Nia’s January Must Read: ‘Love Is’ by Tia Kelly

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‘Love Is’ opens with the very ambitious, goal-oriented and purpose-driven Diane Collins in an airport, waiting for a flight after having just endured an interview for a job that is well beneath her abilities and her lofty expectations for herself. She’s got huge plans, but knows that the job, however lacking, could be a stepping stone to where she wants to go, so she’s willing to consider it. As fate would have it, also on that flight, and in need of a buffer between him and his over-exuberant fans, is Warren “the Warrior” Scott, an NBA player with the Boston Celtics. Warren and Diane strike up a conversation and shortly thereafter a friendship that will dramatically change the trajectory of her life.

Unbeknownst to Diane, she is meeting Warren at a pivotal moment in his life and career, and though he may be the biggest thing to happen to her in a long while, her significance (and certainly her value) in his life … well, that remains in question throughout most of the novel.

‘Love Is’ is notable for lots of reasons for me. First, it’s definitely genre-bending. Though there are certainly love affairs and ‘love dilemmas’ in the story, the big questions are raised by how much Diane may or may not love herself and how that self-love, or lack thereof, may lead her into making bad decisions. The love between parents and their children is also a theme that gets a lot of attention from the author and by the time the book is done, the choices parents make for the benefit of their kids, and sometimes to their kids’ detriment is also thoroughly and thoughtfully explored.

But let me get concrete. Here’s what made this book a ‘must-read’ for me:

The Maddening, but “Relatable” Imperfection of the Heroine–I wanted to choke her out a time or two, I can tell you that. I rarely agreed with her choices and a few of them made me want to scream. But here’s one thing I didn’t do: I didn’t doubt that those were choices a woman might make, choices women have made, or choices that even with her flawed reasoning made a certain kind of sense. It is almost the most important thing to me from the beginning of a novel to the end, that I am convinced. And I found Diane thoroughly convincing. She was the friend you know, who you watch make mistakes, but whose mistakes you are powerless to prevent her from making. At one point, I could almost weep for Diane, seeing how she far she had departed from the woman she was in that airport.

The Ambiguity of the Anti-Hero–so there’s a hint for you (and a mild spoiler) by calling him an Anti-Hero. Warren Scott (whose choices reverberate in the lives of characters in several other Tia Kelly novels) is a complicated man. He does incredibly romantic and thoughtful things, and then mind-blowingly despicable things. He is heart-meltingly tender, and then unbelievably callous. But like, Diane, he is real. The realistic nature of the character is only part of the appeal for me, though. I also loved that he was an enigma, not only to the reader, but you also got the sense that he was an enigma to himself–unable to explain his feelings, or process them, unable to discern his own wants and needs; unable to stop himself going down a path that could only lead to pain for himself and others.

The Familiarity of the Themes–the story is in some ways an old and familiar one. And in the traditional telling of this story, Diane could be seen as the villainess, or at a minimum, as being, well, not very smart. But the way the author had the story unfold, you realize the slow steps people sometimes take to almost certain ruin. Only from the distance of a reader are we able to see with clarity how ruinous their choices are, but at the same time, we understand why they the protagonists and participants in the story may not see it.

The Attention to Time and Place–if you were born in the 80’s, or a pre-teen or teenager then, you will recognize all of the cultural references–the clothes people wore, the shows on television, the happenings in the world’s of sports, entertainment, and politics— and you will delight in them. These details were unobtrusively sprinkled throughout, reminding us that the action doesn’t take place in an unspecified ‘modern America’ but in a very definite era. And that era, before social media made the details of everyone’s personal life a Google search away, is essential for understanding a key plot point.  Also, each chapter, rather than being numbered, is named after a song from that era with a title relevant to the unfolding of the action. This kind of thing sets a book apart, and makes it clear that it was the product of thought, rather than an impulsive regurgitation of ideas expressed in a million other books before.

The Bold Conclusion–Around 80 percent into ‘Love Is’, you’re pretty sure you know what’s going to happen. Well, you’re wrong. And that’s all I’m saying.

Disclaimer: the author is a friend and someone I often have conversations with about writing, characters and popular culture and how that impacts what writers write, and what people read. She co-hosted an event with me in Washington DC called ‘Wine with Writers’ which gave us, as well as writers Xyla Turner and Lily Java, a rare opportunity to have face-to-face time with readers and talk about the theme of African American women in fiction, and hear their impressions of our work and characters. It was a super-fun, interesting and eye-opening afternoon and gave us a new perspective on the ways that the things we can write affect real people with real lives. That’s an awesome amount of power and responsibility to have. It still amazes me that anyone would even want to meet writers, just because of our fanciful scribblings about imagined people and their imagined lives. But I don’t think my friend and fellow-writer Tia Kelly would mind my saying that she takes that power and responsibility really seriously.

The seriousness with which she treats that responsibility is clear in ‘Love Is’. Having read everything she’s released, I have to say that this is, hands-down, her very best work.


 

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About the novel:

It took a once-in-a-lifetime bond to teach her what love is, and a once-in-a-lifetime betrayal to show her what love is not… Love Is. A different kind of love story.

Diane Collins had big plans for her life, and hoops star Warren Scott was not among them. He doesn’t want to be the face of the NBA, and she doesn’t care that he is. His reluctance to be part of the limelight disarms her and the two embark on an unlikely friendship that becomes an even unlikelier romance.

Soon, his life is her life – filled with VIP treatment, parties and luxuries beyond Diane’s wildest imagination. But Warren is harboring a secret, and once it’s revealed Diane’s decision to stay or go could change the very fabric of who she thought she was.

From ‘Love Is’:

“I wish you would have rescued me tonight,” he said in a quiet voice.

Diane kept her eyes focused on the rising moon. “I feel like that’s all I’m worth to you.”

“No.” They returned to silence, but several minutes later he added, “I never meant to make you feel like that.”

“I know… sometimes, at least.”

He moved his feet in the water, and it splashed against their calves.

“I just don’t know what this is with you. Between us,” she explained. She inhaled the night air and released it, hoping to let all the bottled-up emotion that was building up out with it. “I can’t do another trip… All of this is lovely, and I know I probably sound ungrateful for saying this after you picked me to be here with you, but… Warren, I can’t keep doing this. Not when I don’t know how you feel. Or maybe I know and refuse to accept it.”

Cada dia que passa eu me apaixono mais por você.”

“Spanish?”

He laughed. “No… Portuguese.”

“Interesting,” Diane said, her voice trailing off, blending with the lapping of water hitting the wall of the pool.

“I probably butchered it a little. Still not always the best at speaking in Portuguese.”

“Planning a trip to Brazil?”

“No. I learned it once trying to impress a girl.”

“Did it work?”

Warren closed his eyes and shook his head. “No.”

Diane stared down at the water, looking at their feet beneath the surface. “What does it mean?”

“It basically means with every day that passes, I fall in love with you more.”

Diane looked up and caught him staring at her.

“I know one thing,” she said, looking into his eyes—a crazy hazel so intense that the color transformed into a bright green within the warm gold and brown iris she was used to seeing. The bold transformation was hypnotic.

“And what’s that?”

“It worked on me.”


 

Read ‘Love Is’ today: on Amazon, on Nook, on Google or on Kobo

An Interview with ‘Taste for Love’s’ Carlos Ortíz!

eCarlos·nig·ma

/əˈnɪgmə/ [uh-nig-muh]

noun, plural e·nig·mas; Chiefly Archaic , e·nig·ma·ta /əˈnɪgmətə/ Spelled [uh-nig-muh-tuh]

1. a puzzling or inexplicable occurrence or situation: His disappearance is an enigma that has given rise to much speculation.

2. a person of puzzling or contradictory character: To me he has always been an enigma, one minute completely insensitive, the next moved to tears.

 *****

Of all the people I met in Tia Kelly’s book, ‘Playing for Love’, the enigma, the one who intrigued me most was Carlos Ortiz. Strong, silent, terse to the point of tactless … but still, incredibly sexy, Carlos had me convinced for a while that Paige was a very, very foolish woman not to snap him up when she had a chance.

Until I realized that temperamentally, they were completely wrong for each other.

But then I wondered, ‘what kind of woman would be right for Carlos, then?’ Thank goodness I get to find that out in ‘Taste for Love’. But before reading the book, I thought it might be interesting to try to break down that steely reserve that makes Carlos the man he is, see whether I might get under his skin a little bit. So Tia Kelly consented to having him sit in the hot seat for minute and answer a few questions about life, Paige and maybe even … love.

So Carlos, let’s go right for the big elephant in the room. You’ve been extremely close to Paige for a long time, and yet romance never developed between you two. Why do you think that was?

We were always better off as friends. I’ll be the first to admit Paige is gorgeous and a beautiful person on the inside, too. She’d be any man’s dream. But from day one she and I connected like brother and sister and that’s where we remained for the most part. Besides, Paige deserved more than what I was into giving back then. I’m happy to see she finally got it.

But interestingly, you never really seemed to develop a ‘romance’ of any kind with anyone else either. Why not?

Never was interested. I didn’t have the time to give a woman long term with my career playing pro baseball. I grew up watching enough happen in my own family to see it takes a lot to make a relationship work. I used to believe that it was always better not to even get caught up in something that was bound to fail.

Has your relationship with Paige changed since she got married?

Not really. I’m still there for her and I know she has my back. Of course she and I don’t spend a lot of time together like we used to, but nothing’s changed. Not where it matters.

How about your relationship with Kenneth? It was strained there for a minute. Has it been repaired?

KW and I will always be cool. He’ll always be my boy.

Okay, let’s get away from the tough topics for a second and talk about more neutral topics. You’re a pretty serious guy, a little unapproachable at times. What makes you laugh?

Unapproachable? *shrug* If you say so. I just don’t like a lot of bullshit… sorry I probably shouldn’t have said that. I have a big sense of humor and love to laugh all the time, but I guess one has to know me to get to see that side of me. My daughter and I play pranks on people all the time.

What makes you sad?

*shrug* I don’t know.

What makes you mad?

When people lie or hurt others.

Enough of the easy stuff. Back to the tough topics. Have you ever been in love?

In the past no.

You’ve been linked to some pretty beautiful women. What kind of woman would it take to tempt you to settle down with just one?

She’d have to have patience and be understanding of who I am, where I am in my life. Love and accept my daughter, knowing I’m a father first. Someone that has her own thing going but would have room for me in her life.

Describe the best day you’ve ever had.

When my little girl got to hear for the first time. I think hearing her own voice scared her at first, but after while she was just so mesmerized by every little thing she heard. She still is.

Describe the worst.

When I almost lost my best friend.

And one final question. Purely hypothetical of course. If it was up to you where you would be a year from today and what you would be doing? And who would be there with you?

TFL civerGood question. I have an idea, but I like to keep some aspects of my life private. Sorry. But I will say if it happens I’ll be happy just like the woman that’ll be beside me.

Thanks for stopping by Carlos. I know this was probably excruciating for you. You’ve earned the distinction of being the least forthvoming interview subject I’ve ever had on my blog! Had you been otherwise, you wouldn’t have been … Carlos, I guess. But seriously, though, I appreciate this tiny peek into the window of your mind.

And just like I promised, I didn’t even breathe a word about a certain someone. Which was easy, since I know I’ll get to read all about it in ‘Taste for Love’!

And since it’s clear Carlos is givin’ us nothin’ I’m going to give you something. Two random commenters to this post will win copies of ‘Taste For Love’!

Happy Reading!

N.

Tia Talks: A Blog Stop from Author of ‘The Love Sessions’

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When I first read your work, the first thing that struck me was the degree of realism in your writing. I thought I was reading a romance writer and by the time I was done I wasn’t sure anymore. If you had to pick a genre, how would you classify your work?’

I guess I should take a moment to confess. I didn’t know which genre I was a part of either. For a while there, I did want to be a romance writer. I loved reading romance and once drove in that lane. My characters started to lead me astray. Now I feel more at ease writing within the contemporary, realistic fiction genre.

How do your stories come to you? Character first, or plot first? Give us an example of one of your favorite characters? How’d they come to be?

Most of the time it would be the characters that appear first. I spend some time getting to know them, to find out what they want to reveal. Usually when a few of the characters interact and marinate in my head, that’s when I get reactions from them that lead to the plot.

As for favorites, I adore Javier Fernández (‘Yours’). Javier appeared while I was writing a story about Teresa. He suddenly appeared sitting on a bar stool the same way the readers met him. I have no idea how he came to be, but when I figure it out I hope I can make it happen again! For me, Javier was just fun. Javier was a guy that knew what he wanted and went after it. The story came to me after meeting him, after Javier led me to it.

So, one of my favorite complicated stories of yours was in your book ‘And Then’. Veronica and Darius—have we really seen the last of them?

Good question. I was actually thinking about them earlier today and wondered the same thing. I am content leaving the whole ‘Love Sessions’ crew where they are, but if I were to ever go back and visit them again I would include Veronica and Darius. I know a lot of readers are wondering what happened to them.

In ‘Playing for Love’ you introduced your readers to the idea that deep love isn’t always romantic love. Carlos and Paige have that kind of love. Tell us more about where you were going with them?

Paige and Carlos get each other and have since the day they met. With the type of friendship they share, that temptation and question of ‘do we or don’t we’ has probably always been there, but they respected their friendship more than curiosity (for the most part).

I shared their bond with readers because I believe all successful relationships need to have friendship at its core, but not all friendships should lead to something more. Hopefully readers will understand what I mean by that once they read ‘Playing for Love.’

The Engagement SeasonWomen readers, I find, are harder on female characters and don’t give them as much room to make mistakes. Has that played out for you as well in reactions to your work? Give us a couple of examples.

I think I develop crushes on some of my male characters when I write them, so I probably go easy on them a little more than I do the female characters.

Actually, I do hear a few grumbles about the women more than the men. For example, Paige and Kenneth Wilkerson (‘Playing for Love’ and ‘The Engagement Season’) both had a LOT of issues. Readers sympathized more with Kenneth’s issues, but were annoyed with Paige. Sometimes I heard how Kenneth’s struggle left a few “heartbroken”, but Paige was considered weak.

I had similar responses about Mya and Shelby (‘The Love Sessions’ and ‘And Then’). Mya struggled with allowing a relationship to develop with her best friend and her being on the fence annoyed readers. Or when Shelby battled her insecurities. The men, however, had challenges readers accepted without complaint.

Perhaps it was how I delivered the characters, but I do think women are harder on female characters. Probably just like I develop character crushes and want the best for my hero/male lead, I am sure some readers do, too.

I have a theory that every writer has a ‘tell’ or several—little hints of who they are creeping into their writing no matter how hard they may try to conceal it, or completely without their knowledge. What are some of your ‘tells’ that keep popping up in your writing?

Something sports related always finds its way into my stories. I can’t help it.

As a fan of your work, I noticed that you often write about loss. What draws you to this theme?

A person makes a random Facebook post about killing off a character and now I am labeled as the ‘loss queen.’ *wink* Actually, I never really thought about it like that. I do know ‘The Love Sessions’ is the most obvious story dealing with loss. I can think of another story or two that involve some sort of loss. Wow, I guess that’s a ‘tell’ of mine, too.

When I do bring a sense of loss into the story, I don’t want it to feel final. I allow it, no matter how bad it hurts ripping off that Band-Aid, because I want to show healing or newness that will follow. It feels tragic at first, but everything has a cycle. As a writer, my characters are living and breathing in my imagination. Of course I want the best for them at all times, but I also understand that to bring that real quality to their stories I need to show all facets of who they are. Some characters will have highs and others will go through lows. In the end, no matter what my characters encounter, they may not have a traditional HEA (happily ever after) but they will find peace.

Sometimes we have to let go and lose something in order to gain what we need the most. Since my characters are realistic, most of them seek some sort of peace after whatever ordeal they encountered on the previous pages.

Taste Calm After StormOkay, back to more lighthearted matters. Carlos. I am just about dying to see this man have his come-uppance and fall deeply and heavily and hopelessly in love. What can you tell us about his upcoming book, ‘Taste for Love’?

I can tell you that Carlos Ortiz has met his match with Shelly Gauthier, Kenneth Wilkerson’s cousin. Carlos and Shelly have always had a love-hate relationship. Carlos loves to tease her, and well… Shelly just hates him. Now that Shelly has scorched the bridge between her and the Wilkerson family (and Carlos, too), Shelly is focusing on rebuilding her life. Carlos will be either an ally or an enemy, depending on whose version of the story you want to listen to.

Carlos is surprising me in ‘Taste for Love’ and so is Shelly. This one is something I have never written before and I think a lot of that has to do with Carlos and Shelly. They are fun to watch together. That’s all I’m going to say about that, but you can check out a few preview excerpts on my blog (tiawithapen.com) to get an idea.

Writers are always told they have to be thick-skinned but I’ve never met one who truly is. Our work is deeply personal to us whether we like it or not. What kind of feedback stings the most?

Oh my goodness, where do I start? There has always been something that stung, but the most difficult feedback has involved Paige. Ever since I released ‘Playing for Love’ I’ve said it is not my best work, but it is my most personal. When I hear feedback that criticizes Paige, I sometimes feel like they are attacks against me even when I know it isn’t. That story was fictional, but I knew Paige the most out of all of my characters. Paige and Kenneth are work-in-progress characters; ones we will see evolve as their series continues. Perhaps some of that critique will change over time.

The other one that came close to stinging were comments made about ‘Yours.’ Teresa Clarke was on the eve of her fortieth birthday and had grown tired of sacrificing her happiness for her adult children. There was a reference during a love scene where Teresa ponders how she will sneak out of the two pairs of Spanx she is wearing while wondering if Javier would notice any of her body imperfections. Her questioning thoughts translated somehow as being insecure and weak. As a forty-year-old woman that’s dating again, I have some of those thoughts and I know a few other people that do as well. I would not consider myself to be weak, just human. So feedback that feels like an attack toward me or someone else will always sting.

Sometimes it surprises me (pleasantly) the things that people glean from my writing. What have you heard from readers about your work that pleasantly surprised you?

‘The Love Sessions’ and ‘And Then’ have drawn out the most surprises. From hearing people feel like it would make their relationships stronger (it was not written as a self-help or relationship book) to just how those characters clicked. I felt it because I knew the characters and story, but to have readers tell me they noticed it, too… that’s special. ‘The Love Sessions’ happened by chance. When I get messages from someone saying they still want more, that is a very big surprise. A writer dreams about the day when someone wants their character to live on forever.

‘And Then’ Author Tia Kelly Drops in with a Few Friends

And ThenHello Nia Forrester readers! Hi Nia! Thanks for inviting me to hang out today to share what I’ve been up to… I’m so exhausted these days from writing, family stuff and more writing. I feel like my eyes are crossing and look forward to a little break during the holidays. Regardless, I am so happy to be in this place and can’t wait to tell you about my latest book And Then.

 

Well a few weeks ago, I released my sixth story Playing for Love.  As much as I love the Wilkersons and look forward to what is ahead in the rest of the series, I knew that particular novel would take readers on an emotional roller coaster. I decided I couldn’t close out 2013 that way… I wanted to make the ride a little bit smoother as we transition into another year. So I decided to release one more novel this month – And Then. It’s not quite a holiday tale, but it is… well… calmer. Kind of. Perhaps I’ll just leave it at smoother.

 

“Smoother?” Shelby asked. “Did you even read The Love Sessions? That was a little much if you ask me and now you want to soften it up?”

Veronica raised her glass and nodded. “Agreed.”

“Excuse me?” I turned around to look at these faces and shake my head. Then I realize the “voices” I hear came from some of my characters. I really think I need to catch up on sleep… I’m hearing and seeing things. Mya Sinclair, Shelby West, Veronica Brooks and Marie Sinclair are talking to me. And I see them.

“You think you need sleep, try working with a husband with an international roster of athletes calling all hours of the day and night. No concept of time zones whatsoever,” Mya chimed in.

I dart my eyes around the table. Wait, table? How did I end up at a table in the middle of a restaurant? I nervously glanced at Shelby who was eyeing me above her salt-rimmed margarita glass.

She murmured. “You’re the one always writing about us eating when we’re together. Why are you so surprised?”

“I do not!” I snap, feeling defensive. Okay, I am not arguing with a fictional character… Am I?

“Just roll with it. You have to pick and choose your battles with these three. I do,” Marie whispered before sliding a bowl of salsa my way. She winked and I politely smile before reaching for a tortilla chip. My hand collides with Mya’s and she laughs.

“Don’t mind her. She’s always stuffing her face,” Veronica joked. “So, what’s this about a new book? I thought you said all you planned to write about in the last one.”

“I did,” I replied. Damn, these are some good chips and salsa.

Mya looked across the table at me with a smile. “I told you.”

I couldn’t help my own grin. These women reminded me of old sister-friends, the kind of friends you want to know are in your corner through good times and bad.

As if reading my mind, Veronica chimed in, “You made sure we experienced our share of both. I wasn’t crazy about how you left things for me in The Love Sessions.”

“Did you read And Then?” I asked.

Veronica nodded and pointed to her e-reader on the table. “I was just telling the girls I might give the rest of your work another chance now. I stopped reading for awhile there.”

“I hope you have some juicy stuff between me and the hubby,” Shelby said as she reached for Veronica’s reader. “May I?”

Veronica handed it to her and Shelby started tapping the screen. Shelby added, “I already one-clicked it. I plan to read it this weekend when I get some free time. Now that I’m on winter break, I can finally catch up on all of my to be reads.”

“I finished it this morning. Pretty slick of you to drop another book like that without telling anyone. I happened to see it mentioned on Facebook that you had a new one out and it was about us,” Mya remarked. “By the way, we need to talk about Carlos.”

“Why does everyone bring up Carlos Ortiz? He was in another series altogether.” I asked.

The ladies exchanged glances with each other, but no one would say anything. The one I counted on to speak up was the most tight-lipped – Veronica.

“Don’t look at me,” she said. “You know that’s not who I am anymore.”

“You’re okay with that?” I asked.

Veronica shrugged. “Did I have a choice? Life happens and we learn from our mistakes. Things could have been a lot worse for me, but I guess with children present and it being the holidays you cut me some slack.”

Slowly a sly smile flashed across her face just as Shelby interjected. “There were little ones in the last one and Tia didn’t hold back.”

“True,” Mya said quietly.

“Wait, do you all think I was that harsh in The Love Sessions?” I ask.

They exchanged looks again until Veronica finally spoke up. “No you weren’t harsh. It was just very emotional. Actually, The Love Sessions was eye opening. At least it was for me. I wish I read it before Darius and I decided to divorce each other. Maybe things would have been different for us.”

Veronica sighed and looked away. Then something made her look back at me and I saw maturity in her eyes that I never noticed before. “I did love him. You never gave me a chance to say it to him, but Darius was my first and possibly only love. I always wondered if I could go back… if you could rewrite The Love Sessions, would you let me tell him? Would it have changed anything?”

The table got quiet. Several servers appeared and placed large platters in front of everyone and the ladies went about eating. I noticed the plate in front of me loaded with one of my favorite dishes… enchiladas verdes.

Marie giggled and pointed to the cheesy, gooey loveliness I was staring at. “Just like you think you know us so well, we know you, too. Thank Shelby for ordering for you. Somehow she knew you would show up.”

I dig in trying to ignore that nagging feeling reminding me that the food could not be real, just like these women are nothing but fonts on a page.

“Really? You want to go there?” Shelby asked, arching a brow high as she looked at me. “If we aren’t real, why bring us back for another book?”

I thought about her question. I wanted to answer her, but I also wanted to sanely respond in a way that would not attract attention if anyone happened to notice me having a conversation with myself in the corner of a restaurant (that was if I really happened to be in this incredible place with delicious Mexican food).

“My last novel, Playing for Love, was a little hard for me to write and release. It picked at some old scabs. I needed that comfort afterward; you know the feeling you get when surrounded by old friends. You all have been that constant this year and there when I experienced some really big moments like the USA Today review. Shelby, you were my first character that I introduced to the world. It feels like yesterday when I imagined you and Matthew walking into Cowboys Stadium.”

Shelby smiled at me and nodded. I looked over at Mya and knew she was still hesitant to open up with me now. She endured so much and I don’t think she understood how much it hurt me to write her going through it.

“I know,” Mya whispered. She reached for my hand and squeezed it. “It’s okay.”

“Mya, you were the one everyone wanted to strangle. Remember? You made it hard for Donovan,” I said. She nodded and I continued, “But I knew that there was more to you. The funny thing is, I believe Donovan always understood you better than I could as the writer. It was the love I felt between you and Donovan that made me want to explore unconditional love. That love I feel like is missing in the media. That’s why I needed to come back home to where it all started, to be around all of you when I closed out the year. I needed you.”

Veronica reached for a tissue and dabbed her eye. And then she cleared her throat and said quietly, “I am glad you came back to us. We needed you, too. Obviously, a lot has changed since The Love Sessions. Seeing where we all ended up in And Then was a great way to bring the series to a close.”

“Who said that was the end?” I suddenly asked. “A few of you are not attached and you know how I am in love with love. Anything is possible.”

Marie groaned and held up both hands. “Someone please take Tia’s pen away.”

A ringing phone was heard above the sudden bickering and I watched Mya reach for it. She answered it and nodded while she spoke. Then she passed me her cell and said, “It’s for you.”

I take the phone and look at it, musing that there I was with imaginary people, eating pretend enchiladas and now taking *insert air quotes* a phone call.

“Hello?”

“Hey Tia! It’s Donovan Sinclair.”

Now this is getting out of hand. “Yes, Donovan?”

“The guys and I are at our favorite spot grabbing a bite and wanted to know if you’d mind swinging by. We have a few questions about this book you just put out about us.”

“Remind her we are lawyers.” I heard in the background.

Crap.

I chewed on the corner of my lip and the ladies shook their heads amusingly. “Sure Donnie. I guess I should ask Mya for the directions?”

“Why? Now you want to ask for help doing something?”

I recognized the voice and realized that either Jackson took the phone or I was on speakerphone. Finally I sighed and gave in. “Give me half an hour to get there. I’m not leaving until I finish these enchiladas.”

Then I hung up the phone, passed it back to Mya and grabbed my fork.

“I heard Donnie’s not happy with this one,” she said, after putting the phone back in her bag. “He managed to get an advanced copy of it and read it the other night.”

Shelby added, “Eric’s not pleased either. You know how he hates our business being put out there.”

I looked at Veronica and she shrugged. “Why are you looking at me? You broke Darius and me up two years ago, remember?”

I rolled my eyes and sighed.

Figures while I was busy trying to finish up my Christmas shopping my characters had a bone to pick with me about my writing.

The server stopped by to place the check on the table and the ladies all looked my way. I shook my head and stood up. “You all looked pretty cozy before you pulled me into this hallucination. I’m sure you can cover the bill.”

 

Now to figure out how to handle the men…

 

Click here to read an excerpt from And Then.

 

About And Then

All’s well that ends well… Or is it? For Donovan, Mya, Eric, Shelby, Veronica and Darius, their guess is as good as anyone else’s. With the Love Sessions workshop behind them, life goes on for the group that reminded others the significance of marriage vows. Now, together they face another important lesson – rediscovering the meaning of love.

 

Donovan and Mya Sinclair’s marriage might appear intact, but something is amiss behind closed doors. Eric and Shelby West battled through their share of storms before, but Shelby refuses to let anything disturb their household again even if her husband invites it into their home. Veronica and Darius Brooks quietly divorced two years ago hoping to close a fifteen-year chapter in their lives, but it’s hard to bury the past when reminders of it pop up every day. While Mya is determined to figure out how to fix the issues in her own marriage, it just might help a few people along the way while bringing old friends back together once again.

 

And Then is the follow up to The Love Sessions, a novel in the Love Sessions series by Tia Kelly featuring: Love’s Rebound, Give Me You, Save Me From You and The Love Sessions.

 

Buy Links:

Kindle

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Social Media Links

http://www.TiaWithAPen.com

Facebook.com/AuthorTiaKelly

Twitter.com/TiaWithAPen

UPDATE: And the Winner is . . . New Release and Book Giveaway: ‘PLAYING FOR LOVE’ by Tia Kelly!

Letting Go (on sale now)

Tineka Gladney, you have WON a copy of Tia Kelly’s ebooks! Please send email to authorniaforrester@gmail.com to specify the format (Nook or Kindle) in which you would want to receive your ebooks!

Sometimes romance needs to be sweet, and sometimes it needs to have that little edge to it. Tia Kelly does both very well, so I was super-excited to hear about ‘Playing for Love’ just because though you never know what you might get with this writer, you do know it’ll be good. Some of you may not know her quite yet, so I’m offering a random reader who comments to this post the opportunity to become familiar with all her work. That’s right, ALL of her work. 

Read and comment on this post and you could win a copy of all Tia Kelly’s work EXCEPT ‘Playing for Love’. That one, I want you to buy right now on Amazon or Barnes & Noble!  

Winner will be chosen on Thursday November 28th, just in time to give you one more thing to be thankful for. And if you’re one of those folks who never win anything, or are too impatient to see whether you might, get her work here.

Description

Kenneth Wilkerson, baseball’s MVP of breaking hearts isn’t in Craymont looking for complications. With an injury that has him sidelined from the game he loves, and the latest scandal in his wake involving a woman who is very much engaged to someone else, the last thing he needs is to get mixed up with Paige Scott.

Paige Scott, a former party-girl, has a very murky past and even murkier relationship with Kenneth’s best friend Carlos Ortiz. Paige knows Carlos watched her go from It-Girl to broken and when she finally healed, he made it clear to her that he would not step aside to let another man in just to do it again.

But Kenneth lets nothing stand between him and what he loves.

Love for the game… his family… and her.

PLAYING FOR LOVE is the first novel from the Wilkersons in Love series. Tia Kelly invites you to come meet the Wilkersons and get ready to fall in love.

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Excerpt:

 “Open the door, Paige,” Kenneth demanded in between knocks.

He pulled up just in time to see her walk into her front door. His athlete’s reflexes were not enough to make it before she slammed it in his face.

Finally the door swung open. “I need you to leave.”

Kenneth pushed himself inside and reached out to tilt her face upward. He felt the dampness on her skin and felt worse.

“I probably shouldn’t have left, but I didn’t know what to expect after last night.”

Paige pulled back, wrapping her arms around herself. “You didn’t know? Or didn’t care.”

Kenneth leaned against the wall and let his head fall back. “Paige, you were drunk.”

“And that makes this better?”

“No, it doesn’t.”

He looked at her while she took a seat at the bottom of her steps.

“Why did you do that?”

Paige looked away, chewing nervously on her lip while tugging at her shirtsleeve. “I don’t know.”

“I think you do.”

“Is that what you do? Psychoanalyze the women you sleep with the morning after?”

“Paige, I don’t have any regrets about last night except for one.”

She looked up and searched his face to prepare her for what he was about to say. “And that is?”

“That I was the only one that actually wanted to be there.”

Paige pulled back and stared at him. “You make it sound like I used you.”

“Didn’t you?”

Paige huffed. “We have to work together until you’re released back to your team. I can’t have this conversation with you every time we cross paths.”

“And you won’t.” He stared back to her and sat on the staircase next to her. “Look at me, Paige.”

She glanced up, releasing the edge of her sleeve. Her expectancy and uncertainty warned him that whatever he had to say, he needed to be careful in how he delivered it.

“Typically, I don’t care about what happens the morning after, but there’s something in your eyes that tells me last night was more than just a one nighter for you.”

“What makes you think that?”

“Because last night scared me, too.”

To get in touch with Tia in cyberspace . . .

Website: tiawithapen.com

Purchasehttp://tiawithapen.wordpress.com/books/

Facebook: facebook.com/AuthorTiaKelly

Twitter: twitter.com/TiaWithAPen