‘An Unexpected Blessing’ of recommended romances

"An Unexpected Blessing" by Unoma Nwankwor.

Join me every week as I share a few shout-outs on romance author goings-on, related events and recommended reads.

An Unexpected Blessing by Unoma Nwankwor.

Author Unoma Nwankwor debuts with An Unexpected Blessing, “a novel of love, forgiveness, and being open to God’s plan.”.

What it’s about (courtesy of KevStel Group):.

Personal banker Feranmi Adewunmi has done well for herself in diaspora by any standards. But by her parent’s calculations, she should be married by now. And they had the right man for her. For Feranmi, being single wasn’t a crime and so she came up with the perfect plan to beat them at their own game. All she needed was a man.

CEO of Montgomery Construction Alex Montgomery was back in Atlanta. His primary focus was rebuilding his business after an unfortunate incident in Chicago changed his life forever. A chance meeting with Feranmi turned that plan upside down. The pain she caused him in school was still fresh in his mind but so were the feelings that never died. Now she needed a favor…Will they lean on the Lord for guidance or insist on being in control? Will his guarded dark past confirm her fears? Or will love prevail the second time around?

Reading An Unexpected Blessing there is an instant recognition of Nwankwor’s ability to capture and convey the emotional complexities, both in the story and within the characters. She instantly makes you care about Feranmi and her plight, about Alex and his fears, about the cast of friends who are this couple’s biggest supporters.

Nwankwor adds more depth with the cultural nuances that could be a roadblock or a gateway to understanding. She expertly intertwines all of these elements, including faith lessons, to make a tightly woven story for a reader’s enjoyment.

Bruised by Stacy-Deanne.

What it’s about (courtesy of Sugar and Spice Press):.

When Baltimore Homicide Detective Lisa Swanson and her partner Dee Quarter are called to investigate the murder of Ernest Juarez, Lisa meets Jake Jenson, a man in a wheelchair who’s determined to find his best friend’s killer at all costs. Jake is instantly attracted to the standoffish Lisa yet can’t understand why Lisa keeps him at arm’s length.

What Jake feels is resistance toward him, is really Lisa’s distrust of men caused by a previous relationship centered on domestic violence. Lisa desperately searches for Ernest’s killer while fighting her feelings for Jake and trying to mend the pain from her past.

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Stacy-Deanne writes this quick suspenseful whodunit with lots of romantic sizzle between the lead characters, Jake and Lisa. These two have a lot to work out and to work on, but the start to what they have between them is touching and special — thanks to Stacy-Deanne’s creative touch.

Bruised, despite the brutal inciting incident, is a really fun read, and a fast one, as the pace never sags. A great array of suspects take center stage, each more memorable than the last. Stacy-Deanne kept me guessing to the end.

Bounce by K.M. Jackson.

What it’s about (courtesy of A Rivers Hill Press):.

Growing up as a young girl, Sabrina Jacobs could only dream her life would be this good. She has a successful career, a famous sexy husband, two children, a house in an affluent Westchester suburb and a shoe collection worthy of a magazine spread. Too bad it’s all a façade.

It has been almost a year since her husband admitted he had an affair with a younger and bouncier coworker. Follow Sabrina as she tries to rein in her out-of-control life by kicking her husband out on his rear, chucking her career and even firing her too-cute-for-the-job nanny. But how will she survive as a stay-at-home mom in the land of designer clothes, designer kids’ parties and designer babies? Hmm… Maybe the hunky young French teacher, who has been flirting shamelessly with Sabrina, is just what she needs to take her mind off her problems. Well, not if her husband has something to say about it. Will Sabrina be able to forgive and still be true to herself?

K.M. Jackson, writer of Seduction’s Canvas, takes a step into women’s fiction with a family fracturing at the seams. This is Sabrina’s story, told in her point of view, with the pain, angst, and emotional quandary at full blast.

With a sensitive touch, and an expert hand, Jackson leads the reader into a world that matches our own, into lives that could be ours, into problems that we’ve heard or experienced. The story had a real touch that can be appreciated. In so doing, the author engages the reader for their full investment of seeing Sabrina get her life back, maybe not at the same place, but ultimately at some forward point in time. Great book club pick.

Tripping Prince Charming by Ey Wade.

In Tripping Prince Charming, Ey Wade uses a creative way to tell the story of friends Ivy Gardiner, Carmella Candy and Lillie-Rose McIntyre. Written in acts, the interconnected stories introduce the three princes who hope to win the hand of their one and only true love. With music specifically selected for each phase of the courtship, Wade takes us on this creative romantic journey of thrills, disappointments, and ultimate happiness. Read and cheer for your favorite couple. This is truly a modern-day fairy tale for the romantics at heart.

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Thelma and Louise? Nooooo. It’s writer BFFs Phyllis Bourne and Farrah Rochon.

Michelle: How did you become friends?

Farrah: Phyllis and I didn’t officially “meet” until we were both included in The Holiday Inn holiday anthology for Leisure Books, but she actually became an inspiration to me well before. I first learned of Phyllis Bourne, the writer, at the 2005 Romance Writers of America conference in Reno. As an unpublished author, I made it a point to attend every publisher spotlight. In the Dorchester Publishing spotlight one of the editors asked for all Dorchester authors to stand, and there stood Phyllis, representing everything I wanted to become. She truly inspired me.

As we planned our promotion for The Holiday Inn and, a couple of years later, went through a harrowing experience with our former publisher, we became sounding boards and understanding ears for each other. I feel so lucky to have someone like her who I can run to when it’s time to celebrate and when I need to vent.

Phyllis: I first met Farrah online while planning promotion for our novellas in The Holiday Inn anthology back in 2008.

We didn’t meet in person until a year later at a conference. Farrah was manning the editor-agent appointment desk and there were open spots. At the time, I was in a career slump. Still, I felt too beat down to talk to an editor or agent and told Farrah there was no way I’d even consider it. She promptly signed me up for three appointments. She also personally pushed me through the meeting room door for each one to make sure I didn’t chicken out.

I left those meetings hopeful, but most of all touched by Farrah’s support.

Farrah’s also down-to-earth, smart and just plain fun to be around.

Michelle: What is a fun memorable event as writer buddies?

Farrah: Hands downs, it was watching Phyllis become the first African-American author to win the Georgia Romance Writers of America’s prestigious Maggie Award. I booked my reservation the same day she found out she was a finalist because I knew I wanted to be there if (when!) She won. And it was worth it. To see her on that stage thanking our former editor, the late and brilliant Monica Harris, brought tears to my eyes. It was such a precious moment.

Phyllis: Farrah and I have had some great brainstorming sessions, and I love hanging out with her at conferences. However, my absolute favorite moment is the morning she called to tell me her book I’ll Catch You was a finalist for the Romance Writers of America’s RITA Award.

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She was excited. I was excited. Our happy squeals could probably be heard between our homes in Tennessee and Louisiana. I smile every time I think about it.

Michelle: How important is a writer friend in the writing business?

Farrah: I truly could not imagine doing this without my writing friends. Writing a novel is an isolated endeavor, and I enjoy the solitude when I’m in my creative zone and it’s just me and the story. But the writing is only one part of it. A writer friend will be there for you when the business side of writing drives you crazy, or when your manuscript falls apart and you just want to give up. That’s when a writer friend is worth their weight in fine chocolate.

Phyllis: I can’t imagine being in this business without writer friends. They understand writing a novel is only one percent talent, and the other ninety-eight percent is very hard work.

Their faith in you is just as strong when every single word is a struggle as it is when your book is ranked No. 1 on a list.

Michelle: Pick a book by the other that you would personally recommend and why.

Farrah:Sweeter Temptation! Sweeter Temptation! Sweeter Temptation! Can I make it any clearer? I absolutely adore this book, probably because I am a sucker for a good “stranded/forced confinement” story. In Sweeter Temptation, not only are the hero and heroine stranded in a snowstorm, but there’s also lots of candy. Candy and sexy hero, what else do you need?

Phyllis: I am hooked on Farrah’s Moments in Maplesville series. I enjoy the fictional town of Maplesville nearly as much as the characters in the books. I’m always eager for a new book in the series to come out so I can revisit my favorite small town.

The second book in the series, A Little Bit Naughty, is my current favorite. It’s funny, romantic and very sexy!

Michelle: What is your wish for 2014?

Farrah: I’ve been very blessed with a readership that continues to grow. My wish for 2014 is that I continue to write stories that readers want to read. I’m lucky enough to have my dream job, there’s not much else I can wish for.

Phyllis: I wish for tons of good books on my Kindle and time to read them all.

I’m also looking forward to March. Farrah and I both have new Harlequin Kimani releases that month, and I can hardly wait to see our books side by side on store shelves!

Michelle: Ladies, I look forward to also seeing those books on the shelves. Here’s to your continued successes and wonderful friendship.

Michelle Monkou celebrates her upcoming Kimani February release, One Of A Kind, available for pre-order at major retailers and online. Her website is michellemonkou.Com. Or join her Facebook page.