Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Meet Belle Ami. Author of Sexy International Romantic Suspense

Posted by Susan J Berger on 3:00:00 AM with No comments

Meet fast paced romantic suspense author Belle Ami. I read her novel Escape Here’s my review:
Escape is fast paced highly sexy romantic suspense set in Iran and Israel.
Cyrus Hassani is known in his world as one of the top men protecting Iran’s nuclear development program.
Israel knows him as their best deep cover mole. When Layla Rose Wallace, daughter of one of America’s top physicists is kidnapped in Dubai and sent to Iran, all hell breaks loose.
Israel is afraid Layla could be used to force her father to work for Iran. Cyrus is ordered to rescue her and get her out of Iran at all costs.
Cyrus is angry, torn between the destruction of the cover he gave so many years to build, and the growing impossible attraction he feels for Layla.
Layla is unwillingly drawn to a man who tells her he has no soul. Together they race to escape the deadly net set to keep them from leaving Iran. I was fascinated by two environments and cultures I knew little about. The pace kept me racing through the story to see what happened next. If you like sexy romance, foreign climes and a good thriller, this is your read.
Belle, can we have an excerpt?

I’ve included an excerpt with cooking, since food always finds its way into my manuscripts.
* * * *
Layla bolted upright, gasping for air. The nightmare of being drugged and abducted had vividly replayed in her dream. Her face and ribs ached. She looked around the unfamiliar room. How did I get here? Her last memory was of driving in the Range Rover with Superman. Panic filled her. Zamir? Where is Zamir? I wonder if his father has started negotiating for our release. Have they notified my father? Does Zamir even know I’ve left the prison? I need to get a message to him; maybe the man with the green eyes will help me? Her mind spun with a million questions.
Determined, she rose from the bed. She would ask Superman for help. She crept out of the bedroom suite and tiptoed down the stairs. The fragrance of cooking meat and spices awakened pangs of hunger. She was starving. She followed the aroma to the kitchen. Superman, in an apron, stood over a stove stirring a pot. He dipped a wooden spoon into the pot and tasted the stew. “Hmm” Seemingly satisfied, he placed the lid on the pot.
“It smells delicious. What is it?”
He whirled around in surprise, his hand instinctively reaching for his holstered gun. “You scared the hell out of me.” He relaxed, smiling at her. “It’s called Fesenjan. It’s a traditional Persian stew made with pomegranate, chicken, walnuts, onions, saffron, cinnamon and a pinch of sugar. Are you hungry?”
“Starved. Who taught you to cook?”
“My mother. This should be ready soon. Why don’t you sit down?”
“My mother’s dead.”
“So is mine.”
They stared at each other, taken aback by each other’s candid answer.
Layla swallowed the lump that had formed in her throat. “I have a million questions. I hardly know where to start.”
Cyrus pulled out a chair for her at the kitchen table. “Start at the beginning.”
She sat, folding her hands in front of her. “What’s your name? I can’t very well call you Superman.”
“Superman?” He shook his head, perplexed.
“In my mind, I’ve been calling you Superman—the way you rescued me from that guard. You swooped in like a superhero.”
The dimple in his chin hollowed out with his smile. She dropped her eyes in embarrassment, thinking, He’s way too good looking. Every time he smiles, my heart does somersaults.
“I like that.” The dimple in his chin grew even deeper with his broadening grin, and his green eyes gleamed with amusement.
“What?” Be still my heart. A smile like his could bring a woman to her knees. Not good, Layla. Don’t fall for the bait. He’s the enemy. “Oh, for God’s sake, please tell me your name.”
“Cyrus Hassani at your service. I am thirty-two.” He bowed his head. “What would you like to know about me? Unlike you Americans, I don’t have a Social Security card.”
She found his amusement annoying. She didn’t like being toyed with. “Mr. Hassani, I seem to be beholden to you. You might consider telling me a little about yourself so that I might have an idea of who I’m dealing with.”
Cyrus rubbed the shadow of beard on his face. “I hold a degree in nuclear physics from the University of Paris and a law degree from the Imam Mohammad Bagher University here in Tehran. I was conscripted by the Ministry of Intelligence and Security when I graduated university, and since then I have risen to the rank of attaché to an important man. My assignment is to keep you safe from all harm until your release. How am I doing?”
“Good, you’re doing well. That wasn’t so hard, was it? Although, I must say it sounded like the kind of recitation you’d give if you were captured by the enemy.”
His laughter filled the room. “I suppose the presentation might have seemed a bit canned. Now tell me, have I passed the first hurdle with you? May I call you Layla? Have I gained your trust enough for us to be on a first name basis?”
“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, Cyrus. I appreciate your candor, and I’m grateful for your rescue. I guess you are a superman of sorts. I still have a lot more questions. I think first names will make this easier for both of us. Please, call me Layla.”
“Shoot, Layla.”
“My boyfriend, Zamir, and I were abducted from Dubai. His father, Omar Kamel, is a wealthy Saudi businessman. I’m sure he’s begun negotiating for our release. I want to know how Zamir is, and can you tell me how much longer we’ll have to be here?”
Cyrus looked at his watch. “Zamir is fine. In fact, he should be getting on a private jet right about now on his way to Saudi Arabia and his family.”
Layla felt the blood drain from her face. Tears welled in her eyes, tracing a path down her cheek. “I don’t understand. I’m supposed to be on that jet with him. He would never leave without me
Cyrus’s voice remained even, if not a little compassionate. “I’m sorry, Layla, but he did. Don’t think too poorly of him. He had no choice. His father made no effort to include you in the negotiation. You could not possibly believe an Arab family would open their arms to you, an American Jew. He’s a boy. None of this is in his control.” As an afterthought, he added, “If it’s any comfort, I’m sure he’s as devastated as you.”
Layla stared at Cyrus, trying to process what he said. Taking a breath, she wiped her tears away. I should have known better. I’ve been a fool, a child. She stared at her folded hands, trying to catch up with her thoughts. The realization she’d been left to fend for herself dawned on her. You come from a long line of fighters, she told herself. Your grandparents are Holocaust survivors. It’s time to become who you really are. Facing the truth strengthened her resolve. Looks like you’re going to have to find your own way out of this.
She tried to fathom her situation, thoughts racing. Cyrus stared at her, his sexy eyes filled with compassion. She returned his stare as if seeing him for the first time. Is he a friend or a foe? It occurred to her that the flipping gorgeous hunk of a man who sat across from her might be her only chance out of Iran. It was not in her DNA to use people, but under the circumstances, this man might be her only way out. She looked down at her hands as she tried to devise a plan.
When she looked up, she found Cyrus studying her. She blushed. “I guess that’s all the questions I have for now. I really am hungry, though.”
“Good. Then let’s eat.”
She found herself unable to resist. “I hope Superman can cook as well as he comes to the rescue of damsels in distress.”
“Be sure to let me know what career I’m better suited to, cooking or taking down bad guys.”
“Right now, I’m hoping it’s cooking you excel at.”
“Actually, my greatest skill set is in the bedroom.” His piercing green eyes dared her to look away.
Layla’s cheeks burned, and he doubled over in laughter.
“I… I beg your pardon?”
“Sorry, I couldn’t resist, Layla. You’re quite pretty when you blush.”

Now I am hungry - in more ways than one. But let's go with food. Got a recipe you want to share?

You bet! My improved version of a recipe that is an easy one pot meal & is crowd pleasing chicken & potatoes on the wall

Makes 4 servings (I usually add extra breasts or dark meat because the leftovers are killer)
·         6 tablespoons olive oil
·         4 large garlic cloves, minced
·         3 teaspoons dried oregano (I always use fresh)
·         2 1/4 pounds yukon potatoes, peeled, each cut into 6 long wedges
·         1 4-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces or just buy the parts dark or white your preference
·         3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1.      Preheat oven to 400°F. Brush inside of large roasting pan with 2 tablespoons oil. Combine remaining 4 tablespoons oil, garlic, and 1 1/2 teaspoons oregano in bowl. Add potatoes and toss to coat. Sprinkle potatoes with salt and pepper. Line the outside edges of a large roasting pan with the potatoes so that they Sprinkle chicken with remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oregano, salt, and pepper. Arrange chicken in single layer in center of prepared pan. Arrange potatoes around chicken. Then put chicken in the bowl and soak up the remaining garlic, oil & oregano (if you need to add another tablespoon of oil do so). Then squeeze the lemon juice and any remaining oil mixture from bowl of potatoes.
2.      Roast chicken and potatoes until chicken is cooked through and potatoes are tender, about 1 hour. The recipe originally called for 1 hours & 10 minutes, however, I don’t like my chicken dried out so an hour is plenty. I also cut my breasts in half.
This recipe is so good, it fills the house with mouth-watering aroma.
I can’t wait to try it.

Belle, is not only a fellow member of my chapter of RWA, LARA, she is one of my critique partners. I and my fellow critique partners have been critiquing her next book and it's very exciting. Belle, tell us about your next book, Vengeance

Vengeance (Tip of the Spear Book 2)
Vengeance is a continuation of Escape. An exciting thriller featuring my hero, Cyrus Hassani, and heroine, Layla Rose Wallace, in a new adventure.
On a lovely September evening in one of Manhattan’s poshest restaurant a bomb explodes. The Israeli Consul General and Layla Hassani are dining in the restaurant. More than a hundred people are killed including the consul general, and Layla unbeknownst to the authorities is kidnapped.
When a YouTube video surfaces starring, a kidnapped Layla threatening another attack, a much bigger one, Mossad and the FBI team up to stop the terrorist from killing millions of Americans. Mossad (Cyrus Hassani) and the FBI (Cass Saladino and David Weiss) are in a desperate countdown to avoid a disaster. For Cyrus, this is not only his assigned mission but it’s personal. He’ll do anything to save the love of his life, Layla.

Where can we find you?
Amazon buy link:  https://www.amazon.com/Escape-Tip-Spear-Book-1-ebook/dp/B01N1X508R
Amazon buy link: http://bookshow.me/TheOne
Amazon buy link: https://www.amazon.com/Holiday-Ever-After-Nora-Flite-ebook/dp/B01M8KZIRK
Twitter:  @BelleAmi5
Website:   http://belleami.us

Thank you for being here, Belle. I look forward to your next book.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Being Your Own Valentine. #Giveaway

Posted by Susan J Berger on 9:00:00 AM with 3 comments
It's a day for love or a day for feeling woefully inadequate because
You haven't met your true love.
You lost your true love.
You have kids and exactly when are you going to be able to shove the dresser up against the bedroom door and celebrate properly?

Or there 's the other scenario:
We're celebrating, but is it romantic enough? I bet some else is out there doing it better.
My least favorite romantic line? "You complete me." From Jerry Maguire.
Said by a needy man who wasn't good with either words or relationships, but what the hey, Tom Cruise said it and he's pretty.
It took me a long time to believe I was worthy of love. And I finally realized that the person I most need to love me is . . . me. I needed to know I was already complete.
There are lots of people I love, and lots of people who love me, including my wasband. But none of us complete each other. And that's a good thing.

 We always made our own Valentines. (I found these on my PC from 1984)

This year I cheated and used fFotor online.
Tonight I will make lists. One of things I love about myself, because that's important. And one for things I love about my friend.

I will be celebrating with with my good friend Don who is coming in from Ventura with homemade soup and flowers.
We will be watching Walter so his parents can go to the movies. Maybe I will paint hearts all over him like I used to do for my children.  I plan to bombard my kids with old Valentine pics on Facebook.

And, of course, I want to give something to one of you.

I'm  giving away a 5.00 Amazon Gift certificate.

Leave me a comment telling me at least three good things you love about you. that you are going to tell yourself. And your email address.
 Yes, you are definitely worth loving. Love on!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Title and Blurb Help. Amazon Gift certificate giveaway,

Posted by Susan J Berger on 3:00:00 AM with 9 comments
My next book was accepted by Soul Mate Publishing and tentatively comes out July 12th.

The book is a sequel to Time and Forever  It's a contemporary time travel romance. 

 What's it called?

In the contract, it's called Maybe This Time. I love the title.
So do a ton of other authors. I need a new title. 
I also need a good blurb
That's where you come in, dear reader. I am offering two ten-dollar Amazon gift Cards: One for best title, one for best blurb.
If one of the titles below gets the most votes, I will draw a name from the people who voted for it. If someone comes up with a new winning title, then that someone will get the gift certificate.
There are three blurbs to choose from, or mix and match to write your own.

So far I have four alternate titles: Choices labled A-D. Which one sounds best to you? Or give me another title.

A. Changing Time
   A Second Chance Romance

B. Changing Times
    A Second Chance Romance

C.  Time after Time
     A Second Chance Romance

D. A Matter of Time
   A Second Chance Romance

 What's the book about?

This is the logline:  Their Happy Ever After is over before it begins. Unless they can change time.

So far I've written three possible blurbs - all starting with the log line. Which one would make you want to pick up the book? Or mix and match and give me another idea. 

1.  Their Happy Ever After is over before it begins. Unless they can change time.
What do you do when your niece’s birthday gift sends you thirteen years into the past and the only person who may be able to help you is the person you vowed never to see again?
Popular stage actress Jennifer Knight would rather eat worms than face her first husband.
 Lance Davies was more comfortable with machines than people. He’d never known how to handle his beloved, mercurial Guinevere. But now her future self is here in front of him and he wants another chance.
When Fate give gives you a break, you grab the chance to make things right. Even if you have to change to future to do it.
2.  Their Happy Ever After is over before it begins. Unless they can change time.
What do you do when your niece’s birthday gift sends you thirteen years into the past and the only person who may be able to help you is the person you vowed never to see again?
Popular stage actress Jennifer Knight would rather eat worms than face her first husband. The idiot who believed she had done the unthinkable.
 Lance Davies was more comfortable with machines than people. He’d never known how to handle his beloved, mercurial Guinevere. But now her future self was here in front of him and he wants another chance.
This Lance is not the Lance she divorced. He’d changed. Her traitorous body insists that home is in his arms, but her heart has trust issues.
Can two people separated by thirteen years of history find a future where they can be together?

3.  Their Happy Ever After is over before it begins. Unless they can change time.
London 2001
Popular stage actress Jennifer Knight would rather eat worms than face her first husband.
But when her niece Kat accidentally sends herself and Jen thirteen years into the past, she has no choice but to accept Lance’s help.
 Computer guru Lance Davies is more comfortable with machines than people. He’d never known how to handle his beloved, mercurial Guinevere. But now her future self was here in front of him and he wants another chance.
Can two people whose timelines are thirteen years apart find a future where they can be together?

Thank you for your help.  I made a Rafflecopter so I would have email addresses for the winners. Please use the Rafflecopter to leave me a comment.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Kristan Higgins' On Second Thought Q&A, Giveaway Review

Posted by Susan J Berger on 3:00:00 AM with 2 comments
Kristan Higgin's new novel, On Second Thought releases today. And I am giving away my ARC to some lucky reader. Must. Share.

Ainsley O'Leary is so ready to get married—she's even found the engagement ring her boyfriend has stashed away. What she doesn't anticipate is for Eric to blindside her with a tactless breakup he chronicles in a blog…which (of course) goes viral. Devastated and humiliated, Ainsley turns to her half-sister, Kate, who's already struggling after the sudden loss of her new husband. 

Kate has always been so poised, so self-assured, but Nathan's death shatters everything she thought she knew—including her husband—and sometimes the people who step up aren't the ones you expect. With seven years and a murky blended-family dynamic between them, Ainsley and Kate have never been overly close, but their shared sorrow dovetails their faltering worlds into one. 

Despite the lifetime of history between them, the sisters must learn to put their differences aside and open their hearts to the inevitable imperfection of family—and the possibility of one day finding love again

My review?
If Kristan isn't Irish she ought to be. She has an Irish storyteller's ability to balance on the knifepoint of laughter and tears. How do you find humor, love, laughter, and a happy ending in a novel that starts with death, desertion, and heartbreak? A wonderful accomplishment. Five stars.

The ever warm and wonderful Kristan Higgins is here with answers to some questions about On Second Thought.

The book opens with the sudden unexpected death of Kate’s husband, Nathan, and much of the novel follows her through the grieving process. What made you want to tackle the heavy themes and emotional complexities of this kind of story, and what were the greatest challenges you encountered during the writing process?
 In a way, writing about a widow is an exorcism of one of my deepest and most ingrained fears—that my husband will die, and I’ll have to go through life without him. My mom is a widow and has been for almost 30 years—my father was killed by a drunk driver, so grief and I walk hand in hand. The challenge was to pull apart the threads of grief and see what else was there, too. Humor, secrets, strengths, regret…all that juicy stuff that makes life so interesting.

How did you balance the narrative between Kate and Ainsley?
 Well, Kate’s storyline is obviously quite heart wrenching, even when there’s black humor infused into the scene. Ainsley’s issues are lighter and funnier, so I think they naturally balance each other. A huge part of the story is the sisters finding there’s more to each other than they ever knew. Since they have different moms, there’s already an intrinsic difference between them, and one of the things I liked best was the two of them finding out how much they have to offer each other.
I gotta tell you, Ainsley's issues are lighter and funnier only if you haven't been there. For me, they hurt more than Kate's story.

I adore the wit and humor that you infuse into all of your books, and On Second Thought is no exception. How do do you manage to find the right balance between the serious themes of the novel and some of its lighter moments?
 I think humor and sorrow are different sides of the same coin, and they often happen at the same moment. Nathan’s wake was a scene that made me laugh writing one paragraph (when Kate is struggling with her Spanx while trying to look dignified), and cry the next…like when she looks at her husband in the open casket. I think finding and acknowledging those little moments and that balance are an intrinsic part of my work. I always think that if a reader doesn’t laugh out loud and cry real tears during one of my books, I haven’t done my job. I want each book to contain the whole range of experience, I guess.

You write both romance novels and women’s fiction, with On Second Thought falling into the latter category. Does your writing process change depending on what kind of book you’re working on, and do you prefer one genre over the other?
 All my romances have had a lot of women’s fiction in them, and my women’s fiction has a lot of romance. The labels are really just a marketing tool, I think; my books have always been crossovers in both directions. The process is always the same—somewhat tortured, filled with self-doubt and second guessing, followed by that magical moment when I finally stumble in from the desert to the oasis, if you will. I’m working on another process, in which I can skip over the desert and dehydration parts and get right to the oasis and figs and stuff. I’ll let you know how that goes.

 Thank you, Kristan,for being here. I already have Kristan's recipe for Her Gram's Hershey Bar Cake on my Recipe Tab
But here's another form her newsletter. I can't resist oatmeal cookies and I'll be trying this recipe.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees; grease two cookie sheets.
12 tablespoons butter (1-1/2 sticks) at room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar

Cream together in mixer. Blend in: 
1 egg
2 tablespoons + 1/2 teaspoon warm water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In separate bowl, combine:
2/3 cup of flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda

Add to butter mixture and blend well. Then mix in with wooden spoon:
3-1/4 cups quick cooking oats
1 cup golden raisins, softened in warm water, then drained
Using ice cream scoop and packing batter firmly, drop onto greased cookie sheet, leaving 2 inches between cookies.
Bake for 15 minutes in 350 degree oven

Alright, blessed readers, anyone wants to win an ARC of On Second Thought? Remember an ARC is not the final published copy. You will find a few mistakes. If you are interested, please enter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway