Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Romancing the Ugly Duckling by Clare London

Title: Romancing the Ugly Duckling
Author: Clare London
Series: Romancing the . . . #2/Dreamspun Desires #36
Genre: M/M Contemporary Romance
Release Date: June 15, 2017
Cover Design: Bree Archer
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Summary:
Is this the makeover of a lifetime?

Ambitious fashionista Perry Goodwood lands the project of his dreams—track down a celebrity family’s missing brother in the Scottish Highlands and bring him back to London for a TV reality show. But first he must transform the rugged loner into a glamorous sophisticate.

Greg Ventura has no use for high fashion. He lives on the isolated island of North Uist to escape the reminder that he’s nowhere near as handsome as his gorgeous brothers and avoid the painful childhood memories of being bullied.

Greg wants nothing to do with city life, and Perry’s never been outside London. When Perry is stranded on North Uist, this conflict seems insurmountable. But Greg is captivated by the vivacious Perry, and Perry by both the island and his host. However, Perry’s one heartfelt wish remains: that ugly duckling Greg fulfill his potential as a swan.


With Romancing the Ugly Duckling, Clare London has brought a modern M/M romance twist to the childhood story we were all told to show us that the inner self is where true beauty lies and to never judge a book by its cover.  Greg left the city and everything behind to outrun his childhood of being the local bullies favorite target.  Peter's job is to find the elusive brother to a celebrity family so they can be the newest reality television hit.  What they find is what neither was looking for.

I have never read Dreamspinner's Dreamspun Desires series before but if any of them are half as good as Romancing the Ugly Duckling I know I'll love them.  Is it really an opposites attract trope?  Well, that might be a bit too simplistic labeling but on the surface it's probably pretty accurate.  Having a pretty good inkling as to where the tale ends can sometimes ruin a story but sometimes it can make it even better because the truly intriguing bits are found in the journey.

Romancing makes for perfect summer reading, who am I kidding, it's a lovely read any time of year.  The lessons we learned, or should have learned, from the ugly duckling tale of our childhood should never leave us but unfortunately those are the lessons we too often forget so not only does Clare London bring us a beautifully written fun romance but she reminds us that a person's worth is not just what we see on the surface.  You won't be sorry for giving this one a chance.

RATING: 


After the meal, they settled in the living room again. Greg poured himself a glass of what he introduced as his homemade wine, but Perry politely declined a glass for himself. He couldn’t recall any decent wine he’d ever drunk being that particular shade of purple. He was definitely making a mental shopping list for when he could find somewhere civilized, and gin and tonic would come several steps above couscous on that.

Greg picked up a book and started reading. Perry waited a while—after deciding against asking what they could watch on the miniscule TV in the corner of the living room, with obvious dust settling on the controls—then coughed to get Greg’s attention. “Where do you need me tomorrow?”

Greg peered at him over the book. “What are you talking about?”

“Working together, remember? Um. What exactly do you do, apart from painting?”

Greg’s look was possibly sly, but that could have been due to the waning light outside the cottage.

“Sometimes I work in the Sea Bird restaurant.”

Perry thought he remembered seeing a sign to that place on his journey here in Dougie’s car. The building itself had been very small, more like a tea room, with a single light on in the front porch, and it didn’t look very open for business. But he’d go with the flow. “Are you a chef?”

Greg laughed. He seemed more relaxed tonight. “No, I think you’ve realized my cooking skills aren’t the best. And it’s not really big enough for a chef and full kitchen staff. I mean, it wouldn’t meet your London standards.”

“That has nothing to do with anything.”

“What?”

“My London… standards, experience, whatever you want to call it. I’m in Uist now, and I want to know what you do here.”

Greg was looking at him oddly. Was he, Perry, coming across as too bossy? God, this man was impossible to gauge properly.

“It’s more of a large dining room where friends can hang out.” Greg still sounded reasonably relaxed. “It’s owned by a couple of elderly sisters who are marvelous cooks, and we sometimes hire it out for a celebration. We’re not big on dinner parties here, you can imagine. I help out with serving when it’s busy. But mainly I provide the fish dishes, especially scallops.”

“You’re a fisherman?”

Greg nodded slowly, his gaze still on Perry. “Yes, you could say that. I’m a diver. I dive for scallops.”

“Can’t you just… I don’t know.” Buy them in a shop? “Don’t they have official suppliers?”

Greg frowned. “Hand-collected scallops are better. The sweeter ones are chosen, and the dish is more precious. Haven’t you ever tasted the difference?”

It pained Perry to admit weakness, but he did. “I’ve never had scallops in my life.”

Greg’s eyes narrowed. “I thought you lived in the center of the sophisticated city?”

“We can’t all afford posh restaurants,” Perry snapped back, then blushed at—yet again—having to admit shortcoming.

“Oh.” Greg blinked. “Well, you’ll see them in the raw when you come out in the boat tomorrow with me.”

“When I…? Tomorrow…? Boat?”

Greg smiled slowly. “Yes. The weather should be fine, so I’m driving west past Lochmaddy to one of my favorite coastal seawater lochs. I’ll pack some provisions so we can eat lunch there. You can help carry the equipment, then collect the scallops into boxes and keep watch for me.”

“We… I….” Perry was struggling for words. Worse, Greg seemed to realize it and find it highly amusing. “I’ve never been in one.”

“One what?”

“Boat. I’ve never been in a boat. Well, until the ferry two days ago.”

Greg nodded, also slowly. “That’s fine. You can stay here if you want.”

“No!” Perry’s cry was instinctive. Did this brute of a bloke think he, Perry, was a lightweight? “I will not! We made a deal.”

“Okay. Well, I hope Bridie brought a selection of decent waterproofs as well as your day clothes, because you’ll need them.”

“You said the weather should be fine….”

“Just in case,” Greg said ominously. He concentrated back on his book.

Perry sat silently for a long moment. In fact, everything was silent, inside the cottage and out, apart from the occasional call from a bird, and Greg turning a page. Perry wasn’t used to such quiet. Nor was he used to living in close quarters with a man who barely tolerated him, and actually wanted him to get lost. There was a small pile of paperbacks on the table beside Greg’s armchair, and Perry picked one up. He also wasn’t used to reading anthologies of horror stories, his preference being for romantic comedies and the occasional biography—but he supposed there was always a first time. Opening it to the first chapter, he bit back a sigh. At least he’d won this stage of the battle with Greg Ventura, and he had more time to convince him about the TV project.

But thinking about the trip out onto a likely freezing Scottish loch tomorrow, he wasn’t sure whether the price would be too much to pay.

Author Bio:
Clare took the pen name London from the city where she lives, loves, and writes. A lone, brave female in a frenetic, testosterone-fuelled family home, she juggles her writing with her other day job as an accountant.

She’s written in many genres and across many settings, with award-winning novels and short stories published both online and in print. She says she likes variety in her writing while friends say she’s just fickle, but as long as both theories spawn good fiction, she’s happy. Most of her work features male/male romance and drama with a healthy serving of physical passion, as she enjoys both reading and writing about strong, sympathetic and sexy characters.

Clare currently has several novels sulking at that tricky chapter 3 stage and plenty of other projects in mind . . . she just has to find out where she left them in that frenetic, testosterone-fuelled family home.

All the details and free fiction are available at her website. Visit her today and say hello!


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Out of the Box Awakening Audiobook by Jennifer Theriot

Title: Out of the Box Awakening
Author: Jennifer Theriot
Series: Out of the Box #1
Genre: Women's Fiction Romance
Release Date: December 21, 2013
Narrator: Triera Holley
Audio Release Date: June 13, 2017


Summary:
**2016 Reader's Favorite Award Winner in Women's Fiction**

**2017 Texas Association of Authors 1st Place: Romance Series**

Olivia Petersen thought her life ended the day her husband walked out. Little did she know, it had only just begun.

A good woman, mother, and wife, she's got it made. She didn't expect anything to change, but of course it does...

Swept from her perfect paper-doll life in Houston, Olivia finds herself in Chicago, alone, betrayed, and far from home. Soon everything she thought she knew about herself and her life will be challenged.

Ash Harper is the man who has everything--everything except healing from the losses of a lifetime and a dark family secret.

What happens when the married woman and the sexy handsome widower are thrown together by fate?

Out of the Box Awakening is a women's seasoned contemporary romance about second chances, shared passion and shared joy. Jennifer Theriot has written a compelling series about what happens when two people over the age of forty find new life and new love for themselves.

Recommended for readers over the age of 18. This book contains adult language and situations.








How long have you been narrating?
I started narrating audiobooks a year ago in 2016. I own an online book rental company and I did a small voice over bit for a marketing piece. A lot of friends said I really ought to look into doing voice over work. So I started out reading recipe books until I understood what works and what doesn’t work, how best to improve the sound, how much I could speak before my voice ran out, and how best to use the software. Once I felt comfortable navigating all these factors that go into audiobook recordings, I started narrating children’s stories.

What is your favorite genre to narrate and why?
I can’t say I have one favorite genre over another. I quite enjoy reading children’s books because you can vocally explore a wide range of voices (many silly voices which are fun). I enjoy adult fiction that fall under first person romance or thriller, because I can delve into the character’s emotions and it taps into my theatrical side.

Do you like input from your authors as far as voice styles or photos of the muses for characters? And is that helpful to you as a narrator?
I find voice samples and photos are extremely helpful in knowing what the author saw when they wrote the book. It is especially helpful for long stories with many characters. This helps delineate the characters from one another if you know the actors in real life. The downside can be if you don’t recognize the actor or their character type, then it becomes a concern whether or not you are adequately representing the character as the author intended.

So, you got the audition request for Out of the Box Awakening. What made you accept it? Was there something about the story line or character that drew you in?
From the very first paragraph of Out of the Box Awakening, I was drawn to Olivia. There was a wonderful vulnerable quality to her. Jennifer Theriot did such an amazing job of capturing her inner voice, that I knew I wanted to be the voice for Olivia. I also read a lot of the reviews from people that purchased Jennifer’s books and there were some amazing reviews that I knew this would be a book I would not only enjoy narrating, but reading. For a long book (it was estimated at 15 hours), it was important it was a book I would enjoy reading, and I was not wrong it was an incredible story.

Did you have a favorite character in Out of the Box Awakening?
Aside from Olivia, Todd is hands down my favorite character. I love the breadth of his character from unapologetic bad boy to hopeless romantic. I enjoyed narrating his lines when he would both swear like a sailor whilst at the same time espousing the merits of love, friendship, and kindness. 

Is communication with your authors important along the way? 
Communication with the author along the way is an absolute necessity. Yes, I can narrate a book without any input, but it would be terrible to find at the end that you didn’t get the character as the author intended. What I really enjoyed about working with Jennifer was how easy it was to develop a bond with her, even though we live on opposite sides of the planet. From the start, I knew I would like Jennifer and I immediately felt an obligation to do her story justice. I also felt her supporting and cheering me on as we advanced through the chapters. When you have an author that is excited for the narrator and appreciates the work, it makes it so much more rewarding!

You’ve received some pretty high accolades from Jennifer Theriot. How does that make you feel about doing future projects with her? Would you consider doing any more books in her Out of the Box series?
Using one of Olivia’s favorite sayings- “without a doubt”. I would jump at the opportunity to work with Jennifer again. Once I started narrating the final chapters of Awakenings, I felt both thrilled and melancholy to be finishing her story. Not just because the story was ending, but also because it has been such a breath of fresh air working with an author that cares so much for her story, for her narrator, and for the overall experience. I could tell that this story was more than just an endeavor for her. It is a story that lies close to her heart.

Now, a few questions for Triera as a ‘person’….

Do you have a career outside of narrating?
Outside of narration, I actually wear a few hats. I own an online book rental company in Denmark. I started it when I first moved here and started my little family. Books and most consumer goods in Denmark are expensive. There is a large second hand market here for that very reason. I was always an avid reader; as a child I was the first one running out to the book mobile. I saw that both my children held this same joy for books, but our libraries only carried about 30 English books. Whilst they would learn Danish and primarily speak Danish, I wanted to read to them and I wanted them to learn English. So I started owlbooks.dk for other expats that found themselves in the same situation.

I also do post production work. My clients are primarily professionals (no Hollywood movies yet). Most of the productions are online projects from commercials, to youtube video logs, coaching and strategy projects. These are a lot of fun and I enjoy the diversity of the projects.

How many audio books are in your repertoire? 
I have had the pleasure of narrating nine titles. My repertoire entails cook books, children and young adult books, and adult fiction. I’ve been a child, a witch, a vampire, a celestial being, and an amazing woman by the name of Olivia.

Tell us something about yourself and your hobbies.
Aside from playing the piano, I love sitting in front of the computer learning new things around the creative digital space. These are the two hobbies that I do on a regular basis, but I’ve delved into so many hobbies and as part of my quest to experience life to the fullest I hope to never stop taking on new hobbies. Many years ago I started taking flying lessons where I got to fly Cessna aircrafts. I was nearly complete with obtaining my private pilot’s license when I wound up moving and no longer lived close enough to my flying club. That was such a thrill and I do hope to take up lessons again.

What does the future hold for Triera?
If my history has taught me anything, it’s that there is no telling what my future holds. The beginning never follows a finite line to the end. I started off in this life as an orphan from the ravages of war and I was adopted into a wonderful family of six, worked and traveled throughout the world, and wound up in Denmark as a mother of two angels sent from heaven. I can only hope that my future holds wonderful experiences surrounded by people that I love and care for.

Author Bio:
USA Today Bestselling Author Jennifer Theriot (pronounced Terrio) hails from the Great State of Texas. She is a career woman, working as CFO of a Texas based real estate investment firm. She felt something was missing and discovered her passion for writing--mostly at night and on weekends. In her limited spare time Jennifer enjoys being outdoors; preferably somewhere on a beach curled up with a good book. Spending time with family and friends, watching a baseball game and enjoying a good bottle of wine are usually on her to-do lists. Jennifer has three grown children and is also 'MiMi' to four beautiful grandkids - all of whom she adores.

Her best-selling Out of the Box Series, OUT OF THE BOX AWAKENING, OUT OF THE BOX REGIFTED, OUT OF THE BOX EVERLASTING and TOCCATA OBBLIGATO~SERENADING KYRA are currently available on Amazon.com.


JD Frettier/Jennifer Theriot
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Second Chance by Suzanne Jenkins

Title: Second Chance
Author: Suzanne Jenkins
Series: Pam of Babylon #15
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Women's Fiction
Release Date: July 3, 2017
Summary:
Just when life settles down to a dull roar for those people whom Pam holds closest to her heart, the pendulum swings in the opposite direction and everyone is tossed into the air. Who will they hold on to as they fall back to earth?

Gladys finds the son she gave up at birth forty years ago; he's a single firefighter on Staten Island. At their first meeting, he sees Pam's beautiful daughter, Lisa. Will it be love at first sight? His appearance at the beach coincides with a long laundry list of drama involving Ryan and Maggie Lily, Alison and Ryan.

Who isn’t going a little crazy? Even Dan and Julie, who maintain the most peaceful existence, have a little fire lit under them when Julie’s sister, Angela brings Tamara home for a sleep over.

Cara is offered an ultimatum, and she doesn’t like the choices. But when she takes Lisa’s advice, and chooses what will be best for her son, something wonderful happens.

Pam and Randy take a trip to his cabin out west with sensational consequences.

Big Ed leaves Gladys, his wife of almost forty years for Melody. The unexpected? Gladys falls into the arms of the eligible bachelor, Dave, owner of Organic Bonanza. Will it be a case of I'd don't want her, you can't have her?

Sandra starts up an unusual relationship with her late ex's ex-wife. But history might repeat itself; Sandra can not be trusted.


July. Fire House A-89, in the northeast corner of Staten Island. Early Saturday morning, as the sun rose, fire fighter Dale McGuire stripped off turnout gear and hung it to air out on a hook on the outside of his locker. Coming in from a call for a small brush fire at the side of the highway right before the Verrazano Bridge entrance, Dale looked forward to coffee, something to eat, and bed for a nap, in that order.

Grabbing a towel, he walked to the shower, whistling.

“McGuire is happy this morning,” his colleague, Paul shouted, coming on his shift

“Yeah, because he gets to go home,” another firefighter called out.

Chuckling, Dale nodded. Life was so peaceful, if it weren’t for the fires he fought, the lives occasionally rescued, he’d have to consider getting a hobby just to prevent boredom from setting in. Mind a blank as he lathered up, he thought of getting home to his dog, Tilly. She’d be on the back of the couch, waiting for him.

“Jesus buddy, I’m embarrassed to strip in front of you,” Paul said, pointing to Dale returning from the shower. “Look at this guy’s abs.”

Quickly pulling his towel up higher, Dale laughed. “You’re not my type,” he said over the hilarity. “I won’t watch you if it’ll help.”

Locker room banter took some of the pain the exhaustion the night shift firefighters experienced away. “See you Monday,” Dale said when he was dressed, grabbing his duffle bag.

He lived in the house his late parents’ left him on Todt Hill, within walking distance to the firehouse. Volunteering there during high school, he bypassed college, much to his parents’ chagrin, and took a full time position as a firefighter rather than go away to his father’s alma mater in Philadelphia.

“It’s an honorable position, Douglas,” his mother had said in Dale’s defense. “Don’t make yourself sick with disappointment.”

“I wanted our son to follow in my footsteps. A McGuire at Penn is a tradition.”

Twenty years later, they were both dead, a fatal car wreck snuffing out the lives of Dale’s favorite people. Walking up the hill, he glanced up at the imposing structure in the bright morning sun. It was a grand house, but too big for a single man approaching middle-age.

Parents gone almost three years, he’d taken over the house as his own and couldn’t imagine anyone else living there with him. The scariest part of that; he knew he was becoming so set in his ways that if he didn’t fall in love soon, it might be too late. Feeling a sense of impending adventure in there air, there was definitely excitement looming. Hold it together, buddy, he told himself. You probably just need sleep.





Author Bio:
Suzanne writes page-turning contemporary romance, mystery, and women's fiction with passionately gripping characters that stay with readers long after they turn the last page. The Detroit Detective Stories, beginning with The Greeks of Beaubien Street are a reflection of American fantasy with historical reality. Pam of Babylon books consistently rank in the Top 100 Best Sellers in American Drama with over 500,000 downloads. A retired operating room nurse, Jenkins lives in Southern California.


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Second Chances #15

Pam of Babylon #1
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