Friday, November 22, 2013

Blog tour: Disclosure Of The Heart by Mary Whitney

Disclosure of the Heart Blog Tour Banner

Sixteen years is a long time to wait for your true love to reappear, and, anyway, Nicki Johnson couldn’t wait for the impossible to happen. Hard life lessons have taught her that fairy tales are children’s stories, and fate is cruel. Burying her hopes, she’s spent the last sixteen years focused and driven toward her career, and it’s landed her with a job at the White House with a gem of a boyfriend. But when her high school love, Adam Kincaid, walks into the White House as a BBC reporter, Nicki’s world is thrown into turmoil as she relives their past. Adam has come back for her, but has he arrived too late?


author pic

Even before she graduated from law school, Mary knew she wasn't cut out to be a real lawyer. Drawn to politics, she's spent her career as an organizer, lobbyist, and nonprofit executive. Nothing piques her interest more than a good political scandal or romance, and when she stumbled upon writing, she put the two together. A born Midwesterner, naturalized Texan, and transient resident of Washington, D.C., Mary now lives in Northern California with her two daughters and real lawyer husband.

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As part of the blog tour, I’m pleased to host in my Indie Author Interview Corner a romance author. I’m particularly happy to host her today, since I really loved her book and I can’t wait to start recommending it to everyone I know. Dear readers, please welcome Mary Whitney, author of “Disclosure of the Heart”.

Hello Mary! Welcome to Roberta’s Dreamworld and thank you for your time. First of all, tell us something about yourself, both as a writer and as a person.

Thank you so much for this opportunity! Writing has been a significant portion of all of my jobs, but my work has been a world away from romance.

How/when did you realize you wanted to become a writer?
When I started reading online fiction, I thought, “Hey, maybe I could do that.” Then I gave it a shot.

Let’s speak about your latest release, Disclosure Of The Heart. Can you tell my readers a little about the book?
As the sequel to Beside Your Heart, it’s set 16 years later in Washington, DC. Both Nicki and Adam are now adults, accomplished in their professions, and tied to other people. Is there a flame that flickers for both of them from their time together in high school?

How did you come up with the idea and how did you create the characters?
My main goal for both of these characters was that their actions be realistically flawed. I know many people want to always be able to root for their leads, but I like a more complex story. No one I know is perfect, and we all make mistakes. We all can hurt the people we love, both by what’s done and said. I want to see characters rise above those mistakes and move on with deeper relationships because of them.

Although this works well as a standalone, there’s a previous book, Beside Your Heart, which tells us about Nicki and Adam as teenagers. I know there’s a third book in the series, am I right? Can you tell us what it’ll be about and when you’re planning to release it? (I honestly can’t wait to read more about Nicki and Adam!)
Adam’s story, Forever Your Heart, comes out next spring. It’s a peek into his past, the years he was apart from Nicki, their story together, and then into their future post Disclosure of the Heart.

I’m Italian so whenever I want to use English or American slang I always have to research. Adam is from England, so I’m a little curious: Did someone help you with the British slang or were you familiar with it?
Oh you bet! I had several Brits help, including my editor who is an ex-pat living in London.

If you should describe your books in three words, what would you pick?
Nuanced, heartfelt, and smart

Do you have any favorite authors and did they influence your choice of the genre?
I love Louise Erdrich, who doesn’t write romance, but I love her complex characters.

What else do you enjoy doing, when you’re not writing?
I love to cook and garden. I name my favorite plants and refer to all my plants as “he” and “she.” I talk about how they’re doing, so I’m sort of making stories all the time.

As a writer do you get support from your family and friends?
My husband and friends are very supportive, even if they think it’s a little crazy.

What are your dreams and plans for your future as a writer?
I just want to write the stories I have in me. Hopefully, some people will like reading them.

You published through Omnific Publishing. I self-published through Amazon and Smashwords. What do you think are the pros and cons of self-publishing vs. going through a publisher, even though not a traditional one? Would you recommend it?
I have all the admiration in the world for self-published authors. I’ve done it, but I think it’s extremely difficult, especially if you’re selling places in addition to Amazon. I’ve never been a good project manager, and I think you need to have those skills in order to produce a book. Going with a publisher for me means I don’t have to worry about getting the words off my laptop and onto a book on your kindle. I also really enjoy working on a team, so it’s nice to have the support of others who are working for your book.

Would you like to say something to the readers to encourage them to read your books?
My storylines are fresh, and my characters are smart. Hopefully, they’ll make you think, laugh, and maybe cry a little.

I’ve been waiting impatiently to share my review with the world of book lovers, since I read the arc of this book a few weeks ago but was not supposed to post the review until my blog tour stop. I’m really glad the day has finally come and I don’t know if I’ll be able to put down in words how much I loved this book; if I have to be honest, I’m a little surprised myself, but this story really touched my heart and I hope I’ll be able to convey my feelings.

I started this book on a Sunday morning and I couldn’t put it down until I reached the end. It doesn’t happen often that I get so engrossed in a story I don’t want to do anything else but finish the book, but that’s what happened with this one. I guess this gives you a clue of how much I loved it, in case my review doesn’t.

Disclosure Of The Heart works well as a standalone, but it’s actually the sequel to Beside Your Heart (read my review here). It’s the story of Nicki and Adam, who are now adults and living two successful lives in two different continents, sixteen years after their break-up in high school.

Nicole works as the deputy press secretary of the newly elected president of the United States while Adam is a famous reporter for the BBC. Once he learns that Nicole will be working at the White House, he asks to be assigned to Washington as the official BBC correspondent there; he’s never really gotten over his love for Nicole and he hopes he’ll be able to win her heart back. That’s when all the drama starts because Nicole hasn’t gotten over him either and she knows she has to push him away if she wants to avoid another major heartbreak.

Like Beside Your Heart, the story is told in Nicki’s POV but I was happy to discover that the last chapter, just like in the previous book, is told in Adam’s.

Nicole has grown so much since the previous book – which is quite obvious, since sixteen years have passed – and at first it’s hard to recognize the shy, insecure girl in this new self-confident, career-oriented woman. As soon as Adam enters the scene though, the 17-year-old Nicki comes back and it’s like meeting an old friend. There she is, working at the White House for the president of the United States and still feeling giddy when Adam looks at her. But how can you blame her, when the cause of her emotional upheaval is Adam Kincaid!

I didn’t know I would ever fall for a Brit, but boy did I fall for Adam! He was a super cute character in Beside Your Heart and I really liked him back when he was a 17-year-old real English gentleman; in Disclosure Of The Heart Adam has turned into a super hot Englishman, who’s willing to put his high school sweetheart before everything else, including his successful career. It was very easy to like the 17-year-old English kid and it’s basically impossible not to LOVE 33-year-old Adam. He’s simply adorable and so sexy he made me swoon with every comment he made.

I loved that their cute banter was back, even after being apart for so long. I loved that they could still talk the way they did when they were seventeen, as if time hadn’t gone by at all. Their connection is still so strong I found my heart aching at the thought of how many years they’d lost, while they could’ve been together; but then again, the time probably wasn’t right and things wouldn’t have worked out if they’d tried too hard to make it work. Now they’re adults, they both know what they want from life and from love and guess what is it they want?

No, I won’t give away the ending, but if you know me, I guess you’ll understand from my rating that there must be a happy ending – but not without a few obstacles on their way, which made the whole book an even more compelling read.

Some of the side characters from the first book are back – YAY! :) – so we get to meet an older Sylvia (Adam’s sister) who’s still just as funny as she was in the first book, as well as Lisa (Nicki’s best friend) and David (Adam’s sexy cousin) and there are a few very entertaining scenes starring them.

There’s really no need for me to say how good the writing is; if you give this book a chance, you’ll see it yourself. The dialogues are very well written and the characters feel so real I felt as if they were old friends of mine. I felt a real connection with them and it’s not often that this happens when I read a book so, well, kudos to the author for that.

I know I may have found a new favorite author in Mary Whitney and I can’t wait to read more from her.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Book review: Beside Your Heart by Mary Whitney

I received an arc for this book since I signed up to host the tour for the following book, Disclosure Of The Heart, but I’m pleased to write a review for the first book even though it wasn’t required.

The blurb was quite intriguing but I got a little confused halfway through the book, when I realized that it was turning out to be a coming of age story rather than an adult contemporary, although it did start when the heroine, Nicki, is in her early twenties. Nevertheless, I was hooked from the second chapter – that’s when the story goes back to their teens – and didn’t mind at all that 99% of the book was between two teenagers even though I was expecting to read an adult or at least a new adult romance.

Beside Your Heart is a sweet, first love story between Nicole (Nicki) Johnson, a 17-year-old girl who’s recently survived a tragic car accident in which she’s been literally left scarred for life, both physically and emotionally (her 13-year-old sister died in the accident), and Adam Kincaid, an English teenager who’s spending a year in Texas with his family and is therefore attending the same school as Nicole.

The book opens with Nicki being at work late one night and while she’s scrolling down the list of voters for the presidential campaign of her boss, she finds a name that reminds her of her first love, the boy she used to date in high school and whom she hasn’t seen or talked to in over six years. Unable to resist the temptation, although she knows it’ll only hurt her, she decides to google his name and lots of information, as well as pictures of him with another woman, come up. After a phone call with her friend Lisa, who’s just come back from a trip to Europe, where she ended up meeting Adam too, we’re taken back in time, back to their junior year in high school, when Nicki started crushing badly on the cute English boy with rusty hair and expressive brown eyes – and aw, that cute accent that makes her heart flutter every time he speaks to her. Problem is, he’s got a girlfriend – a cheerleader nonetheless, and Nicki’s got a big baggage of emotional pain, not to mention the scars that cover her body, so she knows she doesn’t stand a chance against her. She can only suffer in silence and dream about him, while trying to treat him like a normal school friend. Until Adam starts getting a little too close and, when he dumps his girlfriend, she starts hoping she could have a chance at happiness. As they start dating, Nicki knows her life will never be the same; she’s not only found a loving boyfriend, but a true friend with whom she can open up and say things about her recent tragedy she hasn’t been able to share with anyone else. Their bond grows stronger and friendship evolves into true love – but time is against them. Adam is bound to leave as soon as school ends and, even though he says he loves her and wants to make things work, Nicki decides it’s best to break it off and get on with their lives separately. She knows she’ll never get over him but she’s trying to protect herself and her fragile heart by pretending nothing ever happened.

Will she be able to? Well, you won’t get to know it in this book because, the moment Adam leaves Texas (that was one of the most heartbreaking scenes in the book) we’re back to the present day, sixteen years later in 2009 and the chapter is in Adam’s POV. An adult and famous reporter for the BBC, he asked to be moved to Washington D.C. as the official BBC correspondent at the White House. Why? Because Nicole Johnson is now a deputy press secretary for the newly elected president of the United States. Am I giving away the ending? Nope, because this is how it ends.

Major cliffhanger? Yes, definitely. But it’ll make you want to read the next book, unlike other books I’ve recently read in which the cliffhanger made me want to throw my Kindle.

This has been an extremely enjoyable read. Although I was expecting an adult romance, I was pleasantly surprised by the story. It was highly emotional, at times heartbreaking and, even though I couldn’t put it down, at times I had to force myself to switch off my Kindle because I was so emotionally involved it almost hurt. All through the book the emotions, especially the pain Nicki feels because of her sister’s death, are so strong and every now and then I had to swallow the lump in my throat. Luckily, there were also happy moments, funny remarks and banter between Adam and Nicki, as well as sweet, romantic moments that warmed my heart and brought a smile to my face.

Nicki is a lovely character. Even though at times she drove me crazy (especially when she tried to push Adam away) I tried to remember what it’s like to be seventeen and I understood why she acted like that, especially considering the terrible loss she’d experienced. She’s a fragile, broken girl but when Adam walks into her life, he helps her to get out of the shell and she finds strength in him.

Adam is the perfect English gentleman. He’s super cute and I really loved him. The last few chapters were heartbreaking and the last scene, right before he leaves, brought me close to tears. I loved reading the last chapter in his point of view because it gave me an insight into his feelings for Nicki, even though they were pretty clear throughout the book, from the way he acted with her.

You probably know I want books to have a happy ending, so I was a little hurt that they parted ways and never looked back, but I knew there would be another book so I was pretty confident (actually, hopeful) that I’d be getting my happy ending eventually.

The side characters, Lisa and Rachel (Nicki’s best friends) and Sylvia (Adam’s little sister) were great; I loved their interactions, especially the banter between Adam and Sylvia. She’s a cute, funny character and I wish she’d played a bigger part in the story.

The writing flows smoothly and the dialogues feel real – I loved the use of the British slang; I could almost hear Adam speak in his impeccable, a little posh, British accent. After reading so many books by American authors recently, it was nice to read a few very British “bloody” here and there. :-)

I really enjoyed reading this book and I would recommend it to readers who love highly emotional first love romance, even though there’s no happy ending – yet (well, at least I hope there is one in the next book, or I’ll be heartbroken!)

Have you read Beside Your Heart already? Leave a comment and let me know what you thought of it. 
Saturday, November 2, 2013

Book review: Wait for you by J. Lynn

I read this book a few months ago and have just realized I never wrote a review on my blog, although I did write one on Goodreads and Amazon. Shame on me! So here it is.

Ever since buying a Kindle I’ve discovered some amazing books and most of the times totally by chance. The possibility to download a sample before buying the complete book is one of the best features Amazon offers so, even though I’d heard a lot of good reviews about his book, I decided to download the sample first and decide for myself. Needless to say, I bought the ebook as soon as I reached the end of the sample; I didn’t even stop to think about whether I should or shouldn’t buy it: I one-clicked right away.

Wait For You is a romance with a great amount of drama. Avery is a girl who’s running away from a painful event in her past and from a town where gossip and mean looks caused her to severely hurt herself. In order to start anew in a place where nobody knows who she is or what happened to her, she leaves Texas to move to attend college in West Virginia. Everything seems to be going fine until she literally collides with Cameron Hamilton, high school heartbreaker, and her world starts spinning. When she eventually finds out that he lives in her same building and on her same floor, things get complicated. Cam’s not used to getting “no” for an answer and he has his mind set on Avery, while all she wants is to stay away from people and keep a low profile. Her secrets haunt her and she can’t tell him her story because she’s scared he’ll run away. So she pushes him away and tries to make him think she’s not interested in him but he does everything in his power (including baking some great cookies) to break through her walls.

Avery is a great heroine and there’s a lot of growth throughout the book. When we first meet her, she’s a broken girl who’s trying to hide from the world but as soon as Cam enters the scene and her world, things start to change. It’s a slow process, it doesn’t happen overnight and sometimes it’ll make you want to scream, but by the end of the book Avery is much stronger than she was at the beginning.

Cam. I have seriously been daydreaming about him for days after I finished the book. When I read the sample, he had me at “sweetheart”, just like most of the girls who’ve read this book. And the scene with Raphael the turtle? I was at work and couldn’t stop seeing images of him standing outside his apartment door holding a turtle. You should read the book just for that. The first thing I did when I went home that night was one-click and buy the book. I simply HAD to read more about him. He’s handsome (blue eyes, dark hair – YAY!), funny, a little cocky and… he bakes cookies! I mean, how cool is a guy who bakes cookies to win the heart of a girl he’s fallen for?

The book has great dialogue; I loved their banter and highlighted most of it (I rarely highlight on my Kindle but I have half this book highlighted). Cam made me laugh out loud most of the time and even days after I finished the book I had to go back and re-read the parts I’d highlighted – and still laughed.

The chemistry between them is at WOW levels. I’m happy they didn’t fall head over heels in chapter one and that it took them a while to get together. They start off being friends, even though the pull between them is quite tangible, and once Avery pulls down her walls well, they can’t keep their hands off each other. It gets pretty hot at some point and a little graphic too, just so you know, but it definitely didn’t bother me like other books I recently read and that only earned two or three stars at the most because it was just too much.

Wait For You is a very emotional read, a beautiful story of love and trust, with a very hot hero as a bonus. Now I can’t wait to read Trust In Me, the story told in Cam’s point of view.

Would I recommend this book? Hell, yeah!

Have you read Wait For You already? Leave a comment and let me know what you thought of it.