Review Excerpts

Saturday, August 11, 2018


The first round of edits for Closing Montage is done. The nice part about it being such a short novella is there wasn't a whole lot to be done there. Or, more importantly, there weren't many moments that made me go "oh god, I'm such an idiot," which might be a first. We might be able to do a release date at the end of this month, so stay tuned for news on that front.

Despite the edits not being too extensive, I still had to, you know, sit down and actually do them. Which turned out to be a little more challenging than usual. My family (the four Landens, plus my parents) is on vacation and...well, it hasn't been our smoothest trip. My parents own the house, so at least we're not out any money, and we're still managing to have fun. But some of the highlights of things not going well include both the washing machine and the central air dying, the worst thunderstorms this area has seen in years, and me getting an order for a crapload of work for the day job that seriously made me want to cry when I first saw it. (Yes, I brought my work stuff with me. Yes, that sometimes sucks.) I'm probably missing some things, but I think those are the worst. It'll all be fine eventually, though. And at least the torrential downpour meant there wasn't a whole lot to do, and I knocked out most of my work the other day.

Somewhere in all of this, I'm also still trying to work on my current project. I at least wanted to finish the significant chapter I'd been working on before we left, but though I came close, it didn't happen for various reasons. One of the reasons it's an important chapter is because a lot of the second half deals with how the hero, the POV character, views the heroine/eventual love interest/whatever you want to call her. (I have decided to call her Natalie. :P )

In some ways, Natalie has been proving more tricky to write than I first anticipated. Most of the time, writers want readers to fall in love with our main characters, or at least like them. And likeability is subjective, of course. Characters can't be perfect people, or else they'll be unrealistic, but too many flaws can make them off-putting. It's a hard balance to achieve.

So, Natalie: she's outgoing, bubbly, and has some hidden and not-so-hidden talents. It's also pretty obvious right from the first chapter that she's not making great life decisions and is setting herself up for disappointment. I wanted that particular conflict to be set up right away, but at the same time, I don't want her to come across as overly childish or naive, especially considering her other traits. In other words, while she's perky and optimistic (maybe even "cute"), I don't want her to come across as a blithering idiot. There's a fine line there. And all this is complicated by the fact that we're seeing her through the main character's eyes, and I don't want readers wondering why he's attracted to her in the first place.

I'll get there. She'll get there. We'll all get there. Ironically, in the beginning of this current chapter, I wrote about the characters doing laundry, so they're already ahead of me on that front.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Life Imitating Art

This past Saturday was my birthday. I'm now 34 years old, so pretty firmly into adulthood by now. It sounds stupid, but sometimes I forget that being a responsible independent adult has its perks. Like, I'll think, "Oh, I wish I could (do whatever thing)" and then remember hey, wait a minute, I can! A cool event is happening in the city? LET'S GO! A funky end table that my mother wouldn't approve of? IT'S IN MY HOUSE RIGHT NOW! Granted, having kids has prevented total spontaneity (and, um, dangerous home decor), but still. Way better than being a teenager.

So, my birthday. And doing things. When I wrote Seductive Suspect, which is about a murder mystery weekend gone wrong, I was pretty much making stuff up as I went along. I'd never actually done something like that, but I'd heard enough about such events that I figured I could cobble together something realistic. Or at least believable.

I wrote the book. Went through submission, editing, release, promo, blah blah blah. And continued to think, "boy, it sure would be fun to go to a murder mystery weekend."

It finally hit me. WHY NOT? I'm an adult!* I started doing my research, and long story short, Mr. Landen and I spent the weekend in the Victorian mansion that served as the inspiration for the Haunted Mansion in Disney World and participated in the murder mystery events. It was super fun, we had a blast, and I definitely recommend it to anyone who's interested in that sort of thing!

In comparing it to the setup for Seductive Suspect, there were similarities and differences. We were all assigned characters and were supposed to act them out at the scheduled times. (Though I don't think the drunk guy from New Jersey ever fully grasped that....) We got information sheets before each round with what's going to be revealed, what should stay secret, etc. None of us was the murder victim, and although one character was the murderer, he/she isn't told that. We all stayed on site, some meals were provided, and there was a full bar. (YES!)

As for the differences between my real-life experience and what my imagination concocted -  when I first saw that this was in the middle of nowhere in Pennsylvania, I was imagining a secluded, creepy mansion. Nope. It's actually kind of a tourist-y little town, and the mansion is within walking distance to the main strip of shops and restaurants, plus some outdoor activities. I thought we'd have to be in character the whole time, but we actually had a good chunk of the day on Saturday to ourselves. (Mr. Landen and I browsed the shops, ate lunch, and went for a little hike in the woods.) All the clues came out during our discussions and roleplaying; no searching the mansion with a magnifying glass or anything physical like that, minus a little bit in the "murder" scene.

I got one of the biggest, most significant roles, so happy birthday to me. (Not the murderer, though!) The guy who runs the murder mystery part usually doesn't get the chance to spend a whole lot of time with the guests before having to assign parts, but he said that he's been doing it long enough that he gets a good read on people and usually does well. I would say for our group, he did a really good job and most of us fit our characters well. (Except for maybe drunk Jersey guy.) There were lots of laughs, fun in-character interactions, and we got to know each other a little bit outside of the mystery parts, especially during the special dinner on Saturday night. Mr. Landen had read some reviews online before we went, so he was forewarned that things get a little raunchy in the mystery story, but no one in our group seemed particularly offended. All in good fun!

Year 34 is off to a good start, and again, I highly recommend this place. If you go, tell Inspector Bob we say hello!

(*Yes, that link goes exactly where you think it does. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE GROUND!!!)

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Lazy Summers

I know today is the first official day of summer, but we've already had quite a few hot days up here in New York. (And just think, not long ago we were complaining about the brutal winter! We're all so predictable.) I've been plugging away on the WIP, but after a good start, I've lost some momentum.

I started thinking about previous years, and I realized that for some reason, I've never really gotten a lot of writing done during the summer. Going away on vacation is one part of it. I'd like to say getting out of the house and enjoying the warm weather is another part, but that would be a lie. (More on that later.) Maybe it's the former teacher in me, and summer is supposed to be the time to relax and take a break from more stressful things. Or perhaps it's just like my natural inclination to write at night, maybe I just do better in colder weather? :P

The way things have worked out the past couple years, though, is I've usually had something to edit over the summer. (I guess editors don't take the summer off!) At least it makes me feel like I'm doing something writing-related. The words always get onto the page eventually, but hopefully I can knock out quite a few before September rolls around.

And since I mentioned it up there, another contributing factor to me being too tired to write some nights is for various reasons, I've decided I need to be more active. A lot of my hobbies—like writing!—involve being plopped on a couch, and while I could get away with that when I was younger, I know I need to be moving more. I actually joined a gym/started taking fitness classes (Orangetheory, if anyone is interested, and I love it!), and have been scooting out early in the mornings for walks/jogs around the neighborhood whenever my schedule allows. I know it's good for me, but some days, I'm just tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiired and don't want to do anything but loaf around on the internet. If someone figures out a way to write and jog at the same time, let me know!

Friday, May 25, 2018

Promo - A Thorned Rose in the Sand, by Lea Bronsen

 It looks like the summer weather is here to stay in New York (right after we were complaining about it being so cold for so long, of course). To heat things up this Memorial Day Weekend, Lea Bronsen has a new release out, set in the Sahara Desert. There's sand, motorcycles, camels, and plenty of sizzling romance to go around. Check it out!

When life in a big U.S. city becomes too much, Stevie Jones decides to live her wildest dream – compete against the tough guys in a motorcycle rally across Morocco. But the real excitement is found away from the race track, in the shifting sands of the desert.

After his studies in London, Ragab has returned to the nomadic lifestyle of his Bedouin family and the majestic silence of the Sahara. He dreams of the perfect wife, until a beautiful but feisty biker stuck in a sand dune turns his quiet world upside down.

The girl screamed behind him. “Eeeeee!”

Too hard to resist. Until now, Ragab had had a difficult time respecting her privacy, but surely, a scream called for attention. What kind of a gentleman would he be if he didn’t check on a woman in distress?

He spun and found her kneeling on her jacket, nude and wet, arms outstretched in shock. He bit down a laugh. Yes, the deep well water was cold, but one got used to it, and in the extreme heat of the desert, it was a blessing.

She turned, caught him staring, and even though he couldn’t see anything inappropriate, she hurried to cover her breasts and pubic area. “Look away!” she shouted, voice panicky.

The laugh bubbled inside him, but he obediently turned back to the motorcycle—then stood in such a way he could see her reflection in one of the side mirrors.

Oh, it was like watching a porn scene. Her long, red curls hung wild over her back and round, white butt cheeks. Every time she moved, a portion of her breasts appeared in the space between her ribs and arms. Such perfect feminine curves, all over. Imagine if he saw the front…

Blood rushed to his groin. Stiffening, bothered, he tore from the sight, walked over to the well, and leaned against its waist-high wall, hoping the hardness of the bricks and coolness from the water below would temper his arousal before it became a full-blown erection.

So silent…

He strained to hear.

Splashes. Muffled squeals. More splashes.

He turned slowly and stole a glance from the corner of his eye.

She washed her panties and black top in the bucket and leaned forward to spread them in the sun. Her position exposed the dark pink lips of her sex, from the tiny hole in her butt to the end of her slit, where her clitoris hid.


Shocked to his core, he turned back and groaned low, his cock hardening again.

He closed his eyes, drew long, slow breaths to calm the painful throbbing and counted minutes, trying to think of something else.

His dromedary, for example. It would be cool to show her how to ride it. What if he rode another one, and they both galloped on the dunes together, she laughing, ecstatic…

Then they’d roll in the sand, and he would tease her thighs apart and slide his hungry hardness into her dark pink lips, to the wet bottom of her. Oh, yes.

She called, “Ready?”

He risked a glance in her direction.

Wearing one of his sisters’ dresses and looking divine with her red curls floating behind her—and her face white and clean—she strolled to the motorcycle, carrying a bag and her clothes. She stuffed everything on top of the fuel tanks, got up, lifted the dress to her knees, and started the motor.

Not once looking at him.

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About the Author:

Lea Bronsen likes her reads hot, fast, and edgy, and strives to give her own stories the same intensity. After venturing into dirty inner-city crime drama with her debut novel Wild Hearted, she divides her writing time between psychological thriller, romantic suspense, and dark erotic romance.

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