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Krysten Lindsay Hager, YA Author:  Best Cozy Christmas Movies to Relax
Wednesday, December 6th, 2023

I write young adult clean and wholesome romances and love cute movies that give you a cozy feeling. There’s no better way to take the edge off a rough day than escaping into a sweet holiday setting with a feel-good vibe. Some of these have romance and one is laugh out loud funny. Hope you enjoy my picks. Would love to hear your favorites in the comments.

Christmas Flow: If you liked my pop star romance Cecily Taylor Series, you might enjoy this one with a rapper and writer who embark on a fake relationship after a mishap. They’re complete opposites with him getting in trouble for misogynist lyrics and her working for a feminist blog. It’s a unique take on the opposites attract trope. The lead actress in this was great.

Muppet Christmas Carol: I will forever love this one and watch it every single year. I’m also incapable of saying the word, “mittens,” without singing the line from the movie. Every single song in it is a banger and Rizzo is a national treasure. I like the Dickens story, but this version is the best.

All I Want for Christmas: This one is from the 90s and has Lauren Bacall as the grandmother. Ethan Embry is the lead character who is a kid wishing his divorced parents would get back together. If you love Christmas movies set in the city, then you’ll love this one. It’s set in New York City and has a magical feel.

Christmas in the Wild: Kristen Davis is amazing in this sweet romance about a divorced woman going to Africa on what should have been a trip with her husband only to rediscover herself and her love for animals. Davis does a great job of making you root for her happiness and want to adopt an elephant. Seriously, I was afraid of elephants before this movie and now I’d lay down my life for a baby elephant.

A Castle for Christmas: Brooke Shields is a well-known author who winds up in Scotland after a meltdown during a TV interview. She finds a castle her grandfather used to work in and wants to buy it and there’s a cute enemies- to- lovers trope with the castle owner. This one is worth watching for the cute inn she stays in and overall cozy feel. This one appeals to the romance writer in me. It’s the perfect movie to watch with a hot chocolate and blankie.

A Heavenly Christmas: Kristin Davis again, but this time she’s in limbo (literally) after an accident and she has to work with an angel to bring happiness to a man who is raising his niece after his sister dies. You just want these two to get together so badly and living happily ever after.

Here’s a Christmas party scene from my young adult novel, Cecily in the City, where my main character, Cecily, goes to her pop star boyfriend’s wealthy family’s Christmas party where she feels like a fish out of water and encounters his exes. Cecily in the City won the 2023 Readers’ Favorite Gold Medal Award for Young Adult Romance:

On the day of the party, I was a nervous wreck. I went downstairs and asked my parents if they’d let me take the car to the party.

“I’ll drive you. Partly because I’m nosy and want to see their house up close.” Dad rubbed his hands together.

We headed over to Andrew’s parents’ house. My dad drove me up the circular driveway and I gasped. Andrew’s parents hadn’t just decorated a few trees in the yard—every single evergreen on their lot was lit up and there was a display of cartoon carolers that looked to be six feet tall standing in front of the house.

“Wow, no inflatable snowmen for these guys.” Dad peered out the window. “Cecily, look! Santa is answering the candy door.”

“They have a doorman?”

“No, I mean over in the life-sized gingerbread house. There’s an actual guy over there opening a candy door. It looked like he’s serving hot chocolate. Should I get a to-go cup?” he asked squinting.

“Please don’t. I’m already afraid that security guard over there will ask if I’m lost.”

Dad laughed and told me to call him when I needed a ride home. “And see if they provide doggie bags with tiny quiches and those weird pointy toast things,” he said as I got out of the car.

I took a deep breath as I walked up to the door and said a prayer before ringing the doorbell. A woman answered the door and offered to take my coat. I handed it to her and immediately wanted to grab it back to cover myself because all the women were dressed identically. They all had long turtleneck sweaters that were made of some material way fancier than mine. Meanwhile I was standing there in a V-neck I bought on the clearance rack and that was after I borrowed cash from my mom. And forget regular pants—there were all in velvet or something with tall boots that looked like something out of a horse-riding movie. Oh crap. They all shopped at the same place. My dad’s car payment wasn’t as much as those boots. Actually, our house payment wasn’t either. How did some people have that kind of money to spend on boots?

“Cecily, love, you’re here,” his grandmother said coming over in a wave of perfume. “Now our party is complete. And you brought a gift for the kids. How thoughtful.”

She took the package from me and I explained it was an art set that would be good for a kid between eight to ten.

“It is so important to support the arts,” she said as she placed the box under the world’s biggest Christmas tree. I followed her into the main room expecting to see another big eight-foot tree. Nope, it was even bigger and it was aqua. Where did they even find an aqua colored tree? I was overwhelmed by the expensive leather couches and larger mahogany armoire placed next to a huge stone fireplace.

“Hey Cecily.” Andrew came up and hugged me. “Sorry I didn’t see you come in. One of the little kids spilled their milk and was crying, so I wanted to make sure she was okay.”

So thoughtful. No wonder those girls online attacked me out of jealousy in comments section for being his soulmate in his video. Well, that and the fact he looked like a cologne ad model.

“I feel a bit underdressed,” I said smoothing my hair back.

“Why? You’re wearing the same thing as everyone else,” he said.

Yes, except my outfit was the bargain-basement version. Sort of like how magazines did those stories where they showed two similar outfits and had you guess which one cost twenty-five dollars, and which cost two-thousand dollars and it was always obvious which was which.

“I just feel a bit…out of place.”

“You look amazing as always,” he said and from the way he was smiling at me, I almost believed it. His mother walked over and he introduced me.

“Cecily, what would you like to drink?” she asked. “We have hot chocolate, spiced cider, and—what on earth is she wearing?”

I jumped, but then realized she was staring at someone walking in. Following her gaze, I saw Jeff’s girlfriend, Isla King, walk in wearing a short white leather miniskirt with a tight sparkly red off the shoulder sweater and a Santa hat. She had matching white leather high heeled boots on and you could see the butterfly tattoo on her stomach.

Mrs. Holiday gave a tight smile and smoothed her hair with her hands. “Forgive me, I’m not used to the way you kids dress today.”

“Andrew, be a love and make sure she doesn’t end up in the center when we take a group photo,” she said. She looked over at me. “Was I offering you punch or something? The last few minutes have been a blur.”

I giggled. “I’d love a hot chocolate.”

“There’s my future granddaughter-in-law,” Rev. Holiday said in his booming voice as he walked over to me with Andrew’s father.

Mr. Holiday shook my hand. “Nice to meet you. So happy you could join us, Cecily. It wouldn’t be the same without you.”

The way he focused on me when he said it made me feel like he meant it.

“And now you get to meet the girl he’s always talking about,” his grandpa said.

“Grandpa, you’re embarrassing her,” Andrew said.

“Well, Andy, I want to get this locked down because think of how adorable she’d look on the family Christmas card.” Rev. Holiday laughed. “Cecily, we all wear matching sweaters on it each year, and you’d fit right into the family photo.”

“Oh, am I included in that?” Isla asked coming over with her sister, Danielle, who was always trying to Andrew’s attention.

Mr. Holiday’s smile dimmed a few watts. “Hello Isla. Merry Christmas.”

“Cecily’s still around? Wow, good thing I didn’t take bets on that. I would have lost big time,” Danielle said quietly to Isla as if I wasn’t there. Isla’s eyes widened and she mouthed, “Sorry,” at me.

His dad got called away and I was starting to feel more relaxed as Andrew led me into the den. There was a girl sitting in the corner with perfect bouncy brown hair and luminous skin.

Andrew whispered that was his ex, Suki, and I felt my adrenaline spike. She smiled as we walked in, but her eyes didn’t reflect it. The worst part was that she was sitting there like she belonged and I was the outsider. Andrew introduced us and she nodded as she gave me the once-over.

“Andrew, didn’t you get Cecily anything to drink?” Suki asked in a way that implied he didn’t care enough to make sure I didn’t dehydrate and die.

“My mom’s getting her something.”

“Always passing the responsibility—as usual,” she said kicking him lightly with her expensive looking high-heeled boot.

I knew the, “as usual,” part was to show she had known him longer than me. Being around someone’s ex is always an uncomfortable situation, but it was extra cringe-y now that I knew how close they had been. Mrs. Holiday came in with my hot chocolate, and I wanted to ask her how she could expect me to stay in the same room as his ex, but of course, I just thanked her and sipped at it while trying not to get whipped cream all over my face.

“What did Andrew get you for Christmas, Cecily?” Suki asked.

Way to get right to it.

“We haven’t exchanged gifts yet, nosy,” he said.

“Just wanted to see if you recycle gift ideas,” she said smirking. “Last year he got me an initial necklace.”

I gave a disinterested nod and pretended my hot chocolate cup was the most fascinating thing in the room.

“With his initial on it,” she said with big smile.

It took everything in me not to toss my hot chocolate on her blue-gray cashmere sweater that perfectly matched her eyes. She probably put that necklace around a tiny Andrew doll at her house with candles around it and a bunch of photos of him tacked to the wall like a creepy stalker.

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About the Author

Krysten Lindsay Hager is a bestselling author of YA romances that make you laugh, cry, and swoon.


Krysten Lindsay Hager: How Carolyn Bessette Kennedy Became an Inspiration for Me
Monday, November 27th, 2023

I’ve always loved Carolyn Bessette Kennedy’s bold minimalism style since I was a teenager, and I love how it’s become popular on TikTok and YouTube. In fact, there’s even a new book out about her style. Back in the day, Carolyn Bessette Kennedy was talked about in every major fashion magazine. Notice I don’t say, “interviewed,” or even, “on the cover.” That’s because she didn’t do interviews, cover shoots, or editorials. She worked in fashion and was also a fashion muse and inspiration, and what’s great about her style is how timeless yet modern it is, even though the photos are from the nineties.

Carolyn wasn’t plastered all over the media due to her seeking attention, but rather the fact people couldn’t help but to pay attention to her. It was refreshing then and even more so now as you see people hiring companies that generate articles about up-and-coming celebrities just to get them more attention.

I liked Carolyn’s modern, streamlined style, but I also admired how she conducted herself in public even more. There was a mystery to her that has become even more intriguing in the last few years as there’s very little mystery left to celebrities in the modern world. So, it makes sense that she inspired me years ago when I wrote a short story for my creative writing class in college. I wrote a story called “True Grit Need Not Apply,” about a teen girl dating the son of a popular senator and how they were opposites. I imagined a girl named Emme Trybus who had a bit more of a boho streak than Carolyn (although in the scene below I do reference the exact lip color she used to wear because I tracked it down back in the day—haha), but is thrust into a high-profile lifestyle due to who she was dating.

I wondered how Carolyn dealt with that high-profile life that came with photographers, gossip, and constant judgment. I found it fascinating how she was able to navigate through such a chaotic life. However, in my story, I made the couple teens and gave them different issues (trying to figure out what they want to do after high school, finding their path, and they both have grandparents dealing with health issues.)

My professor gave me great feedback and said it had vibes of Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger, which I hadn’t read at the time but was thrilled to hear. After the semester ended, one of my critique group members, David, told me it was his favorite story of mine, and I should develop it into a novel. I began working on it, but it sat for quite some time due to the fact that I ended up working as a freelance journalist while going to grad school, then getting married, moving overseas, etc. When I came back to it years later, I felt like no time had passes as I was instantly drawn back into Emme and Brendon’s world where they’re falling in love despite being from different backgrounds. I titled it, Dating the It Guy. and was fortunate to get a publishing contract for it.

Last year, I rereleased Dating the It Guy with updates and a new epilogue to show you what happened to the two high schoolers after they graduate from college. I guess I wanted to give them the happily ever after I only wish Carolyn and John could have had.

Excerpt from Dating the It Guy

The next day, I woke with this weird feeling my laptop was going to act up. In fact, when I checked my e-mail in the morning, I was kind of surprised it switched on at all. I figured I was just being paranoid about not getting my rough draft done, or maybe it was because the planet Mercury was in retrograde, but I tried to ignore my feelings. We had the day off from class, so I didn’t start working on my paper until later in the evening. I had just started typing when my screen froze. Feeling panicked, I hit Control-Alt-Delete and restarted the laptop, but the screen went blue and started flickering. What was it doing, and why was there a little gray box on my computer telling me I had sixty seconds until it shut down? Fifty-nine…fifty-eight…fifty-seven… This was just like the episode of As My Children Wept where Samson had to stop the bomb hidden in Sierra and Aristotle’s wedding cake. Did it mean the laptop was going to blow? On the show, the cake blew up, and everybody thought Aristotle was dead…well, until he showed up at Sierra’s next wedding, and was Sierra’s new husband mad…probably just as mad as Mrs. Rae would be when I didn’t turn in my assignment.

“Mo-om! My laptop’s possessed. Fix it!”

“Why don’t you just ask me to get out my fairy princess wand and throw pixie dust on it,” she shot back. “I’d have better luck with that.”

Sarcasm was not cute when you were having a crisis. I tried calling Zach, but his mom said he was working late. I was desperate, so I asked his mom if she knew anything about computers.

“There’s a guy at Mary’s Little RAMs who works on mine. I could give you his number, but they closed at five tonight.”

I hung up defeated. I didn’t know anybody who knew a thing about computers. Oh crap. I did know somebody who knew about computers. Brendon. He had mentioned he took a computer class last semester, but could I call him? Usually, I’d have no problem calling a guy for something, but this wasn’t a normal guy. He was what Margaux would call a “Hottie McHotHot.” Okay, what was wrong with me? He was just a regular person like everybody else. He put his pants on one leg at a time and went to the toilet like everybody else…but I bet his bathroom was super clean and everything in it matched. I pictured the whole room done in some manly, rich-person color like “hunter green” or “maroon.” And there would be lots of dark mahogany—

“Emme? Do you want to use my laptop to work on your paper?” Mom yelled up the stairs.

“It won’t help,” I replied. “I saved it on the hard drive because I’m a loser.”

Freaking Mercury retrograde. I should have known better than to expect a computer to work right. I should have backed up my work or e-mailed it to myself, but no, I was too worried about ordering new lip gloss from Lickity Lips. Now I had no paper, no gloss, and probably after I called Brendon begging him for help, no pride. I called and left a message on Brendon’s phone saying I had a computer questions. He was probably out with some amazing prelaw, premed student who donated blood to anemic puppies and did puppet shows for the elderly while knitting booties for—

My phone buzzed, and Brendon’s name popped up on the screen.

Brendon: Hey, what’s up?

I wrote back and explained about my computer, and he started giving me suggestions, which would have been helpful if I had known what he was talking about. It was like he was typing in Aramaic. He offered to come over, and I went to fix my hair the second I put down the phone. Normally I didn’t do much with my hair. It was long and always seemed messy no matter what I did with it. Kylie always said it was tousled like something out of a magazine, and yeah, sometimes I agreed with her and even loved my hair…and other times I feel like strangers on the street were going to walk up and hand me a hairbrush. My hair had been in a ponytail all night, so I couldn’t wear it down because it had a ponytail holder crease. I wound it into a loose bun and put on my ruby lip stain. I was digging through my hamper for my cutest top when the doorbell rang. I threw it on and ran down the stairs.

“Hey, thanks for coming over,” I said as I answered the door. I told him my laptop was upstairs, and I felt weird, like I was trying to lure him into my bedroom or something. He followed me, and I realized I should have made sure my dirty underpants weren’t half hanging out of my hamper when I shut it. Of course, it wasn’t a cute pair, but the big momma pants. Why didn’t I just wear Little Bo Peep pantaloons?

“See, it does this weird countdown thing when I turn it on,” I said. He sat at my desk and started messing with my laptop while I sat on the bed. I wondered if he washed his hands or used some hand sanitizer because I had this strict “clean hands” policy about my keyboard. I mean, I heard on the news those keyboards were playgrounds for bacteria.

“It’s probably because Mercury is in retrograde,” I said. He stared at me as if I had said, “I was sacrificing a goat in here before you came in, please excuse the stains on my ceremonial robe.” I tried to explain. “It’s the planet that rules communication—never mind. Do you think you can fix it?”

“Not sure yet,” he said. “I think I can retrieve your paper though. Do you have someplace else to finish it if I can’t get this computer to work?”

I started to answer when he said he had brought his laptop over for me to use while he worked on my computer. So I could either go downstairs and type on my mother’s boring laptop and leave Mr. Hotness alone in my bedroom, or I could stay here and work on it while we were in my room. Together. Alone. In my room. I loved the planet Mercury.

Find Dating the It Guy here. It’s free in Kindle Unlimited:

About ​Krysten Lindsay Hager

Who knew all those embarrassing, cringe-y moments in middle school and high school could turn into a career? And who would have thought that daydreaming in math class would pay off down the road?

​Krysten Lindsay Hager writes for teens and tweens about friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, frenemies, crushes, fame, first loves, and values. She is the author of Cecily Taylor Series, the Star Series, and the Landry’s True Colors Series.


Meet Carleen Crossley from HARD KNOX! (Contest & Snippet)
Thursday, August 17th, 2023

UPDATE: The winner is…Steph!

On September 12th, the next book in my new We Are Dead Horse, MT, series, Hard Knox, releases! So, I thought it was time for you to meet my main characters. I’ve included a snippet below for you! In the opening, we’re treated to a bit of Carleen Crossley’s mindset. She’s a woman on a mission to capture the one man she can’t have: Knox Ramsey. Carleen has no inhibitions or shame when it comes to her pursuit, much to the town’s enjoyment.

If you’ve read the books in the Montana Bounty Hunters: Dead Horse, MT, you’ve seen Carleen in some of the later stories in the series. Plus, she appears in Book #1 of the new series, Cold Hard Cash. Let’s just say, Carleen knows how to make an impression.

Hard Knox

Meet Carleen…

Knox Ramsey was a man most folks in Dead Horse, Montana, shied away from. His tall, burly frame was imposing enough. Add the dark eyebrows that seemed perpetually lowered over his nearly black, piercing eyes and his huge, meaty fists, and he made most folks shiver with dread whenever his gaze swung their way.

However, Carleen Crossley wasn’t “most folks.” When she looked at Knox, she shivered the same as anyone, but for a very different reason. To her, Knox was The One.

She’d known it since she was a teenager, working after school to earn money for her cheerleading outfits. Knox hadn’t been the one to hire her—his mother, Dorothea Ramsey, had for no other reason than to annoy her son. Plus, she’d placed Carleen in the front office, doing little tasks that didn’t really need doing in a rough and tumble place like the Ride or Die Body and Repair Shop—like filing (who needed paperwork unless you wanted the grease-grimed fingerprints for a forensics audit), janitorial work (again, years’ worth of engine oil and grease couldn’t be wiped away with a little or a lot of degreasers), and making coffee (she had never mastered making the sludge Knox thought of as an actual beverage).

Even when she’d been sixteen, she’d recognized his appeal by the way her ovaries cramped in his presence. As she’d grown older, she’d noted other “proof,” like how her nipples beaded hard and her cheeks and groin got hot just being in his presence. She could feel him the moment he came into her vicinity. The air hummed with electricity. Her sex gave her warning, too, instantly softening and getting wet. When she turned and met that black gaze, her heart would stutter and then pound. Whatever she was doing, whatever thought was flitting through her mind, ground to a halt as she took him in. Looking at him was like downing a shot of whiskey—bracing and exhilarating.

Knox, with his deadly glare and biker’s windswept hair, was a bad boy through and through. And she had a mighty thirst for the biggest, baddest boy in Dead Horse, Montana.

Too bad the man didn’t feel the same way about her. After years of flaunting her body and seeking ways to slide up against him to tempt him, he still managed to deflect her affections.

Not that Carleen was ready to give up…


If you haven’t already pre-ordered your copy—here’s the link: Hard Knox


For a chance to win your choice of story in the Montana Bounty Hunters series or a copy of Cold Hard Cash, let me know if you’ve read any of the stories, and if you have, which was your favorite?

Ava Cuvay: The End of an Era (Contest & Excerpt)
Wednesday, August 9th, 2023

UPDATE: The winner is…flchen!

Tin Soldier, the third and final book in my Silver Cyborg series releases today. And, while it’s not exactly the end of an era (I was being dramatic when I wrote the title), it is an end.

And I’m oddly conflicted about it.

You see, while I’ve typed #The End# many times in my writing career, this is the first time I’ve concluded a series. And I kinda don’t know how to react.

Silver SoldiersI’m so excited to bring readers the love story between Gage Austin, a cyborg with a machine-gun leg, and Audra Muir, a woman battling the ravages of breast cancer. I’m equally excited to wrap up the over-arching government conspiracy storyline, and I hope I’ve done it in a believable and emotionally-satisfying manner. If you’ve read my short story inside Silver Soldiers, you’ve already been introduced to Gage and Audra. I had fun writing a short story about them, knowing I was going to finish their story in my book. (Don’t worry, you don’t have to read that story if you want to jump right in to read Tin Solder!)

But… I love my characters. I’ve had three books in which to develop my main characters and a few secondary characters and merge them into an on-page family that supports one another, lets each other be themselves, and—of course—teases each other. Maybe this series is subconsciously my slightly-futuristic underground rebel alliance cybernetic version of F•R•I•E•N•D•S. Maybe it’s my way of showing that “family” isn’t always blood, but those with a shared experience who you choose. Maybe I just stumbled into it without realizing what I’d accomplished. Whatever the reason, I’m emotionally-attached to my characters.

*Pouts* I don’t want this to be #The End#.

Is this how it is with a series? It’s not just the storyline that continues from book to book, but a relationship that builds between characters and readers until we feel we know each other inside and out, and love one another because (or in spite) of it? I mean, I’ve read series before, but never given much thought to why I enjoyed them. And that doesn’t mean I’ve enjoyed them more than other stand-alone stories. Or, at least, I think.


When I originally set out to write the Silver Cyborg series, it was only ever going to be three books. And continuing to write past that conclusion feels a little like watching Natasha Romanoff in the “Black Widow” movie after I watched that character die in “Avengers: End Game.” I’ve already said my emotional goodbye, even as I hate to let go, and resurrecting that character feels… weird.

Whatever the case, I’m not ready to say goodbye to my Silver Cyborg family. But, I kinda gotta. Could I write a few more novellas for the secondary characters who didn’t get their HEA story told? Yes. Will I? I’m debating. Should I? Well… I guess that’s up to my readers, isn’t it?

I hesitate to write those stories, mostly because I have a dragon shifter series to finish. Two more hawt dragon shifter brother books and my Star of the North Dragons series will be completed. And that will be another family I love that I have to say goodbye to. Another knife twisting in my heart, thank you very much.

Makes me want to write only stand-alone stories.

That’s not true… I’ve loved writing my series and want to do more.

So, give me a few days to mourn, to pout, to wail… (after all, I am dramatic 😉 But also help me celebrate. I have a new book out! I have a series filled with awesome characters who I adore! I have stories I hope readers will relate to and immerse themselves into!

And, because any writer worth her salt is this way, I have more stories banging around my head that need to be written. So, even though I’m saying a fond farewell to my cybernetic rebel alliance (for now), this certainly isn’t THE END for me 😉

For a chance at an ebook version of Tin Soldier, comment with your preference: stand-alone or series, and why.

Tin Soldier

The Army shuffled Staff Sergeant Gage Austin off to a menial desk job at the Pentagon as hush money… as if he’d admit to anyone he’s a cyborg. Society abhors cyborgs, so Gage keeps to himself and suffers the daily humiliation of an extensive security scan with stoic fortitude. He’s a soldier down to his core processor and would willingly give his all—red blood and blue lubricant—for the land he loves. As such, he accepts the task to locate and safely retrieve missing Pentagon assistant Audra Muir. Yet as sparks sizzle between them, Gage questions whether he’s delivering her to salvation… or doom.

Audra Muir has spent years pilfering secrets about corrupt government oversight of the cybernetics industry under the guise of her job at the Pentagon. As she leaves for breast cancer treatment, she happens upon earth-shattering intel. Determined to hand this information over to the people who will wage that particular war, she battles her own personal recovery and rages against a society that can make a cyborg, but can’t save women from breast cancer. Yet when Gage Austin kisses her, that anger dissipates, replaced by a passion that just might deliver her flagging faith in humanity… and herself.

Gage and Audra find peace from their own inner demons within the heat of each other’s arms. But defeating the evil that is ruining the cybernetics industry is a far bigger enemy, and requires the force of a secret band of rebels and their hidden cyborg army.

Book Three of the Silver Cyborg Series. This story has a romantic happy ending and a resolution of the storyline continuing through books one and two.

Excerpt from Tin Soldier

“David spoils us with his cooking.” Doc patted David’s hand, then squeezed it. “Among other things.”

Audra smiled at the look of utter adoration Doc sported whenever he glanced at the other man. Did the others see it as well? It was the same expression they each wore whenever they looked at their beloved. Very likely the same expression she had when she looked at Gage.

Did that mean she loved him?

“All those years cooking at the firehouse come in handy.” David shrugged off the compliment, but he winked at Doc.

“I only have years of patting people down and handcuffing them.” Adam offered as he dipped his taco into the adobo stew. “Not sure what I offer the group is on par with you, David.”

“Those skills are for me, alone.” Eve glared at Adam, then jerked. He grunted, then shot her a smirk. Had she just kicked him under the table? “Don’t you dare share.”

He appeased her with a quick kiss on the lips while the others merely chuckled at the innuendo.

Audra chewed slowly, savoring the delicious meal and the comradery, made all the more intimate and serene by the greenery and flowers surrounding the dining area of the bunker. The ceiling screens had switched to early dusk mode, so a light pink digital sun dipped down the horizon of one end of the bunker while a digital half-moon and a galaxy of twinkling lights hovered in the expanding darkness at the other end. Strands of merry lights draped around the dining perimeter like warm hug, lending a halcyon summer picnic vibe that oozed contentment. How could anyone stress about the wrongs of the world above when immersed in the languid peace of this setting?

She’d only met these individuals today, and yet they settled under her skin like comfortable old friends. Friends she’d never had because her life had always been upended and embattled and dangerous. And this past decade of having to isolate herself from humanity…Knowing what little bit of each person’s history they’d shared with her, the others here had suffered much the same. They knew what it was like to live a lonely life on the sharp edge of danger, fearful the secrets in their hearts and bodies would be discovered.

Before they’d found each other, everyone at this table had lived with a mutual trauma that no doubt strengthened the bond they had. And they’d accepted her without question.

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About Ava Cuvay

Ava Cuvay is an award-winning bestselling author of out of this world Sci-fi and Paranormal Romance featuring sassy heroines, gutsy heroes, passion, and adventure… often set in a galaxy far, far away. She resides in central Indiana with her own scruffy-looking nerfherder and kiddos who remind her daily she’s not nearly as cool as she thinks. She believes life is too short to bother with negative people, everything is better with Champagne, and Han Solo shot first. When not writing, Ava is thinking about writing. Or wine. And she’s always thinking about bacon.

Anna Taylor Sweringen/Michal Scott: Edmonia Lewis – An Artistic Pioneer (Contest)
Wednesday, July 26th, 2023

UPDATE: The winner is…Nancy Brashear!

“I was practically driven to Rome in order to obtain the opportunities for art culture, and to find a social atmosphere where I was not constantly reminded of my color. The land of liberty had no room for a colored sculptor.”

Thus, Edmonia Lewis was quoted in the December 29, 1878, New York Times‘ article: “Seeking Equality Abroad. Why Miss Edmonia Lewis, the Colored Sculptor Returns To Rome – Her Early Life and Struggles.” While saddened by the familiar story of trials and tribulations faced by African Americans in this era, I am nevertheless heartened that Edmonia Lewis refused to let adversity keep her down.

Born on July 4, 1844 of African-American and Native American heritage, Edmonia was orphaned by the age of nine, but had two aunts and her half-brother Samuel to care for her. Samuel struck it rich in the California Gold Rush and was able to finance her education. She attended New York Central College from 1856-1858 then Oberlin College in 1859 where she was one of 30 students of color. A white mob, believing she had poisoned two students, beat her and left her for dead. Exonerated of those charges, she was later accused of stealing paint brushes and a picture frame. Even though cleared again, the college refused to let her re-enroll for her last term in 1863, thwarting her chances to obtain her degree. In 2022, Oberlin awarded her a degree.

She relocated to Boston in 1864, where she received the patronage of abolitionists like William Lloyd Garrison. Sculptor Edward Brackett became a mentor and helped her to set up her own studio. She sculpted and sold images of famous abolitionists on medallions made of clay and plaster. Her first real success came from the bust she created of Colonel Robert Shaw, the white officer of the all-black 54th Massachusetts Infantry Civil War unit.

She traveled to Europe and settled in Rome by 1866. While there, she created one of her most famous works, The Death of Cleopatra. It was shipped back to the US and displayed at the Centennial Exhibition in 1876. In 1877 while in Rome, Ulysses S. Grant commissioned his portrait from her. Edmonia remained in Rome where she could work without always having to combat the hostility of being Black and Catholic.

Life in Europe was no paradise, however. Sexism against female sculptors, regardless of race, was rampant. Nevertheless, Edmonia established herself and created pieces that included, but were not limited to, African-American and Native American themes. Her neoclassical style of sculpting fell out of favor in the 1880s, and Edmonia fell into obscurity. She moved to London in 1901 and died there on September 17, 1907. You can learn more about her and see her work on this website:

Unfortunately attacks these days on opportunities to enable modern day Edmonia Lewises to emerge make her 1878 NYT quote still relevant. For a chance at a $10 Amazon Gift card, leave a comment on Edmonia’s life or on someone who you know persevered despite discrimination.

“The Spirit to Resist” by Michal Scott from Hot & Sticky: A Passionate Ink Charity Anthology

A woman may be made a fool of if she hasn’t the spirit to resist, but what does she do if, for the first time in her life, being made into a fool is exactly what she wants?

Excerpt from “The Spirit to Resist”

Florence lifted her face into the cool of the night and gazed at the stars. The breeze’s gentleness put her in mind once more of Harold’s sweet entreaty.

It’s just that I’d hoped to show you something different, something pretty special. Just for you.

The remembered words caused her nipples to pucker.

From here she could see the Edwards pavilion. It loomed surprisingly stately, given its frivolous purpose. She remembered her silliness with Harold over that tub of strawberry ice cream. A smile twisted her lips. What different, pretty special something had Harold planned just for her?

In her mind’s eye, she recalled control in that woman’s eyes back at Mrs. Wanzer’s. From memory, she reheard the sounds of pleading in the man’s grunting and groaning. The scene reaffirmed what she always believed. For sex to be satisfying, there had to be an exchange of power. Until she found a partner who believed this, too, she’d be a vanilla until her dying day.

She gazed toward the Edwards pavilion again. A similar exchange happened between her and Harold when she teased him. He enjoyed receiving her taunts as much as she enjoyed delivering them. They shared a mutual respect whenever they spoke, whenever they caught one another’s eye, even when no teasing occurred.

He’d had something planned for her tonight. Something different. Something pretty special. Something just for her. What might that something be? Something that said Harold, like Madison Dugger, respected the power of the cunt?

Maybe it wasn’t too late to find out.


Myrenne Mae: Three Coins From a Dead Man’s Pocket (Excerpt)
Thursday, June 29th, 2023

A powerful druis with a thousand-year-old secret. An ancient soul plotting to destroy the barriers between the realms. And a defying love that breaks all the rules.

I can’t help but say–I love that hook. It was probably the easiest part of my book blurb to write, and it encompasses everything this story is, hinting at all the right parts. 

Three Coins From a Dead Man’s Pocket is Book 1 of the Realms of Souls Saga. This fantasy✨ steampunk ⚙️ romance is everything I love in a can’t-put-it-down kind of story:  a damsel to the rescue with a huge 💖(and she can wield a laser whip 😲), a love 📐 in a steampunk world with lots of elemental magic, a little instalove 😍 with an interested suitor who makes her pulse race every time his stormy gray eyes gaze into hers, a glimpse at immortality ☠️ in a complex world 🌍 with an invented religious system, an antagonist who craves power over the realms and doesn’t care how he gets it, and a family uncovered that has their own long-buried secrets…

After that description, how can you not want to read it? 😲

Okay, I hear you asking…but, Myrenne, what is the spice♨️🥵 in this book? Am I going to want to find my SO and, well, you know? 😏

Ahem…how about an excerpt? 

Thorben reached up, brushing a strand of dark hair away from Ava’s face. His fingertips grazed her cheek, cool and rough. Ava’s breath quickened, his caress causing a tidal wave of emotions to rush to the surface. It had been a long time since anyone had touched her in a romantic way. She had had too many responsibilities, too many people depending on her. So, Ava had buried her wants and desires, focusing on who she needed to be; a druis, a niece…a friend. But, being pursued—being desired—for the first time in a long time, made her balk at the position she had allowed herself to be put in.

He leaned forward, his breath cool against her skin, bringing her back to the moment. “Mé talé.” He whispered against her lips. “My treasure.”

Thorben brushed his velvet lips against Ava’s, and she sucked in a quick breath. He paused, waiting. And Ava decided in this moment—this one instance—she was going to claim back something for herself.

Delicately, she pressed her lips against his. He tasted like fresh mint and evening rain. The acceptance of his kiss made him eager, encouraging her to open for him. She allowed him to slide past her lips, exploring her with his cool, firm tongue.

Ava’s fingers tangled themselves in his dark hair and hauled him closer, crushing his mouth to hers. He titled his head, deepening the kiss, his fingers dancing along her ribcage.  His thick tongue swept inside her, along her lips, over her teeth, diving back inside for more. He moaned as her tongue parried his, back and forth, licking at the edges of his lips and planting soft kisses on his mouth.

Thorben’s hands circled her waist, pulling her onto his lap. He was desperately passionate, as if he were hungry for a person’s touch as much as she was. It made her want him more. She broke away from his kiss, pulling his shirt over his head and tossing it to the side. His smooth chest gently shimmered in the evening light, and she again wondered at his heritage.

Catching her wrists, he pressed her palms to his bare chest, his thumbs lightly stroking the backside of her hands. His skin was cool to the touch. He breathed hard, his eyes dancing with lightning. A shaky hand brushed against Ava’s cheek.

“Thorben, are you alright?”

 “Don’t stop,” he whispered, his voice dark agony. “Please.” 


This is not, of course, the spiciest🥵 scene in the book–nope, not by a long shot. But, I can’t give all the goods away at first, now can I? 😏

If I’ve got you hooked and you are burning with curiosity to read Three Coins, let me first say…YAY! Secondly, how would you like to be a beta reader🤔? 

I’m doing one last beta reading session beginning July 1, 2023! If you don’t know what beta reading is, it’s a group of people who get to read books📚 before they are officially published. Beta readers are there for the author to offer feedback, ask questions, and tell their opinions on the characters and plot, helping the author make the book the best it can be! 

Want to Beta read and get your eyes 👀on it before anyone else? Sign up HERE.

You can also read the ENTIRE blurb AND be the first to know when my book releases by joining my email list HERE

If you are curious about how I began my writing journey (It’s an interesting story, actually) you can read my first guest blog on Delilah’s page HERE.

The next stop for Realms of Souls info is my Facebook group. I’ll have announcements for release date, merch, contests, freebies, and other thoughts about characters that I have no idea what to do with. And, occasionally, I feel the urge to make a video. You can hear my ramblings first hand if you follow me on TikTok

Thanks to Delilah for having me on her blog and I can’t wait until I can announce a release date this fall! 

~May your soul fly freely.

Jacinda Hale: Love & Triangle — Blade & Thistle (FREE in KU!)
Friday, June 9th, 2023

Love and triangle. Two fairly innocuous words. But it’s when they’re paired together in that order that they become possibly the two most hated words in all of romance—the dreaded love triangle.

Whether it was Rory trying to choose between Dean and Jess, Bella between Jacob and Edward, or Elena between Stefan and Damon, whoever she ended up with, I always felt a little cheated. I could never decide who was her perfect fit because each guy matched her in different ways. Why couldn’t she have it all?

And then I discovered my two favorite words in romance. Two words so destined to exist side by side, they’re literally smooshed together. WhyChoose!

A few years ago, I was introduced to a whole new (fictional) world where the heroine could have everything she wanted. Hot Boy Next Door… absolutely! Sexy Bad Boy… yes, please! Sweet Cinnamon Roll… come on down! According to the rules of WhyChoose romance, the more the merrier!

When I decided to pitch my hat in the publishing ring and give penning my own romance a try, there was no question it would be a WhyChoose romance. I wanted my heroine to have three men, each one complex and compelling in his own way and each one able to grow with her and fulfill a different need of hers.

So was born Vasenia and her three love interests, Marek, Gaeb, and Ryfin. In Blade & Thistle, my debut WhyChoose fantasy romance, we get the first installment of their exciting, enemies-to-lovers tale. Be sure to check out the blurb and excerpt below and read for free on Kindle Unlimited. I hope you enjoy reading Vasenia have it all!

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Blade & Thistle


Vasenia has hated her life in Eretamia ever since her father, Imperator Supreme of the Sadoran Army, forced her to join him on his military campaign in the gloomy, backwater colony far away from the high society of the capital. But when her betrothed retrieves her for their wedding, she assumes the gods have finally shined their favor upon her.

Until her caravan is attacked along the forbidden, northern border and Vasenia finds herself in a hell far worse than Eretamia and at the mercy of three ruthless warriors. No, not warriors—Harrow demons.

Barbarians. Savages. Harrow demons. Warriors Marek, Gaeb, and Ryfin and their people, the half-fae Itheni, are known by many names but understood by few who live south of the magical border that protects their home, least of all by the Sadoran invaders.

But when the three warriors rescue a Sadoran woman on their trek home, they discover she’s more than just another invader. She’s half-fae too, a descendent of the lost women whose connection to their people was severed by a curse a thousand years ago.

When an ancient bond links her to them, Marek, Gaeb, and Ryfin realize they have no choice; they must bring their enemy home. But if they want to keep her, they’ll have to claim her and bind her to the fae by the only means they have: pleasure.

Excerpt from Blade & Thistle…
All three of them stand together near the entrance staring at me and exchanging words in their language. I try to focus on the things that made them so barbaric to me mere days ago. The blue tattoos marring their thick forearms. The hair on their chiseled jaws. Their undisciplined stance as if they could unleash the savage at any moment. I swallow thickly.

Single words filter to me. I understand tonight and seal before Marek motions to himself, Gaeb, and Ryfin. Gaeb nods in response and looks at me, his face wiped of humor.

I take a deep breath as Gaeb approaches.

“Sen,” he says, and warmth fills me at the name. It’s not an endearment, but somehow it softens me in ways Lucius’ my love never did.

“The ceremony on the dais bound us to one another, but the binding must be sealed.”

I nod.

“Sealing requires us to join the Goddess together,” Gaeb pauses to let that sink in and adds, “all of us.”

I can feel Marek’s attention focused on me even though his face remains in shadow, and Ryfin’s back is to me but his sudden stillness tells me he’s paying close attention to Gaeb’s words.

All of us.

I knew it as soon as I was brought here. What other use is there for a bed as big as this one? I’ve been preparing myself for this for hours.

Gaeb touches my waist, a feather-light touch but enough to send a shiver through me.

These men may not be demons, but they’re still my enemies. My body doesn’t care, though, as a now familiar feeling begins to ride my blood. What is it if not power?

He said the power in the wych elm is within me as well. If I can coax it out, learn how to master it, perhaps I can use it against them. My passion won’t be wasted anymore.

Gaeb tilts his head and narrows his eyes, attempting to read me. “You understand, yes?”

I nod again.

He cups my face, moving closer. The firelight illuminates the warm brown of his eyes, and his irises shine like sunlight through amber. “Do you want this?” he asks, his fingers caressing my cheek.

My consent is a tactic, a strategic maneuver.

But his touch settles and stirs me at once, building within me a heat that both loosens my limbs and tightens every muscle in my body. His thumb lands just below my bottom lip, and my mind empties of everything but this hunger I have for him, for all of them.

“You have to answer, Sen. Do you want to seal the binding with us?”

“Of course, she fucking wants it. I can feel her fae from here, so let’s get this over with.”

Ryfin stalks toward me, and I gape at him, at the foreign words that sounded so clear to my ears. But before he can reach me, Gaeb shoves him back.

“No,” Gaeb says, and it’s the only word I understand before I lose the translation.

Lucius didn’t ask my permission. It wasn’t required. Father betrothed me to him, and a lady of Dora is her family’s to possess and give away. Thus, I was given to Lucius and he took me, and not a care was spared for what I wanted.

I wanted Lucius’ family name, the access to power he could grant me, the security of his position. But had I wanted him? As I want Gaeb and Marek and even Ryfin?

Gods forgive me, the answer is no. I never wanted Lucius.

Someday this will be over. I’ll be returned to Father, to whatever Sadoran nobleman will take Lucius’ place, and to the role my mother was meant to play had she not proved a lovesick fool.

My mother lacked the control I possess. She didn’t merely want the Jacquerran man who wasn’t my father; she fell in love with him. I won’t make her mistake. I won’t fall in love with these men before me.

But I will fuck them. And then I’ll seize the power it gives me.

I stare at Gaeb, steeling my expression. “Yes,” I say.