I love this topic!  HEA is my addiction ☺

When I think of “favorite” ones, a few come to mind. In no particular order…

  1. Gracie Snow and Bobby Tom Denton from Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ Heaven, Texas. I do love a big, embarrassing public display at the end 😉
  2. Amanda and Danny in Erin McCarthy’s Heiress for Hire. I love opposites attract and seeing the debutant find her place with the small town farmer totally stole my heart.
  3. Josie and Sam, in the movie Never Been Kissed. My favorite movie kiss of all time for one thing! And that nerdy, awkward Josie was finally seen and appreciated and loved by hot, good-guy Sam is what love is all about to me.
  4. The happily ever after in the movie Ever After is, of course, very well-known and beloved…the Cinderella story…but the way they did that one in that movie–wow. Not only was it true love but it was in spite of everything (with a little dose of well-deserved revenge 😉 ). Happy sigh.
  5. And last but not least, my parents’ happily ever after. My mother was a senior in high school when my dad took his first teaching job in the same school. Them dating would be, of course, frowned upon. So they resisted. In fact, over the course of the year, my dad gave my mother her first and only B of her high school career for, of all things, speech class. (if you knew my mother, you would know that speech is a particular talent of hers 😉 ).  But then, at the Prom at the end of her senior year, my dad was chaperoning and ended up cutting in on a dance. And now, fifty-one years later, my mom is still punishing him for that B!  (her words, not mine! 😉 )

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Autumn Thorns Yasmine Galenorn

Summer reads best read while….

51VQEQVHWRL._SY346_The Nearness of You by Dorothy Garlock

Hooper’s Crossing, New York, 1952. The post-war boom seems a million miles away . . . especially for a sheltered librarian who longs for the adventure and excitement of the big city.

New York City. The hustle and bustle. The people and the excitement. It’s all Lily Denton dreams about. But ever since her mother died, her overprotective father won’t ease up on her. So she spends her days working at the library and her nights hoping life doesn’t pass her by . . . until the Fall Festival. As tourists fill the streets, the crisp autumn air sneaks in-as does the thrill of a far more dangerous kind.

Some men have a gift for avoiding trouble. Professional photographer Boone Tatum isn’t one of them. In fact, that penchant for trouble is exactly what landed Boone in this small town in the middle of nowhere in the first place. Yet the moment he meets beautiful Lily Denton and snaps her photograph, everything changes. Suddenly leaving is the furthest thing from Boone’s mind-or his heart.
But danger has slipped silently into this sleepy town, marking Lily as its own. And Lily and Boone’s dream of a life together is thrown into peril-unless Lily finds the courage to stand up for herself and a man she only just met . . . and can’t live without.
Best read while: on a train speeding away from the city on a Friday afternoon 

51c7AtnNX3L._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_Wicked Grind by J. Kenner 

Sometimes it feels so damn good to be bad.

Photographer Wyatt Royce’s career is on the verge of exploding. All he needs is one perfect model to be the centerpiece of his sexy, controversial show. Find her, and Wyatt is sure to have a winner.

Then Kelsey Draper walks in. Stunning. Vibrant. And far too fragile for a project like this. Wyatt should know―after all, he remembers only too well how their relationship ended all those years ago.

Desperate for cash and frustrated with her good girl persona, Kelsey sets her sights on Wyatt’s show. But only the show. Because she knows too well that Wyatt Royce is a danger to her heart.

But when Wyatt agrees to give her the job only if he has complete control―on camera and in his bed―Kelsey can’t help but wonder if she’s in too deep. Because how can a good girl like her ever be enough for a man like Wyatt?

Best read while: escaping from the morning commute on a crowded subway

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Guest Post

More “Friends-to-More” Romance, Please!

Is there anything better than a “friends-to-more” romance?

No. No, there is not.

I love when it happens in real life, love watching movies and reading books about it (13 Going on 30! When Harry Met Sally! Friends with Benefits!), and I especially love writing about it. My latest YA romance, Tied Up In You, features two long-time best friends, Jackson and Malina, who turn into more when he “accidentally” kisses her.

So what’s so great about the friends-to-more trope?

The couple already has history. They know each other’s favorite songs and how they order their pizza. They’ve made each other laugh and wiped each other’s tears. In Tied Up In You, Malina knows Jackson eats his ice cream fast enough to get a brain freeze 100% of the time, and Jackson can speak enough of the Hawaiian language to keep up with Malina’s family. Taking that kind of history and turning it into chemistry? The best!

The payoff when the couple gets together is huge! In most friends-to-more stories, everyone knows that the couple belongs together. Their friends. Their families. The reader. Everyone except the couple themselves. That makes me pull for the couple even more! That moment when they finally realize what everyone else knows makes me happy on a heart-eye-emoji level!

The hope for happily ever after is high. My best friend and one of her friends started dating in high school after being in the same group since middle school. They made it through a long-distance relationship in college, got married, and are still together ten years and two kids later! I like to think that their relationship is so strong because it had a foundation in friendship. In the fictional world, I like to think that even though Jackson and Malina have a lot of challenges in front of them, their happily ever after will last, too!

If you have any more friends-to-more stories or book/movie recommendations, please send them my way! And I hope you enjoy Jackson and Malina’s story in Tied Up In You!

TiedUpInYou_500ERIN FLETCHER is a young adult author from North Carolina. She is a morning person who does most of her writing before sunrise, while drinking excessive quantities of coffee. She believes flip-flops qualify as year-round footwear, and would spend every day at the beach if she could. She has a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, which is almost never useful when writing books.

Guest Post

Why YA Loves the “Almost-Kiss” by Kendra C. Highley

Growing up, watching my favorite TV shows (or reading my favorite books, although there wasn’t much selection in YA back in the stone ages), I’d ship a couple hard, waiting for the magical moment when they’d finally kiss. Oh, those melting first kisses, that were all passion and feeling, and resolution of all that tension. Kind of makes you want to hug your pillow to your chest and sigh, right? I know I did.

And it’s still true for me, even as a jaded adult. When Sheldon finally kissed Amy on “The Big Bang Theory” I was so shocked, but immediately let out an “Awwww!”  The way it started as sarcastic, because they were arguing about Sheldon’s lack of romance, but then it caught, and he stepped in close, realizing that he really did want to kiss Amy. So great.

Then, there’s the “almost-kiss.”

As a writer, it’s one of my favorite reader torture devices. Yeah, I know, the groans are audible. But—think about it. You have a couple that’s practically setting the snow on fire with desire and the tension is unbearable. They’re drawing together, this close to kissing…

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Guest Post

RE-RELEASE: Addicted to You by KM Scott!


New York Times & USA Today bestselling author K.M. Scott has given an old series a new look with new covers, new formatting, new titles, and a new series title!

The SILK series is now the ADDICTED TO YOU series!

The story is the same, but the titles are different–now they’re Crave, Adore, Shatter, and Claim.

Get your copies today and fall in love with Ian and Kristina’s story in the Addicted To You series!

ADDICTED TO YOU (4 Book Series)

Crave, Adore, Shatter & Claim

Author: K.M. Scott

Genre: Erotic Contemporary Romance

Cover Design: Maya’s Teasers & Design

Release Date: July 6, 2017

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Guest Post

My So-Called Teenage Romances by Julie Hammerle

I have always loved teen stuff—teen shows, teen movies, teen books. I love getting transported back to high school to experience all the angst and excitement and first loves. You know, all the stuff I totally missed out on when I was in high school.

Or, not really “missed out on.” More like “only experienced in my head.”

I didn’t have a lot of game back in high school. The fictional character I most closely identify with—in a whole slew of ways, including a love of cheese—is Liz Lemon from 30 Rock. And watching the episode where she goes back to high school and realizes that she’d been kind of a bully who was a big jerk to people hit a little too close to home. I don’t think I was mean to people necessarily, god I hope not, but I was definitely sarcastic, aloof, and maybe a little above it all.

Anyway, this arm’s-length attitude coupled with a very unfortunate sense of style meant to cover up my poor body image led to me not having a lot of luck with the gentlemen.

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Exclusive Excerpt

EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT: The Scars Between Us by MK Schiller

TheScarsBetweenUs-500 (1)
Emma Cooper is determined to fulfill her mother’s dying wish to scatter her ashes with Aiden Sheffield in Linx, Texas. Just one problem. Why Texas and who the hell is Aiden Sheffield? The only clue is a faded piece of her mother’s stationary. Emma imagines Aiden is a former love of her mother’s, but when she meets the beautiful, damaged stranger, she realizes her assumptions couldn’t be more wrong. He’s hot and young. And Emma is as confused as ever.

Aiden Sheffield would rather go to hell than Linx. Who does Emma think she is disrupting his carefully built life? The last thing the Marine needs is to slice open the sealed wounds of his painful past. Yet, as he gets to know the lovely Emma, a woman who manages to smile even though she’s lost everything, he changes his mind. He will not let her go to hell alone.

But neither is prepared for the devastating evil waiting for them at the end of the road. It might just destroy them.

Check out the excerpt below! 

In some ways, I’m grateful the memory came to me as I lie on the floor. It’s easier to distance myself from Emma when I think back to my childhood. It reminds me we come from two different worlds—not that either of us is normal. She is the girl who lost everything. I am the boy who never had anything. I wake up in the middle of the night, the memory fading away…dying and distant. Emma is lying next to me. She must have draped a sheet over me while I slept. I shake her awake, demanding an answer. “Why are you on the floor?” “You were having a nightmare. I didn’t wake you up this time, but I didn’t want you to be alone, either.” “It’s over.” “I know.” “Get off the floor.” “I want to sleep here.” “Why?” “Because this is where you are.” “Go to bed.” “Maybe I will if you stop waking me up.” “Go. To. The. Bed.” “No.” Her back is to me. She shivers. “You could at least share the sheet, though.” I sigh, throwing the cover over her, trying to summon annoyance I do not feel. God help me, I put my arms around her. She smells of vanilla and rum and sour apple Jolly Ranchers. I bury my face in the silk of her hair. This isn’t real, I tell myself. I am still dreaming. I can do what I want in a dream.

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Exclusive Excerpt

EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT: The Forbidden by Jodi Ellen Malpas

Annie has never experienced the “spark” with a guy – the kind of instant chemistry that steals your breath and blindsides you completely. Until a night out with friends brings her face to face with the wickedly sexy and mysterious Jack.

It’s not just a spark that ignites between them. It’s an explosion.

Jack promises to consume Annie. And he fully delivers on that promise.

Overwhelmed by the intensity of their one night together, Annie slips out of their hotel room. She is certain that a man who’s had such a powerful impact on her and who could bend her to his will so easily, must be dangerous.

But she’s already in too deep.
And Jack isn’t only dangerous.


Check out the excerpt! 

Keeping his eyes on mine, he calls to the barman. “Two tequilas, please.”

“Tequila,” I muse, looking over my shoulder when the salt and lemon land behind me. “Is that my challenge?”

“Crying off?” he goads, reaching into his pocket and pulling out some notes.

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