Book Review

Book Review: Hang the Moon by Alexandria Bellefleur

In a delightful follow-up to Written in the Stars, Alexandria Bellefleur delivers another #ownvoices queer rom-com about a hopeless romantic who vows to show his childhood crush that romance isn’t dead by recreating iconic dates from his favorite films…

Brendon Lowell loves love. It’s why he created a dating app to help people find their one true pairing and why he’s convinced “the one” is out there, even if he hasn’t met her yet. Or… has he? When his sister’s best friend turns up in Seattle unexpectedly, Brendon jumps at the chance to hang out with her. He’s crushed on Annie since they were kids, and the stars have finally aligned, putting them in the same city at the same time.

Annie booked a spur-of-the-moment trip to Seattle to spend time with friends before moving across the globe. She’s not looking for love, especially with her best friend’s brother. Annie remembers Brendon as a sweet, dorky kid. Except, the 6-foot-4 man who shows up at her door is a certified Hot Nerd and Annie… wants him? Oh yes.

Getting involved would be a terrible idea—her stay is temporary and he wants forever—but when Brendon learns Annie has given up on dating, he’s determined to prove that romance is real. Taking cues from his favorite rom-coms, Brendon plans to woo her with elaborate dates straight out of Nora Ephron’s playbook. The clock is ticking on Annie’s time in Seattle, and Brendon’s starting to realize romance isn’t just flowers and chocolate. But maybe real love doesn’t need to be as perfect as the movies… as long as you think your partner hung the moon.

So, I loved Written in the Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur. It is a sapphic retelling of Pride & Prejudice full of some of the most fun tropes in romance. Enemies to Lovers? Check! Fake dating? Check! Cheekily named characters that are straight from classic literature? Check!

I love Bellefleur’s writing style and how each and every single one of her characters has a unique voice. After I finished Written in the Stars, I learned that she was publishing Hang the Moon, a sort of sequel. It involves the same characters, but it’s actually Darcy’s brother’s love story.

Firstly, I’d love to point out that Bellefleur’s LGBT+ representation is always spot on! Annie is a bisexual woman, and one thing we tend to see in stories where a bisexual (pansexual, etc.) character is in a hetero-passing relationship, so essentially their sexuality is erased. That is not the case in Hang the Moon! Annie is an openly queer woman who just so happens to like a CIS-het white male character.

Secondly, Bellefleur has such a fresh voice and take on typical romance tropes. She basically took the plot of The Taming of the Shrew but made it romantic. Where 10 Things I Hate About You was all about making bets and stuff in order to woo the closed off seemingly-bitter in love character, Hang the Moon frames Brendan’s attempts to convince Annie that love is worth it by actually showing her love and affection. Brendan is a hopeless romantic, and it is so refreshing to see a male character in a romance novel who believes in love and grand gestures and all of that.

By the time I got to the steamy bits, I was madly in love with both of these characters. Yet again, Bellefleur has knocked it out of the park. If you’re looking for a wonderful contemporary romance, this is definitely a must read!

The third novel in this series, Count Your Lucky Stars releases in February of 2022, and stars yet another member of this friend group–Margot! I can’t wait to read it!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Thanks for reading,
Abbie

Guns & Smoke, Writing

Guns & Smoke Blog Tour: All the Ups and Downs (Guest Post)

Please be sure to check out the original post here!

Welcome to my stop on the NBtM virtual book tour for Guns & Smoke by Lauren Sevier and A. Smith. This book tour was organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. On my stop, I have an excerpt from the book as well as a helpful guest post from the authors. There’s also the tour wide giveaway for a chance to win a $20 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card. Be sure to follow the rest of the stops on the tour for more content. Enjoy!–

Title:Guns & Smoke
Series:The Fool’s Adventure #1
Authors: Lauren Sevier & A. Smith
Publication Date: July 10th 2021
Print Length: 374 pages
Genre: Dystopian Western Romance
~In a world where safety is a luxury and honor is found only among outlaws, two people attempt to outrun danger lurking around each corner and the tragedies that define them.
Bonnie is an outlaw on the run. Beautiful but dangerous; her dark past stalks her like the crater beasts that roam the desert. As the notoriously cruel outlaw Jones sends his henchmen to track her down and retrieve the gun she stole from him, Bonnie hopes she can stay one step ahead. Because if he catches her, a fate worse than death awaits.
Jesse always dreamed of leaving the farm to explore the ruins of the big cities. He just never imagined he’d be forced to flee after strange men burned down his rural mountain town and murdered everyone he loved. Responsible for his kid brother and searching for an uncle he’s never met before, he isn’t sure he can navigate the perils of life among con artists and thieves long enough to find him.
Their two paths collide as they find themselves thrown together on the adventure of a lifetime.
Together, they may just discover that life is about more than just surviving.

Goodreads * Amazon * Apple Books *Barnes & Noble * Book Depository *Books-A-Million * Bookshop *Half Price Books *IndieBound * Kobo

BOOK TRAILER:
Watch the book trailer below or by clicking here!



EXCERPT:“I didn’t mean what I said earlier, about turning you over to Sixgun. I was just…” He struggled for the words.
“Hurt?” I offered, and he nodded. “I know. I have a talent for pushing people away.”
“I still shouldn’t have said it,” he muttered near my ear, his arm tightening around my shoulders to hold me closer.
“Do you really think I’m stupid?” I asked.
“No, I think you’re the smartest person I’ve ever met,” he said, with all the conviction with which he said everything else. I smiled against his shirt. “Did you really climb into my bed because you thought I was upset about the train?”
“No,” I croaked, hiding my face as best I could. “I don’t have nightmares when you hold me.”
“I don’t have nightmares when I hold you either,” he admitted.
So I let him. I let him hold me all night. We didn’t speak, we just leaned against each other until the sky began to lighten and the shadows of our pasts seemed to fade into the distance.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

Lauren Sevier & A. Smith are long time friends and co-authors from southern Louisiana. Guns & Smoke, their first joint publication, began as a “short” story after having too much wine on girl’s night. Nine years later it is now the first novel in a Dystopian/Western Romance series. The duo has plans to publish several series together in the future. A. Smith spends her time with her two rescue dogs and rescue cat surrounding herself with books and Labyrinth paraphernalia.  Lauren Sevier collects antique tea cups and tries to stay sane, though as the mother of a toddler she fails brilliantly most days. She also has a growing collection of crowns and tiaras and likes to act silly on TikTok. Look for more thrilling novels from The Fools Adventure series in the future!

LAUREN SEVIER’S LINKS: Website * Amazon * Facebook *Goodreads * Instagram * Twitter * YouTube
A. SMITH’S LINKS:
Website * Amazon * Goodreads *Instagram * TikTok * Twitter

GUEST POST:– Share writing advice to aspiring authors – what are three things you wish someone would have told you?

Abbie:
Read. Read read read. Read everything that you can get your hands on. Read every single book that you can think of, because you never know what you will learn from it. This doesn’t apply only to fiction, but also non-fiction. Find craft books! I’ve read more craft books in the last year than I ever have in my life and it has definitely made a difference in my work.

Remember to give yourself a little grace in everything. You are only one person, and this business can get incredibly overwhelming. Be sure you’re taking time for yourself, and that you allow yourself the chance to breathe. I get very overwhelmed at times, and I just have to remember that it’s okay if I need to take a step back.

Don’t write to the market. The market is always changing. Something you write right now may not be popular in a year or two by market standards. Write stories that you love, that you are passionate about, that set your soul on fireGuns & Smoke is a dystopian that we started when dystopian was super popular, but it’s the story and the characters that have kept us connected, and why we chose to publish it, regardless of what the market says is popular.-

Lauren:
I love this question! I think the first thing I would tell aspiring authors is that Imposter Syndrome is a myth. It doesn’t exist. Well, not really. See, the reason we get ‘imposter syndrome’ is because we care so much about getting our books exactly right. We get in our own heads about not being good enough, original enough, technically brilliant enough and start to feel like an ‘imposter’. *whispers* But I have a secret. Imposters don’t feel that way. They fake it. They don’t do the work or agonize over comma placement or plot points. So ‘imposter syndrome’ is only felt by people who are categorically not imposters. When I realized that I was able to finally finish my first solo book and gain so much confidence in myself that I pursued publication, and I’m not ever going back.

The second piece of advice I have is that comparison is the enemy of success. There are tons of stories that are similar thematically, in execution, or structurally, but what makes them special is the unique voice that story is told in.

Lastly, don’t ever lose the joy of it. If this is a business to you, I understand. But the minute something goes from being art to being a job, it’s really easy to lose the joy of creation and artistic expression. Make sure you take the time to slow down and enjoy the process. It’s beautiful and I hope you never forget that.

Book Review

Book Review: These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling

Hannah’s a witch, but not the kind you’re thinking of. She’s the real deal, an Elemental with the power to control fire, earth, water, and air. But even though she lives in Salem, Massachusetts, her magic is a secret she has to keep to herself. If she’s ever caught using it in front of a Reg (read: non-witch), she could lose it. For good. So, Hannah spends most of her time avoiding her ex-girlfriend (and fellow Elemental Witch) Veronica, hanging out with her best friend, and working at the Fly by Night Cauldron selling candles and crystals to tourists, goths, and local Wiccans.

But dealing with her ex is the least of Hannah’s concerns when a terrifying blood ritual interrupts the end-of-school-year bonfire. Evidence of dark magic begins to appear all over Salem, and Hannah’s sure it’s the work of a deadly Blood Witch. The issue is, her coven is less than convinced, forcing Hannah to team up with the last person she wants to see: Veronica.

While the pair attempt to smoke out the Blood Witch at a house party, Hannah meets Morgan, a cute new ballerina in town. But trying to date amid a supernatural crisis is easier said than done, and Hannah will have to test the limits of her power if she’s going to save her coven and get the girl, especially when the attacks on Salem’s witches become deadlier by the day.

Isabel Sterling’s delightful, suspenseful debut is equal parts sweet romance and thrilling mystery. With everything she loves on the line, Hannah must confront this murderous villain before her coven–and any chance she has with the new girl–is destroyed.

One of my favorite things in the entire world is witches. I was raised watching Charmed and being obsessed with the Salem Witch Trials. I think that The Covenant is one of the most underrated films of all time. One of the series I’m working on is centered on witches in New Orleans. So, to no one’s surprise, when These Witches Don’t Burn crossed my social feed, I just had to get my hands on it.

The witches were what got my attention, but the LGBT+ elements were what made me know I had to read it. There are so few LGBT+ YA novels out there that don’t center on coming out. I know that coming out is really important to capture, especially for young adults that don’t quite know where they stand on the LGBT spectrum. However, it’s refreshing when that isn’t the main story.

These Witches Don’t Burn is a refreshing story about Hannah, a young witch fresh out of a breakup with her first girlfriend, on the cusp of adulthood. Mix in mysterious elements like Blood Witches and Witch Hunters, magical powers, new love, and exploring a world in which you have to hide your magic, I was sold.

Because I read so much, the twist didn’t really surprise me, but I was pleasantly surprised by who the true villain was.

I won’t give a lot of plot away, but just know that this story has a lot of heart. It is the first in a series, and I really enjoyed reading it. I haven’t been reading a lot of YA lately, so this was a refreshing read. If you’re looking for something with positive LGBT+ representation and a lot of magic, definitely be sure to check this one out!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Thanks for reading,
Abbie

Writing

Guns & Smoke Blog Tour: Viviana MacKade (Interview)

Please be sure to check out the original post here!

I discovered this genre with Kat Ross, and I look forward to keeping reading in the genre with this book.

Guns & Smoke (The Fool’s Adventure Series Book 1) by by Lauren Sevier and A. Smith will release on July 1 in the Dystopian/Western Romance genre.https://read.amazon.com/kp/card?preview=inline&linkCode=kpd&ref_=k4w_oembed_JO4coRlxtDjdy8&asin=B08RW6JNGG&tag=kpembed-20

In a world where safety is a luxury and honor is found only among outlaws, two people attempt to outrun danger lurking around each corner and the tragedies that define them.

Bonnie is an outlaw on the run. Beautiful but dangerous; her dark past stalks her like the crater beasts that roam the desert. As the notoriously cruel outlaw Jones sends his henchmen to track her down and retrieve the gun she stole from him, Bonnie hopes she can stay one step ahead. Because if he catches her, a fate worse than death awaits.

Jesse always dreamed of leaving the farm to explore the ruins of the big cities. He just never imagined he’d be forced to flee after strange men burned down his rural mountain town and murdered everyone he loved. Responsible for his kid brother and searching for an uncle he’s never met before, he isn’t sure he can navigate the perils of life among con artists and thieves long enough to find him. 

Their two paths collide as they find themselves thrown together on the adventure of a lifetime. Together, they may just discover that life is about more than just surviving.

“I didn’t mean what I said earlier, about turning you over to Sixgun. I was just…” He struggled for the words.

“Hurt?” I offered, and he nodded. “I know. I have a talent for pushing people away.”

“I still shouldn’t have said it,” he muttered near my ear, his arm tightening around my shoulders to hold me closer.

“Do you really think I’m stupid?” I asked.

“No, I think you’re the smartest person I’ve ever met,” he said, with all the conviction with which he said everything else. I smiled against his shirt. “Did you really climb into my bed because you thought I was upset about the train?”

“No,” I croaked, hiding my face as best I could. “I don’t have nightmares when you hold me.”

“I don’t have nightmares when I hold you either,” he admitted.

So I let him. I let him hold me all night. We didn’t speak, we just leaned against each other until the sky began to lighten and the shadows of our pasts seemed to fade into the distance.

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Lauren Sevier & A. Smith are long time friends and co-authors from southern Louisiana. Guns & Smoke, their first joint publication, began as a “short” story after having too much wine on girl’s night. Nine years later it is now the first novel in a Dystopian/Western Romance series. The duo has plans to publish several series together in the future. A. Smith spends her time with her two rescue dogs and rescue cat surrounding herself with books and Labyrinth paraphernalia. Lauren Sevier collects antique tea cups and tries to stay sane, though as the mother of a toddler she fails brilliantly most days. She also has a growing collection of crowns and tiaras and likes to act silly on TikTok. Look for more thrilling novels from The Fools Adventure series in the future!

What is the inspiration behind the characters?

As co-authors, we have specific characters that we each write.

Lauren: Bonnie is such an absolute joy to write. She’s wholly the product of her environment and through the years the more I discovered of her, the more we discovered about the world at large. As for inspiration, I think she comes from a place rooted in my experience as a woman. The frustration of feeling like I have to soften my words so that people will hear them. The irrational anger that I have for being constantly dismissed in professional settings. The way I feel as if I constantly need to prove myself simply because I occupy spaces in leadership roles being a woman. Bonnie doesn’t soften any of her unlikeable edges. She doesn’t flinch away from the hard topics. She takes what she wants and she doesn’t ask for permission. This makes her flawed in different ways than I am, which is always something interesting to write. But it’s also what I love the most about her character. That it’s her unflinching honesty and strength that makes Jesse fall in love with her. I love perpetuating the theme of strong, independent, sexually empowered women who don’t have to compromise who they are to find someone who will love them and not try to change them.  

Abbie: For Jesse, inspiration really comes from what I’d like to see in a male character. One of my concerns when it comes to the romance genre is problematic men. I get that dangerous men are sexy and interesting, but there’s also something really great about a strong, male character who isn’t afraid to show his feelings, who loves fiercely, and who believes in the ties that bind us–whether they’re familial or chosen bonds. When we started developing the world, I really liked Jesse’s perspective. Because he grew up in a pretty isolated place, he could see the post-Culling world through fresh eyes. This is a good way to help readers get acclimated to the world as well. Jesse is as much a part of me as I am. I first started developing him back in 2012, and he’s only grown more into the man I always hoped he would become. Jesse only continues to grow as time goes on, and he becomes the man that he needs to be by the end of Guns & Smoke.

Lauren Sevier:

Website: www.laurensevier.com

Youtube: www.youtube.com/c/laurensevier

Twitter: www.twitter.com/laurensevier

Instagram: www.instagram.com/laurensevier

Facebook: www.facebook.com/authorlaurensevier

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19812178.Lauren_Sevier

Smith:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/21041264.A_Smith

Website: https://abbielynnsmith.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/abbiewritesx

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/abbiewritesx/

TikTok: https://t.co/30D6MREJxk?amp=1

Newsletter: https://abbielynnsmith.com/newsletter/

Book Review

Book Review: The Crown of Gilded Bones by Jennifer L. Armentrout

She’s been the victim and the survivor…

Poppy never dreamed she would find the love she’s found with Prince Casteel. She wants to revel in her happiness but first they must free his brother and find hers. It’s a dangerous mission and one with far-reaching consequences neither dreamed of. Because Poppy is the Chosen, the Blessed. The true ruler of Atlantia. She carries the blood of the King of Gods within her. By right the crown and the kingdom are hers.

The enemy and the warrior…

Poppy has only ever wanted to control her own life, not the lives of others, but now she must choose to either forsake her birthright or seize the gilded crown and become the Queen of Flesh and Fire. But as the kingdoms’ dark sins and blood-drenched secrets finally unravel, a long-forgotten power rises to pose a genuine threat. And they will stop at nothing to ensure that the crown never sits upon Poppy’s head.

A lover and heartmate…

But the greatest threat to them and to Atlantia is what awaits in the far west, where the Queen of Blood and Ash has her own plans, ones she has waited hundreds of years to carry out. Poppy and Casteel must consider the impossible—travel to the Lands of the Gods and wake the King himself. And as shocking secrets and the harshest betrayals come to light, and enemies emerge to threaten everything Poppy and Casteel have fought for, they will discover just how far they are willing to go for their people—and each other.

And now she will become Queen…

I have to admit, ever since reading the A Court of Thorns and Roses series, I’ve been a sucker for Fantasy Romance. The Crown of Gilded Bones is the third of the Blood and Ash series by Jennifer L. Armentrout. You can check out my original review here. I’ll admit, I originally rated the first book a 3.5. I intended on doing a review for the second in the series, Kingdom of Flesh and Fire, but I never got around to it.

Out of all of the Fantasy Romance novels I’ve read since first reading this series, this is one of the best. Not only does she tie in amazing fantastical elements, but the heat is spot on. In any good romance, you want something to keep you hooked in, which can be difficult, especially when a couple has been together since the first book in the series. Armentrout is able to keep the heat alive between Casteel and Poppy and even steps it up a notch in The Crown of Gilded Bones.

My only complaint is that it felt like too much and yet nothing at all was happening plot wise, if that makes sense. I’ve found through this series that Armentrout has a habit of building, building, building, and then BAM, plot, the end. That did not change in this book.

That being said, if you love fantasy romance, definitely check out this series. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Armentrout is an amazing romance author. I just recently found out that her Wicked series is being turned into a TV show and that the story is set in New Orleans, so I ordered a copy!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Thanks for reading,
Abbie

Writing

Guns & Smoke Blog Tour: Lisa Haselton (Interview)

Please be sure to check out the original post here!

Bios:
Lauren Sevier & A. Smith are long time friends and co-authors from southern Louisiana. Guns & Smoke, their first joint publication, began as a “short” story after having too much wine on girl’s night. Nine years later it is now the first novel in a Dystopian/Western Romance series. The duo has plans to publish several series together in the future. A. Smith spends her time with her two rescue dogs and rescue cat surrounding herself with books and Labyrinth paraphernalia. Lauren Sevier collects antique tea cups and tries to stay sane, though as the mother of a toddler she fails brilliantly most days. She also has a growing collection of crowns and tiaras and likes to act silly on Tiktok. Look for more thrilling novels from The Fools Adventure series in the future!

Please tell us about your newest release.
Twenty years ago, the world went to hell. Government representatives were assassinated. Bombs dropped around the entire country. Millions died. Lawless chaos rose up. Those who remained in cities fell victim to gangs of madmen who seized control of the world, from trading to the agriculture industry to human trafficking for slave labor. Life became about surviving, and the American Dream evaporated. They called it the Culling.

Guns & Smoke is a story of the ones who were left behind.

Bonnie is an outlaw on the run from murderous gang leader, Jones, and his henchman, Sixgun. She’s on her way out of Vegas when she spots an attractive man who definitely does not belong. With his chiseled jaw and too trusting eyes, Bonnie decides she has time for one last con.

Jesse grew up in the relative safety of the north, isolated from the rest of the world after his parents escaped the Culling. When a fire engulfed his home and took his parents, Jesse fled with his younger brother in search of an uncle they’d never met.

Their two paths collide, sending them on the adventure of a lifetime. Together, they may discover that life is about more than just surviving.

What inspired you to write this book?
Guns & Smoke began as a short story where the two main characters, Bonnie & Jesse, are forced to flee together to escape a murderous outlaw–after Bonnie robbed Jesse at gunpoint (of course). We both love the dystopian genre in general. We wanted to have some modern elements (specific weapons, etc.) that weren’t exclusive to the western genre.. Additionally, Abbie spent a lot of time growing up with her grandfather, who is a fan of old westerns, which heavily influenced the themes and plot of Guns & Smoke.

Excerpt from Guns & Smoke:
One small change in position and now each of my soft curves was pressed intimately against the tall, hard length of his unyielding body. His blue eyes blazed in the dim light of the alley, reading something on my face that urged him on. This was supposed to be my trap.

His hands were buried in my hair now, a thumb tracing over my cheek to land on my bottom lip. I knew what he wanted. Parting my mouth, I wrapped my lips around the pad of his thumb, my tongue flicking against it before sucking softly. A deep thunderous sound rumbled through his chest to shake me down to my bones. His hand in my hair slid to the back of my head, pulling my mouth closer to his. He wanted me to kiss him. He wanted this to be more than a transaction. He wanted me to want him back.

I brushed my nose against his, and he stilled. All other motion and sensation forgotten as his eyes landed on my mouth, inching closer to his. I drank in the taste of his breath, a faint echo of the taste of his lips from before. My head tilted to the side, and he brushed the hair away from my face to see me more clearly as I angled toward him. He swallowed down whatever desperate words were on the tip of his tongue, and I took his chin in my hand, mouths open and millimeters apart.

Click.

What’s the next writing project?
Together, we just finished the zero draft of Guns & Smoke’s sequel, Leather & Lace. We have three books planned for Bonnie & Jesse’s story after Guns & Smoke, and an entire host of novels and novellas exploring the world.

Lauren’s next project is the sequel to her debut novel, Songs of Autumn, which was released in November 2020. Abbie is currently working vigilantly on editing a fantasy romance novel she wrote during NaNoWriMo in 2020.

What is your biggest challenge when writing a new book? (or the biggest challenge with this book)
Abbie: When writing a new book, my biggest challenge is working through the set up. I often have a strong start, then it tapers off until I hit the midpoint. Once I get to that midpoint, the story usually takes off and is really strong, but I find that I have to go back to the beginning of act two and really shape and structure things so that the story is coherent and well rounded from beginning to end. I also think I get impatient sometimes, and I really just want to see my main characters get together before I actually have to put in the work.

Lauren: Finding the time to write them. Between working full time in Cardiology, being a mother to an amazing (and exhausting) toddler, and working around my husband’s shifts as a first responder… it can be incredibly hard to carve out enough time to dedicate to writing, editing, publishing, etc. In a perfect world I’d be able to work on my books full-time, and that might be something that happens in the future, but for now I’m content putting out one or two high quality novels a year.

If your novels require research – please talk about the process. Do you do the research first and then write, while you’re writing, after the novel is complete and you need to fill in the gaps?
Most of our writing involves fantasy or dystopian elements that we create, which doesn’t require extensive amounts of research. For Guns & Smoke, we had to do a lot of research on weapons and specific locations in the southwestern United States. For example, the characters take a train in Arizona. We spent time researching train lines that run across the southwest to find out which stops might get them closest to their destination. Pair that with knowledge we already had from our experiences growing up in the south (Lauren is actually a pretty good shot and rides horses) and it was a pretty seamless process.

What’s your writing space like? Do you have a particular spot to write where the muse is more active? Please tell us about it.
Abbie: I have a library in my house, with my desk in front of a window that overlooks my backyard. While I think I could write just about anywhere, I find that my muse tends to be more active at specific times of day: first thing in the morning, as the sun rises, or very late at night when the world is quiet.

Lauren: I have a writing room in my house. It has my large antique bookcase, a double desk, lots of storage, and of course doubles as a video recording studio for TikToks, Youtube videos, and livestreams. It’s a mess most of the time, because my creative process is literal chaos. I love it because it has a set of French doors that lead to the covered front porch and let in a ton of natural light. It’s really spacious and easy for both of us to set up when we have in person ‘work days’ where I can still be close to my family and occasionally we get visits from my little boy.

What authors do you enjoy reading within or outside of your genre?
Sarah J Maas is an author we both enjoy reading. She does a really wonderful job of building characters and worlds, and crafting unpredictable stories that take your breath away. Abbie enjoys devouring books by authors like Alexandra Bracken, Sara Raasch, Stephanie Garber, and Marie Lu. Lauren will read just about anything, from Jane Austen to Leigh Bardugo. She reads extensively in YA Fantasy and YA fiction in general as market research for her YA Fantasy series, but is really eclectic with her reading. From craft books to literary novels to self-help.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers today?
Guns & Smoke initially started back in 2012, when we really didn’t know what we were doing. Over the years, we’ve spent a lot of time crafting these characters and building this world. It’s as much ingrained in us as the real world. We hope you love Bonnie, Jesse, and The Kid as much as we do.

Links:

Lauren:
Lauren’s website | YouTube | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Goodreads

Abbie:
Abbie’s website | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram | TikTok | Newsletter

Guns & Smoke, Writing

Guns & Smoke: LAUNCH PARTY!

We have such exciting news to share with everyone! We will be having a launch party for Guns & Smoke on release day, July 10, 2021! We have partnered with our local, independent bookstore Cavalier House Books, to host a launch event at Le Chien Brewery Company in Denham Springs, LA. If you are local to the Baton Rouge area, please go to the Facebook Event and RSVP to attend!

Party goers will be able to purchase copies of Guns & Smoke and have them signed during the event. There will also be food and drink available for purchase through Le Chien Brewery Company. It is so amazing that we’ve been able to bring together our independently published work alongside these two wonderful, small businesses!

If you cannot attend the event and would like a signed copy, Cavalier House Books is facilitating signed pre-order copies of Guns & Smoke! Please go to this link to order!

We cannot wait to share Guns & Smoke with the world! More information on it is below.

In a world where safety is a luxury and honor is found only among outlaws, two people attempt to outrun dangers lurking around each corner and the tragedies that define them.

Bonnie is an outlaw on the run. Beautiful but dangerous; her dark past stalks her like the crater beasts that roam the desert. As the notoriously cruel outlaw Jones sends his henchmen to track her down and retrieve the gun she stole from him, Bonnie hopes she can stay one step ahead. Because if he catches her, a fate worse than death awaits.

Jesse always dreamed of leaving the farm to explore the ruins of the big cities he’d heard about his whole life. He just never imagined he’d be forced to flee after strange men burned down his rural mountain town and murdered everyone he loved. Responsible for his kid brother and searching for an uncle he’s never met before, he isn’t sure he can navigate the perils of life among con artists and thieves long enough to find him.

Their two paths collide as they find themselves thrown together on the adventure of a lifetime.
Together, they may just discover that life is about more than just surviving.
 

As always, Thanks!
Abbie

Writing

Guns & Smoke Blog Tour: Christine Young (Interview)

Please be sure to check out the original post here!

  1. How did you come up with ideas for your books?

-Guns & Smoke began almost as a joke. One night, we decided to write a short story and it exploded into an entire world. Our work is very character driven. Once we had the two main characters and began to explore further, we realized that there was so much more to the world than the simple short story. We intend on exploring many aspects of this world from many different viewpoints, including characters that you see in Guns & Smoke, but don’t necessarily see their perspective in this book.

2. What expertise did you bring to your writing?

-We think what makes co-authoring such a unique and fulfilling experience is that we both have strengths and weaknesses that we’re able to balance out when writing, editing, and marketing our work. Abbie, for example, is very good at very technical things such as: graphic design, website design, html, proofreading, and so much more. Meanwhile Lauren is a great Developmental Editor and is very in touch with how to connect story and audience through marketing campaigns, theme development, and demographic research. While Abbie tends to be more organized, Lauren is able to shake up the structure of things enough to keep them interesting and the creativity flowing. It’s a marriage of opposites that surprisingly works really well.  

3. What would you want your readers to know about you that might not be in your bio?

-We’ve literally known each other since we were four years old. Part of why we think it’s so easy for us to work together is that we’ve been in each other’s lives since we could remember. We’re able to predict each other’s moods and basically read each other’s minds at this point. LOL! We didn’t start writing together until high school, when we dove into the world of Harry Potter fanfiction (Marauder’s Era, naturally). We learned pretty quickly how much we loved creating complex stories driven by sympathetic (or unsympathetic) characters. While Guns & Smoke was the first manuscript we completed together, back in 2012, we’ve written and will continue to write several series crossing genres and audiences in the years to come.

4. As far as your writing goes, what are your future plans?

-We have a long list of novels and novellas planned in The Fool’s Adventure series together that fall under the Dystopian Western Romance genre. We have at least two more worlds in which we plan to have series, one Dark Fantasy Romance and another in a Paranormal Romance. Additionally, both of us have our solo works. Lauren published Songs of Autumn in November of 2020, which is the first novel in her YA Fantasy series, Songs. Abbie has not yet published any of her solo works, but is working in the Fantasy Romance and Paranormal Romance genres. 

5. If you could be one of the characters from any of your books, who would it be and why?

-Abbie: There’s a character coming in Guns & Smoke’s sequel, Leather & Lace, that I absolutely adore named Savannah. She’s snarky and doesn’t take crap from anybody. She is fiercely loyal and when she loves, she loves hard. I’m excited for the world to get to meet her. 

-Lauren: *snort* Bonnie, of course. I love how strong she is. In fact, there are definitely times I wish I had half her bravado. She knows who she is, what she wants, and she’s not afraid to go after it. Those are qualities I admire so much about her. She doesn’t care if she’s liked, she doesn’t need to be liked. She just needs to be heard. She also has this tender, motherly, affectionate side that I feel reflected in myself. In short, she’s awesome, and I wish I could be just like her. Although, I don’t envy her tragic past. I could definitely do without that.   

6. When did you first decide to submit your work? Please tell us what or who encouraged you to take this big step?

-Originally Guns & Smoke was supposed to be a YA Dystopian novel and was written as such. Of course, it was originally written in 2012 at the height of the Hunger Games era. In fact, neither of us had ever even dabbled in Adult fiction at that point. It went through several iterations to get to this point. After a nearly four year hiatus (where the manuscript sat unfinished in a computer file gathering dust) Lauren wasn’t able to let the story go. She drafted a proposal, reviewed it from a Developmental Editing standpoint, detailed all the ways it needed to change, and sent it to Abbie praying that she would accept the suggestions and salvage the book. Spoiler Alert: Abbie thought all her suggestions were amazing. Exactly what was needed to take this story from gathering dust to being on shelves. The major change was the genre, going from YA Dystopian to Adult Dystopian/Western Romance. But once Lauren discovered the heart of the story, it was just a process of showing that heart on the page.

7. Do you outline your books or just start writing?

-We typically create a loose outline based on the three act structure! Abbie prefers to have a little more structure, so she tends to create a loose chapter by chapter outline, with the understanding that things can(and usually will) change along the way. We’ll have specific plot points that need to be addressed, but we usually leave enough room for discovery writing as well as changing major plot points as we see need. Lauren also loves throwing plot twists in randomly, just to keep things interesting 

8. Do you have any hobbies and does the knowledge you’ve gained from these carry over into your characters or the plot of your books?

-Lauren: So, fun fact, I rode horses growing up. In fact, I had a horse named ‘Goldie’ for many years and even participated in a rodeo. As one of three girls, my father did all the typical ‘little boy’ things with us. Fishing, Camping, Hiking, Shooting. So a lot of the content of the book comes from personal experience. At least when it comes to the parts where they’re ‘roughing it’.

-Abbie: Really one of the only hobbies I have is reading and books! I definitely write my characters in order to experience things I never have.

9. Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your book?

Yes, Guns & Smoke’s sequel, Leather & Lace, has already had its “zero” draft done. We anticipate releasing it in 2022. Lauren is in the process of releasing book number two in the Songs series. Abbie is currently working vigilantly on editing a fantasy romance novel she wrote during NaNoWriMo in 2020.

10. Can you tell us a little about the black moment in your book?

-The Black Moment in Guns & Smoke is when one of the main characters almost loses the other. They’ve spent all of this time together, braving the elements, escaping from murderous henchmen, and trying to battle their own trauma. When they’re finally at that point that they both realize they want to be with each other, one of them comes very close to being lost. We spent a lot of time developing this moment–as we call it the “cliff” moment. You’ll understand what we mean when you read it.

11. Can you tell us a little bit about what it was like to write a series.

-This is such a great question. Considering that when we started Guns & Smoke, it was supposed to be a short story, so we didn’t do a lot of building up front. As we’ve explored the characters and expanded the initial story, we realized that there was so much more we could do in this world. Initially, we saw The Fools Adventure series as a trilogy, with the first book establishing the world, the second establishing the enemies, and the third bringing the series to a close. Lauren is an amazing developmental editor, so she looked at the overall story arc and was able to determine that the series should actually be expanded into four books. Writing a series may seem daunting, but really, because we love this world so much, it’s easy. In fact, we keep coming up with ideas for other stories that we can tell in this world. Abbie loves writing series. She has a hard time limiting herself to stand alone stories because she falls in love with the characters and wants to explore them all fully. One of our strengths is being co-writers. So when one of us can’t figure something else out, we have someone to bounce ideas off of and usually those ideas spiral into other ideas. The possibilities truly are endless!

BLURB:

In a world where safety is a luxury and honor is found only among outlaws, two people attempt to outrun danger lurking around each corner and the tragedies that define them.

Bonnie is an outlaw on the run. Beautiful but dangerous; her dark past stalks her like the crater beasts that roam the desert. As the notoriously cruel outlaw Jones sends his henchmen to track her down and retrieve the gun she stole from him, Bonnie hopes she can stay one step ahead. Because if he catches her, a fate worse than death awaits.

Jesse always dreamed of leaving the farm to explore the ruins of the big cities. He just never imagined he’d be forced to flee after strange men burned down his rural mountain town and murdered everyone he loved. Responsible for his kid brother and searching for an uncle he’s never met before, he isn’t sure he can navigate the perils of life among con artists and thieves long enough to find him.

Their two paths collide as they find themselves thrown together on the adventure of a lifetime.

Together, they may just discover that life is about more than just surviving.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

EXCERPT:

One small change in position and now each of my soft curves was pressed intimately against the tall, hard length of his unyielding body. His blue eyes blazed in the dim light of the alley, reading something on my face that urged him on. This was supposed to be my trap.

His hands were buried in my hair now, a thumb tracing over my cheek to land on my bottom lip. I knew what he wanted. Parting my mouth, I wrapped my lips around the pad of his thumb, my tongue flicking against it before sucking softly. A deep thunderous sound rumbled through his chest to shake me down to my bones. His hand in my hair slid to the back of my head, pulling my mouth closer to his. He wanted me to kiss him. He wanted this to be more than a transaction. He wanted me to want him back.

I brushed my nose against his, and he stilled. All other motion and sensation forgotten as his eyes landed on my mouth, inching closer to his. I drank in the taste of his breath, a faint echo of the taste of his lips from before. My head tilted to the side, and he brushed the hair away from my face to see me more clearly as I angled toward him. He swallowed down whatever desperate words were on the tip of his tongue, and I took his chin in my hand, mouths open and millimeters apart.

Click.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Lauren Sevier & A. Smith are long time friends and co-authors from southern Louisiana. Guns & Smoke, their first joint publication, began as a “short” story after having too much wine on girl’s night. Nine years later it is now the first novel in a Dystopian/Western Romance series. The duo has plans to publish several series together in the future. A. Smith spends her time with her two rescue dogs and rescue cat surrounding herself with books and Labyrinth paraphernalia. Lauren Sevier collects antique tea cups and tries to stay sane, though as the mother of a toddler she fails brilliantly most days. She also has a growing collection of crowns and tiaras and likes to act silly on TikTok. Look for more thrilling novels from The Fools Adventure series in the future!

Lauren Sevier:

Website: http://www.laurensevier.com

Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/c/laurensevier

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/laurensevier

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/laurensevier

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/authorlaurensevier

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19812178.Lauren_Sevier

Smith:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/21041264.A_Smith

Website: https://abbielynnsmith.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/abbiewritesx

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/abbiewritesx/

TikTok: https://t.co/30D6MREJxk?amp=1

Newsletter: https://abbielynnsmith.com/newsletter/

Book Review

April Book Reviews

I didn’t get to read nearly as much in April as I did in the prior three months, but there’s a good reason! During the month of April, we went on our writer’s retreat and have knocked out almost the entire zero draft of the sequel to Guns & Smoke!

Queen of Nothing by Holly Black

I’ve heard a lot of praise for Holly Black’s Cruel Prince series. For a lot of people, it is the slow burn enemies to lovers story, and I completely see that.

I enjoyed the first two books, but I wasn’t sucked into them wanting to know exactly what was going to happen next. I finally figured out why whenever I started reading Queen of Nothing: Jude had emotions.

In Cruel Prince and Wicked King, Jude was kind of an unlikeable character. She was so intense all of the time, and the only time we saw her break down was when she was around Cardan. Because Cardan made her feel things.

I loved Queen of Nothing. My only complaint is that it was Young Adult. I really wanted to see this story but in the Adult genre, because there’s just something about the tension, the anger, the hatred, the attraction… Yeah. Give me a slow burn, but make me want it so bad by the end of it. Because of the YA constraints, I was slightly disappointed, but it was great as a YA novel.

All in all, if you’re looking for a good story with a really well done world, interesting protagonists (and villians), definitely check out this series! I haven’t read anything from Holly except for this, but I would definitely return to read more.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Seabird by Shawna Barnett

I received an ARC of Seabird through TikTok. This was pitched as the prequel to a sapphic pirate romance story, so I was immediately in!

Given that it’s a prequel novella, I knew that it wouldnt be a super long story but I found myself wanting more! The main character left me with a lot of questions about what’s to come in Windfall later this year.

Seabird was definitely a sweet discovery story for a young woman who is trying to figure out who she is in a world that she doesn’t fit in. There were a lot of details in the story about the main character that hinted at what I believe the bigger series will be about. Liana experienced an unexpected whirlwind romance over a summer when she was free and young. Though the climax of the story and the ending happened very suddenly, I feel as though there is a lot more to the story. I will definitely be checking out Windfall. I need all of the sapphic stories. F/F romance and pirates? Heck. Yes!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Flames of Chaos by Amelia Hutchins

I heard that Flames of Chaos was the next good read in the Dark Fantasy genre. Folks said it was better than Den of Vipers (as far as all of the consent stuff) and a really well done story.

I DNF’d at 33%.

First. There were tons of rapey consent issues. Secondly, it was all showing and no telling. I want to read about magic and mayhem and the steamy stuff. And yet… “I whispered a spell.” What’s the spell?

The first time she sees the love interest, she itches. You’re not supposed to itch when you meet the love interest. Just my thoughts.

Anyway, I’m tired of reading problematic books. And I’m going to continue writing consent in all of my own. Consent is important. Consent is sexy.

Rating: 0.5 out of 5.

I spent a good part of the month beta reading a manuscript for a friend on TikTok, which is why my number was low this month. But! She really appreciated my feedback and that made not getting to read as much worth it. 🙂

Happy May, y’all!
Abbie

Writing

Guns & Smoke: BOOK TRAILER!

In a world where safety is a luxury and honor is found only among outlaws, two people attempt to outrun dangers lurking around each corner and the tragedies that define them.

Bonnie is an outlaw on the run. Beautiful but dangerous; her dark past stalks her like the crater beasts that roam the desert. As the notoriously cruel outlaw Jones sends his henchmen to track her down and retrieve the gun she stole from him, Bonnie hopes she can stay one step ahead. Because if he catches her, a fate worse than death awaits.

Jesse always dreamed of leaving the farm to explore the ruins of the big cities he’d heard about his whole life. He just never imagined he’d be forced to flee after strange men burned down his rural mountain town and murdered everyone he loved. Responsible for his kid brother and searching for an uncle he’s never met before, he isn’t sure he can navigate the perils of life among con artists and thieves long enough to find him.

Their two paths collide as they find themselves thrown together on the adventure of a lifetime.

Together, they may just discover that life is about more than just surviving.

Guns & Smoke releases in paperback and e-book platform wide on July 10, 2021! You can preorder by clicking here!

Thanks for reading,
Abbie