28 February, 2013

#SpecialFeature :: #Author and Character #Interview


Now Presenting:
*** SPECIAL FEATURE - February'13 ***

So far on Special Feature February:
1st February : Introducing Libby Floyd

Now its time for an interview with Ms.Floyd

Why did you want to become a writer?
I don’t think it was a matter of wanting to be a writer, I really think that I had no other choice but to become a writer because it was just in me to become one. Even as a child, I had so many stories, song lyrics and poems bursting out of me, that I had to put my words and thoughts on paper. It was my destiny to become a writer, a need that I had within myself. 

What inspires your writing?
So many things inspire my writing… people that I meet, places that I go and real life experiences are all reflected in my novels.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Just when she thought she’d lost her sparkle, something delicious comes along.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Steel Magnolias, Sex and the City and How Stella Got her Groove back.

What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
That Sparkelicious isn’t just a love story, but a story about a family that supports each other and sticks together through thick and thin.

Does Laney Montgomery or any other character mirror any of your personal quirks? 
I’m a work-a-holic and so is Laney and we both have put our career first instead of our family at times and we both need to learn to smell the roses a little more often.

What are some of your favorite locales, objects, or activities that a reader might find in your books?
I love L.A. and lived there years ago so I set part of the book there. I used to take long walks in the Hollywood Hills and also along the beach in Santa Monica so Laney, of course, enjoys her long walks as well. Some of my other favorite L.A. locales that I mention in the book are Mr. Chow in Beverly Hills, the famous Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel and Casa Del Mar in Santa Monica. I set the other half of the book in my hometown of Greenville, S.C., so Laney finds herself at one of my favorite dining spots, The Lazy Goat on several occasions. Much of the action happens there. It’s a cool restaurant that I fell in love with on one of my trips home.

If you were casting a movie for Sparkelicious, who would you cast?
Reese Witherspoon or Rachel McAdams as Laney. Jennifer Aniston or Busy Phillips as Bridgett, Faye Dunaway, Dolly Parton or Jane Fonda as Sophie, Laura Linney as Missy, Stephen Collins as the Senator and Henry Cavill would play Matt.

What are you working on right now?
I’m working on two books at the moment. One is called Prime Time Divas about the home shopping industry and the other is called Lake Hollywood about a talent agent in L.A. who finds love in a unique way.

If you could tell one thing to your readers what would it be?
That the story will take them on an exciting and maybe unexpected adventure.

Now lets meet Laney Montgomery

 

What three words would you use to describe yourself?
Ambitious, kind and good hearted.

How do you relax in your free time?
I take long walks in the Hollywood Hills and on the beach in Santa Monica.

Top 3 things from your bucket list!
I don’t want to give the story away, so you’ll have to read the book!

What kind of music do you like? Your favorite band?
I was a huge fan of Adam Lambert’s when he was on American Idol so I love his music and I also love jazz… Diana Krall and Norah Jones.

Who is your Celebrity crush?
Since I live in Hollywood and work with so many stars, and have several neighbors who are in the biz, I don’t really have any crushes. Most of them are my friends.

If you could choose to become a Superhero – who would want to be like? 
Wonderwoman… she was sexy, strong and powerful.

One mistake that you will never repeat.
I think you learn from your mistakes, but I would have to say that I need to learn to not take people at face value.

What can the readers learn from your story?
That every family has its flaws, that no one is perfect and if you get knocked down, you have to get back up again!

Personally, I am hoping for Rachel McAdams as Laney Montgomerry! What about you guys? Those of you who have already read the, who would you cast as Laney?


Stalk the Author

Giveaway
Ms.Floyd has kindly offered to giveaway three copies of her book 'Sparkelicious'! Its open to US Residents only. So what are you waiting for? Just one day left... Go enter the rafflecopter below and try your luck!!

The Winners are:
Amanda Ray
Jo Micheals
DelSheree Gladden

27 February, 2013

#BookReview :: Only In Her Dreams (The Oneiroi #1) by Christina McKnight

When Lucessa Sarcona awakes from a recurring dream, she has no idea her life is about to be turned upside down. A stranger, familiar to her dreams, shows up in the flesh, and Lucessa knows she’s either crazy or experiencing something not of this world.

A war ensues between three demigod brothers. One, trained to rule Erebos, is violently replaced. One forced to return to his homeland and lead the dream-gods of the Oneiroi. And one is charged with the impossible task of protecting Lucessa. How is she linked to the Oneiroi? Why do two brothers seek to keep her hidden and protected? And how does another plan to use her against the two demigods who love her?

Will Lucessa’s dream man have the courage to claim her as his own or will he bow to the command of another, forsaking the one he loves?

Only in Her Dreams is a modern spin on a Greek legend--the new direction of Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance, moving from angels, demons, vampires, and witches and toward the realm of demigods.



After years of therapy, Lucessa Sarcona, is finally dealing with her loss and moving on with life. With one small exception of a recurring dream about the same man for over two decades, her life is almost normal. That is until the man of her dreams literally walks into her life. Maxim’s appearance in her life makes Lucessa question her sanity at first, but pretty soon she learns to take things in her stride. For instance, her link to the world of Oneiroi, the identity of her father and the truth about her husband! Really this story has twists waiting for you at every corner.

Granted that she can frustrate you, but the character of Lucessa is really strong and loveable. The things she has had to experience in life aren’t all rosy, yet she is quick to ‘believe’ and take things into her stride. While her behavior towards Greg and Maxim are conflicting, as a reader it was pretty easy to feel her insecurities and quirks and actually understand her. Maxim is strong and honorable and Greg is just plain creepy. While Lucessa’s character was well developed, I felt that the demi-gods had more ‘humanity’ in them than godly characteristics. I really felt that the ‘x-factor’ was missing in the demi-gods.

As a plot, ‘Only in her Dreams’ is good with the potential of being amazing. It’s a whole new world out there at Oneirei, one that I find intriguing and would love to explore more of. The author’s general language is easy going and the pace of the story is set after the first few chapters. The elements of Love, Loss and Sacrifice have been blended well into the plot. While I enjoying reading a book with more than POV, this book zipped back and forth between different POVs a bit too much. But the number of amazing twists simple makes up for it. The letdown was the climax which wasn’t all what the story was building up to.



Buy the Book

26 February, 2013

#Bookreview :: The Watcher by James Howe



A mysterious girl sits on top of the steps overlooking the beach, occasionally recording her observations in a notebook, as she watches a boy and a lifeguard and makes up heroic stories about their lives.











This is indeed one of those books where even while reading it for the first time, you know that you are missing out on something. So, even though I had finished reading this book long time back, but I waited for some time to read it a second time before sitting down to write this review.

At a glance, this is a story of three young people – Chris, Evan & Margaret. Chris has a past with a loss that he is yet to come terms with and works as a lifeguard at the beach. Evan is a young teenager who feels the weight of the world as his parents’ relationship changes. Margaret brings the other character together with her watchful nature and vivid imagination. Every day she watches the people at the beach and incorporates them into her own story in the way she perceives each of them. For instance, Chris is an angel because he ‘saves’ people and Evan is the protector because of the way he is protective and possessive about his sister. But, Margaret has a secret of her own.

When I first got the book and read through the summary, I felt that this would be one of those books that would cast a creepy girl as the protagonist. But this book is so much more than what comes off from the summary.  Though Margaret plays the title role of the ‘watcher’, each and every character portrayed has a special role/place in the story. Without them the story would never be the same. The way the author has portrayed the simple-innocent mind of the youth and their take on the complications around them is simply amazing. The emotions and psyche of each character captures gave an insight that is rarely captured in such a raw style.

In addition to the plot, the author has narrated the story in a fast pace, giving the reader no time to come up for air. The smooth flow of words used only compliment the plot. This is a fast read but maybe not so ‘light’. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and will be added to the list of books that I can go back and read again.



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25 February, 2013

#BookReview :: Christmas is Cancelled by Aurelia B Rowl

Matilda 'Tilly' Carter didn't think her day could get any worse, but even Christmas had just been cancelled.

The one girl Dean Watson has sworn never to have—never even expected to see again—just flared back into his life and into his home—his sanctuary—like she belonged there. Christmas would certainly be more bearable with Tilly around though…

As the chinks in Dean's armor appear, Tilly seizes the chance to win her knight once and for all. She's not about to take no for answer—not this time—but Dean must resist, even as his heart rebels and temptation threatens to undermine his resolve.

Win or lose? Love or honor? Which will Dean choose? Assuming he gets a choice…



We meet Matilda Carter on the day when she has just lost everything – her job, her home, her friend and her boyfriend – all in one day. That’s what happens when you are dating your boss and catch him cheating on you with your friend. Then she at the train station on the way to visit her brother only to bump into the one man she has always loved but been rejected by! Oh and did I tell you that these all happen on Christmas eve? With nowhere to go to and no one else to turn to ‘Tilly’ accepts Dean’s offer to let her stay at his place. When these two people finally meet again after years, sparks fly and emotions are all over the place. Tilly knows that there was never anyone else for her, but why did Dean leave? Dean on the other hand is caught between his heart and his promise – which will win out in the end?

The plot is plain and simple at a glance. But as it progresses it takes a few unexpected turns revealing a mystery. As for the characters, Dean is a handsome man with sense of honour and a caring heart. Matilda, is a strong and spirited woman who has had to deal with her share of ups and downs. Another character that you will not help but notice is Tilly’s brother Phil. There is something about him that made me want to get to know him better. But it is the dynamic of Dean and Tilly’s relationship that carries the book through. Totally in love with each other yet not being able to put it out on the table has them blowing hot-and-cold against each other.

This romance with a hint of mystery in it, but the author has maintained the plot as a romance novel should – focusing on the elements of the relationship of the protagonist. Her style of writing is fluid and easygoing. I am one of those people who always likes to know more and in this case since the author has provided just enough details for this story, but I wish I could know a bit more about both Dean, Tilly and certainly a lot more about Phil. But I am guessing that there’s going to be a different book about Phil (atleast I certainly am hoping for it) and I have to wait and watch out for it.

Overall, it was a fast, light and enjoyable read that I finished in one sitting. 




23 February, 2013

#BookReview :: The Artist of Disappearance by Anita Desai



A triptych of beautifully crafted novellas make up Anita Desai’s exquisite new book. Set in modern India, but where history still casts a long shadow, the stories move beyond the cities to places still haunted by the past, and to characters who are, each in their own way, masters of self-effacement. 
    
Rich and evocative, remarkable in their clarity and sensuous in their telling, these stories remind us of the extraordinary yet delicate power of this pre-eminent writer.


The Artist of Disappearance is a collection of three very different yet very similar novellas.

The first, The Museum of Final Journeys, narrates a story of a Civil Service Officer who started his career from a post in a remote district of the country. It was perhaps not the most glamorous post that one could hope for but it certainly presented him with a rare opportunity. The second story, Translator Translated, narrates the story of a very dainty English school teacher whose life in general wouldn’t have the makings of an extraordinary story hadn’t it been for her job of translating the works of an obscure author she actually admired. The third and the title story, The Artist of Disappearance, narrates the story of a recluse who had been adopted by a set of very negligent parents and finds his friends and solace in nature.

As usual, these tales were of common man, from very ordinary background. As Anita Desai usually does, she’s taken these ordinary people and turned them into extraordinary with simply her words and her style of storytelling.

What could a Civil Servant Officer, an English teacher and a recluse in the Himalaya possibly have in common? Nothing! Or, maybe just about everything. There’s a thread that connects all the three very different stories and their protagonists. Anita Desai, elegant style of writing is once again reflected in these prose pieces that are so exotic and yet so simple at the same time. It is the way she has portrayed the factor of ‘loss’ in a person’s life that is just so remarkable. These three stories tell you a tale of loss that actually leaves you with a ray of hope in life and that is something that I would have never thought was possible.

Every time I read one of her works, I am left with the realization that there are so many ways to see the same thing and with a feeling of awe!


To find out more about Anita Desai & her books - Click Here

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22 February, 2013

#SpecialFeature :: Guest Post by Libby Floyd


Now Presenting:
*** SPECIAL FEATURE - February'13 ***

From National Television to Books: How my favorite television catch phrase, ‘Sparkelicious’ became the title of my new novel.

Most of you will probably know me from television, cooking with Bobby Flay on The Food Network or as a prime time host for ShopNBC and Shop At Home, presenting Sparkelicious jewelry on your tube in your living rooms. However, by day, I’ve been busy cranking out novels on my laptop for the last fifteen years. 

In 2005, when I moved to Minnesota for my hosting gig for ShopNBC, I found the freezing cold winters difficult to deal with, so my writing became my only escape and I found that it was the only thing that I wanted to do. It was in my blood. I was obsessed, writing about five to eight hours a day before I went live on TV. My passion for writing had been my little secret for so many years but now I’m happy to say that Sparkelicious has finally been born after three years of dedication and hard work. The Minnesota winters have finally served me well!

The story is set in my charming hometown of Greenville, S.C. and my spiritual home of Los Angeles -- fashion designer Laney Montgomery at a crossroads in her life on the heels of turning 40. On a much-needed vacation back home to South Carolina to visit her family, Laney realizes that her family is in disarray but while trying to fix them, Laney learns that her own marriage is in serious trouble back in California and her fashion business is on the verge of collapse. The affections of a handsome younger man don’t help matters either as Laney must fix everyone else before she can find true happiness for herself.

My love for writing began as teenager. To me, it was a natural progression; first poetry, then original country/pop songs, which I performed with my band in Los Angeles and Nashville, and then short stories. I soon found myself immersed in writing novels. While in college at The University of South Carolina, where I majored in Fashion Merchandising, I published an award-winning book of poetry called A Winning Heart, which led to me becoming the youngest nominee for Poet Laureate of South Carolina. Also, while living in L.A. and working as a talent agent by day for Wilhelmina Models and singing at night, I wrote a parental guide called Calling All Kids, for parents who were interested in getting their children into modeling and acting in Hollywood. It sold in several children’s magazines and bookstores. 

SPARKELICIOUS is my first novel. It was inspired by one of my trip’s back home to South Carolina. After moving away to New York and then L.A. after college graduation, I returned after several years to discover the sleepy little Southern town of Greenville was now vibrant and alive. I also found that I’d missed so many family events and still hadn’t come to term with my father’s death. He died in 2000 from cancer and this particular trip home was closure for me. I had also missed the Southern charm and humor of the South. When you read my book, you’ll find my fictional characters to be colorful and real. And, after living in L.A. for so many years, I had to relive my life there, so I decided to capture the glamour of Hollywood. My novel showcases several famous locales and venues in my old stomping ground. And of course, Sparkelicious hits on the touchy subject of age and turning 40, which most women find devastating, especially in Hollywood. However, I decided to explore ageism in a positive and uplifting light through Laney Montgomery’s character, who finds that it’s never too late to fall in love with your true passion and your true love. I think that life can be, truly, Sparkelicious!

Previous Features
8th February :: Guest Post & Excerpt

Stalk the Author

Buy the Book

Giveaway
Ms.Floyd has kindly offered to giveaway three copies of her book 'Sparkelicious'! Its open to US Residents only. So what are you waiting for? Go enter the rafflecopter below and try your luck!!

The Winners are:
Amanda Ray
Jo Micheals
DelSheree Gladden

21 February, 2013

#Spotlight & #Giveaway :: Harmony Run Series by Sarah Elle Emm


Rare glimpses of birds are the only reminder of the freedoms Rain Hawkins once had. Now segregated into a mixed-race zone within the United Zones of the Authority, under tyrannical rule of President Nicks, Rain is forced to endure the bleak conditions set upon her. The possibility of a way out arises when Rain discovers an organized resistance called The Freedom Front, and learns that she, along with many other multi-racial people, has special abilities. Determined to overcome her situation, Rain sets out on a mission with the resistance that will fill her life with wonder, romance, and the undying hope for a better world.





Prismatic Book Trailer

Still enslaved in a mixed-race zone within the United Zones of the Authority, Rain Hawkins is part of a secret resistance preparing to take on the tyrannical President Nicks before plans to kill the mixed zones across UZTA are executed. When unsettling dreams and a mysterious voice begin to haunt the dark nights, Rain fears someone more powerful than she has discovered the resistance and their secret abilities. With a known Authority spy on her heels, and her boyfriend, Jabari, suddenly acting strange, Rain doesn’t know who to trust and if the voices calling to her are friend or foe. As conditions across all of the zones get worse and the stakes rise, Rain embarks on a quest for answers that will put the people she cares about most in more danger or take them one step closer to the truth and their eventual freedom.


Facts about Opalescent

Opalescent is the sequel to Prismatic and is part of the Harmony Run Series, a four-part young-adult fantasy series published by Winter Goose Publishing.
The star of the series, seventeen year old Rain, is still trying to keep her boyfriend, Jabari, a secret from her mom.
In addition to the teenagers in The Freedom Front, (the secret resistance trying to organize against the tyrannical ruler,) there are plenty of NEW characters in book two!  I can't wait for readers to meet some of them...especially Bhavna...and Aleela...and...Oh, wait a second!  I can't reveal everything here!
Opalescent is a bit 'heavier' than Prismatic...Hhmm, I think I will leave it at that. ;-)
Since, I don't want to spoil the story for any potential readers, I think I'll just stop sharing fun facts.  I can say that during the writing of Opalescent, I relied on my chocolate and coffee addictions to help me stay on task late at night!  


About the Author
Sarah Elle Emm is the author of PRISMATIC, book one of the Young-adult fantasy, HARMONY RUN SERIES, released in May 2012 by Winter Goose Publishing. OPALESCENT, the sequel to PRISMATIC, is set for release in February 2013. Her debut fiction novel, MARRYING MISSY, was published by Bird Brain Publishing in October 2011.  Sarah is a graduate of The University of Evansville, she has lived and worked in Mexico, Germany, England, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and has traveled extensively beyond. Her love of journal writing, travel, and multicultural experience have all influenced her novels.  Sarah lives in Florida with her Chef husband and their angelic children. When she's not walking the plank on her daughters' imaginary pirate ship, she is working on her latest book.  (Sometimes, this involves hiding under her dining room table with a notebook and pen.)  Sarah shares personal stories at her blogs.

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Giveaway
Ms.Sarah Elle Emm has kindly offered to Giveaway 2 lucky winners a combo of Digital Copy of Prismatic & a Paperback copy of Opalescent! Enter in the Rafflecopter below!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

20 February, 2013

Young Adult Paranormal Hop





Young Adult Paranormal Giveaway Hop
February 21st - 27th
Co - hosted by YA Between the Lines


Featuring Young Adult Books with Paranormal elements.

I will be giving away 2 kindle copies to 1 winner.
The winner can choose 2 out of the following 3 Books. 



Where there is love and power, there is always... betrayal.


At seventeen, Cordelia is an ordinary teen with an extraordinary and frightening secret. A secret that induces vivid dreams which she not only experiences true love, but crippling fear while barely escaping with her life each night.

After a life altering event, Cordelia has an unexpected encounter with Evan, the mysterious boy from her dreams, who reveals who and what she is, a descendant of the Greek gods. At that moment everything she knows of her world is a lie, and she must leave the present and go into the past to assume the role she was put on this earth for, safeguarding her ancient empire amidst evil forces that toil hastily to destroy it. 

In a race against time, Cordelia must decide if she is truly a part of this dangerous world, or risk defying the gods, and ultimately lose the boy who has put a claim on her heart.

Betrayal is the debut novel by Mayandree Michel. She is currently hard at work on the second installment of the Descendants series. 


They call their abilities Talents, and that’s what they call themselves as well. Talents are people born with supernatural powers, feared by the population at large. Possession of an “unregistered ability” has become illegal, and those who are discovered are forcibly removed to government-run research facilities. For Talents, keeping their secret is the most important thing in their lives. For some, that need for secrecy begins to define who they are.

That’s how it is for Joss, a high school girl who does everything in her power to go unnoticed. She's incredibly bright, but strives to maintain grades that are good yet not too good. She doesn't participate in school activities, keeps quiet in class, eats by herself. Despite her longtime crush on Dylan, she wouldn't even think about trying to talk to him. Joss doesn't make friends of any kind, because friends can draw attention, friends can make you slip up, friends can make things complicated.

When new girl, Kat, steps in to rescue Joss from an uncomfortable situation with Marco, the class jerk, she doesn’t realize what she’s getting into, and it blows up in her face. Joss finds herself torn between a desire to do the right thing, to find some way to help a girl who was kind to her; and her need to mind her own business and fade into. For the first time, Joss begins to question the way she operates, and starts to long for connections with other people--especially a connection with Dylan, who's finally starting to talk to her.

But what's up with Dylan's sudden interest? As Marco’s best friend, can he be trusted at all?

It's bad enough when a girl's got to worry about friends, boys, over-protective dads, and shoes that pinch, but when you throw in blackmail, government agents with guns, and really annoying little sisters...that's just about too much to handle, even for a girl with an ass-kicking superpower.


FBI agent and psychic, Brianna Reece, descends from an ancient and powerful bloodline of witches, only she doesn’t know it. But now that legacy has come back to bite her—literally.

In the shadows of night in Denver Colorado, a serial killer is hunting women, and FBI agent Brianna Reece is hunting the killer. Unlike any case she’s worked before, Brianna can’t ignore the prickling at the back of her neck when she glimpses the resemblance she shares with the victims. The investigation begins to touch even closer to home when it is revealed that all of the victims were also psychic.

Complicating matters further, Brianna is captivated by the FBI’s prime suspect Nathan Donovan. Though she senses he is hiding something from her, the attraction she feels for him is compelling, and unlike anything she’s ever experienced. Through a chance twist of fate, Nathan learns of Brianna’s ancestry and is forced to divulge secrets to Brianna that will change her life forever.

When she learns that the killer is an evil vampire, and he’s now set his sights on her, Nathan alone holds the key to awakening her dormant powers. Now he must race to teach her how to control her emergent gifts before she becomes the next victim.

Enter the rafflecopter below for your chance to win!


The Winner is:
Linda H


Done? Well, now hop onto the other participating blogs:

#Interview & #Giveaway :: Scent of Triumph by Jan Moran


Scent of Triumph is the story of Danielle Bretancourt, a talented young French perfumer with a flair for fashion and a natural olfactory gift. In the language of perfumery, she is a Nose, with the rare ability to recognize thousands of essences by memory. The story opens on the day England declares war on Germany, and Danielle and her family are caught in the midst of a raging disaster sweeping across Europe. 

Her life takes a tragic turn when her husband and son are lost behind enemy lines. She spies for the French resistance, determined to find them, but is forced to flee Europe with fragments of her family. Destitute, she mines her talents to create a magnificent perfume that captures the hearts of Hollywood's top stars, then gambles again to win wealth and success as a couturier. Her intelligence and flair attracts the adoration of Jonathan Newell-Grey, of England's top shipping conglomerate, and Cameron Murphy, Hollywood's most charismatic star.

Danielle charts her course through devastating wartime losses and revenge; lustful lovers and loveless marriages; and valiant struggles to reunite her family. Set between privileged lifestyles and gritty realities, here is one woman's story of courage, spirit, and resilience.




Interview with the Author

Why did you want to become a writer?
As a child, I was an avid reader. Writers were my rock stars!  Books were my passport to exotic locales and fascinating characters.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Set between privileged lifestyles and gritty realities, Scent of Triumph is one woman’s story of courage, spirit, and resilience.

What was the inspiration behind Scent of Triumph?
Scent of Triumph was initially inspired by my love of perfumery, but the main character quickly took charge and began building a business, despite her many setbacks. I was inspired by female entrepreneurs from the early part of the twentieth century, such as Elizabeth Arden, Coco Chanel, Madame Gres, Nina Ricci, Estee Lauder, Eleanor Roosevelt, and many others in the beauty and fashion industries. Family is also vitally important in this story; Danielle’s love and devotion to her children is really the root of her ambition, as it is with many female entrepreneurs who wish to create a better life for themselves and their children. She is an ordinary woman, who achieves extraordinary things. Like any one of us can.

What can modern women learn from your protagonist, Danielle Bretancourt?
The story of Danielle Bretancourt is really the story of a woman’s journey on the entrepreneur’s path. It’s a story of creativity and innovation, and of courage of convictions. Since the story begins in 1939, I had to understand the challenges that faced women at that time, such as the lack of credit or borrowing power for women who wanted to start their own business, among others. While opportunities have improved for women around the world, there are still so many women who suffer from inequalities, lack of knowledge, poor access to capital, and cultural oppression.
For this story, I drew on memories from my mother, grandmother, and great grandmother – their memories of joy over gaining the right to vote, owning property in their name, and creating their own income. The challenges they faced and overcame inspired me to become an entrepreneur, and to help spread the word today about women’s entrepreneurial efforts as a positive economic force for change.

We love the romantic aspect of Scent of Triumph, so tell us, what is your favorite romantic scent?
When I was writing Scent of Triumph, I created a cast of characters and imagined, what fragrances they would wear? How would perfume add to their characterization? What would their choices reveal about them? I used fragrances to reveal a character’s personality, heritage, or psychological nature. For example, Tabac Blond, and Jicky were considered fairly avant-garde in the first part of the twentieth century, so I gave these fabulous vintage scents to two of the more extravagant characters in the books. Personally, I adore Mitsouko, so this one has a special passage in the book, too.

Where can we buy it at?
Scent of Triumph is now available on Amazon sites around the world in paperback and on Kindle. It’s also available at Barnes and Noble, and on www.bn.com for print and Nook. Ebooks are available for Kobo, Sony Reader, iPad, and other EPUB readers. Many other online booksellers offer it, and don’t forget to ask your independent bookstores to order it for you, too.

What are some of your favorite locales, objects, or activities that a reader might find in your books?
I often include my favorite locales. Paris, New York, Grasse, London, Hong Kong, and California are among my favorite places that I like to write about, and perfumery and fashion are twin passions. I’m also a strong advocate of the entrepreneurial path, especially for women.

If you were casting a movie for Scent of Triumph, who would you cast?
It’s open to interpretation, but here’s a start:
Danielle Bretancourt: Keira Knightley, Audrey Tatou, Emma Stone
Jonathan Newell-Grey: Chris Hemsworth
Max von Hoffman: Jude Law
Cameron Murphy:  Ryan Gosling, Ryan Reynolds
Marie Bretancourt:  Meryl Streep, Juliette Binoche
Erica Evans: Penelope Cruz, Salma Hayek
  
Who are your favorite authors and books?
A Woman of Substance by Barbara Taylor Bradford was an early inspiration. Also love Shanghai Girls by Lisa See and The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory. And who can forget Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, or War and Peace—the best Russian soap opera ever!

Is there a message you want readers to take from your books?
Hope, triumph over adversity, appreciation of other cultures, belief in your own abilities.

What can you tell us about your next book?
My next book is called Hostile Beauty. It’s well underway, and I’m really excited about it. Having a great deal of fun with it, creating lots of smart, stylish, sexy women. Can’t wait to share more soon!

Read an Excerpt: 


29




Merci, Danielle,” the young woman said with a smile as Danielle placed an armload of fragrant white lilies next to the blush pink roses she had already chosen. “You always choose my best flowers.”
Danielle winked at her friend, the owner of the Flower Pot in Beverly Hills. “And you always have the best flowers in town, Mimi. Especially this spring.”
Mais oui! It’s a good season. Are these for a special occasion or party?”
“These are just for me. You know I can’t resist walking past your beautiful flowers.” Danielle buried her nose in the bouquet of roses that Mimi had already wrapped in newspaper. “I feel so much better when my home is full of flowers. Their perfume always lifts my spirits.”
“Mine, too. That reminds me, my brother just sent some potted gardenias from the farm. They’re full of buds and would be perfect for the windows in your boudoir. Did you see them? They’re in the front of the shop.”
“I’ll take a look.” Danielle meandered through a brilliant maze of cut flowers, charming topiaries, and magnificent floral arrangements. She loved the scents that swirled through the air, and they really did lift her spirits.
After she had committed Cameron to the sanitarium for his alcohol and drug addictions, she tried to banish the turmoil that had been in their home. Not only had his behavior affected her, but it had also disturbed Liliana, Jasmin, and Marie. Once he was gone, she had asked a friend, who was an interior designer, to make subtle changes throughout their home using an ancient Chinese design theory called feng shui, which they all found calming and healing. The sound of waterfalls and the aroma of flowers had helped restore balance and happiness to their home, and reminded her of her uncle’s flower fields in Grasse. Since then, Danielle managed to find time in her busy schedule to shop for fresh bouquets every week, and she felt better than she had in years.
She drank in the heady aromas wafting through the air, closing her eyes from time to time as she leaned into an exotic flower or plant to breathe in its scent. I could almost be in Grasse, she thought.
She loved her friend’s shop, in fact, she had helped Mimi and her brother start their business with a small investment. They were from the Provence region of France, and while Mimi ran the retail shop, her brother oversaw their farm in a valley north of Los Angeles where they grew the flowers and plants.
The shop was busy this Saturday morning in May, bustling with people in their casual weekend clothes enjoying the warm spring weather. Danielle folded up the long sleeves on her white cotton shirt, and as sunshine streamed through the front windows, she pulled her dark sunglasses from their casual perch atop her head, shielding her eyes against the bright glare. She spied the gardenias and made her way to them.
She rubbed the glossy green leaves, touched the moist earth in the pot, and let her fingers trail along a fresh white flower bursting from a tightly swirled bud. Instinctively, she sniffed her fingers.
Perhaps I’ll capture this aroma, she thought to herself, smiling. Cool greens combined with sweet gardenia, the moist earth, the warmth of the sun—it would be perfect for this season. Maybe a new line of garden-inspired perfumes—
“Danielle?”
She squeezed her eyes shut, her fingers still hovering beneath her nose. Am I hearing things? She heard someone call her name. And not just anyone, but it sounded just like— And that scent...the patchouli, the hint of rose...it was Spanish Leather and the scent of his warm skin...oh, mon Dieu! She felt a hand on her shoulder, and felt a shiver of remembrance course through her.
“Danielle.”
Slowly she swung around. The shop seemed to fall away, and she felt suspended in the moment. She pushed her sunglasses up on her head and blinked, staring at the handsome man who stood before her. “Jon?
“It must be kismet.” A wondrous smile spread across his face. “I stopped to buy flowers for Abigail, and I thought I saw you through the window.” He ran his hand down her shoulder and caught her hand, drawing her to him, intensifying the delicious scent of him in her nose.
“I can’t believe it, what brings you here?” She felt her heart beating wildly, and was certain he could see it beneath her blouse.
“We have a ship going out on the Pacific from Long Beach. I didn’t have much notice, what with security and all. So I thought I’d surprise Abigail.”
Danielle laughed nervously. “Oh, you would have. But she’s not here. She’s in San Francisco with Lou. He has a film shooting on location there.”
He ran a hand through his thick hair, releasing a faint scent of the sea. “Ah, once again, I should have called ahead.”
He smiled wistfully at her, his warm eyes crinkling at the corners. She noticed his face was leaner than before, but his chest was broad, and he looked more muscular. He’s even more magnificent than I remembered.
“Then our meeting really is kismet,” he murmured. His voice sounded low and gentle, yet charged with emotion and strength. “You look so different, Danielle, you’ve bloomed, just like these flowers. How many years has it been since that day outside of your apartment?”
Danielle felt her face flush, and moistened her lips to speak, but at that moment, Mimi bustled toward them.
“Did you find the gardenias?” Mimi paused and tilted her head. “Ah, I see you’ve found a friend instead. Who is this?” she asked with a curious smile.
“Jon is an old friend, and Abigail’s brother.”
“I am so very pleased to meet you,” she said, her eyes darting between Danielle and Jon. “Danielle, I have your flowers ready. Did you want the gardenias, too?”
“Oh yes, of course. I’ll take two of these.”
“Let me help you,” Jon said. “Which ones do you want?”
Reining in her emotions, Danielle pointed to two lush plants, and Jon swept them up in his arms. “What else do you have?”
Mimi gestured to the counter. “She has quite a few roses and lilies.” She glanced at Danielle and added, “How nice that you ran into Jon.”
“Yes, what luck,” Jon said with broad smile as they wound through the shop.
Danielle felt her pulse quicken, and yet, she marveled at how easily they fell into step together. It had been three, no, almost four years since they’d seen one another. Before Cameron, she thought with a jolt.
Jon paid for the flowers and scooped them into his arms. Laughing, Danielle said, “Here, I can manage the lilies.”
“How far do we have to go with these?”
“I’m parked in the back, follow me.” As he held the door for her, she glanced over her shoulder, and noticed his gaze lingering on her body, then he met her eyes.
“Nice flowers,” he said with grin.
She laughed nervously and shook her head. “I’m in the Delahaye.”
Jon walked to the car and let out a low whistle. “What a beauty—the car, too,” he added, looking appraisingly at Danielle.
“Jon, you’re being naughty. And I’m supposed to be mad at you.” She unlocked the doors.
“At me? Why?”
“Well, why shouldn’t I be? You show up again, with no notice at all.”
“Danielle, let’s not waste time on the past.” Taking the keys from her, he opened the trunk and placed the flowers inside. He drew a deep breath. “I didn’t call you, or anyone, because I didn’t know how much time I would have. As it is, I only have a few hours, and I don’t know when I’ll return.” A serious look shadowed his face for an instant. He took her hands in his. “But I’m here now, and it’s a beautiful day. May we enjoy it together?”
She smiled up at him. “Come with me to the house. My mother and the girls are visiting friends in San Diego. And you know where Cameron is. I wrote to you about that.”
He nodded. “Is he any better?”
“He’s taking this opportunity to work on new songs, and is looking forward to coming home soon.” She paused, then sighed deeply. That had been her standard answer to the press for months. Why should I lie to Jon? “Actually, he was released from the sanitarium to work on his new album, but after just a month, he had a horrible relapse and returned. But let’s not talk about Cameron.” She flipped her sunglasses back on her nose. “Want to drive?”

Although Danielle lived less than a mile from the Flower Pot, at her direction they took the long way home so that he could enjoy the fine, sleek automobile. Jon drove south and turned east on Wilshire Boulevard, enjoying the feel of the car at his command. He’d been so busy, there had been few moments to truly enjoy life, especially with a woman he found so fascinating. In truth, there had never been anyone like Danielle in his life, not even Victoria.
Danielle. This was not the woman he’d left in France, not the woman he’d last seen in Los Angeles. Had he thought she would remain unchanged after all she’d endured?
He remembered the young woman he’d met on the Atlantic crossing before the war in thirty-nine, the waif-like creature she had been, even when she was pregnant, with large, luminous eyes in her pale face. He recalled the last time he’d seen her in Los Angeles, right after she’d married Cameron. Could he really blame her for that? She’d been so emotionally scarred and painfully poor when she’d first arrived in Los Angeles; he knew that now, but he hadn’t realized the extent of her suffering at the time. Though they’d corresponded some through the years, and he’d followed her hard work and remarkable accomplishments, still, her new image had startled him when he first saw her in the flower shop. Even in her casual white shirt and cotton pants, she was clearly an independent woman in charge of her destiny. She was so... He paused, searching for words. So sophisticated, so self-assured.
Turning onto La Cienega, he glanced at Danielle, hardly believing that she actually sat beside him this glorious sunny day. She lifted her hand to smooth her auburn hair.
He smiled to himself. Her every movement transfixed him; she was graceful and refined. She’d become a woman. An elegant woman. He turned onto Sunset Boulevard and they wound through the neighborhood.
“So you approve of my choice of car?”
He laughed. “What’s not to love?” He really meant her, not the car, but she seemed a little nervous since he’d mentioned Cameron, so he added, “I’ve always thought this was one of the most gorgeous cars ever built. I met René Dreyfus, the auto racer, not long after he won the Million Franc race in thirty-eight in his Delahaye.” He laughed. “What a great victory over the Nazis that was.”
“Among others,” she said with a world-weary smile.
“Rumors are still swirling in Europe about Hitler’s demise,” Jon added with a grimace. “There were so many different accounts in the press these past couple of weeks, but it’s now been established that he did himself in.”
“Good riddance. Turn here,” she said, indicating her street. “And here we are.” He eased the car into the driveway of the large red-bricked Tudor-styled home, and turned off the ignition.
“I’m so glad to see you, Jon,” she said, touching his hand.
As he curled his fingers around hers, and felt her slim fingers respond, a rush of desire coursed through him. “I’m glad I ran into you. I’d thought about calling you, many times, actually.” He leaned into her and casually kissed her cheek, marveling at the softness of her skin, and the fresh, subtle perfume that wafted about her hair and neck. She seemed a little flustered by his action, so he pulled back, and said, “Let’s put those flowers in some water, shall we?”
He got out of the car, opened her door for her, then gathered the flowers from the trunk. She led him to the side entry and into the kitchen.
Jon glanced around, taking in the comfortable surroundings, photographs of Danielle and the girls, potted palms, and fresh oranges on the kitchen table. “What a lovely home you have, Danielle. I’m glad, you deserve it. But are you happy here?”
“I have so much to be thankful for.” Danielle picked up a pair of scissors and began snipping the flower stems. “My family is together, my business is thriving.”
“That’s not what I asked.”
“I know what you meant.”
“We have just a few hours, Danielle.”
“I’m very aware of that.” Snip, snip. She tossed discarded leaves in the trash bin.
Jon watched her for a moment. She wore a pair of lean black cotton trousers and flat ballerina-style shoes. Her hair flowed around her shoulders, and her face was angled from him. “Are these the vases you’re using?”
She nodded.
“I’ll fill them with water.”
She nodded again.
“Danielle?” He touched her shoulder, and when she looked up at him, he could see that her brilliant green eyes glistened with tears, and it tore at his heart.
She brushed her eyes with her hand and waved him away. “I’m just being silly.”
“No, you’re not. Come here.” He wrapped his arms around her and felt her body slowly respond, relaxing into his. God, she feels so good.
“I should be happy, Jon. Except for Cameron, I really am, but I don’t have much time for myself anymore. This is a rare day....”
“You’re still a woman with feelings.” He tilted her chin up and looked into her eyes. “And I still have feelings for you, Danielle, I always have, from the first moment we met. I will never deny it, no matter what our circumstances might be. There was a time, right after Max died, when I should spoken up, told you how I felt, but I thought it was too soon for you. And then when I did...what a disaster. I’ve made so many mistakes with you.”
She laughed softy. “And now it’s too late for us. We’re both married.”
“It doesn’t change the way we feel about each other. I know what you don’t say in your letters. And I’ve always known that when I saw you again—”
“Shh,” she said, kissing him softly. Her lips were warm, her kiss gentle, and he felt his resolve melt under her tender touch. Then she pulled away, her hand lingering on his face. “Let’s just enjoy the day,” she said, as he turned into her hand, kissing her palm. “I have a bottle of champagne in the refrigerator.”
“I’ll get it,” he said, and kissed her lightly before he released her.
“I’ll get the flutes from the bar.”

Danielle left the kitchen and made her way through the living room. Pausing, she leaned against the bar and drew a hand across her face. She knew what she felt for Jon, she knew what she wanted, but wanting didn’t make it so. And yet, if there was one lesson learned in the past few years, it was to seize the moment and whatever joy might come your way. What if Jon never returned from the Pacific? The war was still raging there. How would she feel if she never saw him again?
How would she feel if she did?
Her attorney had already drawn up her divorce papers. But Jon was still married. And Victoria had a baby. And I shouldn’t be thinking this way.
She chose two tall flutes from the glass shelves behind the bar and went back to the kitchen.
Jon had opened the champagne and he poured two glasses. “To us,” he said.
They drank to the toast, then Jon helped her fill the vases with lilies and roses. Together they placed the arrangements throughout the house, with Jon listening as Danielle told him about her girls’ accomplishments in school, and Marie’s fortunate recovery. They talked about Abigail’s work with orphans, and Jon’s parents, but when they spoke about their postwar plans, Danielle noticed that Jon was vague, so she didn’t ask him about Victoria. What’s the point? she thought.
They returned to the kitchen, and had another glass of champagne along with some fruit and cheese that Danielle prepared, but neither of them were very hungry. Jon wanted to know everything about the way she lived there, and how her business was going. “I want to show you something,” she said, taking his hand and leading him into a room at the rear of the house. As she opened the door he said, “Wow, what’s that incredible smell?”
She smiled, pleased at his response. “This is where I work at home when inspiration strikes. My main laboratory is in my office building, not far from the Flower Pot, but I like to dabble here after everyone is asleep and I have time to think and imagine and create. It’s always been my private room.”
He peered in through the doorway. The room was tidy, but her creativity was evident. On one side sat a small perfumer’s organ, with neat rows of amber bottles, and across from it was a drafting table. A pair of comfortable brocade chairs, a stack of books, a potted palm, beautifully framed impressionist paintings, and a phonograph completed the comfortable room.
“What’s this?” Jon asked, motioning to an open sketch book on the drafting table.
“These are ideas for evening gowns for my winter collection,” she said, showing him her sketches, and touching a stack of jewel-toned fabric swatches as she spoke. She felt Jon’s eyes on her, and their fingers brushed as she showed him her drawings.
Jon asked several questions, and he seemed genuinely interested in everything she was doing, unlike Max or Cameron had been.
While they talked, she opened a set of French doors to the backyard, where a swimming pool sparkled in the sunlight, a waterfall cascaded with a pleasant rippling sound, and a soft breeze billowed the drapes of an open-air pool house.
Jon turned around, taking in the room. “You once described this room to me in a letter. It’s exactly the way I imagined it to be.” He moved toward the perfumery organ. “And this is where you blend your perfumes?”
“Many of them. Here’s one I’ve been working on.” She picked up a small amber bottle, opened it, dipped a slender white blotter strip into it, and held it up. “Tell me what you think.”
He took her wrist and guided the strip under his nose and closed his eyes, inhaling. “It’s fresh, very modern, smells like California in the summer.”
He has a good nose, she thought to herself, acutely aware of his hand on her wrist. “That’s California orange blossoms, and I added a fresh accord, reminiscent of the Pacific Ocean.”
“It’s spot on, Danielle.” He took the blotter strip from her, trailed it along her throat, and leaned closer to smell her neck. “A great perfumer once told me that it’s better to experience scent on skin.” He nuzzled her neck. “Remember when you told me that?”
Danielle let her head fall back, exposing her throat to him, and savoring the warmth of his touch. “It was in Grasse, after Jasmin was born. I was so glad you were there with me. I don’t know what I would have done without you.”
Jon slipped his hand under her hair and held her neck, his lips brushing hers as he spoke. “Do you remember the first time we kissed?”
“How could I have forgotten?” she murmured, tasting his lips with her tongue.
He picked up the perfume bottle, poured a small amount of perfume into his palm and, unbuttoning the top button of her shirt, pressed the fragrant oil into the skin on her chest between her breasts. A small moan escaped her lips as he bent to her, intent on experiencing the aroma as it emanated from the gentle curve of her breast, warmed by his touch.
He slipped another button free, trailing the perfume on her skin with his fingers, past her lace brassiere, and onto her firm, flat stomach, pausing to caress her skin with his nose and lips and fingertips.
His breath felt hot on her skin, she felt his pulse quicken as he held her, encircling her with his hands and arms, engulfing her in a passionate embrace.
At once he stopped and cradled her face in his hands, his eyes dark with desire, then he lifted her easily in his arms.
“Take me outside,” she whispered, and he stepped through the French doors. “To the cabaña,” she added, leaning against his chest and feeling the beating of his heart.
Jon carried her past the sailcloth curtains that lifted in the gentle breeze, and into a slate-floored room with sliding glass doors and a stone fireplace. He placed her on a marine blue, double-width chaise lounge, and Danielle lay with her hair fanned out beneath her. Jon propped himself up on one arm next to her and gazed at her. “You’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever known, Danielle. We’re meant to be together, you know that as well as I do.”
“I know, Jon, I know,” she murmured, pulling him close and unbuttoning his shirt. He stopped her, then finished the job and tossed his shirt to one side. He bent to kiss her and she met his lips again, gently, then more passionately, as their desire flamed against the cool spring breeze.
“I want to make love to you, Danielle, more than anything I’ve ever wanted to do. You are my heart, my soul, I love you, Danielle.”
She felt the warmth of his breath on her neck, as his words seeped into her soul, warming her to her core. A thought sprang from deep inside of her: I love this man...I always have. She ran her hands through his hair and pressed him toward her, then hesitated, checking her desire. She knew what she wanted, but should she?
He brushed his lips against hers and said softly, “Danielle, I once promised Max I would look after you. Will you let me?”
Jon’s words hung in the air as she met his intense gaze. “But there are others....”
“Who don’t have to figure in our future.”
Danielle sucked her breath in. Do I dare hope? “Until then, let’s just lay together, Jon, there’s no harm in that.”
The minutes turned into an hour, and then another, and they explored one another’s bodies as they lay together, whispering their desires and sharing their passion, and knowing that someday, somehow, they would share their lives. It would be so. As the sun set, Jon rose and started a fire in the fireplace, and Danielle lit citrus-scented candles. Jon brought the champagne and cheese and fruit from the house, and they laughed and drank and ate, then caressed another again, enjoying each other’s touch.
Finally, the champagne unleashed their inhibitions, and Danielle opened herself to Jon, who hesitated only for a moment before entering her with an ease and naturalness that surprised them both at first. They fell into rhythm with one another’s bodies, their scents mingled, merged, and exploded with passion, while their lovemaking soared on an arch of joy and intensity, and they knew no boundaries between them.
Danielle felt herself transported on wave after wave of pure joy, pure love, pure feelings. And this feels so right, she thought.
Satiated at last, Danielle gazed at Jon’s profile against the flickering fire, basking in the glow of their love. For the moment, she was simply happy, and felt closer to Jon than she’d ever been with another man. She smiled, and thought, I feel truly, deliciously loved. She knew he would be leaving soon, but rather than feeling sad, she felt that this day was a gift, a rare glimpse into the future, a snapshot of what could be. If only...she stopped herself, not daring to spoil their moment of pleasure with doubts or questions of the future.
The last thing she remembered was Jon covering her with a blanket and kissing her—kissing her face, her lips, her hair, and then she must have dozed off, for when she awoke, he was gone.



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