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Author spotlight

Nothing Comes Close: A Review

One word: Riveting. Sometimes unsettling. That’s how I can best describe Nothing Comes Close – Tolulope Popoola’s sequel to her award winning series, now published into a novel –In my Dreams it was simpler.

Nothing Comes Close by Tolulope Popoola

Nothing Comes Close is the love story of Lola – the most outspoken and independent friend in a group of five girlfriends. The book touches on topics such as romance, loyalty, grief, and tolerance/acceptance of each other among friends who don’t necessarily see eye-to-eye on certain issues, for example, having relationships with a married man; or say, cheating on a boyfriend with an ex boyfriend. The highlight for me, however, was the story of Wole’s past. Wole is the male protagonist in the novel and is also Lola’s love interest. To make Wole’s story pull the reader’s heartstrings, Ms. Popoola did a very fine job of bringing into play a quite forgotten character in Nigeria’s history – Dimka – the man who led the abortive military coup against the then head of State of Nigeria, General Muritala Mohammed. I see many readers researching this important piece of Nigeria’s history as they read this book and I really appreciate the author’s effort in bringing that to the reader’s attention.

I couldn’t help but notice that the first quarter of the book started out mundane… even demure. And wham! At an innocent looking party, the reader gets to meet Wole, a truly unforgettable character and everything goes up several notches from there. Once Wole got on the scene, I could not put the book down. Seriously, nothing prepared me for the sharp suspense that pervaded the last three quarters of the book with the introduction of Wole – whom you can guess by now is my favorite character, and one who I’ll describe as the good-bad boy…the kind of guy every good girl should avoid but you still can’t stop yourself from falling for because deep down, you know he really has a good heart and wants the best for his girl.

It’s a wonder that Ms. Popoola hasn’t labeled her books as romantic fiction because it does seem that that’s where she’s headed with her ability of creating believable characters that readers will find themselves rooting for when it comes to that sometimes complicated life challenge of initiating and building love-relationships.

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Seun Odukoya’s The First Kiss: A Short Love Story

Happy Valentine’s Day! In honor of today, I planned to write and share a short romantic story based on the best love quotes I would receive for this season. However, I came across a love story over the web that I knew I had to share based on three things: It was short, sweet and totally relatable. Written by Seun Odukoya – the February featured Naija stories writer whose works are not just limited to romantic works, this short fiction reminded me of a poignant time, back in the days when I fell in love with the romance  genre.

Without further ado, here is “The first kiss’ by Seun Odukoya.  I’m looking forward to you enjoying this piece just as much as I enjoyed reading it too.

The First Kiss

The first time he kissed her, it was from across the office.

She rubbed her engagement ring, hard and was rewarded with a sparkle. Looking at it intensely, she tried conjuring up Jide’s face but it was Banji’s visage that kept popping up. Banji, the office jester. Banji, her friend since primary school. Banji, who had smiled and replied her declaration that she was marrying Jide, her present boyfriend with – “You won’t marry Jide, but I won’t force you to change your mind. I’m a patient man.  I waited this long. I can wait some more.”

He had walked away, leaving her trembling beside the photocopy machine. She looked up when she heard the door open to see him standing there looking at her. That was when he kissed her.

Not mouth to mouth as one would think. Not only were they in the office, which wouldn’t have mattered anyway, but it was impossible at that distance. Or so she thought. The same way she had thought back then, that it was  impossible to kiss someone with your eyes.

She met his eyes and imagined hot blood rush to her head. Her eyes misted over. She grabbed the photocopier for support as the heat now  spread all over her body. A dull tingling started in her breasts. They felt so heavy. Her thighs trembled…

“Are you okay, Lade?”

She started. Her breathing, hard. Her face felt flushed from the heat.

“I’m fine, thank you,”  she told Bimpe who nodded and walked away. Looking back at Banji, she saw he was still standing there, a small smile on his face. He turned and went into his office.

She made up her mind.

 

Categories: Author spotlight | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

Empi Baryeh in da House!

Love is in the air and guess who just landed at Lara Daniels Writes? It’s none other than the very talented Empi Baryeh whose novels are making ground breaking strides in the African Romance genre. Empi is an author of multicultural love stories tender enough to warm your heart and erotic enough to ignite your passions. I wrote about her two books a couple of weeks ago and she kindly agreed to come here today and talk more in detail about her books and her writing journey with the hopes of encouraging another African Writer out there. So please join me today in welcoming Empi Baryeh! (Loud applause, everyone :))

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Thanks for inviting me over to your blog, Lara. Hello and welcome to everyone. Lara asked me to share my journey so far as a writer, so I’ll begin with that and then I’ll talk a little about my latest release. I started writing when I was about thirteen, but it wasn’t until another thirteen years later that I decided to write a romance novel. My first task was to read a few, so I went online, and after some research, I found Harlequin’s website. They had a ‘two free books’ subscription offer, so I got my first two free books and enjoyed them so much that I decided to keep my subscription. About a month later, I received my first set of six books.

Once I started reading them, I had a concern that I’m sure most aspirant African writer have: it occurred to me that I hadn’t seen any books with African characters or settings. While I’d seen many non-US/UK settings, I realised that most people didn’t think ‘romance’ when they thought about Africa.

But first of all I needed to know if my stories had international appeal. I decided to become a premium member of FanStory, which turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made regarding my writing. If you visited my blog on Friday, then you know Most Eligible Bachelor started as a short story for a Valentine’s Day writing prompt on FanStory. Those were exciting times.  FS allowed me to share my stories with and receive feedback from a global community—US, UK, Europe, Asia, Australia, South America…you name it, they are all there. And guess what! The response was positive.

I was now much more confident about submitting to publishers and agents. And that was when the Rs started. Yes, I’ve had a lot of those, but of course, I was in good company: Ernest Hemingway, J. K. Rowling, Stephen King, Meg Cabot…these are only a few famous writers who are equally famous for the Rs they received before hitting the big time. That’s not to say I didn’t get discouraged—I did. Many times. Especially with form Rs, which don’t tell you what you need to do to improve the story.

But I did have a few trusted writing buddies and critique partners who helped me in fine-tuning my story and turning it from a first draft to a published novel.

As an African writer, especially one living in Africa, it hasn’t been easy. There are many opportunities out there that exclude us – especially writing contests. Many African countries are not on PayPal’s system, which is very limiting in today’s increasingly digital society.

The good news for us, though, is that the digital age, while having limitations, has brought a lot of other opportunities. I think the benefits far outweigh the losses. Also, there’s been an increase in the demand for variety in romance (and other genres of) fiction. That means this is the time for African writers to excel.

So if you’re an aspiring author, my advice is to keep writing, join a good writing/critique group or two, actively search for and enter writing competitions whenever you can. If you choose to self-publish, do your research, make sure your manuscript is thoroughly edited. There’s nothing worse than paying for a book that’s full of typos. Most of all, take a break if you must, but don’t stop writing.

Before I sign off, I want to talk about my books and writing projects. I’m celebrating the release of my debut novel, Most Eligible Bachelor, which is about Chantelle Sah, a magazine columnist who’s been burned by love, and Lord McKenzie, a wealthy playboy, who’s never been in love before—until Chantelle, that is. My heroine is low on trust where men are concerned, but she meets my hero and finds herself unable to keep her heart safe from falling in love again. Throw into the mix is the little fact of the hero holding on to a secret that could be fatal for both their hearts, and you know there’s going to be some trouble brewing before a happily-ever-after can be achieved. The story is a sweet romance that packs enough heat to satisfy readers who want a little sizzle with their romance.

Most Eligible Bachelor is Book 1 in a 3-book series titled, Men of Distinction. Each book can be read as a standalone, but if you’re like me, you’ll want to read all three since you’ll get to see characters from each book playing a secondary role in the other books. I always find that to be a lot of fun. The heroines of Books 2 and 3 are introduced in Most Eligible Bachelor, so I hope they make a positive impression on readers. I’m working on Book 2 of the series, which is currently titled, Dinner and a Kiss, while Book 3 is untitled at the moment.

Without further ado, here’s a sneak peek at Most Eligible Bachelor:

Blurb:

Magazine columnist Chantelle Sah doesn’t celebrate Valentine’s Day—not since her fiancé’s betrayal three years ago—and after botching her first assignment as a feature writer, she’s more than willing to put in a hard day’s work this Valentine’s Day; even if it means going on a date with gorgeous construction Tycoon, Lord McKenzie, and opening herself to an onslaught of all things love.

When Lord—his given name, not a title—sets his sights on Chantelle, it isn’t just work he has on his mind. But even he couldn’t have predicted the magnetic attraction between them when they meet, nor the evening ending with more than an interview. Now he has to convince Chantelle that their one-night stand wasn’t a mistake. Can he win her love without revealing a secret from their night of passion, which could prove fatal for both their hearts?

 

Excerpt:

Lord McKenzie knew he was in trouble the moment he reached for the door and found Chantelle’s hand instead. She turned, her almond-shaped eyes widening. Their hazel intensity met his gaze, and he knew he was done for. Energy passed between them, zapping his will to resist.

“Chantelle.” His voice came out heavy, having forced its way out of the vise gripping his throat.

He pulled her, intending to have one more taste of her luscious full lips. He felt no resistance on her part as she stepped toward him. Her bag dropped to the floor just before her body slammed against his, every soft curve fitting perfectly into him as he laid claim on her lips.

She kissed him back with the same hunger with which he devoured her. Fire ignited, took over. She gripped his t-shirt, tugging it out of his trousers in the process. He became instantly hard. When her hands grazed his skin, he lost hold of any control he had tried to maintain. A kiss wouldn’t be enough to douse the inferno of desire consuming them. Something it seemed she’d already realized, because she pushed the t-shirt up his torso.

Their breathing and moans mingled as they attended to the multiple tasks of kissing, shedding their clothes and finding a place to settle. Chantelle’s top came off first, followed by his, then her jeans and his. Stumbling urgently to the loveseat, they continued their kissing and frantic groping.

With one snap, her bra came off, making Lord pause. He needed to take in the sight before him. In nothing but a flimsy pair of lacy white panties, she was a vision of perfection, her body a work of art. Her tall frame ordinarily projected an impression of slimness, but underneath her clothes were curves, lush and feminine, ample hips narrowing into a small waist and firm breasts proudly pouting at him, all wrapped in flawless milk-chocolate skin.

“You’re incredibly beautiful,” he whispered.

He couldn’t wait to taste her. But first, he needed to touch.

Reverently he cupped her breasts and kneaded them gently, drawing a soft moan from her. His hands travelled down her flat stomach to her hips, enjoying the feel of her curves. His mouth followed with kisses, along the same path to her navel. Reaching for the hem of her panties, he paused, raising his eyes to meet her gaze.

She watched him with sultry eyes, her pupils dilated. Seeing the desire in their depths caused several ounces of restraint to slip from his grip, but he needed to know they were on the same page. He wasn’t going any further if she had doubts.

“Tell me to take this off.”

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I hope that excerpt has whetted your appetite for more. If so, use any of these links to buy a copy of Most Eligible Bachelor:

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Also, coming 17th March through Black Opal Books, is Chancing Faith, an interracial romance about an American ad exec who travels to Ghana, on business, and finds himself wagering his heart.

Here’s a blurb:

He didn’t do short-term relationships…

American ad exec, Thane Aleksander, doesn’t date co-workers either—until business takes him to Ghana, West Africa, and he meets Naaki. Now he’s at risk of breaking all the rules. Can he stop this headlong fall before it’s too late?

Until he met her!

Naaki Tabika has a burning need to prove, to herself and others, that she’s more than wife and mother material. To do so, she’s prepared to give up everything for her job. Meeting Thane, however, makes her want to get personal. But falling for her boss could destroy her career. Will she be willing to risk it all for the one thing that can make her truly happy?

Two divergent cultures, two different races, two career-driven professionals, only one chance at true love—will they find the faith to take it, or will their hearts be sacrificed on the altar of financial success?

 

Where else to find me online:

Thanks, Lara, for hosting me on your blog, and thank you, readers, for stopping by and sharing this exciting moment with me. Don’t forget to leave a comment on this post for a chance to win a free copy of Most Eligible Bachelor. Enjoy your week!

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