Essential Beginnings Kennedy Layne
Reviews, Reviews, TV


Indian Summers

If there is anything that I like more than reading about people with romantical problems in olden times, it’s watching programs about people with romantical problems in olden times.  Lucky for me, Masterpiece Theatre on PBS specializes in those kinds of dramas.  After giving us Poldark, a sweeping saga set in Cornwall in the late 18th century, this Sunday, we are introduced to Indian Summers, a nine-episode drama set in India in 1932. Indian Summers seems designed to appeal to the Downton audience, and it’s already been picked up for a second series. The series will be paired here with Home Fires, a drama revolving a rural English village on the verge of the Second World War.  A two for one on Sunday night!

This series seems to have everything that I love: glamorous clothes, an exotic locale, and gorgeous people suffering. Not to mention secrets, intrigue and forbidden love! And more important, diversity! It’s nice to see a series that is not all white and set in olden times. And it stars Mrs. Weasley (Julie Walters) as Cynthia Coffin, the Queen of Simla society who runs The Royal Simla Club with a well-manicured fist.  Cynthia (according to the series website) is “prepared to remove anything–or anyone–that stands between her and prosperity.”  Ooh, hello! I’m all for watching Julie Walters chew the scenery wearing slinky gowns. Frankly, I would watch her read the phone book and I love the fact that one of the leads is a woman of a certain age.

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Portland ME Freya Barker sale July
Guest Post

Guest Post: Wendy Corsi Staub on HELLO, IT’S ME

Hello It's Me Movie Wendy Markham

Although Wendy Corsi Staub’s most recent releases are thrillers, she also has a softer, more romantic side. She wrote Hello, It’s Me under the name Wendy Markham, and it’s been made into a movie that will be showing on the Hallmark Channel this Sunday at 9EST. Wendy joins us today to talk about what happened while writing the book, and how fiction often imitates life. Thanks, Wendy!

Twelve years ago last month, with my first New York Times bestseller under my belt, I had multi-book contracts with several major publishers. I was taking up two spots on the USA Today Bestseller List, with a suspense novel, Dearly Beloved (Kensington), written under my real name, and a romance novel, The Nine Month Plan (Warner), written under my new pseudonym Wendy Markham. The economy was surging at the fastest pace in decades, the publishing industry was solid, and my career was on an upward trajectory, enabling my husband to finally leave his hectic day job in advertising sales to spend more time with me and our two young sons. With our good friends Jon and Bill, we were planning a long awaited beach vacation to eastern Long Island, where our other friends, Mike and Lisa, lived. Our children were healthy. We were slowly healing from losing my mother-in-law to breast cancer in 2000, and my own parents were alive and well. Life was good.

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Sisters in Love Melissa Foster
Guest Post, Writer's Playbook

Guest Post: “Five Phases of Deadline Recovery” by Tanya Michaels

If She Dares Tanya Michaels

Today we have the fabulous Tanya Michaels joining us to share how she recovers from being on a deadline for one of her books! Take it away Tanya!

Obviously, authors can’t just sit down and write a book in a single day. (Some people even have carefully scheduled, methodical processes that involve plotting and outlining. Damn, I envy those people.) What you might not know is that recovering from writing a book is also not accomplished in a day.

One Does Not Tanya Michaels

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Autumn Thorns Yasmine Galenorn
Morning Bites

Man-Bun: Yea or Nay?

A man-bunned man reading. Yay or nay?

Yesterday, Buzzfeed shared pics of shirtless guys with man-buns. Twenty of them, no less. Shirtless? Sure. Man-bun? Hmm.

Man-buns have become more ubiquitous of late (particularly in EverAfter Romance’s home turf, New York City), and they elicit some powerful opinions. The pro-bun lobby cites its general sexiness, noting that there’s the appeal of undoing the bun to release the long, flowing locks. The anti-bun lobby points out that a man-bun is a precious affectation, and makes the bun-wearer look like he’s trying too hard.

Has there been a romance novel yet with a hero who sports a man-bun? What are your opinions on the man-bun: Yea or nay?


Guest Post

Guest Post: Amanda Bonilla’s Top 5 Favorite Assassins

Shadows at Midnight Amanda Bonilla

Amanda Bonilla’s deadly assassin Darian returns in the fifth book of the Shaede Assassin series, Shadows at Midnight. Amanda is somewhat of an assassin connoisseur, and she’s here to share her Top 5 Favorite Assassins (because everyone has that list, right?). Is your favorite lethal weapon here? Thanks for stopping by, Amanda!

I’ve always been fascinated by assassins, the way they can sometimes be portrayed as gray area characters. The complexity of putting the character’s conscience on hold to carry out a hit while later retaining his or her humanity enough to interact with other characters always has a way of drawing me in. In the Shaede Assassin series, Darian has spent the past five books working her way from cold and apathetic to a deeper and more relatable character. In SHADOWS AT MIDNIGHT, she’s got to hold on her to tough edge if she wants to save the people she cares about. And now that book 5 is out in the world, I thought I’d share my list of top five fictional assassins:

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Guest Post

Guest Post: “Reflections on Families in Romance” by Katy Regnery

Crazy About Cameron Katy Regnery

Families are a big part of romance, especially in contemporary series. Today we’re thrilled to have Katy Regnery with us to discuss her thoughts about families in romance! Take it away Katy!

Recently, I was asked why I felt that “brother” or “family” romance series are so popular; specifically, series like Carly Phillip’s Dares, Bella Andre’s Sullivans or my Blueberry Lane Series, which takes place in Philadelphia and—to date—includes the English and Winslow Brothers’ nine stories. And while I do believe that women are drawn to the young, sexy, wealthy, talented men we write, I also believe the answer goes much deeper.  What women love even more than the brothers themselves is the world the brothers inhabit: beautiful fantasy worlds we create that are still based within the framework of reality.

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Exclusive Excerpt, Guest Post

Guest Post: Lexxie Couper, Jess Dee, and Sami Lee Discuss TROPICAL HAZE

Tropical Haze Sami Lee

Today we have authors Lexxie Couper, Jess Dee, and Sami Lee talking about their experience and favorite parts of writing their Bandicoot Cove continuity, which is available in Tropical Haze!


Sami Lee:

There’s nothing like holidaying with good friends, but the next best thing is writing with friends—especially when you write stories set in such an idyllic place as Bandicoot Cove, where love and passion can sweep characters… or readers… away. Lexxie, Jess and I had such fun with this series, and we’re so excited that it will now be offered as a digital box set! Today we thought we’d share our favorite snippets from each of our stories:

My favorite part of Moonlight Mirage isn’t even one of the (hot!) love scenes. It was this moment at the groom’s buck’s party when Mitch’s iron control finally unraveled completely. A man who’s always prided himself of being the responsible one actually commits physical violence for the first time in his life because he’s jealous of the heroine’s relationship with a character I loved so much I wrote him his own story in Unforgettable Summer.

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Morning Bites

Does Your Reading Taste Change with the Seasons?

The best advertisement for wearing a sweater.

It’s FALL! Time for sweaters, cider, pumpkins, and — sniff! — to put away your open-toed shoes.

Does the new season mean that your reading tastes change, too? Do you put away all those “beach reads” in favor of something a bit more substantive?

Does your reading taste change with the seasons?

Guest Post, TV Recaps

Katee Robert Recaps the Premier of SCREAM QUEENS

Scream Queens Logo

I’ve been excited about Scream Queens since I heard that Jamie Lee Curtis was cast in the roll of the Dean. I mean, she’s Scream Queen royalty. If she agreed to the show, it HAS to be great, right? Yeah, the two-hour premier didn’t disappoint. It’s campy horror at its finest. I had to take some time to really think about it, though, because they threw everything but the kitchen sink at us.

This year seems to be the year of the campy horror television shows. MTV’s Scream has really pulled it off, and it’s impossible to avoid comparing the two, especially since they’re giving such heavy nods to past horror movie franchises. As Scream’s horror guru Noah says—the only way a slasher TV show would work is if viewers are invested in the characters.

But first, let’s get to the set up.

Fair warning – spoilers abound!

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Guest Post

Guest Post: “Redeeming a Villain” by Meghan March

Beneath These Scars Meghan March

Who doesn’t love a story of redemption? Especially when its the bad guy turning good and getting their Happily Ever After! Today Meghan March discusses how she pulls this off!

He’s the guy you love to hate. Not just your run-of-the-mill bad boy, but a bad man. The villain. So how do you redeem a character of that nature and get readers on board with giving him a happily ever after? Well, in the case of Lucas Titan, the villain we originally met in Beneath This Ink, it was actually some of the most fun I’ve had so far in my writing career. There’s something about a guy with an underhanded motive who is willing to blur the line between right and wrong that made the words fly from my head to the page. Because let’s be honest, don’t we all want to know why the bad guy does what he does?

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