Book birthday: scoring a second chance

Today, please welcome authors Liz Crowe and Desiree Holt! These two romance authors have teamed up for a joint project that is hot off the press. Take a peek at Numbers Game!

Former pro football player and coach Duncan “Hatch” Hatcher fumbled his career and marriage. Now divorced and ready to tackle his future, he has an opportunity to redeem himself as coach of his college alma mater’s football team. But how can he turn the team’s losing streak around and keep the secret of his downfall buried when the school agrees to a documentary that will allow a lovely journalist to dig her way into his past…and into his heart?

Former pro football player and coach Duncan “Hatch” Hatcher fumbled his career and marriage. Now divorced and ready to tackle his future, he has an opportunity to redeem himself as coach of his college alma mater’s football team. But how can he turn the team’s losing streak around and keep the secret of his downfall buried when the school agrees to a documentary that will allow a lovely journalist to dig her way into his past…and into his heart?

Olivia Grant’s ex-husband almost wrecked her journalism career while he definitely did a number on her self-esteem. The documentary on Duncan Hatcher is the perfect way to rebuild both. As a freshman in college, she’d had a crush on the senior football hero, but he hadn’t known she existed. She never expects the sparks that fly between them as they work on the project nor the struggles they must face if they both want to win.

The book, a contemporary romance with a sports theme, is available in a number of retail outlets. Pick up your copy here: UNIVERSAL BUY LINK

Excerpt:

Excerpt:

Hatch winced at the memory of how goofy he must have sounded to the lovely woman he was going to be having a fair bit of contact with this season. Olivia Grant was, without a doubt, beautiful, not to mention sexy as hell. She was a natural reporter, putting him at ease, even in the face of his high-school-ish reaction to her at first. But dear Lord, the crap he’d said? That shit about her being “better than she thought” at the race? And “looking for a foot in the door”? He’d sounded about as slick as the grandpas he’d been named for.

He groaned and pressed his forehead to the leather blotter on his new desk. After his divorce, he’d made a point not to notice women, something that was a bit of a self-imposed penalty. But there was no not noticing Olivia. Her soft, dark blonde hair that kept dropping over one of her deep green eyes as she’d look down at her notes, then back up at him. That smile, and those full, barely lip-sticked lips. And there was no denying she had a body that would be hard to shake out of his brain. Scott had told him she used to play soccer here, a few years behind him as an undergrad. How he’d not known her… Granted, he hadn’t been a big partier then, kept mostly to himself and his close group of friends and, as always, focused on the game.

But damn. He’d missed out on something then, without a doubt. He felt his face flush red and his entire body begin to react in ways that didn’t really serve him well as a fully grown man, with plenty of experience under his belt, so to speak.

Thankfully, she’d left before he could embarrass himself any more.

Home. Shower. Beer. Stare at a string of old movies on the giant television screen. Anything to get the lovely Olivia Grant and all her many attributes out of his head. She was, after all, the media. And everyone knew how he felt about the media.

It was get-a-grip time—on all parts of himself.

This was his chance at redemption. The opportunity was a godsend, considering the sorry state he’d left his life in on the west coast, and he didn’t intend to do anything to screw it up. He couldn’t afford to get distracted by a single thing. But how the hell was he going to do that when Olivia Grant might prove to be the biggest distraction of all?

Introducing Desiree:

USA Today best-selling and award-winning author Desiree Holt writes everything from romantic suspense and contemporary on a variety of heat levels up to erotic, a genre in which she is the oldest living author. She has been referred to by USA Today as the Nora Roberts of erotic romance, and is a winner of the EPIC E-Book Award, the Holt Medallion and a Romantic Times Reviewers Choice nominee. She has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning and in The Village Voice, The Daily Beast, USA Today, The (London) Daily Mail, The New Delhi Times and numerous other national and international publications. 

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Introducing Liz:

Liz Crowe is a Kentucky native and graduate of the University of Louisville living in Central Illinois. She’s spent her time as a three-continent expat trailing spouse, mom of three, real estate agent, brewery owner and bar manager, and is currently a social media consultant and humane society development director, in addition to being an award-winning author. With stories set in the not-so-common worlds of breweries, on the soccer pitch, inside fictional television stations and successful real estate offices, and even in exotic locales like Istanbul, Turkey, her books are compelling and told with a fresh voice. The Liz Crowe backlist has something for any reader seeking complex storylines with humor and complete casts of characters that will delight, at times frustrate, and always linger in the imagination long after the book is finished.

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Happy book birthday to Liz, Desiree and Numbers Game, and happy reading to all of you!

Darlene

Valentine Smooches for You! XOXO

Ahh, the kiss . . . affectionate peck . . . spine-tingling tease . . . soul-scorching lip lock . . . Anyone seen the movie Cinema Paradiso? Remember how the movie man, Alfredo, had to cut out all the kissing scenes from the movies, and then he put them all together on a reel for Salvatore? It’s a great montage of kisses!

Here’s a kiss reel of literary smooches! Enjoy! TSBU kiss

Reed leaned closer, his breath warm on her cheek. She braced herself for a friendly peck, but when her eyes fluttered shut, his lips grazed hers. Hovered there, and when she thought her legs might give out, Reed caught her arm and pulled her slightly toward him, his lips covering hers again.

He threaded one hand into her hair while the other tipped her chin.

Sparks exploded in her brain, and she grabbed hold of his arm. All of her senses came alive and responded to the unexpected deluge.

A long moment later, he pulled back and brushed a thumb across her cheek. “See you in about an hour.”

Kristen couldn’t speak but managed a nod. As soon as the door closed behind him, she collapsed against the sofa and ran a finger along her bottom lip. That kiss…Oh, man. The chances of her getting any writing done this weekend just dropped from unlikely to who-said-anything-about-writing?  The Story Between Us/Sweet contemporary romance by Darlene Deluca https://www.amazon.com/Story-Between-Us-Darlene-Deluca-ebook/dp/B08DCVKMWV/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=darlene+deluca&qid=1612996833&s=books&sr=1-1

“This is the proof we need. Oh, Tom. Thank you!” Becky grasped his shoulders and lifted on her toes, aiming for his cheek. 

Instinctively, he turned his head and their lips brushed in a brief kiss. Simmering desire roared into a full-blown bonfire. But she jerked away before he could get his arms around her and draw her into the flames with him.

“I-I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to,” she stammered. 

“I’m sorry you didn’t mean to as well.”  Tom Sawyer Returns by E.E. Burke https://www.amazon.com/Tom-Sawyer-Returns-New-Adventures-ebook/dp/B08S9RF6TQ/ref=sr_1_1?crid=K39HI2UMGFX8&dchild=1&keywords=ee+burke&qid=1613157930&sprefix=EE+Bur%2Cstripbooks%2C168&sr=8-1

“I…You…” He groaned and pulled her toward him, brushing his lips against hers. They were soft, giving, like everything about her. After the intractability of his father, he welcomed the change.

He needed the change. But he needed Dina more.

She gripped his elbows, and he kissed her. She tasted like wine and chocolate. His hands memorized the outline of her body beneath her sweater. In a corner of his mind he wondered if his hands distracted her as much as hers distracted him. Because hers currently played with the hair on the back of his neck and sent chills along his spine.

The thought came to him in a rush of panic. Like everyone else he’d ever cared for, she would leave him. 

He leaned forward, determined to make her stay. The gearshift dug into his rib, but he ignored the jab, needing to get closer. Pulling her against him, he traced kisses along her jaw. He nuzzled the skin behind her ear, smiling as she gasped. When her mouth opened, he plunged his tongue inside. She stilled before her tongue met his.  Learning to Love/contemporary romance by Jennifer Wilck On sale for 99 cents through 2/19 https://www.amazon.com/Learning-Love-Serendipity-Book-3-ebook/dp/B07J49V5SP

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Mandi leaned toward him, opened her mouth, and wiggled the pretzel on the tip of her tongue.

The invitation in her eyes stole his breath like a punch to the solar plexus. He moved in, ready to retrieve the pretzel. Just as their breath mingled, she quickly drew it back into her mouth. He helped himself to a handful of curls and landed a hard kiss on her lips instead. “You are a tease,” he said near her ear. “And you’ll pay for it.”

Laughing, she grazed his hand with her fingers. “Come on. One more dance then we go?”

Her whisper-soft touch sent an electrical current buzzing across his skin. “Yeah,” he managed. Something Good/contemporary romance by Darlene Deluca https://www.amazon.com/Something-Good-Darlene-Deluca-ebook/dp/B00J8UN1GI/ref=sr_1_3?dchild=1&keywords=darlene+deluca&qid=1612998121&s=books&sr=1-3

If Allison had ever imagined she would kiss Shane again in this lifetime, she would have imagined it this way. So sweet she wanted to die, so hard she tasted the need and the loneliness that bubbled up in both of them.

A sigh escaped her, and only drew him closer, and then he slipped the robe from her shoulders. He kissed her there and in the curve of her neck. When her knees buckled, he caught her and lifted her as if she was a wisp of marshland mist, a will-o-the-wisp. He sank onto the sofa, cradling her. She curled into his lap, put her arms around his neck, and kissed him again with all the heart of the young girl who’d first fallen in love with Shane McBride.  Will o’ the Wisp/ contemporary romantic suspense by Lucy Naylor Kubash http://lucynaylorkubash.com

“I can’t date the parent of one of my students.”

“What?”

His eyes narrowed as they bore into her.

“Is that a school policy?”

She looked away. “No. It’s not an official policy. But it’s not the way I operate.”

“Kate, I’m not married. It’s not like we’d be having an affair or something.”

“It just doesn’t look right, and I don’t ever want any suspicion of favoritism or inappropriate behavior.”

“Ah. I see.” He was quiet for a moment.

When she finally looked up, his mouth claimed hers. Heat surged through Kate, and her mind reeled as his lips moved over hers, warm and searching.

His hands pressed her back, and he stepped closer, deepening the kiss.

When he abruptly pulled back, she tightened her grip on his arm, dazed and unsteady.

“Might be time to re-think your position,” he said, lightly brushing his thumb against her lips.

Her lips were still buzzing when he closed the door behind him.  Unexpected Legacy/sweet contemporary romance by Darlene Deluca https://www.amazon.com/Unexpected-Legacy-Darlene-Deluca-ebook/dp/B00AW5NTC4/ref=sr_1_7?dchild=1&keywords=darlene+deluca&qid=1612999943&s=books&sr=1-7

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She examined her face in the bathroom mirror. She appeared as she felt—wasted. As she splashed cold water on her face, she heard knocking at the door. Drying her face and hands, she shuffled to the door and peered through the peephole. She opened the door and feasted on the sight of Aiden’s tall, powerful body looming above her. 

Without hesitation, Aiden wrapped an arm around her waist. As he closed the door with his foot, he gathered her to him and buried his face in her hair. Leila held on, burrowing close. On auto-pilot, she tilted her head. He captured her lips in a long drugging kiss as he buried his hands in her hair. For a few minutes, her world righted before she remembered where she was and why she was there. Breaking the kiss, she pulled away. She stepped back and wrapped her arms around herself.  Gravity by Mona Sedrak https://books2read.com/ap/8Yo0OQ/Mona-Sedrak

She drew herself up to full height, which was middling tall for a woman. “Noah is your brother,” she began, “If you can’t be bothered—”

    “Oh, I’m bothered, Miz Bramwell,” he said. “I’m tired and I’m hungry. I’m paying you to take care of—” 

    “And I’m telling you your brother needs your discipline,” she said, taking a step closer. 

He stepped toward her also. “If you calm down and tell me what he done—” 

“It’s did, Mr. Pershing. What he did was—” 

At her correction, Zeke saw red.

Her dark eyes glared at him and her mouth curved in a pout.

So he kissed her.  My Hope Secured/historical fiction by Theresa Hupp https://www.amazon.com/My-Hope-Secured-Frontier-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B07ZQM7SWP

“Janet,” he said, “you don’t want to get involved with me.”

       “I do,” she said. She bent her head and kissed him, gently at first. Then, as he began to respond, she slid her hand under his shirt and rested her palm on his warm, solid chest. She felt his heart beating.

       When at last she drew away, Wes looked at her for a long moment. Then he put his hands behind her head and pulled her back down to him.  Stranger in the Storm/romantic suspense by Patricia McAlexander https://patriciamcalexander.weebly.com

I held her close. She stroked my hair. With a thought I flipped the lights off; with another closed the wing of the piano. In the moonlight, I laid the woman of my dreams on top of the nine-foot concert grand, and I kissed her.

Breathing ragged, heart pounding, I stood back to worship her. I kissed her beautiful long neck, losing all consciousness except the wonders of her and the wonder that she was at last with me. I trailed my lips to her collarbone. She groaned, softly pleading.

Isabeau was trembling, her pupils so dilated her lavender blue eyes looked black.  Sinners’ Opera/Paranormal Romance (Vampire) by Linda Nightingale https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07X3RSRXQ/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i6

She leaned to kiss his cheek. An innocent gesture—until he suddenly turned to face her. Her lips landed firmly upon his.

Danielle should have backed away…should have resisted the temptation to explore. 

An explosion of tingles ignited from the tips of her curled toes to her fingertips as she received an immediate response. He tasted delicious.  Kissed By Winter/Sweet Contemporary Romance by Darlene Fredette  https://www.amazon.com/Kissed-Winter-Redford-Falls-Novel-ebook/dp/B08DZ6ZW2V/ref=sr_1_3?dchild=1&keywords=Darlene+Fredette&qid=1613157289&s=books&sr=1-3

She had so not expected this, was totally unprepared for the way her body heated at his touch. His tongue swept into her mouth, stroking her tongue over and over until her knees turned to water and she had to grip his biceps to stay upright. He tasted hot, and a little desperate. Desperate for her. Her body arched toward him, his thumbs leaving a trail of fire in their wake.  

He stopped kissing her and she wanted to whimper in protest, to beg him not to stop. He leaned his forehead against hers, breathing heavily as his hands gripped her hips.

“Don’t go.” His voice was a rough whisper. “Stay with me tonight.”  To Heal A Heart/small town contemporary romance by Jana Richards https://www.amazon.com/Heal-Heart-Masonville-Book-ebook/dp/B0875SLGK6 

With his hands on her shoulders, Lane leaned in then planted a kiss on her cheek. That’s all he intended to do, but it was out of his control. As if some magnetic force surrounded them, they were propelled toward each other. He couldn’t pull away. And neither did she. Another second, and his lips found hers.

Her hands gripped his arms, and he deepened the kiss, his lips moving over hers with need and urgency, oblivious to everything around them.

When she let out a soft whimper, he broke off the kiss and pulled her against his chest, burying his face in her hair.  Something Good/contemporary romance by Darlene Deluca https://www.amazon.com/Something-Good-Darlene-Deluca-ebook/dp/B00J8UN1GI/ref=sr_1_3?dchild=1&keywords=darlene+deluca&qid=1612998121&s=books&sr=1-3

I walked him to the door, resolved to say good night and for once not mean goodbye. I didn’t want him to go.

“Stay.” I laid my head against his chest. “We can sleep on the Castro.”

His shudder was rewarding.

“If you only knew how long I’ve wanted to hear you ask me. Jesus.” He laughed, a shy embarrassed sound that gladdened my heart. “I can’t believe I’m about to say this.” He took a deep breath. “We shouldn’t. Not tonight.”

“Why not?”

“Because I’m not sure we’d be doing it out of love.” He looked at me with a question in his gaze. “I don’t want us to make love because we’re afraid.”

I frowned, my heart heavy, my spirit desperate to disagree, but unable to.

“Okay.” I sighed, but still clung to him. “Not tonight. But soon. And for the rest of our lives.”

“Soon. And for the rest of our lives.”

He cupped my face in both his hands then kissed me in our mutual agreement. Equal parts of nervousness and desire quivered in my belly. I liked the sensation, felt warmed as I imagined what soon would be like.  Haunted Serenade/gothic romance by Anna M. Taylor https://amzn.to/3aXifyu

Elmer slid his truck into a spot outside Margot’s apartment building, switched off the ignition, and sucked in a deep breath. Normally, he’d just ask for a good-night kiss. No big deal. But something about this tough little pixie urged caution and patience. Tonight, she’d loosened her armor just enough to glimpse the vulnerable softness beneath. If he wanted to see more, and he really, really did, he’d have to go slow.

   He took her hand and paused. When she didn’t pull away, he raised it to his lips. But before he could make contact, she made a funny grunting sound deep in her throat, tugged him close, and planted a wet smooch right on his mouth, her lips as soft and succulent as a ripe peach. For a second he froze. Then lust stomped on the gas. He crushed her against his chest and claimed what she offered.

   Rain pattered on the cracked windshield. In the darkness outside, the tires of passing cars hissed on wet asphalt. Inside, only the sound of their shallow breathing and the pounding of his heart, so damn loud she must surely hear it.

   Without releasing her, he pulled back just far enough to gaze into her face. Her deep blue eyes gleamed under the streetlamp’s feeble light.

   Her lips parted. “Wow, I uh…wow.” A deep blush painted her cheeks.  Love, Art, and Other Obstacles/contemporary romance by Sadira Stone https://books2read.com/u/bar2RP 

John smiles and cups the back of my head and we fall into a kiss. Our tongues dance together in sort of a slippery, erotic tango. I move closer to him and grasp his arm. I’m falling fast and hard and I don’t know how to stop myself. Not that I want to.

He pulls away first and holds my face between his hands. Then he kisses the tip of my nose. His lips travel to my cheek, my chin, and end at the nape of my neck, leaving me a hot, melting blob.

“Ace,” he whispers, we haven’t known each other long, and I know it might sound crazy, but I think I might be falling in love with you.”

Did I hear him right? My blob-self melts to a puddle on the floor. I pull it together long enough to say, “Thanks,” and pour myself out the door.  Cherokee Summer/ YA Romance by Susan Antony https://www.amazon.com/Cherokee-Summer-Susan-Antony-ebook/dp/B07L7GLGRG/

Shay turned to leave, but before she could walk away, Aden grasped her arm and pulled her to his chest.

“Uh-uh, no leaving before I get a kiss goodbye.”

Not one for PDAs, Shay glanced around. The coast was clear. She reached around his neck and pulled him in, giving him a fierce, swift kiss, then stepped back.

“Hey,” he complained, trying to get her back.

“I’ve got to go.” She giggled and danced out of his reach.  Rock House Grill/Romantic Suspense by D. V. Stone https://www.dvstoneauthor.com/

Catalina dove into the pool. Barely disturbing the surface, she cut through the water. Her hair flowed across he shoulders, tickling her with a feather’s touch. Five minutes passed. She looked to her left and saw Bonhomme resting against the side of the pool, elbows propped on the tile gutter. She swam a few more laps, then stopped and dipped her head back into the water.

 She waded toward Bonhomme. He reached out, pulled her close and held her with warm comforting hands. He placed a thoughtful kiss on her lips, moving to her neck and back to her lips again. He tasted her, then pulled away.  Return of the French Blue/suspense/women’s fiction by Pamela Boles Eglinski https://www.amazon.com/Return-French-Blue-centuries-International-ebook/dp/B008BDBKTS

He stepped closer, cupped her face in his hands, his thumbs resting on her cheeks, his exploring fingers spread into her hair.

He bent forward and kissed her on the lips. His long hair tickled her face, and intensely aware of his hard body, she let his strength call to her. His gentle tone tugged on heartstrings she never knew she possessed, and the sweet warmth of his touch lured her to lean into his hand. This close, his eyes were intense flecks of green, brown, and gold trapped within a black ring.

If he used magic on her, she didn’t care. All thoughts of the Guardians vanished. Nothing mattered. Only them. Only Cress. He created a longing in her that overshadowed everything else.

Her heart quickened and pulsated in a nice way. Maybe she could add lover to their relationship. A delightful shudder of anticipation rippled through her. — Woman in the Woods/ Fantasy romance by Darcy Carson https://www.amazon.com/Woman-Woods-Dragons-Return-Book-ebook/dp/B082S77VQ9/ref=sr_1_4?dchild=1&keywords=darcy+carson&qid=1613068531&sr=8-4

♥ Hope you enjoyed all those kisses! Happy Valentine’s Day to all! ♥

Thanksgiving is a wake-up call for this fictional family

With the holiday season upon us and Thanksgiving only a couple of days away, I decided to go through my published novels to find holiday scenes to share. For me, the holidays are generally crazy busy with shopping and festivities. This year, looks like things will be quieter. No events or guests. Maybe I’ll have a chance to read a few more books! Maybe you will, too.

Here’s an excerpt from one of my early women’s fiction novels, the first in the Women of Whitfield series. It’s a story with some serious ups and downs about friends, family and regeneration. In this scene, the family has been going through a rough spell, and Thanksgiving dinner is a big wake-up call. Take a peek:

Elise watched her mother pick at her food, lifting an occasional shaky forkful to her mouth. She’d taken only a small portion of turkey and potatoes and a little fruit salad. Hardly enough to keep anyone alive. How had it gotten so bad? Elise wondered if Mary knew. When was the last time her mother had interacted with anyone? Did Nathan ever check in on her?

Living by herself at the lake house obviously wasn’t working. Elise would have to make some phone calls. Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00031]

She refilled her mother’s coffee mug, leaving plenty of room at the top for sloshing. “Mom, did you get enough to eat? Can I get you anything else?”

Dull eyes looked up at her. Her mother shook her head, then turned to their hostess. “It was a lovely dinner. Thank you.”

Polite, dutiful and automatic. She said the right words, but Elise knew her mother was simply going through the motions. The rote words were delivered in monotone. Fear swept through her. She was losing her mother. Elise hurried back to the kitchen with the coffee pot, and swiped at the tears that escaped. She braced her arms against the sink, trying to catch her breath. A few moments later, Brian’s strong hands squeezed her shoulders.

“Hey. Take it easy, hon.”

“My mom is gone, Brian,” Elise whispered. “She’s completely lost it.”

He pulled her into his arms, warm hands circling over her back. “Shhh. It’ll be okay. Let’s just get through another hour or so, then we can leave.”

For the next two hours, they all pretended everything was perfectly fine. Her mother was the elephant in the living room, and they all danced around her. Derek built a fire in the fireplace, and turned the television on to one of the football games. That’s what they did on Thanksgiving Day.

Elise watched in disbelief as her mother smoothed the crease in her slacks, drank coffee, and stared into space.

The Storm within is available in digital and paperback format at Apple books, Barnes & Noble online and Amazon. Click here to learn more!

— from a 5-star review: “This was a hard book to put down. I got so involved with the characters that I shed tears for dark moments and tears for joy when things worked out. Ms Deluca is a powerful story teller and has deep insight into human frailties and strengths.”

Wishing you all a happy and healthy Thanksgiving and holiday season. Happy reading!

Darlene

Authors, libraries and books! Oh, my!

Hello, everyone! Hope your weekend is off to a great start! Today is the final day of Mid-Continent Public Library’s Local Author Fair. I’m one of the authors featured on the 1:30 p.m. (CT) panel discussing books, writing and publishing. In the past, this has been a really fun live event where I’ve met readers while selling and signing books.

locautpan3Alas, this year it’s a virtual event. But, hey, that means more people can tune in, and you can do so from the safety of your own home! I’ll be discussing my writing journey, the women’s fiction and romance genres, and featuring my newest release, “The Story Between Us.” The panel highlights four different authors writing a variety of styles and genres.

Many thanks to MCPL for all their work in putting this together and supporting local authors. Hope you’ll join us!

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“The Story Between Us” is a sweet romance available in both digital and paperback formats from a variety of online resources. Click here to visit the Amazon page, learn more, and check out the reader reviews!

Is your book club meeting virtually? Choose one of my books to read and discuss, and I’m happy to join the meeting online! Find discussion questions and contact me on the website.

Happy reading to all!

Darlene

A Review Roundup

Whew! It’s been a crazy, busy few weeks since the release of my newest book, “The Story Between Us.”  It’s a tense time for any author — watching sales and rankings and waiting for reviewers to render judgment. Reviews are slowly but surely coming in, and I’m happy to report they are looking good! 🙂  Here’s a peek:

A great book for this pandemic time period. You can lose yourself in this story and it will leave you with a smile. A well-written love story that even exposes the soulless nature of writing books for the Big Five. Recommended to every fan of Hallmark romances. This would make a must-watch Hallmark Channel movie. –N.N. Light’s Book Heaven

The Story Between BR

What I enjoyed about this story is the depth of the characters. . . I enjoyed watching Reed adjust, learn new skills he would need as a single parent, and realize that maybe there is more to life than becoming an executive in a large corporation. Overall a delightful book and we give this book 4 paws up.Leslie aka StoreyBook Reviews

**

I bought this book and read it in one day. It is excellent. The plot and characters kept me interested and I couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen next. — Amazon reviewer

**

“The Story Between Us” is an utterly charming tale of life, loss, and finding love in unexpected places. — InD’Tale Magazine

Crowned heart TSBU

“Kristen Hanover is a winsome heroine and THE STORY BETWEEN US is a satisfying romance that will warm your heart and renew your belief in the hope of happy endings.” –Marie Bostwick, NYT and USAToday bestselling author of Hope on the Inside

Next time you enjoy a book, consider leaving a short review! Many retailers, including Amazon and BarnesandNoble.com, and some reader sites, such as BookBub and Goodreads, give you the option of leaving a review. You just might make someone’s day!

Happy reading to all!

Darlene

“The Story Between Us” is available in digital and paperback formats.

Amazon

BarnesandNoble

Apple

Kobo

From a character’s point of view!

What a fun interview! A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of being a guest on author Amber Daulton’s blog where she “interviewed” Kristen Hanover, the lead female character in my new contemporary romance “The Story Between Us.” It was a fun exercise to really get inside my character’s head and think about how she would respond. Here’s what she had to say:

(p.s. Please excuse formatting issues! WordPress went and changed everything!! ERG!)

What’s your name?

Hi, I’m Kristen Hanover, heroine of The Story Between Us

What do you look like? I’ve got brown hair with reddish highlights that falls a few inches below my shoulders. I tend to wear it down or in a single braid. I also have green eyes and a smattering of freckles across my cheeks that seem to explode in the summer.

What time period does your story take place? It’s a story of contemporary life. We could be friends today!

For a visual storyboard of “The Story Between Us,” visit my Pinterest page! https://www.pinterest.com/darlenedelucaau/books-the-story-between-us/

What’s your goal in this story? What conflicts are you facing? To tell you the truth, they’re wearing me thin. I’m trying to focus on my career and really make the most of my recent success, but there’s so much going on to distract me. My brother is ready to sell the family farm following my mother’s death, so I’m facing the big clean-out and having to sell our horses – including my own pet, Star. It’s a tough, emotional time for me. Then I meet a really sweet kid and get a great story idea based on one of his heartwarming memories of his parents. I have visions of adorable illustrations and a treasured keepsake for this charming little boy who likes my books. I’m thinking of a dedication, maybe a scholarship fund from a portion of the sales. We’re both excited about the idea. Then his uncle/guardian accuses me of exploiting the boy – using him to make a couple of bucks. Whoa! Are you kidding me?

What is your occupation? Are you any good at it? Do you like it? I write children’s books, and I love it. My newest book shot up the charts and became a bestseller, so I’m now on tour visiting classrooms and bookstores and meeting my adorable young fans. Interacting with them is a blast. Kids are so funny, and I’m humbled to be an influence in their lives.

What skill do you have that you’re proud of? Why? Besides writing, I have a couple of skills, or talents. I can handle a horse pretty well and love to ride. I also play guitar. Now that I think about it, it’s interesting that both of these things are activities that help me wind down, to clear my head and let my thoughts wander. They soothe my soul. And I’ve found that they can help others. In this story, I’m able to connect with a little kid, that’s Dylan, by playing my guitar in a private jam session. Music has a way of bringing people together. And because I have some horsemanship skills, I’m able to help Dylan overcome his fear of horses, which has caused some issues on his grandpa’s ranch. I’m definitely proud of that accomplishment!  

What did you think the first time you saw Reed ? I noticed two things about Reed Armstrong right away. First, he was a fine speciman – good looking, nicely put together and kind of a hunk. But, second, I could tell he wasn’t thrilled about being dragged to a book signing that evening. He seemed bored and ready to get out of there. I caught that look of impatience in his otherwise gorgeous smoky blue eyes. So, while he sent my heart rate spiking, he also got my defenses up. After all, my book signing in a popular Dallas bookstore was a great place to be!

What do you wish your author had not told others about you?

Sigh. I don’t think it was necessary for her to tell everyone that I’d been warned, that I was headed for trouble and it was my own fault. Okay, yes, my agent had warned me about getting involved with fans. She said it was a bad idea – more than once. But Dylan is such a sweet kid, and I couldn’t turn away from him and his tragedy. His uncle…well, he needed help, too. They tugged at my heartstrings. Maybe I should’ve been more cautious, but come on, who wants to hear “I told you so?!”

“The Story Between Us” is now available in digital and paperback formats at a variety of online retailers.

https://www.amazon.com/Story-Between-Us-Darlene-Deluca-ebook/dp/B08DCVKMWV/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=darlene+deluca&qid=1599575413&s=books&sr=1-1

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-story-between-us-darlene-deluca/1137387092?ean=2940162985785

https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-story-between-us/id1525107147

As summer transitions into fall, curl up with a book that’s sure to offer all the feels and leave you with a satisfied smile!

Happy reading to all!

Darlene

Salvaging a Milestone Birthday

So today is a big day for me. It’s a milestone birthday — one that I had planned to celebrate with travel and festivities. I was going to bask on the beaches of Kauai. I was going to indulge myself and get out of town for a few weeks during the long, cold, snowy, miserable winter. But, alas, there’s an international health crisis, and I’m not going anywhere.

pretty cover picI was feeling bummed about this, of course, as are a lot of people who had to cancel cruises, weddings and other fun events. I’m not really complaining. I know it’s the right thing to do, and I want us to kick Covid-19 to the curb. Still, it’s hard to not feel a little sad.

What salvaged this birthday? My publisher, The Wild Rose Press, by chance scheduled release day for my new novel on my birthday! Another occasion to celebrate! While I can’t hold an actual release party or book signing, I can throw a virtual book bash! So that’s what I’m doing. I hope you’ll join the festivities on my Facebook Author Page (join the party). We’ll have virtual champagne and chocolate. I’ll introduce you to Kristen, Reed and Dylan, and “The Story Between Us,” and I’ll give away a few books! Hope to see you there!

Darlene

The Moments We Wait For!

Well, finally, here it is! “The Story Between Us,” my new contemporary romance, is scheduled for release this month! Woot! So excited to launch the book into the world, and happy to announce the ebook is now available for pre-order at a discount price at Amazon, Apple Books and BarnesandNoble.com. Pre-orders will automatically download to your reading device on release day – Aug. 26th.

pre-order square

Here’s what advance reviewers have to say:

“Kristen Hanover is a winsome heroine and THE STORY BETWEEN US is a satisfying romance that will warm your heart and renew your belief in the hope of happy endings.” –Marie Bostwick, NYT and USAToday bestselling author of Hope on the Inside

“An utterly charming tale of life, loss, and finding love in unexpected places. A heartwarming and delightful read from start to finish!”  ~~InD’tale Magazine

I couldn’t put this sweet story down. The characters are so life-like. I found myself pulling for this couple to make it. Darlene’s stories never disappoint! – Toni A.

“The Story Between Us” is a sweet, poignant story about loss, love, and finding sparks that last. I recommend this 5 Sparkler book to anyone looking for a romance that tugs at the heartstrings in all the right ways. – Sparkling Book Reviews

Introducing Kristen, Reed and Dylan . . .

Her agent warned her not to get attached to a fan. But children’s book author Kristen Hanover is about to break the rules. Kristen meets a young boy who is a victim of a tragic accident and is drawn into the heartbreaking situation.

Six years ago, Reed Armstrong never imagined he’d actually become guardian of his sister’s boy. Now he is, and most days he’s not sure he’s up to the task.

When he and Dylan meet Kristen, Reed downplays his nephew’s crush on the author. But as their lives become unexpectedly intertwined, he finds himself captivated as well. Trouble is, she sells stories for a living. Does she truly care about Dylan…and Reed, or is she using them for her own career advancement?

The book is part of The Wild Rose Press Sweetheart Line and will also be for sale in paperback. Order yours today, and be prepared to complete your summer reading with a smile! 🙂

Until then, happy reading to all!

Darlene

Order at Amazon

Order at BarnesandNoble

Order at Apple Books

Ta-dah! A shiny new cover!

After a couple of years of writing, revising, editing, querying, and editing some more, my contemporary romance The Story Between Us is inching its way into the world! Today, I’m excited to release the cover. The book will be published later this summer or early fall by The Wild Rose Press for its Sweetheart line.

SBU_reveal2

 
When a children’s book author gets a story idea from a young fan who’s lost his parents in a tragic accident, she knows she’s hit gold. She sees a bestseller and heartwarming keepsake. But the boy’s guardian sees exploitation.
Stay tuned for release date!
Happy reading to all!
Darlene

In Review: a Decade of New Direction

Wow! What a decade!

As I pondered a New Year’s post last night, it occurred to me that my entire career as a fiction writer has happened in this decade. My first novel, Unexpected Legacy, hit the market in January 2013. For me, the decade began in flux as I left a 21-year corporate position that, over the years, included a combination of writing and art direction.

It took a while, but I finally decided to try my hand at fiction and put on paper a few story ideas that had been bouncing around in my head for several years. I spent the first couple of years of the 2010s learning the craft of fiction writing, working with other aspiring authors, attending writing groups and conferences, and attempting to understand the publishing industry, which for the entire decade has been in a state of change. Have to say, it’s been a challenge to bull’s eye a moving target!

IMG_6646Happily, I’m ending the decade with seven published books, an essay in an anthology, a new romance in the queue with The Wild Rose Press publishing house, and works in progress that include a women’s fiction story, a general romance, and a Christmas romance.

Though the decade has had its challenging moments, I learned a lot about marketing and social media, and I met some fabulous people! Here’s a shout out to all the industry professionals, especially librarians and bookstore staff, who value and help promote local authors and reader events. Another shout out to the authors, both struggling and on the bestseller lists, who take time to make connections with other authors, to lend a hand (or a Facebook share) to help others succeed.

In 2020, I’m hoping to become a hybrid author – with books published both through the independent route and also the traditional track. I hope for time – time to write all the words and finish works in progress. And I hope for new opportunities and meaningful connections.

On a personal level, it was also a momentous decade. Both kids graduated from college – one also earning an advanced degree. Both are employed in their chosen fields and pretty much paying their own way in the world. They’re happy and healthy, and I feel I can take a mother’s proud bow for a job well done! 🙂

I’m imagining the next ten years will be some of the most exciting years yet – bringing perhaps weddings and grandchildren and more completed and published books! Goals, as usual, include spending quality time with family and friends, a little traveling, and reading more books.

Wishing all my friends, fans and followers peace, good health, and the happiest of new years!

Darlene

What are your hopes or goals as we head into the 2020s?