Newbian Spotlight: Sugar Rush by A. Jones

So, yes, I’ve created yet another new feature because that’s what I do. “Newbian” Spotlights will feature the debut releases by a black female author, and up first is Sugar Rush by A. Jones. When I saw this cover on my Instagram feed, I had to do feature because that hair is giving me all kinds of life.

Blurb:

How does it feel when you’re finally able to live the life you’ve always dreamed of? Blissful? Amazing? Peaceful?

Melanie Moore is beautiful, smart and miserable. For years she’s given up on her dreams to keep peace within her family, but now she’s ready to pursue the life she wants. With one small window of opportunity she’s given room to do just that, however, not everyone is happy for her. Facing the repercussions of her decision from her family and a surprising diagnosis that’s threatening everything she’s been working for leaves Melanie wondering if her dreams were ever supposed to be anything more than a dream.

Then enters Kamali James – a natural born nurturer and a man who has been a giver and lover all of his life… until he crosses paths with the beautiful Melanie Moore. Melanie doesn’t have time for a relationship, let alone the emotional strength to deal with everything she’s going through. Will she let Kamali in to be the rock that she needs and continue pursuing her dreams, or will she give up on everything… including him?

Hot Kamali is what he sounds like! Sugar Rush is available on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited

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Monday Musings: It’s the 21st Century, C’mon Son!

I’ve struggled with writing this post for some time now. Not struggle in the sense of whether or not to actually write it, but struggle in the sense of presenting my point of view without it coming off as combative or confrontational.

You see, I personally only read romance that features black women as the heroine or lead (ok, 99% of the romance I read…), and the one thing that burns my buns is when a non-black author writes about a black woman, and she’s either full of subtle or overt stereotypes (“sassy”, struggling but pulling herself up by the bootstraps, or perpetually angry at the world) or there are conflicting physical descriptions. You cannot describe your black heroine as tanned, mocha, and caramel, all within the same chapter (I shit you not.). My immediate thoughts are who is your editor (if you have one) and you need some black beta readers.

I choose to believe that much of this is unintentional and the author’s honest intent to be diverse and inclusive in their writing, but at the same time, I also question whether or not they interact with any black people socially (outside of work or church or other obligatory setting) and where they draw their inspiration for these characters.

Now, I’m not saying all non-black authors are guilty of this because I’ve read some bomb-ass stories written by non-black writers that had me screaming YAAAAAAAAAAASSSS, HUNTY! You did that! (Yes, I do really speak like this. Have you read this blog prior to this post?) But those were few and far between. And don’t come at me with “What about black authors who stereotype black women?” Yeah, they can get this work too, but that’s another day, another post. Right now, I’m speaking specifically on how black women are portrayed in romance and perhaps, ultimately viewed in real life by non-black authors.

I welcome your thoughts.

Desere: A Love Story of the American South

Again, it was the cover that grabbed me. My first thought was, “She ain’t black, WTH?” But, y’all, there were sooooo many black women who looked like this back “then” and we all know why…

I clicked it. Because I am fascinated for what life was like for a black woman (‘Cause trust, she wasn’t considered anything but in those times) who outwardly had the physical characteristics of a white woman but was indeed enslaved. So, peep the blurb:

Deseré, a skilled seamstress and slave, lives on a South Carolina cotton plantation. Fair-skinned and astonishingly beautiful, she is owned by a kindly master and given his permission to marry the man she loves, a carpenter enslaved on a neighboring plantation. Yet when her master dies before her wedding and his nephew inherits the plantation and its slaves, Deseré’s marriage is indefinitely postponed, pending consent from her new owner.

Lawyer Anthony Sinclair arrives from Ohio on the mend from a broken heart, leaving behind a career derailed by scandal. Owning a plantation presents a vibrant opportunity. Yet torn by inklings of abolitionist beliefs, Anthony struggles with the damning prospect of owning human beings.

Upon first seeing the alluring Deseré, Anthony is immediately dazzled by her golden skin, shimmering blond hair and ocean blue eyes. Yet Deseré perceives the tall, dark-haired and handsome “Masta” Anthony as rather stupid. He knows nothing about running a plantation, nor being a planter. But as long as he allows Deseré to marry the man she loves, she will be happy.

Anthony, however, desires Deseré for himself. To what lengths will he go to win the forbidden love of a slave? Will owning Deseré be the only way Anthony can ever possess her while her heart belongs to another man?

***

Oooohhh… So, ol’ girl was in love and set to marry another slave, but when her master dies, the wedding is put on hold because black love during slavery were more business transactions than love matches for their owners. Gahhhh…Then the new owner is like “Nah, she’s mine (literally and figuratively).”

I haven’t even read it yet, and I’m already feeling some kinda way! Did I mention that this is a full-length novel and only $.99? Yup…

Desere: A Love Story of the American South

Books & Chocolate: A Musings Spotlight

Is this cover not on some next level, steampunk, what-is-this steeze? Nikki Woolfolk, I am not worthy…

One of the things I told myself is that I am going to start reading and spotlighting more books that aren’t necessarily romantic in theme and not what I would traditionally read. Mise en Death definitely fits the bill. Expand your horizons, girl!

I proudly consider myself on the cusp of blerdom (black nerd), and this book is right on time. Ms. Woolfolk has allowed me to share a generous snippet, and I hope after reading, you’ll click it up and support this often underrepresented genre of black fiction. Cause we outchea, y’all. In all forms…

***

Chapter 1

Honfleur, Louisiana

Summer Solstice eve, 1881

If it had not been for the ice cream, Alex LeBeau would not have found herself in jail.

On the last leg of their journey from up north, Alex’s young son, Pierre, drove them along the outer road of her childhood parish of Honfleur in their steam-powered automobile. The brass and steel bonnet of the contraption gleamed in the June morning sunlight and caught stares from the many town patrons enjoying their mid-afternoon constitutional.

In the passenger’s seat, with a hand firmly grasped on her almond wafer cone, Alex used her free hand to adjust her goggle strap against the back of her humidity dampened Eembuvi-style auburn plaits.

Despite the speed of the automobile, the breeze was stifling and caught at the back of her throat. Or was it a bug? Grimacing at the thought, she licked at the frozen concoction. The sticky caramel and sea salt blended together in her mouth, and she let out a euphoric sigh, then took another lick.

Pierre pulled the handkerchief from his breast pocket. “Here, you’ve dropped some ice cream on your skirt,” he offered, slowing the car as he waited for a pedestrian to cross. “Maman,” Pierre playfully chided, as he adjusted his own goggles.

She gave a soft Merci before taking his handkerchief and used it to swat at the two bees hovering at the hem of her skirts.

Bon Dieu!” Alex hopped out of the mobile.

Holding her ice cream in one hand, Alex fanned her skirts with the other. She did not notice the sound of the car stopping or the quick footsteps behind her. Her focus was on the angry bee up her skirts.

Alex gathered up a fist full of material and flung her hand upward with such force her fist connected with Pierre’s jaw. He fell to the grass like a stone. Alex stopped and gasped at her unconscious son as the two bees flew from underneath her skirts. She glanced up to notice the two police officers staring at the scene with humorless eyes.

She dropped her skirts.

Merde.”

Alex glanced at one of the police officer’s belt, spying the hydraulic D cuffs, her hands still faced the cloudless sky. The other officer knelt down at Pierre and checked his pulse, before giving her partner a side eyed glance. “Alive, but out cold.

We should get him to the station. Once he wakes, we can find out what happened.”

The officer standing only a few meters away glanced at Alex. “Mademoiselle, we need you to come with us.”

Alex hitched up her skirts slightly to cross her legs as she sat at the foot of the cot without any worry. Hunter and Lan the Wire Witch, made sure to keep any of her past hiccups with the law off the police records. Alex may have cut ties, but Bellicose Solanum always took care of their own and kept their promises.

She knew with certainty nothing of her past would be found. The odd thing about clandestine groups like BelSol is that they brought attention to themselves in ways Alex had never expected. BelSol posed as a night carnival that traveled by train. It housed some of the cleverest minds in the country.

Alex convinced the police officers to let her son rest, but while Officer Potkiss took notes Officer Meckelson still questioned her in the station.

Meckelson stood a few inches shorter than Alex, but the height difference was lost as the officer sat on the corner of the desk.

“What brings you to Honfleur with an automobile full of weapons, Mademoiselle…?”

“LeBeau. My knife case of my best cutlery is only a weapon to the finest selection of beef or pork,” Alex said with a laugh.

The officer’s gaze bore into her. “If I were to get on the horn with Monsieur Guillaume, do you think this story would match up?”

Alex raised an auburn-kissed eyebrow and looked up into Meckelson’s unreadable face.

“There’s only one way to find out that I am assisting Chef Guillaume at the Honfleur Cooking School. The Head Event Chef Heston up and quit, but do not take my word for it.”

She stood. “I need to check on my son while you make your call.”

The other officer, Potkiss, did not stop entering data into the Babbage machine at her desk. In fact, neither Potkiss nor Meckelson pressed further in the query as Alex joined Pierre in the jail cell. Alex had enough run-ins with the police to know when they were trying to intimidate and shake up someone. Alex was no fool. She peered out the small window, watching a lady in britches riding a velocipede in a circle around her friends, laughing and teasing them as she feigned loss of control of the dual-wheeled contraption.

Alex peeked at the chronometer on her wrist. Even if Pierre woke soon, she would be late getting settled at her mother’s before preparing for tomorrow’s event.

It could be worse, Alex thought.

Though Alex was fully aware her privilege could not protect her son per se, she could use it for something good. As a Creole woman in this post-Insurrection, she was aware of her privilege over Anglo men and their ancestors who created the causes for the uprising in the first place. Oppression, slavery, or any forms of inequality against Black, Brown and Indigenous folks ceased after the Insurrection of 1856.

Any Anglo men with a desire to create or fix anything more than a calculating machine required heavy licensing fees. Even if any Anglo male had the rare fortune to have a few coins in his pocket, the mounds of paperwork and psychological evaluations would break his spirit. Attempted genocide of the Native peoples and the dehumanization and enslavement of people from the Motherland drove the policies and regulations of the new America.

“Ma’am,” Officer Meckelson said.

Alex faced the hard-jawed brunette.

“Is there a reason you are carrying this many knives?”

“What kind of cook would I be if I did not have my own knives? I cannot chew my way through animal proteins with my teeth.”

The officer’s eyes had lost their coldness.

Meckelson aimed a thumb behind. “But Officer Potkiss can.”

Alex blinked in surprise at the change in her mood and stifled a giggle.

Officer Meckelson unlatched one of the trunks and began to search through it.

“Please take care,” Alex warned. “Those are gifts for my family.”

Officer Potkiss peered over Meckelson’s shoulder as they sifted through the decorative tin.

“Do I need to be warned about the contents of this tin?” asked Meckelson.

“Only if you are watching your sugars.”

Both officers stared back at Alex.

“There’s a six-piece pie collection. Apple, key lime, peach, blueberry, strawberry and pecan ganaches covered in chocolate.”

Meckelson pulled the clear cylindered case out for closer inspection. Potkiss opened the top, looking at the two levels with six wedges, all colored with distinct pictures.

Each tri-shaped wedge was painted with either apples, strawberry, lime and other cocoa butter silk-screened decorations.

Officer Potkiss searched through the tin and plucked out a couple of chocolate bars. One was labeled Apple Toffee and the other Tropical. The drawing showed a coconut, the newly imported pineapples from Hawaii and a tiny pinkish-red bumpy fruit.

“What’s that?” Officer Potkiss asked pointing to the fruit.

“Lychee. Looks odd, but its white flesh inside is so perfectly sweet.”

Meckelson pulled out the five-piece box of chocolate and read the flavor map aloud.

“Saffron pear pâte de fruit.”

“It’s pronounced fwee, not fruit.”

“What is it?”

“Pureed fruit boiled down into a concentrated flavor.”

“I see,” Meckelson replied and continued reading. “Kumquat with Scottish shortbread cookie.”

Potkiss leaned in. “What’s this one with the yellow flowers and bumblebee pattern on this square one?”

“Oh, that’s just my version of Honeycomb candy. A British treat with an American twist. The white flower with the green background, that’s one I call Sakura Plum. That is cherry blossom and plum tea marshmallow. And that last one, with the fleur de lis, is a traditional Bittersweet chocolate with a buttercream ganache that melts just so in your mouth.”

Potkiss looked at the chocolates then at Alex.

“You make these?”

Alex flashed a smile. “Yes. Those are a test batch. I would like to have my own shop one day.”

Meckelson and Potkiss’ eyes lit up.

The stationary voice telegraph rang.

Both officers did not move.

“Can someone answer that?” an officer called out from a corner desk.

Out of the corner of her eye she saw Pierre stir, most likely from the bell chime.

Pierre rushed to sit up. Dazed he took in his surroundings and finally rested his gaze on his mother.

Alex looked at him and shrugged. “Desolé.

He grimaced.

“It’s Miss Miel, the madam of the Wild Mare brothel. She says Miss Clackett keeps telling her she has permission from her mother to be at the brothel farm down the ways.”

The second officer turned from Alex. “What in the world? Isn’t her mother in her late nineties?”

“Why don’t you ask her when we get there?”

“Miss Clackett brought her own mother to a brothel?”

“Yes, and several more of her friends from the retirement home. Miss Miel says they’re making a scene because they only have enough money for one gent to rent, and there are eight ladies.”

Mise en Death

 

Peep This: The Decades Series

Y’ALL! I just happened to be minding my business when I came across this beautiful book cover. I will say it until y’all tell me, “Yeah, we know how you feel about book covers…” (like that’s gon’ stop me anyway 😛 ) I had to further investigate. Not only is this story A Delicate Affair by Lindsay Evans an African American historical romance, but it is the first book in a ten-part series that explores black love, spanning the 1900s all the way through the 2010s.

BIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIITCH!!!!

I just got my EN-TIRE life!

Blurb:

Golden Worth is a proud southerner. But when some “good” Georgia boys threaten to lynch him, he runs north to Washington DC to make music and a new life for himself. He doesn’t count on falling for the untouchable Leonie Harper, an aristocratic beauty with a mind for sin. He knows better than to want her, but the Radcliffe-bound girl who’s supposed to be a blushing debutante is anything but. She captivates him, tempting him to want things he once thought were out of reach.

All too easily, Golden falls into Leonie’s scented embrace, even though he suspects she’s only playing with him until something richer comes along.

Can this country boy convince a big city girl to take a chance on real love, or will she leave him swinging in the wind?

***

This story takes place in my hometown of Washington, DC, so I  am especially siced (That’s a DC saying BTW, meaning beyond excited). Every month, I’ll bring you the newest release in the series. In the meantime, check out A Delicate Affair, leave a review, then get ready for book 2

A Few of My Favorite IR/MC Reads of 2017

I meant to preface my last “top three” post by saying just because I name certain books as my top three that I’m slighting or dismissing all the other books I’ve read in the last year. These are just the three that have stuck with me long after I’ve read them. And 2017 was a sucky year for reading for me, so that’s another reason for only naming three books. I hardly read anything!!!

Without further delay, here are my top three interracial/multicultural reads, in no particular order:

Home by K. Carr: The cover got me. Not gon’ lie. The story kept me. Kept me reading into the wee hours of the morning because I love second chance romances, and this is one of the wildest ones I’ve ever read. Not wild as in WTF, although there were a few moments or two, but wild as in I’ve never read an honest (although fictional) portrayal of what post-partum depression can do to a woman’s psyche and cause her to do unconscionable things—at least unconscionable for us who’ve never experienced childbirth and the effects it can have on your being.

This story is not dire and depressing, but it is highly emotional, and yes, it does have an HEA. The storytelling is excellent, and it’s set in the UK, so you get that British flavor throughout. Loved it!

Rise by Dylan Allen: This was another book I picked up on a whim. I didn’t know the author; there was no buzz (in my circles) about this book; and I had no expectations. But something said, “Just buy the damn book and read it!” Folks, always trust ya gut!

So, Rise is actually the first book in the saga of three sisters of African and Syrian descent. Each are dealing with their own phoenix versions of rising from the ashes when their father is accused of one of the most unspeakable acts in modern US history.

Addie, the baby sister, and star of Rise, can’t deal with the fallout and shame bestowed upon her family after her father abandons them to go into hiding. At the first opportunity, she leaves the country and makes a successful life for herself in London, where she meets Simon, who is also mixed race. Simon is dealing with his own set of family issues, and these two couldn’t be as different as night and day. But their attraction to one another is strong and palpable.

I love romances that are heavy on the drama with good loving thrown in. This is one of those. Yeah, the sex was good, but the story was even better.

Part Of The List by Xavier Neal: Whenever author Xavier Neal posts flashbacks or anything related to this book, I get ALL in my feelings and never cease to let her have it (lovingly, of course).

All I’m going to say is this book is not for the lighthearted. Depending on who you are as a reader, as a person, it may or may not end prettily for you, but one thing I know for sure (in my Oprah voice), you will walk away feeling something. There are no rules that state all romances are supposed to be wine and roses and lovely and sappy. Chile…

 

 

 

Release Day Blitz: Broken Clocks by Danielle Allen

 


According to my grandma, a broken clock being right twice a day meant that in any given situation, there are only two opportunities for perfect timing.

I fell for William Grayson in a matter of minutes. The connection between us was undeniable, but our timing was off. I was dating someone and by the time I was single again, he was taken. And a year later, when we finally got together, it was clear that we were soulmates. But circumstances out of our control cut our time short.

We were a little older, a little wiser, when our paths crossed again. I was entering a new phase of independence in both my career and my life. He was growing professionally and moving to a new city. And even though our timing was off, it was still clear that we were soulmates. But for the second time, circumstances out of our control cut our time short.

My grandma was a wise woman, but my love life taught me that there’s no such thing as perfect timing. There’s just timing… Because nothing is perfect. There’s just right now… Because tomorrow isn’t promised.

For as long as we’d known each other, William and I just wanted to be together. It was as simple and as complicated as that.

 



 

 


 

 


 

 


Danielle Allen is a lover of football, fashion, film and fiction. From karaoke nights to vacationing and everything in between, she enjoys making the most out of the life in which she’s been blessed by living authentically and intentionally. Danielle spends her days teaching college students and her nights writing. And ultimately, she lives her life like it’s golden.

Danielle Allen is the author of the Back to Life Series (Back to Life, Back to Reality, Back to December), Love Discovered in New York, Autumn & Summer, the Heartache Series (Heartache, Heartfelt, Heartless*), Work Song, The One Series Duet (The One, After The One), Nevermore, The Art of Being, Disasters in Dating Choose Your Dating Adventure Series (Disasters in Dating, Brink of Disaster: This One, Brink of Disaster: That One), and Broken Clocks.
*spinoff from series, featuring different characters, coming early 2018

 

PS-There’s a giveaway! Click here to enter!

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New Release: Southern Complications by Emeline Piaget

I consider myself a professional author stalker, and I shamelessly ingratiate myself with those who let me 😛

Emeline Piaget is one of them. I love her stories, and she has a brand, spanking new one that I cannot wait to read.

First off, I love her book covers. She never features couples on them but a meaningful, “abstract” photo that ties together everything that the book is about. She’s made me appreciate the non-people book cover so much more…

Anywho, Southern Complications sounds wonderfully drama-filled. I loves me a good drama. So, basically, this chick Tess is living all kinds of black girl magic: dream job, home, and man. Or so we think because it can’t all be that gravy if a stranger pulls up on you and makes you rethink your whole existence. Right?

This…is the kinda drama I like reading. Sounds messy af, and ol’ girl is planning her wedding, nonetheless, when the sexy southerner turns her world upside down. Yeah, this is going to be a kindlelight (Yes, you read that correctly) and white wine adventure.

Happy reading!

New Release: The Ties That Bind Two

This post kills two birds with one stone: new release and author interview: SCORE!  Like me, many readers have been patiently waiting for the second installment of D.A. Young’s Ties That Bind series, and it’s finally here!

When book one dropped, I was surprised because this is so different than the sweet romances we’re accustomed to from D.A. So, being the nosy heffa that I am, I straight up asked. Enjoy this mini Q&A then head over to Amazon to check the series out!

MRJ: D.A., Welcome back to the blog! First off, congratulations! We last spoke (way)back in 2016 when you only had two books to your name (Sweet Obsession and New Beginnings.) Now, it’s almost two years later, and you’ve just released book #12!

DA YOUNG: It’s great to be back! Thank you so much for having me!

MRJ: The Ties That Bind is a three-part series that takes place over the course of 20+ years. What was the inspiration behind this series because this is very different for you?

DA YOUNG: New Mexico predominantly. It has some of the most beautiful, untouched, and unique scenery that I’ve ever seen. My sister and I were passing through on our way to a wedding in Louisiana and decided to postpone the trip for a couple of days to explore New Mexico. On our way to Taos, we were driving behind a large procession of motorcycles that took up both lanes. I was a little nervous because it was just us and them, but they let us pass with no problems, and it was interesting to see how well they coordinated to do it (hand signals used along with their signals). I was also fascinated by the women and kids traveling with the men, and that they all wore cuts which I called uniforms at the time, lol.

I remember thinking there was no way in hell you’d ever catch my straight-out-the- city-ass on the back of some man on a bike and what the hell would that even look like?! Personally, it couldn’t have been me, but I saw nothing but happiness in everyone’s expressions as we passed, honking our thanks and they waved as we drove by.

MRJ:  One of the things that attracted me, personally, to the series is that it takes place primarily in the 90s. I feel like that’s a forgotten decade, but I spent my formidable years, my 20s, in the 90s, and it was lit! Did writing a “period piece” so-to-speak come from a personal moment or time in your life?

DA YOUNG: It was my coming of age era and the start of motherhood for me. I love the 90s. and aside from the excellent R&B music and television shows it produced, it’s almost a forgotten era, yet so many bizarre things occurred. For instance, today’s my oldest son’s 24th birthday, and he teased me because in his baby book under current events, I wrote ‘Figure skater Tonya Harding hired a hitman to wack her rival Nancy Kerrigan in the knee’.

MRJ: How easy or challenging was it for you to write about dirty biker gangs and all the nefarious, unspeakable acts they commit in the name of the “club”?

DA YOUNG: At first I balked at the idea, but I think I’m okay with it now, lol. It’s an outlet for me to get creative, and I take it there just enough to get my point across. There are other authors out there who are masters at this — straight up hardcore, and kudos to them! I can only write my story my way. I’ve said from the beginning that this was going to be more than an MC series. All I can ask is that my process be trusted.

MRJ: Is there anything about Ransom and/or Billy you’d like to share with your readers that they may not have known or that we can expect to discover about them?

DA YOUNG: Billy is strong, loves hard, and will do what’s right no matter who you are or the circumstances. She’s a fighter but only if she considers something is worth fighting for. Most importantly, she’s only nineteen, so she’s yet to grow to her full potential.

Ransom isn’t just a biker. It’s time for him to fully explore his potential and options. As long as he stays away from the club, he’ll be fine.

MRJ: Is the door open for a possible spinoff after this series wraps up?

DA YOUNG: Maybe…

Wow! Thank you D.A. for your time and that eye-opening look into The Ties That Bind. Patiently waiting for book 3 and that possible spinoff…

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