AUTHOR FEATURE | Alison Hammer

TONIGHT I am going LIVE with one of my favorite authors, Alison Hammer!

My ARC based virtual book club, loveARCtually was lucky enough to be the first book club to read her latest book, Little Pieces of Me [link to loveARCtually wrap up post] and it was SUCH an honor. After being among the first to read an advance readers copy, and having her join the club for our end of book chat, I just knew I had to share MORE about Alison and her incredible book!

About the Author:

Alison Hammer has been spinning words to tell stories since she learned how to talk. A graduate of the University of Florida and the Creative Circus in Atlanta, she lived in 9 cities before settling down in Chicago. During the day, Alison is a VP Creative Director at FCB Chicago, but on nights and weekends you can find her writing upmarket women’s fiction. Alison is represented by Joanna MacKenzie of Nelson Literary Agency. Her debut novel, “You and Me and Us” & her latest release Little Pieces of Me are both available from William Morrow (Harper Collins).

Website | Instagram | Goodreads | Twitter

Alison’s book launched this past Tuesday, April 13th & her launch party was EPIC – watch some of the replay on Alison’s instagram! I am honored she agreed to not only do a Q & A but go LIVE with me – she’s one of the friendliest, fun authors to talk to & I know you’ll all enjoy hearing what she has to say!

I LOVE your writing style with the dual POV – has this always been your approach to telling your stories? What is that writing process like for you?

Thank you! I love reading multi-POV stories, and I have fun writing them,too. I like being able to see the story from different sides, I think it creates a much richer, more complex and emotional story. 

With my first book, YOU AND ME AND US, the POVs were in the same tense and timeline, so I wrote the chapters as I wanted them to be read, alternating between the characters. 

For LITTLE PIECES OF ME, the POVs are in different timelines and tenses, so I wrote each one separately and then wove them together—which was not originally the plan. When I first wrote the book, I had it written in three parts: Part 1 was present day as Paige, my main character made the discovery about her DNA, Part 2 was back in 1974 when her mom, dad and DNA dad were in college at the University of Kansas, and Part 3 was back in present day as Paige was trying to process the news. My agent had the idea of blending the timelines together, and it made the book what it is today. 

Which character in Little Pieces of Me do you relate with most and why?

I’m not sure there’s one specific character that I relate to, but I do think they all have little pieces of me. I’m 42 and I live in Chicago and work in advertising, so I definitely have that in common with Paige, but I also see parts of myself in Betsy and even Andy. Maybe a little Maks, too.

I loved that you picked the University of Kansas campus as one of your settings, what made you decide on where the book took place? 

The location of the book has a lot to do with writing what you know, but I also had to consider the logistics of the locations. I live in Chicago, but I’m from St. Louis which is just a five-hour drive away, and I wanted Paige and her mom to be within driving distance of each other. While I graduated from the University of Florida, I went to school my first two years at the University of Kansas and I was a member of Sigma Delta Tau, the same sorority that Betsy was in back in 1974. Setting is not one of my strengths, so being familiar with the various cities and locations definitely help. 

I decided to set a few scenes in Naples, Florida because it was a city where I could imagine Andy Abrams living as an adult, and I’m also pretty familiar with it. Growing up, my grandparents had a condo in Naples, and we spent a lot of spring and winter breaks there. Fun fact: the hotel where my characters stay when they’re in town, The Edgewater Beach Hotel, is a real place—and when I was 8 or 9, I remember deciding that I would go there one day for my honeymoon. I thought it was epitome of luxury. 

How was releasing book 2 different from book 1 for you? 

There were a lot of differences between the launches of book one and book two—even though both were released during the pandemic, and I had to find ways to get a little creative with them both. 

For the launch of You and Me and Us, none of us knew what we were doing. It was only three weeks into the pandemic and I was just starting out as an author and didn’t know what to expect anyway, much less in a pandemic. With Little Pieces of Me, it still feels like I don’t know what to do or expect, but I had more time to plan and think about ways that I could try to make a difference in sales. Both were unique experiences with plenty of silver linings, but I will be thrilled if it’s safe enough to have an in-person launch event for my next book!

I know I mentioned her launch party – if you haven’t already ordered the book, make sure you head to grab a copy from the indie bookstores she’s partnered with HERE.

What are you hoping readers take away from this title?

I love this question, and it’s honestly one of my favorite parts about the book being out in the world—that I can hear directly from readers what they take away from the story and the characters. But there are two themes that I hope resonate with people.

The first is that our parents aren’t just our parents—they’re people with their own lives and identities and experiences and mistakes that happened before we were born. As children, we often think of our parents as “ours.” 

The second takeaway really connects with the title of the book. We tend to try and put ourselves in boxes and define ourselves with where we fit—our careers, our relationship status, our religion and so many other labels. But we aren’t any one of those things. Like Paige learns in the book, we’re not just our DNA. We’re that, plus our life experiences, and the people who love us and the people we love. They’re all little pieces of us. 

What’s NEXT? Anything you can share with us? 

So many things. It’s a little crazy how many projects I have going on and I’m not sure yet which one will be next. I have a book that I wrote for NaNoWriMo in 2018 called The Auntourage that has four friends dealing with the loss of one of their best friends the year before as they step up to help take care of that friend’s one-year-old son (I promise it’s not as sad as it sounds, and there is a little love story woven in!). 

I’m also working on a project with my friend, author and singer-song writer, Stephen Kellogg. We just finished the first draft last week, but I’m really excited about it. And I have another side-project I’m working on with my critique partner, Bradeigh Godfrey. We started writing romcoms together during the pandemic and are almost finished with our second one. We’ll hopefully have some exciting news that we’ll be able to share next week on our new Instagram account, @alibradybooks

Alison & I will be going LIVE on instagram tonight at 6:30PM, hope to see you there!

A huge thank you to William Morrow Books and NetGalley for providing me an eARC to read and review, as well as for providing the title to many of our club members! It opened up the opportunity to connect with Alison and her book!


Accidentally Engaged by Farah Heron

Thanks to Forever Publishing & NetGalley, I was able to read this incredible book back in December, and I have been gushing about it ever since! Today I’m sharing my full review with you in honor of Farah’s launch event TONIGHT, hosted by Belmont Books.

Title : Accidentally Engaged

Author : Farah Heron

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Publisher : Forever

Pub Date : March 2nd, 2021

Pages : 384

Reena Manji doesn’t love her career, her single status, and most of all, her family inserting themselves into every detail of her life. But when caring for her precious sourdough starters, Reena can drown it all out. At least until her father moves his newest employee across the hall–with hopes that Reena will marry him.

But Nadim’s not like the other Muslim bachelors-du-jour that her parents have dug up. If the Captain America body and the British accent weren’t enough, the man appears to love eating her bread creations as much as she loves making them. She sure as hell would never marry a man who works for her father, but friendship with a neighbor is okay, right? And when Reena’s career takes a nosedive, Nadim happily agrees to fake an engagement so they can enter a couples video cooking contest to win the artisan bread course of her dreams.

As cooking at home together brings them closer, things turn physical, but Reena isn’t worried. She knows Nadim is keeping secrets, but it’s fine— secrets are always on the menu where her family is concerned. And her heart is protected… she’s not marrying the man. But even secrets kept for self preservation have a way of getting out, especially when meddling parents and gossiping families are involved.

I may have reached my breaking point. As if trying to graduate from a school for supernaturals isn’t stressful enough, my relationship status has gone from complicated to a straight-up dumpster fire. 

Buy your copy HERE!

Sophia @the_unwined co-hosted this title with me for @loveARCtually & it was such a fun club read!

*** Beware, you’ll pick this one up & suddenly realize you sat down to start it & suddenly you’re finished, and craving ALL the bread, forever. ***

WHAT a great love story, and I could shout from the rooftops how much I adored this own voices, cultural tale that taught me plenty of new things about Reena’s Muslim culture and wanted me to try ALL of the incredible food they cooked up in this book. I may just be a boring heterosexual caucasian female, but love knows no color or sex and I am here to cheer on ALL the romances…. even if they might be a pretend engagement to the man your parents want to arrange you to marry. 

“Your father and my father just entered a business partnership together. And apparently…you and I are to be married.” He shrugged, one side of his lip raising slightly. “Surprise?”

Reena’s parents may want her to marry Nadim and live happily ever after in the version of her life they see, but she just wants to bake all the bread, forever. (my kind of girl, WHO doesn’t love bread?!) And who can blame her? She may be struggling with her career, but that doesn’t stop her from making it known what she wants and going after it. Encouraged by her endearing friends and even the sister she once felt betrayed by, this romance is full of heart and hope and SO much chemistry cooking up in that kitchen! 

While I had not read anything by Farah Heron before this book, I have to say I will be a fan for life. The contemporary romance had a flavor of fun, while keeping it a quick and engaging read with the witty wording & incredible character development. Reena and everything she wanted (or didn’t want) was so relatable and true to herself, it had me cheering her on in the cooking competition, in life and in love.

This was a title I loved so much, it was an absolute must pick for a club read for loveARCtually – we read this title as a buddy read early this year and we were so lucky to get to chat with Farah for our end of book chat! My lovely friend Sophia from @the_unwined cohosted the title and it was a member favorite for sure!

Want to see what some of our members thought of the book? Head over to see some of their reviews!

Accidentally Engaged is cute, funny and a gem. I laughed out loud so many times, I lost track. I loved Reena’s quirky personality, especially how she names all her bread starters. Her inner monologue is the best! Reena is also extremely relatable. I enjoyed her journey of self-discovery, figuring out her head and her heart, all while trying to buck her family’s pressure to settle down.

  • Check out Emma‘s Goodreads Review –

This book was anything but half-baked. Farah Heron expertly weaves together culture and romance while maintaining a well-proved plot. She also discusses mental health, familial pressure, and what it means to make a home for yourself. Overall a beautiful book that I couldn’t put down. Plus she includes recipes for some of the delicious food mentioned in the book which is a win in my book!

I can’t help the bread references, don’t be sour about it.

  • I loved Kenni‘s thoughts too –

I was very excited to read this ARC, and it did not disappoint! While I do not share Reena and Nadim’s culture, I do share in the experience of having this connection to my culture through food. Reading this book reminded me of how grateful I am to have that culture. Additionally, it was comforting to read about Nadim’s experience moving around (re: the quote above), as it felt similar to my own experiences of moving extremely often.

Our @loveARCtually end of book chat with Farah herself was SO much fun! Want to join in for one of our future club titles? Head HERE to sign up!

I cannot wait for tonight’s launch celebration hosted by Belmont Books – so excited to hear more from Farah & her incredible guests, Sonali Dev (Incense and Sensibility out July 6th!) and Roselle Lim (Vanessa Yu’s Magical Paris Tea Shop out August 4th!)

About the Author:

After a childhood raised on Bollywood, Monty Python, and Jane Austen, Farah self-rejected her writing career before jotting down a single word, despite admitting her ultimate fantasy was to be a writer. But when she could no longer keep the story arcs straight in her daydreams, she started writing a few years ago and never looked back. She writes comedic women’s fiction full of huge South Asian families, delectable food, and most importantly, brown people falling stupidly in love. Prior to writing, she had careers in Human Resources and Psychotherapy. She lives in Toronto with her patient husband, surly teenager, and delightful middle-grader, along with two gerbils, one hamster, one rabbit, and a fish named Silvia.

Website | Instagram | Goodreads | Twitter


Have you read any of Annie Rains books yet? Her most recent title, Reunited on Dragonfly Lane is the last in her longtime series, which just released on January 26th.

About the Author:

Annie Rains is a contemporary romance author who writes small town love stories set in fictional towns on the coast of North Carolina. Raised in one of America’s largest military communities, Annie often features heroes who fight for their countries, while also fighting for a place to call home and a good woman to love. When Annie isn’t writing, she’s spending time with her husband and 3 children, or reading a book by one of her favorite authors. 

Website | Instagram | Goodreads

I got to chat with Annie about her incredible Sweetwater Springs series ending, here’s our Q&A!

How does it feel ending a series as loved and wonderful as Sweetwater Springs?

Oh, wow. Well, first of all, thank you so much for the wonderful compliment. I’m thrilled that readers have enjoyed the series as much as they have. I truly enjoyed my time writing the books. It went by way too fast. I feel grateful that I got to write 7 full novels in the series (and 2 novellas) and I’m also sad that it’s time to move on. 

What inspired Sophie’s survivor story, are you a rock climber yourself? If not, what kind of research did you do to create this backstory for her?

Noooo, hahaha. If you saw my arms, you’d know I am not a climber. I have to hand jars to my husband to ask him to open them. My series is set in the mountains so climbing is an outdoor activity that I thought Sophie and Chase might have enjoyed together once upon a time. I researched a lot of climbing sites in North Carolina and blogs to the point that I feel like I could go climbing if I wanted to–but I have no arm strength and no desire 🙂 

The idea of Sophie’s Fairy Godmother’s Closet is such a strong message of hope and community in your book. What about that idea moved you and made it something you had to have in this book?

I have a friend in real life who sells beautiful clothing for a living. She created a place similar to the Fairy Godmother’s Closet in her church to collect gently used clothing for people in the community who needed to dress nicely for job interviews and work. That inspired me to have Sophie do the same. The folks in Sweetwater Springs have such a heart for giving and helping others in their community. I knew I wanted Sophie to do something out of her boutique so the concept for the Fairy Godmother’s Closet just grew from there.

Of course, we ALL love a puppy in the story, do you have pets yourself? 

I do. We have a rescue dog and cat. Our dog, Carter, is half chihuahua, half miniature pincher. Our cat, Spiral, was adopted from the local animal shelter last Christmas. She has been a welcome addition to the family. We spoil her silly.

What was your writing process like for Sweetwater Springs? Did you know when you started there would be 7 books — tell me a little bit about what characters you decided upon ahead of time, and which ones caught you by surprise!

Well, I pitched Sweetwater Springs as a 3 book series so I had Kaitlyn and Mitch’s story, Josie and Tuck’s, and Halona and Alex’s. After that, my publisher asked for 3 more, so I chose the hero and heroine as I went along. I could kind of see the next book’s hero or heroine pop up in the previous book and usually knew whose story was coming next. Luke, Jack, and Granger came really easy for me in books 4, 5, and 6. I didn’t really see Chase Lewis coming until book 7, but I wish I had. I would have liked to have teased my small-town veterinarian throughout the series, but hindsight is 20/20, right? I would say that Sophie Daniels in book 7 caught me by surprise too. She was in all the books, but I didn’t know her story until I sat down to write it. I had no idea that she had lived through a near-death experience or that there was so much depth to her. I found her story very rewarding and that was a great way for me to end the series. 

I love that you typically write dual POV with a male and female character — What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

I actually don’t find it very hard to write the opposite sex at all. The male POV is very different from the female POV though. The hero’s feelings are relayed primarily through internal thoughts whereas the heroine can think about her feelings and discuss them with her best friend at length. It’s easy to relay what’s going on with the heroine on the page, but the hero isn’t typically as open with what’s going on with his heart. So the challenge is showing how the hero is feeling through his actions.

Of all of your Sweetwater Springs titles, which was your favorite to write? 

I think my answer to this question changes depending on the day. I really loved writing all of the books for very different reasons. I really enjoyed writing Sunshine on Silver Lake because Jack Hershey was such a charmer. He charmed me the whole time I was writing his character and I wanted so much for him to win Emma St. James back. I loved Halona and Alex’s story too. That might be a close second for me. 

What can you tell us about your upcoming series? I cannot wait to read it!

My Somerset Lake series is also set in the mountain of North Carolina. I drew inspiration from Lake Lure, NC which is where Dirty Dancing was filmed. Somerset Lake is a small lakeside town full of quirky characters, nosy neighbors, and fun hotspots that I hope readers will want to return to over and over again just like they did in Sweetwater Springs. It’s a place of homecomings, second chances, new beginnings, and happily ever afters. The heroine of the first book in the series is actually a character from Sweetwater Springs so it’s a spinoff series in that respect. 

What are you reading right now?

I’m going back and forth between listening to Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center and Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune by Roselle Lim on Audible.

Who are some authors that have inspired you in your journey as an author?

Raeanne Thayne, Jill Shalvis, and Nora Roberts. In my early days of writing, I couldn’t get enough of Danielle Steele, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, and Nicholas Sparks.

A huge thank you to Forever Publishing for allowing me to read and review Annie’s latest book, Reunited on Dragonfly Lane in preparation for this Q&A – I have LOVED the Sweetwater Springs series! Head over to my review, and watch on Instagram for an upcoming giveaway!

BOOK FEATURE | Reunited on Dragonfly Lane by Annie Rains

Title : Reunited on Dragonfly Lane

Author : Annie Rains

Genre: Adult, Contemporary Romance

Publisher : Forever

Pub Date : January 26th, 2021

Pages : 347

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

In this romantic adventure, anything is paws-ible when a single shop owner makes a connection with her new vet.

Boutique owner Sophie Daniels certainly isn’t looking to adopt a dog the day veterinarian Chase Lewis convinces her to take in Comet. A rambunctious puppy with a broken leg may not be the best choice for a first-time pet owner. And house calls from the handsome doctor—her high school sweetheart who’s just moved back to Sweetwater Springs—may not be the best choice for her heart either.

Chase has come home to help his nephew but finds that he’s forgotten just how much he enjoys small-town life. However, sooner or later, he’s going to have to face the past and his unresolved feelings for Sophie. Now that Comet needs both their help, Chase is going to let the four-legged matchmaker work his canine magic. Then Chase will prove to Sophie that first love is even better the second time around.

Includes the bonus novella A Wedding on Lavender Hill

. . .

I can’t believe this is the END of Sweetwater Springs! I have totally fallen for Annie’s writing style in these last few books and will anxiously await whatever she decides to write next!

With lovable characters that pop up for cameos in many of the titles, and a charming town you can’t help but fall for this series has been so fun to read. Add PUPPIES on top of it, thanks to Chase being the town veterinarian and this one may have been one of my favorites in the series! 

Chase and Sophie are the second chance romance that book readers dream of, with a great backstory and even better future. I loved reading their story of growth, connection and romance! 

I loved how Sophie’s story came together as she dealt with the loss in her past, and how she overcame it, resulting in the heartwarming boutique she owns. A great cozy story that could be read as a standalone, but I highly recommend the entire series, this one got 4.5 stars from me! 

. . .

About the Author:

Annie Rains is a contemporary romance author who writes small town love stories set in fictional towns on the coast of North Carolina. Raised in one of America’s largest military communities, Annie often features heroes who fight for their countries, while also fighting for a place to call home and a good woman to love. When Annie isn’t writing, she’s spending time with her husband and 3 children, or reading a book by one of her favorite authors. 

Website | Instagram | Goodreads

Head over to my recent Q & A with Annie to hear what she has to say about finishing up this incredible 7 book series HERE.