Book Review: Serving Up Secrecy, by H.M. Shander


The first book I read by H.M. Shander was Ask Me Again, the second book in her Charlotte Cooper set and I was an instant fan. I’ve been spending so much time under deadlines lately that I haven’t had enough time to read so when I saw the blurb I knew I had to read this one too. I love secret baby stories, and this one was fantastic.

From the first pages where Josephine finds herself in a hotel room with a very hot, very naked man, I found myself thoroughly engrossed in the story. Both she and James are flawed but very likeable, and her best friend Ana is hilarious. HM has a gift for writing characters that you feel like you’ve known all their lives and a great, conversational way of writing that makes it easy to lose yourself in the story, as if a friend is telling it to you, and it makes the pages fly by. When I wasn’t reading it, I found myself thinking about Josephine and James and hoping they’d make it through.

I’ve still been crazy busy with the book release but when I got to the last third of the book I planted my tattooed butt in the bathtub and devoured it. For a little while I wasn’t sure Josephine would get her happy ending, and I couldn’t stand the tension! When I finished the book, my eyes were filled with tears. Whether they were tears of sadness or Joy (see what I did there?) I’m not going to tell you – you have to read it and find out for yourself!

As with her Charlotte Cooper books, I highly recommend Serving Up Secrecy and am looking forward to reading the others in the series. I’ve already downloaded Serving Up Devotion! Pick your copy up now at your favorite retailer!

Kindle: http://mybook.to/SUSecrecy

Kobo: http://goo.gl/dv6YsV

Nook: http://goo.gl/hfBQNc

iBooks: http://goo.gl/STf1ip

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Training Journal: Houston Marathon 2019

Yesterday was the big day. I avoided the flu, drove like an old woman to avoid further car accidents, and made my way to Houston

I was nervous from the time I woke up Saturday until the time I woke up Sunday and went out into the cold to wait for our Uber. Richard kept telling me it would be fine but I wasn’t sure. We went to our corrals and proceeded to start our marathons – his 5th and my first.

It was hard. Harder than anything I’ve ever done. There were so many times I just wanted to give up but I couldn’t. Not after everything that happened.

This marathon was a year and a half in the making. I was. Not. Giving. Up. I kept running. Richard started a campaign of harassment/support that got me through the last miles.

I was 9 minutes over. The finish line was being taken down. Rather than letting me and the others suffer for nothing, they led us down a little path lined with pinwheels that was actually really cool, and into the convention center where I was given my medal, shirt, finisher mug, and food. I staggered outside into the sun and dropped onto the fountain to wait for Richard.

Friends, when I saw him I started crying. Without his support and encouragement I don’t know that I would have even signed up for the damn thing if he hadn’t told me he knew I could.

So now I’m officially a marathoner. I’m taking the next week or two off before the Cowtown and then the Pearland half with Richard and Charlotte. Richard also wants to do the Skyline half in April because we are crazy people. I’ll never forget my first marathon, though.

Training Journal – Houston Blues

Look at that beautiful medal. I love it so much and the fact that I am likely not going to be getting it on Sunday is kind of breaking my heart.

In a fit of pique, I had a little bit of a moment on Facebook. I am not humblebragging, fishing for compliments, or looking for people to tell me that I can totally do it. The simple fact of the matter is that at my current pace, I will be on target to finish in about 6 hours and 15-20 minutes. That’s well outside the 6 hour time limit, which means that beautiful medal won’t be going home with me. You can tell me to think positively all you like, but you can’t change facts.

After my hip injury this fall, I had to take a lot of time off from training and with my new job and schedule I’ve had to change my whole workout time around. I’m still getting used to things and after an hour commute home I’m a little fried. All of this added up to leave me at a pace I’m kind of embarrassed about. I’ve never been the fastest runner but this is a new low for me. I’ve accepted it, though, and know what I have to do to improve.

Unfortunately I won’t be able to improve in the next two days. I have hope that I’ll be able to finish in time to finish the Cowtown Marathon in February, but as for Sunday it’s not happening. As a result, I’ve gotten a little depressed. Every race week email I get makes me a little sadder. Everyone is so excited and ready to run their best and earn their medal, and I have to try to accept that no matter how hard I try I just won’t make it. It would be super easy to bow out and blame it on the car accident I was in on Tuesday, but I’m trying to use it as a learning experience. It still hurts a little though.

Tomorrow I start the drive to Houston. I’m going to be so happy to see my friends but I’m also preparing myself for disappointment. The best I can hope for is not to be carted off the course in the bus. See y’all on the flip side.

Big, Meet Britches

I just realized that I haven’t done any sort of “Let’s wrap up 2018 and plan for 2019!” post yet, so let’s take a look backward. In fact, let’s go back further to September of 2017.

You may remember my trip to San Antonio and the second-fanciest hotel room I’ve ever been in. Probably not, though. I was hiding from the world in one of my eel holes for like a year. Anyway, that was around the time I was in the Every Rogue’s Heart box set. It was an awesome experience getting to know the ladies who have become my little author fam and the set did really well! They gave me hope, advice, and a place in the Enduring Legacy series. Thanks to them, I decided to do the thing and take the plunge into self publishing.

In March of 2018, I took a flying leap out the window and published the first book from Frozen Flame Press, Drowned History. I had no idea what I was doing other than having a nice cover and an ad on Facebook. I was so excited and so proud of myself for selling a couple of books, but I also learned how to set up preorders, format for print, and a whole slew of other things.

Fast forward to September of 2018 (and an even nicer hotel room!) where I was still losing my mind over the fact that The Search for Sam broke the top 100 in 20th Century Historical Romance. I had learned a bit more about promo since my first book, and the series helped get me some exposure too. I also participated in Facebook parties and made new friends and fans. I was riding high.

Then, there was October. Sales were down a little but still steady and what on earth should happen? I got accepted to an author event where I did my first book signing! I met even more new people, signed books, and had the joy of seeing my books on a real shelf at a real bookstore, something I was told rarely – if ever – happens for an indie author. I thought nothing could possibly get better than this. Surely this was as high as you got your first year of writing independently, right?

Hold my butterscotch tea.

My very first Christmas novel came out in November and did better than I could ever hope. I not only debuted at #1 on the Tudor Historical Romance new release list, I also made it to #4 in the overall category! I was so close to being a bestseller but I’m still floored at just how far up the charts I made it. I love this book and I’m so glad that other people seemed to love it too, if we are going by the reviews. I was so excited after everything that had happened in 2018 I was sure that nothing could make it better.

I submitted The Search for Sam to the Read Freely 50 Best Indie Books of 2018 competition, not expecting to win or even place. Like I’d said four or five times this year, there was no way an indie author with only a year of self-publishing under her belt would get anything. I still asked people to vote for me and promoted the contest, because I figured at least I’d get my name out there for next year, when I’d be a little more seasoned. Imagine my surprise when I came in at number 47!

Everything that happened in 2018 writing-wise felt like a huge surprise, and like it was happening to someone else. There was no way it could be happening to little ol’ me! It’s still a lot to take in.

So what’s on my plate for 2019? I’ve already put out my first full-length contemporary, a romantic suspense that is already getting great reviews. In April, I’m writing a bit of a follow-up to The Search for Sam that I’ll tell you more about in a few weeks. I’m planning on another contemporary in June, a pirate historical in the fall, and a super-secret holiday project! Stay tuned to my blog and social media to find out what, where, and when, and let’s hope that 2019 is just as good as 2018 – or maybe better!

Colony Crash

Yesterday was a great day at the same time it was terrible. My release day went as well as can be expected for an indie author trying to break into contemporary romance. Hopefully things will keep going well through the week!

The bad part was that on the way to work I got rear ended while I was sitting in traffic. Like literally sitting. I’m still mad about it. I’m fine but stiff, and the doctor says I’ve just pulled a muscle in my neck/shoulder. He also released me for the race this weekend so that’s something. They also talked me into a flu shot. My car is fine, by the way.

The other great thing that happened was that my story, Colony Crash was accepted for publication by A Million and One Magazine! It’s a short romance story with a hint of horror, and I may have fun writing a full novel for Camp NaNoWriMo. For now, please go check it out and tell me what you think!

A bee

Read it now in A Million and One Magazine!http://amillionandonemagazine.com/2019/01/15/colonycrash/

As a side note, I still have a few ARCs of At Any Cost available in exchange for a review! Comment if you’re interested!

It’s Release Day for At Any Cost!

I am so excited right now! Today is the long-awaited (at least by me) release day for At Any Cost, my first full-length contemporary romance and my very first romantic suspense novel. I had so much fun writing it – especially since it takes place in Chicago again – that it’s actually kicking off the Chicago Gray Line series as well. More on that later, though. For now, let’s talk about this one!

Martin Caiber has a problem. His father hasn’t been in his grave a week and someone is already trying to kill him. As much as he wants to stay away from his father’s ties to Chicago’s organized crime, he knows that it’s not exactly an option.

From the moment he meets the woman who calls herself The Hawk, he knows he can’t live without her. The daughter of a hitman from Georgia, she’s the only one who can keep him alive and find out who wants him dead. What neither of them bargained on was the fact that he’s not the only target…so is she.

It’ll be $0.99 for the first week, then a still very reasonable $2.99 after that. You can get it at any retailer you like and as always, I’m dying to know what y’all think of it. You want links? Oh, I’ve got links for DAYS.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07L2J1932

https://m.barnesandnoble.com/w/at-any-cost-rebecca-lovell/1129963855

https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/at-any-cost-17

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/at-any-cost/id1445366330?mt=11

Training Journal: Divas Virtual Half Marathon…2018?

Amanda and me, getting ready to start. Cold. Remember the virtual half Amanda and I were going to do that ended up turning into a New Year’s Day 5K? Of course the missing packet shows up on January 2nd! After a comedy of errors that included a hellish crick in my neck, we set the date for yesterday. Friends, it was cold. 38 degrees to be precise. Amanda was almost frozen but I’ve run in 19 degree weather so I knew I’d make it.

Since she was running the 5K and I was doing the half, I mapped out a route that would take us out and back together so we could snap a picture of us with our medals before I went back out for another 10 miles. The Diva series is known for its huge fancy medals and before she saw mine Amanda asked if it was a thing with them. It is. It’s totally a thing.

After a quick hug, Amanda went to warm up and I went back to the trail after a cup of water. Somehow it felt like it had gotten colder but I started on my way, having mapped the rest of the route through Trinity Park. Even in the winter it’s beautiful, and I enjoyed it.

It may not have been the best idea to do this the weekend before the marathon but – and I know I never mentioned it before – I have anxiety. I knew that doing the half would make me feel better, whether it proved I’d crash and burn at the marathon or gave me hope, so I decided to do it for the sake of my mental health. I’m so glad I did! I kept a good pace, made good time, and my legs don’t feel any worse than they did Saturday (which was not at all). In order to finish the marathon in the allotted 6 hours, I need to keep a pace of 13:44/mile. Today I ran 13.1 and sustained a pace of 13:29/mile. Yes, I am slow. I finished in 2:56:00, which is my best time since last May, and I almost cried.

I’m still certain I won’t finish in 6 hours. Feeling good or not, I was still tired after the half so I doubt I can keep my pace under 14:00/mile. If I can keep it around there, though, I might be able to finish just a hair over 6 hours and get an unofficial finish. No medal or swag, but I’ll know where I am and whether or not I can finish the Cowtown. The most important thing is that I continue to live by Deadpool’s motto: “Maximum Effort.”

Next year I think I’ll see if Amanda wants to do this again. I had fun and feel extremely good about myself, and I got to spend time with a friend I don’t see much anymore. And that, folks, makes me feel like an actual Diva.

The Chex Mix of Romance Fiction