Author Spotlights/Interviews, Blog

Oceans Away by Skye McNeil

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Author: Skye McNeil

Title: Oceans Away

Series: Atlas, book 2

Genre: Millionaire Romance

Release Date: July 13, 2019

Publisher: Hot Tree Publishing

Cover Designer: Soxsational Cover Art

 Available now! 

All links:



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When the girl next door returns home as a millionaire to face the farmer who never lost hope, she’s caught between the man of her past and the man meant for her future.

Adopted as an infant, Ireland Leighton grew up in the heart of the Midwest. After inheriting millions from her biological parents, she is determined to help others any way she can. The only string is a business engagement with another millionaire. Ireland returns to Iowa years later to plan her brother’s tropical wedding. The festivities would be easier if her sexy ex-boyfriend stayed out of reach and her future wasn’t already planned.

Time suppressed his feelings for the girl next door, but Gideon Taggart isn’t about to let Ireland escape again. Farmer by day, veterinarian by choice, his second chance with his first love is far from easy. He soon discovers that no matter how much he loves Ireland, she’ll always choose her family over a future with him.

Oceans Away is book two in Skye McNeil’s stand-alone contemporary romance series, Atlas. Each book contains a millionaire to envy, snort-worthy comedy, and visits to many beautiful cities in the world. Yes, all of that, plus each novel ends with a fabulous HEA.

Amazon US: 

Amazon UK: 

Amazon CA: 

Amazon AU: 






Atlas, book 1

Hearts Abroad

Hearts Abroad




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Sign up for Skye’s newsletter HERE.





Author Spotlights/Interviews, Book News

Credence Cover Reveal & Pre-order: Skye McNeil

If you didn’t already know, I write under two pen names. One Tessa Robertson, the other, Skye McNeil. Every now & again, I’ll share some Skye material that I think my readers will enjoy. Here’s the final installment to my Italian Mafia Romance set right in my hometown. Romantic Suspense lovers, this one is for you.


Title: Credence

Author: Skye McNeil

Series: The Mobster Files, book 3

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Release Date: November 23, 2019

Publisher: Hot Tree Publishing

Cover Designer: BookSmith Design

Now available for preorder!



Alliances are tested in the final installment in Cameron and Joci’s love story when mobsters and lawyers collide.

Cameron Shearer’s life as a police officer is put on hold when the Del Rossi mob demands restitution. One last job with the mob then he’s done for good. Too bad for him his ex-girlfriend—and sister of his mafia boss—isn’t on the same page. Thrown into a life of heists, arrests, and his past, Cameron must walk the line of good and evil.

When Cameron is forced back to his mobster ways, Joci must face a potential future without him. Juggling two law firms, a family, and the mob is harder than she could’ve prepared for. Just when she thinks life falls into place, something disrupts their future.

Will history repeat itself or will their love find credence?
Full Cover

Now available for preorder!


* * * * *

The Mobster Files Series

Appointed by Fate

(book 1)




Exonerated with Love

(book 2)

Exonerated With Love Front Cover




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Skye McNeil began writing at the age of seventeen and has been lost in a love affair ever since. During the day, she moonlights as a paralegal at a law firm favouring criminal law.

Skye enjoys writing romantic comedies and cozy mysteries novels that leave readers wanting more and falling in love over and over. She writes contemporary and historical novels ranging from sweet and sassy to steamy and sultry.

Her constant writing companions are two cats and two dogs. When she’s not writing, Skye enjoys spending time with family, photography, volleyball, traveling, and curling up with a cup of coffee and reading.

Sign up for Skye’s newsletter HERE.


Author Spotlights/Interviews, Blog

Romance with a Twist-Sue Barnard

Happy Wednesday, lovelies! I have a very special author visiting my blog today. She is a fellow Crooked Cat and an incredible writer. Be sure to give her plenty of love around SM and the web.

Let’s find out more, shall we?

Tell us a little about yourself? Perhaps something not many people know?

A lot of people probably have skeletons in their cupboards – but I wonder how many people know how it feels to BE one of those skeletons?  That was me, for more than forty years.

What made you want to become a writer?

It happened almost by accident, when I came across one of those lists of Things You Must Do Before You Die.  Most of them were fairly unappealing, but the one which leapt out was Write The Book You Want To Read.  I’ve always loved the story of Romeo & Juliet but found the ending frustrating, and the book I’ve always wanted to read is the alternative version of the tale: the one in which the young lovers don’t fall victim to a maddeningly-preventable catastrophe.

Why, I asked myself, should there not be such a book?  And the answer came straight back: Why not indeed?  And if it doesn’t exist, then go ahead and write it.

The eventual result was my debut novel The Ghostly Father, which is part-prequel, part-sequel to the original Romeo & Juliet story, told from the point of view of the Friar.  It was first published in 2014 by Crooked Cat Books.

What was the first book that made you cry?

I can’t remember crying over books as a child, but I read A Tale of Two Cities as an adult.  I shed quite a few tears over Sydney Carton.

Where did you get your inspiration for your latest book?

Finding Nina is a companion to my second novel, Nice Girls Don’t.  A loose end was unintentionally left dangling at the end of that book.  Thankfully it didn’t affect the outcome of that story, but I realised afterwards that it had left open the possibility of another one, concentrating on some of the characters who barely step out of the shadows in the original.

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

Oddly enough, I don’t have much difficulty with that.  The main characters of two of my books (The Ghostly Father and Heathcliff) are both male, and it was surprisingly easy to get into their heads.  I’ve no idea why!

Music or silence?

Both.  When I’m writing I need silence; I find music too distracting (because I’d want to listen to it, and that would disturb my writing concentration).  But music has helped me in other ways; I’ve had some wonderful ideas – including finding the answers to some of my biggest writing dilemmas – when I’ve been listening to music whilst away from my computer.

Are your characters based on real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?

There’s quite a lot of myself in some of my characters, and some of the episodes in my books are inspired by real events.  But I wouldn’t dare to base any of my characters on anyone else.  I’d have no friends left!

Thank you so much, Sue, for stopping by today. We wish you all the best for your upcoming release!


Finding Nina front cover.jpg

FINDING NINA is already available for pre-order. The book is officially released on 3 June 2019, when there will be an online launch party on Facebook, with guests, competitions and giveaways.  To add yourself to the guest list, click here then select “Going”.  See you there!



1943: A broken-hearted teenager gives birth in secret. Her soldier sweetheart has disappeared, and she reluctantly gives up her daughter for adoption.

1960: A girl discovers a dark family secret, but it is swiftly brushed back under the carpet. Conventions must be adhered to.

1982: A young woman learns of the existence of a secret cousin. She yearns to find her long-lost relative, but is held back by legal constraints.  Life goes on.

2004: Everything changes…


Sue Barnard Author


Sue Barnard is a British novelist, editor and award-winning poet who was born in North Wales some time during the last millennium.  She speaks French like a Belgian, German like a schoolgirl, and Italian and Portuguese like an Englishwoman abroad.  She now lives in Cheshire, UK, with her extremely patient husband and a large collection of unfinished scribblings.

Her mind is so warped that she has appeared on BBC TV’s Only Connect quiz show, and she has also compiled questions for BBC Radio 4’s fiendishly difficult Round Britain Quiz. This once caused one of her sons to describe her as “professionally weird.” The label has stuck.

Sue’s own family background is far stranger than any work of fiction. She would write a book about it if she thought anybody would believe her.

Finding Nina, which is her sixth novel, is not that book.

Don’t forget to follow her!

Blog   Facebook   G+   Twitter   Instagram   Amazon  Goodreads  RNA


ALSO BY SUE BARNARD: The Ghostly Father   Nice Girls Don’t   The Unkindest Cut of All   Never on Saturday   Heathcliff

TGF frontNGD front

Blog, Book News

Release day Catalyst at Night

By Day
Tessa Robertson
would you do if the mystery to your mother’s death lay with your

Men listen

years of unanswered questions, Mishka Vald sets out to uncover the
skhodka’s involvement in her past. What she doesn’t expect is to
join forces with men who push her to become a double-agent and
confirm her future. While hunting down leads, the ruthless assassin
realizes a life in the shadows is the only way for her to protect
those she loves.


Mishka, forbidden love is worth the pain when it comes to Eddie
Harper, a military man turned cop. Her affection waivers when duty
comes first and she joins forces with an elite Russian soldier,
Alexei Petrovich. With a blackmailer threatening her school love, she
seeks refuge with a fellow assassin, Nickolas Volkov. And when pushed
too far, she’s ushered to a secure location…and straight into the
arms of mysterious handyman, Dylan Kain. As the pieces fall into
place, their mangled order reveals each man’s true intention. Whose
deceit can she accept and whose will obliterate her?


roads lead back to the woman she thought dead—her mother. Now, as
weddings are crashed and alliances tested, Mishka uncovers a deadly
game and the players involved. Her heart, once unable to budge, is
thrust into action, but which man can keep her soul intact?
.99 cents!!**
at Night
skhodka isn’t done with their best assassin yet.


bad for them, as a rivaling mob – the vory – holds Mishka Vald
captive. The real kicker? She’s trapped in her mother’s clutches
with the two men she loves, with no escape from the devious scheme
Alena Vald cooked up to destroy the skhodka.
spiriting across the globe with one man in tow, Mishka comes face to
face with her past. Piecing together the distorted memories would be
easy if someone hadn’t tampered with them.
Mishka slip through the grips of warring Russian mobs for a chance at
a normal life? Find out in Catalyst at Night., the sequel to Assassin
by Day.
Robertson has been landlocked in the heart of Iowa, USA for the
better portion of her life. She grew up on sci-fi and action movies,
but isn’t nearly a ninja…yet. Since childhood, writing stories and
reading have been a constant. Moonlighting in a law firm, she takes
on her favorite cases: criminal. Her stories push the limits of
standard characters and explore the thriller facets of romance and
In her spare time, Tessa attempts to teach her Australian Shepherd and
Golden Retriever new tricks; spends copious time with family; catches
up on her favorite shows; and listens to country music.
the tour HERE
for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway


Book News, Books

Catalyst at Night Cover Reveal

Happy 2019!catalyst banner 2

It will be a BIG year publishing wise for me. The 2nd part of Mishka’s story, Catalyst at Night, releases February 28, 2019.

Universal Pre-order link: Catalyst at Night

A big shout out to Crooked Cat for their brilliant artwork and to Cristina Hodgson for her stellar review!

Here’s the blurb:

Catalyst at Night

The skhodka isn’t done with their best assassin yet.

Too bad for them, as a rivaling mob – the vory – holds Mishka Vald captive. The real kicker? She’s trapped in her mother’s clutches with the two men she loves, with no escape from the devious scheme Alena Vald cooked up to destroy the skhodka.

After spiriting across the globe with one man in tow, Mishka comes face to face with her past. Piecing together the distorted memories would be easy if someone hadn’t tampered with them.

Can Mishka slip through the grips of warring Russian mobs for a chance at a normal life? Find out in Catalyst at Night, the sequel to Assassin by Day.


Score 1 for Hufflepuff

Autumn has graced Iowa yet again. Well, today at least. Tomorrow will probably be hot as hell. For now, I’ll sip on my hot coffee and dream about being on the beach.

Let’s see, what have I been up to? Ah, yes. I finished book 2 in Mishka’s series, submitted it to my pub, Crooked Cat, and received a contract. Time to throw a party: assassin style 😉

But seriously, I find it incredibly difficult to market and that’s a MAJOR part of publishing. I’m not an outgoing person, per se, until I’ve had a few drinks. Thus, making my marketing attempts juvenile compared to others. I do believe success also hinges on my confidence. Obviously, I wish I was as confident and badass as Mishka. That doesn’t happen overnight. At least, that’s what I hear. Still waiting on that to be disproved. I admire and envy the authors who have multitudes of followers, friends, and family members who constantly share the crap out of their work & sell a shit ton. To reiterate, I’m an introvert. Get in my face & I’ll probably give you a death glare as I back away slowly. I try, dear God I try, to step into my pseudonym and engage strangers in my books. I tend to sweat when nervous and then I ramble. A lot. And I second-guess myself and my work because who the f*ck doesn’t? (Am I rambling?)

Being an Indie writer/author means we do a lot of work on our own. Yes, we may have a publisher and small group of others who help us, but the majority is on us. We don’t have publicists, PAs, or agents to find events for us or open doors to radio stations and/or TV channels. Do we then give up? Hell no! Just because a door is closed in our face (and it happens a LOT) doesn’t mean there’s not a window to sneak through.

If you’re new to the Indie world, welcome, and prepare to work your ass off as you climb the mountains of the publishing realm. Most of the people here are friendly and encouraging, but this is real and no longer in your imagination. Having thick skin is a necessity. Every time you fall and get bloodied, get back up and build yourself stronger. When you can look back at the mistakes, brokenness, and defeat, learn from it…yeah, that’s when you’re doing well.

As someone who not only manages a full-time job, but also two (yes, 2) author pages and schedules, it wear you down. I sure as hell want a PA, but the perfectionist in me comes out and shuts that thought down (also the money aspect). I strive to be the best I can as a writer. Oh, and if you were wondering, Tessa Robertson & Skye McNeil are basically the same person. Different author names and genres, though. P.S. Tessa curses a hell of a lot more too…usually….

What does any of this have to do with Harry Potter? I’m going to show my nerd here. I’m a Hufflepuff. At least that’s what the online quizzes and comparing myself to the books say. Let’s go over the traits for a minute.

Hufflepuff is the most inclusive: valuing hard work, dedicationpatienceloyalty, high degree of friendliness and humility and fair play rather than a particular aptitude in its members. The emblematic animal is a badger.

Not to toot my own horn *toot toot*, but I’m almost every inch Hufflepuff. I do believe there’s some Gryffindor and Ravenclaw up there, but I’m hardworking, dedicated, patient, friendly, humble, fair, and loyal to those who earn it. Mess with me and I’ll become that mother-loving badger.

The same can be said in the Indie marketing world. We all belong to one of the four houses. How we introduce the world to our books/writing totally depends on our personalities and traits. I aim to be a little of each house, yes, even Slytherin. In order to make it, we have to step outside of our houses & face the dementors standing in our way of becoming the best author out there.

Comparing yourself to anyone else is pointless. We all write and market differently. The goal is to find your house & build each other up from there. A little encouragement goes a long ways. So, share that post, like that page, follow that website. You never know when it’ll make a difference in your own life.

All right, I think I geeked myself out enough for one day.  I’m off to eat tepid lo mein. ~Feed your inner nerd~



Ode to Love

Deep Love

While chatting with a friend of mine, the subject of love came up. Don’t ask why, but it did. I pride myself with my art of the written word. The same cannot be said with verbalizing my thoughts. I blanked. Utterly and completely lost my brain. It was frustrating and awkward as hell for me. I mean, seriously, I write for (part of) a living. How could I not put a sentence together about how my first real boyfriend got into my brain? It’s simple, really. Love.

Those four letters send me into a bundle of knots. Why? Because I haven’t had the best of luck when it comes to the subject. But back to the original question: How did that guy get in my head/heart all those years ago? Of course, I went with the obvious things I could remember about my high school love. He was a musician who wrote me songs; he accepted me for me; he made me feel wanted; he had a rockin’…er…body (among other things); and when I met his eyes, I felt at home.

I’m happy to say my definition of love has expanded from what my 17yr old brain thought love was. I know you were worried there for a minute. Now, 11 years later, I can see exactly why I fell in love with him. But only after wallowing in how mute I become when the love subject arises, naturally. I’m a writer. I never proclaimed to be good at on the spot questions unless I’m acting at the theater but that’s a whole other blog post we’ll get to another day.

Love comes in different shapes, sizes, and depths. I’ve learned a lot since my first love experience. I posted a link on my Instagram this morning that perfectly describes how I love. I couldn’t come up with the words yesterday during my friendly conversation because… dur… I like to think over responses before I say them. Must be a writer/introvert thing about me. Anyway, I love deep. So deep that it hurts. As you can guess, a heartbreak with deep love is even worse. Sometimes, I hate how I love because I’ve had to learn to box that love away in fear of exposing the power once more. The sad reality is too many use and abuse the love.

I’ll try not to get too metaphorical here, but imagine a castle with a dragon. As per the fairy tale, I’m the queen (Yes, queen. I don’t need a man to rule) inside. In the beginning, the dragon is just a sprite and drawbridge is down. As time progresses and heartache intensifies, the dragon  grows larger and additional walls are built to protect the queen because each man she dares to love steals little pieces of her heart when they leave. It’s a fortress now with an enormous dragon and deadly moat.

So, to answer my friend’s question of how did that guy got my heart and head, I can honestly say it’s because I had rose-colored glasses when it came to what I thought love should be. Love isn’t a guy singing in your voicemail or even a kiss that makes your toes curl. They may be facets that show bits of love, but shallow acts aren’t love. For me, love is accepting someone (as screwed up as they may be) and continuously choosing them. Looks fade, love shouldn’t.

I’m a deep lover. I don’t want to fall in love because I’m afraid of what will happen if/when love fails. I do a lot of divorce law for my day job, but I’ve been jaded by this for a while. Still, I crave love. A deep love like I can offer. It’s the fear of losing that deep love and another chunk of my heart that keeps me from falling. The heart tattoo on my shoulder may look like a tribal thing, but it wasn’t meant to be one. It shows the divots of heartbreak. No matter how one might try to push the pieces back in place, it’s a tattoo just like it’s heartache. You can’t put it back together. You can only hope to find a love that will help fill in the cracks others made.

Maybe, just maybe, there’s a guy out there who can befriend the dragon outside the kick-ass castle. Maybe, he’s patient and won’t give up when feelings are deflected. And maybe, I’ll realize that some guys are worth the pain. I don’t need a prince charming. I can write one of those any day. I’ll take a flawed man with a genuine heart.

Want to know about deep love? Check out this article.

All right, so this is probably the most personal and open blog post I’ve written here. I’ll be sure to post something light next 😉

Enjoy your weekend.


Book Reviews

Book Review: Valentina by Cristina Hodgson

Okay, so I have to post a review on this book because I’m obsessed with Chantelle Rose.


“There’s beautiful…and then there’s you, Chantelle Rose.”

That line is my absolute favorite in this book. A brilliant sequel to add to Cristina’s successes! I read the story in one sitting because it’s THAT good. Chantelle is on journey and wow it takes her everywhere. I’m so happy with how the story unfolded and the man she ends up with because otherwise there’d be a revolt 😉 Looking forward to the third installment to this series. More Chantelle, more Robbie, and much more mystery!

I’d been in a bit of a book slump lately. I’m happy to say, Chantelle brought me out of it. Note, you MUST read book 1, A Little of Chantelle Rose first otherwise you’ll be lost on this story.

So, check out both books in the Chantelle Rose series today. You won’t regret it.



Spring in Iowa

It’s been a little time since we last spoke. I’ve been holing away trying to write the sequel to Assassin By Day. So far, I’m at ~40k words. Yeah, not the greatest given the time-frame, but I’ve been working on other projects as well. Seeing how I put a June deadline to submit on myself, I better start moving on it.

Supposedly, it’s Spring in Iowa. Not buying that line since it snowed yesterday and the windchill is 9F at the moment. I guess that’s all part of living in the Midwest. Ironically, this weird weather kind of makes sense with how I’ve been feeling about writing. Some days, my pen is hot and I’m a writing fool. Other days, I struggle to form words.

At times, it’s downright impossible to get into the writing mode. I’m sure other authors would agree with me. Between day job, mom life, and the rest of life, my stories get put on the back burner. Well, no more. I don’t do resolutions–because they don’t work for me– but it’s mega important to carve out time for my stories.

Now, maybe that I’ve said this, my fingers will fly over the keyboard and my publisher will have the manuscript by May. Fingers crossed 😉

P.S. The working title for my sequel is Catalyst at Night.


Author Spotlights/Interviews, Blog

Never Judge a Cocktail Bar by its Cover

Hello, lovelies! Today, we have a guest author post by Isabella May. Check it out!

Cocktail Bar

Thank you so much, Tessa, for inviting me to appear on your blog today. I’ve written a fair few articles now about my brand new novel, The Cocktail Bar, but there is one subject that my main character, River Jackson, is desperate (with a capital D) to set the record straight about…

Not every cocktail bar is comprised of an alphabetical list from ‘Between the Sheets’ to the ‘Screaming Orgasm’!

In fact, you’ll find neither for sale in River’s bar which takes pride of place (at least in the fictional world… and my head) in Glastonbury’s High Street; the most mystical town in the UK.

Why? Because River likes to think he does things differently, and with a little finesse. He’s recently moved back to the town of his roots (and a whole variety of animosity) after a decade on the road touring every dot on the globe with his band, Avalonia. And he’s collated one epic scrapbook full of recipes to coax the locals away from their cider and in the direction of the Frisky Bison/Pisco Sour/Little Tickle.

Oh, and if you’re after the drabness of the Daiquiri… you’ll only find it in watermelon. Strawberry is sooo yesterday.

River doesn’t do Happy Hour either – well, he does; he just doesn’t advertise it. The last thing he wants is to attract the teenagers and their incessant squeals as they attempt to order, well, Sex on the Beach.

Finally, River will only ever serve you two cocktails of an evening. In his approximate words, the cocktail is to be savoured, not devoured. You wouldn’t eat a three course meal during a production of The Phantom of The Opera at the theatre; in the same way, you’ll never get him serving up more than two cocktails of an evening in his bar.

  1. Then there’s the small matter of the magical Mexican elixir he’s been bestowed with courtesy of a wise and spiritual sage named Mercedes who he ‘just happened’ to bump into while he was hitchhiking from Guadalajara to Tequila. It’s going to change the lives of the first three customers who order it, don’t you know?

One thing is for sure: If you think you’ve experienced it all when it comes to cocktail bars… River Jackson’s take on mixology will leave you shaken AND stirred!


And if this has whet your appetite to find out more about the unconventional tipples that appear in River’s Somerset-based bar – and Mercedes’ very important contribution to it, here’s the blurb for the book:

Rock star, River Jackson, is back in his hometown of Glastonbury to open a cocktail bar… and the locals aren’t impressed.

Seductive Georgina is proving too hot to handle; band mate, Angelic Alice, is messing with his heart and his head; his mum is a hippie-dippy liability; his school friends have resorted to violence – oh, and his band manager, Lennie, AND the media are on his trail.

But River is armed with a magical Mexican elixir which will change the lives of the Three Chosen Ones. Once the Mexican wave of joy takes a hold of the town, he’s glad he didn’t lose his proverbial bottle.

Pity he hasn’t taken better care of the real one…  – universal Amazon buying link



Isabella May lives in (mostly) sunny Andalucia, Spain with her husband, daughter and son, creatively inspired by the sea and the mountains. When she isn’t having her cake and eating it, sampling a new cocktail on the beach, or ferrying her children to and from after school activities, she can usually be found writing.

As a co-founder and a former contributing writer for the popular online women’s magazine, The Glass House Girls – – she has also been lucky enough to subject the digital world to her other favourite pastimes, travel, the Law of Attraction, and Prince (The Purple One).