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A Pink Lady Meets The Real World.

La Valencia invited me to paradise.

The Pink Lady, or La V,  as the deliciously pink hotel is affectionately referred to by locals, is a stunning Mediterranean-inspired La Jolla landmark. A place that has personified luxury and old-Hollywood glamour for the past nine decades.

Caroline Kennedy and her daughter stayed at La V just days ago. And if John John’s sister chooses to stay here when she’s in town, well, I want my next main character in a fictional story to stay here too!

I first approached the PR Department about a month ago as research for my next novel. I’ve set all my stories in my hometown and wanted to feature an important scene for novel 3 at the best hotel in San Diego. Pink, charming, and commanding the bluff above the sweeping La Jolla Cove, La Valencia was my only choice.

When they said please join us for an extended visit, I did a little happy dance and called my mom to share the good news. The most charming hotel in San Diego had just welcomed me and a guest for the kind of world-class treatment one hopes for when planning the ultimate romantic getaway. I would bring my guy, Julian, and we would escape our boys for a Valentine’s Day retreat. The very best combination of work and play.

For 3 weeks I counted down the days and envisioned various scenarios of excellence in my mind. It would be EPIC!

And let me tell you, it started off just as awesome as I hoped for.

Julian and I parked his car with valet, checked in, and were escorted to a luxury villa complete with a private balcony, fireplace, living room, sitting room, HUGE bathroom (double sinks, separate marble shower and tub!) and a separate bedroom. I was beyond excited about our spacious bungalow accommodations. With no children claiming starvation or dropping their dirty socks on the floor, the place felt more welcoming than home. Way more welcoming.

Then it got better. Julian sent me off to take a bath and pulled out a secret stash of  goodies. Apparently he’d been planning out his own surprise. He bought special tea lights in the shape of peach blossoms (his nickname for me is Blossom.) He’d gone to a flower shop and picked out the freshest roses. He even went online and studied the bedroom layout to plan how he would set it up.

While I bathed and wondered what the heck he was up to, Julian lined the blossom lights around the headboard, floor, and overhead fan, and placed fragrant pink petals in the shape of a heart on the comforter.

Seriously?!!  What man does that?! I know I’m supposed to let go of my Prince-Charming-Really-Does-Exist Complex, but….

 

 

He blew me away. This was more romantic than even I, with my fairly decent imagination, could have dreamed of. After some alone time and drinks at the La Sala Lobby Lounge overlooking the Pacific at sunset, we made our way to dinner.

Nancy Hirsh, the hotel’s gracious concierge, directed us to one of the best spots to take a picture.

THE MED, is a restaurant reminiscent of a Spanish villa overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, only it’s better, because it’s in San Diego, and because Heath was our waiter. He knew about everything on the menu. When he told me that Japanese divers hand catch the perfect scallops for their menu, I was sold. Scallops, fig compote, brussel sprouts, butternut squash puree. Crunchy, salty, sweet, succulent. Absolutely delicious. I’d rate it as one of the top ten meals I’ve ever eaten.

 

THEN CAME the phone call.

Our babysitter was leaving…immediately. We could either return home, OR, three of our kids and the dog needed to come to Paradise with us.  This was not part of the plan. What romance novel includes three teenage-ish boys and a Jack Russell crashing their Valentine’s Getaway?

My plans don’t ever work out as I expect. Ever. But we are adults. And in all honesty, stories are more interesting when they aren’t perfect.

Disappointment led to the quick realization that parenthood has long tentacles. We needed to embrace the crazy. Smile at the beauty in the beast. And so we did.

Fortunately, La V honestly treats their guests like valued friends. A dog? No problem. Just sign this waiver and bring her on over. Does she need a special doggie bowl? An extra 11, 13, and 15-year-old? No problem, your villa is 1200 s.f. with a pull out couch, chaise lounge, comfy cots, and the doors to the masterbedroom close shut. 

When the boys walked in and saw the flower petals and lighting along with the chilled bottle of champagne and chocolate dipped strawberries, my oldest declared, “We really shit this one, didn’t we?”

“Yes, son, you kinda did, but this is good too. We’re happy you’re here.”

“No you’re not.”

“Ok, we’re not, but you’re all here now and we are going to enjoy our special family time. Have some strawberries, enjoy the fireplace, free wifi, even the TV. Just don’t touch the Champagne. That’s for Julian. He needs it.”

Julian feeling a bit defeated by the arrival of Darby and the children.

The boys devoured the treats and partied it up until sometime around midnight before they FINALLY passed out.

Julian and I went on a 1 am walk along the ocean. My surfer boy talked to me about how the shape of the reefs determines the shape of the waves. They break where it’s most shallow first. It was beautiful, it was romantic, it was real.

In the morning, we were treated to a delicious breakfast with La Valencia’s managing director, Mark Dibella, an incredibly upbeat, sweet-heart of a guy, who shared some of the hotel’s best-kept stories… like the one about the lovely South-African woman who lived there for thirty years until she passed away at 103-years-old. Flirting, fun, and her loving children kept her young. I’m guessing that living in paradise at La V probably added to her joy factor as well.

Thank you La Valencia for a glorious escape. And for adjusting to our family’s shifting needs.

I can already see the scene for my next novel shaping in my imagination. It’s going to be spectacular!

The Case for Romance Novels

My Guest Post for Diana Tierney’s  Creating Herstory Blog

Growing up, Romance Novels meant my 13-year-old self, slinking off to the tiny library inside my Grandma Helen’s condo building in Chicago. I’d sneak a well-worn book with a cover featuring a beautiful, heavily-bosomed woman straddling a gallant horse or traipsing through a grand old-world castle with an equally beautiful man she wanted nothing to do with…that was until he took her in bed one night and had his way with her.

Away from Grandma’s prying eyes, I devoured these books, reading and rereading the sex scenes. I enjoyed every scandalous tale. I mean, I really really loved reading them and imagining myself as that beautiful passionate woman.

At the same time, I was also a fairly serious girl. I earned good grades, took care of my little sister after school, and planned out a future as a broadcast journalist who would save the world one truth-telling story at a time.

I knew those lusty romance novels weren’t REAL books. Real books didn’t tell silly make-believe stories about virgins having life-altering orgasms the first time they made love to a man.

So when my oh-so-serious self, grew up and eventually started writing my own novel, I sure didn’t set out to mimic the secret reads of my early teens. I wanted to write important stories about real women. Women I knew.

But the women I knew were having sex.

In many cases, the kind of love they were making told me something about their relationships. I realized if the characters in my books were going to be authentic, they were going to have to have sex, and the readers would need to see it. It was an integral part of the story.

Still, when I went to publish my first novel and realized the most accurate genre for my book was…gasp…ROMANCE…. I was embarrassed.

I was a genuine writer. My work had meaning, a message, and well-crafted sentences for God’s sake.

IMG_20180118_211515_305Kingston Court, and my spin-off novel, Choosing Hope, also happened to follow romantic relationships, neighborhood gossip, and lusty love scenes. Straight up Romance Novel material.

So I did my research and I changed my perspective. There are plenty of romance books circulating today that are both smart and intelligent. Television shows have progressed too. Sex and the City, Californication, and Girls are three of my favorite examples. Clearly, we have evolved.

Now, when people look at me with a smirk after I tell them my book is a romance novel, or they lift their eyebrows and say something like, “Oh, I don’t read THOSE kinds of books,” I smile politely and think to myself… they have no idea what they are missing out on. Contemporary romance novels have it all…and then some.

Check out Diana’s blog at https://creatingherstory.wordpress.com/about/

 

What did they say???

Choosing Hope went on a blogger tour this past week. 🙂 🙂

That means lots of unbiased reviews!!!!

I think this may be my favorite part of releasing a new book. Here’s a handful of reviews and links:

 Up All Night Book Blog by Jade

“Love Is Not Found When We Lead With Fear” Blush Review

WOW!  My heart is literally in my throat!  Choosing Hope has left me wide eyed and speechless!!

This isn’t a fairy tale my friends.  This is Hope’s journey to find her happiness.  Hope is in a toxic marriage.  Kevin is a selfish, removed “husband” (if that’s what you even want to call him) that, frankly is a big baby.  Hope’s anxiety has become too much to bare and her loneliness is unmeasurable.  Being a mother and a wife with no support is weighing her down endlessly.
Her childhood love, Adrian, resurfaces and he says all the right things.  She risks everything for her true love.  Her decisions are the toughest Ive ever ever seen, but she goes with her gut and makes the move to be with Adrian and his children as well.
The way this author portrays Hope and Kevin’s relationship was nauseating.  It personally struck a nerve with me and I was thrown right back into a time in my life when things weren’t settled.  I related to Hope tremendously, as in her relationship with Kevin.  It’s hard to pull the trigger though… but easier when you have the push.
And that push was Adrian… and can we just talk about HIM?!  OMG you’re going to FREAK OUT when you read how HOT Adrian is!  This dude seriously is super romantic and will make you fall in love with him!
What’s exquisite about Choosing Hope is the message this book possesses.  Every single woman that reads this will take something so very important from it.  That we are all warriors and we can chose our fates and are in control of ourselves.  We are our own boss and we can do anything we put our minds to.
I REFUSE to give ANYTHING away in this AMAZING tale… Because that would be wrong on so many levels, BUT what I will say is that you’re in for a loop and it’s fabulous!!!  Holly Kammier did a hell of a job on this!!  READ IT!

 

 Crazy K.A.L.M. by Kelly Jo Sweeney

My Review

I’m going to start by saying how much I enjoyed this book. I couldn’t put it down. Always a good sign. I found myself tied up in Hope’s life. At times I was cheering her on and at others, I just wanted to give her a really good shake. Sit her down and say ‘Hope, get a grip.’ Of course I was talking about a character in a book, so I had to get a grip myself instead.

This isn’t your usual romance story. This is actually a story about a woman who needs to discover what she really wants out of life. To take control and find her happiness herself, rather than hoping that someone else, some man else, will give it to her.

Hope was believable and it was easy to connect to her and buy into her story. There were times, she seemed to be a little too trusting and a little two willing to smooth things over to keep people happy, rather than thinking about what she wanted. Of course, there are plenty of women who are like this really, so that shouldn’t be surprising.

The whole book and the journey that Hope goes on was, ultimately, very satisfying. Of course, these things are never straightforward or completely easy, but in the end I was pleased with where she went. Highly recommend this slightly different and unusual read.

iScream Books Blog by Kim

Kim’s rating: 5 of 5 iScream Cones

Are you happy in your marriage?
Are you in love with your husband?
Do you have “what if’s” or “could’ve been’s” eating away at you?

Choosing Hope explores if the grass is really greener. If you could leave your husband would life would be ok maybe even better.

Finding that push to make the final decision to tell your husband you want out and you can make it on your own or with that person that “got away.”

Hope found her old high school crush on Facebook and enjoyed the flirting and butterflies. She started then to question the things she didn’t like in her husband and marriage and ignored what could have been fixed. She took the leap and uprooted her life, children and family for her childhood sweetheart.

He was everything more in attention and love then her husband was. He wanted her and to make him a part of her life.

So she gave it all up for him. Did she do the right thing for herself, for her family, for love?
Could she find herself in this new life or is it all falling on top of her?

I was mesmerized by Holly’s writing, how her words captivated me and held me hostage till I finished. I would constantly think about this book throughout the day when I wasn’t reading it.

I contemplated the idea of my own “what if” while I was reading and by the end of the story I was all “Na, I’m good.”

 

Dandelions Inspired by Jen

My Review:

Wow, what a book! I am so happy to be a part of the Choosing Hope blog tour and to bring you my review of author Holly Kammier’s second novel! We’ve all heard the phrase, “the grass isn’t always greener on the other side,” but this novel brings that saying to an entirely new level. Hope is unhappily married to Kevin and they have two sons, one of which is on the Autism spectrum. From the outside, it looks like an ideal marriage and family, however, Kevin is full of mood swings and ultimately it is not a good relationship. When Hope reconnects with an old friend/boyfriend from her childhood on social media, it seems that he has everything to offer her – especially his love and commitment to their second chance at love. But what happens when you take a giant risk for another man and another relationship and then things don’t turn out as expected?

I have to admit that initially, I wasn’t a huge fan of Hope. I felt like she was being unfair and dishonest just considering an affair and was also a little overwhelmed by her focus on how various characters had wronged her in her life. But the more Kevin’s true character was revealed, I disliked him even more and was practically cheering her on to have an affair and get away from her toxic husband.

I liked Adrian from the start, but also kept thinking to myself that it was too be to be true. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop thinking thinking it impossible for this man to still love her so much and be so devoted to their building a life together. Along with this, I found myself aggravated several times at Hope’s swift changes and decisions, wanting to scream at her to slow down and think before acting.

After devouring the entire novel, I found myself honestly moved and pleasantly surprised by the author’s twist on this topic and Hope’s relationships with Kevin, Adrian, her children, and her family. Whether in books, movies, or real life you hear women declare that they do not need a man to be happy, and Hope was definitely the opposite for the majority of the novel. The beauty of Choosing Hope was her perspective gained from the journey of her affair and the end of her marriage, and how much she learned about herself as a woman and a mother. Despite the complete heartbreak and insanity that happens in this novel, Hope is able to come away with a renewed since of self and a love for herself that she had been searching for since childhood.

 

Jenea’s Book Obsession

Choosing Hope is a contemporary romance, but it isn’t your typical romance. It is all sunshine and rainbows, it is a story of a woman who is not happy in her marriage, and reconnect with her high school love. There’s a saying, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, and Hope soon find this out.

Hope has been married to Kevin, they have two beautiful sons, one who is autistic. They live in a gorgeous home, have plenty of money, they travel, and from the outside they are the picture perfect family. However, Hope is not happy, and hasn’t been for a long time. There are secrets in that home they share, and the abuse that Hope endures is awful. Reconnecting with Adrian, her high school love, doesn’t help either. She starts to question her marriage even more, and when she has a family crisis, her emotions get the best of her and she puts herself in a situation that will tear her marriage apart. But Hope pushes ahead anyway.

Hope is a woman who wanted feel loved. Yes, her husband provided for her financially, but not emotionally. She took care of her boys, and they were her world, and that I adored her for. But for what she did with the other man, I couldn’t understand, now don’t get me wrong I didn’t like her husband at all. But then I haven’t been in that situation either, so I was curious to see what she would do. Adrian on the other hand, was caring and sweet and well, perfect, almost too perfect. If that makes sense. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but something about him was just off to me. Oh, I have to mention Hope’s mother, this woman was just amazing, I loved her to pieces. There are a lot of side characters that played parts in this, and enjoyed them as well. Overall, it really was a good group of people.

While Hope’s affair with Adrian was a button pusher for me, the way that Kammier’s has written this pulled me in, I felt Hope’s loneliness and her sadness, and I couldn’t help to want her to be happy. And at first I did wonder if Adrian was her knight in shining armor coming to save her from her situation she was in. But, over time though, that feeling I had about Adrian was right, there was something off with him. This man had some issues for sure… And things got much worse for Hope and with so many things happening, it too me on a roller coaster ride of emotions and suspense leading up to an ending that was pretty fantastic. The epilogue was wonderful and I was so happy to be able to see how Hope made out after everything and what decisions she had made to do with her children and her life.

Choosing Hope is a captivating story of family issues, love and self discovery. I have to say, I was a little worried at the beginning, but this turned out to be an amazing and inspirational story.

Plain Talk Book Marketing Blog by Gillian

My Review

5 Mind Blowing Stars!

Choosing Hope is very well written. The characters and situations felt very real. At first, I thought this was just another romance novel; Insta-love, timid female, alpha male, happy ever after (eye roll), but it turned out to be very unexpected.

The author kept me guessing and made me identify with the characters even though I have never been in their situation.

Hope’s marriage looked great on paper. Her husband provided for her and their two boys. They lived in a big house, took fancy vacations, drove nice cars and seemingly wanted for nothing. But something was lacking between them.

Here we have two broken adults. Conversation and intimacy damaged beyond repair but the glue holding them are their two kids. At times it felt that there was hope for the relationship, but in walked Adrian— Hope’s high school sweetheart.

Adrian appeared perfect! He promised to give Hope everything she couldn’t get in her marriage, but Adrian had a secret that slowly bubbled to the surface.

This is not your average romance novel folks, it is a story about strength and finding the courage to move on after your life plans get shot straight to hell!

 

Book Corner Buzz by Bailey

My Opinion:

I do this with a lot of books but when I see the words romance I pounce on it without reading the blurb so everything came as shock and it was one hell of an emotional roller coaster. I loved it very much and I felt so emotionally drained after it.

So many bad things pile on top of each other for Hope Sullivan and I started to question, who had this much bad luck? I found this book pretty confronting as I am a very young reader and I don’t read many New Adult books so this was something new for me, something to expand my horizons and I feel a little scared.

Never the less I was a great book and so much happens. Bad relations and the life lessons you get out of them and how to get out of bad relationships, because the ones featured in this book were toxic. A big aspect of this novel is anxiety and how it affects Hope so it definitely has some diversity.

After the drama that Hope encounters she is on a journey to self-discovery and heal after it so as a reader I felt a bit of weight come off my shoulders knowing that in the end after a long fight you can only hope for the best outcome.

Throughout it all, I felt so mad at all the characters but you come to understand their flaws and accept them for it. Always remember that you don’t need anyone else to complete you, you are enough.

I recommend this book to 18+ and perhaps if you are a teen in a relationship or a little love struck check this book out to set you back to reality, because living in a perfect oblivious fantasy won’t always pan out like you hope it to.

 

 Devilishly Delicious Book reviews by Christie and Danielle

~Christie’s Review~

4 1/2 Stars

WOW! I knew from reading the synopsis that Choosing Hope would be emotional, but I wasn’t expecting the surprises that Holly Kammier had in store for me. From the outside, Hope seems to have it all, a handsome, successful husband, two wonderful children, and a beautiful home. Appearances can be deceiving. Holly’s husband is distant, cold, and self-absorbed. When her mother has a stroke, Hope is forced to do some soul-searching. To complicate matters, her first love, Adrian, re-enters her life. What started as harmless flirting has the potential for more, especially when Adrian appears to offer her everything her husband, Kevin, seems incapable of. But, is Adrian really everything Hope needs?

I really don’t want to go into much detail as I don’t want to spoil anything. You need to take this journey with Hope. While there is somewhat of a love triangle and romance, there is also suspense and twists you won’t see coming. Choosing Hope is most importantly a novel about a woman’s road to self-discovery and choosing happiness for herself.

I highly recommend reading this one if you love a smart heroine who finally puts herself first to be the best woman for herself and the best mother for her children, then this is the book for you.

 Once Upon A Page by Cyndi Becker

Choosing Hope by Holly Kammier
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

I knew going into this read that it would be intense. Thing was it exceeded the level of drama I anticipated, which was good, but it often left my heart feeling heavy. Choosing Hope can be best classified as a romance suspense, but not in the classical way. The suspense exists in what Hope will decide to do about her unhappy marriage, the near persistent flirtations of her high school boyfriend, and ultimately what will become of these choices. Holly Kammier packs a lot into a mere three hundred thirty three pages, and I was thoroughly engrossed in every single one.

Saddled by a near loveless marriage her life gets more complicated by the re-entrance of a high school boyfriend. Holly Kammier captures the intensity of Hope’s emotions and all that ensues as she finds herself caught up in Adrian’s advances. Kammier creates a rich world as Hope vacillates between her reality as a wife and mother, her role as a daughter and sister, and what becomes of her as she flips everything on end. She’s a women who goes all in, and embraces every up and down that comes her way. There were moments I wondered how she would ever bounce back from events that chipped away at her security and self worth, would she ever recover a semblance of the happiness she reached for, but Kammier does a stellar job growing Hope’s character. She learns and relearns some incredibly hard lessons in life and is reminded that things aren’t always what they seem, but more to the point that if it’s too good to be true, well then it probably is.

The book is as intense as the blurb makes it sound (and then some) and even knowing it’s not a light read, I found myself surprised by the ending. I highly recommend that when you pick this book up you plan to give yourself time to binge read and to contemplate.

 

Eclectic Evelyn by Evelyn Dortch

First, let me say this is not a “romance book”.  I don’t particularly like those sappy, happy ending, formula romance books, so if I have read it you can pretty much know this is not one of those. This is a book about a marriage and an old flame, and so much more. Ever do a Facebook search for your high school boyfriend and think – I wonder what might have been. Ever think –  the grass is greener on the other side; if only I had made a different choice. Ever feel stagnated, overwhelmed, and just bone-weary tired of being everything for everyone. Choosing Hope is a story about a marriage, an affair, and a woman discovering her true self through the twists and turns of her life. It’s not a fairytale, it’s real life so be ready to follow Hope through this journey of what might have been and what really is.

Lamplight Review and Promotion by Corrie H

Our Review:

This was a feel good story in a way for me. A story about a woman looking for herself and stumbling along the way. I was a little all over the place with this read. All of the situations she found herself in I wanted to justify everything and then I wanted things to turn out the other way. There were so many different family dynamics as well which, for me, made the depth of this story so much more. It wasn’t just about Hope and her marital issues…it was Hope and her relationships with everyone she knew that really made this story. She has so many people that love and care for her…truly a lucky woman.

Reading time for Choosing hope was a little over 4 hours for me. This was the first book by Holly Kammier for me and I would definitely try another book by her. It was well written and flowed really well…and easy read for me.

 

Choosing Hope – Release Day

It has been a  journey! I finished the first draft of Choosing Hope about a year and a half ago, and then metaphorically ripped it up and slammed it into the thrash can. It was a perfectly beautiful love story, and it was all wrong.

I needed to go deeper, darker, more twisted. Choosing Hope needed an ending no one could possibly predict.

I tapped into my life experiences, lessons, and observations. When I finished that second draft, I felt incredibly exposed. Naked.

Choosing Hope isn’t dainty or sweet. I wrote about things I haven’t read anywhere else. Showing my manuscript to friends, let alone publishing it, seemed unwise.

I am fully aware, EDGY and BRAVE are two breaths away from  STRANGE and UNNECESSARY.

But I decided to go for it. In my early teens, when I began experiencing daily panic attacks, I came up with a life motto — Do What You Fear.

The result? Fear and Anxiety weren’t allowed to set my limits.

Releasing Choosing Hope is the biggest risk I have taken so far. If it fails, I will have tried my best. If it succeeds, Hope wins.

You can buy it now:

Kindle or paperback on Amazon

Nook on Barnes&Noble

Kobo

 

A broken marriage.

A love affair.

A lie that changes it all…

Hope Sullivan has been with the same man since her freshman year of college. She knows her marriage has its cracks, but she doesn’t realize how much resentment she has buried, or chosen to blame on herself, that is until a family tragedy forces her to reevaluate her long held beliefs.

When her husband isn’t there for her, Hope’s first love steps in and offers her a way out. Adrian, appears to be everything her husband isn’t.

He’s sexy, strong, and fit. He listens to her, sympathizes with her, and makes her feel valued.  Best of all, Adrian lives for spending time with his kids.

Hope’s affair is just the beginning. Her journey inward will require untangling her complicated past and surviving an astonishing revelation.

Her lover is not who he pretends to be.

She’s searching for her happily-ever-after, and no matter how painful the journey, she’ll find what she’s been looking for all along—the chance to choose Hope.

A spin-off from the best-selling novel, Kingston Court.

New and Improved!!!!

OMG!!!!  Choosing Hope’s official book release is less than 2 weeks away. Halloween, October 31. (In honor of my dad’s birthday. He is with me in spirit cheering me on.)

So you’d think with 13 days left to go before Choosing Hope makes its grand debut, I’d be already to go. NOPE!!!

I didn’t like the way the book cover was looking in pictures. As pretty as was, it didn’t POP. It wasn’t catching my eye.

So at the very last moment, I asked my cover designer to take it up a notch… and he did. KAPOW.

Here is the New and Improved cover:

 

 

And if all that gorgeous color wasn’t enough, I thought I’d update my back cover blurb as well. I took a poll on social media and you all gave me wonderful feedback that led to an attention grabbing new blurb.

Thank you for all of your help my friends!!!  You make my books better 🙂

 

“A perfectly beautiful love affair gone terribly wrong. Choosing Hope is a love story, a nightmare, and a lesson to the world all in one.” – Mandy Urena, author of Touchy, Feely, Squeezy: Musings of a Masseuse

A broken marriage.

A love affair.

A lie that changes it all…

Hope Sullivan has been with the same man since her freshman year of college. She knows her marriage has its cracks, but she doesn’t realize how much resentment she has buried, or chosen to blame on herself, that is until a family tragedy forces her to reevaluate her long held beliefs.

When her husband isn’t there for her, Hope’s first love steps in and offers her a way out. Adrian, appears to be everything her husband isn’t.

He’s sexy, strong, and fit. He listens to her, sympathizes with her, and makes her feel valued.  Best of all, Adrian lives for spending time with his kids.

Hope’s affair is just the beginning. Her journey inward will require untangling her complicated past and surviving an astonishing revelation.

Her lover is not who he pretends to be.

She’s searching for her happily-ever-after, and no matter how painful the journey, she’ll find what she’s been looking for all along—the chance to choose Hope.

 

A spin-off from the best-selling novel, Kingston Court.

Love is Winning

Those sturdy walls I mentioned in my last blog, the ones I erected to protect my delicate heart… they have totally crumbled. One hundred percent.

I’ve been uber-mommying my boys all around town rocking out to sappy love songs. I think about my guy, and a smile shimmies across the entire bottom half of my face. The phone bleeps an incoming text message. I lose my breath for a quick second.

Adrenaline, dopamine, serotonin, all those intoxicating bonding chemicals, are in bloom.

Still, our relationship is far from simple. I don’t do simple.

For one thing, Julian doesn’t live in same state. In the beginning, I preferred the distance. Miles gave me boundaries. Two and half months later, I’d much rather see him every day.

Then there’s the timing of our connection. It’s not a meet-cute kind of story.

I am a divorcé who made some disastrous choices not so long ago. As a result of my not-so-brilliant actions, my two boys have been suspicious of any new man in my life, tiptoeing along the line of paranoia.

Then there’s my guy’s history. Julian is a recent widower.

There are rules for wayward divorcés and for men who have lost beautiful young wives. Julian’s former in-laws are upset, they think he is moving on too quickly. Finding someone he cares for is dishonoring their daughter. As for many in my wide circle of friends, they question my judgement of men in general. More than one suggested that before I let my guard down, I hire a private investigator to make sure my guy isn’t dangerous.

Julian didn’t wait the prescribed year of mourning. I didn’t perform any background checks. Neither of us followed directions.

That doesn’t mean I don’t share the concerns others have voiced. They were my own fears before anyone else spoke them out loud. Just writing about it, I can feel myself getting defensive, a sure sign I have doubts. I tell myself, I was in therapy for a year and I know how to spot a bad guy. I have the tools now to make wiser decisions. As for Julian, he took care of his wife who he loved for the two years she was dying. She wanted him to find someone else when she was gone. He deserves to have happiness. We both do.

Despite my doubts, my retorts are valid. Rules that don’t serve the greater good, are often best broken.

Julian has driven 700 plus miles round trip nearly every weekend and washed my dishes after I cooked. He’s helped fix broken stuff around my  house, and cared for me when I got sick with the flu. I’ve taken him clothes shopping and helped him organize his new home.

He has spent time with my boys, and given me the opportunity to hang out with his sons. I have met his family. He’s met mine.

My cautious mother thinks he is a sweetheart. My leery bestie approves. Most importantly, both of my sons enjoy his company, and so far, his boys like me.

And so, I made a conscious choice to let my barricade tumble. Ours is a tangled path, with lots of tender debris. Just the same, love is winning.

Finding Mr. Right

After ending a long-term relationship, I chose to be alone for a stretch of time. I needed to learn myself, and to make sure I fully understood I didn’t need to be rescued in order to survive. With the support of my girlfriends, my boys, and my family, I could make it on my own.

Granted, that’s not really alone. But let’s face it, no woman is an island, and it was as close as I ever want to get.

During my “alone” time, without a husband, boyfriend, or lover to turn to, I pushed for growth. I transformed myself into a decent cook. I started to speak up on my own behalf when I felt wronged (not always, but a heck of a lot more often.)  Most important of all, I learned to draw boundaries around my non-negotiables (check out Brene Brown’s transformitive book, Rising Strong.) During the process, I became a better person.

That said, six months without a romantic partner was enough. This girl needs someone to kiss goodnight and cuddle into in her sleep. So, in the middle of a nerve-inducing book release, managing my boys and their schedules, and growing a small business, I dove into dating.

People say love comes along when you aren’t looking for it, and when you least expect it. That narrative didn’t work for me. I am INcapable of waiting patiently for shit to happen. Once I’ve made up my mind, I go after what I want.

Finding true love became a mission, and I dated a variety of different men: movie star handsome, granola, preppy. Shorter, taller, younger, older. American, foreign. Wealthy, struggling. Fit, unfit, educated, street smart. Funny, serious. Jewish, Catholic, Christian, Atheist.

A lifetime of experiences crushed into a matter of months.

I took advice. My brother-in-law said, never date anyone who drives a BMW. My therapist insisted an evolved woman should not settle for anyone who isn’t emotionally available. My mom said, find a giver. My bestie advised; don’t date a dickhead.

What did I look for? First off, I coveted all those universal wants you will find on any standard dating site: Searching for that elusive mix of chemistry and friendship, someone who likes me and my children, and in turn, I appreciate their inner circle.

Then there are the qualities unique to each individual’s personal history and desires. I grew up in a family that likes to break the rules and test the limits. I needed someone at least a little rebellious, and willing to take risks. While a kind, loyal guy who treated me and my boys well was a priority, the sweet, shy, perfectly behaved boy-next-door, wasn’t going to make the cut.

I got lucky! It seems as if I have found someone who meets all the checkboxes on my superbly researched and well thought-out checklist. I still have armored safety walls built high around my heart, and I am not ready to put a name on it. I will say, however, this new guy is awfully cute and he makes me smile. AND, our shoes…. are a perfect match.

So far, it’s good.

Choosing Hope – Cover Reveal

As many of you know, it has been a long journey to find the perfect book cover for Choosing Hope.

I rifled through about ten cover designs before I NEARLY decided to settle on one that was simply, good enough.  Thankfully I had you all to encourage me to keep going, and my heart wouldn’t let me accept anything but a design that I loved. THIS is that cover:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHOOSING HOPE by Holly Kammier

About Choosing Hope:

Choosing Hope is a harrowing story of passion and deceit, the things we do for love and the rabbit holes we tumble into chasing elusive fairy-tale endings. Dark around the edges with a shocking twist I didn’t see coming, this is the kind of book you’ll be passing around to your friends so you can talk about it. Holly Kammier delivers romance, suspense, and a strong, smart heroine who turns out to be nobody’s victim. Don’t miss this one! – Kat Ross, best-selling author of The Midnight Sea

A broken marriage.

A love affair.

A lie that changes it all…

Hope Rains Sullivan is living the dream—a successful husband, two beautiful young boys, and a charming home in Northern California. She should be happy.  She almost convinced herself she was, until Adrian came along.

Adrian, appears to be everything her husband isn’t. He works with his hands, and is even willing to use them in a fight. He’s sexy, strong and fit, with warm brown skin that alludes to his Spanish background. Best of all, he lives for spending time with his kids. Feeling alone in her marriage, Adrian offers her a way out.

Hope’s affair is just the beginning. Her journey inward will require untangling her complicated past and surviving an astonishing revelation. Her lover is not who he pretends to be.

She’s searching for her happily-ever-after, and no matter how painful the journey, she’ll find what she’s been looking for all along—the chance to choose Hope.

A spin-off from the best-selling novel,  Kingston Court.

I’d love to know what you think! Please leave a comment in the box below.

Book Cover Madness

People ask me at least once a month if it’s hard to write a book. My answer.  It’s not the writing that makes me slide into late-night panic attacks.

Oh no. The MOST stressful part of creating a novel???  The Book Cover Design.

A  cover has a boatload of work to do. It needs to set the mood, draw a reader in, show a story.

When it doesn’t do that….when that picture ain’t  properly tellin’ your thousands of words…. the wrong cover feels like you are stomping all over your awesomeness. All those beautiful sentences you so carefully crafted suddenly seem meaningless.

And then, if you are a tiny bit anxious like me, you start to worry that one or two unusable cover design attempts means you will never get your book cover right. Your entire story is ruined. The whole endeavor has been a gigantic, horrific, waste-of-time catastrophe. CASTASTROPHE!!!!

But THEN, you call your writing bestie and she reminds you we’ve been down this gravely train track before. It will work out. She tells you to breathe into a brown paper bag  – USELESS. She switches tactics and gives you some guidance. You realize you got your vision all backwards  and you conceptualize a clearer, more brilliant cover design.

So you email your talented cover artist with all your magnificent new ideas.  And then you wait. And wait. And wait a little more. And try not to obsess.

But you do obsess. Because, really, how can you not obsess?

In the meantime…you know one thing is for sure –  these are the covers you will most definitely NOT be using.

 

Choosing Hope – Releasing on Halloween

So I’ve decided to do something a lot crazy. I’m releasing my next novel, Choosing Hope, on October 31st.

 

In about 4 months!!!! In-Sanity! The manuscript is written, so no big deal there.

NOW it’s a matter of formatting, designing a book cover, gathering testimonials, and sending out advanced reader copies for reviews as quick as I can. I am literally Choosing Hope in doing this on such a short timeline.

 

Here’s the official book blurb:

A broken marriage.
A love affair.
A lie that changes it all…

Hope Rains Sullivan is living the dream—a successful husband, two beautiful young boys, and a charming home in Northern California. She should be happy. She almost convinced herself she was, until Adrian came along.

Adrian, appears to be everything her husband isn’t. He works with his hands, and is even willing to use them in a fight. He’s sexy, strong and fit, with warm brown skin that alludes to his Spanish background. Best of all, he lives for spending time with his kids. Feeling alone in her marriage, Adrian offers her a way out.

Hope’s affair is just the beginning. Her journey inward will require untangling her complicated past and surviving an astonishing revelation. Her lover is not who he pretends to be.

She’s searching for her happily-ever-after, and no matter how painful the journey, she’ll find what she’s been looking for all along—the chance to choose Hope.

***

I was originally going to release Choosing Hope sometime next year but…. My boys are leaving for the summer and I will have some extra time on my hands, plus my dad’s birthday is on Halloween.

Dad’s not around to read this book, yet I am positive he would get a kick out of me releasing my latest novel on his big day. So this one’s for you Papa! I hope you’re watching over and smiling right now.

Here’s what one of my favorite writers has to say about Choosing Hope:

Choosing Hope is a harrowing story of passion and deceit, the things we do for love and the rabbit holes we tumble into chasing elusive fairy-tale endings. Dark around the edges with a shocking twist I didn’t see coming, this is the kind of book you’ll be passing around to your friends so you can talk about it. Holly Kammier delivers romance, suspense, and a strong, smart heroine who turns out to be nobody’s victim. Don’t miss this one! – Kat Ross, best-selling author of The Midnight Sea 

I am so very excited to share this story with you all!!!

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