Tag Archives: romance

Abridged Book Review: A Warrior’s Passion by Margaret Moore

I’m always a sucker for great historical fiction, but I’m the first to admit that these kind of covers often make me wonder just what I’m getting into when I blindly grab something off the shelf. A Warrior’s Passion by Margaret Moore was not a disappointment. The characters likable (except for the ones who were terrible and weren’t supposed to be likable), and the setting was fascinating. I always love traveling back in time, and the author did a great job of sending me there!


Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keepingand The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Please consider using my links to do your shopping and help me out at no extra cost to you!

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Abridged Book Review: Midnight Bayou by Nora Roberts

I know, another Nora Roberts. What can I say? They’re good! Midnight Bayou has magic, history, murder, and romance, all in a fantastic New Orleans setting. It’s yet another page turner from Roberts, and I was happy to have picked it up!


Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keeping and The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Please consider using my links to do your shopping and help me out at no extra cost to you!

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Abridged Book Review: Beguiled by Susan Spencer Paul

Historical fiction is always fun. There’s something great about romance that doesn’t involve cell phones or social media! In Beguiled, the characters have an even harder time communicating since the main female character Lillian can’t even speak. This was a great tale of an arranged marriage (with some intrigue, action, and mystery thrown in). The author did a great job of showing the depths of the two characters and building the tension between the two of them. It was very enjoyable!


Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keeping and The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Please consider using my links to do your shopping and help me out at no extra cost to you!

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Abridged Book Review: Body of Evidence by Patricia Cornwell

I’ll be honest. I picked up Body of Evidence by Patricia Cornwell at a yard sale this summer. Yard sales are some of my favorite ways to find books, and I definitely wasn’t disappointed this time! It’s an engaging read with excellent character development and a thoroughly built setting. Was it a good idea for me to read a book about a murdered writer when I was home alone at night? Probably not, but I just locked the windows and kept reading!

Though this is the second in the series, it served perfectly well as a standalone novel. Even better, it made me want to read more! Luckily, I picked up a few other books at that same yard sale!


Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keepingand The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Please consider using my links to do your shopping and help me out at no extra cost to you!

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Abridged Book Review: Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher

Wow! If you want to find yourself completely transported to a new place and into other people’s lives, then I can’t recommend Rosamunde Pilcher’s Winter Solstice enough. I was absolutely gripped by this book, and I can’t even say that I minded reading a wintery book in summer! Pilcher manages to create so much atmosphere with the little details in life, executed perfectly so that you barely know it’s happening. I’ll definitely be grabbing her other books to try out as well.


Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keepingand The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Please consider using my links to do your shopping and help me out at no extra cost to you!

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Abridged Book Review: Homeport by Nora Roberts

If you want to know a lot about art restoration or art theft, then I highly recommend Homeport by Nora Roberts! The characters are well-developed, revealing not only their own internal arc but all the family history that turned them into what they are. The story is surprisingly fast paced considering many of the scenes take place in a museum. 4 stars!

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keepingand The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Please consider using my links to do your shopping and help me out at no extra cost to you!

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Book Review: Summer Pleasures by Nora Roberts

Roast me if you will, but I’ve just finished another Nora Roberts book. I’ve ended up with quite a few of them on my shelf after various library sales and book stashes that friends have passed on to me, and even though it’s winter I picked up Summer Pleasures.

What I Loved: While sometimes I don’t like the idea of putting two novels into one volume (because I’m impatient and finishing a book makes me feel like I’ve achieved something), it does work quite well for a lot of NR’s books. She has so many of them that it’d be impossible to locate only two novels with crossover characters.

As with any of her other books, Roberts is simply a master of romantic tension. The characters’ desires are all laid out in front of us very close to the beginning, but they relentlessly struggle until they finally let themselves have what they always wanted. Anyone who thinks that’s not realistic might never have been in love before.

What I Didn’t Love As Much: These were written back in the 80s, and while I love the fashion references and the lack of cell phones, there are some things that just don’t age well. One is that almost every Nora Roberts book I’ve read includes a scene in which the man grabs the woman by the arms and shakes her. To shake some sense into her? To display his masculine passion? If some guy shakes me, this romance is gonna turn into a murder mystery.

Unfortunately, there were some typos. It’s not enough to make me put the book down, but it’s a shame to see from a big publisher.

Rating and Review: Overall, Summer Pleasures is an easy read that delivered just what the title promised. 4 stars.

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keepingand The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

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Book Review: The Reef by Nora Roberts

A fun and exciting adventure of a romance, The Reef is one of those novels that proves romance isn’t purely about human relationships.

From the Cover:  Tate Beaumont has a passion for treasure-hunting. Over the years, she and her father have uncovered many fabulous riches, but one treasure has always eluded them: Angelique’s Curse—a jeweled amulet heavy with history, dark with legend, and tainted with blood. In order to find this precious artifact, the Beaumonts reluctantly form a partnership with salvagers Buck and Matthew Lassiter.
 
As the Beaumonts and Lassiters pool their resources to locate Angelique’s Curse, the Caribbean waters darken with shadowy deceptions and hidden threats. Their partnership is placed in jeopardy when Matthew refuses to share information—including the truth behind his father’s mysterious death. For now, Tate and Matthew continue their uneasy alliance—until danger and desire begin to rise to the surface…

What I Loved:  I grabbed this book randomly from a shelf practically groaning with used books I’ve acquired over the years.  In fact, I had one of my kids randomly pick it for me because I just couldn’t decide.  It turned out to be a great choice.

The Reef dives into the world of treasure hunting, unraveling the tale of the Beaumonts and the Lassiters as they search for the ultimate treasure buried beneath the sea.  While of course boy-meets-girl is the main arc of the plot, there’s simply so much more that’s going on here!  Family history, old and new tragedy, gain and loss are all wonderfully told over the beautiful backdrops of the sea and sun.  The details that help paint the scenery and the background are a lot of what makes this book a real winner.

What I Didn’t Love:  Honestly, there’s not much!  I think I’d have preferred a slightly different ending, but I can’t say that I was unhappy with it.

Rating and Recommendation:  The Reef could be a great summer read or just one that makes you feel like it’s summer.  If you’re not sure about romance as a genre, The Reef just might change your mind. 5 stars.

Have you read The Reef or another book by Nora Roberts? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keepingand The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

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Great Words to Use for Romance

Are your love scenes feeling a little deflated? Can’t seem to figure out why your characters are in the room together in the first place? Romance is often dismissed as being cheap or poorly written, but those of us who actually read (or write!) in the genre know that’s not always the case! Sometimes it’s difficult to build all the required emotional tension between two characters, and great words can have a great impact.

I’ve seen some advice out there that says if you have to use a thesaurus, you’re probably doing something wrong. I respectfully disagree. I think great words can be truly inspiring, and they can really help bring a scene to life. Feel free to use this list to give your scene the ol’ razzle dazzle, and check out my other helpful posts on my Writers’ Resources page.

Got a word that you think should be on here? Leave a comment below and let me know!

Abandon

Abundant

Accommodate

Agony

Alive

Angle

Anticipation

Athletic

Arching

Awe

Beast

Bewitch

Blazing

Bountiful

Brawny

Bubble

Building

Burgeoning

Burning

Buzzing

Caress

Carnal

Cascade

Celebration

Cherish

Claim

Cling

Compelled

Complete

Contract

Copious

Crave

Crest

Curl

Curving

Damp

Dazzling

Delicious

Delight

Delirious

Desire

Desperate

Dimension

Dissolve

Dream

Drugged

Eager

Echo

Edge

Enticing

Entranced

Evaporate

Excitement

Exquisite

Fascination

Feline

Fervent

Fire

Firm

Flooded

Floodgate

Flush

Generous

Gifted

Glide

Glimpse

Glittered

Glowing

Growl

Guttural

Heady

Heat

Heaven

Hell

Honey

Hunger

Ignite

Impact

Indulgent

Infatuation

Inspire

Instinctive

Intrigued

Juncture

Languorous

Lavish

Luxurious

Linger

Loiter

Marrow

Meaty

Melded

Melt

Mesh

Mindless

Muscular

Nestle

Passionate

Playful

Plentiful

Pliant

Plunder

Possession

Power/Powerful

Provoke

Pulse

Pulse point

Quake

Quest

Quiver

Ragged

Raw

Recesses

Regret

Relief

Respond

Reverence

Rioting

Ripe

Roughened

Rugged

Rush

Savor

Secret

Seductive

Shimmer

Shiver

Silk

Simmering

Sizzle

Skim

Slid

Soar

Soften

Spiral

Splay

Steady

Strength

Stroke

Stunning

Subtle

Surrender

Swelling

Swirl

Tame

Tease

Tempt/Temptation

Tense/Tension

Tighten

Tingle

Torment

Torture

Trap

Tremble

Trusting

Tumble

Vanish

Velvet

Virile

Vision

Vulnerable

Warm

Weak

Welcome

Whirl

Whisper

Wild

Yield

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keepingand The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

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Contemplations on Romance as a Genre

I did a book review a while back on a Nora Roberts book. Someone left a rather snide remark on the shared post on my Facebook page, basically saying I was wrong for enjoying the book. I’ve thought about it a lot since then.

Romance as a genre is often thought about as smut for lonely moms that’s poorly written. I’ve caught myself thinking the same as I read for research. (Despite my passion for dragons and fantasy, most of my freelance work involves ghostwriting romance.) I’ve got plenty of books on the shelf from library book sales or that have been passed on by friends, and I dove into them expecting them to be terrible. I’ve actually found there are some really great stories between those cheesy covers.

Obviously, there’s got to be sort of appeal to the boy-meets-girl story. Even in action movies, the guy has to get the girl at the end, right? I personally find Die Hard to be an incredibly romantic story.

Perhaps the problem isn’t with romantic notions but in marketing. Current romance covers have changed quite a bit, no doubt in an effort to be appealing as a thumbnail for digital purchases. Shana Galen‘s books are an excellent example. I admit I always found the classic covers to be pretty amusing, with Fabio’s hair blowing in the wind and a simpering woman in a gauzy dress groveling at his feet. It’s corny, and it invites potential readers to judge the book by its cover. But hey, if you’re looking to get swept away by a romantic story, I guess that cover says it all!

I think we could also tackle the rather unhealthy relationships that are, well, romanticized in the genre. A couple who doesn’t communicate well enough to admit they’re crazy about each other can’t really have a happily-ever-after, can they? And why wouldn’t any reasonable woman run screaming for the hills when the man who’s so interested in her is known for being dangerous, either physically or mentally? I’ve thought a lot about whether romance creates unrealistic expectations. It might, but I think it’s also important for us to consider that real-life people aren’t perfect. You’ll find any number of people in the world who are bad with money or lose their temper or who suck at communicating or who leave their dirty socks on the floor, and yet they still manage to find The One. Maybe the romances we’re reading about are just far more relatable than we’d like to admit.

If you’re offended by the romance genre because of the sex, then I suggest you sell your television, cut up your library card, and trade your smartphone in for an old-fashioned flip phone. It’s everywhere. I’ve seen ‘worse’ stuff in music videos than I’ve read in some novels. In fact, most romance novels are about the emotional connection instead of explicit bedroom scenes. Sex is used as a marketing tool for men all the time, so what’s the problem if it’s marketed toward women? Would a cheap romance novel be an unacceptable marketing tool for a woman who has a lot of cooking and cleaning to do?

I certainly don’t have all the answers on this, but it’s something to think about. If you think romance novels are terrible, you might want to read a few and give them a fair shake. (Suggestions below) If you have read them and still hate them, then maybe just scroll along and let someone else enjoy the genre. It isn’t as though romance is going away any time soon!

For historical romance, try Shana Galen and Susie Murphy.

For something more modern, Nora Roberts is always a good start.

For fantasy romance, try Susan Carroll or J.R. Ward.

Who’s your favorite romance author, book, or series? I’d love to know!

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keeping and The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

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