What started off as childhood animosity eventually developed into an adulthood attraction. Just when Alexa and William start to explore these newfound feelings, tragedy strikes. And then it strikes again. And again. Aaaaand again.
Recently, I received a note from a good friend of mine who was taking a well-deserved vacation. As a tax expert and executive, her mind is always reeling. She was much in need of some time away. I gave her my book “When Hearts Break” for her to (hopefully) enjoy during this break.
Her note back to me, reminded me of why I love storytelling.
“Ola my dear friend, I hope you are doing well. I wanted to send you a quick note to tell you how much I adored reading your book. It was truly the highlight of my trip and transported me into a different world. I could live through your beautiful story telling and could envision the story unfolding in front of me as if it was a movie. I finished the book already and have felt lost the past couple of days as I missed the special world it created for me, away from all my surroundings. Your story will forever be associated with my trip and much needed rest.
You have a special gift and please keep writing. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing with me your special book.”
Yes, I will keep writing.
This book essentially takes place in three phases. Phase one reintroduces us to the characters from the first novel and highlights how their love is just as strong now as it was all those years ago. We also see an introduction to this couple’s son, William, and the initial animosity between him and his sister’s best childhood friend, Alexa. Flash forward a few years and we see these two brush aside their childhood annoyances to instead timidly lay the groundwork for a possible relationship. The real focus though of this first phase surrounded Alexa’s mother, Celia. As you can see, there are quite a number of different characters presented here. Celia has always been a devoted wife and mother, but a mystery illness has plagued her for years. Just as Alexa and William start their own flirtations, we simultaneously see Celia in pursuit of her own happiness after being trapped in a loveless marriage for so long.
Now, I always try to keep my reviews free of spoilers, but in my humble opinion, the synopsis of the book should have come with a spoiler alert warning! It’s not hard to guess how Celia’s illness coming to the forefront might play into the synopsis’ reference to “painful losses” and Alexa being “thrown into unfathomable misery.” It made it so much easier to see where the story was going before we even got there. There were also numerous insinuations and hints that tragedy loomed closer with every turn of the page. And this brings us to phase two of the book, which is definitely an emotional downer. Gone are the seemingly carefree days of buying dresses and spontaneous flirtations with William. We see Alexa fall into a dark depression, and we feel every painful moment and heartache right along with her. Finally, we arrive at phase three, where we hope and pray that Alexa and William will finally find their way back to each other. Which they kind of do before conniving characters and calamitous circumstances rip them apart. This final phase is full of suspense, as well as the feeling that nothing is ever going to go right for our characters. This is when you’ll start to bite your nails wondering if Alexa and William will ever manage to find a happily ever after.
The Property of Men
The precarious position of women in English society is definitely highlighted prominently in this second book. In the first novel, we saw a woman from the present day travel through time to 19th century England. While she definitely encountered difficulties as a woman that she hadn’t experienced in her own time, she also managed to push the boundaries when she knew it was an area where she could excel, even if it was one typically reserved for men. Thankfully she was able to find a man who appreciated her expertise in a “man’s world”. In this novel though, we see more of a focus on two women who were actually born and raised in this time.
Alexa is a young woman whose mobility and fate is heavily determined by her father. As for her mother, Celia, we see a woman whose very life is literally held in the hands of her husband. Her frequent bouts of chest pain and shortness of breath have been brushed aside as “women’s nonsense” by her husband for years, and we can’t help but feel that a terrible fate lies in wait around the corner. We see how these women can be trapped in life due to the very fact they are women. And yet, we also see how they reach a breaking point where they are determined to break free and take their lives into their own hands. They understand that life is short, and they’re no longer willing to push aside their wants, desires, and passions merely because of their gender. It might start off as a somewhat crushing read, but as time goes on we see these strong women become empowered to pursue love, life, and happiness. Before it all comes tumbling down around them of course.
A Point of Comparison
Alexa and William are surprisingly separated for a good portion of the book. We get a few scenes of them together as they explore their new feelings of attraction, but there’s seemingly so much more of a focus on Alexa’s mother in part 1, Alexa’s personal melancholy in part 2, and some scheming side characters in part 3. It sort of felt like we only saw a handful of scenes throughout the book with the two of them in the same room. Otherwise, it was either a focus on different characters, or we would see Alexa and William reminiscing and daydreaming about each other. When they do eventually come together, and we hope that things might finally be turning in a positive direction for the two of them, calamity upon calamity strikes which pulls them further apart.
I think it would have been particularly interesting if we saw more of what changed their negative childish opinions of each other. We see them reconnect after years apart, and they seem immediately taken with each other. Their childhood hatred has apparently been thrown by the wayside with a mere glance. There’s an obvious physical attraction that draws them together, but I would have liked if we spent more time with them developing an emotional connection. I couldn’t help but continuously compare Alexa and William to our couple from the first book. What made that couple so intriguing was that it was Beth’s mind, as well as her looks, which drew her and Samuel together. Seeing as Alexa and William spend so much of the book apart from one another, it feels like we don’t get a chance to see the added depth and strong foundation to their relationship. The most touching scene between them by far was the last scene of the novel, as it allowed us a glimpse into how affectionate and caring these two can be. I did appreciate that it was William who managed to pull Alexa out of her misery in phase 2, but I think the addition of just one more scene could have really tied together the entire progression of their relationship.
*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*
Series: Taylor, book 2. I can’t recommend book 1 enough, but I will say this sequel does an amazing job summarizing the events from the first installment. While you wouldn’t necessarily have to go back to book 1 to follow along with the plot of this story, it’s definitely a great one to pick up. I also can’t wait to see what’s in store for book 3!
Final Impressions: This is an emotionally intense read. Our characters seem to face more trials and tribulations than they do successes, and this is especially true when we see the introduction of two new characters in the final phase of the book. Let’s just say one particular female character manages to make the Evil Queen from Sleeping Beauty look like Oprah. Personally, I would have liked to see more scenes involving Alexa and William together, as well as a deeper exploration of how their initial childhood hatred turned to affection. Instead, we see their interactions restricted to a small handful of quick scenes which are constantly interrupted by tragedy and deception. They also have the tendency to try and protect the other as much as possible, to the point where they don’t confide in each other as much as they should, which of course results in more calamity. Kind of a vicious circle!
Smut Level: One delightful scene, but nothing too steamy or raunchy.
Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Amazon Digital Services LLC. 365 Pages.
I am nothing short of excited for the release of my second novel When Hearts Break.
It’s the story of William Taylor, son of Beth and Sam from my first novel, Here and Then After, and Alexandra Wright, the daughter of Ernest Wright, a brewmaster working with the Taylors.
I enjoyed bringing new characters to the series and providing more details on the life of the Taylor clan, a family close to my heart.
My first novel was an exciting journey through uncharted writing territories. I had a few stumbles, and many, many lessons learned. The learning is not over of course, and likely never will be. I am currently working on Book 3.
For now, though, Book 2 is out and has been a delight to write
When I began my foray into writing, I knew it would be difficult. I had read many advice columns, articles, and blogs on the subject hoping to glean as much as I could before delving into self-publishing.
One area I struggled with was if I would have my novel professionally edited or not.
With all the self-editing tools on the market, I thought it would not be necessary, thinking (naively of course) I could do it myself.
I had after all, finished my first novel. I was invincible and could do anything right?
This was likely the worse mistake I did when publishing my first book. Fear not fellow writers; I have seen the light.
Although my first book had a good story and comforting reviews, I was devastated when one of my readers pointed out typos and grammar errors they had stumbled upon. It felt horrible; like unannounced guests who came over, and yesterday’s dirty dishes were still on the counter. Yes – that bad!
I probably had read my manuscript twenty times if not more while reviewing it. I painstakingly filtered it paragraph by paragraph, though an online grammar and spelling checker. I even had a few close friends read it to point out any mistakes I might have missed. I was sure I had caught every blemish, but I was wrong.
The book was published and to my dismay still contained some not-so hidden imperfections and flaws. I probably have a few even in this short blog – Argh!!
Never again, I swore.
For my second book, I decided to engage a wonderful editor, and she showed me the way. An editor doesn’t simply correct grammar and spelling, which she did wonderfully, by the way. They also address issues like reader’s comfort, detractors, inconsistencies and story flaws. As she worked on my second novel, my editor pointed out a particular segment of the book that seemed odd and out of place. At first I was offended, like she had called my baby ugly, but when I read the book over, it hit me smack dab in the face. She was absolutely correct! How stupid it would have sounded had I published it as is.
I re-wrote the offending section resulting in the flow and story line being much improved.
I know an editor entails costs, but in the long run, you will not regret the polish and readability an editor will bring to your work. I certainly have seen it and will never forgo an editor’s review again.
And yes, the first book is most certainly on the list to be re-edited – professionally of course.
Beth has been given a second chance at life, and in the process she also has a chance at love. It might be the truest love she’s ever experienced. In this lifetime…or her last one.
This novel presents us with a very unique and interesting twist to your typical time travel romance. Rather than simply traveling through time (seriously, who hasn’t in this day and age?), Beth has actually died in the year 2017 from a heart attack. As she’s traveling towards the white light of the beyond, she encounters a young woman named Sarah who is also moving along that same light. Beth then proceeds to inhabit Sarah’s body back in the early 1800’s. This added an interesting dimension to the whole time travel theme in that Beth doesn’t just have to adapt to living in a new time period, but she also deals with a flood of memories from this young woman’s sad and short-lived life. I can’t say I’ve ever come across a time travel romance such as this, and I must say I loved this twist. Instead of constantly wondering whether or not Beth will be able to return to her own time, because let’s face it that ship has sailed, we get an alternate drama of her having to cope with the events and tragedies that Sarah tried to escape from through suicide. We quickly learn that this woman was abused and raped at the hands of her drunken father, and while Beth is able to hide out in the countryside estate, Taylor Manor, we all know it’s just a matter of time before this abusive father comes to find her.
A New Life
Beth doesn’t lament too long on the fact that she’s leaving her old life behind for good. After all, she was in her 60’s at the time of her death, and suffering from obvious heart problems. She now gets to inhabit the body of a beautiful 20-year-old, and the aches and pains of old age are no more. Beyond that though, she had also just learned that her recently deceased husband of 41 years was quite the philanderer, and even had a daughter she never knew existed. After learning of this betrayal, Beth decided to finally set out and live life for herself by exploring the beautiful country estates of England. She visits a rather hidden estate known as Taylor Manor, and feels an immediate connection to the house before keeling over dead from a heart attack. Imagine her surprise when she wakes up in the 1800’s, and learns that to escape the clutches of Sarah’s lunatic father she will be hidden away as a housemaid in none other than Taylor Manor.
Now, most people who find themselves in this type of situation would probably be freaking the eff out. However, you have to admire Beth’s tenacity and ability to look at this entire situation as a second chance at life. Sure, Sarah’s life was fraught with issues, but Beth still chooses to make the most of every day. The fact that she gets to spend her time in a beautiful manor house surrounded by glorious antiques is simply an added bonus! And sure, the devilishly handsome master of the house with whom she has an undeniable sexual chemistry isn’t half-bad either. However, I do feel that there was one missed opportunity here for some added fun. In her former life, Beth was a wealthy older woman who had worked a desk job as a successful accountant. Now she is suddenly a housemaid in the 1800’s doing dishes, cleaning, etc? I just wish we could have been privy to a few more scenes which focused on the difficulty of adjusting to this new life. I get that by waking up 40 years younger she probably has a bit more pep in her step, but it seems like she would have had a few issues here and there with having to put some elbow grease into her daily work.
Life in the Manor
Of all the manors in England to end up in after traveling through time, Beth definitely lucked out being placed in Taylor Manor. The various characters of the house are such a delight, and you can’t help but fall in love with them. From the motherly love of the head-housekeeper, to the joyous affability of the cook, and especially the rambunctious innocence of the young stable boy. As soon as Beth steps foot into this house you can’t wait to get to know them all, and just like Beth you too will be swept up into the warmth of this friendly bunch of people. And then of course we get to the master of the house, Samuel. He’s a bit of a surly fellow. Kind of closed-off and grumbly, although he has a definite soft spot for his employees.
We learn that his parents died in a tragic carriage accident when he was just a boy. The fact he witnessed the entire ordeal adds to the overall tragedy of the event, and obviously contributed to his seemingly outward lack of empathy as an adult. But at the first sight of Beth he is obviously smitten, and also surprisingly intrigued by her adept knowledge of math and balancing his ledgers. Beth is also surprised to feel such desire for a man again. I will admit at times I was prone to a slight giggle-fest when they eventually acted upon their desires for each other. What can I say? I couldn’t help but remind myself that in essence we have a woman in her 60’s getting down and dirty with a handsome English Lord in his 20’s. Sure, her body might be young, but this woman has lived, and she brings all of her experience to the table. Let’s just say she has a few tricks up her sleeve to bring this man to his knees. Well…she gets down on hers anyway!
The Big Reveal
Alright, so the time has come which we know is inevitable in any time travel romance. The moment when our lead character admits to her love interest the fact that she isn’t from this time. Samuel has suspected pretty much from day one that Beth was hiding something about herself, but he never dreamed in a million years what she would come to admit. Now, typically when this reveal happens, a very common response is for the opposite party to think our time traveler is crazy. I definitely get it. But here was the one aspect of this novel that I wasn’t toooooo fond of. Normally when the person thinks the time traveler is crazy, they immediately start to treat them like delicate glass, and vow to get them the help they so desperately need. Well…we don’t get that here.
Instead, after Beth admits she’s lived a life in the future, Samuel not only declares she must be mad, but practically insists that she get the hell outta his house as soon as possible. Dude, I understand it’s a tough thing to understand, but don’t throw the poor woman out on the street! Let’s assume for a moment that he does actually believe she is legitimately insane. Beth has already admitted to him that she (or at least the woman she’s occupying) tried to commit suicide after being abused and raped at the hands of her father. Why wouldn’t Samuel just think she’s going through some kind of post-traumatic meltdown, and somehow tried to create an alternate life as a way to cope with this trauma? While he quickly comes to regret his decision to kick her out of his house, and immediately runs after her to bring her back, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed at his initial reaction to her admission. I expected more from you Samuel!
*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*
Series: Taylor series, book 1. I have definitely fallen in love with this family, and this manor. Can’t wait to see what comes next in book 2!
Should you read it? I will say it does take some time for our story to build up to Beth’s eventual death and travel through time. Quite a bit of time is spent on Beth interacting with her husband’s illegitimate daughter that I’m not 100% convinced was entirely necessary. Unless of course that story line comes back into play in a future novel? Who knows! That being said, once Beth makes the jump through time I was hooked. You have the drama and intrigue of her adjusting to life in the 1800s, falling in love with Samuel, and eventually dealing with the suspense of the abusive father. I figured we’d end with a happily ever after, but what I wasn’t expecting was to see how everything connects back to the future. The novel definitely comes full circle in a delightfully clever way, and I for one am excited to see what other inventive twists and turns we might encounter in a second book.
Smut Level: For a historical romance this book will definitely have you blushing. Sure, we get the typical mentions of trembling and bursting forth into ecstasy, but there are also a few more details in there to please our modern sensibilities.
Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Amazon Digital Services LLC. 237 Pages.
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We live in the most amazing times to be writers. The technology at our fingertips has made the craft easier than it’s ever been. It is likely the reason why so many fledgling authors like myself can successfully publish their works. We may not be in the same stratosphere as an Atwood or a Dickens but we certainly have the ability to share our stories.
I can’t imagine how authors like Jane Austen and others of that vintage ever got through their manuscripts. Paper and ink were the only tools available to them. I suspect they wrote rewrote and rewrote again… We live in too much of a fast-paced world for this to work. We needed better solutions and we have them.
There are so many choices, Google Drive, Evernote, OneDrive, with all these platforms offering amazing options for writers including my favorite – auto-save (my hero!). Think of the writing possibilities. With a Cloud platform, you can access your manuscript anywhere you have a computer or mobile device available. When an idea strikes, you are at the ready. My platform of choice is OneDrive where I can use Word Online – fantastic!
I live with my iPad securely attached to my hand most of the time. It is literally with me 24/7 whether it is on the desk beside me at work or on my night table when I go to sleep. It is always there. Many a night I have awoken to jot down an idea which refuses to let me rest. You can also use this medium to collaborate with others.
With a full-time job and a love of writing, I needed tools which would allow me to benefit from every spare minute I had to write. The Cloud has done that for me. If you are already an author, I am likely preaching to the choir but if you are thinking of writing, look to the Clouds…
While working on my second novel I was emotionally touched by a very powerful scene I was developing. It was to the point that as I typed, tears were streaming down my face. Although still in rough draft, the scene will be crucial in the book and I am pleased with it even though it will be difficult to read it again.
Other writers must surely feel this level of emotion as they write. And I am convinced these must become their most cherished scenes.
Author Manoj Arora had a brilliant response to the question of how a writer feel when writing and I had to share:
“It’s chaos. And from that chaos, an idea appears. And you have to see it, you have to feel it. I’m not being abstract. It actually happens; you try to visualize everything, you try to talk and walk and think like your characters do and you put yourself in the situations where your characters are just to see exactly how it feels…”
Manoj could not have been more accurate.
It is when we get this absorbed that we create our best work. Writing is not a chore, it is an extension of life and the emotions and feelings we create are what make the novel worth reading.
Recently, I received what I considered to be a wonderful review of my new novel.
I could not have been more pleased. This was not from a friend or a family member forced to read my book because of close ties. No, this was from an actual reader who purchased my novel and wanted to give me an honest and sincere review.
All I can say to this individual is “Thank You”!
It is through this type frank criticism that we grow as authors. You can be assured I am already heading these words as I work on my second manuscript.
Here is the review of my novel “Here and Then After”:
“This story has an interesting concept. While the pace feels rushed at times, the plot is captivating enough that it doesn’t matter. The main characters are well-developed and likable. I enjoyed it thoroughly. I couldn’t put it down and read it straight through.”
Yes, admittedly I agree the pace was rushed at times. When I was writing this first book, the ideas were flowing so fluidly, I feared I would lose some of them (I’m not as young as I used to be.). My first book was a whirlwind. I plan to have my second, be a gentle stroll. There are fewer unknowns and more enjoyment in this new installment. The honesty of this review has made me reflect and consider improvements in my approach.
Let’s stop considering reviews as simple marketing tools but instead use them for what they were really meant to do. Make us better authors.
I make no illusions of having written a best-seller or even one that will sell a few hundred copies. I am, however, extremely proud of having completed my novel knowing now the realities authors face.
I recently read a staggering statistic which stated only 3% of people who set out to write a novel actually finish and of those, only 20% will ever get it published. Are you kidding me? That’s only 6 people out of 1,000. (There’s that accountant again!).
There is a litany of reasons why this is the case including lack of a consistency, story blocks, etc. but the most prominent reason based on studies is disorganization. I must concur with this. When I started my book, I had no clue where to begin. I had a great idea (which came from a dream, by the way) and had put some thoughts on paper, but that was it.
Where do I go next, I wondered?
The most important step I took was to take a creative writing course on story structure and planning. It was invaluable! I learned that doing research, having your characters “built” and structuring your story, makes the journey so much more enjoyable. I couldn’t wait to write my next scenes.
Did this make me a brilliant writer? Of course not – not even close. But what it did do is help me get to the finish line which based on the stats, only a few ever do.
Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash
After months of revisions, editing and content re-writes, my book is finally self-published! Let me say that after this journey, I am in awe at my colleagues who have penned numerous novels as this is no small feat. I have, nonetheless enjoyed it so much I am already in the throws of the second novel in the Taylor Series.
Like anything, my hope is that I get better with practice…
Please visit my Author’s Site at https://www.amazon.com/author/dmporters
And don’t hesitate to provide feedback. I truly welcome it.