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Thursday, August 9, 2012

New Release: Luscious by Amanda Usen

One of my author friends (who just happens to live only a few miles away from me) has a new release.



Newly divorced chef Olivia Marconi is balanced on the knife-edge of a major meltdown. A week in Italy with Sean, her hot divorce attorney—not to mention the fantastic food and wine—sounds like the perfect getaway. If only she wasn’t there to break her parents’ hearts by quitting the family business. Sean’s attention makes her feel brave, desirable, and adventurous again. But Sean is hiding something, and Olivia is short on trust these days. Can a romantic interlude in Italy turn into something more, or will it all go up in smoke?

Check out these fabulous reviews:

"Readers will really empathize with Usen's heroine, who is on the verge of letting her past ruin her future. The emotion in the novel is palpable and will draw readers in. 4 Stars" - RT Book Reviews

"The travelogue and delectable descriptions of food are satisfying, and sweetheart Sean will appeal to fans of genuinely nice guys. " - Publishers Weekly

"Usen expertly blends engaging characters with a swoon-worthy Italian setting right out of Under the Tuscan Sun (1996) and an abundance of delectably described Italian dishes to create an irresistible literary treat for fans of sizzling hot contemporary romances." - Booklist

"Luscious is a hot and spicy kind of read. It's seductive, with pinches of witty dialogue that leave you wanting just a taste more and not just in the kitchen." - Book Loons

"I can't wait to read what Amanda Usen comes up with next and I will definitely reread this one and savor every moment of Olivia and Sean's love story." - Night Owl Reviews

"All in all, I enjoyed this story! I can't get enough of fun contemporary romps that have "a chance at being happy again" kind of feel. If you love stories full of heart, romance, and a little fun in Italy, Luscious awaits you." - Long and Short Reviews

"Grab yourself a glass of wine and kick back, but be prepared for Luscious to leave you hungry – for both good food and more Usen books" - Booktrib

"What a great second installment in this series by Amanda Usen. Not only has she made this characters unbelievably realistic, but she has made them both so broken that you can't help but love them." - Guilty Pleasures Book Reviews

To get your copy, click HERE.

Congratulations to Amanda Usen!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Kelly Fitzpatrick's Pleasant Lake P.D. Coming September 2012!

It's almost here--Pleasant Lake P.D!

I've followed this novel almost since the beginning when I happened to judge Chapter One for a RWA chapter contest. I gave the entry a near perfect score, but it didn't final in the contest (presumably because one or both of the other judges didn't see its promise). However, a couple of months later, a partial did final in the Golden Heart Contest, and subsequently, Medallion Press picked it up for publication.

Pleasant Lake P.D.

By Kelly Fitzpatrick

Alexandria Moreno, parking enforcement officer for the serene town of Pleasant Lake, has signed on with the FBI to nail a gorgeous suspected criminal, Miguel Diaz, who’s passing himself off as a legitimate businessman. Alex’s assignment is to use her feminine wiles, of which she has few, to infiltrate Diaz’s world and find some evidence for a conviction.

To complicate matters, she’s teamed up with Detective Roman Plow, who is her ex-boyfriend, though the FBI doesn’t know it. As they focus on retaliating for past wrongs, real and imagined, their smoldering love/hate relationship brews. They’re not exactly an ideal team.

With her bumbling nature, a steamer trunk full of emotional baggage, and no investigating skills, Alex spends most of her time reminding herself that the tall, dark, and handsome Miguel Diaz is not her real boyfriend and struggling to keep from falling into his bed. As she tries to dig up dirt on her undercover lover, the steamy investigation leads to a fight for her life. But who is behind the attacks?

For more info on the release, click HERE.

Best of luck to Kelly Fitzpatrick!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

It Ain't About How Hard You Can Hit

When I was a teenager, I saw Rocky in the movie theatre. Over the years, I didn't catch the sequels, and to an extent, Rocky slipped away from my consciousness. Then, one day recently, I happened to see an interview of Sylvester Stallone. I discovered that he had not only stared in Rocky, but also written the screenplay. As an author, I perked up. He spoke of all those things of which authors speak: characterization, motivation, etc.

During the interview, Mr. Stallone discussed his disappointment with Rocky V (the final Rocky sequel), and his determination to create a new final sequel that would satisfy fans. Out of his determination came Rocky Balboa. He stirred my curiosity. I had to see what he'd done with Rocky thirty years later. I watched Rocky Balboa, and I so loved it that I went back and watched Rocky for the first time in years, then Rocky Balboa for a second time.

In Rocky Balboa, Rocky, who is now 59, decides to fight the current world heavyweight champion in an exhibition bout to rid himself of his inner beast (his grief over the loss of his wife). Robert, Rocky’s son, tries to dissuade him from returning to the ring, not because he fears for his father’s safety, but because he blames his own failings on his father's success. Rocky replies that, to succeed in life, "it ain't about how hard you hit; it's about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward."

I think the scene between Rocky and Robert is profound, but whether because Rocky’s words are so true to his character, or whether because they reflect my own personal philosophy, I couldn't say.

Click HERE to watch the scene.

After the ten-round bout, when Robert embraces a bloody and battered, but still standing, Rocky, he says, "That was the greatest thing I’ve ever seen, Pop." Rocky's lines are deeply moving, whereas Robert's line is emotionally satisfying. Moments later, fans are asked to say goodbye to Rocky...forever.

Rocky Balboa takes us full circle to Rocky.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Have You Supported the Arts Today?

This past Saturday, I visited with members of the Western New York Romance Writers, a local chapter of Romance Writers of America. I chatted with several members, some of whom made me think of the inherent difficulty of building a brand as a published author. In this virtual age, the golden days of publisher promotion are long gone (except perhaps for the big names), and the changing landscape of publishing requires authors to put their shoulders to the promotion wheel (in addition to turning out numerous titles every year). With this in mind, I'd like to introduce you to some authors:

 COLLISION by Cassandra Carr

Olympic medal winning figure skater Leah Fitzpatrick, dubbed “The Ice Queen,” is on the downslope of her career when she finds herself roped into a joint promo gig on the professional bull riders’ tour. She’s paired with “The King of Rodeo,” Brady Parrish, and although his looks could stop traffic, she’s got a future to worry about that doesn’t leave room for knocking boots with the sexy rider. No matter how hot he is.

Brady is at the top of his profession. He’s living the good life, and has no idea anything is missing until the cool Leah comes along. He sees something in her that hints at an underlying fire, and sets out to prove her nickname wrong. In the midst of their steamy affair, he falls hard. Blindsided by the potent combination of Leah’s beauty and vulnerability, Brady is determined to melt “The Ice Queen’s” heart.

To buy Collision, click HERE.

To learn more about Cassandra Carr, click HERE.

SCRUMPTIOUS by Amanda Usen

Joe Rafferty is just as mouthwatering as the food he cooks. But if he thinks he’s going to waltz in and take over her kitchen, he’s denser than a thick slice of chocolate-ripple cheesecake. Marly has invested too much of her life in Chameleon to hand off the restaurant to someone else—especially a cocky-as-all-get-out superstar chef.  But there’s no denying the man knows how to light her fire. Question is: Can she have the sizzle without feeling the burn?

To buy Scrumptious, click HERE.

To learn more about Amanda Usen, click HERE.


Philly Detective Nick McGraw's much needed vacation comes to a halt following his encounter with upscale spa proprietress Cassi Burke. Instincts tell the seasoned homicide cop Cassi didn’t kill the dead man at her feet. But Nick’s duty bound to deliver her to local police, never suspecting Cassi's brief moment of fame will make her the target of a psychotic stalker. Though intrigued by Cassi, Nick is not looking for forever, and he senses Cassi is a forever kind of girl. Attraction escalates, putting their feelings for one another, the silent threat to Cassi's life, and Nick's involvement in the unsolved murder case on a collision course.

To buy Deadly Reflection, click HERE.

To learn more about Nancy Kay, click HERE

WINDSWEPT by Cynthia Racette

When husband David is unfaithful and commits the ultimate betrayal by bringing his mistress onboard Windswept, Caroline’s world is shattered. He leaves her, and she is forced to rely solely on herself for the first time in her life. She has to be a single parent to her daughter, Lily, and must decide if she can forgive David for tearing her family apart.

As David and Caroline work to put their marriage back together, events and other people conspire against them. As their relationship begins to heal, the couple is caught in a horrific storm on the Chesapeake Bay. They want a chance to love again, but Mother Nature might have other ideas.

To buy Windswept, click HERE.

To learn more about Cynthia Racette, click HERE


Life is complicated enough when you're a teenage witch and working for you family's "Buggyman Pest Exterminator" business, going after paranormal pests in attics, walls, and barns. Then the Head Broom on the Paranormal Council tries to fix you up with her creepy vampire nephew. Your gorgeous cousin moves into town and is after your werewolf boyfriend. Plus you're ordered by the Paranormal Council to exterminate an infestation of cute little water dragons. As if that's not enough, demons are trying to take over the Western Gate!

To buy The Witch of the Western Gate: Dragon's Gift, click HERE.

To learn more about P.K. Brent, click HERE.

 RANDOM ACTS by Allison Stone

Second chances can have a terrible sense of timing. 

As a child, watching her mother always pick the wrong man left Danielle Carson wary of opening her heart to anyone—except Patrick Kingsley. But circumstances came between them and left Danielle with a broken heart. Now she buries the pain of what might have been by channeling all her energy into her career. When a family crisis brings her back to her hometown, she is forced to face the past—and the disturbing fact that her sister’s car accident was staged to mask a brutal beating.

A police officer and widower, Patrick guards his heart as fiercely as he guards his beloved daughter. Seeing Danielle again unexpectedly reignites their old flame, but no way will he introduce a woman into his daughter’s life. Certainly not one whose values on faith and family are so different from his own.
To buy Random Acts, click HERE.

To learn more about Allison Stone, click HERE.

RISK IT by Natasha Moore

On the outside, Amy has the American dream. Two busy kids, a job she loves, a big house thanks to her husband’s climb up the corporate ladder. What she hasn’t had in a long time…is sex. Sure, she’s too exhausted at night to think about it, but maybe Will’s long hours at work aren’t the real reason he rarely touches her anymore.

Feeling her marriage teetering on the edge, she rents the voyeur room at Paolo’s Playhouse. Maybe bringing back the memory of the one wicked thing they used to do together will relight the sparks. Will loves his wife, but she’s never been one to take chance—except for the time before kids, when they’d camp out in a club’s back booth, getting all worked up watching the dirty dancers. Their careers have seriously cut into their “us” time, and if she’s booked them a sexual playroom, it sounds like she’s serious about solving the problem.

When Will shows up way, way late, Amy wonders why she bothered, and if her plan to relight the flame has only made it painfully clear that it’s too late to try.

To buy Risk It, click HERE.

To learn more about Natasha Moore, click HERE.

We have such a treasure of artists in Western New York.

For those who don't know much about WNY, it has always been a haven for artists. Among many others, architects E.B. Greene, Louise Blanchard Bethune, and Frank Lloyd Wright, authors F. Scott Fitzgerald, Mark Twain, Leslie Fieldler, and Joyce Carol Oates, musicians Rick James, the Goo Goo Dolls, and Spyro Gryo, and actors/actresses James Whitmore, Katharine Cornell, and Lucille Ball had/have a WNY connection. Indeed, at the age of seventeen, I came to WNY to study with American poets Allen Ginsberg, Robert Creeley, and Joel Oppenheimer who'd found their own haven in WNY.