www.marilynbrant.com

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Read-A-Romance Month 2015 - The Joy of Romance and a Giveaway!

The One That I Want (Mirabelle Harbor,
Book 2) - just released!
Many thanks to Lorelei from Lorelei's Lit Lair (read her essay here) for inviting me to participate in this year's celebration and also to Bobbi Dumas who created the Read-A-Romance Month event!! Such a fantastic idea, and I'm so pleased to be a part of it, ladies!

A Few Thoughts on Romance:

I don't know what's going on this summer, but it's been a time where several people close to me have gotten some very difficult news. There have been a few health crises, the sad loss of loved ones, deep frustrations with relationships or careers, and worries about children...

In a couple of cases, the first thing I did after giving that friend a hug was to offer her a romance novel by one of the many authors whose work I enjoyed. Something joyful and uplifting that would hopefully make my friend laugh and provide for her a short-term mental escape from the darker, daily-life realities. I can't tell you all the number of times that a reader has sent me or another romance author a message through social media thanking us for writing stories that are funny, touching, and ultimately optimistic and hopeful. I've personally received some beautiful emails from readers who were sitting at hospital bedsides with a sick parent/spouse/child, and they told me how grateful they were to read a story that brought a smile to their faces during a time when they most needed it.

This is one of the reasons that I love to write humorous contemporary romances and romantic women's fiction. Because the reader in me does the very same thing when I'm sad -- I reach for a romance novel to remind me of some of life's most joyful moments. The authors whose books I escaped into were lifesavers. They helped me keep my spirits up and gave me mental images that were -- for a brief while, at least -- as real to me as the world I was inhabiting. I'll never stop being appreciative of that gift!

The Questions:

1. Tell us about a moment in your life when you experienced sheer joy:
When I got the call from RWA that the manuscript that later became my debut novel -- According to Jane -- was a finalist for the Golden Heart Award. A few months later, at the 2007 national Romance Writers of America's conference in Dallas, it won! That was so exciting. I still smile when I think of it :).

2. Tell us about a place that brings you joy or is attached to a memory of joy:
Seeing Venice, Italy for the first time. I was utterly spellbound. It looked just as I'd imagined it would be, but even better. We came around the Grand Canal in a water bus and saw San Marco's Square, and the sight of it in the sunlight took my breath away. It's simply gorgeous. (I got to write about the city in A Summer in Europe, and I gave my character Gwen some of my real first impressions!)

3. Tell us about a sound that brings you joy:
Music is a huge part of my life. I've enjoyed being a singer in a women's barbershop choir, a cast member in a community theater musical, and a dancer in a touring dance group that traveled through Europe with a live band. I also studied viola, piano, and guitar. So live music -- in a multitude of genres -- always brings me joy!

4. What recent book have you read that brought you joy?
I loved THE ROSIE PROJECT by Graeme Simsion. It's an unusual romance that I found to be really heartwarming and humorous.

5. And, for fun, the joy of choice -- which Chris: Chris Hemsworth, Chris Pine, Chris Pratt, Chris, Rock, Chris Evans, or Christopher Plummer?
This was the hardest question!! I really like all of these actors...but I posted a picture of my personal favorite below. Mmmm!!
Take a Chance on Me (Mirabelle Harbor,
Book 1) - out now!!

The Giveaway:
In celebration of the release of my new Mirabelle Harbor series, I'm giving away a digital copy of the opening novella (TAKE A CHANCE ON ME - Book 1) to one commenter on this post! Winner's choice of format (epub, mobi, or pdf). The contest is open internationally, and I'll do a random drawing for the winner around noon Central Time on August 18th. PLEASE INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS in the comments, so I can easily contact you if you win the ebook!


Here's some info about the first two books in this new romantic series:

TAKE A CHANCE ON ME 
Baklava...yum!
Take a Chance on Me is a standalone romantic-comedy novella and Book 1 in Marilyn Brant’s Mirabelle Harbor series. Dedicated personal trainer Chance Michaelsen falls hard for Nia Pappayiannis—his complete opposite and a member of the family that owns the Greek bakery just down the street from his gym. He considers their pastries to be the enemy of good health, but he can’t quite shake his attraction to Nia, who doesn’t seem nearly as impressed with him or his sculpted physique as most of the women around town

Unfortunately, between her doctor’s orders and the interfering ways of Chance’s crazy-making ex-girlfriend, who just happens to be one of Nia’s long-time friends, Chance gets assigned to be Nia’s fitness coach for the month. Pure torture. And if his ex weren’t already causing enough problems, he also has to deal with Nia’s current boyfriend—some hotshot Chicago CEO who talks big but, in Chance’s opinion, is as fake as a Styrofoam barbell. 

Nia may have her doubts about a romance with him, but Chance has a well-developed competitive streak and might just be willing to give it a shot...if he can convince her to do the same. 

In matters of the heart, would you risk it all?


[Available now on Amazon, B&N, iBooks, and Kobo -- as well as in paperback!]


THE ONE THAT I WANT
Chris Hemsworth, a swoon-worthy movie star,
who looks rather like the actor that Julia had a
longtime crush on in The One That I Want...
The One That I Want is Book 2 in the Mirabelle Harbor series, and it's a full-length standalone novel. The summer after her beloved husband died in a car accident, Julia Meriwether Crane is still picking up the pieces of her life in Mirabelle Harbor and trying to help her ten-year-old daughter adjust to this difficult new reality.

After her best friend Sharlene—one of the well-connected Michaelsen siblings—talks her into finally going out on the town again, Julia finds herself stunned to be the object of interest of several different men: The boy who’d broken her heart back in high school. The college ex she’d left behind. And most surprising of all, the movie actor she’d always fantasized about but had never met in person...until now. Can one woman have more than one “great love” in the same lifetime? And, if so, how can she be sure which man that’ll be?

Sometimes the person you think will be best for you isn’t the one you really want.

[Available now on Amazon, B&N, iBooks, and Kobo -- as well as in paperback!]

Some Favorite Writers I Recommend:
I love all of these authors! Each of them writes wonderfully romantic stories (sometimes blended with mystery, suspense, paranormal, fantasy/sci-fi, or historical elements...) and, what's more, they're some of the kindest and most generous people I know ;). At one point, we all blogged together on Magical Musings -- a fabulous site for both readers and writers -- and it was always a pleasure to spend time with them there!

Please check out their websites/posts below:

Robin Bielman
Michelle Diener
Misty Evans
Edie Ramer

My Author Bio:
Marilyn Brant is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary women’s fiction, romantic comedy and mystery. She was named the Author of the Year (2013) by the Illinois Association of Teachers of English. She loves all things Jane Austen, has a passion for Sherlock Holmes, is a travel addict and a music junkie, and lives on chocolate and gelato. Visit her website: www.marilynbrant.com and keep an eye out for more novels this year in her new "Mirabelle Harbor" series. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

TAKE A CHANCE ON ME is Released This Week - 99 Cents for a Limited Time!

The first release in my new Mirabelle Harbor series -- TAKE A CHANCE ON ME -- is out this week!!!

**Pausing to throw confetti in the air & do a happy dance, LOL.**

For anyone who isn't familiar with the premise for this stand-alone romantic novella, here it is: 

Dedicated personal trainer Chance Michaelsen falls hard for Nia Pappayiannis—his complete opposite and a member of the family that owns the Greek bakery just down the street from his gym. He considers their pastries to be the enemy of good health, but he can’t quite shake his attraction to Nia, who doesn’t seem nearly as impressed with him or his sculpted physique as most of the women around town

Unfortunately, between her doctor’s orders and the interfering ways of Chance’s crazy-making ex-girlfriend, who just happens to be one of Nia’s long-time friends, Chance gets assigned to be Nia’s fitness coach for the month. Pure torture. And if his ex weren’t already causing enough problems, he also has to deal with Nia’s current boyfriend—some hotshot Chicago CEO who talks big but, in Chance’s opinion, is as fake as a Styrofoam barbell. 

Nia may have her doubts about a romance with him, but Chance has a well-developed competitive streak and might just be willing to give it a shot...if he can convince her to do the same. 


In matters of the heart, would you risk it all? TAKE A CHANCE ON ME, a Mirabelle Harbor story.

**
Review
"Take a chance and get lost between the covers of this delightful summer novella." ~Blogging Under the Shade Tree Reviews
I loved this story, while reading it, I kept flashing back to My Big Fat Greek Wedding whenever Nia's family is around, such a wonderful big crazy Greek family, loved it. And I loved Chance, the turmoil he feels about Nia was amazing, fighting that inner battle on what to do, it's a love story that is beautifully written. If you want a love story that makes you feel good, then this is the book, a must read!I loved this story, while reading it, I kept flashing back to My Big Fat Greek Wedding whenever Nia's family is around, such a wonderful big crazy Greek family, loved it. And I loved Chance, the turmoil he feels about Nia was amazing, fighting that inner battle on what to do, it's a love story that is beautifully written. If you want a love story that makes you feel good, then this is the book, a must read!
**
Paperback: (coming soon!)

Wishing you all a wonderful end of July...and looking forward to celebrating THE JOY OF ROMANCE through the month of August! :) 

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Welcome to Mirabelle Harbor!!

It's been a long time coming...but I can finally share the news about my upcoming contemporary romance series -- Mirabelle Harbor -- and the release dates for the first 2 books in the series!!

The first is a romantic novella called TAKE A CHANCE ON ME, and it'll be coming out on the 21st of July. Can't wait to reveal the cover in about ten days (!!), but here's a bit about that story:

Welcome to Mirabelle Harbor! In this scenic suburb on Chicago’s North Shore, overlooking the sparkling waters of Lake Michigan, the Michaelsen family has made their home for generations. Although their parents and grandparents are now gone, siblings Derek, Blake, Sharlene, and the twins—Chandler and Chance—all have fond memories of growing up in town, and most still live there. 

Chance Michaelsen, the youngest member of the family (by two minutes) and the quietest (by far), is a dedicated twenty-eight-year-old personal trainer at the local gym. While he might not say much, Chance has made it clear that he’s not a fan of toxic people, unhealthy habits, or sharing too many of his emotions. With anybody.

Enter Antonia “Nia” Pappayiannis—the prettiest member of the loudest and most overly demonstrative family in town. They’re also the owners of The Gala, a Greek restaurant and bakery known for its decadent pastries and located just a few steps from Chance’s gym. He considers their entire family business to be the enemy of good health, but he can’t quite shake his attraction to Nia, who doesn’t seem nearly as impressed with him or his sculpted physique as most of the women around Mirabelle Harbor. 

Unfortunately, between her doctor’s orders and the interfering ways of Chance’s crazy-making ex-girlfriend, who just happens to be one of Nia’s long-time friends, Chance gets assigned to be Nia’s fitness coach for the month. Pure torture. And if his ex weren’t already causing enough problems, he also has to deal with Nia’s current boyfriend—some hotshot Chicago CEO who talks big but, in Chance’s opinion, is as fake as a Styrofoam barbell. 

The road to romance is going to be a rocky one, and though Nia has her doubts about moving forward, Chance has a well-developed competitive streak and might just be willing to give it a shot...if he can convince her to do the same.


In matters of the heart, would you risk it all? TAKE A CHANCE ON ME, a Mirabelle Harbor story.

And coming out just a few days later, on July 26th, is a full-length novel and the second Mirabelle Harbor book -- THE ONE THAT I WANT -- which is up for pre-order on Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, and Kobo right now (coming soon to iBooks)!! Check out the book cover above, designed by the talented Sarah Hansen -- I love it! And here is the back-cover blurb for this novel, a story that involves some of my favorite things...movie stars, modern characters inspired by Austen, and caramel brownies:

The summer after her beloved husband died in a car accident, Julia Meriwether Crane is still picking up the pieces of her life in Mirabelle Harbor and trying to help her ten-year-old daughter adjust to this difficult new reality.

After her best friend Sharlene—one of the well-connected Michaelsen siblings—talks her into finally going out on the town again, Julia finds herself stunned to be the object of interest of several different men: The boy who’d broken her heart back in high school. The college ex she’d left behind. And most surprising of all, the movie actor she’d always fantasized about but had never met in person...until now. Can one woman have more than one “great love” in the same lifetime? And, if so, how can she be sure which man that’ll be?


Sometimes the person you think will be best for you isn’t the one you really want. THE ONE THAT I WANT, a Mirabelle Harbor story.

All of the books in the series are stand-alone stories, connected through the town and a relationship to the Michaelsen family, so they can be read in any order! Looking forward to sharing more book launch details and celebrations soon! 

And Happy 4th of July :) .

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Wanderlust in Suburbia -- Out Now!!

This is a project I've wanted to see on the bookshelves for a long time...

Back before I got my first publishing contract for contemporary women's fiction, I spent a decade as a freelance magazine writer for a number of parenting magazines. Wanderlust in Suburbia and Other Reflections on Motherhood represents some of my favorite personal essays (21 of them, in fact, along with a handful of published poems) that I'd written about being a new mom during that time.

In honor of Mother's Day, the ebook version is on sale for just 99 cents right now on Kindle and Nook (regular price $2.99). And there's a Paperback edition available, too, for only $8.99 on Amazon.

I hope you'll take a peek at the book -- and if you'd like to read one of the essays, I have a complete one excerpted HERE! If you're looking for a fun gift idea this month for your mom, stepmom, mother-in-law, grandmother, aunt, sister, or friend...please check out the collection!!

Happy May, everyone! :)

Saturday, March 14, 2015

THE ROAD AND BEYOND Giveaway!!

In honor of the recent release of The Road and Beyond in paperback, I'm giving away one ebook (PDF) copy of the novel to one commenter on this post! It's open internationally, and all you need to do to enter is to tell me in the comments below about a road trip you've either taken or want to take :) .

This contest is open until March 31st (noon, Central Time), and I'll draw the name of the random winner that afternoon/evening. Looking forward to reading about your trips!

I have pictures from my own trip -- the journey I took to research this story, which is the expanded version of my coming-of-age romantic mystery The Road to You -- when my family and I took a long trek down Historic Route 66. Check out the photos from Chicago to Albuquerque/Santa Fe right HERE!!

And below is a short excerpt from the story:

Pasadena, California ~ Friday, August 15, 2014
 No one else was home, of course, when I got the call that my twenty-eight-year-old son was missing.
“The Benson Plastics people are already here for the eleven o’clock presentation, but Charlie isn’t,” Gloria, the company’s secretary, informed me, her piercing voice tinged with an edge of hysteria. I’d only spoken with the woman on the phone twice before, but I got the distinct impression that her circuits were forever at risk of being overloaded.
“He’s not answering his cell?” I asked, surprised more than anything, actually, because both of my boys had their iPhones all but super-glued to their palms.
“Aurora, I’ve tried to reach him for an hour and a half,” Gloria insisted, the shrillness in her tone rising like high notes in a chorus and dancing for dear life on the other end of the line. “There’s no answer at home. His cell goes straight to voicemail. And I even called his girlfriend because she’s his first contact. She has no idea where Charlie is either. You’re his second contact, so I hope you’ll know where we can reach him.”
For a long, uncomfortable moment I was distracted by something ridiculous. The fact that I was only my son’s second contact. Well, he was practically living with Cassandra, so I supposed it made sense that she was his first. But still…
Then the deeper meaning of the secretary’s comments seeped in. No one knows where Charlie is. I tried to be calm, reasonable, rational and not like some TV sitcom mother who’d overreact to everything. But, naturally, given my family’s history, that was impossible.
I fought back the panic and asked, “Was he at work yesterday?”
“Yes,” Gloria said. “He was here when I left at four-twenty, and one of the department heads said he saw Charlie still working at his desk when he left at five. Martin, the team leader, was going to give the presentation to the plastics people this morning, but his wife called in saying he was sick with bronchitis. So, Charlie is the one who should be leading the meeting, but he didn’t come in or call in an absence, and none of the managers here were told about any changes in his plans.”
I understood instinctively that Gloria’s first priority and much of her loyalty was to the company—Cornman, Grabher & Pressly—a financial firm my youngest son had worked at for these past three years. But it irked me that her focus remained on not disappointing “the plastics people,” rather than on my son’s safety.
“He never said anything to me about being gone from work today,” I admitted, my mind reeling with that ever-present parental worry, which spun a dangerous path from my head to my gut. It settled there and began its slow, painful twisting.
Where is he? Is he okay? Why didn’t he tell anyone where he was going? Unless, of course, he wasn’t able to tell because he was hurt or in danger…or worse.
The questions started, and it was like 1976 all over again.
“I’ll call his father and his brother,” I told the secretary. “If either of them know anything, I’ll contact you immediately.”
“Thanks,” the secretary said, but I could tell her attention was still fixed entirely on the wrong things, at least in my opinion. Then, finally, she added, “This just doesn’t seem like him.”
“No,” I said. “No, it doesn’t.”
I hung up. I knew my son. He was a risk taker, an adventurous type, the kind of guy who loved thrill rides and fast cars and extreme sports. Different from his computer-obsessed older brother, who played Xbox when he was in the mood for serious activity and read ebooks when he was tired of programming things on his PC.
But Charlie wasn’t irresponsible. If he was going to be gone from work, he would have told somebody. Maybe not me, but someone.
I thought back to when I’d spoken with him last—on Wednesday night. I’d asked him about his girlfriend Cassandra. She’s okay, he’d said. And about work. Yeah, it’s fine. And if he had any special plans coming up. Nope.
The ticking clock on the wall marked the passing minutes as my worry flooded the rest of my body. Ripples of dread meted out in sixty-second increments. Everything had seemed all right with him just two days ago but, then, kids often lied to their parents or, at the very least, withheld crucial information.
I should know.
~*~*~
For all of my math-loving friends, Happy "Pi Day" (3.141592653...) by the way!! Hope you celebrated with a little pie treat or two. I know I did :D . 

Friday, December 5, 2014

THE PERFECT PAIR Boxed Set is Out Now!

THE PERFECT PAIR of Austen-Inspired Modern Romantic Comedies ... is available now on Kindle, Nook, Smashwords, and iBooks!! (Coming soon to Kobo, too. ;)
It's here in time for the holidays! The boxed set containing my duo of fast-paced contemporary romantic comedies with a nod to Jane Austen is finally on the digital bookshelves. Pride, Prejudice and the Perfect Match & Pride, Prejudice and the Perfect Bet are companion novels but they can be enjoyed as stand-alone stories. For anyone who hasn't read them yet, below are the plot details for each book, and you can read excerpts from both stories on my website as well (check out the links: Perfect Match excerpt & Perfect Bet excerpt). Hope you'll enjoy, and best wishes for a safe, healthy, and joyous Holiday Season!

***

Pride, Prejudice and the Perfect Match
A single mother and an ER doctor meet on an Internet dating site—each for reasons that have little to do with finding their perfect match—in this modern, Austen-inspired story. It’s a tribute to the power of both “pride” and “prejudice” in bringing two people romantically together, despite their mutual insistence that they should stay apart…
Would an Elizabeth Bennet by any other name be as appealing to a Darcy?
Beth Ann Bennet isn’t looking for love. She’s an aspiring social worker using an online alias to study sex-role stereotypes. Dr. William Darcy isn’t looking for love either. He’s just trying to fund his new clinic by winning a major bet. Both think Lady Catherine’s Love Match Website will help them get what they want—fast, easy and without endangering their hearts. Both are in for a big surprise.
Pride, Prejudice and the Perfect Match…where true love is just a fib and a click away.

Pride, Prejudice and the Perfect Bet
The course of true love doesn’t always run smooth -- not even for millionaire bachelors…
Everyone thought Beth Ann Bennet and Dr. Will Darcy had an unexpected romance in Pride, Prejudice and the Perfect Match. Now, Beth’s best friend, Jane Henderson, and Will’s first cousin, Bingley McNamara, begin their own unlikely love story in Pride, Prejudice and the Perfect Bet, which starts at the Darcy/Bennet wedding when they find themselves in the roles of maid of honor and best man for the newlyweds.
Jane is an interning school psychologist and a woman who wears an angelic mask in public, but she’s not as sweet tempered as she’d like everyone to believe. Turns out, she may have just crossed paths with the one person who’ll unnerve her enough to get her to reveal her true self.
As for Bingley, he’s a wealthy, flirtatious and compulsively social guru of finance, who likes to wager on stocks and, let’s face it, on just about anything that strikes his fancy. But this dedicated ladies’ man may have finally met the woman who’ll challenge his bachelor ways!
Pride, Prejudice and the Perfect Bet…where life’s biggest gamble is the game of love.

Monday, November 3, 2014

ALL ABOUT US - a Romantic Release and a Giveaway!!

NEW RELEASE by New York Times Bestselling Author Marilyn Brant! 


AVAILABLE NOW! 


*SYNOPSIS*

Winterfest is heating up in Abbott Springs...

As the town’s yearly festival kicks off, cold days turn into steamy nights, new flames will be ignited, and old romances will be rekindled.

All Sami Abbott ever wanted was permission to be herself. At home, she aims to be the perfect daughter but never measures up. At college, she’s the bold girl who had a one-night stand with sexy musician, Alex Hamilton. When he arrives unexpectedly in Abbott Springs, her worlds collide and she must reconcile the girl she tries to be with the person she really is.

ALL ABOUT US is a light, contemporary, new-adult romantic novella by New York Times & USA Today bestselling author Marilyn Brant. It's also available as part of the ALL I EVER WANTED anthology!


*EXCERPT*

Mom had put a batch of orange-cranberry scones in the oven just before she’d headed to the parade. I was in the middle of drizzling the icing on the last row of them when the bells on the front door jingle-jangled. I glanced up, expecting to see a local person I’d known forever, who needed a break from the parade crowd.

I expected wrong.

“Alex?”

“Hey. Heard through the grapevine you were here.” He grinned briefly at me, and my heart became a puddle of melted icing.

“Eavesdropping on the townspeople again?” I said lightly. “Collecting Abbott Springs gossip or maybe just inferring it?”

He shrugged. “Somethin’ like that.”

He was dressed much like he had been yesterday—black leather jacket, different jeans, old sneakers—but he didn’t look the same. It wasn’t anything obvious, like his hairstyle or his piercings. It was more like an intensity in his expression. Like he was searching for something.

He took several strides toward me. We had the serving counter between us, but it didn’t seem like much of a barrier. 

I saw him swallow and glance at my hands. I was holding the icing bag off to the side of the scones, twisting it so my fingers had something to do. Little dribbles of sweet white icing had leaked out and begun to run down my hand, but I’d barely noticed.

He pointed. “You’re, uh, dripping.”

“Yeah,” I said, looking down. Time to finish putting the drizzles on the remaining scones. He watched me do this with interest but in silence. When I was done, I saw him lick his lips.

Must be hungry.

I set down the icing bag, wiped my fingers clean and slid a fresh scone onto a plate. “Would you like one? They’re good. Just out of the oven.”

He nodded but didn’t take the plate from me. “Can I come back there?”

“Sure.”

Alex slipped through the swinging door and joined me. I was still holding the plate out for him. He took it from me this time…and immediately set it on the counter.

“Oh, sorry! Did you want a fork?” I asked, reaching toward the silverware.

But he put his hand on mine, stopping me. “No, Samantha,” he whispered. “That isn’t what I want.”

He swallowed again and nudged me toward the kitchen wall nearest us until my shoulders were touching it. Until the zipper of his leather jacket pressed against the red Abbott’s Sweet Confections apron I was wearing. Until I could feel his breath on my forehead.

Then he looked into my eyes and waited. Waited until I’d tilted my head up toward him and licked my lips and leaned a little closer. Then he smiled and brought his mouth down on mine.

Everything about our kiss said hunger to me. We were in a place filled with heaping platters of food, but Alex was the only thing in the whole building I wanted to devour. It was like my dream from this morning, only better because it wasn’t a simple dream. Because I could really feel the roughness of his stubble on my cheek, smell the crisp January air when he exhaled, taste the warmth of his tongue as it mingled with mine and left me wanting more. More of him. All of him.

He broke away, pulling back and breathing hard—then he kissed me again, this time deeper and wilder.

The jingle-jangle of the door had us both springing apart.



*ABOUT THE AUTHOR*

Marilyn Brant is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling author of contemporary women's fiction, romantic comedy & mystery. She was named the Author of the Year (2013) by the Illinois Association of Teachers of English. She loves all things Jane Austen, has a passion for Sherlock Holmes, is a travel addict and a music junkie, and lives on chocolate and gelato. Visit her website at http://www.marilynbrant.com.


*GIVEAWAY*