"From Fake to Forever" Blog Tour and Giveaway!

Today, I'm happy to welcome Kat Cantrell to In the Hammock to celebrate the release of her book, "From Fake to Forever"! Kat will share with us a delicious recipe to enjoy while reading her book, and tips for aspiring writers! Don't miss the giveaway of one copy of "From Fake to Forever" at the bottom of this post!

By Kat Cantrell
Harlequin Desire; April 7, 2015
$5.25 US; 192 pages

(Synopsis from the publicist)
After one night of tequila and sex, their impromptu Vegas wedding shouldn't be valid. But Meredith just discovered she's still tied to businessman Jason Lynhurst. She needs out of their marriage, but if he's to become his company's new CEO, he needs her as a bride. Meredith can have her divorce, but only after he gets what he wants—which is more than merely a promotion. Let the newlywed games begin.

Bon Appetit and a Book 
"From Fake to Forever" 
by Kat Cantrell

Bon Appétit and a Book: A delicious recipe to enjoy alongside the book
Hummus and Pita Chips
This is my recipe for hummus, which I love to make fresh because store-bought generally has a high sodium content, as well as preservatives and other yucky stuff. This is easy to make and doesn't call for tahini which can be expensive.

Ingredients (4 servings)

1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained, liquid reserved
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 drops sesame oil, or to taste (optional)

5 mins
5 mins

Blend garbanzo beans, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, cumin, salt, and sesame oil in a food processor; stream reserved bean liquid into the mixture as it blends until desired consistency is achieved. Spoon into a serving bowl. You can let the flavors blend several hours or overnight before serving this.

To make fresh pita chips:
Cut two-three pitas into wedges (like a pizza)
Arrange on a pan and brush with olive oil
Grind or sprinkle salt and pepper to taste
Cook for 15 minutes at 375.

This is such an easy snack. I love to make it with my two boys and there are things even the little one can do. He likes to use the basting brush to "paint" the chips with oil. My older son likes to use the food processor--probably because I don't make him clean it!

Thanks for the recipe, Kat!! Sounds delicious!! 

How-To-Tips for Aspiring Writers: Advice on how to break into the series-writing business from Kat Cantrell
If you love romance novels and have always dreamed of writing one, you’re in good company. You’d be hard-pressed to find a romance writer working today who didn’t start out as a reader first. Guess what? If you’re a reader, you’ve already completed the all-important first step toward the goal of becoming an author! Reading is critical to understanding a bunch of important things like voice, structure, plot and character. Now you should target your reading to the specific type of story you want to write. If you’d like to write for Harlequin Desire, read as many as you can get your hands on. Study them and learn from them. Each line has a particular “feel” to it and always includes certain elements. Harlequin posts writing guidelines on its website so you don’t have to guess, but it’s always better to see it in action, so to speak.
Then the next steps are:
  1. Sit down and write.
  2. No, really. Set a goal and write.
  3. Not sure what goal to set? Start out with 500 words a day. Then write 500 tomorrow. And the next day. I work on my books every day. Yes. EVERY day, even Christmas.
  4. Read some craft books. I like Goal, Motivation and Conflict by Debra Dixon. But there are many, many great ones. If you already know you have a particular weakness, like you have no idea what I meant above by “voice”, find a book on that.
  5. If you don’t know your weaknesses, join a writer’s group. Romance Writers of America is one a lot of us belong to. Harlequin.com has a community forum with a particular area for writers. Talk to other writers. Find people to read your writing who can help you get better. I still have a friend read my stuff even though I’ve written fifteen books (Hi, Jen!).
  6. Be prepared to work hard and be realistic. Most authors will tell you it takes two years and at least two manuscripts to sell to a publisher like Harlequin. It took me two years and five manuscripts. Your mileage may vary.
  7. Go back to #1 and do that. You’d be surprised how many people get bogged down in craft books and writer’s forums and forget to actually, you know, write the book. You can’t sell a manuscript to any publisher if it doesn’t exist.

Wow, thanks for the great advice, Kat!!!

Buy the book here: http://www.harlequin.com/storeitem.html?iid=58842

T:\Harlequin 2015\APRIL - WEDDING\Kat Cantrell\Images\katcantrell_photo.jpgKAT CANTRELL read her first Harlequin novel in third grade and has been scribbling in notebooks since she learned to spell. What else would she write but romance? She majored in Literature, officially with the intent to teach, but somehow ended up buried in middle management at Corporate America, Inc. After three years and many thousands of words, her dream of publication finally came true. When she's not writing about characters on the journey to happily-ever-after, she can be found at a soccer game, watching Friends or dancing with her kids to Duran Duran and Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Check out the other two featured Harlequin Series Romance books this month!

"The Billionaire's Bridal Bargain"
by Lynne Graham
(synopsis from publicist)
To get his hands on her Mediterranean island inheritance, Cesare Sabatino must wed innocent Lizzie and ensure she's carrying his heir! Luckily the formidable Italian is legendary for his powers of persuasion. With Lizzie desperate to save her family's farm, it's only a matter of time before she gives in and discovers the many pleasurable benefits of wearing this tycoon's ring.

Buy here:  http://www.harlequin.com/storeitem.html?iid=58800

"The Italian's Deal for I Do"
by Jennifer Hayward
(synopsis from publicist)
He's conquered global markets and immeasurable hearts, but to regain control of the fashion empire that's rightfully his, Rocco Mondelli must prove his playboy days are over. His secret weapon? Supermodel-in-hiding Olivia Fitzgerald and the power to ruin her if she refuses to play his loving fiancée!

GIVEAWAY RULES: The publicist has generously provided a paperback copy of "From Fake to Forever" for a lucky reader of my blog!
All you have to do is fill out the Rafflecopter form below.
  • US only
  • Books will be mailed out by the publicist
  • Must be 18 or over 
  • Ends April 21
Thanks to everyone for entering! Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received copies of the books from the publicist in exchange for this post.

Spotlight: "It Started with a Scandal"

"It Started with a Scandal"
by Julie Anne Long
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: March 31, 2015
Source: e-arc sent by publisher

Summary from goodreads.com:

Lord Philippe Lavay once took to the high seas armed with charm as lethal as his sword and a stone-cold conviction: he'll restore his family's fortune and honor, no matter the cost. Victory is at last within reach--when a brutal attack snatches it from his grasp and lands him in Pennyroyal Green.

An afternoon of bliss brings a cascade of consequences for Elise Fountain. Shunned by her family and ousted from a job she loves, survival means a plummet down the social ladder to a position no woman has yet been able to keep: housekeeper to a frighteningly formidable prince.

The bold and gentle Elise sees past his battered body into Philippe's barricaded heart...and her innate sensuality ignites his blood. Now a man who thought he could never love and a woman who thought she would never again trust must fight an incendiary passion that could be the ruin of them both.
Book #10 in Julie Anne Long's Pennyroyal Green series!

Find out more about the book here

My thoughts: I haven't read this one yet, but I can't wait! Whenever I see the words "took to the high seas", I'm pretty much ready to buy the book! I can't resist anything even remotely swashbuckling. I'm also intrigued by the heroine's position as a housekeeper. We usually only get to see the upper class in historicals, so it will be different to read about the servants' point of view. Looks like another can't miss book by one of my favorite authors!

Disclosure: I received an e-copy of this book from the publisher

"Just Add Watercolor" Review

"Just Add Watercolor"
by Helen Birch
Publisher: Watson-Guptill
Release Date: March 3, 2015
Source: sent by publisher

My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Summary from goodreads.com:

A beautifully illustrated, easy-to-navigate guide to creating contemporary watercolors, pairing full-page paintings with insights and tips for artists.
     Featuring 200 of the best works of young, modern watercolor painters, paired with bite-sized painting tips and art instruction, Just Add Watercolor gives aspiring artists access to information about--and examples of--top work in the medium. Artist and instructor Helen Birch breaks down each painting by techniques, subject matter, and tools, providing art enthusiasts and painters with a one-stop resource and gallery of the best that modern watercolor has to offer. Its small trim size with one painting per spread provides a bold, but user-friendly alternative to traditional, process-heavy painting instruction texts. Just Add Watercolor shines the spotlight on featured paintings, while still giving readers all the insights needed to get started painting in this popular medium.
My Review:

This is just such a lovely little book! The size is small, perfect for adding to your bag to read while out and about. Honestly, even if you don't read the advice on watercolor painting, the wonderful illustrations alone are worth picking up this book to see!

There are no step by step instructions, its more of a compilation of advice, techniques, and tips for a watercolor artist. The tips come from many different artists, which gives such a great range of styles. If one artist isn't your style, there are many others that may right up your alley!

The format of the book is perfect for paging through. There is a grid at the front of the book with all of the artwork contained inside. So you can pick and choose that way or you can just page through. There are 200 watercolor artworks to choose from, each with a full page of tips and techniques from the artist.

Bottom Line: This book is the perfect gift for the watercolor artist of any skill level. It's small in size, but packed with info and beautiful paintings.

More info about the book here

Author bio

Disclosure: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

"A Heart fo Copper" Review

"A Heart for Copper"
by Sharon Lynn Fisher

Publisher: SilkWords
Release Date: May 9, 2014
Source: NetGalley

My Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars

Summary from goodreads.com:

An automaton created by an inventor's son, Copper has finally been given a heart by her young master. Her choice of whether to keep the key or give it to him will determine what happens next in this "pick your path" steampunk fairy tale.

Will she join his family in their English country manor, where she'll be forced to consider the question of whether she's really human? Or will she search out the quirky alchemist responsible for giving her life? Will her master hold onto her heart, or will she be tempted by the charms of an automaton man?
My Review:

"A Heart for Copper" is an interactive short story, it's done in the style of the "Choose Your Own Adventure" books. As the reader, you get to choose Copper's path, including romance! The story was very well-written, and I instantly felt for Copper. How difficult it would be to be silently in love with someone, unable to tell him or show him how she feels. When she does get her heart and she becomes human, she faces more questions than she ever dreamed of. She's so different from anyone else, what kind of life should she choose to lead now that she has the choice?

I found this story to be really fun and fast-paced. It's short, but I found myself going back and choosing all of Copper's different paths, in order to see how things could have come out differently. I really enjoyed the steampunk world that the author built. I could really see all of the characters living in this alternate history. The character of Copper is a great blend of vulnerable and strong, and she actually changes depending on what choices you make as the reader. 

This particular story is very sweet and appropriate for an adult or YA reader in my opinion, but be advised that there are a lot of varying heat levels in the stories featured on the Silkwords website, so be sure to choose your book accordingly! You can find the "Sweet" stories here.

Main Characters: 5/5
Supporting Characters: 5/5
Setting: 5/5

Romance: 4/5

Uniqueness: 5/5
Cover: 4/5
Writing: 4/5

Bottom Line: The reader decides Copper's fate in this fast-paced steampunk adventure and romance.

Disclosure: I received an e-copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

"Her Highland Fling" Review

"Her Highland Fling"
by Jennifer McQuiston
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: Jan 27, 2015
Source: sent by publisher

My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Summary from goodreads.com:

Let the Games Begin …

William MacKenzie has always been protective of his Scottish village. When Moraig's economy falters, he has the perfect solution to lure wealthy Londoners to this tiny hamlet: resurrect the ancient Highland Games! But for this to work, William knows he needs a reporter to showcase the town in just the right light.

A female journalist might be a tolerated oddity in Brighton, but newly minted reporter Penelope Tolbertson is discovering that finding respect in London is a far more difficult prospect. After receiving an invitation to cover Moraig's Highland Games, Penelope is determined to prove to her London editors just how valuable she can be.

Penelope instantly captures William's heart, but she is none too impressed with the gruff, broody Highlander; however, as she begins to understand his plans, Penelope discovers she may want more from him than just a story. She's only got a few days … but maybe a few days are all they need.
My Review:

This novella is a quick, fun, historical romance. I think the 'fling' in the title is very fitting. It's nothing too deep, just a really fluffy, quick romantic tale. The characters are sweet, but nothing extraordinary. Just a fun afternoon read.

I think I was drawn in the most by the heroine's stuttering. The first time we meet Penelope, we learn that she has a stutter, and she even feels like William is making fun of her (he isn't, don't worry!). Seeing that vulnerability right off the bat, just made me really pull for her as a character.

William is a fun leading man, but at first, I had trouble differentiating him from his brother (I haven't read any of the other books in the series, but I assume his brother was the lead in another book). It was difficult for me to keep them straight at first and I think that hampered my understanding of William's character for the rest of the story.

Main Characters: 4/5
Supporting Characters: 3/5
Setting: 4/5

Romance: 4/5

Uniqueness: 3/5
Cover: 4/5
Writing: 4/5

Bottom Line: This short and sweet novella really is a Highland Fling! What are you waiting for? Kick your feet up and enjoy a lighthearted Highland romance!

Disclosure: I received an e-copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

"Nightbird" Review

by Alice Hoffman
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books
Release Date: March 10, 2015
Source: sent by publisher

My Rating: 5 of 5 Stars

Summary from goodreads.com:

An enchanting novel from bestselling author Alice Hoffman: a charmed New England village, a family secret, and a friendship destined to defeat a witch.

"Some things could only be found in Sidwell it seemed: pink apples, black owls, and my brother, James."

Twelve-year-old Twig's town in the Berkshires is said to hide a winged beast, the Monster of Sidwell, and the rumors draw as many tourists as the town's famed pink apple orchards. Twig lives in the orchard with her mysterious brother James and her reclusive mother, a baker of irresistible apple pies. Because of a family secret, an ancient curse,Twig has had to isolate herself from other kids. Then a family with two girls, Julia and Agate, moves into the cottage next door. They are descendants of the witch who put the spell on Twig's family. But Julia turns out to be Twig's first true friend, and her ally in trying to undo the curse and smooth the path to true love for Agate and James.
My Review:

"Nightbird" is simply a lovely story. Written for middle grade readers, I think it can be read and enjoyed by all ages. The author's writing is superb, and the atmosphere in Sidwill is almost dreamlike. It was easy to get swept away in this world. The mix of fantasy and realism is blended exquisitely.

Twig is so lonely at the beginning of the book. Her loneliness practically melts off the page. She still has hope and great attitude, but the tone at the start of the book is pretty melancholy. It's not long before we learn why she and her brother and mother isolate themselves from the rest of the town, and friends are hard to come by for Twig. But that is before sisters Julia and Agate move in next door. The sisters show Twig what true friendship is, as they work together to help her brother, James.

I love that Julia and Agate love Twig and James with the unconditional love of true friends. No matter how much Twig and James push them away (as they do with everyone in town), Julia and Agate just keep coming back with their support and friendship.

The witch's curse just adds the perfect amount of magic to this tale. I love that no one is shocked by the presence of magic in the book, it just exists.

Main Characters: 5/5
Supporting Characters: 5/5
Setting: 5/5

Romance: 5/5

Uniqueness: 5/5
Cover: 5/5
Writing: 5/5

Bottom Line: I loved this magical tale of a lonely girl finding friendship and strengthening her family bond at the same time. The lush atmosphere and writing made this book a joy to read.

Disclosure: I received an e-copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

"Thirty Days to Win His Wife" Movie Star Cast!

Today, I'm happy to welcome Andrea Laurence to In the Hammock to celebrate the release of her book, "Thirty Days to Win His Wife"! Andrea will share with us her dream cast for a movie version of her book!

By Andrea Laurence
Harlequin Desire; February 3, 2015
$5.25 US; 192 pages

(Synopsis from the publicist)
Even with a baby on the way, Amelia's holding out for the perfect husband. Tyler has 30 days to prove he's the one.

Best friends Tyler Dixon and Amelia Kennedy eloped to Vegas on a whim. But before they can deal with their quickie divorce, she confesses: she's pregnant. Now there's no way Tyler will agree to go their separate ways. He wants them to stay married, raise their child together, share a house—and a bed.

Yet Amelia has always dreamed of a perfect marriage and she doesn't think this self-made millionaire is lifetime material despite their friendship. She's given him just one month to prove her wrong.

Movie Star Cast
By Andrea Laurence

Whenever I start a new book, I start a new Pinterest board. I like to collect images that inspire the story, including the characters, the settings and the clothes, then I use them to send to my publisher to help them with the cover design. You can check out my Pinterest board for THIRTY DAYS TO WIN HIS WIFE here:  http://www.pinterest.com/aclaurence/thirty-days-to-win-his-wife/

For Tyler, my inspiration and movie star cast choice would be Chris Pine. There’s just something about those blue eyes and perpetually scruffy chin that suited him perfectly. For Amelia, I chose the buxom redhead Christina Hendricks. There’s something undeniably sexy about those curves and Tyler was just the man to handle them.

Buy the book here: http://www.harlequin.com/storeitem.html?iid=56556

ANDREA LAURENCE has been devouring books since she learned to read at the age of 3. An old portable typewriter got her started writing in her room at 8 and she's been writing ever since. Her practical nature led her to pursue a master's degree and a career that would pay the bills, but the writing bug continued to bite. She started working ferociously in her spare time to become a published author and has become an active member of her local RWA chapter, Heart of Dixie. After eight years and 11 completed manuscripts, she finally made the leap and got "the call" from Harlequin Desire on May 31, 2011.
A dedicated West Coast girl transplanted into the Deep South, Andrea is working on her real-life "happily ever after" with her boyfriend of 10 years and their collection of animals including two cats, two mutts and a Siberian husky that sheds like nobody's business. 

Check out the other two featured Harlequin Series Romance books this month!

"Carrying His Secret"
by Marie Ferrarella
(synopsis from publicist)
USA Today bestselling author Marie Ferrarella’s 250th book, gets readers’ hearts pounding with a tale of love and murder. When a woman finds her boss murdered, she learns she may be the next target. The victim’s son will do anything to protect her—she’s pregnant with his baby after a steamy one-night tryst.

Buy here:  http://www.harlequin.com/storeitem.html?iid=56791

"Delucca's Marriage Contract"
by Abby Green
(synopsis from publicist)
USA Today bestselling author Abby Green enchants readers with a tale of a hunky entrepreneur’s practical plan to convince an heiress to marry him as a part of a business “arrangement.” But what he didn’t account for is that his reluctant bride’s feisty defiance would seduce him more than he had planned.

Disclosure: I received copies of the books from the publicist in exchange for this post.
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