Respond to Reading: The Promise He Made Her


I love Tara Taylor Quinn’s Where Secrets Are Safe Series.  It engages with social issues in a way that I think is unique to category romance – by allowing its readership to truly go to dark places, in the knowledge that they’ll be rescued by the end.

It’s powerful writing, and important too.

So what of The Promise He Made Her?

The blurb reads as follows:

A man of his word

Dr. Bloom Freelander thought it was safe to breathe again when Detective Sam Larson put her abusive ex away for good. She’s been moving on, running a private practice and providing psychiatry services to The Lemonade Stand women’s shelter. But now that her ex is a free man, she’s in danger once again.

Forced into protective custody, Bloom can’t help but fall for her protector. But she has every reason to doubt the handsome detective’s word. Sam broke his promise to her once. Who says he won’t break it again—along with her heart this time?

I loved this book.  Both the hero and the heroine are well-developed characters who seem so much more than a character in a book.

Bloom, our heroine, is pretty unique as romance heroines go.  She’s highly intelligent – a psychology expert – but she’s also a survivor of domestic abuse.  She’s been using her experiences to promote understanding about domestic violence, and she’s even been working with a domestic violence shelter.  Everything seems to be slotting slowly back into place.

But when the unthinkable happens, and her ex gets out of prison on a technicality, everything starts falling apart once more.

And there with her is our hero, Sam, the man who put her husband behind bars and promised her that he’d never hurt her again.  Sam’s fairly devastated by the turn of events; he can’t believe that he unwittingly broke his promise to this woman, so he gets back on the case, and takes her into protective custody.

It’s the little details in this book that make it great, like the fact that when the precinct can’t afford to put Bloom up, Sam takes her to the safest place he knows – his own home.  And the fact that we see these two fragile people working together, building a life together, without even realising that they’re doing it.

It’s a story full of heart – and one very adorable dog – that’s guaranteed to make you smile…and think.

Don’t take my word for it though; go read The Promise He Made Her, available now:

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Tara’s also got some fantastic offers and competitions going on at the moment:

On Tour with Prism Book Tours.

Other Books in the Series

Love by Association His First Choice (Where Secrets are Safe)

About the Author

The author of more than 70 original novels, in twenty languages, Tara Taylor Quinn is a USA Today bestseller with over six million copies sold. A 2015 RITA finalist Tara appears frequently on bestseller lists, including #1 placement on Amazon lists, and multiple showings on the Publisher’s Weekly Bestseller list. She has appeared on national and local TV across the country, including CBS Sunday Morning.

Tara is a supporter of the National Domestic Violence Hotline. If you or someone you know might be a victim of domestic violence in the United States, please contact 1-800-799-7233.

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Heart Stopping Tara Taylor Quinn Giveaways

THE PROMISE HE MADE HER TOUR GIVEAWAY75th Book Celebration Prize Pack (US only): Print book from the Where Secrets Are Safe Series, 75th Book Celebration US Tours swag, handmade bookmark (shown in image), and other goodies.
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Kindle Fire with Six Pre-loaded TTQ Books (books 1-6 from Where Secrets are Safe series)
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To Enter: Submit your receipt online for your pre-order or purchase of any of Tara Taylor Quinn’s six releases being promoted on her Heart Stopping Tour (Love By Association, His First Choice, The Promise He Made Her, Strangers in Paradise: Sheltered In His Arms, Sheltered In His Arms Audiobook, and For Love Or Money). Enter as many times as you purchase. One book purchase equals one entry (one receipt per entry and must be uploaded at time of entry).


1st Place: 25,000 Harlequin My Rewards Points – equivalent of 5 free books, reader’s choice of any book published by Harlequin/MIRA/Carina Press.
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Guestpost – Zara Stoneley

ZaraStoneley authorpic

What was your favourite thing about writing Country Rivals?

One of the most wonderful things about writing is that I can escape to another world – which is what I hope readers will do when they start to turn the pages. With Country Rivals (and all the Tippermere series) the best thing was immersing myself in Tippermere, the world-building was great fun, and naturally influenced the characters.

I could pick out the best bits from all the different villages I know and build the place I’d really love to live in. In Country Rivals the main emphasis is on the Tipping House Estate, but I have the whole village planned out – along with the neighbouring Kitterly Heath, home to Sam and her footballer husband (which features much more in the earlier books).

I’ve built relationships between the characters, but also between the places. When Lottie and Xander want to get away from the media I know that they can gallop to the outer edges of the estate and on to Folly Lake Equestrian Centre, where Billy lives.

Zara Stoneley Post 6 Tippermere

It is wonderful when you can completely immerse yourself in the lives of the characters in this way, when you can picture their homes, know which route they take to the village shop and understand just why Seb Drakelow was so keen to shoot his film in Tippermere.

To be honest, although this was probably my favourite thing about the book, I loved everything about writing it. The characters are incredibly real to me, and so are the animals – the mischievous dogs and temperamental horses. And I can practically hear the crunch of the gravel as Pandora steps out of her car and comes face to face with Lottie…



Country Rivals

‘A great treat for readers…jam-packed with sexy men and horses.’ Bestselling author Fiona Walker

Dashing eventer Rory is ready to button up his breeches and settle down. His gorgeous wife, Lottie, wants a bank balance in the black so she can protect the beautiful family estate for future generations.

But with the wedding business at Tipping House going up in flames, and rumours that it was arson not accident, Lottie begins to wonder who she can trust with her future.

Tranquil Tippermere is under siege as movies moguls and insurance investigators invade the countryside, and as events gather pace rescue plans start to look too good to be true, and intentions may not be as honourable as they seem.

As a moody, but definitely marvellous, polo player enters the fray and squares up to the eventing hero of Tippermere, does Lottie stand to lose her husband as well as her home?

You can buy ‘Country Rivals’ from Amazon or visit Zara’s website to see all buy links.

And you can grab the other Tippermere books (all the books can be read independently) here –  ‘Stable Mates’   –    ‘Country Affairs’    –     ‘A Very Country Christmas’ (FREE!)

Zara was born in a small village in Staffordshire, educated in Cheshire, and went on to study at Liverpool University. After a successful career as an IT consultant, she decided to follow her heart and ran a dog grooming business for several years before becoming a full-time writer.

Her fun, romantic, romps draw on her experiences of village life, and her various love affairs with dogs, cats and horses. These days if she’s not at her laptop, you can usually find her trudging across fields on foot, or sat on the back of a horse.

Zara divides her time between a country cottage in Cheshire and an apartment in Barcelona. Her most recent novels include the popular Stable Mates, Country Affairs and Country Rivals.

Find out more –

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Responding to Reading: She’s with Me

She's with Me

I’m a big fan of indie publishing company Less Than Three Press, who specialise in LGBTQIA romance.  I’ve been following the #WeNeedDiverseRomance hashtag for some time, and realised that I hadn’t actually reviewed any LGBTQ romances.  That ends now.

She’s with Me is a kinky, BDSM-lite erotic lesbian novella by Vanessa Cardui, which is more than a little of a mouthful, but is actually a skillfully crafted narrative.

The protagonists are Meeka and Izzy, her seemingly-straight best friend who’s just been stood up by her boyfriend.  What I really liked about the story is the fact that it’s all about exploration.  Cardui manages to capture the tentative way that Meeka feels, whilst appreciating that a girls’ night out can result in all sorts of situations, especially when alcohol’s involved.

There’s also order-giving, with Izzy discovering that she likes taking orders almost as much as Meeka likes giving them.  The balance between Izzy experiencing non-hetero  sexuality for the first time – particularly whilst she considers herself straight – with Meeka’s obvious feelings for her friend is just right.  The tone isn’t flippant, and nor is it painted as a crazy thing done whilst drunk.  I particularly liked the way that their emotions were interwoven with the sex, giving the erotica depth.

Responding to Reading: The Comics Edition

My comic book collection is rapidly expanding at the moment; partly as my other half treated me for my birthday, and partly because there’s something about the marriage of images and words that appeals to me.

I’m a little bit addicted to Image comics at the moment.  I fell across them because they publish The Wicked + The Divine by Jamie McKelvie and Kieron Gillen (of Young Avengers:  Marvel NOW! and Phonogram fame).


WicDiv (as it’s affectionately referred to by its fans) encapsulates pretty much everything I love about adaptation and appropriation.  Being more than a little obsessed by literature that rewrites mythos and classic stories, it suits me perfectly with embodiments of gods ranging from Baal to The Morrigan to Lucifer.

It’s set in London, has an incredibly diverse cast (as befits any work set in the capital) and examines the relationship between music and godhead, even going so far as to draw a parallel between celebrity and worship in a way that I haven’t seen done so well since Neil Gaiman’s American Gods.

From there I’ve expanded out, exploring other comics published by Image.

Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona StaplesSaga is one of these.


The first thing to say, is that Saga is not for the faint of heart.  The word “shit” appears in the very first panel and it deals with and illustrates pretty vividly violence and sex.  It’s also one of the most beautifully illustrated comics that I’ve seen in a very long time.

Image characterises the series as:  “an epic space opera/fantasy comic book series… [that] depicts two lovers from long-warring extraterrestrial races, Alana and Marko, fleeing authorities from both sides of a galactic war as they struggle to care for their newborn daughter, Hazel, who occasionally narrates the series”.

It’s moving, funny and complex with a sprawling narrative that’s tightly woven, despite its expanse.  I’m particularly in love with the depiction of novels in the series as redemptive, with A Night Time Smoke in particular being partly responsible for the bridge between the two protagonists.

I’m also a big fan of Rat Queens by Kurtis J. Wiebe.


Described by Wiebe as “a love letter to my years of D&D”, it plays with traditional characters with the gang of the Rat Queens comprising of a mage, cleric, fighter and thief – but each character has a twist.  The cleric is an atheist, the thief a hippy hobbit, the fighter a hipster and the mage an elf with a taste for all things rockabilly.

It’s incredibly funny and satirical, poking loving fun at tropes and storylines in a way that makes the reader complicit in its laughter.  The third volume’s just been released and I’ve already got it ordered!

And finally, I’m stepping away from Image to talk about Freakangels, the online lovechild of Warren Ellis and Paul Duffield.


“23 years ago, twelve strange children were born in England at exactly the same moment.  6 years ago, the world ended.  This is the story of what happened next.”

Freakangels is an online webcomic that was serialised from 2008 to 2011 and is still available to read online (although you can also buy the very nice trade paperback editions).  Post-apocalyptic, it follows the twelve eponymous Freakangels, working backwards and then forwards to show us what happened and what is happening in the the Whitechapel of this new London.

Mind-blowingly good, it’s definitely worth a read.

So, those are the comics that I’ve been reading of late, but I’m always looking for new recs, so feel free to fling some my way in the comments!

Respond to Reading: The Rogue Not Taken


I fell across Sarah MacClean‘s writing about two years ago, when I fairly devoured her Love by Numbers trilogy.  I loved the way in which she managed to write about strong women, without drifting away from the reality of a woman’s life in regency England.

So when I heard that she had a new series – Scandal & Scoundrel – I was rather excited.  The Rogue Not Taken, as well as being a fantastic name for historical, didn’t let me down.  MacClean’s ability to highlight the fragility of a woman’s reputation in the regency era is one of the things that lifts her romances up out of the crowd.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a romp where the heroine singlehandedly takes on society and wins as much as the next person, but they’re incredibly unrealistic.  The social disgrace and near ruination of a family, due to Sophie’s flouting of social graces, makes this a far more interesting read.

Sophie’s not the stereotypical heroine.  She’s stubborn, messes up a lot of the time, and the one time she acts without thinking, sets off a catastrophic series of events, and yet you can’t help but sympathise with her.  Her dilemma, as a young lady whose family were given a title, as opposed to having been born into one, seems heartfelt.  She’s got absolutely no wish to be in society, and can think of nothing better than returning to the home of her childhood and marrying the baker’s boy – especially when society is unmentionable cruel to her and her sisters.

Of course, she meets someone who purposefully spends his time scandalising society, and despite the fact that neither of them can stand the other, they end up being thrown together.

As a hero, King’s spent his life furious with his father for a tragedy in his youth and it’s coloured his attitude towards everything.  In short, he appears to be a bit of a dick.  There was a twist, towards the end of the book, that I really wasn’t expecting.  It set on its head an accepted regency romance trope, and forced King’s internal conflict to drastically change.  Suffice to say it was a genius move on MacClean’s part.

In fact, the whole book reads a bit like a social commentary on gossip columns of today; it made me think about celebrity, and in particular notoriety, and was so engaging that I can’t wait for the next book!

Respond to Reading: Good Guys Wear Black


Th final book in Lizbeth Selvig‘s Kennison Falls series, Good Guys Wear Black, is a fitting end to a series that I’ve loved (I even wrote about the heroine from Beauty and the Brit, Rio Montoya, in a piece earlier this year).

Once again, Selvig doesn’t shy away from thought-provoking topics and handles delicate issues with the deftest of touches.

There are two storylines that remain inextricably intertwined with the main romance narrative: that of Rose’s son, Jesse, and his struggle to adapt to life in a new town and school; and that of Banned Book week.

I’m going to start with Jesse.  He’s got Asperger’s Syndrome which is difficult to approach in any case, but Selvig’s appreciation for the struggles that both Jesse and his mother face ring true – particularly when you take into account the fact that there’s a lot of well-meaning but misguided advice being given by everyone from th hero to Jesse’s PE teacher.

There were a number of times when I had to check my own privilege when reading this; especially as coming from a teaching background in the UK where IEPs in education can be incredibly valuable.  I’d never stopped to think about the stress for both parent and student caused by having to sit tests that would only say the same things.

Either way, Rose’s clear bond and love for her son shone throughout the novel, and Dewey’s reaction to that was heartwarming.

And then there’s Banned Book week.

I’m irrevocably against banning books; if there are things you don’t want your kids reading, don’t let them read them.  That doesn’t mean that all books are suitable for all ages, but I do feel very strongly about freedom of speech.

I came up against myself in my brief stint as a school librarian where Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series were questioned by some parents as being suitable due to Pullman’s fairly staunch anti-religion sentiments.

It’s important to note here, that I was supported by a headteacher who stood by me wholeheartedly.  In the end, I moved the books from the Junior to Senior section of the library (bookshelves a full five feet across the room) and said that if students wanted to read them, no matter what their age, I’d let them (this was in a 11-18 school).

So when Rose, as new Head Librarian, is faced with a large group of angry members of a community she’s only just joined, due to celebrating Banned Books week, it’s pretty stressful for her and is dealt with by Selvig brilliantly.

Of course, it’s impossible to forget the blossoming romance between dewey and Rose.  I think it’s so easy to forget how external influences can have an impact on a new relationship in romance novels, but the educating of Dewey about Jesse, and his unwavering support of Rose over the library issues, made for delightful reading.

Respond to Reading: Lay It Down


Cara McKenna‘s Lay It Down has been sitting on my Kindle shelf for months.  Ever since her Irish-set Red Hot Cosmo novella, Her Best Laid Plans, I’ve all but devoured her standalones; they’re untidy and messy and more real than most romance novels.  I find my heart aching in the way it should when you discover something that mirrors life back at you.

So it’s a mystery to me why I hadn’t read this before now.  Perhaps it was because the cover and blurb implied that it was an MC-romance.  Don’t get me wrong, I adored Sons of Anarchy as much as the next person, but after the series was finished, I felt so utterly drained that I gave books featuring bikers a bit of a wide berth.

Big mistake.

Lay It Down is the first in the Desert Dogs series (the rest of which will be purchased with my annual Christmas kindle vouchers) and it does things you don’t expect.  The characters aren’t actually part of an MC, though they do ride motorbikes (something which can only be a positive; I do love a motorbike), but rather the narrative focuses in on a mysterious death.

The tone reminded me of Laura Kaye’s Hard Ink series, in that it marries gritty complex characterisation with a mystery in the best kind of way.

I’m fairly new to the subgenre of romantic suspense, and it turns out that I’m a big fan; when there’s higher stakes, everything seems so much more urgent.  And boy are things urgent here.

Mysterious deaths, what appears to be a near-conspiracy and a small town standing up to a big corporation – what’s not to love?

I also love Vince as a hero.  He’s not polished or backward in coming forward, and the stark truth and honesty that I see in him is one of the things I love most about my own partner.

Kim, as a heroine, made me look twice.  When we’re first introduced to her, an apparently out-of-place suit seen through Vince’s eyes, I wasn’t convinced;  I’m so used to the good girl meets bad boy trope that my heart sank a little.  this isn’t the case at all.  Kim’s not all that much of a good girl and Vince, for all his tattoos and motorbike-riding habits, isn’t really a bad boy.

Nothing delights me more than having my expectations upended, so this was great.

Also, there’s the mystery aspect of the narrative.  I want to read on.  I want to know what the hell’s going on and (this is where I stop talking for fear of spoilers).  It’s gripping and entertaining, but it’s McKenna’s teasing out of her characters – both main and secondary – that makes this shine.

Guestpost – Rachel Brimble’s Top Five #StrongRomnaceHeroines


There are so many strong romance heroines out there but here are my Top Five (in no particular order):

1)  Scarlett O’HaraGone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell


Gone With The Wind is one of my all-time favorite books (the only book I have read four times) and I often get into debates with my fellow romance readers/authors about her strength. Some find Scarlett too whiny and needy but, for me, she shows rather than verbalizes her strength. She overcomes horrors and difficulties that most of us (fortunately!) will only find in the pages of this wonderfully epic novel.

2)  Eve DallasIn Death series by Nora Roberts (writing as J. D. Robb)


Lord, how I love Eve! If you haven’t tried the In Death series yet, make it your mission to start reading this amazing series before Christmas. The books center around Lieutenant Eve Dallas and her ongoing relationship with millionaire, Roarke (not sure if anyone knows if this is his first name or surname!) Each novel brings a new case for Eve to solve and usually involves Roarke or someone she is close to in one way or another. There are a whopping 41 novels so far in the series…

3)  Elizabeth BennettPride & Prejudice by Jane Austen


I don’t know a romance reader on the planet who hasn’t read Pride & Prejudice and, for me, it’s Elizabeth Bennett’s strength, integrity and passion which makes this novel continue to sell year after year. A timeless romance, hero and heroine that I predict will live in our hearts and the hearts of future generations for many years to come.

4)  Josie O’CaseyA Glimpse At Happiness by Jean Fullerton


A Glimpse At Happiness is one of my most favorite Victorian romances and the reason I started to write in the genre. Josie O’Casey is a wonderful example of what makes a strong heroine and how they overcome the poverty of their circumstances. This book is about love over adversity, hope over pessimism. A truly gorgeous book and a truly fantastic heroine.

5)  Lucky SantangeloChances by Jackie Collins


Although Jackie Collins’ books aren’t strictly romance, there is usually a central relationship in her super-sexy stories. I discovered the first book Lucky appears in (Chances) when I was barely into my teens and went on to devour all the books she features in thereafter. A strong, feisty, no holds barred, kind of heroine who demands your attention from the very first page. Tremendous!

Rachel’s latest novel, Christmas at the Cove, has a trsong romance heroine of its own!


Rachel lives with her husband and their two young daughters in a small market town near the famous Georgian City of Bath.

And when she’s not writing you’ll find her with her head in a book or walking the beautiful English countryside with her family.  And in the evening?  Well, a well-deserved glass of wine is never, ever refused.

Find out more about Nikki and her books on her website; and follow her on her blog, as well as on Facebook and Twitter for regular, nature-filled, updates!

Guestpost – Kelly Hunter; What’s In a Setting?

Kelly Hunter promo pic small

After a decade spent writing category romance for the international marketplace, I’ve come to the conclusion that where I set a story has a rather large impact on how well that story sells. Choose a recognizable and appealing location, play to its strengths, linger longer on its unique beauty … and sale!

I should have just asked the real-estate guy.

But there are caveats when it comes to sales, be it within real estate or romance novels. Who you’re trying to sell to matters rather a lot. Are they familiar with your setting? Do they want the location you’re peddling?

Sometimes not.


Being an Australian author writing predominantly for UK and US markets, I regularly come unstuck in that the places I find fascinating and want to write about aren’t necessarily recognisable locations with widespread appeal. Can’t please everyone, I thought early on in my career—although as a romance author writing for a publisher with unparalleled worldwide distribution, it probably wouldn’t hurt to try.

Write to the market, yes. Test the market? That too, which is another way of saying “I don’t always want to write stories set in bestselling locations, so occasionally I’m going to write about some other place that interests me.” Occasionally, I’d wear the consequences of such tests—meaning poor sales and delayed entry into some of my bigger markets. I used to budget for it in that for every risky setting used, I’d write two other safe-set stories to go with it.

These days I set my stories far and wide, without any of the budgeting I once did. My reasons?

Stubbornness, obviously, along with enough financial security to allow a little leeway when it comes to sales. Markets changing, opening up, shrinking, and no crystal ball for any of it. Books go round a second, third and fourth time and meet a different market every time. It’s fascinating stuff. Above all, I want diversity in my romance reading mix, alongside familiar stories I know I’ll love. I’ll try anything once (twice, three times). And sometimes I’ll find a new favourite.

Bennetts Blog Promo

I’ve a series on sale in Australia at the moment, called the Bennetts. They were the ones who got me thinking about settings and market preferences and stories coming around again.

So what’s the series about?

One independent young woman, four overprotective older brothers, and settings ranging from London to Hong Kong, outback Australia, the Greek Islands and Singapore. The Bennetts are Australian by birth but the extended family they acquire is an international one.

Series order is:

  1. Wife for a Week
  2. Priceless
  3. Taken by the Bad Boy
  4. Untameable Rogue
  5. Red Hot Renegade

The first book in the series, Wife For A Week, is FREE on iBooks Aus and Amazon Aus.

Wife For A Week Aus e

Kelly’s career in science took her from outback Australia to the jungles of South East Asia before she turned to writing romance.

Thirty books in, and she’s received both industry and reader recognition for my stories. She likes the tight focus of short contemporary romance and it suits her attention span to write them. A lot of people ask if she’s ever going to write longer books. Maybe that’s next…

Find out more about Kelly hunter and her books on her website; and follow her blog and find her on Facebook and Twitter for regular, nature-filled, updates!


Guestpost – Kimberly Lang and the Small Town Romance


After fifteen or so books set in big cosmopolitan cities, it came as a bit of a surprise to some of my readers to find out the new series was set in a small southern town. Honestly, y’all, it was a bit of a surprise to me, too. But it’s been so much fun getting to know the people of Magnolia Beach.

I’ve been asked what attracted me to the small town setting, and after some serious thought I realized it was the same thing that attracted me to reunion and second-chance romances: the history.eal_us_cover

In a reunion romance, our hero and heroine are forced to face parts of their past they’d really hoped they’d get to forget. Whether it’s that unfortunate (but temporary) obsession with Adam Sandler or that strange thing you did to your hair that time, we move on and conveniently forget. Stupid things said and done and bad choices made can be filed away under “Lessons Learned” and we can believe we are no longer that person.

Hook up with your ex (like in The Girl’s Guide to Flirting with Danger and The Million Dollar Question) or even that person you went to school with and haven’t seen since (like in The Downfall of a Good Girl or Grace Felt the Heat), and you’re faced with the person who witnessed those questionable choices and may still see you as the person you were then. In a small town, that’s multiplied: everyone remembers those knee-high moccasins and the time you had to be pulled off the bar and sent home in a taxi. You may be forgiven, but it’s not forgotten, and while you may be an improved version of that younger person, it’s all still you.  It’s baggage you get to carry everywhere, all the time.


That history, those connections to the past and other people, are catnip for me. I love to explore the way characters handle that history — whether it’s the guy who’s still living his high school football glory days, the reformed wild child who’s moved on, the guy who’s never gotten over his high school crush, or the couple who’s passionate affair fizzled out and they’re okay with it. (Really. Stop asking. They’re just friends.)

Some do it gracefully; some don’t always handle it well. The same goes for the folks around them. But there’s always a story there, waiting to be told.

And that’s what brought me to Magnolia Beach. I hope you come to love the place as much as I do.

The first book in Kimberly’s Magnolia Beach series, Something to Prove, is out now, and she’s just released the One Little Thing novella!


Kimberly Lang is a USA Today bestselling author and Southern belle with a troublemaking streak. A former ballet dancer and English teacher, she now does yoga and writes the kind of books she always loved to read.

She’s married to her college sweetheart, is mom to the most amazing child on the planet, and shares her office space with a dog named Cupid.

Find out more about Kimberly and her books on her website; and follow her on Facebook and Twitter for regular, nature-filled, updates!